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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Aging mare is losing weight

I would appreciate it if you can give me some advice. I have a Thoroughbred mare that is quite mature. She is happy and there is absolutely nothing wrong with her appetite, she still eats like there's
no tomorrow. I feed her a mixture of all the necessary foods including oats.

She seemed to have lost a bit of weight and I don't understand why. She has access to plenty of grass and also lucerne.

A few weeks ago she developed an abscess on the bottom of her jaw, it's going down now, but I can't help but worry whether it's the cause of her weight loss. I work in London and my horse is back home in South Africa, so I'm not there to observe her. I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give
me. I'm really out of answers.

Thanks so much for your time.

I'll be waiting for your reply.

Yours sincerely


Re: Aging mare is losing weight

Hello Twane,

I know it must be very worrisome for you to have your mare so far away from you. Has she been visited by your veterinarian for this abscess? She will likely require a course of antibiotics.

As horses age, they have difficulty maintaining their weight. Often times this is due to dental problems. They are not able to chew their food adequately and consequently, do not get the nutrients they need. Oats are likely a poor choice for her since they are difficult to chew. Providing her with a senior feed is better, since it is designed to be easier to chew.

As you know, horses’ teeth grow and need to be filed down (floated) at least once each year. If left untreated, they can cause painful ulcers inside the mouth. And, there can be damage also to the tooth itself, which may likely be the cause of the jaw abscess.

So, bottom line, I believe your mare could benefit from a visit from an equine dentist or a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about teeth and able to provide dental services. The hay you are feeding is excellent and I am pleased that you are adding Lucerne. This will balance out her protein profile.

Once the source of her pain is removed, she will likely return to normal. She will require continued dental maintenance and a change in feed for her senior status.

All the best,

Dr. Getty