April May 2021 Hoofbeats magazine

Page 1






Dealing with


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‘GOOD OLD BOOTS’ Replacing your riding boots



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hoofbeats A National Riding, Training and Horse Care Magazine . . . . incorporating The Green Horse -sustainable horsekeeping.

Vol 42-6 April/May 2021


Missing global travel? Take your horse on a fabulous local holiday and enjoy our country’s amazing diversity for some unforgettable equestrian experiences. Part 1 of a two Part series.

10: ADDING ‘GAS’ with Hayley Beresford

Holidaying With Your Horse

The development of youngsters Fridalein, Dagobert and Daintree continues at Eiserner Hof as Hayley explains the concept of positive tension, half-halt and adds ‘gas’ in her down-to-earth look at training and teaching our horses to ‘dance’ together with us.

16: The Old Horse – FROM PERFORMANCE TO RETIREMENT by Dr Jennifer Stewart

Recognising the changes associated with ageing can help owners better manage their horse’s requirements through the ageing process with regards to competing, exercise, feeding, body condition and overall needs.


Jumping at the opportunity to train at Stefan Wolff’s equestrian centre in Germany in 2019 with her horse, Australian dressage rider Rebecca Williams-O’Brien shares her experience as COVID-19 changed everything. The Old Horse - From Performance To Retirement

26: DENTAL DECAY by Celine Bønnelykke

Maintaining the health of a horse’s teeth with appropriate and regular dental care is vital for their overall health and well being. Equine ‘filling’ are now an option to relieve tooth pain.

30: GOOD OLD BOOTS – Replacing your Riding Boots

Dental Decay - equine ’filling’ - before and after.

Some riders hang on to their favourite pair of boots well past their prime while others welcome the opportunity to get a shiny new pair whenever they can. How can we tell when it might be time to say goodbye to our most comfy and well-worn boots?


April May 2021 - Page 2


Lovely Lawns on your equine property

Podcasts - listen and learn while you work ride or drive. Rebecca Williams-O’Brien and her overseas COVID experience.

Injury prevention in the equine athlete


Unfortunately, each year many Australians are affected by floods and bushfires. The repercussions of the devastating 2019/2020 bushfire season are still felt by so many. More were impacted this season too, including those faced with the tragic loss of their properties in a tight knit equestrian community in Perth in February. And, as we go to press, parts of both NSW and Victoria are under water in what they are calling the 100 year flood. For those of us fortunate enough to live in semi-rural and rural areas with our horses, we know that equestrians rely have a special connection with their neighbours who share their passion and enthusiasm for horses. When tragedy strikes, and unfortunately in our climate and proximity to areas prone to the risk of fires and floods, the equestrian community rallies around to help. It was so heartening to hear of the many people and businesses offering to help those impacted by the Perth Hills fire and the support and recovery efforts that will hopefully assist those affected to cope in the months and years ahead as they slowly rebuild their properties and lifestyle. As everyone in Australia (and the world) knows, the tourism industry has been hard hit recently and we’re all being encouraged to get out and about to explore our own country. For many horse owners the idea of being able to holiday with horses, either your own or with those belonging to someone else, sounds like the perfect holiday. Well, get ready to be tempted to plan your next getaway with Holidays with Horse - on page 4 - highlighting a number of different holidays with horses around the country. Part two will cover a variety of other options so we’d love to hear your ideal holiday with horses, one you may have experienced already or would like to plan for in the future. You can contact us via enquiries@hoofbeats.com. au or feel free to get in touch via our Facebook page. The Hoofbeats Team MANAGING EDITOR: Sandy Hannan ADVERTISING: Tracy Weaver-Sayer GRAPHICS Michelle Quinn, Jacqueline Anderson Produced by


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Back health - who should treat your horse and when?


Dressage Coach Mary Warren explains how to improve your sitting trot and why horses yawn is explained. Do you know why your horse yawns? And, who knew that the heavy horse placed on hoof directly in front of the other when it walked?

46: PODCASTS –listen and learn while you work or drive Self confessed appaholic Deidre Rennick shares her insights into equestrian podcasts and those she favours while driving and completing chores on the property.


Horse owners can incorporate a number of management aspects into their routine to optimise their horse’s performance and reduce their risk of injury.

54: WHEN, AND BY WHOM, SHOULD I HAVE MY HORSE’S BACK TREATED? by Dr Tom Ahern Recognising if and when your horse might have back pain can be complicated; so too can be working out how best to proceed with assistance and solutions.

58: ABSORBING THE SITTING TROT BOUNCE by Britta Pedersen A rider requires body awareness and fitness to be able to sit to the trot and not negatively affect the horse’s movement through their body.

60:TRAINING TIPS - demystifying dressage marks

National dressage judge and coach Gill Botten demystifies dressage marks to achieve a better result in your next test.

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The grey gelding Algebra, an Off The Track Thougroughbred originally purchased for $1,500 ended up competing internationally in eventing - with Natalie Blundell and then Andrew Hoy - until the age of 20, when he retired back to Australia with owners Julia McLean and John Glenn (NSW). April May 2021 - Page 3

HOL IDAY with your Horse

By Andie Wyatt

Photo courtesy Pack Saddling Australia



ith overseas travel impossible for the time being, and high-level stress due to the pandemic, more Australians are connecting with nature by exploring our own vast and spectacular backyard. This country offers epic riding holidays in every state and territory, from camping and glamping in the bush and trekking through outback or high country, to cantering along beaches, immersive clinics or relaxing farm stays. There’s plenty to do for everyone, including friends and family members who are not interested in horse activities. While Australia has fared better than most countries during the pandemic, many of us haven’t escaped fear and anxiety, the grief of loss and separation, emotional and financial stress and the feeling of being restricted and confined during those times when we were in lock-down. And it isn’t only people who have suffered, with a recent study revealing stress in event horses due to long periods of lockdown and inactivity. To combat these stresses, psychologists recommend connecting with nature as one way to restore mental and physical wellbeing. It’s a no-brainer, every horse person knows there’s nothing like the sensory tonic of being around horses, smelling hay and grass and fresh air and trees, of grinning dogs and riding with friends

Trails around Australia offer ideal riding and camping opportunities.

This country offers epic riding holidays in every state and territory, from camping and glamping in the bush and trekking through outback or high country, to cantering along beaches, immersive clinics or relaxing farm stays

or family in the great outdoors, to improve your mood. A holiday with your horse: what could be better? We researched a small selection of ideas for equinebased holidays, with suggestions from riders who’ve been there and done that, that will have you chomping at the bit to pack up and go. Ride for a day, a week or a month on off-road, horsefriendly trails, and enjoy our beautiful ecountryside.

R A IL T RA I L S In the 1800 – 1900s Australia was criss-crossed by railway lines, which were essential for travel and freight delivery. Highway networks have since made them redundant, but these days the towns that grew along railway routes are finding new life as historic rail lines are developed into trails for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Rail Trails offer wonderful off-road riding for a single day or a week or two of riding and camping. Options for staying at B&B’s, inns or hotels nearby or along the way are increasing, as towns and businesses gear themselves to cater for horse riders. The development of facilities for camping and picnic grounds make day touring and longer journeys more enjoyable. Horse-friendly B&B availability is growing as demand increases and more people seeking escape from the hectic pace of city life.

THE B I C E NT E N NI A L N ATIO N A L T RA I L Originally conceived for long-distance horse trekking, the Bicentennial National Trail (BNT) is one of the longest multi-use, non-motorised, self-reliant trails in the world. Originally known as the National Horse Trail, it stretches 5,330km from Cooktown in Queensland, through NSW and the ACT to Healesville, 60km northeast of Melbourne.

Now also used by walkers and cyclists, the BNT is a precious asset to horse riders along the Eastern seaboard. It passes through some wild and inaccessible country, so careful planning and preparation is needed for longer trips. Rather than saving camping with her horse for a rare holiday, Queensland rider Shané Steffen often takes her two endurance horses out camping for 3-7 days at a time. “I find our camping trips perfect for keeping them fit and keen.” She spent the Easter of 2019 on the BNT for several days. “It was relatively quiet, the creek had water so I could get the horses down there for a swim. The BNT is no longer accessible in some areas (it changes often due to property owners and landslides etc...). but you can still see old markers and follow portions of it.” The Bicentennial National Trail is divided into twelve sections and maps are available online. Shané says there are lots of parks around the state that allow horse riding, and camping with horses. “The Parks and Wildlife website is the best option to find something close to you. I highly recommend it. Often times horses are floated to somewhere that isn’t ‘fun’, or is stressful. This is a great way to break that cycle.” The next trip she’s keen to do is camp along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT). “I’ve done it end to end in a day but haven’t slowed down to camp along the way. There isn’t really any water access along it for horses.”

T HE KI DMAN T R AI L - SA In South Australia, much work has been done to restore a historic stock route named after well-known pastoralist and horse breeder, Sidney Kidman, to provide a safe and extensive trail for horse riders. The Kidman Trail runs from Willunga to Kapunda, taking in 269km through the Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Murraylands, Barossa and Clare Valley tourism regions, providing a scenic trail that highlights the natural beauty, cultural

Photo courtesy Pack Saddling Australia

Photo courtesy Pack Saddling Australia

Enjoy natures trails with just you and your horses.

At the Cabarita Beach Pony Club Grounds (Inc) up to 100 horses can be comfortably housed in open yards and the new undercover yards. There are also wash bays, a round yard, the large riding ring and an undercover grandstand. For people, the facilities are also excellent: powered sites, large bathroom facilities with warm showers available (even on the busiest weekend) and disabled bathroom facilities, picnic tables, and camp fires (in non-fire ban season). There are plenty of food options and supplies in the nearby Cabarita township and the caravan park.

With the animal beach just across the road, and endless bush trails outside the front gate, it sounds like horse riding heaven. Bookings can be made on the Cabarita Beach Pony Club Grounds Incorporated website.


history and major points of interest along the Mount Lofty Ranges. A number of trailheads, providing information on horse yarding, campsites and float parking, are installed along the route. State Trail Riding Associations are an excellent source of information for the best local trails, and nearby facilities.


Regarding camping with your horse, Hoofbeats reader Janelle Slade recommends Cabarita Beach in Northern New South Wales, along the Coral Sea coast. Cabarita was named Australia’s best beach in 2019; it’s popular with surfers, too. Situated between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast, it’s expensive real estate; however, Janelle notes that the town of Bogangar, on Cabarita beach, has April May 2021 - Page 6

New undercover yards at cabarita beach pony club grounds, NSW

a Pony Club. “You can camp at the Pony Club grounds, where there are amenities. There’s beach on one side, forest on the other,” … all for the price of very reasonable camping fees.

Pack saddling is growing in popularity as horse riders desire to try real bush riding and experience something of the pioneering spirit. For those who want to give it a try, guided tours with knowledgeable people provide the ultimate holiday. “Our glamping (luxury-level camping) horse riding experiences attract ownerriders from all over Victoria, NSW and SA,” says Jo-Anne Kasch, co-owner of Pack Saddling Australia, situated in Narbethong, Victoria. Jo-Anne and husband John Kasch offer guests a unique opportunity to ride their own horse accompanied by working pack horses and mules as they head out into Victoria’s Mystic Mountains, the state’s ‘mecca’ of trail horse riding, which offers stunning views, easy-riding bush tracks, fern gullies and mountain streams. The BYO-horse Mystic Mountains Glamping experience follow tracks and trails through the Black Range, Blue Range, and mountains surrounding Narbethong and Marysville. These rides offer that little bit of luxury as well, with one including a 1-hour massage in the exclusive Kerami Gardens Day Spa, followed by dinner in a local hotel. Glamping rides include all meals prepared and cooked fresh onsite in camp ovens, hot showers every day, toilets, and most of everything needed for a fabulous week of riding. The Great Victorian Rail Trail Ultimate Glamping ride includes comfortable sleeping in an all-comforts camp under the stars. The 6-day/5-night and the 4-day/3night Craigs Hut and Beyond Glamping Experience utilises historic shearing sheds. All rides are limited to a maximum of six riders to ensure a relaxed and fun experience.

In NSW, River Horse Training and Trekking also offers expert instruction in pack saddling, along with fully escorted pack saddle camping trips, and specialised confidence-restoring camps for women. Highly experienced horse trainer Erica Jessup and Kate Young, are accomplished Brumby handlers and enjoy the process of training reliable saddle and pack horses who will ride and pack anywhere, anytime. Their favourite pastime is to take the steep and challenging trek into the secluded Guy Fawkes River National Park, the most remote section of the Bicentennial National Trail. Erica has worked with wild horses for many years and is considered a leading authority regarding wild horse management and training, while Kate has a Diploma in Horse Industry Management and a Bachelor of Education/Arts, with a focus on trauma informed practice and students with behaviour and emotional challenges. Their Mountain Trail clinics are popular for helping riders and their horses to team build, face challenges and have fun together.


Enjoy thE Mystic Mountains of MarysvillE and narbEthong in victoria. Trail riding on your horse, experience

stunning trails, massages, dinners and more.

ridE thE grEat victorian rail trail froM tallarook to MansfiEld. Enjoy boutique accommodation, restaurant dinners, local wines and added bonuses. Get a group together to ride, relax and enjoy glamping with your horse. Find out more about these and the other amazing experiences we offer.

Equestrian centres are popular with riders wishing to stay nearby (or on the property) and immerse in their personal area of interest, be it dressage, show jumping, eventing, camp drafting, polo or whatever. These centres can usually recommend places to stay nearby, while major equestrian centres such as Werribee Park in Victoria, Horsley Park in NSW and WA State Equestrian Centre have adjacent or on-site camping facilities.

RID IN G IN TH E H I GH C OU NT RY Though the presence of horses in Alpine National Parks is becoming somewhat contentious, they are still recognised as part of modern cultural and historic heritage and a popular means of recreation and enjoyment. Horse riding is ‘accepted as an appropriate means of appreciating and enjoying most parts of the Alps where environmental and social impacts can be kept at acceptable levels’ states the Australian Alps National Parks website. Saddle and pack horses are used by staff in some parks, to carry out routine management work. Mounts Buller and Bogong in Victoria and Kosciuszko in NSW are alpine regions where private and guided horse riders can enjoy the awesome beauty of the High Country. There are important responsibilities to uphold, and horse riders are provided with guidelines for protecting the sensitive Alpine regions from

Phone joanne kasch 0429 133 416

it Get away from



April May 2021 - Page 7

Prix level on self-trained horses, and has studied biomechanics.

With Covid restricting overseas visitors, Avoca Park has been catering for a wider range of local riders, with improving skills and horsemanship as core goals. Other instructors include liberty expert Jason McKinnes, who is also studying at the School of Lightness, and junior rider specialist Frank Thomson. Avoca Park offers two, four and six night dressage clinics which also include gourmet lunches, drinks and dinners ‘at home’ and visits to attractions such as the famous Healesville Sanctuary. Avoca Park - Yarra Valley, Victoria

Shané Steffen’s two endurance horses on the Bicentennial National Trail (BNT)

waterway damage, soil erosion, and the spread of noxious weeds and exotic plants, so that these regions (and European and Aboriginal cultural heritage elements within them), can be protected and enjoyed by future generations.


An immersive holiday in your chosen equine passion is a wonderful way to combine a restorative break with the benefits of instruction and quality time spent with one’s horse. In the Yarra Valley in Victoria, Avoca Park Equestrian created their dressage program to provide international travellers with a world-class dressage experience whilst enjoying a popular tourist region in country Australia. With the emphasis on Classical Dressage, Avoca Park’s Principal, Leanne Williams, is an EA Level 3 coach, Level 1 General coach and Level 2 Equitation judge. She is also a Level 1 instructor in Philippe Karl’s School of Lightness (Legerete), which she teaches around Australia (when travel permits). Leanne has competed at Grand

For partners and companions less inclined to horse pursuits, the area abounds in picturesque tourist towns, wineries, gourmet eating, stunning scenery and plenty of outdoor activities. Such regions exist in every state and territory, so border restrictions due to Covid don’t necessarily restrict opportunity.

GE T T I N G AWAY It isn’t necessary to go far. Just getting away with your horse and some friends or family members could be the best thing you do all year. The possibilities aren’t limited: take off on a cheap and peaceful camping holiday, or if luxury is more appealing, pool resources with friends to stay somewhere special. Hire a whole house with horse facilities on-site or nearby, close to a riding centre, beach, forest, or horse-friendly park. Take in a clinic in your chosen field, or fulfill a once in a lifetime experience. Go wandering through spectacular scenery and let someone else guide, cook and set up the planning and accommodation. Planning a road trip with the float in tow also brings much-needed income to regional places that have suffered enormous loss, due to city lockdowns, bushfires, droughts and flooding.

Escape the mundane, chill out, then saddle up and get the blood rushing. Team-build and relax with your favourite equine. Reward your own hard work and your horse’s patience with new scenes and experiences in beautiful, stimulating environments. Spend money where it’s needed, then go home refreshed. It’s a win-win for all concerned.

Riding the trails in the High Country - Victoria

April May 2021 - Page 8

EDITORS NOTE We know there are many, many more opportunities for riding holidays with a difference so we will continue our research to bring more to you in future issues. Meanwhile, we invite you to share your ultimate horse riding holiday experience with us. Email details to: enquiries@hoofbeats.com.au

Adding ‘Gas’ “We are now entering the stage where we are creating power and loading the hind legs for a more advanced, engaged and elastic self-carriage frame. But it is hard work for your horse, so hacking out and rewards are so important as we need partners with good work ethics and happy moods.” Hayley Beresford

“As we have two horses heading to their first 5-year-old competition shortly, I could go on and on with the textbook ‘grind’ of the exercises needed for this test, but you can all go grab a textbook and read up about the details of a walk pirouette or a walk -canter transition for yourselves, so I would prefer to keep going with what we are doing to develop our youngsters towards the goal of Grand Prix.” er Hof




We thletes. to be a l of our d e e n contro riders, ced, in never We, as t, balan fi ge and can a e u b g n la y must d than we and bo horses r u o posture m more fro in ourselves. expect ith from w offer-up


lthough the development of these five and six year old horses’ bodies is not finished by any means, it’s now time to sculpt these horses into our future dressage partners. Like a gymnast, or a dancer, the end product is the result of years of training and practice. There are many styles and systems in the dressage world for creating the balance and posture needed for top Grand Prix sport. I’ve seen a lot, I’ve tried a lot of ‘stuff’ out, some of it good, and some not so good. I’m not going to go into detail of what’s right or wrong, but I’m going to explain what works for me, what I understand to be the best way for us, and our horses, and how we do it. The subjects of this issue are, again, Fridalein, Dagobert and Daintree (Naomi). Frida and Bert have just turned five and Naomi has just turned six, which highlights the fact that not all horses fit into the same square box. Some need a little extra time and some develop quite quickly. I love all three of these horses. Not one of them is perfect and I don’t know if any will go to the Olympics, but they are all really fun and interesting to work with. Bert and Frida are obviously a little ‘greener’ than Naomi but all three know their jobs and have a firm grasp of all concepts and the exercises expected of a 5-year-old.

In Part 5 of this series on preparing horses for higher level competition, Australian Olympic rider Hayley Beresford and her partner, Jule Fehl, share the techniques used at their training establishment, Eisner Hof as they take their young horses through the levels of competition in Germany.

Positive tension, an effective half-halt, and balance I have experienced all of the problems mentioned above at So, how do we turn our horses into the dance partners we need some point with the array of horses I have trained. If I hadn’t for big sport? experienced them then I wouldn’t be equipped to deal with it TENSION - now there is a dirty word that we have all heard now, would I? from our coach or seen on our dressage test sheets! But the reality of tension is that some of the points will • Too much tension in your horse be experienced throughout your journey. Don’t stress • Your horse is tense in the back With a about it, just deal with it. Most often, it’s the result • Your horse is tense in the mouth perfectly healthy, of your horse not understanding you. Sometimes • Too short in the neck it’s just too much too soon, a health or pain well-balanced youngster, • Grinding issue, or just a little process to go through on • Tongue issues perfect rider, perfect the way to finding the understanding of what • Head tilting environment, perfect we - as riders - are asking. Need I go on? world, none of these Now, as we introduce the concept of POSITIVE Don’t worry, this is a process and of course TENSION to you, I want to break down my tension issues will we don’t want to hear these comments on the version of a good half-halt, because without this, sidelines or read it on our protocol sheets, but arise. balance will not be possible and the ‘good’ tension guess what, our horses will not develop without we are planning to build in our horses will not be able some tension. to be diffused. We only want to have good or positive tension and the half- halt is our weapon against this produced tension going wrong and becoming negative.

What we need to deliver, is what I call POSITIVE TENSION!

Warm up - stretching training sessions STEP 1- STRETCHING I start all my training sessions with stretching, whether in the saddle myself or coaching. Our horses must get warm by stretching. The top line of the horse must be able to open and stretch and, depending on the horse’s nature, posture and conformation, the rider or trainer will need to monitor the speed required so that the entire horse remains in balance. If your horse is a bit lazy, a bit hot, not a ‘natural’ stretcher or doesn’t know how, DON’T WORRY, because you can start in walk…and then introduce walk-halt transitions. In the halt, you must enable your horse to feel and accept the contact. Wait for it to feel the pressure of the contact (don’t pull - just wait) and your horse will stretch ‘round’. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until your horse is comfortable with this. Halt, wait, round, release, move forward!! Tadaaaa - you have just completed the first stretch.

Bert (top) and Frida (left) in our warm up phase. The tempo is quite forward on these youngsters, but not running. It must be like this so all the energy can travel through their body in one direction (hence the word forwards). It’s important for the rider to maintain balance. You should feel the horse in your hands but it should not be leaning on you. We don’t want the weight channeling down through the front legs. We want the weight to remain balanced and our over-all goal here is that the top line of the horse is able to stretch free. Note their ears are listening and relaxed and their back foot is exactly under the foot and helmet line of the rider. Continued April May 2021 - Page 11

The half-halt ... mandatory for every horse and rider STEP 2 - THE HALF-HALT Whether you need to start with ‘full halt’ transitions in the walk before you stretch your horse, or whether you move into your halt transitions once your horse is warm and stretched, the half-halt is the key to progression with your training session. This is mandatory in our arena for every horse and rider. There are three steps to a good halt transition: 1. Stop (hopefully in balance). 2. Let your horse feel the contact, standing balanced on all four legs, and wait for your contact to mean your horse stretches its top line round, while remaining soft in the reins. 3. Move forward again easily. 4. Repeat often. I always start with a few nice, balanced halt transitions and it’s always my go-to when my horses lose balance or focus. Once I have found a nice halt transition and can tick the boxes of stop, relax in contact and move forward positively and politely from my leg again, I have my half-halt. The half-halt should be these points mastered within momentum. Don’t make the mistake to half ask. Ask for your halt in full as you have been, but only go half way! It should be like a wave or ripple through your horse’s body and your contact and connection, and should achieve in full what you were able to achieve when you actually stopped for your halt. The moment you ask for your halt and you feel your horse respond, (and he will because you’ve been practicing full halts) you will feel him back off on your stopping aid, he will release, relax and give you his top line (if you’ve been doing your full halts clearly and well), and at this exact moment you reapply your forward aids again. This is your half half. This is vital- you will need it for everything going on in your horses education so practice it, master it and keep this tool very very handy! Like 1000 times a training session (if not more).

Once the horses have stretched and are reacting nicely to my aids I always give them a little walk break to bring the warmup routine to an end before we start the lesson of the day. I think this is good for their bodies and also becomes a mindset and a chance to focus on the goal of the ride, which is important to remember as a trainer and/or rider. Always have a plan. It’s best for our horses and the only way to achieve a good session. A typical training session now focuses entirely on bringing the power, balance and harmony to the paces that I want to achieve in that horse. It’s all about developing the gearbox and the range of motion possible in our horses, and here I start again with that dirty word, TENSION!

We all want our horses to move big, move small, stay soft and light on our aids, be hot, but not too hot, stay calm but not too calm, be connected but not too strong, stay straight, be uphill, but not hollow etc. etc.… so how do you do that? The important thing, no matter what level, is to develop good, balanced, working paces. Working trot, working canter, that tempo and frame where we can manage any question with the horse. With my Grand Prix horses and riders I always insist on training the trot and canter they would need for the medium or advanced as their main basic. From this we can always move small or big. With my youngsters, I always aim to create the trot and canter that we want for their futures. At around five years of age, they are ready to do this, and actually it must happen by now so that the horse’s body can be sculpted and formed into what it needs to be to achieve the end result.

Dagobert is a hot and ambitious character. He can ‘chat’ his teeth when he doesn’t quite understand and when he’s nervous he rolls his neck under. Jule must encourage him to stretch and relax and does so with lots of comforting rewards. Pat your horse! Dagobert responds very well to his halt aids, always comes back, always listens but doesn’t always breathe so the challenge is creating the ripple that he not only comes back but also flows forwards again. In the second photo, which is a couple of steps out of a halt transition, you see Jule a little light in the seat and patting him. The frame is not yet ideal, and it is with this I want to show that our horses too go behind the vertical at some points, but this is not negative. It is just part of the process. Multiple transitions forward and back and always rewarding your horse when it answers correctly. A LITTLE TIP: With a horse that finds the flow a little difficult, ride in the trot just a few metres when you first go forward again, whether from full halt or half-halt! You will often see us doing a few steps rising trot here and there. It’s not because we can’t sit- it’s because our horses need to have their backs free. The third photo is pretty good I think. Balanced, uphill, super energy from the hind leg, lovely straight connection and nice expression. April May 2021 - Page 12

Forward - adding ‘gas’ STEP 3 - FORWARD

This is very important now. I like to have my half-halt sorted so we can always come back and wait, but the next step is to add ‘gas’. The horses need to understand the impulses (small squeezes from my leg aids) and react with forward energy. Our young horses may need a few laps of the arena so they have time to figure out what to do with their body and find their balance.

There will be mistakes and there will be imbalances, but don’t worry. It’s necessary for the learning process and it’s important that the rider can stay cool headed. Having another person on the ground watching can be very helpful right now to make sure the rider is not stopping the horse from going forward when gas is asked for. The horse will need its neck somewhat for balance and I often ask my riders to put their hands forwards towards the horse’s ears. You will need many, many transitions. Half-halts, and sometimes full halts, for a complete re-balance, relax, followed by full gas again. This repetition over and over is what will help load the hind legs, which will develop the power to support the weight and channel the energy up through the withers and push the shoulders, neck and contact forward and uphill. Only with the buildup of POSITIVE TENSION in the hind legs is it possible to build the quality of paces needed for our sport.

Eventually, as your horse understands, the forward aids will not mean speed anymore. It will learn that the aids mean change to direction - to load the hind leg and direct the energy forward while your half-halt will become your tool to channel that energy up-hill and your release in the hand will bring about the horse’s self-carriage that you need. Once you can do this, and it does take a lot of practice and patience and good balanced riding to do it well, you are ready to execute the movements. In the first photo of Frida (right) you see her stretching. The contact is light and I would actually like to feel a little more contact so she must still push more forward through her body from behind. In the second photo I have started transitions and picked up the reins. You see the balance is not yet ok. She is soft and attentive to me, and actually feeling really nice but she must push more forwards. Now to create my positive tension. In the third photo you see her frame improving. The hind leg now not only pushes forwards but because of the transitions and rebalancing, also pushes her shoulders/ withers upwards, which gives the improved frame. This is still a work in progress as it’s hard for her to be up there. In time, as she becomes stronger in her hind legs and over her back, she will also be able to be more relaxed in this frame but for the moment we need little phases of up there to build the strength and then allow the stretch again. As you are able to direct the horse’s posture up through the withers you will see and feel the movement changing. The front legs can come higher and be more expressive, and the hind legs more engaged. This is not a trick, just training and practice. Multiple transitions between trot and canter can help build the strength and improve the self-balance. Continued

April May 2021 - Page 13

Additional tool for self-carriage DOUBLE LINES I have another tool that I use to help our horses learn to load their hind legs, power up and cadence themselves in self-carriage and that is with the use of double lines. Keeping the work program mixed-up is important and finding ways to help the horses develop without it becoming a grind is essential. One of the training methods I use in between my riding training is double lining (lunging). If you remember back in the Aug/Sept issue, we introduced this to our babies very early. Mainly so they knew it before they were too strong for me to manage. So now, when I need it, it’s simply a method that helps reactions and it has a load of benefits depending on what you need to achieve as a rider. In this instance, creating power and a loading effect on the hind legs on the pathway to creating a more advanced and engaged elastic self-carrying frame on our horses, it’s a great way for me to see the horse from another perspective and maintain a completely objective point of view. NOT TIED DOWN I do not tie the horses down at all. The stretch, halts, half-halts and forward reactions need to be understood and come from within the horses’ own decisionmaking process - not be completely dependent on mechanical aids from the rider but become so refined that, as we train, repeat, train, what we have taught our horses to feel and do becomes a body language between us. In the double lines we can influence the horse’s overall shape but we can’t hold it or over-control it, which is a mistake that can often be made when we are riding. Bad habits die hard, and we are all stronger on one side than the other and we all help our horses too much.

We need to teach our horses to dance together with us and not be wheeled around like a robot. The double lines are so cool to help with this. From behind the horse I can see what is easier for them, left or right…I can’t cheat and hold onto them because I am also walking or jogging behind. In the double lines from behind the horse I can April May 2021 - Page 14

NAOMI : The first picture shows how I rig up the double lines. When the horses are young, Jule and I introduce this together. One supporting the horse in front so they are not frightened, and one on the double lines. As you can see the horses are not tied or restricted. The head is free to move up and down. It can go wrong pretty quickly so take care to always begin slowly and with two people. Photo two shows warming-up like normal lunging but with the double lines so I have lots of influence over the hind leg and the outside of the horse. I lunge until I find stretch and relaxation. In the third photo positive tension behind has been introduced. Note my running shoes! Yes, we run.... of course this helps with more collected work as well but you can’t collect without an engine - so be prepared to move yourself as well. She has actually given a little too much in this photo but you see the lovely engagement behind and how this drives the front up. It misses the relaxation at this point. But note, she is not restricted and she has enough space on the contact to work it out for herself within her own body The fourth photo is after several transitions forward and back. You see here that the top line is now relaxed and she makes a beautiful shape. The ears are softer but still listening and right at this moment I can ask any question- forward, back, relax, go!

really influence the inside hind leg to be combined with the inside bend and flexion. The outside double line helps to maintain the outside of the horse straight and in a supple balance. This all helps to teach the horse to bridge its back and withers upwards without the weight and undesired restrictions riders sometimes impose. With practice, we can then manage the horse’s momentum forwards and backwards, half-halt turns into small, soft steps and forwards turns into power loading steps… all the time aiming for a good balance because we are literally also running behind (like I said earlier- we need to be athletes too and I have run many a mile behind my horses playing this game). As good riders we don’t want to build robots. We want to build beautiful dancing partners, so our horse needs to understand our questions and decide for itself how to carry and manage its body in answer to our questions. I love the double lines to help with this.

This has been an incredibly difficult piece to put together as I’m literally trying to find simple words to outline what is a ‘feeling’. We can all read a textbook and watch millions of horses online to execute the version of exercises we should be executing in the competition arena - if only it were actually that easy. Our challenge every day is teaching our horses to dance together with us. It is possible and it is relatively easy once you know what you want. Trial and error works wonders and mistakes don’t matter at all, as long as you are fair.” I would like to thank our readers for the amazing feedback on my articles. I’m interested to hear if any of this issue’s rambles worked for you, or have I lost you all on the way? You can follow us on facebook by logging into Eiserner Hof-Hayley Beresford & Jule Fehl.

Be as one

...the secret to ignite your dressage performance



From Performance to Retirement by Dr Jennifer Stewart

There is no set age at which horses become ‘old’ as the actual age of a horse does not always match the ageing process of the individual. For disciplines requiring years of training and physical development, peak performance often occurs in the mid to late teens. However, from around 15 years of age, the athletic ability and needs of horses begin to change. The changes associated with ageing are gradual, but by recognising them, we can avoid the pitfalls, smooth the passage and slow the hands of time. Photo of Algebra, ridden by Natalie Blundell until Oct 2014 and then Andrew Hoy (based in the UK) took over the ride, and between them they amassed an impressive list of high performance international competitions. He retired sound from international competition at age 20 and now, at age 24, lives a retired life with owners Julia McLean and John Glenn in NSW. Photo by Julia McLean


ome aspects of management of the older equine are fundamental to maintaining any horse, regardless of age. There are common age-associated problems that can be supported by alterations in feeding management. These include reduced mobility due to chronic lameness, inadequate dentition, increased sensitivity to extremes of temperature, apparent malabsorption/maldigestion, recurrent impaction colic, and PPID (also commonly known as equine Cushing’s disease).


As horses age, the ability to control glucose and insulin levels declines. Reducing reliance on high sugar/starch feeds and ensuring protein quality and quantity match the horse’s needs, can help Cushings/EMS and older horses with blood and muscle glucose levels. Caution is required when using micronized and extruded feeds. These ‘cooking’ processes are undertaken to increase starch digestion in the small intestine and can increase enzymatic digestion in the small intestine by over 446% - profoundly affecting blood glucose and insulin levels. Sweet feeds often have high molasses levels and these can exacerbate glucose intolerance and should be avoided in horses with Cushings disease.


Maintaining ‘condition’ becomes increasingly difficult as horses age. This is particularly relevant for horses that are being ridden or are competing. The ability to sustain work depends on adequate muscle mass. Loss of performance and early onset of fatigue occur when muscle mass is reduced. In addition, loss of muscle tone increases the load placed on tendons, joints and ligaments. These structures become more prone to injury and breakdown, increasing the risk of falls and accidents. The power-to-weight ratio depends on the amount of muscle versus the amount of fat a horse has. Oats, barley and high sugar/starch feeds provide ‘fuel’ for the muscles – but muscle building and repair after work requires protein. Muscle growth - and how well it can respond to training - is dependent on the protein in the feed. This is essential for all horses and becomes increasingly important with age.


With few exceptions (and as in most species) whatever gets worse with age gets better with exercise. As our horses age, many of us instinctively reduce the intensity of exercise - but around 21% of horses still compete at 18 years. Between 18 and 20 years of age, horses can experience a reduction in exercise capacity - the rate of decline is influenced by many factors, including genetics and level of activity. However, studies on 20 to 30 year old horses found they were still able to complete strenuous standardised treadmill tests without any special feeds or training. This underscores the fact that, despite reduced exercise tolerance, many old horses can be maintained in good body condition and continue to be ridden and compete well into their 30s. Provided older horses are free from lameness and in good health, they should be able to sustain a moderate conditioning program.

Experienced, well-schooled horses can often maintain fitness with a lower volume of work and this helps reduce stress on the musculoskeletal system. If a horse has been spelled or retired for some time, its worth having a veterinary examination before beginning a training program. Exercise can be beneficial in maintaining joint function and slowing the progress of certain disease, whereas retirement and inactivity can worsen the severity. Although some level of aches and pains is normal with advancing years, there are medications and specialist shoeing techniques that can minimise the impact of age-related degenerative conditions such as navicular disease


for the older horse

VITAMIN C low plasma vitamin C may be the result of PPID and/or thyroid dysfunction in old horses and may contribute to the reduction in immune function. Vitamin C supplementation (2g per 100kg body weight) increases response to vaccination. It can also help the immune system during transport stress and supplementation for 5 days before transport can reduce the incidence and severity of shipping fever. However it should not be stopped abruptly – rather tailored back slowly. VITAMIN E Supplementing Vitamin E is recommended for aged horses. Vitamin E can improve immune function. ORAL JOINT SUPPLEMENTS: Although there have been many reports on the efficacy of these products, there has been a lack of published clinical trials OTHER NUTRIENTS: vitamins A, E, B, B12, C, D and folic acid are important in older horses and the diet should contain recommended levels. Caution is needed as always when using supplements because over supplementation with trace minerals, such as chromium and zinc can be detrimental to immune function. MAGNESIUM: There is also an important interaction of magnesium with the immune and nervous systems, inflammation and insulin. Typical diets often do not meet magnesium requirements – which increase with moderate to intense exercise. And, soaking or steaming hay to reduce starch and sugar intake causes a significant loss of magnesium.


Magnesium plays an important role in all horses including older horses, for... • immune and nervous system • inflammation • insulin regulation

Magnesium requirements are increased…. • • • • •

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April May 2021 - Page 17

The older horse continued...

and arthritis. If you are concerned about the appropriate level of exercise for your horse, seeking veterinary advice can help when developing training programs.


The risk of ‘shipping fever’ or pneumonia is related to the inability of the horse to lower its head for long periods, ammonia fumes from urine and manure, dust in feeds and car exhaust. Monitoring for coughing or nasal discharge and recording body temperature twice dailyduring and after a trip are good preventative strategies. ‘Shipping colic’ is linked to impactions from reduced water intake, grain in the diet, changes in diet or feed quality and low roughage intake. Whatever the feeding regimen, it should remain consistent when travelling and competing.

Feeding before competition:

To reduce the risk of injuries during work, fatigue should be avoided. This is partly achieved by ensuring adequate fitness but also by diet manipulation. Fatigue is correlated with falling blood glucose and muscle glycogen levels and increasing blood lactate (which begins at speeds of 10metres/sec). Feeding strategies should address this. Blood glucose is lowest 90 minutes after feeding high carbohydrate diets and these should be fed no closer than 3 - 4 hours before an event. High oil feeds have been shown to preserve blood glucose and delay the onset of fatigue. This allows horses to maintain work for longer, before fatigue from falling blood glucose begins to affect performance and coordination.

‘Body Heat’

also contributes to fatigue. Reduced cardiovascular function and sweat gland activity also affects the ability to tolerate heat stress. The additive effects of heat from working muscles, the environment and internal metabolism combine to raise the horse’s body temperature and cause sweating. To cool itself by sweating, the horse must divert blood away from the working muscles, and send it to the skin. This reduces muscle blood flow such that oxygen and glucose levels fall and acid levels rise - hastening the onset of fatigue. Sponging with cold water during and after exercise reduces the heat load. The heat produced by working muscles can be reduced by feeding highly digestible, high oil diets and reducing the amount of unusable protein.


Generally speaking, most horses over 20 have some type of tumour. Appetite and weight changes may indicate the presence

of a tumour. Thyroid tumours are more common in geldings, while mares are more susceptible to pituitary tumours (Cushings Disease). Although relatively slow-growing and usually benign, both affect the secretion of certain hormones, leading to glucose intolerance and reduced sensitivity to insulin, high blood sugar levels, increased drinking and urination. Other signs of Cushings disease include chronic laminitis, infections, weight loss, compromised immune function and a long hair coat. If these signs are present, a veterinary examination and blood tests are important as with appropriate care and medication the symptoms can often be treated and the horse return to a normal, active lifestyle for many more years. Horses with thyroid dysfunction often respond well to treatment.

Body Weight: Weight loss is not uncommon in elderly horses and can occur secondary to dental abnormalities, kidney and liver disease and Cushings. Risk of weight loss is higher in winter. Body condition scoring (BCS) is useful for monitoring weight loss during cold weather. Weight tapes are more sensitive measures of weight loss. Heart and belly girth measurements are more accurate for monitoring weight changes. Excess weight is associated with complications of lameness, laminitis and insulin resistance. Weight/ condition should be monitored carefully during prolonged bouts of cold weather and the amount of feed adjusted according to Twenty nine year old Flower has continuous turnout with a shelter for protection from the condition loss or gain. weather. Jacqueline Anderson photo


No difference has been found between 5-12 and 19-28 year old horses in terms of nutrient needs. The research that showed reduced digestion of fibre, protein and phosphorus was based on studies done over 40 years ago, in the 1980s before wormer pastes were commonly available. Advancing age does not significantly affect digestive efficiency in horses. With adequate worming and dental care, old horses can easily maintain good body condition well into their 20s and even 30s on normal balanced feeds, without the need for special ‘senior’ of ‘geriatric’ feeds.

Body temperature regulation:

Aged horses may require higher energy intakes in cold weather - but old horses that are fat or obese should not necessarily be fed extra just because it’s cold. They will still need protection from extremes of temperature, shelter from direct sun, wind and rain – however, prolonged confinement can worsen stiffness due to arthritis and should be used only if necessary. Continuous turnout with free access to a deep runin shelter is usually the ideal situation. Horses with Cushings should be clipped during hot and humid weather conditions, especially if still being ridden. In very hot weather, sponging with cold water, providing shade and fans will improve comfort and help reduce any heat-related appetite loss.

Worms and teeth:

As horses age, they develop greater immunity to gastrointestinal worms, but if regular worming was not carried out during younger years, there may be scarring and blood vessel damage to the digestive tract. As normal aging processes occur, gut problems may be exacerbated if damage from worms is

CLASSIFICATION OF OLD HORSES WITH RESPECT TO THEIR NUTRITIONAL NEEDS. Apparently ‘Normal’ the horse that is old in years but has no apparent age-related or veterinary conditions and is still being ridden or breeding. With good worm, vaccination and dental care, these horses maintain condition on a standard balanced diet Apparently ‘Normal’ but overweight These horses often have little exercise and are easy-keepers. Weight loss management is required. Apparently ‘Normal’ but underweight These horses benefit from a general veterinary health check-up and a more energy-dense, nutrient-rich diet. Good options are soymeal, oil, good quality protein. The Geriatric Horse These horses have one or more abnormalities as well as old age. Veterinary diagnosis and support of underlying conditions combined with a palatable feed is the best strategy.

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present. This, along with teeth problems, is a major risk factor for choke and colic in older horses. Hay cubes and pellet feeds can be soaked in water to make a soft mash if choke or impactions are a problem.


Recent surveys have found that as horses age there is a reduction by owners in the preventive health care measures including vaccinations, farrier care and routine veterinary checks. Regular foot trimming and choosing a flat paddock, free from poaching and ruts, to decrease strain on joints PLUS regular blood work/ veterinary evaluations and monitoring can delay the beginnings and onset of common age-related conditions. And always choose companions carefully to avoid bullying. Continued

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for the older horse

PROTEIN…quality and quantity! Speed, strength and endurance decline with advancing years. This is partly because of a reduction in muscle mass, which results in a loss of muscle strength and is also due to a change in the ratio of muscle to fat, ie body composition and the all-important power:weight ratio. The amount of muscle is determined by the quantity and quality of the protein in the diet. In terms of ‘quantity’, horses require a certain number of grams of protein a day, not a % - % protein tells you nothing useful about the quantity or quality of the feed protein. If for example, a feed is 10% protein and a horse eats 3kg of the feed – the horse receives 300g of protein. If another feed is 20% protein and a horse eats 1.5kg, it still receives 300g of protein. The quality of protein is determined by its essential amino acid profile. The diet must provide all 10 essential amino acids because each tissue (liver, muscle, blood, bone etc) has its own specific recipe of amino acids. For muscle, the most important are lysine, threonine & methionine.

Muscle building is so specific that if the feed meets the required levels of 9 essential amino acids, but has only half the tenth, body protein synthesis may be reduced by up to 50%. It’s a bit like making a cake – if you want a chocolate cake you need cocoa. Once that runs out, production of chocolate cakes stops, regardless of how much sugar, eggs, flour etc you have. Similarly, once the body runs out of an essential amino acid, the production of new cells that require that ingredient, stops. So regardless of the % protein of a feed, if there is not enough of each essential amino acid, a limit is placed on protein synthesis - the other essential amino acids cannot be used and are stored as fat. When this occurs, horses will lay down ‘cover’ (fat) at the expense of muscle, blood and bone. And, it means that even if a feed is 50% protein but doesn’t contain all essential amino acids, it may only be 10% useable to the horse.

OILS Omega 3 oils have been found to benefit blood oxygen levels and reduce the incidence and severity of arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions in both humans and animals. A small amount of omega 3 oil per day could provide benefits for the blood and immune system in older horses. Oils are also excellent for maintaining body weight, reducing heat production during exercise and increasing energy intake. Horses may require 21 days to adjust to a fat-supplemented diet. Adding oil to the feed often improves palatability and absorption of vitamins A and D, essential fatty acids, and help reduce dust and fines.

WHICH OIL AND HOW TO FEED: Because blood insulin and sugar levels are steadier and less variable when oil is a major source of energy, increasing oil intake brings many benefits. Omega 3 oils suppress inflammation associated with ageing, have anti-clotting and immune support actions and can April May 2021 - Page 20

Algebra - retired 24 year old. Enjoys his box at night and prefers to stay in on days when there is inclement weather. Photo Julia McLean

Table 1. Amount of feeds that can be replaced with 1 cup (250ml) of oil Oats






Commercial grain mix


Rice bran




Table 2. Omega 6 and Omega 3 levels in common feedstuffs FEEDSTUFF

OMEGA 6 (Linoleic acid)

OMEGA 3 (Linolenic acid)

Lucerne hay



Canola meal






Flax seed



Linseed meal






Rice bran



Soy meal



Sunflower seeds



Canola oil



Coconut oil



Fish (salmon) oil



Linseed oil



Olive oil



Peanut oil



Rice bran oil



Soy oil



Sunflower oil



Several factors need to be considered when supplementing oil: • horses need up to 4 weeks for their gut to adapt to added oil • start with total daily addition of 50ml and increase by 10-20ml per day muscles need 6 to 11 weeks to adapt - begin well before a strenuous event.

improve insulin sensitivity. These advantages apply to all horses and especially ageing horses. They have also been shown to delay the decrease in red blood cell flexibility in athletic horses. Oils provide around 3 times as much energy as grains – so 330ml of oil provides the same amount of energy as 1kg of oats – but without the risk of ‘hot’ behaviour and hind-gut acidosis (Table 1). In fact, adding oil to the diet provides benefits for all horses in terms of acidosis, arthritis, behaviour, fertility, inflammation, immunity, PSSM, temperament and tying-up.

The addition of 500-1000ml of oil to the diets of performance horses reduces heat production, weight handicap (from gut fill), working heart rates and can delay the onset of fatigue. Oil provides a cool and steady supply of energy - allowing the horse to preserve blood glucose levels. The ‘glucose-sparing’ effect of oils delays the onset of fatigue, so that although horses cannot increase their maximum effort, they can maintain it for longer. The health benefits of increased omega-3 fatty acids in human diets are widely accepted and human athletes on omega 3 supplements report less muscle soreness and shortened recovery after athletic events. Studies in horses have found advantages in feeding diets rich in omega 3 including: lowered heart rates, lowered joint inflammation and increased immune response and disease resistance. Omega-3 fatty acids have also received attention for their role in maintaining cell membrane fluidity (including red blood cells) and are thought to reduce exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage – ‘bleeding’. So, which oils to choose? Most diets are based on cereal grains, which are rich in omega 6 oils. The natural, grazing, browsing horse has a diet based largely on grass and browsing forage that contain a much higher proportion of omega 3 oils. The PUFAs in corn, sunflower, safflower, soy and rice bran oil are mainly omega 6, which tend to aggravate inflammation. Vegetable oils with higher concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids include linseed, flaxseed and fish oil (Table 2).

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Oils with a high level of omega 3 fatty acids don’t intensify inflammatory processes – in fact, they reduce them. 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 Dr Jen Stewart is currently the only practicing equine veterinarian and clinical nutritionist in Australia with more than 40 years experience. 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. Jen’s vision is to provide a world best-practice in equine veterinary nutrition and to BRING SCIENCE TO YOUR FEED BIN.

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BVSc BSc PhD Dip BEP Equine Veterinarian and Consultant Nutritionist.

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by Sarah Warne

Rebecca Williams-O´Brien I

and Hollingrove Dazzler

n April 2019 Rebecca Williams-O’Brien was attending a threeday training clinic with German rider and trainer Stefen Wolff, and during that Australian clinic he asked Rebecca if she had ever considered training in Germany to further her education with her Warmblood, Hollingrove Dazzler. “Thank goodness my husband, David was standing next to Stefen at the time and was enthusiastic and supportive,” says Rebecca, who obviously jumped at the opportunity. Stefan Wolff is based at Sudenhof Equestrian Centre in the Northern half of Germany in a little town called Hagen am Teutoburger Wald. In June 2019 Rebecca visited Stefan in Germany to see the facilities at the stable where he was based. “David and I fell in love with it all and by August Hollingrove Dazzler was on a flight to Europe and David and I followed soon after.” Rebecca explained that her goal with the training move was that she went to learn. “Rather simple really, and I guess you could say that open mindset allowed me to soak in a lot of information. Learn the training and then put it to use in the competition arena. I definitely achieved a lot in the learning department, and in that respect the trip was a big success. It was like going from high school to university and realising just how little you know. “The best bit was that I finally understand the actual meaning of discipline,” stressed Rebecca. “Discipline for myself both April May 2021 - Page 24

physically and mentally! I also understand better the importance of holding the rhythm in the gaits, the movements, and in all the transitions.”

However, as everyone is aware at the beginning of 2020, and, just as Rebecca was getting into her training life, the world was hit with the pandemic Covid-19.

“The move to Europe, well emotionally it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” admits Rebecca. “My amazing husband came with me for the first two weeks so we could get everything organised and then he had to come home. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much! I knew it was going to be hard, so I had to get to work. “After that it got easier and I just threw myself into the training and got into a daily routine, which made life easier. Stefan and the team at Sudenhof also helped - they really are a great group of people.”

NO IMPACT ON TRAINING When asked how Covid-19 affected her life in Europe Rebecca says if anything it didn’t impact the training negatively. The training just got more intense and the team didn’t have the distraction of competitions. “In a way this made us all rather relaxed,” she explained.

photos by Astrid Appels - at the Hagen CDI

Training in Europe during Covid-19

However in terms of life in Europe Rebecca says it was more difficult because her husband and family couldn’t travel to see her. “We had a lot of trips planned that all ended up cancelled. It actually became very stressful with the constant not knowing when we would see each other again.” Rebecca added that at the start it was very annoying that all the restaurants had to close. “I could only leave my apartment to train Dazz and to go to the supermarket. Let’s just say that Netflix got used a lot.”

“Once we opened up for the European summer months I got to do a couple of international competitions, and for a little while things got back to a ‘new normal’.” During this time Zoom and Whatsapp became a godsend for Rebecca who was trying to maintain relationships with her friends and family back home. “We had a family zoom link up every two weeks and I also have some amazing friends that checked in on me regularly. This all helped a lot, it would have been a lot harder if I didn’t have that, that’s for sure,” she stressed. The biggest challenge during her stay in Europe was staying focused on the training when she was emotionally not as well as she wished to be. “I found that if I allowed myself to ‘boil over’ with the emotions before I went to training, the training was a lot better. If I didn’t, I would always have a bad ride. It was a real rollercoaster that’s for sure,” she says. “But then there were the ‘good’ challenges, such as having the opportunity to compete

against some of the best riders in the world and doing my first Intermediate I at an International CDI. That would have been my trip challenge highlight.”


However, the Aussie dressage rider says that after achieving many of her training goals she decided late in 2020 that it was time to go home. “I basically woke up one morning with a sense that I was ‘done’! I can’t really describe it because it took me by complete surprise. I had been talking with my family about staying an extra year, and all of a sudden, I wanted to be home.” In hindsight Rebecca feels that was a good decision as Europe went back into lockdown in mid December. “And Dazzler and I were back in Australia and home for Christmas,” she adds. Training back on their beautiful property in Emerald, Queensland, Rebecca says now that she and Hollingrove Dazzler are home they are back into full training after a short break. “He feels better than ever, and we have already started competing again. We are concentrating on what we learnt in Germany and progressing towards Grand Prix under the watchful eye of my great friend and Grand Prix rider, Vay Snyman.” Asked if she plans to head back to Europe again to train, Rebecca admits there are plans, but at this stage she feels the pair will be home for a couple of years at least. “Once Dazzler and I have cemented ourselves at Grand Prix level then we will head back over and get a few big international events under our belt!”

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Follow us @appvoc | Phone 08 9472 1804 | RTO No. 5273 April May 2021 - Page 25

Dealing with

Dental Decay

By Celine Bønnelykke

With innovative equine dentistry there are now several options available in dealing with dental decay.

It is well-known that regular dental care is vital to maintain healthy teeth and this is taught to us from a very early age. It is, however, an area that is often overlooked in our horse management regime. The welfare of equine teeth is especially important as the horse evolved as a grazing animal and it requires healthy teeth to break down the grains and grasses on which it is fed. Being prey animals horses are very good at hiding pain so it is easy for painful problems to go unnoticed.


any equine issues such as poor performance, bitting, weight loss and many behaviour issues can often be caused by dental pain.

Horses’ teeth continually erupt throughout their lives and the surface is worn away by grinding feed material. Domestication of the horse has brought with it altered feeding patterns and many horses now spend little time grazing due to the feeding of energy dense concentrates. Not only is less time spent chewing but it has also been shown that the type of feed given to the horse can alter its chewing pattern.


The horse’s chewing pattern goes from outside-to-inside on a slant determined by the slant of the matching surfaces of the upper and lower cheek teeth. If a horse has a tooth removed, the tooth above or below will keep erupting into the hole that has been left by the absent tooth. As well, the rest of the teeth start spreading to fill the gap. Tooth decay and gum disease, both of which can not only cause pain but can also make it difficult for the horse to grind and process food properly in order for it to receive the nutrition it needs to sustain body weight and health. We spoke to two equine veterinary dentists; Dr Shannon Lee and Dr Kirsten Jackson, both highly qualified members of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Equine Dentistry. Dr Lee obtained his degree from the University of Queensland, is an international lecturer and educator as well as a researcher and a practitioner. His career has taken him through many countries from which he has developed a wide-based knowledge. Dr Jackson obtained her veterinary degree at Murdoch University, has run her practice ‘Dental Vet’ since 2010 and is currently completing her PhD at the University of Western Australia on equine peripheral dental caries. She has lectured internationally and worked with leading veterinary equine dentists, such as Dr Chris Pearce (a European specialist in Equine Veterinary Dentistry- Dip.EVDC (Equine) and a leader in the field of equine dental restorations or ‘fillings’) and Swedish expert and human dentist, Dr Torbjorn Lundstrøm who pioneered the technique for equine endodontics (root canals in horses). Both Dr Lee and Dr Jackson have gained essential knowledge and experience in the progressive and innovative science of equine dentistry. As with many aspects of horse care you may find contradictive opinions in the world of equine dentistry, especially in the restoration of teeth. Your horse’s teeth continue to erupt throughout its life as the surface is worn away through chewing their food. The tooth has a very long root that resides deep into the jaw bone. Very slowly, over time, the tooth erupts (pushes out). A very young horse will have a small bit of tooth exposed with a long root. A very old horse will have a small bit of tooth exposed with hardly any root left; as they have worn their teeth down over time. The permanent teeth change shape as the horse grows older, because what you are seeing is the ‘root’ portion of the tooth that is slowly emerging from the jaw.

Horse’s teeth have much larger roots and nerves with a greater surface area than human teeth, therefore the procedures for removal or decay treatment are more difficult and time-consuming. Continued

WHAT IS EQUINE TOOTH DECAY? Known as dental caries, equine tooth decay is where acids demineralise the horse’s teeth, leading to the destruction of the tooth itself. Human teeth have an outer layer of enamel, which is quite resistant to acid attack with a critical pH (where decay will start to occur) of 5.5. The outer layer of horse’s teeth is called cementum, which is less hard than enamel with a critical pH of 6.7. These factors make the horse’s teeth more susceptible to acid attacks from rotting food that packs into tooth gaps and holes within the teeth. This decay eventually leads to less and less toothchewing surface, can predispose the teeth to fracture and can be associated with pain and eating difficulties.


Due to the fact that the cementum of the horse’s teeth require a higher pH to prevent decay, an oral solution can be applied to assist in treating decay. “Aiming to change the pH level in the horse’s mouth to create a barrier is my desired treatment for decay, alongside with required dental attention and maintenance,” said Dr Shannon Lee. “The product used to manage decay has chlorhexidine as one of the active ingredients. The liquid acts as a mouthwash for horses and is applied firstly by the dentist, then used by the owner.

PREVENTING DECAY Prevention is key when it comes to teeth and simple things that may have an effect on the likelihood of your horse developing peripheral caries include: • Less oaten hay and sweet feeds, but this has to be replaced by equally nutritional valued feed. Keep in mind, that quality of all hay can vary. • pH test your water and possibly change water source if pH is lower than 7. • More/longer access to pasture • Mouthwash for your horse • Regular dental care.

BEFORE. The tooth with its area of decay where food was packed in.

AFTER. the area has been cleaned and ‘filled’.

April May 2021 - Page 27

DECAY CAUSES RESEARCH A study conducted by Dr Jackson from Dental Vet over three years surveyed the owners of 500 horses and the results showed that peripheral caries (decay) was present in 58.8% of the horses. They looked at everything from; age, breed, gender, management, riding regime, discipline, to pasture type, soil type, water source, access to pasture and diet in a huge amount of detail what they were fed, how much, how often, did it change seasonally, was it fed wet or dry, any treats fed etc. The significant risk factors for peripheral caries (decay) in horses in WA were: • HAY SOURCE: horses on oaten hay were almost three times more likely to be affected. Those on meadow hay were less than half as likely. This is believed to be due to the high ‘sugar’ content in cereal hays, as bacteria on the surface of the teeth create acid from the sugar. • BREED: Thoroughbreds were more likely to be affected than western breeds and Warmbloods. • WATER SOURCE: horses on bore water were least likely to be affected, followed by scheme water, then rainwater and dam water was the worst. Rainwater has an average pH of 5.9, which is acidic enough to demineralise the outside layer of horse’s teeth. Bore water’s average pH was neutral or slightly alkaline and contained higher levels of minerals, which may help strengthen the teeth and therefore be protective. • ACCESS TO PASTURE: horses with access to quality pasture for more than eight months of the year were significantly less likely to be affected. Further research and studies are needed to be able to entirely conclude these above points. Dr Shannon Lee points out, that besides what studies shows, it is also important to remember that dental decay can still happen to horses that have not been exposed to either oaten hay or rain water, but simply due to unknown factors, genetics or natural selection. Horses with access to pasture were less likely to be affected.


Both Dr Lee and Dr Jackson are firm believers in preventative dentistry and the concept that the most desirable option for the horse is to prevent decay from an early stage, which will limit the amount of dental interference needed. With peripheral caries, if the cause is removed and the process of decay is stopped, the tooth can recover after around two years as the teeth continue to erupt into the mouth and the horse’s chewing motion wears down the decayed area of the tooth.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH A new challenge for dental vets is the concept of extracting an infected cheek tooth, which is then restored outside of the horse’s mouth before being re-inserted. This can be a complicated and difficult procedure, but the ligaments from the tooth socket are able to re-attach themselves into the horse’s tooth, which is what makes this approach possible in the first place. While experiments have taken place in Germany and the UK, it is not yet a in practice in Australia. Dr Lee is hesitant about this newly advocated dental science practice as he is concerned about the extraction of the affected tooth. Removal of a horse’s tooth can, in complicated cases, take up to eight hours and with the force required to extract the tooth, he is concerned about potential damage that may be caused to the tooth, nerves, roots and the surrounding bone and tissue.

RESTORATION (FILLING) OF A TOOTH Dr Jackson has been performing restorations (fillings and root canals) of horses’ teeth since 2016. While not all teeth can be saved, one of her mentors Torbjorn Lundstrøm taught her that, “If you extract a tooth, you have failed, you have failed to save the tooth.” This is due to the previous explained nature of horse’s teeth once there is a missing tooth and the long-term effects that follows. “In instances where decay has caused tremendous damage to the tooth, restoration can often be a suitable solution to save the tooth, by preventing it from fracturing or infection from spreading to the nerve, in which case we would have no choice but to extract it. Prevention is far better than the cure,” explained Dr Jackson.

A tooth restoration (filling) is now an option for horse owners to consider and while it may not be appropriate in all cases, it is generally cheaper, with a lower complication rate than extraction, and the horse keeps the healthy, functioning tooth. Dr Jackson explaines the process for ‘fillings’. The steps are relatively simple but the procedure takes around 2-3 hours and requires patience and specialised equipment as it needs to be done thoroughly for a successful outcome. Dr Jackson explains the process for equine restorations (or ‘fillings’). “Removal of the rotten feed material and decayed dental material is the most difficult aspect, as you need to make sure the infundibulum (the funnel-like centre of the tooth) is completely clean. The area is then disinfected, rinsed and an etching and bonding material is applied to make sure the ‘filling’ can attach to the tooth. This is followed by the application of the filling. The ‘filling’ material’s consistency is extremely important as if it’s too hard it can easily cause damage to the tooth, and if it’s too soft it will not last long.“

“I use human dental materials known as ‘resin cements’ and the ‘fillings’ in most cases will last the lifetime of the tooth and generally do not need extra care or maintenance. The filling will wear down with the rest of the tooth.” “Costs can vary but an estimate is around $1,000-$1,500 to treat two teeth as the condition usually affects the same tooth on both sides.”

When owners are considering the treatment options available for their horse in the event of severe decay they would need to compare both the restoration costs of two teeth against the costs of a single tooth extraction. An extraction generally cost around $1,000$3000 in the same timeframe, but it is also important to compare the long-term health and welfare aspects of each procedure. Both Dr Lee and Dr Jackson stated that preventative dentistry is the desirable solution for decay. It is also important to realise that these conditions can only be picked up with a detailed oral examination with a powerful light and mirror (or endoscope) and a sedated patient.

NO REGULATIONS There are no regulations on equine dentistry in Australia - anyone can go out tomorrow and call themselves a ‘horse dentist’, so don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding qualifications and experience. Ask if you can look and feel what they are doing as a lot of damage can be done, or serious problems can be missed by an unqualified or inexperienced practitioner.

A READER’S EXPERIENCE WITH ‘FILLINGS’ When the 28-30 year old Palouse Pony, Chester, stopped eating hay, started dropping his hard feed when trying to eat and was passing very dark, cow-like, smelly droppings, his owner Moira Masterton became concerned for his welfare. Prior to Moira getting Chester the 11hh pony had lived in a large paddock with minimal dental maintenance but he was now teaching Moira’s grandchildren to ride and allowing himself to be fussed over. Moira’s dental vet found that Chester had a lot of debris in his teeth and gums, and a bottom molar had decayed and was infected.

Now he is pain-free Chester is happily teaching the grandchildren to ride again. Below: Chester’s mouth since cleaning and having the excess food removed from between his teeth.

As a much loved part of the family Chester deserved a pain free existance so Moira jumped at the opportunity for him to have a temporary filling to stop feed becoming trapped. Since the procedure Chester has regained his appetite; has no problem eating hard feed and hay and is a much happier, pain-free pony. “It’s the best $400 we could have spent. We do have to check his mouth regularly as he seems to collect grass on one side. We rinse his mouth out with the hose and then every week use the mouth wash the vet supplied.”

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’ s t oo b d l o d oo ‘G Replacing your Riding Boots

We have all had those ‘good old boots’, whether they be tall riding boots, short boots, paddock boots or gumboots. That pair that just fits perfectly, like they have been moulded to your foot The thought of working around the stables or riding your horse without your favourite boots can be enough to cause a panic attack, but nothing lasts forever and eventually the wear and tear, especially when used around horses, will overcome even the hardiest pair of boots.

Gradually you may decide that it is time to replace your boots but exactly where do you stand on this decision?

Is it the last thing you want to do and you really feel like you should have a retirement ceremony for your ‘bestest ever boot partners’, or does it create excitement at the thought of shopping or scrolling through all the options on the Net?

The day that has been lurking for a while comes, where the sole separates from the rest of the boot, or the zip breaks, or a hole appears in the fold created from your toes. You HAVE to buy a new pair of boots! It might be the last thing you want to do or it might be an exciting task. Either way, we have collected some information from riders on when they consider is time to change their boots.

Boots are more than just a covering for a horse rider’s feet, they are an extension of the rider and can make or break your equestrian day. Who can concentrate on giving the right aids or directions when their feet and legs are screaming because the boots are squashing toes or cutting off the blood supply to everything below the knee, or your foot is sliding around inside the boot and your contact is affected because you could fit both legs in the one boot and still have room to move?

Our feet are an important and underestimated factor in overall health, (just like in our horses), as when they are out of alignment, so is the rest of the body, therefore comfort and support when selecting your new boots is fundamental. Don’t be afraid to seek help from experts in this area as boots are one item that may be best tried on or personally measured for custom-made as one wrong measurement and can be a disaster. However, there are many suppliers with ‘how to measure’ instructions on the web.


Most workers wear appropriate footwear for their jobs and horse riders are no different; if anything, their boots are more necessary as there is nothing quite as painful as a horse standing on your unprotected foot. Not only are they necessary when handling a horse, but they are an added protection for the work done around the stables and yards.

R.M Williams have come up with the innovative idea of letting you trade in worn, but worthy boots to receive a discount of your next purchase. FIVE SIGNS YOUR BOOTS NEEDS REPLACING: As a general rule of thumb, boots should be replaced every 8-12 months for most people, depending on the brand and the amount of work they do. Some will last longer, and some will wear out more quickly, but there are some clear signs given for when you may need to start looking for a replacement for your beloved boots.

For riding, boots specifically designed for equestrian pursuits are a definite safety requirement as the heel will help prevent your foot sliding right through the stirrup and potentially save you from being dragged should you part company from the horse.


The feel-good factor gained from a pair of well-fitting, comfortable boots can be special and this doesn’t seem to discriminate between cheap boots you picked up on sale or those fitted, handmade, imported leather boots that cost thousands, and for which you have to take out a loan for!

For some riders, boots may be a fashion accessory, but there are specific trends for different disciplines. Showjumpers tend to like soft leather, which allows flexibility, heels down and comfort, opposite to polo players who prefer thick leather as it protects their legs from other rider’s spurs and stirrups. Dressage riders go for that elegant, high-end look that often feature the high Spanish top. There may be two or three folds at the ankle but the rest of the boot retains a stiffer body. Until recently, laces on tall boots were prohibited, but the FEI now permits the wearing of Lace-Up Top Boots in dressage competitions. Boot manufacturers are changing their designs to suit the new trends that go beyond the traditional boot, with Ariat creating a ‘window’ of softer leather on the inner calf of the boot to allow riders to have a closer feel with their horse , while the boot’s shape is maintained by the firmer outer lining. They are also utilising new technologies for the foot bed and antimicrobial liners. Congratulations to the dilute winners of the dilutes australia wa MeMbers only show in february 2021

1 Sole wearing and reduced grip on the bottom, which makes them slippery 2 No more cushioning means painful feet. You can do a press test, to stimulate the pressure when walking and riding 3 Leaking, cold, wet, soggy feet can make you miserable, and can mean you not enjoy being around your horses 4 Broken laces, zips and fraying stitches is a good indication that it might be time to look for a new pair. 5 Patches of leather falling off, typically in the inside of the boot that rubs against the saddle and the horse. REPLACE OR REPAIR: There are still a few places around that will repair old boots, especially leather ones. As long as you have given them a good clean before, a lot of issues can be fixed by a boot repairer - such as replacing broken zips and laces and replacing soles if worn. The decision you need to make is whether your boots are worth the costs of the repairs or if it is better to invest in a new pair. Some will last longer, and some will wear out more quickly, but there are clear signs given for when you may need to start looking for a replacement for your beloved boots.


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Left: Grand Champion DA Dilute Benelong Waymore Wishes (Debbie Tweed). Right: Grand Champion DA Ancillary / NCCD Cawdor Park Absolute Royalty (Corrie Lokan)

national and state leVel awards, inCentiVe sCheMes www.dilutesaustralia.net

April May 2021 - Page 31

Not everyone is a collector of boots as our survey showed. Some were very happy to change their boots regularly and happily did so, while others did everything they could to prolong the life of their boots, including Beverley Leonard: “I’m a very serious collector. I hate tossing them and will often take nice ones in for repair to keep them in work. I have a few pairs of long black and brown boots that sadly do not all have zips. I have two sets of patent short boots/ chaps that I totally love. A nice brown Ariat short boot/chap set, and then there are various short boots - some nice RMW’s and quite a few pairs of everyday boots and chaps. They do get tossed when they spring a leak though.” Helena Wilsons: “Husband has had his long boots for 40 years and short boots and gaitors for at least 20.” Danielle Paulus: “My first pair of Ariat Bromonts are 10 years old. As long as you look after the leather they will last a long time. They now belong to a friend.”

Olivia Towers: UK Grand Prix dressage rider Olivia Towers said her boots become like her best friend – comfy and cosy, reassuring and supportive! ”It’s hard to part with them until you physically have to! It is time to retire the old boots when they become uncomfortable – bits falling off, no longer waterproof, zippers not working! Otherwise hang on to them I say.”

Allison Domney: “I don’t get attached to boots and I usually sell them halfway through their life. I like to have nice, new looking boots all the time.” Col E Choyce: “Replace them fairly early. A bad fitting or worn boot can cause foot problems that can affect the aids being applied correctly.” Liz Tollarzo: “I’m a keeper… until the boots are dead … I use glue or whatever I can to keep them going for as long as possible. And I’m an ‘on-sale’ purchaser … can never go past a good boot.” Jenny Lem: “I always have two pairs of boots – a decent pair for going out and a worn-out pair for home use.”

Amber Wright: “With size 11 feet, tall legs and wide calves, they are so hard to find! I will wear them till they explode.”

Zoe Harrison: “ I have retired from riding and no longer have any horses but when downsizing recently I could not bear to get rid of my König dressage boots. They still have a tree in them to keep their shape, and are stored in a boot bag.” • Use a good quality leather conditioner, but not too often as it can cause the leather to over saturate and ruin

• Waterproof if possible as leather boots can come back to life after a waterproofing • Have a ‘tree’ to insert in your dressage boots so they retain their shape and don’t sag at the ankle.

Leather boots, and especially tall riding boots, have quite the reputation for giving grief during the ‘wearing-in’ stage. The thought of blisters on your heels and at the back of your knees (for the long riding boot owners) is a deterent for some and may influence boot owners to consider repairs over new, for as long as repairs can be sustained.

HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR BOOTS: Boots are a ‘must-have’ item for your equestrian pursuits but good ones are not an inexpensive addition. To prolong their life, maintain that new-look and for comfort, it is essential you look after your boots. • Clean them after use, especially if they have been used in wet, salty or muddy conditions April May 2021 - Page 32

REPURPOSING YOUR OLD BOOTS, Riding boots can be very useful for some groups, such as the Riding for Disabled Association (RDA) and other Associations. New, stiff boots can sometimes be too difficult for the assisting volunteers to get on and off, therefore well worn in boots, that are still in a wearable condition, can be repurposed to these groups. Make enquiries with your local group.

Number 151

TREES for fodder and treats WEED WATCH Tropical Soda Apple Mice Plague, Anthrax and Seaweed Snacks Lovely Lawns on your equine property Hidden Dangers - the horse’s water.

Number 151 April/May 2021 Produced by Hoofbeat Publications 90 Leslie Road Wandi 6167 Ph: 08 9397 0506 greenhorse@hoofbeats.com.au www.hoofbeats.com.au

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Articles, news, photographs, questions and artwork for inclusion in this publication are welcome and should be emailed to editorial@hoofbeats.com.au with the sender’s contact details

Number 151

by Celine Bønnelykke for more info contact: fodderfarm.co.nz


For Fodder and Treats


n part 1 of the series on ‘Trees on the property’ the importance of trees in regards to shade, shelter, wind and soil erosion was determined. But trees can have even more benefits for your horses, especially where pasture is scarce. Fodder trees come in many shapes, varieties and palatability, but besides being a food or treat source for your horses, they can also be combined to form laneways, feed rows or windbreaks to prevent soil erosion and provide shade, therefore multipurpose trees definitely can be considered as an option on any horse property. Every horse needs to consume an average of 1.5% of their body weight in roughage every day; which can be provided from sources such as grass, hay or fodder trees. Fodder trees are more commonly known for use by cattle and sheep where they provide fibre, protein and security in case of a bad year for hay and lack of pasture.

They are however, also a valuable source of fibre for horses. Typically easy to establish, fodder trees require little maintenance and grow relatively fast, but it is essential that they have nutritional value to be useful as fodder for horses. Feedipedia is a website that provides the user with all nutritional information on any tree species, which can be extremely helpful to determine whether your horse is actually nutritionally benefitting from your fodder trees, although in times of drought or shortage of feed many fodder trees can be useful in maintaining gut health.


Each fodder tree species can have different growth conditions and the lucerne tree (tagasaste) can be very invasive and overgrow the land if not managed and controlled. It is also important to incorporate the growth rate of the desired fodder trees in your property April May 2021 - Page 34

planning as slow growing trees like Carob can take six to ten years before they ‘deliver the goods’. Carob also needs good growing conditions and being in a paddock with grazing horses may slow down the fruiting process. Protection and management can be required to speed up the production of the pods. Not much research has been performed in regards to fodder trees for horses in Australia and it should be remembered that certain quantities of specific species can be toxic to some horses, so it can be important to contact your local nursery or agricultural department for specific species information. There are different varieties between the same species, which means they might not be quite as suitable for your property.


You want to plan and be very aware of where you pant your trees (or place your paddocks, if the tree was there first.) Especially in regards to Carob trees as the pods are sweet and tasty so most horses will overeat if they have the option. Having carob trees in your laneway or driveway is a good option as you can regulate just how much is made available to your horse…it just requires you to pick up a couple of carob pods from the ground as you are on your way to the paddock to grab your horse. Lucerne trees are known to be an ideal windbreak as a low and fast growing species (see previous issue) and they can therefore be incorporated in a windbreak where overreaching branches and the reach of the horse’s neck allows for a feed without ring barking and destroying the trees.

Alternatively fodder trees can be planted in a fenced-off cluster inside a paddock, appropriate for young trees to establish, but

For areas that are known habitats for large fruit bats (flying foxes) it is advisable to look closely at property layout and farm design when planting forage trees that may attract these bats to the property as they are known to be a link to Hendra Virus. Consider not planting trees that will attract these bats to your property.

also providing some shade and shelter. The foliage from the trees can also be collected by hand and feed in designated amounts, which is called a cut and carry system. Ideally you could have trees spaced outside the fencing of a track around the property so the horses could ’graze’ as they meander around the property.

to buildings or waterways as the roots can be invasive.

A selection of Fodder Trees CAROB TREE

Many may already know of the Carob tree that produces sweet, black pods that can be found in health stores in Australia, as it is a very popular cocoa substitute.

Most horses love the taste of Carob, though some may take a few tries before developing the taste. It can be fed by either grating the carob bean, breaking it into smaller bits and putting it in their feeds, or feeding the whole pod.

Carob can be used as a treat just like carrots, but can also be helpful if your horse struggles eating while away from home or due to medicine. The pods contain 55% sugar, which can be great for horses needing to gain weight or more energy, but be aware of the amount the horse has access to and the effect the sugar intake may have on its health, behaviour and teeth. The carob pods contain little fat, but high amounts of fibre, so it’s quite a healthy, useful snack for your horses. The carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is a large-spreading evergreen tree, which can grow up to 15 metres in height. The trees typically produce their crop in late summer CAROB

and autumn, when there is often little feed left after the dry Australian summers. Horses can also eat the leaves and the stems and the tree itself provides shade and shelter. MULBERRY

WILLOW/OSIER (Salix viminalis) has many of the same benefits as the Japanese Fodder willow and all willow trees have proven to be useful and safe for horses to eat. Basket willow is a fastgrowing shrub and grows up to six metres in height. BASKET

POPLAR (Populus) are fast-growing trees

maturing up to 12 metres, but there are many different types of poplar that provide nutritional value for horses. Check with you local nursery to determine which species is most suitable to your property. Most poplar species provide additional feed when pasture is scarce. LUCERNE

MULBERRY TREES (Morus nigra – black

mulberry and Morus alba – white mulberry) Mulberry trees, both the white and the black species are highly palatable to horses and the sweetness in the berries and the leaves seems to attract most horses. The branches and leaves contain up to 20% crude protein and 13% fibre. The white species grows up to 15 metres whereas the black species matures between five to eight metres. Be careful not to plant mulberry trees where the horses have unlimited access. Use them instead as a treat where your horse can be let in the garden or fence them off so the horses can only just reach them.




Be aware that in some states the introduced species of mulberries are classed as an environmental weed, so check with your local nursery before you plant this species.

The (Salix kinuyanagi) is highly palatable and contains salicylic acid, which is the natural origin of aspirin. This is also an ideal fodder tree over summer during drought conditions and when pasture is scarce. Willows contain an average of 15% crude protein and the leaves are also shown to contain high levels of zinc and magnesium. The trees are fast-growing, can grow up to four metres, do well in wet areas and can help prevent soil erosion and water-logging. They can also be used as shade, shelter and windbreaks, but don’t place them too close

The (Tagasaste) is a drought-resistant evergreen (legume) tree that grows to about five metres in height and is a member of the pea family. Nutritional value is similar to lucerne hay and its leaves and stem can be eaten by horses providing 16-25% fibre and between 17-23% protein. The leaves are high in vitamin A and are reported as highly palatable for the horse. These trees are extremely drought tolerant, fast growing and make an ideal fodder tree anywhere in Australia. (Acacia saligna) is a fast growing, fire tolerant and nitrogen-fixing species, which means it provides nitrogen to help maintain a healthy soil, which also manages and benefits the slower growing trees. It reaches up to four metres and grows well in sand and is also ideal for windbreak and soil erosion control. ORANGE OR GOLDEN WATTLE


WeedWatch WeedWatch

Botanical name: Solanum viarum. Country of origin: South America. Where found in Australia: So far in NSW and QLD, but has the potential for widely spreading.

Key risks: Loss of biodiversity, rapid spread, competition

The Tropical apple soda fruit showing the relative size and seeds.

for water and shade for animals, spread of pest and diseases.

Not known to be toxic to horses and they have been observed to eat the fruit. But it has been claimed that two horses died from punctured intestines after eating the prickly stems. Generally horses with access to enough pasture or feed shouldn’t graze on these prickly stems. The plant contains solasodine, which is poisonous to humans, and it also contains a chemical compound previously used in steroids and birth control, meaning there is the possibility that this weed may affect reproduction in the animals that consume it.


escribed as the ‘weed from hell’, one can only imagine the devastation this weed can cause to property and landowners.

Farmers along the north coast of New South Wales are at war with this noxious weed that has sprung up following the 2019 bushfires and the following rainfall. Native to Argentina and tropical areas of South America, Tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum) is a species that prefers high-rainfall habitats in tropical and subtropical areas. An upright, perennial shrub - that grows up to two metres in height it has straight, cream-coloured prickles that grow up to 12mm long on most plant parts. The weed prefers open, disturbed sites, especially pastures and areas around cattle yards.

If not controlled, a few plants will form a hectare-sized thicket within six months, usually in shaded areas, and the prickly nature of these plants will restrict your horses and other livestock from using that area. HARD TO CONTROL The majority of infestations of Tropical soda apple are around the Brisbane (QLD) area and northern NSW and the most common ways for this weed to spread are by being eaten by livestock and birds, floating downstream or being ‘squashed’ by vehicles, shoes and other equipment. The fruit, containing up to 400 seeds, is the size of a golf ball and resembles tiny watermelons before it turns ripe and yellow. The seeds germinate in six to 12 weeks. BIOSECURITY CONTROL ORDER This weed is one of only four weeds in NSW with a biosecurity control order, which means you have to notify the suspected presence, movement and destruction of the weed. First discovered in Australia in 2010, experts warn that it could spread under correct climatic conditions. In its native origin it is controlled naturally by insects feeding on the plant, insects that do not exist in Australia. April May 2021 - Page 36

The extremely spiky leaves that deter stock from shaded areas and possibly access to water courses.

The weed can have devastating effects for biodiversity as the dense growth pattern suffocates native plants and disrupts ecological processes. Besides competing with animals and livestock for shade, it can also prevent access to water. This plant also hosts many diseases and pests, which can affect cultivated crops and pastures. DEALING WITH TROPICAL SODA APPLE For controlling very small populations of the plant, hand pulling is the straightforward option, but herbicides are known to kill the plant in larger populations. Be aware that herbicides do not kill the seeds inside the fruit and therefore requires removal of the fruits by hand. Even small green fruits can have viable seeds in them. It is important to remove the entire plant and burn or bag the plant material as this hardy species can easily regenerate. Sheep grazing on the plant is being investigated to see whether they can play a role in controlling the invasive weed in Australia. Scientists are working on other possible biological control options such as introducing insects to feed on the plant, without risking the insect feeding on other plants such as native or cultivated species.

In NSW it is illegal to knowingly transport the seeds of this plant inside an animal, or to knowingly buy or sell an animal that contains seeds. This can result in prosecution and fines, which shows the seriousness of this weed. Six days after the seeds have been consumed and passed by an animal they can no longer sprout. Therefore it is proposed by the NSW government that any new cattle coming onto any property must be contained for six days. Studies of seed viability after being consumed by horses has not yet been done so any new horses coming onto a property should also be held for six days. There is still a lot of knowledge gaps as this weed is relatively new to Australia, but it has the potential to spread and cause devastating effects for animals, landowners and biodiversity. For more info: weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au


MICE PLAGUES COULD AFFECT HAY It is not drought, fire or flood affecting hay and grain supplies at the moment, it is a plague of mice.

A ‘carpet’ of mice has blanketed parts of New South Wales, from Merriwa in the Upper Hunter region to Tamworth and Moree in New England.


In February 2021, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services (LLS) have urged producers to vaccinate their livestock following confirmation of the first case of anthrax to occur this year.

In Queensland, a plague that began seven months ago is leaving a trail of destruction that has cost tens of thousands of dollars in lost crops and property damage.

Anthrax is a rare and potentially fatal bacterial disease. The infectious agent is Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium that most commonly occurs in wild and domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses and deer.

Farmers, graziers, business owners and residents are doing all they can to control the mice, but the rodents seem unstoppable. Mouse numbers tend to hit plague levels when soaking rains follow drought – conditions currently being experienced in much of NSW. The ABC reported that residents in Orange, in NSW’s Central West, are tormented with hundreds of pests invading their roads, homes and crops. Mice can destroy crops, hay, feed stores and invade your house and farm buildings. Social media posts have indicated that the mice are there in large numbers, with some trapping them in buckets and dogs and cats catching large numbers. It was reported that some farmers are burning their hay to kill the mice nesting in it, as urine and faeces spoil the hay meaning stock won’t eat it ... they can also cause illness or death in livestock. Mice can carry leptospirosis, which can cause hepatitis, liver issues and chronic problems.

Detected in an unvaccinated mob of ewes and lambs on a Central West NSW farm, biosecurity measures were immediately imposed on the property. NSW DPI senior veterinary officer, Graham Bailey, said the detection served as a timely reminder. “Cases of anthrax in NSW tend to occur in an area that runs through the centre of the state, between Bourke and Moree in the north, to Albury and Deniliquin in the south,” Dr Bailey said. Risk factors include a history of anthrax on the property, grazing stubble or very short pastures, low ground cover, deep cultivation or earthworks in paddocks, soil movement or exposure as a result of rain, contact with infected carcasses and alkaline soils, which favour spore survival. Anthrax is well known to occur intermittently in grazing livestock and there have been sporadic cases in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland in recent decades. It has only occurred once in WA - in 1994 near Walpole. A total of 31 cattle and one horse died. Horses that have ingested anthrax spores from the soil will usually develop a very high fever and show signs of colic and/ or diarrhoea. They might also develop difficulty breathing (dyspnea) and can develop swelling on the underside of the neck and chest. Unless treated early in the course of the disease, anthrax is usually fatal in horses. A notifiable disease, anthrax must be reported immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline (NSW) by calling 1800 675 888. Information about preventing anthrax is available on the NSW DPI website.


A seaweed diet could be the solution to saving the planet from cattle ‘gas’. The Federal Government granted $1million to a company to up-scale production of its seaweed-based additive for cattle. The feed can cut a cow’s greenhouse gas by 99%. An enzyme in the Asparagopsis seaweed, native to Australia, worked to inhibit the production of methane within a cow. The enzyme gets disrupted and it becomes energy, which the animal uses. As an example of how cattle compare to horses in contributing to the environment, cattle produce about 90% of the enteric methane in France (which contributes 3-5% of France’s global warming), while horses produce only 1.5% of the nation’s methane, William Martin-Rosset, PhD, Head of Equine Nutrition Research at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), said.

April May 2021 - Page 37

type of grass, regular or irregular watering habits and of course, rainfall will encourage quicker growth. The height of your lawn depends on the grass type but a rough guide is: Kikuyu 30 – 50mm, Couch 10 – 30mm, Soft Leaf Buffalo 30 – 50mm. You should do a test patch or two to see what works best on your property. WATER, WATER, WATER

Lovely Lawns

On a horse property there always seems to be acres of grass, but we all have that little bit of lawn we want to look luscious all year round. It could be the entrance to the stables, laneways bordering the driveway, that little ‘special’ snack paddock or you could even dream of a beautiful green arena.

on your equine property


here to start? There are so many products and so much information available that the whole thing can seem overwhelming. So, we thought April was a great time to give you a bit of lawn insight so you can create and maintain that beautiful green lawn of your dreams. TURNING GRASS INTO LAWN It’s simple really, as your grass only needs three things to look like a good and healthy lawn – frequent mowing, 10mm of water a few times a week and a good fertiliser and wetter plan. CUTTING YOUR LAWN The more your lawn area is mowed, the healthier it will be. If grass is long then you

should only reduce it by one third of the leaf height each mowing to avoid stressing the grass. Really – you can’t mow too much as long as you don’t cut too low. You really want to take off the tip of the leaf regularly, which encourages growth. If you do mow and the lawn yellows off, it means you have mowed a little short. But don’t be discouraged – stay with the plan and it will come back nicely.

Like with all plants, water is especially important in keeping your lawn on point. You could be doing everything right but if you are not getting enough water onto the lawn it will take longer to recover from damage. It also leaves it more vulnerable to weeds establishing and pests taking up residence. This doesn’t mean you have to water every day and need to send your self bankrupt in the process. The key is making sure the lawn is watered regularly. You will want between 20 to 30mls per week, so divide this between your allocated watering days. A general rule is under 30 degrees – 20mls. When it is consistently over 30 degrees, increase your watering time to achieve 30mls per week. Check your sprinklers regularly and use catch cups (easily found online or at gardening stores), placed around the lawn to check that all the lawn areas are getting the required water. They will make it easy to measure Lawn cups measure the water spread

Mowing when the lawn is wet can cause clumping and uneven cutting so the ideal time to mow is mid morning - the dew has gone but the heat should not cause stress. Growth can be affected by soil conditions,


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Midland: 9274-5500 3/12 Lloyd St, Midland WA 6056

Proud supporters of Dressage Association of WA and Riding for the Disabled WA

and determine how long you need to run your retic for to achieve the right amount of water to keep a healthy green lawn all summer.

If you have a solid reticulation system with pop up sprinklers you should only need to be running your sprinklers for about 15 minutes to achieve the right amount of watering. The magical time to have the sprinklers turn on is as the sun is rising – this will help with evaporation and give your lawn a great start to the day. FEEDING YOUR LAWN Applying a granular fertiliser to your lawn every three months will bring it to life. You should be aware that, like with most things, you get what you pay for. We would also recommend investing in a hand spreader so that you get the even spread over the lawn. The most important thing to remember is to water it in, at least 6mm of water should be applied after fertilisation and no mowing for 24 hours. A soil wetter should also be applied during the watering months. This is particularly important with hydrophobic soils like the sandy soil in WA. If you have a patchy lawn despite mowing, watering and fertilising you may need to think about applying a wetting agent. Wetting agents attract the water into the soil and improve the water

Property feature areas

Above: Grass grows through these lawn mats and they protect the root system in high traffic areas. Below: Grass arenas can be kept pristine - like this one owned by Judy Sabine of Oakford - by varying the tracks you ride.

Arena access

run off – meaning your lawn will grow deeper roots. By improving the soil, you will be saving water and ensuring it gets to wherever it is needed. Most importantly though, you should ENJOY your lawn. A good lawn is supposed to be used, not just admired from a distance. Don’t be afraid to put the trampoline on the back lawn – just move it regularly. With a little maintenance it won’t be long before your grass looks like a bowling green.

by Rhiannon Brown - Envirapest

Contact ph: 1300 368 472

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.

E: safe@envirapest.com W: envirapest.com.au

April May 2021 - Page 39

Hidden Dangers in our Horse’s Water by Liz Tollarzo

With the average horse drinking around 30 – 50 litres per day - which of course increases in warmer weather or if exercised hard – fresh, clean water is an important requirement that should be readily available at all times to keep a horse healthy.

If a horse is sweating, then more water will be needed to replenish this fluid loss from its body, which is the same situation for a mare that has a foal at foot … she will need a lot more water to drink herself to meet the demands of lactation. When a horse is pastured on lush green grass however, then it may not need to drink because the grass contains a large percentage of water. Whatever the situation in which your horses are kept, what is important is that you know how much each individual horse actually drinks normally, so it can then be noted if the water intake has lessened. This information could provide an early warning of a possible colic or other health issues. WHAT SIZE WATER CONTAINER? Any container that can hold water can be used as a water source for a horse, however, as horses drink so much of this vital resource, then one average sized bucket is just not going to provide enough for your horse’s daily requirements! WATER IN STABLES Water sources in stables can be from a bucket, automatic waterer or a water

High water throughs can be helpful to prevent muddy areas and knee and leg injuries but is not a horse’s natural drinking posture. Small buckets like these may not provide enough water for a horse on warm day of after exercise.

trough of some type. The convenience of an automatic waterer is that it replenishes the water immediately after the horse drinks, so there is always water available. However, the disadvantage is that the owner will not know how much water is being consumed. Automatic waters are also generally very safe as they are usually rounded in shape and are attached to the wall near a corner so the horse is less likely to run into it or injure itself on the waterer. Disadvantages are that they can be attractive to the mischievous horse to ‘chomp’ on, use as a scratching tool or play with the water, so there is a constant damp area in the stable and your water bill increases. Buckets are cheap and can be as large as required – the heavier the material that the bucket is made of the better, as this makes it less likely to be destroyed. Beware of handles with the playful horse, as they often find it a great game to pick the bucket up and spill the contents! Buckets with a flat side can often be secured to a wall, making accidental spillage less likely. Metal buckets should definitely be avoided, as the chance of injury from treading on the bucket is high. Water troughs can be used if there is Automatic water troughs in stables, placed away from feed and hay can provide fresh clean water 24/7, but it is hard for the owner to monitor the horse’s drinking habits.

April May 2021 - Page 40

enough space, or perhaps in a walk–inwalk-out type of stable, and these will be discussed below. A major point for any water source is to make sure the container used is rounded or made of heavy rubber or plastic (to survive chewing, kicking and scratching) and preferably can be ‘dug’ slightly into the bedding to help avoid spilling. Always make sure the water is not placed near any feed bins or hay in a stable as the water could become contaminated by the feed, which would discourage the horse from drinking. WATER IN THE PADDOCK

Hard ground to avoid muddy areas and fencing around the trough can be an option, but be careful if there is more than one horse in paddocks with water throughs designed like this.

The paddock water trough or container needs to be positioned away from any gates and corners even if horses are kept by themselves. Being near a gate is just asking the horse to run into the trough as most horses seem to love to run up to gates – often with a big skid or whiz around! If the trough is placed in a corner, the main worry would be if there is more than one horse then the dominant horse could guard the water trough and prevent the others from drinking or a horse could be cornered and be pushed into (or run into) the trough if there was a disagreement. Placing the water trough on higher, dry ground is important to help prevent muddy

areas forming around the trough. In the case of a wet or low-lying paddock, the ground around the water trough may require gravel or similar to help drainage. The height of the trough depends on the type being used, but the water level should be placed so that the horse has to lower its head and neck to drink. The trough should not be placed at ground level however, as this would encourage the horse to step closer to be able to drink and could increase the chance of it hitting or cutting its legs on the trough itself, as well as creating drainage and cleaning issues. The position of the trough needs to take into account how it will be drained and cleaned and where the ‘old’ water goes during cleaning. Ideally, the larger the water trough the better as it will help keep the water cooler in hot weather and is less likely to freeze in cooler areas. This larger supply will also be a back-up should there be an issue with water supply or pump breakdown. ALGAE BUILD-UP Hot conditions and direct sunlight will encourage algae build-up; providing shade over the water source will help discourage this, as well as using as large a trough as possible. Placing the water trough under a tree may help with shade, however, the down-side is that the trampling of hooves on the roots of the tree may result in killing it in the future. Other factors to consider would be contamination in the form of leaves and twigs falling into the trough, and the worry about possible contamination from bird or even bat faeces dropping into the trough! The pros and cons need to be weighed up as to what will be the best for your property and situation. ALGAE AND LARVAE Mosquito and insect larvae can be discouraged from your horse’s water trough by adding a small amount of flax seed oil or similar into the water, which creates a film on the surface, suffocating the larvae – some horses may not like this so make sure the horse will still drink after adding the oil!

Certain fish species can be tried in a trough to help with algae but if the trough is too small then they will not survive extremes in temperature. Some form of shelter inside the trough is also needed (like a milk crate) to give the fish somewhere safe to go to prevent them becoming dinner for the local bird population. Algae can also be controlled by using small amounts of unscented chlorine bleach, but

Goldfish can be a natural way to help keep your horse’s water trough clean and algae free. Be careful of size of water trough and placement to avoid direct sunlight heating up the water, but also birds closeby hoping for a feed. Do not let your horse’s water trough get to this.

once again horses may not like the taste and treatment will have to be repeated weekly in hot conditions. You can also purchase copper sulphate blocks or dissolve the crystal form, which may be effective in controlling algae, however the danger here is possible copper toxicity poisoning. Dosage is critically dependant on the size of the water container but copper sulphate is also extremely toxic to sheep and goats, cattle can also be negatively affected whilst horses can suffer with stomach issues. A non-chemical solution that is proven to work to inhibit new algae growth is using barley straw in the trough, at a rate of around 10-25 grams per metre of surface area of water. Barley straw, when submerged, contains a chemical that slows algae growth but it doesn’t stop or have any effect on existing algae – therefore you would need to empty the trough first, scrub and bleach to remove existing algae, and allow to dry in the sun for a few days before refilling and then trying the barley straw. The best way to control algae in any trough is by regular cleaning.

so to kill any spores remaining before refilling. Any water source, regardless of type, will need to be inspected every day, checking it is full, and not containing any dead animals, plant material or other contaminants that could discourage your horse from drinking. It is not that uncommon for horses to manure and urinate into their own water sources, which definitely makes it unpalatable to a horse! Many birds, bees and other native animals may also use the water source for drinking, so it is an excellent idea to place a plank or rounded stick (fastened at one end out of the water) so if a bird or animal falls into the water they can climb back out. It’s also a good idea to train your dogs not to jump into the water troughs as this not only contaminates the water with hair and dirt, but also could be an issue for your horse when they come to drink if the dog has been treated with flea control products or shampoo. Water is one of the most important substances for equines and it certainly is worth the effort to make sure a clean, fresh supply is always readily available in safe containers for the well-being and health of our horses.

CLEANING At least once a week a water trough or container should be completely scrubbed and rinsed out. If no stock is in that paddock, whenever possible, the trough should be left empty in the sun for a day or Don’t encourage your dog to swim in the trough, as the dog could have chemical residue from flea treatment.... although in hot weather it may be hard to keep the trough dog-free. April May 2021 - Page 41

Please Explain Why do heavy horses cross their hind legs while walking?

Physical traits such as size and conformation can help a horse excel at certain activities such as racing, jumping, endurance and heavy pulling. Bone structure is important in the ability of a horse to move. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, conditioning and training all contribute to a horse’s athletic prowess. The different breeds of horses have been designed with gaits produced specifically suited for the job of

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’.

the horse. Dr. David Miller, Professor in Animal Science and Production, Murdoch University, explains how heavy build horses bred for pulling - like Clydesdales and draft horses - will put one foot on front of the other, like walking on a string. “It looks very elegant for such heavy build horses, but it actually is an aid to help them pull heavy weights. On the other hand is your Thoughrougbred, which is bred for speed and it will usually keep a certain space between its hind legs and not ‘waste’ movement other than power to go forward.” Other confirmation traits are the length of the horse’s neck. Often seen in heavy horses are short, compact necks, which again helps them pull the heavy weight, whereas a long neck typically gives a long stride, often desired in dressage, but also speed. One notably important conclusion drawn about horses is that the horse’s desire can often supersede its physical limitations, opening new possibilities for many horses, riders and trainers.

HOW TO IMPROVE THE SITTING TROT Mary Warren is a NCAS Level 1 Dressage Coach, a Member of the NSW

High Performance Squad and a Member of the Equestrian Australia Recognition Dressage Squad. The topic this issue is ‘how to improve the sitting trot’. All trot work from Elementary and above must be done in ‘sitting trot’ so, if its something a rider struggles with in particular; it can be quite challenging getting through those tests in an elegant manner. Even if riders don’t think they are struggling with ‘the bounce’ they can unknowingly be compensating by balancing off the horse’s mouth or gripping with their knees, rather than using their core and seat. There are a couple of exercises on the horse that come to mind to help the rider to improve their sitting trot. • If you are new at the sitting trot you may want to gradually introduce yourself to it. Try four steps rising trot and then four steps sitting trot. Find your rhythm within the trot and try not to change the horse’s tempo when you go from rising to sitting. Return to the rising trot and repeat the exercise.

Why do horses yawn?

While we associate yawning with being tired, it’s generally not due to fatigue that a horse will yawn, unless it’s accompanied by other signs. Horses are one of the few planteating mammals to yawn and while horses may yawn for a number of reasons it’s not fully understood why they do it. Some of the reasons found in studies include that yawning may be a way for a horse to release endorphins. Yawning, and most horses will do it several times in a row, can be a sign that the horse is feeling stressed, and by yawning it is releasing the stress. It has also been suggested that it can be closely related to frustration-provoked behaviour in horses kept confined, especially in arousal-provoking situations such as feeding time. One study also found that horses that yawned repeatedly exhibited stereotypic behaviours, which raised the question of the role that stress can play in yawning. Horses have also been found to yawn when being saddled-up or loaded onto a float with the theory being that yawning can facilitate a shift between emotional states and the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Yawning can also be a sign of pain or discomfort, so if your horses seem to be yawning a lot, or inappropriately, observe them carefully in case it could prompt any welfare concerns or if a call to the vet might be warranted.

Riding with no stirrups can teach the rider to ride with a longer leg. The only disadvantage is that the rider may try and compensate their balance on the horse by gripping with their knees or holding onto the horse’s head. This is something a rider needs to be very conscious of whilst doing this exercise. • Ride with no stirrups – riding for 15min or so with no stirrups is not only a good exercise for the core but it also teaches the rider to ride with a longer leg and sit deeper in the saddle. Riders needs to try and absorb the bounce through their seat and back by not bracing against the horse’s movement. • For riders who tend to hold on to the horse’s mouth, rather than use their core and seat to balance themselves, try introducing a lot of ‘half-halts’ into


Send it to enquiries@ hoofbeats.com.au and we will ‘ask an expert’ for the answer.

your training. Having that release hundreds of times during a training session physically makes the rider check that they aren’t relying on the horse’s mouth. If the horse’s tempo, rhythm, or frame changes then it’s an easy guess the rider was riding ‘with the handbrake on’ and not in balance and harmony. Relying on the horse’s mouth for balance is a very easy trap to fall into, particularly when a rider fatigues and starts resorting to other measures. The important thing when sitting trot is not to grip or brace. Riders who struggle with the sitting trot usually are quite rigid in their pelvis and/or back and therefore bounce off the horse’s back rather than absorb the concussion through their body with suppleness. Some riders find the sitting trot more natural than others but it is definitely something that can be worked on and improved through practice and discipline from the rider. Based in Bolwarra Heights, NSW Mary Warren is a 22 year old professional dressage rider who runs a business of agistment, training and coaching out of the family property.She has experienced training and competing multiple Young Horses right through to Grand Prix at CDI’s around Australia successfully. “I would like to thank my sponsors for their support and generosity. Ashbree Saddlery, Kelato Animal Health, Flexible Fit Equestrian, Heavenly Horse Designs, Brad Miles Equine Trigger Point Therapy, EquiDirectory and Black Horse Clothing.”

April May 2021 - Page 45


DEIDRE’S APP REVIEWS Listen and learn while you work or drive.

Podcasting Deidre Rennick is a self-confessed appaholic. A dedicaed horse rider who loves nothing better than trying out a variety of apps and podcasts, that relate to riding and her horse - The Wonderpony. Deidre never professes to be an expert in any of these fields but has had a lot of fun over the years, trying many different and varied ones for her own interest. We have asked her to share her insight with readers and highlight some of the different apps available for those of us who either don’t have the time or confidence to go looking into the world of apps. If you have found a ‘favourite’ app or podcast then let’s know so we can pass on to Deidre, or you can write your own review. email: editorial@hoofbeats.com.au

If you have not yet discovered that the world of podcasts has information for all aspects of the equestrian world, from riding to feeding and management of your horse, to training to general discussions on specific aspects of horse health..then you are in for a great surprise, and a whole new world of information to discover. There really is something for everyone, but perhaps the best thing of all is podcasts are free!

What is a Podcast? A podcast is an audio file able to be downloaded from the internet. They are tiny packets of data so do not chew through data allowance like photo or video content. Most mobile phones come with the operating system’s podcast app as a standard. You can purchase podcasting apps, but I have never had any trouble finding a podcast using Apple Podcast, so I have stayed with this free service. But check out the many others to see which suits you.


Available Episodes

Average Podcast Time

Train Your Own Horse with Stacy Westfall (USA)


30 mins

Ten seasons of training tips. Some seasons are themed (e.g., Season 9 is trail riding skills).

Daily Strides with Lorna Leeson (UK)


15 mins

Classical dressage focus. Lorna speaks at a million miles an hour but has a lot of little sayings you can keep in your head.

Horse Chats (Aus)


30-45 mins

Guest interviews cover a large range of topics. Many episodes are based on a “Ten Tips” or “Top Ten” advice from some big-name experts.

The Journey On Podcast with Warwick Schiller (USA)


1.5 – 2 hrs

This is less about horse training and more about Warwick’s journey of self-discovery and realignment of his training. Extremely honest, Warwick is delving into those areas he calls the “woowoo”.

Best Horse Practices with Jec Ballou (USA)


30 mins

Mainly interview episodes but Jec provides some training tips and responses to reader questions at the end of each episode.

The Confident Rider Podcast with Jane Pike (NZ)


30 mins – 2 hrs

Jane is well known as a confidence coach, but this is more than that, and themes and discussions can be a bit “heavy” going.

Buck Off Banter (UK)


1 – 1.5 hrs

Strong language warning but hilarious conversations between two self-confessed average horse riders– one eventer and the other a show jumper.

Ride Every Stride with Van Hargis (USA)


30 mins

Natural horsemanship trainer and colt starter. Most episodes are facilitated by a novice rider so there are many basic questions asked and answered.

April 2018 to now

1 hr

Come Along for the Ride with Tracy Malone (Aus)

April May 2021 - Page 46


Holistic horse care and themes.

Getting Started Use the search function within the podcast app to find the name of the podcast of interest. I have provided a list of my podcasts as a starting point, but simply typing in the word “horse” will bring up many recommendations. There is a description about the podcast, a star rating from listeners and a list of available episodes to help you decide what might interest you. What is amazing about podcasts is that most of the world’s top horse and rider trainers seem to have podcasts…and did I say they are free?! I cannot imagine I will ever get a lesson with Stacy Westfall, but I can listen to hours of free training advice directly from Stacy on her podcast. To add a podcast to your Library you need to subscribe. Subscribing is free. The advantage of putting your favourite podcasts in your Library is that you can always see when they have been updated with new episodes. If you want to sample a podcast you simply select an episode to listen to then go to Listen Now and the episode will be there. If you are expecting to listen to this when there is no internet choose the little cloud icon. This will download it into your phone memory. Listen to how-to podcasts as you ride.

My Podcast Library It may not be exhaustive and while it reflects my interests there are so many new shows coming onto the scene it is hard to keep up. When I find a new podcast I like I generally go through the back catalogue. This can mean hundreds of hours of listening! Choose ‘Available Episodes’ to see all seasons and episodes.

Listening to Podcasts

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I do a lot of travel through areas without mobile reception so download episodes to cover the hours of travel. If you know you will be in mobile access areas and have mobile data, then you do not need to do this is advance. My mobile phone is connected via a USB cable, so it comes through the car stereo system. Most modern cars also have Bluetooth connections for wireless connection. Podcast listening is obviously not limited to car travel and I have my earphones in while cleaning paddocks or gardening. Give consideration to having just one earbud (headphone) on so you are also aware of what is happening around you when driving or working with horses. Listenng to interesting horse related topics certainly makes time fly and I learn a lot at the same time. I hope you too find something of interest in the world of podcasts. Enjoy!

0407-424-704 www.wattlelanestables.com April May 2021 - Page 47

Injury Prevention

by Dr. Raquel Butler

in the Equine Athlete

An understanding of the performance horse’s biomechanics can influence its health, well-being and injury-free performance.

Very often a traumatic sporting injury occurs and it appears to be out-of-the-blue, however there are often many signs, some more subtle than others, that if recognised could have altered the course of events and prevented the injury from occurring.

April May 2021 - Page 48


he athletic pursuits that our horses undertake are wide ranging and often very challenging - with success depending on the horse’s conformation, posture, physical and mental function and preparatory training.

Aiming to prevent sports injuries in performance is by far less costly in terms of money, time and the horse’s health and wellbeing than an injury occurring during the competition season and then rehabilitating the horse to pre-injury condition. There are a number of management aspects horse owners can incorporate into their training regime to achieve their aim for injury prevention, such as appropriate training and conditioning, dedicated warm-up and cool-down periods, the use of well fitting equipment and being aware of and willing to address issues relating to the influence their own body can have on the horse’s performance

Horse fit for purpose The aim of having adequate conditioning of the horse is to increase its stamina (endurance) and/or aerobic capacity, increase speed, increase muscular strength, delay the onset of fatigue, reduce the risk of musculoskeletal breakdown, improve biomechanical and neuromuscular coordination and skills and maintain the horse’s mental willingness to work. Fatigue (both psychologically and physically) is a key contributing factor to injury. Fatigue leads to reduced energy availability to the muscle, increased waste product build up sooner and alterations in the recruitment of muscles, which may alter posture and lead to compensations setting the horse up for injury.

A fit horse will have a good or expected performance, it will recover easily and well, respond to exercise without exertion/ notable puffing, exhibit normal behaviour and normal thirst post exercise, and a normal demeanour immediately after and in the days following exercise. An unfit horse may perform poorly, have post workout stiffness or weakness, reduced or increased thirst or appetite, may be depressed, have a poor recovery of heart rate, respiratory rate and/or temperature, excessive sweating and may show other behavioural abnormalities before, during or after the event such as facial tension, refusing jumps, refusing to go into an arena etc.

Cardiovascular conditioning ensures that there is appropriate blood flow to the muscles to deliver energy and remove wastes is optimal, as well has the ability to cope with shifts in fluid balance due to sweating. The heart mass and output of blood flow increases with training and once established it takes about six weeks to deteriorate - therefore, a horse can have 1-2 weeks off once it is fit with no deterioration in fitness levels. To maintain fitness the horse only needs to be worked 1-2 times a week. To improve fitness they only require 2-3 times a week, which allows for sufficient recovery. There may be other sessions incorporated into your training regime that focus on posture, flexibility, strength and proprioception but these are utilised to refine skill and strength rather than fitness. Continued AEROBIC: ‘with air’; refers to the body producing energy with the use of oxygen. ANAEROBIC: meaning ‘without air’; refers to the body producing energy without oxygen. This is typically exercise that is performed at a higher intensity. There are two ways that the body can produce energy anaerobically. One provides immediate energy for an instantaneous burst of exercise, such as for a sprint or jump, and can last from 0 - 10 seconds. The other provides energy for very hard efforts lasting roughly 10 - 120 seconds and is associated with the build-up of lactate and other metabolites within the muscles. CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITIONING: improves circulation and strengthens the heart, lungs and blood vessels. It builds endurance and strength for the heart muscle, which needs a steady program of exercise to help keep it fit.

LISTEN TO YOUR HORSE Every horse, just like every human, is asymmetrical to some degree. In horses this is known as laterality and many riders recognise that their horse has a more difficult side and an easier side or has some movements that they find hard or easy. The key is not to harp on the difficult movements, as they are difficult for a reason. Instead, think about why they might be difficult and work on exercises to correct that, rather than practice the same difficult exercises over and over again. Know how your horse normally stands in the paddock, moves, feels under saddle, behaves and responds to the environment and work, and if this is slightly off then investigate and do not listen to anyone who tells you to persist and work them harder, add a whip, spurs or punishment in any form. Keep asking why and searching for the right person to help you overcome the issues as your horse is always right, it is just that we don’t always understand what they are trying to communicate to us. Racehorses fracturing limbs or falling in races, horses falling in eventing, knocking rails in show jumping or refusing jumps are not behavioural or accidents and these can be prevented if you learn how to observe the horse for signs of musculoskeletal dysfunction. ‘Listen’ to the horse’s behaviour and know how your horse’s body feels -both ridden and unridden - via your bodywork and stretching regimen. Part of a horse’s training and maintenance management should be to see a professionally qualified and insured bodyworker on a regular basis (at least every 6-8 weeks) to ensure that any little kinks are ironed out before they become an issue, and to investigate any changes in performance or behaviour that are not at the level of presenting to a veterinarian. Your bodyworker will also set up individual exercises for your horse to aid in strengthening its weaknesses.

PROPRIOCEPTION (or kinaesthesia): is the sense that lets us perceive the location, movement, and action of parts of the body. It encompasses a complex of sensations, including perception of joint position and movement, muscle force, and effort. ASYMMETRICAL: having parts that fail to correspond to one another in shape, size, or arrangement; lacking symmetry. SYMMETRICAL: made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis; showing symmetry. FASCIA: is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilises, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. April May 2021 - Page 49

THE INFLUENCE OF EQUIPMENT There are many components to riding horses, and understanding the impact of these will aid in preventing injury. SADDLE FIT is vital in ensuring that your horse can lift through its back comfortably and it is not adding to fatigue by causing the horse to alter its posture in response to a pressure point or pain. A horse’s shape will alter with a change in work load, a change in weight, fitness and types of exercise, therefore the saddle needs to be regularly assessed by a professional saddle fitter every 3- 6 months -depending how the horse is changing. In an ideal situation the wither pockets on your horse will fill in and the back muscles will develop further as the back and core strength develops. Sometimes these changes can be so dramatic you will need a new saddle, and the one you had custom made to your horse a year ago won’t fit anymore due to the positive development. BIT FIT is often overlooked in Australia, although it is more commonplace overseas. The importance of bit fit is related to the differing conformations of horses’ mouths, including the position and thickness of the tongue, position of the hard palate and bars of the jaw, space between the incisors and the molars, lip conformation such as thickness - and size of the mouth.

Just because your Warmblood is a big horse does not mean it has a big mouth. An improperly fitting bit can influence the horse’s ability to engage its hind end and respond to the rider’s aids in a soft manner; they may open the mouth, move the tongue around, move the head up or down or resist the bit. This is not because they need a stronger control bit, it is because they need a bit that fits and is comfortable when pressure is applied. Rider fitness, symmetry and balance will also influence the horse’s balance, flexibility and freedom of movement and it will reduce the time it takes a horse to fatigue when the horse has to constantly compensate for the rider.

Injury Prevention in the Equine Athlete continued...

VARIATIONS IN TRAINING No matter what discipline we compete in, variation in training and cross-training is very beneficial to the health of our horse’s musculoskeletal system and prevention of injury. All sports require balance, proprioception, strength, flexibility/ suppleness and endurance, however the degree will differ. Professional football players do not play football every day in order to prepare for the footy match. They train in the gym, do Pilates, yoga, interval training, ball skills, cardiovascular training, get massages etc. to lead to optimal performance on the day.

OVER TRAINING We very often over-train our horses, not allowing enough time for recovery and focusing on the competition rather than the skills required to execute it well. Fascial health deteriorates with immobilisation and age and responds best to variation and rehydration breaks, incorporating exercises such as dynamic and static stretching, lateral work, slow and melting stretches/body work and interval gymnastics. A short session focusing on fascia twice a week would be a valuable addition to your training program. So, ask yourself what are the components of the sport that I compete in? For example, an endurance horse requires a high degree of stamina to be able to ride through varying terrain at variable speeds for 4-5 hours or more and has very different requirements than a dressage horse that is competing in a 5-10 minute dressage test doing collected movements. An endurance horse also requires very good proprioception (limb awareness in space) and strength to negotiate the varied terrain so dressage and balance/postural training at a walk over poles would be a very valuable addition to the endurance horse’s training regime, rather than just riding out all the time.

Keeping your horse injury free is about thinking, “What type of strength do I require in my horse?”. A dressage horse requires core and hind end strength, so you could work smarter, not harder, by incorporating a poles day where you work on transitions – unridden or in a ground-work session. A jumping horse requires proprioception to avoid knocking poles so incorporating slow and controlled walking over and around obstacles would be a beneficial inclusion in their training program.

POSTURE AND HOOF BALANCE Posture and hoof balance are key players in reducing fatigue by optimising the quality of loading and allowing the movements to be more energy efficient, thereby reducing unnecessary stress on the musculoskeletal system. There is a dynamic relationship between symmetry, posture and gravity, which incorporates strength, neurological balance, flexibility, muscle development balance, skeletal alignment, hoof balance, rider balance, saddle balance, the bit and the ridden surface attributes. These attributes contribute to the static and dynamic posture of the horse, as does its living environment and overall health and well-being.

Include a ride out through varying terrain in your horse’s training regime.

If there is a major competition that you were planning for you would want the horse’s feet to be attended to within no longer than three weeks prior. A competition horse should be on a maximum of a five week trimming cycle, otherwise by the end of the cycle you have had a significant alteration in the horse’s support system and hence the biomechanics of the horse, leading to fatigue and tissue stress occurring sooner. As well as hoof balance, posture and symmetry can be improved with regular bodywork sessions and in- hand training so that you can observe the postural changes without the effects of the rider, saddle and other gear, and variable feeding positions. The aim is for the horse to have a static and dynamic posture that allows for true self-carriage with an extended nose, lifted sternum and a hind end that works harmoniously with the rest of the body via pelvic freedom and engagement.

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COMPETITION LEAD-UP It is important to taper exercise before an event to optimise the performance of the horse. A horse that is undertaking a sport with medium cardiovascular demand should have its workload reduced in the preceding 3-5 days. A high cardiovascular system demand sport should reduce the workload in the preceding 5-10 days. This tapering process ensures that any tissue damage is fully repaired, muscle energy stores are replenished and the horse is in optimal condition for the competition ahead. It is therefore not advised to compete on a weekly basis or to pull your horse out of the paddock a few days before an event and ride each day in preparation as this will set your horse up for injury due to not allowing sufficient recovery time for any microdamage to repair and for general recovery. A tapering work load could include shorter sessions, walking, stretching, body work and postural Continued balancing.

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April May 2021 - Page 51

all of the bones, muscle, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves promoting a smooth and flowing movement of the body. Ensuring it is warmed-up adequately will allow it to slide freely over the underlying structures and prevent restrictions, which may lead to injuries. The warm-up will also depend on the type of work, the fitness of your horse, the surfaces that you are working on, the age of your horse and any known pre existing weaknesses. For example, if your horse is stiff due to arthritis then your warm-up may take a bit longer and include some gentle suppling exercises. The important thing is to not perform any short, sharp or quick movements in the warm-up, ensure that there is no brace in the body and avoid any exercises that your horse or you find challenging.


The warm-up is a very important part of your training and competition performance and should be tailored to the work that you are planning to do. A good warm-up ensures adequate blood flow to the muscles to deliver energy and oxygen and removal of waste products, as well a stimulation of joint fluid, lubrication of joint surfaces and hydration and mobility of the fascial system to support flexible motion. Fascia is a continuous multidimensional cling film-like layer of collagen microtubules, fluid, blood vessel, nerves and fat that covers

RECOVERY During exercise, especially during competitive exercise, there may be small amounts of muscle damage or strains that go undetected and if given sufficient time to recover they heal and are not a problem. These can take anywhere from days to months to heal, if the horse is asked to continue to work in subsequent days the healing may be delayed, while bracing/protecting the area may start to occur and lead to compensatory tension setting up patterns of dysfunction in the horse’s musculoskeletal system. The horse is a master at compensating and so this may go unnoticed for quite a period of time or there may be subtle changes in the movement that are not recognised until behavioural alterations occur or worse, an obvious injury. The type of cool-down will depend on the type of workout performed, for example, if the horse is sweating quite a lot and it is a hot day then it will require to be hosed down.

In terms of aiding musculoskeletal recovery it is optimal to spend time walking the horse and to incorporate a stretching session at least 2-3 times a week, especially after a harder workout or a step-up in training. The best type of stretching after riding when the horse is warm is static stretching, holding for 20-30 seconds and repeating each stretch 2-3 times. Always incorporate spinal stretches in your stretching regime as this is where the rider sits and spinal motion is vital for limb motion. April May 2021 - Page 52

You want the joints, especially the hips and shoulders and pelvis to be warmed-up sufficiently before undertaking lateral work, although you may use a gentler version of lateral work - such as shoulder-fore on a bigger circle or straight line - to start suppling the body. A five minute active, easy trot will warm up the muscles sufficiently or a 15 minute walk. For non-ridden methods of warming your horse up you could do at least 15 minutes of; - Dynamic range of motion stretching - Infrared heat lamps - Massage - Massage rug After a hard work out such as racing, cross country or a competition, horses require at least 2-3 days completely off work so they can rest (hand-walking if stabled) to replenish their muscle energy stores (glycogen) and allow recovery of immune function. This is also a great time to include in-hand walking and stretching. During the week between competitions they should only do light work and recall the tapering recommendations.

Once horses are fit they take much longer than humans to lose fitness. When being competed on a regular basis the focus in-between should be on adequate recovery and skills refinement. There are many ways we can prevent injuries in our horses and at the same time optimise performance. Planning our training sessions to target the discipline and the individual horse as well as optimise their management regime to incorporate a good warmup, cool-down, regular stretching session, five weekly hoof trims, 6-8 weekly body work sessions, 3-6 monthly saddle assessments, bit fitting and a rider fitness regime will lead to improved health and wellbeing of our equine athletes. 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.

When, and by whom, should I have my horse’s back treated?

Dr Tom Ahern

BVSc MRCVS Equine Veterinarian and Researcher.

The aim of most horse owners is to ride their horses for enjoyment or competition, and to achieve this they have learnt - either by experience or by education - how important it is to keep the horse’s back in good working order. Thousands of dollars are spent each year on pampering our horses in an endeavour to make their backs as comfortable as possible – foam pads, gel pads and saddles with the latest technology for equine comfort. Then there’s the treatments – the hot and cold therapies, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, electrostimulation, magnetic therapy and many more to either repair or as preventative measure for back comfort. The smorgasboard of therapist and theraputic options can lead to confusion when horse owners are searching for solutions to back problems. So, how do we determine when a horse needs back treatment and who should we be asking to do this?

Chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage, mesotherapy, FES, shockwave therapy(ESWT), intra articular cortisone, Tellington TTouch, Bowen therapy, Magnetic field therapy, ultrasound therapy


orty years ago the only persons treating horses’ backs were a few unqualified, usually self-taught individuals who pushed, pulled and prodded away and then gave a variety of explanations for their actions. Veterinary science spent more research time trying to dispute the need for such treatment based on what was seen as a relatively immobile spine. Unfortunately, the term ‘horse’s back’ in those days only referred to that section of the spine between the wither and tail. The horse’s neck was rarely spoken of but these days it is recognised that the complete spine plays an important role in the back health of horses. The spinal cord is protected within the verteabral column, which extends from the skull to the end of the tail. One of the prime responsibilities of the vertebral column is to protect the spinal cord and the complex nerve system that branches from it at intervals all along the spine. These nerves fan out within the horse’s body and go to the joints, muscles, internal organs, and skin. Nerve impulses travel from the brain and spinal cord and out of the spinal nerves to all parts of the body. Peripheral nerves and the spinal cord also carry nerve impulses back to the brain. Therefore, the horse’s overall nerve structure serves as the message-carrying system between the brain and all areas of the body.

Nerves also can sense pain and joint movement from pain sensors that are found in the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and blood vessels along the horse’s back. It is when the horse’s muscles and joints don’t function correctly, or nerves are irritated, that the message system falters and the horse registers pain.

Defining ‘back pain’ Back pain can be divided into two general types or sources.

Primary muscle pain: Strains and tears and metabolic conditions such as tying-up and Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy all of which have elements of inflammatory based pain. These will more often respond to and therefore be treated with anti-inflammatory medication.

Pain associated with the spine: There are two types of

pain emanating from the spine. Firstly, an inflammatory pain (IP) component where joint pathology is present and secondly, a nerve pain (neuropathic pain NP) component where nerves are damaged or compromised.

‘Inflammatory pain’ (IP), which is usually associated with spinal joint pathology. Joint pain can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication or intra-articular injections of corticosteroids. Inflammatory pain is always perceived by the animal within the tissues that are traumatised. Is a form of local pain. ‘Neuropathic pain’ (NP) ) is pain that develops as a direct result of injury or irritation to a nerve. Many horses that present with back issues have elements of NP. NP in most cases does not involve an inflammatory process and therefore does not respond to anti-inflammatory medication. NP is also very commonly referred to tissues quite some distance from the actual trauma. This we call ‘referred pain’.

THE HORSE’S SPINE It begins at the head and travels along the neck, withers, back, loin, and croup, and it ends in the tail. The conformation of the spinal column can have a great deal to do with the horse staying sound, healthy, and free of back pain even when involved in active pursuits. A significant characteristic of the spine is its rigidity. There is some movement from side to side and up and down along the back, but not a great deal. In contrast, the vertebrae in the neck and in the tail are much more flexible. The spine contains the smallest joints of the equine locomotor system, which are moved by some of the thickest muscles of the body (over the back).

For example a horse may experience shoulder or hoof pain in response to trauma in the lower cervical (neck) region.

It is the treatment of NP that brings into play many of the different therapists and therapies that we see today.

How do I know if my horse has spinal issues?

There are two major presenting signs that will alert you to the possibility of spinal issues in your horse, the first of which is pain and the second being varying degrees of stiffness that is technically described as reductions in range of movement or ‘Reduced ROM’.

Pain and Stiffness

Reduced ROM can present as altered gaits (shortened or stilted), stiffness in the shoulders or an inability or reluctance to bend fully on left or right circles or to ‘collect’ or ‘round up’.

Neuropathic pain is not an inflammatory pain and usually presents as alterations in response (often heightened) to normal stimuli such as touch or pressure. Cold backed, girth shy, poll shy, needle shy, difficult to groom and resents rugging are just some situations that suggest a heightened response to what, for most horses, are normal stimuli. Given that NP is not an inflammatory pain there will be little to no change in these animals’ abnormal gaits, or in their abnormal responses to touch and pressure, when medicated with agents like butazolidin or flunixin.


There is no simple answer to the question of whom you should get to treat your horse as most therapists and modalities will generate some sort of positive response. The answer then is to go back to the two primary issues, being pain (neuropathic and inflammatory) and loss of range of movement.

A positive response to treatment should see a ‘long term’ improvement in both neuropathic and inflammatory pain, and range of movement. The vertebral column can be divided into five regions: the cervical (consisting of seven vertebrae), thoracic (18), lumbar (six), sacral (five), and coccygeal (15-21). They are numbered head to tail (cranially to caudally) by type (T1, T2; S1, S2, etc.). The first two cervical vertebrae — the atlas and the axis — have specialised functions for side-to-side and up-and-down movement. The thoracic vertebrae begin at the point of the shoulder and continue to where the last rib attaches to the vertebral column. The thoracic vertebrae closer to the neck have prominent dorsal spinal processes (projections) for attachment of muscles that support the front legs, head, and neck. The vertebrae of the sacral area help support the hind legs, and their ligaments form broad attachments to the bones and muscles of the pelvis. April May 2021 - Page 55

in this state of reduced pain, hopefully the rider can improve the horse’s spinal ROM with standing and ridden flexion exercises.


Mobilisation’ is the term used by many therapists to describe the act of improving the horse’s range of movement. For that reason we should probably refer to the art of ridden flexion training as ‘Mobilisation Under Saddle’ or MUS. Thus successful treatment should involve a therapist who is able to reduce the perception of neuropathic pain whilst an experienced MUS rider improves the horse’s ability to bend and flex. The aim is to eventually restore full spinal range of movement and if this is achieved then neuropathic pain should no longer be evident.


Other therapists, such a chiropractors and physiotherapists, may attempt to forcibly improve the spinal joints’ range of movement using slow, controlled mobilisation or sharp, manipulative movements. There are situations where responses are only evident for a week or two. These treatments are often only dealing with the symptoms (symptomatic treatments) and not actually treating the primary issue. Primary treatments should yield long term positive responses.


When considering spinal range of movement in the horse, most professional riders agree that their horse’s ability to bend directly affects its ability to perform, particularly in dressage, showjumping, and any events where sharp turns are an advantage.

Very simply, approximately 80% of your horse’s ability to bend comes from its neck (cervical spine).

The next more mobile area is the lower back (lumbar spine). Logically treatments should be targeted at maintaining pain free ROM in these important anatomical areas.

Reducing PAIN,restoringROM

Neuropathic pain and reduced range of movement are often directly linked. NP is often heightened when your horse tries to bend its spine in the direction where range is reduced. Treatments like massage and acupuncture attempt to reduce the perception of NP and whilst Flexion training, which follows the principle of ‘relax and stretch’ is in itself a form of therapy.

But what if, despite reductions in neuropathic pain, you’ve got to a point where the treatment has been unable to fully restore your horse’s range of movement? This may be to the left, to the right or in a collected frame.

It is here that we need to understand the anatomical strength of the 500kg patient we are dealing with. Spinal joints are protected by a mass of muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, and some joints are better protected than others. Upper cervical and to some degree lumbar joints are amenable to manipulative or mobilisation techniques that are applied in the standing or conscious horse. Some therapists choose to sedate the horse before treating them to improve the likelihood of gaining improved ROM. It is important here to remove the notion that your horse’s joints are in some way ‘out’ of alignment and need to be ‘popped’ back into place. If that were the case, particularly with cervical spinal joints, then your horse would quite possibly be diagnosed as having ‘wobblers syndrome’ (cervical vertebral malformation). Nowadays even chiropractors are more likely to discuss ROM rather than misalignment. In contrast, the lower cervical spine (and with this the upper thoracic joints) are protected by a very large mass of muscle,

Skull and Mandible




Sacral Caudal

So! If you have a horse that is exhibiting altered sensitivities, and/or an altered or shortened gait that shows little improvement with antiinflammatory medication, or that is struggling on left or right circles or when asked to collect, then you should consider the possibility that your horse has ‘back’ - or more correctly ‘spinal’ - issues. Choose your therapist with the knowledge that therapeutic effects are influenced by the area of the spine where the issues are present. Therapy should lead to ongoing and lasting improvements. If this is not the case then you should explore other options.

Sternum Ribs

ligaments and connective tissues and are thus not amenable to most forms of standing therapy. Nerves that eminate from these joints form the brachial plexus, which is the nerve supply to the shoulders, lower neck and fore limbs. Having discussed this issue with numerous therapists in many countries, most agree that without anaesthesia one cannot effectively mobilise this area of a horse’s spine. Those who didn’t agree admitted they had never examined these joints in an anaesthetised horse. The reality is that where long-term reductions in ROM are present it is, in most cases, impossible to restore normal ROM in these joints without anaesthesia. Often it requires two individuals exerting forces of up to 200 lbs of pressure to simply initiate movement. This form of treatment is referred to as ‘cervical vertebral mobilisation under anaesthetic’ CVMUA. It is a form of mobilisation therapy and is recorded in the text-book for physiotherapists Maitlands Vertebral Manipulation 6th Edition as well as being published in the veterinary literature.

It is also important to realise that you will play a significant role in the outcome. Mobilisation under saddle will always improve the chances of a positive long-term outcome, no matter which therapist or therapy you choose to employ. Standing mobilisation exercises should also assist.

It is time that people involved in this industry began adopting the correct medical terminology when discussing their horse’s ‘back’ issues. Let’s begin with ‘inflammatory pain’ (IP), ‘neuropathic pain’ (NP) and ‘range of movement’ (ROM). Mobilisation, massage and manipulative therapies, and maybe we should add another to that. ‘Mobilisation under saddle’ or MUS therapy.

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 the early 1990’s he has worked exclusively Tom in thisAhern field. - ahernvet@hotmail.com

W: www.DrTom Ahern.com P: 0423 246 144 www.drtomahern.com E: ahernvet@hotmail.com

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Absorbing the

Sitting Trot Bounce by Britta Pedersen

PERFECTING YOUR SITTING TROT: Imagine your seat bones have little feet attached under them and that your horse’s back is a trampoline. The rider exerts considerable force onto the horse’s back, equivalent to two-to-three times our body weight during the sitting phase of the trot. As you move with your horse it is your responsibility to absorb the forces emitted through your pelvis as you would with your ‘feet’ softly bouncing on your trampoline (without creating any noncontact time between you and your horses back/trampoline).

When the horse and rider move together, they are communicating in a shared language that takes elements from both the human and the equine world. In order to create harmonious movement between both horse and rider, the rider undertakes a much more complex role than it may first appear.

despise anything sitting trot related and it wasn’t until I spent the best part of a month following an intensive three-day clinic with my then-coach, Leonie Bramall, in no stirrups and posture slings to find my ‘Aha’ moment that my brain and body finally clicked into sitting trot gears!

Trust me when I say, I know what you’re going through here! I personally used to

As a starting point, it takes some serious body awareness to sit the trot. If we don’t understand the mechanics of how our bodies move on our horses, then we can’t expect it to make necessary changes.

One of the biggest rider difficulties I am asked to help with is, “How on earth do I sit the trot?”

Secondly, be prepared to put in some serious retraining work both off and on the horse. Believe me, there is light on the other side of that seemingly huge strided trot tunnel you are trying so darn hard to make look effortless up there. You just need to know where to begin. The way we sit can make it easier or much harder for our horse to carry and move under us. In order to not negatively affect movements throughout the horse’s whole body, we must be aware of how we either limit or increase the movement of the back under us via our own body positioning. We do this by managing our own dynamic balance as we follow the horse’s back with our pelvis. In order to create this type of dynamic balance we need to condition the muscles that manage all forces going through our pelvis and back. In the dressage rider, the base of support is largely due to the balancing act of the pelvis. These riders do not use the stirrup irons as a balance point, as a jumper rider would be more likely to do. Instead our seatbones are likened more to that of the feet in a track and field athlete - they are our base of support. We must then learn and be able to disassociate our base of support (pelvis/seat bones) from the rest of our body, not only to act as a shock absorber to transfer the energy created by our horse’s movement, but also to engage and apply adequate and appropriate forces of muscle generation/relaxation plus joint mobility at precisely the right time.

HERE ARE MY 4 TOP PRIORITY EXERCISES TO HELP YOU DEVELOP YOUR SITTING TROT POSTURE AND EFFICIENCY: Exercise 1. Soft bouncing on a Stability Ball. This teaches us awareness of our body in space under a similar vertical force loading pattern.

Exercise 2. Lower Abdominal Activations (Transverse Abdominals). Without correct lower core engagement the sitting trot will be impossible to remain fluid.

ABOUT BRITTA PEDERSON: Britta Pederson is a Registered Senior Physiotherapist and Performance Trainer from New Zealand (RNZPT). She has an extensive career to date, with over 13 years practical handson experience in the Musculoskeletal field. Britta holds numerous sporting, training and physiotherapy treatment certifications. She has an intense passion for sports and biomechanics, is an Internationally recognized FEI level Dressage Rider, Bikini Fitness competitor, and Freelance Health & Fitness author, making her an expert in her field. Britta has also been a competitive equestrian rider her entire life. She began at pony club, moving onto horse trials and up the grades to Advanced level. Most recently Britta switched disciplines and was training in the Grand Prix dressage arena. She has been on numerous NZ teams as both an Event and Dressage rider, in 2013 representing NZ at the Sydney CDI 3* Dressage event, where she was the highest placed female rider in both the PSG & Intermediare 1 divisions.

Exercise 3. Long Adductor Strengthening (Copenhagen Adductor Exercise).

Exercise 4. Quadricep & Hip Opening Mobility. If you are ‘hanging on’ with the front of your hips you will always be blocking the horse’s movement. Work on the concept of ‘Long & Strong’ with excellent range of motion.


raining Photo: ChristieLynPhotography.com.au


Demystifying dressage marks with Gill Botten

Gill is an EA A-Level National Dressage Judge,

General Level 1 Coach and SSTA (Judge Educator/ Skills Specific Trainer), a member of the National Dressage and Coaching Committees and the current State Chair of Coaching WA. Gill also coaches on her property, Maitland Park, Gidgegannup. “Test movements are designed to flow in specific ways, which can sometimes cause misunderstandings about why a horse hasn’t achieved the mark the rider expected for an individual movement. It’s one thing to perform a single movement and another to achieve consistently high marks throughout a test.

TIP: I do a lot of test riding with my students, de-constructing

a test to show how the elements flow into each other before reconstructing them as a whole test. As coaches and judges, the first thing we assess in any test is whether a horse’s performance matches its expected level on the classic German Training Scale that forms the basis of training. Each element depends on the next: Rhythm, Suppleness (relaxation), Contact, Impulsion, Straightness and, finally, Collection, which first appears at Elementary tests.

Story by Suzanne McGill

TIP: Impulsion: Impulsion isn’t speed, it’s contained energy that thrusts from behind into the contact and helps achieve straightness. Submission: Also commonly misunderstood, submission isn’t simply obedience or good behaviour, but is about cooperation, harmony and working in partnership with your horse. We want to see a horse answering the rider’s signals. Rider: Are we watching a happy horse working harmoniously with its rider? Does the performance reflect the training expected for the test level? Does the rider know the test, or make unforced and potentially expensive errors?


Deconstructing the Novice 2B Riding correctly and accurately helps riders TIP: Read the Test Directives, your shorthand guide to what’s maximise marks and can help compensate for a horse’s being marked for each movement. Learn where transitions will be natural paces. marked and Co-efficient marks will double a movement’s value. Preliminary and Novice tests progressively assess how the horses (and riders) have achieved rhythm, PYRAMID OF TRAINING WHEN YOU ENTER THE ARENA: suppleness and contact, which are naturally interrelated with impulsion and straightness. Get your horse thinking forward and positively by trotting or cantering around the dressage markers The judge’s Collective Marks for Impulsion, Submission before being asked to come down the centre line. and Rider marks and the judge’s comments express how Before entering at A, do a half circle off your horse’s well riders have incorporated the training expected at best rein. Doing a sharp wheelie doesn’t set up each particular level. straightness on the centre line. Paces: It helps if your horse has three natural uphill • On Entry, look UP. The judge doesn’t want paces, but, regardless, all horses need correct to see the top of your helmet or your whip riding to maximise their walk, trot and canter. in the hand you use to salute. Marks Less naturally advantaged horses can benefit count for both going in and coming significantly from accurate and well-ridden out of the halt. You have only one tests.


April May 2021 - Page 60

Novice 2B ©

De-constructing a test to show how the elements flow into each other before reconstructing them as a whole test.




Enter in working trot Halt, Salute Proceed in working trot


Track right Change rein, lengthen stride in trot Working trot Half circle left 10m

VK 3


Working trot Leg yield right


opportunity to correct an un-square halt before you sacrifice straightness. • When changing rein, be definite so the judge doesn’t have to guess which way you’re going. Anticipate the change, using the corner to set up your horse to extend its stride from the first marker on the test – not halfway across the arena. Judges aren’t looking for speed, but for longer, powerful strides in an uphill frame and the first lengthened stride having the same rhythm as the last.

TIP: Work at maintaining impulsion on half circles, with your horse around your inside leg.

• Top marks in leg yield come by maintaining your trot rhythm, staying parallel to the long side from start to finish, and asking your horse for slight flexion. A COEFFICIENT doubles the points on this movement – so worth getting it right.

5 PF 6


Working trot Change rein, lengthen stride in trot Working trot Half circle right 10m


Working trot Leg yield left


Working trot




10 11 12 13 14 15 16


Medium walk


Change rein, free walk on a long rein


Medium walk


Working trot


Working canter left lead


Working canter


Circle left 15m


Lengthen stride in canter

Between M&C CH HXF

Develop working canter Working canter Change rein


Working trot


Regularity and quality of trot; consistent tempo; alignment; balance and flow

Regularity and quality of walks; reach and ground cover of free walk allowing complete freedom to stretch the neck forward and downward into a light contact; straightness; clear, balanced transitions

Willing, clear transition; regularity and quality of trot and canter; bend in corners Willing, clear transition; regularity and quality of paces; straightness

Working canter

Willing, clear transitions; regularity and quality of canter; bend and balance in corners


Circle right 15m

Regularity and quality of canter; shape and size of circle; bend; balance

• A simple ‘walk’ can be so problematic. Scoring higher marks in medium walk requires a clear, purposeful, regular walk of moderate lengthening (23.1, page 19 in the online Rules) with a light, soft and steady contact from start to finish. Watching your horse’s ears helps predict its strides and your seat can control the pace and prevent jogging.

TIP: Check the directives in your test - ‘free’ walk expects you to allow your horse to stretch out and downward into light contact, not riding on a loose rein! You’ll get a smoother transition to medium walk by first picking up the supporting outside rein.

• Mistakes are easy in movement 10, so plan the transition from working trot to canter. It’s a short movement, so no counter canter! Correcting the wrong lead immediately can retrieve marks before P.

TIP: Size and shape matter when it comes to the 15m circle in

movement 11. Practising circles with cones at home can prevent creating triangles in tests. • You’ll get higher marks in movement 12 by maintaining

Working canter


Working trot Circle right 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward while main tain contact Shorten the reins


Working trot


Down centreline Halt, Salute


Leave arena in walk on

a long rein at A

Judges Marks (10)

Willing, clear transitions; moderate lengthening of frame and stride; regularity and quality of canter; straightness; consistent tempo;


Willing, clear, transition; regularity and quality of trot and cante r; bend in corners Willing, clear, engaged transition; regularity and quality of paces; straightness

Forward and downward stretch over the back into a light conta ct maintaining balance and quality of trot; bend; shape and size of circle; willing, clear transitions


Bend and balance in turn, and quality of trot, willing regularity , clear transition; straightnes s, attentiveness; immobility (min 3 secs)



Paces (freedom and regularity




Impulsion (desire to move forward, elasticity of the and engagement of the steps, relaxation of the hindquarters) back


Submission (willing coop eration, harmony, atten of bit and aids, straightnes tion and confidence; acceptance s, lightness of the foreh and and ease of move ments) Rider’s position and seat; correctness and effec subtlety, independence, tive use of the aids (Clar accuracy of test) ity,

Willing, clear transitions; regularity and quality of paces and bend and balance in corners Regularity and quality of canter; shape and size of circle; bend; balance Willing, clear transitions; moderate lengthening of frame and stride; regularity and quality of trot; straightness; consistent tempo;


Before B


Regularity and quality of trot; shape and size of half circle; bend; balance; straightness on centreline

Willing, clear transition; regularity and quality of walk; bend and balance in corner

Lengthen stride in cante r Develop working cante r


Moderate lengthening of frame and stride; regularity and quality of trot; willing, clear transitions; straightness; consistent tempo;

Regularity and quality of trot; consistent tempo; alignment; balance and flow






Between H&C


Regularity and quality of trot; shape and size of half circle; bend; balance; straightness on centreline

Working canter right lead

• Judges will mark fluency between the rein changes and equality on both reins in movements 6 and 7.



Bend and balance in the turns; moderate lengthening of frame and stride; regularity and quality of trot; willing, clear transitions; straightness; consistent tempo;


• Identify which rein is harder for your horse and work at making movements on both reins equal.


Regularity and quality of trot; willing clear transitions; straightness, attentiveness; immobility (min 3 secs)


• The lengthening from HP should follow the same expectations as the first lengthening.

Judges Marks (10)





and throughness and maintains a more consistent contact with the bit. Introduces: Leg yielding Instructions: To be ridden in a snaffle. All trot sitting or rising unless stated otherwise


Course Errors (Cumulative)



Penalties – Minus 2 1st -2

2nd - 4 (= 6) FINAL MARK

Minus Total Penalties 3rd Elimination


2 2


Minus Total Faults


Reproduced with perm ission of USDF © 201 9 United States Dres United States Equestr sage Federation (USD ian Federation (USE F) (4051 F). All rights reserved is responsible for any . Reproduction with errors or omissions out permissi in the publication or for the use of its copy right

straightness from marker to marker without being earthbound or fading. If your horse’s quarters are drifting, use shoulder-fore to bring them back onto the track. • To maximise transition points going from M-C, use your corner to create the working canter. • Judges expect a smooth downward transition at X to maintain the balance and straightness that helps keep your horse off its forehand.

TIP: Make sure your horse is around your inside leg before the transition at F.

• Practice to keep your canter work equal on both reins in movements 16, 17 and 18. • Ride this lengthening as you did earlier, cantering on the other rein. • Using the corner in movement 19 will help to balance your horse as you prepare transitioning to working trot. • Judges will be marking for a clear and well-prepared transition.


The stretch-down circle in movement 20 is your last chance to double points with a coefficient. Ease the reins till your horse’s nose is level with its shoulder and keep moving forward throughout the circle. Using the outside rein first is a subtle way to start retaking the reins. • Your re-entry leaves your final impression, so ride positively and accurately. Establish your halt, salute and don’t be overexuberant in praising your horse too early. And…. leave arena with a smile!” April May 2021 - Page 61



University of Melbourne researchers are undertaking a survey of horse owners to better understand their management of Equine Cushing’s disease - pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID). A common condition in older horses and ponies, PPID is linked to a range of problems including laminitis, weight loss and a long curly coat, plus various other signs. The short online survey is designed for horse owners to better understand how they manage horses or ponies with PPID, and what the important factors are for them including: the ability to feed separately and cost of medications. Melbourne Veterinary School survey lead, Dr Nicolas Galinelli said, “We need to get a broader sense of what is working for horse owners so that we can improve health outcomes for these animals both in terms of the early recognition of PPID signs and in the way we determine the most appropriate treatment, management and nutrition.” Veterinary Pharmacology expert, Professor Simon Bailey added that the survey will ask owners about what factors are important for them in treating PPID, including the cost and side-effects of medications and the ability for horses to be fed separately. The survey is open until 1st June 2021 and can be found by googling Melbourne University Cushings survey.


Following the discovery of a new strain of the deadly hendra virus Equine vets are urging horse breeders and owners to vaccinate their horses against Hendra virus. Australian researchers reported that they have linked the new strain found in a flying fox in Adelaide to a previously unexplained death of a horse in an undisclosed area of Australia in 2015. Veterinary scientist with the Australian Veterinary Association [AVA] Peter Reid said that breeds of flying foxes that had not been known to transmit Hendra virus in the past could be carrying the new strain in areas previously deemed as low risk. These areas include parts of New South Wales, Victoria and southern Australia, where grey-headed flying foxes are found. Dr Reid said the new variant was uncovered after the development of a new test and had not been detected previously by routine biosecurity testing in horses. Dr Reid said the strain had “minimal different characteristics to traditional Hendra at this stage” but was equally as lethal. First recorded in Australia in 1994, Hendra virus can infect both humans and horses and has a recorded mortality rate for of approximately 79 per cent for horses and 60 per cent for humans who contract it. It is known to have killed more than 100 horses and four people since its discovery. April May 2021 - Page 62

Following the challenging last year faced by all at Equestrian Australia (EA) it has been announced that the Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) has been fully effectuated and EA has now exited the Voluntary Administration process. Craig Shepard and Kate Conneely from KordaMentha, who were appointed as Voluntary Administrators in June 2020, have finalised all conditions of the DOCA and have handed back control of the organisation effective from the 11th Feb 2021. The new EA Board, who were appointed in October 2020, but were unable to formally act until the end of the DOCA, now have the authority to govern the sport and lead it forward. Mark Bradley, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Equestrian Australia commented: “In my short time as Chairman of the new EA Board I have been impressed by the dedication, passion and resilience shown by the Australian equestrian community during this very difficult period; especially the management and staff of EA. This leaves me with no doubt that we can all work together in the best interest of the sport to build a better future for Equestrian Australia. “Whilst we are aware that the Voluntary Administration process was not a choice made by the wider membership and came at significant expense, both financially and also in terms of our reputation, the new EA Board are committed to guiding EA into the next chapter based on transparency, open communication and inclusivity.” The process to rebuild EA to best deliver services to all members and stakeholders will be a large undertaking, and the immediate priorities for the new EA Board include: 1. Managing the smooth transition out of Voluntary Administration. 2. Ensuring the financial stability of EA including securing the reinstatement of core funding from Sport Australia. 3. Appointment of a new permanent CEO of EA. 4. Understanding the needs of the membership and identifying the optimum structure and resources required to deliver services efficiently. 5. Re-establish positive working relationships with our key external stakeholders including Sport Australia, FEI, Australian Olympic Committee and Paralympics Australia. 6. Review and update as required the EA strategic plan to ensure it is representative of the current and future needs of the sport. 7. Complete the process of governance reform that began during the VA process. 8. Providing a fair, transparent and consistent framework for resolving complaints and disputes in our sport. 9. Supporting the EA High Performance Panel and AIS as they help prepare our elite athletes to represent our country in Tokyo and beyond. Mark Bradley looks forward with optimism and confidence that the new Board and management of EA is well positioned to work collaboratively with all EA members, the State Boards, National Discipline and Coaching Committees to deliver great outcomes for the Australian equestrian sport community.

Researchers have studied the long-term effects of unnatural feeding positions for horses, reporting that the practice deserves more attention. Using six healthy Warmbloods for their study, they were recorded eating from three different feeding positions: On the ground (the control position); with their neck held about 15 degrees below withers height (the low hay net position); and with their neck held about 15 degrees above withers height (the high hay net position). Federica Raspa and her fellow researchers noted the frequent use of hay nets, and explored the effects of hay nets at two different heights on the angles of the back, neck and jaw of horses. Their findings suggest that more attention should be paid when horses keep an unnatural feeding position with hay nets, since the back and neck postures as well as the jaw angle, can be altered.

Isabell Werth


Bates Saddles has announced two exciting official partnerships in February and March - one with British Eventing and the other with the German Equestrian Federation (FN). Bates Saddles have created quality products since 1934, with a wealth of research and innovation behind their designs that focus on horse and rider comfort. “British Eventing’s passion for the welfare of our horses is one we share, having pioneered saddle technologies aimed to ensure their comfort, allowing every horse and rider to perform at their best,” said Ron Bates, Managing Director Bates Saddles. As a saddlery company, Bates Saddles has long been focused on education – not only through their research and development, but in sharing what they know with as many equestrians as possible for the good of horses world-wide.

TRUCK FRIGHTENS HORSE IN CART FOUR TAKEN TO HOSPITAL Two teenagers were injured when they were thrown out of a horse drawn wagon at the 13th annual Truck Show at Lockhart Showgrounds, NSW. A woman in her 20s was run over and a male in his 60s were also injured when the owner stepped from the cart to adjust the horse’s gear and a Mack truck then started nearby and the sound of an air compressor frightened the horse, prompting it to bolt. The four people with injuries were transported to Wagga Wagga Hospital in a stable condition after being treated at the scene by a nurse of 40 years from Lockhart Hospital and an off duty paramedic, who were first to render assistance on scene. The organisers stated that everyone was very lucky to have escaped relatively unharmed, but it certainly gave everyone a fright. It is a reminder to those involved with horses to be safety conscious at all times and beware of trucks that make loud hissing noises.

“Since only a few degrees of variation of the feeding position can influence back and neck postures,” the study team said, “the right compromise between horse welfare, horse safety, and management practices need to be further explored and long-term effects should be investigated.” The use of the hay net in both positions resulted in a jaw angle that was significantly different to that required when horses were fed on the ground. More research was proposed to identify the height which allows the most natural overall posture. “The foundations of our partnership with the German Equestrian Federation lies in a shared passion for the welfare of our horses and building strong networks for furthering our communal understanding for their benefit. When saddle design puts our horses first, we optimise the performance of every horse and rider,” said Ron Bates. Bates Saddles will be offering specialist saddle advice and support, providing educational content though seminars and webinars, and supporting the annual Preis der Besten competition with honorary prizes and the Harmony award. A saddle brand of champions, for over 30 years Bates Saddles have been proudly working with World Dressage Champion, Isabell Werth, developing four different dressage saddles together, including the model she rides in today – the Bates Isabell. “Our friendship with Isabell Werth is likely one of the most longstanding and successful commercial partnerships world-wide. Together, our shared ideas and innovations have seen a continual advance in the performance riders can expect from their saddle when competing at the highest level.” “With Bates Saddles we have a new, very experienced partner at our side. A correctly balanced saddle is the basis for horse-friendly and successful equestrian sport. Therefore, I am very pleased that in the future not only our DOKR training centre and national team riders will be able to benefit from Bates Saddles expertise, but also our personal members,” said FN General Secretary, Soenke Lauterbach. You can find out more about Bates Saddles and this exciting new partnership at batessaddles.com


Gavin Kelly, a Tasmanian harness racing trainer and driver, is appealing against a steward’s ruling and a $1,000 for not carrying a whip at a race meet in December 2020. He stated he had never used a whip while racing a horse he had trained himself and that he was told it was on safety grounds that he would have to carry one. Tasmania’s Office of Racing Integrity acting director Tony Latham, supported the steward’s ruling. “The reason why the whip is there — and he doesn’t have to hold it, he could have put it in his sulky — just in case something happens to the horse, if it starts moving out or a safety issue, he’s got that whip on hand and he can use it to direct the horse for safety reasons.” RSPCA Tasmania chief executive Jan Davis said “Racing Victoria has already adopted a period of racing without whips, and Harness Racing Australia has also put it on their agenda. The science that we have now shows that putting whips on horses actually doesn’t improve their performance and may actually harm the way in which they race into their future.” April May 2021 - Page 63

The high hay net position used in the study. Photo: Raspa et al. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030763



The FEI have imposed an additional twoweek extension of the shutdown of all international events in mainland Europe until 11 April 2021 due to the ongoing outbreak of the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1). The FEI had previously announced a 28-day shutdown on 1 March 2021. The move aims to minimise the further spread of the very aggressive strain of the virus. The extended lockdown applies to all FEI disciplines. The decision, which is based on scientific evidence from world leading epidemiologist Dr Richard Newton and a full risk assessment by the FEI Veterinary Department, will mean the cancellation of

the FEI World Cup™ Finals for the second consecutive year following the loss of the 2020 Finals in Las Vegas (USA) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final and the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final were scheduled to be held in Gothenburg (SWE) from 31 March to 4 April 2021. The extended lockdown applies to all countries that have international scheduled events in the period to 11 April – Austria, Belgium, Spain, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden. However, the FEI again strongly recommends that all National Federations in mainland Europe cancel their national events in order to minimise horse movement. Equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) neurological form has already caused the death of 17 horses in


While this occurred a few years ago it was interesting to see how well it turned out for horse and rider. The event was an International Three Day Event in Germany. The horse was a great jumper and never had a refusal, but on the crosscountry course he was difficult to slow down and rebalance between jumps. The bridle-less ride was not a voluntary one. At the first element of the water jump, which they entered too fast, the impact force of the water removed the horse’s bridle. Bridle-less, the horse cantered through the water, jumping the second vertical. As there was only a left turn toward a combination and a straight line until the finish line the rider opted to complete the course. Applying pressure on the horse’s neck achieved the left turn and they headed for the combination, which started with a jump over a bank, then a bounce over a vertical, followed by one stride on the bank and finished with a drop from the bank and a bounce over the last vertical. After negotiating the combination perfectly well they cantered full speed toward the finish line ... and then kept cantering. Team-mates succeeded in blocking their path and had the horse cantering in circles, but he showed no signs of slowing down and there was a time limit on riders presenting themselves and their saddle to achieve the weight regulation that was in place for the three-day event. When it appeared the horse would continue to canter past the time limit the rider decided to jump off, hoping to run beside the horse and undo the saddle. As soon as the horse felt his rider jump off he slowed to a walk, so the saddle was whipped off, rider and saddle raced to the weigh-in, arriving with seconds to spare. As luck would have it there were no regulations about finishing the course with a bridle, only that the horse had to canter over the finish line and have a saddle on... so their performance was valid.

April May 2021 - Page 64

Europe. It is a virus of the family Herpesviridae that causes respiratory disease, neurological disease and abortion in pregnant mares. Young foals are also at risk and can die from the infection. Recovery rates from Equine Herpes Virus are variable. It depends on the severity of the clinical signs and whether the horse has suffered secondary infections. Initial spread of EHV-1 by a newly introduced horse through direct and indirect contact can lead to abortion and perinatal infection in up to 70 percent of a previously unexposed herd.


Australian Grand Prix rider Gitte Donvig made an inspiring return to competition at the Hiform Autumn Dressage Championships at Boneo Park in March. Gitte suffered a severe head trauma after a fall from a young horse she was working at her training base Ellanbrae Park in Macedon, Victoria in October 2019. In a social media post after the Championships Gitte’s ‘gratitude post’ highlighted her fourth place in the Prix St George on the first day of competition, which was conducted in very challenging conditions with torrential rain, and her second place with Harmonie W in the Prix St George on the Sunday. “So it was not an amazing test. I’m not where I want to be yet. But hell it feels good to be heading in the right direction.”

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