Friday, January 30, 2015
1. Trail Rides
I will make no bones about it: I love to trail ride. My pony loves to trail ride. We both like to ride out on trail more than we like to ride in an arena. During the winter months at the beginning of 2014, our trail riding came to a halt, due to weather and circumstances.
Last year, in January, we rode 6.25 miles on trail, both of those rides up the mesa. This was partly due to a) not having cold weather riding gear, and b) not having anyone to ride out with. I was spending most of my time a year ago riding with N and Cali. They did not venture outside in inclement weather. Ashke and I spent all of our riding time in the indoor arena, and the two brief rides I managed up the mesa were pure luck.
So much has changed this year. We have a horse trailer, which allows us to expand the trails we ride (better chance of finding something dry and doable) and keeps it fresh and exciting. J has accepted her role in trail riding, which I think she really enjoys, and has a bike that can manage any trail Ashke and I might want to ride on. So far in January, I have ridden 28 miles on trail, although I do expect that number to go up after our ride tomorrow. I have invested in cold riding gear in the form of insulated riding boots, Berne insulated bib pants, layers of shirts, a Carhartt Sunstone Rancher coat, winter riding gloves, and a technical material beanie that fits under my helmet. J and I have ridden in mud, snow, some wind and chilly temps. We have also found a trail riding buddy that loves being out for miles/hours in all kinds of weather, with no agenda other than to get her pony safe and savvy on the trail. Additionally, Ashke is much fitter than he was a year ago. We can go farther, faster. Our average pace on trail has gone from 3.4 mph to 3.8 mph in less than ideal conditions. Before the weather changed, our average time was closer to 5 mph over distance. I'm hoping to see that number go up as we continue to ride out this year.
On trail, we are learning to canter for longer periods of time and to do so without racing or without becoming ragged. Ashke is learning to follow another horse at the canter without trying to race past them. I am learning to relax and let him fuss when he needs to while understanding its not going to escalate into something dangerous. We are rock solid with the majority of trail obstacles, although benches and rocks are still something to tilt an ear at when we go past. He loads like a champ and loves it when we are exploring a new trail. He is a great companion horse for those with less experience and can be a very calm leader on trail.
Last year I was boarding at TMR.
This year we are at SQA. I think it is an upgrade from a quality of food perspective. Ashke loves the Barley Fodder and I can already see improvements in his mane and tail quality, plus his feet have smoothed out from his emotional turmoil over the move. He gets to see me on a daily basis, since I stop by every night after work and feed him his mash. Additionally, he has access to his run 24/7, and he is never locked in his stall. We are blanketing him when necessary, and his weight is decent again. His tail, which was always a dirty reddish brown at TMR, has stayed white for all of January, which is directly related to his digestive process.
Ashke's feet have grown and expanded in the last year. They have also toughened to the point where we have begun doing trail rides without boots. A year ago, we couldn't walk across the parking lot at TMR without wincing and flinching. I hope to continue this trend. I will boot when the trail is rocky, but I would really like to see if he can develop the tough kind of hooves necessary for trail riding sans boots. There are several trails where the footing is easy enough we can go out truly barefoot.
January of 2014, I was riding in the Trekkerland by Prestige and beginning to notice issues with Ashke's back. He was not happy with the work and I was beginning to think there was an issue with the saddle. I was riding in the Raised Rockin' S snaffle bit in a dressage bridle with a cavasson noseband.
This year, I am loving my Alta Escuela and it fits Ashke soooo very well. There are no issues with back soreness, even after a fifteen mile ride. I ride in it most frequently with a BOT saddlepad and fleece girth. Ashke is now going in a war bridle, which includes a decorative noseband not designed for keeping his jaw closed. His bit is a low, wide port curb bit and he is happier in this bit than anything we have ever tried and most importantly, it gives me what I need to control him at the canter. We have lots of bling.
5. Indoor Work
We spent a lot of time in January, 2014, riding walk and trot, working on transitions and rhythm. I was taking dressage lessons and already beginning to hate how it was changing my relationship with Ashke, how frustrated I felt, how many rides devolved into a fight because I was trying to force Ashke into a long, low frame. I also had zero control when it came to the canter, which was one of my goals for the winter.
This January, we are working all three gaits, both in the arena and on trail. Ashke is still developing his canter, but we are much more balanced and in control then we were a year ago. He is much better balanced and able to move off his haunches when he is allowed to carry his head a little bit higher than he was when we were focused on modern dressage. He is no longer on the forehand when we canter and he is able to achieve a one stride canter depart from a stand once he is warmed up.
In the arena, we are also working on rollbacks, turns on both forehand and haunches, simple lead changes, changes of direction at the canter, slowing and collecting our trot and canter (we never slow at the walk - I want a fast, smooth, swinging walk on trail and in the arena). We are working on circles and on straight lines. Additionally, Ashke is learning to slide stop from my seat. We are working poles and barrels for WE in the indoor when there is room. We've even popped over the occasional jump. We ride mostly one handed and he has learned to neck rein very well. We are currently working on proper bend and turns while neck reining.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Sunday, January 25, 2015
We went around the outside of Spring Gulch, which was fun, and found another parking lot I think we can use, so we don't have to fight with the gate to get out and onto the trail.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Months ago when I discovered Ashke had broken his left patella, I figured a good joint supplement would be a great addition to his daily bucket. I talked to Diane and she suggested a product called Vet Flex (by prescription only) and said she could send me some if I wanted. I had already gone online and purchased my first Smartpak in the form of SmartFlex II Support pellet. (I like the cunning little paks they come in, I'll admit.) The price is a little high, but right at what I was willing to spend for joint supplement. It seemed to help and once Ashke was on the supplement, the short striding in his RH disappeared.
Somewhere in the back of my mind was the knowledge that there is a product that Diane recommends that would be about 2/3rds the cost.
I decided back in September to try the Vet Flex via Diane, if only to save a little money right before Xmas. I ordered it, replaced the Smartpak with it and suddenly Ashke was short striding again. At first I thought it had to be the joint supplement and ordered the Smartpak back in, putting Ashke on it as soon as I could. Within two days he was better. I didn't believe it. My brain told me that it had to be something else, like a strain from turn out, or a kick from Cali. I was really happy that he was better.
And then I forgot. Two weeks ago, while getting his bucket set up, I figured I would finish using up the Vet Flex (because I had decided it had to be something else) because I was being frugal. Ha! That will teach me. Within a couple of days, Ashke was short striding on the right hind again. I replaced the Vet Flex with the Smartpak (because I had Smartpak here) and within two days I can tell a huge difference.
Tonight, I got to ride. I have been talking with Saiph about some of the issues with Ashke's feet and she recommended giving him a half flake of alfalfa when I am getting him saddled up. The alfalfa helps with stomach acid and hopefully will make him less girthy. I opened my bale bag and Ashke was right there, very excited about the alfalfa. He munched while I got him ready. He was not reactive when I groomed his right hip and the knots over the hip bone was gone. We did a lot of fast, smooth walking to start. Then we trotted in both directions and I worked on slowing him down to a smooth rocking trot on a moderately loose rein. We did some cantering in both directions and then worked up and down the wall, stopping in the corner and turning on either the forehand or the haunches. Finally, we did some elongated teardrop figure eights against the short wall of the arena, asking him for bend through the neck as we went around in our circles.
He was amazing. There is no more spooking at the far end of the arena. He worked really well, using the entire arena area. It was a really fun ride. Every time we finished some piece and I told him what a good boy he was, he would snort in agreement. I worked a little of everything, trying to change up what I wanted so he wouldn't get stale or bored. One of the times we were walking around, stretching, I became aware of a 12 or 13 year old girl getting really frustrated with her horse and not wanting any help from her mom.
The girl had been trying to mount her mustang mare for about twenty minutes and every time she would try to get on the mare would back up very slowly, twisting away from the mounting block and preventing the girl from getting on. The woman was venting and said this had been going on for six months and they couldn't figure out how to keep the mare from behaving this way. The girl was alternating between trying to coax the mare into standing still and getting frustrated enough to lash out. I asked if I could help her fix the issue and her mom agreed. I handed over Ashke to the mom to hold, picked up a carriage whip and went to show the girl a couple of things she could try. There were two things I noticed right away: the girl was expecting the horse to move and so was waiting to mount until she did, and two, the horse wasn't clear about what was expected of her to do. The mom told me she didn't behave this way with the trainer or her mom, so it was something the mare was doing with the girl.
The first thing was making the mare work harder if she was unwilling to stand still. I walked the mare up to the mounting block and told the girl to try to mount. She walked up and then kind of stood waiting for the mare to misbehave. The mare backed up and away from the stool. I sent her out at the end of her rein in a circle around the mounting block. The mare didn't want to work and instead tried to spin in a circle, keeping her shoulder towards me and swinging her butt away. That was corrected with a tap of the carriage whip, which resulted in the mare rearing in protest, but I made her continue to move until she was trotting around me. I asked for a stop and then positioned her next to the mounting block. I told the girl to make her mounting process quick and smooth. It took four or five tries before the mare stood still.
Finally, the girl was able to get on the mare three times in a row, with the mare standing quiet on a loose rein. I turned the mare over to the girl and told her to try. Of course, by herself the mare wouldn't stand, but this time the girl was ready. She made the mare move out at a faster trot and sometimes a canter, before asking her to stand. The mare fussed and reared a couple of times, and threw a buck the third time the girl made her move out, but finally, she stood still and let the girl mount without shifting. The girl made a big deal out of the accomplishment and then went off to ride. I told her mom that she now has a tool in her toolbox to help her work through the issue.
Her mom and I talked a little about some of the things that might help her daughter. I suggested some of the Parelli games, mostly because it might give the girl a little more confidence and break her out of the relationship she has going with the mare at the moment. It will also teach the mare to listen and respond to the girl's authority. She is at that point that we all were at twelve where our relationship with our horse is like our relationship with our first boyfriend, and every little thing can send us into tears. We take it personal when the horse doesn't behave and vacillate between anger and frustration, tears of hurt mingling with tears of frustration. It's sad to me that they have been dealing with this issue for six months and no one had been able to help the girl out.
By the time we had worked through the mare and girl's issues (the girl really had inadvertently taught the mare to back up at the mounting block) Ashke was ready to go back to his stall and I was pretty much done. We unsaddled and blanketed and I headed for home.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
Thursday, January 15, 2015
As I was putting conditioner into his mane and tail, three girls came by and ooo'd and aahhh'd at his beautifulness (their words). He was curious but not really interested in making new friends, although he does like to be admired. Kids just aren't his thing. Something in his past has made him wary of small people. I'm okay with that, unless I am having him tote a three year old princess around on his back, and then he just needs to deal. (BTW, the little princess called and said she wants to come live with Ashke, and would I come and get her please. And she wants to spend more time with her "tall boy".)
We headed for the arena where I had Ashke walk on a long rein (another reason I truly believe he was being prepped for showing before he broke his left patella) down the arena and I could see the slight hitch in his right hip. I got on and within half a circle of the arena at the walk, I could feel it loosen and relax. We walked a lot, then moved to the trot. It was hard to do any actual work since there were 10 horses in the indoor and about ten kids (Pony Club). After trotting in both directions, we tried a canter. He struggled to hold his left lead (pushing off with his right hind), so we went back to the walk. I made him face the scary end of the arena and let him snort and sniff the tarps covered panels. Then we spent some times standing still and trying to relax (didn't ever really relax, but did stand still) with our butt to the really scary part.
I believe getting your horse to just stand still is an important part of training. After we had worked on that, we worked on bending in a circle at the walk. Although I could get Ashke to bend through his neck going to the right, he refused any type of bend to the left. I finally dismounted and positioned him next to the wall, with his right hip close to the panels, and worked to get him to bend his neck to the left. The wall prevented him from turning his hip out, but didn't prevent him from backing away from the request. I moved with him, figuring I would position him in the corner, so he couldn't swing his hip out or back away. He finally realized what I was asking (I had my hand positioned on his nose, not pulling from the bit since he was in a curb) and swung his head around. I could feel where the tightness was and applied a bit of pressure and massage to help ease the muscles. Diane always talks about diagonal tension, which is what I was seeing. His right hip and left shoulder/neck. This has been the other area where Ashke has wanted extra grooming or rubs. Once he was able to move his head around to the left easily, I moved and double checked the right (no problem), then again on the left one more time. When I got back on and asked for a circle to the left, Ashke was able to bend through the neck in that direction.
We started working up and down one wall. Walk down. Stop. Turn on the forehand and walk back. Sometimes we would turn on the haunches. Then moved to the trot and asked for a shoulder in (or haunches out - I'm not sure of the difference) and moved down the wall with hips and shoulders not in the same line. Then we did cantering on the line and allowed him to pick the lead he wanted (mostly right, but an occasional left). I wanted him to move, but didn't want to strain or push his right hip. I finished up with some zig zag leg yield down the arena. We are still working on moving forward and sideways at the same time.
Overall, about an hour on him. Mostly working on technical stuff. He was moving much better for me under saddle. It may just be an issue I am going to have to manage. He will get Thursday and Friday off (with some free time with his ball on Friday) then a trail ride with L and K on Saturday. He got fussed over in his stall and fed his mash. He stuck his nose so far into the bucket it was dripping off his nose like thick mud and he had to snort it out of his nostrils. Yuck.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
It isn't new. It's the same problem we've had.
Ashke is short striding on his right hind again. I don't think this will ever go away. He stepped wrong yesterday and I felt something, but it didn't show in how he was moving. I think it is also exacerbated by the cold. I know all of my injuries hurt, I can only imagine the cold makes him sore as well. I could feel him shivering in the cold when I first got on.
J and I just rode VB park. I could feel the short striding and J said he was abducting his right hind a little more than he has been. I'm pretty sure the hamstring was very tight. We started slow, just to let the muscles loosen and relax. By the time we hit the gravel trail leading up the small hill to our right, he was moving more easily, but I could still feel the hitch in his stride. (I've been feeling this at one level or another since the weather changed).
We trotted up the gravel rise, his head at about the back tire of J's bike (so we don't run over her). He was moving well and the hitch in his stride is less noticeable at the trot or canter. We went up the trail then turned east and headed back down toward the small wetland area, taking care to cross all of the frozen water areas safely.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
J and I dragged ourselves out of the house and as soon as the sunshine hit, I felt a stir of excitement. I decided I needed to smudge the house when we got back. See if we could clear out the lethargy that is prevalent in the house. By the time we hit the barn, the weather was wonderful and I was running around in bibs and a long sleeve shirt. We loaded gear in record time, and I pulled Ashke out. We stood in the doorway to the barn and he recognized the rig as J pulled it around. It took one try, one backing up across the mudslick barn yard, then he walked onto the trailer at the second try. Once loaded, we headed out to TMR.
At TMR I helped K grab her gear and load it in the trailer. Then she went back for Eddy and I grabbed his bucket of alfalfa pellets and oats. I was behind them by twenty feet or so as she walked Eddy to the trailer and he just walked on. My jaw dropped. That was amazing. To see a horse that balked and struggled to even be willing to get close to the trailer just walk on without a hesitation, was phenominal. Saiph told me they would get more willing as they realized that the trailer took them fun places. She was absolutely right.
We headed for Chatfield.
When we got there it took half an hour or so to groom, pick and tack up. I choose to ride without the boots since I figured the ground was mostly snow covered or fairly soft. Hooves are much stickier than gloves and I wanted to ensure he was as sure footed as possible. I did, however, put on his new exercise boots (BOT) on his front legs. I will also get a pair for the back legs eventually. I figured the front boots were more important to start. I'm pretty sure he clipped himself last week in the indoor arena. Watching him walk when he is warmed up, he is tracking up to the point where his hind feet are overstepping the hoof marks from his front feet. We were working on the slalom poles and he left a patch of white hair on the dirt. I couldn't find where he had hit himself, but I felt it and saw the evidence. Figured the exercise boots were a good idea. Tacked up, we headed out to explore.
There was a lot more snow than we were expecting, but the weather was just as perfect as expected. It hit a high of 59 and turned the waiting snow into a mushy mash of snow, ice and water. It was worse than mud for J. It was taking every thing she had to keep the bike moving forward at our walking pace.
We rode on this sidewalk for fifteen minutes or so and then moved to the road. J rode on the road and K and I rode next to the road. Eddy was a lot more up than K was expecting, and so they spent some time weaving around bushes and trotting his slow trot to keep up with Ashke's walk.
Today marked our fourth trail ride with Eddy. He was a little nervous to start, but by the end of the ride he was letting traffic whiz by without turning his head.
It was such a beautiful day. We had a brief canter on the gravel road leading to the model airplane park, with Eddy cantering comfortably with K. Ashke and I cantered a couple of times through the snow where the ground was level and the snow was fairly thin.
When we were walking through the trees, I was very happy we were traveling slow, since Ashke stepped in a hole that neither of us suspected was there. I was happy he had the extra support on his front legs when that happened. He was fine and didn't seem to notice, but I was really happy we weren't traveling any faster.
We rode out to the Highline Canal. When we got there it became really apparent, very quickly, that it was not good terrain for J. Or the horses. Slick. Muddy. Very wet. We turned around and headed back.
I really prefer to ride a loop, in part because it is more entertaining, but also in part because the horses don't know we are headed back to the trailer. When we turned around Ashke was all business and was just walking, but Eddy was tossing his head, flipping his bit, and fighting with K. He absolutely didn't want to walk. She started making him do serpentines through the brush next to where J and I were riding. I was laughing because Ashke kept looking over at them and almost shaking his head. He was thinking why is that silly horse working so hard when he could be walking calmly.
I was walking along and all of a sudden I heard K call out. She sounded a little stressed. I turned around and Eddy was laying in the snow with K on his back. K was encouraging him to get back up without rolling on her saddle. She stayed on while he heaved himself back on his feet and then shook vigorously. The only thing we could figure is that he was hot from the trotting and wanted to cool off. J said he laid down like a camel. I almost got my camera out in time.
The ride back was uneventful. It was getting more and more wet as we went along. J enjoyed a brief downhill run and then stopped to warn us of two narrow but steep gullies we had to ride around. As we were riding, I slipped my hand in the gullet of the Alta. This is something I do on occasion to check the saddle fit at Ashke's withers. When I first got the Alta, my finger on the right side of the gullet would be slightly pinched between the side of the gullet and his wither as Ashke walked. The finger on the left side would feel no pressure and would slide and move around in the space that was there. I understood that the difference in the fit from one side to the other was due to the movement imbalance that Ashke experienced with his injuries. Today, when I did the same thing, the improvement was marked. The right and left side was pinching my finger pretty close to the same amount as he walked. His left wither has definitely developed over the past ten months. I was pretty tickled to discover this. Additionally, he has put on some weight, because his saddle was one hole looser than last week.
New Back on Track Exercise Boots. Loved them. Will only ride with them going forward.
When we got back to the barn, we were running late to meet T at the ski bus. I dumped Ashke in his stall with another mash and we got the tack put away. And then we went to park the trailer and almost got it and the truck stuck in the mud. J says it wasn't that close, but it sure felt that way to me. The trailer parking area was a slimy clay mud pit. But, J was a rock star and she and Sully managed the bricked trailer just fine. We unhitched and headed out.
A pretty good day for January.
Our overall average was good and our canter was forward and relaxed without rushing.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Hence the MTG.
If you own a white or light grey horse and would like them to remain that way, do not use any oil based product.
His mane, the sides of his neck, his forelock and the front of his face, plus his tail and surrounding areas are dark greyish brown and very oily. I could see the little flecks of dirt and other unmentionable materials standing on the edges of his hair, but when I tried to remove them, they fused into a material that could not be removed from the hair. It is not a pretty look. I tried to braid his mane (which has finally started to fall over) but I couldn't separate the hair and do the weave do to the slickness of his mane. I ended up putting it into pigtails, hoping to encourage it to fall in the same direction. Even that was difficult.
So maybe I used a tad bit too much.
His tail was easier, since I could dunk the majority of it into a bucket filled with almost frozen water (damn it was cold) and scrub it with quickly freezing hands until the shit and oil had turned the reddish-brown-yellow tail into almost white again. Then a quick rinse in a clean bucket of water, followed by a hearty application of conditioner that smells of coconut and a tail brush for finally removing all of the snarls. His tail looked really good at the end of that process. His mane, however, may take until it warms in May to wash out.
After all of that beauty, we saddled up and headed to the indoor. We got about 20 minutes of solid work, including some decent cantering without spooking at the tarp covered bears at the end of the arena. Then the jumping lesson started with the four other horses that were in the arena and I took Ashke and I out. We tried the outdoor arena, but it was about four inches deep in mud and water, so we headed through the property to the access road that runs between the paddocks and the fields. We turned back down that access road and rode back to Indiana, across the pavement (which required wading through a puddle that was six or so inches deep) and onto the Van Bibber trail.
Yes, that's right. I rode out on trail, in the pitch dark, without a moon to see by, with a storm blowing in, on my Arabian. He was a rock star. He was a little snorty but not bad, with no major spooks. The only annoying thing was him walking with his head canted back to look back at the way we came, which he doesn't do on our ride home. When we turned home he fussed a little bit about walking and not trotting (we only trot home if we trotted out) but overall it was a wonderful ride. I have no idea how far we actually rode, but we were out for twenty five minutes or so.
I can't wait until it is lighter at night for a longer period of time. I think having the park across the street is going to be amazing, even if horse boy gets bored with it, because I can do a solid six miles without trying and I would much rather do that then ride in the arena.
Monday, January 5, 2015
One of my most admired horse people wrote a blog on this subject just recently, as if he knew I needed some direction. (I love Mark Rashid!! Can't wait to attend his classes at the Horse Expo in March!)
You can read the entire blog here: https://consideringthehorse.wordpress.com/ and I would highly recommend you do. He has some great things to say.
So, in searching for and evaluating a trainer (rather than just using the one you happen across at the barn you are boarding at) I am going to take the following things into consideration.
This makes sense to me. I am riding a horse that is unique in the world (and I believe most riders feel this way considering how many different horse blogs and experiences there are out there) and I am unique. My horse will experience things differently than a warmblood or a QH because of his physical structure, his physical condition, his personality and his reaction to the training environment. He has a different background and different experiences to pull from. His early foalhood training will impact how he processes and learns things. His nutrition and stable environment will also dictate his comfort level and willingness to try. How I maintain his feet and the fit of his saddle will contribute to his overall comfort level. All of these things are factors in the training environment, so why would we as riders expect our horses to all act, look or ride the same way?
My past riding experiences will effect what I do and how I do it. More than that, my life experiences will also effect how I interact with Ashke and what my approach is at any given point. I want a trainer that understands I will not just throw on a pair of spurs to get my trot-canter transitions. I want real life coaching that teaches me the skill to do all of the elements of a dressage test, which I want to practice while riding on trail. I need a trainer who understands that life teaches more than an hour in an arena and that those lessons should be incorporated into any training session. I need a trainer who is willing to work with us in the bit we have chosen and who isn't so entrenched in their specific process as to expect me to tighten down a cavesson. I want a trainer who is willing to discuss training strategy, explain concepts and terms that I don't know and who will present the information in a way that does not feel like a fight with my horse. I want to be successful while still maintaining the relationship with my horse that I have worked so hard to develop.
Mark Rashid goes on to say:
I think students, especially students that are coming to this discipline out of love of the horse without enough experience to cry foul when their trainer crosses over the line, believe that this is the only way to ride. You get a horse and then you get a trainer. You learn to ride your horse because of your trainer. You want to continue to improve and believe that you can only do that via your trainer and so you work hard at achieving what your trainer is coaching you to do. If your trainer spends your hour lesson nitpicking on a single item, or saying the exact same things they said in your last lesson, and the one before that, what exactly will the student learn in that environment?
Sometimes, like in Gail's instance, you realize what is happening and ride down your trainer with your giant ass horse and a dressage whip. Other times you spend your lesson trying to absorb the information and your practice rides in tears until you finally realize that what you are working on is not your goal; it's your trainer's goal. Other times, you give up and sell your horse and find a new hobby, or a new horse, not because you can't be a good partner for your horse, but because your trainer is not able to think outside the box they teach in.
A trainer should be able to see where you are struggling and reach out to break through that difficulty, not just continue to say the same thing over and over. And perhaps I expect too much, but I would expect a trainer to be able to tell when you are frustrated or struggling with a concept and present it in a different way to further understanding. Or move past that movement and onto something else that does further your riding ability.
I think Karen, at Not-So-Speedy Dressage, has the right set-up in that she works with more than one trainer. She learns different things from each of them and yet is able to apply those concepts within her lessons. She is also open and able to share the experiences and insights with both of the trainers she works with, without either of them becoming adamant that their way is the only way. Any trainer worth their salt should not be offended or butt-hurt by enlightenment from another source.
Mark goes on:
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Before I answer this question I need to discuss my newest feed issue with Ashke.
Ashke has lost a little weight since the cold snap last week. It was enough that I noticed it when putting the saddle on last night for our ride. I can also see his ribs beginning to hint through his winter coat. When he was at TMR, I had him on four flakes of grass and two flakes of alfalfa. When we moved to SQA, I put him on four flakes of grass and the barley fodder. After thinking about what I think he needs, I did two things: I upped his grass to six flakes (fed twice a day) plus the barley fodder. Additionally, I went out and got a bag of Amplify to add to his daily mash.
Amplify is a erudited pellet feed that has 14% protein and 30% fat. I have fed it before and Ashke likes it, will eat it dry if necessary, and it will not make him more hyper. I'm hoping that the combination of a little more grass and the additional fat will help us get through the winter without losing any more weight. It might also help him generate body heat during his adjustment to outdoor living. So his mash will now consist of two pounds of Triple Crown Senior, one pound of Amplify, equipride, omega max, lysine and joint supplement.
Now, back to the blog hop, where Beka asks, what is your horse's favorite thing. . . . Ashke has a toss up between his mash and the giant ball. He blisses out with the mash, but absolutely loves playing with the big ball. On Weds, we get to learn to play horse soccer at SQA, something I think Ashke will excel at.