From super-power mash mixes, recovery machines, horse spas and therapeutic treatments; here's a little post sharing what we do post-show to keep the horses happy, healthy and fit for the intense Wellington season! Scroll down for more!
The Day After
Fortunately in Wellington, the trip home after a horse show is shorter than the time it takes to load up to go home! This makes it much easier on the horses and is one of the reasons why it's so nice to be in Wellington for the winter.
Once the horses are in the stall and relaxed they get a delicious mash! Now their daily mash changes based on what they're doing, if they're showing etc.
However the day after a show they get a nice watery mash of Mash n Mix (you can easily use your regular mash mix or some beet pulp and hay cubes), their usual joint supplement, a good electrolyte, double dose of the EqMach powder (is an amazing powder, if you can get your hands on it it's fantastic), either Cavalor Muscle Fit or Perfect Prep's Lactalex (super to help them recover and this they get throughout the show and the day after), and finally an ounce of Lixotinic (it's a great energy booster and all round vitamin and blood builder). Also, one thing we do is take them off any calming or energising supplements for the days they have off. It gives their stomachs' a break and also preserves the effectiveness of the supplement.
Once they've sloshed and slurped their mash down, they get to chill and relax and catch up on some Zzzs.
Next thing we do is put them in the Horse Gym USA SPA! Yes spa... no kidding these horses have such a great life hey! You guys can click on the link to learn more from their website, but I absolutely love this machine and have used it with my horses for a few years now both in Sweden and in Florida. Basically, its 1-2 degree cold water that is highly saturated in epsom salt! This is THE best way to cool, tighten and soothe the horses legs. The water goes as high as just above their hocks and is great for a number of things including sore feet, sore tendons and ligaments, sore joints and muscles, arthritis, and even summer sores and florida fungus! My horses definitely love using this and see huge results after just one session, especially after a show or hard workout.
Once the horses come out of the spa, they are next moved onto the Horse Gym USA RELAX! Again, i added the link so you can learn more if you'd like, but its basically an adjustable vibrating floor that also tilts in all directions and has Far-infrared light bulbs. We love this machine vs the other machines out there because of the tilting! This ensures the horses are standing square and alternates the pressure from 4 legs (centred/flat position) to each side of the hoof (it tilts left, right, forward and back due to the plate being on airbags). With the IR sun, the vibrations, and the tilting; this is great for therapeutic benefits as well as core strength.
Other therapeutic things we use are a laser and magnetic-massage blanket. Our laser is the Pharmalight Photizo® Vetcare, though there are plenty of lasers on the market that you can use on your own or have your vet come and do. Make sure you're buying something legit and strong enough though! The Photizo Vetcare laser helps treat any pain, sores, swelling, inflammation, and stiffness of muscles by accelerating the body's own healing process. My 2 Grand Prix horses have different areas we focus on with the laser but the 2 places they both need lots of lasering on is their sacrum and their hips. Great thing about this laser is each treatment only takes around 30 seconds. We do 2-3 treatments on each painful area usually.
We also use the Magnetic-massage blanket I see a lot of people are using too. Im not a huge fan of the massage function on it because I feel its really not that strong, but I do love the magnetic PEMF function and really feel a difference on some horses when I use it before riding. For post show care, we use the blanket once on "S3" (each blanket has its on programs) which is specially for sore backs and sore muscles.
Finally, on that day after the show, the horses often just go on hand-walks and graze in Florida sunshine with myself and/or our wonderful girls, Ciera and Ane. If the weather permits and the ground is good, we turn them out to make sure they are allowed to relax, be alone and think of nothing but horse stuff!
Second Day After
After their relaxation and rejuvenation day, the horses are usually feeling pretty good and fresh! Depending on how our schedule is, we saddle up and go for a nice easy hack.
What they surely do, however, is start their day off with a nice graze and then on the Horse Gym USA RELAX they go. This is great if they're feeling some stiffness from the show, you know that feeling of soreness you usually get 2 or 3 days later? Yep, it sucks! So the vibration and Infrared rays really relax and soothe their sore and/or tight muscles.
After that, they go on the treadmill. We have the Horse Gym USA WALK and use it everyday! Each horse has their own individual program, but usually what we do with them on the 2 day after mark is a nice easy 30 minute walk, flat incline to get them walking forward, swinging their back and help, again, get ride of any tightness and/or soreness. The treadmill is great for their flexibility and is great post-show since they can have a workout without having to deal with my weight on their back or the stress of arena footing.
On day 2 post-show, we often use the magnetic-massage blanket again and laser in between things. Depending on how stressful the show was or how sore they are feeling, we will apply liniments before using the blanket and laser that is safe for magnets (like the Sore-no-more performance spray). Sometimes the horses will go in the SPA again if necessary, or we wait to use it again when the training begins again!
Another important thing i'll mention again is grazing. The horses will go out and graze at least twice a day either with someone or we'll throw some of their hay in the paddock for them to relax and be a horse. It's not just important to rejuvenate and care for their body, it's just as important to take care of their minds!
Third Day After
Three days after the show is usually when we start riding/working again. With my older 2 GP horses, they usually start slow and do a nice forward, stretchy session in a snaffle to get the blood flowing, body awake and prepare for the next days training. With older, experienced horses, its more about their fitness and happiness than training the movements. Of course every horse is different! With our jumpers they will usually go for forward ride and gallop around the track or grass field. My dressage horses are usually very fresh after 2 days of no work so we save the track and grass field work for after a day or 2 of riding ;)
I hope that this was interesting for you guys and maybe gave you some new ideas for ways to create your own post-show program. I realize that a lot of the things we use are high-tech and expensive but trust me, many of these things are worth their weight in gold (especially if you have high-level competing horses or older horses). There are of course many economical options for everything which you should try but please make sure you are educated in everything you choose to use and decide on! Feel free to ask me any questions, I'll try to answer them the best I can! I am planning on doing a Pre-Show Care post in the future so let me know what you'd like to know :)
Finally, every horse is different! Some may need more than others, some may be completely fine with just a good poultice on all four legs. Regardless, each horse should be looked at, analyzed and cared for specific to themself to ensure they can perform at their best and be the happiest horse in the stable! <3