Your older horse lost weight over the winter. Your competitive horse had a hard, long season…and looks it. Or, a severe illness dropped more than 100 pounds off of your pleasure horse.
It’s not just the amount of calories, but the right calories, and feeding your horse wisely, that will promote weight gain and condition. New window. 
You want to put that weight back on, and restore the bloom to your horse. It should be pretty easy right? Just increase the calories, and your horse will return to his former fit and healthy self. However, it’s not just the amount of calories, but the right calories, and feeding them wisely, that will promote weight gain and condition.
The best way to start is by increasing the most important component of your horse’s diet: his ration of good quality forage. Make sure you get the best hay you can to provide the best nutrition, and provide free choice hay so he can eat as much as he wants.
Keep in mind that different hays provide different caloric content. Timothy provides about 804 calories per pound, while orchard grass has about 872 and alfalfa delivers a caloric punch of 977 calories per pound, so there is a significant range of calories between types of hay. Switching (gradually) to a good quality alfalfa will go a long way towards helping your horse regain weight.
Increasing grain (concentrates) must also be done slowly and carefully in order for the digestive tract to adapt. Concentrates must be specifically chosen according to the type and amount of work the horse is getting. A high performance horse and a pleasure horse obviously require very different grains and amounts.
A safe rule of thumb when putting weight on a horse is to feed no more than five or six pounds of grain per meal to a thousand pound horse. If your horse requires additional grain, it needs to be fed in additional meals, or the grain may be switched to a higher calorie feed.
The difference in caloric content can be marked. For example, Purina’s Ultium® Competition provides 50% more calories per pound than feeding straight oats.
Of course, it’s not just the weight gain you want to achieve. Along with that you want the bloom and good muscular structure of a healthy athlete. That takes quality protein, vitamins and minerals and the correct fatty acid profile.
All of that can be found in Purina’s Amplify® Supplement, a nutritional tool that supplies a blend of vegetable oils, flax seed and rice bran to help your horse not only gain weight, but condition and shine. A supplement such as Amplify® can help achieve the weight gain you want more quickly.
Proceed slowly and carefully, monitor weight gain, and feed the right forage and concentrates for your horse, and soon your horse will be back to his healthy, shiny self.
For more information, visit Eastern Hay and Grain, www.easternhay.com ; or call 845-855-3291.
By Ann Jamieson
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The news team at EquiMed is dedicated to keeping the horse community informed about the latest developments related to horse health and the horse industry from a community, state, national and global and political perspective.
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