Friday, January 4, 2019

What About Pig?

We can't forget this pretty boy!
A ton of people have asked me about Pig after I announced Bast's move. While Pig did stay at the old farm, he did have some important changes to his every day routine.

See, Pig has been on field board since I moved him here last November. At this farm, field board is very basic. It does not include feed or blanket changes (except in emergency or drastic weather changes). There is also no shelter in the fields, only a tree line and hills.
Pictured, the sheltering tree line.
When I moved Pig here, this wasn't a big deal. He had been on field board for the last 8 years, and has always been tough as nails. He eschews shelter and hates blankets. He almost never was cold and drinks very well. He was also a pasture puff, fat on the glorious grass pastures of the Maryland area.

Then this year happened.
No longer an easy keeping pasture fluff.
First he came down with a tick borne fever last winter. While that resolved easily, I've begun to wonder if it messed with his internal thermometer. Like most chestnuts I've known, Pig has always had a body temperature similar to that of the blazing sun. He would never, ever, get cold. But this year, I have found him multiple times standing in the field shivering in a warm rain. Each time it's taken whole meals of hay/hay pellets to warm him up, as well as fleece coolers and rub downs. When Pig is cold he's a giant asshole, too. So the whole process of warming him up is obviously extremely pleasant ... not.
The amount of rain we've had this year has made this occurrence way too common for my liking.
Also, Pig started losing weight and experiencing issues relating to nutritional deficiencies this spring and summer. I ended up needing to drive out the barn every day to feed him an increased diet of grain, beet pulp, alfalfa, and ration balancer to keep his health good. The pasture quality is not great, fine for the draft crosses and heavier breeds he shares with, but really detrimental for him.

I had his teeth done and blood drawn looking for reasons his coat, hoof, and general condition were failing. All tests came back normal, indicating only that he needed more fiber and calories in his diet.
So much time this year has been spent watching this old man slowly finish his grain. Slowly. So slowly. He is the slowest.
All year I flirted with the idea of moving him somewhere with better pasture. Still, my finances weren't there and his location close to home and with Bast made visiting him regularly work out fine. I knew with the advent of winter round bales he wouldn't rely on my feedings any longer.
All this to say, he did quite well through the late summer and autumn, gaining back much of his lost weight and characteristic bright coat.
Once my move with Bast came together, I started thinking about Pig. Was now the time to move him? Instead I decided to try to keep his stress levels as low as possible for the winter, and possibly save myself some stress as well. 
Dusty, big bellied, lacking all topline, but not doing too bad. Also, notice how clean he is? I haven't touched him with a grooming implement in months. He just naturally abhors mud and stays clean. I wish he would teach that skill to Bast.
I asked the barn manager about moving Pig into Bast's vacated stall for the winter. This way he would get fed regularly as much as I needed, without me always needing to come and do it. With my schedule picking up, this is a huge time saver for me.

The same day Bast moved to the fancy barn, Pig moved into the stall.
"I iz inside. Plz send help."
So far he seems to be adjusting pretty well. The fact that it was pouring down chilly rain on the night he moved in probably helped him stay happy in there. I figure his stall will be a horrible pit for at least the first month. He has always been a big drinker and continues to believe in peeing non-stop in his stall. I don't miss cleaning up his messes at shows.
Bast and I miss spying on the old man during rides.
I'm hoping to get him back to field board over the summer, but am still unsure where I will put him. I worry that too much time standing in a stall will negatively affect his, already failing, soundness. For now, Pig is a stalled horse again. Meanwhile I am paying out the nose for my boys to live in luxury, and trying to enjoy my newfound ability to stay home and clean my house every once in awhile.
Love you, old man.
Anyone else make decisions for your horses that might cost more but are overall less stressful for all involved?

10 comments:

  1. Taking care of old horses is definitely a test sometimes. P is currently battling diarrhea and has me quite worried. Stampede for the most part always has many issues at once but we battle on either way. I hope this change works well for the handsome Pig!

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    1. Oh no P! Diarrhea is no good!! Pig and Stampede are kinda alike. I feel like there's always something with Pig I could obsess and worry over, but I stopped doing that long ago and he's still alive. #accidentproneandarthritic

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  2. Irish has driven me bonkers over the years. That is the advantage of having him home- I can monitor his intake. Every winter I’ve supplemented with alfalfa cubes and beet pulp. This year I’m trying out a Fibre Nugget that is mostly beet pulp. he’s cleaning it up and looks great. I also added in lysine and that seems to help him get the benefit of his feed. Being able to move is so critical for these old guys.

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    1. It's so critical. I'm monitoring him to see if the stall time is negatively affecting him more than missing a few meals. Luckily this place only keeps the horses in during the dark hours. They have the most turnout of any barn in the area!

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  3. I wondered when I saw the IG photo of Pig in a stall. I am glad you did that. So he goes out days or what now? I think it is good for him to be stalled. I agree maybe in the summer you can let him back out fulltime but as he gets older...it feels good knowing they (pig and bast both) are both tucked in when the weather is horrid!! right?? I know I sleep better knowing my guys are tucked in when it is cold rain and ice. OF coutse both mine are PIGS in the stalls too. UGH but Remus (even tho he is only going to be 16 this year) has def changed with the cold temps. he used to be tough as nails. I have him sheeted/blanketed most of the time under 50 here due to how damp and wet it has been. I went out once and he was shivering (it was not that cold but it was wet) and that was it. No more:)

    Having horses at home you would think would be cheaper but with the stall supplies and the extra hay and beet pulp it hasnt been. But it still beats paying two full boards in DC area ;) I do not envy you! I look forward to more Bast and Pig adventures :)

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    1. Haha yes! Paying for two in DC makes looking for horse property seem smart. 🤣🤣 That's how they get you, right??

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  4. Oh, senior horses. they do like to put us on emotional and logistical roller coasters.

    I board at the most expensive barn in the area, by far, because I know the care there is exceptional. I don't even think twice about not going out one evening if I don't have to. They're fantastic. Right now, it's worth it for me.

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  5. Seniors can be tough to manage, esp when the seasons change and we have to re-contemplate their feeding regime once again. Pig is lucky to have you though - such a good mom to be so on top of his bodily changes and needs!

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  6. My baby horse that was supposed to grow up on cheap board is now boarded at the most expensive barn in our area, due to some similar issues to yours where she just wasn't happy and needed some further turnout and groceries. Meanwhile, the one I ride lives at the cheap place with no amenities and is thriving - backward to what I'd intended :)

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  7. Pasture board out here in CA basically means a dry lot. And huge bales of hay aren't really a thing either. They basically get fed like horses in stalls. I'd love to put my old man out in a pasture because movement is so good for them but we don't really have that option.

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