Rose scoffing feed post clip and bath.
The property where I graze Rose has four large paddocks, one small paddock, and access to a middle-sized portion of the neighbours’ land fenced off by their drive. They have one other mare about Rose’s size (Rose is just over 15.3hh), two cows, and a small flock of sheep. Before Rose came along a number of months ago, her new paddock mate had grazed with a small pony. They cut their own hay, and had sold of quite a bit of it, as I understand, as the two horses and two cows didn’t eat too much. Rose, however, eats a lot of hay! When living on my parent’s property, which is just over 5 acres including the house, drive, 2 garages, lawn and garden, 4-stall stable and yards, large sand arena (20×60? I think?), bedding pit, and about 2.5 acres of native bush, horses are stabled by night and turned out by day as there just isn’t enough grass for three (Rose’s eldest two children Delphi and Comet live at home). So they are fed a lot of hay! So much, in fact, that the contractor we often buy it from has expressed his doubt that we can use that much, and worrys that we are reselling it!
Anyway, over the winter, the grass got pretty low (I don’t think they’d fully anticipated how much 2 full-sized horses eat, compared with a horse and pony, especially when one of the horses is quite the piglet!) and they ran out of hay. I tried to get out there are often as possible to hard feed Rose, but in the terrible winter weather, having only a scooter to ride on, it wasn’t quite as often as it ideally would have been. As a result, Rose started to lose weight and got a bit ribby and a bit bony. My family firmly believes in keeping horses nice and plump and round (we don’t like to be able to feel ribs without having to push all the fat aside :P) and Rose, when in prime condition, is typically very ‘solid’ as judges have sometimes put it (I usually just say she’s fat…). At the time I was feeding her Mitavite Gumnuts and lucerne chaff, with some soaked copra meal along with her supplements (tonnes of garlic powder the boost her immune system, salt, vitamin powder, magnesium powder, chaste tree berry extract for her Cushings, apple cider vinegar which is supposed to be good for Cushings too though I’m not 100% on why, and selenium once a week).
Since she is barefoot, my mom and I moved her to the neighbours’ paddock which is too boggy for her paddock mate’s shod feet, and I started feeding her giant feeds as I could now leave it sitting in the paddock with her and she could take her sweet time chowing down.
Then, I took my parents to the airport and sent them on their way to Kentucky to see the World Equestrian Games, and then on to Canada to visit their families, and I had the use of the car. The first thing I did, after a bit of online research, was drive out to the feed store and have a good look around. In the end what I bought was:
–Fibre Fresh ‘Fibre Ezy’ which is a chaffage with alfalfa and rye and contains 1% or less sugar. Sugar content in feed is important for Cushings horses and so I wanted to keep it as low as possible. Also, the lusher grass in the new paddock hadn’t been agreeing with her entirely, if you know what I mean, so I wanted to get a whole bunch more fibre in there. Also again, alfalfa (and lucerne) are considered to be the grasses with the highest energy content which was in line with me wanting to fatten her up.
— More Mitavite ‘Gumnuts’ which are an extruded feed (good for old lady tummies that can’t digest grain) containing mainly barley (good for putting on weight) but with added protexin (probiotics which I have to add to Rose’s feed anyway before each worming to prevent her from colicking… She has a rather tender tummy).
— Nutririce ‘Veteran’ which is an extruded feed made from rice and rice bran. Rice, though not something I would have imagined that I would ever feed my horse, is supposed to be the easiest grain for them to digest and Nutririce is supposed to be very good for horses with stomach ulcers, or those prone to developing them. With Rose’s history of her mystery colic disease, the fact that Cushings makes horses far more prone to developing ulcers, and also that within the last 6-8 months or so she had had a mouth ulcer, I thought this would be a good way to go.
— Copra meal. Because it smells amazing, it’s full of oil to make her nice and fat, she loves the taste, and when I pour the soaked sloppy mess on top of everything else, it starts to soften all the extruded pellets while I add her supplements.
I had intended to buy corn oil also and add that to her feed with her supplements, but I couldn’t find any. And then, amazingly, this new diet worked SO WELL that I felt I didn’t need it anyway. However, now that her weight gain has slowed off a touch, I’m thinking I might get some in the next week or so, just to step it back up a bit.
How I mixed her feed was: a few big handfuls of her leftover lucerne chaff, twice that or a bit more of Fibre Ezy, a feed scoop each of Gumnuts and Nutririce, and a margarine container full of copra, soaked overnight. To that I added a heaped ‘scoop’ (probably about a tb or tb and 1/2) of garlic, a scoop of vitamins, half a scoop of magnesium, a tb of salt, about 60-80ml of apple cider vinegar (she hates the taste so I don’t use heaps), 20 ml of Bomac’s Cushy Life chaste tree berry extract (which smells BIZARRE and AMAZING), and then every Friday I add 2ml of selenium.
The results, I have to say, blew me away. Within 1-2 weeks she looked stunning! Though her topline and hindend still need a bit more padding, there are no ribs to be seen, her neck has filled out to the point of almost looking cresty, the hollows to either side of her withers, which have always been a pain to plump up, are looking plump! It makes me so happy to go out there now, especially now that I have given her a full-body clip and snuggled her into her brand new (super ugly) Snowbee ‘B-tween’ rug, and see her galavanting around like a foolish child, frolicking naked in the sun (when it’s sunny enough to leave her coverless), and scoffing down her feed with gusto! And looking soooo GOOD!
Even with her yucky Cushings coat, Rose now has dapples!
If anyone reading this has any suggestions on how you feed your own Cushing’s horse, or older horse, I would be so keen to hear them!