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Discussion Starter #1
The horse I lease is an 'easy keeper'. seems no matter what we do he still has 'butt pillows' and a cresty neck. He's hungry all the time, no matter what or how much food is given .

Your horse? is he/she a hard keeper?

which situtation is more frustrating to deal with, in your opinion?. and, how do you deal with it?
 

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Personally, I'd much rather have an easy keeper than a hard keeper.

For me, it's easier to restrict a horse's eating (and increase exercise) than it is to get one to eat more. "You can lead a horse to food but you can't make them eat."
 

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Definitely the 'easy keeper', they're a nightmare unless you've got a good 3 hours minimum to really work them properly most every day.
Trying to balance giving them enough food to not put them at risk of ulcers and them not fence walking or field hopping or pacing around the stable developing bad habits while keeping weight off them is really hard.


Most hard keepers have some underlying problem and once you get that fixed they're no longer hard keepers!!


Several of the horses I have now were sold to me as hard keepers - not any more they aren't!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
We have all day turn out on pasture available to any of the horses at the barn, but the easy keepers are often forced to be on dry paddocks, becuase they will just eat themselves into sausages! (so round they look that way).

X has been on a dry lot for two months, timothy hay, no alfalfa , no grain. We try to ride him as much as we can, but it's really only 3 times a week or so . . . and he looks as fat as ever. The only time I"ve seen him get into better condition was when he was ridden 5 times a week, hard. He is an Andalusian, and seems able to live on air, except that he is HUNGRY~!
which means that when I take him out to tack up, I cannot resist giving him a bit more to nibble on. He just seems driven to distraction looking for something to eat, but is fat, fat, fat!
 

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X has been on a dry lot for two months, timothy hay, no alfalfa , no grain. .

He just seems driven to distraction looking for something to eat, but is fat, fat, fat!
This would really concern me as a metabolic issue that needs medication from a vet.

You don't mention vitamins or minerals although I know you are giving in adequate amounts for the horses weight....
That horse could be hungry, genuinely hungry although "round"...
Consider a full blood panel and chemistry done as something is out of whack someplace and needs attention.

I have a easy keeper and I have a hard keeper and then those in the middle of both my problem children...
My hard-keeper lacks for nothing in his diet and is just older and a hard-keeper being that Thoroughbred metabolism of needing more calories.
My easy-keeper gets fed empty calories and a ration balancer....ration balancer you know why but those empty calories are fed so he leaves my other horses eating their feed ration alone in peace.
He is a pest and intimidates at feeding time if not having his own portion to chow down on...
:runninghorse2:....
 

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I'll take a hard keeper over an easy keeper, hand down. I'd rather feed more than have to restrict and exercise constantly.

I've got a hard keeper. My previous horse was on the easier side. Was fat in the summer, but not dangerous. Hated it.
 

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Definitely the 'easy keeper', they're a nightmare unless you've got a good 3 hours minimum to really work them properly most every day.
Trying to balance giving them enough food to not put them at risk of ulcers and them not fence walking or field hopping or pacing around the stable developing bad habits while keeping weight off them is really hard.


Most hard keepers have some underlying problem and once you get that fixed they're no longer hard keepers!!


Several of the horses I have now were sold to me as hard keepers - not any more they aren't!!!

I.m with Jaydee on this one!
When a horse is advertised as an easy keeper, that is NOT a plus for me
A hard keeper can be on full turn out, get extra food, have under lying condition discovered, and treated.

An easy keeper spells MANAGEMENT., esp if they like Carmen, have learned to get ride of every grazing muzzle out there!
Yup, thus I have excess pasture, acres of it, but need to lock up my easy keepers, at least part time and feed hay, which I now buy,-more in summer then in winter!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
This would really concern me as a metabolic issue that needs medication from a vet.

You don't mention vitamins or minerals although I know you are giving in adequate amounts for the horses weight....
That horse could be hungry, genuinely hungry although "round"...
Consider a full blood panel and chemistry done as something is out of whack someplace and needs attention.

I have a easy keeper and I have a hard keeper and then those in the middle of both my problem children...
My hard-keeper lacks for nothing in his diet and is just older and a hard-keeper being that Thoroughbred metabolism of needing more calories.
My easy-keeper gets fed empty calories and a ration balancer....ration balancer you know why but those empty calories are fed so he leaves my other horses eating their feed ration alone in peace.
He is a pest and intimidates at feeding time if not having his own portion to chow down on...
:runninghorse2:....
I agree. But , horse is not mine.
I would want to know if there is an insulin imbalance issue. in other respects, he is very hardy.
Additionally , his owner says that she does not worm as a routine but does fecal counts.
 

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I have both a hard keeper and an easy keeper. I'd choose the easy keeper, myself.

You can cut back an easy keeper's feed - how much they weigh depends entirely on how many calories you allow them to consume. They might want to eat more, but you can keep them healthy (this assumes you didn't let things get out of control in the first place and end up with bad hoof issues).

But how do you get calories into a horse that just won't eat enough? Not to mention, it only gets cheaper as you cut back on the easy keeper - no grain, just vitamins. The hard keeper gets more expensive as you add ulcer treatments, digestive supplements, things to balance the gut flora, different types of hay to tempt the palate, various fats and oils, beet pulp, complete feed, etc. Sometimes the issue is solvable, but with bad teeth, poor digestive absorption, chronic gut acidity, it can take a long time to get to the bottom of things and sometimes you can't fix it.

There are horses that have issues that make them feel hungry all the time. I've read about leptin resistance (no "shut off" for appetite), and horses with Cushing's have elevated cortisol levels - if you've ever talked to someone who has taken steroids like cortisol or prednisone they can attest to how hungry that makes you feel. Still, considering the horse's health and not feeding them as much as they'd like to eat, the weight can be controlled and the insulin resistance kept manageable if that is the problem.

I believe the main obstacles to an easy keeper are if you don't have the ability to manage the environment: say you don't own the property and can't make a good setup without a lot of grazing. Or if you don't have someone who can feed the horse to your specifications.
With the hard keeper, they can be sitting up to their ears in lush hay, pellets, everything else, and still be thin!
And there's no compunction about exercising the horse that tends to be chubby - more is better. You don't have to think about losing those precious pounds by riding too far.
 

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I'd choose an easy keeper over a hard keeper just based off I live in the desert and have no real pasture. Better quality hay to keep a hard keeper fed up is a little harder to come by where as I can get meadow grass bales so easily.

This is my busiest time of year and I'm using my horses fairly hard. An easy keeper will hold their weight better especially since our weather is changing. I like them to go into winter in good flesh. It's harder to do with a hard keeper and I may have to lay him off earlier in the year or not use him as much.
 
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Thankfully, mine are somewhere in the middle; they are on free-feed grass hay with a ration balancer supplement. They are also on 24/7 turnout, but their pasturage isn't real lush; they get some fresh greenage in the summer; not much otherwise. I guess I would rather deal with a skinny horse than a fatty-boo, all else being equal; easier to feed more than to un-feed, with all of the problems that causes.
Here is a link to an interesting article, for those of you dealing with easy keeps; might provide "food" for thought:
Study: Fat Ponies Will Work for Food | TheHorse.com

Steve
 

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That study is behind the times. The only "new" concept is making them walk around to the other side of the feeder. It's my opinion that automatic feeders work the same, two sides or no. The horse eats a set amount of feed, walks away, and walks back when the feeder drops the next feed. There are so many wacko ideas out there concerning paddock paradise, slow feeders, etc. But what works, works. Each horse owner that does not have access to pasture must deal with it.
 

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Honey, who's my worst 'easy keeper', has been tested for IR/metabolic issues and she comes up problem free, she's also not got any thyroid imbalances and has so far never had laminitis.
She just thrives on thin air but like Tinyliny's horse isn't happy to be on what she considers to be starvation rations.
If I put her on a bare field hay she thinks nothing about jumping into a field where she can see some grass - K will do the same. If I put her on the manège where the fence is higher she paces around in between slow feeder hay nets or digs a big hole by the gate


I'm not sure what 'empty calories' really means where horse feed is concerned because unless you're feeding shavings and cardboard with some added baler twine everything has some food value, even hay that's been soaked.


K was on the thin side when we bought her, despite not having been worked for some time but after having her teeth done, a good de-worming and treating for ulcers she's another 'easy keeper' who we have to battle with to to keep the weight off
 

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That study is behind the times. The only "new" concept is making them walk around to the other side of the feeder.
Well, yea; that's kinda what the study was about; exercising to get food vs standing around eating all day:
"In an innovative study, researchers in Australia tested a novel dynamic feeding device and studied whether exercise alone could effectively decrease body fat."

And the conclusion was that exercise is necessary, not that _that_ should surprise anyone, but here is a controlled study with numerical evidence:
"In combination with a restricted diet, consistent low-intensity exercise associated with a dynamic feeding system decreased body fat percentage, BCS, and CNS in obese ponies. Additionally, the dynamic feeding system could improve insulin sensitivity."

This would seem to offer some insight into providing better husbandry for those equines who seem to get fat on air, which is why I shared the link.

Steve
 

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I would rather have an easy keeper - but I work from home so feeding many small meals per day would not be an issue. My current mare is not a real "hard keeper" but it takes quite a bit more to keep her at a good weight. Her biggest issue seems to be that she is picky - about hay, water, grain, her stall etc. And is easily distracted while eating - to the point she leaves her food to watch the other horses eat their food!
 

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I've never had an easy keeper, so I guess I'm bias, but after having hard keepers, I just want a fat horse. (Okay not really but still)
I would love to not spend so much on feed, and shovel so much feed down his throat. I blame my hot climate as well, it's not all him. And he's getting there. But it is bloody hard work.
Also the slightest thing seems to make them drop weight in one day, but takes one month to get it back.
Not frustrated at all :lol:
 

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The point I was trying to make is that exercise should be considered in any trickle feeding system. What they have in this study is great, but what I have works just as well because I keep my water at the opposite end of my corral. My horse eats a small amount, walks around a bit and eats another small amount when the feeder drops. That is what I meant by this study being behind the times. Everybody who uses a trickle feeding system is probably well enough informed to know that the horse should be moving in between feedings.
 
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