Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Feed 'em before you breed 'em!

We've talked about too skinny to breed with regard to mares, but I don't think I've ever addressed it with stallions. It's true that it can be challenging to keep the weight up on a stallion, particularly during breeding season. Even if they aren't breeding, they spend the spring months screaming the weight off - flirting with every mare they see, pacing and generally having massive anxiety at the fact they're being deprived of their biological need to mate. I had to literally double the hay on mine to make the ribs go away this year when he had to tolerate the shocking fact that another stallion in the barn was breeding mares and he was not. ;-)

But what is too skinny to breed? Well, when your former AQHA halter champion looks like this, it might just be time to get on top of the health/nutritional issues before you stand him at stud and take even more weight off him. Sheesh, people, at least most of you have the common sense to put up the horse's old show pictures and hope nobody actually visits your barn to see how crappy he looks today.

(That's like my little fantasy - take the major breed magazines and sneak around to all the farms and take candids and then compare to the professional pics on the blog - wonder how many people would be really embarrassed if the current weight/hoof care of their stallion was shown to the world? I'm just getting so damn tired of stories like yesterday, where someone has show horses that look great, and horses on the farm that look like crap.)

So how do you keep their weight up? It's not very different from my usual tips about fattening up a senior horse. As already mentioned, go ahead and ramp up the forage! Many, many stallions truly do need free choice hay during the season, if not year round. It doesn't necessarily have to be expensive hay. Many do fine stuffing themselves full of grass hay, with just a small portion of alfalfa added in. It depends on the horse. Excellent pasture is always going to help but many people do not have a large grass pasture for their stallion. It's more common for a stallion to get his turnout in a dry lot/smaller paddock, so you have to make up for that by providing plenty of hay. If wasted hay all over drives you insane, you can see if your guy will eat a pelleted hay feed - that's a good way of stuffing him full of calories with pretty much zero waste, unless he's a picky eater who won't finish it. And of course pelleted mush is a great solution for any older stallion whose teeth aren't great even with good dental care.

As with any horse, pain will often prevent them from gaining and maintaining weight. Old racehorses or show horses with arthritis or similar problems may need joint injections and supplements even if you aren't riding them anymore. They may need them just to stay comfortable enough to exist. I rave all the time about BL pellets as an excellent, low cost source of pain management for creaky older horses. Try it, it works!

Here's another good article that gives specific feeding recommendations for your breeding stallion. One good point they make is that a stallion who is disinterested in feed may be encouraged by adding molasses or something else tasty to his ration. I've also used carrot shavings (use a potato peeler on carrots and lace the feed with carrot bits). You can also look for the source of the disinterest - if he's too busy flirting to eat, try to find him a place where he will not be distracted - far away from the mares, but not alone because he'll probably be upset about that too. Put him in a stall or paddock where the only scenery is boring geldings, and you may find that he regains his interest in food.

What if you have the opposite problem - an obese stallion? That's not healthy either, and here is a very good article with recommendations about how to keep your stallion fit and not at risk for laminitis and other problems. I was absolutely delighted to read that they actually still ride the stallions at Three Chimneys Farm regularly. Bet that makes them a lot easier to handle, too, doesn't it? It's amazing how much less drama you have when they don't JUST eat and breed.

Update on Ernie Paragallo...yup, still starving horses! I can NOT believe this guy.

"Paragallo has asked the S.P.C.A. to find homes for another 27, mostly yearlings that have not been broken or trained. “I’m out of the racing business, so I don’t need them,” Paragallo said. He indicated that he wanted to continue breeding. He said he bred 15 mares over the past few months at Center Brook."

WTF!!!!! The SPCA is not a placement service for your culls! And if you're out of the racing business, WHY the FUCK are you still breeding?

This man needs to be BANNED from horse ownership. NOW. ALL HORSE OWNERSHIP!

What a jerk.

Update on the Mongolian Race - the drama continues with both sides arguing their case!

On my side (the "are you f'ing nuts and just use quads or mopeds if you morons want to charge across the desert for kicks" side) is Linda Tellington-Jones. She sent this letter out to her mailing list yesterday. Follow the link - there are links in it for where you need to e-mail to continue to speak out against this event.

On the other side are, of course, the organizers, who sent me this defense of their planned event:

Pretty interesting stuff. Really, you think this company would just get half a clue that this wasn't helping their business and change the event. Why are they fighting so hard to do something that is just bringing them a ton of bad publicity and pissing off horsepeople around the globe? What's the point - other than arrogant twenty-something male "I can do whatever I want and animals are here to entertain ME" attitude?

Ah, good old CBER. Grade CBER mare on Craigslist, in foal to draft stud. This mare, CBER name Latte, was "rescued" in 2006. CBER sent her to a foster home in Nowheresville, Oregon where she ran out on barbed wire, got cut up and was wild as a March hare. Foster home got sick of her, so she got picked up - of course, not by CBER but as usual, by someone else they suckered into making the ridiculous trip to get her - and did not pay! Then CBER passes her along to Wayne the horse dealer and now she's punching out grade foals that no doubt have careers as sandwiches ahead of them. Awesome. The only good news is that CBER does indeed seem to have finally lost its 501(c)(3). But we all know we haven't seen the last of $am. Watch for the next scam!

Things I don't want to think about much less pass along, but must...if you're in Florida, you'd better read this. Security camera systems are cheap - just saw one for $50 on sale - and so are motion sensor lights. It's not a bad idea to think about how to make your property less appealing to psychos no matter where you live. It's sad that we have to even worry about this stuff but we do.

Good grief, they really did tie a mini stud to a barbed wire fence with twine. *sigh*

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Major blog revamp is in progress - sandwiching it in with those pesky real jobs, ha ha! Hope to have the new version up by the end of the week. And yes, the comments shall return! In the meantime, comments to e-mail will be posted the next day.