- 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.
I have no words.
We all know that's a lie. I always have words. And right now, they are particularly ... choice. Mother Forklift!
On Sunday, for my lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, Speedy was lame on his right front. We both agreed it wasn't a maybe he'll work out of it kind of lameness, but it didn't seem like anything to worry about. Speedy had just had his feet trimmed and there looked to be some bruising on his hoof wall. I put him away and rode Izzy instead.
My migraines made a reappearance this week, so yesterday was the first day since Sunday that I'd been out to the ranch. As soon as Speedy took a step towards me, my heart sank. Are you freaking kidding me? was all I could think as I rolled my eyes and flipped the universe the bird. With both hands.
I crammed a bunch of Numotizine into his foot and secured it with the usual. Good thing I bought so much duct tape last month. Here's to hoping that puppy blows out today so I can get my nearly Third Level horse back in the game.
Thanks goodness it's Friday. No, seriously. I mean it!
I've been changing my horses' supplements A LOT over the past few months. That's not something I take lightly. Changing what a horse eats can cause all sorts of problems, but it needed to be done.
The first thing I phased out was Speedy's Platinum Performance Healthy weight, a flaxseed oil. He's been eating this year's alfalfa with so much more enthusiasm that I decided to see how he'd do without the extra calories provided by the oil. So far, so good.
After that, I decided to cut out the Platinum Performance itself. I spent a couple of weeks bringing Izzy off of it by cutting the serving in half once a week. With a full bucket still in the feed room, Speedy is getting a half serving for the next two months until that bucket, too, is finished.
Both boys have been on PP's Hoof Support off and on over the past year and a half. That was always meant as a short term solution anyway, so I am thrilled that the tub is finally empty. I can now check that supplement off the list.
While I was in the middle of phasing out supplements, I suddenly found that Izzy's once very simple bucket had become unnecessarily complicated. As I eliminated one supplement, I found that I had added two. I only gave the UlcerGard for one month, so that is now done. After a lot of thought, I cancelled all future shipments of the SmartGI pellets. He will have had more than two months of "gut support": there was one month of UlcerGard followed by two months of SmartGI Pellets which began in the last week of the UlcerGard. That will have to do.
I think that supplements can be quite useful. Yellow Dog has been on a few lately. As a two-year-old, she started to become quite lame. We worked through a variety of things until they no longer worked. This year, she received a month long series of Adequan shots along with a vet recommended joint supplement. She's doing much better.
My horses, on the other hand, are healthy. They were healthy before the supplements, and I feel confident that they will continue to be so. I just got to the point where shipping and organizing and feeding got to be just too damn complicated. It is a very liberating feeling to be free of monthly buckets, wells, and tubs. Once the Platinum Performance and SmartGI Pellets run out, it will be just alfalfa and grass hay twice-a-day with LMF Senior for Speedy and a bit of beet pulp for Izzy.
And candy of course, peppermints for Speedy and butterscotch for Izzy. I am looking forward to a more simplified 2019.
The whole time I've owned horses, more than 30 years, I've always subscribed to the Keep It Simple, Stupid, or KISS method. Most supplements have always struck me as a great way to make expensive poop. You wouldn't know it by looking at Izzy's daily bucket.
Over the past few weeks, I've actually added some supplements to his already pretty complicated diet. It's frustrating and expensive, and I am working hard to whittle it back down to a simpler feeding routine.
His hay ration consists of twice daily armloads of high quality grass shipped in from Oregon. He also gets a bit of alfalfa to keep him happy. For now, his daily bucket includes:
I am just not seeing the results from the Platinum Performance that I was hoping to see. Not that I was looking for anything specific, but I had hoped for a better attitude and fewer reasons to call out the chiropractor. For the past month, both he and Speedy have been on a half serving. I just started my last bucket which should last them another two months. After that, no more Platinum Performance.
The Platinum Hoof Support should last another few weeks and that will be the end of that supplement. I never planned on giving it forever anyway. The plan was to give it for 3 - 4 months to help him grow some hoof. That has happened, so I am done with that one as well.
The SmartGI is a new normal. My vet recommended it, so it's an everyday addition for at least a year. Next fall, I'll reevaluate and see if we need a change. Of course, if things go haywire before then, I can always make a change sooner than later.
I have another few days of GastroGuard to administer, and then we'll be done with that one. I have seen a big change in Izzy's attitude though, so I may give the GastroGard when he leaves the property for something stressful or gets a dewormer.
I finally got to a point where feeding this horse has become more complicated and expensive than feeding myself. And all of it is just to "support" his health. Since I am not seeing concrete results, it leads me to believe that I may simply be creating expensive poop.
No one likes healthy poop more than me, but expensive poop is going too far. Bye-bye expensive bucket, hello less-expensive bucket!
Back when I started endurance riding in 1996 - can it be that long ago? - there weren't a lot of electrolyte formulas from which to choose. There was Lyte Now Electrolyte Paste, Endura-Max, and a few other cheaper brands that real endurance riders scoffed at. The selection was still so small that many riders mixed their own electrolytes from table salt and other ingredients. Now, Riding Warehouse has an entire page dedicated to just electrolytes.
I never mixed my own, but electrolytes were definitely part of my feed and maintenance program. For hundred mile events, I found Lyte Now paste to be the most convenient, especially when we rode a single loop 100-miler, meaning we never came back to camp until the finish. It was much easier to toss two or three syringes in your crew bag than to pack all the supplies necessary for administering the powdered form.
For rides where we came back to camp every few hours, it was cheaper to give powdered electrolyte and administer them at the trailer. Like many riders, I stocked up on jars of carrot and apple flavored baby food. I simply dumped the baby food into a red Solo cup, poured in my electrolytes, and thinned it all with a bit of water. Like every other rider, I administered it orally using a catheter syringe which looks like the syringe of any vaccination except it holds approximately 60cc and has a really fat tip.
In those days, my choice of electrolytes was Endura-Max. Even back then its formula most closely matched the ideal combination of elements necessary to actually replace what our horses were losing due to sweat. Many of the cheaper brands contained more glucose/sugar than anything else. There are five main electrolytes required by horses, namely: Sodium (Na⁺), Chloride (Cl⁻), Potassium (K⁺), Magnesium (Mg²⁺) and Calcium (Ca²⁺) and all play important roles within the horses’ body. - Source
Given that my horses no longer work nearly as hard nor as long as when I was training and competing in endurance races, their electrolyte needs are different. They still need them, but not at the same levels required for horses working for 10 - 24 hours at a time. Summer Games Electrolytes is made by Kentucky Performance Products, the same folks who created Endura-Max Electrolytes.
Even though it is hotter than Hades here in the summertime - last year we had nearly 70 days of triple-digit temperatures with lows in the high 70s to low 80s, I don't give electrolytes every day. My horses rarely work for more than 40 minutes a day, especially when it's that hot.
During the summer (which lasts 6 -8 months here), I give electrolytes before or after a lesson, any time we trailer somewhere (my trailer does not have A/C, and it gets HOT back there), and when we show. Since I don't administer electrolytes every two to three hours like I did when endurance riding, the syringe is no longer necessary (although I still keep a few around just in case). Now-a-days, I can mix a dose in with beet pulp or LMF Senior. Since Speedy also gets Flaxseed oil, adding a scoop of electrolytes goes unnoticed.
A few weeks ago I used the last bit of my electrolytes during an unseasonably hot spell. Since Riding Warehouse was running that sale on fly stuff, I tossed in a new bucket of electrolytes. Since summer is now here to stay, I'll be needing them for afternoon lessons and shows.
For those of you who live in more humid climates, do you use electrolytes, and if so, how often?
I am not really a fan or a believer in the efficacy of supplements. For the most part, I subscribe to the notion that they simply create very expensive poop. With that said, my monthly supplement bill has gotten pretty high.
I do have an explanation though. According to my vet, the west coast's hay is usually lacking in a few key vitamins and minerals, namely Vitamin E and Selenium. He thinks most of California's horses should be on at least a vitamin and mineral supplement.
After a lot of research and examination of my budget, both boys are on Platinum Performance. The main reason that I chose this particular vitamin and mineral supplement is that it covers every base. Any time someone says, "Maybe your horse is deficient in X," I can rule it out as a cause. Platinum Performance has every possible amino acid, trace and macro mineral, vitamin, or "chondroprotective" substance you can feed a horse.
Last winter, despite being fed copious amounts of good quality alfalfa, beet pulp, and rice bran, Speedy got pretty ribby by late winter. In fact, it took all summer for him to finally add some weight back to his frame, and even then he was still less than a 5 on the body condition scale.
After even more research and examination of my budget, I recently opted to put him on Platinum Performance's Healthy Weight. There were two main reasons I chose Healthy Weight over other brands like Cool Calories or Fat Cat. The first reason is that Healthy Weight is made from flax oil which has a better Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio than most of the other fat supplements out there. The fatty acids are the "good fats" that cells need to function, but Omega-6s are thought to be pro-inflammatory.
The second reason that I chose Healthy Weight was its price. Believe it or not, it's fairly comparable to the cost of most other fat supplements. In fact, at $0.66 a day, it's a lot less expensive than feeding rice bran, at least at the quantities that I was feeding rice bran.
Enter Speedy's third supplement, Platinum Hoof Support. This is a short term addition to his supplements list. Once his hoof has regrown, he'll have no need for additional "hoof support." I chose Platinum Hoof Support for the simple reason that it might help and certainly won't hurt.
Just like all of Platinum's other formulas, Hoof Support goes above and beyond the typical hoof formula. This version contains several amino acids responsible for hoof growth, which Speedy desperately needs right now. It also has Zinc Gluconate which is involved in the hardening of the hooves.
Additionally, Hoof Support contains Copper Gluconate which is shown to help connect hoof cells. For good measure, Hoof Support also has Manganese and Biotin which help strengthen the hoof wall and other structures.
With these three supplements given daily, Speedy's poop is now costing in excess of $3.42 a day. Of course, that dollar amount doesn't include the extra feed he gets. He also eats LMF Senior twice a day (3 pounds in the morning and a pound and a half at night) and Beet Pulp (a pound and a half at night).
My board bill includes all of the alfalfa that he'll eat. While I haven't weighed his hay in a long time, we feed based on how much hay he has left from the meal before. On the rare afternoon that I show up and he has actually eaten all of his hay, I toss him a bit of grass hay to tide him over until dinner.
As I was scooping and mixing last night, I had to laugh at myself. For someone who doesn't think supplements really do anything, my feed routine sure has gotten complicated!
So here's a quick update on Izzy's sarcoid. The wound site isn't clear yet, but it's looking good, and Izzy isn't bothered by me poking around at the scab. Not to be outdone by his older brother, Izzy gets his own daily ointment.
Would you believe it's the first jar of Swat I've ever purchased? Dr. Tolley suggested the Swat since the hole left by freezing off the sarcoid was pretty big, and it is a sensitive area after all.
It actually looks really good. There's no swelling, and as the scab shrinks, pink, healthy skin is showing through. I really want to just yank the scab off, but I am resisting as the scab is probably protecting that new skin from biting flies and dirt.
I'll let you know how it does once the scab falls away.
Have I mentioned that it's been particularly hot here? This summer is currently ranked as the third (maybe second) hottest summer in Bakersfield's recorded history. Heat does stuff to horses, and it's not all good.
In early August, a weird crack appeared in Speedy's heel. I cleaned it thoroughly and was relieved to discover that it didn't both him at all. He was sound, and I could poke and prod at the wound without Speedy even noticing.
When it didn't close, I started to worry a little. Since we were already at the vet for vaccinations, I asked Dr. Tolley to take a look. He wasn't quite sure what it was either, but explained that it was probably a small nick that was being irritated by dirt, flies, heat, and bright sunlight. He prescribed an antibiotic ointment and suggested I keep it wrapped until the crack closed up.
The wrap and the Animax ointment did the trick. Within a week, the crack was 99% closed and things were back to normal. Within less than a week, the crack reappeared, just as big as before. By this time, Izzy was at the vet for his hock injections, so I updated Dr. Tolley on Speedy's heel issue.
He wasn't overly freaked out about it, but he could see that I wanted/needed SOMETHING else to try. He even said that. Do you want something else? YES. Give me something that looks medicinal, and give it to me quickly!
To my surprise he gave me Genta Spray which is something we've used for our dog when he had a funky skin condition on his belly. It worked great for Tobias, so my hopes were high that it would work for Speedy.
I quit wrapping Speedy's foot (thank goodness as hoof wrappings are a serious pain in the butt), and per Dr. Tolley's recommendation, I fashioned a sun shade/fly swatter out of a sock and now keep that on his foot. You can sort of see the edges of it in the top photo.
I can't say the Genta Spray has worked miracles, but the crack does look better. It's not getting bigger, and Speedy is sound as can be. However ...
A friend recommended Equiderma for all funky skin ailments, so I just started putting that on the crack. I don't think it can hurt anything, and according to the comments on Facebook, most people love the stuff.
Who knows? Fewer daylight hours, less flies, and cooler weather might be all it needs. I'll be watching it to see!
Well hallelujah. Speedy has finally put on a few pounds. It took all summer, but he finally filled out under my leg again. It was when I saw this picture from our show a week or two ago that I noticed.
We all know that I've got some weird position thing going on in that photo, but ignore that. If you'll notice, Speedy's badonkadonk is looking nicely rounded, and he actually has a bit of a tummy.
Here he is in early May when I really started to worry.
He's obviously not emaciated or anything, but I like the flesh to cover the ribs and not stop half way. By mid-June, his ribs were covered in flesh, but just barely. He looked like this.
When he went to see the vet in early August, Dr. Tolley gave him a 4 on the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System. I am not comfortable with a 4. I want my horses flirting with a 6. Contrary to what I thought, the doctor assured me that he looked quite healthy and that there was no problem with Speedy's weight.
Here he is this week.
No, he is not pregnant. This is just an awkward place to take conformation photos as his front feet are in a hole. That makes his belly seem lower than it is. But since all three photos were taken in the same place, it's a good way to see the change in his form.
I don't know that he's put more on weight since Dr. Tolley last saw him, but he's definitely a bit rounder than he was earlier in the summer. Dr. Tolley agreed that he could easily carry a few more pounds, but putting them on was going to be a challenge.
Speedy already gets as much alfalfa as he'll eat, 3 pounds of LMF Senior each morning, 1 and a half pounds of beet pulp with another pound and a half of LMF in the evenings, and 2 scoops of Platinum Performance. Dr. Tolley said that if I really wanted him rounder, my next option was to add in a fat source that doesn't have any volume. When I've fed him rice bran, he just eats less hay. Speedy just can't fit any more in.
So far, I think I've settled on flaxseed oil, but I haven't ordered it yet. Platinum Performance has a product that I want to investigate further - Healthy Weight. But as with all things from PP, it's expensive.
If you've tried it, or something similar, let me know. Now that Speedy is nice and round, I'd hate for him to lose it all once it starts to cool off.
I've owned Speedy since he was a gangly three year old. He was all hips and withers back then. As he grew up, he filled out and eventually started packing on some pounds. He's always been a relatively easy keeper without the need for much in the way of supplements. He looked so good that quite a few people at a 2015 late fall show doubted me when I explained that he was indeed a purebred Arabian and not a warmblood/Arab cross.
Throughout 2016, Speedy lost a fair amount of his muscling when we struggled with an intermittent lameness. Then, in the summer, we moved to the ranch where we are now. With our current arrangement, Speedy gets turned out from dinner until breakfast. His daytime paddock has a cover, but he can go in and out at will during the night. So even when it rained over the winter, he had shelter at night.
By about January, I started expressing some concern to the ranch owner. Speedy was getting kind of ribby under his winter coat, something I've never seen him do before. We discussed his hay ration and agreed that he was getting pretty much all he could eat already. I increased his beet pulp and rice bran a little bit, but he never put the weight back on.
By spring, I could actually see a faint outline of ribs and his hips started to jut out a bit. As the weather warmed up, I was confident he would start packing on some pounds. He didn't. So by the beginning of May, I started to really worry that he might have a metabolic condition that was preventing him from gaining weight.
I had another conversation with the ranch owner expressing my concern with Speedy's weight. He was getting all of the alfalfa he would eat, I was supplementing with beet pulp, rice bran, and Platinum Performance, and yet, he still wasn't gaining back his pre-winter weight. I told her that if I didn't see some kind of change by the beginning of June, I was going to take Speedy in to the vet for some blood work.
Through our discussion, she pointed out that Speedy might simply be burning off more calories in his night turn out than we realized. At our last barn, where he lived for five years, Speedy had a large stall/paddock that was about 24 by 36 feet, generous by most standards. He had a small track worn into the ground where he paced and circled, but it wasn't big enough to walk miles. His current turnout is.
With that explanation as a possibility, my worries began to dissipate. We hatched out a new plan: she would feed a morning ration of a pound and half each of rice bran and LMF Gentle Balance (I may switch this out for a different formula when the bag is gone). In the afternoons, I would feed 3 - 4 pounds of beet pulp and another pound and a half each of the rice bran and LMF. That would all get topped off with his Platinum Performance.
A week later, I am already seeing the tiniest bit of padding starting to develop. He's getting a good eight pounds of supplemental feed daily in addition to all the alfalfa he can consume. I am giving him until the end of June to put on a bit more weight. If I don't see it, he's definitely getting some blood work done.
I wish I could simply walk off my excess pounds!