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hot horse--need extreme feed makeover

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  • hot horse--need extreme feed makeover

    I have a youngish OTTB who is coming along really well in dressage. He's a bit of a hard keeper. I live on the west coast where alfalfa is the standard hay available, and the barn where I board feeds hay cubes only. I can pay for alfalfa, oat or timothy hay, although it is expensive and timothy outrageously so.

    Currently my horse gets 1 bucket of cubes in the AM, and a combination or oat hay and alfalfa hay in the afternoon. They don't weigh it, but it's a substantial chunk of alfalfa, like 2 or three flakes, plus a big flake of oat hay. In addition, I give him 1 lb of rice bran and 1 lb of timothy pellets daily. He is in really good weight and does not appear to be gaining or losing on this diet.

    The problem is that he has become hot and spooky on this feed. There may be other factors, but if I can change his feed to make him less hot, that would be an easy fix.

    Suggestions?
    2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

    A helmet saved my life.

  • #2
    It may be the alfalfa. Some horses can get very spicy on alfalfa-based feeds. That being said, how long have you had your horse, and have you fed him differently in the past? It may just be his nature to be hot and spooky, and the feed may have little to do with it. Has he eaten a diet high in alfalfa before?

    If it is really the feed, I would ask to cut out the alfalfa hay and just feed the oat, upping the timothy pellets. You might need to supplement with a grain as well, or beet pulp, to keep the weight on without the alfalfa.

    Comment


    • #3
      I have boarded at barns who fed alfalfa only. I feed my horses alfalfa ( and grass hay too) Never have I experienced that alfalfa makes them "hot". Overfeeding grain, sweet feeds etc can be another story, but I don't see where he is getting that.

      What you didn't say is if he is out or in a stall and what his exercise/ work routine is like. He is getting a good amount of high quality hay, is in good weight and that equals " i feel good" add being young to this and he will have lots of energy.

      If you think it is the hay, just decrease the alfalfa gradually and replace with another type of hay and after a few weeks see if he is different.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd add with the alfalfa. I have a OTTB and too much alfalfa makes him a little nutty. I feed my guy 1/2 and 1/2 alfalfa and grass, but your guy might need the extra energy where mine doesn't.
        “Thoroughbreds are the best. They’re lighter, quicker, and more intelligent.” -George Morris

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          I have had this horse for a little over a year. He started out on cubes twice a day plus a flake of grass hay at night. Then I switched him to cubes in the AM and alfalfa/oat hay at night. Later I added the timothy pellets and rice bran because he wasn't keeping weight on as well as I wanted. So this was pretty much his diet for a long time.

          Six months ago he moved to a place where they fed timothy and alfalfa hay, heavier on the timothy. He didn't really like it that much and always had a big pile of it in his stall. I asked to have the alfalfa increased because even being pretty much free fed timothy, he was too lean.

          Now back at the original barn, I tried to duplicate the rations, but I suspect the groom who feeds him is angling for tips because he gives him a lot of hay. This place is pretty stingy with the feed, so it surprised me to see his dinner was about four flakes of hay. I don't really want to complain about that but as I said, I suddenly have a spook monster.

          He lives in a 12 X 24 pipe corral and has plenty to see all day. He gets turned out and hand walked on his days off twice a week and worked the other days. I ride less than an hour, and add to that that he gets lunged probably twice a week. I think maybe he also needs to work more, and that is totally my responsibility because I don't want him lunged to death.

          Urban horsekeeping means they can't be turned loose in a pasture all day or night, so we make do.
          2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

          A helmet saved my life.

          Comment


          • #6
            Try adding Diamond V XP Yeast extract. The amino acids in it really can help to calm a hot horse (they are all naturally-occurring amino acids and DO NOT test). I've had great luck with it.

            I add it with feed, 1 oz am and pm, and I know some people who feed it an hour or so before they ride and it really makes a difference. Here's the link

            http://www.diamondv.com/profile%20pd...originalxp.pdf

            On his present diet, despite your best efforts, there's no way your horse is getting properly balanced nutrients (vitamins, minerals and amino acids). Horses don't have gall bladders, so there's a lot of research that suggests the high fat in things like rice bran may not be a great thing for energy sources. I don't envy you: Keeping horses in your particular California situation is a challenge for sure. Good luck.

            Check out the National Research Council's study on equine nutrition requirements. It is a study that was not funded by any entity that makes money from the production of equine feed products. Here's the link to that---you can read the whole thing online for free: http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11653

            Comment


            • #7
              I also keep a couple of horses in California, however, alfalfa has always made my horses hot. Timothy is expensive but orchard is not and many barns feed orchard with maybe one feeding of alfalfa. I like timothy pellets and have always had great results weight wise with pellets.

              Right now my older guy is on orchard with rice bran and my young OTTB is on two feedings of orchard grass, evening feed of alfalfa and rice bran. When my older guy was showing and working hard he had one feeding of alfalfa, and when they fed him two feedings of alfalfa by mistake, it was very apparent he was spooky and bucking after fences. Problem was solved after speaking with the grooms who fed. Good luck.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by stolen virtue View Post
                I also keep a couple of horses in California, however, alfalfa has always made my horses hot. Timothy is expensive but orchard is not and many barns feed orchard with maybe one feeding of alfalfa. I like timothy pellets and have always had great results weight wise with pellets.

                Right now my older guy is on orchard with rice bran and my young OTTB is on two feedings of orchard grass, evening feed of alfalfa and rice bran. When my older guy was showing and working hard he had one feeding of alfalfa, and when they fed him two feedings of alfalfa by mistake, it was very apparent he was spooky and bucking after fences. Problem was solved after speaking with the grooms who fed. Good luck.
                That's encouraging! I may be heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, this facility will not feed any type of grass hay besides timothy. I could rent a feed room for $60 and buy my own hay, but then I'd have to feed it or pay someone to feed it, and for that money, I could just get the timothy that they feed, but it's just too expensive--like $250 extra a month!

                Originally posted by marley View Post
                Try adding Diamond V XP Yeast extract. The amino acids in it really can help to calm a hot horse (they are all naturally-occurring amino acids and DO NOT test). I've had great luck with it.
                I can find no information on retailers.
                2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                A helmet saved my life.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm also in CA and I am a fan of alfalfa. I have had more horses get hot on oat hay. Its one of those 50 different opinion things. Can you go back to cubes twice daily as that was working? I prefer hay diets to pelletted/cubed but you have to do what you can and what works. If you keep the rice bran and timothy pellets either without any hay added or just a handful, will he keep his weight up?
                  Another possibility (you say he's young, but I didn't see an actual age), could it just be that he's coming into himself? Done growing, not using the nutrients for that, not working very hard, no regular turn-out/play time. If he's 6 ish, that could be the case. Again, not trying to bash his living situation, we do what we can, but maybe he needs more outlets. If he's feeling good about himself, balanced, fairly fit and awesome...(think teenage boy)
                  Do not toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by thatsnotme View Post
                    I'm also in CA and I am a fan of alfalfa. I have had more horses get hot on oat hay. Its one of those 50 different opinion things. Can you go back to cubes twice daily as that was working? I prefer hay diets to pelletted/cubed but you have to do what you can and what works. If you keep the rice bran and timothy pellets either without any hay added or just a handful, will he keep his weight up?
                    Another possibility (you say he's young, but I didn't see an actual age), could it just be that he's coming into himself? Done growing, not using the nutrients for that, not working very hard, no regular turn-out/play time. If he's 6 ish, that could be the case. Again, not trying to bash his living situation, we do what we can, but maybe he needs more outlets. If he's feeling good about himself, balanced, fairly fit and awesome...(think teenage boy)
                    He just turned 8, so he's not that young, but he's only a year off the track. He was a terrible race horse and speed is not in his make up, it's just that he's been jumpy and spooky--shying at dumb things. He was at a training barn (the timothy place) for three months where he got really fit, but has been back in my care since May 1. I have also been trying to get him less fit so have not been working him that hard. Maybe that is just not working out...

                    So I changed his evening meal to oat hay only. How soon would I see a change?

                    I am really hoping he is not one of those only sane on timothy horses.
                    2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                    A helmet saved my life.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've had bad experiences with oat hay making my mare whacko too. She was on it for about two months and she was so jumpy and flighty. I've heard that it can be really high in sugars if not cut at the proper time, and doesn't have a lot of nutritional value.

                      I am lucky enough to feed timothy year round, and just throw some alfalfa in when it's cold or she is in hard work. I've never had the alfalfa make her hot, but I know that's not the norm.
                      Foaling Around www.facebook.com/foalingaround
                      Custom Equestrian Items and Bath Products

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm in northern NV and alfalfa is about the only hay available here (some beardless wheat and some oat being cut now as a cover crop for newly planted alfalfa fields but no orchard and no timothy). The grain type hays are the ones that people here are sure make horses hot and virtually everyone feeds alfalfa as the primary feed. Horse keeping here tends to be a bit roomier than in Cal. though and horses here (at least in my immediate area) are either out on drylots, larger fields (without much to graze on as it is desert scrub) or are working almost daily for hours (or some combo of these). Without knowing the wt of the horse or the wt of the feed being given to him it is hard to say if he's being overfed so is "hot" with just too much energy and not enough work. His work load sounds really light compared to what is normal for the ranch horses I'm more accustomed to so perhaps that's an issue.
                        Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                        www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
                        Northern NV

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think you should see a change in a 2-3 weeks. The oat hay might not be the answer though. You'll have to try a few things and see what works, just remember to try 1 thing at a time, give it 3 weeks, then move on if you're still not happy. If he's only been off the track a year, depending on his track management, the first 6 months could have been 'shell shock' and now you're starting to see the real him.
                          Do not toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Could also be ulcers.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I started my horse on a grain-free, high alfalfa diet after he was diagnosed with ulcers. About 2-3 months after starting the diet, he became a moron under saddle and was super spooky...even in hand. I can't count the number of times he almost ran me over, it was like he was crawling in is own skin.

                              We put him back on ulcer meds for a trial just to make sure, even though the symptoms weren't exactly the same as when he had ulcers. When that didn't help, we started pulling the alfalfa. Well 3 days after we totally cut out all alfalfa (he was on pellets and also free choice timothy/alfalfa mix), he found his brain again and is much more relaxed. I know some people argue alfalfa can't make them hot, but it definitely affected my horse.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by TheHorseProblem View Post
                                I have a youngish OTTB who is coming along really well in dressage. He's a bit of a hard keeper. I live on the west coast where alfalfa is the standard hay available, and the barn where I board feeds hay cubes only. I can pay for alfalfa, oat or timothy hay, although it is expensive and timothy outrageously so.

                                Currently my horse gets 1 bucket of cubes in the AM, and a combination or oat hay and alfalfa hay in the afternoon. They don't weigh it, but it's a substantial chunk of alfalfa, like 2 or three flakes, plus a big flake of oat hay. In addition, I give him 1 lb of rice bran and 1 lb of timothy pellets daily. He is in really good weight and does not appear to be gaining or losing on this diet.

                                The problem is that he has become hot and spooky on this feed. There may be other factors, but if I can change his feed to make him less hot, that would be an easy fix.

                                Suggestions?
                                My TB got fairly crazy on rice bran. I've tried to eliminate from his diet.

                                Also had a gaited mare that would get real spooky/silly when given even the slightest amount of alfalfa.
                                http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

                                "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  update

                                  Originally posted by stryder View Post
                                  Could also be ulcers.

                                  Today he started out very mellow. I had turned him out, and chased him around so he could run if he needed to, and tacked him up in the heat of the day. Fifteen minutes into the ride he started spooking at everything. It was like watching a different horse. My trainer is a saint and she kept making him go forward until he got around the arena without shying, but it was scary--I would never get on such a horse! Add to that he has been very girthy the last few weeks, so she thinks ulcers or maybe it's his eyes. This is just totally uncharacteristic of him. He's seeing the vet later today.

                                  Also, this is after one day of cutting out the alfalfa at night and adding one flake of oat, so one day of that could not cause such extreme nervousness.

                                  I'm worried about him.
                                  2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                                  A helmet saved my life.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Riley0522 View Post
                                    I started my horse on a grain-free, high alfalfa diet after he was diagnosed with ulcers.
                                    What were the original symptoms?

                                    And about the rice bran, he has been getting the same amount for a long time, so I don't think it's that specifically, although it crossed my mine to just take him down to alfalfa only and start adding and subtracting things to see what might be causing it.
                                    2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                                    A helmet saved my life.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by TheHorseProblem View Post
                                      Today he started out very mellow. I had turned him out, and chased him around so he could run if he needed to, and tacked him up in the heat of the day. Fifteen minutes into the ride he started spooking at everything. It was like watching a different horse. My trainer is a saint and she kept making him go forward until he got around the arena without shying, but it was scary--I would never get on such a horse! Add to that he has been very girthy the last few weeks, so she thinks ulcers or maybe it's his eyes. This is just totally uncharacteristic of him. He's seeing the vet later today.

                                      Also, this is after one day of cutting out the alfalfa at night and adding one flake of oat, so one day of that could not cause such extreme nervousness.

                                      I'm worried about him.
                                      My mare loves to work, was in training for years, was a joy to handle. No vices, no problems other than hard to keep in good weight. She's an Appendix - tending toward the TB build.

                                      Late last fall she started getting girthy and a little cranky in the crossties. I figured out her saddle didn't fit and set about getting a wider one, which took some time.

                                      She became spooky, lost appetite, got crankier in the crossties and did.not.like her flank to be touched during grooming. Not until after work. After work, she was her easy-going self.

                                      I kept her on a heavy grain ration to keep up her weight. At the end of February she hurt her leg and I gave her a small dose of bute for about 3 days. I almost killed her. Ulcers. Peritonitis. Cecum impaction. On and on, then 6 days in the hospital on IV fluids and antibiotics. Whole thing took about 6 weeks and cost $xx,xxx. She lost about 350 lbs.

                                      She has cataracts, so I blamed a lot of her spookiness on eyesight.

                                      But now, 2 months after she scoped clean, I can say it was definitely ulcers. She's calm, cleans up every scrap of hay, is tending toward fluffy for the first time in her life, seems to see well enough.

                                      And I am so upset with myself that I didn't see the symptoms for what they were - signs that my usual stoic mare was in extreme pain.

                                      It's a combination of the right food (low starch and alfalfa), given frequently (or an all-the-time haynet), and management (keeping her near other horses - she hates being alone) plus meds (omeprazoledirect.com) that's working for us.

                                      Good luck with your horse.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Good luck and let us know what the vet comes up with. I'm curious now too.
                                        Do not toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!

                                        Comment

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