Hoofprints on your heart biomechanics... what does it mean to the horse owner
with shaun dillon
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Vol 42-5 February/March 2021
4: Hoofprints On Your Heart by Karen Watson
Defined as a different kind of special, a Heart Horse is one that has truly captured your heart. The path to that special connection occurring can be varied, as highlighted by the readers who shared their unique heart horse stories.
10: Developing the Partnerships with Hayley Beresford
Described as a transitional year and the beginning of the ‘real work’, the program for the five year old horses at Eiserner Hof continues with preparation for higher levels of training and competition. Hoofprints on Your Heart
16: Kardinia Clydesdales by Wendy Elks
A third generation breeder of working Clydesdales, Darryl Wiltshire runs this well known Stud with his partner Junita.
20: Training Tips - Cross Country with Shaun Dillon
Eventing specialist Shaun Dillon shares his top tips for success, including the importance of keeping it simple, straightness, being prepared and riding with your head.
22: Stones in Your Horse’s Urinary Tract
by Dr Jennifer Stewart and Equine Veterinarians Australia Training Tips - Cross Country with Shaun Dillon
While not a common problem, and associated more often with male horses, the presence of stones in the horse’s urinary tract can lead to pain and infection, and the risk of life threatening complications.
27: Cleaning the Legs and tail
Once any underlying health problems have been ruled out there’s a number of things that can help to keep a horse clean if they’re prone to a messy back end.
28: Biomechanics by Dr Raquel Butler
So what is biomechanics and what does it mean to the horse owner? Quite a lot if you’re looking for answers and ways to improve your horse’s health and training. Cleaning the Legs and Tail
35: WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I FIND TERMITES? by Rhiannon Brown
36: Stable Dangers by Liz Tollarzo
38: All Season Arena Maintenance by Wendy Elks 40: Trees in the paddock by Celine Bønnelykke
42: Herbs to motivate your horse by Catherine Bird for Country Park Herbs Stable Dangers
February/March 2021 - Page 2
Trees in the Paddoc
Fillies that are colts and colts that are fillies
The feeling that seems to be prevailing across the equestrian industry as we settle into 2021 is cautious optimism. Many have indicated that their values and life-pathways have changed, and what they considered as highest priority in their lives previously has, in many cases, dropped down the list. Work-life balance has moved to top position for many, primarily due to Covid-19 forcing everyone to reassess their lives and priorities. In many cases, our horses benefited from this, and it will be interesting to see if we can sustain the determination to have a more balanced lifestyle, while still managing to keep our horses in the style in which they are accustomed. One aspect of our lives that has changed is how we purchase, read and educate ourselves and our horses. Increased webinars for everything from veterinary conferences to training clinics are now the norm. Competitors and participants are now heading to events across the country. Clubs are signing up new and renewing members and, while some agricultural shows will not be going ahead this year, many are, including the country’s biggest, the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Equine businesses are reporting that they’ve seen an uptick in enquiries and sales, in fact some say that they are busier than ever, which is good news and an indication that positive retail conditions and rising consumer confidence across Australia is being reflected in the equine sector as well. The interests of participants span across many different equestrian pursuits, interests and goals, along with the circumstances that allow for it with family, work, study, budget, time and commitments. For the vast majority of these participants their reason for being a part of the equine industry stems from one primary factor, their love of horses. Some of us are lucky enough to find that one special horse, the one that earns a special place in our heart. This is explored in Heart Horse, a feature this issue that will undoubtedly resonate with many of you. We wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous rest of 2021 from the Hoofbeats Team, and welcome you on our 2021 journey. Managing Editor: Sandy Hannan Advertising: Tracy Weaver-Sayer Graphics Michelle Quinn, Jacqueline Anderson Produced by
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Sleep Depravation - crazy horse or just tired?
Riding Aside Rather than Astride
Please Explain with Mary Warren
45: PLEASE EXPLAIN
Dressage Coach Mary Warren explains what an independent seat is and how to achieve it.
46: Riding Aside Rather Than Astride by Kit Pendergast
While few riders attempt it, despite the elegant and alluring connotations associated with it, riding side saddle has been an appealing and challenging option for a number of riders in this country.
52: Fillies That Are Colts and Colts That Are Fillies by Gene Che Yan Lee and Allison J Stewart
When a foal’s sex is indeterminable or confusing, when they possess physical features of both male and female, they are referred to as a Hermaphrodite, or intersex.
55: Just Hermie
Reader Kellie Parker shares the story of her home bred horse who was discovered to be a hermaphrodite when weaned.
56: Becoming a Relaxed and Balanced Rider by Sarah Futardo (Warne)
To allow a horse to find its own balance and to achieve a balanced seat it’s important that the rider works on developing a strong core.
58: SLEEP DEPRiVATION - crazy horse or just plain tired? by Dr Tom Ahern Sleep is essential for a horse’s health and well being, so how can we ensure our horses are getting enough?
Regular Features: 62: News 65: subscribe and go in the draw
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COVER With 2021 now well underway, it is a good time to look to our horses’ welfare. Sleep is often overlooked in our equine management, but a lack of it can compromise your horse’s health and performance. February/March 2021 - Page 3
by Karen Watson
On Your Heart February/March 2021 - Page 4
s owners we are committed to all our horses, but there can sometimes be one that we develop such a strong bond with that it transcends the usual horse/human relationship. These are known in the industry as ‘heart horses’. Just the fact that the word heart is included says that this bond can be tumultuous and intense but also satisfying on a much deeper level, something that we may not have expected nor experienced before with a horse.
Most horse owners appreciate the qualities of their horse and feel a connection with it. They enjoy providing it with the best they can afford, whether this be the most up-to-date saddlery, rugs, feed, transport vehicles and the like or simply good quality, basic equipment that suits the activities they wish to pursue. Either way, most people would say that owning a horse is a satisfying pastime and that the experiences they have are very enjoyable, whether this is competing, trail riding, social riding or even just having them as a ‘paddock ornament’ to be cherished and treated to pats, brushed and perhaps asked for the occasional groundwork. Compared to other horses, a heart horse is defined as a different kind of special, as this is the one that will truly capture your heart. And this can happen regardless of whether it is a brumby, off-the-track Thoroughbred, a Shetland pony or a Grand Prix dressage horse. Whether they become a heart horse also depends on factors such as the environment they share with us, the depths we’re willing to go to explore the potential of the relationship and the level of accountability within it.
Horse owners say of their heart horse that they are like no other they have owned, been partnered with and dreamed about. They are able to love it unconditionally and feel like there is a mutual understanding, respect, admiration and trust. A heart horse, they say, challenges you and changes you, seeming like they are giving you lessons in compassion, consistency, fairness, emotional control, patience, bravery, loyalty and self-analysis. It also seems like something magical has happened and that the horse has become part of you. You feel like the luckiest person in the world to have them in your life.
discipline and so on. The least we can do to repay these beautiful souls for just being themselves and teaching us so is to give ALL of them the very best we can.”
A Captive Heart
So if a heart horse means one that truly captures your heart, does that mean we don’t love our other horses? No it doesn’t because we all know that there are different kinds of love and they are all important. In human terms, we may love our friends, neighbours and workmates but those aren’t the same as the relationship one has with a life partner. That relationship is often forged through adversity financial struggles and differences of opinion so it’s not always easy or smooth but it grows stronger with time. It’s similar to the relationships we have with our horses. We probably love our broodmares in a
On the other hand, some disagree completely with the term and concept of a heart horse, as they feel as if all horses are worthy of that title. One of our readers, Kathryn Dite, shared her thoughts;
‘To me, it’s a bit like choosing a favourite child. I believe that every horse that comes into our care deserves to have a special relationship with their owner/trainer/ rider. That is, they should all have the opportunity to be a clean slate, to be heard, understood and appreciated. If we have a blatant favourite, a one-and-only, loveof-our-life heart horse, what happens when it passes away? Doesn’t that make things a little unfair for any other equines that come into our lives? When we buy a horse, the choices are all ours. It will live here, do this
We are capable of caring for and loving more than one horse, even if one is our ‘heart’ horse and that ‘bit’ special. Sharon Bettany with Larry and Reggie. “Reggie has now gone unfortunately, but I still love him like crazy.
We asked horse owners from around the country to let us know if they had experienced the phenomenon of a ‘heart horse’, and the response was overwhelming. Their stories showed that special connections between horses and humans do happen and will be remembered long after that horse has passed on. A selection of these are included in this feature, and we thank everyone for sharing their ‘heart horse’ story with us. February/March 2021 - Page 5
Maxine and Bliss
Maxine’s Palouse filly Bliss was involved in a paddock accident when she was three weeks old in which she sustained a severe rope burn injury; “It took months of treatments and TLC to heal then she injured that same spot three more times. All the time spent watching and treating her over two years has given us a strong bond and her wellbeing is always on my mind. She seems more human than pony now and my family sometimes get fed up with my obsession!”
Love At First Sight -
Kellie’s Freisian gelding, Alchy, was orphaned at two weeks old and hand raised. His breeder, Katrina, held onto him until Kellie had finished university and they have been together ever since; “He’s now ten years old and there is nothing I wouldn’t trust him with. He’s done 40km bush rides, been sashed at Royals, achieved Level Two dressage, jumped and even roped a wooden cow recently as we start to learn about Stockmen’s Challenges / Extreme Cowboys. He never fails to make my day and I’m so proud and grateful to be his person!”
Eleven years ago, Kristen was diagnosed with melanoma, has struggled with it ever since and is very lucky to be alive. During that time, she was too unwell to continue riding and any energy she did have went towards her 13 year old daughter and her riding. That was until her mum intervened; “Fifteen months ago, my mum (she always knows best) decided that I needed ‘something’ in the paddock to call my own, a horse that could either just love cuddles, pats and brushes in the paddock or one I could take on the world with. In November, she found Stormy and the love I feel from him is so refreshing for my heart. We have only known each other for a few months but he is definitely my heart horse.” Daring To Dream
Although it might sound contradictory, it is also possible to have more than one heart horse if the intensity of the relationship is there and the criteria of ‘capturing your heart’is met. It’s a bit like the human romantic experience of falling in love, as you might have more than one partner during your life who fits into this intense category.
Soul Mates For Life
Kellie and Alchy
A Horse For Healing -
different way to our top competition horse, the ‘roughie’ that we haven’t really gotten to know yet or the retiree that is living their days out in our paddock.
Chelsea and Gladdys
On the recommendation of a friend, Chelsea contacted Jennie, the owner of Gladdys (Gladdys Van De Breemeersen), to enquire about leasing her; “We met at the farm where Gladdys was spelling and she walked straight up to me in the paddock and put her head on my chest for a cuddle. Despite having heard a few stories about her, some good and some not, something just told me to go for it. I have found her to be very trusting if I keep calm and she gives me so much confidence, and allows me to grow as a rider every day. In a short time, we have won three showjumping classes and placed in six. When you say heart horse, I know Gladdys is mine as, even though she doesn’t belong to me, we have a bond that is so very rare. She reminds me of the dragon in Game of Thrones, in that if you do wrong by her, she will burn you! But if you love and respect her, she will give you wings and so much love.”
One way of describing the innermost feeling you may have with a heart horse is that it feels like your soul compliments that of the horse, and that their presence ‘makes your heart whole’, very much like the human concept of a soul mate. It seems like life is complete when you’re together and you can’t wait until the next time you can see each other. They are the ones that are always on your mind, sometimes almost to the point of obsession, even though you might have many positive interactions with other horses along the way. And when you’re in tears and hunched up in a corner somewhere, you know they’re there for you.
Looking at the human psychological principle of a soul mate, it seems as though there are many life-lesson factors in common with growing the human/ heart horse relationship. These include feeling like “it’s something
inside”, meaning an emotion that can’t be put into words; “you just get each other” and that you “fall in love with their flaws”. In psychological terms, it’s a case of feeling like “you two against the world” , which perfectly
A heart horse can also seem like it is looking right through you, exposing your vulnerabilities and challenging you to become a better person. captures what we experience with our heart horses, along with feelings of security, mental connectedness and not being able to imagine life without them. When we learn these things with our heart horse, they can only improve our ability to manage our human relationships.
Taking Up The Challenge Heart horses are often not the most expensive, well trained or competition experienced and can therefore present lots of challenges. Some are quite feisty and there can be broken gear, kicks, bites, broken bones and falls as many of our Reader’s Stories attest to! They seem to know your ‘buttons’and do push the boundaries with these! On the other hand, when it comes down to
A Trusting Partnership - Dimittee
Dimittee bought Indiana, now a nine year old Standardbred mare, sight unseen in 2016. She was only about five months off the track as a four year old and, when she arrived, Dimittee says she knew she was going to be her heart horse pretty quickly. Their bond has grown stronger over the years and now they do everything with so much trust in each other; “Indiana loves having a job to do. She is very forward thinking and gives me a challenge here and there. She makes sure I’m paying attention to her and just being around her makes me feel happy. I feel that she really likes giving me the best that she possibly can and she tells me when she isn’t at her best. I love her a lot and still can’t believe I have my dream heart horse.” Off The Track Success - Cheyenne
Cheyenne has had a long history with her heart horse, Great Wall of China (aka China). He is the first off-thetrack horse she has ever had or trained herself. When he was retired, after winning many country cups, she competed on him up to 1.10m in showjumping and in showing, barrel racing, polocrosse and Pony Club; “He’s my ‘do it all’ boy and I love him so dearly. He’d always have his moments and would sometimes throw me but he’s the horse that made me the rider I am. He created my passion for off-the-track racehorses and I would never be where I am now and have done the things I have if it weren’t for him. He’s now happily retired on 120 acres and has absolutely found his forever home.”
The Power Of Patience
Stress Release -
Diane and Kassi
Diane always dreamed of breeding her own horse, so she sent her Thoroughbred mare, Ruby, to Magic Moment, a Friesian Warmblood, the result being her heart horse, Kassi, “I’ve been through quite a few stressful periods in my life and, at one point, was living in a tent in a friend’s backyard but no way could I have given Kassi up. She was always there for me, putting her head over my shoulder and grooming my back while I cried into her. I’m constantly amazed at how well she can read my body language and emotions. And when I look her in the eye, it’s like I see and feel a part of myself in her.”
- Ros And Cobby
Ros says that while she has gone down a difficult path health-wise with her gelding, she would do it all again if she needed to; “I was given Cobby four years ago. He has a club hoof then had a tendon injury, meaning that we had to do thirteen months of rehabilitation. This included in-hand walking, vet checks every month, farrier visits, physiotherapy and massage. I also did clicker training with him, including teaching him to put his hoof on a limestone wall so I could massage the tendon area. Very slowly, we built up his walk then trot. Now we enjoy going out on bush rides and to the beach and just spending a lot of time together, his favourite being the days where I will spend 30 minutes just brushing him. I look forward to every day that I see him, those little nickers when he sees me just warm my heart. I have his heart and I’m sure he has mine.”
Heart Horse continued...
The Challenge Of Covid
Lena And Cav
Despite having owned Cavanagh Tashar (aka Cav) for only 10 months, Lena says that he is truly her heart horse, having already helped her through a very hard time due to Covid-19; “Cav knows when I’ve had a bad day and need affection or what to do to make me smile. Recently, during the Mid-Level 4 Metro Melbourne lockdown I was struggling with my mental health and he seemed to know what I needed to deal with it and that helped immensely. Things like he trotted over once while I was cleaning his water trough then I stood up and he nuzzled into me like he understood what I was going through. I look forward to his nicker that I get no matter how many times I go to the paddock in a single day.” Rehabilitation and Recovery -
Michelle and Hermosa
When she was about to retire as a jockey, Michelle bought her Thoroughbred mare Hermosa at the Magic Millions yearling sales in Adelaide. She showed plenty of potential in her first preparation then was sent for a spell. That’s when things took a turn for the worse; “She completely opened up a hind leg and her hock, to the point where you could see the bones. Vets in Adelaide initially told me I would have to put her down, so I took her to Ballarat Equine Hospital where she had surgery. Almost immediately after this, she started walking the stable even though most horses don’t weight bear that soon. Then there was nine months of rehabilitation before she was able to be ridden and she even went back to winning races! Her nickname is the Grey Shark, which not only means that she doesn’t like other horses in her personal space in the paddock, but also that we have had to change riding clubs due to her behaving the same way under saddle, despite her improving at each outing. To me she is just what her name means, beautiful girl in Spanish, and the journey she¹s taken me on has been amazing.” A Fiery Redhead - Linda
Linda says that when she first went to look at Quilla, her chestnut Paint-bred mare, she was drawn to her curiosity and confidence. But as she was soon to find out, this confidence bordered on opinionated! Early on, the partnership had a series of unfortunate events including the side of Linda’s new Hi Lux being smashed in, a saddle tree broken, bruised ribs and fractured bones in her feet. But now, after six and a half years, they have formed a strong bond; “Quilla is such a generous and connected partner that has made me think outside the box and taught me a lot about myself, including how to manage my own energy and emotions and to be very clear about my intentions. I’ve been mindful of creating a willing horse by asking her, not making her. She constantly makes me laugh and I feel such joy in our partnership.”
it, they will give you their all and are definitely worth persisting with, as it is often more about the journey, not the victories. But some of those unusual personality quirks heart horses have are also why their humans love them so much.
Not everyone can relate to the heart horse idea. Many have not experienced this feeling yet and perhaps may never do so. Those who have been lucky enough to already find a heart horse say sometimes it’s ‘love at first sight’ but other times, it sneaks up on you and your heart is captured by its quirkiness or “just something about it”. But whatever it is, you truly feel like this horse changes your life for the better, in a different way than any other.
Growth and Learning With a heart horse, sometimes the process of learning and growing together is what matters the most and that is usually done on a deeper level. Many people who own them say that they have taught them a lot about themselves, these being in addition to the lessons already mentioned. They include concepts such as not giving up, that working hard pays off and how to stay calm even in the worst of situations.
Follow Your Heart Sometimes what turns out to be a heart horse is purchased intentionally, being selected with the utmost care out of hundreds of others. But there are also many heart horses that were accidents, like the one you were asked to ride while you were in between horses, a short-term prospect you just couldn’t bring yourself to sell or a horse someone gave you because they had nowhere else to go. And sometimes they appear, it seems, out of nowhere when we least expect it. So, keep your heart open ... your special horse may be just around the corner.
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Developing the Partnership As five year olds the horses at Eiserner Hof, Germany - the home of Australian Olympic rider, Hayley Beresford and her partner, Jule Fehl - start more consistent work in the continuation of their journey of preparation for the higher competition levels.
Part four of the series
he program at Eiserner Hof, for our 5-year-olds, is relatively easy, providing a good foundation has been laid the previous two years; the horses are all less complicated having previously learned the rules, routine and the daily requirements expected of them.
But: Attention! This is a transitional year, it is the beginning of the real work. As three- and four-year-olds, the horses spent more time in the fields growing up and being horses than in the dressage arena. This is the year they become our partners. Now we start to work them more consistently, developing work ethic and sculpting their bodies into the form we need for our sport. Dressage enthusiasts would know that in the competition arena there are literally hundreds of horses competing in 5-year-old classes, but at the 6-year- old classes there is only about 50% of the previous year’s participants. The goal here is to show you how we bring our horses successfully through their fifth year: learning the new material, developing the more mature posture and paces required and ensuring that both of these points pave the way for the development to the higher levels of training later on. Firstly though, I would like to revisit a point made in a previous article,
“What are the weaknesses and what needs developing?” You must be familiar with your problems, both in the horse and in the rider, and be determined to develop these as a priority because these problems are what will stand in the way of progress. This is the rider’s and the trainer’s responsibility and must remain at the forefront of any training plan, because although I may push forward with new material in each article, please remember that this is strictly a guideline only. Like children, some horses develop faster or slower than others. Pressure can be good, but it must be fair, and the horse must always understand. February/March 2021 - Page 10
The importance of ‘posture’ Posture was introduced to our 4-year-olds, and continues throughout this year, and the rest of the years for that matter, but this year we add the ‘gearbox’. It’s time now to develop the paces and find the ‘second’ trot, if you like to call it that. Although the 5-year-olds are still growing and developing in their bodies, they are now normally mature enough to play with the posture and paces more.
Have the big picture in your mind as your goal, but always be responsible for reading your horse’s needs, and always be aware of what the overall goal is.
Introducing ‘NAOMI’ - a 5 year old One of our 5-year-old residents of Eiserner Hof, is Daintree. ‘Naomi Campbell’, as we call her at home is a 2016 born mare by Diamond Hit. I bought her with a dear friend from Australia when she was just six weeks old and, looking back over the past 12 months (her 5th year), her development is pretty cool. Naomi has grown a good three cm in that time, and developed muscles, power and strength. I have not competed her very much; once as a 3-year-old, once as a 4-year-old and just once as a 5-year-old to assess where we were at. I really enjoy training her and, as I’m not pressured to sell or over-compete her by an owner, I can train her as I like, with a Grand Prix vision firmly in my mind.
Our new expectations for the 5-year-old in the competition arena are: • To be in the ring alone • All sitting trot • Transitions - trot, halt, trot • Extensions and collection in walk, trot and canter • Stretching in trot and ‘uberstreichen’ (giving the reins • for 3-4 canter strides to demonstrate the horse can • maintain self-carriage without depending on the rider’s hands) in canter • Transitions - canter, walk, canter • Counter canter • Walk pirouettes • Halt and rein-back Ok, so none of this is rocket science and shouldn’t be overcomplicated, however, managing this in a way that develops the horse for the competition arena, whilst thinking about the importance of these exercises as being the basis of what is required and expected of the horse in one year’s time as a 6-yearold (and then beyond), is what is important. Every one of these exercises is actually a stepping stone to bigger things!
Naomi as a FOUR-year-old
Goals for THE 5-year-olds: 1. Posture and ‘Gearbox’ development. 2. Continue to develop the groundwork: manners, partnership, playtime, piaffe. 3. Continue to develop the fun times: hacking out, race track, jumping, rewarding ‘off’ time. 4. Teach and develop the new exercises expected in the 5-year-old competition, ensuring the horse understands how it should react and use its body in each exercise, how it should be able to manage this in the competition ring and that both horse and rider understand how to manage the new exercises in a way that they are simply the foundation for the next steps moving into 6- and 7-year-olds. 5. Compete to assess the reality of where you and your horse’s training is.
Naomi as a FIVE-year-old
February/March 2021 - Page 11
Developing the Partnership cont...
Posture and Gearbox This is a super fun stage of any horse’s development and is dependent on the abilities of the horse and of its rider. As you can see from the two pictures of Naomi (previous page), her posture has almost entirely changed between the ages of four and five. She has always had a correct and punchy hind leg action and she has a wonderful connection between her neck and shoulder. This conformation really helps, but she does have a very compact barrel space and short back and this does play havoc with balance and connection. This is her weakness and we spend much time working on balance exercises to help this.
Noting what needs to be improved in the horse’s natural posture helps the rider to design a training program to improve these weaknesses. As a baby, Naomi’s paces under saddle were somewhat conservative, quite small and normal actually. Her walk was good, her trot was small and she tended to run rather than adjust her body, and she spent more time in cross-canter than in real canter. Her character is what I call perfect for a sport horse; she is super spicy and has ‘sass’. Stubborn and overly sensitive sometimes, but she would work for hours and hours if you wanted. Taking all her characteristics into consideration, I have worked her with a hugely varying program throughout the year. Handwork, gallop track, hacking, double lunge, cavalettis, and dressage arena. In the dressage arena she has trained quite hard (around three times a week) consolidating her paces, connection and balance. Literally millions and millions of transitions, forward and back in all paces and in between paces. She has developed the strength and understanding now to really push and carry, although it took some time for her to accept my leg in a positive way. I like my horses to travel alone and understand that when my leg comes on it means ‘zoom’ in front of me, without running away.
Transitions, straightness, self-carriage, changing of frame from stretching to connected uphill are all important in every session of foundation training. I ride a lot of centre lines and quarter lines as I like my horses to be comfortable between my aids and not dependent on the fence. Very early on, my horses understand shoulder-fore posture and I always ride and teach my riders to feel where the horse is under them. One of my favourite sayings is,
“Keep the outside hind foot under your saddle as your centre point, and make sure your helmet is perfectly above that point at all times.” February/March 2021 - Page 12
Pictured here is Naomi again. This horse is such fun to play with in-hand. She is spicy and gives me everything and she literally ‘plays’ with me. I only need a bridle now with her- no girth or side reins. She does this work in her own balance, without restriction. When you take your time to allow the horse to understand what you want and be proud of what they achieve, this work can be a good refresher for their minds, a great strengthening workout for their body and core and just a good change to the weekly grind. And Naomi’s reaction to me when I tell her how amazing her last piaffe was (see image on the first page).
I also often say, “The rider must see the line they are riding through the ears of the horse so as to ensure that the horse and rider are in sync”, which means let the horse’s nose be in front and do not over-flex it. The most important saying is, “The rider should always keep the inside hind foot coming up under their inside stirrup.” Inside leg is your gas pedal and your horse must always be in front of that leg- not running away, but always in front. When training I am continuously looking for these feelings and repeat the exercise often to ensure that this becomes the comfort zone of my horse. Once you can be together in balance with your horse in this posture and be aware of where you and your horse are in all paces and through the paces, the exercises like shoulder-in, leg yield, travers and half-pass don’t even need to be taught. They simply become an extension to the posture questions you are asking of the horse. These lateral exercises are the key to your connection and suppleness. Another saying I like is “Suppleness is only as current as the current training”. Suppleness doesn’t just stay with the horse and rider - it must be managed, trained and worked on consistently. I would also like to point out my strong belief that a horse must not, should not and will not lose any quality of the pace while training lateral work. This training, when in balance with good execution and timing from the rider, should only improve the quality of the paces!
Groundwork Mondays at Eiserner Hof continue to be a day of groundwork. We do different things with the horses, depending on what they need, how we feel, etc.
Introducing Uwe, a student not a professional rider. Uwe, and his best friend, Dreamy. Uwe has been training with me for some years now. I want to show readers that you do not need to be a full-time professional rider to achieve what we are doing, just dedicated to riding in a system that is uncomplicated, fair and logical. Uwe is a successful engineer by day, with his own company. Horses are his free time passion. Dreamy is relatively new on the scene, purchased by Uwe last summer. When Dreamy arrived, he was a little behind the eight ball in his training, but as he is simply huge, it’s great that he has not been pushed too early in his career. We have caught him up relatively quickly now. Uwe trains with me twice a week, he did one little competition in the summer to assess where we were at and now we are developing him towards the 5-year-old competitions. Dreamy is a beautiful model. Super lines, huge paces, cheeky character that loves to learn and work, and simply a stunning looking boy. His weakness is that all three paces become too big and hence too slow. We saw this first in walk when he tended to become lateral if either Uwe or he were tense or too strong. The trot can become too big and wofty toward a fake passage, forcing his hind legs backwards and his distribution of weight to be unbalanced, and the canter is just huge by itself, making self-balance sometimes of a challenge Continued for Uwe.
February/March 2021 - Page 13
Developing the Partnership cont... We set about very quickly adjusting both mindset of rider and horse. Transitions and self-balance were key, as was having him in front of the leg with quick reactions over the back. Uwe has not been allowed to hang-on, hold, or cheat as I often say, “Show me the ugly so we can fix it!” Leg yielding became very important in helping Dreamy not to brace his body and the quick transitions, without restrictions from the hand, have really shown how quickly a horse can improve as soon as he has to take responsibility for his own balance.
Leading with the leg opposite to the direction of the canter. If the horse is in countercanter to the right it is cantering with a left leading leg and left bend.
With Uwe and Dreamy we introduce counter canter to the baby 5-year-old. Unlike many of the exercises that develop automatically as we work on our horse’s frame and posture, counter canter can be It’s ok when the nose comes a little sometimes easy and sometimes difficult for A good active and balanced counter forward, note that Uwe turns his body horse and rider to execute well. As three-yeacanter. to follow the right counter canter. olds, we are happy when we get the horse around the arena in canter and in balance without disuniting, running off, or collapsing back into trot. As the centre line, then a 10-12 metre volte in the corner with giving 4-year-olds, we concentrate on making the canter big and small inside rein. If that box is also ticked, then they proceed on the and turning and stopping, but heaven forbid if they cantered on short diagonal toward the counter canter line. Allow the nose the wrong lead... and now, suddenly, we want them to canter forward to begin with, so the horse finds its own balance, and on the wrong lead! Hahahhahaha, wait till next year when we you as the rider, please just get out of its way. Sit in balance, expect them to skip as well! don’t pull, lean, or hold your breath. Its just canter guys! As you approach the wall, gently navigate around. Most horses don’t In saying that, counter canter is very important. It is imperative like to be flush against the wall to start so give your horse a bit for the balancing of a horse, adjusting the canter forwards and of space so it doesn’t feel trapped. back and positioning the frame and body of the horse. Counter canter is the beginning of preparing the horse for flying changes This may take a few attempts to begin with, and that’s ok. But the and I simply love the exercise and incorporate it into the warmmistake must be that the horse is allowed to break back to trot; if up time of all my older horses daily, as it really helps the he’s making flying changes or bracing, then you are interfering suppleness of both sides of the horse. in the balance. Sometimes I take a light seat, a bit like a jumping rider, until the horse understands that the question is not too We introduced counter canter to Uwe and Dreamy about three difficult. Once the concept is understood, then a few repetitions sessions ago. Like most riders, Uwe pulled on the inside rein, held later, both rider and horse realise it’s just canter on another line his breath and royally stuffed it up on his first attempt. Doesn’t and you can reintroduce riding the canter in a posture and with matter, we walked and talked about it a little before we tried again. adjustability. So first things first, we need a canter that is adjustable. Just because we introduce a new exercise doesn’t mean we stop applying what we have been using to develop the posture. Position your horse correctly. Can you move your horse forwards and relax back so he uses his back well? Is the outside hind foot • Ensure you as the rider are centred with your weight under your saddle? Is your helmet directly above that outside • As the rider, you should rotate your upper body, without hind foot when it comes under? Is your horse’s inside hind foot leaning, so that you are still in sync with the posture of your under your inside stirrup? And here is the most important point: horse and following the lead of the canter Is your horse’s nose in front and in the middle of its body? I hate to see riders hanging on the inside rein, thinking that will stop • Do not over flex your horse to the inside the horse making a mistake. It won’t help you guys, so please let • When you come out of your counter canter, ensure that the go of your inside rein. horse is straight in its shoulders and in correct posture. More Once I know I have a good, adjustable and balanced canter, I often than not, riders and their horses finish the counter like to have a rider ride the centre line so they are independent canter very crooked. This must be managed very early and is of the wall; this can be difficult enough. Once they can master vital in the development towards flying changes.
Points to look out for when training the counter canter are:
February/March 2021 - Page 14
A slight straightness correction and then a big reward and pat before a transition to trot. So, off you go guys, give it a crack. Remember, mistakes don’t matter as long as your horse knows no fear or punishment. Always repeat when it doesn’t work but know what you did wrong and have a plan for how you’re going to fix it, and reward often so that your horse becomes proud of its work.
And here’s the most important point: Don’t over do it. If your horse has achieved what you have asked, pat it and put it away or move onto the next question because doing something over and over and over again is just confusing. Next issue we will move on with some of the exercises of the 5-year-old test, but for now I think we have achieved enough. So, big pats guys, lots of sugar and carrots and keep up the good work.
February/March 2021 - Page 15
clydesdales by Wendy Elks
KARDINIA STUD IN VICTORIA EST. 1966, where horsemanship and love are cornerstones of a family tradition
aryl and Junita Wiltshire are the current owners of Kardinia Clydesdale Stud; Daryl is a third-generation breeder of working Clydesdales, carrying on a legacy started by his grandfather, George Wiltshire, immediately after WW1. A returned Light Horseman, George worked his 160acre soldier allotment at Undera, in Victoria, with every farm’s basic necessity - a team of heavy horses. He loved these magnificent animals, as did his son Jeffrey, who from the age of three sat on his father’s knee, helping to drive them.
h Daryl Wiltshire wit (Lenny) nd ge Le ht lig on Kardinia Mo
Jeffrey absorbed his father’s fine horsemanship and his mother’s dedication to the care of the farm’s animals. Known for staying out with a sick or weak animal until it was improving, no matter how long it took, she instilled in her son kindness and respect for the animals in his care, especially the generous and hard-working horses.
registered Daryl’s father Jeffrey Wiltshire with his first mare Kardinia Rose and foal Kardinia Duke
STUD HISTORY When he took over the farm in 1966, Jeffrey founded Kardinia Clydesdale Stud on the family property. His first purchase was Valmont Dot, a mare from George Cox’s prominent Valmont Clydesdale Stud in the Victorian Mallee. Dot was in foal to imported stallion, Balwill Print. Valmont Dot produced four fillies in succession, giving the new Kardinia Stud an excellent beginning. Four colts from these early mares were kept as stallions, and teams of the Kardinia stallions and mares working side-by-side became a familiar and unique sight at shows and festivals. By now Jeffrey’s young sons were living a life that the youngest, Daryl, describes as ‘growing up in the 1800’s’. “It was a wonderful childhood, one that had basically disappeared and we were privileged to experience,” he says. All the boys became competent horsemen at an early age. Daryl’s brother Robin now
lives in the US at Turtle Ranch, training the famous Budweiser horses. Daryl and Junita took over Kardinia, and because the ageing Jeffrey preferred a quieter life they moved the stud to their property at Tongala, near Echuca. Junita is an enthusiastic partner and, Daryl says, the star trainer and preparation expert. She handles the foals from day one and prepares the horses for shows and festivals.
BREEDING AT KARDINIA Foaling is a hands-on business, before, during and after the birth. “A Clydesdale mare’s placenta is very tough and often doesn’t break during the birth. If no one’s there to assist, the foal can suffocate, as oxygen ceases to pass through the placenta once the foal is born. The helper carefully breaks the bag, if it hasn’t already broken, and the foal is immediately positioned near the mare’s head prior to her rising to stand, so the
two can begin bonding … this is very important. Then you leave them alone.”
Clydesdale mares also don’t ‘clean’ (eject the placenta) very easily; in a high percentage of cases it needs to be extracted by the vet. The foals also may need help to start drinking, though this, Daryl comments, is fairly gender-specific: “Fillies have a stronger sense of what’s what and find the teat pretty quickly, but the colts are a little … dumb … about it.” Colts also tend to retain their meconium, the foetus poo that’s ejected soon after birth. Drinking quickly assists this process; if meconium remains in the body, it can cause problems. Twins
Heavy horse breeds have a special kind of majesty. People find their size and power breathtaking and their gentleness endearing. The Clydesdale horse is the best known heavy horse in Australia, and was imported and bred here in great numbers to help to build towns, roads, dams and work the land in devlopng Australia. Traditionally between 16 and 16.3 hands high, stocky and very strong, it was a useful size, versatile, and mild in temperament.
After being on the endangered breed list in recent years, the impressive and gentle Clydesdale is resurging in popularity, as a traditional working horse and crossed with finer types to create smooth and steady riding mounts. Breeding any horse is a great responsibility and large horse breeding an exact science that’s best left to experts, as both mare and foal require special care. February/March 2021 - Page 18
) and Daryl and Junita with Valmont Liberty (Libby nong Show. Dande at ) (Lenny d Legen light Kardinia Moon
Kardinia Today Despite the fact that heavy horses are specialised and somewhat expensive to keep, the phone rings several times a week with enquiries from potential buyers. “There are basically two types of Clydesdale buyer,” Daryl says. “Those who want the modern, larger type that is popular for showing, etc. and the the traditional smaller type for harness, pleasure and riding.” are also common in Clydesdales, but there are enormous risks to a twin birth, so mares are scanned regularly to ensure that this isn’t happening. It’s a huge responsibility and never to be taken lightly. At Kardinia breeding is a labour of love undertaken with great consideration, for the mare and for the future of every foal produced. “We have a complete history of each foal and we love to keep up with where they go and what they do when they leave us.”
Kardinia Clydesdales takes enormous care and pride in their breeding program, and today breed the classic, 16 - 16.3 hand Clydesdale (the taller type popular today), as well as the traditional smaller type .
“There’s a resurgence of interest in working horses; people want to pull a tyre, a sled, put the grandkids on, or harrow. Showing is popular too, and social events, like driving days … relaxed fun with likeminded people.” The stud’s carefully bred crosses, using mostly Arab or Quarter horse blood, are extremely popular as riding horses. traditional smaller type for harness, pleasure and riding.”
The Wiltshires are selective about who buys the horses they produce. “The Clydesdale is an extremely specialised horse to own; it’s important that the horse suits the buyer’s needs, and that they have the knowledge and ability to care for them appropriately.”
LEARNING NEVER STOPS Daryl inherited the same attitude of care and respect towards his beloved Clydesdales as his predecessors, of who he speaks with great fondness and respect.
“My father never struck his horses, nor did my grandfather, neither do I. Kindness gets the best out of any horse.”
Tone of voice is the most effective tool, though it shouldn’t be over-used or it will lose its strength. “You might growl if they’re playing up, then you reward something good with a soothing tone. Horses are extremely sensitive, they can feel what you want at the end of the lead or rein.” At 52, Daryl has chalked up a decent amount of experience, but he retains a trait common among true horseman: an open mind. “I’ve been helping to foal Clydesdale foals since I was eight, and first drove a team of four at age 12. I remember the first time I was allowed to the drive the horses alone, at age 12. I’d driven them on my father’s knee countless times, and with a gentle warning about the gate post he left me to it. I took out the gate-post with the tray, and I reckon he suspected I would, but he left me to learn on my own. I think I’ve learned around two percent of what there is to know. Every horse is different, every birth is different, and breeding is an exacting science. No horse is perfect, and you never stop searching for improvement.”
He feels very fortunate to be living such a life: “No mobile phones, working oneon-one with the horse…”, and with their five children now involved, the couple hope that a fourth generation will take the Kardinia tradition well into the future. With the love of horses so firmly ‘in the blood’, it’s odds-on that at least one of them will. February/March 2021 - Page 19
Main Event Photography
Cross-Country with Shaun Dillon Shaun has taken various horses to 4* level eventing, is an NCAS Level 2 Eventing Specialist and has worked with top riders such as Shane Rose and German dressage rider, Janina Kletke.
KEEP IT SIMPLE “Your horse needs to be comfortable and able to rely on its own ability to get over the jump instead of relying on speed, so you need to focus on taking the speed away. The first and most vital statement is ‘Keep it very simple’. The practice you do going over logs and pipes at a walk, and then jog and trot, is ‘miracle’ training. You will see how quickly most horses go from being frustrated when the speed has been taken away to figuring out the best way to get over the small jumps. Have a couple of logs or pipes (approximately 30cm high) in a combination, so the horse doesn’t get bored.
If you are a beginner, have a young horse, or are practicing for a 2* event, you will want to practice straightness both coming into the jump and after the jump. But, it is important not to become lazy. Many riders tend to be so happy with a good distance and a brilliant jump, that they often forget to keep going straight, or they allow the horse to run off to the side after the jump. Be consistent, keep your horse straight, and it will make riding your course a lot easier.
RHYTHM AND SELF-CArrIAGe Find a rhythm that suits both you and the horse. Again, the speed will be added later and often comes naturally once you and your horse compete and are out on the cross-country course. Find a rhythm where the horse is performing self-carriage, you have a comfortable seat and where your horse has enough spring in its step to accomplish a straight vertical jump. Remember, the horse needs to rely on its ability and technique to jump, not the speed. February/March 2021 - Page 20
TIP: Whether you or the horse are new to cross-country, or simply
practising to get better, repetition is key but without boring the horse. A lot of horses will try to avoid water. You first need to take the speed away - so walk into the water from a flat side. Keep the straightness when walking into the water and don’t let the horse walk sideways to avoid it. Turn around and walk back out the exact same way you entered, and repeat that exercise several times. Next, set up an exercise, i.e. a small bounce made from two showjumps, starting with poles on the floor. and leaving the poles on the ground, so that the last jump leads straight into the water. This keeps the horse focusing on the exercise and in turn splashing in and out of water not even thinking the water is scary anymore and causes it to be aware of where it puts its feet, and also takes away its attention on, and potential fear of, the water. Walk the horse over this bounce numerous times, going both in and out of the water, then trot. Set it up to a jump (approx. 50cm depending on your level); trot it and then eventually canter.
TIP: An excellent way to practise is to show your horse the way
to the bounce and then let it figure out the logistics itself. Put a loop in the reins and hold on to the horse’s mane, halfway up the neck. Here you avoid punishing the horse’s mouth once it lands in the water after that awkward jump, but it also lets the horse find its own plan of attack. It will most likely ‘screwup’ and you’ll feel like the worst rider in the world, but next time the exercise will perform better, because it felt awkward for the horse too. By the time the horse has gone in and out of the water, probably 30 times, it will have figured out the best way to do so.
It all takes practice, but practice makes perfect. AT THE COMPETITION Be prepared
Make a good back-up plan
Whilst walking the course, make a back-up plan in case something goes wrong, then you’ll still know where to go and how to complete the jump. Having a back-up plan also gives you more peace of mind and can help you relax, which will relax your horse too.
Overthink before you get on the horse TIP: Lots of us over think everything before competing. A tip
is to do your over-thinking well prior to hopping on your horse so that when you hop on your horse you can do so with a clear plan and clear head. Once you are sitting on the horse, focus on your riding and warming-up. Once you are in the start box, empty your head and trust that your plan is secured in the back of your mind.
Ride with your head
Don’t let other people’s opinions and ideas, or spectators’ comments affect your riding and your plan. No one knows you
Shaun’s weekly training plan
Monday Day off Tuesday 10-20 min hack out, then flatwork Wednesday Jump training focussing on course and lines Thursday Intense flatwork/dressage Friday Cavaletti/gymnastics Mix of jump and dressage Saturday XC schooling (or competition) Sunday Interval canterwork/hill work (or competition)
Horse management TIP: Using a fly spray, oils and other products to make the
horse’s coat shiny are great tools, but make sure you wash them off with shampoo prior to going cross-country to avoid the creation of an oily barrier. Different products can create this barrier on horses’ coats, trapping the heat in, which can compromise their welfare. Cooling your horses off using cold water and scraping must be the first priority after cross-country, followed by icing the horse’s legs.” Set up a row of cavaletti and three verticals with 2.7m (9 feet) in between each, for a canter bounce. 2.7m (9 feet)
Be sure you walk the course the day before - as many times as you need to. Even walk the course on the day if you are still not sure of your plan.
and your horse better than yourself, so try and focus on that, not on anything else. A good idea is to clear your head after every fence and re-set your brain, and plan for the next fence approaching. Remember to consciously breathe the whole way through the course. Many of us tend to hold our breath, but this will only complicate things.
2.7m 2.7m (9 feet) (9 feet)
With eventing often involving camping, there is always the chance of bad weather and having tack everywhere, so it is important to organise a setup where you know exactly where everything is, so you can be organised for the last phase of eventing.
2.7m 2.7m (9 feet) (9 feet)
If you allow the horse to make mistakes through its training over smaller fences, it will think for itself, allowing you to focus on the course and executing your plan.
2.7m (9 feet)
As cross-country is the last discipline in eventing, your final placing relies on how well you go. Make sure your horse is overprepared and well-schooled.
Fan of no more than four cavalettis to encourage the horse to bend as it lifts in trot. The distance below is very important as it involves a higher vertical and a low, wide oxer. Find your horse’s excact stride between these types of jumps before setting this grid up. Tall Vertical Placing pole to vertical
Low, wide Oxer one short stride
Tall Vertical one short stride
by Dr. Jennifer H Stewart BVSc BSc PhD Dip BEP
Equine Veterinarians Australia
What are bladder stones ? Bladder
Credit to MSD
Male horse anatomy
HOW: Under certain conditions, dead cells, proteins and minerals that are normally washed out with a horseâ€™s urine collect to form tiny crystals. Additional cells and debris then become attached to one or more of these crystals to form larger, rocklike masses. If these get big enough, they remain trapped in the bladder, where they can block the entry to the urethra and prevent the outflow of urine. WHAT: Most of these stones are composed primarily of calcium carbonate, but other minerals, such as magnesium and phosphorus, may be included as well. WHO: Male horses are much more likely to develop bladder stones than mares are because of differences in their anatomy.
Stones in your horseâ€™s urinary tract . While stones in the horseâ€™s urinary tract are uncommon and usually respond well to prompt treatment, the signs and symptoms of one or more stones can be mild, vague and easily missed. Signs occur when the stone or stones (known as uroliths) intermittently obstruct the outflow of urine and/or cause trauma and inflammation to the bladder wall. During exercise, the stone/s can bounce around and traumatise the bladder wall, causing blood in the urine after exercise.
Where the stone/s cause a complete obstruction it is very painful for the horse and they pass very little urine. These horses are at risk of bladder rupture, which is a life-threatening complication Continued and can be expensive and difficult to treat.
Ureteral stone Bladder stone
WHERE: Urinary stones in horses are named based upon the location of the stone. When located in the bladder, they are referred to as cystoliths, when found in the kidney, they are referred to as nephroliths, in the ureter they are ureteroliths and when found in the urethra they are urethroliths. The presence of these stones can cause urinary problems for the horse, which can lead to urinary tract infections as well as urinary flow obstructions, which can ultimately lead to kidney failure and death if not treated.
Table 1. Signs That May
Indicate a Suspision of
URINARY TRACT STONES Painful or uncomfortable urination Unusual urine consistency or appearance Reduced volume of urine Thick, cloudy urine Bloody urine Pus in urine Blood clots in urine Particles in urine Scalding around the perineum in mares Scalding on the inside of the hindlegs in geldings and stallions Protrusion of the penis Dribbling of urine Recurrent mild colic Abnormal hindlimb gait Urinating too much Urinating too little Drinking too much Straining to urinate Mouth ulcers Change in appetite or attitude Behaviour problems (e.g. bucking) when ridden Passing frequent small amounts of urine Blood in the urine after exercise Stretching before and after urination
Because bladder stones can quickly become a veterinary emergency, any horse showing signs of stones in the urinary tract (urolithiasis) should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Stones (also known as calculi and uroliths) are much more common in males of every species because of their longer, less ‘stretchy’ (distensible), narrower urethra. Seventy-five percent of cases occur in geldings and stallions. Mares can generally pass small stones before they become large enough to cause a problem. In horses, the most common location for a stone to form is the bladder. But they can occur anywhere in the urinary tract. In one study of 64 horses with urolithiasis, stones were in the bladder (cystoliths) in 47 horses, urethra (urethroliths) in 11 horses, kidneys (nephroliths) in 15 horses and ureter (ureteroliths) in two horses. They occurred at several sites in six horses and seven horses suffered recurrent stones after treatment. Left: A bladder stone, showing approximate size. Below: Figure 2. Bladder Stone seen within the bladder via cystoscopy Image courtesy of University of Florida.
The Cause The cause of bladder stones in horses is not fully understood but they seem to be dependent on a number of factors including: urine retention, concentrated urine, vitamin A deficiency, excess dietary vitamin D and genetics. Two types of stones occur and both are believed to be formed as a result of the normal shedding of bladder lining cells and mucous in the bladder. Stones often start with a ‘nidus’ or a cluster of cells. These cells may be part of the normal bladder cell turnover, or secondary to a urinary tract infection or kidney damage from drugs like phenylbutazone and flunixin. Infection is usually a secondary problem, but damage to the bladder lining as a result of inflammation (cystitis) could allow the retention of organic matter that acts as a nidus for crystals to adhere to. Once that cluster of cells is there, layers of mineral keep getting deposited until a stone is formed (similar to a pearl forming in an oyster).
We might think bladder stones in horses would be a common problem due to the large amount of minerals in normal equine urine, but that is not the case. Although bladder stones are a concretion of minerals - primarily made up of calcium - heredity, diet and bacterial infection are often related to the development of stones. Although infection is not thought to be a cause of stones, it may be significant in creating circumstances where crystals begin to form and may cause them to increase in size. The different types of stones found in different species relates to their diet and urine pH. Horses have a lot of calcium and mucus in their urinary tract. That calcium and mucus is why even normal horse urine is often cloudy. Your veterinarian can diagnose stones by means of palpating the bladder rectally, ultrasound of the bladder, and/or endoscopic (camera) exam of the urethra and bladder (Figure 2 left ). Stone size ranges from 1.5 – 20cm and the time it takes for them to develop is not known. Removal usually requires surgery and your veterinarian can advise on the various methods.
February/March 2021 - Page 24
Any tricks you can use to keep your horses drinking lots of water will help prevent stone formation. day), ammonium chloride (25-50g twice daily) or ammonium sulphate (175g twice daily). Encouraging drinking to keep urine forming and flowing freely is critical in hot weather especially in exercising horses. Salt and fibre both stimulate drinking.
Other causes of stones and blood in the urine How can bladder stones be prevented? Keeping urine dilute may help prevent stone formation. So any tricks you can use to keep your horses drinking lots of water will help (dampening feed, ensuring salt intake is maintained especially after sweating or hard exercise) and minimising use of drugs like Bute that can be damaging to the kidney will also help. While not necessary for every horse, if your horse has recurrent stones, not overfeeding protein, beet pulp, legume hays and chaffs, and bran (high in phosphorus) may be beneficial in reducing mineral overload. Your veterinarian may advise urinary acidifiers like vitamin C (10-20g twice a
Although horses are unique in that they excrete excess dietary calcium through their urine instead of manure, reduced kidney function in older horses and those with reduced liver or kidney function can result in kidney (renal) stones, bladder stones, weight loss, and loss of appetite. If kidney function is reduced, renal and bladder ‘stones’ of calcium oxalate are more likely to occur – especially in horses grazing oxalate-containing pasture. (These include pastures like kikuyu, buffel grass, setaria, green panic, pangola grass, guinea grass, purple pigeon grass, para grass and signal grass; the soluble oxalates in the grass can be absorbed into the blood stream and deposit in the kidneys where they form calcium-oxalate crystals and lead to kidney damage).
Mares: Although rare in horses, inflammation of the bladder (cystitis) is more common in mares than geldings or stallions. It can occur when a urinary tract infection ascends, or a kidney infection
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Bladder Stones continued...
descends to the bladder. Damage to the nerves and muscles of the mare’s bladder or urethra can occur during foaling. If the muscles are unable to completely empty the bladder, sediment can accumulate causing inflammation of the bladder wall and initiate stone formation. It is not often outwardly apparent that the bladder is inflamed, but other signs of cystitis may be present include: excessive urination, excessive posturing to urinate, blood in the urine, or dribbling of urine without full voiding of the bladder. Treatment varies on a case-by-case basis depending on the cause; for example if the bladder inflammation is due to an underlying vaginal infection, the vaginal infection must be treated before the cystitis will go away without recurrence. Prompt veterinary diagnosis will improve the outcome and speed of recovery and reduce the risk of further complications.
Male horses: Smegma (a natural secretion of a pastylike material from the sheath) can form a ‘bean’ at the tip of the penis. Routine sheath cleaning prevents the bean from growing large. Large beans can cause difficulty urinating and sheath swelling. Excessive smegma accumulation is more common in stalled horses, possibly because of lack of exercise and accumulation of shavings and stall debris in the sheath. However, routine veterinary inspection of this area is important because tumours and other diseases of the sheath are relatively common. Also, vets often tranquilise horses before cleaning their sheath to relax the penis and make it easier to completely remove all debris. The presence of blood in the urine is more common in competition horses – whether racing, dressage, showjumping or other intense forms of training and exercise.
As exercise intensity increases and more blood is directed to the muscles, heart and lungs, kidney blood flow is reduced (especially in the presence of dehydration) and red cells can leak into the urine. Trauma to the bladder lining occurs in humans as well as equine athletes. As the horse’s body moves, the bladder flops backwards and forwards and can get bruised and leak blood and blood clots into the urine. This should resolve in a day or two. If it doesn’t a prompt veterinary examination is indicated. Blood in the urine has been described in high-level dressage horses. Termed ‘equine idiopathic haemorrhagic cystitis’, it is associated with thickening of the bladder wall and blood leakage into the urine. It is thought to be related to exercise intensity. In humans, urinary stones are attributed to a faulty diet and insufficient water intake to flush calcium through the system. The horse’s physiology is very different from humans. Bladder stones are rare in horses because the horse has evolved to excrete minerals through the kidneys. Horses are able to regulate the amount of calcium carbonate they produce, but any breakdown in the protective regulatory systems could increase risk and modifying the diet alone does not necessarily reduce the risk. One of the most important protective strategies in horses is the ability to posture and void the bladder at will frequently. Discouraging horses from urinating is dangerous. Formation of a stone is often bad luck — a random piece of debris in the bladder that acts as a ‘nidus’. Stones can also develop in the kidney and fall into the bladder.
Because there is no way to prevent stones, it’s really important to be vigilant about changes in urinary habits, especially in male horses. Pay attention to the colour and frequency and amount of urine produced, collect a sample if you’re concerned. With prompt veterinary intervention and correct dietary, salt and fibre intake after a stone has been removed, the prognosis is good. All content provided in this editorial is for general use and information only and does not constitute advice or veterinary opinion. The content does not consider individual circumstances, is not intended as a substitute for advice, and should not be relied upon as advice or in place of consultation with your equine veterinarian. For full disclaimer, please refer to our website: www.jenquine.com.au
Exercise-induced blood in the urine Often not visible to the naked eye, exercise-induced blood in the urine (haematuria) is very common but under-recognised. Microscopic examination of urine from horses exercising at 40% of maximum capacity found over 85% had red cells in the urine. One hundred percent of horses exercising at 95-100% had red cells in the urine. The cause of exercise haematuria is not well understood and may vary with the type and duration of exercise. The kidney blood supply can be compromised by contact (polo and rodeo horses) or from shaking and jostling (racing, endurance, jumping, reining, cutting, driving and most other equine activities). February/March 2021 - Page 26
Dr Jen Stewart has been an equine veterinarian for more than 40 years and an equine nutritionist for more than 20 years. Jen has been developing premium formulas for studs, trainers and feed companies - such as Mitavite - in Australia and around the world. Consulting to leading international studs and trainers in various countries while working on research projects and being involved in nutritional management of a variety of equine clinical conditions, including colic, tying-up, laminitis, performance problems, developmental orthopaedic diseases and post-surgery. Dr Jen is currently the only practicing equine veterinarian and clinical nutritionist in Australia and was also an official veterinarian at the Sydney Olympics 2000. Jen’s passion for nutrition along with her extensive experience and knowledge strives to continue to BRING SCIENCE TO YOUR FEED BIN.
Dr Jennifer Stewart CEO BVSc BSc PhD Dip BEP Equine Veterinarian and Consultant Nutritionist.
Dr Jennifer Stewart www.jenquine.com Equine Veterinarians Australia www.ava.com.au
Cleaning LEGS AND TAIL
here can be a number of reasons why you might find your horse with urine or manure on their back legs and tail and if it happens on a regular basis it may require veterinary attention. It’s important to get to know your horse’s normal habits and, if something is out of the ordinary, to consider what might have prompted any change and if you should be seeking veterinary advice. If it’s happening often there is the possibility the urine and manure will cause scalding and hair loss that will require treatment, so early investigation and intervention is best. Once the possibility of any underlying health issues has been ruled out, however there is the question of what to do about it. Mares in particular can sometimes urinate on the underside of their tails and legs. No one wants to see their horse with constantly dirty legs and tail. Urine can stain the horse’s hair and tail and leave a sticky mess that attracts dirt, dries and then sticks like glue, plus there’s also the issue of flies! Manure and urine residue will attract flies so it’s important to keep a horse - that is prone to a messy hind end - clean, and take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of caked on manure and urine ‘burning’ the horse’s skin and creating the potential for hair loss.
Steps to incorporate into your routine: • • • •
A loose French braid can help keep the tail clean by keeping it out of the way of urine and manure.
Clean the horse’s hind legs and hind end thoroughly with a gentle shampoo. Use a horse shampoo as they are made with the correct pH level.
Shampooing daily is not recommended as it can remove the protective oils from the horse’s hair and leave it brittle and more prone to staining. A white vinegar rinse (some suggest dilute 50/50 white vinegar and water - others say one part vinegar to four
parts water) can be used to help repel dirt, clean stains and it will also deter flies. A good coat and tail conditioner is important to keep the hair in good condition and to avoid dryness.
A product to present a physical barrier can be helpful. An emollient cream creates a barrier on the skin’s surface and many horse owners report that a number of nappy rash products work well. Remove tail flaps from rugs or opt for leg straps instead of an under-tail strap.
Consider if selective clipping in the area could be beneficial as longer hair can trap urine and manure and make it more difficult to keep the area clean.
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www.lisamccannherbs.com.au • E: email@example.com • Ph: 07 5447 7644 February/March 2021 - Page 27
Biomechanics ...what does
Recognising healthy biomechanics in the unridden horse.
it mean to the horse owner?
Enhancing your skills in recognising alterations in your horseâ€™s biomechanics will be of great benefit to allow you to address issues sooner rather than later and avoid poor performance, behavioural problems or injury of your horse or yourself. Dr. Raquel Butler is a Biomechanical Medicine Veterinarian and Lecturer in Equine Science at Charles Sturt, Wagga Wagga. Raquel is passionate about equine locomotion, rehabilitation and the physiology and management of the equine athlete.
t times, as a horse owner you may feel that your horse is telling you things are not quite right; perhaps it is a reluctance to be caught or having difficulty with a particular movement when being ridden.
This article focuses on getting to know your horse biomechanically. It is by no means a fully comprehensive view, as we could write a book on that, but a few tips to start to train your eye!
Influences on biomechanics There are many aspects influencing a horse’s biomechanics, both internally and externally.
INTERNAL Some of the internal influencing factors are conformation (how the horse is built), posture (how the horse holds itself), age, dental status, hoof balance and general health.
Some of the external influencing factors are the environment (how much a horse is able to move around each day), shoes, saddle and bit fit, the rider (experience, symmetry and fitness) and the surfaces on which the horse is being worked. So, for optimal biomechanics all of these need to be in balance – super easy, right?! I think many of us know how challenging this can be, but the reward of a happy, comfortable, relaxed, freemoving horse is totally worth it!! So keep striving!!
FEEL IT TO UNDERSTAND
The best way to understand your horse’s biomechanics is to feel it in your body. Pair up with a friend with one of you being the forelimbs of the horse, the other being the hindlimbs of the horse and holding onto the waist of the forelimb person, and practice the following gait patterns. Alternatively, if a friend is not available, then just use your arms as the forelimbs and your legs as the hind limbs and start trotting and cantering around the paddock! There will be lots of laughs but hopefully an enhanced understanding at the end of it!! The crawl in the human also generally mimics the walk with the leg hitting the ground just before the hand on the same side.
Footfalls are the foundation
What is biomechanics? Biomechanics is the movement of living systems and specifically it is your observation of the horse’s musculoskeletal movements. The musculoskeletal system comprises the skeleton and joints, which are controlled by the motion of the fascia, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Fascia is an amazing organ that creates a continuous, fluid cling-film-like layer covering all of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and organs in the body, meaning that it creates a connection through the horse’s body so no part functions independently.
SKIN SUPERFICIAL FASCIA (between skin and muscle) DEEP FASCIA EPIMYSIUM MUSCLE BONE
I am going to take you through the footfalls and main features of each gait as this is the foundation of understanding the gaits, and then you can build on all the aspects that you observe from there.
The walk is a 4-beat symmetrical gait, meaning that each hoof touches the ground at a different time. So, practice your crawling .In the walk, the horse’s head should swing easily side-to-side with minimal up and down motion. The spine should also swing, so you will notice swinging of the ribcage from side-to-side. As the belly swings the spine will flex sideways (lateral flexion) and rotate to promote the ribcage motion. The lumbar region will have a small amount of sideways bend (lateral flexion) without any rotation. The pelvis - when looking from behind - will move evenly in a figure of eight motion so it encompasses both a forward-and-back, Continued and up-and-down motion.
In a horse with healthy biomechanics the skin will be smooth with no muscles clearly defined, there will be a flow in the movement from the abdomen to the lifted sternum to a lifted, reaching nose in front of the vertical following the line over a gently concaved neck, back and rump to a soft and flowing tail and hind limbs that are working under the body. The movement will be a dynamic picture of relaxation, softness, ease and lightness in motion to create self-carriage.
The walk All aspects of the spine are moving in the walk, which is why the walk is one of the most informative gaits when assessing the horse from a biomechanical perspective.
The trot should be a 2-beat symmetrical and diagonal gait with two moments of suspension as the diagonal pairs swap. So the diagonal pair move in unison, pushing off and touching down at exactly the same time, heel first and lifting to the same height with the same degree of flexion. In between the changeover to the opposite pair there is a small moment of suspension with no limbs touching the ground. This moment of suspension is often lost when there are biomechanical restrictions due to some of the external factors discussed. The head and neck should be completely still and aligned with the spine. The pelvis will have an alternating up-and-down motion of the tuber coxae (point of hip) that should be even on both sides. The aim is for a slight upward bounce of the spine to show that it is not braced. It is common for horses with poor postural stability and/or strength to have a downward swinging back in the trot or to brace and hold the back very still. The trot is used to assess for lameness via the head and pelvis motion. A lameness will cause the head to move up and down (known as a head bob) or for one side of the pelvis to have a bigger motion (known as hip hike).
This horse is dropped just in front of the wither and therefore the sternum is dropped with tension in the base of the neck. The right forelimb is hitting the ground toe first, and the triangle between the forelimbs appears smaller than between the hindlimbs. The right hock also looks to be rotating slightly to the outside, which indicates instability in the stance phase and a lack of pushing from behind. The tail does not appear free and flowing and there is muscle tension across the sacrum, in the hamstrings, flank and under the neck.
In the walk each limb has a similar movement and force with evenly spaced footfalls landing slightly heel first. In this gait it is clearer to see when one area is not moving well as they canâ€™t easily offload to another limb.
Footfalls of the walk
Left front Right hind
Left front Right hind
The canter is a regular 3-beat asymmetrical gait. The horse pushes off with the outside hind limb, then the inside hind limb and outside forelimb contact the ground together (synchronised diagonal pair), followed by the inside leading limb and then a suspension phase in which all feet are gathered together rather than stretched out in front or behind.
Left hind Right front
The hind quarters should be engaged with the head moving with the horizontal movement of the body. A 4 â€“beat canter is commonly due to insufficient activity and impulsion from the hindquarters. The pelvis has the most flexion and extension in the canter, so issues in the pelvis will often show up as a canter problem- such as disuniting - and will also be seen in the walk.
February/March 2021 - Page 30
The NRG Team
keepiNG youR fuR babies, laRGe aNd small, pRoTecTed This summeR
In this image the head and nose are reaching. There is some lift in the sternum and abdominals with no obvious muscle tension. However, the red lines of the cannon bones should be parallel and the front foot is landing toe first, causing the knee to be slightly flexed. There is no moment of suspension. The blue triangles are not even from front to back and the limbs are not reaching full extension of the knee and hock joints. The hind stride is shorter relative to the front stride.
Footfalls of the TROT
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This is just before the diagonal pair are hitting the ground on the left canter lead. There is muscle tension through the back of the forelimb (flexor muscles), the back is braced with tension at the connection of the neck to the shoulder with a tension line across the shoulder blade just below the wither and there is a lot of strain through the feltock/suspensory apparatus of the right hind leg.
Footfalls of the CANTER February/March 2021 - Page 31
Ground work is your new secret weapon Most of the time, you are working alone with your horse so you want to develop your eyes so that you can assess your horse each time before you get on and in any groundwork session you do. Along with your observations of the footfalls and general body motions of the gait, you can also assess balance and symmetry in motion. Another great idea is to video your horse and slow it down so you can see each limb in motion. There are some great free apps to help you do this.
Assessing balance The first thing you can assess is how easily the horse halts and steps forward. Ask yourself, is there heaviness in your hand? Is your horse pushing on you? Then turn around and observe your horse as they halt and walk. Look at the front of the chest – does the horse lean forward as they step or does the horse step out from the shoulder with the shoulder moving before the chest? The next aspect to assess is done by putting your horse out at a relaxed walk and trot on a long lead with no other equipment on them (no saddle, no bridle, side reins etc.), so that you can assess how they choose to move without any other external influences except a cavesson or head collar.
This horse’s sternum is protruding forward indicating weight on the forehand. This horse will be heavy in your hand when asked to halt and will move from the foot first, rather than the shoulder, when stepping off.
10 things you can observe . . . along with the gait qualities:
1. The overall picture: does it look light, smooth, easy, relaxed? 2. Symmetry in motion: is your horse falling in or out in one direction? This may be more obvious in the trot and will indicate if your horse is crooked. 3. Head and neck position: is it relaxed or braced? Look for the eyes to be in line with the hip joint and nose stretched out in front of the vertical while keeping the sternum lifted. 4. Inverted V between the limbs: is it even when each hind limb or forelimb steps forward and is it even when comparing forelimbs to the hind limbs? 5. Hoofprints: it is not about the overstep, as a big overstep does not mean they are using their body properly, but you can compare the left and right and see if the hind foot comes to the same place in the centre of the front hoofprint on both sides. Are the hoof prints true to the gait? What is normal for your horse? 6. Belly swing/motion of the spine: does it swing evenly in the walk, is it braced or swinging up or downwards in the trot?
7. Tail: is it held to one side, clamped between the legs, swinging all the way up to the spine and following the movement or just swinging at the bottom? 8. Listen to the footfalls: are they even? Sternum
There are variations within each gait depending on the stage of training, however the gait should remain true to its symmetry and footfalls with balance and rhythm.
To train your eye – practice, practice, practice!! To obtain and maintain healthy biomechanics in your horse involves a collaboration between you, your horse, your professionally insured and qualified bodyworker, farrier/hoof trimmer, dentist, saddle fitter, bit fitter, trainer and veterinarian.
9. The flight of the limbs: are they straight or do they deviate in or out when the limb is in the swing phase of the stride (in the air) or in stance phase (on the ground)? 10. Transitions: should be smooth and light without brace, and the hind end should lower a little depending on the degree of collection, but it shouldn’t come up higher than the wither. The new gait should then flow in a balanced rhythmical way.
Quad Bike regulations What should I do if I find Termites? Stable Dangers Arena Maintenance Trees on the Property Herbs to motivate your horse
Number 150 February/March 2021 Produced by Hoofbeat Publications 90 Leslie Road Wandi 6167 Ph: 08 9397 0506 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hoofbeats.com.au
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Number 150 Talking Point... What improvements have you made to your property? With more time spent at home last year than many of us have ever spent, we know now more than ever that time invested in making improvements to our property, inside and out, is time, and money, well spent. Creating and maintaining a welcoming and comfortable environment that suits our equestrian lifestyles has become more of a focus for many of us. So, if you’ve already made improvements, or plan to over the next few months, no matter if they’re big or small, we hope they serve you well. With so many different types and sizes of properties out there, and so many different ways of keeping and managing horses, we’d love for you to share with us the goals you have for your place in 2021 and the results as you tick tasks off your To Do list. Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook. Stay Safe Over the years we have produced 150 Green Horse inserts that cover practical tips on property care, safety, weed management, solar, water, pasture, trees and anything related to managing an equine property. You can read a selection of Green Horse articles free on the Hoofbeats website, just go direct to www.hoofbeats.com.au/greenhorse/greenhorse.html or via www.hoofbeats.com.au. Do check them out.
QUAD BIKE REGULATIONS Australia’s farmers have offered strong support for federal government moves to improve the safety of ATVs or quad bikes, backing new laws to fit rollover bars amid a ‘horrific”’death and injury toll. That toll grew recently with the death of a 57-yearold NSW man in a crash near Bega when he lost control of his bike and rolled several times. While at Laidley, west of Brisbane, a man was taken to hospital with an ankle injury in another crash on a private property. The two incidents reinforce the belief of the National Farmers Federation (NFF) that the new safety devices, which will become mandatory on all new bikes from October, will help save lives. That puts it at odds with Australia’s peak automotive body that has urged the government to reconsider the new regulations, arguing there is a lack of data to support safety claims. NFF spokesman Ben Rogers said the organisation believed the government’s proposals were a “sensible middle ground”.“On the one hand there’s the safety risk, but on the other hand, there’s the risk of over-regulation and making them impossible to be used or generally unavailable,” he told AAP. “For us, we recognise quad bikes are an important vehicle. We want to continue to have use of them. But we have to be realistic that there is a serious safety risk here. If it’s not addressed in some way shape or form, some more drastic measures are going to be taken, either by work, health and safety regulators or the federal government banning them.” February/March 2021 - Page 34
The new regulations would mean additional costs to Quad bikes in the future. Will this affect your use of a quad bike on your horse property?
However, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries doesn’t support fitting rollover bars and wants a tougher approach to training and helmet compliance. It has also warned the new rules could result in major overseas manufacturers abandoning the Australian market. The safety stoush comes at a time when quad bike accidents claim an average of 16 lives in Australia each year. By mid-December the death toll in 2020 was 21, with about half of those the result of rollovers according to figures compiled by Safe Work Australia. In 2019 the federal government revamped regulations for quad bikes and similar all-terrain vehicles or ATVs. Since October last year manufacturers have had to ensure all vehicles
meet either European or US safety standards and include a rollover warning label. From October 2021, they must meet stricter stability rules and be fitted with an operator protection device (OPD), more commonly called a rollover bar. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the purpose of an OPD is to hold the quad bike off the ground, helping to protect the rider from being crushed or pinned in the event of a rollover. Two devices have been suggested and while the cost could go as high as about $800 this is not considered an issue for the industry, with bikes retailing for between $12,000 and $25,000. Federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar told AAP that the government remained committed to improving the safety of quad bikes.
What should I do if I find termites? Termites again, you say? Well yes, they are so destructive, and can cause so much damage to your stables and infastructure on the property, that they deserve two articles.
Last issue we discussed some of the signs indicating you might have termites, as well as some of the areas on your property where you might find them. Finding you have termites is one thing, but what do you do once you find them? The most important point to remember if you find termites is to not disturb the workings. Once the workings (mud tubes) are disturbed the termites will abandon the area and look elsewhere. In order to treat them effectively we want them to be left alone. They are then treated with a product that they transfer back to the nest. Because termites are such social insects – they touch each other along the way and eventually the product makes it way back to the queen and the colony breaks down. The least disturbed the termites, the more likely any spot treatment will be effective. The treatments will take at least a month to work so once treated (as hard as it is) you need to step back and wait. Once those termites have been eliminated and the product has had time to work – then you can go in and replace timber, fence posts etc.
Can I bring termites into my house from the wood pile?
So you have found some termites crawling around in the wood heap – but you need to light the fire. Now you are worried about transporting that wood into the fireplace and the termites finding their way inside. Don’t be. As soon as you take those termites away from their workings and friends – they will die. They need to be connected to their colony and without a way home they will die.
Can termites fly into my roof and make a nest? We discussed flying termites last issue, but the short answer is no, they will not fly into your roof and make a nest as all termite activity comes up from the soil. So, if you are finding termite activity in a beam or in a roof of your stable or home – they have travelled there from the ground.
What can I do to lower my risk of termites? • Don’t have timber lying on the ground around your home. Move those timber piles away from the house! • Try to store timber furniture/items up off the ground on some bricks. Wine barrels used as planters are probably one of our most treated items! When they are put directly onto bricks they provide a nice, moist, soft area for termites to come up through the gaps in the paving to a feast! • Try not to have raised garden beds against your house or stable - having soil directly against the side wall is really giving termites a head start in getting entry into your home and stable. • Ensure you have good drainage/soakwells etc. Particularly around timber stables/ sheds. Make sure your downpipes are draining in to proper soakwells to prevent moisture issues. When that water runs out directly onto the ground you are providing a nice, moist area that will attract attention from termites – particularly when next to a timber post! • Have regular inspections from a professional. They are trained and have many hours’ experience in looking at termite workings and entry points. For a quality inspection you should be looking around the $250 mark and your inspector should be there for around an hour. Make sure they are checking the roof and particularly the sub-floor of the home and any stable infastructure – remember, termites always come up from the ground. By being well informed and having a little bit of information about how termites work could save you thousands of dollars in damage. By being vigilant and getting areas checked early you are setting yourself up to be ready if you find any termite activity.
Wine barrels used as a planter in and around the stable or home attract termites.
by Rhiannon Brown - Envirapest
A director for Envirapest, a Pest and Weed Control company, Rhiannon has over 7 years’ knowledge in the industry, is a founding board member of the Professional Women in Pest Management Association as well as being a licenced pest and weed controller herself. She has a love of horses, has two of her own and has been an accomplished natural horsemanship enthusiast for over 18 years.
1300 368 472 E: email@example.com W: envirapest.com.au February/March 2021 - Page 35
table walls and partitions need to be solid to be able to withstand kicks or the weight of the horse should it get excited. If the walls are made from brick, this should be done with double brick on the inside walls at least halfway up to the roof in case the horse kicks out or becomes cast. A horse can become cast when it lies down or rolls over next to the wall and is unable to rise. It is a dangerous situation for the horse (if stuck for a long period of time it can develop fatal colic or be injured in its attempts to rise) and for people. The horse must be rolled over so it is not facing the wall - requiring ropes to be fastened to its legs and ideally two or more helpers to assist. To prevent this from happening, a stable should preferably have a casting groove or strip on the inside of the walls, so a horse can get purchase on the wall should it become cast, enabling it to push itself away enough to rise. If using lots of bedding, it may also help to bank your bedding higher against the wall; or in the case of rubber matting, or similar, using less bedding and placing it in the middle of the stable which encourages the horse to lay in the deepest part. Depending on the individual horse’s habits, the best prevention will need to be decided on as a cast horse can be a very dangerous situation.
by Liz Tollarzo
A cast horse that is unable to get up as it is too close to the wall.
Various councils have different requirements for stables, which is important to know to ensure your horse facilities are approved. Dirt floors can be left, depending on if the ground is soft enough to lie on, but it won’t take long for ammonia to build up if the soil or dirt is not dug up and replaced often. Limestone or cracker dust can provide a safer base for a stable - being less slippery than cement - but will still require bedding. Cement floors will always require shavings, sawdust, straw, sand or other stable bedding to encourage a horse to urinate and lie down comfortably without injuring itself. Each bedding has advantages and disadvantages, i.e. if using straw be aware that greedy horses like to eat their bedding, and if using sand know that it can cause colic issues with horses ferreting in the sand dropped food.
When your stable or outdoor shelter is constructed of tin, it is very important to have a ‘kickboard’ lining on the inside to protect your horse’s legs. A horse can kick through tin very easily, especially if it’s rusty. This lining can be plywood panels, timber or rubber and preferably should extend half way up the walls. Even an outside shelter in a paddock must have kickboards to prevent accidents since a horse may enter the shelter and decide to roll, become cast and either kick through the tin or even get its legs stuck under the tin walls! Prevention is certainly better, and less expensive than a cure.
This jagged-edged hole was the result of a kick to the tin shelter.
A caste strip allows the horse to gain traction to push against the wall.
Mesh dividers should be checked regularly for sharp edges.
Line stable walls with kickboards, especially if they are tin.
Any mesh or bar partitions within the stable need to be small or close enough together that a horse cannot get a hoof through it. You may think bars are close, but if they are over a long distance then a good kick can drive the horse’s hoof between them. The bars then close back and trap the leg. Steel mesh needs to be very small squares and thick in diameter, the smaller the square the better as there is less chance of a hoof being trapped in it. Horse shoes can become stuck on medium sized mesh - the main rule here is the smaller the safer! Generally, the kick boards will be halfway up the sides of the stable and then the mesh will continue to the roof. If
the mesh starts from the ground level then it will have to be small, strong and reinforced. Entrapment in mesh or bars is a very common accident so it’s better to safeguard your horse’s future - as the outcome of a leg being trapped is not a good one. Regularly inspect mesh between horses for damage and any sharp points, as these can create puncture wounds or damage eyes. If you have foals or ponies in the stables as well as larger horses then use the smallest hoof as a guide to mesh size.
Cross-ties need to be positioned high enough so it is unlikely the ropes could be in reach of the horse’s legs should it paw; they need to be attached via breakable twine or similar. Using a quick release clip will keep yourself and your horse safer. Avoid bungee or elastic ties as if they break the resultant elastic effect of the clip being released will strike the horse or handler and definitely cause injury!
With straight ties, make sure the tie-point is approximately the height of the horse at the withers - and tied with a quick release knot. Avoid tying a horse to a gate and never an unfastened gate! The same applies to an electric fence, NEVER tie near a horse on one of these as without doubt the horse will touch the fence ... one day!
Any latches on the doors of stables need to be able to slide flush with the door, with no projecting points, and two latches are advisable - one near the top and one near the middle or bottom third, in case of a horse kicking or striking at the door or in the case of a horse with clever ‘lock picking’ lips! There are a lot of horses that are very smart and have learnt to open stable door latches so the top latch at least should have a securing point where a clip can be used to lock it from curious or mischievous horses.
These should open outwards and be hung correctly to avoid any accidental swinging inward as the horse is being led in or out of the stall. There should also be no obstructions near the doors that would stop them from opening completely, as the horse can be caught in a ‘pincer’ action if the door swings as it is travelling through the doorway. Doors are safest if they can be a minimum width of 1.2 metres (4 feet) wide. The height is dependent on the size of the horse, but a general rule is it should be 1.5 times the height of the horse at its withers. Never tie the horse to the stable door, particularly one that is not bolted shut, as if it pulls back it could pull the door off the hinges.
Commonly used, these latches pose no problems for mischievous horses to open. This latch can be ‘locked’ with a clip to prevent unintentional openings.
Your horse should have a clear walkway to exit the stable or to be tied for saddling or grooming. Tools such as rakes, brooms, buckets, wheelbarrows, etc. should all be stored away from the walkway.
February/March 2021 - Page 37
by Wendy Elks Compacted areas, especially down the long side, need maintenance before the base deteriorates.
When the dream of having your own arena is realised, it doesn't mean that the work is over.
ustralia’s space and affluence means that many horse riders have the means to make the dream of a personal riding arena a reality. Such a large investment isn’t easy; a great deal of planning, preparation, hard work and expense must occur before the euphoria and convenience of riding on your own arena can begin. Once established, it is then the owner’s job to maintain the results of their hardearned expense and the builder’s expertise, or a slow and steady decline is inevitable. Unfortunately, the decline is so gradual that the signs can be well entrenched before they’re noticed. Regular grooming maintains the surface, particularly on the most used tracks.
NEGLECT Neglect, and the failure to address problems that can arise from heavy or inappropriate use (eg, many riders and too little maintenance, or a lot of lunging) can result in a white elephant that stands empty for much of the year, because riding on it will ‘ruin’ the going. The builder or materials may be blamed, when in fact the problem is largely the lack of proper maintenance.
Any arena requires regular grooming to keep the surface layer an even thickness important for more than the best way to give a good ride. WATER RETENTION Even small holes hold more water, and for longer, when it rains. And this is where many problems start. Months of riding on a damp surface, particularly on habitual tracks that haven’t been groomed often enough, may have suffered some waterlogging. If a track (commonly a long side) becomes squelchy or boggy over winter, it’s a sign that drainage isn’t occurring as it should, and this can be exacerbated once drying out occurs over summer. This creates a permanent issue that will get worse as times goes by.
The winter months, when the ground is moist and soft, may not be the best time for heavy vehicles to be driving over it; and wet, heavy material is generally more difficult to groom evenly. Limited daylight hours and bad weather may also contribute. Consequently, the summer and autumn months are a good time to do a thorough overhaul, to uncover small issues and address them before they become big ones. The dryness of summer has its issues, too, with surface displacement of lighter materials due to wind, sudden heavy rainfalls, and the displacement of surface material through increased riding activity.
Arena construction expert Mark of Boss Horse Arenas, Victoria, comments: “The common arena of a sand topping on a ‘road’ sub-base is particularly prone to the ravages of seasonal changes. “While wet conditions can be damaging to an arena, the months of drying heat present another set of issues. The easy movement of sand adds to the problem. “Walk along a beach of fine sand and you’ll notice little movement in it, because the tiny particles become densely packed,” Mark says. “In contrast, coarse river sand, which is often used on arenas, is comprised of larger particles that shift and roll more easily, especially when dry. Therefore it is imperative to not only groom the arena but to remove the sand that banks up around the edges during regular
An arena surface that is not maintained will collect water in all the hoofmarks, hollows and compacted areas. maintenance procedures. A groomer with a side-scoop or a good old fashioned shovel can assist with this task. An arena free from banked up sand around the edges will facilitate better drainage of water.
A second major issue of extreme dryness is sand being flicked over the arena edging, where it collects on the wrong side. “Before long, grasses and weeds may become established, holding the sand to the earth. Come winter, when drainage is vitally important, the track along the side becomes wetter, because the arena drainage has become compromised. If allowed to continue, this becomes another job to fix.
Mark’s tips for a healthy arena “A simple tip is to groom the arena before expected rainfall. A flat and even surface will distribute the rainfall evenly, ensuring faster and even drying. Pay attention to surface evenness and regularly groom. How often this is required would vary upon the arena’s use. Frequently rake sand piled against the arena edges back onto the surface, and preferably into the tracks that inevitably form. Follow weather forecasts and plan ahead to groom before rain. In dry times, watering (provided this does not contravene
Mark suggests grooming the arena in overlapping circles. water restrictions) will be beneficial in maintaining surface firmness and reduces dust. Wind is another factor: prevailing winds will roll and redistribute toppings into swales and pile lighter particles into corners. Mark recommends grooming your arena in an overlapping circular fashion. For example, if your arena is 20 metres wide, you would do 20 metre circles, gradually moving up the length of the arena. Grooming from one end to the other, first in an anti-clockwise direction,
then returning in clockwise direction ensures the most thorough distribution. This reduces the likelihood of producing swales and uneven thicknesses on the topping that may be more likely to form when an arena is groomed in straight lines up and down the arena. Some hand raking will be necessary in corners, where the groomer cannot reach. Trees are often planted to shelter riding arenas, but many types of trees cause more trouble than they’re worth. Mark says.
February/March 2021 - Page 39
Arena Maintenance continued...
“Water-hungry trees such as eucalypts may invade well-watered ground and can penetrate the base, causing grievous damage, and havoc to a drainage system.” A well-cared-for arena remains viable and a pleasure to use for a long time, while a lack of care will shorten its life, lessen performance, and waste the money spent on it. Treating this fabulous and costly investment as you would with a car, to care for and maintain its ongoing performance is smart, and much easier when the care is carried out regularly. As always, prevention is far easier and much cheaper than trying to find a cure for a bad case of neglect.
Cameron Baxter from Baxter Park Equestrian (Vic) has an indoor and outdoor arena. “Arenas are hard work,” said Cameron. “And when they are in heavy use, they need constant maintenance. It’s a must to have a watering system on indoor arenas to keep dust and arena shift to a minimum. We level our arenas everyday to help stop surface shifting too much. We up the amount of water in summer as an indoor acts like a little oven, drying the surface faster, increasing dust. “Ideally outdoor surfaces should be leveled prior to heavy rain, to help it drain properly. After very heavy rain fall we close our outdoor surface until it drains to prevent any base damage. This really depends on the type of surface and position of your arena. “There are endless amounts of arena levellers out there, and each surface will level differently. Some arenas will level just as well with a good old gate behind the car, while other fancier surfaces may require a specialised roller grader. Pulling down long sides is a never ending job but worth the work out !” Baxter Park’s outdoor arena has regular levelling, however during winter it is closed for wet periods.
TREES on the property Shade, shelter, wind and soil erosion
Trees are recognised as an important part of the environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate, conserving water, preventing soil erosion, and supporting wildlife and biodiversity. For those with horses, trees offer shelter, shade and increase the aesthetics of your property. Not only are they valuable for the environment, but research has found that to be surrounded by trees improves our overall metal health, mood and life function. Agroforestry is the study of trees in agriculture - growing crops and livestock farming - and this understanding can be beneficial for horse property owners. The benefits are not limited to shade and shelter for the horses, as they also have a role in preventing soil erosion, optimising water content of the land, benefit soil nutrients and of course there are species that can be used as fodder for your horse. This article is the first of three in the series ‘TREES ON THE PROPERTY.’
by Celine Boennelykke
e have all heard about properties where paddock shelters have been installed for horses, and the disappointment when the horses ignored these and stood under a tree. It should be remembered that horses in the wild do not have shelters available and that these can limit a horse’s ability to see approaching danger so their use will depend on the individual horse’s level of self-preservation. Trees can provide a more natural shelter protecting your horses from sun, rain and wind. SHADE Besides providing shade for the horses in the paddock, trees also give shade for the grass underneath the tree canopy and reduce evaporation of water in the soil and radiant heat. As the roots of the tree are much longer than grass roots, they do not compete for water resources therefore you often see green grass in the middle of summer underneath trees (depending on the depth of the tree roots). Having the right balance of trees and open pasture is essential.
When selecting trees you first need to decide their purpose. Are they for shade, shelter, aesthetics, water management or fodder? SHADE TREES Mature trees in a horse paddock can be protected by erecting a fence around a small group of trees, with sufficient distance from the fence to the trees so that the horse cannot lean in and chew on the tree trunk. Alternately, chicken wire wrapped around the trunk to a height that is well beyond the horse’s reach (on tiptoe) will protect your tree from ringbarking. For the tree species that best suit your area contact your local Landcare department or nursery. Some suggestions would be: White Willow and River Red gum (Eucalyptus Camaldulensis).
SHELTERBELTS/ WINDBREAKS Shelterbelts within or on boundaries of your horse paddock are beneficial in both summer and winter. In summer they allow a cooler area out of direct sun, in which the horse can lower its body temperature. In winter the shelterbelt can provide protection from winds and to a degree from the rain, but more than anything they help give protection from the wind chill factor, which is when horses are wet and exposed to winds, the chill factor increases. In shelter belts varying heights and thicknesses of trees and shrubs are required to form the belt. Some fence these off to allow them to establish, and then let horses roam within once established. WINDBREAK Trees and shrubs can be most effective in regards to windbreaks. The purpose of a windbreak is to slow down the speed of the wind, to prevent soil erosion (especially in sandy areas), to provide protection from winds for the horses or other stock and for our own pleasure of less wind.
Planting a windbreak so that it protects the house and stables can be very beneficial, but be careful not to plant the trees too close to sheds, stables, tanks, essential fencing and your home, as there is always the danger of falling branches and bushfires. An effective windbreak will slow down the winds by about 60%, which would be beneficial for your property, especially if you are in an area that has morning easterlies or afternoon coastal breezes. The length of the windbreak should be minimum 10 times the tallest tree height, yet a windbreak needs to allow some wind to pass through otherwise it will create currents on the downwind side of the windbreak. The height and the density of the windbreak is important as the effect will extend 20 times its height into the paddock. The density needs to be spread out, as wind tunnelling underneath the
trees can be dangerous to your horses, especially on significantly cold or hot days, therefore many different species of trees and shrubs are desired. Local plants should be your first choice, as they typically require less water and less maintenance. Introduced species may have trouble establishing. MANAGING SEEDLINGS Keep in mind that some species more than others reproduce quickly and if not managed they can become difficult to control once they have reached a certain size. A lot of unplanned, new trees can steal water and nutrients from the horseâ€™s pasture and exhaust the soil as well as blocking the wind from tunnelling. Remember to incorporate the lifespan of
the trees, so you can schedule replanting for those that have a short life-span or are fodder trees that may need replacing. Knowledge of the trees mature growth habits are also essential, to ensure the trees donâ€™t end up too small or worse, too big for your paddock. Besides attracting birds and other wildlife, windbreaks can also be an essential tool for lowering the water table and preventing waterlogging in boggy areas. Trees and shrubs suitable for shelterbelts and windbreaks could include: Tagasaste (Lucerne tree - also ideal for fodder); Dogwood (Jacksonia scoparia) is a native pea-flowered shrub, Saltbush (Atriplex spp.) native, Poplars, Willow (white willow), Jam Tree (Acacia acuminata) tall shrub to small tree to 7m, Bottlebrush (Calothamnus quadrifidus) when mature will grow to around ground to 4m. Talk to your local nursery, Landcare group or Shire about which trees could suit your property as it can vary widely from area to area and state-to-state. February/March 2021 - Page 41
Have your veterinarian identify if there is medical reason.
Muscle soreness can be quite common in performance horses
Your horseâ€™s coat is a good indication of health
Herbs can assist your senior horse to lead a happy life
If your horse is cranky, then look for the reasons why
What is an independant seat and how do you achieve it? Mary Warren, a Level 1 NCAS Dressage Coach based in NSW, is on the Dressage NSW High Performance Squad, and is a National Recognition Squad member.
There are many aspects of riding terms, horse conditions and management practices that are accepted in the equestrian community, without them being fully understood by everyone. Here, we have asked experienced researchers and horse people to shed some light on common ‘horse lore’.
seen to try and reduce the bouncing in sitting trot), or weight distribution (tilting forward/leaning back or sitting with more weight to one side). To ride with an independent seat, the rider moves in balance and harmony with the horse instead of against it.
Many of us have riders that we look up to, who we envision ourselves riding as well as. One of the many things these high-profile riders all have in common is the ability to ride with an independent seat. First of all, what is the ‘independent seat’? The way I try to describe it is when a rider can use their aids INDEPENDENTLY without using the other aids to compensate. Some examples include: using your hands to balance off the horse’s mouth, gripping with your legs (commonly
So how do we achieve this? Core strength is the go-to answer but it’s not just muscle strength the rider needs in order to have an independent seat. A ‘gymjunkie’ can still ride against the horse! Rather, the rider needs to be able to move with the horse through their pelvis and back. So, you need strength but also suppleness through the body. Yoga, Pilates, body work all helps with this. But what do you do whilst you are on the horse to check if you are riding with an independent seat? It is actually, quite simple to check…soften the rein aid. Does the horse’s frame change? Does the horse’s tempo change? Does it fall onto the forehand looking for the hand to lean against? Or does he stay in an uphill frame in complete balance and harmony? As a rider we should be making hundreds of these ‘checks’ during our training sessions, and even dressage tests, to see if the horse is in balance and not relying on the rider’s hands to carry them. If a rider is able to soften the rein aid and the horse does not fall out of balance it is quite reasonable to assume that the rider has not been riding with the ‘handbrake on all the time’, therefore riding with an independent seat.
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rather than astride
By Kit Prendergast
hen side-saddle is mentioned, some riders envisage lady riders of past periods in their beautiful outfits looking extremely elegant, while others may concentrate on the discomfort of riding with one leg cocked over a pad that virtually locks it in place, having to manage a horse without the use of both legs as aids, and the disadvantage of requiring help to be on hand to mount.
Side-saddle involves riding aside, rather than astride, in a purpose-built saddle. This style of riding a horse or pony is a rarity in today’s equine world, but historically was considered the appropriate way for ‘ladies’ to ride. Recently, however, riding side-saddle has started to come back into fashion.
Despite being considered a ‘lesser’ form of riding, riding side-saddle actually
requires a lot more skill and horse-human communication than astride riding, because both legs are no longer available as aids, although the left leg still functions as it would when riding astride. The rider’s weight and balance is spread evenly across the horse’s back, however, the point of balance is behind the rider’s right knee, which is in the centre of the horse’s back, parallel to the spine.
A very elegant trio show off the different styles of costume.
England by Queen Anne of Bohemia and Luxembourg after her marriage to Richard II in 1382, where she rode side-saddle across Europe to meet her betrothed. Riding side-saddle was seen as a way to protect her virginity, and riding astride was deemed vulgar. In Britain it became a symbol of the aristocracy, with queens riding side-saddle whilst their ladies-in-waiting followed riding astride. However, the first side-saddles were impractical, representing basically a chair-like platform - a ‘planchette’ - with a small footrest, making it difficult for the rider to use the reins, so she was usually led by another rider, riding astride. The insecurity of the side-saddle is believed to have contributed to the popularity of the ‘palfrey’ – a docile horse with a smooth, ambling gait – as a suitable mount for women during the Middle Ages. A somewhat more practical saddle was designed in the 16th century by Catherine de Medici. With this design, rather than
Following the hunt in side-saddle
The form of riding side-saddle has changed considerably. Side-saddle first originated during the Middle Ages in Europe and was developed so that women could ride a horse in a modest fashion wearing a dress or skirt. It was deemed ‘unbecoming’ for a woman to straddle a horse. The first saddle for riding aside is believed to have been introduced to
February/March 2021 - Page 47
keeping both feet placed side-by-side on the footrest, a lady placed her right leg over the pommel: not only did this allow her more control of the horse and enable trotting and even cantering, it also enabled her to show off her shapely ankle and calf to their best advantage!
A young gent shows the leg positioning on the sidesaddle.
Photos supplied by Sharyn Edwards
Finally, three-hundred years later in the 1830s, a more functional side-saddle was designed by Jules Pellier, with an additional, lower pommel (a leaping head). As Nadya Brown, Vice Chairman of the UK Side Saddle Association states, “this gave women both increased security and additional freedom of movement when riding side-saddle, which allowed them to sit forwards, stay on at a gallop and even to jump. With this design, nearly all recreational equestrian pursuits were opened to women, yet they could also conform to expectations of modesty.” This was a major step for women, at least in the upper classes, for up until the 1850s, riding (and dancing) were the only socially acceptable physical activities for females of the aristocracy. Although associated with femininity today, in the early modern period it was a source of ‘social anxiety’ for men, since it not only brought women into the world of equitation (that had traditionally been considered the sphere
Photo supplied by Kylie Wall, Noran Arabians
Photo supplied by Sharyn Edwards
February/March 2021 - Page 48
of men), but the form of dress involved largely ‘masculine’ clothing for the upper body, with commentators stating it fitted “awkwardly on English modesty.” As stated by Allison Matthews David in Elegant Amazons: Victorian Riding Habits and the Fashionable Horsewoman, “bourgeois horse-women emulating the traditional pursuits of the aristocracy challenged class and gender boundaries.”
Royals on State Occasions, including Queen Elizabeth II, who is renowned as a strong supporter of equitation.
During the second half of the 20th century, side-saddle was even regarded as archaic. However, side-saddle riding still occurred, especially in historical re-enactments, and in fact was a feature of female British
Side-saddle has undergone peaks and troughs in popularity and style throughout history. It reached its heyday in the Victorian era, from the 1880’s to early 1930’s, when it was deemed socially acceptable for upper-class women to participate in more ‘vigorous’ equitation pastimes such as cross-country riding and foxhunting. In the 1930s it fell out of fashion, partly due to the suffragettes who saw side-saddle as a symbol of oppression of women.
European historical costume.
Australian historical costume. Photo supplied by Sharyn Edwards
Young girl showing correct English riding habit.
Western riders can also compete in classes when available.
A lady’s side-saddle riding outfit is called a ‘habit’ and it was designed specifically for ladies riding side-saddle in the late 16th century. A special ‘safety skirt’ was designed in 1875, which was buttoned along the seams, and was later developed into an apron skirt that was buttoned around the waist. The need for such specialised attire arose out of what must have been relatively frequent terrible accidents where women became caught by the skirt if they fell and were often dragged! Nowadays, breeches are often worn underneath the ‘apron’. In addition to the apron, the customary habit involves a smart jacket. Although restrictive norms that dictated women must wear dresses and skirts and sit in certain ways have fortunately been relegated to history in developed countries, side-saddle retains a niche in equitation today. Interestingly, at the turn of the 21st century, we have seen side-saddle undergoing a cult renaissance. Part of the revival has actually been due to how it can be liberating, for it allows people with disabilities, including muscular impairments, certain back injuries, limb amputations and/or compromised balance or grip to still ride, and thus has been making a comeback in therapeutic riding programs. As stated by Nadya Brown, “benefits for disabled riders should never be
overlooked and they so much improve the average rider’s astride position and balance when correctly used.”
In addition to this practical aspect, the sidesaddle habit has an aesthetic and cultural aspect. The contemporary upsurge can be considered to derive from the alluring and elegantly demure aesthetics of riding side-saddle. Along with an understanding of the heritage, it offers connoisseurship and patronage of the equestrian art. It also can be considered a source of pride for a feminine equitation sport. Display teams in Britain, including ‘The Flying Foxes’ and ‘A Bit On The Side’, showcase this ancient art at equestrian festivals, county fairs and national shows in Britain. And let us not forget the power of social media! In recent times, popular TV shows set in post-Edwardian England, such as Downton Abbey, have popularised side-saddle: Lady Mary, “siren of the ensemble”, is commonly depicted riding aside, regaled in full habit dress. The British press even coined a name for the phenomenon, “The Lady Mary Effect”, to describe how the alluring image of Lady Mary, galloping around the estate, led women across Europe to desire to emulate her elegant style, and there was
even found a positive correlation between viewing of the TV series and requests for side-saddle lessons received by riding schools.
was formed in 1980, and Side Saddle Ladies Western Australia.
Today, side-saddle is part of most equestrian disciplines including dressage, eventing, show jumping, western pleasure, and saddle seat-style English pleasure. When it comes to competing in the arena, horse shows can include judged classes of side-saddle riding.
There is also a dedicated company devoted to side-saddle, ‘Same Side Equestrian’, a Victorian-based equestrian business owned and operated by Stacey Rusic, an avid side-saddle rider, competitor and instructor, dedicated to anything relating to the discipline of side-saddle riding, including lessons, apparel, and saddle hire.
Although a niche sport, the side-saddle itself is a rare and precious commodity, and demand even outstrips supply. The side-saddle is a specialised artefact, and requires labour intensive techniques, bespoke craft methods, and specialised skills to manufacture.
Side-saddle in Australia
Due to its strong colonial British roots and association with Victorian era reenactments, the art appears to be most popular in the UK, but there are dedicated enthusiasts in Australia. There are a few associations specifically for sidesaddle, including: Victorian Side Saddle Association Inc., Side Saddle Association of South Australia Inc (SSASA), which
The SSASA hosts an Annual Side Saddle Show, and there are also other competitions that include side-saddle events. Canberra Royal is the only Royal that hosts side-saddle events, although enthusiasts are lobbying for a return of events at the Melbourne Royal to compliment the 5-10 shows held around that state each year.
When it comes to the saddle itself, ‘Wendy’s Saddlery’ specialises in custommade side-saddles. Wendy Tidbold learned from the very best – side-saddle guru, Roger Philpot. Not only does she make these rare items, she also competes and promotes the side-saddle, featuring as a side-saddle rider in a documentary for the Discovery Channel and in a Women’s Weekly article titled ‘The Last of Their Continued
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shoulders and hips should not be turned off-centre. Hands are kept square, and you keep the reins at the same length and tension. The key difference is that only one stirrup is used, and your left heel is placed higher on the horse’s body. The heel in the stirrup should not be flexed or kept down like it is for an astride saddle, as doing this will cause the rider to drop the left hip, throwing themselves off balance and thus the saddle as well. The foot should sit relaxed in the stirrup, parallel to the ground and ever so slightly flexing with the horse’s movement .
Rider showing correct alignment with the horse’s spine. Photo supplied by Stacey Rusik
Kind’. She is one of only two women who are fully accredited Members of the Saddlers and Harness Makers Association of Australia. James Alcock, of SA, also makes sidesaddles, as does Ian Lancaster in NSW, and there are a few experienced restorers; riders always have the option of buying a custom-made saddle from overseas too.
Australia has some women who were major historical figures in the tradition of side-saddle. After migrating from Ireland to Australia in the 1880s, Daisy Bates rode 3000 miles across the Outback, all the while in side-saddle! There was also Alexandrine Tinne, a Victorian explorer who travelled Europe and the Middle East riding side-saddle and who was killed during a fight between camel drivers and guides during an 1868 attempt to cross the Sahara Desert.
Guinness World Record!
Riding side-saddle is difficult enough, so you can imagine jumping in this saddle is no mean feat. One remarkable woman from Ireland, Susan Oakes, blew everyone’s minds when, in an astounding feat of bravery, she cleared two massive jumps riding side-saddle. Moreover, Susan was no veteran show jumper when she first set her sights on this ‘crazy’ goal. Inspired by a photo of an Australian lady jumping 6’6”, she developed an ambitious dream to beat this unofficial record. On February/March 2021 - Page 50
The side-saddle has two pommels- the top one (fixed head) and lower one (leaping head), and you wrap your right leg around the fixed head for balance. 24th October 2013, after two years of training five days a week, and many sidesaddles, the day had come. She set the bar high, and clearly cleared it! In fact, she did this TWICE on two different horses on the same day, all the while dressed in traditional gear. A videographer, photographers, FEI officials, HSI officials and personal friends were present to witness whether she would manage to achieve her goal. Of course, this record owes just as much her talented horses. The first horse was SIEC Atlas, who Oakes described as “the ultimate schoolmaster.” With Susan riding side-saddle, together she and this international jumper scaled a 2.07m wall! “The horse threw his heart over, followed by his body and all I had to do was give him encouragement and hang on.” But Susan wasn’t over yet – next up was the 1.98m triple bar, which Oakes said ,“To date, this is the most difficult thing in my life I have ever attempted.” Riding side-saddle with SIEC Oberon, the pair triumphed! Oakes says, “I had to dig deep mentally but my trusty steed had to do so much more!”
She accomplished this in 2013, yet it was only in 2020 that The Guinness World Records agreed to verify and recognise the record, as it had received so much support and attention worldwide, for at the time there was no such category. Susan Oakes is now is the proud Guinness World Records Title Holder for the highest jump by a horse ridden side-saddle.
Is it for you?
The late Roger Philpot, side-saddle expert and trainer, believed that learning another style of riding helps with your coordination, and side-saddle in particular helps you to be straighter and encourages you to become aware of your position. Correct position is vital to riding sidesaddle. You sit squarely, with your spine aligned with that of the horse, and your
In addition to weight and seat as aids, often the spur and the whip are employed as supportive riding aids, but MUST be used in a humane manner for cueing, NEVER for punishment. A soft spur is worn on the left foot only, and the English rider’s cane is carried on the off (right) side, essentially functioning as the right leg for cueing the horse on the off side. Western riders may use instead the romal – a sort of long quirt (riding whip with a braided end) attached to the end of a set of closed reins.
This is not something that should be attempted without careful training, primarily for the sake of the horse. If undertaken incorrectly, you’re putting all your weight on just one side of the horse, which can cause considerable discomfort, pain, or even injury. Furthermore, with a side-saddle, you are riding at least 6kg heavier and a hand higher.
Correct posture and good balance are essential. Although called “side-saddle”, the weight should nevertheless remain centred.
An experienced instructor and a good side-saddle fitter are very important as taking care of your horse’s back is a MUST. Training and preparation are essential. Start slowly and build up – the side-saddle is also very different from what your horse is used to: it’s heavier and sits further back than a ‘normal’ astride saddle, and too much use in the early stages could cause your horse pain and tension - especially across the loins. Editor’s note Riding side-saddle is certainly something that is achievable for anyone wishing to become involved: finding the gear, saddle and horse that best suit this discipline may take a little searching but it is certainly worth the effort.
DEiDRE’s App Review by Deidre Rennick
The Equine Pain and Welfare App (EPWA) doesn’t pop up in recommended equine apps in the App store. This is likely an issue with the name not containing the horse word. However, it is worth searching out this app for your tool box. I have only used the free version, Pain Measurement, so cannot comment on the costs or features registering the app might provide. It does appear to offer a range of diary and record keeping options. Experienced horse people may scoff at the idea of an app to tell you if your horse is in pain. I thought the same until The Wonderpony just didn’t seem quite right one morning. Was I being an overanxious horse owner? Was I imagining things? The Wonderpony, like many horses, is a master at concealing pain or discomfort, so I decided this was a good opportunity to test the app and help me decide if a 45 minute drive to the nearest vet was warranted. Once you get to the measurement screen you can choose between the Composite Pain Scale (CPS) or Facial Expressions. The Composite Pain Score takes 5 minutes to complete and looks at six behaviours. The Facial Expressions is shorter at only 2 minutes and four behaviours. Each time your horse exhibits the behaviour you tap the icon. At the end of the test the app will give an assessment of the level of pain your horse is exhibiting based on the frequency of behaviours, and a recommendation about the need for veterinary care. The app recommended veterinary review for The Wonderpony based on the assessment. This validated my suspicions and I felt more confident to make the trip sooner rather than later. The vet found he had a very mild colic brought on by not chewing and drinking properly because of grass seed impaction. An easy fix helped by an early diagnosis and treatment thanks to this little free app.
Before you start either test you can review the exact symptoms you are looking for by selecting each icon. Some of the symptoms have audio samples of the sounds. I found this to be very situation. educational and well worth a look before using the app in a real pain assessment
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Some horses start out as one sex and are later discovered to have the opposite internal sex organs.
Fillies that are colts
that are fillies by Gene Che Yan Lee BVSc(hons) and Allison J. Stewart BVSc (Hons I) MS, DACVIM (LAIM), DACVECC, MANZCVS, PhD
HERMAPHRODITE OR INTERSEX EQUINES
A term used for foals born with physical, hormonal or genetic features that are neither wholly female nor wholly male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male. February/March 2021 - Page 52
ccasionally there are foals born where their sex is confusing or undeterminable as they possess physical features of both male and female.
Hermaphrodite is a word derived from Greek mythology. Hermaphroditus was the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, and possessed both male and female physical traits. An intersex accident that results in a hermaphrodite is caused by the insufficient release of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) - a hormone that triggers the development of male characteristics - or the lack of response to DHT in foetal development. DHT is responsible for the conversion of external genitalia into a penis and scrotum in a male foetus.
Hermaphrodites can be divided into two main categories—‘True Hermaphrodites’ and ‘Pseudohermaphrodites’.
‘True Hermaphrodites’ These are less common than pseudohermaphrodites, and occurs in horses that have external genitalia of one sex that are opposite to the internal sex organs (gonads). Gonads are the male and female primary reproductive organs. The male gonads are the testes and the female gonads are the ovaries. These reproductive system organs are necessary for sexual reproduction as they are responsible for the production of male and female gametes (egg cells for females, and sperm for males). For example, a horse that outwardly appears to be a filly may have teats and a vagina, yet on the inside there are testicles and not ovaries. Such ‘fillies’ can exhibit stallion-like behaviour due to the presence of testosterone produced by the testicles.
REPRODUCTION ORGANS Vagina
Horn of uterus Ovary
Body of uterus
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‘Pseudohermaphrodites’ The sex of a pseudohermaphrodite is determined according to its gonadal sex (reproductive organs). Male pseudohermaphrodites are most common, but they Continued outwardly resemble a filly or a mare.
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Filly or Colt continued... The testes are located inside the abdomen, either in the external inguinal ring or inguinal canal (just inside the scrotum between the hind legs). These males may have a large clitoris and vulva, which at first glance resembles that of a mare. However, on closer inspection the large clitoris resembles a penis-like structure and the vulva is actually a rudimentary prepuce (foreskin). There might also be the development of an udder (mammary gland) in male hermaphrodites. A non-castrated male pseudohermaphrodite may display stallion-like behaviour and can develop an erection of the rudimentary penis. Female pseudohermaphrodites resemble a colt or stallion. However, they have female ovaries but the external genitalia resemble those of a colt or stallion. For example, the ‘mare’ or ‘filly’ may have a penis-like structure, sheath and scrotum.
Diagnosis: The diagnosis of a hermaphrodite can be straight-forward by the obvious appearance of inappropriate external genitalia. However, further work-up could be performed to understand the underlying problem and ensure the health of the horse. Rectal palpation can be performed to confirm the absence of a uterus and cervix. Ultrasonography can be used to visualise the shape, consistency and location of the internal gonads (ovaries or testicles).
In addition, a genetic chromosomal test can be performed to reveal the karyotype. The normal karyotype is 64XX for females and 64XY for males. Although male hermaphrodites have testis, they are actually mostly genetically female with a karyotype of 64XX. Blood testosterone level can be measured after administration of hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) to detect the functional presence of, and abnormal concentration of, hormone production from the testicles.
If the malformed external genitalia is close to the anus, the horse will be ‘converted’ to look like a ‘mare’. The penis-like structure will be amputated. Surgical intervention is available to improve the cosmetic appearance of the unusually formed external genitalia. A new urethral passage is created to allow passage of urine, and labia of the vulva can be reconstructed using the rudimentary prepuce. If the external genitalia is closer to the nipples, the horse can be ‘converted’ to look like a ‘gelding’ by rotating the phallus-like structure and prepuce cranially. A tunnel is created under the skin to allow cranial advancement of the penis. The horse should be castrated 4 weeks prior to the surgery.
Removal of the testicles (castration) is highly recommended in hermaphrodites as the testicles are intra-abdominal or located in the inguinal ring so the horse is a cryptorchid or ‘rig’. All cryptorchids are at risk of testicular cancers and torsion of the spermatic cord, which can lead to colic-like signs. Castration will prevent the occurrence of such life-limiting complications and also obnoxious stallion-like behaviour. If the testicles are located high in the abdomen, then then they can be removed during standing sedation using laparoscopy (key-hole surgery) with small scars in the flanks. This surgery is usually performed by registered specialist veterinarians at referral hospitals. General anaesthesia and surgical removal through the base of the abdomen will not leave a visible scar, but carries the small risk of anaesthetic complications and is generally more expensive.
Equine researchers at a Canadian university identified a family group of horses in 2010 with a rare genetic abnormality, which meant they were termed as ‘intersex’. Koko, above, appeared to be a typical mare but after exhibiting stallion-like behaviour she was examined at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, where researchers discovered that Koko was in fact a male horse that appeared female and had internal testes. The researchers suspect Koko’s mother has a mutation on her X chromosome that causes male offspring to appear female. Female offspring show no abnormalities but can, in turn, pass it on to their male offspring. Koko’s younger sister, Sequoia, was also found to have internal testes, as were other ‘female’ horses in the same family. February/March 2021 - Page 54
Hermaphrodites are sterile, which means they do not have any reproductive capability. If testosterone is produced by testicles then the horse will exhibit stallion-like behaviour and can have behavioural problems. However, after castration and retraining, the horse can have a normal performance career.
About the Authors - The University of Queensland Gene Che Yan Lee BVSc(hons) Dr. Gene Lee has just completed her Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree at The University of Queensland. In 2021 she will complete an internship with the hope of eventually becoming a specialist in Equine Surgery.
ALLISON J STEWART Allison is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland, School of Veterinary Science. A registered specialist in Equine Internal Medicine and Large Animal Emergency and Critical Care she is also part of the Australian Equine Endocrinology advisory panel.
JUST HERMIE Kellie Parker from Tasmania, shares her story about living with a hermaphrodite.
Hermie’s penis is situated just below the anus.
He is what he is and we love him, quirks and all. one little bit although many tried to tell me he should be put down, he was a freak, he would be dangerous etc etc but we have raised him with a firm but gentle hand and he now is able to be ridden with mares, geldings and even other stallions, he is well behaved on track and has the makings of an exceptional athlete. I also run him with a gelding for company and they get along just fine. The only allowances I need to make are with his rugs. We do have to cut tail flaps off any rugs he wears as it prevents him getting his tail out of the way when urinating and until I figured this out we did have a problem with a rash/scald type situation on the underside of his tail and around his A Welsh breeder in WA had a foal born in 2019 that was originally thought to be colt. However, on closer examination it was found to also have teats situated underneath near the penis. Under the tail has just an anus. The owners are currently seeking veterinary advice to determine the sex and the best outcome for the foal’s future.
sheath but he’s been very well handled around this area since weaning and let’s me clean and apply creams when necessary. Vets seem to think that he has internal testicals, but exactly where they are situated remains a mystery as I’ve never had ultrasounds or exploratory surgery performed. When the vet anesthetized him at one stage I had a really good look and it appears that his penis is not fully formed, in that the actual head of the penis is perfectly formed but there is probably only another inch and 1/2 of shaft within the sheath as opposed to a normal horse. I feel like we have no issues currently so why put him through invasive procedures.
Christie Lyn Photography
“Hermie, as he is affectionately known is my hermaphrodite. I refer to him as a “him” because his behavior is all stallion. I like to joke that it’s very acceptable to be genderless these days but Hermie identifies as a stallion. A former partner and I bred Hermie, we owned both the stallion and mare and this was to be the pair’s second foal. The morning he was born we went to check on him but this was a difficult mare and she would always take her foals to the furthest corner away from humans, so we checked from a distance that the foal was drinking, going to the toilet and mum was ok and clean, checked her after birth and left them to do as nature intended. It did look as though something was not quite right under her tail (we thought we had a filly at this stage) but as we couldn’t get close and she was weeing and pooing just fine we put it down to swelling, which can sometimes happen with little girls. It wasn’t until we ran them in, to wean the foal that we realised this was no normal foal. He has a penis under his tail that faces up as though it has done a 180 degree turn during development in the womb but also a perfectly formed pair of teats just like a mare. A good old Google search revealed what we were dealing with and then the research began. After consulting with a local equine specialist vet we decided that Hermie deserved a chance as a ridden prospect. The plan was to treat him as a stallion as those were the behaviours he was showing and so long as there were no temperament or discipline issues we would continue with his education. Endurance is my chosen discipline and the purpose for which Hermie was bred so he started his life as an endurance horse Its been a long slow road through no fault of his own, but he has to date completed 2 x 40 km rides and 1 x 80 km ride. Now an 8 year old he is a delight to ride and seems to really enjoy getting out and about; he does have to be managed a little differently because of what he is but he really is no trouble and has become my best mate. I don’t regret my decision to give him a chance
relaxed and balanced rider by Sarah Warne For me, a great rider is one who is able to relax and move with the horse while maintaining their own balance and posture. They are able to guide the horse in and out of the exercises without tightening their body and without the use of force. To do this a rider needs to be strong through their core so they do not use the horse to balance, and most horses, within this position of strength and stability, will then find relaxation.
Something my Pilates instructor said to me recently was that the key to most top-level sports is training the body to relax in a position of strength, or endurance, or speed. This is why the work off the horse is so important. If you cannot hold and balance yourself alone, and coordinate your body well in different positions, how can you do it when riding without using the horse and altering its own balance?
Riding is about finding relaxation in a position that requires strength, both in terms of horse and rider. It’s being strong and stable enough yourself to be able to relax and let the horse do it. Think about it…the horse must be strong enough to perform the exercise, but be able to relax within it.
The rider must be strong enough to hold their posture, their seat and their legs in place, strong enough to position the horse, to provide the necessary pressure for the aids, but to be able to relax within that position of strength. It seems so easy… find your position, then relax. But in terms of both horse and rider, this concept is extremely difficult to achieve. Why? Because both horse and rider often fall too far on either side of the relaxation/strength spectrum. A rider will either use too much force (strength) without the necessary relaxation, and produce a horse that is tense and being moved around the arena February/March 2021 - Page 56
by the use of harsh aids and strong hands, or the rider will be too relaxed in the saddle and will seem to flop about with the horse, without being able to let the horse balance, because their own weight is being distributed unevenly and without any correct posture or balance. In terms of the horse, it is often either too strong and leaning on the hand, having not learned the value of strength and relaxation in correct posture to establish self-carriage and balance, or, alternatively, is too relaxed and thus does not have the strength to carry itself and relies on the physical effort of its rider to sort of ‘drive’ it around the arena. So, how do we find the right balance between strength and relaxation?
How do we find that ‘Relaxation From A Strength Position’ that is so hard to find, yet is at the heart of all dressage training from young horse to Grand Prix (and in fact, all riding disciplines)? First, in terms of the rider…well this comes down to body awareness. Often as riders we have muscles that over-activate. This means that when we want to do a simple movement, our muscles go all in and use more than the necessary strength required. This also means that when we think we have relaxed a muscle, we actually have only relaxed it partially. If you don’t believe me, sit down on the floor with your feet together and your knees out to the side. Relax your adductors (the muscles in your inner thigh that support balance and alignment. These stabilising muscles are used to move the hips and thighs toward the midline of your body). Then, think about whether they are really relaxed and try to really let them go… Typically, you will have one of those “oh!” moments, where you realise that your idea of relaxed, and actually fully relaxed, are two different things. Once we can learn how to fully relax - often yoga or Pilates helps a lot - we can learn how to hold and balance our own bodies evenly, and then relax, maintaining that position of strength. Doing it on the horse is more difficult, and it takes patience, work, thought and help!
Rider showing a correct balanced seat. This position allows the rider to use their core to position themselves, thus allowing the horse to find its own balance.
Leaning back and bracing against the horse. This forces the rider to use the reins to balance themselves, creating tension and making it impossible for the horse to find its own balance. Instead it is pushed around the arena.
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It would seem this rider is exaggerating the position but sadly, if you watch tests at high levels, you will often see the rider’s position particularly in canter and extended trot - is almost at a 45 degree angle with the horse. Thanks to Debbie Warne (mum) for ‘modelling’ for photosgrahs.
For the horse, well, Nuno Oliveira used to say that “the horse is not a machine, but a living being. Therefore, we must know what dose of relaxation and degree of vigor that we must employ with each horse.” What he meant, of course, is that the dose of strength vs. relaxation required on one horse, will be vastly different to that required on another.
We must learn to set the horse up for the movement and then let it do the work, allowing it to relax into the movement, move alone, and build the strength to carry out said exercise with ease.The horse will then learn to not only relax physically in the exercise but also mentally, because its rider is not banging and crashing about with every stride. Finding relaxation from a position of strength, poise and balance, is about patience, feel and adjustment. All the elements of dressage that we must incorporate into every training, until things become effortless.
“The criteria of a good rider is a rider that we cease to notice, and we only watch the horse,” said Nuno Oliveira. February/March 2021 - Page 57
By Dr Tom Ahern
Is your horse crazy…or just tired and irritable?
ur horses seem to have an idyllic life as, apart from the very short time most of us are riding or training them, they spend their days either sleeping or eating. We are accustomed to seeing them either flat out in the paddock or standing with head drooping and catching a nap. But just how much sleep does your horse need and…is it actually getting enough? Sleep is essential for a horse’s well-being, yet it is rarely considered as part of our management plan. It’s not just any sleep that is necessary, the horse must have at least 30 minutes a day of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which occurs where it enters a state of temporary unconsciousness and its muscles become inactive and
About the Author: Dr Tom Ahern BVSc MRCVS Equine Veterinarian and Researcher.
Dr Tom Ahern graduated from Sydney University in 1978, then entered equine practice. Very early in his career he became interested in breathing problems in horses and began developing his own surgical approach to deal with some of the more common issues. Since Tom1990’s Ahern - email@example.com the early he has worked exclusively in this field.
W: www.DrTom Ahern.com P: 0423 246 144 www.drtomahern.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org February/March 2021 - Page 58
completely relaxed. This only happens when the horse is lying down. Horses that are sleep deprived can exhibit a number of physical and psychological behaviours.
SLEEP PHASES There are four phases of sleep a horse experiences - diffuse drowsiness, intermediary, slow wave and paradoxical or ‘deep’ sleep. The specific type of sleep deprivation that is most concerning is a lack of paradoxical, or ‘deep’ sleep, which normally occurs whilst the horse is lying down (lateral recumbency).
DEEP SLEEP OR PARADOXICAL The fourth phase, referred to as paradoxical or ‘deep sleep’, occurs when the horse lies down (lateral recumbency). In this phase, REM occurs. A horse only requires approximately 30 minutes of this type of sleep daily.
DIFFUSE DROWSINESS This can occur whilst the horse is standing. At this stage, the horse has one hind limb off the ground whilst supported on the other three legs. Its head is slightly lowered and usually to one side.
INTERMEDIARY PHASE The next phase occurs just before the horse sits down (referred to as achieving ‘sternal recumbency’ where the horse is lying down on its stomach, with its legs tucked and head and neck off the ground). Again, on three legs but now the head is lowered to wither level. This is an alert phase where the horse checks its environment to make sure there are no predators about and that a companion animal is on guard to warn them if one does appear.
SLOW WAVE Next the horse moves to the sternal recumbency position. Diffuse drowsiness is resumed and then the third phase of ‘slow wave’ sleep begins.
This fourth phase often occurs in the early morning, a time when most predators are also asleep. During this phase of sleep the body’s muscles (except the respiratory muscles) are so relaxed that they are in a state similar to that of paralysed muscles. The horse therefore could not support its frame in any position other than recumbency. Very occasionally this ‘deep’ or REM sleep occurs whilst the horse is still in a sitting position or sternal recumbency with its head to one side. If REM sleep was to occur whilst standing the horse would collapse due to the sudden muscle relaxation.
SLEEP CRASHING As much as all phases of sleep are important and any degree of sleep deprivation will quite obviously impact both performance and behaviour, as it does with ourselves, it is a lack of paradoxical sleep that impacts a horse’s life most dramatically. A horse can go without this form of sleep for extended periods (up to several weeks), however, continued deprivation can lead to what is referred to as ‘sleep crashing’.
Are they convulsions? Does your horse have a brain tumour? Or is IT just crazy? Your horse goes from being calm and relaxed one minute to highly reactive and even explosive the next. You may be adjusting some tack, beginning a ride, tightening the girth, or walking it out of its stall when it suddenly… • leaps forward • rushes backwards • collapses onto its knees • explodes for no reason
Firstly, a few questions! Does it struggle with body condition? Is its coat unhealthy? Is its behaviour highly unpredictable? Does it yawn occasionally, or more often? Does it rarely lie down, including in the early morning? Does it spend abnormal periods of time lying down, usually in the late morning? Does it usually sleep on its haunches (sitting up) with its head to the side rather than lying down? Is this usually a ‘very relaxed’ but also in some circumstances ‘unpredictable’ horse …in reality just a ‘very tired animal’? As much as there may be a number of explanations for these changes and altered behaviours, the possibility that your horse may be suffering from sleep deprivation should always be considered.
Quite simply, with a continued lack of this deep sleep, the horse’s brain will eventually decide to initiate sleep regardless of the circumstances, often at rather disconcerting times. You may be adjusting a piece of tack or leading your horse out of its stall when it suddenly buckles at the knees and begins to collapse. At the same time, you may notice its eyeballs roll backwards and flicker. Your horse then wakes just as suddenly, often in a semi- panicked state, and then regains its stance. Occasionally they will then leap forwards or backwards. Continued February/March 2021 - Page 59
SLEEP TERRORS ‘Sleep terrors’ are a less common consequence of sleep deprivation. They can be very dramatic though - with sudden explosions of sometimes violent and seemingly uncontrolled behaviour. This can include crashing into walls, galloping whilst kicking out behind as if a dog is snapping at its heels and, during these periods, emitting sounds that have been best described as ‘horse screaming’!
Your horse can wake suddenly, often in a semipanicked state.
‘Sleep crashing’ is often confused with another sleep disorder referred to as ‘narcolepsy’. This condition is quite uncommon in horses. With narcolepsy, the affected horse will not attempt to support itself when it suddenly falls asleep and will crash to the ground and lie there.
The most common reason for a horse becoming sleep deprived would be the lack of a companion or ‘guard’ that they are comfortable with, to keep an eye out for predators or other dangers whilst they are asleep.
‘Hypersomnia’ is another consequence of sleep deprivation, which is defined as a feeling of excessive sleepiness. These individuals are often referred to as being very relaxed but in fact may be too relaxed. They may be seen yawning occasionally or in some cases frequently. They may also spend excessive amounts of time lying down, which often occurs in the late morning.
CASE DESCRIPTION In July 2013, a rising 4-year-old unraced Thoroughbred gelding was purchased to be trained for dressage. In October, the horse was sent to a breaker to be re-schooled as its aberrant behaviour suggested that its original education may have been inadequate. On the ground the horse appeared to have a split personality.
It was extremely lethargic and frequently seen yawning, was prone to tripping and stumbling when walked in-hand and yet could also become aggressive, biting and lashing out when being geared up.
significant or incriminating abnormalities. Despite frequent observations, only one report on the state of its eyes during these prolonged recumbencies was available. On this occasion the eyes appeared to be in a state of rapid eye movement (REM) but remained open. At one point the lids did close momentarily before opening again. Several months later a professional trainer of some thirty years experience was employed to take over the horse’s education as it appeared to have little respect for its owner and others who were involved with its handling.
One other unusual behaviour was its daily routine of moving to lateral recumbency (lying down) for extended periods of up to two hours at a time. This most often occurred around late morning.
One example of what was perceived to be a lack of respect was when, on a number of occasions and with different attendants, as the lead rope was being attached, the horse would suddenly lurch forward and walk straight over the handler. At other times, the horse would firstly roll its eyes into the back of its head as occurs in an oculogyric crisis (OGC). It would then take several short steps forward and launch itself into the air. On landing, it appeared to return to a normal state. This did not occur under saddle. In the months that followed these incidents the handler adopted the tact of using physical and audible stimulation to arouse the horse when altered behaviours were anticipated.
Several veterinary examinations of both a medical and orthopedic nature revealed no
There appeared to be some reduction in these, however the lethargy, stumbling and daily
The lethargy and inattentive stumbling was also apparent when being ridden but at this stage there were no aggressive traits exhibited when under saddle.
February/March 2021 - Page 60
Recumbencies In August 2014, the horse was taken to a training camp and yarded overnight without company. The following day, it was readied for its lesson and mounted. It took two steps and then exploded. A period of uncoordinated bucking and kicking then followed, which lasted for several minutes. This behaviour from a horse previously described by its owners as lethargic and rarely seen exercising. As time passed, the episodes of unpredictable behaviour continued. On several occasions whilst standing in the wash bay, an oculogyric crisis (OGC) would be evident. The horse would then launch itself into the air, halt, charge forward, launch, halt and continue this for up to a minute.
On one occasion when the horse had just been saddled, it suddenly exploded, crashing into walls, seemingly oblivious to the presence of obstacles or people. It then leapt out of the barn and charged over two twenty metre sand piles and eventually careered into a ditch. These were obstacles that in normal circumstances this horse would avoid.
Dominant mares are often the most trusted. Other reasons include stable and show protocols that are constantly interrupting a horse’s sleep, older horses with arthritic joints that may find it difficult to lie down and/or get up, and late pregnancy - with the associated large abdomen that makes lying down both difficult and uncomfortable for a mare. There is also another, less common, cause that has yet to be fully investigated. Some horses appear to suffer from a form of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), that is well-documented in people. During deep sleep, a horse’s breathing muscles are very relaxed. Their upper airways (throat) collapse more commonly when these respiratory muscles are relaxed or fatigued. This situation in the exercising horse is commonly referred to as ‘choking’ or technically as palatal instability (PI), dynamic pharyngeal collapse (DPC) or dorsal displacement of the soft palate (DDSP). If these conditions occur during the deep sleep phase, then the horse can be suddenly aroused. If this happens frequently it can deter the horse from seeking recumbent sleep and it may then attempt to get its REM sleep whilst sitting, or worse, be forced into this deep sleep phase whilst standing. This new theory has arisen with observations of changed sleep habits following surgery to reduce the impact of these upper airway dysfunctions.
In May 2015, the daily periods of recumbency appeared to cease. There had been no significant changes in environment or herd status as the horse was on the same property and still paddocked next to a dominant mare.
Screaming After this, the next major incident was when the property owner was awakened at 2am by the sounds of what she described as “blood curdling screams” coming from the barn. The horse was found staggering, screaming, lashing out and throwing itself on the walls with such force that plaster was being dislodged in the next room. There appeared to be little coordinated or conscious control over these actions. Several minutes passed and the events ceased. Two further incidents occurred when the head collar was being fitted prior to bringing the horse in from the paddock. On the first occasion, the horse lurched forward knocking the handler to the ground before collapsing. The second episode was more severe. As the head collar was being placed, the horse firstly extended its head and neck and its body appeared to stiffen. Rapid eye movements were evident before it collapsed backwards over the fence. It then
How do you know if your horse is getting enough sleep and, in particular, paradoxical sleep? Obviously, personal observation is first but if that is not practicable, a night vision camera or a rug sensor will give you a good idea of how long your horse spends lying down. If you believe - through observation of a lack of recumbent sleep or the presence of behavioural changes - that your horse may not be getting enough sleep, then you should consult your veterinarian or a qualified animal behaviourist. In most cases, changes in the horse’s routine, environment or companion will result in a return to normal sleep habits. Medication in the form of a tailored pain relief program may be required where joint or arthritic pain is preventing your horse being able to lie down. However, if these changes do not lead to a resumption of normal periods of sleep while lying down then the possibility that your horse is experiencing a form of equine ‘obstructive sleep apnea’ triggered by upper airway collapse should be considered. For this assessment you will need to consult a veterinarian who is experienced in this area.
got to its feet and careered down the fence line, staggering and kicking out as though a dog was snapping at its heels. The previously described screaming then began whilst the horse continued cantering about the paddock. Several minutes later this behaviour ceased and the horse was able to be taken in-hand. It was sweating profusely, tachycardic with visible pulsations of the chest wall.
Treatment On the 29th of August 2015, the horse presented at the author’s practice. At this time, fourteen weeks had elapsed since there had been any evidence of recumbent sleep. There had been no significant environmental or social changes during this period and historically the horse was able to physically attain recumbency An upper airway examination revealed significant ulceration and wear of the mid-free border of the soft palate. In the author’s opinion this was typical of the changes seen in cases of chronic PI [9,11]. In the absence of any other etiological avenues, the possibility that PI  or pharyngeal instability  with resultant UAO may have been impacting negatively
A group sleep obviously horses that are comfortable in their environment and with their companions. Dr Tom Ahern reported that after his article Roar No More, in the Dec Jan issue, he performed surgery on a horse that the owner described as doing ‘all those things’ mentioned in the article. After working the horse for the first two days (following surgery) the owner declared that its breathing was normal for the first time in its life!
on the horse’s ability to experience sufficient paradoxical sleep was discussed with the owner. It was agreed the horse would undergo an oral palatopharyngoplasty (OPP)  procedure in an attempt to reduce the incidence of this instability. Following surgery, the horse was rested for eight weeks prior to resuming training. In the immediate postoperative period the horse, which was already in poor condition, lost considerably more weight.
RESULTS In the eight months since resuming ridden exercise the horse had steadily gained weight. There had been no significant alterations to its diet. It was now described by its owner as being in extremely good condition with a normal healthy coat. The horse also resumed regular recumbency although more often during the evening rather than late morning, which had been its habit. There had been no further episodes of collapsing, screaming or other untoward behaviours. Stumbling was now a rarity and the horse was described as being alert and keen to work. The yawning had ceased. February/March 2021 - Page 61
Equestrian Confirmed for Paris Olympics
Australian Veterinary Assoc. Celebrate 100 years The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), which is the ‘ voice’ of Australia’s veterinary profession, celebrate 100 years this year with a number of initiatives to mark the occasion. These include celebrating their ‘100 Living Treasures’ of the profession, acknowledging their ‘Heroes of History’, developing an AVA historical timeline, honouring ‘Your local vet’, working with their future profession and working with universities through a Student Program and utilising the annual VetEd Talks and incorporating a ‘future’ theme. The inaugural meeting leading to the formation of the AVA was held on 12th January, 1921 at the University of Melbourne. Since then the AVA has made a significant impact in areas such as antimicrobial resistance and prescribing guidelines, the welfare of racehorses over their entire lifetime, and the care of livestock and wildlife affected by environmental disasters. As AVA president Dr Warwick Vale explains, “Veterinarians provide unique and vital services that are essential to our community. Australians can feel proud of our veterinarians in the contribution they have made to animal health and welfare of pets, farm animals and wildlife over the last 100 years—at a local, national and international level.”
Equine Asthma Research After a workshop in 2019 on Equine Asthma, Dr. Dorothee Bienzle from Ontario Veterinary College contributed to a global collaborative research paper - The current understanding and future directions of Equine Asthma research. Bienzle and her team concentrated on the host response to challenges like dusty barn air by looking at the epithelium in the lung and through next generation sequencing, distinguished differences in gene expression between asthmatic and non-asthmatic horses. They observed a lack of repair functions in horses with end stage equine asthma such as a reduced ability to produce cytokines in adequate numbers and the inability to recruit undifferentiated epithelial cells to repair epithelial damage. Unfortunately for the time being there are no early predictors of equine asthma. It may be possible that bouts of inflammatory airway disease at a younger age could predispose horses to asthma in later years but as of yet such evidence is not available. Bienzle explains the need to follow a large group of horses over their lifespan to come up with better predictors. February/March 2021 - Page 62
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that all equestrian disciplines will go ahead at the Paris 2024 Olympics with the full quota of 200 combinations across the three disciplines with six medal chances. The news was welcomed by the equestrian world with FEI president and IOC member Ingmar De Vos saying the confirmation shows the efforts the horse world has put in to increase its fan base and improve its digital offering to the world. “We are very happy to receive formal approval of our three disciplines for Paris 2024 from the IOC executive board and also confirmation that our athlete quota remains untouched at 200.” Equestrian sport keeps its quota of 75 combinations for jumping, 65 for eventing and 60 for dressage at the 2024 Games, which will be staged in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, as well as team and individual medals for all three disciplines.
NRG Doggie Pink Noze is Zinc Free When the well known family owned company The NRG team launched their two new canine products recently they underestimated the overwhelming positive response they’d receive from the canine industry. Two of their popular equine products were reformulated especially for dogs with NRG Doggie Pink Noze and NRG Doggie No-Nots appealing to those looking for Australian made products developed specifically for Australian conditions. With many horse owners having already been using NRG Pink Noze on their dog’s noses and pink skin with no reports of any issues to date the release of their initial batch of 90g Doggie Pink Noze,the small amount of zinc contained in the product prompted some feedback from dog customers with concerns about zinc being ingested by dogs. Original research conducted by The NRG Team consultants showed that the amount of zinc possibly ingested was well below tolerance levels but to save concern and keep a necessary product on the shelves, NRG have replaced the zinc with Titanium Dioxide, a safe product used in Australian dog feeds. Safe and accepted as an important barrier cream for dogs’ noses, ears and exposed pink skin, NRG Doggie Pink Noze is a gentle, easy to apply barrier cream containing vitamin E which is now zinc free. Visit www. nrgteam.com.au for details.
MIMClip Technology For International Eventing In accordance with the 2021 FEI Eventing Rules approved by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) General Assembly in November 2020, from 1st January 2021 MIMclip technology will be used at all levels of international eventing competition (CCI*-CCI5*). MIMclips allow crosscountry fences to collapse under both forward and upward pressure and are designed to prevent rotational falls, which are the sort that most commonly lead to serious injuries to horses and riders. MIMclips have been in use at international horse trials worldwide for more than ten years, the Swedish-made frangible devices the only ones to pass the new FEI testing standards to date. All new cross-country jumps constructed after January 1, 2021 that can be built as frangible fences must incorporate frangible technology and comply with the updated standards. Devices manufactured according to the previous standard specifications (Version 1(.22)) can be used until December 31, 2021. Seven types of MIMclip have passed the FEI Eventing Risk Management Group’s tests to date. Information can be found at the FEI website https://inside.fei.org/fei/disc/ eventing/risk-management/devices
Can Equine Therapy Help People With Parkinson’s Disease?
Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) and its effect on adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is set to be explored in a new research project funded by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). The study, which will be led by researchers from the Texas Woman’s University School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology, will compare bradykinesia (or slowness of movement) severity and functional outcomes before and after eight weeks of EAT in adults with PD and characterise the resulting human-animal interaction. “While research studies examining the physiological benefits of horseback riding have been conducted before, there is a lack of published research regarding the physical adaptations of EAT in adults with PD,” said the study’s principal investigator, B. Rhett Rigby, PhD. “We hope the results of this study will further the efficacy of EAT as a novel treatment modality for this population, and lead to a more widespread acceptance by healthcare practitioners.” Researchers will work with 30 men diagnosed with PD, aged 40 to 80 years. Fifteen participants will complete eight weeks of EAT, while the remaining 15 will complete a similar protocol on a horseback riding simulator. The EAT intervention will contain 17 total sessions over a period of eight weeks, with a licensed physical therapist overseeing and conducting all EAT sessions. Similar protocols will be in place for the simulated riding sessions. Information on the study can be found at the Human Animal Bond Research Institute website.
Brumby Numbers Down in Kosciuszko National Park
An aerial survey commissioned by the NSW Government, the first since the catastrophic 2019 bushfires, has found that the number of wild horses in the Kosciuszko National Park has fallen by more than a quarter. The survey, which was carried out by helicopter surveillance in October and November 2020 after NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro called for one following the prolonged drought and unprecedented bushfire season, found there are now an estimated 14,000 horses — 5,000 fewer than the previous year. The NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean, who welcomed the new data, said while there had been some reduction in numbers the population remained too large to be environmentally sustainable. “If we want to preserve this precious place and the plants and animals that call it home, we need to manage horse numbers responsibly.”The National Parks and Wildlife Service has long voiced concerned that the damage caused by the horses’ hooves threatens sensitive alpine ecosystems and destroys key habitat for several threatened native species, with surveys conducted between 2014 and 2019 showing that the horse population was increasing by more than 20 per cent each year. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has said he is pleased to be finally dealing in facts and the NSW Government can get on with finding the right balance between
Canada’s show-jumping team barred from Tokyo Olympics
recognising the cultural and heritage significance of the iconic brumby and managing their environmental impact. The survey results will inform a new draft wild horse management plan that is expected to go on public exhibition in the first half of 2021.
British Stallion Event Goes Virtual The biggest show of stallions based in the UK will go ahead in 2021 as a virtual event. The annual independent showcase of top sport horse stallions standing in the UK is much anticipated by breeders with over 70 stallions for dressage, showjumping and eventing demonstrating their skills in the arena and available to view in the stables. On taking the event online this year due to the current Covid situation the Director of British Breeding, Jane Skepper, said, “We decided to run the virtual event because it is important, even in these extraordinary times, that breeders still have the opportunity to see a wide variety of stallions, and this time of year is crucial for those looking to select sires and make breeding decisions.” The format for the virtual event will encompass the spirit of the live event, with each stallion featured in detail and unique, pre-recorded videos of them competing, training and at home. Stallion owners will be interviewed live and will be available online for questions and answers. Interested breeders can register to attend the live webinar, which will also be livestreamed via social media and available to watch on the British Breeding website. The event commences on February 10 with the eventing stallions, followed by the showjumpers on February 17, and the dressage stallions on February 24. Visit the British Breeding website https://british-breeding.com/ or their Facebook page for details.
Canada’s show-jumping team have been disqualified from the Tokyo Olympic Games after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected an appeal of a doping violation. Canada had looked to have earned a spot in this year’s COVID-19 delayed Olympics after placing fourth in the equestrian event at the 2019 Lima Pan Am Games. The team were later disqualified and the team dropped to seventh place after Nicole Walker’s in-competition test was found to contain the banned substance benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine. Walker said she had inadvertently consumed the banned substance drinking coca tea, a popular Peruvian drink.However, the Lausanne-based CAS ruled against Walker and Equestrian Canada after a hearing held by video on Dec. 21 and Dec. 23 2020. Walker was also stripped of her fourth place finish in the individual jumping competition. As result of Canada’s disqualification, Argentina move up from fifth to fourth, claiming the final Olympic berth from the team competition. Canada will now be able to send only one jumping athlete to Tokyo to compete in the individual event. February/March 2021 - Page 63
3D Printing Revolutionising Learning
Parts of the neck
Anatomical models of the equine neck, created by 3D printing, are revolutionising how veterinary students and graduates practice the precise placement required in ultrasoundguided injections. Radiologist and Ontario Veterinary College researcher Dr. Alex zur Linden, along with Doctor of Veterinary Science graduate student Alexandra Beaulieu, teamed up with John Phillips, Senior Design Engineer, School of Fine Art and Music and director of 3D printing in the Interdisciplinary Design Lab to come up with some exciting models that are the first of their kind in the veterinary field. “We hope the research to create these models will serve as a resource for the scientific community to make similar models,” says our Linden. Since 2018, zur Linden and his team have been working with Dr. Phillips, testing thirteen different types of materials and printers in combination to compare which model would work best to simulate real bone using ultrasound. Six of the materials proved suitable for simulating bone or joints for use with ultrasound. The team succeeded in creating model vertebrae of the equine neck and embedded them in ballistics gel to simulate the soft tissues surrounding the bones. These models will give the veterinary community the opportunity to practice ultrasound guided procedures with instant feedback. There is great potential for this technology to enhance student learning and to improve the quality of care for the patients. CT scans from unique cases could be used to create models that would provide vet students opportunities to practice with an array of abnormalities. “This project, funded by Equine Guelph, afforded the opportunity to work with so many different printers and materials. I am looking forward to sharing results and collaborating with other researchers, working on more challenging and different models including constructing blood vessels and airways for interventional radiology procedures.”
NSW Woman Convicted on Multiple Animal Cruelty Charges A woman who was previously convicted on animal cruelty charges and banned from owning horses was convicted in late December in Bega Local Court on four counts of animal cruelty to four horses on properties in Candelo and Tantawangalo on the New South Wales far south coast. Janice Louise Denny, also known as Janice Northey, represented herself in court and maintained her plea of not guilty but was convicted on four counts of animal cruelty. RSPCA Inspector James Arentz gave evidence as a first-hand witness and told the court he first investigated a property at Tantawangalo in November 2019 after receiving complaints about animal negligence. He said he found horses tied up with ropes and leather neck ties without access to water on the property, prompting him to take notes and photos of the poor conditions. Horses from the Candelo and Tantawangalo properties were seized and taken into RSPCA care with the Vet who examined the horses telling the court that the horses were clearly suffering from severe malnourishment, weight loss and muscle loss. Magistrate Doug Dick sentenced Denny to a three-year long community correction order and fined her $6,000. He also ordered that the horses be taken into RSPCA custody, prohibited Denny to own or manage any horses for five years and demanded that more than $28,000 in costs be paid to the RSPCA. A spokesperson for the RSCPA said the sentence sent a clear message to the community about the importance of ensuring the welfare of animals. When previously convicted on 54 animal cruelty charges in 2015, Denny was banned from owning horses and ordered her to pay fines and costs totalling more than $103,000.
February/March 2021 - Page 64
Three Venues Vie for 2021 European Eventing Championships The FEI European Eventing Championships is looking to go ahead after organising teams from three venues have made bids to host the competition. Tentatively scheduled for autumn, Italy’s Montelibretti, Switzerland’s Avenches, and the Netherlands’ Boekelo have all registered their interest in hosting the championship. The eventing championship – originally scheduled to take place at France’s Haras du Pin from August 11–15 – and the showjumping and dressage championships, intended to run in Budapest, Hungary from August 23–30, were initially cancelled after the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. But a successful push for reconsideration saw the latter two disciplines granted relocated and rescheduled dates for their championships – while eventing remained firmly off the table throughout the latter half of 2020. After a campaign spearheaded by reigning Reserve European Champion Michael Jung built up a considerable head of steam across social media the bidding process was reopened in December after Jung cited the new Olympic format, which will see just three horses and riders to a team, as one of the primary motivators for the reinstatement of the Championships, which provide essential mileage to developing nations and inexperienced combinations.
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