“I don’t feel attached to my new horse…why?”

I recently came across this question in one of my Facebook groups. “I don’t feel attached to my new horse…why?” It was after the girl had had to put down her old horse and she had gotten a new one and he was perfect for her in every way. But she didn’t feel the same click with the new horse and was worried something was wrong.

It’s 100% normal.

When I first got Jim, it wasn’t like an immediate love at first sight, we are bonded at the hip feeling. I was still mending my wounds a bit and trying to figure things out. Jim – like the horse for the other girl – was perfect for me. He had the right attitude, build, potential that I needed. He was sensitive and sweet and would take care of me. But those first few months took work. Over time, going to see him multiple times a week at the barn, grooming him, riding him, pampering him, our relationship began to grow. It’s now over a year and a half later and we have that attached at the hip, trusting relationship. Now he nickers at me when he sees me and I know all of his quirks and habits and things that make him Jim.

It’s ok when you’re going through a transition, no matter if you had to sell your old horse or put them down or it was the ending of a lease. All of us equestrians have been through this before. It’s not an easy feeling and it can be a hard time. But don’t beat yourself up when you don’t immediately have that relationship with your new equine. Give it time to develop. Although the place in your heart for your old horse will never go away, you’ll find a new spot just for your new partner.

Not all supplements are created equal

Jim eats better than I do. He has a personal nutritionist. He has all of his meals carefully planned. He gets an ideal amount of everything he needs to be the successful athlete he is. While I sit and just try to make a healthy recipe out of a book, he is getting the most perfect feed for his type, weight and exercise. What we feed our horses matters. They are athletes and they need the dietary support to perform how we want them to.

It’s sometimes easy as a horse owner to sit back and let others make decisions for you. Your horse may be fairly easy to feed. He or she may get fat on air. But when it comes to becoming an educated owner who likes to learn and be involved, it’s important to dive right in and understand WHY your horse is fed what he is.

I’m very fortunate to have a trainer who doubles as a nutritionist for the farm. She has spent a lot of time with me sitting down and discussing supplements and how best to tailor Jim’s diet to his workload and condition.

My favorite example is when it came to picking a new hoof supplement. Before I had Jim on the DAC Bloom and Oil for his coat and hooves. The products are fabulous together. However Jim started gaining fat pockets. He had tipped the side of the scale from muscle and healthy weight to getting fat and we wanted to nip it in the bud.

But not all hoof supplements are created equal and this is where equine nutrition and a knowledge in it become important.

For example, every supplement varies in the vitamins and amount of vitamins. They have to, otherwise they would all be the same product. Some have different fillers. Some are one ingredient. Some deliver vitamins by way of fat.

Hoof supplements are a perfect example of variation. They vary anywhere from 10mg of biotin in a 1oz scoop to 50mg or more. Some include copper, zinc and methionine while others are strictly biotin. It’s important as you begin to travel through the pages upon pages of supplements to have a trusted guide at your side. What sounds like Greek to you will be easily understood by someone with more experience.

But learn. Pay attention to why a supplement is better than another supplement for your horse. For Jim, he couldn’t have anything with a high fat content or something that delivered the biotin via fat. That was the reason he could not be on the Bloom anymore. But the methionine helps a horse’s body process biotin so it’s a good thing to have in a supplement.

We went through dozens. It took over an hour going through supplements to decide on one to try. And yes, I said try because at the end of the day, we may not be happy with it. Your horse’s diet – yours as well – is fluid. It always has to be assessed and tailored.

At some point, sit down with your trainer or someone – not a feed store rep – to analyze what you feed. Determine what holes exist in the feeding program and ask questions. Be more involved. At the end of the day, your horse will thank you.

Treats aren’t the only way to show love

I’m going to say something that will make everyone gasp…

Treats aren’t the only way you can show your horse love and appreciation.

I touched on some of these in my blog about my post-show routine, but I think it’s an important fact to get across. You don’t have to constantly feed your horse to make them happy.

With the issues of obesity in horses, many people don’t look into what they’re feeding as treats. Some treats are so laden with sugars, artificial flavors or fillers that it’s like giving your horse a McDonald’s milkshake every day.

And it’s not just sugar-filled treats. Apples have a historically higher sugar content than carrots do. Better yet – rainbow organic carrots have an even lower sugar content.

How many treats – even the little peppermints from restaurants that you nabbed on the way out – do you give a day? One or two? Or five to 10? It may seem incidental, but it’s not. It adds up in your horse’s overall health.

Along with finding low or no sugar treats and watching out for artificial flavors and starches, your horse would just as much appreciate a good liniment rub. Or a massage with a favorite curry comb. I have one of the curry combs with the rolling magnets on one side. Jim absolutely loves it!

Instead of filling up a treat ball or hanging a Lick-It in the stall, how about a few special moments of hand grazing? Or a nice shampoo and conditioning – including mane and tail – that would make your horse feel better.

Even a long scratch on the withers where it’s particularly itchy for horses is sometimes most satisfying for them than a treat. I’m not saying to never give treats – I think Jim would murder me – but feed within reason. One or two after a good work where he or she earned them is better than a huge handful for just existing. Also pay attention to what you’re feeding. I’ve been personally feeding Giddyap Girl treats that are lower in sugar and also include some good probiotics.

Your horse and his body condition score will thank you.

My horse’s love affair with the farrier

There’s one thing in horse ownership that you come to learn and appreciate more than ever: your farrier. Finding a good farrier is like finding that one perfect foundation for your skin tone – almost impossible. When you find them, you hold on tight.

A horse’s hooves are their foundations. Think: horses spend almost their entire 24 hours a day on their feet minus a few hours laying down to sleep. Those hooves carry 1,000+ pounds a day on capsules of tissue, blood and bone. Keeping their feet balanced and correct is a true art and one not enough equestrians appreciate.

I’m sorry backyard owners, I will never pick up a rasp and try and trim my horse’s feet myself. Nope, never ever. I value his feet and everything that goes into them. There is too much at stake and it’s worth the money every 6 to 8 weeks.

I have become very good at recognizing trouble signs. I know the basic signs of thrush, white line disease, flares, chips and abscesses. I know a nail in the foot is an immediate call to the farrier and the vet! I know enough of when to call my farrier and say “come save me.”

Think of all of the diseases that are potentially life threatening – or at least career ending – that show signs of trouble in the hoof; laminitis, navicular, broken coffin bones and many more. An incorrect balance on the feet can also affect the horse’s entire body. You don’t mess with that alone.

It comes down to the fact that I’m ok that my horse has a love affair with my farrier. He should because in the end, it’s better for everyone. It’s worth the money to have a qualified farrier who knows what he’s doing taking care of my horse’s feet. He’s not just some guy who decided there’s money in blacksmithing and wants to run around and call himself a farrier.

When looking for a new farrier, don’t be afraid to shop around. Ask other horse owners who they use. Ask who they won’t use. Gather as much information about the blacksmith as you can. And if your farrier isn’t cutting it, don’t be afraid to find a new one. You can find the right fit for you and your horse, but don’t be surprised if he/she isn’t the cheapest on the block. A good farrier is worth it.

We are all equestrians

This is for the girls that can’t afford the $5,000 saddle or the $1,000 pair of tall boots. This is for the girls that have spent years dedicated to trying to move up a level and just won’t give up. This is for the girls braiding and shining their grade pony for a show because they know he’s just as good as the $10,000 warmbloods.

This is for the girls that cheer on others, that don’t care what other girls are wearing or who they’re riding. This is for the girls that support each other on the sidelines and in a sport based on judging, just wants everyone to succeed. This is for the girls that don’t let winning get to their head because they know the next show they might not do so great and that’s ok.

We are all equestrians.

Product Review: Vibrant Clay and Jewelry

You are a horse owner or have a friend who owns a horse and you’re looking for the perfect gift for him/her. Horsehair jewelry is out of the question. The person doesn’t want to cut their horse’s tail. Or they would never wear it. In comes Vibrant Clay and Jewelry.

I have had a number of custom animals made by Leanne. A quick Facebook message is all it takes to order. She does have a waiting list and is usually booking custom projects for the next month or so. They typically run anywhere from $40 up depending on the complexity of the custom work. She will add props or different poses or anything you can imagine! You can even make your horse into a unicorn.

The dog I had done (shown above) was my childhood Sheltie named Oreo. All I had was a few photos of her from when I was a child. Leanne worked with me and made a spot on replica of her. I treasure it forever. I’ve also had gifts done for other people of their horses.

Don’t want to order custom? She posts horses, dogs, cats, chickens, elephants – almost any animal – up for sale on her Facebook page. Right now she’s running a whole line of Easter-themed animals she has done!

If you’re interested, go ahead and like her Facebook page and send her a message! She will let you know the wait time and after you send photos and describe what you’d like, how much it will be. She does accept PayPal.

(I have paid for all custom work done by Vibrant Clay and Jewelry and did not receive any compensation for this review.)

Product Review: Back on Track Mesh Sheet

I have to admit, Back on Track products has become a staple in my tack trunk. From polo wraps to exercise boots to now the sheet, I’ve noticed a difference in my horse.

I received the mesh sheet as a Christmas gift this past year and it’s been one of my favorite things to put on the horses I ride! After a cold, winter ride, it’s a wonderful feeling to untack and put this on them. Almost every horse I’ve placed it on so far has relaxed on the crossties, started licking and chewing with relief, and began to fall asleep.

Under the blanket, you can feel the warmth radiating from the sheet as it works its magic. I’ve even enjoyed draping myself in it to warm up on chilly days!

They are definitely worth the money. For your basic black, depending on horse size, they run from $199-$250. They are also now offered in navy, burgundy and hunter green.

Back on Track also offers a variety of people and dog items and I will definitely be adding some people products for me into my collection in the future!

(Note: I received my sheet as a gift from family and did not receive any compensation for this review.)

Photo courtesy of backontrackproducts.com.