The meteoric rise of Lauren Sammis and the dutch gelding Sagacious (owned by Al Guden and Hyperion Farm) from training level to Grand Prix took an abrupt detour when Sagacious began resisting and struggling in his work. Lauren: I got into a rut of treating the same problems over and over again. I was treating them, but not fixing them. Finally I called in the USET vet Dr. Tim Ober. He brought a different perspective on getting to the root causes of Sagacious’ issues. He also recommended I talk to Biostar about a diet change. Dr. Ober is the true sports medicine doctor for horses. When Lauren first got Sagacious he was a bone-fide bolter. He was difficult to lead because he would just exit stage left.
Lauren: I figured out he was bored so I amped up and challenged him in training exercises. Sagacious is extremely clever however sometimes that can be used in unproductive ways. I succeed with him when he was truly challenged in his work as opposed to entertaining himself.
Lauren and Sagacious rose quickly to the top ranks of the small tour, earning team gold at the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio, and then went on to win CDI Grand Prix classes at some of the nation’s most prestigious shows. When Sagacious started to over-react at home and the usual treatments still didn’t fix the problem, Lauren called in Tim Ober. She thought that part of Sagacious’ issues might be ulcers so she asked about diet.
Lauren: When Tim suggested I talk to Biostar I was a little reserved about the idea. In my brain, I get whole food, and it’s important with my kids, but I couldn’t make the connection with the horses. I finally figured I had nothing to loose by trying a whole food diet. In one month I saw a difference: he had stopped over-reacting.
The difference in Sagacious now is that he is comfortable in his body. Nothing is blocking him.
The whole food diet for Sagacious consists of molasses-free beet pulp, alfalfa cubes, flax seeds, and hemp seed oil. No grains at all.
Lauren: the change in his temperament was huge. He became friendlier, happier. He used to have these huge reactions to little things but now he is so much calmer. In the past he has had no ability to tolerate even mild discomfort, but now his body is able to work through minor soreness.
And his body changed. Before we started the diet his body was bulky, and thick, sort of stallionesque. A few months on the diet he became more streamlined and fit, and now six months from when we made the diet change, he is looking stronger, and more muscled and still athletic.
One of the other big differences in Sagacious is that he is quieter, more confident; he’s not so ready to leave the arena. He is less stressed, happier within himself.
Lauren: Rebound is my favorite. Sagacious has in the past taken 6 weeks to recover from a show. On Rebound he now feels as good or better after a show. Rebound has made a huge difference.
Anyone that has a competitive goal with a horse, needs to be on Rebound.
Sagacious really loves sugar, and Lauren is ever mindful of keeping sugar away from him, except right before he goes into the ring at a show.
Lauren: we give the sugar cubes right before he goes into the ring arena as a “you are a good boy” gesture. Sagacious is quite a sugar addict so we are very careful about not giving him cookies or sugary treats. He does get Tum Ease before and after he works, and also gets bananas, almonds, and blueberries. After he is worked he really looks forward to the handful of almonds. He just loves them.
The whole food feed plan gives a rider or owner the ability to fine tune the diet for each horse. But you have to have the time to dedicate to it. I think Cavallor is the highest quality of the processed feeds, and for riders and owners who don’t have the time for the whole food diet, Cavallor is a great choice.
Lauren believes that there are no difficult horses, but the horses that react badly are reacting in most cases due to pain.
Lauren: it is so important to look at gut health, inflammation, soundness. There is always a reason or reasons for bad behavior. When Sagacious started to over-react I knew there was a pain issue behind it. Getting to the root of it was what Dr. Ober and the whole food diet were able to do.
Lauren and Sagacious head to Florida at the beginning of December with an immediate goal of getting an invitation to the Masters in January. Her plans are to show Sagacious every third week of the Florida circuit with her primary focus for London and the Olympic Games in 2012. With a fourth placed finish at the Festival of Champions at Gladstone this year, Lauren and Sagacious are poised to dance their great partnership across the competition arenas in the coming season.