Monday, January 23, 2012

The Skinny Horse

My dogs all in all are great. I love them even with their quirks. However, my best animal buddy has over the years become Cody, my thoroughbred. 

The thoroughbred breed most known for their agile speed around the track is beautiful, intelligent and brave. They also have a reputation of developing nervous habits, like weaving, cribbing and my horse's favorite wind sucking. Beyond these habits being annoying they are also tough on their health. For a good people analogy think of chewing on your nails, or worse a drug habit.

In Cody's case he loses weight. The last six months he has been doing well. Being athletes thoroughbreds also have thin skin, which means their winter coats aren't quite as woolie as other breeds. However, with a little hesitation and a lot of advice from many sources I was told this winter to go without blanketing him. Let him grow a thick buffalo winter coat of his own, keep plenty of fresh water and excellent quality hay available and supplement with a good feed. I went with a high calorie food made by Purina called Strategy. I was happy to see that during a stable tour I got to see that even the great Cavalia horses get this feed!

Let me explain what this means... in the winter months I budget about $500 for horse food. Yep, is a lot of dried grass and processed fancy horse feed. Cody, gets about 3-4lbs of grain in addition to his 5-6 flakes of orchard grass and 4-flakes of alfalfa a day. I also had my vet out several times this winter. Each time she tells me he looks OK. I take that as "not fantastic, but not bad". 

The tough part is that maintaining his weight is always a bit of a emotional challenge. As everyone, I do mean everyone from the well meaning horse people and people who have never  brushed a horse let alone fed one throw concerning comments my direction. 
"He looks thin..." 
"Have you read this article on putting weight on your horse?"
"What kind of horse is that he has a weird build..." 
"Have you ever thought about getting rid of him and getting an easier keeper?"
and one lovely comment I seriously got this fall....
"Oh, you must not be feeding him a lot because you don't want a horse like that to get too hyper, thoroughbreds are crazy!"

It's stressful to say the least, and I will easily admit that I am not an expert in horse nutrition. Want to see the skinny horse? Here he is a few days ago in the snow:

It's frustrating and stressful as I worry about my horse, my competence as a horse owner and my ability to care for him to the level in which he deserves. In the perfect world I would own 30 or more acres, have a huge (wind sucking proof) barn for him. I would travel the lands to find and buy the best hay available that he could eat until he was the shape of a real buffalo. Until then, I just have to continue doing the best that I can with the guidance of my vet.

I have heard from a lot of my young Mom friends that the comments and experience with my horse is not unlike the comments and experience they get from other Moms and even non-Moms about their babies and children. Is the universe just preparing me for that? *Sigh*

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