Having had a metabolically challenged horse, I am being extra careful with the remaining three. I never ever want to go through that again. So...one of the best things I can do for their well being is to feed them a balanced diet. They are on dry lot only and that makes it extra important to get their nutrition the best that it can be. We buy our hay in summer and usually get 600 bales to last us until the next season of hay is cut. We have purchased our hay from the same farmer for the last 4 or 5 years. It is a mixed grass. We have bought it for 2.50 a bale until this last summer. We had such a drought that there wasn't any hay to buy. Hay was brought in last summer for 8.00 to 10.00 a bale for small squares of grass hay. I've recently seen it in our local paper for 5.00 to 8.00. Our farmer sold us his for 3.00 and we feel blessed to have gotten it. It was mid October when we got the bulk of it as the weather was not very cooperative. Ok, back to the balanced diet. I sent cored hay samples to a Forage lab and had a sugar, starch and mineral analysis done, so that I would know if there were deficiencies of any minerals in the hay. Once I received that, I could then balance the hay properly. I had some help to interpret the analysis, then purchased the needed minerals and add them to each horses' supper.
Horses were designed to eat forage, not sweet molasses and other sugars. It is especially important to a horse with Insulin Resistance. Sugar is a death sentence, as in developing laminitis. It is a devastating disease and very painful for the horse. Having been through this with my Rocky Mountain gelding I am doing everything in my power to avoid it with Solomon, Katie and Maddie. Even though I don't think they are IR, I want to give them a solid, balanced diet.
Do they like this new diet? (I have only been doing this since January 3, this year). I suppose the minerals taste funny. Katie picks at hers but it is almost always gone by morning. The other two eat it with no problems. The trick now is to find something that she thinks is yummy to mask the flavor a bit. I expect to see a difference in their coats when they shed out in the spring. I did this for the Rocky and it made a visable difference in his coat and in his general well being.
Is this a lot of work? Not really. Is it expensive? Not really. It could be, depending on what the hay was missing or an excess that would need to be balanced out. Since the horses are not where they can range far and wide to feed themselves, it is up to me to give them a balanced and complete diet, right? I think so. I will do my best to keep you three healthy.