photo by
Tales of Taco the Wonder Horse and his ammy rider on their way to a Training Three Day

Saturday, January 22, 2011

For Sale: Black Country Tex Eventer (Magic Taco Dust included at no charge)

To my dismay, last fall I discovered that my beloved Black Country Tex Eventer is slightly too small for me.  It is 17", but it has extra-forward flaps and I thought that was enough to accommodate my very long hip-to-knee measurement. Saddle fitter Kate Wooten, however, burst my bubble.  She thought that having a larger seat size would reduce my tendency to pivot on my knee over fences.

Fast forward to now, when I have ordered the exact same saddle in 18", and with gold welting around the seat (can't forget the gold welting!).  As much as I adore my current Tex Eventer (it came to me via a dear friend), I must rehome it so that I can afford the new one.  So here are the details:

Black Country Tex Eventer (non-monoflap), 17", medium wide with extra-forward flaps. Perfect for long-legged riders. Wither gussets, trapezius panels. brown Vintage leather. Excellent condition.  Asking $1700.

And here are some photos:

I've enjoyed many spectacular rides with this saddle between Taco and me. Who knows, it might be infused with Magic Taco Dust!

Drop me a line either on the comments section below or at cookiepony at gmail dot com if you are interested.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ask Taco: What are competitions?

Q. Dear Taco,
I am 2 years and 7 months old.  Everyone says that I will go to something called a "competition" one day.  What is that?


Rugie: only 2 years and 7 months, but big! (With mentor Star in the background)

A. Dear Ruger,
Since I love you like a son, I want you to have a very good life.  Competitions are hard but I have found that all of the work is worth it.  The kind of competition that you will go to is called eventing, and you have to be very good at several things when you do eventing.  You will have three rides: dressage, cross country, and showjumping.

The humans do competitions for very complicated reasons, including competitiveness, having fun, being with their human friends, and getting their picture taken (I'm not sure why this has so much appeal but they seem to really like it).  We do it because they ask us to, and because many of us (myself included) enjoy it very much.

I must admit, however, that I do not love every single moment of competitions.  Take dressage, for example.  I am very good at dressage, and I enjoy pleasing Stacy when I do it well, and I love to look fancy while I do it.  But after a while I get a little bit less enthused, because it seems a little bit repetitive to me.  I know that you will be good at dressage because your dad is Routinier, and he has mad dressage skillz.

On the other hand, the other two phases are both jumping.  I really, really love to jump.  I bet you will, too, because I heard that your mom Goldie is a daughter of Galoubet, and he was a really great jumper.  On the cross country, you will be asked to jump a variety of things that look different, but they are really very similar to each other.  Mainly they are round, loglike things, or sloping, rampy things, or up a step, or down a step, or into water, or out of water, or over a hole in the ground, or on an uphill slope or a downhill one.  And then all of these things can be combined with each other.  But you just remember that they are all the same things that just look different.  And Amy will never ask you to jump over one that you cannot make it over, so trust her and jump them all, and go as fast as she asks you to go.

Showjumping is the other jumping part.  The trick with the show jumps is that they can fall down if you hit them as you are going over.  So pick your feet up when you jump!  Also, they might have different colors but they are all just painted poles.  You do not have to be afraid of them.  Size up the jump from bottom to top and then go as high as you need to to make it over.  As I said, jumping runs in your family, so don't worry about making it over any of them.  Just listen to Amy as she helps you get ready to jump them.

Doesn't all of that sound fun? Furthermore, I happen to like the hustle and bustle of the show grounds, and seeing all of the different horses around me.  Sometimes I even get to see old friends.  But the best part is actually at the end, when the humans are happy that you have done a good job.  You can get pretty much as many carrots as you want at that point. 

Finally, I know that she gets a little annoyed with you sometimes, but Star, your neighbor and pasture-mate, also knows a thing or two about competitions.  If you ask her nicely (remember, she is a distinguished elder), she might tell you some stories, like how fast she can read the options in a water complex, and just how fast she could go.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ask Taco: What Do You Eat?

Q. Dear Taco,
Could you tell me what you eat? My mom is on a quest to find food for me that gives me energy, keeps weight on me, doesn't make me overly exuberant, AND... doesn't make me fart! We do NOT like horse farting at Run For It Farm as it means my stomach is not happy. I didn't fart at Aunt Lellie's farm, but started it again once I came home (though I must say, I have been an absolute prince about everything!) We share similar traits as do our Moms, so please reveal your daily diet!
Many thanks - I wish you lots of carrots!
Rasta Mon

A. Dear Rasta,
Humans are constantly trying to figure out diets for us that do all of those things, especially the part about providing energy without wildness.  While we enjoy feeling our oats, so to speak, they get a little worried about staying on our backs.

The other problem is making sure that what we eat provides the right nutrients and is good quality.  It is hard to know this sometimes, because every horse is different and just about every feed company says that their product is high-quality.  Also, it is often very difficult to find out important nutrition information from major feed companies, such as the exact ingredients.  This is because many of the companies only guarantee the amounts of certain nutrients (protein, fat, and fiber), but not the ingredients themselves, which allows the companies to vary the ingredients depending on what is cheapest to purchase at any given time. 

So, after a lot of research, Amy decided that she did not want to feed a commercially mixed feed in addition to the nice pasture and hay that we eat.  She decided to feed a combination of soaked molasses-free beet pulp and steam rolled oats to us.
-The beet pulp is delicious.  It is the product left over when the sugar and molasses are removed from sugar beets, and is mostly pectin.  It has been called a "super fiber," because it contains a fairly high amount of easily digestible calories but not a lot of starch or other non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs), and it holds lots of water and thus helps us regulate hydration.  NSCs are not so good for us in large quantities, because they can disrupt the acidity in our hindgut and they tend to make us a little excitable. I wonder whether your farting problem might mean that your hindgut is not working too well.  Beet pulp is a great way to add energy without adding lots of NSCs-- it has about 36% NSCs. It has the added benefit of increasing water intake when it is fed wet (some people feed it dry but it is much less tasty and much more likely to cause choke that way).
- The oats are also very delicious.  They add additional calories to the diets of those of us who are working harder, but they contain some fiber as well as some energy and not as many NSCs (46%) as other grains (such as corn, at 64%).  Rolling them (so that they look like Quaker oatmeal) slightly increases the availability of the nutrients, but it also means that they should be fed fairly soon after rolling or the nutrient value drops.

Because neither the beet pulp nor the oats contain balanced micronutrients and very little fat, I also get a multivitamin (SmartVite Performance Grass Pellets) and some Omega Fatty Acids (SmartOmega).  I also gets lots of carrots, and sometimes apples and peppermints.

Recently, however, Amy has been consulting with a representative of Pennfield Equine Feed Technologies. Although she has avoided commercial feed preparations because of inconsistency and uncertain quality, she has been very impressed with Pennfield.  They always keep the ingredients the same in each batch of feed, so that digestibility and nutrient availability stays the same.  They make nutritional information very easy to find on their website.  And they are very committed to each ingredient being extremely high quality.  They have impressed Amy, and Amy is very difficult to impress when it comes to feed!  She also would like to feed something that does not require supplementing added vitamins and trace minerals.  So she has decided to start us on Pennfield.

First, we will start eating Phase V Senior's Energized Choice, a textured feed that contains our old friend beet pulp, plus barley and two more super fibers: soybean hulls and alfalfa meal.  Even though this feed is called "senior," it is good for us competition horses because it is high in protein, fat, and fiber and is very digestible.  It is 25% NSC.

This is what Senior's Energized Choice looks like (photo from

When we are heavily conditioning and competing, we will also get some added Fibregized Omega, which contains the high-fat foods flax and rice bran.  Fat is a good way to add more energy to our diets.

I am excited about our new food.  I tasted some a couple of weeks ago and it was really good.  We will be in great shape for the 2011 season!

Best wishes,
P.S. If your mom wants to talk to Amy about our food she should call Amy-- email Stacy (cookiepony at gmail dot com) for her number!

Further reading:
Joe D. Pagan, "Carbohydrates in Equine Nutrition," in Pagan, ed., Advances in Equine Nutrition (Nottingham, UK: Nottingham University Press, 1998), 29-41.  Downloadable PDF 
Lori K. Warren, "Super, Fantastic Fibers: Find Out Which Fibers Might Benefit Your Horse," Equus Caballus Fall 2007, 10-13.  Downloadable PDF

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year, and Happy Birthday Taco!

Taco has a birthday today!  All Thoroughbreds in the Northern Hemisphere turn another year older each January 1.  Taco's actual birthday is not until March, but in the eyes of the American Jockey Club, he is 15 years old today.

He spent 2010 teaching me more than I could have imagined I could learn.  Here is a slideshow of our activities together from last year:

2010 was also the first year of the Team Taco blog. I started the blog as a way to keep our friends and family updated and the blog has caused that group to grow!  We have gotten more readers since Taco first started to offer his Ask Taco column.  We were honored with a shout-out from the US Eventing blog a few days ago, too!

It is exciting to be planning 2011 (and yes, another T3D is in the works), and I am so looking forward to another year with my wonderful partner and friend.  Happy New Year, everybody!