A question for you’all
|February 28, 2012||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
For those of you that saw my Facebook status about NOT BLOGGING because I should be studying….this is not a blog post. This is a fact finding mission.
I want to know……whether I should board my horse if it means giving up grass hay and switching to alfalfa.
The money is the same whether I continue to have her at my parents versus boarding. The boarding stable is across the street (which is a highway) and is where my dad boards his two horses. Nice facilities, arena, solid sided big round pen, and the ability to ride off the property for a couple of hours without trailering. Shared pastures. Irrigated, so at least part of the year there is some grass.
The only downside is that they feed alfalfa and it would not be an option to feed grass there.
I’m at the point in my conditioning that the ability to get off the property for a couple hours without trailering would be a HUGE bonus. I thought I would be able to do that at my parents, but new owners of property and new fences make it impossible to get onto the levee’s and ride, and I have to trespass property that does NOT want horses on it in order to get to a spot to cross the highway where I would ride if I boarded.
So…..how critical would it be if she was on a 100% alfalfa diet? It doesn’t look too rich – looks horse appropriate. I’m willing to buy a bale or two of grass and keep it around, but with me seeing my horse only 3 days a week or so, I wouldn’t be able to give enough to make a difference.
Is giving over 50% alfalfa in the diet a death knell for endurance riding?
I’m going to have to move my horse regardless because my parents property won’t be available to me to have a horse on after this summer. I’m going to have to decide whether pasture space, or grass hay is more important – no one in this area feeds grass. Most will feed it if your horse is in a small private paddock/stall and you buy it – but I think that pasture is more important to hay – so not willing to go that route.
What to do what to do.
I can always move her back to my parents for a few months and find somewhere else if it doesn’t work out.
Right now the minimum trailer ride is 15 minutes away from my parents – but I live 20-25 minutes away. If you start adding up the time it takes me to get to just the river bottoms for an hour or 2 ride, the cost in time is high.
What do you guys think? I’ve had Farley on a 50% alfalfa diet before and she did fine – she only switched to 100% grass ~18 months ago. She’s been on 50/50 since I got her – but was fed 100% alfalfa before then.
I would be willing to feed a ration balancer for alfalfa if that would help balance the hay.
I’m particularly worried about the Ca:P ratio.
Please give me your thoughts!!!!!!!
On principal I think as much feed variety as possible is best. But it comes down to what the local boarding facilities offer, and you can always supplement. My horse is at an all-alfalfa facility, and I feed her flakes of grass 3 to 4 times a week.
Might as well move her now and see if she has an issue with the feed, since you can always move her back to your parents’. If you wait until after the summer you might face having to barn hop which is a pain. I think the pros outweigh the cons on this one, given her feed history.
Maybe I’m just paranoid because I own a pony, but I hate the idea 100% alfalfa. Way too high in protein, very hard to digest. Mimi actually foundered b/c of being on an all-alfalfa diet about 10 years ago. So to me, it’s a rather scary proposition, unless CA alfalfa is different than the dense bricks of rich, leafy green stuff here in AZ. Is feeding forage replacers like the EGM grass pellet an option to at least get closer to the 50/50 ratio?
The stuff that we feed out here is different from the super rich stuff – which is what should go to dairy cattle, not horses. Egm pellet stuffs an option, but would only be fed as I was out there – so not sure it would make a difference
Is there a compromise you could do, even if it means paying more, such as having her brought into a stall during feeding time, have her spend an hour or so in there to finish her food, and then back out to pasture?
This particular stable probably wouldn’t be able to make those accomodations. The stable at the university wouldn’t make those accomodations either. There might be one that would in my area that would – I would have to call around. Most of the places around here are either show barns where the horses are stalled, or the throw ’em feed and ignore them places. If someone was going to bring her in from pasture to feed, then it’s practically the same thing as a stall with daily turnout – which depending on the situation I guess could be OK – but again, I’m making a compromise on her being able to move about the pasture on her own the majority of the day – which is important too…..I DON”T KNOW!!!!!!!!
Here’s Susan Garlinghouse’s take on alfalfa:
http://bit.ly/yiHkLm Granted, the article is dated 1998 (!) but I heard her speaking at the PNER conference in January this year, and she says pretty much the same thing still: alfalfa is an excellent garnish but not an excellent feed for distance horses.
Would this barn be willing to feed grass hay if you provided it? (Or does that boost the price of boarding out of the stratosphere?)
Since its a shared pasture, not possible unless I had her in a small paddock or stall – which is unacceptable – io think 90 percent of my issues in the last couple years were related to her not having pasture. As a reference, I’m paying about 100 dollars a month in hay. Plus what I pay my brother to feed. Pasture board will be around 150 a month
My adventure into alfalfa was disastrous. So I have a deep seated paranoia about it except in very low percentages. Just one component of several things that went wrong. But it potentially can throw the calcium / phosphorus ratio way out of balance. Could you board her and supply her hay? Add timothy or orchard grass pellets to ration? Or leave her where you have her and just “rent” arena time over there? I guess stuff like this isn’t an issue until YOU HAVE AN ISSUE with it. Journey’s “away” hay is maybe 10-20% alfalfa, but I figure she can use a little boost of calcium and the enticement to eat. The rest of the time she gets good quality grass hay which she throws around and pees on. *sigh* ~E.G.
So I can go over and ride. In the arena when ever I want, the issue is that I have to trailer over there because I can’t cross the highway – and I want access to the riding land over there more than arena. I commute in my car, so trailer rides involve me going back home to pick up the truck, and then driving over, loading up the trailer etc. additionally there is no trailer parking over there, so can’t. Easily trailer over there just to ride if not leaving her there. See my comment to above for supplying my own hay.
don’t forget the mucky mess because of drainage that the pastures over there at the stable become during a “normal” winter. Investigate how easy it really is to ride directly out of the stables also. Have you looked at other places in the area?
I would only be leaving her there through the end of the summer/beginning of fall at the latest. Since its been so dry this year, the drainage isn’t an issue and I don’t plan on being there over the next winter. Everywhere in this area feeds alfalfa or oat. Oat is less of an option an alfalfa because of the sugar content. Most places that do pasture here don’t even feed hay – which is also unacceptable. You can see my issue….
Yes – I have ridden from the stable onto the levee land and it’s easy to do.
I agree with your Mom. Also you might want to call Kathy and see what she does. She feeds Rio grass. I don’t know if that is part and parcel of the stall or not.
The problem is that she HAS to be on pasture. She CANNOT be in a small enclosure – even if that is how she can get grass hay – so even though she could be fed grass in a stall – if she can’t be fed grass in a pasture than it doesn’t matter
From my replies to previous comments you can see my delimina. She has to be moved by summer, whether I do it now or later. I need to have access to ride off the property. I have to have pasture. Grass hay combined with pasture is incompatible in this area as far as I’ve been able to find. I agree with Susan garlinghouse. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I’m going to have to choose soon and I can’t give up pasture, and I can’t give up riding space – but it doesn’t
really matter because if I can’t compete on alfalfa, I may as well sell my horse. It’s so frustrating. I’m trying to find a good compromise, but it looks like compromising on ANYTHING means that I can’t do it.
I guess I could always post on ridecamp and see if anyone in the area has any ideas. Rather than just whine about it here.
Another hard thing is my commute – I commute 1 hour and 10 minutes a day. I don’twant to commute an obsenely large amount to see my horse. I can board her close to school and ride more during the week – but not be able to trailer ride out on the weekend for conditioning rides, or I can board her close to home – which unfortunatley is extremley economically depressed and doesn’t have a lot to offer. Or I can board next to trails, and commute an hour on the weekend to ride, which means I get ot ride 1x per week or less. 🙁 WHHHAAAAAA!!!!!!!!! I’m SO FRUSTERATED how HARD endurance is to do in central california. Where I lived in Turlock before it was a minimum ONE HOUR trailer ride each way to get in a decent conditioning ride and no pastures available. I made it happen, but at what cost to my horse?
So sounds like most everyone is in agreement that a 100% alfalfa diet doesn’t work?
I basically agree.
But not having her on pasture isn’t an option either.
Why is it so hard to do the right thing by horses? It’s like the world goes out of it’s way to make it HARD to provide GOOD BASIC care.
Seriously – I’m to the point where I’m no longer willing to compromise a basic need to the horse, such as room to move and a grass diet. And I guess I could have that if I gave up riding – because apparently you can’t have all three.
I’m a little stressed about the test on Friday. Can you tell?
Apparently you are talking “divided” highway or hellishly busy highway. In my neck of the woods you can walk across the highway, or ride across the highway, and in some cases ride under the highway! Sending happy boarding vibes your way…
In California there are “country” highways that are fine to cross, but unfortunatley HWY 70, although only one lane going each direction is a little tricky. LOTS of traffic, and it’s elevated because it’s in a flood plane. As long as I’m willing to cross 2 ditches and tresspass I can get across it when it’s flat…..but the owners just put in a new fence and I got confirmation they do NOT want horses on the property. Plus they flood irrigate to the footing is crap in that particular section because it’s a low spot…..so……to cross I have to climb an asphalt hill with no shoulder. and then stand at the stop sign waiting to cross. Once I cross I have to go down ~1/8 of a mile to where I can get off the elevated part of the highway – again no shoulder. There used to be a part of the levee you could access direclty across from the big asphalt hill thing – but they blocked it off with barbed wire and T-posts so now I have to go further down. Traffic frequently includes logging trucks etc. so I just don’t think it’s worth it.
Riding in the orchards would ahve been PERFECT. Apparently ONE rider ruined the whole “riding in the orchards” for everyone else. Let that be a lesson for all of us that having to ability to ride on others land is a fragile thing.
I use alfalfa & grass. Not a blend – bales of each. To balance the CA Ph – twice a week wheat bran mash. Toss in some beet pulp, apple chunks & carrots 🙂