Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Horses › New teamster with body conditioning question
- May 19, 2016 at 8:53 pm #88904
I’m the proud partner of a beautiful 12 year old Percheron mare named May. I got her last June and when she arrived, she was in great shape. She had that classic muscular crested neck but that has gone away as she lost some weight over the Winter. I don’t feel like I did a particularly good job keeping her in top shape this first year. :-/
I’m trying to learn the best body conditioning methods from experienced folks. She’s willing and able to do any work I ask of her and we have work daily. She gets a high protein, high fat feed, pasture, and good hay although I’m not pleased with the hay we had to feed over winter. Is it stupid to ask if regular serious exercise and high fat/protein diet are the best ways to build muscle and regain her original conditioning? If so, I’m on the right track, but I’m looking for any guidance. Thanks so much. Now that I’m finally working with a draft horse, I’d never go back to farming any other way. I just want to do it the best I can, especially for my horse(s), present and future.
The pics are May and I the day after she arrived at our farm, and the other is May and I harrowing a couple weeks ago.
- This topic was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by LarsPrillaman.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.May 20, 2016 at 7:41 am #88914Does’ LeapParticipant
I don’t use any body conditioning methods per se. I just go out and do the work that needs to be done. I think having year-round work is the best way to keep horses in shape. I log in the fall and winter, spread manure in the spring, and make hay in the summer. These large jobs are peppered with smaller jobs (clipping pasture, gathering blocked wood with a wagon, etc.)
One issue that pops up for me is over-work during certain times of the year. This might also crop up with you having one horse that isn’t in great shape. After intense rounds of spreading manure or haymaking, I try to let them rest a day to recoup. You also don’t want to discourage your horse by asking her to do more than she can.
I think accomplishing “real work” as opposed to exercising your horse is also important for the horse and teamster. When you approach a task with focus and deliberation your horse picks up on that.
GeorgeMay 20, 2016 at 9:28 am #88915Michael LowParticipant
I think as far as the diet goes, body building feed is good – even if the animal is fat. My thinking is that if I need to tone my horse or get him back to a good weight I don’t do it through dieting – I do it through work.
Real work is satisfying and more productive, however I also tone my animals through 15-20 minute workouts with a stoneboat or large tire in the morning. I did that regime with an older (14yrs) team of oxen which kept them healthy. Even though that team did a lot of regular work this was a great maintenance tool. Right now I am doing this routine with my horse every morning and plan to continue for a month or two, as he got fat through the tail end of winter.
Even if I have real work during the day this regiment seems to get the animals in line fast, and if I am working off the place or something stops planned work while I am home, we have still made progress on fitness.
I guess these morning workouts just keep the ball rolling and that feels good.May 20, 2016 at 11:37 am #88916
Thank you for the input! I got a 1ton single horse flatbed wagon and every morning May and I take the water and feed out to the livestock. That’s usually about 25-30 minutes. The middle of the day is usually occupied by smaller tasks, and sometimes she doesn’t have anything to do until the evening chores. Today we’ve been skidding tall locust poles I cut from around the farm to make new deer fencing for our market gardens.
It sounds like in terms of regular exercise (regular work) and a good diet I’m headed in the right direction. I’m just not patient with myself and maybe too worried.
Also, I should plan more Winter activities to maintain her physique it sounds like.
I thank you both for your input. This is the first time I’ve posted to the forums. I peruse them often and I’m always happy to see how helpful people are.
-LarsMay 20, 2016 at 8:20 pm #88918Donn HewesKeymaster
I think the winter time activities are great idea. I seldom worry about the “physique”, but maintaining activities keeps the relationship where it needs to be. In my experience that can be a bigger challenge than fitness. I typically feed hay in winter and pasture and hay in summer, plus good free choice minerals and salt.May 24, 2016 at 9:31 am #88942Megan BeyerParticipant
i’m more of a saddle horse person and tend to keep my draft mare the same way… I feed 4 lbs of mixed grains and about 35lbs of alfalfa hay in the winter and switch to pasture in the summer… i like my horse to be glossy and trim but not over weight, i like my horses that when i go out to them you can feel the ribs but not see them and a smooth topline…
this is the basic style chart for horses
i dont like thin thin horses or over fat horses due to the health problems. Over fat and cresty can be bad for a horse.
as far as work to be done in saddle horses a good muscled neck comes from collection through the horse not sure on drafts…
I think that your mare is looking good this spring personally
i have attached pics of my percheron mare nightsong… i believe her weight and muscling to be what i look for…
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.June 2, 2016 at 8:40 pm #88977dominiquer60Moderator
Just curious, what is the high protein/high fat feed like? Carbs and highly processed feeds can be bad for drafts. Does she need the high protein? Too much and they will just pee it out wasting costly feed, you can smell it in their urine. We feed ground whole oats and eat corn with some supplements. Our vet like that we stay away from the processed feeds and they seem to do well on simple.
As far as muscle goes I agree that work makes it. The ration can make a difference in the out come, but it won’t ever do it alone.
ErikaJune 27, 2016 at 6:31 am #89120
Thanks for all the input! I’ll be looking around for some less processed feed options. May is looking really fit. I actually cut her feed ration back, rearranged my daily schedule to allow a little more exercise time and I’m quite pleased. She is my only worker and this is our first year trying to manage the farm under nothing but draft power. So far so good, but it makes me obsessive about her conditioning and ability to do what I ask of her. Again, thanks all!
Green Gate Farm
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