V4I1 (Jan/Feb 2009)

Page 1

Equine wellness


Open wide!

Your natural resource!


Preserving the


How dental imbalance affects your horse’s health

Read about the crusade to save this wild, rare breed

Fancy footwork Learn when to apply your cues for a smoother ride

On the

Skinny side

Easy ways to pack pounds on your hard keeper

Is TMJ the master link to health?

Natural feet Why a good barefoot trim considers the whole horse

January/February 2009 Display until March 2, 2009

Blanket Blab

The pros, cons and how to do it right

$5.95 USA/Canada



equine wellness

equine wellness

equine wellness

Contents January/February 2009 Photo: Page E. Lee

56 features


14 Blanket statement

Do you blanket or clip your horse? Here’s how to keep him warm, dry and comfy all winter.

18 Make an impression

Done properly, foal imprinting means a confident horse that respects and trusts you.

24 Open wide!

Proper dental care is vital to keeping your horse healthy, balanced and performing at his peak.

29 Preserving the Nokota Find out what’s being done to save this rare and distinctive breed.

equine wellness

34 On the skinny side

Packing a few pounds on your underweight “hard keeper” is easier than you may think.

40 The “master link” Why is your horse out of balance? The answer may lie in his jaw.

56 Have gum elevator, will travel

Distance is no barrier for this equine dentist.

62 Balancing act What you don’t know about yourself could be what’s wrong with your horse.

64 Natural feet 50 Fancy footwork

Looking for a smoother ride? Know where your horse’s feet are, and when to apply your cues.

Hoof angles are important, but a good barefoot trim considers the whole horse.

Look on this icon to visit featured links





10 Neighborhood news

8 Editorial

20 Holistic veterinary advice

46 Equine Wellness

Talking with Dr. Christine King

resource guide

28 Did you know?

61 Heads up!

38 A natural performer

69 Marketplace

Profile of a natural performer

54 From agony to ecstasy 68 Book reviews

72 Classifieds 73 Events calendar

74 Your health


20 equine wellness



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On the cover photograph by:

Dominique Braud

It’s not surprising this striking stallion, photographed by Dominique Braud, looks so proud of himself. He’s a Nokota, one of a rare but unique breed of wild horse native to the grasslands of North Dakota. His name is “9007” – Nokotas are given a number in the order they’re born, and this one was the seventh foal to be born in 1990. He’s also the last fully traditional stallion of his kind to be acquired from Theodore Roosevelt National Park after the Nokotas were rounded up in 2000. To learn more about this special breed, turn to page 29.

equine wellness


Volume 4 Issue 1

Editorial Department Editor-in-Chief: Dana Cox Editor: Kelly Howling Editor: Ann Brightman Senior Graphic Designer: Stephanie Wright Graphic Designer: Leanne Martin Cover Photography: Dominique Braud


Your natural resource!

Columnists & Contributing Writers Valeria Breiten, NMD, RD Wendy Coren Robert Fera Juliet M. Getty Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS Scot Hansen Bob Jeffreys Christine King, DVM Carol Lewis Heather Mack, VMD Dorothy E. Noe Margaret Odgers Sandy Siegrist Erin Zamzow, DVM

Advertising Sales Equine National Sales Manager: Michelle L. Adaway (866) 764-1212 ext. 230 michelle@redstonemediagroup.com Sales Representative: Lesley Nicholson (866) 764-1212 ext. 222 lesley@redstonemediagroup.com Sales Representative: Becky Starr (866) 764-1212 ext. 221 becky@redstonemediagroup.com Classified Advertising classified@equinewellnessmagazine.com To subscribe: Subscription price at time of this issue in the U.S. $15.00 and Canada is $20.00 including taxes for six issues shipped via surface mail. Subscriptions can be processed by: Website: www.equinewellnessmagazine.com Phone: 1-866-764-1212

Administration Publisher: Redstone Media Group Inc. President/C.E.O.: Tim Hockley Office Manager: Lesia Wright Circulation & Communications Manager: Jamie Conroy Operations Director: John Allan IT Manager: Rick McMaster Marketing Assistant: Daniel Gazley Administrative Assistant: Libby Sinden

Submissions: Please send all editorial material, advertising material, photos and correspondence to Equine Wellness Magazine, 107 Hunter St. E., Suite 201, Peterborough, ON, Canada K9H 1G7. 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.

US Mail: Equine Wellness Magazine, PMB 168, 8174 S. Holly St., Centennial, CO 80122 CDN Mail: Equine Wellness Magazine, 107 Hunter St. E., Suite 201. Peterborough, Ontario, Canada K9H 1G7 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 jamie@redstonemediagroup.com. www.equinewellnessmagazine.com

Equine Wellness Magazine (ISSN 1718-5793) is published six times a year by Redstone Media Group Inc. Publications Mail Agreement #40884047. Entire contents copyright© 2009. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, without prior written permission of the publisher. Publication date: January 2009

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

equine wellness

editorial Ringing in a

New year! It’s hard to believe 2009 is here already! We’ve been busy planning out the articles we’d like to see in Equine Wellness this year, and I’m pretty excited. Each issue is going to be packed with fantastic information and emerging therapies, and will continue helping you learn more about caring for your horses in a more natural manner.

wish they could be sedated for routine dentist visits – lucky ponies! Afterwards, the horses receive bodywork on their heads and necks to soothe any sore muscles and make sure everything is where it should be after the rasping and floating. It’s hardly a traumatic experience – if anything, it’s more like a day at the spa.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! Our current issue focuses on a vital area of horse care that is often glazed over – dental health. I have never been one of those people who hates or fears going to the dentist. Then again, I have never (knock on wood) had a cavity, needed wisdom teeth removed, or required braces, so have not had to endure some of the dental horrors that others have.

In this issue, you’ll find some fascinating articles on dentistry for horses. Get some excellent insight into modern techniques and approaches, accompany a traveling equine dentist on his adventures to South America and back, and learn why your horse’s TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is so vital to his health.

So when it comes to my horses, they have always seen “the dentist” on a regular basis. I had our local equine veterinarian work on my first horses’ teeth. Later, a veterinarian who specializes solely in equine dentistry was recommended to me, and she has done my horses to this day. With some elderly and special needs horses in my care, I find her extensive experience and knowledge very helpful. Dentistry day at the barn is treated as no big deal – and essentially, it isn’t. The horses are made to feel very comfortable. I can’t help thinking how many humans

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As we head into mid-winter, you’ll also find articles on whether or not to blanket your horse, and how to put weight on your hard keeper so he’ll be better able to weather the colder months. A happy, healthy New Year to you and your equine partner! Naturally,

Kelly Howling

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Neighborhood news Pickens to the rescue

Is she scared yellow?

Last year, the BLM was planning to euthanize around 2,000 of the 30,000 mustangs in their care because of overcrowding, lack of resources, and a decline in adoptions due to rising horse-keeping costs. Public outcry prompted them to postpone their decision and seek other options. During a recent hearing, a few parties expressed an interest in adopting the horses to save them from euthanasia. One was Madeleine Pickens, husband of billionaire T. Boone Pickens. Madeleine is a long-time horse enthusiast who also assisted in the shutdown of American equine slaughterhouses.

Photo: ©Randy Harris | Dreamstime.com

Pickens intends to adopt the 30,000 wild horses and burros the BLM is currently holding, and is looking for enough land to house them appropriately for the rest of their lives.

Here’s something we bet you didn’t know. Horses can be frightened of certain colors. A study done at Nottingham Trent University in England revealed that yellow, white, black and blue are the hues most likely to spook your horse. The study involved placing mats of different colors on the ground, and having horses walk across them. The colors least likely to cause a fear reaction were green, red, brown and gray. The reason? Perhaps it’s because these hues (with the exception of red) are those a horse would mostly like associate with the ground. Interestingly, when the mats were hung on a wall, the horses didn’t display the same fear response.

A break for boarders?


equine wellness

Photo: ©3desc | Dreamstime.com

If you live in Washington state and board other people’s horses at your farm, you may be in for a pleasant surprise. The state is considering the possibility of giving a tax break to those who board horses on their farms (without breeding them), saying that equines are really more “farm” than “fun” and that there is a growing trend for farmers to raise other people’s animals. To qualify, a farm has to bring in an annual income – for example, $1,500 a year for a property less than five acres. The decision will be made this winter.

The economic crisis is making it tough for many people to offer their horses adequate care.

Desperate measures for desperate times

No one likes the idea of horses being euthanized because their caretakers can no longer afford to keep them, but even this is preferable to animals being sent to slaughter or left to starve in a field. Unfortunately, the economic crisis is making it tougher for many people to offer their horses adequate care. Factor in the rising cost of hay and grain, and the result is more animals abandoned, sent to auction, or turned over to already cash-strapped rescue organizations. Euthanasia and disposal can cost an average of $500, making it difficult for some people to offer their horses a dignified end. Rather than leave these animals to an uncertain future, NorCal Equine Rescue is offering people a way out by sponsoring the first-ever free equine euthanasia clinic. Over the coming months, the organization will take 15 horses at each clinic (they have the funding to take around 60 overall). After the horses are signed over, they will be evaluated. Every attempt will be made to find homes for those considered highly adoptable, and the rest will be humanely euthanized. To help prevent more unwanted foals from flooding an already overcrowded horse market, NorCal is also offering a program to geld colts and stallions for $25 to $125. Visit www.savethehorse.com. equine wellness


Neighborhood news Prestigious award It’s time once again for the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Equine Welfare Award ceremony. This year’s recipient is the widely known Standardbred facility Hanover Shoe Farm. On December 9, the farm was presented with the Lavin Cup (named after former AAEP president A. Gary Lavin, VMD), which is awarded to an organization or individual who has shown exemplary care for their horses under AAEP welfare guidelines. Hanover Shoe Farms started in 1926 as a single barn Standardbred farm, and has now grown to encompass 27 farms in two states. The top breeder in North America, they have produced eight Horses of the Year.

Photo: ©Mschalke | Dreamstime.com

In order to reduce the number of unwanted horses, the farm retires its horses on the property. Around 100 retired horses are currently living there. In total, approximately 1,000 broodmare retirees have lived out their days at the farm, as well as a few stallions, lead ponies and racehorses.

Photo: Mimi Pantelides

An equine vision Time’s marching on! The deadline for entries for the 2009 Equine Industry Vision Award is February 2. This award recognizes individuals or organizations for their leadership and contributions to the equine community. Previous recipients include Sally Swift and David O’Connor. Sally Swift, now aged 95, received the 2008 award for her outstanding impact on the equestrian community. She is the founder of the widely known Centered Riding® method, utilized by all equestrian disciplines. Nomination information is available at www.americanhorsepubs.com. Sally enjoys the festivities at the USDF gala banquet.


equine wellness

Equine art for eco-park An eco-park in Scotland will soon become home to a unique sculptural installment in the form of two enormous horse heads. The impressive steel sculptures are based on mythical water horses called Kelpies, and stand an imposing ten stories high. They’re also functional, and will operate one of the locks at the entrance to the canal link between the Firth of Forth and the Clyde in Glasgow. By slowly rocking back and forth, they’ll push water into the lock and raise boats in the canal. These massive equines will be installed in another year or two and will be the first thing people see when approaching Scotland from the water.

Studying stress

Photo: © Gino Santa Maria | Dreamstime.com

The outbreak of equine influenza in Australia affected much more than the horses that were ill, according to a study from the University of Western Sydney’s School of Medicine. During the outbreak, over 2,700 people with horses and/or involved in the horse industry were surveyed about their reactions. Nearly 35% reported feeling highly stressed, especially younger people and those who depend on the equine industry for their livelihood. Although these results aren’t surprising to anyone who loves horses and/ or works in the industry, the survey is unique in that it’s the first psychological study to be done in the midst of an epidemic.

equine wellness


Blanket statement

Do you blanket or clip your horse? Follow these suggestions to ensure he stays warm, dry and comfortable all winter long. by Sandy Siegrist

now, the sleek coats of summer have faded to the heavy coats our horses wear in winter. My own horses tend to resemble woolly mammoths or yaks this time of year. And then there’s the big pile of bird nest fodder that comes with spring shedding. It’s all a natural part of owning and caring for a horse.

Natural climate control Depending on where you live, horses can start shedding their summer coats and building heavy winter hair as early as August. The decreased daylight and crisper air cause their bodies to prepare for the upcoming season by growing a longer, thicker coat that will keep them warm all winter. A coat change happens in the spring, too, as the days begin to lengthen again. That’s when horses shed their winter coats and lay on the sleekness of summer.


equine wellness

Thinner horses feel the effects of this temperature change more quickly and harshly, and their bodies respond by growing a thicker coat. You’ve probably noticed this in your own barn. The plumper “easy keepers” don’t tend to get as thick a winter coat – they have an extra layer of fat (natural insulation) already built in. This is nature’s way of helping animals adapt to weather changes – it’s a basic survival mechanism. But we often get in the way when it comes to keeping our horses naturally.

Why do people blanket or clip their horses? Horse owners want to protect their horses from chilly or damp weather and feel blankets can best achieve this. On the contrary, leaving Mother Nature in charge is the most effective method. But domesticated horses in boarding

stables or other confinements cannot be left to Mother Nature alone – we’ve already interfered with the process by limiting their movement. Movement increases circulation and improves the horse’s natural ability to stay warm. We also interrupt our horses’ natural way of life by riding or competing year round, asking them to exert themselves in a way they wouldn’t in the wild. If their winter coats are very heavy, they

Some people blanket their horses to try to prevent the longer coat from growing in. This only works to a degree, since decreased winter daylight also contributes to hair growth. may overheat and sweat. We all know how difficult it is to dry a sweaty horse well in cold weather. So if we’re not careful, we end up with a horse that’s actually chilled instead of warm. Many people want to avoid the time spent cooling out and drying their horses in the winter by clipping all or part of their coats. This can prevent a horse from overheating if he’s doing heavy work. Others clip their horses so they can avoid the mess and trouble of shedding season. And many who show their horses clip so they can have a sleek coat earlier in the spring. A horse that has been clipped must be blanketed, since some of his natural ability to keep himself warm has been removed.

How to decide what’s right for your horse The best heat source for your horse is a natural coat, plenty of opportunity

Blanketing and clipping Pros •Blankets provide added warmth if a horse is clipped. •Blankets give extra protection to the underweight, ill, or older horse. •Blankets help protect the horse from the wet of rain and snow. They keep the horse dry and out of the mud, both of which improve his natural ability to warm himself. •Blankets and/or clipping make it easier to keep your horse clean and dry, thereby cutting down on grooming time. •Blankets are available in many weights, fits and levels of waterproofing, making it easy to customize the care of each horse in your barn. •Clipping keeps your horse cooler when he’s doing heavy work during the winter.

Cons •The weight of the blanket can flatten the hair, making the horse cooler, not warmer. The natural loft is what keeps the horse warm – that’s all part of proper insulation. The long coat helps trap body heat against the skin. •You must watch your horses and the weather carefully, and be ready to remove blankets as the weather changes. Putting on or removing blankets several times a day can be time-consuming. •Blankets can increase the risk of skin problems, including fungal infections, rain rot, etc. •Once you start blanketing in a season, you’re committed. You have to complete the season with blankets if you’ve retarded the growth of a full winter coat. •Blankets can cause chafing and rub marks, which are both unsightly and unhealthy. •If you clip your horse, you must use blankets. •Clipping can be time-consuming and expensive. •Some horses have issues with clipper noise and the vibration and heat of the clipper blades. This is a training issue that can easily be overcome, but it requires patience and sometimes additional help with the training. •Blankets can be expensive to purchase and repair. equine wellness


How to keep him warm and dry

for movement, and lots of good quality forage (which fuels his natural furnace and warms him from the inside). But in today’s horse world, this isn’t always practical or possible. So what should you consider as you decide what’s best for your horse?

•The weather conditions in your area – both temperature and precipitation •Your horse’s age •His condition and overall health •How often and hard you ride in the winter

•Provide adequate hay/forage and water. •Provide shelter from wind and wet.

•Where you ride in the winter (enclosed indoor arena versus outdoors) •How much you’ll be showing or competing in the winter and early spring •How much time your horse spends stalled/pastured Photo: ©Steve Estvanik | Dreamstime.com

•Provide plenty of space for natural movement. •Feed good quality vitamin and mineral supplements – free choice minerals are critical to health and hair growth. •Provide probiotics to ensure proper gut function and optimize the effectiveness of your horse’s immune system. •Avoid bathing -- the natural oils in the coat help provide insulation. •If you blanket, be sure to use the best weight and waterproofing for your horse and climate. •Keep blankets dry. Clean and repair them regularly.

•The thickness of your horse’s skin (some Arabs and Thoroughbreds have very thin skin and may need extra help from a blanket) If your horse lives in a more natural manner, you have a better chance of being able to avoid blanketing. Regardless of whether you clip, blanket, or let your horse go “au natural,” you must still provide adequate shelter from wind and rain/snow.

Sandy Siegrist is a lifelong horsewoman who practices natural horsemanship, healing and horse care techniques. She works with clients throughout the U.S. to evaluate their feeding and horsekeeping programs based on their horses’ specific needs. She also does energy work and overall health analyses, often taking in horses for more extensive rehabilitation. Sandy’s approach to horse care is based on natural and alternative therapy techniques

•Remove blankets on sunny days. This gives you a chance to dry and clean the blanket and your horse to fluff his coat, minimizing bacterial and fungus growth. 16

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and incorporates bio-energy testing, cranio-sacral therapy, acupressure, kinetics, herbs and flower essences, among others. Her lectures and articles address nutrition, hoof care, bodywork, worming, vaccinations, and emotional wellbeing, grounded in maintaining a more natural environment and healthcare practices. www.perfectanimalhealth.com

equine wellness


Make an impression Want a confident horse that trusts and respects you? Foal imprinting can get you off on the right foot from day one.


fter eleven months of patience, excitement, planning, concern, and several sleepless nights, your new foal arrives. Now what? The practice of foal imprinting is becoming very common. Simply put, foal imprinting is subjecting a newborn foal to everything he would encounter in life as if it was normal and regular and there was nothing to fear.

by Robert Fera

There are many books on this subject and most go overboard on what you should do. There is a tendency for some to imprint within the first two to three hours of a foal’s birth. I believe foal imprinting is most successful at 12 to 24 hours post birth, after the welfare of both mom and baby are taken care of, and the foal is stronger and more alert. To imprint a foal, you simply introduce yourself to him in a safe, calm, quiet manner. By doing so, you make a positive impression on him so he learns to trust and accept human intervention without fear. A foal is naturally curious. With calm and thoughtful handling, you can turn his curiosity and nervousness into willingness and respect. Remember that a foal’s confidence and respect can be destroyed by rough and thoughtless handling.

The first moments

Photo: ŠLars Christensen | Dreamstime.com


equine wellness

Before you can even think about imprinting you must make sure both mom and baby are looked after health wise. It makes no sense to move on to foal handling if the birth was troublesome, or the health of the mare and/or foal is compromised. Once the foal is on the ground and mom and baby are both resting, we immediately apply iodine to the navel stump and check the foal over to make sure all the parts are where they should be. Remember to do this in a calm and stress-free manner. I then like to rub the foal down with towels and touch him in many places, such as the ears, genitals, legs and hooves. I help the foal become

recumbent, then continually touch him and talk to him softly. I allow the mom to be in on the action as well. She is allowed to touch, smell, lick, and “talk” to the foal. After all, he is hers! Once the foal is recumbent, we bottle feed him colostrum from the mare to make sure he gets IgG’s and energy. We do not leave anything to chance. By bottle feeding the foal you are impressing on him that you are safe and can be trusted to provide. Next, the foal is touched all over and helped to get to his feet. After the post foaling procedures are completed, the mare and foal are allowed quiet bonding time in privacy. This satisfies her maternal instincts without stress. As mentioned earlier, if you create stress you are defeating the purpose of imparting a positive situation on the foal.

Beginning the process By next morning, the foal and mom have bonded and you can continue where you left off. The foal will now have more energy and be stronger, but is still small enough to be restrained confidently by an experienced handler. He will be naturally inquisitive and should be allowed to investigate what you are doing. Move slowly and calmly. I like to start by grooming mom and checking her over in a relaxed manner. This allows the foal to watch me and see that his mother is confident and trusts me. The foal will be more cooperative with his mom nearby.

The best way to avoid problems is to keep your mare calm. If your mare gets nervous, the foal will become frightened.

Next I move on to the foal. There are two possible situations:

1. The foal is resting on the ground. 2. The foal is up, walking around his mother. If the foal is up, gently push him into his mom and place one arm around his chest and another around his hind. This will steady him. If he resists, hold on and do not let go. Once the foal relaxes, bring the hand that was on the hind end forward and start stroking him. If he gets excited at any point, hold him again until he calms down. You can bring in another person to help you while you hold the foal; have them stroke the foal all over using hands, towels, and brushes.

Photo: ©Halina Yakushevich | Dreamstime.com

Ask your helper to pick up the foal’s leg and tap on the hoof while you balance the foal. Make sure the foal is touched everywhere. Have your helper bring in a halter, let the foal investigate it, and once the foal is calm slip it over the nose and on the head. Slip it on and off several times, and leave it at that. Go slowly and back off if the foal gets stressed – once he is calm, try again. If the foal is lying down when you enter the stall, move slowly so as to not provoke him into getting up. While he is on the ground, start touching him everywhere with hands and a towel. Go slow so as not to startle him. It is much the same as if he was standing up. While you are with the foal, try asking someone outside the stall to start making spraying sounds, turn clippers on, start the tractor, or bang buckets. This will get the foal accustomed to the sounds of barn routine. While this is going on, keep rubbing him down.

Final notes Keep imprinting lessons short. You can go back during the day to check the foal and repeat what you have already done. He will learn through calm, confident, stress-free repetition. The goal of imprinting is to prepare him for future training by reducing his stress level and instilling his confidence in you. If you are not doing this then you are going overboard and creating extra work later on. Make working with your foal enjoyable, and your long wait for this exciting bundle of joy will be more than rewarding!

Robert Fera is the manager of Deerpath Breeding and Development and is the Equine Specialist for Grober Nutrition. He has many years of experience managing the reproductive needs of mares and stallions, as well as foaling and foal development.

With his education and experience in animal health, Robert provides professional equine services and works with many veterinarians who both refer to and rely on him for experienced stallion management and foal development.

Robert is also the manager of the Rayne Memorial Colostrum bank. www.deerpathequine.com

equine wellness


Holistic Veterinary advice

Talking with Dr. Christine King

Dr. Christine King is an Australian equine veterinarian with over 20 years of experience and advanced training in equine internal medicine and equine exercise physiology. She takes a wholistic approach to equine health and performance which emphasizes natural strategies for restoring and maintaining health and well being.

Her mobile practice, Anima – Wholistic Health & Rehab Horses, is based in the Seattle area. Dr. King is also the creator of Anima Herbal Solutions. www.animavet.com; email king@animavet.com; phone 425-876-1179. for

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 respond to every question. 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.

Q: Every time my mare gets stressed, regardless of how minor it is, the lymph nodes in her jowl/cheekbone area become enlarged. For the most part it does not seem to bother her, but occasionally they will appear to be sore. She never exhibits a temperature or runny nose, though will sometimes appear tired. Should I be concerned? Is there anything I can do as a preventative measure?

A: I don’t know that concern (worry, anxiety) is called for, but I’d certainly be paying attention. Symptoms, even intermittent ones, are part of the body’s language, and they indicate that something is amiss. I used to expend all kinds of effort trying to influence the immune system in these sorts of cases. I quickly learned that this is an exercise in frustration if the fundamentals of good health aren’t taken care of first. And the cool thing is that when the fundamentals are taken care of,


equine wellness

most problems resolve themselves. (That’s not what the conventional medical paradigm would have us believe, though, which I guess is why it sometimes still surprises and delights me when a patient’s health improves just with some simple dietary changes). As for the fundamentals – what it takes to get and keep a horse healthy – it’s basically the same as what we humans need. On the physical front, it includes a wholesome diet, fresh air, clean water, sunshine, shelter, plenty of physical and mental stimulation (i.e. activity) as well as plenty of rest. On the psychological front, it includes loving social bonds, a sense of safety and belonging, a role we love, the opportunity to express ourselves – in other words, to feel loved and cherished. (And then there are the elements specific to horses as a species, and domesticated horses in particular: hoof care, dental care, internal parasite control, preventing infectious diseases, pasture management, etc.)

The part I’d like to focus on here is the wholesome diet. Horses do best when fed a diet as close as possible to what Nature designed for them. That means a wide variety of living plants that change with the seasons: mostly grasses, a little legume, and a generous sprinkling of many other types of plants.

What I’m really saying is that rather than focusing on medications or supplements that target the immune system, get back to basics. Get the fundamentals right, and your horse will be in a much better position to resolve the underlying problem herself. She’ll probably still retain the tendency to be a highly sensitive person (HSP), to purloin Dr. Elaine Aron’s term, because that’s who she is. And that’s perfectly fine. I just want her to be a healthy HSP.

Q: My gelding sustained an injury that resulted in a torn Achilles tendon near his hock. He is now on vet recommended pasture rest with a companion to keep him quiet. Are there any holistic healing measures we can use to help him besides rest?

A: Oh, yes. I’ve said this before, but I think it bears

Base the horse’s diet on grasses, offering as much variety and quality as you can manage. Include a little alfalfa if she is not grazing pastures containing some clover or other little legumes. Also feed a variety-rich blend of dried herbs (see my website for more information) if access to uncultivated meadows or woodlands is limited. That should cover the bulk of the average adult horse’s nutritional needs. Of course, it’s essential to factor in the starch and sugar content of the forages if the horse is overweight, laminitis-prone, or otherwise carb-sensitive. As for supplements, keep it simple here, too. Offer salt, to be taken free-choice. And if the forages were not biodynamically or organically grown, add a good trace element supplement. (The more I play around with trace elements, the more I realize their power and the key role they play in our health and well-being.) If the forages are mostly hays, then the horse will also benefit from additional antioxidant nutrients, especially an omega-3 fatty acid source and vitamin E, since these essential nutrients are largely lost or inactivated during hay making and storage. A simple and wholesome option is sunflower seeds. Again, be guided by how Nature does it.

repeating: bodies are designed to heal, and that’s exactly what they’ll do when given half a chance. (That’s where the pasture rest comes in.) Even so, and at the risk of sounding like the voiceover for Six Million Dollar Man, we can help him optimize both the rate and quality of tissue repair by how we manage him as he heals. (“We can rebuild him... better, stronger, faster...”) First and foremost, it’s essential that he be on a wholesome diet. To have a healthy body, one needs to be on a healthy diet. I gave a thumbnail sketch of what that means in my answer to the previous question. The same fundamentals apply whether you have a pasture pet or an elite athlete. Second, there are various strategies for encouraging tendon healing, including therapeutic ultrasound, “cold” laser therapy, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, stem cell therapy, homeopathy, and no doubt some others I’m neglecting to mention. My preference in most cases is homeopathy. The specific remedy selection depends on the individual horse, but the ones I use most often for this sort of injury are Ruta graveolens and Silicea (but generally not together). Start playing with some of these equine wellness


“tissue” remedies, and it will astonish you how quickly bodies can heal with this sort of support. For example, I recently had an upper level dressage horse return to light work seven weeks after a gastrocnemius (Achilles) tendon injury, thanks to Ruta grav and friends. And that brings me to my next recommendation: if you want him to return to athletic function, then begin a graded exercise program as soon as the acute inflammation has subsided. I can talk only in generalities here, but the basic idea is to carefully load the damaged tendon (or ligament) as it heals, in order to keep the repair process geared toward return of normal structural integrity and function, rather than just doing a patch job. You want him laying down repair fibers in the direction of greatest load. That happens by regularly loading the healing tendon while taking care to stay within its current limits so you don’t inadvertently overload and reinjure it. While you’re at it, give some thought to why this injury occurred in the first place. Among other variables, consider his trimming/shoeing, work surface, body mechanics (i.e. the way he stands and moves), and his overall health. In other words, where are his vulnerabilities and what, if anything, can you do to address them so he doesn’t reinjure this tendon or anything else?


A: You certainly could be dealing with gastric ulcers (ulceration in the lining of the stomach). The signs of gastric ulcers in horses variably include crabbiness or sourness, weight loss or failure to gain weight, picky appetite (especially not wanting grain), poor coat quality, back pain (usually mild and diffuse, but can be more equine wellness

However, many (and in some studies, most) horses with endoscopically confirmed gastric ulcers show no obvious signs at all. (Although I question the observational or empathetic powers of those making the assessment that the horses with ulcers seemed fine. In my experience, if you know your horse well, you’d know if he developed ulcers! I’ve had an ulcer myself; it’s no fun.) You might also or instead be dealing with back pain, a saddle/pad or bridle/bit issue, pain elsewhere in the body (e.g. teeth, head, neck, or even limbs), a vision problem, a metabolic disorder, or immaturity. Or he may simply not like his job or the things you’re working on currently. There are any number of reasons why a horse may behave badly when ridden. Some are physical, some are psychological, and in many cases it’s both.

“In horses with ulcers I emphasize decreasing or eliminating grain-based feeds, increasing the amount of hay (and including some alfalfa).”

My horse’s behavior under saddle tends to range from one extreme to the other on a daily basis, especially if I ride him shortly after he has had his grain. My coach has suggested he may have ulcers. Is this one of the signs of ulcers? What other signs are there? What can I do?


intense directly above the stomach area), poor performance, and colic (usually mild, but often recurrent).

So, the first order of business is to find out what’s bugging your horse and then deal with it appropriately. Even if it’s “only” gastric ulcers, there is a strong psychological component to gastric ulcer disease in horses, in that it is largely a stressrelated condition.

In horses with ulcers I emphasize decreasing or eliminating grain-based feeds, increasing the amount of hay (and including some alfalfa), providing more turnout time, allowing the horse to create healthy social bonds with other horses, and if appropriate, taking some of the work-related pressure off him. I also use a herbal-amino acid supplement (see my website) to soothe the irritated gut lining and encourage healing, but never in place of the fundamentals of good health.

Q: I have a five-year-old Quarter Horse mare that consistently exhibits signs of back pain. She has not been started under saddle. She flinches/cringes when you run a brush

or your hand down her back, especially in the kidney area. It’s better during warmer months; worse when we start getting wet/cold weather. She gets ample daily turnout and comes into a warm stall at night. She receives free choice hay and a handful of oats. Her feet are attended to regularly by a good trimmer. However, she was a rescue whose feet were never trimmed until we got her a year ago -- could this have caused an issue during her growing years that is now showing up as back pain? I am at a loss what to do for her; there does not appear to be any obvious cause, and we would love to start riding her but are holding off.

A: The two most likely possibilities are a spinal problem and a skin problem. Given that she was a rescue case, I’d be thinking more along the lines of an injury to her back. For example, she might have been bred at some point, whether deliberately or accidentally, and in the process may have been injured by the stallion. (Any marks along the top of her neck where a stallion might have grabbed her?) Or she could have flipped over or fallen and injured her back that way. I haven’t seen her feet, but I doubt

that inadequate hoof care alone would cause the intensity of back sensitivity you’re seeing. In any case, it sounds like she would benefit from examination by a veterinary chiropractor or veterinary acupuncturist. The vet would also examine her for any dermatologic conditions that could cause skin hypersensitivity in that part of the body. There are a couple such oddball conditions in Quarter Horses particularly. If you’re fairly sure she has back pain, but don’t have access to a veterinarian who practices any spinal therapies, then consider doing some gentle spinal stretches with her yourself. One of my favorites would be encouraging her to bend her neck forward and down to pick up a treat from between her front fetlocks (or thereabouts). When a horse does this one correctly, it’s a lovely stretch that gently “opens” the spine and relaxes the spinal muscles all the way down to the base of the tail. There are a couple of good books on stretching exercises for horses. If you want to try this route, I’d encourage you to invest in one or two of these books, so that you learn how to do the stretches correctly – i.e. safely and effectively.

equine wellness


Open wide!

“No mouth, no horse.” Proper dental care is vital to keeping your horse healthy, balanced, and performing at his peak.

by Erin Zamzow, DVM


h look, the vet is cleaning that horse’s teeth!” After more than 12 years doing equine dentistry, I still hear people react this way when I am working on a horse’s mouth. I delight in explaining what I am really doing and why it is so important to horse health and happiness. Horses, like most grazing animals, have teeth that continually erupt throughout their lives. They don’t “grow” per se; the root is already formed at a young age. As a tooth wears with grazing, the eruption of reserve crown (the part under the gum you don’t see from inside the mouth) ensures there will be enough functional tooth to grind food throughout the horse’s lifetime.

Common tooth imbalances

An incisor malocclusion, an example of what is known as a diagonal or “slanted” presentation. This makes it very difficult for a horse to chew evenly and can be related to TMJ imbalances and molar arcade malocclusion.


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Because our domestic horses do not have the genetic selection, diet and environment of true “wild” horses, their dentition is prone to uneven wear patterns. These create pain and dysfunction and can seriously impair performance and even longevity. Some of the commonly seen imbalances

and resulting pathology encountered in the equine mouth include: •waves •hooks •ramps •retained baby teeth •long canines (gelding only, usually) •wolf teeth (both males and females) •broken molars •sharp points and lacerated cheek tissue •overgrown and imbalanced incisors (overbites, etc.)

transportation, military operations and farming into that of sports competitor and companion animal the veterinary profession dropped the ball somewhere along the way. Instead of using a full mouth speculum and correcting waves, hooks and incisor imbalances, the idea arose that just “filing the sharp points off” and checking for wolf teeth was enough to keep horses in good dental health. And other than pulling wolf teeth, “floating” was not deemed necessary until horses were at least in their teens, showing signs of weight loss or resistance to the bit. The good news is that many veterinarians and the profession as a whole have picked the ball back up, and equine dentistry is now gaining recognition for its importance in horse health.

Tooth eruption and formation We now know horses should be examined for proper dental conformation before they are a year old, checked for wolf teeth with every examination (they are supposed to erupt at six to 18 months, but I often see a bump come

Excessive transverse ridges and a long hook on the last upper molar.

Modern equine dentistry When I was in veterinary school, we were not taught to look at the mouths of very young horses. Nor were we told that horses need dental exams every year as part of a good preventative health program. I didn’t learn how much there actually was to equine dentistry until a friend introduced me to someone who taught at an equine dentistry school and had a lot of tools and techniques I had never even seen! I furthered my education and, from that point on, used a full mouth speculum to ensure a complete exam and give me the ability to work in the back of the horse’s mouth. I sedated all my patients so I could help them with the least possible amount of pain and stress. I began to use a head lamp to see soft tissue structure and each and every tooth. I am likely to employ a few different power tools as well as several hand floats in order to customize my work for the needs of my patients, while reducing the work load on my own muscles. Dentistry was done on horses over 100 years ago, but when the species transitioned out of its role in

“If there is pain or a lack of proper balance in the mouth, it will always show up elsewhere in the body. When the teeth are balanced, our work is not only more successful but quicker and easier for us and the horse. Many people who bring horses in have had yearly ‘floats’ done on their horses only to find there are unaddressed areas of imbalance in the teeth, creating pain not only in the mouth and jaw but the rest of the body as well. I believe the imbalanced mouth is a mirror of the imbalanced horse. Once the teeth are addressed the horse is then able to progress with balance in movement as well as health.”

– Kelley Mills, Willow Creek Equine Rehabilitation Center equine wellness


up under the gum much later in life), and have dental work done at least once a year. Horses are constantly teething from the age of one to four years (and up to six years for some geldings due to canine tooth eruption). They are pretty much born with their first three baby or deciduous molars, which is why they can start eating hay very soon after birth. The central deciduous incisors show up around six days of age, the adjacent set at six weeks or so, and the corner or outermost incisors at about six months. The first adult molars show up when the horse is a year old, while the next two in the arcade erupt at approximately two and three years of age, respectively. Between the eruption times of the last two adult molars, the central deciduous incisors are lost and the adults come in. Just after this event, which can be a very “mouthy” time for babies as the annoying teething process takes place, the first set of deciduous molars are lost and adult teeth replace them. Baby teeth continue to shed and adult teeth push up between the molars and incisors until around three-anda-half years of age. If the horse is a male, the canines will start to push through the gums on the bars when he is between four and six years old.

When does my horse need dentistry?

When training a young horse, keep in mind he may have “off” days when his teeth are very bothersome to him and he is in pain or distracted.

I recommend all horses have semi-annual dental work from at least two years of age until they are five. It’s then possible to evaluate the ideal interval for dental work in a particular horse. Every horse is different so it is best to set a schedule that changes as his needs change. Some may need work twice a year for several years, but as they get older they have fewer and fewer changes so can go longer between visits.


equine wellness

Too much or too little dental work can damage a horse’s mouth and health. When equine dentistry experienced a renaissance, starting about 15 years ago, many practitioners went a little “hog wild” with the power tools and took too much tooth off, leaving a flat molar table angle, or balanced the molar arcades without looking at the incisors.

Form meets function The molar arcades function best when there are angles to the top and bottom teeth that allow them to meet and grind optimally without high spots, excessive ridges or sharp edges. It is not uncommon for horses to present with molar arcades that have been floated completely flat so they have very little contact with each other. It’s important to preserve the molars’ ability to grind hay to fine particles; filing molar arcades to a smooth surface will interfere with the horse’s ability to chew. Don’t forget the incisors! Correcting high points, hooks or waves in the molar arcades while not evaluating how the incisors fit together can create a space between the molars. This means the horse cannot get his teeth together to chew. This is a common problem I see. It seems there is either a lack of belief about the need for incisor balance, or a lack of knowledge about its importance. Grinding off some incisor to achieve molar occlusion is imperative in many horses, and creating an even “bite” with regard to the incisors can make a huge difference in the balance of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). However, it’s also possible to do damage by removing too much incisor or reducing incisors in a way that leaves the jaw even more out of balance than it was before.

Senior horses

Weight and dental health A common myth claims fat horses can’t have dental problems. Wrong! Although many “easy keepers” or overweight horses are overlooked as candidates for extensive dental work, weight is not a good indicator of bad teeth. Painful teeth can result in weight loss, but there are also a lot of fat horses running around with serious dental problems. My clients are often surprised when I show them the mouth of a horse with neither weight nor perceived performance issues. It is worth noting, however, that when dental issues are resolved, the horse may be more flexible, relaxed and athletic -- in other words, potential no

Geriatric horses require special care of their teeth and soft tissue structures. They’re prone to periodontal disease and loose teeth,

one knew was there really comes through! equine wellness


Did you know?


by Dr. Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS

A balanced diet is the most economical diet. Horses fed a balanced diet will require less feed to maintain proper body condition. Grass hay or pasture should be considered the basic diet for the horse; however the demands of additional work, along with less grazing time, require the addition of calories and other nutrients to the diet. Nutrient requirements are independent of the calorie requirements for work and for maintaining body condition, and should be addressed separately. The disadvantage of feeding a compounded feed for weight maintenance is that the daily required nutrients are often deficient at the low feeding levels of easy keepers, while over supplementation can occur at the higher feeding levels of working horses. Excessive supplementation of any nutrient, even if the nutrient is not toxic, requires work from the metabolic and organ functions in order to eliminate the nutrient from the body. By feeding nutrients such as vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids and minerals separately the horse caretaker has the capability to adjust caloric intake to meet the horse’s energy needs without affecting the basic nutrients. The combination of grass hay, and oats if needed for a calorie source, require the least amount of supplementation to balance the diet. Oats have the advantages of energy content, amino acid content, starch digestibility, fatty acid ratio, calcium to phosphorus ratio, lower phytate content and excellent palatability. Dr. Frank Gravlee graduated from Auburn University School of Medicine and practiced

so it’s important to provide adequate pain relief and to work as gently as possible to ensure that dental procedures are not overly stressful. Older horses with severe dental imbalances are also somewhat limited in how much can or should be changed. A lot can be done to help them chew better and alleviate pain, but we may not always achieve the same kind of balance on a 20-year-old horse that we can on a much younger animal.

An older horse with uneven molars and periodontal disease. The gum tissue is infected and the teeth are not wearing evenly. The horse was having a very hard time keeping weight on and the teeth were painful and some were loose.

When done properly, equine dentistry means more than leveling a wave, removing a hook or taking sharp points off. It is about creating a mouth and jaw that can efficiently chew and digest food, as well as contributing to balance and synergy in the entire body. Balancing the mouth affects energy flow in acupuncture meridians as well as the emotions, myofascial tension, cranio-sacral balance, and more. There’s an old saying: “no foot, no horse”. Those who make sure their horses receive thorough and regular dental work know that “no mouth, no horse” also applies.

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.

After ten years of research, he launched Farrier’s Formula. www.lifedatalabs.com


equine wellness

Dr. Erin Zamzow graduated from Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1990. She and her family (husband Jeff and sons Ryan and Dylan) live in Washington State with their three dogs and two horses. As co-owner and formulator for VivoAnimals, LLC, Dr. Zamzow creates and distributes products to help animals return to health by

“Removing the Barriers to Wellness”. She also has a private practice that focuses on equine dental health, detoxification and nutrition, and works with the Willow Creek Animal Rehabilitation Center in Ellensburg, Washington.

Natural breed profile

Preserving the

Nokota Photo: Shawn Hamilton

by Margaret Odgers


thletic, intelligent and sturdy, the Nokota is one of North America’s most distinctive breeds. It’s also one of the rarest. Nokotas are the only known surviving line of early Indian-Ranch horses of the Northern Plains. In fact, they trace their ancestry to the confiscated war ponies of Sitting Bull and his followers.

Long before the Quarter Horse was king, the common Indian-Ranch horse was the backbone of ranching communities. Early settlers commonly crossed their ranch horses with Indian ponies (Spanish mustang types) to infuse in them the stamina necessary to survive harsh conditions. By the turn of the 20th century, though,

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Right: Keen Blue and Snarf run with their foals in North Dakota. The Nokota Horse Conservancy is valiantly trying to preserve this rare and wild breed. Below left: Chief is owned by Dale Offermann of Arlington, Washington, and is the earliest Ambassador of the Nokota Breed. Born in 1990, this gray Nokota stallion was the first in the Western United States, and the first to be available for public breeding. For many years Dale has been performing in public with Chief, doing liberty demonstrations. Liberty work is done without a lead rope, saddle, or bridle and really shows the temperament and trainability of the Nokota horse. Dale rides Chief bareback with no bridle or reins, and they do tricks such as rearing up, lying down and jumps. Below right: A Nokota foal enjoys the freedom of open grasslands with his mother.

Photo: Shawn Hamilton

Photo: Shelly Hauge

most of these horses were discarded – replaced by mechanization and modern breeds. Many were absorbed into wild herds and were hunted and killed to near extinction. But the Nokota survived, isolated in the Little Missouri Badlands. When this region was enclosed to form the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (THRO) in the 1940s, the Nokotas were trapped within. Park officials labeled them “trespass stock” and they continued to be targeted for eradication. By the 1960s, they were the last wild horses in North Dakota.

Photo: Shawn Hamilton

to remove the herd stallions by capturing or killing them, and replace them with domestic stallions.

Athletic, intelligent and sturdy, the Nokota is one of North America’s most distinctive breeds. It’s also one of the rarest.

Public outcry saves the Nokota Because their range lay within a national park, Nokotas were excluded from the Wild Horse Annie protection laws and fell under the control of the National Park Service. Helicopter round-ups and slaughter remained common practice. In the 1970s, THRO bowed to public pressure to maintain a demonstration herd. Despite the Sitting Bull connection, however, the Park decided


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At this point, brothers Leo and Frank Kuntz, fourth generation ranchers and horsemen from Linton, North Dakota, stepped in to privately preserve the Nokotas. Impressed by the durability of the “park horses”, they originally intended to cross them to their ranch and racing stock. But after being repeatedly questioned by

Right: Thanks to the Nokota Horse Conservancy, founded in 1999 by brothers Leo and Frank Kuntz, these horses have a much greater chance of thriving and proliferating in their natural state. The organization’s ultimate goal is to buy some land in North Dakota and create a protected sanctuary for the horses.

Photo: Page E. Lee

Left: Blue Moon Rising is owned by Margaret Odgers of Paris, Kentucky. Also called Moonshine, this eight-year-old blue roan Nokota gelding has shown dressage, been an all-round family horse, and participated in Nokota exhibitions for years. Since 2007, he has been on loan to the world-renowned Kentucky Horse Park, representing the Nokota breed to millions of park visitors in the Parade of Breeds.

Photo: Shelly Hauge

old-time cowboys about their old-fashioned “Montana” or “Indian” horses (the Indian-Ranch horse of earlier times) the brothers began investigating the history of the park horses. When they established the historical links to Sitting Bull and famous early North Dakota ranchers, including Theodore Roosevelt, the Kuntz brothers began a lifelong mission to preserve this special breed.

Despite more than 30 years of repeated efforts, the Nokota Horse Conservancy has yet to achieve its ultimate goal: to have a demonstration herd of Nokotas reintroduced to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and their ancestral homeland, the Little Missouri Badlands. Their work continues. Continued on next page.

In 1993, they succeeded in having the Nokota named North Dakota’s Honorary State Equine. Six years later, they formed the non-profit Nokota Horse Conservancy with help from a growing base of supporters across the country. Today, almost all Nokotas live on rented land, found and funded by the Nokota Horse Conservancy.

equine wellness


Height: Color:

color type – of any North American breed. The Plains Indians favored certain colors within their bands. Blue roan was the color favored most by Sitting Bull and his Hunkpapa people.

Nokotas come in all colors. Predominant are black, grey, roans, and overos. Many have blue eyes and bald faces.

The name Nokota was created by pushing together the words North and Dakota. It is often misspelled as Nakota.


Future goals for the breed:

Nokotas range from 14 hands to over 16 hands.

Nokotas have a square-set, angular frame, V-shaped front end, distinctively sloped, squarish croup and low-set tail along with strong bones, legs, and hooves.

The primary long term goal of the Nokota Horse Conservancy is to purchase land within North Dakota for a protected sanctuary for the horses.


What makes this breed a good candidate for “natural” horsekeeping?

As a whole, Nokotas tend to be personable, gregarious horses. In most cases and with tactful handling, their sociable nature extends easily to people and they often form a close bond with their riders. Their intelligence and self-preservation is highly evolved, so they are extraordinarily quick learners.

Suitabilities: The natural selection of Nokotas within the Little Missouri Badlands resulted in a highly durable, athletic horse. They are particularly noted for their jumping ability and skill in negotiating treacherous terrain. An all-round, all-purpose horse, Nokotas have been successful in many disciplines, including dressage, western, eventing and combined driving.

Fun/Interesting facts: Nokotas have the highest incidence of blue roan – a rare


equine wellness

Photo: Page E. Lee

About the Nokota

Given their heritage, Nokotas are the poster children for natural horsekeeping. Adapting to traditional and restrictive horsekeeping environments – including stalls, limited turnout, and high-protein feeds -- is the greater challenge for Nokotas and their owners.

What does the horse public need to know about this breed? Their future is in the hands of the Nokota Horse Conservancy. It is a very small, non-profit organization funded almost entirely by public donations. Without this public support, the Nokotas could disappear forever. To learn more, visit the Nokota Horse Conservancy at www.nokotahorse.org.

equine wellness


On the

skinny side Once you’ve ruled out any health problems, packing a few pounds on your underweight “hard keeper” is easier than you may think. by Dr. Juliet M. Getty


e hear so much these days about overweight horses and their health problems, that those of us with underweight horses feel almost fortunate! But don’t be too complacent. Any time a horse can’t maintain a healthy weight, there’s reason for concern. Horses vary in their ability to burn calories. This is referred to as their “metabolic rate” and is influenced by genetics and body composition. We all know Thoroughbreds have a genetic tendency to be on the lean side. And a highly muscular horse will have a faster metabolic rate than one who is out of shape. But what about the true “hard keeper” who cannot seem to gain weight? Throwing more feed at him is not always the correct approach. You have to rule out a few things first, to make sure there isn’t an underlying problem.

Four causes of weight loss

1. Dental problems

– The most common reason for weight loss is poor teeth. Your horse’s teeth should be floated at least once each year, but some horses need their teeth filed down every six months. Poor dental maintenance can make eating a painful experience. Older horses sometimes lose teeth, making hay chewing virtually impossible. These horses need to have softer feed, but still require a forage-based diet. Soaked hay cubes offer a good solution.


equine wellness

So if you notice your horse is dropping his feed or spitting out clumps of partially-chewed hay, your first phone call should be to an equine dentist.

2. Parasites

– Another common reason for a horse to be underweight is inadequate internal parasite control. Your veterinarian is your best source of information for this issue since worm infestations can vary by region. But don’t assume that if your horse stays in one paddock or barn all the time, he doesn’t need an effective parasite control program. Worms can damage the intestinal lining and the blood vessels that support the digestive system, diminishing nutrient absorption and, in actuality, starving the horse.

3. Flora imbalance

– Your horse’s hind gut contains billions of beneficial bacteria that produce enzymes for digesting forage. Without these bacteria, your horse could not derive any calories from hay and pasture. So keeping these bacteria healthy is a must. Their numbers can diminish due to illness, stress, over-consumption of cereal grains, and antibiotic therapy (which kills beneficial as well as harmful bacteria). Colic can result if their numbers diminish too much. In the generally healthy underweight horse, the level of helpful microbes can be slightly off. A prebiotic is therefore a useful addition to the diet. A prebiotic is different than a probiotic because it does not contain any live microbes. Instead, it feeds the existing bacterial flora in the hind gut, making them healthier and better able to digest forage. The result is weight gain, since the horse can get more calories from fiber found in hay and pasture. Ration Plus is an excellent prebiotic. A probiotic (live microbes) is useful for a horse on antibiotic therapy, to replace the beneficial bacteria that have been destroyed.

to metabolize nutrients for energy. This means you can feed an excellent diet, but if there aren’t enough B vitamins in the bloodstream, your horse’s tissues will not be able to derive calories from the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in that diet. The result is weight loss due to malnutrition at the cellular level. Choose a B complex preparation such as BPlex (Horsetech) that provides only B vitamins. Avoid “blood builders” that have B vitamins with added iron. There is plenty of iron in hay and pasture, and too much can be harmful.

Adding calories Once you’ve ruled out any medical problems or Bvitamin deficiencies, you can work on providing more calories. Your best approach is to add concentrated calories, so you don’t have to feed too large a meal. Horses’ stomachs are relatively small, compared to the rest of the digestive tract. So, for the average 1,100-pound horse, meal sizes should be limited to no more than 3½ pounds. Get a scale and weigh your feed – do not rely on a scoop or coffee can as they tell you nothing about weight, only volume. Carbohydrates from cereal grains (oats, corn, barley) provide less than half the number of calories than fat. So the best and easiest way to add more calories without



Vitamin deficiencies

– Borderline B-vitamin deficiencies can lead to a poor appetite. There are eight B vitamins that rely on each other to keep a variety of body systems in good working order. The digestive system relies on B vitamins to keep healthy. In addition, each cell in the body requires several B vitamins



more bulk is to add fat to the diet. Flaxseed meal is excellent. Not only is it high in fat, but it’s high in beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation, protect joints and hooves, keep the immune system healthy and make your horse shine. Choose a product that is stabilized and has added calcium to correct the naturally equine wellness


inverted calcium-to-phosphorus ratio found in flax. Do not feed whole flaxseeds or those that are soaked – soaking destroys the Omega 3 fatty acids.

Do not feed whole flaxseeds or those that are soaked – soaking destroys the Omega 3 fatty acids.

Another good fat source is rice bran. Again, choose a product that has added calcium since you don’t want to feed more phosphorus than calcium. Natural Glo (ADM Alliance) is an excellent rice bran product. And be consistent. Many riders like to give a warm bran mash once a week as a treat. This is asking for an episode of colic since the bacteria in the hind gut have to adjust to a new feed. So add a new feed slowly – over a two-week period – and feed it daily.

Avoid adding soybean oil, wheat germ oil, or corn oil to the diet since they are high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which increase inflammation. If your horse has aging joints, these oils can increase his pain. Rice bran or canola oils are safe to feed since they are low in Omega 6 fatty acids. If you decide to add oil to meal, start with only one tablespoon per meal. You can slowly build up to half a cup per meal. Many horses do not like oily feed, so take your time. It also takes a few weeks for a horse’s system to adjust to extra fat, so be patient.

stomach, unlike our own, produces acid all the time. Chewing produces saliva, a natural antacid, to neutralize stomach acid. If forced to go for hours without anything to graze on, a horse will suffer physical stress (because he is in pain), will often develop bad chewing habits, may colic, and will have difficulty gaining weight.

If possible, add about 20% alfalfa hay to the mix. Alfalfa is a legume and will boost the overall protein quality in the diet, making body tissue production more efficient. Alfalfa is also higher in calories than most grass hays. Overall, alfalfa benefits your horse’s health through additional quality protein, added minerals, and more calories. So allow your horse to enjoy this nutritious hay. Always rule out potential health issues before simply increasing your horse’s caloric intake. Giving more feed to your horse without discovering the root of the issue simply wastes time and money. Remember to adjust your horse’s diet slowly and consistently. By following these guidelines, you can help turn your hard keeper into a picture of equine health!

Dr. Juliet M. Getty holds a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition. The winner of several teaching awards, Dr. Getty has taught comparative nutrition studies at the University of North Texas for 20 years. She consults privately with horse owners to customize feeding plans that address a variety of health conditions. Recently retired from academia, she now resides in Colorado, where she devotes herself full-time to equine nutrition. Her passion is to improve the lives of horses by helping their owners gain a

The importance of forage Finally, feed your horse the way he is meant to be fed by allowing him to graze at all times. Give him all the hay he wants but make sure your hay is nutritious, free from mold, and not filled with stems. The horse’s


equine wellness

better understanding of how and what to feed their equine friends. Dr. Getty has her own consulting company, Getty Equine Nutrition (GettyEquineNutrition.com) where she visits with horse owners, both locally and via phone consultations throughout the country and internationally.

Watch for her new book (to be released

this summer), an invaluable feeding reference for all life stages and conditions that horses experience.

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a natural performer

The trend toward natural and integrative equine care is catching on across the world, but can it apply to performance and working horses? Of course! In this column, Equine Wellness highlights performance horses from various fields and disciplines who are living a natural life.

Š 2008 New Image Media

The horse:

Dollar (Azure Down There) Age: 3 years

Breed/Ancestry: Quarter Horse 38

equine wellness

Physical description: Bay stallion

Discipline: Racehorse

Owner/Guardian: Kate Romanenko

Dollar came in second at his first race at Ajax Downs.

How they got together:


“I was looking for a young racehorse to race barefoot when I stumbled across Dollar. I was not prepared to purchase a stallion, but decided to pull together all I knew about natural horse care and natural training, and take a chance on Dollar.”

“The best thing for your horse is to understand his lifestyle. I cannot emphasize that enough! Treat a horse like a horse. Give him freedom to move and eat some type of forage 24 hours a day. Blankets are not necessary – a horse is already sporting his own leather and fur coat. Do not attach anything to his feet – this only restricts hoof movement and function. Horses are herd animals, so make sure he has a buddy or two. It is really quite easy to do, and you will have a healthier and happier horse for it.”

Awards and accomplishments: “Dollar was shipped across the country to me, at which point I pulled his shoes, put him on 24-hour turnout (occasionally with a gelding to play with) and slowly started getting him in shape. He was already in fairly good shape, but had not raced for three months. I must admit I was a bit worried about his transition to barefoot, as I felt I had not had a lot of time to rehab his hooves. They were damaged by nail holes, which resulted in weak hoof walls on the quarters (the sides of the hooves). The racetrack is a soft sand surface, and not very deep. I felt his hooves could handle it. His first race was at Ajax Downs, which he ran a strong second in the muck. Two weeks later he ran again, placing first in his race only two months after I got him!”

Natural care principles: Dollar is on 24-hour turnout on pasture. He receives natural hoofcare. For nutrition, he gets mostly organic grains and hay, free choice kelp, salt, and diatomaceous earth.

COULD YOUR HORSE BE A NATURAL PERFORMER? Equine Wellness Magazine is looking for natural performers to feature in 2009. If you employ natural horsekeeping practices and training principles and would like to see your horse considered for the magazine, please contact us. You will be asked to answer some basic questions about your horse, and send along some high resolution photos. Your horse does not have to be a national champion to be featured – local heroes are welcome, too! For more information, contact Kelly@equinewellnessmagazine.com.

equine wellness


The “master link” Why is your horse out of balance? The answer may lie in his jaw. by Dr. Heather Mack, VMD


equine wellness


ver the last ten years, the horse market has been flooded with medications for gastric ulcers, neurologic diseases, inflammatory conditions and all kinds of other issues. Why are our horses so out of balance and in need of all these medications? Is it environmental pressure? Increased travel to shows?

The TMJ connection These factors can add to the picture, but I believe many horse people (the veterinary community included) are unaware of how important the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is to a horse’s balance, digestion, biomechanics and overall wellbeing. I consider this joint the “Master Link.” Restore it to optimal wellness and many other psychological and physical issues, internal organ imbalances and body compensations simply disappear.

With a balanced jaw, a horse’s body can achieve a state of self perpetuating wellness. Everything from digestion to rapid healing and cell regeneration occurs easily and naturally.

Many horses suffer from articular TMJ pain, but perhaps even more insidious is temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD). This involves myofascial and ligamentous pain. Horses adapt as the inflammatory process slowly progresses, but what starts as a bit of discomfort will become a raging headache. Once you know what to look for, you’ll be able to recognize it:

1. Observation: Watch your horse chewing. Look for symmetry or balance side to side. Does he swing his jaw to both sides? Does he hold his head with a tilt while he eats? Is he dropping food? Does he leave the hay stems? Observe his head when he is not eating and look straight at him face to face. Are the ears, eyes and nostrils even or asymmetric? How about the bony prominence of the jaw joint or the facial crest that runs down the side of the head? Is one more prominent than the other? This is also a good time to evaluate the forehead and the cheek muscles for symmetry.

2. Incisor evaluation: The pattern, length and angle of the incisors directly affect the TMJ’s biomechanics.

The TMJ is critical for a horse’s health and survival. It has two primary functions:

1. Grinding food 2. Balance (a horse’s relationship with the

Anatomy of the TMJ The TMJ connects the temporal bone, which expands across the horse’s forehead, to the mandible, the lower portion of the skull. It consists of two parts – an upper sliding joint, and a lower hinge joint. An articular disc separates the two compartments, and the entire joint is encapsulated and contains synovial fluid. It is a very tight joint, reinforced by tendons and ligaments and supported by an intricate array of muscles.

Photo: © Pavlo Vakhrushev | Dreamstime.com

ground, or posture)

equine wellness


It’s all related

•Look straight at your horse’s incisors. They should be aligned top to bottom. If they are off center or there is a wedge sending them one direction and not the other (below), there’s pathology in the mouth and TMJ.

How the TMJ affects bodily health


Chewing food properly is the first step to healthy digestion. In order to chew his food, a horse must be able to move his jaw from side to side, forward and back, and up and down. When dysfunction occurs, a horse will make many adaptations, but these changes affect the entire body.


The jaw joint is highly innervated and surrounded by structures that dictate the horse’s balance and equilibrium. It is anatomically the closest joint in a horse’s body to the brain and brainstem. Its proprioceptors tell the horse where he is in space, or what his posture is. The neurology is intricate and beyond the scope of this article, but be aware that the hyoid and cranial nerves are intricately connected with the jaw. The hyoid apparatus in the throatlatch is a group of ten bones that give biomechanical form and function to the larynx, pharynx and tongue.

Slanted incisor bite with left lateral deviation of mandible.

•Now look from the side – is there an overbite or overjet (below)? If so, chances are your horse cannot put his head down and drop his mandible into a comfortable or neutral position, because the anterior motion of his jaw is impeded.


The TMJ is also part of the stomatognathic system, a neurological system that governs balance and equilibrium. All components of this system are located from the shoulder forward. They include the eyes, hyoid apparatus, proprioceptors and dural connections from the cervical spine, which connect all the way to the sacrum and pelvis. Changes in muscle tone in the head and neck increase dural tension all the way to the sacrum.


Vital life force or Chi energy flows along the acupuncture meridians or channels to maintain health. If this energy is blocked or altered in any way, it can create dis-ease or dysfunction. Six different acupuncture channels converge on, or are very close to, the TMJ. Three travel to the front legs (LI, SI, and TH), and three to the hind legs (GB, ST, and BL). This is another way of understanding how the hind legs, pelvis and sacrum can be adversely affected by TMJ or TMD. Photo: Constantin Jurcut

An overbite can affect your horse’s ability to lower his head.


equine wellness

•Visually check for anterior and posterior motion, or by gently placing your finger at the incisor occlusal line (where the front teeth meet). When the head is raised, normal posterior motion should pull the lower incisors slightly back. When you lower the horse’s head,

the lower incisors should move forward. A lack of anterior/posterior motion indicates the biomechanics of the jaw can be improved.

3. Listen: A healthy jaw has a harmonic resonance you can hear. Listen to your horse grazing or eating hay with his head down. All horses should be fed at ground level. With his head down, a horse’s atlantoaxial joint opens; the mandible comes down and forward; the upper and lower cheek teeth meet at the optimal occlusion; and the muscles and soft tissues in the head and neck go into a perfect balance of tension and relaxation for proper chewing and neurological input. When you listen to your horse chewing, there should be a clear, clean sound if everything is healthy. It provides a frequency or vibration that is like a lullaby to the nervous system. Squeaks, pops, or clicking sounds could indicate TMJ or dental pathology.

4. Palpation: Gentle palpation of the TMJ joint space can indicate asymmetry or pain. One side may feel shallow and open, while the other might feel tight and pinched. Palpate and observe the muscles on the forehead and cheek, and the pterygoid muscle, which is difficult to observe but can be palpated on the medial aspect of the mandible.

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Facial crest acupressure trigger points.

For those familiar with acupressure, palpating acupoints TH-17, ST-7, Bao-Sai, the facial crest trigger points, and the medial pterygoid muscle attachment can help indicate TMD.

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If, after doing this evaluation, you suspect your horse has some TMJ dysfunction, have a vet or qualified equine dentist perform an exam with a full mouth speculum.

All the wild horse skulls I’ve found have nearly perfect incisor and molar patterns. Photo: Julia Borysewicz

Awareness dentistry TMJ Awareness Dentistry is a holistic approach to dentistry. I feel equine dentistry has advanced too far toward the dentist’s comfort and less toward the horse’s comfort and safety. The overuse of power dental instruments is the primary reason I see and treat so many TMD horses. Although a true artist can do the work correctly with power instruments, it is so easy to over-float with them. I have found a more accurate balance can be achieved with hand instruments. If I find extreme pathology I will use my power instruments judiciously, but I always finish with hand instruments. My colleagues and I use hand instruments that are ergonomically correct, designed specifically for a horse’s mouth. We use minimal sedation, and are willing to add more if necessary. However, our goal is to have the horse as aware as possible of the subtle changes occurring to his nervous system as we make adjustments to the teeth. This kind of dentistry is really adjusting the “gyroscope”, and is often my first step in treating neurologic diseases. Many power floaters take off too much clinical crown, and often obliterate the horse’s natural molar table angles. More sedation is required to allow these instruments into the oral cavity, then the head is hoisted or tied up in a very unnatural position. Power floating can be so excessive that it decreases the natural surface contact between the molars. This leads to severe myofascial pain syndrome (TMD) because the horse clenches his jaw and constantly compresses his muscles, tendons, and


equine wellness

ligaments to get that molar contact. Sometimes it takes years for the clinical crown to come back. I believe power tools have allowed dentists to become overly aggressive in equine dentistry. With one quick head shake the proper table angles can be altered. Many dentists are more concerned with eliminating sharp edges than restoring proper biomechanics to the jaw joint. Practitioners often float the molars and either leave the incisors untouched or follow up by adjusting them to fit the work done on the molars. TMJ awareness dentists start with a thorough examination of the head, hyoid, poll and whole body for asymmetries and symptoms of TMD. We address the incisors first. The length, angle, and balance of the incisor tables are directly related to the TMJ. Sometimes incisor pathology can only be reduced in increments while the horse adjusts to the new TMJ alignment. Some pathology should not be corrected, especially in aged horses that have been compensating for years and have adapted. In these cases we do minimal work, mostly to allow more comfort and maximum surface-to-surface contact between the teeth.

Molar table angles and surface contact are crucial to proper chewing as well as to posture, balance, and equilibrium.

Once we achieve optimum incisor alignment, we put the speculum on and move to the molar tables. Remember we want the horse’s participation and integration during the process, so we don’t hoist his head up. It is easy to create inappropriate changes to the molar table angles when the head is held high and the neck hyper-extended.

We are willing to kneel on knee pads so the horse’s head is in a natural position. We leave as much clinical crown and table surface as possible on the molars and pay close attention to table angles. This is critically important in the rearmost molars because they are losest to the TMJ, brain, and central nervous system. The occlusal surface and angle is critical to proper guidance, body biomechanics and balance. We always complete our dentistry with some stretching, myofascial and trigger point release work, essential oils, homeopathy, and sometimes chiropractic and acupuncture.

workers who do extensive soft tissue work, and farriers to properly balance the feet. We use cyma therapy, microcurrent, laser, chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, bit changes, saddle changes, oral or injectable chondro protective agents, and sometimes anti-inflammatories to get the horse back to total balance and wellness. I urge you to take a close look at how your horse’s TMJ is functioning. I see far too many hocks and backs being injected when the problem is actually TMD. Although injections will often provide some temporary improvement, the imbalance shows up somewhere else after awhile, often in the feet or neck. Unkink the master link, make sure your horse’s feet are balanced, and you will see the life force flow through his entire body. You may still have bodywork to do and old postural compensations to correct, but a healthy TMJ makes it much more possible for your horse to achieve self perpetrating wellness, vitality, and strength.

Additional therapies Even with the best of dental care, it takes a total holistic approach to completely treat TMD issues. Dental work alone is a very important starting point, but will not completely resolve many TMJ/TMD issues. We often pull in the help of craniosacral therapists, body

Heather Mack, VMD, graduated from Pennsylvania in 1991. Shortly after, she received certification from both the IVAS and the AVCA. She has been a member of the AHVMA for 15 years, and is on a continual path of studying holistic health. She is turning her Mystic Canyon Ranch in Idaho into a Balanced Equine Wellness Center and also has a very busy Equine Sports Medicine practice on the West Coast. She is as much a healer as a doctor, teaches this art in Balanced Equine Wellness courses, and considers apprentices from time to time. Contact 760-447-0776 or www.balancedequinewellness.com.

equine wellness


Equine Wellness

Resource Guide •Barefoot Hoof Trimming

•Holistic Healthcare

•Schools & Education


•Natural Product Retailers

•Shelters & Rescues

View the Wellness Resource Guide online at: www.EquineWellnessMagazine.com


Lone Pine Ranch Bruce Goode, AANHCP Practitioner Vernon, BC Canada Phone: (250) 545-6948 Email: lonepinehorse@yahoo.com Website: www.hooftrack.com

Danny Thornburg Shelby, AL USA Phone: (205) 669-7409

Non-invasive natural hoof care Custom hoof boot fitting services


Dawn Jenkins Hoof Coach Frazier Park, CA USA Phone: (661) 245-2182

Richard Drewry Harrison, AR USA Phone: (870) 429-5739 The Horse’s Hoof James Welz Litchfield Park, AZ USA Toll Free: (877) 594-3365 Phone: (623) 935-1823 Email: jim@thehorseshoof.com Website: www.thehorseshoof.com JT’s Natural Hoof Care AANHCP Certified Practitioner & Instructor Scottsdale, AZ USA Phone: (480) 560-9413 Email: jonatom3h@yahoo.com

BRITISH COLUMBIA Christina Cline Abbottsford, BC Canada Phone: (604) 835-1700 Diane Brown Lumby, BC Canada Phone: (250) 547-6391 Dave Thorpe Vernon, BC Canada Phone: (250) 549-4703


From CA to HI: Practical hands-on-hoofcare. Trimming/shoeing instruction. 16 yrs hoofcare experience. Private workshops

Second Heart Hoof Care Cohasset, CA USA Phone: (530) 343-7190

Serving Chico to Redding area. 530-343-7190, secondhearthoofcare@yahoo.com

Hoof Savvy Folsom, CA USA Phone: (916) 201-7852 Email: hoofcare.specialist@yahoo.com Hoof Help Tracy Browne, AANHCP, PT Greenwood, CA USA Phone: (530) 885-5847 Email: tracy@hoofhelp.com Website: www.hoofhelp.com

Serving Sacramento and the Gold Country

Softtouch Natural Horse Care Phil Morarre Oroville, CA USA Phone: (530) 533-7669 Email: softouch@cncnet.com Website: www.softouchnaturalhorsecare.com Good Hoof Keeping LLC Ramona, CA USA Phone: (619) 719-7903


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

Michael Moran Sunland, CA USA Phone: (818) 951-0235 Jolly Roger Holman Professional Farrier/Natural Hoof Care Templeton, CA USA Phone: (805) 227-4835

Specializing in natural trims and BLM Wild Mustangs


Cindy Meyer Carbondale, CO USA Phone: (970) 945-5680


Fred Evans North Granby, CT USA Phone: (860) 653-7946 Phyllis Gregerman North Stonington, CT USA Phone: (860) 599-8766 Sarah F. Block Shelton, CT USA Phone: (203) 924-5644


Dawn Willoughby Wilmington, DE USA Website: www.4sweetfeet.com


Sound Horse Systems Anne Daimier Deland, FL USA Phone: (386) 822-4564 Website: www.soundhorsesystems.com

Barefoot Hoof Trimming — Wellness Resource Guide Brett Barteld Havana, FL USA Phone: (850) 391-4733 Email: masterfarrier@gmail.com

Ann Corso London, KY USA Phone: (606) 878-0466 Email: naturalhorsecare@earthlink.net

Hoof Nexus Daniel E. Hofford Ocala, FL USA Phone: (352) 502-4384 Email: equsnarnd@gmail.com Website: www.hoofnexus.com


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


All Around Horses Andrew Leech Dahlonega, GA USA Phone: (706) 867-4890 Website: www.geocities.com/ andrewsallaroundhorses/


Dawn Jenkins Hoof Coach Frazier Park, CA USA Phone: (661) 245-2182

From CA to HI: Practical hands-on-hoofcare. Trimming/shoeing instruction. 16 yrs hoofcare experience. Private workshops


Mackinaw Dells II Ida Hammer Congerville, IL USA Phone: (309) 448-2212 Website: www.mackinawdells2.com No Hoof - No Horse Cheryl Sutor, M.H.G. Kirkland, IL USA Phone: (630) 267-0357 Website: www.NoHoof-NoHorse.com Yvonne Moorhouse Hoof Care Practitioner AANHCP PT Marengo, IL USA Phone: (815) 923-6950 Email: y.moorhouse@att.net


Randy Hensley Hensley Natural Hoof Care Orient, IA USA Phone: (641) 745-5576

Former Farrier - Now specializing in barefoot rehabilitation - Certified Practitioner


Sharon Sanford Campbellsville, KY USA Phone: (270) 469-4481

Triple S Farms Julie Sanders Altamont, MB Canada Phone: (204) 744-2487


Coreen Harris Emmitsburg, MD USA Email: alboradapasos@aol.com


Gwenyth Santagate Douglas, MA USA Phone: (805) 476-1317 Website: www.barefoottrim.com


Larry Frye White Cloud, MI USA Phone: (231) 652-3505


Cynthia Niemela Duluth, MN USA Phone: (218) 721-3094


Jeff Farmer, AANHCP Certified Practioner 927 Abe Chapel Rd. Como, MS USA Phone: (662) 526-0821 Email: hooffixer@msn.com Also serving West Tennessee & East Arkansas


Bruce Nock Warrenton, MO USA Phone: (314) 740-5847 Website: http://homepage.mac.com/brucenock/ Index.html


Luke & Merrilea Tanner Milford, NH USA Phone: (603) 502-5207 Website: www.lmhorseworks.com


Carrie Christiansen Browns Mills, NJ USA Phone: (609) 992-3889 Lisa Markowitz High Bridge, NJ USA Phone: (908) 268-6046 Natural Trim Hoof Care Hopatcong, NJ USA Phone: (973) 876-4475 Email: info@naturaltrimhoofcare.com Website: www.naturaltrimhoofcare.com

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


Better Be Barefoot Sherri Pennanen Lockport, NY USA Phone: (716) 434-0146 Email: sherri@betterbebarefoot.com Website: www.betterbebarefoot.com Natural balance trimming, rehabilitation, and education centre.

Amy Sheehy Natural Hoof Care Professional IIEP Certified Equine Podiatrist Pine Plains, NY USA Phone: (845) 235-4530 Email: hoofgal@naturestrim.com Website: www.naturestrim.com

Specializing in natural trimming and rehabilitation of all hoof problems.

Margo Scofield Tully, NY USA Phone: (315) 383-6429 Email: thehoofchick@hoofkeeping.com Website: www.hoofkeeping.com Natural Concepts Joseph Skipp Wynantskill, NY USA Phone: (518) 371-0494 Email: joe@naturalhoofconcepts.com Website: www.naturalhoofconcepts.com


Natural Hoof Care Lisa Dawe, AANHCP Practitioner Oriental, NC USA Phone: (508) 776-6259 Email: Lisa@ibarefoothorses.com Website: www.ibarefoothorses.com Natural barefoot hoof care; specializing in pathologic hoof rehab

Bruce Smith Raleigh, NC USA Phone: (919) 624-2585 Email: bruce@father-and-son.net Website: www.father-and-son.net


Lost July Natural Hoof Care Nina Hassinger Bridgetown, NS Canada Phone: (902) 665-2151 Email: nina@lostjuly.ca Gudrun Buchhofer Judique, NS Canada Phone: (902) 787-2292 Email: gudrun@go-natural.ca Website: www.go-natural.ca


Steve Hebrock Akron, OH USA Phone: (330) 644-1954 Emma Everly AANHCP CP Columbiana, OH USA Phone: (330) 482-6027 Email: emmanaturalhoofcare@comcast.net Website: www.barefoottrimming.com AANHCP Certified Practitioner

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Barefoot Hoof Trimming — Wellness Resource Guide Sherry Eucker Cuyahoga Falls, OH USA Phone: (216) 218-6954


Becky Goumaz Tulsa, OK USA Phone: (918) 493-2782 Email: pulltheshoes@yahoo.com


Serendales Farm Equine Hoofcare Services Brian & Virginia Knox Campbellford, ON Canada Phone: (705) 653-5989 Email: serendales@accel.net Website: www.serendalesmorgans.com Barefoot Horse Canada.com Anne Riddell, AANHCP, Hoof Care Practitioner Penetang, ON Canada Phone: (705) 533-2900 Email: ariddell@xplornet.com Website: www.barefoothorsecanada.com Natural barefoot trimming, booting & natural horsecare services.

Back To Basics Natural Hoof Care Services Carolyn Myre AANHCP Hoof Care Practitioner Renfrew, 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

Kate Romanenko Woodville, ON Canada Phone: (705) 374-5456 Website: www.natureshoofcare.com


Bellwether Farm Katrina Ranum Morrisdale, PA USA Phone: (814) 345-1723 Email: info@ladyfarrier.com Website: www.ladyfarrier.com Walt Friedrich Nescopeck, PA USA Phone: (570) 379-2964

SOUTH CAROLINA Cori Brennan Horsense Hoof/Horse care that makes sense Sharon, SC USA Phone: (803) 927-0018 Email: brombie1@yahoo.com

Natural barefoot trimming serving the Carolinas


Charles Hall Elora, TN USA Phone: (931) 937-0033 Mary Ann Kennedy Fairview, TN USA Phone: (615) 412-4222 Email: info@maryannkennedy.com Website: www.maryannkennedy.com Trac Right Indian Mound, TN USA Phone: (931) 232-3071 Email: tracright@aol.com Website: www.tracright.com

Quality Barefoot Hoofcare in Middle Tennessee.

Marie Jackson Jonesborough, TN USA Phone: (423) 753-9349


The Veterinary Hospital Nancy Johnson Eugene, OR USA Phone: (541) 688-1835 Email: thevethosp@aol.com ABC Hoof Care Cheryl Henderson Jacksonville, OR USA Phone: (541) 899-1535 Email: abchoofcare@msn.com Website: www.abchoofcare.com


Certified hoofcare Professional Training, Rehabilitation, Education & Clinics


equine wellness

27 years exp. as Farrier and I promote Natural hoof care. I am a field instructor and clinician for AANHCP in Texas

Gill Goodin Moravian, NC USA Phone: (325) 265-4250


Autumn Mountain Sue Mellen Danby, VT USA Phone: (802) 293-5260


Erin Pearson Castleton, VA USA Phone: (540) 987-9507 Flying H Farms Equine Hoof Clinic & Wellness Center Fredericksburg, VA USA Toll Free: (888) 325-0388 Phone: (540) 752-6690 Email: info@helpforhorses.com Website: www.helpforhorses.com

Barefoot Trimming, Hoof Clinic & Equine Wellness Center

Elizabeth Swank Harrisonburg, VA USA Phone: (540) 434-5286 Lei Ryan Mount Jackson, VA USA Phone: (540) 477-2489 Natural Hoofcare Services Anne Buteau Shipman, VA USA Phone: (434) 263-4946 Email: annebuteau@yahoo.com

Have faith in the healing powers of nature

Rebecca Beckstrom Weyers Cave, VA USA Phone: (540) 234-0959


Pat Wagner Rainier, WA USA Phone: (360) 446-8699 Leslie Walls Ridgefield, WA USA Phone: (360) 887-0529 Email: barehooflcw@yahoo.com

Conde Pantoje Molalla, OR USA Phone: (503) 502-1102 Email: betteroffbarefoot@yahoo.com Website: www.betteroffbarefoot.us Windhorse Creations Mavis Pas Oakridge, OR USA Phone: (541) 782-3561 Website: www.windhorse-creations.com

G & G Farrier Service London, TX USA Phone: (325) 265-4250

Eddie Drabek El Campo, TX USA Phone: (979) 578-8913 Website: www.drabekhoofcare.com

Maureen Gould Stanwood, WA USA Phone: (360) 629-5153 Email: maureen@forthehorse.net Website: www.forthehorse.net Cameron Bonner Wauna, WA USA Phone: (360) 895-2679

Barefoot Hoof Trimming – Shelters & Rescues — Wellness Resource Guide


Mike Stelske Eagle, WI USA Phone: (262) 594-2936 Anita Delwiche Greenwood, WI USA Phone: (715) 267-6404 Scott McConaughey Houlton, WI USA Phone: (715) 549-6380 FHL Horse Care Mark Stuber Ridgeland, WI USA Phone: (715) 949-1002 Email: fhlhorsecare@chibardun.net Website: ww.fhlhorsecare.com Triangle P Hoofcare Chad Bembenek Rio, WI USA Phone: (920) 992-6415 Email: trianglepenterprises@centurytel.net Website: www.trianglephoofcare.com The Natural Hoof Monica Meer Waukesha, WI USA Phone: (262) 968-9499 Email: monica@thenaturalhoof.com Website: www.thenaturalhoof.com



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Fancy footwork Looking for a smoother ride? Know where your horse’s feet are, and when to apply your cues. by Scot Hansen

Photo: ©Mohdhaka | Dreamstime.com


f you’ve ever watched any high level equestrian competition, you’ve probably noticed how harmonious the horse and rider teams appear. You’ve probably also seen how the riders seem to know just when to ask their horse for that next movement.


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Most riders soon learn to push all the “buttons” on their horses to make them go forward, sidepass, trot, canter, and come down to a stop, but few ever learn to do this in time with their horse’s feet. Understanding where your equine partner’s feet are, and when to apply the

next cue, can mean the difference between a so-so horse and one that seems to float through transitions.

with the ground. When all three beats have occurred it is generally called a canter stride; if you were asked to do

If you want your horse to understand your cues better, and get a softer response, then you need to know how your horse’s feet work.

The walk is a four beat gait. If the horse starts off with the right hind, then the next foot to move is the

three canter strides, your horse would move all four feet in the above manner three consecutive times. Continued on next page. right front, then the left hind, then the left front, and the process repeats itself.

The trot is a two beat gait. When the horse trots, her two opposite feet move at the same time. When your

horse’s right hind moves forward, the left front moves forward at the same time. Then the left hind and the right front move together and land together. Since the opposite feet move at the same time, they are often referred to as diagonals.

The canter/lope is a three beat gait. A right lead canter consists of the left hind leg driving, the right hind and left front landing, then the right front coming into contact

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The gallop

is a four beat gait. If your horse starts with the left hind then the footfalls are left hind, right

Photo: ©Arman Zhenikeyev | Dreamstime.com

hind, left front, right front. If your horse starts off with the right hind, the following sequence would be left hind, right front, then left front.

The back-up is a two beat gait. It works the same as the trot, except your horse is moving backwards. In other words, two feet move at exactly the same time, but in reverse. While riding, do not let your horse try to walk backwards using a four beat gait. If your horse is trying to do this, it is because she is dragging her energy and her feet.

Timing is all The only time you can truly influence your horse’s feet is when they move and are in the air. More importantly, you must influence them during the first part of the stride when the horse lifts her foot, and not as she sets it down. Each stride consists of a lift, an apex (top of the stride/footfall) and a return to the ground. Ideally, for the smoothest cues and transitions, you must influence your horse’s foot before it reaches the apex of the stride and starts down. Once your horse’s foot starts towards the ground it is difficult to change its direction.

apply pressure just as your horse’s left front leg starts to leave the ground and she will want to move it forward and over to the left. If you wait until she has set the left front on the ground it will be more difficult for her, since the next foot to naturally move is her right hind, then her right front, then her left hind and finally her left front again. Applying the cue as the other feet leave the ground will either be met with resistance or result in a different outcome. For instance, if you apply the same cue just as the right foot comes off the ground, you should influence your horse to cross her right foot in front of or over her left front. The left front will be slightly back as the right goes forward, allowing the right to cross in front of it; and remember that after the right front falls the next step is the left rear, which then pushes the left front forward again. If you want to influence the hind end of your horse, then naturally you would cue her when the hind feet are moving. If you want the hind end to move to the right, then you need to use your left leg behind the girth and cue her just as the left hind leg lifts from the ground. This causes the left hind leg to step further under the horse and moves her to the right. Unlike the front, it is more difficult to time this with the other foot or in this case the right hind foot. This is because the barrel of the horse swings to the left to allow the right hind foot to move forward, and pushing against the barrel with your left leg as the right hind lifts off the ground will shorten the stride as much as it will cause the right hind to reach out to the right. By understanding the footfall patterns of your horse, you can adjust your cues to be more in time with her feet. Whether you’re going at the walk, trot, canter or gallop, applying your cues at the right times will improve your horse’s responsiveness and smooth out her transitions.

You can now use this information to influence your horse’s movement in correct timing with her feet. Let’s use the walk as an example. Scot Hansen is a retired Mounted Police Officer who travels throughout the U.S.

Walk this way As your horse walks, you can influence the direction by moving either the hind end or the front end. Let’s say you want to move the shoulders to the left. By using your right leg at the girth or just ahead of it,


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giving clinics and performing at many major horse expos. His experience in training police horses is reflected in his horsemanship and sensory training clinics. Scot created an award-winning

DVD entitled Self Defense For Trail Riders

that teaches women about safety while riding alone, and has been

RFD TV and Horse City TV. To see all his training DVDs and clinic schedule, visit www.horsethink.com.

interviewed on

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From Agony to ecstasy

Pick up your feet!

Does your horse hate having his feet handled? Teach him how to accept it in a way that’s safe and relaxed for both of you. by Bob Jeffreys


o one likes being kicked. Picking up a young horse’s feet, or even those of an older horse that has never been properly taught, can be a traumatic experience for him, and sometimes dangerous for you. Anyone handling a horse is also teaching that horse, so it’s vital that you teach him to “give” you his foot in a safe and relaxed way, whenever you ask for it.

A thoughtful approach Because they are prey animals with a flight response to real or perceived danger, many horses are initially reluctant to “give” their feet. Their very survival depends on their ability to flee from a potential predator or dangerous situation. In contrast, when we are confronted with something new, we walk straight up to it, look at it, touch it, or otherwise engage it. This difference in approach is most aptly reflected in the act of trying to pick up a horse’s foot. If we walk right up to him, grab his leg, pinch his tendons or chestnuts, and try to pull the foot off the ground, we might be in for a long day. But if we act a little more like a horse by “asking” him to pick up his foot, we could turn the situation around in a very short time.

Remember, don’t grab the foot; just cup it, and he won’t fear being trapped.

Shifting his weight Start by introducing yourself to the horse with some kind words. Then begin sacking out the horse with your hands all over his body, getting him used to your touch


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Be gentle and work more underneath the horse, rather than bringing the foot forward, backward or to the side, even though that would be more comfortable for you. and building his trust in you. Make sure you can touch him anywhere, including his legs and hooves, without him flinching or being scared. Now apply just a little pressure on his shoulder until he shifts his weight slightly away from your push. When he does, reward him with praise and release the pressure to let him know he did what you wanted. When he takes weight off the foot you want to pick up every time you ask, you can proceed with the next step.

Lifting the foot •When asking for the left front foot, use your shoulder to press on the horse’s shoulder until he shifts his weight off that foot. •Place your left hand between his front legs, just above the back of his knee. Lift up, but only about half an inch or so; you are just bending a weightless leg at the knee joint, which will raise the foot off the ground. •As it comes up, cup the hoof in your right hand and let it rest there for a few seconds before returning it gently to the ground. •Repeat many times, praising the horse each time. •You can now begin to transfer the hoof to your left hand so you can work on it with your right hand.

Remember, don’t grab the foot; just cup it, and he won’t fear being trapped. •Repeat the procedure on the right front foot.

The hind feet •Use a similar approach to lift the hind feet. To pick up the left hind, step in close to the horse by his flank area and apply pressure on his hip, first with your hand and then your shoulder, until he shifts his weight. •Then slip your left hand between his legs, down to just below his hock. Lift the foot gently off the ground. •When he’ll pick it up every time you ask, cup it in your right hand, then place it back on the ground, releasing it gently. •Reverse directions and repeat on the other side. This lesson will probably take an hour or so, and will help your horse balance on three legs, giving you a light leg that is easy to hold because he is supporting his own weight so you don’t have to. Be gentle and work more underneath the horse, rather than bringing the foot forward, backward or to the side, even though that would be more comfortable for you. Keep in mind the horse is still in the learning phase at this point, and you’re setting the tone for how he will accept having his feet handled for the rest of his life. The result? A relaxed, trusting and comfortable horse, and a safe working environment for you. Bob Jeffreys and Suzanne Sheppard, founders of Two as One Horsemanship, appear nationwide at expos and clinics teaching people how to bring out the best in their horses. Visit them at www.TwoasOneHorsemanship.com.

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Have gum elevator, will travel Distance is no barrier for this equine dentist. From the Yukon to South America, he spans half the globe to look after horses’ teeth. by Dorothy E. Noe


t a youthful 55, Cliff Hanna is not a boisterous, good-ol’-boy, slap-on-the-back kinda guy. He is a quiet, watchful man and it suits his profession well. He works inside the mouths of horses. Though based in Canada’s Yukon with five Percheron/Quarterhorses, Cliff’s bags are always packed for travel. Once a professional pack trip outfitter, he now journeys to South America with Nicola (his wife) every winter to inspect equine incisors.

Where do you practice equine dentistry?

CH: I live and work in the Yukon in northwestern Canada. We travel quite extensively, offering our services throughout northern British Columbia and Alberta. Nicola travels with me and assists. In recent years we have traveled to Belize and Ecuador, and have a growing business in Ecuador.

How did you wind up practicing in Ecuador?


had been interested in South America and Ecuador in particular for some years. We live in a part of the world that gets pretty wintry and decided we


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would like to explore the possibility of spending some winter months in warmer climates. As horses are our passion, it was natural to look into what was happening in Ecuador horse-wise. We discovered there were a lot of horses and not much horse dentistry. The horse owners we contacted in Ecuador encouraged us to bring our tools – and the work began! It was very rewarding as the people and vets we worked with were very supportive and interested in learning more. Our single biggest challenge was helping horse people understand the benefits of having their horses’ teeth cared for. This has been the same anywhere we have worked.

Where did you receive your training?

CH: I had my initial training in 1990 in Nebraska. It was the only school of its kind at that time and people from all over the world were there. Today, the school is in Idaho and is called the Academy of Equine Dentistry. Since then, I have taken numerous upgrading courses and seminars regarding different aspects of equine dentistry. There are now several schools in the U.S. and one very good one in Canada, as well as training facilities in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. But the real training comes from the horses. Learning what they need and trying different ways to solve their dental difficulties is an ongoing educational process. Like any profession, you never stop learning.

What is the most common problem you deal with?

CH: The most common situation is removing the sharp edges and points on the molars. The molar tables are not horizontal like ours – they sit at about a 12o slope – and a horse chews sideways, thus grinding one set of molars against the other. This grinding process slowly wears the face off the molars. This wear tends to leave a sharp edge on the high side of the molar table. In the case of the upper molars, the sharp edge develops on the outside of the tooth next to the cheeks. On the bottom molars, the sharpness develops on the inside of the molars next to the tongue.

If a horse has prominent cusps (vertical ridges on the outer edge of the molar), these will develop specific points on the sharp edge of the molar as it wears. So it is possible for a horse to have a row of sharp points all along his upper molars against the inside of his cheeks, and on the lower molars all along the inside next to his tongue. Beyond this, there is a whole list of possible difficulties: crowding in the mouth causing upper and lower molars not to meet properly; lower molar arcades that don’t line up with upper ones causing specific hooks in the front or back of the mouth; missing or broken teeth; wolf teeth; retained baby caps; incisor alignment difficulties and tack or bit related problems.

Is there a prescribed procedure for common problems, or have you developed your own over time?

CH: Common problems usually have a procedure that best solves them. Having said that, there is often a unique


1. Before any work is done on your horse, be sure you understand what is going to be done and why. No horse owner should okay a procedure if she does not understand the reason for it and what is involved. A good dentist will be happy to explain this for you.

2. Every horse having dental work done should have a detailed chart made out showing the horse owner what was found, what was done and what follow-up procedures may be needed.

3. To get good information, you need to ask

good questions. Beware of a dentist who doesn’t have time to answer your questions to your satisfaction.

equine wellness


tissue around this area of the head when I’m done with the work. Most horses like this kind of attention very much. It probably feels good!

Describe how you work with an un-sedated horse.

CH: I prefer to handle horses withCliff Hanna provides a much-needed service for horses in Ecuador. Here he works on the mouth of one of his patients.

situation that requires us to be innovative. Like most professionals, equine dentists develop individual techniques and methods that work best for them to get the job done. The end results, however, are likely to be fairly standard – namely a pain-free mouth that allows the horse to function with comfort and ease in his particular riding discipline.

Are any of your procedures actually pleasurable for the horse?

CH: The only true answer to this would have to come from the horses! However, we do often see horses “get into” the sound and rhythm of the floats filing on their teeth. Many times, once the horse feels the painful sharp points or edges being removed, he will literally lean into the instrument as I’m working in his mouth. It’s almost as if he is saying, “Here, get this one, too!” There are times where a horse has quite a bit of stress on one or both of his jaw joints because of malocclusion problems in the mouth. Where the upper and lower jaws meet, the temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) can be inflamed or sore as a result. When this is the case, I will take a few minutes to rub and soften up the


equine wellness

out drugs if possible, but there are cases where drugs are necessary to do the best job for the horse. Drugging a horse just because you can is not a good enough reason to do so. It is one more cost for the owner and one more physical factor the horse has to deal with. Many times it is not required to get the job done. Because a horse’s teeth (molars especially) have the nerve and pulp chamber deep in the roots, they do not have the same sensitivity as human molars do. The part of the tooth you see above the gum line is solid. This is an important factor as horses literally grind their lower molars against the upper ones to chew their food. If their teeth had the same sensitivity as ours, it would hurt them to chew this way. A side benefit of this feature is that we are able to file and shape a molar without it being painful for the horse. He will feel the vibration of the tools but not any pain. Therefore, it is possible to do general float work in a horse’s mouth without the need of drugs. The horse does need to cooperate, though! This is where horsemanship and a bag full of little tricks and techniques come into play. I approach the horse with the idea of getting a feel for how he might be to work with, and also in a way that will give him a chance to “meet” me and get an understanding of my confidence and intent. Doing this well, with sensitivity to the horse, is the most important part. Gaining a horse’s trust in the first few minutes allows you to work in his mouth with little fear or resistance. Depending on the horse, I will introduce the steps and tools slowly at first until I see he is able to handle

having me work in his mouth. Often, if a horse has any sharp points or hooks that are uncomfortable or even painful, it is not unusual to see the “light come on” as he realizes that what I’m doing in his mouth is helping. The cooperation level often increases considerably after this awareness. Lots of horses are packing serious pain and discomfort in their mouths and are very grateful to have it solved for them.


1. Notice what is normal and be alert to deviations. For example, a horse that normally eats quickly suddenly takes longer to eat; unusual tilting of the head or exaggerated movement of the lower jaw while eating.

2. Note changes in the horse’s behavior while being ridden, such as reluctant flexing or turning more readily one way but not the other.

What is the most difficult part of the job?

CH: The most challenging part is dealing with

long-established dental problems.

4. Check your horse’s manure to see if the horse is chewing his feed well. The fibers should all be about ½” long and looking like they were systematically chopped to the same length. Numerous fibers an inch or more long is a pretty sure sign that his teeth are not doing the job they should.

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Why did you write a book about horse dentistry?

CH: From the very beginning of my practice, I found I was spending a lot of time explaining horse dentistry to our customers. We started doing one-day dental awareness seminars to help fill this need. Eventually, we decided that using a book format and making it available over the Internet would reach more people effectively and broaden our

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the horse owners! A lot of people are not crazy about human dentistry and often transpose this nervousness to their horses. This can complicate the horse-handling part of the work. Secondly, a lot of horse owners don’t know much about what is involved with horse dentistry and/or have misconceptions of what to expect. As a result, we spend considerable time explaining to horse owners the “whys” and “hows” of horse dentistry. This is not a bad thing! On the contrary – we encourage horse people to ask questions. In fact, I tell them it is their responsibility to ask, and to be sure they understand the answers they get. I do not consider this to be difficult, though it can be challenging sometimes!

3. If your horse is getting too thin it may indicate



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to ask your Vet or horse dentist about your horse’s teeth 1. If your horse is five years old or

3. If your horse is older (17 years

molars are in balance with each other. This is important to the overall workability of the mouth.

2. If your horse is mature (over five

and up), ask about any missing or dead molars.

5. Ask if the horse needs help

years), ask about the condition of his molars, if there are prominent cusps

4. Ask if your horse’s incisors and

with anything and how much follow-up work will be necessary.

younger, ask about the status of his adult tooth development. Horses are changing teeth until they are five years old.

or misaligned teeth, and hooks on the molars in the back or front.

FREE BACK ISSUES! Buy a 2-year subscription to Equine Wellness Magazine and get the first year of back issues FREE on CD!

outreach. Thus The Horse Dentistry Handbook was born. It is presently available as a downloadable e-book right off our website (thehorsedentistry handbook.com). To date we have sold copies in ten different countries and have received a lot of good feedback.

Topics include: disease prevention natural alternative treatments natural diets and nutrition latest trends in integrative therapies product recommendations natural horsemanship, and so much more!

Cliff encourages his clients to ask questions about equine dentistry.

We are now in the process of launching a second book specifically about telling a horse’s age by its teeth. Aging horses is an old horseman’s skill that got lost for the most part through the last century, but is coming back. It is the root of the saying “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” – to do that would suggest you were checking the horse’s age and therefore its value, and that could be an insult to the giver.





$35 CAN. 07 value) (18 issues – $1

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1-866-764-1212 www.EquineWellnessMagazine.com 9am– 5pm E.S.T.


Your natural

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Dorothy Noe is a retired special education teacher who has been freelance writing for over

20 years. When not writing, traveling,

kayaking, hiking or biking, she is trail riding on her horse, moving to

Mirasol. They will soon be New Mexico.

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Balancing act Structural imbalances don’t always originate with the horse. What you don’t know about yourself could be what’s wrong with your equine partner!


ost riders spare no expense in caring for their horses, often neglecting themselves in the process. But did you know your own structural health directly impacts your horse’s performance and well being?

by Dr. Wendy Coren

Are you the cause? Whether you are a jumper, reiner, dressage rider or backyard trail rider, you know that balance and freedom of motion are key to a successful ride. But it’s surprising how few equestrians recognize what effect the fixations within their own bodies have on the motion of their well-tuned horses. The best horses compensate for their riders, but the spinal contortions this requires can lead directly to deterioration. When a rider is off enough, she leaves a visible impression on the horses she rides. To aid you in identifying the signs and symptoms of rider induced imbalance, we present the following two cases from our own experiences.

A rider’s fixations can be just as limiting as those within the horse’s own structure. Case #1 – Matching fixations

Photo: ©Evgeniy Gorbunov | Dreamstime.com

During a recent barn call we were asked to check 20 horses. Three had identical presentations: rib pain on the right, withers tender on both sides, and difficulty flexing at the poll. While any one of these conditions is fairly common, to find three horses that match 100% in their diagnoses is not. Thus it was no surprise that these three (and only these three) belonged to the same rider.


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We asked to see him, and over walked a young man with his head held far in front of his body, chin jutting out, short-stepping in his stride. Checking the strength in his legs revealed he was much weaker on the left and could not adduct (squeeze inward). This conformation often means the rider holds on too tight with the dominant leg, causing pain in the horse’s ribs and a preference for that lead. The forward head

posture results in too much weight forward in the saddle, which in turn compresses the withers equally on both sides. The general lack of lower body strength causes the rider to hang on with his upper body – fixating the poll.

Case # 2 – The repeat fixation A rider called us to check her horse because he was swapping leads behind and could not track a straight line. His pelvis was stuck on the right side and there was very little motion in his left shoulder. These two issues fit the symptoms the rider described, and after an adjustment, the horse cleared out and went well for several days. A week later, the rider was back on the phone reporting the same issues. This time we came prepared with more equipment – video and still cameras for complete Lack of biomechanical analysis.

Becoming aware Many riders show signs of imbalance that negatively impact their horses, but often do nothing about it because they cannot see the problems in themselves. If a horse wears out a shoe, the farrier is called immediately for correction, because we all know that neglect can have serious consequences! Look at your own shoes; see if they wear evenly. If your boots wear out differently on one side relative to the other, it is impossible to ride with ideal balance. Even if this imbalance originated in your horse (perhaps you ride consistently on a horse with a weaker side) it will eventually translate to your structure, and then impact every other horse you ride.

If the spine or any of the extremities are “kinked”, then messages from the brain do not flow freely to the rest of the awareness is body. You may only glimpse this the most significant effect when a trainer says, “drop The second spinal evaluation your shoulders” or “breathe” factor in human induced equine revealed the same fixations, or “keep your heels down and imbalance. It is like a hose with which again cleared after adjustmore leg.” Yet you know you a kink in it; water dribbles out ment. It was time to observe the are holding that leg on as hard team in action, since there was no and the garden suffers. as you can! If you apply 100% obvious reason for these subluxof your strength and talent, but ations within the horse. At the only 50% of the message gets walk and trot, the horse moved freely without any signs there, your performance and your horse will suffer. of discomfort or restriction. But when the rider got on, a new pattern presented – the horse’s tail pinned to the left If you want to perform at the highest level of your and the right side of the pelvis locked up. Viewing the sport, or simply find the most effective way to spend footage in slow motion revealed a startling picture. This a limited budget on horse and human health care, recogrider placed all her weight in her left leg and seat bone. nizing when you are the cause of your horse’s “dis-ease” The stirrup on that side had been stretched almost two is essential. That way, your horse won’t have to compenholes longer than the right, and the wear pattern on her sate for rider issues that are so easily fixed! tall boots showed much more rubbing on the right side (from hanging on). When a professional rider was later Dr. Wendy Coren and Dr. David Lundquist received their doctorplaced on the horse, the horse’s tail swung freely from ates from New York Chiropractic College and National College side to side and all restriction in the pelvis disappeared. of Chiropractic respectively. They continued their education in Options for Animals in Wellsville, Kansas, receiving certification from the AVCA (American Veterinary Chiropractic Association). veterinary orthopractic manipulation with

The only way for us to leave a lasting improvement on this horse’s performance was to correct the rider’s alignment. Her own pelvic imbalance was causing a large discrepancy between the contact pressures of her right and left legs. This conformation not only gives false aids, but also restricts the horse’s sacrum enough to cause lasting fixation. In this case, despite numerous visual and performance-related clues, the rider had no idea she was this imbalanced, or that she could have such a dramatic influence on her horse.

They have both been in private practice in the states of Connecticut Florida for over 25 years each, and have lectured extensively


throughout the world on various topics of chiropractic health and communication. Both doctors served as team teachers with Parker Chiropractic College.

Co-Founders of Equalign Chiropractic Systems LLC, Drs. Coren and Lundquist have devised a structural health program for horse and rider to promote lifetime wellness and enhance performance. Clients participating in their program represent all levels of competition from novice to A Circuit and numerous disciplines of riding.

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Natural feet Hoof angles are important, but a good barefoot trim considers the whole horse.

Photo: ŠToby_s | Dreamstime.com

By Carol Lewis

Shod at one time, the hoof above is now barefoot and working through the rehabilitative process.


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hat constitutes a correct barefoot trim? This is the most frequently asked question I hear from clients. This question is like a lightning rod for me. I am passionate about horses having good, sound, functional feet. I am also pro-natural, and prefer a horse to be barefoot.


Geometric balance measures the horse’s foot while at rest. It observes that the foot is trimmed so the ground

Taking another angle It was once believed that hoof balance should be based on degree measurement, or hoof angles. Hoof balance includes many aspects of a horse’s conformation and movement, and research has brought to light new ideas and concepts about it. The most popular one today is the Dorsal-Palmar balance system. This method relies on using an imaginary continuous line which runs down the center of each pastern and hoof, from the top of the pastern to the ground. If this line is continuous and unbroken, it is considered to be an “ideal” angle. Traditionally, the hoof angle referred to the angle created by the front (Dorsal surface) of the hoof and the ground (Palmar surface). Desirable angles were between 45º to 50º for the fronts and 50º to 55º for the hinds. Thanks to intensive study on feral mustangs and the current barefoot movement, it’s becoming generally agreed that in reality these angles are far too low. A more representative range of hoof angles is 53º to 58º for the fronts and 55º to 60º for the hinds. The hoof angle is considered correct when the hoof and pastern are in alignment. That is, when the front surface of the hoof is parallel to an imaginary line passing through the center of the pastern.

surface of the hoof is perpendicular to the long axis of the limb. This does not take into consideration the stacking of the bones and joints, and how the landing pattern of the foot affects the physiological relationship between the conformation of the foot and the leg it is attached to.


Dynamic balance implies that a balanced foot should land symmetrically, so the force of the landing is spread

uniformly across the solar surface of the hoof wall. Almost no horses can be trimmed to land flat without risk of injury.


Natural balance was recently introduced by barefoot trimmers, who feel that foot conformation should be modeled after the foot seen on feral horses.

Each horse is an individual and the “correct” or “ideal” angle may not work best for all horses, or even for all four feet on the same horse. Three areas of balance Hoof balance can be broken down into geometric, dynamic and natural balance. These three areas may be mutually exclusive, and it may not be possible to satisfy all of them simultaneously.

Consider breakover Breakover is the phase of stride between the time the horse’s heel lifts off the ground, and the time the toe lifts off the ground. Everyone talks about breakover but almost no one considers the effects of altering it. The toe is like a fulcrum, and just before breakover the equine wellness


High or low heels? Too low a heel: A heel that’s too low in relation to toe length causes coffin joint extension, increases strain on the deep digital flexor tendon, and promotes toe-first landing. This causes the soft tissue structures associated with the navicular bone to undergo stress damage, delays the speed of breakover, and compromises circulation in the heel area, contributing to navicular syndrome, chronic heel pain (bruising), coffin joint inflammation, quarter and heel cracks and interference problems.

suspensory ligament to the navicular bone and the impar ligament are under maximal stress. If you randomly alter toe length, hoof/pastern axis, or hoof angle, this alters the tensile forces on the deep digital flexor tendon. A shorter toe, such as is seen on feral horses, is generally preferred over the longer toe that “traditional” trimming recommends. Research has also found that longer toes encourage lamina tearing, which in turn results in hoof distortion. A whole host of lameness issues arises from this. However, you cannot just go from long to short in one trim. When trimming, less is more! Slow gradual change over several trimmings allows the ligaments and tendons to adjust to this new balancing act without injury.

A traditional trim In a typical pasture trim, the heels are left long. This encourages contraction and can lead to navicular pain. The toe callous is trimmed away, leaving the tip of the coffin bone unprotected. The walls are flat and left higher than the sole so they have to support the entire weight of the horse. Flares are often ignored, which puts strain on the laminar connection and results in poor suspension of the coffin bone. This makes the horse more susceptible to laminitis. Trimming is often carried out on an infrequent basis, so the hooves are often not in an optimum state.

The barefoot trim

Too high a heel: If the angle of the dorsal hoof wall is higher than the angle of the dorsal pastern, a brokenforward hoof pastern axis is created. This is often diagnosed as “club foot”, and in many cases may be caused by poor trimming resulting in extremely upright pasterns. A high hoof angle causes coffin joint flexion, promotes heel-first landing, and increases pressure in the heel. Some injuries associated with a high hoof angle are coffin joint inflammation due to abnormal loading of this joint, sole bruising, and increased strain on the suspensory ligaments of the navicular bone. 66

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When I trim a horse, I ask to see where he spends his leisure time. I have the owner walk him away from and towards me, to see how he moves. I then have a really good look at all four feet, watching for wear. I measure the hooves at their widest points and record these measurements in the horse’s file, as well as the last date they were trimmed, and the owner’s assessment of how much the horse has been worked since the last trim. On each hoof, I chalk on the solar surface and up the hoof horn to mark the breakover.

•I trim frog, sole and bars only where necessary to remove loose, exfoliating material. If I see that debris is packing into the clefts and under the edges of the frog, I will trim the frog just enough to facilitate cleaning and minimize the chances of thrush. •Next, I lightly pare the sole along the sole wall junction (white line) to determine the amount of hoof wall to be removed. I try never to use hoof nippers; I instead prefer the fine control of the rasp. It might take longer, but the rasp is a much more forgiving and exacting tool. •If I do use the nippers, I never cut the hoof wall at the heel. I rasp the heels according to the conformation of each foot. I never trim the heels below the ground surface of the frog. •If I need to "back up" the toe, I back it off to no more than the thickness of the hoof wall.

•I take great care to leave the frog level with the ground surface of the wall at the heels. •Many farriers remove a thin layer of sole at the sole-wall junction, saying this ensures there is no sole pressure. I do not pare away any of the sole. Nature will allow a healthy sole to develop its own concavity as it grows a protective callous. If we pare away what protective layer the horse has, we expose that tender under-tissue, leaving the horse touchy and open to stone bruising. If we leave the sole on, it will slough off on its own when no longer required for protection.

A lot of lameness could be prevented or treated through proper diet, training and conditioning – and good farriery. What about the competition horse? Barefoot horses are competing in every field of athletics, all over the world. If a horse is conformation-compromised and needs more time in transition before he can be worked barefoot, you can choose from a staggering array of hoof boots. And by providing a variety of footing in a horse’s environment, you give him the tools to build better feet. What we do to the hoof through trimming and shoeing affects the internal foot structures and the leg. The horse should have a foot/shoe configuration that matches his size, conformation and limb motion, as well as his athletic endeavor. Sound physiological shoeing can only be achieved by thorough knowledge, and a strict adherence to and skillful application of that knowledge. I consider hoof trimming to be an art form, and have found that I rarely “paint the same picture” twice. I let the whole horse tell me the story of the trim his feet need. Although I keep track of the angles and details, they are not as important to me as the freedom of a horse with happy feet. Horses are born barefoot, and if we care for them with compassion and understanding, they can enjoy sound, happy lives barefoot!

Carol Lewis lives and works in Central Saanich on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She is an Equine Service Provider and artist as well as Host Mother to ESL students from all over the world. As a graduate of the University of Guelph Equine Science Certificate, and an active member of her local equine community, she encourages horse owners to become educated and informed about current research-based information on equine health care. Her business, Xqizit Horse Health Services, a division of Xqizit Art, educates and assists horse owners in ensuring their equine companions get the best care possible, based on scientific research and current information.

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Book reviews

Whole Horse Herbs™ Chinese herbal formulas for horses Custom blended & individualized herbal formulas to meet your horse’s unique needs

Classic herbal formulas: • Movement & Flexibility • Performance & Show • Increased endurance • EPM & ERU support • Immunity support • Calming & Focus Veterinarian tested & recommended. Endorsed by performance horse trainers and owners



Title: Author:

Riding for Life Rallie McAllister, MD

“For women with a passion for horses, remaining strong, supple, and healthy is essential,” writes family physician and horse trainer Dr. Rallie McAllister in the introduction to her new book Riding for Life: A Horsewoman’s Guide to Lifetime Health & Fitness. In order to get the most out of your partnership with your horse, she stresses, you need to pay as much attention to your own health as you do to his. This comprehensive guide includes a questionnaire that helps you identify and overcome barriers to optimal health and fitness, as well as a wholesome, balanced eating program designed to meet a female equestrian’s unique nutritional needs. You’ll also find a step-by-step guide to maximizing performance, and effective time management tools for busy horsewomen with overcrowded schedules. If you’re a female equestrian with an interest in health and fitness, this book is a must for you.

Publisher: Eclipse Press


The Path of the Horse

In search of a deeper relationship with horses, successful traditional trainer Stormy May gave up her equine facility and business and sought out equine professionals who have achieved a higher level of communication with their horses. They include Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Alexander Nevzorov, Carolyn Resnick, Linda Kohanov, Mark Rashid, and Kim McElroy. What follows is a fascinating and inspirational journey across two continents. The Path of the Horse is a DVD that documents Stormy May’s revelations and what each professional believes is necessary to better understand horses on a higher level. The narrative is supported by beautiful footage of horses interacting in their herd environment and working with humans – both on their own and in an instructional setting with the featured professionals.

The Path of the Horse is a thought provoking documentary for anyone who wants to develop “something more” with their horses. Publisher: Stormy May Productions


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Dr. Valeria Breiten is a healer, teacher and radio personality in the Phoenix area. She has a practice in Chandler, Arizona where she specializes in classical homeopathy, nutrition, herbs and listening closely. She is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor and Registered Dietitian. Her down to earth style integrates her multiple life experiences. Author of Naturally Healthy at Home. This book is for sale and shipping from Dr. Breiten’s office.

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immune one™ Healing Balm penetrates well, doesn’t leave a heavy, greasy layer on the skin, and quickly softens and removes crust. With appropriate cleansing and treatment the balm “does a fantastic job, even with difficult, heavily scabbed fungal infections” as noted in July 2000 Horse Journal. Treatment should be combined with ingestion of the immune one™ arabinogalactan powder if the problem has become systemic.

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schools & training CANINE BODY WORKER AND EQUINE BODY WORKER CERTIFICATION Serious hands on training from leading specialists and veterinarians for hands on work. Progressive certifications beginning at 250 hours to the Master’s series of over 2000 hours. CEU courses offered: advanced massage, MFR, CST, acupressure, anatomy, and more. USA and worldwide Visit: www.equinology.com and www.caninology.com Write: office@equinology.com or call 707 884 9963 EQUISSAGE – The Oldest “Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification Program” is now available in the New England States and New York, through Equissage – NE/NY. www.equissage-ne-ny.com, equisportmt@sbcglobal.net, 860-564-7759 EQUINE ACUPRESSURE PAIN RELEASE 2-DAY WORKSHOP – First weekend of every month in Mt. Airy, Maryland. Learn to locate your horses’ pain points and relieve them using Acupressure Application. Amazing hands on workshop using techniques no one has ever seen! Endorsed by Equissage. Portion of proceeds go to www.horsenethorserescue.com. Certificate upon completion. Only $500! Book now – classes fill up fast. Email naturalhorselb@gmail.com or visit www.happynaturalhorse.com



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Equine Wellness Magazine reserves the right to refuse any advertising submitted, make stylistic changes or cancel any advertising accepted upon refund of payment made.


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Events January 29-February 1 – Pomona, CA Fairplex Complex Equine Affaire The 9th annual Equine Affaire in the West will draw tens of thousands of horsepeople to enjoy a world-class educational program, extensive trade show, and Youth and Breed Pavilions, as well as an entertaining and informative competition.

Since Acupressure is based on TCM, we will explore this ancient science and guide you in learning how to help your animals feel their best.Students studying either Equine or Small Animal Acupressure may attend this course.

For more information: (740) 845-0085 swinland@equineaffaire.com www.equineaffaire.com

February 16-19 – Ft Myers, FL Meridians & Specific Conditions 1 & 2 – Equine or Small Animal This course is divided into two sections so that we can cover 6 of the 12 Major Meridians in each section. Following the categorization of the Five-Element Theory, the courses offer greater depth regarding the types of physical and psychological issues presented when particular meridians are not in balance.

January 30- February 1 – Nelsonville, OH Hocking College Equine Acupressure & Aromatherapy This course explores the use of Essential Oils with Acupressure and specific Acupressure Points. Students will receive a ‘starter’ set of oils that are used in acupressure for common equine conditions. The history and science of Oils is reviewed as well. Hands-on application & exercises. For more information: info@animalacupressure.com www.tallgrasspublishers.com February 14-15 – Ft Myers, FL Introduction to Equine or Small Animal Acupressure This course offers you the ability to perform a complete acupressure treatment protocol and an understanding of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concepts and theories underlying acupressure.

For more information: info@animalacupressure.com www.tallgrasspublishers.com

Participants will learn: indicators for each of the meridian imbalances; key acupressure points along each of the meridians; and Specific Condition Treatments for each of the 12 Major Meridians and two Extraordinary Vessels. For more information: info@animalacupressure.com www.tallgrasspublishers.com February 26-March 1 – Harrisburg, PA Farm Show Complex 7th Annual Pennsylvania Horse World Expo The 7th annual PA Horse World Expo will bring the nation’s leading equestrian

clinicians and entertainers to Harrisburg, PA, for four days of education, entertainment and shopping. For more information: info@horseworldexpo.com www.horseworldexpo.com March 26-April 3 – Aubrey, TX Shepherd Run Ranch Equine Body Worker Certification Course This 9-day, 97+hour course (a total of 250+hours with the required post course field work and precourse study), is taught by international instructor Ruth Mitchell Golladay, PT. It is specifically designed for those students wishing to pursue a career in the massage therapy field, but is also regularly attended by veterinarians, physical therapists, human massage therapists, equine massage therapists, trainers, barn managers, and chiropractors who would like to enhance their skills. The course is taught in such a comprehensive logical layered format, that those with little or no complementary equine care and science background will find themselves up to speed with the other professional participants. For more information: Paul Hougard 707-884-9963 office@equinology.com www.equinology.com

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


Your health

Holistic dental care by Dr. Valeria Breiten, NMD, RD


ust as your horse’s dental health is vital to his wellness, happiness and performance, so is yours. Dental issues can be incredibly irritating, especially when they occur on a weekend or after your dentist’s office hours!

Everyday basics The first step is to regularly clean and care for your teeth. It removes debris and stimulates blood circulation to the gums. Many people also use mouthwash on a daily basis. Listerine uses thyme as the active ingredient and taste contributor. Thyme is a marvelous herb for treating infections and bringing down swelling. Once, when I was out of town, I had a tooth flare up. I took two Echinacea and goldenseal capsules, then swished and spit Listerine every two hours until the discomfort went away, at which point I decreased treatment to three times a day. The tooth completely cleared up.

Helpful herbal hints For a gum or tooth root infection, mix Calendula off. and Hypericum perforatum tinctures and swish and swallow a dropperful three times a day after brushing and flossing. Another very helpful herb is the Aloe vera off. plant. It can speed gum healing. Cut off a 2” piece from the plant. Peel all the green off, leaving only the clear, jelly-like portion. At bedtime, tuck this chunk into the cheek above and against the infected gum. If you can sleep with it there, the herb will be gone in the morning. It has a lovely local healing effect – after a couple of nights, the gums will be much healthier. Some of aloe’s active ingredients get lost in commercial processing, so fresh is best.

Homeopathics for dental surgery Most people have a sore mouth after dental work or


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surgery. Homeopathic Arnica montana 30C or 200C is wonderful for speeding recovery. I have found it removes the soreness in my jaw and gums, plus aids in clearing away the numbness. Place three pellets under your tongue immediately after the dental work is finished, then take another dose if you need to an hour or two later.

Hypericum halts dental pain, and calendula improves lymphatic drainage. Both are also antimicrobial. For dental surgery, the 200C potency works so well that many people do not need any other pain medicine. By immediately taking three pellets under the tongue and then repeating the dose as soon as discomfort returns, most people are fine after three or four doses. Arnica also seems to improve circulation, so there isn’t the swelling, bruising or other after effects of surgery or tooth removal. Dental procedures can affect your diet. I had a patient who postponed years of dental care and had to have a lot of work done. As a result, he was not eating well because his mouth was in constant pain. He was drinking lots of tea, some soup and no fruits, vegetables or protein. We had him slow down and pace himself on the dental work so he could eat better. I encouraged him to puree fruits and vegetables into soups and increase his protein. We also had him use Arnica after each procedure to speed his healing time. Eating poorly will do you no favors, and your body will take longer to heal if you are not getting proper nutrition. Remember, look after your teeth, and they’ll look after you!

Dr. Valeria Breiten is a healer, teacher and radio She is a licensed naturopathic medical


doctor and registered dietitian practicing in

Chandler, Arizona. www.DrValeria.net

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equine wellness