Sunday, December 28, 2014

The holiday season, hay, and joint supplements

Hello, bloggers! Apologies for the lack of blogging - I have to say that I am a pretty bad blogger. The holiday season has been busy, and it feels like the month of December has just flown by.

P and AP are doing well, although the weather has not been particularly nice lately, so I think they're a bit bored.

They're standing around and picking at their hay more. We currently have a decent batch of hay, not overly sweet and green but also not stalky and yellow. I'm pretty picky about purchasing hay because it's so important to find hay that P is able to eat. But we've had some tough hay seasons recently with a lot of rain, so it's not an easy task!

I'm also considering starting P on an oral joint supplement for the winter. I know there's a lot of controversy over whether or not oral joint supplements actually work. There are many people who believe that they don't, and there are quite a few anecdotes from people who think they do. I feel like such a supplement junkie between considering ulcer supplements for the ulcery horse and now a joint supplement for P!

I've been comparing different supplements and ingredients but haven't made a decision yet. SmartPak has a lot of different supplements with a lot of positive reviews. I think it's a matter of finding a high quality supplement with different ingredients and giving it a try with the individual horse.

P does not have bad arthritis, but she's getting older and occasionally shows some stiffness which may actually be from some sort of past unknown injury. She's not a high-level athlete by any means but I figure it can't hurt anything but the pocketbook.

I hope everyone and their horses had a happy holiday season!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Extremely busy, finally some pony time, and considering SmartPak supplements

Hello, blog world! Sorry I haven't been around much lately. Seems like it's been one thing after another around here, and just when you think you're done, something else pops up!

Finally got some quality pony time in this weekend. P needed a good grooming, and we went for a very short hack. The weather was finally cooperative, and the footing seemed fine. Really wish I had more time for quality pony time like this!

In other news, the ulcery horse has been on the aloe vera, slippery elm, glutamine supplement for about six weeks now. It seems to be helping a little bit - the horse's attitude is a little quieter, although I'm not really sure how much of a difference we're supposed to see or how long it takes to get there. I think I would like to see a little more progress.

The supplement is actually not from SmartPak, and there was talk of switching to one of SmartPak's SmartGut supplements. I don't know what the final decision was.

I try not to feed too many supplements, but I do think they have their place, so this might be one of those places. I think SmartPak does a lot of marketing, but they do have quality supplements with quality ingredients.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Not much to blog about

Hello, blog world! I haven't written in a while, as there just hasn't been that much to write about. With the lack of daylight and uncooperative weather, I've only been getting regular horse care done and not much else. Life has also been busy, so I haven't even had much time to read blogs. I hope everyone and their horses are well and enjoying better weather than we are!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wouldn't a 5-day weekend be nice?

Have you ever had one of those weekends when 2 days just isn't enough? I must admit that I have those weekends pretty much every weekend - but this one seemed worse than usual!

On one weekend day, there were a lot of chores and other things to do that severely limited pony time. On the other weekend day, uncooperative weather severely limited pony time. Pony time is really precious this time of year - in the time of ever waning daylight - and I'm sad that it didn't work out this weekend.

If only there were more weekend time! I definitely support switching to 2 weekdays and 5-day weekends!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The ever waning daylight

Weekends always seem especially short during the fall season. There's so much to do and the ever waning daylight doesn't make things easier. Seems like a lot of people out there in the blog world are dealing with rainy weather and the huge temperature swings of fall. We're dealing with the same, and so far the ponies are tolerating it.

I've been busy tidying up the barn area for the winter and making more room for hay. There really aren't a lot of weekends left before winter will be upon us, and I like having everything in order before the cold and the snow arrive.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The seasons are changing and ulcer update

You can just feel the seasons changing now. The daylight hours are so much shorter, and even when the sun is out, it doesn't shine at quite so high an angle. The nights are chilly and the days are warm. The leaves are rapidly changing colors and falling off the trees. The squirrels are gathering nuts for the winter. And P and AP are getting extremely fuzzy.

In other news, the ulcery horse has recently been started on an ulcer supplement. The horse has already been treated with GastroGard in the past, and we're hoping that an ulcer supplement will help maintain digestive health. I've been told that this particular supplement includes aloe vera, slippery elm, and also something called glutamine which is an amino acid that's supposed to help heal the digestive tract.

I know a lot of ulcer supplements include calcium to buffer the stomach from the acid. I wonder if the aloe vera is better for soothing old ulcers that may have healed but with scar tissue.

Equine ulcers - what an issue!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rain, rain, go away

I absolutely believe in as much turnout as possible for horses. I think it's much healthier for them to be outside. P and AP have lots of turnout with a shelter, but there are some days when they actually choose to stay inside the shelter. Like today! The rain has been on and off all day, there's a strong wind, and when it's not drizzling, it's pouring. I guess I can't blame P and AP for staying inside and eating hay!

Thank you for the comments on my previous post about horses with ulcers. Due to the rainy day, I've been reading a lot of information online. Of course GastroGard and good horse management are important keys to healing ulcers, but there are so many different symptoms that you might see and so many different supplements that seem to help. It's mind-boggling!

One thing that a few people have mentioned is flare-ups of ulcers as the weather changes. As we're heading into fall now and then winter, this is a prime time for flare-ups as pasture grasses die off and horses start eating only hay again.

Hoping for some better fall weather soon!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Equine ulcers

I wanted to ask the blog world if anyone has had any experience with maintaining a horse with ulcers. This is a horse that has been treated with GastroGard in the past but appears to have flare-ups from time to time. The horse eats well, is in good weight, and looks healthy on the outside but shows other ulcer signs such as body soreness and spookiness.

If you maintain a horse with ulcers or know of one, do you see any soreness and spookiness? What parts of the body are sore, and are the spooks big and random? Does the horse paw or crib at all? Do you find that the flare-ups happen at specific times of year? Do you feed one of the many ulcer supplements available on the market, and do you find them effective? Do you think that hindgut ulcers are involved at all?

Thank you to anyone with ulcer information.

In other news, P and AP are doing well. They're enjoying the autumn weather and awaiting the end of bug season!

Friday, September 19, 2014


As the pasture grass dies and the days and nights get colder, P and AP are starting to dig into part of the winter hay supply.

I'm a little bit - well, A LOT - obsessive about hay. Hay makes up most of P and AP's diet. I try to calculate as best I can, but I always worry about having enough to get through the winter. So much depends on bale size and quality every year. But I think it's really important for horses to have enough hay, and in P's case, she needs very soft hay that she can chew.

I buy local hay and have had a very basic forage analysis done in the past. I didn't get a full vitamin and mineral report, but I did get things like protein, fat, digestible energy, and few of the major minerals. The hay usually comes from a lot of different fields, so it doesn't make sense to test all the time, but it does give me an idea of what I'm feeding and what the hay is like in this area.

I've had some wonderful hay, and I've also had some moldy bales and weedy bales. I try to check each bale very carefully before feeding.

Hay making is hard! I'm really grateful for the farmers who watch the weather reports carefully and who are out there working hard on hot summer days to make hay. Our weather patterns haven't made it easy the past few years, and the hay crops haven't been great. I hope there's enough good quality hay this winter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

P is eating dirt

I've noticed that P has started to eat dirt. She has a specific spot of dirt that she keeps licking. I think she's done this in the past at this time of year - when the pasture isn't growing as fast anymore and when she's starting to eat more hay to grow coat and pack on the pounds for the winter.

P and AP do have a white salt block that they seem to lick at a fairly normal rate. Sometimes I'm even able to break off pieces and crush them so that they get a bit of loose salt. I've heard that horses may eat dirt due to a lack of minerals - maybe P is missing something now that she usually gets from the summer pasture. I could try a mineral block or some type of mineral mix - I always try not to overdo the supplements, but I do feel that they have their place and can be helpful.

I'm really interested in equine nutrition - mostly because of P. She's typically an easy keeper, but she's lived in a couple of barns that didn't feed her very well. Unfortunately, I think it was from lack of caring by the feeders - they fed poor quality grain and hay and didn't always make sure that P got her food! P lost a lot of weight, and that's when I started learning a lot more about equine nutrition. I think the most important lesson is to feed high quality feed and make sure the horse gets it!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cleaning continued

The tack cleaning success finally motivated me to clean out other horse stuff, too. It's amazing what we horse people can accumulate over the years, isn't it? I went through quite a few boxes and organized things and threw out a few expired products. I don't think everything expires exactly on its expiration date, so I'll keep things for a while, but eventually they do get TOO old!

The only thing about cleaning out is that you have to replenish. I'll need to add a few things to the horse product shopping list now. Isn't horse product shopping fun? I enjoy it a lot and can spend forever comparing products and trying to decide which is the best product and best value. For example, recently I mentioned that I'm looking to purchase a new cooler to dry out wet ponies in the winter - I'm still browsing and trying to decide which one would be best. There are a lot of choices!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cleaning tack

I finally had a chance to clean some tack - this is something that I really need to be better about! I always wipe down the bit after a ride, and I also give the saddle and bridle a quick wipe, but I'm not very good about thoroughly cleaning and conditioning everything.

The leather definitely takes a beating here with all the dirt and dust and weather changes - hot and humid in the summer, cold and dry in the winter - I'm wishing for a climate-controlled tack room!

I've read a lot of recent blog entries about what everyone uses to clean tack. I'm currently trying out Leather Therapy products. So far they seem to be doing a good job!

The days are getting shorter and colder, and P and AP are growing winter coats already. At first I thought I was imagining it, but it's definitely happening. Even though winters are tough here, I love when the ponies are warm and woolly. And there are no bugs!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Productive weekend

What a productive weekend! Unfortunately, I didn't get around to cleaning tack yet - but I did get a lot of other stuff done!

P and I also went for a short hack. P used to be an excellent dressage horse, although now she's mostly in retirement. That doesn't stop us from doing some large, loopy circles and bending exercises from time to time.

Her friend AP is also learning how to leg yield. AP is learning to leg yield from the quarterline, back to the rail, and then back to the quarterline. We're finding that a lot of support with the outside aids really helps her a lot, and the leg yield helps her to become straighter. She's looking good!

In other news, the pelleted bedding experiment seems to be going well. I'm still considering changing to all pellets but am worried that watering them to break down would become even more of a chore. However, I'm very interested in managing the manure pile a little better - I think the pelleted bedding is supposed to break down faster. Anything to keep the manure pile from getting out of control!

Also, I'm in need of a new cooler to help the horses dry in the winter but not get chilled. Any recommendations?

Friday, September 5, 2014

The hazy, hot, humid days of summer

It's been quite hazy, hot, and humid lately, which is a little surprising since we're so close to the end of summer. I believe the ponies are already starting to grow their winter coats, so I hope it cools down soon.

P has had some trouble chewing hay lately. She does get most of it and hasn't lost any weight, but occasionally I'll find a few big quids of hay lying out in the paddock. She does better with the grass, and luckily there's still some grass for her to eat. Because her teeth are getting old, we're trying to maintain her mouth as best we can. We don't want to overdo the floating but also don't want her teeth to get overly sharp or uneven. So far, so good - crossing our fingers that she stays that way!

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I needed to get organized for the winter. I haven't accomplished much yet but will try to do some this weekend. This process also includes cleaning tack - and I've read quite a few blog posts lately of how everyone cleans their tack and what products they use to clean. It's inspiring! I better work on cleaning some tack!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Horse product reviews and pelleted bedding

I love reading all the horse product reviews that other bloggers write. It's really informative to hear which products people like and what they like about them - or which products they don't like!

I'll have to think about which products I like and could review. For example, I'm currently trying out pelleted bedding in P and AP's shelter. I only use a little bit for the pee spots, and so far it seems to keep things drier which helps extend the life of the shavings. I just picked up a no-name bag at our local store, and I believe that different brands have different levels of absorbency. I may try another brand next time.

I would definitely continue using a mix of shavings and pelleted bedding. It's hard for me to keep the pellets watered enough to break down but not get dusty. But so far the mix of pelleted bedding seems to be a success!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Getting organized

It's that time of year where I start thinking about all the little things that need to be done around the barn. Things need to be cleaned and organized and ready to be put away for winter. I also need to go through some of my old horse stuff and see what needs to be kept and what can be given away or tossed.

It's a big job, and I'm trying to do a little bit every weekend. The amount of stuff that you collect as a horse person always amazes me! If anyone has any barn decluttering tips, please let me know!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Aspiring to be a more efficient stall cleaner

I'm aspiring to be a more efficient stall cleaner.

P and AP are turned out with a shelter, and we bed the shelter with shavings, as they lie down in there and it seems to be easier on their aging bones. Unfortunately, they also use the shavings as a bathroom, and I'd like to be more efficient at cleaning the shelter and their turnout.

I try to keep up with the cleaning daily because it's a much bigger job if I don't. But it's the daily cleaning that I need to be more efficient with. I'm thinking about mixing some pelleted bedding in the main pee spots - the extra absorbency might help, although I worry that I would end up taking out a lot of pelleted bedding every day. That could get expensive.

Any ideas from the speedy stall cleaners out there?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I'm getting worse at blogging but the pony is doing well

Well, I'm sorry to say that I've gotten worse at blogging, if that's even possible - it's been well over five months this time. What is your blogging routine? Do you blog early in the morning or late at night? Do you blog on weekdays or weekends or both? How do you find time to blog in the midst of horse care and riding, work/school, and general daily activities?

The good news is that P and AP are weathering the summer quite well so far. It's been warm but not brutally hot. We've had some nice summer days, but unfortunately, there's also been a lot of humidity and bugs. The bugs are probably the worst part - sometimes I feel like I spend more time dressing them in fly gear and swatting bugs than doing anything else!

P is enjoying the summer grass, as it's softer for her to eat. I hope there will be a nice soft hay crop this year so she'll be able to eat well this winter, too. AP seems to have some allergies to the grass and pollen, but it's not serious and just something to keep an eye on. They don't spend a lot of time out in the pasture anyway because the bugs are so bad. That's probably a good thing, as it preserves the pasture and keeps them from getting too fat! They're both pretty easy keepers and have been a little chubby in years past - this year they both seem to be at an excellent weight, and I'd like to keep them there!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The worst blogger ever in the winter

Well, I must be the worst blogger ever. One post and then almost four months until the next one.

Quite honestly, there really hasn't been much to blog about. Winter is a quieter time of year for pony activities, and it's been a cold season, although we haven't gotten nearly as much snow as other places.

P and AP have been staying warm by eating lots of hay. P can still eat soft hay and also gets some chopped hay. She also has a very thick winter coat, but as she gets older, I do wonder if I'll have to start blanketing her. There are countless brands of blankets with a countless number of options, so I'll have to start looking into that.

P and AP have also continued to get plenty of turnout, even during the winter. I think it's important for P to be out, as it keeps her from getting so stiff. She especially tends to get stiff in her hips/sacroiliac area. I suspect that she may have had some past trauma, although she is also just getting older. Unfortunately, we don't have access to an indoor arena, so any real exercise can't be done until spring. I'm okay with the time off, as the weather is often too miserable to ride anyway, but sometimes it would be nice to have an indoor.

I'll try not to take four months to blog again!