Yesterday was the big day for fall checkups and body condition scores at the barn. Harley received a glowing report. His lungs and gut sounded great, with the former quiet and the latter noisy. He took his fall shots like a champ and was, in general, a very well-behaved pony. The vet felt some fat desposits on his ribs and rump. She nodded approvingly at his streamlined, but definitely present, crest and neck muscle and mentioned that his back is more built up. She knows that these things do not come easily with Harley.
|"Necks pictured may look bigger than they actually are", but at least you can see that there is a dressage-horse crest there!|
And then it was time for his "grade":
|Body condition score of 5+ out of 10: This is a BIG deal for Harley!|
No feed changes for Harley are required at the moment. Since he can lose weight very quickly, being a "plus" before the winter is great. He has been eating his meals consistently and with vigor. I think that he may have gained a little since I last wrote about my concerns regarding his weight. There has also been a concerted effort to bring him in at the very beginning of meal time so that he can finish his feed before his buddy starts on the hay. I think this is making a significant difference. I have many of your suggestions written down if I should need them at a later date. I am very grateful for the feedback and advice that was shared so generously in your comments. I have a list of products available at our feed store now, which includes chopped hay and Blue Seal Haystretcher pellets. I think that either of those might work well if I want to add some more forage to his diet this winter.
I have decided to keep the alfalfa hay cubes that I purchased. I am feeding them as a ride-day snack. Harley loves them! I break them into pieces with my fingers, so that he is eating small flakes of each cube rather than a whole chunk. The barn owners knew a horse who nearly choked on hay cubes, so I have been forewarned that feeding them whole and dry is not advisable. My vet said that this is fine to give him and is in line with her recommendation for multiple feedings. My reasoning is that getting some extra food on the days he works will help him maintain the status quo weight-wise. It's kind of like a horse "power bar". I bought a container for the cubes and keep them in the hay barn. I consider it my own hay that I can give Harley whenever I want. That is very liberating. When we have some really cold days this winter, I could even bring some warm water from home and soak some cubes before a ride, so that he can enjoy them afterward.
Also, Harley's blanket has been cleaned and repaired for the upcoming winter. It looks like new. We are ready!