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Vivien's Journey

Shandy is jumping calmly
Shandy out there jumping calmly now!

"I had loosely followed the CHH feeding regime with my horses for many years after having a horse that developed a head flick.

I sprayed out the clover in the paddocks, and finding it very hard to source no rye and clover hay, leased 3 acres next door and resowed it in prairie grass, cocksfoot and grazing brome. This paddock made the perfect horse hay!

My horses were not on a track but had access to hay 24/7 all year round, and I limited the grass over spring and autumn. I fed soaked beet, salt, Timothy chaff and Graze Ezy and/or SOS when required. This system worked perfectly for many years, until the year from hell.

Usually, the area where I live has hot dry long summers, and often droughts, where the grass burns off to virtually nothing some years, which is perfect for the horses as they have a great source of hay, and they will often choose to eat hay first over the grass in the paddock.

This past summer rained, and rained and rained, then rained some more! The spring was so wet we could not cut our hay, which is usually done in late December, early January.

I had to buy more hay to get me through to a time when we could cut ours. It was difficult to source any as nobody in the district had been able to cut either, so ended up buying hay that had clover in it.

I also had to feed smaller amounts to make the hay last, and let the horses have full access to the grass which was growing like crazy as it was so wet and warm.

Because the hay paddock was locked up the horses were grazing a paddock I had not been able to re-sow yet (to resow takes planning, time and money so I had been trying to do a paddock at a time every second year). It was sprouting small toadstools all through the paddocks, and the main grasses were rye grass, paspalum and kikuyu.

At that time I had a 16.3hh 17 year old retired TB, a miniature pony and a 5 year old QH cross. I bred the quarter horse cross Shandy, who was to be likely my last riding horse in my older years. Although I wasn’t too keen on going through all the young horse stuff he was generally quiet so I took him to a reputable trainer to be started and he had 8 weeks under saddle there.

I went to visit and ride him a few times while he was at the trainers, and he was perfect. They gave him glowing reports, how he was leading out the other young breakers in the first week, and he was the horse they put a visitor on who had not ridden for years and she rode him out over the farm safely.

For the first summer I took him out to various places, and although he could get a bit tense when out, I was a bit nervous as I had been away from riding a few years and it was the classic older rider, horse not worked enough, so blamed myself.

He had a break over winter then back into work in the spring. I now know I was missing the signs of him being grass affected, he became sensitive around his muzzle and he disliked being brushed and pulled grumpy faces.

This progressed slowly that spring into being spooky, tense and nappy to ride away from his paddock mate.

I took him to a horsemanship trainer to help me with more leadership as I thought this behaviour was due to my lack of confidence.

It certainly helped my confidence but there was still that tension, he would even sometimes blow like a trumpet and prance around at new places, which was not only embarrassing but unnerving for me when I knew I had to get on him.

After a disastrous 4 day trip away where he spooked, shied and shot sideways at imaginary monsters, I took him back to the person who started him to ask their opinion as this was not fun for either of us!

She couldn’t believe he was the same horse as he was so tight in the body and reactive, after a week there he had slightly improved but I collected him with the advice from the trainer that he had a mineral imbalance.

So I emailed Jenny and Cathy at CHH immediately, and got a response the same day. The advice was to get him completely off the grass for the interim, feed SOS, more salt and and a high dose of AlleviateGold morning and night.

After a week on the feed regime he became softer in the eye and body. He was so much happier within himself and within 2 weeks the spooking stopped. I began riding him again and actually enjoyed it!!!

He has been out again getting some jump schooling and I have been having lessons. Don't get me wrong, he was not suddenly the perfect horse! But now I was dealing with a horse that was trainable and could listen, rather than just reacting in an extreme manner.

He is now back on winter grass, getting Graze Ezy, CHH minerals and salt (definitely don't forget the salt!) and Ad Lib hay.

Spring is now just around the corner and thankfully I feel like I have a game plan if now if I see any signs of being grass affected.

During the course of all this we had a devastating cyclone which caused major flooding in my region. 11 people lost their lives in that cyclone, and so many more lost everything, homes, stock, pets and many horses also sadly died. It was a very traumatic time and the recovery is going to be a long slow one.

I want to thank CHH for all the help they provided post cyclone, helping to source hay (thankyou to all those who so kindly donated) and feed for donation, and donating minerals to those that had lost so much. Thanks guys!!!

Viv Robinson (Hawke’s Bay)

PS I include a photo of one of his hooves - you can see the event lines from the time when he was a bit of a mess! And then the nice growth once he was off the grass and on the Premium MVA minerals.

New Hoof Growth
New Hoof Growth

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