From AAEP’s Ask the Vet: Easy Keeper Developing Bad Habits

I have a 6 yr Morgan horse who is a very easy keeper. She is currently getting 1 lb ration balancer and 12 lbs grass hay and 2 lbs Alfalfa cubes a day total – broken down into 3 feedings. Her hay is fed in small mesh hay nets to help it last longer, but she has started digging holes to chew on tree roots. She is on Recovery EQ and Quitt. Any suggestions on what to do or is normal behavior? – Tabatha

Dear Tabatha,

I feel your pain! Here you are trying to do the right thing and your mare is not participating in the program. Couple of suggestions for you:

1. Omit the 2lbs alfalfa cubes. Alfalfa typically provides more calories than grass so she probably doesn’t need this particular feed.

2. Feed the right amount of forage. How much does your horse weigh? If she weighs 800 pounds, then the 12 pounds of grass hay you’re feeding her per day is 1.5% of her body weight. If she weighs 900 or 1000 pounds, then she’s receiving closer to 1% of her body weight. This may simply not be enough long-stem forage and therefore chew time for her. Try gradually increasing her hay to 15lbs or more and see if her behavior quits yet she does not gain weight.

3. Soak hay to reduce the NSC content. Since you’re already putting her hay in the small hole hay net, soaking in a clean muck basket would be really easy! Sugars and starches but not important nutrients are removed in just 30 minutes of warm water soaking or 60 minutes of cold water soaking.

4. Add a grazing muzzle. I’ve had great success with putting grazing muzzles on horses to slow down their rate of hay consumption. I know they’re designed for grass pastures, but they also work well in situations like yours where the small hole hay net doesn’t keep her from finishing her hay too early.

5. Include a supplement targeted to support metabolism. Ingredients like chromium, magnesium, taurine, biotin, cinnamon, fenugreek, and other herbs—including adaptogens—help some horses lose their ravenous appetite.

In addition to these diet recommendations, I have two more ideas for you: provide at least 30 minutes of controlled exercise each day, not just turnout, and consider adding stall toys or another distraction to her environment. Hopefully something here will help your mare cope with her diet restrictions that are necessary to her overall health and soundness!

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Tagged with:
Posted in Ask the Vet, Nutrition

Recent Posts


One comment on “From AAEP’s Ask the Vet: Easy Keeper Developing Bad Habits
  1. Lisa says:

    Smartpak, do you have a supplement that has the suggested items in it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Share it:
SmartPak is an Official partner of AQHA.
Members save 5% off all purchases.
You'll this

SmartCombo™ Senior Pellets


As Low As: $55.95
(53 reviews)
Have questions? Contact us »
Connect with us:

Meet the SmartPakers

Jen and Tally
Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

Learn more »

Read our blog

Ask the Vet
Every week our staff veterinarian, Dr. Lydia Gray, answers tough horse health questions from riders just like you.

Read her latest answer now »

Healthy horses, happy riders.
SmartPak is committed to a greener planet.
Sign Up Now!
Free Catalog Get Yours Now!

SmartPak Equine is the premier online provider of horse supplies and equine supplements.
Questions? Call us Toll-Free at 1-888-752-5171. © Copyright 2013 by SmartPak Equine LLC. All Rights reserved.