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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone,

I think I've read every discussion about gaining weight but still couldn't find an answer.
I have a beautiful 17hh cross-breed (1/2 TB 1/2 Russian trotter) 11 y.o. doing Juniors level dressage.
I own him a bit more then a year and still struggling to put weight on him. So what he currently gets:
16 kg of hay (unfortunately not unlimited), 3,5 kg of oats + bran mash (divided in a 3x a day) and 4th feeding is 1,5 kg of mix (alfa alfa pellets + sugar beet + sunflower seeds meal). So in my opinion he eats a lot.
We tried - flaxseed oil, corn, barley and even adding some fortified feeds but nothing helps...
He eats everything with bucket licking (no washing needed *) ) and of course produces a lot of poo (looks absolutely normal).
Deworming is regular, teeth done, vet done (overall check), blood tests are clear.

He has hunters bump (already had when I bought him) but it doesn't bother him.
No ulcers signs - cribbing, girthing, etc

But what worry me the most is his A butt when standing directly behind.

please any ideas what to try next??
 

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Why so much bran mashes given?
I was told by my vet bran mashes are fine, occasionally but not frequently and 3x daily is to frequent in my mind.
You are wiping the intestinal bacteria gone with so much flushing of it....
It is the beneficial bacteria that aid in breaking down of the food fed for better absorption.
I would try getting rid of the mash and add in more calories than he is burning working in his everyday activities.

Looking at your pictures....
To me he looks very "out" structurally.
His shoulder, his back are very one-side dominant and that makes me wonder if part of your issue is he works so much harder to straighten his body when ridden.
Small things seem small but to a athlete those small things mean a need for expanded "give" by the body = using calories that would otherwise not be.
Does a chiro/body-worker work with him and does the person have a great clientele of performance horses who all excel in their field?
I also see a horse who actually is in good weight and muscle but lacks topline...
I believe it is a deficit of Vitamin E that can cause that but do research and explore that and use your horses blood chemistry numbers to pinpoint if there are actual deficits that could create problems.
I would also have the animal checked for EPM cause what you describe and is seen are the signs seen of the disease as it progresses...this is one though that can be treated.
Lastly, your horse is also a Thoroughbred mix...
Thoroughbreds are known to often require exceptional amounts of food which would make other breeds fat, the Thoroughbred metabolism demands additional fed as their body is often faster burning calories gone.
He may just need more food fed in than other similar horses in size and work at the barn...my Thoroughbed eats double what my Quarter Horse eats to have him "look" the same in "rounded edges".

Speak to your trusted vet and see what their comment is...
馃惔...
 

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So he gets roughly - 35 pounds of hay a day, 8 pounds of oats plus a bran mash and another 5 pound feeding of mix. Over 40,000 calories a day. I'd say he is headed for a major imbalance of minerals that will affect absorption. Depending on the type of oats likely not processing them and ulcers as well, on top of too much feed at one time dumping into his intestinal tract. Then add in the bran mash which is not something you should feed every day unless the phosphorous is balanced as it creates all kinds of issues and you are feeding for 3 meals a day.

I don't know what you have available in your area but his diet needs overhauled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Sorry bran mash+oats are for lunch only (morning & night only oats, steelcut)
Yes, the saddle fitter told me that his left shoulder is a bit bigger than the right one. And one side is slightly stiff.
I've just added E+selenium, so couldn't tell the results yet.

Unfortunately, I don't have chiro in my area. The good one said that she no longer works with athletes and sees only horses of owners practicing NH. *((
I will look up EPM, don't know that thing.
 

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You have owned him for a bit more than a year - how did he look before you got him? What were the previous owners feeding him? Was he struggling to cover his ribs before?

I don't know what is available in your area feed wise, but I also echo the thoughts of QtrBel - where is he getting his essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids from? Are there options of 'rational balancers' in your country? Or widely-used, proven supplements?



I don't think he looks bad, but I suggest this on nearly every single thread since my horse was diagnosed with Cushing's...Has he been tested for Cushing's?

Previously Cushing's was mostly known as a "senior horse disease" - this isn't so true anymore as more horses get tested for it. I'm in a very large group on FB and many horses are getting confirmed Cushing's positive in their early teens if not earlier. While yes, it does still dominated the senior horses, there are known 5/6/7 year olds that have Cushing's too.

A before and after of my horse - the first picture is when he is 9 and the second when he was 20 (although he was having issues covering his ribs starting at 14/15). I confused his ribs showing with fat loss instead of what it was in reality, muscle wasting. I threw so many feeds at him for years and years, free choice hay, senior feed, oils, supplements, etc etc...but the confirmed Cushing's and then medicating with Prascend, he's a totally different horse in the matter of months. You never know, until you know.
1114410

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
In the field is the photo of unknown year from the area far away. He has been living in a warm climate until 9 y.o. with quite poor hay and only oats.
The photo when I bought him - then appx in one month he became like him now and no improvements.

We have a balancer but I thought it for the good doers. And we have a tons of supplements but I don't want to fill him with them randomly.

What could be other signs of Cushings? except weight loss?
 

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In the field is the photo of unknown year from the area far away. He has been living in a warm climate until 9 y.o. with quite poor hay and only oats.
The photo when I bought him - then appx in one month he became like him now and no improvements.

We have a balancer but I thought it for the good doers. And we have a tons of supplements but I don't want to fill him with them randomly.

What could be other signs of Cushings? except weight loss?
Did he have the same level of work in the before pictures? I can't believe how drastic of a change he's had. The pictures in the original post don't reflect his previous condition nearly as well as the picture of him grazing (am I understanding that right, the grazing picture is from when you bought him and the pictures in your original post are now?).

Have you had the vet out? I'd be suspicious of something else going on...Ulcers? Anything wrong with his teeth?

I think your #1 priority should be a vet evaluation. My #2 priority would get him on free choice, unlimited, high quality hay.

Ration balancers aren't only for good-doers. If you were feeding a complete feed, like a Triple Crown product for example, vitamins/minerals/amino acids and all that good stuff is added in. But when you are feeding hay plus alfalfa pellets plus oats plus whatever, where is he getting his vitamins/minerals/amino acids? I'd really look at what you are feeding and try to determine what he is getting, why he is getting it, and if there is something better he could have.

Cushing's comes in all sorts of symptoms - muscle wasting, dental issues, coat issues, hoof issues, some neurologic issues, energy levels and disposition...really anything 'off' about a horse can be attributed to Cushing's. For my horse, it was muscle wasting, coat issues (shedding), and dental issues (EOTRH).
 

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I would suspect he is having digestion problems with an acidic hind gut and/or ulcers.
The problem with feeding so much grain is that besides mineral imbalances, it deteriorates the digestion of hay.

Hay requires fermenting in a less acidic intestine. Grain requires intestinal bacteria that live in a more acidic environment to digest. So by feeding pounds of grain you are lessening the horse's ability to get calories from his hay.

I had a thin horse with this problem. I stopped the grain and gave a lot more hay, plus alfalfa pellets and beet pulp which are also digested as roughage. I added probiotics to help the digestion readjust. Soon she gained weight and needed less feed to keep weight on because she was digesting the hay much better.
 

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I don't feed grain anymore, haven't for 6 years. My horses gain weight very easily on just hay, soaked beet pulp & alfalfa pellets and a mineral & vitamin premix top dressing, which does have a pre/prebiotic but during show season I add a separate one. My very ulcer prone horse hasn't shown any signs since and has a much calmer attitude. Your horse looks body sore, and from all the concentrates fed & ribbiness, I would highly suspect ulcers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I could think of ulcers if we would show any other sign except weight.

He is vacuuming the hay and when I put hay net several trials after just tears the hole and starts eating.
He eats everything till the clean bucket. No cribbing, no girthing. I also googled for ulcer points and he didn't show any discomfort.

Really I'm puzzled.
I will try to switch oats to balancer. I found a good one.
 

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My horse had ulcers and he ate fine, was shiny, not ribby, his sign was irritability. My other horse, who I did not have tested, but I treated anyways, his sign was the ribbiness, ate just fine & had free choice hay, expensive grain mixes, no irritability. Both are off grain for good and on a pre/prebiotic for life. I save lots of cash not buying the expensive grain mixes. Picture is when my horse probably had ulcers the worst, looking at that picture, I can see the irritability.Then moments later, he would be fine again, ulcers present differently to different horses.
Irritated...then moments later back to normal.
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I would stop with the oats, bran, whatever other grain today. Feed as much hay as you can, soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets or cubes. I like the pellets, more stuff in feed pan to disguise the pre/prebiotic & vitamin mineral top dressing, although all the horses love the taste of this new one I am trying out. And then get your vet to test for ulcers, hindgut too.
 

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You're feeding plenty of hay - a rough guide for a horse relying on hay (no grazing) would be 20 pounds - you're feeding around 35 pounds

If the hay isn't great and too much of it is just undigestible fiber that's passing through with no nutritional benefit, that could be your problem.

I would consider swapping out the oats for extra soaked beet pulp - avoid the brands that add molasses and increase the alfalfa pellets - maybe add some rice bran to that.

Adding a small amount of wheat bran won't hurt to the daily feeds, but you don't need to be using it as a bran mash unless you're seeing a constipation problem and the horse needs more fluid and fiber.
I would replace the wheat bran with a good quality chopped forage - not sure whats available in your area but I think Dengie Feeds supply across most of the world

Oats are good for weight gain if you cook them in water for several hours in a pressure cooker or slow cooker before feeding, it makes them more digestible so greatly reduces the hind gut disturbance risks that lead to hind gut ulcers.

You haven't mentioned deworming - that type of extreme weight loss can be caused by encysted small strongyles - you need a a dewormer that has moxidectin as its active ingredient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You're feeding plenty of hay - a rough guide for a horse relying on hay (no grazing) would be 20 pounds - you're feeding around 35 pounds

If the hay isn't great and too much of it is just undigestible fiber that's passing through with no nutritional benefit, that could be your problem.

I would consider swapping out the oats for extra soaked beet pulp - avoid the brands that add molasses and increase the alfalfa pellets - maybe add some rice bran to that.

Adding a small amount of wheat bran won't hurt to the daily feeds, but you don't need to be using it as a bran mash unless you're seeing a constipation problem and the horse needs more fluid and fiber.
I would replace the wheat bran with a good quality chopped forage - not sure whats available in your area but I think Dengie Feeds supply across most of the world

Oats are good for weight gain if you cook them in water for several hours in a pressure cooker or slow cooker before feeding, it makes them more digestible so greatly reduces the hind gut disturbance risks that lead to hind gut ulcers.

You haven't mentioned deworming - that type of extreme weight loss can be caused by encysted small strongyles - you need a a dewormer that has moxidectin as its active ingredient.
Yes, hay isn鈥檛 great quality馃様. And yes l鈥檓 giving him unmolassed beet pulp so could increase.
Surprisingly we don鈥檛 have rice bran, only rice bran oil available.
But we have quite good chaff and I always give him 1 large scoop before getting ready for the training and he seems to like it. So it鈥檚 easy to replace wheat bran.
I mentioned deworming schedule in the first post and yes we had a Trimax in spring.
 

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this is a very informative thread on nutrition. please do remember to update it when you have resolved the issue. Your horse is very handsome. Did you say whether or not he had seen a chiropractor?
 

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Yes, hay isn鈥檛 great quality馃様.
I mentioned deworming schedule in the first post and yes we had a Trimax in spring.
Apologies for missing that.
I had to look up Trimax and it seems to be the equivalent of Equimax.
If so, it has Ivermectin and fenbendazole which won鈥檛 eradicate encysted ( cyathostomin) small strongyles and praziquantel which will deal with tapeworm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
this is a very informative thread on nutrition. please do remember to update it when you have resolved the issue. Your horse is very handsome. Did you say whether or not he had seen a chiropractor?
As I said we had a good one but she no longer working with athletes 馃槥 even amateurs as I am. Only Natural Horsemanship practicing owners. She describes it like 鈥淚 don鈥檛 want to work horse for you because the sport destroys the horse 馃し馃徑鈥嶁檧锔忊 I personally don鈥檛 think like that because I鈥檓 not a professional athlete and try to do less harm by constantly teaching myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Please destroy my myth that taking out oats won鈥檛 take energy out of him. He is a quite active boy with amazing willingness to work.

not mentioned that we ate probiotics and yeast (separated, tried yeast and then did a prescribed by the vet probiotics after deworming) = no results as you might see
 

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I agree with some of the other posts above. It sounds like he is getting an awful lot of feed that is unfortified (mainly calories with minimal vitamins and minerals). If you were in America, I would recommend putting him on a quality senior feed, with is fortified with vitamins/minerals, high in calories and fat/fiber, and thus easily digestible. However, I'm not sure what feeds are available in your country. Do you have any feeds that are similar to a senior feed? If so, that's where I would start. Feed by the label, and slowly drop the oats and barely. These grains are very high in sugars and starches, low on nutrition, and contrary to popular belief, wreak havoc on a horse's digestion. It very well could be that his gut flora is out of sorts, and now he is having a hard time absorbing nutrients.
Also, do you have access to alfalfa hay? If so, I would slowly introduce it and feed him upwards of 15 lbs -20 lbs (7 kg-9kg). If not, can you up the amount of alfalfa pellets? These are a some of the changes I would make ASAP. Stick with it, it takes a while for the gut to heal. You may not see weight gain immediately.
 
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