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Bloom, weight on ribs help

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    Bloom, weight on ribs help

    Hi all, been abit since I posted, and I'm back for another round of weight gain/ distribution help. Previously i had trouble with my draft cross mare, she is now great on free choice basic round bale (compared to all the work it took her first winter here for whatever reason) but now I'm having some trouble with my older gelding.

    Kayce is a 22-23y 3/4Arab 1/4 Paint gelding I've owned since he was 6-7 years old. He has always been a super easy keeper primarily living off of hay alone, usually free choice in winter, and grass in spring- summer- fall. Last year he came out of winter a little leaner than average despite free choice round bale, and a few pounds each of Ration Balacer, Stabilized Rice Bran and Alfalfa pellets but put it on quickly with grass. Unfortunately when grass ran out he dropped quickly again and I put him back on concentrated feeds.

    When I brought him off pasture I fed him up with 6lbs Ultium and free choice access to both high quailty Timothy and a low to moderate quailty local round bale until he was looking pretty good.

    I then switched him to 6lbs Senior Active, 6lbs Alfalfa cubes and free choice round bale. He had since maintained/gained with a nice bcs EXCEPT I can't get his ribs to fill out. So I added 3lbs rice bran (Nutrena Empower Boost). I'm about a bag in and still have only a little more rib cover.

    Any thoughts? I'm planning on having his teeth checked but they don't look bad from my view, no dropped feed, no quids. I ran a fecal with nsf but dewormed anyways as last year coming off that pasture they had pin worms. I'm at a loss. It's hard to add better hay due to our weather and paddocks but I can if it would help however he wasn't eating much if the Timothy nor currently eating much of the round bale but he does munch some so if it'll help I'll try. He also has never had an episode of laminitis nor colic (knock on wood). Ultium is gold around here and I'm not sure it made any more difference than our current for the cost. What about adding something like TACO or Special Blend that are hay based feeds? Tips?

    If you are unable to get higher quality square/round bales (Timothy, Orchard Grass, Bermuda), then you might try bagged compressed bales of Alfalfa or an Alfalfa mix to supplement his diet. Standlee has several available. Your TSC may carry them.
    ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


      Original Poster

      I'm able to get any square bale hay I want he just tends to waste it a lot instead of eat it up. Pellets or cubes he eats up though.

      Edited to add he's always wasted hay he just never needed so may calories so it's never mattered. If hay gets stepped on, wet or is stemmy he'll ignore it/ make bedding lol.


        Ah. I misunderstood. Well, if he's uber picky about his hay, and you've been unable to find something he is really interested in, then adding more senior to his diet might work.

        I'm not familiar with the Purina Senior Active, so don't know what the starch/sugar content is. Do you have access to Pro-Elite or Triple Crown feeds where you are? Because those two senior feeds are superior IMO.
        ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


          He keeps weight on summer grass but not winter hay?

          That sounds like his hay needs to be better quality, both more nutritious and more palatable. Alfalfa hay is fantastic for both of these qualities. You might also want to have his teeth checked carefully in case he is having trouble chewing his hay.

          Also needs a good vitamin mineral supplement or ration balancer.


            Original Poster

            The timothy he had was premium timothy but he just doesn't get enough from it. He is getting enough Senior Active to cover his vit/min intake but I can increase it if needed. He gets 6lbs a day now. I have been considering trying alfalfa hay in place of the cubes, maybe ill give that a go. He doesn't quid s
            his hay so he's at least chewing it enough to ingest it he just has always been a 2 flake a day hay guy and think that's all he's taking in. I'll try alfalfa thoug . I was hoping to use pellets or cubes though but if it will make a difference I'll give it a go. He is in good weight over all just can't get the rib cover, his neck, withers, toplie, tail head are all well fleshed. Looking for that final touch of bloom.


              Original Poster

              As far as NSC goes i haven't checked however he has never had trouble with anything, not health,hoof nor behaviorally from feeds. He did get various concentrated feeds when he was competing as a younger horse.

              Edit to add link for Senior Active info. It is controlled nsc.
              Last edited by Kayce; Nov. 3, 2019, 10:10 PM.


                Agree w/Scribbler. Alfalfa hay, especially good green leafy stuff, will put a bloom on them faster than anything. Even the older ones can usually chew the leaves. Alfalfa hay is much better than pellets or cubes, IMO.
                "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


                  Have blood pulled and check for Cushing's just due to his age-


                    Originally posted by Marla 100 View Post
                    Agree w/Scribbler. Alfalfa hay, especially good green leafy stuff, will put a bloom on them faster than anything. Even the older ones can usually chew the leaves. Alfalfa hay is much better than pellets or cubes, IMO.
                    It's also really hard to feed cubes at a volume that will make any difference. You need at least 5 lbs a day to meet an average size hay flake. Cubes need to be soaked as well so that would be a giant mash.

                    Usually you can get alfalfa hay cheaper per lb than cubes.

                    Alfalfa hay is good because it increases chew time. A horse with teeth problems might eat the leaves and skip the woody stems. If you get alfalfa hay try to make sure the stems aren't too thick and mature.

                    On the other hand if the horse has teeth problems and likes soupy food alfalfa cubes would be a great choice as they can basically slurp it down.


                      Original Poster

                      I'm going to give alfalfa hay a go, just hope he doesn't waste it. He gets 6lbs a day now of unsoaked cubes and I'm doubling that (over time) until they run out and I'll try the hay instead. I don't soak the cubes as he just chews them right up no trouble.

                      Thanks guys


                        With his age, it might be worthwhile to do a Cushings test also? My 23 year old mare who's been the easiest keeper on the planet suddenly started getting a little ribby last year along with not shedding out like her usual clockwork self....the shedding is what tipped me off, but the vet commented that sometimes Cushings horses don't have the non/slow-shedding symptom.
                        Flying F Sport Horses
                        Horses in the NW


                          Original Poster

                          Darn, I keep hoping that's not the issue and avoiding that it might be. I'll look into that in his plan, I might be able to it myself through work.

                          He always sheds out good so I kept hoping but will have to just bite the bullet


                            Whenever we have an older resident losing weight (we board retirees) if everything else is fine such as teeth we ALWAYS do a PPID/cushing's test. Also, their GI tracts often don't work as efficiently when they get older, so we find a lot of our residents that are easy keepers when the grass is good need considerably more feed during hay season. In most cases (not all but most) their teeth are not the issue and they masticate fine. Grass is the easiest forage for them to digest, hence why some do so much better on grass as they age.
                            Blogging about daily life on the retirement farm:
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                              Original Poster

                              I'm going to send out a couple panels on him to check everything out including cushings testing to be sure. Thanks for the tips guys


                                Originally posted by Kayce View Post
                                I'm going to give alfalfa hay a go, just hope he doesn't waste it. He gets 6lbs a day now of unsoaked cubes and I'm doubling that (over time) until they run out and I'll try the hay instead. I don't soak the cubes as he just chews them right up no trouble.
                                Many people soak alfalfa cubes for safety reasons, I.e. to help prevent choke. Here is an article to consider:



                                  Original Poster


                                  Thank you for the suggestion of soakin and the articel. I understand the desire to soak them but have never needed to as he chews them fine. He is fed on ground level (also noted in the article as a key component in choke prevention). I have switched him to alfalfa hay instead anyways but thank you for the info.

                                  I got his bloodwork back today and he does have PPID/Cushing's but his Insulin/Glucose is normal. I switched him to Alfalfa hay in place of the cubes and am looking at getting him on Pergolide to manage this better. Any tips on this? He has never had laminitis issues and is his best on grass generally. I was reading and article on diet management from KER suggesting vegetable oil to "reduce glycemic response to a grain meal". Am considering this, on top of or in place of his rice bran supplement.

                                  This boy is my baby, I really just want to make things easy, comfortable and happy for my love.


                                    I think you'll get the biggest bang for your buck out of the Pergolide alone, and I wouldn't work *too hard* fighting to put weight back on him outside of that because it's very possible the weight will go on more easily than you're anticipating once he's on it. My girl is on 1/2 pill/day and is back to where she was before being diagnosed. I was just watching my daughter ride her yesterday thinking that she looks as good as she did 10 years ago!
                                    Flying F Sport Horses
                                    Horses in the NW


                                      Original Poster

                                      Oh that's fabulous news! I'm looking into getting that for him. We don't see horses at my place of work (I'm a Veterinary Technician) so I need to see if they're ok Rxing it for me or if I need to have an equine vet out. I'm glad to hear that is so effective.


                                        Much of the time weight loss in PPIDers is really catabolic muscle wasting, and the pergolide will slow/stop it.