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AKPaintLover 01-08-2008 04:04 PM

Stallion - Weight
This last fall my 6 year old stallion was REALLY struggling with weight. He is not what I consider to be an actively breeding stallion (we bred him to our mare over two heat cycles). BUT, I was riding him for 1-2 hours average (sometimes more) daily. His weight was fine until about August on simply a good quality grass hay (about 16% protein).

In August, I noticed that he became ribby and his top line dropped. I significantly increased his hay and slowly added safe choice (nutrena) and then when the weather got colder alfalfa pellets.

Possibly because of the weight struggle in the fall, he never really got a fabulous winter coat, and really struggled with the cold needing blanketing early on. His coat is still not great, but he is doing fine in the cold now.

He seemed to get his weight back by late fall. I am not sure what helped most. Safe choice? Alfalfa? me dropping my riding to 2-3 days a week due to cold weather?

I intend to ride just as much next summer, so I am curious how I might avoid the work load catching up with him next year. I have always thought him an easy keeper, but it didn't feel that way this year.

He was also very lathargic all summer (not what some would expect when they think stallion = animated). He has much better energy this winter when riding (because he is working less? more concentrate feed? Alfalfa?) I recently took him off of the alfalfa because it seemed redundant giving both alfalfa and safe choice...I will be watching him closely.

kitten_Val 01-09-2008 06:58 AM

I'd say adding alfalfa and may be giving him at least 1 or may be even 2 days of rest a week. They get weight on alfalfa really fast (sad experience - had bad time making them loose the weight). As for riding I notice when I ride my qh several days in row (even I don't ride that much a day - just 40-50 mins) she looks like she's tired: much slower on trot.

AKPaintLover 01-10-2008 12:00 AM

Interesting. How do those ranch horses do it? (if they still do it any more?)

Well I suppose if I go to a five day week instead of 6 or 7, I will have even more time to focus on baby (coming in April). I hope that will help him have more energy in general - I like his energy level this winter. There is just so much training to do to get him really good in all of the disciplines that I am competing in...I could work for hours a day everyday and still need work...I guess there is always something to work on though :) I suppose horses get burned out too though!

You think the alfalfa was better for gaining/keeping weight that the safe choice? I only want to feed one if possible, but I am just not sure which is more effective. The safe choice has 14% protein.

kitten_Val 01-10-2008 07:15 AM

Being honest, I never tried SafeChoice. I did try alfalfa cubes though (stopped rather fast exactly because of the fat problems). :) Friend of mine feed Purina 14 % with bran pellets added, and her TB got nice and round in couple month (he was in bad shape when she got him for free). I checked on SafeChoice, but couldn't find much info. I read it's not oats, but what is it made of and how much you have to give to the horse?

I know what you are talking about not enough time. Lol! I do feel it too with my youngsters. But I find every time they work and respond better after the short break.

BTW, congrats on coming baby!

AKPaintLover 01-10-2008 03:25 PM

Safe choice is a lot like many other nutena concentrate feeds, with protein, various vitamins and minerals - but has no starch. It is formulated for horses with prior health issues (founder, colic, etc). My horse does not have issues with that, but it is the same price as the other concentrates and just seems safer in that way.

Safe Choice is about $4 more/ 50 pound bag than the alfalfa pellets, so if both have the same effect, I would rather pay less. I already give vitamins and provide a salt lick, so ?? I think the alfalfa might be a higher percent protein (? I will have to look to be sure tough), so that might be problematic - though I am sure my stallion will use the protein provided.

Thanks for the congrats...we are getting realy excited about the foal!

kitten_Val 01-10-2008 04:24 PM

If I'm not mistaken first cut alfalfa may be up to 20 % in protein if not more. Well, who knows how much in those pellets and cubes. Lol! If you horse is not jumpy I don't think any problem given it (especially since you have minerals anyway). What I like about it it's natural (like hay in some sense).

Ryle 01-10-2008 06:37 PM

It is probably a mixture of the addition on Safe Choice and Alfalfa and cutting back on the riding that led to the weight gain. Alfalfa is a higher protein forage, but by adding both it and safe choice, you probably ended up with only a small change in the overall content of the diet.

The first thing to look at to help keep the weight on him is exactly how much hay he is getting dialy. And before August was he also getting ANY grass?

AKPaintLover 01-10-2008 08:05 PM

Ryle, His diet the entire previous winter through august consited of water, a salt lick, and brome hay. The hay we were feeding has been tested before and (not that cutting though) was about 16% protein. We fed probably about 10 pounds of hay twice a day - more on cold days.

size, build, and prior history, he is not a horse that I would consider a hard keeper, but it was like the summer of riding all of a sudden caught up with him, and then it showed. The lathargy was probably the earlier sign, but also from past behavior, I thought that was just him, not his health.

I want to ride a lot again next summer, it does not have to be seven days a week again, but I want to keep that weight on him and his energy up this time.

Seriously, how do those horses who work eight hour days do it?

kitten_Val 01-11-2008 07:08 AM

I know the barn close to my place and they have trail riding horses working the whole day every weekend in summer. Even though they just walk most of the time (some do 4-5 trail rides hour each a day) they look horrible. I also know they fed them LOTS of grain, but I still feel sorry whenever I see it... :(

AKPaintLover 01-11-2008 01:29 PM

I have seen that too with trail horses. It is sad.

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