Sending the hay off for testing

I’m sending off the hay for massive testing including ration balancing, selenium and starch analysis . This is hay baled on the same property where he has his own paddock/pasture.

Once this gets back I’ll know if and how much Selenium I’ll have to supplement. Because of this article on PSSM, I am thinking of adding L – Glutamine (1 gram for 100 lbs) especially because it seems Dante’s tight muscles is the reason for the locking patella (stifle).

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. 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. Added to diet 7.17.

7.)  Ocean K, 5 g daily – Dr. Kellon recommended this to increase iodine to support the thyroid. Added to diet 11.28.

8.) Vitamin E, liquid – 10,000 IUs, (4 teaspoons) in winter. 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 I might be increasing this once I have hay tested. Added to diet 6.28.

10.) Magnesium (Oxide by Uckele) – 5-10 grams; little less then 1 Tablespoon (approximately 8 grams). Added to diet 7.16.

Posted in Dante, hay & feed, PSSM

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

Leave ’em wanting more

One of the changes I’ve made with my training routine with Dante is using the concept of leaving him wanting more – not training to the brink of his endurance and mine, but backing off considerably on the time length of our sessions. this allows work to be more intense without tiring either the trainer or the horse, and also helps the horse understand specifically what you are looking for (as a release from work is a huge marker!).

This is a training concept I’ve been seeing consistently discussed with those that do the highest work at liberty as a way to keep the horse engaged, happy and willing. If you are interested in learning more about these concepts, I highly recommend the book Gallop to Freedom which here is a condensed chapter of the Six Golden Principles online.


Let me tell you about a scenario that I see play out many, many times at lessons and at horse shows. A rider is working on jumps. They are waiting for their turn to be called but meanwhile they are jumping… jumping … jumping… and yes, more jumping, until finally the horse starts to refuse. Then they go in the ring and the horse refuses big time.

This is a horse who has had ENOUGH! and has acted out to show the rider that jumping for 30 minutes and then expecting a peak performance is not going to happen. These are horses that also become disengaged from people – they give up – and emotionally become withdrawn from their work and humans.

On the other hand, this approach of wanting more is about showing the horse that your time with me is great! When I show up we will do some interesting things and you will leave your session as rested as you came into it. The horse will be looking to do more, but instead you are like, no that’s fine – you did great! which makes your horse more eager to be with you as he feels successful and respected by the end of the day.


So how does this work in reality? Saturday the wind was pretty fierce so I wasn’t sure if I would work Dante or not but I did go for it. As I mentioned before we are now doing more changes in between our work so I started with what he is least motivated about – standing at the mounting block.

Instead of working on the mounting block for 10 minutes, after he gave me two good stands, I rewarded and then we moved on immediately to the groundwork of walking and trotting, looking for his head down and low, with slight bend of the nose to the inside (still working on this), and concentrating on learning the half halt signal. A slight shake of the lunge line which is connected to the cavesson is a request for him to re-balance and shift his weight backwards while maintaining the gait.

He gave me two really good half halts and I immediately stopped, praised him and released him from work. The whole session was less then 30 minutes for sure.

Sunday, we again approached a short work session, and I noticed (maybe due to the increase of Alcar but too soon too tell) that he was more willing to take the trot. The trot impulsion was slightly better (but the overstep was about the same :() so he got plenty of praise for that and when he gave me a head down at trot (for the FIRST TIME!), I immediately praised and released him from work.

A few times last week after a short session like above, or when we did not work, we went out for a walk in the next door pasture along the tree line. Again, trying to give him more down time, not focusing on goals, so he can realize that being with me can be fun.

Using this concept (“leave ’em wanting more!”) I’ve noticed that the lessons seem to stick better with him. He is really associating “I did THIS” and that is WHAT SHE WANTED and I GOT REWARDS FOR IT, all translating to a I’M A GENIUS HORSE! attitude (you can really see that he is a bit smug after getting praised for things he has connected – such as the shoulder in).

Posted in Cavalia, Learning w/ Play & Curiosity, Pyschology and Behavior, Training

Dante’s winter training schedule

Knowing that Dante is PSSM1 has actually made me feel free of the worry about when we will get to riding. I now know there is a physical issue for him and it makes me more understanding that our time frame will be slower until matters improve for him.

I feel more relaxed and joy when being with him – I’ve let go of our schedule and I’m spending more chill time with him without the pushing for progress. This new perspective of our partnership has really released the pressure and has made me feel so much better about spending time with him.

Of course there are still goals to work towards, but I’m letting Dante set the pace on how quickly we proceed on getting it done.


Throughout the winter we will concentrate on the same things. The good news is he is getting better at lunging all the time although still unhappy about trotting. He will do it; it’s clear he isn’t excited about it. Hopefully, a few changes to his feeding schedule will help with this.

  • mounting block – until he chooses to stand quietly and willingly at the mounting block, we won’t proceed with riding. This is allowing him the choice of when we continue in this direction.
  • the Down cue. He knows it but I’m still trying to get him to respond to the voice cue and to keep the duration. Why? Because while he’ll keep his head low at walk, he brings it up at trot on the lunge.
  • in groundwork and lunging, I’m looking for a more active walk as he has a tendency to be a bit lazy on the hindquarters due to PSSM.
  • focusing on better form, as I feel we are getting heavy on the forehand when stretching to long and low and not keeping the weight back.
  • teaching the cue for a half halt from the ground with a little shake on the lungeline.
  • teaching him to move away from a tap with a whip at the hindquarters in preparation for teaching the travers (hindquarters in).
  • shoulder in has really improved but he is far better going clockwise then counter clockwise. Looking for this to become more fluid before we move on with it at trot.
  • teaching the beginning of haunches in. This will be really difficult for him athletically so we will take a long time to get there.
  • Once I get my new reins (which are longer) bought, I’ll be doing the above as in-hand work – with a bit. During this work I’ll be able to fine tune him stepping under his point of weight and reaching down into the bridle.

Food and Supplements:

Recently I contacted Dr. Kellon at Uckele to tweak his supplements after I got confirmation of his PSSM 1: I’ll be upping his ALCAR as that won’t cause him any harm and he seems to do better when it is a little higher, maybe 20 g (by weight).

I will also be adding in Ocean K to up the iodine he is getting with his table salt. The biggest change though is adding a joint supplement. He continues to get Vitamin E (in oil), Magnesium, and the proper mix of Copper and Zinc.

I’ll be sending off his hay, which is farmed on the property he boards, for testing to make sure I’m completely on track.

Posted in Art2Ride, Dante, PSSM, Straightness Training, supplements, Training

Horse Hack: Shortening Lunge Lines


I bought this lungeline from Jeffers and I really like it! It is has a soft feel in the hand which is really nice. It’s rather hard to describe but definitely I like it better then the other flat lines or coiled ropes I’ve had in the past.

The purple one is 26 feet long which is rather long for the type of work I do on a regular basis but sometimes you just need something that long. The problem  is when I work closer to the horse that length starts becoming an issue to manage without tripping over it or dragging it on the ground so the horse gets tangled etc… I’m sure you know what I mean. You look and feel like a dangerous fool with that much line when you are doing groundwork within 8 feet of the horse!

The solution? I bought a second one of the same type but in lime green. The green one I cut to 14 feet long and using my sewing machine I just sewed down the end so it wouldn’t unravel.

It’s been great! The length is just what I need and having this shorter line attached to my cavesson, I’ve noticed I have better control over bringing Dante’s nose into the circle a little for better bend.

They come in some fun colors so if you wanted different sizes, it would be easy to do what I did and know immediately when leaving the tack room what length you wanted to work with today by just grabbing your favorite color of the day  :)

Posted in equipment, tack