Unhappy Horses

horsesOur animals are unhappy horses.  Our pony and horse are too fat.  We have too much grass and too few animals.  For most farmers, the problem is the other way around.  They have unhappy horses because they do not get to eat all the grass they want.  They stay in small paddocks with little to eat in the way of natural forage.  They need to feed hay and grain year round.  Not so with us. Our guys only eat grass, and most of the time until the grass dies or is covered in too much snow.  Only then do we start feeding them hay.  It’s a very healthy diet for them, but it’s just too much of a good thing.

By this time of year, the grass has stopped growing and they are not gaining weight.  This fall, we are having an unusually mild fall and the grass is growing like its spring.  There are a lot of weeds mixed in with the grass, but the grass is growing surprisingly fast.  So far this fall we have mowed twice, thinking it would be the last time this year we would need to cut it.  Unfortunately every time I look out at the pasture it is tall, tick, green and growing like spring. All the while, I have been watching my horses getting fatter and fatter.  I finally got so concerned for their health that I made them come in at night and lock them out of the pasture.  You see, just like people, horses can get sick from being overweight.  They can get something like diabetes (but for horses) and there is another strange illness called founder.  It is like getting a fever in your fingernails.  I told you it was strange! It is also called laminitis, because it is an inflammation of the laminae in the hoof.  Basically the hoof gets hot and soft, and it can get wrinkles in it.  It is very painful for the horse and can cause permanent lameness and even death.

So now when I look out at them in the morning I see unhappy horses. I feel bad, but the alternative is killing them with kindness. So they are just going to have to be unhappy for now.

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