Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Transformation Tuesday: Praise for my Pony

I hope my last post didn't sound like I was being harsh on Maggie or anything. She really is the right horse for me at the moment despite our height "issues" and I wouldn't trade her for a taller horse any day. The struggle is real with riding two very different-feeling horses though, but I can go back to focusing on Maggie only now. My stint with Lizzy is done as she's moved to another barn for the next step in her rehab.

Maggie has got a lot going for her right now and I can feel that we've made some great progress over the summer, despite not being able to actually show much. Maggie got some really nice compliments from both trainers in the last few lessons we've had that I've wanted to share:

From the dressage trainer:

"She' really is good at listening to your seat. You're really luck to have a horse who is so responsive to your seat - not all of them listen that well!"

"She's a very talented little horse!"

"It would be difficult for her to step under herself because she has a long back, but she uses her hocks very well to make up for it."

From the jump trainer:

"She's starting to canter like a real horse now!"

"She really has a nice jump to her - you don't have to worry about her not being able at this level."

"Her musculature has really improved from when she first saw her at the beginning of the summer. There's more muscle along her back for sure."

I am super happy about how her topline has come along this summer - even my somewhat uneducated eye can tell that there's more muscle up there. There's still some filling out to do, but she has such a log back and prominent SI joint. I don't think that musculature is going to cover it up, but the more we can strengthen her back the better.

April 2015 - Not the best pic, but I have been really bad about taking any conformation-type photos. You can see from this pic though, that her back is a little sunken on either side of her spine.
August 2015 - An actual attempt at a confo pic. I think her back looks a little more filled in and less sunken.
October 2015 - I don't know if you can tell anything from this terrible quality photo, but here it is anyway.
October 2015
I also asked both trainers in my respective lessons about her weight since I've been starting to think she's a little skinny and we all agreed that she could do well with gaining a little especially before the winter. I can easily feel her ribs and can see them too in the right light. I'll be honest here though, I've never supported the 'fat horse is a healthy horse' saying. Ever since Zipper had an episode of laminitis I've been a stickler about getting a good balance of nutrients without over-feeding. 

Maggie had been doing just fine with her current diet of hay and a balancer pellet, but she's in enough work now that she needs some extra energy. I've added in a second grain to her ration that's a soy energy based extruded nugget that should add a little more fat to her diet without the sugar, so we'll see how that goes!

I think the loads of stretchy trot that we've been doing has been awesome for her back. I try to incorporate it during warm-up and cool down of every ride. What's your favorite tool for building topline? Have you ever had to change your horse's diet as they begin to work harder? Any advice for continuing to build up Maggie's back?

Post-Publishing Edit: Facebook just reminded me that today is actually the second anniversary of Maggie's first show!

October 2013 -PHHT Grasshopper 2-Phase


  1. I adjust Tristan's diet all the time to account for work & seasonal changes. Mostly up or down depending on how he looks or how much work he's in. We haven't switched grain in a long time because he's on a specific diet to address his Cushings & metabolic stuff.

    For topline: I love poles, even just ground poles, and transitions, lots of quick ones in balance. Anything that forces them to reach their hind end underneath them.

    Also, consider adding more protein if she's in harder work (not necessarily more) as it supports muscle development. Maybe a cup of pelleted alfalfa, if she seems to tolerate that ok. Austen from Guinness on Tap wrote about addressing muscle building with diet a little while ago, including adding protein...I know I linked to it in one of my roundups.

    1. I'm reeeeaally bad about working over poles - and by bad I mean lazy. I need to get better about that!

  2. I change feed constantly as they go in and out of work. Mostly I add more or less rice bran and oil. Hay and ration balancer stay the same.

    1. That's about what I was figuring - the extruded nugget that I got her is primarily rice bran, so I'm hoping it does the trick!

  3. Beet pulp is my favorite for gaining weight :)

  4. she looks great! my mare's top line is pretty much non existent and it drives me nuts. like you can actually *see* the shelf where her ribs start. ugh kill me. i recently started adding more protein to her diet tho (she was previously just on a ration balancer as well) in the hopes of giving her what she needs to build muscle. we will see :(