Sunday, February 12, 2012

Preparations and Equine Weight Management

Just like we need to keep certain things maintained on our vehicles to attempt to avoid mechanical failure, there are a few things that horses need to be kept up on as well. Spring riding is just around the corner so in preparation for that, I have my Spring Equine Readiness Checklist to start checking off. One of those items was accomplished yesterday. Brego and Maggie went to the vet for some scheduled maintenance. They were both due for dental work. Neither one have had anything done in that department . Brego just turned 5 and hadn't needed anything until now. Maggie has also never had her teeth floated. I mistakingly thought we had her in last year but juggling the care of 6-7 horses often gets confusing, especially when I don't keep up on my records! As it turns out, they both had wolf teeth and they both needed them removed. Typically, this is completed early on in a horses life. With colts, it's done at the same time they are gelded. Brego was gelded at 6 mos so his wolf teeth weren't in at that time. Other than the pain from writing a fairly large check to have this done, both horses are recovering fine. Maggie is a little more sore as it took a fair amount of yanking and pulling with pliers ( it's not exactly a high tech procedure to remove these things)to unearth the healthy roots she had. If she goes off the groceries a little, it is going to hurt anything.
Both horses were weighed prior to the procedure to help determine the correct dose of sedative to administer. Both horses are over 1000 lbs, Maggie the heavy weight of 1084 lbs. She's only 14.1 hands. Brego is just a big horse and still growing. My vet was concerned about Maggie, especially given that Magggie is your typical easy keeper Morgan. Along with that comes the risk of her developing Insulin resistance and Cushings disease. Because of this little fact that I am well aware of, managing her feed intake is an ever evolving issue in the spring and summermonths.

It won't be too much longer before green shoots start emerging in the pasture. Other than confining Maggie, which often backfires because she gets out of every confinement if she is hungry, my vet and discussed a few options:
1) get a grazing muzzle- Not sure she would keep that on.Have never used one of these and I would worry about the safety of her getting it caught on something.

2) Confine her- We already do this. She often escapes , through electric fence, and I come home to find she has been grazing on lush green pasture for 3 hours...or more..need to invest in electric fencing suitable to hold back Tyranousaurus Rex apparently.

3) Excercise, Excercise and Ecxercise- no explanation needed.

4)Back off her off hay ration and supplement with straw (up to a 1/3 )to keep her busy and satisfied. This one was concerning to me because straw can increase a chance of impactions. My vet felt that as long as she is a good drinker and has access to temperate water in the colder months, this should not cause an issue. Maggie is generally a good drinker when she isn't being ridden and we have tank heaters so, both things are in her favor. But this leads to some other questions specific to using this as a feed for the distance discpline.

I will pose this question:
Has anyone used straw with the horses they have in endurance training?
What issues have you had , if any?

In the meantime, I guess it's time to get into research mode.


CG said...

Oh my, I hear you on the record keeping stuff. I have six horses and try to rotate them thru getting their dental work too. I'd love to just get it all done at once but that could easily turn into a 1K vet bill.

Let me know how the Maggie diet goes, I have one that I'm watching with caution this spring- she already resembles a gigantic Thelwell pony and the grass hasn't started growing yet!

Anonymous said...

Yikes we would never feed straw. Can you rig up some sort of slow feeder or even a small-hole hay net to keep her busy? I would also try the grazing muzzle. At least you can ride the bejezus out of her and not worry about her looking like a race horse from the UAE ;-)

~ Amanda

Jonna said...

@CG- Yes- Maggie definitley has the Thelwell pony thing going too...

@Amanda- kind echoing what my initial reaction to the straw thing was... yes, riding the bejezus out of her is going to be a requirement..

Funder said...

Yeah, I always heard straw was extremely high in sugar, which is what you really don't need in Maggie's diet. Seconding the small-mesh hay net - chicks has them very cheap, they're really durable, and Dixie seems to prefer eating out of them! It's a really natural motion, she bites and "tears" the hay out of there, and I think she enjoys it more than just picking hay up with her mouth from a loose pile. They're a little bit of a pain to fill, but especially if you're just doing one horse it's totally worth it. About 3% wasted hay, just the super short bits of chaff.