The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

George is Still Worried About Food

Today, I took George out to graze again.

He is once more giving off an aura of raw vulnerability. I really don't feel I can approach and touch him except on his head. His defensiveness has returned, brought on, I believe, by the onset of winter weather and a fear of starvation.

My husband was out with us, chatting with me. At one point he was heading towards George's hindquarters, about eight feet off - not actually intending to go towards George, but going in that direction by happenstance. George stiffened and pinned his ears. Oh my!

As I did yesterday, I practiced occasionally  asking George to stop eating, raise his head, and be quiet beside me. The first couple of times he was pissed off. He really wanted to nip me. Then he turned his head away and tried to walk into me with his shoulder. I avoided getting annoyed, and persisted. He quieted fairly quickly.

The third time, I thought I would really just ask and not tell. I kissed to him as usual, and tugged gently on the lead rope, but waited for him to respond when he chose. It took a few moments, but he did stop grazing, and quite kindly brought his head towards me.

The fourth time took longer and was a little grudging, but he didn't get angry, and he stood quietly in a resigned sort of a way for a moment, until I invited him to eat again.

I don't understand what's going on with the horses' eating habits. The grass is down to bare bones, but they're not finishing their hay. It's the same hay they've been getting all along, and they start out eating enthusiastically when it first appears, but they soon lose interest and wander off to pick at the meagre grass. A couple of weeks ago, they were inhaling three bales a day between them. I wonder if the new feed I'm giving them is actually filling them up quite well. I've gone from giving pelleted feed to a much larger portion of non-molasses beet pulp and chopped forage. We switched a couple of weeks ago at least, but I wonder if it's taken this long for the extra nutrition to really make itself felt ... ?

With George in this don't-touch-me mood, I was happy to hear that while I was out, my daughter had taken him out, saddled him up, put one of her friends on him for a walk around the fields, and that he had comported himself in a gentlemanly manner throughout. Go figure.


  1. I was wondering if there is something in the grass (that there isn't in hay) that they need now when growing winter coats and keeping themselves warm..? Just a thought.

  2. Hi, Jen-ska - yes, you might be right about that. I'll have to try and find out.

  3. I started Minnie and Cassie on unmolassed beetpulp 10 days ago and they are now getting a scoop in the morning and a scoop in the evening mixed in with the rest of their feed. They are definitely eating less hay at the moment, so I think you're right. Adding the beetpulp is filling them up more and it must be doing a good job at keeping them warm too.

  4. That's interesting, Sandra, that you're experiencing the same thing with the beet pulp. It's also an economical way to fill them up.

    Our feed store temporarily ran out of the unmolassed kind, and I know they're going to be disappointed when we switch back again!

  5. Sandra, do you feed 1 scoop dry, or 1 scoop soaked?

    Another thing I like about this way of feeding is that Chloe can get a decent portion instead of just a token handful.

  6. Yes, it's nice if they can get a decent bucket!

    I feed them 1 scoop soaked morning and evening. I think beet pulp is great. We had a very cold night last night and the fields were frozen, but Minnie and Cassie were not cold at all. No rugs!

  7. I'm feeding one scoop dry (but soaked, if you see what I mean) morning and evening. I'm short of hay, and it seems to be filling in the gaps nicely. I'm going to have to break down and buy hay sometime - ouch, this will be the first year that we don't have enough of our own. When we lived here before, we had another 3 or so acres in hay, which a farmer is using, and hopefully year after next, we'll get it back. Plus the extra-long drought this year meant I've been feeding hay since August.

    It's amazing how they keep warm, isn't it? Back in the day, when I put rugs on a couple of the horses, I used to put my hand underneath the rug and feel how warm it was in there and feel good about that. But I guess it wasn't really anything to feel good about. I still might put a rug on a very old horse though.