Friday, December 11, 2009

The Difference Between Cob and Draft or "Super Size"

Other than the obvious... size...


Not just the amount of food a heavy draft like Rosie consumes but the type. When I decided a draft horse was for me I did a bit of research but more which breed would be more tolerable to mistakes. Which breed is hardy. Which is more calm then the others etc.

I never thought about muscle or neurological disorders. Or how diet effects that. When some one sees an under weight draft they immediately think starvation case. While sometimes this is the case I found out that most cases are from EPSM. Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy has been found in all draft horse breeds. It is a disease which effects the muscle in the horse it appears they are wasting away or "tying up". It is not age or purpose related.

So this brings me to my horses... I have a breeding stock paint mare (Bonnie) and Belgium\Percheron cross (Rosie). Bonnie is 14.2 HH and Rosie is 16.5 HH (last measured in July). Bonnie is what is called an "easy keeper" she gets fat just looking at food. Rosie.... She's a bit easier to maintain but I've made major changes in how and what I feed.

Because I want to avoid ESPM at all costs with Rosie I immediately made steps to get her off 12 % sweet feed and on to the EPSM diet. All studies show that feeding EPSM diets will reduce the risk of it. So....
In search of low sugar and starch feed was on. Challenge was finding it at a low cost. I wasn't able to find anything really that I was impressed with. I mean come-on I'm feeding a DRAFT horse! After much investigation I decide to go with straight oats with oil and all the hay/grass she can eat. She gets supplements for minerals she needs etc. This means her calories come from oil instead of sugars and starches.

I decided to put Bonnie on the same diet and I've been able to manage her weight much easier. I was impressed and so far it's working very well for us.

There will be more on this topic later. For now I'm going to go have fun with my husband. His band is playing tonight at one of my favorite places!


  1. I never knew that about Draft must be pretty knowledgable. I hope you do avoid the ESPM -- Sounds dreadful....Hope you had a fun time listenign to your husband's band. My brother had a band that plays in northern I can relate!

  2. With both the Percherons and now my Fjords---grass hay, grass hay, grass hay. No grain. No sweet feed. I do feed a mineral supplement from Patriot because I am not sure they have the nutritional needs met with the hay and the mineral block. So far, so good. The damn QH is the PITA, so he has the alfalfa and is put on Omelene in about February or he is a poster child for a neglect case by the end of March. He is the only horse besides the thirty-year-old Walking Horse that is hard to keep!

  3. We've got two horses who have EPSM and they are doing much better since their change of diet. Still it was challenging to find the right combination of supplements and feed to help them.

  4. My guy (who is technically a pony, but I try to feed him like a draft horse since the breed clearly has a LOT of draft blood) is on all the grass hay he can eat with a small amount of processed feed and some alfalfa cubes. I'm aiming for a diet close to the EPSM diet, but there is some research that indicates the lysine in alfalfa helps prevent an issue common in feathered drafts (and sometimes present though less common in non-feathered drafts) called "chronic progressive lymphedema". So I want that alfalfa in there, plus it adds a bit more long fiber to his diet.

  5. Regina - it's definitely been a learning process which is still going on. My knowledge is with Arabians and they are a story all their own!

    phaendra - hay hay and more hay and even more hay! I'm with you there. I added the oats and oil as Rosie is just 5 years old and has not reached adult weight yet.

    Grey Horse - I'd love to know your diet for your EPSM horses.

    WarPony - Brego being a Gypsie is hardier then most drafts when it comes to muscle or neurological disorders, at least according to what I've read. Just skin issues under all that hair!


Happy Trails!