Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Day in the Life of an Arabian Horse Breeder - Diets

While having the Arabian horses live outside might make it easier as far as stall cleaning goes, it has it's own set of difficulties. I've already had to move two young horses back into the barn because they're just not getting enough to eat.

Both are Aana's babies and they're a bit on the finicky side so not sure what they thing about this foraging thing. They much prefer their meals served up to them and then their pasture mates run them off. Percy who is also one of Aana's boys seems to be holding his own, but you can bet I'm watching him closely.

I think it's interesting that it's the boys who I've had the most trouble with. I had to move Louie by himself when I feed because he's terrorizing the others. But when I remove him from the mix Percy appears to be in charge. He' always been a picky eater like Aana's other foals but somehow the prospect of fighting for his food has improved his appetite. I think he might even been gaining a little weight.........which believe me he could use!

On the other side of the spectrum I have those easy keepers that really don't need to be out 24/7 foraging for food. The three gray mares, Solidare, Faye and Lilly all fit into that category. I swear either of those Arabian horses can put on weight just looking at food. Heaven forbid what happens when they actually get to eat the stuff!

Solidare I try to keep on the thin side because she is broken down behind on her fetlocks which makes carrying less weight better for her. She's not all that happy about that and lets me know that she feels deprived. This living outside thing has made Solidare a happy Arabian mare.

At night, I've been moving the gray mares up into the yard. They've already eaten that grass down so I know they won't be pigging out all night long. It the closest thing to a diet I can come up with except for putting them back into stalls at night. I'm really trying not to do that. I don't need more stalls to clean while I'm caring for Lindsay.

Obviously these easy keepers don't really need to be given extra hay when they're living outside in pasture that's up to their chest. (I have one small field like that........which won't last for long.) However, I'm sure you know how neglected they feel if I give the others hay and they don't get some for themselves.

I've been feeding grass from eastern Washington. That's not my first choice. Whenever I've had it tested it's been much higher in protein than what I want to feed growing horses. But since the nice local hay I usually feed was cut so late this year, I had to go with what I could get.

Luckily, I got my first load of local hay this last week. Dear sweet Solidare has decided that it just doesn't suit her tastes. So she is sulking because of this diet change.

I still have a couple of bales left of the eastern Washington hay. I have been feeding it to the three Arabian horses that are left in the barn. Those three need all the calories they can get at this point.

So tonight, I feed those three first leaving some remnants of the hay in the bottom of the wheel barrow. On top of that were flakes of this local hay that the rest of the horses love except for Solidare. I went to turn off the water or some darn thing and came back to find that my angel, Solidare, had rummaged through the wheel barrow, throwing out all the local grass and was scarfing down what was left of the good stuff.



  1. ROTFL!!! I have one of those! My mare is a easy keeper and gains weight by looking at feed! She is always looking into buckets, whatever I have at the time to see if there is something in there to eat!

    Juggling horses.........wouldn't change a thing though!

  2. Tell me about it!! I've got a skinny boy here now and no one else understands why he gets extra hay plus a pan of beet pulp. Doesn't help that he's a slow eater, either!

    What are you doing for hay this year? I'm shuddering at the cost of anything eastern...

  3. LOL I'm so glad that mine will eat whatever I put in front of them.

    I locked in some local this year so hopefully they'll like it.

  4. kim, you're right about Solidare, she is a hoot!

    kdwhorses, the only thing I'm accomplishing by moving them around is keeping her from the dessert bar. lol

    tracey,I have a guy that's put up 1300 bales of a nice enough local for me but won't get me through because they're smaller bales. (easier for me to handle though!) For eastern I think they're projecting $400 a ton by fall. My daughter just paid $18 a bale last week so that's already over the hump. It's going to be a scary year for hay!

    lady of chaos, I have some that will eat anything but with as many as I have I think I have a little of each kind of eater! lol

    Local hay is good if the fields have been properly fertilized and the hay's been baled right. The problem I've found is being able to tell what has and what hasn't. Green doesn't always mean good.

  5. LOL MiKael ... it sounds like you are talking about me, my horses and my barn, all I can say is ditto.

    Noticed that you were having much more pleasant temps today, we are heading for the 90s again I am too scared to look.

    Hope Lindsay is still on the mend.


  6. What a dilema!
    I have a question about the protein of the Eastern grass hay. Is it still less protein than what you'd find in alfalfa? I'm considering switching my gelding to an orchard grass hay, instead of alfalfa. Thanks!
    And good luck with feeding time roulette!

  7. lori, yes, Lindsay gets a little better each day. Watching her recovery and how she is feeling reminds me of how I was feeling last Nov when I took that fall. It makes me all the more aware that I should have called 911. Hope by the time I learn all the things to do this "right" I don't need such information any more. LOL

    pony girl, yes even though the protein is high in the eastern Washington grass it is lower than the alfalfa.

  8. Glad to hear Lindsay is getting better each day. I love that grey horse in the picture, just beautiful. Feeding sounds like a soap opera "The Hay Chronicles"!

  9. That is just a hoot! Can't blame a guy for trying to get his favorite stuff! I am constantly struggling to keep the weight down on some of my guys and then one of them has to have twice as much to just keep weight on. The ponies just have to look at food and they get fatter. Sigh.....why couldn't they all be the same and stay a perfect healthy weight? Now wouldn't that be nice??!!

  10. They always pick the worst times to be fussy don't they! We found that with some of the cattle in the drought when we were feeding. No matter how hungry they were they wouldn't take a change in diet lightly, no matter how small it was!