Ribby Race Filly

How can an owner help a ribby but successful racehorse gain weight, and what might be behind the filly’s body condition? Our source shares some thoughts.
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Ribby Race Filly
A veterinarian might perform a physical exam to make sure an underlying condition is not causing a horse to lose weight. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse

Q. My question regards my American Quarter Horse Association race filly. She is a recent stakes winner and is running well. She has always been a “nervous Nellie” when stalled and greets anyone who approaches with ears laid back, although never bites and comfortably accepts treats. She is not a cribber or weaver, but is a stall walker. My concern is her weight. Her ribs show. I believe she should carry at least another 100 to 150 pounds. Her bloom is good, however. She eats well and receives pelleted grain and good alfalfa hay. My trainer gives her ulcer medication (not sure of the exact kind), Adequan, Bone Builder, and Gastroease.

Do you have any suggestions for tests or other potential treatments for her? Some of this problem could be hereditary because I’m told her sire had some of these same issues.

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Written by:

Janice L. Holland, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Director of Equine Studies at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. A graduate of both Penn State and Virginia Tech, her equine interests include nutrition and behavior, as well as amateur photography. When not involved in horse activities she enjoys spending time outdoors enjoying nature.

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