In the July 2005 issue of Western Horseman, Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association tie-down roper Mike Hadley of Canon City, Colorado, shared his equine fitness regimen. In addition to ensuring his horses are physically fit for competition, Hadley also takes care to ensure they eat well and have a comfortable environment in which to live.
* Fueling a roping horse. Horses are natural grazers. Keeping horses healthy under the stressful conditions of traveling, performing at breakneck speed, loading into a trailer and going another 200 miles to compete again requires careful attention to a horse’s diet.
To avoid tying up, blister-beetle poisoning or kidney stones caused by a mineral imbalance that can occur when feeding alfalfa, Hadley feeds grass hay and whole oats. Since he began feeding whole oats and grass hay that might contain some clover or a small amount of alfalfa, Hadley’s horses haven’t had any digestive problems or azoturia (a musculoskeletal condition also known as Monday-morning sickness).
* Creating a healthy environment. Hadley’s horses are kept in 16-by-16-foot stalls with outside shelter in their 20-by-100-foot runs. The horses can see other horses and activities around the place, plus the runs are large enough to let them play without running into fences.