- 3 flakes of grass hay - Izzy
- 3 flakes of alfalfa - Mostly Speedy, a little Izzy
- 6 pounds of low carb senior feed - all Speedy
- 1.75 pounds of beet pulp - all Izzy
- 1.5 pounds of rice bran - still Izzy
- ½ cup of flax seed oil - split between the two boys
- 4 oz. of vitamins - also split between the boys
I wish we could just settle on one feed program and stick with it. I eat the same breakfast and lunch virtually every day. Why can't my boys get on board? Because they can't, that's why. With changes in the weather, their fitness, and about a million other things, it becomes necessary to reevaluate with some frequency.
After our vet visit last week, I dragged out my scale and started re-weighing stuff. Speedy's low carb senior feed comes in at 1.5 pounds a can, the same as the last check. He gets 4 cans a day, two in the morning and two at night. This week, I also put him back on a quarter cup of Horse Guard's Flaxen Flow, a flaxseed oil, as we move into the cooler months. He's also now getting a daily 2 ounce scoop of Horse Guard's Vitamin mix. And of course he gets as much alfalfa as he'll eat, usually two hefty flakes a day.
I changed Izzy's feed scoop a few months back and hadn't actually weighed how much beet pulp it holds. I was just guessing. When I put his loaded scoop on the scale, it came in at just over a pound, but only barely. That didn't seem like enough now that we're trying to put weight back on. I reloaded the scoop and was much happier with what the scale showed - 1.75 pounds.
As my vet directed, I am putting him back on rice bran, a feed that he's done quite well with in the past. That adds another 1.5 pounds of calorie dense feed.
On top of that, he's also getting a quarter cup of flaxseed oil as well as a scoop of the same vitamins that Speedy's getting. His daily ration now includes 1 flake of alfalfa, 3 flakes of grass hay, 1.75 pounds of beet pulp, 1.5 pounds of rice bran, ¼ cup of flaxseed oil, and a scoop of vitamins. The boy is eating better than I do.
Fortunately, both horses liked the vitamins and scarfed them right down. They come in a really interesting bag that has a sort of velcro closure. Pretty smart packaging. Even with the closure, I worried about the bag tipping over though, so I'm storing it in a bucket for now.
So what does feeding my two horses now look like?
All of that feed now adds up to quite a complicated list. Here's what it boils down to:
I am not sure what else I could possibly add. Scratch that. There's plenty more I could toss in; I just don't want to! I think this menu is sufficient. We'll see how they do as we move into winter.
Someday, I hope to board at a barn that has a permanent dressage arena. Someplace where someone else takes care of it. Wouldn't that be wonderful? And expensive. So scratch that. I'll keep my water jugs and schlepp around my own meter tape.
Since building my own dressage court this summer, I've remeasured and changed it several times looking for the best way to eliminate 10 meters. After three months, I've finally found the set of measurements that offers me the most accurate riding space possible. And here it is:
After much trial and error, I finally realized that I need my corners to be accurate. So many of the mid-level movements begin and end in those corners. The place to chop off your length is not there. Instead, I realized that shrinking the distance between each of the rest of the letters would actually help me be more precise once we're showing in a full length court. That's where I took out my length; 2.5 meters from each section.
With F, M. H, and K set at 6-meters, I now feel like I am able to use my corners so much more effectively. Now that I am not trying to start my half pass while I am still in the corner, Speedy is able to get his butt through the corner before I start asking.
Riding 10-meter circles at each letter doesn't require 12-meters between one letter and the next. My diagonal work is shorter, but it would be no matter where R, B, and P are placed. After riding in my court measured out the way it is now, I am convinced that taking out 2.5 meters between each long side letter is the perfect solution.
Hey, maybe this is what we needed to improve our scores! We'll find out this month.
When most people hear the word California, they think of L.A., the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hollywood sign. Here in California, we think of those things too. I can't speak for every Californian out there, but I love this state, I and am proud of its amazing diversity. Our geography, our weather, and especially our people make this a truly unique and very special place to live.
If you live in California, you already know that the Dodgers and our beaches only make up a small part of our state's culture and economy. The reality is that California is a major player in the production of the world's food. We grow and produce nearly everything that can be grown and consumed. Our agricultural products range from pistachios and almonds to vegetables you might not have heard of to milk and dairy products.
Which brings me to today's post. While not equine related, there was a truck and trailer involved as well as four hooves.
Kern County is the absolute center of California's agricultural region. If it's grown or raised for food consumption, it probably came from Kern County. As such, our farmers do a lot of outreach to educate the public.
On Friday, the Dairy Council of California sent its Mobile Dairy Classroom to our campus for a farm-to-school assembly. Yes, that is a cow on our basketball court. The Mobile Dairy Classroom brings a live cow to schools to give kids who live in the city a chance to see what lives next door. The kids loved it.
Our presenter was very kid savvy and kept the presentation at a level that really engaged the kids. One of the first things she explained was that our visiting heifer would probably feel the need to "relieve" herself. Since it was important not to scare the cow, we would all applaud politely if said cow needed to use the restroom. And of course, the cow needed to pee early on in the presentation. It was hysterical to see all of our kiddos clapping politely as the cow let go a long stream of urine. I was relived it was only a number one as a "cow pie" might have earned a standing ovation.
As the kids listened, the presenter explained the cow's anatomy pointing out how it correlated to our own. She explained why cows wear ear tags, how much they eat and drink, and of course she discussed milking the cow. To everyone's delight, she milked several streams of milk out onto the ground. The kids thought that was the coolest thing they'd ever seen.
We're in the midst of fair season too. The Great Kern County Fair is always September's must do event. Bakersfield's population is right around 380,000. Last year's fair attendance was over 416,000. Everyone goes. Many of the kids in our school raise animals to show at the fair. One of my student's dad was a cupcake judge. Another friend, an artist, won numerous awards for her gourd paintings. While there this weekend, I also spotted photographs submitted by a former student and others by a friend.
For being one of California's largest cities, we rank ninth in population, we're still just a small town at heart. Agriculture and rural living are uniquely integrated into our urban city center. Cows in the classroom are part of our every day lives. I think it's a great way to live.
Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, pointed out (in the nicest way possible) that setting out some cones (at the very least) would help my geometry thereby improving my scores. Taking his advice to heart, I've maintained a rudimentary dressage court ever since.
When I first laid it out, I measured it as accurately as possible, but I figured a few missing meters here or there wouldn't really matter. Boy was I wrong. Our arena is plenty wide enough for a dressage court, but it's a bit short. I can fit a 20m by 50m court which is close to full-sized, but those extra 10 meters have to come off somewhere.
I took out a meter between each letter and a bit more than 2 meters from the last letters making the distance from the last letter to the corner pretty short. What I didn't realize was that at Third Level, a lot of movements are either set up or begun at those corner letters. By making the corners "shorter," I made it really hard to do the movements.
Reggie, the ranch's fixer of all the things, dragged the arena a month or so ago, but we didn't move my poles and letters. He just got close enough, but it left a funny ridge. Eventually, the footing finally got so wonky that I asked if we could empty the arena and drag it again. To my delight, Reggie and the ranch owner both dragged everything out so Reggie could do a thorough drag. They left me to reassemble everything. Since I couldn't do the cavaletti clinic and was already at the barn at 6:00 a.m., I used the morning to set my court back up while Speedy enjoyed his breakfast.
Knowing that I needed my measurements to be a bit more exact, I carefully measured out the short side at A, being very careful to place A at exactly 10 meters. I then stretched my meter tape all the way to C, making sure that I used all 50 meters in length. I double checked that A and C were still at the 10 meter mark before I found a spot for B and E.
With B and E resting at 25 meters instead of 30, I then measured out the distances for the rest of the letters. I needed to lose 10 meters somewhere, so this time I took 1 meter out in the M/H and F/K sections and 2 meters out between the rest of the letters, the opposite of what I had done the first time.
By the time I was finished, I must have walked or jogged ten miles. I stretched my meter tape back and forth and up and down that court at least a dozen times. In the end, it looked much better than the first time I did it. I rode Speedy that same day and was super pleased with the adjustments that I had made in the placing of the letters. The court "rode" much more accurately, and the smooth footing didn't hurt either.
I don't know if it was the smooth footing, the better laid out court, or just because Speedy is amazing, but we had an excellent ride that morning. My little endurance turned dressage pony has really developed into a solid mid-level dressage horse.
Now we just all need to stay sound and healthy!
I rarely lack the motivation to get out to the barn and ride. It's more likely that I have to remind myself to give my horses a day off. They're not machines after all. I am lucky that my job gives me summers off. With our super high summer temperatures - an "easy" summer is one with 35 triple-digit days, it can be really hard for most people to find the motivation to ride after work. I don't have that distractor; I can ride in the mornings during the summer. That's over though. School started a few weeks ago, so I am now on a "regular" schedule.
Last week was tough though. My motivation was at an all time low. I rode Izzy at the show on Sunday, and then the boys barely saw me for the rest of the week. Number one, it was insanely hot, and neither horses "needed" to be ridden. I made sure to show up every other day, but I didn't do much besides clean their waters and make sure all of their parts were still attached. Number two, I worked long hours doing a lot of mentally challenging tasks that basically sapped me of any desire to do anything but stare at a blank wall.
I try to be to work by 6:15 a.m. which means I get up by 5:00 at the latest. I'm a morning person by nature, but even so, it's hard to do every day. On Saturday, I slept in until nearly 7:00. As much as I wanted to lay around the house for a bit, I knew that I needed to get some momentum going. If I let a lack of motivation take over, the day drifts by me, and nothing get done. By the time I pulled into the barn, my regular eagerness to ride had returned.
Speedy left his breakfast when he saw me. He'd had nearly ten days off, so he was definitely ready to play. in fact, we had one of those rides where I wondered if someone had been training him on the sly. He was nicely in front of my leg and quite happy to work for more suspension instead of forward. In fact, one of his medium trots blew me away it was so good! Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, had told me that getting him more up would help the medium trot. She was right!
Even Izzy acted like the week off did him some good. The last time he'd been ridden was the Sunday before at the show. Not wanting to to risk any fresh horse arguments, I bridled him with the ported bit, but I don't think I needed it. He was completely rideable. His transitions were sharp, and he was happy to work. My focus is now about maintaining a solid connection, and he was happy to keep reaching for the bit.
It's weekends like this one that feed my motivation. It's nearly impossible to stay away when the rewards are so great.
Moving Speedy to live next door to Izzy was the best decision I've made since ... well, since the last good decision I made. Sometimes I make good decisions in quick succession, other times, it takes me a really long time to figure out a solution.
Before moving in to the other half of Izzy's dry pasture, Speedy lived just a few feet behind where I was standing when I took this photo. For the first two years he lived at the ranch, he and Willy alternated who got to be out in the pasture and who stayed in their paddocks. They always shared a fence line. Over the past year, Willy left, Pixie, who lived in the adjacent pasture, was moved to live with Archie, and then Rocky also came and went.
Even before all that coming and going, Speedy was never all that happy living where he did. He paced and whirled if anyone left his sight. He walked the fence line at night. He just seemed anxious. Now? He still walks the fence line, and he still whinnies, but all the drama and angst are gone. Now he meanders and whinnies in that drawn out do I need to call you a wambulance? kind of way.
Given the depth of some his trails, he must do a lot of his walking at night because I never see him doing anything other than standing at the fence line with Izzy. And up until this week, I was at the barn for at least 4 hours every single day. Here's a close-up of the trail above.
When we first moved in, the ranch owner wondered why I didn't put the two horses side by side. Truthfully, I worried about them becoming even more herd bound than they already were. In the end, Speedy got what he wanted. No surprise there.
Having Speedy next door has made Izzy happier too. He's a lot quieter - he doesn't kick and bang on all of his toys or the fence or the gate anymore. Resting his toe on the rung of the gate while tapping it loudly used to be one of his favorite past times. Well, that and stomping on his over-turned feeder. He still digs, but the holes are for rolling and aren't nearly as numerous or as deep.
Who knew that bringing Speedy into the middle of everything would make him so much happier? I should have known better. Speedy always needs to be the center of attention. He now has Izzy next door, 3 horses to his north, and 4 horses to his south. He can see and be seen by every horse on the ranch. He lives to be admired, and if not by me, his peeps are the next best thing.
Super quick post - I am officially back to work as of yesterday, but it seems as though both horses are over their individual maladies. Universe, I am knocking on wood, so please refrain from sending me some other inconveniently irritating issue with which to contend.
When I got to the barn yesterday, Izzy had some dried tears on his face, but otherwise, his eye was clear with no swelling or obvious irritation. The cut in the corner looked much better. I didn't bother with syringing it since it looked perfectly healthy. I did cover his face with Swat though.
Yesterday, Speedy, who has walked through about 10 miles of duct tape over the past week, looked like he was ready to be ridden. I trotted him in hand over grass and the hard packed driveway on Saturday, and he looked 98% sound. I actually considered loading him up for the drive to Paso Robles to try and make Sunday's portion of the show. Sunday is the RAAC. And then common sense reared its very adult head.
The silver lining was that Speedy looked sound even if it was two days too late. I packed his foot with Numotizine over the weekend just in case there was a bit more of the abscess brewing.
I saddled him up yesterday afternoon even though it was 95*. I did our usual walking warm up which now includes lots of half passing. When he felt sound, I asked him to pick up a trot. It was flat and lazy, but it was even without the hint of a hitch. My plan was to do as much as he was okay doing. Before I knew it, we did a few medium trots across the diagonal along with some shoulder in to half pass. And just to really check his soundness, I asked for a canter with some flying lead changes.
And darn it all if he didn't nail them perfectly! While the October show at SCEC was only on my calendar as a back up plan, I am now planning on going for sure. It's a two-day USDF show, so it gives me another chance at earning a Bronze Medal score.
And then there's that show in December at El Sueno ...
Every summer and winter, Izzy's coat gets super light. This summer, I decided to try and keep the luxurious seal brown it gets in the spring and fall. I don't even recognize this horse. I don't think he's been that color since 2015.
This spring, I started topdressing his feed with Horse Guard's Flaxen Flow, a cold-pressed flaxseed oil. He's been on it for 5 months. It didn't keep his coat dark, but his coat is a lot shinier and softer than in summers past, and he has even kept some of his spring/fall dapples.
I now suspect that this color, this buckskin-esque blond, might be his natural summer/winter color while the seal brown is his spring/fall color. His RPSI Pferdepass (passport) lists his color as dunkelbraun, which translates as dark brown or black brown. Or in Izzy's case, just brown.
In other news, the big dunkelbraun horse really did a number on his eye over the weekend. There should be a rule that owners with more than one horse will never be required to medically treat more than one at a time. With Speedy's abscess needing daily packing and bandaging, it is not fair to also have to syringe and scrub out Izzy's eye.
The reason I have to keep such a well-stocked medical kit is because I need it at least three times a week. Someone is always whacking or scraping something, usually both at the same time. On Friday, Izzy probably laid down too close to the fence because his left foot had some gouges near his pastern and his left eye looked as though he'd been in a fight in which he lost. He has a small cut in the corner that's below his ear.
After hosing off his face and then scrubbing it with a soft towel, none of which he appreciated, I repeatedly syringed his eye with saline solution. He didn't appreciate that treatment either. I hand-grazed him for a while and realized that his eye wasn't affecting his soundness or his appetite, so I saddled him up and rode. Afterward, the eye was less swollen but still oozing.
The next morning, the ooze and swelling were gone, but the cut in the corner of his eye looked a bit more pronounced. I syringed it with more saline solution, and then I rode him. He seemed just fine. Eye injuries can quickly turn into something scary though, ask my friend Sarah whose gelding fought for three months to keep his own eye, so I am keeping a careful "eye" on things.
And finally, do you remember the photo I posted a few weeks ago of the new bunny who moved in? Well, he's getting tamer by the minute. He now comes running when he sees me pull up because he knows he's getting a handful of senior feed. Izzy introduced himself by pressing his nose deeply into the bunny's fur and taking a big long whiff. The poor bunny just hunkered down praying that Izzy wouldn't carry him off as breakfast. And that was it. Once Izzy satisfied his curiosity, the bunny was welcome to share his feed.
Life with horses is definitely not dull. There is always something to celebrate, medicate, or simply contemplate. It's what keeps me coming back for more.
Whew. This has been some kind of a week. Since I am not working right now, it's hard to complain about being busy, but there it is. My husband took the week off so that we could celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Which, by the way, if you still feel like a 20-something year old, realizing you've been married for a quarter of a century will quickly snap you back to reality. Having him home every day has just meant a busier than usual schedule.
On top of being at the barn every morning, I started the week with a pedicure. Not stressful, but one more thing on the list of things to do. We also dealt with barfing dogs all week. That ordeal deserves its own post. The quick version is that I cooked ground turkey meatballs (boiled - gross!) and rice every day for more than a week as we transitioned them to a new brand of dog food which will hopefully eliminate the barfing. So far so good.
On Tuesday, we drove over to the beach for lunch. Yes, that involved a 6-hour round-trip drive, but lunch was good. On Wednesday, I had an amazing body work appointment for myself (more on that next week.) I finally got a much needed haircut on Thursday which made me wonder at the things we insist we do for our horses but won't do for ourselves.
I also had a lesson on Thursday morning, the last one before we show again on Sunday. It's "just" a CDS show, but since realizing that I am not going to meet my one and only goal for this season - earning my USDF Bronze Medal, I've lowered my expectations to earning as many 60% scores as possible. We have two so far. I'd love to add another two on Sunday.
Today, I need to ride both horses, clean tack, and load my trailer for Sunday's show. I won't have time to do it on Saturday because my dad and step-mom, neither of whom we've seen in ... well, let's just call it ages, are coming for a long weekend. Unfortunately, the weather gods have decided that this weekend will be the hottest weekend we've had all summer. In fact it's going to be nearly as hot as it can get here. My poor parents; they're going to die.
We planned this trip to coincide with a show weekend so that they could both visit and watch me do my thing on Speedy. Too bad hell also decided to head north for the summer.
One last thing before I go: we acquired a bunny at the ranch, long story, but he finally got brave enough to check out Speedy's feed pan. I snapped a bunch of photos, but this one I loved because both the bunny and Speedy introduced themselves to one another in the quietest, softest way possible. It reminded me of how much more gently we should tread as we interact with one another, both in real life and on social media.
Have a great weekend!
I left the barn at 11:00 p.m. Friday night, only to roll back in at 7:30 a.m. the next morning. I hadn't received a text from the ranch owner so I knew that nothing was wrong, but I needed to check Speedy myself. At first glance, he looked relaxed, if a bit thin.
I left him to his breakfast and saddled up Izzy. Even he was a bit distracted by Speedy being in Pixie and Archie's dry lot. There was a fair amount of hollering at first, but eventually all of the horses settled down when they realized we were just going to the arena and no further.
After riding Izzy, I pulled Speedy out for a good going over making sure I hadn't missed anything. The night before, I had hosed him off, but it was too dark to see anything other than a gaping wound (of which he didn't have). In the light of day, I noticed that his pasterns looked crusty and scabby.
I now know why he was so sore the day before. The rubs weren't there on Friday, and he didn't wear the bell boots on Friday night, the night of the earthquake. I think the rubs just took a day before popping out. I filled a bucket with clean water and iodine prep solution. I grabbed a clean towel and a variety of ointments and skin topicals. Three of his four pasterns bore rub marks from the bell boots, the very items I used to protect him. They ranged in severity from very slight on the front pastern, to obviously painful in the back.
We have a two-day USDF show this weekend, so I have been babysitting those rubs like crazy. The front one is no longer a concern, and one of the back ones looks pretty decent. The other one? It's a mess. He's sound, but it can't feel good. I am scrubbing them clean each day and coating them with coconut oil and adding a layer of Scarlex for good measure.
he ranch owner and I had a long chat about Speedy. He's lost three pasture pals since last fall. First, Pixie was moved over to live with Archie, and then Willy was sold. Speedy's latest pasture mate, Rocky, only stayed a month or so before moving up to the mountains. Frankly, he's been quite stressed out by the loss of his companions.
We decided that Speedy might be happier if we moved him into half of Izzy's dry lot pasture. Izzy's field is crossed fenced with an open gate that allows him access to both sides. Both areas have their own access gate, lots of trees for shelter, and for Speedy, two mares live directly in front of the half that is now his. I dragged all of Speedy's particulars to his new home: his feed bucket, salt block, a water trough, and a tub for his hay. I am hoping this will keep him from feeling so isolated. And so far, the pacing and whirling have disappeared. Even when I take Izzy out he's not concerned.
I've resisted putting my boys so close together out of fear that Speedy will grow too attached to Izzy and really freak out when I separate them. Jokes on me, I guess. The weird thing was that as soon as they were side by side, all three of us took a deep, relaxing breath. My sense of symmetry and balance was satisfied, and both boys looked instantly at peace.
In summation, Operation Bubble Wrap was an epic failure. The only good thing that came out of it all was that Speedy now lives right next door to Izzy which makes things a little more convenient for me. Here's to hoping this is a long term fix for Speedy's anxiety. He could really use some quiet time.
And that's that.