So, my new horse is really confusing me right now.
He is being really strange when it comes to eating grain. It is the same diet that he was previously on (whole oats and sweet feed mixture), but he will not clean up the feed in a short amount of time (less than 45 minutes like the rest of the horses). He starts out eating well, but after about 15 minutes abandons the feed bucket (if there is hay in the stall he'll eat it, if not he'll just stand there looking ******ed ) He cleans up all of his hay (5 - 6 big flakes overnight, mixed grass hay) and drinks his water to the bottom of the buckets (two 5 gallon buckets). This is really confusing me, as his previous owner claims he "never" did that at her place - which I find hard to believe, but I can't prove it. I have switched buckets, feed on the ground, put in a corner feeder, same pattern. Now, I've only had him 5 days, but I'm getting sick of frantic phone calls from various boarders and my barn owner telling me he's not cleaning the feed dish (we just had a horse be put down from colic so I understand the worry).
Now, he's not starving, since he is eating 3-4 flakes while turned out during the daylight and the additional hay while inside, he eats about 27 pounds of hay per 24 hours plus all the water. However, this is a 1300 pound warmblood who is about 100 or so pounds underconditioned (sunk in over his hips, can slightly see ribs, no muscle tone, a high three, maybe a 4 on the body condition scale) that we're talking about here. At his previous barn, he was eating 2 quarts of an oat/sweet feed blend 2x's a day. I did watch him eat while at his old barn, he had no problems - I will admit that I only watched him for 20 minutes - didn't think that I'd need to stay longer! He chews fine, doesn't seem to be in pain, doesn't dribble grain everywhere, just seems to lose interest or to be full. He is due for dental work in the spring. When in at nighttime, he will have the feed consumed by the following morning. In the AM, he just stops eating after about 10-15 minutes.
What do I do here? This horse can't afford to lose more condition, and I've been sticking to his old diet while he adjusts to the new barn. He only eats 3-4 flakes of hay max out in the field (no grass to speak of), and since he is a big chicken sh*t if one of the other horses even walks up to his hay out in the field he'll move away and stand staring at it wistfully.
What my barn owner wants to do is stick to the diet he's been on, but switch the proportions - instead of feeding 2 quarts of the mixture in the AM and PM, feeding just 1 quart in the AM (so he can be turned out with the rest of the herd on time) and feeding 3 quarts in the PM so that he has 10-12 hours to clean it up. What are your thoughts? Is that too much grain at one time? He isn't a gulper, no history of founder/laminitis.
And on a side note, what would you all suggest for a weight/muscle gain diet once this weird eating habit stuff works out/is under control? I want to put him on a hoof supplement (all my horses go on one), and was considering a protein supplement like Fat Cat. What are your opinions on hay pellets or beet pulp? He really doesn't need to gain too much fat, just muscle tone, which will come with work. Would you suggest putting him on individual turnout to make sure he's getting enough hay during the day?
I NEED HELP! I JUST CAN'T FIGURE THIS ONE OUT!
Thanks in advance!