Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Good News Continues

Aside from the Groundhog, That Is

All you groundhog fans...that was not a picture of my groundhog, but one I got off the net that looked exactly like my groundhog, though not quite as startled. These beasties are not beloved in our neck of the woods. They make big holes in the ground and eat all the gardens. That's why I didn't bother planting any tomatoes this year. They are big, fat, furry members of the rodent family, akin to marmots.

But they are kind of cute.

I have to continually check the pasture and paddocks to make sure there are no holes for the horses to step in. The burrows underground are really big and each groundhog (also known as a woodchuck) has at least two entrances, maybe more. My Dad used to shoot them as they would destroy his garden crops and most of the farmers I know feel the same way.

OK, now for the good news on two fronts. I took Chance out to lunge and he was wonderfully sound! The only thing I can think of that he may have trod on his heel with his other foot and given himself a sore spot. There is a bit of loose skin there so that might have been it. He was trotting out and kind of bouncing off his front feet tonight. So I will probably saddle him up tomorrow and give him a little school.

And one more day of the new Tucker! I challenged him a little more to go into a higher frame--still not what I am striving for--and he was perfectly happy to keep going. Half halts, full halts, and even a reinback to trot and he never offered to nap at all. Once he started to react with his ears and it was as if the switch just flicked back to on a second later. I have a feeling some of his reactions are really ingrained and he starts to protest out of habit, realizes there's no reason and just goes on with the work.

It is utterly charming. But I do feel I almost need to start training him all over again--faster, but still working through the basics. The biggest problem I have always had is actually understanding and feeling exactly what is correct when my horse is UP and on the bit for the higher levels. I need to have my trainer work me on it until I can really feel what is correct on my own. Then I'll be fine.

I have another lesson with Patrice on Monday, so that's good. After that, I don't know when Gabriel will be back. If the prospects look dim, there is another trainer Gabriel knows who is good, so I can go there if she will teach me. It is all about "feel" with me. All the theory and technique can be learned from books and, of course, my own past experiences at training two other horses through Intermediare 1, but getting the "feel" of each horse working at his proper frame and potential is where I need the outside eyes. Once I know how correct feels I am fine. I'm just not there yet with Tuck.

When I stopped at my tack store to pick up the Ulcergard, one of the managers there commented how much of the product they had been selling. Our area has quite a few racing stables and apparently the racetrack people are finding real succes using the product. The store manager said often the race people around here are on top of the cutting edge of treaments for horses. I do know that my "ace in the hole" vet is a track vet and the NJ Equine Hospital works on lots of race horses. (Smarty Jones, Kentucky Derby, Preakness winner was treated there as a 2 year old) Apparently the racing world has latched on to the concept.

Here are some sobering statistics I found on the Internet. "Research has shown that 90% or more of high-level performance horses have gastric ulcers, and that lower-level show horses also can get ulcers, but at a lower rate." (www.thehorse.com) "Performance horses that are stabled on high grain low roughage diets would be expected to have a high incidence of ulcers as well. Studies have shown that 60 – 70% of eventers, 50 – 60% of endurance horses and 50 – 60% of show horses have ulcers. The bottom line is that is you have a horse that is worked very day, spends time in stables and is on a high grain diet, then it has a high risk of developing ulcers."( http://www.petalia.com.au)

My Toby is a cribber and I have long suspected ulcers. I tried him on the UGuard powder, but it was hard to tell if it made an impact. I will now be giving him a full course of the generic omeprazole. Since he is now 17 and has been cribbing for over 15 years, I doubt it will break the habit, but if I see any changes I will report it here. He is a worrier and a high energy horse as well, so he fits the profile.

So far, no suspicions with Chance. He's too laid back for that kind of thing.

I think.


  1. who knows? does laid back mean no ulcers? but i can certainly see that hard top level work could mean ulcers. interesting indeed.

  2. Wow scary statistics...least the racing folks are picking up on it!
    I suppose its never occured to me before because Polo has had a very naturaly life T/O wise..high fibre diet etc but if they are worriers or the type to panic then they could easily develop them.

    The lesson should tell you alot but he seems to be holding up well when you are making more demands.

  3. Let me just add being the cemetery guy that they love old graves they burrow into the chambers of the graves and seem to enjoy a life under there. I can think of four family grave sites in town with these critters doing damage, cute but pesky for the researchers...