Ill Thriftill thrift horse

Ill-thrift can be thought of as the opposite to obesity.

It too is very common and is where no matter how much good feed (costing a small fortune!) is consumed by the horse they don’t put on any weight. They remain ‘lean’ and have ‘no top-line’ despite hours of ‘good riding’.

Often there will be associated undesirable behaviours, either ‘running off’ all the time, being difficult to bend on circles or being dull and lethargic.

The above photo shows the classic ‘no top-line’ look of a horse suffering from ‘Ill-thrift’.


Guess What?

Ill Thrift

The same diet changes will work wonders on these horses too especially the addition of salt to the daily feed (rather than relying on a salt lick).
Many horses suffer from a long term, chronic lack of salt which creeps up on them over several years. When they lick the ground, chew on wood or your precious trees, eat their manure and lick your hands they are after only one thing and that is salt!



The presence of sufficient salt in the diet is as important to maintaining life as water.

For all the reasons outlined on this website it is not hard to see why domestic horses more often than not lack the vital electrolytes sodium and chloride which make up salt: primarily because of their chronically high potassium diets.


Achieving a Great Top-line

One thing is for sure this is not about shoveling in truckloads of feed. You can waste an awful lot of money doing that, as many of you have already found out!
When you feed the whole horse correctly, everything comes right, including top-line. The top-line of a horse is made up of big long muscles which need to be well nourished in order to be ‘plumped up’ to give the horse a good top-line.
The number one cause of a poor top-line is a chronic lack of salt This is because sodium is required to help transport nutrients, especially glucose, across the cell membrane. Without sufficient salt, the nutrients are not going to get where they need to go and no matter how much food you shovel in, the horse will not put on any weight.
To bulk up or repair muscle tissue which is essentially protein, many nutrients are required including amino acids which are the building blocks of this protein.
It is a mistake to think it is just about adding calories in the form of sugars, carbs and oils which, if this energy isn’t used up in exercise, will tend to make the horse fat and even metabolic. A metabolic or ‘cresty’ neck doesn’t constitute a ‘good top-line’. It is more about the total diet, ensuring there aren’t any deficiencies of essential nutrients which can sabotage all your efforts. These include vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids. New Premium MVA with added Amino Acids is designed to create great topline.
Anything that causes the horse to ‘switch on’ or CONTRACT the top-line muscles more than is required for normal movement, such as mineral imbalances, an ill fitting saddle, ‘driving’ with the seat, or a backward pull on the both reins, will cause the horse to brace ie TIGHTEN up the very muscles which we need to be in RELEASE mode as much as possible for the blood to be able to flow in with all the nutrients.
The muscle has two phases, when it is turned ON it CONTRACTS – or shortens, and all the blood is squeezed out. When it RELEASES – or relaxes, all the blood flows in, bringing with it all the nutrients required for proper muscle health and function.
So creating a top-line requires a combination of the right nutrition with the right riding!

PIC above is Posh. Photographed before Premium MVA and after. You can see both the difference in her coat colour and the improvement in her top-line.