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Ep. 075: Managing Hard Keepers – How to Feed Your Underweight Horse

On this episode, co-hosts Dr. Tania Cubitt and Katy Starr discuss how to feed an underweight horse, plus complete our survey to win free product coupons!

Episode Notes

**Complete our short survey by Tuesday, March 12, 2024 to be entered for a chance to win Standlee free product coupons and some fun Standlee swag –

*SPECIAL NOTE - if you tried to complete the survey within the first few hours of the episode release and it only let you answer one question, please try again. The survey has been fixed. You may have to use a different device. Thank you!


On this episode, co-hosts Dr. Tania Cubitt and Katy Starr discuss how to feed an underweight horse including:

  • Common reasons why horses can start losing weight
  • Why some performance horses struggle with being underweight
  • What types of hay are best to feed underweight horses

When horses are underweight, it can sometimes trigger other health issues to occur, which can become costly to bounce back from. Don’t miss the chance for some great insight from Dr. Cubitt to help your underweight horse get back to a healthy weight.

Have a topic idea or feedback to share? We want to connect with you! Email


Scientific References:

~ 3:15 – Body Condition Scoring nutritional white paper -


~20:45 – Nutrient Requirements of Horses – Sixth Revised Edition (2007) -  |


~29:06 – For more information on how much additional hay or additional calories your need for weight maintenance during extreme weather conditions – listen to Ep 24: Why Horses Need to Be Fed Differently During Winter -


~29:58 – Episodes with Dr. Michelle DeBoer - Ep 71: Does My Horse Need a Blanket in the Winter? What the Research Says -

& Ep 72: How Horses Stay Warm in the Winter - & Proper Blanket Management for Health and Safety -

Katy Starr (00:01):

Hi, I'm Katy.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (00:02):

And I'm Dr. Cubitt. We're going Beyond the Barn. Come join us on this journey as we bust equine and livestock nutrition myths and interview some of the most intriguing experts in the country.


Katy Starr (00:15):

We'll go behind the scenes of how premium Western quality forage is grown and brought to your favorite farm and ranch retail store. We're so glad you're here.


Katy Starr (00:27):

We are celebrating three years of bringing you helpful nutritional content and inspiring experiences from equine, livestock, and small companion owners and influencers who are making waves and forging paths wherever they go. To thank you for being here with us and sharing our podcast with your friends, we'll be giving away free product coupons and some fun Standlee swag. All you need to do to be entered to win is rate and review our podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify and complete the short survey that is linked in our show notes. That's it. Thank you for celebrating three fantastic years with Dr. Cubitt, myself and Beyond the Barn. We couldn't do this without you. 


Welcome back to another episode of Beyond the Barn. Dr. Cubitt, we are back into the new year and this is your first episode back with us.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (01:25):

Excited to be back. As always.


Katy Starr (01:27):

Today we're going to be talking about feeding underweight horses and their management. And I think before we kind of get into this discussion, I just want to remind our listeners that any of the topics that we cover on the Beyond the Barn Podcast are more generalized and not specific to any individual horse or any specific situation. Be sure to always work with your veterinarian and nutritionist before making any drastic changes to your horse's feed program. Or you can reach out to us and talk directly with Dr. Cubitt or Dr. Duren on any specifics that you would like to know. So Dr. Cubitt, speaking of underweight horses, I know people I think tend to think that they might have a horse that's underweight rather than overweight, and maybe it's a little bit easier to see if a horse is like a fat horse. But can you talk to us a little bit about how we can determine if our horse is underweight, what are we seeing happening in the horse's body?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (02:28):

Yeah, I mean, and I think it really depends on the life stage, what the horse is doing, the age of the horse. If you've got young, growing horses, you know, like young, growing children, they are gangly and ribby and that can be fine. But if you've got an adult horse that you can see ribs on, that may not be fine. You also look at the exercise level, is the horse doing kind of upper-level endurance racing, for example, where they're like a marathon runner and they're lean and ripped and don't have extra fat on them, or are they a show hunter? So when you take all those things into consideration, there is a body condition scoring system that we use, and I know we'll talk about it a little later and I'm sure that you'll put it in the show notes for people so they can actually see the visuals.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (03:17):

But we score horses on a one to nine scoring system in America, one being emaciated and nine being super fat. And I would say a one, two or a three are always too thin. You can visually see the bones of the horse when you put your hand on the horse, you know, you can feel the hip bones, you can feel the ribs, you can see all of those. Really, the horse doesn't have any top line, no muscling, no, you know, maybe his neck is upside down. Then the four is kind of a gray area because sometimes an elite level, like a racehorse or an endurance racing horse may be a body condition score of four. So we've got a little bit more even coverage muscling, maybe I can still see a little rib, but for a broodmare, for example, a four would be too thin. So it's really visual when it comes to overweight or underweight.


Katy Starr (04:09):

Right. And it really kind of depends on what they're being used for to determine that. Makes a lot of sense.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (04:17):

Yea, exactly. I'll say from the very beginning, my observation is that people tend to have a real guttural response when they see a thin horse. Unfortunately, people don't have that same response when they see an overweight horse. So a lot of times people will underestimate their horse's body weight and surveys have actually shown that we as horse owners will underestimate our horse's body weight or body condition. And then when your veterinarian, for example, comes out, a trained professional, he might say, oh, your horse is actually overweight when you are like, oh, I want to put some more weight on my horse. So I think that really getting a good visual of that one to nine body condition scoring system and knowing what is underweight, knowing what is overweight, and then really trying your best, even if you have to have somebody else come in and score your horse so that you get a really unbiased, unemotional view of your horse. So anyway, I just say that upfront.


Katy Starr (05:21):

Oh yeah. When it's something that you see every single day, sometimes it's hard to see unless there's huge significant changes. Sometimes it's hard to see those changes in what they're looking like. So that unbiased look is a good idea. What are some reasons that a horse can start losing weight?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (05:41):

I think parasites would be an easy one. Poor dentition, really the reason why they lose weight is they're not getting enough nutrition. So I should have started there, not getting enough calories or they're expending more calories than they're consuming. So either they're exercising a lot and they're not getting enough calories, or you're feeding them enough calories, but for some reason they're not able to absorb them. And that would then go parasites, poor dentition, some other kind of digestive issue, be it gastric ulcers or hindgut ulcers where that tissue is damaged and they're not able to absorb the nutrients. But the kind of umbrella is they're expending more calories than they are consuming.


Katy Starr (06:25):

Right. And then what would you say, which is true, right, if they're not consuming them as well, what about environmental factors that could come into play?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (06:34):

I think you're getting at, okay, if it was really cold, then that cold weather is going to increase their caloric requirement just to stay warm. So we have this kind of maintenance amount of energy and protein and nutrients that a horse needs just to maintain themselves. And when we say maintenance, we're not doing any exercise, we're not pregnant, we're just maintaining. And if then the environment, let's say it's really cold and they need extra calories to maintain body temperature over and above that maintenance and you're not feeding them additional, then they will shiver to maintain body weight and they will lose weight that way. If it's really hot also, it's not that they're expending energy to stay cool, but they won't want to graze and they won't want to eat just like we don't want to when it's really hot. So they might be some environmental conditions. Also, if your horses at pasture and relies on pasture for their fiber and nutrient requirement, let's say horses, wild horses out on a plain, if it's been a drought, then that environment would decrease the amount of calories that they were able to consume. Disease is also another one that I didn't mention, but that would also preclude them from absorbing those nutrients.


Katy Starr (07:46):

Another thing that I'm thinking of is we have a horse, a mare, and she's kind of feisty and sassy and very controlling of who gets to be where. And so I know sometimes in certain situations some horses if we don't pay attention, can start to lose weight because they're not even getting the opportunity to consume some of the calories because if they're not separated out…


Dr. Tania Cubitt (08:08):

You find it in the dominant horse and the bottom of the pecking order. Oftentimes we think, you know, top of the pecking order, they get whatever they want, but they're so concerned about staying at the top and pushing everybody else off that they're not usually consuming food themselves or they're constantly stressed and constantly moving. The people, or the horses, that sit in the middle they’re doing okay and just going about minding their own business. Bottom of the pecking order, you know, and this is just herd dynamics. If you've got your horses in a herd, if you've got one horse in a stall, and this doesn't make a difference, but top of the pecking order, bottom of the pecking order, stallions, any horse that is constantly stressed and constantly moving and they're not focused on eating. Yeah. Then again, they're not consuming enough calories and they're expending more than they're, but that's just one of the reasons why.


Katy Starr (08:59):

Right, right. And so I know we've talked about a lot of these reasons, but in your experience as a PhD equine nutritionist, what would you say is probably the most common reason that you see horses tend to be underweight under that umbrella of the lacking of the calories?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (09:20):

Yeah, I mean, I would say there's two main ones. Senior horses, poor dentition, right? And they're no longer able to, and this is one that kind of slips under the radar because last year I fed them the same hay and the same grain and he did fine. Why is he not doing fine now? I'm feeding him all the hay and grain he wants, but he's still losing weight. And so we kind of struggle with that. And it could be just poor dentition and just could be a function of aging. You know, his digestive process is just getting less and less as he gets older. His microbiome, the bugs that live in the hindgut, they're getting less and less diverse, so less able to digest that fiber. So that's a common one. Older horses, poor dentition or just the natural function of aging. Another one that I think people struggle with is when you look at the horse's diet, the predominant part of any horse's diet is the forage component, right?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (10:15):

The hay or the pasture. And so small changes in the nutrient value of that portion of the diet make large differences in the overall diet. So people really focus on the grain or the supplements they're feeding and don't often take into account the hay. And so I'll have clients come to me and say, you know, I've been buying the same hay from the same guy. It's great hay, great hay grower, and same fields every year. You know, it must be the grain or it must be the supplement. I've got to feed something different. I'm like, okay, well have we had a hay test and we test the hay and notice that, you know, this year's cutting and this is no through no fault of the farmer, this is just environmental, maybe you know, one mega cal less than it was last year and over 30 pounds. And if we're saying, you know, last year it was one mega cal per pound and this year it's 0.9, then you know, we're looking at a considerable decrease in the amount of calories that we're feeding that horse because we're feeding 30 pounds. So it's just exponential because we're feeding such a large quantity of hay. So I think changes in hay that we aren't really taking into account, is another one, a huge one for horses losing weight. 


Katy Starr (11:31):

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That's a good one. And so we tend to think of underweight horses being hard keepers and overweight horses being easy keepers. And so I thought it might be good for us to actually touch on what is the difference between a hard keeper and an easy keeper horse?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (11:48):

Well, they're just kind of descriptive terms that we have, we use in the industry because we all have that horse. It's just like people, you know, some people look at pizza and gain a pound, some people could eat a whole pizza and gain an ounce, right? It's that thrifty genotype. And there are certainly some breeds that are more thrifty than others. Pony breeds for example, any breeds that have that pony influence, they are what we call easy keepers or you know, it doesn't take a lot of food to maintain their body weight. And then you have those harder keeper horses, which tend to be more, you know, standardbreds, thoroughbreds, they are harder to keep weight on. So you know, maybe they have a much higher metabolism and we seem to be feeding them a lot more food, even just at resting, at maintenance. This isn't taking into account that ponies are doing less exercise than say a racehorse, which is a thoroughbred. Just at maintenance, there's certain breeds that tend to need more calories to maintain that maintenance level of body weight.


Katy Starr (12:53):

Right. What other health issues can stem from a horse being underweight if we don't end up getting it managed and taken care of?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (13:02):

Okay, so you know, we've discussed the health issues that might cause a horse to be underweight, but if we're then talking about okay, the horse is underweight, what would that trigger? Obviously this isn't a health issue, but this would be something that you might want that horse to do and it wouldn't be able to because it was too thin. Reproduction. Reproduction is a luxury. And so if the animal doesn't have enough body weight to just maintain itself and its losing weight, then it's not going to trigger those reproductive cycles because you wouldn't, you know, start to try and grow a fetus if you can't even maintain your own body weight. So that would be something that would be decreased, reproductive efficiency in a thinner animal. We also know that fat stores certain fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin A, these are all stored in the fat. And so we know that thin animals aren't able to store things like vitamin E and then that could then decrease muscle rebuilding, recovery, immune function, vitamin E is a really powerful antioxidant. So immune function. And then that then obviously if your immune function is down because you don't have enough vitamin E or antioxidant, selenium as well, then that could trigger a whole other slew of different, like it could be just snotty nose or any number of different things that come from them.


Katy Starr (14:29):

Right. So we know kind of that main overarching reason for a horse being underweight is, you know, expending more calories than they're actually taking in. But how often do you find that horses might be underweight because either they're working and exercising too much above what they're actually receiving in their calories to kind of account for all that, versus a horse that might tend to be a pasture pet kind of. And then it's just not maybe receiving enough or adequate nutrition.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (15:01):

I think I see a lot more performance horses that aren't gaining weight. And it's also not just about the amount of feed that people feed. You know, anybody who's listened to me speak before about the digestive function of the horse, I always start with what is normal for a horse. Horses are grazing animals. Their digestive system is the most efficient when they're consuming small amount of food constantly, you know, they're trickle feeders, they'll graze 17 hours out of a 24 hour period and then we come along and we put them in stalls and we meal feed them and then we think, oh, I've got a performance horse, I need to feed him a lot more, you know, concentrate to maintain his body weight. But I only can do that in two meals a day. So I'm feeding, you know, six plus pounds of grain in a single meal.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (15:53):

Why is he not gaining any weight? And it's just not efficient. The digestive system is literally making poop. It's flowing through the digestive system really fast. And so even though you're feeding enough calories, they're just not able to break it down and absorb it. So another thing that I'll do with that horse, if they're getting enough calories in the diet and they should be maintaining weight and there's no other disease state or anything else, I'll say, okay, let's change the management and actually break that quantity of grain down into smaller meals, more frequently. So instead of feeding twice a day, we're going to feed three or even four times a day. So that 10 pounds of grain, we're going to split up into smaller amounts before we start adding even more grain. So it's not just about the amount of calories we're feeding, but how we're actually feeding those calories to maximize the digestive efficiency.


Katy Starr (16:49):

That's really great.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (16:50):

I can't remember what your actual question was, but that's my answer.


Katy Starr (16:55):

I'm really glad you mentioned that because we don't always think about that. Right. I guess the first thought that does come to mind is the calorie intake, which is very relevant, but at the same time, just knowing how, the whole process of how it's being fed to an animal, I think that's really important and I'm really glad that you touched on that. And then how about, because we know that we have a lot of horse owners that maybe they just don't have access to pasture and so they end up having their horses in a little bit smaller paddock areas or stalled or things like that. But I'm curious to know, is there kind of an impact from a horse that doesn't have access to pasture? Is that related at all to horses that maybe become underweight at all?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (17:39):

It certainly makes it more responsibility for the owner. It's more intense management is what I'm getting at, you know? If your horse has access to pasture and when we say has access to pasture, I would say that most horses in America have access to pasture more as turnout and exercise and mental health and not necessarily to supply them all the nutrients they need. So if we're talking about pasture to supply calories and protein and not have to feed hay, then we're looking at two acres per horse. Per horse, so one horse has access to two acres and it has 70% coverage of real plants that they can eat and it's about six inches high. You know, that's just not that common for a lot of horses. And they have 24-hour access to it. So when horses don't have access to pasture and their turnout that has grass on it is more like we said for exercise or mental health, then it falls on us to provide them the fiber requirements.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (18:43):

And I'm always surprised when I give presentations that the one slide that everybody frantically writes down is the amount of hay that a horse needs or dry fiber that a horse needs to consume in one day is between one and a half to two-point half percent of their body weight. And remember, again, if your horse does have access to pasture, why they have to eat, so much of it is pasture is 80% moisture and 20% dry matter, but that amount of dry matter when it comes to hay is 15 to 25 pounds of hay per day. And I think a lot of times people aren't feeding enough hay or again, it comes down to the management. It's not just about feeding enough hay, but it's making sure that we're mimicking grazing behavior by allowing that horse to have access to it throughout the day and not have more than say four to six hours where they don't have something to graze on.


Katy Starr (19:38):

Right. Well, and as you're kind of talking through that, it's just making me think about, I wonder how many horse owners do feel like, you know, they have the pasture space wise, but maybe just how you're talking about, right. It needs to be kind of at about six inches and you need to have two acres and just the actual amount of grass that's in that pasture. Because sometimes, especially as you go on through the summer, you know, that starts to dwindle down if we are not doing any kind of rotational, you know, grazing or anything like that, you know, I see horses out that tend to be in some, you know, there's like some slim pickens out there in the pasture, but I guess as long as the horse owner is aware and understanding that and compensating for that additional fiber need, you know, it just kind of got me thinking about that a little bit.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (20:27):

Absolutely. Yeah.


Katy Starr (20:29):

So as we're kind of talking about this, what are the actual nutrient requirements for a healthy horse in maintenance?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (20:38):

Oh my gosh. Okay. Well I've got my little NRC here, which is the Nutrient Requirements for Horses. And this is kind of the gold standard that we all use for the actual nutrient requirements laid out, you know, scientifically proven how much energy, protein, whatever a horse needs in a day. And really when we're talking about body maintenance, we focus on calories and protein, you know, of course there’s calcium, phosphorus, all kinds of other requirements, but we won't go into those. If we're talking about a thousand pound horse, the energy requirements, and we measure that in mega cals per day, is 15 mega cals per day. That's what they need. When we're talking about crude protein, it's 567 grams of crude protein per day.


Katy Starr (21:28):

Excellent. And so that kind of gives us a picture of what a normal horse should be consuming for that energy/protein source. If we have a horse that's underweight, and we're going to go through a few of these, but to start off with, especially since you talked about just how large a portion of that horse's diet is in hay or forage or you know, the fiber aspect of it. If you have an underweight horse, what are some example type hays that would be best to feed your horse?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (21:57):

If you have an underweight horse, we’re going to say the assumption for this is, there's nothing else wrong with the horse, right? We're not worried about sugars and starches we're, he's not HYPP a quarter horse, so there's nothing else wrong with him other than he's thin and he needs to gain weight. The primary forage source would be alfalfa. And that's because it's high-end calories, right? Alfalfa hay typically has more calories than any of your other grass hay. So when we look, when I was talking about the mega cals per day and your horse needs 15 mega cals, most of your good quality alfalfa is going to run around one mega cal per pound at least. So that really fits. Giving your horse 15 to 25 pounds a day, you are going to give them 15 to 25 mega cals of energy per day. So that would meet their requirements. Now if the horse is underweight, we don't want to just meet their requirements, we also need to give them some extra, right? So 15 mega cals a day is going to meet a horse's requirements and keep them the same, keep them maintaining. But if we've got a horse that we want to gain weight, then we're looking at adding additional. So maybe we're looking at feeding 20 or 21 mega cals a day instead of that 15. So alfalfa would be the ideal.


Katy Starr (23:25):

And what would you be comfortable with, like if you're needing a horse to gain weight, and I know that there's like other options that we'll kind of talk about, but what is your max for hay that's offered to a horse or that even the horse would be able to consume just constantly eating that they're physically able to do.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (23:43):

A horse isn't going to consume, typically, I'm not going to say I would bet my house on this, but typically they're not going to consume any more than 3.5% of their body weight per day in dry fiber. So you know, 35 pounds is where they're going to max out for that thousand pound horse.


Katy Starr (24:01):

And then how do we take in, concentrate, grain or ration balancer into account when we're feeding this underweight horse? And you can kind of, you know, evolve your scenario here.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (24:13):

I always like to start with the 80/20 rule, 80, 80% forage, 20% concentrate. You know, in a racing thoroughbred for example, we might go 70/30 or even 60/40, but you know, fiber is just absolutely critical for the overall health of the horse and wellbeing of the digestive tract and the microbiome. So you know, yeah you might put weight on the horse but you traded that for other issues, if you sacrifice fiber. So if we go with that 80/20 and we are using, you know, an alfalfa or an alfalfa blend, then a ration balancer which really has no calories, it's a protein and vitamin and mineral supplement which you can call, you know, the weight loss or you know, Jenny Craig type product. Probably can't say that name . But anyway, it's a, you know, just no calories. If you want calories in your horse, then you're typically going to be feeding something with a little higher fat, higher digestible fiber content. And if you ask whichever feed company you're using for a feed for weight gain, they will point you in the direction of a higher fat, higher fiber feed.


Katy Starr (25:24):

And how can beet pulp play a role in supporting an underweight horse?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (25:28):

You know, beet pulp is an excellent addition to a weight gaining program. It's a super fiber, it's very highly digestible. It's got about, so you remember before I was talking about good quality alfalfa, anywhere from one to 1.1 mega cals per pound. Beet pulp is about 1.27 mega cals per pound. The issue with beet pulp is the amount that people feed. And we recently did a Facebook live and we surveyed folks on how much beet pulp is kind of consistent with what most people do. And really only a few people said they fed like a pound of beet pulp a day. So at a pound you're only getting 1.27 extra mega cals, but easily people would feed five pounds of alfalfa. So even though per pound the beet pulp was slightly more calories than the alfalfa, it's just more about people's comfort level on feeding it. And where people typically end up feeding beet pulp, you know, they don't feed enough for it to be the primary source of weight gain, but don't be afraid to add it into your weight gain program.


Katy Starr (26:40):

Okay. And then obviously sometimes we can get to a point where a horse can only physically eat so much, you know, they're getting the best quality high calorie hay that they can along with their complimentary concentrate, but maybe they're still in a situation where they're losing weight or not gaining like they need to. What other options would you consider to help an underweight horse?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (27:02):

Yeah, and I think that, you know, this happens a lot with older horses and you get to a point where you just can't make them eat anymore. So then you just have to look at the calorie density of what you're feeding them. I can't physically feed them more, but I need to get more calories into them. So what is the most calorie dense And that's fat supplements. Fat, pure fat like oil, it has four to five times the calorie density. So if alfalfa is 1.1 mega cal per pound and beet pulp is 1.27 mega cals per pound and we say oats or rice bran is about 1.5 mega cals per pound, fat or oil, oil is 4.6 mega cals per pound. So it's just significantly more calorie dense and a cup of oil, if you pour it on the feed, volume wise, it just kind of disappears so it doesn't add any bulk. So for me the safest, easiest way to put a significant amount of calories into a diet quickly, is to add oil.


Katy Starr (28:05):

Excellent. And you brought this up a little bit before and obviously we're kind of right into winter now, but how can you properly manage an underweight horse going into winter, so they don't end up losing more weight?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (28:22):

Yeah, and that's tough. And so if your horse typically lived outside and didn't get blanketed, this would be a situation where I'd say definitely if you have the option to give them shelter, even if it's a run in shed, and make sure you blanket that horse. So, you know, a lot of older horses might get to a point where they just can't maintain their body weight, they can't thermoregulate in the temperatures they're in. So again, every year he's been fine, but this year he's not. And this year we're putting a blanket on him and we're giving him a run in shed or maybe we're even bringing him into a stall. There are additional ways that you can help maintain their body weight as well as feeding additional hay. We've done another podcast on how much additional hay or additional calories you need for weight maintenance, but it really is a bit of an uphill battle to try and put weight on a horse during those colder months. So I always try to be really preemptive and know, okay, I've got this horse who every winter loses weight, so we're going to put a lot of weight on him. Maybe have him even a little heavy going into winter knowing he's going to lose that weight. But yeah, trying to gain weight during those colder months can be a challenge. It's usually about maintenance for me.


Katy Starr (29:39):

You really kind of need to come into it with a strategy. Almost like a playbook . Well and another thing to mention, you talked about, you know, for that horse that really struggles to keep that weight on and giving them a blanket and everything. Another thing to think about and if you haven't listened to some of our past episodes that we recently did with Dr. DeBoer, she talked about how important it was to make sure that you're actually like for blanket management to take that blanket off. Because if you have a horse that's kind of underweight going into winter, but you're doing these things to try to make sure they don't lose more weight, the last thing you want to do is put a blanket on them and then just leave it. And then gosh, you get to like end of winter, oh my gosh, you take the blanket off and they are like skin and bones. Like you just really don't want to get yourself into a situation like that.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (30:22):

One of the things I recommend, and it doesn't matter what time of the year, it's if you're trying to put weight on a horse or get weight off a horse or even develop a topline or change their hair coat, whatever you're trying to do, I recommend people take pictures. So at the beginning you're going to, you know, put them in a place that you can replicate. You've got to be able to replicate that picture, take a picture from the side, both sides front and back, and then every week or every other week take that same picture. Because when you see the horse every day, it's going to be very difficult to see any changes. You can also weight tape the horse sometimes I recommend having someone other than yourself do it, just make sure it's always the same person, but even if it's hair coat, hoof quality, whatever, take pictures and so that you can compare the pictures because our eyes sometimes mislead us.


Katy Starr (31:16):

Yeah, definitely. Dr. Cubitt, what would you say are a few key takeaways that you would like to leave our listeners with about the topic of underweight horses?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (31:26):

I think the first thing you've got to do before you start throwing food at your horse is determine is there a reason, medical or physiological reason why they are not gaining weight? If your horse has parasites or poor teeth or some kind of digestive disease, you need to take care of that before you start throwing extra food at them. Then you look at, okay, what am I feeding? You work with your veterinarian or nutritionist and work out am I feeding enough calories for what my horse is doing? If the answer is yes and they're still losing weight, am I providing it to the horse in a manner that it can efficiently digest it? If I'm not providing enough calories, where can I put more calories in? If I'm stuck with the hay that I have, that's all I can buy. Maybe there's supplemental hay sources that have more calories that I can buy and maybe the concentrate that I'm buying, I can buy a more calorie dense supplement to add on top of that.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (32:30):

When I'm talking about supplement, I'm talking about your grain concentrate. So there would be some take homes. I think that a lot of times the first thing we do is just want to chuck more feed at the horse. And so many times people come to me and say, you know, I'm feeding so much hay and so much grain and why is the horse still not gaining weight? There must be something wrong. I need to change the brand or something. And really you've just got to dig a little deeper and find out why is the horse underweight to start with? Then we can address the issue from there.


Katy Starr (33:02):

Right. Excellent. It's a good way to round out this episode. I did want to share with you though, because we've been getting a few additional reviews coming in on Apple about the Beyond the Barn podcast. So I wanted to share one with you, Dr. Cubitt. Oh, wonderful. And this one is from lalaland35. Nice. And they say "Love, love, love. This true horse wellness podcast! I found this podcast after researching about forage for my Cushing's Haflinger Pony. Standlee makes the pellets that I need for him as he has no teeth and needs a mushy soaked food. Even better, Standlee sells at Tractor Supply, which is three miles away. This podcast has taught me more about horse nutrition than in my 40 plus years with horses. I love both the interviewer and the doc. This is a must listen for any horse owner. Well done ladies!"


Dr. Tania Cubitt (34:00):

That is very sweet to hear. And thank you for that review. And I think we really try hard to just provide information. It's not always about Standlee products, it's just about basic equine management. So I really love to hear reviews like that. Thank you.


Katy Starr (34:17):

Yea, it's great. And another cool thing is we, we hit the 40 rating mark with this review, which was kind of cool. And so I'm hoping that over, you know, the next couple months if our listeners, if you love our podcast, if you like the information that we're putting out, help get us to 50. Yeah, that would be pretty fantastic. And it just helps others understand a little bit about what this podcast is about. You know, what are they going to learn from this, what are you going to experience from this, you know. And so we really try to give you guys a lot of, like Dr. Cubitt said some really great, you know, information in general on horse nutrition, but overall horse care. We throw in some other livestock species here and there. And then sometimes some feel good stories, sometimes it's always nice to just feel a little bit inspired, you know, by those that are kind of like-minded people. So it's always fun to do that. So Dr. Cubitt, thanks so much for being with us today and we will catch you next time.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (35:20):

Thank you.


Katy Starr (35:22):

Thanks for listening to The Beyond the Barn podcast by Standlee Forage. We'd love for you to share our podcast with your favorite people and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite listening platform. Until next time, keep your cinch tight and don't forget to turn off the water.


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