I worked on a guest ranch a few years ago and Loved riding and working with the Drafts but they had special dietary needs.
The Drafts I cared for could only have grass hay, never alfalfa. Also grain wise they had their own special grain, I no longer remember what it was but the where not allowed to have what all the string horses got. I was told the string grain could make them very sick and that if they didn't get the right stuff and oil they could get a muscle difficancy(sp?) disiese(sp?). Sorry my spelling is pretty bad and the spell check isn't helping lol.
Anyway I have been considering a Draft or Draft cross as my next horse to get some height and because I love their big gental(sp?) nature. My current horse is only 14.1 3/4, he's short and I have always loved being high up.
Can you guys tell me if what we where doing at the ranch was right? Do draft horses really have a lot of extra special health needs? Is the mucle thing something I really have to worry about? Are they more prone to colic because of their size? I have seen and heard of several draft's dieing because of stress induced colic.
I am no expert but sounds like they knew what they were doing :) Some drafts do have a condition where if their diet is too high in protein and not enough fat, they develop:
EPSM--equine polysaccharide storage myopathy--is a condition in which a horse is unable to process and burn the fuels provided by starchy grains. the list of EPSM signs includes symmetric loss of muscling, especially of the rump, shoulders and topline, weakness, usually in the hindquarters, trembling, often after exercise, difficulty in backing/reluctance to back, poor performance, lack of energy, stumbling, reluctance to pick up the feet for farriery work, a slightly stiff, awkward or short-strided gait in one or both hind limbs, “locking” stifles or “shivers,” in which a hind leg hikes up and out and possibly the tail also rises and quivers, episodic colic-like signs, especially after exercise, tying up, inability to rise from recumbency.
The diet change involves decreasing the amount of dietary carbohydrates and replacing them with fat as an energy source.
I have a draft cross and have always fed him grass hay and a high fat supplemental pellet (Purina Strategy) and flaxseed meal. He does great, maintains his weight and whether he has the potential for EPSM or not, I'd rather play it safe :)
We never fed our drafts anything different then the riding horses. Usually a grass alfalfa mix hay, and we straight oats with sweet feed ratio depending on the weather, and how much use the horse actually gets. ALSO the dude ranch I worked on mainly had draft crosses and fed them nothing different then the other horses either maybe a bit more is all because of their size. All you should worry about is if they are getting ENOUGH food for the size they are!! Get your draft if you want one!! :)
Wish I had some solid facts about this but seriously, for any horse their nutrition all depends on what you do with the animal, not what breed they are.
In all honesty, the best person to ask about this would be a member named Solon, but I haven't seen her on here for a while.
As for our drafts, they get good quality grass hay when they are not being worked and grass/alfalfa mix or straight alfalfa when they are being worked. They never get any grains or sweet feeds, just a mineral block to make up for anything that may be missing from the hay. We've yet to have a problem with any of them tying up or showing any signs of EPSM. They all stay fat, healthy, and happy.
I say if you want a draft or a cross, then get one. Their diet is no more complicated than your normal horse, just different.
my clyde tb cross gets a moderate protein feed (11p/6fat) and does great on it. but i would think a full draft may have some different needs.
Thank you for all the advice this is just what I was looking for.
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