Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Truthful Tuesday

Now that the great closet purge of 2018 is mostly done, I've moved on to cleaning up various junk piles in the house. This weekend was the section of counter in my kitchen that had become the drop box for all mail, magazines, and whatever other stuff that never found a home. It was quite a situation, and now that it's all cleaned up, I feel a lot better about the state of my kitchen. Plus I gained a significant amount of counter space!

While going through all of that, I found more than one envelope containing photos. So obviously, I stopped sorting to look through them all. There were some older photos of Jampy and me in there from I think 2013 or 2014. I'm pretty sure it was the first year I dropped him down to the equitation after not being all that successful together in the jumper ring. I think it was also the first year after he was gelded. He was pretty scrawny looking! It made me stop and think about how my horses have transformed over the years. And that leads to today's confession: It's really hard watching your horses get older. I mean, it's better than NOT getting to do that (I know from having lost my first heart horse, Bud, when he was only 10). But still, it's tough to see. Though in Jampy's case, he looks pretty good right now.

Let's start with Rio, since I've had him longer. This is Rio the first year I had him:
Total Beefcake, amiright? We started out in the children's/adult jumpers. They didn't have high and low back then, they were just set at 3'3" to 3'6" and everyone jumped the same course. Sometimes they split up the kids and the amateurs if there were enough entries. We moved up the next year to the low amateurs, and he retained that beefcake status. I mean LOOK at him! So handsome! We stayed in the jumper ring for most of our show career together, though we did sometimes do a hunter or equitation class. This is him doing some kind of hunter classic, might have been the same year judging by my non-approved helmet:
That unicorn looked the part in any ring you threw him in. Eventually he stepped down to the adult hunters and eq as his legs weren't holding up to the 1.2m jumps any longer. But he still looked amazing. That all changed in the last few years, since his EPM diagnosis. The fact that he made it through the first few months is a miracle so I'm not complaining about the state of his muscle tone. I'm THRILLED he's still here to be the skinny little old man he's become. But it's still pretty tough to watch happen. After the initial diagnosis, he had significant muscle atrophy on the right side of his face, but that was about it. Since last year though, I'm seeing muscle loss throughout his body. He's still handsome, but he's much leaner than he used to be.
Okay, maybe not the hay belly he's sporting... but the muscle tone is gone. I had doc test him for cushings, but thankfully he was negative. So it's just old age doing it's thing we think. Hopefully we can do some work this spring and summer to try and bring some strength back to those old muscles. And if not? Well that's ok too. As long as he's happy and comfortable, I don't care that much what he looks like.

Ok, Jampy's turn! Jampy is interesting to look back on as he's gone through a few changes. I'm not sure where the photos are of when I first got him, but he was a bag of bones by the time he got to me from Europe. As I am now very aware, Jamp is a worrier, and that trip was really hard on him. He spiked a fever in the USDA quarantine and had to stay there longer. Then when he got to the next quarantine for all the stallion testing stuff his legs blew up like balloons. Poor dude. This is why I'm not making him show anymore. Traveling is really stressful for him. Of course so is riding at the far end of my own ring... but I digress...
Jamp arrived to me at the end of August in 2010. Since he was in such terrible shape, I spent the fall just getting to know him at home and trying to get weight on him. It was a snowy winter so he had some time off, but we were ready to roll by the end of spring and started showing the end of May. Here he is that first year in Vermont:
His front end was a lot bigger than the back end, which I always thought was kind of funny. But he was a handsome little stallion, wasn't he?!
This same show was the scene of the crime that eventually stripped Jampy of his, err...,  little jampies if you will. You can read about that incident here if you need a refresher or happened to miss it the first time around.
After this season, we dropped down to the 3' hunters and equitation. My plan was just to get our confidence back and then eventually move back up to the jumper ring. Jampy was a lot less stressed doing that job though, so we wound up just staying in that ring. We did the 3"6" amateur owner hunters a few times, but he's just really not a hunter, so we were generally in the back of the pack.
This scrawny photo is of him that first year in the 3' division:
It doesn't even look like the same horse! Though the back end matches the front a bit better. He was always a tougher keeper than any of the others, requiring a lot more groceries to keep his weight up. I had to be really careful during the show season to keep hay in front of him at all times, or he would get too lean. It was especially obvious when we showed with the BNT and he wasn't under my care. I had to constantly remind them to keep feeding him. Even still, he would come home a bit thinner than he left. Now that he's home all the time, and especially after most of this winter off, he's clearly not that hard of a keeper anymore:
I think we could probably both benefit from a few weeks of intense fitness training... Somehow that tiny butt of his is now significantly larger than the front end. Honestly, though he could obviously use a lot more muscle tone, I think he looks better than he did after being gelded. In his case, he's aging pretty well! He even kind of looks like a hunter now. If only he'd jump like one...

Have you had a horse long enough to see the differences as they age? Any good tips for muscling up an epm riddled senior who's often a bit limpy? (Probably not, but hey, doesn't hurt to ask!)


  1. I still have my first horse, an ottb I purchased when he was 11, who is now pushing 23. He's always been a ridiculously hard keeper, but I made some management changes last summer through this winter and I'm actually super happy with his weight right now (if not his lack of muscle tone lol). But you're right, it can be hard to watch them age :(

    I think you're doing a great job with Rio and Jamp, especially dealing with the curve ball of EPM!

    1. Thank you :) It's wonderful and difficult all at the same time. I do love being for them in their old age after all they've done for me.

  2. Moe used to be the hardest of hard keepers, but sometime in the last year or two, his metabolism (or something, haha) has slowed to a crawl and he is ULTRA FAT. Like, he looks more pregnant than Gina does!

    I think the biggest change I've seen in him over the year is his back- he's getting swaybacked as he ages, though he doesn't seem bothered by it and is still sound and comfortable for riding. Of course, the enormous belly accentuates the swayback.

    Have you ever tried a red cell supplement for Rio? I had Gina on Red Cell Competition (https://www.horsehealthproducts.com/all-products/red-cell-competition-supplement) a couple of years ago, and she packed on muscle like a halter-bred QH. It's kind of expensive, which is why I stopped feeding it, but it definitely worked.

    1. I think Jamp will eventually have a sway back too. I've always needed a riser pad for him, so it seems inevitable. Also the belly definitely makes it look worse!
      Thanks for the suggestion, I've not tried that! I'll chat with the vet to see if it will work with the million other things he's on. Hopefully it could be helpful for him!

  3. I always love seeing these old pictures of them! Maybe it's just because they're all from summer though and I WANT THAT TO BE NOW.

    1. UGH, I'm SO WITH YOU! On both accounts. They were something back in the day, these boys!

  4. I had Carlos for a long while so seeing him transform and his rideability change was awesome, with Ramone and hopefully Dante I'll only have them for a couple years but when you start from scratch all the changes are noticeable.

    1. The changes as they grow up are great ones! But this whole getting old thing is rough.