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Ponies As Pasture Buddies -- Founder Risk?

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  • Ponies As Pasture Buddies -- Founder Risk?

    I have 10 acres (rotated) of very nice pasture. I'd like a buddy for one horse when the other travels, he can deal, but it's just nicer. I have ruled out many things for fencing or management reasons. Including a pony due to knowing sooooo many who succumbed to founder.

    Not generally a pony person but have recently met a couple I actually, shockingly love. I had pretty much decided to go standard donkey (not a fan of the braying, but do love donkeys, it just has to be nice to horse and stand for farrier) b/c it needs to not require extra feeding and management, but thought I would ask --

    Said creature will not be in any sort of exercise program. And I don't have the time or money to make special dry lots, etc. So would any pony indeed be doomed in what I assume is my pony death pastures of lush grass or are there just some that are more prone to founder than others?

    I do NOT like my animals to be obese, I dissected a cat in my undergrad years that had fat ENCASING ITS HEART and that sent a pretty clear message! And a grazing muzzle from time to time is fine. Actually something like a 30-year-old Shetland I know with no teeth would be perfect, she can't tear up the grass anyway! But the last thing I need are more vet bills and special feed bills and and and...

    So, should I maintain my "No Ponies, Too Much Risk" policy? Or am I off base?
    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

    Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
    We Are Flying Solo

  • #2
    Get the pony. Have a muzzle available in case you need it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Guess the internet ate my previous post?

      I was suggesting you get a small, thinner made old horse for company.
      One maybe from a rescue or someone where you can try it first, to be sure they will all get along.

      A small horse won't eat or take any more care than a pony and won't be as apt to founder.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks for the thoughts - Bluey, I HATE it when that happens.

        You are right about the retirees and that is also an option if the right one comes along. Since horses are hard on pastures, I definitely want to keep it small and on the submissive side -- I already have to separate my two for feeding and am not looking for more complications.

        I'm also keeping an eye on local rescues. A friend just gave me a heads up on some recently rescued donkeys which are just the right size (poor things had slipper feet)! Some of our rescues though will ask $300-600 for animals; I am more than happy to support good rescue efforts, but not being in a superfluous financial state means every dollar counts and "FTGH" is my budget. If the right critter comes along, it will have an AWESOME home and will never have to worry about future safety.

        Oh ponies...I want to hug you, but I don't want to hurt you!
        Life doesn't have perfect footing.

        Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
        We Are Flying Solo

        Comment


        • #5
          Be careful with donkeys, they can founder just as easily as ponies.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by wildlifer View Post
            .... I definitely want to keep it small and on the submissive side -- I already have to separate my two for feeding and am not looking for more complications.
            Ha, ha- thank you for the laugh.

            I am a big fan of ponies, minis, donkeys, mules, and other similar critters, but I have yet to encounter one "on the submissive side."

            I always thought, the defiant spirit towards anybody and everything was the part of their charm.

            Anyway, if you won't be able to exercise the animal, the chances are, you will have to muzzle them for the most of their pasture time- be it a donkey or a pony.

            I would definitely recommend one though.

            Comment


            • #7
              Something that worked well for me might work well for you. I was down to 1 retiree and didn't want to buy another horse just to keep him company so I looked for someone else with a retiree. I offered free board (technically a lease situation for insurance reasons) and the owner was to pay for veterinary, farrier, and any supplements. I was very lucky in that the owner of the 2 different retired horses was honest and willing to pay vet fees as I expect an annual wellness exam, blood work including ACTH to check for Cushing's, dental and certain vaccinations. I didn't mind feeding an extra horse and taking care of them but the horse absolutely HAD to be well mannered.

              The beginning of this month I had to put my horse down and his buddy went back home as his owner has her own barn. He lives less than 5 minutes away so to get my horsey fix, I still go over and brush him and hug him. It's really helping me wean myself away from horses. At least I think it's helping.
              Sue

              I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have a similar sounding situation to you - two horses, 7ish acres of pastures with pretty good grass - and I have a pony companion. He wears a muzzle practically surgically attached to his face in the spring and fall, and I am very careful to look for the early signs of founder and will give the occasional bute as necessary. So, it can be done.

                is he submissive? Hell no! But he's a great, easy keeping, friendly little guy who is super easy to deal with and has the added bonus of loving children. So when my friends with kids come over, I can put him on cross ties and the kids can climb all over him.

                I do wish I could slim him down as he is definitely fat, but he is what he is, and without putting him into some sort of working program which would be tough given his stifle problems, it's not in the cards.
                Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by msj View Post
                  Something that worked well for me might work well for you. I was down to 1 retiree and didn't want to buy another horse just to keep him company so I looked for someone else with a retiree. I offered free board (technically a lease situation for insurance reasons) and the owner was to pay for veterinary, farrier, and any supplements. I was very lucky in that the owner of the 2 different retired horses was honest and willing to pay vet fees as I expect an annual wellness exam, blood work including ACTH to check for Cushing's, dental and certain vaccinations. I didn't mind feeding an extra horse and taking care of them but the horse absolutely HAD to be well mannered.

                  The beginning of this month I had to put my horse down and his buddy went back home as his owner has her own barn. He lives less than 5 minutes away so to get my horsey fix, I still go over and brush him and hug him. It's really helping me wean myself away from horses. At least I think it's helping.
                  This is a great idea! I have a very young retiree who would be perfect for just such an arrangement. No special care, barefoot and easy keeper. She's a great companion horse.
                  Doubled Expectations (Roxy, 2001 APHA)
                  Al Amir (Al, 2005 OTTB)
                  Ten Purposes (Rosie, 2009 OTTB)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If going for a companion, I think it's easier to have two of the same type. Either two hard keepers or two easy keepers. Thats independent of species horse/pony/donkey.
                    Just my opinion.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gypsymare View Post
                      This is a great idea! I have a very young retiree who would be perfect for just such an arrangement. No special care, barefoot and easy keeper. She's a great companion horse.
                      This worked so well for me that I had to suggest it to the OP. I was actually looking for someone who was boarding their retiree with the idea to save them some money. Turns out the owners of both horses that were my boy's companion had their own barns. It was typical of a LOT of barn owners to have more horses than stalls!

                      In the case with my last companion, when I had to euthanize my guy, I was able to send him home and his owner had actually cleared out 3 of her 9 horses so she was down to 6 and had a 6-stall barn.
                      Sue

                      I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Why not find a local rescue and become a foster home for them? That way if one isn't working out you can send it back and try a different one. Muzzle the ponies.
                        McDowell Racing Stables

                        Home Away From Home

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Christa P View Post
                          Be careful with donkeys, they can founder just as easily as ponies.
                          I was wondering about this. I looked into donkeys and read that they do best in a desert environment. Everything I read suggested a dry lot for donkeys.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            There are "ponies" who are actually small horses, and have "horse" genetics. We've found they generally don't founder any more often on good pasture than any other horse would. I've got one out there right now, a 13.3 hh. Arab. Go to a rescue and look for a guy who would fit that description.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                              Why not find a local rescue and become a foster home for them?
                              This is an excellent idea!! Given that they are able to work within my parameters. I will explore this more, thank you!

                              And LOL, yes, I agree, donkeys are sassy too, I should have chosen a better word like "not big bitchy mare who will steal everyone's food." Definitely also agree on watching the donkeys for issues as well. I know many who do well, friend has two mini donks she has to keep muzzled even on very little grass and they still stay butter fat!!

                              I did put out a note to folks I know if someone is looking to free board a small retiree, preferably something that doesn't need grain, and just pay its vet/farrier bills. This is definitely an option, too. And even more so if they are willing to help with paying for some extra fence tape so I can enclose some more areas for more rotation. I am NOT looking to make money or even run a boarding anything, as a buddy is doing me a service! I do have another neighbour with a large pony that may be an option here as well and he IS ridden by her daughter regularly. As we are settling in, I have not been able to accomodate another ridden horse (space for stuff and working), but I told her to revisit with me in a couple months.

                              Thanks so much for all the feedback, y'all bring up some great points, reminders and ideas!! I guess I have long been a muzzle-avoider because my older gelding has such a sensitive face I can't even keep a padded fly mask on him all the time and it's a huge pain to have to try to balance giving him relief and treating his nose rubs. But I really shouldn't let that dictate things -- not everything has a wussy face and a well-fit muzzle should not have the same issue.

                              But I love the thought of helping rescue fosters -- I certainly have the grass to let them hang out, am a safety nazi with good fences, a great vet and farrier, and very high care standards. Oh Laurie, you evil thing, what a horrible temptation for a person who has major issues with over-committment and a hopeless soft-spot for hard luck cases....
                              Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                              Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                              We Are Flying Solo

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Christa P View Post
                                Be careful with donkeys, they can founder just as easily as ponies.
                                This is true. My donk foundered. I didn't even think he looked all that fat. Once he recovered, I tried grazing muzzles on both him and my fat mare. They both got very good at evading me if the muzzles were removed for any reason. Once on, the donk did everything he could to get it off - including rubbing himself raw. I finally just dry lotted him and the fat mare. It was just easier.
                                "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Ponies and lush grass don't mix well. Muzzles are helpful, but they can be a real pain to deal with depending on the pony. I agree with Bluey, find a skinny horse. I love the idea of working with a rescue, that sounds like a great plan.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Chall View Post
                                    If going for a companion, I think it's easier to have two of the same type.
                                    LOL, enabling fail!!! Yes, that's what I need, TWO more animals -- hahhaa! No, I do agree, it is EASIER, but I'm trying to keep things at a minimum here.

                                    Alabama, sorry to hear about your donkey! I am glad he recovered. I have had to work with several terrible muzzle evaders too, what a pain!

                                    Thanks again for all the input, very helpful and great to help my spastic brain confirm that it's just not worth the risk.

                                    I am going to ponder some more and chat with some local rescue folks about the foster idea, though!
                                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                    Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                    We Are Flying Solo

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      What about a goat?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        With lots of lush feed, I'd stay away from easy keepers and air ferns like most ponies and donkeys. IMO a good companion horse is a mellow TB that's a medium to harder keeper. I personally get tired of dry lots and grazing muzzles and all the management that goes with the easer keepers. Bring me a skinny TB any day!

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