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Old 09-16-2011, 07:09 PM  
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Unhappy riding an underweight horse? Help...

Ok so let me give you guys some background first. There's a girl who is fairly new to our barn (been there about four months or so now) and her horse came in INCREDIBLY underweight, I mean, I couldn't BELIEVE he'd been at another boarding stable like this!! We never thought the old boy would make it through the night! So he a beautiful 17.2 gelding and he looks like a paint but I don't think paints get that tall? ANYWAY, regardless of his breeding, he's owned by a fifty year old woman who's had him 15 years, since he was five. Char, his owner, is VERY petite. She's only about 4 feet tall (no I'm not exaggerating) and weighs 95lbs Well, Char had a snowmobile accident and now has short term memory loss. She well... has good and bad days, thankfully no terrible days. She really really loves the horse just sometimes she simply forgets what she has or hasn't done with him that day... or week. The rest of us clean our own stalls but BO cleans hers and charges her a bit extra to do so. So Char used to do hunters and eventing with this big boy (Ricky is the horses' name) and she hasn't rode him since he's gotten real thin. Point is, tonight she blew my mind and said "Can I ride with you?" You can only imagine my face... Ricky HAS put on quite a bit of weight but he is older and is still skinny. He is healthy besides the weight issue and even gallops around in the pasture with the other young ones, he's actually a little spitfire So I tell Char "Uhhh, I don't know..." A bit hesitantly. The horse hadn't been rode in awhile and she's TINY compared to him!! I'm thinking omg this can not end well! Well, she doesn't listen, go figure and bridles him. Thankfully, she only put a bareback pad on and not a saddle... then she flings herself up there and scrambles onto him meanwhile Ricky stands still, head down and ears pricked. Now, Char only walked and didn't ride long at all. We went down the drive, down the road a bit and back all at a slow walk with no trotting/cantering and Ricky actually seemed to LIKE it. He's in his lower twentys I believe and she is very light (esp. with no tack) but is this ok for her to do this? Ricky was a perfect gentleman with her which really surprised me (he is REALLY pushy on the ground) I've never had an underweight horse... I have the opposite problem Attached is a picture of ricky (and steele) to help you gage his wait better. When he got here, you could count every rib, hip/butt bones, top of tail bone... everything and now his barrel is actually filled in almost normally but his butt is still a bit boney. What does everyone think? Should I talk her out of riding for a few more months???
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:22 PM  
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You know, im guessing a lot of people are going to tell you "make her hold off". I have no clue how that accident affected her cognition or judgement. I'm guessing her judgement is still there seeming you just mentioned the STML. She can judge whether she can ride the horse or not, she's had him for 15 years. Im not sure if the horse's weightloss was due to not feeding or if it was age, and you've said it has gotten better since the horse has been there.

In the end, the owner is going to do what she wants. I think she can ride him, she is basically only taking him on a small one, at a walk. No worries. Especially if it makes her happy, which can be sometimes a hard thing to find when you are cognitively aware enough to know that you have lost your memory, and people tend to point that out a lot.
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:30 PM  
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The horse sounds healthy and in the picture, doesn't appear underweight. I don't see why he can't be ridden. My older TB looked worse and the vet approved light riding since it would help condition and build muscle.

Now that fatty on the right....he could use some REAL riding time. Wow...he's thick!
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:40 PM  
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We aren't sure why he was SO skinny at the old place. We feed him ten pounds of grain a day with 2lbs corn mixed in and 8 flakes of hay daily and redcell once daily and he has put on some weight but its taking him a long time. Vet said he was "fairly healthy for an old guy" besides the weight issue. He isn't lame or anything... Just skinny and has coliced a lot in the past (hasn't coliced here). She really does love him and I know its not the ideal situation for her to have him but I do feel for her. She is intelligent and is actually a nurse (scary huh?) And she does worry a lot about him. She is a "good listener" though so I think if someone told her she should hold off on riding she probably would. She knows he needs to take It easy so she is always so careful. She never did anything more than walk today and only rode for maybe 20min max. I feel the same way cinnamon. It does make her happy and the horse doesn't seem to mind at all... Actually he seems to love it. But if it really is going to be bad for Ricky I'd tell her to stop
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:42 PM  
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As long as she isn't working him into a sweat/lather, then some work will possibly help with the weight gain.

His topline looks weak, but the rest of him looks ok.
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:42 PM  
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Haha mav!!! That's my boy... He's a little spoiled and he actually gets rode every day! He I'd an easy keeper... To say the least
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Old 09-16-2011, 08:55 PM  
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Does she know you are posting pics of her horse on a public forum?
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:50 PM  
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Has anyone been checking his poop to make certain he is digesting the feed, especially the whole corn, and not just passing it right in through? Have his teeth been checked?
A light little ride by a lightweight rider could be good for him. You said yourself he acted happy about it.
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:00 AM  
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To be honest I don't think it's up to you to tell her if she can ride or not. But if she does want to ride you sound like the perfect buddy to go with her as you sound like you truly care about the welfare of both horse and rider.

Her horse doesn't appear to be in that bad of shape and at his age he likely won't regain what he once was but with such a good group of people looking after him he should be able to hold his own soon.
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:50 AM  
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Yeah he can gain some weight but it's more of muscle that he needs now. Let her work him at a small walk or trot. as long as she and the horse are happy, who are you to judge?
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Old 09-17-2011, 06:52 AM  
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Ghoti, yes. She is not very computer savvy and I told her I was could see what others thought. Because she is a bit iffy on riding him herself and she loves him to pieces so wanted to make sure light riding wouldn't hurt.
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Old 09-17-2011, 07:33 AM  
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Im really surprised many don't think he is underweight... Maybe it just seems he is really thin since all the other horses in my barn are on the thicker side well I'm glad no one thinks some short rides will hurt the horse. She wants to go out again today after my lesson and ride around some more.
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:22 AM  
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Pictures can be deceiving. Sometimes the sun or shadows make them appear to be better than they really are. Do you have anymore pics of him in different lighting conditions?
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Old 09-17-2011, 09:23 AM  
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Most people think that horses should be fat and roly poly, which is not good, but when you are used to looking at fat horses, it makes a non fat horse look much worse than they might be. In the picture you posted I can't see ribs, nor can I see hip bones sticking out. His hind end doesn't look too bad either. I can see that his neck is thin and that his top line is bony. I have an old horse that has the same issues, thin neck, prominent withers, jumper's bump and lack of definition in her hindquarters make her appear thin. She is also a TB and even in her best years never looked like my other horse who is a Quarter/Morgan. She is just not bred to be hefty like that.
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:42 PM  
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I agree with others that short little rides with a very petite rider will not hurt this horse. And it is tricky when you are comparing "apples to oranges" as far as what is normal weight wise. I have a friend whose horses are always over weight, but thinks mine are sometimes on the thin side. Which they are not.

If I had to choose healthwise for the horse, seeing some ribs is probably preferable to being overweight.
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:54 PM  
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His age is not that old. i was riding a mare until she was 34 sure a couple of times in the summer , made her feel like she was young again.
and in my opinion sure why not.
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Old 09-17-2011, 02:58 PM  
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I've certainly seem much thinner horses, and there is nothing wrong with her riding him. Don't make a big deal out of something when it's not a big deal. The horse has obviously put quite a bit of weight on, and at his older age certainly doesn't need to get fat. Like someone else said, so many people think a horse only looks healthy when it's overweight, and that is so not true.
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:33 PM  
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i vote for some better pics different angles an what not. personally it all depends on the condition of the horse, temperament, rider an how they are riding while the horse is thin. sooo better pics - different angles *hint hint*
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:06 AM  
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First of all, if the owner wanted to ride, she more than likely wasn't going to listen to your concerns.
My old barn always got remarkably skinny horses as lesson horses and wouldn't even let them gain weight before they were used in lessons and they were fine, they also were gaining weight while this happened.
I am a firm believer of padding if a horse is skinny but as long as he isn't that bad he should of been fine for a light ride.
I don't really think that he is very skinny but as lady blood rose said, that may just be the angle of the photo.
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:31 AM  
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From this picture he doesn't look that under weight,muscle loss yes.Also looks to maybe a saddlebred/pinto cross or tb/pinto,Pinto just being the color and can be any breed.With his body style/age he is going to look little thinner,high weithers.I don't think riding him would hurt him at all.Shes light weight,not running him,so no diference really then him walking around the pasture or playing on his own.Even with horses it probably would help his mind frame being used again,hers also.
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