We have taken them slowly through the re-feeding process, starting with just what they were getting for hay when they came to us and slowly increasing that to the full amount required. Horses need between 2–4% of their body weight in hay. Our flakes are about 5 pounds each so since Stevie needs to be around 900 pounds to be at full weight he requires 18–36 pounds of hay, Lacey requires 13–26 pounds per day. In our big 3 string bales of Eastern Washington Timothy hay, at 5 pounds a flake, Stevie will need 4–8 flakes a day and Lacey with 3–6 flakes. From what we estimated, Stevie and Lacey were sharing around 10 pounds of hay per day. It is clear why these two were not thriving and why they both were so thin. For the last 3 weeks we have been increasing their hay a small amount every other day and soaking it for 30 minutes rinsing off extra sugar as they adjust to getting more hay and preventing them from colic.
They were allowed to start a simple vitamin that covered the basic needs and contains the selenium that our Washington hay is lacking. They also were allowed access to the salt mineral block in their stalls right away and of course access to clean water 24 hours a day. Lacey was found many times chewing on her mineral block, a very good indicator that she was in need of them and had not been getting them before coming to SAFE. After working to the full amount of hay and slowly transferred them to dry un-soaked hay, we could begin adding a mash. This week they are begin to get a mash 2x a day to add more calories into their diets. Since they are so thin they simply can’t eat enough hay in one day to recover from their starvation. The mash helps them get more calories while they recover and this too is added slowly over the next few weeks. They will maintain on free choice hay and 2–3x per day mashes until they are up to weight. Then for some time after that as we slowly start them into work as to not slide backwards in their recent weight gain. They will ALWAYS need 2–4% their body weight in hay. Depending on the level of work a horse is in the 2% in the minimum needed to be at weight. This can fluctuate depending on how much grazing time they are able to get in summer month but is a good rule of thumb.