I have two QH mix (one QH/Appy mare, the other is a QH/? Gelding...maybe Tennessee Walker or some other kind of gated horse? He's not gated, but I've been told he has the look and temperament). Anyway...both are about 15-16 years old and both have been easy keepers so far. I've had the gelding since he was a 2 year old and he's been easy. He's coliced twice, but both were from mold (once in the pellets once in the hay) that weren't caught before being fed to him. Other than that he has a superstar digestive system. I've only had the mare since September of last year so I'm still figuring her out, but she's given me no reason to expect anything other than easy keeper.
I'm about to update my location, but we're in San Antonio, TX.
I'm moving them on Friday to a barn that is self care. The place I'm moving from was full board, but it was in a heard/pasture location. The place was converted from a bermuda hay farm to a pasture boarding facility. My guys have been only on pasture with some bermuda hay to supplement in the winter. They've done well on that so far. The gelding could stand to gain a little weight, but has been gaining great since the grass came back.
The new place only has brushy cow pastures. No good grazing there! I'm not even planning to keep them in the pastures because the back fence butts up to a neighborhood where people throw stuff over the fence (mostly stuff like watermelon rinds and bread, but sometimes trash too). I'll have access to stalls and small runs (I'd say 60x30 at the smallest, but I haven't had a chance to measure yet). My plan is to put them each in a run during the day and stall them at night. I'll continue with the hay we've been giving them, but I'd like to add a pelleted feed since they won't have free choice of grazing anymore.
Their work load is almost non-existent right now. That and gas prices are the driving forces in the move. I love the other place, but it's 20-30 minutes away. The new place is less than 5-10 (depending on SA traffic...ugh). Also being out there already to feed and clean stalls/runs will put me out there to work with them. At the top I expect their work load to be 3-4 trail rides per week with the majority of them being 30 minutes to 2 hours long. Maybe 3-4 hours long on weekends, but we have a long way to go before we can work up to that...especially with the hot Texas summer that's arriving. Not having been worked much at all they also need time to relearn manners (they're fine on the ground, but we'll be going back over some basics before I hop on that crazy mare!).
So...to end this book...what I'm looking for is a good place to start on feed. It's been awhile since I've had to feed with boarding at places that feed and then going to pasture board with only hay. The gelding's feed history is pretty simple. He's been on a sweet feed before, but I'm not interested in going that route (he was pleasantly plump in those days). He's been on a generic 10% pellet. I've found that anything below 12% and I see a negative difference in how his hooves hold up between trimmings (he's generally barefoot, but I may put front shoes on once he starts riding since the cow pastures are so rocky). We've had him on Safe Choice and that's what I was most pleased with and will probably be the brand I start with. I'm looking for other ideas though. I know brands are coming out with new things all the time and I'm looking for what's new that would benefit these guys and why to get started. I'm not afraid to try something for a few months then try something else.
Another question I have is how would you guys start them on the pellets? I'm thinking about feeding quite a bit of hay and slowly adding in the pellets to get them up to daily ration. Of course I don't want to shock them with a full ration of pellets on day one... Does that sound like the way to go? :)
Thanks in advance! :)