Ask Horse Journal: 04/05

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Hot, Skinny Thoroughbred
My hot, skinny Thoroughbred gets all the good-quality hay he can eat at night, but he’s turned out on round bales during the day, and he will eat only so much of the good stuff at night.

His ration includes Buckeye’s Cadence grain, 4 lbs./day. Will beet pulp help put weight on him' He turns his nose up at corn oil. I’ve had success with Buckeye’s Ultimate Finish, but it’s expensive.

HJ Response

We’d try improving the quality of his current diet before going to high fat.?? The round bales lose nutritional quality because of exposure to the elements and mold. Try putting out good hay for him during the day, too.??

Beet pulp yields about the same number of calories per pound as oats with the added advantage of being a prebiotic, encouraging the health of fiber-fermenting populations in the gut.?? If you substitute 3 lbs. of plain oats plus 3 lbs. of beet pulp for his 4 lbs. of commercial grain, you’ll have at least as many calories and a balanced major mineral profile.?? Ration Plus may also help him gain weight.??

The addition of a good trace-mineral supplement like Vita-Key Equine Supplement will round out the picture as long as your hay has decent mineral balance.??

His “hot” attitude may be related to insufficient magnesium in his diet.?? You could test for a beneficial effect from magnesium by adding 5 to 10 grams of magnesium from ground??(use a coffee grinder) human magnesium supplements to his grain.??

Keep this up for about a week.?? If it helps, switch to either the pelleted Quiessence, or a tablespoon of magnesium oxide powder from your feed store.

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Exercise and Ulcers
This concept of the risk factor for developing ulcers increasing when the horse is exercised faster than a walk is a new one to me, as I’m sure it is to most people (see March 2005).?? It seems odd.

Would there be any connection of a longer period of walking during warm-up to a lower risk of ulcers'??And also a longer period of cool-down at the end'

There are some people who religiously walk their horses for 5 minutes or more before they start working faster.??I know someone who hand walks any horse for 20 minutes before she gets on.??

The reason is to “let the muscles warm up.”?? However, maybe these people were seeing increased looseness because they were actually seeing a lower effect of that “acid backwash” when the horse walks for a long time before trotting and/or cantering.

HJ Response

The amount of time the horse spends walking shouldn’t have any effect, good or bad, because the abdominal pressures that create the backwash aren’t high enough at a walk. Regardless of how long, the backwash effect will begin when the pace picks up.

What should help, though, is making sure the horse doesn’t have an empty stomach before working, i.e. the horse has had access to hay or pasture.?? Food in the stomach is a good buffer.?? Racehorses often get a one-two-punch because they’re typically not fed before their works or races.

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Correction
In our January 2005 article on two-horse trailers, incorrect prices were given for the Merhow trailers. The correct prices are: Equistar $10,528; Equilite $12,295; Verylite $13,380.