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Make My Old Pony Eat!

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  • Make My Old Pony Eat!

    Sorry this is long, but this pony is driving me crazy. She has always been a little bit of a freak in general and never too attached to her food. She will turn 25 this year (I've had her for 16). She has decided she cannot stand long enough to eat enough food to keep her fat through the winter. She gets Triple Crown Sr 2x a day and MSM and electrolytes at night. My farrier and I both suspect she is insulin resistant so she doesn't get anything with sugar. She won't finish her meals anymore.

    I've tried feeding her in the barn (shedrow) with the other horses, she stall weaves at the door after a few bites. If I let her eat outside she just wanders away from her bucket. The other horses have to be in with her at all times. She will eat hay, but only as long as the other horses are all out with her (she is low man in the pecking order of 4). She won't eat hay in a stall.

    I work 10 hour days, so spreading out feedings is not an option. I have been supplementing them with Hay Stretcher (alfafa pellets) all winter, which she will usually eat. She does like bran mashes, but won't always finish them. She hates any type of oil and anything powdered (I dissolve her night supps with a little bit of water) All of the other horses are fatties, but she is starting to look ribby. Vet has been out and there are no teeth issues. She will eat for a few min, but will quit on any large volume, so beet pulp is out.

    Suggestions for packing lots of calories in a little space? They aren't getting free choice hay right now, but the 4 of them get 2 50 lbs bales of hay a day, which she usually wanders away from. She is driving me crazy. I've never had such a PITA to feed, including a hard TB!
    Nomini Farm

    Madeira the Intermediate Pony!

  • #2
    Is that the same horse in your link? She is very cute! At 25, she's no spring chicken. I'd be getting the vet out to run some blood work, I know you had her teeth looked at,and they were fine, but run some tests to make sure nothing else is going on.
    If she is picky and not eating up, it'll be tough to add calories if she is turning up her nose.
    When our old gal who was pushing thirty, she went off her feed and would just pick at it. It was really difficult to get her to finish her meal. I bought some special, extra soft second cut hay that I would give her in her stall. I soaked her Blue Seal Vintage Senior, and added beet pulp. Like your gal, though, she just wouldn't finish it up.

    Good luck with your lovely pony.
    "Anti-intellect and marketing, pretty, pretty, who needs talent
    Crying eyes, we're so outnumbered, fight for the right to remain silent" Buck 65


    • #3
      I second the bloodwork suggestion. Find out what you're dealing with first. Beet pulp and senior work well, as does soaking hay cubes.


      • #4
        If nothing shows up on bloodwork and you are still having trouble getting her to consume calories, you may want to try corn oil via dosing syringe.


        • #5
          I second the bloodwork, at least you would know what you were or were not dealing with. We have used Purina Amplify for some of our seniors. It looks a little like cat food, just a warning. But, it is high fat, you feed a small amount, and even our picky eaters seem to like it. I am sure there are other similar products, but we have had really good luck with this one. You can go on Purina Horse Feeds website to get additonal info.

          Good luck.

          Quality Hunter Ponies


          • #6
            Vet has been out and there are no teeth issues.
            Equine vet or vet that does horses among other clients?
            Call up your vet & describe the issues & ask what he would recommend (personally I'd want my vet to say bloodwork is the next step to rule out metabolic issues ...)


            • #7
              Third (or fourth) on check her blood work. On my metablic horse, who is 27, who gets low starch (not the highest calorie food, but a necessary adjustment) and alfalfa pellets, I have had to resort to a cup of applesauce in his grain. He has never been much of a hay eater and the calories have to come from somewhere. The vet is on board with this, as the lessor of the evils. We also cut back on all supplements except for the Thyro L and the daily dewormer. We had him on the Smart Pack Smart Control and MSM, and while we liked the results, he went on a food strike. Good luck.
              RIP Mydan Mydandy+
              RIP Barichello


              • #8
                We struggled to keep our 36 year old horse in good weight. Then he developed what the vet first thought was colic but it didn't respond to banamine or other usual treatment. My DH suspected the horse might have an ulcer and we treated for that. Horse not only lost all colic symptoms, but his appetite pickup up a great deal.
                Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                Elmwood, Wisconsin


                • #9
                  so sorry that you are dealing with this, it can be an act of frustration. I am lucky that or older guy loves his grain and max-e-glo but he can't eat hay and he sulks at his soaked alfalfa cubes and beet pulp at times, sometimes I have to entice him to eat it by putting salt or max-e-glo on the mush.

                  get the blood work done, that way you atleast have a baseline or it can show it anything is abnormal

                  last spring our guy did stop eating, it turned out to be an abcess from a broken tooth, the fragment was removed and he got antibiotics but still didn't want to eat, as a last resort he was given steroids to try to up his apetite and lucky for him it did as we were about to put him down, he looked that bad

                  also check for paristies, if your pony has any they are taking away nutrients that your pony needs, our boys are on a regular deworming but when we had the no eating incident a fecal was checked and he did have some parisites so he got power packed, as did our other horse


                  • #10
                    excerpt from this column
                    Finally, if appetite is an issue, try a product with fenugreek in it, an herb recently ranked first in a study of flavor preferences of horses! The same author also did a study where horses ate more forage (both grass and hay) when they were provided some variety, instead of just one kind day after day.


                    • #11
                      I second the ulcer thought, if she is low man on the totem pole and elderly she may be getting anxiety from the other horses...if bloodwork is good, ask Vet if u can try a few doses of ulcerguard.if it is ulcers you should start to see improvement in 4-5 days, and then can continue the ulcerguard for the total 3 week regimine, then keep her on an ulcer supp. My picky eaters, ulcer sensitive horses eat up the gastro ease no problem in their grain with a little water added to it...I also add corn oil to the beet pulp when it is soaking, instead of top dressing, this seems to work for my picky eaters also...


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Equsrider View Post
                        I second the ulcer thought, if she is low man on the totem pole and elderly she may be getting anxiety from the other horses...if bloodwork is good, ask Vet if u can try a few doses of ulcerguard.if it is ulcers you should start to see improvement in 4-5 days, and then can continue the ulcerguard for the total 3 week regimine, then keep her on an ulcer supp. My picky eaters, ulcer sensitive horses eat up the gastro ease no problem in their grain with a little water added to it...I also add corn oil to the beet pulp when it is soaking, instead of top dressing, this seems to work for my picky eaters also...
                        The ulcer was my first thought, too. If blood work shows no problems I think ulcer treatment would be the next thing I did.

                        I wish you luck solving this problem. Our horses can worry us to death can't they?
                        You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.