From Endurance to Dressage
Now that winter is Game On, I thought I'd take a minute to review my feed and supplement routine.
We've had some very cold weather here in California's central valley. Our winter temps are commonly in the 40s and 50s with cloudy skies that threaten rain that rarely arrives. We live in what's known as a rain shadow. The mountains on our three sides get all of the rain before the clouds can finally lift themselves over and reach us. We do get some rain of course, but it's usually less than six inches a year.
This winter, instead of rain, we've had unusually low temperatures. For several weeks, our skies have been brilliantly blue and cloudless, which has allowed our temperatures to plunge into the 20s with highs barely reaching into the 40s. It's been cold.
I don't body clip my horses, but I don't blanket them either. Even with this cold weather, my boys have had only their winter coats and their nightly hay to keep them warm. I've been quite happy to see that even though it has been quite brisk at night, both boys seem to be holding their weight well. Their coats are dense and thick, and all their bony points are well padded. I try to groom both boys each day to remove the sand that attaches itself to their coats. I don't know if it helps them to stay warmer, but I always feel that fluffing their hair must do some good. With little to no rain, mud hasn't been a factor. And even when it does rain, both boys enjoy the barn roof and tend to sleep "indoors."
I set our feed scale to re-measure my boys' nightly beet pulp to make sure I was still feeding what I thought I was feeding. I usually increase their supplemental feed a bit during the colder months, but this winter I've actually fed a bit less than before.
Both boys get a pound and a half of shredded beet pulp ...
... and then they split another pound and a half of rice bran pellets. Most winters, they each get their own pound and half serving, but since they're holding their weight so well this winter, they're just getting the shared portion for now.
I didn't bother to weigh the hay this time as my barn owner re-weighed when the last load of hay came in. And the truth is, she wants everyone to have plenty to eat and then some, so we mostly check to see that nobody's feeder gets too empty too quickly.
Speedy gets alfalfa/oat cubes at night. I haven't weighed the bucket lately, but the three shovel fulls that get dumped in weigh about ten pounds. In the morning he gets a solid flake and then some of alfalfa hay. When I arrive in the afternoon, there's still lots of stems and some leaves left in his hay net and on the ground. If there is too much wasted hay, we feed just a little less in the morning.
For Sydney, we just try to keep something in his hay net at all times. I feed two large flakes of alfalfa in the afternoon, but there is always a pile of hay at the bottom of the feeder from the morning. He gets a flake and a half to two flakes in the morning.
If I boarded at a big barn, I am sure that my boys wouldn't get such unlimited access to hay, but that's why I am where I am. The last place I boarded at was managed by a guy who fed each horse according to his work load and size so Speedy had ample feed while there. I am willing to pay whatever it takes so that my boys have hay in front of them at all times. I think it helps their overall health.
My barn owner prides herself on providing the best living arrangement possible for the horses under her roof. Stalls are cleaned meticulously; the boys are fed generously; turnout is a priority; flies are managed; and the general atmosphere is always one that encourages the horses to be relaxed and happy.
I love Boarding Heaven. Only happy horses live here!
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%: