Sunday, September 14, 2014


1. Feet

I have been dealing with intermittent sensitivity (not significant enough to be called lameness) on both front feet. But not both at the same time. It started with the right and after talking to Saiph (and sending her pics) I am convinced that it was due to the bars being to low on his right foot. I kept him booted, used the Magic Cushion (best stuff ever) and did some work on hard surfaces (walk and some trot on concrete and asphalt) to stimulate hoof growth. Ashke grows hoof well. He replaced his original hoof within two months after I brought him home (thank gods) and he grew his bars in pretty quick. In fact, he is beginning to get some cupping on his front feet so I know the miles we are putting on are a good thing. At least on his feet. 

So, just about the time his RF grew in bars and became less sensitive, I began to deal with intermittent short striding on one or the other of his front feet. It hasn't been significant enough to slow us down and it wasn't apparent at the trot (no head bobbing) but his canter has been short and choppy on the trail. It's hard to tell if the choppy canter is his feet or his uber alertness on the trail, because he pogo bounces when he's trying to decide if he wants to spook or not. In every ride since his trim he has been off on one or the other of his front feet. Some times it's the same foot, sometimes it's the opposite foot. No heat. No swelling. No way to diagnose why he was short striding.

Yesterday, when I led him out of the barn, I could hear the swing in his step. (How else do you describe that long, loose, relaxed swinging walk?) All four feet were striking with the same amount of force and none of them were short striding. That was the first time I have heard that rhythm since his feet were messed up, so imagine how surprised I was when I booted him, got on and he was striding short on the LF. Finally, I recognized it had to be the boots.

Today, before I booted him, I cleaned the boots really well. There was dirt and Magic Cushion wedged in the toe of one of the front boots. There were also a handful of small gravel stuck in the inside treads. With my Princess, that's all it would take. I cleaned the inside of the boot until it was smooth and there was no packed dirt at the toe. I think he was short striding, because their was pressure on his toe and he didn't want to break over. He walked out without issue on our ride.

Whoo. Glad I figured that out.

2. Mileage

Five miles no longer seems like enough. The longest we've ridden is 13, but even at 13 Ashke was still full of energy. Our seven miles yesterday was a drop, it seemed, and although J and I were tired, I think Ashke could have doubled that without any issue. My mileage so far this year is 269.25, already 25 miles more than last year. My biggest month was last August, but I am already on target to ride more than that in September and we should have one more really good month in October before the weather moves us inside.

I only track trail miles. Mostly, because GPS coverage at the barn is spotty at best, so tracking arena rides is counter productive. I also ride two times a week in the arena, for about an hour each ride, but have no idea how many additional miles that has added to our total. Ashke has gained some weight (no longer showing his ribs) and I can see the muscle building in his shoulder and wither. His abdomen is tight and lifted and his top line looks good. His spine has finally developed the muscle on either side that creates the channel I've been looking for.

3. Which brings us to food

Currently, Ashke is getting three flakes of grass hay and two flakes of alfalfa in four feedings a day. Plus, he gets 1 lb of Ultium with the am feeding and the evening feeding. Ultium is offered as part of our board and is a low starch, low sugar, high fat food. It has the Amplify nugget in it and Ashke just does better with Amplify in his diet. High fat is necessary for proper muscle function and is what is recommended for horses that have exertional rhabdomyolysis.

He gets the SmartFlex II Support Pellets for his stifle (repaired left patella) and for overall joint support.

The Triple Crown Omega Max was added when Ashke was having issues this spring with his coat. This really has been a hold over from when he was starved and his coat was still rough over his barrel and on his haunches. After talking with Saiph, then following up with my own research, both N and I added it to our supplements. The flax is high in Omegas and helps with coat health, plus also helps their feet. Ashke's hide and hair is smooth and sleek (without ever being blanketed) and his feet are rock solid this year. He has shed his summer coat and I saw the first signs of his winter coat coming in this morning. 5 oz per day.

The Equipride is awesome!! It is equal to Platinum, but is made from natural sources and was recommended by Diane. It is a well balanced supplement and Ashke's performance has improved since he went on it. Not only that, but it smells delish and I have been tempted to taste it. 5  oz per day.

Finally, I have added 20 grams of pure lysine to Ashke's diet again. Lysine helps with protein utilization in the building of muscle. Additionally, Diane recommends it for reduction of stress and immune system support. Ashke built great muscle while on it before and that's the biggest thing he lost when I adjusted his diet in the spring.

4. Contact

One of these days I will address this is detail, but first I need to finish reading a book first. Then perhaps I can put into words my thoughts and feelings about modern dressage and my journey with Ashke.

However, I do want to discuss what happened on our ride today and how it figures into everything else going on. Our ride today was a quick trip up to the top of North Table Mountain. It started with Cali channeling her inner rodeo horse at the thought of leaving the property and going on trail. N handled it with persistence and her dressage whip. Cali seems to be going through the same phase as T. As a reward for her behavior, Cali trotted to the top of the first hill (North Table Mountain has a beginning hill that's about 600 feet at a 5% grade, then you drop and go up 1000 feet at an 10% grade) and Ashke cantered slowly behind her. I felt so solid on him, mostly because I shortened my stirrups another notch, after looking at the photos and videos that J has been taking. We trotted down the far side of the hill, mostly because Ashke didn't want to walk, then trotted the bottom of the hill up, then cantered the rest of the way to the top (with three stops to huff and puff). At one point we were cantering up and Ashke was acting like he wanted to stop again, so I leaned forward and told him that Limit could run the entire hill and was he going to let a TB beat him. It kept him going for another 100 feet and then he needed to slow again.

After running up the hill, Ashke wasn't ready to slow down. We jigged for another mile and then had another canter, where he pulled out of my hands and it became more of a racing run than a canter. That was the last canter, because we headed down hill. Ashke trotted it, which isn't as scary during the day than it is at night, but gets exhausting. It is a very slow trot. And then we would stop and wait for Cali, which was also frustrating for Ashke, but he just absolutely refused to walk. Then at the bottom of the hill (facing another uphill) with several bike riders in front of us, he started to do his "I want to canter" jig. This jig becomes a fight when I won't let him go, which results in his jutting his jaw above his head and trying to pull the bit out of my hand. This happened on EVERY uphill on the way home. I had been riding him with one hand, but this behavior made it impossible to ride without using both hands. It devolved to the point where I was thinking I needed a dressage whip to continue our conversation. Getting him out of the brace means getting him to go forward at the pace that I want him to while dropping his nose below his poll. At the end of that conversation I had him turned around facing the other way and waited until he finally stopped fighting before turning him back toward home. As soon as he started going faster than a walk, he was asked to stop and wait. I used my legs, my ass, my hands and my voice to let him know what I wanted him to do.

I am not going to condone or allow him to rush going home. It's such a bad habit to allow to develop.

I am not asking him to remain on contact, but on the way home, I had such a hard time keeping him at the gait that I was asking for that he had pressure on the bit. His popping his head up is not being caused by me. It is happening because he doesn't want to continue at the gait I want him to. I'm not sure what else to do but ask him to continue forward at the gait I am requesting. He started this stuff last winter when still being ridden in a snaffle bit with a cavesson, but he wasn't as able to avoid the pressure as he can now. I used to let him stop, but now I am pressuring him to move forward. Once he's going forward again, his nose comes down and he stops fighting.

 Just like this

I'm racking up today as being a result of my request that he walk down the hill like a reasonable horse and not canter up all of the uphills on the way home. Once we got past that little hickup, he was fine the rest of the way home.

5. VSV

Still expanding. Stables still under quarentine. Not putting money on any shows or play days until this is over.

The only good thing about the weather turning cold so early is that it will kill the flies.


  1. His diet sounds great :) Hope the VSV quarantine gets lifted soon

  2. I'm super excited to start the lysine with Q after reading this! And her flax should be in this Wednesday, too. Yay for all of the supplements and beneficial effects!

    Looking forward to reading about your conclusions re: dressage training with Ashke!