Friday, December 18, 2009

Noble Isn't Right

Over the past several months, Noble, who is 29, has seemed increasingly not quite right. He's lost some weight - he usually loses some in the winter but this year he seems to have lost more, despite increased feed. He's now getting 3 lbs. of Purina Senior and 1/2 lb. Ultimate Finish a.m. and p.m., and essentially free choice hay 24 hours a day. He does have low thyroid, and we've started him on medicine for that - I'm hoping that's most of what this is and that within a week or two he will show some improvement.

Here he is last winter - his demeanor is bright and he's in good weight:

And here he is this year - he looks older and his weight isn't as good:

He spends more time just standing around in turnout - he does eat at the round bale, but less than he used to. When he comes in, he stands in his stall with his eyes half closed until feeding time. Until today, his normal routine at feeding time is to stick his head over his stall guard, bob his head up and down and nicker and pin his ears as his feed approaches. Today he was much more depressed and clearly thinking about other things. There were a few head-bobs - but in his stall as if something were bothering him - and some odd chewing - it was as if he had a bad taste in his mouth - and he didn't really perk up at feeding time, although he did deliberately eat his feed - but there was no nickering. His gut sounds were good, so I don't think it's colic. I took his temperature, and it was within normal range at 100.7. He was warm under his mid-weight blanket. At his age, he could go at any time, and I'm prepared for that, but I hope it's not yet. The vet is coming on Tuesday to recheck Blackjack's eye, and I may ask her to look at Noble and draw some blood so we can see if anything obvious is going on.


  1. I hope you get it figured out. :( Poor old man. Have you ever looked into supplementing with herbs.

  2. Kate;

    You're right about Noble. Even in his picture he doesn't look quite right. It may well be the thyroid problem..give it a week or two and on that much feed he ought to show considerable improvement if the medication and dosage are correct.

  3. I meant of course if the vet doesn't find anything wrong. Fenugreek can be used to stimulate appetite and improve condition. I used it last year to help Fred regain his sparkle.

  4. Kate ...I'm sure everyone has an idea for you and Noble. When I still had my 36 yo I found that soaked hay cubes worked very well. If he is not eating his hay, maybe he would like it. Also, does he get soaked beet pulp? Currently, I have a 30yo and and 29yo (she is on hay cubes pm but I also present her with the softest hay I have - 1 flake). During the day she eats hay outside with the others, but makes better use of the cubes. I sure hope his meds kick in. You are a good caretaker and very tuned in.

  5. There is a marked difference in the pictures, especially in his expression and his eyes. (I have to interject that I simply adore that picture of Noble at the round bale, the ears are so freaking cute). It may take some tinkering with the thyroid supplement. I asked Jason to chime in on the feed as well, it may be that the Senior isn't the right choice for him anymore, but then again maybe it still is. I don't want to type out a novel and hijack your comments with a lot of 'maybe this, maybe that' so I'll stop now!

  6. Kate;

    Sorry for the second post, but I had to think your blog through a bit before finding my wings...ahem.

    Soaked alfalfa cubes and beet pulp is de-rigeur for some of our elderly hard keepers to ensure they are getting enough forage. If you can soak it in hot water, just a few minutes will do the trick.

    Also, it may be an idea to investigate NSC contents of some feeds which are locally available to you other than Purina Senior, which despite the title is relatively high in NSC. I'm not going to preach the "low NSC for everybody" speech because I think it's often overdone and abused. Like all other nutrients, NSC as a source of energy is very necessary. But as horses age they sometimes exhibit symptoms of IR where none existed's happened here several times and it will happen again. Some of the Triple Crown products may be worth a look if they are available.

    Easy keepers often become harder keepers as they age and they often don't do it slowly. Three or four pounds of grain twice a day isn't uncommon for some horses on this farm. When we approach five pounds per feeding, we back it down by adding another feeding.

    We've run into that wall many times.

  7. I have nothing helpful to say other than we'll keep Noble in our thoughts. What a difference in just a year. I hope you can find the right approach...

  8. Sorry to here he isn't doing well.

    Three of our elderly geldings (all late 20s / early 30s) have had trouble keeping weight on this fall. Just had the vet out to do their teeth, and all three of them had a rotten tooth that needed to be pulled.

    Hopefully if your vet draws blood and takes a look at him you'll be able to figure out what's going on.


  9. Oh, no - I'm so sorry Noble's not feeling well. I'll be thinking of yall and wishing him the best.

  10. Jason - Thanks for your suggestions. Our local feed dealer carries Triple Crown - would you recommend the Senior or the Low Starch? He does eat a fair amount of hay - his teeth are actually in pretty good shape - I think he's only lost one and he gets checked twice a year. I've used beet pulp with him in the past as well, although he won't eat all that much of it.

  11. I'm afraid I don't have much to offer... I had an old guy that started losing weight in the summer and just got worse and worse as the weather got colder. We started feeding him a large coffee can of LMF Equine Senior with oil and Rice Bran (soaked in water) 3 times a day until he gained weight, then reduced it to 2 times a day for maintenance. It sounds like you're already doing that sort of thing...

    Do you think he's starting to kind of check out?

  12. That "odd taste in his mouth" is likely a broken/abscessed tooth. I bet the vet finds and removes the tooth and he perks up quickly. Good luck!

  13. OH NO! Poor baby! My friend added vegetable oil to her old horses feed--along with beet pulp, and since you add warm water to puff it up,it helps with hydration too-- to help with weight and warmth, etc. in the winter, BUT it does sound like a bit more than that eh? My prayers are with you....
    PS: I think you prob. know the above info., you take such excellent care of your horses, just wanted to help!

  14. I hope you get to the bottom of it Kate. Hopefully it is just a bad tooth and he will feel much better once it's dealt with.

  15. Poor Noble. I have nothing to add but prayers and good thoughts. All your horses are fortunate to be owned by you. You will take the very best care of Noble that you can and he surely senses that.

  16. Sorry Noble isn't feeling well. I'll pray for him.

  17. I'm not Jason but I am sure he suggested Triple Crown simply because it is usually widely available and they have some low NSC options to choose from. As you know we feed a locally milled complete feed and it is 9% NSC, 6% fat, 12% protein and has a nice vit/mineral profile as well (most are in the chelated form). I said to Jason that it might be worth a shot for you to change from the Senior to something low NSC just to see if it helped since you had mentioned some possible IR signs. He didn't say anything in his first comment as he said he didn't know what feeds you have access to but I encouraged him to come back and mention it.

    I can't recall off the top of my head what the stats are on all of the TC products but I think either TC Complete, TC Low Starch, or TC Senior might all be worth looking into. Of course you may have other product lines woth looking into that are easily available as well. I know Purina has the Wellsolve (or some name like that) that is their low NSC option but I don't know if it is a complete feed and again I don't recall the actual NSC perecentage off the top of my head. For the seniors I strongly prefer to stick with a complete type feed if possible. Purina Senior is a good feed and we've used it, but it is fairly high NSC and if there are any IR possibilities with Noble it might not hurt to try a feed change.

    Sorry for this very long post. . .

  18. Aww, poor noble, he reminds me so much of my old guy. After the vet sees him, my suggestion for feed, if it's available, is something called Integrity. I mix their senior with their low starch (the low starch has an 8% fat content) and to that I add a scoop of rice bran and soak in hot water... has made a huge difference for my old guy. Good luck.

  19. Poor old man, I hope the thyroid meds kick in soon and you find a feed that will fatten him up. It's so hard to watch the old fellows decline.

  20. i'm no expert on reading horses' expressions, but i am learning. i know that i have never seen a more sour look on baasha's face as this week, in the snow. he looked so miserable, so grouchy, and all he had to do was stand around in his stall and eat and drink, not work. i have no idea why it affected him like that. his face as so negative.

    i think their expressions change so often, like noble looks so OK at his feeder, and so worried at that next photo, but that is just a normal "what's gonna happen?" look, IMO.

    unless that look was out of place for him at that time, i wouldn't worry. but i guess you posted it cuz it *was* unexpected.

    i sure hope this turns out well.


  21. I'm sorry to hear about Noble. I've been there with old horses. When I was eight, my parents bought a 32 year old mare as our first horse. We figured we'd get a few years from her. Well, she lived for another ten years!

    The lack of interest could mean several things. My first inclination is to think of the teeth. Often, older horse's teeth fall out. This process can be itchy and painful, especially if hay, grain and other things get jammed in the horse's gums and get infected.

    Also, older horse's gums can loosen, again allowing hay and grain to get impacted. Often, the horse's breath smells bad and sometimes you'll see thick nasal discharge in one nostril. They're usually interested in the thought of eating, but once food is in front of them they're very careful about chewing and slow.

    I hope Noble feels better soon!


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