Ophie's mom wrote this post. Since I'm still waiting to hear from the vet, and thought I'd save my crazy dream for a later time I figured now was good enough time as any to post it!
Last week I nearly lost my shit in the barn aisle at the place where I
board my mare, Ophie. Why? Because some one asked me a deceptively
“Why is your horse so thin?”
First off, let’s be clear. She’s not a rack of bones: she’s got a
nice fat pad over her ass, her flank, her haunches, poochy little bits
on her chest. But, you can see her ribs.
There, alright, I said it. You can see my horse’s ribs. I could see
her ribs when I first got her two years ago, and yes, you can still
see them now. At no point – summer, winter, spring, in work or out -
have you ever been able to not see them. And it’s not something I’m
fully at ease with – which is why when some one asked me, “Why is your
horse so thin?” I heard:
“Why are you such a shitty horse owner?”
Why is she so thin? Because her metabolism is the love child of a
greyhound and Kate Moss. She eats (minimum): 5 flakes of hay, 4lbs of
beet pulp, 3lbs of low-carb, high-fat grain, 2 cups of oil, and a
vitamin/mineral supplement. I would feed her a partridge in a pear
tree too if I thought it would make a difference. Yes, I realize this
diet would make some horses feet fall off, but for her, this is just
for maintenance – god forbid if we actually wanted to build condition.
I know some of you out there are itching to share your weight and
condition building success stories. You’ve probably a favorite
supplement, but here is why I’m not going to add it to her diet:
Because I’m pretty sure she’s fine as is. And even though in a
perfect world I wouldn’t be able to see ribs, I’m prepared to live
with it. Because she’s shiny, happy, and energetic. Because she gets
her teeth done regularly, has no parasite load, and doesn’t have to
compete for food. Because she has beautiful, springy, well-digested
manure. Because her vet is happy with her condition. And okay,
yeah, our trainer critiques her musculature but she is a crazy
perfectionist and thinks Totilas “has room for improvement” too.
But, um, I didn’t say anything. And not just because I live in fear
of starting/being involved in barn drama. But because I also
volunteer at a horse rescue, and I’ve learned there that the horse
world is largely self-policing, and that there are a lot of people out
there who through ignorance let their horses get into all kinds of
shitty shape. Sometimes a horse is thin, or his feet are overgrown
not because of malice, but because his owner genuinely does not know
how to take care of him. Am I saying ignorance should excuse poor
treatment or abuse? Absolutely not. What I am saying is sometimes it
is a good idea to ask.
Hey, I notice your horse is losing weight pretty fast this winter –
are you worried?
Do you need a farrier recommendation?
Are you sure you want to put him up wet?
Could the girl at my barn have phrased it a little better – sure. But
ultimately, I’m glad I’m surrounded by people who are a little too
nosy rather that not nosy enough. Lord knows I made ridiculous, huge
mistakes when I first got my horse. And mostly, it’s been through the
guidance of my peers that I’ve become a better horse owner. So, I
guess I’m glad she asked me why my horse was so thin.
And come to think of it, if you have had really good luck with a
particular condition-building supplement, I guess I would like to hear
about that too.