Monday, December 6, 2010

You Know The Old Saying...

Either shee-ite or get off the pot?

Well, that's kind of where I am at. Bear with me.

Sue Smith's clinic this weekend was awesome. She is a fantastic horsewoman, has a wealth of knowledge and is clear, concise and direct in her instruction. But, she is super nice!

The first morning was spent discussing the ever important care aspects of 'the competitive horse'. While there are similar aspects, 'going down the road' is a whole 'nother beast than loading up and heading to your local events. When you start hauling over a hundred miles to an event and/or plan on being on the road for multiple events, the smallest of details start to make a difference as to how well your horse holds up.

Things like adding double mats in the trailer, doubling the depth of bedding and adding easy boots and wrapping legs can be the difference between pulling in and having a comfortable, reasonably rested horse vs. one who is sore or tired from riding in the trailer.

Feeds and feeding were discussed-While Sue was not trying to 'sell' anything, she uses what she uses because it works and she noticed differences in her horses whether they were on certain products or not. According to her, it's not so much the brand of feed you use as the type and quantity. Competitive barrel horses need a lower sugar/carbohydrate mix (as do most horses, except race horses) and a much higher fat content. And about twice as much feed as even I realized. While I am not going to be totally changing my feeding regime, I definitely found out that I need to get Moon on a lot more of the 'right' kind of grain than what he has been on.

Apparently ulcers are a huge concern. The aspects of hauling can bring those on as much as the nervousness repeated competition causes. Sue treats her horses with UlcerGuard just before leaving and while on the road, as well as feeds a supplement (Pink somethingorother-I'll have to look that up) that helps to coat the entire stomach. Also, keeping hay in front of a horse, so they can constantly nibble and keep something in their stomachs is important. I was pleased to find out that she is perfectly okay with horses being provided a hay bag right up to competition. Unless of course your horse is a hog. You don't want your horse to gorge himself before competition, but having a hungry horse usually means you have a crabby or less focused horse. I have always kept hay in front of my horses, particularly Moon, as he is always hungry.

Appropriate warm-ups depending on your horse. Again, pleased to find out that tons of warming up is not necessary, because I don't. If your horse is working properly and has had a chance to get some blood going to his's just fine to take them back to the trailer (or go stand in a corner) until just before your run. About all they need right before a run is a nice stretching walk and maybe a bit of long-trotting to get the blood flowing again. Watching people lope and lope and lope...and lope their barrel horses before a run has always driven me crazy. If your horse is having a bad day and needs it...fine. But if they are working properly, tuned in and warmed up...Why would you work them to death before making a competition run? Besides...all of that sloshing in their guts, combined with probably little feed and a lot of nerves is a good way to get ulcers started!

Shoeing-Sue does the majority of her own shoeing. She is adamant that the hoof needs to be under the horse's leg, have the proper break-over and heel length. A barrel horse's front shoes need to have the heels a little tight (as minimal hang-over as possible), without causing contracted heels. This minimizes the possibility of a horse stepping on his shoe and ripping it off in competition. She likes to see some hang-over in the rear leg heels because she feels that it protects a horse's heel bulbs from burning and bruising. She uses these amazingly light (can't even feel them in your hand) aluminum Queen's Plate No-Vibe shoes. You can also get the No-Vibe in a metal shoe, which is more practical for people who don't run a lot and ride outside a lot. Now here's the kicker people...Competitive horses need to be re-shod at the most...every FOUR weeks. Re-setting the shoe every 2-3 weeks is more appropriate. That's how much difference even a little bit of growth can affect a run. When you are talking hundreths or even thousands of a second that determine earning a check or not....It's all about the details!

Speaking of details...Sue passed around several different types of shoeing nails that she uses depending on the ground she has to run in. Yea...The woman rides the ground and determines if she needs to add different nails! Then she proceeded to show us all how to re-set a shoe that has been pulled off or come loose and how to add different nails if necessary.

More to come...


Ms Martyr said...

The pink stuff that coats the stomach sounds like Pepto Bismol.
Interesting clinic. Looking forward to reading more.

Shirley said...

Just curious, do any barrel racers run their horses barefoot?

Mikey said...

Wow! Awesome clinic! I agree with the warm up stuff. I hate to see these girls run their horses until they're sweaty. Not necessary! (try explaining that to Mercy, GAH!)
I'd like to know also if anyone runs barefoot, but I can't see a competitive racer running that way, not enough traction and too easy to slip. Interesting about the nails. That's a woman who pays close attention to detail.
Can't wait to read more!

One Bad Pixie said...

In every form of competition there are those who feel they just have to win the warm up. *massive eyeroll*

You go a long ways in impressing people and gaining potential clients when you win, then you do, making laps, wearing your horse down and trying to show off.

Seen one of these at the driving show last month. He was wearing spurs! I guess his carriage was expected to buck?

Word verif- dowzooti

Doesn't that sound like something fun?

Crystal said...

wow, she sounds amazing, I love people who are not afraid to give you all the secrets! Cant wait to hear more.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Yes-there are Pro barrel racers who run barefoot. In fact, there was at least one at the NFR last year. Can't remember which one it was though.

It really is a growing movement, particularly in the futurity/NBHA circuits. The ground is so controlled at those runs that aren't nearly as much of a factor.

Rodeoing is different because there is less control over the weather/# of times the ground is groomed.

I've had Moon barefoot for the last 4 years now and never had a problem-riding or running. I will continue to keep him barefoot until I think it is absolutely necessary to shoe him.

There was a time when I thought you NEEDED shoes on a horse to run barrels on him. These days I don't think that at all. It all depends on your circumstances, your horse, knowing what type of shoes to use and the quality of your farrier.

Chelsi said...

Wow sounds like an AWESOME clinic!! I can see how important those little details would be when (as you said) the difference between winning money or not is that slim of a margin. I read a really good article a while back on ulcers, will try to find it. Thanks for sharing:)

cdncowgirl said...

Sounds like a helluva clinic!! Ed had pretty much the same stuff to say on feed. And hauling? If you're really at the competitive level he suggests air rides on the trailer and truck to make it as smooth as possible on the horses.
Looking forward to hearing more :)

City girl turned Country Girl said...

WOW a whole gorge of information!! I SO wish I could have been there! That is a lot of great information! I cannot wait for the rest!!

Laura said...

sounds like a lot of great information. I wish more people knew that you didn't have to run your horse into the ground to warm him up... The long distance trailering tips are great - makes a lot of sense.

Unknown said...

All great advice - and she's not kidding the smallest things can give you an edge. When i was showing alot and getting to the point where I was trying for national awards we made the similar changes in our hauling and stabling routines. We even brought stall mats with us cause it just got to the point with some of the facilities that you couldn't put enough shavings in the stalls.

Same goes for taking care of you though. If you don't take care of you then it won't matter how well you prepare you horse for miles....

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Stephanie...A good case for using double mats in the trailer. Then you always have extra mats you can pull out to put in the stalls.

And that is very true about caring for yourself. I suspect that getting enough rest and eating properly is always a struggle for people going down the road.