Feeding seniors

Miniature Horse Talk Forums

Help Support Miniature Horse Talk Forums:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Mar 24, 2016
Reaction score
I have a 30+ year old mini who's lost a bit of weight since I started turning the herd out for exercise on a 1/2 mile track. They all go out every day with sealed grazing muzzles on and they make 1-3 circuits every day. The old lady always leads the way and has a lot of get up and go. She has EMS and does not have PPID/Cushings. Has no parasites on fecal. Dentist is coming, I hope.

I have started giving her more alfalfa, but my options for feed are limited. She's severely allergic to corn, wheat, rice, soy & barley....lips swell, colics & looses hair when eating any combo of those ingredients. I have had problems with feeding her beet pulp in the past...laminitis and her crest swells up. No amount of soaking, rinsing & soaking the beet pulp has helped.

I haven't been able to find any feed that agrees with her, but I need something since we're going into winter and have already had frosts. Right now she's getting a mix of alfalfa and flax plus hay. I can't put her on free choice hay since the other minis she lives with get obese. She will self destruct if I isolate her in an adjacent pen. I don't have the space to give her an adjacent dry lot and run in. Night time temperatues have made the grass here too much of a laminitis risk for me to give her grazing time.

Does anyone have any DIY suggestions for feeding a senior?
Can you put her somewhere just for a short time to feed her extra and then let her join the herd? We have a lot of seniors now. One with cushings so the carbs are not good for her, but she needs to add weight for winter. So I feed her and a couple of other oldsters LMF Senior Low Carb. If you can't get the LMF brand, I'm pretty sure other manufacturers make a Low Carb of some sort. OR you could always just give her plain old OATS?
Would a handful of Oats be a option? I know they are high in NSC and may not be appropriate, but it is somethig that came to mind. Maybe BOSS ( sunflower seeds)? I have never fed them and don't kow anything about them but I think Marsha who posts on here feed BOSS to her minis. Can you seperate her long enough so that she can get a extra meal of hay without the other guys eating? I also have an allergy pony, it's not easy!
Could you try putting extra hay out and leaving grazing muzzles on the others for part of the time? I have one who's foundered twice and wears a muzzle when extra hay goes out, he's good at using it and still gets hay just not as much as the others.
What feed brands can you get?
What does she weigh (height and build will do)? How much do you feed of the alfalfa, flax and hay she currently gets?
The allergies will make it a bit more difficult, but I"m sure we can come up with something. Interesting that she reacts to beet pulp, but just like us, they can be allergic or sensitive to just about anything. Being she is EMS, oats are not recommended due to the starch content.
Copra might be an option for protein and calories (that would be coconut meal, it's available online from a few places, and a bit of an acquired taste; I have 3 that will eat it and one that dumps her dish when I use it).
If she absolutely has to, she could go to an all alfalfa diet, but would then need a vitamin/mineral supplement to compliment the alfalfa and balance the mineral in alfalfa. My recommendation would be MVP Mega Mag, as it's more palatable than the Select Alfalfa (at least that was the case with my herd). [Can also go with timothy/alfalfa mix, then you could use MVP Mega Cell as your vit/min supplement.]
There might be a couple oils that don't have soy or corn that might be an option for more calories, but that is an addition after we figure out the forage, vit/min and fat part of the diet.
We'll start with this, since I seem to have written a small book.
Thanks so much everyone.

Right now she gets her alfalfa and flax in a pen for as long as it takes her to eat it all, which is about an hour. She's ok with that since she has yummy food...then she's all "come on human! Set me free! Gotta make sure the young ones know I'm the queen!". Yes, she has both too much personality and energy.

I'm not comfortable leaving grazing muzzles on the other 2, since both have a history of getting caught up on them. They're not horrible when they have gotten hung up, but they aren't exactly smart about it either. Especially since the break away halters don't actually break!

Feed wise the only thing I can get up here is Blue Seal and they don't have anything she can have. I might be able to find Triple Crown, maybe. I just rechecked both of them, and it doesn't look like either one has anything new I haven't already tried and had problems with.

I haven't weight taped her recently but I'd put her body condition around a 4...can see ribs too easily, spine prominent and while she has muscle over her hindquarters she could use a bit more. She should be around 300lbs and until recently maintained that on just hay.

I just doubled her alfalfa to 2lbs a day and added 1.5oz of flax. They all share hay, so its hard to get an idea of just how much she gets. She is the most pushy about food...no one comes between her and her hay!

Oats are something I could try...if I can get my hands on just a little. I kinda feel silly buying a 50lb bag not knowing if they're ok for her. I'd rather go for pasture over oats first, but the nights are just too cold to chance it with her history. Her previous owner had her on some kind of grain when she was younger and in work, so maybe oats would be ok. I'm just nervous, especially now since vet help is even harder to get than normal.

If this doesn't work, I guess I could give her 7.5lbs of alfalfa cubes in a pen for as long as she needs to eat them...then release her to be with the herd.

I am ridiculously allergic to coconut. I can't feed her Coolstance since I'm the one doing the feeding.
Give the new level alfalfa and flax some time to do it's job before making more adjustments. She could likely have more flax, being a full-size horse can have up to a pound, she could likely have up to 1/3# (or there about). I have 3 large minis on 2oz by weight (so 1/2 cup) of flax daily. The MVP Mega Mag and Mega Cell are available on Smartpak, so you can check out the ingredient list there, and see if there are any ingredients that might disagree with her.
Wheat midds are a common ingredient in so many feeds, it makes it harder to avoid wheat than corn.
It's possible Chewy dot com might have something that would work for you and her. And, if only adding to one horse's diet, it's not horrible to pay the higher price for "free shipping". Tribute has come out with it's new "Wholesome" line which if I recall correctly is soy-free, so might be an option; and it's supposed to be available on Chewy sometime within the next month (I don't know what other ingredients might be in the line that could cause issue, but you could check out their website to see if it might be suitable; if Chewy is an option). [I order Buckeye Grow N Win (a ration balancer) from Chewy, it has soy, but that's not the point; just saying, ordering might be an option.] Chewy has added several equine feeds to their line-up, so perhaps something there would be an option. Yes, they have Crypto-Aero, but it's too high NSC for an EMS equine and is minimally fortified, so I'd pass on that particular product (I know it's soy-free).
I've lost my train of thought, or perhaps I've come to the station, so need to wait for more info. ;)
Plain Peas? Would that be an option worth researching? I just thought I'd throw it out there as I had a friend that fed a commercial feed (Genesis) that included peas.
Last edited:
Plain Peas? Would that be an option worth researching? I just thought I'd throw it out there as I had a friend that fed a commercial feed (Genesis) that included peas.
Split peas are a good option as a protein source, but are typically fed in small amounts. [I've used them in the past, and just bought the dried split peas at the grocery store. Thinking I fed like 1/4 cup to the minis that got them.]
If you do end up having to try her with oats you could always give her a small amount of rolled oats(oatmeal) from the grocery store so you don't need to get a big bag. If your guys get hung up on their grazing muzzles or halters at anytime just put a shoelace or cable tie or anything like that on to do the clip up to and it will break easily, all of mine are rigged like that.
Thanks everyone.

I've upped her alfalfa to 6lbs and 6oz of flax. It looks like she's building muscle in her hindquarters and they're filling out, but she's dropped a little on the weight tape. Is it normal when putting on weight?

I looked through everything Chewy has but wasn't able to find anything. There were a couple that almost made it, but had 1 or two ingredients that would be very bad for my allergy mini. One of the problems with having just 1 drylot for everyone...and I'd rather not take chances with things that make her lips swell up.

I had a hard time finding breakaway halters that work. The ones I have just have the crown piece with 2 buckles. No clips. Not sure how to rig them up with a zip tie.

I had another fecal done on her and its clear. She had a couple strongyles on fecal 2-3 years ago and was treated at the time. Then she's had clear fecals since. I stopped doing annual treatment for encysted strongyles a couple years ago. Is it worth considering?

Vet will be here to do her teeth the soonest I could get her out here, 2 weeks.
  • Like
Reactions: Taz
If you have a halter that just has buckles and no clips you can cut off the piece holding the buckle(just above the cheek piece) and tie the buckle back on with something that breaks easily. It's not pretty but it works great.

Latest posts