From Endurance to Dressage
Fluphenazine: Day 1 With Hay
Sydney's nose buried in the hay bag.
I am not really sure this is Fluphenazine related, but since it was the Fluphenazine that got this topic going, I figure this is still a follow up.
But before that update, here's another: Sydney is on day 3 of Smartpak's SmartCalm Ultra Pellets. Smartpak says, Is your horse especially anxious, inattentive or spooky? SmartCalm Ultra Pellets are an herb-free formula designed to support proper nervous system function, helping to minimize skittishness. SmartCalm Ultra Pellets offer a comprehensive approach to calming by providing 10,000 mg of Magnesium, 550 mg of Vitamin B1, 2,000 mg of Inositol (a B vitamin relative), and 125 mg of L-Tryptophan. This essential amino acid is converted into serotonin, a hormone that may increase feelings of wellbeing and contentment, helping to calm and soothe.
I put zero stock in its efficacy, but hey, maybe it will do something productive. By the way, I did run it by Dr. B. first. Her response? Probably won't hurt, might help. Basically, she and I both feel that it just makes his poop a bit more expensve. In any case, I am giving it a try. It's not terribly expensive, and if it helps, then it's worth it.
Back to the hay discussion. Erica, over at Of Academia and Horses described Sydney's food anxiety perfectly. She referred to it as his food alarm. That's precisely what it has felt like! Tuesday's feeding schedule worked perfectly. I pulled Sydney out of his stall and plopped a hay bag in front of his nose. While his head was buried in the bag, the neighbor came by to feed the other three horses. Sydney never even looked up. He munched as I groomed and saddled which took at least fifteen minutes.
I headed out to the arena and was pleased that he already seemed slightly more relaxed. I hopped on and discovered that I still had a pretty naughty boy.
Me: Are you sure, Sydney?
Sydney: Yes, OMG let me RRRUUUUNNN
Me: Okay, If that's how you feel, but you're going to have to move a lot.
As I asked for the canter, I was rewarded with some small bucking, some small rearing, and a hell bent for leather gallop which I was forced to pulley halt. After that, I was able to keep him on something that resembled a circle as we galloped. Around, and around, and around. Little by little, he began to let up and the gallop became a softish canter. After asking nicely for a downward transition and getting no response, I pulled him to a hard halt. I immediately sent him the other direction which started out just as ferociously as the left circle had.
He finally asked to trot, but I put my leg on and pushed him with my seat forward into more canter. I could just hear him thinking, crap. Good! I finally asked for a trot, and got it! He gave me some pretty decent trot circles both directions and offered something similar to a stretch. Okay! This was something I could work with. We tried to finish the whole thing off with some stretchy free walk, but he decided to be a stinker in our far corner. This required some more Oh, crap! work, but it served the purpose. As soon as he walked by the corner without a freak out, I halted in the corner and hopped off. I hand walked him through the corner a few more times to really make my point and then we were done.
When we got back to the barn, I put the hay bag away, placed him on the cross ties, and took my time unsaddling and grooming. My point was to make getting finished not such a wildly rewarding experience. When Sydney went back to his stall, his feeder was empty. I could see the wheels turning as his eyes followed me to the hay stack. I grabbed his dinner and nonchalantly tossed it into the feeder. This may not sound all that encouraging, but last week I accomplished nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Goose egg. On Tuesday, I at least got some decent trotting and even achieved some stretch. I think we're on to something.
Did he learn anything? I don't know, but I am hoping he catches on to the idea that the afternoons mean LOTS of cantering if he's not relaxed.
And the testing continues.
1/25/2012 11:11:46 pm
Sounds to me like you're on to something. Patience and consistancy seems to make the difference. Some of my hard lessons with horse behavior was inconsistancy. If I felt I didn't have time to address a relatively minor issue one day, I let it slide, but on another day I corrected it. It seems to encourage them to challenge my authority, and be unsure who really was the boss. That led to potentially dangerous challenges to my authority. My lesson learned NO miss behavior is too small to patiently correct!
1/26/2012 09:29:33 pm
You are so right, Judy. Speedy is the worst about taking the proverbial mile if I give him an inch. Sydney not so bad, but still ... Each day I just chip away at his lack of belief in my role as the boss. He'll get it! :0)
1/25/2012 11:49:15 pm
I give the adhd boy of mine smartcalm and it makes a huge difference! However, he is nothing like Sidney so it will be interesting to see if it helps him. My boy would fly into a panic at any sound or movement, and I couldnt keep his attention because he was so high strung when I got him.
1/26/2012 09:31:50 pm
Well awesome! Maybe I am not creating expensive poop after all! JL, my current trainer recommended it also. She felt it worked. The Fluphenazine month is coming to an end and the Smartpak month is overlapping just slightly. We'll see in a few weeks how this all comes together. My hope is that by mid spring we're rockin' and rollin'. Thank you for sharing. Hope Bossy is doing well! :0)
1/26/2012 02:16:56 am
Sometimes it just takes a combination of little things to get them sorted out... Baby progress is still progress!
1/26/2012 09:34:18 pm
EXACTLY! I am just slowly chipping away at all of his reasons to fuss. And the truth is that I've only owned him since July - barely seven months. It always takes time to really develop a harmonious relationship with a horse. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Magnesium and B vitamins are supposed to do the trick if there is a deficiency. I have read that some thoroughbreds who are very tense improve with magnesium calmers, but I guess only time will tell!
1/26/2012 09:36:47 pm
Coming from a scientist, that means more than the blurb in the catalog!
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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.
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