Mare and Foal Nutrition

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A healthy diet for the average horse includes access to good quality forage, unlimited supply of fresh clean water and dietary supplementation when need be. When in foal, a mare is eating for two. By giving your mare everything she needs to birth a happy and healthy foal, you ensure your foal has everything they need to start off on the right hoof.
The first step to developing a balanced feeding program for your mare is to assess her body condition.  Inspect her ribs, flank,neck, withers, spine, tail head and behind her shoulder for excess or lack of fat so you know where to begin.

Correct Ratio of calcium to phosphorous
If your mare’s diet is high in alfalfa hay, you’ll need to balance the calcium and phosphorus in it. Typically, alfalfa’s calcium to phosphorous ratio can be as high as 10:1. A mare in foal’s total diet should contain at least .4% calcium to .3% phosphorous. A mineral balancer like Adeptus Augment can provide crucial nutrients that may be lacking in hay without overfeeding fortified grain. If your mare is over 15 she may require additional calcium during gestation and lactation as older horses are less efficient in absorbing those same nutrients.

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Increased protein
Broodmares should be started on a rising plane of nutrition with the emphasis being on increasing crude protein (along with vitamins and trace minerals). In early gestation, protein intake should be about 1.4% of the mare’s body weight and increase slowly to 3% by the time she is lactating. Halfway through the second trimester the foal’s growth really takes off! Protein helps feed fetal tissue growth and will ensure your foal will reach their full potential. If your mare is over 15 she may require additional protein during gestation and lactation as older horses are less efficient in absorbing it.

Alfalfa for increased milk production
Good quality leafy hay is important for all horses, but after foaling it’s vital in making sure mare and foal have adequate nutrition. While lactating, many mares have the nutritional requirements of hardworking performance horses.  The average mare produces 3% of her body weight in milk per day after foaling. Because of this, nutrition should be on a rising plane to support her increasing milk production. A mare can only eat so much hay so you may supplement the increased feeding needs with a commercial concentrate designed for broodmares specifically.

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You can always call the friendly staff at Mary’s with your questions and for suggestions (858) 755-2015.  Our knowledgeable cashiers & feed guys will be happy to help you design a good feed program for your broodmare and foal.  We offer many different concentrated grain formulas specifically blended to meet their needs.  As well as the high quality forage they require.  Don’t forget to bring in pictures!  We love seeing all of those mare & foal pics.  Always consult your veterinarian or equine reproduction specialist about your mare’s needs.

For more information regarding Broodmare nutrition refer to the following: Management of Broodmares, Mare Nutrition, Feeding Mares and Foals

Maximizing Limited Saddle Time

Has the recent weather kept you from riding as often as you’d like? Maybe you just can’t get to the barn due to puddles, mud and more puddles? Instead of letting the lack of saddle time get you down here are some ways to maximize growth and learning when not in the saddle.

Staying Fit
Riding, for many of us, is our main form of exercise. Less riding can mean loss of stamina and overall fitness — but it doesn’t have to!  No gym is required, just motivation to strap on a pair of running shoes and hit the sidewalks or the beach. (Running in sand is a great way to build up endurance). For those who can, joining a gym can be a great motivator for exercising. Many gyms offer fun classes like yoga, spin, cross-fit, Zumba and kickboxing. If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised and you have health issues or concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first.

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Your friend’s can help motivate you!

Staying Limber
Downtime from the saddle can be a time to regain and improve flexibility. A physical therapist, yoga instructor, or physical fitness trainer can help you build a regimen of stretching, strength training, massage, or other alternative therapies you may need to get back into tip-top shape. Stretching has the added positive effects of increasing body awareness which translates to increased awareness in the saddle. As rider’s we’ve probably have had falls and riding related injuries. Many of us are stoic and will work through minor aches and pains when we shouldn’t. We all know someone who pushes themselves more than they should. Staying flexible can help us heal faster and more completely. Remember if you don’t use your flexibility you’ll lose your flexibility!

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Learning from varied sources
Lack of saddle time does not necessarily equal lack of time learning. You can commit yourself to going down and watching local rated and unrated horse shows in person or online. So many competitions are available to watch either on premium channels for a fee or for free on YouTube, regardless if they are happening today or in the past (and of course you can visualize your show rides of the future). There may also be clinics happening in your area that you can go audit. Mary’s Tack and Feed hosts events and seminars The local library, tack store or book store are great sources of knowledge with plenty of riding and horse care books and DVD’s that can be checked out or purchased. If your schedule allows it and your trainer approves, auditing barn mates and friend’s lessons is a great auditory and visual learning tool.

Limited saddle time doesn’t mean you need to backslide on your progress. By finding the right balance between fitness, flexibility and continued learning

Lessons Learned From George Morris

“If riding were all blue ribbons and bright lights, I would have quit long ago” – George Morris

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Whether you idolize him or just have a passing interest, George Morris is a driving force in the Hunter/Jumper community. And today the esteemed Horseman, Trainer, Author and Judge turns 79 years old! In the past I have been very fortunate to clinic with George Morris, not once, but three times. I was also able to audit his clinics long before I rode in them, and the years in between riding with him. With that experience under my belt, I share with you three big takeaways:

  1. You can never be too prepared – Whether it’s reading his book before the clinic (Hunter Seat Equitation) so you can accurately and quickly answer his questions. Or being armed with the proper equipment and knowing what it is and why you use it (i.e.: knowing which bit you use and why, if you are short having stirrup leathers that taller people can use etc.)
  2. Be an Active Listener : If you are auditing or participating in one of Mr. Morris’ clinics remember why you are there. This isn’t a social hour for you, your friends, or someone you remember from a show 2 months ago. You are there to learn. So being awake and aware of what’s going on around you is important. If you think you misheard something, ask George. Trust me, on my “been there done that horse”, he asked me to jump the course first. I have a hard time remembering courses and wasn’t sure how to approach the jumps. I trotted up to him, asked a clarifying question and he happily gave me the answer and shooed me to jump. It helped relieve my anxiety.
  3. Know Your Horse – The first two times I rode with George I took my older “been there/done that horse”. He was well schooled but he had a naughty streak and an aversion to Liverpools. In the clinic environment, he did really well and I was able to work on the exercises presented, improve some, and appropriately tackled that longtime nemesis, the Liverpool. After two days my gelding no longer cared about the blue plastic tarp. The last time I rode in the clinic, I  rode my young green horse. He was a mild mannered trying kind of horse; the flatwork in the advanced group was not a problem but the obstacles and exercises over fences were a bit much for him. At the end of the day he wasn’t over faced by the height but it may have been overstimulating for him and we wouldn’t reap the rewards of the experience until months later. In retrospect, the horse needed another year under saddle before going to a clinic of that caliber and that was a valuable lesson.

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At the end of the day, if you’ve never participated in a clinic with him before, definitely audit a day or two first. Pay attention to the exercises and practice them at home. Discuss with your trainer and listen to your horse about whether it’s the right opportunity for you to take at this time.

Of Presidents and Horses

Tomorrow is President’s Day! Many of our past Presidents kept pets at the White House. Dogs like: Checkers Nixon, Bo Obama, and Feller Truman. Cats like: Socks Clinton, Nip, Tuck and Snowflake Coolidge.  Many of our countries illustrious  leaders were also phenomenal horsemen. Whether family pets, or trusted steeds who bravely carried them into  battle, our presidents cherished and cared for their horses with the highest standard! Here is a glimpse at a few:

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Painting of President George Washington and Blueskin by Rembrandt Peale.

George Washington, our first president, was an avid foxhunter who spent many hours a day in the saddle. Thomas Jefferson spoke of President Washington as being “the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback.” Of the five stallions Washington owned, the most notable  were Nelson and Blueskin, whom he rode during the American Revolution. Nelson was a 16hh chestnut with lots of chrome. He was President Washington’s preferred mount during war since Nelson would bravely charge into battle as he was less spooky with gunfire and cannons. Can we say “bombproof”! Blueskin received his name from the deep blue grey hue of his coat. He was full of stamina and endurance thanks to his half-Arabian heritage. After the war, both Nelson and Blueskin retired to Mt. Vernon and were spoiled for years to come. Nelson lived to the age of 27.

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Painting of President Jackson and Sam Patch.

Andrew Jackson was passionate about horses from a very early age. He even worked as a saddle maker as a child. Years before he became the 7th U.S. president, President Jackson was a famous owner and breeder of Thoroughbreds in Tennessee. His most prized race horse, Thruxton, had his lineage traced back to the Godolphin Arabian… and even sparked a duel between President Jackson and Charles Dickinson (a famous American attorney at the time – not the 19th century British writer). When he was elected to office, President Jackson, took his horses with him and ran his racing stable out of the White House. His other horses included his favored Sam Patch (pictured above), Lady Nashville, Emilie and Busiris.

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President Ulysses S. Grant’s favorite horses- Egypt, Cincinnati and Jeff Davis.

Our 18th President, Ulysses S. Grant also became obsessed with horses at an early age. President Grant excelled in horsemanship while at West Point and was revered and admired as a talented rider throughout his life. He owned many horses over the course of the American Civil War- some gifted to him, most acquired. Cincinnati, a handsome 17hh Thoroughbred by a famous racing sire, Lexington, was one of President Grant’s favorites. Many of the paintings and statues of President Grant depict him riding Cincinnati.

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President John F. Kennedy with daughter Caroline Kennedy and son John F. Kennedy Jr and the family pony Macaroni.

Just about everyone has seen the sweet pictures of President John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, and her roany pony, Macaroni. Given as a gift, Macaroni would frequently visit the White House. Although President Kennedy (and John Jr.) were severely allergic to animals, he still encouraged his wife and Caroline to ride. First lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, grew up riding and competing in horse shows on the East Coast. She continued riding and foxhunting well into her years.

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President Ronald Reagan astride El Alamein.

Playing young cowboy roles during his early Hollywood career, Ronald Reagan fell in love with horses. During his term as our 40th President, a special secret service agent was assigned to be President Reagan’s riding partner, it took a while to find someone who could keep up with him! His ranch in California, Rancho del Cielo, became known as the “West Coast White House.” He once told a columnist, “most of my thinking about speeches comes–doing ranch work, not sitting at a desk.” President Reagan had a several favorite horses- Little Man, who had a tragic accident out in pasture, and El Alamein, who was a gift in 1981 from the President of Mexico, José López Portillo.

New Year’s Resolutions…For Your Horse

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Pssst…. Attention all equines! Yes, this blog is for YOU!

The New Year is here and your human counterparts are going to be busy trying to reinvent themselves. Things may even get a little nutty. So, we’ve come up with some resolutions you can make for yourself and tips on how to stick with them!

 

GET IN SHAPE… I mean, don’t…

Many of your humans will resolve to lose weight or get in better shape after the New Year. This resolution, as popular as it is, usually fizzles out in a month. Poor, human.

How can you help? Gain weight so they look better by comparison!

A trick to this is to convince everyone you haven’t eaten and are on the brink of starvation. It’s all in the eyes. ANY person who walks by, give them a sorrowful look and reach out to their pockets. The treats within may end up in your feeder, instead of that other horse. You’ll pack on the pounds faster than you think!

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TAKE UP YOGA

If you do have to work on your physique, consider yoga. Good for the body, mind and soul. A basic move you can start with is Upward Hoof. Lay down on the ground and reach all four hooves up to the sky. It might take a couple attempts, but keep rolling over until you accomplish the move. This is especially invigorating after a bath.

Another move is Tree Salute. Firmly plant all feet and slowly lean forward and stretch your neck up toward a tree branch. Then stretch your lips out. Eat some leaves. Ignore anyone who yells at you- you are in “the zone.”

 

QUIT CRIBBING

Aside from being a nuisance to others, cribbing is an unhealthy habit that can cause many long-term issues. Cessation products like cribbing collars, stall toys that can give distraction and natural remedies can help be a part of your quitting support team.

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EAT OUT MORE OFTEN

Get to know your local flavors by partaking in roadside buffets. You’ve seen them while walking by on the trail, especially during the spring. Fresh, flowering herbs can bring such delight to an equine pallet. Take advantage of a loose rein and reach for a snack.

You can also check in with what your neighbor is dining on. Their grain has to be better than what you have.

 

TRAVEL MORE

Resolve your fear of travel and take the brave leap into that shiny, metal, moving box! It is not a monster trying to eat you… give it a good kick and see for yourself… see? Give it another kick, for good measure. Told you so. Trailering in comfortable gear can help ease travel stress. Consider splurging on a shipping halter and boots to aid in your relaxation… and protect yourself from any “trust kicks” along the journey.

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If you have any questions about products that can help make your New Year’s resolutions stick, have your human call the friendly staff at Mary’s Tack and Feed at (800)551-MARY. We have the knowledge and expertise to help you achieve your goals!