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How much does my horse need?

This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by riding for Christ riding for Christ 1 year, 8 months ago.

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  • naturalpasture Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 61

    I have a 11y/o, 15.2 hand (?), Belgian/Quarter horse cross mare. She is a relatively easy keeper, and can accurately be described as food obsessed. This summer she will be out in a pasture (clover/grass) with a grazing muzzle on for 15/16 hours each day. The remaining 8/9 hours she will be in a 50×80 grass paddock with her grazing muzzle off.

    I’m also planning to give her some hay for her to nibble on. How much hay (grass mix) should I give her in her paddock? Or does she need it? I would like to maintain her weight (if anything I would like her to gain a little towards the end of summer).

    Any ideas are welcome!

    Rhinestone Cowgirl Rhinestone Cowgirl
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 20

    Since there is grass in her paddock you can start with a flake or two and see how much or how little she eats and adjust up or down as needed to maintain the body condition you desire. Using a slow feeder hay net would be ideal, so it takes her longer to finish her hay. My horses are out full time on pasture but I still keep a slow feeder hay net filled for them. They won’t touch it when there is plenty of grass but as soon as they start eating the hay, then I know pasture is getting sparse and it’s time to supplement with extra hay. With your mare being food obsessed she may go for the hay anyway, but keeping an eye on body condition will tell you whether or not she should get more or less.

    Western Pleasure, Hunter/Jumper, Working Cow...there's an App for that!

    naturalpasture Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 61

    Thank you. That’s basically what I was thinking too, but just wanted to get some ideas. And, yes, the problem is that she will go for the hay anyway. She doesn’t eat fast, she just rarely takes a break! I’ll have to try a slow feed hay net. It may encourage her to only eat the hay if she really is hungry. :)

    Any idea what the first noticeable areas of weight gain would be? (The first little signs that may be easy to miss.)

    Her BCS was 8(!) when left to her own grazing/eating habits. And the only thing she was eating was grass!

    Rhinestone Cowgirl Rhinestone Cowgirl
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 20

    I have to laugh at your post because my sister has two draft crosses and two full size drafts (1 clyde and 1 shire), and it’s the draft crosses that are much “fleshier” and more food obsessed than her drafts! They too are on pasture alone yet maintain a high body condition score. We joke they are “air ferns,” it takes so little for them to weigh so much! Regarding weight gain, in general the first place fat deposits is behind the shoulder; if the dip between the shoulder and the barrel is filling in, that’s an indicator. The second place is the rib cage, and the rest go up in order from tail to head, so third is tail head, fourth is spine, fifth is whithers and cresty neck is sixth and last. For the slow feeder, it does help them to not blow through the hay quite as quickly, so a serving can keep them busy and satisfied much longer than if they were able to devour it free choice. There are many different types and price points in the feeders, but I just use the net with 2″ holes, and it holds about 6 flakes (coastal bermuda), so very generously sized. Our friend, a trainer who also operates a rescue, has slow feeders on her round bales set out for her drafts, which normally wouldn’t work because they’d blow through it so quickly, but the ginormous slow feeders they came out with for round bales are game-changers. I’d like to have one some day!

    Western Pleasure, Hunter/Jumper, Working Cow...there's an App for that!

    naturalpasture Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 61

    Now I know what to watch for as far as weight gain goes. Thank you.

    I actually bought a used slow feed round bale hay net. I love it! It really cuts down on waste. At first I was a little disappointed because the people who had it before I bought it had cut a few holes in it. I took some twine and tied the holes up. I soon learned that my horses needed those enlarged holes. I’m not sure if the net had extra small holes or if it my horses were just too big (one is about 17 hands and weighs 2,000lbs), but they couldn’t get enough hay through the original holes. :( So I untied the enlarged holes and that worked really well. They could get to the hay, but the net kept any hay that they dropped from getting tracked around.

    The round bale hay net was certainly a great idea!

    riding for Christ riding for Christ
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 118

    Since you do turn the horse out, I would suggest turn it out in the day not at night. When ever you do put it in the paddock start giving it hay then gradually take the hay away. If the horse does drop weight till it looks like its not fat enough, give it hay. Many times this has helped me. Hope this helps!

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