Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reverse Weight Watchers

Royal and I have quite a bit of fun lately, testing both lightness and concentration. I got a Feather Line at the Tour Stop, and it really is quite different that the regular 22-foot line. I don't think Royal actually felt it at first, since he tried to wander off to a particularly appetizing piece of grass and looking very surprised when he hit the end. He stayed very light for the rest of the session, and never tried to test the rope again. I did have to put him on the regular 22-foot line for an adrenaline management session; the basic idea is that if your horse has temporarily lost their brain, you ask the horse to boogie for a lap, then wait for 3 laps to see if they try to come off the adrenaline and connect with you. If they do, you allow it. If not, ask them to go for a lap again and wait. The point is to help them run the adrenaline out instead of nagging at them to stand still, which usually make the situation worse (ask me how I know). It took Royal 3 repetitions the first time, but he quickly got the idea and would try to connect after a quarter of a circle.

We've also been able to do some trail riding, although now we're mostly sticking to the dirt road. I'd like to ride him to the local bark, but they're working on the bridge so we'd only be able to get to the entrance and have to turn around. So, we have to keep going up the road, and Royal wore his trail bridle for the first time in quite a while. I'm not quite sure what he thought of it.

 It's interesting going trail riding with him because he has two trail riding modes: either he's really into it and really wants to go exploring, or the conversation between us is more like

Luckily, the first mode is more common.

My main focus with him over the past few weeks has been trying to get him to put on weight. Right now, most of the weight problems with horses seem to be that they're too fat, which can lead to all sorts of metabolic issues and health problems such as founder. Not my horse. Instead of being the type of horse who looks at food and gains weight, he's the kind of horse that hears the wind in the trees and loses 5 pounds. He is the only horse I know that can lose weight on an all-you-can-eat buffet. Of course the extreme heat and the temporary drought (which seems to have ended in our Corner of the Universe. Yay!) didn't help. He still looks healthy (bright eyes, shiny coat, good hooves), but on the thin side. So, I started conservatively, putting him on one scoop of SmartGain 4 a day. That didn't seem to help much, so now he's on ADM's HealthyGlo as well to add lots of fat to his diet. Since he hasn't been on grain for a few months, I'm slowing starting him on it and working our way up to a pound a day. He seems to like it so far, although it's very different than the concentrates I've fed before. As he gets up to the full amount, we'll see if it helps.

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