Monday, October 31, 2011

Horses Have to Eat Too, Right?

All my horses tend to be chow hounds. In late spring and summer they live strictly off pasture and a daily treat of fruit or carrots. In fall and winter, I supplement with grain in differing proportions depending on how much green grass and hay is available. The grain ration is never enough for my guys.
And that can be a problem, both physically and behaviorally.

Cody puts on weight easily. Already this fall he's a fat little butterball, which is a problem because miniatures are especially prone to diabetes. Yet he's only getting a bit of grain right now to counter the pasture they're on where the drought's sucked much of the nutrition right out of the dead grass.

Cody pretending to be slim - he was too vain to have a new picture taken.
When I'm distributing their grain, Bonita follows me from feed bowl to feed bowl, trying to snatch a mouthfull from each. Because she's the baby of the herd at just a year old, I put feed in her bowl last. Eventually she'll learn patience. Her mother, Bella, did.

Bonita checking out the "treat wagon"
After being Hah!'ed at enough and told "Not your bowl!" a hundred times, Bella figured out it takes me as long to put grain in everyone's bowls as it does for her to walk once slowly around the outside of the barn. She learned to self-regulate! So now I don't dawdle when I feed because I want to be sure there's food in her bowl by the time she comes back in.

Bella had colic recently and I stayed up with her during the night walking her a bit and rubbing her tummy and generally worrying over her. A fair percentage of horses die each year from severe cases of colic, so it always requires a sharp eye to be sure it's not developing beyond a simple, mild case. Luckily, Bella responded well to pain meds and being fussed over. It took her a couple of days to come back 100% but once the crisis point was past, I was grateful.

Bella, feeling much better thank you.
So much to worry about with the horses seems to be over what they're eating or how they're eating it. May I just ask how horses survive and thrive in the wild? Do we over-coddle?

Of course, my little beasties love to be coddled.

Speaking of which, Ricky showed up Saturday morning with this mysterious coiffure.

Reminds me of those mysterious crop circles that appear overnight.
Hmmm... isn't it Queen Mab of the Faeries who comes in the night to braid horses' manes? Or perhaps it's the little girl who lives on the other side of the pasture.


No guest post for Wednesday, but I do have a story about a very naughty lizard. Plus, I've got a meme in my back pocket that I haven't forgotten about...

1 comment:

Sarah Laurenson said...

Magical braids in a horse's mane?Hah! Sounds like you're thinking of writing Middle Grade. :-)

Love the horsies - of course.