Thursday, July 9, 2009

I've Got a Secret...............Halter......We Hope!

To many doing halter is considered to be easier than showing performance. I've even heard comments about trainers doing halter because they can make the same money for far less work. But I'm here to tell you that getting a horse ready to show halter can be just as intensive as any performance horse can be when it comes to dealing with young horses.

Trying to condition a yearling that is growing like some noxious weed can give me fits. I've put many months of work into getting a horse ready that never hit the ring. Because they are changing so rapidly it's hard to second guess Mother Nature to get the "right" combination that turns out that fit star.

The more you feed youngsters, the bigger their bellies want to grow.......or so it seems. That is if you can even get them to consume the amount of feed it takes to put weight on them. I guess part of the reason for that is foals and even yearlings and sometimes two-year olds are more susceptible to round worms. The preferred rotation for worming may not be adequate in young stock.

I know here on my farm we worm the youngsters once a month. The foals get half a tube of the yearlings a whole tube. (The exception to this would be the wormer Quest which should absolutely always be given strictly according to weight AND NEVER NEVER to a thin horse!) But even religious worming doesn't guarantee that "hay belly" will not happen. Sometimes it really is caused by HAY!..........a lot of hay!

Rhet and Scarlet both started off with hay bellies as did the other yearling we conditioned this year. The bellies on Scarlet and Rhet responded well to the conditioning program. Within a couple of months they had nice trim tummies......but both had ribs showing. The third yearling required extra worming to finally get his tummy tucked up where it belonged.

Rhet just happens to be one of those horses that burns calories just thinking. I swear he doesn't have to do a thing to drop weight. Trying to get the horse to consume enough calories to keep up with his work and his growth was an utter nightmare. I tried every trick I could think of and more to no avail. His diet has had so many changes no one here can keep up.

Finally I resorted to stabilized rice bran. I started off slowly and built up. Rhet was getting as much rice bran a day as an endurance horse would get...........but his weight finally began to improve.

I wanted to go to the Region 4 All Arabian Championships with extra weight on him. I figured that way when he got stressed out about being in a strange, new place and dropped weight he would still be carrying enough weight to show. I didn't get to that goal but by the week before we left for the show, his weight was looking "acceptable" for the halter arena.

By the time we got the weight fixed, I figured the hard part was done. But then that last week before the horse show had it's own set of trials all connected with Rhet. I posted right before I left for the show about the situations with Rhet here. First there was My Injury followed by The Horse's Injury..........mmmm, Injuries! I figured by the time I got the horse onto the trailer and we were headed for the show the worst was behind me.

To be continued....................

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  1. When I took my friend Heather's 2 yr-old fillies to put some weight on them, it was a race. First, they got bellies. Then a day later, I could see ribs and the seemed to shoot UP overnight. It has got to be not only a hard thing, but a crap shoot when trying to condition young horses to show.

  2. very informative post, thanks. I always knew conditioning was a big part of halter showing but I didn't really know much about the process. Please, tell more. How much and what kind of grain supplement do you feed?

  3. It is difficult to manage condition in the youngsters, almost like a tight rope walk! I've never shown youngsters in halter, I've just had to please my own critical eye.
    I can imagine your balancing act!
    And, I can't wait to hear whats up next!?!

  4. Hi MiKael
    I didnt realise I had missed so many posts but have enjoyed catching up and a m loking forward to the continuation of this story. Hope you have a great weekend.