It is amazing how different hay is from state to state or region to region. For instance, the hay in Kentucky is the complete opposite of Colorado hay. The small bales weigh hardly anything compared to the bales here. When I lifted up one of the bales from Kentucky, I almost fell over backwards because I over lifted expecting it to be heavy. Colorado small bales here weigh on average sixty pounds, and the Kentucky bales weigh maybe thirty pounds. This doesn’t mean there is less hay in the Kentucky bales at all, but there is nothing similar about the grasses at all.
When we left Kentucky, I had two Kentucky bales. It made me nervous, because I didn’t think it would be enough. Racehorses have to adjust to all sorts of changes, but he had never been out west. He roamed from Indiana to Louisiana, so I wondered how his gut could handle our hay. When we got back to Colorado on Monday night, I had one bale and two flakes left. By that Friday with his voracious appetite, we were out of Kentucky and dove into Colorado hay. The next day his poop started getting a little mushy.
I waited and waited and waited for his body to adjust praying he would find his balance. His poop slowly got worse and worse, so a few days ago I put him on Bio-Sponge. He has gone through so many changes….different hay, different feed, different water, and he climbed five thousand feet in elevation. That climb into our mountains also increases metabolism to boot, which worked against his body finding balance. I didn’t want to give him a full dose for fear of causing an impaction, so he gets one quarter of the dose recommended for an adult horse. So far, we’re seeing normal poop again, and he went back to eating the same amount my other two horses eat in twenty four hours. Before the Bio-Sponge, he was eating like a normal horse eats.
Yes, us horse people pay a lot of attention to horse poop, because of colic and other issues. Their poop can tell you when problems are coming on or when those problems are working their way out. Lack of poop is a dangerous thing, and nice, perfect pellets are what we want to see. I can tell you which pile of poop belongs to which horse. How crazy/wierd/sad is that?
The mushy poop is one of the reasons he hasn’t gained weight, but there are others.
His hooves are healing! I finally stopped diapering his hooves, applied hoof armor, and decided it was time for some change. He is walking around barefoot outside right now as we speak. Yesterday we went for two hours, and today we’re going for four hours. We still need to be careful so when he goes barefoot, I make sure there are no rocks and he can move around safely. He is growing in new sole, and that is a beautiful sight. Seeing him barefoot for these few hours is thrilling even though I also see all of the problems we need to overcome.
Also, when a horse is underweight, they usually have a dull coat, and when it comes time to lose their winter coat, it doesn’t come off evenly like on a healthy horse. It comes off in patches and clumps, and lots of bald spots emerged on Dulce. I thought I was going to be the first person with a hairless horse! I imagined news crews in the pasture talking about the Colorado hairless horse. Luckily, his summer coat is growing in quickly, and surprisingly it is coming in with a nice shine to it. I didn’t expect to see that at all, and that tells me we’re on the right track.
Growing in hair takes a lot of energy, growing in new sole takes a lot of energy, and having mushy poop drains his energy; thus this can be the reason for a stall in his weight gain. I’m hoping to see a change in the coming week though.
The coats of horses always remind me of different aspects of the earth. Chestnuts like Harley and Chaco’s remind me of Moab and Sedona. Paints remind me of the mountains with those patches of snow that refuse to melt and reshape the mountains over time. Buckskins remind me of the Badlands of South Dakota or the tall grass swaying in the winds on the Plains. Grays remind me of storms on the ocean. Their dapples remind me of the foam swirling in circles on the sea water as the storm rages.
Then there are the Bays. For some reason they are referred to as plain, brown wrappers if they have no chrome, or major white marks anywhere on their body; Dulce falls into this category. However, bays are anything but plain. There are so many colors moving through their coats; they are the colors of the deep earth…. umber, mahogany, black, deep earthen venetian reds….Bays are anything but plain. As they walk, the colors move and change into deeper or lighter shades. Nothing stays the same.
Tonight Dulce walked to the fence gazing at a far away mare grazing on some pasture in the glowing, western light. His coat lit up, it had a vibrant shine to it, and yes, I could count every single rib of his cage, but I saw how beautiful he is and will be. He literally took my breath away. I couldn’t move, and I dropped my hay bucket while watching him. I saw him. I saw his health, I saw his beauty, I saw his inner strength, and I saw his desire to be. His eyes glowed and were filled with calm power. Yes, we will get there. He showed me tonight that we will get there.
(No I didn’t get a picture. My phone was on the charger. Sorry about that.)