Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Foodstuffs

I am going to do my best here to incorporate both the beasts back into the blog, even though the horse I am/will be riding the most is Bacardi. Yankee will always be best pony and he is forever my heart horse and OG. 

Good news all around on the Yankee front;

1. He has returned to work
2. He is moving to The Palace (EME barn nicknamed by me)
3. He is getting fat
4. He has a leaser (more on this later)

Do I have to get up
How freaking adorable is he?? Woke up to the two ponies sleeping outside my window, so of course I dashed out to get pics thinking they would get up soon. I literally had to pry Yankee off the ground to come in for breakfast. SO adorable.

So the most earth shattering news is that Yankee got to go back to work. 

Technically, per vet discharge notes, it says nothing about "light lunging allowed" but my line of thinking s if he can be out in a pasture 8 hours a day where can gallop around (and DOES), he can be lunged ten minutes a day.

Showing off
The count down has commenced for flatwork though, and I literally can't wait. I haven't been on his back in over TWO years and he was so bored having been off and confined to small spaces since February. I plan to lightly lunge him every 3 days or so for about 10 minutes, just to get some movement back and try and get the small remaining swelling down from his incision site.

Otherwise, hoping to build a little muscle, since his topline is almost nonexistent despite recent weight gain. He was SO happy when I pulled out the bridle. Even with the "wrong" bit (he favors a fat french link, and I of course sold all my spare tack on ETT) he was working well and I was mildly impressed at how supple he seemed.

I even let him canter for a few rounds each way, and minus a small, light-hearted, exuberant bucking fit, he was so workmanlike and lovely, I almost cried. Seriously look at that uphill canter. I swear this isn't just a cherry picked screenshot, this is how he went around the entire time.

I almost forgot how easy and cool he is to work with after 2 years away from him. At 14, he's just so steady and really knows his jobs and loves it. As I mentioned previously, he was so incredibly bored standing around in a small paddock. Its almost like he was overjoyed to be back at work!

Here's a few more semi-boring gratuitous screenshots from lunging that I couldn't stop swooning over. I seriously stared at them for hours. Admiring my horse and all his wonderful, fat, relaxed glory.

I mean SERIOUSLY, he's so perfect.

The most uphill

The most active 
So really what I wanted to talk about here besides a super boring lunging sesh (I am anything but bored by it, since he was hanging on the brink of death a few months ago, but thats just me), is his DRASTIC weight change in just a few weeks.

Pictured below was 11 days post-op, right off the trailer at the boarding/recovery barn. I wish he was shaved so you could see his body condition a bit better, but I'm sure using your imagination isn't too difficult considering his hipbones are sticking out and he looks like he's 37 years old.

The second picture is approx 8 weeks post op (I think) and his caretaker at the boarding barn had him for 5 of those weeks and I had him for about 2. His caretaker/vet did an amazing job of weaning him back on to grain and carefully compiling a structured feed program to get him back on the eating game. A lot of it was forage at first, and still is.

The difference is astounding to me. There's a bit of winter coat in there, but he gained so much in-between those two pictures, it was crazy! He has only been making gainz since then as well and currently is a little nugget! I think he might almost be TOO fat now, with the biggest hay belly ever, but I'll take it.

Belly all tucked in from strutting
I've done a terrible job getting progress pics, and I wish I had done a weekly thing, but I didn't so, WHOMP WHOMP. Still pretty evident.

So what I wanted to do was share my "secrets". I say secrets because they aren't really secrets and I don't know everything about equine nutrition. In fact, I learned a lot along the way with his vet.

I used to think equine nutrition was just about fat and protein content and that was about it. High protein was good and high fat was good, for my OTTBs.

Then I learned stuff and things, and its not always about the "highest amount of protein and fat" wins the best grain award.

For Yankee, because of his ulcers and propensity to colic, as well as his severe malnutrition, I was advised to keep his starch as low as possible, as well as a high fiber content and low sugar.

WTF I had to compare starch, fiber and sugar content now too?

Unfortunately, not all feed labels their grain with starch content on the bag, so I took to google. I have always been big on SafeChoice grains when my boys were home, the "performance" kind., and his vets recommened the SafeChoice brand as well. There are better grains, but we have limited options here and getting fancy grains is almost impossible. I did my research though, and it was kind of cool to relearn that protein and fat aren't everything. Safe choice also has senior, complete, maintenance, & special care. Yankee was on special care in MO, but no store around me carries it or anything like it, so I ended up going with Safechoice Senior.

Nutrena SafeChoice Special Care
Crude Protein14.0%
Crude Fat7.0%
Crude Fibermax. 15.0%
ADFmax. 19.0%
NDFmax. 39.0%
Dietary Starch*max. 11.0%
Sugar*max. 4.0%

Nutrena SafeChoice Senior

Crude Protein14.0%
Crude Fat8.0%
Omega 62.50%
Omega 30.45%
Crude Fibermax. 16.0%
ADFmax. 19.0%
NDFmax. 34.0%
Dietary Starch*max. 14.0%
Sugar*max. 6.0%

Versus, what he USED to get, Nutrena SafeChoice Perform

Crude Protein14.0%
Crude Fat9.0%
Crude Fibermax. 15.0%
ADFmax. 14.0%
NDFmax. 32.0%
Dietary Starch*max. 20.0%
Sugar*max. 8.0%

Isn' that interesting? I found it interesting that the performance brand has a ton more starch that I originally thought it would have, compared to the other types, and the same amount of protein. 

Now, this was just one part of his feeding regime. The largest part, at 5lbs per feeding, but he needed a LOT more fat than what was in the grain. I had heard great things about Nutrena Empower Boost and luckily my feed store carried it.

The goodies;
Crude Protein12%
Crude Fat22%
Crude Fibermax. 8.0%
ADFmax. 8.0%
NDFmax. 15.0%
Dietary Starch*max. 22.0%
Sugar*max. 4.0%
Calcium1.5% - 2.0%
Copper25 ppm
Zinc75 ppm
Selenium0.6 ppm
Vitamin E500 IU/lb
Omega-3 Fatty Acids2.7%
Omega-6 Fatty Acids7.7%
Biotin1.5 mg/lb
All the things! Added benefits of Vit E and Selenium, since this area is deficient and I usually would buy in Smartpaks. I know the starch was high in this, so he only gets 1lb per feeding as a top dressing. This was approved by the vet and recommended as well. One bag lasted me about a month and it was relatively cheap too. 

One last thing I have been adding as another top dressing is 1/2lb of oats and 1lb of alfalfa pellets. Yankee GOBBLES up his "grain cocktail" and the results speak for themselves.

Additionally, he is getting an absolute fuck load of hay. Approximately half a bale in the AM, which is like 8 flakes or like 40lbs or some shit. He usually eats about 92% of it too. The key to success is the hay! Then, he's on night turnout. FORAGE.

To recap; each feeding:
5lbs SafeChoice 
1lb empower boost
1/2lb oats
1lb alfalfa pellets
A fuckload of hay
+smartpaks, ProBios, Biotin and MSM

Now obviously this is a "loading" dose and I doubt he will get this much grain once he's back in work unless he's really gettin his ass kicked. I was actually surprised at the sheer volume of grain that he has been eating, but it has all been approved by the vet and its working!

So dear readers, what I wan to know is kind of a two parter;
1. Do you spend a ton of time reading labels and making comparisons? Does you horse need a lot, or are they easy keepers?
2. if your horse is skinny, what do you use to fatten them up??
I'm so curious! Feed me your secrets!!


  1. HOLY CRAPOLA, Yankee looks AWESOME!! Seeing him on the lunge like that must make you feel really, really great!! Clearly, you're doing something right :) Congrats!

  2. I have a TB that is the hardest keeper without a metric butt ton* of hay. Bringing him him has revealed why - the kid does not eat. Like the others graze and he stairs at trees, the neighbors chickens, the other neighbors kids, the clouds, you know anything that is not food.

    If you really want to put good condition on I am convinced that there is nothing better than Pro-Add Ultimate and Envision Classic from Progressive Nutrition. It allows me to really cut his "grain" food down to 4 pounds a feeding, which is an amount he can actually finish. His grain is also a low starch/ sugar, high fiber and fat feed.

    * this is a very scientific measurement

    1. Like I said we have a minimum amount of grains available. Where do you even get that?

  3. I also like the safechoice grains and empower. Yankee is looking great!

  4. Yankee looks amazing!! I had Dino on the SafeChoice Special Care top dressed with oil for a long time, but then a couple years ago switched to KER Re-Leve - it's even lower NSC and higher fat. He also gets alfalfa when we are traveling or working hard to help his ulcer-prone self. Add to that hay or grass 24/7, and you have his perfect diet!

    1. Thanks you :)

      And you guys are all mentioning these grains I've never heard of. TO GOOGLE!

  5. I try to keep the NSC as reasonably low as possible and the fat as high as possible, while also looking for something that has everything I need so that I don't have to keep adding extra stuff to it. Exactly what feed that ends up being can depend on the horse. I also stay far away from anything that has "Grain By-Products" on the ingredients list.

  6. Yankee looks awesome! I have similar feed tag obsessions, and spreadsheets. Lots of spreadsheets. And I am that annoying person who calls/emails the company to get the NSC and calories per lb, and I keep asking until they provide that info to me. I am thrilled that I just moved my horses to a barn that feeds a great, higher calorie feed (it's not Purina Ultium @ 1900 calories/lb, but it's pretty darn good seeing as most farms around me feed ration balancer only, Purina Strategy or sweet feed) from Assurance as the regular barn feed. Before, I was at a barn where I provided my own grain because they only provided hay, and Purina worked out really, really well for me. Easy to find, and some of their new blends have the right idea for performance horses who need the high fat. This new Assurance Performance blend stuff intrigues me, since the brand is not one I've seen very much - it's 12% protein, 7% fat, 10% fiber, and they get farm-grown hay which is nice stuff. I have a hard keeper OTTB retiree and a young, in pretty heavy work TB with 1/4 warmblood breeding who is a much easier keeper. They eat the same amount of calories, despite the huge difference in workload. Safechoice is good stuff too - and it's so hard when you don't have a ton of variety available locally!

    1. SPREADSHEETS. I LOVE THEM. we could totally need out over them for hours.

  7. I do read labels extensively. Boca is a surprisingly hard keeper, despite being a Paint. NSCs are important to me, and I have been through 3 grains trying to find one that I feel is the right fit. I'm extremely happy with Blue Seal Sentinel™ Performance LS 12% protein, 12% fat, 20% fiber, NCS 16.
    He also gets as much free choice 2nd cut hay as he'll eat. This has finally gotten his weight were I want it to be.

    1. I need this grain. It's like the magical unicorn grain.

    2. It is! Blue Seal makes it, so you may be able to get it where you are.


    3. Says they carry it at the Rural King near me but I've NEVER seen it there. Time to do some snooping haha

  8. Magnus is SUPER sensitive to NSC levels from his Belgian side. At about 18% he starts to get stupid, and over 20% I have a literal unhandleable draft horse kite. But he's also a ridiculously hard keeper from his TB side. And he's picky. Feeding him is all of the fun I can assure you.

    I've literally tried everything. He LOVED the Sentinel, but my store stopped carrying it recently. :(

    1. I do sometimes miss my easy keeper "get fat on air" QH and mini ponies sometimes

  9. I compare labels too - and it can be hard to get good grain here too. Right now my guy gets 3/4 lb beet pulp and 3 lb Strategy Healthy Edge twice a day, plus 1 3/4 lb alfalfa pellets in the morning. He gets Cool Calories (fat), MSM, vitamin E (he tests as exposed to EPM, so vit E to keep it back, per the vet) salt, and Focus HF (miracle hoof supp!) supplements. And pasture 24/7 when it's not raining - when it is, he gets 15-20 lb of hay in his stall.

    Everybody loves the Feeding Thoroughbreds Game!

    1. Overnight. Not per day. 15-20 lbs of hay in his stall overnight. :)

  10. Oh my. I hate this game.I have been obsessing over it (thanks Bacon). I have also used Safechoice Perform for her, and SafeChoice Special Care for ol' Lucy Goose. And though Bacon has been fine on it, I just wanted to see if there was something more. I tried to get my feed store to carry Triple Crown, but that was a no-go. Over here, we have LMF made for the western states and they have bags dependent on your horse's hay fed. Either alfalfa or grass. I started her on the Showtime, which suggests "maximum condition, maximum calm". Not sure if they carry that out there, but I am interested to see how she does on it. She also gets corn oil, SmartGut Ultra, black oil sunflower seeds, and get started back on SmartGain as well as a trial on Equinety. Oh, and beet pulp!

  11. I have two horses with opposite metabolisms! And both of them are currently being competed in endurance, which is kind of unlike any other equestrian sport in terms of how it changes a horse's nutritional needs. I too am obsessive about grain labels. My biggest requirement is that a feed be fixed formula, which is why I like brands like Triple Crown, Legends and Tribute, which can all be hard to get depending on your region. I'm lucky Maryland offers such a HUGE variety of grain for horses!

    First, the easy keeper: Gracie, 10 yo Rocky Mountain Horse mare
    Off-season or during long lulls between competitions: 2 lbs Triple Crown Lite/day (fed as a ration balancer: 12% protein, 3% fat, 20% fiber, 9% NSC), free choice pasture or high quality grass hay grown on the farm where I board at.
    Competition season when she is in heavy training, averaging 20+ miles/week: 1.5 lbs Triple Crown Complete (12% protein, 12% fat, 15% fiber, 20% NSC) mixed with 1.5 lbs Triple Crown Low Starch (13% protein, 6% fat, 18% fiber, 13% NSC). During the course of a competition and for the week after, the TC Low Starch is subbed for the same amount of crimped oats. Endurance horses REQUIRE higher starch feeds so that they can replace glycogen stores. It also helps them cool down faster: high fat, high protein feed during competition tends to make them retain heat. It's quite fascinating. More info here: http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2016/02/12/feeding-endurance-horses-oil-and-fibre-carbo-connection/#axzz40322iHr6
    Forage: Free choice pasture or free choice timothy hay grown on the farm where the horses board at, depending on the season.
    Supplements year-round: magnesium, SmartFlex Senior, Actiflex 4000 (she has arthritis.) ~ 1 lb shredded alfalfa prior to trailer rides and before long conditioning rides/races to act as a buffer for stomach acid.

    And then, the hard keeper: Tiger Lily, 8 yo TB cross mare
    *The most picky eater, with a super fast metabolism, an ulcer-prone tummy, and a supreme hate for ALL FAT SUPPLEMENTS. Rice bran oil, rice bran pellets, ground flax, flax oil, vit E oil, Cocosoya, FatCat, vegetable oil, you name it, she hates them all. She will not eat them in her food. This has made feeding her especially challenging. When I first got her 5 years ago, I kept weight on her with ridiculous amounts of grass hay, alfalfa, a mix of huge volumes of beet pulp + Triple Crown Low Starch (when stalled, she could NOT eat high starch; it would make her hyper) and 2 cups/day of rice bran oil. She won't touch any of those things now. Feeding her is a constant work in progress as she decides she doesn't like x grain anymore. I've been known to drive 40 minutes one-way just to get her a different type of grain that she has decided she likes!
    Off-season: 6 lbs/day Legends CarbCare Performance (12% protein, 10% fat, 18% fiber, 15% NSC)
    Competition season: 6 lbs/day Triple Crown Complete. During competition and for a week afterwards, 1.5 lbs of the TC Complete is subbed for crimped oats.
    Supplements: SmartMare Harmony, magnesium. SmartGut during competition season. For weight gain during off-season while ramping up conditioning: ~ 2 lbs/day of Triple Crown 30% supplement (30% protein, 3% fat, 4% fiber, 9% NSC.) This horse for whatever reason responds better to high protein supps than she does to high fat. The problem is that it is rocket fuel for her: if she is not being worked consistently when using this supp, she turns into a kite. During competition season: 30% is d/c'd; I simply feed 2-5 lbs shredded alfalfa before long conditioning rides, before races, before long trailer rides, and often after long rides as well (I call it her "protein shake.")
    Forage: same as Gracie.

    Both horses live outside 24/7.

  12. I've never looked into feed as much as supplement labels. Like why can't my dumb OTTB look like that 14 y/o? Damn Yankee is gold

  13. Yankee looks amazing!! You can't even tell he had colic surgery from these pictures. I'm so happy he's healthy again. I'm excited to hear he'll be going to the barn and already has a new lease too. That will help you out so much.

    Regarding feed, I'm lucky mine gets fat on air. Most of the time all he's eating is hay and grass. When he needs some extra protein he gets a ration balancer (Empower Balance has NSC of 14%). I like ration balancers because they generally have a lot less carbs/sugar that regular feeds and I only have to feed one pound a day. The length of time it lasts make it worth the high price tag. If I needed to put weight on I would add a fat supplement to the ration balancer instead of switching to a different feed. :)