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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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Senior Horse refusing feed....

Wow, what a great forum!!

I have been boarding a senior horse for a friend for about two years. He is approx 25yrs. old. For the last year he has not been able to chew hay so we have him on alfalfa/bermuda pellets and Purina's Equine Senior,Equipride Vitamins & minerals and a joint supplement. When I got him his spine & hip bones were showing, he now looks great and is pretty spunky although slighlty arthritic. He actually has gotten very pudgy lately and when he had his teeth done last week I asked the vet about a feed change.I do not want founder or to aggravate his arthritis. Vet suggested I take away his Equine Senior as it has alot of sugar. I tried to do it slowly but Slick has completely stopped eating! He will no longer even sniff the pellets. I have soaked them, put in half a serving of Senior but to no avail. He will not eat anything but the Senior.( I had noticed some of this before the vet but it has worsened)
I know he is hungry because he is kicking his corral panels and nickering to me when I'm out in the barn. Would giving him some A&M be any less sugar in his diet but provide more substance then the Senior feed? My other horse are bascially free fed grass hay with small amounts of alflafa and can nibble all day. It breaks my heart that a meal for him takes 10 min. It doesn't seem natural for him to spend so little time eating & digesting a meal. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Where are you from? Palmdale, Ca

How did you locate this forum? ask

Re: Senior Horse refusing feed....

Hi Brigid,

Thank you so much for the lovely poem -- it literally gave me goosebumps as I read it -- so very beautiful, indeed. I appreciate your kindness.

You know, your old fella's loss of appetite can be due to other reasons besides what you are feeding. Equine Senior is relatively high in fiber and not especially high in sugar, though he really doesn't need the sugar, I agree.

I would suggest that you go back to what you were feeding him so you can establish a baseline, and then investigate other options. First, give him Quiessence -- this is predominantly a magnesium supplement that will allow his body to burn more fat. Most overweight horses are insulin resistant, meaning they secrete large amounts of insulin in response to starch and sugar in the diet. High blood levels of insulin lead to fat storage. By feeding magnesium, you'll reduce the amount of circulating insulin, making it easier to burn stored fat for energy.

Once you have him on Quiessence for a few weeks, you can slowly start to change his diet -- very slowly -- by giving him a lower starch feed. You mentioned "A&M" -- uh -- what are you referring to here?

He may also have borderline B vitamin deficiencies. By adding B vitamins in larger quantities, you will boost his appetite to help with feeding a different, more appropriate diet (that is lower in sugar and starch). There are many products available to assist with this. But, since you are already giving him a vitamin/mineral supplement and a joint supplement, your best bet would be to add just a B complex to the mixture. Take a look at BPlex. There are other products that are "all in one" such as Reitsport HA-100, that you may find worthwhile.

He also needs to have hay -- good quality grass hay - available at all times to keep his digestive system healthy and to keep him from getting so hungry in between meals.

And, finally, give him exercise if at all possible. That is so helpful is taking off the pounds and building muscle tone.

Keep me posted on his progress!

Best regards,

Dr. Getty

Re: Senior Horse refusing feed....

Thank you, I will try your suggestions. I am familiar with HorseTech as I order psyllium from them. Here in the desert it is literally a life saver! I am happy to try the other pruducts as well.

Your are very welcome for the poem. My tack room is covered in quotes and that is one of my favorites. The other.... "The ears never lie" , on a much lighter note of course.

oh... The A&M I was referring to is alfalfa & molasses.

Thank you again & great site! ~~Brigid

Where are you from? Palmdale, Ca

How did you locate this forum? ask