When I start worrying about Harley's weight, I go into "action mode". This sounds like a good thing, but in some ways it is not. I tend to get a little impulsive.
Yesterday, I went out and bought a bag of hay cubes. Our feed store only offers alfalfa cubes. I have to admit that this is not my first choice. I would prefer a timothy or timothy/alfalfa mix, but I bought it anyway. I brought it to barn and did some taste testing with Harley. He likes the taste of the cubes and eats them when I offer them by hand. I decided to put about fifteen cubes in with his dinner last night. I had read that some people feed them dry, so I decided to try that.
Harley ate all of his grain first, which was what I expected and then started eating the cubes. The cubes were so difficult for him to eat, that he had to hold them against the sides of feed trough and bite them into pieces. It takes him about three minutes to eat one cube. I realized right then that the cubes are not going to work. The barn owner even called this morning and told me that the cubes should be soaked. There are several reasons why I do not want to go the soaking route.
To make matters worse, by the time I brought Harley to the paddock, it looked like there was only one flake left to split between the two horses. As he was trying to finish his cubes, his paddock buddy was eating both their rations of hay. I put out more hay and moved the cubes to a wheel barrow in the hay shed. Looks like the local horse rescue will be receiving some donated hay cubes. Last winter I sent them leftover alfalfa pellets. Oh well.
This morning I have been reading about Blue Seal Sentinel Performance LS, flaxseed, and Cocosoya oil. I calculated the quantity and concentration of selenium that Harley is getting in his diet, which is well within the safe range. I think the selenium calculation warrants a separate post if I can find the time this week.
There are some things about each option that look really, really good. There are also some things that seem to overlap what I am already feeding him or create new management challenges that may not fit into my boarding situation or feed availability. For example, Ultium is also an extruded nugget, like Performance LS, and they have similar protein/fat/fiber percentages. The dentist tells me that although his molars have good occlusion and grinding surfaces, he just can't hold his mouth closed due to the overbite. This causes him to drop food, which he has to pick up again. And oil would be an effective way (if he can lick it up) to get more calories and Omega-3's into his system, but I am pretty sure that will get it all over his stall, again because he drops food. And then there is the whole flaxseed (linseed) vs. freshly-ground/boiled/ground-stabilized flaxseed (linseed) debate. It is so difficult to find consistent information online. My head sort of feels like it is floating above my neck at the moment, so I am going to employ a mental "half halt".
I am going to wait for my vet's body condition evaluation before I make any changes. I have some extra things in my back pocket, thanks largely to the feedback which I received here. I really do appreciate your comments, advice, and commiseration. I must consider that fact that this may really be as good as it gets for Harley, weight-wise. There are a couple overweight, easy-keeping horses on the farm and the owner has the challenge of meeting their nutritional requirements and reducing their weight at the same time. Ironically , that might be even "harder" that what I am trying to accomplish with my horse. It is just so difficult to shake that "I could be doing more" feeling and not wanting to be seen as a neglectful, uneducated, complacent, or blind horse owner.
I am really trying not to beat myself up about it. I know deep down that I am not an ignorant owner, but my confidence takes a hit every time someone sees Harley and says,
"He's loosing again. Isn't he?"
I am sure there are plenty of horse owners who would see him and think, "I could do better than that."
|Harley is a cute leaf, just the same.|