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What do you do when your horse can't chew hay anymore?
15

Popalina · 13/10/2014 21:12

My old boy is at a livery yard ( he has been there all his life) and has hay in the field and one hard feed a day. At the age of 30 ( possibly older) he can't manage hay anymore. He gives it a go but it balls up and comes out. He lives out and there isn't much grass available. I am worried about how he is going to cope over the winter. He can't have special food in the field as he is in with others and no option of him being in one on his own permanently.

Stabling isn't an option as it's too expensive and he doesn't like it, having always lived out. He won't even go near a horse box he is so claustrophobic.

Anyone got any ideas as to how I can keep weight on him over the winter? Please bear in mind I have a baby and preschooler so time and money are tight. At the mo I go up at six am to feed which quite honestly is pushing me as I am up several times in the night!

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Molecule · 14/10/2014 09:41

I think there comes a time when the only real option is PTS. We had a very old pony my daughter used to compete on, but in the winter she always lost loads of condition, despite having 4 hard feeds a day as well as haylege, plus two rugs. Grass was the only thing she appeared to be able to digest, by the end of the summer she was a lovely plump pony, but then would spiral downwards.

She was PTS one October, whilst still in lovely condition, thankfully before a very hard winter. Dh and the knackerman looked at her teeth then (she had been very feisty and would not allow such things whilst alive) and they were worn down to the gums and completely smooth. Knackerman reckoned she was well into her 40's, so had been competing, doing long rides etc whilst very old, and her legs were still clean, her feet incredibly hard.

Remember it's much better a day too early than a day too late. It's a horrid situation but I can't really see what other option you have.

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Whippet81 · 14/10/2014 11:54

I can't really see what you can do other than pts if you cannot separate him from the others - he is basically going to starve to death.

My friend has an oldie (34 I think this year) and he hasn't got a stable but is bought into a shelter and has tub trugs full of readi grass and sugar beet (whatever he can eat basically). He does cost her an absolute fortune.

Sorry to be harsh but you can't look after an oldie like this on too much of a budget. They need specialist care. Saying that I think it's perfectly ok to weigh up both yours and his needs and decide to pts - I certainly wouldn't think badly of anyone who took this decision.

I would think badly if he was left in his current situation - he is not going to survive on no grass or hay and one meal a day through the winter - we are meant to have a really harsh one as well.

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Popalina · 14/10/2014 16:51

Thanks for your honesty guys. It's really hard as we have just got him back to decent condition after lots of feeds and turning him out on his own in a very grassy field for half the day. He seems fine in himself too. prob is this is only a temporary situation as the yard will need that field back. They haven't said when but I know they will.

In the same stroke, they are very, very anti the PTS.

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Whippet81 · 14/10/2014 19:14

He's your horse isn't he? FA to do with anyone else - I know what people are like though.

They have got to see that he needs his own paddock and that he will not cope with others full time as he needs to be munching bucket feed a lot of the time.

There are 30 year olds and 30 year olds - I would be tempted to have a vet out for a general check up and a bit of advice - I agree with the better a day too early scenario though - it could be a lot easier for all of you to let him have one more sunny day and let him go peacefully than have him unable to get up in the middle of a snow storm and no one able to get to you etc.

Good for you for facing it though - a lot of people bury their heads in the sand and there can be some very difficult and brave decisions to be made.

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Popalina · 14/10/2014 19:37

He is my horse and I am just wimpey when it comes to causing a shitstorm!! But at same time, know it have to plan! Thanks for advice :)

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ADishBestEatenCold · 14/10/2014 20:35

Silly question maybe, but I assume he has been seen by a dentist and/or vet?

What did he/she say about the hay balling up?

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tiredvommachine · 14/10/2014 20:39

Poor old boy, thank goodness he has a thoughtful owner. Good luck to you whatever you end up doing OP Flowers

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Floralnomad · 14/10/2014 20:48

My old TB mare had an oesophageal stricture and no teeth ( due to an accident) for the last 3 yrs of her life and survived on grass and 4 meals a day of soaked high fibre nuts and sugar beet ( slop in a bucket) . She was on full livery at the time ,had been retired for several years and it was quite a commitment from us but she did very well on it until she finally went completely demented and had to be PTS.

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Pixel · 14/10/2014 21:36

Sounds as if extra feeds could make a difference, he really should be getting fed twice a day in the winter. There are lots of easily digestible feeds for oldies nowadays that help keep weight on. My friend's horse can't have hay at all as she chokes on the slightest wisp but she lives out and does very well on several feeds a day (not sure what it is, some kind of soft mash). Of course my friend works at the yard and so is available to do the feeds and I realise you have other commitments and are probably exhausted, but is there anyone who could give your pony an extra feed later in the day for you?

I'm saying this as the current owner of a 30 year old who has owned several oldies as I know splitting the feeds can make a big difference, but having said that I do agree with the others that 30 is a very respectable age and you shouldn't feel bad if you decide this is the end of the road.

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Booboostoo · 15/10/2014 02:29

I would second the dentist/ vet check. It may be a relatively simple problem to treat. If not I think that sadly you need to PTS and sooner rather than later. Horses need to eat all the time and he will suffer badly before he eventually dies. Sorry to be blunt but sometimes we need to be brave to save our animals from suffering.

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Zazzles007 · 15/10/2014 09:31

I had a 23 yr old loaner who was a really, really bad doer and a bad eater as well. He also was a windsucker, and the front teeth were worn down to the gums, although he could still graze. I gave him an extra hard feed each day (so 3 feeds in total). In the extra hard feed, he got all sorts of high fat foods - copra, rice bran oil, a pelleted hard feed, barley, and green chaff, all wet down into a lovely mash. He loved this extra meal and absolutely thrived on it. It took a while, but after several months of this feed he was 'fat' (although still not as fat as some other horses).

HTH

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Popalina · 16/10/2014 12:55

Hi, thanks everyone. He has the dentist regularly and we did double check to see if anything could be changed. He has 2 feeds, sorry, I said one and he lost so much condition last spring when the issue seem to become apparent that we put him on an intensive feeding plan. The vet saw him and has basically told me what the kindest thing to do is and I realise it now too. It's the end of an era and I have been crying buckets but I also know it's the best option for us. He has done very well and will have lots of treats now and a dignified end.
Thanks all.

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Christmascandles · 17/10/2014 08:52

Oh Pop so sorry, but it is the best thing. I know one day I will be making this decision for my girl. It's never easy but it's part of being responsible. I've seen people hang on to them before and it's just been awful. Better to let him go now after a lovely warm summer when he's had the sun on his back and in the lovely paddock.

Thinking of you Thanks

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Popalina · 17/10/2014 20:44

Thanks. I have booked it and just preparing myself. Only cried 3 times today. An improvement on yesterday. I can't cry in front of the littleones and my eldest is too young to remember the horse really which is probably a blessing.

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Zazzles007 · 17/10/2014 21:34

Oh Pop, I'm very sorry to hear the latest news. Its hard to let them go when you've had them such a long, long time. Thanks

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