Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Eat All The Things, OTTB Style

First off, S/O to everyone for the huge outpouring of support in my last post. 

Confronting fear in adulthood is embarrassing and difficult enough, without adding in a thousand pound animal that could also kill you. Love my blogging nerds for their virtual shoulders.

Secondly, I got a massive response on my FB to my most recent progress pic of Mr. RedBaby and his eating habits. Quite a few asked how I did it.

No but really

Ok, but really. It is really expensive and not for the faint of heart to try and fatten up an OTTB. Let alone a five year old. Notoriously difficult, renounced for their ability to eat everything in sight and not gain a pound, the thoroughbred, IMO, is one of the toughest keepers out there, in general.

Yankee was my guinea pig. He wasn't exactly skinny, but he wasn't in excellent condition either. I got him about 3 weeks off the track and he looked like a greyhound. OTTBs come right off the track with tight bellies and huge muscles. Transforming their bodies around into riding horses takes a massive amount of calories. Lets not even mention winter. I spent about 6 years finding the right mix of grain, hay and supps for Yanks and now he's fat as a fiddle.

Lets start with this picture of B, the day I brought him home.

I want to say he was 8 months off the track here. Not emaciated by ANY means. Not 100% sure of his backstory, so I WON'T guess, and supply incorrect information. His old owner is by NO MEANS at fault!

That being said. I wanted another 100# at least on him. Ribs gone, hips filled in and hulk out those muscles. This would not be cheap or easy.

Since the diet Yankee was on kept him slick and fat, I decided to go with that for B as well. I'd played around for years with different nutritional information and finally found one that worked. Why mess with a good thing? The key to success is READ THE LABELS.

The boys get TWO types of grain NOT pre-mixed, hand mixed at every feeding. This ensures exact proportions everytime! The first grain is SafeChoice Perform by Nutrena & the other is Omelene 200 by Purina. Both available at TSC for about $17/bag.

Click the link for more info. At a glance though,
SCP has 14% protein, 9% fat, 15% fiber + array of other nutrients
Omelene 14% protein, 6% fat, 7.5% fiber + amplify fat nuggets

I chose this particular blend for the high fat, high protein in each. 9% fat is A MUST for my boys. Anything less, and they drop weight. I mix grain to balance out the nutrients in each, and cut back on the sweet feed component in Omelene.

Bacardi gets an entire scoop of each at each feeding. Twice a day. Thats 6 lbs @ AM/PM, for 12 lbs A DAY!

At first, I was also giving  him 2 lbs of beet pulp in the AM. but he got picky and quit eating it after 4 weeks. I also did not see much of a difference with it. So, I have an entire unopened bag just chillen in my barn if anyone wants it.

What REALLY made the difference was getting his skinny ass on Smartpaks. I know there are a lot of you out there skeptical of the benefits of feeding supplements. I swear by it though! I actually did a post a while back on what I give Yankee (also took years to perfect) if you're curious.

Bacardi gets Cool Calories 100 (2 sc in AM, 1 in PM), SmartDigest, SmartShine and SmartFlex II Support. CC100 provides essential fatty acids for skin and hair condition, calories for weight gain and exercise performance. Contains 5 times the fat of an equal amount of high fat, stabilized rice bran, which is bangin' when it comes to a fat supp. SD is designed to support healthy digestion by providing probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes. The key to sups? SHOP AROUND. Use that handy "compare" button SmartPak gives you to find what exactly benefits you and your horse!

SmartDigest and CoolCals obviously related to digestion. Click links for more info!

Another BIG thing to remember is Roughage/forage! "They" say 2lbs of roughage per 100lbs of body weight is appropriate, PER DAY. So, a 1,100 horse would require approx. 22lbs/day through grass or hay. This is a guesstimate though and EVERY horse is different!

People tend to measure by FLAKES, but this is not as accurate as actually weighing the hay out as flake and bale size can differ greatly.

To be honest, I just gave Bacardi as much hay as he would eat, without bothering to weight it. I'm trying to get him to gain weight so I wanted him to stuff his face! (This is the most important key aspect in getting weight on an OTTB, besides providing clean water at all times.) Which attunes to half a bale a day PLUS 12 hours turnout on good quality pasture. With Yankee, he also required alfalfa hay in addition to the grass hay/pasture. (In winter, the boys will get 3lbs of alfalfa cubes/day.) This amounted to a shitload of hay and I've been through about 100 bales in 3 months....and @ $5/bale....

Along with allllll of that, Bacardi (and Yankee) get stalled half the day. In summer, its during daylight, with fans, because they are princess ponies who loathe bugs. In winter, it will be at night. If they had choices, they'd never go out. This is essential to weight gain as well! Horses outside will expend MORE calories by walking around, stomping, etc etc than those inside, sedentary.I TRIED having Yankee on full turnout and not only did he hate it, bu I basically was dumping money down his throat and nothing ever stuck to his ribs.

They also get free choice Himalayan salt licks, as well as access to fresh, clean water at ALL times. They drink so much, its insane. Once I start work, I will have to equip Bacardi with three buckets in his stall.

To sum up a very lengthy post, 12lbs of grain a day, unlmited good quality hay, 12 hours turnout, 12 hours stall, salt, water, and supplements!

Pictorial evidence that it works

Week 1 on far right, week 4 on bottom left, week 6 on top left

Week 8 on top, week 12 on bottom
And that my blogging friends, is how I get my OTTBs fat. Its not cheap and its not fun running to the feed store so frequently, but the evidence is in that last pic. Just look at him! (I wish he looked like his shiny self, but the lighting was AWFUL).

In just 12 weeks he's gained probs 10#, and his topline and loins have filled in nicely as well! HILLWORK people! Hillwork, trails and dressage!


  1. Wow, you can tell your efforts are worth it. He is looking goooood!

  2. Two things:
    1) I <3 Cool Calories. Hands down best source of fat for the skinnies. Cuna would lose weight almost overnight without it. People dislike it because it's made of fat, but that is sort of the whole point. <3

    2) I am so lucky that Courage is a ridiculously easy keeper. Hay, water, just enough safe choice original to make him think he still eats grain and a handful of rice bran when I'm feeling neurotic. (ie I have only ever bought one bag and it's still there). Dunno why he's like that, but I'm not complaining.

  3. Wow, he looks fabulous and so much fitter! Kudos to you!

  4. I love hill work! It's crazy the amazing things it does. If only more people would train on the trails. Their horses would be even more awesome (like yours! haha). Awesome job. Those OTTBs man. Crazy to feed.

  5. Well, I am on the same boat as you sister. I like when people tell you "you need to give that horse more hay". Excuse me, ho? Let me walk you step by step what this creature gets...

  6. He does look good! Just an FYI - Omelene is not good for your horse...:( I would look for something other than Purina (who routinely change their base product they get fat/protein from - one bag may be corn, one flax, one soy, etc) No bag of Purina is the same and you essentially change their diet every time you feed it. I would bet my life that a better feed than Purina will allow you to feed less with more results. You should need to feed 12lbs of grain - that is actually quite a lot when you consider they should get 1.5% of their body weight in food a day - including roughage. Improve the quality of the grain, and you will be able to reduce the amount.

  7. Massive difference in 12 weeks!! Well done you :)

  8. Looking good! Groceries, while expensive, are always worth it. I love the transformational shots :-)