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Hardkeeper help

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    Hardkeeper help

    Hello So I recently bought a 11 year old Irish sport horse who is roughly 16.3 hands. When I bought her the owners had her on the chunky side and she was happy as could be on no pasture just 4-6 flakes of alfalfa hay a day. Fast forward two months or so and she started dropping weight like crazy. She is on pasture 24/7 but it's not high-quality. She also doesn't have access to free choice hay as much as I would love her too because she shares the pasture with other people's horses and she can't be moved because those horses are the only ones she doesn't try to kill haha. As of right now I have her on cool gut for ulcers, although she won't eat it and we have to use a syringe daily. For her grain I give 3 pounds of Purina strategy, 2 pounds of 12% sweet feed, and a cup of oil. This is given once a day. Along with that she gets 2 pounds soaked alfalfa, 2 pounds soaked beet pulp, and another cup of oil once a day. She also gets a flake of alfalfa and Bermuda hay. My problem is I can only personally feed once a day and I can't mix the wet with the dry because shes picky and won't eat wet grain. I've done some research on it all but there are so many opinions and options out there. Would I be better off giving her more alfalfa cubes and beet pulp? Or increasing her grain? I don't want to give her too much grain when forage is better. Also I am debating adding in aloe vera juice and or diamond v yeast to her diet, if anyone has had success or failures with those. Pretty much any suggestions or advice is welcome, she gained for awhile and now she doesn't seem to be and I'm not sure what to do.Thanks!

    Can you not increase/improve her hay?



      Original Poster

      I cant feed hay in the pasture because it causes way too much conflict. At some point i might be able to bring her in and give her hay in the stall, but right now I cant stay in order to let her back out.


        If additional hay isn't an option due to her pasture mates, then the only way to increase calories to change/increase her meals. But I'm confused on whether she is fed feed/grain twice a day or just once a day by you?

        She isn't getting the required amount of Purina Strategy and the sweet feed isn't doing you any favors either. Before I recommend anything - is she getting ridden at all? Or just out to pasture for winter? How much does she weigh, approximately?
        ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


          Original Poster

          She does get ridden, but just walking and some trail rides. I know she's not getting the full amount of strategy, and I plan on increasing that. I only feed once a day and a friend will put a bucket out for her when she brings her two in so no one fights eachother.


            Original Poster

            I tried to zoom in to show her condition a bit better.


              Getting that much feed into her in a single meal is going to be tough. Horses, like humans, will get full, and some simply won't eat 12 pounds of feed at a sitting.

              She is not super skinny - though I'm sure she looks thin to you, since you say she was previously overweight.

              The Purina Strategy is super high in starch and sugar (>25%) and the sweet feed is likely to be higher than that. What she needs is protein and fat, instead of sugar and starch. When going in to winter, horses use more calories to put on their winter coat and work and roam around in their pasture. At the same time, the grass is dying off and going dormant, so is far less nutritious.

              If she were my horse, I think I'd ditch the Strategy, sweet feed and the beet pulp and replace all that with a higher fat senior feed like TC Senior or ProElite Senior. The Purina Senior is okay, but very low in fat (only 5.5%) and she wouldn't be putting any weight on with that.

              Alfalfa pellets are great, but since you can only feed once a day, adding those as well I think would be asking her to eat too much at one time. Senior feeds are "complete" feeds and can totally replace hay (when fed at the recommended pounds per day). They have all the vitamin and minerals the horse needs as well. The top of the line senior feeds (ProElite & Triple Crown) are all-inclusive - prebiotics, probiotics, biotin, yeast - the whole shebang. Keep the oil until she is less ribby. Then wean her off it.
              ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


                Original Poster

                I dont feed the alfalfa cubes/ beet pulp with the grain, she gets it later in the day that way everything is kinda spaced out.


                  OK - hence my confusion. So she is fed twice a day. Do you have a weight tape to get a rough idea of her weight right now? And do you have a weight from when you purchased her, maybe from the PPE? Because her proper weight is probably somewhere between those two.
                  ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


                    Original Poster

                    Yeah my bad, it's just I personally can't be out two times a day to feed her. If she's getting fed twice, which is ideally the minimum number of times, I make it as easy for someone to put a bucket in front of her and leave. I don't have a weight for her before but when I did it a week or so ago she was around 1100.
                    She has her little belly but you can still see ribs and her topline is horrible.


                      She is not getting near enough forage. I can't imagine that her pasture has a lot of food value this late in the year. Instead of dabbling in a lot of supplements I would increase her alfalfa. One flake of bermuda hay probably doesn't meet her protein requirements either unless it is very high quality. Some feeding schedules just don't work for some horses.


                        Well, it would certainly be easier at feed time to just feed her alfalfa pellets and a senior feed. Might be cheaper too - since you'd be dropping three things and replacing with just one. Senior feeds are great stuff. And don't let the "senior" in the name make you think younger horses can't eat it. Its designed for horses that get small amounts of hay/forage or no forage at all. And since many seniors don't have the chewing capacity of young horses to handle 20 pounds of hay anymore, they call the feed "senior". But any age horse on limited hay, or limited pasture or kept in a dry lot, can be fed senior feed (well, except maybe babies, because it would be missing extra protein for their growing bodies). Its also a good type of feed to use for weight gain, without really high NSC (starch + sugar).

                        Do keep in mind that if you do switch to do in gradually over say a 10 day period - slowly removing the old feed and gradually increasing the new. This will help her adjust to her new diet.
                        ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


                          So, you have a horse on an end of season pasture (aka threadbare at best) and you can't feed hay while horses are turned out (24/7?) And, she's lost significant weight in the 2 months you've had her (not surprising.)

                          What exactly is the plan for making sure that she (and the other horses) don't starve to death?

                          If hay in pasture is "causing conflict" its because they are all hungry. If not, they would ignore it and eat the pasture.

                          I'd be moving my horse asap....or making a serious plan for hay. Horses aren't a "put a bucket in front of them" 2x a day kind of animal.

                          Also - I doubt very much that your horse is a "hard keeper." Horses need 12,000-20,000 calories a day. They are big animals. But that is normal. A hard keeper is one that is on free choice hay and still needs careful dietary supplementing to keep in good weight.


                            Great post, S1969



                              This boarding situation is NOT working for your horse. And coming into winter you should be making a change NOW.

                              As S1969 said above, please read it again. Skip all the superfluous supplements and feed a good basic diet. TC Sr. and

                              lots of good quality hay. And if the arrangements can't be changed where she is you need to move her to a facility that

                              suits her. This is simply NOT WORKING.
                              "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


                                Originally posted by Cns_505 View Post
                                She does get ridden, but just walking and some trail rides. I know she's not getting the full amount of strategy, and I plan on increasing that. I only feed once a day and a friend will put a bucket out for her when she brings her two in so no one fights eachother.
                                Can your friend throw her some hay when she takes hers in?