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I am in the process of purchasing a beautiful Morgan mare. Problem is, she's overweight. We don't have any hills near our barn, and our trailer needs a new floor, so we can't take her anywhere. She is only green broke, and doesn't know everything yet, including her canter leads. She is a western horse, and therefore I don't plan on jumping her, even if you were to suggest that. She's about 14.2-14.3 hands, and is about 900-1000 pounds. I also am not sure what I should feed her when she gets here. She is currently pastured in a fairly grass-less pasture, so gets hay morning and evening, and gets a 'medium sized coffee can scoop' of sweet feed in the evening. Isn't that a bad idea? Giving an overweight horse sweet feed, I mean. Are there any feeds that help with weight control? The only advice I have been given thus far about exercise is teaching her canter leads and doing circles. If you have any good ideas, please let me know. I just don't want her to founder or some such thing, she doesn't have to be in the best shape possible, although that would be nice.
Here is a picture of her so you get an idea of the problem: (No, she is not pregnant, and no, I am not on her.)
Hi Laura! First let me say she's a beauty! You didn't mention how old she was so I'm going to assume she's 4 or 5 years old (?).
Will she be on any type of pasture at your place? Do you have an arena or round pen to ride in, or trails?
That all said, here's my 2 cents worth. Take her off the sweet feed. She obviously doesn't need it and is not worked hard enough to justify the extra sugar. If she's only on hay 2x's a day and a scoop of sweet feed now and looks like that, she's what we in Maine call an "easy keeper" . If she's going to go into a pasture, limit her time until accustomed to it. If not just hay her and considering the amount of work she's going to do for you, may not need any extra feed.
If you want to give her something, well, a complete feed would probably fit nicely, though I've always been if a horse keeps their condition on so little, keep it simple kind of gal.
As far as getting some weight off her. By eliminating the sweet feed that should help some. Next just walk and trot her. It's amazing how some regular nice long walks can take weight off and condition a horse without putting too much stress on their joints. I like to mix it up with walk/trot combos. No hills, not a big deal. Many of the horses at the barn mine were at were ridden only in a large arena. They were fit and muscled. Just ride. Like someone said on this forum, the best thing for a horse are lots of wet saddle pads! :lol:
Hope I was of some help. Have fun!
Thanks for the advice! We have two large arenas to ride in, as well as a short track. She'll be pastured with shelter, and should do well as that's what she's used to. She's eight, actually. I know, she was broke late, and she looks younger. My plan as far as her training is a lot of walk and trot work under saddle, and limited canter work on the lunge line. Does that sound reasonable to help her get slimmed down as well as getting her trained?
Sounds like a very workable and effective plan. And as far as her being 8 and started late, good for her! T wasn't started under saddle until 6 and at 20 now many younger horses can't keep up with her. Also, because she wasn't stressed at a young age, hoping to have many years yet on the trail with her.
It sounds like you have a good grasp on what you need to do for her weight but even though she is overweight she still needs the proper nutrients and when you reduce or eliminate grain feeds most pastures and hay do not contain all of the nutrients needed. Since you will be turning her out on grass consider using a grazing muzzle during the day and taking if off at night since horses are shown to consume less at night. I would switch her to a micro nutrient supplement like KER IR Pellet and you should start seeing results.
Accept the previous advice about feeding hay only. There are lots of "conditioning programs" on the internet. Try Endurance.Net. When I am conditioning I ride with a heart monitor system which ensures that both the horses and my time is best utilized and we are working at good levels to get the best results possible. The best way to loose the weight is to do LSD - Long Slow Distance work. Weigh her with a tape and monitor your progress monthly. Also a HRM will help you when you start with progessive loading your conditioning routine. You can find a good one at Action Tack or Long Distance Depot. There is also info on endurance.net about the use of HRMs. She looks nice and you probably have a fine animal under that belly there. Good luck.
Good advise so far........just wanted to pop in and say she's a looker!!! Congrats.
I agree, excellent advice so far. As posted above, cut out the sweet feed first. I would suggest riding her in the arena to work on her leads more than lunge work. It is amazing how loping circles each way for 15 to 20 minutes a day will slim them down and teach them the right lead. It may help to just lope circles to start with and don't cue for a lead at all. If she picks up the wrong one, just let her lope it out until she changes. It shouldn't take very long before she starts getting tired on that lead. When she picks up the right one, then keep her loping for a circle or 2 and then stop. Soon, she should be figuring out which lead to pick up depending on which way she is headed and then you can add the cue. This doesn't work for all horses but I have had lots of luck with it. Plus, since she is full grown, you really don't have to worry as much about loping circles being hard on her joints.
I wish I had your problem! I feed my horse 24/7 and he barely holds his weight. Like others said, a vitamin supplement would be good to substitute the lack of grain. Poulin MVP is a good one. If you ever do decide to add a grain back to her diet, there are a few that are for easy keepers. I think Blue Seal and Triple Crown have them.
Bless the easy keepers! Hay only and monitor it. 24/7 turnout and start giving her some work to do. She's beautiful!
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