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Old 10-09-2008, 10:58 AM  
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Putting weight on an old horse!

Hey everyone,

Okay we have a dilema at the rescue. We took in an old mare (30 yrs) and she is a great girl. She arrived from Vancouver Island because the owner just couldn't find a good place to put her and found us. We are happy to take her and make the remainder of her life as happy and care free as possible but problems started about a week into the arrival. First she started lossing weight, next her appitite and then her drive, she was a very prancy horse and good looking for her age.

Since then we got the vet out and she hadn't been wormed in awhile, which was fine we were just about to anyways just means we'll need to do another session in a bit and she has an virus, which we got meds for. So since then she has become her perky self, is eating herself silly but her weight is still an issue. Right now I believe she is getting grain, molassas and senior feed (but don't qoute me). We were going to give her some beet pulp but she absolutely HATES the stuff.

So I need some suggestions on anything that is great for putting weight on horses, especially an older horse. She is a great old girl and is in no pain but without weight on her we are afraid that she won't make it through our winters and we will have to put her down.

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Old 10-09-2008, 11:14 AM  
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Older horses that may have difficulty chewing may need to be transitioned from long-stem hay to chopped hay, hay cubes, hay pellets or a complete feed that contains both forage and concentrate. Hay cubes are usually always soaked before feeding; some horses may need pellets soaked as well to make chewing easier and avoid “choke.” Concentrates may need to be in pelleted form, since whole corn, oats and other grains may be difficult for the older horse to chew.

Because the older horse’s body is less efficient at digesting and absorbing food, they may need more and better food simply to maintain their weight. Try upping the amounts of both hay and concentrate by 10 to 15% and see if he gains weight in two to three weeks. If your older horse is already eating all the hay and concentrate he can in two meals, add a third or even fourth meal. Supplementing with oil or fat is another excellent way to provide more calories to the older horse. Horses require more protein as they age (14 – 16% instead of 10 – 12%) but this protein must be of high quality or it will not be absorbed and used properly. Look for feed with a mixture of protein sources providing a wide range of the essential amino acids, especially the limiting amino acid lysine.

Older horses may need specific nutrients to help maintain weight and health. For example, horses naturally make Vitamin C and the B vitamins themselves. However, as their digestive systems age and become less efficient, they may make less of these nutrients, just when their bodies’ demands for them are increasing. Supplementing with pre- and probiotics is also a good choice, as yeast especially has been shown to enhance the digestibility of fiber and other nutrients. And if they seem to have lost their appetite, stimulate them with bee pollen, fenugreek, or banana (recently shown to be the number one preferred flavor of horses!)

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Old 10-09-2008, 12:14 PM  
 
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We put our older horses on a bran mash mix with senior and a couple of other things to help them get everything they need.
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Old 10-09-2008, 01:02 PM  
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I give my senior horses Equine Senior with Complete Advantage but I also add Focus SR and give them Red Cell, the Red Cell helps to keep the eppetite up and keeps them on the feed better.
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Old 10-09-2008, 01:05 PM  
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Don't forget it's also extremely important to put your geriatric horse on a daily probiotic or digestive aid. I highly recommend ProBalance. You can get it from Horse.com. I only feed 1 tsp a day as more than that made the geriatric horse boarded at my house have bad diarrhea.
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Old 10-09-2008, 01:19 PM  
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The Focus SR has an added probiotic in it allready as I do agree a probiotic supplement is essential to the oldtimers.
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Old 10-09-2008, 02:25 PM  
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I got a product brochure sent with some dewormer I bought for a product called ReStore. It's not a probiotic but is supposed to help it work better. The manufacturers make some pretty hefty claims to what this product can do for underweight horses. If the claims are true, it may be something to look into. Here's a link to their product:
http://www.biovance.com/cgi-bin/res_view.cgi?p=282
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Old 10-10-2008, 09:48 AM  
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Personally, I think she looks quite good for a 30 yr old. There is only so much you can do. I have the same problem with my 27 yr old. I use Equine senior, as much oil as she will eat, daily wormer, and probiotics. Mine has been a picky eater all her life, and she can drop 150 lbs like it's nothing. I know she isn't going to last for ever, so I give her whatever she will eat at this point. She will only eat $28/ bale northwest alfalfa (how wonderful!), and she has access to it 24/7. She has made it very clear that she would rather starve to death before she'd eat local hay. Her molars are down to nearly nothing, at this point. She refuses to eat wet food. She hates beet pulp. My vet said if she drops too much weight this winter, I might concider giving her some steroids to pick up her appetite. Well, that will kill her or cure her, but I might get to that point this winter. Right now, she is in about the same body condition as your mare. I am REALLY happy with that. There have been times that I couldn't turn her out without a sheet, because I did want my neighbors to see her and call the SPCA. She gets good health care. I routinely draw labs on her to check kidney function etc. She has a heart murmur now. She is pretty comfortable at this point, so we keep going with her. My hope is that She'll go quitely on her own.
I guess my point is to do what you can for her, but remember she's is 30, and she will never look like she 10 again. Make she she is bundled up in blankets this winter, because there is no need for her to expend calories to keep warm. Good luck with her. She's lucky to have you!

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Old 10-10-2008, 10:55 AM  
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csimmons: thanks but that pic was taken when she first arrived about a month or so ago and now she really looks like a malnurished horse it's horrible. You can see hip bones, back bones just everything.
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Old 10-10-2008, 11:04 AM  
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I agree with getting her on a probiotic, so check if her senior feed has it included, if not you can get it as an additive. We also use Step 8 feed for weight gain on skinny TB's as it doesn't seem to give them a tonne of energy, but adds a lot of fat to their diet. You can get it at Champion Feeds on highway 16, just east of Edmonton. It isn't cheap, but you don't have to feed very much as it is concentrated and easily digested. Not all horses like it though.

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Old 10-10-2008, 12:48 PM  
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Oh, I thought that was a recent picture. She is probably loosing weight over the stress of the move. If any change in my old girl's environment happens, she looses a ton of weight. Even if she is eating enough to founder! (When mine is eating, she can go through 16 lbs of equine senior/day with 24/7 hay!) It's very frustrating when they do eat and continue to loose weight. Your old girl has had a shock with moving, and it may take a lot of time for her to adjust. All I can offer is that she gets as much time with grooming ( if she likes it) and lots of carrots. The quicker she adjusts and becomes happy in her new environment the better. Be careful who she goes out with. Playing the herd hierarcy game is especially hard on old ones. Too much stress. One other old horse with her would be great. Once she has a really good buddy, she be much happier. Good luck. I'm getting ready to move my old mare's buddy out for a month. I'm hoping I won't be going through this as well.
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Old 10-10-2008, 01:17 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lelo2006 View Post
Hey everyone,

Okay we have a dilema at the rescue. We took in an old mare (30 yrs) and she is a great girl. She arrived from Vancouver Island because the owner just couldn't find a good place to put her and found us. We are happy to take her and make the remainder of her life as happy and care free as possible but problems started about a week into the arrival. First she started lossing weight, next her appitite and then her drive, she was a very prancy horse and good looking for her age.

Since then we got the vet out and she hadn't been wormed in awhile, which was fine we were just about to anyways just means we'll need to do another session in a bit and she has an virus, which we got meds for. So since then she has become her perky self, is eating herself silly but her weight is still an issue. Right now I believe she is getting grain, molassas and senior feed (but don't qoute me). We were going to give her some beet pulp but she absolutely HATES the stuff.

So I need some suggestions on anything that is great for putting weight on horses, especially an older horse. She is a great old girl and is in no pain but without weight on her we are afraid that she won't make it through our winters and we will have to put her down.

Ultra Bloom is the best stuff on the market! I swear by this product....it's basically rice bran. It doesn't load them full of artificial products and it's cheap compared to the other supplements that you'll find at the feed store. You can get a bag of Ultra Bloom for $20. I feed my TB one cup (coffee cup sized) in the PM with her food. It also makes their feet harder and their coats shine! I would suggest this to anyone.
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Old 10-10-2008, 01:25 PM  
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Originally Posted by csimmons View Post
Oh, I thought that was a recent picture. She is probably loosing weight over the stress of the move. If any change in my old girl's environment happens, she looses a ton of weight. Even if she is eating enough to founder! (When mine is eating, she can go through 16 lbs of equine senior/day with 24/7 hay!) It's very frustrating when they do eat and continue to loose weight. Your old girl has had a shock with moving, and it may take a lot of time for her to adjust. All I can offer is that she gets as much time with grooming ( if she likes it) and lots of carrots. The quicker she adjusts and becomes happy in her new environment the better. Be careful who she goes out with. Playing the herd hierarcy game is especially hard on old ones. Too much stress. One other old horse with her would be great. Once she has a really good buddy, she be much happier. Good luck. I'm getting ready to move my old mare's buddy out for a month. I'm hoping I won't be going through this as well.
Well when we got her she was dragging us to the pasture. She seemed to be settled within a few days. She did go with the herd and did well actually. If anything she was the teaser and would cause more of a fuss over the others. She has been with her current buddy know for about a week. We just moved them together as they are the two older gals and they live with the donkeys which she loves to snake face and push around. It's just difficult without indoor stables or anything other then the windbreakers we have I don't know if she would/could make it through a winter in the shape she is in.
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Old 10-10-2008, 02:27 PM  
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Well what does the manager of the rescue think? Surely a rescue has experience with feeding.
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Old 10-10-2008, 02:47 PM  
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Well what does the manager of the rescue think? Surely a rescue has experience with feeding.
Oh absolutely but ya know... we've been trying alot of different tricks and secret reciepes but just was wondering if there was some good ones out there that we might not of tried that might work.
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Old 10-10-2008, 02:49 PM  
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I'd try calf manna. My mom uses that for her mare who just had a baby and lost ALOT of weight. So far its been working great.
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Old 10-10-2008, 03:00 PM  
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Well right off the top molassas is giving her nothing nutritionally. most here would feed senior pellets for their digestibility. I add daily probiotics and rice bran as well. Free feed alfalfa and half doese of wormer every 3 weeks unless you do fecals.
I also topdress with beet pulp shreds[not pellets]-some do not like the wet ones but gobble them up with the grain.
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Old 10-10-2008, 03:16 PM  
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I would cut out the grain and the molasses and just use Senior feed at the recommended amount for the weight you want her to be at. Add a probiotic to her diet and some type of fat supplement (corn oil, rice bran, Ultium etc.). If she won't eat her feed without the molasses, then put in a bit of that but it does nothing for them nutritionally. Free choice hay or grass too unless she can't chew it properly anymore.

As someone else mentioned you might also try adding the Calf Manna. Some people swear by it and some don't - I think its usefulness varies from horse to horse, personally.

If at all possible, I would move her to a paddock with the one other older mare. Chasing the donkeys around is going to use up valuable calories that she could be putting toward weight gain.

Three or more smaller meals a day would also be more beneficial than two larger ones.

Have a fecal done and make sure the deworming regimin she is on is working properly.

This is where I would start; if she doesn't gain, then there are other feeding programs to look at.
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Old 10-10-2008, 03:21 PM  
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I would cut out the grain and the molasses and just use Senior feed at the recommended amount for the weight you want her to be at. Add a probiotic to her diet and some type of fat supplement (corn oil, rice bran, Ultium etc.). If she won't eat her feed without the molasses, then put in a bit of that but it does nothing for them nutritionally. Free choice hay or grass too unless she can't chew it properly anymore.

As someone else mentioned you might also try adding the Calf Manna. Some people swear by it and some don't - I think its usefulness varies from horse to horse, personally.

If at all possible, I would move her to a paddock with the one other older mare. Chasing the donkeys around is going to use up valuable calories that she could be putting toward weight gain.

Three or more smaller meals a day would also be more beneficial than two larger ones.

Have a fecal done and make sure the deworming regimin she is on is working properly.

This is where I would start; if she doesn't gain, then there are other feeding programs to look at.
She doesn't chase the donkey's around at all she has them in there place BIG TIME. They don't stress her or her eating. They free graze on hay and alfalfa, we are going to try getting alfalfa cubes and soaking them just a bit. She doesn't seem to have a hard timing chewing stuff as of yet so.
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Old 10-10-2008, 03:25 PM  
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i use soy beans...the horses love them and have 30% fat..even the 25 year old rescue.
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