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Discussion on Free Choice Grass Hay

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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 433
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Saturday, Oct 14, 2006 - 8:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi, Dr.O. as you know I am always battling the bulge, with my easy keepers. They are still too fat, but have dropped out of the obese category anyway! We warded off any founder this year, which makes me very happy. I have all grass hay for them this winter, which I have started feeding, they also have a little grazing, but not much left. I picked up about 75 bales of hay from a farmer this summer, that had about 1/2 in. rain. He got it good and dry and the quality is o.k. I have read that rained on hay, has less nsc's and of course vitamins, which at this time of year I am not concerned, as they are still grazing. The hay is not dusty, or green. The pasture they are in at night is completely gone. Could I feed this hay free choice, to fat horses? I do like them to have something to munch on, that is why I bought this hay, for a filler when it's cold, and this time of year when they don't need alot of extra calories. They each get about 1/2 lb. of light balance pellets a day also. So Dr.O. do you think it's possible to feed fat horses free choice grass hay?
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
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Username: Dro

Post Number: 16853
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Oct 14, 2006 - 10:54 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yes it is possible but it has to have a low enough energy content while the diet is providing adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals. Hays this poor are too deficient in protein and vitamins. You may be able to balance all of this with very high protein supplement (calf manna) and vitamins but to make it come out right you will have to run analysis on your hay to do it.
DrO
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 434
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Saturday, Oct 14, 2006 - 11:21 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Dr.O. this is not hay for the winter, I have good quality 2nd crop, for when the grass is completely gone. This hay is for a filler, just to have something to munch on. I'd like to feed them this free choice this winter, along with their good hay. Their lite balance pellets have a good vitamin and protein count 14% protein I believe, also in the winter months they receive a good vitamin supplement. I just am afraid even with this poor quality hay, the fatsos will gain weight. I guess all I can do is try it and keep a weight tape handy.
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1424
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Sunday, Oct 15, 2006 - 10:20 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Diane and Dr. O,

My friend had a heck of a time with her fat horses...really fat, cresty necks, problems with founder, everything.

She started free feeding them and she said now they aren't fat anymore! Could this really be? (She moved 3 states away) I'm wondering how long it would take before they evened out and started losing weight... I plan on trying this starting in March when I can (hopefully) keep my horse in work to help him out, if this is truly a viable conclusion.

Thanks in advance, sorry if I hijacked Diane!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
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Username: Dro

Post Number: 16864
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Oct 16, 2006 - 6:58 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Free feeding what Aileen?
DrO
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 437
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Monday, Oct 16, 2006 - 7:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Aileen, I have tried given my horses, big round bales of hay. It was stored inside, was pure grass, of which I would call decent quality. They kept their heads in them bales and never came up for a breath. They got terribly fat that winter, and one foundered in Dec. It was the last time I did that! I suppose it really depends on the hay, and the horse.
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1426
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Monday, Oct 16, 2006 - 10:45 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sorry Dr. O, timothy hay ... but Diane's story has put me off that idea!!
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Kim
Member
Username: Twhgait

Post Number: 86
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 - 10:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I actually read about this on an equine nutrition website/message board (let me know if you want the link DrO). The purpose of the free choice GRASS hay, even for obese equines, is the same as humans. The point of giving free-choice is to stop the body from going into "starvation" mode, hence storing fat for those times of no intake. The purpose was to convince the body to avoid storing as much fat. The horse, in theory, then looses weight, despite the free choice hay.

I also am dealing with two obese mares. I started a thread on my pacing mare, who starts to pace about 2-4 hrs before meals. I have them cut back on hay as far as I dare because of my yearling pastured with them and still no weight loss is noticable. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this DrO!
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Diane Edmonds
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Username: Scooter

Post Number: 439
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 - 11:16 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Kim, I have read that also. I do know that the only time my horses didn't gain weight with free choice hay, was when the quality was very poor i.e. very stemmy and brown. I have tried giving them good quality, pure grass hay free choice, over the years. It just hasn't worked for me, They get extremely fat. In turn, I believe it causes my spring founder episodes. Last year I gave them good quality hay at 1.5% of their body weight and a vit. min. supplement. They lost some weight and I had no founder! An old timer once told me if you feed good quality hay and meet their nutritional requirements, they won't be hungry, I found that to be mostly true, and I think it makes sense.

The reason I overfeed is for me and not them. They will eat anything I put in front of them, hungry or not! So I cut back and the fattys survived just fine
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Kim
Member
Username: Twhgait

Post Number: 87
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 - 2:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

LOL Diane, I do that too! I walk out there...see the poor little looks on their faces, hear the nickers....and throw out more hay!! (Well, it's funny till they founder!!)

My hay is pretty good this year (what's not moldy, anyway), so that's why I'm not doing free choice either. If the baby wasn't out with the two of them, I swear they'd survive off a couple flakes a day!
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 440
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 - 4:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Kim, mine start crying for food when they see the lights go on in the house, in the morning. In the summer if they hear my voice thru the windows, they start crying, geees they are on grass then.

I almost hate to walk out the basement door in the winter, The horses start crying, the dogs start barking, and the cows start bellering. I don't know which is worse. When I look out the window at sunrise all the animals are staring at the house, just waiting.
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Angie
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 820
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 - 5:10 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've heard that if your horses have hay left after 3 hours that they have been given too much to begin with. Of course that would be high quality hay, not the half brown stuff I am stuck with this year. And that would be 2 feedings a day.

I always took that with a grain of salt because I've lived in areas with severe winters and had to have hay in front of them almost constantly for 4-5 months a year.

DrO,

A Question:
(hope you don't mind my hi jack, seemed to fit in this discussion Diane)

Does the brown grass have fiber content at least? I believe it is orchard grass that was left on the field from last summer. Lot's of farmers up here only do one crop of hay, and it was so dry last year.

Looks like a lot of us are adding extras to balance out the diets this year.

BTW, my horses are in good shape, or heavy
too, but it's a challenge to keep the fiber, the vitamins and boredom licked.

(only the question was suppose to be in bold, sorry)
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Shirley A. Johnson
Member
Username: Shirl

Post Number: 408
Registered: 2-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 - 5:30 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Angie,
Thanks for the above regarding the "brown junk"! Now I know why the last batch of hay I got was absolutely horrible. Some new, most of it brown like straw and at $12.65 a bale, it's disgusting. And==I also wonder if it is of any nutritional value.
Shirl
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1428
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 - 6:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Diane, you had my laughing out loud...the horses in my barn do the same thing, stare intently at the house until they see movement then start saying "good morning...what took you so long??"

Angie, my horse is finished eating in 45 minutes. I'm going to talk to my vet about the free feed thing, but I'm afraid he'll say no way.

Kim, would you mind sending me the website addy for the equine nutrition group? adalen@m-w-h.com.

It's odd to me that I can feed him 8 pounds of timothy a day, but when I was feeding orchard grass I could only feed 5 pounds or he'd go right back to 1190 pounds in a week!

I'm afraid I'm missing something here...
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 441
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 - 7:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Aileen, my vet laughed right in my face when I inquired about free choice hay. He helps keep me on the right track anyway. From past experience, I do know they can have as much as the brown stemmy stuff they want. That's why I purposely bought the rained on stuff, just as a filler. When it gets below 10 degrees, I up them to pretty much free choice good hay. As soon as the temperature goes up their hay goes down. That worked very well last winter. The rained on stuff is to hopefully cut boredom and quit staring at the house
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Angie
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 821
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 - 9:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Shirley,

How MUCH a bale???? Holy Wah!!!

I am sure the brown don't have any nutritional value, I just hope the rest of it does. I am surprised the horses are even eating it being what is/was green doesn't look the best either with the dry summer we had 2nd year in a row.

Apparently the alfalfa died off last winter so I have pretty much a grass hay with a tad of alfalfa and timothy. And it was overpriced for our area I thought at $2.00 a bale!

I have always maintained 4 horses on 2 bales a day, with a 3rd bale put out on really cold days. I am upping the grain slowly, and crossing my fingers that they look good and stay healthy til spring grass. Of course the spring pastures may be iffy too.
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Shirley A. Johnson
Member
Username: Shirl

Post Number: 409
Registered: 2-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 12:54 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yes, Angie - over $12 a bale for Bermuda here in sunny Arizona! I purchased 4 bales of Bermuda and 2 bales of alfalfa/bermuda mix and it was $89 something, which included a $7 delivery fee for a 2 mile delivery. ACK is right.
Shirl
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KATHLEEN WHEAT
Member
Username: Kathleen

Post Number: 420
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 1:09 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

We pay $12.00 for alfalfa from New Mexico and $10.00 for coastal hay grown within an hour of here. But our supplier is very consistent and even through the winter, has pretty good hay.
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 442
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 6:57 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

My rained on hay was 75 cents a bale and my good stuff was $1.25 but I help the farmer put straw in his barn, otherwise it would be $2 a bale.

We have our own hay ground, but my husband planted it in all alfalfa for the cows. He still hears about that!
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Linda S.
Member
Username: Banthony

Post Number: 182
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 8:30 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Last week I paid $16.75 for a bale of orchard alfalfa. I just give my horse 1 flake at night with his other hay - peanut at $9.50/bale.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 16883
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 11:09 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

We discuss relative nutritional values of different quality hays in the article on forages. Horses are able to consume their daily needs in about 6 to 8 hours of eating so 3 hours is a bit low if that is all they have access to.
DrO
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Angie
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 825
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 11:51 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr.O, that was 3 hours twice a day, a.m. and p.m. feedings.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 16889
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 6:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I understand Angie but if you put out 6 hours of hay at one time that woule be fine at least from a being able to consume the required nutrients in a day. Of course the horse would prefer to eat 16 hours a day.
DrO
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1430
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 7:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Dr. O, according to your calculations, my horses' ideal weight is 1044.9, that means he still needs to lose 116.10 pounds. Also by your calculations, I should be feeding him 15.68 pounds of hay per day, not the 8 pounds of hay I'm feeding him now. He does get two pounds of grass hay pellets in his pasture pal, so that would be 10 pounds total per day.

I completely realize that this is a general guideline and that all horses are different, but I was wondering that (seeing as how my horses' exercise is STILL not able to be consistent) what your suggestion would be for me and my boy. I've updated his diet in my profile.

As of right now, he only eats about 2 hours a day, nothing in pasture for him to nibble on.

Thanks in advance!
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 443
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 8:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Aileen, He don't look fat in your profile pic. (if that's him).
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1431
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2006 - 11:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

LOl, Diane, that was in the good ol days when I could *really* ride him...2003 I think... I keep that picture in there to help me to think positive :-)

His looks are deceiving...He has fat on his tailhead, behind the shoulders, can't feel his ribs (well, except the fat between his ribs :-) ) Depending on how he stands, he has a dip where his spine is...

With his feet and djd/arthritis issues, vet wants him at no more than a 5... I just don't know how to feed him anymore... I'm tired of feeding him like a pony.

I brought him out tonight to walk him and he was good to a point, checked him for heat and he has a lot of heat (no swelling) right hind just below the stifle and on the left hind same spot but not as bad...




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Patricia K. Wilt
Member
Username: Patricia

Post Number: 15
Registered: 2-2000
Posted on Thursday, Oct 19, 2006 - 12:52 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Have you considered using a grazing muzzle? Most folks consider them only in the spring or early summer, but I have used them during the summer and into the winter when the boarding facility was offering free choice hay. Believe me, they learn how to eat hay through a muzzle. It allows them to feel as if they are muching freely, but limits the amount of hay the actually eat.
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 444
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Thursday, Oct 19, 2006 - 7:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well Aileen he does look like mine. A little on the chunky side. Feeding these easykeepers is quite a challenge, if you want to meet nutrition and keep them from getting terribly bored! I hope my rained on hay helps with this. I do ride him when possible, but it is not enough.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 16893
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Oct 19, 2006 - 10:32 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Aileen I have not said that there is an ideal calculated weight nor is there any calculation for feeding that applies to all horses. The goal in feeding horses is simple: you feed a horse not to obtain some calculated number but to maintain a particular condition. I agree with Diane that from the image above the condition looks pretty good, maybe a 5.5 but images can be deceiving. If you will repost your question in a new discussion I would be glad to review your diet and make suggestions.
DrO
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1432
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, Oct 19, 2006 - 11:01 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sorry Dr. O, I should know better, will repost. My apologies Diane! Your boy is beautiful :-)
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ellen hansen
Member
Username: Ellen66

Post Number: 7
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Thursday, Oct 19, 2006 - 11:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I think grazing muzzles are god's gift to easy keepers. We have a few easy keepers in our herd, and since we use grazing muzzles to reduce their calory intake, things are "shaping up". I don't know about using them for eating their hay, and I wouldn't want to have them on the horse all the time, as these muzzles are heavy and the halter needs to be snug, also the safety consideration.

The way we do it right now is that I have a couple of small feedings of grass hay for all the horses moring and noon, then I bring out the big portion of hay while the easy keepers get their muzzles on. After that everybody goes out on the field for 8 hours (more for exercise than food value, as we are close to having snow up here. The muzzle keeps them occupied, even if they don't really get much caloric intake.

Cheers, Ellen
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Diane Edmonds
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Username: Scooter

Post Number: 447
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Friday, Oct 20, 2006 - 1:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Ellen, grazing muzzles are great, except one can get it off, and the other loses his mind in it. My 3 are all easy keepers so they are fed the same, which helps. If I ever owned a hard keeper, or even a normal keeper, I wouldn't know what to do for feed. I think I finally, after may years, and much help, have the fatsos
figured out.

Once in awhile they try to throw a screw at me, but figuring out their triggers has helped. One can't tolerate clover, or lush grass, the other it's alfalfa, go figure. Both have a weight they can not go over or they start getting sore, I know those weights now, and weight tape weekly.
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Ellen H.
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Username: Ellen66

Post Number: 13
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Friday, Oct 20, 2006 - 1:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Diane, good for you that you figured out how to manage your horses.

Just curious - why and how does the other horse "lose its mind" over it?

Cheers, Ellen
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Diane Edmonds
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Username: Scooter

Post Number: 449
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Friday, Oct 20, 2006 - 2:15 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Ellen he runs around the pasture like a raving maniac, then throws himself on the ground, gets up and does it again. A temper tantrum I suppose, but I was worried he would work himself into a colic.

Managing these type of horses is easier than I make it, I just have a hard time not over feeding. It is getting easier, now that they are perfectly sound, that in itself is a great motivator. I have my weak moments and that's when I leave the property!
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 458
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Monday, Oct 30, 2006 - 11:13 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi, Dr.O. just thought I would let you know the fat horses are not gaining weight on this hay (free choice) and they lick it all up! They still have a little grass to graze. Soon I will be adding the good hay to the mix and hopefully their nutrition level will be o.k. with their lite balance pellets.

I wish I would have got more of the rained on hay to keep them busy, maybe next year I can find more. Thanks
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 468
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006 - 8:40 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well the weight tape came out yesterday and the little pigs ARE gaining weight, so no more free choice hay for them. I guess it isn't possible for my easykeepers.
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Cheryl Kallenbach
Member
Username: Cheryl

Post Number: 213
Registered: 2-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006 - 9:37 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Diane - both Fox and Robbie take a deep breath and gain 10 pounds. They have been getting six feedings a day since July - 5 feedings at 2 pounds and 1 at night of 5 pounds. Fox managed to lose about 100 pounds - Robbie is staying just about the same. There is not one stem of hay left over - and they act like they are starving to death - Robbie and I go round and round about my space and what he can and can't do with it. I would love to feed them free choice - it just won't work. Robbie was starved for the first 5 years of his life. I'm sure he is convinced the hay is going to end at any moment and he has to glom down as much as possible while it's still there. Robbie
This is Robbie - total butterball - and staying that way on 15 pounds of hay a day! ! !

Fox
Fox is down to about 1100 now - but still needs to drop another 100 :-(
CK
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 470
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006 - 10:03 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Cheryl, that last 100#s seems to be the hardest. I know mine plateau at that stage and there seems to be nothing I can do about it. If they don't gain at that point I am happy. Your horses don't look as fat as mine! if that's any consolation
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1449
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006 - 10:53 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Diane, I'm sorry to hear that the free feeding didn't work out.. Were you able to work them during the last month? I was hoping to free feed in the spring while working his bum off...

Cheryl, cute horses :-)
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Cheryl Kallenbach
Member
Username: Cheryl

Post Number: 214
Registered: 2-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006 - 11:53 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I think if I could just manage to keep riding Fox I could get her down where she belongs - but right now we have nothing but muck - Robbie's looks are pretty deceptive - I know that somewhere in there are some ribs - but I sure can't find any.
Right now they are caked in pounds and pounds of clay mud that dries to the consistency of cement -
CK
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 471
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006 - 12:33 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Aileen, actually they get rode this time of year the most. I love a gallop in the bean field, it is about a mile of flat, soft ground! Maybe it is muscle and not fat! I told my vet that and he rolled his eyes, so I guess it's fat.
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1452
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006 - 12:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

LOL...I've tried any number of excuses with my vet...and he just laughs at me :-)

I'd be interested to see what you find next month, my horse (when sound) takes 30-45 days to get in shape. Way back when, when I was in shape, I used my food more efficiently.

Did they gain a lot of weight?

Cheryl, I completely commiserate with you about the cement clay :-)
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 472
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006 - 1:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Considering the short amount of time it was enough weight to put up a red flag. Here's a pic of him recently (his skinny side) I can't make up my mind if he looks very fat or not. I think when you see them everyday it's hard to tell. He has a very big muscular hind end which really throws me off. My neighbor decided to join the weight tape band wagon and when she taped her 12.2hh haflinger pony he weighed 1020#! so I don't feel quite so bad. All the horses gained about 50#'s more or less on the free choice.
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1455
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006 - 1:47 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Oh wow...50...? That would be a red flag for me too...I know my friend's horses gained weight at first, then evened out, I think it took them more than a month. But every horse is different! Dang it!
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Jessica Kelsch
New Member
Username: Jessek

Post Number: 1
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Monday, Nov 20, 2006 - 11:34 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I am convinced that while free feeding works well for some horses, there are others to which it is a death sentence. No way could I free feed my pudgy pie Morgan, and second cutting high quality hay is poison for him! These hardy types do well on just enough...I have a hardy old fashioned Morgan, and an even hardier (and hairy-er) Icelandic, and they don't get 30# of hay a day between them, and are still fat! I should also mention that the temp has been between -20 and -30 for the past 3 weeks... OK, I admit that when it hits -40, I just start throwing whole bales out there, at that temp they can free feed all they want! Sure makes pen clean-up a lengthy chore, though...
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Holly Wood
Member
Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1590
Registered: 3-2001
Posted on Tuesday, Nov 21, 2006 - 8:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Oh, no!. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, Jesse.
And the reason you live in Alaska is???????
I hope the other seasons are worth the cold, and I'm glad you have two wooly, easy-keepers. (It wouldn't hurt if you were a bit wooly yourself at those temps!)
As far as free feeding, I bet it has a lot to do with the quality of the hay.
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