From Endurance to Dressage
I need this. If I couldn't actually get to the chips, almonds, quesadillas, what-have-you, I might be able to drop these pesky 20 (30!) pounds.
I've had this portable rack for many years, but it was finally relegated to outdoor storage when I moved to the ranch. It has proven quite useful though for keeping the ants out of my buckets as my beet pulp soaks.
Now that Speedy has free range of the ranch while I groom and tack up and putter around, he's getting a behind the scenes look at how things run.
He stood there for quite some time trying to get his nose in the buckets. He's a pretty polite fellow though, so he never got pushy, but he was quite puzzled over how this thing was supposed to work.
Thumbs, I told him, thumbs.
Unless you just arrived to this country, you probably know that California has been battling a severe drought for half a decade. Even last year's much anticipated El Niño couldn't help us out. The Pineapple Express, combined with some atmospheric rivers, has finally brought enough water to California to remove nearly all of the drought designations from most of the state.
For those who aren't familiar with California's weather patterns, the winter rain and snow are what hydrate us through our rainless spring, summer, and fall. The California State Water Project redistributes the water from the wet, northern part of the state to the much drier south via a system of reservoirs, aqueducts, and canals.
When it doesn't rain in the north, or anywhere for that matter, the water stored in our reservoirs gets used up with nothing to replace it. This year, the winter rain and soon to be melting snow are causing many of our reservoirs to overflow, which is mostly a good thing.
Having lots of water is great, except when it's not. You might have seen or heard about the issues plaguing the Oroville Dam, the nation's tallest. It's a mess up there. Here in Kern County, we have dam troubles of our own. A an earthenware dam was built across the Kern River in 1953, creating the Isabella Reservoir.
In 2006, cracks were found in the dam which means that it can only safely hold approximately 60% of it's intended capacity. For many years this hasn't been too much of a problem because it never rained. This year, it's starting to be an issue.
As of right now, 4,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) of water are being released from the reservoir. The ranch where my boys live is on the Kern River. Here's what that volume of water looks like from the pastures.
All of the homes built along the Kern River are required to be positioned above the 100 year flood mark. While the river is close, something catastrophic would have to happen to flood any of the houses, including my ranch owner's home. They're safe.
While it's frustrating to see so much water being let out of visual storage, the good news is that this water will be allowed to flow out to the Kern River's alluvial fan where it will seep back into the ground to be "banked" as ground water.
Sometimes, when it rains, it pours. Literally.
Another blog hop is making its rounds. I first saw it on the $900 Facebook Pony, but I think it started with Spotted Dressage. I don't usually do blog hops, and not because there's anything wrong with them, I just have plenty to say on my own with two horses. Especially since one of them thinks the universe revolves around him, and the other thinks he's large and in charge. I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which.
In any case, the recent topic of discussion is feed; specifically, what is fed and why? This is a timely topic as I always re-evaluate my feeding strategy as the seasons change. Bakersfield has eight months of summer, three months of winter, and a few weeks each of spring and fall. I don't usually need to make too many adjustments outside of winter and summer.
This winter was a bit different though as I moved my boys to the new ranch at the end of summer. Speedy has a covered paddock along with nightly turnout, but Izzy has only trees for cover. This is great for our lengthy summers, but I did worry about him in this year's rainy weather. He was fine in the weather though; the ranch owner made sure that both boys had hay in front of them 24 hours a day.
So what do my boys eat and why?
The bulk of their diet is of course made up of hay. I used to weigh the hay at my last barn, but since moving to the ranch, no one cares how much hay is fed unless it's clearly being wasted. Both horses get a good quality alfalfa (relatively cheap and abundant here in California) as well as orchard grass (brought in from Oregon).
Speedy can live on straight alfalfa, but I've found that Izzy does better with less alfalfa and more grass hay. Alfalfa gives him too much energy. The ratio that the ranch owner feeds suits both boys fine. Izzy gets more grass than alfalfa, and Speedy gets more alfalfa than grass.
I find it interesting that Speedy never leaves a blade of the grass hay, while Izzy polishes off the alfalfa first. This is Izzy's feeder about an hour before dinner. He's never without hay.
This is Speedy's feeder at the same time of day. There is no grass hay left, but there are some alfalfa stems that he chose to leave behind.
Along with what is essentially free choice hay, both boys get a daily bucket of beet pulp and rice bran. Through the winter, both boys needed some denser calories to keep the weight on. They filled up on hay, but it wasn't quite meeting their nutritional requirements.
Throughout the colder, wetter months, Izzy ate 3 pounds of soaked beet pulp and about 1/2 pound of rice bran. The beet pulp is simply more calorie dense than hay while the rice bran gave him just a bit more fat calories to keep him looking rounder.
Speedy started to look a bit lean over the winter so he got 1 1/2 pounds of beet pulp with a full pound of rice bran. He's looking rounder now. As it begins to warm up, I'll probably reduce the beet pulp both boys are eating by as much as 50%, and I might be able to cut out the rice bran completely.
I am not a big fan of supplements as none of them actually seem to do what they're supposed to do. I've had horses on SmartCalm and Quiessence, and I never noticed a change.
After conferring with my vet though, he convinced me that horses in my area do a need a little help, especially with selenium and vitamin E. So even even though there were less expensive options, including the product that my vet formulated, I decided to go with a more comprehensive product, Platinum Performance. Both horses get the recommended dosage of two scoops daily.
Both boys like the combination and happily consume every last drop.
Along with their Platinum, both boys always have a salt source as well. Speedy has a Himalayan salt wheel as well as a small salt block in his feeder. As I was writing this, I realized that Izzy's salt block is currently missing. I don't think he ate the whole thing, so it's probably buried in the mud somewhere. It looks like I'll be rounding him up a new one.
The Final Picture
With regular dental work, vaccinations, trims, and chiropractic work as needed, both boys look pretty good. It doesn't look like anything needs to be adjusted today.
So what do you feed and why?
I am ready to start showing, but I am not sure my boys are with me. Speedy is lame again, left hind. From what, I don't know. It looks like it's in the stifle or hock. Initially, I thought he'd work out of it within a few days, but here we are a week later, and he's only slightly better. He's mostly sound at the walk, but the trot is still a no go.
While I showed Izzy a half a dozen times last year, it was at Introductory Level, and we were just there for exposure. I was hoping to wait until April for a schooling show, but the one and only show that we have in town is in two weeks. While it's CDS-rated, I hate to pass it up.
I paid all of my memberships in the winter, but the cards were crammed in an envelope, and I hadn't bothered to make copies yet. I have no idea who I'll be riding at the upcoming show, but I realized that whoever I take, my show binder needed to be updated and fresh copies of my cards needed to be made.
It rained yesterday, and the wind howled. When better to update show stuff than a rainy day?
I dug out the cards I had and then printed the ones I didn't. USDF hasn't sent me a card yet, and USE doesn't send cards for Horse IDs, so those needed to be printed.
To keep track of all of the cards, I like to put all of them on one page and then make a copy. I do a separate page for each horse.
Once I have each horse's page done, I make a few extra copies to submit with show entries and then put the original copy in a sheet protector.
I don't know how many shows I'll make it to this year, but at least my health and show records are up to date.
How do you organize your membership cards and health records?
It's just so hard not to be excited about progress, especially when it is so obvious. Sometimes progress comes in increments, and you have to use a microscope to see it. Not for us this week.
When I tacked Izzy up yesterday, I let Speedy wander as I have over the last few days, but he chose to stay down by the other horses. This meant that Izzy was alone. He didn't even notice.
He never looked for Speedy once. He kept his eyes on me and gently nuzzled my hair or arm, whichever was closest. He seems to have gotten the message that he may never use his teeth on me. I have to be vigilant still, but he is definitely showing more restraint in how he shows his love.
When I was ready to head up to the arena, Izzy was so mellow about having had to stand alone that I was tempted to just walk up to the arena without Speedy. I decided not to push my luck though, and I was a tiny bit worried about leaving Speedy completely unsupervised while I was riding. With Izzy trailing along behind, we went and rounded Speedy up.
Instead of tying Speedy to the arena fence, I tied him to the pasture fence which is 50 or so feet away. Izzy didn't bat an eye. We walked into the arena, I tightened my girth, dropped my stirrups, and put in the easiest ten minute ride of all time.
We walked a lap each direction with only one word about keeping our eyes on the job. We then picked up a trot after a very brief reminder with my spur that yes, trotting was required. We did a couple of changes of direction across the diagonal and then we picked up a right lead canter. It had a few stuttery steps and he was flat, but he made the canter circle with zero fuss. We came back to trot, changed direction, and did the same thing to the left.
Even though this is Not-So-Speedy Dressage, I do love 10 minute rides. Izzy does need to work though, but right now, getting relaxation is my first priority, and if I can get it in under 20 minutes, I am happy to call it a day. I am quite certain that once Izzy gets a day or two off, he'll come out high as a kite again, and we'll be out there for an hour instead of 10 minutes.
I think I'll appreciate the short rides while I can. I get plenty of the long ones with this horse.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2022 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read