Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Big News For Melissa

Melissa got her invitation to the Octoberfest Dressage Championships this week. We are so excited for her! The weekend of the 17th will be stressful and amazing. Her first championship, first big Dressage show, but she will have me there to groom and possibly Trudy also.

The weekend of the 3rd we plan to head west to visit Gatsby, the father of our future children as Melissa calls him. Check out his website and join in the drooling;

Wish Melissa luck and pray for her and whatever else might send good vibes!

PSA: Keeping Weight, Gaining Weight

First, a great post on getting weight on older horses, or ANY horses for that matter;

A lot of people don't seem to know the basics.

1. Blanket. If it's cold and your horse is shivering, it's losing all those valuable calories to keep warm. I let my horses grow a winter coat, THEN blanket them so they have all the protection they can get. I don't blanket till I catch them shivering. If your horse is skinny, blanket and keep blanketing. It helps a LOT. It can be the difference between losing and gaining.

2. De-worm. Consult a vet for the right rotation for your area if you want to be perfect, but a simple rotation of ivermectin every 2 months and pyrantel in the spring after the thaw and in the fall after the freeze has been working great for me. If you aren't de-worming you are feeding worms instead of your horse.

3. Teeth. Often bad teeth will be the biggest culprit in an old horse. However, it's no excuse for a skinny horse. Thunder had NO chewing teeth and was jiggly. However, it can be very painful to have sharp teeth cutting off your tongue, and the pain can make weight gain harder. Get teeth done first thing if your horse sticks his tongue out a lot, drops food, won't take a bit in conjunction to weight loss, or is old and you doubt it's been done. I have my accupressurist check all my horses whenever she is here to see who needs work. But if you aren't sure, it can't hurt to get it done.

4. Pain. If your horse is hurting somewhere, they will often lose weight just dealing with the pain. Get the vet out and figure out the problem. If it's not something fixable, this could mean it's time to say goodbye.

5. Stress. I had a mare in quarantine who lost a TON of weight in one WEEK because she didn't like being alone. She literally spent ALL day running back and forth in the pasture screaming her head off. As soon as I was able to put her in a paddock near other horses she gained her weight right back.

6. Bullying. If you have more than one horse in a pen, it's quite possible that the skinny horse is being shunned from the food pile. Find a way to keep the skinny horse separate. A little paddock, feeding in a stall, whatever you need to do.

7. Food. What are you feeding? Make sure it's high quality and enough for your horse's work load. If you are riding hard every day your horse is going to eat a lot more than your kid-broke horse that only gets ridden when your relatives come over a couple times a year. When I am riding my Appaloosa every day she eats about 6 flakes of nice alfalfa a day. And she's only 15.2H.

8. No teeth? No problem. Thunder lived on Senior Equine and grass hay pellets. Soaked it in warm water and he slurped it right up. If your horse is having trouble chewing hay or you just don't want them burning calories chewing, soak them some orchard grass pellets. Feed AS MUCH AS THEY'LL EAT! People have a hard time doing that, but DO it and the horse will gain weight.

9. Do it BEFORE it's cold. Get them up to weight BEFORE fall. It's WAY harder to put weight on in the snow. It's a lot easier to KEEP it on.

10. Call the Vet. When all else fails to put weight on OR you have reason to suspect something internal (like a history of being hard to keep), call the vet and have blood work done and whatever else the vet things might give a clue as to the weight loss. Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Cushings both mess with the way a horse gains weight, and both can be managed with a diet and sometimes specially designed supplements.

There is NO reason your horse should be skinny. Whether they are 13 or 33, you can get weight on them and keep it there! Your horse will thank you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shorter Days Ahead

Our show weekend before last went alright; Dazzle behaved for the most part and was MUCH better than the last time we showed there in '07. We got EVERY right lead canter! I was amazed. We looked nice in our show clothes. It was the first time I used my show saddle for Western. We placed a few times in Halter and our Showmanship wasn't bad for just starting to learn it and Dazzle thinking it is way too much work. No hi-points for us, but we had made much improvement from last time, so I was happy. I brought home a pile of ribbons, a few default, but not all be any means.

Last weekend, Melissa did a Dressage show to see if she could get another score over 60% to qualify for the Championship show in October. She wasn't planning on it, but I got an email about it and told her to go for it. So, with 5 rides in she went in front of Diane Royce in Intro B. They got a 70.5% and took Intro B hi-point AND show hi-point. She was thrilled with the awards, but knew it wasn't their best ride. Everyone kept reminding her that she couldn't have expected more from her mare after a week of riding. She hadn't been worked since June. So, considering that they did amazing. We had to leave here at 5 AM to get there with time for her to warm up as they got the FIRST ride of the day. We (Ashley, me and Melissa) got there first and so she had time to walk Bayberry around and see everything and warm up leisurely before going in. I took pictures of the ride and then we watched a few more rides, got her score, and went to late breakfast. Then we came back and dozed for a couple hours waiting for the Intro A and B to be done so she could see if she got a ribbon. She got a beautiful blue ribbon and then since she was high score for the class, she got a bag of horse cookies and a hoof pick. We packed up and headed home. She only found out yesterday that she won overall hi-point too.

I found out a few weeks ago that I'm pregnant, so I will not be showing anymore until next summer. I'm going to keep doing the Western pleasure lessons with Ashley for 4H and do some adult lessons with the same instructor. Melissa will be back for the school year in October and will be trading training on Dazzle for board for her two mares. She will then show Dazzle for me when the show season starts again next spring and try to finish her Dressage COA and possibly get some points towards some other COA's as well. She may just end up concentrating on Dressage and get a Superior in that. We'll see. She has quite a line-up planned for the year. She'll have her own two, my one, two of Trudy's for training, AND possibly one or two more for training. Only one of the bunch isn't started. So, most of it will be under-saddle training. I'm excited to have her work all winter with Dazzle. Should be awesome results.

My baby is due May 6 or 7 going by the LMP. We'll know by ultrasound probably on the 12th of Oct. Hopefully this kid likes horses. I'm already working on getting him/her a pony. = )

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Short but Sweet Ride

I put my show saddle on Dazzle to make sure it would fit nicely. Looks like it will. I think I'm going to go wool pad, gel pad, pink wool show pad and it should look nice and be comfortable. I'm hoping the pink covers the wool entirely.

We practiced showmanship with a chain for the first time. She did a lot better today, but still far from flawless. We practiced again after riding. She is paying attention better, but she still is very easily distracted which of course makes it hard to cue her without talking which is kind of how showmanship works. Hopefully she will be focused at the show. HA HA.

I rode her once around the arena canter; half left lead and then switched and did half right lead. We jogged. We opened and closed the gate twice, we weaved the standards and walked over the poles. We jogged a little in the field and walked through the neighbor's yard and she didn't spook at a fluttering plastic bag. We got the mail and walked up the lane. She started at her reflection in the window of my car and I tossed the mail on it and she didn't spook. Then we went back to the trailer and untacked. She seemed a little disappointed at the short ride. It was only 18 minutes. She didn't even sweat. That was the plan after our work out yesterday though. Tomorrow I will ride her in the morning, then bath time and banding! AND the obligatory trip to Boarder Town for show stuff. This time I need a stud chain, fly spray, and perhaps gold glitter for halter class. Ooh, and detangler.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dressage Horse In Disguise

Since Ashley joined 4H and I get to take the lessons with her, we have been focusing on that. Yes, Dazzle and I have been learning *GASP*...Western Pleasure.

First, I was shocked to learn how similar to Dressage it is. Dazzle doesn't seem confused in the least and since it's what she's bred for I figured it won't hurt to let her do what she's made for and shine.

Ashley is making progress with connecting with Faith, her new TB, but she has a lot of tension to overcome. She is used to slow, old horses, not forward TB's. They'll get there. They will make their show debut next Spring.

Sunday, Dazzle and I will debut our new Western Pleasure skills at the Umatilla Sage Riders Arena Late Summer Schooling Show in Hermiston, OR. Should be fun! If I can keep my nerves controlled and Dazzle can keep on task, we should do okay!

Ted should be there to take pictures, so I should have photos to share! Ashley is going to be grooming for us, which is awesome; she is a great groom!

Training-wise, our walk/job is fairly acceptable, our lope is non-existent and our canter is getting there. She likes to veer off the rail, jumping into the gait, and get too fast. I have three more days. We'll be great. lol!