Hay testing results back

I finally got my hay tests results back and discussed it with the Uckele rep. There weren’t any real surprises. I expected the Iron in our hay to be high, but I guess what is surprising is how far off I am from what I need to be giving versus what I’m giving so I’m dramatically increasing the California Trace (Copper and Zinc).

Simply put, Iron binds minerals so the higher the Iron the more it binds the available Copper and Zinc. You have to increase both of these to compensate.

Another thing that surfaced about the hay was that I needed to add Phosphorus to balance the Calcium:Phosphorus ratio. Phosphorus can be found in Flax seed but most, if not all, horse products have already been balanced for the Ca:P balance so I’ll have to go with another product to add the right balance of Phosphorus.

Last, but not least, while the hay has a low sugar, it also has low Protein. A preliminary idea for taking care of this is to eliminate the Grostrong 13 and replace with Alfalfa pellets and the Beet Pulp (without Molasses), both of which I can get easily from Tractor Supply which is about 5 miles from the barn.

I’m waiting to hear how to add the Protein.

If this sounds all like a bother, it is rather but being a PSSM horse I need to make sure his diet is correct as this is the best way to manage this disease.

The dantes_master_pssm_diet  master spreadsheet.




Posted in Dante, hay & feed, PSSM

Finally back to some sort of work

Dante seems sound enough to get back to some basic work. I still think he seems a little off but I’ll need a helper to trot him off so I can view him from behind and lately I’ve been on my own at the barn.

Taking into consideration that he injured his muscles around his stifle when it locked, I’m hesitant to do any trot work unless he presents it of his own accord. He knows how he is feeling, and when I tried to get him to trot to see if he was sound a few weeks and ago and he was reluctant, sure enough once he did trot he was still lame.

Today, I was back to doing some simple exercises:

1.) Head down cue. He will lower to touch a target but he is not linking that to the verbal command of Down. So I’m back to trying to reinforce that. I am also looking for a longer duration of his head down before rewarding (Clicker Training).

2.) Halt, with weight back – Asking the horse to unload the weight on the front/forelegs and to shift weight to the hind without moving. Horse is standing square and from this square halt – weight back position, move into the Head Down with a Forward Stretch.

3.) Head Down with a Forward Stretch (at Liberty) – This is done at walk, using a target. I’m looking for the nose to be pointing forward and the head to be low – imagine the horse grazing and reaching out to grab grass that is just a little in front of the head’s natural, dropped position. He was super eager to get back to this and gave me trot of his own accord.

We are working on STRAIGHT LINES only until I get the okay from the vet that he can be worked harder. I’m looking for duration on this (Targeting, Clicker Training).

This is the rudimentary beginnings of Straightness Training and Art2Ride though without the bend. The bend (or working on a circle) might put too much strain on his recovering stifle, so until I get the all clear from the vet we will be doing straight lines only.

4.) Head Down with a Forward Stretch (in Cavesson, with one rein) – This is done at walk, using a Cavesson and lungeline attached to the center ring. I’ll be moving Dante into a Cavesson so I have more control of his balance, weight of legs, amount of bend and Stelling of the head. This will help him also start learning the signals via the lungeline connected to the Cavesson nose ring.

5.) Head Down with a Forward Stretch (in Cavesson with two reins) – This is done at walk, using a Cavesson and reins attached to the side rings (one on each side). Husband bought me these long 64″ reins from my Wish List for Christmas so I need to set them up with a clip so I can attach them easily when I want too.

I won’t be working on Haunches In until I know he is A-OK via the Vet.

6.) I need to review my Masterson Method info and start loosening his hindquarters. I should have been doing this through December but life gets very hectic that month and I felt overwhelmed already so just gave Dante the month off after his injury.

7.) I really need to take him on some nature walks. That is dependent on weather and time.


For the Holidays, I bought these cordless clippers for myself. I love cordless over corded clippers sooo much but my old pair died some time ago and I never replaced them. When I bought him the trainer was letting his fetlocks go hairy trying to grow “feathers” and it’s obvious he doesn’t have any real feathers so I’ll be trimming off that hair come spring and making him tidy.


Posted in Clicker Training, Dante, Masterson Method MM, PSSM, Straightness Training, Training

Still lame and very cold


I thought Dante had recovered enough to be let out to the big pasture, but the next day it was obvious that no, he was still sore on his stifle, so back to stall rest. (this photo shows that we had a little deer visitor overnight)

Saturday it got extremely cold and while we had a cold drizzle and a very small amount of snow, I was lucky that I could still get out to do the horses (feed, check the water etc…). Dulce had ice balls packed into the hooves and we were fortunate enough that she stood still long enough to let us get them out.

Between weather and lameness there isn’t much to do at the barn except chores.

However, I am doing a R+ exercise that is different then what I usually do. For example, if I am training Dante to stand quietly at the mounting block, I use a target to lead Dante to the mounting block and then reward when he stands still. I am encouraging a certain type of behavior to happen through shaping and targeting.

This training exercise, is instead looking for a behavior that Dante spontaneously offers such as a stretch where he puts both of his forelegs far forward and then bends his chest down to the ground. He loves to do this on his own. He sometimes does this when I show up at the barn in the morning to feed as a feel-good-wakeup-stretch and each time he has done it I have given him big praise and a bonus treat.

I’ve been doing this for 8 weeks and probably have only caught him about 5 times. I am waiting to see how long it takes him to figure out that if he does this behavior on his own he gets a treat. I’ll know when he figures this out because he will start offering this behavior outside of his regular time and will do it more often.

It’s an interesting time-test on shaping vs.rewarding spontaneous behavior. What is particularly interesting to me is a comment I read that training in this way will stick with the horse longer (because he has to use his on intellect to figure it out) and you often see more motivation from the horse because it is a horse-offered activity. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.


Posted in Clicker Training, Dante

Hay off for testing, supplement changes

I’ve sent off the hay for massive testing which includes ration balancing, selenium and starch analysis . This is hay baled on the same property where he has his own paddock/pasture so unlike when I’ve done this in the past where I was dealing with multiple hay suppliers, this one test should be pretty much conclusive as to what Dante and the two ponies get on a regular basis.

Once this gets back I’ll know if and how much Selenium I’ll have to supplement. My area of the country is on the edge of having enough Selenium and since over supplementing Selenium can lead to illness, even death, I don’t want to throw it in the food until I know exactly how much he truly needs (if any).

Current Feed and Supplements:

1.) 2# of Grostrong 13

2.) 4# of Beet Pulp shreds without Molasses – these need to be soaked. I’m very lucky that Dante loves his Beet Pulp unlike other horse (and the ponies) who turn up their noses.

3.) Flax Seed (Omega Horseshine) – One cup. Added to diet 9.4.

4.) Glucosamine (Lubrun) – this was given as a double, loading dose for 10 days. Four days in is when Dante damaged the ligaments at his stifle. I kept him on this product but I am wondering if this made him feel good and he got into trouble.

Right now due to the stifle injury it’s unsure if this is having any impact. This is one of the most expensive supplements that I buy so I’ll just have to see if I see the benefit from it. Added to diet 11.28.

5.) ALCAR or Acetyl L Carnitine  – 1 gram for 100 pounds of body weight (this is about 1 Tablespoon with the brand I am using). Weigh it to know the true measurement, don’t trust the bag label. I’ve settled on buying it from Powder City as they add a silica packet in the bag which helps it stay not sticky. Added to diet 7.25.

6.) Salt, 2 ounce (4 Tbsp) – this is loose salt. This is table salt bought from the grocery store; just be sure to get the Iodine type. Added to diet 7.17.

7.)  Ocean K, 5 g daily – Dr. Kellon recommended this to increase iodine to support the thyroid. The good news is this supplement purchase goes a long way. Added to diet 11.28.

8.) Vitamin E, liquid – 10,000 IUs, (4 teaspoons) in winter. The liquid property improves absorption. This is one of the most expensive supplements I buy. Added to diet 8.15.

9.) Zinc and Copper (California Trace) – 500 mg of Zinc; 175 of Copper. 2 scoops, scoop provided in product bag. My area is high on iron so when I get my hay test back I’ll know if I need to increase this. Why? Because Iron binds Zinc and Copper so you have to add more to compensate for the amount lost. Added to diet 6.28.

10.) Magnesium (Oxide by Uckele) – 5-10 grams; little less then 1 Tablespoon (approximately 8 grams). The good news is I’m still working on the bag I bought back in July; this stuff goes a long way. Added to diet 7.16.

11.) L-Glutamine – 1-2 grams per 100 lbs. Added due to his stiff, tight and sore muscles. Added 12.14.

Posted in Dante, hay & feed, PSSM, supplements

Time in suspension

Dante came up lame on the back right hind so I’m giving him time off. We are only doing some simple things like working on the head down cue and targeting. Meanwhile, I’m taking him out for walks on the property (slow ones where he grazes more then he walks) just to bond with him and that seems to be working as he looks a little lost and sad when I leave.

Right now I’m being reminded of how I don’t want to get involved with the horse community. I don’t want to know trainers and their personalities or their little tiffs with each other on the global/national front. While I enjoy seeing some Instagram accounts, I need to take a step back from being involved in a gossipy level.

My twice a week feeder quit today. I had the feeling she was unhappy or something for weeks as she was rather abrupt and rude. I know I’ll let it go but for today I want to write that I continue to be fed up with people in person too. I don’t have a problem with her quitting but she acted sly about it and yes, that I do have a problem with.

We are waiting for my husband’s December work bonus that happens mid month and holiday shopping is waiting for that money. Meanwhile, we got the green light to start the process of refinancing the house to a lower monthly rate and that too is stressful.

I’ll be glad to go out today and just be with my horse and avoid people AND drama!

Posted in Dante