Tuesdays with Tony
This weather sucks. I know you’re shocked to get my honest opinion, but as a cat I feel I owe it to my adoring fans to be true to my nature, and my nature doesn’t like this weather. It’s true that I also don’t like rainy days, but I do like rain often enough that the grass doesn’t prick my paws as I walk around the Clinic property ensuring all is as it should be in my kingdom. The horses aren’t loving it either, but they have different reasons.
Bits of grass, and lots of sand
Out in the pasture right now there are tiny bits of grass hanging on for dear life, just hoping for something resembling rain. The best we’ve gotten lately are some really foggy mornings. Those tiny bits of grass are looking really, really tasty to your horse. When your horse goes to grab that tiniest morsel of green goodness, they also pull up the roots. Those sad roots have nothing to hold onto right now, and give up the fight easily. With the roots comes sand, and you should know sand is less than ideal for the equine GI tract. If you don’t, you need to evaluate your reading habits because you aren’t reading my blog often enough. Right now horses are spending all their time looking hard for those tiny morsels, which means lots of sand is going in their GI tracts. It also means some green stuff (weeds) that isn’t grass looks better now than it normally would.
A Rain Dance would be nice
Sure, a rain dance would be nice, but in the meantime what’s a horse owner to do to try to help their horses make good decisions? HaHa! Horses never make good decisions. Just kidding (sort of). Anyway, real help. Look at your pasture set up to see if you can rotate the heck out of your pastures. Using the plastic step-in T-posts and electric tape is an easy way to block off areas of pasture to let them recuperate. Give pastures at least 10 days, and 14 days if possible, before putting horses back on them. While you won’t grow amazing grass this way, you will keep things at a tolerable level. If you can’t block off pastures, consider putting hay out. Now we normally talk about this at the first freeze, but with no grass, now’s a good time to start with hay. To avoid unscheduled visits from one of my Docs, be sure to slowly increase the amount of hay you’re putting out over 7-10 days. Don’t put a roll of coastal out until they are walking away from flakes, and be sure to add ½-1 flake of alfalfa or peanut hay daily to their diets. If you really want to minimize the risk of colic from hay, go with alfalfa or orchard/alfalfa pasture bales. Lots of horses can’t eat these without packing on the pounds, and for those coastal hay is a great option.
Other ways to avoid Unscheduled Visits
This drought has been very noticeable for one thing around the Clinic: more colics. Let me tell you what my Docs don’t want to see you for: A Colic. They don’t like them any more than you do!!! Here’s my step-by-step process to avoid unscheduled visits thanks to the dreaded C word:
- Give your horse at least ½ flake peanut or alfalfa hay daily. One flake would be even better. These hays are high in natural salt content so they get your horse to head to the water trough, and they both have a natural laxative effect to help prevent impactions.
- Add water to your horse’s grain. This is the easiest way to get horses to “drink” more water. The soupier the better! It’s all added hydration.
- Be aware of how much sand they can consume. If you live on a sandy property, your horse is eating tons of it right now. If you don’t live on a sandy property, your horse is eating some right now. Feeding lots and lots of hay is the best way to move sand through the system! If in doubt, add in one of the sand clearing products for one week out of every month to really clean the pipes. My Docs can also x-ray or ultrasound for sand to help you have an idea how much sand is in there.
We are all holding out hope for a lovely rainy week or two, but until that comes, I hope the cat wisdom helps you keep the colic away!
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Until next week,
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!