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RescueMini

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I have owned my mare for around three years now and have been fighting her obesity just as long. She is 8 this year and measures just under 34" tall. She was starved before she was rescued, and then was fed way too much to the point of extreme obesity by her foster owner. I was in no control of her feeding for a year and a half as the place where I boarded her at refused to feed her separately, and I had no option of moving her at the time. After I finally was able to take her home I closely monitored her feed and she did drop the weight decently. Then for winter she started to really pack it on to the point of unhealthy, even though I fed her the same amount. It seems like a vicious cycle. I have never gotten her to her ideal weight each summer, and just when she starts to slim down and look good she manages to balloon up again. I have tried just about everything suggested on other topics to get her to lose weight. Currently she is on a high quality grass hay. I give her about one flake a day total, split into three meals in a slow feeder. She also gets a small handful of SafeChoice feed with her joint supplement and omega horse shine. (She gets the joint supplement because she does a lot of jumping and driving in the summer, but has no joint issues, and I like to continue her supplements year round) I'm toying with the idea of adding some alfalfa into her hay for extra protein, as she did a little better on it two years ago when I tried that. The only issue is that she gets the runs really easily with the alfalfa, even if I introduce it slowly. Her other problem is that she will eat ANYTHING if she thinks she is hungry. Even though she has been rescued for four years, she still has that starved mentality and tries to eat anything whenever she can. If she is in her paddock, which has minimal, extremely short and sparse grass, she will eat any weed that grows. Nothing is poisonous, but I can't imagine that it is healthy for her. This summer i sprayed her paddock and moved her into the dry lot while I took care of the weeds. Even though she was on the same feeding schedule and got the same amount of hay, she started to eat manure! Her meals are very regular. I feed at 6am, 3pm, and 8pm, as I have to work around school. With the slow feeder it takes her several hours to eat her little slice of hay. She also has a free choice salt block in her pasture, which she uses a lot. I strongly feel that she does not have a thyroid issue as she does not display the cresty neck or any of the other visual issues. She doesn't even have fat deposits. She is just very, very round in the barrel with an even bigger belly, as if she was going to give birth any day now! I want her going into winter a little slimmer so that she comes out at a decent weight that will be easy to drop for show season next year, so any tips would be greatly appreciated!
 

RescueMini

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Yes, sorry!

This is her this August, probably the nicest she has looked all year.

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Last summer was the thinnest she has looked since I have owned her. A little deceiving from the angle, though.

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This is her in the winter of 2011, I believe. She is slightly thinner than this as she doesn't have the coat yet, but weight wise is the same.

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And the only other pictures of her that I have are performance pictures, so she looks thinner than she is. Here is one of her mid summer 2011 in Liberty.

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Let me know if you need any more!
 
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~Dan

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Rescue Mini, I can't offer much advice, but just wanted to say that except for the white markings on her legs, your mare is a CLONE of mine. Beautiful horse you have.

Dan.
 

chandab

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She doesn't look excessively heavy in any of the pics, perhaps a little extra belly in the first, but not bad.

What exactly are you feeding her? I mean how much hay in weight? How much grain in weight?

Do you have any idea of her weight? Or what it should be? A starting place to figure feed is 1.5-2% of Bodyweight per day; so a 300# mini would get 4.5-6# feed per day (majority should be hay/forage), some may need more, some less. [i don't have any 34" minis, they are either taller or shorter; mine that are taller are in pretty good shape, but do weigh more as they are bigger, mine that are shorter are currently a bit chunky, so weigh more than they should. I do have a 36" mare that is decent weight at 330#.]

Forgot, is she upto date on worming? Have you used sand clearing products on her? Some of these rescue ponies/horses are really bad about grubbing on the ground looking for more food, so injest sand (more than others), and therefore need sand clearing product added to their diet. [some with sand in their gut have a more bloated or hay belly look.]
 
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Matt73

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I can see her ribs in the second pic. I'm not sure why you're worried...She looks okay to me....I'd be worried she's not got enough weight on her, actually....lol
 
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Kim~Crayonboxminiatures

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I don't judge weight by how a horse looks visually (that is only 10%), I determine by feel. Can you feel her ribs easily, do you have to push in slightly to feel them, or can you not feel them at all? I do find that some Minis tend to have a bigger belly if your hay is a little more coarse stemmed instead of finer stems. I would try a digesive supplement like Smartpak's Smart Digest or Fastrack, something with yeast if it's the look of her belly you are trying to change, and I would make sure the pellets/feed you are feeding is the proper amount for her size, if you are underfeeding she might not be getting enough protein, which could also be why she is eating all of the time, her nutrition need might not be met by her current diet??

Just some ideas, from the photos above she does not look obese to me! I think in the winter a lot of Minis look like "fat buffalos" but they aren't truly, it's just the "poofy" hair! This is why I always feel them to determine weight/condidtion, looks can be deceiving!
 

JMS Miniatures

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I agree she isn't real obese. I have a mini who naturally has a wide barrel and he always looks heavy but if dropped too much weight he starts looking sucked in at the flank.

Personally I would take her to the vet and rule anything out and have your vet give you a plan. I wouldn't give her any alfalfa personally cause that could be a lot of extra calories she don't need, unless, and this is my suggestion is to give her a all hay diet and see how she does, along with free choice minerals. My 3 geldings are easy keepers with no thyroid problems cause I've checked and one started choking on his grain so after that I started giving just plain all hay diets. I show and my horses did just fine without grain. My one gelding was extremely obese and even had fat deposits and I changed his diet around to just a all hay diet and lots of exercise and it took a year to bring that weight down and this year he looked awesome. He even needed some grain but all he got was .4 of a lb of PrimeGLO. All 3 of my geldings got 4 lbs a day each of orchard grass and depending on the size of your flakes that would be more then just a flake with free choice GroStrong minerals.
 

RescueMini

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Ok, I will try and answer the questions in order.

The pictures really do make her look thinner than she is. I had her stand next to a late term pregnant mini last summer and she was just as fat as the mare. Right now she looks even fatter than a mare ready to foal, lol!

I have weighed her hay, but the scale broke, so I usually give her total what I estimate to be around 3lbs, which would be her target weight. I have a scale on my shopping list, as I really want to get everything right. As for grain, she literally gets a tiny handful, maybe half a cup, just so that she eats her supplements. She is up to date on worming, and has not had any issues with them in the past. The Omega Horse Shine also clears out sand, so I think that isn't the problem, although adding a sand clear might be a good idea.

I have never been able to feel her ribs. It's basically a sea of fat.
I'll have to look into the digestive aid supplement that you mentioned. I figure she has a poor metabolism since she was starved.

It is her belly that is the worst. She overall has this bloated look, and not nicely tucked up at all. Plus she is extremely round from viewed at the front. I'll try and get a picture of her tomorrow in her current condition as well as measure her weight. (Using the formula on LB) Do you think upping her grain would help at all? I am getting the Purina Mini Feed again, I just ran out last month and haven't had to go to the feed store yet for grain for the big horses, so I switched her to the Nutrena SafeChoice in the meantime. I never gave her the full recommended amount of the mini feed, just a handful.

I had a vet come out and look at her this summer when our horses were being floated. The vet said that I was doing everything right and to just up the exercise and free lunge her a little more. (In the summer Lulu (my mare) would get worked for around an hour a day, sometimes more. We would start out walking around half a mile to the neighbor's indoor, and then free lunge for 10-15 minutes while taking a short break when needed, and then move on to a little bit of jumping and obstacle. I always have been careful to work her up to her summer routine carefully. Currently she is lucky to get out and go on a mile long walk or jog). She (the vet) never even mentioned upping her grain, just said that the small handful wouldn't harm her to get their supplements.

Thanks for all of your suggestions! Tomorrow I will try and get some pictures of her out in the pasture to post on here.
 

chandab

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I'd venture to guess that 3# of hay isn't enough for a 34" mini, unless that is the amount is fed 2x daily. If her supplements include a vit/min supplement, then she probably doesn't need more than a handful of grain to mix her supplements into.

I know it says it will help with sand issues, but if she had sand issues before her rescue, she might still have more in her system than Horseshine can remove. Many starved horses will grub on the ground and ingest more sand/dirt while trying to get every morsel of food they can find, than typical horses.
 

rabbitsfizz

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Almost all horses without exception have it hotwired in their system that they are hungry- that is the way their system works, on eating around 22 out of every 24 hours, and if their jaws are not moving and they are awake they are starving! That is the way they are supposed to be, that is the way they are made to be.

Your mare is not fat, honestly, she just is not.

By cutting down on the amount you give her you will make her even worse, and the fact that she was starved is something you will always be working against.

Your mare may not be the shape you want her to be but that does not mean she is fat- as you will be aware form looking at a room full of people- they are all different weights and the person over there in the corner who is the same height as you and 100lbs heavier is not necessarily fat!

I think you actually need to give her more protein- I think what you have there is normal winter fluff and natural, necessary (to her) winter fat but if you insist on getting rid of it you will be fighting upstream all the way, as this is the time of year when nature is telling the horses system it needs to be at it's fattest.

I have stallions turned out 24/7 on good grass who will now chill all winter, come back up in Feb/March and be in show shape in six weeks, and I do think one of the main reasons they come back so quickly is that I am a ) doing it at the time of year when they can best afford (to the horses system's way of thinking) to lose weight and b ) they have had a whole six months just slobbing in general and being fat horses.
 

wingnut

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Its so easy to get hyper focused on our fur kids weights. We hear such horror stories about how bad it is for them to be overweight and what an awful thing founder can be. So we stress ourselves like MAD!

Your girl is a tad chunky, but that could very well be her natural state. Her ancestry could be of the more stocky version of the minis we've seen in the past versus the super duper refined ones we see on the covers of the registry magazines.

I think you should continue as is. Maybe see if you can find some hay that's pretty low in its calories and give her a bit more for the winter. Having been starved before, maybe her body just doesn't want to get rid of any excess weight if it feels like it's being "starved". Human bodies to that all the time...people make drastic change to their daily calorie intake and their body screams NO WAY!!!!

{{{{ hugs }}}} You're doing right by your girl....she will be okay!
 

HGFarm

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Have you had her thyroid checked? It will be a losing battle if she is low thyroid. This is NOT an uncommon problem in Minis apparently and often overlooked.
 

Helicopter

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She certainly doesn't look obese to me, just pleasantly plump or as my mum used to say ''a cuddly armful''.

I have 3 who would make her look anorexic.
 

JMS Miniatures

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Here is another suggestion just a handful of SafeChoice or Purina's Mini feed isn't doing anything for her. I was feeding the Purina feed to my obese guy and yes it did help drop his weight but I had to feed a lot to keep his weight up. He got 1.5 lb of grain a day and 2.5 lbs of orchard grass and he actually started to decline on it and even stopped eating it all together. So I switched to the Glo line feeds by ADM and been very happy with this feed. He is just under 33" and he was actually weighed and was under 250 lbs and he was skinny by then because he stopped eating the Purina feed so my guess his ideal weight is around 250 lbs. He gets .4 of a lb of PrimeGLO and 4 lbs of orchard grass a day. So I really think you need to actually up your mares hay by at least a lb and if you can get an actual weight on her would be great and you vet can give you an ideal weight she needs to be at. I know the weight tapes can give you 50 lbs more then what they really are.

ADM has a product called StayStrong Metabolic Mineral Pellets. It's a mineral, vitamin, electrolyte, and digestive aid supplement. It's for horses that are "easy keepers" or starch sensitive but it gives all the nutrients they need without getting those extra calories. It even says its great for miniature horses. You literally only need to give a handful of this so this would be great to mix in with your other supplements and give like 4-7 lbs of hay, now thats based just on a 200 lb horse so you may have to give more then that. A slow feeder will be great for her but I would at least split it up into 2 feedings. Like others said if she was starved she may just stay in front of that hay all day long and eat it in one feeding, if you can split it up into 3 feedings would be great for her.

http://www.admani.com/horse/Products/Horse%20StaySTRONG%20Metabolic%20Mineral%20Pellets.htm
 

RescueMini

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Thanks for all of your help! She does get three feedings, all in her slow feeder, so she almost always has something to munch on. And I guess my opinion on overweight is a lot different than others. ;) When I was little my shetland pony foundered and had to be put down because of it. I guess thats why im so sensitive about weight issues with the little ones, especially Lulu. My neighbor, who shows his minis a lot ( his minis are no where near the tucked up halter horses, but are at a healthy weight) and my vet both say that she is around 30-40lbs overweight and that her ideal going into winter would be around 10lbs less. Both agreed that she should weigh around 260 to 270lbs, and at last count she was 310ish using the formula on this website. The hay that she gets now is a nice quality grass hay, and I always give more in the winter once it gets cold. Is it true that minis put on the Purina Mini Feed on the correct amount actually lose weight and then maintain a proper weight? I've heard some have had issues with it, so I'm wary to put her on a full grain. Thanks again for all of your help! I consider myself still very new to the miniature horse world and I couldn't have come as far as I have with my rescue mare if it wasn't for this website.
 

JMS Miniatures

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The mini that I own did founder. So was very cautious about what he was getting. The Purina feed I was giving him the Maintenance level and he was doing just fine, and was starting to look really good. But then he started to decline I had to feed him more of it to the Moderate work level. He behavior declined, he had a dull coat, and then he stopped eating the grain. All signs pointed to ulcers but after getting checked out and spending $100s of dollars checking him out he had no ulcers and his blood work came out just fine. He came back home and he still wouldn't eat. So I switched him to the PrimeGLO and he eats that just fine and he looks really good and this year he did great. Even though he foundered you couldn't tell it.

I know some people are doing just fine on the Purina feed but I had a negative experience with it.

 

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