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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Sugar sugar everywhere and its all in the grass

Much of the grazing in the UK has been 'improved' for the benefit of the dairy industry. The leys have been selected to be high in sugar. This is not good news for horses and it is particularly bad news for horses that are insulin resistant.

The girls do suffer a bit from insulin resistance, although neither have ever had full blown laminitis. There is a huge amount of high sugar grass and plantain on the new large circuit, so my plan is to graze the horses on it overnight to about 10am. They will be on the old 'nursery' circuit with hay until late evening.

I will monitor them for signs of too much sugar and if necessary restrict their intake of grass even further.

I do give them two additional meals a day so that I can give them some supplements. At the moment they have Alfa A Oil, Epsom Salts (for the magnesium) and a general supplement. They also have a salt lick in the field.

I plan to move them onto free choice supplements as soon as I can find a supplier.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Hard days night

One month in and Madam is finding the 'circuit' training is hard work. Shetakes a much needed rest with Princess standing guard. I have yet to see Madam return the favour.

The work is paying off though - Madam's fat pads are disappearing and we are seeing muscles!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Paddock Paradise goes large

Madam suffers from sweet itch on her belly and groin. She is particularly sensitive to poo flies, so we poo pick the circuit twice a day. She went through a phase of creating poo towers a bit like a stallion which made it easy. Now, she tends to hide her droppings by the electric fence. If she were human I'd say she was trying to get me electrocuted. Madam finds most human activities intensely annoying, unless of course they are to her direct benefit.

An upside to all this labour has been improved, longer lasting grazing. The little half acre circuit has lasted for four weeks, but now it is time to move to the big time.

Our Paddock Paradise is going large and we are moving the girls onto their new circuit which is approximately 0.5km long.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Paddock Paradise UK style

My grazing is rented and the landlord wants it kept 'pretty' and 'no mud'. It is also in a conservation area, so overall I can forget about trying to change the basic nature of the grazing or introducing any pebble track areas.

But I am keen to find out what can be done and what will work within these strictures. We have started out with a 'nursery' circuit in roughly 1/2 an acre. Partly because my first circuit blew away - (lesson - long lines of tape between plastic posts do not work well on a windy hill) and partly because Madam has just finished 8 weeks of box rest and is still relatively fragile.

I have had to compromise between supplying a wide enough track to be safe and yet not providing so much grazing that the girls stop moving round the circuit. I have been careful to ensure no 'corners' which might stop movement or allow a horse to be trapped.

I have read some advice to put down hay, even when there is grass. I try this and find it works. The horses seem to like the change and it stops them getting upset stomachs (and maybe laminitis?) from gorging on too much grass.

The first day in paradise passes without incident.

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Southern England, United Kingdom