From Endurance to Dressage
Here in central California, we don't usually get much of a winter. Our winter is what most people call autumn. It's typically chilly and damp with about 4 days of rain spread over 4 months. Our annual rainfall averages around 7 inches. My parents got 6 inches in the week I visited - they live in northern California along the coast.
According to our local meteorologist, Miles Muzio, December "was the 3rd wettest on record (going back to 1889) with 2.60" having fallen on 10 different days. That is a full inch and a half above normal." Stop laughing! I know it sounds paltry when compared to the rest of the world, but we're drowning in puddles over here. With rain comes mud, and since my boys - who live in large sandy paddocks, want to stand next to each other all day long, they're slogging through hoof deep mud.
Since there is no way I am picking out that grossness, I've resorted to hosing off legs before I pick out hooves. I think I've only done that a handful of times in the ten years I've been boarding in this neighborhood. Right now, it's my daily routine - hose, pick hooves, repeat for horse number 2. It takes an extra few minutes, but it saves me from getting my hands and breeches all muddy.
Besides the mud, Izzy is also being plagued by ploppy poop. The kind that the Gastro Elm had been helping firm up. Since about October, his poop has varied from formless to a few balls nestled in goop. After struggling with the same issue last year, I put him on Gastro Elm and things cleared up immediately. This fall/winter, the problem is much less severe, but still there. A year ago in December, I also treated Izzy with a week's worth of psyllium.
If you don't live anywhere with sandy soil, you might not have ever used psyllium. Since my horses don't like to eat off the ground, I rarely use it either. Psyllium husks are high in fiber and are believed to help remove sand from the gut. Psyllium can also help heal inflammatory bowel disease or other lesions in the colon. Because of these effects, psyllium is often a useful addition to the diet for horses with chronic diarrhea.
I didn't notice much difference last year after using the psyllium because I also started the Gastro Elm. I know for sure that the Gastro Elm helped because Izzy gained a ton of weight in the first month he was on it. I never thought to attribute any of the improvement to the psyllium. That's the trouble with trying several things at the same time; it's difficult to tell which one did the trick.
When the chiropractor came out last week, I mentioned the ploppy poop. Later that evening, CC called and asked how long it had been since I had given Izzy a course of psyllium. First of all, it was really thoughtful of him to call me to offer some advice. Second, I realized an entire year had passed since the last psyllium dose. The next day I stopped by the feed store.
So far, Izzy has had three of the seven day's worth. While the Gastro Elm certainly works, I have to wonder if the use of the psyllium should be something I include throughout the year. I glanced over at his various poop piles, and I did see plenty that were well formed, but it's hard to tell with all of the mud. I'll have a better idea of how well the psyllium worked by this weekend.
Let's hope for lots of solid poop balls.
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%: