Another Skinny TB - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
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Another Skinny TB

Newcomer - please be kind.

We have acquired an ex-rescue TB, 15.2 hh, who is about a 4 on the Henneke Body Score System. He has been separated from our Stockhorse as he eats far too quickly and started stealing his meals. Needless to say, the Stockhorse is as fat as a tick now.

Wormed last week, checked for ulcers, teeth are good and is rugged for an Australian winter.

I'd like to get the TB to a BCS of 6. Am I feeding enough?

- Oaten chaff 2kgs
- 1/4 cup of canola oil
- 1 flake of good quality lucerne hay
- Turned out on a paddock for the day with medium pick

PM - Soaked feed
- 1.5 kg dry Speedibeet
- 1 kg of Tamworth lucerne chaff for palatability of mix
- 1 kilo of cracked lupins (dry weight)
- Ad lib lucerne hay between 5pm and 6am. I make sure that there is a whole bales worth for him to access.

I've got Hygain RBO and Missy's Bucket on order but is there anything else I can add in the meantime? Any advice would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 07:14 AM
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WELCOME to the Forum!!

I am not familiar with the foods you are offering.
The basics of putting weight on any horse is to offer more calories than the horse consumes in work, play or whatever.
To lose, reduce the calories the horse uses so they burn excess fat losing weight...

So, I would not put a horse, any horse intentionally to a body score of a 6.
5 is optimum, 6 is headed toward, actually somewhat already obese.
With the exception of broodmares pregnant or a servicing stallion... no, just no.

Thoroughbreds are not encouraged to be "fleshy" in appearance.
You are referring to putting several hundred extra pounds on a horses frame, taxing his heart, lungs and organs along with legs, support structures and their hooves...
A horse who looks healthy, absolutely.
A horse who has a crease down its back, spongy ribs not felt and a fat spongy to me that is to much weight and unhealthy for the horse..
Far healthier to have a horse who is fleshed, with lightly covered ribs that you should see when they are moving/running ripple under the coat, flanks that are flat when you look from tail forward, points of a shoulder covered & softly rounded, a neck that blends softly into the wither, but the juncture of neck, shoulder and spine are not bulging with fat deposits which is detrimental to good saddle fit, or a tail-head that looks covered with cellulite and when you touch it your finger sinks in nor a channel with bulbous fat like a river channel down the spine..
To reach your description desires, that is how your horse would look to me...

Equate this with going to the beach and watching those parading past you in bathing suits.
What looks better on either see soft lines with muscle rippling under the skin or fat protruding and wiggling every step taken...

A horse, a Thoroughbred is actually supposed to be between a 4.5 - 5 scoring. True.
Today, so many see fat animals as the norm, it has become the norm but it is not healthy for the animal.
Take 50 pounds and you carry it around all day long for the next 2 days and see if you honestly want to gain that extra weight you carried and could put think about that in relation to your horse, the size and ratio of excessive weight you refer to and his body deals with.
There is a happy medium here I think you should look to for the horses sake.
Sure a true 4 on the scale is thinner than you want...but to add 300 - 400 extra pounds is a huge upswing on the animal.
From a 4 to a 5, a solid 5 is about 200 pounds...more added than that to go to a

Sorry, as soon as the words creases and spongy are in the body scoring description you went from slightly under to tip the scale on the way to obese.
To me, there is a huge difference going from a 5 to a 6...

5: Moderate Neck blends smoothly into body. Withers rounded over spinous processes. Back level. Fat around tailhead beginning to feel spongy. Ribs cannot be visually distinguished but can be easily felt. Shoulder blends smoothly into body.
6: Moderately Fleshy Fat beginning to be deposited. Fat beginning to be deposited. May have slight positive crease down back. Fat around tailhead feels soft. Fat over ribs feels spongy. Fat beginning to be deposited.

I would far rather my horse be a solid 5 on the scale than a 6 and the health concerns extra stress on the body bring hardship and problems your way with greater potential.
I can only say a Thoroughbred is not supposed to resemble a stock horse in being round and pudgy appearing, but is supposed to be lanky, leaner and sculpted long muscle not heavy mass.
What you decide to do to your horse weight wise is something only you will know...I err on well covered, healthy looking but not obese which a Thoroughbred reaching a score of 6 is...
Think carefully and be the advocate for your horse to have lasting good health and less chance of health concerns being obese, even "slightly" brings.

Below are 2 different places and articles on scoring, why you want to be in a certain range for the horses benefit.

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #3 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 07:44 AM
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@horselovinguy :

Lucerne = alfalfa

Lupins = a legume, like peas or lentils:
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post #4 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 09:22 AM
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Core to gaining weight is forage, which it sounds like you have covered. Sounds like he's eating pasture all day and hay all night, and the hard feed doesn't seem to be overly starchy from what I read on them. How green/long is the pasture? You say moderate, but I have no context when it comes to Australia pastures. I imagine Australia as a giant desert. :P Might need to supplement more hay with the pasture?

How long have they been eating this? If possible, a 3rd feeding might help utilize the feed better since he is getting the upper end of feed volume each meal.

6 is probably a little too far the other way; 5 is the middle of the scale for a reason. Is it all weight or do they need more muscle and just appear to be missing weight? What's their exercise like? Sometimes you won't get rid of their 'pointy ends', if that's a concern.

Also a consideration if he's stressed out or active on turnout. Bugs bothering him. Heat won't be a problem this time of year and you say you're blanketing him for winter.

Those are the usual bases to cover.
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post #5 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 09:32 AM
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Basically you are meeting maintenance (body function) needs in what you are feeding without the pasture and ad lib lucerne at night. 17,500 calories going in the feed bucket.

Lets say it is a 50lb bale (22.67kg) as I am not sure of bale weight in Aus. that is 47,500 calories.

You've added pasture as well during the day (8 hours) so 12 pounds as a rough estimate so maybe another 3,000 calories.

If your horse eats all put in front of him and grazes when out then your total potentially for one 24 hour period is

68,000 calories.....

An average 1000 lb horse being raced would need 31,000 approximately to stay muscled and meeting body basic needs with no fat build up.

You need to look at what your horse is actually consuming. Realize he is no longer being raced and unless you are doing elite level competition then you don't want him at that high level (31 to 33,000 calorie diet). You also want to consider the nutritional impact of proteins in excess, deficiency and overload potential of different minerals.
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post #6 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone.

Horselovingguy- yes, I understand your concern here. This is the first TB we have owned and it is hard to get used to their bone structure as compared to an Australian Stockhorse. I'd be happy with a 5 for sure as he is currently very much a 4 at the moment, not a 4.5. I really just want him to be healthy and do the best for him. Thanks again for the information you posted. It is much appreciated.

Moderate pasture here in Australia at the moment is short, green and well- covered. We are in drought here (again) and the area I am in is in green drought. We have had a bit of rain so what is sprouting is fresh.

TB is not eating all the ad lib hay put in front of him each night. A bale at the moment is about 24kg. He is eating around a third overnight. Thanks so much for the numbers QTrBel.

The lucerne (alfalfa) is good quality at the moment. The cracked lupins (legumes) and Speedibeet (beet pulp) are his favourite. I'll be switching from canola oil to rice bran oil when it arrives and Missy's Bucket is a nutrient mix for horses on an Australian pasture.

He has been on this for two weeks so far. I know it isn't long and it usually takes around 60 days to go up a BCS. I was just hoping what I am providing him is enough for him to get there?
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post #7 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 06:35 PM
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Hi & welcome fellow aussie.

Yes, separating your stock horse at feed time is a good move, if you can't supervise/referee. I wouldnt want to purposefully make the horse overweight though(6 on the scale) esp coming into spring, but wouldn't worry if they got too fat occasionally either.

*this goes for your stock horse too. If he is 'mud fat' now, that's not good. Hopefully we will get a good spring this year, and wherever you are, but I'd be a bit concerned if he were significantly overweight going into spring(hoof care practitioner with too much experience of laminitis here...). Remember also that short, stressed grass is far higher in sugar...

You say the horse was checked for ulcers, but to my understanding this cannot be 'checked' reliably(was he scoped? Hind gut too?), and the way racers are fed & managed, I'd assume it unlikely there weren't gut probs. So I'd feed/manage accordingly. I'd be including some gut support. I have found Gastro Aid by Kelato which is recommended by Dr Kerry Ridgeway is great. I'd feed any supps little & often and keep carbs/sugars low.

Horses have small stomachs, can't properly digest too big or rich meals well and the way their digestion works, they may not digest ingredients well when fed only once or twice daily either. This especially applies to grain & other starchy, sugary feed but also applies to fat/oil, which horses need to develop the enzymes gradually to be able to digest. Not actually sure about lupins, how easily digested they may be or not.

So... 3.5kg in one meal is too big. And that there are different things in the morn & evening meal, so he's currently getting oil & lupins only once daily... if you were to feed the same complete mix daily but in 2 - 3(or more) equal meals, that would be far better & the horse would get more out of it.

If you wanted to add some copra meal, this is great for weight, and extra oil wouldn't hurt, but both these I'd add very gradually over a couple of weeks.

I'd also look at his nutrition, as imbalance/deficiency can cause 'failure to thrive' or other health probs. is one great (aust) service/program that can take the headache out of balancing nutrition.

Don't know about Missy's Bucket specifically but aus is a very big place, lots of different conditions so I'd want to do at least a basic diet analysis before working out what nutritional supp may be appropriate. I too use a 'general' sort of supp, designed for Victorian conditions, called 'hoof rescue' from local nutritionist carol Layton.

Last edited by loosie; 07-19-2019 at 06:56 PM.
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post #8 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Tombo2440 View Post
He has been on this for two weeks so far. I know it isn't long and it usually takes around 60 days to go up a BCS.
Can you "see", literally see a difference in him?
Take pictures with camera, with phone but picture document because our eye seeing everyday has a habit of not-seeing small changes occur..
You are far enough in with this feeding if it meets the needs of the horse adequately you should be starting to see changes occur.
Do weight tape or just tape measurements about every 10 days as improvement or decline will be noted at that time interval.
The higher the number you desire...if the horse was a 3 you would see easier the changes...
Being a 4, solid 4 going to a 5...the more the horse has improved with appearance the slower the next change seems to arrive.
But seriously, re-evaluate when you benchmark that 5 and decide then if the animal needs, the secret is "animal needs" more weight or if he truly looks well-covered and thriving.
Like I had said though...a Thoroughbred will never resemble a stock very different animals and how they are built.

loosie is your fellow countrymen and knows, understands far better than I the grazing, and food products available.
Sound advice from her, she has many mouths to feed and has taken from skinny bones to thriving animals herself so gets it.
She also knows what products are readily available their compared to here in the USA.

Best of luck and keep us updated how you're doing with the rehab.

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #9 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Loosie,

He is an ex-rescue that was raced twice as a trotter in his younger days. At 14 now, he was with his last owner for 3 years and she said that he had been scoped after she treated him for while for ulcers. He has been in good condition before - I'd upload photos but struggling to work out how!

On your advice I will change his feeds to the following until I can get my hands on your other suggestions:

AM and PM Feed (twice daily)
- 1/4 cup of canola oil
- 500g cracked lupins (dry weight)
- 700 grams of Speedibeet (beet pulp)
- 500g - 1kg of chaff (either lucerne or oaten or both)

And ad lib lucerne hay between 5pm and 6am.

I'll see if I can order in some GastroAid as well. Thanks again - I'll keep you posted.
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post #10 of 36 Old 07-19-2019, 08:37 PM
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No worries. Where abouts are you(general region)? Because, HLG, it could be the case that I am their 'countryman' in the same way as Alaskans are countrymen with Florida dwellers... Perhaps he's thin from lack of feed generally because of the drought? I know hay has been plurry ridiculous to buy...

I have an OT standy myself (If it's a trotter/pacer, it's STB not TB & HLG while I wouldn't necessarily say the diff between a TB & Australian Stock Horse is huge, Standies are generally stockier, known as 'easy keepers'... when healthy) She came to me thin & scruffy, sucking her tongue compulsively from the track. With addition of the Gastro Aid & a good diet - She only got maybe 2kg lucerne chaff, built up(gradually) to about 2 cups copra meal and the Gastro Aid supp, on top of free choice grass hay/grazing & general nutritional supp all the other horses got too - she bloomed quite quickly! I have had her over a year & a half now, but I have noticed that whenever I have run out of the gastro aid, she goes back to tongue sucking & looking... pained. So I think it is managing, not treating the ulcers. As they're hind gut ones, I don't believe there is any way to actually treat them better though, and I hope, with constant supp & good feed for a while, they will eventually heal.

As said, oil is one ingredient not readily digestible, so I'd just keep it as 1/4 cup daily, divided into the feeds, increasing this only very gradually & pref. over at least one more meal daily. I think there's a lot more than just calories to count being relevant, but on that note, as you can see by QtrBel's sums, he's getting well enough.
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