V1I2 (Sep/Oct 2006)

Page 1

equine Living naturally!




wellness resource guide

Your natural resource!

5 must-have tools for clear communication Horse

Charming How to create a playday for your horse

8 tips for better

saddle fit SEPT/OCT. 2006 Display until Oct. 23, 2006 $5.95 USA/Canada


Tooth or consequences

Is his mouth balanced?

www.EquineWellnessMagazine.com equine wellness

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Photo: David Lichman

12 16 30

Probiotics Bugs you do want in your horse’s life

Equine mental health Creating a playday for you and your horse

western saddle fit

How to enhance your and your horse’s performance


Say what?

5 must-have tools for clear communication

26 30

Natural horsemanship It all starts with communication and respect

Fitting the horse and the English rider Why it takes a blend of art and science


Photo: Che Prasad

36 8 tips for the best



Hearts & Hooves, Inc.


Tooth or consequences

Big things come in small packages at this therapy organization

Why a balanced mouth means a balanced body

Horse charming How to reach a common ground of understanding

Photo: Melanie Kuipers


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42 Photo: Horsemanship for Women

columns 8 Neighborhood news


Book reviews

20 Holistic veterinary advice


Horsemanship tip


Tail end


Heads up!

25 Product picks


Events calendar

39 Wellness resource guide



Talking with Dr. Heather Mack & Dr. Joyce Harman

54 Did you know?


46 Photo: Elizabeth V. Williams

6 Editorial

Equine Wellness Magazine (ISSN 1718-5793) is published six times a year by Redstone Media Group Inc. Publications Mail Agreement #40884047. Entire contents copyright© 2006. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, without prior written permission of the publisher. Publication date: August, 2006

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Reba, a 13-year-old 17 H Belgian mare, was born and still enjoys life on photographer Christina Handley’s farm in Burnt River, Ontario. Christina describes Reba as a “sweetheart and a big suck who loves attention”. Reba and her two mates, a Belgian and a Belgian cross mare like to eat and hang out, and model for “mom” in their spare time. Says Christina, “They have a home here with us until the end.”

Photo: Christina Handley

Photo: Spencer LaFlure

Our Cover:

Volume 1 Issue 2 Editorial Department Editor-in-Chief: Dana Cox Senior Editor: Lisa Ross-Williams Graphic Design: Stephanie Wright Yvonne Hollandy Photography: Christina Handley Columnists & Contributing Writers Jessica Lynn David Lichman Heather Mack, DVM Joyce Harman, DVM, MRCVS Sabine Schleese Mary Ann Simonds Karen Scholl Genevieve Berardino Spencer LaFlure Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS Anna Twinney Melanie Sue Bowles Administration Publisher: redstone media group inc. President/C.E.O.: Tim Hockley Office Manager: Lesia Wright Information Services Director: Vaughan King Administrative Associate: Samantha Saxena Administrative Assistant: Joanne Rockwood Marketing and Cirulation coordinator: Devon Sibbett Submissions: Please send all editorial material, advertising material, photos

and correspondence to Equine Wellness Magazine, 164 Hunter St. West, Peterborough, ON, Canada K9H 2L2. We welcome previously unpublished articles and color pictures either in transparency 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. Email your articles to: submissions@equinewellnessmagazine.com. Advertising Sales Lesley Nicholson - National Sales Manager (866) 764-1212 lesley@redstonemediagroup.com Suzanne Pieper - Western Sales Representative (707) 331-0356 suzanne@redstonemediagroup.com Becky Starr - Sales Representative (213) 793-1867 becky@redstonemediagroup.com Anne Gibson - Canadian Regional Manager: (866) 464-5214 agibson@redstonemediagroup.com Classified Advertising classified@redstonemediagroup.com

To subscribe: Subscription price at time of this issue in the U.S. $22.95 and

Canada is $24.95 including taxes for six issues shipped via surface mail. Subscriptions can be processed by: Website: www.equinewellnessmagazine.com Phone: 1-866-764-1212 US Mail: Equine Wellness Magazine, PMB 168, 8174 S. Holly St., Centennial, CO 80122 CDN Mail: Equine Wellness Magazine, 164 Hunter St. W., Peterborough, Ontario, Canada K9H 2L2 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. Dealer or Group Inquiries Welcome: Equine Wellness Magazine is available at a discount for resale in retail shops and through various organizations. Call 1-866-764-1212 and ask for dealer magazine sales, fax us at 705-742-4596 or e-mail at sales@equinewellnessmagazine.com. Printed in Canada


Improving the lives of animals... one reader at a time.

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EDITORIAL A relationship built on trust The sound was heart-stopping; every horseman’s nightmare coming true before my eyes. Elvis, our 18-hand percheron/ paint had rolled into the coral panels, caught his hind leg on the third bar up and was thrashing wildly.

First impressions Many years ago, when I was an impressionable teenager, I remember watching an Olympiclevel instructor putting one of her dressage students through her moves. The instructor literally yelled at the rider throughout the lesson. The more she yelled, the more frustrated the student got, and the more forceful she became with her mare for not satisfying the instructor’s requirements. Both rider and horse left the ring sweating and angry with each other. The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth and when I tried to discuss it with the student later, she cut me off with an impatient “But she’s one of the best there is.” Deep down, I knew that this individual was not one of the best. She may have earned her fair share of awards, but did she have the respect or affection of any of her horses? I seriously doubted it. Twenty-five years later, so much has changed. We know that a kinder, gentler approach can work wonders. That we can have a relationship as partners with our horses, rather than suffer through a power struggle day after day. We also know that our horses’ nutritional, emotional and mental needs have an effect on how they feel and how they will perform in the ring or out on the trail. This issue features just a few topics that address our equines from a holistic perspective. We hope it helps to enhance your relationship. Yours in health,

Founder and Editor-in-chief

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As I sprinted toward him, horrible images crossed my mind. I knelt beside him, placed my hand on his sweat-covered neck and told him, “I will help you but you have to stay still.” He immediately quit thrashing, laid his head down, took a deep breath, closed his eyes and relaxed. I was able to grab a rope, loop it around both hind feet and pull his hind end over a couple inches so he was clear. Yes, this is one of those “super-human” strength-in-crisis stories. He lay completely still until I asked him to get up, sporting a few scrapes but nothing compared to the damage he could have done. The moral of the story: the strong relationship between us, built on trust and communication, saved Elvis’ life. It is my greatest wish for everyone to attain this connection with their equine partner, not just for safety but for a bond of mind, body and spirit. To feel the magic of playing at liberty and knowing your horse is choosing to be with you. To lie beside your horse, basking in the morning sun, feeling safe and secure in each other’s company. To even ride bridleless, feeling the greatest rush in the world. Enjoy this issue which focuses on building that special union with your horse. Who knows, some day it might save a life. Naturally,

Senior Editor

We want to hear from you! Email us at: feedback@equinewellnessmagazine.com or Address your letters to: Editor, Equine Wellness Magazine, and send to: US: PMB 168 8174 S. Holly St., Centennial, CO 80122 CAN: 164 Hunter St. West, Peterborough, ON K9H 2L2

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Walking 2400 miles to raise awareness Heather Evans really walks her talk. On Sunday, May 21, Heather left the Live and Let Live Farm, an equine rescue facility in Chichester, NH, to walk more than 2400 miles to Manitoba, Canada. Her mission: to raise awareness about the cruelty surrounding the production of Premarin, a hormone replacement therapy. Photo: Live and Let Live Farm

Neighborhood news

e w

Heather and her horse Tux walk about 25 miles a day so they can reach Manitoba in October. Heather hopes to return with a truckload of PMU foals.

Produced by Wyeth-Ayerst to treat menopausal or post-hysterectomy women, Premarin is made from pregnant mare’s urine. The practice is cruel to the mares, who are kept impregnated and hooked up to urine collection equipment most of their lives, and even more inhumane to the foals, who are byproducts of the industry and usually end up at slaughterhouses.

Heather, along with her dog Badger, walked on foot for the first two weeks to condition her horse, Tux. After reaching Manitoba, where many of the Premarin production farms are set up, she hopes to return home with a truckload of the byproduct foals, who she will then put up for adoption at the Live and Let Live Farm. www.savingtheinnocents.com

State horse industry unites to form the Kentucky Equine Humane Center According to Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield’s office, more than 90,000 American horses were slaughtered for human consumption overseas in the U.S. last year in foreignowned plants. In addition, some 3 5,000 more were exported for slaughter abroad. Now, the Kentucky Equine Humane Center (KEHC) proposes to establish a first-of-its-kind equine shelter, much like animal shelters operated by local humane societies, in Lexington, KY. The Kentucky Equine Humane Center’s mission is to provide humane treatment and shelter while working as a clearinghouse to seek adoptive homes for all of Kentucky’s unwanted horses, regardless of breed. The center also wants to educate the public so that fewer horses end up in crisis. It hopes to serve as a model for organizations in other states with the same goal of saving America’s horses from needless destruction. Hall of Fame racehorse trainer Nick Zito expressed his delight about the new shelter. “I’m very happy that some nice people have taken the initiative to have a horse shelter. Horses are like people: they need to be protected, not left to be treated like garbage. I applaud these wonderful people for this idea, and I applaud the people who make a difference in the horse world.” The KEHC is a non-profit organization and is in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status. Donations are tax-deductible and should be sent to The KEHC Fund at The Blue Grass Community Foundation, 250 West Main Street, Suite 1220, Lexington, KY 40507

Soring abuse continues Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) recently analyzed data from over 2,800 suspensions imposed by the USDA and Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs). The suspensions, which occurred since 2002 under the Horse Protection Operating Plans Act, were enforced as a result of violations related to soring, scarring, pressure shoeing, and the use of foreign substances on horses’ legs. The analysis turned up some interesting data: • The actual number of violations was 35% higher in 2005 than in the previous three years’ average. • During the four-year period 2002-2005, over 450 people were suspended for multiple violations. • Almost 70% of the reported violations resulted from shows held in four states.Tennessee shows had the most violations with 3 9%, followed by shows in Kentucky (14%), Alabama (9%), and North Carolina (6%). • Sixteen of the directors serving terms during 2005 for the national breed registry, Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders & Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA), were suspended at some point during the 2002-2005 period. (Note: Under 2005 TWHBEA by-laws, only USDA suspensions disqualify seated directors; HIO suspensions do not result in disqualifications). • Twenty-two of the 25 trainers honored as 2005 top performers at the Riders Cup competition, a combined program with the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association and Walking Horse Report, were suspended at some point during the 2002-2005 period. The violations most frequently leading to suspensions were scarring (35%) and soring, including violations involving one or both front legs (52%). FOSH is a national leader in the promotion of natural, sound gaited horses and in the fight against abuse and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. www.fosh.info or 1 -800-651 -7993 .

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e Neighborhood news w False advertising for Fort Dodge vaccine? A federal court signed a preliminary injunction ordering Fort Dodge Animal Health to stop using an advertising campaign that falsely claimed its product was proven to be “superior” to Merial’s Recombitek®, a West Nile Virus (WNV) vaccine for horses. After reviewing the evidence submitted by both Merial and Fort Dodge, the federal court found that Fort Dodge’s claims that its product is more effective than Recombitek in advertisements, on its website, and in other promotional materials, as well as statements made by a Fort Dodge Animal Health representative at a veterinary conference, were “literally false.” In the order, the federal court found that no study has proven or concluded that the Fort Dodge Animal Health vaccine is more effective than Merial’s WNV vaccine. The improper advertisements showed a bar graph comparing two separate studies which utilized different challenge models and involved different biological and environmental factors. Although federal agency officials had informed Fort Dodge last summer that they considered the comparison of these two studies false and misleading, Fort Dodge Animal Health’s information continued to appear in the marketplace.


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Save Your Back Country Trails In an effort to avoid downgrading of trails across the nation, Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA) is urging anyone who uses trails for recreational use, including riding and mule packing, to familiarize themselves with the classification process. If a trail is downgraded, it will receive less maintenance and you may find access restricted. Anyone learning of a downgrade is urged to lobby the Forest Service and their congressional delegations to fight the decision. A recent court order mandates that the public has the right to be informed and involved in the trail classification process before the U.S. Forest Service implements any decisions. The request for grass-roots monitoring and support is part of an ongoing effort by BCHA to ensure the Forest Service operates within the public eye, with full public disclosure, prior to making trail decisions on public lands. The court agreed, and now requires the Forest Service to comply with the law by involving the public in its development process. Back Country Horsemen of America is a national volunteer organization of 1 6,000 members who maintain back country trails across the nation for all users, free of charge. BCHA also holds extensive education classes on “leave no trace” back country use, and works with Congress to ensure the back country remains open for public use and for stock animals (horses and mules).

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by Jessica Lynn

Bugs you DO want in your horse’s life



lthough many people in the horse world use the term probiotic, they may not realize the major role these live beneficial organisms play in their horse’s health. Probiotics boost our horse’s immune health, prevent some forms of colic, and may help our horses steer clear of equine ulcers. In fact, in her book, Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals, 12

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Dr. Eleanor Kellon, DVM, states “Probiotics improve digestion, protect against dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, and reduce gas accumulation.” These mighty microbes are definitely worth a closer look so jump on-board while we take a trip into the world of bugs – beneficial microorganisms, that is.

Digestive systems and good gut bacteria – working together for health To fully appreciate beneficial bugs, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the role they play in the equine digestive system. When a horse starts grinding food with his teeth, his mouth releases enzymes, and thus begins that mouthful’s approximately 100-foot journey through the digestive tract. The food mixes with digestive juices as it enters the stomach where digestive enzymes and billions of microbials begin their work.

Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines the word “pro� as “being in favor of� and “biotics� as a branch of science dealing with the phenomena of living organisms. “Antibiotic� on the other hand means against life or against living organisms.

Although a horse’s stomach is relatively small compared to its size, it is tasked with initiating the breakdown of nutrients using digestive enzymes and stomach acids; very little absorption takes place there. Instead, soluble carbohydrates, along with minerals, fats and proteins, are absorbed in the small intestine. Insoluble carbohydrates that are not so easily The Good, Bad and Neutral? digested, as well as any undigested soluble carbohydrates, then pass to the Although people often think in negative cecum, the “fermentative vat�, before terms when they hear the word “bacteria�, moving into the large in reality there are intestine. A variety of three kinds of bactelive microbials in the rial micro-organisms – cecum break down the “good� (beneficial), remaining nutrients “neutral� and “bad� into a viable usable (i.e. E. Coli, salmonella. form – absorbable volet al). Horses need a To reduce an animal’s atile fatty acids which balance between these susceptibility to gut the horse uses for and thankfully only energy and nutrients. disturbances, you can a few of the “bad� lactic acid-producing routinely supplement with Without a strong army bacteria are needed a product that couples of beneficial intestinal to keep the good and bacteria, the food probiotics with a high quality neutral in check. As moving through the long as the balance digestive enzyme complex digestive tract is not of good, neutral and containing amylase, “fermented� properly, bad bacteria remains and some remains uncellulose, b glucanase, lipase, constant and the digested. When it hits gastro-intestinal tract pectinase and protease. the gastro-intestinal is stable, the horse tract, this undigested stays healthy. food may lead to colic, bloat, or laminitis, and increase the However, when the delicate balance possibility of developing food-related is upset, the horse may not be able allergic conditions. to properly digest or assimilate the






equine wellness .73!-?%QUINE7ELLNESS INDD



Common strains of beneficial bacteria Combination of the Lactobacillus strains: Supports the colonization of friendly bacteria in the colon (hind gut area), aiding in a normal breakdown of food and proper digestion. Lactobacillus acidophilus: Produces lactic acid that keeps “bad bacteria” in check. Continued colonization by this bacteria helps to inhibit the growth of other pathogens (bad bacteria) by competing for nutrients and promoting healthy pH levels. Lactobacillus subtilis: Produces specific substances that have been observed to inhibit the growth of some pathogenic microorganisms including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella sp. Lactobacillus lactis: A natural occurring micro flora that plays a critical role in maintaining a balanced intestinal ecosystem. Bacillus subtilis: Counteracts deadly bacteria that can cause diarrhea. Saccromyces cervisiae: Derived from live yeast cultures. Produces certain enzymes and some B vitamins.

nutrients he needs from his food. This can manifest itself as a dull coat, skin conditions, allergies, inability to maintain weight, slow hoof growth, sore feet, or other medical conditions including intermittent diarrhea.

Imbalance – tipping the scales The population of beneficial live microorganisms in the cecum remains relatively “stable” under normal conditions. As long as a horse is never stressed, never

needs to be wormed, never has a change in feed, and never needs antibiotics, then the balance should remain unaltered. As we know, though, our horses do experience stressful events, may need antibiotics or worming on occasion, and do have feed changes with the seasons and each load of hay. Some of the most common causes of digestive disturbances in horses include: • stress brought on by sudden changes in food, unseasonable weather conditions, moving, travel, competition, training and showing • chemical worming • parasitic infestations • vaccines • viruses • fevers • antibiotics • breeding season, pregnancy, foaling, and weaning – both for mare and foal Another far too common source of digestive disturbance is starch and/or sugar overload. Grazing on rich spring grass or eating a diet too high in sugars can disrupt beneficial microbials, causing partial die-off. This raises the acidity in the gut and changes the natural pH balance, resulting in massive destruction of the normal micro-flora.

Call: 1-800-522-5537 today to order & get $10 off your horse’s first month supply! 14

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Probiotics help prevent ulcers

Recent studies indicate the toxins caused by this die-off can lead to laminitis.

During his presentation at the 2005 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) “Practice Management Seminar: Focus on Equine Colic”, internationally recognized veterinarian Frank Andrews, DVM, MS, Diplomat ACVIM, discussed colonic ulcers in horses.

Unfortunately, the micro flora/microbial balance in a horse can be upset much faster than it can be restored. The effect may not show up immediately, but a horse's beneficial intestinal bacteria can be depleted or destroyed and the pH of this environment severely altered during digestive upset. Therefore, it’s wise to be pro-active by reducing stressors when possible and supplementing with probiotics during at-risk times.

Dr. Andrews suggested we all consider implementing methods to decrease stress and to avoid the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). He also recognized probiotics and digestive aids as important tools in helping the many performance horses that may have colon pain.

2. Getting the most benefit from probiotics Now that we understand the important role microbials play in our horse’s health, it’s time to learn about supplementation. Really, there are three basic things to keep in mind:


Numbers count. One serving of a good live microbial probiotic supplement should have a guaranteed minimum in the billions (not millions) of CFU (colony forming units) of lactic acid bacteria. Too little of the correct micro-organisms are likely to have little positive effect.

Supplement probiotics during at risk times, especially during illness, stress, feed changes, travelling or foaling/weaning times. In high risk instances, such as with vaccinations, antibiotic treatments or chemical worming, begin two weeks prior and continue two weeks after.

3. Choose

a variety of equine-friendly strains. Pick a product that contains at least six different strains of beneficial organisms. Now, when you hear the term probiotic, give a silent round of applause for the hardworking micro-organisms keeping your horse healthy and happy.

Jessica Lynn is a writer and the

Earth Song Ranch, a

owner of

licensed natural feed and supplement manufacturer based in

Southern California. Jessica has been

involved in alternative health care, homeopathy and nutrition for almost


years, using it for her family, including her kids, grandkids, horses, border collies and cats.

She personally researches and Earth Song Ranch nutritional products Contact Jessica via e-mail at Jessica@earthsongranch.com or (951) 514-9700. www.earthsongranch.com formulates all of the

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Photos: David Lichman

Equine mental health By David Lichman


Creating a playday for you and your horse!

Even though we spend a great deal of time making sure our horses are physically at their best, it is also our responsibility to consider their mental and emotional health. In fact, the horsemanship program I teach, developed by Pat Parelli, puts the mental and emotional state of the horse before the physical training. Having fun “play” sessions with your horse not only stimulates his mind, but also has a positive effect on his health. So rev up your imagination and learn how to create a playday for you and your horse.

Organizing is half the fun Since horses and people both tend to do better in groups, we’ll focus on developing an exciting playday in a social setting. Some important keys for success include:

Group therapy The very best advice I have to offer you from my 25 years experience is to get a study buddy or, better yet, a bunch of them. Magic happens when like-minded folks get together; creative juices flow and you feed off each other, coming up with


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even more fun and innovative things to try.

Follow the rules of brainstorming Write down every thought. Do not comment on any idea until after the list is done. This stimulates the creative process – once you get started, one idea feeds the next and sometimes it’s hard to stop! After you’ve made the list, you can go back and discuss the merits of each suggestion.

Everybody Wins Don’t make this into a contest or competition. Even with the best of intentions, principles get compromised when rivalry kicks in. Support each other to achieve as much individual success as possible. Everyone wins this way, especially the horse.

Before you start Have Pat’s natural horsemanship program,

or something like it, in your tool kit before attempting these challenges. Stay safe while having fun. Find out more about the Parelli program through the links on my web site www.DavidLichman.com You can challenge your horse mentally, emotionally and physically and many of your ideas will not be limited to just one focus.

Mental challenges – think puzzles I like to think of the mental challenges as puzzles; solving them requires looking at things from the horse’s point of view and thinking outside the box.

Straddle a Pole Let’s take the ground skill challenge of asking your horse to straddle a log or a pole – the hard way. Can you get the horse to step over the pole so that it lines up under his belly the long way with his right feet on one side and left feet on the other? It’s not much of a physical challenge, but you may stir up some emotions. So, how can you solve the mental

puzzle here? Think laterally! What are the components of the solution? Ask yourself if you can:

Equi-Spirit Toys & Tools

Without a pole, adjust the hindquarters and forequarters independently while keeping the horse from drifting forwards or backwards in the process. Ask the horse to put one foot over a pole as if she were going to cross it. How about the other foot, both feet, one hind foot, both hind feet? Request that your horse straddle just a line drawn in the sand and graduate up to a lead line on the ground before attempting the pole. Use approach and retreat rather than going direct line. Do you see how you can build this strategy into all your playday tasks?


Have a graduated set of descriptions attached to each task you’ll attempt. Label them “Easiest”, “Challenging”, and “Wow!”

• Improve your imagination and rekindle the fun • Stimulate your horse’s mind, body and spirit

• Free play or mounted games For more information visit:

www.naturalhorsetalk.com On-line, phone or fax orders.

Limbo anyone? Another fun mental challenge is the limbo bar. I like to use a lightweight PVC pipe which can be raised or lowered easily and isn’t securely attached to the supports. This way you can start really high and build confidence as you work your way down. Horses learn to stick their noses under it and lift it up out of the way. Here’s a hint – teach your horse to move forward while asking him to keep his head below his withers. The horse’s natural tendency to pick his head up when you ask for forward movement will ruin your limbo attempt unless you teach him otherwise. Ask for lowered head with your hand on the halter or the horse’s poll and reward the slightest try at forward movement. When you approach the obstacle, have the ears below the level of the bar before asking for forward, and soon you’ll be the limbo star.

Have a Ball Other mental puzzles include getting your horse to push a big exercise ball with his nose or feet. Teach him to push it forward through a simple course or fetch it for equine wellness


Advanced Emotional Challenges •trailer loading with something hanging over the doorway

•impulse sprinklers

blasting on a tarp on the fence

•marbles or pebbles on a tin roof

•fans and leaf blowers with streamers


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you. Ask your horse to go out and around a cone or barrel and come back to you while you sit on the fence.

Build health with emotional challenges Desensitization and confidence-building challenges definitely help a horse’s well being. Horses that are nervous and scared in the human environment will have higher levels of adrenalin and endogenous steroids which can lead to ulcers, infections and lowered immune response to invading viruses. Emotional challenges are anything that would tend to scare your horse but in reality would not hurt her. Plastic bags, tarps, gunshots and farm equipment are good examples. The best thing to do is to teach your horse a coping strategy that is compatible with relaxation. I like to teach them to lower their head and use that behavior to help them overcome their fear. Start with an object you can control – like a plastic bag on the end of a stick.

As you shake the bag, ask the horse to lower her head. Quit shaking the bag each time her head gets a little lower until it reaches all the way to the ground. The horse learns to cope with the scary bag by lowering her head into a submissive, relaxed position. She may not be relaxed at this moment, but over time she will accept the scary thing. Soon she will relax and then begin to generalize this response to other frightening situations.


If an object is moveable, you can also engage the horse’s curiosity by having him follow it. Curiosity destroys fear! Of course, there are some things you can’t control such as tarps blowing in the wind, or traffic. For these, retreat to a distance the horse accepts and keep his feet still long enough for you to ask

him to lower his head. When his head is down, he will think, “I’m down here in this vulnerable position. I’m not dead. Maybe this thing will be OK.” Over time you will be able to get closer and closer until he can handle it right next to him.

Put it all together with combination challenges Some tasks will have qualities of both mental and emotional challenges, sometimes even with a physical element. For

is an example that contains all three challenges. In cases like this, break things down into smaller steps such as front feet only, hind feet only, and lower and larger pedestals.


Always address the emotional element first in combination challenges.

In the saddle

instance, asking your horse to step up on to a small pedestal with all four feet

ideas, get out there and start playing. Not only will you both have some fun, you’ll stimulate your horse’s mind, body and spirit. And by the way, if you come up with any cool new ideas, please let me know!

Any new challenge you offer your horse should be done on a line on the ground first. That’s the easiest and safest place to learn. Once things are going well on line, try them at liberty. Only then should you proceed to mounted challenges, keeping in mind you can always dismount and refresh the lesson on the ground if things are not going well. Now that you’re equipped with some

As one of Pat Parelli’s top rated instructors, David travels all over the world helping people to get extraordinary results with horses. David has a special and personal interest in the Gaited and Iberian breeds, and is the author of Gaited Horses, Naturally! - A set of 2 DVDs and a book which addresses how Parelli Natural Horsemanship applies to gaited horses. Part 2, Cantering is now available as a single DVD. www.davidlichman.com

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e w holistic veterinary advice

talking with dr. heather mack & dr. joyce harman Heather Mack, DVM, graduated in 1991 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and received certification from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society that same year. She is also certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association and specializes in Equine sports medicine, maintaining a very busy practice in California as well as Idaho. Contact Dr. Mack at (760) 447-0776 or visit www.advancedwholehorse.com. Joyce Harman, DVM, MRCVS, graduated in 1984 from Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. She is certified in veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic and has completed advanced training in homeopathy and herbal medicine. Her practice in Virginia uses 100% holistic medicine to treat all types of horses. Her publications include The Horse’s Pain-Free Back and SaddleFit Book – the most complete source of information about English saddles – and The Western Saddle Book is on its way. www.harmanyequine.com. Send your questions to: Holistic veterinary advice. email: info@equinewellnessmagazine.com Our veterinary columnists respond to questions in this column only. We regret we cannot


Editor’s Note: This column is for information purposes only. It is not meant to replace veterinary care. Please consult your veterinarian before giving your horse any remedies.

Dear Dr. Mack: The teat area of my eight-year-old mare is swollen all the time. It’s worst on the right side, and isn’t painful or hard. I have tried homeopathic Conium with no change. Although this doesn’t cause her any distress, I do have to clean her often as dirt easily collects around that area. Any thoughts?


Obviously before I suggest anything I would like to examine her. It sounds like your mare has stagnant Chi in the glandular systems. I would like to know if she has ever had a foal and if any other glands are swollen. For instance, if she is thick around her throatlatch, she may also have swollen submandibular lymph nodes or parotid glands. In this case I would prescribe herbs to increase lymphatic circulation. I have had great success with Silver Lining Herb’s Lymphatic formula. Secondly, even though it is usually associated with hardness and swelling, I would try the homeopathic Phytolacca decandra. I have used it successfully in a variety of mammary conditions. Lastly, you might want to turn the cleaning into a healing session. Have the intent in your hands to increase circulation in the area and do some TTouch or gentle massage


respond to every question.

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or reiki if you know how. I would mix essential oils of fennel, roman chamomile, lavender and hyssop in Rescue Remedy cream and massage that into her teats.


Dear Dr. Harman: My horse was diagnosed with a few healing ulcers and irritated stomach lining. We had her on Ulcer Guard for six weeks, but when it was stopped, her symptoms (occasional loose manure, rearing, kicking, turning her tail to me, ears pinned back, and nipping), returned. For two weeks now, I have been using two rounded teaspoons of slippery elm powder, two oz. of aloe vera gel and 1⁄3 cup of chamomile tea on her food twice a day. Her flank and stomach area are sore to the touch also. My vet has ruled out muscle disease and uterine cysts but he does not agree with the natural medicines. I would value your help.


Although ulcers can be a difficult problem to work with, they do respond well to natural medicines. The first question you need to ask – what is the environment like? Horses kept in crowded pastures, in a stall 24 hours a day, in hard training programs or on the show circuit every weekend are likely to continue with ulcers despite medication and will need to be supported with

natural compounds all the time. They cannot be cured. Horses with access to pasture and other horses (even a small herd or a companion) often can be helped or even cured of ulcers. One of the most important things is not to use antacid products, as these make the stomach less acid. Less acid in the stomach means minerals like calcium, selenium and zinc are not properly absorbed, and the good bugs in the intestinal tract get killed off. To treat the ulcers, herbal formulas and homeopathics are available and acupuncture can also be effective. It would be best to consult with a holistic vet for a plan to help this horse.


Dear Dr. Mack: I have a wonderful old horse with equine chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He takes Ventipulmin from May to October; it runs about $400 a month and I am not sure it really helps. Do you have any suggestions as to supplements or therapies that might help? He is in good health otherwise and has a lazy retirement, out in the day and in at night. When the weather gets hot this is reversed.


The very best way to manage COPD horses is to control their environment. I

don’t know what part of the country you live in but I am guessing that the dry summertime dust exacerbates his condition. Ensure good ventilation, keep the dust down, install a sprinkler system for him, and soak his hay and/or pellets. Imagine what it feels like to have heaves and use good common sense when you are creating the best possible environment for him. The next thing to do is strengthen his overall vitality so he has stronger immune response and recovers faster. I suggest that you find an acupuncturist who is willing to treat him once a month or every six weeks during the tough times and to show you which acupoints to stimulate. You can stimulate acupoints with pressure, laser or light energy, infrasound, or even use essential oils on a meridian. Young Living Essential oils makes a blend called R.C. that has several eucalyptus oil varieties, myrtle, pine, spruce, marjoram, lavender, cypress, and peppermint in it. I treat most of my respiratory cases with R.C., blended with a mixing oil and applied along the Lung Meridian. I would also try to locate an equine nebulizer and use it with water and a small amount of eucalyptus oil in it. Silver Lining Herbal Equine Supplements makes two formulas I recommend, Breathe Easy and Immune Builder. They may work better for you than Ventipulmin. Lastly, I would NOT give your old friend any more vaccinations.


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Dear Dr. Harman: We believe our 14-year-old gelding has ringbone. He is an occasional mount for our four and 10-year-old kids, but for the most part stays turned out. Are there any suggestions you have for supplements we could give him to help ease the effects or pain-limp he experiences when the kids do ride him?


The first thing to do is have your veterinarian examine him and take x-rays. He/she may want to do a lameness exam and perhaps give a bit of a nerve block (like Novocain) around the foot area to be certain which part of his foot or ankle bothers him. If it does turn out to be ringbone, homeopathic Ruta grav 30C can be very helpful. Give 6-8 tablets one to two times a week for a month or so. Herbal joint supplements (either western or Chinese herbs) can very helpful as they tend to work on the area around joints better than glucosamine based supplements. A consult with a holistic veterinarian would be very helpful.


Dear Dr. Mack: How does one go about cleaning a horse’s sheath? Normally you need a vet to sedate the horse so he drops and is relaxed. I have had a near death experience cleaning a gelding’s sheath that was heavily sedated for dentistry. He kicked me into a metal pole and knocked me out for quite some time. So please be careful and have plenty of room for an escape route if your horse gets uncomfortable. On the other equine wellness


hand some geldings and even more so breeding stallions will let you clean them unsedated. The crust that builds up on the shaft of the penis is unsightly and probably uncomfortable but not nearly as important as the “beans” that collect in the diverticuli around the tip of the urethra. Dirt, smegma and urine can accumulate in these little caverns and get as big as a walnut or small lemon. When this happens it can obstruct the outflow of urine and be extremely painful – even life threatening. I recommend you learn from someone who already knows how to clean sheaths. I wear latex gloves and put some lubricant, mineral oil, or Excalibur sheath cleaner on my fingertips and go for the “beans” first, because that is the most important part. The horse may retract when you start the process so don’t fiddle around; you’d be surprised how far up there it can go. You can still clean the sheath while it is retracted but it’s a bit more difficult. Use warm water, a very mild soap and roll cotton, and remember to rinse well. Editor’s note: Proper preparation can go a long way to ensure success and safety during sheath cleaning. Get your horse used to you touching his belly, sheath and penis before attempting any cleaning and NEVER grab a hold with an iron grip. Using approach and retreat, begin rubbing his belly button (yes, horses do have one) which is very enjoyable to most horses, then move closer to his genital area and back to the belly button. After several sessions of this, your gelding or stallion will be much more open to the actual cleaning. For some more details on cleaning see www. equisearch.com/horses_care/health/grooming/eqsavvy386/index.html


Dear Dr. Harman: I would love to get some help from you about sore spots on my horse’s back which developed from a poor fitting saddle before I acquired him. He is a chestnut and the two spots look like white circles. It seems kind of bumpy to the touch. Should I be worried and does it cause any pain? How can I help him? If your current saddle fits well, the previous bumps are probably scar tissue. Have a good feel of the area before you ride and again after, to see if there is any flinching or signs of soreness. If the area is painful, a good treatment with massage, acupuncture or even chiropractic will usually take care of old pain. The homeopathic remedy Silicea 30C can be given once a week for 2 to 3 weeks to clear up some of the scar tissue. If the current saddle does cause a pain problem, you will need to check your saddle for proper fit and replace if necessary.


Dear Dr. Mack: Is it okay to use essential oils with homeopathy or is there a contraindication? You can use essential oils on a horse’s body and administer


equine wellness

Contact your cable or satelite provider or visit www.horsetv.com. Photo usage: Dressage, Diana De Rosa (rider: Lisa Wilcox); Endurance, Steph Teeter, www.endurance.net; Vaulting, Rick VanVranken; Reining, NRHA, Oklahoma, City, OK.

Š 2006 HorseTV Media Group, Inc.

equine wellness



Gastric Health

Used by Veterinarians



homeopathy in the same visit but you must be very careful not to contaminate the homeopathy with oils on your hands. It would be best to administer the homeopathic first before you even opened up your bottles of oils. You definitely don’t want to offer oils orally and homeopathy at the same time. I would wait at least an hour. I’m sure that a classical homeopath would strongly disagree with me but I use oils and homeopathy with great success on nearly all of my patients. Be very careful not to store essential oils anywhere near your homeopathics as they are powerful and can contaminate the vibration of the homeopathic remedies.


Dear Dr. Harman: My friend’s horse likes to chew on a certain tree in his field – a sweet gum. Although there are many different trees in his area, he always chooses the same one. Is this something to be concerned about? Although some horses chew on wood out of boredom, many are looking for minerals. A free-choice mineral product without added salt is a great way to offer what the horse may need. Also provide a naturally-mined salt separately so the horse can choose. Keep in mind that many horses just want minerals and will not eat them in the standard mineral/salt block, which is about 95% salt.


Dear Dr. Harman: Why do vaccine development companies only test vaccine reactivity for a period of two weeks or less after the vaccine is administered, considering the fact that the onset of low grade laminitis may take three or more weeks to manifest itself after the initial causality?

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Vaccine and other drug companies focus on the immediate reaction to a drug (24 to 48 hours), and in the case of vaccines, the presence of a titer at six months to a year. Some vaccines are tested for efficacy after several months by exposing the animals to the disease to see how many are protected. Conventional medicine practitioners in general seldom make the association between disease symptoms that occur long after a drug is given. Holistic practitioners tend to recognize the association, but they do not make a profit from the drug companies. The FDA is not currently taking official reports of adverse events for veterinary drugs, so you can contact the drug companies directly, or try to have your veterinarian contact the company. Drug companies are supposed to keep records of problems; however they prefer to deal with the veterinarians directly. Editor’s note: There used to be an adverse events reporting website run by the FDA but it was discontinued several years ago. There is no government supported reporting for veterinary vaccines. We can report to the drug company, but they have no obligation and they do not report back to vets about these reactions. Dear Readers: The brand names recommended in this column are suggestions only. There are other brands with similar formulas. As with any product, it’s important to buy a brand you can trust. Many thanks to Ed O’Brien from All About Horses for assisting with this issue’s questions. www.allabouthorses.com

Product Picks Getting to the point For millennia, practitioners have successfully used acupressure to treat acute and chronic conditions. Now you can learn more about this form of hands-on healing through the Equine Landmark Anatomy & Acupoint Energetics DVD and Manual. These comprehensive tools, which help you find more than 60 specific acupoints, will appeal to equine acupressure and acupuncture students as well as professionals in the field. Veterinarian Dr. Turie Norman takes you through the most important aspects of equine anatomy, including the 12 major meridians. The commentary in the DVD and the illustrated manual ensure you have all the information you need to address equine cases now and in the future. Two musthave resources for anyone interested in acupressure. DVD: $45 Manual: $35 www.animalacupressure.com

e w

Treats that do more than taste great When it comes to nutrition, Nature knows best. Winnie’s works closely with Mother Nature when they put together their Winnie’s Cookies – the supplements that taste like treats. Baked fresh daily, these cookies come in a variety of “flavors” designed to address your equine’s specific needs. You can choose from one of their existing formulas e.g. WinnFlex ™ cookies for healthy cartilage, ManeLife ™ for healthy mane and hair, etc. but what we really like is their custom order option. You can arrange to have an order baked up to your specifications, depending on what your individual horse requires. All Winnie’s preservative-free cookies are made from certified organic ingredients to optimize your animal’s health and performance. 8 doz. pail to 32 doz. pail: $28.95 to $103.95 Custom orders: $2.25/doz. Members pay less www.winniescookies.com

Sea the difference Give him the boot More and more horses are transitioning to barefoot these days. Whether you’ve just decided to try barefoot after dealing with ongoing hoof problems or are a barefoot advocate, Hoofwings can prove invaluable to your horse’s comfort and recovery. Hoofwings protect better than horseshoes with full pads and you can remove them when they’re not needed. Use them on rough terrain or pavement to prevent stone bruises and discomfort. Unlike shoes, Hoofwings permit hooves to expand when your horse puts his weight down so they’re a natural for your horse’s hoofcare needs. Maybe that’s why the Houston Police Mounted Patrol Unit (on Martha Olivo’s advice) now uses them for their barefoot horses. Available in 17 different sizes and color options. $159 to $211/pair www.horsesneaker.com

Years of farming have left many of our crops nutrient depleted. Source founder Susan Domizi turned to the ocean’s rich resources to help make up for the shortfall. In 1975, she created a broad spectrum micronutrient supplement that enhances any equine diet. Reported results include shinier coats, stronger hooves and better stamina. The Source Original Formula, which contains selected varieties of all-natural cold water seaweeds, offers 60 elements in a biologically active form, and is free from artificial ingredients and preservatives. Whatever you’re currently feeding, this unique blend will give your horse’s diet a boost. In fact, the company is so sure you’ll see a difference that they offer a money-back guarantee. Available in Original dry meal 22 oz trial to 40 lb bulk: $10.49 to $176.99 or Micro Nuggets (pellets) 3.5 lb or 25 lb bulk: $16.69 and $87.99 www.4source.com equine wellness


Natural Horse

starts with communication and respect


by Lisa Ross-Williams

Full of spirit, the gray seems to dance with the woman as she communicates her wishes from the ground. There are no whips to make him obedient. Instead, through natural communication and respect, the gray follows her cues and navigates logs, jumps and other obstacles.


equine wellness

Later, knowing the horse is inviting her to ride, the woman swings onto his bare back and asks him to turn his head to remove the hand-tied halter. Even though there are no physical bonds to hold him, he follows her seemingly invisible cues, appreciating her trust and enjoying their interaction. Imagine having a horse like this, one who is truly your partner, responding willingly to your slightest request, cooperating to accomplish everyday tasks, and happy in your company. Imagine standing next to your trailer and asking your horse to load at liberty. This is natural horsemanship. Communication, understanding and mutual respect are the foundations of natural horsemanship, and far more powerful than mechanical force or intimidation. By following some basic principles, and

emanship getting involved in a natural training program, you’ll be able to develop the relationship you’ve always dreamed of with your equine partner.

Fundamental principles for working with your horse • Every interaction with your horse is important. Natural horsemanship isn’t just about using certain techniques when you’re training, but is a mindset to hold every time you’re around your equine partner. • Groundwork is essential and should come before riding. The communication and respect you gain on the ground translates directly to saddle work.

• Never try to be sneaky when dealing with horses. They always know when you’re not being up front, and will then lose trust in you. Don’t hide halters behind your back or bribe them with food. A good leader can be trusted. • Lack of cooperation may be a sign of physical pain. If a horse is reluctant to pick up a certain lead, flex laterally, or even pick up his feet, rule out and correct any physical problems before blaming the horse for disobedience. • Emotional fitness is your responsibility. Learn to control your emotions, especially anger. When humans “lose it,” they lower themselves in the eyes of the horse. You can be assertive without being aggressive. • Don’t use mechanical force for control equine wellness


or punishment. Tools should be minimal and should not cause pain. Fear will overcome pain when a horse is scared. Remember that a horse’s brakes are in his head, not his mouth. • It’s release that teaches, not pressure. Accept and reward small successes, then build on them. Immediate release helps the horse understand how to be light. • Use less pressure than you think you’ll need. Give your horse the benefit of the doubt and you’ll be amazed how light he can be. • Make the right things easy and the wrong things difficult, but do allow the horse to make mistakes. Set up the situation so that the horse figures out the answer on his own. Micro-managing only results in a frustrated horse and a tired handler. • Don’t make the horse stand still. Remember that horses are prey animals that survive by running from threats. It’s

not productive to “make him stand still” when he’s bothered. Allow him to move, but make it on your terms by asking him to circle, go backwards and/or sideways. Eventually, he’ll figure out that it’s easier to stand still, and it becomes his idea. • Do what horses do. Take the time to just watch them interact. What can you learn by watching a herd leader? • Make it fun. Use your imagination to incorporate obstacles, turn on some music and dance with him. Your horse will be less inclined to become bored and tune you out. • Spend quality time with your horse to help enhance your relationship, sitting with him while he’s eating, or stroking him while he’s napping. • Once your horse

has learned something, find a task or job that will put the principle to use. Horses get bored very easily if they see no point to the lessons. Natural horsemanship is an integral part of the whole horse concept. Not only does it result in a happier and more willing horse, it promotes a much safer and fulfilling relationship for you and your equine friend. You don’t need to be a “horse whisperer” or have decades of experience. All it takes is an open heart and mind, along with the desire and dedication to learn and grow along with your horse.

Natural horsemanship programs and clinicians Parelli Natural Horsemanship: A step by step development program for both horse and human. Offers books, videos, worldwide instructors, clinics, support network and instructor certification programs. www.parelli.com Buck Brannaman: Sound horsemanship without a lot of fancy packaging. Learning resources include books, videos, and clinics. www.brannaman.com John Lyons: A well-known program that offers books, videos, worldwide instructors, clinics, and instructor certification programs. www.johnlyons.com Ray Hunt: A horseman in the truest sense, who holds clinics throughout the world. Best to have a foundation before attending. www.rayhunt.com Mark Rashid: Provides a slightly different outlook on the “alpha” horse concept. Clinics, books, and videos. www.markrasid.com David Lichman: Fun, natural horsemanship with special interest in the Gaited and Iberian breeds. www.davidlichman.com Karen Scholl: Horsemanship for Women. Provides a supportive learning environment to allow women to discover their natural leadership abilities with their horses. www.karenscholl.com GaWaNi Pony Boy: A Native American perspective on horsemanship. Clinics, demos, private evaluation, books and videos. www.ponyboy.com Dan Sumerel: A former race car driver turned horseman. Books, videos and clinics throughout the US. www.sumereltraining.com Anna Twinney: A wonderful program based on the whole horse concept by incorporating body language, energy work and alternative healing modalities. www.reachouttohorses.com Mary Ann Simonds: Enlightened Horsemanship and Enchanted Riding: A focus on thinking like a horse and understanding how they perceive their world. www.mystichorse.com


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Photo: Che Prasad

English rider takes a blend of art and science

Fitting the horse and the by Sabine Schleese

Professional saddle fitters often see some challenging situations. One that immediately comes to mind: a 200 pound, 5’2” rider on a thoroughbred from the race track who insists on a 16½ saddle. The poor horse almost collapses when his rider gets on, and yet with the proper saddle, this combination is doable. What’s the secret? Fit the horse and fit the rider. Saddle fitting is not rocket science, but it is a learned skill – the ideal combination of art (feel) and science (analysis of measurements) to determine the optimum fit. Since correct saddle fit is such an integral part of the whole horse concept, it’s always best to work with someone who is qualified to ensure that you find the best solution that works for both you and your horse! However, with some basic English saddle fit principles, any rider can conduct an initial evaluation of the equipment they’re using.

so we’ll start with the easy part – the horse.

Fit the Horse

of your saddle should be parallel to the floor.

Believe it or not, there are many more points of reference on the rider to take into consideration than there are for the horse,


equine wellness

These eight areas of concern can help determine whether your saddle fits your horse. They should be done with the horse standing square on the ground with the saddle girthed up, without pad or rider.

to one side when viewed from back.

3. Withers

clearance: 1-2 fingers all around the muscle at the pommel – not just over the withers!

4. Gullet width: 3-4 fingers so as not to





1. Balance: the center

2. Straightness: saddle should not be skewed

Proper full panel contact

– equal pressure along the back; should not be hollow or rock, often called “bridging”.

Uneven panel contact

interfere with spinal processes, dorsal ligament system, and nerve endings along the back.

External Factors that can Affect your saddle fit




•Flocking shifts •Leather condition •Billets stretching •Tree twisting (due to uneven musculature of horse and/or rider) •Seat foam settles

•Ability improves •Discipline changes •New trainer with different expectations •New horse •Weight loss/gain

•Training & conditioning •Age •Nutritional changes •Health issues •New trim or shoes •Dental care

5. Full

panel contact: equal pressure along the back; should not be hollow or rock, often called “bridging”.

6. Billet

alignment: should hang perpendicular to the ground.


Shoulder angle: panel points should be flush with shoulder to not interfere with horse’s freedom of movement.


Treepoints behind shoulder blades, not on them! Preferably curved backwards so as not to interfere with movement. So after you check the above, your saddle seems to fit the horse properly, but something is still not quite right. Now it’s time to ask “Does your saddle fit you?”

this discomfort will transfer down to the horse, causing pain and imbalance. These four main keys are important for riders to consider.

Fit the Rider

1. Saddle

Although many riders are most concerned about proper saddle fit for their horse, they must also consider themselves. It is important that the saddle feel comfortable and fit the rider correctly, because if it doesn’t,

2. Twist. Ensure that the twist (the part

seat. Should be large enough to allow you at least one to two fingers of room at the cantle. It’s also important that the seat balance of the saddle feel comfortable for the individual; some are forward, some centre, some are rear balanced.


of the tree you feel between your thighs) is correct and comfortable for you – men and women are built differently and this should be reflected in the saddle design.

may need to extend your stirrup bars if the ratio of your upper leg length to your lower leg length warrants it. This allows your leg to hang properly.

Outside influences So now you have an English saddle that fits your and your horse. But wait – of



Improper posture

Proper posture

Flap design and length. Needs to be such that your leg is positioned properly with enough leather behind your thigh to ‘cover’ it. Make sure the flap is attached at the correct angle at the back of the saddle bellies so it’s functional as well as visually appealing.


Stirrup bars. You

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Signs your horse may have saddle fit issues: •Won’t stand for saddling, cinching, mounting •Bucks, runs away or is hard to catch •Head tossing or refuses jumps •Is ‘cold-backed’ •Has dry spots under wet blanket •Doesn’t travel well downhill or stumbles frequently •Behavior deteriorates during the course of the ride •Quits ‘working’ mid-session or mid-season

Signs you might have saddle fit issues: •Do you hear “get your legs back, put your heels downâ€? as a regular part of your riding lesson? •Are your shoulders, hips, and heels out of alignment (the classical dressage position)? •Are your stirrup leathers the same length but feel uneven? •Do you lean to one side? •Do you feel twisted in your saddle? •Do you use more than a thin cotton pad under your saddle to help your position? •Are you just plain uncomfortable in your saddle and think “there’s gotta be a better way?â€?

course it’s not that simple in the horse world! There are many external influences that can adversely affect your saddle’s fit from year to year or even from one day to the next. Be aware of some of these factors and always give your horse the benefit of the doubt if he suddenly starts misbehaving. Check your saddle fit! So is saddlefitting art or science? Optimally, in order to fit the horse and the rider, it’s a combination of both. Because there are so many variables to consider, it’s best to work with someone who is qualified to ensure the best fit. But in the meantime, use the above principles to get a better idea of what you’re dealing with.

Sabine Schleese is the Managing Director of Schleese Saddlery Service Ltd., and partner to well-known and respected Certified Master Saddler Jochen Schleese. Over the past 20 years they have built their company to employ 45 trained craftsman and support staff all over North America. Sabine has been on the list of Canada’s Top 100 Women Business Owners for the last six years, and the company has been selected to be the Official Saddler for the World Cup Final in Las Vegas for the second time in 2007. She balances her life between running the company, her household, and being involved in the lives of her two teenaged daughters.

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“Horse Charming” How to reach a common ground of understanding


by Mary Ann Simonds

Good horse people have been talking with horses and hearing what they say for thousands of years. However, recently with the “Horse Whispering” wave, we are re-acknowledging our deep and sometimes unspoken relationship with horses. Relationships between horses and people can vary depending upon the horse and human and what each wants to gain. At the heart of horse-human relationship are the individual personalities and horsenalities coming together for a reason. The reason may be as simple as fun exercise together or as complex as a deep interactive friendship, where both excel beyond their individual capabilities. Regardless of your level or reason for interacting with horses, when you have a better understanding of how they think and feel, you’ll take your relationship to a new level. Many people who intimately communicate with horses cannot articulate their communication and

hence, it is considered “magic.” The reality is that anyone who truly understands horses and thinks and feels with horses has the ability to communicate openly. I’ve been studying human animal interactions and healing for over 25 years, first as an undergraduate wildlife and range ecology student and then later focusing my graduate work in this field, but I’ll never forget one of my first encounters of a relationship at work. When I transferred from the University of California to the University of Wyoming, I took my junior jumper champion with me. I was delighted to have my best friend to share my dreams of riding the open range. I was intently interested in equine wellness


the cognitive ethology (animal awareness) of animals and eager to begin my research so when one of the first “cowboys” I met offered to take me out on the range, I eagerly accepted. The cowboy showed up in a pickup truck with a stock rack on it and said, “Let’s go.” I asked where his trailer was and he replied, “I thought you had a jumping horse.” I was a little stunned that he expected my horse to jump into the back end of his truck through the metal stock gate. He casually walked away, whistled for his horse to come out of pasture, which he did, and then saddled it. I stood in awe, as his horse just as casually jumped into the back end of the truck, managing to duck and not get the horn of the

Horse charming is the real magic of inter-species communication, where horse and human reach a common ground of understanding. Although it may appear that few people have this ability, it is there for all to embrace. saddle stuck on the top bar. I asked him how he trained his horse to do this impressive feat. With a puzzled look, he replied, “I didn’t. He just wants to go to work.” I realized there were many “special” horse people out there. Some had no idea how they communicated with their horses, because they had always done it and therefore, it was an innate part of them, not something they had learned. However, I wondered if there was a similarity to our methods or if everyone was doing it differently? After several years of research, I was able to identify some common similarities among people who seemed to have special relationships with horses. These people are able to:

Think and feel “with” the animal instead of just looking “at” the animal. Science teaches us how to be good objective observers, which means we often distance ourselves from the animal and analyze what is wrong instead of using feeling. Very few animals analyze; most just feel. If we can learn to feel with the animals without letting our own issues and projections get in the way, we will open a pathway for greater understanding.

Understand and use body language appropriately so the animal can understand it. They also read the animal’s body language accurately. Again, thinking and feeling with the animal, you are less likely to mistake body language signals. For instance, while a person looking “at” an animal may interpret certain


equine wellness

behavior as “aggressive”, a person who thinks and feels “with” the animal sees as an expression of fear.

Withhold “judgment” of the animal until they’ve developed a good working relationship. Then they can identify the animal’s personality. Each animal is an individual. Just when you think you know a lot, you will get an animal that tells you that “you know nothing about me.”

Stay focused with the animal. Most people cannot hold their focus with anything for more than four seconds, and yet we expect animals to stay focused on us for much longer. Learn to keep your awareness with the animal and not be distracted by others, no matter what is going on around you. You must learn to stay present in the moment with the animal.

Match frequencies. Animals are talking all of the time on their frequencies, but most people miss the unspoken language, because their thoughts are too busy racing around in a million different directions on human frequencies. Often, slowing down our own frequencies and asking our minds and bodies to “match” frequencies with other animals opens up the door to clearer communication.

Enjoy “being” with the animal. In my studies, it was obvious that both the person and animal were enjoying the communication or relationship of working together. The relationship was not built on dominance or the animal giving in to the human’s desires, but rather a respectful acknowledgement which builds trust between the two beings. Later, these observations developed into the O.F.F.E.R. Techniques, which have been published and shared with thousands of people to help them learn to “share awareness” with other species. The Open-Friendly-Focused-EmpatheticRespectful Techniques follow and can be used to develop a closer and more loving and open relationship with any other species. Horse charming is the real magic of inter-species communication, where horse and human reach a common ground of understanding. Although it may appear that few people have this ability, it is there for all to embrace. By opening yourself to the possibilities and following the steps above, you can achieve a deeper, more mutually beneficial relationship with your equine partner. Mary Ann Simonds is an equine behaviorist, human-animal therapist, business coach and holistic health consultant. Obtaining degrees in Wildlife Biology and Range Management, Simonds later received her Masters in Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies with emphasis in Human-Animal Interactions. For over 30 years she has studied and taught horse behavior and natural health care, integrating this knowledge into her Enlightened Horsemanship and Enchanted Riding Programs. She conducts clinics and consultation and has released a book on Herbs for Horses, a video on Herbs and Aromatherapy for Horses and her popular dvd Think Like a Horse. www.mystichorse.com equine wellness


Photo: Melanie Kuipers



TIPS for the best western saddle fit

by Dr Joyce Harman, DVM

Saddle fitting has become a hot topic lately, and for a very good reason – riders are beginning to realize that if a horse is comfortable, her performance is enhanced, whether she’s carrying you on the trail or into competition. Correct saddle fit is as important to the equine as correct shoe fit is to the human. We all know what it feels like to have illfitting shoes; we certainly don’t want to go for a jog and most often become a bit cranky as the day goes on. That’s not even taking into consideration the lingering pain that lasts long after those uncomfortable shoes are removed. No wonder it takes us so long to choose a new pair of shoes! Since horses can’t pick their own saddles like we do our shoes, it’s up to us to ensure the best possible fit.

The horse comes first Horses come in all shapes and sizes – from the tall, high withered thoroughbred to


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the short stocky quarter horse, and all those in between. Therefore, saddles must offer varied saddle design options to accommodate these differences. Use these five basic considerations to help determine if your saddle conforms to your horse’s back:


Structure is fundamental

Before you even place a saddle on your horse’s back, you must inspect the actual

structure of the saddle. Unfortunately, many saddle manufactures seldom use quality control and therefore many new saddles are purchased with serious defects such as twisted trees. Examine the saddle carefully from all angles, checking for balance and symmetry. Minor differences from one side to the other can be tolerated, but most visible differences will cause pressure points on the horse’s back or hinder the rider’s ability to find the correct position in the saddle.


Please take the pressure off my shoulders

The positioning of the saddle is the most critical aspect of saddle fit. Many riders make the common mistake of setting the

saddle too far forward. This positions the rigid tree over the top of the shoulder blade and exerts enormous pressure and pain, which restricts the horse’s movement. However, if the tree is not a correct fit for the horse, moving the saddle off of the shoulders may tip the rider forward.

forward and the saddle can make contact with the withers. Short, flared skirting will keep the skirting from interfering with the shoulders and loins.

Saddles with shorter bars, such as those used in barrel racing and those designed for Arabians, can be easier to move back into the correct position. Unfortunately, many of the shorter bars are still too straight so they can dig into the back muscles.



The initial cost of the saddle seems to have no bearing on the number or severity of structural defects found.


A strong foundation – the saddle tree

The saddle tree must fit the horse across the withers, without the use of pads. In fact, a bare tree with no leather should conform to the horse’s back, putting pressure only on the rib cage. Any part of the saddle extending past the rib cage should not put any pressure on the loins. The bars need to have enough rocker (curve to the bottom) and flair (curve at the ends) so the bar shape conforms to the shape of the horse’s back; very few trees have enough. When saddles are too straight or narrow, it creates a “bridge� with four pressure points: on both shoulders and both sides of the back at the rear of the saddle. This causes the front to sit up too high, unbalancing the rider. If the saddle is too wide across the withers, the rider will tip

Keep it on the level

Ensure that the seat is level when viewed from the side and that the rider comfortably sits in the center of the seat. If the seat is not level or the lowest point is incorrectly placed, the rider will be out of balance and may not even know it! A too-narrow saddle sits up too high at the front, causing the rider’s weight to be pitched toward the rear. This places the rider’s legs too far forward -- one of the most common faults. A saddle that is too wide will tip forward or down at the front, pitching the rider’s body forward, legs back behind the vertical.


A comfortable girth

The girth should always end up in the narrowest point of the rib cage, perpendicular to the ground and should naturally drop down into the narrowest part of the ribs. Keep in mind, some horse’s girth spots are just behind the elbows, while others are one to two handbreaths behind. The girth should be as long as possible so it ends just below the saddle, but out of the rider’s way.


If the saddle does not fit, no change in position will correct the problem.




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Physical signs of saddle fitting problems

Don’t forget the rider

•Obvious sores •White hairs under the saddle •Temporary swellings (after removing the saddle) •Scars or hard spots in the muscle or skin •Atrophy of the muscles on the sides of the withers

If the saddle does not suit the rider, that rider then becomes the saddle-fitting problem! Check your fit with three rider considerations.

Behavioral problems related to saddle fit and back pain •Any objection to being saddled •Hypersensitivity to brushing •Difficult to trim or shoe •Rearranging the stall bedding constantly •Unable to stand still

Training problems that may indicate a saddle fit problem •“Cold-backed” during mounting •Slow to warm up or relax •Rushing downhill or pulling uphill with the front end, unable to use the back or hindquarters properly •Inability to travel straight •Unwilling or unable to round the back and/or neck •Swishing the tail, pinning the ears, grinding the teeth, or tossing the head •Starts ride doing well, gets more resistant later


Bottoms up! Seat size is important

Some riders make the common mistake of buying a saddle with a seat size that is too small. This forces the rider to sit at the back of the saddle. Even if the saddle fits well, this position puts excessive pressure on the horse’s back.


How does your seat sit?

On many western saddles, the ground seat (the area where you sit) is too wide for the rider’s legs to drop comfortably down to the side. This pushes the thighs out so the knees cannot lie against the horse’s side. In turn, this rolls the pelvis back and prevents the correct use of the lower leg, forcing riders to brace with their legs out in front of them.


Sure-footed placement

Stirrup placement plays another critical role to the comfort and balance of the rider. Often, stirrups are placed too far forward which causes the rider’s legs to drift ahead, leaving them in a chair-seat position. If your ankles or knees hurt during a ride, check your stirrup placement. Correct saddle fit can make all the difference between an enjoyable ride and one that is miserable. Be pro-active to ensure a proper fit and save your equine partner the pain and frustration of an ill-fitting saddle. You’ll both be happier.

Joyce Harman, DVM, MRCVS, graduated in 1984 from Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. She is certified in veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic and has completed advanced training in homeopathy and herbal medicine. Her practice in Virginia uses 100% holistic medicine. Her publications include The Horse’s Pain-Free Back and Saddle Fit Book for English and The Western Saddle Book. www.harmanyequine.com


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Wellness Resource Guide Inside this issue: • Barefoot Hoof Trimming • Communicators • Holistic Healthcare • Integrative Vets • Natural Product Manufacturers & Distributors

• Natural Product Retailers • Schools & Training • Shelters & Rescues • TTouch Practitioners

View the Wellness Resource Guide online at: www.equinewellnessmagazine.com Barefoot Hoof Trimming ARIZONA

JT’s Natural Hoof Care AANHCP Certified Practitioner & Instructor Scottsdale, AZ USA Phone: (480) 560-9413 Email: jonatom3h@yahoo.com


Hoof Help Tracy Browne, AANHCP, PT Greenwood , CA USA Phone: (530) 885-5847 Email: tracy@hoofhelp.com Website: www.hoofhelp.com


Back To Basics Natural Hoof Care Services Carolyn Myre AANHCP Hoof Care Practitioner Ottawa, ON Canada Phone: (613) 262-9474 Email: carolyn@b2bhoofcare.com Website: www.b2bhoofcare.com Natural Barefoot Trimming, Easycare Natural Hoof Advisor, Natural Horse Care Services


Serving southern CA


Frank Tobias AANHCP Practitioner Palm Beach Gardens, FL USA Phone: (561) 876-2929 Email: info@barefoothoof.com Website: www.barefoothoof.com


Natural Hoof Care Lisa Dawe, AANHCP Practitioner Pamlico County, NC USA Phone: (508) 776-6259 Email: Lisa@ibarefoothorses.com Website: www.ibarefoothorses.com Specializing in pathologic hoof rehab


Luke & Merrilea Tanner Milford, NH USA Phone: (603) 502-5207


Natural Trim Hoof Care Hopatcong, NJ USA Phone: (973) 876-4475 Email: info@naturaltrimhoofcare.com Website: www.naturaltrimhoofcare.com

Kathleen Berard San Antonio, TX USA Phone: (210) 402-1220 Email: kat@katberard.com Website: www.katberard.com Bach Flower Essences, Wild Earth Animal Essences, Holistic Animal Care Consultant

Holistic Healthcare ARIZONA

Spirit Healer Carla Meeske Person Glendale, AZ USA Phone: (541) 517-1950 Email: carla@spirithealer.com Website: www.spirithealer.com

Serving Sacramento and the Gold Country

Dr. Sugarshooz Farrier Services & Natural Hoof Care Sunland, CA USA Phone: (818) 951-0235


Wellness Resource Guide


G & G Farrier Service London, TX USA Phone: (325) 265-4250 27 years exp. as Farrier and I promote Natural hoof care. I am a feild instructor and clinician for AANHCP in Texas


Animal Energy Lynn McKenzie Sidney, BC Canada Phone: (250) 656-4390 Email: lynn@animalenergy.com Website: www.animalenergy.com

Terri’s Gentle Touch Therapies Scottsdale , AZ USA Phone: (480) 495-3312 Cranial Sacral, Reiki, Flower Essences, Essential Oils, Moxibustion, cellular re-pattering

Grand Adventures Ranch Sonoita, AZ USA Toll Free: (800) 797-8274 Phone: (520) 455-0202 Email: kay@grandadventuresranch.com Website: www.grandadventuresranch.com



Mysticviz Lydia Hiby Acton, CA USA Phone: (661) 269-4647 Email: mysticviz@aol.com Website: www.lydiahiby.com Celestial Crystals Inc. Patrice Ryan Glendale, CA USA Phone: (818) 241-2624 Email: patrice@celestialcrystals.com Website: www.celestialcrystals.com


Serving NJ, central to eastern PA, and lower NY state

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Wellness Resource Guide

Holistic Healthcare - Natural Product Manufacturers & Distributors

Integrative Vets ARKANSAS



Harmany Equine Clinic, Ltd. Dr. Joyce Harman Flint Hill, VA USA Toll Free: (800) 350-3023 Phone: (540) 229-1855 Email: info@harmanyequine.com Website: www.harmanyequine.com


Holistic Animal Care Stephanie Chalmers, DVM, CVH Santa Rosa, CA USA Phone: (707) 538-4643 Homeopathy and nutrition for dogs, cats & horses. Phone consultations available.

Cache Creek Holistic Veterinary Service Bert Brooks, DVM BA A Woodland, CA USA Phone: (530) 666-7322 Email: holisticvet@direcway.com Website: www.cchvs.com



Animal Herbery Greenwich, CT USA Phone: (203) 302-1991 Email: info@animalherbery.com Website: www.animalherbery.com


Hoof Paw & Claw Reiki Aileen D’Angelo, RMT, Cn. TPM Northborough, MA USA Phone: (508) 852-0364 Email: info@reikiforcritters.com Website: www.reikiforcritters.com


Natural Holistic Health Care Larry Bernstein, VMD, PCHom. Miami Beach, FL USA Phone: (305) 652-5372 Website: www.naturalholistic.com


Family Veterinary Center Haydenville, MA USA Phone: (413) 268-VETS (8387) Email: info@famvets.com Website: www.famvets.com


Animal Health Centre Paul Johnson, DVM Middletown, NY USA Phone: (845) 343-9888

Natural Products -



Equine Essence Inc. Apex, NC USA Phone: (919) 362-5487 Email: anne@equine-essence.com

Life Data Labs Inc. Cherokee, AL USA Phone: (256) 370-7555 Website: www.lifedatalabs.com


Equine massage. Experiential self-growth workshops. Regional Advisor for GaWaNi PonyBoy.


Manufacturers & Distributors


Winnies Organics Benicia, CA USA Phone: (707) 748-0341 Website: www.winnies.net

Dr. Marcia DuBois Well Being Center for Animals Houston, TX USA Phone: (713) 692-5148 Email: drmarcia@wellbeingpets.com Website: www.wellbeingpets.com

Solana Gold Organics Sebastopol, CA USA Toll Free: 800-459-1121 Phone: (707) 829-6028 Website: www.solanagold.com

IVAS Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist


Organic Apple Juice, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Applesauce

Frog Works, Inc. Littleton, CO USA Toll Free: (877) 973-8848 Phone: (303) 973-8848 Website: www.ffrogworks.com


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Natural Product Manufacturers & Distributors - TTouch Practitioners

The Wholistic Pet Merrimack, NH USA Toll Free: (888) 452-7263 Phone: (603) 471-1469 Email: info@thewholisticpet.com Website: www.thewholisticpet.com


SOURCE, Inc. N. Branford, CT USA Toll Free: (800) 232-2365 Phone: (203) 488-6288 Email: info@4source.com Website: www.4source.com


Amy’s Place Inc. Albuquereque, NM USA Toll Free: (800) 667-8427 Email: petchef@AmysPlaceInc.com Website: www.amysplaceinc.com


Nickers International, Ltd. Staten Island, NY USA Toll Free: (800) 642-5377 Phone: (718) 448-6283 Email: orders-info@nickint.com Website: www.nickint.com


McIntosh Pro Line Wheatley, ON Canada Toll Free: (877) 825-7325 Phone: (519) 825-9229 Email: sales@mcintoshproline.com Website: www.mcintoshproline.com


Equinatural Blue Ridge, TX USA Phone: (972) 752-5598 Email: equinatural@equinatural.com Website: www.equinatural.com

Schools & Training COLORADO

Tall Grass Publishing Amy Snow Larkspur, CO USA Toll Free: (888) 841-7211 Phone: (303) 681-3033 Email: acupressure4all@earthlink.net Website: www.animalacupressure.com Equine, Canine & Feline Acupressure Training Programs


Integrated Touch Therapy Circleville, OH USA Toll Free: (800) 251-0007 Phone: (740) 474-6436 Website: www.integratedtouchtherapy.com



The Holistic Horse Ashdown, AR USA Toll Free: (877) 774-0594 Phone: (870) 836-3641 Email: info@theholistichorse.com Website: www.theholistichorse.com



Nature’s Perfect Oil Galena, MO USA Phone: (417) 538-9077 Email: sales@naturesperfectoil.com Website: www.naturesperfectoil.com


Tina Hutton Auburn, CA United States Phone: (530) 745-9582 Email: tina@tinahutton.com Website: www.tinahutton.com


Dancing Hearts Kathy Kawalec Manhattan, IL USA Phone: (815) 478-9896 Email: Kathy@DancingHearts.org Website: www.dancinghearts.org


Sally Morgan Northampton, MA USA Phone: (413) 586-5058 Email: sallymorgan69@msn.com


The Cranio Connection Tracy Vroom Manalapan, NJ USA Phone: (917) 913-1676 Email: info@cranioconnection.com Website: www.cranioconnection.com


Tellington TTouch Training Santa Fe, NM USA Toll Free: (866) 4-TTouch Phone: (250) 545-2336 Email: info@TTouch.com Website: www.ttouch.com


Natural Product Retailers If Your Horse Could Talk Apache Junction, AZ USA Phone: (480) 671-4896 Email: lisa@naturalhorsetalk.com Website: www.naturalhorsetalk.com

TTouch Practitioners

Wellness Resource Guide



Equissage Round Hill , VA USA Toll Free: (800) 843-0224 Phone: (540) 338-1917 Email: info@equissage.com Website: www.equissage.com

Shelters & Rescues ARIZONA

Cascade Animal Connection Kathy Cascade Stillwater , OK USA Phone: (405) 624-1477 Email: kathy@spiritdog.com Website: www.spiritdog.com


Marion Shearer Stouffville, ON Canada Phone: (416) 491-6673 Email: marion@tteamworks.com Website: www.tteamworks.com


HAHSOFAZ Inc. Surprise, AZ USA Phone: (623) 546-9284 Email: hahsofazcv@yahoo.com

Sandy Rakowitz Charlottesville, VA USA Phone: (434) 973-8864 Email: sandy@onehearthealingcenter.com Website: www.onehearthealingcenter.com



Hope for Horses Equine Rescue, Inc. Blue Ridge, TX USA Phone: (972) 734-6218 Email: info@hopeforhorses.com


Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue, Inc. Hardy, VA USA Phone: (540) 797-1999 Email: info@rvhr.com Website: www.rvhr.com

Julie Jene Otis Orchard, WA USA Phone: (509) 924-9739 Email: julie@horseandpeopletraining.com Website: www.horseandpeopletraining.com Promote your business in the Wellness Resource Guide 1-866-764-1212

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Say what? 5 must-have tools for clear communication

by Karen Scholl

The art of communication is the language of leadership – James Humes


Do you remember getting two tin cans, a length of string and a couple of buttons from Mom’s sewing drawer to make a very primitive (but way cool) telephone? Today kids are using text messaging and fiber optic technology which is much faster and clearer than the tin-can device. Unfortunately, many tools still commonly used with horses pretty much date back to the same era as the tin can telephones. They are designed to lead a horse from point A to point B, and then tie to point B, or to control the horse with pain to make him submit. We may use antiquated tools and yet tend to blame the horse when they don’t do what we ask. Instead, consider the possibility that it’s difficult for them to understand with tools that are heavy, uncomfortable, have no release and are not designed for the subtle communication horses are capable of perceiving. With such inappropriate tools, many horses learn to just tune us out and keep trying to do what they want to do rather than what we want them to do. And why shouldn’t they? Dragging us over to that little patch of grass has very little consequence with a wide web or leather halter and short six foot rope.

Photo: Kenny Williams – If Your Horse Could Talk.

The good news is that you can minimize most of this confusion and frustration by using tools designed for communication with a horse.


Comfort is a priority for horses Horses are highly motivated by comfort so if we think of equipment in those terms, it’s obvious that material and design play important parts. Think pressure and release – a common natural horsemanship principle. The same concept applies when communicating with horses. The instant the horse moves away from the discomfort (pressure), he moves back into the ‘comfort bubble’ and learns that this is where he wants to be. The design and material of equipment needs to be soft enough to be comfortable when the horse is doing the right thing, firm enough to cause discomfort when doing the incorrect thing and able to easily transmit your cues. equine wellness


Thin is in; hand-tied rope halters We know comfort encourages horses, so if we can think of the inside of the halter acting as a ‘bubble of comfort’ in which the horse learns to stay inside, everything will change. Of course, the edge of this bubble needs to give the horse enough reason to want to stay inside of it. That’s why a thin rope halter makes such a big difference. The thin design gives us more of an advantage as it is less inviting for the horse to lean into, but is not cruel or designed to use pain as a motivator. This is similar to me asking you to lean against the palm of my hand with your shoulder… you could lean all day, couldn’t you? Now lean against my fingertip. Ouch! It didn’t hurt, but you wouldn’t lean on it very long, would you? That’s the comfort motivation behind a rope halter made from yachting braid material that also resists water and salt (sweat).


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Now we come to the lead rope. Far too many people use a six-foot cotton rope which not only hinders your ability to communicate, but also limits the ground work you can safely play with your horse. By making a simple change to a longer line made from the proper material, a whole new world of communication will open up. For material, I prefer a 1⁄2 yachting braid material that will transmit a very subtle signal to the horse with clarity similar to fiber optics! People are always shocked when they can feel the very slightest movement in one of these ropes compared to their old cotton lead. II

Another factor is the length of rope. I recommend at least a 12-foot line, which seems like way too much rope to handle, but if you fold it once in half, it becomes

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a six-foot lead again. The advantage is that you have more options for safety when the horse spooks, rears, jumps, etc. I’ve been glad many times to have a horse farther away when he ran into a problem!

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This length of line gives you a lot of versatility too. Horses always welcome leadership games, and 12-foot is a good length to begin playing these games. As skills advance, I recommend moving to a 22-foot length line to expand your communication and challenges. You’ll find the longer distance will help you gain even more respect, have more fun and prepare for liberty work.


A 10-foot arm, instantly I also use a communication tool I call the ‘equalizer.’ It’s my pet name for a training stick which instantly makes us as big and fast as another horse.

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Get a bigger bit… of knowledge! I make the transition to riding with a soft rope hackamore. The communication I’ve established ‘playing on the ground’ transfers directly to the saddle as the feel of material is already familiar to the horse. This rope hackamore is essentially a rope halter with a 1/2 inch thick lead line tied with a special knot to form reins and a 10-foot lead rope.

As the horse gains more confidence and trust, I transition to a loose-ring, An “equalizer” with string instantly extends your reach. Photo: Horsemanship for Women

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I keep a string in my back pocket at all times and use it for a variety of needs from catching a loose horse, tying a gate open in the wind, driving rude horses away at feeding time, and the list goes on.

Another benefit is that if/when a horse becomes confused and runs into pressure, I’m not inside their mouth with a piece of metal, which can contribute to a defensive response to pain. I actually get more done at these early stages of teaching because I can be clearer to the horse without them getting worried about a bit.


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extends my reach to 10 feet, allowing me to communicate with a horse from a safe distance without needing to move towards the horse.

Believe me, horses know that we’re smaller and slower. They have the physical advantage and use it every chance they get. . . not because they’re being naughty, but because they’re designed by nature to play leadership games with their herdmates. Guess what? You’re their herdmate! Please note that this stick is not a whip, only an extension of your arm which can give comfort in the form of a scratch on the withers or discomfort, which might be a tap on the rump. A thin six-foot string at the end of the ‘equalizer’ plays an important role as well. When attached to the stick, it

Bridle with loose-ring snaffle and weighted reins.

sweet iron snaffle. The loose ring allows for the bit to remain steady as the ring turns with the lift of the reins. D-rings and other fixed-ring snaffles will cause the bit to turn inside the mouth, adding unnecessary information that can cause confusion to a horse.

A broken mouthpiece snaffle bit is one of the cruelest bits when used improperly. Snaffle bits are designed for lateral flexion, using one rein at a time. When both reins are pulled on, either from fear or lack of confidence from the rider, the horse experiences one of the sharpest, longest points inside their tender mouth. Because we don’t understand these dynamics, nosebands and tie-downs or martingales have become standard appointments, even in the show ring.


Weight = quick release The value of weighted reins is well known, but not always understood. Horses are motivated by comfort, so it’s important to release pressure quickly. A weighted rein (heavy yachting rope reins and rein leathers) tells the horse something is about to change while the reins are being lifted… even before pressure is felt on the mouth. This gives the horse the opportunity to respond to just the shift of the weight on the rein, offering lightness to the hands of the rider.

Refined communication –The finished bridle horse Training your horse is a lot like going to school; when you obtain a certain level of knowledge, you progress to the next grade. As this level of understanding increases, the tools also change. When my horse progresses to this stage, I advance him into more engaged, collected maneuvers, transitioning to a wide, rawhide bosal, and eventually adding a shank bit and smaller diameter bosalito. You can tell a properly finished’ bridle horse when there is only a signal bit with shank and weighted reins designed for a very high level of communication between horse and rider. Please know that it takes from four to eight years to properly finish a bridle horse. Demanding vertical flexion with a shank bit before the horse is mentally and emotionally prepared causes a horse to lose trust in the rider. And we all know that once we’ve lost trust in someone it’s extremely difficult to get it back.

Rebuilding trust-horses are very forgiving If you realize that some of the trust issues you have with your horse may be from using the wrong tools, don’t worry. Horses can tell when we’ve gained more insights into their world and are making


It’s common to get frustrated using new tools. Remember playing tennis or snow skiing for the first time? But hang in there because the rewards are great. The key is practicing without your horse first; spouses or friends make great “practice horses”. adjustments to further improve our communication with them. I am a firm believer that horses appreciate our efforts and are extremely patient and forgiving as we progress in our journey of horsemanship. There’s a saying that you can tell a horseman from the tools they use and won’t use. After over 18 years of using tools designed for communication, I can assure you your horse will feel the difference and appreciate your effort to be clearer in your request. Why put yourself at a disadvantage when a simple change in tools may make all the difference? Enjoy the journey! Karen Scholl is a horse behaviorist and clinician, traveling across the country teaching Karen Scholl Horsemanship for Women. Get more details about Karen’s tools on her web site, www.karenscholl.com.

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Photos: Elizabeth V. Williams


Hearts & Hooves, Inc., big things come in small packages

by Genevieve Berardino


Using animals as therapeutic conduits for people in need has become a labor of love for Veronique Matthews, a cancer survivor in Austin, Texas. Veronique learned firsthand about the healing power of animals six years ago when she was sidelined by breast cancer. At her darkest hour, when things seemed very bleak, a 22-inch buckskin dwarf miniature horse named Toby entered her life and things immediately changed for the better. Toby’s diminutive size allowed him to lay in bed with Veronique during the tough


equine wellness

chronic pain episodes. Her excruciating recovery was no longer such an intolerable

burden and she began to look forward to what the next day might bring. Toby spent hours in the house every day with Veronique, and seemed to instinctively know when his soothing presence was needed and when he could be more playful. Veronique realized the powerful effect Toby had on her life, and knew she must share this wonderful gift with others. Soon after getting back on her

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Volunteers play a crucial role at Hearts & Hooves, Inc. Working with the horses is a constant learning experience for them; once the horses know that they are being understood, they allow their handlers to see and comprehend more and more about their view of the world and the messages they have. Some volunteers are so taken with the minis that they acquire their own. Under Hearts & Hooves, Inc., tutelage they become part of the healing team and work within the organization to promote healing within their community. In addition to the main organization in Austin, there are now ‘Saddlelite’ organizations throughout North America and Canada. Each new Saddlelite starts with an intensive nine days of training at the Austin Hearts & Hooves ranch before they return to their own communities to begin or continue their work.

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Mastercard gives a warm hearted kiss to a volunteer’s granddaughter during a visit to the ranch. “We touch so many more lives thanks to our dedicated volunteers,” says a grateful Veronique.

feet, she founded Hearts & Hooves Inc., a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to giving people the opportunity to heal themselves in the same way that she had been healed. With Toby as her guide, Veronique began working with doctors, therapists and educators to facilitate their healing efforts. The results were phenomenal. As the word spread, people in the mini horse community started donating little four-legged therapists, and her herd of pint-sized angels grew. Using an old mini van for transport, Veronique and Toby took the herd of little healers anywhere they could make a difference – to hospitals, nursing homes, Alzheimer units, state hospitals, schools for the blind and deaf, neuro rehabilitation centers, schools for persons with disabilities, and women’s abuse centers.

Their way of helping Working one on one with individuals, the miniature horses instinctively understand the issues that each person is battling with. “The insight of the horses is an amazing thing to see,” says Veronique, who believes that it is this intuitive nature that suits these animals so well to their therapy work. “After getting over the initial shock of having a horse in their room, people seem to relax and open up to the possibilities that these little angels present. We are often able to get more work done with the horses than in multiple sessions of conventional therapy.” Veronique believes the minis’ success stems from the quiet way the horses help people process their emotions. In nursing homes and state hospitals, the minis provide a willing ear, a much needed outlet for love, and on some occasions, a source of “horse power” during hallway wheel chair races. On visits to rehabilitation units, they encourage patients to push themselves to move and reach beyond their current physical limitations. For the bedridden, the smaller

A resident of the Heather Wilde Nursing Center enjoys some attention from Calvin.

horses are actually lifted into the bed so patients can cuddle and talk to the horse within their comfort zone. The minis also have a great track record helping children. Acting as communication channels for therapists, they work with kids who have disabilities and troubles, forcing them to look at their issues in a new way. During this process, the children learn a new sense of self-control, respect for others, and appropriate

Mini Me and Mastercard visit with a friend at the Middle School Life Skills Center. This individual had a phobia about touching things but by the second visit, he was walking the duo.

falling over. Our mini Music Man stayed with this boy and nuzzled his cheek, which made the boy smile. This fiveyear-old boy just kept moving his head so he could look into Music Man’s eyes.”

Volunteers only, please

Scooter makes his rounds at the Heather Wilde Nursing Center.

a short nap, they load up into a mini van and start their day helping others. While Veronique considers all of her herd incredible, she admits there are a few little angels who really stand out. First, of course, is Toby, the little buckskin dwarf that saved Veronique and became

Every work day, Veronique advises her herd of healers where they will be

Veronique realized the powerful effect Toby had on her life, and knew she must share this wonderful gift with others. behavioral boundaries. For children with mental and physical disabilities who have faced a life of being different, working with the little horses, who are also unique, is a way to connect and heal some of their own internal scars. Veronique recalls one such visit to a little boy at the Rosedale School for the Seriously Handicapped and Disabled. “This child couldn’t walk or talk or move his hands much on his own. He couldn’t even hold his head up without it

going and asks for volunteers, prompting some horses to step forward to start their day. Although there are 24 minis in the herd, ranging from 22 inches up to 31 inches, each has a choice whether they want to be included or stay home. After baths, breakfast and equine wellness


During 2006, Hearts and Hooves, Inc., will make over 200 visits to hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, and childrens’ facilities in the Austin area, touching nearly 1500 residents. The organization will also conduct 84 Youth at Risk sessions and 36 Life Skills sessions with eight students in each session. In conducting these programs, the minis will travel in excess of 30,000 miles and consume over 300 bales of hay.

Equinology INC


Established in 1994

An education company, internationally recognized for its quality, foundation and continuing education courses in the equine, canine health care and science fields.

the catalyst for Hearts and Hooves. With an oversized head and crooked legs, he was adored by all. Toby passed over November of 2005 and was given a hero’s farewell by all he had touched. Then there’s Joey Ramone, the tallest horse at 31 inches, who has proven to be the most sensitive to disabled children. He was also the first to pull wheelchairs with delighted, squealing riders throughout the halls. Finally, the list wouldn’t be complete without Petey, who had a very rough start in life. Although he has crooked legs due to growth plate abnormalities, he is the fastest runner in the bunch. His calling is working with the elderly and he has recently learned to recognize children with bullying tendencies, often giving them a taste of their own medicine.

Dreams become reality Six years after the inception of Hearts & Hooves, Veronique finds herself and her herd constantly busy. Requests for visits have increased, as have the number of willing volunteers. The minis’ expertise is in endless demand not only around the Austin area, but throughout the U.S. and Canada as well. Veronique never imagined how positive a response her volunteers and their tiny cavalry would receive. She’s grateful for the opportunity to bring the minis’ talents to humans. “I’m always astonished and humbled by just how much animals know about us,” says Veronique “This is just an amazing thing to experience.” We train individuals to professional standards through a classroom and hands on practical approach using a variety of modalities. We use techniques and therapies including sports massage, myofascial release, craniosacral, and so much more! We have four equine progressive certification levels and offer over 30 courses in modular format by leading specialists and veterinarians in their respective fields. Courses are held in several USA locations (California and Virginia). Internationally they are presented in the UK, Australia (NSW, QLD and WA), New Zealand, Brazil, South Africa and Canada (Alberta and Ontario).

Please visit our website or give us a call, for detailed information on our courses and locations.

( 707 ) 884-9963

PO Box 1192, Gualala, CA 95445 Equinology’s courses are approved and recognized by NCBTMB, the International Equine Body Workers Association (www.iebwa.com), United States Dressage Federation University, UK’s McTimoney Chiropractic Association and the Society of Osteopaths in Animal Practice.


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If you are interested in learning more about Hearts & Hooves, or becoming a part of the mission by making a donation, visit their website at www.heartsandhooves.org.

Genevieve Berardino grew up in Texas and is a graduate of University of Texas. She has traveled extensively throughout France, Spain, Greece and other European countries and offers a virtual travel experience through her photography and blog.

Heads up!

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Girls just wanna have fun In tune with the Blues

Following on the success of its SmartPink™ line, Smartpak recently launched SmartBlue™ products. Like the SmartPink line, net proceeds from every SmartBlue product sale will be donated to charity; in this case, to equine aid organizations that promote the well being of horses through rescue, rehabilitation, retirement and equine health research. SmartBlue products include saddle pads, halters, equipment bags, a complete line of all-weather horse clothing and more. All are made from durable Textiline® Ripstop or nylon in a fashionable blue plaid design. www.SmartPakEquine.com

Quench those free-radicals

Excessive free radicals can cause inflammatory stress, which can affect normal metabolic processes. Blood sugar disruption, insulin resistance, Cushing’s syndrome, saddle soreness, joint and hoof issues and muscle aches and pains can all be affected by and contribute to excess inflammation. Phyto-Quench, a plant-based broad spectrum formula, can help minimize the problems. The nutritional formula,which contains bio-active ingredients including vitamins, probiotics, enzymes and amino acids, acts as an antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory to help improve detoxification, support proper immune function and improve recovery. www.uckele.com

For more than 30 years, Lynn Palm has championed the partnership of horse and rider. Now, to celebrate women’s accomplishments in the field and their equestrian dreams, she’s developed “Women LUV Horses”, a two-day event to be held next Spring in Concord, North Carolina. The event will recognize women’s dominant role in the horse industry, where they drive everything from horse and product purchases, to show attendance. It will also help women learn tips on how to balance their busy lives. Star clinicians and famous guest speakers will include women role models such as Martha Josey, Jane Savoie, and Cynthia Cantleberry. www.lynnpalm.com

Quality control

If you’re looking for quality products, you may not need to look any further than an NASC Quality Seal label. The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), formed in 2001 when government stepped in to try to regulate the animal supplement industry. Designed to help improve and standardize the industry, the NASC Seal lets consumers know when they’re buying a product from a reputable manufacturer that has successfully qualified for the program. Criteria for qualification includes having a Quality Manual in place that provides standard operating procedures for production process control, establishing an “Adverse Event Reporting/ Complaint System” so products can be monitored, and following proper label guidelines. www.nasc.com

All systems go

Minerals are essential to life. They allow vitamins, enzymes and other nutrients to function effectively. Daily 72® offers – you guessed it – 72 minerals in its formula to aid deficiencies and help maintain your horse’s reproductive, circulatory, musculoskeletal, immune, endocrine and digestive systems. Specifically, minerals help promote healthy coats, hooves, and bone growth, increase muscle tone and endurance, boost circulation, and aid the immune response process. Appropriate for all ages and stages of life. www.daily72.com equine wellness


Photos: Spencer LaFlure

TOOTH OR CONSEQUENCES Why a balanced mouth means a balanced body by Spencer LaFlure


As wild horses roamed their domain, the excess growth on their hooves wore away naturally, leading to a balanced foot. This natural wear through lifestyle and environment is also true of the equine mouth, where balance is just as important to overall health.


equine wellness

Start up front

Getting aligned

In its natural state, a horse would graze 14 to 18 hours a day on grasses containing silicas that wore or abraded the teeth in such a manner that the front teeth wore as they erupted.

Many of today’s equine dentists apply centric, or centered, alignment to the mouth. That is, they apply a static “leveling” standard to every equine mouth they treat. The focus

AFTER Whole mouth dentistry – 3-point contact (T.M.J., molars, incisors)

BEFORE Whole mouth dentistry – no 3-point contact Worn










deciduous premolars


These front teeth, or incisors, are the keys to balance in the mouth. Their length and angle in a wild horse are similar to those in a domestic horse at around age five, and should remain that way through the life of the horse. Beyond the age of five, however, the front teeth of domestic horses begin to exceed the appropriate length and angle. This is when you start getting abnormal rotation of the TMJ (temporal mandibular joint), where the jaw hinges to the skull. The rotation of this joint dictates the wear pattern of the molars. The point of natural equine dentistry is to treat the cause of this problem, not the symptoms, by first maintaining the natural length and angle of the incisors. Further balancing of the molars cannot be accomplished without proper balance in the front of the mouth. Equine dentists use an instrument called a speculum to help the horse keep his mouth open during treatment. It looks very much like a headstall, with the exception of an adjustable mouthpiece that sits just inside the horse’s mouth with two metal plates for the upper and lower front teeth to rest on. These plates are level in themselves, so as the horse opens his mouth, any imbalance in the incisors will then be shifted to the molars. This makes it appear as though the deviation in the horse’s mouth originates there, because the TMJ has approximately 1⁄4II of “play” in it. This is why it is so critical to start with the incisors. The angle of the TMJ is exactly opposite to that of the molar table (contacting surfaces of the upper and lower teeth). All of these factors, taken into consideration, are what amount to anatomical balance, according to the individual horse.

T.M.J. (temporal mandibular joint

WOLF TOOTH absent canine

rear bit seat INCISORS permanent deciduous or bit seat baby premolars molars


currently common among dentists is occlusion. This simply means the meeting, or flush contact, of upper and lower

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Did you know? by Dr. Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS


Depending on where you live, you’re more likely to bathe and hose off your horse in summer and early fall. It is possible to keep your horse cool without damaging the hooves through this wet-dry cycle. Horse’s hooves, as well as human skin, have a layer of dermal tissue that contain compounds called phospholipids. These compounds have a segment that repels water and a segment that attracts water. These compounds also allow the penetration of oxygen. Therefore, the use of a product that contains phospholipids to allow the hoof to repel water in wet conditions and conserve water in dry conditions is recommended. Most importantly, do not use products on your horse’s hooves you would not use on your own hands. That includes products that prevent oxygen from passing through the hoof wall. When oxygen is ‘sealed out’ from a non-sterile area it creates a perfect environment for hoof destroying anaerobic micro-organisms. Avoid caustic materials such as formalin (formaldehyde), iodine crystals, copper sulfate and solvents such as acetone and turpentine. You should also avoid greasy products that block oxygen.

Dr. Frank Gravlee

tooth-on-tooth surfaces. However, because of the adaptable nature of equine tooth eruption, occlusion is present in all horses even before dentistry is applied. Horses already have centric occlusion present in their mouths when they show up at the dentist. It should then be up to the dentist to anatomically align the mouth, so that it fits the individual to its optimal range. The focus should actually be on re-establishing proper biomechanics in the horse’s jaw. The motion of the jaw is 50% of the total mechanics. The tongue rotates in the opposite direction to the jaw. The combined efforts of the two are what move the food bolus from the front of the mouth to the back. If the length and angle of the incisors vary from what nature intended, it causes the jaw to rotate in a more vertical motion – up and down, rather than side to side. How do we check the biomechanics of the jaw? Rather than pushing the closed jaw from one side to the other, which most people are familiar with, you can properly check the horse by cueing it to contract its own massitors (muscles that control the jaw). This demonstrates the true biomechanical range of the jaw. (Consider this: if pushing the closed jaw worked, human dentists would use this method rather than the traditional carbon paper and “bite” technique to check the surface-to-surface contact of our teeth.) An equine dentist cues the horse by inserting his fingers into the side of the mouth, initiating a chewing motion reflex response. Numerous human dentists have told me that all animals maintain a state of disclusion, or non-contact of teeth, while at rest or engaged in activities other than eating. If the teeth were in contact while moving, their surfaces would be damaged. So occlusion, or mastication of food, is only accomplished when the individual contracts his massitors. Balance is achieved by starting with the equilibration of the incisors. Generally, a primary angle of adjustment is necessary. If there is a great deal of change to be made, it should be done gradually over time, as it is in humans. After all, the problem took a long time to develop; it should take a while to fix. I don’t believe an equine dentist needs power equipment any more than a farrier needs a grinder to balance a foot. As it is, most equine dental tools are not ergonomically designed to fit in the horse’s mouth, let alone help balance it. I’ve spent three years designing hand instruments that ergonomically fit the horse as well as the practitioner. This results in bloodless horse dentistry and less discomfort afterwards.

graduated from

Auburn University School of Medicine

Saying no to a bit seat

and practiced

Another popular method in equine dentistry today is the rolling or rounding of the first molars, called premolars, to produce what is called the bit seat. Over-modification of any mechanical part is generally fine in theory, but falls apart when you put it into practice. The horse is born with his first three molars. They are in contact, although have no real use until the horse is about six to eight months old. In that time, the incisors or front teeth appear. The incisors and premolars are basically all that are present in the mouth until about age two, at which time the plates or sutures of the skull fuse together. By this, nature dictates that these teeth are of primary importance in balancing the head as it develops. When a bit seat is placed on the tooth, it takes away most of the leading molar’s surface-to-surface contact. Removal of this contact from a cornerstone of the mouth creates a lateral (side to side)

veterinary medicine for several years before attending graduate school at

MIT. During a three-year residency

in nutritional pathology he received a masters degree in nutritional biochemistry and intermediary metabolism. In

1973, he founded Life Data Labs to determine equine nutritional deficiencies through laboratory testing, and developed individualized feeding programs to correct the deficiencies he discovered. ten years of research, he launched

Formula. www.lifedatalabs.com


equine wellness

After Farrier’s

instability of the TMJ. Amazingly, this shows up externally in a visual hollowing out of the horse’s flanks! When you don’t put in a bit seat, thus allowing for maximum surface-tosurface contact, there is greater stability of the TMJ and performance is enhanced.

Balanced mouth = balanced body Natural balance in the mouth, and the jaw’s ability to move forward and backward, left and right, up and down, is related to the whole body’s ability to do the same. The jaw’s range of motion dictates the neck’s range of motion, which in turn dictates muscle mass in the rest of the body. I wrote a thesis about three years ago stating that whole horse restoration could be accomplished by whole mouth equilibration. Again, the key starting point is to address the incisors and then proceed from there to balance the mouth in an anatomically correct way to fit the individual horse. For three years, I have actually been trying to disprove my own theory, but as yet, there hasn’t been one instance where it didn’t hold up. The outcome: the least we modify nature, the better it is for both man and beast. Dentistry is a crucial piece of the equation that adds up to the total balance of the horse. There are now many complementary and natural practitioners available to help your horse be the best and healthiest he can. NASCAR has pit crews to help the team achieve ultimate performance – you have a team, too, and a natural equine dentist is a part of it.

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Spencer LaFlure, aka The Tooth Fairy, received his advanced certification in Equine Dental Equilibration from the academy of

Equine Dentistry in Glenns Ferry, Idaho. He practices and lectures extensively throughout the United States and Australia. He and his wife, Judy, own and operate a ranch and educational riding facility in

Thurman, New York. equine wellness


Happy Halloween!

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The Revolution in Horsemanship and What it Means to Mankind


Robert M. Miller, D.V.M. and Rick Lamb

There has been a powerful change in how we treat our horses. We no longer “break” them but instead “gentle” them, so they become our partners. How did this way of thinking come about and who was responsible? These answers and more are included in this fantastic resource for all horse lovers. Organic ts ea horse tr soon! available

Freplees! Sam

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Beginning with equine evolution and domestication, the authors explore the history of this horsemanship revolution, its rational, methodology, and results. Explaining how the horse’s mind works and how they learn, this book covers the early masters such as Xenophon up to the modern day “whisperers” like the Dorrances and Buck Brannaman. Publisher: The Lyons Press

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Dancer on the Grass


Teresa tsimmu Martino

Many of us develop deep bonds with horses but few can articulate the profound life changing experiences our equines foster like Teresa Martino. Based on her eventful life, the author describes how the horses helped her cope with the mysteries of life and death, as well as serving as important guides for her own journey of self-discovery. She takes us through stories from her childhood through her instructing and successful eventing career and we can’t help but find ourselves empathizing and identifying with her struggles and learning curves. While it does jump around a little from a chronological standpoint, Dancer in the Grass is still a page turner that makes you feel you’re sharing the saddle with Teresa as she literally and figuratively gallops through life. Publisher: New Sage Press

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Tip #49 – Posture How do your movements influence your horse? by Anna Twinney Your posture – the way you carry yourself – communicates a message. All the gestures you make individually and together have different meanings. If you want a horse to move forward you would advance forward in an assertive manner towards them with your shoulders square towards theirs and your eyes on their eyes, remaining in the driving zone. If you want a horse to follow you, you would round your shoulder walking in an arc in front of them. Walking at a pace just like a leader, and dropping your eyes to where you want them to come, will engage them. Anna Twinney is an internationally respected Equine Specialist, Natural Horsemanship Clinician, Animal Communicator and Intuitive Healer. She has recently launched the DVD series Reach Out to Natural Horsemanship and conducts clinics in Europe, Australia, Canada & the USA. www.reachouttohorses.com

EVENTS CALENDAR September 4, Noon - 4 pm – Tyngsboro, Massachusetts Casa Lusitana’s third annual Festa Lusitana ‘06 This grand party includes a day of open barn celebrating with Lusitano horses, demonstrations of classical riding and working equitation, in-hand horse presentations and descriptions, live music, food and small vendor faire. We welcome the local and national horse-loving community at no charge. Please come and join us! For more information visit www.casalusitana.com or call 510-851-1536

September 23 & 24 – Marshville, North Carolina Reiki I & II Certification Energetic healing assists movement by working with life force energies. Learn about how Reiki helps with stress, fear, worry, frustration, unchangable habits, and rigid thinking. It works on all levels – emotional, mental, physical, all within the mind, body and soul! For course details contact: Susan Soloman - sbsolo@juno.com

September 16 & 17 – N. California Bay area (Gilroy, 45 minutes south of San Jose) The Horse’s Hoof: Healthy Hoof Clinic Learn all about healthy hooves. Barefoot farrier James Welz & wife Yvonne (editor of The Horse’s Hoof Magazine) will share what they’ve learned over this past decade. This unique clinic is compatible with ALL styles and methods of hoofcare, and will provide information for both the novice and the experienced alike. www.thehorseshoof.com/THHclinics.html Phone: 1-877-594-3365

October 7 & 8 – Green Valley, North Carolina Equine Voices Rescue & Sanctuary Fundraiser Two day Reach Out to Horses® clinic II. Each clinic explores the personal desires and requirements of both horse and handler in order to build a 50/50 partnership which is achieved by “listening” to one another. Confidence is creating harmony through an open mind in order to gain knowledge and understanding of the way the horse perceives the world. Through demonstration, discussion, human to human exercises and hands on work with your horse you will be given the opportunity to create a tool

box of methods and concepts based on trust to successfully solve problems. Contact Karen Pomroy - Karen@equinevoices.org www.equinevoices.org October 14 - 21 – Timberscomve in West Somerset, UK Animal Aromatheraphy The coarse will be taught by Nayana Morga, essential oil therapist and animal communication expert, along with other experts in the field of holistic veterinary medicine, animal training, and essential oils. The course is accredited by GEOTA (The Guild of Essential Oil Therapy for Animals) and costs a very reasonable £1450, including room and board. For more information you can visit www.essentialanimals.com or call Nayana on 01984 623042 or 07979 515812. October 20 & 22 – Michigan Reach Out to Horses ® Three day Reach Out to Horses® clinic. Contact Susan Soloman - sbsolo@juno.com.

Post your event online at: www.equinewellnessmagazine.com/events

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Blind faith by Melanie Bowles


e are always being presented with new and interesting challenges here at the sanctuary. Before I had thoroughly thought out where I would put him, I agreed to take in a six-year-old gelding who has been blind since birth. His previous people didn’t feel they could deal with his disability any longer and wanted to put him down. I wanted to give him a chance. I named him Joe, and after getting him to Proud Spirit I unloaded him from the trailer and then stood in our driveway like a dope holding his lead rope. “Okay, Einstein,” I asked myself out loud as I turned in circle and looked over our property, “Now what?” My instincts with horses have always told me that we get in their way too much. We think we have to protect them from themselves and interfere with the instinctual way they work things out. I try to make decisions regarding their health and well-being based on their natural environment. But the odds would be against a blind horse surviving in the wild, and putting him in our main pasture – 160 acres running 40 plus horses – was out of the question. It would simply be too much for a blind horse trying to stay with the herd. The obvious place would be a small 10-acre pasture

we created for a few of our arthritic older horses. There were three currently there; two elderly geldings, Phoenix and Dually, and one mare named Sophie. I walked Joe back behind the barn and through the gate to the smaller pasture. He was a remarkably calm and happy little guy. When I took his halter off, Phoenix and Dually immediately came over to say hello. Joe could hear their slow approach and eagerly sniffed the air. The introduction between the three geldings was uneventful and the two old guys went off to graze. Sophie hadn’t even looked up yet, typical of her disinterest in other horses. And then something about the little blind horse drew her attention. She lifted her head and nickered as she made her way over. This was interesting, I thought, Sophie approaching another horse. And gently nickering. Joe turned toward the sound. The big bay mare had a reputation for being rather cantankerous. She vehemently defended her “space” and pinned her ears at every horse who came near, and more often than not backed it up with a well placed kick. I was surprised she was even interested in Joe, but would she be kind to him?

They said hello, breathing in each other’s breath. Joe leaned into Sophie and rubbed the side of his face along her neck. Sophie finally gently turned away from Joe, and paused as she looked back to where he stood. It was almost like she was waiting for him to orient himself and follow her, which he did, keeping his nose close to her haunch as they strolled off to graze. It’s been about four months since Joe arrived. He has gained confidence and cavorts around on his own while Sophie watches over him and continues to allow him in her space. I can’t explain these extraordinary events that happen between our horses; I’m just thankful that I’m witness to it all and allowed to be a part of their lives.

Melanie Bowles is the founder of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary, a 320-acre award-winning facility in Mena, Arkansas, where more than 150 horses have come to live out their lives in peace and

She is also the author of The Horses of Proud Spirit, a profoundly moving book about her experiences, dignity.

available at book stores and through www.amazon.com.

For more info,

visit www.horsesofproudspirit.com

If you have a heartwarming or humorous equine story you’d like to share, send it to submissions@equinewellnessmagazine.com Photo: Melanie Bowles

Joe (forefront) and Sophie grazing peacefully.


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