Thursday, March 22, 2012

Food obsession...

No, not mine. Although looking down I probably should be paying a little more attention to what is attaching itself around my mid-section.

I'm actually talking about Flash.

He isn't just a horse anymore. No, no, no. He is a finely tuned athlete that needs the very best of everything, including supplements. Right? Right.

Who cares that the alfalfa/grass hay mix that I've been giving him all winter makes him fat and happy. There must be more that I should be feeding my star athlete. There has to be more, right? Right.

And before you know it I've been sucked into the black hole that is equine nutrition.


First it starts off pretty benignly. My star athlete is sweating quite a bit when we train so an electrolyte would be a good thing to add to our little feeding regime. However, Flash is a butt-head and won't do the tube variety of electrolytes (which would make things so much easier). Oh no, this horse just waits until my back is turned and then proceeds to spit out the offending (and very expensive) supplement. And then proceeds to grind it into the ground with his hoof for good measure.

*take that you stupid (and very expensive) electrolyte*

So, I have to get the kind of electrolyte that you either put in water or sprinkle over grain. In and of itself, this doesn't seem like a big deal. However, you forget that this is Flash we're dealing with. My darling prima-donna of a horse is a very picky eater. It's not my fault. He came that way. So when I tried adding the electrolyte to a bucket of water (and per the instructions I removed all other sources of water) he promptly took one sniff of the bucket and tipped it over.

*take that you stupid yucky-smelling bucket*

I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons I'm giving electrolytes is to boost water intake, so clearly putting it in the water is counter-productive, since he had no desire to drink at all.

Back to the drawing board.

Next I would try putting it in with the grain. Wait a second... I don't feed grain. So then begins the hours and hours of research to make sure that I get just the right kind of grain. Can't have too much protein. Needs to have a lot of fat. Calcium and selenium and all the other iums have to be in perfect balance so as to not upset my star athlete's stomach or make his muscles cramp or any of the other bad things that could happen from a poor grain choice. Oh, and it has to taste good, too.

Holy crap. The pressure.


And it seems the farther down the black hole of equine nutrition you go the more information (and college degrees) you need. It's intimidating. After all, I don't want to screw my horse up. And have everyone at our first endurance race telling me what an idiot I was to do this and not do that.


OK, OK... no need to panic. Deep breath. Where was I? Oh yes. Grain.

I found the grain that I like, ingredients-wise. Flash seems to like the taste of it. Success!! Well, not quite. It was now time to add the electrolytes. Which were met with a luke-warm reception but still (for the most part) got eaten. Success!!

And what Flash doesn't finish the dogs polish off. Win/win. Right? Right.

And now I see on the endurance page that I stalk that others way more knowledgeable than myself are talking about way more complicated things than grain, electrolytes, hay and water. Things like adding additional fat. Or over-electrolyting (oh crap, I didn't know that was even a possibility). Or how to keep gut sounds good throughout the ride. Or what type of hay to feed while on a ride. Or how much grain and stuff to feed the morning of a ride. Or how much grain and stuff to feed during the ride. Or how to keep your horse drinking. Or, or, or...

Holy crap. The pressure.


Then came the words that I needed to hear... if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Is he healthy? Check.
Is he drinking adequately? Check.
Does he handle the workouts fine? Check.
Does he recover quickly after the workouts? Check.
Is he sound? Check.
Is he happy? Check. Check. Check. (Flash really loves to get out and go)

OK. I think I haven't screwed anything up too badly. I guess I'll just keep on going the way I have been and try to sift through the massive amounts of information out there to make the best decisions I can.

After all, Flash will tell me what's working and what isn't. If I listen to him, we should be just fine...

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