Odds and Ends
These lovable long ears evolved in desert areas where they adapted to living off poor quality food. This survival trait worked well in a location with sparse food; however, donkeys living a life of leisure as a pet, can put them at risk of obesity related diseases.
Maple trees are very common in the eastern states. However beautiful they are in the fall, they pose a serious health risk to your horse when the leaves start to wilt and die. Red maples are the usual culprit, but there are is still a lot unknown about maple poisoning, so it’s best to consider all maples as a possible hazard.
As much as we love our horses, the simple truth is that they are large prey animals that can inadvertently injure us. Behavior that we are cautious of can be broken down into two categories: natural behavior and unnatural behavior (pretty simple huh!). Natural behavior would be flight response, aggression or anxiety. Unnatural behavior are stereotypes such as cribbing, wood chewing, or stall weaving.
When you get new hay or introduce a new feed, it’s a good idea to weigh it and ensure your horse is receiving the proper amount.
How is your horse's nutrition similar to his dressage training?
When you walk down the supplement aisle of your local feed store, a lot of products may catch your eye. With fancy labels and claims that are typically not backed by studies. We want the best for our horses and reach for supplements to provide a shiny coat, joint health, or a promise of a more "relaxed" horse. What is often overlooked is the vitamin and mineral supplements that are needed to balance out the largest part of your horse's diet, his forage.
A good analogy for your horse's nutrition is to think of the dressage training pyramid:
In dressage each level builds upon the previous. If a level is not mastered, proceeding to the next is impossible. Each level is interconnected. The same with your horse's diet. Creating a proper foundation is key. Then you build onto it as needed. Most owners will find that with the correct 1-3 levels, your horse may not need additional supplements such as hoof, calming, coat enhancers etc.
Here is your horse's Supplement Pyramid:
Forage is the foundation of your nutrition pyramid, like rhythm is your foundation for dressage. In order to master this level and proceed to the next, you must know what is in your forage. The only way to do that is to have it tested. Aimed with this knowledge you can proceed to the next level; vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins and Minerals are needed to balance what is lacking in your forage, or nutrients that are in excess causing secondary deficiencies. The next level in dressage is Relaxation. Which is ironic as one of the most common feedback I receive from clients after their hoses is on a balanced diet, is that their horse is more relaxed. The majority of horses will not need a hoof supplement once their trace minerals are balanced.
These two levels of nutrition may be all that some horses need. If necessary, the next step is to provide immune and digestive support. Supporting your horse's immune system will reduces stress, protects against disease, reduces allergic reactions, and may negate the need for supplements for heaves, allergies, etc.
With a balanced diet, strong immune system, and healthy digestive tract, there are only special situations left where additional supplements are needed. For example, joint health, electrolytes, etc.
Following this Supplement Pyramid will not only help your horse, it will help your wallet.
This is Onyx. He is a Percheron / QH cross who was purchased in the middle of the winter. When his owner bought him, he was black. As he shed out that first summer, he faded to a bay. He had dry brittle hooves and low stamina.
An analysis of Onyx's forage revealed what is typically seen in Vermont hay, low magnesium, zinc and copper, and high iron. Onyx was started on a balanced diet to correct these deficiencies. He no longer faded in the summer, staying a true black. and his stamina and hoof quality improved.