Rocking E blog is now Rocking E Cowgirl!

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How to Spot Gastric Ulcers in Your Horse

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Lately your horse has seemed a bit dull. He's cinchy when you tack up, and pins his ears when you ask him to lope. His coat isn't shiny anymore, and his ribs are peeking through his flesh. He's also had leftover grain the past few days after his meals. Call me the Ulcer Police, but I'd say there's a good chance your horse has equine ulcers. I have seen many horses come through my barns and the number one health issue I see, by far, is ulcers.

Equine ulcers are essentially wounds, or lesions, on the wall of the digestive tract. Horses commonly develop ulcers on the lining of the stomach, typically known as gastric ulcers. Gastric ulcers can cause a variety of symptoms such as frequent colicking, weight loss, behavior issues, dull hair coat, cinchiness, unwillingness under saddle, cribbing, and weaving. Ulcers can be very painful, and horses can display a wide range of symptoms.

So, you notice changes in your horse: what's the next step?

In order to diagnose ulcers, you'll need an appointment with your veterinarian. The starting point for most veterinarians to diagnose ulcers is to use an endoscope. This allows them to visually verify ulcers in your horse's stomach. Scoping requires withholding grain and hay for about 12 hours before the procedure and can be quite expensive, so some vets might suggest treating your horse experimentally first, based on symptoms consistent with ulcers.

Treatment for ulcers is simple. Omeprazole is the only drug known to effectively treat gastric ulcers in horses. You can spend hundreds of dollars on supplements, herbs, and minerals in an effort to holistically treat your horse's ulcers, and with excellent intentions. But–get ready for some tough love: that expensive licorice and clay supplement you bought will not heal your horse's stomach ulcers. It might temporarily soothe the pain, but it cannot effectively treat ulcers like omeprazole can.

Treatment for equine ulcers is manageable, but expensive. Prevention, however, is always the best solution to forgoing ulcer medication.

Stress is a major player in ulcer development, so making your horse's living arrangement more natural is vital to his health. Performance horses who travel and compete are highly susceptible to ulcers. Nearly 60% of performance horses have ulcers, and 80-90% of Thoroughbred racehorses have been shown to have gastric ulcers, according to Dr. Jorge Nieto, Center for Equine Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis (UC Davis). If you choose to travel with your horse, try to keep his routine as consistent as possible. Give him breaks at shows and days off when you get home. Allow him turnout time to graze as much as possible. Your horse's stomach produces about nine gallons of acid a day and requires feed and saliva to neutralize that acid. When you feed your horse just once or twice a day, his stomach doesn't have the feed it needs to stabilize the pH balance of all that acid. If possible, feed your horse multiple smaller meals throughout the day or provide free-choice hay.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also make horse's more susceptible to gastric ulcers. Always administer medications with care and caution. Do not give your horse more than the allotted amount recommended by your veterinarian, and watch for clinical signs of ulcers if your horse is required to be on NSAIDs for a prolonged time.

Horses can develop ulcers in as little as five days. If your horse has displayed alarming changes, don't rule out gastric ulcers without talking to your vet. I'm not a vet, nor do I claim to be one. All the knowledge I have, I've gained through first-hand experience and reading as much research as I can get my hands on. I'm passionate about gastric ulcers because I have seen many horses silently suffer.

This is Officer Allie of the Equine Ulcer Police, signing off.
This article is written in remembrance of handsome Chandler, owned by Larry and Thresa Green, and gorgeous Valkyrie, owned by Heather Chandler.

I’m Thankful For…Rusty

As I was blanketing my horses last night, I reflected on how grateful I am for my four-legged companions. I slipped Hot Rod and Kona's blankets over their heads and a chilly breeze blew through my hair. I turned and looked at the next pasture where my old man and constant friend, Rusty, stood looking at me. Waiting for his warm blanket and his dinner, he patiently stood with his head held high. If there is one thing I am thankful for this year, it is Rusty.

 
Rusty had a rough beginning. We know little about his history or breeding, but I do know his life before me wasn't pleasant. He wasn't always able to count on breakfast and dinner being brought to him. He didn't have a shelter or warm blanket on the snowy days. When he was ridden, he was ridden hard and long with little care afterwards. Those things I know for sure, because we met each other at his lowest point.

 
Rusty fell into my lap after several unfortunate events involving a tenant of my father's. In an effort to recoup his money, he bargained to keep the horse and planned to take him to the sale barn. That plan changed when I drove out to meet this horse my dad had told me about. He was emaciated, and he was suffering from a horrible abscess in his hoof due to a lack of proper hoof care. I knew nothing about horses, but I knew Rusty needed help and the look in his eyes touched my heart in a way I couldn't ignore.

 
So I dove in, and everything changed for me. My college plan, my life plan, my friends, and the way I spent my time were turned upside down. I was beginning to say words like, "sheath," "farrier," and "parasite" over the dinner table. My parents' eyes widened, but they never questioned my new-found passion. I read everything I could find on horse care, I studied it at school, and in my spare time I drew up plans for boarding facilities. I felt at home with my new horse and my new outlook on life.
Many years later, I'm still thankful for that old sorrel gelding. He was a wise, patient teacher. He marks the beginning of all things horsey in my life and I am forever grateful.

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Beet Pulp: The Little Feed That Could

You might not think you could get excited about a seemingly insignificant feed called beet pulp, but as beet pulp's biggest fan, I can attest that this humble feed is by far the best work-horse of the equine nutrition world. Also known as the the black sheep of the equine feedstuff family, beet pulp has somewhat of a bad name, usually forgotten at the back of the feed store. Let me help you dust off that lonely feed bag and ignite a newfound passion for my friend, beet pulp.
What:
Beet pulp is a by-product of the sugar beet industry. After the sugars from the beets have been extracted, the fibrous pulp of the beet remains and is processed into the livestock feed called beet pulp. Beet pulp is a great forage source with, on average, 10% crude protein. Beet pulp is generally packaged and sold in a pelleted or shredded form. Either form works great for feeding horses, but the pelleted form takes longer to soak in water before feeding. Beet pulp can be found plain or with molasses added. The addition of molasses increases palatability and decreases dust. For horses requiring low-sugar or low-starch diets, owners should opt for molasses-free beet pulp. The same goes for HYPP horses- because of the high amount of potassium found in molasses.
Who:
Beet pulp is a great forage feed for most horses, but it is especially beneficial to underweight horses, hard-keepers, and older horses. A highly digestible forage, beet pulp is optimally used in addition to a high-quality grain and hay diet to help pack on the pounds for underweight horses. Not only will it add calories to a horse's diet, but this feedstuff will also lower the possibility of your horse getting "hot" as it would on traditional high-starch feeds. Because beet pulp is generally soaked before feeding, it works well for older horses who have a difficult time chewing their food. It is important to note, however, that beet pulp is not suitable for growing foals and yearlings in large quantities as a stand-alone grain because of its high calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. For growing horses, it is best fed in addition to a regular feeding program.
How:
Most horse owners have heard stories of horses eating dried beet pulp and choking, but the fact is that horses can choke on any feed. Beet pulp can even be found in some senior feeds that do not require soaking. However, because its dryness, it's better to be safe than sorry: soak your beet pulp first. Also think of it as an opportunity to increase your horse's water intake. Most companies recommend soaking in water prior to feeding anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. Check the label on your feed bag before you begin for specific instructions. Two parts water to one part beet pulp is a good place to start on your measurements. I've found some horses like it more soupy than others, so take your time figuring out exactly what your horse likes.
When:
Beet pulp can be fed everyday in addition to your horse's normal feeding program to bump up his weight, or to help reduce excess energy caused by high amounts of carbohydrate feeds. I have very easy keepers, so this is not a feed source I use on a daily basis, but I always keep it on hand for times when I think my horses need more water. Very cold or snowy winter days are my favorite time to feed a small amount of beet pulp to my horses. I soak the water in my home in very hot water, let it steep and absorb, and then feed it when it's still warm. It helps them incorporate extra fluid on days that icy water from their tank is not enticing, and it also serves as a warm treat. In the summertime, be sure not to let your beet pulp spoil before feeding. A couple of hours in the feed room during a hot Oklahoma summer day is about all it takes to make your beet pulp slimy and rancid. I have even stored my soaked beet pulp in the tack room refrigerator as a cool treat for a hot horse.
Remember always to do your research before adding or changing your horse's feed regimen. If you have questions about feeding beet pulp, contact your veterinarian! Changing your horse's grain and hay is serious business since it can increase her risk of colic. Always transition slowly. And don't be afraid of the little-feed-that-could, beet pulp!

How To: Wound Care Caddy

It's a beautiful sunny day, perfect for a ride. The arena has just been dragged and the fluffy footing is calling your name. You walk out to the pasture to catch your horse. When he doesn't come trotting up as usual you call his name and scan the horizon. Slowly, he comes limping up to you with a bloody gash on his hind limb. Your heart drops, but you immediately devise a plan to care for his wound.

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All horses get hurt, it's only a matter of time. When emergency strikes, the last thing you want is to have to search for first aid supplies. Here's a great list of of essential first aid supplies needed to care for a wound before your veterinarian arrives or to help heal a wound on your own. I store mine in a convenient, and inexpensive, caddy equipped with an easy-to-carry handle. Many horse owners keep their first aid kits in plastic tubs with lids, but I personally like to have it in a caddy so I can see all my supplies and have them at my fingertips. Use what works best for you, though!
1. Betadine solution. You can either dilute iodine yourself or use Betadine surgical scrub. I prefer to use surgical scrub with a clean sponge or sterile gauze because the suds deeply clean wounds. Not all wounds can be scrubbed, so use your best judgment when selecting a cleaning solution. Nolvasan is also an excellent cleaning solution preferred by many veterinarians.
2. Nitrofurazone ointment. There are many types of ointments on the market for wounds, but this one is my favorite. This ointment works well as an antibiotic preventing surface bacterial infections. It can be used with or without a bandage.
3. Wonder Dust. This is one of my favorite products to use on wounds that are slow healing. Its drying agents prevent bleeding, creating a dry barrier to contaminants. It also contains charcoal to cut down on proud flesh growth.
4. Non-stick gauze pads. These are a necessity when bandaging a leg wound. Larger sizes are best for horses!
5. Vetrap. You never know when you might need to wrap a leg wound. I always keep several rolls in my wound care caddy so I'm not tempted to skimp when wrapping.
6. Bandage scissors. Ever tried cutting through an old wrap with regular craft scissors? Take my word for it and don't even attempt it, unless you want a new wound. Invest in some bandage scissors and thank me later.
7. Towels. Towels come in really handy to stop blood flow on a wound or to dry off a leg after cold hosing and, before applying a wrap. If you don't want to purchase brand-new towels just to be ruined on a bloody wound, use clean old t-shirts or socks! Clean mismatched socks are great used as mitts to apply pressure or clean a wound.

Obviously, this caddy is reserved specifically for wounds and minor abrasions. Complete first aid kits are much more extensive and can treat a wider range of ailments. When building your complete first aid kit you might consider adding a thermometer, petroleum jelly, latex gloves, a twitch, hoofpick, phenylbutazone, banamine, and a stethoscope. Also keep a separate caddy equipped with supplies for applying standing wraps. Having these basics ready in one place will make caring for a wound less stressful for you and your horse!

Building a Better Bond in Little Time

Everyone has a busy schedule, me included. Actually, make that-me especially. One husband, two little girls, and two small businesses leave little time for my personal horses.

Time is a precious commodity in our home, so when I do have any time carved out to ride or train my horses, I use it intentionally. Here are my tried-and-true methods to use my time with my horses efficiently and effectively.

Before I begin, I make a set of goals for my time. I first decide how my time would be spent best, whether it be riding, lunging, or doing ground work. Then I make a quick mental list of the things I want to accomplish. They are generally smaller, short-term goals to help build foundations for bigger goals. For instance, I'm currently working on a lead change with my horse, Hot Rod. If I have an hour to ride, I might set goals to work on straightness and balance at the lope. Establishing this small step will set me up for the next ride to continue towards a lead change. Have a plan before you ever pull your horse out of the pen.

Budget your time during your ride or training session. For me, it's always the cool-down I tend to neglect. I know how important a cool-down is to my ride and yet when I'm not intentionally budgeting my time, I will lope my ride away and poor Hot Rod gets a quick pat and is put back out to pasture. To remedy this problem, I have started using the stopwatch function on my phone. I will break up my ride into different sections and time them. Or, I will listen to a predetermined playlist to help keep my ride on schedule. Check out the playlist I'm using right now on my blog at www.rockingeboarding.com.

Use the time you have, as little as it may be. Did your day fill up with unforeseen errands and responsibilities? No problem. You don't have to have an hour of concentrated training to meet your goals. If you have an extra 10 minutes, give your horse a good grooming. Use the time to scout out any injuries and assess his weight. If you have an extra 15 minutes, work on a showmanship pattern. You don't have to show to practice showmanship. It's a great way to boost your horse's manners on the ground. Even if you have 20 minutes, you can saddle up just to work through your normal warm-up session. Walk and trot through serpentines to improve your horse's suppleness. When spending time with your horse, quality always trumps quantity. Just because you have little time, it does not mean it can't be beneficial time.

Finally, don't forget to enjoy your horse. Don't forget why you fell in love with horses in the first place. Not all your encounters with your horse have to be strictly scheduled. Maybe you are like me and spending time outdoors with my horse feeds my soul. Sometimes, the most beneficial way to spend time with your horse is not to plan at all. I've had some of my favorite rides when I was flexible in how I spent my time.

Keeping an organized schedule with your horse is important if you want to achieve big goals and dreams. But every once in a while, let loose and enjoy the moment. Ride down country roads, lope in a big open pasture, ride bareback, let him hand graze on green grass. Your horse will enjoy the break and your bond will be strengthened.
By planning ahead, budgeting your time, and using your time intentionally you can reach your goals with your horse. But don't forget to have some fun!

My Power Riding Playlist

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I never ride at home without my music. Ever. Music gets me pumped up, y’all! It helps me keep track of the time I’ve spent in the saddle, gives me a rhythm to trot and lope to, and keeps me motivated. I may or may not dance from the waist up when no one’s looking. I personally need an upbeat playlist for my rides. My horse is naturally slow and lazy, so it helps to have some energetic music in the background. Sometimes I take the headphones out and play it so he can hear it too. Silly, you say? Well, I don’t. Don’t knock until you try it. Here is my current riding playlist and how I use it to time my workout with my horses. It gets my blood pumpin’! You can change the exercises to fit your needs! This is meant for about a 30 minute ride.

Warm up at a walk. Include turns and circles to encourage suppleness:

Swedish House Mafia “Save the World” 3:36

Long trot while actively asking my horse to give his face to the bridle and collect:

The Weeknd “I Cant Feel My Face” 3 :38

Major Lazer & DJ Snake “Lean On” 2:58

Lope big circles with collection:

Lilly Wood and The Prick ” Prayer in C” 3:09

Swedish House Mafia “Don’t You Worry Child” 5:34

Calvin Harris “Blame” 4:15

Work on new maneuvers or patterns:

One republic “Counting Stars” 4:43

Katy Perry Ft. Juicy J “Dark Horse” 3:45

Cool down at the walk

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An Amateur’s Approach to Applying Standing Wraps

Standing wraps are an excellent tool to have in your horse-care arsenal. They can be used for several reasons, including support of the lower limbs during trailering, wound care on the lower limbs, and overnight support of the tendons and ligaments in the lower limbs after a hard workout.
Maybe you've seen other people apply standing wraps, but it seems intimidating to you. There are some important rules to follow when applying standing wraps for maximum effectiveness and safety. Here's a step-by-step guide to applying standing wraps correctly.
1. First gather your supplies. You'll need bandage quilts and standing wraps or polo wraps to wrap your quilts with. Generally, you'll need longer quilts for hind limbs and shorter quilts for fore limbs. These can be found at local feed stores or online.
2. Clean the lower legs thoroughly before applying your wrap. You do not want to wrap over wet or dirty legs, as this can create painful rubs.
3. Roll up your quilts and wraps before you begin. This will make wrapping more efficient so you are not struggling with long amounts of material. To roll up your standing wraps or polo wraps, start by folding the Velcro section on top of itself. This will cause the Velcro to face out when you're finishing your wrap.
4. Begin by placing the end of your quilt on the inside of the leg. You should be looking at the inside of the rolled up portion of the quilt as you work your way around the leg. It is very important to wrap the left legs counter-clockwise and the right legs clockwise. This creates an even front-to-back pressure on the tendons. One phrase to help remember this technique is "tendons in," as in pulling the tendons toward the inside of the cannon bone. Hold your quilt in place after it has been completely wrapped around the leg.
5. Start your standing wrap or polo wrap on the inside of the leg, just as you did with the quilt, about halfway down the leg. As you wrap, use a steady, even pressure spiraling down to the base of your quilt, back up to the top, and once more down to about the halfway point. Each turn around the leg should cover about 50% of the wrap's width. Use your Velcro to secure the wrap. If your wraps are for shipping purposes, longer quilts are more suitable so you create a sling for the fetlock. Otherwise, your wrap should end just above the quilt and the fetlock. The wrap should be smooth from top to bottom, void of any wrinkles or bumps.

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Now that you know how to wrap, there are some cardinal rules to follow.
1. If you are wrapping an injury on one leg, wrap the corresponding leg for even support and circulation.
2. Always wrap legs pulling the "tendons in," and do not pull too tightly or too loosely. A poorly wrapped bandage can most often do more harm than good.
3. Standing wraps are for horses who are, you guessed it, standing. These bandages are meant for stall rest or trailering only.
4. Practice makes perfect. Your wrapping skills will only improve with time and experience. This is a great activity for rainy days when you can't ride.

Lastly, if you need to apply a bandage but don't feel confident in your wrapping abilities yet, don't attempt it. Call your vet for help!

Wave Fork Review

 

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I clean a lot of stalls. Like, a lot. So it’s really important to use a good rake to scoop that poop with. There’s nothing more irritating than using a rake with lost tines and dropping manure with every scoop. It takes more of my valuable time to use a bad rake. Lately, I’ve had one too many of those bad rakes. The tines just didn’t seem strong enough to stand up against our Oklahoma clay in the runs of our stalls. Enter, the Wave Fork from Noble Outfitters. Noble Outfitters is a fairly new company to the horse world and their products have been beckoning me at the feed store for several weeks. This seemed like the perfect chance to try one out.

The Wave Fork, much like it’s name, has these nifty wavy tines instead of the straight ones most rakes have.

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They also are much more flexible than my last rakes.

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The tines can separate and come apart. They slide onto a plastic piece that goes along the top. So, if a tine does break, you just replace it instead of buying a brand new rake! You can see how the black and orange tines fit together in the photo.

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Best of all, it comes with a five year warranty! Pretty cool, in my opinion. And since I wasn’t paid to endorse this product, these are all my own honest thoughts and observations! I bought my Wave Fork at my local feed store, but you can order them online as well at Noble Outfitter’s website. They’re a bit pricey, but I’m hoping it will pay for itself in the long run.

Update!

I just wanted to give you all a casual update on what has been going on with me and my family. My last few posts have been, well, boring. But that's only because I've been super busy growing a baby, delivering a baby, and now caring for a real-life-sweet-little-urchin of a baby girl. Emmalee Belle. She was born on May 22, and is as healthy and as beautiful as can be. The Lord really outdid himself this time.

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Life with a newborn can be challenging. Throw in a four year old, a business, and three of your own horses to ride and it gets downright crazy. For the most part, our new family of four has adjusted smoothly and quickly. I rode Hot Rod and Kona up until the last two weeks before delivering, mainly due to the enormous amount of rainfall we had here in Oklahoma, and I worked in the barns up until the day before I delivered. After Emmalee was born, I started doing barn checks and light feedings three days later. Six weeks in, I'm riding three times a week and back to feeding everyday. Not bad! I could not have done any of this without my amazing and supportive husband. Thank you, Brad! This is three days after she was born. My body was still so swollen and puffy from all the fluids they gave me. Check out my monster feet and hands! Yikes!

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Now, after weeks off from riding I have started to put together a new riding program for each of my guys and make a new list of goals individual to them both. As a mom, I know there's nothing more frustrating than putting a puzzle together and realizing you have missing pieces, and that's about how I feel with my horses right now. So, the last two weeks I have been running through a mental list during my rides checking off the skills they have and making notes of their missing pieces so to speak. Here are a few of Hot Rod's "holes" to work on:
1. Loping off immediately from a halt with collection
2. Performing a working trot that is quick and lively without being nagged
3. More quick and precise back up
4. Performing a lead change without baubles or a step
You'll notice that most of those things are polishing skills he already possesses. In my mind, this means they are primarily rider concerns. I have not asked enough of him. I know he can physically do these things and I know he understands when I ask him. So it's up to me to show him it's time to clean up and polish our rides.
Kona is a different story. Though Kona is "broke" according to any cowboy's standards, he definitely is not finished. Here is Kona's list of "holes:"
1. Precise steering with a neck rein
2. Trotting off immediately when cued
3. Performing a half-pass and side-pass
4. Performing a turn on the haunches
5. Not acting gate sour
6. Loping off immediately without baubles
7. Giving the face without false curling of the neck
I know what you're thinking, "how do you even ride that horse?!" Well, it's not always fun and it requires focused concentration. Which is exactly why I have neglected him. Tonight I rode him and reminded myself that every time he's naughty it is an excellent opportunity for him to learn and me to grow as a rider. I have considered sending him to a trainer, but I know I can accomplish these things myself. Now that it's on paper, I know exactly what I'm working towards each ride with him. Even if we work hard for two weeks, we will make huge progress.
I love starting new routines, setting new goals, and watching hard work pay off. So here's to a new baby and new goals! Happy summer, everyone!

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About Allie

About Allie

Welcome to my blog! My name is Allie and my passion is caring for horses. My days consist of feeding, cleaning, and nurturing my two favorite things: horses and my little girl! I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in equine ownership and life as a business-owning mommy!