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Discussion on Dramatic weight loss in new horse

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Terri Haynie
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 13, 2000 - 7:01 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O.
Three weeks ago I purchased a 5yo Paint stud, 15 hands. He was moved from a tranquil setting where he was stall kept with very little turnout (an hour a day if that). He was also on a rich diet of alfalfa cubes, corn, oats, hay, and Legends 12%. He wasn't fat--he looked great. He is now at an active barn where he was gelded his first day. He is in a paddock by himself where he can see horses coming and going. For the first time in his life, he is out all the time (has access to a run in) and is being ridden every day (his previous life was strictly as a stud--he only had 30 days of professional training). He's getting a 10% good quality sweet feed, corn,(a can and a half morning and night) and all the hay he can eat. But he has dropped a DRAMATIC amount of weight. He paces the fence all day, worried about the other horses. He's eating well, but is not gaining any lost weight back. He looks like a greyhound! Should his feed be increased?? Should I be worried? How much weight loss is too much? I know he's experienced one stressor after another, and I'm assuming this has contributed to the weight loss. Any suggestions?
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barbara carry
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 13, 2000 - 9:43 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

If he is pacing the fence all day, he is burning up alot of calories. Is there any way you can alter his turn out situation so that he is happier. I hope you are taking it slow with the riding since he isn't fit and he is green. Please go slowly with him since so much has changed in his life....gelding, living out, being ridden EVERY day, diet change....that's alot.
Has he been wormed recently and his teeth checked?
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Sheila Prescott-Vessey
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 13, 2000 - 10:12 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


I agree with Barbara that is this an awful lot of change for a horse. Was the change in his diet made slowly? Are there any horses in the next paddock for him to associate with? If he's good with other horses, perhaps someone can be put in the pasture with him? Horses with a buddy usually settle more quickly to a new environment. I wouldn't necessarily change the fact that he's out 24/7 (it's much healthier!), but I would look at any way possible to reduce his stress and keep him from pacing so much.

Personally, I wouldn't ride a green horse every day. Physically, their body isn't developed enough with the muscles needed to support a rider -- I would worry about making the horse sore. What about alternating VERY LIGHT riding (less than 30 minutes, walk and trot) with light lunging every other day with one or two days off a week until you build him up a bit? There are excellent exercises that you can do on the lunge to help his back (trotting poles, etc.).
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 13, 2000 - 11:42 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I am here to echo Sheilas and Barbara's thoughts that with all the change and surgery and exercise it would be amazing if he hadn't dropped dramatically. You leave out the most important parts of the information for us to be really helpful: what is the type and quality of the hay you are feeding and what is the weight of the feed being fed daily. Review the articles on feeding horses in the Care: Nutrition section for suggestions on how to feed.
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Terri Haynie
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 13, 2000 - 12:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O:
Orchard grass/clover mix on the hay--not sure on the weight of the feed. I would estimate 6-8 lbs. per day.

Because he still has studdish behavior and was seen taking a chunk out of another gelding's rear over the fence, he probably isn't ready to be turned out with others just yet. He is, however, in close proximity. Perhaps I'll ask that he be kept in for half the day to reduce the energy output.

As to the riding. Hmmm. I agree, I believe he's probably done too much too soon. Here's my dilemma. I'm not necessarily a novice, but I was helped in this purchase by a woman I consider as close to me as my mother--she is old-school in her approach, has 45 years of experience with horses (every facet), and figures the best way to get him fit and experienced is to RIDE HIM. Which she began doing two days after he was gelded. I'm afraid she would laugh at any "inexperienced" suggestions I might have. I was pretty taken aback that there was no longeing first. Because of my relative experience and her sterling reputation as a horsewoman, I kept my mouth shut.

The riding has been light, beginning with 20-30 minutes (and it has not been absolutely every day) and gradually increasing. Amazingly, he has excelled in everything that's been asked of him.

You have given good suggestions which I will explore right away. Also, I'm open to any suggestions on feed, though I realize this is only part of the equation. I will have to become more assertive on behalf of my horse's health. Thank you.
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