could save your horse from serious injury.
*An online survey of equestrian headcollar use and safety by D.J. Marlin, J.M. Williams and K.J. Pickles has been published in Equine Veterinary Education.
Dear readers, It gives us great pleasure to welcome you to this, our very first digital edition of HQ. We hope you are going to enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together. We have so many exciting treats in store for you over the next few months – this really is just the beginning! For the print lovers amongst you who are panicking that this marks the end of HQ in print, fear not. Print editions will continue quarterly, with the first one hitting the shelves on the 1st of September. And then, as if this wasn’t enough, HQ Pony is BACK. Check it out, and let us know what you think. We are having LOTS of fun with this title and hope you and your kids will too! But enough news – dive into this edition and enjoy! We have some great content for you (if we do say so ourselves) and some fantastic articles from our contributors. Finally, we also wish to extend a huge thank you to all of our advertisers, who are allowing us, through their support, to make this magazine FREE for each and every equestrian. We are grateful for their passion and commitment to growing and developing the South African equestrian scene, one little bit at a time. Here’s to lots of excitement over the coming months! Happy horsing! With much love,
Lizzie and xxx the HQ team Dr Lizzie Harrison | Editor
ON THE COVER: Burberry is an Oldenburg, owned by Marisa Cetinich Venter. His sire is Bordeaux which is by United out of a Gribaldi dam. His dam is Fantastica which is by Florestan I out of a Rosenkavalier dam. In short, Burberry is by Bordeaux out of a Florestan I dam!
DIGITAL ISSUE 155A | 2021
IN THIS ISSUE 06 Catching up with Nicole Horwood
14 Breeding Magic Callaho’s Online Auction | Winter Collection
18 Ashlee Healy and Hausberger’s Eldo Winners of the Puresan Stokkiesdraai 1.50m
World Cup Qualifier
24 Ready for take-off Get your distances right
28 Shoulder-fore for suppling
30 The wonders of circles
50 Leg and hoof care An overview
54 Grooming gremlins Horses that have an aversion to grooming
58 Just a spoonful of sugar Helps the medicine go down…
62 Ten top tips from stable managers
64 Wobbler’s Syndrome A summary
66 Box rest Not the break it’s cracked up to be
32 Neck straps 70 Q&A 36 Why horses are so in tune with human emotion
77 HQ Video Cupidor’s Story
40 The causes of saddle slip The role of the seat
78 Products we love
46 The Trakehner
84 Next issue
HORSE AND RIDER
Nicole and the magnificent Capital Look at me.
PHOTOGRAPHY: HILARY O’LEARY
CATCHING UP WITH
HORSE AND RIDER
Nicole and Capital Chantilly.
was fortunate enough to catch up with Nicole Horwood, one of the very best showjumpers South Africa has produced. Her list of achievements is remarkable: four-time SA Derby winner; winner of the Triple Crown (the only horse and rider combination to ever have won all three titles in the same year); two time SA Champs winner; three-time Outdoor Grand Prix winner; 2020 President’s Cup winner; and finally a World Cup Series winner. With this list of accolades, one wouldn’t believe that there was much more for Nicole to achieve, yet it seems that with her current horses and almighty determination to succeed, this list may just be the beginning.
HQ: It’s been quite the year competition-wise for you, and there is so much we could talk about. Today, however, we have to ask about Capital Chantilly’s success at Easter Festival. The jumpoff really was something to behold! What were your thoughts going into the arena? Did you know you were in with a good chance? Nicole: Chantilly is very fast in a jump-off so I knew if I just kept a good rhythm and didn’t break her stride, she would be in with a good chance. I was near the beginning of the jump-off and knew there were very fast horses still to come. Fortunately, she is very economical over the jumps as well as careful, so in a big
HORSE AND RIDER Nicole jumping Capital Don Cumarco in the Avis South African Derby.
ON THE ONE-AND-ONLY CAPITAL DON CUMARCO
HQ: Of all your competition successes, with all of your horses, which one meant the most to you? Nicole: I think that would still have to be my very first Derby win. It was totally unexpected as it was my first and Capital Don Cumarco’s first attempt. I didn’t know what to expect. I was extremely anxious and overwhelmed on the day. I would have been happy just to see the finish, so my shock when I won was very evident… HQ: We were hoping you might mention Capital Don Cumarco. How is he spending his retirement? Have you been able to go and visit him? Nicole: Capital Don Cumarco is happily retired at Summerhill. I have been to visit him. He truly is having the heavenly retirement he so well deserves. He is still enjoying the spotlight and is often seen in wedding pictures, being the handsome unicorn he is. HQ: The retirement ceremony was incredibly emotional for everyone watching. How did you feel? Proud? Sad? Or a mixture of everything? Nicole: I was extremely emotional. It was an end of an era for me. He put me on the map, and I wasn’t sure what my riding would be without him. I knew there was no way I could speak, and Aiden (Lithgow) did a wonderful job of delivering both Henning’s (Henning Pretorius, the owner of Capital Stud) and my speeches. Obviously, we were both extremely proud to be part of his journey from a foal in Belgium chosen by Henning in a field in the middle of the night, to at the age of 18 retiring having broken many records and achieved so many accolades.
arena like the Bob Charter, I knew if I could get a good gallop from the start with tight turns, she would do well. HQ: And we have to mention your success with her at SA Champs. Can you talk us through that? Nicole: SA Champs is always a tough competition. Jumping two full rounds in itself is very challenging and then asking them to jump off against the clock can be very demanding on the horses. Our partnership was relatively new at that stage, and I had never really pushed her on time. Again there were very strong horses to follow me in the jump-off, so I knew I had to set a good pace. I think she won it on one particular turn after jump number 2. She even surprised me by how quickly she landed and turned - it felt like she did a wheel spin. HQ: Please tell us a bit about Capital Chantilly? Is it quite different riding a mare after all of your stallions? Nicole: Chantilly is such a kind and giving mare. I am so used to working with stallions, and it’s wonderful to work with such a gentle soul. She is a true soldier and fights with you in the ring every step of the way. HQ: And how is our particular favourite, your other primary competitive horse at the moment, Capital Hitoshi? Nicole: Hitoshi is on such form lately. He gives me so much confidence. I truly feel when I’m on him that I can jump any track no matter how big. He is extremely brave and will try anything I ask of him. He is also particularly fast in a jump-off, and he loves to gallop. HQ: Do you have any exciting youngsters coming up through the ranks? Nicole: I have two lovely youngsters: Capital Impossible, a Verdi stallion competing in the 1m20 classes and Capital Night Star, a horse Natalie and Ross Robertson bought off the auction for me to produce. I think they both have big futures. HQ: When it comes to producing a youngster to an international Grand Prix horse, what are you looking for? Is there a common theme amongst the horses? Or is it just a feeling? Nicole: There are a few things that are common in most of the horses I have produced to the top level. Firstly their attitude - they need to love what they do, you need their buy-in. Secondly, they need scope and, thirdly, balance. With these three attributes, you are very likely to get to GP level.
HORSE AND RIDER
Henning Pretorius, Nicole Horwood and Don Cumarco.
HORSE AND RIDER
HQ: Do you have to learn to ride each horse differently? How do you manage to be so successful on all of them? Nicole: Each horse is different and needs to be ridden differently. It’s about finding what works best for the horses as individuals. I think consistency is key and having a plan for each individual horse to enable them to perform at their best. I don’t believe in winning every class I enter. I like to save the best for the final day and make sure the tank is full and that they peak at the correct time. HQ: And then we have to ask – how on earth do you fit it all in? Working full-time, a family, the horses, the shows… Do you ever sleep? Nicole: No, I don’t get much sleep, and it is extremely challenging to find the right balance. However, when you are passionate about something, that in itself motivates you to keep going, however tough it gets. I am fortunate enough to have the most amazing support team surrounding me, and that’s my recipe for success. They all have my back, from my sponsors to my family, to my coach, and of course, the unwavering support of Capital Stud. HQ: What is your secret hack for motivation? What keeps you going? Nicole: My motivation is the horses. They are my happy place.
When I’m stressed, they de-stress me. Riding them in the morning before I start my day sets the tone for me to cope with all the pressures of such a busy schedule. Succeeding in the ring is also what motivates me to keep going as well as producing horses to the top level. I find it all so rewarding. HQ: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given when it comes to horses? Nicole: Hard work pays off. One of my favourite sayings is, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t show up.” This is so true in every sport at the top level. Having a plan and sticking to it, and always seeing the bigger picture is vital. You need short term goals but a long term plan. HQ: What piece of advice would you like to impart to young, up and coming riders in the sport? Nicole: It’s all about the horse! Get to know your horse, spend time with your horse, and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Reward your horse and most importantly learn to communicate with them. Work hard, be consistent, watch and learn from the more experienced riders. And then, learn from your mistakes - accept them - but move on. It’s a tough sport, so the journey will be hard. There are no shortcuts and many sacrifices along the way, but it is all worth it in the end.
HORSE AND RIDER
HQ: What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your career? Nicole: I wish I had known to communicate better with the horses and to take our egos out of the equation. Horses don’t deliberately do things wrong most of the time; it’s just miscommunication. I also wish I’d realised that it’s okay to make mistakes and most of all that we should just have fun - after all that’s supposed to be why we ride. HQ: Who are your role models and biggest influences? Nicole: My biggest influence is definitely my coach Gonda Betrix. She has coached me for over 30 years. She taught me the importance of schooling and that the little things matter. My role models are Beezie Madden and Marcus Ehning. Marcus Ehning is a true master. I love watching him. He makes it all look so easy. HQ: And then, going forwards, what are your plans for the rest of the year? Can we expect to see you (all being well) at all the big shows?
Nicole: I would like to compete in all the World Cup Series' as well as the two SA titles (Derby and SA Champs). I’m also looking forward to producing and competing with all the younger horses at the local shows. HQ: Thank you so much, Nicole, for taking the time to answer our questions and keep us updated on your progress. It really is wonderful to witness you and your magnificent horses go from strength to strength. Nicole: No, thank you for the opportunity, and I’d also like to extend a special thanks to my support team: Capital Stud for the incredible horsepower, Mark White Nissan for their unwavering support over the years, Western Shoppe for many years of gearing me up so smartly, Gonda Betrix my coach, Elikana Mvula my right-hand man, and Lynda Kirchmann, our yard manager. Every one of these has played such an important role in my journey!
PHOTOGRAPHY: MERLYNN TRICHARDT
It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela
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BREEDING MAGIC CALLAHO’S ONLINE AUCTION
he story of Callaho’s remarkable sale can certainly be told through records and eye-catching statistics. But no list of results, however impressive, could capture the energy and atmosphere created by this innovative auction. Glued to their screens, bidders and spectators were transfixed by endless lot extensions as prices soared and top-quality sport horses found new homes. It was exciting to observe the determination with which bidders fought for their horses of choice, and wonderful to
think that these young horses will soon be top performers on the South African equestrian circuit. 21 horses went under the ‘virtual’ hammer, and the consistent Callaho-quality on offer saw high prices across the board. The sale enjoyed a perfect sell-through rate: every one of the 21 lots found buyers. The confidence of the equestrian community in Callaho’s brand was made clear, and punters were certainly keen to invest in Callaho’s renowned bloodlines.
Callaho Vasco du Ayenne (Victory for Ever/Baloubet Du Rouet/Contendro I)
Callaho L’Ormarin (Lissabon/ Dageraad/ E-Pilot)
Callaho Larido (Larison/ Quidam De Revel/Pilot)
Callaho Sambuca (Sampras/ Lissabon/ Ramiro Z)
Ever/Baloubet Du Rouet/Contendro I) ended at R640 000. The depth of this gelding’s performance dam-line underscores his remarkable potential. Described by Callaho as being ‘equipped to become a very serious contender at the highest levels of the showjumping sport’, it comes as no surprise that he drew such attention. Ronnie Healy of RH Equestrian was the winning bidder, and with this supremely experienced top open South African showjumper on board, we can expect to see Callaho Vasco du Ayenne in the top grades in no time at all. Ronnie’s wife, Ashlee Healy, also of RH Equestrian was not to be outdone. She selected the impeccably bred Callaho Larido (Larison/Quidam De Revel/Pilot), who promises to take the local showjumping circuit by storm. He was always going to tempt those at the top of the game. A grandson of Piquette – the international jumper and producer of the serial-winner Callaho Lansink (10 times SA national Open Champion Showjumper with Ray Korber) – he achieved the deservedly high price of R640,000. It will be exciting to see this gelding soar up the grades with Ashlee, and fun to watch the husband and wife team battle it out with their two new competitors. With Ashlee having recently won the Puresan Stokkiesdraai World Cup Qualifier, just a few months after giving birth to her beautiful son, we just know Callaho Larido has found a home fitting of his endless potential. THE NUMBERS
Callaho L’Ormarin (Lissabon/Dageraad/E-Pilot) set the tone for the entire auction as the opening horse, selling for an impressive R730 000. With talent to spare, the gelding demonstrates Callaho’s breeding experience and will undoubtedly light up the South African show jumping circuit in the near future. Bidding on the arresting Callaho Vasco du Ayenne (Victory For
AVERAGE PRICE PER RIDING HORSE 2021
AVERAGE PRICE PER RIDING HORSE 2020
REPEAT CALLAHO BUYERS
NEW CALLAHO BUYERS
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS SHOW?
Callaho Labyrinth (Lissabon/ Weltmeyer/ Bumerang)
• Encouragingly the price for a riding horse is considerably higher than last year, showing that the faith in Callaho’s ‘breeding magic’ is on an upwards trajectory! • 70% of buyers were brand new, expanding the reach of Callaho’s family even further. • 30% of buyers couldn’t resist purchasing their second, third or fourth Callaho partner. • 79% of those who attended try-outs purchased a horse on the auction. Ultimately, once you’ve ridden a Callaho, it’s hard to walk away!
Callaho Benito (Benicio/His Highness/ Landstallmeister)
Callaho Lisca (Lissabon/ Stakkato/ Caletto I)
Callaho Tel Aviv (Tolano Van’t Riethof/Clinton/ Cassini I)
Callaho Sambuca (Sampras/Lissabon/Ramiro Z), the striking son of Sampras, was also expected to turn heads: he didn’t disappoint, selling for R620 000. Two of his forebears, Sha Rukh Khan and Sigmund, have been performing strongly under Chris van der Merwe and Lara Neill respectively. His price tag recognises the rarity of Sampras offspring and their eagerness for high-grade jumping.
From a dressage perspective, Callaho Labyrinth (Lissabon/ Weltmeyer/Bumerang) and Callaho Benito (Benicio/His Highness/ Landstallmeister) will be dancing their way to the top with their new riders. Labyrinth, directly descended from three generations of Hanoverian State Premium mares, and with movement to die for, reached R330 000, while Benito, with his extravagant paces and passion for his work, made R370,000.
Callaho Ulhana du Cella (Ulhan Du Temple/ Con Coriano/ Silvio I)
THE PROFESSIONAL’S CHOICE
Callaho Siguine (Sampras/Olala De Buissy/Veloce De Fave AA)
Testament to the potential of the Callaho horses, many of the lots were snapped up by professional riders. Professionals know quality and talent when they see it, and finding their next champion at the Callaho auctions has become the norm. As already mentioned, RH Equestrian took home two of the top horses for themselves, and then their client Kirsty Brimacombe purchased Callaho Foreign Affair. The Goetsch family purchased Callaho Tel Aviv and Callaho Lisca for their top showjumper Chatan Hendricks, who has been a regular feature in the tickets of the open classes for several years now. Then, Kirstin Winn, a well-known eventer and showjumper at this highest levels, purchased Callaho Ulhana du Cella. Kirstin knows talent in young horses when she sees it and this is certain to be an exciting pairing to watch. Liam Stevens’ purchase of Callaho Siguine, a super-talented mare, is also worth noting. Callaho’s passion for breeding the best athletes allows for new, promising bloodlines such as the Anglo-Arab bloodlines carried by Siguine, to be introduced. For Liam’s professional eye to pick out the potential of this special mare shows just how Callaho’s breeding programme is evolving and constantly offering new opportunities for top riders. The Anglo-Arab influence in Callaho Siguine is certain to bring in the stamina, blood and natural agility of this breed. With the relatively modest price in mind, this mare promises to prove a star buy!
NOT OVER YET
Those who missed out on the Callaho breeding magic in the Winter Collection won’t have long to wait for another chance. Callaho’s Summer Collection will be presented in October and sold again on their innovative online bidding platform. With such strong demand for top quality warmblood sport horses, the Summer Collection auction promises to be another highlight in the equestrian calendar.
The Callaho team goes from strength to strength, and we wish to congratulate them on their achievements. Finally, we would like to wish all new buyers great joy and success with their new mounts. There can be little doubt that the South African equestrian scene gained some real talent over the course of these two days, and we hope to see the new owners and their rides in the ring soon.
PHOTOGRAPHY: DENFORD STUDIOS
ASHLEE HEALY AND HAUSBERGER’S ELDO WINNERS OF THE PURESAN STOKKIESDRAAI 1.50M WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
e couldn’t let this issue go live without mentioning the remarkable scenes from last weekend, with Ashlee Healy and Hausberger’s Eldo performing what has to be one of the best jump-offs of the last few years. Ashlee Healy is a familiar face in the open classes but has not had a big win with her horses since 2010, where she won the SA Outdoor Grand Prix and SA Champs in 2010 with Quinsey. Yesterday, however, Hausberger’s Eldo set out to change all of that. IN ASHLEE’S WORDS ‘Eldo will never win against the clock if I take the same track as the other competitors. He spends a long time in the air, and his
When I took him into the warm-up, I knew he was ready. He felt unbelievable. I said to Ronnie before I went into the class that Eldo wanted to win. I knew that with him feeling as he was, all I needed to do was focus, and he’d do the rest. canter is so deliberate. This means that I’ve always struggled with time faults. During my pregnancy Ronnie (Healy, Ashlee’s husband) has improved Eldo’s rhythm a lot. Through his work with Dominey (Alexander) he’s made him a lot quicker off his feet.
if I’m honest…Eldo has always jumped to the right, and it’s something we continue to work on in our schooling. However, in this instance, it really served me as he took the turn across the oxer, fell right and then landed on a decent line into the combination. My partnership with him is such that I know he can do it. I let him take the line and sat still to let him do his job. I could hear everyone in the lapa cheering and shouting. It was so exciting to have all the crowds there.’ ABOUT ELDO
Ash gave birth to Tommy in February 2021. Within four weeks she was back on her horses and desperate to get competing again! She was supposed to be waiting to get on Eldo until the Shongweni WCQ in a few weeks’ time, but after 6 weeks realised she couldn’t wait any longer and got back on. She had her first lesson with Dominey just before the Reonet WCQ and they both decided that Eldo was ready to jump the big classes with her again. Tommy was there to celebrate with Ashlee on the podium yesterday! Regardless, I still know that I have to do something a bit special to stand a chance in a jump off. It might be that I need to drop strides – which is easy for Eldo as he has such a massive canter – or it might be that I need to take tighter turns - with Eldo’s scope, I can take him at an angle into an oxer, as whilst the jump will be wider it won’t phase him. This allows me to play around a lot with the jump-off track, which is what I had to do yesterday.’ ‘Walking the course yesterday, both Ronnie and Dominey told me that I had to take the first inside turn from the Peter Morrison jump. My next inside turn was slightly less intentional,
Hausberger’s Eldo (Eldorado Van De Zeshoek x Sambucco x Voltaire) has recently turned 12 years old. The stallion has been with Ashlee since he was eight years old. She bought him from Diane Botes in Port Elizabeth as a 1.30 jumper. Diane had imported him from Nijhof Stud at the age of three. In terms of his personality, Eldo is a well-behaved stallion despite being cheeky in the stable. Ash say, 'He knows he is one of the champions in the barn and makes sure everyone else is aware of it too. He doesn’t want you to faff with him or groom him, and the only person he is happy to have in his stable is his groom Shepherd.' Under saddle, Ash says, ‘He is phenomenal. He can be a bit bullish in his temperament. He is strong and powerful and will use this against you, but it’s ultimately because he wants to get it right. There’s a lot we work on daily in his schooling, as he has a few bad habits that we need to iron out, but generally speaking, he’s wonderful.’ She goes on to say, ‘Ronnie is the tough guy with him. Ron tells me that I let him get away with too much, and maybe it’s true, but I’m quite happy to let him have his quirks because then he goes and performs like this’. CONGRATULATIONS
All that remains is for us to congratulate Ashlee on her success with Eldo and to wish her well for the Shongweni WCQ taking place later this month. We hope to see Ash (and Tommy) on the podium again soon! THANKS
Ash would like to thank Discovery Bank who sponsor Eldo and herself, along with AAN who provide all his supplements (AAN HA Flex and Repair, AAN Glutamine and AAN Ultra Calm) and HH Feeds, who provide his food. Eldo then has his vet Baker McVeigh, his physio Marilise DeBeer (who practices Equine Transeva Technique) and Jan Still to keep him in top shape. Dominey has taught Ashlee since she was 18 and she would like to thank him for all of his support. And then, last, but by no means least, she wishes to thank Ronnie, her husband, for helping to get Eldo to this point and for supporting her in all she does.
PROFESSIONAL EQUESTRIAN EYEWEAR AVAILABLE AT THE DELUX COLLECTION HQ|155A
When truly engaged the horse uses his hind end and core to enable longitudinal flexion of the spine. This serves to 'build a bridge' under the rider, which optimally coordinates and gives power and strength to the horse's movement.
In this situation the horse does not demonstrate any longitudinal flexion and the natural hollowing reflex comes to the fore, due to the added burden of the rider's weight. The back drops and the haunches become disengaged.
The hollowing of the spine is often disguised by 'making' the horse 'round' in front, but the haunches remain disengaged (and 'out behind'), and there is little to no transmission of power and support from behind.
The postures shown in Images 2 and 3 are damaging to the horse over time and will never lead to true collection. Horses ridden in this way are predisposed to developing kissing spine, and other musculoskeletal disorders due to the strain placed on their bodies. 22
HORSE AND RIDER
PHOTOGRAPHY: MERLYNN TRICHARDT
READY FOR TAKE OFF
GET YOUR DISTANCES RIGHT
howjumpers commonly talk about ‘seeing’ distances when jumping. The problem with this approach is that it only deals with what happens in the immediate vicinity of the jump, and if you struggle to ‘see’ the distance you can find yourself in a flat panic on top of the fence. Much more important than the take-off stride itself is actually the strides that come before it, through the corner and from the landing of the previous jump. After all, as many have said before, jumping is just flatwork with some obstacles in the way. There are two key elements that affect the take-off spot and thus the ‘seeing of distances’. These are the quality of the gait with which you approach the fence, and secondly, the track that you take to the fence. Here we examine both and give you an exercise to work on, which will help make ‘seeing your distances’ much less nerve-wracking.
The quality of the canter is defined by two main components: rhythm and balance. Balance is created through the use of half-halts, regardless of the speed of the canter. Horses naturally carry 60% of their weight on their forehand and 40% on the hind end. It is our job as riders to shift the additional 20% on the front legs towards the hindlegs to try and reverse this balance. The way we do this is predominantly through the use of well-timed half-halts. A half-halt serves as a check, rebalancing the weight of the horse and in effect, tipping the weight back where it needs to be. Balance of the canter also, of course, has an effect on the rhythm of the canter: a horse that has more weight on the forehand will gain momentum and become faster and faster through no fault of his own. However, the two components
HORSE AND RIDER
are still separate and must be considered as different entities with some cross-influence. The rhythm you choose depends on the horse, jump height and questions being asked on the course. For example, the rhythm for a smaller course will be slower than the one used for a bigger course. Horses or ponies that are less athletic are also likely to need slightly faster rhythms to jump the same sized course as a more athletic horse. THE TRACK
As mentioned in the introduction, the other element of creating the take-off stride is the route to the fence. Taking the route that allows you to give your horse the straightest approach is always going to be optimal and you want to be heading for the middle of the jump each time. In a jump-off that is tight for time this is obviously a little unrealistic, but while you get your ‘eye in’ and learn about distances, it is a good idea to ‘set yourself up for success’ by taking a clean line into the fence. THE EXERCISE
A great low-impact way of practicing the concepts of the approach is to set up two poles or small jumps in a bending line with 20 metres from centre-to-centre. Once you have warmed up, use an energetic rhythm to canter through the bending line, finding the track that perpendicularly intersects each pole at the centre, counting your strides. The number of strides you just did in the line is what you should use as your ‘original number’. Your next goal will be to do your original number plus one stride. Evaluate your track and quality of canter from the first time your rode the line and think critically about which you
will change in order to successfully add a stride. If you were very careful in your track, you likely won’t have much to change except a slower rhythm with more balancing half-halts. The next task is to do your original number minus one stride. This can be done by riding each pole at an angle, eliminating the stride in the middle of the line previously used to turn. Rhythm can be adjusted by speeding up the canter and increasing the length of stride, while a few welltimed balancing half-halts will ensure your horse is not barreling along on the forehand and pulling you through the exercise. Be sure to practice this exercise equally in both directions, noticing if one lead is more difficult than the other. The more you practice, the more you will understand how to use track, rhythm and balance to benefit each horse you ride. Once you have worked on the track and quality of the canter, understanding where your horse will take-off is much easier. This exercise helps you to become more in tune with your horse so that each stride becomes predictable for you. FINAL THOUGHTS
Your horse will be better able to deal with the fence in front of him when there is a straight, well-planned approach and a balanced rhythmic canter. As his weight is already shifted to his hind end, he will be more adjustable on the approach to the jump. He will also be more likely to push off with strength in his hindquarters and round his back, creating a better jumping effort. With all of these elements controlled, arriving at a workable take-off spot becomes much easier.
WHICH WAY SHOULD A HORSE FACE WHEN TRAVELLING?
Studies have shown that horses have lower heart rates when facing backwards in a horsebox. They seem to find the experience less stressful and can engage the muscles of the hindlegs and hindquarters to buffer the effects of braking. When facing forwards, they tend to hold their heads higher, which puts stresses on the neck. A horse travelling with his head high, or in a fixed position over a locker, or with insufficient space to stretch his neck out, may be very stiff after unloading. Any existing neck issues will be exacerbated by travelling in this way. NOTE
A large horse may prefer to travel without the partition so that he can stand diagonally or place himself as he feels most comfortable.
HORSE AND RIDER
SHOULDER-FORE FOR SUPPLING
PHOTOGRAPHY: MERLYNN TRICHARDT
HORSE AND RIDER
he suppling abilities of lateral work are essential for horses in any discipline and therefore should play a major role in your horse’s training programme. Introducing lateral work early gives you time to establish it in the horse’s repertoire and allows you to move onto more advanced work with more confidence. A really useful exercise for inexperienced horses, and in fact riders, is the shoulder-fore. This exercise is a great starting point if you are new to lateral work and allows you to introduce the concept to your horse in a simple and easy to understand way. TO TRY THE SHOULDER-FORE EXERCISE:
1. Ride a 15m circle in trot before turning down the long side, creating a little inside bend with your inside leg while maintaining your horse’s activity.
POINTS TO NOTE
• Keep a little bit of flexion on the inside rein when performing the exercise to keep your horse supple through the neck. • Make sure that you do not get pushed to the outside of the saddle by your horse’s movement. Your shoulders should be parallel to your horse’s shoulders, but you don’t want to be hanging more to the outside than the inside.
WHAT IS SHOULDER-FORE?
Shoulder-fore is a lateral movement which encourages the horse to take more weight onto the inside hindleg in particular. In shoulder-fore your horse brings his shoulders off the track, while his quarters stay on the track. The angle should be about half of that of a shoulder-in and the horse should be travelling on three tracks.
2. W ith your inside leg on the girth, take both hands slightly to the inside (allowing your outside rein to support the outside shoulder) and turn your shoulders to the angle you’d like your horse’s shoulders to move at. You must also keep your outside leg at the girth to avoid the quarters swinging out. It is important that you do not ask for too much angle too soon. 3. After a few strides, circle away before trying again. You need to be looking for a few quality steps rather than asking over and over for the whole long side. This exercise is surprisingly taxing on your horse’s body and mind and the horse showing understanding of the aids is far more important than the amount of angle you can achieve. 4. A s you progress you will be able to ask for more angle and even try the exercise in canter. You must just make sure that your horse is ready before you up the difficulty level!
Shoulder-in and shoulder-fore are useful for developing the quality of your horse’s paces because the hindlegs have to take more weight. This will boost your horse’s suppleness, balance and expression. If you feel improvements, you’ve got the angle right and you are helping your horse to build a better body!
NOTE: IN SHOULDER FORE THE HORSE'S OUTSIDE LEG FOLLOWS THE TRACK OF THE OUTSIDE FRONT LEG
HORSE AND RIDER
THE WONDERS OF CIRCLES D
ressage is all about suppleness. Without consistent bend throughout your horse’s body lots of exercises become difficult and you’ll struggle to get a respectable dressage score. Here we give you two simple exercises that you can work on that will ultimately help to improve your circles: 1. SPICE IT UP Circles are the mainstay of every single flatwork session, but it can be all too easy to realise that you’ve been circling at C for the past 45 minutes and achieved remarkably little. Instead, you need to try and work on lots of circles of different sizes and in all areas of the arena, linking them together with smooth, sweeping lines and lots of changes of rein. This is a great way to supple your horse as well as keep him responsive
HORSE AND RIDER
DID YOU KNOW?
Antoine de Pluvinel (1555 – 1620), one of the Grand Masters of dressage, wrote that the circle is the most difficult exercise for a horse.
to your aids. It’s almost impossible for your horse to zone out, when he can’t anticipate the next move and rapidly changing from one rein to another, with the correct bend, is a wonderful gymnasticising tool. 2. TINY TURNS 5-10m circles in walk are a great exercise for any horse, no matter their age or level of education. Start with a 10m circle, aiming to only ever walk one or two full rotations before changing direction and creating a new circle. From here you can start to gradually decrease the size to 5m, spiralling in and out while incorporating changes of direction in order to maximise the benefit of the exercise. It is easy to forget about impulsion when you’re working in walk but in order to maintain even shapes and have your horse stepping through, you’ll need to keep your leg on and maintain a soft hand. Turn your shoulders, until they are parallel with your horse’s shoulders, to help him work around the circle, maintaining an even feel on both reins and ensuring his quarters follow his shoulders. These circles are much too small to be performed in trot or canter on a young or inexperienced horse, but by using the walk you’ll get the benefits without the potential loss of control and relaxation that can arise when moving up a gear.
SMALL CIRCLES OFFER A BIG BOOST TO YOUR TRAINING BECAUSE THEY HELP:
1. Supple your horse on both reins throughout his whole body 2. Develop balance and control 3. Create a stretch through the outside of his body 4. Encourage your horse to step under himself with his inside hindleg 5. Teach you to ride your horse’s hindlegs because you’ll be able to feel them following his front legs 6. Give you an even feel in both reins, which can be difficult to achieve on larger circles 7. Provide a stepping-stone for teaching pirouettes. Your horse will already understand being turned tight and learning to keep his feet moving throughout will avoid him losing impulsion in the pirouette. TAKE-HOME MESSAGE
The next time you find yourself circling aimlessly, while you work out your schooling routine for the day (we’ve all been there), instead focus on the circle itself and try one of the two exercises above to really help your horse to become more supple, stronger and (as bizarre as it may sound) straighter.
HORSE AND RIDER
PHOTOGRAPHY: MERLYNN TRICHARDT
DID YOU KNOW?
Neck straps are permitted in all unaffiliated competitions, whereas martingales and breastplates are often not (particularly in dressage). At the higher levels of affiliated competition (FEI), neck straps can be used but must be attached to the saddle to prevent them from slipping forwards towards the horse’s head.
2. For young and novice riders, the neck strap can be an excellent tool for helping to keep hands in the right place and reinforcing the use of other aids before using the hands. 3. Neck straps are wonderful tools when starting youngsters, especially when first hacking and jumping. If you become unbalanced or if the horse throws an awkward jump, by holding onto a neck strap, you avoid pulling them in the mouth. Essentially, this underrated piece of tack helps to keep your hands soft and your youngster willing! FIT
The neck strap used must fit both horse and rider, and a lot of this comes down to personal preference and the build of your horse’s neck, withers, and shoulders. Ideally, you want to fit a neck strap so that you can fit one of your fingers underneath it and still be able to hold onto the reins. This usually requires between 10-12cm of slack when measured just in front of the withers. A strap that is too tight will be too far up the neck to reach, but if it’s too loose, it will be too far back. Play around until you find the ideal fit for you and your horse!
eck straps are often associated with young or tricky horses. However, many riders use them, and all have their reasons for doing so – even five-star and Olympic eventer William Fox-Pitt always uses one, even in the highest level of competition. WHY NECK STRAPS?
1. Neck straps are great for giving riders confidence in the saddle, particularly on new horses. When trying a horse for the first time, always use a neck strap! You’ll be amazed at how much more confidence it gives you.
Traditionally, many of us have repurposed old stirrup leathers as neck straps. These have the advantage of having multiple holes so they can be adjusted to fit the size of the horse. However, purpose-designed neck straps have now come onto the market. They can be cut to size and personalised with your favourite colours, name, and even an emergency contact number for when you are out hacking.
The 1923 FA Cup Final in England between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United is still referred to as The White Horse Final. It was the first FA Cup Final to be played at Wembley and football fans were so excited that many of them arrived hours before kick-off. Around 125,000 fans were expected, but the real figure was more than double this, and the overspill engulfed the pitch. Police were bought in to control the crowds, and the enduring image of the final was of Billy, a huge white police horse helping to move everybody back and clearing the pitch. When the new Wembley stadium was built in 2006, the connecting footbridge was named White Horse Bridge, in a public vote in his honour. PHOTOGRAPHY: MERLYNN TRICHARDT
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WHY HORSES ARE SO IN
TUNE WITH HUMAN EMOTION A
nyone who has spent extended periods of time around horses will agree that they are remarkably astute at reading and responding to human emotions. In fact, in the scientific world, their ability to recognise emotions in people’s voices and facial expressions has been found to be comparable to that of dogs and primates. This begs the question: what makes horses so efficient at reading and responding to human emotion? The answer to this question is provided by the emerging scientific field of Interpersonal Neurobiology, which posits that horses have the keen ability to decipher human emotion because they uniquely possess an abundance of a specific class of brain cells, known as mirror neurons.
WHAT ARE MIRROR NEURONS?
Mirror neurons are a class of brain cells that allow people to recognise and empathise with emotion seen in other living things. Essentially, they afford us the ability to adopt another person’s point of view and see things from their perspective. In order to wholly comprehend mirror neurons, it is necessary first to have a brief understanding of motor-command neurons. Motor-command neurons are cells that fire when a specific action is performed. For instance, one cell will fire to lift your arm, a second will fire when you grab a chocolate, and a third will fire to put the chocolate in your mouth. In examining these motor-command neurons in monkeys, researchers in Italy noted
U N D E R S TA N D I N G H O R S E S
something quite peculiar. They found that some of the neurons would fire not only when a monkey performed an action, but also when he watched another monkey perform the same action. This was astounding because it showed that these neurons were communicating intent. As it was eloquently described by Dr Ramachandran, a neuroscientist out of San Diego, the higher functions were essentially saying “The same neuron is firing in my brain as would be firing if I were reaching for a banana. Therefore that monkey must be intending to reach for a banana.” The neurons that fire when we are not directly performing an action, but watching it, are mirror neurons, and they are nature’s own virtual reality simulators. Mirror neurons are responsible for things like second-hand embarrassment, feeling sad when others cry, and getting scared when you watch a horror movie even when you know you are in no direct danger. HORSES AND MIRROR NEURONS
In terms of horse neurobiology, it has broadly been theorised that horses have the most mirror neurons in the animal kingdom and that the system by which they pick up on our emotions is largely similar to that found in dogs. However, unlike dogs, few studies have investigated horses’ awareness of human emotion, but the
few that have, have demonstrated very promising results. In this regard, recent studies have indicated that horses are so in tune with human emotion that they can detect and remember even the subtlest changes in facial expressions. More impressively, horses could even detect when a person’s tone of voice was incongruent with their facial expression (e.g.
U N D E R S TA N D I N G H O R S E S
OUR EXPERT Ryan Tehini (BA, BSocSci (Hons) Psych, MA Research Psychology (cum laude)(UP)) For Psychological Skills Training for sports’ competitions, please get in touch with me: email@example.com, or 073 567 7387
While it is commonly known that horses are socially intelligent animals, this was the first time any mammal has shown to have this particular ability (other than humans). This means that even though horses and people are unable to communicate directly through language, the line of communication between horses and people is uncommonly strong and coherent when compared to other animals. someone was smiling while yelling) and when it was congruent (e.g. someone frowning while yelling). All of these results are likely the result of mirror neurons and provide a window into understanding these complex animals, and how they are so adept at non-verbal communication. AN EVOLUTIONARY BASIS
It is suggested by evolutionary psychology that horses are notably fluent in non-verbal communication because they are prey animals in the wild. Thus, horses had to develop ways of communicating amongst themselves that did not give away their position to predators. This adaptation is thought to have caused horses to become particularly skilled at non-verbal communication and the reading of subtle emotion and may have even caused the maturation of mirror neurons. HORSES AND HUMANS
The wealth of mirror neurons in horses means that they are especially empathetic and proficient at building relationships with each other and with people. The result of this is that horses and humans can engage in social communication on a neurological level. As we have seen, horses can not only read human facial expressions, but they can also remember a person’s previous emotional state. This alone is an impressive feat, but horses do one other thing that is seldom seen outside of human cognition: they adapt their behaviour according to the emotion. The emotional intelligence of a horse is such that they do not just read and understand human emotions, but they remember emotions, accurately interpret them, and adjust their behaviour based on this information. Furthermore, horses can do all of this even in people with whom they have had no prior interaction.
These results have had far-reaching consequences, not just in the equestrian world, but also in that of animal-assisted therapy. Over the past decade, horses have become increasingly common in assisting people with grief, trauma, and other life adjustments. The logic behind this is that horses are particularly good at picking up the most subtle emotions in people, and they adjust their behaviour to soothe adverse emotions. This assists people in learning new ways to self-regulate, as the empathetic and accepting nature of the horse in interaction with the patient has been found to promote positive psychological wellbeing through stress reduction. There is an abundance of horse-person interactions that have been considered therapeutic, ranging from mounted activities (such as riding) to unmounted activities (such as caring for the horses). In fact, the ancient Greeks would often prescribe horse riding to improve psychological and physical wellbeing. While the integration of animal-assisted intervention into mainstream health is somewhat lacking, it has recently gained a fair degree of empirical recognition in promoting mental health. If animal-assisted therapy interests you, I recommend reading some of the work done by Dr Nicoleen Coetzee, from the University of Pretoria. TAKE-HOME MESSAGE
All of this is indicative that the non-verbal nature of horses’ communication, coupled with the abundance of mirror neurons they possess, allows them to be remarkably in tune with human emotion. These findings have had significant ramifications within the field of sport psychology, and in the coming months, this section will further explore the field of sport and performance psychology as it directly pertains to the horse rider.
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HORSE AND RIDER
TEXT: CHRISTIE WOLHUTER
THE CAUSES OF
THE ROLE OF THE SEAT
o your saddle is slipping? Annoying, right? Here we look at some of the possible causes and what we can do to minimise the issue. EXCLUDE THESE FIRST
The first factors to rule out are unsoundness and saddle fit issues. Unsound horses may shorten up their stride in various ways, and this can lead to your saddle slipping. For example, one shoulder dropping more than the other will cause the saddle to move to one side more than the other, and over time during your ride, it may start to sit in that direction. Once your vet or
therapist has checked out your horse, you can start to look further into other possible causes. Next, you need to check that your saddle is fitting your horse correctly. A saddle that fits your horse well should not slip much at all. However, it is worth noting that on very wide horses, even with well-fitting saddles, we may see more saddle slip because their lack of wither allows for the saddle to move more from side to side. In this article, I am riding a very wide pony, Danni to demonstrate this issue. So what are the most common causes of saddle slip? Below I break down some of the most common causes and give quick tips on how to work on it.
HORSE AND RIDER
As the left back foot pushes back to take up the load of the stride, the ribcage rolls up and out to the right. You can see the corresponding lift of the right hip of the rider and the right leg moving out to the side. At the same time, in the stride, we see the left side of the horse’s hip drop, which also results in the left side of the horse’s back dropping down. It is to be noted that I am exaggerating this movement with my hips to make the horse’s ribcage swing more.
When horses move, their ribcage swings from side to side. As the hind load-bearing foot takes up the load and pushes back, the ribcage will swing to the other side. The saddle sits on the horse’s ribcage (which is mobile) and the withers are part of the spine (which is relatively fixed). NATURAL CROOKEDNESS
There may be instances where your horse’s ribcage may swing more to one side than the other. This can be due to unevenness in the thrust of the hind legs and unequal muscle development in the pelvis. This is not necessarily
unsoundness but is most likely due to a phenomenon known as ‘natural crookedness’. A horse’s natural crookedness means they have a side that they prefer to bend to, and they bend more easily in this direction. Now, this natural crookedness is a very normal thing and is nothing to be concerned about. However, there are things you can do to ‘straighten’ your horse out and make the ribcage swing and the bend more symmetrical. Straightness training and good lateral work in dressage schooling can be powerful tools to help even out muscle development, which in turn can help make your horse more symmetrical. Symmetrical horses are less likely to experience saddle slip!
HORSE AND RIDER
In this image I am resisting the natural swing of the horse’s ribcage by trying to keep my hip bones level with each stride. I do this by bracing gently with my core and actively keeping my hip bone down when it wants to lift with each stride. This reduces the amount of ribcage swing in the horse.
Ribcage swinging to the left. Note how the ribcage rolls outwards and upwards, which pushes my left leg out to the side. It is important to note that this is a normal movement for a horse.
MANAGING RIBCAGE SWING IF UNEVEN OR EXCESSIVE
Due to the fact that excessive ribcage swinging can reduce the power transmission from the hind end, we at times want to be able to use our seat to reduce excessive ribcage swinging. Don’t believe your horse’s ribcage moves that much? Give it a feel! Walk on a nice loose rein and feel your hip bones at the front rising up and down with each stride. This is your horse’s back lifting up on one side while dropping down correspondingly on the other side. You may also feel one hip bone lifts up and forward more than the other one. This may be due to your horse’s ribcage swinging more to that side. One-sided or excessive ribcage swing can cause saddle slip. To control the ribcage movement and the corresponding swing, resist your hips bones lifting up so much with each stride by actively keeping your trunk still and bracing gently with your core.
Now, to throw a spanner into the works, a rider can also have a sort of natural crookedness or side preference. This is not a great predictor of injury for the rider, but it can make it more difficult for our horses to carry us evenly. This usually manifests as one side of our backs and hips being slightly shorter and not quite as strong as the other. Now how does this affect our horses? One of my favourite analogies is to imagine carrying a heavy child on your shoulders. Say that child leans heavily over to the right; to prevent both of you falling over, you will have to step out to the right to catch the weight of the child. The same can be viewed in the saddle. Constant leaning to one side can make our horses battle to hold themselves, and us, upright. Is your horse cutting the corner on the right rein? Maybe you are leaning heavily over to the right, unbalancing both of you. I usually find there are two types of rider lean in terms of the seat. Firstly, the
In this image I am incorrectly pushing excessive weight into my left stirrup. The horse will likely widen the circle to balance both of us. This type of stirrup weighting usually causes the most saddle slip.
In this image you can see my stirrups are level, but I am putting much more weight into my right seat bone. If I constantly sit more on this seat bone during a ride, my saddle may start to slip over to the right.
rider heavily weights one seat bone more than the other or one stirrup more than the other, and secondly, the rider shifts the torso and shoulders over to one side more than the other. Some riders do both, and any lean at all can lead to saddle slip. SEAT BONES
Firstly, let's have a look at seat bones. It is important to note that some higher-level dressage movements require the weighting of one seat bone more than the other, but for this article, we will be referring to basic schooling and its effect on saddle slip. How do we know if we are doing it? Firstly, halt your horse and relax your body position. Do you notice that you have more weight or pressure in one seat bone? This test is more about feel than anything else. If so, try and lengthen the side of your back and drop the seat bone that feels less pressure into the saddle. It may feel strange at first, but keep practising it. This same exercise can be done at the walk, and doing it in the sitting trot can be useful too. You can also have a trainer or friend look and see if your pelvis is level from behind.
HORSE AND RIDER
This is an example of level seat bone pressure and nice gentle, even pressure on the stirrup. Note my heel is not forced down.
Here, my seat bones and stirrups are relatively level, but I am leaning my trunk over to the left. This excessive trunk lean will unbalance the horse considerably.
Another way to unbalance your horses is to push down on one stirrup more than the other. Your stirrups may be the same length, but it is very possible you are leaning on one more than the other one. This is often a very subtle habit that we are unaware of. How do we find out if we are leaning on one stirrup excessively? Again, it comes down to feel and possibly feedback from someone on the ground. In terms of feel, we want the balls of the feet to have similar pressure on them when in the stirrups. If you feel a lot of weight on the ball of one foot, it is likely you are leaning on it heavily. TRUNK AND SHOULDER LEAN
What do we do about trunk and shoulder lean? Again, some gaits require more lean from the trunk when riding, but we want that lean to be minor, not extreme, as pictured above. The easiest way to see your level of lean is to look at yourself in a dressage mirror or have someone film you from the ground. What feels straight to you may not look so straight in the video! Here you see gentle weight in the stirrups, and relatively level hips. When all these factors align, the horse immediately seems to feel more balanced. It is safe to say a lot of imbalance comes from the rider!
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Fine-tuning your seat has genuine benefits and is worth the effort. Your horse will feel more balanced for it, and it should result in a lot less saddle slip.
BREED NAME: Trakehner OTHER NAMES: The East Prussian Warmblood Horse of Trakehner Descent BREED PURPOSE: Sports horses SIZE: 15.2-17 hands COAT COLOUR: Any solid colour PLACE OF ORIGIN: Lithuania ANCESTORS: Arab, Thoroughbred, Schweiken, Turkomen
THE TRAKEHNER W
ith an intelligent, willing temperament and athletic build with great agility, the Trakehner is a popular sports horse with an impressive international record. Originally from East Prussia (modern-day Lithuania), the Trakehner shares bloodlines with Arabian, Thoroughbred and Turk breeds. These ancestors strengthened the Trakehner line, developing a horse with a robust constitution and hardy nature. HISTORY
In the 13th century, East Prussia was colonised by the Order of Teutonic Knights. They set up a horse-breeding industry using the local Schweinken ponies as a base. The Schweinken,
which may have had Konik roots, was a tough, hardy pony used mostly in farm work. This area and these breeding programmes led to the creation of the Trakehner. In 1732, Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia founded the Royal Trakehner Stud Administration. This Administration became the principal source of stallions for Prussia, and the area soon became renowned for producing elegant coach horses that combined speed with stamina. Within 50 years, however, the emphasis switched from coach horses, to breeding high-quality mounts to serve as army chargers. During the 19th century Thoroughbreds and Arabs were introduced to upgrade the breed further. Over the years the
BREED PROFILE The finely shaped head has wellspaced eyes and narrows at the muzzle, creating a handsome appearance
The well-shaped sloping shoulders give this horse easy movement
Croup shaped for speed
Very powerful quarters
Long, elegant neck
The well-formed legs have very strong joints, which add to the robust nature of the breed
Strong limbs and joints Short legs and cannon bones
Thoroughbred became predominant. However, the Arab content always remained a powerful balancing element, to offset any deficiencies created by the addition of the Thoroughbred blood. Considered the best cavalry horse of its time, the Trakehner was widely used in WW1. Although its population was halved during this war, it soon recovered. However, at the end of World War II the breed was again under serious threat when the Russians advanced on Poland and sent many horses back to Russia. Thousands of horses were taken by refugees fleeing in the opposite direction. Many of these horses including several hundred Trakehners were wounded or died on this perilous winter journey. The Trakehners of today can all be traced back to the few hundred horses that survived after World War II. The animals were pushed to the limits of endurance and only the strongest and fittest were able to survive. Their offspring have since become renowned as hardy, brave horses with excellent movement that are well suited to a variety of equine sports. Unsurprisingly then, the Trakehner has an impressive record in international sport. Trakehners dominated the 1936 German
The Trakehner’s slim build, muscular form and graceful posture make it one of the most common show horses in Germany. The breed’s intelligence, alert nature, and stable gait make it a popular riding horse. Olympic team, which won every medal at Berlin. In recent years they have succeeded in dressage, showjumping and cross-country. Today they are bred all over the world, but predominantly in Germany. A TOP QUALITY HORSE
The Trakehner is as near as any other breed to being the ideal, modern, all-round competitor. Perhaps because of the hardy base stock from which is derives, or the careful use of Arab blood at specified points in breeding programmes, it seems to have been better able than most warmbloods to absorb the best Thoroughbred qualities while still retaining its own distinct character.
FACTS ABOUT FAT IN HORSES
Fat often seems like a relatively innocent player in the horse’s body. However, new research shows that it has many more frightening and devastating impacts than we had previously realised. Fat tissue is made up of adipose cells, otherwise known as adipocytes. In naturally occurring amounts, these cells play a vital role in providing backup energy for the body when needed, such as in the colder winter months (in more extreme climates than ours). However, when adipose cells exist in large amounts, the body can’t cope with the chemicals they produce. These chemicals in excess flood the bloodstream and cause hormonal systems to go awry whilst also having toxic effects on organs and tissues elsewhere in the body. This is how insulin dysregulation occurs and, subsequently, laminitis. So, a little bit of fat here and there can, in fact, be life-threatening to our beloved steeds and should never be ignored.
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H O R S E A N D H E A LT H Picking out the feet may seem basic, but neglecting to do this can have a huge impact on your horse’s soundness.
LEG AND HOOF CARE AN OVERVIEW
TEXT: SHARI MICHAELIS PHOTOGRAPHY: MERLYNN TRICHARDT
e've all heard the saying "no hoof, no horse," and I would go as far as to say, "no legs, no horse". Whether you do showjumping, dressage, eventing, endurance, or anything in between, your horse's future depends mainly on how his legs and hooves stand up to whatever task you expect him to do. Therefore, our understanding of leg and hoof care as riders and horse owners significantly impacts our horse's current and future soundness. Soundness is precious. And no horse is immune to leg and hoof issues, no matter what his breed or use. My horses have taught me how important the owner's role is in preventing and managing leg and hoof issues.
Starting with the basics, cleaning your horse's feet is vital in ensuring their soundness. Cleaning your horse's hooves removes rocks or other hard objects that could cause damage and lead to more significant issues. Daily cleaning also removes manure and other fungus and bacteria-harbouring debris that could lead to thrush. LIVING CONDITIONS
Safe living conditions and the area and footing that your horse spends most of his time on also play one of the most prominent roles in his soundness. Most experts would agree that a more
H O R S E A N D H E A LT H
Shavings make a good top layer over rubber matting.
Shari is an open showjumper on the South African circuit. She currently competes at the top levels of the sport with her horse Cupidor. natural lifestyle, with your horse being loose in a paddock, is better for a horse's mental and physical health. A horse that can freely move around has better circulation in his legs and hooves, which helps keep these structures healthy. Then, as most of our horses sleep in a stable at night, the flooring in the stable needs to be kept clean and dry. My horses have rubber 'mattresses' in their stables with shavings on top, but rubber mats also work well with straw bedding. It doesn't matter which you choose, provided they are kept clean and dry. I highly recommend rubber flooring under the bedding as concrete can cause terrible injuries to horse's legs. NUTRITION AND SUPPLEMENTS
Nutrition and supplements also play a role in our horse's hoof and leg health. Healthy legs and hooves require quality feed and a balanced diet. If a horse is not fed correctly or fed poor quality feed, he won't produce adequate proteins for healthy hooves, bones, tendons, and muscles. There are many different supplements on the market today and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to these. My horses are on a multi-vitamin supplement as well as a hoof supplement. Biotin and zinc are two of the most common ingredients in hoof supplements, and they are intended to create more robust and healthier hooves. If you are not sure what supplements your horse needs, speak to your vet and farrier, and they will be able to guide you in the right direction to avoid wasting money or providing your horse with an overabundance of certain supplements that they do not need.
ARENA FOOTING/EXERCISE FOOTING
Arena footing and general exercise footing is a critical topic, and I personally believe this is one of the most important elements in keeping your horse sound and injury-free. Arena footing must provide cushion and appropriate traction. We have all walked in deep sand and know how strenuous this is on our joints and muscles. It is therefore unreasonable to expect our horses to work, let alone jump, in deep sand. Furthermore, footing that is too deep can cause injury to soft tissues, such as the tendons and ligaments. On the other hand, however, footing that is too shallow or hard-packed increases concussion on your horse's hooves and legs. Arenas should also be level and even throughout, which requires maintenance. Other types of exercise also involve different kinds of footing. For example, hacking out on grass or tar roads. I feel strongly about making your horse work on different ground types and uneven ground as this makes his hooves, legs, tendons and joints more robust and more able to adapt to different situations. However, this does not mean you should attempt hard exercise, jumping or strenuous schooling on uneven footing. A walk out on this type of ground, or even trotting up hills where the ground is good, can benefit your horse from time to time but it should by no means be a daily part of your regime. FARRIERY AND SHOEING/BAREFOOT
Finding and keeping a good farrier is the best thing you can do for your horse's hooves and his soundness. Your farrier should be aware of the work that your horse performs and on what type of
H O R S E A N D H E A LT H footing he lives and works so he can decide on the best option for your horse. If your horse is shod, most horses will need new shoes every 4-6 weeks. And just like shod horses, barefoot ones will need a trim every 4-5 weeks to maintain their balance. Deciding between shoeing your horse or keeping him barefoot is primarily an individual decision. It depends on what kind of exercise your horse does and what his regular footing conditions are like. The "barefoot movement" has been gaining momentum over the past couple of years. However, horses that need to perform certain types of work and horses with hoof or soundness problems can benefit from shoes. It is all up to your preference and what your horse's health and lifestyle are like. BOOTS AND BANDAGES:
Boots and bandages are beneficial to protect and support your horse's legs. However, you must ensure that they are correctly fitted, as if they are not, they can do more harm than good. The primary use of boots and bandages is to protect your horse from interference injuries, such as when one hoof strikes another leg or a leg contacts something external in the environment. These incidents can cause terrible injuries and damage to tendons and ligaments. Most showjumpers use tendon or brushing boots on the horse's front legs and then fetlock boots on their hind legs, while dressage riders tend to prefer exercise bandages. Overreach boots are also helpful if your horse is prone to overreaching or is a regular shoe loser! There are hundreds of boots available today so do your research to decide what suits your horse best for the exercise he will be performing. Bandaging is also helpful. However, it needs practice and careful attention to be done correctly. You get many types of bandages such as exercise bandages, stable bandages, cooling bandages, travel bandages and first aid bandages. Overreach boots
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
There are so many other topics related to hooves and leg care, such as the different joint and bone diseases, tendon and ligament injuries, fractures, laminitis and various types of hoof ailments, but these will have to be covered in another article! As an owner or rider, the best thing that you can do for your horse is to be aware and mindful of his legs and hoof health and do your very best to keep him happy and comfortable in the work that you require of him. Learn to understand his legs and hooves
• Applying an exercise bandage aims to protect the horse's legs from any cuts, scrapes, and bruises he could get while exercising. You can also bandage a horse's legs for exercise to support tendons and ligaments, especially if your horse has had an injury previously. The way exercise bandages are applied can make a big difference to a horse's health and safety, as they should not restrict the legs' movements or create any pressure points as this could reduce circulation and lead to swelling or injury. • Stable bandages are used to protect your horse's legs against swelling or 'filling' while the horse is stabled and standing still. They can also be used in cases of injury to hold a wound dressing or poultice in place or to keep an injured area clean. Stable bandages are usually used over a bandage pad. • Cooling bandages contain a specific type of cooling gel that draws heat away from the horse's legs and reduces the risk of inflammation. Apart from cooling bandages, you could also immerse your horse's legs in ice water or use a hydrotherapy spa, as this brings down the temperature of the legs rapidly and can improve your horse's comfort. • Travel bandages or boots are very useful when your horse is going in a truck or a horsebox and will protect your horse's legs against bumps, knocks and bruises as well as other horse's hooves that may be standing in the vicinity. • First aid bandages are used when your horse has a wound, and a bandage needs to be applied to keep the area clean and aid in healing. Wound bandages need to be changed regularly but the frequency all depends on what type of injury your horse has sustained. and the muscles and joints that make them up; learn care strategies to maximise the health of his legs and hooves; learn to recognise leg and hoof problems early on before they become big problems; and through doing all of this you will keep your equine partner happy and sound so you can enjoy each other and your pursuits together for many years to come.
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GROOMING GREMLINS HORSES THAT HAVE AN AVERSION TO GROOMING
s grooming is such an essential part of horse care, it can be a real problem when your horse has an aversion to the process. The number of horses who dislike being groomed is surprisingly high, and yet grooming issues are not something we commonly talk about. The good news is that these issues can be rectified or at least improved upon, with just a bit of time and effort. Here we look at some of the reasons horses object to being groomed and what you can do to help them. PHYSICAL CAUSES
While horses all have varying innate levels of sensitivity and individual preference in how they like to be handled and groomed, pain is the first thing that you need to explore when encountering a horse that doesn’t want to be groomed. Pain must especially be ruled out when a horse is used to enjoy his grooming and now doesn’t. Back pain, reproductive issues, pain due to gastric ulcers, and dental pain can cause a horse to be reactive and generally sore. Grooming on top of these issues can make the horse reactive and opposed. Similarly, vitamin E deficiency; Lyme disease; selenium and magnesium imbalance; and some neurological issues can also make a horse very sensitive, making grooming uncomfortable. Finally, skin issues can also contribute to sensitivity and discomfort throughout the grooming process.
TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES
Horses can dislike being groomed because of the way they are being groomed or the tools being used to groom them. Fixing this problem requires some serious listening on the part of the human and some trial and error with different tools. Sometimes the issue will be that we are being too rough, and other times it will be that we’re not being nearly firm enough with our brushing and we’re tickling the horse. It all depends on the horse. Here are a couple of techniques that can be used as part of the trial and error process: • REVERSE CURRY: We are usually taught to start grooming at the front of the horse and move backward. However, some horses find this to be an invasion of their personal space. In these cases, it is worth reversing this process, starting your curry session on the hindquarters where there’s a large muscle mass that may be a less reactive area for the horse. This can make them feel a little more comfortable as you start the grooming process. • DIFFERENT STROKES: A common mistake is to push the brush too hard into the horse to try and be vigorous. Many horses don’t like the ‘thump’ when you put your hand down quickly, as it can be startling and even painful. Instead, it needs to be the sweeping action that is vigorous, not the initial contact.
Watch where your horse is groomed by his friends to help to identify his scratchy spot.
Some horses are more comfortable with the grooming process if you start at the hindquarter.
Along with technique, the location in which the grooming session is taking place can also be part of the problem. With a horse that jigs in the cross-ties during grooming, you need to find out if the issue is the cross-ties, the environment, or the grooming process itself. As horses are outstanding associative learners, if something bad happened in a particular location previously (even if it had nothing to do with grooming), they may begin to associate the grooming with that incident just because it is occurring in the exact same location. Grooming your horse in a different place is a simple step to try and make things better. Equine ‘bullies’ nearby can also be a source of angst when a horse is in a confined position for grooming, so make sure your horse is out of reach of mouthy friends to see if this improves the situation. FIND THE SCRATCHY SPOT
Almost every horse has a spot where they enjoy being groomed or scratched. Try and find this patch and use your rubber curry comb here to try and build positive associations. Finding this patch can let your horse know that grooming can feel good. It is especially worthwhile starting and finishing each session in this spot so that your horse develops positive associations with the entire process. If you are struggling to find the mysterious scratchy spot, watch your horse in the paddock with his friends and see where his friends groom him. Observing him in this way will give you a clue as to where he likes to be scratched. You can then investigate a bit in the stable. Watch your horse’s face and body language at all times – the upper lip can be particularly revealing! TAKE-HOME MESSAGE
First and foremost, make sure that your horse isn’t in pain or suffering from an injury, and then experiment with some of the ideas above to see how you can make the experience more pleasant for both of you. Fundamentally it’s all about listening to your horse and becoming an expert in their body language. Once your horse realises that you are listening to him and honouring his body language, he’ll be more relaxed.
SUBTLE BODY LANGUAGE
It’s worth becoming familiar with the more subtle signs your horse may be giving you that he is uncomfortable in order to head off a big emotional response or physical reaction during grooming. When you start to see these signs, you can then adapt what you are doing or stop altogether to see what it is that is making your horse unhappy. ‘Listening’ in this way is time-consuming, but really can help you to a) understand your horse better and b) build a better bond with him. SIGNS OF DISCOMFORT DURING GROOMING MAY INCLUDE: • Pinning ears • Hard eyes • A raised head and short, tense back • Tense ears • Wrinkles and tight skin above the eye • Tension or wrinkles around the lips and muzzle • Brisk tail swishing • Muscle tension • Flinching • Skin flicking • Fidgeting • Pawing • Trying to move away or leaning away SIGNS THAT A HORSE IS ENJOYING YOUR GROOMING SESSION INCLUDE: • Droopy lips • Floppy ears • Standing square • Resting a hindfoot • Soft eyes • Relaxed muscles • Heavy eyelids • Head down • Leaning in
JUST A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR 58
H O R S E A N D H E A LT H
HELPS THE MEDICINE GO DOWN…
hen your vet gives medication to put in your horse’s feed, they are hoping that you will do the following: • Mix it thoroughly with a feed that your horse enjoys; • Ensure your horse eats the entire dose in one sitting with little to no waste; • Continue to monitor how well your horse eats the feed each time; • Make sure to alert them if your horse is not getting the entire dose; and • Watch for any adverse side effects like diarrhoea that may impact drug absorption. Unfortunately, 99% of the time, even with our best efforts to follow the instructions above, our horse does not ingest the medication as he or she should. This is usually because the horse does not like the drug, you cannot be at the barn to monitor and give every feed, and the drug has not been adequately disguised by a sufficiently palatable food. As owners, we then spend the rest of the medication course trying to persuade our horse (mostly unsuccessfully) that they need to eat this medication whilst wasting vast quantities of costly medical product that our horse REALLY does need to ingest. The good news is that taking care in selecting the right type and palatability of the feed to use, and presenting it properly to your horse right from the start, can make a huge difference as to how well your horse consumes it. Here we look at how best to ensure your horse consumes the medication he needs from the outset. TIP 1: CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOOD
It is important that the food containing the medication is known and accepted by your horse. It must also be highly palatable. Experience suggests that molassed coarse mixes and molassed chaffs are the most palatable, plus they have the advantage of being sticky and ordinarily able to be fed in reasonably large quantities. Other palatable feeds include molassed sugar beet and some of the pre-soaked mashes. It may be necessary to obtain a bag of one of these quickly for the course of treatment so that your horse can start the food right away. As you will see
There may be a reluctance to use molassed feeds because of their sugar content. Usually this is not an issue because most medication courses are short, and the amount of sugar taken in is reasonably small. It is, however, always worth checking this out with your vet if you have concerns or your horse/pony is prone to metabolic issues like laminitis. below, it is not a good idea to try feed with 'normal' food for a few days, watch your horse reject the feed, and only then invest in the more palatable option. Furthermore, the feed chosen for medication delivery needs to be fed in a reasonable volume to provide a large surface area to absorb the drug and dilute the taste adequately. Therefore, cubes on their own are not an appropriate feed for medicating a horse. If your horse is not familiar with the feed chosen, then a dampened quantity should first be offered to the horse without any medication to see if he will like it and finish it. If this ‘taste test’ is not done, then it is possible to mistake a simple dislike of the food for a refusal of the medication.
H O R S E A N D H E A LT H TIP 2: ADD FLAVOUR/ODOUR
The sensation of taste is a complex interaction of the stimulation of taste receptors on the tongue, texture receptors in the mouth, and odour receptors in the nose. Therefore, some medications are rejected because of their smell (which may be subtle) rather than their taste. So, masking both smell and taste can be vital in making medicated feeds more attractive. Molassed feeds therefore tend to be most attractive because of their smell and taste. However, you can also add molasses or black treacle to other types of feed, for example high-fibre chaff. To do this you should ideally dissolve a heaped teaspoon of molasses syrup or black treacle in a mug of boiling water, add to the feed and allow to cool. Other common flavourings that one can use are apple juice or apple sauce, grated or pureed carrots, neat blackcurrant cordial, peppermint cordial, garlic powder, and fenugreek seeds. The horse's response to the flavouring must be tested first. NOTE
Do not change your horse's regular feed when feeding medication, but rather add the molassed palatable feed as an 'extra' for the length of the medication course.
TIP 3: USE A SUITABLE FEED RECEPTACLE
The medicated feed must not be wasted by the horse dropping it on the floor or knocking over the feed container. One should always offer the feed in a clean area of the box free from forage and bedding so that the horse can easily find and eat any spillage. The commonly used shallow rubber feed bowls are easily knocked over and can result in significant wastage. Feed bowls mounted in the corner of the stable or attached to the wall are resistant to the horse pawing and tipping them over, but this of course, relies on you having access to one of these. A door trough is another option, especially if it is placed on the outside of the door rather than the inside so that you can see any spillage easily and quickly and pick it up and put it back into the trough. If your horse is a messy eater, you can even hold the bucket while he eats.
Do not put two different drugs into the same feed, because this just doubles the chance of refusal.
TIP 4: TRICK OF THE TRADE
One trick that seems to work quite nicely is to allow the horse to take a few mouthfuls from the bucket before actually adding the medication. The bucket is then taken away, and the medication is quickly added and mixed, and the feed is offered again. The initial few non-medicated mouthfuls seem to create a surge in the horse's desire to eat more and helps him to ‘forget’ that the medication is there. TIP 5: HANDLING THE FIRST FEED
One must always give the first feed under supervision to ensure the horse eats all of it in one sitting and doesn't waste any. The feed should be made up in a reasonable volume, and a small amount of water added. The food and water should then be mixed before the medication powder is added. After the addition of the medication, the feed should be remixed before being offered to your horse. A common mistake is to add medication to dry feed and then add water and mix. This results in a lot of the medication sticking to the side of the bucket and so the horse, at best, does not get the full dose and, at worse, rejects the entire offering. TIP 6: HANDLING REFUSAL
Refusal of the medicated feed tends to take two primary forms: rejection of the feed from the outset after just a few mouthfuls
Horses who usually eat their regular concentrate food over a prolonged period of time (rather than all at once) are a particular problem when given a medicated feed as the level of the drug in the blood may never reach the target levels. These horses will need a different approach, so be sure to tell your vet if your horse is a slower eater. or, following initial acceptance, a gradual reduction in the amount of feed consumed over the next two or so days. In the first instance, adding more molasses to the meal can help. You then can try again for the next dose with a different palatable feed or more of the palatable feed than previously. However, in the latter situation, the horse may become so suspicious of any feed that even changing it to something completely different may not persuade him to start eating the medication again. This will likely require the use of a different administration route by your vet. It follows that one must make every effort to ensure that the first feed offered to the horse is the one you think he will find most palatable. FINAL THOUGHTS
It is important that you notify your vet promptly if your horse will not eat the medication so that an alternative solution may be found. This may include finding a different version of the drug or making a paste.
TEN TOP TIPS FROM STABLE MANAGERS 1 Every so often, run your all-metal bits through the dishwasher to keep them sparkling. 2 Always keep baby wipes handy! They really are your best friend. Use them for wiping around your horse’s eyes (provided they are non-fragranced); for wiping muddy dog paws after a trip to the yard; and for giving your boots a quick touch up before you get on. 3 If you use haynets, use two small ones rather than one large one to make them easier to fill and also to keep your horse occupied for longer. If possible, hang them in different areas of the stable to encourage some movement. 4 Pouring 250ml of apple cider vinegar into your horse’s water trough once a month will help stop algae building up. Just make sure to rinse the trough thoroughly afterwards, so that your horse doesn’t find the taste a deterrent from drinking. 5 Always carry a small torch, or better yet a head torch. Yes, you can always use the torch on your phone, but other torches tend to be a bit cheaper to replace when you drop them in the water bucket… 6 Make sure paddock gates are fitted with tamperproof hinges or are padlocked on both sides – exuberant horses can sometimes lift gates off their hinges! 7 Take your horse’s temperature twice a day and record it somewhere safe. This allows you to quickly detect an illness, before it has really had chance to set in. 8 Don’t allow stagnant water to sit anywhere in your yard. This water attracts midges and provides a great breeding ground for them, so make sure all unused buckets are kept clean and dry. 9 Never EVER wash other fabrics with items with Velcro fastenings. Velcro is not kind on material and unless you like the ‘freshly pulled’ look, doesn’t tend to leave it looking too fab. 10 Observe your horse’s stable habits, so that you can quickly spot when something is amiss. For example, if your horse normally manures in one corner of his stable, and one morning he has walked all of his manure in through the shavings, keep a close eye on him, and if you see anything else of concern call your vet for advice.
H O R S E A N D H E A LT H
IMAGES: MERLYNN TRICHARDT
WOBBLER'S SYNDROME A SUMMARY
obbler's Syndrome is caused by a narrowing of the vertebral canal in the neck, which causes compression of the spinal cord. The spinal cord carries nerve signals that coordinate movement to the horse's limbs. Compression of the spinal cord, therefore, disrupts these signals, resulting in weakness, loss of coordination, and abnormal limb positioning. The Syndrome typically affects young, fast-growing horses, with clinical signs often presenting between six months and three years of age. However, older horses can sometimes be affected.
CLINICAL SIGNS OF THE DISEASE INCLUDE:
• Weakness • Incoordination • Toe dragging • Stumbling • A wide-based stance • Abnormal standing limb position • Stiff neck
H O R S E A N D H E A LT H The lesion causing compression. Note: various types of lesion can cause compression.
Vertebral canal The site of spinal cord compression in the spine.
Site of cord compression
Diagnosis typically involves: • Taking a history and performing a basic neurological examination. A pretty convincing diagnosis can often be reached based on the horse's history and the neurological examination results. • Taking multiple X-Rays. X-Rays of the neck are then taken to aid diagnosis. Areas of abnormal bone development that result in spinal compression might be seen on the X-Ray. In some cases of Wobbler's Syndrome, however, the issue is more dynamic, where there is no compression of the spinal cord when the neck is in a relaxed position, but when the neck is flexed, the cord becomes compressed. These dynamic cases are typically much more challenging to identify and diagnose. • CT. A CT is effectively a 3D X-Ray, which allows the vertebral canal to be studied in more detail. A general anaesthetic may be required for some horses to tolerate a CT, and even with an anaesthetized horse some of the more critical neck joints are difficult to visualise correctly. • Myelography. This technique involves the injection of a
contrast solution into the vertebral canal (where the spinal cord runs). The horse then has a CT scan or X-Rays taken to assess the dispersal of the contrast. The contrast surrounds the spinal cord and makes any areas of compression more obvious. TREATMENT
There are a few treatment options that your vet might suggest, including: • Anti-inflammatories. These help to reduce the soft tissue swelling around the spinal cord and thus reduce the compression. • Medicating the neck joints to help reduce compression of the spinal cord column can help in horses with mild clinical signs. • Reducing protein and carbohydrate intake in young, fastgrowing horses can help to slow growth and limit the progress of the disease. • Surgery can be attempted to stabilize the affected neck joints. However, this invasive option is only very rarely undertaken.
H O R S E A N D H E A LT H
ARDT PHOTOGRAPHY: MERLYNN TRICH
NOT THE BREAK IT’S CR ACKED UP TO BE
H O R S E A N D H E A LT H
Many injuries and illnesses that afflict horses require a period of rest that can last for weeks or even months. The duration and nature of this rest will be dependent on the condition the horse is suffering from, the injury sustained or the surgery the horse has undergone. The duration will also be influenced, at least to some extent, by the recovery rate of the horse. It is vital that box rest is, as the name suggests, rest in the stable, and when your horse is on box rest, you must follow your vet’s instructions to the letter. If your horse is bored, anxious, or agitated and fails to ‘rest’ as instructed, the whole treatment plan may be in jeopardy. Here we look at three main issues that occur with box rest: BOREDOM/ANXIETY
Some horses tolerate box rest relatively well. These are generally older horses of a more settled temperament. In some cases, however, the stress of box confinement, and the separation anxiety caused by being away from friends, can lead to the horse’s behaviour becoming erratic and unpredictable. Such horses can develop stereotypies to relieve their stress (cribbiting, box-walking etc.) and once these behaviours are learnt, they may not disappear once the period of box rest is complete. For such horses, it is vital to try some stress and boredomrelieving measures. Is the horse better if he is confined to a stable where he can see other horses in the field? Is he better when a companion is kept in the stable next door to keep him company? Does he do well with distraction measures like boredom balls, licks, toys, or mirrors to break the monotony? Does giving him a good grooming session or putting several feed stations around the stable, help to settle him? Or would it work best to build a stablesized paddock next to his friends’ paddocks? For some horses, where none of the above measures have sufficient impact, one should consider sedatives or calmers. There are various calmers on the market, and some owners find these very helpful for their horses. Most are based on either magnesium or L-tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin – the calming, feel-good hormone) and are worth trying with your horse. In even more fractious animals, it may be necessary to discuss some oral sedation with your vet. Oral sedation tends to be from one of two groups, the acepromazine (ACP) group or the detomidine group of drugs. The effects of ACP-based sedatives are generally milder but effective in most horses. The detomidinebased sedatives are usually very effective and safe, even if used daily, but they tend to be more expensive.
and ensure you keep the stable clean to avoid the build-up of ammonia from urine. A low dust forage is also helpful, and soaking or steaming regular forage will help to reduce dust levels. Make sure to create the most ventilated space possible. Moving to an outdoor stable or one at the end of the barn can be very helpful for this. As a rule of thumb, if the ventilation in the stable is sufficient, spiders should not be able to weave their webs. If you see cobwebs, then this is not a suitable box-rest stable! COLIC
Unfortunately, prolonged box rest is associated with an increased risk of colic: 1. Impaction colic can occur due to bored horses eating their bedding. 2. Pain meds (particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) can interfere with gut motility and cause impaction and displacement colic (where the colon or caecum of the large intestine moves out of position within the abdomen.) 3. A lack of movement can reduce gut motility leading to colic. 4. Stress can cause disorders of gut motility and result in colic. 5. Horses who develop stereotypies, particularly wind-sucking, are at increased risk of developing colic. The risk of colic is best reduced by ensuring that your horse has access to plenty of clean, fresh water at all times and a constant supply of forage. As soon as your horse is allowed to do some hand-walking, doing this will also help to reduce the risk of colic developing.
Prolonged confinement in the stable can result in dust-related issues, especially in horses with a history of respiratory sensitivities or allergies. Signs of problems can include nasal discharge, coughing, and a raised respiratory rate. To reduce respiratory issues, try and use dust-free bedding
No two recovery plans will be exactly the same, and while box resting a horse can involve intensive effort on behalf of the owner or yard manager, its frequent role in achieving the very best recovery for the horse means it is a vital component in many successful rehabilitations.
DID YOU KNOW The longest tail ever recorded on a horse, according to the Guinness Book of Records, belonged to a mare called JJS Summer Breeze, from Kansas, USA. Her tail measured a whopping 3.81m on 23rd August 2007. PHOTOGRAPHY: HILARY O’LEARY
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YOUR EQUESTRIAN QUESTIONS ANSWERED
My horse has become very aggressive suddenly with others in his paddock. The yard owner wants to separate him, but he was absolutely fine until recently. What could be the cause of this? The onset of, or a significant increase in, aggression towards other horses can have a range of causes, although the most common tend to be pain, feeling unsafe and competition over food. It’s best to get your horse thoroughly checked by your vet. Aggression can be caused by anything from arthritic pain to gastric ulcers and your vet will be best placed to work out what is going on. Often in these instances, once the pain has been resolved the horse will return to ‘normal’. Similarly, a change in availability of grazing or food can contribute to aggression within a group. Alternatively, if his food has been cut he may now be in greater competition for grass intake in the paddock to make up for this and this too could result in aggressive behaviours. In this case, if his food is increased or he is given greater access to grazing or forage the behaviour is likely to disappear. Other changes in the environment can also have a big impact and these should be considered. Are there new horses in the 70
group in his paddock? Are there particular horses that seem to trigger the aggression? Are the horses all male or are there mares in the vicinity that might have come into season? Is he in the same paddock with the same amount of space as before or has something changed? Has the amount of work he is doing changed? If you are unaware of any changes, it is also worth chatting to your yard manager as she may have insight into other changes in management that are not immediately obvious. Some horses are very sensitive to change and any small disruption can cause an increase in their basal stress levels, making the triggering of aggressive responses more likely. Again, once these issues have been dealt with, and your horse is made to feel more comfortable again, he is likely to return to his normal behaviours. If, after thorough investigation, none of the above factors seem to be at play, your vet is likely to want to do more investigations into the sudden change in behaviour. There are some rare conditions that can cause rapid-onset aggression, but these are very uncommon. Finally, if all health and environmental issues are ruled out, you will almost certainly need the assistance of an animal behaviourist to help you to tackle the issue. HQ|155A
GOOD TO KNOW
In the walk and trot the horse’s footfalls should be in an even rhythm with no rushing or toe dragging.
whether one hindleg swings out to the side or is snatched up. You should also look for indications that he is dragging his toes. When he’s led towards you, you might spot him nodding his head. It’s also worth looking to see how evenly he picks up his front feet. Some vets ask for the horse to be trotted past them side-on as well, which can help them to see any shortness in the strides.
I have realised that I really cannot see lameness and it makes me worry that I don’t see issues with my own horses. How can I learn to get better at this so that I don’t miss something important? Lameness is not always easy to spot, especially when it’s mild. A lame horse may appear to take a shorter stride on the lame leg, swing his leg outwards instead of underneath him or bear his weight unevenly by, for instance, putting more weight on the outside or inside of the hoof wall while walking. To spot lameness you’ll need to watch carefully and have someone else walk and trot the horse away from and towards you, preferably on a flat and hard surface. When the horse is being led away from you, look for the hindquarters dipping an uneven amount on each side as he moves and look HQ|155A
Another good way to spot lameness, can be to watch your horse walk and trot on a circle, as this can accentuate any issues and make it clear where the problem is. Make sure to circle on both sides and to ensure that the horse is calm when moving. If you are struggling visually to spot the issue, it can also help to close your eyes and listen to the rhythm of the gait – it can sometimes be easier to hear unevenness in the rhythm than to see it. Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself about this. Lameness detection is something that you get better at with practice, and even the most seasoned observers can sometimes miss something. Try and learn what you can by listening to other knowledgeable people and by observing as many horses as you can, but if you have any concerns about your own horses, just call you vet – nobody will laugh at you and it is always better to be safe than sorry! NOTE: It goes without saying that if your horse is at all lame you should always call your vet for an examination to help you to get to the bottom of what is causing the lameness. If you do call your vet out for lameness, ask them to explain what they’re seeing. Most vets will be more than happy to help you learn more. 71
If you suspect your horse has seedy toe, contact your farrier and ask them to take a look. Seedy toe can be serious if left unchecked and you need to ask your farrier to help you to start treating it as soon as possible.
What is seedy toe?
Seedy toe is a fungal or bacterial infection found at the bottom of the hoof wall in the toe area. Quite often it’s associated with a breakdown in the laminae, which connect the hoof wall to the pedal bone. If left untreated, the infection and the separation can spread further up the hoof wall. The condition commonly presents itself as a frayed and damaged portion of the hoof wall around 2.5cm high. There may be areas that appear black from bacterial infection, and there can be a pungent smell.
There are a number of ways that you can keep seedy toe from occurring: • Regular hoof trimming will help reduce any distortion in the toe, keep the white line tight, remove hoof wall flare and remove any bacteria that may be present. • A low-sugar diet will help reduce the chances of laminitis and subsequently seedy toe developing. • Grass and hay analysis will help to formulate a feeding plan, potentially with mineral and vitamin supplementation, that’ll ensure hooves are kept strong and healthy. • Topical treatments can include regular application of diluted iodine to help to destroy any of the bacteria present.
My horse has competed at a high level previously. I bought him to improve my confidence, and to teach me the basics. I’ve never had a ‘schooled’ horse before and he was meant to be my treat to myself. However, since I’ve bought him the other liveries at my yard are making horrible comments about the fact that I’m wasting his potential and that I’m riding him at a much lower level than he should be ridden at. This is all starting to really affect my confidence and I feel so bad for him. Should I sell him and get something more of my level or how can I go about moving beyond this? The first and most important thing to remember is this is your life and your journey, nobody else’s. You need to put yourself first and think about your own goals and what you want to achieve. Everyone is on a slightly different path and at a different point in their life – so there really is no need to compete with anyone else or worry about anyone else’s opinion. What’s important is your happiness and that of your horse. With regards to your point about your horse being unhappy to do low-level work, we would say that no horse ‘needs’ to compete and certainly does not ‘need’ to compete at a high level. Yes, some horses enjoy competing, but no horse comes out of a class saying ‘Fantastic – I won the 1.50s. I now feel like I’ve achieved something’. Horses thrive when they can be happy partners with their human, and the level at which you are competing is irrelevant in this. If this wasn’t the case, and
horses could only feel fulfilled if they were in the top levels, there would be an awful lot of unhappy horses in the world. It is also worth noting that new partnerships take time to establish, so you’re absolutely right to be riding at a lower level to begin with. You can learn from and get to know each other without putting yourselves at risk or under great pressure. The most important things are that you are enjoying riding your horse and that the two of you build your relationship at your own pace. It doesn’t matter if you reach the high levels tomorrow, next month or never but instead that you enjoy yourselves and find satisfaction in your partnership. Finally, people who talk about others are usually just jealous. It is likely that there are other people at your yard who wish they had your horse, and just don’t express this in a particularly nice way. If this is a huge issue, and you feel isolated because of these individuals, it is worth looking at another yard where you’ll be happier, as ultimately your horse will be happier too. However, if you are able to ignore these people and get on with enjoying yourself with your new horse, then put these nasty comments behind you and know that you are on the right track for you. The best piece of advice we can really give you is not to let a few people’s snide remarks lead to you passing up the chance of building something special with this talented horse. It’s an exciting journey you are on – don’t let the naysayers tell you otherwise!
Do certain coat colours predispose a horse to having more sensitive skin? A horse’s response to skin stimulation is theoretically the same, regardless of coat colour. Skin pigmentation (not coat colour itself) does, however, influence skin sensitivity to UV radiation. De-pigmented skin types (pink skin), as is often seen in Appaloosa, cremello and albino horses, do not contain the photo-protective pigment melanin. Melanin helps to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays and blue visible light present in sunlight. It operates as a shield to prevent direct UV damage to the DNA of skin cells and reduces stress on the skin.
UV-RELATED SKIN DISEASE
Horses can get two skin diseases related to UV light exposure. One is sunburn and the other, called photosensitization, looks like sunburn but is much more complicated. Photosensitisation is related to the eating of photodynamic plan material. If a horse eats a plant containing a photodynamic agent, the agent enters the blood stream and reacts to UV light from the sun as the blood travels through blood vessels in the horse’s skin, causing the skin to be more sensitive. This typically affects white skin due to the increased UV penetration. Plants containing photodynamic agents include clover, St John’s Wort and buckwheat.
My horse has recently had surgery. What signs would suggest his wound has become infected? The appearance of the surgical site may vary significantly depending on its location on your horse’s body, the surgical technique used and the way the wound has been closed (e.g. glued or sutured). A neat, small incision used for keyhole surgery, for instance, is a very different entity to a large midline incision for colic surgery. Infection in a wound is usually easy to spot, and the signs to look out for include: • Redness • Swelling, which is usually found around the scar, in the limbs or under the abdomen • Heat • Pain when you touch the area around the incision or pain when your horse moves • Loss of function e.g. lameness • Discharge from the wound, which is usually thick, smelly and non-transparent • Gaps between sutures, which usually appear 4-5 days after surgery if infection is present (even if there are no other obvious signs).
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ARIAT FUSE SNEAKERS FOR YOUR ON-THE-GO LIFESTYLE
Ariat Fuse Sneakers are the perfect style-meets-sport mash-up. They effortlessly finish off any outfit, whether you’re wearing them after riding, running errands or dressing for a casual occasion. The Fuse range is easy, comfortable, and the newest chic WHITE colour takes their versatility to a whole new level. Key comfort features of the Ariat FUSE Sneakers include a breathable mesh and synthetic upper, a
Recovery Footbed, great support for all-day wearing comfort, and an EVA midsole for lightweight shock absorption and cushioning. Ariat Fuse Sneakers are now available for men too! Find the range at Western Shoppe, stocked online at www.westernshoppe.com and in select branches. Colours: Team (Navy/Red), Black, White.
VIP EQUINE - VETERINARY INSURANCE POLICY
Our VIP Equine Policy offers R120 000 per annum towards treatments performed in or out of hospital by a registered veterinarian for a premium of R720.00 per month. There is no cut off age, as long as cover is in place before your horse is 19 years old. • We only have two sub-limits: Lameness: R10,000.00 per annum and and Dentistry: R15,000.00 per annum. Any other unexpected accident and illness is covered under the annual limit. • This is a stand-alone policy • There is an excess amount of 15% with a minimum of R750.00 per claim. This excess is capped at R5,000.00 which means your excess will never be more than R5,000.00.
equipage • The Critical Care Cover policy can be taken out as well, to give your horse additional cover if required. Please refer to the policy wording for full details of exclusions, conditions and terms. Underwritten by The Hollard Insurance Company Limited (Reg. No. 1952/003004/06), a Licensed Non-Life Insurer and an authorised Financial Services Provider
SMART Mane & Tail Detangler
The perfect addition to your grooming kit! Using the SMART Mane & Tail detangling spray on a regular basis leaves a glossy mane and tail that remains tangle free and has a silky sheen. It also contains a dust repellent that prolongs results. It is available at Midfeeds in a convenient 1l application bottle for R391.44. Make the SMART choice!
Rambo Fly Mask
A full coverage fly mask with an extremely durable textilene body, soft polyester ear material and comfortable fleece edging for the ultimate protection against flies and the damaging effects of sunlight. The Rambo Fly Mask features an improved design for optimum protection. It has detachable nose protection, large fitting soft ears, and an adjustable closure with elastic to allow the horse to graze comfortably. Available at Tack ‘n Togs for R799.99!
GLORIA is an original For Horses patterned biolistic shirt with bib that incorporates technical features such as breathability and high elasticity with a feminine look. The soft, second skin feel fabric is smooth underneath a competition jacket. R2020 (various different colours and patterns available).
GIOCONDA is a silky, soft, longsleeved sun shirt, with patterned inserts and a zip. It really is a must-have item for all equestrians. With extra comfort, breathability and high UV protection, Gioconda is the ideal schooling and every day riding shirt. R1720 (various colours available). NINA is a fitted, unique riding jacket that is lightweight, windproof and water resistant. An exterior multi-stretch Lycra fabric is lined with For Horses Polypile® thermal fabric to keep you warm while riding. A high collar and large hood keep you perfectly covered and warm while riding in cold weather. R2910
ELEKTRA is a microfibre long sleeve show shirt with lycra bib and piping. Available in original For Horses pattern and solid colours. Suitable for all seasons thanks to its breathability, silky moisture-wicking feel and UV protection. R2060 (various different colours and patterns available).
Sole Soothe is a hoof poultice/pack that requires no bandaging onto the hoof for shod horses. It is ideal to use after a hard workout or after working and competing on hard surfaces and is easy to apply. The anti-inflammatory properties of arnica; working with the Epsom salts, which are well known for their ability to draw out and reduce inflammation; along with iodine’s antiseptic properties; working with the Stockholm Tar which aids in keeping the moisture balance in the hoof, makes the hoof pack an ideal agent to use as a poultice for bruised or abscessed feet.
GLOW FROM WITHIN – 250G R399.00
Glow from Within is a 100% pure hydrolyzed collagen peptides which is soluble in liquid (hot or cold) and tasteless with a creamy texture. It can easily be added to any liquid (water,juice,coffee,tea or smoothies) or used when preparing foods. Collagen is not only limited to moms but is beneficial for the whole family. We recommend doubling the daily dosage to morning and evening for optimising results for at least the first 2 weeks. Thereafter, it is your choice whether to maintain at the dosage recommended on the packaging or to stick to the double dosage. The more collagen you can take, the better it will work for you. However the recommended dosage of 2-3 teaspoons daily will still ensure great results.
NEXT ISSUE 1st July 2021
The Puresan FEI 1.50m Stokkiesdraai World Cup Qualifier 2021
Ashlee Healy and Hausberger’s Eldo. HH Feeds is an app-based feed company catering to all your animal feed, fodder and supplementation needs. We believe in providing the best quality service and products to all of our customers, no matter what. Download our app today on the Google Play or Apple App Store and let us help you feed your champion.
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