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Author: Stephani Hren

Show Recap: November Burkwood Schooling Show

Show Recap: November Burkwood Schooling Show

I’m an organized, color-coded person. And yet, somehow I managed to spend seven hours at the barn on Friday and still not feel like I was properly prepared when it came time to load Raglan up. Next time we go to a show I need more checklists, another rolling Husky tub, and for the barn staff to remember not to turn my horse out so that I don’t have to give him a SECOND bath!

As always, getting Raglan onto the trailer was a trial. TrainerK’s been showing horses for over twenty years, though, and she showed me a really nifty trick for loading him! One person leads the horse up to the trailer while the other uses two lunge lines hooked up to the side of the trailer to create pressure on his hind end.

An hour and a half later, he unloaded like a pro and settled into his home away from home for the weekend. The stalls were a little on the small side, but he didn’t seem to mind.

Once the trailer was parked and the living quarters were hooked up to power/water, we came back to the barn so that TrainerK could school horses. She brought fourthree training horses and her personal hunter.

One of my big worries about taking Raglan out to show was that he would have problems with the filler, since we don’t have flowers, fancy standards, or a huge selection of colored rails at our barn. I had visions of him slamming on the breaks or jumping eight feet in the air. I shouldn’t have worried, though! He didn’t even glance at any of the jumps. TrainerK’s biggest complaint was that he was blowing past her half haltsso pretty consistent with the rides she’s been having at home, too.

The next day she switched out his French link eggbutt for a Dr. Bristol full cheek to give herself more stopping power. He rode nicely in the warmup, despite being very excited to be there.

His classes went well, too! He rode in the 2’3″ division. No rails, no stops. TrainerK is confident that “the jumps aren’t the problem, it’s the stuff between the jumps”—LISTEN BETTER, HORSE.

He went in two classes and even managed to get fifth in one of them, despite not being a hunter horse.

That night, after we’d helped the show crew set up the jumper course for the next day, I tacked Raglan up and hacked around the main ring (in my BRAND NEW SADDLE—but more on that later!). We walked over some ground poles, trotted some circles, and just had a very chill experience together while TrainerK hand-walked her other green bean/provided adult supervision.

The next day TrainerK moved him up a division to the 0.75m jumpers. His classes didn’t run until the afternoon, so I tacked Raglan up and putzed around in the warmup with him for a while. He was great! We walked, trotted, and did some lateral work. I felt happy and safe.

I spent the rest of my morning chatting with some friends from my barn while we watched the lower divisions ride. One of them was riding jumpers for the first time and was nervous about a turn that her trainer had asked her to make. We spent a long time trying to decide if the turn was possible. Our final decision? Yes, but only if you were on a tiny pony or had a lot of finesse to your ride…

Later, Raglan came out of his stall looking sleepya sure sign he was going to be a hellion under saddle. TrainerK’s experience kept him from murdering any innocent kid/pony bystanders in the warmup ring, but it was a close call. Raglan, why you gotta be so EXTRA?

He also wanted us to know that 0.75m is insulting to his talent.

By the time he went in for his classes, though, he’d found his chill. He took a rail in the jump off of his first round, but then came back for a really spectacular ride in the $100 0.75m Jumper Classic.

The best part? TrainerK, who had listened to all of us talk about turning inside of the island, saw the opportunity to shave off some seconds and showed us how to make it happeneven if you’re on a 16.3h green OTTB with questionable breaks and steering. It. was. AWESOME.

In fact, it was so awesome that it WON THE WHOLE CLASS. Here’s the full ride:

I was so proud. When I saw the results sheet, I might have made a scene that involved me shouting TrainerK’s name over and over again in astonishment. I’m that client. #sorrynotsorry

And as if I couldn’t be more happy with his performance over the weekend, he loaded onto the trailer to go back home with 0 ANTICS. Who is this horse!? When did he get to be so professional!?

I’m so pleased with how Raglan behaved this weekend. Watching TrainerK ride him without any refusals or spooking gave me a lot of confidence. He wasn’t crazy or uncontrollable; he rode exactly like he rode at home. TrainerK wants to get him a little more “broke at the canter”, but once he stops kicking out like a wild man I’m confident that I’ll be able to show him over fences, too.

Designing a Diet with FeedXL

Designing a Diet with FeedXL

Not gonna lie, my diet is a strange mixture of healthy choices (no fast food, no soft drinks, lots of fruits, low fat meals, etc.) and a horrendously uncontrollable sweet tooth (so much candy, pastries, and ice cream for dinner). I’ve gone through weight loss/healthy eating phases before, but counting calories turned my brain into Swiss cheese and left me feeling like I was starving 100% of the time, so naaaaaah.

But when it comes to Raglan’s diet, I take nutrition requirements more seriously. That’s why when I started thinking about his diet I decided to purchase a subscription to FeedXL, an online platform that strives to “allow you to quickly and easily assess your horse’s diet using supported science”.

Raglan’s diet, with estimates in place for hay consumption (he gets two flakes of alfalfa and one flake of grass, morning and night). Ideally you should upload your own hay analysis data, if possible!

I started out by filling out information about Raglan (breed, activity level, weight, etc.). Then I plugged his current diet into the platform. Here’s the chart it generated:

On top of the obvious deficiencies in Selenium, Manganese, Iodine, Sodium, Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, and Folic Acid, there were a couple of other details that quickly caught my attention.

Raglan’s getting enough MSM, but his Glucosamine intake is too low.
Raglan’s Cool Calories are only accounting for 1% of his calories.

As a result, I’ve doubled the amount of Glucosamine that Raglan is getting and I’ve decided that once his bag of Cool Calories is empty I won’t be buying another. Gotta save that $$$!

Slowly but surely gathering new ingredients for Raglan’s grain baggies

TrainerK thinks that some of Raglan’s recent wild behavior can be attributed to his feed. LMF Gold is sticky. It’s got molasses in it. It’s 18% starch and 7% simple sugars for a total NSC of 25%. TrainerK calls it “pony crack”. It’s done a wonderful job of putting weight on Raglan, but TrainerK recommended that I try switching to Purina Strategy Healthy Edge (which has a comparatively low NSC of 16.5%).

Raglan’s ration of LMF Gold vs. the ration of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge he’s transitioning to

Replacing the 3.75 pounds of LMF Gold with 3 pounds of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge dropped his Digestible Energy down by 5%. From there it was just a matter of finding a supplement that could fill in nutritional gaps. For that, I went to the mecca of all pony supplements: Smartpak.

Part of Smartpak’s Horse Multi-Vitamins Supplement Comparison chart, sorted by price per day in buckets because I’m #cheap and like to buy in bulk

After plugging in a dozen different supplements, I settled on MVP’S Mega-Mag, a “well-balanced multi-vitamin and mineral supplement formulated to … accommodate feeding programs consisting of alfalfa hay/grain based diets”. A couple of scoops of Mega-Mag left sodium as Raglan’s only deficiency, which was quickly fixed by adding a couple of ounces of iodized salt to his feed.

Here’s a look at Raglan’s new diet, including his updated chart of nutritional needs:

Of course, I’m not implementing all of these changes at the same time. I’ve been gradually reducing the amount of LMF Gold and increasing the amount of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge that Raglan gets by a pound every four days or so. He’ll be fully changed over sometime next week.

As for supplements, I’ve already doubled the amount of Glucosamine he gets and will be adding in the iodized salt the next time I make grain baggies. After he’s finished transitioning to the Healthy Edge I intend to leave his diet alone for another thirty days to watch for any temperament changes, then if all goes well I should be introducing the Mega-Mag. He’s going to be the healthiest horse around 🙌

Not that he’s not already the healthiest of healthy horses LOL

FeedXL has been a great tool to help me find gaps in Raglan’s diet. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to all but the most die hard of nutrition nerds. It’s not the easiest of websites to use. For a $60 yearly subscription, I expected the FeedXL experience to be a lot less clunky and more intuitive than it was.

It also lacked a lot of the features that I expected it to have. I wasn’t able to compare diets side by side (you have to navigate out of your current diet and into your new one) and its basic interface made scrolling through all of the feed options monotonous and overwhelming. It couldn’t give me cost comparisons or tell me which grains are available in my area. I wasn’t able to narrow down grain choices by brand, percent fat, NSC content, or ingredients. Even when I was able to find supplements I liked using Smartpak’s free comparison charts, FeedXL wasn’t able to tell me the serving size of each oneI had to open a bunch of extra tabs just to be able to enter the right amounts of potential supplements into my horse’s diet.

When it comes down to it, the main problem with FeedXL is that if you don’t already know what you are looking for, it’s easy to get lost in the overflow of data and options that FeedXL gives youwhich defeats the purpose. I thought it’d be a more streamlined way to research my horse’s diet, but instead it felt like something I could have cooked up with some spare time and an Excel spreadsheet.

If you still want to check it out, the $20 one month subscription is probably your best bet!

A Nekkid Horse

A Nekkid Horse

Raglan is officially hairless.

This was my very first time body clipping a horse! I got to the barn early to give Raglan a bath, then spent a good two hours clipping his coat away. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be! I chose to leave his legs and his head unclipped (for my own personal sanity). By the end of the morning I was so. itchy.

Last year I hated waiting for Raglan to dry after I rode, so when late October rolled around and TrainerK brought in a pro to clip her horses, I started shopping for my own pair of body clippers. In the end I ordered the Andis AGC Super 2 Speed clippers from Smartpak. A full body clip costs $135, so in the grand scheme of things I don’t mind shelling out $154 for clippers that I’ll use for at least the next few years!

The AGCs did a good enough job! They’re definitely not clippers that I’d want to use to shave multiple horses in a day, but they made it through the full clip without getting too hot. Towards the end I had to get a little liberal with the Kool Lube and they made a weird squealing noise for the first couple of lines after I sprayed themlike they were just so happy to be cooled down they had to celebrate LOLbut I’m satisfied with their performance. I’d recommend them for anyone looking to clip one horse.

I thought he’d change color, but he didn’t #whatadisappointment

I learned some lessons while I clipped. Next time I’ll drop $30 and get a wider blade (the T-10!). I missed a big spot of dirt at the top of his butt during his bath (short people problems!) so I had to clip through some sludge there, guess I should be more diligent about scrubbing him! And I brought a change of shirt, but not a change of pantshuge mistake, all the hair got stuck in my leggings and I itched all day.

If you look closely you can see the line where the clip starts

But the deed is done! Raglan had a great ride with TrainerK and it only took him a few minutes to dry!

It was a pain in the butt to clip him, but I’m glad I did it. If you’ve got the money to spend on a professional more power to you, but I don’t regret buying my own pair of clippers!

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