Saturday, October 13, 2012

Health Report: Harley Makes the Grade

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!


  1. Delighted to hear Harley is keeping his condition. Long may it last!

  2. Winter...bring it on! Harley is definitely ready. Congratulations on his making the grade. Sounds like all you're doing is working.

    Hay cubes are a good idea. All of our horses love them except for Dusty. She refuses to eat them. The last time they were put in her feed bucket as a treat she backed up to it and well she just manured all over it. Always the critic.

    1. *laughing*
      Dusty! She will not be outdone. ;)

  3. I am happy to hear that Harley is doing well. :0)

    About the hay cubes - MANY, MANY horses in California are fed hay cubes. In fact, many of the large barns feed them as they are more convenient to feed and have less waste. My own BO feeds them to her horse and now Speedy gets them once a day, too. We never soak them. The only time they are soaked is for senior horses, or guys like Harley who have a hard time chewing them. For horses who gobble their feed, choke can be a concern, but most handle them just fine as is. I wonder if this soak or not to soak issue is a regional concern?

    I think doling them out as treats is a fine idea and certainly allows you to get your money's worth out of the bag. Are your cubes straight alfalfa, or are they an oat/alfalfa blend? My BO is using the blended version for her senior guy who is having some issues with his kidneys. (Alfalfa requires a lot of water to digest and process which is hard on the kidneys.) Speedy is getting them in hopes that he'll quit wasting so much hay!

    But again, way to go, Harley!


    1. Okay cool. I did give him some whole cubes dry. He eats pretty slowly, so I was not that worried about him choking, but the barn owners know a horse who did choke. I do not know if it is a regional thing, but I have heard conflicting advice about soaking beet pulp, too, so I guess it's possible.

      The feedstore only carries 100% alfalfa. I could look around for a mix, which is what I would prefer. I hope that Speedy likes his cubes, too!

  4. He looks great! I've been giving my girls an after ride snack. Maybe I should buy some hay cubes or alfamo for that...

  5. I give Winston a flake of alfalfa on the days that he is worked. I like your analogy of a power bar. That is how I view it as well.

  6. Hooray for Harley!

    I feed hay cubes or pellets to my old guy during the winter because they're easier for him to digest than flake hay. I wet them down, but don't get all crazy about soaking them through. I've known horses who choked on sweet feed and pelleted complete feed. I think some horses may just be predisposed to it.

    Tractor Supply sells hay cubes and pellets in alfalfa/grass mixes, as well as straight grass.


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