From Endurance to Dressage
Since we started Izzy on the new grass hay, he has been struggling a bit. At first, his poop got pretty funky, but only off and on. Then there was that lesson where I knew he wasn't feeling his best. It took about two weeks for the loose poop to disappear, but over the weekend, I could tell that he was just a bit off. He was more whoa than go which is not his normal MO.
On Monday, when he was still acting lethargic, it occurred to me that while his poop was once again looking great, his tummy might be a bit sour. The last time we went through this type of thing was actually two years ago in February. Whether the time of year has anything to do with it or not, I don't know, but I have started Izzy on the Gastro Elm again. It worked wonders for him in the past - until I overdid it.
He got the first dose on Monday, and with just one dose, he felt like he was back to normal. I still gave him another dose, but I have now learned that the Gastro Elm can be too much of a good thing, especially for Izzy. With that in mind, I am only going to give him just another couple of doses and then wait to see what he does.
We have some pretty dramatic weather on the way for the next few days, so I don't know whether I'll have a lesson or not. I am not even sure I'll get to ride him. If I don't get to ride, I'll view it as an opportunity to let his tummy settle back down. If I do get to ride, I'll be able to judge how he feels.
This time, I am searching for the Goldilocks effect, a just right amount.
The theme continues ...
First though, technical problems here ... I had just written most of this post when Weebly decided I needed to log back in, so my page closed without the courtesy of auto-saving what I had spent 30 minutes writing. Here are the Cliff Notes instead.
For the entire summer, Izzy's poop has been fabulous even when we've trailered for trail rides, lessons, or shows. I have grown to love that heavy thud that follows his very disgusting grunts. The dude really enjoys a good bowel movement.
Ulcers are a tricky thing, and I am not sure that they ever heal up completely, but for the past 5 months, Izzy's tummy has seemed to feel pretty good. And as proof, his poop is looking and smelling healthier than ever. While I haven't given him any GastoElm lately, I still keep a bag on hand in case his poop once again goes splat. While I originally thought he needed some kind of a maintenance dose, it turns out that his body, with some initial support, has been able to take care of business without my interference.
If your horse has weird poop or is prone to an ulcery tummy, might I suggest GastroElm? While I probably kept Izzy on it for too long, it definitely helped his tummy heal up enough that he's no longer grouchy when being groomed or slightly lame on the left hind leg.
While his skin heals after our heatwave, at least I don't have to worry about his poop. His GI tract seems to have recovered.
I know I've talked a lot about poop lately, and I promise this should be the last post for at least a few weeks on that topic (oh, Lord, let it be longer), but I do have some final (for now) thoughts. My one big take away from this recent round of tummy trouble is that one size does not fit all horses. I am not just talking about gastric supplements either.
If you've been reading for any length of time at all (thank you by the way), you'll know that I do my best to be honest. I don't sugar coat things, but I am a silver lining, glass half full kind of gal which means I tend to look for the positives in even the worst of situations. While I don't have all of the answers, I do share my opinions, especially when it comes to equine health care. Which is why I've been talking about poop.
When I finally saw that Izzy's tummy troubles needed a new solution and found the GastroElm, I pledged to give it to him every day for the rest of his life. That strategy ultimately backfired when the product turned out to be too much of a good thing. It also reaffirmed for me that there is no singularly correct way to care for our equine family members.
You've read all the articles: No Blanket Ever, Blanket All the Time. Barefoot is Best, Shod Hooves for Working Horses. No Injections, All of the injections. And on and on and on. Given how politically divided Americans are these days, it's no surprise that we apply the my way is the only way mentality to caring for a living creature.
I've had horses for 40 years, and in all that time I have learned that there is no one right way to do things. There is no one right way to do things for the same horse. One month Izzy needs GastroElm, and the next he doesn't. Izzy has shoes on the front, but he's barefoot in the back. Blanketing him only happens when there is a perfect storm of wind, rain, and low temperatures, all of which almost never happen at the same time where we live.
I may offer advice - usually only if asked, but it tends be of the well, one thing that has worked for me is ... type. Your milage may vary; I know mine sure does. With horses, my solution doesn't preclude yours from also being right. We all have so much good experience - some of it learned the hard way, that it seems a shame to disregard an idea just because it's not how you've always done it. If you think one size fits all, get a horse.
Am I right, or am I right?
This time, I'll try to spare you the photos of Izzy's poop. No guarantees, but I'll try. Here's a quick poop recap:
I looked at the calendar and saw that Sunday was to be the return of the GastroElm. Coincidence or proof of efficacy? My plan had been to give Izzy a 4 week break and then put him back on it based on need. I guess he needs it. Further proof was that after just the first dose, his poop firmed back up by the very next day. My new strategy is to give the GastroElm one week out of every month. This is that week.
Hopefully I can adjust the schedule so that he either gets it the first week of the month or the last. Three weeks off, one week on is a bit harder to keep track of when the week starts on the 20th of the month and the 17th on the next month. Before I make any hard and fast rules though, I'll see how it goes this week. Maybe I'll discover that he only needs 2 or 3 doses to firm his poop back up rather than a full week.
See no poop pictures! You're welcome.
You knew it wasn't going to be fire; that would be weird and scary. And since you know me pretty well, you know that poop is not something I shy away from discussing. There's so much to love about it.
A few weeks ago, Izzy's body worker suggested I take Izzy off the GastroElm for a while to see if that would firm his poop back up. If you'll remember, Izzy's poop was perpetually ploppy like mashed potatoes, and it was really sour smelling. Within a week after taking him off the Gastro Elm, the smell had disappeared, and his poop started to take shape. Oh, my goodness, you should see it now!
It is now well formed in distinct balls. It's still a wee bit soft, and no balls are rolling away as they land, but there are actually completely formed BALLS. Gross, I know, but when your buddy has pooped green mashed potatoes for the past five months, soft balls are something to cheer about.
Obviously, the Gastro Elm, while still a great product, is too much of a good thing. I love a glass of whiskey every now and then, but that doesn't mean I need to drink it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don't plan on giving up on the Gastro Elm, but I see now that it is best left for high stress situations. Izzy probably doesn't need a daily maintenance dose. Cheaper for me, so we'll see how it goes.
Maybe in another week we'll actually have poop balls that roll!
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
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: