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Draft Owners - Any helpful tips?

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  • Draft Owners - Any helpful tips?

    My hubby got an early Christmas present this year - a team of Belgians who have done nothing but work around the farm (no pulling ring issues! Yay!). They are lovely big sweet guys but I have a few questions as these are a far cry from the TBs I'm used to taking care of
    What do you use to wrap feet with? One has an abscess and I made a special trip to the grocery store for bigger diapers... came home with the biggest ones I could find short of Depends, and they cover HALF of his size 8 hoof. I used mechanic's towels instead, but is it possible to find a diaper that big? Should I just go back, buy the Depends, and run the risk of getting similar looks to when I buy a stack of enemas at foaling time?

    Also, they are, according to the draft folks we know, 200lbs underweight. To me, if I have to PUSH through the fat covering their ribs to feel anything, they don't need more weight, they need muscle. They almost seem to have some fat pads along their barrels. They were getting sweet feed, oats, and corn. I feed barley and a RB. I know the big guys can be IR... what would I be best off feeding them? They will be turned out in a larger area than they had at their old home, and will have a round bale, but what about grain?

    Any other helpful hints? I need to get some pictures - they are MASSIVE (too big for the pulling ring = HUGE!) but we love them already.

  • #2
    Here is a page off of the Rural Heritage website loaded with good information (including diet) for taking care of draft horses.
    It should help to make things easier. I would look into the EPSM diet to help you turn things around here.


    ETA: Mine is a percheron/qh crossbred. When I got him he was too fat, plodding along with his head down, and not a happy camper. I removed as much sugary food from his diet as I possibly could. This included (get ready...) the carrots, the apples, the cookies, the donuts, the muffins, the pieces of cake with frosting, and all other goodies he was getting. In the winter he gets a lot of hay, some hay stretcher, Carb Guard, some Triple Crown Sr. mixed in so he'll eat the Carb Guard, and Cocosoya/canola oil. Additionally, he gets a general mineral/vitamin supplement. He is looking much healthier now, stays in good shape, and is feeling much better, too. That plodding old draft horse is now playing up a storm with all of the ponies and any of the horses who will play with him, rearing, jumping, trotting with the youngsters, and cantering with the herd. He gets so excited to be off and moving under saddle that you have to remind him you are indeed up on board!

    A friend owned a large Percheron breeding facility with many National/World Show Percheron winners. His formula for successful feeding was lots and lots of hay, oats for the pregnant ones or those that needed the weight, Grand Meadows vitamin supplement for all, and as much turnout as possible. Even in the dead of winter his horses all looked magnificent! I board, cannot feed as much hay as I would like, hence the hay stretcher. Nutrena makes a low sugar hay stretcher product, but even the Blue Seal isn't bad to feed.
    Last edited by Chief2; Dec. 22, 2010, 08:32 AM.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



    • #3
      Rural Heritage is good if you can wade through some of the less than ideal thoughts and mumblings...some of the folks over there still see drafts as dumb and beasts of burden.

      A friend has a draft that pops an abscess a couple times a year. I know she uses a 4x4 to cover the abscess, then a duct tape boot that will last till morning. If there is a hole you can put a large cotton ball in the hole, she has used a mixture of 60% iodine and 40% formaldehyde to dry the abscess then the 4x4 and the duct tape. Just be careful to not wrap the coronet band with the duct tape and make sure it isn't tight on the balls of the hoof in back.

      You can also use, I did this on the QH I have who got a bad stone bruise that turned into an abscess, epsoms salt comes in a gel like substance. It smells great and is in a greenish gel we got at the local co-op. Could probably get it at tractor supply too, as you slather this on, then 4x4, then duct tape. Or if your trying to draw the abscess out, ickthamol on the 4x4, put a good amount on then stick it on the abscess, then the duct tape.

      Good luck.
      "Promise me you'll always remember: your braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." By Christopher Robins to Pooh


      • #4
        I have a big Belgian draft gelding, and when he got an abscess, I didn't even try to cover his whole foot with a diaper. I just used my drawing agent and a wad of gauze, plopped it in the sensitive area, and then wrapped the whole thing in vetwrap and duct tape. The gorilla tape holds up better than regular duct tape, imo.
        "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
        -Edward Hoagland


        • #5
          Thanks Wayside! I done forgot the vet wrap THEN the duct tape!
          "Promise me you'll always remember: your braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." By Christopher Robins to Pooh


          • #6
            Have you tried the pads the hospitals use for beds? I've seen them in the grocery store, and they should cover at least 1 hoof. I don't know $$$, though.


            • #7
              A lot of people want to keep their drafts fat. It's not good for them, with their muscle-to-bone ratio already they are much better off trim.

              My mare kept FINE on quality grass/alfalfa mix. When she was pregnant and nursing her giant filly, she was up to about 60lbs of hay a day and 6lbs of ration balancer and whatever grass she was eating in her paddock. The rest of the time I owned her she kept quite well on about 40lbs of hay per day (nearly a full square bale) on a drylot. She did ok on a round bale when it was about 90% grass and she was in a herd. I wouldn't have fed her rounds when she lived at home in a smaller paddock.

              My mare was a Clyde, so I never went the route of wrapping her whole foot either...too much fluff. Agree with vetwrap and tape.
              Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


              • #8
                LOL I don't own a Draft, but one of my boarders is a Percheron and I've had to learn a few new things too.

                The Animalintex poultice pads work great for abscesses. Buy the regular pads, NOT the hoof pads, because the hoof pads won't be large enough. You will be able to wrap the foot with the regular sized pad with no problem. I usually cut them into 3 pieces for a normal sized hoof. Wrap that up with vetwrap and duct tape.


                • #9
                  Thats like the best Christmas present ever! I love drafts!

                  I don't have one and you got great advice so far. We have a draft (Perch/Belgian x) where I board my horse. Doesnt' get fed a lot but has a round bail in front of him. He gets taken out a couple of times a week (maybe 3) for a short breback walk around the farm or on the trail.. He's retired now so just an oversized pet. Have fun!


                  • #10
                    How kind of you to take in two drafties! They are wonderful horses. I've had a Shire for about 8 years. He's a big guy whose feet are the size of the computer screen but he is a gentle giant. This morning he wouldn't go out of the barn with my husband leading him until he could see that I was really out of the barn, too. Mr. chai calls him a mama's boy; I think it's adorable. :-)

                    I would suggest that you slowly back off the sweet feed. Drafties can be IR. I give my draft horse 1/2 quart Strategy AM and PM, timothy hay in the AM, Mid day, after dinner and at night check. I also add Accel vitamins and corn oil to his feed pm and he looks great. Cowboy Magic is great for keeping feathers looking good, and it keeps ticks from being able to hitch a ride.

                    If you'll post pictures here, it will be easier to tell if they are really overweight, plus as a fan of the big guys, I'd love to see them!


                    • Original Poster

                      Thank you all for your suggestions! I did get some pictures of them today - it's horribly gray and on and off again snowing today, so they went out in our little sacrifice paddock. Please excuse the massive amounts of construction going on in the background...!!!
                      Jim and Clyde

                      I don't think they are super over weight, but they could get there quickly - they have small fat rolls behind their shoulders and some along their barrels... when they were goofing off and running around today they jiggled. I'm perfectly happy to keep them on a free choice hay diet with a bit of mineral or RB to make sure they are getting what they need - the folks who are of the opinion that they are underweight are pulling guys - totally different ball game from the farm work we want to do. I've already been told to stick the sweet feed and corn right to them... ummm... I think perhaps I won't


                      • #12
                        Nice looking boys!

                        Have fun with them. Impossible to guess accurately on weight from photos, but from here I agree with your assessment...they are on the chunkier side but not at critical mass.

                        When I first acquired my Clydesdale mare, one of the old-timer draft guys told me that giving drafts grain/sweet feed was a recipe for disaster, and that it would make them crazy. While this is not exactly borne out, so many of them do have issues processing sugars and sweet feed/oats absolutely made my mare hot!
                        Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rugbygirl View Post
                          Nice looking boys!

                          Have fun with them. Impossible to guess accurately on weight from photos, but from here I agree with your assessment...they are on the chunkier side but not at critical mass.

                          When I first acquired my Clydesdale mare, one of the old-timer draft guys told me that giving drafts grain/sweet feed was a recipe for disaster, and that it would make them crazy. While this is not exactly borne out, so many of them do have issues processing sugars and sweet feed/oats absolutely made my mare hot!
                          This isn't always true, depends on each individual horse. Talk to your vet and ask what they think first. My friend has had her two drafts on 10% sweet feed and both are healthy, active and look really good for 18 years old.
                          "Promise me you'll always remember: your braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." By Christopher Robins to Pooh


                          • #14
                            The draft people think they are underweight?! Seriously!? I'm seeing a decent amount of fluff there that could stand to be turned into muscle.

                            Regardless, they are both handsome as can be! Love the pics of your hubby with them.

                            What do you plan to do with them?
                            Full-time bargain hunter.


                            • Original Poster

                              They do think they need more weight. I just don't see (or feel) it! Muscle yes, fat, NO! They were in a small turnout where they came from, and will go out in a field as soon as the ground freezes here, so I'm hoping just that little bit of extra movement will help, plus hubby is champing at the bit to hook them up They are such good boys - and hubby is on cloud 9.
                              They have been used in parades, around town, for sleigh rides, and general farm hanging out/riding/wagon rides, etc and were the previous owner's first team. So they are perfect for us! Joel (hubby) is 6'5", so now he's got horses who are even taller than he is!

                              I'm still trying to figure out *where* Jim's abscess is/was - he blew one before he got up here, and has a couple different possible exit sites (hence the diaper attempt... I needed to cover the entire foot with drawing gunk..) - he's sore when weight bearing but not when I poke and prod his foot. I think it's on it's way out, I just want to make sure it doesn't start brewing again when the shoe goes back on...


                              • #16
                                i just got done a abcess. quater/draft. way more draft than 1/4. I laughed when the diaper didn't fit. did the best i could. i also use pastice bags. epsome salt, diaper, plastic bag, then duct tape. lasted a day or more. need to do the duck tape in a grid on the wall first. works great. looked at the depends, but non of them have adjustyable sides, they are like undies.
                                Memebr of Charlie Horse Riding Club.


                                • #17
                                  Wow Jess, that pic of your husband hugging that big boy is precious

                                  What did our girl think of them?!!!
                                  "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Gayle - she was fascinated by their cavorting this afternoon (and her daughter and her friends took it as an opportunity to cavort as well). Though I'm quite sure their size wouldn't deter her from telling them who the boss really is! I'm dying to get pictures of them with my "normal" sized horses. Even my large ISH gelding now looks tiny!

                                    D-B that's good to know about the Depends! I've long been a pro at the duct tape grid...just was taken aback when I couldn't use my good old diaper! Jim is such a gentleman - I can rest his hoof (which happens to be size of my head) on my knee and leaves it patiently balanced until I'm done wrapping. Far better than most of the TBs I've had to poultice!


                                    • #19
                                      Drafts need io be on a low-carb, high-fat diet. You should do some reading about appropriate diet, as there are some great resources on-line. It is VERY important that they be fed appropriately and not as if they are light horses. Also, their feet need to be trimmed a bit differently than light horses. I hope you have been able to find a farrier who is familiar with the correct angles. I made some big mistakes with my first Clydesdale, and I did nbot realize how different the needs of drafts are. As far as abscesses, I have not had to deal with very many but one of my big Clyde geldings did manage to get a major one, but we were able to get through it by soaking in warm water, epsom salts and a splash of betadyne. I found that it is MUCH easier to soak their feet than light horses--none of that throwing of the water bucket across the barn for them!

                                      You are going to have so much fun with your new guys! I always found it funny that people are so surprised to learn I actually ride my guys (they are driving horses first and foremost) and I rode one in a clinic with a fancy-schmancy dressage trainer who thought my big guy was "very talented." I hope you will keep us updated as you start your new adventures!


                                      • #20
                                        I can see where the pulling folks would be saying to add more weight, but not for what you are going to be using these horses for. Pulling horses are usually far more built up throughout the chest and through the haunches, and it's not just through weight itself, but from the conversion of the flesh in the additional heavy muscling they need to pull those cement slabs. Those things are heavy! So yes, they would be telling you to add weight on for more conversion into heavier muscle along the way. But for what you are planning to do with them, you will probably be fine.

                                        As you convert some of that flesh to muscle you may want to add in some calories as more definition takes place as their physique tightens up, but you will better be able to determine that as time goes on. I would really consider the low-carb diet though. The turnaround in my own guy was amazing.

                                        They are lovely boys and your husband looks like he is just over the moon!
                                        Congratulations on joining the draft horse club!
                                        "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein