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Candy

Fat mares- big bellies

I have 2 Appy mares that have big bellies (1 is Appy & something else)
one I know as been pregnant many times the other I think has
both were 300-400 pounds under weight when they were rescued about 4 years ago (not together then)

wondering about opinions on 2 questions
#1 I think their big bellies might be partially due to being pregnant so many times (1 was lots for sure)

#2 if a horse has been starved do you think it is possible that once they get fed, their metabolism adapts to hang on to all the weight they can?

both have leg problems from old injuries that limit  heavy exercise but they are not in stalls... are free fed bermuda & wander 3 .5 acres... on the move most of the day as we feed all over the place (Paddock Paradise) - no grain - only hay- still look a little prego... no fat neck - can feel ribs if I PUSH

ideas?
PasoBaby_CarolU

To answer your first question...No, I don't think having foals leaves mares prone to 'hay bellies".    This mare has had two foals:



This mare is her close cousin.  She has had no foals.  



Rosie does slim down and loose her belly later in the spring as she is ridden and exercised more.  

To answer your second question...No, I don't believe so.  I have two rescues here that were VERY skinny when I got them...Buddy you could count his ribs and vertebrae from about 20 feet away.   Both horses hold their weight the same as my others, get in (or out of) shape, when the others do.  

A hay belly is a sign of a high fiber diet.  It, in and of itself, is not a problem for the horses, but look for fat deposits elsewhere...behind the shoulders, crest of the neck, tail dock.   If the horse has fat in these areas, then they need more exercise and less food.  It doesn't have to be hard exercise, just more.   You might try grazing muzzles for part of the day.
cheerios

Candy-- do you have any photos?
Candy

no I don't have photos that show bellies
but that is a good idea

they don't have fat deposits any place
spine is very visable
One did have fat 2 years ago (had been on alfalfa) but that is gone now since we have had her

muzzel won't matter as there is no grass... AZ mountains
I have considered putting one in the round pen for a few hours a day though
but as she gets better & can exercise more, I think she'll be doing better

My thought about lots of babies comes from my own experience
5 kids does a number on the belly... I'm pretty sure this mare has had very very many
was preg with a foal at her side when she was rescued i her teets are even saggy
Pyrgirl

I guess I would disagree a little with Carol this time.  Regarding bellies from having babies, it would depend on the horse just like it depends on the person.  Some women have babies and their body goes back into shape nicely.  Some have babies and no matter what they do, the evidence is still there.  Probably the same with horses.

Also, concerning the starvation changing your metabolism so that your body hangs onto food, that is also a possibility.  It does work that way for humans.  There are diets out there that address this very problem (for humans).  Again, I would think it would be the same for horses.

Also, I have two dogs - sisters - get fed the same amount daily.  One is fat on that amount and one is quite skinny and even on the edge of being too thin.  Go figure.  Same amount of exercise, etc.

So, I guess I'm saying that what you've guessed may be true, but what Carol said also may be true.  Depends on the horse.
ElaineC

My young horse had a big hay belly, from the time she was a yearling.  Even when she was in a nice weight going by the feel of ribs, she looked pregnant.  I put her on probiotics when I found a reference to them helping with hay belly, and within 3 weeks had to shorten her blanket straps by almost 18" each.  I took her off probiotics this spring, she's regained a bit of hay belly but nothing like she had, and if anything she's got more covering her ribs than before.

I'd suggest trying probiotics based on what I saw with my horse.  It won't hurt, and in Cappy's case it really did work.
Autumn

Big bellies can come from being wormy too.
Elaine, interesting about the probios!
ElaineC

Autumn wrote:
Big bellies can come from being wormy too.
Elaine, interesting about the probios!


I found it very interesting!  I would not have thought it would work, and tried it as a longshot.  For the first time ever, my filly suddenly looked sleek, and not like she had a wormy gut / hay belly.  Even though she's been off probios for several months, she has not regained her hay belly.  Well, ok, she has but it matches the rest of her LOL and its not much of one.
Pyrgirl

ElaineC wrote:
Autumn wrote:
Big bellies can come from being wormy too.
Elaine, interesting about the probios!


I found it very interesting!  I would not have thought it would work, and tried it as a longshot.  For the first time ever, my filly suddenly looked sleek, and not like she had a wormy gut / hay belly.  Even though she's been off probios for several months, she has not regained her hay belly.  Well, ok, she has but it matches the rest of her LOL and its not much of one.
 The probios thing is interesting and makes sense to me, too.  Which ones did you use?
ElaineC

I used the one Herbs for Horses produces, here in Ontario.  There's several out there, this one just happened to be convenient for me.
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