Sara Turner - A New Fox Hunting High Performance Gets a Boost That Was Never Expected

 

 

 

Sara Turner - BIG Skeptic – Performance Horses – Chronic Pain
Fox Hunting – More Stamina – Responsive – Less Stressed

 

John Dowdy:                

Hello, and welcome to this week's Equinety podcast. We're going to swing up into Virginia. We've got Sara Turner on, and we're going to talk about fox hunting, although I was corrected just a bit into fox chasing, but we'll get into that. So the difference, what is this sport? And it sounds like a lot of fun. I've never personally done it, but after speaking with Sara, I think I'm sold. So without further ado, Sara Turner, welcome to the Equinety podcast.

Sara Turner:                 

Hi, thank you for having me.

John Dowdy:                

Well, it's great to have you and I'm excited for this one because I don't believe that we've had anybody in this fox hunting, fox chasing niche on the Equinety podcast. So let's talk about this sport that you do. How far back does it go, and tell us a little bit about the adventures.

Fox Hunting or Maybe Fox Chasing

Sara Turner:                 

Sure. I'm excited to talk about it and share my experiences with Equinety and with my two Thoroughbreds, who I actively hunt. So I'm located between Charlottesville and Richmond in Virginia, and I'm lucky enough that I live in what I consider the epicenter of fox hunting in the country. There are recognized hunts all over the U.S., and when I say recognize, that means they're recognized by the Masters of Foxhounds Association, which is actually located two hours north of me in Middleburg, Virginia. It's a deep, deep, traditional, long part of the Virginia culture. And it's a wonderful, wonderful sport. If you enjoy horses and we call them hounds, we don't say dogs. Dogs, the countryside, an adrenaline rush, then it just work for you. Unlike most other equestrian sports, there's not a ribbon at the end of the day. And I'm just fine with that. There's a big smile on your face and everyone's high fiving that you survived the day.

Sara Turner:                 

We are out there to have fun, enjoy the countryside, enjoy our horses and enjoy watching the hounds work. So that's the sport. And the hunts that I hunt with, there'll be a scheduled hunt three days a week. So unlike horse showing, which I did in my past life, if you have a bad show, you walk away, wasn't great. I chipped that jump and you know it, I just spent the whole weekend and the whole week preparing for it. If you have a bad hunt or something goes wrong, guess what? You wake up two days later, you'd go back out and you'd try it again. And everyone's there. And it's a very deep rooted community in the fox hunting world. Very supportive. You know, just people want to have fun and want everybody to be safe. So I'm happy to tell you a little bit how a typical hunt would work if you want me to [crosstalk 00:02:47].

John Dowdy:                

Absolutely. Well, we've come this far. We can't stop now.

Sara Turner:                 

Okay, each club has staff and we have a huntsman who manages and takes care of our hounds. Each club will have, I don't know, somewhere between maybe 80 and 120 hounds that they feed and care for. And our hounds are our pride and joy and so much goes into their breeding and their care. So we'll show up at what we call a fixture. It's pre scheduled, a time and a place and usually in the middle of a cow field somewhere or at someone's beautiful estate in central Virginia. You park your trailer and the hound truck will arrive with usually 30 hounds and the staff horses all crammed into a trailer. And the members of the hunt show up. We finish tacking up, we get on our proper attire and there'll be maybe a quick, what they call a stirrup cup in the beginning, if someone's hosting the hunt. They'll be walking around with cups of port and maybe some donuts on a silver platter. That's on a more, you know, bigger, organized day. During the week, it's not quite the fanfare.

Sara Turner:                 

The masters of the hunt will make any necessary announcements and the group will be divided into three groups. First flight, second flight, third flight. In your first flight group, we ride up with the hounds, we keep up with the huntsman. We gallop, we jump, we go, we do whatever's necessary to keep up with the hounds and the huntsman. Second flight will do the same as first flight, but they typically go around the jump. And then third flight is more of, they call them hilltoppers. They are out to enjoy the scenery. They just want to enjoy the countryside and they stay at a walk and trot.

Sara Turner:                 

So there's a little bit of everything depending on your riding ability and your horse's ability or what you're comfortable with. Like I said, we'll hunt with 30 hounds. A hunt can last typically anywhere from three to five hours. And you just never know what the day's going to bring. You could be walking for three hours and the hounds, if the scent is just not good that day. And there's always off the theories as to why everyone's, you know, rumbling and say, "Oh, it's too wet or it's too dry." You could hit a line within five minutes to casting in the hounds and be on a two hour gallop.

Sara Turner:                 

And when I say it's not just a gallop on pristine, beautiful footing. We are going down gravel roads. We're going through mud, we're going on hard surfaces. My farrier always jokes because he's shoes a lot of adventures. And he says, "I'll put some stud holes in there and you can figure out what studs you want for the day depending.", I said, "Well I'm sorry but I can't predict if I'm going to be on roads or mud.", you know, it would be in everything.

John Dowdy:                

Yeah, right.

Sara Turner:                 

So our horse has to be very alert, very keen, very athletic. You know, they're special. It's hard to find a good hunt horse because you could gallop up a hill, blast up a hill and through the woods and through really trappy creek crossings and then stand at what we call a check. And that's where the huntsman is calling the hounds in and he's counting them very quickly. He's deciding where he's going to redirect them. Well that's hard for a horse after a big adrenaline rush like that. Then they're supposed to stand and be perfect, but that's what we expect our horses to do. I had a girlfriend came and hunted her first time. She's a horse show rider. She said, "I can't believe how close the proximity these horses are."

Sara Turner:                 

Sometimes we're packed in like sardines on a trail or there's a tight reverse field and you know, the hounds and huntsman's laughing past you and you're brushing your stirrup irons. That's how close it is. But your horse has to stand like a statue. So it's asking a lot of our equine partners to be a solid hunt horse. So they've got to have stamina, athleticism, a good brain, know where their feet are and be ready to go on a moment's notice and you know, be fine with the hounds running in and out of their feet, be fine with other horses in and around them. So it's fun. To me, it's the closest thing to heaven. I mean it's an amazing sport and on a good day, you're just coming back on the highest of highs and something you can't explain to anybody else. It's a lot of fun. So I think that explains a little bit of what it is and-

John Dowdy:                

Yeah. Wow. Absolutely. Yeah. Now, how far back does this a tradition of hunting go, fox hunting?

Sara Turner:                 

Well, it started in England and in Ireland, hundreds of years ago. And it was brought to the U.S., actually George Washington had his own pack of hounds who he actively hunted. So it's been going on in the U.S. for several hundred years. And the hunt that I actively hunt with, we just celebrated our 129th year as a recognized hunt. So it's a very like deep rooted in the countryside in the culture here of Virginia. I've been known to run into my children's school in full hunting attire to pick someone up early with my horse hitched to the back of my truck. And the principal of the school says, "Oh, is it a good hunt today?" Yeah. It's very much part of the lifestyle here, and it's a great way to live and a great way to raise your kids.

John Dowdy:                

I'm just curious of how many people that are tuning in are now getting out of their discipline to go into this sport. That would be interesting to know. I don't know if we'll ever find that number but.

Sara Turner:                 

I don't know. Who knows? Or at least try it. It doesn't hurt if you find a local hunt and you know, get to know some people who have maybe have a hunt horse, they'll lease you for a day and it's worth trying.

John Dowdy:                

Yeah. Wow, that's great. Now, so this is interesting because you have high performance horses that you're asking a lot out of. And how in the world did we end up here on the Equinety podcast with you using the Equinety product? So give us your, maybe how skeptical you were or your thoughts on supplements in general. How did all that come to be?

Her Skepticism

Sara Turner:                 

Sure, absolutely. I've had a good friend of mine who I hunt with. She brought the Equinety product to my attention and I sort of brushed it off because I am a skeptic of most supplements. I'm a big believer in good forage, good feed, good turnout, proper saddle fit, and your horse will perform at their best if you just give them the basic that they need. I'll do a supplement if it's been researched or has clinical research behind it. I'm not anti supplement. And I always joke, I think, I won't say any companies, but if these supplements work, we all have perfect horses. We would never lose a shoe. We would have very calm horses. You know, we'd have the best feet and the best brain. And so I'm skeptical, but I do feed my horses supplements. I'm happy to tell you what I feed them and what I think has benefited them.

Sara Turner:                 

But I think at the end of the day, what they need is good turnout in a herd with good farrier work, good feed, good hay. And that's everything I provide for my horses. And I also do regular chiropractic and acupuncture with a local vet. It's very important for these hunt horses. During the season, if you're hunting hard, their bodies change, their backs change, have your saddle checked, have them get their monthly massage. I probably overdo it than most people, but you know, I'm a big believer, you know, the basics, the fundamentals I guess. So my friend, she got in contact with you through a network of not sure, just talking to different people and she actually spoke to you on the phone. She hunts. She has an 18 year old Irish sport horse, quarter horse, Thoroughbred cross.

Sara Turner:                 

She's been hunting first flight for 11 years now, knows that horse inside out. So she tried it. The horses been on it for about four or five days. We went on a hunt near Charlottesville, was a good hunt. We chased several red fox and there are a lot of big coops that day and she said, "My horse never ran out of steam." She said he felt light on his feet. She said there's something going on. So from listening to her and running it by my vet who my vet looked at the container and said, "Well, it's not going to hurt anything." And listening to several of the podcasts where people had said, "I could see benefits within five days." I said, "Okay, it's not that expensive. My vet has said it's not going to hurt anything."

Sara Turner:                 

My friend is pushing me to try this, try this. Fine, I'll try the 15 day trial, thinking, "But my horses are doing everything I'm asking them to do and they're doing it well so I don't expect to see any results." So that's how I got to the point where I said, "Okay, let's give it a go and see." So I currently have two Thoroughbreds. One is a six year old. I pulled him off the track as a four year old and I started hunting him last season. And this is the horse I want to speak to because this is the horse, I noticed immediate results. Pull him off the track, gave him time to decompress. I would take him on little trail rides in groups. Just slowly brought him into, okay, this is the life of a Virginia horse. You're no longer at a track in Florida, and knew that he was going to have quirkiness or times where he'd be sore, he's developing new muscles.

A Young Thoroughbred Loses His Anxiety

Sara Turner:                 

But he took the fox hunting like a duck to water. He just seemed to love it right away. So he always been a very enjoyable horse to ride. He's light in the bridle. He moves along with the group. He doesn't act up when we're casting off and there's a big group of horses galloping off in front of him. He keeps his wits about him, but his whole, is that he hates to be groomed. We jokingly call him land shark on the ground. Behavior wise, he's great in turnout. He finishes his feed. I treated him for ulcers when I first got him. I did the 28 day a gastro guard. Again, he gets regular chiropractic care, regular vet care, regular saddle fittings. I've tried everything with him. I tried being nice.

Sara Turner:                 

I tried being mean, but the grooming, I finally just said, "You know what, this is who he is and I just have to groom him and get this over with and get the saddle on." As soon as I sit my tush in the saddle, he's a dream horse to ride. He's done everything I've asked him to do, I've taken him to little local hunter shows, I take him to a weekly lesson. He jumps around the courses, he swaps his leads. So I just finally said this is who he is and just going to have to deal with it. And tried him on the Equinety and I can say, it was day three, I pulled him out of his stall to get ready to take him to a lesson because I'm just introducing him to jumping. And I put him in the cross ties, he didn't try to bite my wrist. He wasn't snapping turtle at me.

Sara Turner:                 

His body looked more relaxed and I said, "Okay, the sun's out. It's a nice day. Maybe you're just happier today." I groomed him and what I've told my friends is that the body language was still there. The intensity was down. So yes, he was still making it known to me that I don't like to be groomed, pinning his ears and kind of giving me a dirty look. But his body just wasn't as intense or fidgety and he wasn't snapping up the cross ties. So I continued to groom him. Well, sorry, fox hunters, we tack up before we load on the trailer. So I put a saddle on. I loaded him on the trailer. As I'm raising my ramp, I hear him go. Now that is not something he normally does.

Sara Turner:                 

This is a young Thoroughbred, acting like a young thoroughbred when you load him on the trailer with sort of the bug eyed look like, "Oh, where are we going now? What are you doing now? Where are you driving me now?", but he's always behaved. It's just he looks Thoroughbredy when you put him on the trailer. Go around, do my safety check, come back to his door. I said, "Okay, put your head in." Close the door. As I'm closing the door, he puts his head down and he just went, he's never done that. So that to me was, there was a level of anxiety that had been removed from him. Took him to the lesson-

John Dowdy:                

Yeah. And this was in three days.

Sara Turner:                 

This was on day three. This is day three of giving him the supplement, yes. Took him to the lesson, he performed like he always does. He's actually always very good, does everything we ask him to do. There's very little fuss, put him on the trailer and leave. I don't think anything of it day. I guess it would have been day six or seven into the Equinety with my first hunt with him. So it was a fast hunt. We actually end up chasing a coyote. It was a fast rip roaring hunt. This is a horse despite his age and despite his breeding, and I've always thought this would come with time because fox hunting requires a lot of mental and physical stamina, and I think they develop that over three or four seasons of hunting. This is the horse that you typically, within an hour and a half, two hours of the hunt, he would start to what I say poop out.

Stamina Increases Like Never Before

Sara Turner:                 

Whereas if we're galloping up a hill, I have to wear spurs and say, "Come on, you can get it. You can get up. Come on, keep going.", because I would always say to him, "I like to hunt and when we hunt, we're going to stay out for the hounds come in. So you know, we're not going in just because you're pooping out. You're going to keep going. You're going to get stronger and fitter and we can do this." I never felt him hit that wall of fatigue on that hunt and we covered some ground that day. A lot of times as they start to get tired, you'll feel them start to trip over little things easier like a stick or a log or a rock. They just sort of not paying attention. He never hit that moment. He had a consistent level of energy that just sort of maintained at that level the entire hunt. And one of the things I was very, very leery of with trying the Equinety is having Thoroughbreds and knowing that little changes in their diet or their routine can make them hot. They're very sensitive horses.

Sara Turner:                 

I said when I kept reading on the website that your horse will have more stamina. I said, "I don't need more stamina. I ride Thoroughbreds. They got plenty of get up and go." I was very leery that it was going to make my guys hot. It has not done that. It's maintained and channeled their focus. I was on that hunt on day six or seven of the Equinety. He was responsive to my aid like I've never felt him before where I had to do minimal, I mean just a pinch of the rein and he was on it. He was listening to me and I'm talking, this is two hours into the hunt and he was still this way. I felt like I was riding a season hunt horse that had been hunting for six, seven years. I was riding the horse that I thought I was hoping he would be in six or seven years, if that makes sense.

John Dowdy:                

Yeah, that's incredible. Wow.

Sara Turner:                 

I was so confident on him and I haven't ridden him first flight yet because like I said, we'd been easing up to that point. It sort of comes, first, he had to learn how to hunt. Now we're learning how to jump and then we'll apply the two together because it's not just cantering up to a jump and jumping it. It's cantering up to a jump that may have mud and rocks or a drop on the other side or a hound jumps out and you have to pull them off the jump. So I felt so confident that day and I knew the territory that I knew if we came on up on jump, I knew what type of jumps they were going to be, that I moved him up to first flight.

Sara Turner:                 

And I said to my friend who had convinced me to try the product, I looked at her and I said, "I don't know what I'm sitting on, but this is amazing." He feels amazing. We were on a gallop at one point and he put his head down and started doing, I would called the happy blow, on a full gallop, on a loose rein. Feels like loose and happy through his body and his back so.

John Dowdy:                

Wow. Well I think it would be important now, for those that are tuning in for the first time and you've been listening to this podcast from the beginning, what is it and how does it work? Now by the way, before I get into that, were you surprised at the dose? It's 5.2 grams, which is not quite a tablespoon. Did that surprise you at all? That it was just-

Sara Turner:                 

Absolutely. The fact that I didn't have to do a loading dose was one of the things that I figured, okay, this was worth trying. And yes, the dose is so small and I always test it on my horses out. I'll mix it with a little seeing your feed because they love seeing your feed, and they gobbled it right up. Neither of them had a problem eating it and they've never had any, you know?

John Dowdy:                

Sure.

Sara Turner:                 

Yeah. It's very easy to administer and give. And I said it's not one of these things where you have to do a three week loading dose or taper off and you know. It's just super easy to start giving to him.

How Equinety Works

John Dowdy:                

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So for those tuning in for the first time, the Equinety Horse XL, it's 100% pure amino acids. There's no fillers, no sugars, no starches. And as you just mentioned, Sara, there's no loading dose. So one little scoop every day. And the amino acids are specifically formulated in this combination to stimulate the pituitary gland, which is the master gland in the body. And that's what releases the necessary hormones, which help heal the body at a cellular level. So as you were describing, when we get into the beginning of this podcast, you are skeptical, one, just kind of in general about supplements just because you've been around for a while. You've been disappointed probably more than a few times like a lot of people out there. We're blessed in the fact that this product, it does work and at the same time with yours, I mean they're in tip top shape, great condition.

John Dowdy:                

They do everything that you need them to do. And yeah, with a couple of corks, but all horses have that kind of stuff. So the reason why this product helps in so many situations, and now we're talking high performance horses that you're asking a lot out of, probably the best way to describe what's going on is it's given the horse what it needs to help balance itself from a hormonal level. So you're right in the aspect, we get a lot of questions, "Hey, is this going to make my horse hot?" Well, there's nothing in this product that makes a horse hot. It just helps balance the horse. So typically a horse that is hot, it will tend to back them off or calm them down a little bit. And when it's more on the calm and lazy side, kind of peps them up a little bit so it balances the horse.

Sara Turner:                

And that's where I was so skeptical. I said, "How can something make one horse sort of calm and more focused, and give another horse and the little bit of extra boost of energy." I was very scary of that and I stuck, so I knew my boys and I said well, if it's going to make them hot, I think I'm going to know right away. I'm going to know right away. And if it was going to make anybody hot, it would make my two hot. They're very ready to go. They love their job and it's done the opposite so.

John Dowdy:                

Yeah. And we've had several podcasts, we always had people talk about four or five, six, seven different horses that all have completely different issues going on. And all they did was add Equinety Horse XL to it. And again, because we're giving the horse what it needs to release its own hormones, the body knows exactly where to send those hormones for the healing. And with yours, not to mention the fact that he hated being groomed and brushed, and you know. And so what's causing that? Could it be chronic pain going on in there? Could it be some ulcer stuff happening? Is it the stress, that you know, who knows what? But so many times we hear that adding this little scoop just seems to be the key missing component that they'd been looking for all along so.

Back To Sarah

Sara Turner:                 

Right. And I've explored all those options with the grooming because I really hated seeing him just be so hateful towards grooming because I don't think horses love to be groomed. I think that some just tolerate it better, but it is kind of a nice moment that you have with your horse before you ride them. And it was one of those things I just had to sort of get through it and get on, get clear my mind because it was such an unhappy, unpleasant event. It's always been an unpleasant event. It's one of those things, you can't let your brain go to a negative place right before you get on and ride your horse. It's true. And I think I told you this when we were talking back and forth online, I said it's almost like, well, let me rewind.

Sara Turner:                 

I've explored all the physical issues that could cause him to hate being groomed. I've done the ulcer treatment. He gets all the tummy stuff. Nothing has changed through any of that. The behavior stayed the same. And my vet have said if this behavior carried over into you riding him, then we would explore some tummy issues, if he was showing clinical signs of ulcers. Absolutely. The acupuncturists, you know, they do the acupuncture points but I don't see anything that's pointing to digestive issues. So I just finally said something must have happened at the track. Maybe he started a bad behavior and the grooms there just came at him with negativity, negativity, and it just got balled up in him emotionally.

Sara Turner:                 

I know this sounds kind of woo woo, but now that he's on the Equinety, it's like there was a tight emotional knot in him that I could not figure out as his owner how to unravel. The Equinety has unraveled the knot and he takes a breath now. He takes a breath and it's amazing. I told my friend who turned me on to the product, I said, "If the Equinety only helps the grooming, it's worth a dollar a day for the product.", you know. If it helps him not be so stressed, the fact that he's getting groomed, then it's worth it. But it's also helping him in his job as well so.

John Dowdy:                

No, that's great. And I'll tell you, we have heard a lot, especially over in the barrel racing world, a lot of the horses that are super stressed, have high anxiety, spooky. We have heard a lot of complete demeanor changes by the third day. So this just reiterates how quickly this product works. As a matter of fact, this product starts working in 24 hours. It stimulates the pituitary to release those hormones in 24 hours. So now it's just a matter of how quickly you can begin seeing the changes. So for a horse that has stress, anxiety, that's a bit spooky, you know, day three is very common. But I would say even the vast majority, and I'm talking high 90 percentile see changes in 30 days or less. Softer, shinier coat, feeling out, more muscle, demeanor, attitude, mood, focus.

John Dowdy:                

Even the hoof growth is a big one as well. Well that's pretty awesome. Sara, I really appreciate you taking the time and I know that I'm excited for this one to get this one out because it's our first one around fox hunting. I wish I could take a poll on how many people would pick this sport up now. That would be interesting.

Sara Turner:                 

I love [inaudible 00:27:22].

John Dowdy:                

Yeah, absolutely so.

Sara Turner:                

It's a great sport.

John Dowdy:                

Yeah, that's great. So Sara Turner, out of Virginia, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story here on the Equinety podcast.

Sara Turner:                 

Thank you. I'm happy to.

John Dowdy:                

All right, thanks. Bye bye.

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Topics: Performance Horse, Fox Hunting, Podcast, more responsive, anxiety, Chronic Pain, Stamina, Less Stressed, Skeptic

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