Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Day the Earth Stood Still...kind of. And by "Earth" I mean my pony.

This entry will be dual purpose. First I will tell you about our very first Showmanship lesson, then I will entertain you with stories of Megacals and Forage to Concentrate ratios!

Part One, in which Junior holds still for 2.1 seconds....
I did showmanship in 4-H. So I have a basic grasp of the concept. I do NOT, however understand how Showmanship has evolved from sort of a Kudos to the Handler who presented his halter horse with style and presence to this bizarre series of walk-halt-square-quarter-back-180-jog-360-back-720-jog-reverse 180-jog-halt-square----- gulp. The first Showmanship class I saw at Congress made my brain hurt. When I showed it was: walk to judge-square-quarter-180-jog-halt-square. That was it.

For the few of you who haven't a clue what I am talking about Watch This and This.

I must admit the allure. The training and precision involved is very difficult to attain, but in some ways I liken it to what trail class has become. Instead of opening gates and mailboxes and flinging jackets over your horses face (you know, stuff you might encounter on a trail or hack) it has become "Poles" class. When the HELL will you ever encounter a need for that skill OUTSIDE of that class? Even if you actually found an entire field full of fallen trees (whose trunks happen to be white and uniform in size) you wouldn't go loping over them and turning little circles inside them. Or at least I wouldn't. But I digress.

Junior had his feet trimmed in the morning and spent the day in his stall. He was very pleasant when I brought him to the arena and was kind of lazy. Pleasant, but lazy. KAT got us started with setting up square (all hooves square under the body) and quartering (moving around the horse's head in relationship to where the judge is walking around the horses body) and then we started turns, walking and jogging. He was a bit mouthy as I expected and he needed a few stern reprimands but he was pretty good overall. He actually stood WAY better than I expected. His head didn't hold still as much as his feet did. He learns SOOO fast, but he simply chooses not to do what is asked sometimes. I can see it in in his eyes. He's nine going on three. Thinks he's a baby. I should start calling him Peter Pan. GROW UP! Anyway, it was kind of fun and I was really happy with how he did. It seemed KAT was pleasantly surprised with him, too. She has a shoulder injury right now so she couldn't take him from me and teach him anything, but I think we learned a lot! He started getting really bored, though and suddenly KAT said "Oh! No wonder they're getting bored! It's 6:15!" Anyone would be bored with 75 minutes of showmanship practice! So I made him square up one more time and stand, then I took the chain off and scratched him all over under the halter and took him back to his hay. I'm trying to make having the chain under the chin mean "work time" since it's the only time I put a chain there.

Part Two: When good numbers go bad!!!!
And now on to Nutrition! I ordered a new feed! Yup, I finally made a dang decision! My brain is still swimming with numbers. Who knew it was this complicated!!! I have a fear I'm over calculating but we'll just have to see. I sent my final calculations to my "teacher" TJ tonight and I'm very curious to see if I messed it all up or if I actually got it all. She's been trying to teach me what she learned in a 10 week course for Equine Science and Pre-Vet majors. She's doing a good job, but there's just a lot to wrap your brain around and math and science were NEVER my strong courses.

So, before I reveal ALL the details I'm asking you to share YOUR feed rations with me. And if you're like I was up until the end of November when TJ presented me with a 1/2" thick packet of Junior's current ration analysis and possible new rations, I'd like to know that too! Answer all or some! So:
  1. What percentage of your horse's body weight are you feeding?
  2. What is the weight ratio of Forage(hay/pasture) to Concentrates(grain)?
  3. What brand/type of Concentrate do you feed?
  4. How much does it cost you to feed your horse? Is it included in your board?
  5. Do you weigh your hay and grain?
  6. Have you ever had a hay/pasture analysis done?
  7. What do you base your feeding decisions on? (yes, that's vague, but before November my answer was "it's the food that's at the barn" which is the food that 90% of my barn eats and they are just fine.)
There are no wrong answers here. Please share. Then, pending TJ's vast frustration with how NOT correct my numbers were, I will share with you the math that plagues my dreams as of late.


  1. the showmanshhip classes sure sound like lot's of fun...I will have to give it try...

  2. Yay for showmanship!! I did showmanship in 4-H too and we had patterns similar to the ones you had in 4-H. We all stood in line, and one at a time walked to the judge, set up, did a 180, and jogged back into line. Easy peasy!

    Personally, I love the intricate patterns. To me, I feel it will set me and Lilly apart from everyone else. I had a fairly complicated pattern at a show once and it was so much fun! I made a drawing of it (

    I think once you get the basic maneuvers down, you'll be able to put them together in any order and have a lovely pattern. It really helps to break it down that way... think of each piece as it's own maneuver, and then when put together, you have your pattern.

    Sounds like Junior will do well in showmanship! I look forward to hearing more about your lessons! And why are boys so mouthy? Geesh... :)

    One last thing about showmanship (someone shut me up!)... I think the chain idea you have is perfect. I only use a chain on Lilly when we do showmanship and she knows that when I put the chain on, the messing around is over. It's business time. :)

    Now for the nutrition stuff:

    Sadly, with Lilly on stall rest, she just gets a handful of feed and a whole bunch of hay these days. I'm not sure what percentage of her body weight she's being fed, but she's on Blue Seal feed, which is a pelleted sweet feed. Feed cost is included in my board, which is $330 per month, per horse. I am certain no one weighs Lilly's feed before she gets it, even before she was just getting a handful. It was just "eyeballed" in the scoop. I don't think any analysis was done on the hay or the pastures... at least not to my knowledge. As far as feeding decisions go, she gets what everyone else gets. I've never thought much about nutrition, although I have been giving her a hoof supplement and a digestive supplement.

    Do I fail? :)

  3. I LOVE showmanship! It was always one of my favorite classes, even as the patterns got more intricate. I guess it kept me challenged, but you do have a point about that and trail. I still think it's fun though.

    Glad you're getting your nutrition stuff going. I am boarding right now, so I don't have as much control over feed as I like. At this point, my horse looks great so that's what I'm going with. But she's an easy keeper too..

  4. Showmanship sounds tough - I agree with you about the trails class. It's just gotten silly. I've never had to back my horse between two tree logs. nor make him side pass for 20 yards.

    We feed on the 1/2 scoop (not weight) method. My mare needs 3/4 of a scoop. I used to be in a place where everything was weighed, but honestly, it all ended up being about the same.

    We don't have pasture, so it's hay about a flake or 2 per horse - 3 x a day.

  5. We're bomb at showmanship! We got Reserve Champions! Well at at the 4H county fair a few years my horse is like, standing still, and not falling asleep? What? lol But it is goo for every horse to know the basics, cause it all ties into good ground manners.

  6. I have a 13 yo breeding stock paint mare, 15.1 hands, 1000+ lbs. She is in moderate work. Stalled with a run November - April and pastured at least 12 hours per day, if not more, May - October.

    Q. What percentage of your horse's body weight are you feeding?

    A. I like to feed about 2% to any horse. If the horse is fat, I like to feed a local hay. For a harder keeper, a hay with more calories and perhaps up to 3% of her bodyweight. I like to have hay in front of my horse at all times if they are stalled/in a run/in a bare pasture.

    Q. What is the weight ratio of Forage(hay/pasture) to Concentrates(grain)?

    A. I only feed a ration balancer to my mare and I get the most concentrated one I can find. In her case, it's 1 lb. That includes protein, vitamins and minerals. I do throw in some whole oats, about 2 lbs. per day as long as she is in work. It gives her a little bit of go. And, 1/2 lb. of rice bran because I like some fat in the diet. I guess that's 5 lbs of concentrate at the very most for this mare.

    Q. What brand/type of Concentrate do you feed? How much does it cost you to feed your horse? Is it included in your board?

    A. LMF Super Supplement G. It's $26 per 50 lb bag. It's fed 1 lb per 1000 lb horse. Comes out to 52 cents per day. It is included in my board. However . . . I was feeding this prior to moving her to her boarding facility and it just so happens that they feed this supplement, whole oats and rice bran. The only thing I have to purchase is salt! I save about $30 per month.

    Q. Do you weigh your hay and grain?

    A. I do not weigh hay. I like hay in front of my horse at all times. So, I start with a certain amount and if I find they are on empty too often, I add more. If they end up wasting it or there is a bunch of hay left by the next mealtime I decrease it. Like I said, I feed generally the same amount, but adjust the quality/calories by changing types of hay.

    Q. Have you ever had a hay/pasture analysis done?

    A. No because I board and the hay comes from different sources all the time. I might if I had a lot of pasture that I depended on for calories or if I had my own place with room to store enough hay to make it worthwhile.

    Q. What do you base your feeding decisions on?

    A. My horse's basic needs. I used to go supplement-crazy, but now I think "less is more." If she looks great, is a good weight, she's probably quite healthy. Horses have basic needs and I think we horseowners often go crazy and overalalyze everything and potentially create problems.