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Monday, February 23, 2009

2/22 Livermore ride

Sunday I took Minx out to Livermore with a co-worker/friend and her husband. They are recreational riders and occasionally it works out that I can share some of my favorite local riding spots with them. Their horses are “trail green”, so they like to go riding with a buddy that has a solid trail horse. It’s hilarious that Minx is the “safety horse”. Anyways. The weather was frightful, but we decided to go anyways. Once we arrived in Livermore, the weather had calmed to sprinkles and wind. I was practically giddy because I FINALLY get to try out the rain gear I bought last year after several extremely wet endurance rides where I was absolutely miserable. (Picture below are from Wild West, one of the rainy rides. Pictures were taken by Bill, the ride photographer. As soon as I find his business card I will give him full credit here. He does an awesome job. )

The trails at Livermore have excellent drainage and are slightly gravelly (no mud!) trails, so off we went. It took us 2.5 hours to do 5 miles…..there was an issue of a bull and a calf on the trail and no way to get around them, and my co-workers horse was being a (insert you favorite non-explicative name here) so I offered to school her a bit. I make a point of trying not to offer too much advice on horse training or riding unless specifically asked. I figure my job is to enable them to enjoy time together and on the horses and the last thing anyone needs while having fun is nagging or the feeling someone is judging them. In this situation, the horse was starting to get out of control and I asked D. if she wanted some help.

It was good for Minx to get out, even if we didn’t do a lot of miles. It’s the first time since I rode her 6 weeks ago, when she was off at the trot on her right hind. She didn’t seem off today, but I’m not sure because we didn’t do any trotting (she’s very stoic about pain and a very good liar). She was very forward and seemed to enjoy herself. The Thorowgood I was riding today pops over her shoulders on down-hills so I dismounted and walked. She looked stiff going down the hills, so I think her arthritis in her hocks might be bothering her. If I get her out most days of the week and let her move, she’s not stiff, however that has NOT happened with the weather lately. Not to mention her paddock is so muddy, I doubt she’s doing much moving around on her own.

With her hocks in mind, I’m really glad we didn’t attempt Eastern Mojave this year (2 weeks ago). I’ll see how she is once spring comes and I can get her out regularly, however, I may ride her recreationally only this year, depending on how she is feeling. My vet and I have talked about hock injections, but until this point she’s been sound, as long as she’s ridden regularly, or worked on the ground.

She’s still so skinny! It’s starting to irritate me. I kept very close tabs on it this winter. I started supplementing with beet pulp before the weather turned nasty, and increased her beet pulp/ration immediately once she wasn’t maintaining. And she STILL got skinny! This horse gets all the hay she wants (grass and alfalfa) AND I supplement with 4 pounds of Beet pulp daily, with additional LMF gold (a high fat feed) on days I get her out. She maintains OK on 100% alfalfa, but then she is useless for any kind of trail rides because she thumps if you even look at her wrong.

I like to wait 4 weeks after changing a horse’s ration to give time for results. It’s been 3 weeks since I upped her beet pulp. If I still don’t see weight gain by next week, I’m going to start adding oil. I used to feed oil, but the mess, cost, and keeping it “fresh”, keeps me from doing it unless I have to. It’s been 6 weeks since I floated her teeth and I really thought I would see more results in her weight than I have.

Her girth has actually expanded a few holes, so I’m hoping some of her straggly, skinny look, is being accentuated by her extremely fuzzy winter coat (when it lays flat, like after riding). I can easily feel ribs, but in all honesty, I think there is more flesh over them than a month ago. I have a cool formula for monitoring a horses weight that is suppose to be more accurate than a weight tape so I should probably do that. Right now I’m relying on my interpretation of the body condition scoring system, focusing on the fat cover over her ribs. (pictured below is Minx in January with her coat fluffed out. This is right before upping her beetpulp. Why is it that they never look as skinny in pictures as I think they actually are? Her coat has A LOT of fluff. Compare to the pictures taken at the ride yesterday when her hair was flat.)

I’m in the middle of a post that is going to describe how I put weight on my horses. I’ll have before and after pictures, along with what I did, how long it took etc. I’m reading a lot of Dr. Susan Garlinghouse’s (may have her last name wrong – I’ll edit and correct if I do) articles and trying to apply. According to what I’m reading, 4 pounds of BP should be sufficient to put 50 pounds on a horse in 60 days….All others things being equal, which are course they aren’t. I’ll keep everyone posted. :)

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