Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shadow's Delicate Palate

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!  On the farm, we don't do a lot of celebrating for this holiday.  Generally, horses and alcohol don't mix, not even good old Irish Whiskey.  Think about it, drunks and 1,000 lb prey animals.  Not a good combination!

Also, loud music and dancing scares prey animals.  Since horses are prey animals, we keep the music and dancing to a minimum.  So, you guys go party for the rest of us.  Enjoy!  Before you get too far gone, though, read today's story.

As I told you yesterday, Shadow is a very sweet horse.  He's extremely passive.  He never purposefully causes trouble.  Occasionally, he changes his mind about something, though.

In the Spring, Summer, and Fall, Shadow's skin allergies act up.  He gets very itchy. He will literally rub a hole in himself on a fence post scratching.  That's not good. Mostly, he's allergic to bugs.  A bug can lite on him and he's got a whelp.  So, he wears a big thing that looks like a football jersey called a fly sheet.

To further help, I was giving him anti-histamine powder with his feed.  This had worked well for two years.  Then, Shadow changed his mind.  He'd eat all of his feed except the medicine.  He no longer liked the taste of the anti-histamine.  So, he just quit eating it.

How'd he manage this?  Horses have as much dexterity in their lips as we do in our fingers.  So, he'd just separate the feed out from the medicine.

Well, then he went into heat exhaustion last summer.  We had an extremely hot summer.  Even though the horses come in during the day in the summer and go out at night, Shadow couldn't even take the morning and evening heat.  So, he had to stop the anti-histamines anyway.

Anti-histamines exacerbate heat exhaustion through problems with sweating.  If a horse can have some eccentric problem like that, it's always Shadow. At least we weren't offending his delicate palate any more!

Then, this winter, he stopped eating the last cup of his feed.  Shadow is a "hard keeper." This means he struggles to stay at the appropriate weight.  So, he gets a ton of feed every day.  He wasn't losing weight, but I didn't want him to start.

We figured out, Shadow decided he no longer cared for the trace minerals that are added to everyone's feed.  Minerals for horses are like vitamins and minerals for humans.  It makes sure they get every thing they need to stay healthy.

I talked to Mack the vet about this, too. I showed him Shadow's left behind feed when he was here for their regular shots and dentals. He said to soak Shadow's feed in molasses or Kayro pancake syrup. That way, he couldn't pick through and not eat the minerals.  Ok, one more thing for the staff to do in the mornings!

It became a game of figuring out what Shadow preferred: molasses, light Kayro syrup, or dark Kayro syrup.  We started keeping tabs.  He likes dark Kayro better than light Kayro.  He likes molasses the best.  It's like feeding a finicky child!

Now, it's time to add in a human salt substitute to his diet.  The chemical compound used to make this supplement helps Shadow avoid heat exhaustion, especially if it's started in the early Spring.  Guess what?  He doesn't like this anymore either.  Shadow!!!

Just yesterday, Dod called me out to the barn.  He showed me what it took to get Shadow to eat his minerals and salt substitute.  It took half a bottle of molasses on the last little bit of feed that had the goods in it.  Ok, Shadow, you're not going to develop a half a bottle of molasses a day habit.

We're going to have to mix the salt substitute and the minerals in a separate bag from his feed.  My horses each have a daily ziploc bag of their feed set-up with their individual supplements.  It keeps the feed consistent that way.  So, this means another step.

Daily we're going to mix those supplements with molasses into a paste to put on top of his feed.  Good grief!   Shadow, it's a good thing you're such a good horse because your delicate palate is about to drive me crazy!

Now, who wants to tell me I don't understand because I don't have kids?  Horses are just 1,000 lb kids, believe me.  At least your kids eventually learn to use the bathroom in the toilet, horses never do.  I won't go on about the similarities between horses and kids, but they are there, believe me!  Getting my finicky horse to take what's good for him is only the beginning!

This may drive me to drink some Irish Whiskey tonight!  Nah, I prefer wine.  But, I'll still wish you the luck of the Irish, though!  Have a good day and thanks for reading.

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