We’ve been complimented on how our horses look and asked what our secret is by a few followers. It is not easy and each horse’s needs are reevaluated every month. Someone might have lost a bit of weight, someone’s ulcers appear to be returning, Stewie needs to go back on alfalfa cubes, Avery needs to go back on ranitidine since he’s being grouchy again, Jazzy is finally shedding to reveal she’s underweight, etc. Our 3 OTTBs keep us on our toes, we currently only think Avery looks ideal, but he still needs muscle. As of today, here are our secrets. These secrets have come from hours of research educating ourselves, listening to advice from others who have been in or are in the same situations, and using our own gut feelings since we know these horses best.
First and foremost we are well versed in gastric ulcers. Just about all our decisions in regards to feed, supplements, treatments, training intensity, etc revolve around ulcers. Our first sales horse, Eddie, gave us a crash course in them. When we purchased him he was skinny, 4 year old, and just off the track. He was not gaining weight and showing just minimal symptoms of ulcers. We have never scoped our horses, instead choosing to spend the money on purchasing their ulcer treatment medication. Avery and Jazzy both came to us with active cases. Both are cribbers, have a hard time maintaining weight, girthy, and irritable when they have active cases, plus they both have their own list of symptoms. Jazzy has chronic diarrhea and grinds her teeth, whereas Avery is generally more irritable than his normal personality and enjoys bucking while working. Luckily Stewie has not had an issue with ulcers but as he is in intense training to become an upper level event horse, we are keeping our eye on him.
We have used both Ulcergard and Abler’s Abgard Stable Pack with success. Since Ulcergard is nearly $35 a day for treatment, we generally only treat for 15 days when using this drug. After additional research knowing a horse needs to be treated for 30 days to fully irradiate and heal ulcers, we stumbled on Abler’s Abgard Stable Pack. For just under $215, you will get a full 30 days of treatment. When treating ulcers make sure you purchase medications containing Omeprazole as this is the only drug clinically proven to heal fore gut gastric ulcers.
All our horses receive daily supplements that help keep their stomachs happy and help prevent the return of ulcers. Currently our supplements of choice are SmartDigest Ultra and G.U.T. Both can be added to your horse’s Smart Packs. Avery is also on ranitidine daily for stomach acid. These supplements are not the only ones in their packs. Avery additionally is on MSM and SmartHoof, Jazzy is on SmartGain, and Stewie is on SmartLytes. They all eat Triple Crown Complete as this feed is high in fiber and fat. You only need to feed a small amount which is better on their stomachs. As a rule, we do not feed a sweet feed as these typically irritate the stomach. Weight gainers we use are rice bran, beet pulp, SmartGain, and Cool Calories. Rice bran and beet pulp are used long term were as the SmartGain and Cool Calories is used for a quick boost, maybe 6 months at the most.
Our horses live outside close to 24/7, only Stewie and Avery have stalls they stay in during inclement weather. They have free access to grass and hay. We try to keep their stress levels down so they are relaxed during turnout. They live in a small herd and all get along with one another as there is a well established hierarchy. They all regularly take long naps in the sun and we find them laying down quite a bit, so obviously they know they have it easy.
On top of these feed and how they live and eat decisions, our horses stay in pretty consistent work during most of the year. Lots of long and low and being soft help build their muscle. Typically their work out rides last about 20 to 30 minutes about 3 to 4 times a week, and are tailored to their individual needs. Since Avery and Jazzy are lesson horses, their work out for the day are their lessons and that’s usually when they work the hardest.
Since deciding to purchase a Thoroughbred, we have started a good working relationship with our vets because of this, we highly recommend finding one you feel comfortable with. Thoroughbreds are known for being accident prone, we really have not found this to be the case as our vets are at the farm due to ulcers, eye issues, lameness, and during follow up appointments which can be a blow to the wallet but are necessary. We also have relationships with an equine massage therapist and a chiropractor since we see our horses as athletes and they too need tune ups.
Our last secret is the amount of love and attention we give them. Every single one is fussed with when we are there even if they are not working that day. When we go out to the field to catch a horse, we always say hello to each one we walk by. Not only does it keep them from developing the annoying habit of being a hard catch, but they seem to appreciate knowing they are loved. We keep treats to a minimum to only after they work and are very good. Typically just carrots and apples as any sweet, sugary treats irritate their stomachs.
I hope this helps you with your own Thoroughbred or if you are considering purchasing one to understand what you are getting yourself in to. I do not recommend this breed to a first time owner unless you have years of previous experience working with them. We find and are called about Thoroughbreds looking for a new home mainly because people had no idea what they got themselves in to until too late. There are always exceptions to the normal Thoroughbred “issues” so if you have your heart set on one and are ready you can still find that easy keeper, one without gastric ulcers, and someone who is not a forward mover and requires a crop and spurs to keep them going. Being a Thoroughbred company we highly recommend them, but not for everyone. Sometimes a nice easy keeper is the way to go!