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Abby P

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The only way to know for sure if your horse needs supplementation is to have your hay analyzed. Most US and Canadian grass hays are low in magnesium, copper, and zinc. Alfalfa is very very high in calcium so you need to watch the Ca:Mg:p balance if you feed a lot of alfalfa. Whether you need things like selenium depends on where the hay was grown. If your horse has no issues and it isn't feasible for you to analyze your hay and supplement accordingly, then either doing nothing, or adding a VMS or ration balancer designed for the type of hay you feed are both reasonable approaches.

The amount of ration balancer for my 300lb guy was about 3/4 cup per day (like with any feed, it has to be fed by weight, this was about 1/3lb). Last spring I dropped the ration balancer and changed to a VMS since it's a much smaller amount (about a rounded tablespoon - just a few grams), to cut more calories, and I did notice he lost weight after I did that.

I think mineral issues only show up in bloodwork if they are severe. The only mineral that horses will naturally eat as needed is salt.
 

thathorsecrazychick

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…. I just feed 1/4 pound of a all species performance supplement per meal now to my mini. She gets free choice but the goats and sheep have been fighting. So she doesn’t want to get caught up in that.. She’s lost a teeny bit more weight. But she does do a good amount of work so I’m not surprised.( she also gets free choice salt) she weighs around 300 now.
 

Abby P

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Folks with goats/sheep - do be careful with horse supplements that contain copper. Horses need it - well, goats and sheep do too - but there can be a lot in horse supplements which can be toxic to goats and sheep. Definitely separate your horses to feed their VMS/ration balancers if you have goats or sheep that might be able to sneak some bites.

I just noticed in my prior post - that was meant to say calcium : magnesium : phosphorus balance, no emojis needed.
 

chandab

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You are right about the Triple Crown, I misspoke. It is Sentinel Care Carb-Guard, which is carried by Blue Seal. I don't know if Blue Seal is Nationwide or not, so you may have never heard of it. Your comment about the 1/4 cup being too little of an amount of grain served twice a day, is interesting, and not surprising to me. Previous to owning my 2 boys I had a 27 year old chestnut mini mare, Lady who passed away from Lyme Disease and Cushing's Disease 2 years ago. I also have 2 mini donkeys (jennys), which I have owned for their entire lives, which is almost 12 years. All 3 of these equines have required very little grain, if any. My donkeys are chunky and I had to watch Lady's grain intake because of her Cushing's. My vet has always cautioned me that minis of all types don't really need grain as it will cause them to become overweight and unhealthy. I give them grain, basically to entice them to come in at night and then give it to them again in the morning before I let them out.
With regard to the boys: Rocky is 9 +/-, about 32" and what I would call stocky. He weighs around 375-400 lbs. (tried figuring it out using 2 different methods, but can't nail it). Cooper (the manure and dirt eater) is about 37" and weighs about 317 +/-. He is not stocky and looks more like a mini should (if there is such a thing!). They are both extremely active and play and run around most of the day. My vet says their weights look good, which I guess could be true, but that doesn't address whether their necessary nutrients or mineral needs are being met. The boys also have a trainer that comes once a week or so and she has never mentioned that their weight, good or bad.
So, how does someone figure out exactly what and how much to feed? (I've had horses (riding) for over 30 years, but they always came with instructions regarding their requirements for food). Any info or insight would be appreciated.
If the 32" mini was indeed 375-400# he'd be extremely obese, if his weight looks pretty good, I'd be inclined to feed him as if he weighs around 275-300# (my chunky 33" mare weighs 300#). 317# sounds light for 37", but not completely unreasonable for a slight built mini.
Sentinel Carb Guard has a feeding rate of .4#/100#BW, most pelleted feeds run 3 cups per pound, so if they don't need much in the way of calories in addition to their forage, they are probably good candidates for a ration balancer, which provide nutrients in a concentrated serving.
If Sentinel is the readily available brand for you, then perhaps the Simply Lite would be a good choice, vitamin/minerals in a compact serving. [Feeding rate 0.15 – 0.25 lb/100 lb body weight, so 300# mini would get just under 1/2# to 3/4# daily. It looks like it's about 1/5# per cup (.75#/quart), so looks like about 1 cup daily if they are 300#.]
 

1roadtoad

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If the 32" mini was indeed 375-400# he'd be extremely obese, if his weight looks pretty good, I'd be inclined to feed him as if he weighs around 275-300# (my chunky 33" mare weighs 300#). 317# sounds light for 37", but not completely unreasonable for a slight built mini.
Sentinel Carb Guard has a feeding rate of .4#/100#BW, most pelleted feeds run 3 cups per pound, so if they don't need much in the way of calories in addition to their forage, they are probably good candidates for a ration balancer, which provide nutrients in a concentrated serving.
If Sentinel is the readily available brand for you, then perhaps the Simply Lite would be a good choice, vitamin/minerals in a compact serving. [Feeding rate 0.15 – 0.25 lb/100 lb body weight, so 300# mini would get just under 1/2# to 3/4# daily. It looks like it's about 1/5# per cup (.75#/quart), so looks like about 1 cup daily if they are 300#.]
Wow, thanks so much for all this information. I will definitely check out the Simply Lite and I really appreciate that you went to the trouble of figuring out the amounts to be given. And Yes, I took a really good look at Rocky today and his belly is looking like he swallowed a barrel. I think I'm going to try and have a nutritionist (works out of nearby vet clinic) come and take a look at the boys. Last year, after adopting the boys, I concentrated on getting them settled in and "trained." This year looks like I will concentrate on their nutritional needs, which up until now, seemed okay. Again, thanks for the Simply Lite information, I will look into it.
 

chandab

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Wow, thanks so much for all this information. I will definitely check out the Simply Lite and I really appreciate that you went to the trouble of figuring out the amounts to be given. And Yes, I took a really good look at Rocky today and his belly is looking like he swallowed a barrel. I think I'm going to try and have a nutritionist (works out of nearby vet clinic) come and take a look at the boys. Last year, after adopting the boys, I concentrated on getting them settled in and "trained." This year looks like I will concentrate on their nutritional needs, which up until now, seemed okay. Again, thanks for the Simply Lite information, I will look into it.
Don't rely on just belly as an indicator of weight, as that can "pop up/out" as a result of coarse hay, lack of protein (quantity or quality), needing to be dewormed and a few other reasons. Check their spine, hips and ribs; being it's winter, so they are fluffy, you'll need to feel rather than look, there should be a light layer of flesh between your fingers and their bones. If you readily feel bone, they are too thin; if you have to press to feel bone they are too heavy. The Henneke body condition scoring system is a really good way to assess body condition, it's a 9 point scale with 5 being ideal (1 is emaciated, 9 is obese); sometimes with minis the best you can achieve is 5.5-6 as they are such easy keepers, and that is ok.
 

keko

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Just FYI, I have used these easy calculations many times on many mini's. I have checked the results against my vets floor scale and each time the calculation is within 25 pounds of accuracy. Formulated by Kentucky Research Foundation. Weight tapes are not accurate on miniatures. Keeping Miniature Horses Healthy by Managing Diet - Kentucky Equine Research

The formula in the third paragraph is what I use the most. They all come to the same weight. Just measure correctly.
 

1roadtoad

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Just FYI, I have used these easy calculations many times on many mini's. I have checked the results against my vets floor scale and each time the calculation is within 25 pounds of accuracy. Formulated by Kentucky Research Foundation. Weight tapes are not accurate on miniatures. Keeping Miniature Horses Healthy by Managing Diet - Kentucky Equine Research

The formula in the third paragraph is what I use the most. They all come to the same weight. Just measure correctly.
Thank you. How do you properly measure the the length of the mini? Middle of chest to tail?
 

1roadtoad

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Don't rely on just belly as an indicator of weight, as that can "pop up/out" as a result of coarse hay, lack of protein (quantity or quality), needing to be dewormed and a few other reasons. Check their spine, hips and ribs; being it's winter, so they are fluffy, you'll need to feel rather than look, there should be a light layer of flesh between your fingers and their bones. If you readily feel bone, they are too thin; if you have to press to feel bone they are too heavy. The Henneke body condition scoring system is a really good way to assess body condition, it's a 9 point scale with 5 being ideal (1 is emaciated, 9 is obese); sometimes with minis the best you can achieve is 5.5-6 as they are such easy keepers, and that is ok.
I had the vet out to float my boys teeth last week and I noticed on their charts that she rated their conditions both as 6. I didn't really know what that meant. I thought it was 6 out of 10. Thanks for the explanation.
 

Standards Equine

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Just FYI, I have used these easy calculations many times on many mini's. I have checked the results against my vets floor scale and each time the calculation is within 25 pounds of accuracy. Formulated by Kentucky Research Foundation. Weight tapes are not accurate on miniatures. Keeping Miniature Horses Healthy by Managing Diet - Kentucky Equine Research

The formula in the third paragraph is what I use the most. They all come to the same weight. Just measure correctly.
I love these kinds of formulas. We use one similar in our equine first-aid programs. Heart Girth x Heart Girth x Length (not centre of chest to centre of tail, just length of body shoulder to buttock) divided by 305 and that will give you inches to pounds within 5% (as close to within 2%) of the actual weight.
There's several variations but the fundamental of using the body length as well as the girth in calculation really makes the difference.
 

Standards Equine

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Point of shoulder to point of hip, and measure the heart girth like you measure minis for harness, where the back flattens out just behind the withers.
Point of shoulder to point of hip, yes! But heart girth is actually over the wither, right under the elbow, not back below it. At least, that how I was instructed and how I do measurements. We've compared this technique and used actual equine weigh scales and it's been accurate to within a few pounds on a horse. One of our instructors taught the Toronto Mounted Police unit and had this opportunity. Really neat!
 

keko

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How embarassing! Yes you are correct, I've been buying harness and that stuck in my head for harness measuring.
 

Abby P

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But heart girth is actually over the wither, right under the elbow,
I don't think you want to include the wither in the measurement. For a lot of minis and ponies it probably doesn't make too much difference since there isn't much there but for say a TB, it would add MANY inches to the measurement and really throw it off. Heart girth is taken at the place where the saddle girth would go, and just behind the wither. So for some horses it means you'd need to angle the tape slightly, if they have a forward girth groove and a bigger wither. This is a good pic:

 

keko

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If this shows strange,my old laptop is having issues.
I defer to the equine researchers, can't find my original paper but I have this small link:Feeding the Miniature Horse - Kentucky Equine Research. They know what they are doing, and these formulas are for miniature horses, not biggies. Besides, like I stated, this formula has been accurate within 25 pounds every time without fail when I compared to the floor scale at my vet's. Measuring by including withers. But everyone has an opinion.
 

Abby P

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I am sorry, I didn't realize the formula specifically instructs measuring over the withers, and I don't mean to suggest the formula is wrong. Just that heart girth is typically NOT taken over the withers, so it's a bit confusing.
 

1roadtoad

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I have read all of the above recommendations from each of you and find them very helpful and will continue to look into them. It appears as though there are several remedies for what ails my boy Cooper, but I fear I will not make the decision as to what to do for him. So, I have decided that rather than try and figure out his weight myself and then try and figure out exactly what and how much to feed him and what supplements he needs, I am going to make an appointment for Cooper with a horse nutritionist. Hopefully, they will be able to figure his proper weight, take a look at the hay and grain I feed and tell me what I need to do, so that he doesn't eat dirt and poop! If I try to figure it all out myself, it will take me forever (with all the reading I have to do) and I will be second guessing myself at every turn.
 

Standards Equine

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I don't think you want to include the wither in the measurement. For a lot of minis and ponies it probably doesn't make too much difference since there isn't much there but for say a TB, it would add MANY inches to the measurement and really throw it off. Heart girth is taken at the place where the saddle girth would go, and just behind the wither. So for some horses it means you'd need to angle the tape slightly, if they have a forward girth groove and a bigger wither. This is a good pic:

There's definitely some variation on where to landmark the measurements. The heart girth and girth line are in slightly different areas. From my understanding, the girth is behind the wither, the heart girth would be right over. However, I'm going to just respect that your landmarking is very effective for your measurements. I'm going to continue to use mine.

There are veterinary resources online that support both.
 

Abby P

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The poop may be a separate thing but re: the dirt - is it possible he's eating roots? Sometimes grass roots can have a lot of sugar in them (i.e. taste sweet) so horses will dig them up and eat them. If it's just plain dirt then I got nothing. :)
 

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