Is there anything more fraught with opinions then what we feed our horses? Oh yeah- trimming. But let's save that for a post when I'm feeling braver.
Irish has never been an easy keeper. When you board it's difficult to control feeding practices. The horse has to fit in with what the current practice is. And this makes sense. I can't imagine being a Barn Owner and tryng to juggle all the different feeding fads that owners come up with. Over time he's become quite a finicky eater. I have done all sorts of additives:
- rice bran. He seemed to like it at first and then would go off it. And it never kept very long
- flax- only ate for about 2 months and then refused
- beet pulp- I've had my best luck with this but he only will eat when nothing else is left.
The answer to the second was easy- I was trying to find the diet that he would eat, thrive on and gain weight. I weighed him often over the first year (using a weight tape) and while it may go up or down it seemed to stay at 1085,which is less then his optimal weight.Feeding sugar to a horse that is prone to ulcers is not ideal. the sugar can aggravate intestinal upset but he seemed to only want to eat the sweet feed. It was a no-win situation.
Then one day I was reading an online horse forum and clicked on a thread about diet. In this thread there was much discussion about oat flour. It seemed that it was becoming the new thing for horses prone to ulcers. Now I don't leap on a bandwagon right away just because I read it on the internet. So I did bit of research and stumbled on the idea of feeding just oats. Oats are the original horse feed and have been fed for years. As I read some more I discovered that they are easily digested, horse on oats are less likely to colic and a reduction in ulcers. I discussed my idea with my vet and he approved of me trying it out.
So I began the 'Great Oat Experiment'. I started with a small amount and gradually increased the amount of oats. I know that oats are not balanced - particularly for calcium so I sourced a vitamin supplement designed to augment an oat diet. So now Irish is a diet of crushed oats, canola oil and a vitimin. Steele is on oats and the vitamin. And there's been a huge difference: instead of taking 45 mins to eat and leaving a lot behind Irish takes 15 mins and there's none left in his dish. Before he would eat, circle, bite some hay, eat some more and repeat. Now his head goes in his dish and stays there until it's done. While it's not scientific- his ears are pricked forward and his whole demeanor is of a horse happy to be eating. He is waiting at supper time to be fed and is not impressed if it's late. Before he never seemed to care. And best of all- his weight is 1135. He's gained about 50 pounds and during the last vet visit the vet said that he had a 'fat pad' over his ribs. He's never had that. Never.
I call the experiment a success.
for more info: http://www.equineoats.org/default.aspx