36 year old horse made it through a very cold winter but is now skinny

ridinglizzard

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My 36 year old quarterhorse gelding made it through a very long and cold winter this year (regularly -37C or -35F). For the last couple years I keep thinking it might be his last winter, but he keeps on ticking. But this spring he is very skinny, and I would like some ideas/help to fatten him up again. He winters in our backyard with a blanket and shelter. He has free access to fresh hay each day and water (although he chooses not to drink much). We feed him ~6L of soaked beet pulp four times/day, and about 2L of oats twice a day. We put about 1/2C of oil on each feed of beet pulp. He had his teeth floated last winter, but in truth he has very few back teeth left and his front ones are worn down to the gums because he has a very bad cribbing problem (he spends a lot of energy cribbing when he should probably be eating hay). He is very skinny this spring, although his energy is good. I just bought a bag of Masterfeeds vtm20 because the guy at the feed store suggested it would help put weight on, but now that I am researching it I'm not sure... has anyone had experience with this product? Are there any additional suggestions for help with getting weight back on? I know that getting teeth checked is rule #1, but I know that his teeth are almost non existent and there is not much I can do about that. I know that my old friend can't live forever, but I am trying to keep him healthy for as long as I can.
 

M.L. McKnight

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I would give him a good worming and mix some electrolytes in his water for a day or two. Then I would make a mix of 1/3 oats, 1/3 wheat and 1/3 sweet feed. Give him that in place of the straight oats. I spoil my older one a bit by also mixing in a chopped apple and carrot.
My girl got off of her feed a bit and I mixed some soaked hydration hay in her feed and she really took to it. I'm not familiar with the brand of feed you mentioned but I hope your fella starts putting on the pounds.
 

alsea1

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When its cold out horses often will stop drinking enough. I use a tank heater. Works wonders and you don't have to break ice.
As for feed I would go with a senior feed. These feeds are designed to be easily eaten and have stuff added to assist in digestion. Older horses lose some ability in this area as they age.
The nice thing about these feeds is that they are complete and calculated just right.
Beet pulp is also a great filler that helps add calories.
Sounds like his main problem is the cribbing. Is he by himself? If you eliminate his ability to crib then you will need to find him something to do to replace that activity.
Its important to resist the temptation get weight back on him fast.
 

alsea1

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Oh yeah. Be careful with feeds. If he cannot chew them there is increased risk of impaction. So be careful with the feeds. I'm thinking that mulched hay would be the choice. If hay at all. I would talk with a vet about this.
 

Scooby308

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I grew up on a horse farm but do not take my word as gospel; consult a vet.

We raised show horses and cribbing could be many things. Boredom is one. But usually, in our case, it was some sort deficiency in minerals or vitamins. Even though we fed a balanced diet, there were always one or two oddballs.

For older field horses (my mom's road horse made it to 36) water and mineral blocks and hay and a scoop of sweet feed. Sweet feed will put weight on, but if the grinders are gone, it makes it hard on them. I am curious if you fermented feed it would soften it up and provide moisture.

Water is a big key. If they get impacted it stinks to run your arm up to the elbow with a garden hose in their rump. Mineral oil can help if they get impacted, but then your running a hose down the throat.

Once again, call an equine vet and get their take.
 
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