Monday, October 10, 2016

a glutton for....

Ok guys - I'm interested in some groupthink today. Specifically, I want to hear all about your experiences, thoughts and opinions about the general feeding and supplementing of a skinny OTTB.

specifically this one
I have my own thoughts and experiences to draw upon, and obviously the guidance of the trusted professionals in my world (including multiple trainers, barn managers, vets etc). So have no fear - Charlie's fate will not be left to the whims of the internet!

big guy squeezes into a size M cooler (barely)
All the same, tho, homeboy could probably use a little attention. So for some quick history:

He raced through the second week of August, which presumably means he was consuming a fairly large volume of high octane feed. Then Charlie went back to his owner's farm for a couple weeks before moving into the adoption facility, where he continued to get a high volume of feed (tho less than when he was at the track).

Since coming home with me, his feed has changed yet again. And we're basically starting from scratch. Charlie's life has changed so dramatically just in the past two months that I've sought to stagger any further adjustments - giving each new change an opportunity to 'settle' before tweaking or messing with anything else.

skinny horse + barn door
It seems safe to say tho that Charlie is officially immersed in his new world, and has adjusted to his regular feed, turnout, hay and grazing routine.

So it feels like a good time to assess how to better support his physical transition from race horse to sport horse that I expect to unfold over the next months/year. Starting with putting weight on him.

With that said - I'd love to hear from you about what has and has not worked for your horses. And everything is fair game - from specific types of feed, supplements, combinations thereof, turnout practices, whatever.

Anything and everything is useful at this point!


43 comments:

  1. Oil and soaked alfalfa cubes worked wonders for Hampton when he lost a bunch of weight over the winter (barn owners were not putting out roundbales). I have also had good luck with Purina Ultium. There are a bazillion options out there!

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  2. I'm a big fan of adding forage first. Stinker gained a lot of weight when I started giving him timothy pellets. While he wasn't coming off a race horse workload/diet, the EPM did a number on his weight.

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  3. Uh well I'm going to start this by saying I have an oddly fat thoroughbred who holds weight REALLY well, so my experience is probably not representative of most OTTB owners. Courage has hay in front of him every minute of every day. Probably about 2/3 alfalfa, 1/3 grass, all excellent quality. He's a good eater and I give him as many opportunities as possible to exercise that quality.

    When he came off the track (and straight off his high octane race diet), I switched 5 quarts of oats/racing supps to 1/2 quart safe choice 1x a day with the idea that I'd add something when he needed it.

    Three years later, he gets that, a small dose of magnesium to help his muscles stay loose, and some beet pulp to stick it together.

    Please don't hate me?

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    1. i love dem easy keeper TBs. the mare i used to ride easily stayed in hippo shape with only a peace offering twice a day (handful of grain to trick her that she was getting food...)

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  4. Good quality hay has always been my first go-to (usually orchard grass). Tried feeding just grain and fat supplements to fatten up my horses but they never got quite to where I wanted them until I was able to increase their amount of hay and switch to better quality. Now I barely feed any grain, mostly just hay and I've got a fat thoroughbred!

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  5. Totally with everyone who says forage first. Hay, hay, and more hay, maybe with some alfalfa mixed in for extra protein and stuff. A good mineral supplement, maybe a little beet pulp (optional as it can be a PITA to soak and feed), and ground flax if you really need it (or want a super shiny coat).

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  6. Beet pulp can help, but some of it is loaded with sugar so watch that. I tried Purina Ultium with Simon for months, and noticed 0 changed. Honestly the biggest factor for him holding weight better has been doing fecals/worming consistently and overall metabolism. He did not stop looking ribby until he turned around 8.

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  7. My OTTB is on a round bale 24/7 plus he gets about a coffee can of pretty standard feed 2x daily and stays fairly healthy looking. So not much help there. But I will say that what has worked well for fattening up our baby warmbloods for in-hand classes has been beet pulp, on top of their regular feed. But do watch the sugar content like Lauren said. Soaked alfalfa cubes is usually part of each meal too. And basically all the forage they want to eat.

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  8. Forage first, don't be scared of Alfalfa. I always chose high protein/fat feed like Purina Ultium after.

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  9. Roger was skinny, ulcery, had a shitty coat and typical TB feet when I got him as a 4-year old, so I would definitely recommend treating for ulcers if he has ANY kind of indication of those...better yet, it can't hurt to proactively treat him because I'm sure he's got some kind of tummy troubles being this soon off the track (most racehorses have ulcers at some point). I would also highly recommend adding Farrier's Formula (from SP) as a great hoof hardener if Charlie's feet are flaky and/or soft. FF has worked wonders for Roger and the added biotin also helped his coat and tail look a lot more healthy. My trainer/BO is a huge proponent of beet pulp and doesn't feed a ton of grain, so I will also suggest adding beet pulp to his diet if you can. Roger looks and feels like a completely different horse than he did 18 months ago, so hopefully some of my suggestions will help Charlie too!

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  10. I think you're doing the right thing by letting him settle a bit before you worry about it too much. It takes a while for all that shit from the track to work its way out of their system, plus their body and muscle tone is changing a lot. But I agree with everyone else - hay is the key. As much good quality hay as he can eat. After that I look for a higher fat (at least 10%) but lower NSC (below 20% preferably) feed. I'm not really a fan of supplementing extra stuff... I think that, as long as your area isn't particularly deficient in something, lots of good hay and a good quality grain are all they really need. Well that, and sometimes a course of ulcer treatment.

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  11. runkle went through a period of looking like some real turd this winter. my best advice would be don't overreact and start feeding a ton of grain. free choice hay is best (as pretty much everyone has stated above).

    most of the racehorses ive known get 2 scoops of feed... THREE TIMES a day. that's a TON of food. granted theyre doing a lot of high octane running so it works. but when you take them from that to a normal diet of a normal sporthorse, they're just going to look like shit.

    come spring hes going to adjust and fill out.

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  12. Broken record here -- hay, hay and more hay! My hard keeper OTTB has done quite well on senior with some alf pellets/beet pulp. I also used Cool Calories for a long time and really loved them for helping put weight on, but now that I'm just maintaining, I stopped using them.

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  13. Baconator and I have been through the ringer to get her to look decent. When she got straight grass hay, she looked like a skeleton with a hay belly. As soon as I switched her to alfalfa, it was an immediate change. She gets straight alfalfa (as much as she will eat), about 2lbs of beet pulp, 1cup of vegetable oil, 1c aloe Vera juice, 2/3c sunflower seeds, Gleam and Gain, Smartpak Smart Digest, and 3lbs LMF Showtime. And an apple. And she looks the best she has, but still not quite as round as I would like her. Sigh.

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  14. I agree, very good hay 24x7, I love them in slow feed nets :) It eliminates the "Big meal now full" feeling and they graze ALL DAY and will eat more than if fed in meals. After that, App gets/has got 2 scoops of Cool Calories, Nutrena Empower, and/or Max E Glo plus a high fat/protein grain.

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  15. I had a 17 hd recently gelded TB who had stood as a stallion for 11 years. I fed him 3 large flakes grass hay x2 daily. Plus alfalfa flakes x 2 daily, plus a plain beet pulp pellets soaked in warm water with a cup olive oil and sometimes alfalfa pellets thrown in too that expanded to a full bucket. And pasture all day. That kept him pretty solid looking.

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  16. I have to second L when she says don't be afraid of alfalfa. Upping the alfalfa and adding oil to it seems to be the magic bullet for Tango - who is the most difficult horse I've ever tried to keep weight on, unfortunately. I'd do the hay net thing but my farm isn't very good about them, so I have to be a bit more hands on about multiple meals a day but that's my neurosis coming out.

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  17. Yay hay, but if you really just want to spend some money, Cocosoya really helped push Bobby over that hump of looking fine to looking filled out. Plus shiny coat so yay spending money!

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  18. I had a really horrible time getting Mikey to gain weight. It didn't help that the person I bought him from (my instructor at the time) preferred thinner horses and I didn't know any better. Thinner is fine, except a year out from the track, Mikey still looked emaciated and sunken. I eventually pulled Mikey from that program once I wised up that he shouldn't look the way he does and was told that "he only needs muscle" (which was true, except he was burning muscle to make muscle, which doesn't work). His new barn was appalled at his condition and dumped hay into him, and he started looking better and filling out quickly. So that's where I would start- good quality grain, and lots of hay. Extra hay, pellets, or cubes. Alfalfa too if he can stand it. I wouldn't worry about it too much though- his body is going to be changing so much right now that he probably will "take a turn for the worse" in body condition as all the racehorse stuff gets out of his system. I'd just keep an eye on it and throw him extra forage in the meantime. To be honest, the only times Mikey looked really good was when he was getting an obnoxious amount of hay and pasture grass. Feed only did so much for him.

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    1. I also second Nutrena Empower- it helped Mikey a bit too. Penn is on it as well for the calories because I work the snot out of him (plus it makes them shiny!). Penn is also on Nutrena's Safe Choice Sr feed, which I like quite a bit. If you can find it, you can also do Nutrena Fuel, which Mikey responded to VERY nicely.

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    2. this was good stuff too, but Envision worked even more miracles haha

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  19. I really wish I had had luck with cocosoya. Only thing that has made a massive difference besides HAY HAY HAY and high fat, good quality grain(not the shit you can get from TSC or Rural King) is this grain dressing by Progressive Nutrition called Envision. Oh my goodness is it amazing! I also add Probios, and that combined with Envision is when I saw a MAJOR difference on top of what they are already getting hay and grain wise.

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  20. I want to start off by saying first: some horses react differently to certain supplements than others.

    Here is, in order, what has and has not worked with Fiction. He was 200-300 lbs underweight when I got him.

    1. Started on diet of rice bran, omegatin, and a huge amount of oats. No change.

    2. Started on 9lbs of nutrena safe choice performance (a day, still WAY TOO MUCH) + platinum performance. Saw a huge change - specifically in terms of muscle.

    3. Taken off of platinum and put on Exceed 6-way. Cheaper, covers more areas, etc. Fiction looked great - big muscles, shiny coat, etc.

    4. Taken off of exceed 6-way. Started on Nutrena safe choice senior (3lbs/feeding) plus 2 cups of dumor flax plus Tri-Amino. This was after 6 months off work. He had a bunch of ribs showing and no muscle. Tri-Amino REALLY helped pack on the muscle, but he still needed weight.

    5. Put on Nutrena Empower. It made him go bonkers. He started spooking at everything/going crazy.

    6. Treated for ulcers. Put him on 1 1/5lbs of safechoice senior plus 1 1/2lbs of grass pellets per feeding with 2 cups flaxseed, and 2 cups of alfalfa before every ride. Still no weight improvement.

    7. Took him off of empower. Put him back on exceed 6-way. Current diet is 2 lbs safechoice senior, 1 cup flax, 1 1/2 lbs hay pellets per feeding with exceed 6-way in the morning.

    His ribs have finally filled in and he has a bit of a belly to him now! And he has a bunch of muscle :)

    I highly recommend exceed 6-way as a supplement for horses who need overall protection + muscle building. Platinum performance CJ is a close second. For fiction I found that high-fat supplemental feeds cause him to go crazy (empower), but high-fat oils, etc., don't.....they also don't seem to help much either!

    Ultimately, low amounts of high quality grain with additional forage (grass pellets in this case) and alfalfa before every ride seem to do the best for Fiction and keep his stomach happy, since I'm not dumping 9lbs of feed a day into him anymore!

    Sorry for the obnoxiously long post haha.

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  21. He actually looks in fairly decent weight in your pictures for coming off the track so recently. I agree with stuffing him with hay and a nice low nsc grain and waiting to see how things go. He's not working very hard yet and hopefully he will be an easy keeper.
    I'd recommend putting his diet into feedxl just to look for things you might be missing. That was the best thing I did for Stampede. He literally just needed more calories than I realized - he's so big he really does need 8 lbs of grain a day to maintain under his workload.
    Nothing works great for all horses, I wish it did!

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  22. Such great input here, I also agree with giving him as much hay as he can eat and adding alfalfa! I know several people that have also had great luck with feeding their OTTBs Buckeye Grow n Win - a high protein supplement. Did really great things for weight and muscle!

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  23. I've had great success with the handful of OTTB's i've has by giving them lots of hay- I give them lots of alf and grass, they need the protein from the alf to gain- and I them mix Strategy AX and Equine Sr. I also LOVE U-7 added to the grain. It helps with any tummy issues that might be there. Henry also gets it almost every day and it was helped him as well :)

    Jet is currently putting weight on nicely with this mix :)

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  24. On board with "forage first" -- if horse is on 24-hour free-choice pretty hay / good pasture and gets a reasonable daily ration of grain and is STILL not gaining weight, sometimes they'll perk up if you add a secondary feeding (morning or evening, whenever your guy is not fed his grain ration) of a 'senior' complete pelleted feed in addition to the free-choice pretty (leafy, nicely green) hay. I like Purina's Equine Senior. It's pelleted, has vitamins, and is easy to digest... sometimes that's enough to help a hard keeper turn the corner. For the SUPER EXCESSIVELY PICKY, I have done well with Purina Ultium but it's expensive and usually not necessary.

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  25. I did a lot of research for my mare when I became 100%responsible for her nutrition (no longer pasture boarding with herd feedings). I spoke to some of the top nutritionists in endurance at the time including a vet who specializes in endurance nutrition. I am 100% NOT AN EXPERT and I know OTTB going into eventing is a world of difference from arabs doing endurance, but if you are interesting I wrote it all up here: http://agemofahorse.blogspot.com/2016/02/always-do-thisunless-you-cantthen-donta.html

    High quality hay can't be beat followed by a good grain choice.

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  26. Soaked alfalfa and beet pulp have always been my two go-tos. Also, there are some amazing weight boosters out there that are fairly inexpensive and are targeted towards senior horses that are amazing for hard keepers.

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  27. I've used cool calories with good luck. I also had Annie on a senior feed initially. Good hay helped the most though. I know my barn owner does alfalfa and oil (need to check what kind) for her guys when they need a little extra help in the weight department.

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  28. Good quality hay is hard to find and expensive here, so I feed a decent prairie grass hay and add forage via alfalfa pellets. This has helped all of my horses gain and hold weight better, and definitely doesn't make them any hotter!

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  29. I have a QH who gets fat on air, so uh, easy keeper is an understatement, but Lucy eats straight alfalfa ('cause she's allergic to grass, the diva). I will SWEAR up and down, back and forwards, to the moon and back for Platinum Performance though. Her coat looks show-ready despite living outside and getting a total lack of attention (promise she's just retired not neglected oops), her tail drags the ground, her feet are awesome - and it's been the case with every horse we've ever had on it (which is... all of them). Totally happy to share photos, chat more if you're interested it all. And no, they don't pay me to say this (I wish).

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  30. Dont have an OTTB but do love when horses have hay all day....

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  31. Murray and lots of horses at our barn have responded really well to:
    - rolled barley (up to 3-4 lbs per day I think, though Murray only gets about 1/2)
    - added fat either top dressed canola oil (never soy, flax too fucking expensive) or cool calories (but must be careful because that one has given a few horses the explosive shits)
    - omega horse shine; a great flax supplement that isn't too expensive and has good added calories

    Murray and a few other OTTBs I know have not responded well to:
    - too much/any alfalfa (if you want Murray to be BANANAS this is your ticket to the show)
    - rice bran; I know, I know, people say it does wonders and my MIL's warmbloods thrive on it! All I know is that it makes Murray act like he's on a meth binge.

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  32. Rice Bran, Shredded Beet Pulp, and good quality alfalfa were recommended by my vet when my OTTB came back from a bad boarding situation with a body score of 3. She didn't get fizzy at all, and looks like a million bucks now :D

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  33. I always do what you did in terms of grain.... listen to the pro's from my experience a really good supplement to start has always been a major help. I've seen a few OTTB's colic no matter how careful the feed adjustment. My faves are SmartPak's SmartGut as well as NeighLox Advanced. To me it's a little extra "insurance" during the transition. I also love hay cubes soaked in water as an additional feed supplement. The wetter the better.

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  34. I have no suggestions (partially because our options in Alberta are very different) but I can for sure sympathize with you. I got William straight off the track and the 16 hours+ he spent on the trailer to get here sure did not help his weight. I've had him a month now and he's slowly starting to pack on the pounds.

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  35. We feed 90% of our OTTBs Nutrena 10/10 pellet (2 quarts twice a day) and a quart twice a day of Proforce Fuel with the pellets. We have one or two that need a little extra weight going into winter so we've added a dinner serving of soaked beet pulp which we love for the extra fat without the crazies... Nolan (my new OTTB) was getting 16 (yes, sixteen) quarts of grain at the track even when he wasn't racing and his trainer told me he didn't eat much hay. I worried a lot about him crashing badly once I got him home but we weaned him off his track food, introduced the pellet + fuel combo and he's eating everything like a champ. I added cool calories to help him make the transition. Oh, and he eats all the hay he wants! I would recommend having his teeth looked at (just to make sure there's nothing that would impede his nutrition and keep a watch for ulcer symptoms. I think Charlie looks in pretty good weight:)

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  36. I didn't read all the comments, but I LOVE Tribute feeds. We always had a hard time keeping weight on Fatass and to top it off that asshole was the pickiest TB I've ever met. Tribute has so many option. We fed the performance feed or the Kalm EZ or something and a fat supplement that looked like dog food but he liked it and it WORKED. I used to feed the easy keeper concentrated feed to Twister for his feet. I haven't in nearly a year yet I bitch about how bad his feet are......................... lol.

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  37. So many great inputs here! I love the differing experiences with various feeds, shows why there are so many options! I tried ultium with Diva who was a hard keeper and saw no change for a lot of money. I really like safe choice preform and empower. Slider and Prisoner both get about two quarts of the safe choice preform twice a day and Slider gets about 1.5 cups of empower at both feedings as well. They also get as much hay as they can eat (a mix of orchard grass and teff) and pasture for about 8 hours a day. They are also on a low dose of Ranitidine (which you can get off the shelf at Walmart now) and aloe vera juice.

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  38. Going to continue the broken record of free-choice hay. As L mentioned, don't be afraid of alfalfa!

    If you are going to go the oil route, avoid vegetable oil. It isn't particularly healthy or beneficial for gaining weight. I recommend virgin olive oil. 1cup 2x a day.

    I had particularly good results with rice bran when I first got Suzie, so that might be something worthwhile to look into!

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  39. Renew gold is my pot of gold. Seriously. Struggled with weight for 6 years with Riesling until I tried this. I can't begin to express my devotion to this grain. It is the best thing in the universe if you ask me.

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