Friesian stallion growth question- supplement/nutrition/deficiency confusion! Help!

Hi all,

I hope there are some Friesian owners/trainers/breeders on here who have experience with these late bloomers. Long story-sorry- I have a 5yr old stallion, Teade/Thomas, who I brought home at around 10mos. old. I thought he was small. Transporter said she didn’t think he was small at all and that he was bigger than a couple 2 yr olds she’s hauled for Medieval Times, and also that many Anton-lined colts were late growers and didn’t reach 16hh sometimes. I wasn’t worried about it- he is purely for pleasure and companionship. Breeder had him on Grow Colt (he recommended I keep him on that for at least a year) and a small amount of Strategy. Breeder is a vet. I continued that diet, as breeder suggested, giving him less and less Strategy as time wore on, supplementing him lightly with area-appropriate vitamin supplements (based on what our hay was lacking). He was always outside, free access to barn 24/7, on pasture (average- not great pasture grass or anything) and mostly grass hay with a touch of alfalfa in the winter blends.

I kept him at home with me until he was 2yrs old when let’s just say, life turned totally upside down- combination of serious illness and several other really-bad-luck family circumstances. My best friend took him home with him (out of state) so I wouldn’t have to sell him. He was 14.2 when he left. Not only did I not have the money to board him locally, but I wanted him monitored by someone I trusted and I didn’t want him stalled-no one would board a stallion in the manner he was used to living.

For the last 2.5 years, I have only seen him 3 times. :frowning: It’s a 10 hour drive each way. I just saw him 2 weeks ago and was thinking he should be taller. I started analyzing how he was being kept, and now I’m really nervous that we’ve screwed him up royally. He is in a nice-sized dirt lot by himself, access to the barn to come and go as he pleases, so he gets lots of human attention, but he can’t get to the other horses (friend has 2 mares).

He’s fat (not too fat) and shiny and is being fed whole, high quality oats, and very good quality grass hay, all he can eat. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so much wasted hay…he is not kept hungry. However, seeing him short still (he’s barely 15hh!) made me analyze what he could be lacking and I’m scared that he’s missed out on protein, calcium, ph., lysine, etc. from not being fed a complete feed, not being on pasture, and only eating grass hay and oats. I know they can grow late…but he’s 5! And he was 14.2 when he left at 2.5yrs old! That, to me (admittedly inexperienced in horse growth) says something is lacking.

I did a lot of research and just ordered a bag of Buckeye Gro n Win and paid stupid money to have it shipped down there. Is there something else I can do/should be doing to squeeze whatever growth he may have left out of him? For those not familiar with those particular bloodlines, they’re not huge- he’s not expected to be 16.3 or 17hh. His dam was 15.2 and Teade is 16.1. I know he’d be taller if I’d gelded him very young. But shouldn’t he be his dam’s height at least? Have we really hurt him?! I feel terrible that my personal issues may have inadvertently hurt him in any way. My friend is very experienced, but not with Friesians. He was past the age when Quarter horse folks worry that much about growing colt nutrition, apparently.

Sorry so long but I’m hoping I’ll get some reassurance that it’s not the end of the world, he may grow yet given the chance, or someone will be able to tell me a success story and how they did it. Sorry for the length. :sadsmile:

Sometimes they just don’t grow no matter how you feed them.

I had a QH mare that was that way. Her parents were 15+, saw her sister that was a year older than her and she was 15+, bought the mare as a yearling and she barely made it to 14.2. We fed her great and she had every opportunity to grow.

On the other hand I bred to a Friesian and got a sport horse filly. Both parents were 16.1, filly finished out over 17 hands. Don’t have a clue where that height came from and she was pasture kept with local made non foal feed… so I wasn’t ‘over doing’ the nutrition.

If your guy is fat and shiney and 5 I doubt he’s been stunted or has much growing left to do. They don’t have to have pretty grass pastures, good quality hay will do. I think at this point he may be done height wise.

Some horses are just short. Not all turn out to be the height of the parents. I used to ride Friesians, and some were short (though I’m thinking they were in the 15 hand range? Never sticked them myself). I doubt nutrition played a huge roll, as it sounds like he’s never lacked access to food, and most Friesians are easy keepers. At this point there’s not much you can do except stay on top of what he’s eating in the future. A ration balancer like Grow n Win is good, but you don’t want him to get fat (or fatter). I would replace the oats with the RB and see if you can’t get a small hole hay net to slow down (and not waste) the hay. Grow n Win is also not the only RB out there. Most feed companies make one; you should be able to find one stocked and not pay to ship.

Purina Enrich 32, Nutrena Empower Balance, Tribute Essential K, Triple Crown 30, to name a few.

Lastly, why is he still a stallion? Can he not be gelded so that he can be with other horses, graze, and possibly be moved closer to you? He’d probably be so much happier.

So you don’t think eating nothing but grass hay and oats and being on dirt (point being, difference in protein levels between grass hay and pasture) the last 2.5years has had any affect? I can’t believe that between 2 and 5 he has only grown from 14.2 to 15hh…I mean, I’d be happy to believe that we’ve done nothing wrong, but my research on the needs of a growing horse tell me otherwise.

I know that they’re slow growing and many owners have noted fairly significant (couple inches) height growth after 5, so I want to operate under the idea that he COULD still grow and make sure he has the proper nutrition, should that happen. I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t want to assume he’s done and not worry so much about proper nutritional balance for growth.

I can’t remember where, but I read that the key things missing in a growing horse who looks fat and shiny on oats are lysine and calcium, which affect growth…? I admit- I’m paranoid and probably reading too much!

I appreciate your response. Thanks!

Just saw the other response. Sorry.

He can be kept with geldings. He’s an escape artist. He doesn’t lack pasture so much for being a stallion as he does being an escape artist. The way they’re set up there, his pen is the only secure enough one for him to be in. He also doesn’t prefer the company of other horses. He has access to them over the fence and is really not interested. He is ridden in the pasture with them and again, not interested. I kept him with my geldings and my mini (who is also a stallion) and he really kept to himself, or escaped (he knows that with all that hair, electric can’t hurt him if he hits it just right) and I’d find him right outside my door in the morning. He isn’t trying to escape to cause trouble, he simply wants to be close to people. I spoiled him as a baby, I guess. He was so cute and sweet that I let him wander the yard with me. :o. The only fencing that works is heavy metal and their pasture is huge and only electric tape. He much, much prefers the company of humans. I’ve never had another quite like him.

He’s not too fat, I don’t think, I just meant that he’s not stunted in a too-skinny and obviously deprived kind of way. I’ll upload some pics and edit this post to include a link to the online album- you guys can tell me what you think.

His barn is attached to their apartment and he will bang on the fence and shake the whole building for food and/or attention. If there’s a child around and other horses around, he’ll choose to investigate the child every time. If he seemed unhappy or lonely in any way, and had I not had him with other horses early on, I’d consider gelding him, but as a rule, I leave things the way nature intended unless there’s a medical reason not to. I don’t have anywhere to put him right now and I’m not going to geld him just so I can pay to board him with strangers instead of leaving him at my best friend’s. There are no openings where my other boys are boarded. Besides…he was not a happy camper when he was kept with them before. He was HARD to get back into the pasture when he’d get loose. He would just freeze and refuse to walk in. They were older, a little bossy, but no one ever really picked on him. My boys are 23 and 18 and harmless.

I’m picky picky picky about food quality for my animals- I don’t like the quality of a lot of horse feeds and Gro n Win has been recommended by a few people I trust and I’d rather pay to ship it than give him something of lesser quality, and it seems that when you do the math, the quantities are greater that you’d have to feed of the other brands, so the $ seems to be about equal. However, if someone’s had good luck with another, I’m certainly open to suggestions! That’s why I’m here!

My friend is going to make him a small pasture pen so he can get more grazing time in without him having to be outside with him.

I truly appreciate the thoughts! Thank you.

It might just be genetics at play here. I know a few awesome stallions that are in the 15-15.3 range. But, definitely get him a balanced food like complete feed or something in the interim instead of oats. I don’t think you’ve screwed him up royally, it sounds like you did a good job when your life was in turmoil, cut yourself some slack. :slight_smile:

Ration balancers are all designed to be fed at 1 lb, so you wouldn’t have to feed more to get the same nutrition as the Grow n Win. Some companies have a better name than others, but all RBs are pretty much the same since they’re so condensed. Just protein and vit/mins. Tribute, for example is formulated by people who used to work for Buckeye.

Thanks, Megaladon, for the kind words!

RedMare, I’m not familiar with Tribute. I’ll look into it. I have looked all over, including this site and it seemed that Gro n Win was the go-to product for those who had access to it. At a pound per day, it’s only about $1.00/lb including shipping. I’m not wealthy (ha ha, understatement) but he’s certainly worth that. I think I paid $18.00 shipping and $31.00 for the 50lb bag.

This is him, 2 weeks ago. I don’t see him as too heavy, and to me, he still looks a tad young…?

I wasn’t trying to sound snippy earlier. Sorry if that’s how I came across.

My Friesian sport horse mare/filly only grew about 4" after her 2yo year. So your guy would be pretty right on track with her growth since he was smaller as a 2 yo. She was 16+ on her 2yo b-day.

I’m not a big fan of straight oats so I don’t think you can do any harm in feeding him a ration balancer. I do agree that you could probably find something at the local feed store instead of having it shipped.

After looking at his pictures I still think he’s about done growing. His legs fit his body, he is filled out. I like him, he’s cute and put together well and I’d never think he was ‘short’ by looking at pictures. My gelding is a ‘curvy’ cow pony and sticks at 14.2 but looks like he’s well over 15 hands, and moves like a large horse. It’s all about proportions.

Just scrolled through your photobucket pics and I think I saw a pic of him as a long yearling/2 yo? out with 2 chestnut/sorrel geldings? If that’s a younger pic of your guy I still am going with he’s just genetically small. Comparing that pic to the recent pics he seems to have grown pretty evenly and correctly.

Also love the GSD pics. I’ve always wanted one.

SY, I didn’t think you were snippy.

I’m 10 hours away from him…I’m trying to minimize the PITA factor for my friend and shipping to his door certainly accomplishes that. I try to make it easy for him- I don’t want him going out of his way to take care of MY horse…for almost no money. The nearest dealer that sold Buckeye is over 50 miles away, and Tribute was 247 miles away. He and his mom have done me a HUGE favor keeping him all this time, though they do like having him around. They’re performance QH people (roping, cutting, reining)- he doesn’t seem small to them. They never thought he could be lacking something by the way he looks. He’s the only Friesian most people in that area have ever seen. No frame of reference.

I fully admit I tend to obsess over my animals, and the added guilt of having him so far away I think adds to it…makes me feel like I’ve automatically neglected him. I am not upset if he’s done growing, so much as upset that he may not have been and he was deprived of the necessary components for optimum growth. I bought him for ME, and honestly, he’s turned out to be a far nicer animal than I expected. He was the most hideous, sorry-looking, long-haired, shetland-pony-looking yearling you’ve ever seen!!! LOL

Edited-just saw your post. Yes, I’m not sure what you were looking at, but that has to be him. Wasn’t he awful looking? :wink: This is him the summer I got him. He was a yearling. He was born 6-24-08 and this was about early May-ish of 09.

He’s lovely. He may grow a little more or he may just be short. Giving him feed designed for growing babies isn’t going to change that now. I think what he has been getting is alright. He looks great.

Ha! I love the yawning pics. To me, he does look like he is done growing–I remember a six year old that I rode that didn’t seem to grow much from when I seen him as a four year old. He’s very nice looking too by the way.

I’m not giving him anything for “babies” I didn’t think?? I thought Gro n Win was a ration balancer for lots of types of horses…

Thank you both. I think he’s pretty, but I’m a bit biased. :wink:

So, I have two young Clydes. Owned both from an early age. Both on Alfalfa and Bermuda, mostly Bermuda, and some oats when they were really young. Both from HUGE parents (18hh+). The three year old is 15.3 and her growth has slowed dramatically, if not stopped. The 18 months old has already overtaken the 3 years old and continuing to grow at a fair pace.

So, sometimes even with big sire and dam, they just turn out to be small.

The main difference between pasture and grass hay is moisture content, not protein.

Ghazzu, am I crazy then for swearing I read that the protein content of fresh pasture grass is quite a bit higher than grass hay? Reading that was part of what scared me and started my research, which only made it worse, lol. I only look on credible sites…university medical data and such and I think it was Oregon State’s site that detailed the deficiencies in feeding a young horse oats and hay only.

I’d be happy to find that I’m crazy, and that’s not what they’ve determined.

Speaking from experience babies can make any woman a little crazy… I know I’ve tested the patience of my SO multiple times when dealing with my (grown and young) horses. I don’t have kids so my horse craziness may be slightly magnified, the SO’s friends tried to warn him about horse women… thankfully he didn’t listen.

I also know how you feel regarding the boarding and feeding guilt/issues. No one takes care of our horses the way we would take care of them. But it’s obvious he is in good hands and is well taken care of, you have very good friends.

Here is mine as a yearling.
And a 3 year old.
She was out of a tb/ trakehner mare and by a Friesian. Matured over 17 hands.

My Friesian filly looked like a moose for most of her baby life. Long legs and a huge head on a scrawny body, but she had the sweetest personality. You’re guy actually looks really nice as a baby.

I have older horses- they have their own sets of problems, but after raising a baby, I think the older ones are less worry! You’re just so paranoid about doing everything perfectly.

Salsa (cute name, too) is beautiful. I think she was beautiful as a yearling, too…if you think mine was, you’re obviously not looking at his winter pictures! Ha! It was nearly impossible to look at his gorgeous parents and think he’d someday look like that…but slowly but surely…he is!

He is in good hands. He’s so much better off there than in a boarding barn where he wouldn’t get that personal attention. I just long for the day when I’m back in the country and he can come HOME! Time flies- I can’t believe he just turned FIVE!!!

What Friesian is your girl out of? Anybody I’d know?

My baby as a baby…