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Having the chance to share a partnership with your horse is, in my humble opinion, an honor. Getting the chance to work with them day in and day out really allows you to get to know their individual personality. What motivates them. What bores them. What scares them. And even what excites them. When you get a new horse, getting to know them is a process. Over time though, it is rewarding when you start to fall into sync with your horse, and develop the foundation of every important horse and rider relationship-trust. What’s more, I find that creating a partnership, and working to build your horse’s skills and developing their talent from the ground up is one of the most rewarding experiences that I can describe.
I’ve had the absolute privilege of owning my Quarter Horse gelding, Ripley, for over half of his 24 year-old life. Ripley came to belong to me when I lost the ride on a horse that I was leasing, and I think that we found each other. He had some serious abuse issues, and had only Western training when I first got him; it took a great deal of time for me to earn his trust, and then to progress with his dressage training on the flat, and his over-fence training. But the re-training experience is priceless to me; I know feel like Ripley and I know and trust each other completely.
With the freakish mind-reading bond that Ripley and I have, I’ve started to notice in recent years that he has slowed down. Sure, he still loves to gallop out across our back fields, and hurl himself over small jumps, but he has reached his mid-20s. Age happens. And I’ve noticed that Ripley would tend to come out of his stall a little on the stiff side; warm-ups started to take longer, and it would take us maybe a good ten to fifteen minutes of trot work before it would feel like he would loosen up enough to really step out and lengthen his stride. But when we would first start out warming up at the trot, I felt myself flashback to the days when Ripley used to ‘jig,’ because his stride was so short and choppy. He would even be a little grumpy and resistive when I would ask him to lift and carry himself. But for Ripley, I didn’t just notice his performance under saddle suffering; I also could tell when I went out for AM feedings that he seemed to be in a grumpy mood. He just seemed to be on the irritable side in the mornings, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
For the majority of the time that I’ve owned Ripley, he has not been on any kind of supplements; it has only been in the past few years that I’ve found the benefits of using supplements to fill in nutritional gaps in my horse’s diets. With the signs of age that Ripley has shown, I definitely felt as though I needed to do something to try to help ease any discomfort that he might be experiencing, and to help maintain his joints. After all, what else does my long-term equine partner deserve? So I was very excited when I recently had the chance to try Joint Armor, from Kentucky Performance Products.
When I started Ripley on Joint Armor, the first thing that I noticed was how good the supplement smells when you open the lid–I’ve heard someone describe it as smelling like cake batter, and I don’t think that’s far off! The jar may not seem overly large at first glance, but a maintenance dose is only one scoop per day. The 1.16lb container of Joint Armor contains a 75 day supply of the supplement, when administering a maintenance dose (one scoop). For the first 28 days, I gave Ripley two scoops of Joint Armor (to get him through the “loading dose” period, to ensure that he was absorbing the ingredients properly). I found that Ripley ate his Joint Armor without any qualms whatsoever (although, who wouldn’t want to eat a supplement that smells like cake batter?).
Within the first two weeks of starting on Joint Armor, I could start to tell a difference in Ripley’s demeanor; he started to have his ears pricked, and look excited when I would come out for AM feedings–rather than have them back or to the sides, along with his grumpy face. I could also tell the difference when he would step out of his stall for daytime turnout–his stall is part of a shed-row barn, so he has a beam to step over on his way out. Stepping over the beam to come out of his stall started to look easier for him; and he just gave an air of being happier overall.
And under saddle? Let’s just say that I started to notice a difference pretty quickly! Again, within the first two weeks of starting on Joint Armor, I noticed a difference in Ripley. After tacking him up and mounting up, he had a little bit of an extra bounce in his step. And I certainly noticed that it didn’t take nearly as long for Ripley to warm up enough to be comfortable stepping out. After about a full month of Joint Armor, I would say that I observed even more of a difference than I did at the two week mark; the stiffness that always overshadowed Ripley’s warm-up was something that I was having trouble noticing at all. Ripley actually wanted to move forward for me. Right off the bat. He also was much more willing when I asked him to get on the bit and carry himself, which is something that he had really been starting to fight me on pre-Joint Armor. And I feel much better about asking Ripley to tackle small fences–he certainly gives me the impression that he feels good doing it, since he seems to hurl himself over them.
Now that Ripley is about through his very first container of Joint Armor from Kentucky Performance Products, I will absolutely continue to keep him on a maintenance dose of the supplement going forward. Ripley has been a great equine partner for me for many years, and has taken care of me while I’ve been in the saddle; and now he has reached the point in his life when I need to take care of him and look after any special needs that he has. Joint Armor has really seemed to help to ease Ripley’s stiffness–both coming out of his stall in the morning and during his warm-ups under saddle–and it also seems to help him move better. I like the results that I’ve seen with Ripley on Joint Armor so much, that I also want to start my two younger geldings in training on the supplement as well, as their activity level increases. Suffice to say though, that I’m extremely happy to see Ripley feeling much more like his old self again.
Go Joint Maintenance. Go Kentucky Performance Products. Go Eventing.