What in the world are you supposed to feed a horse? Seems like such a simple thing. I have spent so many years searching for the most natural pasture life 24/7 for our horses. I believe that is the happiest lifestyle for a horse. So, we have our guys boarded on about 30 acres of pasture, outside 24/7 with shelters, in a herd of about 12. The grass is not formally fertilized, though they do spread manure and shavings from the stalls onto the grass. (There are some stalled horses at this facility too.) I don’t know exactly what the grass is, but most of it is cold weather hardy, so it’s probably pretty sweet. There is some clover and weeds mixed in too. The first year we were here, everything was great. Princess (Morgan/Saddlebred) and Belle (Arabian) were fat going into winter, but then slimmed down by spring. Major (our draft horse) was fine weight wise.
This year however, Princess started to slow down like something was hurting her. We thought it was her back at first, but discovered she had laminitis. We discovered this in the month of Oct., when she really started hurting, but she’d been suffering from it since May, the vet said, as there were rings on her hoof walls showing that timeline. We took x-rays and discovered her coffin bone had rotated about 4 degrees. I was devastated because we had to take her instantly off grass and put her in a stall. How were we going to manage this? She is a pasture horse and there are really no dirt paddocks where we board except one tiny one. All of my research, all of my effort to get my horses out in the most natural life I could – gone. At least for Princess.
We have a pretty natural vet and she gave us two Chinese herbs – Hot Hoof and Happy Liver which we give her a scoop of each twice a day. I also love Dr Dan Natural Vet (website) and his products. He has a laminitis formula which we bought and give her too. After about a week on the dirt paddock, she started out with a taped up grazing muzzle in a grass paddock. She hated it though because she wanted to be out with her herd mates. So, now it’s been about a month and she’s out there in the day with them, with the muzzle (untaped now). And she seems pain free.
I have read endlessly about laminitis. Most everyone says they must stay off grass, but I still have a hard time with that. She’s a horse and horses are supposed to graze. And I want her to be happy. In the end I went back to Dr. Dan who feels that if you give horses the vitamins and minerals and good oil they need, they will stay healthy, even on pasture. I want to believe this. So we are feeding Dr. Dan’s Just Add Oats, and his Laminitis formula (short term) and 1/4 cup Weight Check (Omega 3) Oil, the two Chinese Herbs, a scoop of Chaseberry Tree Oil which is supposed to be good for Insulin Resistant horses which we suspect is her, as her mother has that. We also just bought Easy Balance from Dynamite Speciality Equine feed and are giving her a scoop of that (also for IR horses). Plus hay. We also give all our horses Red Cal loose salt and minerals in a bucket out in the field for them when they need it. Princess has a bucket in her stall now. Right now she still wears the muzzle during the day, on grass and comes in at night to a stall for hay. She is doing very well and seems pain free. But come November we are going to try to take the muzzle off. So we shall see?