Feeding startegy for air fern pony prone to ulcers
So I have this pony mare, 13.2 hands, who is an air fern! But also very prone to ulcers...
She lives out 24/7, with another pony mare, and next to my 2 geldings. She gets free choice hay, which amounts to about 2% of her body weight. Her hay is scattered aroung her large paddock for more movement. Also 1/4 cup of flax seed mixed with her vitamins and minerals. That's it.
So if I reduce the hay to make her lose a bit of weight, won't the ulcers tend to flare up?
I wish I could ride her more often but it's winter here and the footing is icy still. She gets more riding time in the spring,summer, and fall. But in summer, she goes to the big grass field and gets even fatter! This year she'll get a grazing muzzle. But then again, won't the ulcers flare up?
She gets ulcers in fall, during the change of season and also if we go traveling by trailer.
I sympathize. You could try a low NSC hay like teff, if you can get it. There are a number of supplements around that are supposed to help - Smartpak carries several. Neighlox was mentioned by my vet as a product that works well - I think you can use it regularly.
Probably worth trying to find hay that is as low in NSC as possible.
A grazing muzzle is a must, IMO, with these chubby ones that are prone to laminitis. A determined pony WILL learn to eat with one on, despite the pitiful histrionics that come first, and it actually keeps the "flow" of hay more natural--small bite by small bite--which is how the stomach is maximally protected.
Laminitis is horrible, crippling, painful and often a death sentence. Ulcers are a nuisance and can be both prevented and treated effectively. I'd sooner prevent the former at all costs, even if it makes the risk of the latter slightly higher. Which I do *not* think muzzling will do. My Shetland does not set foot on grass without her muzzle on.