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Chloesmama

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We adopted a 10 year old gelding (Skye) in June and have been slowly learning about how to care for him. Luckily we have a great vet and Skye is healthy and happy.

I am just wondering about hay and feed and grass. He was pretty overweight when we got him and we put him directly into a dry lot with just hay. He started looking much healthier after a few months but then let him into our small field in August to graze. The grass is super dry and he was still able to get chubby again.

I have not had any horses as an adult and just can't figure out how I am supposed to feed him. My neighbor has full sized horses and they have access to grass hay all day and I don't know if I am supposed to feed him more? I also give him a pinch of wet cob, a pinch of plain oats and his vitamins at night. Besides that he has a super small flake at breakfast and dinner.
Here he is after our first rain together, he is pretty chubby here.

Also, any tips for a first timer that I may not think about? Farrier comes every 6 weeks and vet did his teeth already. We have a raincoat and warm coat for when it gets cold.
Thanks!
 

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Silver City Heritage Farmstead

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He is a sturdier built mini, so take that into consideration. Without being able to put my hands on him, I'd say he's just about the right weight for a drafty type mini.

If you have one who's an easy keeper, you'll pretty much have to resign yourself to the dry lot life for him. Miniatures do have a tendency toward metabolic issues. Keeping them a conistent healthy weight is the most responsible and loving thing you can do for them.

He does have quite a generous winter coat growing in already. Can you feel his ribs when you scrunch your fingers under his hair? I'd bet you can and without having to press much at all.

I say keep doing what you're doing now. He looks good. Just be sure to check his weight with your hands at least once a week. Too heavy OR too light...going to the extreme seems to be what triggers metabolic issues that might otherwise just be a genetic predisposition to them.

It's like diabetes in people: you may be genetically programmed to have diabetes. By making healthy lifestyle choices, getting enough exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, you may never develop diabetes. Spend too much time at Duck Donuts and binging on Minecraft...and you have to give yourself that nasty little fingerprint 2-4 (or more) times a day.
 

Silver City Heritage Farmstead

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P.s.....be sure to weigh your feed and hay. Just a pinch can weigh quite a bit more than you think it does. A (healthy weight) 200 lb. mini rarely needs more than 1-1 1/2 lbs. TOTAL WEIGHT COMBINED of concentrates. It doesn't take much to hit that 3% of body weight mark for hay either.
 

Abby P

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Yep, I agree, dry lot is best especially if you've already noticed he chunks up fast on grass! I would ditch the grains too and use something lower in sugar/starch to carry supplements. I use a ration balancer and then if I want to give anything else I try to get it in pellet form so that the barn owner doesn't have to wet his feed (I board at a very "basic" place). And definitely weigh everything.

All that said he doesn't look particularly overweight in that photo but of course it's always hard to tell when they're so fluffy! It's always a surprise what's going to be under that winter coat when they shed out in the spring. 🤣 Guessing also you probably won't need the blankets unless he's without shelter in very wet/cold or windy/cold weather.

Small-hole hay nets can also be your friend, it keeps food in front of them longer, less hay is wasted, and it's easy to weigh out the hay if you use a net (I just got a fish scale with a hook on it, so I can hang the net on it to weigh it). Different hay can have vastly different per-flake weight so I would at least weigh often enough to have a rough idea what he's getting.
 

Chloesmama

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Thank you both!
What kind of treats do you give? I really give less than a tablespoon of cob and oats with his vitamins. He gets so excited. It's at bedtime.

His winter coat came on quickly a few weeks ago when we had a cold spell. He does look so cute and fluffy.

Here he is in mid summer, around July.
 

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Kelly

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OH MY GOODNESS! He is sooooo cute and I LOVE his name!! SKYE♥

I feed Purina Enrich, a ration balancer. I also measure and weigh food for my 4 little boys. Mine get their ration balancer plus 15% of their body weight in hay daily. So for my Shadow, a 250 pound mini, he gets 3.75 pounds of hay a day.

That is 250 pounds X .015 = 3.75 pounds of hay

It is best to measure everything out. All of mine are on a dry lot too otherwise that get to be chunky monkeys🤣

Im not sure where you live, but my vet told me that the grass sugars are the highest in Aug & Sept and also in March & April…. So I dry lot my ponies for sure during those months now. Yep, my biggie gets 24/7 turnout with unlimited hay, but there is no way my little boys could handle that, they would be blimps!

What do you plan to do with him?? Is he trained to drive a cart? That could be a really fun activity for y’all to do together.

There are soooooo many things you can do with these little guys…..
check out the adventures thread so you can post all your new adventures …

Or check out the trick training thread….

or the roller skating thread….

The fun never ends!! Congrats on that little cutie!!
 

Chloesmama

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Thank you again. We are having so much fun with him! The links had some cute ideas. We were thinking of trying to train him with a cart. Right now we just have been doing general ground and manners work.

Ok, sorry for more questions about feed. I felt through his coat and I could just barely feel his ribs. I am going to use my neighbors weight tape to see how much he weighs.

Right now I feed him a tiny flake morning and night and horse guard mixed with 1 tablespoon oats and wet cob at night. He is in a field but he has eaten all of the grass, so it is basically a dry lot now.

So, ideally, I would feed him hay at 1.5 percent of his bodyweight and ??? percent of body weight of ration balancer (do you wet that?). Do I also give horse guard? And you are saying drop the cob and oats?

I got some carb conscious treats, but is there something else I can give him as special treats that is better? Carrots or apples? Do you not give treats when training?

He seems pretty happy with us, so mostly just worried I am giving him too much or the wrong types of food.

Also, any favorite books? I got a few but seem very vague and not helpful with this food stuff.
Thank you for all your help!
 

Chloesmama

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Also, we live in Oregon, outside of Eugene. We have not had much rain this summer and the grass is so dry. It will likely green up soon though and I will have to watch him in the field.
 

Abby P

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Most ration balancers have a weight of feed per pounds of horse type of feeding instruction. So it will say something like, 1lb per day per 1000lbs body weight. Then you figure out your horse's weight and figure out how much of the balancer to feed. I weigh it out once and at that time find a reasonable scoop so that I don't have to weigh it every time - I just know that the weight Rowan needs equates to a heaping half cup scoop - or whatever. It will be a small amount, since the idea of a ration balancer is to give them the minerals and such that they need without adding a lot of extra calories. Alternatively you can get a balancer that just has the minerals/vitamins, those are usually powders and will be fed in a very small volume, then you'd use a few soaked hay pellets or some soaked beet pulp to mix it in with (that would reduce calories even further). Also you want to select the balancer or supplement based on the type of hay you feed, if you don't have the ability to analyze your hay. Many of the commercial balancers are designed for grass hays so if you feed alfalfa then you'll need to find something appropriate for that.

I'm not sure what you mean by "Horse Guard" - is it their mineral supplement? If so that would be replaced by the balancer. A couple of things to look into: 1) selenium - it will pay to find out whether you live in a high or low selenium area, and also where your hay is grown. That's a mineral that can be overdone although it takes a huge overdose to cause illness. 2) look at how much of the supplement you are feeding and figure out what he's actually getting. Just taking a quick look at that supplement, it has pretty low levels of copper, zinc, and magnesium relative to calcium and iron, and it has BUCKETS of manganese relative to the others. A lot of these minerals work in ratios because they compete for absorption, so you ideally want a certain ratio between iron:manganese:zinc:copper and between calcium to phosphorous:magnesium, and copper, zinc, and magnesium are depleted in most US hays. Most horses will be all right as long as it's not way off but it's just something to be aware of.

Weight tapes aren't very accurate for minis so just keep that in mind. There are some calculators online that use more than just the one measurement that may be a little bit more accurate. Better yet if you can find a livestock scale or truck scale and actually weigh him!

1.5% is also a rough guideline - some horses may need 2% (or 1% but that is getting REALLY low) to maintain condition and he may need more if you get cold weather where you are (probably not so much given your location, but it can get rainy and chilly there so just keep an eye on his condition and bump the hay up accordingly if needed). Here it gets cold in the winter and last year Rowan (who has hay available all the time in slow-feed nets because I can't get to the barn every day) nearly doubled his hay consumption when it got cold - he was eating 1.5-2% and that went up to probably about 2.5-3% when the temperatures were down below 20 degrees.

All that said, don't stress! It sounds like a lot but the important thing is that he's happy and in good weight and it sounds like he is, so if you make changes, you can make them as you're able to. Just be careful with the grass. :)

Edited to remove rogue emoji!
 

Silver City Heritage Farmstead

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Well poo! I lost my post.😤

As I previously posted, he looks to be in good shape. Have confidence in your current feed program. Don't go changing things all willy-nilly because of recommendations here (or anywhere else.)

Every barn, owner and region have access to different resources. They also have different supplement needs due to regional growing differences.

After all, we humans tend to forget an important fact: AN IDEAL FEED PROGRAM IS MEANT TO SUPPLEMENT WHAT A HORSE'S GRASS DIET LACKS. We added grains to the diet because once we put horses to work, grass didn't provide enough calories for them to maintain their weight.

When we provide feed, we give them their hay and grain based on the IDEAL weight each individual should be. Then we adjust up or down for workload, age, breeding status and other factors.

To reiterate: keep working with your vet, consult a nutritionist if needed, keep putting your hands on him to assess what's going on under soon-to-be yak hair, and stay with your current program. Winter's on the horizon. In all likelihood you'll be ADDING extra hay and grain(s) to what you currently feed. You're doing what's working for you AND your horse. Don't let the internet confuse you!😁
 

Chloesmama

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Thank you! This all makes sense.

The horse guard was recommended by my vet as his supplement. I will just continue as we have been just making sure he doesn't get much green grass as it comes up.

:)
 

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