Monday, March 19, 2012

Nutriton and errata

So way back at the end of January, I meant to buy some beet pulp and force my horse to learn to eat the stuff, but I was busy fixing the kitchen and I forgot until "too late." It takes horses a while to develop the right gut flora to properly digest beet pulp (and sometimes, the taste buds to appreciate it), so it's not something I wanted to start feeding a couple weeks before a big ride. Toward the end of February, I remembered, but it was too late!

I've offered her BP a couple times before - when I first got her, and again when we first moved to Nevada, and both times she was like "ugh this sucks" whether I gave it to her soaked or dry. (Please go read this whole article before you tell me that dry beet pulp causes choke/dehydration/stomach explosions.) But she's an endurance horse now, and she's learned to eat wet hay and wet mashes and by god she can learn to eat wet BP!

Yesterday, the titanic struggle began. I offered her the usual one pound of LMF ration balancer, Vitamin E, and salt, with about a cup of BP and a splash of water. She was mad. I tossed in some carrots too. She was mad and stomped and pawed and glared at me and ate about 3/4 of her meal.

Today, I gave her the exact same thing as yesterday. After I threw her hay and fed the chickens, I went and checked and she'd eaten every single molecule in her bucket and licked it clean. Well. That was easy.

I've been thinking about two other nutriton topics, too: calcium and fat.

Distance horses use a lot of calcium (you run the risk of thumps or tying-up if the horse doesn't have enough calcium available), but paradoxically, if you feed a lot of calcium in the diet on a regular basis, the levels of blood calcium drop and the horse is at a greater risk of tie-up. The ideal is to feed a pound of alfalfa a day, but not "a couple flakes." The problem for me is that I can't even feed a pound of alfalfa a day, but I would like to supplement calcium just a tiny bit.

Fat is also important. Mel has a good post about the nutrition/fat talk at the convention. I can do a one-paragraph summary of alfalfa, but I'm having a hard time summarizing fat metabolism without misrepresenting it. Let's just skip the why and assume that distance riders should be feeding fat before a ride, then omitting it on ride day. Like BP, it takes a while for the horse to be able to properly utilize the feed, so you gradually ramp it up over a couple of months.

Endurance riders who feed fat (and not everyone does) often use rice bran OR liquid oil (vegetable oil, corn oil, peanut oil, etc.) top-dressed on soaked beet pulp. The problem with feeding rice bran is that the calcium/phosphorus ratio is naturally extremely inverted - so rice bran pellet manufacturers "fix" that by heavily supplementing calcium to bring the ratio back. But the pellets have a high % of calcium then.

Maybe that's what I need? I'd like the alfalfa benefits (increased calcium plasma concentrations) without the drawbacks (high protein, miserably itchy sunburn-y horse). If I start feeding pelleted rice bran, working up to maybe a pound a day, I'll get some of the fat-burning metabolic benefits, and some of the calcium benefits.

So I made a scrapbook of sorts for Dixie. It's a scrapbook only in the technical sense of the term - a purple binder, with photos glued in it - but there's no glitter or doo-dads. Here, look:

Anyway, I went back through my blog and got all the distances, times, finishes, etc., and I realized I actually do top-ten LD's, all the time. The 6th place at Rides of March was just surprising because I actually got an award. Rides don't usually give out top-ten prizes for LDs. So I guess it's "Squee I won a thing!" rather than "Squee I top-tenned!" I'm still squee about it.

And it's not like we're very fast on LDs, it's just that not many people deliberately/exclusively ride LDs out here. Some regions have hard-core LD racers, and tons of people entered in the LD, but not so much in Nevada.

My running muscles are very very sore, but my riding muscles and my joints are A-ok today. I gotta get my shit together and as soon as I get un-sore, go out and slowly jog like a half a mile or something and get MYSELF fitted up to run a bit and help Dixie. My dad was like "you have a perfectly good horse, why the hell did you get off it and run down a hill?!" and the answer is that it's almost more comfortable for me to run down hill than to ride down hill, PLUS my horse noticeably recovers better if she's only hauling herself along.

My warranty-replacement Kindle is on the way and should be here Wednesday and not a moment too soon. I had a physical book laying around, and I've read most of it, and while I'm enjoying the story I am just outdone with the method of delivery. It's so awkward to hold a paperback open! And if I just let it shut it doesn't automatically open to the page I was on! I feel like a savage 20th century human. I got the oil changed in the truck today and I had to read (gasp!) a women's magazine in the waiting room and that suuuucked. Trendy kitchens are all ugly and bleak and modernist. Yuck.


  1. Oh that's where we differ Funder, I like kindle (actually I have the kindle app on my ipad) and they do come in handy but a REAL book is always preferable to me.

    1. The muscles in my little fingers that hold the book open have atrophied or something.

      I really liked what I read, and I'm going to get the KINDLE versions of the rest of the series... ;)

  2. You. Make. Me. Laugh.

    That's all.

    (congrats on "getting a thing" when you top-ten. Rides in our region always give a "thing" for top-ten in LD and endurance, even if it's just a hoofpick)

    1. Ma'am. With all due respect. My fine prize is not just a hoofpick. It's a PURPLE hoofpick, with a MAGNET so it sticks to the trailer door, and it's pointy, and it says RIDES OF MARCH on it. It is a superior hoofpick!

  3. Oh goodie...I love talking nutrition. To make you feel a bit better about transitioning to some BP...BP is a weird food that is high in energy (like a cereal grain) and high in fiber (like a roughage). The high fiber content makes it easier for the hind gut to digest and while it always takes a few weeks for the gut to adapt to dietary's one of the easiest for the digestive system to adapt to.

    Barrel horse nutrition is much like Endurance horse nutrition. Extra calcium is necessary, but too much leads to joint problems. To aid the system, additional Magnesium both helps the body utilize Calcium and aids in balancing the insulin levels. Energy from fat is much more balanced than from the sugars and starches associated with cereal grains. But you have to keep in mind the Omega Factor. Omega 3's are the most beneficial fats, especially if you are not necessarily going for weight gain. Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory and aid in digestion. Flaxseed supplements or oils are the best. Omega 6's are inflammatory...which is why it's best to steer clear of fats/oils that are high in Omega 6's only, like Corn oil in particular. Even vegetable oil and straight rice bran is on the high end, as ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is about 1/10 and the ideal ratio is 1/4.

    I had not heard of issues with the use of calcium/phosphorous balancers with Rice bran. However...I have been feeding strictly grass hay all this time, so my horses probably utilize all the calcium they get. I tried alfalfa on Moon, for the ulcer issue and quickly remembered why I wasn't feeding him that all along...It affects his respiratory. Had to take him totally off the alfalfa and have switched him to a a high-fiber, low starch feed as well as a high-fat, low starch supplement.

    Oh and you crack me up...reading an actual book is uncomfortable? LOL

    1. One high-mileage rider I read (Karen Chaton) actually feeds fish oil! It's got an even better O3:O6 ratio than flaxseed. I take fish oil, and I feed it to Cersei, and I keep thinking about maybe tossing a couple pills in Dixie's bucket... I didn't know that rice bran was high in O6, thanks.

      So glad to hear that I'm not the only one who cannot feed alfalfa. I feel like my horse is such a freak - lots of horses out here eat straight alfalfa. But she can't do it, period, full stop.

  4. If I have a couple brain adjustments ridden into Rose before a ride she can have alfalfa mixed in with grass hay. If she doesn't get ridden enough before a ride I have a four legged banshee rocket underneath me and I ride praying for no sharp turns in mud. I'm still working through a good ride day feed for her as she is currently getting Strategy Healthy Edge with a little sweet mixed in (though this may be finally the month I wean her off it!) with beet pulp mixed in starting two weeks out before a big ride and a vitamin. I can't say I'm a feeding expert but she seems a lot calmer on Strategy and we keep a good variety of timothy, orchard, and alfalfa for her to pick through during rides. I'm a little worried about fat content still though and mostly working on keeping a low starch race day feed that she'll actually eat during the ride. *sigh*

  5. "I'm still squee about it. "

    Greatest quote ever.

  6. Huh. I did not know some of the nutrition stuff. thanks for posting it!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  7. " I'm still squee about it" - LOL! You deserve to still be squee about it!

    Remember you can always PM Jason with any nutrition questions you have. However it does sound like rice bran might be a logical solution for you and Dixie.

  8. I'm so with you on the Kindle. I could do without my computer (sniff sniff) before my Kindle.

  9. It's a "learn to like it" thing with beet pulp. Khari gets her's twice a week with her bran mash - she will clean up pans of it before a ride!


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