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At what point would you move your horse?

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  • At what point would you move your horse?

    I board my horse at a decently nice facility. He had to ship a long ways to get here (big move) and lost a bit of weight in the first week or so he was here. This was understandable considering the amount of time he spent on the trailer and the stress of being in a new place. That was 2 months ago. He has not gained any of it back, in fact he has lost some more weight. This horse is in no way emaciated. But, he is definitely ribby. I’ve asked twice now about increasing his grain—he is getting 1 1/2 pounds AM and PM and clearly that’s not cutting it. The response was oh sure! However, I don’t believe they have actually increased his feed. How many times would you bug them about it before you just accepted the fact that they aren’t willing to feed your horse enough to keep him fat? And thus made plans to move him? There are a lot of things I like about this place and I hate the idea of burning bridges so just wanted to hear from others before I make any decisions.

  • #2
    How do the other horses on the farm look? I'm assuming good since you decided to move your horse there. Is what and how much he is eating similar to what he was getting previously? Is the hay the same quality (I personally find this more important than the grain).If for the most the other horses look healthy, I would be inclined to look at health issues with my horse. Do a fecal. If the trip was stressful and adjusting to a new place was hard, I wouldn't rule out ulcers. And honestly for me, if my fecal cam back clear, I would start ulcer treatment without a scope and see if I saw an improvement in a week or so. If not I would get my vet further involved or you could choose to move him back to where he did better.
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    • #3
      If the other horses at the facility look to be in good weight, I would have my vet out. Have his teeth checked, do a fecal, maybe run some blood work. Could be he developed ulcers from the move.

      Comment


      • #4
        And can they increase the hay rather than hard feed? Often that works better, even if it's counterintuitive. If alfalfa is used it's also better for his stomach. And mental stress can be eased by an evening of munching hay with the sound of other herdmates munching along happily.

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        • #5
          Agree that not enough information is included to know about whether or not you need to leave the barn. When evaluating a horse's feeding program, the first step is to look at the quality and amount of forage, as well as timing. For example, forage should be available much of the time. I get it that grain is more obvious to look at, but grain is secondary to forage. And I completely agree with a dental checkup and addressing a possible parasite issue.

          If, at the end of the day, this barn feeds good quality hay in appropriate amounts and appears to have good care other than simply not keeping your horse as fat as you would like, I'm not 100% sure that needs to be a deal breaker. Being slightly slim is oftentimes healthier for a horse than being obese. People currently tend to prefer horses a bit plumper now, it's just a cultural preference that has changed over the past couple decades. Another option is that if you are out at the barn frequently, to feed your horse an extra meal when you are out there. A senior type feed would be a good, safe option for this.

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          • #6
            If this were me...

            I would have the vet out for an overall assessment, including blood, the teeth and fecal. I would look closely at his manure to see if there is evidence of poorly digested grains and I would observe him at feeding time to establish his gusto. Have you taken a look at the hay quality, do you know what to look for?

            I would contact the previous owner and find out what, exactly, the horse was on, including supplements. I would also ask about his training work schedule. Is he working harder with you? Is he spending a lot of energy in turn out? Is he a horse that benefits from Probiotics to increase feed efficiency? They can increase digestive efficiency by up to 20%

            I have never embraced the current trend of "fat" horses as seen in some show rings. Dont confuse fat with muscle development and conditioning of an athlete. Do you have the right perspective?
            _\\]
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            • #7
              This is one of the biggest issues I had when I boarded. I have hard keepers, especially my now-retired gelding, who at one point when he was still actively in work was getting about 6.5% of his BW per day (hay+grain) to stay at a 5 BCS. The barns in central Ohio would only ever feed 2 flakes AM and PM, which just blows my mind since their hay was SO CHEAP at $4/bale. Down here in Florida it seems everyone feeds free-choice hay, and it's $21/bale here. But anyway, I'd ask and ask and ask for my horse to be fed more, please tell me the cost I'm happy to pay it, and they just wouldn't. Of course, some places would take my money but then still not increase the hay.

              So, if the BO just won't increase your horse's hay/grain, as they've made clear they won't, then ask if you can buy your own and if they'll feed it per your specifications in addition to their feed. If they refuse, that's when I'd be looking for a new facility. IMO, you shouldn't have to ask more than once. Pestering a BO to get your horse what it needs leaves a bad taste, and is a huge indicator that their style of horse-keeping is not a match for you and your horse.

              If the amount your horse is eating now is the same as where it was previously, then sure I'd suspect some kind of health issue. But if it ate much more than this before the move, clearly he just isn't getting enough calories.

              You could also treat for ulcers, if you haven't already, as the stress of such a long move likely caused some discomfort.
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              • #8
                IIWM:
                Before I decided too move, I'd consider 2 months is not so very long to get over the stress of a big move.

                Instead of increasing grain, ask for more hay to be fed AND talk to your vet about adding a fat supplement until weight is back where you like it.

                Rice bran is a good one.
                When my 18yo WB began coming out of Winter a shade ribby, my vet suggested adding fat to his diet.
                Feedstore suggested a Nutrena product: Empower Boost - 20% fat, mostly from rice bran.Vet approved the choice.
                Suggested feeding on the bag was 3 cups/feed, but I started with a cup & that seemed sufficient as a supplement.
                In a couple months his weight was back where I liked it.
                For this horse, adding a cupful to his grain (whole oats - fed 2X daily)) starting in Fall, kept his weight good through Winter.
                *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks everyone for your replies. I hadn’t considered it likely to be a health problem because the weight loss makes sense. He has always been a bit of a hard keeper and, at the previous barn he was at he got the same amount of feed, but was in significantly less work—ridden about 2 days a week. Now he is in 4-5 day a week work and there was no increase in feed when he got here. I did let them know the amount he was eating when he first arrived and mentioned that his workload was increasing as well.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by inandout View Post
                    Thanks everyone for your replies. I hadn’t considered it likely to be a health problem because the weight loss makes sense. He has always been a bit of a hard keeper and, at the previous barn he was at he got the same amount of feed, but was in significantly less work—ridden about 2 days a week. Now he is in 4-5 day a week work and there was no increase in feed when he got here. I did let them know the amount he was eating when he first arrived and mentioned that his workload was increasing as well.
                    The increase in work alone is enough to warrant changing his feeding program. And I am proactive about all my horse's stomachs on short trailer rides, much less long ones. Research shows that as little as 10 minutes in a trailer is enough to cause ulcers.

                    But also - it honestly sounds like you just need to be more proactive with your communication. If an owner approached me and said "This is what he got at the last barn, he will be working more here" I'd be like.....okay...and? You need to tell them what you want him to get. More hay, more grain, a provided fat supplement, whatever. Most boarding barns are going to defer to owners for what the horse should get. Just telling them what he used to get or that his workload is increasing is interesting information, but it's not a definitive request to *do* anything.

                    Typically it's the full training situations where the barn manager will assume all control for a feeding program rather than a boarding barn.

                    There's a whole host of things you can do to increase his weight (outside of just upping his grain, which is the least efficient way to do it IMO). IF you aren't sure of what those options are, consult your vet for his recommendations and let the barn know "This is what I'd like him to be fed moving forward."

                    Note that some barns do have maximums in place, and if you're asking for more hay or grain than they allot to each horse, you may be charged extra. Any decent boarding barn should be willing to feed additional grain/supplements that you provide, assuming you provide them according to their standards (most want pre-packaged servings stored in a certain place and aren't going to store all your tubs or bags of stuff too).
                    Jennifer Baas
                    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

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                    • #11
                      No decent barn manager allows a horse in their care to be underweight.

                      I find that they proactively call owners and suggest vet visits if they’ve tried unsuccessfully to put weight on.

                      You obviously don’t have that standard of care here.

                      I would move.
                      Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

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                      • #12
                        I keep my horses at home because I am a control freak and want everything done the way I want it. But even with total control, managing a hard keeper is a bit of an art.

                        Three of my four are pretty round; the newest member arrived about this time last year and has been a big challenge to keep weight on. He arrived in good weight which was impressive given the long flight and lengthy trip he took to get here from quarantine over 1000 miles away. However, I've had a hard time keeping weight on him and that is despite excellent pasture, 24/7 good quality hay, and a nutritionist-designed feeding program. He's not skinny but he's certainly thinner than my others and that is with round the clock attention. He's had a full workup from an excellent vet who declared him perfectly healthy, he's only in moderate work and he is very quiet in turnout so not burning a ton of calories there.

                        I do find the hay to be a big factor and have had good luck using alfalfa to help with this issue. If I understood you correctly, you don't know for sure that the barn failed to increase the grain - you just aren't seeing the results you had hoped for, correct? I wouldn't jump to conclusions or move from a barn you otherwise like based on what you've shared. It sounds like they are happy to work with you. Maybe sit down with the barn manager to discuss the situation and brain storm a bit.
                        **********
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by inandout View Post
                          I board my horse at a decently nice facility. He had to ship a long ways to get here (big move) and lost a bit of weight in the first week or so he was here. This was understandable considering the amount of time he spent on the trailer and the stress of being in a new place. That was 2 months ago. He has not gained any of it back, in fact he has lost some more weight. This horse is in no way emaciated. But, he is definitely ribby. I’ve asked twice now about increasing his grain—he is getting 1 1/2 pounds AM and PM and clearly that’s not cutting it. The response was oh sure! However, I don’t believe they have actually increased his feed. How many times would you bug them about it before you just accepted the fact that they aren’t willing to feed your horse enough to keep him fat? And thus made plans to move him? There are a lot of things I like about this place and I hate the idea of burning bridges so just wanted to hear from others before I make any decisions.
                          I agree with other posters, the healthiest way to add weight is to increase forage. 24/7 forage is often considered ideal. Start there. Pay extra if you need to. Consider preparing your own hay nets if needed. Many of our show horses are on 24/7 forage, 5-6 days of work, zero grain and they are in great weight.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think the OP answered her own question. Horse is in a new environment and getting worked twice as much as previous place, and is a hard keeper. There could be some change in pasture quality and turn-out time. Talk to the BM again about increasing feed - more hay and maybe a little more grain. I agree with another poster who said up hay, grain not so much. Mine lost quite a bit of weight this winter and into spring. Had the vet out, scoped him. All normal. It was a very wet spring so grass late coming up but once it did shoot he looked like he was in foal. Give your horse and the new place time. If nothing improves then consider a move.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If he's a hard keeper, is there a reason you only give him about 3 pounds of feed a day? That's less than my ration balancer even. I'm not saying pump your horse full of grain, but that's really a small amount. What feed is he getting? Check the back of the bag. I'm thinking they probably recommend more. And be sure you weigh out a hay serving to get an idea of what it looks like. Most folks don't realize what proper amounts of feed and hay look like, rather they eyeball it. Maybe even have take the scoop your barn is using and weigh what they normally feed. Then you can tell them exactly how much you think your horse should get and see if they will listen to that. They may "think" they're feeding one amount and really they are feeding less. Good luck.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My hardkeeper TB lived for years at a boarding facility which was excellent in many ways, but they fed forage based on the requirements of an easy keeper stock type horse and were not inclined to change that very much. Their concession was giving our horse two large flakes of hay when the others got two small ones. For a short while he got a midday feeding because the vet recommended it, but that was shortlived because it made extra work for the owners and "upset the other horses". We ended up supplementing consistently over the years - primarily with beet pulp and various fats (rice bran, rice bran oil) in addition to paying for additional concentrates. 1.5# per feeding is not a lot of hard feed relatively speaking.

                                In his later years, Mr TB has been living at places which feed a lot more forage, and he has not been nearly as hard to keep weight on - some of that is undoubtedly due to working less (and not at all ), but I think a lot of it is because his needs are met with forage first.

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Dressagelvr View Post
                                  No decent barn manager allows a horse in their care to be underweight.

                                  I find that they proactively call owners and suggest vet visits if they’ve tried unsuccessfully to put weight on.

                                  You obviously don’t have that standard of care here.

                                  I would move.
                                  Agreed with this. For me, "decently nice" means a manager who is on top of the horse's well-being. I can't be out every day and rely on a professional to help me care for my horse, and if they think there should be a change in his feed, etc. then I would rely on them to communicate it to me and to be proactive about problem solving his weight issue. I would definitely call a vet out, have the BM there during the exam, and have a discussion - all 3 of you - about solutions. That way, the vet is giving instructions not just to you but to the person caring for your horse every day. Give this a shot and if it doesn't clear up in 2 months, I'd find a place with more attentive staff.

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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by ParadoxFarm View Post
                                    If he's a hard keeper, is there a reason you only give him about 3 pounds of feed a day? That's less than my ration balancer even. I'm not saying pump your horse full of grain, but that's really a small amount. What feed is he getting? Check the back of the bag. I'm thinking they probably recommend more. And be sure you weigh out a hay serving to get an idea of what it looks like. Most folks don't realize what proper amounts of feed and hay look like, rather they eyeball it. Maybe even have take the scoop your barn is using and weigh what they normally feed. Then you can tell them exactly how much you think your horse should get and see if they will listen to that. They may "think" they're feeding one amount and really they are feeding less. Good luck.
                                    I agree, 3 pounds a day isn’t a lot which is why I’ve asked a few times for them to bump it up a bit since he’s thin. That was the amount the barn manager decided to give him when he arrived 2 months ago. He’s eating Purina Ultium.

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                                    • #19
                                      Ultium is a good feed. Yes, I definitely think YOU need to decide exactly how many pounds he needs and hope they follow through. Weigh a scoop of Ultium so you know. The Ultium chart shows 6 pounds a day for a horse in moderate work for a 1000 pound horse. Of course, that's not necessarily a hard keeper. That's your average horse. Hard keepers often need more. If your horse is bigger, the chart changes. https://www.purinamills.com/horse-fe...-horse-formula Decide what he needs and if they can't follow that, then yes, I would definitely move.

                                      Remember, also, while he's getting half the ration Ultium recommends, he's getting half the vitamins and minerals as well.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by ParadoxFarm View Post
                                        Ultium is a good feed. Yes, I definitely think YOU need to decide exactly how many pounds he needs and hope they follow through. Weigh a scoop of Ultium so you know. The Ultium chart shows 6 pounds a day for a horse in moderate work for a 1000 pound horse. Of course, that's not necessarily a hard keeper. That's your average horse. Hard keepers often need more. If your horse is bigger, the chart changes. https://www.purinamills.com/horse-fe...-horse-formula Decide what he needs and if they can't follow that, then yes, I would definitely move.

                                        Remember, also, while he's getting half the ration Ultium recommends, he's getting half the vitamins and minerals as well.
                                        Thanks for your reply. So, would you expect to pay extra for what you’re describing?

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