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Saturday, March 23, 2013

End of the week catch up

I'm using today to catch up on any little things that didn't make it into last weeks posts, and respond to comments that are too involved to be constrained to one little box!  (you can tell I'm a vet student when I had to double check the last 2 words of that sentence to make sure it didn't say "litter box").

Rode Farley in the arena this morning and did a bit of dressage.....OMG it was awful.  We have so much to work on.  Wouldn't even get on the bit and come over the top in the canter, which is my secret weapon when she is sucking back in the trot.  I got the point where it was slightly less awful and stopped.  I am NOT going to be able to do Tevis this summer without some serious dressage work.  More on Farley when I talk about Jonna's question.

In response to "Figure" (comment on "supplement" post): 
Hay, because it is dried is by definition lacking in some nutrients such as vitamin E.  Aside from that, depending on how/where it's grown and when it's harvested the hay may or may not be balanced.  There are generalities that can be made about certain types of hay, which is what all these "ration balancers" tend to work off of.  For example, the Ca:P ratio in alfalfa is often skewed, something the alfalfa specific ration balancers try to correct.  There are other trace mineral imbalances (both in quantity and ratios).  It's important to note that what is the "typical" hay profile varies by region and thus I got a recommendation from a local equine nutritionist that I trust on a commercial ration balancer that does a good job for California grown grass hay. I think for most people it is impractical to test their hay and get custom ration balancers mixed, so this is the next best thing IMO.  In a horse without access to pasture, I think aside from a ration balancer and vitamin E, the rest of the supplements are on a demonstrated-need basis only.  For example, if I'm going to continue to compete Farley, she has a demonstrated need for selenium supplementation.  Fine.  Oil is something that I feed because of what I consider overwhelming evidence that is supports endurance horse performance, and it's something I would recommend if someone told me they were looking for something in the supplement category to feed and already did a ration balancer and vit E.  All horses need access to salt, so whether you feed loose or in blocks is your choice. 

The senior thing threw me too.  Farley is one year away from being a senior!!!!!!!  I think that no matter what the breed and how they look (ponies probably the exception) that 15 is a good age to consider a "senior".  It's not as much about whether they are still able to perform adequately and more about statistics of when you start seeing syndromes and diseases like Cushings.  True, these don't usually show up clinically until the early 20's, but can be affecting the horse's physiology for years before that.  Things like immune response, elasticity of tissues, water content in the blood, and teeth (and thus digestion) tend to march onward according to calendar age, even if the horse on the outside looks much younger. 

Regarding the ulcers.......I think it's really individual.  Horses produce acid all the time, not just in anticipation of a meal which makes them prone to ulcers, and is why keeping food in front of them most of the day prevents it.  I'm not worrying about it in part due to the infrequent trailering I do, and low number of events that I'm doing.  There's the added complication that medications that are proven to work against ulcers, such as gastroguard are not legal in AERC competition, so you must take the horse off of them before a ride (paying attention to the appropriate withdrawal times).  However, I was told that it was better to put them on medication and then take them off for rides, than not treat at all.  I think that Farley is probably low risk for ulcers, which is why I'm doing the wait and see and cross my fingers approach.  I'm not sure what I would do if I thought she had them.  I would probably approach it using a 3 step approach: 1.  Keep feed in front of her at all times.  Recheck.  If that didn't do the trick......2. Feed a supplement, as long as it was a reasonable cost.  If I couldn't find anything that had some research behind it, go directly to step 3.  Recheck......and if that didn't work 3. Put her on medication.  I like to change stuff through management first, only then consider supplements/medications.  Whether I chose to try and manage something nutritionally depends on the individual condition, the medications available etc.

Anyone else have any advice for Figure?

Jonna (wants to know what my conditioning plan is for Farley.....): some ways I'm starting over, and in other ways I'm ahead.  Farley knows the trail, and she knows that it's a 100 miles.  Mentally she haven't lost much conditioning.  Physically she has!  I can mitigate some of it by being a good partner: by being super fit myself and getting off a lot, and by riding exceptionally well and balanced throughout the ride (ride balance and timing is a HUGE factor is how a horse looks at the end of a ride).  The most important thing I can do for her physical conditioning is lots and lots of correct dressage work between now and then.  The second most important thing is interval training.  Rides of about 10 miles where I do some short high intensity intervals followed by complete recovery periods (and then repeat).  And of course the third leg in the stool is long rides - which I will do on the actual Tevis trail (which is about 1 hour away from me), and on a handful of 50's. 

You are right, that her being an arab makes a HUGE difference.  It was easier to get Farley through 100's than it was to get my standardbred through a 50.  The line between "fit enough to do a 50" and "overriden and hurt" was so very very very very thin with my standardbred.  You could have driven a semi-truck through the width of the line between "fit enough for a 100" and "overridden and hurt" with Farley.  It took far less miles to get Farley fit and to keep her fit than it did with Minx (the standardbred).  Not every animal in a breed follows the stereotype of course, but so far my horses have. 

Preparing myself for the event will involve a very similar "tripod stool" of training".  Weight training, interval runs, and a few double digit long runs (in the 10-20 mile range).  I have some ride and ties between now and Tevis that will provide me with some EXCELLENT hill workouts.

On the actual ride day, I will ride more slowly and a bit smarter (you can do that when it's your third time through the race.....).  I finished mid pack (45/~90) in 2010 (and that was with absolutely no trotting, just walking the last 6 miles from the last vet check to the finish) and was on schedule to do the same in 2009 before pulling at mile 65.  I can take more time during the gate and gos in the afternoon especially.  And if Farley says "no-go" we don't go.  Which brings me to my last, and most important point.  Farley is a very honest horse.  She doesn't hide anything.  She doesn't exaggerate it either, but if something is going on she tells me.  and that is the number one reason that I'm willing to try this.  She's not going to lie to me like Minx and tell me everything is fine, only to find out that I have a SERIOUS problem. 

I'm also considering a legend/adequan/IA routine.  Not something I was willing to do the first time around (she did have IA injections at the beginning of the year because of the dressage) but now, knowing that this is my one race of the year, and knowing that I won't have the conditioning behind me like I did before, I'm considering it.  It's technically legal, but I'm a little hesitant because of some personal convictions - which I regularly reevaluate and usually discuss here on the blog.  (But I'm not to the point yet I can write the post - must gather thoughts).

Liz Stout (who wants a video for the toe tapping exercise):
I'm going to make a valiant effort to explain more clearly, and if that doesn't work, than comment and I WILL post a video :).  Stand up.  Tap your toes and ball of your foot.  What happened?  Your weight went into your heels.  This is what you are going to do in the stirrup, except there's nothing under your heels.  You are simply going to tap the ball of your foot on the footbed of the stirrup while trotting.  On both sides at the same time.  Your weight has no choice but to go to your heels, AND (here's the beauty of the exercise), you won't be able to lock your ankle joint in order to "force" your foot into that position.  Weight in heels + a flexible ankle (and knees and hips) = beautiful rising trot. 

Was this more clear?


  1. Ahhh, I was trying to figure out the toe-tapping thing. Maybe silly question, but do you actually lift the toe clean off the stirrup or is this more along the lines of thinking "toes up" rather than "heels down"?

    Will be interested in joint-maintenance thoughts if/when/if you feel like sharing them. My guy is 15 this year and I had his hocks injected for the first time last August...had Lots of Thoughts about it. Ultimately decided I was comfortable with it to maintain his comfort/performance at his current level of performance in a job he loves but would not have been comfortable with it to, say, try to squeeze additional performance out of him/move him up.

    I'm happy with the results but also interested in what happens as we try this new sport...I know the demands on his body will be significant but also a bit different, so we'll see. And meanwhile, my old dog is halfway through the Adequan loading dose...

  2. If I inject Farley.this.yeat it will be my.third time. If you want to see my previous thoughts on the issue do a search on the blog and look for something in the neighborhood of march/April 2010 :-) my thoughts aren't too different now. I think.

  3. Much more clear! Thank you thank you! That's what I did out of curiosity when I rode Friday's misery ride. Great exercise and I will definitely be making a point of doing that more often while riding to check myself.

  4. Hannah, you actually want to be able to physically rap your ties. It's more of a how much weight is in my stirrup exercise than a heel down exercise even though it has the benefit of both

  5. Thanks Mel.. Sounds like a good plan but I have to admit, the amount of time you explained that you would be doing is alot less than I would have expected. Is there an ideal number of miles you feel you need to have conditioned prior to going to Tevis? It's really not that far away to prepare for! At the same time, completing a 100 mile ride becomes less of a big deal after a few times but the thought of 100 miles still scares me to death!!! yet, it's still on the bucket list.

    1. it's less about the conditioning miles that I'll I can get in add more about how she looked after 2 days a 50's at Wild West. many of us in this area use Wild West as a sort of barometer. horse looks really good after 2 to 3 days Wild West? good to go. if she doesn't look good then I may try and fit in a fall 100. I know she needs to feel like after Wild West in order to complete tevis so the question becomes, how do I get to 105 miles in two says by mid June? honestly that's the harder question for me and my mind because I do not enjoy multidays and neither does my horse. remember that a lot of this approach depends on lots and lots of rest before the season and after. if I do to tevis it that's it season. When conditioning a horse you are constantly walking the line between the accumulation of micro injuries and performance. I'll be on the low end instead of the high end this year.

      Another thing to remember is that this is not an approach that I've made up or that is novel. I know one rider who completed tevis in this fashion every year and several others who do something very close it. Of course this entire conversation could be for naught if I don't ride tevis because she looks awful at ww, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.


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