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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, easy keeper, putting on weight & falling

Hi Dr. Getty. My first time here and so, so happy to have found your web site.

I have a 30 year old Tennessee Walker 14.3 hands. A pony and easy keeper. Tonka. Within the past 2 years he has fallen about 5 times in the isle right after I have tacked him up to leave for a trail ride. He falls as I begin to turn him... all at once, all the way down. He has also came down on his knees twice, once after I unhooked the cross ties. I had the vet come out recently and he took blood samples. Thyroid panel came back low. Glucose came back low. Cholesterol is high and red cell distribution width low. Within the past 6 or 7 months I put him on Nutrena Senior Feed. Recently he has put on quite a bit of weight. The vet wants me to put him on a hormone replacement for the next 3 months and then take another blood sample. He brought up the word "Cushings" and I don't beleive that is going on with Tonka. He's already beginning to shed out his winter coat. After reading through your site and doing research, I'm not sure I want to put him on hormone replacement. What is your feeling on this?

He is outside all day on a long bale (mixed with a little alfalfa) and stalled at night. Living in WI we've had a lot of snow and ice, so he and his buddies don't get to move around too much during the day and also have been stalled some days because of the wind chill. He HATES being in his stall! Oh, also recently his poop has become like cow piles and it gets all over his hind quarters even though he is on a probiotic. This problem had been held a bay for a very long time.

1/2 scoop Nutrena Senior feed am and pm
1 scoop Corta Flex am
1 teaspoon Probios am
1 flake grass hay pm

Where are you from? Milwaukee, WI

How did you locate this forum? desperately looking for answers on the internet

Re: Senior, easy keeper, putting on weight & falling

Almost forgot...

Tonka is boarded at a fairly large stable. The barn manager is a little difficult at times and she has always thought that he had absolutely no pressing issues going on other than his arthritis. He is turned out with 6 other geldings and he is head of the heard.

Thanks again Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Milwaukee, WI

How did you locate this forum? desperately looking for answers on the internet

Re: Senior, easy keeper, putting on weight & falling

Hi Dana,

Thank you for writing about your old fellow. Based on what you've told me, I would recommend that you let your vet administer thyroid medication. This will help his weight and his coordination.

I also would keep his stress level to a miniumum and if he hates being stalled at night, perhaps you can let him have a choice where he can go inside, out of the wind, if he wants -- of course this would depend on your setup.

Certainly make sure he has all the hay he wants during the night. One flake doesn't sound like he has enough to graze on at all times. This is very stressful, plus it increases the risk of colic and laminitis.

There appears to be several nutritional gaps in his diet and a good multiple vitamin/mineral supplement that is also high in omega 3 fatty acids will keep him healthy and sound. I can make a couple of recommendations, but I would need more info on his overall condition, history, feeding, environment, etc. So, please consider a phone visit so we can go over his specific situation and needs. In the meantime, take a look at Glanzen Complete as a possible solution. He also requires vitamin C since his body no longer produces enough to protect his joints.

Age has its issues and older horses need additional support to improve their overall quality of life. So, please let me know if I can assist you further.

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO

Re: Senior, easy keeper, putting on weight & falling

Good morning Dr. Getty,

I appreciate it so much for getting back to me as quickly as you did. Thank you!

I do have one immediate question as I am going out to the barn this afternoon and don't want to go out empty handed... without a treat for him. I understand that low glucose on his lab test would mean low sugar, so what kind of treat can I give to him today? Is he limited as to what he can have such as carrots or apples? If so, what other suggestions do you have (that I can purchase at the grocery store) that he won't turn his nose up at?

I was going to change him from Corta Flex to Legends because of MSM, Ester-C and Yucca but see that horses with Metabolic disorder causing hyperglycemia should not use it. I'm assuming that I'm dealing with hypoglycemia (yes?) but think best to stay away from it. Unfortunately I caught my vet "on the fly" so was not able to have any kind of lengthy discussion regarding his lab results. As you can tell I'm confused as to what I'm dealing with.

I went ahead and ordered both supplements that you suggested. I'm very concerned about him and my inadequate knowledge surrounding his issues, so think a phone consult is a good idea. I have lack of funds so of course am quite concerned about this now also.

Thanks again Dr. Getty for your help.

Where are you from? Milwaukee, WI

How did you locate this forum? desperately looking for answers on the internet

Re: Senior, easy keeper, putting on weight & falling

Good Morning, Dana,

Since we don't know if your horse has cushings, it would be a good idea to stay away from high sugar treats such as carrots and apples. I would recommend simply giving him broken up alfalafa cubes as a treat.

His hypoglycemia could be a snapshot of his blood glucose level at that particular time and it does not mean that you need to give him more sugar. If consistently low, it indicates that he is starting to develop insulin resistance and his body is pumping out more of this hormone, leading to low blood sugar.

So, when you have a chance to visit with your vet, see if you can get his take on the bloodwork since he knows what time of day he took it, your horse's status at the time, etc.

But, if he does have Metabolic Syndrome (insulin resistance) or even Cushings, you'll want to eliminated starchy and sugary foods from his diet. This means no cereal grains such as oats, corn, barley, no molasses-sweetened feeds, and no carrots or apples.

Please let me know if I can assist you further.

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO