The fields and the small arena dried out enough to ride by Wednesday, so ride I did, and Eli, true to regained form, physically felt pretty much as he usually does. I am hoping to be able to accomplish a lot more this evening, as far as with flat work and pole work.
I’ve been flatting him in roller ball spurs, which seem huge to me, but I like Eli’s responsiveness to them–responsive, but not reactive. There is definitely a difference between the roller balls and the PoW spurs I had been using. I guess the PoWs are pokier, and Eli seems generally more easily irritated by them than the roller balls. Either pair, I wear quite low, so I have to actively raise my heel if I want the spurs to reinforce a leg aid that Eli is not paying enough attention to. It rarely happens, but having that secondary aid as back up is pretty important as far as keeping any horse responsive. The longer I ride, the more I profoundly realize the beneficial truth of George Morris insisting on a rider always wearing spurs. But of course, I usually take the roller balls off for jumping–I’m not THAT confident in my leg position. Ah, well, I can hang onto that as a tangible goal for later.
Eli scored a little more sparkle. If he’s going to wear the fly mask, I guess the sparkle isn’t as visible. But I KNOW it’s there. This alone is satisfying enough. Eli’s browbands and bonnets will continue to twinkle. He will also be scoring some white BoT polos …
Polling the internet is always fun, yes? So I’ve been seeking a healthier and more environmentally-friendly alternative to Conrad’s Nylabones. He’s a voracious chewer, so he’s got to have something. But he goes through the Dura Chew Nylabones in a matter of days before they are so chewed up I have to toss them, and they are not recyclable (I asked the company). And it bothers me that he can bite off tiny pieces that for the most part I watch him spit out, but what if he did swallow them? I’m not happy about that possibility. So I scoured the internet and found a lot of positive things about antlers. I had given him a small whole deer antler once, after trying antlers the first time around, but the shape of it was hard for him to hang on to for him to chew. So then I read that split antlers might be better for smaller dogs. And EVERYTHING I could find said that antlers themselves would not splinter. So I picked up a few splits and gave Conrad one last night. And of course he managed to splinter off a small chunk of antler within an hour. No, not the marrow–I’m fine with him drooling on that and eating small pieces of marrow, as it is spongy and digestible. I eat cooked marrow occasionally myself and it’s so funky and velvety and amazing. No, this was actual antler, splintered off. This meant sharp edges that resulted in me distracting Conrad with bacon so I could toss the antler, plus I think he may have cut his gum because some of the marrow looked a little pink. My next idea is to give him a whole elk antler in the hopes that he will not be able to splinter that. I also do give him ball and rope toys, but those are not as satisfying for him to chew on and he loses interest quickly. I have thought of soaking cotton rope in beef broth or something like that, but it would have to be homemade beef broth or the sodium would be way too high, and I don’t exactly have occasion to cook stuff that leaves me beef broth. He has a few Kong toys, but again, he’s not that into them. (Except this one squeaky piggy Kong thing that I had to take away from him because he got completely weird and stressed out while trying to chew it–normally the chewing relaxes him.)
So dog people, what do you think of antlers? Or raw marrow bones from the butcher? What do you suggest for a smallish dachshund with the jaws and chomping alacrity of a bull breed? I am also slightly worried he might crack a tooth, but the benefits of chewing outweigh that worry right now. He does have a sensitive digestive system, so I can’t give him “greenies” or rawhide, and I’m worried hoof or horn would be too much like rawhide. And I won’t give him anything that isn’t made in or from the US or Canada (another reason to like antlers–the good ones are hand-harvested after being naturally shed).