From Endurance to Dressage
Hoopla is probably too strong of a word. It starts with H though, and fifth grade is all about alliteration. Have I ever mentioned that my class mascot is a stallion? Yep, we're Sweaney's Stallions. We even have class t-shirts.
So if it's a hoopla, what's all the hoopla? Well, without intending to jinx myself, Izzy seems to be holding onto this round of shoes. Horseshoe gods, please don't take this as a challenge. We're just over half-way through the shoeing cycle, and his usually short toes are starting to look rather longish; comparatively speaking of course.
When my farrier was out last, I reminded him that I had started Izzy on Platinum Hoof Support. He gave a surprised, "Oh! That might be why his feet looked better."
Izzy's hooves weren't miraculously longer or anything, but my farrier did feel as though they weren't as soft and shelly. Of course, it takes months for real progress, but at least his hooves don't look worse.
I ordered another tub last night which will last 6 weeks. At $52.43, which includes tax and shipping, the stuff isn't cheap. At $1.11 per serving, it's actually downright expensive. Let's not forget that Speedy gets 1/2 cup of Platinum Healthy Weight at $1.67 a day, and BOTH boys get a serving of Platinum Performance at $1.96 per day, each.
Hoopla indeed! I spend $3.07 a day on Izzy's supplements and another $3.93 on Speedy. And that $7.00 a day doesn't count the three bags of LMF senior that I buy every month nor the beet pulp that I buy now and again.
Holy hoopla, Batman! I need to get some lower maintenance ponies.
Well hello there. I guess this means I'm back. It was a long week, but the migraines have (mostly) subsided - I hope. Even though I took a blogging break and a few days off from riding, the one thing I really couldn't do was miss work. That pays the (equine) bills after all, so I struggled through the week.
I did manage to at least bring the barn to my classroom though as any pony time makes everything better. In the afternoons, my kiddos worked all week on some science stations where they explored activities that had to deal with conserving Earth's resources. In one of the stations, the kids had to build a model of coal formation. The model required dead leaves (easily found right outside my classroom door), rocks, and "sediment."
My students were actually quite impressed to work with ranch dirt. When it came time to pour it into the model, everyone insisted on getting a turn to pour. Kids are so funny.
I run a very relaxed classroom where kids sit at tables instead of desks and where movement around the room is encouraged. Fifth graders simply can't sit for too long of a period before they erupt - sometimes literally.
I do a lot of small-group instruction in a space that is not large enough for 31 kids. That means my students meet with me in an area that we've carved out of the front of my classroom. There's not room for a table, and since my "small" groups sometimes number 15, we usually just sit on the floor - myself included.
At 47 years of age, sitting on the floor for 30 minutes at a time is no longer easy. If you're my age, you get it. If you're not yet approaching 50, you'll understand in about 20 years. My knees and hips just couldn't take it any longer. I love the intimacy of sitting so close to my kiddos though. When we're all at the same level, the instruction is much more personal, and kids contribute more to the discussion.
I had a year's worth of Platinum Performance buckets stacked in the feed room. It didn't feel right to toss them as they are good, sturdy buckets, so I brought them to school. I used a few of them for storing PE equipment, but I had a bunch left over. After one particularly painful morning, I glanced at the stack of unused buckets and came up with a plan.
With the help of one of my students, we covered the Platinum label with a bit of contact paper that was buried in a back cupboard. Some of you might remember my post about hoarding all of the things. You never know when something might come in handy! With the label (mostly) covered - my helper was only 10, and I am not particularly crafty, the buckets make pretty cute little stools.
They have been a roaring success. The students love them, my knees love them, and they take up virtually no room once stacked and stored in the corner. And the best part is that if one gets broken, I can replace it easily as I get a new bucket every month. Thank you, Platinum Performance!
I have one last barn to work story. Since I sit on the floor every day, my work wardrobe runs on the casual side. On top of that, I teach PE daily, and frankly, kids are just messy. Last week I wore white shorts and ended up dropping a loaded rubber stamp right on my pant leg. They now read correct and return in bright blue. The kids thought it was funny. I had to agree.
A month or so ago, I bought that burgundy wrap (above) for a dress that was getting too big (long story) and realized it went great with my sleeveless blouse. With the mornings being cooler, I thought it would look great with a pair of leggings that I don't have. I glanced up at my Horze Full Seat Tights and thought why not?
Not gonna lie, I got a ton of compliments on the outfit. No one could tell they were riding pants. And the best part? They were the most comfortable pants I have ever worn to work, especially while sitting on a bucket.
If you can't be at the barn, bring the barn to work.
Every few months I like to reevaluate what my boys are eating. I am sure you do the same thing, so chime in with your feed protocol.
With property values so high and water so limited here in California, there aren't many facilities where horses get to live on grass. If they're lucky enough to get grass, it's usually pretty short, and not plentiful enough to live on. The ranch owners where my boys live have several large lawn areas in front of the house reserved for occasional grazing. After riding, I nearly always let one of them loose to graze for 20 - 30 minutes a day.
The ranch owner buys excellent quality hay which is good since that's mostly what my boys eat. This year's alfalfa is particularly nice with fine stems and lots of green leaves. The grass hay is so good that Speedy prefers it to the alfalfa. Since it's not calorie dense enough, he only gets it while I am tacking up.
Speedy gets up to three weighty flakes of alfalfa a day, depending on how much he eats. If he hasn't cleaned up most of the hay from the previous feeding, he only gets one flake. He likes to eat, but when he's had enough, he walks away.
Izzy gets up to three large flakes of grass hay and two very thin alfalfa flakes a day. Right now, he's in a hoover it all up stage. After a while, he'll slow down on the grass hay, but he'll always finish the alfalfa. When he slows down on the grass hay, the ranch owner makes the flakes a bit smaller. He's such a chunk right now that if she gave him any more he might pop, but I like him nice and round.
Speedy's a hard one to feed. He could live on just hay, but he simply won't eat enough of it to get a rosy bloom. I can't get his corners rounded on just hay. If I give him too much supplemental feed, he feels satiated and quits eating the hay. I've landed on a good balance this year with all the alfalfa he'll eat and five pounds of LMF senior split into two feedings.
To add even more calories to his diet, I also feed a half cup of Platinum's Healthy Weight flaxseed oil. Price-wise it's cheaper than the LMF. I go through three bags a month of that (at $20 a bag) while the flaxseed oil lasts nearly two months (for around $62). The oil is very convenient to feed, and Speedy likes it enough to eat every drop.
Izzy is much easier to feed. Combined with the hay, he gets about three quarters of a pound of shredded beet pulp with an added pound of LMF senior. The LMF is really just to treat him after a ride. If he doesn't get ridden, he gets about half a pound of the LMF.
I used to scoff at supplements. And even today, I still question their efficacy. If money were really tight, the first thing I'd get rid of would be the supplements. But since my budget allows for them, I give them with fingers crossed that they're actually doing something helpful.
Both boys get two scoops daily of Platinum Performance Equine, the wellness and performance formula. Since both of my boys were healthy and fit before I started them on Platinum Performance, I never saw a sudden bloom develop. Of the two horses, Speedy already had a silky coat and lovely feet before I started the Platinum Performance supplement, so it's hard to say whether it has done anything other than make up for any nutritional deficiencies.
Since Izzy's feet need some help, I am also feeding Platinum Hoof Support once a day. None of Platinum's products are cheap, but I feel better knowing that the formulas were created by a veterinarian and that there is research to support the product claims. If anything, I know the products aren't hurting my horses.
I've mentioned this about 10,000 times already, but Speedy loves hard candies. He gets two of them after every ride and anytime I think he's earned it. There are not enough of those times in his opinion. I've also started tossing two peppermints in his morning bucket which the ranch owner feeds. He hadn't really warmed up to her, so I suggested she give him some candies every morning. I haven't heard whether it's working or not.
Izzy like the LMF and grass, so those are his treats. He's not as big on the candies, and cookies are only meh. LMF works for me since I already keep several bags on hand.
I know this sounds like a complicated feeding regimen, but it takes me less than five minutes to fill up my buckets. It's the first thing I do when I get to the barn. I feed as the last thing I do, so my buckets are always rinsed and waiting for me the next day.
So, what's in your horse's bucket?
Thanks a lot, California. Your super hot and dry conditions finally wore Izzy down. His feet that is. Two years ago this month, my farrier pulled the last shoe, and Izzy's been barefoot ever since. The hinds had been pulled the year before.
I am not anti-shoe at all, but Izzy just couldn't keep those front shoes on. He plays hard, and he loves to put his feet on, under, and around anything that will (might) bear his weight. All of that playfulness meant that his shoes were constantly getting ripped off. Eventually, he had hardly any foot left upon which to nail a shoe.
After some initial tenderness, Izzy's soles toughened right up, and he was sound as a dollar, until now. With conditions so dry here in the Golden State, Izzy has been chipping off his hoof wall faster than it can grow. Over the past six months, his feet have gotten so short that my farrier had nothing left to trim. Izzy finally came up sore footed.
After his most recent trim, if you can even call it that, Izzy looked like he had laminitis. He was so sore on his front feet that each step made me wince. I put in a call to my farrier and asked what we could do to get Izzy back in business. My farrier was actually surprised that it had taken Izzy this long to get tender. He'd been expecting a phone call long before this.
While I didn't want to do it, we agreed that Izzy needed front shoes again. My farrier came out late last week and popped on a new set of front shoes. Izzy was instantly sound. I also put him on Platinum Hoof Support, the supplement that I used for Speedy last year. It stimulates hoof growth and hardens the hoof, both are things Izzy needs right now.
Due to an unrelated hind end tweak combined with the sore front feet, Izzy hadn't been ridden in nearly three weeks. I finally got to ride him over the weekend, and while he was sound, he was also a complete jack ass.
Woohoo? Horses ...
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!
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 the lower levels. 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%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%