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What is wrong with my horse!?

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  • What is wrong with my horse!?

    22 year old, 17.2 Hanoverian mare that has recently (last 3 months) just not been eating well. She is eating, but leaves about a 1/2 scoop of grain at least one meal a day, and hasn't been cleaning up her hay as usual. She has lost weight (about 150lb. according to the horse scale at the vet school), and she's normally about 1500 lb.

    Obviously, this is very concerning, as this mare has not missed a meal in the 8 years I have had her, and is usually a clean plater. She normally eats her grain within minutes and her hay within an hour.

    I have had my regular vet out numerous times regarding this. She had been on prednisolone for a few months for fly sensitivity issues on her legs and neck, so we weaned her off the pred in case that was giving her ulcers and did a 1 month course of gastrogard, and have kept her on 3 scoops of omeprazole powder since.

    After she still wasn't eating well, I took her to the vet school and they did bloodwork (came back normal except mild anemia - vet wasn't concerned), and did a Cushing's test (also negative). I had her teeth done (nothing concerning), and we tested to make sure she was sweating ok (also normal). We re-checked bloodwork a couple weeks later (normal), and my vet ultrasounded her chest and belly (didn't find anything) and did a rectal exam (still nothing).

    I take her temperature almost every day and it has always been normal. She is scheduled to get her stomach scoped tomorrow morning at the vet school and whatever else they suggest there.

    She has continued to look pretty normal throughout this, just isn't eating like she used to. My gut just tells me something is wrong, having had this horse for so long, and never having had a problem with her eating.

    She currently gets free choice coastal Bermuda grass hay (eats approximately 3-4 flakes total a day right now) and 2 flakes alfalfa in the morning (always eats all of that). She gets 1.5 scoops (5 lb) Strategy Healthy Edge twice a day and eats about a scoop of it. I have tried offering her some other feeds - equine senior, omolene 100 and 200, horse chow and regular strategy, and she seems to eat the Healthy Edge most consistently.

    I put about 6 flakes of grass hay out at night in the paddock for her and her buddies since it's been so dry recently and the grass isn't great. I have seen her munching on it, but I'm not sure how much of that she's actually eating.

    She's current on vaccinations, worming, Coggin's, etc.

    Any ideas what might be going on? Any similar experiences?

  • #2
    No ideas, but lots of jingles and thanks for doing everything possible for her. Good luck!


    • #3
      Im no help, but Im sending serious jingles your way!
      Tack Cleaning/All-Things-Tack nut
      ~DQ wanna-be~


      • #4
        I'm so sorry, OP. No ideas at all, just sympathy. I would be very worried, too, if it were my horse. Jingling that you get an answer soon, and that it is an easy fix.
        Equinox Equine Massage

        In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
        -Albert Camus


        • #5
          Did you see any improvement at all when on gastrogard? I am still guessing ulcers.
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home


          • #6
            I'm guessing somewhere along the way they did check her teeth? Has she been floated recently. My one horse, if he has the slightest anything he is a big baby. Let us know how the scoping turns out also.
            Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


            • #7
              Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
              Did you see any improvement at all when on gastrogard? I am still guessing ulcers.
              Yes. And did the vet ever scope? Seems like you've done everything else under the sun, I would've wanted a scope as well.

              My mare's first sign to me that her ulcers are flaring up again is that she becomes less interesting in grain and hay.
              "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


              • #8
                i noticed your location is Gulf Coast, is there any chance your big girl could have sand buildup in her gut? has your vet had you feed her psyllium? sand can be really hard to see in any test and if she's got an issue the psyllium won't hurt her and you will know pretty quickly if the sand was her problem.
                * trying hard to be the person that my horses think i am


                • #9
                  No revolutionary thoughts just jingles.


                  • #10
                    This may sound stupid, but how clean is her feed bucket? Could there be residue in the bottom that she doesn't like? Can you try changing the way she eats (for example, if she eats out of a hanging bucket try a flat feeder on the stall floor).


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by skyy View Post
                      This may sound stupid, but how clean is her feed bucket? Could there be residue in the bottom that she doesn't like? Can you try changing the way she eats (for example, if she eats out of a hanging bucket try a flat feeder on the stall floor).
                      I have a horse like this. Wrong or dirty bucket means she acts like I am trying to kill her.


                      • #12
                        There have been some threads recently about horses having issues with omeprazole. You might want to search for them to get better details than I can relate.

                        Lots of thoughts but none that are definitive recommendations:
                        Have you tried wet vs dry on the feed? If you split the grain into 3-4 smaller meals would she eat more? You could even try an auto feeder if she responds better to smaller, more frequent portions. Since she cleans up the alfalfa could you try: alfalfa pellets, soaked alfalfa cubes, chopped soaked alfalfa? When/how does she get her supplements? If they're on top of her feed, might be that they cause upset when they hit her belly & she loses interest eating.

                        Hope one of these helps or inspires another idea. Jingles.


                        • #13
                          I know you said current on deworming but have you had a fecal done? I was observing a vet scope a horse that kept losing weight and it was loaded with stomach bots. They used a daily dewormer in the feed.


                          • #14
                            I had a horse like this and did much of what you did. In desperation I did 30 days of Succeed for hind gut ulcers and the horse was back to eating normally again after the first week.
                            Blogging about daily life on the retirement farm: http://paradigmfarms.blogspot.com/
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                            • #15
                              Did the not eating start before or after the end of the prednisolone? My own horse lives on a very, very low dose of prednisolone because of inflammatory bowel disease. The drug itself increases appetite, plus if she has any other type of inflammation, it may have been covering that and making her feel good.

                              You have my sympathies for sure. Watching your horse choose to starve themselves is one of the most frustrating things imaginable. I hope things turn around for her soon.

                              Whoops, re-read and it sounds like it started while she was still on the steroids. So much for that theory.
                              "Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." ~Mal, Firefly


                              • #16
                                Could be hind gut ulcers. My horse was acting similar, with no change while on UG. We tried sucrafalate and it helped her tremendously.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                                  I have a horse like this. Wrong or dirty bucket means she acts like I am trying to kill her.
                                  Yes!! This was one of my first thoughts. She gets fed out of a rubber pan on the ground, and I scrub them, eh...every couple weeks or so, and I started scrubbing hers every few days. I tried feeding out of a normal 5 gal bucket too, but no change. :/


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by mlb722 View Post
                                    Could be hind gut ulcers. My horse was acting similar, with no change while on UG. We tried sucrafalate and it helped her tremendously.
                                    Hm, I will mention this tomorrow. She was supposed to get scoped at the vet school today, but they had some emergencies come in so they had to bump her to tomorrow. Thanks!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      She had been on 3.5 scoops (1 mg/kg) pred for about 8 weeks when she started not eating, and at that point I gave her a half dose for 2 weeks, then a half dose every other day for 2 weeks, then none. All that time she was on gastrogard, so I figure that would have at least helped, but she has seemed to have stayed about the same despite stopping pred and being on the gastrogard. :/


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by jacksmom View Post
                                        i noticed your location is Gulf Coast, is there any chance your big girl could have sand buildup in her gut? has your vet had you feed her psyllium? sand can be really hard to see in any test and if she's got an issue the psyllium won't hurt her and you will know pretty quickly if the sand was her problem.
                                        I hadn't thought of that. The soil where I am isn't really sandy, but the grass has been poor recently (NO RAIN!!!), so I'm sure she's ingesting some of the fine dirt and stuff while she tries to get the grass. I'll ask about that tomorrow.