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Riding Setback? Get Back On Track! MASTER ‘STOP-&-DROP’ FOR ULTIMATE CONTROL

HEAL YOUR HORSE’S QUARTER CRACK In-Saddle Exercises To Build Leg Strength

REHAB THE RIGHT WAY Heaves? Ease Your Horse’s Symptoms

Quarter Horse mare Keepin All The Blues




November 2016



12 18



60 17

50 22 36




50 Top 10 Blood Tests


Learn what basic lab work can tell you and your veterinarian about your horse’s health. By Barb Crabbe, DVM

17 We’d Love to Own: AQHA mare Captive Style. 18 Talk: Expo offers learning; tack, training videos. 19 Health: Free hoof-health posters; deworming tip. 20 Solutions: Clinic-turnout tips; boot-sock options. 21 Horsekeeping: Heal your horse’s quarter crack. 22 Style: Holiday shopping—splurge or save?

56 Show-Time Countdown These do’s and don’ts will maximize your ‘hurry-up-and-wait’ downtime at horse shows. By Brad Jewett, With Abigail Boatwright


60 The Real-Deal DIYer

25 Private Lesson: Brian Henry, in-saddle exercises. 30 Bob Avila’s Winning Insights: Riding setback? 33 Conformation Clinic: Tennessee Walking Horse mares. 36 The Confident Rider: ‘Stop and drop’ for control.

This non-pro reiner has earned respect for the way he handles and trains his own horses. By Cathy Raymond Herbert


On the cover: Keepin All The Blues, a 2-year-old Quarter Horse owned by Eric Turner and Dane Kurzejewski of Pennsylvania. The mare’s trainer, Rande Pittman of Jonesboro, Arkansas, says ‘Fluffy’ has become her doted-on pet—as well as a Western pleasure contender. Photo by Mallory Beinborn

6 From the Editor: Setbacks and comebacks. 8 We Hear You: On plump pregnant mares. 12 Your Stories: Learning to ride in your 60s. 14 Whole Horse Q&A: Ease heaves symptoms. 66 Problem Solvers: Rehab the right way. 72 You Said It: ‘My horse would ask me…’ November 2016 1

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This Month @ Vice President/Group Publisher David Andrick Associate Group Publisher Mitch Miller (303) 644-3782 ADVERTISING Associate Publisher Rick Swan (480) 471-4671 Advertising Representatives Christian Leatham (508) 461-9611 Michelle Adaway (859) 619-8263 Kathy Dando (717) 303-3793 Tom Brazil (805) 379-8729 Susan Lee (540) 905-9111 Benjie Lemon (303) 625-1667


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Be prepared at your next competition by reading about time management on page 56. Then go online to review your comprehensive show-day checklist. Keith Cunningham, Automotive/Truck Representative (248) 763-0526

What Is Horse Heaves?

Quarter-Crack Problems

Learn more about the most prevalent lung disease seen in horses on our Web site after reading this month’s Whole Horse Q&A, page 14.

See how to heal and prevent quarter cracks in Horsekeeping on page 21, then go to our Web site to see different quarter-crack causes and treatments.

Classified Advertising Warren Wilson (760) 546-1192; fax (760) 546-1459 Advertising Information Manager Judy Howard Advertising Coordinator Alicia Smith

Handling a Mistake


How does champion rider Bob Avila get past a mistake in the arena? Find out on page 30. Then go online to learn how he handles a horse that spooks.

DIY rider Danny Blackburn has had impressive success showing without a trainer. Read about another rider’s DIY journey in “Reiner With No Trainer” online.

Digital Advertising Operations Manager Ron Goldy

To sell copies of Horse&Rider in your store, please contact Active Interest Media Customer Service, (800) 365-5548 We assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts

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Join the Herd!

From the Editor By Jennifer Paulson

The Perfect Gift for your

Setbacks & Comebacks IT WASN’T A QUESTION OF IF IT WOULD HAPPEN, but rather when. Old Paint bucked with my son Leo for the first time. Leo hasn’t been fazed by little senior stumbles or the times when his horse gets a little strong when loping. But this time was different. The old horse gave a few good hops to his young rider. I bet we all can remember the first time a horse really bucked with us. Whether we rode through it or hit the ground, it instantly changes how we interact with horses.

That Darn Pony My first launch from the saddle came from a lesson pony that was new to the barn— I think I was 9 years old. We were walking in the round pen when my mom told me to kick the pony to trot. Not yet aware that there are various levels of kicking and that I shouldn’t go to the big kick first, I pulled my legs from the pony’s sides and really kicked her. I’m sure you’re shocked to read that she didn’t like that one bit, and she tossed me right into the round-pen panel. (A few weeks later the poor pony surprised everyone with a baby by her side. No one knew they’d acquired her in foal.) “You were mad as a wet hen,” my mom told me when I asked for details. “I made you get back on, but you swore you’d never ride again. You didn’t speak to me the entire ride home.” Obviously, like we all do, I got over it. It wasn’t my last ride—nor was it the last time I was bucked off.

Leo’s Wild Ride


We’re not sure what got into Old Paint, but he caught both me and Leo off guard when he pitched his mini fit. Leo stayed on, but his confidence was rattled. To be honest, mine was, too. I realize and have told him that he’ll hit the dirt someday, but no parent wants to see their child in a potentially dangerous situation. Once Leo regained control, we both took a few deep breaths. He told me he was done for the day. But, living by the old cowboy rule, I made him keep riding. On the way home I was relieved he didn’t give me the silent treatment. We discussed the situation, focusing on moving on. He could learn from it, use what he felt to remind him to pay attention and ride more often, but then he had to let it go. At the next opportunity to ride, Leo was more cautious, but he’s regaining his confidence.

The Best Advice This all happened as I was working with Bob Avila on this month’s “Get Your Mojo Back.” A setback can come in many forms, rocking the confidence of a novice child learning to ride or a professional like Bob. Be sure to check his advice on page 30. What’s your advice for regaining confidence? What events in your horse life have shaken your spirit? Share with me at the address below. Over 300 five-star reviews.

Watch the Video!

You can reach Jennifer Paulson at

6 November 2016

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On Plump Pregnant Mares The small item on page 19 of the September issue, “Fat = Less Fertile,” is misleading and perhaps erroneous. I’m not aware of scientific evidence proving excessive body fat is detrimental to fertility or parturition in the mare. To the contrary, colleagues and I have published research showing that excessive body fat in the mare is not detrimental to conception, pregnancy, parturition, or postpartum reproductive performance. The only negative effect of excessive body fat in mares that we found was a slight reduction in milk production, perhaps due to fat accretion in the udder. While I don’t advocate mares’ being fed to obesity, neither do I advocate scaring horse producers about mares becoming too fat—regarding fertility. The risks of laminitis are very real when horses eat enough high-quality feed to cause excessive body-fat storage, so that situation should be avoided if possible. But that situation is not detrimental to fertility. GARY D. POTTER, PhD, Arkansas

Editor’s Note: Dr. Potter is professor emeritus of Texas A&M University. For citations to the scientific research he references in his letter, contact him at 10247 East McNelly Road, Bentonville, AR 72712. E-mail your letters to Or, send them to Horse&Rider, 5720 Flatiron Pkwy., Boulder, CO 80301. To be considered for publication, your submission must include your full name and your state. Published letters are subject to editing for brevity, clarity, and accuracy.

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For the horse industry to flourish, we must expose new generations to horse fever. While time is a problem getting folks to come try a horse (as noted in “Take the Pledge,” From the Editor, September 2016), fear and a lack of understanding are probably the biggest obstacles. “They are so big and powerful!” is a common statement of the uninitiated. I introduce newcomers to “horsemanship 101,” with an explanation of how horses think and their herd instincts. Then I demonstrate some exercises that gain a horse’s respect and give the newbie a chance to move the horse’s feet forward, backward, left, and right. The process takes about an hour and sometimes ends there, but I at least try to get them in the saddle with a trip around the round pen. Newbies are a little awkward in the saddle initially, but they catch on

quickly. And the smiles are priceless! JAY CORNAY, Tennessee

Advice for a Reader Michelle Nicholson asked about the causes of her gelding’s intermittent diarrhea in the August issue’s Whole Horse department. Another possibility to consider is diet. My Quarter Horse mare suffered from the same symptoms. She was tested for a variety of parasites and examined for ulcers, and we tried several suggested remedies. Finally, in desperation, I switched her from alfalfa to Bermuda grass hay. I saw almost instant results. My mare couldn’t tolerate the rich alfalfa diet, just like some people can’t tolerate fatty or greasy foods. Two years later, she’s on half alfalfa and half grass hay and is doing wonderfully. The only time she has a bout of diarrhea is if there’s a change in the feed at the barn where she’s stabled.  DORI STACHOWICZ, California

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Your Stories

Horsemanship, 60 & Over Learning to ride in your 60s poses unique challenges, but nothing you can’t overcome— with the right attitude. By Edmond P. DeRousse


began taking riding lessons at age 63. I’ve discovered learning to ride a horse isn’t as simple as learning to ride, say, a bike. You must master how to sit and how to keep your balance— that much is like the bike. But you must also learn how to position and coordinate your hands and feet. Plus how to follow the movement. Plus how not to bounce. Plus how all the gear works, not to mention how to interact with the horse. And all of it must be processed in the brain at roughly the same time. Often it can seem like me against the horse, me against the trainer, or me against me. Sometimes separately. Sometimes all together. It’s a challenge.

The author with Aztec, his rescued gelding.

other. For example, my trainer gives a command. My ears hear it and send the command to my brain. My brain sends it out to the appropriate muscle group. They respond to the command and the maneuver is accomplished. That, at any rate, is how it’s supposed to work. Sometimes, though, my brain just gets muddled. My trainer gives a command. My ears hear it and send the command to my brain. My brain sends it out to the appropriate muscle group. Garbage In, Garbage Out The muscle group sends the brain back A complicating factor is that I’ve put an awful lot of junk and wrong think- a message: “Ain’t doin’ that today.” The brain then has to find a workaround. ing about horses into my “human What should’ve been a simple process processor” over the years. By now my storage bins are pretty full, so stuff has has gotten clogged. At the same time— to be deleted before I can put new stuff and as I’m trying to figure out what went wrong—a new command is on in. And, believe me, a lot of new stuff the way. needs to get in there as I try to learn I complain to my trainer about this to maneuver my horse, Aztec. The fact sort of thing, and because she’s a good that my processor doesn’t process as instructor, she finds a way to help me quickly as it once did is also a facwork through it. As a result, my horsetor. (That’s my story, anyway, and I’m manship skills have actually improved sticking to it.) Here’s something else to consider. For to a surprising degree. those of us who’re no longer youngsters, older muscles seem either to be restrict- More Challenges ed in their movement or simply don’t Lately, though, I’ve been dealing with respond as quickly. It’s a law of nature. some new mind games. I’m sure the Brain and brawn are supposed to distractions in question have always work together. Communicate with each been there; I just didn’t notice them 12 November 2016

before. Now that I’m a better rider and have dumped some bad habits, there’s room in my brain to notice and deal with these other things. For instance, my trainer explains a new maneuver. Because I’m that better rider, I have an easier time multitasking. So besides implementing the maneuver, I find myself actually noticing that my trainer is urging me to raise or lower my toe, as well, or to feel what Aztec is “telling” me, or to put my leftcheek pocket deeper in the saddle. I also hear the other riders (who’re waiting their turn to practice the maneuver) telling each other how good my ride looks—or expressing their concern that I may be about to have an “unplanned dismount.” I can even hear that obnoxious bird chirping somewhere in the arena. My trainer keeps telling me that with continued practice, I can and will overcome these challenges and distractions. And you know what? She’s right. Now that I have the benefit of a couple years’ riding experience, I’ve noticed communication between Aztec and me has significantly improved. He understands my body movements better, and I can actually feel his responses to my verbal and physical commands. And, oh! What fun it is! Edmond P. DeRousse is a retired educator for the Illinois Department of Corrections. He served seven years in the U.S. Army and worked as an executive for the Boy Scouts of America. After watching his wife having so much fun on her horse, he decided to join in. Aztec, a once-neglected gelding adopted from a rescue ranch, inspired him to write a book about his equestrian adventures. Learn more at

Have a poignant, humorous, or educational story to share? E-mail jfmeyer@; 675-word maximum.

Photo courtesy of Ed DeRousse

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Whole Horse Q&A

Excess Gas in a Horse With Heaves Is flatulence a sign of extra trouble in a horse with heaves? Might a hay steamer help?


My 20-year-old Appaloosa developed aspiration pneumonia about 12 years ago. She was on antibiotics for six weeks and since then had been doing great, except over the past five or six years she started developing heaves. We soak her hay and give her allergy shots. Why is it that when some horses with heaves cough, they also pass gas, at times explosively? I was told that’s not good. The hay soaking helps, but in Pennsylvania it’s tough when the water freezes. Would a hay steamer help kill dust, mold spores, or whatever is in hay to make my mare cough?   TERRI SHIFLETT, Pennsylvania


Recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), commonly known as heaves, is a noninfectious breathing disorder usually affecting horses over age 7. It’s characterized by

with RAO typically finds excessive mucus production and accumulation, inflammatory cells, and constriction of small airways. Heaves is considered a hypersensitivity to inhaled organic dusts and molds contained in feed, hay, straw, and other bedding materials, so it’s good you’re concerned about your mare’s hay. Although exposure to allergens is considered vital to RAO development, the role of a viral or bacterial infection leading to susceptibility remains speculated but unproven. an increase in respiratory rate and/or Excess gastrointestinal gas produceffort at rest, as well as coughing, nasal tion isn’t a common sequelae (abnormal discharge, and exercise intolerance. condition resulting from a previous An examination of the lungs of a horse disease) to heaves. Though horses have a

Exposure to allergens can worsen heaves.


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From Both Ends When a horse coughs, no matter what the cause (heaves, pneumonia, aspiration of foreign material), a strong abdominal press is required to force air aggressively from the lungs and out the nose and mouth. This powerful abdominal compression, while producing a successful cough, will also sometimes harmlessly propel gas present in the rectum out as forced flatulence.

monogastric digestive system (a simple, single-chambered stomach, similar to ours), they also have a component of fermentation that occurs in the back half of their GI tract (cecum and large colon). It’s here that a significant amount of gas is produced while the feedstuffs are fermented, resulting in a fair bit of flatulence (see box). Hay steamers fall into the category of environmental management of RAO. The purpose of a hay steamer is

to heat the hay to temperatures greater than 212 degrees Fahrenheit to kill mold spores, mites, and bacteria, some of the allergens that can stimulate the clinical signs seen with horses suffering from heaves. The steaming process should eliminate the need to wet the hay—handy where winter temperatures drop below freezing. Anecdotally, steamed hay does seem to be helpful for horses prone to heaves, especially those in freezing climates.

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There are multiple commercially made hay-steaming options available, from those that’ll steam one flake of hay at a time to models that can handle an entire bale. The commercially available models are minimally labor-intensive, requiring you only to add hay and water, then turn the unit on. MELISSA ESSER, DVM, MS, DACVIM Assistant Professor Michigan State University For more on dealing with RAO, review “Horse Heaves: Symptoms and Treatment.”

Send horse health and behavior questions to Include horse’s age, breed, gender.

Ask your vet.



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YourHorse YourLife WE’D LOVE TO OWN

Photo by Photo Nichole byChirico Mallory Beinborn

Captive Style Details: 2005 AQHA mare by The Last Captive and out of Angela Larksbury, by Rugged Lark. Barn name: Gia. Owned and shown by: Krystal Jackson of Casper, Wyoming. Sight unseen: “I found Gia online as a yearling and bought her off a video—I didn’t even look at her in person,” Krystal says about purchasing Gia. “By the time we got her to Wyoming it was like having a completely different horse because she’d grown so much.” Slow start: Due to a club foot and checkligament surgery, Krystal waited to start working with Gia under saddle. “I did a lot of ground work with her, and was finally able to ride her when she turned 3,” Krystal says. “Gia was so easy because she gives 100 percent and has always been so balanced—it’s hard to tell which lead is easier for her.” DIY rider: “Outside having Gia with a trainer for two months to learn lead changes, she’s the first show horse I’ve done 99 percent of the training on,” Krystal explains. “To have the success and accomplishments I’ve had with her makes her extremely special to me.” Naturally versatile: Gia and Krystal have been a team for 10 years. They’ve competed in ranch horse versatility, ridden mountain trails, and shown at the Level 1 AQHA Championships held in Las Vegas. “The highlight of the Level 1 Championships was making the finals in one of my pattern classes,” Krystal says about one of the most exciting events she’s attended. Loves attention: “The barn owner always cracks up because Gia constantly wants cookies and attention,” Krystal says about Gia’s outgoing personality. “And the minute she hears a little kid in the barn she sticks her head out of the door until they come see her.” …Nichole Chirico

November 2016 17

TALK Palomino 11%

Buckskin, Dun 8% Other 8%

Black, Brown 16% Chestnut 16%

Color, Disposition?

Learning Abounds at Expo Clinics, seminars, and demonstrations by top trainers and industry experts will be among the many attractions at the Equine Affaire November 10–13 at the Eastern States Exposition in W. Springfield, Massachusetts. The event also offers a range of educational exhibits, plus the largest equine-oriented shopping opportunity in the East. “Fantasia,” a popular musical production, showcases the beauty, diversity, athleticism, and heart of various breeds. Admission tickets to Equine Affaire go on sale at 8:30 a.m. each show day. For more information, go to or call (740) 845-0085.

The lowdown: Approved trainers can earn $1,000 per horse or burro through the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s expanded “Storefront” training program. How it works: You must be able to gentle and train 10 or more wild mustangs or burros at any one time, and have necessary facilities, including 6-foot fences. After training requirements are met, Storefront trainers will receive $1,000 for each animal placed into an adoptive home. Details: Learn more about this and other earning opportunities by visiting or by calling (512) 869-3225. 18 November 2016

Gray/White 18%


Find educational exhibits and interactive displays at this month’s Equine Affaire in Massachusetts.

Trainers: Earn Money!

Bay 23%


‘Castration will produce a calmer horse that is more ridable, trainable, salable, and adoptable.’ …Dr. Doug Corey, chairman of the Unwanted Horse Coalition, on expansion of the group’s Operation Gelding program through a $10,000 grant from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (unwanted

Just for fun, we asked you to tell us the color of the horse with the kindest disposition you’ve ever known. (If a color breed, what base color.) Above is a breakdown of the responses we received. (To participate in future polls, “like” us at our Facebook page.)


$10,500 Total scholarship monies awarded in 2016 by the Reining Horse Foundation; grants to college-bound reining enthusiasts ranged from $750 to $2,000. To learn how to apply for future scholarships, go to or, or call (405) 946-7400.

Video: Tack, Training Tips The scoop: A new set of short, entertaining videos provide great how-to advice on horse training, tack use, and more. See for yourself: Go to H&R’s Facebook page (Horse & Rider Magazine) or Web site ( and search #ReadyToRide.

“Learning Abounds at Expo” photo courtesy of Equine Affaire; “Trainers: Earn Money!” photo by Rhonda Hole courtesy of the Mustang Heritage Foundation

YourHorse YourLife


YourHorse YourLife

Foot Power Provide a well-balanced diet appropriate for your horse’s age and workload to help keep his feet healthy. When his diet is on point, so too will be his hoof growth…usually. Some horses, despite a fine-tuned diet, require nutritional help with hoof growth. In such cases, biotin supplementation can be beneficial. Hooves respond to other nutrients as well, so a well-formulated hoof supplement should contain zinc, iodine, and methionine, in addition to biotin (

“Free Posters Promote Hoof Health” courtesy of American & International Associations of Professional Farriers; “Foot Power” photo by Jennifer Paulson

Cinch smarts: Never unfasten your saddle’s front cinch before undoing the back one. If your horse were to shake or spook, the saddle could slip down around his back legs, causing a wreck. Similarly, don’t leave your horse standing with the front cinch too loose, which could lead to the saddle’s slipping underneath him.

Educational posters on laminitis and thrush are available free for the asking from farrier groups.

Free Posters Promote Hoof Health Looking for practical hoof information to display in your barn or distribute to youth-group members? The posters “Laminitis 911” and “Thrush 911” tell how to identify, treat, and prevent these conditions. Created by the American & International Associations of Professional Farriers (headquartered in Shelbyville, Kentucky), the 11-by-17-inch heavyweight, glossy posters are available free of charge (no shipping or handling, even). Order one or more complimentary copies of these posters at



# Protect a Fetlock The lowdown: The Fetlock Shield from Click Horse Products is a flexible-yet-sturdy upright boot that protects against bed sores and recurrent injuries to the legs. How it works: An extra layer of Cordura-like fabric over soft padding renders the boot durable yet comfortable for daily use. “They’re lighter and taller than upside-down bell boots, and they don’t chafe,” says creator Shari Click. Especially good for: Horses with difficult-tobandage wounds or recurrent sores. Learn more: Visit or call (831) 426-1206.

Spot held in veterinary science by the University of California, Davis, in the latest QS World University Rankings (produced by Quacquarelli Symonds Limited). The NorCal veterinary school, also ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report, is renowned for applying a “one health” approach that recognizes the connections between human, animal, and environmental health.

Q: My mare refuses to let me treat her with a syringe of paste dewormer. What can I do?


Clean out some used syringes and load them with applesauce, syrup, or molasses. Then, each day for several days before a deworming, “syringe” your horse with a treat. When it’s time to deworm, put some of the treat on the outside of the actual deworming syringe. Source:

November 2016 19

YourHorse YourLife

SOLUTIONS Ride to Win Stand out at your next clinic by looking your best.


Good Impressions

The problem: Keeping your horse’s papers, medical information, and training records all in one place and readily available is a hassle. The solution: Merial’s Ride to Win iPhone app. This app allows you to create a unique profile for each horse and keep his health papers, registration documents, and medical information in one place. Don’t stress about remembering when to deworm; this app sets reminders to let you know when it’s time. What you’ll love: Track your training benchmarks at home and at horse shows, store patterns, and keep track of points. You can also include information, like hotel or flight reservations, specific to each show. More info: Download on the Apple App

Many clinics you attend are organized and put on by equine professionals and judges. When you partake in clinics you also represent yourself. Make a lasting positive impression by looking your best. Clean up your boots, wear a nice pair of jeans, and a nice top or button-down shirt. Your horse should also look the part. Take time to groom him and use clean, properly fitted tack.

Pair your boots with the right socks for a comfortable fit. The Everyday Sock

The Horse-Show Sock

The Winter Sock

Fitting Your Socks

In warmer months and climates, wear a thinner sock that wicks away moisture and keeps your feet cool and dry.

For the shows that keep you on your feet all day, look into socks that provide extra padding where blisters occur.

Wool socks work great for winter riding. A thick wool sock won’t lose insulation if it gets wet from perspiration.

To keep you on your feet, use a comfortable, tall sock that fits snug, so it doesn’t fall down while you’re riding.

20 November 2016

Control your horse’s hair growth and maintain heat cycles this winter by using the OWLEDHW barn light fixture by Orion West Lighting ($96.50; This barn light consumes 29 watts, but is equivalent to a 300-watt, full-spectrum incandescent bulb; has a 5-year replacement warranty; and offers a projected life of 20 to 25 years. It’s sealed and shatterproof, so when it’s time for spring cleaning you can use your power washer on it.

“Good Impressions” photo by Nichole Chirico

Sock Solutions


YourHorse YourLife

Quarter-Crack Q&A Here’s what you need to know about healing and preventing quarter cracks in your horse’s hooves.


uarter cracks can be a frustrating problem. For real-world answers, we turned to Bob Smith, owner of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, California, and a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame. What are quarter cracks? The hoof is divided into three areas: the toe, the quarters, and the heels. Any crack appearing in the “side” of the hoof—that is, the quarters—is considered a quarter crack. Such cracks are typically vertical, starting at the coronary band and running down. Like most other hoof cracks, they generally begin inside the hoof before presenting visually on the outside. What causes them? Quarter cracks have various causes, including trauma to the coronary band, a prior injury to the coronary band resulting in the growth of defective horn, and poor conformation resulting in excessive weight-bearing on one side of the foot. Other conformation faults that can be factors include long toes with under-run, poorly functioning heels (a

Photos courtesy of Bob Smith, Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School

How Long for Healing? The length of time a horse will need to be laid off depends on the severity of the crack and its complications. Bleeding and/ or infected cracks take longer to heal. Under the right circumstances, a crack without complications can be stabilized by your farrier (using composite materials and possibly wire laces) and the horse returned to activity within 24 to 36 hours.

Quarter cracks typically start near the coronary band in the quarter section of the hoof (left). This mushroom shoe was applied to a large mare with bilateral quarter cracks; the design transfers weight onto the frog, allowing the heels to “float” and the cracks to heal.

major cause); severely toed-out or toedin feet; offset knees; and small hooves on a large horse. Horses that inherit thin hoof walls and poor hoof quality are also predisposed to quarter cracks. Hoof care resulting in imbalanced feet and/ or an improper footfall, where one side absorbs excessive stress when the foot strikes the ground, can occasionally be factors as well. If I see a crack, should I call my vet or farrier? If your horse is lame on the foot or if there’s blood or other moisture coming from the crack, call your veterinarian. If it’s a small crack with no lameness, call your farrier to discuss options for keeping the crack from developing further. With a painful crack, your horse will need a coordinated effort from a vet and farrier willing to work together to determine the cause. Your horse should be evaluated moving on a hard surface with attention paid to how the foot lands and loads. Treatment will depend on the cause of the crack, and may include a special pressure-relieving shoe (egg bar, straight bar, Z-bar, heart bar, or mushroom bar). Composite

glue-on, aluminum, or traditional steel shoes may be used. Wire “stitching” and patching with composite materials (polyurethanes, acrylics) to stabilize the crack may also be required and in simple cases may be enough to allow healing. In some instances, a 60-day barefoot turnout may even be the best course of action. What can I do to keep a crack from recurring? Just stabilizing a crack is a band-aid. Unless causes are addressed, you can be sure another crack will occur. If conformation flaws or scar tissue on the coronary band are factors, compensating measures (possibly special shoes) must be maintained by a competent hoof professional. Horses with naturally weak hooves should have in-depth blood work to determine mineral or vitamin deficiencies that may respond to diet modifications and/or supplementation to encourage the production of quality horn.

Learn about the causes, treatment, and prevention of horizontal hoof cracks. November 2016 21


Save or Splurge?


When gift shopping for the holidays, we all weigh our options to fit our budgets. Here are five product categories that make great gifts in a variety of price ranges.

Find a hat they’ll love to wear around the barn at a price that fits your holiday budget.




Hobby Horse The ultra-suede fringed chaps provide a great fit, come in a variety of colors, and are lighter and cooler than leather chaps. You can even machine-wash these in between horse shows. More info: $359.95;

Yucca Flats Saddle Pads Stand out in the show pen with this hand-woven show blanket (#G-91). Yucca Flats dye their own wool, which allows their pads to have rich, vibrant colors. Choose from a variety of patterns. More info: $285; yucca fl

Weaver Leather Use this boldly colored saddle pad (#35-9339-X2) for a wide range of disciplines. The EVA sport foam conforms to your horse’s back, and the topper is 100-percent New Zealand wool. More info: $175;

Shorty’s Hattery Style: Camel whiskey buckstitch. More info: Visit shortyshattery .com.

Resistol Hats Style: Crossroads Jr. More info: $39.99; store.resistolhat .com.



Women’s Boots Logan Western Supply Brighten up your boot selection by adding the Oryx lizard boot to your collection (#LWS026). The Oryx comes with a 10-inch top and leather sole. More info: $390; logan


Saddle Pads

Women’s Chaps Bonnie Caylor Custom Chaps These leather chaps give you freedom to change up your look. Zip-in colored fringe to stand out in trail, then detach before horsemanship for a more traditional look. More info: Price upon request; (626) 961-8827.



Men’s Button-Down Shirt Ariat The Round Up wide square-toe is a versatile boot that’s great if you prefer your boots to have a full-leather foot and more toe room. More info: $149.95;

22 November 2016

CR Ranchwear He’ll look sharp inside and outside the arena in this men’s red-and-black shirt made from 100-percent Italian cotton and handmade in Texas. More info: $179;

Cinch This burgundy-print buttondown long-sleeve shirt keeps you looking good without losing functionality while you’re on the ranch (#MTW1104354). More info: 59.95;

Charlie 1 Horse Style: Ellie Mae Hat Jr. More info: $130; maverickwestern

Bonnie Caylor Custom Chaps photo by Larry Williams Photography

YourHorse YourLife


Sam before.


EquiLife’s Formula4 Feet is considered the leading natural horse hoof supplement on the market today. It has gained this prestigious position by providing unique benefits for horses with poor hoof horn quality, cracked hooves, weak heels and founder. Formula4 Feet provides over 65 micronutrients, in a highly palatable pellet. These include 13 vitamins, 18 amino acids, 16 minerals, 4 antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, making it the perfect hoof health supplement. Formula4 Feet is non-GMO and batch tested for common contaminants and may be used under FEI rules. Developed by Robert Eustace of The Laminitis Clinic, in collaboration with Dr. David Frape, Formula4 Feet also provides essential nutritional support for healthy metabolism and glucose levels for the ‘easy keeper’. Due to it’s comprehensive formulation, Formula4 Feet is an excellent general supplement to help keep your horse in tip top health and build strong hooves.

SPEEDI-BEET SUPER FIBER FEED Non GMO, Low Sugar, No Starch — A highly nutritious quick soaking beet pulp flake with no added molasses, 95% sugar free and no starch.

Sam after.

FIBRE-BEET SUPER CONDITIONING FEED Non GMO, Low Sugar, Low Starch — A carefully formulated combination of Speedi-Beet, alfalfa, oat fiber and biotin, a superb conditioning fiber feed and forage replacer.

Visit our website for a list of local dealers. CALL FOR YOUR FREE SAMPLE!

Sam today. “After only two months of receiving Formula4 Feet, the farrier commented “What have you done to this horse’s feet, they are much stronger to nail to and more ‘uptogether.” Farriers are not always easy to convince of the benefits of hoof supplements. Sam’s farrier made his complimentary remarks when unaware of the recent change to Formula4 Feet.”

Dealer Inquiries Welcome

EMERALD VALLEY NATURAL HEALTH® Call toll free 888.638.8262 or visit our website


Warm Up for Horsemanship Get your body ready to assume the horsemanship position with these exercises.

By Brian Henry, With Jennifer Paulson Photos by Jennifer Paulson


ou warm up your horse before a training session or a show class. You probably ease into your own workouts at the gym. But do you use warm-up exercises to get yourself into horsemanship position in the saddle? Here, I’ll outline exercises my riders use to both build strength to improve their horsemanship position at home and to get themselves ready before a class. Hold the positions as long as you can, take a short break, and resume the exercise. Work through each gait, progressing from walk to jog to lope as you build strength and confidence. →

November 2016 25






4b 1

Let’s begin by discussing what the optimal horsemanship position looks like. A strong leg is a necessity to maintain the position that aligns your ear, shoulder, hip, and heel. I prefer to see a rider sit on her seat bones and connect to the saddle with her thighs. From the knee down, contact between the rider’s calf muscles and the horse keeps her legs quiet. The rider here shows a strong leg in a good position. A weak leg moves forward or backward, out of alignment. The rider must compensate for that misalignment by hunching forward or leaning backward, which puts her off balance and out of position.


It might sound easy, but the strength required to stand in your stirrups without tipping forward or backward will test you. Stretch down through your heels, maintain the line from ear to shoulder to hip to heel as best you can. Begin with a few strides at a time, and work up to a few laps around the arena. When you return to the seated position, don’t slack your body’s alignment; stay in position even when you’re taking a break. Ultimate challenge: Drop your stirrups and “stand” in your saddle. Use your inner thighs 26 November 2016

to elevate your seat from the saddle, while maintaining your body and leg alignment.


The two-point position isn’t just for going over jumps. You can use it to build leg strength in a Western saddle, too. Tip your body slightly forward at the waist, lift your seat





Arm exercises further test your balance and leg strength by offsetting your balance just enough that you have to work harder to keep your legs in place. Begin with your nonrein hand (this rider’s right hand), and then swap your reins to the other side. Work both arms to keep your balance and strength even. Begin with one arm straight out in front of you. Don’t sacrifice your leg position; maintain the straight line discussed in Photo 1. Work at all gaits, and add time with each attempt to build strength.


Next, put your arm straight up in the air. Stretch your fingers to the sky, but don’t elevate your lifted arm’s shoulder higher than your other shoulder. Keep your shoulders square and balanced to avoid developing bad habits in your upper-body posture while you work on building leg strength. from the saddle, and keep your legs in alignment, from hip to heel. It’s easy to push your legs behind you in this position. Work to hold your leg underneath your body, in alignment with your ear, shoulder, and hip. Keep your leg quiet (minimize movement) as you travel along. Ultimate challenge: Drop your stirrups, and assume a two-point position.


You probably already think about stretching your heels down as far as you can (4a) to strengthen your leg and show good heel position when you compete. Keep that up, and work on it at all gaits. But also add toe-down exercises (4b) to keep your calf muscle flexible. Pointing down also changes your balance as you walk, jog, and lope, which gives your legs another challenge. Use care when practicing these exercises with spurs so you don’t inadvertently jab your horse with a rowel, especially in the toe-down position. Quick-comfort tip: When you take a break after deep-heel and toe-down exercises, roll your ankles around to help loosen them and prepare for another round.


Finally, stretch your arm out perpendicular to your body. Keep your shoulders square, and don’t be tempted to get lazy and let your arm creep up or down! Keep it straight out from your shoulder. Ultimate challenge: Drop the opposite stirrup of the arm you have extended forward, up, or to the side to further challenge your balance and leg strength. Brian Henry owns and operates Limelite Show Horses out of Fruita, Colorado, with John Zeldenthuis. Henry, an APHA Professional Horseman, coaches youth and amateur riders for all-around competition in Paint and Pinto breed shows, as well as training and exhibiting in open classes within those breeds. His successes include 36 total world and reserve world titles in classes varying from hunter under saddle to trail to leadline, a class his daughter competes in on the horse shown in this lesson. Learn more at November 2016 27

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Get Your Mojo Back Focus on your comeback rather than your setback to move on from mistakes.

By Bob Avila, With Jennifer Paulson Photos by Marc Laxineta, DVM


confidence-busting accident can come in many forms—a fall, an injury, a big loss. Or it can be something as simple as going off pattern or making a bad decision in a clutch situation. No matter the circumstances, you have a choice: Give up or get tough and keep going. If you’re still reading, then I’ll assume you’re the type who wants to try to move on. Here’s my advice for regaining your spirit after a challenge gets the best of you.

It Happens to Everyone The first thing to understand is you’re not alone. The best horse trainers, athletes—anyone who strives to succeed— find themselves in your situation at times in life. It’s happened to me lots of times. Sure, it’d be easier to give up. It’s hard to keep going, to suck it up and go do what you need to do. You’re not the first person to find yourself in that situation. And you’re also not the first person who has to get past it. If other achievers can do it, so can you.

Use Your Emotions the Right Way When I make mistakes in the show pen, I get mad. I might not show it if I’m around other people, and I definitely don’t take it out on my horse, but you can bet I’m upset with myself on the inside. I use that anger to my advantage. It drives me to learn from the mistake, and try never to make it again. And then I move 30 November 2016

No matter the confidence-busting circumstances, you have a choice: Give up or get tough and keep going.

on. I don’t hang onto my anger or any other emotions tied to a mistake. The worst thing you can do is pout and dwell on it. I call it “throwing your sucker in the dirt.” If you pout, throw a fit, take it out on your horse—basically act like a toddler—you’ll have a much harder time moving on and finding success. Winners (whether it’s with a ribbon or achieving a personal goal) don’t like to lose. They don’t like the emotions that come with a failure. So they use that to motivate themselves to improve and move past the misstep.

Focus—and Eliminate Distractions The easiest distraction to eliminate

when you’re working through a setback is your phone. Leave it in the tack room, stash it in the truck, give it to your trainer—just don’t take it with you when you get in the saddle. Whether it’s at home or at a competition, ditch the phone and laser-focus on your horse, your ride, and your goal. Your phone—the text messages, emails, Facebook posts, voicemails— will be there when you’re unsaddled. Until then, don’t let it steal any of your moving-forward focus. Another common distraction: Family and friends who come to watch you ride. I understand that it’s encouraging to have a cheering section and fun to show off your horse and all your hard

Don’t divide your attention between distractions like your phone and friends who come to watch you compete. Focus all of your energy on your ride and performance.

work. But don’t let your audience steal your focus. Catching up with friends instead of studying your pattern, or sitting in the stands with your family rather than warming up your horse the right way are common mistakes. When your guests divide your attention, that’s when you’re sure to go off pattern, lose

a cow, or pick up a wrong lead. Your concentration is parsed out between too many things when all of your energy should be going into your ride.

Move On

done, but it’s necessary. If you hang onto your mistake or dwell on your injury, you’re destined to repeat it. It’s called a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” When you ride into the arena hoping you won’t go off course the way you did last time, you’re going to go off course. Or if you hope that your horse won’t spook and buck you off the same way he did the last time you rode, he probably will. It’s really that simple. Instead, ride into the arena picturing your perfect performance, leaving the past behind you. Ride past the imaginary goblin that spooked your horse as if nothing is there. Sometimes you don’t have any choice but to let it go immediately. I had a customer make a big mistake, but then he had another horse to show right away. I helped him shake off the setback and put it out of his mind so he could focus on his other horse. If he’d held onto his upset from his first horse, then he’d be looking at twice as much regret when he made a mistake on his second horse. A true winner learns from mistakes and shakes off the loss so he can be ready to face the next challenge.

Get over it. Move forward. Put the past behind you. It’s easier said than Trainer as Psychologist It’s not uncommon for me to play the role of my riders’ psychologist. All trainers and coaches find themselves in that position at some point. The important thing is to recognize each rider’s differences and how they process mistakes, losses, fears, and other difficult situations. I know that I can be tough on some of my riders and my harsher words and tone will resonate with them and push them to do better. But other customers might need me to tone it down. I also know my customers’ anxiety triggers. For example, I know if a rider will be rattled if he draws first to go in a class. I’m fully prepared to help him get mentally set for his performance and help him realize that going first isn’t always a bad thing—and can even be a good thing. No matter the situation, it’s my job to help my riders get going in a positive direction after a setback and help them build back their confidence. But they have to be ready to do the work, process their emotions, eliminate distractions, and move on if they want a successful future.

Read “How to Handle a Spook” so your horse’s next “monster sighting” doesn’t derail your confidence.

A multiple AQHA world champion, Avila has also won three NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurities, the NRHA Futurity, and two World’s Greatest Horseman titles. He received the AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year honor. His Avila Training Stables, Inc., is in Temecula, California. Learn more at

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Evaluate and place these Tennessee Walking Horse mares. Then see how your choices compare to our expert judge’s.

Shannon Gibbs Shannon Gibbs of Apex, North Carolina, rode her very first horse to a National Walking Horse Association (NWHA) National Championship in country pleasure racking. She’s been a judge for the NWHA since 2011 and the Walking Horse Owners Association (WHOA) since 2012. This year she’s also judged Peruvian Pasos, Paso Finos, Morgans, Single Footer Horses, and Gaited Mules. Gibbs is earning her DQP (Designated Qualified Person) License with WHOA, which enables her to inspect show entries for soundness. This year she’s judging the WHOA International Show as well as the NWHA National Show.



look for specific traits when judging Tennessee Walking Horses. A good example of the breed has a head with a chiseled appearance and wellplaced eyes. The head should be proportional to the body and join the neck at a 45-degree angle. Ideally, the horse’s withers are level with the hips, and long, sloped shoulders enable a large reach with the front legs. The croup should slope smoothly to the tail head, and the back should be short to medium length, with a bottom line that’s one-and-a-half to two times longer than the topline. I look for wellmuscled hindquarters that are proportional to the rest of the body. The hind legs should have wellangled hocks for driving power from behind. Most of our horses in classes strictly for conformation are presented in a “parked” position, with the front legs right up under the horse and the hind legs extended out behind. → For a more detailed guide that’ll help you master Conformation Clinic, see “Decoding Conformation Clinic” at


C November 2016 33


First: Mare C


his chestnut mare has good overall structure and angles that’ll help her pull with her front end and drive with her hind end. Her hocks have a good angle and good bone to push from the rear. Her shoulders present the ideal 90-degree angle if we connect one line from her withers to the point of her shoulder and another line from point of shoulder to elbow. Her long, sloping shoulders

allow her to reach up and forward for the pulling action required when gaiting correctly and covering ground. Her legs are clean and correct, though her forelegs appear much lighter-boned than her sturdy hind legs. In addition to good structure in her hind end and shoulders, she has a pretty, refined head, with large eyes and nostrils and shapely ears. Her neck has good length, but ideally could be

a little thicker. She has good muscling throughout and a short, strong back with a long underline shown off by her parked-out stance.

acute than the ideal 90 degrees, which provides less reaching and pulling abilities in her front end. Her front legs look clean with good, flat knees and good pastern slope. She has an attractive head, and though her neck is a little lighter than ideal, it’s shapely and long enough to give the up-and-down head nod we want when she’s gaiting. She’s level from withers to croup, but her croup drops off more sharply to her tail head

than Mare C’s. (If she were parked out, her croup could appear less steep.) Her underline is a little more dropped-looking than Mare C’s taut underline.

She has a good long and taut underline, and is desirably level from her withers to the high point of her croup. Her back is short and strong, and her croup slopes nicely to her tail head. As good-looking as she is, this mare’s hocks are straighter than ideal for the walking gait (and more similar to the way racking horses are typically built), which leads me to think she’ll want to rack. Judged against Tennessee Walking

Horses, that places her behind Mares C and A. Her straighter hocks won’t produce the forward driving movement expected of Walking Horses.

Second: Mare A


his spotted mare has lighter muscling than Mare C, but better toned musculature. Her overall hind-end structure with her hocks set directly under her should provide plenty of ability to achieve the forward drive we want from her hind end. She places behind Mare C primarily because her shoulder is shorter and its angle, formed by the two lines meeting at her point of shoulder, is more

Third: Mare B


his attractive blue roan mare is a cross between a Tennessee Walking Horse and a Racking Horse, two gaited breeds. Depending on the way such a cross is built, it’ll be more inclined toward the walking gait or the rack. Her head is nicely shaped, and her neck has the best substance of the three mares. Her shoulders are long and wellsloped, though without that perfect 90-degree angle that Mare C exhibits.

To submit a photo of your horse to be evaluated in Conformation Clinic, send us a left-side profile photo of your horse (for digital photos: high-resolution, 300 dpi, in at least 3" x 5") to with your contact info and your horse’s breed, age, gender, and height. (We welcome all breeds!) Visit for additional instructions.

34 November 2016

The ’90s make for a fun party theme, not an effective equine vaccine. You can party like it’s 1999 all you want, but when it comes to effective horse health solutions, it’s time to get serious. Other manufacturers rely on vaccines from the past century. Vetera® is designed with every horse’s long-term health in mind. Through our recently updated portfolio of vaccines, we are committed to providing horses with the best defense against the viruses that threaten them today. Ask your veterinarian or visit to learn about our updated portfolio of vaccinations. Vetera is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH. ©2016 Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. BIVI/VETE/161022


‘Stop and Drop’ for Ultimate Control Master this exercise, and your confidence in the saddle will reach a new level. By Scott Purdum, With J. Forsberg Meyer


nowing you can control your horse in any situation is a great confidence builder. One exercise to foster this kind of control is the “stop and drop.” It enables you to stop your horse at any speed and drop his poll toward the ground, all in one fluid motion. While it sounds simple in theory, it does take some practice. Let’s break the training down to its component steps so it’s easy to understand. Step 1: Lower the poll. The first step is to teach your horse to lower his head. Start mounted, at a standstill. Take hold of the reins with both hands and start drawing back, applying a little more pressure in one rein than the other to ask for a slight tip to one side as well as a lowering of his head. (Asking for a slight lateral bend will make it easier for your horse to understand, as opposed to applying an equal pull on both reins.) Use only enough pressure to get the reaction you desire—a slight head drop. At first your horse may offer something different, such as raising his head, backing up, or even bracing and pulling back. Just be patient and maintain the gentle pressure until he does finally drop his head—even if just a smidge— then instantly release the pressure so he knows this is what you wanted. Next time, ask him to drop his head a bit more. Repeat until he becomes fluent in this, and will lower his head at least down to the level of his knees. Step 2: Walk to a stop. Once you can reliably “ask” your horse’s head down at 36 November 2016

As you practice the “stop and drop” over time, your horse will learn to relax at all gaits, as he knows he might be asked to stop and lower his head at any time.

a standstill, move him forward a short distance at a walk, then ask for a stop and drop. Do this by relaxing your seat, saying whoa, and drawing back on the reins in the exact same way that you did at a standstill. If your horse stops but doesn’t immediately drop his head, maintain the gentle pressure on the reins (with a bit more pressure in one than the other, as before), until he does, then instantly release. If he backs up a little while dropping his head, that’s OK—go ahead and release the pressure. Eventually he’ll stop backing and simply drop his head once he realizes what you’re after.

(and this may take many practice sessions over time) should you try it at a lope. Once you’re ready to try the lope, be sure you’ve spent a good bit of time continuously trotting, as this will put both you and your horse in the right mental frame to try it at the faster gait.

Step 3: Move faster, longer. Once your horse stops and drops reliably from a short walk, start asking for “more.” Walk farther before stopping, then eventually try it after a few steps at a trot. Gradually build the distance you go at a trot before asking for the stop and drop. Only after you feel completely confident riding this exercise at a trot

Scott Purdum is a trainer, coach, and clinician based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Clinics at his ranch and at other venues in the east focus on horsemanship, working obstacles, colt-starting, and more. Learn about his Advantage Horsemanship Program at

Keep at it. No matter your confidence level when you start this exercise, if you follow these steps, in this order, as incrementally as necessary to achieve results, you’ll be on your way to having a whole new outlook on riding. And your confidence will be boosted to the next level!

Photos courtesy of Scott Purdum/Advantage Horsemanship

Cashel Trail Saddle Collection Exclusively made for Cashel® by Martin Saddlery®, Cashel’s saddles are built to provide comfort and security for horse and rider. Designed around Martin’s Axis True Fit Saddle Tree, we go out of our way to make sure we offer horsemen the utmost in fit, fuction and value in a trail saddle.

No matter what you need, we have the right saddle for you.

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Resistol RideSafe Resistol RideSafe is now the 2IƓFLDO3URWHFWLYH+HDGZHDU of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association and the


the great American cowboy for more than 80 years. Yet, with this commitment to tradition, they also recognize the heightened demand for rider safety given the growth in horse related sports and activities, faster and WRXJKHUFRPSHWLWLRQVDQGWKHEHQHƓFLDOUHVXOWVRIWKHUDpeutic riding. Resistol RideSafe offers the perfect combination of the Western cowboy hat styling and protective headwear to bring tradition into the 21st century. 5LGH6DIHLVWKHRQO\IHOWKDWRQWKHPDUNHWZLWKWKHƓW feel, and look of a cowboy hat that also offers the industryleading protection technology of a helmet. Unfortunately, accidents can happen to the best of us, but Ridesafe allows HYHU\RQHIURPEHJLQQHUVWRROGKDQGVWRULGHLQFRQƓGHQFH Resistol Hats are manufactured in Garland, Texas, with the highest standards for quality and consistency. Resistol provides a full line of felt and straw cowboy hats as well as men’s and women’s apparel. Visit the website to order your protective hat online now.

5 Star Equine

Synergist Saddles

5 Star Equine knows the needs of working horses, and that’s why the company makes its saddle pads with 100% pure virgin wool. The Trail Rider 5 Star 6DGGOH3DGZDVRULJLQDOO\GHVLJQHGWRƓWWKH7XFNHU6DGGOH It is a square-skirted pad that is a great trail-riding pad for wider, shorter trail saddles. The 100% pure virgin wool felt wicks away moisture, cleans up easily, and stabilizes your saddle with limited cinching. Wear leathers provide protection and durability. Plus, you can buy with pride, as these pads are handmade in the USA. Unlike square-cut pads, the 5 Star Pad is French Curved to follow a horse’s back contour with special attention to wither height, back-line variance, and hip placement. This GHVLJQPDNHVWKHSDGDQRSWLPDOƓWIRUHYHU\KRUVHDQG saddle — no frustrating break-in time or extra pads needed. The 5 Star Pad also stands the test of time with better overall performance over 2,000-plus hours of riding. Visit the 5 Star website to see all the different styles available.; (870) 389-6328

Synergist Saddles makes custom saddles for horses and mules, offering everything from custom Western saddles to trail, endurance, and English. Handmade in Wyoming, quality craftsmen use the EQUImeasure kit, which creates a 3D mold of your horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s back, to FUHDWHDVDGGOHFXVWRPĆ&#x201C;WIRUDEDOanced ride and close-contact feel. But the customization doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop WKHUHĹ&#x2039;WKHVHVDGGOHVDUHFXVWRPĆ&#x201C;WIRUWKHFRPIRUWRIWKH ULGHUDVZHOO<RXURZQVSHFLĆ&#x201C;FPHDVXUHPHQWVJXLGHWKH FUHDWLRQRIDVDGGOHEXLOWJHQGHUVSHFLĆ&#x201C;FZLWKLQGLYLGXDOized seat-bone depressions to provide you with unparalleled riding comfort. Free-swinging fenders allow freedom of movement and can alleviate pain caused by rigid fenders. A unique â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jean Seam Channelâ&#x20AC;? built into the seat is just one of the details contrived through personal experience of the Synergist Saddles team. Your saddle will be truly one-of-a-kind with more than 50 options that range from leather color to FXVWRPWRROLQJDQGWKHDGGLWLRQRIVDGGOHEDJVRUDULĹ´H holster. Visit the website to explore more options and order your own Synergist Saddle with Comfort, Fit, Balance, and Craftsmanship.; (307) 433-1008

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Phoenix Rising Saddles

Dixie Midnight

The saddlemakers at Phoenix Rising Saddles have a passion for horses. Their desire to provide both horse and rider the most comfort possible drives everything they do. Flexible trees specially designed with gaited horses in mind and the Supracor© therapeutic padding combine for freedom of motion and comfort while ideally distributing the rider’s weight. Ride in comfort and security — the saddle keeps you balanced in a close-contact “bareback” position. The tree of the Imus 4-Beat® Saddle is supple enough to allow freedom of movement in your horse’s back with little to no contact at the shoulders and loins. Plus, the saddle FDQƓWHYHQWKHKDUGHVWWRƓWKRUVHV2WKHUDGYDQWDJHVRI the Imus 4-Beat® Saddle include fewer soundness problems and the ability to comfortably collect into a rounded frame. Although products are designed with the gaited horse in mind, the company’s tack works great for both gaited and nongaited horses. Phoenix Rising Saddles’ knowledgeable staff members provide pre- and post-sale support. You can ride assured that you are making the right choice for you and your horse with a no-strings-attached 14-day trial period.; (716) 665-2999

Never wash another saddle pad again — ever. The Dixie Midnight NoSweat vent pad keeps your horse’s back cooler and keeps your saddle pad clean and dry, no matter how hard you ride for as long as you own it — or your money back. It’s the best guarantee in the business! Dixie Midnight No-Sweat vent pads are used in every VDGGOHGLVFLSOLQHRQƓYHFRQWLQHQWV7KRXVDQGVRIHQGXUance riders, working cowboys, and trail riders use the No-Sweat vent pad because it works — and has for 20 years. Guaranteed. 7KH1R6ZHDWSDGLVPRUHWKDQŴH[LEOHHQRXJKWRƓWMXVW about any horse and is available in eight different sizes, all in midnight (of course) blue. It is antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial, so it is safe to use on all your horses, all GD\7KHSDGLVHDV\WRFOHDQŋMXVWULQVHLWRIIZLWKDKRVHLW dries in minutes and is quickly ready for another use. Between 5/16 -inch and 3/8 -inch thick, the pad maintains its thickness throughout its life and weighs only between 3 and 4 pounds. There is only ONE Dixie Midnight No-Sweat vent pad — accept no imitations!; (888) 287-6716 (Toll Free)

Because you love your horse... you care about their comfort

~ Humane and effective tack for all horse types ~ Natural gait training articles and videos ~ A+ rating with the BBB 716.665.2999

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Soft RideTM boots include exclusive Deep Gel orthotics and are the only comfort boot that can be used with or without shoes. The gel insert improves circulation in the hoof and provides relief of static tension to the deep Ĺ´H[RUWHQGRQ:LWKRSWLRQVVSHFLĆ&#x201C;FDOO\IRUKRUVHV with medical conditions, Soft RideTM Gel Comfort Boots come in 18 sizes, so \RXĹ?UHVXUHWRĆ&#x201C;QGDJUHDWĆ&#x201C;WWRLQYLJRUDWHDQGUHOLHYH\RXU horse. For the competitor in your life, check out the new Soft-RideTM Ice Spa. Great for pre- and post-workout or competition, as well as for therapeutic-icing procedures, the Ice Spa naturally and safely provides rapid recovery IURPLQĹ´DPPDWLRQ)RUPRUHLQIRUPDWLRQFKHFNRXWWKH Soft-Ride website.; (885) 763-8743

Muddy Creek Rain Gear When out on the trail or working on the ranch in inclement weather, a rider needs the best protection money can buy. Muddy Creek Rain Gear understands the needs of horsemen and â&#x20AC;&#x201D; women, and the products show it. Made from lightweight, durable, waterproof, breathable, and washable fabric, Muddy Creek Rain Gear cannot be beat for all-weather riding gear. Whether it is a short coat that is great for riding, chores, or just walking the dog (with a matching dog coat!) or the long coat for ultimate coverage, Muddy Creek Rain Gear will keep you dry and comfortable. The long coat features ODUJHH[WHUQDOSRFNHWVZLWK9HOFURĹ VWRUPĹ´DSVDQGD convenient internal pocket, a detachable hood, and an oversize cut to ensure you and your saddle are covered from top to bottom, front to back, guaranteed. Give the gift of warmth this holiday season with hats, bags, gloves, and knives manufactured with the horseperson in mind. Shop online at Muddy Creek Rain Gearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website.; (425) 243-2620

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Cody Grey Latigo

Spirithorse Designs

Super safe and easy-touse are what make the patented Cody Grey latigo and off billet so unique. Made from high-quality leather, they are easy to attach and remove without special tools, rawhide strings, or buckles. Three years of research went into this novel design, and the results are amazing. In a perfect blend of innovation and classic style, the Cody Grey latigo and off billet straps distribute weight and pressure over a larger, double, interlocked area, providing DVLJQLĆ&#x201C;FDQWO\VWURQJHUDQGVDIHUEDVHZKHQULGLQJZKLOH PDLQWDLQLQJDĹ´DWWUDGLWLRQDOORRN Watch the video on the website (below) to understand how easily the latigo and off billet are to use, and why they present a safer option than three holes and a rawhide string. Your life shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hang from a thread â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and neither should your saddle! These are great gifts or stocking stuffers for any horseperson whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s looking for a cool design that offers increased safety and ease-of-use. They are the perfect blend of something new and useable while saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I care.â&#x20AC;? The Cody Grey latigo and off billet straps have earned a top spot on many ridersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; holiday wish lists!; (408) 438-1915

Personalized gifts are the best gifts, and Spirithorse Designs Kael Wrap Horse Hair Bracelet is the perfect choice if you want to be the best gift-giver this year. This gorgeous gypsy-style horse hair bracelet is long enough to wrap around your wrist twice and is a perfect way to show off your horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s JRUJHRXVQDWXUDOFRORUV,WLVFUHDWHGZLWKDIRXUVWUDQGĹ´DW braid, tightly woven to make it perfect for everyday wear. You can even add a personalized charm to make it even more unique. To have a bracelet made from that special horse in your life, a minimum of 18 to 20 inches of hair from the tail is needed, and the bundle should be .5 inches (1.27cm) or the WKLFNQHVVRI\RXUSLQNLHĆ&#x201C;QJHU$Q\XQXVHGKDLUZLOOEHUHWXUQHGXQOHVVRWKHUZLVHVSHFLĆ&#x201C;HGRU\RXFDQXVHVWRFNKDLU Spirithorse Designs offers free shipping on orders over $175. Because these bracelets are handmade, orders must be received by November 27th in order to deliver by Christmas. Orders ship within two to three weeks of receipt of hair or stock hair order. Visit the website for more photos and other products from Spirithorse Designs.; (682) 593-9366

Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s different a Smooth Stride R We all love blue jeans. all day long at work, fo for riding. But you can horses in blue jeansâ&#x20AC;Ś c say, right? Rodeos, barr cowgirls, trail riding an you brave (and uncom risk sensitive parts of y expensive saddles. Smooth Stride Riding J designed to solve this p Imagine a real blue jea inseam! Cut for mature supremely comfortable riding jean. Not an urb cowboy dancing jean, b practical, tough, U.S. m jean for horsewomen t will perform for hours saddle. Three styles, th lengths, and a full rang plus sizes too! So if your jeans rub yo Look for the features video and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Colt Specialâ&#x20AC;?! What a great gift for yourself or a friend for the Holidays!

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Bitless Bridle

Kimes Ranch

The Dr. CookÂŽ BitlessBridle is a safe, effective alternative to using a bit. With over 100,000 users to date, it is the most tested, most trusted bitless bridle on the market. While other bitless options work primarily off of the horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nose and cause discomfort, the Dr. CookÂŽ BitlessBridle applies gentle, evenly distributed pressure around the whole of the horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s head. When turning, it not only applies a pull, but a nudge on the opposite side of the horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s face. It works for both direct and neck reining and for all disciplines. 6L]HVDUHDYDLODEOHWRĆ&#x201C;WDOOKRUVHVĹ&#x2039;IURPD0LQLWRD Draft. The bridle comes in English- and Western-style leather, genuine Beta Biothane, and nylon in a wide variety of colors. Price range is $69.95 to $219.95. BitlessBridle, Inc., offers a 30-day trial and gives a full UHIXQGLI\RXDUHQRWFRPSOHWHO\VDWLVĆ&#x201C;HG; (866) 235-0938 (Toll Free) (717) 252-2058 (Outside the USA)

The founders of Kimes Ranch set out to make the best quality jeans, sourcLQJHYHU\SURGXFWLRQHOHPHQWĆ&#x201C;QGLQJ the best team of cutters, sewers, and washers until their product was XQGHQLDEO\WKHEHVWĆ&#x201C;WDQGTXDOLW\ They created a jean versatile enough to crossover from Western to everyday wear, with a medium waistline for women that allowed high enough coverage while riding, but a low enough rise to mimic a fashionable street jean. Their menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s jean took on details that others had not considered, like a knife pocket and a more attractive back pocket placement. Kimes Ranch jeans are made from the highest quality, KHDY\ZHLJKWGHQLP0XFKOLNHWKHGHQLPRI\HVWHU\HDU they get better with each wear and have a â&#x20AC;&#x153;break-inâ&#x20AC;? period. Higher-quality raw products cost more upfront, but last longer over time. The folks at Kimes Ranch consider themselves leaders in customer service, with a goal of creating the most positive H[SHULHQFHSRVVLEOHIRUWKHLUFXVWRPHUV7RĆ&#x201C;QGDUHWDLOHU near you, or shop for the best jeans on the market, visit the Kimes Ranch website.; (480) 471-7457

Short Raincoat


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Bale Barns

Smooth Stride Jeans

Sick of the waste and mess that comes with feeding hay? Bale Barns has you covered â&#x20AC;&#x201D; literally. Proudly made in the USA, Bale Barns feature a strong, one-piece design that is both durable and easy-to-use. The Bale Barn measures 8 feet by 8 feet by 69 inches tall, so it can be used with anything from multiple small square bales, a large 8-foot square bale, or a 6-foot round bale. No tractor needed: Just set the bale down, take off WKHZUDSRUVWULQJVĹ´LSWKH%DOH%DUQRYHUWKHKD\DQG youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re good to go. Eight large feeding windows allow easy access and help to eliminate bickering, but with the slow-feed integrated net, you can worry less about the overeaters and other free-choice hay-feeding problems. Plus, when horses eat more slowly, the way nature intended, they are less nervous and not as bored and therefore less destructive. Many Bale Barn users have noticed dramatic reduction in how much hay they have to feed because it all ends up eaten by the animals, not on the ground. For all weather and climates, try the only self-netting, covered hay feeder on the market today.; (406) 565-1325

We all love blue jeans. We wear them all day long at work, for fun, and yes, for riding. But you cannot really ride horses in blue jeansâ&#x20AC;Ś crazy thing to say, right? Rodeos, barrel racing, cowgirls, trail riding, and more. But you brave (and uncomfortable) souls risk sensitive parts of your body and expensive saddles. Smooth Stride Riding Jeans are designed to solve this problem. Imagine a real blue jean without an inseam! Cut for mature women, a supremely comfortable â&#x20AC;&#x153;realâ&#x20AC;? riding jean. Not an urban cowboy dancing jean, but a practical, tough, U.S.-made jean for horsewomen that will perform for hours in the saddle. Three styles, three lengths, and a full range of plus sizes, too! So if your jeans rub you wrong, do not ride another day without checking out Smooth Stride Jeans. Visit the website and look for the features video and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Colt Specialâ&#x20AC;?! What a great gift for yourself or a friend for the holidays!

Cody Grey Latigo & OďŹ&#x20AC; Billet

GO BITLESS ComforT and Joy for you and your horse!





Try the pain-free bridle that started a revolution.

The Dr. CookÂŽ Bitless Bridle A safe, gentle, effective alternative to using a bit.

Cody Grey Latigos and Off Billets are SAFE & EASY to attach; anywhere, anytime, by anyone!

The most accepted, most trusted bitless bridle you can buy, proven by over 100,000 riders since 1999.

A perfect Holiday Gift for any western rider!

Independent rein straps and a smooth, comfortable noseband for a clear, pain-free signal and instant release.

U.S. Patent No. 6,591,589

Purchase online or view our video at:


Try one for 30 days. If you are not fully satisfied, return it for a full refund! or call toll free: 866-235-0938

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Sally Loves Horses!


Children will delight in this beautifully illustrated children’s book — Sally Loves Horses! Sally is charming, energetic, ever so determined, and with just the right amount of fearlessness. She dreams of competing in a barrel race at the rodeo with her friends. Sally is indeed a special little girl, and such

The BuckBuster is an ingenious, patented invention to decrease the likelihood of a horse bucking. This product causes no pain or discomfort to the horse until he activates the device by putting his head down preceding a buck. This causes the device to apply pressure to the base of the horse’s ears until he raises its head, releasLQJWKHSUHVVXUH<RXZLOOEHDEOHWRULGHZLWKFRQƓGHQFH while using the BuckBuster. This unique product is not only effective, but it is also safe and comfortable for the horse — as long as he does not put his head down to buck. He will not even know he has it on. The BuckBuster comes in two different options, either in the original, which requires a bridle overtop, or the BuckBuster Bridle, which eliminates the need for an additional bridle overtop. Either way, say goodbye to your bucking bronco!; (405) 440-3353

inspiration to get up, start moving, and to seek out activities that they love. Sally empowers little girls to make their dreams come true. Hardcover. $19.95. A graceful, inspiring children’s book about horseback riding.” —Kirkus Reviews; Select Booksellers

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Savvy Feeder

Cashel Company

The Savvy Feeder is the smart, healthy way to feed your horse that saves you money â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and that makes it a great gift for both of you! The VWDELOL]HGĹ´RDWLQJJUDWHSURORQJV feeding 4-10 times as long as eating off the ground, reducing the chance of ulcers and eliminating boredom, nervousness, and frustration. The 6DYY\)HHGHUNHHSVWKHKD\RIIWKH ground, which reduces ingestion of sand, manure, bedding, and other things that invite colic, DQGLWVH[FHOOHQWGUDLQDJHHOLPLQDWHVVSRLODJH7KH6DYY\ Feeder allows your horse to forage in a natural head-down SRVLWLRQFRUUHFWO\DOLJQLQJWKHMDZDQGUHGXFLQJWKHULVNRI JXWWXUDOSRXFKLQIHFWLRQ 7KH6DYY\)HHGHUZRUNVMXVWDVZHOOZKHWKHU\RXIHHG SRXQGVRIKD\RUDVPXFKDVDQGZLWKWKHQHZODWFK system, it is better than ever. The Savvy Feeder is light enough to take on the road and versatile enough to be XVHGLQDVWDOOSDVWXUHWUDFNV\VWHPRUDWWKHKLWFKLQJSRVW 0DGHRIVXSHUGXUDEOHSRO\HWK\OHQHWKH6DYY\)HHGHU ODVWVIRU\HDUV:LWKDGD\JXDUDQWHHDQGIUHHVKLSSLQJ whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not to love? Order yours today for that savvy horse lover in your life!; (701) 793-SAVY

When looking for gifts for your horse-loving friends this season, you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go wrong with Cashel. The horsemen at Cashel know what riders need, and carefully design DQGVHOHFWHYHU\SURGXFWLQWKH line. Cashelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s goal is to make going down the trail easier and more fun with convenient and XVHIXOSURGXFWVDWDQDIIRUGDEOHSULFH Whatever your trail-riding or ranch-work needs entail, WKHUHLVDZLGHVHOHFWLRQRIVDGGOHEDJVWRKHOS\RXDORQJ the way. Whether all you want to carry is a drink and your GPS for an afternoon ride or all your gear for a week-long WULS\RXDUHVXUHWRĆ&#x201C;QGWKHEDJV\RXQHHGDW&DVKHO 7KH'HOX[H6DGGOH%DJKDVDSODFHIRUHYHU\WKLQJ6HSDUDWHERWWOHKROGHUVNHHSGULQNVXSULJKWZKLOHWKHUHPRYDEOHOLQHULVZDVKDEOHDQGLQVXODWHG+DQG\FRPSDUWPHQWV NHHSH[WUDJHDUVRUWHGZLWKH[WUDSRFNHWVIRU\RXUSKRQH RUFDPHUD0HVKSRFNHWVRQWKHVLGHVKHOSUHVSRQVLEOHULGHUVNHHSWKHWUDLOFOHDQ &DVKHOĹ?VSURGXFWVDUHVW\OLVKDQGIXQLQDGGLWLRQWREHLQJ functional. Coordinate your look with a range of colors and SDWWHUQVLQFOXGLQJFDPRXĹ´DJHDQGWKHSUHWW\Ĺ?KRWOHDIĹ? SDWWHUQ9LVLW&DVKHOĹ?VZHEVLWHWRJHDUXSIRUDOO\RXUWUDLO riding adventures!;  

Keep Up With Horse&Rider on Social Media for All Your Training, How-To, and Advice Needs!



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SSG Gloves

JT International

With a wide variety of styles for a wide variety of horsemen, SSG gloves are a great gift for yourself and all your horseloving friends. With winter on the way, what better ZD\WRNHHSWKRVHĆ&#x201C;Qgers from freezing with the SSGÂŽ 10 Belowâ&#x201E;˘ waterproof gloves? These gloves are designed with the rider in mind, so you know you can count on them to be just what you need, regardless of your riding or driving discipline. :LWKĆ&#x201C;YHOD\HUVRIZDUPWKWKH%HORZĹ LV66*Ĺ?VZDUPest winter glove, yet modern technology and design make them comfortable and practical, as well. The syntheticOHDWKHUEDFNLQJLPSURYHVZDWHUSURRĆ&#x201C;QJDQGĹ´H[LELOLW\ DQG66*Ĺ?VH[FOXVLYH3RODU)OHHFHZLWKĹ?7KHUPDO)HHOLQJVĹ? material, Wintersun, increases warmth. The waterproof membrane and ThinsulateÂŽ lining keep hands warm and GU\DQGWKH66*'LJLWDO3DOPDOORZV\RXWRJULSDVQHHGHG so you can ride or work all day long. SSGÂŽ 10 Belowâ&#x201E;˘ are offered at a suggested retail price RI)LQGDGHDOHUQHDU\RXRQWKH66*ZHEVLWH

Keep your equine friend warm this winter with the Tough 1ÂŽ 1200D :DWHUSURRI3RO\7XUQRXW%ODQNHW with Snuggitâ&#x201E;˘ Neck. This blanket is tough, made from a 1200-denier, waterproof, ripstop poly outershell with 210 denier lining to resist tears and 250 JUDPVSRO\Ć&#x201C;OOWRNHHSWKHFKLOORXW 7KLVSURGXFWRIIHUVJUHDWĆ&#x201C;WDQGVWD\VLQSODFHWKDQNV WRWKHDGMXVWDEOH6QXJJLWĹ QHFNĹ´HHFHZLWKHUSURWHFtion, crossed surcingles with elastic ends, adjustable and replaceable leg straps with elastic ends, adjustable double EXFNOHIURQWDQGDWDLOĹ´DSWKDWUHGXFHVWDLOEUHDNDJH3OXV the shoulder gussets allow freedom of movement. The stylLVK$PHULFDQ/HJHQGSULQWLVDPL[RIWZRFODVVLF:HVWHUQ prints â&#x20AC;&#x201D; denim and tooled leather. JT International has been manufacturing quality tack and equipment for horses of all sizes at affordable prices since 1973. The research and development staff members are horsemen just like you, and their innovative products make riding safer, more competitive, and more fun no matter what your discipline. -7,QWHUQDWLRQDOĹ?VUREXVWFDWDORJXHRIIHUVPRUHWKDQ 1,200 items and counting, available in all 50 states and more than 50 countries around the world. Visit the website WRVHHWKHQH[WSURGXFW\RXMXVWFDQĹ?WOLYHZLWKRXW; (888) JTI-HORSE


Goodnights Guide to Great Trail Riding: A How to for You and Your Horse, includes a Bonus DVD

Your Complete Guide to Western Dressage: 12 Lessons to Take Your From the Basics to Your First Show

Long-Reining with Double Dan: Safe, Controlled Groundwork Techniques to Build an Effective Partnership on the Ground and Success in the Saddle

John Lyons' Troubleshooting: Your Guide to Fixing Common Problems

Trailmax 500 Series Water Pocket - Highly waterresistant bottle carrier with extra pocket for small essentials, easily attaches to Western and Endurance saddles

Order online at

Meet Sugar ... Sugar found her forever home through and the A Home for Every Horse program after receiving 90 days of training during the 2015 Rocky Mountain Equine Comeback Challenge. Sugar met her new family with three little girls looking for a horse to take them to the next level of competition in junior rodeo. Both loving and GHGLFDWHG6XJDUKDVSURYHQWKDWDUHVFXHKRUVHIRUWKH%HUVWIDPLO\LVDSHUIHFWW

Heart the Cause Today

Find out how by visiting and follow us online:

A Home For Every Horse is brought to you by the Equine Network and sponsored by: ÂŽ

50 November 2016

TOP 10 BLOOD TESTS Learn what blood tests are most meaningful to your veterinarian—and what basic lab work will (or won’t) tell you about your horse’s health. By Barb Crabbe, DVM Illustration by June Brigman


our horse is under the weather, and your vet doesn’t know what’s wrong. “We should probably run some basic lab work,” he explains. “Maybe that’ll help us figure out what to do.” Just about every horse owner has given the green light for “basic lab work” that includes a complete blood count and chemistry panel. I’ll unravel some of the mysteries about basic blood work. I’ll start by explaining the most common reasons I suggest blood work and what factors I consider when interpreting the results. Then I’ll tell you about the 10 tests I always look at first—including what they might mean and how they relate to other tests. You’ll learn why blood work is an important tool in your vet’s tool box, and how to make the most of the results.

Blood-Test Basics Your horse’s blood is his basic internal transport system. It carries oxygen from his lungs to his other organs, delivers nutrients from his intestines, transmits proteins or other specialized cells to places where they’re needed, and carries waste materials away for elimination. When your horse is healthy, the substances in the blood typically stay within a certain range. When something’s wrong, one type of cell or substance may go out of whack. Knowing this provides information to help identify the problem. Hundreds of tests can be performed on a sample of blood, ranging from a simple count of red blood cells to a test for hormone levels that might indicate a specific disease. I’ll limit my focus to the basics, made up of a complete blood count (or CBC) and chemistry panel.

A CBC provides information about the number and characteristics of red and white blood cells circulating in your horse’s system, as well as a breakdown of the different types of white blood cells. The chemistry panel consists of a number of tests that help evaluate the health and function of internal organs, as well as measurement of proteins that are involved with inflammation. Your vet will most likely suggest basic blood work for one of the following five reasons. Your horse is losing weight. The most common reasons for weight loss include parasites, dental problems, and poor nutrition. If your vet determines that these basic issues aren’t the cause and he finds nothing unusual on a physical examination, he’ll suggest blood work that might identify more serious causes for your horse’s weight loss, such as liver or kidney disease. Your horse has a fever. A fever is usually caused by one of three things: an inflammatory problem, a viral infection, or a bacterial infection. Blood work can help your vet determine the likelihood of bacterial involvement, and help him decide whether to treat with antibiotics. It can also help your vet evaluate the severity of your horse’s problem. Your horse is off his feed with no other signs. If your horse stops eating yet shows no other symptoms, and your vet can’t find anything amiss on a physical exam, blood work might help provide an answer—whether it’s a low-grade infection, source of inflammation, or organ dysfunction. Your horse just doesn’t seem right. Your horse might be eating and passing manure normally, but something just “seems off.” Blood work can give you peace of mind that November 2016 51

Basic blood work can give your vet a lot of information, but a single lab value or test doesn’t always tell the whole story. nothing is wrong—or it might give you a clue about a problem brewing. Routine screening. Routine blood work establishes a baseline for comparison if your horse later becomes ill. This is especially useful for older horses that develop chronic problems that sneak up over time. Routine screening is also valuable for performance horses that experience high levels of stress and often are administered medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Although basic blood work can give you and your vet a lot of information about your horse’s health status, a single lab value or set of tests doesn’t always tell the whole story. To make the most of blood results, make sure your vet has an accurate history about your horse’s condition and is able to do a thorough physical exam.

Top Ten Tests When you see the report from a CBC and chemistry panel, you might be overwhelmed by a list of as many as 40 or 50 tests—accompanied by results, a normal range, an indicator of whether the test is normal or abnormal, and comments from the lab. It can be confusing, even for your vet! Not every single number on that report is significant for your horse’s situation. The tests we pay the most attention to in a general-practice setting differ from the tests an internal-medicine specialist might pay close attention to when managing a post-operative colic in intensive care, for example. Even more important? Every single abnormal value doesn’t mean your horse has a problem. A value just slightly outside the normal range may not mean anything at all, while for a different test even a small variation is meaningful. And sometimes a high value may indicate a problem, while a result below the normal range doesn’t mean much. With this in mind, here’s a rundown of the tests I pay attention to when running blood work in a general-practice setting. 52 November 2016

TEST #1: RED BLOOD CELL COUNT RBC What it is: The RBC tells you the total number of red blood cells circulating in your horse’s bloodstream. What it tells you: A low RBC might indicate anemia, while a high RBC is most commonly seen with dehydration. Anemia is most likely in horses secondary to some other chronic disease. Your vet might consider fluid therapy if he notices a very high RBC. Related tests: The RBC is always accompanied by a couple of other tests including the hematocrit (also called “packed-cell volume” or PCV), which indicates the percentage of red blood cells compared with the total volume of blood, and the hemoglobin, which measures of the amount of the protein that carries oxygen within the blood. TEST #2: WHITE BLOOD CELL COUNT WBC AND DIFFERENTIAL What it is: The WBC tells you the total number of white blood cells circulating in your horse’s bloodstream. The differential breaks down the different types including neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. What it tells you: A high WBC indicates inflammation or infection, and the differential can help determine more specifics. For example, a high neutrophil count is most likely with a bacterial infection, a high eosinophil count is most likely with parasites or allergies, and a high monocyte count points toward chronic inflammation. If the WBC is low, it could indicate endotoxemia—a severe, body-wide toxic state. Related tests: If your horse’s WBC and differential are out of whack, your vet will pay close attention to fibrinogen and proteins. WBC results can also help your vet decipher underlying causes of organ dysfunction (such as kidney or

liver failure), so he’ll look closely at lab values related to organ function. TEST #3: FIBRINOGEN What it is: Fibrinogen is a protein that’s produced in the liver, and released early during inflammation. What it tells you: A moderately elevated fibrinogen indicates chronic inflammation. If it’s very elevated, it may indicate infection somewhere in the body, and can assist your vet in deciding to administer antibiotics. An exceptionally high fibrinogen level accompanies many abscess-producing diseases. Related tests: If fibrinogen is high, your vet will look closely at your horse’s WBC and differential to determine the likelihood of a bacterial infection requiring antibiotics. A test for another acute-phase inflammatory protein called Serum Amyloid A provides similar information. This test can be run “stall-side” for immediate results, and can be useful for making the decision whether to treat with antibiotics. TEST #4: CREATININE What it is: Creatinine is a product of muscle metabolism excreted through the kidneys. What it tells you: Elevated creatinine indicates that your horse’s kidneys aren’t functioning properly. Related tests: Blood urea nitrogen (see below) is also likely elevated if your horse’s kidneys are failing. Electrolyte imbalances including elevated calcium and decreased phosphorus will also accompany kidney failure, along with lowered RBC. TEST #5: BLOOD UREA NITROGEN BUN What it is: Urea is a waste product of protein breakdown in the liver and, similar to creatinine, it is eliminated by the kidneys. →


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The tests we pay attention to in a general-practice setting differ from those an internal-medicine specialist focuses on. What it tells you: Elevations in BUN are most commonly seen with kidney failure, although this test can also mean other things, such as dehydration. Low BUN levels may be related to liver disease or a protein-deficient diet. Related tests: Creatinine and BUN are often considered together when evaluating kidney disease, along with calcium, phosphorus, and RBC. TEST #6: GAMMA GLU TAMYL TRANSFERASE ENZYME GGT What it is: GGT enzyme aids in metabolism of nutrients as well as regulation of inflammation in the body. It’s especially important in the liver, where it helps break down drugs and toxins. What it tells you: Elevated GGT is most commonly associated with liver or bile-duct disease. The bile duct is a tube that transports bile (a substance produced by the liver) to the intestine where it aids in absorption and digestion, especially of fats. Blockage of the bile duct causes the largest increases in this enzyme, followed by chronic (longterm) liver-cell damage. GGT can also elevate with acute (sudden) liver injury. Rarely, an elevated GGT will be seen with excessive, hard training. Related tests: A low RBC and decreased albumin (see Test #10) may be seen with chronic liver damage. Changes in the WBC differential can indicate an inflammatory condition of the liver or bile duct. Other diagnostic tests including liver-function tests, ultrasound, or biopsy make a specific diagnosis. TEST #7: BILIRUBIN What it is: Bilirubin is released from hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells) and excreted in bile. Unconjugated bilirubin is the initial breakdown product that’s sent to the liver. Once in the liver, 54 November 2016

bilirubin becomes conjugated with another substance to make it dissolvable in water so it can be excreted. The lab reports total, conjugated, and unconjugated bilirubin levels. What it tells you: Conjugated bilirubin is likely to increase with bile-duct blockage or disease (it’s trapped inside the liver). Unconjugated bilirubin increases with liver damage, or when your horse is simply off his feed, so this value must be interpreted with care. Related tests: Elevations in bilirubin are usually considered along with other liver tests, including GGT, function tests, ultrasound, and biopsy. TEST #8: CREATINE KINASE ENZYME CK What it is: CK enzyme breaks down substances related to energy storage to release energy for muscle contraction. What it tells you: Elevated CK values point toward muscle breakdown, and are most commonly seen after a tie-up (severe muscle cramping) episode. CK values can increase to very high levels within several hours after a significant event. Mildly elevated or “just above normal” values can be seen after something as simple as an intramuscular injection or particularly hard training session. Related tests: Aspartate amino transferase (AST) enzyme also elevates with muscle damage. This enzyme takes a little longer to peak in your horse’s bloodstream and stays around a little longer than CK. Sequential testing for these two enzymes after an event can help guide the recovery process for your horse to go back to work. Severe episodes of muscle breakdown also result in the release of a myoglobin into your horse’s bloodstream that can be damaging to the kidneys. Kidneyrelated blood tests such as creatinine and BUN can be important to pay attention to if your horse has a significantly elevated CK test.

TEST #9: GLUCOSE What it is: Sugar circulating in your horse’s bloodstream. What it tells you: Elevated blood sugar can be seen with a number of conditions, including Cushing’s disease and insulin resistance. If your horse is very sick, glucose might be elevated because of shock or a severe body-wide infection. Rarely, it’s elevated immediately following a meal or a “fight-orflight” response. Related tests: If your horse’s blood glucose is elevated, testing for Cushing’s disease or insulin resistance might be suggested. TEST #10: PROTEIN What it is: Total protein usually includes measurement of albumin and globulin. Albumin is a protein made by the liver that has many important functions, such as helping to maintain fluid balance in the blood and transport of important substances throughout the body. Globulins are proteins produced by the liver and by the immune system. They also have many functions and include antibodies that help fight infection. What it tells you: Low protein levels can indicate liver disease (decreased production) or kidney disease (increased loss). Protein levels also drop with severe diarrhea or other gastrointestinal diseases. Protein levels increase with dehydration, and globulin levels may increase with an infection. Related tests: Protein levels can be altered with many different conditions. Tests for kidney disease and liver disease as well as the values on the CBC will all be considered carefully if protein levels are abnormal. Learn more about two genetic muscle conditions that can cause tying-up episodes in “Muscle Maladies.”

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56 November 2016



Make the most of the horse-show “hurry-up-and-wait” with these competition-tested do’s and don’ts. By Brad Jewett, With Abigail Boatwright Photos by Abigail Boatwright easoned veterans and newbie novices share one horse-show challenge: juggling downtime. Horse shows inherently possess a “hurry-up-and-wait” scenario, but you don’t have to twiddle your thumbs with anxiety as you wait for hours, picking at your horse and arriving at the in-gate keyed up. You also don’t want to misjudge the timing of the classes before yours and rush to the pen stressed and unprepared—or worse, miss your class. I’ve worked with my youth and amateur clients to develop routines and rhythms to help my exhibitors enter the show pen calm and ready to compete. Here’s my list of do’s and don’ts to help you devise your own program to manage your show down time to your advantage.


Do fuel your body. I admit: I used to neglect the importance of a rider keeping her body fueled throughout the day. I credit my wife for showing me that riders (and trainers/coaches!) need to eat and drink to keep going during the long day. You never know when you’ll have time to eat—or when you think you will but don’t—so nutrition and hydration are very important. Choose healthy food to fuel your body. Pack good sources of protein that you can keep in a cooler, such as grilled chicken, beef, or fish. I add a protein shake as well. Drink plenty of water,

and don’t forget healthy carbs such as veggies, fruits, and legumes. Avoid processed snacks, candy, and soda—typical concession-stand fare—that might provide a quick pick-me-up but inevitably lead to an energy crash. Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. During downtime, make extra-sure you know your pattern. Go over it in your head and walk it out on foot. Plan how you’re going to execute the pattern or your class. Map out when you’re going to get ready for your class—will it be during the class that’s two classes before yours? Will it be during the rail work or the pattern? How long will it take you to get your horse ready? Is he more tired today or less? Will your horse need more work to be ready today? There are so many factors that build into your preparation work, so take all of that into consideration. Don’t miss a feeding. Fuel is just as important for your horse as it is for you. And a happy horse— one that’s not hungry—wants to perform for you and will show his interest in competition. If, as you’re getting ready, it’s getting close to feeding time, go ahead and feed your horse a little early. If you wait until after you practice or warm up, those routines could run longer than you expected and put you past feeding time and closer to the time you’ll show. Err on the side of early to keep your horse fed and happy. →

Use down time to your advantage— studying patterns and prepping your horse—rather than wasting time. I’ll offer eight tips for better time management at horse shows.

November 2016 57

Spend time with your horse—banding, grooming, cleaning his stall—to get in tune with his mood for the day and keep yourself busy.

Don’t overpractice the pattern. Just because you find yourself with an extra 20 minutes doesn’t mean you should spend every second drilling your pattern on your horse. It’ll burn out your horse and lead to anticipation. Practicing on foot is fine; but over-practicing in the saddle leads to trouble. I recommend practicing individual maneuvers, especially if the pattern contains something that’s more difficult. Test your most challenging maneuvers a few times. Once you get it, there’s no sense hammering on your horse and wearing him out because you want to practice the pattern 50 times. If you’re worried and you exhaust (and annoy) your horse about it, that can create issues that go well past that show. Have enough confidence to step up and do the maneuver in the show pen the way you would do it every day. Do save your horse’s peak performance. If you’re at a horse show that lasts a week to 10 days, save your horse’s best work by avoiding a lot of practice. When there’s a 10-hour show day, and each class has a warm-up time, there’s a lot that a horse has to do in the day. The less practice you can put in at a show, the better. Focus on keeping your horse soft, balanced, and interested in his job. The more you go out and practice hard pattern after hard pattern at the show, the more he’ll wear down and lose his mental sharpness. Do time the classes before you. One of the hardest things for competitors is estimating how long it’s going to be until your class starts. Watch a couple of the runs in the classes before yours. Time a couple of the patterns from the moment they walk in the gate until the next rider’s turn begins, then make a conservative estimate. Take into ac-

58 November 2016

count that some patterns are longer than others. Novice patterns especially tend to be a bit shorter. Pay attention to scratches too, as they’ll shorten the time until your class or run. Don’t miss your five-minute countdown. This is the big one. It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve practiced the day before, the week before, or the year before. If you get upset or you’re not focused or you’re distracted in those last five minutes before you go into the pen, you’ll mess up the short time you have to make an impression on the judge during your pattern. Once that time is gone, it’s hard to get back on track. Know when to get on and have your horse ready, and when to walk around softly and prepare your mind. If you get on and you’re kicking and bumping and jerking—basically telling your horse he can’t do anything right—then your horse will get defensive. Go back to the foundation drills: the two-track, the stop, the back, a turnaround, and gait transitions. Stay soft, quiet, and patient. If you use your legs and hands to punish your horse right before you go in to show, he’ll most certainly show an attitude when you cue him in competition. When you have two or three classes a day, you’ll repeat your preparation process each time to some degree. But the last five minutes of your horse-

show prep and getting on at the right time are the hardest parts of preparing to compete. Once your nerves start to settle in and you get a little anxious, doing drills that quiet your mind during the last five minutes will help calm you down. Do make the most of downtime. It’s not a good idea to sit around at a show. Inactivity gives you too much time to get nervous. There’s a benefit to being able to take care of your own horse, clean his stall, and provide him with feed and water: It keeps you busy and engaged with your horse. Brad Jewett, Boerne, Texas, is an AQHA Professional Horseman and has been training horses for 24 years. He started in reining and began training all-around horses 16 years ago. He’s guided riders to many accomplishments, including the 2010 and 2011 AQHYA horsemanship world championships, as well as multiple world and reserve world champions in other events and multiple All American Quarter Horse Congress champions. Learn more at Find an extensive show-prep checklist to ensure that you and your horse and ready in “Get Ready to Show!”

Danny Blackburn has earned the respect of his peers and professionals for the way he handles and trains his own horses.


he “do-it-yourself” tag gets tossed around a lot in horse-training circles. “She’s a successful DIY all-around exhibitor…but her horse goes to the trainer’s for six months a year” seems more often to be the case. But Danny Blackburn, a reiner from Selma, North Carolina, takes the DIY tag to its most basic level. He’s bred, trained, and even shod his own mounts since he first entered the reining pen in 1998. Along the 63-year-old horseman’s journey to become the president of his Southeast Reining Horse Association and find himself “in the money” on a regular basis at reining events, Blackburn has experienced the highs of success and the lows of hard-knocks lessons. He’s built on

The Real-Deal DIYer 60 November 2016

When non-pro Danny Blackburn saw reining for the first time, he knew nothing about lead changes and sliding stops. But that didn’t prevent him from embarking on what would become a successful DIY show career. Learn from his story to build your own path to success.

Article by Cathy Raymond Herbert Photos by Joe Moliken

those experiences to become a truly successful DIY reiner. Keep reading to learn from Blackburn’s experiences.

The Road to Reining Blackburn rode as a kid but left it all behind—as many of us do—when he headed off for college and a career as a civil engineer. In 1992, his children convinced him to buy them a pony. He obliged, and also bought himself a 2-year-old project horse. He enjoyed training his trail horse and eventually started other prospects. Blackburn and his son decided to try team penning. At a penning one evening, they saw neighbor and non-pro reiner Philip Joyner spinning his mare Smokem Miss Solano (“Snort”). Intrigued, they struck up a conversation. Joyner thought the 4-year-old might make a perfect penner because she didn’t seem talented enough for high-level National Reining Horse Association competition. Blackburn made the purchase, and Joyner introduced him to reining maneuvers. “I knew nothing about leads,” Blackburn recalls. “I’d never experienced a spin or a sliding stop. There were buttons that I had never imagined.” Blackburn’s stint as a team-penner was short, but he found he enjoyed practicing Snort’s reining maneuvers, learning from his mare along the way. Several months later, Joyner set out for the North Carolina State Fair reining classes and asked Blackburn if he wanted to come along. Up for anything, Blackburn loaded up his mare and headed to his very first horse show. “The first reining class I saw was the one I participated in,” he shares. “I did well, but if I’d known more about leads and lead departures, I’d have done really well.” Continuing to work on his own, in true DIY style, Blackburn showed in AQHA and NRHA green reiner and rookie classes. Blackburn was an avid student, learning from his mount. “I was blessed to have a horse that trained me,” he says. “At least one part of the team needs to know what they’re doing. I didn’t have to put a lot of pressure on her in the green and rookie, and slowly, she grew into a much better show horse than anyone thought she’d be.” Blackburn bought a second horse, Street Smart Genie (“Streetie”). His two horses had much different styles, which meant he learned even more. Snort stopped November 2016 61

“I train my horses to look for guidance,” Blackburn says. He prepares his young horses for futurities, but then eases up on training when they’re 4 and 5 years old.

with her nose pointed out, “like a bird dog,” he explains, and her spin was flat. Streetie had a classic stop, but she held her front end higher in her spins. “Streetie taught me you can’t try to make all horses fit a mold,” Blackburn shares. “You have to let them have their own style. You have to feel what the horse’s body is doing and respond to it.” Blackburn also learned to focus not only on the maneuvers but also to enjoy the horse-human relationship. “His emphasis on communication sets Danny apart,” says trainer Jesse Chase of Wendell, North Carolina, who has shown Blackburntrained horses. “He and his horses seem to speak the same language. He’s also extremely patient. I’ve never seen him force a horse to do anything.”

The Non-Pro Pro Blackburn focuses on developing a prospect that willingly accepts instruction. “I train my horses to look to me for guidance,” he says. “Whether you’re dealing with horses or people, it’s all about providing choices and setting the stage to help the individual to make the best choice.” “Danny really puts the time in,” Chase says. “He knows his horses exceptionally well, and he develops excellent timing and feel with each of them.” 62 November 2016

Blackburn’s young-horse goals center on regional 3-year-old futurities. During the 2- and 3-year-old years, his horses work three to four times a week. He rides the 4- and 5-year-olds less often, taking them to small AQHA shows to gain mileage in a relaxed setting. Older finished horses stay out in the field between shows. “My show horses know what to do. They’re in good physical shape from living in the pasture and never act sore after a show.” This might all seem as if it came easily to Blackburn, but it took a while to build his plan for success. In his first attempt at training, he admits, “I thought too much about Snort and her ‘bird dog’ stop. The judges didn’t like that, so I thought I could train my next filly to stop with her head tucked. I didn’t pay enough attention to what was comfortable for her. My emphasis on head position inhibited the stop. She never ran as freely as she should have.”

Learning His Limits In the early 2000s, Blackburn acquired a stallion named Lucky Bay Lena (“Lucky”) and began breeding his own prospects. The horse had been successful in open and non-pro classes. He was capable of marking excellent scores—75s—

Smokem Lucky Solano finished in the NRHA novice horse top 10 for level 1 non-pro in 2012 and 2013. Blackburn keeps his horses’ minds fresh by giving them full-time turnout at home.

and quickly showed Blackburn how much he still needed to learn as a trainer and showman. “I didn’t know how to control the speed to his stops,” Blackburn admits. “He could out-spin me. I didn’t show him much—I didn’t want to make him look bad. But I rode him at home, and he’d tune me up. I’d spin or stop him and realize that I needed to do a better job on my other horses.” “Lucky is a very talented horse,” Chase adds. “His offspring have remarkable consistency, physically and mentally. His get are so much alike that I sometimes think Danny gets to train and show the same horse over and over. That Danny lets them mature on their own time frame only contributes to their success.” In 2004, Blackburn showed homebred Lucky Lena Lady to the limited non-pro championship

at the Southeast Reining Horse Association Futurity. “She always wanted to go slow, so when we ran fast and my body position even suggested a slowdown, she’d come back immediately,” he recalls. “This gave me the confidence to run hard and be less cautious.” He repeated the win in 2005 with another homebred, Second Chance Lucky. But in 2006, he had a rude awakening about how much he still had to learn—and the downside of doing it all yourself. “I didn’t understand that lead departures and lead changes start from the horse’s hind feet,” he laments. He’d been making lope departures and lead changes by pushing his outside leg against the horse’s shoulder. Although the cue worked most of the time, it finally cost him dearly. That year, he had a shot at top placings at the Dixie Futurity November 2016 63

Lucky Hollywood Lady, now 11 years old, won the Southeast Regional Affiliate Finals novice horse non-pro level 1 and finished reserve in level 2.

with Smokem Lucky Dobber (the horse he still refers to as “the best horse I’ve bred, trained, and shown.”) He did too much positioning in the lope-off and inadvertently angled the horse in the wrong direction because of the shoulder cue (rather than bending him in the direction in which he needed to go and using his outside leg farther back). Dobber struck off on the wrong lead. Although Blackburn made a quick fix, the damage was done: They dropped from a win to third place, and Blackburn, always learning, adjusted his program. Blackburn started showing his current NRHA competitors, Smokem Lucky Solano (“Lucky”) and Lucky Hollywood Lady (“Lady”), in NRHA

as 6-year-olds in 2010. In 2012 and 2013, Lucky finished in the top 10 in NRHA novice horse non-pro level 1. In 2013, they were the limited non-pro champions in the Southeast Regional Affiliate Finals and went on to top-10 and topfive finishes in the affiliate finals in Oklahoma. In 2015, Lady won the Southeast Regional Affiliate Finals in novice non-pro level 1 and was reserve in level 2. At 11 years old apiece, they’re still going strong in the show pen. “They know their jobs and are happy doing it,” Blackburn says. “They meet the definition of being ‘willingly guided,’ which is the cornerstone of NRHA. They accept what I want them to do.” And DIY doesn’t get better than that.

Show Horses and Turnout Blackburn’s horses in training and show horses live outside 24/7, unless they’re at shows. They have access to run-in sheds for shelter, but otherwise they’re outside. His older, trained horses only get sliding plates about two weeks before a show rather than wearing them day in and day out. The plates come off when they return home from an event. But the young horses, still learning the basics of sliding, wear plates regularly. Blackburn’s young horses wear 1-inch, non-tapered plates with very short trailers to reduce risk of slipping at play on muddy ground. There may be a hidden benefit: Blackburn notes that the horses learn to handle the sliders and be confident regardless of the ground when competing.

64 November 2016


Problem Solvers

Rehab Done Right Trainer Carol Metcalf provides strategic tips to help a reader safely and successfully recondition her horse for work after a long layup. Produced and Photographed by Alana Harrison


I show my 9-year-old Appaloosa gelding in all-around competition on the regional level and enjoy trail riding with him. Due to a hind-leg injury, he’s been laid up for almost a month. My vet advised one to two more months of stall-rest. Once he’s fully healed, how can I quickly recondition him without risking re-injury? Is there anything I can do while he’s laid up to make his transition back to work easier? BETSY JAMES, North Carolina


Following a long layoff, it’s crucial that you bring your horse back to work slowly. After not exercising for an extended period of time, your horse will be out of shape. To prevent re-injury, you must rebuild your gelding’s endurance and muscle tone gradually. The good news is that most horses that suffer an injury and go through a layup can get back to their regular riding routine and athletic ability—as long as you take the time to slowly and gradually work through the reconditioning process. I’ll provide you with some guidelines and tips for success to safely get your horse back into competition shape after he’s fully recovered, and I’ll offer some suggestions about what you can do while he’s laid up to make his reconditioning period easier for both of you.

Reconditioning Prep • Precisely follow your vet’s instructions. If she advises six more weeks of stall rest, then stick to those six weeks— not five weeks and six days. Your vet is the expert and advised stall rest for a good reason. 66 November 2016

The key to riding after your horse recovers from an injury: Don’t rush! If he doesn’t seem ready to move on to more challenging work at a set benchmark, give him time rather than moving forward in his rehab.

• Watch his weight. Depending on your vet’s advice, consider reducing your horse’s grain and possibly his hay to prevent weight gain. While laid up, he’s inherently going to lose some muscle tone, which will make going back to work challenging for him. If he gains a substantial amount of weight while on stall rest, it’s going to make his recovery even harder. • Maintain his feet. Even if your horse is on full stall rest, keep him properly shod—if his hooves get too long, it’ll put additional stress on his tendons and ligaments. • Provide movement. Ask your vet what kind of minimal exercise you can give your gelding while he’s recovering. Depending on the severity of his injury, you might be able to hand-walk him or provide him with some turnout time during his layup. The movement will help keep his muscles limber and increase his circulation—thus promoting healing. Additionally, turnout time will help him get mentally prepared to go back to work. Just as you would if you were cooped up in a small space for an extended period of time, your horse will get bored and a little stir crazy—and is likely to be extremely fresh when you do get back to riding. (Caveat: Be sure to talk to your vet before turning your horse out to pasture. You don’t want to give him too much liberty and risk further injury; sometimes, the better option for a laid-up horse is to simply provide him with a little more space to move around in, such as a paddock area.) • Don’t rush. Even if he seems to be progressing quickly, don’t rush. Advance slowly, carefully monitor his progress, and alert your vet right away if anything seems amiss.

Back-to-Work Strategies Your vet can provide a comprehensive program to get your horse back to work. Here’s an outline of what it’ll likely involve. Without question, do not rush from one stage to the next,

Protective leg wraps, used correctly, support soft tissues in the lower legs during rehab and regular training.

and only advance to greater effort with your vet’s guidance. Hand-walking: If your vet has advised you not to hand-walk your gelding during his layup (and/or he’s had little-to-no exercise during his time off), begin his physical reconditioning with 10 to 20 minutes of daily hand-walking. This is the first step in strengthening your horse’s muscles, increasing his flexibility and circulation, and re-acclimating his mind to activity after extended stall rest. Mounted walking: Begin a routine of 10 to 20 minutes of mounted walking a day—only on straight lines, no tight corners or turns to minimize joint and ligament torque as your horse acclimates to carrying your weight again. Continue this walking regimen, gradually increasing the time of your sessions up to 30 or 45 minutes. Jogging and long trotting: Progress to short jogging sessions—about 5 to 10 minutes—again, only on straight lines. Give your horse plenty of walking breaks in between trotting stretches. Gradually increase the dura-

tion of your jog time over a number of days—maybe even a week or more. Next, proceed to short sessions of long trotting on straight lines. Long trotting will help recondition your horse faster than jogging. It requires your horse to substantially work his hindquarters and stretch his muscles, tendons, and ligaments; plus, it boosts his endurance. Gradually increase the length of your long-trotting sessions over a number of days. Loping and turning: After several weeks of jogging and long trotting, and after confirming your gelding’s progress with your vet, step the pace up a notch. Begin with short, slow lope sessions in both directions; gradually increase the duration of your lope time over a period of days or weeks, always giving your horse walk breaks in between loping stretches. Depending on the extent of your horse’s injury and how quickly he progresses in rebuilding his muscle tone and flexibility, he should be ready for some gentle, wide turns after you’ve successfully loped on straight lines for a time. Keep in mind, however, that any degree of turning puts additional stress on a horse’s tendons and ligaments. So, especially when you first reintroduce circles and turns into your horse’s routine, make any direction change very slight and be sure to maintain your position, keeping your center of gravity directly over his, to help him maintain his balance.

What to Avoid After a long layup, many riders assume that starting their horses on a hotwalker, then progressing to round-pen or longe-line work is the best way to reintroduce exercise. In my experience, vets have almost always advised not to begin a horse’s reconditioning program on a hotwalker or longe line. Both of these methods require a horse to work on a circle, which inevitably puts additional stress on his joints, ligaments, and tendons. Furthermore, and especially on a longe line, if your November 2016 67

Problem 1. Correct


horse is mentally unprepared for work and overly fresh, there’s a chance he’ll indulge in too much movement—greatly increasing his risk of re-injury. Carol Metcalf Pilot Point, Texas, has earned numerous AQHA world and reserve world titles in Western pleasure, Western riding, reining, and working cow horse. She was named the 2004 limited open and intermediate open NRHA Futurity champion and was also the 2005 limited open NRCHA reserve champion and the 2007 open bridle NRCHA reserve world champion. Metcalf was named the 2000 AQHA Horsewoman of the Year and the 2013 NRHA Horsewoman of the Year. She coaches youth and amateurs in reining and working cow horse, and owns and operates Metcalf Quarter Horses in Pilot Point, Texas, with her husband, Steven, and son, Carter.

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You Said It!

The Question My Horse Would Ask Me You imagine what your horse might ask out loud—if only he could talk. “WHAT IS THE POINT OF GOING AROUND THESE BARRELS?” Josey Shuff, Louisiana


“HELLOOOO…AREN’T YOU FORGETTING SOMETHING?” That would be my well-loved 19-year-old mare, Maggie, when I turn up without treats. Grace Smith, Washington

“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL DAY?” Cooper, my Paint gelding, gets lonely and bored when he’s the only horse in the pasture. He pouts if I don’t give him enough attention. Evelyn Gilbreath, Missouri

“DO YOU FULLY TRUST ME?” I think Chief, my 16-year-old adopted Standardbred, knows that I do. I’d been told he was cantankerous, but he breezed through ground training and now seems at ease and content. Tina Taylor, Florida

“WHY DO YOU ALWAYS MAKE ME GO THROUGH THE MUD AND WATER PUDDLES?” My 15-year-old gelding would really prefer to step around them. Marissa Lehrer, Minnesota

“MORE, PLEASE?” My gelding, Blue, would ask for more peanut butter crackers. It sounds crazy, but he loves them, which proves he fits right in with our family. Ashlynn Abernathy, Alabama


“WHY THE DARN BATHS?” My horse would rather just eat and play out in the field—no riding, no baths. Alexis Settler, Michigan

“FORGIVE AND FORGET?” My palomino Paint mare would want to know if I’m ever going to get over her rearing up that one time. Forgive? Yes. Forget? No! Linda Avery, Oregon

“WHY SHOULD I? JUST GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON. OH, FOR FOOD? OK!” My gelding, Wyatt. Bridget Hodges, Arizona

Join in! In 50 or fewer words, share your favorite horse-related memory from childhood. Respond by November 15 to Include your full name and home state; put “You Said It/Childhood Memory” in the subject line. 72 November 2016

Illustration by Navah Rae Adams



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