How many hours is safe to go between "meals"


 


I wanted to reach out to those who have successfully have their horses lose weight by changing their feeding schedule. Here is my issue. Akira was raised on a round bale with a nibble net hay net and nibble net hay net in her stall at night since she came to me as a rescue nurse mare foal at 8 weeks. For the now 8yrs she has been with me I have had a round bale with a nibble net on it in the covered area at the back of the barn that leads to the dry lot. I haven't been able to change my routine for her by day because of the manner in which the herd has been managed and previous lack of sufficient pasture turnout for the other 3. She is out approx 12 hrs by day and in a stall 12hrs by night adjusted for extreme weather/temps. At 4 she was taped at 1270lbs. We have been stuck at 1130 or so for quite some time. Only being able to weigh her hay at night and cut back a bit at the night time feeding knowing she is probably consuming way more than 10lbs during the day obviously is the issue for us. There has been a change in herd management now with sufficient pasture and the unfortunate loss of my young gelding so she now has the bale to herself and the dry lot. She is near the end of the current round bale and I wanted to start weighing out her day time hay and portion it out in smaller nibble hay nets since I have plenty. So my question is....how long can they safely go without food in between portioned out hay. I did an experiment when she was and stall bound for a few days to see how fast she goes through her "10lbs of night time hay" and she blew through it in about 3 hours. That is double netted 1" holes. I weighed out 10lbs of hay and divided it into 4 nets for the day and thought oh my word she will be done with 2 nets in an hour or 2 with only 2 more to hang in that 12 hr day. Days where the weather is nice we are riding for about an hour and a half each day trying to work up to longer rides. But my back cannot sustain the 30 minutes of a sustained trot and her canter is pathetic. Riding a jack hammer would be more comfortable and my back is a hot mess. So my goal is to get her fit and fix her wonky gaits and to get her to the point of long trail rides which wotoaving her out for hours on end with no food since she has been living at the buffet for 8yrs...what does that do to her insulin and stress levels. I need to find a routine where I can put out meals for her during the day. I am home most days so that isn't a problem having to make frequent trips to her. 

I will say her golf balls above her eyes are no longer there but it is just flat now and not a well. But she has re developed palm sized fat pads behind the shoulder since last fall when those were gone. So clearly not where we need to be still. 

Thank you,
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Nancy and Akira
3/20/2018  Burkesville KY

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

It sounds to me like when you start rationing her hay you will be seeing results quickly. Riding at a walk for a couple hours can be just as effective, especially if you have hills. Going without food does **not** cause stress hormones to rise. It's actually just the opposite.  Not eating lowers cortisol. You can go 4 to 6 hours without the horse eating no problem. It takes that long for the stomach and small intestine to empty.  I would try 3/4 inch nets and add a muzzle during the day.  Save 40 - 50% of the ration for overnight (assuming "overnight" = 8 to 12 hours).
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Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Maxine McArthur
 

On Sun, Aug 1, 2021 at 06:37 AM, Eleanor Kellon, VMD wrote:
Save 40 - 50% of the ration for overnight (assuming "overnight" = 8 to 12 hours).

Hi Nancy
We have found that our horses eat more of their ration at night than during the day—in the morning they’ll be keen on breakfast and eat some hay, then they pretty much loaf around until the afternoon. We often have hay left over in the afternoon from the morning feeding, whereas there’s seldom any left over from the overnight feed. So you could possibly get away with 40% split into two feeds during the day, and 60% at night. The other thing we have found handy is to have some less palatable hay to leave for overnight—in our case, it’s our Rhodes round bale hay (taken off the round bale). This hay they will scorn during the day or first feed in the evening, but it’s gone by morning. I call it the 3am hay. We put out a mix of their “nice” hay and this less-favoured hay at night, which we hope is slowing them down but giving them something to chew on if they get hungry. 

HTH
 
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Maxine and Indy (PPID) and Dangles (PPID)

Canberra, Australia 2010
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https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Maxine%20and%20Indy%20and%20Dangles 
https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=933

 


 

Thank you Dr Kellon. Yes she is usually out 12 hrs in 12hrs on average. I do have a Greenguard Muzzle left over from when I did allow her morning pasture but I am hesitant to use that in her turnout/dry lot as it is a 70x140 outdoor dry lot but the "fencing" in between that and the pasture are round pen panels. She actually caught herself on it a couple years ago walking out in the morning through the gate when she went to rub her face on her way out and she broke the muzzle. I was able to fix it and I did get her a new one that she now has never worn....but the 20x40 covered paddock with the water trough and the existing round bale has 2 cedar posts (an old converted tobacco barn) one of which is the itching post, the other anchors the metal cage around the round bale currently but then would give her ample places to rub. And the inside covered paddock is separated from the stall area by a gate and 2 metal panels that could cause issues. I do have various size hole haynets. My concern is how rapid she is able to consume her hay. She can go through 10 lbs in the double net in 3-4 hrs. Is there an issue if she were to lose weight rapidly? Or should I not be concerned about that?
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Nancy and Akira
3/20/2018  Burkesville KY

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira


 


Oh how I wish she loafed. This girl is like an equine vacuum. She eats like there is no tomorrow and will occasionally go out an sun herself and nap when it isn't too hot but here in the summer she is under a covered paddock with a fan so she will stand in front of that bale all day and eat and the amount of hay she can pull through the tiny holes on the top of the bale net is amazing. She will have to learn to loaf I guess. But I do think a 60/40 split will work best. This shall be interesting to say the least! Thank you!
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Nancy and Akira
3/20/2018  Burkesville KY

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira


Sherry Morse
 

Hi Nancy,

Sounds like her leptin is still elevated.  I took a look at your Case History and it doesn't look like you've had any bloodwork done since last year, is that correct?





Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

Weight loss is most rapid in the early stages then slows. That appetite will slow down too. Once you have a scale, a hay analysis and are ready to begin this, her calorie intake can be matched to her size and exercise level. She'll be fine.

Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


 

I had her insulin and glucose rechecked on March 20, 2021. I had updated my case file but I am now wondering if I uploaded it correctly. The issue is the vet without telling me...sent the bloodwork off to Antech Labs. So I am comparing apples to oranges now. Her insulin was 8 with a rang of 0-42 uU/mL and glucose was 88 mg/dL  with the reference range 70-120. Her glucose has remained stable but I didn't test for Leptin as I thought that was no longer advisable. She always has been ravenous and lives to eat. Not sure how I bring her leptin levels down. I fed her her first meal this morning. 3lbs hay in a nibble net and she had it devoured in 30 min or less. I waited 3hrs before hanging the 2nd 3lb bag and in 15 min it was more than half gone. 

If my updated case history isn't showing up on this signature link can you let me know? Then I will need some assistance as to why it isn't uploading the revised one. I had issues because my old laptop had Windows XP and my new Windows 10 doesn't have the software but I downloaded the software that Dr Kellon suggested and updated and then again revised my case history as of July of this month. Made some changes yesterday actually to reflect her activity and the labs were actually listed. So now I am concerned that it didn't upload correctly. 

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Nancy and Akira
3/20/2018  Burkesville KY

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira


 

I have had a scale for years but only have weighed her night time portion since I was feeding 4 horses off the round bale. My hay is tested every season and Kathleen does my mineral balancing for me and I get the custom mix from Horse Tech. I believe we are in our 3rd season for that. The biggest issue has been the buffet before her for almost 12 hrs during the day. She can inhale through the smallest of holes. I weighed out 4 bags this morning 3lbs each for the day and opted to hang one every 3 hrs then the night time bag has 8lbs in it and is double netted. I thought the 60%/40% might help her out during the 12hr daytime with her increased exercise we have done over the last couple months and her not in the habit of napping much. The next issue I thought of since she devoured 3lbs in 30 min or less is what do I do on her next testing day? In the past I had her on the round bale for 4 hrs before the vet came since she had a long overnight fast knowing her hay was gone in probably 4hrs of being brought in. How do I do the feedings on testing day knowing she will have food inhaled in 30 min then another 3hrs of "fasting" before the next "meal"? Her first 3lb bag of hay she started at 6:20am after her beet pulp/cubes mineral meal and it was completely gone by or before 6:50am. The next bag I hung at 9:30am and in 15 min she had 2/3 to 3/4 of it gone. 

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Nancy and Akira
3/20/2018  Burkesville KY

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira


 

What size holes in the Nibblenet? You can slow her down with a small hole hay net or  worst case, double netted. Mine took at least 2 - 2 1/2 hrs to inhale 3 lbs from the Shires Greedy Feeder with 1 ¼ inch holes. Or you can try the Hay Chix 1 inch extra slow net.  Mine can’t eat out of 1 inch net and instead shakes out the hay. Different hay textures and especially soaking call for different size holes. 
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Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
ECIR Group Moderator
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Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

You need smaller holes and a muzzle.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Bonnie
 

Some horses are extremely dexterous with their tongue and lips and can get past nibble nets with great speed. Ask me how I know. I have a collection of naynets (I found Econets durable) and have 2 sized of holes. I hang out the "easy" bag first, then the double bag next. Once Lad has some hay inside him he is less likely to attack the next bag like a shark.
--
Bonnie and Lad
North Ontario
Dec 2008
 


Sherry Morse
 

Hi Nancy,

The case history in your file is titled "Akira Case History Form 2020" and was uploaded on July 10th of this year. If you have a newer version you can upload that by going to the folder and clicking on the "+New/Upload" button, selecting "Upload File" in the dropdown and then navigating to the file on your device. 

If you run into issues let us know which step you are having the issue at so we can help you.





 

She has had 1" nibble nets for years and they are double netted. She can unfortunately manage quite easily on them because she was raised on them in her stall at night. I double bagged them when she was 4 and she was confirmed IR. I had suspicions as early as 2. When she was on the round bale I had customized the 1" nets with 1/2" holes along the top and about a quarter down the sides with a sports net we bought and sewed on to an existing 1" hole net by Hay Burner. 

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Nancy and Akira
3/20/2018  Burkesville KY

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira


 

I tried her on the greenguard muzzle this morning but it didn't work. Not only did it catch on the holes but she couldn't get any hay out. I can try and purchase a different type muzzle but I do fear she will get hung up as there are too many places in her turnout she can catch it on. Between latches and round pen panels it is pretty much not if she gets caught up but how soon. Her 1" nets are double bagged. What are your thoughts on one of hay balls they make that they can roll around? 

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Nancy and Akira
3/20/2018  Burkesville KY

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira


 

Thank you. I will try again. I do have an updated one from July 2021 but I revised it again at the end of July. 

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Nancy and Akira
3/20/2018  Burkesville KY

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira


Kirsten Rasmussen
 

How do I do the feedings on testing day knowing she will have food inhaled in 30 min then another 3hrs of "fasting" before the next "meal"?
3 hours is not long enough to cause fasting.  As long as she starts her meal at least 4 hours before the vet arrives, it doesn't matter when she finishes it.  You could also, on vet day, give her 2x as much in the am.  I know my horse will be sedated when the vet is here and he won't eat his "noon" meal because he'll still be dopey, so I give it to him early with his breakfast.

Don't stress too much about her meals being finished quickly during the day, as long as you set out the next meal within 6 hours of the first, which it sounds like you can do most days.  Slowing her down is good with hay nets and muzzles is good, but if you just can't slow her down then spacing her feedings is key.  Overnight is harder, unless you only need 6 hrs of sleep!   I feed 2/3 of the daily hay overnight.  If she's stalled it might not be possible, but there are ways to set up a timer for feeding (also helpful for days when you are not at home).  As Bonnie said, too, making a second overnight hay net harder to eat by double-netting does help, or perhaps using a muzzle overnight.

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Kirsten and Shaku (IR + PPID) - 2019
Kitimat, BC, Canada
ECIR Group Moderator
 
Shaku's Case History
Shaku's Photo Album


 

Sherry I revised her case history form and put today's date on it....Let me know if it worked. I added her info on her diet and her exercise at the bottom where there is a comment section as I forgot that section was even there. So the new form reflects her daytime hay weighed out and double netted along with her exercise being ramped up. Thanks again. I thought this was the easy part lol but apparently I am not as tech savvy as I thought!

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Nancy and Akira
3/20/2018  Burkesville KY

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira


Sherry Morse
 

Hi Nancy,

From a safety perspective you might want to consider a Best Friends type muzzle: https://bestfriendequine.com/products/best-friend-deluxe-horse-grazing-muzzle and try putting it on her in her stall where she can work on the hay nets with it on.  Rubbing on things to try to get a muzzle off is pretty common but they really can live with them on and the breakaway on the Best Friends will work. :-)




Sherry Morse
 

Hi Nancy,

Well the issue wasn't that you weren't uploading them but you were not uploading them into your folder (https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Nancy%20and%20Akira) but into the main folder.  I moved the one from today into your folder and deleted the older versions to keep things tidy.

One mystery solved!