Another “Better to have a trainer/vet on hand but I don’t” question. Hoover the Paso-phenotype pony has plumped up nicely and tapes just under 650 pounds. We have him on a maintenance diet to stay close to 650. Some of the local grazing plants and grasses are rather weedy and I have no idea what their sugar or starch content are, especially with the drought this year. There's no place to get analyses done for sugar, starch, etc. contents. I am going by eyeball and by keeping an eye on his crest to watch out for signs of insulin resistance.
However, I’ve never been around a truly IR horse that I knew of (mostly grades and TBs), and IR wasn’t on the radar screen in the 70s and 80s when I learned what I know of horsekeeping. When we are trying to avoid ‘cresty neck’, and especially ‘Hard cresty neck’, what exactly does that look like? And what does hard feel like? Firm but you can still squish a bit and shake the crest back and forth? Rock-like and immobile? I’m finding I really don’t have much calibration between what I can feel and what descriptions I’ve heard of ‘cresty’, especially for a Paso phenotype much different from what I grew up getting my hands on. I've looked on safergrass.org but not much description of hard vs. normal, though there are a few pix of mild IR horses.
Suggestions, descriptions, photos? Our internet system is being cranky so I can't get photos to load tonight.
Here are a few pics of Hoover, the saddled ones are from mid-September and the unsaddled one from mid-August. (Yes, I’m trying to fix the saddle issues with a saddle fitter.) I don’t think he’s in trouble yet, but I want to learn to spot any problems early on. He does get ‘gassy’ a couple hours after we bring him his cut and carry grass to supplement what grazing he gets, though.
Last edited by HorsesinHaiti; Oct. 3, 2012 at 08:04 AM.
Reason: forgot to take out the list of photos
JB, he comes in to his pen for overnight, no longer than 12 hours. We can try splitting his cut & carry but it will still be effectively free choice eating for 6 hours. I wish I could test sugar and starch content to know what options might be better. Even the vets don't have the scientific name for "Dekos" grass but it’s pretty stemmy stuff, he often leaves stems.
From Katy's reference above, his neck circumference is 85cm and his height is 130 for a ratio of .65, just under the pony ‘cresty line’ of .68. In practice, do vets tend to shift their ‘concern line’ up or down if they are looking at a Paso vs a TB? His crest feels firm to my uncalibrated hands, but not hard and it is thick by nature, which will make it ‘stiffer’ mechanically.
I haven't checked often for digital pulses, I've never found one when I did. He once seemed sorefooted on a day the vet was passing through, so she checked him out but couldn't get any reaction to hoof testers. The gravel and rocks on the roads here are harsh, and reason enough for horse and human to step carefully (says someone with a newly diagnosed fractured toe from tripping on one of said rocks in one of said roads!)
Here are two pictures of the grass with which we supplement his grazing. The grass is harvested from irrigation canals so it generally isn't drought stressed. Katy, stems are often HIGHER sugar than the leaves? I'd thought the opposite, and was using the stems left behind by the sheep as lower-cal 'chew time' for Hooverpony. So much for the supposed horsey rice cakes! His paddock is otherwise a dry lot and he sometimes grazes the manure pile if he doesn't have something more appropriate to chew on. I have a simple luggage scale and if I can make a sling, I'll start weighing exactly what we're giving him as supplemental feed in the paddock/ dry lot. I should find something else to do with the stems, if those are likely to be a problem?
The old guy has a Cushingoid hard crest, it's irregular along his neck and I don't know if that's part of the Cushing's or what. The horse next door has an absolutely classic overweight crest, she is obviously overweight with the dimple down the spine etc..
You ask how hard crests feel - well they feel rather like a very inflated balloon, very full, and you can take and shake one part of the crest and the whole crest will ripple up and down the neck. They are almost like a lipoma that grows down the length of the neck - that's the closest fatty tissue I can think of that behaves similarly.
The old guy's crest is very thick and hard in some areas and more normal in others, the neighbor's mare looks like the pony in one of the links from KW.
Hoover's crest feels muscle firm, more than hard, though it's firmer than his butt muscles. It doesn't help him that I nearly compounded the toe fracture last time I rode him, and I'm just not up to exercising him. Good reason there to insist he gets half rations at night.
I can't find where I wrote it down, oddly enough, but he was taping somewhere around 530-550 pounds when I bought him last December. He's now taping 628! Quite the change! and even if his back isn't level yet, the rest of him seems to be carrying quite enough weight for a pony.