NEW MEXICO HORSES
New Mexico OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2017
IT STARTS WITH GENTLE TRAINING
HEADED FOR HIGH ELEVATION? read this first
FREE! / HEALTH & WELLNESS ISSUE / HORSE EMOTIONS / FITNESS / PREVENT POISONING
Goose Downs Farm BeneÃžtting The Horse Shelter/Southwest Region of US Pony Club
Christy Parent (https://www.4birdsphotography.com)
Goose Downs Farm 64 Goose Downs Road Galisteo, NM 87540 505 690 9948 MJRatGDF@aol.com
HEALTH & WELLNESS ISSUE
TRAINING WITH POSITIVITY / FITNESS / PIGEON FEVER
14 Correct Him With Fairness
Correcting properly is good for your horse's emotional health
18 R+ (Clicker) Training
Using positivity as your tool of communication
22 The Power Of Your Energy
How to improve you energetic interaction with horses
24 Getting Fit For The Tough Ride
Prevent injury & have fun on a high-altitude ride
28 Barefoot Basics
Keeping your horse barefoot is more than a trend
30 Keep Your Horse Safe
Know and avoid these equine poisoning hazards
31 Massage May Be Just What Your Horse Needs 32 Alternative Therapies For Your Painful Horse 34 Seeing Is Healing
Horse viewing tips from a horse photography
36 What To Do If Pigeon Fever Strikes
33 Horse Services Directory 38 Try This Trail: Winsor Trail 39 October / November Events
Horse Around New Mexico is printed six times per year: Feb/Mar, Apr/May, Jun/Jul, Aug/Sep, Oct/Nov, & Dec/Jan. Submissions of articles and photos from all around NM are welcome! See our website or email/call for submission standards/deadlines: www.horsearoundnm.com, HorseNewMexico@gmail.com, 505-570-7377. Horse Around New MexicoÂŠ2017. All rights reserved. Horse Around New Mexico and Horsearoundnm.com are copyrighted, trademarked, and the sole property of Cecilia Kayano. Individual content copyright belongs to the author. All the opinions expressed herein are the sole opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect bias or belief on the part of the editor, publisher, distributors, printer, advertisers, or other contributors.
In this health and wellness issue several experts talk about how to recognize and encourage wellness of mind, body and spirit of equines and humans. But everyone who has a love of horses can be somewhat of an expert. I met two men with wellness insights at Jack's Creek Campground in the Pecos Wilderness. Roch Richer, age 70, lives in Quebec, Canada, and is our magazine's first international subscriber. When I first saw him at Jack's Creek in mid September, I was immediately intrigued that the mule he was riding was wearing boots instead of shoes. The boots were bright orange. Roch comes from a long line of horse owners. His father was into breeding/training race horses. Roch was very gentle with his mule, but says gentle horsemanship was not role-modeled to him. A few generations ago, people would “break” horses. “They broke their spirits,” says Roch. He told me I should never use the word broke. Instead, I should say, “Before Consuelo was educated…” He also says a person should never ride because he has to. “Riding should be all about passion and love of the horse,” he says. Now, check out the cover photo. I met these two men also at Jack’s Creek and rode with them up the Winsor Ridge Trail. I overheard Morris say to Bob (his friend of four years), “The only thing I regret about our friendship is that we didn’t meet twenty years ago.” You don’t often hear public statements of tenderness between men, and it made me happy to be a witness to this kindness. Morris Dudgeon (on cover photo left) is from Oklahoma, and takes two days to drive to Jack’s Creek, a place that he describes as, “The most beautiful place in the world.” Like myself and others, he finds the wilderness, a horse, and good friends the perfect combination for calming down. “Riding in the mountains gets you away from the clutter of life. It provides you with solitude.” Morris also says that horses bring people together. “There is a common denominator among horse people, a common interest. The horse is a connector.” In fact, Morris notes that horses are what connected him to Bob Snodgrass, also pictured on the front cover. The two men first met while attending an organized group ride, got in a minor disagreement, then crossed paths later in the ride. The animosity was gone, and a friendship was launched. (They now laugh about the brief tiff.)
New Mexico Editor/Publisher CECILIA KAYANO Associate Editor PEGGY CONGER Facebook/Events SUSIE SPICER Manager Contributing Writers ROELIFF ANNON & Photographers RICHARD CANDELARIA THOMAS GARCIA ONE DEFINING MOMENT PHOTOGRAPHY JOHNNY MACARTHUR PAM MACARTHUR GABRIELLA MARKS LYNNE J. MCCARTHY SUE MURPHY SUSAN ROBERTS SUSAN SMITH DOUG THAL Staff Writers & EVALYN BEMIS Photographers STACIE G. BOSWELL Graphic Design/Layout MARIE ANTHONY Advertising & Sales FREE Events Listing
Roch Richer just before a ride into the Pecos Wilderness. Roch is Horse Around's first international subscriber!
Subscriptions $30/YR MAIL CHECK TO:
HANM * PO BOX 367* PECOS * NM 87552 OR PURCHASE ONLINE AT:
“Horses connected me to Bob. We would have never been friends without horses.” Now the two travel to the mountains regularly to camp and ride. They talk about horses, horses, horses, and sometimes what to eat for dinner. They rarely talk about work. So Roch and Morris, when they camp and ride out of the world’s most beautiful place, experience feelings akin to mine. For me, it is a healing, helped along by nature, horses, and horse people. Morris says, “You go there with your horse and you experience a release. You change. You come off the mountain a kinder and gentler person.”
www.horsearoundnm.com Next Issue: Holiday Issue Well-written, informative articles and high-resolution photos are welcome. Submissions will be considered and are subject to editing. The next issue, the Holiday Issue, will appear at New Mexico outlets on December 1, 2017. The deadline for submissions is October 20, 2017. The deadline for ads is November 5, 2017. For information contact Cecilia Kayano, HANM Editor, 505-570-7377, HorseNewMexico@gmail.com, www.horsearoundnm.com
Need more trail riding details, horsey events and equine inspiration? Check out our expanded Facebook page. Make sure to like us! COVER PHOTO: Morris Dudgeon and Bob Snodgrass near the Winsor Ridge Trail, Pecos Wilderness. Photo by Cecilia Kayano.
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CORRECT HIM with fairness
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Correcting properly is good for your horse’s emotional health BY ROELIFF ANNON PHOTOS BY GABRIELLA MARKS
hen seeking solutions for issues between horse and rider, punishing the horse is not the most effective tool in our toolbox. In fact, to assume motive, or assign blame to our horses is never productive. The cause of a horse’s behavior is rooted in its survival instinct. When a horse perceives a threat, those survival traits kick in. The horse seeks security and escape from whatever makes it feel threatened. It’s important to keep in mind horses don’t know what’s “right” and “wrong.” They are only responding according to how their instincts and temperament inform them. Horses spook, run, buck, kick, bite, and freeze up. They aren’t built to be constrained and limited in their movement, and we need to keep this in mind when we’re wanting to change their behavior.
How over-correction can backfire
Association is one key to horse behavior. They associate the sound of the feed truck with food, so when the truck drives by they expect food. The same kind of association happens if they spook and we respond by a kick or a harsh pull on reins. They associate what made them spook with that discomfort. Our attempt to “correct” a spook instead enhances the reaction. A harsh correction can also cause a spike in adrenalin and cortisol, two chemicals that inhibit the ability of the brain to learn. The horse goes into survival mode, which triggers those most basic instincts — spooking, running, bucking, kicking, etc. So with a harsh correction, you’re reinforcing the very behavior you’re trying to stop. Depending on your horse’s temperament, the arousal level may only increase with more attempts at “correction.” A horse does not effectively learn when stressed. The associations they make will not be positive, and in fact they will learn to access their adrenaline to cope with the stress. For example: You approach a bridge and your horse balks. You apply pressure by kicking or using a crop. The horse rears and spins away from the bridge. You spur the horse harder and use more and more rein, in an attempt to punish him for his bad behavior. Under such pressure, your horse eventually may go across, but the only thing he learned was to fear you more than the bridge.
This 7-year-old Spanish mustang named Axl is scared to go over a bridge. His ears and the direction of his eyes show he’s trying. Many riders argue that harsh correction that “punishes” their horse for “bad” behavior works, because the horse stops the behavior. With gentle horses, punishment can be a stronger influence than whatever is causing the undesired behavior. For horses that have a stronger sense of self-preservation, overcorrecting will often backfire, making the horse more reactive, and eventually dangerous. Let's get back to the bridge example. Instead of harshly correcting the refusal, can you get him to take one step with his head and neck relaxed, wither high, and jaw soft? If not, chances are pretty slim he’ll go over the bridge. If you calmly persist, and can get your horse to take one step in the desired direction with head and neck relaxed and his jaw soft, he is learning that he does not have to be reactive. Try this out the next time your horse is “acting up” over an obstacle and do some exercises to connect with and relax him.
Consider your horse’s temperament
Just about anyone can work with a gentle, tame horse. But a large number of horses can’t tolerate harsh punishment as a means of interacting, and their will to survive kicks in. We’re tempted to call these horses willful, stupid, mean, or flighty. But the fact is, they’re better at being a horse than the handler is at navigating the horse-human interface. Learning to work with these horses is where we can grow and learn as handlers.
PHOTO LEFT: Working your horse from the ground until he feels soft and relaxed is a good way to connect and stop unwanted behaviors before they happen. When you can get your horse to take one step in the desired direction with head and neck relaxed and jaw soft, he’s learning that he does not have to be reactive. www.horsearoundnm.com | Oct/Nov 2017 | HORSE AROUND
Correcting with fairness will not only keep your horse's emotions in check, it will make for a more pleasant ride for you! Remember, a horse that freezes up and balks can be just as aroused as a horse rearing, running, or bucking. We can only manage temperament, we can’t change it.
Don’t kill a “try” with a correction
The other common mistake is doing too much and missing the moment when the horse is trying. We must learn to tell the difference between a “try,” and when a horse is just not listening. One of the most common mistakes riders make is to kill a “try” by putting pressure on the horse right when it is about to do what we’ve asked. Some of the sure signs a horse is trying is when they look in the direction you want them to go with both eyes. Their ears might soften and go back and forth from, using our example, the bridge to you. The jaw relaxes. If your horse is moving in the right direction even if they are a little to the right or left of the object (or the bridge in this case), reward the “try” – all pressure from your legs and rein should stop completely.
You will be surprised how often this emboldens your horse to do exactly what you’re asking of him.
Stop unwanted behaviors before they happen If you’re paying attention to your horse, you’ll often be able to stop an unwanted behavior like a spook or buck before it happens. Spend extra time doing exercises that connect the two of you before starting your trail ride or arena work.
Pay attention when a behavior happens that you’d like to change. What happened right before the behavior started? For example, when you take your horse to a new place and the first thing he does coming of the trailer is raise his head and start wheeling around looking for security. Do you snap the chain you have around his nose to punish his “bad” behavior? Look at this through your horse’s eyes. He’s actually doing exactly what a horse does in a new environment. It’s our
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responsibility to show him a different way. Can you, when stepping your horse out of the trailer, ask him to stop, lower his head and neck, soften his jaw, and leave one step at a time? Same thing after you’ve left the trailer: Can your horse softly take two steps back and one forward? If you find yourself reacting to your horse’s actions instead of being proactive and redirecting behavior, you are punishing him after the fact. This doesn’t teach your horse anything. Instead of reacting to the unwanted behavior, allow the moment to pass and start over. Think about why you have a horse in your life. I’m sure most people want to have a fun and enriching experience. Punishment doesn’t sound like much fun. Consider the horse, treat him with the respect he deserves, and he’ll reveal a lot to you.
Roeliff Annon helps horses and humans find true connection. Roeliff raises Spanish Mustangs on his ranch in Corona, NM. He works with all breeds of horses and all types of students. For more information, go to BeingwithHorses.us or call 505-690-0795.
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Palomino www.horsearoundnm.com | Oct/Nov 2017 | HORSE AROUND
R+(Clicker) Training What if you could train using just positivity as your tool of communication? ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY EVALYN BEMIS
Think about this. You have a marine mammal swimming in a pool in front of you, at liberty, and you need to teach him a behavior. You can reward him with a fish for doing what you want, but how do let him know he has done the particular, desired action? You need a signal he can hear and associate with getting a reward that follows the behavior. The signal, whether it is a whistle, a click, a bell, or a voice, is the “bridge” that connects the behavior to the happy outcome, the reward. In the scientific world this has the tongue-twisting title of “R+ Operant Conditioning.” In the practical training world, it’s often just called “positive reinforcement,” “R+” or simply “clicker training.” From this first step you can create or shape practically any behavior you need. With horses, this could mean coming when called, standing quietly for the vet or grooming, loading into the trailer, performing perfect flying lead changes, jumping at liberty, or just about anything you can imagine wanting to do with your horse.
Horse R+ training started at Sea World
Shawna Karrasch had been a professional at Sea World for nine years, where she learned the science of positive reinforcement training and how effective it was working with the marine mammals, when she received an invitation to attend a Grand Prix jumping show. She went to the show, was entranced and decided, rather naively, that it looked like fun to whiz over fivefoot jumps and maybe she would take up riding. Shawna didn’t know how to post the trot, but she figured she did have the skills to train a horse. What she found out though, was that in the world of equestrian sports, most training aids are given using the reinforcements of pressure (negative) and release (positive). In other words, you put your leg on and when the horse goes forward, his reward is that you release the pressure, or you pull on the bit in his mouth to stop him and when he halts, you relax the reins. She wondered why horses did anything at all for people. And then her second thought was, people are going to be so excited when they find out there is a better, easier method!
Horses and R+ training? No way…
Shawna has been teaching R+ training with horses for over 25 years. This method uses giving treats as a reward. The first obstacle for Shawna to change was the mindset that hand feeding horses is bad because it can create aggressive behavior and biting. However, in Shawna’s careful methodology, horses quickly learn that pushiness and nipping are not rewarded and the use of food becomes a non-issue. Safety always comes first and consistent timing of the bridge signal (click) validates the right behavior. The level of resistance Shawna encountered in the beginning might have deterred a lesser person. She was told horses aren’t smart enough, they can’t learn except in the traditional ways, they can be dangerous, etc. Having seen the successful use of R+ in zoos with hyenas, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, etc. as well as her experience with sea mammals, she could not believe that horses were somehow so different. PHOTO LEFT: Shawna Karrasch shares a happy moment with Drake during a training session. PHOTO RIGHT: Shawna rewards Cactus for successfully placing all four hooves on the stool. This gives the horse a great stretch over his topline.
Tom Dorrance takes interest
She happened upon an article in People magazine about legendary trainer Tom Dorrance and intrigued, she picked up the phone and called him. In their discussion he was quite encouraging of her ideas and approaches to training and invited her to come to his ranch to work with him. Unfortunately she was still employed full-time at Sea World and couldn’t take advantage of what, in hindsight, would have be a great opportunity, but his encouragement did set her onto what would become her new path.
Horses could be the perfect R+ candidates
First things first, Shawna learned to ride. She became a competent equestrian, although not riding to the grand prix level. She fell in love with horses and their eagerness to learn, and to know when they did the right thing. She was fascinated by their ability to retain skills over a long period of time. There is now a groundswell of acceptance for R+ training methods in the horse world. Shawna teaches this method around the world and Olympic-level riders have embraced the science and success of her teaching. She has given clinics at the Luna Rosa Stable near Santa Fe for the past several years.
Basics of R+
What may look like a simple technique, clicking and rewarding, actually takes practice to perfect. Correct timing of the click is essential to making the desired behavior clear to the horse. At the introduction to R+ training, horses are normally eager to respond to the smell of food and will try a variety of means to
Amanda Jay uses a target just behind Drake’s front legs to teach him the first move towards performing a bow. Drake knows touching his nose to the target will get him a reward. get to it. Only when the horse moves his mouth away from the food tub does he get a click, then fed a small handful of his grain or other treat. He figures out very quickly that when he sees you coming wearing the tub (or other grain/reward holding device), to stand quietly and look slightly away and he will get a click and reward. There is never any punishment involved. Sometimes you must be patient to wait for the horse to try things until he discovers what it is that gets him the click. Sometimes your timing with the click may be off but you should reward anyway, as that is what the signal means to the horse. Through repetition, the horse gets the picture and is usually quite successful at remembering what earned him the reward.
Jump, click, reward
As an example of how well horses retain what they have learned through this methodology, I trained my horse to free jump in a session with Shawna. I didn’t do it with him again until three years later. When I asked him to play ‘the A to Bs’ (sending a horse at liberty back and forth between two people) over a small jump, he was perfect. The beauty of R+ is that it can work with any method of training you have used in the past. You can add it to your skill set as a means to solve a particular behavioral problem or it can become the sole modality you use. Just think about how much better you respond to praise over punishment. With
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Results Your Pet Can Feel… And You Can see!™
R+ training, there is virtually no wrong way to apply positive reinforcement!
In 2018, Shawna will be making Santa Fe her home base, so watch for some positive reinforcement training opportunities coming next year. For updates on these developing plans, sign up for the newsletter at www.terranovatrainingcenter.com. Shawna’s website is www.ontarget-training.com Evalyn Bemis is a lifelong equestrian who continues to learn from every horse she meets. View Evalyn's photography online by searching Evalyn Bemis Photography.
Available: Albuquerque Bob Powell 505.261.8059
Santa Fe/Las Vegas Andrea Pabel-Deane 505.690.8426
Paul’s Vet Supply 505.341.9401 3825 Osuna NE
Taos Nicole Trousdale 303.903.2721
Horsemen’s 505.792.8225 8812 2nd St NW www.pharmaloe.com
www.horsearoundnm.com | Oct/Nov 2017 | HORSE AROUND
The Power of
YOUR ENERGY BY SUSAN SMITH
PHOTO BY ONE DEFINING MOMENT PHOTOGRAPHY
A loose fist or relaxed hand is a friendly, non-threatening way to greet your donkey, horse or mule.
used to be pretty tough in my approach to horses. I was competing and had this attitude that I had to get things done, and the horse better get with the program! In some ways that was very valuable because I was able to achieve my goals. And horses often enjoy doing activities with their humans. But I also realized at a point in my horse journey that my goals were not always considering the horse. My mare Zuzka reminds me of this from time to time, giving me the eye roll and deep sigh that says, “Oh, gosh, there she goes again.” She basically offers me a reminder of my past self and that I’m still learning.
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A new way of interacting
It really all comes down to energy. There is a time to come forward in your energy with a horse and a time to hang back. Think about it from the horse’s perspective – sometimes you come to the horse and he eyes you suspiciously, like, what’s she going to ask of me now? He’s like you are when you have a doctor’s appointment for a procedure and you don’t know what to expect – will it hurt, will it make me better? Or worse, your horse just shuts his eyes down. You know the look: “Oh, she’s going to put the saddle on again.”
How to improve your interaction
Let’s start with our own physical dimensions. We have these dimensions: center, where your belly button is; up/down, forward/back, side/side. At any time during the day in our interactions with other people, we are employing one or more of these dimensions. Usually, if we’re in a position of authority, we are forward. If we get agitated or angry, we might go forward and up. In any given session with our horses, we will be engaging one or more of these dimensions whether we are aware of it or not. For horses, interacting with us when we have our heads in the clouds is not comfortable. Horses aren’t cerebral creatures.
Bring your energy from your head down into your body
Envision your energy up in your head. Then shift it to your belly button down to the ground. Watch your horse’s reaction. Does he walk away or ignore
you when you have your energy in your head? Pay close attention. Generally our energy around a horse is best when it is grounded, from belly button to the earth. Now try exerting forward energy toward the horse, perhaps to disengage the hind end, or ask him to back up. You don’t even have to touch him to do this, just motioning with a hand is often enough. See how effective you are, and also pay attention to whether you have any “up” energy mixed in there. If so, try to bring the up energy down to belly button and below. See if he shows any more interest after you make this change.
Bring energy down and back
Bring your energy into your back. With a very timid horse, this is where your energy should always be. A timid horse cannot tolerate big, forward energy, so you have to lighten up until he becomes bolder. But for now, just bring your energy into your back. This is what your riding instructor may tell you: Bring your energy “back and down.” Down because that’s where the horse is most comfortable. He has four feet on the ground, and he gets a ton of his information from the ground. When you move your energy into your back, your energy moves into your spine and pelvis. See what happens on the ground when you do this and when you’re in the saddle. Watch your horse’s expression.
Side/side energy is really important and is often forgotten while considering all the other dimensions. If you have a horse who sometimes bumps into your shoulders, pulls on you, blows past you or knocks you down, it’s particularly important to think about your side/side energy.
The consciousness you bring to each of these dimensions will help in the way you approach and work with your horse, and in turn, will help how he feels about you. Also, if you and your horse encounter a frightening situation, after the initial rush of adrenalin, you can mentally return to your center and breathe into your back, then drop the energy into your feet. This will help settle your emotions and your horse’s and also deepens your connection.
More energy-directing tips
• Think about nothing except exactly what you’re doing with the horse at that moment and breathe. • Build in pauses and give the horse space. Watch horses interact with each other. They pause thousands of times a day. They graze far apart and close together. Don’t crowd the horse with your needs and plans. • When you greet your horse, offer your lightly closed fist to his nose to sniff. He may blow on your hand, then step away. This indicates a “hello” response which horses do with each other when they touch noses. • Grooming is a great way to check your horse’s coat, and any discomforts he may have, as well as talk to him. The sound of your voice can be a great comfort to your horse! Try different brushes to see what he likes and where he likes contact. Remember, the efficacy of your touch depends on your ability to remain centered and grounded. Watch your horse’s expression and body language for signs of comfort or discomfort. Our biggest challenge as humans with horses is our agenda. With adjustments to our energy, we can shift our focus from that agenda and approach our horses from a more grounded place. It just may help them become more willing partners.
Susan Smith teaches Equine Body Balance and Liberty Foundations workshops in Santa Fe and surrounding areas and around the U.S. She is an associate instructor & advanced practitioner of Ortho-Bionomy™ and Equine Ortho-Bionomy™ and Equine Positional Release (EPR)™ practitioner. In her horse life, Susan has ridden many miles of trails. For more information and schedule of events, visit www.susansmithsantafe.com or contact email@example.com, 505-501-2478. 23 www.horsearoundnm.com | Oct/Nov 2017 | HORSE AROUND
Do a little exercise where you rotate your outstretched arm 10 times on each side, paying attention to the motion. If you notice you don’t pay attention to your sides, do this before you go to the barn, or even at the barn. Then when you approach your horse, place your energy on these sides, out to where your fingers reached.
Getting Fit For
Johnny MacArthur and Feather look down on Serpent Lake. Even the parking lot for this trail is high elevation, 10,400 feet, and requires that your horse is in good shape and acclimatized to mountain 24 HORSE AROUND | Oct/Nov 2017 | www.horsearoundnm.com riding. (PHOTO BY PAM MACARTHUR.)
The Tough Ride
Do you have a high-altitude ride planned this fall or winter? Maybe going hunting, or just want to get a jump on fall colors? New Mexico has plenty of trails that start at elevations of 9,000 feet. Many times you could be riding at heights above 11,00 feet. Getting your horse in shape for this environment is not only the right thing to do, but helps prevent injury and gives you a better chance of a seamless adventure. BY THOMAS GARCIA
Being in shape for a high elevation ride is not only about fitness and heart rate. Your horse needs to be able to safely navigate rocky and possibly exposed, narrow trails. (PHOTO BY PAM MACARTHUR.)
hat kind of feed should I get for my horse to get him pumped up for our elk huntâ€Ś tomorrow?â€? This was an actual question I was asked not too long ago. Whaaaaaaaat!? Getting your horse ready for a higher, tougher ride is not about buying a high-sugar feed the day before you depart! If you are going on a hunt, or your yearly trek from the flatlands to ride the Rocky Mountains, the time to get your horse in shape begins months prior, and starts with physical conditioning.
Race horse trainers have long known the benefits of training at 6,900 feet in Ruidoso, then running at lower elevations. There is no substitute for training your horse at the elevations you will ride. However, if that is not possible, then it is best to condition at your (lower) elevation. A wellconditioned athlete, human or equine, will perform better at all elevations than a poorly-conditioned individual.
After a long layoff, say an injury or a lazy summer vacation in the field, the first thing that must be ascertained is the soundness of the horse. Is the injury sufficiently healed, and is he not overly fat (and happy) from his time off to begin conditioning? If yes, he is ready to start a conditioning program. You will ideally need 90 days is get your horse in condition.
There are special considerations for riding at elevations higher than 7,000 feet. Oxygen and nitrogen levels are significantly less than at sea level or even 5,000 feet. A well-conditioned horse has a heart and lungs that function more efficiently at all levels than an out-ofshape horse and will also acclimatize quicker to the thinner air of higher elevations.
Not just a heart & lung thing
Keep in mind that when you condition your horse, you are not only strengthening the cardiovascular system but bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and hooves as well. In fact, heart, lungs and muscles can be conditioned in a matter of months, while tendons and bones can take years. They need this length of time to build strong foundations that will hold up to strenuous use.
Start slow and build up
There are many programs and methods to reach conditioning goals, but here is a brief outline of a program that will start out slow and easy, then reasonably build up. First a horse must be in sound condition, and of a mature enough age to handle the work. The following program should be implemented a minimum of 3-4 days a week with a day of rest in between: • WEEK 1. 30 minutes at a walk, 5 minutes at a trot • WEEK 2. 30 minutes at a walk, 10 minutes at a trot • WEEK 3. 30 minutes at a walk, 15 minutes at a trot • WEEK 4. 40 minutes at a walk, 15 minutes at a trot • WEEK 5. 40 minutes at a walk, 20 minutes at a trot, 5 minutes at a canter
• WEEK 6. 40 minutes at a walk, 20 minutes at a trot, 10 minutes at a canter • WEEK 7. 50 minutes at a walk, 20 minutes at a trot, 10 minutes at a canter As the horse gets fitter and fitter, this pattern can be continued by increasing the duration of the time spent at all gaits. To make this routine even more effective, ride over different terrains. Going up and down hills puts different demands on muscles, tendons and bone than riding over flat land. Be careful going downhill, as this puts the most stress on tendons, ligaments and joints. Also younger horses often lack the strength and balance to negotiate difficult terrain and juvenile joints can also be the most prone to stress. If you are riding a younger horse. be especially vigilant.
Check his pulse
The single biggest indicator of fitness in a horse is pulse rate. Most horses will have a resting heart rate of around 44 beats per minute. This can increase to 90-140 beats per minute at a working trot and upwards of 200 beats per minute at a full gallop. After stopping, a well-conditioned horse will return to its resting heart rate within 10-15 minutes.
Train for the terrain
Training your horse to ride at high elevations, over logs, streams, and along rocky, narrow trails is another aspect of conditioning for higher elevation rides. A horse that is responsive to cues, moves his hip, shoulder and ribcage on command, paces himself, stops and backs when needed will have an easier time in the mountains. He will also be a much safer ride! Along with conditioning the muscles, cardiovascular system, joints and tendons, sound nutrition plays a part in the overall fitness of the individual horse. For more information on this, read “Feed as Fuel” in the October/November 2016 issue of Horse Around NM. Evaluate the beginning condition of your horse, start slowly and build up speed, distance and time. Monitor your horse’s return to resting heart rate and vary the terrain. Train your horse to confidently navigate the expected terrain. These steps will not only make the ride safer and more pleasant for you, it will help prevent injury to your horse. Most importantly, getting your horse ready for a high-elevation ride shows that you are an informed, conscientious horse owner.
Thomas Garcia holds a BS in animal science from New Mexico State University and owns Spanish Creek Performance Horses and Taos Tack & Pet Supply. He can be reached at 575-737-9798.
Celia Cook rides Fahil on a steep slope at 11,000 feet. Your horse should be able to move off your leg and stay calm on trails like this. (PHOTO BY CECILIA KAYANO.) www.horsearoundnm.com | Oct/Nov 2017 | HORSE AROUND
Barefoot Basics BY RICHARD CANDELARIA
here are many ways people think about keeping a horse barefoot. The opinion is split, to put it mildly, on whether barefoot is the way to go. Barefoot believers think it is natural, healthy and better for the horse. Others insist letting a horse go barefoot is needlessly painful and almost cruel. To dispel some of the myths, let me start at the beginning…
The five hearts of the horse
Horses in their natural state are barefoot. They travel about 20 miles per day, going over various terrain to look for forage and water. This rugged lifestyle produces hooves with thick hoof walls, calluses on the sole, spread-out frogs, and much hoof surface. This tough surface protects the coffin bone, cushions steps, and is virtually painless. It also allows the hoof to flex. There used to be a saying, “The horse has five hearts,” meaning the heart and four hooves are the blood pumping mechanisms of the horse. The hoof flexing circulates the blood around the hooves and up the legs.
The rigid metal prevents the hoof from flexing, especially the heels which flex in and out with each step. The blood circulation action, and the hoof growth and health, is greatly reduced.
The change to barefoot
For decades metal shoes were the standard. When I first started shoeing/trimming 20 years ago, most of my clients had me put shoes on their horses. Now only a small percentage want shoes. Most are going barefoot. Here are considerations that may make you a candidate for going barefoot. • Of course, getting a barefoot trim is less expensive than getting shoes. However, you may need a trim more often, and you may need to buy hoof boots to get your horse used to going barefoot. In the end, the cost is the same. Going barefoot is not a financial decision, but a horse health decision. • Some horses need shoes. When a horse has a conformation or hoof abnormality, it may not be a barefoot candidate. Also the hoof demands on sport horses or cow horses often require shoes. • The vast majority of pleasure/trail horses do not need shoes. If you ride regularly, you can build up the callus. However, if you ride occasionally, and want to just saddle up and go (and not get your horse’s hooves conditioned to go barefoot), shoes are a better option. • Transitioning to barefoot takes time and commitment. You will most likely need to buy a pair of boots. These used to be difficult to put on, with wires and alligator clips, but now Velcro is commonly used as the way of attachment. It used to take several minutes to get those clipped boots on, but now it takes only a few seconds. You will need to put the boots on according to your horse’s sensitivity while traveling over rocks. Once the hoof wall has thickened and the sole is callused, boots will rarely be necessary. • Barefoot trims are sometimes needed in as few as four-week intervals. If you do not ride often, and it is the spring or summer, the hoof grows more. If you are riding often, or it is low-growth months, trims can happen every eight weeks.
When a horse is kept barefoot and ridden frequently, the hoof wall thickens, the frog spreads and the sole becomes callused.
Rough riding origins
Of course, a horse in the wild is not carrying a saddle, gear, and you. Also, it is not being ridden to gather or sort cattle, which requires much quick, lateral movement, over terrain of which the horse might not choose on its own. Back in the day, and even now, people put shoes on their horses to prevent excessive hoof wear. Going 20+ miles to search for cattle over rugged terrain, day after day, can file away the hooves in no time.
• Not every farrier is a certified barefoot trimmer. The way to trim a horse for shoes is vastly different than trimming for barefoot. Not every farrier has gone to farrier school. Professional knowledge of horse hooves and how to care for them is improving every year. Whether shoeing or going barefoot, hire someone who has recently been re-certified.
One last tidbit of barefoot information: Twenty years ago, 75% of my clients where men who shod their horses. Now, 80% are women who go barefoot. The reasons could be that barefoot is catching on, that more women are riding, and that women are interested in what is best for the horse, even if the boots look funny, and they require dismounting/mounting to apply. Whatever the reason, going barefoot is definitely a trend based on horse-health facts, one that deserves serious consideration.
Richard Candelaria is a certified barefoot trimmer who serves the Albuquerque, East Mountains, and Santa Fe areas. Contact him at 505-315-1960. 29 www.horsearoundnm.com | Oct/Nov 2017 | HORSE AROUND
When metal shoes started to be applied, farriers started carving out the sole and much of the frog prior to nailing the shoes on.
BY DOUG THAL, DVM, DABVP
he good news: Poisoning incidents are uncommon in horses. Generally, horses are very selective eaters and somewhat less likely to be poisoned than some other domestic livestock species. But when poisonings do occur, they can be extremely difficult and costly to treat. Some even result in sudden death. Also consider that most any plant or feed can be toxic when fed in excess or when suddenly introduced. Even nutritious grasses can be triggers for laminitis at certain times of the year. Your role as your horse’s caretaker is to be aware of the pertinent toxic hazards for your region and situation, and prevent consumption of them by your horses whenever possible. Some general preventive points to minimize the likelihood of poisoning: Stabled horses • Never feed clippings of any sort to a horse, such as grass, hedge, prunings, etc. • Never make sudden changes in diet of any kind. • Be aware of trees and ornamental plant species around the facility that your horses will be exposed to or near. Many species are toxic, including common species like
Keep Your Horse Safe! Know and avoid these
equine poisoning hazards Black Locust, Russian Olive and Oleander. • Feed hay from a known, consistent source. • Look carefully at the hay you feed. Separate out plants that look different or wrong, for identification if needed. • Examine grain before feeding. If it looks or smells abnormal, throw it away. • When in doubt about any feed, don’t feed it. In pastures • Be able to identify the common poisonous plants in your region and at your facility. Ensure your animals do not consume them. • Identify and correct environment and management factors that may set up a poisoning scenario. • When in doubt, always keep horses fed with quality hay. • Watch water sources carefully. Always provide clean, fresh water.
Plants to be aware of, in pastures and on trail rides
These plants are common in our region, and can be toxic. This is my opinion and it is arbitrary. This list is incomplete: There are dozens more to consider, just in this area! (Listed in order of danger.) Loco Weeds and Vetches Black Locust Cocklebur Poison Hemlock Milk Weeds Bind Weed Horsetail Groundsel
Gambel Oak Bracken Fern Death Camas Russian Olive Water Hemlock Jimson Weed Larkspurs Skunk Cabbage Sleepy Grass
Yellow Sweet Clover Tansy Mustard Lupine Broom Snakeweed Chokecherry Pig Weed Kochia
Additional poisoning hazards, in/around the stabling area
While traveling, trail riding & horse camping • Don’t let your horse graze near any plant you don’t know. • Especially, do not leave horses tied within reach of potentially toxic plants. • Don’t let your horse gorge on new grass. • Choose water sources carefully.
Doug Thal, DVM DABVP, operates Thal Equine LLC, a full service horse hospital located near Santa Fe. He is the author of Horse Side Vet Guide, horsesidevetguide.com. Contact Dr. Thal at 505-438-6590.
MASSAGE MAY BE JUST WHAT YOUR HORSE NEEDS BY SUSAN ROBERTS, LMT
Compared to human massage, a lighter touch is needed when massaging a horse. They prefer light, rhythmic pressure.
etting a massage for your horse used to be an extravagance, but more and more horse owners are seeing the benefits. Horses are no longer a tool that we take out of the barn, use, then put away. We not only want to take good care of our horses and prevent injury, we want them to feel comfortable, to feel good. Plus, massage is a way for horses to more closely connect with humans, and through this connection, be more responsive when we are handing or riding them. Potential horse-massage clients often ask, “Why should I get a massage for my horse, when I don’t even get a massage for myself ?” I used to be that person. I was always a little tense and in search of some relief or distraction. I would go out to the barn, throw a saddle on my horse and go. There was no, “How are you doing today? Let’s flex. Let me touch your pressure points to help you relax.” In retrospect, my horse’s tightness reflected my tightness. How I felt in my body was probably how my horse felt in his.
• Horse massage is different than human massage. Horse’s muscles are bigger and denser, yet they are much more sensitive to touch than humans. Instead of “deep tissue” massage (the preference of many people) horses like lightness. They prefer a medium to light pressure. I also massage people. When I do, I lean into the problematic area with my fingertips, thumb, palm or my entire arm. With a horse, I use light pressure, one that is not aggressive, but rhythmic.
Over time, I stopped riding in this rushed, self-focused way. I started thinking about what my horse needed. I became a horse massage therapist. This is what I learned: • Massage helps the muscles be suppler. It helps the tendons and ligaments to be able to stretch to longer lengths. It helps the lymph nodes release their hormones. It helps the horse relax and have its entire body function more efficiently.
• To be effective when massaging a horse, you need to check your intent, your spirit. You have to be in the moment, and listening to the slightest signals from the horse, a blinking eye, a slight drop of the head, a flick of an ear. If I am not present, and thinking instead about the next horse, or bills, or my stack of emails, the horse will tell me that I am not with him. He may turn his head away, walk away, or even nip at me. You have to connect
with the horse, just as an effective human massage therapist must be present and connect with the human client. Both human and horse need to somehow sense the integrity of your spirit. Of course, most of us know that massage will help a horse to recover or prevent injury. But the benefits are so much greater. It develops a connection. Imagine your horse looking at you or the horse massage therapist, and thinking, “Come closer and touch me. You make me feel better. ” This connection and good feeling is a great gift we can give our equine friends.
Susan Roberts studied horse massage at the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage, Elizabeth, CO and is a licensed massage therapist by the Universal Therapeutic Massage Institute, Albuquerque. She owns Life and Vitality Massage and practices in Edgewood. She can be reached at 505-688-2605.
www.horsearoundnm.com | Oct/Nov 2017 | HORSE AROUND
Beyond Bute and Rest: Alternative
BY SUE MURPHY
When I was 12, a bad buckoff landed me on the back of my neck, legs over my head, and I did not roll. After the initial injuries subsided, the lingering issues were back-related. When a visit to the family physician yielded no solution, my mother decided we should try a chiropractor. After four years of chiropractic work, my back stopped aching completely and I was sound as a dollar with a perfectly straight, strong spine. Fast forward 55+ years. Horses were back in my life. Our retired show-geldingturned-trail-horse had a lot of show miles put on him, and needed regular joint meds. Furthermore, his back was a chronic problem that stemmed in part from a poorly-fitted saddle. And there were bigger issues in his legs affecting his spine and neck. Our vet, Mark Meddleton, suggested chiropractic treatments. With my long-past success with chiro, I was only too happy to see what he could do for our gelding, and asked him to check out our mare at the same time. Both benefited immediately from treatment, with reduced discomfort, and clearly improved back, neck and shoulder movement. You may be thinking this is outside the box. After all, it was decades before the human medical profession acknowledged, if not endorsed, the value of chiropractic work. Veterinary medicine was a little faster to see the benefits.
Why it works
Chiropractic science focuses on the alignment of the spine (vertebrae). Alignment of the spine is essential for the proper functioning of the entire body. People often say, “No feet, no horse.” I think you could add, “Bad back, no horse,” to that saying. “Athletic horses, like human athletes, put a lot of stress and strains on their bodies
and will be more likely to have spinal misalignments,” Dr. Meddleton says. “You need your horse to give his best performance, whether he does dressage, hunter/jumper, western performance, barrel racing, eventing, racing or any working horse. Chiropractic adjustments can help assure your horse is performing at an optimal biomechanical advantage, and in comfort. I’ve seen barrel racers cut their time after each adjustment.” Chiropractic therapy can resolve conditions such as a subtle lameness or abnormal gait, asymmetrical sweating, immune disorders and behavioral problems. Nerves supply every organ in the body, every muscle, and every tissue, originating from the spinal cord passing between vertebrae. A misalignment (or subluxation) between two vertebrae can cause irritation to the surrounding tissues. The nerves then must pass through these inflamed tissues, which can disrupt their signals.
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Chiropractic adjustments realign vertebrae, thus eliminating the underlying cause of a problem. The goal is not to merely eliminate disease, but to facilitate optimal physical and mental well-being. “Chiropractic care is one of the best tools to help horses with performance problems, especially subtle problems that are difficult to pinpoint,” Dr. Meddleton says.
Adding massage therapy
After a few months of treatment, Dr. Meddleton suggested we also try massage therapy for the horses. This I had no experience with, but thought it was worth a try. Chiropractic care can release tight, stuck vertebrae, but if the muscle tension remains due to muscle memory, then the adjustment may not last. Dr. Meddleton suggested I contact Ed Lamb, certified massage therapist, who has practiced human and equine massage since the 1980s, studying under among others, equine massage pioneer Jack Meagher, author of Beating Muscle Injuries for Horses.
Therapies for Your Painful Horse Ed says, “It’s a pleasure to work with horses because there are few things in the world as satisfying as seeing a pained look in a horse’s eye change to a soft, peaceful eye. So many horses under perform because of some tight tissue that is stuck together limiting full range of motion.” Massage is a preventative modality. It can keep your horse perform comfortably and reduce the need for drugs and hopefully, surgery. Finding and resolving trigger points and muscle knots comes by touch, and has the same valuable results for a horse as a trained sports therapist or an acupuncturist can have on a human. Our gelding recently developed a raised tendon above his left front knee and within weeks, he was sore on his right hind in a spot that had previously never shown signs of discomfort. When Ed touched this spot, the horse's entire rump tightened and caved from pain. Ed says this was the reaction to compensate for the front leg injury. Chiropractic adjustments align the entire spine, which helps the horse's entire body work properly.
All muscles, in human and equine, react to bumps and traumas by constricting in defense. An acupuncturist once told me that muscles frequently forget to
HORSE SERVICES DIRECTORY
release after the trauma and the knot tightens or layers of muscles fold over onto themselves and stay stuck. That will cause lingering pain and stiffness and horses will compensate for this in their movement just as humans do. That is, unless someone knows where to press to release those knots. This is what the massage therapist is searching for – knots and spasms that need to be released. For a horse, roughly 60% of body weight is soft tissue. Even more challenging, muscle spasms do not show up on film the way bone injuries or shifts do. The experienced hands of an equine massage therapist can palpate and release the trigger points in muscles. If you feel you have become trapped in a routine of drugs to keep your equine partner happy, perhaps its time to consider alternative therapies. As Dr. Meddleton says, “There is so much more available to the horse owner these days than just bute and rest.” Sue Murphy has been riding since age 2. Horses were out of her life from age 30 to 60 while she worked on Wall Street in New York City. She says, "Moving to Santa Fe proved the ideal time to get back on the horse!"
Listed here are horse-related services provided by the October / November 2017 issue advertisers. They are experts in their fields. Many of the business owners are also horse owners and enthusiasts. They are the reason Horse Around New Mexico magazine exists and why the magazine is growing. If you enjoy this free publication, please show your support by supporting our advertisers. ART Sugar Moon Studios, page 12
NATURAL PRODUCTS Pharm-Aloe, page 21
BARNS/BUILDINGS Ironhorse Pipe & Steel, page 8 Morton Buildings, page 7
MASSAGE Life and Vitality, LLC, page 5 Medicine Massage, page 7
BOARDING 4 Winds Equestrian Center, page 13 EVENTS Eventing X Games Series, Goose Downs Farms, page 2 Cowboy Gala, Benefiting Charlie Five, page 39 GUEST RANCHES Starrynight Ranch, page 11
REAL ESTATE 10-Acre Horse Property for Sale, page 5 1-Acre Horse Property for Sale, page 13 Rōni Merbler, page 10 RESCUE/ADOPTION Adopt a Barn Cat, page 13 Four Corners Equine Rescue, page 11 Mustang Camp, page 17
SADDLES Mortenson Silver & Saddles, page 7
Lynn Clifford, The Ride of Your Life, page 9 Susan Smith, page 12
SPECIALTY SERVICES Albuquerque Pet Memorial Service, page 17
VEHICLE/TRAILERS American Diesel Service, page 13 Hal Burns Truck & Equipment, page 11 Sandia Trailer Sales and Service, page 40
TACK AND FEED STORES Horsemen’s, page 6 Miller’s Feed, page 9 Paul’s Veterinary Supply, page 6 Taos Tack and Pet Supply, page 8 Village Mercantile, page 5 TRAINING Ginger Gaffney, page 6 Goose Downs Farms, page 2 Katrin Silva, page 8
VETERINARIAN Santa Sophia Equine, page 12 Western Trails, page 9 WESTERN WEAR & MORE Dan’s Boots & Saddles, page 10
SEEING IS HEALING
34 HORSE AROUND | Oct/Nov 2017 | www.horsearoundnm.com
This is a 2-year old colt owned by Leigh Ann Hella. His posing in a field allowed for a very spontaneous photograph.
How Just the Sight of Horses Helps Us Heal Article by Lynne J. McCarthy with Cecilia Kayano, photos by Lynne J. McCarthy
ou don’t have to be a horseback rider to have your spirit uplifted by horses. As a horse photographer, I have come to know that just stopping and seeing horses can bring us joy, and possibly heal us. But how can we experience the healing power of the horse visual and why does this heal us? It is hard to put into words, but the next time you stop everything to watch a horse as it trots along a fence line, or grooms its partner in a field, consider the healing powers of our planet’s most beautiful creature.
Horses help us be in the moment bliss. The horse will help you receive a When we really see a horse, and observe its movement and beauty, we are in the moment. Beauty simply is. It is now. When you really see a horse, you are entering a kind of flow, experiencing and exchanging magic, grace and mystery. The next time you observe, be aware that you are quiet and still. Know that the horse is also keenly aware of you, and, in that precise moment, the two of you are connecting.
kind of grace and heal your heart.
Horses teach us respect
Horses make us old
Remember the last time you dropped everything to watch a horse gallop? The sight sweeps you off your feet. It’s like the horse is putting on a show just for us! Human and horse harmonize, as we, too, somehow experience the joy of running, tossing manes, holding tail to sky. For those galloping moments, as you recognize the beauty and divine presence that radiates from the horse, imagine it radiating from you as well. The next time you see a horse at a brisk trot or gallop, feel the gift it is giving you. It is teaching how to respect and honor magnificent beings, the horse and ourself.
Horses help us heal
When we are connected to the horse through the stunning visual, we come to know the power and capacity of the horse to heal. Be aware that, when in the moment of watching, we are not only absorbing the physicality of the horse, but its soulfulness as well. Horses are divine creatures in that they have no hidden agendas. They hold no bitterness or vindictiveness. Through our interactions with horses, we can let go of what ails our spirits. The next time you see a horse, check your intention and attitude and make an effort to open your heart to inspiration and healing. Watch that glorious creature, put your attention on a state of forgiveness, acceptance and
Horses make us young
It is impossible to worry about taxes or the economy while you are in the magical state of horse viewing. The sight makes us ten years old again as we are delighted and awed. View a horse and feel the fun! Be your pre-puberty self, have a crush, fall in love!
If we pay deep attention, we become old, wise souls with the help of the horse visual. It’s difficult to witness the power, playfulness, intelligence, sensitivity and
sensuality of the horse without coming to know magic and the Creator. It’s like there are three beings present: the horse, you, and something grand and unexplainable. A horse stopped still along a fence with ears pricked forward, is like a gift from the universe. We become wise as we accept this gift, for it is more than just the sight of a horse in a field. In undefinable ways, we drop our defenses, bitternesses and fears, as we come to know the value of vulnerability, openness, and courage. Lynne McCarthy is a photographer, author and horse lover who lives in Santa Fe. She holds a Masters Degree in Human Kinetics from the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips to horse photography or just plain viewing • Become like a relaxed horse, not a predator. Don’t make eye contact with the horse – look to the side of the horse. Approach slowly, but with cadenced steps and at an angle to the horse’s shoulder. If the horse makes a movement as if he wants to walk away, gently stop moving, cock a hip, relax your shoulders. The cocked hip mirrors what horses do when they are relaxed. The horse should stop, turn its head slightly towards you. Then you can continue your approach. • When you get to the place you want to photograph/view, stop, relax, and breathe deep. Don’t make eye contact with the horse, and don’t attempt to touch his head. Just stand there, so relaxed, and allow him to put on a show for you, be it a simple flick of his tail or an arch of his neck. Know that the horse became aware of your approach long ago. He knew you were headed his way, and by not leaving the premise, is giving you approval to remain. These two horses were resting in the front of Mary's Bar in Cerrillos. I found them so beautiful and inquisitive, as the photo shows.
• Be aware that a connection is developing between you and the horse. Take a half step towards him. Most likely the horse will move slightly in response to your movement, thus solidifying the connection. Stop and step back to let the horse relax. • You will know when it is time to click the shutter of your camera or your mind’s eye. You will also know when the horse is finished with the photography/viewing session. He will simple walk or trot away, ending the interaction, but leaving you with the visual and memory of that exquisite moment.
Pigeon Fever is increasing throughout Texas and the Rocky Mountain regions, which includes New Mexico. All horses are at risk.
WHAT TO DO IF PIGEON FEVER STRIKES
BY STACIE G. BOSWELL, DVM, DACVS
ecause Pigeon Fever is spread by flies and contact, any horse that is not confined in a plastic bubble could contract this disease. But there are ways to treat it and, better yet, reduce the chances of getting and spreading Pigeon Fever...
It’s Pigeon Fever season! Also known as Dryland Distemper, False Strangles, and sometimes locally as Pigeon Breast, this highly-contagious disease has a peak incidence during the hot, dry end of summer and the fall months.
The incubation period is three to four weeks. The bacteria can survive in the soil for up to eight months. Because of this prolonged survival and long incubation period, how an individual horse was exposed often remains a medical mystery.
Pigeon Fever is always a concern in New Mexico. Researchers recently confirmed that there has been an increasing incidence of cases in the past ten years, particularly in Texas and throughout the Rocky Mountain regions.
Signs of infection
Spread by flies or contact
Pigeon Fever is caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. The bacteria invade the skin through a disruption such as a fly bite, a small cut, or abrasion. The original skin wound is so small that it goes unnoticed. Another way a horse can pick up the bacteria is by direct contact with pus from an infected horse, off shared tack, grooming materials, or even a handler’s clothing or hands. Pigeon Fever is said to be highly contagious; however, some horses seem to develop immunity to it.
At the site of bacterial entry, swelling will eventually occur. The abscess is often on the front of the pectoral muscles, at the base of the neck, or on the belly. Abscesses can also occur on the head or near the sheath or udder. If the abscess is near or on a leg, lameness may occur. Over time, the infected tissue swells, and the abscess may rupture spontaneously. More than one abscess is often present. There may be generalized swelling of the tissue surrounding the abscess. As the abscess progresses, the horse will experience much pain until the abscess ruptures or is drained.
Uncommonly, bacteria enter the horse’s body and cause internal abscesses. These are difficult to identify and treat, and occur in about 2-8% of known cases. Horses with internal abscessation 36 HORSE AROUND | Oct/Nov 2017 | www.horsearoundnm.com
may have no known external abscesses. These horses may have chronic colic, weight loss, or lameness. Finally, the bacteria may enter the body and infect the lymph portion of the circulatory system. Horses with this problem experience extreme limb swelling and draining tracts.
Calling your veterinarian to treat Pigeon Fever is always warranted. The abscess should be identified by the vet. Then it is clipped, cleaned, and a local anesthetic is instilled. The abscess will be lanced, drained, and then flushed with an antiseptic. Bacterial testing is important for confirming which bacteria are present and choosing an effective antibiotic. Antibiotics are not always necessary for external abscesses. However horses with limb swelling or internal abscesses should be treated with appropriate antibiotics for an extended period of time – at a minimum, one month. Because of the pain and swelling, a non-steroidal antiinflammatory drug will be administered to help the horse feel better. Finally, one of the most important parts of treatment: daily cleansing and flushing of the abscess site. The tissue must heal from the inside out. It will seem slow at first, but will rapidly progress after about two weeks as the infection is cleared. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions on how to flush and clean the wound. Isolate the buckets and other materials you use to clean the wound so other horses are not in contact with them. Use bleach to disinfect anything you use for the job. Cleaning the wound can be messy, so beware of picking up any pus on your clothes, hands, arms, or even shoes. Wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after working with an infected horse. Change your clothing before you work with other horses.
Fly control is critical to controlling the bacterial spread, but even meticulously kept horses can fall victim to this disease. It also helps to keep pens clean, and to minimize objects that can cut or puncture skin, such as barbed wire. If a horse on your property comes down with Pigeon Fever, it’s very important to take biosecurity seriously. Measures that help include: -
Sanitize pen or stall with bleach or other disinfectant to the best extent possible.
Discard or bleach contaminated grooming supplies or brushes that were used on the infected horse.
Keep the flies off the draining abscess and away from infected tissue.
Wear gloves while working with the horse, and immediately wash hands afterwards.
Keep healthy horses away from affected horses.
Once the draining pus ceases, and the tissue is healing, biosecurity can be relaxed.
With good reason, horse owners can worry that their horses may contact Pigeon Fever. If your horse is diagnosed with Pigeon Fever, be responsible and let potential visitors and nearby horse owners know you have an infected horse. Keep your horse isolated on your property until he or she thoroughly heals. Follow the protocols, control flies, and take heart: while unsightly, messy, and painful for your horse, nearly all horses heal well and have no long-lasting effects.
Stacie G. Boswell, DVM, DACVS is a board-certified large animal surgeon who writes for Horse Around New Mexico and other educational outlets to improve the lives of horses. She can be reached at email@example.com. She is now based in Ruidoso, NM at Franklin Veterinary Clinic.
PHOTOS FROM LEFT: A horse with Pigeon Fever showing the typical swelling at an abscess site at the base of the neck; A horse with chronic limb swelling (of several years’ duration) after damage to the lymphatic system; A horse with Pigeon Fever showing pus being drained from a mature abscess. The volume of pus can be surprisingly large! (PHOTOS BY STACIE G. BOSWELL.)
Try This Trail: The Winsor Trail Above Santa Fe BY MARIE ANTHONY
The visual of riding your horse through golden aspen groves is beckoning. In New Mexico, the aspens start turning gold sometime in early October, starting at higher elevations, and working their blanket of color downward. To plan your ride for the height of fall color, do like the locals do, and keep an eye on the slopes below Santa Fe Baldy, the mountain above the Ski Santa Fe basin. When there are bright patches of gold everywhere, it's time to saddle up. The best time to go is in the morning and preferably not on a weekend. The winding road up to the basin gets crowded with traffic, hikers and visitors who want to experience the fall color. It's 15 miles from Santa Fe to the ski basin parking lot, so have patience, and take the corners slowly. You can park in the northern ski basin parking lot, as the Winsor Trail #254 leaves from the northwest corner of the lot. Be careful where you park, because you could get blocked in if the lot gets filled. To ride this trail with safety it is best to be on a horse that is used to some commotion - hikers, children, and even runners - athletes on ski teams getting in shape.
Liana Caloairo rides Booker T through an aspen grove on the Winsor Trail above Santa Fe. The trail does a few switchbacks, and becomes rocky before it levels out a bit and enters the Pecos Wilderness after one mile. Here the aspens increase. The stunning blankets of leaves and bright colors higher up make the miles of curvy road worth it. When I rode there with four others, our goal was to be enveloped by color, and not so much about mileage. We found a wide spot with a view of Santa Fe Baldy,
38 HORSE AROUND | Oct/Nov 2017 | www.horsearoundnm.com
and had a leisurely lunch. We were about three miles in, and the crowds of sightseers had diminished. We continued up about a half of mile, until we reached a wide meadow. After this, the trail crests a saddle and drops down ending at the village of Cowles. We did not ride this far, as the trail is steep and rocky and we had achieved our goal to experience this so New Mexico change of seasons.
EVENTS: Oct - Nov
1 & 29 Eventing X-Games Series MKRatGDF@aol.com Goose Downs Farm Galisteo....See ad page 2
14-15 Fall Series Barrel Racing Rockin Horse Ranch www.rockinhorseranch.net Moriarty
28 Costume Show ~ Casual Desert Sun Equestrians Facebook Portales
October 21 Fall Color Ride Corrales Horse & Mule People www.champ-nm.com Corrales
1 Western Show Carlsbad Horsemans Assoc. Facebook Carlsbad
14-15 7th Annual Run for Life Cancer Fundraiser Southwest Barrel Racers www.swbranm1.org Farmington
28-29 Southwest Barrel Racers www.swbranm1.org Farmington
October 22-23 Riding Clinic ~ Bill McMullen NM Dressage Assoc. www.nmdressage.net Cool Country Farm Algodones
1 Chile Roast Show ~ All Breed Arabian Horse Assoc. of NM http://www.nmarabs.org Albuquerque 6-8 Fall Festival Show NM Hunter Jumper Assoc. www.nmhja.org Albuquerque 7-8 Hunter/Jumper Horse Trials Las Cruces Horseman’s Assoc. www.lchanm.us Las Cruces 13 Dressage Schooling Show NM Dressage Assoc. www.nmdressage.net Cherry Tree Farms Albuquerque 14 Show Lea County Horsemans Assoc. Facebook Lovington 14-15 Harvest Fling Dressage Show NM Dressage Society www.nmdressage.net HIPICO Santa Fe
14-15 Gymkhana Las Cruces Horseman’s Assoc. www.lchanm.us Las Cruces 14-15 Barefoot in NM Endurance Ride AERC Sanctioned www.barefootinnewmexico2017. weebly.com Alamogordo 21 Ride-ReRide Show NM Dressage Assoc. www.nmdressage.net Sandia Vista Park Arena Albuquerque 22 Ranch Roundup NM Buckskin Horse Assoc. www.nmbha.com Bosque Farms 22 Enchantment Driving Society Show Facebook Albuquerque 22 Hunter/Jumper Show Las Cruces Horseman’s Assoc. www.lchanm.us Las Cruces
29 Halloween Bash Fun Show & Extreme Trail Rio Grande Mule Donkey Assoc. www.rgmda.com Edgewood
~NOVEMBER~ 4 Hunter/Jumper Show Las Cruces Horseman’s Assoc. www.lchanm.us Las Cruces
October 27-29 Freestyle Workshop Cynthia Collins of Luna Tunes NM Dressage Assoc. www.nmdressage.net Hipico Santa Fe October 28 Pilares Arches Trail Ride Four Corners Equine Rescue
Aztec....See ad page 11 8
10-12 Fall Series Barrel Racing Finale Rockin Horse Ranch www.rockinhorseranch.net Moriarty
October 28-29 Navigating Equine Body Points with Susan Smith www.susansmithsantafe.com Santa Fe....See ad page 12
12 Southwest Barrel Racers www.swbranm1.org Farmington
November 4 De-Spooking Clinic Corrales Horse & Mule People www.champ-nm.com Corrales
~HORSE ✽ RIDER~ October 15 Ridge Riders Trail Ride nnmha.weebly.com Valles Caldera National Preserve Oct. 19 & 22 ~ Nov. 2 & 9 Evening Meditation & The Herd www.LynnClifford.com Arrowhead Ranch Santa Fe....See ad page 9
November 11 Cowboy Gala for Charlie Five www.charliefive.org Albuquerque....See ad page 39 November 11 Ridge Riders Trail Ride nnmha.weebly.com Galisteo Basin Preserve November 26 Trail Ride Rio Grande Mule Donkey Assoc. www.rgmda.com El Cerro Open Space
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40 HORSE AROUND | Oct/Nov 2017 | www.horsearoundnm.com Check out our inventory of over
Tips on how to have a healthier horse, from nutrition, to fitness, to taking care of his emotions. Plus a fall weather riding destination id...
Published on Oct 1, 2017
Tips on how to have a healthier horse, from nutrition, to fitness, to taking care of his emotions. Plus a fall weather riding destination id...