Re: Free feeding tested hay

Kirsten Rasmussen

Hi Pat,

I'm glad to hear Willow is doing well and that she has lost so much weight!  That's great that her bloodwork is showing her insulin is well-controlled, but that was back in October.  If her insulin is creeping up at all, that could coincide with a grumpy attitude and a dislike of being touched or worked though so would you consider having her bloodwork checked again?  Biting could also be due to discomfort from cycling, or saddle fit changing after all her weight loss, etc.  If you suspect ulcers, I would have a veterinarian out and have her scoped if you can, to get an actual diagnosis.  Another option mentioned in previous posts is to try a few days of GastroGuard or Ulcerguard to see if her condition improves; if yes, then she likely does have ulcers that would benefit from the full treatment.

Because she is unlikely to ever learn to regulate her hay intake, I would not consider go the route of free-feeding hay.  I think she will balloon up so fast that all your hard work will be undone.  Currently she seems to be eating about 1.8% of her lower body weight estimate.  If you are happy with her current weight, and if she is back in work, you could try increasing her hay intake to 2% of her ideal body weight (assuming 1100 lbs is ideal, that would be 22 lbs of hay).  Also, the hay really should be weighed because estimating hay by flake size is very inaccurate.  Maybe she is getting less than you think and has good reason to be starving all the time?  One suggestion is for you to weigh out a day's worth of hay for 7 days and put it into separate garbage bags, then ask the barn to feed 1 garbage bag a day, divided in to the 3 feedings.  And, maybe on days you exercise her a minimum of 30 min trotting, she can have a small 0.5-1lb meal of hay afterwards that you give her?  Those are just my thoughts.  I know its hard and its a constant battle slowing my horse's hay consumption down, too.

Kirsten and Shaku (IR) - 2019
Kitimat, BC, Canada
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