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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi I have an 8yo Black thoroughbred mare that I bought in September this year. Where she previously lived she didn't have grass to graze upon (she was very fat and got 5 kg of soaked barley along with 2 biscuits of hay morning and night) but here she has 30 acres of green grass. I have been feeding her a biscuit of either prime lucerne or barley hay each morning and when the grass dries up I feed her weight booster in the morning and soaked cracked barley at night as well as a biscuit of hay with each. But she is showing ribs. I also have a 14yo thoroughbred gelding running with her (he gets the same feed and same amount) but he doesn't show any ribs.
Is it okay for her to show ribs?
Do I need to supplement her feed or just continue her feed?
 

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Can you post a picture of her?
 
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Showing some rib is ok. It is when the spine and the hip bones start to be prominent that there’s a weight issue:)

My stocky built Tennessee Walker is insulin resistant and Cushings. The Cushings has caused muscle waste which means I can clearly see his ribs but I can’t see his spine or his hip bones, Thankfully, he also has two vets and a farrier who help me keep an eye on him.

Oopsie, you posted a picture while I was typing:)

I can’t tell if her backbone is starting to protrude. She could probably use another 30-40 pounds but I wouldn’t put more than 50# max on her:). Now that I’ve experienced Metabolic issues with two horses, “thin is in” in my horse book:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Showing some rib is ok. It is when the spine and the hip bones start to be prominent that there’s a weight issue:)

My stocky built Tennessee Walker is insulin resistant and Cushings. The Cushings has caused muscle waste which means I can clearly see his ribs but I can’t see his spine or his hip bones, Thankfully, he also has two vets and a farrier who help me keep an eye on him.

As @ACinATX asked, if it’s possible to get a clear pic of your horse from the side, folks could give a more definitive answer:)
Thank you so much I will keep a close eye on her.
 

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And welcome to the forum! Hope to hear from you often. Pictures of the whole horse would also be welcome:):)
 
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Welcome to the forum. Seeing ribs isn't a bad thing. Your horse could use a little more weight though.

I don't see back bone petruding hip bones appear to be covered. Better to have horse on lean side then to fat.
 

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If she was not obese but in good flesh and fit when you got her, you have now owned her at least 6 weeks depending on when in September you bought her. You say very fat - a comparison picture would help as fat to some is actually healthy weight. Not a flag buff but I am thinking Australia? So, you are going into summer. Different than heading into winter with advice given. Also activity level then to now. I am figuring around 30 to 32,000 calories a day on her past feedings. If she was working then she needed it.

Having lost significantly from purchase I would say that she needs something more to level her off and put a few of those pounds lost back on her. Currently the hay depending on type and actual weight perhaps gives 3 maybe 4k a flake if heavy - maybe 6 to 8k a day. You don't say how much barley but at 650 calories a pound and only at night even adding a weight booster will not make up for the ddifference. It sounds like you expected the grass to make up for cutting her calories to likely less than half. It obviously isn't so time to add back and reevaluate. Could also be she has developed ulcers from the stress of the move and change.
 

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Hi & welcome,

she was very fat and got 5 kg of soaked barley along with 2 biscuits of hay morning and night) but here she has 30 acres of green grass.
Barley(all cereal grains actually) is high in sugars & starch(NSC) and as such is not great for horses, who can't digest large quantities of this well, and it causes problems. Including obesity & IR, as it does also in humans. In addition, horses have a small stomach which empties quickly. They're built for little & often feeding, and large, infrequent &/or rich 'meals' are problematic. Also various ingredients aren't able to be digested without the necessary enzymes & bacteria, which tend to need frequent feeding, don't survive well on once or less daily 'meals'. Starch can only be broken down in the stomach, but when a whopping 5kg of grain is fed, there is no chance for it all to be processed before it hits the hind gut, where large amounts of starch can cause acidosis, ulcers, etc.

So, horses should have free choice, or very frequent access to forage - grass or hay - and not be left to go hungry for periods. Any supplementary feed should be low NSC and (depending on what it is) should be fed over 2 or more small meals daily. Even discounting digestive issues with it, grain & the likes is no more necessary to feed to a fat/good doer horse than it is to feed high calorie junk to a fat person.

I have been feeding her a biscuit of either prime lucerne or barley hay each morning and when the grass dries up I feed her weight booster in the morning and soaked cracked barley at night
IF a horse needs more calories, high fat, rather than high carb ingredients are generally better. Don't know what the 'weight booster' is, but I'd ditch the barley. And remember, feeding something only once a day is more problematic, so I'd split everything between 2-3 small feeds rather than only one of something.

Without seeing her, don't know if she is thin or not(seeing ribs alone is not a good gauge of whether a horse is 'under condition') but a healthy horse who's not in hard work, should be able to maintain weight fine on just good forage, be that fresh grazing or hay. What is frequently lacking on just forage is nutritional balance. So best to do a diet/pasture analysis & supplementary feed whatever is needed to balance the diet. Nutritional balance, as opposed to just amount of calories, can effect condition too.

Is it okay for her to show ribs?
So, basic answer is yes. If you can't see any ribs at all on your horse, whatever position he is in, then he is overweight. They shouldn't be poking out, but should be lightly visible through the summer coat, generally. They should be easily felt. People are too used to fat horses, and esp if she was a lot fatter & has lost a fair bit, perhaps you're just thinking she's lost too much because of what you're used to seeing? And as above, ribs alone aren't a good indication, as depending on how well muscled she is too, like people(you can see my ribs in some positions, but...), they can carry their weight differently from horse to horse - look at fat deposits on the neck, the shoulders, the rump around the tail... look at the whole horse rather than just the ribs.

As with people, generally 'on the lean side' is healthier than carrying too much weight, but a big thing is, chronic 'good keeperism' - remaining fat long term. We can all afford to get overweight but remain healthy if it's short term & we have regular 'hard seasons' to use up those fat stores, but retaining 'good condition' long term without respite causes an abundance of health issues, particularly metabolic ones such as IR/type 2 diabetes.

As an aside, barley hay, if cut when immature, before seeds develop much, can be a great forage for horses. But if it's mature(or near) before cutting, it has lost a lot of it's nutritional value, and also, due to the seed heads in it, is high NSC, so not great. In addition, apparently mature barley hay can be a problem with seed heads getting stuck & digging into horse's mouths, causing abscesses. I have no experience with that last prob tho.
 

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Now seen the pic. I also didn't register that you'd only had her 6 weeks - that's a relatively short time to lose a lot of weight, if she was obese & is now underweight. But as she was on a 'Macca's diet', she could have just dropped quickly while her body/metabolism was adjusting to lack of junk food(I take it you haven't yet felt the need for the barley & weightlifter? And it does depend what is the(spring?) pasture you put her on, as to how rich/junky that may be).

From that pic, I don't agree she is definitely underweight. She might be, but seeing only that angle & part of the horse... she has a fat pad in front of her ribs, her rump looks rounded... At any rate, if she is, she is not by much, and I'd likely just be supping for nutrition, and take the 'wait & watch' approach regarding her weight. She should have largely adjusted to the change by now, so should start to level out. And as explained, doesn't hurt anyone to lose 'a bit much' & I'd wait until she was obviously too light before supplementing for calories.
 

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Now seen the pic. I also didn't register that you'd only had her 6 weeks - that's a relatively short time to lose a lot of weight, if she was obese & is now underweight. But as she was on a 'Macca's diet', she could have just dropped quickly while her body/metabolism was adjusting to lack of junk food(I take it you haven't yet felt the need for the barley & weightlifter? And it does depend what is the(spring?) pasture you put her on, as to how rich/junky that may be).

From that pic, I don't agree she is definitely underweight. She might be, but seeing only that angle & part of the horse... she has a fat pad in front of her ribs, her rump looks rounded... At any rate, if she is, she is not by much, and I'd likely just be supping for nutrition, and take the 'wait & watch' approach regarding her weight. She should have largely adjusted to the change by now, so should start to level out. And as explained, doesn't hurt anyone to lose 'a bit much' & I'd wait until she was obviously too light before supplementing for calories.
Okay Thanks so much for your help I will keep it all in mind and watch her
Thanks again!
 
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