Saturday, November 18, 2017

Senior horsekeeping in the winter

As we head into winter, I've noticed some more signs that P is really feeling her age. During some of the short cold snaps that tell us winter is on its way, I've noticed that she moves a bit more stiffly. In my last post, I was considering putting P on a senior supplement to help with joints, digestion, and overall health. But when I actually started looking at supplements, I discovered that there are so many choices out there! I have to admit that I became overwhelmed and haven't actually tried any of them yet. So I need to be more decisive and get P on something soon. I know there are a lot of claims that senior supplements don't work - I plan to give one a try, and if it doesn't work, then we'll either stop or try something else!

I've also been trying to bed P's shelter with a thicker layer of shavings to help her get up and down more easily. I have to say that P is quite good at using it as a bathroom, so it's more expensive and it makes cleaning more difficult for me, but she also lies down more - and of course, it's all about her comfort!

P has also been quidding her hay a lot. The dentist did check her teeth this fall, and they're still okay but wearing down quite a bit. Therefore, I've been soaking more mashes and trying to find the softest hay and hay alternatives. We tried one brand of alfalfa/timothy hay cubes - and according to P, they were ABSOLUTELY NOT ACCEPTABLE! P wouldn't touch them! So recently I tried a different brand, and so far, so good. Let's hope P keeps eating them!

Winter is a tough time of year for any horsekeeping, and I think that keeping senior horses happy and healthy during the winter is an even tougher job! Keeping them comfortable and well-fed often involves a lot of extra work and expense - and I honestly can't imagine doing anything else during the winter! Keeping P happy makes me happy, and I hope we'll both get through this upcoming winter in good shape.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The senior supplement junkie

Hello, blog world! It's been ... well ... a really long time. I hope all of you and your horses are doing well.

P is doing great, although I have to admit that she has really continued to age over the past year (yes, that's probably how long it's been since I've blogged). She is still happy and healthy, but I do feel like there's a bit more stiffness in her on those chilly mornings, and her muscle tone and topline aren't quite what they used to be. (Don't worry - she gets routine vet care, and this is just normal aging.)

As I've mentioned before, her teeth also aren't great, so she eats a lot of soaked, soft food. Sometimes she also has loose manure which tells me that she isn't always digesting her food well either. So lately I've been considering adding some supplements to her diet. I have to admit that I've been perusing the SmartPak catalog - and WOW! - there are a lot of senior supplements out there. SmartPak even has quite a few combo supplements that are supposed to address everything from joints to digestion to vitamins to hooves to skin/coat to just about anything else you could think of!

Honestly, as we age, our diets change. We ourselves may even need supplements! So it's not unreasonable to supplement our horses' diets, too, especially since we have so many products available. I would like to add a digestion supplement and a vitamin/mineral supplement to P's diet to make sure she is getting all her nutrients as she ages. Are there any supplements that you would recommend, whether SmartPak or another brand?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dreams and how they change over time

When I was really little, my dream was to ride in the Olympics and have a huge barn with lots of horses! I grew older, reality set in. :)

The reason I was thinking about how dreams change over time is because I met another rider who's having trouble deciding what she wants out of horses. She seems to think that showing is something she should do, but she doesn't really want to show with her horses. But she's having trouble finding a purpose in what she *is* doing with her horses.

I wish I could make her see that you're allowed to follow your own dreams with horses, and sometimes those dreams change over time.

My own dreams and goals with P have definitely changed as we have gotten older. Let's face it - there is no way P and I are *ever* going to the Olympics!! As P gets older and our riding days become fewer and farther between, my real goal is to keep her happy, healthy, well-fed, and well-loved.

And isn't that what we all dream about for our horses? :)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A severe lack of blog entries - and rain

Apologies for not blogging for...well...all of 2016 so far. Yes, that's how bad a blogger I've been. Time just got away from me this year, I guess. I truly admire all of the bloggers who are able to work, go to school, ride, deal with the rest of life, and blog with such wonderful photos - I wish I were as good at time management as you are!

One thing that has not helped this year has been lack of rain. We are in a bad drought and trying to conserve as much water as possible. It makes things hard, as it is amazing how much water you need around a horse barn. The ponies are of course getting drinking water, but they are NOT getting baths. P's tail is disgusting! Does anyone know if there is some sort of dry shampoo that would help clean and detangle a horse tail that can't be washed?

I hope everyone has had a wonderful summer and fall season with their horses. I will try to check in on Blogger more often but can't guarantee. I hope I'll be back before another year goes by, though! Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year!

Hello to 2016! I hope everyone and their horses are well and had a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for the new year.

Apologies for disappearing from the blog world for the last few months of 2015. At the time of my last blog entry, I was having trouble balancing work, life, and horse care - I'm sad to say that it only got worse. Work consumed my life for several more months, and if I did have a spare moment, it was spent doing extra work to prepare for winter horse care.

P is doing well - she got very fuzzy for the winter. I'm also sad to say that I'm going to have to repeat all of my 2015 goals for 2016 because I did a terrible job of meeting them this year!

1. Ride more and have fun

I actually thought I was doing a better job until the last few months of the year.

2. Blog more

I also thought I was doing slightly better until I completely missed the last few months of the year.

3. Pamper P a little bit, especially as she gets older

Will definitely try to continue this in 2016!

4. Try to eat healthier and lose a little weight

Will keep trying in 2016!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The balancing act

Well, I haven't been doing a great job of balancing work, horse care, riding, and life lately. I've been pretty consumed with work and although horse care always gets done, riding sometimes gets put on hold. This isn't necessarily a good thing as the summer winds down and we start to prepare for winter where riding often doesn't happen at all.

Although I wasn't able to ride this weekend, I did get some other things done which made me feel better, but I wish I had gotten a ride in!

Speaking of balancing, I'm also trying to find a balance between too much bedding in the run-in shelter and not enough. I've always put a little bit of bedding in the run-in shelter, but as P has gotten older, I think she lies down in there more and could probably use more cushioning for her joints. However, she also uses it as a bathroom, so it's a little tricky to give her enough bedding to lie down but not enough to make a big mess!

How much bedding do you like to put in your stall or run-in? A few inches? A foot? What kind of bedding do you use? I've been using a mix of shavings and pelleted bedding which seems to keep things slightly cleaner.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Warm-up work and P's teeth update

Once again, apologies for not blogging for so long! I've been extremely busy at work and also trying really hard to put in more pony time. It's not easy and sometimes I just want to sit down and not do anything!!

But I think it's important to keep P moving as much as possible. She has 24/7 turnout but I think regular exercise helps her a lot. I've been doing a lot of warm-up exercises at the walk such as circles and serpentines and figure-eights. I do this on the ground or in the saddle and I also do a variety of leg-yield exercises on the long sides and the quarterlines. If anyone has any suggestions on warm-up patterns, please let me know as I'd love to try them out.

P has also been having more trouble with her teeth. She quids her hay more often, including chopped hay, so I've been looking into other forage alternatives for her. I tried one brand of hay stretcher in the past and didn't think it soaked very well - there may be other brands out there that work better.

I'd like to keep her on something as close to hay as possible. She's a pretty easy keeper, so I don't really want to feed a lot of alfalfa, but alfalfa cubes are really common around here. I know they make a nice soaked mash. I've also seen alfalfa/timothy cubes which would be less alfalfa. I'm not sure that I've ever seen straight timothy cubes. Does anybody feed straight timothy cubes? Has anyone tried any other forage alternatives for horses with bad teeth?