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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
ok so my vet said my horse gets "hay belly". I have had her since June now, and it isn't getting any better. Hay belly is when a horse gets really gassy from eating hay and she gets bad. The vet said for me to feed her mostly feed like Strategy and then a little bit of hay. So I did that and gradually weaned her off of so much grain and started to give her more hay. Her belly is getting bad again, so i started giving her more feed and less hay again. Is there an alternative i can do like a type of gas-x for horses? I am so worried she is going to get gas colic! :sad:
 

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You're doing more harm by limited her hay. Hay is necessary and you should never be feeding more concentrates than hay to an otherwise healthy horse. How good is your hay? If it's mature, she could be having more trouble processing it. Look for a more immature, lower fiber, higher quality hay. If her forage is straight grass, replace part of it with alfalfa. Alfalfa will be lower in fiber. Have you tried adding a pre/probiotic daily to her diet? Is she turned out 24/7? The gentle strolling will help the digestion process.
 

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Had a old gelding that looked pregnant all the time, he had a super narrow chest and with exercise seemed to help greatly. Rode him 3 times a week and it seemed to dissapear. He was turned out 24/7 and had grass and roundbales with 2 scoops strategy a day. He was with about 7 other horses all that food wasn't for him.
 

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Have you tried putting her hay into a slow feeder? That'll help make her food more regulated, less gas and less food in her stomach at one time so it's a healthier and more natural routine. You could also do stretches, just like with people it helps for a horse to stretch out to get out the "kinks" so to speak. It's not uncommon for my mare to fart after a light warm up :lol:
 
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Is the pasture too lush maybe? Or the hay too easy to eat? I spread my hay and if the grass in the field is too long and thick, I limit the amount of time in that particular field and move to a more "worn" field. 1. this keeps my fields nicer, 2. limits hay belly because in the "worn" field the horse has to move around more to get the forage they need. I agree that only in exceptional circumstances should hay be limited. Perhaps she is missing in some nutrient that aids in digestion? Perhaps she needs more water -- does she drink enough? How much does she urinate?
 

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Hay belly is caused by eating a lot of lower quality hay. They eat more because they aren't getting enough nutrition. If you can't get better quality hay, feed soaked beet pulp. It's cheaper than those expensive feeds. Also feeding soaked beet pulp helps get needed water into the horse.

A couple of ours had really bad hay bellies the last year we boarded them. A month after we started giving them beet pulp, their bellies went away, even with the poor quality hay.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I will definitely try the beetpulp! I will hit a feed store today. She is boarded in more of a run, but I let her out daily to goof off with my friends horses.

As far as the whole hay thing, I always try to spread her hay around her pen as much as possible so she has to act more like she is foraging for it. I'm still feeding her three times a day as the stable master doesn't feed that often, and I don't like how he feeds the horses.

I try to push water for her a lot. Every time I give her her feed I soak it in water so she gets more. I actually don't see her pee or drink very often, but that's because I'm not down there for more then about 2 hours a day or less. (full time college student and 30 hrs/week job)

I ride her usually every other day, more if I had a new saddle. (mine didnt fit so currently in the "in between saddles" phase) But she still gets turned out for about an hour or longer every day.

I will try the beet pulp right away today. Thank you for your help!
 

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Hay bellies can be from a lack of protein.......do you know what level of protein your hay is .......if it is low quality ....say below 5% then that might be your reason........add some higher quality hay like orchard or alfalfa to get her protein levels up.

Super Nova
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
How much beet pulp should I feed her? Im going to start a new feed regimen today by starting with a bit more hay and start the beet pulp with her regular feed to get this goin gradually.
 

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How old is she, and how is her weight? My IR mare's first symptoms were bloating and frequent gas colics. She went from being completely fine on pasture 24/7 to full blown IR right around age 7. She now gets a supplement called Remission and does not get access to grass, and she's back to a great weight, no gas/bloating, and no colicking (knock on wood).

The other thing that gets mistaken for a hay belly all too often is a worm belly. Have you considered having a fecal done to check her parasite load?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
shes only 5. Shes been on hay since I've had her. (except last summer when we would go on walks just so I could let her graze) The only time her belly goes down is when we go on trail rides that are either super taxing for her and involve some climbing and lots of walking, or the ones that are like 4 hours long. People have asked me if she is pregnant before and when we come back from a ride I'll have had to stop and adjust her girth and back cinch a couple of times because of the amount of gas that comes out of her while we ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I tried the beet pulp and she was so bloated today that my heart skipped a beat... and not in a good way. now what?
 

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Slow feeder first and foremost, more regular exercise to keep her moving like an hour every day, and up her protein. I would use a bit of Alfalfa hay mixed in her slow feeder net to be sure she is getting adequate protein. Her overall body condition would determin how much I would give her. Poor topline but fat belly would make me give more than a fat horse with a big belly.

Also, deworm well with something like Quest Plus that gets all worms or do a power pack (quest works just fine and is cheaper) and make sure the horse is clean.

Feed a daily probiotic toaid digestion.

Also, plain grass hay is usually low on certain nutrients. Id be inclined to use a ration balancer daily to make sure she is getting adequate nutrition. It is possible for a horse to have tons to eat and still be malnourished if the forage doesnt provide enough nutrition. Usually, hay belly is caused by low protien content and the horse overeating to try to get what it needs.

A good evaluation of the horses nutrition is prbably a good idea but a slow feeder, a daily quality ration balancer and some alfalfa usually does the trick.

Last thing is again the quality of the hay she is eating. If it is mostly fibrous over mature stems and barely any leaf blades, she wont be able to help but to have a hay belly because the forage is very indigestable and mostly bulky fiber. The way to tell is if you dig your fingers into the hay and it feels prickly, it is not good horse quality hay and is overmature or weedy hay. Good hay should be soft when you dig your fingers into it.

Long story short, Hay belly is 99% a management issue. You just have to figure out what the cause is and methodically change things till you get it.
 

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I have never had a horse with hay belly till this winter when our new mare blew up like a balloon. We started feeding her hay out of slow feeders and changed her to a more sufficient grain. We also took up all the round bales and just started offering square bales. It only took a couple weeks to notice a huge improvement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I started her on beet pulp, so we are going slow with that, she is on Strategy for all of its vitamins and proteins in it, and I give her ohhh I would say about 20-25 lbs of hay daily right now and that is spread around her pen so she has to more or less "forage" for it.

Of the Strategy, she gets a pint and a half of a day
I now have added the beet pulp. I give her two cups dry, so about 6-8 cups after soaked of that.
And then her hay which I spread out to her 2-3 times a day so she is eating as often and frequently as possible
 

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I believe Strategy is meant to be fed at least 4 lbs or so a day minimum. You need to check the weight of the feed you are giving in a day and if it is not 4 lbs, switch to a ration balancer.
 

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You can get couple of small mesh hay feeders from Chicks for about $15. Stuff them with hay and hang them well apart so she walks back and forth. They hold about 3 flakes of hay each. This will slow her down so she's nibbling rather than wolfing down big mouthfuls. The faster it goes in the faster it comes out, that's the way a horse's system works. Also, if feeding grain put it in the absolutely biggest container you can find. Even an old door with boards nailed to the edges will work. The better it is scattered, the more she has to nibble.
 
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