From a nutritional standpoint, the most difficult aspect of weaning is preventing a depression in growth rate after the youngster is weaned followed by a rapid acceleration of growth once the weanling has adapted to its new lifestyle. An erratic growth rate can contribute to developmental orthopedic problems. Management procedures such as making sure the foal leads well, stands for the farrier and has had its feet trimmed, is properly vaccinated and dewormed, and is eating well prior to weaning make the process go much easier.
One of the most productive ways of keeping horses warm and supply nutrients is to provide free choice, good quality hay. The heat of fermentation when the hay is digested by microbes in the horse’s hindgut is the main source of warmth for the horse.
There are a number of myths and misconceptions when it comes to feeding the horse. Many traditional feeding methods have been passed from generation to generation of horsemen, and while some of these methods are still useful, many are outdated and even detrimental to the horse’s nutritional health.
Feeding horses with a selective palate can become a frustrating matter, but horses that become particular about what they want in their feed tub are not uncommon. Horses that compete and train at levels that expend great amounts of energy can have trouble consuming enough feed to meet energy (calorie) demands. Older and recuperating horses also tend to back off their feed as well. In order to maintain your horse’s nutritional demands and overall body condition, well-organized feeding strategies become vital.
Equine obesity comes with its fair share of complications, just as it does in humans. As discussed last time, organ failure, intolerance to exercise, laminitis, and predisposition to certain conditions are all unfortunate consequences of being an overweight horse. Insulin resistance, the body’s inability to store starch and sugar properly in the body, is also a very common side effect with overweight horses, which must then be treated for the entirety of the horse’s life.
Spring is here and with the warmer weather comes thoughts and plans of hitting the road with our horses for trail rides and horse shows. Getting to and from events is fairly straightforward when the distance to travel is short but traveling long distance with your horse involves a bit more planning. Horses are creatures of habit and thrive on routine on a daily basis, so the disruption of normal feeding, sleeping and working schedules associated with travel can be a cause of undue stress for our equine friends.