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Discussion Starter #1
We bought a new gelding yesterday and I think he could use 50-100 pounds. You can tell he needs weight around his topline, but he also has shark fin withers. He was out on the range all winter so he lost some weight. We are starting him (slowly since we brought him home just yesterday) on total equine feed and alfalfa hay. Should I add oil or soybean meal to his feed? I have beet pulp, but our horses hate it so I'm not sure he'd like it.

This guy also needs his hooves trimmed so our farrier is coming out on Friday. He is the sweetest guy and really well broke, but not a dead head. Any tips for how to get him to gain weight? Do you think he needs to gain weight or mostly muscle? (Either way I would like to "fatten" him up a bit.) He will be dewormed and vaccinated tomorrow.
 

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I would take your time adding additional things to fatten him up.
I would give him a couple of weeks between adding something else. Too many things too fast can lead to stomach upset. And he also has to get used to his different environment as well - that is a lot of change.

Does he have free choice hay? If not, I would give him really good quality hay at all times and see how his weight goes. He doesn't look like a hard keeper - if he has been on the range all winter, I think he looks pretty good!
 

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Obviously I only have the one pic to go off, but what makes you think he needs more weight? Not obvious to me, he's certainly not 'skinny' by any means. Can't see any ribs, he's got nicely rounded hind & forequarters. I think it might be his obviously weak back and really high wither that you're taking as 'lack of weight'. A vet chiro might be far more valuable to him than extra food.

Assuming he does need extra though, agree with above. KISS. Start out with free choice grass hay, adequate nutrition(so supp if/when necessary), and worm him & get his teeth attended. THEN if he's still not gaining, look into possibility of ulcers or other gut issues, and feeding him extra.
 

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I ran out and grabbed a few more pictures. Forgive the mud, the weather has been horrendous. Here are a few more pictures to go off of. What do you think now? We are increasing his food intake slowly for the next week or so. I agree that he doesn't look skinny skinny, but I think he could use some more weight.

Could it just be that his topline needs some work? Along with a bit of weight?
 

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Alright last one. The mud actually kind of helps show how there's no "meat" along his topline.
 

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I'd start with free choice grass hay to start,let him settle in before starting to many things feed wise. He doesn't look terrible could use some weight but don't be in a hurry it takes time.
 

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I think the alfalfa itself and some good work long and low is going to do him wonders. He DOES seem a little thin to me, I see poverty lines. His whole back is just poorly built, so it is never going to look GREAT, but it can improve a lot. Be really careful with saddle fit. The gelding I ride has a similar build. He weighs more but has the weak SI joint and lack of topline as well, and we've had to switch saddles and pads once already to compensate as he gained weight and muscle. Good quality forage will help him a lot, and maybe some probiotics/a fecal to check for worms, as he looks quite unthrifty to me.
 

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I seems a little thin to me, but more just out of shape. When I've brought horses home like this, I've continued to feed the way they were before for about a week or so. That way they get to adjust to a new environment slowly. Then I start adding nutrition and low work. I think he's going to be a beauty.
 

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Could it just be that his topline needs some work? Along with a bit of weight?
With more pics, I still don't think it looks like he needs 'weight' as in more calories - I don't know what 'poverty lines' another poster is talking about, and again, from pics only, particularly dirty & winter coat, could well be thinner than he looks, but you can see that he's well rounded everywhere else bar the atrophied 'topline'. But it's more obvious esp in lumbar/sacro area needs 'work' & *assuming* he's standing square, that hind view shows nice development of the right side(hunter's bump not withstanding) but his left side is a little... depressed. IME a veterinary chiropractor would be my first port of call with this horse.
 

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Well it seems that 3 days has made a bit of a difference. He's getting 1 1/2 flakes of alfalfa 3 times a day, so he's getting about 25 pounds of good quality hay a day. I haven't let him out on pasture yet but I hand grazed him on some weeds/pasture for a good hour yesterday. I'm slowly starting him on grain, he got one cup yesterday, 2 today and I will move it up to 3 pounds for breakfast and dinner sometime soon. I just don't want to feed too much too soon. He isn't stressed at all and is enjoying the privacy of the stall for now.

Farrier is coming out on Friday, teeth and vaccines done on Saturday. I forgot about worming him, so that will be done today. He's a sweetheart and I think I'll put a ride or two on him this weekend if he looks better. Once he gets up to weight and gets his feet done, the work on forming correct muscles will start. I'm really excited to start working with this boy.
 

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May I ask, why grain? And what kind?

I like him. I think he's going to turn out to be a fine horse. Get a little back muscle going on and those withers will hold your saddle in place all day long!
 

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See, we can get 'skewed' ideas based just on pics. That's why 'body condition scoring' is valuable. He does look light on in the last pics, particularly the last in the stable!

He's getting 1 1/2 flakes of alfalfa 3 times a day, so he's getting about 25 pounds
Is that along with grass hay? Alfalfa/lucerne can be a great additive for putting weight on, but with it's high protein levels & other nutrients, is best fed as *part of* the forage ration, for better balanced nutrition. Can be problematic if fed as sole forage. That amount of hay for him sounds adequate, but if he eats it all & then goes hungry between meals for some time, that's not great, so you can either add more/free choice, or put it in a small holed net, that slows his consumption & makes it last.

I'm slowly starting him on grain, he got one cup yesterday, 2 today and I will move it up to 3 pounds for breakfast and dinner sometime soon. I just don't want to feed too much too soon.
If he's come from 'slim pickings', chances are good hay & some alfalfa will be enough & extra grain/hard feed may well be too much. It's also important, if you are going to feed grain, to start gradually(a bit more than sounds you plan - I'd go 3 days or so between increases), and to feed as little & often as possible - so over 2-3 meals daily minimum.

and I think I'll put a ride or two on him this weekend if he looks better.
Is there something else wrong with him that he needs to be better before riding? If it's his weight, you won't see any significant difference for some weeks at least, not days.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
We don't do 24/7 hay but they get fed alfalfa 3x during the winter, and 2x during the summer. Plus they are out 24/7 on 10 acres of rich pasture. I got a slow feeding net and have been feeding him out of it so that he has hay all day. I've been giving him 3 pounds of grain a day, Total Equine is the name of the grain. I was planning on doing 6 pounds a day but I re-read the label and it's 4 pounds of grain per 1000 pounds of horse.
His emotional state has increased too, he seems more happy and whinnies whenever he sees me. (I am really loving how level headed he is and how he enjoys attention.) I took him out and braided his mane and tail, along with giving him a good brushing. I figure if I'm not going to be riding him I can always improve our "relationship" on the ground.
Farrier is coming out tomorrow, we're also taking him into the vet to get his teeth floated and vaccines on the same day. I dewormed him 3 days ago and he is on the path to being a happy horse. He's been in a stall because his leg is bothering him so I don't want him hurting it more out in pasture. If he gets a clean bill of health on Friday he will go out on pasture 24/7.
I'm waiting to ride him because his leg does seem to be bothering him and he needs his hooves done. Whoop! I think he's going to be a WONDERFUL horse for me.
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