From Endurance to Dressage
On Friday, I wrote about our Cool Calorie fail. It was disappointing, but the product wasn't to blame. It simply offered Izzy way too much energy for what his body needs. Izzy doesn't need more energy; he needs more mass on his body, more fat, more muscle, but how I get that without adding "energy" is a bit of a conundrum.
The way I understand equine nutrition is this: if your horse is too thin, he needs more food. While Izzy isn't "thin," he also doesn't have anything extra which means he needs at least a bit more food. There are three "types" of food for horses: fiber (hays and other forages), starches (grains like corn, oats, and barley), and fats (oils, rice bran, seeds).
Izzy gets all of the fiber he can eat in the form of a high quality grass hay. The stuff the ranch owner feeds has very little stems, if any, and an abundance of visible green grass blades. There is no part of it that he doesn't like. While starches offer a lot of energy in a small package, most of them are, for Izzy anyway, akin to rocket fuel. I avoid them at all cost, with one exception. Izzy gets several pounds of beet pulp each day. While beet pulp is not technically a starch, its energy level falls just below the starches and just above the forages.
The last type of food stuff, fats, is the one with which I am having the most trouble. Izzy already gets a pound and a half of rice bran daily, but it's not quite enough. If I increase his rice bran, he eats less hay which means his net caloric intake doesn't really increase. What I am looking for is a way to add fat that doesn't cause him to a) explode with uncontainable energy and b) eat less hay.
I was hoping that the Cool Calories would do that, but alas, it did not. To check that Thursday's ride wasn't just due to "one of those days," I did not give Izzy the Cool Calories in his Thursday lunch bucket. On Friday morning, I hopped up on him and found a PERFECT gentleman. In fact, I had to give him a pretty hard kick to get him to even trot. From the moment I got on, he was pliable, malleable, and soft as butter. He was that way on Wednesday, too, as well as over the weekend. Thursday, the morning after the full dose of Cool Calories, was the only day where he was anything but pleasant. While this is a teeny tiny data set from which to draw a conclusion, I am going to anyway. A single scoop of Cool Calories was about the same as giving the Big Brown Horse crack.
The equine community is a great resource though. When I shared Friday's post on my Facebook page, Michelle C. left me a very helpful comment. She's been feeding Nutra-Flax, a milled flaxseed product, to a variety of horses for four or five years and suggested it as a fat source. What finally persuaded me to try the product, besides Michelle's endorsement, was that Nutra-Flax is SUPER stable and comes with a two-year stability/shelf-life guarantee - not that I would let it sit around that long, of course.
I also know that Izzy tolerates flaxseed oil very well, and we all know that it's rich in protein, dietary fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike flaxseed oil, this stuff is easy to feed, and since it's already milled, I can just scoop and top dress his beet pulp and rice bran with no grinding. Cost-wise, it's also really cheap at $0.39 for a two-ounce serving.
Even though I am not 100% sure Izzy will tolerate it, I went ahead and ordered a twenty-five pound pail because I'm going to put Speedy on it as well. I used the flaxseed oil for him during the colder months, and it did help him hold his weight over the winter. A twenty-five pound pail should contain two hundred, two-ounce servings. I'll stick with two ounces for now.
Let's hope the milled flaxseed adds calories but not energy because if not, Speedy's going to be eating flaxseed for six straight months whether he likes it or not!
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%: