TEACH YOUR HORSE TO SAY
for equine athletes
HERB USE IN SPORTING HORSES what you need to know
HOW TO PROTECT HER JOINTS
an easy solution to handling problems
EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF 80% 1.5 BWR PD 5.95CN / 5.95 US
VOLUME 14 ISSUE 3
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This photo dramatically captures the thrill of competition — in this case dressage — as horse and rider come together to deliver their best possible performance. No matter what the discipline, performance horses at all levels may require special consideration for diet, hoof care and overall health. An integrative approach is perfectly suited to deliver the best results to these equine athletes.
CONTENTS June/July 2019
Features 10 16
N utrition for the performance horse
Proper nutrition is the foundation for a healthy horse who’s capable of training and performing to the best of his ability.
From resistance to responsiveness — teaching your horse to say “yes”
Tips, contests and more! /EquineWellnessMagazine News, events, and tips! @ EquineWellness Tips, pet photos, and more! EquineWellness
How safety, reward and joy play a role in your horse’s choices, and why catering to these basic desires can encourage her to say “yes” to what you ask of her.
Departments 6 Editorial
46 Acupressure at-a-glance
62 To the rescue
8 Neighborhood news
47 Heads up
53 Business profile:
14 Bridle fit 27 Product picks 32 Rider fitness 41 Business profile: Treatibles
The Holistic Horse
58 Herb blurb 59 Equine Wellness resource guide
65 Classifieds 66 Equine chakras
A LTERNATIVE APPROACHES 2 common health issues in competition horses Let’s look at two of the most frequentlyoccurring health concerns in competition horses, so you can take steps to prevent them from afflicting your own equine partner.
H EALTH WATCH Joint health for performance horses
Performance horses endure stress that can affect their minds, gastrointestinal systems — and their joints. Here’s how to protect your equine both mentally and physically.
The proper trim and hoof care tools, along with regular maintenance, can keep your horse’s feet healthy during performance season and beyond.
Clicker training solutions to common horsehandling problems
Switch up your training and teach your horse to stay cool, calm and collected with clicker training and the “do it differently” game.
L EARNING CURVE An introduction to Western riding If you ride English, learn what Western riding really is, and how it might fit into your personal horsemanship experience.
N EED TO KNOW Herb use in sporting horses
Medicinal herbs can be beneficial to equine health, but competition rules and regulations might prohibit their use in some cases.
H EALTHY HOOVES Hoof care support for performance horses
M IND, BODY, SPIRIT Support your performance horse’s emotional health You know how to cater to his physical needs, but what about his psychological ones? Supporting the emotional health of your equine athlete contributes to his performance and well-being.
E ATING WELL Does your horse’s pasture cover all his nutritional needs?
If your horse’s diet consists primarily of forage, your pasture must meet all his nutritional requirements. Here’s how to ensure he’s getting what he needs from his grazing space.
G OLDEN YEARS Transitioning your horse into retirement
Retirement isn’t just for older horses. Learn to tell when it’s time to stop working your equine, and how to make the transition as stress-free as possible.
N ATURAL SUPPLEMENTS Antioxidant support for your equine athlete
How free radicals affect performance horses, and why antioxidants play such an important role in preserving good health.
N ATURAL HORSEMANSHIP The benefits of riding bitless Bits have their uses, but for many horses, they’re nothing but a nuisance. Switching to bitless can improve your horse’s performance and overall well-being.
34 Equine Wellness
PERFORMING AT THEIR
These days, my riding is confined more to the trails, but I love to watch all levels of competitive riding, from the local fair level on up. It’s wonderful to meet people from different disciplines, and it’s encouraging to see so many practicing natural horsemanship techniques and embracing a more natural lifestyle for their horses. I can’t help but be amazed at how much things have changed over the decades. As a teenager, I had a friend who competed in dressage. I remember when Sandy acquired her Hanovarian mare — the horse who would take her to the next level. While talented, the mare was bossy and misbehaved, and thought nothing of nipping whenever you turned your back. Sandy’s high-end dressage coach didn’t help; there wasn’t an ounce of natural horsemanship in her. She would scream at both horse and rider in the arena, ratcheting up the tension until you could cut it with a knife. She set a terrible example, and I sometimes found Sandy getting physical with her horse out of despair. It was that concept of meeting “force with force”. Even then, I knew innately (and I think Sandy did too) that there had to be a better way. Fast forward 35 years, and I’m happy to see so many options available for competitors who want to incorporate natural horsemanship into their training and lifestyle regimens — even at high levels of competition. Trust is a two-way street, after all.
In this issue of Equine Wellness, we take a look at how to support the mind, body and soul of these equine athletes — our partners inside and outside the ring. On the physical side, we look at common health issues, as well as hoof support, dietary needs, the role of antioxidants, and herb use for performance horses. On the mental and emotional front, we consider how stress affects the minds and physical states of these horses — eventually manifesting in joint problems — as well as how you can support your equine athlete’s emotional well-being. Of course, we cover lots of other ground too! I never imagined all those years ago that clicker training could help solve common horse-handling problems, but it does, as you’ll see in this issue. And yes, joy can play a role in training, too — our article “Teaching your horse to say ‘yes’” shows you how. We also continue our series on how to ensure your pasture is taking care of all your horse’s nutritional needs, the benefits of riding bitless, and why English riders might want to embrace Western riding for a change of pace. It all adds up to another incredible issue and I’m so thankful to be able to share this inspiring content with you. No matter what your discipline or level of riding, have a wonderful summer with your equine friends and partners!
Dana Cox, Editor-in-chief
NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS ENDOCRINE-DISRUPTING CHEMICALS LINKED TO EMS
Thanks to funding from Morris Animal Foundation, researchers at The University of Minnesota have discovered a possible culprit behind EMS that can’t be explained by other factors such as diet and exercise. They found that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in a horse’s environment may play a role. Most EDCs are difficult-to-avoid manmade substances such as pesticides, plastics and grooming products. They mimic the body’s hormones, hindering real ones from doing what they’re supposed to do. This can put horses at risk for poor health, resulting in diseases such as EMS. The team studied more than 300 equines in North America, focusing on breeds more likely to develop EMS. This is the first study to examine associations between EDCs and disease in domestic animals. Though further study is needed, Dr. Kelly Diehl, Morris Animal Foundation Interim Vice President of Scientific Programs, hopes these findings will further scientific understanding and help advance veterinary care for horses. morrisanimalfoundation.org
Photo courtesy of BLM
Despite optimal care, many horses are diagnosed with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS). This incurable disease involves endocrine abnormalities that often cause pockets of fat and/or obesity, as well as insulin-related problems. EMS is also a common cause of laminitis which, in severe cases, can lead to euthanasia.
BLM OFFERS $1,000 TO ANYONE ADOPTING AN UNTRAINED WILD HORSE According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there are more than 80,000 wild horses and burros across public lands in the West. Because this population is so high, the range is undergoing damage, and many horses and burros are facing potential starvation and dehydration now that summer is arriving. In a new effort to find homes for the wild horses and burros, the BLM is offering $1,000 to qualified applicants willing to adopt one through the Adoption Incentive Program. The overall intent is to encourage prior adopters to re-engage with the program, and introduce new applicants for assistance with the initial costs of training or humane care. The BLM gathers wild horses and provides them with food, medical care and shelter. This can cost up to $2,000 per horse each year — an expense that isn’t sustainable. Applicants must have an enclosed area that is a minimum of 400 square feet in size, with access to feed, water and shelter. Interested applicants can visit blm.gov/whb to learn more about the requirements.
DONKEYS MAY PROVIDE A NATURAL TICK REPELLENT The sebaceous glands of horses and donkeys emit an oily substance, called sebum, that keeps their skin moist. Researchers at the Federal University of Goiás, Brazil, along with colleagues in the United Kingdom, recently investigated whether this secretion could be resistant to certain species of ticks. They discovered that while horse sebum isn’t completely resistant to Amblyomma sculptum, a species of tick found in South America, donkey sebum does have a repellent effect. sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877959X1830414X?via%3Dihub 8
STUDY CONFIRMS EXERCISE BENEFITS FOR DIETING HORSES Is your horse overweight? A new study conducted by a research team at the University of Melbourne confirms that dieting is more beneficial when combined with regular lowintensity exercise. While this approach to combating health concerns such as obesity and diabetes is considered general knowledge, it wasn’t fully understood. For instance, many horse caregivers assume that exercise increases weight loss, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It does, however, offer other important benefits.
“Reducing calorie intake and feeding a diet low in starch and sugar should be the priority for overweight horses and ponies,” says researcher Clare Barfoot. “However, these results suggest that exercise may offer additional health benefits for obese horses and ponies, and/or those with EMS, that cannot be achieved by cutting calories and weight loss alone.” Two groups of 12 horses were fed a diet of restricted hay at 1.25% body weight on a dry matter basis (no grazing); a small amount of alfalfa chaff and soya bean meal; and a vitamin and mineral supplement. One of the groups was also put on a 12-week exercise program that entailed 15 minutes of brisk trotting (with a five-minute walk before and after), five days per week. Both groups showed a decrease in body condition score, body weight and total body fat mass. Post-weight loss, the basal insulin and leptin concentrations in all 24 horses dropped. Only the 12 horses on the exercise program, however, showed signs of improved insulin sensitivity, putting them at lower risk of developing laminitis. They also had lower levels of serum amyloid A, a protein association with inflammation. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jvim.15374
Nutrition PERFORMANCE HORSE
By Nettie Liburt, PhD, PAS
PROPER NUTRITION IS THE FOUNDATION FOR A HEALTHY HORSE WHO’S CAPABLE OF TRAINING AND PERFORMING TO THE BEST OF HIS ABILITY. You spend a lot of time and money training and practicing with your horse in order to master your discipline. You have the right equipment, a great trainer, and most importantly, a wonderful horse. But have you stopped to think about how your horse’s diet affects his performance? The truth is that improper nutrition can cause his performance to suffer. 10
It’s the same with human athletes — if a person consumes only junk food that lacks proper vitamins, minerals and protein, the body cannot function optimally and can even break down under stress. Proper nutrition is the foundation for a healthy equine body that’s capable of training and performing to the best of its ability.
WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO START? Every horse’s diet is forage-based, and should begin with good quality hay or pasture. The only scientific way to truly know the quality of a forage source is to have it analyzed at a commercial laboratory. It’s fairly inexpensive, but not always practical. Forages with higher values of acid detergent fiber (ADF) tend to have lower digestibility. Forage with an ADF value over 40 to 45 is typically fibrous mature hay that may not be suitable for hard keepers or performance horses. High neutral detergent fiber (NDF) values (above 50 to 55) often indicate lower palatability — typically, the higher the NDF value, the lower the intake is likely to be.
A LOOK AT PROTEIN All proteins are made up of amino acids. The body can make some amino acids on its own, while other “essential” amino acids, such as lysine, methionine and threonine, must be consumed in the diet. Without essential amino acids, protein synthesis will slow or stop, preventing the improvement of strength and muscle tone, among other factors. Thus, diet is a key component for providing high quality protein sources to support muscle development, tissue repair and other metabolic processes.
These values vary slightly for grass versus alfalfa, but they give an idea of how to estimate the quality of a forage, along with its protein and mineral content. If an analysis is not practical, look for hay that is leafy, free of weeds and molds, and is sweet-smelling. Hay with lots of sticks and stems is most likely nutrient-poor and less digestible than leafier hay. While you can’t tell the nutrient value of a hay just by looking at it, you can get a general idea of its quality.
As the intensity of exercise increases, the NRC recommends an increase in total protein intake. For example, a 1,100 lb (500 kg) horse in very light work needs a minimum of 699 grams of protein per day, whereas the same horse in heavy work requires 862 grams of protein. Most feeds designed for performance horses contain 10% to 12% crude protein, which is normally sufficient to meet demands. In a properlybalanced diet, as the amount of feed increases with the amount of work performed, these dietary adjustments are typically accounted for.
ESTIMATING WORK LOAD Many performance horses cannot maintain their weight or performance level on forage alone. That’s where concentrate feeds fill the gap. The National Research Council (NRC, 2007) has set guidelines on how to determine a horse’s work level, defining four categories (see table below).
NRC (2007) GUIDELINES FOR DEFINING THE WORK LOAD OF HORSES
1–3 h/week; 40% walk, 50% trot, 10% canter
3–5 h/week; 30% walk, 55% trot, 10% canter
4–5 h/week; 20% walk, 50% trot, 15% canter
Various; ranges from 1 h/week speed work to 6–12 h/week slow work
The harder a horse works, the more energy his body needs to maintain performance. Remember that each horse is an individual, so it’s important to regularly monitor his condition. Become familiar with the body condition scoring (BCS) system — it’s a scale from 1 to 9, with a score of
Photo courtesy of Buckeye Nutrition
WORK LOAD GUIDELINE
1 to 2 being emaciated, 3 to 4 being thin, 5 to 6 being ideal, and 7 to 9 being obese (Henneke, 1983). An “Introduction to body condition scoring” fact sheet (AS-552-W, published by Purdue University Extension), provides a basic overview of how to evaluate BCS, which is beyond the scope of this discussion. If a horse is too fat, concentrates likely need to be reduced or eliminated. Overweight horses are more likely to overheat, have a harder time cooling down after exercise (especially in warm climates), and may not tolerate higherintensity exercise as well as their slimmer counterparts can. On the other hand, horses that are too thin may not have sufficient energy stores to perform at peak, and could potentially be lacking vital nutrients for optimal muscle development and repair. Photo courtesy of Buckeye Nutrition
ENERGY OUTPUT NEEDS ENERGY INPUT
REFERENCES Henneke DR, Potter GD, Kreider JL, Yeates, BF. “Relationship between condition score, physical measurements and body fat percentage in mares”. Equine Veterinary Journal, 1983, 15(4):371-372. National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 6th Edition. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007. Ralston SL. “Performance horse nutrition and notes on conditioning”. Rutgers Equine Science Center Fact Sheet #752, 2004. Accessed online at esc.rutgers.edu/fact_sheet/performance-horsenutrition-and-notes-on-conditioning/. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. “Nutrition of the performance horse”. Document #ASC-113. Accessed online at afs.ca.uky.edu/files/asc113.pdf.
Dr. Nettie Liburt is the Senior Equine Nutrition Manager at Mars Horsecare US/BUCKEYE® Nutrition, where she helps develop new products, trains associates in equine nutrition, and works with the company’s UK-based team at the WALTHAM ® Centre for Pet Nutrition on developing and implementing research protocols. She holds a Master’s and PhD in Animal Science (Equine Nutrition and Exercise Physiology) from Rutgers University. Dr. Liburt is a member of the Equine Science Society, a registered Professional Animal Scientist (PAS), and has an Appendix gelding named “ET” that she occasionally competes in the hunter divisions.
Dietary energy comes in the form of calories. A carbohydrate contains four calories per gram, whereas fat contains nine calories per gram. Carbohydrates are a quick-burning source of energy, but can be depleted very quickly. Fat takes a longer time to metabolize, and has a slower steadier release of energy, which is why it is frequently referred to as a source of “cool” calories. A mix of fat and carbohydrates is appropriate for the demands of most performance disciplines, with endurance-type work favoring more fat, and race-type work more carbohydrates. Horses who work hard and/or who have trouble maintaining weight often do well on concentrates with high fat content (10% to 14% crude fat). Easy keepers, even those in work, still need vitamins, minerals and protein; low-calorie feeds or ration balancers are frequently appropriate for these horses. Each horse has unique nutritional needs. Consider his age, work load, overall health and training goals. A diet with good quality hay and/or pasture is the foundation, and can be supplemented with higher-calorie, fortified concentrate feeds if necessary. If you are unsure how to select a feed, call the feed company! Most manufacturers employ nutritionists who can help you select an appropriate product and help balance your horse’s diet. Just remember that change takes time, so when you implement a new feeding program it may take two to three months to start seeing results. Re-evaluate your horse frequently and adjust his diet as needed.
IS YOUR HORSE’S BRIDLE IRRITATING HIM?
By Jochen Schleese, MDS, CSFT, CSE
Image courtesy of Ingrid R. Kostron
If your horse’s behavior, mood or performance seems “off”, check his bridle fit!
Skull of horse
The zygomatic arch A horse’s headpiece presses directly on a nerve and acupuncture point located at the zygomatic arch. This nerve (Nervus trigeminus) radiates down a horse’s jawline where another nerve exits (Nervus facialis). The nosebands of some bridle types rest exactly at the nerves’ exit point at the foramen infraorbitale, which can be felt at the top of the upper jaw bone. The nerves lie superficially under the skin in this area, making them subject to pressure when the noseband is too tight. The bridle needs to be correctly fitted and buckled in order not to rub against these nerves and the surrounding bone projections. Although pressure on bone won’t necessarily cause any damage to the bone itself, it will cause pain. Pressure “necrosis” will develop — possibly causing hair loss or the formation of white hairs — similar to saddle pressure points. 14
As we saw in the previous issue of Equine Wellness (V14I2), proper bridle fit involves many considerations. For instance, the bridle should be loose enough to allow a hand to easily slip under at the headpiece, and there should be two fingers’ worth of space between the cavesson/noseband and the nose. In fact, bridles can be considered a DIY project with differently-adjusted nosebands, headpieces and cheekpieces to accommodate each individual horse.
Bothersome headpieces Too much pressure at the base of the skull from the headpiece causes irritation. Experiments show this pressure can double at a canter. You may find your horse is reluctant to have his ears touched when there is too much pressure from the bridle, since the nerve located in this area is connected to the skin at the ears. This nerve also connects to the tongue musculature, possibly leading to further problems in the forelegs, since the muscles in the mouth are connected to many of those responsible for movement in the forelegs — it seems strange, but it’s anatomically true.
Tight nosebands A too-tight noseband can also impact the horse’s neck and ability to engage. For full comfort and relaxed movement, the bridle should still allow the horse to chew freely. This means the jaw needs to be able to move side to side with ease. If a bridle is too tight, the resistance will cause cramping of the jaw muscles and pressure in the neck, and this muscle “bracing” will impact the horse’s entire
musculature. Some horses are in such pain around their heads that they are misdiagnosed as “head shy”. This can be avoided by using properly-fitted bridles. As a general rule of thumb, there should be at least ½" of space between a horse’s incisors where the bit is laid. In other words, a carrot should be able to fit between his teeth. This space allows the horse to comfortably chew while bridled, an action that a horse will engage in when he’s relaxed and comfortable.
This photo illustrates a noseband and flash that are too tight for the horse (note the pinching).
Two acupuncture points are located in the headpiece area (see sidebar); they influence neck flexibility, back movement and collection ability. If the flash or noseband is buckled too tightly, these acupuncture points and the intestinal meridians associated with them on either side of the head are impacted. This further restricts the flexibility of the haunches as well as proper breathing. If your horse’s behavior, mood or performance seems “off”, check his bridle! His comfort isn’t the only factor at stake.
FROM RESISTANCE TO RESPONSIVENESS
— teaching your horse to say “yes” By Lindsey Partridge
How safety, reward and joy play a role in your horse’s choices, and why catering to these basic desires can encourage her to say “yes” to what you ask of her.
Does your horse ever say “no” to your requests? Our equine partners say “no” in a variety of ways — the helicopter tail swish, the expressive neck swoosh, or the bouncy crow hop, as well as planted feet, spinning and scooting, and other crafty techniques. Just like us, horses care about safety, food and happiness. In fact, what often drives us to say “yes” or “no” to something depends on these most basic desires — to feel safe, receive food or some other reward, and experience pleasure or happiness. Think about it — when you say “yes” to something, it’s usually because you feel you can do it (it’s safe), there’s a reward of some kind, or you know you will enjoy it. The same is true for our horses.
3 THINGS THAT DRIVE A HORSE TO SAY “YES”
HOW TO USE “THE BIG 3” TO IMPROVE RESPONSIVENESS Safety
When we think of safety, we usually consider it in relation to its opposite — death or danger. I want you to think more broadly than that. Safety also has to do with confidence (yours and your horse’s), both mentally and physically.
You have a responsibility to make sure your horse feels both mentally and physically safe. This doesn’t just mean preventing her from dying, but also preventing her from getting hurt, and helping her build confidence so she feels she can do what you ask of her.
If you think you will hurt yourself trying to jump a fence, you aren’t likely to try it because physically you don’t think it’s safe. If you get nervous in front of crowds, you might experience performance anxiety because mentally you don’t feel safe. Horses experience these instinctual emotions as well, and often rely on them to make decisions.
Physical safety starts with conditioning. It simply isn’t fair to ask a horse to hold a collected posture for 30 minutes if you haven’t conditioned her to carry you like that. Nor is it fair to practice a sitting trot or canter for multiple laps if you are still bouncing. This will cause her pain, and eventually she might refuse to go on rides altogether.
Have you ever weighed the pros and cons of a decision? We often spend a lot of time deciding if something is “worth it” or not. The “it” could be time, money or discomfort — and a big part of how we make a decision is based on the payoff or reward we’ll receive as a result of that decision. For horses, the universal currency is food. Horses spend their lives determining how much they want the food — are they willing to fight off that other horse, or travel the distance to look for grass? Research in animal training illustrates the power of this drive — if you use food rewards, you significantly speed training and increase motivation. Not really a surprise there, because if you pay people bonuses or tips for a job well done, they also usually try harder.
What brings you joy? Is it playing, relaxing, being entertained, or trying new things? Since we’re all different, what brings us joy is going to vary a lot — and it’s also going to change depending on factors like the weather and our mood. Horses aren’t too different. One day your horse might enjoy playing with you, and the next he might not want to do much of anything. It all depends on how he feels and what he thinks will make him happy in the moment.
Once you’re both properly trained, you can make your horse feel even safer and more comfortable by riding with an impact protection saddle pad. Going bitless is also an option, and boots can help protect your horse’s legs. Mental safety starts with building confidence. There are many types of confidence and many different exercises to help your horse gain that confidence. When training, start with simple tasks and gradually build up to harder tasks, being careful not to ask for too much. Confidence is like filling a bucket of water. It takes time to fill the bucket, but if you knock it over the water spills out quickly. With time, you’ll see your horse slowly gain confidence as she successfully completes tasks. But if she gets hurt or has a scare, it can knock her confidence level right back down again. Be wary of this, and take steps to keep her both mentally and physically safe.
Rewards When using rewards, many different factors have to be considered. Here are a few basics to keep in mind: •R ewards need to be meaningful to your horse. For example, if she doesn’t like her neck being scratched, then it won’t work as a reward. Find something that has more value to her. Continued on page 18. Equine Wellness
Continued from page 17. • Rewards need to be earned, not expected. Only give a reward if your horse does something: • new • challenging • exceptionally well • of high value to you. • M anners are key! It’s important to teach your horse healthy boundaries so she doesn’t become pushy when seeking rewards. When she starts demanding praise or treats, this training tactic loses its influence.
Joy I’m a big believer in asking horses to do jobs they enjoy. Partnerships can be so much better if you and your horse enjoy the same things, whether it’s jumping, flat work, liberty play, trail riding, or anything else you like to do. However, sometimes a horse doesn’t find joy in what you want her to do because she doesn’t feel safe, or because her fitness level isn’t high enough for her to enjoy being active.
A couple of things you can do to increase her enjoyment of physical activity is engage her in strength training (riding uphill) and cardio training (interactive lunging — see sidebar below). When she’s stronger and fitter, training will be easier and therefore more enjoyable. It’s also important to take note of your horse’s mood. When she’s nervous or stressed, she’ll probably keep her feet moving. Walking her in a square or “S” pattern can be really helpful in these cases. If she’s feeling tired and sluggish, taking some rest breaks or playing a few games can help engage her.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER To help your horse move from being resistant to responsive, try thinking about what will encourage her to say “yes”. Pay attention to her energy and what type of reward may work. During sessions, I use different types of rewards — treats, scratches, rest and free time. Spend time observing your horse’s behavior and learn the subtle signs of what is making her tick before she says “no”. Start with smaller tasks she can say yes to, and pretty soon you’ll be accomplishing bigger goals. Remember that we all had to learn how to read and write, and for some of us it was challenging. We didn’t like it, and there were many times we thought we’d never get it — but here we are now. You’ve made it to the end of this article, and it’s got you thinking: did I read it because it offered me safety, reward, or joy?
Lindsey Partridge is the founder of Harmony Horsemanship. She is a clinician, horse trainer, judge, horse wrangler (for movies) and competitor. Nicknamed “Canada’s Horse Whisperer”, she has top three placings with all six Thoroughbreds she has competed with at the International Thoroughbred Makeover. Learn more at LindseyPartridge.com. For more information about the calm connection exercises, the Harmony Training Continuum and Harmony Horsemanship, visit HarmonyHorsemanship.ca.
INTERACTIVE LUNGING Sometimes horses need a break from their usual training routine. This might be the case if you find your horse is saying “no” a lot. If so, try switching up your next session by incorporating some interactive lunging. Interactive lunging involves sending your horse in circles as in regular lunging. The difference is, you keep things interactive by introducing lots of transitions, changes of direction, pole work, and other modifications. It can be very boring to lunge for several minutes in each direction without interaction, so this is a good way to spice things up!
COMMON HEALTH ISSUES IN COMPETITION HORSES
By Julie MacKinnon
Let’s look at two of the most frequently-occurring health concerns in competition horses, so you can take steps to prevent them from inflicting your own equine partner.
Performance horses are stoic creatures. They endure miles of transport, hours of training, and higher levels of stress than those ridden casually. Usually, they fair well under this pressure, and even thrive on it! But like us, horses can break down. As a rider, it’s important for you to be aware of signs of poor health in your equine partner, and take steps toward prevention and treatment. Here are a couple common issues to watch for. 20
THE ISSUE: During transport, dietary and water adjustments, and environmental changes, a horse produces stress hormones that can easily upset the chemistry of his body, creating gas colic. Similarly, compaction colic can arise from feed changes, stress or dehydration. Both types are painful and will cause your horse to kick at her belly and/or stop eating and drinking due to pain.
THE CAUSE: While it isn’t the cause of colic, the inability to de-stress a colicky gut lies at the root of pain. The tension created in the gut acts like a bungie cord, and needs to release for the gut to function properly. THE FIX: Herbs such as valerian (tincture or herb) and devil’s claw will help ease discomfort and release gut tension as they work on the nerve
receptors. Turmeric and ginger also help relieve colic symptoms quickly — turmeric relaxes the gut wall, while ginger promotes the production of gastric juices. Psyllium, apple fiber pectin, or a combination of probiotics and enzymes are effective add-ins to ease gut motility during this process. Herbal treatments should be given every few hours — or as recommended by an herbal therapist — until relief occurs, and then twice a day for one to four days after. Editor’s note: If you suspect your horse has colic, the first step is to call your vet. While you wait for him or her to arrive, monitor your horse’s vital signs and offer something to relieve pain and tension.
THE ISSUE: Your horse looks fatigued and is breathing slowly. She will not walk, lift her head or exert herself, and she appears to have difficulty getting enough air. It can resemble shock or appear as if your horse is giving up. THE CAUSE: It lies in the blood flow — or lack thereof. Human athletes train for hours each day for events, while many performance horses only get one hour of training, four to five days per week. During competitions, we ask a horse’s heart and lungs to perform at max capacity when the arteries, veins and capillaries might not be conditioned for this. They lack the ability to increase blood flow capacity on demand, which then limits oxygen supply for recovery. THE FIX: Your best plan of attack is to gradually increase the intensity of your horse’s training program. This will condition her circulatory and respiratory systems to perform better. But this is little help if your horse is already in respiratory distress. In these cases, you can use aids such as homeopathic treatments for stress, or watermelon rind extract to help increase artery blood capacity. Essential oils like peppermint and helichrysum can help open the nasal passages into the lungs and increase oxygen uptake. Whatever remedies you choose to keep on hand, make sure they’re readily available on performance day!
Julie MacKinnon owns Laodas-Way Healing in Canada and is now expanding to the US. She has been healing animals for 16 years and teaching for 13 years. She is well-versed in many areas of equine/animal healing, including nutrition, herbs, cleansing, essential oils, anatomy, alignment, body therapy, energy work and release techniques. Julie has created her own line of over 65+ products and teaches LWH clinics focusing on the animal.
By Heather Mack
FOR PERFORMANCE HORSES Performance horses endure stress that can affect their minds, gastrointestinal systems — and their joints. Here’s how it’s all connected, and how you can protect your equine both mentally and physically.
The first piece of advice I give about joint health is to step back and look at the overall health and balance of the whole horse. The equine body contains approximately 400 trillion cells that are in constant communication. From his first breath to his last, his body does everything it can to achieve and maintain homoeostasis, a relatively stable equilibrium between all parts. This constant cell-to-cell information exchange is essential for good health. From a whole-body view of the performance horse, the biggest dilemma is stress. My practice is 90% high level performance horses — I have an equine wellness clinic outside Calgary, and I still travel regularly to South California and Florida. These amazing horses are flying, being trucked across the continent, moving from show to show, drinking different water, being cared
for by different people, and undergoing changes in humidity, atmosphere and feed. Horses are hardwired to always take in new surroundings, since they are and always will be prey animals, so all these changes place enormous
Wild horses that live in herds in big pastures don’t show the same signs of stress as many performance horses do.
stress on them even before they’re asked to perform.
HOW STRESS AFFECTS A HORSE’S JOINTS The gastrointestinal or GI system is the primary place in which horses show their stress. In fact, 75% of the performance horses I see are suffering from stomach ulcers, hind gut dysbiosis (leaky gut syndrome) or both. Approximately 80% of a horse’s immune system resides in the GI tract. Clusters of lymph nodes called Peyer’s patches exist in the mucosal lining of the large intestine. If this lining is healthy, the horse has a balanced intestinal microbiome, which is made up of trillions of fungi, bacteria and other microbes that regulate his digestion. His GI tract will also have strong tight junctions (these link the
epithelial cells of the gut and allow passage of nutrients while blocking undesirable substances), strong healthy intestinal villi, and low levels of inflammatory cytokines. Horses with hind gut dysbiosis or stomach ulcers will have systemic inflammation. This means inflammation throughout the body — in the joints, connective tissue, feet, intestines, viscera, etc. It’s a vicious cycle with the GI tract, because as the inflammation continues, increased gut permeability occurs, diminishing nutrient absorption. In other words, the joint supplements (or any supplements) you’re feeding your horse might not be getting absorbed optimally, if at all. Note: I would also caution you to check the metabolic status of your horse before giving him joint supplements. In cases of insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, you don’t want to be feeding him glucosamine. Talk to your veterinarian if this is the case, as he or she will be able to recommend an alternative.
INJECTABLES OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION
supports joint structures. The two are very different products, but I give my performance horses both. They are used by the body in different ways, so some horses may respond better to one or the other. Some do best with both. There are some other injectables out there, like Pentosan and Cartrophen (pentosan polysulphate), that I have not used personally, but many FEI horses are getting them and they seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the joints.
ADDITIONAL PREVENTATIVE STEPS A healthy and balanced horse will have the healthiest joints. If his feet and jaw (both dense with proprioceptors) are balanced, his nervous system will direct proper movement. If he has reasonable conformation, he will move correctly with good structural composition and alignment, muscular tension and angles. To achieve this, put your horse on a good diet and workload appropriate for his size, age and development, and take steps to prevent joint disease. Be sure his saddle and other equipment fits in order to prevent any asymmetric movement. A horse’s joints go through
mild to moderate repetitive trauma in most sports, so some wear and tear will occur throughout his career — but there’s also a lot you can do to keep him at his best.
Younger athletes — It is important to understand that the skeletal system of a young warmblood athlete doesn't stop growing and developing until he is six years old. Growth plates, or cartilaginous ends on the vertebrae, don’t ossify until six years of age or even later, so younger horses depend on the connective tissues, fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints in their lower extremities to hold them — and their riders — up! It astounds me how many trainers do not know this. These athletes need extra joint protection, and it’s important that owners and trainers take more time with them, focusing on balanced muscling to ensure they can stay sound and perform well for as long as possible. Continued on page 26. Jess Havey on Relevant, a very talented eight-year-old warmblood mare showing 4th level dressage and schooling Prix St George. She has stronger hamstrings than quadriceps muscles, so you can see that her stifle is pointing laterally. She gets monthly injectable chondroprotectives. Her owner/trainer is patient with her ups and downs in training, is not rushing her, and knows the importance of balanced muscling.
I am a strong believer in injectable chondroprotectives. They take the question of GI absorption off the table. Adequan is a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan — an injectable remedy that gets used by the cartilage matrix of the joint, increasing joint viscosity. It has been shown to help heal and aid in the long term health of articular cartilage. A product called Legend is pure HA (hyaluronic acid), which is used by the synovial cells that line the joint capsule. Synovial cells produce the fluid that lubricates and
Continued on page 26.
A WORD OF CAUTION If your horse requires joint injections, be aware that overuse of corticosteroids can temporarily relieve joint pain but cause more long-term degeneration of the joint. If a joint needs to be injected more than once a year, I recommend the more regenerative treatments. They are more expensive, but can stabilize a joint and in some cases even improve it. They include Pro-Stride, Irap, PRP and stem cell therapies.
Continued from page 24.
Older athletes — Older equine athletes have more wear and tear, and may have compensatory postures or ways of moving that affect their entire musculoskeletal systems. Under my care, mature horses get regular chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, and many or all of the other therapeutics we offer.
I love the Vitafloor for moving lymph and loosening muscles, and am also a strong believer in Bemer microcurrent technology as well as the Leg Saver microcurrent unit. I use the Activet Pro Laser from Multiradiance for so many situations, and the RRT (rapid release technique) device to break down scar tissue and adhesions.
I also prescribe homeopathy when appropriate, and while I try to minimize supplementation, I am very impressed with Immubiome products as they include pre and probiotics, colostrum, medicinal mushrooms and nucleotides. These are very supportive of the GI tract, so horses’ immune systems stay stronger. I also use Silver Lining herbs and Chinese herbs according to a horse’s nature and constitution. At the end of the day, the more balanced your horse is, the less wear and tear on his joints. Also, the less compromised his GI system, liver and kidneys are, the stronger his immune system, and oral or injectable joint supplements will be most effective. Kelsey Maloney on La Coco, a 16-year-old warmblood mare winning a Grand Prix in Gulfport, Mississippi in March 2019. Back in 2014, this mare was playing in her paddock at home after a couple of weeks of showing and fractured the distal tarsal bone in her hock, a high-motion joint that’s very important for jumping. She also strained the medial collateral ligament. She was non-weight-bearing lame. La Coco was given a lot of love, a team of great vets, stem cell therapy, ice compression, laser therapy, microcurrent therapy, and stall rest with passive range of motion stretches for three months. Eventually, she moved from hand-walking to tack-walking and is now back to winning in the big ring!
Dr. Heather Mack is an all-around horsewoman. You can find her packing and camping with her horses and mules in the Idaho wilderness and see her competing with her jumpers in the US and Canada. She has spent over two decades breeding, raising, training and healing her own horses and countless hours watching herd dynamics in her own pastures as well as in wild horses. She received her B.S. at Columbia University in NYC in 1987 and graduated from University of Pennsylvania school of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. She was accredited by both the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association in the early 90s. She has an elite group of clients in S. California she sees four times a year offering seasonal tune ups. She also runs her Balanced Equine Wellness Clinic in Priddis, Alberta. She has dedicated her life to the conscious practice of holistic medicine and lifestyle. balancedequinewellness.ca; Ironhill.ca
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HOOF CARE SUPPORT FOR
PERFORMANCE HORSES By Tab Pigg
The proper trim and hoof care tools, along with regular maintenance, can keep your horse’s feet healthy during performance season and beyond.
CHANGING CONDITIONS IMPACT HOOF HEALTH Often, horses travel long distances to compete. The location in which a horse 28
normally resides may have a completely different climate from the location where he competes, which typically means a change in atmospheric moisture. The amount of moisture in a horse’s hoof capsule can greatly impact the size and balance of his feet. In other words, a balanced foot in a dry climate can become an unbalanced foot in a wet climate, and vice versa.
A hoof capsule is like a sponge. When dry, it’s contracted and hard. Similar to adding water to a sponge, the hoof capsule changes its shape and size as it absorbs water. For example, if a horse lives in a wet climate and travels to a dry one, his hoof capsule will contract. Conversely, if a horse lives in a dry climate and travels to a wet region, his hoof capsule will expand. It’s important
Horses competing in the The Tevis Cup use pour-in pads for extra support.
Photo courtesy of Vettec, Inc.
If you were an athlete who competed every week over the course of an entire season, your body and feet would be sore due to excessive training and competing. The same can be said for horses. Equines that compete in performance competitions are also athletes — and just like humans after racing or physical activity, their feet become sore. They require support and protection in order to compete and remain healthy at these high levels of repeated activity. Add to this the many hours horses spend on the road, and in changing conditions that require dynamic hoof care methods to keep them sound and comfortable. All that said, proper hoof care regimens for performance horses should start well before they step in an arena or on a track.
to be aware of changing climate conditions in order to properly protect your horse’s hooves. When a horse goes from wet to dry conditions in a short time, chipping, cracking and a change in shoe size can occur. The feet shrink as they dry out, so if the horse is shod, the shoes become too big. It’s critical that a farrier examines the hooves when this change occurs so the horse has proper support, and to mitigate the possibility of abscesses due to the cracking and chipping that may be caused when the sole dries out. To avoid infection or injury in changing climates, horse caretakers can also use pour-in pad materials (more on this below) to help maintain optimal sole health. These pads bond to the bottom of a horse’s foot, sealing out moisture and preventing debris from being packed in the foot. Pour-in materials infused with copper sulfate also help effectively manage mild and moderate cases of thrush.
PROTECTING AGAINST IMPACT Equine hoof pads are commonly placed under a horse’s hoof for shock absorbency and protection. Historically, it was thought that any material could be put underneath a pad for extra cushioning, but this is not always the case. For instance, traditional silicone from the hardware store placed under a pad poses many potential drawbacks: • • • •
A long set time of 24 hours Messy application T he acid base can leave a smelly residue T he material does not absorb concussions, sending pressure up the horse’s leg.
An alternative to traditional pads and silicone filling is a liquid pour-in pad made of urethane adhesive. Products like these offer versatile solutions that are easy to apply, set quickly, and produce soft and resilient supportive pad materials. A pour-in pad material has several advantages: • Creates an immediate bond to the sole, sealing out moisture and debris • T he material can be filled to ground level for maximum support and concussion absorption • Supports the bony column by loading the entire solar surface (bottom of the hoof), rather than just the wall; this reduces the “pull” on the lamina between the hoof wall and internal structures. Continued on page 30.
HOOF CARE REGIMENS DIFFER BY DISCIPLINE Depending on the types of discipline horses compete in, it’s likely their hoof care regimens will differ.
• Jumping: Depending on how long horses are competing, different pour-in pad materials can be used to help provide the support they need throughout their competitions. Think of a person running races with versus without running shoes. This is a similar concept. Without sole support or protection, a horse is essentially exposed and can become lame without any support for the impact of landing. Pour-in pad materials help provide that “tennis shoe” effect for jumping athletes during competition. • Endurance: When racking up miles on difficult terrain, horses endure challenging conditions. If a horse’s feet are not properly protected and he steps on a sharp rock along the course, he can become immediately lame, or the lameness can show up a few miles down the trail. With shoes, pads, pour-in urethane pads or boots for protection, a horse will be better prepared to face the difficult conditions of an endurance or trail riding competition.
Farrier applies pour-in pad materials to an endurance horse competing in The Tevis Cup.
Tab Pigg is the Central Regional Sales Manager and in-house Certified Journeyman Farrier for Vettec, Inc. He oversees states ranging from Canada to Mexico, between the Rockies and the Mississippi River. He travels frequently, educating dealers and farriers at hands-on workshops and representing Vettec at tradeshow events. Tab assisted Vettec for three years, leading clinics and helping with regional work, before joining the company full time in 2003.
Continued from page 29. Soft pour-in pad materials can be used during travel periods to support the hoof capsule and keep horses comfortable while standing in trailers for hours on end.
THE IMPORTANCE OF REGULAR MAINTENANCE AND TRIMMING Hooves need to be trimmed regularly since excessive growth weakens durability and causes them to split, crack, chip or break off. That said, excessive trimming can be painful and lead to significant complications. To maintain optimal hoof health for performance horses, it is important for caregivers to continue regular trimming cycles, and provide proper discipline-specific care to hooves, especially when the horse is sore or on the road. 30
Keeping up with regular trimming cycles also allows your farrier to regularly monitor your horse’s hoof health. It is vital that your hoof care professionals become familiar with the growth rate of your horse’s feet, so they can provide a proper trim. A normal trimming cycle is typically every five to six weeks, depending on how fast the feet are growing due to the time of year.
HOOVES ARE THE FOUNDATION OF PERFORMANCE When it comes to a horse’s well-being during any type of competition, his feet are the foundation it all rests upon. If his hooves are not properly protected or treated during all stages of the performance season, he risks unbalanced feet and potential lameness or injury.
When a horse is training, travelling and participating in competitions, it’s important to have a hoof care plan and regimen in place that will support the repetitive impactful movements involved in these events. Hoof boots, pour-in pad materials and other tools, as well as regular discipline-specific trims, can provide the support and durable protection needed for these kinds of events. More than ever before, veterinarians and farriers have the ability to use materials that will help maintain hoof function. Talk to your hoof care professional about the importance of keeping your horse comfortable and competing at his full potential.
Photo courtesy of Vettec, Inc.
• Racing: Beyond shoes, race horses don’t usually use any tools for hoof support during races because some trainers believe the horses will lose traction with a pad in the sole capsule. However, if a horse becomes sore, a thin layer of protection will help alleviate the discomfort. When hoof pads are used, they’re generally removed before racing.
CALM YOUR PRE-SHOW JITTERS By Wendy Murdoch
Can you move your eyes? When we’re stressed, the eyes become fixed. Move your eyes slowly and gently, taking in your surroundings. This will also help you in the warm-up arena.
Smile! Smiling switches your emotions to positive. If you find this is too difficult, imagine someone smiling at you!
Do you find yourself getting nervous before entering the show arena? Maybe it begins before you pack the trailer, or when you arrive and pick up your show number. And what about your horse? He might be “just fine” at home, but the minute you enter the warm-up arena he begins to get tense and stiff.
arousal to perform better, others find it inhibits good performance. Either way, taking a few minutes to become more aware and practice some simple techniques can help you and your horse perform optimally. They’ll help you hone your skills, enhance your performance, and signal to your horse that all is well.
Horses can sense changes in our emotional states long before we do. Riders often blame horses for getting tense without realizing they have signaled this increased level of anxiety themselves. This is because horses can read very subtle changes in expression, tone and breathing.
Take one minute to observe your breath. You don’t need to practice any special breathing techniques at this level — simply count how long it takes you to inhale and exhale.
In order to keep your horse relaxed, it’s important to take a few minutes to assess your own level of arousal (flight response). Signs of anxiety include dry mouth, shortened breaths, increased sweating, shaking and changes in vision. While some people can use this increased 32
Rate your level of anxiety on a scale of one to ten. Giving it a number makes it actionable instead of foggy.
Find one thing you can do to lower that number by one point. Keeping this task simple is important — sometimes just giving your anxiety a number can lower it significantly!
You may find another anxiety-reducing practice that works for you. The key is to keep it simple and practice it often when you aren’t in a show setting. Establishing good habits before being in a stressful situation helps you to employ those habits when you most need them. As you practice, notice how your horse responds. Does he move closer to you as you start to relax? If he still seems stressed, take a moment before heading into the show ring to verbally tell him the course or pattern you are about to perform. Research shows that using imagery clarifies the motor patterns needed to perform a task. And the sound of your voice will help calm you both down — just be sure to use soothing tones. Once that’s done, let it all go and enjoy the ride! Wendy Murdoch has been recognized internationally for over 30 years as an equestrian instructor and clinician. Author of several books and DVDs, creator of the Ride Like A Natural ®, SURE FOOT® Equine Stability Program and Effortless Rider ® courses, she is an innovator in her field. Wendy’s desire to understand the function of both horse and human, along with her curiosity and love of teaching, allow her to show riders how to exceed their own expectations.
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DON'T MISS ANOTHER ISSUE!
solutions to common horse-handling problems
Switch up your training and teach your horse to stay cool, calm and collected with clicker training and the â&#x20AC;&#x153;do it differentlyâ&#x20AC;? game. By Alexandra Kurland
DO IT DIFFERENTLY One of the many things I enjoy about clicker training is that there’s so much I can learn from the trainers of other species. The “do it differently” procedure comes from Ken Ramirez. For over 20 years, Ken was the director of training and animal care at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
You need to clip your horse or give him some medicine from a dose syringe. There are two basic ways you can get the job done. You can try to force him into accepting the procedure, or you can gain his cooperation. As a clicker trainer, I want to gain his cooperation. I want it to be my horse’s choice that he’s working with me through a particular task, even an unpleasant one. To get started, I’ll introduce him to clicker training.
INTRODUCING CLICKER TRAINING When it comes to clicker training, the first step is to teach a strong base behavior. This might involve keeping his nose oriented to a stationary target, or (my favorite) standing on a mat. Mats are wonderful tools. I use them throughout my training, which means there’s a deep history of reinforcement associated with them. When only good things happen on mats, horses are comfortable going to them and staying on them. Once this positive association is established, you can introduce a new phase to the training – the “do it differently” game (see sidebar at right).
His advice for gaining an animal’s cooperation is to “do it differently”. Too often we fall into the trap of trying to duplicate how we think experts — such as vets and farriers — are going to handle our animals. No two people are going to do things exactly alike, so it doesn’t make sense to approach training with this mindset. Furthermore, you can’t predict all the procedures your horse may need in the future, so you couldn’t possibly prepare him to accept each individual stimulus that might come his way. You can, however, build his overall confidence.
CHANGE IT UP The “do it differently” game applies to all kinds of procedures, from prepping your horse for the farrier to giving paste wormers to clipping and braiding, even to getting on trailers – the list goes on. You don’t have to be a clicker trainer to use this process (though it does help)! Let’s use paste worming to illustrate how “do it differently” works. When first introducing a horse to oral meds, most of us are familiar with the technique of filling a dose syringe with applesauce. “Let me put this in your mouth and you’ll get a squirt of applesauce – yum!” With a clicker-trained horse, I can ask him to stand on his mat so his feet are still. Then I can hold out the syringe. I’ll click and give him a treat when he orients to the syringe. In small steps, I’ll teach him to bring his mouth to the syringe and take it on his own. This is so much more elegant than just pushing it into his mouth. The next step is not to go straight to the bad-tasting medicine, but to vary what you put into the syringe. Begin with other things he likes – pureed carrots or watermelon, or a flaxseed mash flavored with edible peppermint or anise seed oil. Every day, change to something new so he never knows what to expect. Begin to add some unexpected flavors such as apple cider vinegar. Then, fix several syringes – one with an unpleasant flavor, all the others with things he likes. The more he becomes accustomed to the syringe tasting different, the easier it will be to introduce the actual medicine. Continued on page 36. Equine Wellness
A cold winter day is a good time to work on summer fly spray. The blue mat is my horse’s anchor behavior. It helps me know if he is okay with what I am doing.
1 3 5
2 4 6 1. H e’s clearly surprised by my “do it differently” use of a flash light. 2. H e’s decided that it must be a new cue for head lowering. 3. That works for me. Click and treat! 4. Now when I put the fly spray bottle on my head, he’s more amused than alarmed.
5. He keeps his head down while I wave the spray bottle over his head. Click and treat. 6. H ere’s another “do it differently”: I’m waving both the fly spray and the flashlight. He tells me he’s okay with this by keeping his head down. 7. Click and treat.
Continued from page 35.
TURNING TOLERANCE INTO ACCEPTANCE You can do the same thing with many other procedures. For example, try adding the “do it differently” game to your daily grooming. With a clicker-trained horse, you can turn this into a game that gets him used to different stimuli. Collect items from around your house and barn: buckets, towels, pool noodles, umbrellas, plastic cones, shopping bags, etc. Ask your horse to stand on his mat, and have him target one of these items or retrieve it for you. If he walks off the mat, that’s his way of letting you know that what you’re asking for is too hard. Don’t punish him for leaving; just invite him back to the mat and find something easier for him. Groom him with the pool noodle or the brushes from your vacuum cleaner. Scrape mud off his legs with the ice scraper from your car. The more creative you are, the better. By the time you bring out something truly scary such as clippers or a fly spray bottle, standing on the mat while you wave them around making funny buzzing sounds will be old hat to him. If fly spray is a worry, play the “do it differently” game with what you put in the spray bottle. Begin with warm water. At first, spray into the air instead of directly on the horse. If he stays on his mat, click and treat. When he’s comfortable with this step, you can spray him directly. If he stays, click and treat. Again, if he walks away, that means you asked for too much. Invite him back and ask him for something easier. When you can spray him all over with warm water, change what is in your spray bottle. Change the temperature. Add peppermint or anise oil to the water. Every day, mix up something a little different. Get him used to lots of different scents before you add in the fly spray. Once you start playing the “do it differently” game, you’ll find lots of ways to use it. And what’s more, gaining your horse’s cooperation in his own care will have a huge ripple effect through the rest of his training.
Western riding AN INTRODUCTION TO
By Richard Winters
LEARN WHAT WESTERN RIDING REALLY IS, AND HOW IT MIGHT FIT INTO YOUR PERSONAL HORSEMANSHIP EXPERIENCE.
What exactly is Western riding? If my saddle has a horn, or if I neck rein my horse with one hand, am I a Western rider? Is Western riding less sophisticated than English? Is it just for cowboys? In the equine industry, although there are dozens of individual disciplines, most people would agree that the two major categories of riding are English and Western. This article will help answer some common questions such as those listed above, and help you understand what Western riding is all about.
Mexico, where the handling of cattle was — and still is — done primarily from horseback. Typically, a Western saddle is much heavier and more durable than an English saddle because of the
extreme work it is asked to do. For instance, the saddle horn, built up from a sturdy wooden tree, was designed to handle the heavy jerk and pull of wild cattle at the end of a rope. The back cinch, which is also unique to the Western saddle, would help hold the saddle in place when the torque and leverage of a cow at the end of a rope could otherwise pull the saddle right off of a horse’s back.
TACK — SADDLES AND BRIDLES
Bridles Most of the differences you’ll see in Western versus English bridles are cosmetic. However, there are a couple of things we can contrast.
Saddles The Western saddle of today has its roots in the Western United States and
On English bridles, the reins are almost always two pieces of thin leather
running from the bit up to the rider’s hands and buckled together. Thus, they make one continuous rein. Western bridles are often used with split reins. These individual reins can be 7´ to 8´ long and can be used one- or two-handed, as we’ll see later on.
You might also notice a difference in the bits used in Western riding. The most common bit for English riding is the snaffle bit. Although these are certainly used in Western riding as well, the curb or leverage bit is very common as the horse and rider advance in their training. The curb bit is also most commonly associated with neck reining, which is distinctly Western. Riding style In my opinion, there are more similarities between English and Western riding than there are differences. Good horsemanship is good horsemanship. All good riders are trying to communicate effectively with their horses and all equestrians desire to have the body control necessary to execute any desired maneuver. Believe it or not, the two riding styles aren’t all that different either. Posting is a good example of this (see sidebar on page 40). Perhaps you’ve been told that English riders post and Western riders sit the trot. I don’t believe this is true. Any good rider, regardless of his/her discipline or tack, should learn to post and be comfortable posting when the horse extends his trot. This is better for your horse physically, and will ultimately be more comfortable for you, the rider. Maybe you’ve heard that English horses canter and Western horses lope. The truth is, these are two discipline-specific terms that refer to the same three-beat gait. These synonymous terms describe the way a horse is traveling, and either discipline can perform the gait collected or extended. Depending on a particular horse’s level of training and the rider’s style of horsemanship, he or she can ride Western either one- or two-handed. Riding one-handed (otherwise known as “neck reining”) developed in Western riding because Equine Wellness
Learning to post Posting refers to the rhythmic movement of your body as it synchronizes with the trotting gait and speed of your horse — and it’s quite easy to learn. Trotting is a two-beat gait. With every stride, the rider rises and falls in the saddle to match the timing of the horse’s stride. This movement comes from the rider’s hips and pelvis. There’s no need to rise far above the seat of the saddle — just
of the need to handle a rope or stock whip in one hand, while guiding the horse with the other. It has since become a common skill that’s handy in both Western and English riding. In Western competition, some classes require the rider to use only one hand, while many other classes permit two-handed riding. Of course, a number of different techniques make Western riding unique. Because of the additional leather on a Western saddle and its fenders, the rider does not have as much leg contact with the horse’s body. This will immediately feel different if you have exclusively ridden English. Also, a Western rider’s posture will differ slightly. When riding Western, a rider will sit back on his or her back pockets, keeping the shoulders above the hips. In contrast, English riders will often ride with their body posture slightly forward. However, the rule for both disciplines is heels down with just the ball of your foot resting in the stirrup.
TIPS FOR TRYING WESTERN Do you have an English horse that you would like to ride Western? There is certainly no reason why you can’t enjoy both styles of riding. If you’re putting a Western saddle on your English horse for the first time, however, there are a few things to keep in mind: 40
enough to get in rhythm with your horse. When the horse is trotting slowly or simply jogging, sitting the trot is the best posture. As speed increases, posting in rhythm with each stride removes the jarring, bouncing effect on the rider. It is also more comfortable and much better physically for the horse. Though posting takes practice, it’s a skill that every rider — English or Western — should master.
• T he Western saddle generally has more weight, leather and additional attachments your horse might not be used to. Take the time to introduce the new saddle in a safe environment to help build his comfort and confidence. •P ay attention to saddle fit, as this might look different from what you’re used to. One general consideration in fitting the Western saddle is to look underneath the gullet (directly beneath the saddle horn) to make sure there’s clearance between your horse’s withers and the top of the gullet. You don’t want a saddle that sits too low in the gullet. This pressure point will begin to rub and make your horse sore. •W estern saddles have different parts than English saddles, so be sure to familiarize yourself with these variances before tacking up. For instance, many Western saddles have a separate back cinch along with the traditional front cinch. This back cinch is a valuable piece of equipment, but will feel very foreign to a horse that has not been properly introduced to it. Slowly introduce the back cinch while working the horse on the ground. Start with the cinch loose, and gradually tighten it closer to the horse’s belly as she acclimates to this foreign ticklish feeling.
• W hen riding English, there’s not much to hold you in — or hold onto — when horses spook or move quickly. Advanced English riders often develop a very good sense of balance and timing without having a large Western saddle to help hold them in. In certain situations, you might find more security with the added surface area and handhold (that saddle horn isn’t just for roping!) that the Western saddle provides. Riding tools and styles develop to meet certain needs. If I was to go over a jump course, I believe an English saddle would serve me well. When working cattle or heading out for an extended trail ride on which I want to carry some extra items, a Western saddle might prove to be more appropriate. But whether you ride on a thoroughbred or quarter horse, you might find that Western riding fits well into your personal horsemanship experience.
Richard Winters has been helping people with their horses, and horses with their people, for over 35 years. He and his wife Cheryl have traveled the globe instructing equine enthusiasts (English and Western) on how to communicate clearly with their horses. Richard is currently the Horse Program Director at the historic and prestigious Thacher school in Ojai, California. Learn more about Richard Winters Horsemanship at wintersranch.com and thacher.org.
CBD TRAILBLAZER, TREATIBLES, OFFERS RELIEF TO THOUSANDS OF ANIMALS
By Emily Watson
This company remains one of the foremost authorities in the industry — and they’re on a mission to promote the health and happiness of humans, horses and other animals. It seems every natural-minded animal parent and horse caretaker is interested in CBD these days. But less than a dozen years ago, things were a bit different. Back then, CBD was just making its way into the world of human medicine, and it was difficult to find products, let alone trustworthy ones. Enter Julianna Carella. In 2008, this entrepreneur founded Auntie Dolores, one of the first five medical cannabis companies in California to make cannabis products for people. Auntie Dolores established an apothecary to explore the therapeutic benefits of other cannabinoids.
Forging ahead, the company created a full-spectrum hemp oil dominated by naturally-occurring CBD. “Once the oil was perfected, I began producing fullspectrum hemp oil products for cats, dogs and horses. That’s how Treatibles was born.”
Julianna’s emergence into the animal industry was a natural progression that started with a simple question: “Can I give cannabis to my animal?” As her company offered patients relief from countless maladies and disorders, people began asking whether CBD could have the same positive effects on their animal companions. The answer, of course, was yes.
For many small business owners, the launch and success of two brands would have been enough. But for Julianna it was only the beginning. As Treatibles began blazing a trail as the pioneer of CBD products for animals, Julianna continued to soak in the latest research and information, establishing herself as one of the foremost authorities in hemp-derived CBD products for animals. Meanwhile, she expanded her operation to include an organic hemp farm in South Carolina. The full-spectrum hemp in all Treatibles products is sourced from this location, ensuring that every batch of the company’s proprietary oil is pure, beneficial, non-psychoactive and non-toxic.
“Research shows that THC can be harmful to animals, so the seed was planted to find an alternative safe cannabis product,” says Julianna.
The equine product line currently features a high-potency, organic fullspectrum hemp oil in a dropper bottle, capsules, and a topical cream. Full-
spectrum hemp oil supports the body’s normal inflammatory response and eases discomfort and anxiety, among other benefits. “Our formula features a beneficial blend of naturally-occurring CBD, supporting cannabinoids, terpenes and several other therapeutic compounds, creating a truly distinct oil,” says Julianna. “The 1,500mg oil dropper bottle was created specifically with horses in mind.” The company has also added an organic MCT coconut oil and organic peppermint oil, both of which offer distinct support for various health conditions. For ten years, Treatibles has woven the values of compassionate care, quality ingredients, reliable information and integrity into everything they do and produce — and you need only look at the testimonials on their website to witness how worthwhile this approach has been. “Stories include cats, dogs and horses with mobility issues now being able to run; animals with anxiety feeling calmer and less reactive; many accounts of shrinking tumors; relief from discomfort, and so much more,” says Julianna. “This is why we do what we do. This is why we always strive to create the most effective CBD products for animals on the market.” Equine Wellness
NEED TO KNOW
Herb use in sporting horses By Kim Chase
MEDICINAL HERBS CAN BE BENEFICIAL TO EQUINE HEALTH, BUT COMPETITION RULES AND REGULATIONS MIGHT PROHIBIT THEIR USE IN SOME CASES.
Herbs have been used for centuries to enhance the performance of many sporting horses. But whether utilized alone or as an adjunct to conventional medicine, the use of herbal medicine in competition remains an underresearched and controversial topic. A greater understanding and knowledge of herbal medicine within the equine industry will hopefully dispel some concerns, and lead to more appropriate useage to help improve equine health and well-being.
Research in herbs Evidence is revealing the benefits of including medicinal herbs in the management of equine health. Equine herbal products can boost the immune system, improve antioxidant status, and increase coping abilities and concentration. Herbs have also been beneficial for several equine disorders, including recurrent obstructive pulmonary disease, allergic dermatitis and joint inflammation. 42
Herbal remedies for performance horses Herbal supplements that affect the immune system can be classified as adaptogens (which increase resistance to stressors), immunostimulants (which activate the nonspecific, or innate, defense mechanisms) or both. A number of herbs demonstrate antiinflammatory and pain-relieving activity. 1 Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is used with good results in cases of “sport horse anemia”, a common problem for performance horses. This condition reduces oxygen delivery to the muscle cells during effort, thus decreasing the anaerobic threshold, with the ultimate result being loss of performance. 2 Ginseng (Panax ginseng) inhibits inflammation.
3 Ginger (Zingiber officinale) can reduce post-exercise cardiovascular recovery time. Many ulcer-relief herbal supplements for horses contain ginger as a major ingredient. 4 Yucca (Yucca schidigera) produces anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antispasmodic effects to reduce pain associated with arthritis. 5 Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is primarily sold for its painreducing properties. It’s also an antiinflammatory, making it a good choice for horses with joint problems. 6 White willow, meadowsweet and capsaicin also have anti-inflammatory and/or analgesic properties.
PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF TRAINING Adaptogenic studies on exercise capacity in many species have produced conflicting results. So far, practical use in performance horses supports the conclusion that adaptogenic herbs should not be considered performance-enhancing substances, but rather substances that simply support optimal health and function.
Concerns with herbs in competition Herbal products contain ingredients that are able to affect body systems, and can therefore be prohibited substances in competitions. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, several riders were disqualified from competition for testing positive for capsaicin (Capsicum frutescens). Capsaicin is banned by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) as it stimulates P substance and has painrelieving properties. The theory is that after the initial burning sensation, which is associated with heightened sensitivity, a period of reduced sensitivity follows. If capsaicin is rubbed on a horse’s shins just before competing, a rider can time the period of heightened sensitivity associated with the burning to encourage the horse to pick up his legs over the jumps to avoid hurting himself, thereby potentially improving performance. However, capsaicin does not appear on the FEI Medication Class A list of banned substances with other herbs such as valerian, so confusion does exist. Part of the inconsistency may stem from the fact that a test to detect it has only recently been developed.
Rules of equestrian sport affecting herbal usage FEI (the world governing body for equestrian sports) distinguishes between medication (i.e. veterinary treatment provided to safeguard the animal’s health and welfare) and doping (i.e. the deliberate intent to affect the performance of a horse or to mask an underlying health problem). There are presently three classes of offence: Doping, Medication Class A and Medication Class B. Medication Class A (therapeutic agents that could influence performance (e.g. relieving pain, sedating, stimulating or producing/modifying physiological or behavioral effects) is the category for most herbs (Higgins 2009).
Many modern competitive horses never completely adjust to the pressures of competition and remain in a state of chronic stress (CS) throughout the show season. The subtle signs are often overlooked or misinterpreted as behavioral issues. The resulting cortisol increase causes: 1 Lowered athletic performance 2 Gastric ulcers 3 Increased susceptibility to infections and slower recovery from illness and injury.
United States Equestrian Federation rules (USEF 2010) are subject to the Therapeutic Substance Provisions, which state: “Trainers, owners, exhibitors are cautioned against the use of medicinal preparations, tonics, pastes, powders and products of any kind, including those used topically, the ingredients and quantitative analysis of which are not specifically known, as they might contain a forbidden substance. This is especially true of those containing plant ingredients. The plant origin of any ingredient does not preclude its containing a pharmacologically potent and readily detectable forbidden substance.” A further USEF caution states: “Persons administering a so-called herbal or natural product to a horse or pony to affect his performance, having been Equine Wellness
DRAWBACKS OF HERB USE IN HORSES Most herbs have not been clinically tested, especially in horses. Adulteration is a common cause of toxic or adverse reactions to herbs. Adulteration includes the substitution of herbs, and intentional or unintentional contamination with active components, drugs, pollutants or pathogens.
comforted by claims that the plant origin of its ingredients cause it to be permitted by the rules as well as undetectable by drug tests, might have been misled. Trainers should be most skeptical about any claims by manufacturers or others that their preparation is ‘legal’ or permissible for use at competitions. It is the longstanding policy of USEF that it does not approve, endorse or sanction herbal, natural or medicinal products of any kind.” Forbidden herbal substances listed in the USEF’s Drugs and Medications Guidelines handbook include belladonna, camphor, capsaicin, chamomile, comfrey, devil’s claw, hops, kava kava, lavender, lemon balm, leopard’s bane, night shade, passion flower, rauwolfia, red poppy, skullcap, valerian and vervain.
Substance detection and screening The objective of screening is to detect any trace of drug exposure using the most powerful analytical methods. Problems are now arising because the high level of sensitivity in current screening methods allows for the 44
detection of totally irrelevant plasma or urine concentrations of legitimate drugs for long periods after their administration. Therefore, new approaches for legitimate compounds based on pharmacokinetic/ pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) principles are being developed. The detection time (DT) is the approximate period during which a drug (or its metabolite) remains in a horse’s system and can be detected by laboratory analysis. The withdrawal time (WT) for a drug must be decided upon by the treating veterinarian and is likely to be based on the DT plus a safety margin, chosen with professional judgment and discretion to allow for individual differences between horses such as size, metabolism, degree of fitness, etc. The FEI (2010) states that veterinarians have to advise owners or trainers on appropriate WTs to guarantee that their horses may safely compete after drug administration. DTs typically range between three and ten days. There is no mention of WTs for herbs or herbal extracts.
Inconsistencies in banned substances There are many discrepancies between the lists of various equestrian organizations. The USEF banned substance list contains herbs by their common names and is more extensive than either those of FEI or the Jockey Club UK. In contrast, FEI does not list the herb by name; rather it identifies prohibited substances according to their active constituents and the physiological
systems upon which they act. Lobeline, an alkaloid of the lobelia plant found in Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and star of Bethlehem (Hippobroma longiflora), are listed as respiratory stimulants. Valerenic acid, a sesquiterpenoid constituent of the valerian plant, is listed as a tranquilizer. FEI states that it reserves the right to alter the list at any time without prior notice, while USEF makes clear that its current list of banned substances is only partial, perhaps in a concerted effort to stay ahead of potential abusers. The process by which an herb officially becomes an illegal substance is vague; as a result, all competitors are kept guessing. Consistent regulations regarding herbs may be far off, since the governing bodies for equestrian sports have not come to an agreement on even which drugs should be permitted in competition. In the meantime, exercise caution when using adaptogenic herbs for your performance horse, and check the regulations regularly for updates. Adapted from “Literature Review: Risks and Pitfalls of Herbs in Sporting Horses” by Kim Chase, JIVT 1(2) October, 2011, civtedu.org. A version of this article previously appeared in IVC Journal.
Kimberly Chase is a chartered herbalist, avid equestrian and current CIVT student working towards obtaining her degree as an equine herbal practitioner. She is the proprietor of Vaguely Noble Horse-Keeping, a nutritional/herbal formulation company that provides an equine "green pharmacy" where the focus of health and medicine is shifted from treating symptoms to maintaining wellness. She is also the North American distributor of Ascenta EquineOmega3 available through the Vaguely Noble website.
BUILD YOUR HORSE’S HOOF HEALTH WITH ACUPRESSURE By Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis
Hoof care is one of the most essential aspects of horse health. After all, his survival depends on sound feet! Here’s how acupressure can support the sensitive structures of your horse’s hooves. The hoof is an astounding structure. It sustains thousands of pounds of concussion, flexes upon impact, absorbs shock while sensing the ground below, and then responds in less than an instant to variations in terrain. A horse’s weightbearing capacity is completely based on the strength and flexibility of the sole, bars, frog and walls of the hoof. Horses in the wild build strong hooves by traveling 20 to 30 miles per day over a range of terrains, eating a variety of grasses and other foodstuffs. The domesticated horse may not have these advantages, but in the last two decades, leading researchers have agreed that natural barefoot trimming provides hooves with the best chance of preventing and healing injuries and disease. We can also help promote hoof health by giving our horses sufficient exercise on varying surfaces, and feeding them a proper diet.
Acupressure support Offering your horse a once-weekly acupressure session that supports the natural balanced flow of blood and life-promoting energy (called “chi” in Chinese medicine) is another way to support his hoof-building. Nutrientrich blood nourishes the diverse hoof tissues. The hoof also acts as a pump, which upon impact sends blood up through the horse’s legs, nourishing the muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments. This pumping action 46
Copyright Tallgrass Publishers, LLC. All Rights Reserved 1995 - Current animalacupressure.com 303-681-3030
also helps the heart by relieving some of the stress placed on it when the horse is in motion. In addition to maintaining a harmonious flow of blood and chi throughout the horse’s body, the intent of the general acupressure session shown here is to enhance the health and strength of the hoof by supporting the Liver and Spleen organ systems. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Liver is directly responsible for the hoof, while the Spleen is known to provide nourishment to the structures of the hoof. To perform the session, place your thumb gently with intent on each of the acupoints shown, then count slowly to 30. Repeat on both hind legs. The acupressure points selected for building and maintaining healthy hooves can help your horse perform at
ACUPRESSURE FOR HOOF HEALTH POINT LOCATION Sp 6
3˝ above the tip of the medial malleolus, just behind the saphenous vein.
Found on the medial aspect of the hind limb below the fetlock joint.
Found on the cannon bone at the level of the head of the medial splint bone.
his best while dealing with strenuous movement and the rigorous task of weight-bearing. Healthy hooves make for happy horses and riders!
Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis are the authors of ACU-HORSE: A Guide to Equine Acupressure, ACUDOG: A Guide to Canine Acupressure and ACU-CAT: A Guide to Feline Acupressure. They founded Tallgrass, offering books, manuals, DVDs, apps and meridian charts. Tallgrass also provides a 300-hour hands-on and online training program world-wide. It is an approved school for the Department of Private Occupational Schools through the State of Colorado, and an Approved Provider of NCCAOM (#1181) Continuing Education courses. Contact: 303-681-3030, animalacupressure. com or email@example.com.
PERFORMANCE SEASON MUST-HAVES DISCOVER WHAT’S HOLDING HIM BACK Health concerns and behavior problems affecting his training? Laodas-Way offers distance animal communication and kinesiology sessions to identify your horse’s issues — from organ problems to injuries and more. Custom programs are built for each animal, including a feed schedule, and use of herbs, supplements and essential oils. These programs have helped many horses with recovery, promoting longer lives and improved performance. www.laodas-way.com/Treatments.html
SUPPORT AND STRENGTHEN HIS GI SYSTEM Is leaky gut affecting your horse? ButiPEARL™ Z EQ is a one-ofa-kind product supplying two important nutrients — butyric acid and zinc — to the entire digestive tract of your horse. These nutrients strengthen the gut barrier and support the immune system. A healthier GI system means less leaky gut, as well as enhanced health and performance. kemin.com/BPZEQ
HELP HIM THRIVE WITH HEMP A thriving, long and vibrant life is what Prime Hemp & Herb Blends are designed to achieve. So many supplements promise to “fix” your horse — but what if your horse doesn’t need “fixing”? With Prime Hemp & Herbs, your horse can be mentally, emotionally and physically balanced — capable of achieving maximum performance and well-being. primehemp.ca
RELIABLE MICRONUTRIENTS FOR PERFORMERS Years ago, SOURCE President and founder, Susan Domizi, competed with Hull — a talented horse with poor hoof condition. When the right micronutrients were added to his diet, he began to thrive. Hull became USCTA Reserve Horse of the Year in the US and so began SOURCE® micronutrients. Since 1975, SOURCE has helped thousands of horses like Hull not achieve their potential and flourish. 4source.com | 800-232-2365
Prime Hemp Seed Oil and Horse Doovers Hemp Treats
STEAM HIS HAY WHILE YOU’RE AWAY Up to 88% of horses could be suffering from inflammatory airway disease, but research has found that steaming hay with Haygain can reduce the risk by 65%! The portable HG One ensures your horse is eating clean forage, both at home and at competitions. It’s the only scientificallyproven method for purifying hay, removing 99% of respirable dust and killing 98% of bacteria, mold and fungi. haygain.us/pages/benefits-of-hay-steaming
CHEMICAL-FREE FLY SPRAY IS THE NATURAL SOLUTION Green Horse Organics’ Total Horse Protection fly spray is the clean, green fly spray of your dreams! Handcrafted in the U.S., it’s a natural alternative to the more toxic, chemical-based sprays on the market. The unique blend of nine essential oils in this proprietary formula can also help heal previous bites, stings and abrasions, condition the coat, and calm nerves. All ingredients are sourced from fair trade, wild-crafted, organic, and natural suppliers. wholeequine.com
MIND, BODY, SPIRIT
SUPPORT YOUR PERFORMANCE HORSE’S
Inset: Photo courtesy of Twyla Walker-Collins
By Julie Goodnight
You know how to cater to his physical needs, but what about his psychological ones? Supporting the emotional health of your equine athlete contributes to his performance and well-being.
A horse that’s happy, trying hard, and is eager to please will always out-perform one that’s mentally stressed and looking for a way out. If your horse is stressed, he’s not thinking well or trying hard, and you’ll never be successful in your chosen discipline. To achieve top-level training, however, performance horses spend many hours engaged in physically and mentally rigorous training routines — often in indoor arenas and with little or no respite for their emotional health. Mental/emotional breaks are necessary 48
in order to keep a horse healthy, happy, calm, and performing at his best. Nurturing the “try” in a horse, while taking care of his emotional wellbeing, are not things that happen accidentally. There are many things you can do to keep your hard-working athlete’s attitude fresh, and his mind in the game. Even if your horse is kept with a trainer, you can find ways to improve his emotional state with small gestures that mean a lot.
STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES Simple things, like taking your horse out of the arena for a short ride down the road or across a field to relax and see the horizon, helps her stay mentally fresh for the next training session. Too much repetition and drilling can make a horse resentful and sour, while rewarding him with a break when he does something brilliant and puts forth effort makes him want to try harder next time.
Hand-walk your horse out to a tasty patch of grass after his training session and let him look around and graze for a short time. Being in a natural environment is relaxing, and this is excellent bonding time for you and your horse. Research shows us that horses need to see the horizon to feel safe. Getting outside is especially important if your horse is kept inside a stall without windows.
MIX IT UP A simple way to keep your horse’s attitude fresh is to occasionally do something totally different from his normal training regimen. For example, you might take your reiner out to gather cattle. Challenge your jumper with trail course obstacles. Take your dressage horse on a hack. Be creative — a short groundwork lesson or thorough grooming session outside the barn is a nice break and gives you a chance to further bond with your horse. Like us, horses occasionally need a re-boot, and once they can relax and be in a more natural environment, they come back to the training routine with fresh energy and a more trainable mindset. If you’re looking for a real break for your horse, consider loading him in a trailer and hauling him to a new location for a ride — even if it’s in an arena. Sometimes just a change of scene will energize a stressed horse.
GET SOCIAL If possible, use an outdoor pen to turn your horse out with a buddy so he can romp and play and interact in a herd setting. Social interaction, fresh air and sunshine are incredibly important to your horse’s emotional health. Horses are very tactile animals. Touching other horses with their muzzles and yes, even running, kicking and sparring with them is perfectly natural and supports their expressive well-being. No one ever
lost a competition because his/her horse had a little hair missing from roughhousing, so let your horse be a horse. Don’t increase the risk of injury by turning him out with bully horses, but if he has buddies, let him play.
KEEP IT FUN! During the wet season when turnout may be limited, a romp with another horse in the arena is helpful. When our own performance horses need exercise to stay fit, but we aren’t riding that day, we free-lunge them with three or four other horses. It’s a lot more fun for them that way — like a party! Herd animals need the herd, and the chance to race, romp and play with another horse. Many top trainers will welcome your help in giving the horses under their tutelage a mental and emotional break. Often, they do not have the time themselves, but may be grateful for your help in supporting your horse’s emotional health. Try not to get in the way of your horse’s training regimen, but fill in the gaps. Even a nice relaxing rub-down after a training session can work wonders. Keeping the performance horse healthy is an ongoing challenge, and most of our focus tends to be on the physical aspects of health — joints, feet, chiro, conditioning, etc. But horses are incredibly emotional animals and their mental wellbeing is as important as any physical concern. Any performance that you ask of the horse requires him to think and process information, so keeping him happy and eager to please is critical! Julie Goodnight is best known as the producer and host of the popular TV show, Horse Master, airing weekly on RFD-TV for 11 years. Her clear and humorous teaching style, enlightening insights on horses, and live horse-training demonstrations inspire and educate horse owners around the world. Julie’s techniques are grounded in natural horsemanship, classical riding, and a deep understanding of horse behavior. She travels the globe teaching riders, training horses, and entertaining audiences at major horse events. She offers online education, training videos, tack and training tools at JulieGoodnight.com.
DOES YOUR HORSE’S PASTURE COVER ALL HIS
nutritional needs? By Virginia Slachman
If your horse’s diet consists primarily of forage, your pasture must meet all his nutritional requirements. Here’s how to ensure he’s getting what he needs from his grazing space. If you pasture your horses, chances are you’ve done a lot of work planning and planting a nutritious mix of grasses (see “Growing a high-impact pasture: what to plant” in EW V14I2). But there’s a bit more you need to know in order to ensure you’re delivering complete and safe nutrition to your herd. 50
TWO ESSENTIAL NUTRITIONAL FACTORS Salt and minerals are two nutritional factors that are often overlooked, but are essential for horse health.
Salt We may think salt blocks are only important during the hottest time of
the year to help with water loss. But salt — sodium chloride — is essential to a horse’s nutritional needs all year round, and its presence is often very limited in forages and hay. “When I do forage tests, it’s not unusual to find calcium levels at 0.3 or 0.6%, but sodium levels can be as low as
plus copper, zinc and selenium, are examples. The first three are critical in bone formation and maintenance, but the entire spectrum of macro and micro minerals impacts other bodily functions. Be sure not to leave them out of your regimen. The problem is, while calcium is often adequate in grasses, copper and zinc are frequently found in low levels, and it’s not unusual for phosphorus levels to be either too low or too high. In the event your pastures are imbalanced, providing free choice minerals, perhaps with added salt, is the solution. Steve Jackson, president of Bluegrass Equine Nutrition and an international Thoroughbred consultant for 28 years, notes that horses typically consume two ounces of salt per day — when you know this, you can judge how much mineral content you’ll need in a salt block or free choice salt/ mineral supplement.
.005%,” notes Kathleen Crandell, who holds a PhD in equine nutrition and works with Kentucky Equine Research. “This is certainly not sufficient for optimal health.” If you notice your horse eating dirt, it may be due to its sodium content. Adding a salt block to your pasture, regardless of the time of year, is sound nutritional management.
Minerals In order to maintain health, horses must also ingest an adequate array of minerals in the correct ratios. Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus,
You can also include magnesium oxide in your mixture since it tends to inhibit horses from over–indulging. However, Dr. Crandell warns against using a cattle block since these are normally low in selenium and copper. Put your money into a block or granulated mineral mixture specific to equines.
AND THEN THERE’S CLOVER Some experts do not recommend planting stands of this legume at all. At 35% protein, in some cases, clover is high in sugar and protein, but lower in fiber. Roger Allman, international expert in pasture management and owner of The Farm Clinic, does not consider these characteristics beneficial. Other experts recommend clover when used sparingly. David Crouch,
who manages the pastures at prestigious Denali Stud, likes adding a bit of white clover for its sweetness, especially for his mares in foal. He also appreciates the small boost in protein that white clover provides. Jackson is also an advocate of white clover, but like Crouch, only in small amounts — say 5%. He agrees it has a high protein count, but adds that it also delivers superior concentrations of digestible energy, vitamin A and calcium. Jackson also appreciates white clover’s added benefit: it can take atmospheric nitrogen and fix it in the soil, which means there’s less need to re-introduce nitrogen into the soil via fertilizer.
THE GOOD AND BAD NEWS ABOUT POISONOUS PLANTS Though reviews are mixed about clover, everyone agrees that certain other plants should not be present in any pasture. In the central US, for instance, there are plants you must avoid altogether: horse nettle, milkweed, hemp dogbane and black nightshade. That’s the bad news. The good news is that horses are very good at staying away from poisonous plants. Allman notes they’ll eat everything else down to the soil, but typically leave the poisonous plants alone. He stresses, though, this does not apply to foals, who haven’t yet learned the art of grazing, so be especially vigilant if you have babies in your pasture.
THE PROBLEM WITH TALL FESCUE If you have broodmares, be especially vigilant about tall fescue. This is a staple grass in many parts of the country. A hardy cool-season perennial, it grows well and can have a long production season. But it has also been associated Equine Wellness
with serious health problems in horses, primarily in reproduction.
imperative it is to shield broodmares from this plant as a grazing source.
Problems can run the gamut from reduced milk production in mares post-delivery, to prolonged gestation or abortion, and foals with depleted immune systems, hyperthyroidism or immature development. These are not the only difficulties associated with tall fescue toxicosis, so you can see how
The culprit is a toxin called “ergovaline”. The prevalence of its effects varies regionally, but all parts of the country are affected to one degree or another, with the southern states being most prone to higher levels of impact. While drugs are available to mitigate the adverse effects in mares who must graze on endophyte-infested tall fescue, the best solution is prevention.
MORE ABOUT ALFALFA — HAY CUT CONSIDERATIONS
Though alfalfa gets somewhat of a bad rap, it can be an important contributor to nutritional management. In fact, it has lots of benefits over some grasses; here are a few points to keep in mind: •A fter 10% bloom in the stand, grasses and alfalfa decrease 1% per day in digestibility and protein count. In other words, the earlier the cut, the more dense the nutrition. •T imothy grass produces, in general, one good cutting and maybe a second in the fall. On the other hand, alfalfa in temperate zones with adequate moisture can be cut after 26 days, and you might get five or six cuttings per year. •O rchardgrass regrows at a slower rate than alfalfa, so in a field planted with both for hay production, your first cutting will be high in orchardgrass but subsequent cuttings will produce an increase in alfalfa. 52
There continues to be a push for more varieties of tall fescue that will perform well and not produce toxicosis. You can find research results that support the use of these new varieties, but Dr. Crandell has a warning. She has observed that even if you raze your pasture and plant these seeds (some of which are expensive), the varieties that are not drought-, coldor hoof-tolerant will die out in about five years, and the original tall fescue can come back. Since it looks like the newer varieties you so painstakingly planted, you won’t know your pasture is again infected.
IS ALFALFA GETTING A BAD RAP? Typically you don’t find alfalfa planted in grazing pastures, though it is often used in hay bales for feeding during the winter months, or to meet specific nutritional needs. Most experts don’t include alfalfa in their pasture mix recommendations. Our experts agree; Denali feeds alfalfa hay, and this practice is advocated by Jackson and Dr. Crandell, as well as agronomist Allman. There are reasons for this, including the fact that alfalfa, a legume, is not as persistent as grasses in a pasture setting. With its bunching growing habit, it can produce bare spots. It
also gets very stemmy and “lignified” (a term that refers to indigestible fiber) when overly mature. And come the first frost, alfalfa goes dormant. Alfalfa is also reported to be the source of many health problems, including weight gain and orthopedic problems. Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but what we do know is that alfalfa is quite high in protein, coming in at an average of 18%. It’s also high in calcium, sugars and digestible fiber along with a small amount of fat. It exceeds the protein needs of horses at most stages of life, so be smart about how you use it. For adult horses, alfalfa is quite valuable as hay (see sidebar to the left) since it provides needed nutrition and calories to combat extreme weather. Often mixed with orchard or Timothy grass, alfalfa is most prevalently used as hay. If you are purchasing hay rather than harvesting it, you can buy alfalfa or Timothy separately and combine them as you feed. All in all, understanding the individual characteristics of different forages, as well as your horse’s nutritional needs, allows you to make wise choices. Troubleshooting your pasture and assessing the nutritional needs of each horse is a sort of partnership, and with a bit of research, you can optimize both the space you have for pasture, and the health of your horses. After conducting research for her first novel at a Kentucky Thoroughbred breeding and training farm, Virginia Slachman became a devoted advocate for retired racehorses. In addition to continuing her writing and university teaching career, Slachman has worked for years with ex-racehorses in one way or another — caring for them, rehabilitating or retraining them for new careers, and writing about them. Her work in rescue led to her adoption of Corredor dela Isla, her own ex-racehorse, who continues to be her beloved companion. She’s the author of three collections of poetry and her memoir as well as two novels. Blood in the Bluegrass, her second novel, is due out soon. virginiaslachman.com.
How The Holistic Horse helps support your horse’s immune system... naturally By Matthew Berk
Dedicated to offering safe, non-toxic alternatives to pharmaceuticals, The Holistic Horse is helping humans and horses live long healthy lives — without the side effects.
endless hours of research about cancer,” says Chris. “We read and learned everything we could get our hands on. During our research, one common theme prevailed: it’s absolutely crucial that the immune system be healthy and strong. This is what enables the body to fight and heal disease.” When it comes to treating common health issues in horses, conventional drugs have a time and place. Similarly, toxic chemicals and pesticides are often used for killing pathogens and keeping disease-carrying bugs at bay. But these “solutions” are also a big part of many problems that we — and our equine companions — face. Determined to spread the word about the benefits of natural products for promoting health and wellness, Chris and Roger Richardson purchased a company called The Holistic Horse in 2013. Established in 1998 by Don and Ruth Ann Stewart, The Holistic Horse presented the perfect opportunity for the Richardsons, who were ready to use their own experience with holistic animal care, to help others. Their journey began 20 years ago when their beloved dachshund, Oscar, was diagnosed with a very rare form of rectal cancer. “He was nine years old at the time, and his devastating diagnosis led us to
Chris and Roger switched Oscar to an organic, raw, all-natural diet. They also incorporated high quality supplements and herbs to help support and strengthen his immune system. Not only did their pup survive the cancer — he lived to be almost 19! Now, thanks to The Holistic Horse, Oscar’s story has been heard by other pet parents and horse owners across the nation. It demonstrates that healing animals through natural means isn’t just possible, but proven! “Every year nearly three million people and pets are diagnosed with cancer, as well as many other health problems attributable to unnatural chemicals,” says Chris. “The vast majority of pharmaceutical drugs do not promote healing but merely mask symptoms, have serious side effects, and suppress, weaken and compromise the immune system. Nature offers an abundant selection of safe and effective natural alternatives to help our animals’ bodies heal themselves.”
The Holistic Horse offers several unique products based on this philosophy. For instance, their natural de-wormer, WormGuard Plus, is completely nontoxic, chemical-free and very effective. Over the past 20 years, the Richardsons have added numerous other products to their line. Their herbal formulas are designed to address various equine health issues, and each is individually hand-mixed fresh upon order to ensure the highest quality and freshness. The company’s Bentonite Clay, a powerful (but all natural) detox product, helps relieve stomach ulcers and digestive issues in both horses and humans. It can also be used for external wound care, and for treating thrush and hoof abscesses. “Our world is full of toxic chemicals, drugs and poisonous pesticides,” says Chris. “Not only are they extremely harmful to us and our animals, but they’re also devastating to the environment and our planet. Our mission and goal is to educate horse and pet owners about the wonderful health benefits nature has to offer.” For the Richardsons, holistic healing is both a solution and a lifestyle — and sharing this message is their favorite part of the job. theholistichorse.com
GOLDEN YEARS Having to retire your horse can be tough. When most people consider “retirement” from an equine standpoint, they generally think about horses at an age when the wear and tear over years of use catches up to them. But this is not always the case. In fact, the need to consider retirement can happen at any time.
NOT JUST FOR THE AGED We all hope our horses will live to the ripe old age of 30 plus, while remaining as happy and healthy as possible. But an inability to perform at a desired level can strike at any time, even from the moment your horse is born. As powerful and elegant as they are, horses can also be terribly fragile at times. It sometimes does not take much for a career-ending injury to occur. It can happen in the pasture, in the trailer, while the horse is being ridden — anywhere, anytime. Horses are also regularly retired due to conditions such as wobbler syndrome, EPM, severe behavioral reactions and more.
TRANSITIONING YOUR HORSE INTO
retirement By Kelly Howling
RETIREMENT ISN’T JUST FOR OLDER HORSES. LEARN TO TELL WHEN IT’S TIME TO STOP WORKING YOUR EQUINE, AND HOW TO MAKE THE TRANSITION AS STRESS-FREE AS POSSIBLE.
WHEN IS IT TIME? The biggest question anyone asks when retiring a horse is: “When is it time?” Typically, you will get an answer along the lines of: “You’ll know when it’s time.” This knowing can come from many things: •V eterinary, farrier or other professional opinions. •U ndisputable diagnostics, reports and observations from barn staff, coaches and trainers who are close to your horse and notice him struggling. •Y our own observations, questions and doubts.
Planning for the inevitable It’s a good idea to start preparing your horse’s retirement plan from the moment you acquire him. This may sound silly, but should your horse receive a career-ending diagnosis down the road, it can prevent extra stress during an already stressful time.
• Most importantly — your horse. You know your horse better than anyone else does. You’ll see when he is struggling, despite wanting and trying his best to please you. You’ll notice when things aren’t quite right. Sometimes we may try to ignore or deny these signs, until the previously-mentioned people step in and say something, but we will always know.
ADJUSTING THE WORKLOAD Does your horse need to be fully retired, or just semiretired? Everyone has heard stories about horses that were retired from work due to age, only to quickly fade away when they no longer had a job to do. Brought back into light work, these horses began to flourish again. Depending on why your horse is being retired, it may still be possible for him to have a job, if he seems the type to thrive on that sort of thing. Options for a horse that does not seem happy just being the resident treattaster can include: • A reduced workload • Lighter work (flatwork or trails instead of jumping) • A change in occupation (therapy rather than eventing)
TOUGH QUESTIONS Should your horse reach a stage at which he is no longer be able to perform in your chosen discipline, whether it be dressage, jumping, racing or trail riding — what will you do with him?
Will you keep him? Depending on your situation, this requires an investment over many years, whether you keep him at your home or find a good retirement facility. In either case, it can be a good idea to set money aside for your horse’s retirement each month, just as you would your own. Continued on page 56. Equine Wellness
Finding a facility Finding a good, trustworthy retirement facility for your equine friend can be tougher than it seems. We have all heard horror stories of people placing their retired horses in the seemingly capable hands of farms that “specialize” in elderly and retired equines, only to return a year later and discover their horses were simply thrown out in a field with little supervision, care or thought. When looking for a facility, do your research just as you would when looking at any other type of boarding situation. If you will be unable to visit your horse on a regular basis (sometimes a good retirement facility might be a long distance away), you must make sure you really like and trust the people who own, manage and run the facility. It should obviously suit your horse’s needs and be flexible enough to continue accommodating him as those needs change or his condition worsens over time. The farm staff should be knowledgeable about the needs of retired horses, including nutrition, turnout, coat care, dentistry, applicable health conditions/concerns and so on.
Continued from page 55.
Will you try to re-home him? It’s not uncommon for people to pass on horses who, due to injury or other physical limitations, cannot perform at the level they would like them to. These horses often go to people who can enjoy them with their limitations, and use them for trail riding, basic dressage, or as therapy or companion horses for youngsters or others in need. In this situation, it is naturally your responsibility to ensure your horse is going to an excellent home (see sidebar above). No retired horse, after years of working for the people who love him, deserves to be passed from home to home, potentially ending up in a very poor situation. These horses have earned a secure retirement.
ENJOYING YOUR RETIREE People often become a little lost for a while when they can no longer ride (or drive) their horses. They are unsure what else they can do with their horses to keep them feeling important and relevant. There are plenty of ways to spend time with your retired friend, and while it may require an adjustment period, it can result in a new and greater bond between the two of you. Visit and discover other things your horse enjoys doing. The list of ideas and opportunities is endless and can include: • • • •
I n-hand work Long-lining Handwalking on trails Bath time
•H andgrazing in the shade • Hanging out by the ring watching other horses work • Being ponied off another horse while you go for a walk around the fields • Long grooming sessions • Quiet chats Your relationship with your horse does not have to end with retirement. It’s simply another leg of the wonderful journey you are taking with your equine friend.
Kelly Howling is a writer, equestrian, and former editor of Equine Wellness Magazine. She manages a large boarding facility and starts young horses for the hunter/ jumper divisions. Kelly has completed courses in equine nutrition and acupressure, and has received certification in equine bioenergy work.
ANTIOXIDANT SUPPORT EQUINE ATHLETE for your
By Amanda Ardente, DVM, PhD
How free radicals affect performance horses, and why antioxidants play such an important role in preserving good health. Oxidation is a normal metabolic process that transforms dietary nutrients, such as protein, fat and carbohydrates, into energy. An unavoidable consequence of oxidation, however, is the generation of free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), which cause damage to surrounding cells. Equine athletes experience accelerated oxidation due to exercise-induced increases in oxygen consumption and aerobic metabolism. As a result, more free radicals are generated and the body’s natural antioxidant stores are rapidly depleted. The more strenuous the exercise, the more profound the effect and the more difficult it is for the horse’s body to effectively protect itself. Antioxidants, as the body’s natural defense mechanism, combat free radicals and protect cells from harm. Supplementing your performance horse with antioxidants helps preserve his health by fighting free radicals.
Why are free radicals dangerous? Left unchecked, free radicals cause cellular and tissue damage, which negatively impacts a horse’s performance. Specifically, free radicals generated by exercise-induced aerobic metabolism contribute to myopathies or other diseases of the muscle, which delay muscle recovery time. Additionally, free radicals exacerbate the airway inflammation normally accompanying exercise, and underlying airway diseases, like equine asthma. Circulating
unchecked free radicals can also threaten vision by targeting the sensitive cells within the eye, aggravating underlying ocular diseases such as equine recurrent uveitis (aka ERU, or moon blindness) and immune-mediated keratitis (aka IMMK).
Free radicals attacking cell
Cell with oxidative stress
The importance of antioxidants To optimize performance and minimize post-performance recovery time, equine athletes must maintain respiratory health, excellent visual acuity, and strong muscles. Antioxidant supplementation is, therefore, necessary to ward off the negative consequences associated with over-abundant free radicals. Some of the most important antioxidants requiring supplementation in horses are vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and grapeseed extract. •V itamin E contains a potent antioxidant, d-alpha-tocopherol, which is incorporated into cell membranes, strengthening and protecting the cell from damaging free radicals. •O mega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are also incorporated into cell membranes and have similar effects to d-alphatocopherol. EPA and DHA also inhibit peroxidation and help promote production of the body’s own natural antioxidant enzymes. Specifically, DHA reduces inflammation associated with airway disease and improves clinical symptoms. •L utein and grapeseed extract are particularly important antioxidants for maintaining retinal health, concentrating in the photoreceptors and protecting the retina from harmful wavelengths of naturallyoccurring blue light. Adding a variety of antioxidants to your equine athlete’s daily supplement regimen helps promote his health and performance. In the face of disease, antioxidants complement traditional therapies by supporting the immune system at a cellular level. If you have an equine athlete and are concerned with optimizing his performance and maintaining his overall health and wellness, consider giving him targeted antioxidant supplementation and support. Dr. Amanda Ardente is a veterinarian with a PhD in animal nutrition. Based in Gainesville, FL, she provides nutritional consultation services for a variety of animals, from dogs and cats, to horses and goats, to fish and dolphins. Dr. Ardente believes nutrition plays a critical role in the prevention and treatment of disease, and she seeks to address clinically-relevant nutrition concerns for all species.
COMFREY (Symphytum officinale) By Melanie Falls
Known from medieval times as “knitbone”, common comfrey is one of nature’s most plentiful gifts, used for everything from stomach ulcers and hormone balancing to healing topical bumps and bruises. Thanks to its allantoin compound, comfrey is known for its ability to rebuild cells and tissues, and for that reason, is a popular ingredient in topical salves and liniments. In recent years, studies have shown that feeding comfrey in excess can be toxic to both human and animal livers, so for this article, we will focus on the topical application of the plant.
Plant parts and uses The root and leaves of comfrey can be used for topical application. Because the roots include mucilage, you can grind up the root to create a sticky paste that can be applied directly to the skin. Alternatively, you can boil the roots and 58
leaves to make a tincture or tea, which can also be applied topically or inside a carrier (such as a salve or oil). Comfrey should not be applied to open wounds, but is a great healer of muscle soreness, rashes, burns and other skin irritants.
Most common uses for horses Keep some dried comfrey in your tack room as an emergency treatment for bumps, bruises, burns, sprains and tendon injuries. You can make a poultice from the leaves by soaking them in hot water, wringing them out, and placing them in a clean cloth to apply directly on the affected area. Or create a tincture to put in an oil base or salve and rub into the affected area. Lastly, try making a spray by boiling the leaves for eight hours and mixing with water. Spritz on sore muscles or hooves to encourage a quick recovery and promote skin/laminae health.
Home grown Comfrey is a hardy perennial that grows in full sun or partial shade. If growing common comfrey, it’s best to grow from seed and cut it back frequently as it will take over the garden. Not only does comfrey do wonders for your horse’s health, it also works as a fantastic soil amendment — infusing nitrogen into the soil with its deep roots — and is a great compost builder and mulch.
Melanie Falls is a holistic health aficionado and advocate, having healed her own horse, 21-year-old Desario, with natural methods. She writes articles for various equine publications and online blogs and is the owner of Whole Equine, an online store featuring a large catalog of top quality all-natural horse care products, including supplements, fly sprays, first aid and much more. She offers free nutritional consultations to all her customers and is passionate about improving the lives and health of our large four-legged friends. Contact wholeequine.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 844-946-5378.
RESOURCE GUIDE SCHOOLS & TRAINING
ASSOCIATIONS Canadian Barefoot Hoof Association — CBHA Renfrew, ON Canada Phone: (613) 432-3620 Email: email@example.com Website: www.cdnbha.ca Association for the Advancement of Natural Hoof Care Practices — AANHCP Lompoc, CA USA Phone: (805) 735-8480 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.aanhcp.net Pacific Hoof Care Practioners — PHCP Ventura, CA USA Email: email@example.com Website: www.pacifichoofcare.org Equine Science Academy — ESA Catawissa, MO USA Phone: (636) 274-3401 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.equinesciencesacademy.com
BAREFOOT HOOF TRIMMING Anne Riddell — AHA Barrie, ON Canada Phone: (705) 427-1682 Email: email@example.com Website: www.barefoothorsecanada.com Barefoot Hoofcare Specialist Kate Romanenko Woodville ON Canada Phone: (705) 374-5456 Natural Horse, Natural Hoof Sarah Graves Boone, CO USA Phone: (719) 557-0052 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cynthia Niemela — Barefoot Hoof Trimming Minneapolis, MN USA Phone: (612) 481-3036 Website: www.liberatedhorsemanship.com Better Be Barefoot Lockport, NY USA Phone: (716) 432-2218 Email: email@example.com Website: www.betterbebarefoot.com
Jeannean Mercuri — The Hoof Fairy, LLC Long Island, NY USA Phone: (631) 434-5032 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.neanpiggy.com, PHCP Mentor & Clinician, AHA Certified Member, Area Served. Natural Barefoot Trimming Emma Everly, AANHCP CP Columbiana, OH USA Phone: (330) 482-6027 Email: email@example.com Website: www.barefoottrimming.com The Veterinary Hospital Nancy Johnson Eugene, OR USA Phone: (541) 688-1835 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Horsense Natural Hoof Care Cori Brennan Sharon, SC USA Phone: (803) 927-0018 Email: email@example.com Kel Manning, CP, Field Instructor, NTW Clinician Knoxville, TN USA Phone: (865) 765-9632 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mary Ann Kennedy Fairview, TN USA Phone: (615) 412-4222 Email: email@example.com Website: www.maryannkennedy.com Icicle Equine Services Katie Garrett Leavenworth, WA USA Phone: (425) 422-4799 Email: Kegarrett88@yahoo.com
To advertise in the EW Resource Guide, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
59 Equine WellnessResource View theWellness Wellness Resource Guide Guide online online at: at: EquineWellnessMagazine.com EquineWellnessMagazine.com View the
The Masterson Method®, Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork Weekend Seminars, Advanced, and Certification Courses Worldwide Phone: 641-472-1312 Email: email@example.com Website: www.MastersonMethod.com Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis Larkspur, CO USA Phone: (303) 681-3033 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.animalacupressure.com Virginia Natural Horsemanship Training Center Blacksburg, VA USA Phone: (540) 953-3360 Email: sylvia@NaturalHorseTraining.com Website: www.NaturalHorseTraining.com Healing Touch for Animals Drea Robertson Highlands Ranch, CO USA Phone: (303) 470-6572 Email: email@example.com Website: www.healingtouchforanimals.com
THERMOGRAPHY Equine IR Bonsall, CA USA (888) 762-2547 Phone: info@equineIR.com Website: www.equineIR.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.thermalequine.com
Equine Wellness 59 Equine Wellness 59
THE BENEFITS OF RIDING BITLESS
By Lana Nafziger-LeVeck
Bits have their uses, but for many horses, they’re nothing but a nuisance. Switching to bitless can improve your horse’s performance and overall well-being.
Trying to have a conversation with horsepeople about riding bitless versus bitted can bring out some very strong opinions on both sides. But as we all know, no two horses are the same. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” could be a positive rule to follow when considering something new for you and your horse — and that includes going bitless!
RIDING BITLESS CAN IMPROVE PERFORMANCE Going bitless for even a short period, no matter what discipline you are in, can be like hitting the refresh button on your computer. For some horses, it can be lifechanging. Yes — going bitless can change the rest of your horse’s life and riding career in a positive way! The mouth is one of the most sensitive parts of the horse's anatomy. When a bit is used, even if you’re gentle with your hands, your horse will feel it immediately. This can affect performance and cause a horse to fall far short of his potential. On the other hand, many horses will immediately relax and enjoy their jobs without the distraction of a bit.
Photos courtesy Bianca McCarty Photography
If you can't seem to find a bit that makes your horse happy, no bit at all might be the answer. For instance, if you notice that your horse tosses his head when you pull on the reins and refuses to perform simple tasks, he could be telling you he doesn’t like the pressure on the sensitive bars of his mouth.
HOW DOES A BITLESS BRIDLE WORK? The bitless bridle works in an entirely different way than one with a bit. Equine Wellness
• A bitted bridle enables the rider to communicate by applying pressure solely on the horse’s mouth. • A bitless bridle, on the other hand, allows the rider to communicate through painless pressure that is distributed around the whole of the horse’s head. The bitless bridle distributes its gentle pressure to far less sensitive tissues and distributes an even amount of pressure over a wide area. It does this through two loops — one over the poll and one over the nose (see image below). Essentially, it gives the rider an inoffensive method of communication by applying a nudge to one half of the head for steering, or a hug to the whole head for stopping.
WHEN TO MAKE THE SWITCH Some horses refuse to respond to a bit. The harder you pull, the more they grab down on the bit and pull against you. Some do this to try and stop the pain, while others are simply using this stubborn behavior as a way to say, “I can pull too, let’s see who wins.” As the saying goes — it takes two. If your horse is pulling against you, don’t pull back. This will start a vicious cycle that will cause your horse pain and hinder your training. Instead, consider going bitless. Riding bitless will give your horse nothing to pull against. Teaching a horse to bend and become supple is much easier bitless, as it alleviates his first response of tossing his head and resisting your command.
Some very accomplished riders have had great success riding bitless. Dressage rider Alizel Froment of France, for instance, has performed bitless Grand Prix Dressage demonstrations. Horses riding in advanced three-day events, Grand Prix jumping courses and barrel races have all gone bitless with great success. Of course, not all disciplines allow you to compete bitless, so be sure to check with the governing body of your association. That said, even if you can’t compete without a bit, training bitless at home for short periods can relax and refresh your horse’s mind and lighten his responses to your aids.
HOW TO MAKE THE TRANSITION Transitioning to bitless requires a surprisingly small amount of effort and time. In many cases, horses catch on in only one ride. But when trying something new, it’s important to ensure you’re setting your horse up for success. Don't try something unfamiliar when he is just getting back into training after a long break from work, or when the weather isn’t ideal. Start on a good day when your horse has been ridden consistently in your normal training program. A small, enclosed area (round pen, indoor arena, etc.) is best when you’re first transitioning to bitless. You can even longline your horse in the bitless bridle before you start riding with it.
WHY GO BITLESS? Switching to bitless might make your horse a better performer, but it also offers numerous other perks. • I t’s great to have a bitless bridle on hand for certain situations. It’s a good option if you’re riding right after your horse has had dental work done. Or use it on long trail rides so you horse can graze and drink without the nuisance of having a bit in his mouth. •O lder horses with severe tooth loss will be much more comfortable bitless. •A bitless bridle is a great option for riding lessons and therapeutic riding programs when riders have not yet developed the skills necessary to ride with a bit. •G oing bitless can also help you solve persistent behavior problems, since it’s possible the bit is the source of his bad manners! Who knows — you might have a much better horse than you think!
Remember, you’re essentially going from “yelling” at your horse with a bit, to suddenly having a nice calm conversation with him. The switch may come as a surprise to him — but it’ll be a pleasant one! Lana Nafziger-LeVeck shares her family’s passion for horses, which goes back three generations. She has been a lifetime hunter/jumper competitor and horse owner, and she also owns and operates PHS Saddlery, an equine equipment manufacturing company started by her father, Paul Nafziger, over 65 years ago. In 2016, they added the Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle to their line.
TO THE RESCUE
RENAISSANCE RESCUE RANCH Equine Wellness will donate 25% of each subscription purchased using promo code RENRESC to Renaissance Rescue Ranch.
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 2009 LOCATION: Farmington, MO 1
TYPES OF ANIMALS THEY WORK WITH: Renaissance Rescue Ranch is a no-kill rescue primarily devoted to off-the-track thoroughbreds retired from their careers and — due to age, injury or temperament — aren't candidates for rehoming. It also houses other equines from time to time, such as quarter horses, drafts, kill-pen rescues, donkeys and abandoned horses.
NUMBER OF STAFF/VOLUNTEERS/FOSTER HOMES: “We have three paid staff and an assortment of volunteers of all ages and walks of life,” says Barb Hutchinson, founder and president. Renaissance Ranch has opened its doors to horse lovers with developmental disabilities, teenagers and young adults, victims of PTSD, court-mandated community service workers, and equine adopters and families.
FUNDRAISING PROJECTS: The ranch is funded primarily by Barbara and her 2
husband, Laurence. This revenue is supplemented by donations (often from racetrack trainers and owners placing horses at the ranch), an ongoing private funding program from a New York equine foundation, and the St. Francis County Rotary club’s fundraising projects. Most recently, a volunteer has been pursuing grants from the Thoroughbred Charities of America.
FAVORITE RESCUE STORY: “Squirt came to Renaissance Rescue Ranch at six months old with severe deformities in both front legs,” says Barb. Although euthanasia was recommended, Barb opted against it. Instead, she made several trips to a veterinary clinic in Columbia, MO where Squirt was cared for by a team of loving experts.
Despite treatment, the little filly was still unable to stand or walk, and spent the first two years of her life lying in a stall. But Barb refused to give up on her. She organized for extensive research to be done on Squirt’s condition at a very small clinic in Cody, WY. “The vet there has just two stalls and only takes in very special cases that pique his interest,” says Barb. “He agreed to take on Squirt.” Barb drove Squirt to Wyoming, and surgery was performed on both her legs. That was in December of 2018 — today, the little filly is walking normally. “This is a story of hope, and Squirt is my little miracle horse,” says Barb. Follow Renaissance Rescue Ranch at From top to bottom: 1. Renaissance Rescue Ranch is one of the largest Thoroughbred rescues in the country, with five pastures and four barns, one of which is outfitted for blind horses. The rescue can house up to 140 horses at one time.
2. The ranch places a large focus on the emotional needs of its equine residents. If two horses arrive as a bonded pair, they keep them together, especially in the initial stages of their stay. This helps reduce stress and foster a positive attitude in the horses, which positively affects their overall physical health, aids in retraining, and promotes a more rapid adoption process.
3-4. Squirt — before and after. For the rescue’s president and founder, Barb, running a no-kill shelter means doing everything she can to keep horses alive and well. Although Squirt’s vet recommended she be euthanized, Barb fought to fix her legs so she could live a happy life. Today, thanks to her persistence, Squirt is walking normally.
EVENTS Overview of TCM — Equine or Small Animal Online Course
This Overview covers the basic underlying concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): Yin/Yang Theory in relation to the animal body and assessment of conditions; Meridian Theory and the meridian system; The Five-Element Theory; the internal organ systems, zang-fu organs in relation to the body; and how the vital substances function within the body. This course provides an understanding of how the Chinese perceived the living body and offers tools for assessment and session work. This course is required for the Practitioner Certificate Program. A Certificate of Completion for 20 LUs is available upon completion of the online quizzes following each of the eight units, and a two-part final examination. For more information: email@example.com www.animalacupressure.com
Equine Massage Correspondence Program On Demand — Online Course
This is a non-certificate program for animal owners and lovers. You will learn about the anatomy of a horse, pre-massage considerations, recommendations, and contraindications as well as massage strokes, pressure, techniques, and sequence. Manual and lessons are PDF downloads upon registration. For more information: (303) 660-9390 firstname.lastname@example.org www.rmsaam.com
Healing Touch for Animals® Level 1 Course
June 14–16, 2019 — Cincinnati, OH Introduction to Healing Touch: Friday / 6:00pm – 10:00pm This class is a prerequisite of the Small Animal Class. Small Animal Class: Saturday / 9:00am – 6:00pm This class is a prerequisite for the Large Animal Class. Large Animal Class: Sunday / 9:00am – 6:00pm
This class is required in order to apply to become a Healing Touch for Animals® Certified Practitioner. Working with the horses' large energy systems benefits students with greater energetic awareness and well-rounded experience. For more information: Debbie Abshire | (513) 382-4951 Cincinnati@HealingTouchforAnimals.com www.healingtouchforanimals.com
Extreme Mustang Makeover
June 20–22, 2019 — Lexington, KY This wild horse training competition will offer two divisions. Youth (ages 8–17) can compete with a mustang they adopt in-hand and adults (ages 18 and over) will ride their assigned mustang in preliminary classes to compete for a spot in the top-10 freestyle finals. This event will award $25,000 in cash and prizes. Preliminary classes are free to attend and all adult competing mustangs will be available for adoption after the event. For more information: (888) 695-0888 www.extrememustangmakeover.com
Beyond Horse Massage Seminar-Workshop
June 29–30, 2019 — Sherwood, OR The Masterson Method® Weekend Seminar is the next practical step to take after reading/viewing the Beyond Horse Massage Book/DVD. In these hands-on workshops, you’ll learn how to recognize and use the visual responses of the horse to your touch to find and release accumulated stress in key junctions of the body that most affect performance. Jim Masterson has successfully taught these techniques to hundreds of owners, therapists, and trainers worldwide, enabling them to open new levels of communication and relationship with their horses. It is a prerequisite to purchase and review the book and/or DVD: Beyond Horse Massage before attending the seminar-workshop. For more information: (641) 472-1312 email@example.com www.mastersonmethod.com/contact-us
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July 12–14, 2019 — Lexington, KY Come out to the Kentucky Horse Park for the 30th Annual BreyerFest and enjoy a unique experience! BreyerFest offers workshops, free seminars and many Hands-On-Hobby demos that bring together all areas of the model horse world. Spend the day meeting horses, taking pony rides, painting your very own Stablemates® model or petting exotic animals in the petting zoo! And don't forget about the endless shopping in The Marketplace, the Artisans' Gallery, and the Swap Meet! For more information: email@example.com www.breyerhorses.com
Centered Riding – Holistic Horsemanship Retreat
July 21–28, 2019 — Dubois, WY Join Heidi Potter on a memorable, allinclusive week-long retreat at the beautiful Wyoming Bitterroot Ranch. Immerse yourself in horses by being and living with over 200 horses of varying breeds, abilities and training levels. Enjoy learning holistic horsemanship techniques designed to improve communication and understanding on the ground, Centered Riding lessons to improve overall balance, confidence and comfort, and guided pleasure trail rides in the vast Wyoming countryside. Participants will enjoy living in cozy, rustic cabins surrounded by mountains and streams, wholesome, healthy meals and time visiting the baby pasture. Optional activities include yoga, a rodeo, cattle sorting and square dancing. For more information: Hadley Fox | (800) 545-0019 firstname.lastname@example.org www.heidipotter.com
World’s Championship Horse Show August 17–24, 2019 — Louisville, KY
The world’s richest and most prestigious Saddlebred horse show attracts spectators and competitors from across the world. More than 2,000 horses compete for over $1 million in awards during this seven-day event. For more information: (502) 367-5300 email@example.com www.kystatefair.org/wchs/index.html
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EquineWellnessMagazine.com ISSUE 1
March 25, 2019
rch 2019 February/Ma
EMAIL YOUR CLASSIFIEDS TO: info@EquineWellnessMagazine.com NATURAL PRODUCTS EQUIMEDIC — The world leader in Equine First Aid is committed to the safety and well-being of your equine partner. Choose from a variety of complete kits, or design your own. All refill, restocking, and other optional products are available on our website. (866) 211-1269; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.equimedic.com FOXDEN EQUINE — Producing premium equine nutritional and health products since 1996. Our staff has over 100 combined years of horse management and competition experience, and each proudly and confidently use Foxden Equine products for our equine and canine companions. We are dedicated to the research, development and marketing of high-quality supplements that benefit the health and well being of equines. (540) 337-5450; www.foxdenequine.com THE HOLISTIC HORSE — We understand how important optimal health is, this is why we are committed to providing the very best all-natural holistic products for your animals and take great pride in helping provide a healthy lifestyle and sense of well being. Products ranging from digestive care and pain relief to joint care, breath freshener, flea and insect control and much more. For more information or questions: (877) 774-0594; email@example.com; www.theholistichorse.com WHOLE EQUINE — Is your online resource for natural horse care products and equipment. We are proud to offer an array of natural horse care products, including supplements, first aid, cleaning, equipment and other items that help horses reach their optimal physical and mental health. (884) 946-5378; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.wholeequine.com
HORSE CARE EQUI-LIBRIA — Integrated Performance Bodywork is very effective since the horse actively participates in their treatment, thereby maximizing its benefit. A preliminary assessment of key areas starts the session, but then the horse guides the treatment with physical displays and indications of where they need the attention. Effective for all disciplines. For more information: (647) 633-2113; www.equi-libria.com
CLASSIFIEDS RETAILERS & DISTRIBUTORS WANTED THE PERFECT HORSE™ — Organic Blue Green Algae is the single most nutrient dense food on the planet with naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, and amino acids; all are provided in The Perfect Horse (E3Live® FOR HORSES) Our product sells itself; others make claims, we guarantee results. Join a winning team at (877) 357-7187; email@example.com; www.The-Perfect-Horse.com
SCHOOLS & TRAINING EQUINE ACUPRESSURE FOR HEALTH & PERFORMANCE — Learn to assess & resolve your horse’s issues — Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute training programs, Books, DVDs, Meridian Charts, & Apps. www.animalacupressure.com; firstname.lastname@example.org EQUISSAGE — Since 1991, our Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification program has certified over 20,000 students from every state and over 20 countries in Equine Sports Massage Therapy. And since 2000, we have certified Equine and Canine Sports Massage Therapists from across the country and worldwide through our home study programs. Equissage is an Approved Provider with the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage Bodyworkers (NCBTMB) to offer 50 hours of Continuing Education units through any of our programs. To view available courses, please visit our website. (800) 843-0224; email@example.com; www.equissage.com
TACK SHOPS EAGLEWOOD EQUESTRIAN SUPPLIES — Located in the GTA, our showroom is open by appointment only. Please contact us to make an appointment. In addition to our location, we also travel to horse shows and events across Ontario. We hand pick high-quality products which are available for English disciplines (Dressage, Hunter, Jumper, Endurance, Trekking, and Gaited), and are starting to branch into Western discipline products. (416) 708-1898; www.eaglewoodequestrian.ca
HARMANY EQUINE CLINIC, LTD — Bringing holistic healing to horses from all walks of life, backyard retirees to Olympic competitors since 1990. Over the years Dr. Joyce Harman has observed and adapted to the changing needs of our horses and clients. Twenty-plus years ago, no one had heard of Lyme disease or Insulin Resistance, yet today that makes up a large part of this clinical practice. Small animal services are available as well. (540) 364-4077; muzzles@harmanyequine. com; www.harmanyequine.com make up a large part of this clinical practice. Small animal services are available as well. (540) 364-4077; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.harmanyequine.com
#6 — THIRD EYE/ BROW CHAKRA AND #7 — CROWN CHAKRA By Joan Ranquet
The horse’s sixth and seventh chakras are the epicenters of intuition and higher consciousness. The sixth chakra is considered the third eye chakra, the seat of intuition. In horses, this correlates to the ears, nose, eyes, brain, nervous system and pineal gland. The seventh chakra — the crown — is the center of connection to faith and spirituality. It is at the top of the head in horses and governs the entire skeletal and muscular system.
IMBALANCES IN THESE CHAKRAS Imbalances in the sixth chakra can often result from an injury or weakness in the horse’s system that has thrown off her instinct. It can be caused by an overworked adrenal system, toxic foods, bad water, pesticides, over-vaccination, chemical wormers, too many antibiotics, etc. Not only does this deaden the stomach and wreak havoc on the nervous system, it can throw off a horse’s ability to concentrate. For instance, a horse that spooks often may have had a head injury that moved the cranial bones and the placement of the eye in the socket. In this case, her vision is so different that she doesn’t trust what she sees. If you notice your horse protects the top of her head (just above her eyes) and feels threatened when you reach to touch that area, it’s possible her sixth chakra needs to be brought back into balance. 66
SIXTH AND SEVENTH CHAKRAS
being tiny destinations. In many cases, acupuncture can help with pain, stress and neurological disorders. Aside from acupuncture, you can talk to an integrative vet about incorporating homeopathy, flower essences, essential oils and/or grounding crystals into your horse’s life to help bring back balance.
6th Chakra — Intuition, third eye, eyes, ears, sinus 7th Chakra — Connection to the divine, oneness, trust in the human, trust in the universe, skeletal/ nervous system
While the crown chakra in humans is the direct conduit to the divine, this area in horses represents faith — largely their faith in humans. If a horse trusts humans, we consider her crown chakra balanced. If she has had a history of abuse or mistrust, you’ll often see a high head carriage.
BALANCING THE SIXTH AND SEVENTH CHAKRAS There are many ways to help ground and balance these two chakras. Acupuncture is a great place to start. This modality applies very small needles to points along the body’s meridians — a system that is not unlike a network of highways dedicated to organs throughout the body, with the acupuncture points
To balance her third eye chakra, take your first two fingers and swipe them across your horse’s forehead, from her right to left, six to eight times. When looking at her, you’ll be swiping from your left to right. This is very grounding, and can be a nice way to greet your friend each day whether her chakras are balanced or not! Your horse’s seventh chakra is best balanced through connection. In other words, be sure to spend plenty of quality time with her, taking care to speak in gentle tones and emit only positive vibes. In fact, you can help bring all your horse’s chakras back into harmony by developing your partnership and taking steps to improve her quality of life. When her chakras are balanced, she’ll be a better companion – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically! Joan Ranquet is an animal communicator, energy healer, author and founder of Communication with all Life University (CWALU). She offers weekend workshops and home study courses as well as certification programs in animal communication and energy healing for animals. Joanranquet.com