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How fat is Rusty???

2053 Views 51 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Acadianartist
Ugh, I really struggle with this pretty much year round. It's harder to tell now because he has his winter fuzz on, but I know Rusty is overweight. He is on slow-feeder nets, gets 4 small flakes per day and a handful of hay cubes as a vehicle for supplements. I can weight his hay, but really, it isn't that much. He reminds me of how Harley used to be before the vet tested his thyroid gland and told us he has an underactive thyroid. We put him on meds for a few weeks and that problem was solved. I no longer had to struggle to keep him fit. I am seriously considering the possibility that Rusty also has an underactive thyroid. Or is he just fat? I feed them 4 times a day, which means they already go hours without hay, even with the slow feeder nets, so I can't imagine taking out a feeding. Exercise is limited this time of year - I do ride, but not enough to really make him lose weight.

So be honest with me. Is he just big boned? The vet says he could lose a little bit, but not that much. Is this just the way he is built or is he pushing the envelope of obesity. There is no more grass so a grazing muzzle won't help.

Posting pics from different angles. And yes, I'm familiar with the Henneke scale. I just find he has such a weird body type so it's hard to tell.

Horse Window Working animal Snow Mane


Horse Sky Dog breed Tree Working animal


Horse Vertebrate Snow Plant Natural landscape


Horse Snow Terrestrial animal Liver Mane


Cloud Sky Snow Tree Body of water
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To me, Rusty looks just fine for this time of year. You get cold enough that he needs a good fat layer to help him stay warm through winter. I bet you find when he sheds out come spring that you find he's lost most if not all of the pudge. If not, you can work it off of him in no time flat. I think he looks ADORABLE.
 

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He's chunky definitely carrying extra fat. Certainly not enough to worry about it's winter, an I wouldn't cut out any hay feedings.
^^^This.

Unless the light is skewing the first picture, there is a stellar “water channel” down Rusty’s back and it’s really apparent at his sacrum.

If he lived in my area, winter or not (because we don’t have much) I would say try to get some of the weight off. Living where you are, do not put him on a diet over the winter, but try not to let him gain any more weight.🤠🤠

He is an easy keeper for sure🤠
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Phew, thanks all! I mean, he could be leaner, I know it. But I worry myself to death sometimes when maybe it's not so bad... and yes, in the summer, he's a little leaner, but never ribby. I had to start using a grazing muzzle last summer because he just won't stop eating.

I did weigh his hay just now. He got 5 lbs for the night, so altogether, he gets about 20 lbs of hay, so about 20% of his body weight. It's mostly timothy, not high in sugar or protein. He gets a tiny amount of straight timothy hay cubes. So I guess I just don't know what to cut out if I had to cut something out.

Editing to add: 2%... not 20%, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
^^^This.

Unless the light is skewing the first picture, there is a stellar “water channel” down Rusty’s back and it’s really apparent at his sacrum.

If he lived in my area, winter or not (because we don’t have much) I would say try to get some of the weight off. Living where you are, do not put him on a diet over the winter, but try not to let him gain any more weight.🤠🤠

He is an easy keeper for sure🤠
It's not the light. He definitely has a well-defined butt crease, lol. I agree to not letting him put any additional weight on, maybe even to see if we can take just a little bit off so he isn't constantly teetering on the edge of obesity. If I'm being honest, Bella could stand to be trimmer these days too. I figured she'd be an easy keeper and help me keep Rusty trim since I can separate the two of them from Harley who needs extra hay. But Harley hates being separated. I try to make it up at night when he is stalled separately and has unlimited hay to himself all night while the other two undoubtedly watch in envy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You mean 2%? That's just about right. I wouldn't cut anything, I'd up his exercise come spring.
Yes, lol. 2%. Yikes.

I did get him some hoof boots which he really likes so maybe I can ride him a little more, for a little longer, even over the winter. Spring is bad for riding here. Too muddy. Summer brings long trail rides so that helps and he does get a little leaner then. Here's a photo of him looking lean (for Rusty). Not ribby, but a little more fit. He was eating the flowers from the photo shoot of course... but this is about as "slim" as he gets. But he always seems to have a belly, even when his flank is sucked in a bit. Also, a bit of a sway back. I think his posture's just not very good. I am trying to get him to use his back more under saddle and I'm starting to have some success. Hopefully that will help.


Horse Tree Plant Working animal Flowerpot
 

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Your definitely not over feeding at 20lbs a day. If you have a weight tape you could weight tape him monthly. Should give you a pretty good idea if he's putting on weight.

I know weight tapes aren't exact. But sure can give a good gauge on where he's at. Could always split one of flakes in half if absolutely needed. If brutally could wouldn't do that.

Leave him naked when you would normal put on a blanket..just a thought.

I struggle with opposite problems ice needs weight. He's gaining according to weight tape. Hubby saw him today with no blankets on said he looks skinny..ugh. Ribs showing, backbone still visible through his winter fluff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Your definitely not over feeding at 20lbs a day. If you have a weight tape you could weight tape him monthly. Should give you a pretty good idea if he's putting on weight.

I know weight tapes aren't exact. But sure can give a good gauge on where he's at. Could always split one of flakes in half if absolutely needed. If brutally could wouldn't do that.

Leave him naked when you would normal put on a blanket..just a thought.

I struggle with opposite problems ice needs weight. He's gaining according to weight tape. Hubby saw him today with no blankets on said he looks skinny..ugh. Ribs showing, backbone still visible through his winter fluff.
Yes, I can use the weight tape to keep track. Good idea. I worry that sometimes I don't see it when they gain so it's good to have an objective measurement.

I never blanket him. He has fur like a polar bear. Has never shown signs of being even a little cold.

Sorry about Ice losing weight. Poor guy.
 

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Yes, I can use the weight tape to keep track. Good idea. I worry that sometimes I don't see it when they gain so it's good to have an objective measurement.

I never blanket him. He has fur like a polar bear. Has never shown signs of being even a little cold.

Sorry about Ice losing weight. Poor guy.
Yes we can be what I call barnyard blind when it comes to our own horses. Easy to do when your looking at them everyday. Rusty looked really good in the summer picture... handsome boy😍

Ice lost weight do to getting really sick with a tick borne dease. He'll gain it back.
 

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Something that really helps me with the body condition score is to take each area (as in the link below) and give it an individual score.
Then add the numbers and divide by the # of areas scored (6 in this case) to get the average.

This is the most accurate I believe, because horses put more weight on in different areas. A horse that has a lot of fat over the ribs, and scores a 6 there might only score a 4 in all other areas. That horse would still only average a score of 4.3.

But if a horse scores a 6 in three areas, and a 4 in three areas, he'd average a 5.

Horse Body Condition Scoring | Purina Animal Nutrition
 

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@Acadianartist I noticed the beginnings of a sway back on your Rusty

Even though my Rusty has 19 acres of hilly terrain, a few years back, he was starting to get swaybacked. He has plenty of muscle on his rump and his legs, which even impressed the vet/dentist when she was here in October as Rusty is 28.

My Rusty’s top line has come up - I took pictures and compared them to older photos since, like everyone else, my eyes lie to me.

The only thing I did different was to start feeding Joker’s custom mix from HorseTech after Joker passed last February. Joker got the same vit/min supplement as Rusty except it had a larger dose of the three amino acids and additional fat calories because the Cushings had caused Joker to start losing muscle and fat.

The extra amino acids have worked wonders to raise my Rusty’s top line but it took a few months to see improvement.

Mad Barn is Canadian? They have their own brand of amino acids.


FWIW, my Rusty has to be a tad chubby in the tummy to keep his hip bones covered, it’s just who he is. Your Rusty appears to be the same - he is a stocky built handsome fella that thin will never look good on him but he doesn’t need the channel in his back either, lollol.

It is rough trying to keep easy keepers at a good weight. As @ksbowman said, a struggle to get off but they can gain it back in a skinny minute🤠🥴
 

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I'll be different...
He has pushed into obese..
I see no muscle-tone so its fat, all fat..
He is extremely well padded everyplace.

How tall is Rusty? And what is his optimum weight supposed to be versus what he is?
He is supposed to be fed 2% of his optimum weight for his size and that there could be the difference.
Rusty to me doesn't look to be large enough to be 1,000 pounds = 20 pounds of hay daily needed fed.
However.... you don't blanket and warmth comes from digestion so is a part of a decision to make.

I would not want to see this horse gain any more and come spring he might find himself kept off the grass with limited access so he can slim and trim when you also make the daily hours to ride and exercise him building muscle with weight reduction.

With that said, I wish we could swap some pounds carried on our horses...
My old guy is thin....to thin and just does not gain.
He has health issues in his advanced years I was told by the vet would get him and force me to make a decision....
I would gladly take the "Rusty" and give you my rack of lean that makes me feel bad.
🐴.... jmo..
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
@walkinthewalk you're the second person to suggest amino acids to me so I think I'll give those a try.

@horselovinguy, I figured you'd come along and tell me he's obese. That's ok, I did ask for it!

@gottatrot, thanks. The issue with these scales is that I can't really tell. I mean, I can see that the ribs are well-covered with fat, and that he has a crease. But I can't feel fat pads on his neck, shoulders or tail head. That said, I have never known a thin Rusty - he's always looked like this. So I don't know what that would feel like. The only thing I notice is when he loses weight, his flank gets sunken in. That's the only place I see a difference, but perhaps he's never really lost enough weight to make a difference. Next summer I will plan on putting a grazing muzzle on him from the start. I waited too long to do it last summer and he had already put on weight. He and Bella both will have to wear them.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to ride him a little longer and harder. Lately he has a little more energy (not a ton, just a little) so I can do more trotting. We are doing pole work so hopefully that will help him lift up his back a little more. He still won't canter in the ring though. And of course, we are now limited by winter weather. The hoof boots have helped - the ground is now really hard and we have no snow yet, unfortunately.

So no one thinks I should talk to the vet about the thyroid gland being a potential culprit? When we put Harley on those meds, he immediately lost weight and didn't put it back on. Of course now he is a hard keeper because his teeth are worn, but wow, just a few weeks on the stuff and his metabolism righted itself. What are the odds of having two unrelated horses with thyroid issues? I know I may be looking for an easy solution, but I hate to cut Rusty's feedings down and I'm just not sure how much more riding I will be able to do over winter. He's in 24/7 turnout too, but they definitely move around less in winter.
 
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