ShrekShrek jumping

About a year ago I started the quest to buy  a new horse.   I had my heart set on a WB although had never owned one before. 

For what I could afford, I was really going to be looking down the path of a freshly broken 3 yo with all the uncertainties that go with a young green horse and my competition riding would have to go on hold for 12 months. 

After looking at many, a friend suggested I just drive over the mountain and try an Irish Sporthorse who was in his second season of eventing. 

I had previously owned and ridden an Irish horse in New Zealand that was very versatile.  Hence my visit to Cushavon Park to meet Cushavon Beauvara, lovingly known as Shrek. 





Vicky and Shrek

He was 6yo and a handsome fellow and just my favourite size 16.1hh.  From the moment I threw a leg over him, it felt like my decision was made. 

Apparently he had been a little quirky with some riders and been known to toss off the bossy ones!  Everything about him was fun but he had a few underlying insecurities and I knew my personality would give him confidence. 

I rode him about 3 times and also schooled him round a cross country course.  He had never been in a straight load float before but some gentle lessons soon had him happily going on and off.  I thought the transition to his new home would be uneventful but how wrong was I!

I remember the day I brought my precious new cargo home over the mountain to his new home.  He was going to live in a shelter yard at night and be paddocked during the day.  I like to follow a natural diet for my horses of fat and fibre and offered Shrek some white chaff, speedi beet, some vitamins, minerals, salt and oats.  He was not at all impressed by my offerings but ate the sweet grass hay.

The Symptoms Start...

His previous routine had been stabled during the day and paddocked at night by himself but with other horses over the fence.   His day paddock was hilly with a horse over the fence at the top end and he could see other horses on the property.  While I was with him, all seemed OK but as soon as he was let go, he wouldn’t settle and ran his legs off and began damaging the property where I agist. 

At night he was refusing to eat and he walked so much I taped him into a tiny area with the shelter to give his legs a rest.  He was very unhappy and I was very anxious.  In the end I had to buy feed that he was used to and gradually introduce the more natural diet.   I tried all sorts of combinations in order that I could get some quality minerals into him.  Some days were better than others.  At any time if the property owner changed horses around, he would just run and run and become unsettled again.  Even the ride on mower was enough to throw him off the rails.

You can imagine when the rains came, how much mess he was making in the paddock.  Eventually the owner came and said to me that he would have to be put in the stable during the day.   I would come out in the afternoon and ride him and then he went in the paddock for an hour or two.  He seemed to settle and graze after being ridden so that was his pattern.  He absolutely loved the security of the stable and at last, he seemed to be happier. 

I persevered through good days and bad but eventually Shrek accepted the Provide Plan.  I introduced him to Alleviate to settle his nerves and then the XtraCal and Supreme vitamins and minerals.

At the end of a very successful competition season, I discontinued the Alleviate and just rode him twice a week.  I noticed he soon reverted to being anxious on the road and the slightest thing would turn into a major event in his eyes.  I quickly put him back on daily Alleviate plus Xtra Cal, Supreme and added Toxdefy.  Also at times when the grass is growing furiously, I give him less grazing time as I noticed he becomes “grass affected” and does things out of the ordinary.   If I have an important competition looming, I try and have him on a really even keel so I can expect the best from him.

Shrek is now the best eater and eats 5-6 biscuits of sweet Rhodes hay per day.  He comes out of the box in the morning and having eaten 4-5 biscuits of hay overnight, still lines up for more in the paddock.  I also give him two different oils.  50ml of Performa-3 and 50ml organic coconut oil.  I trialled micronized barley and oats but I think he was more reactive on the barley so have gone back to just oats 1kg/day.

Shrek now...

Vicky and Shrek

He is performing like a charm and I have found a new love of eventing which was never really my discipline but one Shrek excels in.   He is a wonderful horse to take anywhere but still very mindful of the horses he was raised with.  I took another horse in the float with him for the first time recently and although a little clingy, was focussed on me when it counted.   He never has a day off his feed anymore and looks a picture.  

Shrek jumping

Without the Provide It Plan, I think I would still be battling with his insecurities and condition.  It has been a challenging year but I am pleased to say that we both sleep at nights now.  I am also very grateful to Jacki where Shrek lives as she has also done everything in her power to make him feel at home also.
It has been a challenging year but a great learning curve.  I have never owned a horse so sensitive to change.  He chose me to own him and I have become a far better listener.  Together we have worked out what brings the smiles to both our faces. 


Shrek you are the one ! 

For more about Vicky and her horses click here