Get Some Junk In the Trunk

Get Some Junk In the Trunk

Simon and I are doing My Fitness Pal.  I’m counting calories to reduce my mass, and he needs to gain some… at least I think so.

Let me present you with some photos taken this week on the exact same day.



One of these photos makes me think my horse needs to gain some weight, because of the obvious ribs.  The other photo is passable to me, but since I know how close they were taken it’s not like he miraculously gained pounds in the few hours in between.  I should note that he was super drugged from the dentist in the photo taken in his stall.

This is what he looked like in December.


He did drop some weight over the winter like he tends to, but recently has puffed back up a bit.

So my post for feedback today has two parts.

Part A) Would you like to see more weight on him if he were your horse?

I ride in a barn of big, smushy Warmbloods for the hunter/jumper ring.  Actually, most of our horses are plump because we have so much hay and decent grass.  Being around this, I want Simon to gain more still… yet I know some others like their horses slimmer.

Part B) How the @#$@#$ do I put weight on this animal?

He gets a good amount of grain twice a day, several large flakes of hay in his stall (which he eats, but doesn’t scarf down by any means) and free choice round bale + grass when he’s turned out for well over 12 hours.  The horse obviously get opportunities to eat!

I’m pondering a weight gain supplement at this point, but am iffy.  Wish I could give him my extra pounds!

44 thoughts on “Get Some Junk In the Trunk

  1. I don’t think he looks skinny, but I am a in a barn full of TBs (eventers). My trainer uses Cool Calories for the ones who need to put on weight without the extra energy and it’s a miracle worker. Just add a scoop of two to their feed.

    1. I’ve been wondering about this supplement for a while. Do you know if it’s a temporary thing until they gain an ideal weight or something you just give them continuously and they maintain a good weight?

  2. A. It’s always hard to tell in photos! But based solely on those two, I wouldn’t be devastated if he stayed at his current weight (ribs appear mostly hinted at, not so much seen). But.. the part where he’s always been a little heavier than current and just didn’t put the weight back on this time probably would encourage me to try to get it back on, if that makes sense?

    B. Can you give him free-choice hay in his stall or add a flake to the number he’s currently getting?

    1. Well what he’s at now is as heavy as he’s ever been. He did drop some weight over the winter, but he’s pretty much back to normal now.

      As for more hay in his stall, I don’t think he’d eat anymore. He gets a solid amount at the moment and doesn’t exactly vacuum it away.

      1. He gets…

        Good ‘N Sound: This low starch pelleted feed is perfect for the horse that needs a low starch diet. Starches are reduced dramatically, fiber increased and vegetable fat added to increase the caloric content. The perfect feed for “hard keepers”. A 14% low starch pellet.

      2. I’m going to respond by voting “no” on rice bran pellets. My experience with rice bran + TBs is that it makes them hiiiiiiiighhh (and not just with my nutball, but with pretty much all the TBs that have come through our barn) and not like when your horse has been to the dentist, high. I would start with something like cool calories (expensive) or a high-calorie, low-ish glycemic grain (rolled barley). I top dress with vegetable oil because I make my bucket every day. (And I totally feel your pain on hay avoiders… sometimes there’s nothing to be done about it.)

        Does he really need low starch?

  3. I think Simon looks pretty darn good. I personally like my horses on the plump side rather than the lean side. Not likeUnfortunately, our OTTBS tend to be on the leaner side (exception: Chloe. She is a chow hound. Too bad she can’t gain weight in her pencil neck!) It sounds like all the right things are in place! If you are considering adding something to help boost weight gain, I have had good results with rice bran and beet pulp in the OTTBS I have owned in the past.

  4. I agree with everyone. I think he looks pretty good based on the pics. I always kept my TB a little plumper then normal but in winter he would lose it too. I think winter is just hard for every horse to keep weight on. Especially if they are being worked. I bet without changing anything he’ll gain a little weight just because the grass will be growing good again and he’ll have plenty of it to eat. (assuming there is plenty where he is turned out).

  5. i’d say he looks pretty good, but can also understand why you’d want a little more. but then again my eye is crap and my opinion of my mare’s weight changes far too often… and sometimes in the same day haha

  6. A) I like how he looks in December. The photos are a bit deceiving, but if he doesn’t look like he did in December (in person) anymore, I’d say he needs to gain a little – not a ton. B) I own a very hard keeper so I’ve learned a thing or two about weight gain. Things I like for putting weight on him: soaked beet pulp, rice bran pellets, and SmartGain. That combo does the trick for Tucker, but I think you could safely add any one of them for some more calories for Simon. If you want more info I’d be glad to talk your ear off – I mean help.

  7. I don’t think he looks skinny by any means, but I know the struggle. I obsess over Estella’s weight every minute lol. I wouldn’t worry about making any changes now and see how he rebounds with summer grass, then go from there….

  8. He looks like a solid 5 body condition score to me; I think that the lighting in that first photo would make the ribs show on most fit horses. He looks well-padded everywhere he is supposed to be (shoulders, back, croup, hips). TBs are hard because they have a tendency to be so lean. I’m thrilled when Lily looks like Simon does in that first picture, but that’s also because we do a high-mileage sport and it can be so difficult to both keep and put on weight on her. Given your sport and the appearance of the other horses in your barn, I completely understand why you would like to see more weight on him.

    I started out with low starch feeds (Triple Crown Low Starch pellet; 11% NSC and 6% fat) because Lily used to get so excitable with grain, but with the amount of exercise she gets now, I am able to feed her higher starch feeds. I still like to give beet pulp-based grains that are high in fat (at least 10%) because she can also be ulcer-prone. (My favorite for a long time was Triple Crown Senior, at 9% NSC and 10% fat.) Currently she is on no fat supplements because she has decided she hates rice bran in any shape or form so she is currently on a locally milled fixed-formula grain that is 12% fat (Premium Excel). I used to successfully use 4 oz of rice bran oil (I like McCaughley’s) top-dressed on her feed twice a day and it did *not* make her excitable – she was on pretty limited turnout at the time, and it still didn’t affect her behavior. You can also try rice bran pellets, but I had better luck with the oil. Cocosoya Oil is another great oil option that is not ridiculously expensive (rice bran oil can be pricey.)

    I also love soaked beet pulp for weight gain (as long as the horse will eat it!) It is super safe to feed and is so good for them: it can be fed before exercise and will actually keep water in their gut longer, helping them stay hydrated. It can also be good for keeping ulcers at bay (I know Simon doesn’t have that problem). Alfalfa cubes or pellets fed soaked can also be good for weight gain, as long as he doesn’t get hyped up on alfalfa (some horses really do).

    I haven’t had much luck with other supplements, but Cool Calories 100 is one that I see used a lot. It’s basically powdered fat; it smells amazing and some horses do really well on it. My goober refuses to touch it. -_-

  9. I think he looks good as is. But if you really want some weight add fat. Stabilized rice bran pellets are cheap and easy to add and horses LOVE them so they get eaten. You could also add oil to his grain. Straight fats are better than more grains.

  10. I prefer mine a little plumper than that, but he is not skinny at all. Have you thought about sunflower seeds? I used to feed that to all mine and they were so gorgeous cause of i . They are super expensive around here so I had to quit buying them :/

  11. If you want to put some weight on him I strongly recommend beat pulp. It’s inexpensive and made my tb nice and plump. I would say he gained at least 100lbs in two months, and now looks somewhat like Simon (he was very skinny!).

  12. I always like them a bit chunkier than most, so I would probably put a bit more on him. I typically use beet pulp and rice bran to put weight on horses. Baby horse is a bit skinny so he’s getting rice bran. Once as he’s mine and I have more control over his diet, I’ll start him on the beet pulp.

  13. Moe does this- looks like he’s starving to death in one photo, then looks pretty normal in another. He’s a bona fide hard keeper, but he’s been slooooowly gaining weight on:

    1/2 lb alfalfa pellets 2x/day
    1 lb soaked beet pulp 2x/day
    1/2 lb SafeChoice feed 2x/day
    2 oz Cool Calories 1x/day
    1 oz U-Gard 1x/day
    5 lbs alfalfa hay 1x/day
    Free choice prairie grass hay

    He does much, much better when he’s turned out on good grass. I feel like all I do through the winter is stuff him with food!

    I don’t think Simon looks hideous; I think he looks fit and trim!

  14. I think he looks fine, but I am always worried when I see ribs too even if that is just their build. I know someone said no to rice bran, but I would suggest it. Many horses in my barn get rice bran to keep weight on and my horse does as well. We have noticed 0 difference in temperament. It is pretty cheap and worth a try.

  15. Pshh, I WISH Bacon could look like that. I think he looks great! There was a study done on dogs over a 10 year (at least) period that compared slightly leaner dogs to slightly overweight dogs. The slightly leaner dogs lived an average of 2 years longer and had less health problems (think ACL tears and diabetes, etc). Of course, this is dogs and not horses, but I figure the same might hold true. Either way, you know what you are more comfortable with.

  16. I think he looks great. Some horses will never bulk up; it is just their build and metabolism.

    With that being said, my hardkeeper did well on Ultium, because it is a very high fat feed. I never saw any results with weight gain supplements or beet pulp. I had some success with alfalfa, but if was not an accessible hay source at my barn. Harley is doing really well on no grain right now. He only eats hay pellets and hay with a protein/vitamin/mineral balancer. His work load is a lot less, but I honestly think he digested the grain so quickly that he didn’t get enough calories from it. Maybe more grain isn’t the answer.

  17. Intellectually I know that leaner is healthier, but emotionally I prefer them a tad plump. I’m a believer in beet pulp + rice bran, I’m not into grain. I’ve used veg oil as well. Good luck!

  18. I think he looks great! I wouldn’t use a photo where he’s tucked up from the dentist visit as your baseline. Also, you don’t want him *too* heavy because extra weight is extra stress on his hocks.

  19. Good luck with MyFitnessPal! I used it after I had my second baby over a year ago. It takes willpower to be strict but I thought it was really easy and helpful to use. I also got a food scale to make everything exact. I’m a type A engineer so I like hard numbers 😉 I lost almost 40 pounds thanks to MFP. You can do it!

  20. I feel your pain, Lauren, as Knight has those skinny ribs showing too. I did have someone tell me earlier this week. “He looks fat! For him.” Knight’s on rice brain and beet pulp and he is not hot whatsoever. For the record.

  21. I don’t think he looks too thin but I like my horses with some beef. Any horse of mine that is in training and especially showing gets tract guard. Whenever they start on it I always end up cutting back feed bc they get chubbier. It’s almost like they start metabolizing their feed better. It’s inexpensive and worth a try. It also reduces risk of getting ulcers

  22. I agree with more hay. But I also agree that he looks great! He looks athletic and being more on the lean side is always better for his joints especially with jumping. Fat pony is like me trying to be gymnast ahaha.

  23. I think he looks fine! When I’ve had a horse that needed weight quick, there are a few things that have worked well for me: corn oil (everyone can chill out about how I’m poisoning my horses, please), rice bran pellets, beet pulp (I prefer the pelleted version here as well). Red looks fantastic now and it’s been toying around with those three things that have gotten him from a 2 to a 6 on the Henneke scale.

  24. He does look like he’s skinnier than his earlier pic. Max lost quite a bit of weight over winter too. Hopefully the warmer weather, and green grass will help them plump up a bit!

  25. I think his weight looks fine for a fit TB (but I prefer a lean horse, I do jumpers and polo, so we definitely don’t like extra weight on their joints) that being said, I like alfalfa cubes and either Ultium or Sentinel LS for weight gain

  26. I don’t think Simon looks bad AT ALL, but the Good-n-Sound feed he’s on is not the best quality from what I can tell. It’s only 7% fat, which isn’t going to put weight on when fed in reasonable quantities. To compare, my high maintenance TB eats 9 lbs per day of a 14% fat feed.

    Also if you look at the ingredients on the Good-n-Sound feed tag, you’ll find that they’re listed as a vague grouping of byproducts rather than actual ingredients. Typically feed companies go that route to disguise when their products contain a lot of nutritionally void filler like peanut hulls.

    If anything, judging by these photos, I would say that Simon could stand to gain some muscle, which a better feed (I like Triple Crown the best of the nationwide brands) and frequent long hacks would help with.

  27. My vet was out to the barn last summer and saw my hard-keeper TB out in the paddock…she mentioned he “looked good” (he came to the barn as a rescue with a body score of 2 and was between a 4.5-5 at the time), but she wanted to him to gain a little more weight and recommended stabilized rice bran (1 cup every feeding). I didn’t notice him getting hot on it (although truth be told, he’s always a tiny bit nutty!) and he’s plumped up nicely over the fall/winter. Vet came back out for spring shots last month and was very pleased with his condition – he’s not fat, but now he looks more like a hunter than a rescue! She wants us to keep him on the rice bran for a while, especially since he’s starting more demanding work over fences. Bonus: his coat is insanely shiny! Other boarders at the barn keep asking me what spray/shampoo I’m using

  28. I like them a little fuller and no ribs too.

    I don’t read all the comments, but I would up his fat. When I first got Henry, I gave him a sr feed to help bulk him up.

    Also, they hay that he gets, is it Alf? Grass? Oat? Maybe up his Alf? Tbs don’t hold weight on grass from my experience 🙂

  29. I’m in the “looks fine” camp. There’s a pretty wide range of normal on the BCS sheet. Dressage people and Welsh Cob breeders show their horses on the upper end of normal/bordering obese. Sport horse people like them leaner. I think Simon looks absolutely perfect.

  30. Tri Amino worked wonders for my TB – one of my fav supplement around 🙂

    This is also coming from someone who worked for *the* equine supplement company and got to try almost everything!

  31. He looks good to me, but I’m not one to like my horses super roly poly anyway.

    My TB was starting to look thin in the fall. Plus, he’s a picky eater and just randomly decides not to eat his hay. I tried a bunch of stuff…Cool Calories didnt work, rice bran didnt work (didn’t make him hot like others have related), upping his alfalfa didnt work. We suspected ulcers and so I did a few treatments for that (Omega Alpha Gastra-FX, Omega Alpha Biotic 8, and Abler Abprazole). But before that, I also started him on Strongid C2x…yeah, the daily wormer. Apparently its also known to help weight gain in older horses and hard keepers. My trainer and others she’s known have used Strongid and it seems to help them fill out. And, its pretty darn inexpensive, as far as a supplement is concerned. Anyway, between the Strongid and the treatments for ulcers, he’s looking like quite the handsome pony. Worth a try!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.