Improve One Discipline Without Spoiling Another
You may think that calcium deficiency would show up most in the dressage phase but actually we believe that show jumping is the better indicator. Watch any intro or novice event and 90% of the horses will get stronger and flatter as they go round the show jumping course. The other 10% are either ridden by VERY experienced riders or are getting VCAL in their diet. Surprisingly this ratio doesn't change very much even at 4* level.
There is a lot going on for a horse in the show jumping arena, scary fillers and flowers, flags and an absence of other horses. Most pump too much adrenalin and stop listening to their riders. The result is lack of rhythm, slow turning, poor times and unnecessary poles down. Some horses lose their ability to judge the distance and height of fences which results in refusals or fences down. THIS HAPPENS EVEN TO OTHERWISE SENSIBLE HORSES!
Some have such great natural talent they still get round OK but their ability to move up the grades is limited by this behaviour. VCAL makes them more trainable and improves their concentration during competition.
In the dressage phase the spookiest horses can misbehave quite badly but even sensible horses get tense and perform below their very best. This is hardly surprising as again, they are being taken away from their 'herd' and asked to do a number of difficult manoeuvres.
While VCAL won't turn a lousy dressage horse into a champion, it can improve scores so much that it is in striking distance of the leaders before the jumping phases.
Most event horses love cross country but the judgment issues that affect show jumping are magnified with fixed fences and exacerbated by fatigue. Now poor judgment doesn't just mean more penalties, it is a major contributor to potentially dangerous accidents. We believe that, in a few years’ time, proper calcium supplementation with VCAL will be recognised as a major contributor to cross country safety by substantially reducing the number of horse judgment errors.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that horses on VCAL make better judgments and are more able to adjust stride length than those without it. Certainly they are more trainable in all aspects of eventing and they tend to be far more relaxed (or less nervous). Such horses seem to cruise round the cross country course effortlessly. Despite looking quite slow they turn fast, accelerate and collect when needed and actually finish comfortably in the time. By wasting less energy cross country, at CCI's, they have more chance of performing the final show jumping phase without penalty.