EDITION 4 | SEPTEMBER 2021
For a Softer, Happier & more Relaxed pony
The Pony Massage Pad Recommended by Vets, Equine Therapists and Horse Owners worldwide.
WELCOME Hi everyone! And welcome to the FOURTH digital edition of HQ Pony Magazine. Once again, we have lots in store for you this month! Due to popular demand, we have a slightly larger quiz section, which we hope you’ll enjoy and also a ‘poster’ that we’ll make available for download on our website. To get access to our website, just Oh and for those of you who haven’t yet, please enter our competition. We’ll be starting to feature ponies from next month and want plenty of entries! Please check out our social media pages (links below). Finally, we'd love to chat with you guys more and share some of our exclusive content with you. If you want to hear from us, please just follow us on HQ Pony Magazine's Facebook and Instagram so we can keep you posted on all the latest news and updates.
For now, enjoy this issue, and we'll see you next month!
Lots of love, Lizzie and the HQ Team xxx
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CONTENTS Busting the ‘naughty pony’ myth
Did You Know?
Is Your Pony Telling You Their Bit Is Not Right For Them
Did You Know?
Horse and Pony Breeds: 4. The Exmoor Pony
Safe Fruit and Vegetable Treats
Did You Know?
Products We Love
There is no such thing as a naughty pony! Here we will explain why… By Shelley Wolhuter
THE BRAIN To begin, let’s look at some brain basics. Each part of our brain has a specific function or job. There are many different regions for the many things the brain does, but for this article we just need to look at the front section of the brain – the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe lies at the front of our brain, near the forehead. It is responsible for things like planning and reasoning. In people, it makes up quite a large part of the brain. In horses and ponies, the frontal lobe makes up only a small part of their brain. Brain scientists (neuroscientists) have explained that this means horses and ponies are not capable of reasoning and planning. They live in the moment. What this means is that they do not wonder what the weather will be like later or if they will get their dinner; they simply experience what is happening in the here and now. Ultimately, horses have straightforward thoughts and react to the world around them as they experience it. At any given time, they might be concerned about if they have access to grass, water, friends, shelter and safety, but they aren’t planning for the future or planning their ride later. 1
This means that a horse’s brain is simply not able to plan and make ‘naughty’ thoughts. They can’t think, ‘I hope I can throw my rider off later, so I can run back to the barn’ or ‘I’ll pretend to be sore, so I don’t have to work’. They just don’t have the bit of the brain needed to do it! All of this means that ponies and horses cannot truly be naughty. Instead, they are acting out for one of several reasons, but NOT because they are deliberately difficult! It’s important that we remember this so that we view our horses and ponies sympathetically and investigate when there is an issue. The most likely causes of problems that make our horses and ponies appear naughty are stress, fear, pain or confusion. Let’s unpack each one.
STRESS There are many reasons a pony could feel stressed. Maybe there has been a change in their routine? Maybe they have been separated from their friends? Maybe they are visiting a new place for the first time and feel stressed about that? Some ponies even feel stressed when they do not understand what is being asked of them, so never underestimate what can cause stress in your pony - instead, be a pony detective and investigate it!
FEAR Fear is similar to stress, but there is a difference. It is quite normal for ponies to be afraid of ordinary things because they are prey animals. This means that no matter how safe YOU know they are, they will always be aware of the possible dangers around them. When we keep this in mind, we can be more understanding towards our ponies and help them overcome their fears.
PAIN It is important to remember that ponies and horses will often hide when they feel pain, so it is not always easy to tell if your horse is sore. When prey animals show pain or weakness, they are more likely to be hunted by a predator. Think of a lion hunting a herd of zebra; they will select one of the easy targets, which might be the one with a sore leg. Because of this, horses, and all prey animals, are safer if they hide their pain, so they are not viewed as weak. This means that if you notice your pony is slightly sore or even just slightly off, don’t ignore the signs because it is probably much worse than it seems.
CONFUSION It is no secret that ponies love to please us. Why else would they let us ride them and haul them around to shows? They are naturally very willing and will try their very best to do what we ask. However, when a pony is confused about what you’re asking them to do or what you expect from them, they may act out. Sometimes the way we ask a pony to do something doesn’t make sense to them, and they try other behaviours to see if these give the solution. Often, at this point, we will become frustrated, and then our pony will become more anxious and confused and try even more behaviours to see how to find an answer to the question and get away from the pressure.
TAKE HOME Horses and ponies are highly intelligent animals, but their intelligence lies in different places to ours. The way they communicate with each other with a flick of an ear, or a curl of a nostril, is quite remarkable. They have an incredible emotional intelligence that puts ours to shame. Their physical talent is second to none. Therefore, it is important to understand what our differences are so that we can use our skills and their skills in the best way possible for both of us. Appreciating our ponies’ strengths and being patient with their weaknesses can help us to deepen our bond with these magnificent beasts. So, the next time your pony seems to be acting naughty, remember that it is almost certainly something else! 3
Did you know? The most popular breed of horse in the world is the American Quarter Horse!
Look up! If you are struggling to ‘feel’ how your pony is moving, try and look up at the sky for a few moments. This avoids fixating on your pony’s head and neck and allows you to get a feel of the movement. Several top riders say they do this to really tune into their body and what they are picking up from the horse, without relying on their eyes. Give it a try – you might be surprised by how much more you can feel!
Is your pony telling you their bit is not right for them? By Christie Wolhuter
This horse is very unhappy with the pressure on his mouth In our previous article on tight nosebands, we discussed some of the reasons for over-tightening a noseband, whether intentional or not. One of the reasons some riders over-tighten their nosebands is to stop the horse or pony from opening his mouth to get away from the bit. But do you know the reasons why horses and ponies might ‘evade’ the bit? Evade = try to get away
Every ‘negative’ behaviour a horse or pony shows has a reason behind it and thankfully, we, as riders, can take action to help. Ponies, just like humans, evade pressure and pain by trying to get away from it. Say someone teasingly squeezes your shoulder, and you find it painful - what do you do? You drop your shoulder and turn to get away from the pain. You may even screech out loud! Horses and ponies are exactly the same, though they are not so likely to screech!! They do however, tell us they are in pain, and we just need to learn to read the silent signs.
How to tell your pony is in pain How does your pony tell you they are in pain? They may open their mouth and sometimes even tilt their head in an attempt to get away from the pressure. Others shake and throw their head up and down, especially when a rider tries to slow them down. This is seen most commonly between fences when the rider is trying to slow down. Another way horses evade pressure from the bit is to move behind the vertical, otherwise known as being over-bent. This problem might be difficult to spot when riding as it feels as if the horse is ‘on the bit’, but they are not accepting the contact as it is uncomfortable for them. 6
Reasons for problems Some horses and ponies have large, fleshy tongues. The tongue is a soft structure filled with blood vessels and nerves. Ponies with flesh tongues are often very sensitive to tongue pressure, and a bit that squashes their tongue, no matter how ‘soft’ the action is, will cause pain. Another region that can be sensitive in the pony’s mouth is the bars. The bars are the sensitive gum area of the mouth where there are no teeth. A bit that sits incorrectly on the bars can cause nerve irritation and localised tissue pain. Another potential problem can be bits that are too large. If, for example, a snaffle is too big for the horse’s mouth it is likely to slide from side to side. It can also mean that the pressure is not split between the two bars but rests more on one than the other. A bit that slides around will make it harder for the pony to understand the rein aids. This means that anything you do with your hands will feel less specific to the horse, and this can make your pony seem ‘dull’ or stubborn when they actually just can’t understand the instructions.
Why is it an issue? Bit induced pain is not only a problem from your pony’s perspective but is also dangerous. Since horses and ponies are prey animals, when they experience pain, they don’t stop but instead, run away from it. A bit that is hurting them will therefore make them want to run away! Dr Cook, who has researched bits extensively, used this brilliant example. “Imagine you’re riding in a bitted bridle, and a piece of paper blows across your path. Your horse spooks, and you lose your balance. Instinctively, you clutch at the reins and give your horse a painful bang in the mouth. This convinces him that the paper monster is dangerous, and he takes off,” he says. 7
Think of it from your pony’s perspective; he was concerned about the paper, and when he got a fright, he got a painful bang in the mouth because you lost your balance or tried to stop him from running off. All that happened is that, in a roundabout way, you confirmed that the paper was indeed dangerous because it caused pain! If you have a comfortable, well-fitting bit, the chance of banging your pony in the mouth when you lose your balance is reduced.
Solutions So what do we do about it? Some riders choose to ride bitless, but some disciplines do not allow this. The most effective solution if your pony is displaying signs of bit discomfort is, therefore, to ensure you have the perfect bit fit and experiment a little to make sure you’ve got the bit fit as good as it can be. Some bits that are touted as being the best may not work for your pony. You also need to make sure that your pony sees the dentist regularly as pain from the teeth and mouth can cause the symptoms of ‘bit evasion’. The most effective solution of all, however, is to work on developing trust and communication with your horse in riding with light, understanding hands or what is otherwise known as ‘soft feel’. This takes patience and discipline, but when you get it right, it is really rewarding.
We will go over the correct bit fit in our next article. 8
Horses have approximately 205 bones!
4. The Exmoor Pony By Christie Wolhuter
We will be continuing our pony breed series by moving around the British Isles to a rare and unique pony, the Exmoor Pony. The Exmoor is the oldest UK breed classified under the nine breeds native to the British Isles. These ponies roam semi-feral across the moorlands of the Exmoor National Park. The Exmoor is thick-set, small, and brown or dun in colour with the characteristic pale or "mealy" nose. They are so sturdy that children and adults can ride them.
HISTORY It is thought that the first wild ponies moved to Britain from Alaska 130,000 years ago. This was so long ago that the ponies must have existed around the time of the mammoth and the sabre-toothed tiger. When the Celtic people settled in Britain, they tamed and used the ponies to pull their chariots. There are mentions of ponies on Exmoor in the Doomsday Book - Britain’s oldest ever public record. The book was written in 1080 - a whopping 941 years ago! World War Two then nearly wiped out the breed. A combination of absent owners, poverty, and the use of the moorlands for troops resulted in there being only 50 ponies left after the war. Passionate breeders desperately tried to save the breed, and ponies were even exported to Canada and the USA. Nowadays, there are just under 500 recorded in the UK, and they are still considered an endangered species.
The Exmoor is superbly adapted to the wild, able to withstand the UK cold and rain. They have thick eyelids called "toad eyes" and very thick forelocks that help protect them. The “toad eye” along with the thick forelock helps the rain run directly off the face. Their tails also grow short hairs on the top, called a "snow shute." To complete their protection systems, their coats have two layers, kind of like thermal underwear! Every year in the breeding season, the native herds are rounded up by the local farmers to be inspected and some are selected to be sold as recreation ponies.
One of the UK’s oldest and most beloved ponies definitely deserves to be preserved. They are hardy, great children’s ponies and have lovely quirky characters. 11
Laminitis is a serious condition that lots of ponies suffer from. It is more common in spring, summer and autumn when the grass is lush and rich. The reason you need to learn about it is because the more you understand about it, the easier it is to stop your pony suffering from it or to spot it early if your pony does develop it.
Laminitis is a common condition mainly affecting ponies’ feet. Inside your pony’s hooves there are sensitive tissues called laminae, which attach the bone inside the foot (the pedal bone) to the outer shell of the hoof (the hoof capsule). If a pony has laminitis, these tissues become inflamed, which is really painful and can lead to the bone in the foot rotating, or even sinking through the hoof in severe cases.
Any pony can suffer from laminitis, but ponies are at higher risk if they are overweight or have had laminitis in the past. Similarly, ponies with metabolic or hormonal diseases, such as equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) or pars pituitary intermedia dysfunction (PPID, also known as Cushing’s disease) are also at higher risk.
On top of this, there are lots of possible triggers that can set off a laminitic episode. The most common triggers are: Eating food that is high in sugar and starch. This may include eating rich grass or munching lots of concentrate feed or consuming too many treats! Suffering from a severe illness, such as a serious infection or certain types of colic. Putting extra weight onto one leg because the other one is painful or injured. Doing lots of fast work on hard ground.
Weight loss must be done gradually. You must never starve a laminitic pony because it puts them at risk of a condition called hyperlipidaemia which is VERY serious.
The main signs of laminitis happen because your pony’s feet are sore. These include: Lameness or walking in a funny way A reluctance to move, especially on hard ground Shifting weight from one foot to the other Standing in a rocked back stance, with his front legs stretched out in front of him to relieve the pain Lying down more than normal, and struggling to get up Sweating and having an increased breathing rate even at rest
Other signs can include increased hoof temperature, where the hoof wall feels very hot if you put your hand over it. You may also be able to feel an increased digital pulse, which is a pulse that can be felt around your pony’s fetlocks. If the laminitis is severe or chronic (so has been going on for a long time) a pony’s feet can become an abnormal shape with ridges that you can see on the outside of the hoof.
If your pony starts showing any symptoms of laminitis, treat it as an emergency and call your vet immediately. The sooner they can treat your pony, the better the chance of preventing complications and permanent damage to the hooves. If your pony is in a lot of pain and is finding it difficult to walk, do not move him before your vet arrives. Instead, focus on preventing him from eating any more food until the vet gets to you. Once your vet has given some painkillers, your pony will need to be put on box rest with a deep and very comfy bed, and perhaps some rubber mats underneath. This helps to keep him as comfortable as possible in his feet, and reduces the risk of his pedal bone moving. Your vet will then probably give your pony anti-inflammatories, that you will need to give every day, and possibly also extra pain relief and sedation to keep him calm and comfortable, particularly in this early phase. Your vet may also recommend a blood test to find out if your pony has any other conditions that have caused the laminitis. These conditions usually need specific treatment. 14
Your vet will then give you some feeding advice. A pony with laminitis, or who has had laminitis in the past, will need a high-fibre and low-carbohydrate diet, and they won’t be able to have any hard feed (apart from perhaps a sugar-free balancer in certain cases). On box rest, your pony’s diet will be mainly hay and this often needs to be weighed to make sure it is approximately 1.5% of his body weight. To keep him eating throughout the day to prevent ulcers, he will need a hay net to store this hay. Your vet may also advise soaking the hay for at least six hours to remove even more of the calories from it. However, it’s best to discuss the specifics of diet with your vet as each pony is an individual. Your vet may also suggest taking X-Rays of your pony’s feet to monitor the position of his pedal bones. Then your farrier or vet may fit supports to keep him comfy, and sometimes remedial farriery is needed to correct any pedal bone shift in the hoof.
Stress can contribute to laminitis. Therefore, if your pony has previously had laminitis and you need to change his routine for some reason, make sure to do it gradually.
Prevention is always the best option! Luckily there are lots of easy management changes you can make to help keep your pony laminitis-free: Keep him at a healthy weight, which will also help avoid other health problems. Monitor his weight weekly using a weigh-tape, or body condition score him, then adjust his feed as necessary. Control grazing all year round. Use track systems, strip grazing and muzzles to help stop him eating too much. Remember to be very careful when the grass is very green and rich, or when there has been a frost, because at these times the grass contains much more sugar. Give him regular exercise, which helps keep him in shape and improve his metabolism. Always increase the amount of work your pony is doing gradually, and don’t do too much on hard ground. Book regular farrier visits to help keep your pony’s hooves in good condition. Keep a close eye on your pony and, if you see anything that worries you, call your vet for advice immediately. 15
CAN PONIES RECOVER? If your pony suffers from laminitis it can take weeks, or even months, for him to fully recover. During this time, it’s really important to keep in close contact with your vet, because your pony’s management and medication may need to be adjusted and he may need regular hoof X-Rays and ongoing specialist farriery. He must be kept on strict rest until he’s recovered and pain-free. Once he gets the all-clear from your vet, you can begin an exercise programme to help keep your pony’s weight in check. If your vet says your pony can return to his paddock, his grazing will need to be gradually re-introduced and carefully controlled. Your vet is the best person to advise on how to do this safely. 16
PONY CONFORMATION The basics By Shelley Wolhuter
Have you ever heard people talking about conformation and wondered what it’s all about? Or maybe you know what it is, but you don’t know what to look for. In horses, or ponies, conformation refers to the structure and shape of their body. It is important to note that it is mostly about the horse’s skeleton, and not the muscles or fat. Whether a pony is underweight or overweight, their conformation will not change. However, sometimes an overweight pony can hide certain conformation faults. Conformation can give us an idea of a pony’s possible physical abilities and weaknesses. Sometimes, it even a gives a clue as to how long a pony might stay sound for in their older years.
Where to start Firstly, it is important that you set up your pony correctly so that you can get an accurate view of their conformation. Your pony should be positioned on level ground, ideally concrete. Then, you must make sure your pony is standing with their weight evenly on all four feet. Ideally, they should stand square, but if one leg is slightly out it is not too serious. Assessing conformation takes some time, especially if you haven’t had much practise, and asking your pony to stand perfectly still for a long time might not be easy for them. So, the best thing to do is take photos of your pony once he is standing correctly. You will need to get a good photo from the side, the front, and the back of your pony. Remember not to tilt the camera, as it may distort your photo! Once you’ve got some good photos, you can look closely at each detail, and even draw on the photos if it helps! 19
Overview Now that you’ve got your photos, you’ll need to know what you’re looking for. Of course, you can get in-depth with conformation, but we will just be covering the basics here. First, we look at the big picture, the proportions. No matter what breed (or mixture of breeds) your pony is, the proportions are important! What this means, for example, is that your pony’s head shouldn’t be too big for their body, and their legs shouldn’t be too short! Ideally, when you look at your pony from the side, you want their body to fit nicely into a square box. In other words, you want to be able to divide their body into three equal parts: the forequarters (shoulders), the barrel, and the hindquarters. Once we have this overview we can take a closer look by examining the view from the side, the front and the back.
DID YOU KNOW? A pony’s feet can affect their posture. If a pony has an unbalanced foot or an unbalanced trim, the whole leg will be affected and the conformation may look odd!
Side view Let’s zoom in on the legs first. In order to judge them, you need to drop a plumbline (vertical line) through them, from the top to the bottom. The plumbline should perfectly split the front legs from the top to the bottom. For the back legs, drop a plumbline from the point of hindquarter to the ground. The back of the hocks should touch the plumbline. The topline of the neck should then be longer than the underside. A well-muscled pony should have a thicker upper neck rather than a thicker base of neck. When the base is thicker, we call it a ‘ewe-neck’. However, neck muscling is a product of exercise and carriage. A lot can be done to improve muscling; however, the bones cannot change! Remember, with conformation, we are focussing on the bones!
Front view Now, look at your pony from the front. You are specifically looking at the legs and feet. If you drop a plumbline through the middle of each leg, the line should perfectly split each leg into equal halves. The line should pass through the centre of each knee, fetlock and hoof. You can also look at your pony’s hooves. Do they split into perfect halves? Is one side higher than the other?
Back view For the back view you will need to drop a plumbline through each hind leg. The plumbline should start in the hindquarters and end in the feet, passing evenly through each hock, fetlock, and hoof.
Take home While a pony’s conformation can tell us a lot, it is not everything. There are always exceptions, and some seriously talented ponies often have a conformation fault or two. So please do not panic if you find a fault! It is just something to be mindful of. Finally, the most important factor to consider here is that it is how we take care of our ponies that has the greatest impact on their wellness. An imperfect pony that is well managed will last much longer than a perfect pony that is poorly managed!
Shelley Wolhuter, from Libratum Equus | Balanced Horse www.libratumequus.com @libratum_equus Fb: Libratum Equus
Safe fruit and vegetable treats to feed your pony
We all love to give our pony treats. The trick is to feed safe treats and to make sure you only feed a few at a time! Too many treats can lead to health issues for your pony, but giving one or two is rarely a problem. However, if your pony has had problems with overeating, weight gain or laminitis in the past, chat to your vet about what treats are safe to give. Here we give you a list of safe fruits and vegetables that you can feed to your horse or pony. Just make sure to cut them up into bite-sized chunks to make them safe and easy to eat.
b er ries
o ve st o n e ! )
Pin e a p
re P e a ch e s (
Celer y o ve st o n e ! )
c O ran g e
p es Gra
ts r ro Ca re M an g o e s (
Ba n an a s
st s( re m o ve
Safe fruit and veg treats for horses:
Pu m p
S we e t p o
e lo n
w b er ries
W at e
i m m o ns
C a u li f l
UNSafe fruit and veg treats for horses:
E g g pl
ish ad r rse o H
You must never feed chocolate to your horse or pony!
Take-home message When in doubt, rather avoid feeding a type of food you don’t know to your horse or pony. Your vet is the best person to help advise about treats and foods that may or may not be suitable for your pony. Remember that every single pony is different, and some may react badly to foods that other horses eat happily. Always keep an eye out for unusual behaviour which may suggest that your horse is sensitive to a certain food. 24
DID YOU KNOW ?
Black horses are often born grey. Whilst this isn’t
always the case, many black horses are a unique shade of mousey-grey at birth. The true black coat is revealed after the mousey-coloured baby coat sheds.
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Q: : Are bits with rubber mouthpieces comfier than ones made of metal? A: Traditionally, rubber bits have been really popular for young ponies who are
getting used to wearing a bit. They can be quite chunky, but lots of ponies love them! There are also lots of modern options that are made from a lightweight, soft and flexible plastic that are also comfy. All of these non-metal mouthpieces are mild on the mouth, with a warmer feel than metal and are more gentle against a pony’s teeth if they come into contact. However, there are also lots of bits made from alloys that contain copper. These are softer then stainless steel bits and encourage ponies to salivate and relax. It’s important to remember that all ponies are individuals, so listen carefully to what yours is telling you to help you figure out the best option for him. Ask you instructor or call out a bitting specialist for advice if you’re unsure what’s right for your pony, and get his teeth checked regularly to keep him as comfortable as possible.
Q: Do you have to plait your pony for dressage? A: In short, no. You don’t ‘need’ to plait your pony for
dressage. However, plaiting helps him to show off to the judges and it looks super neat and tidy too. If you’d prefer not to plait, just make sure you both look clean and smart on show day to give yourselves the best chance of making a really nice picture during the test.
Q: What are wolf teeth? A: Wolf teeth are small, pointed teeth that appear when the horse is between
five months and a year old. They can occur in both genders and can be found in the top or bottom gums or even both. For most ponies, wolf teeth aren’t an issue. However, they can interfere with the bit, or even become infected, and in these instances they need to be removed. If you are concerned about your pony’s wolf teeth, ask your dentist to have a look. Top tip: It’s important to have your pony’s teeth checked by a vet or qualified equine dentist at least once a year.
Q: What does competing ‘hors concours’ (HC) mean? A: Most of the time when we go to shows we are competing to try and win
rosettes. However, there are times when you might want to go to the show just to get the experience without having to worry about the result.
If a rider has a young horse, they might run him in a competition hors concours (HC). This means they’ll pay the entry fee and take part in the class as normal, but they won’t be in with the chance of winning a rosette, no matter what they score. You might also have to compete ‘HC’ if your pony has competed at a much higher level than the class you’re entering, because it could give you an unfair advantage over other competitors who aren’t as established at that level.
Do you know what these ribbons mean?
A red ribbon means the horse… A green ribbon means the horse… A white ribbon means the horse… A yellow ribbon means the horse…
ANSWERS: Can kick Is young Is for sale Is a stallion
Can you spot the 10 differences below?
Name the parts of the English saddle: Knee roll | Cantle | Panel | Stirrup iron | Twist | Seat | Dee ring | Head nail | Skirt | Pommel | Girth | Saddle flap | Keeper | Stirrup leather
7 8 9
10 ANSWERS: 1. Head Nail | 2. Pommel | 3. Twist | 4. Seat | 5. Cantle | 6. Panel | 7. Keeper | 8. Stirrup Iron | 9. Saddle Flap | 10. Girth | 11. Stirrup Leather | 12. Knee Pad | 13. Skirt | 14. Dee Ring
Name the parts of the Western saddle: Seat | Gullet | Rear rigging dee | Rear billet | Fender | Cinch strap | Stirrup | Pommel | Front rigging dee | Concho | Horn | Hobble strap | Seat rise | Skirt | Cantle | Back housing | Strap holder
6 13 12
10 9 ANSWERS: 1. Seat Rise | 2. Seat | 3. Cantle | 4. Back Housing | 5. Concho | 6. Skirt | 7. Rear Rigging Dee | 8. Rear Billet | 9. Stirrup | 10. Hobble Strap | 11. Fender | 12. Cinch Strap | 13. Front Rigging Dee | 14. Strap Holder | 15. Gullet | 16. Pommel | 17. Horn
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