Thursday, August 17, 2017

Weight Gain

Here's what I want to know. What have you found to be the most effective feed/supplement to put weight on your horse? 

Situation is this: Roz has been thin for the past 8 months or so. He's not terrible by any means but he's more lean than I would like, especially heading in to winter. All of the normal things are good; he's current on dental care and parasite checks. We are limited by 2 factors.  
  • I really can't/don't want to feed him alfalfa or rich hay as he lives with Emi and she doesn't need that kind of feed. 
  • He's not the best eater and will only eat so much grain. 
I realize he's a 25 year old TB and we might be doing the best we can do but it doesn't stop me from wanting him to look a bit better. He basically gets all the grain he will eat (in two feedings), and if I give him more he ends up walking away from it part way through. Hopefully by the winter I will have a slightly better way to separate him so he has more time to eat and could be left with grain that he can return to when he's ready for more. He currently receives Purina Active Sr., rice bran and alfalfa pellets, pasture and all the hay he will eat. What have you found to be the most effective? 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Silver Falls

I'm miserably behind on blogging! We are still alive and all is well. Saturday we went trail riding at Silver Falls. This location has been on my list for a long time and is only about an hour from our house. Emi and I were the first people to arrive on Saturday morning. 

All by ourselves
Emi and I wandered around a bit while we waited for our trail partner to arrive. While we did this we found a horse tail. What in the world happened there? I'm not even sure I want to know. It was a little bit creepy. 

One Melissa arrived we got the horses tacked up and hit the trail. They were both amped. We were barely out of the parking lot when we had a creek to cross. After a couple minutes of snorting and gawking Scotty went through it and Emi followed along behind.

We had a little trouble finding the trail we actually wanted but we did find it and had quite a nice time. The ranger told us that there had been cougar and bear sightings in the past 2 weeks so to be on the lookout. I told Melissa I would talk enough that we wouldn't see either of those critters and we didn't.

Both horses are good on the trails. Emi has no interest in leading but she follows like a champ. We had the creek crossing, 3 bridges, and a couple of muddy creek like spots along with some varied terrain. The book we were referencing said that it was okay for barefoot horses but I disagree. I regret not putting Emi's hoof boots on and she was getting sore by the time we made it back. I felt bad! Thankfully she seems no worse for the wear and I know to put her boots on when we go back. We only ran across two other horses and one mountain bike. Emi is so much better about those encounters than she was last summer. I was actually pretty surprised we didn't have more traffic out there but I think we got an early enough start that we beat the crowds. There were several other trailers back at the trail head when we made it back. 

Our ride ended up taking 3 hours and I think we were all happy to see the trailers! It was super nice to get out of the arena and I think both horses enjoyed themselves. We tentatively have another trail ride date for the beginning of September and I'm already looking forward to that. I love getting out on the trails and need to make a point of getting out more often. It's good for all of us. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Greenguard Grazing Muzzle - A Review

I own an adorable pony, who is also a very easy keeper. I don't want her to be obese and I especially don't want her to founder. On the flip side, I do believe that horses are meant to be eating...all the time.  So where does that leave us (besides between a rock and hard place). 
A fat two year old in a grazing muzzle
With a pony who has been wearing a grazing muzzle since she was two. Going from a harder keeping thoroughbred to a welsh cob, the grazing muzzle world has been a new experience. Right off the bat I put Emi's on with a cookie in the bottom so she actually tries to put her head in when you take it out to her. She's totally not concerned about wearing it and has never gotten it off. However, I don't think they are super comfortable either. The very first year she wore it she tore her eyelid (presumably rubbing on the fence). Now I have a "flymask required" rule any time her muzzle is on.
Graphic photo, sorry to those who are squeamish.
The spring of her three year old year she wasn't on a very grassy pasture so she didn't need to wear the muzzle. This spring, she was on lots of grass and the grazing muzzle hunt began again, as the muzzle that fit her at two was now too small. I ordered several different muzzles and struggled with the fit on all of them. The cob and horse sizes meant nothing between brands and I was totally frustrated. I finally settled on one and Emi began all day turn out with it on (~12 hours per day). It wasn't long before she was getting fairly significant rubs on her jaw from opening her mouth to graze. With the rubs getting worse I was able to arrange a different turn out option for her so that she wouldn't need to wear a muzzle. 

Rolex deals
Then I went to Rolex and strolled by the Greenguard booth. I spoke with them and handled the muzzle. I was intrigued but not sure it was worth the money. My biggest concern was how much grass they would be getting as it's so open compared to the standard rubber ones. As they pointed out, the whole on the rubber ones it right in the middle where a horse can get quite a bit of grass in it. The design of the Greenguard muzzle has a strip right across the middle of it so horses have to work around it. That made some sense to me. Although I didn't buy the muzzle on Thursday I thought about it all weekend and purchased it on Sunday. 

Emi has been wearing the muzzle 3-4 hours per day with no trouble. Then a couple weeks ago we put the muzzle to the ultimate test. Emi was staying at a friends house for a few days while we had some work done at home, and was out on lots of grass. She wore her Greenguard muzzle for 4 days straight (24 hours a day). Of course she was under supervision and I checked her for rubs or any trouble every evening.  The muzzle was amazing! She had zero issues with it and didn't seem bothered at all by wearing it for that extended period of time. 

It's so much better than the "normal" muzzles. The square design and the rigid shape keep it from collapsing around the horses face. Not only does it not cause rubs, but it is so much more breathable. No more pony nose sweltering in a rubber bucket. Just the thought of that makes me cringe.  

If you are fighting the grazing muzzle battle, buy a Greengaurd muzzle. You won't regret it. It was worth every penny I paid!  If I hadn't bought it at Rolex I was going to buy an Eponia Bridle...and I'm still saying it was worth every penny.  Seriously, life changing!

I've reached out to Greenguard and they have provided me a coupon code to share with all of you - 1H99QEEA.  You'll get 10% off and the code is good for 30 days. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Quiet Moments

I have so much to write about and haven't had any time! Last night I was thinking about how much I enjoy having the horses at home. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of work. It's been even more work this summer as we have had a lot of projects to do outside; fencing to finish, arena installation, paddock work etc. With those projects out of the way next summer should be much easier!

But back to why I like it. I love the quiet moments with my horses. I notice this especially with Emi, as Roz tends to be a little less social. Emi loves to be scratched and will stand with me for a long time while I scratch her withers and neck. Our visits are so relaxing and the chance to connect with the horses on a different level than "work" is so nice.

Then you have moments like this morning. Someone dug a big hole in their paddock which I noticed after I fed breakfast. Both horses were eating and I was trying to figure out which one had been digging and why. I assumed it was Roz as he loves to roll and if he got fired up about something I could see him being a little crazy. After he finished his grain he started in on his hay...and started pawing. It's not unusual for him to paw a couple times to sort through the hay, but not over and over and over again. Then he left the food and moved to the back of their paddock, digging more holes and then kicking at his stomach. That's how he earned himself a trailer ride in to work (which happens to also be a veterinary hospital). I scurried around grabbing my stuff and hooking up the trailer before loading him up and giving them a heads up call.

They didn't find anything remarkable on his blood work, rectal, nasogastric tube or abdominal tap. They tubed him with fluids and electrolytes, and placed an IV for fluids. The re-introduced food this afternoon and as of 5pm he was still doing well. Hopefully nothing changes and he can come home tomorrow. I know he's not going to live forever but I'm also not ready to say goodbye.

Liam earned his keep today, being the perfect companion for the pony left behind.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Since our Sunday show was at the same venue as the schooling show we attended in March, it seemed fitting to do some photo comparison. Day in and day out the progress seems slow, but comparing current photos from the ones taken 4 months ago really highlight the changes. 

Emi is beginning to look so much more mature.  The connection is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was. And we are finding the canter! I can't wait to see what she looks like in another 4 months. 

I'm so fortunate to live near Emi's breeder. All of the above photos were taken by her.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Showing Up

I'm way behind on posting and never finished my clinic recap, but I'm going to move on to the show I went to today. I don't think I have ever been less enthused about going to a show. I spent all day Saturday trying to decide if I even wanted to bother going and when the alarm went off at 5:30am I was still trying to convince myself to go. That's really odd for me! 

I may have also put in the worst horse show prep ever. I had the clinic on Saturday & Sunday, rode Emi on Tuesday with a new bit and flash attachment, then moved her to a friends house. She spent Wednesday/Thursday/Friday there and I moved her home on Saturday evening (after we got the fence back up). I got home with her around 6:30pm and had done nothing to prep for the show. Tack was dirty, the pony was dirty and I was not feeling it. I snuck in a quick ride in our new arena before hosing her off and heading inside to eat some dinner. I went back outside and started braiding her mane for the show and at this point it was after 9pm and I was losing light fast. I did about a third of her mane before bailing on that idea and just quickly braiding the rest so it would lay on the correct side. All that back story to say, I was feeling much less put together than normal. 

Once I convinced myself to get out of bed I got around pretty quickly this morning, cleaned Emi up, and hit the road. She was pretty vocal when I unloaded her, which confirmed my suspicion that she's coming in to heat. Oh joy! Our warm up went well but when we got into the ring for our first test Emi had some anxiety about it. We used our time before the bell, to scope out the judges table, and then I put her to work with some of our JW exercises. Although she was tense and a little distracted, our test had several good moments. We scored a 68% and first place! Highlights were a 9 on our free walk and an 8 on our geometry. JW had just challenged me to ride my corners better and I made a concentrated effort to do so in the ring.  

I had about 20 minutes before my next test. I stayed on but spent some time standing around, a small amount of warm up time, and then in we went. Emi was more settled but she also ran out of steam. I kicked her around and although we had some nice work it would have been much better if the pony had more go. This test scored a 65% for second place. 

It was worth "showing up."
I love the photos and how much development you can see in her. Now it's time to put to get back to work and move up to Training Level. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Good - Clinic Day 1

First of all, thank you all for your great feedback regarding our trailering drama and also the tongue issue. It's nice to know we aren't the only ones to struggle with things like that.

Despite the terrible loading issues our clinic ride on Saturday was quite good. Emi came to work and JW commented that she is looking very grown up. She also thinks she's growing, which I agree with. Not only has she lost weight fairly easily over this past month, she seems a bit unbalanced again.

If you remember from the last lesson, I was really struggling with the right bend. The right side has gotten way better and now the left side is our difficult side. We worked a lot on nose to the wall/haunches to the wall, baby shoulder in/out, steering (not drifting through the corners) etc.  I'm impressed with how grown up she's gotten in the trot work. For the most part she's very maneuverable and moves off your leg well. This is one of the places were I really notice a difference between her and other horses that I have had. Introducing those concepts to her at 3 has made a really big difference for us. I can already feel how we are adding on to her initial education and it's super cool! The canter work was fun and we started to really build on the shoulder in/shoulder out, capture her evenly on both reins and canter.

Emi had a few moments early on where she was worried about the horse in front of us leaving and so I put her in to a leg yield on the circle. She gave a couple of piaffe like steps which JW commented on. JW also said that she's "very on track for a four year old." That was music to my ears!  I feel like we work on our own a lot and it's up to me to recognize problems and address them. In some ways I feel very capable but sometimes you wonder if you are really on the right track.

My long term goal is to get my bronze medal on Emi but it would be super cool take her further than 3rd level. We shall see how things progress...we all know that horses take a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.

I'll share video when I get a chance to upload it.