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My new horse - a restoration project

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  • My new horse - a restoration project

    My new horse is a 20 year old Holsteiner mare that suffered like so many did in the Texas drought. A photo of her from a few months ago showed her fairly starved.

    Former owners recently tried feeding her up but she has a ways to go. In addition to being aged, she has poor muscle tone - she feels like skin over bones. Her hind end seems disproportionately small.

    Has anyone any comments about bringing an older horse back to fitness? She is a lovely driving horse and seems to very much enjoy pulling carriage.

    I just had her teeth and feet done and have wormed her.


  • #2
    Rutgers University Equine Science Program ahs a LOT of info about recovering a seriously underfed horse

    Dr Sarah Ralston is a equine nutrition specialist and is very easy to talk with

    I will send you a PM with contact info

    best of luck on getting a great new horse back in shape


    • Original Poster

      Thank you. I very much appreciate it.


      • #4
        My little B mare had some dental issues over the winter and lost quit a bit of weight, didnt come to me real shapely in the first place in Oct. I've lucked out and found good orchard/alfalfa that she gets a flake of morning and night, she's on pasture, and what i've really lucked out with since she wont eat beat pulp no mater how i try to disguise it, is Purina Strategy Healthy Edge with Purina's new supplement added in which is like a fat nugget. It's specifically a low starch/sugar, high protein/fat diet. I cant believe the difference in a month of her being on it. She was sunk in behind the hips to tail dock, and now it's all filled in. She's still a little hollow in front of the hip but we no longer have ribs showing. I was so scared when she started shedding out i was gonna have to hide her behind the barn... but she's looking fantastic. A bonus is, it's a softer pellet, so i dont think the older ones with possible dental issues will have a problem with it. I also feed rice bran. If you can get the ADM alliance feeds brand of "Healthy Glow", that one is awesome with ground flax added in. You'll have brilliant coats. You can order it, but shipping is a little high.

        As for work, i've worked her ground work wise as normal. I would rather build muscle than fat. When she's getting a little tired, i push her a few more circles and then we quit. I've done a bit of riding with her, with that, i stop sooner, she gets tired quicker. If i could drive her yet, i would do half and half walk/trot and watch her level of fatigue. I prefer to do the trot and not just a walk cause the trot adds muscle on easier. Dont wear her out, but just like when i exercise, when i start to get to that tired, ready to quit stage, i push myself just a few minutes more to help build up my endurance. She might only make it 10min to start, maybe less. Just keep a watchful eye and read what she's telling you.

        The biggest issue is equipment fit on the skinny horse. Make sure nothing hurts, use nice soft pads, watch close for rubs. They do not have that fat/muscle cushion of the fitter/fatter horse.

        In a few months, she'll be a different horse!
        Your Horse's Home On The Road!


        • Original Poster

          Great advice! I just ordered some new zilco harness pads and a shaft shield from Camptown. She was getting a rub on her side.

          This one: http://www.camptownharness.com/index...haft%20Shields

          Thanks for the feed advice. I don't have many options - mostly Tractor Supply but will see what is close to that.


          • #6
            here is some info from the spring webinar series from Rutgers

            the 2nd in the series is feeding the starved horse
            NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The Rutgers Equine Science Center is gearing up for its annual Spring Webinar Series. By definition, a webinar is a seminar, presentation, and/or lecture transmitted over the internet. Webinars are designed to be interactive with the ability to give, receive, and discuss information. The webinar series is open to the public and registration is simple. Best of all, there is no fee to participate. This spring, the theme is “Responsible Horse Ownership.” It is recommended to log on to the webinar 10-15 minutes before the start time in order to install the software and make sure the sound is working.

            The first webinar will be on Tuesday, April 3 at 7:00pm. Dr. Bill Day, Assistant Professor, Morrisville State College Equine Institute, SUNY Morrisville, will present “Horse Promotion and Marketability.” This talk was presented at the Horse Management Seminar in February, but it was so valuable that we wanted to make sure everyone could see it! Dr. Day will outline the factors that go into marketing horses and the different horse markets in the industry today. It will definitely improve your perspective on buying and selling horses! You can access this webinar at

            The second webinar will be on Tuesday, April 10 at 7:00pm. Dr. Carolyn Stull, Animal Welfare Specialist, Veterinary Medicine Extension, University of California, will present “Refeeding the Starved Horse.” This topic is extremely important for anyone considering horse rescue, whether as an organization or as an individual. Refeeding a starved horse is not as simple as it may seem, and this presentation will help horse rescuers avoid making mistakes that could harm their new horse. You can access this webinar athttp://tinyurl.com/6wrjqvl

            It is recommended to log on to the webinar 10-15 minutes before the start time in order to install the software and make sure the sound is working. For complete information regarding the webinars, please go to the Equine Science Center website at esc.rutgers.eduor contact Laura Gladney at 848-932-3229, gladney@aesop.rutgers.edu,
            or Dr. Carey Williams at 848-932-5529, cwilliams@aesop.rutgers.edu


            • #7
              your new project horse

              oops sent to wrong address


              • #8
                I will second the rice bran - I use EquiJewel on my older gelding, and also alfalfa hay cubes. All of my horses get a hot supper, and the cubes break apart nicely. I have seen vast improvement since I have added them - he gets two scoops of them along with his supper.
                Your mare looks sweet! Can't wait to see more pics!
                Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
                Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique


                • #9
                  I don't do brans.... I rescued a 20+ year old starved Thoroughbred and was able to get his weight back on track by free feeding All In One. Never colicked, Never foundered, ok to just let them eat it at their leisure (in addition to regular feeding).

                  Congrats to you & your new buddy! What a great coat!


                  • #10
                    She is lovely and lucky to have you! Good luck to you both!
                    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                    • #11
                      Good luck with the lovely girl.