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Old 02-03-2008, 10:44 AM  
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Question Starved horses, Judging Weight Gain

This is directed to anyone who has experience with putting weight on a starved horse. My vet told me to use a weight tape, weekly, to check on weight gain. The tape is showing practicly nothing and yet there are other positive signs. Does this mean that weight tapes really aren't of use in this situation?
I have had to let out the belly straps on her blanket a little, a few times; The area directly above the hip bones is flat (not spine sticking up!!) for about a 6 inch stretch, and The bone that feels like it is sticking out in the middle of her chest is getting some meat around it.
Are those typical areas of gain? Is this what you have found when putting weight on a starved horse. Is a weight tape of any use at all at this point?
When does a weight tape actually help?
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Old 02-03-2008, 11:12 AM  
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From my understanding the backbone and ribs are the last to fill. The fleshy areas, the rump, chest and belly start first. I know when my horse started to go down hill the ribs and back were the first to show problems. Weight tape would not be as accurate on a skinny horse.
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Old 02-03-2008, 11:51 AM  
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Sorry, but your vet is wrong. Weight tapes are calibrated to estimate the weight of an "averge" horse. They are not accurate in many cases, including overly muscular horses, lighter breed horses that have normal heart girths, and on overly fleshy (fat) horses. Even conformational differences can throw them off.

Remember, the rib cage doesn't itself change - only the flesh or fat covering it. Some horses can go up or down 200 pounds with little or no difference showing up on a weight tape.
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Old 02-03-2008, 12:01 PM  
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The weight tape didn't help with my TB either, but I could look at her and see the difference in the same ways that you are, around the backbone and the hip area first. Then her chest and neck, I can still see ribs, but not as many and that is a breed characteristic. Sounds to me like you're doing a good job getting weight on. You have to remember it takes more time to put it on than it takes to lose it. Too bad that isn't the same with people
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Old 02-03-2008, 12:05 PM  
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I agree with Faceman and Hores Poor in my experience look to the chest and rump for the first signs of wieght gain once they fill in next will be the rib and toptine then the neck I don't even bother with weight tape on the really skinny ones I just take pictures form week to week and look them over good to make sure they are fleshing out
Best of luck too you and let us know how she's doing
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Old 02-03-2008, 12:35 PM  
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Thanks, that's really good information!!
I am trying to be carefull not to put weight on too fast, causing the problems, like colic. I've wanted to get her to a gain position and ease up until if or when she needed more. The last thing I want to do is hurt her by pushing too hard!!!
I'll have to start using the picture idea. Just looking at her didn't seem to help much, I can only tell by feeling. I do realize it can be harder to see changes when seeing the horse, or anything on a daily basis. The pictures are a great idea!! Thank you so much!!!
I have taken on horses in very poor condition before. Just not quite this bad or frequently enough to be familiar with all the ins and outs.
I am so very grateful to have you all to ask questions to! You are the very best!!!
I will eagerly accept any advise you can offer!!
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:14 PM  
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Well, WE dont see her everyday, so if you start posting pics, same angle, same distance, we can probably tell if she is gaining weight. And, we all know you know how to post the pics....
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:25 PM  
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I would keep a log of pictures with dates and descriptions of various body areas and the changes you see.

You would be able to note things like "eyes are less sunken" "coat is much thicker" "coat has become shiny" "you can't hang your hat on her hip bones anymore" "Ribs are filling in".

This becomes especially important when some well-meaning idiot reports you to animal control because you are starving your horsie. If you can document the horse's progress, and especially if your vet will make notes on your health log, you can tell those people to go to some very warm places.
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:35 PM  
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Pictures taken at the same angle were the way I kept up with weight gain and changes.

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Old 02-03-2008, 05:00 PM  
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Jules...really nice pix showing great changes!

Sundance.....I just want to add, don't overfeed....start with little rations for a long while and gradually over time, build up her rations....what she gets from you is way more than she has gotten obviously...

Organ mass and internal structures gain weight first so a big belly will most likely be what you see, then as others have stated, the topline, hips and shoulders will fill in....you should see a good bit of a difference within 4 months.....and I agree with the pictures at the same angles for reference in case of anyone's notion to be a good-hearted citizen turns you in...keep track of everything you feed, ferrier work, vet relations, concerns, meds, wormers, etc.

Spring is on it's way so, you'll have that fresh grass to look forward to and get her looking great....but when the time comes, if you have large pastures with very lush grasses, you may not want to let her graze continually for months or even a year or so until she becomes able to handle the nutrients.

Good luck with her, do you have any pictures yet?
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Old 02-03-2008, 05:01 PM  
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WOW, Jules! What a great job you did with that poor horse! Good for you!
And those pics do indeed show progress, thats awesome. Thanks for sharing, that should really help SM with Charger.
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Old 02-03-2008, 05:21 PM  
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Jules, you sure turned that horse into a beauty.
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Old 02-03-2008, 07:59 PM  
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Nice job! She has come along way. The rescues I have done always fill out after they gain some weight back. I was told it is because the body uses up the muscle tissue when it is starved and the muscle has to rebuild its self. She looks great. It takes at least 8 months I have found.
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Old 02-03-2008, 10:55 PM  
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IMG]'ll try to put 2 photos here of before I brought her home.
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Old 02-03-2008, 11:00 PM  
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Ok, here is 1 photo I took of her before I brought her home
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Old 02-03-2008, 11:01 PM  
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Here is the other one.
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Old 02-03-2008, 11:03 PM  
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The most recent is only 6 days later, at my place.
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Old 02-03-2008, 11:13 PM  
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Now I have to use up a roll of film in order to get a disc. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and let me get some really good shots tomorrow!! At least now I will not only repeat what is there to compare with, but also be able to look at the areas that will change first.
Then getting the film developed to get the disc, then the time it takes to load onto photobucket with my wonderful dial-up!!!

It will take some time, but know that I am working on it. Don't give up!!!!!
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:42 AM  
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Just wondering how Charger girl is doing!?
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Old 02-09-2008, 09:38 AM  
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Charger is still coming along, slowly but surely. It would be easier to see without that heavy winter coat! She seems to have become boss in her little herd of three.
I finally got down to Orchlins on Thurs. What they had the most of was empty areas on the shelves! The markers said Alfalfa Cubes and Alfalfa Chops. What are Chops? I haven't been as concerned since being able to find weight gain on Charger. As long as she is gaining well, I don't want to throw alot more on her and over do it! I'll add a little alfalfa, when I can find it though.
I am working on the pictures!!
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