Help Putting on the Last 100lbs (Or So)

I’ve had this filly since the beginning of August 2020 and am getting frustrated trying to put the last bit of weight on her. She just turned 4 and is in light work of being ponied at the walk a few days a week for about 45-70 min (so still growing but not in much work). She is ribby despite my efforts so far. She was also just diagnosed with both Lyme and EPM, which the vet said could contribute to her condition but didn’t seem super convinced that was the culprit. She starts EPM treatment any day now when the meds arrive. She doesn’t finish her meals (especially now that I’ve upped the Coolstance) and is very hot/ spooky/ reactive (which has improved since her arrival and likely ties into the neuro issues). I am ready to go to the feedstore today and pick up something but am not sure what - TC Senior, whole oats, ProForce?

Current Diet:
Free choice alfalfa round bale in a Hay Chix net (to avoid waste).
Lives out 24/7 with my other mare
3lb Coolstance Copra/ day - Currently trying to increase this but she just won’t eat more.
2lbs (dry) beet pulp/ day
KIS Trace
Iodized salt
1.3 Cups of Chia seeds a day
3 cups oil/ day (added about two months ago, doesn’t seem to make a difference)
Emecelle Vitamin E (started 2 weeks ago after neuro diagnosis)
1 oz GutX 100 / day as a preventative as she seems ulcery despite multiple treatments.

She splits a 3qt scoop of alfalfa pellets, 1lb Coolstance, 1 cup oil, and 1.5 qts of beet pulp with my other horse as a lunch.

My other horse is on the same diet (except the Emecelle and in smaller amounts) and is in gorgeous weight. I feel like this diet is better than a commercial bagged feed but clearly it’s not enough for her. I want her to round out and get more coverage over her ribs. If the photos work, they were taken a few days ago.

Adding pictures from when she left previous owners/ arrived here for reference (late July/ early August 2020). She lost some weight on the trip here (about 1200miles).

This sounds like one feedbin for 2 horses. I am sure you wouldn’t be doing that, but if so that doesn’t work. You would be better off separating and making sure she gets everything you want for her.

They get lunch together because that’s what works for my schedule (either no lunch or they can share). Am and pm meals are separated.

Eh, I’m inclined to say stick with what you’re doing for a little longer, at least until you get the EPM meds going. Did you/your vet do anything about the Lyme?

At first glance you’re feeding a pretty thorough diet, and if she’s already not finishing her meals I’m not sure what else you could give her. Anything really tasty probably won’t be good for her. :slightly_smiling_face: At each meal it’s probably just a lot of food all at once and she gets bored of it. If she is sharing lunch with your other mare I would definitely try to split them up. The other mare might be getting most of that meal. If you really need to get more in her, you may need to up to 4 meals/day for a while…

You mention she has a netted roundbale - is it possible that she is not able to take in enough hay because of the net? Could you give her some loose flakes, in addition to the 24x7 round bale access? I understand the waste issue but also wonder if she’s having trouble or being slowed down too much.

She looks very tucked up like she is not getting much forage but I am not sure how that is since she is getting free choice alfalfa hay. My horses would be hippo’s with that diet. Are you sure she is eating the hay? Maybe she has caps or other teeth issues at her age that are interfering with her hay consumption or it is pretty low quality hay. However she was underweight before you got her so I am not blaming you.

Maybe try adding a ration balancer to her diet to make sure she is getting all the amino acids and nutrients she needs. Of course ulcers could explain why she is not gaining weight but whatever is going on was present before you bought her it appears.

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The vet doesn’t want to treat for Lyme yet. We are in the Midwest (she came from PA) and from my understanding of how he explained it her numbers could indicate she was exposed and got over it or an active case but they aren’t very high, just elevated (I believe he said 3000-4000?). He wants to retest in 90 days and then treat if no change or if going up. I put in a call yesterday to see about going ahead and treating anyway as the more I think on it, the less comfortable I am with waiting (but I don’t know if her EPM treatment would preclude anything).

She did have her teeth done in September where she lost some caps and baby teeth, though it is likely time for them to be checked again.

Regarding the hay - I do see her eating it sometimes, but she really seems to lack appetite overall. I didn’t really realize it wasn’t just about grain until your comment, thank you. She doesn’t finish her grain most of the time, she doesn’t eat treats, well she holds them and then spits them out or occasionally eats one or two but isn’t really “into” them and is more content to nap in her stall while I tack the other horse up than eat her hay (not in a net in the stall). For treats she turns down horse cookies, apples, carrots, the Smartpak treats, beete bites/ low sugar snax, and will sometimes eat peppermints and stud muffins but again could care less either way. Note that her appetite has had no change with the ulcer treatments.

I have been thinking for some time about buying Alf square bales (the squares I have on hand are grass) to give her some with her meals.

As to feeding more frequently, I just don’t see it happening. I have a full time job, am working on my masters degree, care for the horses/ dogs/ cat and have other responsibilities both as a human (laundry/ showering/ eating) and as a land owner (mowing/ maintenance/ etc). As it is I am going out to the barn 5 times a day to feed (bring one in, leave one out to feed, wait an hour or so and put the one in out). Separating for lunch adds another trip and doing a 4th meal adds 2 more trips (plus more time cleaning the stall of the horse that would then be in for 4+ hours a day). I do my best but also recognize that just isn’t feasible for me and my schedule.

What does your vet think is causing the “lack of appetite”?

The lack of appetite seems to be the real issue here, but another thing that stood out to me was the combination of Coolstance and high amounts of oil. Copra (Coolstance) is something that horses tend to love or hate, and many horses also aren’t happy about 1 cup of oil per feed.

I’d probably try her with some ricebran pellets, black oil sunflower seeds and flaxseed as a fat source, just to see if she prefers that over the Coolstance/Oil. If that makes a difference to her, you could then test to see whether she has an issue with Copra or Oil or both.


Another thought - are you familiar with the herb slippery elm bark powder? I have used it on many horses and dogs (and myself) and have found it to be excellent for soothing the stomach/digestive system. It basically forms a mucous/protective film and helps to soothe any irritation. It is very palatable for horses, will absolutely do no harm, and might just help.

We tried ricebran and flax (separately) for about 2 months each - the flax had no effect at all and the ricebran made her absolutely crazy. I think she’s quite sensitive to sugars, not sure. Neither had any effect on whether or not she gained weight or her finishing her feed. I don’t want to feed BOSS due to the O3:O6 ratios. As for the oil, there was no change in the (lack of) finishing of her meals from before I added it to now.

I haven’t brought it up to the vet yet. As I said earlier, it just dawned on me yesterday that it isn’t only that she doesn’t finish her grain it’s that she has a general lack of appetite. Whenever he calls back to talk about the Lyme treatment I will bring it up then.

If she doesn’t finish up her grain meals, I’d absolutely try a different menu.

I personally love Triple Crown Senior. It’s absolutely appropriate for young horses as well as oldies.


I hope your vet can sort her out for you. The lack of appetite is certainly making it difficult.

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Another idea… Just a thought… could she be feeling full? The meals you’re giving her aren’t ridiculously huge but maybe it’s enough to leave her somewhat disinterested in her hay and subsequent meals. One of my girls can get like this in the winter when her soaked feed gets upped, and starts to back off her hay. Usually cutting back the soaked stuff a little solves the problem.

If you changed nothing else about the routine, I would at least try to get more loose hay in front of her. And while I’d hate to see her drop weight, it might be worth experimenting with cutting back her meals temporarily to see if you can increase her hay consumption.

Edited to add: I also agree with @Postandrails that some horses flat out do not like Coolstance and/or oil of any kind. She doesn’t have to LOVE her feed but if she finds it yucky then it’s understandable she might not finish it.


She has cleaned it up (in a decent amount of time as well, closer to 30-45 min instead of the 60-90 min I’m currently giving her) in the past but it’s definitely worth trying to mix things up to see if it will help.
I’m worried about cutting back on anything too much. I feel like maybe the issue really is her appetite - not that she won’t ANYTHING but that she won’t/ can’t eat enough to put on the weight she needs due to feeling full? Is that even a thing for horses?
I’m going to see about getting some Alf square bales delivered, hopefully this weekend!

What is the coolstance copra? Is it a feed or just a supplement? I hate to say it but I think she looks thinner now then when her previous owner had her. I don’t know if it is due to EPM / Lyme diagnosis but she seems to have lost a lot of body mass/ muscle through out her whole body.

I wouldn’t even think she was the same horse.

I wouldn’t have a horse like her trying to get the hay she needs through a net. I would revamp her feeding and get her a feed with some significant calories and feed her hay that she can easily get to.

Hopefully her meds will make all the difference.

@candyappy Coolstance Copra is coconut meal - it’s a solid source of protein and fat but is low NSC. It’s a multiple pounds per day feed, but not a complete source of V/Ms.

@kaya842 Feeling full can definitely be a thing for horses, especially if they are getting large-ish meals 3x a day. It may not apply to most horses but could certainly be a factor here. Hopefully you can get some square bales and try to get her eating the loose flakes.

Also where are you located generally? Is it cold at night? She looks to have a coat but if she isn’t already being blanketed when it’s chilly then I’d do that too. If she is being blanketed, you might need to add a layer. She doesn’t need to burn a single extra calorie keeping warm.

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Thank you.

I’m not sure horses do really feel “full” in that their stomach is full - the entrance and exit are close to the same level and they can keep eating with a “full” stomach and it will just pass into the intestines. That’s how the tiny pony can get into the feed room and eat a 50 lb bag of grain.

I have a horse that just loses interest in eating a large portion of grain and will go eat some hay for a while. I make sure he gets his absolute minimum v/m requirements at turn in and then give him a second dinner of a complete feed that he can munch on throughout the night along with his hay. This means he is stalled overnight, even though I’d rather he be outside in the summer.

I don’t think she looks terrible for a young horse that you want lean anyway. However, I think the EPM could cause muscle wasting.


She is being blanketed, and I tend to leave hers on a little longer than my other horse who is a fatty. In the summer she has fly sheet + mask + fly boots and a stall with a fan to help with the flies and heat pulling the weight off.

I was thinking about leaving them both in during the day so she can pick at her food and I can give her access to loose alfalfa. Only thing is she doesn’t love being in and ends up eating even slower :neutral_face:.

We started her EPM meds yesterday but I haven’t heard back from the vet about the Lyme so I’ll be calling again today.

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Can you expand on what you mean by ulcers despite multiple treatments? What has been done for diagnosing and treating? Ulcers or hind gut ulcers?

There have been some on here that had really tricky ulcer situations. You can throw all of the food at her but if she hurts she’s going to pick at her feed and lose weight.

The treatment for Lyme isn’t exactly invasive but untreated lyme is an issue so I’m surprised your vet would want to wait 90 days.