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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Spaced out on 'crack'

I've not particularly counted, but a fair few of my client horses get edgey when on too much sugar/starch or if the diet is just not right somewhere.  Probably somewhere around 25% or more.  I use the term 'edgey' somewhat loosely as the behaviours expressed can be anything from vague, distracted, incommunicado to quite aggressive kicking and biting.  Inbetween are all the stereotypies including box walking, inability to stand still etc etc.

My own mare Grace got into deep trouble (prior to our partnership) probably largely due to her own sensitivities to sugar/starch.  The pictures below show her after her previous carer spent four months trying to put weight on her in the traditional fashion.  I acquired a horse that couldn't stand still when tied, couldn't concentrate, had trouble with canter and was extremely tricky to brush.  (The list is endless, but this will give you an idea.)

Also note the terrible colour in the above photos.

Below - this is what she looks like when on her low sugar/starch diet with a decent supplement.  And a year later, Grace can happily stand tied for ages, relaxed calm and happy. Check out the colour too!

Grace has no trouble cantering either! :-)

I often think that the horses which are really suffering remind me of people coming down from drugs.  But they have a choice, our horses do not.  And far too many horses get admonished for bad behaviour when the answer lies in our hands - in what we feed them.

Note it took me weeks to wean Grace off her addiction to all things sweet.  There were tears (mine) and tantrums (hers).  But I think you will agree it was worth it.

Now I have a horse that people comment openly on how well behaved and sweet she is - an angel no less.


Kate said...

Diet is completely connected to behavior - and so many people don't get that.

jenj said...

Goodness, she doesn't even look like the same horse!

If she was on a low starch feed and a decent mineral supplement, what did you change? I'm asking since I would guess a lot of us have horses on something similar, yet we may be having the exact same issues with our own four-foots!

Lucy Priory said...

Hi Jenj - sorry worded that badly (now changed). Before I got her Grace was on a trad bagged product with the usual molasses etc. Now on low sugar diet she is ok.

For the record this morning she got

100g unmolassed beet (dry weight) at 5% sugar
100g micronised linseed 3% sugar/starch combined
Brewers Yeast
500ml sunflower oil (for her EPSM)
1tsp Vit E oil (liquid form)
1tsp salt

In the spring/summer I add extra mag oxide but she doesn't need it at present.

Because there is no continuity of forage supply there is no benefit in me doing a forage analysis. So a lot of my judgements about what to feed and when are based on experience and observing how she is doing.

I am getting better at getting it right, but I still make mistakes. Grace with the EPSM is quite tricky.

Lucy Priory said...

And she does on average a good 10 minutes canter work every day in among her 1 hour work. So she is not worked particularly hard, but she is not a sloth either.

Lucy Priory said...

Kate - you are so right and so many times I end up hopping up and down with frustration when people complain about poor behaviour as they ladle in another kilo of molassed junk... (and maybe a bit too much sugar in my tea doesn't help me deal with it either ......)

ZJT said...

Too true. she looks wonderful.... I also get comments like "he is very calm for a thoroughbred"...!

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