TO SAFELY CHANGE HIS DIET
HOW ENVIRONMENT AFFECTS TRAINING U PDAT E
WHAT’S NEW IN
TACK FITTING FOR MAXIMUM COMFORT AND PERFORMANCE
— HOW TO GET THERE
Immune-boosting Herbs EquineWellnessMagazine.com
“ We will never Annual 2022
EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Dana Cox MANAGING EDITOR: Ann Brightman SENIOR CONTENT EDITOR: Kari Klassen GRAPHIC DESIGN LEAD: Ethan Vorstenbosch GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Hannah Cuenco GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Joy Sunga GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Luke Bakos Web Design & Development: Lace Imson COLUMNISTS & CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Angelique Barbara Carla Bauchmueller Suzi Beber, Honoris causa Bill Bookout Lindsey Crosbie Kelly Diehl, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM Thomas Glare Joyce Harman, DVM Carole Herder Sara Jordan-Heintz Erin Mullen Bill Ormston, DVM Abe Scheaffer, PhD Hilary Self Nicole Sicely Amy Snow Jennifer Thackery Judi Whipple Nancy Zidonis ADMINISTRATION PUBLISHER: Redstone Media Group Inc. PRESIDENT/C.E.O.: Tim Hockley OPERATIONS: Libby Sinden ACCOUNTING: Melissa Scripture SUBMISSIONS Please email all editorial material to Dana Cox, Editor, at Dana@RedstoneMediaGroup.com. We welcome previously unpublished articles and color pictures either in jpeg, tif or disc form at 300 dpi. We cannot guarantee that either articles or pictures will be used or that they will be returned. We reserve the right to publish all letters received. You can also mail submissions to: Equine Wellness Magazine, 160 Charlotte St., Suite 202, Peterborough, ON, Canada, K9J 2T8. Please direct other correspondence to info@RedstoneMediaGroup.com.
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This gorgeous chestnut quarter horse looks like she’s in peak condition. An equine that looks this healthy — and happy! — is a direct result of optimal care that includes natural horsekeeping, a balanced diet, proper training techniques, and more. This Annual provides you with everything you need to know to help your horse achieve top wellness on all levels, from physical to mental/emotional.
Departments 6 Editorial 31 Product picks 35 Business profile 60 Heads up
NEED TO KNOW What’s new in equine colic research? Improving the odds for horses suffering from colic remains a top priority for research.
24 RIDER FITNESS How meditation makes you a better rider Meditation helps you quiet your mind and find mental focus. That’s a great state to be in when riding or being with your horse.
Features 8 HEALING INSIDE & OUT 3 complementary therapies for horses A variety of complementary therapies are available to your horse nowadays. If you’re new to alternative medicine, here are three worth trying! 10 NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP How environment influences your horse’s training Your horse’s environment can have a large impact on her ability to learn. Here’s how to create a training space that sets her up for success.
HELP FOR HOOVES Understanding sidebone in horses A look at sidebone and why a natural approach to prevention and reversal is ideal for your horse.
20 DIGESTIVE MATTERS What factors affect your horse’s gut health? Let’s look at a few of the factors that are positively and negatively affecting your horse’s gut health, and what steps you can take to protect his microbiome.
26 WHOLE BODY HEALTH Tack fitting for maximum comfort and performance Poorly-fitted tack can cause your horse pain, along with a range of performance problems. 34 IN THE NEWS How stress and exercise affect your horse’s ability to learn Exercise may enhance a horse’s learning ability, while activities that expose him to stress may impair it.
4 Equine Wellness
Herbs to boost your horse’s immunity These herbs can help protect your horse from illness and infection by giving his immunity a boost.
3 easy tips to safely change your horse’s feed You probably know your horse’s nutrition is key to his health. But what happens if you need to change his diet? Find out how to make the transition as safe and easy as possible.
An inside look at horse photography Horse photographers work to capture an equine’s essence — and that’s no small feat! Learn more about how they do it.
Social Media Tips, contests and more! /EquineWellnessMagazine News, events, and tips! @ EquineWellness Tips, horse photos, and more! EquineWellness
Improve your horse’s balance by supporting the coronary band The coronary band is essential to the health of your horse’s hooves and whole body. Here’s how stimulating it with acupressure can help improve his balance and overall well-being.
Our relationships with our horses influence decision-making
Nutritious cookies for your horse! This recipe incorporates applesauce and other wholesome ingredients for a nutritious treat your horse will love.
According to a UK study, the bond you share with your horse plays a significant role in the decisions you will make for her over her lifetime.
Should I have a chiropractor for my horse? To answer this question you first need to understand what chiropractic is about, and how it can benefit your equine partner.
Healthy barefoot hooves – how do we get there? These tips on transitioning from shod to barefoot will help you make the switch as gentle as possible for your equine companion.
What horse caretakers need to know about salmonella Knowing the facts about Salmonella and how it can affect your horse is key to control, prevention and treatment.
Riding through trauma Trauma-focused therapeutic riding is a valuable tool for people recovering from abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Here’s a look at the positive effects it can have on participants.
A change of
perspective When I look through the pages of this Annual, I’m struck by how much horsekeeping has changed over the years — for anyone with an open mind, that is. As a girl, it never occurred to me that horses would benefit from more than a few hours of turnout a day; that — like people — they would thrive on natural supplements and nutrition; that horseshoes didn’t have to be mandatory; or that riding could be improved by better understanding a horse’s natural instincts. Still, I couldn’t help but notice, as I kicked around the riding barn as a teenager, that the horses always seemed to have something wrong with them. Muscular issues, hoof problems, countless colic episodes, behavioral challenges – it seemed never-ending. About that time, my dad reconnected with a cousin, who had a 200-acre farm a couple of hours from us. When I found out they had horses, I was excited but had no idea how it would change my perspective. We arranged to visit a few weeks later and, after a glass of lemonade in the old farmhouse, “Aunt” Mary took me out to meet the horses. We approached the gate to a large natural paddock, so big I couldn’t see the horses at first. But when she whistled, I heard the unmistakable sound of hooves, and the hair on my arms stood straight up when the herd topped the knoll and made its way to us. It was a sight to behold — about 20 horses of every color, a couple of mares with young ones, yearlings, and older horses too. She explained the herd lived outside 24/7, with sheltered areas. They were all barefoot, but the terrain was natural so their hooves were strong. Their diet consisted mostly of hay grown on the farm. Aunt Mary also introduced me to her stallion, a handsome almost 30-year-old 17 hh gray, who she still rode.
Shortly after, we were joined back at the paddock by two teenage boys. My aunt and uncle took in troubled youth who would otherwise be in detention facilities. Each boy was “assigned” a horse, one that “spoke” to him, Aunt Mary explained. He would then be responsible for caring for that horse, under her supervision. The boys were clearly bonded to their horses, and proudly told me details and stories about them. They had even started riding, though they’d never been exposed to horses in their pasts. It was hard to imagine these were the same kids who had been in serious trouble just a few months ago. Looking back, that was one of the most informative moments in my young life. It certainly changed what I thought I knew about horse caretaking and it opened me up to a different way of thinking, which has expanded over the years, thanks to the many wonderful experts who have graced our pages with their knowledge and wisdom. I hope Equine Wellness resonates for you the same way. While the last couple of years have brought about many changes in the publishing industry due to supply chain, labor and cost issues, Equine Wellness Annual features the kind of content you’ve come to expect, and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you! Yours in wellness,
Dana Cox Editor-in-chief
therapies for horses By Erin Mullen
In today’s evolved veterinary world, you have tremendous opportunities to do more for your horse than just cover the bare essentials. Gone are the days when caretakers were satisfied with providing a minimum level of care. This is because we have a much greater awareness of our horses’ ability to feel pain and emotion, and we also understand that the treatments we benefit from ourselves will also be good for our horses. 8
A variety of complementary therapies are available to your horse nowadays. If you’re new to alternative medicine, here are three worth trying!
A variety of complementary therapies are available to help your equine live, perform, and thrive at levels he truly deserves. This article covers just three.
One of the best complementary therapies available to our horses is chiropractic care. Many veterinary practices already have or are adding
this service to their existing layout. Veterinarians will sometimes receive additional training to become certified in equine chiropractic care. Other times, chiropractors who mainly work on humans will acquire additional education and incorporate equine chiropractic into their services. The benefits of chiropractic are extremely diverse. Pain, tightness, lack of mobility and other issues are treated
through manipulation. Simply put, chiropractic care moves certain bones into a more aligned position, thereby removing pressure from nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and improving comfort and mobility. Chiropractors will often use large blocks to stand on when treating horses, and may also use handheld electronic adjusting devices to assist them.
Another beneficial complementary therapy for our equine partners is massage. Many horses work — carrying riders, pulling carriages, or competing — so they use their muscles a lot. As a result, they may experience pain that they can’t easily communicate to their caretakers. Much as we can feel rather uncomfortable after a hard workout, the same is true for our equines. Massage therapy can help by manually applying pressure using various techniques to soothe irritated muscles and loosen knots, improving the comfort of an animal who spends most of her time on her hooves.
removing blockages that impede the flow of this energy through the body. While it can be more challenging to find an equine acupuncturist, they are available — visit the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society website at ivas.org to find one in your region.
these modalities can be tailored to your horse’s specific health issues. Horses are finally beginning to matter at the level they have always deserved. People are taking notice and caring better for the creatures who have cared
DON'T FORGET ABOUT DIET! Proper equine nutrition has enormous positive consequences for your horse. The nutrients he takes in through his diet are of indescribable importance to his health, both mental and physical. But offering proper nutrition may not be as easy as picking up a bag of horse feed at the local farm store. Different horses, especially seniors or those used for performance, may have different and more specific nutritional needs. Working with your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist will help determine which nutrients are needed, and which ones he may be getting too much of. Everything from hoof quality to coat sheen to temperament can be greatly influenced by diet. By identifying the best possible feed and supplement protocol, your horse will feel better and be more willing to do whatever you ask of him.
WORTH THE INVESTMENT Costs of complementary therapies vary depending on your geographical location and the availability of these services in your region. Rural areas where practitioners have to travel further may result in higher fees. Sometimes, caretakers choose to trailer their horses to the nearest clinic offering their chosen service, which can reduce costs by avoiding a farm call fee. However, this should be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the health of your equine. If the motion of a trailer might hinder the healing the therapy offers, travelling will not make the most sense. When considering a complementary therapy for your horse, also consider the potential benefits it will offer in terms of her comfort, mobility, performance, health and happiness. In most cases, it’s well worth the investment!
Acupuncture involves inserting small needles under the skin at certain acupoints located along energy pathways in the body called meridians. One of the main modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture is used to help relieve pain and promote healing by balancing the body’s life force energy (chi) and
DO YOUR HOMEWORK Talk to your veterinarian about complementary therapies to determine if your horse’s health will benefit from them. In some cases, contraindications may exist for these therapies. It’s also wise to reach out to those who are certified in these modalities for a consultation to determine if, based on their expertise, their services will benefit your horse. In some cases,
for us for centuries. Moving these levels of care beyond the bare essentials can create tremendous benefits for your horse. Reducing his pain and improving his mobility and performance can also be felt in the saddle, so these therapies will benefit both of you!
Erin Mullen is a freelance writer and entrepreneur living in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Saint Vincent College and enjoys spending her free time in the outdoors with her boxers, Emma and Elsa.
How environment influences your horse's training By Judi Whipple
Your horse’s environment can have a large impact on her ability to learn. Here’s how to create a training space that sets her up for success.
ondering how to create an environment that encourages your horse to learn? If, as Shakespeare says, all the world’s a stage and we are merely players, then we have to set up a helpful stage, and be pleasant players. You, as the teacher, must create a pleasing atmosphere that helps your student, the horse, relax — a stage that sets the mood for
learning. Any time you interact with your horse there are three main variables to consider — her mental and physical state, your mental and physical state, and the physical environment you are in. It’s not possible to control every one of these variables, but it is possible to enhance learning by becoming more aware of how your horse perceives her world, and what you can do to help her learn. Here are five steps to staging a positive classroom.
CHOOSE THE BEST WORKSPACE
All the world may be a stage, but you don’t want the whole world in the initial training sessions. Pick a location that is small, quiet, and neutral. It should be a calming space with just you and your horse. Horses see differently than humans, and their hearing is much keener. They even “feel” ground vibrations before we do. Finding a private space free of as many distractions as possible makes it easier for you (the teacher) to become your horse’s main focus. If the space is too large, it is also easier for the horse to find an escape. A funny viral video shows a mini dragging its handler all over a large outdoor arena. Teaching that little guy to lead and lunge in a small stall-sized enclosure first would have led to a better end result. Indoors is best if you have that opportunity. Move away from pasture buddies and any space that your horse associates with food, rest, or play. If your indoor space is sometimes used for turnout, then you may need to block off a smaller “classroom”. My young gelding was born at our farm, and at times was turned out in the arena with his mom. He used to nap and roll in in one corner of the ring, so during his first year of training he always gravitated to that corner. To this day he will, at times, try to convince his rider that this would be a good place to lie down. Our arena has never been a neutral space to him, one that has no other agenda attached to it.
Positive reinforcement techniques your horse will appreciate TREATS — When used as a reward , not a bribe, treats are a wonde rful way to positiv ely reinforce your equine compa nion. Be sure to discour age beggin g, which can lead to biting, and learn how to defer gratific ation by not offerin g treats every time he does someth ing right. VERBAL PRAISE — You can say the word “good”, for example, any time you feed grain or hay to help your horse build association with something pleasant. PHYSICAL TOUCH — Not many horses dislike pats, rubs, and wither scratches! Observe your horse with her buddies to learn where she likes to be scratched. REST — Rewarding your horse with rest offers the perfect opportunity for him to process your session and unwind physically. LEISURE TIME — Congratulate your horse on a job well done by going for a walk with her or giving her some free time to graze. What does your horse enjoy? Up the reward at times so he doesn’t get bored with the reinforcement techniques you’re using. Let him see your enthusiasm, reward small progress, and always reward immediately after he does something right!
PREPARE YOURSELF AS THE TEACHER
As the horse’s main focus of attention, it is important that you, as the trainer, be perceived in a positive way. Before you even enter the arena, make sure you are in the correct mental and physical state to be constructive. Have you spent time developing trust between yourself and your horse? If not, then it might be helpful to spend time either in the workspace or outside, grooming your horse and getting to know him. Equines are great readers of mood and body language. It is almost impossible to lie to them, and they will quickly mirror a bad mood. Sometimes just grooming or grazing them is the best lesson for a sour mood day. Consider the tools necessary for the lesson. What type of tack will be needed? Will a crop be used? Are there props such as balls, mounting blocks, or poles? Introduce your horse to the tools first, and make sure he can adjust to them.
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ASSESS THE STUDENT
The pupil needs to be a willing partner, not a victim. Listen to your horse. If she balks on the way to the arena, that should tell you something. It’s your job to figure out if she has a negative association with the workspace, if she’s experiencing physical discomfort that day, or if something in the area is creating fear. Listen to the cues. Balking might not mean you need to change the location of your sessions, but it may mean you need to change what you are doing within those sessions. It might even mean you need to have the horse vetted. Relaxation is the first element in a student’s ability to absorb information — it is the beginning of all training. The horse has to be relaxed mentally and physically to accept input of any kind. The best thing you can do for your student is to help her relax every minute you spend with her. Relaxation begins with mutual trust. Consider the horse’s five senses within the environment you are creating. Some are more reactive to outside sound than others. Horses can hear and smell better than we can. They also see differently — we probably see “better”, but their perception of the surroundings is different from ours. Trainers joke that a horse has two brains, one for each eye. Due to how the equine brain transmits information, your horse will react when something is seen from the left eye even if she’s already seen and reacted to it from the right eye. Introduce new things in the environment from both directions. Take this into consideration when you start moving things around within the stage. Studies have shown that a stallion can smell a mare in heat up to five miles away. The more you know about your student, the easier it is to validate him and help him relax.
CONSIDER THE LESSON PLAN
Come to your training session with a plan, not an agenda. Have a vision, but no expectations that might cause frustration. Listen to your student and work with what is presented to you in the moment, with no time limits. The variables within the learning environment are just that — variables. Neither the student, teacher, or space will be exactly the same each day. Take a good look at all the variables and decide if this is a good day for the original plan. It may be a day to shorten the session, or really vary it and do something playful, like letting the horse loose to investigate his space while you observe. That might be all that should happen that day — developing trust. Your horse will usually show you where his mind is. One of my minis came into my planned work session with his own agenda Equine Wellness
Your horse’s senses make sense! Spend time learning how equine perception differs from ours. Horses are wired to be on high alert for possible predators. They have a fairly wide range of vision but cannot see directly in front or behind them. It is important to allow a horse to move his head to assess something that might be in these locations. Things moving from behind to the front may frighten him, so be sure to give him some warning. We don’t know how horses see color, but we do know they are very aware of distinct shade changes, such as a black box in the center of a white jump panel. To a horse, this looks like a hole where an animal could be hiding. Horses have the ability to hear quite well, which helps them perceive possible danger from enough distance away to allow for a quick getaway. Horses can also smell changes in their environment that might signal danger. This is especially true on a windy day. The horse’s sense of smell is linked to her taste. This might influence the treats you choose. Trust when your horse turns her nose up or away, and find a different treat.
Horses learn about their surroundings and each other by using their muzzles to touch. Pay attention to this.
If you have spent time associating your voice with positive reward, than you can use it to calm your horse in frightening situations. Never punish a spooky horse, trust his keen instincts, and take the time to help him become secure.
— instead of sitting in his “chair”, he rolled it. He loves to “roll out his red carpet” which was not in the arena that day. He showed me that was where his mind was, so I went and got the red carpet. He rolled it out, was praised, and then proceeded to be attentive enough to listen to my plan. Many short sessions are better than one long session. Even fun can become tiring, and sometimes the best reward is to end a session. It is also important to end on a positive note, so ask for something simple that you are sure your horse will answer correctly, then take him back to his favorite place to rest.
ESTABLISH CLEAR INTENT
As the teacher, you must be well educated on the subject you will be presenting so you can give clear information. Have a distinct picture in your mind at all times of the desired answer you are looking for from your student. It is important not to put a time limit on learning. Break your lessons down into small steps and acknowledge the slightest sign of progress. Reward immediately. It is also important to recognize signs of confusion. This too is a response to your question. Respect this two-way conversation and give a clear marker of approval if the answer is correct. Redirect your horse if she is not correct. Sometimes the best thing you can do in a moment of confusion is to be silent. This gives your horse time to process. Then proceed with praise, step by step, to the appropriate answer. Consistency will aid in solidifying the lesson and get you closer to being able to take your horse’s learning to a new stage. In order to be consistent, you must be very aware of your cues, and ask in the same manner every time. Clarity from you builds trust, and through that trust you become a safe space for your horse within any environment. The benefit of taking the time to understand your equine student and show her you are a safe space means you can take her anywhere and she will continue to want to learn from you. The environment can change, but you have a relaxed and trusting partnership for any stage. Go out and meet the world with relaxation and trust.
Judi Whipple has been working in various aspects of the horse industry since 1970. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with an Associates Degree in Sociology. She currently owns and operates Breckenridge Farm in Barre, VT. Judi has been training and instructing for over 45 years and was named one of the American Riding Instructors Association's (ARIA) Top 50 Instructors in 2007. She has performed with her Azteca mare and trick minis for schools and nursing homes, as well as at Equine Affaire. Follow Judi on Facebook, her animals on Instagram @notaponypepperoni, and Breckenridge Farm on Twitter.
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What's New IN EQUINE COLIC RESEARCH? By Kelly Diehl, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM
Improving the odds for horses suffering from colic remains a top priority for researchers.
Survey a group of horse caretakers and veterinarians about their top health concerns and colic usually heads the list. Although treatment options for colic have improved dramatically in the last several decades, that rate of improvement has slowed in the last 20 years. Horses, and the people who care for them, are ready for a new investment in research to further colic prevention and care.
equine veterinary specialists continue to look for new ways to improve survival, optimize treatment, and return their patients to normal activity.
Colic is a common problem and refers to any cause of abdominal pain. Experts say that 4% to 10% of all horses will experience at least one episode of colic in their lifetimes. Approximately 90% of colic cases are successfully treated on the farm, with the remaining 10% referred to a specialty hospital for advanced treatment, including surgery. For horse caretakers, colic can be a frightening diagnosis; and for veterinarians, it’s a challenge to treat when a horse’s condition rapidly worsens.
Dr. Liara Gonzalez, Associate Professor of Gastroenterology and Equine Surgery at North Carolina State University, notes that colic prevention is one key to better short- and long-term outcomes. “Colic prevention, whether through educating owners or veterinarians, remains important,” says Dr. Gonzalez. “The internet has helped by giving owners and veterinarians greater access to materials and other educational opportunities.”
While many horses recover uneventfully from colic, for others it is life-threatening and even fatal. For caretakers, additional stress is created from concern about the welfare of their horses, coupled with the expense of colic treatment for more dire cases. Interest in colic research is growing as 16
PREVENTION AND EARLY INTERVENTION ARE KEY
Dr. Margaret Mudge, colic researcher and Professor of Equine Surgery at The Ohio State University, feels that another key is earlier diagnosis and referral by veterinarians in the field, leading to improved colic outcomes. She also points to a greater willingness on the part of caretakers to accept earlier referral. Early referral in turn leads to improved survival, which encourages more veterinarians
and caretakers to pursue referral and surgery. Several large scale, multinational studies are currently in progress to look at various aspects of colic. The Nottingham Equine Colic Project is one example. This ambitious project covers numerous areas of early colic recognition by primary veterinarians and horse caretakers. Ultimately, this data could identify important early clinical signs of colic and serve as a foundation for caretaker and veterinary education and outreach. Preventing colic from occurring is optimal, but a horse’s unique anatomy predisposes them to colic even when caretakers take every precaution. Horses can colic even under optimal management, so early recognition of the signs is an important adjunct to prevention. “It’s exciting for me to see large, multi-national, collaborative and prospective colic studies,” says Dr. Kira Epstein, Professor and Interim Department Head of Large Animal Medicine at the University of Georgia, and a colic researcher. “This approach will lead to better evidence-based advice for owners and veterinarians.”
IMPROVING SURGERY AND POSTOPERATIVE CARE Despite advances in colic therapy made in the late 1980s and 1990s, many researchers point to a lack of novel, groundbreaking colic treatments over the last 20 years. However, recent advances in cellular biology and technology have spurred new research in unique and exciting areas.
BLOOD CIRCULATION Maintaining good blood circulation, even in tiny blood vessels (microcirculation) during surgery is important for success. Dr. Mudge is using a new technology to study the microcirculation of horses undergoing colic surgery and, as part of the study, she’s testing a special type of intravenous fluid and its effect on microcirculation during anesthesia. Her hypothesis is that by maintaining adequate perfusion to all tissues, survival will improve and time in hospital will be reduced (which in turn can reduce costs for the caretaker).
STEM CELLS Most people associate stem cells with bone marrow, blood disease, and the treatment of orthopedic problems, but the intestine has stem cells, too. Dr. Gonzalez is looking for ways to harness the power of the gut’s resident stem cells to improve and hasten healing after an episode of colic. “Every seven days we have a brand new intestinal lining, thanks to gut stem cells,” says Dr. Gonzalez. “Can I stimulate these cells to heal, or heal faster? Faster recoveries can not only save caretakers money but can help horses avoid postoperative complications such as laminitis.”
FUNDING AND PARTICIPATION IN COLIC STUDIES Nonprofit organizations focused on animal health, such as Morris Animal Foundation and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, are currently funding studies on colic. Morris Animal Foundation recently announced a special interest in funding studies focused on equine colic in their most recent call for proposals. Horse caretakers also have opportunities to participate in research. The American Veterinary Medical Association Health Studies Database provides horse caretakers with a database of studies actively recruiting patients. The database is also a good place to look for previous study locations and colic experts. New research projects are offering new hope for horses, their caretakers, and veterinarians. Advances in prevention, early diagnosis, and surgical optimization means more horses will be able to return to healthy lives after colic. Dr. Kelly Diehl received her DVM from the University of Tennessee and started her practice career in an emergency clinic in New Jersey. She then completed an internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City, after which she moved west, completing a residency in small animal medicine at Colorado State University. Dr. Diehl joined the staff of the Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado as the co-owner of the internal medicine section. After 14 years, she left private practice to pursue a career in medical communication and joined the Morris Animal Foundation team in 2013. Dr. Diehl is a board-certified small animal internal medicine specialist and a Certified Veterinary Journalist.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES The University of Liverpool:
American College of Veterinary Surgeons:
American Association of Equine Practitioners:
SIDEBONE IN HORSES By Carole Herder
A look at sidebone and why a natural approach to prevention and reversal is ideal for your horse.
Sidebone in horses can be thought of as a type of osteoarthritis. More formally referred to as dxostosis or “bony growth,” it occurs in the lateral cartilage at the quarters (sides) of the hoofs, above the coronet band. It is characterized by an excess of mineralization in this cartilage, and may cause enough discomfort to change the horse’s movement. If only a small portion of the lateral cartilage is affected, sidebone may be no more than an imperfection. However, it can become painful when mineralization creates severe rigidity, inflammation, cartilage deterioration, and ossification or scar tissue. Damaging pressures and malformations are caused by imbalanced trimming and restriction to the natural hoof function, rather than to external factors such as injury or aging.
REGENERATION TO THE RESCUE Fortunately, a horse’s body is made up of trillions of interacting cells that constantly communicate, renew, and regenerate. With a simple understanding of lower
limb action, and support for natural movement, sidebone can be prevented and reversed. Horses are designed to move, and this impulse is directly related to their level of comfort. Limiting fluid motion with the rigid inflexibility of a metal shoe inhibits freedom of movement. When the hooves are clamped with metal, the horse’s movement lacks adaptability, stressing the joints and cellular tissues and distorting already strained cartilage, connective tissues and corium. The result is the anatomical challenges, ossifications, stresses and strains we call sidebone.
HOOF BOOTS OFFER FREEDOM Good hoof boots ensure comfort and encourage willingness. They protect the entire hoof, absorb shock and concussion, and provide an optimum surface that enables the hoof’s expansion and contraction. No clamping. No restrictions. A properly functioning hoof will smoothly and effortlessly roll over
the toe, adapting to terrain with lightweight, effortless and flexible motion. The hoof expands and functions to absorb shock. It remains supple and adaptable, encouraging blood, nutrient and oxygen circulation.
DON’T GO DOWN THE ROAD OF PAIN Nerve blocks, painkillers and antiinflammatories are often prescribed for sidebone. Corrective shoeing, stall rest, injections, various pharmaceuticals and operations can mask the condition for a time, but the real cure must come from addressing the source of the problem. Masking a potentially lifelong chronic condition with a short-term solution is not a desirable approach. The way to good hoof health is through proper hoof care and understanding. Carole Herder is the author of number one international bestsellers There Are No Horseshoes in Heaven and Hoofprints on The Journey. She possesses a genuine passion for providing comfort to horses and educating horse owners. Carole presents training around the world on the benefits of keeping horses in their natural state. Through her groundbreaking work and designs, she serves tens of thousands of horses and riders globally each year. Carole's company, Cavallo Horse & Rider Inc., develops, manufactures, and distributes horse products in 26 countries worldwide (email@example.com, 1-877-818-0037, www.cavallo-inc.com).
Negatively an d Positively affect your horse's gut health? by Nicole Sicely
Let’s look at a few of the factors that are positively and negatively affecting your horse’s gut health, and what steps you can take to protect his microbiome.
Horse caretakers want the best for their equines, and making sure their diet supports their gut health will help keep them happy and healthy. Your horse’s digestive system has a longreaching effect on his health since the gut is responsible for 70% of his immune system function. Let’s explore some factors that can positively or negatively affect your horse’s gut health.
FORAGE For digestive wellness, horses should consume 2% of their body weight in forage. Hard keepers or horses in heavy work may need closer to 3%. To avoid digestive concerns, 20
never feed less than 1.5% of your horse’s body weight in forage. For a 1,000 lb horse, that’s 15 lb of forage per day. Feeding less than this can put your horse at risk for ulcers, colic, or diarrhea. A more stable and diverse microbial population results when a horse is fed a forage-only diet, especially when compared with a sugar- and starch-rich ration. Hay bales and individual flakes of hay can vary by weight. If your horse is on restricted hay, it is best to weigh the hay to ensure you are feeding 1.5% of his body weight. A luggage or fish scale comes in handy for weighing bales or flakes of hay.
CARBOHYDRATES Grains and concentrates should be limited to 4 lb to 5 lb per meal. Putting a limit on meal size helps ensure starch is digested in the small intestine. If it isn’t, it ends up in the large intestine where it is fermented. As starch fermentation occurs, the production of lactic acid and volatile fatty acid increases, which reduces pH in the hindgut. This decrease in pH causes the good fiber-fermenting bacteria to die off and release endotoxins. Cell walls are then damaged, releasing endotoxins into the bloodstream, which can lead to increased inflammation, ulcers, or laminitis. Multiple studies have also linked high starch diets that alter the equine microbiome to increased behavioral reactivity. Small, frequent meals can help reduce the horse’s risk of developing these issues. Starch has its place for some horses, especially those who cannot consume enough forage to meet daily energy requirements, such as horses in heavy work. They key is to feed in moderation, 4 lb to 5 lb per meal.
TRICKLE FEEDING A horse’s digestive system is designed for a slow and almost continual intake of fiber. Long-stem forage requires your horse to chew for a longer duration than hay pellets do. This longer chew time produces more saliva, which is your horse’s natural stomach acid buffer. When horses stop chewing, they also stop producing saliva, yet they continue to produce stomach acid 24/7. For horses who need to be on restricted hay — e.g. a horse that gains weight on very little hay — the use of slow feed nets can prolong chew time. Constant chewing means a comfortable tummy.
WATER Fun fact: a horse's weight consists of 70% water. For your average 1,000 lb horse, that’s 700 lbs of water! When your horse does not drink enough, the contents of his gut can become too high in dry matter, which puts him at risk of developing impaction colic. Horses will drink five to ten gallons of water per day. If you notice your horse does not drink a lot, adding two tablespoons of salt to his diet will help. He should also have free access to a plain white salt block. Horses consume less water in the winter. Help them drink more by keeping the water around 40°F to 60°F. In one study, horses drank 38% to 41% less cold water compared to water at 66°F.
MEDICATIONS Unfortunately, antibiotics do not know the good bugs from the bad, and will decrease the hindgut’s microbiota. The damage can last a while. In one study, the microbiota was more similar to baseline 30 days after treatment than it was in the Day 5 or Day 14 samples, but was not completely back to normal (Costa et al, 2015).
FAST DIET CHANGES Rapid diet changes will cause changes in the microflora of the hindgut. These changes can adversely affect digestive health, leading to diarrhea, colic and other forms of digestive upset. A change in hay within the previous two weeks can increase the risk of colic. • As a general rule, the larger the volume of feed, the longer the introduction should be. Since forage makes up the majority of your horse’s diet, take the most time introducing new hay, over seven to ten days. • Next would be your bowl feed (grain, concentrates etc.), which should take at least five to seven days (see article on page 23 for more tips on switching your horse’s feed). •L astly are supplements. Since the feed rate on supplements is usually very small, they only need a threeto four-day introduction. A longer introduction is always a better introduction. Equine Wellness
NSAIDs increase the risk of developing right dorsal colitis and ulceration throughout the gastrointestinal mucosa, as well as in the mouth and esophagus. Every horse may tolerate NSAIDs differently, but there will be some effect on the microbiota.
GUT HAPPY FOODS Many feed items will benefit your horse’s digestive system. Here are four:
Yeast: The most common yeast in horse feeds is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It can help normalize gut pH and support the growth of beneficial fiberdigesting microbes.
Beet Pulp: This fibrous portion of the sugar beet remains after the sugar has been removed. It ferments like hay in the hindgut and does not produce a blood sugar spike the way grains or concentrates can do. Beet pulp can absorb four times its weight in water; therefore, it’s an excellent way to get additional water into your horse’s system. It also acts as a prebiotic.
Omega-3 fatty acids: These can be found in flax, chia, camelina oil, fish oil or algae. Omega-3 fatty acids can support anti-inflammatory mechanisms in the body and boost your horse’s immune system. Positive effects may also be seen in the coat, hooves, joints, airways, and reproduction.
Prebiotics and probiotics: Prebiotics are nonliving substances fed to support and nourish good microbes. Probiotics are live beneficial organisms that may enhance the existing population of helpful gut microbes and improve digestive health. When shopping for a probiotic, ensure each serving provides Colony Forming Units (CFUs) in the billions. This information will be listed on the guaranteed analysis.
STRESS When we think of stress in our horses’ lives, we typically think of heavy workloads, competitions, or trailering. However, many other factors can create stress. Some examples are weather (heat stress), change in routine (e.g. being late to feed your horse), and a horse buddy leaving or a new one arriving. Stress has well-documented physical effects on a horse and can lead to ulcers, diarrhea, or colic. Stress will also suppress the immune system, leaving the horse vulnerable to illness. Your horse’s gut plays a role in so many aspects of his wellbeing. Feeding a diet to support a healthy gut will help him thrive. A healthy gut is a healthy horse!
Nicole Sicely is an independent equine nutritionist who owns Custom Equine Nutrition, LLC. Her passion for equine nutrition started in 2002, the day her Tennessee Walker gelding, Chance, was diagnosed with PPID (Cushing’s Disease). Nicole formulated the forage balance, Vermont Blend, which is recommended by veterinarians and farriers across the US. She resides in Vermont with her husband, two kids, and three horses (customequinenutrition.com).
meditation meditation makes you a
better better rider rider By Carla Bauchmueller
Meditation helps you quiet your mind and find mental focus. That’s a great state to be in when riding or being with your horse.
We humans are constantly thinking. There is nothing wrong with this, but the problem is that most of our thoughts are just “happening” subconsciously, and they keep us from being fully present with our horses. Often, you will find yourself doing something but your mind is somewhere else — for instance, thinking about what you need at the grocery store, or a conversation you had with someone yesterday. Meditation can help rid our brains of those thoughts so we can be more present.
THE PROBLEM WITH UNCONSCIOUS THOUGHT Most of the thoughts that run through our minds are repetitive. Most also illicit an emotion, like anxiety or selfdoubt, and are creating an internal agitation that you’re probably not aware of. More often than not, your horse will sense this and will have a harder time connecting with you. It’s almost as if these thoughts create a layer of fog around you that’s difficult for your horse to penetrate. He might try to listen to you, but gets so many messages that it’s hard for him to understand what you are trying to communicate. You have probably experienced this when riding. You felt you were doing things correctly from a technical standpoint, but your horse didn’t listen; it just didn’t work because you couldn’t connect.
LEARNING FROM OUR HORSES Horses don’t experience repetitive thoughts like humans do, so they are naturally much more present in the moment. That’s why horses enjoy being around people who are able to silence their minds. It creates a quiet, safe space for them. As humans, we can learn from horses how to be more present.
Do this for a few minutes. Feel the effect. You might feel calmer, more grounded, more internalized.
Meditation requires practice. You will get the full benefit if you do a few minutes every morning.
MEDITATE WITH YOUR HORSE You can do a similar exercise with your equine companion.
Stand next to your horse with your eyes half closed. Focus on your belly breathing as in the exercise above. Feel into the effect. You will probably start feeling calmer, more grounded, internalized, but also more ready to connect to your horse from this no-mind state. This is a great exercise to do after a stressful day. From this quiet standpoint, feel your horse, feel his grounded energy and his breathing. Quietly enjoy this connection with your horse.
This can be a very rewarding exercise that creates a deep connection between you and your horse. To make it even easier, visit https://home.theintuitiverider. com/Meditation. A horse lover and rider all her life, Carla Bauchmueller studied firsthand in world renowned programs such as Sally Swift's Centered Riding ® and The Classical German Training System. What deepens Carla's teachings and sets her apart is her level of expertise in meditation, personal development and mindfulness training. This unique combination and expertise led her to create The Intuitive Rider. In live and online programs, she helps riders from all over the world to become more balanced, safer and more connected in the saddle, and to also deeply work on the emotional and mental side of being a horse person.
Here is a simple exercise that can give you a taste of what meditation can do for you:
Sit upright on a chair and close your eyes. Place your hands on your abdomen. Take a few long exhalations with the intent of letting go. Focus on the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe. If there are thoughts and emotions, just let them come and go, then gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
WHOLE BODY HEALTH
for maximum comfort and performance by Joyce Harman, DVM
Poorly-fitted tack can cause your horse pain, along with a range of performance problems.
Correct tack fitting is as important to the equine athlete as correct shoe fitting is to the human athlete. In the last 30 years, great strides have been made in the athletic shoe industry, but while the saddle and tack industry has made advances it is still steeped in tradition. Most tack is made in factories by people who have never been near a horse, much less ridden on one competitively. Pain associated with poor tack fit usually shows up as performance problems, rather than overt sores. These performance problems range from a mildly “cold back” to severe bucking and rearing episodes. In between those two extremes is a whole host of symptoms most of us consider training problems, such as resisting, jumping poorly, being slow to warm up, or not paying attention to the rider.
PERFORMANCE ISSUES RELATED TO PAIN These can be grouped into several basic categories. Think of behaviors your horse exhibits that you see as training problems, and consider the possibility that they may arise from pain. • Physical signs of tack-related fitting problems include obvious sores, white hairs under the saddle (or occasionally bridle), scars, and muscle atrophy. • Behavioral problems usually related to saddle fit and back pain include an objection to being saddled, hypersensitivity to brushing, difficulty shoeing, constantly rearranging stall bedding, and fidgeting. • Training problems that may indicate pain from many locations include being “cold-backed” during mounting, a slowness to warm up, resistance to work or aids, obscure lameness, excessive shying, tail swishing, ear pinning, teeth grinding, head tossing, bucking or rearing, and decreased speed in timed sport.
DEALING WITH PAIN As you work towards improving your tack fitting, and finding out where your horse hurts and why, it's important to deal with his discomfort. The damage done by poorly-fitting tack does not always just go away with new equipment. Residual pain and stiffness may be present. Your horse may also be uncomfortable while you go through the process of finding tack that works well. There are several ways to help your horse during this transition:
Bodywork of various types is excellent. Find a veterinarian trained in acupuncture, chiropractic, or both. Look for a massage therapist or learn some massage and stretching exercises yourself. Supplements can help with pain — and the stress caused by being in pain. One of my favorite all-round supplements is CBD for horses. Hemp-derived CBD improves your horse’s comfort and calms his mind as you work through finding tack solutions. Joint supplements can also be useful.
SADDLES Saddle design has primarily focused on the rider’s comfort, with some innovations for the horse. New innovations can improve the fit, but in many cases are based on false information and don’t work for most horses. Riders then may try various pads in an attempt to make the saddle fit better, but in doing so the fit is usually lost. The basic principles of saddle fit should help you evaluate saddles and the technology being advertised. When evaluating a horse for a performance problem, examine the saddle both on and off the horse. Saddle fit should be considered as important as, and similar to, shoe fit in a person. Here are the basic factors to consider when examining a saddle: • The structure of the saddle must be symmetrical from the horse’s side and the rider’s side. Flaws are very common, even in high-priced saddles of all types. • The position of the saddle on the horse’s back is the most critical aspect of saddle fit. The most common mistake is to place the saddle too far forward. This places the rigid tree over the top of the shoulder blade, which significantly restricts the movement of the horse’s front legs. Conversely, moving a long western saddle back off the shoulders often places it too far back for the rider, and over the weaker lumbar part of the horse’s back. • The bars or panels need to follow the contours of the horse's back without a bridging gap in the middle.
• The saddle must have enough rocker and twist to the bars to conform to the horse’s back (western).
• The tree needs to conform to the shape of the horse’s back, especially across the angle of the withers. • The girth needs to drop perpendicularly into the narrowest place on the chest behind the elbows. • The rider needs to fit the saddle well and be able to do the desired sport without having to worry about finding the right place to sit. • The position of the stirrup bars, or stirrup placement, should allow the rider’s leg to be secure and not drift forward or backwards as the ride continues. • The seat needs to be level, allowing the rider to sit in the center without fighting to stay in place.
• The panels need to be wide enough for good support (English). • The gullet needs to be wide enough to clear the spine completely (2½” to 4”, English); in western saddles, it should not be wider than the standard 4”. • The gullet under the fork needs to be the correct width and tall enough to clear the withers (western).
Rider variables The rider, by virtue of the fact that she is sitting on top of the horse and guiding him through complex movements, has enormous influence on the horse’s back. The integral relationship between horse and rider has been brought to light in recent years thanks to a much greater understanding of this relationship. Most riders have some degree of back pain and stiffness; this is transferred directly to the horse. Many riders sit off to one side or the other due to skill problems or body pain. Over time, uneven pressure is created on the horse’s back and can mimic a saddle problem.
Therapeutic pads Therapeutic pads are often used as a way to try and solve saddle-fit problems. Much of the time, the pads provide only temporary relief and may cause more problems than they solve in the long run. The addition of a pad to a saddle is like a person adding an extra sock under his shoe. If the tree of the saddle is wide enough, the pad may help. If the tree is already too narrow, and this is the most common scenario, the addition of the pad causes more pressure on the withers.
BRIDLES Bridles are an often overlooked aspect of tack fitting. An uncomfortable bridle can create head pain, causing the horse to throw his head up in the air and hollow his back, just as a poorlyfitting saddle can. Bridles that have been allowed to get dirty or stiff can rub and irritate the skin. Nosebands with a strap under the chin are very likely to get stiff and rough. Clean your bridle frequently to keep the leather smooth and supple. Be sure the browband is loose enough across the forehead for two fingers to fit comfortably underneath it all the way around. Many small horses have surprisingly broad foreheads, especially Quarter Horses or Arabians.
NOSEBANDS Nosebands utilized to keep the mouth shut cause more problems than any other part of the bridle, except perhaps the browband. Because many horses are uncomfortable from a bit or saddle and are trying to evade pain, riders often resort to tighter and tighter nosebands, trying to force acceptance of tack that doesn't fit. When you overtighten the noseband, the jaw becomes tight and free movement is lost though the rest of the spine. Flexibility and suppleness disappear and the stage is set for a fight rather than a harmonious ride. Comfort from bridles and saddles leads to less need for a tight noseband.
BITTING Bitting can be another challenge. In the old days, if your horse wasn’t running away with you, you figured the bit was probably fine. The subject of bitting is steeped in tradition. Some equine dentists and veterinarians interested in bits and teeth are currently examining the shape of the equine mouth in relation to the bit and the horse’s comfort. Bit manufacturers are finding new ideas, so it is possible to try different bit types to find the right one. 30
The key to finding the correct bit is to develop an understanding and acceptance of the “dance of the bits.” This describes the give and take, ebb and flow, and the grace and movement involved in the art of bitting. No longer do we pull one bit out and assign it to a horse for life. Dancing with the bits allows you to adjust to your horse’s and riding needs as both of you learn and change. The traditional single-jointed snaffle mouthpiece drives down into the tongue, prevents proper swallowing, and is painful to the horse. A bit with a shape that relieves the tongue from pressure is more comfortable. The position of the bit in a horse’s mouth is important to both comfort and effectiveness. Too high and it pushes the hard metal against the lips; too low means the horse must constantly tighten her tongue to try to pull the bit up to a comfortable location well above the canine teeth. Take care to clean your bit regularly. Some riders only wash their bits occasionally. Saliva and food particles dry hard on the bit and can cause sores or cuts on the horse’s mouth. Correctly-fitting tack can make all the difference between a happy, quality performance and one that is miserable. When your horse is comfortable, it brings joy to your ride.
Dr. Joyce Harman is retired from Harmany Equine Clinic, a holistic equine practice in Virginia where she treated all types of horses from backyards to Olympic caliber. She has served as past president of the AHVMA and the VBMA. As an herbalist, Dr. Harman tested hemp and CBD for horses in the very early days of hemp legalization. She maintains an active website for educational purposes, is planning an online holistic nutrition/health course, and is bringing high quality CBD hemp to the horse world. She is also an authority on Lyme disease and insulin resistance. Her publications include the Pain Free Back and Saddle Fit books and Homeopathic First Aid for Horses (harmanyequine.com, docshemp.com).
Product Picks Providing all-important electrolytes
What we love:
Their products contain no genetically modified oats, corn or soybean ingredients.
If the weather is hot or your horse is stressed, ElectroMax can help. It’s full of electrolytes that support hydration levels and augment his natural desire to drink. While stress and heat can create issues with fluid levels, ElectroMax helps maintain muscle function, healthy mineral concentrations, and proper fluid balance. It can be used during showing, training, transporting, working and exposure to extreme heat.
Real feed for better health
What we love:
Performance+ Feed from The Sturdy Horse™ is the next generation of “real feed” for horses. The company’s approach supports health with natural food that’s not highly processed. It’s manufactured using a new cold/slow process that produces a complete protein with all 20 amino acids as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6, providing unparalleled digestibility and nutritional benefits. A perfect fit for performance horses and hard keepers, this super feed comes in two different form factors and packaging sizes.
Free of antibiotics and drugs, with the health of your horse in mind.
GI support for your horse The equine gastrointestinal (GI) tract is an extensive set of organs that must efficiently function together to support adequate nutrition for the horse, so he can maintain a cooperative working attitude and pleasant disposition. Equine GI Support from Standard Process Veterinary Formulas™ contains a variety of whole foods and other ingredients that may support liver and GI tract detoxification pathways, the intestinal wall lining, healthy bacterial populations in the hindgut, and oxidation processes.
What we love:
Ingredients for their nutritional supplements come from their own organic farms!
What we love: What we love: They make it easy to feed your horse a healthy, natural, wellbalanced diet.
Filling nutritional gaps Vermont Blend Pro Supplement is formulated to fill the nutritional gaps in your horse’s forage, promote healthy hooves, and support her digestive system. It provides high levels of minerals to balance forage and support optimum hoof health; amino acids for topline and muscle support; and probiotics for digestive health. Low in sugar and starch, it’s safe for metabolic horses. No added iron, no soy, or inactive ingredients.
Vitamin, mineral and digestive aid EquiPride and its companion EquiLix are all-in-one supplements featuring ProBiotein®, a multi-prebiotic fiber blend with enzymes, Omega-3, protein isolates, fermentation metabolites, chelated trace minerals, macro minerals and vitamins. They’re formulated to support improved nutrient utilization from your horse’s forage, as well as the immune system, hooves, coat, joints, circulation and gastric health. Both products are fermented and have no molasses. Available with garlic.
It works great internally and makes a great hoof poultice too!
Safe and healthy detox Bentonite Clay is known for its amazing drawing properties, and can safely and naturally detoxify your horse of heavy metals and chemicals. It can be used internally and externally, and is very helpful for digestive issues such as loose stool, diarrhea and fecal water. This clay has also healed ulcers, chronic pain, and even split hooves in horses. Customers have reported vast improvements in their horses’ hoof quality while using this product.
Essential minerals for your horse Sometimes forage doesn’t contain all the necessary minerals for your horse’s optimum health. Nutrena EquiMin® is for horses that need additional mineral supplementation for their existing grain and forage diet. It is designed as a vitamin/mineral supplement for forage-only feeding programs, and to balance the diets of horses fed non-fortified or small amounts of grain.
What we love: Easy keepers and hard keepers can use the same block.
What we love: Both products feature a special yeast culture prebiotic blend.
Red light therapy heals Time with your horse is too precious to be limited by pain or injury. Photonic Health devices are designed specifically for horses and address numerous issues quickly and easily, all with one device. The company provides the tools and education you need to give your horse the happy, healthy, pain-free life he deserves. Some of the conditions light therapy can help with include acute injuries, allergies, lead change issues, colic, lameness, hyoid laminitis, navicular viral infections and more.
What we love: Cavallo gives a portion of their profits to support horses and people in need.
Multipurpose hoof boots Have you been hesitant about trying hoof boots on your horse? Confront your concerns and replace them with facts. Cavallo Boots are designed to stay in place and protect your horse’s hooves while riding in any terrain, and once you know how to use them, that’s exactly what they do! While there are many hoof boots on the market, not all are made to stay on and last like Cavallo’s.
What we love: It’s easy to use and addresses a wide range of healing issues.
What we love: Backed by over 80 years of experience in holistic nutritional science.
Science-backed electrolytes Dyna Spark provides a unique electrolyte balance and addresses the subtle physiological requirements of a working horse — whether she’s in training, competing, foaling, or even recovering from injury. It comes at electrolytes from a different, natural perspective by supporting the physiology of exercise and the metabolic cycles that lead to energy production, sweat, nerve impulses, and muscle function. It’s free of refined sugar and contains nothing artificial.
Blue-green algae for the win There was a time when nutrient-rich grasses were a staple around the globe, and horses thrived because of it. Today, depleted soil conditions are the norm, and commercially-produced hays are low in nutrients. Help is available from the simplest of all lifeforms — blue-green algae. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is a singlecell organism with a full spectrum of over 64 perfectly balanced, naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids to return your horse to a state of health.
What we love: Their products are guaranteed for purity and results.
How stress and exercise affect your horse’s ability to learn
f your horse doesn’t seem to be catching on when you’re training or teaching him, it could be due to stress. Conversely, if he’s passing with flying colors, it could be caused by exercise! Both stress and exercise can have an impact on his learning ability due to the release of a variety of neurotransmitters. A recent study* that explored this phenomenon involved 41 horses that were divided into groups and either assigned to a calm, ridden exercise session, exposed to unpredictable and uncontrollable stress, or given a period of inactivity. They were then evaluated on their ability to master a learning task that involved being tapped with a training whip on the hindquarters until they responded by moving sideways. The researchers expected the exercised horses to demonstrate more learning ability than the others, and this is what occurred. The exercised horses achieved the task in the fewest number of trials as compared to the stressed and inactive horses, whose performances did not differ. The study found that concentrations of cortisol (associated with stress) in the exercised horses’ saliva decreased during learning, whereas the cortisol concentrations of the other groups increased. The horses with the highest cortisol required the most trials to meet the criterion of the learning task.
In short, exercise prior to learning may enhance a horse’s learning ability, while activities that expose him to uncontrollable stressors causing strong cortisol release may impair learning. The study suggests that these effects may be due to the influence of neurotransmitters, such as cortisol and noradrenaline, on regions of the brain that are responsible for learning. Next time you want to teach your horse something, a short, stress-free ride before the training session might ensure more success!
*Henshall, C., Randle, H., Francis, N. et al. The effect of stress and exercise on the learning performance of horses. Sci Rep 12, 1918 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/ s41598-021-03582-4.
The Sturdy Horse harnesses the POWER OF HEMP This company creates healthy hemp products for your horse, pets and you.
For many years, Monte and Andrea Robertson have been passionate about the power of using real food for horses, pets, and humans. They believe that giving horses real feed is one of the best ways to support them in becoming the healthiest version of themselves. As a veterinary technician, Andrea was well-versed in helping animals in need. She knew that hemp seed is packed with nutritional benefits for horses and decided to legally import hemp from Canada before it was legal to even grow hemp in the U.S.
EXPERIENCING THE POWERFUL EFFECTS OF HEMP Andrea and Monte wanted to test the effectiveness of hemp feed on their own and other people’s horses, and soon found themselves helping abandoned or orphaned foals and colts as well as full-grown feral horses with their hemp products. With each horse, they learned more and more about the powerful effects of hemp. Armed with this information, they set out to make things better for as many more horses as possible.
GAINING MOMENTUM When Colorado became one of the first states to approve the growing of hemp in 2014, Monte founded the San Luis Valley Hemp Company® (SLV Hemp) to research, develop and manufacture products made from hemp seeds. “As I witnessed the dramatic changes taking place on our farm and with friend’s animals, I made a decision to dedicate myself to learning the ins and outs of producing this powerful superfood,” Monte says. As a result, SLV Hemp became the exclusive manufacturer of The Sturdy Horse™ hemp products.
In 2016, a groundswell of interest in CBD products began, so the Robertsons started the HEAL® brand of quality hempbased CBD products. These products were intended to help both humans and animals thrive naturally.
QUALITY GUARANTEE The company’s CBD lab holds long-standing certification for both ISO 9001 and GMP. They were the first in the state of Colorado to obtain these regulatory certifications. While there are currently no governmental regulations on CBD, Andrea and Monte aim to stay ahead of the curve and consistently do things the right way. Every hemp product has been independently tested by an accredited third party lab right from the beginning.
SUPPORTING RESEARCH “Throughout our journey, nutrition from hemp products has been our main focus — feeding the health and well-being of the horse from the ground up,” Monte says. That’s why SLV Hemp is proud to support the Hemp Feed Coalition by processing hemp seed as hemp feed for animal studies at major universities around the country. The company currently supports trials at Tarleton State University and Texas A&M. Monte says: “Our hope is to leave things in a little better shape than we found them and help make the world a better place through The Sturdy Horse.” sturdyhorse.com
By Hilary Self
to boost your horse’s These herbs can help protect your horse from illness and infection by giving his immunity a boost.
our horse’s immune system defends him against the toxins and pathogens that lead to illness and disease. Instead of reaching for antibiotics when your horse gets sick, take a look at how you can help him fight infections with immune-strengthening herbs from nature’s medicine cabinet.
NATURAL IMMUNITY When a foal is born, he obtains his first antibodies (which attack and destroy pathogens before they can cause disease) by drinking his mother’s colostrum. This colostrum is packed with the antibodies the mother has built up in her own body. Throughout his life, a horse will continue to build up various antibodies to the pathogens he encounters, helping to develop a strong immune response. Unfortunately, if an animal is in poor health, rundown, malnourished, stressed, or has had his immunity weakened by chronic use of certain medications or antibiotics, his body may struggle to mount an effective defense against infection, whether viral, bacterial, protozoal or fungal. The overuse of antibiotics has played a significant role in creating antibioticresistant pathogens. These pathogens have learned to adapt and mutate in order to overcome destruction by antibiotics.
HERBAL MEDICINE Herbal medicine has much to offer in this respect, because medicinal herbs possess a variety of actions — antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic and antiprotozoal. Medicinal herbs can be regarded as “active” medicines. They contain multiple constituents, giving them actions that pathogens are 36
unable to “read” the same way they do the isolated chemicals in conventional antibiotics. Herbal medicine is infinitely adaptive — because herbs each have such a broad range of active constituents, they can “multi-task”, helping the horse’s immune system respond to attack in a variety of ways.
TYPES OF MEDICINAL HERBS
Anti-infective, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiprotozoal
These plants have active constituents that are destructive to harmful bacteria, fungus or protozoa. Garlic (Allium sativum) — Garlic is antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral, and immune-enhancing. It contains volatile oil compounds thought to be responsible for most of the herb’s properties. Garlic was used widely as an antiseptic before the discovery of modern antibiotics, and was the main course of treatment for preventing gangrene in the trenches during the two World Wars. Its antiseptic action was subsequently confirmed in modern clinical studies, which showed it will inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Bacillus, Brucella, E. coli, Salmonella, Klebsiella and Mycobacteria. Studies have also confirmed garlic’s antibacterial
effects and have demonstrated that it can effectively inhibit the growth of some of the bacterial strains that have become resistant to modern antibiotics! Garlic has also been shown to inhibit the growth of Candida albicans and to be more effective as an antifungal than orthodox antifungal preparations. Burdock (Arctium lappa) — This plant is known as the “power digger” of the herb world because of its ability to remove toxins from cells and encourage their removal from the body. It is particularly effective for skin conditions, septic disorders, and any chronic inflammatory condition. Burdock is absolutely safe to use long-term, and combines particularly well with garlic for any chronic infective condition. Marigold (Calendula officinalis) — Marigold is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal and immune-stimulatory. All these actions have been confirmed by research in which tinctures of calendula showed activity against E. coli, Staph aureus and Strep feacali. The antiviral and antiprotozoal action comes from the resins and volatile oil contained in the plant, while the antibacterial action is due to marigold’s watersoluble glycoside constituents. Calendula is known as the supreme herb for the skin, and can be used either internally or topically as an oil, decoction, compress or tincture. Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) — Containing the glycoside aucubin (as does plantain), this herb has been shown to have antiseptic action on the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract. When used externally as an eyebath or compress, it can help control eye infections and ulceration. To make an eyebath, put approximately 3 g of dried eyebright and 100 ml of water in a small saucepan. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then simmer gently with the lid on for three to five minutes. Allow to cool, then strain. The strained liquid (tea) can be stored in an airtight sterilized container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Don’t waste the herb you have used to make the tea — just add it to your horse’s food. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) — Thyme is both an astringent and disinfectant. It contains thymol, which is antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, antifungal and antiseptic. It can be used both internally and externally. Thyme is excellent when used as an antiseptic expectorant for the respiratory system, and as a disinfectant for the urinary system. Externally, it can be used for bathing wounds and as a skin wash.
for bodily systems The following herbs can be used for their antiseptic action on specific physiological systems:
Urinary — juniper, bearberry, buchu, celery seed, couch grass
Respiratory — garlic, plantain, eyebright, sage, thyme, Echinacea
Digestive — goldenseal, chamomile, garlic Respiratory — Echinacea, thyme, garlic, eyebright
Lymphatic — cleaver, poke root, burdock
Alteratives, depuratives, detoxers
These plants contain constituents that, rather than having a direct effect on pathogens (although some do), support and restore the normal functions of the affected organ or system, helping to remove toxic waste and improve overall immunity and resistance to infection. Kidneys and urinary system — dandelion leaf, couch grass, bearberry (Uva ursi), celery seed, horseradish Liver — milk thistle, dandelion root, yellow dock Lymphatic system — cleaver, poke root, marigold, Echinacea, burdock Respiratory system — garlic, elecampane, thyme, liquorice, plantain, horseradish Skin — cleaver, marigold, burdock, red clover, yellow dock Digestive system — goldenseal, sarsaparilla
Adaptogens have been shown to help the body “adapt” and mobilise its own defence systems to reduce the effects of stress, which can contribute to depleting the immune system. They involve the action of the whole plant rather than individual constituents, which can affect different types of cells. Adaptogens exert influence on many different types of cells in the body — this contrasts to chemical drugs which tend to have a direct action on particular tissues or systems. Adaptogens include gotu kola, Siberian ginseng, don quai, borage, sarsaparilla, withania, and various medicinal mushrooms.
Immune activators, stimulants, modulators
These plants don’t target specific pathogens, but work by strengthening non-specific immunity; they do this by stimulating and enhancing the body’s overall immune response. The body’s natural resistance to infection is boosted by the increased production of cells responsible for attacking bacteria and invading pathogens. Plantain (Plantago major) — This plant contains polysaccharides, which increase phagocytosis (the immune cells responsible for removing pathogens from the body), producing an immune-stimulating action. Purple coneflower (Echinacea spp. purpurea, angustifolia, pallida) — No article on immunity would be complete without mentioning Echinacea! This herb has immune-modulating, antimicrobial, antiseptic and antibiotic effects. Knowledge about the use of Echinacea first came from the Native Americans, who used it for varied conditions such as snakebite, septic wounds, syphilis, typhus, dysentery, and even cancer. It is generally accepted that the plant’s antibacterial and antiviral activities result from the individual’s enhanced immunity. Both the aerial parts and the roots are used in herbal medicine, although my personal preference is to use the roots of Echinacea purpurea. This plant is particularly effective for any upper respiratory tract infection such as colds or flu, and I have used it with great success for horses with URT infection. Echinacea has been the subject of a great deal of research, much of which confirms its immune-modulatory action. This action can increase phagocytosis while also stimulating the production of lymphocytes, including natural killer cells, T cells and B cells, all of which are found in the lymph and are responsible for the body’s cell-mediated immune response. Extracts from the roots of various Echinacea species have been shown to have an antiviral effect against the herpes simple and influenza virus.
Pau d’arco (Tabebuia spp) — This herb is immuno-stimulating, anti-tumor, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antiviral and depurative. The inner bark of the tree contains lapachol, which is thought to possess significant immune-enhancing and anti-tumor activities. Pau d’arco tincture can be used internally for digestive infections, and topically for skin diseases, fungal infections such as ringworm, and Candida albicans. It should be noted,
however, that because of the bark’s napathaquinone content (which has a warfarin-like action), this herb is contraindicated for individuals on anti-coagulants. Hopefully, this foray into the wonderful and powerful world of herbal medicine has given you some insight into how something as simple as a plant can have a prolonged and dramatic effect on something as complex as immunity! Hilary Self is cofounder of Hilton Herbs Ltd., a company that manufactures and formulates herbal supplements for animals. She is a Medical Herbalist, a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, and a member of the NASC Scientific Advisory Committee. Hilary is the author of two books: A Modern Horse Herbal and A Veteran Horse Herbal. HiltonHerbs.com
Easy tips to
Safely change your horse’s feed By Thomas Glare
You probably know your horse’s nutrition is key to his overall health. But do you know what happens if you need to change his diet? Find out how to make the transition as safe and easy as possible.
hether your equine com-panion is a pleasure horse or a racing champion, his diet is extremely important. Because sudden changes to what he eats can cause adverse effects, it’s important to know how to make the necessary feed changes without affecting his health in a negative way. Here are three tips that’ll help you make the transition!
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH Before you change your horse’s feed, it’s important to consider his current nutritional needs. If your equine companion is losing weight, for instance, you must ensure that his new feed doesn’t have less protein or fat than his previous feed. If he has Cushing’s disease, his new feed will have to be low in sugar and starch. It’s a good idea to consult with your vet before making any changes to your horse’s diet. He or she will be able to recommend the best option and will let you know if keeping your horse on the same feed with a few minor adjustments is more advisable than changing it completely.
2. TRANSITION HIS FEED SLOWLY Opinions differ regarding how long a transition period to a new feed should last. Some experts believe you should change feed gradually over a week, while others recommend stretching it to three or four weeks. Whenever possible, stretch the transition for as long as possible. If your horse has an extremely sensitive digestive system, extending the feed change will help prevent potential medical issues or digestive disorders that the transition may cause Start by adding a small amount of the new feed into your horse’s current food. Once he gets used to it, reduce the old feed and add an equal amount of the new feed. For example, if your horse gets 5 cups of feed each mealtime, give him 4½ cups of his old feed and ½ cup of the new feed. Let him adjust to this change for a few days, and then switch to a ratio of 4:1 – 4 cups of the old feed and 1 cup of the new feed. Continue this until he’s only getting the new feed. Why is this important? Suppose you want to give your horse a highly fermentable diet or one that’s richer in nutrients than he’s used to eating. In order to ensure his digestive system — and his intestinal bacteria population — can handle the new diet, it’s crucial to allow it time to adjust.
3. KEEP AN EYE ON HIM! For up to a month after you switch your horse’s feed, keep an eye out for digestive issues. Check for loose manure, decreased appetite, and colic. If he experiences a digestive problem, stop transitioning to the new feed until you’ve dealt with the issue conclusively. If you’ve already switched him completely to his new feed, don’t just switch back when you notice an issue. Instead, monitor his health and consult with your veterinarian if the digestive issues persist.
Different situations may necessitate a change to your horse’s diet. For example, if his nutritional needs change, or you have a short supply of hay, you will have to cater to such changes. Making sudden nutritional changes isn’t ideal, so try to work with a nutritionist and veterinarian to guide you through the process — and be sure to take it slow! Thomas Glare is just a regular guy who loves horses. He is a father of two wonderful boys and has been a journalist since 2015. A Grand National enthusiast, Thomas covered the event live multiple times in the past few years.
How our relationships
with our horses influence the decisions we make for them I
f you’re like most horse caretakers, you enjoy a strong bond with your equine companion. According to a UK study published in VetRecord in 2021,* this bond plays a significant role in the decisions you will make for your horse over his lifetime.
A thematic analysis of the study results revealed that most respondents — a whopping 92.9% in fact — consider their horses to be family members. Additionally, on average, they spent £9,215 on their horses each year — that translates to around $11,500 US dollars.
The study involved 938 horse caretakers who responded to an online survey asking them about their relationships with their horses, and their experiences when it came to making decisions about the animals’ care. Eleven respondents then took part in two semi-structured telephone interviews that focused on their experiences of both the purchase and euthanization of horses. The interviews covered several themes, including the financial, time, welfare and personal obligations involved in horse guardianship; the horses’ quality of life; and the guilt and grief surrounding euthanasia decisions.
The study concluded that the vast majority of horse caretakers have strong bonds with their horses, and that this bond heightens their commitment to the significant obligations involved in keeping horses, as well as the emotional impacts of euthanasia.
*Clough H, Roshier M, England G, Burford J, Freeman S. Qualitative study of the influence of horse-owner relationship during some key events within a horse's lifetime. Vet Rec. 2021 Mar;188(6):e79. doi: 10.1002/vetr.79. Epub 2021 Jan 28. PMID: 33739494, https://pubmed. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33739494/.
Maximizing the effects of your horse’s supplements By Abe Scheaff
Adding supplements to your horse’s diet is a great way to maximize his health. To take it a step further, choose supplements that optimize the nutrient availability of the food he’s eating. When supplementing the equine diet, a common challenge is finding and using products that complement the forage currently being used. Grain-based complete feeds may be convenient for delivering additional protein, energy, vitamins and minerals; however, they don’t offer the same benefits as supplements in other forms, such as lick blocks and feed additives.
THE BENEFITS OF FERMENTATION The key to effective supplementation is to use supplements that digest and then ferment, in the cecum, at a similar rate to the base diet. An excellent source of complementary energy and protein is dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) and condensed distillers solubles (CDS). These low non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) ingredients optimize the diet that forage-fed horses have available. A non-molasses lick block form of mineral supplementation, such as EquiLix® from SweetPro Feeds, enables forage digesters to consume the supplement in multiple meals or snacks throughout the day. This pattern of consumption optimizes cecum fermentation and nutrient utilization, as it provides small quantities multiple times throughout the day, resulting in a consistent flow of gut contents.
This takes full advantage of all the nutritional components in the supplement as well as the forages being consumed.
PREBIOTIC FIBERS Another key factor in optimizing cecum fermentation is the inclusion of prebiotic fibers. Prebiotics feed the resident good fiber-digesting bacteria of the equine gut microbiome and support their populations. When bacterial populations are diverse they are able to take greater advantage of nutrients in the ration. Prebiotic fibers to look for in the equine diet include AXOS (arabinoxylo oligosaccharide), XOS (xylo oligosaccharide), MOS (mannan oligosaccharide) and beta-glucan. The more compatible energy and protein sources are with the equine fiber-based digestive system, the more nutrients and tools from forage the horse can utilize. Dr. Abe Scheaffer’s passion within animal and human nutrition is the physiology of nutrients — tracking, evaluating and understanding how consumed nutrients are processed and prioritized in the body. His interests range from the GI microbiome to the processing of nutrients for achieving production goals in animal agriculture. Dr. Abe has a BS in Biology from Northwestern College of Iowa, a MS and PhD from North Dakota State University and post-doctoral research fellowship at Colorado State University. His academic experience was structured around metabolic physiology and he continues to pursue that field as VP of Science and Nutrition at SweetPro (Abe.Scheaffer@SweetPro.com).
Sh el le y
Pa ul so n
AN INSIDE LOOK AT
By Sara Jordan-Heintz
Horse photographers work to capture an equine’s essence — and that’s no small feat! Learn more about how they do it.
orking with clients that take time to warm up to strangers, may frighten easily and weigh between 900 and 2,000 pounds comes with the territory when you’re a horse photographer. Whether they're taking fine art portraits, candid snaps, or are shooting weddings that take place on horse farms, equine photographers have a big job — literally!
TIPS FROM THE PROS In this article, equine photographers Jeni Brunner and Shelley Paulson share tips on working with horses, how to connect with them, and what keeps these photographers so in love with their profession. Jeni, owner of Jeni Jo Photography, is based in Wenatchee, Washington. She travels the United States with the goal of capturing the relationship between horse and rider in a variety of settings: beaches, cityscapes, sand dunes, flowery meadows, rivers, mountains and more. 44
Photo byJeni Brunner
For Jeni Brunner, a strong connection between horse and rider is a key to good shots.
She notes that a skilled equine photographer must possess general knowledge about horses in order to stay safe, as well about as the client and anyone else in the vicinity. “There’s a lot of liability when working with horses (and animals in general) so strong contracts and good communication are key if you want to work in the industry,” Jeni says. Shelley owns a self-titled photography business in Buffalo, Minnesota, offering equine commercial and editorial photography and videography. She says that having a calm demeanor is important when working with horses. “When I show up to a photoshoot, I usually walk in the barn without my camera. I want to gently meet the horse and make a calm connection with him so he doesn’t see me as a threat,” she says. “During the photo session, I try to keep my energy quiet, yet confident, unless we’re chasing the horses around to get athletic photos at liberty.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTION The stronger the relationship a rider has with a horse, the higher quality the photograph will be. “First and foremost, there needs to be a bond between the horse and rider for me to be able to capture it,” Jeni says. “My entire business revolves around that bond. If a girl is afraid or doesn’t know her horse well, the photos likely won’t turn out as planned.
There also should be mutual respect between the two for the rider to be able to ask certain things from the horse. This takes lots of time, consistency and bonding in the saddle as well as on the ground. There are always outliers though…I’ve photographed very new teams, where the girl has only owned the horse for a few days and the bond is already incredibly strong. That’s rare but very special.”
PASSION MATTERS It takes time to become a skilled horse photographer, and a love of horses is a definite requirement. Jeni began riding at age five, showed in 4H, AQHA breed shows, and WAHSET (the high school equestrian team for her state). For her 20th birthday, she received a camera. “I played around with landscape photography for a while, since I was really into hiking during that time. But I soon found myself in the fashion photography world, traveling to Seattle almost every weekend and shooting with models for magazines and various clothing companies. It wasn’t until I was asked by a friend to take photos of her and her horse that I realized how much I missed being around horses.”
Shelley Paulson stresses the importance of a calm and confident demeanor when photographing horses.
HOW IT DIFFERS FROM PHOTOGRAPHING HUMANS Both Jeni and Shelley say that shooting images of horses differs greatly from merely snapping pictures of humans. “The biggest difference is that the photographer really needs to understand horse handling,” says Shelley. “From a safety standpoint, you need to be able to read when a horse is starting to build up nervous energy and know how to diffuse it, and also know what you should or shouldn’t do when posing a person with a horse so the person stays safe. From a photography standpoint, you need to know how to make a horse look his best. The subtleties of that come from a lot of time and experience with horses.”
CALMNESS IS KEY “Horse photography requires a lot of patience,” adds Jeni. “At every session, I’m always at the mercy of the horse. It doesn’t matter if there’s a pose I really want to do or a certain location the client wants to go to; if the horse doesn’t want to make it happen, we have to be flexible with our plans and always go with the flow of the horse.” Horse photography is a fine art. With proper technique, handling and composure, the results will be worth the effort. Sara Jordan-Heintz is a newspaper and magazine journalist. Her articles have appeared in Antique Trader, Farm Collector and Discover Vintage America, among other publications. She is a recipient of the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award. Her work is regularly published through the USA Today Network. Sara is the author of the classic cinema book Going Hollywood: Midwesterners in Movieland. She lives in Iowa with her husband Andy Heintz, and their tuxedo cat Madeline. 46
TYPES OF HORSE PHOTOGRAPHY Curious about the different types of horse photography? Here are a few of the most common! • EQUINE FINE ART PORTRAITS • FASHION EDITORIALS • CANDID SHOTS • HORSE SHOWS/ SHOW ADVERTISING
• FOAL PHOTOS • FAMILY PHOTOS • SENIOR/RETIREE PORTRAITS • ENGAGEMENT AND WEDDING PHOTOS
CHRONIC STRESS AND YOUR HORSE’S ADRENALS
– how adaptogenic herbs can help
We all experience stress every day, and our horses are no exception. As a result, our bodies strive to adapt in order to stay balanced and healthy. As prey animals, horses have strong senses so they can detect danger from a great distance away, and they’re designed to quickly drop into fight or flight mode. But some horses, due to chronic stress, can get stuck living in the fight or flight state, which weakens the adrenal glands, depletes the body’s nutrient stores, and compromises the whole immune system.
EFFECTS OF CHRONIC STRESS Chronic stress can occur for many reasons — limited turnout, solitary living, harsh training methods, an intense travel schedule, being a rescue, poor diet, injury lay-up, chronic illnesses and more. When left unchecked, stress taxes the adrenal glands, leading to increased cortisol production and other hormonal imbalances. Additional effects include dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, central nervous system disorders, lowered immunity, muscle weakness anhidrosis, moodiness and more. Ultimately, stress threatens homeostasis, which is the body’s steady state of equilibrium, characterized by normal body temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar, pulse rate, etc.
ADRENAL HEALTH IS KEY In order to maintain homeostasis and avoid the negative effects of stress, adrenal health support is critical. The adrenals are small glands that sit atop the kidneys and are integral to the equine endocrine system. They help regulate over 50 different hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, as well as electrolytes, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. They’re also the open/close
switch for all elimination channels, which means proper adrenal function is critical to your horse’s ability to detoxify and rid his body of harmful waste materials.
WHY ADAPTOGENIC HERBS? While it’s common to reach for magnesium supplements to manage a stressed or anxious horse (and raspberry leaves are a favorite source), adaptogenic herbs can support his body on a deeper level by nourishing the adrenals. The term “adaptogen” was coined by scientist Nikolai Lazarav in the 1940s, but these herbs have been trusted for thousands of years and have been used in various combinations. Adaptogens can increase your horse’s resistance to stress, reduce anxiety and depression, support metabolic function, and improve energy and focus. By helping to normalize cortisol levels and supporting the HPA-axis, adaptogens can be particularly helpful for Cushing’s disease and insulin resistance. Many adaptogens can be used for horses, but Yucc’ It Up!’s favorites are holy basil, ashwagandha root, rhodiola rosea, schisandra berry, astragalus root, Reishi mushroom, jiaogulan, and valerian root. Certain adaptogens are better for relaxation and sleep, while others support energy and focus, so you need to select the combination that may best suit your horse’s needs. Overall, adaptogenic herbs nourish and rebalance the adrenals, strengthening the entire immune system. For success, be sure to faithfully supplement your horse with adaptogens — and feel good knowing you’re offering your horse ancient remedies that can restore him physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Yuccitup.com Equine Wellness
kies Nutritious c for your horse! By Dr. Suzi Beber, Honoris causa
This recipe incorporates applesauce and other wholesome ingredients for a nutritious treat your horse will love.
Healthy Horse Cookies Recipe Your horse deserves an extra something special. These treats are packed with healthful ingredients your horse will enjoy and benefit from, and you can eat them too! Choose organic ingredients whenever possible.
INGREDIENTS 4 cups whole flour (e.g. whole oat, hemp) ½ cup oatmeal or hemp hearts 1 whole egg ¼ cup maple syrup* 1¼ cups applesauce 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 teaspoons baking powder (e.g. a certified organic, rice based, glutenand aluminum-free product) 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon 1 teaspoon finely crushed dried mint leaves (if your horse likes the taste of mint) Extra flour for rolling out dough Dehydrated maple syrup and sundried, unsulfured cranberries for garnish *For insulin resistant horses, use filtered water or brown rice syrup in place of maple syrup.
Dr. Suzi Beber has been creating special needs diets for animals for two decades. She founded the University of Guelph’s Smiling Blue Skies® Cancer Fund and Smiling Blue Skies® Fund for Innovative Research. She received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the University of Guelph/Ontario Veterinary College. The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund received the “Pets + Us” Community Outreach Champion Award. 48
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INSTRUCTIONS Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. The dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl when it is ready to be kneaded and rolled out. Sprinkle a cutting board or countertop with flour. Divide your cookie dough into four balls, knead each one well, then roll them out separately and cut into squares or other desired shapes. Place on cookie sheet and garnish with cranberries and/or a sprinkle of dehydrated maple syrup. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden in color. Cool completely before storing in an open bowl. This recipe makes 45 large cookies.
Tasty & healthy ingredients MAPLE SYRUP Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of zinc, which work together to support the immune system, and help to lessen inflammation. BROWN RICE SYRUP This nutritive sweetener is about half as sweet as sugar and is a good source of minerals. It is gluten free and has a low value on the glycemic index. To use in place of regular sugar, use 1 to 1¼ cups of brown rice syrup for every cup of sugar, and use ¼ cup less liquid than the recipe calls for. CINNAMON In the West, the inner bark of this familiar spice is used primarily for digestive upsets, indigestion and diarrhea. In China, cinnamon is considered a good energizing herb. Cinnamon is perfect to spice up treats for your horse; research shows it may help support horses with insulin resistance.
Solutions to to Help Treat Solutions Help Treat Solutions to Help Treat and Prevent Colic and Prevent Colic and Prevent Colic
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4. WHY SHOULD I USE FIRSTCOL? 4. WHY SHOULD I USE FIRSTCOL? Because the ingredients source of live (viable) 4. WHY SHOULDcontain I USE aFIRSTCOL?
Your equine will have a shiner coat and overall good health and stamina. Your equine will have a shiner coat and overall good health and stamina. and stamina.
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BY SUPPORTING THE
CORONARY BAND By Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis
The coronary band is essential to the health of your horse’s hooves and his body as a whole. Here’s how stimulating it with acupressure can help improve his balance and overall well-being.
Not only is the coronary band essential to your horse’s hoof health — it is hugely significant for the health of his entire body. In Chinese Medicine, specific acupressure points along the coronary band and between the heel bulbs can nourish and balance the energy and internal organs’ capacity to function optimally. When stimulating these particular acupressure points, also called “acupoints,” you are supporting the horse’s overall health.
JING-WELL POINTS The acupoints located along the coronary band are called the “Jing-Well Points.” Jing is pronounced with a soft vibrational “J” sound. What makes these points so special is that the chi, life-promoting energy, is said to “bubble up” to the surface, thus making it highly available for stimulation. These acupoints are exactly where all the major energy channels that connect with the internal organs begin, end, and connect with each other, giving them super power.
Some Chinese medicine practitioners use only the Jing-Well points to balance the entire body. Think of a light bulb; by connecting two opposite charges, positive and negative, the bulb receives the energy it needs to light up. It’s the
Foreleg Jing-Well Points
Foreleg Jing-Well Points
Hindleg Jing-Well Points
same with the energy in the horse’s body. By connecting the yin and yang chi along the coronary band, you are stimulating the energy the horse needs to nourish and balance his body.
Stay on each acupoint (see charts) for a slow count of 12 and then move on to the next Jing-Well point. It doesn’t matter which leg you start with — what matters is making three rotations, pressing along the coronary band on all four legs.
Hindleg Jing-Well Point - Ki 1
ACUPOINT STIMULATING TECHNIQUE Here is how you can consistently support your horse’s health. To stimulate the JingWell points, use the soft tip of your
thumb and press down gently, yet with intent, all around the coronary band, as well as in the back between the heel bulbs (see photo above). When moving from one point to another, it feels good to slide into the area from just above the actual point.
As you can see in the photographs, an abbreviation and number are associated with each Jing-Well point. The abb-reviations indicate which internal organ system the acupoint is stimulating and balancing, and the number indicates which point it’s located at on the channel. For instance, when you are pressing Heart 9 (Ht 9) you are enhancing the flow of energy to the heart channel, thus clearing and balancing it. By circling the coronary band, you are effectively creating the harmonious flow of chi and other vital substances throughout the horse’s body. Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis are the authors of ACU-DOG: A Guide to Canine Acupressure, ACU-CAT: A Guide to Feline Acupressure, and ACU-HORSE: A Guide to Equine Acupressure. They founded Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Resources, which offers books, manuals, online training courses, DVDs, apps, meridian charts, consulting, and more acupressure learning tools (animalacupressure.com, email@example.com).
ORGAN ABBREVIATIONS Lung Lu Large Intestine
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What horse caretakers need to know about
Salmonella By Kelly Diehl, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM
Knowing the facts about Salmonella and how it can affect your horse is key to control, prevention and treatment.
hen most people think about Salmonella, images of raw eggs, pet reptiles, and supermarket recalls come to mind. But horse caretakers know this bacterium can cause serious — and sometimes life-threatening — disease in their horses as well. It’s important that caretakers know the latest information about the disease and what they can do to protect their horses and themselves from infection.
Even in horses with no clinical signs, Salmonella can be shed through feces into the environment, providing a source of infection for other horses as well as for other animals and people. In addition, horses that have subclinical infections can develop clinical disease if they are stressed.
BASIC BIOLOGY Salmonella are bacteria that have worldwide distribution and can be isolated from the intestinal tracts of many species of animals and humans. Although the bacteria prefer to live in the intestinal tract, Salmonella can persist in the environment, surviving weeks to years, but are susceptible to drying, UV light, freezing temperatures, and common disinfectants. They can survive adverse conditions if they are somewhat protected — for example in a crack or crevice, under a mat, in a fecal ball, etc. Salmonella infects new individuals when they ingest the bacteria. The organism is common, and many infected animals (and people) show no clinical signs (subclinical infection). Evidence suggests that Salmonella is more likely to cause disease in horses exposed to high numbers of bacteria; or those that have strained or immature immune systems, such as foals or horses suffering from other illnesses.
New thoughts on managing Salmonella infections in horses The good news coming from recent research is that we’re learning better ways to manage Salmonella infections, as well as practical, inexpensive measures caretakers can take on the farm. Since infection is associated with stress, caretakers can implement practices that reduce stress in their horses. This includes routine veterinary care, since other illnesses can contribute to stress and infection. Horse caretakers also need to exercise good hygiene when they interact with their horses, making sure to wash hands and keep equipment clean.
The most common signs of Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) in horses include: •
Lethargy and poor appetite
Lastly, caretakers can take basic precautions if they have a horse that is not ill, or is recuperating, but is shedding Salmonella. Dr. Brandy Burgess, an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia, has done several studies on Salmonella in horses. “We did a study in Kentucky on horses that were shedding Salmonella but not ill,” she noted in a recent interview. “We found that if people take some basic precautions, we didn't see increased levels of disease in stablemates. And we feel people can accomplish that at home successfully.”
DIAGNOSIS CAN BE TRICKY It might seem obvious that finding Salmonella in the stool of a sick horse would be a slam-dunk when it comes to diagnosis, but it’s not quite that simple. Salmonella in a horse’s stool doesn’t mean it is the cause of disease, nor is it an indication for treatment if a horse is healthy (more on this later). Diagnosis requires careful consideration of clinical signs, history and additional test results. Sometimes it can be challenging to identify Salmonella even when it is clinically important, and repeated testing might be necessary to pin down the diagnosis.
TREATMENT — ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL Treatment in clinically ill horses always includes supportive care measures such as IV fluids and electrolyte replacement, and gastrointestinal protectants. It might seem counterintuitive at first, but not all horses need antibiotic therapy as part of their treatment protocol. Antibiotics are indicated in cases where the chance of Salmonella entering the bloodstream are high, such as in horses with compromised immune systems. In horses that aren’t severely ill, or that have Salmonella noted in their feces but are not showing any clinical signs, there is no evidence that giving antibiotics improve long-term outcomes. Giving antibiotics to these horses can also contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.
PREVENTION AND CONTROL CAN BE DIFFICULT Because Salmonella can exist in the environment for long periods, elimination of the organism in a stable or outside environment can be challenging. Removing feces, harrowing to break up and spread any remaining feces (solution to pollution is dilution), and mowing grass to 4” to facilitate UV light penetration can help decrease this risk. The idea is to decrease contamination to a level that is of minimal consequence to the average horse (i.e. make it unlikely for a horse to be exposed to an “infectious dose”). And greater effort may need to be placed on this if your horse is more susceptible to infections (i.e. immune compromised). Isolation of infected animals is standard protocol when horses are treated in veterinary hospitals. Some experts recommend not allowing horses to eat off the ground at shows and events, and disinfecting shoes and any equipment. It’s also a good idea to isolate any new horses entering a new environment for two to three weeks, to ensure they’re healthy. A shorter period of isolation is also wise for horses returning to a farm after travel. Knowing the facts about Salmonella can help you keep your horses happy and healthy!
Dr. Kelly Diehl received her DVM from the University of Tennessee and started her practice career in an emergency clinic in New Jersey. She then completed an internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City, after which she moved west, completing a residency in small animal medicine at Colorado State University. Dr. Diehl joined the staff of the Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado as co-owner of the internal medicine section. After 14 years, she left private practice to pursue a career in medical communication and joined the Morris Animal Foundation team in 2013. Dr. Diehl is a board-certified small animal internal medicine specialist and a Certified Veterinary Journalist.
SPOTLIGHT Trauma-focused therapeutic riding is a valuable tool for people recovering from abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences. Here’s a closer look at the positive effects it can have on participants.
Riding through trauma:
how horses can help people
reconnect and recover By Lindsey Crosbie
WHAT IS TRAUMA-FOCUSED THERAPEUTIC RIDING? An emerging field that harnesses the healing power of horses, trauma-focused therapeutic riding helps people who have experienced violence, abuse, neglect, and abandonment. It can help people for whom all other interventions, including more conventional therapies, have failed. Horses make excellent therapists. They do not lie, they do not judge, and they have no hidden agenda. Even the most traumatized person can learn to trust a horse because horses are always congruent. When a horse looks frightened, he is frightened. As their responses are authentic, horses are trustworthy learning partners. They provide accurate feedback. Equine Wellness
HORSES AS MIRRORS In trauma-focused therapeutic riding, horses act as a living mirror, reflecting our emotional and physical states back to us. They are extremely sensitive to our emotions and can pick up on tiny visual and non-visual cues that tell them exactly how a rider is feeling. When a rider’s actions and intentions do not match, horses sense the discrepancy. They might become distracted or uncooperative. All riders have experienced a moment when their tension, fear, or frustration is being telegraphed down the reins to their mounts. The only remedy is to relax, breathe and focus. We are most effective in the saddle if our body language and tone of voice accurately reflect our inner emotions. Much of the work that takes place in a trauma-focused therapeutic riding lesson centers around the participant identifying her emotions, being clear about her intentions and ensuring that her vocal cues, body language and emotional state match up. The increased level of self-awareness that results can have life-changing consequences. Some participants find they have never been truly honest in their lives until they got on a horse. As prey animals, a horse is constantly alert to danger and can sense a predator’s hidden intent by simply observing its body language. Children like Lucas (see sidebar) who have survived traumatic experiences often exist in a similar hypervigilant state, constantly on the lookout for the next threat. They may have experienced trauma at a time before they were verbal and therefore struggle to process it in words. They identify with horses because they also communicate non-verbally and know how it feels to be prey. Many people who have been abandoned or neglected lack a sense of stability and security. When a mother doesn’t respond to her baby with strong positive emotions, its bloodstream is flooded with fight and flight chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. What began as emotional stress ends in brain damage as a lack of soothing sensory input causes neurons in some regions not to fire. Areas of the brain quite literally go dark. 58
THE BENEFITS OF SAFE PHYSICAL TOUCH When we groom or touch horses, oxytocin is released and both the person and horse are flooded with feel-good hormones. When we ride, the close bodily contact and the rocking motion mimics being held. When a child’s caregiver is involved in the lesson, the mutual release of oxytocin can facilitate bonding and the development of trust. The movement of the horse and the soothing sensory input it provides can also help calm the amygdala and reduce stress. Although trauma-focused therapeutic riding cannot erase neglect, trauma, or disordered attachment, one of the things it can do is help heal the areas of the brain that were affected, creating new neural pathways. The activities may vary, but our focus is always on the connection between human and horse. Horses can help people recover both physically and mentally after trauma, so they can reconnect with themselves, their environment, and other people.
EXPERIENCING TRAUMA-FOCUSED THERAPY WITH YOUR OWN HORSE This is an exercise you can try at home with your own horse. It can help you to both relax and focus fully on the present moment. It works best bareback. Before mounting, step back and look at your horse. Use your eyes to trace his outline, taking in all the details. Now step forward and mount. Take a good look at him up close. Pick out five different colors in his hair. Take a moment to use your hands to explore his coat and mane.
THERAPEUTIC RIDING IN ACTION What are four textures you can feel? What are three sounds your horse is making? What two scents can you smell? Take a deep breath in over your tongue. What can you taste in the air? What happens to your mental state when you focus on your senses?
Lucas*, a tiny eight-year-old whose growth was so stunted that he looks more like a toddler, wobbles in his saddle, listing to one side as he tries to dismount. He tries again but finds that this time he cannot quite lift his leg over the cantle. He sits for a minute, frowning, unsure. Lucas’ new adoptive dad is by his side, a hand on his leg, holding him steady. Lucas hesitates for a second, looks at him shyly from underneath the brim of his helmet. Then he holds out five shaky little fingers and says, “Daddy, can you help me?”
Now take a moment to notice your horse’s breath as his rib cage moves in and out. Close your eyes and breathe in sync for a while. Open your eyes and try to maintain the rhythm as you begin to ride. Do you feel an overwhelming sense of connection? That’s trauma-focused equine therapy at work.
Lucas’ dad, Mark*, a big man with a bald head, wraps his arms around the little boy, lifting him gently to the ground. As he does so, silent tears stream down his face. This is the first time that Lucas, who was so badly abused by his birth father that he did not speak for the first six months after being adopted, has ever asked for help. This is the first time he has trusted an adult man to keep him safe. This is just one moment in the life of a trauma-focused therapeutic riding instructor.
Lindsey Crosbie is a board-certified equine interaction professional and a PATH International certified therapeutic riding instructor. She is also a Natural Animal Centre equine behaviorist who has a special interest in rehabilitating rescued horses. Alongside her herd, she has spent the last decade helping women and children who have been neglected, abandoned, or abused to begin healing from trauma. To find out more, visit withhorses.org. Lindsey is the author of four books on equine assisted learning curricula, all of which can be purchased on amazon.co.uk.
* Please note that names and identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of clients and their families.
e a so n
WHAT’S NEW AND HOT THIS
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PASTURE SUPPLEMENT Horses receive their Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E through good quality pasture. Once hay has been cut and baled, however, these nutrients rapidly leach out. For horses on poor quality pasture, dry lots, or during the winter months, the OmegaE supplement provides 2,500 IU of natural vitamin E per serving, and the same amount of Omega-3 fatty acids your horse would receive from a full day on pasture.
TAILORED TO HIS TEMPERAMENT
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Different equine temperament types have a tendency to become depleted in certain nutrients. Horse Temperament’s all-natural Balance Formulas target these deficiencies, to balance your horse’s mind and nervous system. Learn your horse’s type and enhance her health and performance with these unique products, taking her to the next level! HorseTemperament.com
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RLT FOR MOSQUITOBORNE VIRUSES
COMBATTING ELEVATED INSULIN
Mosquito bites can’t be undone, but the rate at which the viruses they carry replicate can be limited. Photonic Health Red Light Therapy (RLT) stops mosquito-borne viruses in their tracks. It has two main mechanisms of action — it fights viral infection and boosts the immune system.
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KELP FOR YOUR HORSE Kelp can help boost the immune system, balance hormones, and lower high blood cholesterol levels. It also supports horses with symptoms of insulin resistance. The Holistic Horse’s Organic Icelandic Kelp is the highest quality kelp available. It is 100% organic and contains 60 trace minerals, micronutrients, and amino acids, as well as many natural vitamins.
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Should I have a
Chiropractor for my Horse? To answer this question you first need to understand what chiropractic is about, and how it can benefit your equine partner. By Bill Ormston, DVM
You’ve heard about chiropractors and may have even gone to one yourself, or know someone who has. But this modality isn’t just for humans. It can also be incredibly beneficial for your horse. Read on to learn more about chiropractic and what it can do for horses.
spinal cord to tell the body how to respond. The central nervous system is one big information highway, and it carries vital messages to every part of the horse’s body.
WHAT IS CHIROPRACTIC?
WHEN PROBLEMS ARISE
Chiropractic is a healthcare discipline that emphasizes the recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery. The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health.
Sometimes the wear and tear of everyday life can impact the spine and can cause spinal segments to move in an abnormal, dysfunctional way. That wear and tear can happen gradually, for example from bad posture; or it can happen suddenly, which is common with sports injuries. Because of the close relationship between the spine and nervous system, everyday strains can actually impact the flow of information and communication between the brain and the body.
Chiropractic assumes that every living body has some innate intelligence. Animal chiropractic care is about total health and wellbeing. It's about helping animals, including horses, feel great and get the most out of life by functioning at their optimum potential.
THE SPINE AND CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM The spine is there to protect the spinal cord, which is part of the central nervous system; it’s like a set of armor made up of segments that can bend and move naturally with the body. A spinal segment consists of two vertebrae and the joints that connect them. A disc between each vertebra acts as a cushion. Underneath that armor, a whole lot is happening. Messages travel from around the body up the spinal cord and into the brain. The brain processes those messages and sends replies back down the 62
Messages may not be delivered to the brain or they may be inaccurate. When miscommunication occurs due to abnormal movement in the spine, animal chiropractors call this a vertebral subluxation or chiropractic subluxation. By making fast gentle adjustments to the spine, certified animal chiropractors restore its natural movement.
CHIROPRACTIC IS A PROCESS, NOT A PROCEDURE The chiropractic adjustment and its immediate response are not the goal. The adjustment provides input to a system that uses the energy in the way that it is programmed for and capable of. The goal is to allow the system to sustain ease. Normal movement, normal physiology, and normal development. The
The Chiropractor as Mechanic If the central nervous system is like the engine of the body, a certified animal chiropractor acts as a mechanic, tuning the spine and central nervous system so the body can run like a racecar. Just keep in mind that as your horse is adjusted you may hear a popping sound that can seem a bit strange. In fact, it's completely harmless. It's just a release of gas from between the spinal segments and is no more significant than any other release of gas from the body.
goal is to allow the system to optimize and be able to handle the stresses of life. Animal chiropractors don’t fix or heal horses or other animals. Each horse is already whole and his body has the intelligence to care for itself. The proper specific adjustment allows that intelligence to express itself as optimally as possible. The certified animal chiropractor will make only one diagnosis — vertebral subluxation. Without seeing the horse, it is difficult to know if these subluxations are present. And without adjusting the horse, it is impossible to know if removing the nerve interference present in the body will allow his innate wisdom to restore a homeostatic condition that is health.
HELPING THE BODY HEAL ITSELF No animal chiropractor or doctor anywhere ever cured anybody of anything. Healing or curing is, very simply, the creation of new living tissue. If your horse has a sore ear, it’s because there are billions of cells in there that are sick and dying. When all those cells die off and are replaced with new healthy ones, the ear is healed; if they are replaced by unhealthy cells, the ear still hurts. In other words, for a doctor to say they healed something means they would have to be able to create living tissue. We are getting closer to this all the time, but for now all the scientists, doctors, surgeons and chiropractors in the world are unable to create living tissue. Only a living body can heal itself, replacing damaged cells with healthy cells — if it is given the correct information and building blocks via chiropractic and other healthcare disciplines.
How do Subluxations Affect your Horse? A subluxation is, in general, a misalignment of the vertebrae of the spine. This can happen due to all sorts of reasons, and the side effects can vary from horse to horse. But one thing all sufferers have in common is that these subluxations definitely harm health and should be corrected. These misalignments create pressure or irritation on the various nerves in the spine, and can cause a wide variety of symptoms throughout your horse’s body, such as localized pain, soreness, imbalance, and weakness. When pressure is applied on a nerve in the spine, the nerve energy is interrupted, which can profoundly affect the function of other systems or organs in the body. Dr. Chung Ha Suh of the University of Colorado showed that even small pressure on a nerve (about the weight of a dime) can reduce the nerve’s function by 60%. Further, the nerve will start to degenerate if the pressure is sustained for three hours. Equine Wellness
Healthy barefoot hooves — how do we get there? By Angelique Barbara and Jennifer Thackery
These tips on transitioning from shod to barefoot will help you make the switch as gentle as possible for your equine companion.
e may love the sound of a horse’s hooves clicking down a concrete aisle with his or her shoes on. But are we helping our horses’ hooves or bodies by keeping those lovely-sounding pieces of metal nailed to them? Probably not. Shoes interfere with both shock absorption and energy dissipation. Over time, this will negatively affect the horse’s joints. When studying the miraculous design of the equine hoof, we see that a huge part of the “hoof mechanism” has to do with flexion. We’re concerned not only with the external hoof that we can see, but with the internal hoof structures. Mother Nature designed these structures with perfect physiology. In other words, natural — or barefoot — is better. So let’s take a look at how to get there.
negatively affect hoof health. That’s why, as horse caretakers, we need to make improvements for our horses where we can. One of these improvements is removing shoes and slowly transitioning the hooves to a barefoot life, just as they were designed for.
START WITH DIET
WHY BAREFOOT IS BEST Let’s look at a few examples of how the hoof is built to function best without the addition of shoes. Grooves on each side of the frog, called collateral grooves, are there for a few reasons. First, they act as expansion joints, allowing the hoof to flex upon impact. They also increase traction and help to hold in packed clean dirt, which works to support the coffin bone when needed. The frog is another miraculous structure that helps to not only provide cushioning but also to move blood through the foot and shunt it back up the leg when the foot compresses and the heels squish down — expansion and flexion. Proper blood flow in the foot and leg is critical for healthy foot development and so much more.
First and foremost, we need to look at the foundation of hoof health — nutrition. Providing our horses with a mix of both chelated and inorganic minerals, and high quality constant forage in the form of either hay or pasture, is of vital importance when it comes to hoof health (and overall health). Many soils across the country, especially in the Midwest, are deficient in certain key minerals (zinc, copper, manganese), which means these nutrients need to be supplemented in the diet. We cannot possibly expect a horses’s hooves to properly withstand the natural environment if the nutrition basics are not covered. It takes approximately 90 days for supplements to have full effect and for new blood cells to be produced, so supplements should be implemented as soon as possible when planning to make the barefoot transition. We want the hoof wall to be as strong as possible and the soles to be as thick as possible, and both require a solid diet.
ENLIST THE HELP OF A GOOD TRIMMER Next, we need to make sure we have a trimmer who understands internal hoof anatomy. It is critical that the toes are kept short enough to prevent leverage from a long toe with a breakover that is too far ahead of the coffin bone. This
Any activity that occurs in the foot also impacts the bones directly above the coffin bone. This bony column needs to be considered almost as a tower that can come tumbling down if the bottom support structure is not exactly as it should be.
LET’S TALK ABOUT TERRAIN Every structure in a horse’s hoof is designed to handle natural barefoot movement on all terrains. The problems arise when humans keep horses in ways that are not natural or beneficial. For example, horses are not equipped to stand on concrete surfaces for prolonged periods. Ever notice how your knees and hips start to ache after treading on hard tile or pavement for more than a few hours? Our horses will suffer the same effects if they aren’t given access to gentle, natural terrain. Other lifestyle issues such as keeping horses in confined spaces, stalling, feeding a poor diet, not providing enough forage and necessary minerals, and lack of exercise will Equine Wellness
would cause increased stress to the laminae, and depending on how the trimmer handles the heel height (many take way too much heel off), can cause tremendous strain and actually cause the coffin bone to tear away from the hoof wall and rotate inside the hoof capsule. Flares are another common issue seen on hooves. This distortion involves the horn being stretched outwards and pulled away from the coffin bone. Many conventional farriers will try to rasp the outer wall to conceal or diminish the flare, but this is something that needs to be addressed in the balance of the foot. There are several reasons why flares occur in the first place but it is crucial to make sure the foot is balanced properly when the shoes are removed. This will be a very different “balance” from what conventional farriers use with shod hooves. Correcting flares can and should take time, and with a multi-pronged approach as opposed to just rasping the outer wall. We want the outer wall left as strong as possible and rasping does not help achieve that end. Many other factors need to be considered when trimming, so making sure you have a highly skilled barefoot trimmer is key. We all want our horses to be the best they can be, whether they are high performance reiners, upper level FEI horses, or beloved backyard pasture pets. Getting as close to a natural environment as we can, including switching to barefoot, is one way we can help them thrive, while promoting not only a beautiful outward appearance but stronger immunity and internal strength. Dr. Angelique Barbara (affectionally called Dr. Angel by many of her clients) is a Doctor of Chiropractic who also holds degrees in Veterinary Science (B.S.), Equine Science (Minor) and Veterinary Pathobiology (M.S.). Dr. Barbara has been passionate about animals her entire life and has also spent most of her life studying them (both in the classroom and the field). She developed her first animal bodywork seminar in 2009. Since then, she has founded Angel’s Animals — Holistic Animal Studies and her seminars have grown both in number and popularity. Her background in the clinical and research animal health care world, as well her experience as a human chiropractor, give her a unique perspective on animal bodywork. Jennifer Thackery is a co-instructor with Angel’s Animals — Holistic Animal Studies for their Holistic Equine Nutrition, Holistic Carnivore Nutrition and upcoming Equine Foot and Mouth course. Jen has been active in the veterinary and equine nutrition arena for over 27 years, working as a veterinary technician, teaching at the local business college in their veterinary assistant program, developing their accredited equine program and teaching those classes along with small animal courses. She studied Naturopathy and Holistic Nutrition in graduate school long after her Bachelors Degree in Biology with an emphasis on pre-veterinary science. 66
boots Some horses can have shoes pulled and go directly to pasture or sandy or soft terrain with no problems, but most do need time to develop a healthy strong sole capable of dealing with gravel and rocky terrain. The foot needs time to totally remodel after the shoes are pulled. This can take many months in some cases, and it’s a good idea to have hoof boots available to give the horse some relief as we definitely do not want to limit exercise or turnout. Many brands of hoof boots are available, and there are pros and cons to each. Some are easier than others to get on. Cavallos, for example, have a great user-friendly design. It may take some time and trial and error to find the right boots. Some will rub and cause blisters which can be extremely painful. You can take steps such as putting a sock up around your horse’s foot to protect the back of it from rubbing, but the best option is to find a high quality hoof boot that fits your horse correctly. Boots that are too loose will be more likely to rub. Boots should never be left on for a long time. If you are using boots for full 24/7 turnout, be sure you remove the boots at least once a day to check for blisters. If you stall your horses at night, remove the boots. Blisters can happen quickly and can cause a horse to become lame. The best scenario is to have a horse on full 24/7 turnout with softer ground in the beginning, and just to use the boots for riding if he shows any sensitivities on trails or roads. Asking the horse to walk painfully over gravel areas can cause compensatory issues further up in his body and set him up for problems down the road. It’s a good idea to gradually increase the gravel or rocky terrain as the horse’s hoof remodels and he clearly can tolerate it. Gravel crunching hooves can and will happen if you follow these guidelines.