It has come to my attention that Barnaby is a little on the porky side. This may be an understatement...
The trouble is, Pongo and Missis put out a whole haylage bale once a week and just leave the four horses to get on with it. Barnaby immediately and firmly takes possession and rents it out to his friends (this doesn't include Lyndy who only gets to eat some if Barnaby goes off for a sleep or comes out of the field to be ridden!) I think it really started when we had the snow in November. The horses didn't move around much and just stood there eating. Plus they were having lots of haylage at night. Mr O actually suggested I increase Barnaby's feed, but I stuck to my guns and said no, as he wasn't doing any work. I'm so glad now.
Haylage, by the way, is cut first, in June or July. It is only turned once or twice, and then it's baled, so it's slightly moist. We cut our hay in September. It's turned over for 3 or 4 days so it dries out properly, then it's baled. It has a lot less protein than haylage. Haylage has a lot to answer for really.
At our old yard, the horses had proper grazing. They walked around all day snipping off tiny bits of grass with their teeth. Winter grass has very little nutrition in it, so they'd have to do a lot of walking around to gain any sustenance at all. Now they go into the field, stand there gorgeing on haylage all day and don't move because the field is so muddy. They probably stroll up to the trough occasionally, but that's about it. Plus they're still having a huge net of haylage at night, too.
So Barnaby is a little barrelly, to say the least. There we are, all desperately feeding Zak and trying to get him to keep the weight on, when all the while, sneaking in under the radar is Barnaby, the size of a house.
Fortunately he is only on a basic brand of feed called Pegasus Mix which has very little protein in it. He only has half a scoop in the morning and half a scoop at night, with a scant scoop of HiFi Lite, which is a very basic chop, suitable for laminitic horses, so you can imagine how light it is. I've decided to keep him off haylage at night and give him hay. I have to soak it because dry hay makes him cough. He never has carrots or sugarbeet or anything like that (pure sugar).
The first day I gave Barnaby the hay he hardly touched it. He kept looking at me as if to say, "Excuse me love, you've given me the wrong hay net!" Sadly for him, I haven't at all. I have noticed he's eating quite a bit of it since then. Needs must 'n all that.
And the main thing, obviously, is lots and lots of lovely exercise. Most horses have a day off (or two) during the week, and some horses don't get ridden much at all. Barnaby is more like a dog that needs to have daily exercise. He has to go for a run, bless 'im. So I have been motivating myself for his sake and we've been doing a lot of riding. Because we do a lot of road work, it's possible to Google the map of where we've been and work out the distance. Recently we've done a 12 mile ride and several 7 mile rides and he's coping really well. I've decided I must at least make him walk as much as he would in a normal field on a normal day if he was in a field of proper grazing.
It's just as well, too, as I've booked us onto a 14 mile pleasure ride on 12th March. I am really looking forward to it. We don't normally do our first ride until April, which is also 14 miles. Last year they managed it well and we had snow in February so we didn't have long to prepare for it. Surely this year they'll wing it. I hope so. It's so hilly here they are fitter than we realise, which will be proven the minute we take them onto flat land, where they'll be off like rockets.
But in the meantime, just to put it on record, Barnaby weighs 596kg, which is at least 50kg too much. I am so ashamed! This is taken from a weigh tape which isn't totally accurate, but it's near enough. I'll check him again in two weeks and see if there's been any improvement. Watch this space.