Feeding my Obese Mare Who is Being Bred in the Spring - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 11-04-2012, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Question Feeding my Obese Mare Who is Being Bred in the Spring

Hello Everyone,

I have some questions about feeding. I know they may seem common sense, but I want to make sure I'm not making any mistakes. I have an 11 year old mare who is pretty fat right now. I exercise her as much as I can, but unfortunately, I am a full-time student and so taking the time to giver her regular exercise is challenging, even more so because she is being kept an hour away with my parents. She is kept primarily outdoors at this point. She is going to be bred in the spring (I will be finished school once the foal is born) and I know being overweight and in foal can be dangerous. I also want to get her down to a healthier weight before she is bred as I don't want her to be losing weight while in foal which is why I want to start this now so she doesn't lose weight too quickly. The other part of this is I live in Alberta, Canada and the winters here can be quite demanding on a horse kept outdoors. I want her to lose a few pounds, but I also want to make sure her calorie intake is high enough that she is able to stay warm. Any insight would be appreciated. I've included a picture of her below - and you can clearly see that she's overweight. She has lost some weight since then, but is still pretty chunky. Over the summer, she was mainly on grass, and in winter, we tend to feed her grass or timothy hay.

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post #2 of 10 Old 11-04-2012, 03:52 PM
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Does she get anything in addition to the hay? Is she kept with other horses, or is she kept alone?

Probably the easiest way to make sure she always has hay, but doesn't overeat, is to put the hay into a slow feeder net.
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post #3 of 10 Old 11-04-2012, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Her diet is mainly hay. She also has access to salt and mineral blocks, but I'd have to ask my parents exactly what kind they are. We only have one other horse and that is also part of the challenge. Her pasture mate is 28 1/2 years old and requires a significantly higher calorie diet to maintain condition, especially in winter.
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post #4 of 10 Old 11-04-2012, 05:03 PM
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If possible separate the older one for feeding but i agree with using a slow feed hay net. Another option would be hiring someone to come out and give her more exercise.
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post #5 of 10 Old 11-04-2012, 05:18 PM
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Your mare isn't getting into the senior horses feed, is she? I would separate then if possible.
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post #6 of 10 Old 11-04-2012, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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No. They are currently both on grass hay and then my parents supplement the older one with pellets specifically for senior horses. Lilly seems to get fat off air. And as dumb as this might sound, it actually never occurred to me to hire someone to ride her. I guess that's why more heads are better than one. I've been in contact with a friend who has a farm and she has agreed to exercise her, so thanks for the suggestion! I'm also going to talk to my parents about putting her in an adjacent pasture to the older one and rationing her hay a little more than what they are currently. I appreciate everyone's input.
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post #7 of 10 Old 11-04-2012, 07:59 PM
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Firstly, I personally wouldn't breed her until she's in better shape. Metabolic issues can affect the foal too, and pregnancy hormones make laminitis even more likely. I know you said you understand this, but it is also not great for them to lose too quickly, so consider the possibility it would be too soon to breed this spring.

Originally Posted by Glynnis View Post
I exercise her as much as I can, but unfortunately, I am a full-time student and so taking the time to giver her regular exercise is challenging,
Setting up a track system that she has to move around, rather than open conventional paddock is helpful if possible for you. Google 'paddock paradise' for info & ideas.

but I also want to make sure her calorie intake is high enough that she is able to stay warm.
As for calorie/amount, the basic formula is to work out what her ideal weight should be and feed her at 1.5% of that bodyweight daily. More roughage is good in winter if needed.

A grazing muzzle part time, if your parents are around to check/remove, &/or slow feeder for hay, to slow her intake, &/or soaking & draining hay before feeding, to leach out some sugars if it's too rich. Check out Equine Cushing's and Insulin Resistance Information & Katy Watts | Safergrass.org for more info.

She shouldn't really need extra calories during her pregnancy - 1st trimester is the most taxing on a mare, then all OK till lactation takes a lot out of them. But I would advise she is adequately supplemented to give her well balanced nutrition, well before she is in foal. Unfortunately salt/min licks give them very little of anything, so I'd be looking for a good nutritional supp. feedxl.com is a great resource for working out what that may be.
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post #8 of 10 Old 11-04-2012, 08:03 PM
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My horses are always very plump in spring/summer/fall. In the winter they tend to lose weight and by spring they are very fit looking. Im in Michigan.

Since your in Canada, if she was my horse, i wouldnt change anything going into winter. If you diet her now, she may be too thin come spring and breeding season.

Lovely mare. What breed?
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post #9 of 10 Old 11-05-2012, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks everyone! Yes, I agree she needs to be in better shape to be bred. I'm not planning on breeding her until May, so I want to get a good start with her diet/exercise plan and hopefully get her in a little better condition that what she currently is. What I may do, is cut back only slightly on her feed and see how she handles it. It will also depend on what our winter is like too. Last year, we had almost no winter, but the year before it was the coldest, snowiest winter we had in 25 years. I'm also going to look up the "paddock paradise" and see if that is an option. And I also have a friend who has agreed to exercise her for free which fits my student budget perfectly.

Again, thanks everyone for all of the suggestions.

Lilly is a Pinto, obviously breeding stock. Her dam was an Anglo-Arab and her sire was a Paint.
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post #10 of 10 Old 11-08-2012, 04:55 AM
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I wouldn't completely separate the two for the winter as they can use each other for body heat. Maybe just separate during the mid-day/when the other gets feed extra.
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