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20 years old & Competing at 4*
Keeping a horse healthy and sound in their veteran years can be a challenging task, let alone keeping a horse happy at 20 years old competing in eventing at 3* and 4*!
We caught up with Emily Mustow to see how she keeps her top horse, Prime Time II (AKA Fred), going so well in his later years.
CategoryAdvice, Keeping your horse happy, News, Our Products, Real Stories
Meet the Super Star
"Prime Time II, aka Fred, is my extraordinary horse of a lifetime who kickstarted my Eventing career. I have been riding him since he was 14 years old and I was 16 years old. He is now 20 years old and feeling incredible still competing at Intermediate/ CCI3*S. When he was 19, we had a crack at both our first CCI4*S at Bicton and he smashed it with an awesome clear cross country.
The key points to managing Fred in his later years of life since I have ridden him have been the following, I will go into more detail about each one below.
. Specialised fitness regime
. Magnetic therapy products
Fred’s work routine is also carefully managed. He is worked a maximum of 5 times a week with 2 rest days. He never does more than around 30 minutes work a day.
Luckily, with his thoroughbred breeding, Fred holds his fitness very well. He gallops once a fortnight in the early to middle part of the season but once he’s fit it’s just a case of maintaining it by hacking, schooling and jumping. The less strain I can put him under doing fast work, the better.
Fred gets a minimum of 2 days off after a quiet Eventing run but will get a week off after a big run like an international. This gives him time to rest… although he absolutely hates time off so I usually get forced by him to bring him back into work quicker then I’d usually like!
When it comes to running him, we try not to run him any more than twice a month (if that) and I carefully pick which events will suit him and the events he does well at.
When it comes to the end of the season, he actually does not have any holiday for two reasons.
- Number one is that he drives himself mad when he’s not working, he walks himself silly and drops off weight.
- Number two is that you never want a horse of his age to lose his muscle tone. Fred is largely held together with the sheer amount of strong muscle on him. I think that if he lost his muscle, any weaknesses he did have would start to show.
Through November, Fred is never busy, he hacks about once a week and also works long and low in the school a couple of times a week too to help maintain that muscle. For the rest of the off season he goes showjumping. He loves being out competing, he will literally trot up the lorry ramp to go out. He’s got quite good at pure showjumping and enjoys it.
All being well, he will come out and have another season at Intermediate/CCI3*S in 2023. He doesn’t run in any ‘long format’ events now as it’s a very long-winded process for him but he loves going to Internationals so he does ‘short format’ events as well as one day events. Fred is carefully managed by our team of therapists including
I have had great success using the Equilibrium Magnetic Back Pad on Fred. He wears is regularly at home and before competitions. I noticed a great improvement in the way he used his back when working when I started using the pad in 2019.
I also use the Equilibrium Massage Mitt HotSpot on any areas where I feel he may be stiff or sore.
I’m incredibly excited for the release of the new Equilibrium Magnetic Rug. I think this will be fantastic on Fred and can only help even further than the Magnetic Back Pad.
Fred will also be spending his stabled days in the winter in the Equilibrium Magnetic Chaps too. As well as offering magnetic therapy they also offer the protection he needs. He will also wear them when he travels too.
Micro Parrish treats Fred using Equine Sports Massage. Micro has been imperative in keeping Fred supple and moving as well as he does. Micro has treated him for 6 and a half years now and we wouldn’t be without her. Fred adores her treatments.
I first got the ride on Fred predominantly because no one else wanted him! His owner/breeder wanted a nice quiet home whereby he could compete in a few BE Novices and maybe a small International. Fred and I completed our first International within 5 months of being a partnership. We were both hungry and very capable of more still. Although I was told many times that he was too big, too strong and even dangerous for me to do anymore on, I absolutely believed in him 100% along with a very small minority! I said to my Mum when I was 16 after my first proper cross-country school on him “I think I’ll go Advanced one day on this horse.” Little did we know what was to come.
When I first got Fred home it became clear he was a very difficult horse to manage, and some previous riders hadn’t quite understood the care and attention he needed. Fred actually has a number of weird and wonderful problems that he’s had most of his life. The first being he has severe separation anxiety from both people and horses meaning you can never leave him alone unless he is on the lorry… the lorry is his happy place as he loves being out and about. The separation anxiety stems from simply, a bit of a brain malfunction! After being studied by some of the best vets in the country, it turns out the instinct that every horse naturally has to take turns to stand and watch over the ‘herd’ is in overdrive in Fred’s brain. So, if you leave him alone with no human or horse to look out for, he completely loses his head. This leads to his second fairly major malfunction! When a horse stands to watch over the herd while the rest of them may be lying down or grazing etc, they may snooze standing up until it is their turn to lie down. Of course, with Fred, in his head it is never his turn to lie down… so he never does.
Yes, you read that right, Fred never lies down on the floor to go to sleep. When horses sleep standing up, they lock their joints so they don’t fall. However, because Fred’s brain tells him it needs a deep sleep, while he is snoozing his knees unlock and he actually falls forward to the ground. It’s a bizarre and sad thing to watch but there is literally nothing we can do about it. Amazingly enough, his short and frequent naps seem to work for him which is quite honestly extraordinary.
The quirks that Fred has have to be managed meticulously – his routine is imperative. To manage the separation anxiety side, it was difficult to work it out originally. He used to have to follow me everywhere when I first got him, I am his ‘human he has to look after’ in his head. He used to have to follow me back and forward to the tack room to tack him up because if I left him tied up and disappeared behind a door then he’d go mad! Thankfully he now realises that when I’m tacking him up and walk into the tack room, I will come back to him… it’s taken some years though! Fred didn’t trust anyone or anything when I first got him, other than me. I was and still am his security blanket. So, in the first few years of having him it was all about trying to find a routine that remained more or less the same for him that he eventually gained trust in to ease the stress of the separation anxiety.
Thankfully, he has come on leaps and bounds with the anxiety and rarely has an outburst of mad behaviour! In previous life, no one really gave a thought to what needed to be done to make him happier. It was an attitude of “well he’s just a horse, he has to get over it” and when he didn’t get over it, people just gave up on him.
Horses are like people; they are all different. But if you spend the time trying the understand like I did with Fred, you can unlock a whole new level of potential in a horse. The only downside to myself being Fred’s ultimate constant and comfort in his life is the fact I can’t leave him for too long which means not a great deal of holiday time is had by me!! Even if I have been on bed rest… I’ve had to find a way to make some sort of appearance to see Fred every few days so he knows I’m still there. If I go away for much longer then 6/7 days he will stop eating and go on hunger strike. It’s like having a big toddler!
However, these are all things that have to be taken into account and they have been… when people ask me how I turned the horse around from the seriously unstable horse he was I simply say “I listen to him”.
When it comes to the sleep problem, there isn’t a lot I can do other than provide cushioning and protection for him. As a younger horse he had been allowed to fall down onto his knees and fetlocks on a concrete floor in the stable… meaning he cut open both his fetlocks repeatedly and bruised his knees. He has a massive amount of scar tissue on his fetlock’s when I first got him. Very quickly, we put rubber mats down in his stable along with a big full bed and acquired some very padded stable boots. I call them his slippers!! He wears them at all times in the stable on all four legs as well as having turnout versions too for when he’s out in the field. Over the years this has massively helped him and nearly all the scar tissue on his fetlock’s has disappeared. I’m really looking forward to putting the Equilibrium Magnetic Stable Chaps on him during the day when we get into winter. He has responded very well to previous magnetic products so I think these will work very well on him. The other way of trying to manage him getting enough sleep is once again his daily routine. He used to be out 24/7 in the summer when I first got him but then I felt that he didn’t get enough off his shirt and frequent naps out in the field because he couldn’t rest easy with other horses scattered around different fields. I then changed his routine to being out for 4/5 hours a day and in at night all year round. This obviously means that all the other horses have to be on the same routine so he has his ‘herd’ in one place. Luckily every horse I’ve had is quite happy with this! Being able to rest more in his stable where he felt comfortable has improved his performance enormously as the more rest he gets, the fitter I can get him and the more training I can do on him.
Fred’s feed consists of Baileys Horse Feeds supplied by Mark Hawkins. I’m very lucky to supported by Mark and also my local Baileys representative, Sarah.
Keeping Fred’s energy levels up and his condition good is hard when he can be a bit of a nutter… mainly in the dressage! However, we have got his diet spot on and he looks/feels a million dollars all year round.
Fred is also a VERY fussy eater but he never leaves a bit of his Baileys meals. It’s really important that when we are trying get all the necessary food into Fred that we feed it in as many small meals as possible throughout the day. This way his body has more time to absorb all the important nutrients. He gets fed a total of 4 times a day during the season and 3 times a day during the off season. His feeds consist of Baileys Ease & Excel mix, Baileys Outshine, Baileys Balancer and fibre beet. As well as the feed, Fred’s supplements are vital.
He is on the Protexin Acid Ease to promote stomach health as well as the Protexin Cosequin to promote joint health.
All in all, Fred is managed through an incredibly consistent routine, good feed with help from therapists and therapy products. I’m very thankful to have the fantastic support team around Fred allowing his body to keep up with his every enthusiastic mind.
You can follow Emily’s journey on her social media here:
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