It’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 months since that balmy December day when Snow Angel entered our lives here at Race2Ring. Despite her strong will the shape she was in had us all wondering if she’d survive the winter, yet here it is summer now and she is a healthy, vibrant horse! Snowy has been in her foster home for just seven weeks now, and in walking down to the pasture to visit her yesterday her foster mom was expressing her concern that Snowy may have done some backsliding with her weight. Although she was full of energy she had taken a dislike to her Chaffhaye and soaked alfalfa, because of her teeth she had trouble grazing, and there was only so much concentrated feed her small body could take. She was just worried that Snowy had not only stopped gaining weight but may have lost a little bit. However when I laid eyes on the feisty old mare I saw a different story! It had been nearly three weeks since my last visit (when I helped her mom give Snowy her first soapy bath), and I saw more of a rounded tummy and barely a hint of ribs.

Snowy eagerly trotting off to visit with buddies after her first “soapy” bath

Rehabbing a starved elderly horse is extremely tough on many levels, one being that older horses take a lot longer to put weight back on, and due to their inability to process protein and build muscle as well as in youth, some may never develop a rounded topline. In addition, loss of teeth and dental neglect make it harder for the elderly to process fiber, which is the mainstay of a horse’s diet and accelerates weight gain. And lets face it, some older horses can be downright difficult, often refusing to eat what caretakers say is good for them, just like older humans!  So for the rehabbers it may seem like an uphill battle bringing an older horse back to perfect health, with very little instant gratification. Also when you see your horses daily, it can often be hard to “see the forest through the trees” – this goes for both weight gain and weight loss. So even when dealing with healthy horses we always have a second set of eyes looking at our horses every month – whether it be our farrier, vet, nutritionist, or just a board member who doesn’t see the horses on a daily basis. It’s always good to get another opinion on your horse’s condition from someone who doesn’t see him or her daily.

Snowy is super happy in her new home!

In response to Snowy’s lack of interest in certain feeds, her foster mom (who is  incredibly knowledgeable in equine nutrition) has tried a few things to help increase palatability and find what feeds Snowy would prefer. She has changed brands of alfalfa cubes and is feeding them in cold rather than hot water. She also has switched Snowy from her Lo Carb pellets to Progressive Nutrition’s Senior feed – while a little lower in fiber the Senior is a bit more dense and has a different flavor and texture, which so far Snowy seems to enjoy. She is also getting a super condensed vitamin/mineral/protein supplement – Pro Add Ultimate – that will give her the nutrients she needs in a more concentrated form. This change was of course done gradually, and so far Snowy seems to approve!

While she still has a long way to go to be at her “ideal” weight, our Snow Angel has made a miraculous recovery in just 6 months. She is gradually becoming worm-free and gaining weight. As she puts on some muscle she is moving a lot more comfortably, and has been seen running across the pasture to greet new horses over the fence (or attack the neighboring mini-donkey!). She is full of vim and vigor, and she is oh so loved – and Race2Ring is proud to announce that her foster mom is officially adopting her!