My Feed Program

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I am constantly asked what and how I feed my ponies. I do write about it often, but I haven’t shared all the ponies feed program for awhile so thought I would today!

Everyone has hay 24/7. Bonnie has the hay that I had tested so I can manage her sugars. I only had about 10 bales of the other hay, a grass/alfalfa mix so I didn’t pay to have it tested. I feed that hay to Captain Planet, Zorro and Sky.

I fill Sky’s net twice a day. She gets one flake in the morning and one flake in the evening. Somehow she makes that one flake last all day and all night! She goes out on grass for about an hour and half in the mornings. I slowly worked her up to that over several weeks, starting with 15 minutes graze time. When I started letting the ponies out on the grass I also started feeding them all about 1 teaspoon of magnesium on top of their Crypto Aero. Sky has also been getting half a scoop of the Crypto Aero Plus. She gets 1/4 cup of Crypto Aero, half a scoop (about 1 teaspoon) of the Crypto Aero Plus, and 1 teaspoon of magnesium powder. I top this with a half a scoop of California Trace to help balance the iron.

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Sky’s little one or two flake hay net.

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This is her dry lot. She wanders around foraging all day long.

Bonnie has her hay net and it’s filled with the hay I had tested. I fill her net once a day, sometimes once every two days depending on how fast she finishes it. She’s a slow eater. When I turn all the other ponies out to graze I give her one flake of loose hay to munch on. She is so great. She doesn’t worry at all when everyone is out grazing. This makes managing her so much easier! I give her 1/4 cup of Crypto Aero, 1 teaspoon of magnesium powder, and one scoop of California Trace to help with the iron in the hay. She finished her Milk Thistle and hasn’t tested for more. I am going to get her the Sunny’s Cushing’s Support Kit from Earth Song Ranch, but have to save up for it. Once I start her on that kit I won’t give her magnesium powder anymore!

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The boys love to hang out in the shed. They have half and Bonnie has the other half. At this time Sky doesn’t have access to the shed. It makes me so sad, but she has managed just fine. I’ll be putting something up for her this summer unless Bonnie can be out on the dry lot track with everyone. Then they will all be able to use the shed without the divider.

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The boys have two nets. I tied them to t-posts because they love to throw them around and constantly lose them out in the field or Bonnie gets a hold of them, which is a big no no right now with her laminitis.

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The boys feed station.

Zorro loves to stand on the nets….

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Captain obligingly ate from the net for this photo. LOL! I think it’s funny because he is clearly saying, “Do you want me to do this?” Captain gets 1/4 cup of Crypto Aero with one scoop of Remission powder (I had some left over from Bonnie so thought he could use it. He has a big neck and is built for founder, though he never has! I hope to keep it that way…) and 1 teaspoon of magnesium powder. Zorro gets 1/2 a cup of Crypto Aero, a half of scoop of California Trace and 1 teaspoon of magnesium!

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I have a field that is about 7 acres on the property that we rent…

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And north of this property we own 10 acres that I haven’t used for grazing for some time. We are selling 5 of those acres and then will build our little farm on the other 5. I’m looking forward to putting in two paddock paradises, one with a dirt and gravel path and one with some grass on it. I am going to have a nice big dry lot with my horse shed in the middle so they will be able to use it as a wind block no matter which way the wind is blowing! And I’ll have a nice big feed/tack shed for my carts and my feed. We will plant some trees and shrubs and I’ll put in some herb feeders for the minis on the track as well. I’m so excited to design it all! I have so many ideas. I know it will take a few years to get everything just right, but am so happy to have the opportunity to do it.

Everyone is fat and sassy right now. They all need some exercise badly! I’ve been hand walking Bonnie twice a day for 30-45 minutes and driving Sky 3 or so times a week. As the weather gets better I will drive her daily which will really help her lose some weight! I think making the track in the dry lot will help as well as gelding Zorro so they can all be in together. Zorro is very active and bothers everyone which makes them move their feet!

 

4/29/17

Two days ago I trimmed up Bonnie’s laminar wedge and took some heel off. Of course after doing something so drastic I started to wonder if I had done the right thing. And of course, I can go out and google what I’ve done and read so many people’s opinions about how I just ruined my horse. Destroyed all chance of her healing. Then I read other opinions about how taking out the laminar wedge is the ONLY way she can heal. Sigh.

I am so stressed I am barely sleeping. I’m exhausted. I just want to lay down and nap. Watching Bonnie be so sore and stressed is taking a toll on me.

Then today I decided I was going to bring her in the front yard and take her SoftRide boots off for a while. I wanted to just wander around with her for a while and see how it went. The grass out there is relatively soft and the ground is soft and wet after all the snow we got yesterday. This is what happened!

She was so MAD at me because she couldn’t eat and everyone else was eating!! But she was trotting and trotting. I tried to slow her down which only made her more mad. Then I corrected her when she went down to eat she leaped and bucked! It’s so funny how this behavior normally would not be tolerated but when she is feeling so good I can over look a little sassiness. We walked around this part of the yard and the bigger part of the front area for over half an hour. She walked out and trotted the entire time. She was so HAPPY to be out of the boots and her pen. We will be doing this every day several times a day. I hope it helps her poor feet. The boots are great because they are protecting her on the hard ground of her pen, but they are also so soft they are not helping her soles much. So giving her time out of them is getting to be very important, to me anyway.

Then I spent some time brushing her. She showed me all her itchy spots and really got into it. I got so much hair off… she finally looked like I spent a lot of time brushing her! Up until today I would brush and brush and it didn’t look like I had done any good at all. Minis have SO MUCH HAIR. Bonnie and Zorro are the two shedding the best. Captain and Sky are really holding onto their fuzzy winter hair. In another month they should all be pretty slick!

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I think Bonnie is looking pretty good. She has put a little bit more weight on since the episode in March. She needs some muscling, but once she is sound again we will be doing a lot of walking and hiking. I will pony her behind the cart when I drive Sky so she can get out and trot. And I’m going to put together a little track in the dry lot so all the ponies can move around a lot more! I’ll put hay out at different intervals and hide fresh and dried herbs around to encourage some foraging. I’m looking forward to seeing how they all look at the end of the summer.

It was so rewarding watching her be so active this morning. It healed my heart a little bit!

Laminar Wedge?

I spent some time watching videos by “The Happy Hoof” by Linda Harris on YouTube today. I watched several videos of differing laminitic and foundered horses and  two videos of her trimming foundered ponies. One pony had long slipper feet like Bonnie did and the other had been trimmed by Linda a few times prior to the making of the video about trimming and rasping back to the laminar wedge.

The laminar wedge is horn that fills in the space created when the coffin bone rotates or displaces in the hoof capsule during laminitis.  -Laminitis and the Laminar Wedge: Take It Or Leave It | EasyCare

You can read more about the laminar wedge and see some great photos HERE.

The video I’m going to share here from “The Happy Hoof” is about what happens in the foot when laminitis occurs. I found it very interesting and also very enlightening! The simple way she explained it made a few things very clear. I knew that when laminitis occurs there is tearing of the hoof wall from the interior of the hoof. That sounds painful. I knew that often the horse will grow long ‘slipper’ feet and the heels will become underslung but TALL. But the way she explains what is going on was a light bulb moment for me!

Bonnie hasn’t really been 100% sound since she came here. She has always been very ouchie on the rocks when we go for walks and would appear stiff when walking in the dry lot. I thought she was just out of shape and sore footed because I made some significant changes to her angles over the summer, but now I’m thinking she was lame from laminar wedge! As far as her toes had grown and stretched and as much as her heels have grown tall and moved forward tells me that there was some significant white line stretching. I have been very careful about keeping her trimmed and addressing any flares as they appear, but I hadn’t really given laminar wedge much thought at all. I always rocker her toes which probably is what made her comfortable enough that she could go for walks, but I didn’t do much to get rid of it all together. This is apparent in how her hooves have been growing. There isn’t as tight of a connection as I would like to see, even with all the attention I’ve been giving!

Enter this video:

So. I came home and went to work on Bonnie’s laminar wedge. This was probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done on a horse and I’ve worked on some gnarly hooves!! But digging into the toe area, hoping that it was dead material was just stomach turning. **I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU TRY THIS IF YOU DON’T HAVE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE TRIMMING HOOVES**

In another of the videos I watched today she said that often times the white line won’t look stretched because the sole has grown along with the hoof wall and they are pulling the heels forward, sort of keeping things looking ‘normal’. But if you get down the to the real foot you will see stretched white line and THAT is where you need to work. As you dig down into that toe looking for that stretched white line you may see some blood droplets. She said that is because that laminae is tubular and the blood will travel from the live part of the hoof down into that stretched laminae. But if you keep going the blood will disappear. EEEEK!!!!! This is the part that made me nearly throw up. Luckily I was already sitting.

Sole before and after

I trimmed up around her heels because they are so long. I need to get them down to in order for her to have a balanced foot. So I took out quite a bit of bar and then pulled some material out from along her frogs. It’s so hard to see in the photo but there is a nice bit of room there now.

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Trimming out material in her toe area and running across some blood now and then made my heart stop each time. But I pressed on with Linda’s voice in my head. I was surprised to watch the blood disappear with my next swipe, just as she said it would happen! When it started to stay pink I stopped. Bonnie is still wearing boots so I feel she has some good protection from the elements and bacteria. But I clean her feet every day and apply essential oils so that will help as well!

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This photo shows just how wide that laminar wedge is. It’s harder to see it in the other photo. I was surprised! I was very careful around the tip of the coffin bone and didn’t take very much sole from there, only what shed off on it’s own. I didn’t dig any deeper there.

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These were interesting. I can see that by bringing her heel down a bit and taking some toe off (from underneath) her coronet band started to come down! Amazing! Of course it’s minute but every little change matters. I really like how her toe is pulled back after.

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Left: Left front foot with trimmed laminar wedge Right: Right front foot with trimmed laminar wedge

I am so sad at the condition of her hoof walls. She has been wearing boots non stop since the beginning of March. Being in the boots has a drying effect on the hoof wall but makes the soles of her feet so soft. I am looking forward to the day when she can get around without them! I would love to hear your take on the big yucky GRRR line up there close to her coronet band. I’m guessing that is when she foundered in December? Could the vaccine episode show up that low already?

So you are probably wondering what happened after I tortured her? I know my hubby was wondering what the outcome was… and he really isn’t interested in any of this, nor does he really care! LOL

I led Bonnie off with her SoftRide boots on and she walked right out! She strode across the gravel no problem, making me regret not videoing her walking out to the trimming mat, over the gravel, before I trimmed her. She didn’t not stride right out. She gimped. Then she proceeded to walk all around nearly dragging me. Her shoulders looked freer and she seemed so happy. Most of the time, unless I had the camera out, she had her ears pricked forward and was eagerly looking for a chance to snatch some grass (which she did NOT get!). She bossed Sky and basically seemed so relaxed. When I put her back in her pen she motored all over the place. Twice as active as before!

Here eyes are bright and happy!

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I think it was a success today! I will continue to work at the laminar wedge from both the bottom of her foot and the top. Next time I trim I will take some off the top. And I will keep you updated of course!

Listening

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. - www.theessentialhorse.com

Just for fun… Google Laminitis. Just do it. It’s amazing how many different sources come up with information about Laminitis. It’s overwhelming.

In one article I read how bedding a stall with deep bedding will help my pony and then read another article that says she should stand on hard ground and deep bedding will make her worse. Some say ice the feet, some say that won’t help. Some say put a wedge under the heels to help alleviate the pressure on the coffin bone. Because in some cases the coffin bone has rotated and the wedge helps realign it, also relieving some pressure on the lamina. Other articles say DON’T put a wedge as that will put too much pressure on the extremely sensitive toes! Some swear by pain meds, Bute and Banamine, others say try to stay away from these as the side effects are too severe to the gut. Sigh. So what do you do?

I have come to the conclusion –> the most important thing to do is to listen to my HORSE.

Everyone I’ve talked to about Bonnie’s episode is a expert at treating and healing the laminitic horse and everyone has a different take on what is best for my horse. I’ve tried many of the ideas that people shared and had lots of different outcomes, some not good at all! I do understand that people are very passionate about horses and what is best for them. People are VERY passionate about what they feed their horses and will try to sway you into their court. I will admit that I am as guilty as the next guy of doing this! However you all have the right to click off this blog anytime you think I’m too crazy.

I’ve had people adamantly insist that the oats in the Crypto Aero are harming Bonnie and will not allow her to heal. So a couple of times I have stopped feeding it to her, just feeding the grass pellets and her Remission or the hay pellets and her California Trace with the magnesium and Milk Thistle and in one day she is back to laying down most of the day and when standing she will rest one front foot and then the other. Clearly in pain. Someone told me that this happens because the oats have interfered with the good bacteria in Bonnie’s gut because of the yeast in the oats. Hmmm. I don’t buy this at all because the other ingredients in the Crypto are anti inflammatory and build good bacteria! The day after I put her back on the Crypto she is up and walking around! That tells me that the anti inflammatory properties in the feed is what is helping Bonnie. She is benefiting from this feed. So I choose to listen to my horse.

Soap Box Time –> I find it so interesting that so many people see the ingredient “OATS” and immediately think it’s a bad feed – thinking ALL carbs are bad and oats are the worst. This is just a myth. Yes, some horses can not have oats because they have become so sensitive to sugar that they just can not handle them. However I firmly believe if their gut bacteria and inflammation get under control and heal, they can eat organic oats just fine. It’s not the oats people. Just like it’s not about the trailer or it’s not about the saddle. There is always an underlying problem and putting a band aid on it by feeding ‘traditional’ pelleted feed with wheat, barley and soy as the top ingredient will not help your horse. It’s not because of the wheat, barley or soy but because of the GMO, Roundup in the plant! It’s the chemicals.

A friend of mine loaned us a pair of SoftRide boots as they really helped her mini who was laminitic. I am not a huge fan of these boots as I don’t like how they cause Bonnie to stand on her toes all the time. And they are heavy! They have a big padded area for the frog, which I like as I think this has encouraged blood flow to her feet, but they also have a wedge in the heel of the boot that causes them to tip forward. And yet, it doesn’t matter how I feel about these boots as Bonnie loves them! They have helped her become more comfortable and able to motor around. She is walking better every day. So once again I have to listen to my horse!

On the left: Bonnie’s Easyboot Minis. You can see how they are level. This is her left front foot last summer. On the right: Bonnie in the SoftRide boot. You can see how they tip forward. In the video you will see it even more as she walks. This is also her left front foot.

I am wondering if I had a wonderful gel pad like the SoftRide pad in the Easyboots if she would be happy that way as well. I am saving up to get another set of very soft pads for the Easyboots so I’ll keep you posted.

As for the deep bedding. I don’t think Bonnie would have pulled through like she has without it. Because I was able to deeply bed her shed and the front of the shed she could hang out without boots on, airing out her hooves. She was most comfortable in the deep bedding for about a week! She wouldn’t even leave that area of her pen.

I have been using some Homeopatics to help Bonnie with the pain as well. I started her on Belladonna 200c once a day for 3 days. That was a big deal for her as she went from basically standing around to moving around her pen and actually slipping out of the gate if I left it open! Before that I could leave that gate open all day and she wouldn’t make the trip down the pen to escape. Then I gave her Bryonia 30c twice a day for three days. I tested her and she wanted 2 of these twice a day so that’s what I did! Today I started her on 2 Rhus Tox 30c for the next 3-4 days and then I’ll reassess. To come up with this I read “A Healthy Horse The Natural Way” by, Catherine Bird. That is an excellent book!! I highly recommend it.

I muscle test Bonnie every week to check her feed program. I adjust as needed. Right now she is getting 3 teaspoons of Milk Thistle once a day. She is off Remission and getting one scoop of California Trace in her Crypto Aero. I have also cut back on the timothy grass pellets she is getting. I give her a sprinkle of magnesium as well!

Once I quit listening to others, started being good about muscle testing Bonnie and listened only to her she has really started to come around!! So the lesson I learned here? Always listen to your HORSE. They know what they need and will tell us if we listen!

My Driving Book

My Driving Book - www.theessentialhorse.com

Years ago I wrote a book. I had people asking me lots of questions about my driving training program and figured a book was the best way to help people! Two years ago I re-wrote my book and added more photos and ground work information. I am very proud of my little book!!

Now I have had Sky for a year, got her physically healthy and sound and restarted her in cart. It’s been quite a few years since she’s been driven, but we started her using my step-by-step process all those years ago, and since she is so smart, she took to being hitched and driven again like a fish to water! I am so so proud of her. She is a shining example of my training program for driving horses!!

She has been very worried when driving out alone and I realized that we didn’t drive her alone all those years ago. I would take my training minis and ponies out alone but we didn’t take her out alone! So that was a hole in her early training and one I have been working to fix.

To do that I pay close attention to her thresholds. We head down the driveway and when I feel her slowing down or wanting to stop I will simply turn her back towards the other horses and trot her back! Then we turn again and trot or walk away from the them. Each time I do this her threshold gets longer and longer, until she is looking out the driveway gates, ears pricked forward and no hesitation in her trot and away we go! If she has a threshold once we get out on the road I will turn her around and head for home again until she is feeling calm and connected and then we turn around and head back down the road. If she is rushing while we are still at home I do figure-of-eights with her across my driveway and into my yard area. We just do big looping figure-of-eights until her brain kicks in and then I can point her straight down the driveway. Patterns really help RBE‘s engage their brain because they are moving their feet, but having their pattern interrupted. She is becoming more calm and connected faster and faster when we hitch now!

Today we had a major break through and she was able to walk when we were still “far” away from home. We were about 3/4 a mile from our house and we could hear her son, Zorro, calling for her. But she calmly walked down the road, looking around. When I asked her to trot, she did immediately! When we got to the bend in the road that you can see in the video I asked her to walk again and she walked the rest of the way home! Such a huge accomplishment for my little RBE.

My Little Rock Star

My Little Rock Star - www.theessentialhorse.com

Oh my goodness. This little mare is the cutest thing! She is so adorable. When she wants a cookie and I am not giving her one she will tilt her head up at me and then bat her eyelashes!! Where did she learn to do that!? She is so smart and has me wrapped around her hoof.

During Bonnie’s laminitic episode Sky has experienced quite a bit of stress. She came out of winter at a really good weight, then I had to lock Bonnie up in a smaller pen and I put Sky in with her so she would have access to the shed too. BUT she would eat and eat and eat all the hay that I put in there for the two horses and Bonnie lost even more weight than before and Sky ballooned up! She is so fluffy right now! I am always amazed that she fits between the shafts of the cart… it’s down right embarrassing.

I separated her from Bonnie and she now gets two flakes of hay in her slow feed net and she makes that stretch over a 24 hour period. Some how she regulated herself! I found that so interesting. She is getting a 1/2 a cup of Crypto Aero, 1/2 a scoop of California Trace (to help balance the iron in the hay), one scoop of Crypto Aero Plus and a sprinkling of magnesium to help with her heat cycles this spring! She has been very regular and so sweet all during her cycles this month and last month. Last spring and summer I wasn’t able to do much with her during her cycles as she felt quite cranky.

Top: Sky last year before Crypto Aero. Taken April 2016 Bottom: Sky this year after Crypto Aero all year. Taken April 2017 We have had a much colder spring this year with high winds and lots of snow and rain. So all the ponies held their coats longer than last year. They are all actively shedding now, but our nights still get quite cold!

I also noticed that since I’ve been feeding her the Crypto Aero Plus powder she has become less anxious when I take her out by herself in the cart. I still warm her up on line and then we spend some time going up and down the driveway, doing figure-of-eights and going as far as her threshold will allow, then turning around and heading back to the other horses, but it takes less and less time for her to feel confident enough to just trot down the driveway and down the road away from home! I’m just so so happy with the Crypto Aero feed!

Sky and her Kingston Saddlery Easy Entry Cart - www.theessentialhorse.com

Here is Sky in her Kingston Saddlery easy entry cart. The harness is a bit of this and a bit of that. The collar is from Chimamcum Tack and is the Comfy Fit deep V collar. I love it! And she’s wearing her Cavallo CLB boots.

I do want to upgrade to the sliding back band as I know that will help Sky be even more comfy when working. I can see how great that will be as we travel over the bumpy yard ground and we haven’t even made it up to the mountain roads yet. We won’t go up to the mountains until we have the sliding back band and a Hyperbike!

Sky in harness with her Kingston Saddlery Easy Entry cart - www.theessentialhorse.com

I love how nice everything looks here. As we travel around and around the yard, over the bumps and down the gravel road the cart is nice and quiet and things fit nicely.

I am also going to upgrade to a Comfy fit bridle as well. I love how they fit the mini head and the way the blinders offer even more room between them and the eye. But all in good time and at least we can get out and about with what we have!

I am loving the curved shafts. You can see all the shoulder clearance they offer and when she turns her head her reins never hook on the end of the shaft! Also the neck collar has rein turrets. I wasn’t sure about them at first, then decided to try them out and really appreciate having them! If Sky puts her head down she can’t get a foot over the rein!

We are both enjoying our time spent trotting out on the road. She can really stretch her legs and gets to flying down the road. I love the sound their hooves make as they trot down the road. I remember falling asleep to that sound when I was a little girl and my mom was training Shetland ponies to drive. We spent many hours in a cart behind a pony. Make sure you turn up the sound!