Friday, January 23, 2015

Old Lady Horse

I still haven't cleaned my tack, did not work out this AM, ride yet & I had cheesecake for breakfast...

Pretending none of that happened, goal achieving starts...NOW. Must. Motivate. Self.

I did paint two paintings last night though and finish all my new-hire paperwork at my fancy new new adult job. Paperwork= cool things like insurance and other neat things so I'm not complaining. I REALLY am becoming a real real adult now with this job.

All of that aside, I come here today to beg ask for help. Because bloggers are the best of helpful friends and I value all opinions and take them for what they're worth...WHICH IS LOTS OF GOLD. You guys are awesome.

You guys probably have seen Lilly Belle pop up form time to time in my blog. Shes this stinkin cute, jet black, QH mare that is boarded here on our farm. And as of Feb 1st, she will belong to the Vollmer Family. Not going into details, but her owner couldn't afford her anymore and my dad loves her so much that we said we would take her. Besides, she's on the older end of things (16) with pretty atrocious lower limbs (sound, just hideous) and a really bitchy streak at times...I didn't think anyone would want to buy her. So, dad and I did it again and collected another horse and pissed The Mom off.

Dad loves her (pictured in August)
I kind of love her too (pictured in July)
Whatever, horses are like chips, yada yada.

However, she's RAPIDLY been dropping weight since about October. She showed up here in late June and was fat, shiny and swoll. Classic QH muscle and a big fat ass. Her owner was paying me to work on her attitude and skills (I will go into that at a later time) so she was getting ridden 3xs week and was on 24/7 turnout. She bleached out in summer, but never sropped an ounce and continued to build a topline and her manners throughout the summer.

He then couldn't afford to pay me to train, so she stopped getting ridden around, you guessed it Oct. He also barely came around, maybe 3xs month, so she was just sittin pretty in the pasture.

In November I started to noticed a steady decrease in her topline (muscle loss) and ribcage (fat) and switched her over to SafeChoice Senior and added CoolCalories into her rations. She also still had full access to pasture and twice daily rations of hay in addition to pasture.

Near the end of November I gave all the horses round bales and 24 hr access to said round bales. They ate like champions, and I usually dole out a round bale every 2-3 weeks per horse. Lilly is known for her food mongering and can kill a round bale in 2 weeks pretty easily, by herself.

Lilly in July
By December, she had a fully wooly coat, seemed happy outside, and was still inhaling hay like it was her job. She still was not gaining weight on Senior/CC so I upped her grain, started adding alfalfa to her rations and hoped that would do the trick. Mind you, she wasn't getting ridden, AT ALL.

And here we are in January and I am DEEPLY concerned for this mare. Through the thick hair I can feel every rib, her backbone, hips and her quarters are sunken in. I'm guessing her body would be about a possible 3 maybe a hard 4 and that makes me want to cry. I am STUFFING her face everyday and she has not gained an ounce, and even seems to be losing. Hay belly does not count when I can feel every single on of her ribs. I stopped with the CoolCalories and tried something else called CocoSoya. I've heard nothing but good things about it, especially with hard keepers, so both the beasts get it in their grain after a lot of research.

Even before we talked about transferring ownership, I refused to let a horse in my care dwindle in body condition. I feel like I've done everything I can and I don't know what else to do.

Lilly this morning. 
I've dealt with Senior horses MANY times in the past and haven't has this much trouble keeping them in healthy condition through the winter. Hell. Shes not even THAT fucking "old". Granted, we had a few weeks of HORRIBLE weather, but really the winter has been mild. I have a few ideas of other options but considering I am literally feeding her everything I can, I don't know what else to do in the way of food.

Here's where bullet points help.

  • Blanket her. I tried letting her have her thick coat and just "be a horse" but perhaps its time to blanket the mare. I'm worried she will overheat, so maybe clipping her chest and neck will give her a vent. I'm wondering if she's expending all her calories on staying warm, even though she has a huge furry coat.
  • Ride her. Worried riding will expend even more calories, but I know that with OTTBs they gain weight the more you ride. Especially muscle. I've never had issues with any QH being underweight, but they were also in moderate work. Lilly has been just sitting around eating and pooping.
  • Change feed again. I am a HUGE proponent of label reading and did not make the switch to Senior lightly. But perhaps she needs what Bacardi is eating, because he is a slick, fat, happy horse RN.
  • Stable her at night. Since she's been on the property, she's mostly been on 24/7 turnout. Only time I've ever brought her inside was for inclement weather and I mean like, tornadic events or freezing rain/crazy winds. Otherwise she PREFERS to be outside. She really doesn't like a stall. (Neither of my current horses do actually)
I'm really at a loss here. Shes UTD on shots, teeth and deworming. I've exhausted all my brain thinking and need to recruit other brains.

Am I worrying too much? Is she just "old" and having a hard time and will bounce back in spring with grass and more riding? Or do you have any suggestions on what else to do?


Uhhh dorable


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. My TB is the world's hardest keeper. Finally, I've gotten him to be almost *gasp* fat. He gets four (dense) flakes of alfalfa a day and two flakes of grass. (separated in half for two feedings) The ONLY grain I found to make a vast improvement was RenewGold. For weight gain I had him on 1-1/2 pounds of grain but now that hes almost fat I have reduced it to 1 pound to keep his weight. My horse is a flea-bitten grey and even with a winter coat is SHINY right now! I can't say enough good things about this grain.

    1. Forgot to add, I also keep him pretty heavily blanketed. He likes it toasty, what can ya say? Poor TB had to move from sunny CA to ID lol

  3. Get a blood panel drawn. In particular, 16 is not too old to be a candidate for metabolic problems and potentially Cushings. Tristan's biggest initial symptom was lack of topline, no matter what we fed him or what work he did. Putting him on pergolide has helped enormously.

    Blanketing is definitely also a possibility - she might well be expending calories trying to stay warm. I'd start with a medium weight and see how she does.

    You can also have a vet look at her teeth. She may not be chewing well enough to digest appropriately, especially the hay.

    Finally, I think riding her is not the worst idea - maybe a lot of long, long walks to encourage her body to use her calories appropriately, and add muscle?

    I'm sorry you're dealing with this. :( You really are tackling it head on, sometimes it's just really tough!

    1. ^ I second what Amanda said. All of it. And maybe consider a probiotic? Some older horses need that additional help with digestion. I personally like the combination of Ration Plus (prebiotic) with Probios (probiotic) for my hard keeper TB cross that does endurance.

      I personally would not stall an underweight horse that gets stressed in a stall. This could lead to ulcers, which would only compound the problem. If she doesn't have access to shelter like a run-in, I'd definitely be blanketing her. Older horses, even with thick winter coats, often need the additional protection of a blanket to stay warm and hold weight in the winter.

      I'm personally not a big fan of Purina horse feeds. Their Senior is only 5.5% fat. If everything else comes back normal with the vet, I'd consider switching her to something higher in fat like the grain Bacardi is on or Triple Crown Senior, which is beet pulp based and is one of the highest fat senior feeds on the market at 10% ( It can be fed dry or you can add warm water to it to make a nice mash which would be easy to chew if she has any dental problems. The other perk of Triple Crown Senior is that it is very low starch as well.

    2. Where can you get this? We only have TSC around here. I like that sound of that!! THANK you!!

    3. Safechoice Senior is a Nutrena feed (the store where I work sells it and we do NOT sell Purina) and I'm fairly certain it has probiotics and prebiotics added. I'd have to check on Tuesday to be sure, but I think it does. Empower Boost is also Nutrena. I wish we had Triple Crown products here! I've heard really, really great things about them and I would totally switch to their ration balancer. :)

      Good point on the stalling her. I didn't even think of that. I agree if she isn't 100% comfortable in a stall I wouldn't do that either because of the stress/ulcers thing and pacing would just make her lose even more weight. I guess I just assumed she is lol. :)

    4. Monica, I get mine at Southern States but a lot of smaller feed stores will carry it. I did a search on Triple Crown's website and there are a TON of suppliers in Ohio! This is the link:
      Not sure if my search results will appear for you, but you can search with your specific zip code. I hope this helps! :)

    5. Youre so helpful, thank you! :D

  4. I had a horse here that was an OTTB who the owner trusted with my old boss, he lost 200lbs in a few months and was generally a mess. OB was feeding him a TON but it was on the ground, senior molassesy junk. I feed all my horses safechoice so he went on the safechoice perform and enrich plus. In two and a half months he gained about 150lbs,Plus he was being worked. Good luck!

  5. Blanket her and get a vet out to do a blood panel and test for Cushing's. Loss of condition was the first sign in my pony, and we diagnosed when he was 12 or 13!

  6. Amplify works wonders. It's 30% fat. I have my Arab gelding on it for the winter, just to bolster the amount of fat in his diet, and although he's not overweight, he is maintaining a solid 5.5 BCS. I've used amplify a lot since I brought him home. Also, for the muscle loss, I would try adding pure lysine (you can get it through Amazon if you can't find it locally). My vet recommends 20 grams a day, mixed with whatever pelleted feed you are giving her. It is an amino acid that helps with the uptake of protein, will help reduce muscle loss. Those are the things I've done to keep weight on my horse.

    Oh, and blanket her. She may need the extra to keep herself warm this winter.

  7. Good luck!! I'm still trying to put weight on Moe & Gina, but they've probably gained 100 pounds apiece in the last six months.

    I think beet pulp, CoolCalories, and blanketing/stalling at night has made the difference for them.

    I have a friend with an elderly Trakehner that swears by Max-E-Glo, which she orders online!

  8. yikes, definitely not a good sign! i don't really have much experience here, but seems like a blood panel / cushings test makes sense, as others said. maybe also check her teeth? good luck!

    1. Shes UTD on everything, which is why I'm asking for everyone's input. Getting some great answers! Thanks!

  9. I was just speaking with a vet last night about hard keepers.

    1st question - when was the last time you wormed her? Double dose of equvalan - as in two full tubes asap if not wormed in last 3 months.

    Test your hay - if you can't do that - add Alfalfa to the diet if possible.

    Beet Pulp - lots of it. Three full standard feed scoops a day, soaked. Beet pulp is FULL of protein which helps weight. I would not feed the 30% fat, what she needs is protein. Beet pulp also helps move things along inside and will keep her hydrated.

    Loose salt - about 2 full tablespoons a day

    Try and feed 3 times a day instead of 2. Definitely not just one feeding.

    I recommend Masterfeed roughage chunks, beet pulp, loose salt, Equine choice probiotics if possible, loose salt, and Finishing Touch as a top dress - 3 x a day.

    If you see no improvement in 2-3 weeks, then I would call the vet. Worming first though!

    1. Shes UTD on shots, teeth and dewormer as I said in the post lol. Thats why I asked for help because all the obvious possible reasons have been addressed. Shes also already eating alfalfa. Lots of it. I will try the beet pulp though! Thank you!

  10. Replies
    1. yes, In Oct. Shes UTD on shots, teeth and dewormer

    2. Do you trust the person who did her teeth? If you end up getting the vet out, I'd get that examined. Someone at our barn bought a horse that has just had her teeth done and our horse dentist and vet were both horrified at what had been done to her mouth. Is she from the same area? She might not be used to your level of cold and snow even if she puts on a decent coat. If you're already feeding that much and she's that thin, you may want to go ahead with the vet. It sounds like something unusual is wrong given her age.

    3. Yes, same vet I used when I lived in Ohio last time. i've been a client of theirs for almost a decade and I wouldn't want anyone else. And yes shes from the same area. Her owner bought her from a girl about an hour away and from what she told me, shes owned Lilly most of her life.

      And yeah, I'm going to get the vet out to pull blood and take a fecal sample

  11. Hi there! Lauren from MO :) Came across your blog. Cosmo is an incredibly hard keeper. He's not fat and happy on the following feed: 1 scoop Purina senior, 1/2 scoop Nutrena Empower Boost 2x daily. I know most people are funny about using term "scoop", but I use the generic plastic scoop every feed store has, so not sure what that "weighs". He also gets 1/2 scoop soaked alfalfa cubes in AM, and 1 flake good alfalfa hay in PM and then unlimited grass hay. He was getting very ribby and the Empower boost/added alfalfa solved all problems. For being 25, he looks great! I didn't have any luck with cool calories :(

    1. that should say "now fat and happy"

  12. Beet pulp - soaked as a mash with alfalfa cubes, top-dressed with cocosoya. Maybe not the molasses type beet pulp in case she turns out to have metabolic issues.

    Yes to blanketing too. Sometimes it's a pain if the weather is very changeable, but it will help.

    I know you mentioned all the usual bases are covered re worming, but have you had a fecal done? Might help you pinpoint if worms are an issue, and then help you target with specific wormer types. Ask the vet that does the fecal about encysted worms and possibly using Panacur. Definitely get vet opinion / supervision if you go the Panacur route, but it can get rid of the encysted worms that may be interfering with nutrient absorption.

    Good luck - there's nothing more frustrating than a skinny horse when you're doing everything right.

  13. You might want to give veggie oil a try on her grain.

  14. I've been told beet pulp isn't that great for gaining weight (although it has many other benefits). I'm having a problem with my internet so I can't find the website for you right now, but here is a discussion board talking about it. I haven't read the whole thing because my internet died so now I'm on the phone and need to get off of it ASAP.

    I'm no expert on equine nutrition but I have to second what some of the others are saying. Yes to blanketing because she needs to save as much energy as possible and that will help. If it's getting really cold it probably wouldn't hurt to stall her at night too. Also check into the deworming again. I don't know what she was dewormed with but she may need a different one. For instance Quest gets rid of encysted strongyles where most others don't. If it were me I would try a different fat source if the ones you're using isn't working. You could try Amplify or Empower Boost, rice bran, oil, etc. If you increase fat slowly they can handle quite a bit of it. I think her protein level is probably fine if she's getting alfalfa. That's all I can really think of. How much senior is she getting? Senior feeds have a lot of roughage in them to help replace what older horses are lacking so they can usually be fed more if it than other feeds. If I think of anything else I'll let you know but I really need to get off the internet. Good luck!

  15. Hmm. All my instincts are pointing towards something metabolic or NQR. She's not THAT old- so there must be some hidden issue lurking around. Cushings is a good guess.

    I had an extremely elderly Cushings pony, I fed her beet pulp, maxisoy + copra (which I think are Australian feeds- but worth trying if you can get your hands on it. Great for weight gain!) about a cup of oil a day, as much roughage as she could eat and a generic weight gain grain.
    Even on the extremely high fat/low sugar diet, she was never fat due to her condition. I kept her fully rugged and stalled her in extreme weather conditions. I have a page on my blog about her (Taffy) if you want to have a look.

    Hope you find an answer soon!

  16. I would definitely get her checked by a vet - if she is suddenly losing such drastic amounts of weight, especially on high calorie diet with UTD shots/wormer/teeth/etc, there is probably something else going on. Cushings comes to mind, as some other people have mentioned, and sometimes pre-cushings horses actually see weight loss/difficulty with their metabolism with high calorie diets that are high in carbs/sugars (as a lot of higher calorie feeds typically are).

    If that is not the answer, I'd try blanketing and bringing her in at night (unless she gets nervous in a stall, then she'll probably just drop faster!). Cocosoya is great stuff, too.

  17. No additional ideas, but I hope she starts to feel better soon. I know you'll do everything you can!