That’s what the horse’s gut requires. Right now, in New Mexico, we are having some struggles with getting hay, affording hay, the quality of hay…
Since we base all the horses’ diets here on roughage and there is no pasture on this high desert, hay is our most vital component for health, for nourishment. Changing the equine diet suddenly is detrimental to gut health. The only way to avoid digestive disturbance is to have at least one consistent food given every day, religiously.
For us that was Bermuda hay. As a base it is a good choice here. It does not have to be trucked in from a great distance like Timothy and other (nicer) grass hays. It can be in front of the horses “free choice” because they will not over eat Bermuda hay. Up until recently, the quality had been outstanding, each bale the same as another with sweet aroma, soft strands of tender dry grass… our experience for several years.
Lately, we have been lucky to get bales with sticks and clods of dirt in them. We were buying our alfalfa through friends who brought it over from Arizona. The advantage to it over locally produced alfalfa hay was/is the hay is grown all year ’round and there isn’t a rush of nutrients as happens here for the first cutting in spring. Yesterday, I had to purchase 4 bales of local alfalfa for $88.00 to grind for Vega. He is worth it. But, we pulled out some pieces of plastic and I had to examine a couple of beetles (they were not blister beetles) from it. It can drive you bonkers.
We got through a relatively harsh winter on beautiful grass hay donated by loving friends! We had some giant bales (one ton bales) also partly donated, partly purchased by us. It spoiled us! The struggle to unload such big bales and to chainsaw them in to manageable “flakes” was well worth it because the quality was so high.
Of course, all of that has been fed… used up by the first of this month.
So, now I search for a source of the beardless wheat hay I bought last spring that sustained the horses’ good health all by itself. It looks like, come May, there will some affordable beardless (touch wood). Last year, the monthly hay cost was between $1,000 and $1,200. To be able to buy enough hay for 6 months would be a wise and wonderful thing… to gather $7,000 in donations to do so has not been our reality – we’ve been excited to get enough donations on a month by month basis!
Then there is bran, linseed meal, herbs, salt, etc. etc. Not to mention the stress financially of needing X rays or dental work on one of the horses…
So, something we depend on is a grass hay that we can base the horses’ rations upon consistently, day in, day out. We depend upon donors who provide the funds to buy the hay. We depend upon each other to drive to get the feed, unload it, secure it from the weather, feed it… so far, Mark and I pay for all the petrol to do these things. Dharmahorse does not have enough money to cover it and while we barely do, we believe in this Sanctuary.
So, something we depend on, above all else is each other. And that makes everything else possible.