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Hello :)

My lease mare, Briar, has recently started to lose weight. I first noticed about 3 weeks ago, and had a fecal count done on which showed up negative (no worms). I've booked her in for the dentist- that wont be happening for a few weeks though, because they were all booked up.

Briar is now 23 years old, 14.2', and 3/4 Quarter horse 1/4 Welsh. I've been leasing her for roughly 3 years now, and she's always been an extremely easy keeper. I'll be getting in touch with her owners soon, but thought I'd hit you guys up too and see if you have any ideas!

At the moment she's getting about 4-5 leaves of meadow hay a day (in a greedy feeder hay net), along with Mitavite Gumnuts (which is what her owners recommended when we got her). She was only getting half a yogurt container a day (the container is 1kg), but when I noticed her weight loss I upped it to a full container.

I haven't made any changes to her feed other then the Gumnuts and a slight increase of hay. The only real change has been switching to a slow feeder hay net to reduce the wastage, which does have very tiny holes. But she seems to manage fine.

We are only just heading into Spring, so she is rugged at night with a 100g rug, whereas before she had a 300g. I switched to a lighter one before the 300g was far too hot. Just trying to think of anything that could possibly upset things in her metabolism! :p

Any ideas? Extra feed? Supplements?
 

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They tend to need more and more calories to keep weight on the older they get because their system doesn't absorb nutrients as efficiently. I have no idea what gumnuts are but if they are a good horse feed start giving her some more than once a day. If possible at least 3 X per day. I'd also give her some loose hay and then also the hay bag so that she still has some once the loose stuff is gone. If gumnuts are not a highly nutritional, easy to digest feed then look into getting some senior feed.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Gumnuts are a senior horse feed, so I'm assuming they're high in calories etc.

So give her some extra loose hay on top of the stuff in the bag? The only potential issue there is her paddock mate- at about 9hh I'm sure he'd just love the extra feed! May have to separate him if that's the solution...

Would soaking her feed into a warm mash make any difference?
 

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A good senior feed is what you need, and also possibly a calorie/fat supplement. I use Cool Calories 100 from Farnam and it works pretty good.

Another thing, you could try a fiber cleanse. It's like a detox and it clears sand and dirt out of the gut. Even if you're from a place that doesn't have too sandy soil, this can still help. If anything it'll just be a good, healthy cleanse. There are a few products out there that work, but it's just glorified fiber with a picture of a horse on the bucket. A much cheaper and just as safe/easy way is to go to the nearest Walmart and pick up a thing of equate fiber powder. Use about 3 tablespoons per day in the horse's feed and do it for one week out of every month. Or for one week ever four weeks, whatever makes more sense. Sometimes horses get underweight because they're not absorbing nutrients well enough, especially seniors. This cleanse really helps and cleans sand out of the horse's gut so they can absorb what they eat better.
 

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I would and if you need to separate a pasture mate to keep it from eating her food then do it. Maybe turn them out together at night once all the food is gone except what is in the slow feeder.

Soaking will help with water intake but not calories. Do you have any fat supplements available? While this is more a protein supplement than a fat one it's my favorite to use when a horse needs a little something extra.

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/manna-pro-calf-manna-50-lb

this one is a fat supplement

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/start-to-finish-cool-calories-100-20-lb

Probably don't have the same brand names in New Zealand but it might give you an idea on what to look for.

Wishing you the best of luck in getting her back in shape. It can be frustrating when you're dealing with a senior horse but they've sure earned the right to be pampered a little.
 

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Hi, the first thing that comes to my mind when i hear of an older 'extremely easy keeper' inexplicably losing weight is that their long term diet/'good condition' has finally caught up with them. Id want to assess her for IR & maybe test for cushings.

No, unless the horse has no teeth, you shouldnt have to soak gumnuts (senior pelleted feed for o/s mob). But i think its pretty high sugar/starch grain based from memory, so there might be a better alternative. If it is/you keep feeding, ensure shes getting at least a few meals daily - little n often more important w high nsc feeds.

Could also be nutritional, if shes not getting any supplements. There was (maybe still, havent heard from her in a while) a member here @Merlot that had a bit to do with the NZ nutritionist that made 'GrazEzy'(sp?).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I've suspected Cushings for a little while, and lately had it semi confirmed with my farrier who also has a Cushings horse. I never got it checked out because I just thought I was paranoid (and I kinda am XD). I'll definitely be having a chat with her owners about it though!

I have a feeling she was in the beginning stages of it when we first got her, but I wouldn't have noticed back then. Looking back at photos now thought she definitely had a slight curly bit on her neck.

Just had a look at the Premium Horse supplements. Does this one look any good? https://provideit.myshopify.com/products/premium-mva

I'm feeding someones horses at the moment and they feed this brand supplement. Their horses seem happy and have lovely coats.

It could very well be a mineral deficiency- we don't have access to much pasture (hence the truck loads of hay I've been throwing at them), and what grass is there is really short until summer.
 

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Older horses do seem to find it harder to keep weight on, mainly just because they are getting older and they require more to keep their bodies going. The only thing I would say to do would be to up her feed as she needs it, and if she continues to lose weight then maybe give her a break from strenuous riding.
 

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I am no nutritionist. It also depends what your horse is getting in her diet as to the specifics she may need, so feeding supps 'willy nilly' without good reason is often not helpful, wasteful, even potentially harmful. So saying, that is the company who make GrazeEzy & the nutritionist is catering to specifically NZ requirements, so there's a fair bet...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
She's not actually skinny, just allot slimmer then I'd like her to be. Her topline is not very flash, but that's partly because she's been out of work for a good few months due to an injury. She was a little on the tubby side before, but I thought I'd better get onto it before she does get underweight. It's been a steady, gradual loss of condition which is why I'm concerned.

I can post some photos of her tomorrow if that would help at all. :)
 
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