Getting and maintaining horses weight - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 03-18-2020, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Getting and maintaining horses weight

Hi so my horse will be 20 in a couple days she had a very rough year and dropped a lot of weight we moved her to a new place in there is little to no grass we put a coastal round bale out so there’s something for her to munch on all the time and have been buying alfalfa for her she doesn’t touch the round bale much though. I’m just looking for a little advice in guidance to help get her to pack on the last little bit of weight and work on her top line. I’m thinking maybe we need to buy an alfalfa block instead for her to munch on constantly
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post #2 of 14 Old 03-18-2020, 08:29 PM
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Have you had her teeth checked recently? I am a tooth checking evangelist, after fixing my Teddy's teeth turned him from "can't put on weight" to "need to stop feeding now," LOL. He had a particularly challenging problem with his teeth and I had to get a specialist out to see him. Once his teeth were fixed, he started putting on weight.

I also fed him alfalfa hay and also alfalfa pellets. I'm sure @horselovinguy will chime in about her experience with alfalfa cubes, not pellets (if I recall correctly).

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post #3 of 14 Old 03-18-2020, 08:51 PM
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Check teeth and vet appropriately... Triple Crown Ration Balancer and rice bran worked for adding healthy weight for one of our horses who arrived 200 lbs underweight.
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post #4 of 14 Old 03-18-2020, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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Yes teeth just done 3 months back and gained a lot of weight back already also has been vetted
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post #5 of 14 Old 03-18-2020, 10:44 PM
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AC, you know me well....

Yup, alfalfa cubes...soaked.
3 - 4 large handfuls fully soaked in a bucket of water fed should put bloom on the horse, or it did for mine were the words of my vet.
You must feed in more calories than the horse burns a day just being a horse...
Balance the vitamins, minerals and amino acids correctly and if suspected of gut problems pre & probiotics might also be things to consider.
True answers of all this come from blood work done by your vet.
You can have a long, lanky built horse who's near impossible to make "round", in fact round would be obese so look at that possibility too.
Some horses, certain breeds are built to have long, sinewy muscling not bulk, heavy muscle...horses can be just as in shape and not have bulk.
Riding, lots of transition work slowly built up to it will also help to build muscle and top-line.
I believe it is Vitamin E if not in correct amounts that can hinder building a top line...
And is it possible your horse has muscle atrophy and that could also be part of why she does not gain that top-line and is what you see as un-thrifty appearing?

OK, so now that has you thinking, we'll add a bit more...

Teeth- teeth done 3 months ago and after done a marked improvement.
As horses age, once a year is no longer enough, they need checked at least 2x a year at this age for dental issues.
My vet recommends 2x a year routinely, if a problem seen then more often especially for cribbers/wind-suckers as their teeth wear terribly and sometimes the jaw goes off align.

When was she last sand clear product given?
Being in Florida it is common horses eat/ingest sand with grass or hay.
A coating on the intestinal tract will reduce the nutrients being absorbed = reduce thriving from all you are feeding her.
Check her by doing a simple sand test to see if she is sand heavy in her gut and take care of that so reducing risk for a nasty colic and better absorption of her nutrients occurs.

Wormed - last time done, what was used and was a fecal done first to make sure you used the correct product?
Did you do a follow-up fecal to make sure the horse was "clean"?

What kind of feed are you feeding?
Or are you not feeding feed?
How much and do you weigh your feed or feed by scoop and if by scoop how big is that scoop? 2, 3 or 4 qt.?
How many times a day do you feed feed?

Hay -....
Coastal is one of the lower nutrition ones available in Florida but common in the hay rolls produced.
It comes in very fine and wider blades...which one is your round roll?
Did you buy fertilized and enriched hay and was it horse quality or cow hay?
Your horse may smell "mold" and not want to touch the hay if it was left to weather outside and even now not be covered from rain, moisture and fog exposure.
You are buying her alfalfa hay and feeding that to her...fantastic.
How much alfalfa though are you feeding her?
How big is the horse, ? hands high and how many pounds of this hay are you feeding her & how many times a day is she being given this?

So, the other thing I noticed...
Your horse wears a cribbing strap in the picture.
Horses that crib are often "hard-keepers" because they would rather suck air or chomp the wood than actually eating.
And lastly, the flies were miserable all winter long at my place...never stopped biting and my horses never stopped stomping.
Irritation can work weight off a horses frame very quickly...
Weight can fall off the frame very quickly when problems are present, and take what seems forever to get back on and put the bloom back in the horses appearance.
When you say a lot of weight dropped, expect it to take twice as long to put it back on and the last 50 - 75 pounds are the hardest, most difficult ones to make stick.
Frustrating it is!

Things to think about.
Hope that helps some...
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Last edited by horselovinguy; 03-18-2020 at 10:49 PM. Reason: added more thoughts...
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post #6 of 14 Old 03-19-2020, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Last deworm was about 4 weeks ago. She is a 16.2 horse last time I taped her she was around 1100 lbs but still thin mostly top line and her hind end. She eats ProForce Senior 12lbs a day also 2 lbs of soaked beet pulp I weigh everything rather then volume
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post #7 of 14 Old 03-20-2020, 08:09 AM
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How much alfalfa hay is she being fed a day?
You said she has a round roll she barely touches so do not figure in any nourishment from that...

OK..went to Nutrena website and read about your feed.
A 16.2 hand horse should be in the area of 1300+ pounds...your horse is 200+ pounds shy of that.
You need to feed like you are feeding a 1300 pound horse also not the thin one you are or they will never gain and fill-out.
So, to give enough food I figured a moderately working horse under performance since bet you are riding her a few times a week at least...her just breathing burns off weight so once you ride, exercise and add compete weight can melt off. my calculations your horse needs another 4 pounds of feed fed a day minimum.
I also don't do beet pulp fed. Years ago beet pulp was fed to cattle to put weight on them for market.
In horses it added a hanging belly and stole from the topline, just what you wanted in a beef cow!
Unless it is used by the manufacturer of the horse feed, processed special...not going there. jmo.

Did some research for what a average horse of your size and build {from avatar picture} needs to thrive...
16.2 Thoroughbred, 20 years old.
Dry lot with Coastal hay roll horse doesn't eat, but a bite here or there.
Alfalfa hay fed, unknown how much or how often...
Horse wears a cribbing strap seen in picture.
Horse is thin...about 200 pounds underweight.
Your horse needs as a minimum 27,000 calories a day to just maintain, not gain.

Horse is fed Nutrena Proforce Senior which is 1450 calories per pound @ 12 pounds = 17,508 calories
Alfalfa hay is for premium quality like racehorses are fed is 1000 calories per pound, most of us feed significantly less quality so less calories... guessing 750 calories per pound.
Beet pulp @ 1000 per pound = 2000

So reason I list what I list is your horse needs a minimum of 27,000+ calories per day to thrive and be weight correct for her size.
You have a deficit of around 8,000 calories she needs...
You need to feed her at least 10 pounds of alfalfa hay a day or up her feed amount to get more calories in she requires to gain weight.
All of the necessary nutrients are present she needs to thrive in the feed you feed, but either not enough of it or not knowing how much alfalfa you feed she just needs more food.
Being she cribs/windsucks she absolutely is draining off calories be expending energy sucking/gulping as she does...the more confirmed a vice it is the more she depletes her body of needed nutrition as she works to pacify her vice.

I am hoping you are able to break apart her feeding of feed into at least 3 meals a day minimum as the body digests best when not overloaded in quantity shoved through. It is suggested no more than 5 pounds maximum of feed per meal fed...
Hay, let her eat as this is nibble food through the digestive tract.
The longer the food is in the intestinal tract the more the body can reach for the nutrients it is offering...the more you feed at one time the faster food is pushed through by the food following, hence smaller meals is preferred choice to feed her by.
Also since she is in dry lot conditions here in Florida do indeed treat her monthly with a sand clear product since sand in the gut is positively happening and if to much accumulates it coats and reduces nutrient absorption happening, beside the risk for colic from sand reduced.
I would suggest slow feed hay net her alfalfa hay so she has more longer slowing it through her digestive tract and giving her something to a large mat under the area she eats so less sand ingested happens.
Make sure she is fly-sprayed daily so less stomping = less energy/calories consumed by this activity.
A salt block, fresh water always as it is hot here horses sweat like crazy as they are still shedding and nearly 90 degrees these last few days again.

So, more food for thought and things to look into.
You can also look into a higher calorie percentage feed fed per pound...these all have 10% or higher fat content.
Purina Ultium Competition is 1800+ per pound caloric content
Triple Crown Complete or Senior is 1596/1547 respectively caloric content.
You can also add Nutrena Empower Boost @ 1800 calories per pound fed also gives pre/probiotics and gut calmers along with needed daily building block nutrients.
All these products are readily available at Tractor Supply stores in Florida.

It is going to cost you more to fill her up and fill her out no way of getting around it... either a denser feed fed = more claories but cost more per bag or more alfalfa hay fed, on average she must have 1/4 bale a day to really thrive at what you currently feed her food wise if bales are 40 - 50 pounds as is average.

With what you are feeding all the basics should be more than covered, my gut feeling is she just is not fed enough to gain but barely maintain right now.
She is a big horse.
Big horses eat bigger meals because they must.
She also appears Thoroughbred or Appendix possibly and these breeds along with some others require more food fed, they just burn it off faster than idea why.
Good luck...


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post #8 of 14 Old 03-20-2020, 08:55 AM Thread Starter
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Wow you are good yes she is a OTTB, she is a cribbed but literally never tries to crib I just keep the collar on to keep it that way. She getting around 8 to 10 lbs of alfalfa it’s really nice quality it’s the compressed bales I do put it in a slow feeder hay net. The round bale is really just a filler in case she needs to munch as there isn’t much grass
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post #9 of 14 Old 03-20-2020, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by kimberlyrae1993 View Post
. She getting around 8 to 10 lbs of alfalfa itís really nice quality itís the compressed bales I do put it in a slow feeder hay net. The round bale is really just a filler in case she needs to munch as there isnít much grass
Amount of alfalfa sounds good then...
The round bale...can she pull out the pieces?
My round bales are rolled really tight, then with the netting it takes a lot of effort for the horses to get a new roll started well, once they make a "dent" then they chow down...the first day or so though they work way harder to get the hay loose...
Can you help the horse with starting the round roll some? Pull clumps loose..
Depending on how worn her teeth are she may not be able to grab and pull easily from the roll...
Have you tried just giving her coastal hay from a square bale? Will she eat it or walk away?
If she eats it, then figure a way for you to take the rolled sheets of hay off of the roll, stick in hay nets or place on mats and let her have all she wants...

If after doing all you can do and she still not gain..time to call in your vet for a look-see and their help.
I know as a kid, my first horse no matter what we did he just didn't "thrive"...always just a bit off in appearance.
We called the vet in, exam was done and vet gave a injection of think a "B" vitamin, which one I have no idea but it did the trick.
Horse picked up weight, coat took a shine, he was bright-eyed and bushy tailed as my mom would say.
He felt better, he looked better and was a far happier horse making me his owner far happier too.
Double-check her belly for sand in the gut and treat as needed.
Also, since you moved she might need worming again...a fecal would be best though first so you know what she has, if she has and what product to use to treat as products are specific to which worm-load killer.

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post #10 of 14 Old 03-20-2020, 11:43 AM
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So, after all of the number crunching adding this and that and that and this....
In numbers alone she is still not making enough calories in...
She needs about 27000 to exist...daily
To gain weight she needs more....
More like 30,000 - 35,000 so the extra arrives as a layer of stored energy called fat.

As a kid we used to give corn oil, or actually feed corn to the horses for calories and heat to keep warm...but it was calories they burned we supplied them with, "extra"...
Today, most would have a heart attack if someone said feed corn oil or corn, I won't.
Nutrition has evolved with knowledge and now it is said Canola oil is better in Omegas for the horses, safer for them....look into adding some oil for more calories...add slowly any fat supplements as it changes food taste and feel some horses need to adjust to besides it can also give diarrhea you not want that!!

I know several horse rescues down here that feed Omolene 500 to their horses needing weight gain and body recovery serious in nature.
It is a sweet feed mix if your horse would do better with that.
This is a blurb from Purina representatives to a question asked on TS reviews for this particular product...
Thanks for choosing Purina. Yes, you may use the Omolene 500 for a Thoroughbred. The 500 will have 1650 Kcal/lb. Or, you may also consider the Ultium Competition as a product to try. The Ultium will have our highest calorie content of our all our concentrates and contains 1900 Kcal/lb. The Ultium is the most often suggested line up for this breed since they tend to be such hard keepers.

I don't know much about Triple Crown but know many who fed it when I lived in NYS....
So many rave about results attained by it....
My biggest reluctance to use it was because it came off a plant line where cattle feed was produced that included monesin{Iannophores??} which is deadly in tiny amounts to horses...
Today, although owned still by Southern States, Triple Crown horse feeds are produced at Purina Mills plants that exclusively make horse feed so there is no chance of a cross-over of dangerous ingredients.
TC recipe used, Purina raw ingredients used and they make "the soup"...
Purina Mills manufacturers many brands of horse feed, but to each manufacturers specs and recipe.
They also do Dumoor and was told much of the Nutrena line of horse products too but no confirmation on that one...

The only other feed I would absolutely go try would be the Seminole line, which is harder to find and pricey.
I loved their Wellness line, Senior feed specific in a purple bag.
My horses did great on it...
It is no longer carried in any store by me within 25 miles, creating a issue when not enough hours in a day to do all the errands needed on a Saturday.
So, went to Purina Ultium and feed that and it does the job...
My horses love it and eat every morsel eagerly..

Don't know what else to suggest but thinking hard about it yet...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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