The trouble with dry lots…
Dry lots can be a great tool to keep your air fluff from having a laminitic attack.
They come with their own challenges that many owners do not consider or are not aware of.
1.The terrain in most dry lots is flat with nothing to step over or climb. This makes your horse not use vital elements of their body, such as the thoracic sling….
*Solution- incorporate hill work and trot poles into your daily riding schedule. Build mounds in your dry lot and put obstacles they have to step over to get to hay or water or both.
2. The footing in dry lots is often soft, if not down right muddy. The hoof will start to adapt to this and the bottom will not be as tough so trail riding may make your pal ouchy. Also mud can lead to thrush issues.
*Solution-use Bluestone etc as your dry lot footing. Put appropriate rocks around your water trough. Use antibacterial/antifungal on your hooves as part of your grooming routine.
3. Horses need Omega 3. Omega 3 does not stay stable in hay. Grass is traditionally the best source of Omega 3 for equines, followed by a solid grain choice. Neither of these are usually what our tubby chubbies can have. Lack of 3 will unbalance the hooves and the horse’s immune system.
*Solution- use a non iron ration balancer for these guys. This will also provide the zinc and copper that is very important for equine function. Also provide a good quality, free choice loose mineral And salt in their lot. Not a red mineral block.
4. Your horses get bored and hungry while being dry lotted. Horses were designed to roam and pick food at least 20 hours per day. Bored and hungry leads to ulcers.
*Solution-work out a slow hay feeder for your pal. Whether that be a swinging slow feed hay net, (or a series of them) several rolling hay balls, one of the slow feeder bins… something to let her have a trickle of forage over several hours.This will keep the stomach from producing great quantities of acid.
5. Dry lots tend to harbor more parasites because they are smaller areas and the horses tend to stay in a favorite place fairly constantly.
*Solution- pick your dry lot manure up frequently. Also drag the surface to expose the parasitic eggs better. If possible keep your pal from eating off the ground.
6. If your dry lot is composed of sand, it may be getting ingested. This could lead to sand colic.
*Solution-put rubber mats or roughened concrete pads under your hay stations. Use the simple sand test to check for sand in your horse’s system periodically.
7. Dry lots tend to make horses push the boundaries more, so they eat things they normally wouldn’t that could be harmful to them
*Solution-eliminate all poisonous plants/trees near your dry lot. These include red maples, wild cherry trees and acorns. While acorns are not technically poisonous they are full of iron and can tip your horse over into a laminitic attack. Make sure your fences are sturdy and high enough.
If you dry lot your hefty Haflinger, etcetera kudos to you for caring enough to take those precautions on his behalf. Hopefully this article will help you keep your pal in tip top shape