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On many occasions, I have written about the high-test, high-maintenance qualities of my horse Dually. He’s about as cool a horse as I’d hope to ever own and he’s my 4th “horse of a lifetime”—the third one, my old Morgan mare is enjoying semi-retirement down the road at a friend’s barn. I’ve been lucky that way in my life, but then again I’ve had a lot of horses in the last 50 years, so undoubtedly, a few of them have been great horses. Have you been blessed yet with your horse of a lifetime?


Dually is a purebred quarter horse, bred for cow work (Peppy San Badger/Doc O’lena) with a very kind, willing and sensitive temperament and keen mentality. Most of the time he is extremely calm and mellow but he is actually very “hot-blooded.” By definition, a hot blooded horse is one that is highly sensitive to environmental stimuli. That’s ALL stimuli: touch, sounds, movement, weather, odors, even a slight shift in your body language.


Have you ever had the joy of riding a horse that is so sensitive that all you have to do is just think about a cue and the horse picks it up? Often sensitive horses tend to be forward horses as well. Lazy horses tend to be insensitive and require a lot more pressure to motivate them, although this is a generality. For the sensitive forward horse, you just think canter; don’t even think about using your legs. These horses can be a real joy to ride, but can also be a bad combination for a novice rider whose cues are inexact.


But with that sensitivity and willing temperament, there is a price to pay. Many of these horses, Dually included, are hard keepers, easy colickers, prone to ulcers with sensitive digestive tracts. Dually was a fit but thin 6 year old when I bought him three years ago and has been a very hard keeper ever since, eating buckets of expensive grain, not great for his high-test personality but a must to try and keep weight on. He rarely finished his grain and never his hay. He had frequent bouts of what I fondly referred to as “the vapors.” Off feed, laying down, depressed, but not exactly colicking. A hit of banamine or a trailer ride always snapped him out of it, but still it was always a concern, and seemed to happen most when I was out of town.


Enter Proviable, a probiotic powder made by Nutramax Labs to promote hind-gut health; new on the market this spring. I think I had one of the very first bottles off the shelf, and I started Dually on it right away, along with the Proviable paste as a booster for the first few days. Within a week, I noticed a difference in Dually’s appetite and he began to polish off his grain at the same time the other horses did, practically licking his pan. Within two months Dually was gaining so much weight I cut his grain ration in half. He now looks more like the stocky QH he is bred to be instead of skinny and lanky and he is maintaining his weight on a normal grain ration.


Dually has been on Proviable for six months now and in that time he’s had only one minor bout of the vapors while he was with me at a clinic earlier this summer. Since then I have taken to boosting him with Proviable paste when we are on the road and his stress level might be greater and he hasn’t had a problem since. I can’t for sure attribute all these great changes in my high-maintenance horse to Proviable, but it seems that for a horse like mine, Proviable is a god-send.


Have you or do you have a hard-keeping horse like Dually? I recently gave some Proviable paste to a woman I met with a barrel racing TB who reminded me a lot of Dually. I am eager to hear how he does. Nutramax also came to our rescue with Proviable for dogs for Rich’s lab puppy who was instantly cured of her long-term and serious diarrhea which had not responded to any other standard treatment. But I’ll save that story for another time.


Enjoy the ride!