We have my daughters horse who is 25yrs old and she is a hard keeper during the winter time. And since we have had such a hard winter and it's still snowing at times. She is dropping weight and her ribs are starting to stick out. Anyone have any ideas? She is dewormed and her teeth are fine and we are feeding her good quality hay alfafa and timothy hay. We need to get her to gain weight asap cuz she is my daughters 4H horse. The other horses in her pasture is good and fat but they are way younger. Thank You~ =)
With an older horse, it can be possible that she can lose weight over the winter, but it is not something that needs to happen. One must be diligent to make sure of her health an nutritional requirements a bit ahead of time to prepare. If she has been seen by your vet and her teeth are floated, and she is on a deworming program, and there are no other metabolic issues (which there could be due to her age), one must look at the feeding program. She would be a good candidate for a senior feed if you are not already feeding one. These senior feeds are specially formulated for the senior horse and its nutritional requiremements. In addition, when feeding, it might be good to separate the horse from other horses so that she is not overtaken and not have access to her hay. Perhaps she eats slower than the others, and so by the time the others have wolfed down their hay, they are moving onto the elderly mare's hay and pushing her out. If she is already being separated at feeding time, say in her own stall, I would up the hay amount so that it is free choice. Hay is your safest bet for adding weight. It takes a lot of energy, especially for an older horse, to keep warm, so expending energy just trying to keep warm, uses more calories, and so that needs to be replenished. Also, If the horse is not worked over the winter time, she could also have lost a lot of muscle tone. This will certainly add to the appearance of weight loss in addition to the weight loss itself. However, work over the winter as well as trying to keep warm can result in an even greater need for more hay and nutrition to compensate. Is the horse stabled in the winter for part of the day? If so, this shelter would be good to help the horse recover, at least for part of the day. If you keep a blanket on your horse, please remember to check daily under the blanket for any issues, sweat, and put your hands on the horse to groom and check for any weight loss. It is easy to keep a blanket or turnout rug on the horse for an extended period, then finally pull the blanket off and then realize the horse has lost lots of weight. So, frequent checking is also important. Please check with your Vet before changing or adding to your existing program and to get a baseline and recommendations that would best be suited for your horse.
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