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August 2011

The UK’s No.1 Equine Health, Management and Training Magazine

Exercises for management of horses on box rest New treatment for sandcracks Seeking submission: from the mind of the horse

The golden rules of feeding

Requirements of a “life time” saddle



prizes worth over £350 from GWF Nutrition and Snuggy Hoods Lame foals

Healthcare - News

Parelli Game of Contact Course A Huge Success

Contents ENGLAND & WALES Healthcare

1, 2, 8,

14 – 33,

52, 56



Global Herbs Giveaway 2 Tack & Turnout

2, 6,

43 - 48, 50


2, 42


3, 52




6, 8, 9 – 19

Feeding Rules


Three days of learning, fun and thought-provoking discussion were on the agenda at an enlightening Game of Contact course hosted by Linda Parelli on a summer visit to the UK. After intensive dressage training, with world renowned dressage instructor Walter Zettl over the last three years, Linda has decoded the secret of getting horses to willingly accept bit contact. Linda’s skills and in depth knowledge were brought to life in front of more than 150 students, instructors and spectators at the UK Parelli base at Stoneleigh Park. Said Linda: “I call it the Game of Contact because it’s about the psychology of getting your horse to want to engage mentally, emotionally and physically, causing it to be their idea rather than

something forced on them.” Throughout the three days Linda’s sessions consisted of a mix of classroom based theory, simulations and working with course students and their horses during practical demonstrations. The Game of Contact naturally solves several riding issues such as horses behind the bit, not coming through and over the back, inactive hind leg, horses afraid of bit, inverting and hollowing out, choppy strides, tongue displacement issues and not wanting to go forward. “Contact is all about the trust and feel from the horse’s point of view and basically holding hands,” explained Linda. “It is way more than just about the bit and problems can easily be disguised with

bitting and nosebands. We can all have opinions but the horse will tell you what is right and wrong.” Talking about the responsibility of the rider Linda added: “It is important that rider’s do in their body what they want the horse to do in their body. It is the riders seat and energy that does the communicating, when a rider engages their seat, this engages the horse’s hind quarters.” Fifty percent of the proceeds from the Game of Contact course have been donated to the Parelli Horsemanship Fund, helping to create a better world for horses and humans. For further information contact the Parelli UK team on 0800 0234 813, visit or join in the fun at

GWF Nutrition/

Front Cover: Pam Scott - 07954 206 777 -

Snuggy Hoods Competition 7 Pilates




Lame Foals


MRI Scanning



29 & 33




31 - 36,

50, 52,

54, 56

Sand Cracks


Available on the 1st of the month Equi-Ads is published monthly by:

Book Review


Equi-Ads Limited

Training Youngsters



35 – 39, 49

Office 1, Tay View Estate, Friarton Road, Perth PH2 8DG To advertise, please call

Horse Behaviour


Field & Stable

40 - 42,

52, 56

Horses for Sale


Saddle Fitting

43 - 50



Linda with course students, spectators and instructors.

Copy Deadline

10th of the preceding month

01738 567700 Fax: 01738 567776 Please send editorial to: Office 1, Tay View Estate, Friarton Road, Perth PH2 8DG Fax: 01738 567776 Email:

Vetroflex® - For superior Joint Health Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and provides the structural matrix for joints, bones, ligaments and connective tissue and therefore an essential component of joint care, health and mobility. Vetroflex® is scientifically formulated to create the optimum blend of amino acids to mimic cartilage structural components and stimulate collagen production by chondrocytes embedded in the extracellular matrix. Vetroflex® works by regenerating and protecting cartilage and synovial fluid

against deterioration whilst stimulating the cartilage cells to produce more collagen and proteoglycans. Vetroflex® has the same amino acid composition as collagen and supplies the amino acids such as glycine and proline. These are of particular importance for the synthesis of collagen, it also maintains healthy hooves and coat condition. Buy from your local equine retailer today or for more information visit with free nationwide delivery. New customer and retailer support line 0845 365 0050

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 1

Global Herbs Giveaway - Healthcare - Tack & Turnout - Transport

I’ve just bought an ex race horse. Is there a bit which best suits this type of horse? This months article features a popular question from the advice line. This is one of my favourite questions as I have two ex-racers myself. I’ve had Woody for six years and Star for only four weeks. One of the main issues people tell me about when starting to retrain is often a high head carriage and reluctance to stretch the neck forwards. For Woody there have been two bits I used as part of his retraining which have proved invaluable, both from the Neue Schule range. The first one is the Team Up which helped him relax his neck and learn to stretch forwards and down. This is still in use as his flatwork bit. The second one is the Tranz Universal. He can be quite strong in company so this

gives me the control I need but still has a mild mouthpiece – this is important as he is quite sensitive and doesn’t need a strong mouthpiece but I do need the extra control offered by the cheek. It is important to remember that the bit is only part of the overall equipment for training the horse and shouldn’t just be seen as a “quick fix”. In my opinion no bit can ever replace thorough methodical training but a good choice of bit is an integral part of good training. For more information telephone Gail on 07789587302 or visit

10 TUBS OF POLLENEX 500G TO WIN PolleneX is the perfect natural support for horses living near fields of flowering crops. It is a traditional formula that has been used extensively over the last 20 years in the UK. Even horses living a distance from difficult fields may experience problems throughout the flowering season. Horses so often find themselves in fields with high pollen counts that they cannot escape from and very stressful situations can arise. PolleneX is an easy-touse concentrated formula containing tropical plants such as Malabar Nut that all naturally helps soothe the inner working of your horse’s breathing apparatus. It works almost instantly

and so can be stopped and started as necessary although many people like to use it continuously. If necessary, it can be combined with other Global Herbs products such as Alphabute and MagCalm for extra support. The product is available in powder or syrup form. The syrup version is weaker but also very palatable.

RRP £29.70 500g / 1L £20.90 For more information see: 01243 773363

QUESTION. On Global Herbs website what signs of distress is PolleneX best used for ? To enter – send your answer, along with your full name, postal address and day time telephone number to or to Global Herbs Competition, Equi-Ads Office 1 Tayview Industrial Estate, Friarton Road, Perth PH2 8DG. Enteries clost 31st August 2011.

Fizzy Horses Most people like to ride a bright alert horse that provides an enjoyable ride. Fizziness can however spoil the fun. The ‘grounding’ herbs in SuperCalm maybe your answer. Fizzy horses are just a little uptight about everything. Of course some people are like this too, taking on a 100 things at the same time. They often just need the right environment around them to get some ‘grounding’. With horses things can be a little more difficult and sometimes nothing makes the difference that you need. SUPERCALM is a general calming formula that, more often than not, makes a huge difference. The formula is based on Withania Somnifera which could be looked on as ‘grounding herbs’. It helps 2 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

animals and people adapt to potentially stressful situations and take a more constructive outlook on life. Combine this plant with a very special form of magnesium and supportive herbs and your problems may be over. SuperCalm is available in 1kg tubs which last around 30 days for an average horse. It is also available in sachet form with an instant action which will work around 2 hours after being fed. Sachets can also be dissolved in water and squirted into the mouth. For more details about SuperCalm call Global Herbs on 01243 773363 or look at

Competition - News

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 3

Events (Your Horse Live) - Photography

Enjoy a VIP Experience at Your Horse Live

TAKE advantage of this year’s exciting new VIP ticket and receive star treatment all day at Your Horse Live, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, which takes place on November 12 and 13. The limited edition tickets provide a packed full VIP experience. Getting you straight in on the action and onsite parking, opposite the main entrance, the VIP tickets also include a day of special treats. On arrival you will be greeted with a glass of fizz and refreshments will be available throughout the day. VIP access into the exclusive private lounge, where celebrities will pop in to say hello, so have your questions ready for Laura Bechtolsheimer, Oliver Townend and many more. There will be no queuing for you either. The fast track will ensure you never miss a demonstration where you’re guaranteed a seat for every show in the main arena allowing you to watch demonstrations by stunt team Rockin’ Horse and show

4 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

jumper Geoff Billington - just two of the show’s stars. After a day you will never forget, you’ll also be able to take home a goody bag filled with horsey treats, offers as well as the most current Your Horse magazine to read when you get home. VIP tickets are limited so book your tickets today and take advantage of this incredible experience or save £££’s by booking standard tickets in advance. Advance bookings hotline closes on Thursday 10th November 2011 at midday. To book your tickets in advance and save money visit www. or call 0844 581 0770 and quote EQ-TSM.

Insert Category

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 5

Feeding - Tack & Turnout

Say goodbye to the fly...with the New Equilibra® 500 + Omega 3 – the Snuggy Bug Body and Sweet Itch Head ONLY feed balancer you will ever need. The new Snuggy Bug Body® offers innovative protection against flies. It is a headless option – for those who don’t want head coverage on their horse. The Snuggy Bug Body comes as a two piece neck and rug combo. The rug – with built in belly band, tail wrap and flap is fitted first. The neck then slips over the horse’s head and is secured to the top of the rug with Velcro. The neck, which is elasticated at the top, is made with plenty of movement to ensure it stays put. The Snuggy Bug Body can be worn with the Snuggy Hoods Sweet Itch Head.

This has been created to help keep biting insects and midges away from your horse’s face whilst in the field this summer. The Sweet Itch Head offers excellent fit whilst being comfortable and durable.

GWF Nutrition, the company who introduced the feed balancer concept in the late 80’s has launched Equilibra 500 + Omega 3, replacing Equilibra 500.

For further information visit www. or email sales@ or call 01225 783399.

New Equilibra 500 + Omega 3 is the only feed balancer GWF Nutrition manufacture; all equines digest their feed in the same way and if the formulation is right, one feed balancer is all that’s required. Equilibra 500 + Omega 3 is designed to provide optimum vitamin and mineral content, whilst complementing the feeding of forages, chaffs, hard feeds and now, crucially, oils and fats. Equilibra 500 + Omega 3 feed balancer has all the key benefits of the old product, with the extra advantage of highly beneficial Omega 3 to further support optimum health, fertility and performance. It is also a new Non-GM soya free formulation.

6 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

For more information, please contact your local stockist or GWF Nutrition: / 01225 708482.

Healthcare - News

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 7

Feeding - Healthcare

Last Chance To Win A Trailer Filled With HorseHage! The exciting competition to win an Ifor Williams HB506 Horsebox filled with HorseHage is drawing to a close, so if you haven’t entered yet, don’t delay!

• There are three ways you can enter: • By filling in an entry form on the HorseHage tradestand at the Burghley Horse Trials at the

beginning of September. By picking up an entry form from your local HorseHage/Mollichaff stockist. Online at (where full Terms and Conditions can also be found) The competition closes at midnight on 30th September 2011.

With forage prices expected to be at a premium again this winter, HorseHage offers a healthy alternative to hay or haylage, so why not stock up early? HorseHage can be stored outside on a pallet and the packaging is doubleskinned to avoid punctures. You can feed HorseHage with confidence, knowing it is dust-free and contains no chemical additives, preservatives

or inoculants. Each bale is highly compressed into a size that is easy to handle but holds a lot more than you think! So you can store it more easily, as well as fitting more bales into your car boot or trailer. By feeding from a HorseHage Net which has smaller mesh, you can also prolong your horse’s

eating time, thereby aiding digestion and reducing boredom. For further information and advice on feeding your horse, pony or donkey, please ring the HorseHage Helpline on 01803 527257 or visit www.horsehage.

Parelli Connect Offers FREE iPhone App Described as part social network, part personal trainer and part digital diary, Parelli Connect is the equine industry’s latest hot spot for training tools and community support. Making it easy to use on the go or in the arena, Parelli Connect has developed a FREE iPhone app downloadable from the iTunes Store. Similar to popular social media sites but customized for the horse lover, it has personal and horse profile pages, progress journals, interactive task-lists, instructional videos and more. If you’ve experienced Facebook from your iPhone, the Parelli Connect app will be a breeze.

Banish boredom in the arena and stay on track with your goals as Parelli Connect custom generates tasks for you and your horse based on your level within the Parelli program. Once you have accomplished the provided tasks, check them off and receive a new list of tasks and activities. To download the iPhone app, access the iTunes Store from your phone and enter “Parelli Connect” into your search bar. After downloading, you will be able to access the app by touching the Parelli icon on your phone. A brief welcome screen will greet you, followed by a log in page where you will be prompted to enter your email address and password. Your phone will automatically store this information and

you will go directly to your Parelli Connect news feed. For more information on Parelli Connect, or to sign-up for a FREE 30Day trial membership, visit

Excerpt from ‘a field study of 40 horses’ A field study of 40 horses was carried out by Christine Wait B. Ed., M.Sc. to assess the efficacy of Remount a product to assist the performance of the liver. ‘The most rapid improvements were seen in horses treated for poor condition, lethargy, lack of bloom and laminitic conditions, dramatic responses often occurred within 48 hours. Animals previously dull, unenthusiastic and listless showed improved outlook, increased appetite, and regained interest in life. Animals showing discomfort from laminitic symptoms of hot and sore feet walked more freely and comfortably within a few days. Poor and unthrifty animals started to gain weight and improved coat appearance within a week. Oedemas of the legs (stocking

8 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

up) reduced within days of starting the treatment, and better joint mobility was seen within 7 – 14 days in some animals. A full blood profile of one animal before and after treatment gave clear indications of the change in liver enzyme function that could be attributed to Remount, and which corresponded with symptomatic improvements in the animal.’ For more testimonials on cracked heals (Tanya Andrews), liver problems (Sander Boslooper), flaky skin and bad condition (Jane Skepper), see our web site Remount can be purchased from most stockists, and from Badminton Horse Feeds Tel 01425 658450 or for further information call Ron Fields Nutrition on 01432 851111.


The golden rules of feeding… Dr Derek Cuddeford, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Unviersity of Edinburgh

If WE did not feed our horses but allowed them to roam freely we would probably not need any “golden rules” of feeding because often it is OUR feeding methods that cause many of the problems that horses experience such as laminitis, obesity, colic and so on. One of the main reasons we cause our horses so many problems through the way in which we feed them is that we forget about the basic structure and function of the horse’s digestive system. A quick reminder will enable a rapid appreciation of the basis for the “golden rules”. Firstly, a 500kg horse has a tube (oesophagus) that is about 1.5 metre long joining the mouth to the stomach so any swallowed food particles must be soft and wet in order to slide down this tube. Then we have the stomach which represents less than 10% of total gut volume with a capacity of only 10 to 15 litres. Thus, large meals are out! The horse as you know is a trickle feeder and is not naturally a meal feeder like us so only small quantities should be eaten at any time. Food leaves the stomach and passes into about 20 metres of small intestine whose function is to digest all the

sugars, starches, fat and protein that are fed. As food travels through here in less than an hour, there is not a lot of time for the digestive process to take place. Thus, only small quantities can be dealt with effectively otherwise they would overflow into the large intestine. The latter is composed of the caecum (~30 litres), large colon (~60 litres) and the small colon (~20 litres). The large intestine is where fermentation takes place and it contains a finely balanced population of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi and protozoa) that are designed to develop and live on fibre-based feeds. If you change the sources of fibre and/ or introduce other feed materials then the balance of the population can be upset and this can have disastrous consequences for the horse (colic, laminitis, etc). Furthermore, the large intestine is not a straight tube having a 360 degree bend at the pelvic flexure and thus dry, coarse fibrous residues cannot easily get around such a bend and this can result in a blockage (impaction). Grass alone provides a very fluid gut content because it contains at least 80% water and when saliva and digestive juices are added, a “soupy” mixture is formed which can easily flow through the horse’s internal “plumbing”. It is worth remembering that most feed-related problems arise through large intestinal dysfunction so bear this in mind firstly, when selecting feeds and secondly, deciding when and how you give them to your horse. There are certain animal factors that must be addressed before we consider the rules of feeding. Firstly, your horse or pony should be worm-free since these parasites can damage the gut and make the animal susceptible to colic irrespective of how good the feeding programme. The goal is to feed the horse and not its parasites! Secondly, the animal’s teeth must be in good order so that it can effectively chew its food thereby reducing particle size so that the material will flow through the gut. Poor occlusion can be a reason for impaction colic occurring because long fibres are not broken down properly and are swallowed before they are reduced in length. Assuming the foregoing is in order then there are three areas to consider that encompass the “golden rules” of feeding: the characteristics of the feed, the quantity of feed supplied August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 9

Feeding cont. from p.9

and the feeding management. Feed characteristics: The horse has evolved to exist on fibrous feeds so most obviously, plenty of fibre should be fed, preferably ad libitum and in a long form. The minimum amount of fibrous feed (eg grass hay) should be 1% of bodyweight and most animals fed ad libitum will consume about 2.5% of bodyweight. Forage/concentrate ratios should be reviewed with this in mind when feeding performance horses to ensure enough high-fibre feed is provided. When selecting food for your horse/pony you should only pick high quality sources. In this context, there are two aspects to quality, hygienic and nutritional. It is false economy to feed anything of low nutritional value (digestibility) because it will appear in the faeces and you will just have to shovel more poo. Hygienic status of feed is crucial, particularly that of forages, since your animals respiratory system can be compromised if fed moulded food. Remember concentrates (cereals, compounds, etc) can also be contaminated (hopefully much less likely) with mould and/or mites or, they can even be rancid (eg high fat oats). The last consideration in this section is that horses must be fed a balanced diet so do take advice; there are so many

10 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

free helplines that you can access for good information. Imbalanced diets should be a thing of the past although so many owners get caught by thinking if one cup of X is good then two cups of X will be even better-killing with kindness? Feed quantity: Scoops come in different sizes and different colours so not all scoops are equal! Furthermore, different feeds have different densities so one kilo of coarse mix does not occupy the same space as one kilo of cubes. It follows that all horse feed should be weighed out so you know how much you are feeding; feed by weight and not by volume. The amount of feed required by any horse depends primarily on its bodyweight but it is moderated by other factors such as temperament, individuality, physiological status (work, lactation, etc) and body condition (fatness). We have all experienced horses of similar bodyweight that require different quantities of food to maintain themselves. This is paralleled in humans when annoyingly, some people seem to be able to eat as much food as they like but remain slim-others get fat just by looking at food! Importantly one must know one’s animal in order to cater for individual foibles but also one must be aware how work, pregnancy, lactation, etc can

affect energy demands and thus, adjust feed quantities accordingly. Reduced feeding rates are appropriate for fatties in order to try to reduce their level of fatness and to achieve an appropriate bodyweight and condition. Feeding management: Since the horse is a trickle feeder it should be fed little and often; its small stomach precludes feeding large meals. Horses become conditioned to feeding times and associated activities (door banging, movement of people, opening stable doors, etc) so it is wise to regularize feeding times to avoid animals becoming frustrated when not fed at the “expected” time. Horses will vent their “feelings” on the stable woodwork and door kicking is a favoured activity! On the subject of feeding times it is recommended that horses should not be fed immediately before or after work. Clean water should always be available 24/7. All feeding/drinking/utensils/ troughs/drinkers/etc should be cleaned regularly to avoid the accumulation of stale feed and to prevent feed contaminating the water supply. Remember that horses tend to eat and drink sequentially so water can easily become polluted. It is advisable to institute dietary change gradually to avoid upsetting the microorganisms in

the large intestine. Unfortunately people ignore this basic rule when they insist on suddenly giving their horse a bran mash! Although commercially produced diets utilise the latest nutritional knowledge, horse owners still insist on additionally using supplements. The latter are very useful in certain defined circumstances as for example with growing foals that have a high demand for micronutrients but because they get lots of protein and energy from good grass one cannot feed conventional compound feed. Avoid multiple supplement usage unless it is prescribed by someone with appropriate knowledge. Lastly, all horse food should be kept under good conditions of storage that is ventilated, weather tight and verminfree! In conclusion, all of the above is largely based on common sense and an understanding of the horse’s natural behaviour and digestive processes. But apart from the “golden rules” gold itself can be eaten! It has its own E number 175 and can also be drunk in the form of German schnapps, Danziger Goldwasser…….. unlike the “golden rules” however, it is completely unassimilated (the gold not the alcohol)!


August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 11


Blue Chip feeding regimes Nutrition plays an important role in keeping horses and ponies in tip-top condition. The feeding regime can affect their performance and health if the horse’s digestive system is not understood. Horses evolved as trickle feeders, grazing on a variety of grasses of different types and ages for the majority of the day. For the horse to receive all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals from a forage based diet, an enlarged hind gut evolved to allow the digestion and therefore fermentation of the fibre to occur. Trying to feed your horse or pony in the most sensitive way towards their digestive system and following the ‘golden rules’ will help create a healthy, happy horse. Providing access to clean, fresh water is essential for the horse’s health. The weather, in addition to the horse’s work load and diet can significantly alter the amount of water drunk from day to day. Feed plenty of fibre on a daily basis. Horses and ponies should receive a

minimum of 1.5-2% of their total body weight in dry weight fibre in the form of hay/haylage, grass or an alternative source, such as unmolassed sugar beet - ideally they would have ad lib access to fibre. Introduce changes to the diet gradually over 7 to 10 days. This will help reduce the risk of metabolic or digestive upsets, as the microbial population of the hind gut will have time to adapt to the new elements of the diet. Feed horses and ponies as individuals to ensure they are getting the correct level of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The requirements of the diet will vary between animals depending on their temperament, age, work load and ability to utilise their feed. Feed little and often to help mimic the trickle feeder instinct of the horse. Modern management does not always make ad lib feeding possible, therefore smaller meals at more regular intervals throughout the day will help to encourage efficient digestion.

Feed by weight not volume to ensure your horse or pony is receiving the correct quantities of feed in line with the manufacturers’ recommended feeding guidelines. Feed good quality clean food, as feed that appears mouldy, musty or dusty can contain harmful toxins. These toxins can cause coughing, wheezing, digestive upset, illness, and in severe cases disease. Keep feed buckets, bins and scoops clean otherwise they can go mouldy and produce harmful toxins. Flies are also attracted to dirty feed buckets, and bring with them disease and irritation for the horse or pony. Leave at least an hour between feeding and riding, to prevent cramps – similar to those felt by a human exercising on a full stomach. Strenuous exercise will reduce the efficiency of digestion as the blood supply will be diverted away from the gut and to the muscles. Always feed a balanced diet with the correct levels of nutrients vitamins

and minerals. This will ensure the correct functioning of all the vital systems in the horse, and with a healthy functioning body comes a happy horse. A simple way to ensure your horse or pony has a properly balanced diet what ever they are fed is to include a high quality feed balancer such as Blue Chip Original. Blue Chip Original contains a complete vitamin, mineral and nutrient package, with high levels of an EU approved probiotic which has been proven to double the digestibility of fibre in your horse’s diet. Also included are a comprehensive hoof and respiratory supplement and generous levels of oils, helping to keep your horse in fantastic condition all year round. For more information on feeding or the Blue Chip products visit or call 0114 266 6200.

Healthy ‘Horslyx’ Hooves The view from the outside is often a reflection of what is going on in the inside. In humans, if our nails, hair and skin are strong and healthy it is a good sign that internally we have the nutritional balance just right. Similarly, a horses’ outer image can portray their inner health, with dry, brittle and weak hooves being a common indicator that they are deficient in essential nutrients. Horslyx has developed a unique ‘Healthy Hooves’ package which provides customers with a simple, cost effective and all-in-one method of providing the

12 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

necessary building blocks to maintain strong, healthy feet and also promote an all over ‘picture of health’. Every single Horslyx product contains a comprehensive structure of nutrients including key ingredients which target the common challenges horses often face. Biotin, Methionine and Zinc are essential nutrients required to support, maintain and promote strong, healthy horn growth and when combined with the wide selection of vitamins, minerals and trace elements also added to Horslyx, their absorption is optimised.

Feeding any Horslyx product will aid in balancing the deficiencies found in grazing and forage, as well as providing a natural trickle feeding pattern to promote gut health, reduce boredom and only add minimal calories. The inclusion of anti-oxidants gives support to the immune system, whilst high oil content and essential amino acids provide the body with the necessary foundations for overall wellbeing. Horslyx is available in four formulations, Original, Respiratory, Garlic and Mobility allowing owners to feed specifically to their horses’ requirements in one cost

effective, easy and effective method. Horslyx is available in 5kg and 15kg weatherproof tubs, plus 80kg in Original only with prices starting at around £9.80. For further information tel, (01697) 332 592 or visit


August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 13

Feeding - Health Care

Paddock Likit – Seriously Good The nutritious Paddock Likit is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, making it especially useful for horses and ponies at grass or overweight equines whose dietary intake may be restricted. Leading nutritionist, Dr Derek Cuddeford, explains: “The Paddock Likit provides a large proportion of the horse’s daily requirement in terms of vitamins A, D, and E, together with vitamin K and a range of B vitamins. Similarly, the important trace elements copper, manganese, zinc and selenium are included to make good any pasture shortfall; in addition, iron, cobalt and iodine are included. On top of all this, oils and essential fatty acids support good coat condition and general health. Garlic is added to help keep off the flies while yeast cultures helps promote efficient gut function. “Horses naturally feed little and often over extended periods of time and the Paddock Likit accords with this natural behaviour pattern, allowing the horse or pony to obtain its daily micronutrient requirements over the 24 hour period

rather than all at once in a meal. Free choice also allows the animal to enjoy the Likit at any time thus reducing the risk of any bullying taking place. Being suitable for all types of horse or pony the Paddock Likit can be used amongst mixed groups of animals and where grazing is limited, and is particularly useful for “topping up” the micronutrient intake. All-in-all, this is a comprehensive supplement to help ensure your animals wellbeing.” The long lasting Paddock Likit can be used in the field or stable and features a removable carry handle for your convenience. Contact Westgate EFI on 01303 872277 for stockists or visit

TopSpec FibrePlus Cubes - For A Healthy Digestive System TopSpec FibrePlus Cubes are designed to provide balanced fibre for all horses and ponies. So what is the plus? It is added ingredients to balance the fibre and promote muscle development and function. In most circumstances horses and ponies benefit from eating fibre in the form of long or chopped forage. However there are situations where this is not possible and times when a low calorie cube is desirable. TopSpec FibrePlus Cubes are formulated to be very low in starch and sugar, which contributes to the cubes being the ultimate ‘non-heating’ feed. The digestion of the fibre in these cubes will however lead to a ‘warming’ effect in the hindgut, which is very beneficial to horses, especially veterans, in cold weather. The cubes can be fed dry or quicksoaked. The highly digestible fibre in these cubes helps to promote the beneficial bacteria in the hindgut therefore helping to maintain a healthy digestive system. FibrePlus Cubes are ideal as a source of fibre for elderly horses and ponies with poor or no teeth. The cubes can be quickly soaked to a mash that will provide a superb complete feed when

fed with TopSpec Senior Feed Balancer. They are also suitable as a safe, very low-calorie feed for horses and ponies prone to laminitis, as a very low-calorie feed for good-doers, as a reassuringly ‘non-heating’ feed for sharp or ‘fizzy’ horses and as a non-stimulating feed to give when horses are being ‘broken-in’ or moved. The cubes are a blend of high-fibre and cereal-grain free ingredients, with high quality protein from high-oil soya and linseed. No straw products are included in the formulation. Sodium (from salt), calcium and magnesium are added to this blend. TopSpec FibrePlus Cubes are designed to be fed with any TopSpec feed balancer or an appropriate TopSpec supplement. They can be mixed with any other horse feeds including alfalfa/ grass chops, various forms of sugar beet pulp, and compound cubes/mixes. For elderly horses and others with problem teeth the cubes will soak quickly to anywhere between a crumb and a porridge depending on your individual horse’s preference. For further information contact the TopSpec Helpline on 01845 565030 or visit

NEW! Grand Calm Plus – fastacting syringe-based calmer that meets FEI guidelines Grand Calm Plus is a brand new, syringe-based product containing four different sources of magnesium, to minimise stress and maximise performance. Are your horse’s nerves and tension spoiling performance levels and enjoyment? Many horse owners are faced with the frustrating problem of an excitable horse that is difficult to manage, or lacks focus. This is why Grand Meadows has created a brand new calming formula to help tackle these problems in a fast-acting formula. Grand Calm Plus, manufactured by the leading US supplement manufacturer, Grand Meadows, is a unique, drug-free and non-herbal formulation; its ingredients are exempt from FEI restrictions. The product contains four different sources of bioavailable magnesium, which broaden the potential results and lead to a consistent, effective calming agent. In addition to the popular ingredient magnesium, Grand Calm contains the amino acid, Theanine, which is well documented to aid relaxation by 14 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

blocking the binding of L-glutamic acid to ‘glutamate receptors’ in the brain. Each 60ml syringe of Grand Calm Plus contains one dose, which should be given to the horse two hours prior to travelling or competing, or two hours in advance of any stressful situation. Feed directly onto the back of the tongue. Grand Calm Plus - syringe – RRP £10.15. VAT exempt. (The product is also available in pelleted form as Grand Calm, a feed supplement with an R.R.P. of £47.94 for a 5lb tub, while a 10lb tub is £86.88). Grand Meadows is an expert in animal health supplements, and offers a range of equine and canine products for digestion, joints, hooves, coat and general health and wellbeing. Retailers - to stock the product, call Equine Management on: (01825) 841 303 Consumers - to buy online, visit: www.

Joni Bentley

December 2010 - Equi-Ads - 15


Pilates for Equestrians The seventh extract in our series by Liza Randall In this extract, we will demonstrate the Tree Hugging exercise from the Relaxation Position. Relaxation Position

This is the position from which many exercises start, and it will reinforce the neutral pelvis/neutral spine.

pelvis is essential for riding as it helps you to absorb the movement of the horse. Stability of your pelvis will assist you to maintain an independent seat, plus you will be able to keep your legs quiet and still at the horse’s sides as he moves beneath you.

North (waist flattens into mat)

Why? This is the position from which many exercises start, and it will reinforce the neutral pelvis/neutral spine position. How? Lie on your back with your feet hipwidth apart and parallel, feet flat, making contact with the floor, knees raised, hips feeling heavy as if they are dropping into your hip sockets and through the mat below. Feel the weight of your head, upper body and pelvis melting into the mat. Relax! Find a position where your pelvis and spine are in neutral position; pelvis not tipped forwards or back, but in the middle, with hip bones parallel to the ceiling and your spine with all its natural curves, not flattened into the mat. Breathe wide and deep into your ribcage, as if your lungs are a pair of bellows, filling with air. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Gently stabilise on your outbreath before moving. Finding Neutral – The Compass


Why? This exercise is a great starting place for you to gauge just how much range you have in your lower back and pelvis. It also helps you, as a rider, achieve a neutral pelvis and spine. A flexible

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As well as your pelvis being in neutral, the rest of your spine from your pelvis right up to your head must also be in neutral, with the natural curves of the upper spine (thoracic region) and the natural curve at the back of the neck (cervical spine) maintained. Also, you should feel that your ribcage is neither lifted nor squashed into the mat. Try to memorise this position and practise it so that you can identify this feeling of neutral pelvis and neutral spine, so you can recognise it when mounted.

Stabilise through your centre and, as you breathe in, move your arms out to your sides, keeping the elbows slightly bent, hovering a hand’s breadth off the mat. Then, as you breathe out, bring your fingertips back together, keeping the ‘tree hugging’ shape. Repeat 12 times

Optional Extra – How? From Relaxation Position, do a simple pelvic tilt forwards and backwards and from side to side. Imagine you have a compass on your tummy with north towards your nose and south towards your toes! East and west are represented by the hip bones.

You can also do this from Standing, by placing the small of your back against a wall and tilting your pelvis back and forth. The trick is to be able to do it without disturbing the rest of your body – this should be an independent movement! Equestrian advantage

Now move your pelvis back through to neutral – imagine your tummy is a table, with a cup of hot cocoa on it. You do not want to spill the drink, so try to ensure that you are not over-tilted to the north or south, or to east and west. Neutral is between the two extremes of the tilt and will be where you feel most comfortable. Find this position for yourself by tilting to the north – you will feel that you have flattened your waist into the ground and you will have lost any natural curves in your back. Gently move your pelvis through neutral in the middle to the south. You will feel that your lower back has arched unnaturally and you will feel as if your tummy is sticking out.

South (lower back my arch)

By placing the heels of your hands flat on your hip bones, with your fingers straight, pointing towards one another, you will notice that the backs of your hands are horizontal to the ceiling when you are in neutral.

The ability to tilt your pelvis is the first step to gaining pelvic stability. Tree Hugging

This can also be done with hand weights. Equestrian advantage – To aid the position of your upper body. Previous extracts in the series can be found on the Equi-Ads website www. in the Feature Articles section. If you can’t wait for the next instalment in Equi-Ads, Liza Randall’s book, Pilates for Equestrians, is available from Kenilworth Press – see Reader Offer below. Copyright c 2010 Liza Randall Studio Photography by Simon Lusty; mounted and other photographs by the author and Karl Randall

Why? To open the chest and shoulders, whilst keeping the upper back stable. How?

Line illustrations and cartoons by Diane Breeze Extract courtesy Kenilworth Press, an imprint of Quiller Publishing Ltd

From Relaxation Position, stretch both arms up, shoulder width apart, fingertips towards each other, with elbows slightly bent, as if you are hugging a tree.


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Feeding - Health Care

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 17

Health Care

Knowledgeable stable management makes healthy, happy horses Cora Roberts. Cora is a freelance instructor and lecturer. She has competed for many years in eventing, show jumping and dressage. How can you improve and promote your horse’s well being? A good start is to understand HOMEOSTASIS. Horse care has become a big consumer affair. The range of products on offer is vast and confusing. Pressure on horse owners is based on the emotive concept that unless they use supplements, organic feed, natural care products, specific clothing etc. they fall short of doing the best for their horse. Feral horses living without or with limited human interference survive and reproduce quite happily. Why do domestic horses require all this fuss? Firstly, they cannot roam freely to gather food, i.e. no ad lib exercise or grazing. Secondly, we use them and put them into unnatural situations which they may find difficult to deal with. We would do well, however, to remember that, before we try to compensate for a captive life, an understanding of how the horse’s body functions is essential. Feral or domesticated – equine body systems remain unchanged. HOMEOSTASIS The word comes from the Greek, ‘homeo’ – similar; ‘stasis’ – standing still, together this translates as equilibrium or stability. It refers to the body’s ability to maintain an internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes automatically to external changes. In other words: homeostasis keeps the horse’s body systems from malfunctioning when conditions change. So how can our horse care adversely affect homeostasis? I shall try to explain this using two prominent areas of horse care. THERMOREGULATION - Controlling body temperature Warm blooded species maintain a constant body temperature which enables them to keep their body systems working optimally. The horse’s temperature at rest is around 38°C/100.5°F. It increases with exercise (hence the terms ‘warm up’ and ‘warm down’), illness and the outside environment. If the horse’s body temperature becomes too high, this can cause damage that may be irreparable. The equine body responds to a rise in temperature by: a) Sweating, which evaporates cooling the skin, and loss of heat through respiratory water loss. b) Dilation of blood vessels close to the skin to allow the blood to be cooled. c) Keeping the coat flat, permitting 18 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

optimal heat loss through radiation away from the body.

Points to note before using supplements:

Falling temperature will be countered by:

• Why does your horse need a supplement? • Find out exactly how effective the additive is. Speak to the manufacturer’s nutritionist or scientific advisor and don’t be afraid to ask anything that causes you concern

a) The coat standing up to trap air as insulation. b) Shivering: produces warmth when muscles close to the surface contract and quickly relax. c) blood vessels contracting, reducing surface blood flow to avoid heat loss. IMPACT ON HORSE CARE Every paddock/field should have some form of shade - trees or a shelter. Stables should have big openings, ideally large windows without glass at the front and rear to produce good ventilation and airflow helping to keep internal temperature from rising too high. Horses that are very hot from work need to reduce their body temperature quickly. They should be hosed off or washed down with lots of cold (ideally iced) water but not scraped off. This has a similar effect as sweating (see above). For this reason they should not be covered in sweat rugs until nearly dry. When travelling, don’t cover horses in rugs, leg wraps or thick bandages because a horse gets warm during transport unless it’s very cold outside or if they are clipped. Avoid bandages and boots during exercise unless jumping or doing advanced flatwork and then use breathable materials. Rugging horses in winter is fine as long as their temperature is checked regularly: i.e. slide a hand under the rug and it should feel a bit warmer than your own hand. Neck covers are only helpful in extreme conditions otherwise they create a lot of heat making the horse uncomfortable. NUTRITION – are supplements necessary? Horses need fibre in the form of forage (grass, hay, haylage) as the mainstay of their diet. Their digestive system is designed to be able to digest fibre. Withholding it, replacing too much of it with hard feed etc. is detrimental physically and psychologically. Lack of fibre in the diet can result in behavioural abnormalities such as stereotypies and digestive problems. As we cannot guarantee fresh, varied vegetation all the year round supplementing vitamins and minerals becomes necessary. How does one choose the right product?

Some nutrients can cause damage if given at too high a dose The term ‘natural’ does not automatically mean that a substance is both harmless and beneficial (hemlock and ragwort are ‘natural’, too)

horse’s diet can be a complete waste of money if the horse’s body simply gets rid of the extra substance. Furthermore excess supplementation can itself result in health problems. Homeostasis finely balances all functions of the body and constantly corrects imbalances. This mechanism works very efficiently providing we don’t challenge it excessively. Subjecting the horse to well-intentioned but often ill-considered management regimes imposes unnecessary stress and may lead to unforeseen health consequences.

If you suspect health or performance problems seek veterinary advice first and discuss supplementation with him/ her. Generally a feed balancer will cover most possible vitamin and mineral shortages. Specific target supplements need careful consideration before use. Adding one or two ingredients to a

Piggy Wins the Greenwich Test Event! Nupafeed rider Piggy French has won the London 2012 Test Event in Greenwich Park having led throughout the three-days riding DHI Topper W. She took an early advantage with an outstanding Dressage, put in a faultless 3km cross-country phase, and jumped a double clear in the Show Jumping Rounds. “It’s amazing to think that, this time next year, we could be riding for our country in this setting,” said French. BBC Sport reported that ‘Greenwich Park has been well-received by riders and protests against its use as a 2012 venue have been minimal’. This is good news in light of the concerns that were raised by the media in the run up to the Event.

for 2012, she believes DHI Topper W (who takes this win following a strong 3rd at the Saumur CCI***) also has what it takes. “He’s a little bit below the level of my top horses at the minute but improving all the time” Said Piggy. Clayton Fredericks, who won at Saumur, found himself in second place after the dressage and ultimately finished 4th riding Ben Along Time. We will also be keeping an eye on him going into 2012 but if he makes the selection he will be riding for his home nation, Australia, leaving us with some split loyalties!

While the Olympics will of course be a four-star event, the Test Event was a two-star competition, making use of a shortened cross-country course and offering riders the opportunity to try the venue with younger, developing horses. So while Jakata is Piggy’s main hope

Piggy French riding Jakata at WEG, copywrite Julia Shearwood Photography.

Feeding - Health Care

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Health Care

Lame Foals @ Conspiracy Theory.Com Ben Sturgeon, BSc, BVM&S, Cert EP, MRCVS Lameness is not just the condition of most riders after the first few rides each year or the chronic condition in weekend riders. It is the here and now. I had a client ask me the other day “was i wrong?” What was meant was, should they have taken my advice and done something sooner (the condition had been deteriorating for 18 months )? The answer seems obvious to most but as I pointed out; it was their horse, the decision regarding risks of treatment (surgery) were theirs to make; their own experience and wishes must play a part. This is only right until it turns into a conspiracy. Does the vet want to make some money? Is he/she a rubbish vet and is now only accepting they cant treat this? Should we or could we have done something else with someone else? I’ve seen lots of foals with bent legs or lame, they seem to come right, don’t they, what’s going on? Conspiracy theories are fun. We all think the vet is expensive and not as good as my mate. It is far more fun to blame The Duke of Edinburgh for Diana’s death rather than alcohol, drugs and fast cars. Perhaps the moon landings were fake, are aliens among us, where is Elvis? Conspiracy theories appeal to our love of a good story but they also pander to our prejudices and fears sometimes with disastrous consequences. An obvious example is this - during the Medieval ages, hundreds of people were burned at the stake for witch craft. Today lame horses and specifically foals are left because its “just a knock”. Let me tell you now - A LAME FOAL IS ALWAYS A MEDICAL OR SURGICAL EMERGENCY! Foals commonly develop musculoskeletal problems, and some require prompt attention in order to ensure a good or indeed any outcome. There are numerous causes of lameness in foals and young horses, but the broad categories of problems include: • • • •

Infectious musculoskeletal disease Congenital orthopaedic disease Developmental orthopaedic disease Trauma

Infectious musculoskeletal disease Infectious musculoskeletal disease is most often overlooked and has the biggest potential for loss of use or indeed loss of life in a foal. It is very common to hear owners say a foal is lame because it’s mum stepped on it. The fact is mares rarely step on foals, and a lame foal should be considered an emergency. You should assume that 20 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

it is septic arthritis or septic physitis until proven otherwise. It is never appropriate to assume trauma until an examination of all accessible joints has been performed and diagnostic joint fluid taken. Treatment for septic joints or physes consists of joint lavage and intra-synovial antibiotics in conjunction with systemic antibiotics. Additionally, joint sepsis is often secondary to a systemic bacterial infection, and a thorough exam including thoracic radiography and abdominal, umbilical, and thoracic ultrasonography is often indicated to identify the source of bacteria (usually pneumonia, enteritis/ colitis, or umbilical abscess). Congenital orthopaedic disease The premature foal (<320 days) may be at risk of flexor laxity and/ or cuboidal bone hypomaturity. Foals that are grossly premature (silky coat, low birth weight, floppy ears, domed head) should have radiographs taken of their knees and hocks. The cuboidal bones that make up these joints mature late and consist of soft cartilage in a truly premature foal. If the foal uses these bones before they have ossified (hardened), the bones will be crushed usually necessitating euthanasia. These foals should be managed with stall confinement and bandages or splints until radiographs show that the bones are ready to support the foal. Another common problem in premature foals is laxity of the flexor tendons. These foals will stand with the tip of their hooves pointing up; and walk on their heels or even on the back of their fetlocks. This condition can be managed with soft bedding (to avoid injuries) and glued-on heel extensions. As the foal gets stronger this will self-correct. The opposite problem is flexor contracture (“contracted tendons”) where the foal cannot fully extend its legs; the tendons in the back of the legs will usually feel tight. This can be congenital or acquired. Foals born with this problem may have been in an abnormal position in utero. Severe cases often result in birth difficulties. These problems can usually be managed with a combination of high dose Tetracycline and bandaging or splinting the legs to induce laxity. Severely affected foals will get exhausted as they cannot engage their stay apparatus and have problems suckling. They are also at risk of rupturing their extensor tendons. If splinting, Tetracycline, exercise, and good nursing care does not solve the problem, some may need surgery to cut the check ligaments or even a flexor tendon in severe cases.

Developmental orthopaedic disease Some foals or weanlings will develop contracted tendons after having been normal for weeks to months. This is an example of a developmental (or acquired) orthopaedic disease. It can be caused by pain, mineral imbalances, excessive rate of growth, or a diet too high in energy and protein. With acquired contractures, management involves nutritional changes, exercise restriction and pain management. Non-responsive cases require surgery to cut one or both check ligaments. For both congenital and acquired forms, contracture where the fetlock pops forward and buckles is more severe than those that result in a club foot or “ballerina” stance with only the toe contacting the ground and require aggressive management. Angular Limb Deformities are common in foals. This deformity describes a condition where the leg is crooked when viewed from the front or the back. A valgus rotation means the leg deviates outward when going from top to bottom and a varus rotation means an inward deviation. The knee, fetlock, and hock are most commonly affected. Foals normally have some degree of valgus deviation at the knee and this corrects as the foal’s chest widens and musculature develops. Angular limb deformities are a problem if excessive, as it causes asymmetric strain upon the joints. Severely affected foals need exercise restriction and even splinting if the degree of deformity is compromising the joint. X-rays usually determine the best treatment. Surgery can be performed to manipulate the growth of the physes to obtain asymmetric growth and straightening. Some mildly affected foals can be managed with rasping or glue-on shoes with hoof extensions. As a rule of thumb, a fetlock deformity should be addressed in the first month of life because growth plate closure occurs early in this joint. Hock and knee deformities can usually wait 3-4 months before being corrected. However, a severe deformity or one that is getting worse should be addressed promptly. OCD (Osteochondrosis dissecans) is another developmental disease that can present in the foal and is a disease of the bone and cartilage junction. Affected joints will have areas where the cartilage and the underlying bone are soft and poorly adhered. This area gets frayed and results in inflammation. In advanced or severe cases, the whole flap of abnormal cartilage and bone can become separated from the parent bone. It can then remain as an inflammatory flap or detach

completely. Most affected horses will not show lameness until they start to exercise, but severe cases can manifest as swollen joints &/or lameness. The shoulder, hock and stifle are the most common sites of OCD, but any joint can be affected. Radiographs are usually sufficient to diagnose. Treatment is almost always surgical and involves removing abnormal bone and cartilage allowing a strong cartilage scar to form in place. Prognosis varies with joint involved, extent and location within the joint. This condition is best diagnosed early in order to prevent extensive cartilage loss due to persistent inflammation, so any swollen joint should be considered a potentially serious issue. The final disease complex is Cervical Vertebral Malformation or Instability (Wobbler Syndrome). Horses can have abnormal development of their cervical vertebrae resulting in compression of the spinal cord. This results in death of nerve cells and poor communication between the brain and limbs. The hind limbs are affected first, but severe cases will show forelimb involvement as well. The most common presentation is in young (1-2 year) horses, but severe cases can present in the first few months of life. The primary presenting signs are incoordination and weakness. These horses have a tendency to trip, fall, and sometimes difficulty getting up and down. Presumptive diagnosis is based on clinical signs and abnormal cervical radiographs. Treatment is surgery to fuse the abnormal cervical vertebral but it is only performed in 2-3 places in the country. It is expensive and recovery is usually 1 year, but outcomes are good for horses mildly affected and can salvage severely affected animals. Trauma Neonates and young foals are idiots, incoordinated, and very curious. As such, they are subject to all types of injury. Trauma is typically associated with hair loss, swelling, heat, bleeding, lameness, etc. Any and all of these signs should prompt an examination to determine the extent and seriousness of the injury. In summary, most of the conditions that cause lameness in foals can be treated effectively if they are detected and addressed early. Remember that lameness in a foal younger than 1 month is always a medical emergency.

Health Care

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Feeding - Health Care

22 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

Health Care - Worming

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Health Care - Physiotherapy

Exercises for management of horses on box rest Brid Walsh ACPAT Cat A SRP, MCSP, Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist PG Dip The prospect of maintaining a horse on box rest may seem daunting. However, you can help to make the experience a positive one by ensuring that your horse’s needs are met. For many of us who are working and looking after horses at home this could be a demanding period, leading to logistical problems that may seem impossible to overcome. This is a time when horses require more attention in order to defeat the physical, mental and emotional effects from the trauma of surgery, accidents, illness and box rest. Box rest can be very stressful, especially if the horse is used to being turned out and has to be separated from their herd or friends. Alongside this, although the prescribed need for box rest is indisputable, the effect of detraining secondary to lack of movement, not to mention exercise, can be cause for concern. The positive effects of regular exercise and activity on the horse are now well documented. These are further highlighted in the young horse, regarding bone formation and strength, soft tissue development, and most importantly training effects. It is postulated that under natural conditions, young horses may travel up to 25 kilometres a day at pasture. Growing horses gallop, on average, for 3.5 minutes per 24 hours, divided into approximately 40 sprints. This is naturally quite a difference from our horse on box rest. However, the future for box rest horses is not as bleak as it may seem. Through the development of sport science and physiotherapy studies, it has been shown that the type of exercise involved is more important than duration. It is emerging both from clinical and scientific trials, that it is quality and not quantity that ensures optimal recovery with a reduced probability of reoccurrence of injury. The term “rest” at this stage must be clearly defined. Over the years, this has become more evident with human patients. For example, a person with a back issue is not advised to stay on bed rest for a prolonged period of time, and then expected to recover and function as normal once this bed rest ends. Instead it has been shown, and in fact clearly seen, that a progressive return to function, starting with low level tasks and working upwards, is imperative to achieve a successful rehabilitation outcome. This is also true for our horse. A horse’s normal activity requires a high level of endurance, speed, agility, flexibility and proprioceptive stability, whilst enduring high concussive forces, depending on the activity. All of these aspects of fitness must be addressed and rehabilitated in order to successfully return to their 24 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

previous level of activity. One of the main concerns arising from box rest is that of achieving the balance between promoting the healing process and encouraging a speedy recovery, alongside taking steps to minimise detraining, muscle deconditioning, and reducing fitness levels. It is now common practice to begin first aid principles, depending on the issue, immediately even when box rest is prescribed. This is advised to assist with the correct pattern of healing for the tissues involved and to aid the rehabilitation process. To follow on from this however, it is imperative to use appropriate physiotherapeutic tools in order to maximise function for each stage of healing, to promote recovery and reduce the risk of reoccurrence. This is also good news for the owner, whose horse may require some mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom from facing the same walls all day. Some exercises advised and utilised by Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapists to ensure the above are outlined below, alongside previous consent from a Veterinary Surgeon. Another aspect of rehabilitation is maintaining the balance and stability of your horse while stimulating as many motor units with the muscle, thereby strengthening the fibres. This can be done through proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) techniques, which is the employment of specific patterns of joint and limb movement to recruit and condition muscles in the most efficient or appropriate manner. Exercises involve weight transference, rhythmic stabilisation and quadrant stretches, encouraging maintenance of neuromuscular function while on box rest. These exercises are best performed with the horse on a flat, even surface standing square, with plenty of space to move around safely. Quality of movement is more important than quantity, so you may have to start small and gradually increase range as able. An exercise should be repeated up to 7 times, for the best therapeutic and motor learning effect.

variations of these exercises, which can be prescribed by your Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist after they have performed a comprehensive assessment and treatment. It is important to use these baited stretches only with a horse that you trust or that doesn’t get over excited by food, especially after a period of box rest! Use food that you know the horse enjoys inside a plastic cup, remembering to deduct this amount from the daily allowance for your horse. If your horse keeps moving around, place his hindquarters in a stable corner and only ask your horse to move into the range available to him. Some examples include the following:

8 seconds. This will help engage the abdominals, pectorals and side flexor muscles of the cervical spine on the side to which the horse bends, while releasing the soft tissue and muscles of the opposite side.

Flexion/extension stretches

Baited side flexion stretch

Using the bribe, slowly encourage your horse to extend his head out in front of him, and then to take his head between his legs, following the bribe, with a good quality of movement within his available range. This will engage the horse’s abdominals, pectoral muscles and the pelvic stabilising muscles, whilst releasing out his top line by stretching spinal muscles.

Diagonal patterns To incorporate all of these movements, you can encourage your horse to move through a full diagonal movement, ie. take the horse’s nose from the outside of one foot, across the mid-line of the horse, to stretch him fully up to the opposite side.

Baited extension stretch

Side flexion To encourage your horse to bend around you, stand with your back facing his side and use the treat to persuade him to reach his nose to his girth, keeping the treat there for up to 8 seconds.

Diagonal pattern

There are other versions of these diagonals which your veterinary physiotherapist will advise on. All of these diagonal patterns are allowing movement with stability and control that will be needed as part of his rehabilitation and return to function.

Baited stretches Baited stretches are a useful tool to help stretch muscle and soft tissue that may have become tight due to inactivity or post trauma. It also will help maintain the range of motion within the joints, and by doing so will help to keep joints healthy. There are many

Baited side flexion stretch

Then repeat again to bring his nose to his flank, holding once more for up to

Diagonal pattern

cont. on p.26

Health Care - Tack & Turnout

Mouth bruised from pinching bit

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 25

Health Care - Physiotherapy cont. from p.24

Quadrant stretches The horse’s limb can move in a variety of directions e.g. forwards, backwards, rotating inwards or outwards, coming away from the limb to the side or going towards the limb. In turn the muscles around the joint endeavour to stabilise these movements. Therefore, it is important to utilise all these directions when stretching the horse while working in its functional range, which may be affected due to prolonged inactivity. Your Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist will be able to assess which movements are restricted both through movement analysis and testing of passive range of motion of each joint. Once this has been identified, the limb will be placed in this position and progressed onto weight bearing to stretch off the restriction in the horse’s natural way, using its own body weight. Weight transfers By transferring the animal’s weight between their limbs e.g. front to back or side to side, the muscles have to work hard to maintain an upright posture and to stabilise joints. This helps to strengthen muscles without having to go through large ranges of movement and/or incur large concussive forces. Proprioception will be increased, as there will be some joint compression

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when the body weight is transferred over that joint, which in turn allows for healing and rehabilitation. An example of this could be to gently rock the horse over onto the other standing forelimb, progressing by lifting a limb, with control.

Quality rehabilitation is essential, and advice must be sought around the appropriate response for each stage of healing, as there is a well-documented sequence of events followed in the healing process.

Rhythmic stabilisation

Tail pull

This technique works on making the muscles around a joint work together. Around a joint, some muscles will have to contract, while others will relax in order to ensure stability. This technique displaces balance in a controlled fashion and depending on the aim, achieving an individually specific set of relaxation or contraction of the muscle groups being targeted. This helps the brain to “programme” the correct, most efficient motor output response. All of which is crucial for accuracy and endurance of movements.

The horse doesn’t move its limbs throughout this exercise. Once the exercise is finished gradually release the tail. Your horse should find that this gives him a nice soft tissue release throughout, which can be quite welcomed during a period of box rest! It is important not to try this with a horse who is known to kick!!

An example of this is the tail pull. Standing facing the horse’s hips, making sure you’re standing with a good base of support, and your horse is square. Start by gently pulling the horse’s tail, increasing gradually only when the horse starts to pull against you.

Once damage has occurred, alterations occur to the cell matrix, which can remain unless treated appropriately, even though clinical signs may disappear. This predisposes your horse to further injury. For example, a tendon injury with a slow healing response can prove problematic by resulting in a reduced quality repair, arising from poor restructuring of the internal architecture of that tendon. Therefore, any treatments must be aimed at improving speed and quality of repair. Knowledge of the application of specific therapies based on this repair process is crucial for optimal rehabilitation results.

Side tail pull

It is possible to carry out of all of these techniques on different surfaces and your Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist will be able to show you many different variations to these, making them specific to your horse.

Brid Walsh ACPAT Cat A SRP, MCSP Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist PG Dip Tel. 07598928509

Health Care

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Health Care - Worming

Lameness Detected In recent years MRI scanning, long used as a diagnostic technique in humans, has become available for horses as a routine procedure. Technological advances have made it possible to obtain images without anaesthetics and with the horse standing to give a rapid and accurate diagnosis in over 90% of lameness cases. MRI produces high quality images of bone and soft tissue in any part of the leg from the hoof to the tarsus/carpus to help identify the problem. Because the images aid rapid diagnosis, precise targeting for treatment is possible at an early stage. So unlike more commonly used procedures MRI can eliminate the need for repeat tests or long rest periods before an outcome is reached.

The Process

vet was unable to make a diagnosis.

MRI scanners use a strong magnetic field around the horse’s leg and short pulses of radio waves to generate a weak radio echo that creates the image.

The lameness showed no signs of improvement after four weeks rest and coffin joint intra-articular therapy.

With the scanner relying on magnets, it is necessary to remove the two front or two hind metal shoes on your horse, depending on which leg is to be scanned. The horse is sedated and walked to the MRI scanner and the problem leg is placed into the scanner. The vet then aligns the scanner with the area of injury and takes as many images as necessary to produce an accurate diagnosis. The whole process will take around one to two hours, and the entire procedure causes your horse minimum stress.

Milly was lame on her left front leg, but standard methods of radiographs and ultrasound of the palmar pastern failed to explain the lameness. With conventional procedures producing no clear answer, an MRI scan was recommended to discover why the horse was lame. Using a Hallmarq standing equine MRI scanner a diagnosis was finally made of a complete rupture of the lateral collateral ligament in the front distal interphalangeal joint with associated secondary synovitis.

Case Study:

This detailed diagnosis allowed exact treatment to be prescribed. An injection of bone marrow stem cell was given. The horse was confined to a stable for 4 months to ensure correct healing, and to avoid any tension on the injured ligament she was shod with a wide lateral branch.

When eight-year old Warmblood, Milly, became lame whilst showjumping, her

Milly’s injury was hard to detect, but with the help of the MRI scanner,

Diagnosis is made in conjunction with the other information available on the case, and is usually available quickly.

diagnosis was precise. The mare is now still resting but has greatly improved since the initial examination and is set to make a good recovery. Hallmarq MRI scanners have imaged over 24,000 horses worldwide, and are only used at veterinary practices by trained veterinary staff. Currently there are 13 Hallmarq scanners situated around the UK at specialist centres to which your own vet can refer your horse. For further information contact Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging on (01483) 877812 or visit www.hallmarq. net

Virbac Equine SQP of the Year 2011 enjoys her Hickstead Prize Having been presented as the winner of the inaugural Virbac Equine SQP of the Year Competition at BETA International in February, Suzi Law had been looking forward to enjoying her fantastic prize of an expenses paid weekend at the Hickstead Jumping Derby. Virbac, manufacturers of leading wormer brands Equimax and Eraquell, made sure that Suzi had a weekend to remember. Having flown down from Edinburgh airport, Suzi and her husband, Richard were met at Gatwick and driven to the Copthorne Hotel to enjoy a leisurely Friday evening and make the most of the superb facilities that the hotel offers. ‘It was a lovely hotel and we found the staff very helpful’ said Suzi ‘It was great to be able to just chill out and prepare for the weekend at Hickstead!’ Saturday gave Suzi and Richard the opportunity to enjoy the day’s entertainment at Hickstead which included the legendary ‘Speed Derby’ where the fastest horses in the country take on the famous Derby Bank the “easy” way, and also to make the most of what Suzi described as ‘some serious shopping’ During the evening attention shifted to the All England Polo Club with a 28 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

thrilling high goal exhibition match and a Celebrity Polo Challenge, which saw some of the country’s leading show jumpers try their hand at polo.

‘It was awe inspiring to be in the arena next to the Derby Bank’ continued Suzi ‘I used to watch this competition as a child but never dreamed I would get the chance to actually be in the ring itself’. But that wasn’t the only time Suzi found herself in the ring as she had a further surprise when Callum invited her to present the award to the winner of the Virbac sponsored show jumping championship, The Equimax Under 25 Masters.

Presenting to the winner of the Equimax Under 25 Masters

Sunday however saw Suzi taking centre stage as, having enjoyed a course walk around the famous International Arena, Suzi then had exclusive access to the famous Derby Bank for a photo call. The morning was given an international flavour when Suzi met top eventer and Olympic gold medallist Wendy Schaeffer, who is sponsored by Virbac in Australia, who took time out to pose for some photos with Suzi and Virbac Senior Veterinary Advisor Callum Blair.

The weekend was rounded off with a sumptuous lunch in the exclusive members’ restaurant overlooking the International Arena whilst enjoying the thrills and spills of the main event of the day, The Hickstead Derby. From their vantage point high up in the restaurant Suzi and Richard enjoyed a panoramic view and a glass of champagne whilst watching a nail biting competition that saw Tina Fletcher take the Derby Title with the only clear round, becoming the first woman to win the coveted class since 1973. ‘I have had a truly fantastic weekend;’ said Suzi ‘I was just so honoured and delighted to have been nominated for and then to win the Virbac Equine SQP of the Year, and to be able to enjoy a prize like this was just amazing’

Virbac Animal Health recognises the vital role now played by SQP’s in advising and guiding horse owners on the correct principles of worming. The Virbac Equine SQP of the Year is designed to acknowledge and support all SQP’s and veterinary nurses who are eligible to prescribe equine products. In conjunction with their 3D Worming campaign, Virbac are inviting you to nominate someone for the Virbac Equine SQP of the Year Award 2012 who, in your opinion, gives you fantastic service and practical advice on worming issues. More details can be found at, and you could win a prize just for registering a nomination * *Terms and conditions apply,

Equimax under 25 masters winner Daniel Mosley on Seventh Fee red

Horse Behaviour

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 29


Breathe life into training - seeking submission from the mind of the horse Jenny Rolfe Submission is a natural and instinctive response for the horse, from the moment he is born. If you observe a herd of horses, you will see the young foals cautiously approach an older herd member demonstrating a submissive stance in their body language.

gifted horseman will understand that he should regard each horse as an individual and assess the path of training accordingly.

These observations can show us that submission is a code of behaviour, totally acceptable within the structure of a herd. Colts at play will be trying to assert their dominance in preparation for their role in the future, when they could become the head stallion with their own herd of mares and young.

We cannot gain true submission from just a contact with the rein or by creating a desired frame or outline within training. True submission can only be gained from the willing mind of the horse.


connection is ‘mind to mind’ and the dog responds willingly to his handler. This is a dog who willingly submits to his leader and handler, with apparently no force, just a relationship built on mutual trust. BUILDING THE CONTACT

It is helpful to understand what submission means to the horse. Leadership, within the herd is natural and within this structure comes both security and survival in the wild. A horse demonstrating submission, is more attentive and respectful of discipline, which will be a helpful response for us, as trainers. If we can become the natural ‘herd leader’ and create this bond during loose work, we can take this relationship on into our ridden work. We will become more self aware, as the horse can learn to respond more readily to our body language and breathing. We can then gain a submissive and attentive attitude and our partnership with our horse, will become more harmonious. Through a logical progression of training, we can encourage a calm yet attentive attitude from the horse. This will promote his physical progress in training as his muscles will be more relaxed and able to support fluidity within his movement. Tension from the mind of the horse will cause tension throughout his body, which can result in stilted paces with an increased risk of injury. There is much we can learn from our observations of a horse whilst moving in his natural freedom. The

Gadgets and tack that cause too much restriction may give an overall impression of a horse working in a correct ‘frame’ but submission can more readily be achieved from a willing horse who enjoys his work. A horse may begin to feel defeated, if he is not allowed to move in a manner that is more natural for him. It is so important within training to allow the horse to be a horse and enhance his nature and ability. The art is to ride the horse in his own natural balance, both mentally and physically with the horse carrying his own weight, in self-carriage and not leaning on the hands of the rider, When the horse feels restricted and unable to move naturally, he can become tense with an unyielding spine. The neck and poll area will become tight and fixed, as may the facial muscles of the horse. The horse may open his mouth as a resistance to the strength of the contact or just tighten the jaw to clamp against excess pressure on his delicate mouth. We can either help the horse to grow in confidence or, through a lack of understanding, allow the horse to become a fearful and anxious pupil. It is therefore our responsibility to learn to communicate in a language the horse understands.

When a horse trots about with his head in the air, looking all around him, there is no positive connection emotionally or physically with the rider. When two people are talking, if one is trying to maintain a conversation, whilst the other is distracted by children playing or noises coming from another room, there is no communication. Communication takes two: one to talk and one to listen and both should be prepared to change the sequence, allowing the other person to contribute to the conversation. Contact is the way a rider converses with a horse; a good contact, therefore, is when the rider is having a conversation with the horse during which neither becomes dominant. A horse has to be willing to take up an elastic contact with his rider’s hands without forging ahead and pulling. When a rider rebalances himself and takes a deeper inward breath, the horse should steady his gait to absorb the altered balance of the rider and thus lighten the contact. The rider then uses the lightened contact to allow the horse to work in self-carriage. THOUGHTS ON CONTACT A conversation or connection between two living beings requires: • a time to listen • a time to express thoughts or requests • the creation of a rapport or dialogue: information being both offered and received • a mutual desire to understand the feelings of the other party.

SUBMISSION CANNOT BE FORCED THE HEAD CONNECTION Close observation of the muscles of the horse whilst working will show us whether he is training with or against his true nature and ability.

Inspire leadership and trust in loose work

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I believe the only animals to partner a human to a competitive International level of training –are horses and dogs. It is interesting to watch the shepherd and the sheep dog work together through friendship, keen observation, instinct and mutual respect which is a sound basis for the training of any animal, including the horse. The

When a horse is moving freely, the first part of his body to move forward is his head. If, however, a rider restricts this forward movement with restraining hands, this will act like a brake, physically and mentally, and only serves to discourage the horse from enjoying forward movement. Confusion will ensue if a rider uses his seat and legs to ask for forward movement and then creates a barrier against it with the hands; the result will be an anxious and frustrated horse.

Submission is gained from the willing mind of the horse

NO ATHLETE CAN MOVE WITH FLUIDITY WITH A RESTRICTION OF HEAD AND NECK It is essential that our hands allow the unrestricted motion of the horse’s head and neck and do not impede the movement. The topline of the neck should arch and lengthen and not become ‘compressed’ and tight, which causes the back to become hollow. It will be impossible to achieve correct contact without sufficient energy. Contact is a way of containing the energy given by the horse, within the ‘sensitive’ hands of the rider. If there is no energy or desire to move forwards, there will be nothing to contain, only an artificial flexion of the neck. Some riders focus on ‘contact’, using their hands to pull a horse into an outline but a horse can never progress in training without sufficient energy. Many problems with head and neck carriage stem from a lack of engagement of the hind limbs, which prevents a horse from working with sufficient energy to propel his weight forward, thus making it difficult to maintain balance and cadence. When the powerful hindquarters create a flow of energy throughout the spine the horse can then become efficient in his movement. Training is not only about correct aids and position but very much about communicating with joy and feeling. A horse who is both confident and calm, and who trusts his rider for direction and leadership will be our rewards in training. USE POWER OF THOUGHT TO INSTIL CONFIDENCE AND CALMNESS

Health Care - Worming A horse will quickly perceive how relaxed or stressed a person is and the lightness or strength of his aids; a horse’s great sensitivity enables him to tune into mood, body language and voice tone and he will receive and transmit all a rider is feeling. A deeper awareness from the rider of his own state of mind, core stability and breathing can enhance greatly the empathy between horse and rider. The horse will more readily ‘melt’ into lightness of aids, where he might only resist the stronger leg and hand. The more we understand of the ways of our horse, the more subtle can be our communications. The horse within a natural herd environment does understand ‘submission’ to

another member of his ‘family group.’ The herd are motivated to live and survive together, demonstrating both assertive and submissive behaviour. If we understand the true nature of the horse, we can work with his character bringing more understanding of trust and friendship. This will help us to achieve both harmony and submission, enhancing our partnership within training and competition. Jenny’s book ‘RIDE FROM THE HEART’ and her DVD are available through. Jenny’s web site

New Hallmarq MRI at Alamo Pintado Hallmarq Veterinary Equine Imaging is proud to announce their standing MRI system has been selected to expand the extraordinary list of services offered by Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center, California USA, one of the foremost equine medical centres in the world.

that used for digital radiographs or other procedure requiring a horse to stand very still. Other MRI systems require full lay-down anesthesia, with its associated risks, but may provide advantages in certain cases such as those where the lameness is in higher joints, such as the stifle.

Some 4,000 horses come to Alamo Pintado each year, often as many as 30 arrive in just one day. Their owners come seeking treatment for a wide range of issues, from lameness to intestinal surgeries.

The ideal standing MRI case is where the problem has been localized to a specific region of the leg, and radiographs have not indicated a clear diagnosis. “The closer to the ground, the less sway in a standing horse’s limb, so hoof images are approaching 100% successful (98.5%), and fetlock images are close to that (96%) with our latest system,” explained Dan Brown, a veterinarian and Business Development Director for Hallmarq. “Regions higher up the leg can be imaged, but the results will be defined by how still the horse stays under sedation. To put another set of numbers to it, we see roughly 30% of radiographs able to give accurate foot diagnoses, whereas our standing MRI system offers triple that success rate at approximately 90%.” Dr. Brown concluded, “Alamo Pintado is a highly respected equine clinic, we are honored to be added to their array of diagnostic tools.”

Alamo Pintado already offers a comprehensive list of medical diagnostics and therapies, including a traditional high-field MRI that requires full anesthesia. In fact, Alamo Pintado is the first in the United States, and only the second globally, to offer both highfield and standing equine MRI. Carter Judy, DVM DACVS of Alamo Pintado said, “Our guiding mantra here at Alamo Pintado is to offer choice to our clients, which means we must offer a complete array of all the available technology, so that the ‘care team’ of owner and veterinarians can collectively treat the individual horse in the way that best fits his or her problem and situation.” In regards to having two types of MRIs, Dr. Judy explained, “We see the standing and high-field MRIs as complementary, sometimes the high-field is a better choice, but oftentimes the standing MRI is, for a variety of reasons, including rechecks, health screenings for race and performance horses that have no specific lameness, and those with potential anesthesia risks due to age, breed, and overall health. Offering both types of MRIs was simply necessary to provide a truly comprehensive array of diagnostic tools for our clients.” The Hallmarq MRI is an outpatient procedure, with sedation similar to

For further information contact Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging on (01483) 877812 or visit

Alamo Pintado Clinic

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 31

Health Care

New Treatment For Sandcracks Andrew McDiarmid, BVM&S, Cert ES (UHL), MRCVS Hoof cracks are a common cause of foot problems for all breeds and types of horses. Although the vast majority of vertical hoof cracks are superficial and do not cause any significant problems occasionally deeper cracks down the front of the hoof develop called sandcracks. These cracks can be particularly troublesome and are often associated with lameness (Fig 1).

sandcracks still requires four key elements:- that any foot imbalance is addressed; the horse is horse box rested for a period of time; movement through the hoof defect is restricted; and any infection is removed from within the wall. Restricting movement is the most important of these and unfortunately the use of fiberglass (or similar) products alone across the crack rarely gives enough stability for repair. This has resulted in the use of various devices to try to ‘knit’ the crack together including the use of small screws and wire, staples, plastic tabs, various suture patterns and clamps (Fig 2).

diameter drill piece (Fig 3).

3. The new technique for treatment of cracks involves drilling very narrow holes in the wall of the insensitive hoof capsule prior to placing stainless steel wire sutures are across the crack. This case was treated using this technique at Clyde Vet Group.

The wire suture is then placed across the crack as shown (Fig 4 & 5). 6. The ends of the wire are removed. The sutures can be tightened later if the tension slackens. The entire hoof defect (including the wires) can then be covered with a false hoof product if required.

1. Sand crack. A long standing vertical crack (sandcrack) to the front of the hoof. Note the long toe and concave front wall that typically accompanies these cracks.

A “true” sand crack starts at the coronary band and continues the full thickness of the hoof wall into the sensitive laminar area. This leads to hoof capsule instability with inflammation and often infection. Affected feet usually have a concave front hoof wall associated with a relatively long toe. The cracks once formed can be a recurrent problem and therefore challenging and frustrating for Veterinary Surgeons, farriers and owners to resolve. Methods to treat the problem The basis of treatment for any

Tightening the respective wires then closes the crack. If the wires become loose they can be tightened at subsequent dates (Fig 6).

Whilst undertaking this procedure you can visually see the crack closing.

2. One ‘traditional’ way to treat sandcracks is to remove the concavity and long toe and place a plate over the crack to create stability. In most cases the horse is then shod with a heart bar shoe.

A new method for stabilising of the cracks involves the use of stainless steel wire sutures and small backing plates. The technique requires the hoof defect to be cleaned and widened to check for any damaged tissue and remove any infection. The hoof either side of the crack is drilled with narrow

4. Following drilling the holes perpendicular to crack stainless steel wire sutures are placed across the crack. Note the backing plate that allows the sutures to be returned at 180 degrees across the crack. The plate also spreads the tension over relatively considerable area of the hoof.

The advantage of this method of repair is that the procedure is extremely strong and creates considerable stability whilst being relatively easy, cheap and simple to undertake. Additionally the wires are placed from opposite sides of the weak point and joined together within the defect, creating uniform tension across the crack. If your horse is suffering from cracks please consult your Veterinary Surgeon for further advice.

5. The wires are tightened with the foot non-weight bearing. During this process the crack in many cases visually tightens.

No foot, no horse Good hoof care is essential to the well being of your horse. The British Horse Society sees numerous cases of neglect where horses’ feet have not been properly taken care of. In extreme cases if hooves are long and overgrown they will prevent the animal from walking or even standing comfortably. Although this may be extreme, even the slightest neglect of horses’ feet can cause problems. Making sure that you pick out your horse’s hooves regularly can help prevent all kinds of ailments such as thrush, canker, corns and lameness. Horses should have their feet picked out 32 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

every day to remove dirt and to inspect the foot. They should also be picked out before and after riding to check that nothing has lodged in the foot that could cause problems. Hooves grow rapidly, especially in young (growing) horses and require regular trimming, at least every eight weeks. If the hoof is left to overgrow, problems will occur, such as cracking. Horses should be re-shod approximately every six weeks; failure to do so can result in discomfort to the horse, caused by the shoe pinching. Loose shoes and risen clenches require immediate attention from the farrier to prevent

possible injury. Some horses, for various reasons, have poor quality hooves and require specialist shoeing and remedial farriery. To prevent poor hoof quality it is essential that regular farriery visits are made. A dietary supplement to help hoof growth and quality may be required, but advice should always be sought from your vet or farrier as to which supplement to use. Horses’ feet are so important that it is imperative they are looked after carefully and thoroughly, so make sure you care for them regularly and find a

good farrier, as this will pay in the long run. Horses support a lot of weight on their feet which are a relatively small surface area. Lameness can be a problem if hooves are left uncared for and therefore, good hoof care is vital to the well being of the horse. The BHS Welfare Department are here to help with any equestrian query and are more than happy to give advice on all types of hoof care from the smallest question to the biggest problem, as the more knowledgeable owners become the less likely a horse will suffer. The Welfare team can be contacted on 02476 840517.

Health Care - Stunts - Training - Worming

TopSpec Provides Super Condition For Elbrich HORSE enthusiast Edward Lowdell struggled to keep condition on his Fresian mare, Elbrich during the winter months despite trying different feed regimes. Keen not to give up on his efforts and wanting Elbrich to look a picture of health ready for the competition season Edward turned to one of the equine nutrition advisors at TopSpec.

“I had spent ages finding the right feed to give Elle and although I’ve been bombarded with so many opinions of what I should feed her, the TopSpec feed she receives obviously suits her very well and I wouldn’t ever consider changing it. TopSpec multiple award winning helpline 01845 565030

After explaining the problem, she recommended I put Elbrich on to TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer, TopChop Alfalfa and sugar beet. “I just couldn’t believe the difference. Elle, as she is known at home, has changed beyond all recognition. Her top line has come back, her ‘hippy’ hind quarters are now rounded and her coat is very shiny. “I am over the moon about this as she is such a show girl and I was so worried that we wouldn’t be ready for any show this year due to her poor condition.


August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 33

Book Review - Training

Training the young horse: introducing a bit Heather Gwillim Not everyone agrees with riding with a bit and people have different opinions about when they would introduce a bit to their young horse. For me I think circumstances and the horse decide the issue. If you have been showing a young colt or stallion then most shows insist that they have a bit for safety. Under those circumstances the trainer has little choice if they wish to show the youngster. For me I like to introduce the bit once the youngster is lunging happily on two reins off the cavasson. I nearly always use an ordinary jointed or French link snaffle; however there is a huge variety of bits to choose from; some of them better anatomically designed then others, some made from different materials such as steel, rubber or plastic or vulcanite some have copper inlays or are made of sweet iron to help promote saliva. Every horse is different and some bits suit some horses better than others. There are lots of things to take into consideration, not least the shape and size of the horse’s mouth and thickness of the horses tongue. There are books written about bits and bitting and if in doubt

34 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

I would suggest you consult a loriner. It is a huge subject, but I prefer to keep everything as simple as possible, especially when introducing a bit for the first time. I like to have the young horses mouth checked by a good dentist before I introduce a bit, to make sure there are no problems, such as wolf teeth, sharp edges; or caps that have been displaced, but not come away. I then have a good look at their mouth to decide the size of the bit and check how thick their tongue is and how much room they have in their mouth in order to decide on thickness as well as size of bit required. If you have any doubts, please do get help as it is important that the bit fits the horse comfortably and is fitted at the right height in the horse’s mouth, as too high it will be up against the molars and pulling on the lips. Too low where the bars of the horse’s mouth have less flesh to protect them and become narrower and more sensitive and you will have the bit bumping on the front teeth, which will make the horse hold the bit in its mouth to prevent it bumping on the front teeth which is going to make it difficult for the horse to be able to relax its jaw and gently chew the bit

as it should. Personally I do not like to leave horses standing in the stable with a bit in their mouth or as some people do with a roller and side reins on the horse as well. I prefer to put some syrup or honey or molasses on the bit, which is on a very simple bridle with a brow band, no nose band because that complicates things unnecessarily. I then slip it on and put the cavasson on top. I then continue to work the horse off the cavasson as I have been doing before. I find as they are working they usually gently chew the bit, which is exactly what I want them to do. I continue working the horse on two reins with a saddle and a bit for some time. You will find that the youngster becomes very relaxed about accepting the bit, which I will put syrup or molasses on for some time to encourage him to mouth and chew the bit thereby relaxing their jaw and promoting a moist mouth. Along with

the lunging I will begin long reining, still off the cavasson. I usually ask a helper to walk at the horse’s head the first few times when I start long reining and you will certainly need someone to accompany you when you begin long reining your horse out on the roads. Even though you have already spent time taking your horse out and accustoming him to various things he is likely to meet in the future, when you begin long reining and your youngster is out in front without anyone alongside for support, you can have a very different reaction to things from them. Some young horses are bold and take everything in their stride, but others will react as if they have seen very little before and be quite nervous. Both reactions are quite normal and though one will take a little more work than the other you can still end up with a bold confident riding horse. I try to long rein them everywhere: up and cont. on p.35

The BHS Complete Manual of Equitation This book was first published in 1988 and this is it’s second revision. I have a couple of well worn earlier editions that have been close companions over the years. Much more than just the ultimate “bible” for students of BHS exams, the manual should be compulsory reading for anyone riding, teaching, or just interested in the art of horsemanship. This new edition begins with a brief precis of equestrianism through the ages. It is humbling to realise just how many thousands of years of study by great masters has shaped the way we ride today.

and passage - taught on long lines and ridden. The athletic development of the jump horse is also covered with sound advice on cross country training too.

The historical perspective gives way to a book of two halves: training the rider and training the horse. From the very first lesson to the art of riding tempi-changes, every chapter is written in an accessible language with valuable illustrations. The rider section progresses through choosing a riding school, to early lessons, through to jumping a course of jumps. Some of the most recent developments in coaching are discussed, e.g. the body shape of the rider and its effect on the horse. Issues with anxiety are mentioned and practical solutions offered. The horse section begins with the early training of the young horse and continues through to the high school movements of piaffe

Rowan Tweddle B.Sc (hons) BHSII (SM)

It is rare to find a book which can be equally as useful to the beginner rider who fancies “having a shot”, the career student training for BHS exams, and the competitive rider seeking to improve their understanding and execution of the higher level movements - but this book is it! Which presumably explains why it will be joining the first two editions in my over crowded bookcase...perhaps it will save me from ever adding more!

Insurance - Training cont. from p.34

down a step if available, over poles on the ground, past flapping plastic, past cars lorries and tractors, people riding bikes, dogs, washing lines, flower pots and everything else I can think of, as often as I can and certainly until the horse is passing everything happily. In fact just as you did when you first started working with your foal. You now re-introduce your horse to everything that is safely available to you as now the horse must be happy to face and go past everything without the support of a person walking alongside. Often things that have made your horse nervous in the past will also make him nervous again and a lot of things that he seemed happy about before will now be a worry to him. You treat everything in the same way as you have done before taking small steps in the training, always rewarding the smallest try from your horse and making sure each training session ends with a happy relaxed horse. If you need someone to walk alongside to pass something of concern or to stand by something that is making your horse anxious, then that is fine, but over time the person helping can stand gradually further away as the young horse becomes more confident. If you have someone elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s horse in to train there is usually a limit to how long they are happy for you to have the horse in training as they are paying you to start the horse under saddle. In cont. on p.36

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 35

Training cont. from p.34

those circumstances you may be limited in what you can teach the horse to be relaxed about though I do think that the minimum that is acceptable is a horse that is used to some traffic, dogs, bikes, bins, cattle, and sheep and washing lines. If you are training your own horse then there is no time limit and you can get them used to anything you feel may be an issue to you in the future. Ideally I would long rein my horse for a minimum of six weeks and would still be working in the manĂŠge as well as long reining out in the fields and some quiet roads. During the first three weeks I would, whilst standing at the horses head, take a gentle feel on the bit and

36 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

flex the young horse gently to the right and then release all pressure on the bit then gently flex to the left then release the gentle pressure. I would also take both reins one in either hand and gently squeeze one rein then the other maybe vibrating the rein a small amount then as soon as I saw the horse relax their jaw or chew the bit I would immediately release the reins as a reward. In this way you can teach the horse to relax their jaw before you start to use the bit to communicate with. When I felt the youngster understood how to relax their jaw and flex to the bit I would transfer the long reins from the cavasson onto the bit rings, about half way through a training session and then with someone

leading the horse off the cavasson, I would long rein off the bit for maybe ten minutes. You must be very careful when you start to work off the bit and only use gentle pressure, rewarding the horse by releasing any pressure immediately he goes where you have asked, with the help of the person leading, the young horse will learn quickly how to react to the bit. I do not use a noseband as the last thing I want to do is fasten the horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mouth shut as I want the horse to be able to chew the bit and relax their jaw. Once I have started to long rein off the bit I always have someone walking nearby, as I do not want to get into a situation where I have to pull hard on the young horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mouth causing the sort of discomfort that can start resistance to the bit. That is why I always like to do quite a lot of long reining off the cavasson

teaching the young horse basic steering and stopping from the pressure on the cavasson and even after I have started to use the bit to long rein off I still tend to do most of the training session off the cavasson. It is important to remember that the end result we are looking for is a happy confident relaxed horse that trusts the trainer because in the long run we are trying to produce a happy partnership between horse and rider. It is therefore very important that we take our time at every stage of training making sure the horse is mentally and physically prepared for each step or half step of the training we are teaching. Rushing or taking a shortcut now may get you a quicker result but, just like a house built on shaky foundations, problems will occur later.


August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 37

Horse Behaviour

‘Keep your horse between hand and leg’ Part 9 in a series by SUSAN McBANE discussing equestrian principles from the viewpoint of equine psychology and behaviour ANOTHER title for this article could have been ‘The Coiled Spring Principle’. Certainly for the last thirty or so years this has been a favourite idea of instructors, that we keep the horse contained between our hands and legs as though we have a hand on each end of a spring and can control the extent to which the spring is released or held in, and whether we release or block with one hand or the other, or both.

succession but not simultaneously. Yet to ride a horse between hand and leg like a coiled spring stipulates and necessitates legs and hands being ‘on’ at the same time. We often see clearly, live and in photos, spurs being pressed quite hard into a horse’s sides whilst the bit is being pulled back firmly enough to pull back the corners of the lips and often to shorten the horse’s neck and pull in his muzzle, often behind the vertical which is also wrong.

The unfortunate horse, who is between the Devil and the deep, blue sea, is played with like a spring – on, off, faster, slower, collected, extended – but with unrelenting, if varying, pressure from the rider’s legs and hands. The idea is that the rider creates the energy with the legs which should come through into the hands, which control and direct it, keeping the horse compressed for collection and released a bit for longer paces.

A better way

The idea is great to our human minds and sounds appealing to some, as though it puts almost the whole foundation of riding neatly and clearly into one idea. However, whoever formulated it, and those who follow it unthinkingly, don’t know that horses’ bodies and minds do not work like that.

The reason the ‘arc’ feel is required is because it is absolutely exhilarating to sit on – you feel as though you’re going to take off - and riding is supposed to be superbly enjoyable, otherwise why do it? Just as importantly, and judging by how enthusiastically horses go when taught how to do this and strengthened up for it, they feel the same way about it. It’s not long before they offer it up to the rider as though they are saying: ‘There you are. Let’s see what we can do with it’. (Purist scientists please forgive the anthropomorphism – but I hope you get the idea.) It must feel to them like being trained to dance or do gymnastics does to us.

Although the level of pressure may be varied somewhat, unrelenting pressure, which is what this is, generally makes horses heavy and dull. They become more or less unresponsive to the aids, both leg and hand, because the constant pressure has, in behavioural terms, desensitised them to it. No matter how much the horse gives, to the horse the rider keeps asking for more and, if he or she considers that the horse is not giving enough, they will usually actually increase the pressure, making matters worse. Surely it cannot be hard to understand how painful, confusing and distressing this can be to their horse? This series has covered ‘learned helplessness’ in more than one article but, basically, the horse whose rider aims to make him like a coiled spring sinks into this unresponsive state because, due to the rider keeping him between hand and leg in the coiled spring sense, he has learned that nothing he does removes the sustained pressure which, in some cases, can be seen clearly to be pretty hard or heavy. One of the most confusing and over-thetop things we can do to horses is to give overlapping aids – two or more aids, cues or signals at the same moment – because they cannot mentally deal with them both at the same time. They can come to understand aids given in quick 38 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

Let’s apply another way of thinking to how we want a horse to go. The best and most correctly educated and understanding horsemen and women want their horses powering from the back end in an upward, forward arc, light to legs and hands and co-operative but with minds and spirits of their own. This cannot happen in the coiled spring scenario for reasons set out above.

Just wanting to do something is not enough: you have to work for it but in the right way and the performance, and the knowledge that you are getting better and better, is your reward. In a sense, I think horses feel like this when they become stronger and better at their work and they certainly use their bodies in their new ways for their own ends, whether ridden or free. Another reason the arc feeling is necessary is because a slightly upwardly-arched back with engaged core muscles (a lifted belly) and muscled-up hindquarters and thighs (including the muscles inside the horse where we can’t see) is a strong structure for us to sit on, making it easier and safer for the horse to carry us and making him more agile because of his strength and balance, and more co-operative because he is lighter in front, and in our hands. Riding instructors often use a long whip to demonstrate to students how the horse should go, bending it into a rising

arc, the handle the lowest part (the hindquarters) and the thinner end (the spine, neck and head) curved round. Not only does this give the impression of two hands controlling the tension (the coiled spring again) which isn’t a good example, the instructors often don’t tell their riders how to achieve it. It’s no use demanding ‘More leg – and get his head in’ because that is NOT the way to achieve it and is coarse, crude riding, probably painful and the sort that sickens, frightens and distresses horses. No wonder so many of them dislike working in a manège. One of my correspondents said to me the other week about this series that she was beginning to see a common theme coming through in nearly every article and was (in the nicest possible way, she said!) getting a sense of déjà vu every time a new one came out. I can’t help it because the ‘from back to front’ way of going is not only the right way for a horse to go, proven both by classical masters and modern equine biomechanics, it’s also the cure for many physical and psychological riding and training problems. Worryingly, the widespread, modern equestrian principles this series is dealing with will never produce it and will never make a confident, secure, happy, co-operative, light horse. An equine gymnastic workout In case this is the first issue of ‘EquiAds’ you have picked up, or you haven’t noticed the ultimate, common theme, or are among those many frustrated riders who have heard again and again what they should be aiming for but haven’t had or found an explanation of how to achieve it, read on. Just going into the school a few days a week and walking, trotting and cantering around, riding school figures such as circles, serpentines, changes of rein, figures of eight and so on will not do it. That sort of work is fine for building up general fitness and balance although active hacking, fast work, and hill work if available, are needed to get horses athletically fit for disciplines involving jumping and galloping. They also greatly help dressage horses but very many dressage horses and riders only work in arenas. It is all a matter of balance and weight adjustment. Horses standing still tend to stand with about two-thirds of their weight on the forehand. When they start to move the weight naturally moves back a bit and, with gymnastic work and practice, the horse moves in horizontal balance, with a lighter forehand and more weight carried on the hindquarters. He will start to

feel lighter in hand, easier and more comfortable to ride and will be able to give you forward thrust but not yet the upward arc feel. The end result of correct work over enough time to allow the muscles and other soft (non-bone) tissues to strengthen in a schooled horse is that he carries still more weight on his hindquarters and you’ll start to get the feeling that his back end is pushing you forward and up and that he is a strong power source with self-control, balance and agility. He will also probably be more confident, brighter, calmer and interested in his own work because it is never too stressful for him and never painful or confusing. Depending on the horse’s age, conformation, physical strength and resources, his trainer’s knowledge and skill and her goals for the horse, this can happen starting with an unschooled horse in a couple of years and continue in development for several years to come. Bear in mind that the stallions of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna take about eight years to achieve their full potential, but most of us will not be aiming at their level of work. How to achieve it The type of work needed is that which, by its nature, involves the use of those muscles which will lift the forehand up and strengthen the hindquarters for weight-carrying and pushing power. The muscle groups used are those superficial and deeper muscles of the back, abdomen, loins, hindquarters and thighs. The movements to do are lengthening and shortening of stride within a gait; transitions between gaits from halt, to walk, to trot, to canter and back again; turns on the haunches/part pirouettes in walk and, if your horse is capable, canter; not always allowing your horse to cruise around bends but bringing his forehand round a little in front of the hindquarters so that he is, in effect, placing his forefeet in a little (even just one hoof’s width) from the track of the cont. on p.40


August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 39

Bedding - Field & Stable - Horse Behaviour - Horses for Sale cont. from p.38

curve; shoulder-fore and shoulder-in and –out and, again if you and your horse can do it, half pass. Pole work also makes a horse work harder and so use his body more, and can be good for lengthening and shortening the stride, engaging his brain and improving agility. The lateral movements given cannot be performed properly unless the horse moves his weight back to lighten the forehand and enable it to move easily. The other, non-lateral movements use the required muscle groups in their performance and strengthen the horse, enabling him to perform the lateral exercises well later. They, too, use those muscle groups so it’s a win-win situation. The rider obviously needs a balanced, classical seat, as described in recent issues of ‘Equi-Ads’ with the ability to sit correctly upright on her seatbones, not her buttocks, and be independent of her hands which must generally be sensitive and still, moving with the horse’s head rather than the rider’s movements. A good, classical teacher/ trainer will be a great advantage as will studying any books and DVDs by Sylvia Loch and ‘Riding Revelations’ by Anne Wilson (Black Tent Publications), also my own ‘100 Ways To Improve Your Riding’ and ‘Revolutionize Your Riding’ (both published by David & Charles) and ‘Horse-Friendly Riding’ (J.A. Allen).

Tips on technique

coercion of any kind.

Here are a few subtleties of rider technique which help. (1) Think of holding your shoulders very slightly behind your hips which seems to indicate ‘weight back a bit’ to the horse. (2) Keep your elbows on your hips and, on a light but ‘there’ contact, let your hands come back a little with the shoulders: this gives a different feel from actively exerting pressure on the horse’s mouth and gently asks him to balance better, come up off the forehand and not lean on the bit. (3) Encourage active hind legs, when needed, by putting your legs back from the hip joints, not just the knees, to give your aid: you’ll only be able to manage a little way which is fine, but the whole-leg approach feels much more stimulating to the horse and discourages you from ‘grinding’ with your heel – a very common fault which you may not have, anyway.

Instead, you will achieve, perhaps with the right help, a horse who has found the old classical maxim – selfcarriage on the weight of the rein. He will be balanced more on his strong hindquarters which will be ‘engaged’ or slightly tilted under bringing his hind feet a little further forward. His back and belly will be raised and his forehand lifted which, to help his balance, causes his neck and head to naturally stretch up and forward with the throat arched and free and the front of the face carried just in front of the vertical. Brilliant.

So, this is all achieved without compression of the horse’s body as though it were, indeed, a spring which it isn’t, without distorting his head and neck posture in and back, without bruising or cutting his sides with spurs or his mouth with the bit, without abusing his mind with conflicting, overlapping aids (keeping him between hand and leg) or frightening him with painful pressures, without throwing him off balance or even causing uncomfortable faulty action by being out of balance yourself and without

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40 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

SUSAN McBANE, author of 44 books and co-publisher of ‘Tracking-up’, has an HNC in Equine Science and Management, holds the Classical Riding Club Gold Award, is Publicity Officer for the Equine Behaviour Forum and an Associate (practitioner) Member of the International Society for Equitation Science. She teaches in Lancashire and neighbouring areas. For lessons, ring 01254 705487 or email her at horses@ Her website address is

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Arenas - Bedding - Field & Stable

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 41

Field & Stable - Horsebox - Property

Tyre Rubber Buckets Now Available from Tyre Rubber is naturally frost and sunlight proof and is non-toxic. Its flexibility means they are brilliant for everything from agriculture and equestrian use to building. The soft but strong material is extremely safe for all livestock. Available in the range is the absolute classic tyre rubber product, a superb feed skip, being both super flexible and strong. Available in Small - 11 Litres, Medium - 20 Litres and Large - 32 Litres. The Feed Bucket is a lovely shaped

bucket with a galvanised wire handle, available in 10 Litres. There is also a Hanging Portable Manger that will fit on the stable door, fence, gate, etc. The tyre rubber construction allows animals to lean on this manger without damage to manger or animal. Available in 15 Litres and 20 Litres. The Flat Back Bucket is a super strong, flat sided bucket for hanging on walls. The sturdy tyre rubber construction means this space saving bucket can also be leaned on without damage. Available in 17 Litres only. The Round Field Trough is a round tyre rubber trough ideal for feeding and watering horses and livestock. Available in 60 Litres only. Prices range from ÂŁ9.99 to ÂŁ25.99 For further information please visit

42 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

Saddle Fitting

Whose Saddle is it Anyway?! Part 2 of 3 by Lesley A Taylor Constructive Saddling vs. Defensive Saddling THE DESIGN FEATURES IN THE SADDLE Comparing some Constructive vs. Defensive design features Horse Friendly

Not Friendly

The tree shape at the front should look more like an inverted U shape than an inverted V shape.

An inverted V shaped tree is the shape of a muscle wasted horse.

The distance between the points should be relevant for an animal the size of a horse.

Many trees are narrower than a whippet! If a whippet width tree appears to fit, the horse definitely has muscle wastage!

The stirrup bars should not be recessed.

Recessed stirrup bars create pressure points. These will be exaggerated when the rider has their weight in the stirrups e.g. rising trot, jumping, galloping etc.

The front of the saddle, at the top, directly below the pommel, must be shaped so that it does not interfere with the rotation of the top of the shoulder blade.

If it is the wrong shape, the front leg stride will be considerably shortened.

The panels should be fairly straight from front to back and side to side to match the shape of a horse with healthy muscle mass and a healthy posture.

Angular, wedge shaped panels or curved, banana shaped panels are the shape of a horse that is likely to have muscle wastage, a compromised posture or both.

The panels should be soft enough to allow the long back muscles to fire.

Hard and/or lumpy panels tend to cause the horse to stiffen or hollow away from them.

The gullet between the panels should not get narrower than 2½” so that the spineous processes, ligaments and tendinous tissues that run along the middle of the horse’s back do not bear the weight of the rider.

If the gullet is too narrow, tissues can be bruised by the weight of the rider through the edge of the panels (this is exacerbated if the panels are too hard).

Constructive Saddling will only use saddles that have horse friendly design features. Defensive /Conventional Saddling will use saddles that have horse friendly and unfriendly design features. THE FITTING BELIEFS OF THE SADDLE FITTER Considering this brings us back to the title of these articles. First of all, let’s get clear about what is meant by the word ‘fit’. In Conventional Saddle fitting practice, it is used to mean, the particular way in which something (the saddle) matches the shape of something else (the horse). One can see that the word ‘fitting’ is appropriate for Conventional Saddling. Constructive Saddling respects the fact that, in order to use his body in the way nature intended him to when moving, the horse has to be able to lift his back out of its neutral, static state. When the back lifts it also changes shape and widens in the saddle area, so the saddle cannot match (fit) the shape of the static horse and therefore, the word ‘fit’ does not fit! We have to use a word like ‘work’ because we are more interested in function than fit. Defensive/ Conventional Saddling ignores the fact that the horse has to be able to move out of his static shape and width when moving, and instead, tends to use the horse’s static shape as its reference for finding a saddle that matches that shape. However, there are two main problems with this method of fitting saddles: 1. As we have previously said, the moving horse does not, or better said, should not, keep the same posture in his back as when he is static. So, fitting the shape of his stationary back means that, when he tries to lift his back up, pressure will be exerted under the points of the tree, cause him discomfort and train him to keep his back locked down. It also means that the blood supply to the muscles is reduced and this results in the muscles becoming atrophied behind the shoulders and hollows start to appear. The saddle will start to look too low over the withers as it drops into these hollows. The usual

remedy is to put more flocking into the front of the saddle to raise it up off the withers, but of course, this makes the saddle narrower, so over time the ‘hollows’ get deeper. 2. BALANCE has always called the place where this damage occurs the ‘Junction Box’, as there are muscles, nerves, blood vessels, acupuncture and reflex points which are all affected by pressure. Overstimulation of the Junction Box causes the horse to appear more and more dropped in his habitual posture, to the point that many ‘experts’ mistakenly label every sway back as the result of old age, or as conformation. Conventional/ Defensive Saddle Fitters often fit the saddle to the the shape of the horse that is presented to them, even when that horse has muscle atrophy, lack of muscle development, or deviation from good posture. When saddles are fitted to match the shape of the damaged, static back, the saddle itself can only contribute to further deterioration of the muscle mass and strength and corruption of good posture. This is how a healthy young horse can end up looking like the one in the photo! Constructive Saddling practice recognizes when a horse is in need of a Remedial Programme of Care to help him to recover to a healthy state and provides it. In the last of these 3 articles we will look at what benefits can be experienced when moving a horse out of Defensive/Conventional Saddling and into a Constructive Saddling approach like the BALANCE Saddling System. If you are interested in this subject and don’t want to wait until September, please do contact us and we can provide more information and answer more specific questions about the work we are involved in.

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 43

Saddle Fitting - Tack & Turnout

The modern rider is not afraid of challenging tradition and embracing new developments when it comes to equestrian kit and equipment, and with modern technology bringing ongoing improvements in terms of materials, it’s hardly surprising that synthetic tack has become a viable option. Aimee Cayless, technical advisor for the Tekna saddle range, looks at recent progress in synthetic materials and explains why leather isn’t the only option when it comes to saddles. Synthetic tack has come a long way in recent years with some modern

materials doing a surprisingly good impression of leather, both in terms of looks and performance. As an added bonus, a good quality synthetic saddle can be considerably less expensive than the leather equivalent and there are labour saving benefits to be had too, with aftercare often consisting of little more than a wipe with a damp cloth. With good quality synthetics it isn’t even necessary to compromise on design or features if you opt for a brand that offers a choice of seat size and tree width, plus the scope to adjust the flocking if required to achieve a perfect fit. Weight can also be a relevant factor and synthetic saddles can often come

Tekna Goes Pink for Ponies Tekna’s range of synthetic pony tack is now available in an eye-catching shade of pink. The top quality collection includes the cavesson bridle with raised browband and noseband, grip reins, headcollar, lead rein, tendon and fetlock boots, as well as the pony saddle and matching girth and synthetic stirrup leathers. The Tekna pony saddle comes in 14” to 15½” in three width fittings and features white piped detailing, movable

44 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

blocks, latex and wool flocking and a grip balance handle at the pommel. Tekna pony tack also come in black or brown for the less Tekna Pink Pony Saddle adventurous. Contact Westgate EFI on 01303 872277 or visit for stockists and information.

When choosing your saddle, look for a lightweight, flexible tree, plus outer and structural elements that are designed to maximise performance, durability and comfort; such as hi-tech breathable materials which are abrasion resistant. A decent guarantee period should also be an indicator of quality, as well as offering peace of mind. Even if you are prepared to spend serious money on a good leather saddle for your main riding activities, you may still think twice before investing heavily in a second saddle for other disciplines - for dressage or jumping for example. However, with some synthetic saddles passing easily for leather at first glance, they are a viable solution for the competition arena, and one that makes sound economic sense.

A saddle can be one of the biggest financial commitments you have to make, and if you choose quality and have your saddle fitted correctly it should prove to be a lasting investment. Should you want to forego the maintenance involved with leather and save yourself a bit of money into the bargain then today’s synthetic saddles are certainly worth considering. The Tekna Synthetic Range is distributed by Westgate EFI. Contact 01303 872277 for stockists and further information or visit

Tekna Dressage Saddle

Changing Tack?

out lighter than the leather equivalent.

SMART Native from Solution Saddles The new SMART™ Native saddle design from Solution Saddles incorporates all the advantages of our unique RigidFree™ saddle system, giving enhanced horse fit and providing maximum security and comfort for the rider. The newly developed base shape is specifically designed for use on the wider fit or traditional types such as Mountain and Moorland, Arab and Spanish breeds.

The SMART™ Native is available to order in either a GP or straight cut style. Special customisations are available on request. Home consultation & rental service available – contact us to try a SMART™ saddle for yourself. Prices from £2050.00 inc VAT smart@ 07738 711 099

Tack & Turnout

ShoeSecure During these tough economic times, constantly re-shoeing your horse can be a costly and time-consuming business. There are various reasons why a horse may need to be re-shoed prematurely and ShoeSecure has the solution.

Made from durable Polyutherane, the ShoeSecure Horseshoe Shield is designed to protect the horse’s hoof from the main causes of shoe loss by covering the hoof wall, part of the frog and the back quarter of the hoof plus the heels of the horse shoe. Available in various sizes and reusable (lasting for months), the ShoeSecure allows the air to move

freely around the hoof eradicating the risk of infection or fungal problems. Here is what some of their satisfied customers had to say about the product; “The ShoeSecure shoe saver is working brilliantly, no rubbing and it stays put. My farrier bill has been reduced quite a bit too!!!! Many thanks.”

“I am delighted with my ShoeSecures. My horse’s feet have improved dramatically as my Farrier has been able to balance the feet properly with enough heel length to give support, we no longer worry about the shoes being pulled off. ShoeSecures are fantastic.”

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 45

Saddle Fitting - Tack & Turnout

Requirements of a “life time” saddle When purchasing a saddle several factors need to be considered:

space on either side of the spine so that the panels do not interfere with the horse’s back muscles and ligaments.

The horse: The saddle should enhance the horse’s performance and never restrict it. 1.The panels of the saddle should smoothly and evenly distribute the weight of the saddle and rider on either side of the spine. 2. The panels of the saddle should be stuffed softly and evenly so it sits comfortably on the horse. Hard stuffing or lumps in the stuffing will cause resistance in the horse.

4. The pommel should allow suitable space for the horse’s wither. 5. The saddle should be designed in such way that it provides freedom to the horse’s shoulder movement. 6. The saddle should never cover the area beyond the horse’s last rib. 7. The girth should be fitted in such way that it does not cut into the horse’s skin or interfere with his elbow. The rider:

3. The gullet should allow sufficient

Time to check, it maybe time to Change? When was the last time you checked your saddle properly? A badly fitting saddle causes discomfort and can affect the free movement of your horse. Here’s our top tips to help

on the horses back. Are the panels smooth and soft? Check the panels for evenness and feel for lumps and hollows in the flocking. 2. Check for wear and tear especially the girth straps and look out for signs of a broken tree – squeaking noise or the saddle sitting lower than normal.

1. Look at your saddle when its not

New to the UK the Award Winning, patented air vest from Hit-Air! Worn by over 10,000 equestrians worldwide from professional event riders to happy hackers. The unique shape of the airbag creates a shock buffering system giving the rider increased protection to the neck, chest, hips, lower back, coccyx and ribcage. In the event of a fall 17 poppers release upon inflation to reveal airbags and give maximum protection. The vest inflates outwards rather than inwards so that it can be worn neatly over the body or body protector.

for a discreet look whilst riding. I am really excited about the new technology of the Hit-Air Vest. I have researched other vests on the market and believe that Hit Air is the Best. I feel confident that I will be more protected when I have a fall and believe that this is the way of the future” Phillip Dutton (Olympic Gold Medalist) The range include both ault and children’s sizes. To place an order or to find out more call: 0845 894 2868 or visit

“The Air bags are neatly tucked away Wide range of quality tack & clothing at bargain prices Spend over £50 for FREE Delivery 46 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

Kirsten Uhlenbrock

Saddles were originally designed to make riding more comfortable.

far forward on the horse, which will strain the horse’s forehand.

1. The saddle should sit on the horse in such way that it enables the rider to sit in the point of gravity. If the pommel is too high the rider is pushed against the cantle of the saddle. This puts his weight too far back for the horse and leaves him behind the movement. His knees will come up and he will find himself in a “chair seat” which makes it virtually impossible to swing with the horse’s movement or apply leg aids as his legs will be placed too far forward. The other extreme is a saddle with a too high cantle, which places the rider on his thighs, moves his legs back and will provide a highly uncomfortable ride. Besides, it places too much weight too

2. The seat of the saddle should correspond to the rider’s size and should allow approximately four fingers between the rider’s buttocks and the cantle. Less space in the seat will make it impossible for the rider to apply back/weight aids and with his buttocks reaching over the cantle it will place his weight at the back of the saddle and will make the horse uncomfortable as well. Too much space in the saddle will make the rider slide and insecure on top of the horse, especially in canter and again will cause discomfort to the horse.

3. Check the width of your saddle. The head plate must conform to the horse’s shape with the points lying parallel to the withers.

teaching our customers how to identify problems. If you have concerns about your saddle and how it fits your horse please call our advice line Tel – 01254 853 002

4. Clearance of the wither. There should be space between the underside of the pommel and the horse’s withers. This may well be 3 fingers or in the case of a close contact saddle just 1 ½. 5. The gullet should be at least 3 fingers width along the length of the saddles flaring out at the front. Saddles Direct are passionate about correctly fitting saddles and about

cont. on p.48

We hold the largest stock of quality used saddles in the UK and offer a free 3 day trial service so our customers have time to try the saddle and get the saddle checked before they buy.

A Perfect Fit? It Has To Be Ideal! The Ideal Saddle Company produces an extensive range of general purpose as well as specialist hand-made saddles with over 40 designs in standard width fittings plus a bespoke service. The saddles are made using traditional craftsmanship combined with modern technology such as the Pliance Pressure Mapping System and gait analysis from Centaur Biomechanics.

(SMS) and every detail of each order is assessed by a qualified fitter before a craftsman is selected. For further information contact The Ideal Saddle Company on 01922 620233 or visit

Said Liz Leggett, of Ideal Saddles: “The key to choosing a saddle should firstly be to ensure that it fits the horse correctly as well as the rider. Secondly, be sure to choose a design that is suitable for your chosen discipline, ie: a single flap saddle to provide close contact with the horse if you do a lot of jumping, or one with a deep seat for dressage.” The Ideal Saddle Company is a member of the Society of Master Saddlers

Liz measuring up for a saddle

Saddle Fitting - Tack & Turnout

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 47

Saddle Fitting - Tack & Turnout cont. from p.46

3. The pommel needs to allow sufficient space for the horse’s wither but should not be so high that the rider cannot place his hand comfortably above it. If his hands are positioned too high the line from the rider’s elbow over his hand to the horse’s mouth will be broken and a soft contact is impossible. Most modern saddles therefore come with a cut-back pommel. 4. The saddle flaps should go beyond the top of the long riding boots to prevent catching them. On the other hand they should not be too long as placing the leg in a relaxed position will be impossible. 5. The knee rolls should be placed in such a manner that the rider’s knees lie comfortably against them. This depends on what type of saddle you choose. If you opt for a jumping saddle the knee rolls will be placed further forward to enable riding with shorter stirrups. Equally for the dressage saddle the knee rolls often will be less dominant and the saddle flaps will be cut much straighter to allow the rider to adopt long stirrups and ride with relaxed legs (e.g. no gripping) In dressage saddles it has become fashionable to provide a deep seat, which means the cantle is heightened and provides the rider with a “more secure seat”. Unfortunately this comes at the cost of not being able to move in the saddle when applying seat/weight aids. Very dominant knee rolls are another development seen in dressage saddles for the same reason to provide the rider with a more secure seat, but again allow him less freedom as well. Knee rolls on jumping and eventing saddles should be thicker as one needs the support to tackle obstacles. A newer development here are rolls behind the rider’s legs, which are particularly useful when going cross country. This summary of facts surrounding saddle fitting is comprehensive but totally disregards one important factor: Horses and riders come in various different shapes and sizes. Off the shelf

saddles usually come in minimum three saddle widths: • Narrow • Medium • Wide Depending on the quality of the saddle manufacturer this covers roughly 80% of all horses. A medium fitting (27) Passier saddle will allow a comfortable fit for a narrow/ medium, medium and medium/wide horse. Other manufacturers allow less adaptability. This touches the next important factor: Horses change during their ridden life. A recently backed horse will develop more muscles as his education progresses and the saddle should allow if not encourage muscle development. A horse which has been off work will lose muscles and might, when brought back to work, be narrower. A saddle should allow for this as well and this should be possible by either amending the stuffing or in more serious cases by adjusting the tree. More modern saddles do allow for this, but require a qualified saddler to do so. Furthermore warmbloods in particular have changed their shape over the past twenty years and most horses nowadays have a less defined withers and are much broader. This has provided them with more shoulder freedom and their movements have become more stunning. At the same time a broader horse will feel less comfortable to the rider, especially if the rider is rather small. The “narrow twist’ is the answer to this issue. Even though the horses have become broader the narrow twist still allows the rider a close contact. The less defined wither has also resulted in straighter backs, which have been tackled with the “French” panel, which is a triangular piece of leather inserted at the end of the panel. Another trend has triggered saddle manufacturers’ attention: People are increasingly looking for alternative breeds, such as the Icelandic, the Friesian, Quarter horses, Appaloosas and any type of “Barrock” horse, all of which are broader and have less

withers. Most horses are more compact, have a shorter back, which provides better engagement of the hindquarter and makes the back stronger. This results in less space to fit the saddle. At the same time the population in general and riders are no exception, has become heavier, so saddler manufacturers are faced with larger riders on shorter coupled horses. While horses have developed towards smaller saddles riders have developed from 16.5/17 inch seat to the now more common 18 inch seat. Some saddle makers have provided “off the shelf” solutions with saddles specifically designed for this (Passier Optimum). Conclusion: The fit of the saddle should be checked regularly!

3. Have a saddle made to measure. This can be quite costly with some firms but provides the most perfect fit. There are of course options such as the treeless saddles, which in general provide good value for money and are certainly a very good alternative for the “happy hacker”. There are all sorts of models and makes around and many people are very satisfied with them. I am personally “old fashioned” and prefer the traditional tree, because it provides a more secure fitting if done well.

Three possible soluitions: 1. Opt for an economy priced saddle and anticipate that it needs to be replaced when the horse changes. This might be a good option especially when backing a young horse as he might cause damage to the saddle. This, however, will only work if: The saddle fits the horse properly and provides sufficiently soft panels to encourage muscle development and if it fits the rider as well. Economy saddles usually lack in the quality of leather, so after some years the saddle flaps might start rolling around your legs. The seams are less well manufactured and might dissolve over time. Watch that the panels are evenly stuffed and sufficiently soft. The trees are mostly synthetic and reasonable sturdy but less sophisticated.

Last but not least Western and Australian Stock saddles are worth mentioning. They are generally much easier to fit, cover a broader area of the horses back and can provide really good results on horses who have had bad experiences with traditional saddles, but do keep in mind: These saddles are not close contact saddles, their padding is much thicker or you will find yourself “on top of the horse” rather than sitting “in the horse”. For long distances, back problems of horse and rider they are fantastic and they can assist the less experienced rider to stay on with a lot more confidence. Kirsten Uhlenbrock MindBUZZler Ltd.

Backprotection of the highest Degree EquiAirbag® is the brand new generation for the rider’s safety. It solves one of the big problems of safety for riders in an elegant and perfectly easy way while protecting the spine of the rider. Also it offers a lot more flexibility even for a safe fall. It prevents the head being thrown back and it doesn’t push the head forward. The waistcoat is worn above the usual riding gear (total weight is only 1400

48 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

2. Opt for a good make of saddle off the shelf either used or new. Invest in properly fitting it. Even when purchasing a secondhand saddle, if you are not confident yourself consult a saddler. Good new saddles will cost approximately £1500 and used ones can be picked up from £300 onwards, but stick to quality here.

grams). The opening time of the airbag is 80/85 milliseconds. That is shorter than the reflexive reaction of humans who need 100 milliseconds. That means that you cannot see how EquiAirbag® is inflating because it is too fast! You can use it in daily practice while riding without any difficulty. Therefore it is perfect for competition or training. The colour of EquiAirbag® is black (S, M, L and XL). EquiAirbag® is available from MindBUZZler Ltd at http://shop.

Insurance - Saddle Fitting

Treeless Saddle Fitting The different design of a treeless saddle Essential Accessory: Treeless Saddle Pad can result in the saddle being long in its appearance from 18.5” to 24”. When placing Horses need a pressure free zone above it onto the horses back it is important to withers and spine regardless of the type of bear in mind that in the absence of a weight saddle. Treeless Saddles with a flat underside spreading tree, the weight of the rider is felt by are the easiest to “fit” as the special Numnahs the horse directly in the area under where the called Treeless Saddle Pads form an adapter rider sits. The weight bearing area is between for various shaped horses. Dream Team pommel and cantle. Even if the saddle still Products offers over 25 different pads for all reaches further over the horses back, there kinds of horse shapes to ensure the saddle is no weight bearing as the rider is not sitting can sit level on the horses back. It is a very on top of the cantle pressing it onto the horse, economical way to “fit” one saddle to a flat nor on top of the pommel. The weight bearing backed horse or a high withered horse, just by area equals pretty much the size of the rider. changing the saddle pad. So a relatively long saddle can be placed on the horses back if the size of the rider is not For any questions please ring the treeless ADCOL_20 Aylesbury 100x75:ADCOL_20 Aylesbury 100x75 30/06/2011 10:11 Pag too big for the horses back. saddle helpline on 08456 731 737


but not everyone knows we do horse and horsebox insurance.

We do.

Call 01296 436142 for a quote or pop into the office to talk to Virginia Stollery & Simon Parker at NFU Mutual Office, 1 Alton House Office Park, Gatehouse Way, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP19 8XU. Agent of The National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Society Limited.

We do right by you

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 49

Saddle Fitting - Tack & Turnout - Training

A fresh approach to saddle fitting Ill-fitting saddles show up in many different ways â&#x20AC;&#x201C; slipping, rolling, movement at the back or pinching of the shoulders. Horses tell us that their saddles are uncomfortable in lots of different ways as well. They might be grumpy and snappy when being girthed or be unwilling to move freely forward, especially when first mounted. Tightness in the back, restricted movement and rubbed patches of hair are also signs of a problem. Finding a saddle to fit both horse and rider is a real challenge and many horse owners settle for something not quite right. Now All Saddle Solutions can change this. Their saddles are different to others on the market, offering flexibility, comfort and value for money. Each saddle is tailor made to horse and rider, and through the use of innovative design technology and either flock or Flair Air Adjustable System,

50 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

alterations and subtle adjustments can be easily made to ensure the perfect fit. These saddles can be altered to accommodate changes in the horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shape due to age, condition or fitness, making an A.S.S saddle an investment that will help your horse have a long, happy working life. Contact Claire on 07970 558437 to discuss your requirements and solve your saddle problems! visit the website

Tack & Turnout - Tried & Tested

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 51

Events - Field & Stable - Healthcare - Training

‘Monty Rides Again!’ Autumn Tour 2011 Monty Roberts, recently honoured by the Queen, will be back in the UK this Autumn to educate and inspire audiences across the country. A World Champion ‘Hall of Fame’ rider he will show how great Western riding relates to great English riding as well as workinh with previously unseen horses. Audiences will witness the ‘Language of Equus’ and see how

“Monty tours the UK helping owners and horses face their fears and learn to trust each other. Audiences leave with the knowledge that will help them for many years – an inspirational evening for horse lovers and equine novices alike!” Western Daily Press

Monty’s techniques are as relevant for riding as they are for groundwork in order to create a safe and willing horse. There is a special Early Bird Ticket Price enabling buyers to save up to £10 per ticket. For more details go to www. or ring 01488 71300

Big Discounts at Eccleston Eccleston Equestrian Centre was established in 1987. They offer a complete Equestrian Service to clients with the best tuition, training and livery facilities in the area. They are offering big riding lesson discounts July & August

Stable Environment Mags Roxburgh started Stable Environment because she wanted to produce products that worked effectively. With a back ground in the hair and alternative therapy industry she felt she had the tools to achieve this. Once she got the products suiting her own animals, she then gave them out to vets, and friends to try on their animals as well. Experimenting on Harry, a rescued Shetland pony who was covered in “Sweet Itch” helped Mags realise the benefits of Neem oil. His skin repaired over night and by the following summer

52 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

he was looking great. Mags brought the product out that she had designed around Harry, “The Ultimate 2in1 Fly repellent & Skin Tonic” and it is their best seller to date. Wanting to help other animals Mags decided to get involved in animal welfare, hence Stable Environment’s involvement with Animals in Distress and the company donates at least 10% of company profits to them. For more information or call 01422 310483

Their dedicated staff are all British Horse Society qualified. Offering lessons for beginners through to advanced riders requiring help with competitions.

They also have a wide range of horse types with very quiet horses and ponies for beginners to horses working at Medium dressage and jumping. Training for BHS Exams and courses for children are available. Kids parties, Camp and Horse / Pony Loans. Full / part Livery is available Tel: 01772 600093 Email: karen@equestrian-northwest. Web:

Classical Riding - Field & Stable

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 53


Is Natural Always Best?

Anne Wilson

It is generally best to emulate nature as much as possible when caring for our animals. Feeding horses little and often, with plenty of fibre best imitates their natural way of grazing for many hours per day. Giving plenty of turn-out with other friendly equines, satisfies their need to move around and socialise with their own kind. These are just two of the ways that we can use Mother Nature as a template of good horsekeeping; there are many others. However, those readers who regularly follow my articles will know that not everything ‘natural’ is always best. It is natural for horses to suffer the hardship of hunger and cold weather in the winter, causing them to become thin. In the natural course of events, the sick or elderly members of the herd would die off and only the young, fit animals would make it through to the next spring, when they will have a chance to regain their condition from the spring grass. Even those that do make it through the winter, usually suffer long-term premature ageing because of the hardship endured. There may be some justification in allowing this to happen in the interests of breeding for strength and hardiness (only the fittest usually breed), but it is neither ethical nor kind in a domesticated situation. Horses in the wild do not live long, healthy lives, as our domesticated horses can, and usually do. So, I think we should start from the viewpoint that we are not keeping horses for the survival of the fittest and the species in general, but for the survival and well-being of the individual. Stabling –v- Field Keep Many domesticated horses do live happy, healthy lives outdoors, especially hardy ponies and cobs. This is providing, of course, they receive good care from their keepers; including man-made shelters, adequate food and water supply, attention to worming, foot and teeth care, etc. This is absolutely fine until there comes a time when the horse needs to be stabled for veterinary care or under extreme weather conditions. If the horse has never been stabled before it can be extremely stressful to suddenly be confined, even in a large loose box. This is where, in my opinion, the ‘natural brigade’ go far too far. I have often heard in latter years “my horse goes mad when stabled, it’s cruel, they suffer from claustrophobia and it’s unnatural, and all horses should be outside”. It is not cruel and horses do not necessarily suffer from claustrophobia. They suffer stress from new or unusual circumstances, which a stable represents if they have not experienced it before. Some horses, who are stabled most of the time, can find being turned out in a field stressful for the same reasons. It’s 54 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

all a matter of striking the right balance and doing what’s best for the horse. Because there often comes a time in the life of most horses when they need to be confined to a stable in their own best interests, I believe that all horses should be accustomed to the practice for a short time each day for perhaps a couple of months, so that they can become relaxed about it; even if they are to live out henceforth. If the time ever comes when they need to be indoors because of, for instance, a foot abscess, tendon strain, laminitis or over-weight likely to lead to laminitis, etc., then it is far better that it does not come as a shock to them. Some horses take longer to acclimatise to being stabled than others but patience may well pay off one unfortunate day. Shoes or Bare Foot? These days there are a large number of people who prefer to keep their horses without shoes and barefoot farriery has become popular. I have nothing against this in principle, but as in many aspects of horsemanship, it is often taken too far. Horse shoeing was invented for a purpose – to save working horses feet from breaking up under the rigours of work, especially on hard surfaces. The structure of the horn obviously takes a lot more wear when either pulling a weight behind them (which puts a lot more weight on the forelegs since they pull with their chests) or carrying a weight on their backs. The strength of the horn varies from horse to horse. Some breeds tend to possess harder and better shaped feet than others. Thoroughbreds tend to have softer horn than say native

“My horse Lucy, giving a lesson in lightness to a mutual friend. She is so light in front at this moment, there is no need for contact with the rider’s hand. She is flexing her jaw, engaging her hind end actively, and showing obvious delight in her use of the bit. It takes many years of careful, patient training to reach this stage, but is what all good riders aim for. She is also working very happily whilst shod in front but not behind.” ponies. Some horses have relatively flat feet and when ridden on stony or rough surfaces can suffer with sore soles or abscesses. These are the horses which are normally much better off with well fitted shoes. My view is that lameness may be a natural phase for a horse to go through when first unshod, but it is definitely not a desirable one, and should be avoided at all costs. It can usually be avoided by re-shoeing by a good farrier. Some horses carry out light work perfectly well when unshod, providing they have their feet regularly attended to. Most farriers would probably agree that in an ideal situation horses feet are better without shoes. But, and it is a big BUT, very few horses possess ideally shaped feet, especially on the front. If they are to carry out any appreciable work, even if on a smooth sand surface, they are better off with shoes, at least on the front, in order that their feet can be in better balance. Sometimes they need the heel lifting or supporting by a carefully made and placed shoe, in order to avoid undue strain on the joints and tendons. It is quite acceptable to shoe a horse in front and not behind if this is best for his

particular requirements. For instance, some elderly arthritic horses, find that the process of having shoes fitted behind is very uncomfortable, since fitting a shoe requires them to hold up the hind legs in an uncomfortable position for much longer than merely trimming the foot. In most cases the holding of the front legs for shoeing does not pose such a problem and in these cases shoeing in front and trimming behind works very well, since most of the wear and tear on the feet happens on the front. Even though good training and an ability to collect helps a great deal in the horse’s ability to carry weight behind, the fact remains that a greater proportion of weight is (at least for most of the time when the horse is wandering around and relaxed) on the front legs. Also it is normally the front feet which are most in need of the help in shaping and support that shoes can give. Bitless Riding The contact with the bit should be of assistance to the horse, and when accepted by him with a truly flexible jaw, should be an enjoyment to him. Flexing of the jaw can only happen correctly Cont. on p. 56

Dentisty - Feeding - Field & Stable - Insurance - Livery - Tack & Turnout

August 2011 - Equi-Ads - 55

Directory - Field & Stable - Healthcare - Training Cont. from p. 54 some considerable way into the training programme, when he has learnt and is capable of, flexing the joints of his hind legs and taking more weight behind. This acceptance and ultimate enjoyment of the bit should be the aim of all good riders and trainers and is never going to be attainable if the horse does not wear a bit! However, there is nothing wrong in riding in a bitless bridle if, for some reason, the horse cannot comfortably take a bit in his mouth. This may be a temporary situation because of dental problems, or a psychological/physical problem because of bad riding in the past having damaged his mouth and given him a bad experience. Many bits are fitted too high in the mouth and this is often accompanied by the mouth being clamped shut by a tight noseband, making the desirable movement of the jaw and ultimate acceptance of the bit, impossible. Some riders and trainers actually believe that the bit should be still in the mouth. This is completely wrong; not just in my opinion but that of all the great classical masters throughout the centuries. The horse should be encouraged to gently ‘chew’ on the bit, creating a healthy salivation, which comes from the horse freely flexing his jaw, i.e. not being forced to do so. In most cases (apart from those where there is permanent damage to the mouth), the horse can eventually be persuaded to accept the bit after much gentle and patient good riding from a knowledgeable rider in a bitless bridle. Remember, however, that bitless bridles, such as hackamores can be extremely severe in their action on the nose and poll; depending on how they are fitted. They should be used with tact and possibly not relied upon whilst hacking on the road.

I am not an advocate of permanently riding only on a head collar, which normally results in the horse slopping along on the forehand all his life, with a hollow back; damaging his chances of a healthy old age. There are some brilliant riders who can ride a horse in beautiful self-carriage in just a head collar or even without anything on his head, but this takes many years of careful training and is something which most of us mere mortals may never attain. Conclusions I would opine that the answer to the heading of this article is a resounding ‘no, natural is not always best’. Stables, bits, shoes and saddles with trees, were all invented for the purpose of making life more comfortable for the working horse, and we should not turn our back on centuries of good horsemanship without carefully considering the possible disadvantages of the alternatives. Modern science has given us an insight into the principles of better care, veterinary treatment, etc., but there are of course the many natural remedies and natural ways of feeding which can keep the horse healthy and happy, which should also not be ignored. I try to keep the best of the old and natural, whilst embracing the best of the new. Anne Wilson, who is based in Bedfordshire, is a Classical Riding Trainer trained by Sylvia Loch. She is an author and co-publisher of Tracking-Up, a quarterly independent equestrian magazine, obtainable by subscription (see the advert in this issue). Also author of ‘Riding Revelations – Classical Training from the Beginning’ – Anne can be contacted on Tel: 01234 772401 website: www.

Non invasive, natural Sarcoids treatment now available... Using a non invasive approach, Forest Farmacy has created an innovative way to rid the body of Sarcoids. Research has shown that Sarcoids thrive on an acidic internal state, so alkalising the body from the inside stops the virus from feeding, making it harder for them to grow and establish. Organic Horse’s Power Against Sarcoids is an alkalising herbal concentrate containing Alkanet Root, Titanium Clay, Fenugreek and Homeopathic Thuja 12X. These encourage the body to produce an alkaline state, strengthen the immune system, support the body’s natural defences and make the bowel lining as resilient as possible. Laura Munson tried Power Against Sarcoids with her mare Rosie because 56 - Equi-Ads - August 2011

she wanted something that would eradicate the Sarcoids in delicate areas without an aggressive approach. “Since using Power Against Sarcoids, they have shrunk dramatically. The Sarcoid on her ear, which was very obvious, is barely noticeable and she is far happier about having her ears touched! I would highly recommend this product.” Power Against Sarcoids also works on other lumps and bumps and has shown to help reduce melanomas. The RRP is £32 for a 6 week supply. For more information, tel: 0800 970 9421 / 07736 282 729 or visit www.

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South East Andrew Reilly Saddlers Spoods Farm, Tinkers Lane, Hadlow Down, East Sussex TN22 4ET. Tel: 01825 830484. East Regular worm egg counts can save money! 6-8 weekly spring through autumn £5 each. Church Farm FEC or 01728685638

Equi-Ads August2011  

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