• Welcome to the Chronicle Forums.
    Please complete your profile. The forums and the rest of www.chronofhorse.com has single sign-in, so your log in information for one will automatically work for the other. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Chronicle of the Horse.



Forum rules and no-advertising policy

As a participant on this forum, it is your responsibility to know and follow our rules. Please read this message in its entirety.

Board Rules

1. You’re responsible for what you say.
As outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, The Chronicle of the Horse and its affiliates, as well Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., the developers of vBulletin, are not legally responsible for statements made in the forums.

This is a public forum viewed by a wide spectrum of people, so please be mindful of what you say and who might be reading it—details of personal disputes are likely better handled privately. While posters are legally responsible for their statements, the moderators may in their discretion remove or edit posts that violate these rules. Users have the ability to modify or delete their own messages after posting, but administrators generally will not delete posts, threads or accounts upon request.

Outright inflammatory, vulgar, harassing, malicious or otherwise inappropriate statements and criminal charges unsubstantiated by a reputable news source or legal documentation will not be tolerated and will be dealt with at the discretion of the moderators.

2. Conversations in horse-related forums should be horse-related.
The forums are a wonderful source of information and support for members of the horse community. While it’s understandably tempting to share information or search for input on other topics upon which members might have a similar level of knowledge, members must maintain the focus on horses.

3. Keep conversations productive, on topic and civil.
Discussion and disagreement are inevitable and encouraged; personal insults, diatribes and sniping comments are unproductive and unacceptable. Whether a subject is light-hearted or serious, keep posts focused on the current topic and of general interest to other participants of that thread. Utilize the private message feature or personal email where appropriate to address side topics or personal issues not related to the topic at large.

4. No advertising in the discussion forums.
Posts in the discussion forums directly or indirectly advertising horses, jobs, items or services for sale or wanted will be removed at the discretion of the moderators. Use of the private messaging feature or email addresses obtained through users’ profiles for unsolicited advertising is not permitted.

Company representatives may participate in discussions and answer questions about their products or services, or suggest their products on recent threads if they fulfill the criteria of a query. False "testimonials" provided by company affiliates posing as general consumers are not appropriate, and self-promotion of sales, ad campaigns, etc. through the discussion forums is not allowed.

Paid advertising is available on our classifieds site and through the purchase of banner ads. The tightly monitored Giveaways forum permits free listings of genuinely free horses and items available or wanted (on a limited basis). Items offered for trade are not allowed.

Advertising Policy Specifics
When in doubt of whether something you want to post constitutes advertising, please contact a moderator privately in advance for further clarification. Refer to the following points for general guidelines:

Horses – Only general discussion about the buying, leasing, selling and pricing of horses is permitted. If the post contains, or links to, the type of specific information typically found in a sales or wanted ad, and it’s related to a horse for sale, regardless of who’s selling it, it doesn’t belong in the discussion forums.

Stallions – Board members may ask for suggestions on breeding stallion recommendations. Stallion owners may reply to such queries by suggesting their own stallions, only if their horse fits the specific criteria of the original poster. Excessive promotion of a stallion by its owner or related parties is not permitted and will be addressed at the discretion of the moderators.

Services – Members may use the forums to ask for general recommendations of trainers, barns, shippers, farriers, etc., and other members may answer those requests by suggesting themselves or their company, if their services fulfill the specific criteria of the original post. Members may not solicit other members for business if it is not in response to a direct, genuine query.

Products – While members may ask for general opinions and suggestions on equipment, trailers, trucks, etc., they may not list the specific attributes for which they are in the market, as such posts serve as wanted ads.

Event Announcements – Members may post one notification of an upcoming event that may be of interest to fellow members, if the original poster does not benefit financially from the event. Such threads may not be “bumped” excessively. Premium members may post their own notices in the Event Announcements forum.

Charities/Rescues – Announcements for charitable or fundraising events can only be made for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. Special exceptions may be made, at the moderators’ discretion and direction, for board-related events or fundraising activities in extraordinary circumstances.

Occasional posts regarding horses available for adoption through IRS-registered horse rescue or placement programs are permitted in the appropriate forums, but these threads may be limited at the discretion of the moderators. Individuals may not advertise or make announcements for horses in need of rescue, placement or adoption unless the horse is available through a recognized rescue or placement agency or government-run entity or the thread fits the criteria for and is located in the Giveaways forum.

5. Do not post copyrighted photographs unless you have purchased that photo and have permission to do so.

6. Respect other members.
As members are often passionate about their beliefs and intentions can easily be misinterpreted in this type of environment, try to explore or resolve the inevitable disagreements that arise in the course of threads calmly and rationally.

If you see a post that you feel violates the rules of the board, please click the “alert” button (exclamation point inside of a triangle) in the bottom left corner of the post, which will alert ONLY the moderators to the post in question. They will then take whatever action, or no action, as deemed appropriate for the situation at their discretion. Do not air grievances regarding other posters or the moderators in the discussion forums.

Please be advised that adding another user to your “Ignore” list via your User Control Panel can be a useful tactic, which blocks posts and private messages by members whose commentary you’d rather avoid reading.

7. We have the right to reproduce statements made in the forums.
The Chronicle of the Horse may copy, quote, link to or otherwise reproduce posts, or portions of posts, in print or online for advertising or editorial purposes, if attributed to their original authors, and by posting in this forum, you hereby grant to The Chronicle of the Horse a perpetual, non-exclusive license under copyright and other rights, to do so.

8. We reserve the right to enforce and amend the rules.
The moderators may delete, edit, move or close any post or thread at any time, or refrain from doing any of the foregoing, in their discretion, and may suspend or revoke a user’s membership privileges at any time to maintain adherence to the rules and the general spirit of the forum. These rules may be amended at any time to address the current needs of the board.

Please see our full Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Thanks for being a part of the COTH forums!

(Revised 1/26/16)
See more
See less

Weight gain vs Muscle development-OTTB

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Weight gain vs Muscle development-OTTB

    Hi all,

    I recently acquired a 7yo OTTB in February who is lovely but I just can't seem to get weight on him! He is 17.3 and built on the thin side but I am seeing far too many bones right now.

    He is on continuous turnout on great grass-- but as it is getting buggier he spends most of his time in the run-in shed rather than grazing. I have been giving him good quality fescue in the shed just to supplement him since he is not keen on leaving to graze before dusk.

    I am feeding him an 11% pellets-- 3 scoops/ day. He LOVES to eat and is super laid-back so I really don't suspect ulcers.

    He is on a regular deworming schedule but a friend of mine recommended giving him ivermectin every 3 weeks for a few months to see if that would help so I have recently started that (on dose 2 but not much improvement so far).

    His coat looks great (aside from a recent battle with rainrot) and he seems really happy and hungry. He is not gaining much muscle mass though despite being ridden about every other day. His teeth have been checked by my vet at purchase and I had my horse dentist float them a couple of months ago.

    I am tempted to try something like CoolCalories or FatCat on him. Does anyone have any experience or recommendations with those? Should I try a muscle development supplement instead? I really don't want him to become hotter since I bought him for his temperament. I just want him to pack some weight on before hunt season begins again.

    Any suggestions or experiences welcome!!!

  • #2
    I'm no nutrition expert and my new nutrition book (a Christmas gift) is currently sitting on its shelf at home BUT, I'll try to offer a little help and hopefully the experts here step in and fill in the rest:

    A horse's nutritional needs should be met by forage (hay, grass) first, then supplementation (ie, pellets, etc) if necessary. It's efficient and closest to nature's intentions and the horse's design. In the grand scheme of things, grass is not as efficient as hay, so if he's already not getting sufficient grass, definitely supplement with hay! Lots of it! On that note, consider a fly sheet so he is more comfortable grazing. I can't comment on the fescue hay though since I am not familiar with it - it is not one of the hays common to this area.

    As for supplementation, 11% - but what kind of feed? And how much? 3 scoops tells us nothing. What do 3 scoops weigh? If you are going to supplement, go with high fats. Fats are more efficient, are more easily digested, and won't give you the energy high you get from the concentrates (which comes from the starches - ie, sweet feed). Try senior feed or beat pulp with flax, or BOSS (never tried BOSS myself, but it's gotten some GREAT reviews). The feeds you mentioned have been mentioned on this board and IIRC they are also efficient and effective. Start with feeding the amount recommended on the bag, then adjust from there. He might gain more energy with more weight, but he won't gain a sugar high if you stick to fats. In this case, you might want to keep a good balance of protein though, to build muscle. Make sure you are only feeding so much pelleted feed (ie, no more than a few pounds, and spread out over the day) - the majority of his diet should be forage.

    As far as his not building muscle - he can't, if he lacks sufficient weight and fat. Put some weight on him so he has something to turn into muscle. He can't build that muscle now though, with nothing from which to build it! If weight is a huge concern, cut back his work schedule. Then condition as his weight picks up.

    He might not be displaying the usual signs of ulcers, but you still might consider that being a factor here.

    As for the Ivermectin - honestly, that sounds like insanity to me. If you suspect worms, you usually de-worm with something 'gentle' first, such as Safeguard. Then de-worm with something 'stronger', such as Ivermectin, a couple weeks later. This kills the worms in stages and prevents a massive die-off and thus impaction and potential colic. Obviously you have already de-wormed him a couple times now and that is not a concern though - just mentioned it as pretty much the only scenario where you would de-worm more than once within a short time period. If he is in with other horses, de-worm everyone at the same time. Studies show that if you de-worm all horses in one pasture on various schedules and times, that the de-worming will be about as effective as your not having de-wormed at all. This is because infected horses will shed worms and pass them back on to the freshly de-wormed horse, and so on - the cycle continues. So make sure everyone is on the same schedule! Otherwise, I cannot see any benefit of de-worming every few weeks for several months. The Ivermectin will do its job the first time round and especially by the second round.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


    • #3
      I've had a couple of TBs over the years who have taken 1-2 years to start putting on visible weight. My gelding who I'm doing the big jumps with now is one of those. My vet tried to reassure me early on by saying that some horses need to start putting weight on internally before they gain it where it's visible and that can be a long (ish) process with some.

      With my guy, I tried everything along the way, and ulcers were not an issue, and neither was anything else discernably physical. It took close to 18 months to get my guy to the point that he didn't look like a "racehorse fit" TB (with visible ribs and that wasp-waisted look). I tried Cool Calories and bunch of different supplements and grains, but the final "solution" was simply the course of time (in conjunction with good food and good conditioning).

      I had another little tiny TB (15.1h on a good day, and very, very slight-built) who took a solid 2 years to get to what I woud consider a healthy point. He had lived with 30-something ponies for the last 10 years living on whatever he could scavenge from the flake of alfalfa he and "his" 2 ponies were fed each day, and was horrible looking when I picked him up. Interestingly, his tongue was an odd color for almost 2 years, which I kept noticing and wondering if it was related to his physical health (a la Chinese medicine theories). He progressed slowly over time with little things noticeable at each step along the way (shinier coat, less brittle mane and tail, healthier feet, quicker healing process for minor wounds, etc.). At about the 2 year point he started packing on weight and his tongue went from the odd greenish/yellow color to bright pink. He's been a cute little round thing ever since (well, as round as a slender TB can get!).

      Anyhow, most of my TBs have NOT been that type over the years, and I expect a horse to pack on weight much more quicky than that. But when I run into a horse that is resistant to putting on weight now I don't worry about it (after checking out anything I can via blood tests, scoping, etc.) and just keep good hay in front of them 24/7 in addition to keeping them on grass. I don't object to adding oil or a fat supplement to the diet, but I haven't seen a big difference on horses that I've owned that really needed it (and by that, I mean horses who are built on the skinny side naturally). I think you really have to take into consideration the conformation and size of the horse. I would expect a 17.3h horse to naturally be thinner than a shorter, stockier horse (I think the well proportioned 17.3h horse is a rare bird indeed).
      Flying F Sport Horses
      Horses in the NW


      • #4
        Gro and Win along with Ultimate Finish

        I have had the very good results using Buckeye feeds: Gro and Win is the high protein pellet and Ultimate Finish is the rice bran based supplement.

        I had tried several supplements and products designed to put weight on but without much success.


        • #5
          Of all the TBs I've had, my current guy is the hardest to keep weight on. And he's not so much a hard keeper, but needs a specific diet. I often wonder if I went back and fed previous horses the same way if they wouldn't be even easier. lol

          Anyhow, key for my guy was ridiculous amounts of hay. If he gets a little low weight-wise, I add a couple flakes of alfalfa or some cubes. He usually gets around 26 lbs a day of good quality grass hay. We feed as much as it takes so that he still has a little left at the next feeding.

          To support that, he gets 7 lbs of Triple Crown Senior, with SmartOmega3 from Smartpak. When we had a TC supply issue late last year, he lost all his muscle tone and it took me a solid two months after we got it sorted out to get him back where I like him.

          When the hay is *really* good, he doesn't need the grain and it gets cut down quite bit. An interesting thing about a lot of my TBs, mine have tended to hold weight better when they're in a solid program of work. If I'm putting weight on them, they get "lunch", adding a third meal is the quickest way I've found to boost weight.

          All this is assuming you've ruled out any medical cause like ulcers and worms.
          Equestrian Photography


          • #6
            Alfalfa/timothy or timothy/orchard grass hay and lots of it. I then feed Triple Crown Senior...up to 4 to 5 lbs/feed. IBW Massage, I have the same feeding program...the SmartOmega 3's really put the bloom on his coat too.

            And definitely add a third meal if it's needed. Just space them out by about 5 hours.


            • #7
              Fescue is OK but not as nutritionally dense as something like alfalfa. If alfalfa hay isn't available you can feed cubes or pellets (cubes are better in terms of fiber). General rule of thumb.....1.5-2% of ideal body wt per day in several meals.....he's a big boy so say he should weigh 1500.....that would mean 22.5 to 30 lbs of really good quality (14% protein or better...higher protein doesn't do harm unless there is kidney or liver damage pre-existing) a day. Grains (high in carbs) are the usual culprit in getting horses "high" but some probably won't hurt. And you can add fats to them to get the fats eaten. Fats have about 2.5 x the calories per wt measure (gram, ounce, pound) as carbs so really add the potential for wt gain much more than carbs do. I start off with maybe .5% of body wt in grain based feed and add 1/4 cup of oil (the cheap stuff at WalMart in large jugs...store in cool, dark place esp in summer to avoid going rancid) at two feedings...for a week. The second week bump one feeding up to 1/2 cup, the third week bump up the other feeding to 1/2 cup. Continue until feeding 1 cup per feeding unless he gets cow patty manure...back up a bit if that happens. Sometimes they don't like the taste/texture at first in which case I add a tablespoon of molasses to the oil and mix well (just mix up a separate smaller jug with some so you don't have to do it each feeding....enough to do several days...then you can cut back the flavored stuff with plain and use it up that way to get him eating it). Or go to commercial high fat feeds or add things like black oil sunflower seeds or flax seed. Keep in mind that adult horses are going to gain maybe a pound or two per day max....and spread out over a 17.3 frame it is going to take a bit to notice it.....and I agree that they seem to gain "internal" fat stores before putting on an outside layer where you can see it. In the average sized horse it takes 100-150 lbs of gain to go up 1 point on a BCS so it can take awhile. I'd also cut back his work a bit until you see gain taking place...not much point in burning up calories working if you are trying to get wt on him. As he begins to fill out you could then start a conditioning program slowly so as not to burn off the wt he has gained. Got an elderly (26 I think..have to check her papers) Arab mare here that lost when she came from lush pasture at sea level to desert and hay at 4000 feet AND didn't do well in herd situation AND is a major hussy when in season and doesn't eat as she's so busy flirting....got here and promptly dropped wt and it has taken much of the winter to get it back on her...now starting to look good again but betting she dropped close to 200 lbs in the first two months she was here...she's also not happy with the least little bit of chill in the air...winter was tough for both of us. She's 15 hands and typically Arab built....so weighs maybe 1000-1100 when in good flesh....and she's eating about 25 lbs of prime (for horses) alfalfa a day plus 4-5 lbs of a grain based feed twice a day and 1/2 cup of oil each feeding (all she tolerates)....it took about 3 weeks of this before I saw even an ounce of gain on her....she is pretty active even in a pen. Now with spring and the return of heat cycles she's still gaining but slower....upping her hay to about 30 lbs a day....and it is 16% alfalfa (lower end dairy quality which is largely what is produced here).
              Colored Cowhorse Ranch
              Northern NV


              • #8
                I've worked with alot of TB's... My current horse took a long time to figure out... but once we did we;ve never looked back!

                I find taking the crap out and giving more natural feeds works wonders. I've had great success with feeding beet pulp, oats and barley and a supplement. I've used both Fat Cat (which I cant find in Canada anymore, but its in the US) and also rice bran supplements work well.

                Plus, like the others have said, hay/grass is #1. And also feeding the grain portion split bettween 2-3 meals a day will help.
                "My ideal horse is the horse that I fall in love with again every morning when I see his face hanging over the stable door, looking for breakfast. " - Jim Wofford


                • #9
                  I have 4 TBs ranging from 5 yrs - 22 yrs and 15.2 - 16.2 hands.... They live on a round bale (not always an option for people) of a grass/alfalfa mix hay FREE CHOICE which we had tested at 16% protein. It's RICH.

                  During winter, they're on that PLUS I supplement straight alfalfa on top of it off another roundbale. That seems to keep them going.
                  During summer, they're just on the mix bale only.

                  The one in HARD work (the 16.2) also gets grain added. He's on about 4 lbs per day of dry distillers grain mixed with cracked corn. This is a bi-product of ethanol and it's straight corn with the starch taken out....VERY high energy but doesn't make them hot. This is also not accessible to many, but its super cheap.

                  For you having a ginormous horse with a crazy metabolism....that means that pasture grazing and a couple flakes of hay simply isn't enough. Weight gain stage and hard work stage are essentially the same.... aka: takes a LOT of energy to accomplish. So until you get him up to par (and will likely have to continue that feeding), you're essentially going to have to stuff his face with really good food, and lots of it! Free choice feeding is always really beneficial.

                  As for temperment....did you buy him as a skinny horse? Chances (generally) are that he was calm cuz he's skinny....adding weight generally puts added life back into a horse, but not always! But really, I've not had ANY of my TBs become hot off straight alfalfa and grain... so that point is relative to the horse.

                  Good luck! Patience plays a very important role in this.
                  Horse Drawings!


                  • #10
                    I've got a horse that sounds similar to yours-really tall, hard to keep weight on. Thanks to some COTH wisdom, I've found something that works for her. Her big issue was that she doesn't eat tons of hay-which is what I needed to get into her. The solution that worked for us was alfalfa pellets-for whatever reason, she will hoover those things up even though she would ignore flakes of hay-even flakes of alfalfa- hanging in her hay net. We also switched her to Ultium grain so we got higher fat/protein for the quantity of grain she was getting.

                    I tried FatCat and wasn't all that impressed. I had better luck with Endure Extra, but that has just been icing on the cake-the alfalfa pellets were what put the weight on for us.