Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Portly, Rotund, Fat, etc...

Not only was I gone for over 3 weeks in September and October, but I wasn't really participating in the world of Lilly for quite a while even before that. If you have ever planned a wedding, you know just how busy those last few weeks are before the wedding date. I think September 11th was the last time I took Lilly for a ride, and even then, along with the last few rides before that, those rides were just to play around a bit and get her out. Serious, consistent rides for us were done in early July, so needless to say, my horse hasn't received very much exercise these last few months.

When I went to see Lilly for the first time since being back from the honeymoon, I thought she looked humongous. Where did all that weight come from? Did she put it all on while I was gone, or did it happen slowly over the course of a few months when I was too busy to exercise her? In any case, she's quite plump. I'm hoping all this house drama will be over this week and things can go back to "normal" next week and I can start regularly visiting the barn again. I had planned to start her slowly back into work and hopefully work off some of those pounds.

This year for vaccinations, I did what I've decided is the best course of action for Lilly... one shot at a time. The reaction she had to the rabies vaccine has me worried for her, so my vet is under strict orders to give one shot per visit, and put us on the schedule for another visit a few days later. When she gave Lilly her E/W and West Nile, it was dark outside. When I inquired about when she was going to give the Flu/Rhino shot, she said she'd stop over this morning.

I got a text from her this morning at 9am that said, "Lilly needs to lose some weight. What is she getting for grain?"

I replied, "The sad thing is, she's not getting any grain. She gets a vitamin supplement, an ulcer supplement, and a handful of Ultium to make it palatable. No beet pulp either like the rest of the farm."

She replied, "YIKES! Call me so we can discuss!"

So I called her and we discussed how fat my pony is. She's getting 4 flakes of hay, a handful of Ultium, and is on a pasture with brown "grass". That's all she gets to eat and she's the size of a house. My vet thinks she looks preggers and has informed me that she's at a weight that could be detrimental to her health. What do you do for a fat horse that hardly gets any food? We discussed locking her in the stall and putting a muzzle on her, but it's too late in the year for that to do any good. It's probably what I'll have to do next spring, though, and she told me to start mentally preparing myself for the muzzle now.

She wants me to load her up and haul her to the clinic so we can put her on the scale and weigh her. I have a weight tape, but how accurate are those things really? The guy at the feed store swears by them, but you really have to do it the exact same way every time. So as much as I don't want to haul her 30 minutes for a scale, I'm going to start planning that now.

I double checked with my BO to make sure a handful of Ultium hadn't turned into 2 pounds of feed like it did last time this happened. He swore he was only giving her a handful once a day and he wasn't giving her beet pulp per my request. He asked if I wanted him to cut back on the hay, but she needs to eat something. My vet suggested soaking the hay to get rid of some of the sugars, but I can guarantee the BO will not go for that. So I might need to look around for some "crappy" hay since the barn's hay is really nice.

My good camera is locked up in my brand new house, so these are all iPhone pics and they aren't very good. The white hides quite a bit of detail, so you might not even be able to tell anything from these pictures, but does she look like she's part Holstein?

And look, someone gave her hay!
Moo!
No babies in here!
"Why do you keep saying I'm fat?"
My vet wants her off the handful of Ultium and off the vitamin supplement. (Great news since my new SmartPak just shipped!) I ran out today and bought a bag of Enrich 32, so she's going to have 1/2 pound of that for breakfast, and a 1/2 pound for dinner. I'll leave her on the ulcer supplement. She has six weeks to slim down on her new "diet" and if she still weighs the same then, we'll test her for insulin resistance.

I'm still doing my research on what that diagnosis would mean, but it doesn't sound like very much fun.

28 comments:

  1. Why not cut back her hay? Get a hay net so she can't eat it all at once and cut her back to one flake in the morning and one in the evening. My fiance's horse is an easy keeper and only gets 2 flakes a day and 1lb of ration balancer. She's ridden 6-7 days a week and stays fit on only that small bit of food. Some horses just need less.

    Not my blog, but a good guide on making hay nets for pasture/paddock/boarding situations: http://trails-and-trials-with-major.blogspot.com/2012/08/slow-feeder-round-2.html

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    1. I will ask my vet about cutting her back to two flakes. That seems like such a small amount of food, but clearly she's getting too much now. Great link too! Thank you for the suggestion!

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  2. Well.. Lilly does make a super cute cow, bless her heart.

    Is she turned out with others or alone? I got Val a Nibblenet, small hole version. It has really helped on hay waste and his tendency to pig out, while keeping something in front of him to eat at all times. A bonus is the way he has to yank the hay out mimics grazing...

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    1. She does, doesn't she? :)

      I actually have a small hole hay net that I used for most of the spring and summer. She's out alone, so I can definitely make adjustments in that regard... the problem is getting the BO to do the things I request. They HATED the hay net, which I can uderstand because it's a bit of a pain having to fill it every day. Maybe with vet's orders it'll seem less like I'm just being a demanding boarder? Looking at the Nibblenet, though, it might be less of a pain.

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  3. I'd suggest cutting down to 3 or even 2.5 flakes of hay in a hay net. Lasts long, and she doesn't need 4 flakes.

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    1. That might work too... maybe 1 in the morning and 2 at night when it's colder. I'll check with my vet about cutting back the hay.

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  4. So much ditto! My girl is getting a little portly as well since being on 24/7 turnout, even though her paddock has been eaten down to nothing. Just like Lilly, she is also getting a handful of Ultium + vitamins with 4 flakes of hay. I'm also curious about using some sort of slow feeder with less hay. On the bright side, the extra poundage has made her ultra comfy to ride bareback...

    I'd love to hear how the weight tape and scale compare. Ken McNabb did a test on one episode where he had a group of riders first guess the weight of a horse, then use a weight tape, then put the horse on a scale. Pretty diverse numbers!

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    1. Wow! How bizarre that our horses eat the exact same thing! Lilly was on the slow feeder in the spring and summer and it helped, but she still managed to finish it pretty quickly.

      I'll do the weight tape on Lilly before I haul her in to the vet's office and see how closely the two numbers are together. I'm guessing they'll be quite different!

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  5. I sure hope she isn't IR. I second/third the slow feeder idea, it makes less hay last a lot longer and if it keeps her belly full that might keep her from trying to gorge herself.

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    1. Oh, speaking of the hay net- I got one of those plastic hay net helper things (it looks like one of those cheap sleds that were popular when I was a kid) and that makes filling the bags a snap. Highly recommend.

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    2. I think I've seen those helper things online! I didn't know if it would fit in my hay net or not, but if I ask the BO to go back to the net, he might demand something like that. I'm glad to hear you've used them and they work well.

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  6. She's still adorable, extra padding and all. The helpers smazourek mentioned are available from sstack.com. They look nice and I now wish my BO would have gotten one at Congress since we've got 3 horses on stall rest using nets.

    Scales are by far the best, but they're a luxury for sure. Weight tapes are based on an assumption that the girth of the horse is completely proportional to the rest of the horse. How many horses are? Junior's girth is humongous but every other part of him is smaller that average.

    The third method is this: http://www.thehorse.com/tools/horse-weight-calculator which uses girth and length. Still based on a formula.

    I think you can put "Can you please give my horse poorer quality hay?" on the list of things horse owners NEVER say to BO's. LOL!

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    1. Good point about the girth size... that's another reason I'm not real keen on the weight tape. I guess it's accurate to a point as long as you use it the same way every time. If she weighs in at 1,000 lbs and I weigh her again the same way in 4 weeks and it shows her at 950 lbs, she might not really be 950 lbs but at least I'll know she lost weight?

      The barn won't buy crappy hay either, so that won't really work out all that well for me. :)

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  7. Oh goodness Lilly. Just a tad chunky! But I have always liked mine a little more on the heavy side!
    I have thought about getting one of those slow feeder nets for my Paint that's on stall rest. I had added a lunch feeding for her but felt she was just getting too much hay for being in a stall 24/7. Obviously I worry about her getting bored on stall rest and the slow feed hay net would work great to help occupy her.
    I also would recommend cutting back Lilly's hay especially if your barn feeds really good quality hay! Hopefully your BO will understand and go back to using the hay net!!

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    1. I agree that being a little chunky is definitely better than being to skinny. It's really hard to manage weight when they're on stall rest, though, so I feel your pain. They have nothing else to do, but you don't want them getting really fat!

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  8. She is a little chunky, but not overly so. Good thing you are at a facility where they provide such diligent care and let you know what little miss thang looked like! Wedding planning is definitely a time suck.
    Can you imagine what she'd look like knocked up? A yoga ball. A cute, paint, yoga ball. :P

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    1. Oh boy! I shudder at the thought of her in foal! LOL

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  9. You can send the barn's hay out to a lab to be tested for sugar content. It could be as simple as that the hay they are feeding is very high in starches, which is causing her to gain a ton of weight. Feeding crappier hay isn't necessarily the answer, but feeding low-starch is. I have a friend who has struggled a lot with her pally paint mare (who suffers from sugar sensitivity) and I can put you in touch with her if you want to learn more about managing your horse's diet. She's super awesome!

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    1. The problem with having the hay tested is they get different hay so often. The barn I used to board with grew their own hay, so that made it quite easy to know exactly what was in it.

      Must be that Palomino Paint mares are just born to be fat? LOL Thanks, I'll definitely be in touch if this isn't under control soon!

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  10. She is a little chunky, but it doesn't seem as though she has a big crest of fat on her neck, so in my humble opinion she isn't too out of control yet. Of course I am not a vet, and my paint is also overweight so to me it looks almost normal. Also I agree with what Paint Girl said...I like my horses a little bit heavier too, and in winter mine need a little extra warmth.
    Here is what I learned with Trax(aka: Beefcake), the difference is the exercise. He has gotten 0 days of exercise in 2 months, because I've been so busy on my barn. His food really had not changed until recently, but now I have started cutting him back. But I would be willing to bet that once she starts getting some exercise again, she will trim back down to a healthy weight quickly.
    I agree with what some others said about cutting her hay back. If you aren't prepared to cut her back to two, then make it three to start with and see how she does. (oh look, someone already said that- sorry)
    The main thing to remember here is that now you are home, and you, being the wonderful equine mom that you are, will watch her weight carefully and get her back to a healthy index in a healthy manner.
    Lucky for Lilly she has you to save her from herself! LOL

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    1. Thank you, Cindy!! Lilly definitely needs exercise and I agree with you that it's probably the key component here. Now that things have calmed down and I have time for the barn, I'm hoping I see a difference in her weight. I really don't want to cut back on her hay, especially with winter coming.

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  11. I don't like the idea of locking her in the barn... horses need to move, and I'm sure you know that. A muzzle could work, but I can't imagine there is much grass out there. There are a ton of "slow feeders' you can buy ... from nets to "boxes". A little plump going in to the winter is good, but exercise is probably just "key" in her case.

    Good luck! Keep us informed as what you do. My pony hasn't gotten fat yet, but I can imagine he easily could. (His winter coat adds like four inches to his girth :)

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    1. Stalling her is definitely not a good option, and I hate the idea of her wearing a muzzle... even in the spring. I think I'd rather her be in the stall than muzzled.

      Wow, that's a thick winter coat!! Lilly just grows goat hairs. LOL

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  12. Life just isn't fair for us easy keepers, Lilly.

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  13. Well welcome back kiddo!! The wedding photos are beautiful. :-)

    Now about Lilly...Hahahaha...Girrllll....Your vet is a bit of a nervous nelly. ;-) Plumping up over the course of a couple months off is not uncommon...and should not be particularly detrimental unless you are dealing with a horse that has severe arthritis issues or sustained some sort of injury where excess weight would promote a break-down. If Lilly is really that chunky, I would go with the idea of cutting her back to 1 flake in the a.m. and 2 flakes at night to start with. I'm not sure how much grass is left in the pasture, but just because grass turns brown for the winter does not mean it doesn't have fiber content and caloric value. Lilly is probably getting quite a bit of 'help' with her weight gain from the pasture grass. Personally, I'd leave her out on the pasture and just cut back on her hay a little at a time. I also would not be worried about IR at this time...nor would I waste money on getting her tested. I have some horses with metabolic issues-varying from simple IR tendencies to a full blown IR case...it's really NOT that big of a deal. Resolving it revolves mostly around regular exercise, some thought put into feed/grazing schedules and the addition of a high magnesium with chromium and salt supplement. Actually after figuring out the whole IR thing, I put all of my horses on the supplement I use, during the competitive year, even the ones who did not present with metabolic problems and was impressed with their improvement in condition and stamina. For the first time ever, Moon got stronger and stronger throughout the season instead of feeling like he was getting weaker and worn down by his heavy schedule.

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    1. Thank you!! :)

      Her pasture is pretty worthless... I was looking at it closer today and it's brown, bare, and pretty much eaten down to the nub. If she is getting any grass, it's not much.

      Lilly definitely needs more exercise, and I'll look into that supplement you mentioned too. I'm trying not to worry too much about the IR issue, but I don't want to completely discount it either. I figure I can make some changes and see how things go before I spend the money on having her tested.

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  14. Must be a Paint thang. Cash is starting to look like a Holsteiner cow, but he's getting lots of Senior and all the hay he can eat. Shockingly, I may have to cut him back a bit. Gasp!

    Fortunately his spots are black, and black is more slimming, so his cow tendencies aren't as obvious.

    Moo.

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