I was not very good at blogging during the ride this year. I had good intentions, but just did not get it down. I'd think about what I would want to share, but when I would get off trail, I'd get busy taking care of Hank, then myself, and then dinner, meeting, bed. His care took a bit more time than I used to take, as I am doing some different feeding methods. I used to keep hay in front of him at the rides, all weekend. But Hank is a BIG eater. He likes his food, and would stuff himself. While having the horse eat well at a ride is very important, I am not sure that with Hank, it was too much of a good thing. Those huge meals tend to have the body shift it productivity over to get all that food processed, instead of taking care of other metabolic functions. Now this is not any thing scientific that I can quote, just my personal feeling from how I am to understand the horses body and digestive system to work when a huge meal is introduced. So, I spread out his hay meals through out Friday, and then the nights before we ride he does not get the huge hay bag stuffed full, but rather a measured meal. Ride mornings we he gets a hay meal, but not huge for him to stuff himself. At home he gets beet pulp mashes every night, and on Wednesday before a ride weekend, he starts getting two mashes a day. What the horse eats on Wed. - Thursday is generally what they are depositing out the other end during the ride. So, again, just my mind coming up with this, those meals for Hank would be best to have good fiber, and moist, along with his hay. At the ride, he no longer gets a HUGE beet pulp mash at once, but small ones thought out the weekend. All I can say, is it is working. Also, I bought some really nice Timothy hay to take along to the rides. Hank was on Timothy after surgery, as the vet prefers it, and finds it easier to digest. Again, good digestion is important at the rides. Right now with the pastures not really green, he is on hay all the time. But after he is grazing more, I'll be bringing him in on Wednesday before rides, to start on some hay, along with the grazing.
While many riders spend a ton of time practicing obstacles etc., I spend some time looking at what will make his gut mobility healthy at the rides, and what works for him to keep the other metabolic functions working well. But I find I have to really make myself pay attention, and think about these things, as it would be so much easier to just toss a hay bag out, a pan of dry feed, and cal it good. I guess the surgery woke me up a bit to the fact any horse can have colic. Even those standing in green pastures grazing. Asking them to work hard at distance riding, adds to the risk factor for them to have digestive issues, so what can I do to help minimize that?
OK, I guess I'll report on how the ride went for Sunday in a blog tomorrow. Time for me to get some sleep. Hank unloaded out of the trailer, and blasted off to the other horses, trotting around with his tail up, telling them all about the weekend, and the pretty ribbon he won... it matches his tack. ;-)
Right now, this is all working, so I will keep with this program for the rides. In the past couple rides, he has had perfect metabolic scores with the exception of a hydration point this weekend, when he did not drink as much Sunday afternoon. The important thing is that his gut sounds have been doing their thing at the rides, telling me he is processing his food well.