The App has always been a hard keeper in the winter, it doesn't seem to matter how may 100's of pounds overweight I make him the App will still shiver and shake in the cold. Last year he was almost 250 pounds overweight and about 5 years ago the barn I was at made him over 300 pounds overweight to no avail. He shivered despite the barn owners insistence that he wouldn't if I "made him the proper weight for winter". No worries, the App has a whole wardrobe dedicated to him. Rain sheet, medium weight, heavy weight, quarter sheet, cooler, stable blanket, shoulder protector and more. Double blanketing is not uncommon for him, why double blankets? Because he still shivers with one blanket. So yeah, he has an entire wardrobe to choose from.
This past spring I had a fairly difficult time taking the winter weight off, I guess I chalk it up to good hay, and it took me until almost June to get him back down to the 980 pound mark. No worries I thought, this means it will be super easy to put it back on! In September I starting upping the App's grain and then increased his night hay to no avail, he was actually a little thin. Come October he was actually ribby so I increased his grain yet again and introduced hay cubes a few nights a week in addition to more hay. Come November I was starting to get concerned as the App wasn't gaining the weight I needed, it was getting cold and I had already had to start blanketing with his rain/wind sheet to keep him from shivering the weight off. Go figure.
When I was at the All American Quarter Horse Congress I was lucky enough to snag some good grain coupons and I talked to all of the reps about my old man. The Nutrena guy recommended Empower Boost as a high fat supplement plus their senior feed and the Purina guy recommended putting him on the new Senior Active feed. I had been putting off a grain switch hoping I wouldn't need to change things however due to the lack of progress I went 2 weeks ago and made my purchases. I got the Purina Senior (not Active b/c no one seems to carry it yet and it will be almost a dollar more expensive anyway) and since no one carried the Nutrena Empower Boost I bought beet pulp.
I introduced things fairly slowly, 1/2 scoop of hay cubes, 1/8 scoop of beet pulp, 1/4 scoop of Senior feed and 2/3 scoop of Omolene 500 (which is what the boys are currently on). That gives him about 4 pounds of grain a day plus significant hay and now hay cubes and beet pulp. Over the course of a week I bumped him to 1/2 scoop of hay cubes, 1/2 scoop of beet pulp and eventually 2/3 Senior feed and no Omolene. It is a pain to feed as I have to bring hot water to the barn and let the hay cubes and beet pulp soak for about 5 mins. It isn't too bad as my routine is that I pour the hot water on the cubes and pulp first thing and then do some chores and then get around to feeding. If I use cold water though? That stuff has to soak for at least 30 mins. As a result I have gone back into the house several times to get the hot water I had forgotten. If this is what I have to do to get the App where I need him then this is what I will do.
When I picked up my new bedding this weekend I found that store also carried the Empower Boost, YAY! I went ahead and picked up a bag to try it out and am now slowly adding it into his rations for an even higher fat content. I am pleased to announce the new feeding schedule is working and in more ways than one! The App has gained a good amount of weight since I started his feed change and has probably gained close to 50 pounds. I am quite pleased his weight is going up so well since I have been having such a difficult time.
The unexpected result is his better attitude, he isn't standing around with his ears back and he isn't being as much of a bully. I have had to do regular groundwork to get him to respect the person at the end of the lead rope, something I don't normally have to do, with removing the Omolene he has mellowed out a little more and it is a really nice change! He still pins his ears at the pony but I haven't seen any new scrapes on the pony so that can only mean he isn't being bullied as badly (pony has lots of scrapes from being bitten and having his coat removed). I can only assume it has to do with removing the extra sugar from his diet so I think I will bite the bullet and keep him on the Senior feed. It is even more expensive than the Omolene but if it also cures his behavior problems it will certainly be worth it.