Sunday, March 6, 2011

Keeping Them Going

There comes a time in the normal course of conditioning/training/competing that extra steps need to be taken to ensure the comfort and continued ability for the horse to work becomes just as much of a priority as everything else.

One thing I am coming to learn is that top-notch barrel racers spend as much time, if not more on the after-riding/after-hauling/after-competing care of their horses as they do anything else.

Things are way different in the rodeo barrel racing world than they are the local NBHA barrel racing world and I suspect that there are also differences in the futurity/derby world.

Competing locally means I don't ever have to haul a horse more than 2 hours away...and any horse that is in reasonable shape should handle that like it's a walk in the park. Considering how many miles every single one of my horses has been hauled around the country, anything under a couple of hours and they pop out and are like, 'What? Did we even leave the yard?' So at this point, I am not really worried about trailering fatigue.

I am at the point in some of the horse's conditioning program, where it is time to step it up a notch and it is time to start paying attention to the smaller details.

I've been doing a lot of reading and research on appropriate 'after-riding' care. I am and have always been a big fan of hydrotherapy. When it warms up sufficiently, I almost always rinse my horses off after a workout and spend some time running water over their legs. It feels good to get all the sweat off and does wonders for taking the heat out of muscles, tendons, etc, etc.

Most of the time, I think that is enough. Occasionally, I'll rub someone down with liniment. But, ya know, I've just never gone overboard with the wrapping of the legs or magnetic blankets or any of the fancy stuff. Not because I don't believe in it, just because I've never felt I have worked or hauled or competed on horses (in the last decade or so) hard enough to require all of the extra frills.

But, I'm kind of changing that attitude, along with a lot of other things I find myself changing my mind about. This year, I do want to be more serious about competition and have several horses that need to get out there and get something done on them. It isn't going to kill me to start practicing the art of high-caliber maintenance NOW vs. later, when I might actually need to know this stuff.

As per my personality dictates...I prefer to have an arsenal of information vs. a tidbit. So when Sue Smith mentioned last fall that she always gives her horses a thorough going over after their workout, I paid attention. Sue has experience working on race-tracks and someone who knows the ins and outs of how those horses are taken care of is worth listening to.

I never ever thought about this aspect...some liniment products are for warming up and some are for cooling down. Really? All this time, I thought you just rubbed some Absorbine on and called it good. I'm only kidding a little bit. I really didn't realize there was that much difference in the type of liniment product. But I am getting all knowed up now.

Now that I'm hitting a level of condition with a couple of the horses that dictates I can start upping their workouts to include more intricate or harder workouts, I have been taking a little extra time to give everyone at least a reasonable rubdown, semi-massage after their workouts. I think it's warm enough that I clip, at least the really long hair off of everyone's legs, so it's easier for the cooling liniment that I am using gets down to the skin.

Right now, I'm simply using Vetrolin Liniment for daily rubdowns after everyone's workouts...
It's done wonders to help combat Frosty's sore back. I can't really tell if it is helping any of the other horses. I have been massaging Moon's stifles and neck, Turk's shoulders and loin and Spooks' hips.

My horses were a little weirded out by the massages at first. Moon's had them before, but he's not particularly fond of a lot of a lot of attention. His theory is, 'Feed me, brush me, ride me if you must, but other than that, leave me the hell alone...No wait...Feed me again, then leave me the hell alone.'

Frosty, Turk and Spooks were like, 'What the hell are you doing?'.

I like the Vetrolin, but I have been looking at other products...chosen specifically to maybe take a bit of the work out of what I'm trying to accomplish. I still think massages are a great way to get in there and loosen up knots and stiffness in the muscles, but hopefully, I won't have to do them on every horse every day.

I have heard good things about the Sore-No-More products. Sue Smith says she uses them (as do several other top-barrel racers), so I thought I would give the liniment a shot...
From what I understand, this liniment is a good one to use before or after exercise. A little rubbed on prior to riding helps to loosen stiff muscles. I'm still a little unsure about using a liniment under the saddle pad prior to riding, but I might try it on Frosty to see if it helps loosen him up so he doesn't get so sore. Maybe it will help sweat out those fat pads behind his withers?

I have always wondered about the mud poultices...
Again, this is something Sue uses and says she thinks it helps, although she did say she's sure that the required hydrotherapy to wash them off probably assists with taking the heat out of the muscles and legs. The thing is, I can slather this on one horse and leave him stand while I am riding another. The poultice can do it's thing and when I'm ready, I can wash it off.

I am curious to try this, The Cool Pack Green Jelly...
It's to draw the heat out of legs and muscles also, but it sounds like a little stronger agent than the mud poultice. Might be worthwhile to have on hand.

And then there is this, The IceTight...
Now that sounds like draws the heat out like right now, especially if there is a possible injury.

So tell me...Have any of you guys used any of this stuff or other products, besides Absorbine that is?

How about magnets? I kind of believe in that stuff, but haven't met anyone yet that says they have seen a reasonable improvement in their horse because they do use the magnets. I'd like to get at least one magnet sheet to try. They have become reasonably priced, but is it worth it?


Reluctant Cowboy said...

Just stopped by. Since we Omoksee and run 6 to 8 events in a day we do what we were taught by a lady who ran a race barn in the tri-city, wa. area. Legging up 15 to 20 minutes a day long trotting. When running 15 minute warm up, 10 minute walking them out after a run and at the end of the day 50/50 absorb/alcohol rub on the legs and then wrapped for 12 hours. In twenty years we have had good luck with this system. Like the green jelly but leaves a light crust that we would wash off.

Oh on a side note Ed Wright been there done that wouldn't do it again.

Hope you have a good season

Funder said...

Endurance riders love Sore-no-more and Ice-tight. They also really like those velcro boots with flexible ice inserts. I personally haven't done anything more advanced than hosing the legs off, but maybe this year I will :-/

Sherry Sikstrom said...

I am kind of like tyou have been , "if it ain't broke" that said , performance horse burn out might be less likely if you do more preventative maintenance, after all if every time they work , they feel realy good after , as opposed to tight stiff muscles , it stands to reason they would be more willing and fresh for the task

Rising Rainbow said...

I use the Vetrolin and Ice Tight. I also have some wraps with crystals in them that soak in a bucket for twenty minutes before use. Then they just velcro on. I use them instead of cold hosing because I can just strap them on and use my time to do something else. But I don't use any of these things on a regular basis. They are more for times I think a work out has been particularly difficult or I see unusual fatigue in my horse.

My horses spend so much time in the trailer, I don't worry about short hauls either but I always wrap legs for longer hauls and I like to use these products after such hauls. I think they recover much quicker from trailer fatigue with such asssistance.

Danielle Michelle said...

When I worked on the Arabian circuit (yes, I was once part of that) those ponies were SERIOUSLY pampered. We used mud and clay wraps only for those horse that had leg problems (such as nevicular). Plus it's way expensive, messy and I think the hosing off did most of the work anyway. Unless you know you have leg or hoof problems and are working those horses through it anyway, I didn't feel it was worth the cost.

The cool pack green jelly is neat. I've actually used it on myself. Think - icy hot. It's pretty much the same thing as any other liniment used for cooling, but it's in gel form, so less spill, slower evaporation and basically less waste. I like it a lot. There are other companies that sell basically the same thing under different names.

I've heard good things about sore-no-more also. If you use it let us know!

As with anything, research the product for the non-brand names that are sold through vet catelogs and whatnot. I've saved tons of money this way.

cdncowgirl said...

If you go to an Ed W clinic ask him about magnets... wow did he have some pics to share!
IMO magnets can be good or bad, depends on the situation.

I bring a spray bottle of Absorbine/water with me when I haul. That way when I cool out I can spray my ponies down with it. I also use a liniment on their legs and any spots that seem sore, its all natural but I can't quite remember the name of it.
I'll message you with the name when I go out to feed later.

Anonymous said...

I use Vetrolin in water as a body wash after working. I use Sore No More only if there is a problem. Poultices are sooo messy and I agree a lot of the benefit comes from washing it off! The Green Jelly is one of my go-to staples for a hot injury or weary legs, but you have to be careful to clean the legs really well first. They aren't joking about that - no traces of liniment, shampoo, fly spray, etc.!

I'm on the fence about magnets. I know I tried them on myself with absolutely no improvement, for what that's worth. But I've heard some convincing testimonials, too.

Paint Girl said...

We use Vetrolin at work after every work out, I have since started using it on my own horses, plus I have wanted to take a Vetrolin bath myself!
We use poultices at horse shows, but only on horses that are getting sore, or if the ground is really hard, like at Scottsdale. Poulticing is messy, but it seems to work.
We also use ice boots, and we have a Game Ready machine that we use all the time.
I have also heard that Sore-No-More works, but have never tried it. Will have to get some someday and give it a try!

joycemocha said...

Bigeloil here. I use it after a stiff workout on Mocha's upper legs. She seems to like it and relaxes her sore left hind when I put it on...and I've had many fewer issues with winter sorenesses and a lot more eager to work horse since I started using it!

cdncowgirl said...

@Reluctant Cowboy - just curious, why did you say you wouldn't go to Ed again?

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Joyce-I have heard Bigeloil is good. I'll add that to my list of things to try.

Skip-I'm also curious about what happened at your EW clinic?

Anon-Does the leg blister or something if it's not clean when using the Green Jelly?

I wouldn't mind taking a Vetrolin bath myself sometimes Paint Girl. I love it's refreshing smell and my hands sure aren't as stiff after using it on the horses.

I never thought about the mess factor with the mud poultices...LOL...I don't mind playing in the mud though.

ACountryCowgirl said...

you always give me lots to think about:) Hope all is well, been a while. I know like a whole week:) hee hee!!! I am going to have to come visit and bring the fridge. Have a great week, looks like we are in for some nice weather.

Reluctant Cowboy said...

I will try and answer without being liable.
To me:
Any clinician that started out as a ruffy already has a strike against them. The wifes' joke is "anything around here with that much testosterone gets gelded".
and yes I have been to both EW and PP clinics.

Running barrels is a hard sport and horses can get hurt even at a clinic. It was devistating to have to try and explain to my daughter a freshman in highschool that her barrel horse tore his tendon sheath in the knee. Good for light riding but competition was out for him. I asked the vet what happened since he was at the clinic and had taped it. He said it was the third hard stop on the front legs that did it. My daughter was not on the horse at the time. and yes he didn't have perfect straight front legs but had never had an issue before this.

I loose all respect for a clinician who gets into a negative verbal banter with a person in the grandstands.

Everything else is second hand so I won't go there.

Others experiences people have had may be different but he is not for me; so he must have had an off day around me.


Cut-N-Jump said...

The Vetrolin is good since you can use it straight or diluted depending on the need. It DOES feel good in your own bath too!

Green Gel any different than Mineral Ice? Because MI is a gel type goop and ices things down quite nicely. I wrapped with a wet washcloth for added effect on my gelding when nothing else seemed to work. Careful though as too much for too long can cause a chemical burn on the skin. Wrapped 12 on, 12 off.

Therma Care? Not a fan. Used it straight on my mares legs once. Burned like hell on my hand even after washing it off or trying to.

Otherwise I walk them out as part of the end of the workout. Hosing them off with a stiff spray, then rubbing them down to dry off- usually hits just about every spot that could be sore. Stretching before and after a workout just like human athletes is a good way to maintain flexibility and looseness.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Skip-That is a shame that your daughter's horse got hurt. Probably felt worse because she was not the one riding him at the time.

It seems with Ed that you either love him or hate him. I know a couple of local barrel racers that absolutely hate him. One left his clinic on the first day in tears. So I know he is not for the faint at heart. I also know other girls who absolutely love him and he has helped them a bunch.

I'm inclined to be of the latter bunch. Ed can yell at me all he wants...I respect his experience and his knowledge.

Anonymous said...

The Green Jelly will carry anything on the skin/hair right through the skin and into the tissues, causing irritation, soreness, swelling, hair loss, and even blistering. I just wash with lots and lots of running water and hand rubbing first.

I meant to write before that I like the Sore No More poultice best and use it to pack hooves too.

One of my favorite resouses is the book Backyard Racehorse by Janet Castillo. Lots of sound info on care and conditioning.

BTW, we do hunter/jumper and games (barrels, poles, etc.) at breed shows, so our horses' bodies get tested pretty hard.

Anonymous said...

Um, my bad, that would be by Janet Del Castillo and Lois Schwartz.

Also, in my area no one carries the poultice or the Green Jelly. Cheapest shipping by far is from Smartpak.

cdncowgirl said...

Maybe Ed was having an off day? I didn't witness anything remotely like that myself. As for the horse getting hurt, maybe it woulda happened out playing in the pasture or on her next run if not at the clinic.

BEC - barrel racing question for ya... when you run home and stop do you want your horse to run to the gate and stop square or to circle off and slow down to stop? I've heard arguements for both and wonder what your take on it is.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Cdn-I have figured out it depends on the horse. Because Moon is not a great stopper, it's easier on him (and me) if I circle off. For a horse that has a nice deep stop I think it is easier on them to stop square.

I try to encourage a horse to stop square or at least rate down significantly with a straight body because I think that is easier on their body's and legs, but actually getting stopped is not always easy for them that way.