Monday, September 27, 2010

The Beginnings of a Little Story...............The Colts

I didn't seem to be able to find anything live on the World Equestrian Games today although I know the dressage started because I got an email telling me the Netherlands is leading in the team competition. It's probably a good thing I couldn't find a live feed because I actually got to work horses here which was a nice change but not something I'm going to post about at this time. Not that the work I did wasn't interesting but I have this story I keep putting off that I'm going to tell so put on your seat belts. You're not going to believe this.

Normally the Sunday after Labor Day is when I have my annual open house. I usually begin conditioning horses for that event when my round pen finally dries out which is usually in mid to late spring. Because of the legal proceedings I was buried in up to my eyeballs, I had long since given up on trying to put that event together. I just didn't have the time to work horses, nor clean up my yard for such an event, let alone the two solid weeks of last minute preparations it takes to pull such an event off.

It was funny how things worked out because it was the Friday before Labor Day that I received that offer. The proximity to my usual open house date was not lost on me but I still knew the event was just not going to happen this year. The horses weren't in shape, the farm looked like the caretaker had died and there wasn't even enough time to get horses bathed and clipped to have visitors anyway. Visitors were just not in my plan.

Dave and I signed those papers the Tuesday after Labor Day and hand delivered them to their attorney. On the way home I kept thinking about my open house and how sad it was that we weren't going to be able to pull it off this year. I did not try to second guess myself but it still knocked around in my mind. At least now I could begin the farm clean-up I normally would have had done months ago and I could devote some time to the horses themselves.

In the process of this overhaul I made sure the colts and stallions were getting the turnout they need. Lindsay doesn't handle them and Dave puts it off as much as he can. The result is the still intact boys don't see as much turnout time as I'd like them to have. I was putting colts out in the morning while the other horses were eating breakfast, doing some clean-up outside, then rotate those horses to the girls for the midday and onto the rest of the boys during dinnertime. That way I could get each horse out every day and some normalcy back in our lives.

This time of the year, my colts always seem to be a bit on the thin side. Being a breeding farm with a potful of mares, the hormones are raging and the colts rage right with them. It's an ongoing problem trying to adjust their diets to keep as much weight on them as I can without crossing that line into growth issues.

I've pretty much resigned myself by this time of the year that I'm not going to see good weight on my colts until the mares quit cycling. I keep trying but I know how it's going to be. About the time one gets "good" he hits a growth spurt and is again bad. This condition cycles through the youngsters and I never know which one is going to look the worst on any given day. All the years I've been breeding horses this situation has just been a fact of life. I've tried everything I know how to do, I have resigned myself to the fact that I'm going to see some ribs now and then and it's OK. There are even those experts who think the amount of rib I see is just right for a growing horse so I try to console myself with that thought.

Last year we were showing Rhet and his weight was always an issue. The colt never did carry the kind of weight the halter boys would like to see. I worked my tail off to keep enough weight on him that we didn't see ribs but I pushed a line I wasn't really comfortable with. I didn't push it far but I pushed it none the less.

With no plans to show Rhet this year, I'd decided I would just let him be a horse and I wasn't going to push all that extra stuff at him to keep him in show shape. His diet was set up with the help of my vet so I knew he was getting what he needed. Mostly what that means is I backed off on the alfalfa and the rice bran and made sure he had free choice good quality grass hay, the appropriate feed, vitamins and beet pulp and I crossed my fingers and hoped Rhet would not get too growthy looking.

It has been an up and down battle with him just like with the other colts. Sometimes Rhet looks the best of the bunch and other times he has looked the worst. His body seems to be in a constant state of change and I just try to adjust as I can. The horse is definitely not an easy keeper at this time and may never be, only time will tell.

To be continued......................

The Colts

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  1. My old stallion was one that I constantly fought to keep weight on. As he got older he wouldn't be trribly thinjust rangey during the breding season.And just enough cover over the winter, never fat even on free choice. Sometimes though I would rather that , than the "air ferns" easier to increase to some extent then to have fence crawlers on a dry lot

  2. Horses go though those awkward gangly phases just as we do. I've watched three of our girls Bella, Rina and Taya (Arabs) and Max (a QH) all have some dramatic weight shifts as they grew. They'd suddenly shoot up and get a little skinny, I'd adjust the feed, they'd gain it back then shoot up again several different times before finally filling out into their adult frames. Looking back through the pictures, it really shows up across the chest.
    Of course Taya is only four, so I'm pretty sure she has a couple more spurts to go :o)

  3. I can sympathize. Although not a show horse, we are already battling weight with Baby D. I know it's a natural process for them to chow down, fill out, and shoot up. But because he has rib and shoulder markings, well-meaning (but ignorant) folks like to report you to AC because they think they see bones.

  4. It's a shame you couldn't have your open house this year, but then again maybe you needed the down time to recuperate from the lawsuit.

    I'm sure you're too critical about your stallions and they look fine.

  5. fern, I'm with you. I've been lucky and not had to dry lot anyone but I do have a couple I must watch closely.

    Jen, the girls sure can do it to although I don't think theirs is more just growth while the boys with the testosterone get running fencelines into the mix just burning off those calories quicker than they can take them in.

    Leah, we've been here for over twenty years and hadn't been reported to AC although there were times I certainly thought we would. Those last months with Solidare I thought for sure we get a visit from them but it didn't come.

  6. I assume you think you're going to breed all these boys because they are spectacular, (Rhett definitely, from what you've said) or they are too young to geld.

    I don't know how you determine when and what to geld, so I'm curious.

  7. Arlene, it felt really odd not to have the open house this year and I heard some of my regular attendees were disappointed.

    As for the boys, they really are thin. Their weight would probably be better if I had been conditioning them for my open house. Work definitely aids digestion so they ultilize their food better. It also helps their appetites. Now that I have the time, I am putting them to work. With winter coming the mares will quit cycling and they'll fatten up in no time.

    BaxtersMum, If they are stallion quality and western pleasure prospects, I try to leave them intact in case someone is looking for a national's quality open horse. Geldings just don't win in that division and mares rarely do. Once in a while a gelding will make a top ten but not often.

    This way if someone wants a gelding for an amateur, they can do that without problem but if someone wants the western open horse, I have that too. As long as their manners are good, I let them stay as they are unless I get too many and then I go ahead and geld some to make turnouts easier.

    Other than that I have Rhet, Legs and Reflection for breeding horses here.