Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I mentioned in my x-ray post that my new vet (Dr V) thinks Lilly is about 100 pounds overweight. The great thing about her mentioning that, was that she promptly went to her truck, got a weight tape, came back, weighed her, told me how far off the tape was, and then showed me all the "fat pockets" on my horse. She said Lilly was an easy 7 on the body score chart, and quickly approaching an 8.

Here we have exhibit a...

"This is embarrassing, mom!"
"Focus on my dapples and not my belly..."
Because of her white coat, the fat pockets are hard to see, but they're up around her withers and down along her shoulders. Dr V also commented that she couldn't feel Lilly's ribs. Okay, so she's a little fat. I've never denied that she's a bit overweight, but I'm not at the point where I want to make her wear a grazing muzzle. She mentioned about possible IR issues, but Lilly hasn't always been an air fern. I don't know much about IR so I'll have to do some reading.

She's on 24/7 turnout to help her hooves, she has hay but barely eats it because she prefers to eat the grass (what there is of it), and she gets 2 lbs of alfalfa pellets. Alfalfa pellets have roughly 1000 calories per pound... so she's not getting a whole lot to eat. I suppose I could cut out the pellets completely and give her a handful of something at breakfast for the vitamins. It's actually nearing beet pulp season, so I'll look into cutting the alfalfa and replacing it with beet pulp. I'm hoping the new exercise program will take some weight off her.

Speaking of which, after the x-rays I took Lilly for a ride. I set off with the intention of sticking to the new routine, but an opportunity for some training in another area presented itself.

She was a little on edge already because an old "flame" of hers came back to the barn. He has medical issues and sometimes stays with us because his veterinarian lives very close by to the barn, so it's easy for her to come over often and take care of him. He was screaming for Lilly all afternoon and all the horses were riled up. She wasn't very focused when we were working in the arena and two of the pastured geldings decided to come up and watch. Their pasture shares a fence line with the arena, although they usually keep their distance.

My sweet girl is also in heat, but she never misbehaves because of it... she might be a little more excited about visitors, though, which was the case yesterday. Every time we went past the boys, she nickered and wanted to stop and make kissy faces. So we did a lot of work down at that end of the arena until she decided the boys weren't worth all the hassle.

I was able to get in some planned exercises too and she was excellent. She's really learning to rate her speed and I can ask for a slower trot and she'll give me a nice jog. We can get about four or five strides in before I have to put her back together, but she's really starting to figure it out. She also has three gears at the canter now too instead of one really fast one! First gear is still a little fast but nothing to complain about, second gear is what happens when she gets unbalanced, and third gear is what I pushed her into when we were doing our warm-ups. I was really impressed!

She's a bit more out of shape than I thought, which I figured might be the case. This is also a strange time of year because we had 85 degree weather this weekend, but Lilly's coat has thickened quite a bit because of the 40 degree nights. She was sweating shortly after we started working and I had to hose her down when we were done. I wanted to err on the side of caution so as not to overheat her.

She's doing so well after such a short amount of time that I'm excited about how she'll progress over the next few months once we're really able to start working.


  1. One small thing you could do is switch the alfalfa pellets out for timothy pellets. Timothy is about 800 calories per pound, so it's not a whole lot less than alfalfa, but over time, every little bit helps. And if Lilly is indeed IR, timothy is the recommended hay. Plus it's very tasty.

    The only horse in our barn that gets any alfalfa is Reggie. At 19 going on 2, he's a bit of a hard keeper.

    I'm sending you a link from our hay company just 'cause I know you're interested in such things.

  2. " she's not getting a whole lot to eat...."

    While she's not gonna get charged for two plane tickets, she is a chunk. The vet isn't wrong with the advice to get that weight down. Dump the alfalfa. She's obviously got plenty of pasture to maintain that figure.

  3. My old girl I'm getting back is the very definition of air fern:) I found when she was younger though, that no alfalfa, limited pasture and lots of work (now that she's older, lots of turnout and walking) helps so much. More to love:)

  4. I have to say that the white on her is very slimming.

  5. Maybe if you get a black sleazy it will be less noticeable? I hear that black is slimming...