Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Teaching the mustang to eat of a hay net fail

Before I begin this tale, I suppose I should mention that Sage still has a full bag, a huge belly, and a super jiggly butt. Perfect for foaling. However, she and this baby have decided to take their time with things, and seeing as there was snow (yes, snow) swirling around this afternoon while I was feeding, I suppose that's all right. I'm pretty sure she's planning a sneak attack for the next Large Animal Medicine exam, but we'll see :)

Anyway, this hay net story really starts with Brandy. (Doesn't every story gone wrong?) This weekend she pulled a shoe, and because of her nasty terrible QH feet and several other problems, her foot needs to be kept protected from the gravel out in the paddock. So she's inside the two stalls in the barn with Sage. By inside I mean two stalls, a whole section of aisle-way, and the arena. So they have quite a bit of space, but it's a lot less interesting than stalls and outside space.

Brandy is a hoover. She will eat anything at any point in time, and she'll eat it fast. So now that she's inside with Sage, who has no problem regulating her feed intake throughout the day, these two girls go through 60 lbs of hay a day and there is not a scrap left when I come to feed morning and night. I am fully aware this is because of Brandy. Why not just feed them more? Well, because my lovely QH has no ability to discern when to stop eating, and I feel that 30 lbs of orchardgrass (or likely more) is plenty for a lady of her composition. When I had her on stall rest last year, I fed her from a hay net. Even though struggling with a hay net at 5 am was not my favorite task, it worked to keep her food in front of her a little longer. Also, less hay was wasted--though that's usually not a problem with little miss muffinbutt around.

Since she's back on track to eat me out of house and home, I thought I would test this trick with the two of them together. Now, they each have their own stalls, but they can move between them when they like. That means if Brandy has a hay net, Sage has to eat out of one, too. I had a feeling that this might be an issue for Sage, who likes to use her feet for absolutely everything. If she wants to investigate something, she just steps on it and drags it toward her with her hoof. Every morning without fail she puts her foot in her alfalfa pellets and scoops some out of the rubber feed pan to eat on the floor.

I slung up her full hay net; I usually have horses who are very mindful of the net, and if I use one, I like to hang it low (so that when it's empty, it just barely hangs on the ground). Horses are not meant to be eating things from a height such as an overhead feeder. I let her into her stall, and just before she walked in, she noticed this strange thing and snorted. It only took a few seconds of me pulling hay out of it and feeding it to her for her to realize that this strange thing must be amazing. Then I went to take care of Luna and Gabby, keeping an eye on her. Because of course, the holes in the hay net are perfectly sized to fit a mustang hoof.

And of course, within ten minutes, she had her foot in the middle of the net full of hay. Anticipating this, I had tied it so that if she really pulled at it, it would come undone and she wouldn't be hanging by a leg. But there was a good few minutes where she stood there with her foot in the net, looking at me and asking, "What am I supposed to do now?" Then, she'd try to pull her foot back a bit. Meeting resistance, she'd stop and then start to eat again. Oh dear, this mustang is sensible to the end of time as long as there's food in front of her!

I eventually undid it and she pulled her foot out, breaking a few holes in the net so it's not really a net anymore. I guess I should have figured that this situation wouldn't work out, but it was worth a try. I knew I could get away with her getting herself in trouble because she's got such a quiet nature.

And that is my mustang story for the week. No pictures because it's wet and nasty out. They've been going out regularly on pasture when it's dry, but they didn't get to today. Hopefully next time I write there will either be a foal or some sunshine. I would love both!

1 comment:

  1. sounds like things are coming along nicely! love the photos! best of luck to mother and baby... and to YOU!!!