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Older Horse has eating and weight problems

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  • Older Horse has eating and weight problems

    I have a 29 year old that has began to spit grass and hay out in "wads". I have had a complete blood panel done (which came back good) and he has all his teeth, which are in good shape for his age. He has no problem with grain (pellet) , but is having difficulty with hay and grass. My guess is he would be better off on some alfalfa pellets instead of hay. He is thinner than he has ever been this year. My vet says to keep him a little thinner because of the back problems older horses can develop with a larger barrel. I just really don't like seeing the ribs Anyone else had the same problem with the older horse? and what did you do? He is on TC Senior and Amplify daily, pasture 24/7 and free choice of timothy hay,but shows no signs of gaining weight.
    Last edited by King234; Sep. 9, 2010, 03:16 AM. Reason: Adding word

  • #2
    I had great success putting my 27-year-old TB on beet pulp (mixed in with his TC Senior). He gets four cups of BP (w/out molasses) soaked, of course. The BP has made a huge difference. He can still eat hay (I feed a mixture of alfalfa and orchard) but if he couldn't, I'd definitely go the pellet route, soaking the pellets to make a nice mash of them. I've also noticed a huge improvement in his life since I started him on SmartPak Senior- an amazing change and I highly recommend it.

    Good luck!
    R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

    Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.


    • #3
      "Quidding" of hay is a teeth issue. When was the last time they were done and were they done by a vet or an equine dentist? Was a speculum used?

      Both my 26 year olds now quid their hay. Their teeth are basically "expired" now and really not much is done to them anymore. They are still checked twice a year though by an equine dentist.

      As far as diet goes - my hard keeper TB now gets soaked Tim/Alf cubes for his "hay." For his high caloric meal, he gets alfalfa pellets, rice bran, beet pulp, flax, a pre-biotic, all natural apple cider vinegar, a vit/min supplement and salt. That is served up well soaked. When he is finished with that meal and his cubes..............his third course - right before he gets turned out - is 2 cups of Seminole Wellness Senior. I am not a fan of complete feeds, but he needed this little bit to get the last 50 lbs. on him.


      • #4
        Certainly a tooth issue. If it is something that has just developed you need to get a good equine dentist/vet out to take a look. Horses with good teeth will not wad hay. Most likely your horse has an infected tooth, a tooth with a large cavity or a tooth that is loose and needs to be pulled. If your vet didn't pick up on this, I would find a new vet. It is pretty basic medicine. Good luck.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for the advise everyone. His teeth were done in January, so I guess it time again, and was done by the vet, however he wasn't having this problem in January. He had some sharp edges which were filed down, but I will make sure the vet takes a closer look this time.


          • #6
            My older guy gets soaked beet pulp mixed with soaked alfalfa cubes, he gets phase 5 senior by Pennfield and max-e-glo rice bran.

            We go through about 50 lbs of grain a week and about 50 lbs of alfalfa and about 40 lbs of beet pulp, less of the forage in the summer as he can sorta eat grass but in the winter I feed a bit more of the forage

            This spring he stopped eating for a bit and lost weight and looked like he was on death's door, the blood panel was not crazy off but no major indication, we gave him steroids and antibiotices since he did have a tooth abcess that the vet found. We thought we were going to put him down then he decided to eat again.

            I am worried that he might do that again this winter, he sometimes just stops eating as much but I can usually get him to eat by feeding our other horse some of the beet pulp then he gets jealous and eats it better.

            He is unregistered but most likely around 28


            • #7
              i've had my vet look at my horses teeth in the past but i feel that they don't do as good of a job as a good dentist.

              for my older guy i use tim/alfalfa cubes to help keep his weight on. i always soak them. i like knowing that he's definitely getting some water into him too!


              • #8
                IME - *most* vets do not do a good job with teeth. I'd get a good equine dentist that uses a speculum and a light and REALLY looks in there - not just feels around with their hand.

                Some equine dentists are not that swell either - so make sure you get a good recommendation. I used a certified dentist for 7 years, 2x a year. I switched over to a different dentist and OMG - their teeth were a mess! The old dentist did not use sedation and only did a hand float. He also never addressed the front teeth. That old dentists is one of the reasons my two 26year olds are so bad off now.

                New dentist has a trailer they walk on to and are put in stocks. They are sedated and before a speculum is put in their mouths, the front teeth are balanced. He also uses water cooled power tools and will rasp also.


                • #9
                  Old horses and horses under 5 years old should be getting their teeth at least checked every 6 months. It sounds like your horse definitely needs his teeth done.


                  • #10
                    After you get your horse's teeth floated, buy him some omegafields horseshine at tsc and feed it daily. He'll gain weight.


                    • #11
                      We have a 36 year old who has no functional back teeth.
                      He gets beet pulp, senior feed, alfalfa pellets, flax seed
                      and ground grain. He presented with what we thought
                      initially was a bad colic a couple years ago. It did not respond to colic treatment. A second effort led to treating
                      for ulcers. Voila, horse improved rapidly. Appetite also
                      picked up substantially after treatment. (We believe the
                      horse had subclinical ulcer problems for years.) Horse
                      is now kept on ulcer prevention treatment and is looking
                      very good. He does quid hay (likes to suck on a wad so
                      we still give him hay for recreation).
                      Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                      Elmwood, Wisconsin