So this beautiful girl turned up one week ago. She is quite underweight. I normally don’t show any photos like this, I prefer to only show my horses in top condition how I like all of them to be. However I felt that this could be a great learning opportunity for a lot of people. So I want to take this opportunity to discuss what I am looking at to determine what this horse will need to get her back in to top shape. The first photo is the day she arrived. I didn’t want to do a side on as she was not in great condition and at the time I was not going to do a post in regards to her condition. The following photos are 5 days later of being on a good feeding programme. Firstly I have to ensure that I am focused on the outcome of getting this horse to look and feel good as well as be able to come in to work without having too much energy that will make her too hot headed to work with. Ok so what am I looking at to figure out her dietary needs?? 1. Topline. There is next to no muscle or fat on her topline at all. 2. Ribs. Her ribs are showing which is a lack of fat and muscle in the abdominal area. 3. Coat. Her coat is dull and lifeless and she is covered in rainscald. Possible causes are worms, ulcers 4. Tail. Looking to see if there is any rub marks (there is no obvious rubbing) or fuzziness at the top indicating a possible worm infestation. 5. Teeth. I want to make sure that her teeth are not the cause of her weight loss. They are in good condition and don’t require immediate attention. 6. Hooves. I want to ensure that her feet are strong and sound before any work is to commence. Now we need to put together a plan to address these issues. 1. Roughage. Ottbs need a constant supply of roughage in order to put weight on and help with any ulcers that may be present. As you can see Kiwi is in a large paddock with plentiful amounts of good grass so we will not have to supply roughage for her. 2. Proteins and Fats. These are needed for the Kiwi’s general weight gain but this is vital for her to be able to produce a lovely strong topline. I use Koola Blend pellets which is my base pellet for all of my horses. It is a low energy feed that has been nutrionally balanced for horses to ensure all of the daily vitamins and minerals are supplied to them. I then use Copra meal for added amounts of digestible protein and natural fats. I also add Rice Bran oil to her feed for extra fats which will help her gain weight fast and help improve her coat condition without her becoming ‘hot’. She also gets Lucerne hay of a morning to give her some extra protein and important vitamins and minerals. 3. Drench. Kiwi has received a drench to ensure she does not have any worms so that she gets all the nutrients from the food and that her gut is as healthy as possible. 4. My next step is to bring her down and give her a medicated wash to help kill and lift out the rainscald. 5. Her feet will be trimmed and shoes will be put on before she starts work. 6. Her topline will only fill out to a certain point without the correct work that will strengthen and build the toplinemuscles. 7. When to bring her in to work?? I am looking for her to fill out over her back and ribs. Once she can comfortably have a saddle on and her ribs are not showing then she will start light work. It is super important that when you start out feeding a horse that is underweight that you slowly introduce the concentrated feeds in slowly so you don’t overwhelm their digestive system and cause them to become sick. Kiwi is now up to 1 biscuit of lucerne of a morning and 1.5 dippers of pellets+.5 dipper of copra+.25 cup of rice bran oil of a night. Now it is up to you to keep a very close eye on the development of the horses weight and muscles. If the horse is not gaining any then that means that you will need to increase your quantities. If they are gaining and then they plateau out then that means they are only getting enough food to support that current weight and quantities will need to be increased to gain more weight. If you are still struggling with your horse please do not hesitate to contact me so I can help you design a feed plan that will get your horse back in to top condition.