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Weight Loss

Two months ago I took Sky and Zorro to the vet to have their teeth done and to have a blood test done. I like to keep track of their health by having blood tests run at least once a year. Especially since I lost Bonnie to IR and ultimately liver failure.

I was very distressed to find out both Sky and Zorro had elevated liver enzymes and were in danger of having fatty liver disease. My vet said they both needed to lose 100 pounds and they needed to lose that weight RIGHT NOW.

So I went home and put them on an extreme diet plan. No more than 5 pounds of hay a day, that is 2.5#'s in the morning and 2.5#'s in the evening and this includes their hay pellets with the SBM (Soybean meal). I added in Milk Thistle for liver support and Chaste Berry Powder for their metabolism.

Sky decided she wouldn't eat the Chaste Berry Powder and I was further distressed thinking about having to put her on Thyro-L. But I was reminded about putting the powder in a syringe and squirting it in her mouth. Which I'm doing. Which she hates and has now started to rear in objection. Today I'm going to try some applesauce first and then the Chaste Berry powder.

Two days ago I added in Chromium. These things won't hurt them and just may help so I will do what I can to avoid Thryo-L.

I decided today was a good day to take their fall photos. I also measured their girths so I would have a starting place with the addition of the Chromium. To see if I can track some weight loss that way. Sky is 55" and Zorro is 52 1/2". In April Zorro's girth measurement was 54" so he has lost a few inches!

I have also been working them both. I was driving Zorro and then ground driving and long lining Sky. Then I decided I would start ponying Sky behind Zorro on our drives. In this way we can trot for longer and longer distances.

I am proud to say that tonight Zorro and I hit 301 miles, tracked since January of this year! Whoot whoot!!

Now onto the comparisons....

Left: Sky today Right: Sky in March

The left hand photo is Sky today, after two months on this diet and exercise program. The photo on the right is Sky this spring and also before SBM. She is so shiny and healthy since the addition of the SBM. I'm very happy with how things are looking. After our last vet appointment I was feeling frustrated because the vet tech (who was a total sweetheart!) said both ponies still looked too fat. But she didn't see them the last time so was just looking at what was in front of her and she didn't touch them. After looking at these photos I can say that Sky has definitely lost some weight!

Left: Zorro today Right: Zorro in the spring

The left hand photo is from today and the right hand photo is from March. When I run my hand down Zorro's side I can feel his ribs. I can't see them but I can feel them! And I don't have to push ;) His tummy is tucked up and he is barely round when viewed from the front. Again this is 2 months after starting his diet and exercise program.

My vet isn't thrilled with their weight loss but he didn't make it to our last appointment so he didn't lay eyes on them. And their clinic doesn't have a scale so we can't weigh them. He said we could give them 6 months to lose the rest that he wanted them to lose. With winter coming on I would say they will easily lose that and maybe a bit more. I don't baby them in the winter and let them live as they are meant to. They have hay and water and shelter but I don't blanket or feed warm mash or give them any extra grain at all. They make do!

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Mindy Schroder
Mindy Schroder
Feb 08, 2020

Hi Ladora! I know that we have been taught that horses need food in the tummy at all times because of ulcers, but further research has found that having an empty tummy many not be the culprit for ulcers, but they are instead caused by inflammation of the gut lining through improper feeding. Though horses are designed to browse and graze continuously the simple fact is some are far too easy keepers for this to be possible. If they were having to walk and search for food and then nibble on bushes and trees as well as tough, fibrous grasses then they could eat 24/7! But alas that is not possible for most of our domesticated horses and ponies. So we do…


Ladora Flood
Ladora Flood
Feb 08, 2020

I've been following your posts and articles about nutrition and find them fascinating! I've been reading everything else I can find, too, and there is so much conflicting information out there. My main question to you is if you limit their hay intake that means there will be times when nothing is going through their gut, perhaps for many hours? Are you concerned about ulcers? I use a slow 1" feeder hay net yet my 33" (287 lbs.) mini has her hay gone in a couple hours! So I feed 3 times a day. But even this leaves her with many hours of no food, especially at night when she is stalled. (coyotes/coywolves/coydogs) I tried the "they will regulat…

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