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I would like to introduce you to our Mariska. She was the very first baby born here. Mariska is kind of like the farm mascot, she is sweet, mischievousness and extremely smart. She is loved dearly, but tends to cause us many moments of frustration as she is pretty convinced that doors were made to be opened! And so she does open them and often! Mariska is the daughter of the amazing stallion Fietse 293 Preferent. He passed away in 2007.  Fietse was what we call the baroque type. Which means his body type is the more robust build of the classical Friesian. The modern, sport horse type is finer-boned. One thing that we have never called Mariska is "fine boned"! In fact we often call her fluffy, big boned, metabolically challenged, and Dons favorite one, she is not fat, she is just too short for her weight! Yes, we have a weight problem with Mariska, right now she is in foal and of course now she is eating for two! Having said that we seem to constantly be fighting the fluffy Friesian here at Misty Meadows. I am sure that many people, the vet included must think that we just feed them all day long as much as they could possibly eat, that is not however the case. So I ask you, am I alone in my frustrations with horses that seem to have been absent on the day God gave out the metabolisms to our equine friends? We have learned a lot since our first couple of years feeding Friesians. We have learned that as a breed they seem to be "easy keepers", but they also are extremely food motivated. We started out feeling that it was much safer to keep hay in front of them as much as possible to keep their stomachs healthy and to save on the fence boards. We have had to gradually cut back from the original 6 flakes a day down to 4 flakes. And back from the 1 lb of grain we feed them to 1 cup. The good news is the hay and grain last a lot longer, the bad news, they are still over weight. We know that horses like people need exercise and preferably every day, we are told that we should be exercising them 20 minuets a day or more.  Our horses are outside as many hours a day as there is sunlight so they do (self exercise) daily. But they need more. I do believe that consistent exercise is the key with any horse and possibly even more important to those that are easy keepers. Those of you that have indoor arena's won't have any problem with this. I however do not have one, and find any consistent riding is very difficult. The winters are long here in Michigan, the spring and fall is muddy, so even the outdoor arena is only usable a few months a year. We do a lot of trail riding in the summer and occasionally trailer to local arenas for a little winter exercise. This still does not seem to be enough and I find it hard to imagine cutting back to even less than 4 flakes. But we are going to make the commitment to shaving a few pounds from Mariska and getting her to a more healthy weight. Having excess weight is not only a problem when trying to breed your mares, but also puts stress on a mare during her pregnancy and while delivering a foal. This winter we will be following Mariska's progress here on my blog, through her weight loss and her pregnancy, right up to the birth of the foal. 


 We will start with weighing our hay....................            
 It is important to be able to measure the amount of hay we are feeding Mariska. Don and I find that our "flakes" are not always the same and not the best way to measure how much they are getting. Many small scales are available that can measure the weight of a hay bale. On average a bale of hay weights between 40 and 45 lbs. Once we know the approximate weight of our hay flakes, we can feed Mariska according to body weight. Just like other species, drastic diets are not healthy for horses. We will slowly decrease her feed.

Week 1-2 We will feed 2% of Mariska's current body weight. 

Week 3-4 We will feed 1.5% of Mariska's body weight.

Week 5 We will check to see if we have met our weight goal.   
  
Other challenges that you may have just like us are that we feed our horses all together and it is not possible to give them all different amounts of hay. Normally they are even together at night, having access to their stalls, but not locked into them. I may have to start to separate Mariska for at least one feeding to make this work. Also, an overweight horse does not need grain. But I have joint supplements and Thyroid medicine that Mariska needs, and don't know another way to give them without adding it to a small amount of grain. Even then it tastes yucky and needs some molasses to encourage her to consume it.  I will be ordering a joint supplement that is a pellet and will see if she will eat it without needing to add any grain. But for now, we feed 1 cup grain evening only. Wish us luck, and please do share any ideas or things that have worked for you. 


 


Comments

Kristi
01/22/2013 6:56am

Had a horse that did the same thing at horse shows. Let himself out and all his neighbors. The only thing that kept him in was baling wire twisted around the gate.

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:37am

Too funny! I can just imagine the chaos that he caused at the horse show with horses running a muck!! Bailing wire has many uses. Bet you were glad to have it then. :-)

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Debbie Ferris
09/06/2013 1:39am

Hi. Saw your Smart Horse video with some concern.
My ex husbands horse did that once and let all the horses get into the grain and they ate themselves to death. Literally

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erin
01/22/2013 12:44pm

Hi Sandy!
Love your website and your horses! Mariska looks like my Beatrix. Same baroque build. I call her my teapot. :D Beatrix is out of Bonne 341 and my Regina is out of Lukas 324. I just sold her foal out of Wander.
I'm looking forward to reading and seeing Mariska as she gets ready to foal.

Loved Mariska's video! LOL! They are such an intelligent breed!

Erin

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:40am

Hi Erin, I love how you call it her "baroque build" is that another name for fluffy, chubby, or chunky? :-) She sounds lovely, sounds like you have used some great stallions. I used Wander once also, love that boy too. They really are too smart for their own good sometimes.

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erin
01/27/2013 2:31pm

LOL, Beatrix is big boned, voluptuous.... :D She definitely doesn't have the sport or more modern build.

Charlie
01/22/2013 5:42pm

Thank you for this video. I guess I am not the only hungry one in captivity. I am 130 and long to be more, but, alas, no. They are constantly monitoring my food. Oh, I am not a horse, just a very large dog. Tho, oddly, people often say, he's big as a horse.

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:41am

Charlie, Mariska feels your pain, she really does not see the need for locked doors. Such a waste of time when she gets the munchies. :-)

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Sher_kirk@yahoo.com
01/23/2013 10:22am

What a cuteys patooty

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:42am

:-) Thanks!

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Cindy
01/23/2013 11:37am

We finally had to put a dog-chain snap on our gates to keep them closed. Our Shetland/Peruvian Paso kept getting out. Since she wants to please, I was able to teach her not to untie her lead rope.

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:43am

Awwww, that is so cute that she wants to please you enough to not untie her rope. Obviously, pleasing me is not a concern of Mariskas! Pleasing her belly is really all that matters. :-)

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Kristie Congram
01/23/2013 6:36pm

Not only beautiful but talented. She is amazing!

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:44am

Thank you Krisite, She continually amazes us too. :-)

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mark
01/24/2013 11:51am

what a clever critter. does she have any other tricks? does she notice music?

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:48am

Thanks Mark, not really tricks, although I am thinking of teaching her some tricks this summer. She would be really good at it, and obviously would be a quick learner. Will post if I can get her being clever that way.

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erika
01/24/2013 7:29pm

Thanks for giving me a smile today .......

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:48am

Ericka, your are very welcome! :-)

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Paz
01/25/2013 10:25pm

You Have a lovely horse, what a blessing!

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:50am

Paz, Thank you, yes she truly is, God is Good!

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Suzanne Kelly
01/25/2013 11:11pm

I loved watching your intelligent horse. My very first horse was very near like yours. Priceless !!!!! (The horse AND the behavior!)

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Sandy
01/27/2013 11:51am

Glad you enjoyed it Suzanne, Ahh so you know how tricky they can be?

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Deirdre Murnane
01/26/2013 7:42am

Love your site. I'm a huge Leffert fan myself. I just love him. He puts his stamp on all his foals and they're easy to spot. Clearly you favor him too.. I've studied the breed quite intensively and find them snot only beautiful but intelligent and noble too. I hope to own one myself someday. There aren't that many Friesian horses in Ireland but I have had the pleasure to meet and photograph a son of Anton 343 and assist in the birth of one of his grandsons who is from a non friesian mare. This same mare is in foal to this stallion again and due in July so i'm eagerly awaiting that birth also. I wish you the very best with your impending foal and look forward to seeing photographs of him/her..

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Sandy
01/27/2013 12:01pm

Thanks Deirdre, I do love Leffert! I have heard people say that his offspring have such a "presence" about them. And it sure is true of my Trienke. I hope you are able to own one very soon. Don't give up on your dream. It took me 8 years to make mine come true, and it was worth the wait. :-) How wonderful that you have been able to be there for a birth, it is an amazing experience every single time.

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01/26/2013 1:36pm

your horse looks fine to me! i mean not over weight or anything! however im lay-man when it comes to horses. im a dogs person :P. really had lot of fun lookin at mariska! i did not know horses are so smart! thanks for sharing

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Sandy
01/27/2013 12:02pm

Well Bhisham, that is exactly what Mariska wants to hear!

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Terry Galen
01/27/2013 10:21am

What a fabulous video. I have a friesian/thbrd , Mooshita, who I also used to call Houdini . When he was young he would get out at night and end up at my neighbor's. I would hear him calling and it would awaken me. I'd have to go out in the dark in my jammies and bring him back home. One moment he would be in the corral, the next minute he would be in my fields. I really thought that I had an amazing yearling jumper until one day I watched him lift the field fencing that went across a wash and then CRAWL under. He is also fond of turning on the barn lights and flipping over his feed trough on command. My favorite Mooshita trick is his daily summer bathing routine. He puts both front feet in the trough and splashes 50 gallons of water on himself.

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Sandy
01/27/2013 12:06pm

Terry, Mooshita is a horse after Mariska's own heart. Can you imagine the trouble the two of them could get into together? Yep! mine love the water trough too! First splashing, then tipping and dumping. In the winter, even with the trough over a low fence (the only way to keep them out of it) they pull the heater out, stomp it into the ground and then, tip it over by lifting it with their teeth! Juvenile delinquents all of them!!

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Kriss
01/30/2013 2:05am

The more I learn of the breed the more I want one! She is amazing, and I thought it funny that she takes the time to look and see who is in the stall, like she's looking for a friend. :) I had a saddlebred mare that would open doors too. I am surprised she never taught any of my Arabs! I can't wait to see the foal pics, there truly nothing more amazing than a baby being born!

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Sandy
01/30/2013 8:20am

You are so right about them teaching each other, when my gelding Wietse went to the trainers, he figured out how to let himself out of the round pen where they were turning him out.That was after Mariska had been at the same trainer and let herself out and into the hay. We were afraid that Wietse had been watching and learning from Mariska. :-) The trainer now is very cautious with the Friesians from my farm when they come! :-) We can never take our horses intelligence for granted can we?

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02/03/2013 4:17pm

We have a "Houdini" just like Mariska at Longmeadow Rescue Ranch. Twist of Fate was foaled in 2007 about 6 months after his Thoroughbred dam was in a horrible trailer wreck en route to a horse slaughtering facility. He is the star of the show at Longmeadow and our ambassador for humane treatment of animals in Missouri. First we were finding him wandering the alley in the barn in the morning after letting himself out. So we solved that by adding a large eye bolt and a clasp to his door latch. Not to be thwarted, he started opening up his neighbor's stall door - which in this case happened to be several goats. NOW we have goats wandering the alley in the morning! After we added an eye bolt and a clasp to the next stall we no longer have animals cavorting in the alley in the morning! Wanting to give Twister more time out of his stall we tried night-time turnout with his buddies in the large 2 acre paddocks. Hah! A 5' pipe fence is nothing to Twister - he jumped it and was calmly waiting for the first employees at 7:00 am.

http://longmeadowrescueranch.org/barnbuddies/sponsor-twister.php

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Sandy
02/04/2013 7:56am

Wow Jeannine, it sounds like you have your hands full with your own little Houdini! Sounds like he has a future in the jumping arena as well! :-) Fortunately for us, black horses don't jump! Or that is what my hubby says, at least overweight Friesians don't, so we have not had to deal with that yet. :-)

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Jeannine
02/04/2013 9:20am

Fluffy Fresians! That's fluffy Fresians! We have a small black mare that I swear must have a touch of Fresian somewhere in her lineage. She came in less than a bag of bones with a foal at her side that was near death. They're both thriving now, but we've had to put her on a diet as once she regained her normal weight, she went right to "fluffy!"

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Sandy
02/04/2013 10:01am

Then you know how frustrating it can be! I know there are many who struggle to put weight on their horses and I would much rather have that problem. It is hard to restrict their hay intake this time of year when they are bored with so much standing around. Mariska is eating just 16lbs of hay and seems to be staying put at her current weight. And with this cold! Really don't want to cut her back any more. Will wait a bit and see what happens. Good luck with your fluffly girl. :-)

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Elaine
02/09/2013 4:06pm

I enjoyed the video but am curious about how many splices you made to create it - or is Mariska a fashionista too? i.e., the blue halter that appears halfway into the clip. ;)

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Sandy
02/10/2013 3:51pm

Hi Elaine, The video took a little bit to make as she is smart enough to know that if she gets out when we are watching her that we will just put her right back in. So we had to wait until her patient wore out so she would do her thing while we watched. Then we had to video tape from the outside and then of course go inside. Her halter was not on at first as I don't leave halters on my horses for safety reasons. Then when we knew she would be loose in the barn and then later to the outside, we wanted her halter on so we could catch her. There was sometimes a wait in between as she wandered, so we edited that out not to bore you. :-)

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Tera
02/19/2013 9:19am

I have to say she is a mighty good looking gal. I love her "fluffy" conditioning lol. I had the same issue with an old paint gelding of mine. He required joint meds, arthritis meds,multi vitamins, and coat and skin meds. He became very overweight and we did the same diet plan you have started. By the time we cut the grain out I was where you are to find a method of giving him his meds with no grain and molasses. I ended up using the meds and natural fruit and gelatin and little of molasses to make specific treats that would hold his exact dose of meds. He became to love treat time. There are a few websites that have was to make these treats so it might help you in your medication deliverance. Hope it helps and can't wait to see the new baby and if she will inherit mommas silly ways. Good luck and a lovely pat and a snuggle to the expecting momma.

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Sandy
02/20/2013 4:48pm

Tera, that is a great idea. She loves treats and would gobble it down if I can get the right recipe. Thanks so much for the tip! I will check it out. We are very excited to see the baby, it has been a while since we had one, and so can't wait. I will give M a hug from you. :-) Thanks again for the suggestion, it is great.

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06/15/2013 12:51am

Wow!! It amazing, I haven't ever seen a horse doing such activities like opening doors and others tasks. I think, you have trained him very well to do these.

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Sandy
09/22/2013 9:55am

Hi abwe, Thank you, she is pretty smart. We did not teach her to do these things. She learned them on her own. She just really loves her grain. We keep things locked up tight now. :-)

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07/24/2013 12:17am

I became a great fan of 'Maliska' after reading your post about her. What I loved most is 'she is pretty convinced that doors were made to be opened!'. I love the attitude she shows and I am sure she would be a sweet heart.

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Lindsay Agor
05/31/2014 8:49am

I remember her birth!!!

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Sandy Bonem
06/03/2014 10:27am

Hey! so good to hear from you! Wow, has it been 10 years? Mariska is 10 this summer, does not seem like it was that long ago, as you can see, Mariska has been very busy since she was born. :-)

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Jeanette Baker
05/31/2014 11:54am

What a beautiful, intelligent Friesian mare! Thanks for sharing.

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Sandy Bonem
06/03/2014 10:29am

Thanks Jeanette! She is a silly one :-) glad that we could share her talents :-)

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Cheri
06/02/2014 5:46pm

My Morgan used to unlock his door also. He once did it at Nationals, we were awoken to the loud speaker announcing loose horses on the fair grounds. Fortunately he only let out the mares! He was a ladies man!

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Sandy Bonem
06/03/2014 10:31am

Thanks Cheri for sharing! Too funny! I love your story, what a sight that must have been to see, Did he look even a little guilty when you caught him? :-)

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carole
08/16/2014 10:38pm

I noticed that Mariska bypassed letting out one of the horses, and we are wondering why.

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Sandy
08/18/2014 5:00am

Hi Carole, Yes the reason she bypasses that stall is that it is her Mother (Trienke) in that stall. And she knows that she can not go in and shoo Trienke out of the stall to get her grain, or get to her window to open the stall door. So she just leaves her there. :-) She is one smart little horse!

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