I often get asked what I'm feeding my ponies. And since I change that up as I see things happening with my ponies, I have no problem sharing whatever I am currently doing.
I haven't really changed much since April of this year, except I did stop feeding Timothy hay pellets. David Landreville often mentions that he thinks Timothy hay pellets play a part in horses having thin soles. I have been feeding that as my treats and the carrier for my supplements for a few years. I have also been struggling to get Zorro's hooves over this last little bit of unhealthiness, so figured stopping the Timothy pellets was worth a try! I think I've not been feeding them for about two - three months and I have seen a change in his feet!
Also, being at my mom's for three weeks, walking around in the soft dirt dry lot and grazing in the irrigated pasture meant his feet had a lot more moisture in them. I believe this allowed them to fully release all the dead material that they were holding on to.
The changes in his feet are amazing.
Zorro's feet have grown a whole hoof boot size! He used to wear a size 8 Regular Equine Fusion shoe and now he needs an 9 regular Equine Fusion shoe.
What am I feeding the boys?
They get to go out and graze the yard in the mornings. I get up at 4 or 5am to turn them out, when the sugars are lowest, and then bring them in by 10 or 11am. Depending on how hot it is! I spread the grass seed in my front and back yard so I know exactly what they are eating. It's a low sugar/low starch grass seed that does well when watered in hot weather. I also water my yard. I water in the evenings and all night usually. We have been so smoky here lately that I have been able to water during the day because the smoke is blocking the sun for most of the day.
Zorro wears his Flexibly Filly muzzle. I like this muzzle as it's light weight and allows him to breathe. He did figure out how to eat out the sides of the muzzle so I added some duct tape all around it to close those up. That is not shown in the photo below... it's pretty red neck!
I have also changed the nose band padding to a very simple, thin, white, closed cell foam style padding that I electric tape to the halter. The thin line pad that I bought with the muzzle just rubbed the front of Zorro's nose all the time. The edging of the pad rubbed him raw. The halter I am using is a Beta Halter from Chimacum Tack. It's soft and comfortable and fits quite snugly on his head which helps with the rubbing as well. I also use regular Zip ties, not the ones they sent with the muzzle. They just lay flatter along the sides of the muzzle.
Then when they come back into the track I feed them:
1/4 cup of Teff Grass Pellets
1/4 cup of Orchard Grass Pellets (when I don't have Orchard grass then he gets 1/2 a cup of the Teff pellets)
1/4 cup of triple cleaned oats. We are using these up! They are left over from when I needed to get some meds into Zorro this spring.
1 Tablespoon of Vermont Blend Vitamins and Minerals
1 Tablespoon of Equine Generator Microbial
A sprinkle of Pea Protein (I used to feed Soybean meal but found it harder and harder to find locally. All the product I did find had the hulls ground in the meal and I needed hullless. So I switched to the Pea Protein and have been VERY happy with it! They get quite a bit more of this in the spring, before I let them out on grass.)
Once a month I feed 2 Tablespoons of plain Psyllium Powder for one week. To help clear any sand he eats when he is hunting for green morsels on the track. I have to feed the plain powder because Zorro doesn't like ANYTHING with flavoring and for some reason the horse industry thinks all horses like apple. Sigh.
3/4 pound of Teff Pellets
3/4 pound of Orchard Grass Pellets (Sometimes I give him Alfalfa pellets instead!)
3/4 pound of triple cleaned oats
1 Tablespoon of the Vermont Blend
1 Tablespoon of Equine Generator Microbial
A sprinkle of the Pea Protein
And he gets the Psyllium powder for a week once a month as well!
Then they both get a hay snack between 3 and 4 pm. For Zorro this is just a handful of loose hay from the hay shed. For Oliver this can be a flake of the Orchard grass hay I bought last spring.
Between 7-8 pm I feed them dinner. This is when I open the gate between Oliver's area and the track. Then, he can go out on the track for the night and Zorro has access to the enclosed shed for the night. For dinner they each get 2 pounds of hay in a slow feed net. This does mean that for several hours at night they don't have food. This used to cause me a great deal of stress but there is just no way I can allow Zorro access to hay, even low sugar low starch hay, 24/7. He just simply gets too fat. And the few times I've put an entire bale of hay in the track, because I had to be gone for a few days, he stood and ate that bale of hay (that was in a small hole net!!) until it is gone. He can finish an entire 60 pound bale of hay in 24 hours. So, it's completely true that he would eat until he died. He has always been this way.
I am pretty happy with our present feed program. Things will change as the weather cools and fall rolls around. But not too much. I will taper off their supplements and then stop them once winter comes. I don't feed supplements through the winter. Feeding soaked feed when the wind is howling 45 mph and it's 20 below zero is just too hard on everyone! Also, I like to feed with the seasons. Here, a horse in the wild wouldn't have access to supplements in the deep winter. It gives their bodies a little break as well.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!