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Old Skinny Horses

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  • Old Skinny Horses

    I know this is probably a common thread topic, but it's a new issue that I'm having to deal with, and I'd like to hear some other folks opinions/advice: I have a 26 year old thoroughbred who looks like hell. He's pasture sound on a gram of bute a day, and he gets pergolide for Cushings. He has a wave mouth and no teeth on one side of it.

    He gets 12 pounds of soaked senior feed in 3 feedings per day, 3 pounds of Amplify, and a smartpak weight-gain supplement. He gets 8 pounds of chopped alfafa (doesn't care for soaked stuff - cubes and hydration hay were ignored) along with pasture and orchard grass hay. He has a good appetite and eats and grazes fine despite his dental issues.

    Earlier this year he colicked, with a right dorsal colon displacement, and I was told he wouldn't make it. I dropped him off at the vet's with instructions to euthanize him as soon as his pain became unmanageable. 3 days later, they told me that he had stabilized, and although his colon was still displaced, it was not obstructed and would eventually right itself. I took him home, made some changes to his feeding schedule, and he seemed OK.

    Unfortunately, after this episode, he began to lose weight. I've done bloodwork, fecal analysis, and given him a powerpac to help him. Tests came back fine, of course. I can see every rib, his hipbones, and his spine. I don't know what to do. I'm spending an enormous amount of money on extra feed and supplements for this horse. While I might not mind so much if it were helping him, he looks like a rescue horse on it's way out and it's breaking my heart as well as my wallet. It doesn't seem right to euthanize him while he's still seems to be enjoying his life.

    Has anyone gone through a similar situation? Any words of wisdom? Thank you.

  • #2
    What kind of senior feed is he on? I've always found that adding rice bran to TC Senior helps the old ones gain weight.

    How much hay is he getting? I would offer him as much as he will eat.
    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      I feed him Triple crown senior. It has beet bulp and rice bran in it, and I'm worried I've maxed-out the amount of grain he can have. Feeding more than 15 pounds of grain a day seems like a recipe for colic. He gets 8 pounds of alfalfa a day and as much orchard grass hay and pasture as he wants.

      Comment


      • #4
        You can add some complete feed, if he will eat it. I would add 5 lbs per day of Purina Omolene 400, the beet pulp based complete feed. The daily maximum on that is very large; something like 25lbs per day.

        Comment


        • #5
          Better too soon than too late. There's absolutely nothing wrong with you trying, but if you're questioning it and it's niggling you that it's too soon- just remember that phrase....
          Kerri

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm thinking the bute could be a problem. Bute can cause ulcers when used long term, even at low dosage. Perhaps ask your vet about switching him to low dose (57g) Previcox? Get the dog verson, the horse version is a paste and is MUCH more expensive. IME, it is very effective for arthritis without as many side effects.

            Also, I agree with kasjordan. There comes a point when it seems like nothing is helping, it's time to seriously think about putting him down. Although thinking of money as a reason to make this decision may seem callous, realistically, at some point for most of us, it has to be part of the equation. There is nothing wrong with considering it when trying to decide what to do. It sounds as though you've tried really hard and perhaps he's just not going to get better. Unfortunately, they ALL reach that point sometime. My motto has always been "Better a month too early than a day too late." {{{{{hugs}}}}}
            IF YOU THINK YOUR BRAIN IS NOT WORTH PROTECTING WITH A HELMET, YOU'RE PROBABLY RIGHT!

            Damrock Farm

            Comment


            • #7
              I would drop the weight gain supplement-most aren't worth the money. I'm not sure which Senior you are feeding, but many are complete feeds (i.e. contain adequate forage that a horse could eat it as their sole ration). If it is, I'd go up to 5 lbs. per feeding/15 lbs. per day. I'd also get some blue pop rocks and treat him for ulcers.

              Comment


              • #8
                I had a similar problem with one of my old ones. He maintained well for Yeats on tc senior and weight builder supplement and added beet pulp. He started dropping weight and we could not seem to keep it on him. He was not horribly skinny but it was a fight to keep him from not getting that way. He did colic we took him to the university for surgery and when they opened him up he had blood clots throughout his intestines that had killed different potions of the intestines. This was causing the problem with weight and we put him down on the table. They could remove the damaged sections but said it would come back. He was 34 yrs old and we were not going to put him through anymore. I'd probably have a vet out to do a good check up on him with blood work and see what they think.
                Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

                Comment


                • #9
                  Having just been down this road with a similar story let me share a few points.

                  1. I'd do away with the weight gain supplement and just add rice bran and/or some additional omega fatty acids (Omega Horseshine is another great one). I wouldn't up his grain any, just add this to what he's getting. He can definitely have more rice bran than what they put in his senior feed currently.

                  2. Check for or just treat for ulcers. The stress of the colic combined with the chronic bute usage can cause ulcers, and getting that under control can make all the difference. We're talking a total turn around in 30 days. If he were mine, I'd just treat. No need to put him through the stress of the scope.

                  3. Check on his pain management. My mare was also pasture sound on bute, but was losing condition. She had already been on ulcer maintenance so we knew that wasn't the issue this go around. My fabulous vet suggested we change up her meds and switch to equioxx for pain control. This made a world of difference for her. Remember, they are prey animals... they are not designed to show us their true pain level because that makes them weak. So take whatever you see and double it. That's how he's really feeling. Being in pain is really stressful on the system and can cause weight loss all on it's own.

                  I'd look into those things, and then if he doesn't improve, start thinking about his quality of life and what certain behaviors or symptoms will tell you it's time. For my mare, we did all of the above, and had another good 6 months. Then we reached a point where she had no good season left... Spring and Summer, she had a bug allergy and anhidrosis and was miserable. Then when it cooled off and the bugs went away, her arthritis made her so uncomfortable that she was miserable, and exhausted. So I made the choice that it was time. I will tell you, that making the decision is the hardest part of the whole process. Letting her go was peaceful and easy in comparison to making that call to schedule the appointment...

                  Lastly, you are a great mom for going to these lengths to look out for him. Senior horses are all to often cast aside or sent over the rainbow bridge long before necessary just out of convenience. So be at peace knowing that you are doing everything you can for him.
                  Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by FindersKeepers View Post
                    Having just been down this road with a similar story let me share a few points.

                    1. I'd do away with the weight gain supplement and just add rice bran and/or some additional omega fatty acids (Omega Horseshine is another great one). I wouldn't up his grain any, just add this to what he's getting. He can definitely have more rice bran than what they put in his senior feed currently.

                    2. Check for or just treat for ulcers. The stress of the colic combined with the chronic bute usage can cause ulcers, and getting that under control can make all the difference. We're talking a total turn around in 30 days. If he were mine, I'd just treat. No need to put him through the stress of the scope.

                    3. Check on his pain management. My mare was also pasture sound on bute, but was losing condition. She had already been on ulcer maintenance so we knew that wasn't the issue this go around. My fabulous vet suggested we change up her meds and switch to equioxx for pain control. This made a world of difference for her. Remember, they are prey animals... they are not designed to show us their true pain level because that makes them weak. So take whatever you see and double it. That's how he's really feeling. Being in pain is really stressful on the system and can cause weight loss all on it's own.

                    I'd look into those things, and then if he doesn't improve, start thinking about his quality of life and what certain behaviors or symptoms will tell you it's time. For my mare, we did all of the above, and had another good 6 months. Then we reached a point where she had no good season left... Spring and Summer, she had a bug allergy and anhidrosis and was miserable. Then when it cooled off and the bugs went away, her arthritis made her so uncomfortable that she was miserable, and exhausted. So I made the choice that it was time. I will tell you, that making the decision is the hardest part of the whole process. Letting her go was peaceful and easy in comparison to making that call to schedule the appointment...

                    Lastly, you are a great mom for going to these lengths to look out for him. Senior horses are all to often cast aside or sent over the rainbow bridge long before necessary just out of convenience. So be at peace knowing that you are doing everything you can for him.
                    I agree with FindersKeepers. My only addition would be not to stop at stomach ulcers. Hind gut ulcers are also a possibility and are not treated with GastroGaurd and Omeprazole.

                    Since the majority of stabled horses have some level of ulcers, a stressor such as an illness, bute, etc can cause a signifiant flare up of ulcers in the stomach AND hind gut. This impacts their ability to absorb nutrients from their food. You could use something like Succeed to recondition it. There are lots of helpful threads on here for hind gut ulcers.

                    As horses age their ability to absorb nutrients may significantly change and so in the long-term you guy may need some digestive support like Bio Sponge. Also I agree stay away from bute if you can and use Previcox which I believe is processed through the liver instead of stomach.
                    Originally posted by Calamber
                    So much stupidity, so little time.
                    Confessions of a Dressageaholic - www.dressageaholic.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The old red mare

                      FWIW,

                      I have a 28 yr old mare that at 26, I thought would never see 27. She was on bute for hock and fetlock pain from years of jumping, her heels were contracting, she was loosing weight and she was miserable. It was a daily battle to get the bute into her.

                      We started experimenting...pulled the bute, added devils claw, MSM and Recovery joint supplement. We were already feeding Triple Crown Senior, but also added TC 30% (cup AM&PM), rice bran pellet (cup AM&PM) and beet pulp (2-3cup A&PM). For hay, alfalfa and orchard grass..free choice.

                      Currently, she has had no devils' claw or bute for a year. Daily, I would estimate she eats 4lbs of TC senior, 1lb TC 30%, 1lb rice bran pellets, 4-6c wet beet pulp, dose of Recovery and mineral supplement to balance the nutritional needs of aged horse. She gets sprinkles of alfalfa to spice and for treats. And, regular grass hay free choice. We are lucky, she has all her teeth. The farrier was out last week and said he widened her shoes because her heels are spreading, she looks great. Not fat, but a healthy weight for those poor overworked fetlocks and hocks.

                      I don't think there are any easy solutions, each horse is an individual. But, for our mare, she needed a clean out and a dietary change. There was no immediate sign we were on the right path for her, the improvements were hardly noticable the first six months.

                      I feel your pain...good luck with finding the path.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Our old guy did not come through the winter very well - was eating Triple Crown Complete, rice bran, soaked alfalfa cubes, 1st & 2nd cutting orchard grass and timothy. Changed his feed to 50/50 TCC and TC Senior, stopped the rice bran (he didn't like it), added hay stretcher and found some oat hay to add to the other hays he was eating. Someone came into our barn last weekend who has known this horse for years and said he looked good and it made my day.

                        Also, this guy used to be on a periodic (3x/wk) bute to manage his old joints but found that the gut discomfort was probably worse than the arthritis so we stopped that too and put him on U7 for a while I think that has helped a lot.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Suggestions:

                          1. Rice bran - specifically Empower Boost, which is VERY high in fat and smells absolutely delicious. I start with 1/2 C daily then work my way up so after a week or two they're getting 1 C 2x/d. Wouldn't go much higher than that.

                          2. 15 lbs of grain IS a lot and I can't imagine he is able to actually eat any more than that. If you're separating it into 3 meals that'll help but he'll be full between meals and might not eat as much grass or hay due to this. It's a catch 22.

                          3. If possible, put him on 24/7 grass. The extra calories help soooooo much and make an enormous difference in their body weight in as little as 2 weeks. I just went through this with my mare and she looks almost back to normal after 15 days of 24/7 turnout on pasture that isn't even that great. Previously her ribs were all showing and her bones were sticking out. She is on 11# of high fiber grain, rice bran, soaked alfalfa cubes, and beet pump.

                          4. Hind end ulcers. It doesn't hurt to treat for them but it can be a little costly. I used Succeed oral paste which is nicely palatable and is top dressed on the grain. The granules don't work as well. They have a 100% money back guarantee program so if you aren't satisfied after the 30 or 60 days just send the UPC codes back. It's pricey but if it will jump start your horse's condition then it would be worth it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            TC Senior is a complete feed and the max amount for horses at any given feeding I think is 5 lbs (says on the back of the bag). I loved the stuff except my Old Lady Pony decided that she didn't like it anymore- so now I do Sentinel Lifetime.

                            Seems like he is getting enough food- especially if he maintained on this before. Is he getting approximately or the equivalent of what he was getting before the colic?

                            If he were my horse- I would be pulling blood and doing a senior panel. Ok, never mind, I see you did bloodwork. Also, if cushings is not medicated properly it can cause weight loss as well. Check to make sure your pergolide is actually getting into him. Might need to do a ACTH Stim test to check and make sure it is working?

                            I feel like if he had ulcers he would not be eating or at least not be as interested in food. He almost sounds hyperthyroid, but I'm not even sure that is something that happens in horses.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TBPONY View Post
                              Hind end ulcers. It doesn't hurt to treat for them but it can be a little costly. I used Succeed oral paste which is nicely palatable and is top dressed on the grain. The granules don't work as well. They have a 100% money back guarantee program so if you aren't satisfied after the 30 or 60 days just send the UPC codes back. It's pricey but if it will jump start your horse's condition then it would be worth it.
                              Thanks for the advice. Looking to solve my OTTB's (but only 10yo) condition issues, we're deciding to go w/ Succeed. Looked to order, and thought - granules? Paste? You answered it!
                              But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I have a 26 year old that has almost the same symptoms that your horse does. I spent a lot of money on a senior feed during the winter and he just lost more weight. In Feb. , I took him to the veterinary school, and they recommended me putting him back on his old feed which was 8 percent fat and add rice bran. He has gained weight and his coat is gleaming. I felt just like you did...I was feeding a lot of feed and it wasn't doing anything. Now he is back to his old amount and doing much better. I wouldn't call him 'fat' but he does have more to him than he did in Dec.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  My 27 year old mare had lost a ton of weight this winter and was having a hard time putting it back on even with increased amounts of TC Senior. I ended up adding Omegatin to her TC Senior and as soon as did that she started putting on weight again and keeping it on. I don't see a lot of people mentioning Omegatin but it is a good option for horses that have Cushings or borderline Cushings like my mare.
                                  "You are under arrest for operating your mouth under the influence of
                                  ignorance!" Officer Beck

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