Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why Our Tiny Round Pen?

At Freshwater Valley Farms there is quite a selection of facilities for boarding.  This blog is full of stories of the 40 acre pasture, the general pasture, where Red and Lyra live with their herd of 15 horses.  There are 3 multi-acre pastures, stalls (we have one that is basically unused but necessary if we want to rent a tackroom), stalls with small runs, paddocks that vary in size, and a few tiny pens made of round pens.  The paddocks and pens rarely become available.  Some folks have been renting there for over 20 years.  I was just escatic when I was able to snag a small round pen.  Why?  Our little pen helps me manage some of the challenges that come with providing Red and Lyra a herd life with plenty of movement in the general pasture (GP).

For most of the year, I need to bring Red and Lyra out of the GP together.  They both need to eat more than the GP provides from late fall to early spring.  Lyra cannot be stalled - she panics.  This has meant that Red must tolerate having another horse eat with him, cutting into his (in his opionion) indulgence entitlement.  On the flip side, to spend quality 1-1 time with Lyra, I had to put Red in his stall.  With the round pen, I can have one horse eating while I'm working with the other.  Sometimes I do keep them together to ensure they deal well with this closeness - it needs to be one of their jobs.  We now have a place to confine a horse if they need to recover from an injury (and to loan to someone else with such a need).  I can also use our pen for a (cover Red's ears) "fat pen".  

Throughout this winter, Red fared quite well, perhaps a bit too well.  Lyra lost too much weight, even with her Nutrena Safe-choice/rice bran/beet pulp nightly meal.  I have added alfafa pellets and think I've got it right for next winter.  Now that we have made it through the season of starvation in the GP, we are about to enter the time of SPRING GRASS.  This will not be an issue for Lyra, but Red?  Hmmmmmm.   He is already at prime weight, just needing some muscle conditioning to be ready for the trail.

I'm worried about the quickly approaching spring grass growth cycle.  Red  does not have a crest and so far shows no sign of Equine Metabolic Disorder.  A greater concern is spring grass lamititis.  Last year during the grass season Red showed some signs of mild lamatic inflamation - tender footed with the tell tale black lines showing in his white line when I trimmed him.  This year I can give him a time out in the round pen if his feet start to become tender.   I may have to turn him out only at night when the frutans in grass decrease.  Red will not appreciate my vigilance.  I can just imagine his grumpy face.


Lori Skoog said...

Hey!!! Thanks for telling us about your horse set up.
I have three horses that need to hang on to their weight and supplementing them with Alfalfa cubes made all the difference in the world. Joe is a 32 yo Belgian...Target is a 26 yo Thoroughbred. At their night feed they get the cubes soaked. It amounts to a little more than a 3# coffee can dry...I add warm water in the winter and cover to about an inch over the cubes. Then I put a towel over it and let it soak up the water. You can do this in the morning for the night feed (in your case, at home so you can take it with you). They still get some hay (less than before) and look at my photos...they have come through the winter very well. My pony is 29 and wads her food (even after the dentist 2 times in 8 months). She gets a little less than the other two and only gets 1/2 a flake of very fine hay which she plays with for entertainment. I will guarantee you that it will keep your horse from losing weight in the cold months.

One Red Horse said...

Thank Lori - nice to hear that the alfalfa cubes work so well with the seniors. I don't really know how old Lyra is - the vet said over 20. Next winter I'll have the exact diet she needs. Sure can tell that your herd has exactly what they need.