Horse lacking energy - any feed experts?

applecart14

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Hi my horse is seriously lacking energy for schooling. He is rising 19, I wouldn't say he is overweight as stood a certain way you can see all his ribs, but he has a bit of a pot belly due to lack of muscle tone in his stomach. He's been out of regular work since December following a suspensory branch injury and can hopefully start canter work in the next couple of weeks subject to the vet agreeeing to this - I took a video of his progress on Sunday. He has lost muscle tone off his topline, in particular his neck has lost muscle.

Over winter he was increasingly spooky but this stopped almost immediately following cessation of boiled barley water, so I think this was what was setting him off. During this period of spookiness he was so bad I started ruling out certain things, carrots, sugar, feed, feed balancer, etc. I got the vet out to examine his eyes, back and legs and all were fine and his teeth were routinely rasped. He even went on a bute trial to see if the spookiness was related to pain but his behaviour was the same if not worse during the trial so we ruled out pain. As I say he is totally changed now since the cessation of the barley water in his feed. His last two worms counts were negative.

When I school him he is lovely and forwards going for about ten minutes from the point when we start trotting, so about ten minutes in. But then its like he runs out of petrol and I have to really use my leg to keep him going.

At the weekend I did a fair bit of trot work with him at an arena I had hired at my local riding club, but after a few minutes he just wouldn't go off my leg despite him starting off fine in trot. I had put spurs on but they made no difference. When the half hour hire was up I took him in the field and trotted around and he wasn't much more energetic.

I am guessing his feed is low in energy. He is only out in a sandpit for two hours a day and has access to a haynet whilst out. He also has one large net and a small net overnight and two more small ones during the day (I am guessing about 22KG a day) which are wet well. He is ridden three days a week hacking (one day hour hacking, two days 30 mins hacking) one day off and the other three days schooling for max 25 mins, walk and trot straight lines only.

He is fed on mug of pasture mix, one large handful of Good Doer, half a mug of pony nuts and has pink powder, glucosamine and magic, with carrots added too.

I was thinking of putting him on something which will give him more energy without making him fizzy. When he was competing he was Spillers instant energy and it was great as it gave him stamina. Any ideas what I could give him now? I don't want to put him on a feed balancer as the pink powder should more than fulfil his vitamins and nutrients.
 

milliepops

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I know he's in rehab, but he's really in very light work indeed. Assuming what you and your vet believe about his recovery is correct, and there isn't something else lurking (always possible, even if you think you've covered everything) then I would say he is just not fit enough.

If you had 30 mins school hire, and then rode in the field afterwards- this is actually more work than he is doing on his schooling days at home. I'm guessing perhaps you had travelled there in the trailer too? This also takes physical effort.
The hacking and school work he is currently doing will not be getting him fit, so I'd expect him to feel tired after that.

If you fill him with hard feed, you'll be be back to square 1 with the spooking ;) If he were mine I'd make sure he always had forage in front of him, keep him on the vits & mins and up his work gradually. He looks well enough on what he's getting. I evented my mare off grass and she is now (just) competing advanced medium on hay and a balancer with oodles of energy - fitness is the key IMO.
 

ester

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so from what I read he goes flat at the 20 mins point (after 10 mins walking and 10 mins trotting)
He really should be happy to do that even if he were only having hay IMO so he is either just not fit enough for it or something else is going on.

If you do want him to have some more then think oil rather than molasses/oats (which is what is in the spillers) like micronised linseed.
 

BethH

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This is exactly what mine has been going through for the last 18months, in fact at one point he became so low & lethargic that he was tested several time for cushings and a blood test found a viral/bacterial infection. However even though his bloods were clear a few weeks later he didn't get his energy and enthusiasm back & it was so bad that I was considering retirement home and at one point PTS.

So in the last few weeks he has come almost sound ( touch wood!) and having tried loads of different things I think the things that seem to have made a difference are the following:

1, Strong chance with the damp and cold that it could have been his hocks flaring up, he was more sore than I realised but is quite stoical but just couldn't manage the forwardness and tired very quickly. Luckily I never pushed, as I knew he always tried his best for me but perhaps I should have jumped on that quicker and maybe given the odd bute.

2/ I put him on Progressive Earth pro mineral with some brewers yeast. He seems to have really perked up and is so much more enthusiastic,I am convinced he had mineral deficiency from unbalanced grass, the change in his brightness is unbelievable - am convinced that is a part of the jigsaw.

3/ I was also told by a body work to try him on Apple cider vineger (with mother - i.e., with the enzymes) He's been on it for a couple of weeks. I got an organic one called Biona. Apparently there is a thought that the calcium crystals that gather in the joints are broken down by the enzymes in the vinegar, so thought worth a try if it is his hocks playing up - I don't know whether it's true or not but he has a spring in his step and has been offering me canter on both reins and bearing weight much more behind, he has definitely been more sound since I've been adding 50ml a day to his feed.

The other things that have helped at various time are a course of global herbs "Restore" which is a good spring detox tonic, that really perked him up in the short term and I also tried a course of Protexein Recover Aid, which again I think really helped him at his lowest ebb. The whole thing came and went in waves - it has been emotionally very exhausting.

These are my musings and it may just be the weather but he has been like a different horse and much more back to his old self of late - I am just praying it continues. I posted as maybe something I've mentioned may ring a bell for your horse. I hope it's an easy fix and he finds his mojo quickly.
 
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applecart14

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I
If you had 30 mins school hire, and then rode in the field afterwards- this is actually more work than he is doing on his schooling days at home. I'm guessing perhaps you had travelled there in the trailer too? This also takes physical effort..

I said that to my partner, but he thought he was taking the p**s with me.

Last night I rode him in the ménage in a different bit and he was more forwards going although he keeps slowing down near the mounting block! I only did about 20 minutes with him as I am keen to do little and often rather than a lot every now and then. I will look at the micronized linseed that Ester has suggested or something with oil in it, just worried about keeping his weight down as he is such a good doer.

I am overweight by about three stone, so struggle with my fitness and after a few minutes trotting am nearly requiring an oxygen tank, so I know where he is coming from and I probably don't help him much! If I took him to a XC or asked him to jump a SJ track four times, he would zoom round that with miles to spare because he finds it exciting and interesting, so I am wondering if he is a little bored and stale with the school doing straight lines. We have progressed to large figures of eight now, and a little leg yield, but trying to incorporate new things to do obviously needs to be done gradually. When he is at last turned out at grass (hopefully in the next month) he may be a little different.

Obviously over winter that is all I have been doing with him due to the dark nights, so I think I will start taking him on some longer hacks, the vet seems to think that hacking distance is no obstacle for him and he can hack for as many miles as I want.

I can probably go on a couple of hour long hacks in the evening as I am lucky enough to get to the yard at 4.45pm so have time enough to hack out, and I will look at introducing more transition work and trot poles to liven things up a little for him.
 
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Tiddlypom

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Has he been tested for Cushings? His age, his dropped belly, poor topline and lethargy are all indicators for the disease. Worth a blood test, IMHO, and if it is Cushings, they often perk up really well once stabillised on a suitable dose of Prascend.
 

ester

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I can feed a mug of linseed a day without worrying about weight, I up it to too mugs in the middle of winter when I am a bit.
I'd definitely get him hacking, we have till 8pm easily here atm :)
 

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I'd be inclined to agree and test for cushings, age and symptoms point towards it...bringing back into work should be steady, walk for a couple of weeks, introducing trot and eventually canter...hill work for 20/30 mins in walk helps too, but I'd get tested, you generally treat what is presented in front of you so if he is tested and is borderline, it will not do harm to start on prascend (half a tablet initially) and up to whatever the vet prescribes... Let us know how you get on...
 

applecart14

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Has he been tested for Cushings? His age, his dropped belly, poor topline and lethargy are all indicators for the disease. Worth a blood test, IMHO, and if it is Cushings, they often perk up really well once stabillised on a suitable dose of Prascend.

Yeah I read about this on another post recently and had kind of pushed it to the back of my mind. If there is not different on linseed and/or another higher energy product then I will get him tested for this. I have just finished paying off my vets bill thank goodness! :)
 

JillA

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Mine has been lacking forward for a fairly long time, and after his bout of laminitis last autumn I have realised it was due to his feet not being comfortable - he has been loads better with the treatment, although gone slow again so I know he is still having problems. Maybe a bute trial for a week or two?
 

applecart14

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Mine has been lacking forward for a fairly long time, and after his bout of laminitis last autumn I have realised it was due to his feet not being comfortable - he has been loads better with the treatment, although gone slow again so I know he is still having problems. Maybe a bute trial for a week or two?

Sorry Jilla you probably missed this on my OP (think I mentioned it) but he was on a bute trial not so long ago as he was the opposite end of the spectrum and positively rocket fuel mode and some of the forum were screaming 'its because he's in pain' although those that know him and his history vet included knew it wasn't. As suspected it made no difference to his spookiness! In the end I suspect it was down to the boiled barley water being added to his feed.

Since the boiled water addition stopped he's been great at first but has gradually faded and faded. Last night I hacked him out and he was practically asleep. Don't get me wrong he is not shuffling along, his stride is fine, his ears are pricked and his head is up. Back swinging as always (always had a very swingy back) but just really slow. Sometimes I will give him a little kick and say 'BAILEY' and he will shoot forwards but then slows down. Its really weird as last spring (to start introducing him to grass again as they are off it for six months through winter) I started letting him graze on hacks. Now he sees some nice grass on the verge and slows down. But I don't think its that as there is no grass in the school! But then we head towards home and he suddenly feels like his tank has been refueled, so I wonder if he is taking the Michael!
 
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JillA

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Yes, sorry, I did miss it. But for a prey animal to be so lacking in energy is flagging something up - their very survival depends on energy being available, so if not pain, then some sort of deficiency? Talk to Forageplus, bearing in mind their grazing and fodder make up most of their diet, it is worth getting it analysed if the source is consistent. Then supplementing any that are deficient - magnesium deficiency results in them running on adrenaline, I don't know what could cause extreme lethargy (except Cushings) but Sarah at Forageplus may well do.
 

applecart14

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He's on Magic so should be okay for magnesium. My partner thinks he is just being lazy.

Will see what happens. I think he might liven up when he goes onto the grass. He is probably feeling a bit down and despondent as its been a long time off grass and in a sandpit, five months and counting. Hopefully when the weather warms up and it stops raining he can go out.
 

Micky

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Sounds so much like my horse before he was tested for cushings.....not sure when the free test starts again but ask your vet as he should know and at the end of the day, it doesn't cost that much for the test anyway, it's only a blood test....
 

applecart14

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, it doesn't cost that much for the test anyway, it's only a blood test....

Yes I will when I have the money to hand. He never goes without vet care. "Only a blood test" amounts to around £80-£100. I think the £200 for his shavings that I have to find in the next week are more important as an immediate requirement. I will speak to the vet this week for his thoughts.
 

hollyandivy123

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the older my old man got the more sensitive he got to coat change season, the extra energy required to change the coat took it out of him a bit, i use to put him on procell of something similar, just needed the extra at twice a year
 

Micky

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Blimey I only paid £28 for my blood test, we have zone days where you don't pay for the call out though, but that's £30... Lip hook should be able to tell you when the test is coming up free again..
 

applecart14

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Blimey I only paid £28 for my blood test, we have zone days where you don't pay for the call out though, but that's £30... Lip hook should be able to tell you when the test is coming up free again..

You have to pay for travel - £44. Then you have to pay for examine equine £40. Then you have to pay for 'aesphetic injection technique', not sure how much. Zone free days are for routine work only, i.e vacs. So when I can afford to do so I will. I am always first to get the vet out when I feel it necessary. As he was zooming around like a maniac only weeks before and spooking at his own shadow I doubt it has anything to do with cushings.

I think its lack of energy from feed and would like to try that first before I go any further.
 

Pinkvboots

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The cushings test is free there is a website you download the voucher from, most vets that do there own testing will do it for free anyway, obviously you pay for call out unless you take him there yourself, he sounds like his a bit fed up to be honest if his not been turned out all winter are your fields not open yet it's the end of April.
 

applecart14

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The cushings test is free there is a website you download the voucher from, most vets that do there own testing will do it for free anyway, obviously you pay for call out unless you take him there yourself, he sounds like his a bit fed up to be honest if his not been turned out all winter are your fields not open yet it's the end of April.

No the one year they didn't get open to 1st June, then they are back in about October :( I think its because we don't have a lot of acreage and its to 'save' the fields, although grass always grows back well afterwards as it does everywhere.

I think he's a bit depressed and fed up of only going out for 2 hours out of every 24 (in a sandpit). I try and stop three or four times during a one hour hack and let him graze from the verge so that he has a bit of grass going through him all the time, but obviously its only a couple of minutes at a time.

I was feeding him readigrass through the winter but when he started going silly I took him off that amongst other things to try to eliminate the behaviour and got the vet out to check him over. It transpired that it was the barley water he was being fed from the boiled barley given to the hunters that was sending him potty, and since the cessation of that, literally days later he was a different horse. :)

On of the other liveries had a bag of readigrass she is no longer feeding her horse so we are all using that up, a little handful at a time.
 
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Roasted Chestnuts

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I would take him to the vets and have a test done as we had a TB diagnosed off the chart at 15 and he had gone from a hold back ride to a chase along, with no top line and a belly, he was PTS as owner I'd the same as me and doesn't believe in long term medication of older horses. He had on off lameness issues as well and was crippled without shoes so was better to let him go.
 

sportsmansB

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You can feed soaked grass nuts too as a prep for getting out again
Not sure I would be stopping for grazing while on board, if u think he is maybe taking the mick anyway- this wouldn't help!!
Can you just hack & build up the time & intensity that way rather than even going into the school until you are happy that physical fitness couldn't be the root of the reluctance in the arena? Then u can properly get after him if it is laziness, & can make it more interesting as he will be fit for more
 

Mike007

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If you want a horse to be energetic , he must be fit. Feed only supports fitness it doesnt create it.
 

KautoStar1

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I would definitely have a cushings test just to rule it out if nothing else. Mine had a few less obvious symptoms and I had the test done. he was clear so that was one thing to rule out. I also re-looked at his feed completely, taking into account sugar and starch levels but the most interesting fact I found about most commercial feeds is the amount of soya oil used as a binding agent. There is some research to suggest horses do not digest soya very well. Have a look at the St Hippolyte range of feeds.
Fitness is also key as Mike007 says.

But it is also worth considering that age and his previous injuries are catching up with him now. I'm not suggesting he is in pain but old age means everything is just that bit more of an effort.
 
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