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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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Feeding ederly horses

I have a 28 year old Thoroughbred/Arab mix who is losing weight. Every winter he comes out a little thinner and each year it gets worse. This year he is very ribby and his hip bones are showing. I blanketed him most of the winter, because is was very cold, wet and snowy. I feed him alfalfa and was giving him cobb with corn oil. Can you recommend something else to add and keep weight on him?? I've owned him for 25 years and he is the best. We've done endurance riding with him in his younger years and we now do short 3 to 5 mile rides with him. Could sure use some advice. We love him so much.

Thank you.

Where are you from? Weaverville, CA

How did you locate this forum? Internet

Re: Feeding ederly horses

Hi Debbie,
I have the exact same problem with my TB, winter was very hard on him and I had him blanketed also.
Mine is still a bit ribby and hip bones showing but not to bad though.
From Dr.Getty's great advice and patience and some research we have started to put weight on him.
I have come up with this recipe:
1 1/2lbs soaked beet pulp
1lb soaked alfalfa cubes
2c ground flax
2c black oil sunflower seeds
1c canola oil
and hay 24/7
I feed the above 2x a day and he is starting to show some weight gain.
Here in canada I can't get products like Ration Plus
which is supposed to do wonders for his hind gut bateria,or rice bran so my recipe above is the best I can do.
If you take a look at Dr.Getty's web site you will be able to find Ration Plus and also rice bran nuggets I think it is and they are supposed to do great things for underweight horses.
Dr.Getty will be repyling to you soon and she will be able to tell you more about what you will need.

I hope I have been able to help you since we are in the same perdicament,you should read some of my posts and that might help you also or email me and we can 'talk' about our underweight TB's and what has helped and was hasn't if you like.


Where are you from? Canada

How did you locate this forum? internet search

Re: Feeding ederly horses

Hi Debbie,

First of all, Jenni's feeding plan is excellent -- Thank you Jenni for sharing this.

But, before we talk about diet, the first thing to pay close attention to are his teeth. Many horses need their teeth floated twice each year, so let's rule that out before going further.

Assuming his teeth are in good shape, evaluate his worming program. One important thing to consider is encysted larvae that typical worming does not take care of. So, I would recommend a Panacur PowerPac -- which is a five day regimen of fenbendazole at a double dose. This will prepare him for getting healthier through his diet.

OK, we've ruled out teeth and worms. Now, let's talk about the bacterial flora in the hind gut. These microbes are often lacking in quantity and therefore, digestion of forage is impaired. So, I highly recommend Ration Plus. Give it to him at a double dose (2 teaspoons per day) until you start to see weight gain.

Then, to help him gain weight, continue with alflafa, and consider adding some Nutra Flax -- flaxseed meal, along with stabilized rice bran, to his diet. You can also add some canola oil to his feed, if he'll accept it. Some horses do not like oily feed.

I hope this if helpful. Please keep me posted.

All the best,

Dr. Getty