Queso is a 5 year old AQHA reining stallion. Prior to his transformation, he was living the simple life out on acres and acres of pasture, which served as the majority of his diet.
When purchased by his new owners and the time came to go back to work, Queso experienced changes to both his diet and his lifestyle, with more stall time and exercise. His owners quickly noticed that he would need some additional support while in training.
Challenge: Helping a horse gain weight while also increasing their workload and building muscle.
Since Queso needed to gain weight both in fat and in muscle mass, extra attention was needed to make sure that he didn’t lose more calories during exercise than he could safely eat.
After consulting with their Bluebonnet Feeds dealer, Queso’s owner pulled together his new feeding plan.
“I am a firm believer that quality feed and quality forage is the foundation to having a healthy horse. When I purchased my stallion, Queso, he was underweight, no muscle definition, and his coat was unpleasant to look at. However, I saw his potential and I knew with proper feed and forage I could bring him back to life.”
Solution: Utilize a specialized feed to increase calories and essential nutrients, while supplementing with added defenses for stress.
After maximizing his hay, the goal was to safely increase calories through a high-fat, nutrient-dense feed. When choosing a feed for Queso, it came down to a couple critical components:
- The right balance of essential nutrients. A feed that is calorie-dense, with high levels of healthy fats and low starch/sugar. Too much starch/sugar puts your horse at risk for gastric upset or colic.
- A feed that allows a horse’s body to easily absorb critical nutrients, and get the most value from each bite. The form and source of various nutrients can greatly impact how much the body actually uses. Additionally, added digestive enzymes and pre/probiotics can boost total absorption, and maximize the positive impacts.
His owners also decided to introduce a gastric support supplement, a recommendation made often by our nutrition experts for horses under increased environmental and digestive stress.
“I reached out to Ethelyn for some advice and expertise. She quickly recommended Omega force and Gastro pHix to get Queso back to his full bloom. I immediately saw drastic changes in his body and appearance.”
Results: Queso returned to a healthy body condition in just one month. Over 4 weeks, Queso transitioned onto his personalized feed program.
Daily Feed: Bluebonnet Feeds Intensify Omega Force, 5 lbs
Daily Added Gastric Support: Gastro pHix by Stride Animal Health, 1 lb
“Day 7, day 10, day 15, and day 30 were notable days throughout his journey. I would highly recommend Bluebonnet Feeds and Stride Animal Health. As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding.”
The Breakdown: Why these solutions worked for Queso.
Intensify Omega Force to safely increase calories.
This nutrient-dense formula was a great way to add a significant amount of calories, to safely meet Queso’s needs. With low levels of starch and sugar, risk of causing a colic or laminitic episode during weight gain and diet change was reduced. Boosted levels of quality Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids also gave Queso the fat-fueled calorie-boost that he needed. Plus, the built-in pre and probiotics kept Queso’s gut prepared to digest all of the rich vitamins, nutrients, and minerals from his feed and hay.
Combining forces with added gastric support.
With Intensify Omega Force providing enough nutrients and calories, a gastric buffer was selected as the priority supplement, so 1lb of Gastro pHix was also added to help soothe and protect Queso’s gut.
Natural gastric buffers are often recommended for horses under the stress from things like training, or changes to their diet or environment. Since Queso needed to continue exercise to gain muscle, he was experiencing all three. Our consultants wanted to help get ahead of possible risks from stress, and disruptions to weight-gain, like eating less and an upset stomach.
Gastro pHix contains a proprietary blend of gut-boosting ingredients like Lithothamnion (seaweed-derived calcium/red algae) slippery elm, chromium, and more.
Choosing the right solutions for your horse.
While we wish getting a horse to gain weight was as simple as just adding more feed, we must be careful to consider the nutrients across forage and concentrates like feed, as well as how to make a gradual transition to new food.
When looking to help your horse gain weight, we recommend thinking taking these steps:
- Know the nutrient and calorie composition of their forage. Daily forage should equal at least 1.5%-2% of a horse’s body weight. Test for nutrient and calorie composition.
- Determine a body condition score to help identify how much weight your horse needs to gain in both fat and muscle.
- Compensate with enough calories to cover any additional energy expenditure during training or exercise.
- Involve your veterinarian, as health factors will influence ability to respond to nutritional changes.
- Consider whether stress or pain might impact progress, and if getting ahead of these with additional support through functional nutrition can help.
Every horse is an individual, and requires attention to its specific needs. The best approach to take is one armed with knowledge with a goal in mind. Dive in to more about choosing a feed program by listening to nutritional consultant Lindsay Burer discuss the process with P.h.D. Equine Nutritionist Dr. Jyme Nichols.