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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
**BEFORE YOU START READING AND LOOKING AT THE PICTURES**
this horse is a RESCUE, he was abused and left to starve to death.

this is "duke" hes a 12 y/o Clydesdale. I am taking him in to rehab him. I honestly dont know much about swayed back horses. but i cant tell if this is sway or high withers? or just because he is VERY under weight? please input? Hes 17HH and is a sweet boy.
 

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I don't know that he is sway backed, I think he is just bony and has high withers. He may lack muscling because well he lacks everything. Good for you for taking him in! I think you will have a better idea of what he is and how severe it is when he has more weight on him.
 

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Looks like he does have a bit of a sway. And then the high withers and being under/muscled/under weight.

Good for you for taking him in...
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When grooming him, run the back edge of your brush along his mid line under his belly, and press upward. There's a spot under there that will get him to lift his back. Some horses don't like it at first as it's new. As soon as he lifts, release the pressure. Rub his back and continue grooming him. Do this daily, just the once. Take a manure sample to the vet and have a fecal count done. You will be advised regarding which dewormer. If he was neglected his teeth likely haven't been checked for sharp points which cause painful cheek ulcers. Once those issues are dealt with and he gets all the hay he needs, you'll start to see an improvement in about 6 weeks.
 

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Poor boy, good for you taking him in. I agree with everyone, some sway, high withers, the way he is put together, under weight and very under muscled. Its a little bit of everything playing in there. I agree with doing the tummy tucks/back lifts. My chiropractor likes to see 3 sets of 3 (morning, afternoon, evening, 3 tucks each time, 10 seconds each) but work him up to that. That will only mildly help him regain some topline. Use a brush or your fingers under his midline to get him to lift his back up. To much to soon will make him sore (like to much working out) work up slowly. To much to soon will likely make your shoulders sore from scratching his belly too! Are you sure on his age?
 

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I think he looks all Clyde but not the best quality by far. Feathering does suffer when underfed so I would expect those to double in volume once up to weight. I do question his age. Overall, he looks closer to 20. Snap a picture of his teeth from the side. The angle of the teeth will tell. Clydes do have more predominant withers than Percherons and Belgian. His aren't out of the ordinary. Because he doesn't have the fat pads on the sides, they look more pronounced. I'll agree that the average draft typically does not get the best routine care. He's probably never had his teeth done and he's behind in deworming. Most drafts are more sensitive to sedation than light horses. Don't let your vet overdose him.

Unlimited hay will probably give him a huge hay belly. He doesn't have the muscle to hold things up and his digestive track won't break it down too easily. I would add a good prebiotic (Diamond V is cheap, cheap, cheap and I've had good results with it) as well as a good protein (can't build muscle without it)
 

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He looks sweet :) Keep us posted on progress!!
 

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I'd say he was a belgian/percheron cross. Lot of the loggers here seem to have them and most are bay. A very few roan out and look kinda different. Even some of the old timers called the cross a poor man's clyde.

Maybe a little swaybacked but I think once he gets some weight and muscle it will look much less so.

The brushing the belly trick does help. I have an old app/draft pony that is shaped very similar and she looks much less swayed now from when I got her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am so sorry for my late reply guys!! I have been moving, an working and I haven't had time to breathe!

As for his breed, I was told he's not full blooded. Though, im not sure what his cross is! Sure wish I knew.

As for age, I have poor judgment on age! Lol I just I suck at tell age, but the man who first started to help him runs a mustang rescue and said he was in his early teens. I honestly dont know why my judgment is so poor for tell age! I honestly think thw reason he looks so old, is because of how thin he is?

I appreciate every single reply! I am glad i read about the back exercises, those will come in handy!!

As for nutrition!! I am starting him on seniors feed, but i dont want it to be too rich too soon! So i am going to start it slowly and he will be fed several times a day with hay and such.

If anyone else has an input on that please, do tell I would love to pick a few brains.
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If you have access to poles, in hand pole work would be great for him once he is a healthy weight. You can get him used to poles just flat on the ground, and once he is happy with that, you can raise them alternately at each end, like this:



This hopefully will have the effect of lowering his head to look at the poles/where he is putting his feet, strengthening his topline, and lifting his abdominal muscles, strengthening the ring of muscles in his abdomen and topline. Also a great workout for your legs ;-)

The ring of muscles:
 

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Hi Draft-goos for you saving this guy. I have an older Clyde cross…and as he has aged his back has swayed some, very much like your guys. He is the chestnut in the picture. Not horrible, but there.



I would caution you on feeding too much-mine gets a handful of pellets twice a day just so he gets his supplements. Always has basically lived on air. Little hay, and grazing muzzle in the summer.

I also recommend the belly lift that Saddlebag described, but I have done it more that once a day, in the past. (he is out on free lease, and has been for 2 years as a therapy horse)

As far as angle of the teeth-I can only speak from personal experience. We have a TB in our barn the same age as my guy. Mine has very little angle to his teeth, whereas the TB is VERY "long in the tooth" and very angled. I am not sure if this is typical that there is a difference in breeds of the same age or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Rex, thank you for the pictures and description!! :) I needed those!
Franknbeans, your horse is beautiful! I honestly am not sure what my plans for tiny duke are yet after he's healed if I am going to keep him, lease him out, or find hi another home to make room to rescue someone else!

I'm sure in time I will know! But I will be posting pictures as he gets better! I am excited to start!
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I know this probably goes without saying but I'll say it anyway-
Focus on his weight gain before you focus on muscle!
At the time we rescued my gelding there was also another horse rescued from the same farm same day.
Now we focused entirely on packing the kgs on him, while doing some handling- eg grooming, leading extra.
The other gelding rescued by the other people focused on packing on muscle.
Now - our boy is perfect after months of feed and now some light work he is a great weight and gradually building muscle, but the other gelding ... Well let's just say he's still underweight significantly. And I believe this would be because they haven't given him time to gain weight while focusing on muscle they have burnt up all the calories they are feeding him.
Just some "food for thought" lol.
Good luck with it and good on you for taking him on.
Ps also agree that it mostly looks severe Because he is underweight and under muscled.
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Rocco boy, you are very right! But he has gained a good bit of weight. :)

Thank you unicorngirl! I will make sure i do that:)

And northern star, you are very right those is some great advice i am getting in!

the one thing i am really nervous about now, is that my horse is on my farm with me. Tiny Duke is at a friend of mines until i am completely ready for him. I took on a fixed uper farm. And my horse has taken the time to knock down 2 of my fences! And he is 2x smaller than tiny duke! So now i need to figure out how i will fix this problem! Goodness!
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I agree that he is a cross breed, 1/2 clyde and half ??? He does have high withers as a build and he is a little swayed backed. The dropped belly and the lack of muscle will make this look considerably worse. As he gains back his physique the severity of the sway illusion will lessen. High withers and high croup does not mean sway back but there is a clear "dip" in the Vertebreal column. Again this is made worse (optically) by his lack of muscle and fat coverge. Horses in general will lose vertebrea column integrity as the animal ages esp in upper senior years, how much is determined by each individual's conformation and amount of muscle conditioning.

I also greatly question his age. The very shape of his mouth exterior makes me question this but horses (not just limited to drafts) can be fleshy in those areas and loose thus warping the true way a mouth is conformed. Unless he has a parrot mouth, monkey mouth or a offset jaw or chewing pattern it will be easier to take a gander at his teeth/internal mouth structure to get a better idea. Interior side shot and a front shot with a interior chewing surface (if one can get this) would be great.
I have some great photos of some off set chewing patterns of aged horses if anyone would like to see them. Very good study pics.

He's not what I would call near deaths door thin but most definatly needs groceries. Feed him slow, lots of natural roughage and keep concentrates to a minimum. I have brought horses on the brink of deaths door from starvation and hay (mixed grass varietys seem to be the best to begin with) is the key. Good deworming program monitored via a vet is another.
 
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