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Optimum Nutrition for Health and Performance
By Dr. John Kohnke BVSc RDA, leading equine veterinarian and authority on horse nutrition Dr. Philippa Kohnke BSc PhD, equine nutrition research and development at Kohnke’s Own
Balance Your Horse’s Nutrition… A horse in light to moderately heavy work requires a high proportion of roughage (grass, hay and chaff) in their diet, but may also benefit from a hard feed each day with some extra energy to power regular exercise. Although commercial prepared feeds offer convenience, these pelleted, cooked or extruded feeds will result in horses becoming overly fat and fizzy when fed at the recommended amount per day (usually 3- 5 kilos!). Many horse owners cut back the amount of prepared commercial pelleted feed or muesli they provide their horse, often to half the recommended amount. The lower feeding rate often provides adequate energy and protein but shortfalls in vital micronutrients may occur. This is because most commercial complete feeds are formulated to provide all necessary nutrients only when fed at the full amount. By reducing the amount of prepared feed, many horses are missing out on essential bone minerals, trace-minerals and vitamins each day.
…For Optimum Coat Condition and Performance… If you are feeding a commercial pelleted or complete feed, then consider topping up with a trace-mineral and vitamin supplement to ensure your horse receives all the daily recommended nutrients for health, vitality and performance. When you feed half the amount of complete feed, add a quality supplement to your horse’s ration to ensure that optimum levels of important traceminerals and vitamins are maintained. There is another reason why supplements are important for Aussie horses - our soils, grass and hay are often deficient in minerals, such as selenium, copper, iodine, zinc and calcium. This can have a big impact on how your horse feels, looks and performs! A washed out, dull or dry coat, irritable, tired and lacklustre performance are the common signs of reduced micronutrient intake. Even other symptoms, such as repeated bouts of skin infection, colds or lameness, may indicate a problem with the nutritional balance in your horse’s daily feed. Boost your horse’s coat condition, gloss and shine plus improve stamina and performance by selecting a quality Kohnke’s Own supplement, specially formulated for Australian conditions by leading equine veterinarian and authority on horse nutrition, Dr. John Kohnke.
…Choose a Quality Top-Up Supplement… Kohnke’s Own ‘Cell’ range includes premium, economical supplements made from top quality ingredients for effective results that you can really see! Kohnke’s Own ration-balancing supplements are created from separate cold-press pellets for optimum potency and to eliminate waste or sift-out, which is common with powdered supplements. Our excellent cost per dose highlights how cost-effective a balanced ration can be for any horse and the low dose measure makes feeding up quick and easy. Cell-Vital® is the simple ‘ration-balancing’ supplement for most working horses, with a comprehensive profile of trace-minerals and vitamins, but we have many different supplements to ensure your horse receives the best balanced, optimised nutrition to match their specific requirements. Cell-Provide® is for resting or lightly worked horses, Cell-Perform™ is formulated for harder working horses competing regularly and Cell-Vital PREMIUM® is the world’s best supplement for racing and upper level equestrian horses!
…and Save Money! Commercial complete feeds cost more than twice as much as a simple home-mixed ration you can make yourself with some bulkbuy, low fizz grain and chaff. For example, feeding a full commercial complete feed from a reputable company can cost around $6 per day! In comparison, a simple hard feed made with some mixed chaff, steam-rolled barley and Kohnke’s Own Cell-Perform costs only $2.50, and meets the full nutritional needs of a moderately working performance horse! If you would like help to construct a balanced, healthy ration to save you money and optimise the well-being and performance of your horse, contact the Kohnke’s Own team of experienced Nutritional Advisors for a FREE ration analysis!
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Step Up to the Next Level! Kohnke’s Own® Cell-Perform™ is a comprehensive supplement of bone minerals, trace-minerals and vitamins for performance horses. Many horse owners choose to ‘step up to the next level’ to Cell-Perform when their horse begins training more frequently or competing regularly. Cell-Perform is very popular as a supplement for Dressage, Showing, Show-Jumping and Eventing horses because it has extra levels of muscle-specific nutrients, such as potent antioxidants selenium (as organic selenomethionine) and vitamin E. It is perfect when you want more robust muscle function, strength and stamina for optimum performance. Featuring top quality ingredients in balanced ratios, your horse will also benefit from improved coat condition and shine with Cell-Perform. Cell-Perform is the ideal comprehensive supplement for home-mixed hard feeds, but can also boost nutrient levels in prepared, commercial feeds when the recommended amount of the pelleted or complete mix is not given. Cell-Perform is also very economical, with a dose costing around $1.00 per day!
“Fine tune your horse’s nutritional balance to enhance health, vitality and performance” “Since starting with Cell-Perform, I’ve noticed that the horses feel more robust, with sustained energy and their general wellbeing and vitality is excellent. Their top-line has never been better and many people have commented that their coat condition is exceptional! I’ve recommended Cell-Perform to all my clients, students and friends!” Susan Elekessy, Grand Prix rider and trainer, NSW
“Cell-Perform has my show horses looking amazing, with an impressive depth of coat colour and shine. I saw a big improvement just a couple of weeks after starting CellPerform, and now my horses always work well and bounce back from busy shows. It’s so easy to feed and there is no wastage so I know my horses always receive the boost of nutrients that they need each day.” Melynda Eather, Show Competitor, NSW.
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Maresa Mader, Danielle Skerman, Bruno Barata, Teresa Burton, Lena Saugen, Danni Milligan, Riona Edwards, Madison Hooper, Damian McKay
Anja Beran, Danielle Skerman, Nuno Cavaco, Teresa Burton, Sofia Valença, Nadine Lindblom, Gail Sramek, Dr John Kohnke, Dr Philippa Kohnke, Karen Sternbeck, Cath McDowell, The Nude Horse, Jochen Schleese.
PUBLISHER: Baroque Horse PTY LTD ACN: 159 279 848 PO Box 236 Millthorpe NSW, Australia 2798 ©Baroque Horse Magazine AU. 2011 All Rigths Reserved. No part of this publication, editorial or advertisement, may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The content of the advertisements within this publication is the responsibility of the advertiser. Although due care is taken in the preparation and publication for all advertising material, the publisher cannot be held responsible for any errors or for any consequential effects. Opinions and statements made by others in submitted text may not be the same as those held by either the publisher or the editor.
photo by LENA SAUGEN Miguel Varanda with Casanova
w e l c o m e
and we covered this in one of our previous editions. He has been a long time advocated for horses and their wellbeing. He has written an excellent book called 'collection or contortion', and I believe it is a 'must read'. We are lucky enough to be able to print an extract in this issue.
side this issue, we have some of my favourite contributors who I've enjoyed and admired their work for some time. For many, Anja Beran needs no introduction as she has been the epitome of perfection in riding and training. It is an absolute pleasure to have her contributing to the magazine, and I do hope you will enjoy reading her articles but also learn from them. Once again we are also honoured to have another enthralling article from Sofia Valenรงa. She explains about her awe-inspiring world of using horses with autistic children and adults and how this training is helpful to so many and why this relationship enriches lives. Her work here demonstrates one of the many aspects to Sofia's dedication to training and working with horses. Dr Gerd Heuschmann is also a very well respected trainer and veterinarian, and many will know him being the whistleblower in the Rollkur and LDR situation,
One of the things I love the most with having a magazine is not only being able to meet and talk to some of the worlds most recognised trainers and riders; it's also able to discover and show some light on new upcoming talents. In this issue, I'm delighted to be introducing a very talented and caring lady Nadine Lindblom. She has a beautiful way with horses and training in liberty work. I invited her to share some of her secrets in getting started with liberty. As some frequent readers of my editor's note will know, I'm very passionate about liberty work and feel everyone should spend some time exploring this with their horses. It's one of those things that once you start working in liberty with your horse you will soon see how much stronger your relationship can become. You may think you have a great connection and bond with your horse now, however when you start doing true liberty and listening to your horse, will you be treated to something a lot more deeper. Plus it is also fun for both of you. With the days getting hotter and Australia being a place notorious for its heat, I thought it fitting that we have a look at summer safety and protection. Horses, just like humans are very susceptible to heat-related issues, such as heat exhaustion. We look at some things that you can do to help keep your horses safe and healthy during the summer months. For those who aren't aware, I'm a photographer by trade, and like so many people out there, I find myself grabbing my iPhone to take photos of my horses. It's such a convenient device to use, given that more often than not, we have it with us. So it has quickly become our go-to for photos. Over the years the quality of phone camera has improved dramatically, and the quality now is quite substantial. So much so, that on more than one occasion I've used photos from my phone in the magazine. Because of this, I thought it might be fun to do an article on equine iPhone photography tips. I have compiled some tips that I thought might be useful and hope you find them helpful! I hope this issue inspires you as it has done me with the wonderful and talented contributors. Till next time!
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I S S U E
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29 i s
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01 Interviews 54 40
54. Lisa Leitch Baroque Horse Festival 40. Five Minutes with Nadeen Davis
02 Educational The Dressage Seat by Anja Beran Flexion and Ben in Focus by Dr Gerd Heuschmann Working In-Hand Part 3 with Nuno Cavaco Moving Beyond Fear by Sofia Valenรงa Beginning Liberty with Nadine Lindblom Saddle Fit and the Heavier Rider by Jochen Schleese
We Recommend page:
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On the cover: Anja Beran and ' Ofendido' PHOTO: Maresa Mader
04 Of Interest 16 24 34 42
Did You Know - Equine Science News Equine iPhone Photography Did You Know - Equine Science News A Photographic Journey with Lusitano Horse Finder
Summer Safety and Protection Low Sugar, Low Starch Diets By Mitavite Kohnke's Own - Five Handy Hints Vibrant Good Health by Cath McDwell The Keep it Simple Equine Diet Plan by the Nude Horse Hindgut Acidosis By KER
58 64 68 70 72 76
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02 T R A I N I N G
anjaberan The ideal seat provides the horse with stability and means that the rider must not sway in any way â€“ neither from front to back nor from left to right.
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AUTHOR: ANJA BERAN PHOTOS BY: MARESA MADER
The DRESSAGE B Y
A N J A
B E R A N
As my new book “The Dressage Seat” has just been published in English, in this article I would now like to explore the significance and features of good posture on the horse. As de la Croix wrote: The seat – critically and transparently appraised – is the core of everything. It has direct contact with the horse’s back, and therefore either supports or weakens the important connection between hindquarters and forehand... “Die Reitkunst im Spiegel ihrer Meister”, Volume 1, page 92, Bertold Schirg, Olms Verlag 1987
And this has also been my experience – the seat directly influences the horse’s back and can either support back activity or, conversely, completely destroy it. Often the exercises we perform with the horse are not as decisive as HOW we sit when performing them!
T R A I N I N G
good seat must be symmetrical; my weight should be placed in the centre of the saddle. In order to gain a better feeling for symmetry, I recommend taking two analogue scales and then placing one foot on each of the scales. Now, try to maintain exactly the same weight on the left and right scales – even this presents a challenge for many people. If this exercise is successful, position both scales on a tabletop and place each buttock on one of the scales. Generally, it takes quite a number of corrections until weight is evenly balanced across the buttocks. This exercise makes it is easy to recognise how deceptive our feelings often are – we think we are centred, yet we are sitting very much to one side. It is important to memorise how it feels when both of the scales show the same weight. The consequences of sitting
one-sidedly are actually disastrous for our horse. It makes the back become tense, as well as crooked, in an effort to balance out the different distribution of the weight. On the long term, the muscle system of the horse’s back becomes asymmetrical. Furthermore, our seat must also be supple. A mobile pelvis which can flexibly follow the movement of the horse is extremely important. Nevertheless, our torso must be stable so that we do not become an unsteady weight for our horse, thus unsettling it and inhibiting its movement. A correct seat in balance helps the horse to find its own ideal balance.
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Unfortunately, today many riders sit with the upper body tilted far back and therefore get behind the movement of the horse. Yet if the upper body is tilted too far forward, this is also far from ideal as the horse will consequently easily start to lean on the reins. Despite these requirements for a good seat, a certain level of flexibility should also be maintained because situations can change very quickly when riding, and if this happens,
a seat is only good if it can be adjusted quickly and does not disrupt the horse in such moments but rather supports it! The ideal seat provides the horse with stability and means that the rider must not sway in any way – neither from front to back nor from left to right. Such an unstable seat can cause even the best horse to stagger, and bring it out of balance. Of course a crucial feature of a good seat is also excellent coordination of one’s own body. After all, the aim is to use body language to influence the horse’s body – which generally weighs over 600kg! Riders who also attend ballet, dance or yoga classes in addition to riding nearly always have better control of the body and learn more quickly to find a balanced and effective seat. For many riders it is helpful to regularly watch role models who have a good seat. When on the horse, riders can then try to emulate such posture. Naturally this does not replace good riding lessons with an instructor who continually points out deficiencies in the posture, and also addresses intensity and timing of the aids. The instructor, in turn, is dependent on a horse which has been trained as well as possible. Only such a horse can confirm what the instructor says, by reacting correctly and consequently helping the pupil to develop the right feel for the horse. Only a well-ridden horse has a swinging back, making it comfortable for the rider to sit – with a rhythmic walk, enabling the pupil to achieve a seat which follows the horse’s movements supplely and evenly. Of course the schoolmaster horse should not be sluggish. This would obviously prevent
the learner from being able to focus on their posture because they would have to continually work on keeping the animal going. It should, on the other hand, also not be the type of horse which has an over-forward tendency because this makes it difficult for the rider to sit properly. On such a horse, the pupil gains an uneasy feeling and instead of sitting properly, will focus on keeping the horse under control. A well-ridden horse is also straightened and provides the pupil with the chance to sit in a central position. All other horses push the rider to one side to some extent and, by doing so, encourage the well-known phenomenon of riders “collapsing at the hip”. The ideal schoolmaster horse must be in self carriage of course – it should not come on the forehand as it then leans on the reins and the rider will never understand what it means to sit independently of the reins. Instead, the rider will feel that the reins are a necessary support for the horse which needs strong rein contact. The rider may even allow himself to use the reins for his own balance since the horse does not react to subtle rein aids anyway. We therefore reach the conclusion that a schoolmaster horse needs to be extremely well trained so that it can convey the correct feeling for the seat and application of the aids. Just imagine this were not the case – a situation where the riding instructor explains the aids to you for picking up canter, and you do everything correctly but the horse does not respond because it is not well trained – how are you going to learn? Consequently, the best instructor for developing a good seat is a well-trained horse. A number of fundamental conditions also support us in learning how to master a good seat: • creating a calm atmosphere so that you can really concentrate (switch your mobile phone off) • reading a lot in order to acquire sound theoretical knowledge • having the right saddle – to provide the rider with optimal support in finding his balance. Beware, however, of saddles with large knee blocks which encourage you to cling on with the knees. Try, instead, to find stability through your balance. Riding instructors are often rather out-of-their- depth – due to lack of training in this area – and simply keep repeating a command which you are unable to follow, even though you want to. In such case a visit to a physiotherapist is highly recommended! If the riding instructor says to you several times, for example, left shoulder back more and you don’t feel the mistake and therefore cannot correct it, then a physiotherapist can find the reason for this. If there are blockages or muscular problems preventing you from moving in a particular way, it is necessary to restore your own mobility through special gymnastics to then be able to react better on the horse! This is exactly the reason I wrote this book together with Veronika Brod, as I am able to assess the seat and the rider’s posture purely from a rider’s point of view. In order to be able to provide comprehensive assistance and to check the symmetry and mobility of the pupil, support is needed from someone trained in this area. Veronika Brod
T R A I N I N G
is a gymnastics and dance teacher, as well as a physiotherapist, and can therefore approach the human body from many different perspectives! Together, we have been able to ascertain that there is no such thing as THE form of gymnasticising for riders. Every single body is different and the problems people have are so multifaceted that it is important to address each one individually and find a form of gymnastics which is appropriately tailored to each body. By the way, a rider always needs a certain level of basic fitness: even when we ride with the most subtle of aids it is nevertheless tiring because some horses – even on account of their energetic movements – make riding a physically demanding activity. This requires stability; we need solid muscles which enable us to have a certain posture. Let’s consider neck muscles for example – if I don’t have or don’t use these to keep my head still, my head would wobble about as soon as I sit in the saddle. As I rider, however, I also require a high level of mobility. Without this, I simply become a rigid weight for my horse. In this case it is necessary to check whether I have the necessary degree of suppleness, or if I should do stretch exercises to improve this. Coordination allows me ultimately to move all parts of the body independently of the others. This is a challenge which should be continually monitored and trained. As a final point, I would also like to mention body awareness – which often plays tricks
RIDING INSTRUCTORS are often rather out-of-their – depth – due to lack of training in this area and simply keep repeating a COMMAND WHICH YOU ARE UNABLE TO FOLLOW, even though you want to. In such case a visit to a physiotherapist is highly recommended!
on us. How often, for example, do we think we are straight but are actually behind the vertical... a mirror can provide us with a clear answer. Plenty of posture training on foot, in front of a large mirror at a ballet or dance school can raise our awareness and help correct false perceptions of our own bodies! Finally, a further feature of a good seat is also calm, even breathing of the rider. Anyone with problems in this area should go to a respiratory therapist for some advice. Breathing incorrectly can lead to a severely tensed seat, as does nervousness or even fear on the horse. If you notice that you have this difficulty, it is very important to tell your trainer about it – initially to reduce what is being asked of you and only to demand things that you are confident in doing. There is no reason, for example, that you can’t leave out the canter at first so that you first gain a confident feeling at a walk and trot. Cantering can be commenced as soon as you feel ready and tell your riding instructor that you now feel comfortable and want to try this gait. The last, significant hurdle on the way to achieving a good seat is the transition from a “nice seat” to a “nice and effective seat”, as riders often lose their nice silhouette as soon as they start to apply the seat aids. This is familiar to most riders – the leg is positioned nice and long against the horse, but as soon as the rider wants to drive the horse on, however, he starts to pull up his knees and heels, to cling and squeeze, and the nice seat is lost. This training of the rider takes an extremely long time and requires countless hours of training on many different horses in order to make effective progress. Only those who are prepared to proceed meticulously and to work on themselves intensively will stand out from the general crowd of riders and achieve an aesthetic posture on the horse – even when the horse is young or has rideability issues. A good seat can compensate for a multitude of issues and have an extremely positive influence on a horse – it really is worth working on this! Attention should always be given to a good seat as even the best seat will gradually worsen if the rider doesn’t continually question it and fails to keep inspecting his own body on the basis of a check-list.
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Did you know? // S C I E N C E
n e w s
from: The Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research (IZW) ď Ž
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Did you know? // S C I E N C E
n e w s
from: The Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research (IZW)
How the Vikings started the worldwide distribution of gaited horses Some horses have special gaits, which are more comfortable for the rider than walk, trot or gallop. Now, a study by an international research team under the direction of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin revealed that these gaited horses most likely originated in the 9th century medieval England. From there they were brought to Iceland by the Vikings and later spread all over Europe and Asia. These findings were published in the current issue of the journal “Current Biology”.
R E F E R E N C E S :
alk, trot and gallop are the gaits which all horses can master. However, riders who want to sit in their saddle more comfortably while still making good time on long journeys would benefit from choosing gaited horses. They are able to perform special gaits, like the ambling or pacing, which are typical for Icelandic horses and allow for a smoother ride. Responsible for this ability is a mutation in the DMRT3 gene, which was recently shown by a study with over 4,000 horses from different breeds. To investigate the history of gaited horses the scientist analysed this mutation in the genome of 90 horses from the Copper Age (6000 BC) to the Middle Ages (11th century). They detected the mutation in samples of two English horses from 850 - 900 AD and more frequently in Icelandic horses dating to the 9th – 11th century. Most likely the first gaited horses appeared in medieval England and were then transported to Iceland by the Vikings. Horses have existed in Iceland since 870 BC. In contrast, no European (Scandinavia included) or Asian horse of the same period carrying the mutation for the alternative gaits was found. It is improbable that the English and Icelandic gaited horse populations developed independently from each other in such a short time. “It is much more likely, that the first horses ever imported to Iceland already carried
the mutation for alternative gaits. The Vikings recognised the value of the gaited horses and preferentially selected for this trait – thereby laying the foundation for the worldwide distribution,” explains Arne Ludwig, geneticist at the IZW. Historic sagas also suggest that Icelandic horses exhibited the ability for alternative gaits at a very early stage. Although the origin of the Icelandic horse is not fully resolved, the general assumption is that they came to the island together with the Vikings. However, since the mutation was not found in Scandinavian horses of the 9th century, horses from other regions must have been brought to Iceland as well. Historic records report that Vikings were repeatedly pillaging on the British Isles and conquered the region of today’s Yorkshire – precisely the region the two historic gaited horses originated from. “Taking that into account our results suggest that Vikings first encountered gaited horses on the British Isles and transported them to Iceland,” explains Saskia Wutke, PhD student at the IZW and first lead author of the study. The high frequency of the mutation for gaitedness in the early Icelandic horses indicates that the Icelandic settlers preferably bred gaited horses – apparently the comfortable gaits proved to be particularly suitable for long distance travel through rough terrain. / /
//PUBLICATION: Wutke S, Andersson L, Benecke N, Sandoval-Castellanos E, Gonzalez J, Hallsson JH, Lembi L, Magnell O, Morales-Muniz A, Orlando L, Pálsdóttir AH, Reissmann M, Muñioz-Rodríguez MB, Ruttkay M, Trinks A, Hofreiter M, Ludwig A (2016): The Origin of Ambling Horses. CURR BIOL 26,697-698. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.001. http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/ S0960-9822(16)30752-7 //SOURCE: www.izw-berlin.de/pr/how-the-vikings-started-the-worldwide-distribution-ofgaited-horses.html
AUTHOR: DR. GERD HEUSCHMANN PHOTOS: FROM 'COLLECTION OR CONTORTION?' AND USED BY PERMISSION OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE BOOKS.
T R A I N I N G
Flexion BEND focus
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Dr. Gerd Heuschmann Explains the Critical Ingredients to Performance and Health in the Dressage Horse
The beginnings of positioning and bend in the rib cage.
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In his book Horsemanship, master horseman WALDEMAR SEUNIG divides the development of bend into two stages. He writes of first - and second-degree bend:
The term first-degree or indirect bend comes from a clear understanding that the origin of all longitudinal bend comes from the stretching of the outside. First-degree bend comes at the beginning of bending work and is continued until the horse is confirmed in yielding to the inside leg. It is the easier one because only the inside leg and rein play a role in mutual support without a significant countereffect of the outside aids. The goal of first-degree bend is to supple the horse and make the weight distribution of both sides of the body the same, meaning that it is straight and maintains balance. As first-degree bend successfully develops by degrees, it evolves into second-degree bend. This is direct bend because it occurs using the outside leg and rein to bend the horse without force around the inside leg as a support point. It is as if a stick is bent around the knee. If you were to try to directly bend a young horse too soon, it would be damaging. ď Ž
Second-degree bend is more difficult because inside and outside aids must be used in sync. Shoulder-in and travers are collecting movements that require direct bend. ď Ž
03 T R A I N I N G
FLEXION AND BEND IN FOCUS At the trot the horse bends in response to the softly applied inside leg. At the same time, the outside rein becomes most important.
et’s summarize: Firstdegree bend involves passive stretching of the outside of the horse’s trunk. A yielding outside rein (which is only possible if the horse goes to both reins in consistent contact) plays the central role. Seconddegree bend is direct/active bend in which the horse is bent around the inside leg that is softly in contact with the horse. This requires solid guidance of the outside rein and an effective and correctly placed outside leg (about a hands-breadth behind the girth). Attempting to get direct bend by squeezing a young or stiff horse with the leg always leads to a loss of balance and correct connection, and ultimately damages the horse’s health. Correct bend work requires a lot of experience and feel. It must be systematically developed. You can’t just command it!
/ 2 / Natural balance with good connection – a requirement for correct bend. /3/C orrectly stretching forward and down at the trot. / 4 / Travers on the circle. A lesser positioning of the neck in relation to the bend of the trunk would be preferred.
3 The most important prerequisite for starting work on bend is a secure foundation of forward impulsion with regular rhythm and consistent contact. Without this strong, rhythmic, and forward swinging movement at the trot and canter, you can’t bend a horse, make him through, or collect him. Gustav Steinbrecht describes this developmental process in his Gymnasium of the Horse, as follows: “Exercises on curved lines must always be adapted as to how far the hind leg of the horse wants to reach and support. If the desire to move is great, meaning the pushing power is well developed (not to be confused with running!), you can begin to ride him carefully on a big circle, which
requires lateral bend and greater flexion of the inside hind leg. If this isn’t the case, then connection and driving forward have to be more securely established on straight lines. Just as the uneducated rider will block the gait of a horse with false bend, an effective rider will use bend to steady and regulate the gait.” To Steinbrecht, the degree of bend is dependent on how much the inside hind leg is able to carry. As we know, bending increases the flexion of the joints of the inside hind leg. This pressure to flex the joints increases as the bend increases. So the rider must always pay attention to carefully measure the degree of bend to keep the hind leg from avoiding 4
Flexion at the poll is an absolute prerequisite for developing correct bend of the trunk. WITHOUT
FLEXION THERE IS NO BEND! Correct flexion at the poll is only possible when the horse travels in secure connection with a soft poll.
03 T R A I N I N G
FLEXION AND BEND IN FOCUS A correctly bent horse: the neck is not bent more than the trunk.
the stepping in. If it steps past the center of gravity, the bend is lost. This evasion is often seen when there is an intentionally or unintentionally misunderstood leg-yielding-like movement of the hindquarters. Other horses evade by losing their natural desire to go forward. The hindquarters hang back, they don’t swing through any more, and the correct soft connection is lost. The horse loses his balance. If you look closely you will see that the withers and chest have sunk between the shoulder blades. The horse has become a leg mover. The enormous importance of correct bend to the training of a horse is impressively clarified by two of the most important authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. FLEXION: THE PREREQUISITE FOR CORRECT BEND
lexion at the poll is an absolute prerequisite for developing correct bend of the trunk. Without flexion there is no bend! Correct flexion at the poll is only possible when the horse travels in secure connection with a soft poll. To this point, Hans von Heydebreck comments in Steinbrecht’s Gymnasium as follows: “Flexion at the poll, meaning throughness, can only come from the swing that originates in the hindquarters and flows through the entire body of the horse. Yield at the poll and more flexibility of the hindquarters go hand in hand. When the hindquarters work correctly, there is throughness at the poll, which allows further training of the hindquarters.” “Lateral positioning of the poll” and “bend in the trunk” are only possible when accompanied by the “vertical bend of the poll” and the “giving” (release or swing) of the back, which connects the front end and the hind end. When the horse has found his rhythm at the trot, allows the rider to begin to drive, and begins to swing in the back (vertical swing), the pushing power of the hindquarters develops, the horse steps to the rider’s hand, and he begins to yield the poll and to bend in the sense of the classical
riding literature. In summary, the head and neck muscles of the poll are directly involved with bending and elongating the trunk. They are more or less dependent on each other. So a blocked lumbar area of the back always creates resistance in the poll and the other way around. This limits or completely blocks any lateral flexibility and mobility from the start. Looking at it in this way, it can be explained that a horse in consistent contact begins to flex at the poll as soon as you work increasingly in the system of the diagonal aids. The inside leg of the rider works on the ribs directly behind the saddle girth when he wants to bend the horse. The first reaction of the horse is to get lighter on the inside rein and then he begins to flex at the poll. From this moment on, the resistances in the lateral sides of the trunk begin to break down. The rider takes the first steps in the direction of lateral bend with a giving outside rein along with
the effect of the inside leg as already described. The elasticity of the outside musculature of the trunk allows the horse to flex at the poll. That means the short head and neck muscles of the outside stretch. In terms of riding literature, we would say that the horse steps into the outside rein and begins to soften to the inside leg. The first step toward bend has been taken. On the other hand, you can say that bend in the trunk is not possible as long as the poll cannot properly flex due to resistance in the short head-neck muscles. It is essential to realize that these resistances can only be removed by correct use of the leg. The rider’s hand plays only a passive holding role. The classical system of riding is in accord with the nature of the horse in this regard. The young horse that travels in secure balance (consistent contact to both reins) flexes at the poll in response to a one-sided leg aid (actually causes the bend), and then later bends in the trunk from the
effect of the inside leg as the outside aids gain importance. Bend in the trunk without flexion of the poll is anatomically impossible and completely destroys the balance of the horse. In other words, the initial and carefully applied “bending” leg, weight, and rein aids cause flexion at the poll first, and only later, bend of the trunk.
This excerpt from Collection or Contortion? by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann is reprinted with permission from Trafalgar Square Books. TSB equestrian books and DVDs are available in Australia and New Zealand at www.horsebooks.com.au
TRAFALGAR SQUARE BOOKS |
NORTH POMFRET, VERMONT, USA WWW.HORSEANDRIDERBOOKS.COM
For the good of the horse
AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND @ WWW.HORSEBOOKS.COM.AU DLS AUSTRALIA PTY LTD.
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Photos and Text by DANIELLE SKERMAN
I N T E R E S T
QUICK CAMERA OPEN SHORTCUT
ometimes moments can come pretty fast, so being able to access your camera quickly can be the difference between getting the shot or not. To quickly access the camera, from the lock screen slide the screen from right to left to open up the camera. Using the shortcut to accessing the camera is a super quick and an easy way to take a photo.
THE RULE OF THIRDS
he Rule of Thirds is the one we all learn in photography.
The rule of thirds is an essential photography technique. It can be applied to any subject to improve the composition and balance of your images. In a nutshell, the rule of thirds involves dividing up your image into nine equal parts, using two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. You then position the essential elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet. To help you with
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this your iPhone has a setting that you can enable for these lines to appear as a guide when taking photos. Settings -> Photos & Camera -> Grid
TRY DIFFERENT ANGLES
hooting from a different angle will help achieve a unique vantage point. Instead of photographing your horse at the same level try a low or high angle brings another focus to the horse and immediately makes your image more exciting and more compelling. Keep in mind that if you are too close to your horse when you do this, it may cause distortion.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
s the saying goes, often 'less is more'. When taking a photo, try not to have too much going on in the image. Have a look around for anything that may stand out and be distracting like a fence
post in the middle of the horse's body. If you have too much going on in the image your camera can have trouble focusing and you may end up with your horse out of focus.
SAY NO TO FLASH
he “flash” on your iPhone is sub-par at best, the LED flash is small and weak and won’t get you what you are looking for so most times it is best not to use. Horses generally will get the red eye with the flash, so this is another reason to avoid. It is always best to use natural lighting whenever possible. If the light is too low, then its probably not the best for equine photography.
o zoom just pinch the screen from small to large with your fingers and this will bring the image closer but beware this does also reduce the quality of your image. The way the phones handles zoom is actually destructive to the image quality so is best to crop the image after the photo has been taken. Try to resist the urge to zoom! If possible get closer but not too close as the iPhone has a wide angle lens and will distort your horse's proportions.
f you are trying to focus on your horse in your photo, you can tap on the screen to autofocus on that area (it will appear as a yellow square). Your horse will stay in focus as long as you keep him within that yellow square.
SET YOUR EXPOSURE
sing the same technique as focusing, by touching the screen, it will also automatically set the exposure for that area. Look for the little sun next to the exposure box; this is your manual override slider. Slide this up or down and it will change the exposure. Great to use if you have a black horse and want to see more detail by brightening or if you have a light coloured horse and need to darken.
LOCK YOUR AUTOFOCUS AND EXPOSURE
his is linked to the previous two tips, if you hold your finger on the screen for a couple of seconds, you'll see an AE/AF lock come up. This means your exposure and focus is locked and won't change if another horse or person walks in front of your camera. When using this AE/AF lock feature, it will remain locked until you press your finger on the screen again.
Top and bottowm images were photographed from low angle giving them a more dynamic effect. Middle image is too close showing distortion of the horses face.
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I N T E R E S T
USE BURST MODE FOR ACTION SHOTS
Once you have taken your rapid burst photos, they are grouped in your camera roll ablum. To view and select the image/s you want, click the select button. This will reveal all the photos taken. You can select your favourites and discard the rest.
orses can be fast and unpredictable and to achieve that exact moment on camera can be very hard. Your iPhone has a high-speed burst mode. When you continuously take photos, this increases your chances dramatically to get that awesome action shot. To activate it, just hold down on the shutter button for a rapid succession of photos, and this will stop when you release the capture button. You can select the best picture or create a cool sequencing collage of them all.
USE A TRIPOD
his may seem like a crazy one for an iPhone, but it's best for low-light situations and also for when you would like the hand's free option. It is also useful if you are using the burst mode and have all your settings locked in.
ou can also use the volume up button instead of the digital shutter button in the Camera app as this can end up shaking or blurring photos.
USE YOUR HEADPHONES
ou can use the volume controls on your iPhone headphones take a photo. An excellent way for taking selfies or when using a tripod.
USE HDR (HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE) WHEN APPROPRIATE
ith HDR your iPhone takes three photos, each with different exposures and focuses on the shadows and the lighted areas of the image. It will produce a single photo that it believes captures the right range of light and dark exposure. Best to use the HDR function when you are taking an image of a dark horse with a light background or have various lighting across your horse. The built-in HDR is okay, but to have better use of the HDR try using a Pro HDR apps.
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USE THIRDPARTY APPS
here are so many third-party applications for your iPhone camera that will transform your images and will undoubtedly improve your iPhone photography. a
Fresians, Warmbloods, Dressage, Arabs, Showjumpers, Thoroughbreds, Shires, Eventers, Ponies. We fly them all. IRT has been flying horses around the globe for over 40 years. But no matter how much things change, one thing always stays the same â€“ the world class, personal service clients receive when flying their horse with IRT. With the recent acquisition of a German office and Quarantine Facility in Haren, IRT is well equipped to connect the world with offices in the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand. To find out more about IRT and how we can help you and your horse contact Chris Burke at IRT Australia.
IRT Australia: Tel +61 3 9643 3000 Email: email@example.com IRT Germany: Tel +49 171 784 7447 IRT UK & Europe: Tel +44 1638 668 003 IRT New Zealand: Tel +64 9297 2022 IRT North America: Chicago: Tel +1 630 377 2300 LA: Tel +1 310 306 0262 www.irt.com
CONTENT NUNO CAVACO AND WRITTEN BY TERESA BURTON PHOTOS BY: BRUNO BARATA & TERESA BURTON
T R A I N I N G
Hand WORKING IN
W I T H
Become a more sensitive rider and gain a lighter more responsive horse.
ften I am asked how to develop more sensitivity when riding; this is always difficult to explain as sensitivity is a very personal thing. However, I believe that learning to work horses in-hand will really help every rider to become much more self-aware and sensitive. The reason is when working from the ground you have to lighten everything you do; it enables you to be able to clearly observe your horse´s response to the rein contact, understand his conformation better and the reactions through his body. It also helps your horse to become more sensitive, quicker and lighter to the aids – Nuno. Important Note: When working in-handIt is important that all the
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exercises are progressive. You are aiming to achieve lightness and self carriage. The over using of the whip and forcing the horse will create stress and possible injury leading resistance to the exercises. Be mindful of your actions at all times. With all this work it is advised that if you are beginning that you find an experienced trainer in your area or come to Portugal and train with Nuno to learn the movements and techniques.
In this section WE ARE LOOKING at travers, half pass and rein back.
Nuno & Acarus
Nuno is a former rider at the prestigious Portuguese School of Equestrian Art (EPAE). 1
Benefits for you and your horse include:
contact through hands • Builds your relationship with the horse
• Flexibility teaches bend through the body and develops equality on both sides leading to straightness • Teaches the horse greater self-carriage • Teaches the horse to maintain rhythm and balance • Helps a horse to learn to performs exercises calmly before ridden. • Increase muscle strength and suppleness • Improves top line • Develop your awareness of your horse and subtleness of aids • Enables the horse to be more responsive and light to the aids • Teaches you to become a more sensitive and aware rider • Develops greater awareness of your
NB: To perform travers and half pass Nuno tells us you need to be working on the outside of the horse you can walk either facing the horse´s shoulder or backwards.
– TRAVERS –
/definition/ This is a side movement on three or four tracks. The horse´s shoulders follow the track along the circle or the wall, and the hindquarter is on the inside track. In this exercise, the horse´s body is curved laterally from
/ 1 / 2 / Acarus is just beginning half pass Nuno is asking him to move in half pass you can see that he is not crossing his legs deeply and the bend is shallow. /3/ Zagal is more advanced in the half pass and he is able to cross further underneath and has greater bend through the body.
02 T R A I N I N G
neck to tail. The outside hind leg is stepping under the weight. Therefore, it carries more weight and this, in turn, lightens the inside shoulder. Nuno generally begins with quarters in on the circle to prepare for the travers so your horse is making a circle with you on outside of the circle. It is important that your horse maintains an inside bend. When the horse is at a calm walk, then Nuno gently taps the hindquarters asking him to move them off the line to the inside track. Maintain the position in walk and ensuring your horse stays in balance and rhythm. Remember to pat and reward him when he achieves even just one step correctly. Don´t be tempted to lean into the horse or push him into position. Your aids must be light and dynamic as the horse carries out the exercise with selfcarriage. Once you have achieved this on a circle on both reins, you can move to the outside of the arena to perform the travers position yourself one metre in from the wall or fence (for your safety don´t put yourself in a position where you are right up against the wall). Now in the same way as before ask your horse to walk forward with an inside bend and then 4
/ 4 / 5 / It is very important before beginning rein back that you can achieve a good square halt with the horses hind legs well under him. You can see that Nuno is asking Acarus to pick up and move his hind legs further under him by lightly tapping the leg he wants to move.
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ask him to move his hindquarters to inside track. Practise taking the 1/4, central and 3/4 lines. This exercise greatly improves the mobility and engagement of the hindquarters.
– HALF PASS –
/definition/ The half pass is when the horse moves diagonally in a lateral bend, in a forward-sideways mode, he looks in the direction he is going. During the half pass, the horse steps under with his inside and outside hind legs alternating. The outside leg steps in front and across the inside leg. It is by far the best to teach horses half pass in-hand before riding it. The half pass can be taught from quarters in, tracer or from the shoulder in. It is important that your horse understands both shoulder in and tracer before beginning half pass. It is most dynamic to use both methods and coming from the circle or on the outside wall using the 1/4, central and 3/4 lines. In the half-pass you want to go forward and sideways to develop the hind
legs, both hind legs need to connect with the centre of mass. Therefore the shoulders should always lead, meaning they are always in front of the hindquarters. (If the shoulders don’t lead the hind legs will step next to the centre of mass, which means they won’t take weight).
HALF PASS from travers on the outside of arena. Come along the long side in travers as you turn into short side move onto the quarter line where you can ask a very gradual half pass. Just three paces to begin with, then relax, you are aiming to reach the other end of the arena when you finish. However,
it´s vital you achieve a gradual build up to this. The reason to begin on the quarter line is that the angle is much softer for your horse and you're looking to keep him relaxed and stress free. As your horse progresses and he becomes stronger and more flexible you can increase the exercise. Once again ensure that you perform this exercise calmly and lightly.
– THE REIN BACK – Nuno considers this one of the most important exercises you can do. It is highly gymnastic and dynamic. The rein back is a vitally useful gymnastic exercise with so many
A square halt - Although Acarus is looking at the mares passing by he is standing square, Nuno would repeat this exercise and not begin asking rein back until Acarus is paying greater attention and is more submissive. / 7 - 9 / the stages in a rein back you can see that Acarus is dynamically placing his hooves, he is straight and Nuno only asks 3 or 4 steps before rewarding and moving forward.
02 T R A I N I N G
/ 10 / N uno is asking Acarus to perform a traver down the long side of the arena. When he comes to the short side he will take the centre line maintaining the traver and begin a few steps in half pass.
benefits making it invaluable in all areas of training, especially for obedience and engagement. Practising a good quality rein back enables your horse to round his back and release through the pelvis. It is important to teach rein-back with the horse in the long-and-low position. This frame stretches the top line, encourages the back to rise and the pelvis to flex. It teaches the horse to shift his weigh backwards. Nuno tells us that riders don´t practise this exercise enough, either ridden or in-hand. However, he also emphasises that a rein back performed badly can be damaging both physically and mentally, therefore it is vital to fully understand how the exercise should look and be performed.
The classical masters such as Mestre NUNO OLIVEIRA used this exercise frequently.
HOW TO TEACH REIN BACK. You begin on the long side of the arena next to the wall. Halt your horse ensuring you have a square halt with hind legs well under him. The horse must be with his head low and forward. Standing to the inside of the horse beside his shoulder you invite him to take one step backwards using your hand with a very gentle pull on the reins keeping his head low. You may need to use the whip lightly at the position where your foot would be the first few times or in front of his chest but eventually you will need to wean him off the whip. Then you only use your whip to keep him straight if needed by placing it where your leg would go to hold him straight. First do just one step, reward, drop reins and immediately move forward, then halt again square and ask one step and reward move forward. The idea is to build up to four well placed steps backwards remaining straight; the shoulders must be in line with the haunches and your horse very relaxed. If your horse isn´t straight correct immediately or more forward and begin again from the start. Practise this on both reins. The mechanics of the exercise: Once the horse understands the aids and begins to take more than one step backward, you must to begin to focus on his hoof placing. It is important that the rhythm is good and regular to maintain the rounded back and balance. You are looking to develop good rhythm, relaxed movement with dynamic well placed steps. Always reward with a pat and move forward.
We hope have enjoyed this and in the final part we will talk about pirouettes, piaffe and passage. For more information go to www.lusitanohorsefinder.com/nuno-cavaco 10
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Established in 1972 and the only Association in Australia to hold the stud books for the Purebred Spanish Andalusian, the Australian Andalusian, the Partbred Andalusian, the Hispano-Arabe and the Purebred Iberian (this registry is shared with the Lusitano Horse Association of Australia)
FOR INFORMATION ON THE BREED
Contact Andalusian Horse Association of Australasia (inc) PO Box 266, Torquay, Victoria, Australia 3228. Telephone: 61 5263 3402 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.ahaa.org.au
Did you know? // S C I E N C E
n e w s
from: The Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research (IZW) ď Ž
Baroque Horse DRESSAGE | www.baroquehorse.com.au
Did you know? // S C I E N C E
n e w s
from: The Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research (IZW)
The Emperor’s New Coats – the history of horse coat colours Human preferences for horse coat colours have changed greatly over time and across cultures. Spotted and diluted horses were more frequent from the beginning of domestication until the end of the Roman Empire, whereas solid colours (bay, black and chestnut) were predominant in the Middle Ages. These are the findings of an international research team under the direction of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW). The results have just been published in the open access journal “Scientific Reports”.
R E F E R E N C E S :
he study reveals that the diversity of coat colours in horses has been strongly affected by cultural differences since their initial domestication around 3,500 BC. To investigate the history of domestic horses with respect to this charismatic phenotypic character, the scientists analysed a dataset of 201 samples of ancient horse DNA. In total, they detected 14 different colour types. Early breeds showed six colour variants, of which three were already present in pre-domestic horses. During the Bronze Age (2,700 - 900 BC) and Iron Age (900 BC – 400 AD) the number of colour variants further increased from six to nine, indicating a human preference for new colours. During these periods spotted and diluted horses were most frequent. During medieval times, the attractiveness of spotted horses decreased and solid coat colours, especially chestnut, became dominant. Religious symbolism may have played a role in the shift from dominance to the decline of spotted horses. At the beginning of the Middle Ages this type was preferred by royalty, possibly influenced by the last book of the New Testament, the “Apocalypse of St. John” (AD 81-96). It described four riders on differently coloured horses. The rider of victory was sitting on a white or white spotted horse, whereas the riders of famine (black), death (bay) and war (chestnut) rode on solid coloured horses. After
several epidemics this symbolism changed: the “good” rider of victory was replaced by the “bad” rider of the plague but still sitting on a white or white-spotted horse. Consequently, white and spotted horses now had a negative connotation, resulting in a lower religious prestige of these colourations. Further reasons for the decrease of spotted types might have been novel developments in weaponry such as the longbow, with these horses being an easier target than solid ones. So far, little information about the history of horse domestication has been available since most previous findings concerned modern breeds. “Horses have undergone extensive breeding and breed-specific homogenisation, especially during the last few centuries. Therefore, analysing only modern individuals can lead to false conclusions about the history of the domestic horse,” says Dr Arne Ludwig, scientist at the Leibniz-IZW. The present study is the most comprehensive to date, by addressing historical changes in a phenotypic character in ancient domestic animals and provides important implications regarding the origin and development of modern horses. Just like today, specific breeds were preferred by people not only because of their riding performance but also their visual appearance and attractiveness. / /
//PUBLICATION: Wutke S, Benecke N, Sandoval-Castellanos E, Döhle HJ, Friederich S, Gonzales J, Hallsteinn Hallsson J, Hofreiter M, Lõugas L, Magnell O, Morales-Muniz A, Orlando L, Pálsdóttir AH, Reissmann M, Ruttkay M, Trinks A, Ludwig A (2016): Spotted phenotypes in horses lost attractiveness in the Middle Ages. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep38548 //SOURCE: www.fv-berlin.de/news/the-emperors-new-coats-2013-the-history-of-horse-coatcolours/?searchterm=horse
02 T R A I N I N G
M Moving Beyond
FEAR B y
In classical dressage, we spend an enormous amount of time learning what to do and not to do, not only for ourselves but also for our horses. A standard of perfection is held up to us that is theoretically attainable, but in reality, no one achieves this, although in moments we come close. This has created a somewhat toxic culture around dressage when in fact it can and should be beautiful. Teaching has become punitive, and learning becomes fearful. People and horses tense up while being shouted at to relax. Bodies stiffen with fear and stress and struggle to achieve what can only be achieved not only in a state of relaxation but also in a state of joy. So how to remedy this?
any people don't know this, but here at the Valenca dressage stable in Portugal, we don't just work with dressage clients and horses, we also have a therapeutic riding program devoted to autism and other neuropsychiatric conditions. The people we work with are acutely sensitive, often anxious and fearful, but with the right environment and a joyful, accepting approach, often blossom and show us extraordinary talents. The autistic children we work with have helped me immensely with my dressage work, and especially with addressing this problem of punishment and fear that exists for both students and horses in the wider dressage world. The world of horses and the world of autism is often at times strikingly
similar. We are governed by a part of the brain called the amygdala, and this is the part of the brain that directs our fight, flight and freeze responses. People on the autism spectrum often have overdeveloped amygdalas, hence the anxiety and emotional distress that they usually display. Horses, who solve their problems in the wild by running away, and who are prey animals, also have highly developed amygdalas. It's how they stay alive. In the riding world, we often see highly stressed horses, sometimes due to situations caused by lack of human sensitivity, or worse by brutality, whether it be mental or physical. The same with riders. We often see a rider who is unable to keep their emotions in check and shows their
02 T R A I N I N G
that messed up a movement or display, then these inevitable errors become less significant. The following day we will likely do better, without so much fear of getting it wrong and therefore bruising our ego. Fear is a survival mechanism. It keeps us out of danger. When we sense danger, our amygdalas send an alarm signal that makes your body produce cortisol, which temporarily kills the neurons connecting us with the reasoning centre of the brain and adrenaline. So we don't think, we act. If a brain has an over-developed or overactive amygdala, producing cortisol, this survival mechanism can become a pathology, creating dysfunction. People on the autism fear or insecurity; sadly this is usually triggered by an unempathetic or bullying instructor. This fear will quickly be passed on to the horse and raise his senses, triggering the amygdala’s alert system. How can we control this type of situation? How do we avoid it when as human, our amygdalas are never far from coming into play, making our bodies tense, our hands grab, our shoulders hunch to protect our organs whenever we feel threatened, as a result of a restive horse or a scary instructor? In 2015 I did a 'Horse Boy Method' course, and this program showed me a whole new reality which, without my knowledge, was already a part of my life. The method is designed for equine professionals working with autism and showed us correctly how to calm and assuage the amygdala. This helped us transform the anxiety in the children we work with and remove the blocks between them and learning I realised that this process had been mirrored in our work with both horses and dressage riders over the years. The Horse Boy Method is first about celebrating autism, accepting the child and then in return being accepted by the child. It is a process of respecting each child’s learning pace and using one-onone training, nature, and a whole lot of brain science. Understanding the amygdala or what neuroscientists call the cell danger response is key to the Horse Boy Method. For me, all the points touched each other in a remarkable way for the training
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of horses and the riders. We should never impose ourselves onto a horse, or a rider, instead we need for them to accept us. Each horse, each person, has their learning pace and no two horses, nor two people are the same; the training should be done one-on-one as much as possible, and nature should always be our best ally. Forget this, and the cell danger response comes storming in and destroys all we are trying to do. It is not at all my intention to offend anyone by making this analogy between the autism world and the world of horses and riders. Even more so because my world of baroque horses is a beautiful and magical one, for which I have the utmost respect, just as I respect and admire the world of autism. Despite the fact that no one in my family suffers from autism, our work with autistic children and horses at our dressage centre is also beautiful and magical. The world of autism makes us more open and more patient. This learning has helped my ego which is the cause of most of my psychological suffering and has made me more peaceful and less dependent on feats and outside validation.
Valenca Method AUSTRALIAN TOUR
The biggest problem we riders, trainers and instructors have is our ego, which is projected through the power and beauty of the horse. This becomes massive, and most of the time renders us irrational.
For more information: Kristen Fleet - 0418 413 441
We need to learn how to replace our ego with patience. If we have a class that perhaps didn’t go so smoothly, or a mistake we made, even unintentionally,
Sofia Valença & Goncalo Linhas
spectrum who have learned to control their amygdalas like Dr Temple Grandin, who writes many books on the brain and autism and helped inspire the Horse Boy Method to describe just how hard it is to live with crazy stress levels where you just want to flee. Everything is highly confusing to you, and this a reality most young autistic children, horses and anxious student riders living in fear of their instructors know all too well. As trainers and riders, we must respect this cell danger response and the harm it can cause both to ourselves and to our horses and students. A peaceful, non-threatened, and stress-free horse and rider combo will learn much better and quicker than one that lives in fear of the trainer. And that is why it is so important to have an efficient and straightforward method when teaching a horse, or rider, so they can easily understand what it is we want from them and feel - ‘Oh, I can do that!’. Structure in the exercises we ask them to perform is concentration, and no pressure in the rider, so they feel the momentary and constant needs for assessment and rebalance - Rhythm, balance, contact, relaxation, etc. If we always bear in mind these signals, we can become more assertive as riders, without becoming irrational bullies, and therefore fairer to the animal we are riding. As trainers, we can become kinder, easier, and therefore foster brilliance in our students. For us to avoid the cell danger response as riders, as trainers, we also need to have the capacity to relax as thinkers. Sometimes, the fear of specific reactions, whether through fear of how the horse will react or the fear that is passed on to us by a teacher. A teacher who failed to explain themselves or who out of frustration or pure power-tripping, screams at us, unable to voice their feelings, will immediately be terrifying. The amygdala will be triggered, which makes us irrational, and before you know it you will have a rider, teacher and horse combo all irrational, and all wishing they could simply escape from each other. If we aren't careful, this can become the culture of our stable. Sadly, one sees it all the time. A good teacher, a relaxed mind and a quieter ego will make your horse a much happier animal and your students much more brilliant. The key is to understand the brain science and little by little, try to bring it into your daily work. A great resource is the Horseboyworld.com website - if you click on the ‘Science of Learning” link, not only the cell danger response but how to create its antidote, the fantastic, miraculous happiness and communication hormone oxytocin. How to create this amazing thing through the action of the horse, especially when in collection, will be the subject of the next article. How to create happiness for horse and rider through the collected work. Watch this space! a
I N T E R V I E W
five minutes with
NADEEN D a v i s From
Wallbrook Friesian Horses Baroque Horse talks to well respected Australian Friesian breeder Nadeen Davis from Wallbrook Friesian Horse Stud that has 30 acres nestled in the lush countryside of Tasmania's north-west coast. Q. How and when did you get into breeding Friesians? A. I have been enamoured with the Friesian horses many, many years ago after seeing them in books and of course, as most of us have witnessed, the magnificent stallion “Othello” in the movie Lady hawk with Dutch actor Rutger Hauer. That scene of them in the church passaging down the aisle - stunning! Never in my wildest dreams, I would have never been able to see that I years later would purchase a part-Friesian filly, Reimke, marry my best friend, and buy a small farm, yes 1998 was a big year! My dear Reimke matured into a beautiful mare and won many hearts and ribbons. My passion has continued, and thanks to my friend Carina Jefferson as she allowed me to lease her mare. Ulrika was not just any mare; she was a ster daughter from Jochem. Ulrika was the first purebred Friesian Horse to step onto the shores of our little island Tasmania. Ulrika was an excellent mare to promote the breed,
Baroque Horse DRESSAGE | www.baroquehorse.com.au
beautiful in racial type, very willing and gentle. Later, we eventually managed to buy our first pure Friesian mare. A 7-month-old filly imported to Australia in utero by Abe 346. Three years later she made ster. We then imported a ster mare by Jasper 366, who was the first of a few imported mares.
Q. What is your proudest moment with your horses? A. There are many proud moments for us at Wallbrook Friesian horse stud. It’s tough to narrow it down to just one, as there are so many. From selecting combinations to create gorgeous foals, our first mare to be awarded ster, to witnessing a foal being born, meeting many amazing people and making friends forever by selling them a foal. However, I have to probably say that perhaps this year was an absolute highlight for me. We imported a magnificent crown mare in 2015 from the Netherlands. We arranged to have Impreza van de Hondshoeve bred back to Hette 481 before she travelled to Australia. Impreza had a beautiful filly in July 2016, and we named her Celieka van Wallbrook. In Australia, we have Keuring’s every two years, and we had one in March this year. After arriving in Australia and having a baby, getting her fitness back and weaning her foal just weeks before being presented at the Keuring, it was a busy time. But being the incredible mare that she is, not only did she receive a First Premium, she was invited
back, and we presented her for Model. Impreza was upgraded to Model, and awarded day champion and her daughter won a First Premium and awarded Reserve Champion, and a colt we bred also received a First Premium. She has the auspicious title of being the first mare in Australian Keuring history to be awarded, Model. Impreza then went on to be declared 2017 supreme Friesian of Australia and New Zealand. Words simply cannot express how special this mare is, not only to the Friesian world but also to me. It was an incredible day that will remain with me forever. Q. What is your breeding goal for the future? A. My breeding goal has always been to create beautiful horses that are user-friendly, respectful, reliable and responsive. To continually improve on the mare I have, to respect the past and future of the Friesian horse and to make the best choices and decisions I can for the Friesian breed. 17-years ago I attended the very first pre-keuring workshop held in South Australia facilitated by Sybren Minkema and Jolanda Schreuder from the Netherlands. Later I attended a mare show in the Netherlands and also been back several times to Stallion shows, stud tours and to complete the Level I, II and III of the KFPS Judging courses/Education days. I have a great interest in the genetics of Friesians, as well as equine nutrition and conformation. We have a library of books and reference material and
continue to learn by attending many other equine-related courses. We offer a full range of services to our clients from birth to starting a young horse under saddle. Q. What advice do you have for anyone for looking to buy a Friesian? A. Learn as much as you can before buying. Visit studs, ask questions and read, read and read. Find out as much as you can about the breed before making your purchase as there is a lot to learn. Gravitate towards those that have been involved in the breed for many years and have a good reputation in regards to producing
excellent quality horses and have good relationships with other buyers. From a breeding perspective, I believe that your mare is the cake and the stallion is the icing – so start with a good mare and choose wisely. Q. Tell us about the horses and your plans? A. Our stud is small, so we can invest the time we need to our horses. We share ownership with a dear friend of the mare Tieke van’t Lansink. She is a magnificent Crown + Sport. There is our Model mare Impreza van de Hondshoeve and some younger Friesian mares. On our farm we also have several other horses including some Pinto part Friesian fillies, a 31-year-old mare that is a nanny to the foals, and my husband has four, two retired and two that he is currently educating. I am so fortunate to have a husband that is as passionate about horses as I am. His achievements in horsemanship are incredible considering he didn’t have a lot to do with horses until Reimke came along. Our plan at this point is to continue enjoying our horses, breed our beautiful mares, create some more incredible foals, and to continue to support our clients and friends we have made through horses. a wallbrookfriesianhorses.com
WHAT IS STER? A horse who has been rated ster is considered a superlative example of the breed. WHAT IS MODEL? The “Model” predicate indicates that the mare is a Model for the ideal Friesian horse. Apart from superior conformation and gaits, the mare must not be maiden and having passed an IBOP test (one-day suitability test) or ABFP test (a five-week aptitude and ability test). For more information visit www.anzfhs.org.au/ the-friesian/breeding-standards/
Wallbrk Friesian Horses Impreza van de Hondshoeve First mare in Australian Keuring History to be awarded MODEL. Less that .5% of the Friesian breed achieve this prestigious title.
looking for an incomparable Friesian? Call Nadeen on +61 438 257 288
04 O F
I N T E R E S T
AUTHOR: TERESA BURTON PHOTOS BY: LENA SAUGEN PHOTOGRAPHY
JOURNEY w i t h
Lusitano Horse Finder
When I think of equestrian heritage, it evokes romantic childhood dreams of ladies in fine dresses, knights in shining armour, elegant carriages, white stallions with long manes and flowing tails, great horses in harness turning the heavy soil or galloping across early morning dew soaked meadows in the pursuit of the wiry fox. Indeed equestrian heritage has always fascinated me. Now living in Portugal, I´ve found myself immersed in a culture that has romance in its heart and intrinsically intertwined through all the traditions of art, culture, clothing, fairs and celebrations. The country and its heritage has subtly crept into my soul and moved me to change many things about myself and discover who I truly am.
My work and my passion have taken me all around this country visiting castles, palaces, manor houses, equestrian centres and farms both large and small. During all this, I never for a moment imaged that I would be writing articles and having the fantastic opportunities I now have and I am internally grateful. However, my journey has not been alone, Lena Saugen a faithful and enjoyable companion has travelled much of the road with me and without her many of my adventures would not have happened. This summer we completed a project that began last year as just a seed of an idea. It all started when talking with Michaela Kleba who is the owner of the marvellous stud farm Coudelaria Vila Viçosa. We were planning a photo
shoot and video for their farm. The stud farm is located in Coudelaria Vila Viçosa and is where its name was derived from. We wanted to photograph the beautiful stallions in this charming town creating a closer connection, so we shot them in front of the utterly splendid Ducal Palace. It proved to be a fabulous and inspiring experience. With the very kind permission of the Director of the Palace Dr Maria, we revisited this summer the Castle of Vila Viçosa and the Ducal Palace, however this time we were able to enter into the property allowing us access to some incredible historical locations. The day began at the small but imposing castle which overlooks the town. Pedro, the stud farm manager, told us
qMiguel Varanda with Casanova on the narrow castle drawbridge
T R A I N I N G
he had the ambition to photograph a horse on the castle's drawbridge! A narrow bridge which expands over a very deep, now dry moat. The bridge is slatted thick wood with only chains on the sides, and it moves a bit, and we were a little doubtful at the idea. How could we expect such walk of faith from a horse - even if it is a Lusitano? It was only Pedro´s unfaltering confidence that convinced us to agree. Walking with Casanova beside him there was not a moment's hesitation as they crossed the bridge.
Inside there´s a hunting museum exhibiting the collection from King Charles I. I do however warn you that the exhibition is not for the faint hearted it can even be considered shocking with the excessive and blatant killing of animals. It is, however, an impressive exhibition of African and European animals, stuffed and exhibited in various manners. The elephant skull with tusks, the huge ivory tusks are things you do not usually see. There is another small museum that has historical artefacts from the region including Roman and prehistoric items you will see an amazing incised slate panels from 2-3000 BC.
p Miguel and two lusitanos out the front of the Ducal Palace
Casanova demonstrated to us once again the remarkable courage, trust and faith these horses have. With the professionalism of a top model, he stood still and posed on the bridge for photos. Two leisurely hours passed as Lena photographed the bridge, the tunnels and at the grand arched castle entrance looking down to the town. The castle is located in the civil parish of Nossa Senhora da Conceição e São Bartolomeu and built in 1297. It was reconstructed in the 17th century due to the Portuguese War of Restoration (1640-1668) for the independence from Spanish rule. Looking west, the Porta de Evora is one of the five entrance gates built into the walls that were first raised by King Dinis in the Middle Ages, and the gate dominates the broad avenue leading to the fortified town. This was an excellent viewpoint to enjoy this fabulous town's vista.
The castle is one of the most complete and updated Castles in Portugal with an excellent and very well preserved archaeology. Some of the impressive walls extend to 60-metres high. The views from the walkways at the top are fabulous.
Baroque Horse DRESSAGE | www.baroquehorse.com.au
Later, after a quick lunch, we continued at Ducal Palace. The impressively grand palace is owned by the house of Braganza, and it´s a stunning example of Portuguese architecture. Built in the Mannerist style it has a 110-metre facade covered in marble from the region and the overall effect is majestic in soft pink, cream and even appears pale blue. Inside there are more than 50 rooms with most open to the public. On visiting you will find it's a goldmine of historical artefacts and fascinating information on the region´s history, the Braganza family and Portuguese adventures. Everything is presented in a very accessible and attractive way. There are outstanding collections of paintings, sculptures, furniture, tapestries, ceramics and jewellery, including the biggest private collection of Chinese porcelain in the Iberian Peninsula. Look out for the Armoury, an exhibition with its extensive arms collection of the Braganza Dynasty and in the stables you will find a magnificent collection of coaches and carriages which belong to the royal family, including gala vehicles from the 19th and 20th centuries. It was in these wonderful elegant stables we brought the stallions bringing a little equestrian life back. In the late afternoon the light, the ambience and energy were just perfect, we all basked in the special atmosphere and felt so lucky to be there. Ducal Palace is nestled in the civil parish of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, in the municipality of Vila Viçosa, which is in the
THE CASTLE is one of the MOST COMPLETE and updated Castles
left Miguel Varanda and Lusitano stallion Xerxes Inside the elegant Royal Stables and above p in the gardens
imagine the scene of the elegant ladies who once sat in private conversation or the king who strolled along the paths dreaming his new projects, his entertainments and his hunting escapades in the Tapada Real (royal hunting grounds). The Tapada Real is located nearby and was once the largest natural walled space in Portugal with
rich fauna and flora. Still today you can see the deer sitting under the expansive ancient oak trees. Lena had particularly wanted to photograph her muse stallion here - a pure white Casanova, whom she has enjoyed an extraordinary photographic connection with for several years. Having wowed us at the castle, he continued to give that
Portuguese Alentejo and was built in 1496. It was, for centuries, the seat of House of Braganza, one of the most important noble houses in Portugal and it became the ruling house of the Kingdom of Portugal. After 1640, until King Manuel II, the titular head of the family, was deposed in the 5th October 1910 and it was the revolution that brought a republican government. At one time there were many horses in the stables which consist of three longhouses with beautiful high ceramic and wood pitched ceilings. There was the main royal stable where all the best horses were kept, and the other two were for the working and carriage horses. The royal horses were for leisure riding, classical displays, hunting and the royal carriages and the majority were from the Alter Real stud farm. In addition to the stables, there is an indoor and outdoor Picadeiro (round tent) both although not in use today can easily be restored. Dr Maria confided in us that there is a dream, an ambition in the air as she wants to bring the stables back to life with horse shows and traditional displays for visitors. I hope this will happen as I have no doubt it will be magical and will transport anyone watching back in time. After the stables, we moved to the beautiful box hedge gardens at the centre of the palace. The topiary hedges are immaculately manicured and create a line of pathways that lead to fountains, sculptures and granite seats. You can easily
Supplying innovative horse care products
p Casanova and Miguel follow the royal family at the top of the marble steps.
Miguel riding in the stable grounds of Ducal Palace
to give that
little bit extra ...
little bit extra in the gardens especially as he walked straight up to the top of some beautiful marble curved steps and ascended like he had walked it all his life. The last time official photographs were taken there was of the Royal family, and no horses were in any images. Well, Casanova is royalty in our eyes. The photograph of the Royal family in the same place can be seen in the Palace. All in all, it was a perfect day, one never to be forgotten and always treasured. I hope that you too enjoy the photographs. It was a great pleasure and honour to be invited. There will hopefully be an exhibition of the images in Vila Viçosa in 2018, as well as a stunning coffee table art book on Lena´s journey with Casanova. Consider putting an Equestrian Heritage Tour on your ´Must Do in this Life´list! Take an opportunity just once to immerse yourself in the horses, culture, history, foods and wines of Portugal, I can assure you, you will not regret it. There is no doubt it feeds the soul and ignites your imagination. If you would like us to arrange a tour for you with your family and friends then get in touch, we are always delighted to help. Stay posted at Baroque Dressage Horse Magazine for Exhibition, Art Book launch and Holiday announcements. I extend huge thanks to Dr Maria de Jesus Monge director of Fundação da Casa de Bragança at the Ducal Palace and
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Castle of Vila Viçosa for her support and enthusiasm. Lena Saugen for her amazing work, it never ceases to thrill! I cannot wait for further adventures with her. Coudelaria Vila Viçosa and all the team for their energy, confidence, wonderful hospitality and of course their divine Lusitanos. And lastly a special hug to Casanova who has actually been the ambassador of the journey. a
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03 T R A I N I N G
nadine lindblom E
ver since I can remember, horses have been my passion. After moving to Australia from Sweden, my wonderful parents bought me my first pony, Twinkles. Twinkles was only 12hh, so I grew out of her quite quickly. However, I became very interested in trick training when I realized it was a very fun way for us to spend time together without actually riding. Later I was introduced to liberty training at Horse Vision in Sweden. The concept intrigued me, and after returning home to Australia, I continued to learn from books, DVD’s and especially from the horses themselves. Horse Vision also sparked my interest in Academic Art of Riding. I love the concept of using dressage to gymnasticise the horse to help him become more supple, strong and balanced. Today I am a student at the University of Queensland studying Bachelor of Veterinary Science. Equine biomechanics and anatomy is my main interest in the course, and I look forward to being able to use this knowledge to better understand and train horses.
Baroque Horse DRESSAGE | www.baroquehorse.com.au
AUTHOR: NADINE LINDBLOM PHOTOS: DANNI MILLIGAN EQUINE PHOTOGRAPHY AND RIONA EDWARDS & MADISON HOOPER EQUINE PHOTOGRAPHY
LIBERTY w i t h
When we turn a horse loose, we can no longer rely on a physical connection to cause him to stay with us. He can now go where his mind takes him (e.g. back towards the herd, to some lush grass, away from something he fears etc.). In order to communicate with him now, we need to have a good understanding of how horses behave, think and learn. We also need to understand what horses value so that we can reward them appropriately for their participation.
HOW TO INVITE YOUR HORSE TO CONNECT
he first thing we need to do is prove to the horse that being together can be enjoyable. Horses that are already happy with humans, may connect during the first session. Other horses have lived their lives constantly forced to serve and punished for any attempt to resist. Most of these horses have given up trying to communicate and usually have no desire to be near
a human. Therefore, it is likely that it will take many sessions to really prove to these horses that being together can be a nice experience. The aim of this exercise is not to teach the horse to stay with you no matter what, but rather for the horse to develop a seeking and a will to be with you. The following process can be done anywhere (e.g. paddock, arena, round yard) but it can be easier to start in an area where he is comfortable and relaxed. Begin by walking in
T R A I N I N G a straight line towards the horse’s tail. If your horse responds by walking away, great! Follow along casually ensuring that your body stays in line with his tail. Be careful not to follow so close that you could get kicked if he gets a fright. If he slows down or stops, gently and casually ask him to keep walking by creating a little bit of energy from behind (again, be careful not to get too close). A casual attitude is important, as this will cause your body movements to be smooth, relaxed and non-threatening. As the horse walks around, he will make little curves and turns here and there and eventually may glance in your direction or turn to look at you. At this point, turn and walk in a straight line away from him and then begin a wide loop to get back in line with his tail. The horse will quickly realize that he has control over the situation causing him to become more confident and curious. This curiosity
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EACH TIME YOU MAKE a suggestion to your horse, think of it as an invitation rather than a command. THIS WILL soften your body language and your horse will not feel as pressured. IF YOU ASK WITH SHARP, stern body language, your horse will feel the need to either submit or disconnect. will cause him to continue looking at you and then begin to follow you. When he begins to follow, slow down your body and allow him to catch up to you. When he reaches you, stop and reward him generously. For the horses that are slower to connect, you can stop after moving a few steps away when he looks at you. If he is happy to be approached, you can move closer to him and reward him. If he is not comfortable with being approached just yet, you can stand quietly at a distance and just relax for a while. The reward will depend on the horse. Many horses do not enjoy the fuss of scratches and would rather just stand quietly with you; others absolutely love the fuss! Get to know what your horse loves and use it as a reward. A treat is also a great way to reward your horse as long as you teach him to be polite around food rewards. When the horse is happy to connect, stay with you and even move around with you a little, you can start
introducing new things for you to focus on together. No matter what you would like to do with your horse, keep in mind the following tips THERE ALWAYS HAS TO BE SOMETHING IN IT FOR THE HORSE
hat we have to remember is that whatever a horse is doing, he is doing it for himself. Reasons behind their behaviour include: • To communicate with each other • To avoid something (e.g. pain, stress) • To gain something (e.g. food) • To play During my training, I like to focus on the latter two. I want my horses to be working towards a positive reward (scratches and/or a food reward), and also for them to have a bit of fun through play and expression. Play and expression usually happens during high-energy liberty training in the
form of bucking, kicking, galloping and rearing. Tricks such as bowing and sitting require some extra rewards. Pressure and release can be used to help guide the horse towards the right answer but we must remember to remain as clear as possible and as quiet and gentle as possible. Horses are very
T R A I N I N G
away. Likewise, asking for the same movement repeatedly will also cause the horse to loose interest and disconnect.
FIND NADINE ON: •
YOUR HORSE IS YOUR TEACHER AND HE WILL BE BRUTALLY HONEST
I good at recognizing the release of even the slightest touch. Therefore, this will also help reinforce the behaviour together with the positive rewards. DON’T DO TOO MUCH
t is better to do too little than too much. Asking for too much, too soon is the quickest way to cause your horse to disconnect and walk
52 Baroque Horse DRESSAGE | www.baroquehorse.com.au
f your horse says no and disconnects it is easy to take it personally and become frustrated or mad. However, this is just his way of showing you how he feels. Take a deep breath and analyze the situation to figure out what caused him to say no. Did you ask for too much? Was the session too long? Was the reward not worth the effort? Take his feedback as constructive criticism and use it to improve yourself. After all, who is better to teach you about horses than the horse himself?
IF YOU REACH A “WOW” MOMENT, YOU HAVE ACHIEVED YOUR HIGHEST GOAL
hen your horse offers something that completely blows you away, you have reached your highest goal. Instead of focusing on achievements, focus on your horse’s will to participate. Reward him generously and then quit the session. During these moments it is very tempting to continue because everything feels like it’s going so well. However, if you get too excited and continue asking for more, your horse will become discouraged and offer less. If you reward him and finish the session or just spend some quiet time with him, he will be much more likely to try just as hard next time. INVITE DON’T COMMAND
ach time you make a suggestion to your horse, think of it as an invitation rather than a command. This will soften your body language and your horse will not feel as pressured. If you ask with sharp, stern body language, your horse will feel the need to either submit or disconnect.
OFTEN DOING NOTHING CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING
pending undemanding time with your horse is invaluable. Sometimes it is easy to become too focused on what we would like to do and achieve. Horses are experts at doing nothing, it's something that they love doing. So why not take a moment or an hour to just hang out? You may find that next time, your horse will be even more willing and connected! USE YOUR SPACE
orses are also experts at running! Even the so-called ‘lazy’ horse has a good sprint around the paddock once in a while. If your horse is connected and energetic, try to move around a bit more. Run a little, stop, start and turn quickly. You might trigger the playful side of your horse. Try not to get stuck in the same corner of the arena/paddock practising circle after circle after circle. Note- Only encourage this type of play if you are 100% certain that your horse knows and respects your personal space!! If he doesn’t, you could very easily get kicked, struck or barged. Don’t risk your safety.
I N T E R V I E W
FESTIVAL 2 n d
3 r d
D e c e m b e r
Baroque Horse Magazine talks to Lisa Leitch from Kryal Castle about the Baroque Horse Festival (BHF).
Q. How did it the Baroque Horse Festival (BHF) begin?
Andalusian, Warlander, Lusitano, Peruvian Paso and derivatives of these base breeds.
A. It was an idea I had while sitting on the veranda talking with my dear friend Amanda in Tasmania. I was soon to be moving to Kryal Castle, so I proposed to the castles management an event where we celebrate the baroque horse breeds. Kryal Castle management agreed to my idea and with the support of my husband Phillip we haven't looked back.
The baroque horse participants are the key to this event being successful. It's their dedication, support and love for the baroque horse that has kept the BHF growing each year.
Q. What can people expect to see?
A. The public will see various demonstrations such as horse archery, skill at arms, working equitation, jousting, horses at liberty, in-hand displays, pas de deux, harness, garrocha, long reining and more. All participants on the day will be wearing medieval, baroque and or Spanish/Portuguese attire. The baroque horse breeds involved are the Friesian,
Baroque Horse DRESSAGE | www.baroquehorse.com.au
Q. How long has it been going for? A. This will be the events fourth year. For the past three years the event has been run over one-day, however, this year it will be a two-day event. Q. Why the baroque breeds? A. Our passion for the baroque breeds is very strong. Itâ€™s a love that we wanted to share with the public and other like-minded baroque horse owners. The BHF is a fabulous opportunity to show the public
PHOTOS: DAMIAN MCKAY WILD EYE PHOTOGRAPHY WILDEYEPHOTOGRAPHY.NET
I N T E R V I E W the versatility, trainability, and willingness of the baroque breeds. We may all be a little bias but our steeds certainly standout in the crowd with their noble beauty. They truly are a fairy tale horse, and Kryal Castle is the perfect setting to showcase this.
show competitions with classes for certain baroque breeds there really isn't anything else like the BHF happening in Australia. The BHF isn't a competition or a show; it's a festival and a celebration of the baroque horse breeds.
Q. The festival is hosted at Kryal Castle, can you tell us about it?
Q. Is it a family-friendly event?
A. Kryal Castle is a replica medieval castle located in Ballarat, Australia. The castle's name derives from the first initial and surname of its builder, Keith Ryall. It was first opened to the public in 1974, and since then it has literally entertained millions of people. The castle is a medieval village featuring a moat, drawbridge, dragon labyrinth, theatre, torture chamber, Chapel, Knights roundtable, dragon playground and a wizard tower. The highlight of many peoples visit is the equestrian displays held in the main arena including real jousting by fully armoured knights. Q. What is the highlight of the festival? A. There are so many highlights of the festival; it's so hard to choose one. For us, it's getting all the baroque breeds and their dedicated owners together in the arena for the main parade. It's an incredible sight and a very proud moment. Apart from your
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A. Yes, indeed it's a day out for the whole family. The castles daily timetable of activities and events are not affected, there is so much to do and see at the castle, which isn't horse related. The horse displays are an extra bonus included into the everyday medieval fun and mayhem. Q. Do you have to be a horse expert to enjoy the festival? A. Not at all, the horse performances on the day are entertaining, educational and fun for all to see. Q. How much does it cost and is there any accommodation? A. Accommodation at the castle is available, and the event is run at the regular admission price. Details can be found on the Kryal Castle website: www.kryalcastle.com.au
2ND - 3RD DECEMBER
Kryal Castle A LEGENDARY LAND OF MYTH AND ADVENTURE
Kryal Castle is a legendary land of adventure, with knights, dragons, wizards, kings, queens, princesses, fairies and so much more. Once you cross the drawbridge, a kingdom of myth, magic and fantasy will enthral you. An adventurous, fun-filled day within the sprawling village awaits.
Journey through the chambers of the Dragons Labyrinth, which reveals the legend of Kryal; experience the drama of a medieval joust, as knights and their warhorses battle it out on the main arena; get lost in our maze; be enchanted by pantomimes; or learn the ancient art of archery.
Extend the adventure and sleep like a King or Queen for the night in beautifully appointed Castle Suites, capturing the glory and mystery of times past.
121 Forbes Road Leigh Creek, Vic 3352 03 5334 8500 OPEN: 1000 AM - 400 PM every weekend, public holidays and every day of the victorian school holidays Book your ckets today: www.kryalcastle.com.au
03 H E A LT H
AUTHOR: BH DRESSAGE
summer SAFETY B H
D R E S S A G E
– presents –
As the scorching hot days are approaching, we thought you might like to find out some tips to help keep yourself and your horses safe during these blistering days.
Baroque Horse DRESSAGE | www.baroquehorse.com.au
n Australia, we have different types of excessive heat, from dry and burning to humid and energy draining. Horses, like humans, are susceptible to heat-related illness like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when your horse is unable to rid his body of excess heat, and in the extreme heat and humidity, your horse can lose his ability to cool himself down fast enough. The body is very clever and tries to fix this by sending greater blood flow closer to the skin, which in turn aids in cooling. However, this causes the internal organs and the brain to receive less oxygen and with the excessive sweating which causes a loss of fluids and electrolytes which can be disastrous. Here are some tips on things you can do to help prevent heat-related illness for both human and horses. NUTRITION
n the hot days, it’s easy to feel sluggish and tired, especially on an empty stomach. Look for high fibre and high energy snacks. Your horse too will benefit from a treat/ snack before you ride. Offering some hay or a few minutes of grazing right before exercise is a good idea, for your horse’s digestive health and comfort. However, you should skip the grain. Riding a horse on an empty stomach (more than 2–4 hrs without food) is not advised as it could lead to gut ulcers as the gastric acids from the lower part of the stomach splash around and irritate the upper sections of the gastrointestinal tract. This acid splash that occurs in horses exercised on an empty stomach is thought to contribute to the development of gastric ulcers. Nor is it advised to ride on a full stomach as this may cause some discomfort just the same as it might for you. HYDRATION/WATER
eep yourself, and your horse hydrated and monitor your horse’s water intake. Both human and horse need to be well hydrated during these sultry days. Hydration will help
H E A LT H
avoid problems such as heat stroke, heat stress and other temperaturerelated ailments.Ensure your horse has access to fresh, cool, clean water. An average size work horses can consume easily 100 litres of water per day when the temperature is above 21°c (70°f). Keep water troughs and stock tanks clean and free from insects.
ou can also use a specially formulated horse fly sprays, or you can purchase a fly/air mesh horse rugs that not only cool down your horse but also repel the insects. There are also rugs out there that have anti-bacterial treated linings with UV protection that not only cool but are also waterproof.
or horses with pink skins are more prone to sun burn so putting on sunscreen will help protect you and
ot weather brings out the rain and the midges which can cause a lot
your horse from the nasty sun rays. To ensure your horse doesn’t react to the type of sunscreen it is always best to use a known equine product to be safe.
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uring the hot summer months, your horse needs to be able to escape the heat, especially if they are a dark coated horse. Every year, numerous cases of colic, dehydration, and respiratory distress are attributed to warmer summer weather. Worse, potentially fatal heat stroke or exhaustion causes a few deaths each summer. Providing some shelter/shade is vital to help keep your horses cool.
SUMMER EQUINE HEAT STROKE SYMPTOMS
• Heavy breathing/panting – between 40 to 50 breaths per minute, shallow breathing, and breathing that remains elevated after two minutes of rest • Rapid pulse – a pulse of more than 80 beats per minute that doesn’t slow down after two minutes of rest • Increased or absence of sweating • High body temperature – a rectal temperature of 39°c or higher • Restlessness/Lethargy • Excessive salivation • Redness of the tongue and oral area • Muscle spasms • Stumbling gait • Collapse
If you suspect your horse is suffering from heatstroke, you need to try to help cool him. Contact your veterinarian if symptoms persist or his condition worsens.
SYMPTOMS OF HEAT STROKE FOR HUMANS • Throbbing headache • Dizziness and light-headedness • Lack of sweating despite the heat • Red, hot, and dry skin • Muscle weakness or cramps • Nausea and vomiting • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak • Rapid, shallow breathing
• Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering • Seizures • Unconsciousness
Seek urgent medical attention if you are unable to bring your temperature down after 15 minutes. Untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke which can be fatal. After you’ve recovered from heat exhaustion, you’ll probably be more sensitive to high temperatures during the following week. So it’s best to avoid hot weather and heavy exercise until your doctor tells you that it’s safe to resume your normal activities.
The above information is a recommendation only. If you have any questions, please contact your health professional or veterinarian. of discomfort and pain to hypersensitive horses. Prepare early for this and keep prone horses away from stagnant creeks and muddy areas. If you could stable him when midges are most active (early morning and late afternoon) would be ideal. Placing a fan in your horse’s direction as this will help keep these pests away as they are not powerful enough to fly in a stiff breeze. Make sure you also use appropriate rugs and skin treatments/washes for your horse. TEMPERATURE
t is best to ride in the early morning or late afternoon when it is much cooler, and out of the peak heat of the day. Use common sense when riding your horse in extreme temperatures, and give him a break when heat-related issues are
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SUMMER protection products
recommended // 1. //Orscana// is a connected sensor that you can put under all blanket types. It analyses movements i.e time spent lying down, activity, the temperature underneath the blanket and detects sweating. www.cleverhorse. com.au/product-page/orscanapack // 2. //KER Drink Up// for horses that are fussy or reluctant to drink. www ker.com/products/ ker-products/australia/drink-upaustralia/
// 3 .//Fly Protection// products for the paddock and riding. www. cleverhorse.com.au/ fly-masks-c161y // 4 .//KER Restore Daily// replacement of electrolytes lost in sweat. www. ker.com/ products/ker-products/australia/ restore-australia/ // 5 .//Wattlelane Stables – QI Ease// Helpful for horses with skin conditions like Queensland itch. www.wattlelanestables. com/qi-ease.html
Baroque Horse DRESSAGE | www.baroquehorse.com.au
// 6 . //Heritage Downs Equine Cream// is a DEET-free natural face & body cream. Formulated with a blend of Neem Oil, Basil Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Citronella Essential Oil & Vitamin E. The cream is an easy application for face, ears, neck and belly, which provides a barrier for mosquitoes and midges. A great preventative of itch. It smells great and is safe and effective! RRP: 0,5L – $23, 1L – $41, 5L – $184,50. www.heritagedowns.com.au
// 7 . //Gidgee Eyes Polarized (Injected polarized lenses)// High Sunglare Reduction, Good UV Protection. EPF10 (Eye Protection Factor) designed for specific sports. RRP: $120.00 www.gidgee-eyes.com // 8 . //Kohnke's Own Cell-Salts™ // is a unique salt mix! It contains higher amounts of potassium, chloride and magnesium compared to many electrolyte replacers. www.kohnkesown.com/cellsalts/
a high risk. Unfortunately, though this is different for competition horses as they events are usually held in the hottest part of the day, and they do need to acclimate their horses for this. Did you know that horses get much hotter much faster than you and they are more susceptible to the adverse effects of heat stress? If you are not riding, you can monitor your horse’s temperature by one of the horse temperature monitoring devices available on the market. ELECTROLYTE/SALT
uring the hot days, your horse may have excess sweating, and they will lose electrolytes (sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium). To replenish this you can give them some mineral blocks, salt licks or specially formulated electrolytes. Sometimes you will need to teach your horse to drink an electrolyte solution, so start with a small amount in his water slowly allowing him to get used to the taste and increase over days and weeks. COAT CARE
f your horse has a longer coat or in some instances, summer can arrive faster than your horse can shed their thick winter coats. By clipping your horse’s coat, this will help your horse stay cool. Do keep in mind that if you do clip early on in the season that the night temperature doesn’t drop too low. Some night rugging may be in order. Be careful with pink skinned horses when clipping as they are more subjective to sun burn and skin cancers. SUMMER RUGGING
e careful which rugs you put on your horse in summer as most will make the horse hotter. It is generally better to not rug your horse in summer. Horses have a natural cooling/reflective coat system, and many rugs will trap in the heat. If your paddock doesn’t have shelter or shade then a breathable, light rug is an option. A “flag” rug works to
reflect the heat and can aid in keeping your horse cool and this often used for people worried about sun bleaching of their horse’s coats. HORSE MASKS
f course, the fly masks are always good to give your horse a bit a relief from the flies and gnats that can be very annoying and stressful. Not only does the fly mask deter those pesky insects it can also filter out harmful UV rays and reduce sun glare and is a bit like sunglasses for your horse. It will also keep the bugs out of the eyes and possibly prevent some infections. Make sure you wash regularly and keep it clean. Of course, this may be stating the obvious but best not to leave the mask on at night. If your horse has a pink nose, you can also get special masks extensions to cover the tips of the nose for the pink skin. GEAR
ear clothing that is light in colour and contains fabrics meant
for activity which will help regulate temperature and moisture. For your horse, make sure the tack is clean and fitted correctly. In hot weather, poorly fitted tack can rub and cause sores. You can purchase large helmet brims to provide more shade for you as the rider. Sunglasses are also a summer must. They protect your eyes against the sun’s harmful UV rays, which could otherwise lead to cataracts. They also protect against “blue light” from the solar spectrum, which could increase your risk of macular degeneration. COOL DOWN
n hot days you need to keep an eye out for heavy breathing and excessive sweating. If your horse is doing this, you can repeatedly give them a down or sponge down with cold water (and must scrape excess water off), particularly so if you have just had a ride as it will also rid them of fly-attracting sweat and dirt. You can cool down a horse a couple of degrees by doing this.
AUTHOR: GAIL SRAMEK
T RE A H A IL N T IHN G
Low sugar LOW STARCH
DIETS f o r
t h e
HIGH PERFORMANCE HORSE Gail Sramek BAppSc Agr â€“ N u t r i t i o n i s t
High performance diets have historically been based on a cereal grain ration fed with roughage. The high level of sugar and starches in the grains provide energy for the horse to perform, but it can come with complications. Raw, cracked and rolled grains are poorly digested and can lead to acidosis, laminitis or colic by overloading the digestive tract. Although more modern processing methods such as steam extrusion improve the digestion of grains, owners and trainers are finding not all horses need a high cereal grain diet to obtain the energy they need to compete at elite levels.
ell digested, low starch, low sugar, high oil, nutrient dense concentrates are becoming more popular to provide horses with the correct level of energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes without the complications of a cereal grain based ration. By feeding a nutrient balancer with no added grains, such as Mitavite® Munga® with a steam extruded rice based energy supplement such as Vitamite® Show Primer® and added oils and super fibres such as Performa 3® oil and Speedibeet®, sugar and starch levels in the ration may be lowered. THIS TYPE OF RATION CAN HAVE THE FOLLOWING BENEFITS: IMPROVED BEHAVIOUR – By keeping sugar and starch levels to a minimum, horses that are easily excited or hard to manage may be kept calmer. The production of dopamine has been linked
with high levels of brain glucose (the units which sugar and starch are made from) which can increase awareness and excitability. ■ Poorly digested sugar and starch in the small intestine can pass through to the hindgut and produce heat, acid and gas that may contribute to agitation and excitability in some horses. By feeding a nutrient balancer with no added grains, such as Mitavite® Munga® with a steam extruded rice based energy supplement such as Vitamite® Show Primer®, fluctuations in sugar and starch may be lowered and oil can be used as an alternative energy source, which may minimise unpredictable behaviour in some horses. Lowered resting heart rates and lactate accumulation and manageability and control may be improved when rice based feeds are fed. ■ REDUCE THE EFFECTS OF METABOLIC DISORDERS – Poorly digested and high levels of sugar and starch can exacerbate some metabolic disorders. Cushings Syndrome, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, Recurrent Equine Rhabdomyolysis
03 T RE A H A IL N T IHN G
POORLY DIGESTED SUGAR and STARCH in the small intestine can pass through to the hindgut and produce heat, acid and gas that may contribute to agitation and excitability in some horses.
and Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy are becoming more common in modern breeds of horses. These horses, including horses that suffer from tying up and laminitis may benefit from a lower starch and sugar ration. ■
Show Primer® is an excellent energy supplement to compliment the Munga® ration by providing high levels of oil to fuel the high performance horse. The amount of Show Primer® fed can be adjusted depending on the makeup and workload of the horse. ■
MINIMISE DIGESTIVE DISORDERS – Lactic acid, heat and gas are produced in the hind gut when sugars and starches pass through the small intestine undigested. This can affect the delicate pH and balance of microbes in the hindgut, that may lead to disorders such as hindgut acidosis, colic and diarrhoea. ■
The graphical analysis below shows the nutritional breakdown of a Munga® and Show Primer® ration fed with roughage. Cereal grains certainly have a place in some rations, although feeding a ration that provides energy in a cool, well digested form that is low in sugar and starch and balanced for protein, vitamins and minerals can be a favourable alternative for high performance sport horses. ■
PROVIDE AN ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCE – High oil feeds offer an alternative form of energy to a cereal grain based ration. Oils are digested in the small intestine, taking the load off the hind gut, to provide a slow release, cool energy source, providing an alternative to feeding sugar and starch. ■ PROVIDE A BALANCED, FLEXIBLE RATION – To obtain the full benefits of a low starch, gluten free diet and meet the needs of a hard working high performance horse we suggest feeding a combination of Munga® and Show Primer® with roughage. Munga® is an economical, palatable, concentrated, low starch, gluten free muesli, with no added grains, that provides optimum levels of high quality, easily digested protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.
For more information on feeding your horse, please visit the MITAVITE website at www. mitavite.com or enrol at www. advocate.mitavite.com for a free online equine nutrition course.
M U N G A A N D S H O W P R I M E R R AT I O N
DAILY HORSE RATION EVALUATION
1 Ref. No: Standard:
CLIENT : Munga and Show Primer Ration HORSES : DATE:
Moderate to Hard Working Performance Horse
AGE YEARS EST BWT NOW KG
DAILY INGREDIENTS Mitavite Munga Oil zPerforma3 Mitavite Show Primer Oat Hay 8 Lucerne Hay 19 Mixed/Native Pasture
KG dipper* 1.500 0.150 1.500 1.5 1.800 6.0 2.500 5.000
YELLOW BARS SHOW ACCEPTABLE RANGE. GREEN STRIPE SHOWS LEVELS IN THIS RATION. Top of blue is minimum requirement. Pink is surplus or excessive.
*dipper = Mitavite dipper. Not all feeds have dipper weights. Dipper weights of chaff, grain etc should be checked from batch to batch. Prepared by Agricure Pty Ltd for the sole use of the client above, based on information supplied by the client. It is a general analysis to be used as a guide only. Not to be copied/distributed without express written permission of Agricure.
Monday, 14 November 2016
(ESTIM.) MATURE BODYWEIGHT KG
1 2 3 4 5 7 13 19 25 31 37
03 H E A LT H
H Five Handy
P O P U L A R H A N D Y H I N T S A N D P R A C T I C A L A D V I C E F R O M K O H N K E ’ S O W N
TIPS BY DR JOHN KOHNKE BVSC RDA, D R P H I L I P P A K O H N K E (Kohnke’s Own Information Manager) & K A R E N S T E R N B E C K (Kohnke’s Own Nutritional Advisor)
Check out some great tips from one of Australia’s most popular and knowledgeable veterinarians! You can also find more great advice on his Facebook page www.facebook.com/kohnkesown
HOW TO REDUCE FEEDING COSTS
Feeding a horse can become quite expensive, and it is always good to be able to reduce this cost where possible. The most important part of a horse’s diet is roughage (ie grass, hay and chaff), and it can be the cheapest part of the diet. Allowing your horse or pony a good pick from the pasture each day is the most economical diet. However, many horse paddocks lack grass at the moment, are overgrazed or contain high sugar varieties unsuitable for laminitisprone ponies. If you need to feed hay to supplement your horse’s natural diet, it is important to remember that it is not necessary to buy the top-grade hay, your horse will generally do well with a cheaper grade, if it is not weather damaged, contains mould or excessive weed contamination. Rations containing a high proportion of commercial pre-mixed feeds can be quick and easy to feed out, but this convenience does come at an expense. Often a simple ration with just a bit of chaff, a scoop of natural grain, such as steam-rolled barley and a good quality, concentrated vitamin and mineral ‘ration balancer’ supplement will work out a lot more cheaper and still
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supply the correct levels of nutrients that your horse needs. Kohnke’s Own range features comprehensive, concentrated supplements are among the most costeffective on the market if you calculate cost-per-dose, which is the best way to compare supplement prices. Our coldpressed pelleted supplements contain potent, top quality trace-minerals and vitamins to ensure your horse’s optimum nutritional balance is met each day.
HOW MUCH FEED DOES MY HORSE NEED?
A horse in light work will generally consume around 2% of their body weight, or 10kg (in weight of dry food) for a 500kg horse each day, which is often less than his owner thinks! A diet of just grazing from pasture or hay (eg. 4-5 biscuits a day for a full sized horse without grass access) meets their roughage and total feed needs. However, due to mineral deficiencies in Australian soils, grass and hays, it is important to add a supplement of trace-minerals and vitamins to ensure all your horse’s nutritional needs are met each day. A supplement should contain nutrients such as zinc, copper, manganese and even some iron, which is important to replace losses from worm
burdens and lowered availability of iron in grass and hay which are grown in high calcium or clay-based soils. Vitamins A, E and many in the B group are also important to supplement, as the hay curing and storage contributes to losses of these critical vitamins. Once a horse’s work level starts to increase to more than 3 times a week walking, trotting and cantering, then it will be necessary to add a hard feed to meet the demands for extra energy to fuel this workload. Natural or partially cooked grain, as well as other hard feeds, such as commercial complete feeds should be introduced slowly to avoid excessive energy, and varied with the work level. For example, if you give your horse a week off, reduce the grain or pellets in his hard feed to reduce the risk of weight gain or fizzy behaviour from excess energy. It is important to monitor the condition and temperament of your horse because many highly processed, extruded or micronized feeds can easily fatten and/or cause nervous, hot behaviour in horses and ponies, even if they are in regular work.
WHICH HAY IS BEST?
There are many types of hay available, and is often confusing on which hay type is best for your horse. It can depend on your horse’s current situation as well as any health issues that will determine the best type of hay for your horse. Horses that have metabolic issues such as Insulin resistance, or suffer from Laminitis are best suited to hay that contains low levels of sugars and starches. Lucerne hay, Teff hay and Rhodes grass hay, are all naturally low in sugars and are the most suitable for these horses. A pasture hay can also be used but must be soaked first to remove some of the highly available, simple sugars (termed ‘water soluble carbohydrates or WSC). Many owners of laminitis-prone horses and ponies find that habitually soaking all hay provided to their horse helps reduce the risk of founder. Although lucerne hay is probably the most popular type used, it is very high in protein and calcium, especially higher quality grades with abundant leaves and soft stems. When feeding lucerne, it is better to combine it with pasture or cereal hay to help keep the protein provided in your horse’s diet to a suitable level. Excess protein can be poorly digested in your horse’s small intestine and ‘dump’ into their hindgut. This causes protein fermentation which contributes to core warmth, increasing the risk of heat stress in summer and nervous or difficult behaviour. For lightly worked horses, a ratio of 1 biscuit of lucerne to 3 biscuits of grass hay, adjusted to the amount of grass your horse can pick from pasture, gives a balanced daily amount. Pasture hay or grassy lucerne is a good choice for most horses as it normally contains a mixture of grasses, which provides plenty of variety in their diet. Cereal hays (ie oaten hay) can also be a good source of roughage, but for moderate to intensely worked horses, it may be necessary to provide an alternative protein source as well, such as lupins, soyabean meal or a protein supplement.
SOAKING HAY FOR HORSES
It is important to reduce sugar intake in horses and ponies which are overweight, 'cresty' or susceptible to Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), Insulin Resistance (IR) and laminitis/ founder. One simple, effective way to decrease the sugars in a horse's diet is to soak the hay a horse consumes daily. Soaking hay in warm water will remove some soluble sugars (water soluble sugars/carbohydrates, WSC). The ideal time for soaking a biscuit of hay is 30 minutes in 30 litres of lukewarm water. Soaking for periods longer than 60 minutes removes very few additional sugars, and increases the risk of microbial growth. Microbial contamination can be particularly problematic if hay is soaked overnight. Soaking also leach out valuable nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, sulphur, as well as watersoluble vitamins. If you continue to feed the soaked hay for more than 7 days to reduce your horse’s calorie intake, then you should add a daily supplement of trace-minerals and vitamins, such as Kohnke’s Own® Cell-Provide®, to ensure the recommended intake of important soluble nutrients, (trace-minerals and vitamins) are met as a portion of these important nutrients are leached out of the hay along with the sugars. Kohnke’s Own® Cell-Salts™ can be supplemented to replace salt lost by soaking. Restricted grazing (or using a grazing muzzle), as well as confining an overweight horse to a yard or stable during the night can help you control the amount of sugar consumed from the pasture. It is important not to starve an overly conditioned horse and always provide lucerne hay or soaked grass hay when these measures are adopted in an effort to reduce weight in your horse. A small feed of lucerne chaff, beet fibre and supplements of Cell-Provide, Cell-Salts and Kohnke’s Own® TRIM®, is a very beneficial method to reduce weight and help strip off a ‘cresty’ neck or fatty deposits in any overweight or ‘good-doer’ horse.
THE IMPORTANCE OF NUTRITION IN A YOUNG GROWING HORSE
Young growing horses only have a small window of opportunity to be provided with the correct balance of nutrients to ensure future soundness. This window starts before the foal is born, during the last trimester of pregnancy. During this stage, the developing foal requires extra nutrients for the development of bones and joints. Once the foal is born, until weaning, most nutrients come from the mare’s milk, so a balanced diet is particularly important to ensure she can produce plenty of high quality milk. After weaning up until the yearling stage is also a critical time. The bones in the foal are undergoing a lot of growth, and the correct levels of bone minerals, as well as trace-minerals and vitamins, are required for strong development of bones and joints. It is important that the diet has a good source of quality protein (especially high levels of the amino acid lysine), but not too much energy. Excess energy will cause very fast growth and increase the risk of developmental problems, such as osteochondrosis (OCD) or physitis. The young horse will start to slow down the rate of growth from 12 months of age, and the growth plates in the lower limb are closed by the age of two. So, is very important to provide the correct nutrients during the early developmental period of young horses, to ensure their future soundness and ultimate performance ability. a
AUTHOR: CATHERINE MCDOWELL – HERBALIST
H E A LT H
KEEPING YOU AND YOUR HORSE IN
Vibrant good health WELL INTO THE GOLDEN YEARS...
By Catherine McDowell
As a keen and long experienced horse owner I am often surprised by the new generation’s lack of understanding that an animal like a horse is an investment for life, as is our dog, child or dare I say it, a relationship with a significant other. How healthy we are in relationship to our world is very much reflected in the attention we give our horses and environment. A lack of “right relationship” results in countless horses (earthly resources) used up from competition or racing and then discarded to the Dark Side of the horse industry- the sale yards and a destination unknown. It is a sad fact of life that horses, being such a large animal require a huge investment of time and knowledgeable care, not to mention the cost of land nowadays. Horses are often seen in the most atrociously neglectful circumstances simply because hard times have meant no easy solution for their owners, abandonment seemingly the easy option. A tragedy for all concerned. If we are in the privileged position of owning a horse one of the best investments we can make is to ensure that they are healthy and trained well so that should you ever have to make the difficult decision to sell or re-home them, your horse is more likely to be guaranteed a good home. Starting from the ground up The land that you keep your horse on is critical to understand when thinking about prevention of disease. Soil type, the diversity of plants and chemical history is something that I feel is not well considered when looking at agistment centres or areas of land to buy when looking for accommodation for your new horse. If you can get this right you will be 99% on the way to preventing disease caused by toxins, poor fencing and inappropriate pasture. Horses are best kept on poorer pasture, with little superphosphate
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history. Dangerous weeds should be mowed, pulled or competed out with low GI grasses like phalaris and native grass varieties best for the region. Testing pasture for deficiency or excess vitamins and minerals is a good idea. However, don’t be tempted to “balance” the pasture with synthetic vitamins and minerals too quickly. The only pasture that requires this kind of balancing act is a high oxalate one, where providing calcium and magnesium rich feed is essential. Otherwise treating the soil first with soil conditioners is your first job! Feed supplementation should be done on an individualised basis using herbs and whole feeds. Mineral supplements can be useful. Vitamin supplements (Vit A, B, C, D and K) are generally not needed especially if they are synthetically derived. If you get a basic herb combination correct you can support the gut health and the microbiota which will supply a lot of the essential trace elements, vitamins and peak nutrition required for optimum health.
Tip! Know your horse’s body score and learn to read a healthy strong body type from a pudgy toxic insulin resistant prone horse. Gut health - The Microbiome You may have read my previous articles on the microbiome and the inroads being made in understanding human and horse microbial populations and the impact that healthy microbiomes have on the wholistic health picture hence why we start with the soil!
Agelessness is all about the antioxidants and oils!!
Gut health can be seriously improved with some lovely herbs and natural minerally rich clays. I have been field testing a new combination which we are calling Equigestapre, which contains Brewer’s yeast (as a source of selenium and prebiotic), Fennel powder (traditionally used as pancreatic support and digestive improver), Liquorice powder (tones the gut wall as well as adrenal support), Chamomile as a parasympathetic support as well as Slippery Elm and Aloe Vera powder to support and nourish Mucin production in the whole of the GIT. The results we are seeing from a very small amount of this 100% natural powder, given daily in the horse feed, is demonstrating yet again that appropriate amounts of the correct herbs will offer amazing health benefits such as obviously reducing systemic inflammatory responses from metabolic toxins to easing pain from an inflamed gut.
Joints, ligaments, bones, tendons and connective fascia all need to be free from “sticky” inflammation and be well lubricated so connecting surfaces glide over each other easily. When looking at cells and what they require for nourishment it is understandable that if you or your horse is dehydrated as well as have inflammatory responses occurring as a result of a sluggish elimination system or a highly processed diet, you and your horse will age very quickly and look stiff and sore, deteriorating slowly. The best nourishment comes in the form of seed oils; providing essential fatty acids to keep everything well plumped up. Herbs high in silica aid tissue repair and using herbs high in Allantoin (a cell proliferant) is useful. When thinking about what may age us or our horse, often it is assumed that once you reach a certain age you just start deteriorating – you know how it is - we reach for the reading glasses after age 50 - and we just assume that this is the way of it! This is not true if you can keep the somatic system as clean and as wellnourished as possible with a clean environment and clean feed. Adding whole herbs and seeds like ground Linseed and ground Rosehips is extremely beneficial. The lignin provides nourishing natural lubrication. Hormones responsible
was first introduced to the concept of Herbal Lore when I was very young. I think one of the earliest influences I can remember was from my grandparents, who were very traditional Bathurst farmers of the well known Cox family. My grandfather had the “people’s home library” which was a compendium of all kinds of home cures. Herbal Medicine is, at its core, studying nature and the humanities. It’s about observing our diet, our environment and how we respond. Keeping a balance is difficult in the modern era as we are no longer interacting with our environment in the same way as we may have done even as little as a 100 years ago. As a Dorothy Hall graduate working along side the well known Robert McDowell for many years and furthering my education with Dennis Stewart, I have developed my own unique application of herbal remedies. Working primarily with animals (Horses and Dogs) has been the most rewarding. Having seen herbs work so well in so many cases has proven to me time and again the under-utilised power of herbal medicine. It is heartening to see now Vets, and some Medical Doctors seeing the traditional application of herbs as useful. My comprehensive service includes free animal consultations 24/7 via my web site, and face to face consultation in Bathurst – www.mcdowellsherbal.com ■
for suppleness and cellular repair are also being stimulated by the essential fatty acids ensuring that the DNA sequencing is correct. Anti-Oxidants Inflammation, toxins and insufficient nourishment are all responsible for aging and mutate the DNA that creates rouge cells (like cancer) or slow repair. Super anti-oxidants (bioflavonoid compounds found in many foods) are well known to help protect the cells from oxidation and breakdown, another important point when discussing anti-aging in both people and animals. Interestingly Oxygen is our friend in so many ways - but is the enemy to cells with no anti-oxidant protection (like a cancer cell) which is why increasing oxygen in your blood is a good thing to do to prevent cancer. However, this will also age your cells if you don’t have the anti-oxidants working to protect your healthy cells. One of the highest quality super anti-oxidants well researched is Maritime Pine Bark extract. I wild craft this herb and manufacture this extract to be included in many of our human prescription products such as face creams and in our super immune booster and vitality formulas. I also use this herb as part of our cancer support programs in the cases of Melanoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. a
H E A LT H
Keep it S i m p l e The
EQUINE DIET PLAN Social media feed fads, peer preferences and clever marketing can make selecting a straight forward and effective diet for your horse a difficult one.
Do you ask yourself: • Do I need all these additives? • Do premixes really meet all my horse’s need? • Is my feed shed filling and my pocket emptying yet my horse still hasn’t improved? Some worthy facts to consider: • Meeting dietary needs is important • Sustaining muscles and electrolytes at rest and in work is essential • Providing nutrients for breeding and lactating horses is necessary • Minimising sugar intake for overweight and insulin resistant horses is paramount • Hoof growth and quality is the
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foundation of a good horse Managing an itch prone or immunocompromised horses can be achieved
The confusion begins: • Fads on Omega 3 from Chia seeds, flaxseed or fish oils - which one is best or is any necessary? • Reading articles about Vitamin C from Ascorbic Acid or herbs like Rosehip, again necessary or just a fad? • Lecithin for suspected ulcers? True or False? • Toxin binders - does my horse even consume toxins? • Pre and or pro-biotic? Do I need these? • My horse is stressed sometimes, is
it a behavioural issue or can I help through nutrient balancing? Are you bombarded with choices of supplements for horses kept on grass without grass - in work - at rest? Keeping It Simple-The basics needs: • Roughage – approximately 70 % of the horses feed should be in the form of roughage (hay, pasture or chaff). • A salt lick (Himalayan rock salt is a great option as it doesn’t contain any additives). • Water at least 30ltrs a day in cool weather for full size horses and double in hot weather or heavy workloads.
Copra, Speedibeet, Lupins and Chaff
Minerals and Vitamins to meet dietary needs
The volume feed needed can be worked out as: 1.7 (% of bodyweight) x 500 (kg horse) = 8.5 kg max feed 100(In this example the horse weighs 500 kg, so it can safely consume up to 8.5 kg of dry feed per day.) Next work within your budget, if you can afford additional quality feeds stuffs, work out what you can afford and what you actually need. If constrained in your budget, work out your cheapest roughage option and add a quality mineral and vitamin supplement. Readers of The Nude Horse voted Flowers Gold as the most comprehensive and absorbable daily mineral and vitamin mix to meet dietary needs. You can make your own hard feed to carry the mineral supplement with something like copra lupins, beet pulp & lucerne chaff that is low GI (sustained energy and a cool feed), the bonus is you can increase the bulk to gain weight or reduce when grass and forage abounds. If using a premix, be wary of varying the feed quantities as this will alter the mineral intake. Choosing to make your own feed blend allows you to take control of the quality and quantity of mineral and vitamin consumed daily and know your ingredients are fresh and mould free. According to the National Research Guide formulated by combined global research from the very best University studies one can see the necessary daily intake for each age, sex, weight of horse whether in work, breeding or rearing.
FACTS: Protein: Protein is made up chains of amino acids. Only lysine has been studied in horses and the known daily requirement has been established. Quality of proteins should be considered above quantity as amino acids need to be utilised in the foregut to contribute to the amino acid pool for tissue synthesis and repair. Pasture grass delivers approximately 0.92% Lysine/DM. Lucerne hay supplies 0.83 % Lysine/DM and Soybean meal delivers 3.38 % Lysine/DM. All feed sources should be factored into daily intake. Sugar resistant horses: Chromium appears to be directly involved in carbohydrate, fat and protein
BUDGET if you can afford additional quality feeds stuffs, work out what you can afford and what you actually need.
metabolism. It is especially important for horses with endocrine disorders or metabolic syndromes such as Cushings and Hypothyroidism. Chromium is integral in the regulation, stabilization, metabolism and absorption of sugars in the blood. Feeding the right hay is important for sugar sensitive horses, of note Lucerne hay delivers approximately 12 % NSC (non-structural carbohydrates) compared to oaten hay supplying around 22% NSC. (https://kppusa.com/ tips and topics/picking-hay-sugarstarchsensitive-horses/). Biotin for hooves assists the outer wall of the hoof to grow faster, fed with organic manganese enables the body to utilise biotin. Feeding together encourage healthy outer and inner hoof wall growth. Organic Selenium and Organic Zinc also play key roles in healthy hooves. Healthy shiny coat: Predominately organic zinc and organic selenium balanced in their synergies such as with organic copper produce healthier coats. When dietary needs are adequately met coat colour will deepen and glow. Bioavailability of nutrients means sourcing a supplement with these hard to absorb minerals in an organic and chelated form. Allergy to midge saliva: The problem with allergic reaction begins when incorrect signalling occurs at the cytokine level. (http://cid.oxfordjournals. org/content/32/1/76.short) Experimental feed supplements are showing signs of assisting a correct
03 H E A LT H
response cytokines to initiate an antihistamine and heparin defence. Horses fed diets enriched with Omega 3 EPA and DHA (fish oil) demonstrated modulation of inflammatory mediators, possibly resulting in a decrease of allergic skin responses. (NRC, Nutrient Requirement for Horses 6th Ed).
Feeds too high
THAT ARE PROPORTIONATELY IN
OMEGA 6 TO OMEGA 3
ARE vegetable oils (SOYBEAN, cotton seed, SUNFLOWER SEED, corn, GRAPE SEED, rice bran, PEANUT, sesame oils)
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Omega 3: When grass abounds the natural balance of Omega 3 to 6 ratio occurs close to 4:1, this is ideal for horses. When pasture is unavailable, it is recommended by Kentucky Equine Research to supplement 60 ml/day of fish oil. (Pagan, Lawrence, Lennox). Flaxseed provides a plant based ALA form of Omega 3, however only 5% is able to be converted into the necessary EPA and DHA able to be utilised. Feeds that are proportionately too high in Omega 6 to Omega 3 are vegetable oils (soybean, cotton seed, sunflower seed, corn, grape seed, rice bran, peanut, sesame oils) Corn oil for example has an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of about 45:1! Caution should be exercised with seeds like sunflower, sesame & pumpkin along with grains including corn, oats, wheat, quinoa and rice, not to be missed are legumes like soybean and peanuts that are very high in the Omega 6 fatty acids. http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods000141000000000000000-1w.html?
Vitamin C: Horses synthesise Vitamin C in their liver from green feeds and thereby supplying additionally in their feeds is deemed unnecessary. Studies show supplementation of small doses of Vitamin C at the 80 km endurance level may be beneficial. (https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/ publications/jas/abstracts/8 2/2/0820588) Lecithin for ulcers: In a comprehensive study pectin lecithin failed to prevent lesions in the gastric ulcers. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/ doi/10.2746/042516402776767268/ abstract). Another comprehensive clinical trial revealed there were no significant differences in the ulcer scores between mares that received lecithin and mares that didnâ€™t. (http://www.repository.up.ac.za/ dspace/bitstream/handle/2263/45481/ Sanz_Efficacy_2014. pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y) Toxin Binders: Horses exposed to mycotoxins in their feeds (mouldy hay) can benefit from varied forms of toxin binders. A variety of options include: diatamaceous earth, zeolite, cellulose, polysaccharides, mannon oglisaccharides, bentonite clay and
alumina-silicates. Toxin Binders are useful as a preventative feed supplement, not a treatment once toxins have been ingested. Avoiding premixes/pellets may reduce the exposure to potential moulds hidden after processing. Pro and prebiotics: Dr David Marlin a Scientific and Equine Consultant recommends “It is worth considering feeding a gut balancer type of product to horses under stress, horses prone to colic or laminitis, horses that develop GI upset on medications such as antibiotics, to horses around the time of worming, when changes to diet are made, for poor doers, older horses that lose condition and horses that develop loose droppings”. Nervous horses: Supplementing with nutrients that have been demonstrated to reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress hormones, along with supporting normal cognitive functions that assist building the brain’s chemical messengers called neurotransmitters can be beneficial. a Caution must be exercised not overloading with high quantities of magnesium for example whereby ‘slurred’ behaviours can potentially endanger the safety of you and your horse. Magnesium can throw off absorption of other vital nutrients. Look for a balanced blend of amino acids, vitamin B’s (not with Vit B12 in combination as it blocks out the functions of the other B’s), small amounts of magnesium and select beneficial plant extracts
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03 H E A LT H
Hindgut ACIDOSIS A Pain in the Gut It is no secret among informed horse owners that the horse’s gastrointestinal tract is both a wondrous and a delicate creation. When working at full capacity, the tract is able to efficiently convert grasses and grains to energy. When things go awry with the gastrointestinal tract, however, a horse’s life might hang in the balance.
ur demands on the domesticated horse have pushed them to run faster, jump higher and generally perform harder at an elite level than ever before. To match our changing needs, we have changed the eating patterns of horses, meaning that what was once a free-ranging herbivore, with a diet naturally high in fibre, is now a confined athlete consuming a diet that is often low in fibre and high in nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC). As with any alteration in the natural order of things, these changes have brought their own consequences to bear for horse owners and managers.
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A brief summary of the equine gastrointestinal tract In order to understand the causes and management strategies to prevent hindgut acidosis or indeed manage a horse with hindgut acidosis, it’s important to understand the basic anatomy of the horse’s gastrointestinal system. The foregut includes the mouth and its many components, esophagus, stomach and small intestine, and accounts for about 35 to 40% of the capacity of the gastrointestinal tract. The hindgut includes the cecum, large colon, small colon and rectum.
Because of the limited size of the horse’s foregut, digesta (swallowed food as it undergoes digestion) spends little time there when compared to the hours it spends progressing through the hindgut. One core feature of the hindgut is the fragile population of microorganisms that inhabit it. Anaerobic bacteria, fungi and protozoa coexist contentedly in the hindgut when the system is working proficiently. Together the microbes’ primary responsibility is to digest fiber. The breakdown of fiber in the hindgut results in the production of volatile fatty acids (VFA), which permeate the walls of the cecum and
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colon, hitch a ride in the bloodstream, and end up in the liver, where they are used by the horse to fuel athletic or reproductive endeavors. Causes of Subclinical Acidosis Certain situations trigger the pH of the hindgut to drop sharply. The two most common causes are the overconsumption of high-starch concentrates and overeating pasture grasses rich in fructan. The demands placed on horsesâ€”as athletes and as breeding animalsâ€”dictate that substantial quantities of energy-rich feeds be consumed. When either of these feeding
scenarios occurs, it is impossible for the stomach and small intestine to sufficiently digest and absorb the massive onslaught of starch. Accordingly, some starch moves into the hindgut without being adequately digested. As digestion of easily-fermentable starch progresses in the hindgut, the production of VFA and lactic acid increases, causing a significant decrease in the pH. When the hindgut endures insults such as this several times a day, it teeters on becoming overwhelmed with acid. Additionally, because lactic acid is stronger than VFA, it can cause serious damage to the intestinal mucosa. In severe cases, lactate may
contribute between 50 and 90% of the total acids in the hindgut. The shift in pH provides an unfavorable environment for some of the many microorganisms that inhabit the hindgut and aid in digestion. In particular, fiber-digesting bacteria such as Ruminococcus albus and Fibrobacter succinogenes are sensitive to precipitous decreases in pH. For optimal performance, these bacteria favor an environment with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. When pH drops below 6.0, which is often the case with subclinical acidosis, fiber-digesting bacteria become less efficient and begin to die off.
H E A LT H In contrast to fiber-digesting bacteria, lactate-producing and lactate-utilizing bacteria thrive in an environment with a low pH. Certain microorganisms such as Streptococcus bovis actually shift their metabolism and produce lactic acid rather than VFA when exposed to acidic conditions, serving only to compound the problem. Changes in the pH of the hindgut due to alterations in the microbial populations and acid profiles cause a condition known as subclinical acidosis.
Because of the precarious nature of the hindgut of a horse afflicted with subclinical acidosis, it is less able to handle metabolic crises that healthy horses may be able to fend off. Therefore, horses with subclinical acidosis are more susceptible to colic and laminitis.
Signs of Subclinical Acidosis
Horses at risk of hindgut acidosis often express one or more signs that can derail athletic performance as well as reduced growth or reproductive potential. Signs of subclinical acidosis may include: •
Decreased feed intake or complete inappetence in severe cases,
Mild to moderate colic signs of unexplained origin,
Poor feed efficiency and subsequent weight loss, and
Development of stereotypies such as wood-chewing, weaving, or box-walking.
One of the primary signs of subclinical acidosis is inappetence or decreased appetite. A horse is often reported to be “off his feed.” Because the hindgut is overwhelmed with lactic acid when a horse is experiencing acidosis, the intestinal lining becomes inflamed and irritated, causing the horse discomfort. The irritation may be severe enough to induce behavior characteristic of colic. Furthermore, and perhaps most detrimental to equine athletes, is a reduction of feed efficiency. Long-term exposure of the intestinal lining to a low-pH environment may negatively affect the absorptive capacities of these structures, limiting the amount of energy available for performance. In addition to these health concerns, a link between subclinical acidosis and stereotypies such as wood-chewing and stall-weaving has been suggested by researchers.
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A well-planned feeding program is the key to managing hindgut acidosis. Ensuring that you feed your horse the way that its gastrointestinal tract is designed to work with small, frequent meals, appropriate starch levels and adequate forage intake will all manage hindgut acidosis going forward. A hindgut balancer, such as KER’s unique product EquiShure, may also assist in helping to maintain optimal hindgut pH. The horse’s fermentation vat, collectively composed of the cecum and colon, is located at the end of the gastrointestinal tract. In order to reach the horse’s hindgut, EquiShure must withstand passage through the stomach and small intestine and be timed to release in the hindgut where it is required. Research supports the use of a hindgut balancer in cases of high grain and high fructan intake. As an end product of fibre digestion, volatile fatty acids (VFAs) are absorbed by the hindgut to enable their use as an energy source. When high concentrations of fructans are found in pasture and horses are processing these highly fermentable carbohydrates in the hindgut, EquiShure helps moderate pH by preventing the drastic drop, thus encouraging fibre-digesting bacteria to thrive. Using scientific studies conducted at KER and other research institutions, KER has produced
EquiShure, a time-released balancer designed especially for the horse. When EquiShure is fed, only a minimal decrease in hindgut pH occurs, allowing for optimal absorption of all feedstuffs and optimal production and absorption of VFA so horses have sufficient energy to perform. How to feed to prevent hindgut acidosis Of course, prevention is always preferred! Consumption of large amounts of starch or fructans may lead to hindgut starch fermentation and acidosis. Studies have also shown that as meal size and starch intake increase, there will be a rise in the amount of undigested starch reaching the hindgut. Therefore, providing your horse with a diet that derives its energy from fat and fibre sources can be the cornerstone of a healthy equine digestive tract. There are times of the year when lush, spring grass can wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal system. If you are concerned and want to protect your horse, EquiShure may be a suitable addition to your feeding program. EquiShure should be used with general management strategies like using a grazing muzzle for horses at high risk of hindgut acidosis from spring pasture. If you suspect your horse is suffering from hindgut acidosis or would like more information about EquiShure or general nutrition advice regarding dietary management to help prevent hindgut acidosis, contact Kentucky Equine Research’s FREE nutrition consultation service on 1800 772 198, email advice@ker. com or submit a diet analysis through our website www.ker.com
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AUTHOR: JOCHEN SCHLEESE, CMS, CSFT, CSE ©2017 SADDLEFIT 4 LIFE® ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
T R A I N I N G
saddle fit AND THE
HEAVIER r i d e r b y
J o c h e n
S c h l e e s e
I don’t think anyone will argue the fact that all riders and all horses benefit from a correctly fitted saddle! However, heavier riders bring with them a whole different set of challenges by heavier riders, I am referring to any rider who is around 200 pounds).
hen a heavier rider chooses a horse, it should really be a key criterion to have a horse with a large enough saddle support area/weight bearing surface to accommodate a bigger saddle which will fit this rider’s conformational needs. (Think Friesian rather than Arab). Important is always that the saddle fit the rider first – because if it doesn’t then no matter how well the saddle fits the horse, the rider’s discomfort due to poor rider saddle fit will always translate down to the horse. This limits both the horse and rider in attaining optimum performance. Of course there are certain things that need to be considered in saddle fit to the rider – not least of which is that the saddle accommodates the gender of the rider!
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There are a number of areas where the saddle needs to fit the rider (just briefly outlined here – and remember that these are ‘in general’ – there are always exceptions!): • Seat size to accommodate the butt cheeks. • Seat width to accommodate the seat bones – wider in a woman than a man. • Seat waist – the seaming in the crotch area which needs to wider for women so that discomfort in the female genitals can be avoided (and rubbing on the underwear line!) and narrower for men. • Stirrup bar placement (women generally will need extended stirrup bars since their upper legs are usually longer than their lower legs, which affects where and how the leg hangs). • Twist (women generally need more narrow twists than men – this is the area
of the saddle between the upper inner thighs). This accommodates their hip articulation and angle of the hip socket. Particularly in heavier riders this needs to be super narrow since the thighs will likely be fairly thick. • Seat foam – women (with shorter tailbones and higher gluteus muscles) generally need more support from behind so that they don’t ‘fall back’ in the saddle. Sometimes heavy riders tend to be on horses that are probably questionable in their load bearing capacity...(which is really sad, because we have seen 250+pound riders on skinny little horses...however with the right saddle this can be accommodated ‘somewhat’). You need a saddle that accommodates a bigger butt – let’s say 18 ½” – while also having to accommodate a relatively
//T his saddle is unfortunately placed too far forward and on top of the horse’s scapula (shoulder blade) instead of the ideal position of behind the scapula. This saddle also looks a little small for this particular rider. The horse’s pinned- back ears are clearly a sign of discomfort. Photo: Marcel Jancovic/Shutterstock-unidentified rider.
//W hile important for all horses and riders, regular saddle fit checks are especially critical for the heavier rider because the saddle padding (flocking) will compress more quickly, compromising the rider’s balance and the health of the horse’s back. Photo: Steven Lilley/Flickr.
short saddle support are on the horse’s back (let’s say with a 17 ½” panel). This can be done – we say the top of the saddle is for the rider, while the bottom is for the horse. What are some of the signals that a poor saddle fit may be adding to your horse’s load? A saddle which is too long for the horse’s back (because most 18 ½ – 19” saddles, which accommodate the heavier rider, likely will be!) can cause bucking, stumbling, rearing, and so on – because the length will be past the saddle support area (which ends at the 18th thoracic vertebra) and onto the ‘bucking reflex’. It will impinge on the kidney area, or the ovaries in a mare. In any case, the horse will react reflexively and instinctively. The back won’t come up, he will be reluctant to move forward. It simply hurts – and horses react to pain! On more stoic horses, the back will sink
into a swayback, effectively doubling the rider`s weight as the rider is unable to swing with the movement of the horse using the natural four curves of her spinal column. Saddle fit should be checked regularly, regardless what you weigh. The horse’s conformation will change over time – regardless of the weight of the rider. With a heavier rider, the padding will compress faster – and once the balance is compromised, the rider starts to `clench` and loses the softness of the seat, sitting harder and heavier into the horse`s back. It does help if a mounting block is used for the rider to get on the horse – but it`s not about the weight; the rule is that the higher the mounting block, the less torque and strain for saddle and horse. We talk a lot about making sure the saddle fits the horse, but there are some ways to make sure the human fits the saddle. This will only happen if the saddle is made under consideration of the human’s anatomy. Male/female; leg length, leg position (hip articulation), hip circumference, weight – these are all variables that need to be considered when the saddle is built. Obviously, a balanced rider has a better chance of not impacting the horse negatively. To determine rider balance, sit on the saddle on a saddle horse. Have a friend take a picture and look for these four points to determine how or if the rider is balanced:
/ / I deally, the saddle should sit in what is called the saddle support area (SSA), with the tree points behind the shoulder and no further back than the 18th lumbar vertebra. Photo courtesy of Schleese, Dieter Busse.
• Is there the same amount of saddle flap and seat in front of and behind the leg?
02 T R A I N I N G
/ / I deally, the heavier rider should look for a horse that has a large enough saddle support area to accommodate the bigger saddle required by the rider’s conformation. A saddle that is too long for the horse will extend past the saddle support area and impinge on the horse’s kidneys and, in mares, the ovaries.
//T he discomfort felt by a heavier rider who is riding in a ‘too-small’ saddle will be translated to the horse. Additionally, the rider’s inability to ride with a pliable seat and a swing through her back will effectively double her natural weight for the horse to bear. Photo: Steven Lilley/Flickr.
• Does the flap length end 4–7” below the knee cap? • When viewed at a ¾ angle, does the rider`s leg hang flush with the flap or does the knee and toe turn out to the side? • Is the rider balanced on her seat bones and does she feel the seat bones without pressure in the crotch – and are the shoulderships-heels naturally aligned in the plumb line without help?
The best analogy of what happens when a saddle is too tight – you will get a blood blister faster on the heel with too tight shoes than if you wore shoes that are too big. If a heavier rider sits in a saddle which is too small, the rider has no chance for a pliable seat and therefore doubles their natural weight. The rider is not able to swing through their back nor harmonize with the swinging of the horse`s back. Saddle length is critical, as is tree width (not to be mistaken with tree angle). Heavier riders will need softer padding in their panels and sometimes even additional saddle pads (as long as the tree is wide enough to accommodate this extra padding.) Seat size and full panel contact are also important. The heavier the rider – the more of an issue it will be if the saddle bridges. There needs to be accommodation for some ability for the saddle to `rock` with banana-shaped stuffed panels to take care of the extra weight of the rider to avoid digging into the loins or shoulder if the panel is too straight. Let’s remember that horses were not meant to be ridden – we have forced this on them. It is crucial to ensure proper saddle fit to maintain their back health, and it is crucial to ensure the correct saddle for the rider to assist in this. People need to understand that saddles will need to be fitted on a regular basis because due to this unnatural activity and weight on the animal`s back the horse`s conformation will change – and the heavier the rider, the more often the saddle will need to be refitted to the constant change in the shape of the horse`s back.
Almost more important is truly that the saddle is then adjusted to the horse and his needs are taken into consideration! You need to ensure that the gullet gives the horse enough room all around the withers so that when the horse is in motion and the muscles begin to ‘grow’ (contract and expand) the saddle doesn’t pinch. The tree points need to have the same angle as the shoulder to allow freedom of movement here as well (think ‘sliding doors’) and not injure the horse by chipping off the sensitive shoulder cartilage. We have all seen horrifying pictures of people riding in saddles that are way too small for them. This will cause damage not only to the horse, but also to the rider. Horse damage can include lameness, sacro-iliac subluxations, vertebral damage, pinching of nerves along the spinal column and behavioural issues that result from these painful results such as bucking, stumbling, and refusing to work. Human damage can include slipped discs, constant backaches, recurring bladder infections, impotence, and hip damage to the point of requiring hip replacement.
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Fit is Everything.
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Baroque Horse Dressage Magazine Issue 29