A month ago I got my ass kicked.
Well, not technically my ass, more my upper hip/lower waist area. It doesn’t really matter where it was, it hurt!
Turns out Newboy is a teensy bit food aggressive and it took me way too long to figure it out. I had noticed that he tended to get excited at meal times, but not the full extent of his behavior. The horses get separated at meal time, and Newboy had picked up very quickly that he eats in one particular stall and was very good about going right in it when he saw the feed buckets come out. The “incident” occurred when I switched up this routine.
He didn’t come after me specifically, he was going after Spots and I just happened to make a stupid mistake and end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Newboy and Spots were both headed for the same stall, so I moved between them to shoo Spots away. Unfortunately, at the same time, Newboy decided he was also going to shoo Spots with his back feet. He realized his mistake very quickly, since I screamed and threw a halter at him. It scared him so bad that he tripped, fell over, then ran and hid in the stall for half an hour. I would have felt bad for him, if my back hadn’t hurt so damn bad.
After getting kicked, I started watching his behavior at meal times more closely. I noticed he does a lot of posturing, ear pinning and mouthing before the food is dumped. He was treated for ulcers when I got him, but these are all classic signs of a belly ache. I decided to take him off the concentrated grain feed I had him on to see if that helped.
I slowly switched him over to strictly beet pulp and alfalfa pellets with a ration balancer and flax seed top dressing and his behavior improved. But, the problem with this type of diet is the volume of feed needed. Beet pulp shreds don’t weigh much, so it takes a lot of volume to get the pounds you need, and then you have to soak them in water. It doesn’t take long before you’re measuring feed in a 5 gallon bucket.
Eventually I got tired of mixing up massive volumes of alfalfa and beet pulp myself and looked for another option. I finally settled on Triple Crown Senior, which is pretty much just alfalfa and beet pulp but I don’t have to mix it myself or add water. We’ll see how he does……
Update: I started writing this last week, so all the paragraphs above are a week old. After a week on TCS, all the behaviors are back, plus now he’s standing in a stall weaving. He isn’t locked in this stall, he’s choosing to stand in it and weave. So, I think the new plan of attack is another round of omeprazole treatment, plus a switch to TC low starch. I might also put him on a daily calcium type stomach supplement like U-gard.