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post #1 of 4 Old 11-02-2007, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Old Horse

Alright, another health-related question!
There's a 27 year old gelding where I work, and I'm starting to get concerned about his health... but anyways, I have a simple question this time:
is it normal for a horse to deficate (poop) while he is lying down? If not, what kind of a problem could cause it?
Thanks in advance :)
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post #2 of 4 Old 11-02-2007, 11:42 AM
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Nope, it's not normal. The most likely cause with an old horse is that he's painful and getting up is just too much work.

How is his body condition overall? Does he get around well? Does he lay down regularly?

Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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post #3 of 4 Old 11-02-2007, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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His body condition is great for a 27 year old. He's supposed to be reg'd AQHA, but I honestly think he's an appendix. I have no idea where his papers are if he has any. He was out on pasture for 2 months and put on a ton of weight, and seems to be keeping it on now that he's back in a paddock.
He does lay down regularily, and it seems he has no problem getting back up. He's always bright eyed and bushy tailed to see food coming his way. Right now we are feeding them alfalfa cubes in the morning and 1/3 of a bale of hay each at night. I know, the amount of hay seems excessive, but it's a trail riding facility with a lot of older horses that need the body fat to get through the winter as we don't blanket the horses.
I have never seen a horse deficate while lying down before him, and I thought it was very odd, that is why I posted this. Could it be a sign that his time is coming up pretty quickly?
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post #4 of 4 Old 11-02-2007, 02:29 PM
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The deficating while laying down could be alot of things, not all of them major. I really believe that even though he doesn't seem to have a problem getting up at 27 he most likely has some arthritis that makes it a little painful. But the best thing would be to contact the vet about it. A good general exam and some bloodwork would probably be a good idea just to see if there is something going on that isn't blatantly apparent but that needs to be dealt with.

As for the amount of hay he's getting, unless a horse is obese no one should ever complain about a horse getting too much forage. They are designed to graze on forage for 14-16 hours per day and eat 1.5-3% of their body weight in forage during that time. The more forage, the better for GI health in horses.

However, at 27 he may not be getting as much nutrition from the hay or alfalfa cubes as he did when younger and that's only going to continue to deteriorate as he gets to the age where he's out-living his teeth. Between 28-30 years of age a horses teeth run out of tooth root in the jaw to continue growing up and compensate for the daily wear that they get. This means that during this time you will start seeing teeth that are so worn down that they don't meet well for grinding. They will also just start falling out because there is no more root. This means that forage and feed that needs lots of grinding will be less effective at providing usable nutrition for the horse because chewing is a really really important part of digestion.

Most horses at this age do better if you change them over to senior feeds that are designed to be more easily digestible and to to provide nutrients in the correct balance for senior horses. These complete senior feeds do need to be fed according to the label even though it will seem like so much feed because they include the forage that the horse needs in a form that he can actually make use of. And because there is so much fiber in the feed it is not nutrient dense, meaning that you have to feed those larger amounts to meet their nutrient requirements. Then you treat the hay more as a filler to help keep the horse content. You don't necessarily have to change over right now, but if you see him start loosing weight it would be the best way to handle it. Also, having regular oral exams to make the most of what teeth are there will help you to know when a senior horse is to the point where hay and cubes are just not feasible as the mainstays of his diet due to very inefficient chewing.

Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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