Friday, November 20, 2009

Sherman's Rehab Plan

One of TREES facebook fans (Thanks, Michelle!) asked if we would share Sherman's diet plan.

Our reply:

"Oh, sure! Before he got here, Sherman was obviously not getting much to eat, let alone getting a good diet. When he did get anything in addition to some hay, we were told it was an inexpensive general livestock grain. Usually that means a lot of whole oats, whole corn and other whole grains that an older horse can't chew and, therefore, can't digest. When he got here, he'd had very serious diarrhea for some time.

For his first meal, he got half a flake of grass hay. No senior feed right then. At the next meal, he was offered 2 cups of Triple Crown senior feed, soaked, then another half flake of hay. (He is given senior feed in four small meals during the day.) The next day, we gave him a whole flake of hay at a time since he didn't seem to be wolfing it down. On the third day, we began slowly increasing the portion of senior feed and introducing small handfuls of soaked alfalfa cubes.

The only thing we added to the hay and senior feed to this point was some ProBios. In general, unless recommended by the vet, we try not to introduce a lot of new things to a gut that's already in an uproar. After about 5-6 days, the diarrhea was more of an intermittent problem rather than a constant issue, then we figured out that some of the hay had clover in it and that seemed to be what he was sensitive to.

We eliminated the clover and started adding Accel (thank you, Dover Saddlery!) to two meals a day since it contains probiotic ingredients. That seemed to do the trick, and though Sherman occasionally has softer manure than normal, its still well formed and not a major concern at this point.

Right now, Sherman is eating four meals a day, each consisting of 2-1/4 qt of senior feed and 1-1/2 qt of alfalfa, free choice grass hay and Accel 2x/day. Since he does still have some soft manure now and then, we're going to be very cautious introducing him to grass. We'll probably continue to increase his feed portions until he's getting 3 quarts 4x/day and maintain that diet until he regains the weight he needs.

Keep in mind that this is a customized Sherman Rehab Plan. We have a general outline we follow for each horse, but the details are always different."

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