Horses - Diet and Nutrition/Horse weight loss


Hi my 15 year old tb gelding sarted rapidly lossing weight over autumn and throughout winter he gets 2 hard feeds a day consisting of chaff, veteran 15 plus nuts, maxisoy, rapid gain ( weight gain feed ) and weight gain he also gets a cup of oil. The worst weight loss is over his back and loins he's very boney and riby and gets a lot of hay twice a day. I have considered getting bloods done incase he is lacking in something. He is very tired and just looks depressed. We have had his teeth done and been wormed. Am i not feeding enough hay? Just want to get him some help. Thankyou

Hello Hannah,

Rapid weight loss with the diet you have mentioned is more likely the result of a serious digestive or metabolic issue and I would suggest pursuing your concerns with your attending veterinarian.  You've already attended to teeth and worming, which can cause rapid weight loss.

Without knowing your horse's body weight and exact feeding amounts, its difficult for me to say if the diet is lending to the weight loss issue. In any instance where maintaining body weight is difficult even with a reasonable ration, I recommend feeding a good quality prebiotic.  I like Alltech's LifeForce Formula although I understand that it may be discontinued.  Alternatively, SmartPak and Basic Equine Nutrition sell decent versions.  

When it comes to questions about how much hay to feed, my answer is always 'as much as he can eat'.  Horses were designed to live off forages, and grain/concentrates should only come into play when the forage is very poor quality or the horse's workload is so heavy that he can't maintain body condition on forage alone.  Often times, feeding more grain/too much grain only makes the problem worse. Excessive grain feeding can cause a whole host of digestive and metabolic issues.  Horses simply weren't designed to live on high grain diets.

If you could provide me with more detailed information, I could give you more concise recommendations.  I would need to know what kind of forage you are feeding (the kinds of grass or legumes in it and its maturity, but preferably a forage analysis by a lab), how much of each of the concentrates you are feeding, your horse's body weight and activity level.  Meanwhile, consult your vet straight away to rule out other health issues.

Thanks, Corlena  

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Corlena Patterson


I can help with any of your horse nutrition questions and concerns. I have been involved with horses for closing on 40 years, with a B.Sc in Animal Science and currently working on an M.Sc in Equine Science with the University of Edinburgh. I have owned my own feed store, consulted professionally as an equine nutritionist, and lectured in the fields of equine and dairy nutrition at the University level for 5 years. I have developed and currently market 'Ration-X', a ration formulation program for horses...designed for the everyday horse owner. I am happy to help in any way I can.


Experienced in developing and implementing feed programs for horses of all disciplines, creating custom horse supplements and managing inter-disciplinary equine facilities. Specialize in equine nutrition consulting.

The American Society of Equine Appraisers

'Stable Management' Handbook, Equine Canada.

M.Sc (Equine Science-current), B.Sc(Agr) Animal Science, Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification, Farrier Certification, Equine Consultant Certification, Certified Equine Appraiser, Certified in Emergency Equine Rescue.

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