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How much pasture time/hay for chubby horses?

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  • How much pasture time/hay for chubby horses?

    Here in North Florida, we have quite nice pastures. I was turning everyone out overnight and putting them in a dry lot during the day. Usually they are in the drylot by 9 am, get 1 flake of hay around 1 pm, a half flake to one flake of hay around 5 pm, turnout at 9 pm. This means they get 12 hours of pasture and 1.5 to 2 flakes of coastal hay a day.

    They get 1 handful of grain with a vitamin mineral supplement.

    Unfortunately, this isn't working so well and they are getting quite chunky and fat. Too much grass.

    I'm thinking of turning them out from 5-9pm, give them 2 flakes in the drylot overnight, turnout in morning for 1 hour, then 1 flake of hay for lunch. This would give them 5 hours of pasture and 3 flakes of hay a day.

    I don't want them to get ulcers from going too long without hay and I don't want them gaining any more weight.

    Does this sound reasonable? How do you manage your chunky horses on pasture? I could turn them out only on short pastures but they would probably just eat the grass to the roots.

  • #2
    I have a chunky horse, or would be, but I put him on 8 to 12 hours of pasture this year instead of 24/7 with a dry lot and slow feeder the rest of the time. You could limit their pasture time or use muzzles. When they have hay, I would put it in slow feeder haynets. It will last longer then. Usually I can manage said chunky animal with exercise, but he's on holiday due to another issue and the slow feeder is really helpful.


    • #3
      Try muzzles. They will get the benefit of being out on pasture without the calories. Don't graze fat horses on stubble.
      "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."


      • #4
        Originally posted by 4horses View Post
        Here in North Florida, we have quite nice pastures. I was turning everyone out overnight and putting them in a dry lot during the day.
        Fatties should be muzzled on grass

        Usually they are in the drylot by 9 am, get 1 flake of hay around 1 pm,
        4 hours at a stretch, every day, with no food?

        I'm thinking of turning them out from 5-9pm, give them 2 flakes in the drylot overnight, turnout in morning for 1 hour, then 1 flake of hay for lunch. This would give them 5 hours of pasture and 3 flakes of hay a day.
        Assuming the flakes are in the 4lb range, you may find they eat them too quickly, so you're likely going to have to get creative with a slow feeding system - hay pillows (if they're barefoot), nets, double nets, etc
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          I had the same issue with my mare for the first time this year and the only solution was a grazing muzzle. I like the Green Guard and she tolerates it very well. I can have her out all day and when I dry lot at night she gets a large amount of hay and is holding her ideal weight well.

          Otherwise I was having to keep her on the dry lot way too much and with very little hay.


          • #6
            Yes, grazing muzzle. I use the Greenguard muzzle, and I think it's the best thing since sliced bread. My horse wears the muzzle 8-12 hours a day. When the grass is really lush, at mid-day I put him in a dry lot with hay for 3-4 hours to give him a break from the muzzle and let him digest the morning's grass. Then I turn him out for another 4-5 hours with the muzzle, then in to the barn for the night. His hay is late cut stemmy bluestem. Not as tasty as bermuda or orchardgrass, but I figure the grass is enough sweet for him. I supplement with a forage balancer and a handful of oats, and he has a mineral block at night. I adjust his routine depending on the quality of the grass and his body condition.


            • #7
              another vote for greenguard muzzles. I have a super easy keeper in hard work and an easy keeper retiree on PM turnout with muzzles and dry lot+hay during the day. They get ration balancer + 1/2 bale (4-5ish) flakes of fescue hay during the day. The retiree is a bit tubby, but it is really mostly retiree hay belly. The super easy keeper looks amazing.

              I don't think green guards would work on this much time in pastures for an IR or really morbidly obese horse, but I'm super happy that I can work it out that mine have some kind of forage available for all but maybe 4 hours a day.
              Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


              • #8
                My vet told me to reduce hay to 14-16 lbs per day in a small hole net, 20 min or so of pasture (next to nothing). Now pony is at an awesome weight. I was feeding close to free choice, that did not work for this pony.


                • #9
                  How much hay a horse/pony should get, when trying to reduce weight, or keep it from blowing up, should be in terms of % of ideal body weight. No less than 1%, ideally 2%, but between the 2 might be necessary. 16lb might be 2% for that pony if he's 800lb, but if it's a 1000lb horse, that same 2% is 20lb.

                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                  • #10
                    Probably much simpler to tell a pony owner, who maybe is young, the pounds rather than the percent. Save the owner from some possible miscalculations.
                    "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."


                    • #11
                      But someone has to know how much weight to even tell someone, and why not educate them in the process?

                      But (again), that wasn't my point - the point was that just saying "I feed 14lb of hay to my pony and he's in great weight" has no context around it - small pony on the small end of the scale? Large pony on the large end of the scale?

                      It's like me saying "my easy keeping WB eats about 30lb hay a day and is in good weight". It wouldn't be appropriate for anyone to assume *their* easy keeping WB can eat that much.

                      mlb722 that is not at all directed at you
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                      • #12
                        I have 2 QH's (barely 15 and 15.3 hands). One gets fat looking at grass the other is harder to keep weight on. My schedule was recommended by vet and nutritionist.

                        -Dry lot 24/7
                        -Grass turnout each evening around 6pm for 2-3 hours
                        -4/5 Flakes of hay (fescue with a bit of orchard) in a slow feeder at night and same in the morning.

                        The chunk is on a balancer and the other is on grain 2x's day. They are both doing really well with this schedule. They typically don't finish their hay. If they get less grass time they will finish the hay (sometimes I hand graze for 30 mins if I'm not around to do the few hours of turnout-per my vet).

                        If I wanted to turnout for longer I could get a muzzle for the chunk. But this schedule works well for me and them and our current pasture situation.


                        • #13
                          My chunky QH currently gets 12 hrs overnight on grass pasture, dry lotted during the day. Neither of my horses bother eating hay at all during the day, just waits to be turned back out. I'm watching fatty closely, as some years I've had to limit his grass to closer to 5-6hrs day (he'd then eat some hay from a slow feed net.) Tried 2 different grazing muzzles, but they were just too hot for him to tolerate - but he tends to struggle in our Texas heat.


                          • #14
                            Grazing muzzle, ultra slow feed (1 inch hole) hay nets, and exercise. My previously portly Fjords are on day time pasture and stalled at night. 15-20 # of hay in the nets at night. Keeps them looking pretty darn good at an appropriate healthy weight. Sometimes you just have to practice tough love.


                            • #15
                              I do the free-choice grass hay, 3-4 hrs max of grass turnout, and out in 1 acre dry lot or in at their choice the rest of the time. I feed a great quality Tifton-85 from a local grower in several slow-feed bags, and my horses all lost weight, even though they eat about 30 lbs of hay per day ( I have very large Warmbloods). This wasn't in response to any sort of laminitic episode, but just a desire to limit sugar intake.

                              I also give them a grass-balancer, organic chia, organic flax ground daily as well.

                              I will add that I, personally, really should be muzzled and dry-lotted, to limit my own sugar intake, but.......