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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am newer to equine nutrition and having a hard time figuring out what to feed an older horse who is getting thin and losing his topline. My horse is in his mid-20s. He gets 2 flakes of alfalfa morning and night. He also gets senior feed mixed with rice bran both morning and night. He gets less grain in the morning than night and gets a weight accelerator powder at night with the grain. I could really use advice on what exactly to feed an older horse to help him look better and fill out. His coat is also dull looking. Any advice is appreciated. I am extremely overwhelmed with this and would love to know how I would help my horse. I would love to hear exactly what you feed your senior horses.

Cubes?
Type of hay?
Grass?
Grain?
Supplements?
 

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Welcome to the Forum...

Good questions asked and a few can you answer for the members to help you best.

*What breed is your horse if you know?
*How tall is the horse and bone frame?
*Do you know what he should weigh and what he currently weighs in at?
*Do you know how to score appearance by the Henneke standard of horse?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henneke_horse_body_condition_scoring_system
*When was he last wormed and teeth floated and examined?
*What brand specific of Senior feed do you feed and how much each feeding?
*How much of the other products are you offering the horse to eat?
*How much does the hay weigh cause like any other hay, a flake can be 2 pounds or 10 pounds depending upon how it was baled...
*Is the alfalfa leafy and green or more stemmy and stalky?

Many variables make up the equation of what can I do...
Based on some more information the members here can offer some great ideas to try they have used successfully themselves.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Senior horses are tough ones. What you feed them really depends on the horse itself. I have a 26 year old mare that gets an orchard grass mix hay morning and night with her turnout and she is fed twice a day a mix of 12% sweet feed and 12% pellets. I keep cutting her back because she keeps gaining weight.

My other Senior is 36 years old. He is on Triple Crowne Senior and Triple Crowne complete feed. He gets the senior feed (about six quarts) with a weight accelerator and flex pellets in the AM. and then I put about 4 quarts of the complete feed in another container in a different part of his private paddock also in the AM. He gets soaked alfalfa pellets along with compressed alfalfa morning and night.

He gets the same amount of feed in the evenings and is still pretty thin but his coat shines.

Muscle loss will make a horse look skinny even though they may have good weight. The back will look a little sway and the hip bone may be more prominent even though it's covered by a nice layer of fat. Age changes the look so it may not actually be a weight issue for you.

The coat shine is a sign that he's not getting something he needs. how much senior feed are you giving him and is it a complete feed?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
*What breed is your horse if you know? I DNA tested him and it came back with Selle Francis, Missouri Fox Trotter, and Holsteiner.

*How tall is the horse and bone frame? My horse's height is 15 hands.

*Do you know what he should weigh and what he currently weighs in at? I do not know what he currently weighs :(

*Do you know how to score appearance by the Henneke standard of horse? I would give him a 3 on the Henneke scale from my personal evaluation
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hennek...scoring_system

*When was he last wormed and teeth floated and examined? He was wormed about a week ago and has his teeth last floated about 2 months ago.

*What brand-specific of Senior feed do you feed and how much each feeding? He eats LMF Senior Feed and gets 1 scoop in the morning and 1 scoop at night and is mixed with rice bran.

*How much of the other products are you offering the horse to eat?

I give him Manna Pro Senior Weight Accelerator 2oz in the morning and 4 oz at night.

*How much does the hay weigh cause like any other hay, a flake can be 2 pounds or 10 pounds depending upon how it was baled...
He gets 2 flakes morning and night. 1 flake is about 5-7 pounds.

*Is the alfalfa leafy and green or more stemmy and stalky?
-The alfalfa is more stemmy and stalky.

I hope this helps!
 

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I have a 35-year-old mare who has trouble keeping weight on because she's elderly. She's pastured 24/7 and loves her grass. I feed her twice as much as my other horses, give her alfalfa hay twice a day to augment her grazing. I wet her pellets to make them more digestible. When she gets a bit ribby, I give her three times the feed. And I'll put molasses in there sometimes and maybe carrots.

What you need to do is have the vet come out and give you some recommendations but I think you're on the right track. With all these fancy engineered senior feeds, he might want softer and sweeter once in a while. But again, have the vet give him a good check-up.
 

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How much do your scoops weigh? Because there’s always a difference in the size of scoops (in other words, the size of the scoop my mare gets is much bigger than the scoop my gelding gets)

You should probably get a weight tape. They’re not exactly 100% accurate, but will give you a general range estimate. Once you figure out his weight, you know how much you need to feed of his senior feed, as a scoop might not be nearly enough at all.
 

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I'm going to suggest Nutrena Empower Boost because after trying dozens of things with my old horse, it's the only thing that worked to put weight on, get a better topline, and help his coat grow out. I've tried alfalfa. I've tried dry fat supplements. I've tried upping his senior feed intake. He was guzzling grain and hay and still looked terrible. Nothing worked until I tried this. It's incredible. It's a fortified rice bran supplement and has put weight on him like I've never seen. the only downside is that if you feed the max dose of 3lbs a day it costs about $60 a month. I only needed to feed 2 as he was already getting a good senior feed and it was closer to $45. It comes in a 40lb bag.

He's been on this supplement for a couple months now and I'm slowly giving him a little less now that he's about where I want him to be. The last pic is him about a week ago, the other two before I started the supplement. He's huge compared to what he was, not only is he chunkier but he's filled out.
 

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OK...went to the website for that manufacturer of feed and checked for both north and south variations fed.
What first jumps out at me is to low a fat amount in this feed. At 4 % honestly it is one of the worst in senior feeds I've ever seen.
I then went to see feeding suggestions...
1.5 -1.8 pounds per 100 for a senior horse you are not feeding anywhere near enough to meet minimum needs.
Your horse should be weighing in around 1000 pounds based on his height, maybe more with how those breeds are bone framed.
Most people feed from a 3qt scoop, rare is it a 4 qt cause that is huge...
I know senior feed in my 3 qt scoop filled to the top is approximately 3 pounds in my brand fed.
So, 2 scoops fed a day is a far way from the horse needing 15 pounds fed and then hay of good quality.
Your feed is a complete food source so yes indeed over a few days double what is being fed and if possible add a 3rd feeding so the horse is fed the total pounds needed divided in smaller meals is optimum.

Forget the supplements if you are not feeding enough actual nutrition, you're wasting your money.
The horse needs food and his daily vitamins and minerals to be healthy...
Your hay needs to be a better quality of leaves not stem and stalks, there is worse than feeding a lower quality hay but more of it honestly.
In hay, 2% minimum is needed fed a day, to gain more like 3% needs fed so figure out what you are feeding weight wise and make adjustments accordingly. So, 20 - 30 pounds of hay a day fed if the horse can eat and digest it well otherwise up the senior feed amounts fed..

So, if me...
Find a new feed to feed and follow carefully the feeding directions on bag back.
Senior feeds, quality ones are considerably higher in fat than what you have.
You feed by weight not volume and need to measure amounts till you recognize and mark your scoop with the proper amounts needing fed.
You feed for what the horse should weigh, not what their weight is.
Hay, you want the horse to gain put as much hay in front of the horse as he will consume not waste...it doesn't need to be alfalfa either, just nice hay all has calories the animal needs to eat.

Because Purina animal feeds are distributed throughout USA and Canada this is who I would switch to.
There are other brands, good brands but I don't know what is available by you, Purina is everywhere.
Their Senior Active style is a fat content of 10%, protein of 14% and fiber of 18%. At 1200+ calories per pound...you need a lot of food to feed.
I can not find your current manufacturers charts for calories per pound fed nor the carb/sugar amounts either so can't compare truthfully what you have.

There are calories in every pound fed, foods with a higher caloric amount need less fed with same results..
Purina feeds also are not usually high in carb/sugars but average range of all the feed manufacturers.
I don't know where you are located so can't help with hay but its fine to feed the alfalfa but also feed something else during the day so the horse is eating calories...
To gain one pound of weight the horse must consume more calories in than it expends just being a horse existing daily..
I've read that horses need 25,000 calories to maintain their condition, and 33,000+ to gain weight.
When you figure out how many calories your horse is eating a day I think you will start to understand that weight loss also happens when just not fed enough often enough over a period of time.
Pasture grass is coming off of winter and is busy food but not giving good nutrition so forget counting grazing in helping. I'm in Florida and our pastures are just starting to grow and offer nutrition needed...when the local dairies stop feeding round rolls of hay to the lactating cattle I know we have arrived at good grass nutrition...they are feeding hay every day yet so darn, not yet.

That should get you started on some research to find answers...
For myself...
I have a true hard-keeper older OTTB.
He is fed Purina Ultium Competition formula. {Blue bag}
I feed currently 3, 3 qt. scoops a day of feed, plus 4 pounds of soaked alfalfa cubes and my horses eat from a round roll...4 hours at a time 2x a day.
When my grass comes in they will be out on pasture for several hours a day.
My horse will forever be thin appearing from internal damages he sustained as a rescue and my vet verified, but he is healthy, just not ever going to be "fat" and round. He also is not built to be rotund and fat, but lean and lanky..
So, some thoughts to get you started from me and bet others who have worked magic with their animals will offer help too...
It is not easy to find the balance of good weight, once a older horse loses...so getting a handle on this faster is important.
Your horse has years left of life, 20's is prime today for many animals...
Good luck in the journey of regaining "the thrive".
:runninghorse2:...
 

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I'd start with more hay. Free choice so he doesn't go hungry between 'meals'. Grass hay for around half the ration, so I'd start just giving him an extra flake or 2 of grass, along with the alfalfa - however much will see him through to the next feed. *If his teeth aren't right, he may have a prob with hay tho...

If you can split the ration up into smaller, more frequent meals, this will help his gut process it better. I'd also add a gut support, something like Gastro Aid. Of course, nutrition is also important, not just 'calories', and if it's imbalanced, that could be a reason for 'failure to thrive'. So analyse his diet & supp whatever nutrients are lacking. This may be all it takes & you don't have to add anything extra.
 

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Is the 4 flakes of alfalfa all that he is getting for hay? If he is able to eat hay, I would give him more hay.

How much do your scoops weigh? Most grain mixes are about a pound a quart, are you using a 3qt scoop or calling a coffee can a scoop?

We have a senior horse here, Last fall he started to lose weight and had chronic diarrhea, very dull coat. We had him seen by a vet, de-wormed, teeth floated, feed more and more hay, among other things. I thought the horse had serious issues and that we were going to have to put him down eventually. He was tested for Cushings, the vet wondered about more serious issues. Anyway, as a last effort, I thought perhaps he cannot digest hay AT ALL and slowly weaned him off from hay and onto bagged feed.

He is getting 8# Nutrena Pro Force Senior and 8# soaked alfalfa pellets daily. (15hh QH, was always until this an extremely easy keeper)

The first picture was taken April 1 just before being weaned off from hay. The second was taken just a month later. :smile: Boy am I happy, turns out this guy cannot have hay! Hes doing great, back to solid manure (which I never thought I'd see, it was a steady stream of liquid) shiny coat and even trail riding again in a months time.

I would advise a GOOD senior feed, Triple Crown, Nutrena Proforce... and feed according to the bag. If your horse can eat hay, more hay too. If you are feeding according to the bag and not seeing weight gain, consider soaked pellets. Alfalfa, beet or a hay mix - I've had them all do the trick.
 

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@taylorlauridsen93 is your head spinning yet:):)

1. Ditto having a vet out to give your horse a good physical. If the teeth need floated, personal experience has taught me that senior horses are probably much better off with an old-fashioned manual float, rather than a power float that requires giving them anesthetic.

The reason I say that is my three Tennessee Walkers all developed drug sensitivity as they got into their 20’s. THW’s are known to be drug-sensitive anyway, but this is just a heads up that, regardless of breed(s) your horse may have acquired drug sensitivity and I wouldn’t risk it unless the teeth are really in atrocious condition.

2. I agree with upping the grass hay if your can still chew. Horses digestive systems were designed to eat forage:)

3. Senior horses can benefit from a quality pre-probiotic without a lot of useless fillers. I used Probios for years but found my 25 & 26 yr olds needed something better. I have recently switched to HorseTech’s “GutWerks”, which is working really well for them.

4. So far, my horses are easy keepers and are on good sized pasture. The healthy fella on 19+ acres, the IR/Cushings/foundered with the fractured sacrum is on about six acres.

They come in at night but both have access to the barn during the day, where there is hay if they want it. They have 24/7 access to some type of forage:)

4.1. Plenty of fresh, clean water and white salt blocks. Not mineral blocks and not those gray-speckled blocks even the deer won’t eat, lol

I also add ~teaspoon of salt to their feed pans daily to be sure they remember to drink enough water.

5. Being easy keepers, mine only get one cup of Timothy pellets 2X/day to mix their supplements with a bit of water.

The most important supplement being HorseTech’s condensed vit/min supplement which is a complete supplement that is soy-free and does not have added iron.

A horse gets plenty of iron thru grazing and their hay. Too much iron can deplete copper & zinc which are much needed for hoof & coat health, and to keep insulin stable. If iron has been added to whatever bagged feed you buy, try and find something without added iron, or a minimal amount at the very least.

6. If the fat additives you are currently using don’t seem to be working, something else to try might be coconut oil or canola oil; both are safe to feed a horse:)

However, oils are messy and not all oils are safe to feed as they are too high in Omega-6 which aggravates inflammation:)

Hope this helps:)
 
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