From Endurance to Dressage
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!
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
2021 Pending …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
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 (***)
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