This is the time of year that people are asking, “Is my mini too fat?”

Over the years I have done my fair share of rescuing. And though I have rescued some ponies that foundered from too much grass, many of the minis I rescued were actually too thin. I understand that people are worried about founder and they should be! However one should educate ones self about how a mini founders. Because they can actually founder when they are too thin as well. Being fat doesn’t always mean they will founder and keeping them too thin doesn’t insure they will never founder.

I wanted to share this comparison because I find it very interesting!

The photo on the left was taken today. I spent some time doing a trace clip on Sky because she has been getting way too hot when we are driving. It turned out she had A LOT of hair hanging on under there! The photo on the right was take this last Sunday. It took it to show how fat she is, showing how she is fat on her tummy and her neck. However when you look at the photo on the left you can see her neck is not fat at all! And her tummy isn’t as fat as it appears in the other photo. Don’t get me wrong. She is still overweight (I had some blood drawn on her on Monday so we can see if something is going on metabolically) but I was sure happy to see how she cleaned up today!

This is an interesting comparison as well! The photo on the left was take when I first brought her home, before Crypto Aero. The next photo is Sky last summer after eating Crypto Aero for a few months. She sure did look awesome!! Then the right middle is Sky last winter before we had snow. Quite fluffy but so peachy! The far right photo was taken today. I’m happy to see that she is much darker in her winter coat than last spring and actually hasn’t gained as much weight as I first thought! With all the driving we will be doing I think she will look even better this summer than last!

I think it’s actually kind of amazing that all these photos are the same horse! It just goes to show that it’s actually quite difficult to judge a horse by it’s photo. Not all photos are equal or even ‘good’ which makes judging a horses weight very difficult. Just some food for thought!

Bonnie foundered on December 27th, much to my dismay. She has been lame since then. To counteract the founder I have been putting Ortho Sport on her feet every day and she’s been wearing her Easyboot minis, which have been a life saver!! I don’t know what we would do without them. I took them off for a day to give her a break and to let her feet air out and she didn’t move much all day long. It’s difficult with the frozen ground and the snow that builds up a bit on her soles. Both things that are painful when your feet are inflamed.

On January 11th I started Bonnie on Remission. She loves it. I top feed it, with a little warm water, on her 1/2 a cup of Crypto Aero Wholefeed. She licks the pan completely clean. And fiercely protects her pan from Sky, who hoovers her feed so she can run over and try to steal Bonnie’s.

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Bonnie loving her feed!

Two days ago I got some Comfort pads to go inside the Easyboots. The difference in Bonnie’s mental and physical bearing was nearly instant! The pads are helping her tremendously. They are thicker than I thought they would be and a bit firmer, but they are doing their job perfectly. And I was surprised how well they fit down inside the boot and left room for Bonnie’s foot. She’s back to eating well and moving all around the dry lot. Yesterday she nearly trotted to chase after me for her feed pan. I loved seeing that! And the tracks the boots leave are so cool. They are like little hiking boots! Perfect for this snowy weather…

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Easyboot mini track in the snow.

She is handling all of this like a champ. I don’t have to halter her to work on her feet anymore. She stands perfect for me and even offers me her feet. I know the Ortho Sport helps her feel better right away so that has helped me win that friendly game! When I had to trace her feet so I could cut the pads to the appropriate size she stood perfectly and allowed me to trace around her feet, also without a halter! Something I would not have been able to do a few months ago. I’m so proud of how far she’s come! Pretty soon I’ll be able to trim her feet at liberty!

So far so good. I am preparing to have to spray down my dry lot this spring so ZERO grass will grow in there. I need her to be sound so we can do lots of hiking this summer! My dry lot is so big that they always have a bit of green grass growing when the weather clears up and gets warmer. This year I’m just going to nip that in the bud for good… I can’t wait to be able to set up a Paddock Paradise someday!

Bonnie came to me in seemingly good shape. She wasn’t fat at all. Her feet were not great and needed some TLC, but to just glance at her you would have thought she was healthy.

Now that she has been on the Crypto Aero feed for 75 days (2 months and 15 days) I can see that she wasn’t as healthy as I originally thought. I like my driving horses to have some body on them. She was thin, but didn’t have any muscle tone at all. After packing on some pounds (she’s a little fat!) she is starting to develop some muscle tone and is looking much healthier for it! It’s my opinion that people tend to keep their minis either too skinny or too fat. There are very few in the middle. Those that seriously drive their minis tend to keep them in better health. Because a thin mini can’t drive very far. Neither can a fat one!

I choose to manage weight with exercise instead of the starvation feeding program. So all of my minis are on the heavier side. However I believe this gives them a great place to start building muscle. The two girls and I walk 3-6 miles nearly every day right now. When I get Sky in cart we will trot 4-6 miles a day and both will slim down a bit but keep that round, blossoming look that I love so much!

bonnieshoofbeforeandafter
The photo on the left is before I trimmed her. Photo on the right is today. She was trimmed about a week ago. You can see all the new growth and how it is growing down from her coronet band in a healthy way. I wish I had grabbed this photo a bit further back so you could see how much healthier her heels are! No more underslung…
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Photo on the left is after her first trim. I was able to get all that long slipper foot off but she had a long way to go… photo on the right is from today, about a week after her last trim. What a long way we have come in a short time! I attribute this to Crypto Aero Feed and consistent trimming, plus lots and lots of exercise!
beforeandafterbonnie
Though at first glance most people would rather their pony look like the one on the top, however when you really get to looking at these two photos you can see just how round and blossoming Bonnie is now in the photo on the bottom. If I had asked her to stretch she still has that nice neck under there… But what I am loving is how round her shoulders are and how nice her butt is now. She is more balanced. I’m not too concerned about her neck. We aren’t showing after all and she will be able to stretch down and collect up when driving just fine. She is already doing this on our walks! I drive both the girls ahead of me down the road on one rein and Bonnie spends a lot of time stretching down and relaxing as we walk. Actually I should take another after photo now of her body as she has changed a bit more from all the exercise!

Sometimes we have to look a bit deeper and be willing to think outside of the box to understand just what makes a healthy horse. I write often about how I have my horses on 24/7 forage and just 1/2 a cup of Crypto Aero once a day. I truly feel I’m doing the best I can for my horses, keeping things as natural and close to nature as I can. And in so doing, I believe my horses reflect great health!

I went to their website and read about the ingredients:

whole oats, timothy hay pellets, alfalfa hay pellets, sunflower seeds, green peas, yellow peas, rice bran oil, ground flax, rose hips, green cabbage, papaya, algae, organic yeast, anise, fenugreek

Over the last few years I have used many of these things in Billy’s feed that I mixed myself using organic herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. I knew the benefits of feeding these wonderful herbs!

Here is a short rundown on a few of the ingredients listed above:

  • Anise = good for the stomach
    • Anti-septic
    • Anti-spasmodic
    • Digestive expectorant
  • Rose Hips = Anti-inflammatory to support healthy joints
    • Vitamins A,C,D and E
  • Papaya Leaves = Helps digestive systems, relieves inflammation
    • Antioxidants
  • Fenugreek = Helps the large intestine
    • Digestive
    • Hypoglycemic
    • Expectorant
  • Brewers Dried Yeast = Helps with digestion
  • Green Cabbage = Helps with ulcers!
  • Peas = Excellent protein source
    • High Lysine content

Horse have a very hard time using man made supplements. Their bodies simply do not recognize them as real food. Therefor when you feed the man made, pelleted and powdered supplements you are mostly throwing away your money.

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I have tried to avoid these feeds for years now and my horses have been happy and healthy! I have spent lots and lots of money mixing my own feed. Sometimes you can’t get certain herbs as they are out of stock so my feed would vary slightly based on what was available to me. When I started to study and read about the Crypto Aero feed I was so excited!!! Finally a feed that I could afford that had all the things that are so important to me.

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I went to a local feed store, Bridger Animal Nutrition, in Bozeman and asked them to look into the Crypto Aero feed. They agreed to carry the feed IF I could sell the first pallet… that was 30 bags of feed! So I went out and spread the word, told all my friends, shared it on Facebook and talked this feed up! I managed to sell 12 bags. It was a disappointment as I really wanted this feed here in Montana.

It’s so amazing to me how hard it is to talk people into trying a feed that is wholesome and natural and obviously so GOOD for the horse. The testimonials are amazing for this feed! The amount of money people will save on supplements when feeding this feed is also amazing. This feed has everything in it that horse’s need. All you have to supply (besides forage, hay or grass!) is a loose salt and clean water! And yet people won’t think of trying it because it isn’t main stream. Sigh. It reminds me so much of the Essential Oils! People are willing to take prescription drugs and drink soda and eat fast food but they balk at using the essential part of the plant, that grows in nature and can actually heal!

Lucky for me I have great friends and neighbors. When one of them found out that Bridger may not place the order, they called them up and ordered the number of bags we needed to get this shipment here. Whoot whoot!!! I was so excited that I drove around and delivered feed to all the people I got to place an order. I felt responsible for their feed getting to them and was so excited for them!!

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We now have our feed and we’ve all started our horses on it. Those of us that placed our orders are so excited and our horses are LOVING it!

I feed the minis just 1/2 a cup of feed a day. It’s so inexpensive!

Left: The feed, so colorful! Right: I feed 1/2 a cup to each pony once a day!

I can’t wait to share my after pictures….

If you have been reading my blog for very long then you know I LOVE before and after photos. LOVE them.

So, of course when I decided to start my ponies on a new feed called Crypto Aero I had to set up and take my before photos. I didn’t want to take a bad before photo because I want to really be able to see any differences that may occur this summer while feeding this. So I brushed and brushed the ponies, then trimmed their feet and had my boys come out and help set up some good conformation shots.

Sky's before picture.
Sky’s before picture.

These photos are also helping me decide what to DO with my ponies. I want to drive them all. Sky hasn’t yet decided if she wants to drive again so I’m giving her some time. She is cranky most of the time and is very worried about what is going on all around our little farm. She whinnies all the time and spends most of her time staring off into the distance. She hasn’t ever lived where she can see for so far and she is having a hard time adjusting. She is grumpy with me if I take her out to play right now. Some days she is very happy and bright and some days there is a definite dark cloud hanging over her head. I’m not in a hurry and won’t drive her if she doesn’t want to. This is more about having a nice partnership with my ponies than about what they can do for me.

Captain's before picture.
Captain’s before picture.

I’ve been really watching Captain Planet and have come to the conclusion that he is sickle hocked and both of his front feet are clubbed. He seemed much straighter and truer when he was young so I’m not sure what would have caused these dramatic conformation changes… He has been well cared for and feed healthy feed. No grain or extra supplements that can cause ligament issues. But because of these issues he probably won’t be very comfortable being a long distance driving horse. We have a long long way to go before he is confident enough to have anything behind him anyway… but isn’t he a cutie!?

Zorro's before picture.
Zorro’s before picture.

Zorro is very very nice. He has a nice length of neck, a lovely laid back shoulder, beautiful straight legs and nice feet. I’m so darn excited about him! He is very curious and wants to do things with me. Whenever he sees me he makes a beeline for me. He follows me everywhere and is always very helpful in scooping poop, brushing the other horses, putting out the hay nets, helping me with the other ponies. He isn’t afraid of much so if I can keep that confidence and just build on it I think he will make an awesome driving pony! He’ll be big enough that I can take him into the mountains and we can do parades and maybe even some CDE’s.

Blossom's (?) before picture.
Blossom’s (?) before picture.

I am getting my new mare this week and after a bit of settling in time I will begin to evaluate her as well. (I’m trying to decide what to call her. Her registered name is Ott’s Lil Booger… I’ve been calling her Blossom!)  I’m hoping that she will also make a great little driving pony so I’ll have two really solid ponies I can drive. Provided that they will enjoy it as well. I really am in this for all of us, not just me!

***I’ll write more about the Crypto Aero feed in another post! I’m so EXCITED about this feed!!!