Need feeding advice for easy keeper...
Okay so I am currently leasing a 11year old mare that came to me quite overweight. She is slowly getting into shape and loosing weight. I am boarding her at my friends house. But now my friend is pushing me to feed her all these differant things. She says that coming into winter she doesn't want her to loose weight however I don't want her to just gain back what she has lost. Currently she is getting 2.5 flakes of grass hay in the morning and night. Friend said I should give her beat pulp, grain, vitamins, vegetable oil plus more hay in the winter. Is all this neccisary? This horse is an extremely easy keeper.
I also can't really trust my friend to give her the amounts I have decided on. She keeps sneaking her more food because she thinks she is hungry and not getting enough. She fibs when I ask her exactly how much she is feeding. The only way I knew was because I am going through hay much faster than I should be. So what do I do about this? Keep in mind I am boarding her there for free...
Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.
First, you need to be assertive and let your friend know that although she means well, the horse is your responsibility and you are the one responsible for her well being. Let your friend know you are grateful for the board, but you need to have control of what the horse consumes.
As for what your horse needs, well, if you are feeding high quality hay, she could be getting what she needs, but you can always add something like Smartpak or a multivitamin if you think the hay may be deficient in nutrients. I have my easy keeper on 2 flakes during the day, a Smartpak Easy Keeper vitamin, and a few hours grazing with a grazing muzzle. An easy keeper won't need beet pulp, chaff, grain, oil, or anything else!
She definitely doesn't need all that. :shock:
Like said above, just some quality hay, and give her what pasture she has. If your concerned about the extras she would get from her grain, they do make special easykeeper supplements to boost them a little.
And really, the winter might do her some good. I don't know how overweight she is, but if she still could loose some more pounds, the winter time could probably help with that.
Yeah it's just that this is my first horse and I'm not 100% sure what she should be getting. On the otherhand my friend has had horses her entire life. Currently has a TB who is a very hard keeper. This horse gets 6 flakes of hay, 6lbs of equine senior, 2 scoops of beat pulp, vitamins, and canola oil everyday.
Problem is she seems to think all this will be needed to keep weight on my mare. I think it's going to just pack on the pounds. She will be spending about 12hours a day (at night) in a stall during the winter.
I live in north/western washington so our winters are more wet than cold. Maybe will get a cold snap that lasts about a week. Lucky if we get even a couple inches of snow that stays more than a couple days. So definitely anything but a harsh winter.
Also keep in mind that she is only ridden 1-2 times a week. Mostly walking, some trot/canter on the trails. But overall not ridden hard at all. Barely breaks a sweat. So most of the time is spent standing in the pasture....
Oh and currently on local grass hay... What should I upgrade to? Timothy is $15 a bale, alfalfa is $16. A big "Jake" bale of timothy/orchard is $80. The constant changing of how much she is fed makes it extremely hard to budget out her feed. Also can't figure out how long it's gonna last. Sucks.
All those are good quality hay. Local grass hay should be fine. If you are worried, buy a multivitamin that you only feed 1 or max 2 ounces of a day. Winter is a great time for easy keepers to lose some weight. Just make sure to take good preparations for spring. I'm looking forward to winter as my mare has been a battle to lose weight and it's been so brutally hot to ride. I can't wait to get out and ride more. Is there a place at your boarding to exercise your horse, like a round pen or arena? That way if you have 30 minutes and not enough time to ride, you can get her out and have her trot around for 20-30 minutes. Any exercise helps.
As for the winter and being in the stall at night, you can buy 2 small hole hay nets, stick her 2 flakes in that, and hang it up securely. That way she'll only get a few bites at a time and the hay will last a lot longer. Plus she'll have to work for it. Especially if she's just mowing down a round bale all day. I would not buy alfalfa as a round bale. Free choice alfalfa is too much for any non working horse unless it is like -15 and they are standing in snow half way up their legs. Then they would need the energy.
Do you have a weight tape? If you do, you can be relatively scientific about it. Weight tapes are cheap. That way you can keep track of your horses weight and adjust her diet accordingly. Then you can tell your friend you know how much she weighs and you are keeping track of it - that might get her off your back and out of your hay.
I also have an extremely easy keeper and am currently adjusting his diet. I don't think all that extra stuff is necessary. If she does loose weight you can always add. The main part of their diet should be hay. I am changing my horses diet from oats to that smart pak easy keeper for grass hay, and I'm hoping it will still give him the vitamins he needs, but help slim him down a bit, as the oats he was on were just making him fatter (I was not feeding them by choice, it was his previous owner). I would consider doing something like that for your horse, and it on a good hay. You could also try a grain balancer, I've heard they are good for easy keepers!! I think if you did the smart paks or something similiar your friend couldn't feed your horse more than you wanted, as it's pre-packaged Let us know how it goes.
I always provide horses with free choice pasture or hay, for hard keepers on the ground, easy keepers in a small mesh hay net.Here is one- Small Mesh Hay Net < Hay Bags & Nets < Horse Supplies|Dover Saddlery.
It slows down their intake, and it will save you money as she isnt wasting anything. If she is barefoot, you hang it at a conformtable low height ( couple inches off the ground). If she is shod she can get her shoes stuck in it. Also, it may help with your friend as she will always have food. I would highly recommend them.And also, tell your friend " I know your trying to help, however I am really trying to keep this horse on a diet. The only feed she can get is _______. Anything else could make her seriously sick. I will feed her beet pulp and a little bit of grain if she gets to a healthy weight and I am working her, but otherwise, she can not get anything else. Please dont sneak her any food, please ask me even before you give her a small slice of carrot, or a little extra hay. It may look like she cant get her hay out of this hay net, but she can, she will still be eating the same amount just all throughout the day. It will be much healthier for her. And you are a very dear friend, and are very kind for letting me keep my horse here, you just must understand she needs to be on a very strict and limiting diet. I find it a hard sometimes not be slipping her treats, or giving her extra hay, but she could get sick if i did! "
I have all easy keepers. They are on pasture 24/7 and don't get fed at all, even through winter. A bit of weight loss through winter is natural, and good for them if they are carrying too much weight. If they ever get too lean, I just add hay.
I have one mare who is fat as butter through summer - I leave her unrugged for the first half of winter so she drops some weight, then once she is at a good weight, I put a rug on her to maintain that weight (She isn't using as much energy to keep warm). This puts her at a good weight going into spring - Without this 'letdown' period she would founder at the first sight of spring grass!
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