Question: Do you have any suggestions towards maintaining an easy keeper’s weight while on stall rest? My mare is an air fern, and she is unfortunately on strict stall rest for at least 3 – 4 months. I would like to be able to keep hay in front of her to keep her occupied and keep her digestive system moving. However, I know she will gain a fair bit of weight during this time if I do this.
Dr. Harman: One of the greatest inventions in the horse world are slow hay feeders. Search the internet for designs that would fit in your situation and with her personality. Some can be placed on the floor, which is the most natural, but if she plays with it too much and gets caught in it, you may be best with one that hangs on the wall. Try to hang it as low as possible and still be safe from getting a foot caught in it. Using one of these feeders can help keep hay in front of her, but will limit intake and keep her busy all day.
Supplements can be used to help her insulin and carbohydrate metabolism. Most “air fern” type easy keepers are either insulin resistant or will likely become that way. Simple additions like Flax, Chia or hemp seeds can be added, at about 8 oz per day. OB Formula (Harmany Equine Products) is a balanced formula that helps control weight. Do not use formulas that contain cinnamon, since that is a warming herbs and can increase heat or inflammation in many horses. It is useful for certain horses, but not most and is being added to many products.