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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 9, 2012
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    128

    Default Help me figure out my new OTTB

    4 y/o OTTB mare - new, just a few weeks off the track. Basically a quiet mare. Needs some pounds of course. VERY PICKY EATER. Supplements will be tossed and she will only eat one type of grain - Seminole Compete Safe. Teeth fine, omeprazole being given.

    Generally I'm wondering how to handle this part. I have a large field (6 acres w/ a run in) and a round pen situated just a few feet from the field's fence line. No stalls (this is Florida). Two other horses, both quiet geldings. Mare goes out with them most of the day and overnight. I put her in round pen to eat. I WANT to be able to keep her in the pen for a few hours each evening with alfalfa and peanut hay so she gets some better hay (fat geldings have access to coastal roll only). But, she is a busy body, paces around the pen, has to stop and stare at everything, and just picks at the hay. In three hours, she'll only finish about 1/2 of a flake of anything.

    Now, she is not screaming, and the pacing is actually a pretty slow walk, back and forth, with pauses to grab a mouthful of hay. She's not having an anxiety attack or anything. The other horses are well within her sight, and rarely more then a few feet from the fence line near the pen (maybe 30 feet away, if that).

    I HATE herd bound horses. I want to keep separating her so she realizes that this is the routine and it's no big deal. Usually when I put up horses in the round pen with feed or alfalfa they are in heaven; but food is just not that important to her. But - I'm wondering if it's counter-productive since she's not really eating up the hay and is burning calories by walking back and forth.

    I don't have another pasture to put her in on a permanent basis. My options are: Make the pen much smaller so she can't wander as much and is basically forced to be right in front of the hay (which is in a trough); make a separate pen right next to her and put up one of the geldings while she eats (it kills me to do this and give in to her herd bound nature); keep doing what I'm doing and hope she settles into the routine a little better with some more time; or, tie her up with a hay net full of alfalfa (she does tie fine and there is a large tree in her pen).

    Thoughts? Ideas? Basically I'm trying to nip the herd boundness before it becomes a big problem, while at the same time finding a situation she is comfortable with.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 7, 2010
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    I would tie one of the geldings near her in the pen where you are giving her extra goodies.
    She just can't give up and eat- right now, she's probably hurting from ulcers and so she maybe doesn't want to eat much...and that makes her MORE anxious to go back to her friends. So yes, I think your current program is counter-productive since she is just using that time to worry about where her friends are. You don't want that to be what happens every time she goes somewhere else.
    If her friend is nearby (and possibly eating coastal hay out of a net, showing her what to do) she could learn to be quiet and eat during 'eating time'. I'd tie a gelding right next to her, just far enough away that he can't eat HER hay.
    Assuming she starts to eat, you can then tie her friend farther away, working him away very slowly (maybe over a few weeks, if needed) until she can go eat by herself.
    Right now she has no idea that she can go off and eat by herself, and that is a NICE thing.
    So break it down really, really small, showing her that she can go somewhere (to a new pen, an arena, tied to the trailer) and be OK. This will have to involve friends at first, but if you START where she is happy (ie with food and buddies) and very gradually begin to introduce other things, such as grooming, longeing/groundwork, riding, so that she doesn't get anxious about it, she'll learn to let go of her friends. But right now, I think without her friends showing her how to chill out, she just won't.

    My own OTTB gelding would not settle down, even directly across one fence line from my other two horses. (It was pasture- too rich for the other horses, and the pen the other horses were in was too small to add the OTTB). He ran around and tore up the pasture and really, really got on DH's nerves. We put a (gentle) bull in with the OTTB, and he then had a buddy he could go graze with. Three weeks later, we had to turn the bull out with cows, but OTTB had learned that he could go graze, or hang out QUIETLY across the fence from the other horses, so he didn't go back to galloping around every five minutes. And at that point, he had peace in his life, so I think his tummy didn't hurt any more from ulcers, so he could eat appropriately and be calm.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 6, 2002
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    Oregon
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    5,997

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    Quote Originally Posted by justhoofit View Post

    I WANT to be able to keep her in the pen for a few hours each evening with alfalfa and peanut hay so she gets some better hay (fat geldings have access to coastal roll only).
    How familiar are you with OTTB's? In *general*, they aren't chowhounds. They browse, munch, and pick. Many are used to being stalled with a hay net tied near or outside the door. You might try hanging a hay net for her, but IMO, you are going to have to make some adjustments to your program and figure out a more permanent area for her to eat where she can take her time. I think moving her to a different area for mealtime is probably adding to her stress level, which causes the pacing and distraction.

    If she needs weight, I'd put her in a pasture with neighbors and throw as much good quality hay as she will eat, either in nets or thrown in a couple different piles. I've had good luck in the past with throwing less, but more often - a flake or two AM, a flake at lunch, another flake or two at dinner, and then another before bed. If I'm up late, I'll even march out there at 12 or 1am and throw another.
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
    lies with in us. - Emerson



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 22, 2006
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    It doesn't exactly seem like "herd bound" behavior. When I think herd bound I think running and calling, not just walking around. Horses are herd animals. They're going to be interested in what their pasture mates are doing. It sounds like she's not that into the hay you're giving her.
    Last edited by ptownevt; Nov. 18, 2012 at 07:57 PM. Reason: spelling
    "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp



  5. #5
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    Apr. 22, 2006
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    Is there enough grass in the 6 acres that she isn't that hungry for hay?
    "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp



  6. #6
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    Nov. 9, 2012
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    I've had a few dozen OTTB's over the years. Never one this picky about eating hay. A few were picky about the grain, but once the ulcer meds kick in that usually goes away.

    As stated, there is only the one large pasture with a run-in, and the round pen. So, I can't put her in a different pasture with hay. That would be ideal of course. The round pen is literally about 20 feet from the pasture, and the boys make a point to stand right by the fence until she's turned back out again, so I'm not sure why she's worried about it.

    Today someone beat her up a bit, as she came in with two fresh bite marks. This actually worked to my favor, as she was more then happy to get put up with hay. She ate quite well. She must have been really annoying someone, as neither one of the boys are prone to biting unless provoked.

    I think the other thing I might try is putting the two boys in the round pen for a couple of hours and leaving her in the field with her alfalfa hay (so basically the reverse of the current situation). Maybe there's something about the pen she doesn't care for.



  7. #7
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    Nov. 9, 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptownevt View Post
    It doesn't exactly seem like "herd bound" behavior. When I think herd bound I think running and calling, not just walking around. Horses are herd animals. They're going to be interested in what their pasture mates are doing. It sounds like she's not that into the hay you're giving her.
    Thanks. We've tried two different types of alfalfa (both are fresh, look great, leafy, one is a little stemmier so I went out and got the "softer" type also) and also peanut hay.

    She does eat it - just not in the amounts that I would like.

    There isn't much grass left right now; dying off unfortunately! Her favorite hay is the coastal roll which is in the field. I see her eating quite a bit of that. It is excellent quality that is grown locally by a very experienced hay farmer, so I understand why she likes it. But - the alfalfa would help her stomach and help put on the calories, hence why I'm trying to find an arrangement that works for her.



  8. #8
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    Jan. 31, 2003
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    Take this FWIW but when I get a new horse that needs weight, OTTB or not, I try to keep everything as low key as possible while I get them eating how I want.

    In her case, I would try to focus on her concentrates providing the majority of her weight gain calories. I would put her in the round pen to eat a ration balancer, a fat supplement (probably oil to keep the amount low), oats or alfalfa pellets, tri-amino and minerals (protein, some carbs/starches, fat for calories, aminos for muscle gain, minerals because OTTBs tend to be depleted). I would let her chow down on the round bale if she likes it. I would split her food up into as many small feedings as I could. Eventually you could add some alfalfa in a hay net and see if she settles in there enough to eat it. But the eating/walking thing is, IMO, counterproductive.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  9. #9
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    Nov. 9, 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by EqTrainer View Post
    Take this FWIW but when I get a new horse that needs weight, OTTB or not, I try to keep everything as low key as possible while I get them eating how I want.

    In her case, I would try to focus on her concentrates providing the majority of her weight gain calories. I would put her in the round pen to eat a ration balancer, a fat supplement (probably oil to keep the amount low), oats or alfalfa pellets, tri-amino and minerals (protein, some carbs/starches, fat for calories, aminos for muscle gain, minerals because OTTBs tend to be depleted). I would let her chow down on the round bale if she likes it. I would split her food up into as many small feedings as I could. Eventually you could add some alfalfa in a hay net and see if she settles in there enough to eat it. But the eating/walking thing is, IMO, counterproductive.
    Thanks - I will try increasing her concentrates; although she tends to leave a little bit of that also. It absolutely must be plain or she won't eat it. No supplements. I can't even sprinkle a little salt on top. She will chew it up, spit it out and leave the rest. It can't be wet either. It's clearly a taste thing with her; must have been getting a lot of supps at the track and she's totally over it. she's totally a diva. I've also tried about 5 different grain types, with the Compete Safe being the one she seems to like the best (by far). She will NOT eat Grow N Win, rice bran pellets, any pelleted feed for that matter, and definitely not beet pulp. She actually flung the bucket at me with the beet pulp in it. I could try alfalfa pellets, but my suspicion is that she will leave that also.

    She's so speshul. Truth is, I really like her even though she's a PITA. She's very kind, not a mean bone in her body. Not spooky at all. Even this minor anxiety is worrying me more then her. She's not screaming, not trotting or running around. Just pacing the length of the pen and not cleaning up the hay the way I wish she would.

    I think I'm going to put the boys in the pen for a couple of hours each night, leave her in the field where she's comfortable, then put out the alfalfa. This way it's not like she's having to move to a different place. Wish me luck.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 7, 2009
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    Lexington, KY
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    Every OTTB I've taken in, that hasn't been let down from the track, is used to large grain meals. Have you tried TC Senior or adding Empower? TC senior is a complete feed, you can add pounds on fairly quickly.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Jul. 14, 2010
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    It will just take some time, time to let down, time for her to get used to the routine, the new feed. It will work out. I like the idea of putting the geldings in and leaving her out. Or in the round pen, put several small piles of hay in spots so that she has more choices of when to "pick it up on the way past". I found oil (I like olive oil) and beet pulp and low starch grain mixed with some water (you don't have to let it sit long, the beet pulp shreds suck up the water quickly) worked best for my OTTB gelding, plus a TON of hay. I used Timothy/Orchard mostly with a flake of bermuda and a flake of alfalfa as well. My guy ate hay like it was going out of style and it still wasn't until I added the olive oil that he really started to put weight on. I do agree not to give in the the herd boundness though. That is seriously annoying. Just give her time, she'll chill out soon. Good luck



  12. #12
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    Aug. 3, 2009
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    Move the free hay or round bales closer to the round pen. Some horses like to eat together.... Her attention will be more on eating then what everyone else is doing



  13. #13
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    Jan. 31, 2003
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    You may wan to just take her off concentrates altogether then. I know it seems counterintuitive but if she is seriously refusing basic feeds, her stomach is probably truly bothering her. Plus, a few weeks off resets the button sometimes. I then add back what I want them to eat, a handful at a time.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


    1 members found this post helpful.

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