Can Tiny Become An Easy Keeper'

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I have a 15-year-old Thoroughbred. Tiny is 17.1 hands and weighs about 1,250 pounds. We bought Tiny a year and a half ago. He was thin and since has put on weight, but he gets a lot of fat.

According to your October 2001 article on feeding starved horses, this may not be the best solution. He eats six to seven pounds of Purina Senior, 12 cups of Satin Finish rice bran, four cups of corn oil and a multi-vitamin supplement. We split this into three meals. He has free-choice grass hay all day. He was on a daily wormer last year, but we switched to a paste wormer. His teeth have been floated and checked.

Should I give Tiny Ration Plus, and could it help Tiny become an easier keeper' If he gets too much grain, he gets “hot” and doesn’t get along with the other horses.

-Denise Todd
Colorado

“You are what you eat” certainly applies to Tiny. If he’s putting on a lot of fat, you’re overfeeding him and have no reason to consider him a hard keeper.

For starters, we would stop the rice bran and corn oil. He’s probably getting about two-thirds the amount of calories he needs to maintain a 1,250-lb. weight just from those two things alone. With his current diet, odds are he’s eating little hay, which isn’t good for his digestive tract health and deprives him of a good many minerals. The high fat content of this diet can also interfere with proper mineral absorption.

Keep your amount of Purina Senior the same, continue the supplement for minerals and vitamins, plus make sure he gets lots of high-quality grass hay. Ration Plus will help him use these feeds most efficiently and eliminate the need for all that fat. If after making these changes you find he does not hold enough weight, then consider adding small amounts of rice bran or oil to boost calories. Think in terms of ?? cup of rice bran or 1 to 2 oz. of oil at a time though, allowing two weeks between any changes to see the effect.