dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Perils of an Easy Keeper

Last week my vet came out to do the annual checkup and vaccinations. As per usual, both horses were very cooperative. They also had their teeth done. For those of you without horses, their teeth can develop points with the grinding of hay. The vet (or equine dentist) takes a large implement and files them down. This way they don't cut their cheeks and develop ulcers. Steele was very good about this. He only had a couple points. I did have a giggle when Irish clamped his molars on the file and wouldn't let go. He just stood there looking at both of us with a twinkle in his eye and a 'whatcha gonna do now? huh?'.

Part of the check up is their body condition and weight. Irish is what is known as a 'hard keeper'. This means that he requires a lot of roughage and grain to maintain a decent weight. I was thrilled to hear that his weight is just fine. it's the first time ever at this time of year that the vet doesn't mention that he's thin.

But the bad news is that Steele is overweight. Turns out it's not just his winter coat. He is not fed the same amount as Irish. In fact he gets 1/2 the amount in grain. His growing is slowing down and so he's not using the feed for growth. Well not vertical growth anyway. Turns out that he's an 'easy keeper'. Which means that he can maintain his weight on less feed. Another term in 'air fern' (the idea being that he can live on air). I can relate, as this point in my life, I have become an 'air fern'. I asked the vet to help me with his diet as he still needs to grow. Turns out that our hay is so rich that he didn't need the amount of grain I was giving. And here I was feeling bad as I wasn't giving him near the recommended amount on the package. So now his ration has been halved with a vitamin supplement to ensure he gets the nutrients he needs. I've got my tape ready to monitor his intake.

That night at supper I gave him his new ration. He finished it quickly and then put his head out the stall door
"um mom, I need the reset of my feed"
"sorry Steele that's all you're getting"
"WHAT??? but I'm HUNGRY"
Irish, who has been munching away seems to be munching louder
"hey Irish, buddy, can I have some"
"Sorry Steele old buddy, but I can't. She's watching. But man is tastes sooooo good"
"MOM! it's not fair. Irish is eating I should be eating too"
Irish is slurping his food. I swear. The most delicate eater in the world is sounding like a hog at the trough.

Steele is now looking very sad and thin. Well he's trying to be thin.

With a sniff he consoled himself with his hay. I suspect that he'll end up on no grain. Can you imagine the rebellion when Irish is getting his 2 quarts of feed + beetpulp and Steele is getting a thimbleful of supplements??

I am sorry Rachael and Karen. really. I didn't realize that when you told me that they were easy keepers what that meant! I promise to do better. Don't show up with a trailer or anything to take him back.

On a positive note the vet said that he's developing nicely and gave me the go ahead to carry ahead with my free lunging and light (very light) work on the longe.


  1. Jackson is an easy keeper as well - a true air fern. He is fat on a diet of grass hay and a palm of sweet feed mixed with his small scoop of vitamins. Sheesh.

  2. Congrats on Irish's condition rating from your vet. I can completely relate to how wonderful that is to hear!

    As for Steele, at least he is less expensive to feed and you do not have to worry about putting more calories back if you work him. He will be sleek in no time.

  3. Chrome is the same way. I forget when I did it, but I took him off of his complete pelleted feed and put him on a ration balancer which is also pellets, but it's only protein, vitamins and minerals with no extra carbs or calories. He still gets fat on grass and hay, so now I have him on a supplement with no protein lol. :) I'm glad to hear Irish is doing great too. :D

  4. thanks guys. He's starting to lose weight on his new diet


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