Last Modified on May 22, 2014
Is your horse underweight despite your best efforts to keep your animal healthy and well-fed? A number of natural approaches to your horse's overall health and specifically its gastrointestinal health may correct your equine's weight issues and provide all-around health benefits.
Nervous animals, parasitic infections, digestive issues, and missing dietary nutrients are just the start of a long list of potential root causes for your horse's low-weight condition. Trying a few additions to its diet, or a wholesale change in diet, might turn the animal's health around without more expensive veterinary tests or procedures.
Natural Cures: Among other natural remedies, adding apple cider vinegar to your horse's feed or water may help improve its nutritional intake or help it fight off parasites and/or infections that are keeping it underweight. Earth Clinic users also suggest the use of Karo syrup to quickly increase caloric intake.
[YEA] 01/29/2008: Rachael from Duette, FL: "When a horse is underweight it coud be from many reasons, stress, not proper feeding, poor pasture, worms ect. A really easy way to put weight on a horse is to ad karo syrup to their feed you would be amazed how well it puts weight on them. Put enough in their to lightly cover the feed. Also make sure you feed ALOT of hay because that is what horses pretty much get there protien and weight from make sure it is a good quality hay also not just a filler"
[YEA] 07/29/2008: Marilyn Bordelon from :Lake Elsinore, CA: "Having the horses teeth floated. A must to check your horses teeth for sharp points. There are folks who float teeth (rasp) reasonably if you look into it. Make sure they have a good reputation. Some vets dont always want to do the job. I have someone who is awsome in S. Ca.
If the horses teeth are good he won't even charge you. The weight will change within a week."
[YEA] 05/14/2009: Heidi from Mt. Pleasant, Ia: "In addition to a regular worming schedule and teeth floating, adding vegetable oil to the feed ration a good way to put on weight. Depending on how much feed you are mixing with it you can work your way up to a half a cup per feeding. This is a great way to add the fat but not the starch which makes horses excitable."Replies
[YEA] 03/14/2011: Linda from Conneautville, Pa replies: "I have a horse that we have struggled to keep weight on for years. He is a cribber and a stall weaver which only add to the problem. Last fall we finally came up with a combination that worked! Because of all his nervous energy, we have to keep his sugar intake to a minimum, so he is on a name brand pellet feed (they recently sold their feed in pink bags for breast cancer awareness). He gets one 3# coffee can morning and night. Added to this he gets about 1/3 coffee can of beet pulp pellets (the shredded has sugar in it) soaked in about a gal of water. Always make sure you soak beet pulp thoroughly! This gets top dressed with 1/2 c of ACV, 1/2 c of vegatable oil, and a scoop of a weight builder supplement. I also sprinkle it with diatamacious earth to help keep parasites at bay. Oh, and the first couple months he was on this diet I also fed him a probiotic, but after I ran out I didn't notice him dropping off, so I continued without it.
For the first time since we've owned him (9 years) he is at a healthy weight and has a nice thick coat. I have never made it through a winter without having to blanket him, but he came through this winter wonderfully. He may have lost a little weight over the winter, but I can't stand 10 feet from him and count ribs like I used to be able to!
Forgot to mention all my horses are on round bales of timothy & orchard grass for about 10 hrs a day.
I really attribute most of the weight gain to the ACV. He has always had problems with colic (cribbers usually do) but he has not had one bout of colic since starting on the Apple Cider Vinegar last May. (I also have been diligent about keeping his cribbing collar on, only taking it off once in a while to give his poor neck a break... This may also be a factor in the colic-free spell we've been having) I think he possibly had ulcers although this has not been confirmed by a vet. The Apple Cider Vinegar has alleviated his stomach problems and allowed him to gain weight normally.
I am so relieved that I found something that works for him. I hope this information may help someone else who is at their wits end trying to get weight on a hard keeper!"
04/13/2011: Linda from Conneautville, Pa replies: "I forgot to note on my post from 3/14/2011 to only use FOOD GRADE diatamaceous earth for feeding animals. Not the kind that goes in your swimming pool filter!"
08/18/2011: Shelby from Upland, Ca replies: "I always start with a bag of probiotics and enzymes to assure that the horses stomach is capable of digesting starches (hay). The bacteria do most of the work and if a horse has stress than they can kill off their own bacteria. Once that is on board I add flax oil or fresh ground seed. It is a wonderful fat source full of Omega 3. Vegtable oils are typically Omega 6 and 9. Many animal species are off balance in their Omega ratios because of the large amounts of Omega 6 and 9. A horse living on pasture can obtain normal amounts of Omega 3 from plant and weeds and grass. I also give as much timothy hay as desired in a nibble net with small holes so the horse is eating constantly and slowly like they would in the wild. I think exercise is very important for stimulation of appetite if they arent eating well and it helps the parastallic movement of the gut to move food through the body as it helps with as all species of life. I give a flake of alfalfa in the am and pm. I give carrots and whole oats as needed for an extra energy source in small amounts. Some horses do well on senior feed as an added extra small meal to help take supplements like flax seed, vitamins & minerals, oil etc."