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Saddle-up Answers - Feeding the Older Horse


Catherine wrote:

I have a 15.2hh Arab, who is in the region of 25 yrs, she has lost a lot of her teeth, and now she will not eat hay at all. I have started feeding her hard feed and bringing her in at night as she is beginning to lose weight all ready and I do not want her to get run down before the bad weather comes. What do you suggest I feed her to give her enough fibre in her daily feed. She is at grass during the day at the moment and I am feeding her her normal hard feed twice a day and Alpha Hi Fi mixed with sugar beet, and lots of it. Is this ok or can you suggest anything else. She really loves hacking out so I need to keep her weight & energy up so I can actually ride her.

 
Answer:

If she can't manage hay, then it's unlikely she's getting much from grass.  If she's in the field on her own, or if it's practical to add another feed, I would push her up to 3 feeds a day. Alpha HiFi has a similar energy and protein content per kg dry matter to good quality hay or haylage.  You don't say what you are using for her hard feed but I would be inclined to add a suitable concentrate mix like Alfa-Senior, which is a medium energy Fibremix especially designed for older but active horses, or those needing condition.  (No, I'm not on commission but not being familiar with Alpha HiFi, I had to check the site to see exactly what it contained.)  The Alpha people have a helpline (Feedline 0845 345 5115) and an Online Ration Service which allows you to fill in details of the horse and they come back with a suggested ration.

You could also try her on one of the packaged haylage products (being damper, it's softer and more digestible.)   When she's stabled, if possible, I would push her up to 4 feeds a day - not necessarily feeding twice what you're feeding now, but spreading it more, to aid optimum digestion.

I'm sure there'll be some more suggestions from our readers.  Please complete the form HERE.

LizCobby writes:  

 We have found Blue Chip Pro to be good for the older ones. Supplement and probiotic.  Although it is small pellets, they are not rock hard. Perhaps you could crush a measure full in a bag with a rolling pin and mix the resulting granules into her sugar beet?

Their helpline online is v good too.


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