An Athlete Inside & Out: Nutrition For​​ Equine Athletes

Have you ever stopped to think about what you are feeding your horse? With so many different choices of feed, supplements, and forage on the market it can be hard to really understand the complexity of what your horse gets nutrition wise. Horses are just as much an athlete as their riders, and with unbalanced feed programs, they cannot perform at their best.

The horse’s diet should be developed around six basic nutrient categories: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Factors such as body mass, age, workload, and metabolic efficiency influence the importance of each of these categories as well. When creating a feed program for a new horse or looking more into an existing feed program, it is essential to recognize the six basic nutrient categories that need to be satisfied.

Carbohydrates come in two forms, structural and non-structural. Structural carbohydrates come from roughage like hay and grass. The way that the horse’s digestive tract is designed makes it easy for them to digest the roughage to use it as their main energy source. Because of this, it’s vital to feed good quality hay. Making sure that the hay is free of mold and dust as well as properly matured are all factors in proper hay selection. Non-structural carbs are easily digestible sugars and starches found in grains. They provide a more concentrated form of energy then structural carbs. Grains should be used to supplement a good forage program. To evaluate your horse’s feed makeup, try checking out the feed tag of the grain bag. If you don’t handle the feed, most grain companies have the information on their websites!

Proteins are a nutrient that is often misunderstood by most people. They are broken down in the small intestines and then restructured to make-up muscle, hoof, and hair. Higher amounts of protein don’t lead to higher energy levels as many people think. Proteins are responsible for growth and maintenance. Growing horses typically need between 12 and 18 percent crude protein in their diet and matured horses get a lower percentage, about 8 to 12 percent, depending on workload. Horses with intense workloads need a higher protein level to assist in muscular regeneration. Forage is also another source of protein. Good quality legume hay can contain 18 to 22 percent crude protein and quality grass hays can have 10 to 16 percent crude protein. You can find the crude protein levels on the feed tag or the website of your grain as well.

Fats are a great source of easily digestible energy. Many feeds are now supplemented with a fat, typically a sort of stabilized oil. Feeds of that nature have anywhere between a 6 to 12 percent fat level. Some brands do not add fats to their feed and those contain 2 to 4 percent fat. If a higher fat level is desired, add a type of oil like corn or a specific fat supplement. But, it is important to be sure that all other nutrient needs are being met.

Vitamins are crazy important to allow your horse’s systems to work to the best of their ability. There are two different types of vitamins: the water-soluble group, B-complex vitamins, and the fat-soluble group, vitamins A, E, D, and K. It is important to know that the horse’s body synthesizes many of its necessary vitamins and don’t always need supplementation. Deficiencies or excess amounts can lead to health problems so making sure what amounts are in your feed are crucial when making a nutrition program. Minerals are also just as important as vitamins. Commercial grains are fortified with most essential minerals but it is still important to check what the levels are in your feed.

Of course, water is just as essential as food. Making sure your horse has an adequate amount of fresh, clean water is vital. Dumping buckets and cleaning them out with a specific bucket cleaner or even just a scrubby brush are great ways to keep algae and gross stuff out of your horse’s water. If it’s hot outside but your horse isn’t a fan of drinking water, give them some electrolytes or loose salt encourage drinking.

 

I am an advocate for proper equine nutrition. There are so, so many benefits to making sure that your horse is getting the most out of their food. When I look at a nutrition plan for any horse I follow 3 simple rules:

  1. Quality Over Quantity- Just throwing large amounts of grain at a horse isn’t the correct way to ‘fatten a horse up’. Adding more of certain nutrients is the key. It is just as harmful to feed too much grain as it is to feed too little
  2. Every Horse Is Different- Every single horse has different needs. A plan that works for one, isn’t guaranteed to work for every single other horse you put on it.
  3. Not All Grains Are Created Equal- Every grain has a different make-up of nutrients. Making sure a wide variety of grains that serve different purposes in the feed room is a great idea
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make them shine from the inside out! a strong, shiny coat doesn’t come with only grooming and products, proper nutrition is key!

Every month, I slave over Carina’s nutrition plan to make sure that her diet is always perfect. My tried and true brands, that have never let me down are Tribute Equine Nutrition & Buckeye Nutrition. Both brands own all of their production plants so there is very little chance of contaminants being found in the feed. This also means that you know where they come from. Carina gets Tribute Kalm n’ EZ Pelleted as her main source of nutrients. As a performance horse, she needs a high concentration of fiber at 20% and starches at 13.5%. The fiber helps to keep her digestive tract in good condition while also providing a slow burning energy source. Starches come in for a concentrated energy source.

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With the amount of work she was in, I found that she was having some muscle soreness after every ride, even with cold & massage therapy and supplements for recovery. Even though her grain had a good percentage of protein, I felt it was time to add a protein supplement. Buckeye Nutrition produces a wonderful ration balancer & protein supplement, Gro N’ Win. With a protein level of 32 percent, I saw a noticeable difference very quickly. She wasn’t nearly as sore as before and she started to mold muscle into her topline and become the princess beefcake that she is today.

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As an older horse (13 means she is a teenager now, lord help me) means that has had a lot of miles in the upper-level jumper classes, it was very important that I have a joint supplement into Carina’s diet. Not just as a preventative measure, but also to keep her as comfortable as possible. I personally have found that Finish Line Horse ProductsFluid Action HA Liquid works the best for Carina. Though she loves food, powdered supplements are not her forte. Going with a liquid option was best for her and adding a pump to the bottle makes it easy to feed too! The supplement contains Hyaluronic Acid (HA) to support healthy joint function by lubricating joints and helping to maintain structural integrity. Happy pony = happy life!

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I encourage every owner, rider, hobbyist, whoever, to take the time to look into equine nutrition. I never knew the impact it made until I was fully immersed in the top level of performance horse nutrition by my trainer, Lauren Knopp. By changing my perspective, it opened up a Pandora’s Box of possibilities. There is no need to go and take classes to be an equine nutritionist, but basic knowledge and make a world a difference.

I hope y’all enjoyed this article about equine nutrition! If you ever have any questions feel free to DM on instagram @equestrian.syd!

Until Next Time Preps,

Sydney & The Ponies

Barn Boyfriends

Balancing relationships and horses is not an easy task for anyone. Not everyone is okay with being ditched for a 1,200lb animal that is scared of plastic bags. I have been lucky enough to have found a boyfriend that is incredibly supportive of me and my riding, but I know others haven’t been so lucky.

For some, their significant other (SO) is the hobbiest-horse-liker. This type of SO will come out to the barn with you, on their terms. A little too cold, a little too hot, too many flies, the list of excuses grows longer and longer over time. Do not get me wrong, they still will come out to hang out with you or do some simple tasks. SONY DSCWhile this seems okay to some, I challange you to put this type of SO to the ultimate test… a horse show. If you do try this, let me know how it goes by DMing me on my instagram @equestrian.syd!

Another type is the good sport type. This type of SO will do what they are asked or come to the barn if you want them to. Typically their tasks include taking videos or setting back up a fallen jump rail. Basic things like holding a horse, if they feel comfortable, is also in their job description. They earn the title of good sport because they do the tasks but don’t really have any interest in learning more. But don’t fret, significant others of this type have tons of potential to be really awesome barn boyfriends! Fun fact: my boyfriend started as a good sport type too.

Last but certainly not least, there is the all-in type. The person who gets up at an ungodly hour with you to go to the horse show. The person who supports your passion full heartedly because it is what makes you happy. If you stumble upon this type, keep them around, they are special! 49577874-F6BF-4CE6-8AB4-20CB751E4083.JPGEven though they may not be able to make it everytime (remember, they have lives too) they support you no matter what. Whether it is shining your boots, walking courses with you, or giving some cookies to your pony while you are away.

 

SONY DSCI have been blessed with a pretty darn good barn boyfriend. He never misses an oppurtunity to grow his knowlage about horses or the sport by asking questions. My horse is also Drew’s #2 fan (behind me of course). Maybe it’s because he is known as “Drew The Treat Man” but it’s also because he takes time out of his day to spend time with me and her.  His support of my riding makes me even more grateful for the oppurtunities that I get to spend time with them together. Drew is a competitive lacrosse player as well has having other hobbies like mountain biking and running. While I can’t really run and would probably hit a tree if I tried to mountain bike, I still make sure he is safe and always having fun. Because he supports me and my passion, I support him in his. This basic principle helps making the balance of sport & relationship much smoother and happier.

Although it may seem as though I wrote this article just to brag, that is not my intention. My intention is to show that having a relationship and being passionate about horses is not impossible. Our 1200lb, money-eaters should not drive people away, if they are scared to love a person that is strong and passionate about something, keep on searching. It took me a couple tries too 😉

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I hope y’all enjoyed this post over barn boyfriends! I hope y’all enjoyed and if you have any questions feel free to DM me on instagram @equestrian.syd!

Until Next Time Preps,

Sydney & The Ponies

 

p.s. HUGE shout out to Drew for being such a team player and posing for these photos without a single complaint. I know I can be a little bit bossy to get the shot I have in my mind so putting up with me can be hard. Much love xoxo

How I Travel For Riding

If you know me or follow me on social media, you know that I travel quite a bit to ride. Wellington is my most frequent destination but I also travel around my region to show. From over-packing to underpacking to buying too much stuff that it barely fits in my bag to go home. I have compiled a highlight reel of my how-tos on traveling for riding.

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The number one thing is the size of your bag.  If you don’t pick the right size bag, you could be in for a world of hurt. I tend to go a bit bigger, especially when I am flying. It allows room for extra stuff if/when I buy stuff to spoil my pony. When you are driving to your destination, there is more leniency on space. My bag of choice for flying is the North Face Longhaul 26″ Rolling Duffle. It is only offered in black now but I have one that is a couple of years old and bright orange. With a price tag of $239, you may think it isn’t worth it but trust me, that thing can last an apocalypse. You can find it here. For shorter or driving trips, I choose my Samsonite Leverage LTE 20″ Spinner in purple. You can find it here for $169.99. It’s light, flexible, and easy to maneuver. The size is just right for everything I would need on a daily basis. When driving, I don’t worry about extra space in my suitcase for any goodies I would pick up for my pony since those can just stay in their bag/box and sit in the trunk.

When I travel for riding, I also find that it is best to make a list of exactly what I want to pack. By writing everything out, it allows me to make sure I get all the outfits I want and also not forget important things. Planning outfits are one of my favorite things leading up to any of my trips. Start with the essentials and then add extras such as jewelry, hats, etc. If you are constrained by space in your bag, try delegating a certain amount of space to certain things. The best way I’ve found is by using packing cubes! I use Amazon brand that you can here, but anything of the sort should do. By only giving yourself a particular amount of room, it keeps you from overpacking and not having enough space for other things that you need.

Being at the busy airport and juggling everything, stuff tends to get dropped or lost. Having a small wristlet or wallet is super beneficial. My favorite is the Tucker Tweed Equestrian Wallet in dark chocolate! It’s compact but still has the perfect amount of room some money, cash or cards, a boarding pass, and your passport. By putting all of those things in one place, losing any or all of them is much harder. Tucker Tweed offers this wallet in 7 different colors for $110 on their website here.

 

I hope y’all enjoyed this post over how I travel for riding! If you have any tips that I didn’t mention or want me to explore, feel free to DM me on Instagram @equestrian.syd !

Until Next Time Preps,

Sydney & The Ponies

My Essentials For Black Background Photoshoots

If you follow my Instagram you know that I love to black background photoshoots of my own horses, as well as for friends of mine too. But these photoshoots take quite a bit of work that goes on behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly. After almost 3 years of doing these shoots, I finally perfected what to bring. What better to do than share this list with you!

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Obviously, my number one needed item is my trusty camera! The combo that I love most is the Sony Alpha A700 with my Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD lens. This combination makes for very detailed and sharp shots of our favorite 4-legged best friends. My camera body, the A700, is sadly no longer made but Sony, and other companies to, I’m sure, offer many more camera bodies that offer the same quality image.

Another majorly important item I always need to have a noise making device to get their ears up. Most of the time, a Ziploc bag with some mint wrappers works. But, for horses that like to make the effort to walk towards whatever noise sounds like food, a blender bottle with the shaker ball in it works really well. In a pinch, some grain in a bucket or a jumping person behind the camera works too.

Of course, you also need to have treats. No pony or horse should ever have to stand so perfectly without any reward! The best type of treats to use is ones that is small enough to chew up quickly and a treat that won’t cause that dreaded mouth foam. My preferred treat is Enjoy Yums! They are small enough to conceal in a hand, don’t cause any salivation, and are super healthy. You can purchase a tub of your own here. Say I sent you for a discount!

I also love to have a large reflector on hand for eliminating odd shadows if they do occur. Just make sure to acclimate the horse to the reflector because it can be awfully scary at first (but Playboy says it’s no problem!).

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I hope y’all enjoyed this article! While I can’t give away any of my editing secrets, I am always open to answering your questions! My Instagram DMs are always open and you can send me one here.

 

Until Next Time Preps,

Sydney & The Ponies

Tips & Tricks On Keeping Your Horse Cool in the Heat

During the summer in both Florida and Indiana, it can get pretty warm. With temperatures averaging between the high 70s and high 90s, keeping our horses cool during work is super important. When it becomes too hot, it is best to just spend the day by hand grazing and a nice cool bath.

Just like humans, when horses get super sweaty, they become dehydrated. Dehydration occurs where there is excessive water loss from the horse’s body. Most times, dehydration symptoms are overlooked and can include but are not limited to dry skin, depression, thick and sticky saliva, dullness in the eyes, etc. If your horse does exhibit any of these symptoms, administering fluids and electrolyte solutions are extremely important to stabilize them. But, like with any medical needs, it is always best to consult with your vet. Over-administration of fluids can lead to what is called water intoxication. Some horses don’t suffer such severe complications, but it is vital to be informed on how to handle the situation if it arises.

 

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Photo Courtesy of Snap Crackle Click Photography

 

Baths are vital to helping your horse cool off after a hot ride. It helps to lower the horse’s internal body temperature and cooling them off. Plus, it feels really good for them (and more often than not, you too because the hose almost always ends up spraying your face or body). It also provides the opportunity to white-n-brite your pony if they are grey or have any white markings.

My favorite way to cool my sweaty beast, Carina, is a cool bath with cold soaking on her legs. Cold soaking helps to reduce heat and inflammation in the legs. I find it to be vital for Carina and keeping his tendons and muscles healthy so he can perform at his best. If you don’t have the time to stand there and soak 4 legs, there are tons of great alternatives. Ice boots are what I use in Florida and all the ponies adore them! Soaking boots are also an option if you have a horse that isn’t wiggly and can stand still with them on.

 

These are the just some of my tips and tricks to keep your horse cool during the summer heat! If you have any tips that I didn’t mention, feel free to DM me on Instagram @equestrian.syd !

Until Next Time Preps,

Sydney & The Ponies

The Most Fashionable & Wearable Breeches On The Market: Ghodho

I am a breeches collector through and through. But, as a lover of equestrian fashion as well as practicality, finding breeches can be hard; especially with my super long legs and small waist. Once I found Ghodho through Instagram, I knew I just had to try them out.

My first pair was the Fiona Show Breech in tan. As soon as I tried them on at our local tack store, I knew they were going to be some of my favorite breeches. They fit in all the right places in all the right ways while still having some of the best material. Of course, I immediately bought them, who wouldn’t?!

 

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preparing for blast-off with my #1 girl, Carina

 

The wearability of Ghodhos as incredible. When I went to and showed in Wellington a few weeks back, I wore my Fionas and never had any issues with comfort. My past show breeches would dig into the backs of my legs, the seams legs marks on my legs, etc. My Ghodhos never gave me any of those problems. The breathability is also fantastic. In the hot Florida sun, I never felt over-heated during my rides.

Did I mention that they are super pretty? They seriously have some of the most fun and unique colors on the market along with the traditional ones too. Even if you get a boring tan like me, the stunning faux alligator on the knee patch or patterned silicone seat is the perfect addition.

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Ghodho also has other adorable items that pair perfectly with their equally as adorable breeches. They have 3 color options in their performance sun-shirt, the Aila; lemon-lime, grey, and navy. Also, their cruelty-free belt is made in 6 different colors too; red, black, blue-grey, chrome, fuchsia, and white. If you don’t want (or in most realities for equestrians, don’t need) a pair of breeches, these are awesome additions to your wardrobe or make a good gift to an equestrian friend!

If you want to grab a pair of your own at one of the retailers listed on their Retailers Page or order directly from their Online Shop. Don’t forget to check out their sizing chart (here) though! Ghodho runs a bit differently to other brands so double checking is always good 😉

I hope y’all enjoyed this review! If you have any questions regarding this post feel free to DM me on Instagram @equestrian.syd!

 

Until Next Time Preps,

Sydney & The Ponies

The Importance Of Proper Clothing While Riding

The clothing you choose to wear directly influences the performance of athletes. That is what equestrians are, athletes. If we aren’t outfitted properly to do our work, just like our horses and their tack, we cannot perform at our best.

 

There are multiple factors that play into what you should wear. The conditions in which you will be riding is the largest factor. In the hot weather of summer, the right clothes can help you avoid heat-related illnesses. The best things to choose when riding in the heat are:

– Loose Clothing: Wearing loose clothing allows for air flow to move between the clothing and your skin and naturally cool down your body by evaporating the sweat

– Light Colors: Avoid dark colors since they absorb the UV rays and make the clothing item hot. By wearing light colors that reflect the UV rays will help keep you cool

In colder weather you want to:

– Layer, Layer, Layer: Wearing a moisture-wicking layer closest to your body will absorb the sweat so you don’t get the chills. Outer layers should have vented openings to help your body can regulate its temperature.

– Protect Your Lungs & Extremities: Wear a scarf or face-mask to try to keep as much freezing cold air out of your lungs as possible. Also, wear warm socks and gloves that will promote circulation and keep those fingers and toes cozy.

For both weather types, head protection is vital. While riding, you helmet suffices but if you can, add an external visor that adds extra protection. When off your horse, choose a light hat or visor in the warmth and a wool cap that covers your ears in the cold.

Another big consideration when choosing good riding apparel is your freedom of movement. You want to be able to stretch and bend well. Clothing that is too tight or is not made of a good material is can inhibit your performance. Materials such as microfiber polyester blends that are moisture wicking and stretchy are perfect for it.

I have made a list of my top 3 favorite high-performance clothing items as well as where to find them:

1. Alessandro Albanese Free Button Long Sleeve ShirtDSC09753.jpg

This shirt is hands down my favorite all-weather top for riding. It is the perfect mix of everything you want in performance wear. Did I mention that it is CRAZY cute too?!

You can purchase this shirt through Alessandro Albanese’s sister company, Horseware here

2. Equine Couture BreechesScreenshot 2018-01-08 20.10.34

Comfortable breeches are essential while riding. Until I rode in equine couture breeches, I didn’t know these were breeches that soft, breathable, and flattering. They work on all body types and have the best pattern selection. I own 6 pairs and plan to get more as soon as I can!

You can find Equine Couture products on their website equinecouture.com or other online tack stores

3. Hanes Boys’ 12+1 Bonus Pack Crew Socks

Yes, I wear boys socks because they are much cheaper than women’s socks. These are a reliable, comfy, and cheap sock that you can light on fire and they will still be fine. Extra padding on the toe and heel provide extra comfort while wearing boots for long periods of time in all weather.

You can find these socks at Target and most stores that are similar (ie. Walmart, Kohls, etc.)

I hope y’all enjoyed this post! If you have any questions regarding anything in this post feel free to DM on Instagram @equestrian.syd!

 

Until next time preps,

Sydney & The Ponies

 

Making Connections & Networking Like A Pro

As someone who travels for riding most of the year and has a large social media following in the equestrian community, connections are infinitely important. I would not have the opportunities or knowledge I have today without them. With my experience, I have created a guide for how to make connections. This guide isn’t limited to just equestrian related networking but any networking. You never know when you might need it.

1. Say Hello

This is probably the most daunting task of the entire checklist, saying hello. When greeting them, shake their hand and slap a smile on your face. First impressions are everything so being polite and professional is crucial. If you seem rude and childlike, nobody is going to want to work with you or keep in touch (aka the exact OPPOSITE of what you want).

2. Get To Know Them & Let Them Get To Know You

You don’t need to know their social security number but you want to learn enough about who you are talking to, to be able to make it feel like you are friends. There is nothing wrong with actually being friends with them but you want it to seem that way from the get-go. People are more likely to do things for you if they know you and are friends with you. Ask them the typical get to know you questions, like their name, what they do, etc. If you have trouble with that kind of thing, you can google some.

3. Swap Contact Information

Getting someone’s contact information could mean any number of things. Most commonly it is best to share email addresses or friend each other on Facebook if you are both comfortable. By doing this you open the door for further or future communication.

3 1/2. Say Goodbye

Your conversation doesn’t have to end at swapping contact information. But when goodbyes do roll around, you do want to treat them with as much care as you did with the hello. Shake their hand, tell them it was nice to meet, and yet again, slap a smile on your face. Make them feel that you were happy to speak with them.

4. Identify Who Matters To You

Just because you add someone to your network doesn’t mean that they are the most critical and important part of it. By identifying who is most valuable to you will really help your chances with them. Once you have identified those connections, keep in regular contact. Regular contact doesn’t mean every day but at least 3-4 times per year. You can send them a holiday card if you like or send them a message on their birthday, a little gesture can go a long way. But, just because you are holding some close doesn’t mean that you neglect the others, try to speak with them 1-2 times per year so they know they haven’t been forgotten about.

5. When You Want Something

The entire point of making connections is so that you can get help with certain things that you may not be able to do when it is just you. So, when you want something, make sure you have something to offer in return. Here is where the getting to know them comes in handy. By knowing what their concerns and desires are, you can tailor a proposal to fit them like a glove. If you offer them something in return for what you want it is very appealing and will most likely lead to acceptance of said offer/proposal or further conversation about it until a deal is made.

6. Say Thank You

You liked to be thanked when you do something for someone right? So does everyone else. If they do something for you or try to help you do something, thank them. Even if you are doing something in return, still say it. It makes them feel appreciated and that they matter. It will more than likely help you in the future as the person(s) you are working with will hold you in high regard and when asked by another person(s) for help on your expertise, will likely recommend you to them.

If you ever outgrow being able to manage your network and influence, contact Athletux Equine and they can create a custom package for you. I hope y’all enjoyed my guide to making connections & networking.

I hope y’all enjoyed my guide to making connections & networking. If you have any questions or want to connect with me, DM me on instagram @equestrian.syd !

 

Until next time preps,

Sydney & The Ponies

Keeping Their Brain In The Game

Let’s just admit it, horses are basically giant, fluffy goldfish. They are scared of invisible

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one of my favorite comics about spooky horses!

monsters or even the ever so famous demon, plastic bag *gasp*. With a brain just a bit bigger than a walnut, it makes it easy to get unfocused and bored just doing the same ole’ thing every day. If I were them, I wouldn’t want to jump colored sticks or make fancy circles every day either. It is super important to keep the goldfish happy by keeping their brain happy.

 

With a brain just a bit bigger than a walnut, it makes it easy to get unfocused and bored just doing the same ole’ thing every day. If I were them, I wouldn’t want to jump colored sticks or make fancy circles every day either. It is super important to keep the goldfish happy by keeping their brain happy and mix up the routine. Even just spending a day giving them a good bath and some treats rather than helps. I have compiled a list of my top 6 favorite things to do outside of the ring with my horses that keep their brains happy and healthy.

 

1. Going For A Walk!Screenshot 2018-01-07 23.12.38

This is hands down one of my favorite things to do with any of my horses. Liam loves to see his buddies outside in the fields and grab the occasional mouthful of grass, no matter how much I dislike it later while cleaning his bit. Oh well, happy horse, happy life right? This can be done on or off horseback but if you don’t feel like walking on foot the whole time, bring your helmet along so you can hop on if needed.

 

2. Spa Day!

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Owning two grey horses means that these kinds of days happen a bit more frequently than any of the others on this list, especially since Pearl loves to roll in whatever will make her dirtiest. To learn how I keep my grey as white as possible you can check out my article about it here! Use this time to really scrub out the dirt and give your horse a good massage. When they feel good, they act that way as well.

 

 

 

3. Mini Photoshoot!Screenshot 2018-01-07 23.14.04

As I am an obsessed pony mom, I do these a ton. Taking the time to brush your horse and take some photos is always fun. Plus you get those fun snapshots you can annoy, sorry I mean show off to every single person you meet! If you are feeling super into it, you can even book a pro photographer to go and get high-quality photos of you and your fur babies together. If you don’t want to drop a large sum of money on that, enlist a friend with a camera or even just a camera phone to help you out!

 

 4. Cuddle Time!screenshot-2018-01-07-23-14-36.png

I live for cuddle days. Just sitting around and spending time with my babies make my day twenty times better. Liam loves his neck scratched and when we have cuddle days, I grab that curry comb and become his personal itching post. Pearl, on the other hand, loves to just be pet, no matter where. And when your attention wavers from her, even for a moment, she likes to make it known that she is the princess and demands the pets commence with a good hard booty bump.

 

5. Treat Fest!

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All photo credits to Hunt Club & Inside Turn

This option is very popular amongst my food motivated equines. I really love to make homemade treats and then have a treat fest where the ponies get to choose what they want. If you want a good recipe, check out Hunt Club’s pony poptart recipe here. Eventually, they are all cut off and any leftovers go into the barn community treat jar so every horse can enjoy some spoiling.

 

6. An Off Day!Screenshot 2018-01-07 23.16.57

This may seem odd but giving a horse an extra day off, even if it just every now and again, can be really helpful. I know I love when I have a long weekend and can delay going back to school/work so why wouldn’t they?

 

Bonus: Clean Your Tack!

Screenshot 2018-01-07 23.17.28This one is a bit more geared towards the rider but it helps to horse out too. If your saddle is hard and uncomfortable, you don’t ride at your best. When you don’t ride at your best, your horse can’t perform at its best. If you clean your tack often, give yourself a pat on the back and keep doing what you are doin’!

 

I hope y’all enjoyed my top 6 favorite things to keep your horse’s brain happy. If you have any questions feel free to DM on instagram @equestrian.syd !

 

Until next time preps,

Sydney & The Ponies

Riding With Chronic Pain

In November of 2017, I was diagnosed with genu varum or better known as bowleggedness. It means that the bones in my legs are bowed outward rather than straight. On top of this, I have a medial rotation of my kneecaps, aka my knees turn inwards. The combination of these two things makes things like walking and standing for long periods of time very painful. Long story short, regular everyday things are painful for me if it requires me to be on my feet. Sadly, the only way to truly fix either or both of these problems in big surgeries and if I get just one, that doesn’t guarantee that I won’t need the other.

Over the course of the past year, this pain has started to leak into my riding. I couldn’t ride more than 30-45 minutes at a time without considerably long breaks in between. With my wanting to become more competitive, add more horses to my string, and become a better rider, this pain was a big roadblock holding me back. Most of the time, I would try to push through the pain, but at some point, enough becomes enough. Taking time off was not an option for me, so I had to figure out a system to help me be my best and avoid pain.

After much research and discussions with my doctor, we decided to try physical therapy with bracing and a really cool pair of stirrups from MDC Stirrups. The stirrups have a wide tread that allows for more stability as well as a swiveling top that turns to 45º or 90º. By having the top that turns, it helps to reduce the rotation of the knee/ankle needed to keep the foot straight. In my opinion, it is genius.IMG_1579_Facetune_04-01-2018-01-16-52 With my physical therapist, I do exercises tailored to me and my needs that help to build up muscles in my legs. By building the muscles up, it helps to keep everything in place and not hitting any other bones, tendons, ligaments, etc, leading to less pain. When I ride, I also tape my knees with kinesiology tape. The tape, though it seems like it doesn’t do anything, actually helps to connect muscles and give them support. In doing so, it helps the muscles work more efficiently and makes it so they do not fatigue as easily. After working for about 2 months I have seen some improvement and hope to see more in the future as I continue to work towards getting better.

For me, it has been one tough road. Luckily I have a great group of people that support me. Huge thanks goes out to my orthopedist for seeing my dream and helping me to keep going for it without hurting myself, my parents, my best friend Kelsey for sticking with my crazy self, my trainers Valarie and Lauren for being so understanding of when I need breaks during lessons, and for my patient horse Liam for not trying to buck me off… for the most part. Screenshot 2018-01-07 22.07.21I am pretty sure he enjoys those walk breaks just as much as I do. And a big shoutout to all those other kick-butt equestrians that don’t let hiccups in their life keep them from doing what they love, keep being awesome.

If you ever have questions about anything I mentioned in this article or just need someone to talk to about your own hiccups, feel free to DM me @equestrian.syd on instagram!

 

Until next time preps,

Sydney & The Ponies