From Endurance to Dressage
Most readers will know that Izzy struggles with tension. He's so tense and worried that he gives himself a sour tummy. A little over a year ago, he had a minor colic. Before that event, I had tried numerous attempts at soothing his tummy including a month long experiment with Ulcer Guard. I've talked to my vet about it, and we've done all of the things - free choice hay, 24 hour a day turn out, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, magnesium, and on and on. After the minor colic, I finally found a product that soothed his tummy; Gastro Elm.
The GastroElm worked so well that by the end of the first month, Izzy had gained a hundred pounds, the tenderness at his flanks disappeared, and his poop was once again falling in satisfying balls. I bought another bag. At the end of that bag, I started buying two bags at a time. It worked so well that I was all in. I determined that Izzy would get a dose every day for the rest of his life.
For the first month, he was getting at least two doses a day. After six weeks, I put him on the maintenance dose of one tablespoon per day. Sometime in the fall, his poop started to get sloppy again. My job got crazy busy in September which I wasn't at the ranch every day, so he wasn't getting a dose every day. I chalked the sloppy poop up to the missed doses. Through November and December, his poop ranged from cow pies to super soft balls that looked more like mash potatoes than equine road apples.
By January, his poop had started to stink. All poop stinks of course, but horse poop has a "good" stink. The stink Izzy was pooping out was anything but good, It smelled sour and reminded me of the smell of bile and vomit. So gross. I really didn't know what to do about it. He has been gaining weight all winter and his coat looks pretty good. It's not fabulous, but he also started shedding so he's in that molting stage where he looks a bit mangy with patches that have shed and others that haven't.
When CC, Izzy's body worker, came out this past weekend, we got to chatting about the weird, sour smell Izzy was emitting when he pooped or farted. CC told me that he has since put several of his own horses on GastroElm after seeing what it had done for Izzy over the past year. Recently, though, one of his mares hasn't been looking as shiny as she should be, and an old skin irritation has returned, all of which prompted him to wonder if the GastroElm might be too much of a good thing.
His plan is to take his horses off of it for a few weeks and reintroduce it. He suggested giving it for ten days and then taking the horse off of it for twenty days to see what happened. In Izzy's case, he wondered if the ingredients, Slippery Elm, Marshmallow Root, and a few other herbs, might be altering Izzy's gut flora too much. Horses and humans all need the microorganisms, predominantly bacteria, that populate our intestines. Getting rid of all the bacteria can cause diarrhea.
According to GastroElm's website:
It forms a smooth gel that acts almost like an internal bandage when mixed with water. It coats and soothes the stomach and digestive tract to help the animal feel better very quickly.
Slippery elm soothes and lubricates the mucous membranes that line the digestive tract. That makes it an excellent treatment for ulcers, gastritis, colitis and other inflammatory bowel problems. It’s high in fiber, which helps normalize intestinal action.
I know it works because for the first three or four months that Izzy was on it, he looked and felt better. Now, he's still gaining weight, but his poop and the odor that comes with it seem to suggest he might need a break. So, over the weekend I pulled the GastroElm from his diet. My plan is to give him a three to four week break, watching for any changes in the odor or texture of his poop. I'll make changes based on what I see.
I know that GastroElm is a great product, and I will continue using it. In fact, two new bags arrived the other day. It seems that a dose a day for the rest of Izzy's life might have been a bit of overkill. I'll see what happens in a couple of weeks, and then I'll use it more on an as needed basis.
Apparently, too much of a good thing can be bad. Who knew?
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%