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The yearly spring mud/pasture/my horse needs hay issue, with some variables...

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  • The yearly spring mud/pasture/my horse needs hay issue, with some variables...

    Thanks for plowing through the below. Part vent/part need advice.

    My horse, pasture boarded, fine boned 16.3 OTTB was getting ribby at the end of this winter, which was harsh near the end. Pointed it out to BO as my guy is supposed to be on unlimited hay. Also asked for a better quality feed which I'll be paying the difference for. Got better. He's now ribby again - all within the past 6 weeks or so.

    You know the typical please give my horse more hay dance. I've even bought a Nibble Net so none is wasted, and mini in his pasture won't indulge. Even offered to pay extra until the grass came in if she felt more hay was really an imposition. My BO is hard working, but a novice owner, and does get defensive. Will ask how you'd like something, but do it her way anyway. I of course understand she is the BO. But been in horses most of my life, and it's frustrating when she doesn't quite get things. Or has the experience to be cognizant of all the lovely things that can happen owning horses.

    Vet (large animal, not equine specialist) out to give shots -and gave my guy a 4/5 body score. Everyone in the barn had shots, and all have been paste wormed. A few weeks ago she bought two green horses that need weight on, were not vetted, not quarantined, from a farm with a large herd that was being sold, and have not been tested except to get a Coggins. (The manner of purchase was red flag, red flag to me...) One of them had what appeared to be healing rain rot. The horses do seem to be doing alright.

    My guy is also doing the usual spring wacko thing. Plus acting a little bit studly - squealing, whinnying, etc., etc. So I wonder if that is a factor to his being ribby. I swear, he can look that way in a day. Had him to a clinic last year, and was shocked at how thin he looked in pictures. He was a nervous wreck the night before staying somewhere different.

    She has been making several changes, and now rather than simply give mine more hay, is moving him from what was a perfect turnout situation, to a probably less than ideal one for his feet and legs - let alone it's another shift in pasture mates - to address all those who need to put weight on together...

    I'm not sure if anyone other than myself has the answer. Just moved here a year ago from a much worse barn and he improved considerably. Just don't want back pedaling. He's now quiet, happy, adjusted, and avoiding injury. She and I got into a heated conversation this afternoon. Tried to discuss logistics but her descriptions were confusing and she became argumentative. Finally put my foot down that I've been around horses enough in my life to know what works for my horse and what doesn't, and that I'm not happy with the new arrangement. (The e-mail introducing it to me said if I wasn't happy, she'd leave things the same. She isn't.)

    So I'll be considering my options. I really would prefer he just stay where he was - I've been her only paying boarder for a year and he was happy in his situation.

    But in the meantime, while I try to sort this out, I need some advice about causes of weight loss in the spring, or even if just paste worming is enough. Should I have any other reason I should worry about my guy's losing weight. Last year this time was better, but spring was much earlier, grass in sooner. If you were me, would you get the vet in, or do any tests, e.g. fecal exam? Any others? Thanks!
    But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson

  • #2
    Do you think he could have ulcers?
    "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"


    • Original Poster

      I know he was treated for them at the track, which of course isn't that unusual there. After being retired, and in full board last year - just about this time - shelled out the cost for treatment with Gastrogard, and it didn't change a thing. Things went so well after moving him to pasture board I hadn't looked into anything more. He does tend to be pretty sensitive to any changes - going to clinics, new horses coming in, being left in the barn, picking up on other horses' issues, etc., etc. Also why I bought the Nibble Net - so it could slow him down and allow him to more continuously feed. But that's been basically scoffed at.
      But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


      • #4
        Deep breath.

        That is a long post and I'm hearing two things, firstly that your guy is not keeping his weight and you don't know why, and secondly that the BO is making decisions that cause changes to your guy's regime.

        I think that you are saying that you are thinking that the changes are leading to the weight loss. I can tell that the changes are causing you some stress as well, which I understand.

        Is a 4-5 too thin for you? Is this a 4-5 with wasted muscles or more like racing fit, because you know there is a difference.

        If the trainer scoffs at the nibble net, probably what she is saying is that it is more work than she wants to do to fill it and hang it. I myself gave up on hay nets because they take a bit more time than just tossing a couple flakes on the clean floor in the corner. Do I wish I took the time to hang them, yes, it wastes less hay, up until it's miserable outside and I get hay down my shirt and have to tie the net like a mummy to the bars of the pens - the horses will flip the net right over the top and over to the other side where they can't really get at it.

        If I were you in this situation I'd keep a bale at home and fill it, bring it and hang it myself. Of course there is probably not anything to hang it on in the stall, and the BO might get upset about you screwing in an eye bolt. Or she might decide that she doesn't need to throw your horse hay because you are bringing it yourself.

        It's hard. The BO has one set of priorities and you have another and she's probably thinking of you as being high maintenance right now. Somehow you need to sit down with her and have a discussion without getting her on the defensive. it may not be possible. Obviously your horse doesn't come first on her list, however that's her perogative as the BO. Good luck.
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible


        • Original Poster

          Thanks - it did get heated yesterday, and BO has dug in even more today, albeit in a civil tone.

          You're right - this really is two topics. I don't relate one to the other, but BO has created her own answer to the weight issue by now declaring he is out of where he's been for the past year. Because he needs more weight on, she has now decided he should go in with her llamas and her other two new green horses that also need extra weight - because it would be easier to feed them hay all the time. The one he just moved from is 10 feet away, but nicer.

          I frankly see this as some defensive aggression - he's thinner, she's taking it personally, and now we'll just see if we ever point out anything negative.

          Issue is, this other paddock is full of very deep mud, as in knee deep. My guy was in a smaller, dryer paddock up until now and really blossomed here. He is the only one in the barn who needs shoes all around. Farrier was there this morning to trim, and he'll need them very shortly after having been barefoot for the winter. I can just see the shoes getting sucked right off and/or, since my guy can be a bean head, and has already been running circles around the run-in shed chasing the llamas, can see an injury coming up. She only discussed when he gets shod. I had to suggest that he will also need to be moved out of the new one immediately if he continues to run around in there - because of injury? To which she remarked, "oh..."

          The alternative is that he'll be put in a stall next to the ring and allowed back into his old small paddock only at night. That is exactly what we just left last year - full board with not enough turn out.

          I know it's mud season, but my being a boarder is now the bottom of her priorities as she has decided to take on projects. She just gets these ideas, even when things are fine, and we've worked through them before, but think this one may be a deal breaker. I'm looking for alternatives, and wish her the best of luck. But I have to keep my guy's soundness in mind.

          As to why he may be losing weight, I'm hoping the new green horses didn't bring anything with them. Am rethinking ulcers, and wondering about hind gut vs. "normal", since Gastrogard did nothing last year. Reading Dr Ridgway's article. But he's also so much better when grazing, or alternatively has enough hay to eat throughout the day.
          But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


          • #6
            I know that I live quite far from you, but we do have most horses looking thinner in the transition from winter to spring. Our transition period starts end of Feb and we are just now getting into our spring summer horse bodies. My older TB always has a hard time with this and really he is fine. I do feed timothy pellets and rice bran, but I still get the weight loss every year.....I accept it more now.


            • #7
              I have never experienced winter weight loss, my horses go out in basically an emormous dry lot and are fed hay year round. In fact, the riding horses tend to get FATTER in the winter because they are not worked as much and if anything my barn cuts grain in the winter and ups it in the summer.


              • #8
                Ugh. That sounds like a really un-fun situation.

                It certainly sounds like you have been communicating in a reasonable way and that the barn owner is trying to come up with a solution, but her ideas just aren't all that hot. I don't think it's unreasonable to put the hard keepers in together, but not in knee deep mud and with llamas? Well, I guess llama friends *might* work... :-/

                I'd just lay out what you need--knee deep mud isn't acceptable, stalled all day isn't acceptable, but you're willing to pay more for hay and open to ideas--and then start looking for a new barn, in case this one isn't able to accommodate you.

                If this is really all you've got and there aren't options to move elsewhere, what needs to happen to leave the horse in his current arrangement? Is hay the only issue? While it wouldn't be my first choice, can you up his grain/feed some oil instead of pushing for more hay? Not a great option, but better than knee deep mud, and a complete or senior feed shouldn't make him nuts. And it sounds like it would be temporary, until the grass really comes in?


                • #9
                  The mud issue would make the decision to find a new place for me.
                  If the BO is being that vindictive (and yes, that's what it is, IMHO), then she doesn't give a rat's netherparts about your horse's well-being.
                  "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                  ...just settin' on the Group W bench.