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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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Neglected horse

Hi Dr. Getty,

My friend has got a horse on loan. I have known this horse for a few years now, his owner neglected him and rarely fed him, now she has given him to a girl that used to loan him.

This horse is not eating, we have tried giving him different nutritional feeds with sweet feeds to try and encourage him to eat, but the thing is he seems to want to eat but we dont know why he won't.

They have had his teeth checked and that has been ruled out. I have said to my friend who has him on loan from his new owner to get the vet out to ckeck his digestion as he is now losing vast amounts of weight and has no enery at all. He does graze in the field but sticks to one patch. His owner keeps riding him even though it is obvious he is unfit to be ridden. Sorry to ramble on but I am worried that if something doesnt change soon that he will drop down dead. I hate to see such a lovely horse like that.

So in your opinion what would you feed him? We are going to try and get his owner to have the vet check him over but for some reason she seems to think he is fat, his muscles have just wasted away is there anything we can try to get weight on him until the vet comes. He is currrently on apple chaf, sugar beet, and senior conditioning mix.

Any advise would be apreciated as we are desperate to help him.



Re: Neglected horse

Hello Holly,

Thank you so much for taking care of this poor horse.

I think that you are correct in wanting him checked by a vet. Medical reasons for his condition need to be assessed. He sounds as though he is either infested with worms, or has an ulcer.

What you are feeding him is fine – getting anything into him at this point is what is important. Normally, I do not recommend sweetened feeds, but we are dealing with a different situation here.

Three things that I recommend in addition to what you are doing:
1. Give him a Probiotic. I don’t know what is available in your area, but a probiotic provides digestive support so the bacteria that live in his intestines can be healthy. Probios is a common brand. Ration Plus is excellent. Perhaps you can find it locally. Let me know what is available for you.

2. Add some flaxseed oil or ricebran oil to his feed. Add 30 ml, twice a day.

3. Give him a mixture of grass and alfalfa hays, all the time. The pasture this time of year is not the best, so he needs to have access to quality grazing.

Oh, one other thing -- If you can find Brewer's Yeast, try offering him some of it. Some horses like it and others do not. But, it will assist with his B vitamin intake.

I hope this is helpful. Please have the vet see him and let me know what you learn.

All the best,

Dr. Getty