March 15, 2016

First Ride on TC Complete

Princess Gem ready to rock and roll
Before I get into this story I want to add a caveat to the post from yesterday which caused some consternation amongst readers. That is never my intention. Blogging is an outlet for me to write, collect stories and pictures as well as bounce ideas around in my own head and against others. I do in fact pre load Gem with vitamins and minerals the week up to and including the ride. I use a product called Grand Vite from Smartpak which is a full vitamin and mineral supplement containing the entire profile that a horse needs. I give this to her every day starting a week out of the ride and I mix it in a slurry of crushed up Alfalfa cubes and sometimes applesauce. She gets two full scoops a day which is the highest recommended dose. I then continue to provide this in her mashes during the ride. During the ride I then use Perfect Balance electrolyte paste the night before, morning of and at every hold and give her a full dose each time. This product does not contain a full vitamin and mineral profile and is mainly sodium and potassium. I do not consider giving this type of product every day a pre load as it is not giving the actual full profile to the horse. My whole point of the pre loading portion was to discuss the oftentimes recommended use of the sodium and potassium syringes before a ride to tank the horse up on water. I believe that that point was somehow lost.

Anyway...moving on to today's less controversial post about my ride last Thursday.

A week ago Sunday I switched Gem from The Triple Crown Senior to the Complete. I wanted the oats, a higher fat level than the Senior offered and didn't mind the protein level in it although I wouldn't want to go any higher. Pete was changed to the Lite food. Gem is currently getting 5 lbs per day. Recommended is 6 lbs for 1000 pounds and she weighs in at around 900 when in perfect fighting condition. Pete is getting 2 lbs per day. Both will be monitored for weight gain or loss and the amount of feed given will change as needed specially now with the grass growing once again. I would venture to bet that both will be scaled back once they begin eating the grass which is fine since they will be getting a bunch of nutrients from the grass anyway.

Oats have a bad reputation of making horses hot due to the high carb count. Gem has almost always had some form of either corn or oats in her feed, so I wasn't terribly concerned about her mental status when on the Complete.

Thursday night was the first chance I had to ride last week and I was barely making it out there before the sun began to bed down for the night. I quickly grabbed her, tacked her and headed up to the arena to get some work in. I like the deep sandy footing as a change terrain from our typical hard pack trails as it works her tendons much differently. When we wandered to the top of the property though I saw this:

BO is playing around with the footing. The base is river sand, but it doesn't compact down well enough due to a large particle size. She had black sand brought in to mix with the river sand to allow for more compaction and better resistance. 
With the entire arena either covered in piles of sand or cut up from tractor wheels, I knew it wouldn't be a great time to get any decent work in. Instead we headed over to the jump field.

The horror! So much dead wood piled everywhere!!
I had worked her in this field one other time and she was a hot mess between her typical hatred of arena type work and all the bare wood everywhere. I do enjoy working in a field with jumps set up though because I have a better ability to plan movements and paths around them instead of getting lost in a big open space and not holding Gem to anything specific.

I started by asking of a nice working trot, one that is slow enough to be reposing and not rushy or inverted, and she responded by throwing her head around and basically acting like my toddler. I learned a long time ago that in this situation it is best to completely ignore her and ride as if she had responded properly. The lack of a reaction takes all the fun out of it and she eventually gets down to business.

It took two circles in the upper portion of the field to get her to adjust to the thought of working. After that she was amazing. Light in the bridle, even paced steady trot, and would turn just from the shift of my weight in the saddle.

I fully believe in Anna Blakey's blog and if you haven't been following it, you really should. Anyway...from the very first ride with Gem I have always had a plan in mind and when she performs the task nicely and softly I dismount. It doesn't matter if I was only on her for 5 minutes or for 5 hours. Once she does what I wanted her to do, we quit.

After about 30 minutes of trotting around the field in circles, serpentines, figure eights and the like I asked her to halt and got off. She had done super well and deserved the release. I gave her a big hug and we walked back down to the barn together in peace.

A beautiful sunset on the farm
I stopped and let her munch on the early spring grass that she was greedily eye balling and just hung out with her as the sun set lower and lower thereby ending the brilliant spring day.

Back in the barn I took a second to really look at her condition. Her BCS is just about perfect now. It took about 2 months to gain back what she had lost at the last barn and she is really looking better than ever right now. I love her top line and her butt muscles are starting to become chiseled again. She has the Arab head and neck, but her butt is very solidly from her QH lineage and I love it.

Just about where I like her to be when amping up the conditioning. Her butt could use a but more definition, but that will come with more hills. I couldn't get completely square to her due to the barn wall being at my back, so this is a slightly angled shot. I swear she is not this butt high!
Her neck is a bit scrawny but that is mostly due to the fact that I am fairly clueless when it comes to any real contact and use of the behind in a true dressage sense which I hope to fix this summer once I begin lessons. Also, this is an angled shot so it makes it look even worse.

All in all I believe that we are finally back to a comfortable place and I am really happy with my decision to back off the April ride and go in May instead. Oh, and I needn't have worried about any ill effects from the feed switch. She was fully engaged and perfectly manageable.


  1. Hurrah for such a good ride! And goodness do I hear you on the woes of a good photo. There are very few photos of Q I like! Griffin is easy, Q not so much.

    Also, your matchy matchy tack ensemble is pretty stellar. :-)

    1. I strive to be pretty awesomely garish in my tack. Typically I also wear a red shirt and my black tights. You can spot me a mile away!