V16I1 (Feb/Mar/Apr)

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Equine Wellness


Dawn Cumby-Dallin


Jamie McClure

COLUMNISTS & CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Julia Alebrand Sara Ballinger Patricia Bona, DC Bill Bookout Laura Boynton Melanie Falls Laurie Gallatin, DVM Karen Gellman, DVM Justine Griesenauer, DVM Sara Jordan-Heintz Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD Christine King, DVM Josh Mallard Tab Pigg Lisa Skylis Amy Snow Judi Whipple Nancy Zidonis ADMINISTRATION PUBLISHER: Redstone Media Group Inc. PRESIDENT/C.E.O.: Tim Hockley CIRCULATION & OFFICE MANAGER: Libby Sinden ACCOUNTING: Susan Smith SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES MANAGER:

Brittany Sillaots

SUBMISSIONS Please email all editorial material to Emily Watson, Editor, at Emily@RedstoneMediaGroup.com. We welcome previously unpublished articles and color pictures either in jpeg, tif or disc form at 300 dpi. We cannot guarantee that either articles or pictures will be used or that they will be returned. We reserve the right to publish all letters received. You can also mail submissions to: Equine Wellness Magazine, 160 Charlotte St., Suite 202, Peterborough, ON, Canada, K9J 2T8. Please direct other correspondence to info@RedstoneMediaGroup.com.

DEALER OR GROUP INQUIRIES WELCOME Equine Wellness Magazine is available at a discount for resale in retail shops and through various organizations. Call Libby at 1-866-764-1212 ext. 100 or fax us at 705-742-4596 or e-mail Libby@RedstoneMediaGroup.com. ADVERTISING SALES National Sales Manager/Editorial Associate: Kat Shaw 1-866-764-1212 ext. 315 KatShaw@RedstoneMediaGroup.com Business Development/Editorial Associate: Becky Starr, 1-866-764-1212 ext. 221 Becky@RedstoneMediaGroup.com CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Classified@EquineWellnessMagazine.com TO SUBSCRIBE Subscription price at time of this issue in the U.S. and Canada is $20.00 including taxes for four issues shipped via surface mail. Subscriptions can be processed by: Website: EquineWellnessMagazine.com Phone: 1-866-764-1212 ext. 115 US MAIL Equine Wellness Magazine 6834 S University Blvd PMB 155 Centennial, CO 80122 CDN MAIL Equine Wellness Magazine 202-160 Charlotte St., Peterborough, ON, Canada K9J 2T8

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Subscriptions are payable by VISA, MasterCard, American Express, check or money order. The material in this magazine is not intended to replace the care of veterinary practitioners. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the editor, and different views may appear in other issues. Refund policy: call or write our customer service department and we will refund unmailed issues.


Equine Wellness Magazine (ISSN 1718-5793) is published five times a year by Redstone Media Group Inc. Publications Mail Agreement #40884047. Entire contents copyright© 2021. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, without prior written permission of the publisher. Publication date: January 2021.

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Get a load of this black beauty! There’s something so majestic about this issue’s cover star. Whether it’s the healthy sheen of the ebony coat or the picturesque scene in the background, we’re convinced this horse is posing with the intent of being featured on a magazine cover. Regardless, we hope it inspires you to focus on the well-being of your own equine companions this season — starting with the pages that follow!

Equine Wellness


CONTENTS February/March/April 2021

Departments 6 Editorial 19 Herb blurb 23 Product picks 27 Product profile — Nutrena

31 Must-try


44 From the NASC 45 Classifieds 45 Marketplace


Features 8

E asing back into show training after a year off (due to COVID-19)

It’s 2021… and you and your horse are both feeling a little rusty. These steps will help you ease back into a successful training regimen!


P ractical ways

to extend your horse’s lifespan

Improve your horse’s wellbeing and longevity with this helpful health advice.


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10 13

EATING WELL Equine nutrition 101

Is your horse’s diet up to snuff? Let’s take it back to the basics of equine nutrition, with some diet tips from the pros.

SEASONAL WELLNESS Help for your horse’s cold weather stiffness

Is your horse plagued by cold weather stiffness? Exercise and joint support supplements can help alleviate his discomfort.


H EALTHY HOOVES 4 reasons your horse’s hooves might be causing him pain Is your horse letting on that he has pain in his hooves? Here are four common reasons why this might be the case.




10 common health mistakes horse caretakers make


Are you making any of these common mistakes when it comes to your horse’s health?


EED TO KNOW N How rider weight affects your horse


ARN AND FARM B Donating your horse to a non-profit

Weight is less important than skill when it comes to protecting your horse’s spine.


RENDING NOW T 5 horse-related podcasts every equestrian needs in their life Looking for a new listen this season? Check out one — or all — of these horse-related podcasts!


H EALTH WATCH How time off from riding can affect saddle fit

If you’ve taken some time off from riding, be sure to reassess the fit of your horse’s saddle before climbing back into it!


I N FOCUS Making horses more accessible to marginalized communities A look at marginalized groups within the equestrian community, and how their growing representation is increasing inclusivity and accessibility.

Looking to rehome your horse? Consider donating her to a non-profit organization!


N ON-TOXIC LIVING Hidden toxins around your farm Protect your horses by keeping an eye out for these hidden toxins around your farm!


P HYSICAL WELL-BEING How pour-in pads can prevent and aid hoof issues

Looking for some extra hoof protection for your barefoot horse? Here’s how pour-in pads can help prevent and treat common hoof issues.


N EWSWORTHY New study to help develop health and well-being guidelines for air-transported horses

Tens of thousands of horses are transported by air every year, yet very little is known about how stressors on planes increase their risk of harm. Italian researchers have set out to learn more.


How to identify and release pain and restrictions in your horse

Are old or new injuries causing your horse pain? Use this cross-fiber grooming technique to release any restrictions, improve his posture, and ease his discomfort.

Social Media Tips, contests and more! /EquineWellnessMagazine News, events, and tips! @ EquineWellness Tips, horse photos, and more! EquineWellness

38 Equine Wellness



A time of rebirth First and foremost — happy 2021! Despite the ongoing pandemic, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. There’s nothing quite like a fresh start, especially after a particularly challenging chapter. But the turn of the calendar year isn’t the only opportunity to start afresh. As the snow begins to melt, our horses shed their winter coats, and the promise of warm rain hangs in the air, we can all rejoice in yet another new beginning — spring, the season of rebirth. Of course, as we forge ahead in anticipation of all this season has to offer us and our equine companions, it’s important that we pause to reflect and reassess. Considerations like diet changes, saddle fit, and new training regimes should be at the forefront of our minds, and let’s not forget to think about deworming, mud management, and visits from the vet and farrier. In other words, rebirth means opportunity, but it also means responsibility. Not to worry, though — we’ll help guide you with this jam-packed issue of Equine Wellness! Right off the bat (on page 8), we’ll help you ease back into training no matter how much time you’ve taken off due to cold weather and COVID-19. But before you hop back into the saddle, you’ll want to read our article on page 24 about how a lack of riding can affect the fit of your horse’s tack. If you notice any problem areas as far as mobility and hoof health are concerned, flip to pages 14 and 28 to get to the bottom of them — you’ll also find some expert


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treatment tips to try before calling in the professionals. Our veterinary-authored articles will help you avoid some common health mistakes (page 16) and give you some simple ideas to extend your horse’s lifespan (page 32) — all good things to know this season, and always! It seems fitting that the theme of this issue is integrative therapies. Not only because it’s a good time of year to incorporate some new holistic modalities and remedies into your horse’s healthcare regime, but because integration goes hand in hand with rebirth. An effective fresh start doesn’t mean wiping the slate clean — it means integrating all we’ve learned (about horsecare, handwashing protocols, adaptation — you name it) and carrying it with us into the next season. It means thriving, not in spite of what we’ve been through, but because of it. Here’s to a great season, and an even better year. As always, happy reading!

Stay well,

Emily Watson, Senior Content Editor

Equine Wellness


It’s 2021… and you and your horse are both feeling a little rusty. It's difficult to say whether competitions will be open this year, but regardless these steps will help you ease back into a successful training regimen!

g n i s a E

BACK INTO SHOW TRAINING AFTER A YEAR OFF (DUE TO COVID-19) By Judi Whipple The COVID shutdown hasn’t been entirely bad. Without the pressure of competition, it’s been an opportunity to spend time just enjoying your horse. But now that the end of isolation is in sight (knock on wood), it’s time to make a plan. Preferably one that doesn’t cause you to lose sight of the enjoyment and relaxation you found when there were no event deadlines!



Set your goals and make a plan

Write down your primary goal to solidify it in your mind, and hang it in a prominent spot to keep you focused. Pick a realistic goal — one that focuses on the strengths of your teamwork. For example, picking a competition level that is at least one level below what you are practicing sets your horse up for success. Break the goal into smaller pieces to devise a training plan. If the goal is to win a blue ribbon in the low hunter division, write down what the prerequisites are to safely get to this point. Your list may look something like this:

1. Effective response to leg, seat and rein aids 2. Ability to adjust pace at the canter 3. Calm and safe negotiation of a 2'6" jumping course 4. Quiet lead changes 5. Rider fitness and balance 6. The ability of both you and your horse to stay focused off the farm 8

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Know the requirements of your competition discipline

Most disciplines have rule books and resources online, so spend some time studying these. Watch a competition in person, or on video. Just as you did with your primary goal, break down the requirements of the discipline into smaller pieces. Avoid the temptation of jumping ahead too quickly. Take #4 on the list at left as an example — the quiet flying lead change. Just trying a flying change may result in a scared horse and a frustrated rider. Instead, check your resources and find the prerequisites for a single flying change. Then practice them as follows: a) straightness in the canter depart; b) ability to get a canter walk on a straight line in both direction, c) immediate response to the leg for both forward and sideways in each direction. Some equestrian sports, such as trail competitions, make the task of breaking things down into smaller pieces easy. For these, you practice one obstacle at a time before putting the whole course together. Dressage competitions are broken down into levels with several tests in each, with horses and riders practicing movements at one level before moving up. Jumping competitions, of course, move up in height

increments. These can be broken down even further by beginning with a relaxed horse at the walk, then the trot, then the canter. You get the idea — everything you teach your horse can be brought back further, beginning with a horse that leads and stands quietly.


Mark your calendar

Write out the training schedule, leaving plenty of time before the first show. Once you have a date, look again at your prerequisite list and break things down into smaller pieces for each week. Prioritize the list with the idea of molding yourself and your horse into a healthy athletic team. This process is very personal, since not every horse will need the same things. One might need relaxation techniques and another more jumping sessions. As an example, your weekly hunter-jumper training plan might look something like this:

• Monday — Ground work and light riding to supple and review basic transitions • Tuesday — Work on timing and pace over simple ground poles • Wednesday — Review steps to improve problem areas, and jump single fences • T hursday — Course work • Friday — Trail ride • Saturday — Review of challenging areas, ending with exercises to stretch and relax • Sunday — Day off

The plan is not written in stone, so review it daily. The important thing is to have a starting point and consistent warm-up, something to keep returning to when adversity strikes. Sometimes you may have to choose an alternate route, but having a master plan will help you eventually get back on track. The map keeps you moving forward even if at times it is only in baby steps.


Practice and dress rehearse

The more you and your horse are exposed to things that might occur at a competition, the better you’ll be at overcoming them. If possible, practice trailering to the competition grounds or a similar atmosphere. Do all the pre-show primping such as bathing, braiding, and blanketing overnight, then do a mock ride at the show grounds. If that isn’t possible, recreate the expectations at your barn — you can

even solicit an audience and have someone use a megaphone, anything that will reduce surprises on the big day. As you look forward to showing, emphasize the positive and remember to regularly add a bit of what you discovered during the pandemic — the simple pleasures that bring you and your horse joy. Taking the time for proper preparation will foster relaxation and success. Enjoy the journey together, one step at a time.

START WITH A HEALTHY HORSE AND RIDER! As an athletic team, you want to keep both yourself and your horse physically and mentally fit! Schedule your horse's vetting, farrier, and dental work well before show season to avoid last minute surprises. You are an important part of the show team, so schedule your own yearly checkup and dental work too. Foster a healthy mental attitude and never underestimate the value of a relaxed horse. Signs of tension include pinned ears, swishing tail, stiffness, bit resistance, rushing, and stopping. If there is any sign of anxiety, back up and try something easier to see if the tension goes away. It is never a sign of weakness to ask for an expert’s opinion if needed. Perform regular stretching exercises to help release tension in your horse. Incorporate stretching into your daily riding. Begin each session with large bent lines such as serpentines, and circles for lateral flexion; combining these with transitions between and within gaits will also supple your horse longitudinally. Ending each session with long and low stretching will keep his back soft for the next ride.

Judi Whipple has been working in various aspects of the horse industry since 1970. She owns and operates Breckenridge Farm in Barre, VT, and is one of the American Riding Instructor Association's top 50 instructors. She coached the Norwich University Cavalry Troop for 10 years. In addition to training horses, giving clinics, public speaking, and coaching students, Judi is a Test Center Administrator for the ARIA and has taught and certified riding instructors throughout New England. In 1988, she was named Vermont Horse Woman of the Year.

Equine Wellness



Equine nutrition nutrition 101 Equine By Laura Boynton


It’s easy for horse caretakers to get confused when it comes to equine nutrition. Deciphering science-based facts, trends, marketing schemes, and the opinions of others is challenging — and Siri only knows so much. But no matter how time-consuming it may be, it’s important to do your research to ensure your horse is receiving all the vital nutrients he needs to thrive. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at those requirements!

THE KNOWN BASICS It goes without saying that inadequate nutrition can lead to a shorter lifespan, as well as a number of health issues including colic, ulcers, hoof problems, and hormone imbalances. Without the proper nutrients, horses are also likely to experience depleted energy, behavioral problems, a weakened immune system — and the list goes on. By ensuring your horse doesn’t have any dietary deficiencies, you can help him live a long, healthy life. Dr. Juliet Getty, PhD, an independent 10

Equine Wellness

equine nutritionist and owner of Getty Equine Nutrition in Denton, Texas, gives insight on what exactly horses need in their daily diet: • Horses, like humans, need water to stay alive. Clean fresh water is a necessity at all times.

• Carbohydrates supply energy, help maintain a healthy microbial digestive tract, and assist immune functions with their anti-inflammatory properties. Carbs are primarily found in forage (hay and pasture grass), and in the sugar and starches found in grain. The safest feeds are high in digestive fiber and low in sugars and starches, which usually comprise beet pulp and soybean hulls. Corn should be avoided as it has the highest starch levels. • Protein, composed of amino acids, is necessary for body growth, including hair and hooves, and for supporting muscle development. The amount of protein a horse can synthesize is

limited; the first protein horses run out of is lysine, so look for a feed with added lysine. • Vitamins A, D, E, K, and B complexes like niacin and thiamin are present in fresh green forage and supplements that can be added to a horse’s diet. Vitamin D is obtained through sunshine and skin exposure, so a horse who is on stall rest or lives in a cold climate may need it supplemented into his diet. • Minerals are required to maintain good health and provide fluid balance in cells (electrolytes), as well as nerve conduction and muscle contraction in the horse’s body. Calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, magnesium, and sulfur are needed daily but in small amounts. The mineral content in horse feed varies, so be sure to check with your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to ensure your horse is getting what he needs. Providing access to a salt lick is a good way to meet his needs for sodium chloride, while a trace

mineral lick will add cobalt, copper, zinc, selenium, iron, and iodine.


saliva helps neutralize the acid in the stomach to help break down meals. For most horses, providing available forage 24/7 and feeding smaller, more frequent meals is advised over large amounts of feed at one time.”

1. Assess the whole horse Certified equine nutritionist Allison DuFour, owner of Dufour Wellness By the Bay in Northern Michigan, has plenty of experience assessing the nutritional needs of horses. Her top recommendation is to consider the whole horse. “Every horse and caretaker has a different situation,” she says. “Every factor needs to be considered when developing a nutrition plan, such as the horse’s body condition, training regime, environment, and pre-existing health concerns.”

Dr. Kathleen Crandell, a nutritionist at KC Equine Consulting in Boyce, Virginia, and a formulator of horse feeds, recommends doing a visual assessment to determine the quality of hay. • Greener, leafier hay with few and fine stems is more nutritious.

2. Check his hay

• Hay should smell clean and fresh, and feel fairly soft. Avoid moldy, dusty, or sour-smelling hay — it should be free of high quantities of weeds, dirt, and insect infestations.

Allison also suggests getting a hay analysis, and providing constant access to forage. “Horses are designed to move forage at all times,” she says. “Their stomachs constantly produce acid with or without food in their systems. Without forage, the acid can produce harmful conditions like ulcers, or provoke colic. When a horse eats,

It’s also important to keep in mind that hay alone isn’t likely to provide horses with the vital nutrients they need to thrive. “Many horses’ diets consist entirely of hay, which isn’t very nutritional,” says Dr. Getty. “Hay is dead grass; it no longer contains many of the vitamins,

A few notes on supplements • Dr. Getty recommends supplements that offer vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as all eight B vitamins. Avoid supplements that contain iron — there is plenty of iron in forage, and too much can exacerbate insulin resistance. • There are two fatty acids that horses cannot produce — Omega-3 and Omega-6 — and which they need in order to combat inflammation throughout their bodies and maintain healthy immune function. It’s worthwhile to add ground flaxseed, hemp seeds, or chia seeds to their feed on a daily basis. • Before adding protein to a horse’s diet, be certain his liver and kidneys are healthy enough through a simple blood test done by your veterinarian. In addition to grass hay, consider adding alfalfa, as well as whole foods such as hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds, black oil sunflower seeds and chia seeds.

Omega-3s and Omega-6s it once had as living pasture.” Dr. Getty, Dr. Crandell, and Allison all agree on the importance of having a detailed test done on all your horse’s forages. This is the most efficient and insightful way to find out precisely what you’re feeding him. The information this test will provide includes values of digestibility, calorie content, protein levels, and mineral, sugar and starch concentrations.

3. Don’t cheap out on grain Allison also advises that horse caretakers opt for a high quality grain, since it’s more likely to have all the vital nutrients in quantities that meet the needs of the type of horse it is designed for (i.e. age, health, performance level, special needs, etc.).

Dr. Crandell knows firsthand how difficult it is to formulate a single feed that will fit all types of horses in all circumstances. “Common errors include feeding the wrong type of feed for the type of horse,” she says. “Young horses in rapid growing stages, adult horses with heavy training schedules and workloads, broodmares in their last trimester, and lactating mares need higher amounts of all the basics for developing tissue and building muscle. Older, semi-retired and senior horses will maintain better on lower protein but need the higher carbohydrates to hold a healthy weight.” With a little extra effort — and the help of your own team of equine health professionals — you can make sure your horse is receiving all the vital nutrients he needs to live a long, healthy life.

• Joint and digestive tract supplements for all ages of horses are worth considering. Colostrum benefits joints as well as immune function and digestive health. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is excellent for pain and inflammation. Vitamin C builds collagen for joints and Omega-3s reduce inflammation.

Laura Boynton’s steadfast love for animals started as a young child and continues to be a big part of her life today. After working as a veterinary technician for over 15 years, she now spends her days at an equine boarding, instructional, training and show facility in Traverse City, Michigan, where she was born and raised. She has a breeding program at home with her future husband, where they work together to pair AQHA show pleasure bloodlines with their handsome foundation stud. Laura enjoys showing in the all-around classes with her AQHA horses. 12

Equine Wellness

Clockwise from top left: When harvested past maturity and left unprotected in the elements, hay is more likely to have stalky stems and mold; Providing a mineral salt block offers horses extra sodium chloride; Carbohydrates found in pelleted grains support healthy digestion and immunity; The greener and leafier the hay, the more nutrition it offers.


Help for your horse’s cold weather stiffness By Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD

Is your horse plagued by cold weather stiffness? Exercise and joint support supplements can help alleviate his discomfort.

Your horse doesn’t have to be a senior or have pre-existing problems to develop cold weather stiffness, although those factors can certainly make it worse. While some horses may function quite well in the warmer months, they may have so much trouble with the cold that they find themselves unable to get up from the ground without assistance.

the joints, but there are changes in the joints themselves as well. Cold has been found to increase joint sensitivity. Cold may also interfere with the normal flow characteristics of joint fluid, reducing lubrication.


Research has shown us the effects of cold on a variety of body tissues. Muscles reflexively become shorter and stiffer, sometimes to the point that forceful stretching may cause damage. Energy generation is compromised because hemoglobin does not give up its oxygen to the muscles as easily as it does in warm weather. Cold weather also alters the properties of tendons and ligaments. Flexibility decreases and the force required to passively move these “frozen” joints may increase by as much as 25% with cold exposure. The reduced flexibility is accompanied by considerable stiffness. The changes in muscle and tendons contribute to difficulty with moving

The first step in alleviating the effects of coldness on your horse is to keep him as warm as possible, which means shelter from winds and wet weather. If you have a horse that obviously struggles with stiffness, don’t hesitate to blanket. While some joints are inaccessible, you can use Neoprene wraps for the knees and hocks with lined shipping boots on the lower legs.

from a few minutes of brisk massage with a warming liniment before exercise. Allow extra time for a long, slow warm up.

3. Offer joint support supplements Joint support supplements can also be very helpful. In addition to the joint nutraceuticals glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, look for MSM, boswellia, turmeric, devil’s claw and other antioxidants. Remember to look for the NASC Quality Seal when shopping for joint support supplements to know the product comes from a responsible supplier that complies with NASC’s rigorous quality standards. Visit nasc.cc/members to see companies that have earned the Quality Seal.

2. Provide regular (safe) exercise

There can be a big difference between surviving and thriving during the chilly months. Take action if your horse is struggling with cold weather stiffness!

Exercise is a great way to loosen and improve muscle function; however, you need to be cautious. Stiffened tissues are prone to damage and the horse may not be moving normally if certain areas hurt more than others. Known problem areas will benefit

Dr. Eleanor Kellon, staff veterinary specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition, has been an established authority in the field of equine nutrition for over 30 years, and is a founding member and leader of the Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) group, whose mission is to improve the welfare of horses with metabolic disorders via the integration of research and real-life clinical experience. Preventing laminitis is the ultimate goal. ecirhorse.org

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By Joshua Mallard

your horse’s hooves might be causing him pain Is your horse letting on that he has pain in his hooves? Here are four common reasons why this might be the case. Our equine partners’ hooves are a constant area of concern. The hooves provide the base for everything our horses do in day-to-day life — whether it’s the simple act of walking from the feeder to the water trough, or a training session in the round pen followed by a leisurely trail ride. Because horses are so often on the move, it’s important that we strive to give them the best quality of life possible, and that starts at the hooves. That said, you’ll likely notice pretty quickly if your horse’s hooves start causing him pain. Let’s take a look at some of the common

Without the RIGHT DIET, the nutrients lost due to workload aren’t properly replenished, which can affect hoof health.


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culprits for hoof discomfort, and what you can do about them!

1. NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES As horse caregivers, there are many things we need to consider for the formation and maintenance of a healthy hoof. First and foremost, nutrition plays a vital role. In light use horses, a mixture of good hay, free choice salt and plenty of clean water may provide the necessary nutrients. However in working or performance horses, a mineral supplement or

complete grain may be needed. Without the right diet, the nutrients lost due to workload aren’t properly replenished, which can affect hoof health. Consult your feed specialist or farrier to ensure your horse is getting all he needs, and always check with them before making large feed changes.

2. ROUGH SURFACES When a horse is in training we tend to do a lot of our work in arenas or round pens. While these are excellent enclosed environments, the footing can be hard on joints and hooves. Be mindful of

For caregivers who want to maintain their horse’s hooves on their own, it is advised to do so UNDER THE DIRECTION OF A FARRIER or after receiving some form of formal education on the subject.

your horse’s habits at rest — does he rest to one side or slightly elevate one hoof more than the others? This can be an early sign of bruising or joint soreness. There are several products on the market that work to alleviate these discomforts when in training. If you are working and training your horse on heavy gravel or stone, watch for bruising and abscesses. An abscess can occur if a small rock or pebble works its way into the hoof and brings bacteria with it. Likewise, trail riding is a great way to enjoy your equine partner in a relaxing manner, but often the uneven and varying terrain can put the hoof under stress. When returning from a trail or hack, physically inspect and clean out your horse’s hooves. This will ensure that nothing has harmed the hooves; if so, it can be addressed right away.

3. HARSH CLIMATES Depending on where you call home, your geographical area can bring with it a large number of new challenges around conditioning and hoof care. In arid and desert climates, hooves tend to become hard and are prone to cracks and chipping. In wet and moisture-heavy climates, you're more likely to see cases of thrush, scratches, and increased bruising. In arid climates, products that focus

on hoof moisturizing are suggested; and in heavy work, hoof boots will mitigate the chances of chipping. In the high-moisture climates, products to fight thrush and bacteria are helpful. Diligent cleaning and proper trimming will lessen the buildup of moist content within the hoof. In the more wet climates, it’ s best to remove the mud and soil buildup from the legs and inspect the hoof and frog regularly for bacterial infection. Signs include odd tearing and shedding of the frog, and a foul odor.

4. LACK OF PROPER MAINTENANCE Proper trimming and maintenance can make or break our equines’ hoof quality — and quality of life. For the best hoof conditions, we must consider the shape, angle, and length of the hoof. If there are underlying health issues, special considerations must be made to promote comfort and health. Navicular, founder, and ringbone are examples of conditions that require specialized care and consideration as to the method of trimming and shoeing. For caregivers who want to maintain their horse’s hooves on their own, it is advised to do so under the direction of a farrier, or after receiving some form of formal education on the subject. When this is achieved, the caregiver can often stop small

issues from becoming large lameness problems until the farrier arrives. Trimming and shoeing can differ greatly depending on breed, condition, and discipline. Your farrier will be able to guide you and apply the proper shoes or trimming solution for your desired application. One of the great things about the equine industry and lifestyle is that there’s always something new to learn. For the betterment of yourself and the ability to care for your horses, don’t shy away from searching for additional knowledge. Most farriers and veterinarians are open to helping their clients build a metaphorical toolbox to ensure their equine companions live and perform at their best. Start by getting to know your horse’s hooves — clean, pick out, and inspect them whenever possible. This will give you a good understanding of his feet and the opportunity to spot trouble before it becomes a soundness issue.

Josh Mallard, born and raised in Ontario, Canada, served in the Canadian Armed Forces from 2007 to 2019 in the Infantry, deploying to Afghanistan in 2010. After meeting his wife in 2014, Josh became involved with horses and cattle and attended the Oklahoma State Horseshoeing School. His farrier work includes dealing with client horses for trimming and shoeing and a large number of rescue and sale barn horses with various hoof issues. He resides in a small town north of Toronto, Ontario where he and his wife, along with their two-year-old son, run an equine facility and help with their family beef cow-calf operation.

Equine Wellness




horse caretakers make

Are you making any of these common mistakes when it comes to your horse’s health?

As a practicing equine ambulatory veterinarian, I typically see my patients on their “home turf”. Therefore, I have the advantage of observing the barn, turnout, hay, grain, other pets, etc. that may or may not have anything to do with the primary reason I am there. It is my job to make recommendations based not only on physical exam findings, but on my other observations. Sometimes our horse husbandry is based on “how we always did it”, or the advice of well-meaning friends, trainers, or even Dr. Google. So if any of these ten statements sounds familiar, please 16

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don’t be offended — rather, accept this free advice from a veterinarian!

1. BLANKETING Clients often put blankets on their horses as soon as it gets cold or starts snowing, and they never remove or look under them until the daffodils are blooming in the spring. Hopefully, your equine partner has wintered well and under that blanket is a sleek, shiny horse in good body condition. But I typically get frantic calls from caretakers whose horses didn’t fare so well. They are thin, hairy, and overall

do not appear to be in good health. Many times I hear: “He lost weight within the last week!” — though often this happens over the course of the season. So my tip is to remove the blanket, or at least look under it frequently over the winter, to avoid a shock in the spring.

2. NOT MAINTAINING A HEALTHY BCS Dr. Henneke devised a scale of 1 to 9 to describe the body condition of a horse, so that even without seeing the horse yourself you will have an idea of his

condition. On this scale, 1/9 is a very emaciated horse with little to no body fat on which you can easily see bones. The polar opposite of that is a 9/9, which is a very obese horse where bony protrusions are hard to find. Obviously, neither of these conditions are healthy for the horse. The proper body condition to strive for is a 5/9, although a range of 4/9 to 6/9 is acceptable and within the healthy range. I see a lot of horses that are more pets than performance animals and they tend to be on the heavier side. The clients are “killing them with kindness” so to speak. They get grain, supplements, hay, pasture, and tons of treats — but these horses are often not engaged in a regular exercise program. This can lead to disorders such as laminitis and metabolic syndrome, to name a few. I also see horses on the thinner side, but not emaciated. Although there can be several medical reasons for this, it usually comes down to a lack of proper feed. Talk to your vet to determine what you can do to keep your horse’s BCS at a healthy level all year round.

3. NOT ASSESSING PASTURES Just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s nutritious or even edible. Many times I stand at the fence while a client discusses all the lush pasture they have while wondering why their horses are thin. You need to walk out into the field and see what is actually there. Many times it’s mostly weeds, or else the pasture has not been maintained with mowing, etc. and what’s there

is of minimal nutritional value. Assess grazing spaces regularly and hire a professional to come in and make recommendations if you aren’t sure how to improve the state of your pastures.

4. FEEDING LOW QUALITY HAY (OR THE WRONG AMOUNT) While we are discussing nutrition, my next point is hay — and not just quality but quantity. Horses are hindgut fermenters and grazers. They were not designed to have two or three large grain meals per day and two flakes of hay morning and night. The average backyard horse that is not in heavy work should consume 1% to 2% of his body weight per day. That includes hay, pasture and grain. So the average 1,000-pound horse should consume 10 to 20 pounds in feed material daily. This will go up for horses in heavy work and down for those considered easy keepers. Hay quality can make a big difference in your horse’s condition. All too often I see horses that don’t receive the proper nutrients because they’re given poor quality round bales and no supplementation. I also see overconditioned horses being fed legume hay (alfalfa, clover). Again, talk to your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to determine what your horse needs (and in what amounts) in order to thrive.

5. GIVING GRAIN WHEN IT’S NOT NECESSARY Contrary to popular belief, not all horses need grain.

Many will do just fine on good quality hay and a vitamin/mineral supplement. If you do feed grain, you should be weighing it. Some feeds are denser than others and “one scoop twice daily” really doesn’t mean much unless you know the weight of that scoop.

6. GIVING SUPPLEMENTS WHEN THEY’RE NOT NECESSARY Supplements are beneficial if your horse actually needs them. But if you are buying a commercially available complete feed you shouldn’t need to use supplements unless a specific deficiency has been identified. Not only could you be wasting money; you could also be causing an imbalance of vitamins and minerals in your horse. If you are buying a complete feed, a nutritionist has already done all the calculating and balancing for you, so don’t offer supplements unless they’ve been recommended by your vet. Equine Wellness


7. NOT BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP WITH A VETERINARIAN I often hear from new clients that they do not have a regular veterinarian, as they do all the preventative medicine on their own and haven’t had any need until now — at 3am. A veterinarian will be more willing to get out of bed and drive to your house if he or she already has a relationship with you. I recommend establishing a relationship with a veterinarian prior to needing them on emergency. I have established a relationship with clients who call me out once a year to do a physical exam on their horses; even if they don’t need me between annual exams, I know them and their horses, and I know where they live.

8. ADMINISTERING THE WRONG AMOUNT OF DEWORMER There is a lot of discussion on how or when to deworm horses — whether fecal egg count-based, rotational, seasonal, etc. No matter 18

Equine Wellness

what route you pick, if you are purchasing the dewormer and giving it yourself, be mindful of your horse’s approximate weight and how much weight one tube of dewormer treats. For some brands, one tube will treat the average 1,000-pound horse. Many of the larger Quarter Horses, Warmbloods, and draft crosses can be in the 1,200-pound plus category and may need more than just one tube of dewormer.

9. SELFVACCINATING Many horse caretakers want to give their own vaccinations to save time and money. However, there are many advantages to having a veterinarian give your horse the vaccinations. First, it helps establish the veterinarian-clientpatient relationship. Secondly, there will be a medical record stating what vaccinations your horse was given and when. I have clients who selfvaccinate and occasionally need proof of vaccination. I can’t write you a letter if I haven’t given the vaccines myself. Additionally, if your horse was to have a reaction to a vaccine that

the veterinarian has given, the makers of that vaccine will often cover part or all of veterinary bill associated with treatment due to the reaction. It’s also important that vaccines remain refrigerated until ready to use. Some vaccines can be inactivated or become less efficacious if they are heated or frozen. The veterinarian can assure that quality control. He or she can also help you decide what vaccinations your horse actually needs.

10. NOT ASKING QUESTIONS The number one mistake I see horse caretakers make is not asking for help or asking questions. You should be able to talk with your veterinarian about issues that concern you. If your veterinarian won’t answer your questions or discuss your concerns, you need a different veterinarian! Remember the old saying that the only stupid question is the one not asked? This holds true here — I would rather talk with you before a condition gets out of control or becomes a true emergency. In veterinary medicine, we are constantly learning, not only with continuing education but through our experiences and the those of our colleagues. I’d like to think this is true of most horse caretakers as well, and part of my job is to help you in your learning process. We are a team looking out for the best interests and health of your horses!


Calendula (Calendula officinalis) By Melanie Falls

Often confused with the regular marigolds you see in people’s yards, the lovely Calendula not only blooms bright and beautiful, but also adds a tasty flair to foods and gives a powerful healing punch to salves and other topical skin products.

PLANT PARTS AND USES The Calendula flower (bulb and petals together) contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Extracts from the flower have historically been used to soothe irritated skin, including wounds, burns, and rashes. Thought to control bleeding and encourage the development of collagen structures and mucus membranes, the oil, tinctures, and extracts made from Calendula are popular ingredients in ointments. It can also be used in a poultice, compress or soak. Lastly, the flower is high in antioxidants, including lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene, quercitin, and rutin, which can all help speed up the healing process.

Calendula flower petals can be eaten either cooked or raw, but for the best quality, be sure to target the petals that are bright yellow or orange. If making an extract, oil, or tincture, include the full flower head, as the medicinal properties found in the flower are mostly in its green base.

MOST COMMON USES FOR HORSES Calendula is a popular ingredient in salves for horses and can be helpful for alleviating insect irritation, mud fever, blanket rubs, burns and wounds. You can also prepare a tea — steep in hot water for 30 to 60 minutes — and apply a compress to red, itchy, raised irritations to help reduce inflammation and speed healing. For general antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support, and to add a little brightness to your feed pan, you can also feed whole dried flowers; horses find them very palatable.

HOME GROWN Calendula is a very easy herb to grow and typically blooms July through October with bright beautiful flowers. It is typically an annual unless you live in more temperate climate, where it can be a short-lived perennial. Plant the herb in the spring in non-draining soil with full or partial sun. Once the herb is blooming, be sure to pick the flowers every three days or so to prolong the flowering season. Once you’ve harvested the flowers, set them out to dry so the petals are crunchy — roughly ten days.

Melanie Falls is a holistic health advocate and a certified Equine Bodyworker, having healed her own horse, 24-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 top quality all-natural horse care products including supplements, fly sprays, first aid, and much more (wholeequine.com, info@wholeequine.com).

Equine Wellness


NEED TO KNOW Weight is less important than skill when it comes to protecting your horse’s spine.

rider weight



If we were sensible, we would be riding cows, not horses. Cattle have an awesome vertebral shape that interlocks for super support. But horses have been our mount of choice for at least 5,000 years. So when you climb on the back of your horse, what impact does it have on him?

UNDERSTANDING EQUINE SPINAL SUPPORT Let’s break it down two ways — standing or moving, or (in biomechanicsspeak) “static” or “dynamic”. A standing horse is already supporting a lot of weight — his own! Most of a horse’s body weight is in the trunk and head/neck complex — the legs weigh

comparatively little. Unlike the human spinal “column”, the horse’s back is like a horizontal beam. Spinal support comes from the interaction of spinal vertebrae, ligaments and muscles, but also from their liquid gut contents kept pressurized by the abdominal muscles — this is called hydrostatic stabilization. Think of how a pontoon boat is rigid, even though it’s essentially a balloon. The large torso of the horse is suspended on relatively spindly legs, and stays firm, not saggy, by using spinal and rib structure, ligament tension, and hydrostatic support (see Figure 1). So far, so good.

ADDING WEIGHT AND MOVEMENT So what happens when we add a rider? In the very simplest terms, we are adding a load to the system. Let’s say an average horse weighs 1,100 pounds, and an average rider plus tack weighs 175 pounds. You have just added 16% more weight to the horse’s load. The good news is that the equine center of mass (COM — see sidebar at right) is located right below the saddle, so in


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theory, adding weight will not skew the horse’s balance…as long as you stay upright in the saddle. What exactly does it mean to support body weight? It means to stay upright against gravity. Gravity is the attraction of one body to another. Because the Earth is so much larger than our bodies, gravity seems like a force that makes us fall down. We stiffen our legs to stand up and move our bodies, and with each step we have an interaction with gravity. Weight = body mass + gravity. So when we add a rider, we are adding mass, which means the horse has to work harder to push back and not fall down. But it’s not that simple. The rider is not a sack of potatoes. A “dead” weight increases the load on the system and can put more stresses on the bones and muscles that are resisting gravity. But a living weight brings in a whole new dynamic. Imagine a 30-pound toddler nestling up close to you and clinging tight; now imagine that child having a tantrum and trying to fling himself

WHAT IS “CENTER OF MASS”? Every object has mass. Together with Earth’s gravity, mass makes an object’s weight, which keeps us (and our horses!) from flying off into space. When objects are oddly shaped, it can be useful to consider their mass as a single point in space, calculated by a complex formula relating to how their body parts would tend to spin. Imagine balancing a pencil on your finger — it’s easy if you go across the length of the pencil, around the middle. With a little trial and error, you can find the spot where it easily balances. That is the pencil’s COM. Now try to balance it on its tip. You still need to keep your finger under the COM, but it’s a lot harder. The COM is the spot where the weight (mass times gravity) balances equally. Figure 1

is hard work. That is why school horses are worth their weight in gold!


Figure 2

every which way. That same 30 pounds will feel like a wildly different load to carry. In mechanical terms, the wild movements of the screaming tot are changing the COM of the parent-child unit, and the adult doing the carrying needs to dynamically calibrate those changes to stay upright. Now extend that analogy to a horse carrying a rider. The horse has to not only balance his own weight plus the rider’s, but also accommodate the rider’s sometimes unpredictable movement. An inexperienced rider, though not intentionally, may be like the flailing toddler from the horse’s perspective: an irrational load who doesn’t know where his body is in space. Most horses make the conscious choice to protect the rider at cost to their own equilibrium, which

By contrast, an expert rider adapts his movements to the horse’s. Indeed, a cooperative living weight can even feel lighter than a “dead” weight. For equestrian sports, the ideal is that the horse and rider be one. One way skilled riders become “centaurs” (one with the horse) is by intuitively matching their body parts to the horse’s movements. Look at Figure 2 — see how the rider’s arms and legs are parallel to the fore and hind legs of the horse? Another way to look at it is that rider weight is not only the single greatest force keeping you in the saddle, but also the single greatest tool for communicating with the horse. The classical aids of rein and legwork allow you to direct the rider-horse dyad: the weight directs, and legs and hands specify where and how.

CAN A RIDER BE TOO HEAVY FOR A HORSE? Absolutely. Common sense is required. Rider weight increases the vertical ground reaction forces that load the musculoskeletal system: the bones,

tendons, ligaments and muscles. These body parts, in general, have a generous safety margin before breakage. However, excessive loading by inappropriate rider size can make traumatic injury worse through those increased forces. When it comes down to it, carrying a humansized load for the typical hour a day most people are in the saddle is a very intermittent stimulation, so is unlikely to result in much musculoskeletal adaptation. Back in the “bad” old days, when horses pulled carts or carriages all day long, their size was chosen for the load, and their long hours of work made them strong for that particular exercise. So, unless your sport is endurance or competitive trail riding, the influence of rider weight on your horse’s overall athletic condition is negligible. The bottom line is this: to keep your horse happy and healthy, learn to be a centaur! Dr. Karen Gellman holds DVM and PhD degrees from Cornell University in animal locomotion biomechanics. She has advanced training and certification in veterinary acupuncture and veterinary chiropractic, and has practiced these and other holistic modalities since 1995. She teaches about posture, biomechanics and holistic therapies to veterinarians worldwide, is research director of Maximum Horsepower Research and practices holistic veterinary medicine in New York State, and on a consulting basis. She recently took a deep dive into medical cannabis research and clinical applications as founder and chief veterinary officer of Plena Curae Botanical Solutions, which makes animal pain products sold exclusively through veterinarians.

Equine Wellness




horse-related podcasts

By Katherine Rundell

Looking for a new listen this season? Check out one — or all — of these horse-related podcasts!

every equestrian needs in her life There are endless podcasts out there to explore, especially when it comes to the world of horses! We’ve seen an explosion of such podcasts over the last few years, so we’ve put together the five best horse-related podcasts around. If you’re a horse lover, these are the podcasts you didn’t know you needed.


A popular favorite when it comes to horse podcasts, TSS releases new episodes every week and covers all kinds of topics. There’s news from the horse industry and interviews with people from across the world in all areas of horse work.

Whether you’ve dedicated your life to horses, or you’ve just got a passion for our four-legged friends, you’re going to love listening to this podcast.


There are always new things to learn when it comes to training and keeping horses, and if you’re looking for the most up-to-date information, trends, tips, and advice, this is the podcast for you. You’ll find episodes relating to all kinds of topics to help you care for and work well with your horses, including plenty of health and training tips… all for free!

IN THE MORNING ➌ HORSES Horses in the Morning is a timeless, info-packed podcast with over 300 episodes (and counting) in its library! The hosts cover plenty of horse topics and facts, and there’s such a vast and intriguing range of guests who have been on the show.


If you’re a new horse caretaker wondering what to do next, Woah! is the podcast you’ve been looking for. Episodes cover everything from tack and horsemanship to how to care for and form a relationship with your horse. The EQA founder Krystal Kelly even makes a guest appearance!

➎ THE HORSE PODCAST That title says it all, doesn’t it? The Horse Podcast, also known as THP, is a casual and relaxing podcast about horses that’s suitable for any time of day. Whether you’re commuting, going for a walk or having a bath, this is the perfect horse-related podcast to sit back and relax to.

Katherine Rundell is an equestrian freelance writer. In her free time, she goes to races and rides around the LA countryside. 22

Equine Wellness

Product Picks Top of the line horsefeeds

As the standard in ultra-premium horse feeds, the ProElite Horsefeed line boasts an exclusive combination of amino acid profiles to enhance performance; guaranteed starch and sugar levels to bring confidence in calorie sourcing; a proprietary, custom-designed probiotic package that can only be found in ProElite products; and unique nutrition-locked formulas providing consistent ingredients and What nutrition every time. To learn more about what we love: nutrition-locked formulas mean for your horse, It has a low feeding rate visit proelitehorsefeed.com.

that balances rations for broodmares, as well as growing, performance, and maintenance horses

What we love:

It’s an easy solution for getting rid of mud — no heavy equipment or grid systems required!

A simple solution for mud

PastureDRY is a concentrated, spray-on formula that increases water percolation. It breaks up hardpan and clay barriers to a depth of 36”, allowing the topsoil to dry out. Use PastureDRY anywhere mud is a health or safety issue — paddocks, sacrifice areas, pastures, roads, gate entrances, polo and athletic fields, near feeders and water tanks, etc. — and reap the instant advantages and cost savings! arenaclear.com/pasturedry

Give her the micronutrients she needs

Optimum horse health requires a diet that includes all the necessary micronutrients. Feeds and hays are becoming increasingly deficient in the micronutrients your horse needs due to intensive farming practices and feed processing. SOURCE supports superior hoof condition (texture and growth), hair gloss, skin tone, body weight, stamina, temperament, conception rates, and feed utilization. It provides a unique blend of broadspectrum micronutrients in biologically active and naturally chelated forms from sustainably harvested ocean seaweeds. 4source.com

What we love:

Contains no artificial coloring, flavoring, or preservatives.

What we love:

Flax fiber is an excellent food for friendly bacteria in the intestine.

Prevent painful sand colic

SandGuard by The Holistic Horse is a healthier alternative to using psyllium for sand removal. It contains 100% food-grade stone-ground organic flax seed, which traps and suspends sand, eliminating it from the body. This high quality product is delivered straight from the source, and cold stone-ground fresh the day it ships. Flax is very nutritious and loaded with Omegas for a healthy and shiny coat. It also helps support a healthy immune system. Order yours today! theholistichorse.com

Equine Wellness




saddle fit If you’ve taken some time off from riding, be sure to reassess the fit of your horse’s saddle before climbing back into it!

By Julia Alebrand

Our lives, including our lives with horses, took a profound detour last spring when efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus prompted the closure of equestrian facilities across North America. Whether you were fortunate enough to continue riding on a restricted schedule, keep your horse in an exercise program with your trainer, or had no choice but to give your horse time off, your training routine was likely disrupted for weeks or even months during this unprecedented time.

Back shape changes require saddle fit changes For most of us, the barn, where we’re surrounded by our beloved horses, is our comfort zone — our happy place. Once equestrian facility restrictions subsided, we were all eager to return to some form of normalcy in the stables with our horses. But a sudden, drastic change in a horse’s routine can affect his three-dimensional back shape — and thus the fit of the saddle. No matter what discipline you ride, the saddle, as the interface between you and your horse, plays a vital role in your ability to communicate and perform together as a team. The fit of the saddle to you and your horse is of absolute importance and allows for freedom of movement, clear and painfree communication, and protection for both of you against long-term, irreparable musculoskeletal and psychological damage. 24

Equine Wellness

“ Saddle fitting experts recommend that caretakers schedule a saddle fit evaluation at least once annually, with more frequent assessments for developing youngsters, or horses that are advancing in their respective disciplines. Saddle fit should also always be assessed after time off, whether due to injury or illness — or to pandemic restrictions. When your horse’s exercise regime has changed, it is important to confirm the fit of your saddle before returning to your normal riding routine. Your horse’s body, just like your own, changes with and without exercise. The same way your favorite jeans may feel a little bit snugger after

spending countless hours watching Netflix during lockdown, your horse’s physique has changed after weeks or months of limited to no physical exercise. Conversely, if your horse was ridden by your trainer for the last few weeks or months, he may have been practicing more advanced movements, jumping higher fences, or improving his time running barrels. Regardless how your horse spent the equestrian facility lockdown, if his routine changed, his three-dimensional back shape will have changed too.

The art of observation

Photos courtesy of Saddlefit 4 Life.

Figure 1

Figure 3

Figure 2

Horses are flight animals. In the wild, where only the strongest and fittest survive, showing weakness is a death sentence, which means that horses are experts at hiding pain. Your horse may only display signs of discomfort when his suffering has become intolerable. As his guardian, it is your duty to be observant and proactive to ensure problems are recognized well before they have the potential to cause serious damage, possibly ending your horse’s career. But how do we become more observant? And what should we be paying attention to? Taking a little

When a significant shift occurs in your horse’s life, such as the lockdown of equestrian facilities and the resulting change to his routine, be a step ahead and have the fit of your saddle assessed before you return to riding.

bit of extra time during grooming can go a long way towards this goal. Try to get in the habit of taking a close look at your horse’s back each time you groom. Has his back shape changed? Do you notice any muscle atrophy (Figure 1)? Are there any new lumps or bumps along the spine, around the withers (Figure 2), or in the saddle support area?

While paying attention to the subtle changes you can see, make sure to observe your horse’s demeanor as well. How does he react when you start tacking up? Does he flinch, grind his teeth, pin his ears, and threaten to bite you? How does he behave when you tighten the girth? Does he stand well at the mounting block or does he give you a hard time getting on? How is your warm-up? How does your horse behave while riding? Does he buck or rear (Figure 3)? And most importantly, does he exhibit several of these behaviors? Do you notice a trend?

Ensuring the right fit Identifying a saddle fitting issue early on can protect your horse from prolonged discomfort, and save you a fortune in chiropractic treatments, equine massages, or even veterinary bills. Understanding equine anatomy, Equine Wellness


Photo courtesy of Saddlefit 4 Life.

Saddle fitting experts recommend that caretakers schedule a saddle fit evaluation at least once annually.

physiology, and biomechanics in relation to saddle fit, is important and will help you maintain your horse’s back health. Unfortunately, saddle fitting and manufacturing is a largely unregulated industry in North America, and equestrians are confronted with a myriad of saddle fitting philosophies claiming to be the best of the best. It can be incredibly difficult to make a welfare conscious selection when looking for a saddle fitting expert or resources. It’s extremely beneficial to follow evidence-based approaches and philosophies based on the anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics of horse and rider. A great example of an organization that does this is Saddlefit 4 Life® (saddlefit4life.com). This global collective of equine professionals has come together to provide research and evidencebased education, with the goal of protecting both horse and rider from damage caused by ill-fitting 26

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and inappropriate tack. With constantly evolving demands placed on both horse and rider, Saddlefit 4 Life courses provide in-depth knowledge, insight, and solutions to the challenges and issues within the equine world. This education is available to everyone, regardless of riding level, show career, or discipline, and offers various levels of learning so students can customize their education to their needs. Take a look at their free resources and consider their courses if you would like to further your saddle fitting knowledge. On the Saddlefit 4 Life website, you can also find certified professionals who are not necessarily affiliated with a specific saddle brand, but rather assess saddle fit with the horse’s anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics in mind. Once the fit of your saddle has been confirmed by a knowledgeable professional, it is finally time to get back in the saddle. Take it slow and keep in mind that both you and your horse are not at the same level of

fitness as you were before lockdown. Slowly increase the duration and intensity of exercise and don’t be discouraged if you or your horse struggle at times. A slow and steady return to work will significantly decrease the risk of injury and acute muscle soreness. and will let you both enjoy your riding time together, rather than making it a strenuous ordeal. As someone who is involved with horses, it is your duty to be observant and to listen to them. When a significant shift occurs in your horse’s life, such as the lockdown of equestrian facilities and the resulting changes to his routine, be a step ahead and have the fit of your saddle assessed before you return to riding. And again, when you are able to get back in the saddle, take it slow! Horses don’t consciously behave badly — they react to outside stimuli, whether it’s a poorly fitting saddle or an incompetent or untrained rider. If your horse is communicating with you through an unwanted behavior, don’t meet him with punishment. Instead, investigate the cause of his behavior — after all, he is trusting you with his physical and mental health!

Julia Alebrand’s passion for horses started at a very young age. Her family immigrated to Canada when she was 15 years of age and even before the moving boxes were unpacked, Julia had found a local barn to continue riding and competing. Upon graduating high school, Julia was certain she wanted to turn her love and passion for horses into a career and enrolled in the University of Guelph’s Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management program, majoring in Equine Management. Following the completion of a research project she participated in for her undergraduate degree in collaboration with Saddlefit4Life, Julia completed an internship with Schleese Saddlery. Following her graduation from the University of Guelph, Julia returned to Schleese Saddlery Service full-time and has since furthered her education to a Certified Saddle Ergonomist.


Nutrena® ProForce®:

the feed that helps horses recover As all competitive equestrians know, equine athletes need more than just “food”. They require a nutritionally balanced diet that helps them thrive in and out of the show ring. Enter Nutrena ProForce® — the one-of-a-kind product that’s gained a reputation as the feed that helps horses recover. Once known by equine enthusiasts in the Northeast as “the black bag”, this feed became so popular after its regional release, that in 2013 the line was expanded and launched nationally. Since then, it’s become a favorite among those who compete with their horses and those that don’t.

UNIQUELY DESIGNED FOR RECOVERY There’s a reason both professionals and sponsored riders are such big fans of ProForce®. “Winners align themselves with winners, and they know choosing high quality nutrition is one of the biggest ways to give their horses a leg up in the arena,” says Russell Mueller, Strategic Marketing Manager, Equine. “We wanted to build

upon that notion and take it a step further by offering a product that helps horses recover after strenuous activity.” To accomplish this, the team at Nutrena integrates a number of unique features into the ProForce line: • Topline Balance™ ration balancer offers a unique blend of the essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals your horse needs to look and feel his best, including unique support for better topline health. • Nutri-Bloom Advantage® improves overall fiber digestion by up to 15% for better health and bloom. • Marine-sourced calcite supports gastric health and helps maintain normal stomach pH. • Empower ® Boost is a special blend of fat and select nutrients that helps horses — even the hard keepers — consistently deliver a strong performance. Perhaps the most innovative aspect of ProForce is the addition of Rebound Technology™. This proprietary blend of research-backed chromium and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) supports glucose moving to the cells where it’s needed

for energy to repair and replenish after work. “Like their human athlete counterparts, a solid nutrition plan is the fuel that allows performance horses to compete and perform at their highest level,” says Russell. “With Rebound Technology, recovery isn’t an afterthought; the horse is always being fed for optimal performance.”

BENEFITS TO ALL The ProForce line contains a number of different products all with specific benefits for different horses. ProForce Fuel is a high fat and controlled starch feed designed for equine athletes and hard keepers. It is ideal for horses competing in the show ring, but also a great feed to help put weight on. ProForce Senior is a similar feed targeted at the needs of active older horses, and ProForce Fuel XF is a beet pulp and oat-based version that’s similar to Fuel but with higher fiber levels. According to Russell, horses that would benefit the most from these feeds are the equine athletes that continually compete. But don’t let that scare you away if you aren’t regularly competing with your horses. ProForce feeds are chock full of nutrients and cutting-edge technology for all types of horses, to keep them healthy and happy for years to come.


nutrenaworld.com/proforce-rebound-technology TO LEARN MORE. Equine Wellness




IDENTIFY AND RELEASE PAIN AND RESTRICTIONS IN YOUR HORSE Are old or new injuries causing your horse pain? Use this cross-fiber grooming technique to release any restrictions, improve his posture, and ease his discomfort. By Patricia Bona, DC


Equine Wellness

We want our horses to be sound in mind and body, happy and healthy in play, and successful in their performance. But we often wrongly assume they are comfortable in their own skin when they may not be. Expanding your knowledge so you can recognize signs of pain and restriction, as well as any deficiencies in your horse’s posture, can help you improve his performance and overall well-being. Find it, feel it, fix it!


All photos courtesy of Makenzie Mann.

The skin is the largest organ — it assists in regulating the horse’s temperature and eliminating sweat and toxins. It is also a sensory organ that provides information to the central nervous system. We want our horses to have shiny coats, but more importantly, we need to develop a better understanding of their skin and whether or not they’re comfortable in it. Unfortunately, most horse caretakers and even equine professionals ignore scars, dents, and white hairs, believing they are just blemishes. But when the skin is not “fitting well”, and holds areas of tightness and restriction, scars and other flaws will appear. These blemishes can be a tell-tale sign that there’s an issue with the horse’s posture, movement, circulation, and lymphatic drainage. In other words, they’re red flags — sites of previous injuries and trauma that haven’t fully healed (see sidebar on next page). Even if the injury appears to be healed on the surface, there could be residual fascial restriction, possible pain, or a combination of the two.

Opposite: This horse has uneven shoulder points and irregular contours that are worse on the left side. On your own horse, find the superficial dents and feel for deeper fibrous restrictions and scarring. Right: The crescent shaped dent at the point of the right shoulder is a clear sign of a hard kick that created a hematoma (deep bruise).

ASSESS POSTURE When is the last time you evaluated your horse’s posture? Did you compare both sides to see if they were symmetrical, and to see which side is “prettier”? Are the contours of the withers, the throat latch, and the shoulder the same from the left side to the right? Does your horse stand four-square with all cannon bones on the vertical? More than likely, one side will be prettier than the other. Often, this asymmetry correlates with training challenges, skin issues, or even lameness. Good posture is defined by the symmetry and arrangement of the skeletal framework. In order for a horse to have good posture, we need to optimize the position and alignment of body parts so that we can achieve maximum symmetry. Good posture enables the horse to work efficiently in gravity, and reduces stress to the joints and strain to the soft tissues. Irrespective of the horse’s conformation, when we optimize posture, we improve

Good posture is defined by the symmetry and arrangement of the skeletal framework.

overall health and performance. Dr. Deb Bennett references conformation relative to the proportions of the horse’s skeleton. The skeletal anatomy of an adult horse is fixed. The length and size of the femur, forearm, or cannon bone will not change. Yet the arrangement and alignment of the skeleton can change — in other words, we can help a horse with poor posture.

OFFER CROSS-FIBER MASSAGE The technique of cross-fiber massage, also known as traverse friction massage, originates in human scar, adhesion, and muscle therapy. Generally, the muscle fibers of the horse run in the same direction as his hair. Run your hand along the underside of the neck to the shoulder, or from the croup down the point of the buttock to the hock — the muscles fibers run in that direction. When you find dents and dings or scar tissue in those muscles, massage along the direction of the hair to release the adhesions between the skin and the muscles. Then palpate deeper to release fibrous restrictions, tension, and any gristly knots. The restrictions may feel stringy or like plastic pebbles. Equine Wellness


Blemishes =

red flags Before doing bodywork on your horse, scan his coat and body for these red flags. Take some photos of his posture (both right and left sides) and of any red flags you find, so you can compare the “before” and “after”. • Dents • Dings • Bubbles • Scars

Observe your horse’s response as you relax and release these myofascial restrictions and trigger points. He may readjust the position of his feet, relax through his topline, or lick, chew and yawn. Always work within your own safety limits and your horse’s tolerance as you do cross-fiber massage with your fingers or a curry or other tool of your liking. Hold onto the healing intention “find it, feel it, fix it” as you delve into the suspect areas.

lymphatic system and circulation improve. He may actually appear to have gained weight. It is very rewarding to be able to observe changes in your horse’s comfort and posture as you work on him. If you find that some areas are very sensitive or reactive, apply a topical muscle salve like Sore No More or Limber Up to further ease discomfort as you do the crossfiber release. Post-exercise is a good time to work on particularly sensitive areas or specific sites as

Left: An underdeveloped or short hollow neck is a postural sign to find, feel, and fix restrictions along the lower half of the neck and throat. Right: The left shoulder of this horse has multiple dents and dings, one on top of another with asymmetrical shoulder contours and muscling.

• White hairs • Hair disruptions • Hollow spots • Flat spots • Irregularity in contours Dents and dings are the most unrecognized red flags that negatively impact alignment and symmetry of the shoulders and pelvis. They are often located on the point of the shoulder, the front of the chest and neck, and on the buttock and around the hip. These dents and dings are typically caused by a deep bloody bruise, also known as a hematoma. Hematomas can occur due to impact, such as from horses kicking each other and running into things. They often go unnoticed, especially in horses with thick coats, but the acute trauma to the tissue may or may not cause a lingering issue. Even after they’re healed, these bruises leave thickened, tighter muscle fibers and fascia, often resulting in a dent, ding, or bubble.


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The technique of cross-fiber massage, also known as traverse friction massage, originates in human scar, adhesion, and muscle therapy. No blemish is too small to investigate. Akin to popping a stone out of a shoe or plucking that one piece of hair pulling on your pony tail, the relief can be astonishing. Do not be surprised to find even more dents and dings, white hairs, and areas of no hair as your horse’s posture shifts and improves with more relaxed muscles and better joint alignment. As your horse becomes more comfortable in his own skin, the hair follicles and pores literally open at the

the muscles and fascia are warmed up and become softer. The body is a self-lubricating system, and with a little time and attention, you can improve your horse’s posture, performance and overall well-being! Dr. Pat Bona, D.C. is a chiropractor for humans and animals (AVCA Certified since 1994), the co-founder of Broad Axe Chiropractic Center and inventor of the Posture Prep Cross Fiber Grooming system for horses. She speaks at industry events like Equine Affaire. With her keen observation, Dr. Pat is dedicated to the health and well-being of horses whether for pleasure or high performance by optimizing posture. Visit her at drpatbona.com.


supplements NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT FOR EQUINE REPRODUCTION Do you have a breeding stallion? Plan to breed your mare? Dynamite’s Breeder Pac was developed to support both male and female reproductive organs, their associated hormones, as well as healthy semen, eggs, placenta and milk. The end result is a strong and healthy foal with vitality. For best results, try it with the vitamin supplement Dynamite or Dynamite Plus! animalandhumannutrition101.com

“THE OPTIMAL HIP AND JOINT PRODUCT” Recommended by Steve Lantvit of Sure in the Saddle, RFD TV as the “optimal hip and joint product for horses”, Joint Aid contains six active ingredients that help maintain joints, cartilage, and connective tissue structure and function. Both liquid and pellet formulas feature a natural peppermint flavor that horses love. grizzlypetproducts.com

HELP FOR HER JOINTS Comfort Quik is ranked as the number one “horse joint supplement with hemp” on search engines. Every purchase comes with free vet consults, and a money back guarantee if no results are seen in 14 to 21 days. This unique product contains 20 ingredients, and is the only joint product available that contains Epoxogen complex. It’s also approved for use during racing and showing! equinemedsurg.com

BOOST HER ENERGY… AND MORE! E3 Live™ for Horses is a great way to give your horse’s energy a boost. The Perfect Horse® customers also report: “It makes horses faster during training and performance, strengthens the immune system, and hugely improves the quality of hooves!” theperfecthorse.net



The Mid-Century Modern garage door series by Steel-Craft Door Products is ideal for home renovations or new construction. MCM combines Steel-Craft Door’s state-of-the-art fabrication with elegance. Visit the website to view more residential and commercial door styles. Don’t just hang a door, install a Steel-Craft.

Wholesome Blends™ from Tribute® Superior Equine Nutrition is a line of 100% soy-free horse feeds with whole seeds and vegetables and no added iron. The line consists of three fortified and balanced feeds designed to cover the nutritional needs of all your horses. Let us help you design a feeding program!


tributeequinenutrition.com Equine Wellness



Practical ways to

extend your horse’s lifespan By Justine Griesenauer, DVM


No matter how long you’ve had your horse, the two of you have a special bond — and you’d love nothing more than for her to live forever. While unfortunately there is no fountain of youth, there are numerous ways to foster a long, healthy life for your beloved equine companion.

GET HER TEETH CHECKED As the saying goes, “no hoof, no horse”. But I’d like to argue “no teeth, no horse” — that’s how important your horse’s teeth are to her overall health and wellbeing! Horses have hypsodont teeth, meaning they continuously erupt throughout their lives. This eruption replaces the 2 mm to 3 mm of tooth that is ground away each year as your horse eats. Normal grinding can lead to sharp points on the teeth. The horse’s lower jaw is about 30% narrower than the upper jaw; because of this, the outside edges of the upper teeth and the inside edges of the lower teeth don’t wear away as fast, leaving behind sharp enamel points. If not addressed, these points can cause painful ulcers on the inside of the cheeks and on the tongue. For optimum oral health, I recommend a dental float at least once a year. This is the perfect opportunity for your veterinarian to assess both the teeth and soft tissues of the oral cavity. In addition to addressing any sharp points or hooks, your vet can also look for wavemouth (when the grinding surface of the cheek teeth forms a wave instead of a flat surface), loose teeth, gaps/pockets between teeth that can trap food and cause infection, and other abnormalities. All these conditions can cause pain or discomfort which can lead to abnormal chewing, dropping feed, or a reluctance to eat at all. This can translate into


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Supplements to support your horse through the years • • • • • •

R esveratrol O mega-3 fatty acids V itamin C V itamin E T urmeric E chinacea

weight loss, a change in personality, and in severe cases, colic. As horses age, dental problems are often seen more frequently, so I advise a dental float at least once a year, but an oral exam twice a year. This can allow for issues to be caught and treated early on to prevent any weight loss or discomfort in your senior horse.

fermentation vat within the GI tract, houses millions of beneficial microbes that specialize in breaking down fiber so it can be effectively used by your horse as energy. There are many different types of grains out there, but if you want to lengthen your horse’s lifespan, focus on feeding good quality hay before choosing a grain.


Your horse’s stomach capacity is small, so her digestive system is designed to accommodate small, frequent meals throughout the day instead of two large meals. Continuous grazing of hay/grass throughout the day can also decrease the risk of developing gastric ulcers. If the stomach remains mostly full all the time — instead of sitting empty for long stretches — the food material acts like a buffer, neutralizing the acidity of the gastric acids.

Annual physical exams are a key component of promoting your horse’s longevity. During a physical exam, your veterinarian can evaluate many different aspects of your horse’s health and lifestyle. She will listen to her heart, lungs, and GI tract, tuning in for any abnormal sounds. She will take a closer look at her eyes and ears, as well as her leg joints. A body condition score will often be assigned, giving you an idea of what kind of shape your horse is in. This can be helpful for horses who are easy keepers, and for senior horses who may have trouble maintaining their weight. Having your veterinarian out to evaluate your horse every year gives him or her the opportunity to pick up on any developing issues, and address them before a real problem arises. This approach to your horse’s care — having routine exams performed regularly versus waiting until you notice an abnormality — will help ensure your horse stays healthy for many years.

FOCUS ON DIET AND GUT HEALTH What your horse eats plays a huge role in her overall health and wellness. The horse was designed to consume a diet primarily made up of forage. The cecum, a large

In addition to excellent hay and access to pasture, I also recommend adding in a general, well-balanced vitamin and mineral supplement. This product ensures your horse is receiving all the vitamins and minerals she needs for precise vision, a shiny coat, tough hooves, and more. It’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian about any specific vitamins or minerals to include, as some geographic areas can have soils deficient in these building blocks. For example, in the Pacific Northwest, our soil is deficient in selenium, so I recommend a vitamin/mineral supplement that contains selenium. To complement the hay and pasture, I recommend a fiberbased pellet, an excellent addition to any horse’s diet. Fiber-based pellets are low in unnecessary sugars and starches but high in fiber. I always advise giving pelleted

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feeds well-soaked, which can help decrease the risk of choke or esophageal obstruction. Plus, these feeds serve as a great base for any supplements or medications your horse may need. These types of pellets are also ideal for horses who need to put on weight, or need extra calories to maintain weight — because they are fiber-based, they are safe to feed in high amounts. By staying away from highly processed grains that are high in sugars and fats, your horse’s diet more closely resembles what her GI tract is designed to digest. When your horse can efficiently digest her feed, she can utilize nutrients more appropriately and is less likely to experience colic. A healthy, happy gut is essential to a healthy horse.

TRACK HER WEIGHT Ensuring your horse maintains a proper, consistent weight throughout her life is also crucial. Obesity in horses can lead to numerous conditions such as equine metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and laminitis, and puts added stress on her joints and soft tissues. Educate yourself on the Henneke body condition scoring system, and practice scoring your horse. Assigning a body condition score (BCS) to her can give you a general idea as to whether she’s in ideal condition, overweight, or underweight. When your vet comes out for your horse’s annual exam, see if they agree with the BCS you got, and if not, have them explain why.

If you notice these signs in your horse, call your vet •C hange in appetite • Sudden weight loss • Decreased performance • Stiffness • Personality change • A long, shaggy coat that doesn’t shed out

• Abnormal fat deposits


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You can also use a weight tape to get a better idea of your horse’s weight, especially if you are trying to help her gain or lose some pounds. I find weight tapes most helpful when tracking trends — I am often less concerned about the actual number, and more concerned with what that number is doing over time. Is it going up or down? Is it moving in the direction you’d like it to? Based on the trend you are seeing, you can adjust your horse’s diet and exercise accordingly.

LIFESTYLE MATTERS How does your horse spend her days? Is she stalled part of the day? Does she have access to pasture? What kind of exercise does she get? Evaluating your horse’s lifestyle is a crucial step in promoting her longevity. In an ideal world, your horse should be getting as much turnout as possible — whether on a dry lot, pasture, track system, etc. This most closely mimics a natural way of life for the horse — the ability to self-exercise, and move around for food throughout the day. This natural movement helps promote a healthy digestive system, and is also beneficial for senior horses with arthritis or stiff joints.

KEEP HER SOCIAL Horses are gregarious animals who prefer to live in a herd. Their mental and emotional well-being will benefit greatly from having other horses around. Whether it’s a turn-out buddy, a horse across the fence or across the aisle, your horse will feel safer and more at ease with equine friends close by.

AVOID TRAINING BLUNDERS If your horse is also your riding or driving partner, her training and exercise is another aspect to consider. To maximize her comfort and ensure you are able to ride her well into her late 20s, start by ensuring you have properly fitting tack. An ill-fitting saddle can lead to numerous problems, including back pain, changes in gait, muscle imbalances, a reluctance to collect under saddle, and even kissing spine. Avoid falling into the trap of “weekend warrior” syndrome, especially if your horse is older. By this, I mean your horse does not get ridden much during the week, but you ask a lot of her on the weekends with long schooling sessions or intense trail rides. Moderate, consistent exercise is better in the long term for a horse’s joints and soundness. Just as we wouldn’t run a half marathon on Saturday without any prior training, don’t ask your horse to do the same! Incorporate a proper warm-up and cool-down to your riding or exercise routine. A warm-up prepares your horse’s muscles, joints, and other soft tissue structures for the work ahead, helping to prevent injury. A cool-down allows her to gently recover from her training, bringing her heart and respiratory rates down. Part of a cool-down can include stretching your horse — whether it’s some carrot stretches or a little horse yoga, stretching helps reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, improves flexibility, and can result in better performance overall. There are no guarantees in life, but taking a proactive approach to your horse’s care sets her up for a long, healthy partnership with you.

Dr. Justine Griesenauer is a veterinarian in Western Washington who takes a holistic approach to caring for horses. As a lifelong rider and horsewoman, she knows how important your horse is and this is reflected in her treatment. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

Equine Wellness



Donating your horse to a non-profit By Sara Ballinger

Looking to rehome your horse? Consider donating her to a non-profit organization!

Donating your horse to a non-profit program is a very positive option, and one that many horse caretakers and equine professionals aren’t aware of. Non-profits can include equestrian-focused high school boarding schools, colleges, universities, therapeutic riding centers, equestrian organizations for underprivileged children or veterans, and more. Students, veterans, children, and persons with disabilities can benefit from horses donated to these nonprofit programs. And the people aren’t the only ones who benefit! The horses, too, receive the joy of being loved and cared for by so many.

IS IT THE RIGHT DECISION FOR YOU? The most important factor when deciding if donating your horse is the right move for you is to determine what non-profit would be best. Some factors to consider when choosing an organization for your horse include determining what level of work is most suitable, how excitable 36

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the horse is, what care options are available, and whether the horse is comfortable with multiple riders. Research which non-profit would be the best fit for your horse so he can continue a successful career, and so the organization can use him to the best of its ability.

REASONS TO DONATE A HORSE There are a multitude of reasons for donating your horse. • Many times, high profile show horses are donated to college and university riding programs because they are stepping down in career levels. • Horses that are getting older can no longer show at the level or jump height they once competed at; however, they may still be comfortable at a lower level and be just as successful there. • While caretakers and riders may not want to step down in their own riding levels, their horses can continue

to be happy in a career. The answer may be to donate the horse to a college or university where the horse can continue at a lower training level. • Horses that have had a previous injury that limits the level of work they can comfortably do may need to step down training levels as well. Many times, hunters and jumpers with a previous injury can no longer jump but can comfortably flat and still be very useful for many nonprofit riding facilities. • Sometimes caretakers fall on hard financial times and can no longer afford to keep their horses. They may seek a safe option for their horses to continue a career path. • Additionally, horses that can’t seem to get sold can find a happy niche within these riding programs. • Horses with certain training issues may also be able to find their happy place in a riding program.

It is very important to consider all aspects of your horse’s care, career path, and health when deciding what non-profit system may be the best fit for him.

CHOOSING A NON-PROFIT Be sure to ask the non-profit as many detailed questions as possible when determining the best fit for your horse. Some programs may offer more or less turnout than another, some may have an in-house vet and farrier (which could be an important factor to some donors), and some facilities offer more amenities than the next. All these are important to consider, along with what the non-profit specializes in and how that may mesh with your horse.

MAKING THE DONATION Most non-profit organizations require a copy of a qualified appraisal. The process of donating

horses to these organizations also usually requires a trial period where the horse participates in his intended use and may be vetted for soundness. If the horse is accepted into the program after the trial period, he can officially be donated, and the non-profit organization is then required to keep him for at least three years. In most circumstances, the organizations will offer contracts with first right of refusal to the caretaker to take back the horse after the organization is finished with its intended use of the animal. Most non-profits stay in touch with previous caretakers throughout the careers of their horses, if the caretakers wish. All in all, the option of donating a horse to a non-profit can be a very rewarding path for horse, caretaker, and non-profit. If you’re looking to find a new home for your horse, consider this worthwhile option.

Could you qualify for a tax deduction? You may qualify for a tax deduction on your equine donation to a non-profit organization. Horses donated to non-profit programs are considered non-cash charitable contributions according to the IRS. An IRS form 8283 must be submitted by the taxpayer if all non-cash charitable contributions for the year exceed $500. A non-cash charitable contribution for any item or horse of $5,000 or over requires an IRS 8283 form along with an appraisal from a qualified appraiser.

Sara Ballinger attended The University of Findlay graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in equestrian studies and biology. As an amateur rider, Sara operates SEB Sport Horses and owns Dragonfly Lane Farm. Sara established SEB Equine Appraisals, LLC, and is a certified equine appraiser through the American Society of Equine Appraisers. Sara is a member of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and the International Society of Appraisers. Sara is a consultant for The Equine Expert and is a sales agent for Sport Innovations LLC. She was appointed to be on the USHJA Zone 5 Jumper committee.

Equine Wellness




Protect your horses by keeping an eye out for these hidden toxins around your farm!

Even the most diligent horse caretakers may find themselves dealing with an equine that has been harmed or poisoned by common plants, chemicals, or other substances found on the farm. Because horses cannot vomit, damage to the gastrointestinal tract and absorption of a toxin into the bloodstream can prove fatal. Here’s how to prevent toxin ingestion in your own horse.

BEWARE OF DANGEROUS PLANTS Erich Hodges, DVM, owner of Swiss Farm Veterinary, in Ogden, Iowa, says that if a plant doesn’t grow naturally in your pasture, don’t allow your horse to graze on it. Milkweed, while an important food source for pollinators such as monarch butterflies, is dangerous for horses to ingest. Bracken, a genus of large, coarse ferns, along with burning bush and 38

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tansy, a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant, are also detrimental to equines. Branches and leaves from Japanese yew, English yew and rhododendron can be lethal to horses when eaten. The consumption of tall fescue grasses can cause miscarriage, as well as poor milk production in the mare. “In horses, the dominant pack leader is going to munch on food first, so they’ll often be the first one susceptible to ingesting a toxic plant,” says Dr.

From left: Milkweed, tansy, and bracken.

Hodges. “Kidney, liver, and blood system problems can occur, causing chemical abnormalities that in some cases are irreversible.” Dr. Hodges once examined the stomach of a deceased horse to ascertain the cause of death, and found about a cup’s worth of Japanese yew needles inside. “The horse didn’t even have to digest them,” he says. “They just had to get in the stomach and the toxins from the plant caused death.”

KNOW YOUR HORSE’S FOOD SOURCE Danielle Andersen-Jeppesen operates Romans Ranch equine therapy in Boone, Iowa. In her more than 40 years of raising horses, she has learned the dangers of feeding poor quality grain and hay. “Never assume that horses need grain,” Danielle says. “Use your veterinarian

as a resource to determine the best nutritional plan for your horse, and keep in mind that grain is linked to a higher risk of developing colic. If you’re not stringent about good storage practices, grain can also harbor mold.” Before purchasing hay, know where your store or supplier obtains it. If it gets baled near a gravel road, for example, there will be more dust in it. Garbage ending up in baled hay is the number one food contaminant Danielle encounters on her farm. If a horse devours a plastic bag or metal can, it can result in bowel obstruction. Danielle also notes the importance of keeping your horses away from cow licks, which contain an inappropriate amount of nutrients for equines. Though it’s not something most horse caretakers consider, botulism poisoning is another concern. It may be contracted by ingesting the botulinum toxin found in decaying animals or contaminated raw meat. Danielle knows of a farmer who lost eight horses to this illness. The farm was located near a river that had flooded. When the water receded from the pasture, it left botulism in the

“WHAT IF MY HORSE INGESTS POISON?” If you suspect your horse has ingested toxins, contact your veterinarian immediately. Dr. Hodges says the most common way a horse is treated for poisoning is by IV fluid therapy, which dilutes the toxins. “The problem is, it requires lots of fluids and is a very expensive and time-consuming process because the horse is going to need fluids for several days — as much as 20 to 40 liters the first day, then another 20 liters, along with monitoring 24/7,” he explains. Sometimes, veterinarians consult an animal poison control center for further assistance.

grass, which was then baled and fed to the horses.

natural water sources regularly, and keep water troughs clean.

“Remember, botulism doesn’t require the bacteria to be alive anymore — it’s just the toxins themselves,” she says.


KNOW YOUR HORSE’S WATER SOURCE Contaminated water sources can include lakes, streams, and ponds that are located near your property. Bacteria from the water can cause kidney damage in horses. “Bacteria is more a concern in stagnant water,” say Danielle. Be sure to test

Wood is not a natural part of the equine diet, yet horses will snack on fence posts or tree bark if they are stressed or not getting enough roughage. Limit your horse’s access to treated lumber or wood glossed with lead paint. Dr. Hodges recommends fencing off burn piles so horses don’t consume any charred remains. Properly dispose of car batteries and other toxic items whose leaking materials can contaminate the soil and water. “Hungry horses eat things they shouldn’t,” says Danielle. Keep your horse well fed, and check your property regularly for hidden toxins that can cause him undue harm. Responsible horse ownership can prevent tragedies!

Sara Jordan-Heintz is a newspaper and magazine journalist. Her articles have appeared in Antique Trader, Farm Collector and Discover Vintage America, among other publications. She is a recipient of the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award. Her work is regularly published through the USA Today Network. Sara is the author of the classic cinema book Going Hollywood: Midwesterners in Movieland. She lives in Iowa with her husband Andy Heintz, and their tuxedo cat Madeline.

Equine Wellness



As gloves provide extra protection to human hands and fingers, pour-in pads serve as a safeguard for both shod and barefoot horses. Pour-in pads can provide solar support to both prevent and aid common hoof issues.

Horse caretakers and farriers can utilize pourin pads to create extra protection and provide support for preventing and managing hoof issues.

By Tab Pigg

USING POUR-IN PADS FOR PREVENTION The hooves support a horse’s whole body. It’s important for horse caretakers to take the necessary steps to prevent potential injury or infection. Pour-in pads can serve as a preventative tool for the following:



pour-in pads

can prevent and aid hoof issues Looking for some extra hoof protection for your barefoot horse? Here’s how pour-in pads can help prevent and treat common hoof issues.

Using a durable pour-in-pad material can help prevent sole bruising. A horse caretaker may not be able to see bruising until the healing process begins, so it’s crucial to be mindful of the horse’s environment and provide the proper support to avoid injuries or discomfort.

Moisture To prevent infection or injury in changing climates, horse caretakers can use pour-in pad materials 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 to effectively mitigate mild and moderate cases of thrush.

USING POUR-IN PADS AS A TREATMENT TOOL After suffering from injury or disease, pour-in pads help elevate pressure to make horses more


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Photos courtesy of Martin Zimmer.

Made of urethane adhesives, pour-in pads bond to the sole of a hoof and produce a soft, resilient supportive pad material. Designed to increase the weight-bearing surface area, these materials alleviate pressure from the hoof wall and allow the sole to take on some of the horse’s weight.

From left: A hoof with an abscess that has been released and cleaned; a hoof with splits, cracking, flaring and chips; a hoof with frog atrophy.

comfortable throughout the healing process. Pour-in pads can serve as an effective component of a treatment plan for the following issues:

Abscess An abscess, a collection of pus, develops within a hoof due to trauma, excessive pressure, or bruising. After the abscess opens, drains and heals, pour-in pads can be used around the area to support and protect the hoof as it heals. To apply pour-in pads, hoof care professionals should use Play-Doh or bread to cover the abscess while they pour the pad material. It’s critical that the abscess opening is not covered so it can heal adequately.

Cracking When horses distribute their weight unevenly, excessive force and stress on one area of the hoof wall can cause quarter cracks. Pour-in pads serve as a durable material to distribute a horse’s weight across the entire hoof bottom to relieve pressure around a quarter crack. Additional cracking issues arise when moisture levels in the hooves become inconsistent and result in superficial cracks in the hoof wall. If small superficial cracks open up to form larger cracks, pour-in pads keep pressure off the hoof wall and strengthen the hoof. Pads suspend movement and further distribute a horse’s weight evenly throughout the foot to avoid

further cracks or lines in cases of both superficial and severe cracking.

Frog atrophy A contracted frog appears smaller in size and does not come in contact with the ground, indicating atrophy. Pour-in pad materials engage the frog and aid in opening the bulbs within the hoof over a period of time. Fast-setting, soft pad materials that bond directly to the sole and frog stimulate the frog to work and function normally. Pour-in pads help to widen the bulbs and distribute weight evenly throughout the foot during the healing process.

Laminitis In the event of hoof trauma, blood flow reduction and inflammation can cause partial or total separation of the lamina, forcing the coffin bone to rotate downward. When a horse suffers from laminitis, pour-in pads can reduce the pull occurring on the lamina between the hoof wall and internal structures. Liquid pour-in pads are available with different firmness levels to minimize stress on a variety of hoof capsules. The pad material can be filled to ground level for maximum support and effectively absorb concussion for a faster recovery and a more comfortable horse. In acute cases, different pad applications, such as half pads, can provide tailored support.

Thin soles If a horse has thin soles, pour-in pads can be a helpful way to regain and maintain sole thickness. After applying a pour-in pad to the sole, hooves have a better chance of retaining thickness and re-growing. Pour-in pads can act as a “fake sole” for the horse, which prevents abrasive ground surfaces from wearing down a horse’s actual sole.

White line disease When bacteria and fungus get trapped within the white line that divides the outside of the hoof wall and the sole, the hoof wall begins to disappear as the anaerobic bacteria eats away the lining. After a hoof wall is resected, pour-in pads support the bottom of the foot to help maintain the plane of the coffin bone due to the loss of hoof wall. Talk with a farrier or veterinarian about your horse’s soles, and how pour-in pad materials can be a helpful tool for both prevention and treatment plans.

Tab Pigg is a Certified Journeyman Farrier and Farrier-at-Large for Vettec Inc., a manufacturer of innovative sole support products for horses. In his role at Vettec, Tab leads hands-on clinics throughout the U.S. to teach shoeing and forging techniques to equine owners, farrier and veterinarians. He also visits veterinary and farrier schools exchanging information about hoof anatomy and shoeing and continually deepening his knowledge base. Tab shares his expertise via a popular video and blog series “Two Minutes with Tab” on Vettec.com where he addresses questions and shoeing predicaments from the equine community. Tab began his career shoeing horses in 1983 after he became a Certified Journeyman Farrier. In 2000, Tab became the president of the Texas Professional Farriers Association.

Equine Wellness


IN FOCUS By Lisa Skylis

Making horses more accessible to marginalized communities A look at marginalized groups within the equestrian community, and how their growing representation is increasing inclusivity and accessibility. On a crisp autumn morning, when other teenagers are likely still asleep, Maya Stillman is already making tracks in the arena. She collects her stately dapple-grey Andalusian, Bravo, and transitions into a powerful canter, the sweeping strides carrying her around the arena with ease. In a bustling dressage class, you would be hard pressed to find a rider executing cleaner flying lead changes or being more effortless in her overall position. When Maya is soaring over fences, her confidence is undeniable and her stellar scope difficult to miss. What you might miss, however, is that Maya’s gaze is trained on her equine partner’s ears, occasionally moving toward the audience to search for her trainer. You may also miss Maya’s trainer signing “canter” before her seamless transition into the gait. What you might not see is that Maya is an equestrian with a disability. Self-identifying as both a Person of Color and a person with a disability, Maya has had sensorineural hearing loss in both ears since the age of three. Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear and is the most 42

Equine Wellness

common form of permanent hearing loss.1 Over the course of her young life, she has had eleven surgeries related to her ears and continues to battle countless chronic ear infections. An estimated one in ten Americans, myself and Maya included, have an invisible disability that impacts their daily lives but isn’t immediately evident to others.2 Shortly after her diagnosis, Maya had her first riding lesson and quickly discovered that horses were more than a hobby for her. Now, the high school student’s passion has led her to compete in dressage and show jumping, and guided her to her latest equine partner, Bravo. “I think he knew right away that I was different,” Maya says. “Over the last few months, he’s shown me some cool stuff!” Bravo has alerted Maya to obstacles or potential dangers that she might have otherwise missed: a herd of deer across the arena, a pasture mate performing a one-horse rodeo, and once a speeding car headed right towards the pair. “Competing is always hard,” Maya admits. “I can’t hear the announcer or the starting alarms [and] I also can’t

hear potential spook noises.” When riding, she uses a Bluetooth headset to communicate with her trainer, or will have gait changes signed to her from someone in the audience. As with most people who are disabled, the greatest obstacle for Maya isn’t her disability itself but the lack of accessibility and the stereotypes that surround being disabled. “There is definitely a stereotype, that only ablebodied riders can make it to the top,” Maya says. “I’ve had to work ten times harder than other riders my age and level to get to where I am.” According to the WHO’s 2011 World Report on Disability, more than a billion people in the world are living with some type of disability. 3 Yet, the “face” of the equine community doesn’t reflect this reality and remains unchanged: still as white, wealthy, and able bodied as it ever was. This is not a result of intentional discrimination against equestrians from minority communities; rather, it is the result of a cycle of misrepresentation. For instance, when competitions aren’t inclusive or accessible for people who are disabled, equestrians with

Maya and Bravo

disabilities cannot participate in these shows, and are often discouraged by this inaccessibility. As a result, newcomers to riding who are disabled don’t see themselves represented in the arena and may doubt their possibility of success in the show ring. “People with disabilities might not think the equestrian world is for them… but horses are for everybody,” Maya says. “I want to see more hard of hearing riders, more paralyzed riders, more [riders] with every kind of disability and chronic illness.” This cycle is further perpetuated by lack of representation in the media. Riders with disabilities and non-white riders are rarely, if ever, featured in equine media. Often, the narrative is centered around equestrians “overcoming” their differences, such as being disabled or a Person of Color, rather than celebrating each rider’s uniqueness and sharing his or her victories.

Fortunately, the cycle of misrepresentation can be broken, and there are real solutions to problems with accessibility within the equine world. Acknowledging the existence and excellence of disabled and other marginalized equestrians is only the first step in making real strides towards equality in the equine world. Next, it’s up to us to make whatever facet of the equine world we’re involved in — be it competitive show jumping or a small equine-related business — accessible to everyone. For an equestrian, this could mean educating your local dressage show committee about the benefits of accessibility and asking that they allow disabled riders to use compensatory aids or have “living letters” (callers) in the arena. For the owner of a small equestrian apparel store, it could mean examining your current advertisements and deciding to include equestrians who are People of Color or are disabled

“Sensorineural Hearing Loss.” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA, asha.org/public/hearing/sensorineural-hearing-loss/. 2 “Invisible Disabilities: List & Information.” Disabled World , University of Massachusetts Amherst , 28 Oct. 2015, umass.edu/studentlife/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/Invisible%20Disabilities%20List%20%26%20Information.pdf. 3 World Health Organization, 2011, World Report on Disability, apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/70670/ WHO_NMH_VIP_11.01_eng.pdf;jsessionid=DB4CE1B6C7B915CE1ECBB86B0699EAE6?sequence=1. 1

in your next advertisement, to increase the visibility of these under-represented riders. Every member of the equine community has a part to play in making our wonderful world more accessible. Maya is just one disabled equestrian who wants to see things change for the better, and she calls for accommodations at events such as “a signer to sign what the announcer is saying, or an open captions system”. Whatever small accessibility changes you can implement within your equestrian circle will make a huge difference for your fellow disabled and minority equestrians. As for any aspiring equestrians who come from marginalized communities, Maya offers some words of wisdom. “You've got this!” she says. “Don’t give up! It’s going to be really hard but, gosh, it is just so beyond worth it at the end of the day to have a special relationship with your horse and find success together, as a team.”

Lisa Skylis graduated in 2018 from Michigan State University with a degree in Animal Science and went on to pursue professional freelance writing. Focused on the equine industry, she has written about everything from to mounted cowboy shooting, to holistic arthritis care, to farm-friendly recycling. When she’s not writing, Lisa can be found doting on the horses at her local therapeutic equestrian barn or entertaining her mischievous golden retriever, Roy. Freelance inquiries can be sent to skylisli@msu.edu.

Equine Wellness



THE NASC ELEVATES STANDARDS OF QUALITY IN EQUINE SUPPLEMENTS Learn how the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) helps ensure the safety and quality of equine supplements. By Bill Bookout

Millions of people give animal health and nutritional supplements to their horses. It may be to address a specific concern, to provide targeted nutritional benefits, or to proactively help support good health throughout the animal’s life. No matter the reason, supplements can be an important part of your horse’s wellness regimen. Animal health and nutritional supplements are overseen and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM), and in many cases by state regulatory agencies as well. But unlike pharmaceuticals, supplements for animals (and people) do not require FDA approval to be manufactured or sold. There is no law that requires supplements to be evaluated before their release, nor are label claims required to be proven accurate or truthful prior to marketing. It is only after a supplement is introduced for sale that this all changes. The FDA and state regulators then have legal authority to review the product, its label claims, and any reported adverse events. They can pull a product from shelves if a problem is discovered; if the product is not properly labeled; or if the company is acting irresponsibly. But even then, 44

Equine Wellness

equine supplements are typically not a high regulatory priority unless a major issue arises. Consumers often take for granted that if a product is for sale then it is being produced and supported by a responsible company. But sometimes that isn’t the case, and supplements of questionable quality may reach store shelves. So where does this leave you, and how can you trust products? This is where the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) comes in. Made up of supplement manufacturers and suppliers who are competitors in everyday life, NASC member companies have banded together to collectively address issues and affect important change, which ultimately elevates the industry and results in better practices, procedures, and products. The NASC Quality Program provides strict guidelines for product quality assurance in written, consistent raw material sourcing and manufacturing standards, adverse event reporting, and labeling requirements that are within the guidelines provided by the regulatory agencies. To earn permission to display the NASC Quality Seal on its products and

marketing materials, an NASC member company must pass a comprehensive facility audit every two years, maintain ongoing compliance with rigorous NASC quality standards, participate in annual continuing education facilitated by NASC, and pass random independent testing of their products to ensure they are meeting label claims. Consumers can have confidence in products with the NASC Quality Seal because they come from reputable suppliers that meet NASC’s demanding requirements. No single person or company can change an entire industry. But when a group of companies that represents over 80% of their industry share a vision for a system of transparency, collaboration, and the implementation of best practices, the result is successful self-regulation that bridges the gap between what the law requires and what consumers demand. This benefits the ultimate stakeholders — the millions of horses, dogs and cats that are given supplements by those who want them to live their best lives.

Bill Bookout is president and founder of the National Animal Supplement Council. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the animal health industry and holds a bachelor’s degree in physical sciences from the University of Wyoming, and a master’s degree from the Pepperdine University Presidents and Key Executives MBA program.

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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 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

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; info@equissage.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 handpick high-quality products that 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

HOMEOPATHY FOR HORSES — Animals, and horses, in particular, are very responsive to homeopathic treatment because of their natural connection to subtle energies. Susan L. Guran studied and trained with Drs. Paul Herscu and Amy Rothenberg at the New England School of Homeopathy and is continuously involved in specialized and clinical training, as well as volunteer work, to gain experience with a vast array of cases. Through a natural evolution of her methods, she now uses direct intuitive communication to offer greater support to the animals and their owners. www.homeopathyhorse.com

Equine Wellness



Tens of thousands of horses are transported by air every year, yet very little is known about how stressors on planes increase their risk of harm. Italian researchers have set out to learn more.

New study to help develop health and well-being guidelines for air-transported horses

Unfortunately, data on this topic is limited — until now. Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at Italy’s Università di Bologna are studying how horses are managed when transported in planes to identify factors that increase or decrease the risk of health and behavioral problems. What the team learns will help develop equine transport protocols for national and global agencies. The team is gathering data on about 2,000 horses flying to and from Europe, the United States, South Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia. Researchers are working with horse caretakers, air cargo operators, flight grooms, and veterinarians to fill out surveys that will determine the incidence of health and behavioral problems observed.


Equine Wellness

Survey questions are tailored to an expert’s respective role. For example, veterinarians are asked about horse body condition, heart rate, and alertness — among other observations — before, during, and after a journey. Data is collected from departure to five days post-arrival, within the window of time when symptoms usually reveal themselves. Horses that develop health issues will be treated in accordance with regulations within each jurisdiction.

A recent study of horses transported by air on 81 flights to Hong Kong found that for every 100 horses flown, about 11% developed pneumonia

Whether traveling by road, sea, or air, horses are one of the most frequently transported domestic animals. In fact, an estimated 30,000 horses are transported, on average, every year. But despite this frequency of transportation, it’s known that stressors associated with equine transport increase their risk of injury, disease, and poor welfare. For instance, a recent study of horses transported by air on 81 flights to Hong Kong found that for every 100 horses flown, about 11% developed pneumonia. On 60% of the flights, at least one horse was affected.

In addition to improving horse health, the study may provide economic benefits to horse caretakers. Costs to transport a horse by air within the United States alone usually range from $5,000 to $30,000, but private charters may cost up to $100,000. That is a significant investment for animals that could develop travel-related illness and/or welfare issues during or shortly after travel. morrisanimalfoundation.org