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Old, toothless and severly underweight

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  • Old, toothless and severly underweight

    I'm now in possession of a lovely... but old thoroughbred. Here's what I know. He's severly malnutritioned, underweight, spine and hips showing... missing most of his back teeth... sweet, sweet old man. 26-ish years old. Obviously not being fed properly... now on a plan to get this boy in weight before winter. I know not too feed him too much too soon.. vet will be here tomorrow to help with a feed plan... Always like the advice of COTH's as well.
    The Galloping Grape
    Warrenton, VA

  • #2
    I think your best bet will be soaked alfalfa cubes. Make them into a soup. Alfalfa is what is recommended for rescue horses because it is high in protein and low in carbs. Too many carbs can lead to refeeding syndrome (nasty stuff). Plus he'll be able to slurp the cubes up and they will help him gain weight. Start slowly and up amount every five days or so. You can also switch to alfalfa/timothy cubes as time goes on and feed even more of those. And of course a good vitamin/mineral supplement mixed in.


    • #3
      I agree with soupy stuff. My older mare had no teeth to chew with either. I always souped up her feed. I also gave her soupy hay stretchers from Blue Seal. I found this helped with good weight right before winter months. Congrats on your new older friend :-)


      • #4
        We use the refeeding protocol from the U of Davis in CA.
        Here is an article on this:


        Several small feedings a day seem to keep their interest in eating more.
        We used only the best alfalfa for a few days, that they seemed to eat even with quidding.
        After the horses were stable, we added wetted down senior pellets.
        Be sure the teeth that are left are floated, so there are no hooks and if they are mouth sores, rinse his mouth with a baking soda solution.

        We worked under our vets directions, after he checked blood parameters, to be sure there was no other going on.


        • #5
          Why is keeping a horse of this age and condition "humane?"

          Looks to me like a candidate for euthanasia.

          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


          • #6
            We have a horse that's 36. He has no back teeth. He eats soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets plus a senior feed. He's fat, shiney, and still has a couple of good bucks everyday. At one point he was very thin after he choked on hay due to the lack of teeth(years ago now) but we thought he deserved a chance. He's not in obvious pain and has a good quality life. Good luck with your old guy and enjoy his company.


            • #7
              What a lucky old guy.

              What others have said - soaked cubes, several times a day, slooowly increasing the amount.

              It'll be a while before you'll be able to worm and give shots, your vet is your best friend right now.

              Lots of TLC. No matter how much longer he has, his last days will be so much better because you cared.
              You're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!


              • #8
                As long as this old fellow is not in any pain (does not sound like he is), then why not give him a chance at a good life? Even if it's only for a short while, doesn't he deserve to have someone take care of him? There are plenty of very old horses who can't find anyone to take them in that are euthanized, so I commend the OP and I'm SO glad this guy found someone like you!!!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                  Why is keeping a horse of this age and condition "humane?"

                  Looks to me like a candidate for euthanasia.

                  It doesn't sound like he is sick or dying. Old and thin doesn't mean put him down. She's not asking anyone for money, she's not a rescue supported by donations. Geez, if you were old, thin and toothless, would you want to be shot?


                  • #10
                    My toothless wonder did really well on 3-4 feedings per day of Nutrena Sernior plus alfalfa cubes and oil. Soaked.

                    It can be done.
                    And bless you for trying.
                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                    • #11
                      I also used the feeding recommendations from UC Davis - they've already done all the research! Also they have ask the Vet for help. I have a 17 year old Paso Fino mare saved from the local rescue body score of 1 - got her in April she is now a body score of 4 using their diet plan. Bringing her along nice and slowly, she had NO body fat or muscle could hardly walk and is now gaiting. She is turning into a beauty. I had in the past adopted a "25 year old" Arabian gelding that turned out to be "34" he just kept loosing his teeth from former poor nutrition and he loved his mash food; also used UC Davis diet plan. He lived to be 38. Good luck with your guy it is well worth it to see them turn around and look "beautiful inside and out again"


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                        Why is keeping a horse of this age and condition "humane?"

                        Looks to me like a candidate for euthanasia.

                        Because he still has time to live! He is obviously a very special horse who is worth saving. All he needs is some sprucing up and some love and that is exactly what they are trying to do! Not everything should be a candidate for enthanasia, he still has time to enjoy!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                          Why is keeping a horse of this age and condition "humane?"

                          Looks to me like a candidate for euthanasia.

                          Good question.

                          Glib answer to why?
                          Because this is COTH, bragging rescue rights and all.

                          Serious answer, we hope the OP has enough sense to know the difference between terminally ill and a horse that can regain good quality of life and has the time, energy, money and emotional resources to help the horse and keep it going if he is not terminal.
                          She is getting the vet out tomorrow.

                          I hope the vet will, as you, question the quality of life the OPs horse may have, if there is more going on, like organ failure, if it is time to let him go or if trying to get him back on his feet is at all in that horse's best interest, as you are so right to ask.

                          How to proceed will depend on much other than his apparent age, that they may be missing by several years, since emanciated horses can look right down ancient.

                          We have gotten some horses out of bad places that were in questionable condition, one of them several years ago that has had an excellent quality of life since then.
                          He is still going strong in his assumed early 30's, giving little kids fun rides around the rodeo grounds, while the adults compete in team penning.
                          He would not think of being left behind when the trailer leaves in the weekends.

                          Good luck on your vet examination today.


                          • #14
                            I own a 33 year old horse who was given to me a year ago in a dreadful condition. On arrival I could see that he really didn't have long to live if left in that condition. I was quite prepared for there to be other reasons for him looking like a bag of bones, however on full physical/medical examination, the only thing wrong with him is that he only has 4 working teeth which were re-aligned and now work well. I fed him on high quality alfalfa hay, along with some soft, easily digestible hay. I fed small feeds numerous times a day of mushed senior feed and a balancer. It took a few months for him to regain his weight, much longer than it would have taken a younger horse to recouperate, however I plugged away at it and now he is simply stunning .

                            I was expecting him to be lame, arthritic and end up being a pasture ornament/put to sleep on my farm, however he is not. He is a wonderful team penning horse, LOVES going out for long trail rides, is a beautiful western pleasure horse and is just a lovely old man to have around the place.

                            Old horses have decades of wisdom and have so much to give that for the sake of a little helping hand to make feeds edible for them, why wouldn't you? Lack of teeth does not mean a death sentence ... at least not on my property.

                            This old horse is treated the same as all the others here and when the time comes for him to rest, that will be done. Now is most definitely not that time.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by lolalola View Post
                              It doesn't sound like he is sick or dying. Old and thin doesn't mean put him down. She's not asking anyone for money, she's not a rescue supported by donations. Geez, if you were old, thin and toothless, would you want to be shot?
                              Hell, yes I would! Sounds like an awful way to live to me.
                              Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!


                              • #16
                                Hi, I run a rescue in Texas. We seem to specialize in this type of horse, and have a real good success rate with them. I feed a pelleted feed called US Allstock. It is a 14 percent protein with 5 percent fat. ALL our horses eat this feed, no matter the age or condition. They all do very well on it, and even the toothless ones don't need soaking. We feed alfalfa to most, especially the skinnies, and free choice round bales of bermuda. If the horse has no teeth, I will feed a few alfalfa cubes if needed, but that is rare. My personal horse died in his early 40's, and he had NO teeth. He also died from a reaction to a penecillin shot, not age.


                                • #17
                                  horses when old do go down hill not all hores pass 17 make it to 20yrs let alone 26 but is the horse 26-- if no back teeth this horse in question might be a lot older than you think
                                  and if no back teeth then he can chew his food which in turn means he isnt getting enough to substain his ideal bodyweight --- which i hate to say this that probably why people got rid of him as he cant do it no more

                                  and once one thing goes soon other things go to as the horse gets older some people do collect horses as i call it or buy them thinking they doing the horse a good turn but in truth are they

                                  when feeding any horse that malnorished you have to get the gut moving normally this is done by feeding hay - small section first then when eating properl ab - libbing but if the horse has lamintus etc then obviously it has to be restricted feeding

                                  once the guts moving then you can feed small meals of grian 3 or 4 times a day as in little and often as the gut is not used to having food so wouldnt want to get colic on top of everthing else

                                  then once hes eating well then you can worm the horse

                                  but none of this can be achieved if the horse cant chew or has no teeth

                                  sometimes people unwittingly think they do the selflish act when in truth they just prolonging the end

                                  so op------ ask your self one huge big question whats his quality of life now as in right now -
                                  if itd poor then sorry its perhads give hima few days of loving then pts
                                  might think i morbid sod all the time but you cant save them all but you can give them piece and freedom- freedom from no more suffering
                                  thats winner all round you know


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by goeslikestink View Post
                                    horses when old do go down hill not all hores pass 17 make it to 20yrs let alone 26 but is the horse 26-- if no back teeth this horse in question might be a lot older than you think
                                    and if no back teeth then he can chew his food which in turn means he isnt getting enough to substain his ideal bodyweight [...]
                                    but none of this can be achieved if the horse cant chew or has no teeth
                                    As I've said before, I have a 28yo stallion with no back teeth who gets along fine on a diet of shredded beet pulp, pelleted hay, and "all in one" (chopped hay with molasses). It doesn't even get soaked. He looks just fine, and has the fertility of a much younger horse. So get a grip; toothlessness is not a death sentence.
                                    Originally posted by HuntrJumpr
                                    No matter what level of showing you're doing, you are required to have pants on.


                                    • #19
                                      Check his manure for sand - it's quick, easy and you can do it yourself if the vet's already been and gone.


                                      • #20
                                        I just want to add, my old 33 year old weighs a constant healthy 1,110lbs now and rides out a couple of times a week for at least 2 hours at a time - hardly a horse on deaths door.

                                        OP please do not base your decision on other people's doom and gloom who sound like they have no actual experience of dealing with this; there are many of us out there who manage these old horses quite easily and without fuss. You need to look at your horse as an individual; as anyone with any horse knowledge would know, you do that for every horse, not just old ones.