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Old (NOT) Driving Horse Needs Weight *UPDATE!*

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  • Old (NOT) Driving Horse Needs Weight *UPDATE!*

    I know there are similar threads regarding putting weight on an older horse but in this case there are factors that could make a difference so I'm asking for thoughts/suggestions.

    The subject is a very underweight "aged" Standardbred gelding who was being used on the road as a carriage horse up until 2 days ago (when I got him). I don't know how old he is, but his teeth appear to be those of an older horse and his July, 2012 coggins says "aged". He's a cribber and his teeth show considerable wear from that, which will make it even harder to gauge.

    So, I need to safely bring him up to a healthy weight. At first I assumed he was just underweight because of poor nutrition and hard work. I'd figured I would start him out with plenty of timothy/grass hay and conservative meals of a 10% stable pellet feed, then gradually increase the amount 'til he was ready for a higher energy/calorie feed. But when I realized he's likely a senior, I wondered if I should go right for a source of higher calories/nutrition.

    Knowing that he's fit, skinny, and of questionable but "older" age leaves me confused about his nutritional needs and how to improve his weight without overdoing it too quickly. He's going from "steady use" to "no work" (just daily turn-out & stall at night).

    I have no information on him other than this description: "Traffic-safe and sound. Been on the road in carriage. Nice children's horse. Take home ready to go."
    His appetite is very good and he has no trouble chewing his food. He was de-wormed today.

    To sum it up:
    Need to put weight on an Old(?), Fit, SKINNY, Cribber gelding going from (assumed)hard work - to no work.

    I'll check with my vet but in the meantime, I'd like to hear your input.

    Last edited by CharingHounds; Mar. 26, 2013, 12:23 PM. Reason: add link

  • #2
    How skinny is he? Starvation case or just thin?

    If his body condition score is a one or two, I'd consider following the refeeding protocol

    If he's not that thin, then good quality hay, some alfalfa if he can tolerate it and a good senior should be just fine.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks Simkie. I'd say he's close to a 2 according to the diagrams. That's a very helpful link!


      • #4
        I'd put him on triple crown senior. Seems to be the best IME for older horses needing weight. I'd start him slowly on it and up his intake to what he will need in about a 2 week period just to make sure i don't overdo his system since you don't know what he was getting or how much. Also as much hay as he wants.
        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


        • #5
          He doesn't look like a 2 to me, I think he is at least a 3 but it can be hard to tell from pictures, especially in the winter. I agree with the senior feed regardless of his age as it is easy to digest. At some point I would treat him for ulcers as well due to the cribbing. Best of luck to you both!
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home


          • #6
            You don't need to get him fat in a month, give your current regime some time. Treating for ulcers could help though.

            From what I can see in the last pics, he has nice legs and good feet. How sad that he was dumped for a forty dollar check. Glad he has you now!


            • #7
              I use Sentinel LS for the skinny ones. Easily digested extruded nuggets that have a high fat and fiber content and lower starch levels. Be careful with refeeding syndrome..... I feed 6 times a day at 1# feedings with added chopped hay and a Haynet full at all times good luck!!!


              • Original Poster

                Laurierace, I thought I might be a little extreme calling him a 2, but some of the things on that scale sounded more like him than the #3, so I couldn't decide... I'm relieved that you see him as a 3 or better - 1 and 2 sound like near death to me...
                I just got back from picking up some Purina Senior and Maxi-Glo for him (the local TC sometimes has a limited selection).
                Thanks for the comments. I do plan to take it slow with him, but I want to start out right.
                I'll give him something for ulcers before long too. Don't want to throw too much at him at once. I was even worried that I might have de-wormed him too soon but I just couldn't wait to at least do that. He's a kind fellow. Sigh.
                Last edited by CharingHounds; Mar. 25, 2013, 07:20 PM. Reason: spelling


                • #9
                  Congratulations on your new horse! I don't think he's all that thin- not like you need to do a refeeding protocol with him. Obviously, yes he needs to gain weight, but it's not like his organs are impaired. I'd keep it simple. It's possible that just subtracting the work out of his daily routine will tip the balance between his calorie intake and burning- and he may gain weight well just on a pretty standard diet. Will he have plenty of pasture too? I bet you will have some beautiful pictures of him blooming this spring as he fills AND sheds out.


                  • #10
                    Congrats! Is he tattoed?? Always fun to find out who they are...

                    STBs tend to be pretty easy keepers, I'd imagine he'll pick up weight pretty quickly.


                    • Original Poster

                      Big_Tag, originally I didn't see a freezebrand so I checked his lip. I thought I saw the remnants of an extremely faded tattoo. But the next day, I noticed some faint white hairs under his mane where the freezebrand would be. There's not enough to make out if really WAS a brand, which is another thing that makes me believe he's pretty old. I might clip the area though, and see if I can see anything. It 'll be a long-shot I think...
                      Last edited by CharingHounds; Mar. 25, 2013, 08:04 PM. Reason: typo


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CharingHounds View Post
                        Big_Tag, originally I didn't see a freezebrand so I checked his lip. I thought I saw the remnants of an extremely faded tattoo. But the next day, I noticed some faint white hairs under his mane where the freezebrand would be. There's not enough to make out if really WAS a brand, which is another thing that makes me believe he's pretty old. I might clip the area though, and see if I can see anything. It 'll be a long-shot I think...
                        Well..a few things: One, if he is really that old, he probably is tattooed. I want to say mid-90s is when the real switchover from tattooing to freezebranding happened. That being said, it's not out of the realm of possibility he does have some sort of freezebrand even if he IS tattooed; some farms used freezebranding on foals' necks and even sternums for ID purposes back before freezebranding was the norm.
                        I'd probably clip that neck and see what you find, but if he is tattooed, even if you can only make out a couple numbers/a letter it might not be too hard to track down who he is; The United States Trotting Ass'n has a free tattoo lookup that you can use with a few characters missing.


                        • #13
                          We have had good results putting weight on horses, young and old, by feeding beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, mixed with senior grain. Soaked. Beet pulp has more calories then hay but less complications then grain. Then we keep hay in front of them 24/7. Start slow and build up. What a lucky guy that you found him.


                          • #14
                            First of all, Bless Your Heart for taking him! I don't think he looks to bad either, thin for sure but certainly not a starvation case. I've had great luck over the last 2 years with TC Senior and Rice Bran pellets on my 28 yr old TB mare. I also supplement with Probios. I'm sure you'll have him looking great in no time.


                            • #15
                              He looks like a real sweetheart!
                              ~ A true friend knows all there is to know about you and still likes you. -E. Hubbard


                              • Original Poster

                                OMG!!!. After clipping his neck, I found there IS a freezebrand and it's perfectly legible!
                                I'm SO happy to find out who he is and he's ONLY 11
                                years old

                                SAMMY T PARK (Z90903, G)
                                BATTERY PARK - SWEET TILLY - ARTILLERY

                                GENERAL INFORMATION
                                Foaling Date: 05/29/2002 Sex: Gelding
                                Foaling Place: CARLETON MI Color: Bay
                                Tattoo: Freezebrand: Z9090
                                Death Date: S&D Last Year:
                                Markings: NO WHITE MARKINGS.
                                Last edited by CharingHounds; Mar. 26, 2013, 12:27 PM.


                                • #17

                                  That's the face of a horse who thinks things are looking up..
                                  Founding Member: Spotted Saddlebred Pals Clique


                                  • #18
                                    thank you so much for taking him. There are so many like him around here and Tuesday, today, is auction day. I bet I could go and get a dozen of them each week. He is a lucky guy and I am so glad you can not only give him a home and good food, but also give him his identity back. Thank you so much!


                                    • #19
                                      I would get his teeth done too and I betit won't take him long to pick up. Good on you for giving him another chance


                                      • #20
                                        At 11 he is far from old. Six weeks of good grub, after a deworming, and dental update, should work wonders.
                                        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.