Mucked Up

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How to Properly Feed Before Pregnancy

Here is segment two on Breeding 101. What comes to mind when you think about feeding a pregnant mare? Do you only think that you are just feeding for two? Do you only up the regular feed and forage? Or do you do blood work to find out what your mare needs? Do you know what's lacking in your feed program?
Proper feeding takes place from conception. What your mare got in the womb is going to effect her for the rest of her life. And what your future foal gets in the womb from your mare is going to effect it's life. I like to start pre-pregnancy feeding a year before I plan on breeding. This gives ample time to do blood work, get on a vaccination schedule, and prep to make the mares uterus a more hospitable environment. The healthier the mare and her uterus the less stress pregnancy and the breeding process will be. If you are going to AI, she will probably take a whole lot easier.
To do this I like to start a breeders feed or cubes. I normally do blood work two weeks before my year of breeder feeding starts, 6 weeks after I start my breeder feeding, a month before I breed, and at most of the vaccination times during the pregnancy. This way I can evaluate whether or not my breeding program is working or if I need to supplement. I normally feed TizWhiz Broodmare along with supplementing DAC Broodmare during the year breeder feeding during the prepartum year. DAC broodmare is a great product if you want to increase fertility in both stallion and broodmare or just give that extra boost. I may switch to Platform:Mare & Foal after breeding continuing with DAC broodmare for the first 2 trimesters and then switching to DAC Orange Superior in the last trimester. During this time I may soak the pelleted feed in hot water a few hours before feeding. I've found that some mares have more sensitive teeth during pregnancy and they eat the pelleted mash better. I aim to feed small meals 3 times a day with high quality grass and alfalfa.
I never try to over feed but I keep in mind that from the 8th month on is when the growing baby is going to grow the most. Your mare will always need extra from the 8th month on, especially if you are living in the cold parts of the country where the temperature starts dropping end of August and September. During this time I might add beet pulp or soaked alfalfa cubes. I also like to keep free choice forage available during this time. It is crucial to remember that the forage is more important than the grain.

Tomorrow I will continue with Breeding 101 on Vaccinating during Pregnancy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Prepping for Pregnancy

Over the years many people have come to me on the correct way to prep a mare for pregnancy. Many are under the belief that you either just AI or live cover with no other after thought. Quite the contrary. Planning your mares pregnancy comes months, even years ahead of when you actually plan to breed her. How your mare is fed, trained, and used from her own conception plays a huge role in the type of mare she is today. This week I will dedicate each post to helpful pre-pregnancy pointers.

So lets get started from day one. So hooray, you've just purchased your mare. You are excited by the prospect of her being your personal buddy and eventually broodmare. You've done your research on her and what the market is like today. You've been dreaming of the perfect stallion and how your mare is going to be a great mother. You have even picked out her future progeny name. That includes both barn name and registered name. For both a colt or filly. HALT! Pull those reins back and lets take another look at this. Here are my helpful pointers that I live by.

  1. I do not breed or purchase any mare that has been bred under the age of 5 years old. Young filly's do NOT carry well. Many mares are not finished developing until after 5 years. Pregnancy takes a toll on mares just as it does humans. The sagging belly often diminishes the top line muscles of a mare. For an already undeveloped pregnant filly this can create major issues later on in life including poor joint health, sway back, chronic abortion, and septicemia.
  2. I get sire and dam history. Everyone wants to believe that their horse is just as peaceful as the day is long. The truth could be that their sire or dam were as rank as could be. The dam may even have been an intolerable mom. It is not something I would want to take a chance with or risk having a mare that could reject her foal.
  3. I do extensive checking on the mare. Previous owner may say that the mare had a foal the year prior or that the mare is breeding sound. But you will never know until you have a vet check. A huge red flag with me is a mare that has been bred here or there often years apart. Does she have irregular cycles? Does she not carry well? How many times did she abort? All of these questions need to be answered.
  4. Look at her previous babies. Are they willing and accepting to other horses or their handlers? Are they healthy and growing properly? Have they gone on to compete or perform successfully?
  5. Don't settle. Don't purchase the cheapest mare you can find with so-so bloodlines just because you are dying to have a cute little foal run around. If you are going to breed, find a mare and sire that are marketable so if you fall on hard times, you won't have an issue selling the offspring.

Tomorrow I will continue this session of Breeding 101 with a post on How to properly feed before pregnancy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fixing the Horse that walks off

Do you own a horse or have you ever owned a horse that walks off during mounting? If so, I can understand the frustration that comes to mounting one. Not only is it disrespectful but also dangerous. Many trainers prefer to fix this behavior from up in the saddle. I prefer to fix this behavior from the ground. Here is how I do it!

  1. Bring your mount into the center of the arena. Most riders know to never mount or dismount near gates or the fence line. Ask your horse to halt and stand while you adjust the saddle, tighten the girth and check your stirrups. Use this as time to collect and calm yourself. If you anticipate him walking off, chances are he's going to read your body language as it's okay for him to walk off. By the time you are done checking your tack your horse should be relaxed and calm, waiting for the next task.
  2. Come to the side of your horse and prepare for a mount. Most horses that are bad at walking off will begin to do so even before your foot hits the stirrup. Read your horse's body and before he even goes to walking off take hold of the rein and gently pull your horses head to the inside and ask him to disengage his hindquarters. Once he steps off and does as he's asked, ask for him to halt back in the middle of the arena.
  3. Prepare to mount again. Repeat step 2 should your horse move off again. This time increase what you are asking by putting more pressure to get your horse to move faster and cleaner. Return to the middle of the arena and ask for halt. Keep repeating this step until your horse stands still while mounting. Most horses get the point after 2-3 times of doing this, understanding that walking off means work.
  4. Once you have mounted allow your horse to stand for 3-4 minutes before asking for work. Teach him to enjoy standing and resting. Try to keep yourself from asking your horse to work the minute you are mounted.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Conformation Critique

Another conformation candidate sent in. This is a 6 year old Thoroughbred mare.

First I have to comment on what a cute head this little mare has on her. She has the ideal feminine mare head that I would like on a TB. A very kind eye and shallow mouth which hints to me that this mare is probably very responsive on the bit. She has the average TB neck that ties in nicely with her shoulder that also has a great angle and is not to steep. She is a bit weak in her top line and loin, but with collection exercises I'm sure both her top line and neck will become more refined and muscular. Her pasterns are a bit longer than I would like, but not long enough that I would think she would have soundness issues because of. She has a nice wither and heart girth. With a little more conditioning and collection exercises I think this mare could shape up to be a nice beginner or intermediate jumper or hunter/jumper prospect.

Conformation Critique

Todays conformation critique candidate is a 8 year old Perlino APHA Gelding. While it's not the ideal photo as he is facing slightly away from the camera, it does give a good enough profile.

He is a very nicely put together horse and from the looks of it has nice sturdy legs. He looks a little long through his back but has a wonderful hip on him. From the photo he looks like he might be built slightly down hill, but because of the angle I will not comment on this for sure. His neck ties in nicely with his shoulder but I would have liked him to have a slightly longer neck with a cleaner throat latch. He has a very nice head that isn't to long or to feminine. I like his shoulder angle and the length and angle of his pasterns. He has a very nice wither on him that is neither to prominent nor is it flat or mutton like. I would like to see a deeper heart girth area but overall he looks like he will hold up and excel in ranch work.

Monday, February 16, 2009

When it's time to say good-bye

Many horsemen wonder what to do when it's time to say good-bye to their four hoofed friends. Whether it be euthanasia or having to find a good home, saying good-bye can tear anyone apart. As my first post I will share a website that may ease the confusion and help in finding a good home for your hoofed friends.

The Unwanted Horse Coalition is dedicated to helping misplaced, abused, and neglected horses. The UHC has an online list of state by state facilities that will help rehome your horse should you not be able to find an appropriate home. They have teamed with the American Horse Council to aid unwanted horses or families that have come across tough times and are no longer able to care for their horses but wish to prevent the trip to slaughter.

For anyone needing aid in finding a responsible home contact the link below and spread amongst the horse community to those who may be looking into other options.