Let's talk about hard keepers - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Let's talk about hard keepers

I need to make up a feed plan for Spirit. I'll say this is the first HARD keeper I've ever had. I didnt realize how bad she was until now.

Spirit is on 24/7 hay. Two months ago she was getting four pounds of oats a day, (2x2) and was in good weight, if not a bit chunky. Fast forward to now- she scores about a 3-4 on the body scale. Her ribs show, her hind end is triangular from the back, her neck sags, her spine sticks out. I've been experimenting with how much hay she gets overnight, which is the only time she does not get free choice. I use daily to give her 15 pounds overnight, now I'm up to 35-40 pounds of hay, and there is still some in the morning, but I realized that hay only is not going to cut it.

She's 16 years old, no teeth issues, no health issues. We stopped feeding her oats because they were making her very hot.

So- what do you feed your hard keepers? I need something that is LOW in starch/sugar and carbs, something with cool calories, as she is very sensitive to "hot" feed. I'm also open to supplementing with weight builders if it will help. She is going to be in work this summer and I don't want her losing more than she already has.
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post #2 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Here's a few pictures from a couple months ago. SHe was in good weight getting four pounds of oats a day and nearly 24/7 free choice hay.
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post #3 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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These are from a few minutes ago, she gets a full sixty pound bale of good quality hay a day but no hard feed. It's hard to see in the picture, but every rib shows under her winter coat.
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post #4 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 04:45 PM
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I want to say 'what's a hard keeper' but that's not helping is it?
The reason behind that though is that I've bought a lot of horses that were very much on the 'poor' side and described to me as being 'hard keepers' and within 6 months of being with us they've turned into 'air ferns' which is as much as a problem in its own way
I keep a good worming schedule going - fecals plus I treat for tapeworm once a year and encysted small strongyles once a year - this will also cover bots.
I try to keep on top of potential ulcer risks by using an antacid buffer when needed
I use blankets to keep them warm rather than rely on extra feeding being enough
Other than that my horses get enough decent hay or grass to keep their digestive system healthy but not so much that they pile any more weight on
I feed Triple Crown safe starch forage, a couple of handfuls of low starch/low sugar pellets and sugar beet (no molasses added type). They do get an oil that's got added Vits A and E


If you're sure your horses is clear of worms and ulcers and already getting as much good hay or grass as it can eat then probably look at extra sugar beet, oil and boiled oats - the cooking makes them more digestible and less heating so they don't burn up the extra calories in being 'hot'. You can cook them in water in a slow cooker on high for 4 hours
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post #5 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 04:57 PM
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Geeze, I'm ecstatic when my hard keeper gets to look like yours does now! Lol. Winter is hard on him and without blanket+feed+(ideally)stall he looks terrible. Big, lean, athletic warmblood in work takes lots of calories!
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post #6 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
I want to say 'what's a hard keeper' but that's not helping is it?
The reason behind that though is that I've bought a lot of horses that were very much on the 'poor' side and described to me as being 'hard keepers' and within 6 months of being with us they've turned into 'air ferns' which is as much as a problem in its own way
I keep a good worming schedule going - fecals plus I treat for tapeworm once a year and encysted small strongyles once a year - this will also cover bots.
I try to keep on top of potential ulcer risks by using an antacid buffer when needed
I use blankets to keep them warm rather than rely on extra feeding being enough
Other than that my horses get enough decent hay or grass to keep their digestive system healthy but not so much that they pile any more weight on
I feed Triple Crown safe starch forage, a couple of handfuls of low starch/low sugar pellets and sugar beet (no molasses added type). They do get an oil that's got added Vits A and E


If you're sure your horses is clear of worms and ulcers and already getting as much good hay or grass as it can eat then probably look at extra sugar beet, oil and boiled oats - the cooking makes them more digestible and less heating so they don't burn up the extra calories in being 'hot'. You can cook them in water in a slow cooker on high for 4 hours
Thank you jaydee! She's been on a working schedule since we bought her, which covered bots and tapeworms as well, (once a year for them) we also rotate wormers. She had a complete go over by the vet a few months ago (still piled high with bills ) and was cleared from nose to tail. She also gets blanketed on cold days + overnight when the temperature drops. I can look into sugar beet. It sucks because our feed store has very limited choice of feeds, but they have started carrying blue seal!
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post #7 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 05:07 PM
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I hope your horse gets better.I am still green so I cannot really help,but I send you my prayers.
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post #8 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 05:08 PM
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Feeds really don't make a horse hot. You need to find a good ration balancer - this will help to cut down on any hay belly she may get from so much hay. I would guess at ulcers with that dramatic of weight loss.

I have a hard keeper TWH- I purchased her in late Aug 2016. She came a little on the thin side with under developed topline. I had to powerpak worm her and was getting a lot of encysted bots in her manure. Yuck! She tested worm free but is picky on food and hay. I feed her safe choice maintenance (about 3lbs morning and 3lbs at night) mixed with outs and Timothy pellets. This is a diet low in NSC - she also gets Remission which is a feed supplement with Magnesium and other good things with soaked beet pulp pellets (about 3lbsat night) My horses eat out of slow feeder hay nets and she gets a grass alfalfa mix - straight alfalfa is pretty rich here in dairy country so I don't feed any straight alfalfa.


We have 2 older horses (both 20) 1 is a hard keeper and gets fed almost exactly like the one above (just no beet pulp - she hates it) and the other one only gets Safe Choice mixed with oats and Timothy pellets about 3-4 lbs total in a day and she is a fluffy thing!
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post #9 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 05:41 PM
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I will just say what I did with my gelding when he didn't winter very well.

Knowing his teeth were done, no worms, etc, etc.

He got fed beet pulp every day. It didn't make him 'hot' and it really worked for him (in addition to free choice, quality hay).

I also blanketed him when it was really cold out so he wasn't using more energy keeping warm.

It worked wonders. That horse put on the pounds over that winter and looked great in the spring. I haven't had to do that since....

I still keep a close eye on his weight and will still throw a blanket on him, but he has maintained a fantastic weight year round.
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post #10 of 31 Old 03-10-2017, 06:46 PM
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For my "hard keeper" 14 y/o TB mare:

I feed free choice straight alfalfa hay when she's in her stall at night, both to add calories and to help with her ulcer problem. She also gets UlcerGard whenever she shows or is in a stressful situation.

I blanket her as much as possible for the weather so she doesn't have to waste calories on staying warm and she is inside every night.

She gets two heaping scoops of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge twice a day at home, and an extra scoop as lunch when at shows. It's got Amplify added into it for high-fat cool calories as well as beet pulp. She has really blossomed under this feed, we only switched to this about three months ago and she has already gained around 100 lbs if not more even though it's winter which is usually her skinniest season.

I also disagree about food making horses hot, maybe it does for some but with this mare I've discovered she is much calmer and easier when she's fat (as fat as she can get hah) and not hungry. She was leased out this past year and lost a lot of weight in that time because they thought if they restricted her food she would be less hot. Instead, it makes her ulcers flare up when her stomach isn't full and she is hungry and wild.
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