When I first bought my horse in March 2017 he was about 3 steps away from being featured on a Sarah McLachlan commercial. He had a dropped topline, 0 neck muscle, and about 100lbs+ skinnier than I wanted to see him be. He weight taped under 1000lbs…as a 16.2 hand Thoroughbred. His coat was thin and patchy and ribs were starting to show. I don’t even have any before pictures of him without a blanket on because I was embarrassed for him.
So let’s investigate the cause. This one, luckily, was pretty clear- he needed some groceries and probably a good dewormer to help. Horse nutrition comes from three different sources. Number 1, feed– I’m pretty sure the grain he was on at the time was about $6 a bag of “livestock feed” and he got 1 lb. per feeding. Ouch. Number 2, turnout- barely any, and with about 8 other horses on an eaten down pasture in February. And number 3, hay- actually not that bad, but they only fed twice a day.
Let’s begin our slow process of weight gain and getting him nutritionally healthy.
It took me about 4 weeks to find him somewhere to live and arrange his transportation, so unfortunately at that point he probably dropped a little bit more. I actually have an Equine Studies degree, and honestly all of the school horses were fat and happy so it was never something went over in class on how to start to fix this particular weight problem. So I started off with what I had, I know previously he was healthy a different feed, but I wanted to add more than just grain to his diet for a little extra support. I was able to get half container of Weight Builder by Farnam. Good place to start really, Weight Builder contains flax meal which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. I saw a difference pretty fast, he was completely in a different location by then,eating more hay and eating a 12% grain with 2 scoops of Weight Builder. Within about 2 weeks he had gained back about 30lbs.
I was coming to the end of my Weight Builder container and I began looking into other supplements. There are many options that all do separate things. I have seen many other supplements/feed choices before in horses to get them to gain weight and by many, I mean MANY. I didn’t want to overload him in calories. I wanted to build muscle and weight correctly and ease him back into work. I didn’t want to up his grain by a lot due to risking stomach problems and colic. And I didn’t want to make him hot by adding the wrong type of calories; (sugars).
There are some great supplements out there that are going to help with weight gain. They are all really based on what you are wanting. Do you want to build muscle? Add calories? Add energy? Add protein? Help with your horse’s coat? So I went back to the drawing board. What is something he is going to eat, I mean, really eat and what is going to add safe calories? So I took a jump on a completely different supplement and tried Cocosoya Oil! (It also comes in granules as well) Wow. He ate it. He loved it. And I was happy. Cocosoya has Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, soybean oil, and coconut oil, all without raising his sugars and at a budget friendly cost. Oh and fun fact, you can feed it to your dogs. Fast forward into the summer time (about 2 months on Cocosoya) and he was a different horse. Weight taped at 1045lbs and had the shiniest coat in the barn. It’s amazing what good nutrition can do!
Weight supplements aren’t aren’t that difficult, although it feels that way while you’re overwhelmed with the many different options. But first, look at what your horse needs it for and what they are eating overall – then experiment. Maybe you just need a little more hay, or a little more grain? Then try out some weight building supplements. You never know what your horse is going to adjust to the best until you try.
This article was written by Laura Robertson, Big Dee’s Customer Care Representative