The Shetlands are Fat Again! Yay!

Sunday, January 9th, 2011 | Filed under Handy Tips

A while back I wrote about how older horses don’t have to look old and skinny – just because they are old.

Now, it is true that health and genetics play a part here.  Not all older horses are able to look the picture of a robust older horse – just like us humans.  But, if an older horse is in good health, he should be able to look it, with a little nutritional help.

This is Tad Griffith, Roman riding on his 30 year-old mares who are in excellent shape!


I wrote the initial post on November 11 of 2010 (linked here) because I had noticed, suddenly it seemed, that my 18 and 19 year-old Shetland ponies had dropped considerable weight at the start of this winter – which I initially missed.  My bad.

In fact, I had a photo of them from two months before and they looked perfect.  But when the Shetlands grew their fuzzy coats, I didn’t notice that they had burned away all of their excess fat and needed more help from me.

This photo was taken 9/10/10. They look good.


I’ve had my Shetlands for 17 years.  Never have I ever had to feed them more than their regular healthy grass hay, occasional non-sweet pellets and seasonal supplements.  They thrived every year, all year round.

But, this year, they both hit some biological clock that made them less able to absorb nutrients and less able to regulate their body temperatures.

They acted the same.  They appeared the same.  Yet, inside, they weren’t the same.


I never thought I would ever say that my Shetlands needed  more weight.  It is almost ridiculous to think of it because for all these years they have been Chia pets.  Seriously.  Add some water and they plump up fast!  Part of their charm was their portliness.  They have always looked like little butterballs.

But, not anymore and it was a bit scary to see.

This photo was taken of Dodger, 11/10/10, when I discovered his weight loss under all of this hair. My fingers are easily holding onto his skinny wither. Yikes!

I immediately ran my hand down Slick's topline and felt the truth... weight loss - both of them. My fingers could feel his spine on both sides. Ugh.


After many years of vet calls, I knew to take their vitals to make sure that they weren’t sick.  They weren’t.  In fact, they both tried to eat the stethoscope and bucked a little when I took their temps.

Anyway, I also knew, from several equine nutritionists, I needed to give them foods for insulin resistant horses (no sugars).  So, my plan was to feed them soaked beet pulp pellets (not shreds), senior feed pellets without molasses, my ‘tried and true’ digestion supplement Equion and some soaked flax seed — once a day.  I’d feed it twice a day, if they needed it.

My mixture: soaked beet pulp pellets, senior pellets, Equion and soaked flax seed.

THE EXPERIMENT – sent to me by a reader…

I thought it would be a good experiment to feed them both the mixture I described above, but I also wanted to try an equine “superfood” supplement called, Seabuck (you can read about it here) that had been sent to me.

So,  I thought I would give Slick the mixture with the SeaBuck and Dodger the mixture without.  If Slick gained weight faster, I would have a conclusive result. *Please know that I don’t consider this a national test or anything… just my personal results.

The first day, I gave my potions to them but Slick would not eat the SeaBuck.  So, I gave it to Dodger and switched up my plan.  Dodger had no problem with it…

SeaBuck - a reader sent it to me to try...


After two weeks, Dodger had a marked difference in his topline.  He was looking much better!  Slick was more filled out but not as much as Dodger.  I concluded, because the difference was quite apparent  under all of that hair, the SeaBuck must have helped.  In fact, I was so excited, I decided to skip the experiment and give it to them both.  Which I did.

(Slick got over his fussiness since both of the bowls smelled the same.  He wouldn’t NOT eat it —  on principle.  If Dodger got some, Slick had to have it, too, whether he liked it or not…)

Dodger after 2 weeks with the SeaBuck. He is filling in much more quickly than Slick


After two months, they both are back to where they should be.  I’ve provided photos.  You can hardly see any spine on Slick at all!  He looks great!  Dodger looks as good as he has ever looked for a very poorly conformed Shetland.  And, both of them are happier.

I know they are happier because during that month when they were losing weight, Dodger had let Slick become the Boss.  (I was very upset because Slick is a real pill and it just made him worse…).  But, after the initial two weeks, Dodger took back his Marshall badge – thank goodness!

Slick after 2 months. Much better! All filled in!


My conclusion is that I have to pay better attention to my horses as they age.  And, I have to feed my older horses in a different way to make sure to help their bodies absorb the needed nutrients.

And, for me, the SeaBuck did work.  I think my plan without the SeaBuck would have also worked, but it would have taken longer.

HOWEVER, I am almost out of the SeaBuck.  If, when I run out, the Shetlands start to deteriorate, I will know that the SeaBuck did more than help them absorb their nutrients faster!

Dodger posing for the camera... plump and healthy!


I’m telling you about this free webinar again because it fits with my post today.  On Monday, January 10th at 7:30pm CST, Gabrielle Sutton will host a free webinar, “How to restore and re-condition Equine Digestive and Gut Health”.  I’ve signed up to attend already,

And, I plan on asking her about SeaBuck, if I have the chance.  (You can ask a question via the web and if she picks your question, everyone hears the answer.)

I attended her last free webinar and thought it was informational in new ways.  She doesn’t cover all the stuff we already know.  Gabrielle goes into detail on specific ingredients and tells you why they work or don’t work.  She also talks about supplement combining and other factors that we don’t usually consider.

If you are interested in knowing more about what you feed your horses, you should sign up and listen to the seminar!  (There are no kickbacks or anything… I just am recommending it.)  Click here to register.

CLICK HERE to register for the free Webinar!

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Orphan Foals with Auction stickers on their hineys

To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate the the ‘Saved from Slaughter Orphan Foals’, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

Please help the babies!

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

4 comments have been posted...

  1. Pingback: Formula Blog

  2. Dusty

    Don’t stress out too much about the flax if you are feeding SeaBuck Complete. The main ingredient in Seabuck Complete is sea buckthorn. The seed and fruit oils of the fruit which are abundant in the product contain naturally occurring Omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 in the ratios needed for absorption.

  3. dawndi Post author

    Just to add, my equine nutritionist said:

    “YES and NO…..your reader understands that in order to get the benefit from flax one must get to the inside of the seed where the essential fatty acid is found. HOWEVER, grinding the flax will destroy and oxidize the seed and the good EFA is lost.

    Best to soak whole flax seed or to buy stabilized ground flax!”

  4. Hope Becklund

    Congratulations on getting your little plumpkins back up to plump! I just wanted to share with you that my equine nutritionist says the flax seeds should be ground up, otherwise the good omega 3’s aren’t available to be absorbed. It looks like they are whole in your photo.
    Take care, and thanks for sharing your experience!

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