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3 years ago

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Trying to save an old draft horse I've just rescued. He has virtually NO teeth. Pretty much unable to eat grain. what can I feed (please don't tell me warm bran mash) that'll nourish him? thinking of bran mash -- soak in corn or other oil? Thanks, kelly

NoraWI says 2016-03-30 06:24:15 (CST)

Why on earth are you "rescuing" someone else's old draft? It is a rather pointless gesture. He will not grow new teeth and won't get any younger. Have him put down humanely if you don't want to spend bundles of money and energy on feeding him a special diet. You just took on his former owner's responsibility. It is heartbreaking but should be done.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Andy Daniel says 2016-03-30 10:52:52 (CST)

Very well said Nora.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2016-03-30 15:16:57 (CST)

It's obvious Kelly has made a decision to rescue an old draft, so criticism is unhelpful, unkind, and uncalled for, especially when someone asks us all for help.

Kelly, we have a 31 year Appaloosa without much in the way of teeth and we feed him Nutrena SafeChoice Senior feed. It's fairly soft (almost cookie-like bits) and he can gum it for the most part. It also has a lot of molasses which makes it more palatable and is higher in fat. It may take him a while to eat, but he enjoys it and it keeps him healthy.

Good luck with your rescue. After a lifetime of labor, working equines deserve a life of retirement as long as they remain comfortable.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Koty says 2016-03-30 17:13:11 (CST)

Kellyintx........ I applaud what you are doing. These old horses deserve something better than a painful death, with nothing to eat. Sorry the other responders think you should be killing the horse.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-03-30 20:51:30 (CST)

I had to put down my almost 32 year old Belgian Charlie on New Year's Eve because he just didn't keep any weight any more despite all attempts with different feeds. The problem is not in the warm months, when the calories from grass( which is easier to chew) and pelleted feed( which will either have to be accompanied by a sufficient water intake - not all old horses drink enough- or will have to be fed as mash) will suffice. The real problem comes when it is cold over longer periods of time because then the horse keeps the body warm by digesting roughage . When a horse can't digest roughage any more, it will be really hard to maintain the right body temperature. That's when the body takes the necessary calories from breaking down muscle tissue and from quivering. Blankets can slow down the process but not prevent it.
In nature horses are doomed to a slow starvation unless they get killed by a predator, when they are in human care the caregiver has to make the decision how far and long one can go. While I applaud all efforts to rescue a horse, I also look at it from a realistic point of view and from the standpoint that the horse's needs come first.
In conclusion, if you are able to halt the natural starvation process for a while and give the horse a good life during that time, go for it, but if you see you cannot do it, think about the life quality for the horse. One also has to understand, that horses do have individual life spans and while one horse might hold out longer with the right care, another can't despite best efforts.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-03-30 21:15:54 (CST)

We had a very old pony once. My youngest son's first steed. She kept her weight on grass, but when winter came she struggled...until we started feeding her rabbit pellets.

Ask at your local feed mill, those guys are a wealth of information. If you only have the big farm stores to buy feed, read up on the labels so you can guide your purchase.

Old horses can be a drain on your wallet, but if you are okay with that, I guess that is all that matters.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

NoraWI says 2016-03-31 05:11:54 (CST)

In my defense, Kelly didn't seem to want to feed that horse any special soft diet so I think there was nothing inappropriate in my recommendation. Putting any old animal down is an act of kindness not abuse. Tearing it away from its accustomed home and giving it to someone else to care for, especially someone who doesn't seem to know what to do, IS abuse.

Just to keep things in proper perspective... I had a 28-year-old Appaloosa dumped on me quite a few years ago. Thinking the former owner would momentarily return for her (how naive!), I took care of her the same as all my other horses... vaccinations, teeth floated, hooves trimmed, copious amounts of proper feed, salt, grooming, etc. She lived here for 10 years and I finally had to put her down one day after Christmas that year at age 38 when she fell and it was impossible to get her up again. That said, all my horses are in their late teens and early to mid-20s now and I take care of them. But they are MY horses. It is MY responsibility to care for them for as long as they and/or I live. I abhor people dumping their old horses. Craig's List is full of older horses being "sold" for a pittance or for FREE. Totally unethical!

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2016-03-31 06:03:02 (CST)

I have a mule that is around 30. A couple of years ago I thought he'd never make it through another winter. I have to admit I'm kind of attached to him, so I looked around for something to put the weight back on him. I've been feeding Purina Equine Senior and he has fattened back up and is looking pretty good. I'm back to riding him from time to time and have put him back in harness with light loads now and then.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

hayburner says 2016-03-31 11:32:30 (CST)

hey Kelly - best wishes with your rescue - they can be hard to maintain, especially during cold weather. Nutrena Safe Choice has done well for my older guys and I add a generous amount of warm water to it to help insure they get enough water in their guts. I worry that your guy will not be able to manage hay which he needs on a daily basis when grass is not available. Perhaps someone on this forum has info about chopped forage - where to buy it or how to make it on your own. Sadly, you will at some point be faced with your responsibility to evaluate his quality of life and happiness but I wish you joy and peace for whatever time you have with him. Old horses, like old dogs, are often grateful for whatever you offer them. Good luck.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2016-03-31 14:58:22 (CST)

Our old guy has developed a "skill" of pulling hay out of the feeder, nosing it around a bit, and eating the chaff. That, combined with senior feed combined with softer hay (some his harder to chew than others) has let him keep his weight on through winter. I know we're all just making educated guesses since we don't know the draft horse in question and his true state of health, but equines are pretty smart and he may figure out how to get his calories if given the right options.

Anyway, its commendable you're trying. It might not work and you'll be faced with a difficult decision. Or you may just find he's got some good miles left in him. When we were "gifted" our older horse we figured he had a few months left. He was underweight, bad teeth, cancer, and was depressed. Well, now his weight his back on and, as far as he's concerned, he's herd leader. When we open new pasture up he's the first one to sprint out there as my drafts kinds of amble along to catch up.

Never write those seniors off!

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Barb Lee says 2016-04-01 18:25:37 (CST)

I have a 24 year old horse who, despite still having pretty good teeth and excellent dental care, has just decided he can't eat much long stem hay anymore. After some experimentation, we have presently settled on Standlee brand Alfalfa/Timothy CUBES. The cubes are a coarser chop than pellets, which will be the next step when he starts losing teeth. I soak the hay in COLD water sufficient to completely soften them. The mush is fed from a tub on the ground. These are Standlee's recommendations. The horse is thriving and loves the soaked cubes, which pretty much contain his major requirement for water each day. A friend of mine feeds her elderly Fjord soaked alfalfa and timothy pellets. He has NO teeth and is also thriving on mush and probably some type of senior feed.

If I may offer a compassionate note....I was given an ancient appaloosa a few years back. The mare was bonded to another horse in the barn she left. I had her for about two weeks during which time she pined away. I returned her to the former owner and when the two horses heard each other whinney, joy broke out everywhere and the old horse regained her will to live. An old horse removed from its home one...more...time...may die of a broken heart. It's something to be sensitive to. Good luck.


3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

NoraWI says 2016-04-02 07:58:11 (CST)

I would like to make a comment on the bonding issue. I have had heifers here (renting pasture), twins who were separated shortly after birth, who joyfully reunited and were inseparable during the entire summer. Several generations of cows have passed through my pastures over the years and I have noted the family lines because they "hang together," also share similar behaviors. I could immediately spot one family line because they were all "dancers." I had to be careful to keep out of the way of their "dancing."

My Quarter/Paint pony always bonds with the oldest horse here. She was at that old Appaloosa's side constantly and led her to whatever was appropriate... food or water or just sunshine. When the Appy died, she bonded with my Suffolk mare. The two would mutually groom out in the pasture... the Suffolk grooming the pony's back while the pony groomed the Suffolk's knees.

All my donkeys are bonded for life. There IS an "odd man out" gelding who plays with an older gelding and often follows the older mare and the gelding who is bonded with her. I have 5 donks and this one joined the group after he failed at guarding some milk goats so he is used to not being with other donks. But he wants to bond. It's just that there is no other "available" donk at this time.

We humans disregard the familial bonds that exist in all our domestic animals as though they were inanimate objects. Not being a bleeding heart here. Just pointing out something nice that years of observation have confirmed.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

kellyintx says 2016-04-02 20:11:42 (CST)

Thanks to all for the replies. Barb Lee, I appreciate your comments about bonding. I actually have his teammate too and they are like two peas in a pod. When I introduced these two new ones, they ALWAYS stayed together and turned their butts to defend each other until they were accepted. The teammate has better teeth, so he is just getting grain and pasture. Actually cows eat grass with no upper teeth, so I suppose to a certain extent old drafts can do that too.
NoraWI, I thank you for the suggestion of the Standlee cubes and soaking them in cold water.
Thanks to all for the nice responses. kelly

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2016-04-04 06:45:47 (CST)

I was talking to a neighbor this weekend about my old mule that I've been feeding the Equine senior. He had noticed that the old mule was starting to get "rolls" of fat on him. He's not over weight by any means, but he really is looking good. It's pretty amazing to think that a year ago I thought he wouldn't make it through another winter. I rode him in from the pasture a few weeks ago and he actually bucked, not seriously, but pretty good for a near 30 year old mule.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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