Something else you need to consider is that this horses mental and healing ability is your top priority right now. His weight is important also, but IMO, it is third in line. Mental health and healing come first on stall rest because stall rest is actually pretty stressful for most horses. Loosing weight on top of it with a diet that really limits his chew time would be counterproductive. They arent meant to be confined like that long term and it makes them stress. Some horses have to be sedated and ulcers are common in stall bound horses. I can see you have him on U guard already so I am betting you already know this.
The best thing you could do for him is get him on 100% grass hay in a slow feeder. Alfalfa is going to just add more calories he cant burn off while he is stall bound. If you cant get 100% grass, ask the place you get hay from if they will pick out the bales with the least amount of alfalfa as they see them. I have done that before and had good success. If I got a hunk of alfalfa, I fed it to someone else.
Im glad you are considering the nibble net. I have two and I love them. Best ones out there IMO for stalls and are simple to use and stay where you clip them. they dont sag. Id try my best to give him 24 hour hay in the net so he is chewing and swallowing small bites all day. Its your best natural weapon against ulcers and also will help level out his blood sugar which will help him loose weight also. Saliva is a acid buffer.
He still needs nutrition to heal. If you cut the fortified hard feed, you should replace it with some sort of mineral or balancer appropriate for your forage. I love Triple Crown 30% Supplement with our grass hay. It works well for my area and really compliments our local grasses. I dont have to use any hoof supplements or feed probiotics because its already in the balancer.
I definitely understand the issue with his mental well being. So far I've started him on a calming supplement to help take off the "edge," so he won't be bouncing around on his leg. He also has a jolly ball that I've hung up and a "jolly jumbo lick" that arrived today. I'm easing him off of alfalfa, and on to a grass/alfalfa mix that is primarily grass(the pricing is a big factor in this decision, as straight grass is a lot more expensive). I'm removing the "hard" feed and replacing it with timothy hay pellets.
In addition to these isolated efforts, I take him out of his stall and groom him, and then hand graze him for about 30 minutes a day, if not more. I will be working to purchase the nibble net, which should stretch out his "meal time" significantly. I should be able to work it out to where he'll have hay available all day. I'll be easing him off of alfalfa, as to not make any sudden changes to his diet. I've already started to reduce his concentrated feed in preparation for the timothy hay pellets, which I should be able to get this week.
Mudpie's health – mental and physical – is my top priority.
Mudpie is an intelligent, creative horse that becomes easily bored. Usually, he reacts to his boredom by running around and bucking. He's a horse that needs to be worked every day, or he will go stark raving mad... this is a bit of a problem for us, currently, as one might imagine. Providing him with a slow feeder and grass hay should help with this significantly, as should his new stall toys. He's one of those horses who actually plays with his stall toys, so it is my hope that they will contribute to his entertainment.
I'll definitely look into a ration balancer. I've already provided him a free choice mineral block. He prefers his himalayan salt lick, but does occasionally take interest in his mineral block. :)
Originally Posted by EvilHorseOfDoom View Post
I'd be moving to only pasture hay, with perhaps some white chaff as Kayty said, to keep him thinking he's getting hard feed and to give you something to mix a ration balancer into. You can feed 1.5% of their weight, that's what Brock was getting and he still had a nice layer of fat on him. There's a good chance Mudpie's metabolism slowed considerably when he was underweight (a survival mechanism), and with the current drop in exercise he's just packing on the kilos.
If he can't use a haynet (Brock can't, he rips them apart in frustration and they become a hazard) I'd look at breaking up the biscuit and spreading it across the stable, avoiding his usual pee and muck spots. That way he'll have to work hard to find every little bit of hay (don't worry, those lips are very dexterous!) before his next feed.