A Chunky Lil' Bastard

Before we get started, don't forget to go back to my last post and comment to be entered to win Dressage for the Not-So-Perfect Horse by Janet Foy. Drawing is this week!

When Bast moved in January, I had hopes we could put more weight on him. The care at this barn is far more hands on, and the pastures are well known for being highly nutritious. Pig never struggled to keep his weight high at this farm, and rarely needed much grain to supplement.
Who remembers this lard-butt from just before his retirement?
Last summer Bast never really lost a lot of weight, but he wasn't putting it on like he should. The quality of pasture at the other farm was not very good, and I knew that was the biggest reason he and Pig both were struggling. When Bast moved back, we worked hard to get weight on him over the winter months. He looked good, but still a little too ribby for my liking.
Bast, January 2019
By the time he was ready to transition back to field board in early March, Bast was beginning to build a lot of new muscle. However, his slightly rounder topline was not resulting in rib coverage yet.
February 2019
Honestly, Bast's weight has been pretty great for a young thoroughbred doing any sport other than dressage. At seven though, his dressage training is kicking up to the point where he needs to start packing on more collection supporting muscles. That does require a bit more "padding" than an event horse, for example. Thoroughbreds struggle enough to build muscle, there's no point in keeping them low on body fat while trying to increase muscle. So as the grass in field board began to come in, we persevered with the heavy feeding schedule for Bast.
March 2019
At the height of things, he was fed 8lbs of Ultium, a glug of Cocosoya oil, 2 lbs of Enrich (a ration balancer I feed for higher protein), and 2 lbs of beet pulp daily. Plus he was getting 1 lb of alfalfa when I rode and had access to unlimited hay/pasture. The horse was not hurting for calories. Still, he stubbornly refused to put on more rib coverage.

There's no substitute for forage with a thoroughbred. Overnight, the grass started peeking up and Bast's rib coverage started to develop. In mid April we dropped his grain down to 4lbs of Ultium and 1lb of Enrich daily to compensate. He was still getting 3/4lb of alfalfa when I rode.
Late April 2019, looking amazing.
The week before I left on a short trip, I realized Bast's neck was looking really thick. I wondered to myself if some of his issues with bend were because of the sheer thickness of his short little neck. Then he snatched a carrot from me easily in each direction, and I was sure he was fine.

When I next saw him, he had butt dimples.
The Chunker in action, late April 2019
The barn and I again dropped his grain, this time to 3 lbs of Ultium and 1lb of Enrich, still with the bit of cocosoya oil. Based on how little the grain did for his overall weight gain in the first place, I shouldn't be too worried about dropping him down more and more over the summer. I don't want the little guy to get obese.
The development of fat pads around his tail is concerning to me.
I've had this horse for a year and half, and this is the first time I've been happy with his level of weight gain. He's been so tough to keep weight on, and taken so much grain to look okay. Now I'm just not sure how to react.
May 11, 2019
The fat around his tail and developing back crease is helping me decide a plan of action. I'm looking at cutting his grain again, and possibly transitioning him over to senior or strategy feed instead of Ultium. He'll stay on the ration balancer forever, as I really love how that supports muscle development in my thoroughbreds. He gets a bit of alfalfa before/after every ride still, as that is in place to support his gastric health. I don't think a small amount of soaked alfalfa is truly adding to his #chunkstatus.
"Hey, who you callin' fat?"
Also part of the plan is an increased conditioning and riding schedule. Until now, Bast's rides have been short and sweet. Now we'll add in longer hacks and trot sets to help him build more fitness going into the summer months. He struggles with cardio fitness in the heat more than Pig ever did, so this will help with two issues. Hopefully his weight will stabilize, and his muscle and wind will build up more. I might be creating a monster here, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about it.
More butt divots than a hunter pony.
Now, to give Pig a month or two and see if he can transform from a scraggly shag elk into a beautiful chunky unicorn.


  1. I like mine a bit on the chunkier side too -- not an easy feat with Thoroughbreds, generally!

  2. check. his. apple. booty.


  3. Butt dimples on horses always make me laugh - not sure why lol

  4. There's nothing like good quality grass to give a horse what they need. I love his butt dimples.

  5. I have QHs, so I love me some big butts! Bast is lookin' super chunky and I like it! ;-) Can't wait to get my young guy out on grass, he is a bit ribby too (weird for a QH)

  6. Thanks for sharing your "beef up" regimen! I've never had a horse I needed to put weight ON before!

  7. He looks great - that's amazing progress from the first photos to the last! I have also struggled with weight with Jack, so I completely understand the struggle. And I *used* to struggle with that with Foster, but hell if that boy isn't looking like he's sporting a major beer belly these days.


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