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As I write this, I’m Listening to (no affiliation, just sharing):
This winter I’ve noticed that my elder pony, Dodger (28?), and my 19 year-old Morgan, Gwen, were showing their toplines for the first time. I hate when that happens. A sign of their times…
But, I know it isn’t the end all to be all… there is a fix.
You see, I’ve been through this before so I knew what to do. I thought I’d tell you, too, in case it comes in handy.
THE THINGS TO RULE OUT
Of course, your horse could be sick. So take his temp, and look for the usual signs of illness. If you haven’t had the vet out to give him an elder exam, do that. It will put your mind at ease and give you a game plan, if there are issues.
1) Check for Cushings (Very common in older horses who have been fed grains most of their lives… also common is certain breeds. Not always obvious. Worth doing the test.)
2) Check his teeth for sharp points that might be keeping him from eating properly. Perhaps his teeth are now so ground down, he needs soft foods or wet pellets.
3) Watch and see if his pasture partner has taken the upperhand and your horse can no longer compete for the food. This happens, even among the best of friends.
4) Do a geriatric blood panel.
5) Make sure they are parasite free…
IF HE IS OTHERWISE HEALTHY – HERE ARE SOME SIMPLE SOLUTIONS
I learned this last year with Slick, my other Shetland. His topline was showing and I did all the above… only to find that his main issue was SAND.
So, here are things you can do for your healthy horse to bring back his topline.
1) SAND IN THE GUT… it happens over time. You don’t have to live in sand (and can be lethal if not caught in time). With sand in the gut, the nutrients don’t absorb so they lose weight, hence the visible topline. I was so surprised to find out that our sandless environment still created dirt in my little pony’s little gut.
The symptoms of sand in the gut are a distended belly, a visible topline and the equine will have loose bowels. At this point, you are in danger… so best to treat with psyllium proactively – before there is an issue.
The fix it easy if you catch it on time. From my experience, I prefer the powdered psylllium. I use Su-per Psylliym Powder. All you do is top dress their feed (wet, soaked beet pulp is the BEST for helping to remove sand) for a week or two – depending upon the amount of sand – and then keep it up once a month, if you think that is needed. For us out here, with no sand and our horses eat on mats, I treat with psyllium every season. 4 times a year.
Many people use Sand Clear and other pelleted versions, but I prefer the powdered psyllium.
2) GIVE THEM MORE FOOD… as horses get older, like people, they don’t absorb their food as well. They might not be able to chew and ingest their hay like before, either.
So, I pump up the volume by giving soaked beet pulp. Some people like to rinse the pellets and then soak them to remove all vestiges of sugars. For me, I simply soak them for a few hours or overnight in a cold tack room or in a refrigerator. It is really easy and such a great food, full of fiber and nutrients that really help plump up the elders – and beet pulp doesn’t upset my Cushings and IR horses.
Also, I have been using a Low Carb, senior feed. I don’t know if you can get that where you live, but it is a ground feed (easy to chew) that doesn’t have sugars or unnecessary carb bulk.
3) Add CHIA SEED. Boy, I’ll tell ya, I’ve never seen such a quick improvement in a healthy horse that needed topline fixing – than the Chia Seed. It took about 2 weeks and Poof! Topline ridge – gone! I love the stuff. I use it daily for all of mine.
I get it from Chia Seed Direct (no affiliation). But you can see what might be cheaper in your area.
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