Monday, June 9, 2014

The alfalfa experiment

Not her most photogenic pose, but I'm lovin' that shine!
I found a great article from New Vocations on "What your newly adopted Thoroughbred wants you to know".  There's a lot of how-to-train-your-ex-racehorse articles out there, but this one is humorous, to-the-point, and has some tips that I haven't seen elsewhere.

Like grooming (#12-"Beauticians Take Note").  When I started grooming Essa she would just about jump out of her skin - hypersensitive, cow-kicking, dancing around in cross-ties.  I don't use hard brushes since Cody is kind of sensitive, but he mostly just gives you the Mr. Crabby-pants look.  Honey, on the other hand, you can have at with just about any implement you want and she's happy for the attention.

Essa's reaction to grooming, especially on her flanks, has made me think of ulcers.  Since Cody is ulcer-prone I think everything is ulcers, but it has been on my to-do list for Essa.  Then I came across some reasonable-looking research on alfalfa improving ulcers.  

The suggested pound of alfalfa cubes with their feeds seems do-able.  And CHEAP!  At $13 for a 50-lb bag, that's my kind of ulcer treatment!  I'm perfectly happy to try an alternative to the insanely expensive omeprazole.  Plus, alfalfa was recommended for Essa to gain weight but at the time I just worked with what I had.  So it would be like a two-fer for her.

The cubes have to be soaked, so I do that in the morning to let them break up.  It turns into a big grassy mess that looks even worse when I add the beet pulp etc.  No matter, they are gobbling it up.  I'm hoping that improvement will look like less cribbing from Cody and more weight on Essa.  Results will not be very scientific, and likely qualified by "I could swear..." or "I'm positive/pretty sure..."
The test subjects
And lunging (#14-"Translation required").  I backed WAAAAY off after I did the video, and I'm following this process instead.  It's going great!  We are just doing walk and whoa on a lead line, and really working on installing voice cues.  The other day I tried her to the right, without the nose chain.  No drama at all!  So I will continue that for a while before I reintroduce the actual lunge line.  Forgetting the lunge whip in the barn has also made a BIG difference.  She's much calmer and it's easier for me not juggling the line and the whip in one hand!

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