Apparently Al is a Liver Chestnut

Bernice and Al arrived back home yesterday. Bernice (Affair At Midnight) is one of the broodmares at work. She’s been away for breeding. Al is her foal.

We haven’t seen Al for quite a while and though he went away a bright red chestnut, it looks like he’s shedding out to a liver chestnut. Which is going to make him pretty spectacular I think.

Al is by Alumni Hall (thus the name… clever isn’t it? Yeah, not so much… the boss picked it LOL!), a son of A.P. Indy.

He was being very social today. Here he is meeting Paris (one of our three year old fillies).

All the meeting and greeting set off a total silly attack amongst the mares. Dora and Loula are both young mares fairly recently off the track. Given that even our old mares are capable of some high energy routines, it’s not surprising that these two were strutting their stuff.

Selenium Research

I’m still obsessing over the whole selenium thing, and have been reading a lot of research papers and scholarly articles. It does appear that performance horses, despite all the dire warnings about toxicity on feed labels etc., need substantially more selenium than idle horses. Just exactly how much extra is not clear though, and toxicity definitely is possible at not a whole lot more than the required amounts. Supplemental amounts depend on the selenium availability in local soil. Around here, in southern Ontario, selenium is pretty much zero. So we definitely need supplementary selenium. And most likely in somewhat more than conservative levels. Which means that you pretty much have to monitor selenium levels with regular blood tests (oh and there are two different tests… serum and whole blood – I’m still trying to figure out which is better under what circumstances and why).

Selenium bioavailability is also an issue. Organic selenium is better than sodium selenite, and this has been proven in multiple studies. I’ve only found a few supplements that are available locally which contain the organic type (selenomethionine, or selenium yeast) though . So far I’ve identified Sel-E-Nium (Herbs for Horses), Selenium (Riva’s Remedies), Elevate SE (Brooks Feeds). There is also a company out west that has one, but they don’t have dealers in Ontario. There are quite a number of organic selenium supplements available by mail order of course, mostly in the US.

Some of the best articles/studies I’ve found (or at least the most pertinent and understandable to my non-scientific brain!) have been from Kentucky Equine Research (who also produce the Elevate SE supplement sold by Brooks).

This article suggests that while 1mg per day is sufficient for mature, idle horses to prevent deficiency, 2.5 to 3.5 mg per day is a more reasonable dose for performance horses. Then later in the article she states that anything from 1 to 10 mg total from all feed sources per day is safe to feed, but to stay below 20mg which may be a toxic dose.
Selenium: How Important Is It?

Here is a study from Kentucky Equine Research that shows that after exercise, horses that are supplemented with Sodium Selenite excreted more selenium in their urine than they did during non-exercise days. Horses supplemented with organic Selenium (yeast based) did not excrete extra selenium after exercise.
Effect of Selenium Source on Selenium Digestibility and Retention in Exercised Thoroughbreds
In both selenium types, plasma and whole blood selenium levels went up immediately after exercise, and remained elevated after 4 hours post exercise. 24 hours after exercise, horses supplemented with Sodium Selenite dropped to lower blood/plasma levels. Horses supplemented with organic selenium remained elevated.

I’m going to quote a paragraph from the next study…
“Inorganic and organic forms of dietary Se supplements are metabolized differently (Surai, 2006). Selenomethionine is actively transported through intestinal membranes during the absorption process and non-specifically incorporated into tissue proteins in place of Met during protein synthesis (Schrauzer, 2003). In contrast, inorganic Se is absorbed via passive diffusion and little is retained in tissue reserves. Consequently, a large proportion of inorganic Se is excreted in the feces and urine (Wolffram, 1999). ”
Effect of Selenium Source and Dose on Selenium Status of Mature Horses
There is a whole lot more information in that study that I really don’t understand too clearly. But it does seem obvious that organic selenium (selenomethionine or selenium yeast) is processed more easily and will correct deficiencies more quickly than inorganic selenium (Sodium Selenite).


Dirty Diego

I really love my horse. He’s a grey. And he likes to be clean. Unlike SOME grey horses I could name. King had a bath today, and he did go and roll. But he seems to pick clean dirt. Because two hours later he was spotless again.

Diego on the other hand. Well Diego is special. He is the dirtiest. The grimiest. The most disgusting horse here. By far. And it makes me laugh every time. Because he belongs to Misha. This is the woman who comes home from a party at midnight and sees dust on a side table when she turns the light on. And gets out the duster and the Pledge and POLISHES the damn table before going to bed. It makes her insane to have a dirty horse.

This makes me laugh, because I am NOTHING like that. Believe me. And I have the clean horse 🙂

Check out the pictures… Click on the pics to see them a bit larger if you want.

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Dirty Diego, posted with vodpod

Vet Call

Diego is up to his old tricks again. He somehow managed to cut himself on the inside of his right front leg, high up near his chest. It’s not serious, but bad enough that Misha called the vet in to be sure that there was nothing yucky in there.  The vet cleaned it up and gave him a shot of penicillin just in case.

I told him about King’s additional cramping incidents, and the comments from the vets at the ride (who all seem to think selenium is the issue). He was quite interested (and amazed that King is not getting any concentrated feed yet despite all the miles he’s been doing), and would like to see King’s blood test results from the ride. He also wants to do an additional blood test in 6-8 weeks to see where the selenium levels are at after extra supplementation. He has the supplement that one of the vets recommended… Vetre-Sel-E. It’s only available through a vet. You can’t buy it at feed stores. So I’ll go over next week and pick it up.

Brooke is very chuffed with Dressy right now. They were just out in the round pen, practicing cantering on a voice cue. Most of the time it was sort of rough 4-beat. But she did get some moments of proper canter. And they also practiced a few jumps over tires. Dressy looked pretty pleased with herself. And Brooke was gleeful (mind you… Brooke is always gleeful around Dressy).


Parker Raced Today

Parker (Danish Spirit) raced at Woodbine today. He was in a race that was a little above his level, so his 4th place finish was pretty respectable actually. Here’s the video…


I picked up King’s test results a few days ago. These are the blood tests that were done a few days after Aprilfest. All of his electrolytes were in the lower part of the normal range. Selenium was also low/normal. But barely. The reference range is 0.12 – 0.18. His level was 0.12. So he’s right on the cusp of being deficient.

I’m still waiting on the results from last Sunday. He had blood taken right at the time of the pull (when the cramps first hit), and then again four hours later. So that will be interesting to see.

But for now, I’m treating him as selenium-deficient. It would make sense. All the other horses here get some sort of supplemental feed, so they are getting selenium in that, in addition to whatever they get in their supplements. Due to his weight problems, King gets only hay, and a handful of beet pulp or roughage chunks to mix his supplements into. And because I was being conservative about selenium, he was only getting a maintenance dose of that. I’ve been reading madly on selenium over the last few days, and given his workload over the last six months, he really should have been getting double that. At least. The symptoms fit too.

I’ve searched for commentary from endurance vets online, and found that most of them are recommending that endurance horses have selenium blood test values in the middle or high end of the reference range.

I have now switched him to an organic selenium, instead of the selenium salt that most supplements use. It’s supposed to be much more bio-available. It’s going to take a while to get his levels up though.

Dressy With the Kids

Dressy is very fond of children. Despite being a big moose sometimes, she becomes very soft and maternal around kids. Shenice, who is Misha’s niece came to watch the competition, and ended up playing with Dressy a lot.

She learned how to do some basic clicker training. Leading the mare around in a circle, then treating her. Dressy was very sweet with her and walked slowly with her head down, leading easily. Far more easily than she ever does when there are no small children or treats involved! And she’s extremely gentle taking treats. Shenice is a very cheerful kid with a very cheerful and rather piercing voice. Didn’t seem to faze Dressy one bit.

Despite being a very bossy mare with other horses, she can also be like this with her herd at home. She is rather merciless with misbehaving subjects, but if any horse is picking on another herd member and goes too far, Dressy steps in and defends the victim. It’s okay if she’s merciless, but not any other horse. I once saw her stop on her way in to dinner to go back and shepherd Chrystal’s youngster, Seneca, through the gate safely when another horse was driving him back. She didn’t even like Seneca particularly, and dinner was waiting (which usually involves Dressy barging through a wildly scattering herd to get to the head of the line). But no one was going to be picking on babies on her watch.

And here she is with Brooke, the junior who is riding her this year. Dressy loves Brooke.

And of course, Brooke loves Dressy. Yesterday she sent me a text wishing Dressy a happy birthday. She saw Dressy’s registration info with her date of birth on it and has memorized it. I imagine Dressy is going to be introduced to carrot cake this weekend.

Vegas Raced Today

Vegas raced today at Woodbine. He’s had a history of bad luck, and got a late start as a racehorse. But he’s an awesome horse to watch gallop. The jockey commented after this race that he “ran green”. Which just means that he was a bit confused and unsure about what was happening, so wasn’t very focused. But he doesn’t look bad here at all and ended up a strong fifth. He’s the 10 horse in pink/purple silks.


So apparently my idea of a fast trail, and other people’s is quite different. Many thought that Spring Ride was a very tough and technical trail with a lot of hills. So I’m thinking that no one is ever going to believe my estimation of a trail again 🙂

Maybe it’s because I live on top of a moraine, which means that I don’t have any flat trail anywhere around home. So I don’t notice hills so much, and neither does King generally. He has lived on a vertical slope his whole life. I actually thought that the hills on that trail were not particularly steep with the exception of the one hill on the white loop. And even that didn’t seem all that enormous to me. I have a couple of hills like that on our Jefferson Forest loop, so I thought it was kind of normal since we go up and down that all the time. I think the Dufferin Forest trail is quite a bit harder than the Ganaraska trail with all that deep sand. It also occurred to me that I always pick more difficult trail whether for training or for competition because King is so much better behaved when he has something to think about. Not to mention that I have only ever competed in Ontario, where there are either hills or rock, or both.

But what did throw me a bit was that many thought the footing was tough. I found the 9 mile white loop a bit rough in spots. But the other two two loops seemed really good to me. King and Dressy both found the blue loop easy enough except for the bit of road at the end with some sections of loose rock. But even there, King seemed to clatter over most of it easily enough barefoot since the rock was just randomly mixed through loose sand. I think maybe that after the torrential rain through the week there were more washouts though. And Misha pointed out that the last four miles were the toughest, and that was common to multiple loops. Which is a good point. I only rode that once when I pre-rode it all. Whereas the 50 and 75s rode it over and over again, which multiplied the effect.