A skinny horse can mean trouble. It’s important to be proactive and get your horse on the road to recovery immediately. Here’s some simple steps to follow:
1) Evaluate your horse’s body condition with the help of an experienced horse owner. It is also a good idea to get the vet involved. Check along his neck, ribs, and haunches to see if he is indeed skinny. Use a body score to judge how skinny he is. Read: What’s Your Horse’s Body Score? for more information.
2) You’ll now need to determine why he is skinny. Is it simply his food intake or something much more? Evaluate him for illnesses, parasites, ulcers, and dental issues. Check his living arrangements and see if he is stressed or displaying unnecessary anxiety. Some horses are just hard keepers.
3) It’s time to add more calories! You will need to adjust his food intake to help support weight gain.
- Fiber is a necessary part of his diet. This includes grass and hay. He should be eating between 2-3% of his body weight in roughage. If possible, you should offer free choice hay at all times. A high calorie fiber addition can be beet pulp, as well.
- Carbs found in grain can also help him pack on more pounds. You’ll want to avoid those high in starch and sugar for their risks of digestive issues. Be very careful to not overfeed grain!
- Oil is a great way to add fat. It can be a better option than grain! You’ll also notice an improvement in his coat. Rice bran oil is a good one to look into.
4) Add a supplement. If he simply isn’t getting enough from his regular diet, weight gain supplements can help add concentrated calories. Many will have essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
This journey won’t be easy, but with persistence and a solid plan you can improve your horse’s body condition in no time.