Awhile ago, Emma from Fraidy Cat Eventing did a great post on her TBs nutrition plan and how it’s evolved since restarting him. Since I board, I’ve never really given too much in-depth thought to P’s nutrition beyond what I can control (supplements, meds), because otherwise I’d drive myself crazy with research. Then we went through the whole ulcer thing and I had to make some decisions.
For the last 2 years at the H/J barn, P has been fed SafeChoice Original + free choice fescue hay. He lost some weight when I moved him there in 2015, so the barn initially put him on half SafeChoice Original and half SafeChoice Perform. He didn’t take too kindly to the Perform (aka ROCKET FUEL), so we nixed that and only fed him the Original. While his spookiness/hotness leveled off somewhat, he was still a bit ribby so I added SmartPaks of the FatCat supplement in for 2 months and he looked great again.
Then when I got him back from the sale barn at the end of April he had lost a lot of topline and was back to being thin and ribby.
He gained back weight and some muscle, but then I had to face the music and deal with ulcers. In July he was scoped and ulcers were confirmed, so I added U-Shield to his feed, and then with the vet’s blessing, switched from SafeChoice to Triple Crown Senior. SafeChoice is pretty high in NSCs (non-structural carbs) and therefore is not ideal for ulcer-prone horses.
He definitely lost weight when we switched, so the barn increased his intake from 1 scoop 2x/day to 2 scoops 2x/day (8.5Lbs total per day), and I added the FatCat in back in. It’s barely making a dent- P’s weight loss has stalled, it seems, but he’s lost just about all of his topline and his withers and flanks are sunken in. Especially untacked and in the right sunlight…yikes.
When Trainer J came out on Monday morning for our lesson, we talked about feed for a bit as perhaps one of the causes for his more recent pokiness. She doesn’t like TC Senior because it’s higher in fiber than in fat, and is concerned that he’s burning through muscle now rather than through fat sources because of it.
So….what to do? The options at the barn I’m at are:
- Southern States Carb Care Balancer-
- Triple Crown Low-Starch
- Triple Crown Complete
- Triple Crown Senior
- There’s an option for Other as well, but that obviously depends on availability/cost.
- For an additional fee, you can add in either rice bran or beet pulp, I don’t have any experience with rice bran, but TC Sr is already beet pulp based.
But then I did a feed comparison and…it kind of makes no sense. TC Sr has more fat than SC Original, the protein is the same and the fiber is only slightly higher. So how is he losing fat when there’s more fat in his diet than before?
I’m kind of at a loss. He’s been on the TC Sr + FatCat for about a month now, and it’s just not working for him. Plus, riding has been sporadic. Now that we’re at a barn where we can do us, the riding will be more intense and I’m concerned that he’ll drop even more weight.
Recent fecal was negative and he gets free choice hay still, in addition to pasture. The pasture at the H/J barn wasn’t ideal- it was pretty small and the grass was almost non-existent due to overgrazing. They did have round bales, but my horse and his pasture mate opted to poop and sleep in it, rather than to eat it. The pasture he’s in now is FAR larger and has tons of grass, plus they still throw hay in addition to that. So forage-wise, it doesn’t get much better than where he’s at now.
My only semi-plan so far is to replace the FatCat with Cool Calories. FatCat is a protein-based weight gainer vs Cool Calories, which is more fat. Or maybe ADD the Cool Calories onto the SmartPak along with the FatCat to cover all bases.
I posed the question on COTH and got some sound answers, albeit ones that I don’t really want to do:
“Be patient and see how he does at the new barn.” BORING
And some unhelpful ones:
“He has ulcers again.” HE DOES NOT.
“Try (xyz feed that barn does not offer) because Senior is terrible and weight gainers don’t work.” I BOARD, READ THE ORIGINAL POST.
The biggest concern, aside from bringing back the ulcers of course, is lighting him up. While he may be a little TOO quiet lately, rides have been so much more pleasant than the ones where he tears around like a bat out of hell.
So I’d love to hear how others manage their horses’ nutrition. All the horses at the new barn are fat and shiny, so while I’ll give him a few weeks to adjust before switching up anything, I’m interested in hearing what has/hasn’t worked for other horses as well.
Some body pictures taken last night because I went through hundreds of pictures from the last 3 years for this post and I have ZERO. Plus some cute ones because, well, that’s what he is.
And for the love of God, the million dollar question: why can’t I lose weight like my horse?