Despite working around horses quite a bit in my life, I have never been directly involved with their diets, and despite my research I am still new about a lot of things regarding this particularly confusing aspect of horsekeeping. Yeah I know -- Keep It Simple, Stupid...but it doesn't really help that my boarder, M, has a slight difference of opinion than mine...which, although my own opinion has been bolstered by months of reading articles and pestering people and feed store employees, hers is a result of several decades of horsekeeping. But some things still don't add up, so I am going to ask if any of you can give me some general advice.
Lilly, my new horse, is an easy keeper in every sense of the word. She is a 9 yo arabian mare, but not extremely high strung. Her previous owner had not been doing much with her, so she a little chunky at present, but in excellent condition otherwise. She was on soaked alfalfa cubes in the morning, a flake of teff hay in the afternoon, and a flake of teff in the evening along with another "ration" of cubes. I am aware that, in order to prevent ulcers and other problems, it is best for horses to have their forage and have something in their stomachs as often as possible, but is this a little much to you? She was on pasture, but no grass...and she will not have access to grass here with us until spring, then only with hand grazing. Everyone has a mineral block.
At our place, M feeds her horses twice a day...oat alfalfa cubes. They get treats like carrots and apples and such, but otherwise no forage. They are all in good condition...but two of them eat their own poop, and I don't think that is the healthiest thing in the world to do. Could they be doing this because of a lack of forage?
Anyway...it's not my place to tell her how to feed her horses, but although M is GREAT in all other aspects, if we want Lilly to continue to have hay, we're going to have to go out there every day and feed it to her ourselves (she's willing to feed at present, because we can't just take it away cold turkey from her of course). This is kind of impossible for us currently, although I'm sure we could work something out if we absolutely had to. In short...M is against feeding hay, period. She does feed the gang a sweet feed made of corn, and says her reason for this is to help them stay warm. Ideally, M wants us to take Lilly off hay completely and get her started on the grain along with the cubes.
Personally, I'm not sure I want Lilly to have grain. I don't think she needs it. First off, she's an easy keeper, like I said. Second, it will be a wee bit until she gets into a more rigourous excerise program. At the moment she will be excersised by us 3-4 times a week, possibly more depending on schedule, by way of lungeing and walks. In another week we will begin riding her, with the lungeing and walks as well. She will be a trail horse, although this summer she will be started in conditioning for endurance. But no...I don't believe she needs grain right this instant.
Also, I really want to keep her on hay. Perhaps a low-nutrient grass hay, so she can have her chew time like any normal horse. How necessary do you think this is for her? Considering how adament M is against feeding hay, I want to explore all my options...I know, ultimately it will be my decision and I will feed Lilly what I think she needs, but the issue here is I don't know for certain what to do.
What are your opinions on feeding her this corn grain stuff? I will start her on some apple cider vinegar, that I know for certain. Everything else now is just...confusing as heck. I only want the best for her, but all these conflicting opinions are driving me up the wall.