Thursday, September 2, 2021

wellness 2.0

I read commentary recently from an athlete in an entirely different sport, that "you don't get fit from training -- you get fit from the recovery."

This, to me, was an insightful perspective, esp given where Charlie and I are in 'resetting' our overall training program. Basically, I've struggled with the balance between learning how to condition a horse, vs risking unnecessary overuse or stress-related injuries. Since... Ya know, it's no real secret that most riding-related horse injuries occur during training and fitness work. 

my glossy sleek beastie, ready for action!!
So... I'm trying this new perspective on for size as a way to evaluate where Charlie is now, and make plans for where I want him to be. 

It's been a very hot, humid, and dry summer -- after what was honestly a lovely (and well-hydrated) spring. Charlie's hooves don't thrive on drought-hardened ground, and I don't thrive in heat indices above 95*F.. So... Let's just say that beyond our little CT and Derby outings, we've basically laid low. Let's call it a "recovery" season haha. 

obvi those nails don't look great, but these are charlie's interior hind hoof walls at 5wks in august during a drought. knowing that he likes to rest his hind hooves on top of each other (thus putting extreme stress on those particular nails), i'm honestly quite pleased with how well the walls are holding up!
We've worked hard all summer at basically.... Sustaining. And maintaining. Staying vigilant about the things that are going well --- like OMG Charlie's feet!! This is the first summer since I've owned him where he actually went 6wks during his July cycle. Unheard of

That's due in large part to getting a head start on hoof care last March, with leather pads etc, zealous keratex applications and fly boots. Plus obvi trying to make good choices about how I use Charlie in sub-optimal ground conditions. 

charlie's fronts at 5wks in august. unbelievable. these hooves benefit from leather pads + fly boots. all 4 hooves get keratex about 4-5days/week.
Still tho, even with protective and limited use, the hard ground seems to have a cumulative effect on horses. They can't ever really "take a load off," ya know? It's not like Charlie can just park it on the sofa with his feet up. The bad ground conditions are basically inescapable, and have a ripple effect on Charlie's entire state of being. 

So a few months out from his last hock injections (March), we opted to do another course of Adequan. I try to strike the right cadence with all these treatments so that they each support and increase the longevity of the other. Tho, eh, what do I really know, ya know? 

hm, somebody's got the drunk sweats....
My vet advised that new research suggests doing a whole box of Adequan at once (one shot every 4 days, for a full 7-shot box over 4 weeks) produces similar / equitable results to the traditional "shot a month" approach. 

We started using Adequan with Charlie in December 2019, and I do about a box once a year(ish), generally spaced depending on when we last did Charlie's hocks (his most reliably annual intervention).

TFW you're way more crippled than your horse during the flexion jogs...
Of course, we've done other interventions with Charlie in the past, too. Like his coffins, which we injected in November 2019. And his stifles, which he had injected on the track before I got him, and then with me in June 2019 (the point at which I realized some hard lessons about how complicated conditioning work can really be....).

smooshy sleepy nose!!
There have been a couple moments lately this summer where I wondered if Charlie might be ready for stifle attention again. And esp after thinking about building "fitness" from "recovery," I decided to schedule a lameness exam to take a closer look. 

Charlie's honestly pretty freakin sound right now, but was mild-moderate on one of the three stifle flexions on the leg that's been most suspect. Baaaaasically borderline... But, eh, with Charlie I like to play the margins. He's a big horse who will compensate for a weak hind end by pounding more heavily up front. Thanks, but no thanks, those feet already suffer through enough. 

charlie fully embraces the sedation, takes him FOREVER to wake up cuz he likes it so much...
So we went ahead and did his stifles again, just one injection apiece (of 3 potential sites), with the idea being that after all this -- the horse should well and truly be in a place of stasis. 

His feet are in good shape, his joints are freshly supported, and his muscles are basically pretty well rested at this point. Tho obvi he got an appointment with his favorite chiro / acupuncture guru just to really put the icing on the cake. 

not as much of a fan of stall rest. pictured: wild tb on the prowl while 'hand grazing'
For me, all this timing seems.... Honestly really good. I'm coming to realize that... Actually peak summer might be my least favorite season, LOL. It's hard to admit bc there's always so much cool stuff going on in July and August... And obvi we've DONE a lot of cool stuff these months. 

But... The nice thing about sticking with low-key, small-ask schooling type events is that... Eh, if the weather sucks, we can bow out. And since our chosen levels are well within our training, there really isn't a whole lot of prep needed for a little CT, ya know?

the most curious george
But the fall season?? That's 100% my favorite riding season. There's so much to do!! More fun CTs and Derbies!! And hunter paces omg!! And, maybe, just maybe, we'll actually possibly potentially consider evaluating the rough likelihood of conceivably perchance entering a full 3-phase event. Perhaps. Maybe. Ahem, cough cough. We'll see. 

oooooh and even more stabby jabbies!!
So. Back to that original sports commentary from above, I'm looking at building Charlie back up again with a big focus on maintaining wellness, on recovery. Starting from a place where the horse is basically in his topmost form, and adding from there. 

Rather than thinking of our conditioning or cardio rides as indicators of 'fitness,' I'll focus on giving Charlie's body the rest and wellness he needs amidst all that to really inform where he's at. 

obvi gotta do all the things for my sweet social butterfly -- he has very important plans!!
Or, ya know, haha. That's at least my plan at this point. We're primed and prepared for the season ahead, whatever may come. And, ahem, there are some plans to come. And some very important traditions to uphold (hint hint). But we'll see about all that later, lol. 

In the meantime, now that the remains of Hurricane Ida have well and properly drenched our ground and alleviated the drought, it's time to get back at it. Is anybody else taking a fresh look at your conditioning and wellness plans with an eye toward the changing seasons? Is there anything you always look out for in anticipation of fall weather**?? 


(**Obvi other than buying your fall dewormer in advance bc, ahem, cough cough, apparently there's a run on the market right now, wtf....)




19 comments:

  1. Charlie gets the best care. Irish has crappy feet too. I started him on a vitamin mineral mix back in the winter. It has biotin and this year his hooves actually look good ( for him anyway). Fall is the best time to ride. Unfortunately, here there are few events.

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    1. Delicate feet really are such a challenge… and yea we are super lucky in this area to have a fairly robust events calendar all the way thru December, believe it or not! Def makes it easier to sit out the nasty summer days lol

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  2. Dang, his feet look amazing!! Good for you. And yeah I feel you on the wormer, I bought it online for the first time ever because I had to buy it for my entire barn and I didn't want Rural King to think I was one of the crazies, lol. If they even allowed me to buy that much.

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    1. Dude the wormer situation is bonkers lol… I buy my spring and fall doses at the same time, so the fall dose is sitting in my cabinet waiting for frost. Guess I could sell it if I ever needed a quick buck LOL!!

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    2. Right?! It's especially bad timing since we give Ivermectin in the fall specifically. My husband sent a pic of my pile of dewormer to a group chat we're in and was like "Contemplating selling Jen's stash on the black market to fund my next car..." lol

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    3. Omfg haha…. Who could have predicted ivermectin and scraps of lumber as the new post apocalyptic currencies?!?!?

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    4. LOL I was just wondering what I could get for the giant bottle of goat dewormer I have in my stash. It's totally a different chemical than ivermectin - but I'm betting the covidiots don't read labels...

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    5. lol if they're determined to take dewormer for no reason other than they were told *not* to, i'm guessing the particular variety doesn't much matter haha.... sigh

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  3. Ugh OTTB feet. Mae has been on Farrier's Formula Double Strength since we got her (over 4 yrs ago) and her front feet are still so crumbly in the summertime. Sigh, constant battle

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    1. The most constant of all constant battles…. Charlie has been on and off some very good supplements since I’ve owned him, including farriers formula and platinum performance. But he’s actually completely off both right now. They are good stuff - but I’m coming to determine that they aren’t ultimately enough to prevent the chipping and cracking Charlie experiences. For him, I’m increasingly convinced it’s the leather pads up front. Obvi not every horse needs full pads but these can also be done as just rim pads. Then adding fly boots gives extra relief from stomping, and the constant keratex helps keep the wall strong but elastic enough not to crumble. Or at least, that’s kinda my working understanding for Charlie’s situation!

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  4. I'm still trying to figure out Nay's feet. He's on his second shoe cycle and went 6 weeks without much of an issue. He has good feet, but they're soft? But otherwise OK. I probably should start keratex while we're dealing with mud season again.

    Who knew dewormer would be such a hot commodity?! LOL

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    1. going 6 weeks without issue sounds pretty good to me!

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  5. So great you have Charlie feeling his best self! It's such a delicate balance keeping these enormous creatures feeling good.

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    1. dude for real... and it's like, as soon as you fix one thing, you realize that thing was masking some *other* thing lol....

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  6. Keratex applied very regularly seems to help my OTTB a lot. Summer is for sure the hardest time for him in a lot of ways though.

    And I've found that my dude stays sound and more comfortable with at least two rest days per week and a ton of variety in our training the other days. It is odd, but giving him MORE rest definitely makes him feel fitter and stronger.

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    1. dude exactly... and yea my farrier has told me that applying keratex as close to daily as possible is what's most important -- apparently there are polymers or whatever in the compound that build up on the surface of the hoof?! idk, chemistry ain't my thing, lol, but it does seem noticeable when i'm using it day after day!

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  7. Oh man, obviously I feel you on the feet! My farrier is actually the first one who did not recommend Keratex. Instead we're doing Farrier's Fix hoof oil... which... weirded me out. FL is SO wet all summer long, putting oil on seemed suspect. But his feet look fantastic and he is sound, so I continue putting on the oil haha. Added benefit of smelling nice and not being toxic... I got keratex in my eyeball one time with a poorly timed stomp and it was awful.

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    1. some of my friends (whose horsemanship i respect immensely) likewise SWEAR by farrier's fix oil -- it honestly seems like great stuff, and if i wasn't already on the keratex wagon i'd definitely try it. one big downside with the keratex is the toxic chemical bit -- i'm always super paranoid about accidently mixing it with some other application or treatment and ending up with a chemical burn or something....

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  8. Count me in the 'peak summer' is not my favorite season to ride, fall baby! All the way!

    You've spent a lot of time and care on how best to support Charles in charge and I'm glad you are seeing the pay off from your diligence! I actually recommended your Keratex protocol to someone at my barn recently!

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