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Discussion Starter #1
My horse is skinny right now and he lacks his usual muscle tone. He has long winter hair but I can still see his ribs and his hip bones stick out. He needs more muscle along his neck, back, and especially his hindquarters. So I really have two questions…first, how can I help him to put on weight? And second, how can I help him build muscle? I need some exercises/activities that really get results. I want to get him fitter this spring.
If it helps he’s a 9 year old Quarter horse, otherwise healthy, around 1000-1100 lbs.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
He was skinny last winter too. He should gain weight by summer, I'm more concerned with the muscle. He never had a ton but he had more, and anyway, I want to build him up even more. Hes very 'sunken in' in his hindquarter under his hip bones.
He's been turned out 24/7 and fed grass hay twice a day.
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Discussion Starter #4
He didn't get as much riding this winter. Its been so cold and wet, then he had a two month layoff, and I don't think he ever fully recovered from that. I've been giving him twice the hay the others get but I don't see a difference.
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Discussion Starter #5
I know hills are really good. I have a long, fairly steep hill, plus shorter, steeper hills that would be ideal, just haven't gotten around to it yet. What else could I do in the arena? On the ground? How long does it take?
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First, build up weight without exercise. If you can see ribs and hip bones, he doesn't need work, he needs weight. You cannot build muscle if there's no calories to work with. Then you can start bringing him along a slow and steady work programme including lots of walk/trot work, long and low, and lateral movements.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
He gains weight when the grass comes out- should I just wait til then or try to put weight on him now?
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First, build up weight without exercise. If you can see ribs and hip bones, he doesn't need work, he needs weight. You cannot build muscle if there's no calories to work with. Then you can start bringing him along a slow and steady work programme including lots of walk/trot work, long and low, and lateral movements.
The thing is even when he's in good weight everywhere else his hip bones still stick out a little.
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Any attempt at exercise or riding right now will only cause irreversible muscle wasting b/c the body is trying to meet the metabolic demands that exercise puts on it - therefore muscle will be lost permanently if he's asked to exercise in this type of condition and in the worst case scenario, he will always look malnourished with bones showing all over for the rest of his life no matter what you feed if the muscle is gone.

Have his teeth checked - sometimes it could be something as simple as that - and start feeding some beet pulp - lots of hay (free choice if possible) and add a little bit of bagged feed just to kick start his metabolism in the RIGHT direction (teaching it to gain weight and use calories proficiently for his body's systems).

If he was mine, I'd say no exercise until he met at the very least a 4 on the body scoring system, and then I'd up his bagged feed intake to at least 4lbs a day as soon as exercise began. Body Condition Score Chart provided by The Way of Horses
 

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Great post, CC. Howrse, wait till you have some weight on him, THEN start working him back up into a regular riding routine. Once his weight is back up, you can start BUILDING towards a regular riding routine. You can't start off at 100% right off the bat, you have to build up to it.
 

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See Senorita! Boost up the boy's groceries and let him pack on some pounds. Add a half cup of cornoil to his feed once a day to help him with calories. Once he isn't so ribby, upgrade to a full cup a day but not before then - too much would act like a laxative in the beginning and all of his nutrition would just slide out the back side. :wink:
 
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