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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. 

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 Dr. Getty 


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


I have recently aquired a 20 year old Tennessee Walking Horse. He has been at a camp all summer and was ridden hard for long hours while being very under fed. You can see every bone in his back along with all of his ribs, and his hip bones are jutting out as well. Right now I still have him quarantined from the other horses, so he is not yet out in the pasture with free reign, although at this point I am glad for that because I don't want to turn him out on grass yet. I have a very large pasture, and the frost hasn't hit yet this year so the grass is still very lush. I am not sure exactly how much hay he was receiving or grain (if any) before I brought him home. Because of this I have yet to feed him more than a handful of grain 3 times a day in fear that that too will cause problems. He is getting unlimited amounts of hay and I take him on the lead to eat grass 3 times daily for aproximately 15 minutes at a time. I am just so very afraid of foundering or collic. Is there any specific kinds of grain and amounts that you would recommend, same with supplements for that matter. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!!
Thank you so much,

Where are you from? New York, USA

How did you locate this forum? Internet Search

Re: Very Malnourished Horse

Hello Aimee,

First let me commend you on taking this poor horse into your loving care. He is very lucky to have you.

Unlimited grass hay is of the most importance and you are already doing this. You'll also want to fill in the gaps with a good supplement. Because of his age, he will definitely benefit from a flaxseed meal-based supplement that also supports his feet, digestive tract, and immune function. So, if your budget will allow it, the best supplement for him is Glanzen Complete. Give him 6 ounces (by weight) per day (3 scoops).

In addition, I recommend Ration Plus to help boost the health of the bacterial flora. This will also help him gain weight.

Give him a nutritious meal that provide calories without risking peaks and valleys in his insulin levels. Beet Pulp is an excellent choice, along with alfalfa pellets. Add warm water to soften these and add the supplements to the meal.

Pasture at his weight is not a problem and he can benefit from the beta carotene and vitamin C that does not exist in hay. So, I would suggest letting him graze as much as he wants. "Rich" pasture that is high in sugar is not a concern for an underweight horse unless he has cushings. Just make sure that there is water near by. And, a plain, white salt lick is also necessary for additional sodium in his diet.

I hope this is helpful. If you find that you need to visit one-on-one to customize a feeding plan for him, I'd be glad to assist you with this.

Keep me posted!

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO