Tuesday, June 22, 2010

wild vs domestic

The two little scraggly things that came off the cattle truck a few weeks ago are changing...But as they change i hope they keep a lot of what their wild days shaped them to be. Domestic vs wild....there is definately advantage to both. When i compare my two groups of horses at home, i think it is a shame you cant have it both ways.

The ones from the wild are probably the most efficient animals Ive ever seen at turning grass into fat.. Everyday they're bigger. On not much food either. It a rainy wet winter, and all the grass has long since turned to mud, or ceased growing due to cold. The paddocks are more so they can stretch their legs than for feed purposes. Yet when I'm pumping hard feed,baylage and anything else i can find into my competition horses and broodmares. The wild ones are gaining weight on scraggly grass and hay. Although they do eat baylage (slightly fermented hay) now, neither one touches horse feed. I'm not complaining though, bonus is that they re turning out to be even cheaper to feed than expected.

Where my big broodmares carrying babies with the best bloodlines i could find, fuss, paw and make putting weight on them difficult. the wild ones just eat and eat and eat. Everyday i watch the domestic herd galloping round the paddock ripping up any grass that might have grown. I've never ever seen the wild ones do any thing but walk around the paddock. While the domestic horses find every excuse in their path to spook and be silly. The wild ones never do, they'll stand and watch if something catches their eye. But they dont run in circles senselessly.
Being from the wild, where food was scarce. Theses to little horses have known hunger, real hunger. They have probably had to travel distances looking for food and water. where the worst my horses have known is missing a meal of hard feed. The wild ones because they have had to survive, don't waste energy moving around for no reason. Food and energy is conserved for times when things is scarce. Everything is eaten (except horse feed) Ive watched them eat twigs, dead leaves, bark as well as the grass. This survival attitude is to be admired.
The domestic horses, not all of them, but especially the ones that have come from the race track, do not have this survival attitude. Racehorses especially are known for being crazy. but they are amazing athletes they have been bred for speed and to be lightweight and lean in order to run, brains have been left out of the mix. They have had the best nutrition and feeding as they grow. So they grow into big strong and beautiful, athletic creatures. Usually though they've never been in a herd situation, never had to compete for food and never had to figure out anything for themselves. So food is not cherished, they run and spook before they try to figure things out. They re in a way helpless compared to the independent wild horses.
Interestingly i once took on 4 Thoroughbred's strait from the track, who were skinny, nervous and pretty stupid creatures at the time. Luckily for me i have land and huge paddocks with streams and other natural obstacles running through them, so my normal horses run as a big herd. Theses 4 horses were the fussiest eaters you couldn't get them to touch anything. When i eventually let them run with the herd, suddenly they had to compete for food (hay in winter) they had to figure out how to get around stream logs etc. They went from skinny and neurotic to calm and eating in a couple of weeks on less food than they'd ever been on before.
I love my domestic horses, the ones Ive bred myself i think have the best of both worlds. They get all the benefits of being raised in captivity, good food, so they grow to there full potential, there feet worked on. handling from people. but Still have the mental stimulation of being in a herd and paddocks where they have to figure out challenges for themselves. the difference between my horses and horses from the racetrack is easy to tell. the wild ones i love the sensibility, the sturdiness, foraging and their sure footedness that allows them to travel over all terrain. But they also will never grow to the size they could have been in captivity if they'dnever known the lean wild times. It will be interesting to see what the greys baby will turn out like...wild blood raised with the best of domestic life...