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Need help with Feed - Hard Keeper (Arab!) Mare

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  • Need help with Feed - Hard Keeper (Arab!) Mare

    So, I feel pretty educated about feed in general and have NEVER had issues like I've had with this mare, so I've decided to ask for some advice. Background is that she arrived to me in March, very underweight. Probably a 3.5 on the scale. I got her to about a 5, but now I'm thinking she lost some weight in the last week or so, back down to a 4/4.5. Primarily because she is now galloping up and down our giant hilled pastures with the other horses -- they were a bit confined to 7 acres throughout the summer. And it's also turning cooler. Add this to the fact that she is a bit of a nervous nelly and frets about a myriad of things. She's calmed considerably since increased turnout and being integrated with the herd, and I moved her to a stall where she can see everything happening in the barn. She was treated for ulcers and is on Ulcer-Guard now as an aid and all does seem to be okay on that front.

    Now, all this bothered me this am when I came out to the barn and she was shivering and seemed tucked up. It was unseasonably cool at 35 degrees, but all my other horses were toasty warm. And her hipbone seems a little more prominent lately, and she just doesn't have a topline....seems a little sunken in. Ribs mainly not visible, so she has a bit of a belly -- but FEC all came back with zero-low shedding. Vet will be coming out in the next month to do teeth, but I am at a loss until then.

    This is what she eats - approximately 8 cups dry beet pulp shreds, soaked, which amounts to 16 cups wet, or about 3ish pounds. 6 oz of BOSS, 2 pounds alfalfa hay pellets, 2 oz of Cool Calories, about a cup of coco-soya oil, 4 pounds of Sentinel Performance LS, her Ulcer-Guard and Tri-Amino. Plus turnout on very lush grass for 8-10 hours and an additional 6-8 pounds of a nice orchard grass hay -- this is summer feeding. Hay will increase significantly once my pastures are diminished. She is a tiny thing, maybe 14.1hh and all of 850lbs. I don't know where the feed is going and the more I have increased the Sentinel, the hotter she's become. Not terrible, but she definitely seems more snorty and walking on eggshells, so I kinda don't want to increase the grain. FeedXL tells me she has everything balanced; she just doesn't look like the rest of my very glow-y horses, and she eats like double what they do (including my yearling). It's a bit crazy to think an Arab is out-eating many horses I know - in my experience the breed is easy-keeping.

    So, I guess I want to hear some other stories (I have read many here) about other things to try. I mean, part of me thinks just pulling her off all grain and trying to feed 2lbs of a ration balancer, oil, alfalfa pellets and beet pulp wouldn't hurt. Maybe I just need less grain and more roughage/forage, particularly as she was ulcery upon arrival. Also I wonder about the possibility of a hind-gut ulcer. Also, I should note that she was a broodmare her whole life -- not in foal now, but will be bred next year. Not in work of any kind, and is 10 years old.

  • #2
    Hi there, I worked/trained/showed Arabs and Half Arabs for quite a few years before the barn moved up north and I could not go but only for shows. Anyhow, we had all of out show horses on a mix of Horseman's Edge 12% pellet, whole oats and barley. With a 12:12 mineral daily. They also had access to pasture, some of them could only stay out minimal amounts of time before getting cooky. So we fed Perennial Peanut Hay as they didnt seem to be as hot at getting alfalfa

    The hind gut ulcer could be an issue, one of my friend's trotters just got diagnosed with a hind gut ulcer. However she was going completely off of her feed.
    When was the last time she was wormed? Maybe a Power Pack is in order for her it sure sounds as though she gets a lot of grain for her size and being predisposed to ulcers caution should be taken there. Maybe up her roughage and try several small meals if possible. A good gut supplement we had a few on is Succeed. Although pricey was definitely worth every penny.


    • Original Poster

      Last time she was wormed would have been after the Spring shots in May and her FEC came back as very low shedding strongyles. I wormed her per vet's instructions and we were planning on doing another FEC for the barn next month, along with teeth check.

      Yeah, I REALLY hate having her on all the grain, but haven't figured out an alternative yet. All the above - by the way - is split into 3 feedings. AM, PM and a Late Night feeding. T/O in between. She went off and on her feed for awhile there, which made me suspect a hind-gut ulcer. And I will say that she starts to bloom the more beet pulp I give her, which is what makes me think I should try to take her mainly off the grain and switch her to hay/beet pulp/hay pellets/ration balancer. BUT I've only ever done this protocol with easy keepers, so I hesitate in doing it with a hard keeper.

      Thanks for your advice, but I do think Horseman's Edge has a pretty elevated NSC level. I'm kinda cautious about NSC levels. My other Arab mare (a super easy keeper) is very starch sensitive and I just don't think my horses need those high levels of starch/NSC.


      • #4
        Well, I've always had good results from Calf Manna--which has been around forever. Its ingredients are such that would give it a high nsc, but probably not any higher than she's getting now. If you do decide to try it, maybe it could replace some of what she's getting now.

        Where would I look up the symptoms of a hind-gut ulcer?


        • #5
          I don't really have any advice, but I can commiserate. I have a similar problem, horse won't gain no matter how much I stuff into him, plus he's a picky eater and will only eat so much before walking away. He's at the low end of a 4 and is in ZERO work.

          I am interested to see what the others have to say. I am at my wits end, and he's eating me out of house and home!


          • #6
            You don't have your location listed, so I can't suggest brands, but get her on a senior feed instead of the performance feed.

            I've also had great results with rice bran in general, but more specifically, Nutrena Empower Boost. I am not a Nutrena fan AT ALL, but for my picky picky mare I was absolutely desperate one day and picked up a bag. It smells delicious, and has kept weight on my hard-keeping TB mare like nothing else....mostly because the smell encourages her to eat everything else in her bucket!


            • Original Poster

              I forgot to mention that she also gets 1 1/2 cups (equals half pound) of Sunshine Plus a day as well -- which is sort of the equivalent of a Calf Manna, but much lower NSC. I use Sunshine Plus as my Ration Balancer for the other easy keepers.


              • Original Poster

                I am located in Central NY and the brands I have available to me are some (I say this because some stores are particular about which lines they carry and won't special order for me) of the Blue Seal, Purina and Nutrena lines. I have tried to get Triple Crown near me, but it's almost impossible. The best location for it is an hour and a half away -- only place that will keep items in stock when I need it, but I gave up buying feed that far away. I like Blue Seal, but lately the prices for Performance LS are going up to $26/bag, which is kinda absurd. I dislike Purina and Nutrena, but will feed it if I need to. I found a place which carried Poulin, but NEVER kept the bags in stock, so that was worthless.

                I hate going through the websites for dealers, only to call each and every one only to find that the majority of dealers listed DO NOT actually carry the brands they say they carry. Major pet peeve of mine. I am worn out calling feed stores, only to be told 'no, actually we don't carry that.'


                • #9
                  Hmmm. I have one standardbred thats awful to keep weight on he does best on his beet pulp, rice bran, and calf manna. Along with his grain and hay of course.
                  Hard keepers are just plain tough because what works with one doesnt with another. A good low starch feed is the strategy healthy edge i had a couple in that feed and they did well.

                  Hope something works for you !


                  • Original Poster

                    So, I played around with FeedXL and went through my mental checklist and I think what I'm gonna do is increase the Sunshine Plus to a 1lb, decrease her Sentinel Performance LS by about a pound and add in more beet pulp/hay cubes/oil concoction and look into a supplement for possible issues with her hindgut. Like I said, she tends to have a tiny belly (which is kinda normal for a broodie, I suppose), but is ALSO ribby with a sunken hipbone area. I'm going to go with my gut on this and increase forage and fat, especially since I also know that the beet pulp is originally what turned the corner for her anyway. I figure I'll add in alfalfa cubes overnight to keep her full to prevent ulcer flare-ups. Her protein intake should be more than adequate to put on muscle, especially with the added Tri-Amino. We'll worm and inspect teeth next month and take it from there. I just was really unhappy when I saw her shivering this morning.


                    • #11
                      Well, at 4 lbs of Sentinel Perf LS you're really only feeding her the least of the daily recommended minimum.

                      I would switch her to the Sentinel Senior, its lower in NSC, and up it to the 6 lbs daily. I would also ditch the beet pulp (the amount your feeding is minimal anyways), and add more of the alfalfa, like by a few pounds daily.

                      And why are you feeding Sunshine Plus on top of the Sentinel Performance? Even though you're feeding the lower end of the daily minimum, you're still feeding the daily recommended amount. I don't see a need to add a ration balancer on top of everything else; unless you have nutritional gaps that you're trying to fill that have been confirmed thru feed analysis?
                      "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                      • #12
                        I just was really unhappy when I saw her shivering this morning.
                        Arabs are thin skinned. Mine shivers way before my QH does.
                        "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                        • Original Poster

                          NSC on the Sentinel Senior is actually higher -- I have an analysis sheet on Blue Seal Feeds which states - if you're taking Starch + WSC - that Sentinel Performance LS is actually not that low NSC - 16% and Sentinel Senior is 20.5%. I like the Performance LS better because of the higher fat and fiber content and I think calories-wise you're doing a lot better via the LS than Senior, but I'm also supplementing with the Sunshine Plus because in working with a nutritionist, we thought that she could use more protein and lysine. That helps fill in the gap. And yeah, I realize that I'm on the low end of daily feed recommendation for the Perf LS, but because of her previous trouble with ulcers and the fact that she can become a little hot, I'm trying hard not to increase grain and starch. She was up to 5lbs at one point and just very fretty in the stall (rolling her head, pacing). I mean, I'm willing to look at the Senior, but not seeing how it does me any favors in this situation.

                          I do agree with you that I should increase the alfalfa pellets, add in some alfalfa cubes and more beet pulp. Seriously, I know a lot of people don't think much of the beet pulp, but she really did start to bloom when I added that into her diet. And I'm surprised you don't think I'm feeding that much beet pulp. It's a good 3-4 pounds soaked which is even tough for her to get through frankly. And it's an amazing vehicle for oil.


                          • #14
                            I would try putting a blanket on her, it will keep her warmer and she will burn fewer calories staying warm.

                            I'd also put her on an ulcer medication, my (arab) barn got in a mare that was nervous, jumping, and ribby. Despite lots of feed and hay she remained the same. She didn't show any improvements until she was put on an ulcer medication. She's still not totally calm but she started showing weight gain a week after the ulcer medication and she's filled out nicely now. Poprocks are a cheaper alternative to Gastroguard but my barn has had success with U7 from Finish Line as well.


                            • Original Poster

                              I am measuring her for a blanket. I think someone else here also mentioned that she's probably thin-skinned, so...

                              I did the whole GastroGard protocol with her upon arrival. We've subsequently gone with U-Guard as a preventative, but I'm not sure it's done too much. I was going to look at G.U.T. as well. Several years ago I used U7 with a mare who had terrible gas colic episodes and did have success.


                              • #16
                                I would put her on 6lbs of a good NSC 12% pellet and add Fastrack (probiotic), and good hay. You may see a big difference when she gets her teeth done, and check her for encysted strongyles.... I would nix the BOSS, the oil, and the beet pulp. JMO


                                • #17
                                  I have an Arabian mare that sounds very similar. I think I've *finally* found the right formula for her...

                                  Keep in mind she does have a 5mo old foal at side, I normally wean around 6 months.... so she isn't quite so hard of a keeper when there isn't a foal on her. Her current diet consists of:

                                  AM: 2 flakes 80/20 Orchard/Alfalfa hay, 6-8lbs of Alfalfa Pellets & Beet Pulp pellets (I mix them together in a barrel, that is the dry weight). 3.5-4lbs Triple Crown Senior. Fastrack, Cool Calories 100, SmartGut Ultra, MSM

                                  Lunch: 2 flakes of 80/20 Orch/Alf

                                  PM: 3 flakes 80/20 Orch/Alf, 6-8lbs Alfalfa/Beet pulp pellets, 3.5-4lbs Triple Crown Senior, Fastrack, Cool Calorie 100, MSM, two "satchets" of Blue Pop Rocks (this is not a forever thing - she had an ulcer flare up about dropped a TON of weight a month or so ago- she has been treated with GastrpGaurd in the past, and to be honest I'm seeing the same results with the pop rocks).

                                  This mare is super high stress, worries about anything that changes, like her routine, etc... Even though the TC Senior is a very good quality feed, I just don't allow her to have more than that. This seems to be working very well, she is at a good weight (I'd like a bit more, but you wouldn't look at her and say she's skinny). Another poster mentioned about a blanket, absolutely. My mare shivers constantly when it starts getting chilly. Normally a heavy weight blanket is WAY overkill here. She sometimes wears two.... Makes a big difference.

                                  Good luck!
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                                  • Original Poster

                                    Huh....Dressage_Diva333 -- that's very helpful and yes she sounds just like my girl! I WISH I could get TC Senior here. I'm going to try one more place, but these feed stores are so out of the way from my normal route. I don't know if it'll work when it gets normal freezing cold weather. Would you guys recommend a probiotic in addition to a Digestive supplement? Or just one or the other?

                                    I've honestly had quite a few Arabs and never one like her. I guess, too, that based on everyone's responses that I can definitely up her feed more generally. I just feel like she's eating SO much for her size and is getting the nutrients she needs from what she is currently eating, but clearly I need to stop thinking with that mindset. I have a pregnant QH mare who is 15hh and 1000lbs and maintains (i.e. is a bit of a pudge) on way less, so this is tough for me. The other Arabs all live on about a pound of Sunshine Plus. This is so new to me to have a legitimate hard keeper. Ditto on the shivering/cold. My horses are such toughies.....she's just a little flower.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Fairtheewell, what 12% NSC pellets are available to me out there? TC Senior, but I haven't yet managed to figure out a good place to get this regularly. I used to feed Carb-Guard a long time ago; thoughts? What else is available to me? Or am I missing something. It drives me nuts that I can't really get other high-end brands.....I have looked at Tribute, Poulin (can't get it regularly stocked around here), MacCauley (again, dealers listed on website no longer deal it in the area) and Triple Crown (like I said, I MIGHT have found a local dealer for this). There may be a Pennfields distributor about 45 minutes away -- what lines are good there?

                                      And finally, anyone have recommendations on how to deal with buying feed from places 45min away or farther? Like, would you buy many bags at a time and store them? I hesitate it buying more than I can feed in 2-3 weeks because I don't want them to spoil / have vermin get in them. But I actually don't know how others do this.


                                      • #20
                                        I travel to buy my feed--nearly 50 miles one way. I buy as much as I can afford each trip, usually about 3 weeks/one month's worth at a time. I do this because: A. it annoys me to pay $5 more locally for a 50# sack of anything; B, I live in a time warp where people feed only alfalfa and 4-way to their horses; & C, I can pick up nearly everything on my own grocery shopping list at the same time (better selection & quality).

                                        PS--I keep the feed in trash cans with lids & have lots of barn cats.