Meet Babs...a 16 year old grade Morgan mare who belongs to one of my friends. Babs story is an interesting one, because of all the lessons it teaches about horse nutrition.
I've always felt this mare should be the poster-child for this website, as she's shown her owner, PeggySue, over and over that nutrition plays a huge role in a horse's life...
...sometimes a role larger than you've ever dreamed of.
Anyways, on to the story! Here is Babs story, as told by PeggySue:
Babs is a 16 year old grade Morgan mare. When I bought her, she was colic prone, founder prone, and covered in rain rot.
After about 3 months with us, she started to colic on average once a month. This was costing us a BUNCH of money.
Bad picture quality, but to the left is what she looked like then: notice the similarity to a marshmallow!
She also has a very thick neck in this picture, though it is hard to tell due to the quality of the picture.
Then we discovered, not only was she colicking every time, but she was also having a lot of heat in her feet every time, as well as a lot of pain...poor girl!
My vet wasn't helping to my satisfaction, except for putting her on bute and banamine (I was going through more than two bottles of each every month!) so I started digging for more information.
I joined an online horse forum and told them Babs story. Everyone there told me I needed to use a ration balancer and make her diet low starch, low sugar.
Since I had taken three years of equine studies at a reputable equine college, including two semesters of equine nutrition, I was initially rolling my eyes at them.
I thought, "Gee, its always worked, why change what isn't broken?" since I was feeding your typical 12% pelleted feed.
There was just one problem...if I gave Babs the minimum of 3 pounds daily, she colicked. After one super bad episode of colic, I thought "What the heck, she doesn't NEED grain since she's an easy keeper, I'll just take her off of it altogether."
Oh boy, was I ever WRONG!
Sure, I didn't have the life-threatening colic to worry about anymore, but now I had new problems...including rain rot of all things!
This is just one spot of it, but she was COVERED in it. We are talking entire body was covered!
So, I started doing some digging on it, and came to find out that it can be caused by an underlying deficiency in vitamins and minerals...guess that pretty green pasture and top-of-the-line hay just wasn't enough.
So then I started researching feeds again...I already knew that it had to be a supplement-type thing because she can tolerate NO grain.
I'm talking if you gave her a handful of oats, she'd be making a trip to the vet and she'd need styrofoam pads.
In all of my research, I came across a ration balancer in my area...Buckeye's Gro N Win.
I decided it couldn't hurt anything to try it...everything I'd tried to this point had been a failure.
So I put her on it for 60 days, and was THRILLED with the changes. Here are the before and after pictures:
I was even more ecstatic about the positive changes because I was SAVING MONEY in the process. My feed at the time was costing me $1.15 per day to feed one horse, while the ration balancer was costing just 35 cents per day (though prices are now inflated from that...) for each horse.
Not only did she LOOK better, she was better all around. The founder is much less of an issue, and the colics and rain rot have completely disappeared.
I now spend my time researching equine feeds and analyzing them and passing my findings on to other horse owners. I hope to educate them on the dangers associated with not paying attention to what your horse is getting in its feed and not knowing what it NEEDS.
Today Babs is happy and healthy...she has maintained her health on one pound of ration balancer for over a year now, with none of her previous problems.
All my other horses have also improved condition so much since I put them on ration balancers.
I'd like to thank PeggySue for allowing me to use Babs story on the website, as she truly is a horse that shows how important nutrition is for all of our horses.
Even if your current feed program has "always worked", Babs story proves that there is usually room for improvement...and there is ALWAYS room for further education at the very least.
All pictures on this page were taken by PeggySue and belong to her and are used with permission.