High Strung since the move

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High Strung since the move

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  • Moving to a new barn with a very high strung aged horse
  • Beet pulp & alfalfa & high strung horses

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    02-18-2010, 10:24 AM
High Strung since the move

Well, I'll put this in health since it's his emotional health I'm worried about! We moved Danny to the new barn on Saturday. Since then, he's been turned out in a round pen with a buddy, but hasn't been able to get into a pasture with all the snow mess we have. He's on a different feeding program now too. He was on 2-3 lbs of strategy 2x per day, with a half cup of vegetable oil, plus about 4-6 flakes of hay per day. Now, he's getting a mix of alfalfa cubes, beet pulp, and a handful of a 10/10/10% feed 2x per day, with about the same amount of hay, possibly a bit more since it's more or less free choice hay.

So, since the new barn doesn't have an indoor, he hasn't been worked much in the last week. Monday was the best day, since it got above freezing and the ring was ridable. It was my first time riding Danny outside and he was a fireball! He's usually completely lazy and dead but Monday he was ready to take off. He was almost uncontrollable at the trot and wanted to run the entire time, even let out a little buck as we trotted through a giant puddle. I spent most of the time walking, or doing transitions hoping to get his attention. Tues the ring was frozen again, but last night I was able to lunge him. He spent the whole time bucking and trying to gallop. I've been over to see him at least once a day, even if we just groom and can't get out in the ring. Even on the crossties he's been wired. Of course I realize that this is a huge change for him this week, the snow is out of control, the round pen isn't big enough for him to get his energy out during the day, he's on a new feeding program, new people handling him, new surroundings, new horses, and I'm working him outside for the very first time. I'm just worried about him being so high strung since he's typically so mellow and affectionate and lazy! I hate to think he's scared or unhappy and of course I always worry about him colicing when he's under stress.

Any suggestions?
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    02-18-2010, 11:02 AM
If its only been four days, give him some time. Just make sure you are visiting/working him as much as you can to give him something stable and consistant about his new routine (you).

I also do hope you guys are switching him over to the new feeding program gradually. Especially with the cold weather, colic is a huge risk as it is.
    02-18-2010, 11:03 AM
Well I'm glad you got him out of the old place! I don't know much about feeding but maybe the feed or hay is richer and that's why he's ready to take off? I think once you guys can start riding and he gets his energy out everything will be fine.
    02-18-2010, 11:09 AM
Yes, give him time to settle in. My horses came home in July and it took my steady-eddy qh gelding about 3 weeks before he was back to his old self. The first week was rough, he was especially jumpy. It might take him a while...
    02-18-2010, 11:15 AM
Yeah, moves are always stressful for horses. Especially after they've made great friends at the previous place and felt settled in.

Just be with him as much as possible, talk to him and let him know what is going on, tell him from your heart. Don't make promises, just be honest.

Give him time, be patient, be calm. :)
    02-18-2010, 11:15 AM
Thanks guys. When I bought him back in December, he settled in really quickly and didn't seem phased by too much. This move seems to be pretty stressful on him, but again, it is the second move for him in a little over two months. It's a lot of change for him...
    02-18-2010, 12:06 PM
My guy went through three moves in a row. The first one he did well, the second he took a couple days, the third he was an idiot for months. I think compounding stress like that really throws them off. Like others said, give him time (plenty!) and he should calm down.
    02-18-2010, 12:22 PM
Change of feed, change of scenery, change of routine. All quite normal for a horse to take some time to settle in. I would be more concerned about the change of feed and exercise time. Why the alfalfa cubes and beet pulp?

(Just a side note, you mentioned 2-3 lb of feed at his old place. That is a ~35% difference each feeding. Not a good thing to continue. I realize that most people do not weigh their feed and use scoops instead but weight is more important then volume.)
    02-18-2010, 12:30 PM
The BO feeds little grain to any of the horses at the barn, and particularly wanted to wean Danny off the grain since he is prone to colic. Her usual feeding program is (taken from her website):

"Horses usually have hay in front of them all day. A horse needs to chew 14-16 hours a day. Of course if they are overweight they get less. Feeding time is twice daily consisting of wet beet pulp (warm in winter) and a 10/10/10% sweet feed (protein fat, fiber, etc.). All horses get bran mash weekly."

The grain that Danny is getting is the pelleted form, not the other molasses sweet feed that she feeds, which is why she added a few alfalfa cubes (most of the other horses get the pellets with a handful of the molasses mix). She gets her feeds directly from our local feed mill, mixed to her specs. I asked about getting a bag of Strategy to mix with her stuff to make the change, but she didn't think it would be a big difference to his system.
    02-18-2010, 12:49 PM
Sweet feed can really wire some horses, especially when they're stuck inside and not able to work off the energy. I do feed it, but only to Scout and in such a small volume that he could have a horse cookie and be the same way off. He's a very easy keeper and naturally pretty laid back, but he does get "sparky" when the weather's been too bad for turnout/arena work. The reason I got onto the sweet feed was that I started as a boarder and that's what the BO fed. The stuff was readily available and there was minimal feed changeover with the move to my farm, so I stuck with it. I do like sweet feed because I can look at a handful of it and identify the contents; not an option with the standard pellet, and I'm a paranoid nutcase about knowing exactly what passes down Scout's throat. But, the running drawback of sweet feed is that sugar-laden molasses and the equine sugar highs that result.

Since he's not on the "sticky" sweet feed, what is the fat/calorie/ etc. content of what he does get? Could there be molasses powder or some other energy booster in his ration? My sis' QH will spazz out on any form of alfalfa, to the point of complete unmanageability.

My advice: Give him time to settle in, be aware of the "side effects" of sweet feed/alfalfa, and pray for spring thaws and better turnout. Would you be able to walk him? A major part of my guy's winter survival plan is a daily walk up and down the barn aisle to stretch their legs and see something outside the stall. Works wonders for my boys, esp. If I ask for halts and back them up a few times. Gets them thinking a little when I can't ride or lunge.

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