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Overwhelmed with information
I'm so overwhelmed with information about diets and nutrition and I don't even know where to start!
I have two horses a small draft and a light pony (a tiny horse). Both are over weight, both are overly hot. The diet they've been on for the past year was decided by the previous BO - I didn't know anything about any of it so I left it up to her. It's clearly not working. My draft mare is so overweight she has ripples all down her side just from turning her head. They're both very hot and flighty, spook over everything and nothing.
What they're on now:
My draft mare (15.2 hands, about 1350 pounds with a weight tape)
-2 cups alfalfa pellets
-2 cups crimped oats
MSM, Brewer's Yeast, and I just started her yesterday on Smart Omega 3 and Smart Calm Ultra - she's also got some access to grass, but not much and not long, so it's hay most of the day. She gets her grain split into two meals.
Her exercise is limited to none, she is horribly allergic to bugs (no doubt because of her diet) so hates going outside, even though she has an indoor/outdoor. My vet has helped me but doesn't know much about specific nutrition. She recommended I move her grain down to what I just listed (Which is 1/3 of what she was previously getting)
My pony, also very low exercise gets:
-1/2 cup crimped oats
-1/2 cup alfalfa pellets
MSM and Brewer's yeast, but I don't think he eats his supplements well as he flips his feeder over alot (and anything attached to the wall he puts his feet in and gets himself stuck), I think I need to get him one of those dog bowls with rolled over sides.
What I just listed is also reduced by 1/3 of what he was previously getting.
Both of them are still very hot and overweight. I've been told I can take them off grain completely, but then what would I need to supplement them? What are good supplements to use? My vet says the only thing hay in our area is typically deficient in is Selenium, which I believe is in their Brewer's yeast? Every time I hear about a new supplement I feel like I've been a bad parent because my horses don't get it! But I just don't know what they actually need.
Thanks for all your help, I just want to make sure they get everything they need - but not as much as they're getting. I've also begun being more consistent with their exercise and my mare is going to lunge or line-drive every day and my pony will start going for hikes with me more often. But they'll never have a real 'working horse' type exercise level.
Don't get too upset -- feeding a horse properly for their jobs and health issues has gotten to be an overwhelming issue in this day and age.
You say they are both hot and overweight. For sure ditch the alfalfa and ditch the oats too:shock:
They probably don't need all the protein they're getting from the alfalfa and the oats are chuck full of starch a/k/a bad fat calories. My 17 yo IR horse is so sensitive to alfalfa that even 1/4 cup shoots his insulin up. The 25 yo EMS horse, however, gets 1-1/2 lbs of soaked timothy/alfalfa cubes and has to have the extra protein the alfalfa provides him.
MSM is great for any inflammatory issues.
Brewers Yeast is what my vet recommends for the digestive tract. Unless the horse has serious ulcer issues, like one of my metabolic horse's has, then it's on to more serious remedies than Brewer's yeast.
Omega-3 Horseshine (flax) is great for hoof and coat health; you can find that at Tractor Supply. It's pricey but I only feed 1/2 cup daily to the Walkers and 3/8 cup daily to the little Arab (he's 13.3H)
A 20 lb bag lasts five weeks, feeding three horses.
In terms of getting their vitamins/minerals into them, research the top brands of ration balancers in your area. Triple Crown's is called "30%", Purina's is called "Enrich 32" for example.
I am surrounded by Purina, Co-op feed, and Nutrena, so I drive 40 miles to buy Triple Crown - lollol But that's all a matter of preference:-)
The best thing to try and do is apply the KISS principle where possible: "Keep It Simple Stupid". I try and try and try but with two metabolic horses that are always needing something changed in their diet because they change, I can't get past "Keep" lol lol lol
Regarding hay --- if you aren't in an area where your hay crop has been damaged by drought, by the best quality mixed grass hay you can find.
Quality starts with at least being weed-free which, more often than not, cow hay is not. You won't really know about the vit/min makeup of the hay until you buy and send it for testing <---that's another eye-popper that's probably best left for another "over whelming" conversation:?
So bottom line from my perspective (others will have their own suggestions):
Keep MSM, Brewers Yeast
Ditch Alfalfa, oats
Add, a good ration balancer to be sure they get their vit/min, good grass hay, and Omega-3 Horseshine, if you can afford it.
Hope this helps.:-)
Walkinthewalk gave some good advice. I also feed Triple Crown 30% supplement and my horse does very well on it. I wouldn't count on the brewer's yeast to supply all the selenium your horse needs- I couldn't find any data on exactly how much selenium is in brewer's yeast, but when I added 1 oz of it to my horse's diet on FeedXL.com, it showed it as providing less than 1% of the RDI.
One additional bit I'd add is to put your horses' hay in a slow feeder. They should get 1.5-2% of their ideal body weight in hay each day, and the slow feeder helps to stretch out the time it takes them to eat, so they don't go long periods of time without food in their stomachs.
Thanks! that's all great advice, I'm feeling better about the change now. I'm So So afraid of selenium over dose, I'd rather not risk adding more to their diet, especially my pony. But I'm going to switch them over to whichever ration balancer is in my area, so long as it's not Purina (personal preference). I'll keep the MSM and brewer's yeast I'll keep the Smart Omega 3 ultra, for a while, then move down to the Omega horse shine - just to get her kick started. I'll keep her on the Smart Calm Ultra until she runs out then switch her to either smart calm or Quiescence, it's basically just Magnesium and B1.
Thanks I'm feeling better about this change now!!
Thanks to you too desert n_n i think i'm going to do the ration balancer, but if my grain store doesn't have one i'll just do the soaked hay cubes with supplements xD you were so helpful!!
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Try calling SmartPak. Their representatives are AMAZING, and extremely knowledgable. I was in the same place as you – I just didn't know what to feed Mudpie, or what his diet should look like! So I called, and the specialist stayed on the line with me for an hour and a half, answering all of my stupid questions and helping find what I needed. It was great!
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Here are some basic rules of feeding, just because I know sometimes all the information can get overwhelming. So here's a bit of common sense to help you think clearly!! ;)
1. Feed little, often
2. Feed plenty of forage
3. Don't make sudden changes to a horse's diet
4. Feed according to work, temperature, and living conditions
5. Keep feed buckets and scoops clean
6. Provide a clean fresh water supply at all times
7. Don't work a horse right after feeding it
8. Feed each horse as an individual
9. Feed at the same time every day
Agree with others basically(not sure about deserthorse...:?:lol:) If your horses are already obese, ditch the alfalfa & oats for starters. I'd also be feeding low NSC hay, or if not, consider soaking it. Feeding hay in doubled hay nets or other 'slow feeders' will cut down the amount & prevent them gorging without them going hungry.
As for nutrition, if you're not hard feeding - so nothing to mix powdered supps with), I too think a (good quality, grain & molasses free) low dose pelleted 'ration balancer' is a good option. I personally give my fatties a pelleted supp that's also 'top dressed' with a powdered supp, so I have been able to cut the amount back to literally one single handful daily(about half a cup). As for which supps, I've found that they all pretty much sound like just the ticket.... on the package or advertising material, but that they are commonly not half as well balanced and almost invariably, recommended doses are higher than really necessary. That's one reason I find feedxl.com so invaluable. You can also run specific questions by the nutritionists there such as what aside from omega 3s would be good for reducing allergies, what aside from lack of magnesium might the 'spookiness' be from...
Re people who only have Purina or such at their local stores, I don't know whether I'm just lucky that any stockfeed stores I've been to were happy to order stuff in for me, but its certainly worth asking them. Also worth considering ordering online if not available locally.
1. The Co-Op will NOT sell anything but their own brand of feed, unless it's rice bran. A top name rice bran for sure but, it was always full of bugs because it was so old and I got tired of taking it back all the time.
2. Local Tractor Supplies will only sell what Corporate tells them to sell which is Purina, Nutrena, and that ever-scrumptious & healthy DuMor:-P
3. The family-owned feed store will only sell what they make and Purina/Omolene. They looked at me like I'd lost my mind when I asked if they would consider stocking Triple Crown; so I drive 41 miles:-(
Just some of the disadvantages to living in a rural Good Ole Boy County. The advantage is my neighbor is a county deputy and my old bosses Ex is a state highway patrolman in this county. They know I am a long way from being a Drama Queen so sit up and listen on those rare occasions I have to call them; generally about the yahoos living in the only rental house on our road. 18 houses on a three mile long road and the only trouble comes from the rental ----12' away from our barnyard fence boundary.
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