Category Archives: Medical

Oh, He’s skinny because he’s OLD… (not)! What to feed the older horse.

Do you read the Fugly blog?

Well, last week I caught this video from the Fugly and I loved it.  You have got to see this 40 year old horse…!  He was 35 when he was rescued from a kill pen looking “old”.  He was 40 years old in the video and in the second shown below.  Wow.

Sarge in the kill pen 5 years ago at the age of 35. Click to watch the video.

Sarge 5 years later, age 40!


How often do you hear, “Oh, he’s just old…” when referring to a skinny horse with an awful top line?  I know I’ve said it.  I also know that I’ve accepted that reasoning when looking at an elderly horse.  And, in some cases, I think it is true.  Some horses, like people, don’t last as long or look as good later in life.  I’m sure it has to do with lifelong stuff (nutrition, health, job, stress, genetics…) but these kinds of horses and people are not going to become ‘spring chickens’ overnight…  However, good food, good care and exercise will help any horse or human, for sure.

This Roman Riding mare pair is over 30 years old! They are fat and healthy!

Having said that… after watching that video of  40 year old Sarge, the photo/story of the 27 year old mustang called, Brumby,  linked here and also shooting this video of Tad Griffith and his 30 year old Roman Riding horses (30 years old!!);  I don’t believe equine old age has to be expressed in skinny.  I think that some older individuals respond incredibly to great care, great food and reasonable exercise.  I believe this totally  —  which is why it is a tsktsk kind of thing that I’m going to report next…

Brumby, the 27 year old Mustang stallion.


I’m also writing about equine ‘skinny top line old age syndrome’ because it caught me off guard recently.  Tsk Tsk.  I mean, I think of myself as astute and on top of the condition of my animals… but I realized that I almost didn’t detect the first signs of AGE in my Shetland ponies.  Ugh. 

It is hard for me to even admit it but my two Shetlands (Slick and Dodger) are approximately 19 and 20.  My retired Morgan mare is 20, almost 21.

For some reason, I’ve accepted that my Morgan mare is older.  Maybe because she acts like a saged and wiser old mare?… Maybe because she is arthritic and I’m reminded of her age when she moves about?  But, truly, she looks great so I don’t really consider her ‘older’.  Yet, I’m watching her closely for signs to appear.

On the other hand, my Shetlands seem so spunky and spritely and silly and devilish, I just didn’t see it coming on..  Sure, I see them every day and I also let them out to graze the green grass around the house which puts them right under my nose… but I was watching their nature instead of their physicality.  You see, Tess, my older Morgan mare seems older.  The ponies seem exactly the same as they have always been.

This photo was taken September 10th and I still don't notice any wither or topline issue...


All of a sudden, the skinny top line came to my attention.  It had rained for the first time this season; Slick was wet and he looked different.  Huh? I grabbed his wither and in an instant I felt it.  I ran my hand down his spine and got a lump in my throat.  Wow.  This really bothered me.  First of all, it seemed sudden because I had been grooming them all Spring and Summer to get rid of their voluminous hair during this hot season.  I didn’t notice it then.  And, I took the above photo in September and I didn’t feel it or see it then.  But, a few months later and I can feel the wither.  Ugh.  What happened?  I was a bit frantic.  Am I feeding too little?  No, they look plump.  Did I forget to worm them?  Nope.  Are their teeth bad?  Nope.  Are they sick?  Nope.  Hmmmmm.

Dodger's wither was protruding, too!

And then I realized the truth.  In an instant it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My little feisty ponies were turning the corner and starting to get older.  I realized that good hay, green grass and supplements were not enough anymore.  I realized that they needed some senior help.

It happened so fast… Or did I miss it?  How could I have missed it?

He sure doesn't look like he has a skinny top line or wither... (Slick)

Denial, probably…  For example, before Nadia passed, I took her to the vet and he called her, “An old gal”.  I was shocked.  Old?  Nadia?  She isn’t old!  But, she was…  I just didn’t see it…

So, I think I just overlooked the signs that my ponies were getting older.  Or it happened suddenly, dunno.  In any event, probably My Bad.

... but he does... My bad that I didn't notice under all that hair.


After watching Sarge’s video and knowing about the Mustang Brumby and Tad’s Roman Riding duo, I want to keep all of my older horses in tippy-top shape, if possible.  And, so far, I have a Tried and True formula (as long as they aren’t sick and still have teeth…).

For me, soaked pelleted beet pulp (not shredded) with Equion, plus 3 grain hay as well as grass hay, seems to do the trick.  If I need to, and my horse can tolerate it, I will add soaked alfalfa pellets. I may also mix in a high quality, non-sugared (non wet or cob) pelleted senior feed.  This works and I’m pleased with the results!

However, I’ve decided to experiment with the ponies, since there are two of them.

I ran my hand down his topline and cringed...


Now that the ponies are filling out and getting better, I’m going to add one supplement to Slick’s feed and not to Dodger’s feed.  I want to see if it makes a difference.

The supplement is one a reader sent to me.  It is called, SeaBuck and you can read about it here.  The reader is so sold on it, and the fact that she sent it to me, makes me really want to give it a go.  So, I’m going to try it on Slick.  Here is a quote from the website:

I’ll let you know how it goes…

"Who you callin' OLD?!" - Dodger seeming indignant.


I know that many have had success with THRIVE.  I also know that many readers swear by a bran mash, alfalfa pellet and senior feed mush.  Please write in what your successful formula is for keeping your older horse fit and sassy!

So, keep looking for the signs even if they appear YOUNG!

I think we all want our horses to live to the ripe old age of 40 and look/act like Sarge!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
The November Bucket Fund will benefit The Wild Horses and Burros, via DreamCatcher Sanctuary.  We are helping them acquire an additional 20,000 acres to release more captured Mustangs/Burros back into the wild.  To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible opportunity for our Mustangs,  please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)


HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

LAMINITIS Shoes and Clogs… Glue and screws vs nails.


Oy.  If you have ever dealt with this, you know what I mean. It is difficult to catch on time and if you don’t, it can be very difficult to heal and treat.  The horse is sore so he doesn’t want to pick up his foot.  The unsore feet become sore because of excess use.  To top that, Laminitis can become chronic.  Oy again.  And, sadly, Laminitis can be fatal if it turns into fully rotated Founder.  So, the term Laminitis should not be taken lightly.  It sends shivers through the barn…

Click for rotation animation

Now, I’m not going to go into Laminitis except to say that it is not Founder (here is a link).  Founder is when there is bone rotation or sinking.  Laminitis is the inflammation of the laminae.  You can have Laminitis without Founder.  But, you cannot have Founder without Laminitis.  Laminitis is a precursor to founder.

Here is are two little movies that show how rotation and sinking differ.  Click on the photos and they will animate.

Click for sinking animation

Anyway, those of you who have fought chronic Laminitis know how difficult and painful this is for your horse.  In order to get better, he has to feel relief.  But, how do you get him the relief without creating pressure?

The long often used fix is to tape a styrofoam or stiff foam pad on the hoof, bed the stall deeply, cut out all protein rich foods and wait.  Many times, if the Laminitis was caught really early, this worked.

But if you don’t catch it in time, there are some new shoeing products that are out there which have been getting rave reviews!

Have you heard of the EDSS system?


EDSS stands for Equine Digital Support System.   If you look on the website, there seem to be a lot of pieces and it may appear complicated.  But, it isn’t complicated if you are a competent farrier.  Even a layman can understand the basics.  Here are the Cliff Notes.

1)  Have a great farrier work on your horse using these products.

2)  The idea is to avoid nails (concussion) by using screws or glue, if possible

3)  The pad/lifts and support systems are added to the bottom of the shoe so you don’t have to take the shoe off to change the pads or the angles!

Let me say that again so it has the full effect… THE PAD/LIFTS AND SUPPORT SYSTEMS ARE ADDED TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SHOE SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE THE SHOE OFF TO CHANGE THE PADS!  Wowee!  This is the best thing since sliced bread!  That right there is the most awesome idea for sore hooves ever!  If you can apply a shoe ONCE and then change the supports at any time without more invasion, the horse is so much better off.  Yay Howdy!

I am a fan of this system because I know that my mare turned the corner when we used a hospital plate on her.  And this is far better than a hospital plate.  You see, the notion of not having to hammer on a sore foot to make a change is WONDERFUL.  And, you can make subtle changes much easier since you do not need to pull the shoe.  You just apply what you need to the outside.  So, less trauma, more healing.

The shoe can be glued on, screwed on or nailed on — whatever will work best for your horse.  And, if you don’t have any foot to nail, they have just created a plate that works for that, too!

Cuff shoe for when there is no wall

I’m so thrilled that these farriers and doctors who created EDSS have joined together to invent these systems that ease hoof pain.


I had never heard of these.  Then, my friend told me how her horse, Angel (the same one who had the HBOT experience), due to an acute illness has been fighting chronic laminits for years and the STEWARD CLOG has been the answer.  Bar none, the Steward Clog has saved her horse.  You can watch Angel’s story here.  As you can see, her laminitis was bad.  Very bad.  Angel now wears the Clogs and is happily pastured with her buddies.  Unbelievable if you’ve ever gone through chronic laminitis…

The Clog has actually brought the rotation back to 0 degrees.

First though, you need a wonderful farrier to apply these (here is an instruction guide link).  They are rubber and are glued to the hoof.  Then, the series of wedges and supports are applied to the bottom of the clog depending upon the needs of the horse.  Again, no need to pull the clogs to change any angles.  This is a great benefit because the shoeing process alone can aggravate the situation.

And, the Clogs come in most sizes (pony to draft) or can be specially made if your horse is bigger or smaller.

My friend swears by these Clogs.  In fact, she sent photos of her horse, Angel, and the shoeing process.  I’ve attached one below of Angel in her Clogs.

Angel's feet after a Steward Clog application

As another testament to these Clogs, I know that a horse with chronic laminitis or founder will run to the back of the stall when they see the vet/farrier coming.  But, not with this Clog.  Nancy says that her horse is not sore or lame after the application at all.  Angel trots and bucks right after getting her new Clogs!  Imagine that. Her horse is NOT LAME OR SORE after the application and can be turned out immediately.  Wow.  (sorry for shouting…)

Angel, a horse with chronic laminitis who, according to Nancy, has all of her personality back — front and center!  She is doing great!

Angel (rear), with chronic laminitis, is living pain free with the Steward Clog!


These are for sore hooves of any sort… they even work for High Ring Bone, White Line Disease (when a resection is done), and Collateral Ligament Injuries, plus any other lameness that requires stable support and multi-direction breakover.

So, all you folks with sore hooves, please check into these shoeing systems.  Here is the link again.  Scroll down to see the Clogs.  And, if you know of a friend who has these issues with a horse, please pass it along.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
July’s Bucket Fund will benefit the charity THE GOLDEN CARROT SANCTUARY.  To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate $5,  please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!