Feeling a bit overwhelmed...
So I just bought my new TWH, and as far as his personality and his ability on the trail, I am extremely happy with him. However, there are some things that concern me...
Firstly, he is a windsucker, and a possible chewer. Now, since I pasture him year round and there's no stalls for him to eat, this in and of itself doesn't bother me. What does bother me is that I've been told it can both cause or signal underlying health issues. Am I just being a worry wart, or can it cause serious complications if he continues the habit? Our pasture is surrounded by electric fence, but he will go to the entrance, which is a metal gate, and windsuck and bite at it. As long as it's a harmless habit that doesn't effect his health or performance, I really don't mind. But as I have had zero experience with a horse that does this, I could really use some advice.
Secondly, he is about 100 pounds underweight. He is being fed about 3/4 of a bale a day, and one scoop of grain. Assuming no health issues, is this adequate to put weight on him? I can't afford much in the way of fancy specialty feeds, so I'm wondering if there's something inexpensive I can add to his grain.
Also, he is 13 years old, and will be wormed, vaccinated and have his teeth done in the next two weeks.
I feel like a bad horse mom, and could use some reassurance. Thanks.:oops:
Windsucking (cribbing) can cause dental problems and will cause weight issues. They make several different kinds of collars to help stop this, look for Cribbing Collars on line and order one. The Miracle Collar seems to have the best results of all of them, from what I hear. I've never had a cribber and would sell one on if I did because it can be a learned behaviour and other horses can pick it up.
With regard to windsucking, yes, it can be due to ulcers & such, from unhealthy lifestyle/diet/management, but tends to become an obsessive compulsive thing if not caught/treated early. Agree with DA that it can cause dental issues, but I'm not convinced about weight problems and don't believe horses learn it through mimicking. I think recent studies back this up. I think the weightloss that often goes with it is a symptom of the underlying problem, which windsucking is also a symptom of. Treat the ulcers, feed the horse properly & the weight prob is no longer IME. Likewise, horses in the same barn that acquire the habit are likely to be suffering the same physical probs & I've never heard of a horse 'picking up' the habit in abscence of physical/dietary issues. So I think the dental probs are the only real issue with cribbers. Hopefully either painting the gate with 'cribbox' or such, putting another strand of electric along the top or getting one of those collars would eliminate the issue.
Re his weight, as above, I'd treat him for ulcers & speak to your equine vet about it firstly. Sounds like he's probably getting enough hay, but if he eats it all, that's the first place I'd start, feeding him as much as he will eat. What sort of hay? Unfortunately can't advise you much on the 'grain' as you haven't said what it is & I don't know how much your scoop is - best to weigh it. Generally speaking, cereal grain & other starchy/sugary feeds aren't the best for horses IMO & especially if only fed once daily(horses need to be fed little & often), this can be problematic, causing hind gut acidosis & problems such as weightloss, colic, ulcers, laminitis, etc.
getting the teeth done and worming then continue what your doing.
I have lots of grass but in the winter I put out hay in the morning, If I get home and all the hay is gone I add more if there is hay left I dont.and basically just adjust hay daily based on how much is left. As long as you dotn have a bad piggy horse this works pretty well.
Ditto the other posters but I will add that TWH's are on the predisposed list for metabolic issues (insulin resistance, etc.)
If his grain really means something that is oat/corn based, might want to reconsider putting him on a Ration Balancer to keep his NSC's (non-structural carbohydrates) as low as possible.
NSC's are empty calories - same as feeding a 10 yr old a bag full of Hershey Bars, then giving him a gallon of Hi-C to wash them down:shock:
One of my TWH's is very mouthy by nature; so mouthy he has the run-in stall with access to the heated stock tank because I can't even trust him with a heated stall bucket. He used to be a wood chewer; never cribbed because he does go out to pasture every day so he can "vent".
I noticed he had quit chewing wood once I changed his vit/min supplement to EquiPride. I'm no chemist so I don't know what's different about the EquiPride that fills his mineral needs but he quit chewing wood a few years ago. He still has his mouth on everything and will walk off with a roll of paper towels if I'm not watching him, but he quit chewing wood.
My point to that drawn out story is that your new TWH may be mineral deficient in something, started out chewing wood and it escalated to cribbing.
It might be worthwhile to at least ask the vet what the cost would be to check him for a mineral imbalance:-)
Is that him in your avatar? He is really nice looking:-)
Windsuckers can be underweight, because they would rather windsuck than eat.
Windsucking releases endorphins that give the horse a high, and in some ways they become addicted. Weight loss or low weight is part of the problem.
You have a nice big pasture with plenty of grass I assume, so the only thing you need to do is feed him adequate amounts of grain to maintain his weight. You should weigh your grain and read the label as to what amount you can feed safely daily. I am not a fan of the I fed a scoop of grain because a scoop could be 1 pound or 5 pounds of grain, not enough. If the bag calls for 10-15 pounds daily you should feed a minimum of that. For weight gain you can use the upper end of the scale.
I suspect if you are feeding one scoop of grain a day that you will find the horse could very easily be increased to 2 scoops or even 3 daily once you read the label and weigh the scoop when full of grain. If he is underweight I would first put some weight on him, get a collar on him and then see how he does. I bet he will be just fine with no health issues.
Wind sucking can cause weight problems because when a horse is 'hanging' on a gate he is not eating. Air can fill his stomach and he does not feel as hungry as a horse that does not crib.
Chewing wood is frequently a symptom of a lack of Calcium in a horse's diet just and chewing bark off of trees can indicate. If a horse is eating a diet of grass and grass hay, you can just about bet Calcium is inadequate. Feeding a loose mineral with a Ca to P (Phosphorus) ratio of 3 or 4 to 1 will correct the problem and may even help that amount of cribbing he does.
I would fit him with a Miracle Collar, get him on a good loose mineral, have his teeth done and deworm him before I raised the amount or changed the kind of grain you are feeding him. All of those changes may get him started gaining weight and should be done first.
When the Vet does his teeth, you can ask about ulcers (frequently a horse is anemic when they have ulcers and shows other indications) and a check of his front teeth will give you some idea of how long he has been cribbing. Ulcers can often develop when a horse is stalled and shown and the cribbing will appear then also. Years later, the ulcers are long gone after that horse has been turned out and is on a 'free-choice' diet of grass and hay but the cribbing persists as an ingrained habit.
Thanks for the advice, all.
We put out three large bails in the evening and everyone gets grained then, too. I would say one scoop=about 5 or 6 cups, and I'm not sure what type of grain it is. But I will definitely be looking into that. The hay lasts into the next evening when it's time to be fed again, and there is grass to munch on in the meantime. It's not as though his tummy is ever empty, or that he isn't interested in food.
I have no doubt that the floating and worming will help a bunch, but in the meantime, I have a question about the Miracle Collar. It only puts a temporary stop to the behavior, correct? Once you remove it, they'll go back to doing whatever they please, I assume. This doesn't even seem worthwhile to me to have to cinch something tight around his neck 24/7, every day of the year.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
and yes, that's my boy in my avatar. He's such a sweetie<3
Yes! Once a horse is a long-time cribber, they will never stop wanting to do it. You can put a collar on one for years and the first time he can do it, he will crib. Collars do not even stop all of them. A few horses learn to crib on something very low and the collars will not stop one of these horses.
I claimed a cribber at the track. I was convinced I could get him more fit by stopping his cribbing. The old trainer just laughed when I told him that. I put a collar on him but he would crib lower on the bottom chain across the stall door. So, I put him in a pen that had an electric wire along every rail and including the gate. When I went to feed him about 3 days later and saw that he had a big open, bleeding sore on one knee and it was swelled about triple its normal size. He had figured out how to crib on his own knee. I gave up.
And Yes!. It is worth doing it. Cribbers are difficult to keep weight on, ruin their teeth and are very prone to colic. It is well worth the bother.
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