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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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Distended Belly on a Gelding


I have a 6 year old Quarter Horse/Arab cross gelding. We bought him at an auction back in November and he came to us with a very distended belly. A friend of mine actually asked us why we bought a pregnant mare at the auction when she first saw him. We dewormed him multiple times and I sent a fecal sample into the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostics Lab and their parasatologist was unable to find any parasites, eggs, or encysted ones.

Starting last week, where exercise is concerned, he's in training right now so he gets ridden about 3-4 times a week for about 30 minutes at the walk trot. That is as of right now and his workouts will become more intense as his training progresses.

Last week he was grazing on 60 acres most of the day getting about a handful of 10-3 grain, with beet pulp, rice bran, salt, and minerals. He also got 1/2 coastal hay and 1/2 alfalfa hay.

On Thursday we took him off pasture and penned him up. We started feeding him 1/2 scoop of 12-8 grain with beet pulp, rice bran, salt, and minerals. Along with the hay and alfalfa.

I have the feed tag for the 12-8 feed he is getting right now. It says for Vitamin A.

Vitamin A, min iu/lb..... 3,000 lbs.
Calcium min..85% max 1.0%
Phosphorus min... .75%

I'm not very happy with what he is getting right now. I'm at a boarding barn and the Barn Manager gets really offended when I inquire to what my horse is feeding.

What are your thoughts. I'm willing to order a smartpak for him if need be and also bring in my own feed. She'll just have to get over herself.

Here is a link to a picture of him.

And one from the side to show you his stomach.

I tried to think of everything you would need to make a clear suggestion but if I missed anything please let me know.

It will be very hard to take over his feeding program and I might have to offend my trainer/barn manager but if it gets him healthier then I'll stand up for him.

Thank you a ton.


Where are you from? Houston, TX.

How did you locate this forum? word of mouth

Re: Distended Belly on a Gelding

I knew I would forget to say something. He gets fed twice a day.

Where are you from? Houston, TX.

How did you locate this forum? word of mouth

Re: Distended Belly on a Gelding

Hello Riley,

Thank you for writing about your gelding. The belly distention is likely due to gas production by the bacterial flora living in his hind gut. This is normal, but if excessive, it is likely due to poor quality hay. Or, it could be that the bacterial flora themselves are in poor health and quantity.

Therefore, I would definitely consider adding Ration Plus to his diet to reduce that gas formation and boost the health of these microbes. This will make a difference in his overall digestion of forage.

I understand your situation with the barn manager since I encounter this problem with many, many clients. But, if you are able to adjust his diet, then perhaps you would like to set up a phone consultation where I can go over his situation in more detail and provide you with a customized feeding plan.

He may not handle the feed you're offering well, or it may be that there are too many nutritional gaps in his diet and he requires a comprehensive vitamin/mineral supplement.

So, please let me know if I can assist you further. And, in the meantime, give him Ration Plus -- two teaspoons per meal (shake the bottle well).

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO