(Long post - ahh! Also, always remember to discuss with your vet any suggestions you want to try
. =] )
More does not equal better when it comes to 'grain'. I doubt she needs the sweet feed or oil (what kind of oil?) Get her off of that. Feeding her sweet feed has a high chance of counterbalancing your efforts to prevent ulcers, particularly if that sweet feed is starchy. @loosie
has mentioned that the Purina feed is high NSC, so this will likely need to take a hike as well.
Please note that horses are meant to subsist on GRASS. If a grass based diet is not working in warm weather, you need to ask yourself 'What's wrong here? Has she ever had a metabolic issue, colic, or something else wrong with her? Should I deworm? Have I done a manure test for sand/dirt content? Does she need a probiotic? Is she getting a low carb diet with sufficient fiber, fats and proteins? Are her minerals and electrolytes balanced - is she getting too much iron, manganese, or something else?' (Ask the questions in that order, pretty much.) These are questions every horse owner should ask.
Essentially, we need to start all over with her diet, and this will take time. 1) Because you need to 'transition' and 'morph' a horse's diet over time, and 2) because it will take time to see if it is working and she gains weight. If she continues to get skinny or loses more weight, PLEASE seek veterinary advice before it gets out of hand.
Test your grass hay and pasture (take a sample and send it in). When you get the test back, pay attention to ESC and starch (Also look at processed feeds to see if these are included.) These are the two components of hay that cause insulin reactions in horses. You will want to be aware of equine metabolic issues in feeding.
See this thread here: https://www.horseforum.com/horse-nut...inking-808457/
Here is the link referred to: http://drkhorsesense.wordpress.com/2...rget-about-nsc
And one more just for the sake of being thorough: https://blog.biostarus.com/structural-carbohydrates/ It's also good to pay attention to iron and nitrates in your purchased forages.
High protein in grass can indicate high nitrate levels. Pasture with constant manure exposure can have higher nitrate levels - manure releases nitrogen slowly to the soil and it adds up over time. Excess iron is obvious - typically horses with iron imbalance will have an odd red tinge to hairs in the coat, along with the symptoms of mineral imbalance in general (such as unexplained thrush in a dry environment). The problem with iron is that it can be actively absorbed and (along with manganese) also block passive absorption of other trace minerals, thereby forcing the horse to only take in iron.
For balancing minerals (which you should do!), you will not only want to test her food but also her water. If her water is high in iron or other minerals, you can use an RV water filter
on your hose. That's what I do. This is the trace mineral supplement
that I use. You might not need extra selenium - this is where having your hay and pasture tested is VERY helpful. You might also wish to add 1 tablespoon of salt per day for electrolytes (basic non-iodized salt). CA Trace already contains iodine. If she needs anything after that, it's protein, fiber and fats, possibly some probiotics
While you are having your hay tested, I would do this:
- If you suspect that psyllium and deworming are both needed: deworm first, then start psyllium treatment 1 week after.
- The same week that you begin psyllium treatment, start reducing and eliminating that sweet feed and Purina feed from her diet. Remember - reduce by 10% every 2 days, 20 days to fully eliminate this from her diet to be safe.
- When you start reducing the sweet feed/Purina, add 1 flake bermuda grass daily. Every 7 days after that, add another 1 flake bermuda grass until you've reached 4 flakes bermuda daily.
- Add your extra 1 flake of alfalfa in the last week that you're feeding any sweet feed/Purina.
- When your horse is transitioning off of sweet feed/Purina, you need to do some legwork to balance trace minerals and salt and figure out if your new diet will require minerals to be supplemented. After the sweet feed/Purina is out of the diet, you may supplement trace minerals as needed - work up to
the amount your horse needs, introducing over 1 week.
- You might wish to begin adding Manna Pro SWA to the diet at this point - I would. You should only need 2 scoops daily (despite what the label says). You will want to be aware that both alfalfa and SWA contain protein - be careful about this. If it is an issue, reduce alfalfa back to 1 flake and add another flake of grass hay.
The flax in Manna Pro SWA can also have the same effect as psyllium in cleaning out dirt or sand from her gut. That's a very good thing - if your mare is not accustomed to pasture, she might be consuming more dirt and it could be irritating the intestinal lining. If you feed Manna Pro, you might not need to use Psyllium as often.
You should notice changes in the first 4 weeks, and it should be especially noticeable after 8 weeks. Keep a journal of your horse's progress with the Henneke Body Condition Scoring Chart
and give your horse a 'score' each week. Gaining weight is and should be a slow process - accept progress as you get it, but don't force it by thinking you need to add more grain. That's a recipe for disaster.
A note about pasture:
Your horse is meant to eat grass all day, and sometimes it's appropriate for this to be commercial forage. If you suspect the pasture is sugary (which is likely is if it's overgrazed, in drought, etc.) then you need to keep your horse eating more bermuda grass and less pasture. If the pasture is good, then this is the correct way to do pasture turnout for diet: Do this in the early morning (4AM to 9AM) when grass sugar content is at its lowest (grass has been growing - converting sugar into fiber - all night). Do not turn your horse out at the very end of the day, when the grass has been photosynthesizing and creating sugar all day. During times when she is not on pasture, she should have access to grass hay.
Horses and digestion: Horses are fermentation vats and derive many of their nutrients from microorganism activity. Because she went through a drastic change in feed
, her gut microorganisms likely did not have time to adjust and start digesting her new food. Whenever these microorganisms die off, it release toxins into the gut. This can be a problem if they die of en mass.That is why you have to change feeds slowly
and see how the horse reacts. I'm not sure if you did that. Either way, if you weren't able to do that or just didn't know, that's okay - your horse is still here and you can remedy the situation. You can introduce probiotics into her diet for a while to help restore proper digestion. As you might have seen, Manna Pro SWA has probiotics added in. Please note that fat can reduce the amount of microorganisms in the gut - you might be blocking her from properly re-developing a proper microbial population that can break down grasses. This is why I say 'no oil'.
Dry feeds and 'slime factor' vs colic: With anything you feed, be very careful about 'dry, compacted' feeds. Very dense, dry feeds need to be soaked (hay/alfalfa cubes, beet pulp), and processed feeds are best with some 'slime factor'. Add some water and mix it up to prevent colic. Very dense feeds (grass/alfalfa cubes or beet pulp) should be soaked overnight. Your horse is a picky eater? Try adding 1 teaspoon of salt to the supplement dish. If that doesn't work, try 1 tablespoon of Ukele Cocosun.
Horses tend to like the last quite a lot.
Hoping that helps you and gets you interested in equine nutrition. Any articles by Dr. Eleanor Kellon are helpful. Feel free to ask questions! =)