Skinny horses

Elite Equine Grand Meadows Minerals Oil ProVida Vetpro

Aargh!  VISIBLE RIBS!  As much as I'd like to be able to see my own, seeing them on one of my horses sends me into a bit of a spin. Many things may lead to weight loss, and usually, by the time we notice, there is a bit of work to be done to sort it out.  

My biggest battle always seems to be with Thoroughbreds coming off the track race fit.  They're lean, shiny, muscly and well covered and they often drop more weight than I would like in quite a short time.  So much changes for them when they are faced with a career change, lifestyle/feed/climate/handler/stabling plus an added bit of stress no doubt and the overall drop in condition is often noticeable.  And in winter it's even tougher than usual with so much energy being diverted to keeping warm plus there's not a lot of nutrient value in the grass.

There are many things that can assist with weight maintenance or gain especially at this time of year.  I feed plenty of fibre in the form of Equifibre, Dunstan Fibre Grow, hay and baleage as well as having horses on grass at least half of the time but the things that I believe make a massive difference are:

1.  Feeding quality feed twice (or more) a day - not all feeds are created equally, I feed Dunstan because I know it to be contaminant free and exactly what it says on the bag.  Feeding twice daily is not possible for everyone but if you look at a horses stomach size it makes a lot of sense to split feeds where possible.

2.  Feed oil, and not just any oil, a really good quality oil that won't put them off their feed like ProVida Flax Seed Oil. One of the lovely side effects of feeding this oil is a fantastic glossy coat.     

3.  As much grass, hay and baleage that they would like to consume - I do find that the more I feed, the less I need to feed, as they get accustomed to not running out and don't hoover it all as fast as they can!

4.  Stabling, this equates to standing still, often lying down, being warm and toasty and having lots to eat for 12 hours a day and helps get the weight on quicker than you can in a paddock.

5.  Ensure their digestive system is working as it should.  Add a gastric conditioner or a pre/pro-biotic if you feeding plenty and getting nowhere.

6.  An excellent daily dose of all trace minerals required for health.  Grand Meadows Grand Complete, Vetpro Everyday Minerals and Elite Equine Everyday Elite are all good choices to ensure a broad cover of requirements.

Of course, this is a perfect scenario, and we can't always offer all 6 of these options but each option you add to the mix will get you closer to a round, chunky pony.  There are times of the year where I need to restrict the intake of just grass for some of my good doers - but this is not one of those times and without adequate forage your horse is not only going to end up a little light they are also possibly going to be a dull in their personality (as well as their coat).  We want our equine partners to feel their best, not just look their best, and it's on us to ensure they have all the building blocks required to utilise the nutrients available to them.

The only other consideration is how hard we work them - it's a basic energy in, energy out equation, you can be pouring nutrients in to them but working them at a level that it is all being used up on exercise rather than packing on the pounds. 

Horses, as always, are all different (bless them) so it's always an individual process to find out what works best for you and your horse.  And, as always, I am here to help so if you have any questions, ask away.

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