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Question about horse blankets / elderly horse eager to eat

337 Views 14 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  raymiller
I am wondering if a horse will thrive more to eat its meals if it is not blanketed in normal 30 to 15 degree weather? Our older mare seems to dink around with her hay and not eat as readily if I put her outside with her blanket in this weather. Horses body score is a 8 on level 1 -10. 10 being great shape. The horse will fill up on its 4.lb. coffee can of purina horse senior food and not eat her hay as well as she would if I kept her in the stall am. and pm. She does come in at night, but she is very messy with her droppings as prior msgs indicate. I like to put her out in the paddock around 8.30 -900 am. with her blanket which is a medium 200 denier water proof in which she is in most of the winter. She does have a nice winter coat. I would like her to eat the hay that is provided to her, which is little alflafa mixed with good quality grass about 3 flakes total, plus free choice to her grass round bale. She seems to stall around or dink around and leave plenty of her better hay on the ground at the end of her day when I bring her in. Any solutions?
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Honestly I would be more concerned about her not eating hay so I would pull the blanket.. My friend has a show gelding who will absolutely not 'horse' eat/drink/lay down etc with a blanket, pull it and he resumes normal behavior. The purina senior is probably always going to be more enticing but if she will eat her hay without the blanket then I would just let her go without or if you want her to be out of the stall then I would plan meal times accordingly so you know she has time to clean up the provided hay you can blanket and put her back out.Howver, unless she is a hard keeper (which being an 8 doesn't sound as likely) I would just let her be unless there is a significant wind chill/rain and she is shivering.
If she continues without the blanket then I wuld think it is a matter of her not being a fan of the mix.
 

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1. People make the mistake of blanketing their horses according to how they feel in the cold — my horses are lucky my thermostat runs on the hot side and I watch them for signs of being cold.

I would also pull the blanket. When the temps hit below zero with a wind chill and/or you see her shivering, then put the blanket on:)

My 27 & 28+ yr olds stay unblanketed except for the 36 hours we were in the 20’s and the wind chill went to 20 below zero — in southern Middle Tennessee 😳😳

2. Regarding her being an “8” — whose measure scale is this based on? The Henneke scale is the gold standard for a horse’s body condition. An 8 on the Henneke is obese and the horse needs to drop some serious weight:)

2.1. While Iowa State does not call out this scoring system as the Henneke system, I am posting it because it shows actual horses beside the body score. A score of eight is not favorable.

My guess is your horse is likely a five on the acceptable scoring systems🤠🤠

 

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Wow...so much to think about.

Can you please elaborate on the scoring system you are using because I don't know it and no where do I know of a animal scoring the higher side of numbers being "healthy" and great....middle of the road is normally where you find healthy.
Please give us a picture of your horse so we can see what it is you make comment on cause I'm perplexed in what scoring system you are using.
The only scoring system I am aware of and follow/use is the Henneke System industry wide used for scoring a horses physical condition seen. There are hundreds of links to slightly different picture displays but the definition remains nearly identical.
Hair Head Horse Eye Jaw
Rectangle Font Water Circle Pattern

Both of the below horses are 8 on the Henneke score and need to lose some pounds..
Horse Working animal Liver Sorrel Terrestrial animal
Horse Snow Fence Working animal Landscape

If your horse is truly a 8 out of 9 on the Henneke system or even a 8 out of 10 the animal is well headed toward obese...
The amount of food you are offering is obviously excessive when the horse literally eats but can not eat all and leaves much as waste.
The horse is being given food to eat literally non-stop with what is given in a stall situation then roll of more hay in the t/o...

To me, removing the blanket will not change the appetite cause the appetite sounds great when the animal is presented so much food and cleans up as much as it does..

As for the Sr. feed....you are using a 4 pound container which held coffee. :unsure:
Horse feed weighs considerably more in volume that coffee does....
Have you ever weighed it to see the weight of that container when it is filled with feed?
Bet it weighs more than 4 pounds.... You need minimum amounts fed for the vit/mi ratios to be met but you are also providing excess amounts of forage = hay of round roll unknown pounds eaten a day and then several flakes of higher nutritional mixed of legume and grasses...the horse is consuming large amounts of calories..
What is the horse doing to burn off the calories? Does she ride? Does she drive? Does she have companions who play and run with for hours a day?
Do you see any muscle mass or just fat?
Is there a cresty looking neck from fat deposits along it?
Can you see and easily feel any of her bones? Specifically her ribs, shoulder or wither or is all buried in a thick{er} layer of fat?
I would consider a vit/min ration that is not so many calories dense and a smaller quantity eaten and needed fed daily.

So...blanketing is used to offer protection from the elements that are adverse to the animal thriving and being comfortable.
Because the animal is fat by what I know as scoring numbers does not mean it is warm either if it not move around much because it is overweight either.
If you want to offer weather protection of keeping dry then get a turnout sheet that has no insulating properties but offers a windbreak and less chance of soaked through coat that indeed chills a animal to the bone cold in intensity...
Don't take away a "coat" thinking it will increase a appetite that is already sounds to me maxed out in amount eaten daily.
Take away the coat when the weather is warm from the sun, dry and no biting winds. If the horse is accustomed to having a blanket...then it probably did not grow as thick a coat as it needs to give it the protection against winter nasties.

Other have started to post as I was typing so...please, get us a picture of the animal and a reference of the scoring system you are using so all can offer the best opinion and advice.
Where I think you will hear differing is in taking away a blanket the animal has come to depend on for its comfort level...to remove it now....just not what I would do, but I would consider a turnout sheet for protection of the elements but not necessarily for warmth extra when temps are mild in daylight hours of sun shining strong.
🐴... jmo...
 

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With a horse aged in the mid-20s, any issues with cleaning up hay should first be addressed by having the vet out to check the teeth, if they haven't been done in the past year. Since the mare was having issues, did the vet come see her yet? What did the vet say?

I agree about the body condition and question whether the mare is obese, in which case she is probably not eating all her hay due to being overfed. It sounded like she was getting ten pounds of Nutrena on a previous thread, but now is getting four pounds of Purina. The previous issues with the mare made it sound like she was potentially a horse with Cushing's, so if she is overweight it is likely she has insulin resistance and Purina Senior with a NSC of 18% would not be a good feed for her. Although it would be slightly better than Nutrena Safechoice Senior which has a NSC of 20%. It's good the grain is being cut back, but if she is overweight it would be better to go with just hay. She also should not get alfalfa if she is overweight.

Blanketing should be about the comfort of the horse rather than about avoiding mess or hay waste. If the horse has a nice fluffy coat, moves around and does not shiver, she probably doesn't need the blanket. If a horse is tending to be obese, leaving the blanket off a comfortable horse can help them shed a little weight.
 

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Sounds like to me shes full and having a round bale and extra 3 flakes of hay shes staying full and just dont have the room to eat all the extra hay you are putting out for her, sounds like shes eating on the round bale more then the flakes of hay you are putting out for her.
LOL but I'm am a bit confused on how you are feeding her, is she getting hay in her stall to along with feed and then turned out on the round bale and extra hay that you put out for her also?
Pictures of your mare would help.
 

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That sounds like a lot of hay being offered throughout the day and night - which is a fantastic thing! Personally, as long as she is in healthy body condition, I wouldn't be too concerned. The few times over the last year that I've stalled my horses that get free choice hay from a round bale all day, they'll pick at the hay in the stall but don't finish it. Both of these horses before would vacuum hay off of the ground in the stall at night, as at the previous barn they were fed hay sparingly in the AM and PM.

I haven't seen your previous posts, but if she potentially has Cushing's and there is a need to be fed low NSC feed, Triple Crown senior feeds have the lowest NSC of all available senior feeds in the USA, at 11.3-11.7% NSC.
 

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Another thought - if she's eating from a round bale outside, is she eating her grain from the ground or a raised dish? Are the flakes in the stall being fed on the ground?

If everything is fed raised and she isn't eating things from the ground, I wonder if she could be sore someplace where she is just opting to feed from where she is comfortable?
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Another thought - if she's eating from a round bale outside, is she eating her grain from the ground or a raised dish? Are the flakes in the stall being fed on the ground?

If everything is fed raised and she isn't eating things from the ground, I wonder if she could be sore someplace where she is just opting to feed from where she is comfortable?
Good point, she does get feed from the ground in both areas, outside paddock and in her stall ground. Also feed from her same feed grain is feed same blue bucket. Ill try to oget a photo of her soon.
 

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I think we need to know what condition the mare is in, but also, I'm a little confused as to why you think there's a problem. If she is in good shape and not overly thin, then why be worried that she's not eating all her hay? Maybe give her a little less if you're worried about waste. Definitely give her less if she's overweight.

As for the blanket, those are not excessively cold temperatures, so if she's not shivering, there's no reason why she should have to wear it. Unless you add precipitation and/or wind to those temperatures, they're fairly mild for a horse that has a good coat. Two of mine prefer no blankets, even when it gets much colder than that. I have one guy who clearly prefers being blanketed, and starts getting a lot of nasal discharge, even shivering when it's cold. If I find him huddled in the corner of the run-in stall while the other two are outside, I know he needs an extra layer. Blanketed, he's out with the others, and movement is also important to him because of his arthritis. My point is that they're all different. If I tried to blanket my other two just because I think they need it, they'd be really annoyed at me and at having to wear blankets.
 

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I think we need to know what condition the mare is in, but also, I'm a little confused as to why you think there's a problem. If she is in good shape and not overly thin, then why be worried that she's not eating all her hay? Maybe give her a little less if you're worried about waste. Definitely give her less if she's overweight.

As for the blanket, those are not excessively cold temperatures, so if she's not shivering, there's no reason why she should have to wear it. Unless you add precipitation and/or wind to those temperatures, they're fairly mild for a horse that has a good coat. Two of mine prefer no blankets, even when it gets much colder than that. I have one guy who clearly prefers being blanketed, and starts getting a lot of nasal discharge, even shivering when it's cold. If I find him huddled in the corner of the run-in stall while the other two are outside, I know he needs an extra layer. Blanketed, he's out with the others, and movement is also important to him because of his arthritis. My point is that they're all different. If I tried to blanket my other two just because I think they need it, they'd be really annoyed at me and at having to wear blankets.
She is not over weight by all means..... I am trying to get a photo and load it soon. I have a newer computer and still learning all the gagets. So no as far as her body score as prior responses added, a 10 is very over weight. I would say she is more on the refined side. She does have winter hair now. Last summer she was real thin, because I kept her outside in a paddock that was close to my mare, so they could see each other. She did not like that at all, and didnt want to eat pasture grass just clover mostly. Her teeth have been floated every yr, and she is 25 the equine doc said she has soft teeth. Ya know when they get older in the geriatric yrs, sometimes require more TIME! and CARE!
 

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She is not over weight by all means..... I am trying to get a photo and load it soon. I have a newer computer and still learning all the gagets. So no as far as her body score as prior responses added, a 10 is very over weight. I would say she is more on the refined side. She does have winter hair now. Last summer she was real thin, because I kept her outside in a paddock that was close to my mare, so they could see each other. She did not like that at all, and didnt want to eat pasture grass just clover mostly. Her teeth have been floated every yr, and she is 25 the equine doc said she has soft teeth. Ya know when they get older in the geriatric yrs, sometimes require more TIME! and CARE!
Soft teeth? Never heard of that. I have a nearly 24-year old though, and I am well acquainted with the extra care needed for seniors! Generally, as they age, their teeth get worn down so they struggle to eat hay more and more. My guy is on a mix of beet pulp, hay cubes and supplements twice a day, soaked until everything is very soft. Hay is either whatever I can find that is on the finer side, or I will chop it for him using a leaf shredder (I can't buy chopped hay here). It takes him a lot longer to eat hay compared to my other two, so this means I have to separate him a few hours a day so he can eat in peace.

If she is not underweight, then you don't need to worry that she's not eating all her hay, but if she is on the leaner side, I can understand why you might have some concerns. The issue is that if you remove the blanket, she will need to eat more just to stay warm, but a lot of horse care is trial and error, I find, so you might want to see what happens if you blanket a little less.

But it may well be that she's struggling to eat the hay, and that's why she's not finishing it. It can be frustrating for them to be hungry, but find chewing difficult. It might be time to give extra calories a couple of times a day in the form of a mash consisting of beet pulp, alfalfa cubes, or some other mix.
 

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I only blanket my 29yr mare if the high is under 15°, most of the time under 10°, since horses tend to stay pretty warm. I’ve also found it’s easier for her to eat her hay if she’s not blanketed as much, since horses eat partially to stay warm. To also get her to eat her hay better I’ve lowered the amount of grain she’s been having daily, and it going great!
 

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I am wondering if a horse will thrive more to eat its meals if it is not blanketed in normal 30 to 15 degree weather? Our older mare seems to dink around with her hay and not eat as readily if I put her outside with her blanket in this weather. Horses body score is a 8 on level 1 -10. 10 being great shape. The horse will fill up on its 4.lb. coffee can of purina horse senior food and not eat her hay as well as she would if I kept her in the stall am. and pm. She does come in at night, but she is very messy with her droppings as prior msgs indicate. I like to put her out in the paddock around 8.30 -900 am. with her blanket which is a medium 200 denier water proof in which she is in most of the winter. She does have a nice winter coat. I would like her to eat the hay that is provided to her, which is little alflafa mixed with good quality grass about 3 flakes total, plus free choice to her grass round bale. She seems to stall around or dink around and leave plenty of her better hay on the ground at the end of her day when I bring her in. Any solutions?
Purina has an "Equine Product Guide" pick it up and read it. We feed different Purina Chows to our horses. We also use the "Omega Match Ration Balancing Horse Feed". You can contact your store Purina Rep they may like in our case come out and set up a balance feeding program for each of your horses. I have been feeding Purina for over 60 years now at different locations around the country. I have a friend whose family and herself have been feeding Purina since 1894, she is the third generation. They have fed Cattle, Horses and Sheep over the years. She is still feeding Purina Chows to her horses same as we do.
 

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Purina has an "Equine Product Guide" pick it up and read it. We feed different Purina Chows to our horses. We also use the "Omega Match Ration Balancing Horse Feed". You can contact your store Purina Rep they may like in our case come out and set up a balance feeding program for each of your horses. I have been feeding Purina for over 60 years now at different locations around the country. I have a friend whose family and herself have been feeding Purina since 1894, she is the third generation. They have fed Cattle, Horses and Sheep over the years. She is still feeding Purina Chows to her horses same as we do.
I will add at one time she and her family fed out six box car loads a year at there ranch in NM.
 
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