Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Entering the minefield

So I finally made the jump and bought my own horse! Here he is, in all of his young nosey glory, he's a beautiful cuddly boy, rising 5 and 15.1 hopefully to grow a little more and make 15.2. I've had the joys of early mornings now for 3 1/2 weeks and have now settled in to more of a routine. 

We've had the daily trials of burrs in manes, tails, feathers and somehow under his belly, our first ride out on our own this weekend, plenty of poo picking, and lots of cuddles. We both have lots to learn, and I'm really looking forward to our journey together.

I've been riding since I was a tot, and used to love spending my weekends at the yard in return for a free ride on a Sunday afternoon. It was a happy time. When I grew up and moved out my riding took a back seat and before long it had been nearly 2 years since I had last saddled up. I was very lucky and fate found me a  share pony 18 months ago whom I grew to love dearly. He was a cheeky 20 year old cob who knew it all and took great pleasure in tanking off when being lead. It took over a year, but when I realised that in hand was the answer, he seemed to change completely. For the last couple of months he was a different horse to and from the field, but sadly he was sold earlier this year. Initially I stayed on at the yard helping out my friends with their horses, but it soon became apparent that I missed the freedom of having my own steed, and thus started the creeping thoughts of horse ownership...

So, my first topic in question is feed. With the help of a friend we have established a breakfast feed for Rio, and it consists of the following:
  • Chaff (1 scoop)
  • Soaked beet (1/4 - 1/2 scoop)
  • Developing nuts (1/4 scoop)
  • Pony nuts (1/4 scoop)
  • Garlic granules 
  • Biotin
  • Linseed
What would you feed or consider feeding/not feeding to a young horse? I will be keeping an eye on his weight as I don't want him to get too fat - just enough to get him through the winter! I am looking at getting a weigh tape to keep a better monitor... Thoughts?

He shares a field with another pony, so they get fed together, and they seem to get on OK which is great. We try to feed them within a few feet of each other to discourage him getting too dominant over food and so far it seems to be working. We are very lucky at our yard to have rotational grazing, and having moved the horses up from summer paddocks to winter grazing, they have plenty of grass at the moment. Once this starts to dwindle, I will be arranging hay - do you soak your hay? If you soak it, how long do you soak it for? Also - tips on preventing it from blowing all over the place? My friend has a couple of large tyres in her ponies' field and wedges it inside them which seems to work fairly well. 

We did try carrot stretches on Sunday, which he proved to be very good at, however when the carrots were gone, he was still trying to nibble around my hands. Food for thought on how to achieve the same effect without the yummy treat? I don't want a nipper on my hands!

Here's a lovely picture (from lunch time today) of his symmetrical, freshly groomed bottom to sign off this evening :)