Should we have a discussion about weight and management.

Ale

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Feb 8, 2012
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Spurred on by newforests track thread.

How do you keep your horse or how would you ideally like to keep your horse?

How is your horses weight?

How do you think turnout levels, quality, size, style etc affect weight and health?

In an ideal world I would like to keep ale on a partially surfaced track. In the winter months he could solely be on the surfaced areas and have hay. In drier months he could have restricted access to grazing through using strip grazing.

Currently Ale is kept out 24/7 year round and I think keeping him out has really helped with his weight and general well being. I strip graze and he's currently on just under half an acre as I'm getting to the end of strip grazing that side. Sometimes in the autumn or spring I keep him on as little as one quarter or even one fifth of an acre and feed hay. I rotate his fields so I have half an acre that I'm resting. I will strip graze him onto that until the grazed area is about one fifth of an acre and then I will shut the side he is currently on and rest it until mid winter.

In an ideal world if I couldn't do the track I would like another half an acre to have as I usually run out of grass to strip graze him with at some point in winter.

So how do you keeps yours and how do you think it effects them positively or negatively? What would you change if you could. Basically feel free to contribute anything you want.
 
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Bodshi

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Raf is on a little paddock and is supplemented with hay as soon as the grass starts to look poor. I'm torn between wishing he could go in a large paddock of lush grass (plenty of vitamin E) and thinking it's best to limit his grass intake given that he has Cushings and therefore technically susceptible to laminitis, although he's never had it - and I don't want him to ever get it. Also he looks really well on his current management so why fix what's not broken? I suppose ideally I'd want him to graze on a mountain side of not very good grazing so there was plenty for him to eat but he had to work hard to get it. That's never going to happen though!

Jack is currently in a large paddock but again on his own (although with his 'mates' on two sides). He was in with the others but we had to bring him out temporarily when he wasn't too good and he seems much happier on his own - I think he prefers the peace away from the playful younger horses. He gets a token feed with his Danilon and a small amount of hay with his feed, just because he enjoys it and at his age he's entitled to a treat. I'm very grateful that he doesn't have any metabolic issues (touch wood), so he can be happy without us having to restrict life's luxuries for him.
 
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chunky monkey

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I suppose ideally I'd want him to graze on a mountain side of not very good grazing so there was plenty for him to eat but he had to work hard to get it. That's never going to happen though!
It has its down sides as we have found with the cows. Ours are on a steep hillside. Grazing unimproved limestone grassland. They certainly work for it to. They are definitely fit and healthy when young but it catches up with them and i think in the long run they have a shorter life as it wears the joints out quicker overall.
 
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chunky monkey

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My boys are on a combination of tempotary paddock grazing with strip grazing and over summer this year a sort of temporary track that i created. But that was only for about 2 months until we did our hay.

They grazed over about 10 acres in the last year. Each paddock is somewhere between an acre and two. Usually when i start a new paddock the horses are restricted to 1/2 acre or less depending on grass growth on it, once its eaten off i just move the fence accordingly each day till they grazed that paddock off. They they move to a new paddock. Grazing over a large area hopefully gives good worm break periods. The fields are also grazed with the cows and sheep, at certain times of the year too.

I only feed hay in the field over the winter and spring. So December till about May. They do have hay nets in the tack up area but they vary as to whether they eat from those or not.

Im a firm believer in giving my horses grass and giving hay if needed, but also working them. I do give additional feed too. I think billy is a little overweight weight currently, but as the winter comes and the grass quality goes down he will loose it for sure.
 
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Huggy

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I struggle with Hogan and weight. If I could, I'd muzzle him, but he gets agitated if I even stand outside the stable with it in my hand - literally. Most things, the softly softly approach works, but not with a muzzle or a wormer. Ramsey was a good do-er in his youth, and the muzzle worked well. We have the problem, that so many have, of the skinny and the fatty together. We've strip grazed last and this year, so Hogan goes positively obese, slims down as the grass goes, then the fence gets moved and off we go again. What adds to the problem, is that he really gets irritable if he thinks he's hungry, and if he's really "starving" he'll escape and get into quite dangerous situations. The YO has been good - she wouldn't strip graze at all before Hogan, as hers doesn't need it. Hogan's hacked minimum 3 times a week, most weeks 4, and I try to leave him in the stable a couple of hours most days, to get him off the grass for a bit. Luckily, the grass this year is not that lush, just plentiful, and although he's got a huge tummy, he's not at all cresty. Can't separate the two either, as his field mate is very needy.?
 
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Kite_Rider

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When Belle was kept in a separate paddock (other horses either side) she was strip grazed and I managed reasonably well to keep her weight within the realms of reason, I’m not sure what size her paddock was but with supplementary hay we managed it similar to @Ale
Now she is out in four acres with three other mares two of which are equally elderly and good doers, they move a lot, she’s ridden much less now than she was and she gets quite chubby through summer, however, come February and all the grazing has pretty much gone the weight drops off again and she comes into spring looking positively svelte, it did worry me the first year but now I just figure she’s doing what nature intends, fatty towards the end of summer, skinny coming into spring. In herself she is I think happier than she’s ever been, she has a best friend and while she still isn’t interested in mutual grooming with any of her field mates, her and her best friend are never far from each other, she just seems more contented I guess.
I think herd grazing works well if all of the horses have similar requirements, so in that respect I’m very lucky.
 
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Trewsers

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I struggle with Hogan and weight. If I could, I'd muzzle him, but he gets agitated if I even stand outside the stable with it in my hand - literally. Most things, the softly softly approach works, but not with a muzzle or a wormer. Ramsey was a good do-er in his youth, and the muzzle worked well. We have the problem, that so many have, of the skinny and the fatty together. We've strip grazed last and this year, so Hogan goes positively obese, slims down as the grass goes, then the fence gets moved and off we go again. What adds to the problem, is that he really gets irritable if he thinks he's hungry, and if he's really "starving" he'll escape and get into quite dangerous situations. The YO has been good - she wouldn't strip graze at all before Hogan, as hers doesn't need it. Hogan's hacked minimum 3 times a week, most weeks 4, and I try to leave him in the stable a couple of hours most days, to get him off the grass for a bit. Luckily, the grass this year is not that lush, just plentiful, and although he's got a huge tummy, he's not at all cresty. Can't separate the two either, as his field mate is very needy.?

Storm is the same with a muzzle. I tried twice with them and even the vet said forget it! Back at our old house we tried her with one and poor lass just stood there for hour after hour until it became unkind. We kept on trying but it got to the stage where she was miserable and it was undoing all the good we had worked on with things around her head! She's not good with wormers either, mr t can do her - but it takes half an hour of gentle coaxing and getting her used to the syringe. He has to rub it all around her face gently and then she accepts it. Seventeen years on and it's never been any different. But least we have found a way of doing it.
 
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Trewsers

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Our three have very different needs so graze in separate fields - they can see each other all of the time, but Chloe is a poor doer and not at all greedy. We struggle keeping weight on her these last few years so she's allowed pretty much as much as she wants. Though having said that her time is limited on actual grass because she has Cushings and we are mindful of that. Thankfully she brings herself in and wouldn't stay out all night if you tried to make her. She is self limiting in that sense. We supplement her diet with Veteran mix and Allen and Paige (her teeth are getting worn down at 31).
Zi is a GOOD doer and omg he adores his food! But it's a balance because I like him to free range. However, he's mainly liking being with the girls so during the day he comes in for a couple of hours and will happily doze in his box. His field is okay grazing wise, not at all lush and he does manage to find plenty on it. He's a big lad though and I'd not have him in a small paddock, he's too big and clever and would either jump over (not difficult for him at 17hh) or be miserable. He usually goes into winter a bit porky but loses it with a combo of the weather up here and very lightweight rugs and double holed nets on the yard at night.
Storm - what can I say?! She is overweight but knowing her time on this planet is limited I won't have her kept miserably. Vet agrees and was happy with her last time they saw her a couple of months back. Her injury means she has limited turnout anyway and limited movement as in she doesn't gallop any more! Her teeth are quite poor so she has Allen and Paige Fast Fibre in buckets and Speedi Beet both of which I believe are fairly low in calories but keep her happy throughout the night along with her hay. It's a juggling act I tell you - one day I'll have three or four horses that can all graze together !!!

Just wanted to add - I am very lucky to have a large hard standing area and the yard - it's invaluable to all of ours in bad weather because they take turns on very vile days. I don't like the thoughts of any of them getting stiff standing in, so even when they don't want out to the field, they are happy to have an hour pootling on the yard and nibbling nets and grooming over doors etc. Then we rotate them all. As you can imagine, I don't get much else done lol
 
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Frances144

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Mine are out 24/7 in large unsewn grass fields of mixed herbage and calorific content.

If they are slightly fat in summer, I don't really care as they will shiver it all off in winter. No one has rugs but the very elderly if they are losing weight or the stallion who has a fast metabolism and loses weight in winter always.

They have outside shelter in the form of walls but no stables. We only stable if they are ill and then they get a companion on a rota so they are never alone.

Their weight is meant to vary during the seasons. That is how natives were designed.

Extra feed is only given if needed for weight gain. Supplements are given for hooves and arthritis. If they need a vehicle for the supplement (ie it will blow away dried) then we give them wet chaff and that seems to work. They have mineral licks but no with molasses unless it is a vicious winter as it turns them into sugar-holics!

Although, the fields are rotated regularly, in winter they can get pretty sparse, food-wise, so we give everyone a measured amount of hay each day and then push them back into the fields to go and forage and exercise looking for food.

Those in good winter fields, ie the Shetland ponies, get nothing unless it snows hard and they can't dig for food. As some of them had such a bad start, I think nature will sort out their digestion and metabolism better than I can. No one is suffering from it.

So that's us. I probably sound really mean but once, when we had a hurricane, I opened up the stables for them - so they stood outside. I then put hay in the stable, so they all came in, ate it, and stood outside.

As for rugs, they find them annoying.
 

PePo

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Managing a good doer is hands down the hardest type I've had to manage. Particularly when you don't own your own facilities and are limited by what you can do. Here in the SE for example geniune all weather winter turnout can be difficult to find and if you combine that with wanting access to good hacking and/or facilities to ride all year, you often have to end up making compromises. I've been at yards where you can't order your own hay and have to use the yard supplier and you can't section off areas of the field. For years, I've battled against facilities and I'm so relieved I don't have to do that any more.

I am SO pleased with Pete's weight loss at the moment. He's still got a lot more to lose, but he's on the right tracks.

He's got various factors that make him quite tricky to manage but he's happy, healthy and on his way to a slimmed down and toned body :)

IMG_20200829_001050_735.jpg

IMG_20200829_001144_512.jpg

Excuse his scruffy winter coat coming through ... he doesn't look as sleek as he did a couple of weeks ago ?
 
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Jessey

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Mine are currently on a virtually grassless track though spring, summer and autumn and strip grazed in winter, the baby will be on rotational grazing part time with the little boys taking turns to go with him as their condition allows.

Although mine haven’t been on grass for more than the occasional hour since February, Dan is still a good 4/5 on BCS, Hank and Jess are just tipping over 3/5 now, they will all drop over winter as I aim to see ribs by spring ?

If I had my dream they’d be on a huge acreage of rough rocky unimproved grass and other plants and woodland with a fair herd so they’d have to work and move for their grub, but that doesn’t exist in east anglia for horses (there’s some lovely heathland but the various conservation bodies will only rent it for stock not horses ?)
 
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eventerbabe

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Dec 16, 2004
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I tear my hair out over management! Toby can eat as much as he likes. Kez and Louisa both need restricted but can't graze together as Kez mounts Louisa :rolleyes: so Toby had 5 acres to himself. This year I've been trialing a wee experiment. Kez has been strip grazed, Louisa was on a track system. The track has worked brilliantly. Louisa is the best I've managed to get her in the years I've owned her. The strip grazing has worked but Kez has yoyo'd each time I've moved the fence. My only negative is all three are essentially on individual turnout. BUT if all were grazed together, none of their individual needs would be met and we'd have Toby being attacked and Louisa being mounted!! As they are their weights are being controlled and they are content. They can see each other at all times.
 

newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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Mine is on a track at the moment. Two weeks today. I weighed her at the beginning and will be curious if she's dropped. Weight and management is always an interesting topic because as @Frances144 says ponies are meant to fluctuate.
I was of the understanding they were meant to gain in the spring and summer because they need that to survive the winter.
But if we rug and feed hay then they can't do what nature intended and they come out of winter to plump to go into spring.
I guess we may exercise less we used to or is the grazing too rich?
 
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Jessey

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Both, we don’t ride for transport so ride less and fields are getting smaller and smaller so less free exercise too, then we manage those smaller fields more intensively and grass varieties are modified for increased production of stock which doesn’t really suit horses.
 
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