Monday, April 12, 2010

Taking some weight off a big boy.

Tuxedo is a Percheron/Thoroughbred Cross and he is now almost six years old. In the above picture, and prior to leaving Central California for Montana in 2007, he weighed in at about 1350 pounds and he's 16h3. At that time he was only four years old.  

Max is a purebred Thoroughbred and he's now eleven years old. In this picture, and also prior to leaving Central California for Montana in 2007, he weighed approximately 1350 pounds. Max is 17h3.

Max, Tux, me and my dog Mr. Parker all lived outside of Missoula, Montana for about a year where I was running a horse ranch. Max and Tux were drylotted so I fed them a good quality grass hay daily and I always gave them as much as they wanted to eat.  In my opinion horses are grazers and it is said that they will graze and eat just about 90 percent of the time so if they don't have hay I figure it's like taking a monkey out of the tree; slowly they just go a little or a lot wacko.  Monkeys are made for trees and vice-versa and horses are made to graze so if they don't have anything to graze on I feel it's very possible that it could be the beginning of psychological behavior problems or issues. So, I always fed my horses all the hay they could eat and it never seemed to be a problem.

When we all packed-up and moved from Montana to Central Oregon in late 2007 the only place I had to put my horses upon arrival was on green pasture. Because I thought the pasture would only be for a few weeks I really didn't give it too much thought as I concentrated on finding a home for my little herd. The problem ended-up being that it lasted almost two months. For Max it couldn't have been a better deal because as a Thoroughbred he can eat grass until it comes out of his ears just about all day and all night without difficulty but Tux, without me even noticing, packed on about two hundred pounds just like that.  And because I was seeing him every day I simply didn't notice the pounds going on until one day I just stood there looking at this huge horse and scratching my head. Was Tux always this huge or did something happen when I wasn't looking?  He was looking more than kind of chunky so I loaded him into the trailer and took him up the road to the truck scale and weighed him: sixteen hundred pounds, I could hardly believe it. Percherons are a very large breed of horse and they can easily grow until they are around seven years old but I just never expected him to have such a growth spurt; boom over two hundred pounds. Whoa!

So, now Tux and I have our work cut out for us this Spring. Although I have a four acre pasture on my property I can't let Tux out there (until we get the first big freeze in the Fall and now it's only April) because he could fat founder quite easily so I've decided it's time to begin to take the weight off this big boy.  Now I ride him and exercise him for a good hour at least five days a week. I began slowly and easily for the past week or so but now I begin to pick-up the pace so that he's getting lathered-up during our workouts.  

It's not easy having two horses that have such different metabolisms. And I really don't like the idea of letting Max out on pasture and making Tux stay on dry lot; I'm sure Tux would feel slighted. So they will both stay on dry lot until the first freeze.  I plan to exercise at least one hundred fifty pounds off of Tux in the next six or eight months so - wish Tux and me lots of luck? And if you've got a young upstart Draft Cross, keep an eye out for weight gain if you put him/her out on pasture.  Thanks for listening.


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