So Zorro had a little episode which resulted in him being a bit footy a couple of weeks ago. Of course this happened the week before we were supposed to go camping with our driving group and have two big days of driving in the mountains. I was crushed.
Zorro had been going around, reaching under the hot wire and eating the new green grass that is coming up. He has done this every year since he has lived here without any side effects. But this year everything was just right for him to get sore footed. Of course the grass he was eating is the dreaded Crested Wheat Grass that I have talked about here. This same grass cost me both Chloe and Bonnie. I am not prepared to lose any more ponies to this grass so changes had to happen.
I made a smaller pen for Zorro, had 10 yards of sand brought in and bedded his pen down with 2-3″ of sand. This helped him immediately. Of course it didn’t take all 10 yards to do that so we fenced off another area, scraped the grass up with the Bobcat and then spread the sand around for Sky and Mikey.
I set up two feed areas that have a t-post driven through a rubber mat. Then I tie their hay bag to the post and they can eat in a sand free area. We didn’t put the sand on every square foot of the area, so I put their hay in two spots that don’t have sand. Then I sweep the mats off every time I feed.
Sky has been packing on the pounds without the track. No track means little exercise. Clearly she needs to go out and work a bit so that will start this week. She looks like she may foal any day. I won’t be posting pictures of her close up for awhile!
Mikey is actually calmer and happier in the smaller area. Clearly he prefers less area to the openness of the track system. This is hard to juggle. His mental health for his physical health. I would prefer they live on a track so we are going to try something a bit different.
We took all the fences down, except for the pen they are currently in, and will re-design the track to be a little smaller and much more secure. In interior of the track will also be fenced with a field type fence, maybe cattle panels if I have enough of them to do the inside and the outside. Then we will top that with one or two strands of hot wire.
We will clear the inside of the track of as much grass as we can by scraping it with the Bobcat, as well as scraping the track. My Hubby called the home owner and talked to him about this and he is fine with it. Thank goodness! We were going to put the health of my ponies before the ground anyway and haul in material when we leave if necessary, but I am relieved that he doesn’t mind us setting this all up!
That means I can bring in more material for the track as well. Some more sand, some pea gravel… This is going to take some time and some money so I don’t think it will be done this year. We also have to build a new hay shed because I constantly lose too much hay every single year using the tarps. So the shed will come before the track. But at least we have a plan! And the horses are safe in the area they are set up in right now. There isn’t any grass in that pen and is small enough that I can stay on top of it. Plus it’s starting to warm up which will help kill the grass as well. Phew!
Is this my dream set up? Not at all. But this is one of those times when it’s important to stay flexible. This is what’s best for their health right now so this is what I will do.
They are getting a measured amount of low sugar/low starch hay while locked up. 2 flakes in their hay nets in the morning and 1 flake in the evening.
They get 1/2 a pound of alfalfa pellets topped with 2 ounces of Soybean Meal twice a day right now. They have access to salt 24/7 and of course fresh water. The boys are looking wonderful on this feed plan. I’ll stick with this for the next year and see how they do. Then I may be able to stop feeding the Soybean meal!
This is where I put their feed together in the garage. I went from 3 different garbage cans full of feed and three drawers of supplements (they didn’t get all those at the same time, it was what I had amassed over the last few years trying to find the perfect feed program!) to this:
So things have majorly simplified as far as the ponies go for right now. It’s not ideal but it is what it is!