Hard Keepers and Seniors
There are a number of factors that can make a horse a “hard keeper.” In some cases, the horse is elderly and doesn’t have the chewing capacity it once did. Even with dental work, it can sometimes be difficult for these horses to properly masticate their food so that it can be digested and utilized optimally. In other instances, a horse may have higher caloric needs that are not being met or may have a metabolic disease. In yet other instances a horse can develop ulcers and not show any classic signs or symptoms. They may, however, not be able to digest their feedstuffs or may have less appetite.
Injuries and illnesses can also cause a once-thriving horse to become a “hard keeper”. Pain and immobility have a major impact on gut motility and can increase a horse’s chances of developing ulcers or other gastric issues.
Regardless of the reasons, the first line of defense against emaciation is for a horse to receive adequate nutrition. By fostering the gut flora and promoting a balanced pH, the gut lining will heal and be capable of absorbing more nutrients and allowing the horse to gain weight.