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Just What I Needed

I’ve been a bit stressed lately, mostly because lots of small things that I can’t easily get crossed off my To Do List make me feel overwhelmed. It’s my busy time of the year at work and I have lots of wedding planning going on… which means lots of appointments and last-minute “oh shit” projects mixed in with all the regular stuff. Plus, I just seem to be on the struggle bus lately. For example, my Monday:

Sunday

9:00 p.m. Farrier texts confirming Miles’s trim appointment for 9 a.m. tomorrow

Monday

7:00 a.m. I text the barn manager, and ask her to keep Miles inside for the farrier (no turnout)
8:30 a.m. Get to work, our entire network is down and I can’t even access the internet
9:30 a.m. Network is back up! Huzzah!
11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Slew of never-ending meetings
2:10 p.m. I leave work for a doctors appointment
2:45 p.m. In the waiting room I get a text from the Farrier that he was unable to make it to the farm today
3:00 p.m. My phone battery is at 4% so I rush to Meijer and buy an over-priced car charger
3:15 p.m. I panic on the phone with Sam about my Farrier, who has now made 1 appointment on time in the 6 months I’ve owned Miles
3:30 p.m. I arrive back at work
5:00 p.m. I fire my Farrier
5:01 p.m. I call my trainers Farrier, who graciously agrees to add Miles to his list and we schedule an appointment for 9:30 on Wednesday
5:02 p.m. I start drinking copious amounts of white wine… and you can imagine the rest of the night *wink wink*

Selfie with Miles
So yesterday I went straight to the barn from work, groomed the pony and started walking to to the indoor promptly at 5:15 p.m. I had to cancel my lesson because my new helmet isn’t in yet and I definitely don’t want to jump in a damaged one. I probably shouldn’t even be riding in it at all, but sometimes you just need to get on an ride, ya know?Basically what I’m trying to say is that small, seemingly simple tasks have just been really fucking tough this past week for no reason whatsoever. Fuck me.

I digress. Back to the point.

The large indoor is not connected to the barn, so I have to walk about 10 steps outside. And as soon as I opened the barn door and stepped out, Miles perked his ears and looked longingly at the outdoor arena. So even though it was 35 degrees and slightly windy, we rode outside. In the sun. And it was glorious.

My best friend N joined us for a bit and we didn’t do a goddamn thing. We walked around on the buckle for 15 minutes, I did a short trot/canter/trot session and then we stood in the middle and talked. And I felt 1,000 times better when I left the barn than when I had arrived.

That was exactly what I needed.

Lets Talk Joint Supplements

Let’s Talk Supplements, Part III

I will admit to being a very overprotective and worrisome horse owner. Miles definitely inherited some baggage when I became his owner, which includes paranoia about arthritis. My old horse, Visa, was mostly retired a few months before he passed due to severe ringbone and just general arthritis in his hocks and back. I was at the “evaluate his step every day” phase, and sometimes I catch myself doing that with Miles too. It’s a hard habit to break.

Just about every horse owner has dealt with arthritis, and the consequences thereof, thus it comes as no surprise that one of the most popular supplements are joint supplements. I had Visa on SmartFlex Senior by SmartPak, as well as Adequan when he got into his mid-teens; and the stuff worked wonders. But most of my research (which I now cannot locate, so maybe I’m making this up. Someone please call me out if I’m crazy!) shows that joint supplements are more effective when used as preventative measures rather than after the fact.

Of course, I want Miles around for a really, really long time. And I want to preserve his awesome joints for as long as possible. I wanted to wait through part of the winter to see if Miles got stiff or sore, but he really didn’t, for the most part. He was previously on MSM, but I’m not crazy about using that supplement by itself. I’ve read that join supplements are more effective when certain ingredients are combined (again, let me know if I’m wrong!). So I’m currently looking into SmartFlex I Maintenance by SmartPak.

It combines MSM and Glucosamine, while still being relatively cheap. Of course, part of my motivation for ordering this supplement is SmartPak’s free shipping for over $40 (which, if I also get a coat supplement, Miles’s “Pak” will fall at right about $40). Damn you, marketing strategies!

Of all the supplements I’ve discussed for Miles so far, this one seems to be the biggest stretch. There’s not a problem I’m trying to solve; so am I just throwing away money?

Do you feed a joint supplement? If so, why?

Lets Talk Skin and Coat Supplements

Let’s Talk Supplements, Part II

As I said in Part I, I don’t love supplements, but I don’t hate them either. My philosophy is if the horse needs it, he should have it. I felt very confident in my choice to begin feeding Miles ProBios (a digestive supplement) because there was a very clear problem that needed to be addressed. I also liked the ProBios supplement in particular because it simply gives more of what is already naturally produced in the body.

In this next installment, I want to talk about coat and skin supplements, which I feel less confident about. I’ve talked a few times before about Miles’s poor coat quality and dry skin. And while it’s certainly improved since I started brushing him more, it’s still not quite where I’d like it to be. Of course, there are lots of factors that play into this issue, some of which I can change (more currying) and some of which I can’t (no baths in the winter and wearing blankets for five months straight).

But the reality remains: Miles’s coat and skin could use some help.

I’ve used coat supplements in the past, including Ultimate Finish (which really doubles as a weight gain supplement), as well as SmartShine from SmartPak, and I liked them both well enough. But Miles doesn’t need pure fat (remember when he ate too much food and went crazy?), and part of me feels guilty for wanting to feed my horse a supplement just so he looks pretty.

But just like Miles’s loose stool, there is a real problem here (blanket rubs, dull coat and dry skin) that needs to be fixed. And the fact of the matter is I live in Ohio: it’s going to be too cold to bathe for months on end and Miles has to wear a blanket so he doesn’t freeze to death.

So I’m seriously considering putting Miles on SmartShine Ultra, at least for a year, to see how things go through next winter. Has anyone used this supplement before? And, more importantly, am I a terrible person for wanting to “cheat” on getting Miles’s coat and skin up to snuff?

What do you think?

Lets Talk Digestive Supplements

Let’s Talk Supplements, Part I

Equine supplements can be a controversial subject, and it seems that every equestrian has their own opinion about them. Some love them, some hate them and others fall somewhere in between. Personally, I fall into that last category: “somewhere in between.” I think that many horses, especially the ones I come into regular contact with at boarding barns and on the show circuit, receive their nutritional requirements from the grain, hay and grass they eat. I also know from my equine nutrition class in college that you can make a horse very, very sick by over supplementing, especially minerals such as vitamin A and Selenium.

However, as a discerning horse owner, I always want to do what’s best for my horse. The first thing I did when I bought Miles was take him off all of his supplements; I wanted to know if he needed them, or if he was on them just because. Now that I’ve owned Miles for six months, I feel like I have a much better handle on what he needs nutritionally, but I still have some decisions to make.

In this short series, I’m going to discuss three areas of supplements that I’m currently using or considering for Miles: digestive, skin & coat and joint. I’d love for you to chime in with your opinion and hear about what supplements have or haven’t worked for you.

Equine Digestive Tract

Digestive Supplements

When I purchased Miles he was on a maintenance dose of SmartGut from SmartPak, and we speculated that it was his previous owner’s way of treating him for possible ulcers. Miles was never scoped by a vet, or put on treatment (such as GastroGuard) for ulcers; so I pulled him off the SmartGut.

After a few weeks I noticed that Miles had loose stool, and it stuck around for a while. It wasn’t diarrhea, but it did get all over his back legs and let’s face it, that’s just gross. So I consulted with my vet, and decided to put Miles on a digestive supplement: ProBios. ProBios contain Lactic Acid Bacteria and other direct fed microbials. In animals, direct fed microbials can restore the normal balance in the gut and improve overall health.

Miles started the ProBios supplement in November 2013, and since then he’s had loose stool twice. Overall, I’m quite happy with the product. I feel confident that this type of supplement was something Miles needed, and that it has improved his overall health, which is always my goal when considering a supplement. Plus, the cost is relatively small. I was able to find the 5lb can of granules on Amazon for $35 plus shipping. Considering the first 5lb tub I bought lasted about four months, that’s only 30 cents a day – not too shabby!

What do you think about digestive supplements? Do you use one for your horse?

Help Me Pick A New Helmet

Because my fall on Monday was my second fall in my helmet, I decided it was time to replace mine. I am pretty strict when it comes to helmet safety: two falls or five years, whichever comes first. I’m hoping that because my helmet took two falls within three years, that I’ll be able to use IRH’s replacement policy and buy a new IRH ATH SSV for cheap. Which means I have a little bit of extra money to buy a second helmet just for shows. Why do I want two helmets? Well, I’ve realized now that I don’t want to wear my current one due to safety concerns… I don’t have one to wear at all. Plus, when you use a helmet five days a week (or more) it gets gross… and grungy. And I want to look my best in the show ring! Thus, two helmets seem ideal, especially since I can afford it right now.

My goal is to purchase two helmets for under $500, which means GPA and Samshield are out. The IRH replacement should cost around $110, leaving me $390 for my show helmet. The last time I tried on helmets, Charles Owen looked horrendous on me… but I’m willing to order a couple to try them on, so I’m not ruling out the CO brand entirely. Here are my top picks so far:
IRH Elite Xtreme Helmet

IRH Elite Xtreme – $237.45

Pros: Well within budget, and I know I like the IRH brand. I like that it has more vents than my current helmet, and that it comes in plastic, which I think would be easier to keep clean and looking new. I also like the harness, which hides my ponytail and helps keep all my hair up in the helmet and looking neat.

Cons: I’ve never had a plastic helmet, so I’m slightly concerned about scratches. It also doesn’t have a removable liner… which I would really like.
Charles Owen AYR8

Charles Owen AYR8 – $351.45

Pros: Also within budget, and it comes in black or black/silver options. It seems like pretty much everyone in the hunter ring has a CO, so I would definitely fit in and not have brand envy. I’ve heard this helmet gets decent airflow through the vents as well.

Cons: The last time I tried on CO helmets they looked terrible on me. It only comes in microsuede, so that means lots of helmet cleaning for me, and it doesn’t have a removable liner. Plus the harness isn’t ideal for all of my hair. And I remain skeptical about how much airflow one vent really gives.
IRH Elite Ultra Helmet

IRH Elite Ultra – $379.99

Pros: I like my current IRH and I’m interested in trying the long oval size to see if it helps reduce my mushroom head. This version has tons of vents, has the harness I like, comes in black or black/silver options. I’m also really intrigued by the leather cover. It looks super fancy in the pictures (but do you think it would be too shiney during the summer in the show ring?) and easy to clean.
Cons: It’s fairly pricey, but I did find it at Farmhouse Tack for cheaper. I’m not 100 percent sure about the leather. Maybe I just need to see one in person to decide?
Which helmet do you like best?