SmartPak Monday Morning Feed: Ask the Vet, April Edition

Fan-submitted questions about grass hay versus alfalfa, sleep deprivation, coming off of stall rest, and more are all answered in this month’s fascinating Ask the Vet video, featuring SmartPaker Sarah and Dr. Lydia Gray!

It takes an insane amount of knowledge to work with horses. We’re not saying you need to start looking into vet school as a horse ownership pre-requisite, but just think about it — we regularly have to think about not only how to ride and handle horses, but the basics of nutrition, pasture management, injury prevention and treatment, basic anatomy and so much more.

Let’s all take a quick moment to pat ourselves on the back. And if you’re like me, it’s now time to accumulate more knowledge for your mental encyclopedia. You’ll never know when you might need to know some of this — or maybe it answers a question you were about to ask yourself!

Questions answered in this episode:

1. My kids love bathing their horse, a 15-year-old Paint Gelding, when the weather warms up. I wanted to ask if there is any pro or con to a horse getting bathed 3-4 times a week, and is there a “good” time the kids should bathe him (i.e., after a ride, after eating, before eating, etc.)?

2. Grass hay vs. alfalfa hay? Pros and cons of each? What is the biggest difference nutritionally?

3. Things to take note of when taking a horse off 8 months of stall rest? He had a leg fracture that has healed well enough to start turnout next month!

4. If circumstances require you to keep your horse stabled in an individual box stall most of the day, what are important features to look for in a barn that contribute most to a horse’s well-being? (e.g., stall with an outside window, being able to see other horses, number of feedings per day, etc.)

5. I’m hoping you can help to shed some light on a problem I’ve been coping with for about 6 years. I have a soon-to-be 27-year-old Trakehner. He has a 12×12 stall with shavings and he’s turned out for 8 hours a day. He’s an alpha personality in his herd. Here’s the problem: He frequently falls asleep while standing and then very nearly falls down. It’s very disturbing to see this and he will do it several times in an hour. He does this in his stall and during turnout. He’s never done it while under saddle or in cross ties, so I doubt it’s narcolepsy. He rolls Every. Single. Day in the pasture so I know he’s not afraid of getting himself back to a standing position. I wonder if this is sleep deprivation? If so, can I fix it? How can I keep him safe?

You can submit questions for our next episode on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, the SmartPak blog, Twitter or the form that you can find at You can also ask your questions anytime using hashtag #AsktheVetVideo. Bonus: if your question is voted into next month’s video, you win a SmartPak gift card!

Starting off your Monday right — full of new knowledge. Go forth and conquer that week, Horse Nation!

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