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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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soy/protein/other requirements for older horse

Dear Dr. Getty,

I was thrilled to find your web site. Thank you for the wonderful service you provide!

I'll try to keep this short as possible!

My question concerns my 16 y.o. Arab gelding. (He has regular dental care, deworming, and farrier care.) He's traditionally been the typical easy-Keeper Arab, who gained weight on too much grass hay. Because of that, he usually is fed only grass hay, a vit/min supplement, a joint supplement with glucosamine, chondroitin, and other ingreds. to increase bioavailability (both are John Ewing product), 1/2 cup daily Omega Fields flaxseed meal, 1 TBL. MSM daily, and 1/3 oz. of ABC Products' NOMS supplement.

However, he lost quite a bit of weight following a huge spring blizzard a couple years ago and I added soy meal to his ration and he regained but didn't get too fat again. At that time, his grass hay had tested to only contain about 6% crude protein.

Since then, he's stayed a nice weight, not too fat, not too thin. We ride about 4-5 times/week in the summer and 0-2 times/week in the Colorado winter. He's on 24/7 turnout on a minimum of an acre. In the summer, there is native grass that lasts a month or two.

This spring, after he had shed out, he lost weight--so much so that my trainer noticed that he had gotten thinner from one week to the next. I guess I didn't notice because I see him every day, but his hips were quite prominent, his HQ muscling decreased and his topline thin.

She suggested I give him extruded soybeans to increase his protein and fat intake. I also got some Purina Senior (but I don't like the sugar content and am switching to Triple Crown Sr., which is beet-pulp based). He's now getting 1 lb. of extruded soy/day and 2 lbs. of Purina Sr./day, and a probiotic (also made by John Ewing), plus all the previously mentioned items. He has been on the increased feed for about a month and is looking better.

The hay (brome grass from Kansas) we have this year tested as follows:

Crude Protein: 9.5
Calcium: 0.52
Phosphorous: 0.28
Relative Feed Value: 78
Potassium: 1.64
Magnesium: 0.15

He's a great horse. :) Because he's an Arab, he does get "high" from too much concentrate/carbs, so I am leery of giving him pounds and pounds of a concentrated feed, yet I feel he did need some additional protein and fat to help him gain weight, but maybe just more low-carb calories would have done the same thing.

My concern is if it's OK to feed him the soybeans and whether anything is out of balance or he needs anything else. I've now heard bad things about feeding soy to horses (kidney stress, immune system issues, etc. and he also has knots in reaction to fly bites, which I've heard "can" be caused by soy).

Would you suggest extra beet pulp in addition to the Triple Crown? Extra Omega Fields flaxseed meal? Omit the soy?

He's a very happy fellow and looks forward to our rides and I want to maintain his health as many years as I can.

Thank you,
Kara Stewart

Where are you from? Colorado

How did you locate this forum? Google search (sponsored link)

Re: soy/protein/other requirements for older horse

Hi Kara,

It sounds like you’ve gotten him back on track. The key now is to keep him that way. And, you are wise in being cautious about so much concentrated feed, especially if it is grain-based. The Triple Crown Senior, even though it is mostly beet pulp, also contains grains and molasses, which you may not want to feed due to his reaction to carbohydrates. You may wish to try the Triple Crown Low Starch instead. It is lower in fat, however, so I would recommend that you increase his flaxseed meal to 1 cup at each meal (assuming two meals/day) and decrease his soybean meal to ½ lb. Soybean meal is really quite good, but it doesn’t provide the level of omega 3 fatty acids that flaxseed meal has.

I hope this helps. Please keep me posted.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Re: soy/protein/other requirements for older horse

Thank you, Dr. Getty! I really appreciate your thoughts on this and will keep you posted.

My horse is looking quite good now; just a hint of ribs when he walks rather than very apparent; shiny coat; his hip bones aren't so bony; and he's gaining some muscle.

If we could just get rid of the fly-bite bumps...!

THANKS again for all the good work you do.



Where are you from? Colorado

How did you locate this forum? Google search (sponsored link)