Return to Website

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
This Forum is Locked
Adding Weight to 32 yr. old gleding

Dear Dr. Getty,

I have a 32 yr. old Quarter horse gelding who is boarded in northern Wisconsin. He has free access to the barn, but is not stalled. 3 years ago in the fall after the pasture grass was gone, he developed diarrhea. After trying everything to clear it up, the vet determined the problem to be old age mal-absorption of hay. I started feeding wetted alfalfa pellets to supplement whatever hay he would pick at. Then he devloped an allergy to the pellets (severe cough) and I had to stop. I started feeding Equilite's Pre-probiotic which has for the most part cleared up the diarrhea. He also gets 2 scoops of Nutrena Senior Feed twice a day and is on Strongid Daily Wormer. He holds good weight in the summer when on pasture, but it is only December and he has already lost a considerable amount of weight this winter. I have read some of your advice to others with similar weight problems and am wondering if I should add Nutra Flax and a weight builder to his diet, and should he be getting more grain? My vet says he could be getting up to 10 lbs. of grain per day, but the last 2 winters he has had bouts with colic, so I am not sure more grain is the answer. Is there something else I should be feeding to replace the hay? Some days it can be -20 degrees here, so would blanketing him help conserve energy? Your advice would be much appreciated seeing I don't want to see my old boy turn into a rack of bones.


Where are you from? Wisconsin

How did you locate this forum? Web Search

Re: Adding Weight to 32 yr. old gleding

Hello Sue,

Thank you so much for writing about your fellow. He is very lucky to have you during this stage in his life.

I would not recommend more grain. Instead, give him more fat. He needs omega 3 fatty acids, so flaxseed meal, such as Nutra Flax, would be worth adding. Ideally, you should fill in his nutritional gaps with an overall vitamin/mineral supplement that protects his digestive system with B vitamins, his joints, adds vitamin E, and omega 3 fatty acids. For this, take a look at Reitsport HA-100 Complete, which is already in a flaxseed meal base.

But, to put weight on him, he'll need a few things. First, flax, as I mentioned. Second, add a stabilized rice bran feed such as Natural Glo by ADM Alliance. This feed has added calcium, which is necessary because rice bran by itself, has more phosphorus than calcium and this inverted ratio needs to be corrected.

And finally, give him Ration Plus. This will feed the bacteria living in his hind gut so he can efficiently digest his forage. If these bacteria are at all compromised, he will not get enough calories from fiber.

About the blanket... at -20 degrees, I would definitely blanket him. For a normal weight horse with a good, healthy winter coat, a good rule of thumb for blanketing is below a wind chill of 20 degrees. So, for his situation, he definitely will benefit from the warmth that a blanket provides. Otherwise, he will expend more calories just trying to keep his internal body temperature normal.

Be sure he has free choice hay replacer in front of him at all times. Forage fermentation in the hind gut will create body heat.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO