Saturday, December 6, 2014

Boarding at Nature's Run Equestrian: A refuge for the heavy and heave-y horse.

      Over the past few months we have been putting final touches on what boarding at Nature's Run really means, what it includes and why it is beneficial to our horses and yours. With every new tour and new visitor we discover new ways to help you and your horse live better!

Here are just a few of the health perks for your horse at Nature's Run...

For the heavy horse...
1) Individual slow feed hay nets
      Each horse gets their own hay net filled with our top quality small square hay, accessible 24/7. Now I know what you're thinking, how does this help a heavy horse? That's easy; it comes down to how a horse's digestive system is meant to function. A horse is a nomadic grazer, which means they need forage passing through their system all day and all night long. They are meant to trickle feed, itty bitty bites over a long period of time. This helps keep their digestive system running smoothly; reducing ulcers, pain and colic... but also reducing how much fat they store. Basically any time a horse goes without being able to decide to eat (when they run out of hay), their body goes into "starvation" mode and that tells their body to store fat. So the next time they eat, their body stores more of it than it would've if they had been able to eat hay all along. Check out this great article for a further in depth explanation of what is going on inside your horse!
      Allowing them to trickle feed 24/7 at their own discretion allows their body to settle into a functioning mode of digestion, burning calories; and therefore stops the need to store fat. The slow feeder nets limit how much they eat so they aren't just stuffing their faces all day long. Which also helps them to lose the pounds!
      We also place the hay nets in different feeding stations so the horses have to travel around to eat, to get to their water troughs and to reach their shelters. This is an added benefit to burn some calories and shed some pounds without the stress of losing their need for forage and chewing the day away.

2) Travelling more than the average horse
      Since all of our horses live out 20-24/7 year round, they get a chance to move around a lot more than the average stalled horse. Now most people think outdoor horses live around a round bale, but not at NRE! With our spread out feed stations, hills, varied terrain and happy herds; our horses travel their pastures day and night. They eat, go wandering, take naps in the sun, travel up the hills to their water troughs, then back down to the valleys to eat. They go foraging and searching for other tasty treats in the grasses and along fence lines. They also get a chance to play musical hay nets! They playfully chase each other from time to time and switch hay nets throughout their eating hours, so they are never planted in one place for a long period of time.

For the heave-y horse...
1) Low Dust Living
      Our part indoor horses spend their 4 hours inside in no dust stalls on all flax stalk bedding; with low dust high quality hay. We take every precaution to keep dust down by watering the floors and only sweeping when the horses are outside. Footing is maintained with regular watering and harrowing to keep dust low while riding in our indoor arena.
      Outside the horses enjoy low dust conditions while eating from our individual hay nets instead of stuffing their heads down into a hay bale and breathing in hay particles. All of our "muddy" areas have been covered with pea gravel and round stone to keep dust levels down when it gets dry in the summer; and our location offers an added bonus as we are on top of a hill with great ventilating winds.

2) Room to Run
      With room to run in the herd, and places to relax away from too much activity; a horse having trouble breathing has every option to clear their lungs by kicking up their heels and going for a run to open their air ways, or to rest away from the herd and recharge. Low stress levels in well socialized paddocks allows our horses to relax into their surroundings and use that energy to heal themselves in between work outs or play sessions.

3) Eating Off the Ground
      Everything we feed our horses, from hay to grain is fed from the ground. This may not sound important to anyone who has not had the pleasure of rehabilitating a heavey horse, but it's a very important aspect in every horse's lifestyle. Their respiratory systems are meant to clear themselves by mucous following the flow of gravity down their nostrils and out to the ground. When a horse has to eat from anywhere above their throat level, they run the risk of getting dust, hay and other particles into their lungs as it travels down their nostrils and into their airways.
      You need only look at how a horse eats every day in a field to understand why this evolutionary trait has remained in their genetic make up. They eat grass from the ground, which can often be dusty or dry in warmer months. With the ability to drain any dust that goes up their nose simply by the use of gravity, they are conserving energy. That said, they do not have any other way to loosen debris from their airways other than to cough. Coughing has a whole new can of worms that can cause damage to your horse, and it uses up valuable energy! Moral of the story; feed your horse on the ground.

      My next post will be about how our feeding structure and hay nets have helped our skinny minnies put on the pounds without an excess in sugary feeds and concentrates; as well as how they have put on muscle and started to gleam inside and out!

Until then, much love!

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