Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Foodstuffs

I am going to do my best here to incorporate both the beasts back into the blog, even though the horse I am/will be riding the most is Bacardi. Yankee will always be best pony and he is forever my heart horse and OG. 

Good news all around on the Yankee front;

1. He has returned to work
2. He is moving to The Palace (EME barn nicknamed by me)
3. He is getting fat
4. He has a leaser (more on this later)

Do I have to get up
How freaking adorable is he?? Woke up to the two ponies sleeping outside my window, so of course I dashed out to get pics thinking they would get up soon. I literally had to pry Yankee off the ground to come in for breakfast. SO adorable.

So the most earth shattering news is that Yankee got to go back to work. 

Technically, per vet discharge notes, it says nothing about "light lunging allowed" but my line of thinking s if he can be out in a pasture 8 hours a day where can gallop around (and DOES), he can be lunged ten minutes a day.

Showing off
The count down has commenced for flatwork though, and I literally can't wait. I haven't been on his back in over TWO years and he was so bored having been off and confined to small spaces since February. I plan to lightly lunge him every 3 days or so for about 10 minutes, just to get some movement back and try and get the small remaining swelling down from his incision site.

Otherwise, hoping to build a little muscle, since his topline is almost nonexistent despite recent weight gain. He was SO happy when I pulled out the bridle. Even with the "wrong" bit (he favors a fat french link, and I of course sold all my spare tack on ETT) he was working well and I was mildly impressed at how supple he seemed.

I even let him canter for a few rounds each way, and minus a small, light-hearted, exuberant bucking fit, he was so workmanlike and lovely, I almost cried. Seriously look at that uphill canter. I swear this isn't just a cherry picked screenshot, this is how he went around the entire time.

I almost forgot how easy and cool he is to work with after 2 years away from him. At 14, he's just so steady and really knows his jobs and loves it. As I mentioned previously, he was so incredibly bored standing around in a small paddock. Its almost like he was overjoyed to be back at work!

Here's a few more semi-boring gratuitous screenshots from lunging that I couldn't stop swooning over. I seriously stared at them for hours. Admiring my horse and all his wonderful, fat, relaxed glory.

I mean SERIOUSLY, he's so perfect.

The most uphill

The most active 
So really what I wanted to talk about here besides a super boring lunging sesh (I am anything but bored by it, since he was hanging on the brink of death a few months ago, but thats just me), is his DRASTIC weight change in just a few weeks.

Pictured below was 11 days post-op, right off the trailer at the boarding/recovery barn. I wish he was shaved so you could see his body condition a bit better, but I'm sure using your imagination isn't too difficult considering his hipbones are sticking out and he looks like he's 37 years old.

The second picture is approx 8 weeks post op (I think) and his caretaker at the boarding barn had him for 5 of those weeks and I had him for about 2. His caretaker/vet did an amazing job of weaning him back on to grain and carefully compiling a structured feed program to get him back on the eating game. A lot of it was forage at first, and still is.

The difference is astounding to me. There's a bit of winter coat in there, but he gained so much in-between those two pictures, it was crazy! He has only been making gainz since then as well and currently is a little nugget! I think he might almost be TOO fat now, with the biggest hay belly ever, but I'll take it.

Belly all tucked in from strutting
I've done a terrible job getting progress pics, and I wish I had done a weekly thing, but I didn't so, WHOMP WHOMP. Still pretty evident.

So what I wanted to do was share my "secrets". I say secrets because they aren't really secrets and I don't know everything about equine nutrition. In fact, I learned a lot along the way with his vet.

I used to think equine nutrition was just about fat and protein content and that was about it. High protein was good and high fat was good, for my OTTBs.

Then I learned stuff and things, and its not always about the "highest amount of protein and fat" wins the best grain award.

For Yankee, because of his ulcers and propensity to colic, as well as his severe malnutrition, I was advised to keep his starch as low as possible, as well as a high fiber content and low sugar.

WTF I had to compare starch, fiber and sugar content now too?

Unfortunately, not all feed labels their grain with starch content on the bag, so I took to google. I have always been big on SafeChoice grains when my boys were home, the "performance" kind., and his vets recommened the SafeChoice brand as well. There are better grains, but we have limited options here and getting fancy grains is almost impossible. I did my research though, and it was kind of cool to relearn that protein and fat aren't everything. Safe choice also has senior, complete, maintenance, & special care. Yankee was on special care in MO, but no store around me carries it or anything like it, so I ended up going with Safechoice Senior.

Nutrena SafeChoice Special Care
Crude Protein14.0%
Crude Fat7.0%
Crude Fibermax. 15.0%
ADFmax. 19.0%
NDFmax. 39.0%
Dietary Starch*max. 11.0%
Sugar*max. 4.0%

Nutrena SafeChoice Senior

Crude Protein14.0%
Crude Fat8.0%
Omega 62.50%
Omega 30.45%
Crude Fibermax. 16.0%
ADFmax. 19.0%
NDFmax. 34.0%
Dietary Starch*max. 14.0%
Sugar*max. 6.0%

Versus, what he USED to get, Nutrena SafeChoice Perform

Crude Protein14.0%
Crude Fat9.0%
Crude Fibermax. 15.0%
ADFmax. 14.0%
NDFmax. 32.0%
Dietary Starch*max. 20.0%
Sugar*max. 8.0%

Isn' that interesting? I found it interesting that the performance brand has a ton more starch that I originally thought it would have, compared to the other types, and the same amount of protein. 

Now, this was just one part of his feeding regime. The largest part, at 5lbs per feeding, but he needed a LOT more fat than what was in the grain. I had heard great things about Nutrena Empower Boost and luckily my feed store carried it.

The goodies;
Crude Protein12%
Crude Fat22%
Crude Fibermax. 8.0%
ADFmax. 8.0%
NDFmax. 15.0%
Dietary Starch*max. 22.0%
Sugar*max. 4.0%
Calcium1.5% - 2.0%
Copper25 ppm
Zinc75 ppm
Selenium0.6 ppm
Vitamin E500 IU/lb
Omega-3 Fatty Acids2.7%
Omega-6 Fatty Acids7.7%
Biotin1.5 mg/lb
All the things! Added benefits of Vit E and Selenium, since this area is deficient and I usually would buy in Smartpaks. I know the starch was high in this, so he only gets 1lb per feeding as a top dressing. This was approved by the vet and recommended as well. One bag lasted me about a month and it was relatively cheap too. 

One last thing I have been adding as another top dressing is 1/2lb of oats and 1lb of alfalfa pellets. Yankee GOBBLES up his "grain cocktail" and the results speak for themselves.

Additionally, he is getting an absolute fuck load of hay. Approximately half a bale in the AM, which is like 8 flakes or like 40lbs or some shit. He usually eats about 92% of it too. The key to success is the hay! Then, he's on night turnout. FORAGE.

To recap; each feeding:
5lbs SafeChoice 
1lb empower boost
1/2lb oats
1lb alfalfa pellets
A fuckload of hay
+smartpaks, ProBios, Biotin and MSM

Now obviously this is a "loading" dose and I doubt he will get this much grain once he's back in work unless he's really gettin his ass kicked. I was actually surprised at the sheer volume of grain that he has been eating, but it has all been approved by the vet and its working!

So dear readers, what I wan to know is kind of a two parter;
1. Do you spend a ton of time reading labels and making comparisons? Does you horse need a lot, or are they easy keepers?
2. if your horse is skinny, what do you use to fatten them up??
I'm so curious! Feed me your secrets!!

Monday, April 25, 2016

How to Train Your Dragon

I feel like it would be hilarious to try and type a humorous sale ad for my horse (kind of like Karley and a few others did) because he so dang quirky! I might actually be changing my blog name soon, regarding this, so don't be startled.

It might go like this; Lovely, energetic, tall  red dragon OTTB with SO MUCH potential. Lofty gaits, lovely jump. Clips, if you stuff his face with cookies every 5 seconds and tell him he's a good boy. Loads easily, only onto slant goosenecks- good luck with anything else. Easy keeper, if you have a small fortune to spend on hay and grain. Jumps everything, right after he refuses it the first time. He actually stands for the farrier. Comes when called in pasture, sometimes. Ties, usually.


But for reals, he will jump anything. If he stops to have a good look at it first. *eyeroll*

He's still such a baby that I don't ever get upset with his baby moments over fences, which is almost always, and he's trying his hardest to be good. But sometimes I ask myself why, why must he test me and make me question purchasing his silly butt.

EME made the long haul to Flying Cross Farm for their bad ass schooling and water complex. Worth hr 3 hour drive, in my opinion.

B was incredibly chill right off the trailer and settled right into schooling mode, which included having to stand for lengths of time while Supertrainer coached off his back. I was so proud that he mostly stood still like a good horse.

An old pro
They started over the bank complex and I had an inkling he would question the sanity of stepping off a perfectly good ledge, as he's never been asked to do so before.

He jumped right up no questions asked...

...and promptly came to a slow meandering halt on the off side. Sniffed a bit, questioned Supertrainer and then LEAPED off like it was lava. SO funny.

The second time around he looked like he was going for it and then SLAMMED on the brakes 2 strides out. I mean truly slammed, it was jolting and impressive. I think ST was quite surprised. 

Then, he leaped off again. After that, easy. On all complexes (there were 3) he just sauntered off like he had been doing it ages. Cool B, cool.

Next was some easy logs, coops and rolltops. What is baffling to me is that he will leap over the larger jumps no problem, but act like asking him to first jump the baby logs is the most offensive thing in the world. He literally just slows down and halts before the fence, looks around and then jumps over. Would definitely be 20 penalties, and its oh-so-annoying, because he always goes over. 

Didn't bat at eye at this one, but the baby one warranted a refusal. Okay B, okay
ST spent some time linking together the coops, logs and rolltops and getting him a bit more in front of her leg. he was so incredibly chill about everything, she was actually riding him on a loose rein in-between fences. She thinks that he possibly just has like horsey ADD, because when he refuses, its rarely violent, its like he just isn't paying attention and slows down to a stop, then hops over. 

Next was the water, and he was wildly offended that this water was not in creek form and refused to get his feet wet at first. Then, all he wanted to do was play and lay down, and getting him OUT was the problem. FICKLE horse.

want. to. lay. down. must. play.

ST  trotted him in and out several times before asking him to jump anything. Strangely enough, again, he flat out refused the tiny crossrail out, but jump the RR tie with no question asked. OK B OK.
casual stop

Don't mind trailer aluma-butt

Sidenote, do you ever get offended that some people look so much better on your horse than you do. Some people just LOOK like riders and look good on everything their butt touches. I always look like a freak of nature. I touched on my conformation in my last post and no matter what I do, I don't look like I belong on a horse. Literally what I would give to be tiny and have short legs, SERIOUSLY. I look like an amazon and he doesn't even look like a 17.1 1/2 hh horse under me, lolz.

So after the water we played in the middle field a bit with a log pile and a baby brush fence. He thought both were horse eating monsters and casually refused both before gracefully popping over. Again, ST schooled him over and over them, but after the initial refusal, he didn't bat an eye. This is frustrating!



Then, in the next 2 fields, he jumped right over the logs and the ditch, NO QUESTION. The mother effing ditch. One of the scariest things to jump, in my opinion! Didn't even care.

Lastly, the picture frame. I so wanted a pic of my majestic dragon jumping through that, but ST was skeptical, as it was large in height and "scary". But, because pics, she did it for me. Her tactic was to not even ride up to it like she was jumping, she simply walked up an let him sniff. Obviously won't be able to do that in a show, but we want him to realize even the scary fences won't eat him.

He sailed right over and through.

yeet yeet!

SO. Proud! Sure, he refused almost everything once. Thats no good for eventing, he would be eliminated before he could even get started really. But, he's trying, and hopefully its sinking in that the fences aren't terrifying and he can easily do this. Truly, he was having fun after each initial WTF IS THAT reaction, and he was incredibly calm the whole day. I hope it was a good learning day for him and that he won't get eliminated in XC in 3 weeks, but it is what it is. He's just a baby at this, and its OK. Maybe he's  not cut out for eventing and thats OK too. Or maybe he needs some more outings, who knows!

I told ST that as long as he remains on the ground and in the arena for dressage, I will be happy. I am honestly expecting an elimination, so anything would make me happy right now. Luckily, this is her job and she is confident in my horse. She's doing her duty as a great trainer to get him out there before the show. This is his 2nd XC school and theres will be one more before Penny Oaks. We are also lucky and have a mini XC field at EME with corners, rolltops and logs, so I hope we can get him consistent about not taking that R. I trust her completely though and am happy with the decision to have her ride him in the first event.