I was just wondering what fescue grass hay is? I have lived in Florida all my life, and have never heard of this kind of hay. I plan on moving my horse to Virginia, and the barn there feeds fescue grass blend hay, and I was just wanting to get more information about this hay.

Fescue hay is the most common type of grass hay that grows in the Southeastern US. It is similar to Coastal Bermuda grass hay that is used here. Less nutritious and palatable than Timothy or Orchard grass hay, it is also much lower in protein, calories, and calcium compared to Alfalfa or Peanut hay.

It is a fine hay for most horses, but you may need to feed more of it to get the same amount of nutrients, and they tend to waste more because it doesn’t taste as good as Alfalfa, Timothy, or Orchard grass.

As with any hay, the most important factor in nutrition is the ”cutting” or stage of maturity at harvest. First cutting hay is usually soft, leafy, tasty, and has a high nutrient density. 3rd cutting or later hay is often coarse, stemmy, and has a lower nutrient value.

Thanks for the question!


Oreo is losing some muscle mass this winter. I can see more ribs than usual this time of year. He has lost behind the withers, and also his rump above the tail. He will be 18 in April. He has access to Tifton 85 hay 24/7. I give him chopped forage in the morning with a cup of oats and a supplement. Do I need to feed some kind of grain? Or something else?

Short Answer: Yes.

Long Answer: It seems that every horse has a certain day of a week, of a month, of a year, when they suddenly decide to become an old horse overnight. 18 years old is about right for this transformation.

Congratulations, your easy keeper that has stayed fat and happy on a certain ration his entire life has now become a hard keeper, and needs to be fed about 3 times as much!

In addition to your horse’s new title as a “senior,” there are other factors that could be contributing to his weight loss. For example, older horses sometimes don’t have the best teeth. Regular dentals can help with that, but at a very old age they simply run out of teeth to chew with! As horses age, they are also at increased risk for Cushing’s disease, which can cause weight loss, among other symptoms. Regular fecal egg counts and a good deworming program are also important so that your horse can effectively absorb the nutrients he is eating.

As far as choice of grain, it may be time to consider a Senior feed for Oreo. Nutrena, Triple Crown, Seminole, Purina… take your pick. Every major brand has a specially-formulated Senior feed that is a bit more digestible and higher in fat, fiber, and protein than your standard Maintenance feed. Keep the hay and chopped coming as well, because forage is always the most important part of a horse’s diet.

Spreading out Oreo’s ration over two feedings (three for super skinny horses) is a good way to put weight on a horse, because it is closer to how they would eat in the wild. Any feed changes should be made gradually over a period of about two weeks. If you don’t see positive results after one month of the new diet, we should come out to check Oreo for any underlying problems that may be contributing to his weight loss.

Thank you for the excellent question!

One of my horses have splits in his front hooves. What can I do to get rid of them?

There are two types of cracks we generally see in horse’s feet: vertical at the toe or heels, and horizontal at the heels.  All cracks are indications of unbalanced forces on the hoof wall.  The direction of the crack and the location gives us clues about the forces involved.

Vertical cracks at the toe are most commonly seen in horses with naturally poor quality hoof wall who live in sandy environments and don’t wear shoes.  These cracks can be improved by making sure the foot is trimmed appropriately and the breakover brought back to the right spot.  For more on what a proper trim looks like and what the heck a breakover is, check out this back-issue of Tony the Office Cat’s blog here: Tuesday’s with Tony blog. It is important to remember that any changes will take a lot of time to appear in the hoof.  It takes an entire year for the hoof wall to grow from top to bottom.  Sometimes it takes a proper trim and shoes to fully control the stress on the front of the foot.  These cracks can sometimes become a wonderful environment for White Line disease, so it is important to have Springhill Equine check the feet to rule out this insidious problem.

Cracks at the heel are much harder to deal with. Heel cracks are a direct result of very unbalanced forces on the hoof wall.  We highly recommend radiographs and a combined veterinary/farrier appointment. This allows Springhill Equine and the farrier to best determine where the issue lies and formulate a plan to fix it in the most efficient manner.

Thanks for the question, and we hope this helps!

Discover more from Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading