Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rebuilding my horse - HELP!

Cibolo is losing weight. Here's what he looked like when I bought him.

And now:

This is from our endurance race (before the race). Now at the vet, he still weighs the same. So I'm really confused by that.

So you folks with more experience - was he fat before and now he's lean?

I think he's lost muscle. Or do I need to load him up on alfalfa and oats?

Or if he needs to get a work out to build his back muscles again, what kinds of things would be helpful?



Katharine Swan said...

I don't see ribs in the second picture. I think he's lost bulk, but not muscle. Have you been doing a lot of endurance with him? I suspect he is getting leaner from it. Especially from downhill work, which I've heard works off their bellies pretty quickly. I think he's just lost all the fat around the muscles.

Leah Fry said...

Either way, he looks good.

Wolfie said...

I think he looks good. I suspect that you are riding Cibolo more frequently then his previous owner and perhaps he's in better shape.

Funder said...

According to the scales he hasn't lost weight? Then he was fat and now he's lean. If he has a nice thin layer of fat on his muscles, I'd say he looks perfect.

jill said...

Same thing that happens when people start working out. At some point you start gaining muscle, which is more dense than fat and you stop losing pounds. So you look leaner, but weigh the same or more sometimes! He looks like a fit horse now. He looks a little overweight in the first picture. If you start seeing ribs, add calories.

Anonymous said...

He looks a little chubby in the first picture in the second. I can't see all that well - here are the tests: run your hands across his ribcage from front to back - what's the first rib you can clearly feel - should be about the middle of the ribcage, and you should be able to clearly feel the last several ribs. Second, can you see points of hips on sides, and points of pelvis in back, or points of sacrum on top - e.g. how round/rectangular is his butt and are any joints protruding - if not I wouldn't worry. If you want, email me a photo from directly behind and a photo of his butt from the side and I'll tell you what I think.

I suspect he's just a lot more fit - he may need some more calories but there are good (and bad) ways to get those.

Rising Rainbow said...

I agree with everything else that's been said. Probably just leaner from his new line of work.

Dunappy said...

photo one to me looks like a "porky pony" photo 2 to me looks like a fit and trim pony.
Remember that Muscle ALWAYS weighs more than fat, so it takes MORE fat to make a horse weight the same as a fit horse with muscle. A Fat horse will always look more "filled out" then a fit horse with muscle.

Cara said...

He looks good in both pictures. The first one shows a lot of 'finish.' A little more than I like to see on a pleasure horse.
The second one shows a competitive athlete. The endurance horses I have seen look more like this.
If....If..... you want to add a bit more, I would do it with hay, not grain. You can always call your vet and ask him.

Beth said...

You should be able to feel his ribs if you lightly run you hand over his side, but not see them.

I think he is looking good. Too many horses are fat. Just look at mine. lol

Vaquerogirl said...

Hunny, your horse was FAT and now he is athletic! That is a good thing!
If you are riding him regularly, and can just see the shadow of his ribs under the skin, he is in good 'fightin' condition- perfect for long distence riding. Have you ever seen a chubby marathon runner? NO, cuz working like that makes your muscles leaner and stronger.
I wouldn't add on extra alfalfa carbs with out knowing why. I think a good quality grass hay once a day, alfalfa once a day, and a good premium feed like Ultium or Stragedy (Purina) will keep his weight and muscles toned, and his hair coat shiney and slick.
In my humble opinion he looks great!

Breathe said...

Thank goodness I asked! I'm part italian, part Mexican, so the first thing I think is "Honey! You too skinny! Eat! Eat!"

I am beginning to see a shadow of ribs, so we are upping his grain slightly. But I think we'll work on getting him more hay.

And I'll do some better pictures and post them.

Thanks everybody. What a relief!

Anonymous said...

Not that I know anything about horses, but he looks great.

Trailrider said...

I'm surprised no one has asked about worming.

I think Cibolo looks fine, but if I were worried about the conditioning score of my horse, I'd consider the following: type/quality of hay, amount of grain being given by WEIGHT, exercise level of the horse, and wormer schedule. I also favor the use of a supplement to round out what you might be missing in the hay and grain. I use Platinum Plus.

I find it very easy to add weight, and an incredible sheen, to my horses, with alfalfa. Just a flake at night is usually all it takes. I have experimented with increasing grain, and that works too, VERY QUICKLY, I might add. I only feed about a pound of grain daily to my horses, and that's just to be sure their protein "plane" is OK in case the hay quality is off.

Personally, I find my grade QH's, Lola and Woody, ride better when they're on the lean side. They are more athletic, have better stamina, and are easier on my legs as they are less rotund. I DO try to keep weight on my paso fino, however, as his spine gets bony rather quickly.

As for weight, I agree with the other comments. It's all about the proportion of muscle to fat. I'd rather see my horses lean and ripped with muscle from frequent riding, than filled in and fat. Now lean and devoid of muscle is NOT good. But that's not how Cibolo looks. He looks like he's ready for a 50 miler!

Melanie said...

Okay...I am going to play devil's advocate and say that Cibolo's weight looks fine...if he were a light, hot breed. And he is a QH, right?

He definitely was chubby when you bought him, but I think that he needs more groceries now. It sounds like you are doing a lot of hard/endurance type riding, and he looks like he has muscle, but not much else.

And, he does look like an endurance horse, but personally, I think they look rather scrawny (just my opinion though!)

If he were my horse, I would REALLY up his hay/roughage/carbs, as well as increase his protein level; either through alfalfa hay/pellets or through grain or a vitamin supplement.

Now, the down side to that is that he might get a little on the hot side, behaviorally. It's really up to you, and everyone has offered great advice. I just like my horses to resemble their breed...and maybe he does. It could just be the angle of the picture. : )

Whatever you decide, he is still a beautiful creature, and I am so glad that the two of you are "joining" up. : )


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

For me, it's really hard to tell from the pictures if he is/was fat or thin. In the second photo, his spine looks as if it is protruding from his back slightly. Is this the case? You should never be able to feel the spine sticking up above the back muscles. It should all be filled out.

Personally, I wouldn't feed more alfalfa or grain to make a horse fat. I've been taught that beet pulp and lots of free fed grass hay is best.
If you'd like to add grain, do so a little at a time, and not with plain corn or oats (unless you want a wild bronco to ride). Look for a balanced feed like Purina or Strategy, or similar. Ask your vet what he/she recommends, too.

I would also keep an eye on where he is fed and with whom. Are there alpha horses that might be chasing him away from his daily rations?
Is he just not able to eat enough because other horses are eating his portions?

Good luck,

Freelance Freeman said...

He does look fit and athletic, but in my mind, just a little on the thin side.
Red Rabbit was looking thin in January, so on vet advice, I gave him a Panacur Power Pac to take care of encysted small strongyles in his hind gut. It worked great--he got sleek on put on weight fast, but he sure hated the taste of the stuff.

Shirley said...

If you decide your horse needs more feed, I don't recommend "hot" feeds. More good quality grass hay, and if you need more than that add fat rather than carbs. Make sure worming and teeth are up to date too. Floating teeth can make a HUGE difference.