Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Harvster reaches epic proportions

I always say that if I had children they would be very fat. Food equals love, right? Harv enjoys being chubby, and I'm convinced that seeing his rotund frame lowers my blood pressure.

See the photo below. If I want a chubby Harvster, you can see that my work here is done.

A few words about fat...
My vet told me once that with modern feeds, there is no reason a horse that is willing to eat should be thin. Older horses do have appetite loss, but -- from what I've read -- if you have an old horse (otherwise healthy) that will eat, and you're in a position to feed the senior feeds at the *prescribed levels, you should be able to keep them in good weight.

I probably sound pretty glib, and I don't mean to -- I know there are barriers to making this happen:
  • Many old horses are battling illnesses such as Cushings that will mess with their metabolism.
  • Many old horses -- like old people -- just don't want to eat.
  • Many horses have metablic issues that make it healthier for them to be THIN. Obviously we're not talking about horses who are founder-prone or insulin resistant.
  • The amounts of senior feed that old horses may need may require 3-5 feedings a day. If your horse is not at home, that could be tricky.
  • It's expensive to feed that much food (although for horses that can't eat hay the costs are offset a bit).
*Have you checked your senior feed bag prescribed amounts? If your feed is fed as a complete feed, you're gonna be feedin' a whole lot of feed. Thankfully Harv eats some hay, although not as much as  he used to...


  1. A small animal vet once told me, while we were discussing older cats, that a "fat oldster" was not a bad thing. Now "fat" is relative, of course--a "pony" with "fat pads everywhere" and a cresty neck would be cause for alarm. But "chubby" like Harv is a good thing, I'm thinking. He looks "in good flesh and is obviously enjoying "the buffet."

  2. My Toby is being medicated for Cushings. I feed him three times a day with a good serving of Healthy Edge (Purina) and hay. I am keeping the weight on, but it's not as easy as when he was younger. There are many good feeds on the market for senior horses, making the whole process easier. And this year, the grass just keeps growing.

    Harv looks great! Sleek, shiny and tubby. Gotta love this in an older boy.

  3. I agree with your vet. I was once at a barn that had a horse in his 30's that was missing quite a few teeth and within just a few months became very emaciated. He literally looked like a walking skeleton and the barn owner just shrugged it off and said he was "old." Low and behold, the regular barn worker quit and the horse quickly picked up weight, turns out he had not been fed according to the vet's orders.


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