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How Fast Can A Cold Horse Loose Weight

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  • How Fast Can A Cold Horse Loose Weight

    I don't want to go into the dirty details but how quickly can a horse loose weight? Horse is almost 20, a harder keeper that was in ok weight. Horse had very little hair and has been blanketed since mid-November. Owner took said horse's blanket off one evening and it got down to 24 degrees that night and the following night was about 32 degrees. The horse was in a stall out of the wind, but shivering. The horse went from ribs lightly covered to ribs visible and backbone more present. I'm guessing a 100+ pound weight loss. Please tell me your experience with this.

  • #2
    I dont think that is possible. IME what IS possible is that the horse is severely dehydrated.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


    • #3
      Some horses can drop weight fast, but physiologically to lose 100 pounds in a period of one day is virtually impossible. I second the dehydration theory.
      Click here before you buy.


      • #4
        Shivering burns roughly 400cals/hr in humans. Thats the number that gets kicked around in the survival training I have had at least. I have never seen any numbers run on a horse...lets guess around 8-10x that....so 3200cal/hr....maybe..

        100 plus pounds of weight lost in 2days (am I reading that right?) would be around....
        (100lb X 3500cal/lb)/2 days= 175000cals burned each day.

        175000cal/(3200cal/hr)= 54 hrs of shivering....in a 24hr period. So no does not sound like it is a calories burned by shivering thing only.

        EqTrainer is probably right. Cold horses do not drink cold water very well.

        Somebody needs to put a blanket back on the horse and offer it a drink of water that is luke warm.


        • Original Poster

          Thank you for your imput. I think it was about a 48 hour period. The first night is when they said he shivered. I'm not sure if he shivered the second night and they didn't say. It was warmer the second night without the blanket, but still around freezing. I'm so up-set I could spit right now. I don't take care of the horse, so I'm not sure how much water it is/isn't drinking. Horse now has a blanket back on and some education was provided to the owner. I had seen the horse a few days prior and he looked ok - ribs not visible but still not fat like he should be for a QH. He looked very different in the span of about 4 days. I would call him **thin** at this point.


          • #6
            I'm with everyone else. I don't think that 100 lbs. was literally lost over a 48 hour period, but weight loss can really sneak up on you.

            For what it's worth, I have my 20 year old gelding on some Buckeye Ultimate Finish 25% and I LOVE it. It is a fat supplement and he gobbles it up. My BO and I were just talking about how good he looks earlier this week!

            My guy is becoming a seasonally harder keeper as he gets older, which is to be expected. Last winter, he went from looking alright to looking thin in the course of about 10 days. I noticed it one day and asked the BO about it a few days later when I was chatting with her and he had lost more weight in the interim! BO had already upped his feed to a winter ration and that just didn't do it for him.

            Once the round bales came out, he was fine, but I got the jump on it this year. I added the Ultimate Finish to his feed this fall (maybe 4 cups per day) and he looks great! I highly recommend this to keep weight on an older horse.
            "The Prince" aka Front Row
            Cavalier Manor


            • #7
              Going with the posters above: dehydration is a good guess. In cold weather a lot of water is lost via respiration, add reluctance to drink or frozen water supply for part of the day...bad news.

              Hope he ends up ok.


              • #8
                Yep sounds like dehydration. It is like when you have to trailer a horse over a great distance they will come off the trailer looking "sucked in" and thin. Some is actual weight loss but a lot of it is lack of drinking.


                • #9
                  Many horses, especially ones that are already cold, do not like to drink cold water. 1st, make sure that on the nights it is below freezing that the water buckets are not actually freezing over. After that has been resolved, find a way to keep his water warmer, it should be comfortable enough to put your hand in and hold it there, but not actually warm. If you do not have the ability to plug in a bucket warmer, at least insulate the buckets and start with slightly warm water. It will add a couple hours in the right temp range before it cools down. If you are really organized you can put relatively hot water in one bucket, by the time the room temp one cools the one that started hot will be just right. Just like people, a dehydrated horse will feel the cold much more acutely than a well hydrated one.

                  Also think about adding some extra calories in the winter. My old guy gets a full cup of oil on top of every meal. That is more than most horses will need or find palatable, but every bit helps. Best of luck, keeping an older horse in good weight through the winter can be frustrating!


                  • #10
                    You gotta feed the fire, add fuel Or in this case "food" to keep the inner warmth burning. This true for ALL type of animals.


                    • #11
                      Does he have heated water buckets? If possible, add at least one. I know my horses *love* heated water. I also feed beet-pulp in the winter, which is great for adding water to their diet.


                      • #12
                        My old girl won't drink "warm" water in the winter but she will devour her TC Sr feed soaked in warm water. For the record she drinks well out of the outside water tank even if there is ice.
                        Get water into him anyway he will accept and keep the blanket on him. Some horses are ok without a blanket but he is telling everyone he needs one.
                        "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                        Courtesy my cousin Tim


                        • #13
                          I agree with the others that a 100lb drop in two days isn't likely, but I do want to say that on an old horse who is just on the north side of "too thin" it probably wouldn't take a 100lb loss for him to go from slender-but-ok to Uh-Oh.

                          I have a TB who used to drop big weight at multi-day shows. I'm sure a big part of if was dehydration, but he would go from fit looking to wasp-waisted in 3 days time. He was very dedicated to 24/7 whinnying and stall walking. Perhaps I should give that a try!

                          Good luck.


                          • #14
                            Agree with all the rest, and will add that my old guy, and my almost-old guy, both can get a different look in a day or two if the hay changes. The Almost-Old Guy is incredibly picky about hay and I can watch the hay belly grow or tighten up based on the hay that's offered. Add that to the possibility of dehydration - if he doesn't want to eat, it won't trigger the desire to drink - and I can see a visible change pretty quickly. The other thing I notice with my very old guy is posture. He can stand up and lean on his stall guard and look 17 hands tall and 5 years old, or he can stand at the back of the stall with his head hanging and his belly and back sagging and look like he's 106 and starving -- all within a half hour, some days! If the horse in question had a rough night of shivering, not eating or drinking as usual, and standing funny to try to keep warm, he could look bad pretty quickly.

                            The real question now is how quickly does he bounce back. If he looks normal again after a day or two with his blanket on and milder temps, then you have an answer - if he continues to lose weight even with the blanket, you know there's something else going on.


                            • #15
                              Sure, a horse can drop weight quickly under certain conditions and especially when dehydrated. So I guess it isn't shocking to think that that an older horse in thinnish condition might lose a visible amount of weight if left outside in cold weather without a blanket for one or two days, especially if he's used to being blanketed and his system is shocked to the point of shivering and, no doubt, not drinking water in his suddenly freezing cold state. A few days in a blanketed state should get them comfortable enough to start drinking again, and once rehydrated, they'll usually look a good bit better. But at least some real weight was lost during this event, so it will take extra calories over a sustained period of time for the horse to gain weight.

                              How often do you normally see the horse without a blanket and when was the last time you saw it naked, before this unblanketing event? I ask because the horse could have been losing condition for some time if it wears a blanket 24/7 and the caretakers aren't paying attention. So this is at least worth considering and also that it was without a blanket for a longer period of time than described to you.


                              • #16
                                Those temps are not that cold. I agree that you can see a huge difference in the look of a horse that is not drinking. If the horse is cold are they keeping hay in front of her 24/7 and warmed water to encourage drinking? If she won't eat or is really cold, she probably isn't drinking anywhere near enough water.