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Have You Ever Heard Of This.........
The barn manager where I currently board allows the horses to drop weight this time of year because it is almost time for them to go out on grass. The grass is very plentiful at this barn, but I have never heard of a barn allowing the horses to drop weight before they are turned out to pasture. Does this sound right to you? She says she does not want anyone to founder, or colic so that is why they get so skinny. As you can see the picture the the left, my gelding isa good healthy weight. Now he looks very skinny to me. What do you guys think? She also does not give them hay in the pasture through the winter, which I also think is kind of weird.
They get no hay at all in the winter? That is odd, I know they make some complete feeds but no hay at all just seems wrong and expensive :shock: I can see the point of dropping weight. I know mine have been fat and sassy all winter just standing at the hay bale. I think it helps for them to be a bit overweight when the temps are low. they take it back off once their back off on the pasture and have to walk for their food.
Are the horses being worked?
Sorry about the miss communication, I should have given better details. They do get hay in the winter, they get it in their stall before they are turned out. They were getting about 2-3 flakes in the morning and 2-3 flakes in the evening when they were brought in during the winter. However, they are out for about 10-11 hours with no hay in the pastures. She says that she does not want the horses to fight over the hay. It seems like every farm I pass around here, the horses have hay out with them when the ground is covered with snow. Maybe those horses do not get hay in their stalls.
I would say that during the winter, the horses are worked less frequently than in the spring, summer and fall. And when they are worked in the winter, it is not very hard. I am just real suprised at how thin my horses are. I have seen my TB mare drop weight around this time last year and the year before, so I kind of expected it from her, but not from my QH. I am just worried that this is not healthy for them. I know it is not healthy for them to be overweight either, but they were a good healthy weight during the winter and now she has cut them back to what looked like about a flake of hay and about 3 - 4 cups of carb guard twice daily so that they drop weight before they are turned out on grass. Let me know what you think. My horses are not the only ones who are skinny. there is another TB mare that is skinny as well.
If there is grass in the pasture over the winter then not having hay during their turnout is ok, but if there is nothing for them to eat during their long turnout this is a recipe for ulcers.
As for cutting down their weight prior to turning them out on grass, this won't prevent laminitis. It's not the FAT on a horses that causes exposure to rich grass to cause laminitis but the reason for the fat. Normal horses with no metabolic issues aren't at any higher risk of laminitis when turned out on spring pastures if they are at a good weight than if they are a little thin. And horses with metabilic issues that make them easy keeper, prone to fatty deposits, are just as likely to develope laminitis when turned out on spring grass whether they are heavy or a little thin at the time. It's the way the body COPES WITH (how their metabolism works) the sudden increase in sugars/starch in the diet that makes spring grass a risk factor for laminitis.
Hi Ryle, thank you for the response. I am also a vet tech, but work with small animals.
In the winter the pastures are snow covered so unless they dig for it, they don't have any grass. Now that the snow is melting, the grass is very minimal because it is still dormant and has not had a chance to grow yet. Once it does grow, there is alot of it for most of the summer. She is very good about turning them out for short periods of time to introduce them to it once it does grow, but I still don't understand the who thing about bringing their weight down before hand. I have never had someone tell me at a boarding facility that they were going to cut the horses back so that they will lose weight before turning them out on grass. I think that if the horses are not overweight before turning them out on grass, then why cause them to lose weight. One of the other boarders takes her horse to a large indoor near our barn once a week and the trainer there made a comment on how thin her horse was. Anyhow, I am going out to the barn tomorrow and will try to remember to take pics so you can see how much weight my gelding lost over the last month. Maybe he just looks skinny to me and you guys will reassure me that he looks ok. I just want what is best for my horses and don't want them to look like they are starved. Thanks again all.
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