Although it’s been as hot as the surface of the sun in Texas lately, I still made it out to the barn this weekend. Saturday I hacked at 7:30 AM, and it wasn’t bad at all surprisingly. Or I should say, not really any hotter then it’s been all summer. Thankfully, there is very low, if any humidity in north Texas, so at least it is a dry heat.
This works well with Rio’s anhidrosis, because at least the water/rubbing alcohol mixture that I frequently re-apply while riding is able to evaporate easily and help dissipate heat. The Equiwinner patches I was trying did not work at all. 10 days of patches, zero sign of sweating. That was a bummer, but I have written to the company about getting my refund. Hopefully that is a simple and smooth process, I’ll keep y’all updated.
I currently have a gallon of Equine Mega Sweat on order, fingers crossed that that does something. I read a few places that high doses of Vitamin E can be the ticket to sweating for some horses, and the Mega Sweat has 12,000 IU/100g. I also plan to give him an extra pump or 2 above the recommended dosage due to his large size. In comparison, I looked at doing the Vitamin E supplement through SmartPak, and the the cost to get 12,000 IU’s is crazy expensive- approx $150/month. The Mega Sweat is $90/month, so I decided to go that route to see if the Vitamin E is the problem. I did change up his SmartPak’s some by adding 8,000 mg of Tumeric, which I read helps some horses and is also supposed to help support the body’s inflammatory response.
In short, I’m turning into a crazy supplement person who’s monthly supplement bill is now exceeding $200. Yes, I am working extra shifts at work. I love you Rio.
After our hack on Saturday I had a special treat planned for Rio, I had brought my massager to the barn. I have written about it before, but for those new to the blog, I’ll explain again. I have this hand held percussion massager that my hubby got off Amazon maybe 2 years ago. It was $100 and I instantly loved it. I tend to get muscle related back pain from my work at the hospital, and this thing worked WONDERFULLY at relaxing rock hard spasming muscles. So much so, that I rarely need to use it anymore. When Rio was going through some of his health stuff last year, I decided to bring it to the barn and see if he liked it. He did. A lot. Then I kind of forgot about it, and haven’t used it in ages. Now that Rio is getting an intense chiro regimen, and plenty of hard work, I figured he might enjoy some massage time.
Rio didn’t just enjoy it, he LOVED it. Even more then I remember him loving it. Lips flapping and eye closing, once he really gets into it he starts rocking his entire body and leaning into me, so much so that he has almost knocked me over a few times. I mostly concentrate on the lower lumber area and around his haunches. This seems to be where he likes it the most. He also enjoys his neck and poll area too though, and will hang his head and close his eyes in total zen mode.
On Sunday we had a jump lesson at 9 AM. Hotter then Saturday for sure, it was still tolerable. I brought a bag of ice to add to my water/alcohol bucket, which Rio seemed to really like. Although he was hot and breathing some, it never escalated to the heavy shallow panting, or breathing any harder then I feel is to be expected for a normal sweating horse in this weather (I am constantly eyeing the other horses in our lesson and comparing how they seem to be handling the heat to how Rio is doing). Nice thing about group lessons is plenty of time between rounds to stand in the shade and re-apply the cold water.
Our lesson went pretty well overall. Rio is in the transition phase where we have stepped up what we expect of him, ie NO BREAKING during the canter work. He simply HAS to come back when I ask, without giving up and breaking to the canter. I am very fair in that we never canter excessively, and I do not ask and ask and ask for a shortened and more collected canter. For example, during the flat portion of our lesson where we are all going at the same time, I often do not canter as long as the other horses and riders. Trainer wants quality over quantity, so once she has coached us a bit, and he is responding and holding the smaller canter stride on his own, we let him take a break while she focuses on the other riders. During our jumping rounds, we do max 8 fences at a time. We feel that he is fit enough at this point to hold the quality of canter we desire for that length of time. Towards the end of the lesson, especially when it is hot, we will even shorten the course to maybe 4 jumps at a time.
Now, if he DOES break, he gets an immediate strong correction, either crop behind the leg, or strong spur, while at the same time being sure to chuck the reins at him. We want it CRYSTAL CLEAR that breaking is not an option. I do this ONE time in a ride, and that’s all it takes. Problem is, down transitions have become a bit harder because he doesn’t want to get in trouble again. I have to very clearly cue for the downward, where as before I could just sit and relax, or basically just heavily breath out. I know that this is just a phase, and once he 100% gets the picture everything will become relaxed again. Part of this issue is that I need to ride more accurately, and not let my down transition aid be confused with my trying to shorten the canter aid.
Good news is that with a better canter, our distances have not been a problem at all. I realized after my lesson that I didn’t even have to really think about getting the distance on Sunday, they all just seemed to happen. Makes me SO excited to feel this progress, and I cannot wait until that is how it is all the time.
Rio got another massage post lesson and loved it just as much. I also made him a “popsicle”, aka I put salt and gatorade powder in a plastic cup with water and froze it, then broke off the surrounding cup. He thought I was trying to poison him though and wouldn’t touch it. Little STINKER!
Who else is coming up with fun ways to try and pamper your horse, or keep them cool in this weather?