V7I1 (Feb/Mar 2012)

Page 1

Equine wellness


Your natural resource!


special issue:

Equine Dentistry

Something to



Forage for special needs equines

Liability Contracts

Are you protected?

Get a handle on

whoa! Dental care for young horses

Chill Out!

The Science of


Calming hyper horses without drugs


Display until April 9, 2012 $5.95 USA/Canada


What your trimmer wants you to know EquineWellnessMagazine.com

equine wellness



equine wellness


Your natural resource!


Volume 7 Issue 1 Editorial Department Editor-in-Chief: Dana Cox Editor: Kelly Howling Editor: Ann Brightman Senior Graphic Designer: James Goodliff Graphic Designer: Dawn Cumbye-Dallin Cover Photography: Virg Onira Columnists & Contributing Writers Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Diplomate ACVSMR, MRCVS Hannah Evergreen, DVM Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS Lisa Huhn Jaime Jackson Nanette Levin Rachel Kosmal McCart Johanna Neuteboom Wendy Pearson, PhD Sherri Pennanen Anne Riddell Kerri-Jo Stewart, BPE, MSc Anna Twinney Erin Zamzow, DVM Administration Publisher: Redstone Media Group Inc. President/C.E.O.: Tim Hockley Associate publisher: John Allan Office Manager: Lesia Wright Communications: Libby Sinden IT: Brad Vader

Submissions: Please send all editorial material, advertising material, photos and correspondence to Equine Wellness Magazine, 202-160 Charlotte St. Peterborough, ON, Canada K9J 2T8. We welcome previously unpublished articles and color pictures either in transparency or disc form at 300 dpi.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.


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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: EquineWellnessMagazine.com Phone: 1-866-764-1212 US Mail: Equine Wellness Magazine, 6834 S University Blvd PMB 155 Centennial, CO 80122 CDN Mail: Equine Wellness Magazine, 202-160 Charlotte St., Peterborough, ON, Canada K9J 2T8. 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 libby@redstonemediagroup.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© 2012. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, without prior written permission of the publisher. Publication date: January 2012

Topics include: disease prevention natural diets and nutrition natural health care

product recommendations integrative Vet Q & A gentle training, and so much more!

Call or go online today – your animals will thank you!


9am– 5pm E.S.T.


On the cover photograph by:

Virg Onira Open wide! This sweet bay mare has no problems showing off her pearly whites to the world. Throughout this issue you will find several articles on how to keep your horse’s “smile” happy and healthy.

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


Contents 16


features 10 Reaching the runaway

It’s scary to be on a horse that’s taking off. Get to know why your horse is reacting this way, and you’ll be in a better position to prevent it.

14 Be a good client

The professionals who look after our horses are integral to their health and happiness, so you want to keep them happy too! Here’s how to be a top client for your trimmer.

16 Chill out!

Most of us associate the word “sedative” with chemicals. Here are some alternative relaxation tips and techniques to try when your horse gets over-excited or stressed.

20 Green on green

You’re a new rider who has bought a green horse, and have reached the point where you realize you’re in way over your head. Now what?


equine wellness

24 Open wide!

Your horse’s dentistry needs change as he develops and ages. Find out what he requires during the first five years of life.

32 Free school your way to whoa!

A good “whoa” is one of the most important things you can teach your horse. Doing so at liberty can help strengthen your communication skills.

36 Are you protected?

Most people think a standard equine liability release will protect them, but that may not be the case. Learn how to create a solid contract.

40 Something to chew on

Forage is a staple in any horse’s diet, and the best sources are natural grasses and hay. But if your horse has special needs, here are 8 alternatives for consideration.

48 The science of bitting – part 1 Bits are required in many competitive disciplines. With so many types to choose from, how do you select the best option for your horse? Let’s look at bit action and its effects on the horse’s mouth.

20 Columns

10 Departments

8 Neighborhood news

6 Editorial

30 The natural paradigm

23 Product picks

38 Book reviews

44 Equine Wellness resource guide

39 Hot to trot

53 Marketplace

52 Did you know?



54 Classifieds


14 equine wellness


editorial Acting your age W

orking on this issue and reading about teeth, aging and senior horses got me thinking about something I half-dread – my impending birthday. This year will be one of “those” birthdays. I’ll be “old” (yes, all the ladies at the barn laugh at me when I say this). I’m not going to get into actual numbers, but it’s what I’d refer to as a birthday that signifies there’s no turning back. You are absolutely an adult, no way around it, and no way to pretend anymore. But…I don’t want to “grow up”! I’m reminded of a conversation I had with one of my coaches not long ago. Our lessons happened to fall on Halloween, and I managed to convince some of the women I ride with that we should dress up in costume for our rides. I dressed up as a princess – and my steed was a “knight in shining armor”. Two of the inspirational women I ride with dressed themselves and their horses up as Raggedy Ann and Andy, and the devil’s ride. I say “inspirational” because some of these women are three times my age, can sit-trot circles around me in hardcore dressage lessons, and they do it all with dedication, humor, and grace. Our (very tolerant) coach got a good laugh out of it, and I said something to the effect of: “Really, deep down I’m all of about ten years old.” He responded: “Never let that change.” The message is that “age is just a number”, and our horses epitomize that. They don’t know how young or old they are (just ask the 28-year-old at the farm that still acts like a four-year-old!). They simply live in the moment and enjoy themselves. In fact, by not putting limitations on themselves or worrying about days, months or years, I’d wager they have a much brighter outlook on life than


equine wellness

The editor (left) with one of her client’s horses, Baron, and two of the inspiring women they ride with – Gale (60) and Kody, and Vi (71) with Bentley.

many humans, not to mention a heck of a lot more fun! For the young horses in your life, check out Dr. Erin Zamzow’s article on dentistry needs during the first five years of life (page 24). If you have a senior equine that is starting to slow down a bit and needs some help, be sure to read through Kerri-Jo Stewart’s article on forage substitutes (page 40), as well as this issue’s columns from Jaime Jackson (page 30) and Dr. Wendy Pearson (page 15). As for you, dear readers – make sure you do something that puts an extra spring in your step today. Skip rope, draw with crayons, have dessert first, go dancing – whatever brings a smile to your face! Naturally,

Kelly Howling, Editor

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Neighborhood news Behavior specialist honored Equine behaviorists play a valuable role in horse care. Sue McDonnell, PhD, the founding head of the Equine Behavior Program at Penn Vet, was recently honored with the George Stubbs Award from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). Dr. McDonnell’s work includes clinical, research and teaching activities focused on horse behavior. In addition to laboratory and field studies, she maintains a semi-feral herd of ponies specifically for the study of equine physiology and behavior under semi-natural conditions. The herd affords veterinary and animal behavior students the opportunity for long-term observation of equine social and developmental behavior, and for first-hand comparison of horse behavior under freerunning and traditional domestic conditions. “We are extremely proud of Dr. McDonnell,” said veterinarian Dr. Joan C. Hendricks, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Penn Vet. “She is a unique individual who brings an informed and enthusiastic approach to questions of natural behavior of equines and is world-renowned for her successful interventions into stallion reproductive behavioral problems. We have enormously benefited from her longstanding program.” vet.upenn.edu/research

Dust off your cameras! Announcing the 3rd Equine Wellness Photo Contest! Enter and you could win a fabulous prize! Winning photos will also appear in an upcoming issue of Equine Wellness Magazine, and on our Facebook page. What better way to pay tribute to your equine partner! For entry details, deadline, and our prize list, please visit our Facebook page – facebook.com/EquineWellnessMagazine.


equine wellness

Joe Weitekamp of Weitekamp Horse Training in Venus, Texas, helps make rescued horses more adoptable by volunteering his training services.

Every bit helps The weak economy, together with skyrocketing hay prices caused by the Texas drought, are exerting financial pressures on horse owners. Many cannot afford to feed their horses, and the animals are being abandoned in epidemic numbers. The lucky ones end up with rescue organizations, but their facilities are getting overcrowded and their budgets stretched to the limit. “The number of neglected horses has grown to staggering numbers,” says Sandy Grambort of the Humane Society of North Texas in Fort Worth. “We used to take in 20 or 30 horses a year; now we take in that many nearly every month.” But Joe Weitekamp, owner of Weitekamp Horse Training in Venus, Texas, is doing something to help. “Horses are a big part of my life so part of my philosophy in business is to give back to horses,” he explains. “As a professional trainer, the best way I can contribute is volunteering to work with horses in need to make them more adoptable. “Many of the horses landing in rescues are victims of hard times,” Joe adds. “I’ve been surprised at the number of well-bred horses and nice riding horses I’ve seen ending up in rescues.” weitekamphorsetraining.com or hsnt.org

Horse slaughter ban? Following the passage of the 2012 Agricultural Appropriations bill, the ASPCA is urging support of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (HR 2966/S 1176). It would stop the slaughter of American horses for human consumption by banning it in the US and prohibiting the transport of horses across American borders for slaughter in other countries. The passage of this legislation would end the current export and slaughter of approximately 100,000 American horses each year. Since 2005, the appropriations bill included language that prevented money from being used for USDA inspections at horse slaughterhouses. This year, Congress lifted the ban on funding horse meat inspections, thus allowing tax dollars to be used for inspections at slaughterhouses. “The majority of Americans are opposed to horse slaughter, and there is no domestic demand for horsemeat,” says Senator Mary Landrieu, D-LA. “Considering that the cost of humane euthanasia for a horse is equal to the cost of approximately one month’s care, it is inconceivable to me that a horse owner could not afford to put down a sick, injured or unwanted animal humanely.” aspca.org/AHSPA

World’s smartest horse! Lukas is the world’s smartest horse, according to the World Records Academy. He’s also a Guinness World Record Holder for being the horse to correctly identify the most numbers in one minute (19)! It’s thanks to Karen Murdock, a psychiatric nurse who rescued the neglected ex-racer and used her 27 years of professional experience to work with Lukas and help him reach his full potential.

Photo: © Sharon Fibelkorn

“Our goal has been to show how smart and wonderful animals are, and we’re glad to see this is being recognized,” says Karen, who is also dedicated to bringing awareness to the needs of other ex-racehorses. Lukas reached celebrity status after his debut on NBC, which was followed by appearances on CBS, ABC, CNN, HLN, Time Warner and Inside Edition. His YouTube channel (youtube. com/playingwithlukas) offers a wide variety of educational and entertaining videos including an American Horse Publications award-winning documentary. playingwithlukas.com

equine wellness


Reaching the

runaway It’s scary to be on a horse that’s taking off. Get to know why your horse is reacting this way, and you’ll be in a better position to prevent it.

by Nanette Levin


orses are big, fast animals, and sitting on one that’s running out of control is an unnerving experience. For many riders, all sense goes out the window while they simply try to regain some degree of control. If your horse begins to exhibit this behavioral issue, you need to ask yourself “why” in order to resolve the problem. Usually it’s due to fear, pain or confusion, which means ratcheting up the severity of the aids will often only escalate the problem. Disengaging the hindquarters (a popular mantra in the Western riding world) may work in a pinch, but it doesn’t address the causes of the behavior.

Less is often more Why is your horse not listening to you? Maybe you’re coming on too strong. Instead of incorporating devices for severe stop aids, consider a lighter bit, a softer hand, releasing cues, a looser tie-down or martingale (designed to prevent a horse from raising his head to a dangerous height – not to hold it in a certain place). Really think about how your horse responds to your requests. Removing the pressure increases understanding, so it’s no wonder intensifying pressure without release usually doesn’t work.


equine wellness

A single lesson with a qualified horse-savvy instructor may help you transform your out-of-control equine into a willing partner, once you understand how your horse’s response springs from what you’re doing.

Terrified of your run-off? First, calm down. If you’re tense, your horse is going to sense it and be on the alert. Also, stiffness in your body mutes meaningful aids, while escalating your equine’s anxiety levels. Take some deep breaths, sing, talk in a calm and reassuring voice, or find a stop barrier – whatever works to help you relax is a good first step. Many horses quiet down when rubbed along the crest of their necks. This can be effective when your horse “freezes” and you suspect a bolt might be next. Draw his attention back to his calm, confident rider (you) and help him believe you will handle the “monster” he’s just seen. Tightening the reins creates tension for both you and the horse. It also tips your body forward off his and your center of balance, making a fall more likely. Settling into a deep seat and giving a concerned horse his head can do wonders to relax him.

Build a rapport with your horse in locations where you need to develop confidence. Groundwork is a good start. Long lining lets you go wherever you want with your horse – including trails and scary places that might trigger a runoff response – without the concern of being on his back. Horses transfer a lot from lessons learned without you on board to under saddle. You’ll gain confidence too, as you see you can guide his movements.

Thoroughbreds don’t always get your program If your horse is a former racer, it helps to understand how some of these animals are taught to run. Many trainers believe the best way to get a horse fit in morning workouts and come first to the finish line is to train him to run into the bit. What this means for your horse is that the harder you pull on the reins, the faster he goes. Thoroughbreds trained in such a manner tend to ease themselves the moment you release the reins. Try letting go next time you’re terrorized by a 35mph ride you didn’t ask for. Yes, it goes against your instincts, but what do you have to lose if you’re already out of control? This doesn’t mean you can’t teach a former race horse to slow as you use the reins, but it’s best done with take and give, alternating reins and softness instead of a steady pull. This doesn’t apply just to Thoroughbreds – any horse that tries to speak and sees his attempts ignored is bound to do something dramatic to evade what’s troubling him.

Really think about how your horse responds to your requests. Removing the pressure increases understanding, so it’s no wonder intensifying pressure without release usually doesn’t work. Head tossing, rooting on the bit, refusing to go and rearing are other ways your horse may be screaming that he’s uncomfortable with how you’re using your hands. He could also be dealing with memory issues that prompt ingrained habits to avoid anticipated agony.

Reprogramming racers Most Thoroughbreds are smart and cooperative. Yes, they’re hot-blooded, but those started patiently and kindly are super pleasers and willingly embrace new career requests. To make the transition easier on both of you, consider the following:

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equine wellness


Try letting go next time you’re terrorized by a 35mph ride you didn’t ask for. Yes, it goes against your instincts, but what do you have to lose if you’re already out of control? • Give horses fresh from the track time to cool down. Many haven’t seen a pasture since they were yearlings, so start in small enclosures to avoid injuries. Give the horse a suitable buddy early on to teach him some social skills. Plan on at least 30 days to get the drugs and racing mentality out of his system before you hop on his back. • B egin with groundwork to build a rapport and communication system that gives you both confidence as you proceed. Sure, it’s hard to wait to start riding – and some racers will be great pleasure mounts from day one – but it’s better to take the time to create a partnership. • Start riding in a contained area. Most former racers will be quieter if there is a perimeter fence. Figure eights and serpentines are great exercises to start with since most ex-racers haven’t been taught to steer with finesse, and constant turns make building up speed difficult. • Riders are tossed on the backs of racehorses, so take your time getting your horse used to lopsided weight before you hop aboard. If you’re heavy, be kind and drop an iron or use a mounting block. • Avoid steady contact on the bit. For many ex-racers, this is a signal to go faster. • Work alone at first. Thoroughbreds get competitive with company.

Horses are sometimes just plain crazy I’ve encountered some runaway horses that couldn’t be reached. Flash comes to mind. He was the most talented jumper I’ve ever ridden (at a mere 15.1hh), but whether genetics or past experience was the culprit, his brain was so scrambled he’d fly out of control without warning. Clean cross-country and stadium rounds were a breeze, but he commonly got eliminated from the dressage phase. After three years of creative effort to get into Flash’s head, it just didn’t seem worth the stress continuing a dance that caused more frustration than jubilation. If your run-off issue is something you’ve been trying to resolve for a long time with no progress, consider how your quality of life might improve if the horse went on to do a job more suited to him. There are many great horses available. Sometimes you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Most hot-blooded horses are pleasers Former racers may need to be reprogrammed a little to understand a new set of aids, but Arabs and other competitive trail horses are also frequently labeled as “hot” or run-offs. In most cases, these equines turn into eager pleasers once they understand what you want – provided you ask in a way they welcome. Let them burn off steam (whether in the pasture or under saddle) while getting quieter about how you ask them to slow down, and you may be amazed at how easily and quickly they respond to your requests. Horses need to be horses, and the more time you give them to play or join in training task decisions, the more likely they’ll view training time as fun. It’s remarkable how some of the most difficult horses melt when they’re included in the conversation. Think about what you’re doing to add angst. You might be astonished at how quickly your run-off turns accommodating and responsive when you get softer, more relaxed, and open to what he is trying to tell you.

Horses In Winter: © Sue Byford

Nanette Levin has been riding for more than four decades and bringing young client horses along starting under saddle for 25 years. She spent more than 20 years as an exercise rider at a Thoroughbred racetrack and is also the author of the book, Turning Challenging Horses Into Willing Partners. Visit HorseSenseAndCents.com to sign up for her free newsletter or to find her e-booklet on working with former Thoroughbred racers. If you dream of a career that includes horses, check out the first product in the Inventing Your Horse Career initiative (9 CD audio package) at HorseSenseAndCents.com/inventing-your-horse-career .


equine wellness

equine wellness



rimmers, like veterinarians, are hardworking, highly valued professionals in the equine industry. They work long hours, often outdoors in whatever Mother Nature offers up. They deal with all manner of horses (and caretakers), and are typically always on call for that abscess or lost shoe. Many will also go out of their way to make sure you are properly educated about your horse’s feet and their needs. If you’ve ever wondered what your trimmer looks for in a client, what would make his/her day go a little smoother, or put a smile on his/her face, ponder no more. Some of our top hoof care contributors join us to share their answers to these very questions!

Johanna Neuteboom of BarnBoots, barnboots.ca • Teach your horses to lift and hold up their own feet at the snap of a finger. It’s easier than you think with clicker training or similar methods. Not only is a great discipline for your horse, it will help you as well as your hoof care practitioner. Win-win-win! • Educate yourself on the details of hoof care. Please don’t just hand over the entire responsibility to your hoof care practitioner. Ask questions! The more interested and invested you are, the better the results are for your horse – and that allows us to provide much better service.

Lisa Huhn of Equinextion, equinextion.com

Be a good client

• It’s nice to have the horse caught, brushed and feet cleaned by the time I arrive. In the summer, it’s also nice to have the hooves soaked if possible – in my arid climate, feet get very hard and challenging to trim because they are so dry. It’s awesome if young horses are given a little run before trimming, so they are settled without any pent-up energy. • I ask people to stay plugged in after their horse’s trim by continuing to clean the feet, paying attention to diet, and spraying the feet with “magic spray” (organic apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil). I am not just a “trimmer” and none of my Equinextion Associate Trimmers are either – rather, we continually educate our clients. We encourage them to participate in hoof (and horse) care any way we can.

Sherri Pennanen of Better be Barefoot, betterbebarefoot.com

The professionals who look after your horses are integral to their health and happiness, so you want to keep them happy too! Here’s how to be a top client for your trimmer. by Kelly Howling


equine wellness

When I first meet my clients, I ask two things of them, and I believe this makes them good customers and committed caretakers: 1. Always be honest with me. No matter what happens or how, I can better serve you and your horse if you tell me exactly what has happened and under what circumstances. Jot down any events along with times and dates, and be sure to give me any and all information you can. I will sort through it and ask any additional questions I need answered when planning for your horse. Together, we can take action. But if I don’t know all the factors, contributors and events, I can’t be as good for your horse as I’d like to be. 2. Please do as I ask once we agree on a plan of action. I understand

that I may be asking you to commit time and resources, but if we have a plan it is important to follow it to the best of your ability. This is not for me – it’s for your horse. If you have questions about what to do, I am always happy to take calls to explain. A friend of mine is a medical professional for people and she tells me this is an issue with her patients as well. If you take the time and pay the money to get my opinion and treatment plan, please follow my advice and call me if you are having doubts or trouble.



“Train your horses to lift and hold up their own feet at the snap of a finger.”

Obviously, I ask you to do other things like feed your horse well, give him lots of turnout, and follow a reasonable trim schedule, but without that trust between us, your horse will not have the full benefit of a natural balanced trim, or the emergency care I can provide for him.

Anne Riddell of Canadian Barefoot Horse Association, barefoothorsecanada.com • I think every trimmer appreciates clients who are on time and have their horses ready and waiting in the barn. Most of us are travelling to several barns in one day. Having to wait while someone goes out to bring in a horse from the field or paddock can be time consuming. • Please, no muddy legs or wet blankets – it’s not nice to have to trim when you get wet shirtsleeves and feel chilled. • Prompt payment is always appreciated – nobody likes to have to chase clients for pay. • Some trimmers like the client to supply fly spray in case the horse has allergies to certain products. That being said, I prefer a natural/non-toxic product. Fly spray makes the trimmer’s job safer since it helps prevent the horse from kicking at flies. On hot days, a large fan can help with flies, and make your horse and trimmer more comfortable. • When a normally well-behaved horse starts snatching his feet away as I’m trimming, it’s a major sign that he may be sub-clinically laminitic and his feet are sore. If your horse suddenly acts differently while being trimmed, pay attention – this is a red flag that something more serious might be going on, and is not just your horse having a “bad day”. • If you have changed anything in your horse’s diet or program, please let your hoof care practitioner know! So there you have it, straight from the horse’s…er…trimmer’s mouth! Try implementing some of these tips and see if your own trimmer notices.

Herbs for Horses Column Feeling your age by Wendy Pearson, PhD I’m turning 40 this year – and I’m feeling pretty good about it! I seem to recall that when my mom turned 40, she was way older than I am now. I remember how knobbly her arthritic fingers were, how much she complained about indigestion, wrinkles, liver spots, arm flab and her aching back. I think she even said something about shrinking. She ate weird stuff too – cod liver oil, Metamucil and some unidentifiable green stuff in her breakfast cereal. Well, feeding Grandma is a bit like feeding geriatric horses, as it turns out. Arthritis, reduced gastric motility, reduced fiber and protein absorption, and accelerated calcium loss from bones could all describe, at least to some extent, virtually every horse over the age of 20. Fortunately, old age in horses (and humans) is a condition we can manage quite nicely with nutrition.


One of the simplest and most effective nutritional interventions for arthritis is to raise your Omega-3 fatty acid intake (hence my mom’s cod liver oil!). There are no equine studies yet (as far as I know), but human studies clearly show a benefit on clinical signs of arthritis as well as a reduction in concomitant medications (Gheita et al. 2011). You can get this benefit for your horse by feeding him flax or herring oil, or better yet, both. Adding anti-inflammatory herbs can also help reduce pain and cartilage breakdown. Herbal products such as Mobility (Pearson et al. 2007) and Hyalcare (Pearson and Lindinger 2008) effectively reduce the effects of arthritis on cartilage.

Gastric motility

Impaired gastric motility is a real nuisance in older horses; it accounts, at least in part, for the greatly increased risk of choke and impaction colic as horses age (Cox et al. 2007). The best way to prevent these serious health problems is to ensure your horse has unrestricted access to water at all times, throughout the entire year (yes, that means winter, too). Wetting down pelleted feed with lots of water is also a great way to protect against age-related gastric impactions.

Reduced nutrient absorption

Reduced fiber, protein and phosphorus absorption in older horses can contribute to a considerable decline in body condition and overall health. This is frequently due to poor dentition, so be sure to get your old fellow’s teeth checked at least once a year. Feeding him a highly digestible extruded feed (watered down, if necessary) can also improve nutrient absorption.

Calcium loss

Bone calcium loss is a common problem in older horses. They’ve frequently spent their younger years doing some sort of athletic activity, and as they age their activity levels usually decline dramatically. This can result in a loss of bone calcium by up to 0.45% per week (Porr et al. 1998). Unfortunately, this loss cannot be replaced by just feeding the horse extra calcium. Therefore, it’s important to ensure your older horse gets regular light exercise to maintain strong bones Managing your geriatric horse can be a labor of love. Your grandmother likely wouldn’t eat like your teenaged son, and the same approach must hold true for your trusting old equine friend. Looking after his special needs will ensure he rides into the autumn of his life as proudly and healthily as when he was young. Dr. Wendy Pearson is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Dept of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph. Her research is focused on medicinal plants for use in horses.

equine wellness


Most of us associate the word “sedative” with chemicals. Here are some alternative relaxation tips and techniques to try when your horse gets overexcited or stressed. by Hannah Evergreen, DVM


ost of us feel our hearts pound with excitement when we see a herd of horses run across a field. Even if we spend every day with horses, it never gets old! But sometimes this endearing quality can cause your equine to injure himself, or you. Some horses have trouble controlling their excitement level and flight response, and this can be a serious matter.

Environmental factors Take a holistic look at your horse’s environment. If your horse is so amped up every time you take her into the arena to ride that you have to lunge her for half an hour before it’s safe to get in the saddle – and she’s kept in a 12’x12’ stall with a 12’x24’ paddock the rest of the time – then it’s not your horse’s fault. It’s yours! Horses are meant to have turnout, to be in herds, to play and to graze. They need this for their emotional health. Yet so many horses are kept inappropriately, then worked too hard to compensate for their excess emotional energy. This leads to injuries and lameness, and masks the underlying problem. This must be the first thing you address if you are having behavioral issues with your horse! With that said, there are times where horses have medical problems requiring quiet stall rest; needless to say, those cases are often the most difficult to manage.

Emotional rollercoaster Much of this unwanted behavior can be prevented or minimized with proper training and handling. The key is to prevent the “switch from getting flipped”, beyond which horses stop using their rational thought processes and simply react through emotion. Through the work I’ve done with Equine Facilitated


equine wellness

Learning (EFL), I have found the same is true of people. When we reach a high level of anxiety or excitement, our brains shut down and we often can’t remember the details of what happened or what was said. The key is to lower the level of excitement to a point where the brain still functions rationally. Another pearl of wisdom from EFL is that horses can sense our emotional state. They react to it either by mirroring it or becoming agitated. For example, your horse is on stall rest and you’re afraid to take him out for his 15 minutes of “controlled” hand walking because you think he’s going to try to run you over and get away. You pretend you’re not afraid even though your heart is racing – and sure enough, he’s already dancing before you even get the halter on. A better approach would be to stand in front of the stall and acknowledge that you’re nervous about taking the horse out. Tell him you’re worried about it, then take a deep breath to let the fear go. Wait until your heart rate has dropped, then walk confidently into the stall to catch him for the walk. Your own emotions should be taken into consideration any time a horse is acting out through over-excitement or anxiety.

Touch for relaxation You may also want to try a few bodywork techniques to relax your horse. Use caution and only do what your horse seems to like and respond to. When horses are agitated they can act out unexpectedly, and doing bodywork can put you in a vulnerable position. Learning various massage techniques can help your horse relax and feel good, as well as strengthen your mutual bond (check

Glow out Horse Lover’s Guide to Massage: What Your Horse Wants You to Know by Megan Ayrault). Facial massage is a good place to start because it can be soothing and it keeps you in a safe place by the horse’s head. Try gentle pressure and massage over the temporal (forehead) region, or gently rub around the eyes. You may also want to try incorporating a few acupressure points into the relaxation massage. Some effective calming points are HT-7 (at the back of the front leg just above the accessory carpal bone), GV-24 (at the start of the mane under the forelock), and GV-20 (at the highest point of the poll behind the occipital crest). To learn more, check out Equine Acupressure, A Working Manual by Nancy Zidonis, Amy Snow, and Marie Soderberg.


• Brilliant coat colors • Stronger hooves

What comes naturally If you’ve worked on any training issues and have addressed your own emotional state, yet your horse is still upset, then you’re probably simply dealing with his natural, normal response. Rarely are horses truly “crazy” even though you may think yours is! Understanding this is important, because your horse isn’t trying to be “bad”. He’s reacting the way all horses do – some just react more than others! Reprimanding him for being “bad” won’t solve the problem and often leads to insecurity, which makes the problem worse. However, establishing and enforcing appropriate personal space boundaries is essential.

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Herbal help The next step in dealing with the problem is to try a safe and natural remedy to help mellow your horse. There are a number of natural calmers on the market made up of herbs, flower essences or nutritional supplements. Common sedating herbs include: • Valerian • Chamomile • Passion flower

• Hops • Vervain • Lemon balm

• Gotu kola • Ginseng

The herbal formula I have the best results with is called Tranquility Blend, and contains organic valerian, skullcap, oat flower, passion flower, vegetable glycerin and distilled water. I like this formula because it is a liquid tincture that’s easy to administer. A number of other dry herb formulas can be easily added to a horse’s daily ration (Chava Naturals’ Harmonius Horse or Hilton Herbs’ Temperamend, etc.). These formulas are safe and work well for most horses depending on the level of calming needed. Herbal formulas tend to calm and take the edge off, but are not as strong as chemical sedatives, although valerian root is the one herb that can cause visible sedation when given as an overdose. equine wellness


Be sure to check show regulations if you are planning on using a natural calmer at an event. Other calming remedies Flower essences work on an energetic level. If they are given in the right combination, they are very effective; if not, they seem to do nothing. Working with someone experienced in flower essences and trying out a few different formulas can help determine the best combination for your horse. The most widely recognized formula (and one of the most effective) is Rescue Remedy. Dynamite has a similar product called Relax that I like to use as well. Rescue Remedy or Relax are must-haves for your first aid kit. I also like to use essential oils like lavender for additional calming support. Other natural calmers on the market contain the amino acid L-Tryptophan (Calm & Cool), magnesium (Quiessence), and B vitamins (SmartCalm). These products are safe and work well for many horses. Be sure to check show regulations if you are planning on using a natural calmer at an event.

When pharmaceuticals are needed When the natural approach doesn’t work, it may be time to consider chemical sedation. However, these medications must not be abused and should only be utilized as a last resort or in serious medical situations (e.g. a horse with a serious injury on life-or-death stall rest), not for clipping or training purposes. The main chemical sedatives we use are Reserpine, Acepromazine, Xylazine and Dormosedan. • Reserpine is a long acting sedative that is herbal in origin (the drug is isolated from the root of Rauwolfia serpentina and Vomitoria plants). It can be used for long-term lay-ups. It does have a number of potential side effects. It can cause diarrhea, colic, depression, ulcers and sweating. Because it is long acting, the side effects can also be long lasting and serious. It is important to start with a small trial dose first to help determine your horse’s level of sensitivity, before using a full dose. • Xylazine and Dormosedan (most commonly used for dental floats and minor surgical procedures) are a2 (alpha2) adrenergic agonists. These drugs are short acting (one to two hours) and should be used only under direct veterinary supervision. • Acepromazine is a phenothiazine sedative and is fairly safe. It causes mild sedation for a few hours, so is often used for situations like safely getting through the fourth of July. It is not good for long-term use. Each horse responds differently to alternative sedation and relaxation options. Experiment with the safe and natural options so you know what works with your horse. In more extreme situations, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate use of chemical sedatives. In many cases, chemical sedatives can be avoided by taking a holistic approach. Dr. Hannah Evergreen is a graduate of Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has loved, cared for, ridden and trained horses most of her life – they are her passion. She started her own mobile veterinary practice in Monroe, Washington in December of 2004 and offers full service equine veterinary care including acupuncture, chiropractic, advanced dentistry, sports medicine and more. Find out more at ehvcequine.com.


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green to green

Green on green You’re a new rider who has bought a green horse, and have reached the point where you realize you’re in way over your head. Now what? by Isabella Edwards


had to stop myself from sighing as I surveyed the familiar scene. A brand new rider had decided to purchase a horse to keep on her small property. Without any lessons, coaching or guidance, she had selected a horse in her “dream” breed and color. The large Warmblood filly was young, with minimal handling, and the rider had visions of the two of them “learning and growing together”. She was going to do it all herself, without any help. Unfortunately, about all the filly had learned so far was how much she could get away with. Meanwhile, the rider’s confidence had diminished to the point where she barely wanted to touch the horse anymore. I watched as the filly dragged, pushed and nipped the rider around the arena on the end of the lead line. Then I stepped in to have “the chat” with the rider about how we might transform this partnership from train wreck to success.


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Can green on green work? To preface, I’m not a huge advocate of pairing green riders with green horses, particularly if it’s a DIY project where the riders have a minimal support system. I’ve seen it go wrong more times than it goes right. In the situations where it does work out, it’s typically for one of two reasons:

1 The rider has been lucky enough to find a young horse that was what we call “born broke”. These horses hit the ground as wise old souls, and tend to have very amateur-friendly temperaments with lots of patience and forgiveness. They are the school-horse types that we thank every day for taking such good care of their riders. Unfortunately, not many firsttime owners seem drawn to these horses, but lean more towards young or challenging types. 2 The rider either came into things with a solid plan, or

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• Find yourself a schooling horse and coach in your discipline that can help you develop and progress your riding skills without the dynamic of being on a green horse. Become a better rider so you can be a better teacher for your young horse. It is even better if these lessons can also help you develop your timing and finesse with groundwork exercises. • Do your research and find a trainer that matches your style and philosophies, and who can help you with your young horse one-on-one. How intensive the program should be is up to you, but I ideally like to have an opportunity to work with a young horse for 90 days, with the owner watching and participating in groundwork lessons. After that, depending on the horse (and rider), we progress to ridden work under regular supervision/ coaching. Once this is going well, I “graduate” the horse and rider to where they can move away from supervision. • Put in enough time and patience to give things a chance to work. Realize there are going to be ups and downs, and that progress is always two steps forward, one steps back. Ask your trainer for homework, and play with your horse between lessons/ formal training sessions. Ask yourself: “How many young horses have I trained?” If the answer is none, the journey is going to take some time. • Listen to the people you are paying to help you. We’re here so you don’t have to make the same “mistakes” we did along the way, to help your horse have a good experience, and keep you from getting hurt. If we tell you the horse isn’t ready for the saddle yet, don’t rush ahead and do it out of impatience. We know you are eager to ride, but you can’t rush a good foundation – and you’ll appreciate it later, I promise! • Listen to your gut. Unfortunately, not every coach and trainer who hangs out a shingle is on the up and up. Be aware if your horse seems to be getting worse or sore (and your trainer can’t explain why, or how to improve it), or if things seem to be turning into a money grab. Red flag situations include a trainer saying you aren’t permitted to watch your horse being worked. • Keep your young horse’s handling as consistent as possible. Make sure everyone who handles and works with him is on the same page in terms of techniques, discipline and rewards. If


In the training business, we don’t often have an opportunity to help people out before they purchase a horse. We see them only after they’ve had the horse for a bit and have run into trouble. If you are one of those riders, and have found yourself in this position, here is what I’ve found to help put horses and riders on the road to success:

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possible, have your horse in a positive learning environment where he is exposed to many things – trail work, ring work, riding with other horses, trailering to new venues and so on. Some barns are more “green horse friendly” than others. When you find a good one, you’ll discover great people who are happy to buddy your youngster on trail rides, etc. • Ample turnout with herd socialization, and appropriate nutrition, make for happier and more balanced youngsters. These horses will be more trainable and eager to learn.

It’s up to you Young uneducated horses require a fair bit of time, energy and patience. They need consistency and commitment on the part of their handlers and riders. How well and quickly you are able to progress with your horse really comes down to one thing at the end of the day – you. You need to be prepared to put in the time. Don’t just do one halfhour practice session with your youngster once a week and then complain to your trainer that you aren’t getting anywhere. Horses don’t train themselves standing in the field, and things don’t happen overnight.

Young uneducated horses require a fair bit of time, energy and patience. They need consistency and commitment on the part of their handlers and riders. That said, I have met several people who really hit rock bottom with their youngsters and were so afraid to handle them that the only way they were confident enough to do so was in a lesson situation. Which is fine. But if you are only doing one or two lessons a week, be realistic in your expectations for progress. Realize that things may move more slowly than if you were playing with your horse four to six days a week. Aim for your lessons to be as consistent as possible – it adds up, but youngsters are an investment.

No guarantees If you’ve purchased a youngster, and put in all the work mentioned above, you need to be prepared for the possibility that things still might not work out. When you purchase a young or green horse, you are taking a chance on an unknown quantity. You don’t have any guarantees about how that horse is going to develop physically or mentally. Sure, a lot has to do with a solid bond and good training, but a large chunk also involves the horse’s innate personality, strengths/weaknesses, and physical abilities. Some horses are always going to have a little more “fire”, while others like a slow pace. Some will light up for jumping, others would prefer to work cattle, or trail ride. Some will be super snuggly, others will be a bit more independent. At the end of the day, the yearling you purchased may not be quite what you were looking for when he reaches five or six years of age, and you may have to part company so each of you can pursue an area of riding you truly enjoy. Generally, though, with a good dose of patience, humility, commitment and perseverance, as well as appropriate outside help from trustworthy coaches and trainers, a green on green relationship can work. You need to decide if this is a journey you really want to embark on, then develop a solid plan of action and follow it through. It takes time and hard work, but at the end of the day you will have learned a lot and developed your horse from start to finish. And that is certainly something to be proud of!


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product picks Take it easy

Crowning comfort

Horses may find a variety of situations stressful – everything from dental and vet appointments to trailering and horse shows. Fast-acting LESSstress from Herbs for Horses is offered in an easyto-administer paste form, and is rich in natural plant extracts that produce the “comfort and wellbeing” hormone serotonin. herbs-for-horses.com

Are you wondering if your bridle is comfortable for your horse? These ergonomically designed bridles from Schleese may be your answer. A padded noseband and crown reduce pressure, while the shaped ear cutouts and spliced crown section offer comfort and less bulk. Highly adjustable, the roller buckles prevent pinching. schleese.com

The gold standard If you have a senior horse, you understand that he has special needs. Gold Nugget from Wellness Ranch is a specialized blend of organic ingredients specifically for your senior horse’s sensitive palate. Formulated by an equine naturopath, the tasty mix includes eleuthero for stress, parsley to support sensitive joints, turmeric for oxygenrich blood, and MSM to strengthen connective tissue. equuswellnesscenter.com

A place to lay his head We all know what a challenge it can be to comfortably support a horse’s head during dental and facial procedures. The Dental Hoofjack® was designed to do just that! This portable, lightweight headstand is adjustable from 3’2” to 5’6”, and disassembles for easy transport. When not used as a headstand, the base can be used for hoofcare procedures. hoofjack.com

Bite-sized nutrition Many horses benefit from being offered hay cubes, either as a supplement to their regular forage source, or as a replacement in special needs cases. Canadian Bio-Cube all-natural forage cubes are the only hay cubes produced from premium Ontario hay using stringent quality control and hay testing procedures. The cubes maintain taste and nutritional value while virtually eliminating dust. bio-cube.com

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Open wide! Your horse’s dentistry needs change as he develops and ages. Here’s what he requires during his first five years of life. by Erin Zamzow, DVM


hen I was in veterinary school, doing dental work on young horses was generally limited to situations involving trauma, such as a fractured jaw, broken tooth or tooth root abscess. Even though we were told about wolf teeth and educated on dental eruption times, there was no mention of the unique and particular dental needs of horses during their first five years of life. As a matter of fact, most people – and many vets – had the idea that horses did not need to have their teeth looked at until they were older or had specific problems.

A new era in dentistry Fortunately, preventive equine dental care is undergoing a renaissance! As you can see from the sidebar (page 26), horses experience a continual dynamic of dental activity from their first week of life until they are over four-and-a-half years of age. Compared to 20 years ago, the general horse-owning population has a considerably greater awareness of equine dental issues. It is now “common knowledge” among vets and riders that horses often develop not only sharp, painful points on their teeth, but also imbalances such as hooks, ramps, waves and uneven incisors. These problems can lead to prematurely worn teeth, infections and temporamandibular joint pain or dysfunction. These issues can manifest as slow mastication, discomfort in the bridle, a sour attitude, and even pain in other areas of the body from bracing and lack of energy flow.

Developing a dental wellness plan One question I am frequently asked by my clients is: “When should a horse’s teeth first be worked on?” My answer is that every horse’s dentition should be evaluated within the first few days of life as a part of a “well baby” check. While there are not always viable treatment options for some conditions, such as severe over or under bites (mostly due to a lack of affordable and effective technologies), seeing the horse’s dental conformation early on gives the caretaker and veterinarian the opportunity to come up with a dental wellness plan.


equine wellness

Besides conformation, other factors to consider are:


What is the horse’s intended “job”? Will he be shown in halter classes at a very young age? Will he be ridden with a bit? If so, when? Will he be trained to be a driving horse? Does it make a difference if the rider wants to go bitless? What is the horse’s breed and when is he to be trained? If he’s a Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse, he may be asked to carry a bit in his mouth and a rider on his back at a relatively young age, often before he turns two. If he’s an Arabian or Warmblood, he might be granted a longer time to mature and “be a horse” before entering into official training. What is his environment like? How often is he handled? Is he turned out on a large pasture with acres of grass and weeds (herbs, not toxic plants) at his disposal, or is he fed processed feed such as hay and pelleted vitamins or grain mixes? What is the horse’s dental conformation and what was going on with his dam while he was in utero? While genetics play a large role in the formation of any given individual, DNA can be affected by environmental factors such as toxins, stress and nutrition. Compare a heavily vaccinated and chemically dewormed broodmare with not enough free turnout and mostly processed feed, to a mare on a large acreage with balanced minerals and a variety of plants and herbs to eat, and one or two well-matched herd mates. Stress hormones, nutrient absorption, and the chemical burden of these two mamas might be vastly different, and there is really no way for this to not affect the foal’s development.

2 3 4

A whole horse approach When all these factors are taken into account, we have a more holistic view of the horse and his individual needs, rather than lumping all horses into the same treatment category. Even if the dental plan does not vary greatly from yearling halter Quarter Horse to Arabian trail horse, it is important to always take the whole horse into account and not just look at the teeth. Holistic veterinarians take into account all factors of a patient’s life when

putting together a health plan for that animal. A holistic equine health plan will always include a dental care schedule as well as nutritional and environmental evaluations, parasite control, immune system support and so on.

Early intervention If a foal’s initial dental exam reveals malocclusion of the upper and lower jaws that manifest as an over or under bite, then gently and regularly (every three to six months) reducing hooks or ramps can allow a more functional dental pattern to evolve. Even if an obvious malocclusion can’t be observed by looking at the incisor area, there can be malocclusions of the molar arcades, so as the premolars come in, they should also be evaluated for alignment. I have seen large hooks or ramps result from severe malocclusions/over or under bites of the molar arcades, even when the incisors appear to match up well. By the same token, I have seen some incisor malocclusions with surprisingly well-aligned molar arcades! If you are looking at a horse’s bite, you need to observe how the jaws match up when his head is down, as this is the normal eating position. Many people think their horses have an overbite, yet I am able to show them how it magically disappears when the head is not being lifted up to eye level.

This is a 2 ½ -year-old filly with a loose deciduous incisor. Note the dark areas around the base – there was a foul smell due to feed packed between the baby and adult tooth and a sharp edge against the gumline.


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Training up baby

“Wolf teeth”

If a horse has great dental conformation, no early intervention is needed in my opinion, unless the foal is telling you otherwise (dropping hay, bleeding from the mouth, only chewing on one side, expressing pain or head-shy behavior when the mouth area is gently touched). However, just as we get young horses used to having their feet picked up, it is helpful for foals to occasionally have their lips and bars gently touched so they learn it’s not something to be feared. Do be aware where your horse’s teeth are – horses rarely bite us on purpose, but they will “test” a finger to see if it is edible if it comes near their teeth!

Horses that don’t need early adjustments should have their first full dental check and float when they are 18 months to two years of age. By this time, the first premolars (erroneously dubbed “wolf teeth” by some confused person way-back-when) will be in if they are going to erupt. These are small, shallow, rooted teeth that do not continually erupt like the other molars. Horses may get no wolf teeth or up to four, one in each quadrant. It is important to feel for wolf teeth as well as look since they can remain unerupted under the gum and cause significant discomfort. I recommend removing these teeth in all horses, even if someone says they will never carry a bit. I feel it is good insurance for the horse in case he someday ends up with someone who does ask him to carry a bit. I can’t tell you how many older horses I see that still have one or both wolf teeth. They almost always have discomfort with bits and do better after the teeth are removed. Some horses are more sensitive than others – a poor attitude and limited athletic performance can be created by the pain of these teeth against the bit.

Dental development

From birth to six weeks, foals get 20 new teeth. In the first 18 months, that number grows to 28 or 30. Between 18 months and five years, they get another 16 new teeth (20 for geldings), as well as replacing 12 baby premolars with 12 adult premolars. 1. Birth to 2 weeks – The 2nd through 4th premolars erupt. Usually the wolf teeth/1st premolars come in later, if they are going to come in at all. 2. 6 days (approx) – Central incisors come in. 3. 6 weeks (approx) – Middle incisors come in. 4. 6 months (approx) – Lateral incisors come in. 5. 6-18 months – Wolf teeth/1st premolars or 05 teeth come in (if they are going to get them – not all horses do). 6. 1 year – 1st molars come in. 7. 2 years – 2nd molars come in. 8. 2 1⁄2 years – Central incisors start to shed, adult teeth come in. 9. 3 years – 3rd and last set of molars erupt. 10. 3 1⁄2 years – Middle incisors shed and adult ones come in. 11. 4-5 years – Geldings will start to erupt canine teeth. 12. 4 1⁄2 years – Lateral set of incisors sheds, adult teeth come in.


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Even if wolf teeth aren’t present, it can be very beneficial to the horse to have a light float, check for appropriate tooth eruption, overcrowding, hook formation, etc. I am staunchly against aggressive filing of young horses’ teeth – balance and comfort are the goals, not filing them down to nothing! It is possible to take too much tooth off with heavy handed floating and I have seen young horses damaged by overzealous filing.

Years one through five I prefer to see young horses every six months from the time they are 18 months old or so, to about five years of age. If they have a propensity for imbalance, early corrective work can help establish a more normal and functional dentition in later life. Baby or deciduous teeth start to shed at around two-and-a-half years of age, with the central incisors leading the way. From then on, the horse is going to be continually shedding baby teeth and erupting adult teeth until he is almost five years old. In geldings, this may continue well into the fifth year as the canine teeth push through the gums on the bars, a process that can create sensitivity to bitting. So even if a horse has perfect dental conformation to start with, frequent exams allow us to assess proper adult tooth eruption and balance while he’s is in this crucial developmental phase. I have worked on many young horses that had good alignment to start with, but their baby teeth did not shed evenly, creating areas of impacted feed, stuck baby tooth fragments and painful ridges, all of which interfered with training and eating and created stress for the horse and rider. Dealing with these challenges as they come up can help the horse have a more pleasant and productive early training experience, as well as healthier and more balanced dentition as an adult. Continued on page 28

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Continued from page 26

• There is feed packed between the baby and adult teeth – usually this is quite stinky.

Less is more The same filly, with the deciduous tooth removed. The adult tooth was erupting underneath the baby one . I opted not to pull premolar caps in this filly because they were still tightly attached and she won’t be started for another six months to a year. She did have two upper wolf teeth that were extracted.

Shedding baby teeth are known as “caps” when they are close to coming off. Removing stuck caps that are creating pain and infection can be very beneficial to the horse, but it is important to understand the physiology of the tooth structure so as not to do damage. A layer of cells between deciduous and adult teeth plays an important role in the normal development of adult teeth. Premature removal of baby teeth will do more damage than good. Signs that cap removal may be appropriate are:

I want to emphasize the importance of understanding dental anatomy and physiology when it comes to the care of your horse’s teeth. Teeth are not dead – they are vital items with deep roots that are meant to erupt slowly and regularly over the horse’s lifetime. Removing too much tooth (as with extreme bit seats), over-burred canine teeth, and aggressive floating of molar arcades are not needed and may be harmful to the horse. Our aim is to help, not harm, so even with adult horses, the goal is not to have a float last forever – if the molar arcades are smooth as glass, the horse can’t properly digest his feed and is at risk for choke, colic and malnutrition. Appropriate dentistry can help horses in so many ways, but careless work can do a lot of harm. An educated and balanced approach that takes the whole horse into account is ideal!

• The crown of the baby tooth is visibly wearing. Dr. Erin Zamzow is in private practice in Ellensburg, Washington • The baby tooth isn’t fully attached to the underlying adult (Ellensburg Holistic Animal Wellness, e-haw.com). She is a member of tooth. the Veterinary Botanical Medical Association, the American Holistic • You can feel and see a line of separation between the adult Veterinary Medical Association and the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. She is a formulator and consultant for and baby tooth. VivoAnimals, LLC in Ellensburg, Washington.


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Dental Health Special advertising feature Clean Horse ‘Toothbrush’ Mouth Spray Produced because most horse owners overlooked the horse’s mouth as a place to perform daily preventative health care maintenance and cleaning practices. With only a few sprays into his mouth daily, you can contribute to reducing the harmful bacteria and parasites within the horse’s mouth. This product will kill the horses bad breath, as well as whiten his teeth. This new product is a must for complete oral care of your horse. From the good people at cleanhorse.com

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Sole-Guard is a fast (30 sec) setting liquid urethane material that provides durable protection and support and retains its shape and flexibility indefinitely. Sole-Guard is designed for use without shoes and adheres to the sole sealing out moisture and debris, protecting the frog and sole. Sole-Guard leaves the sole in excellent condition. Learn more @ vettec.com

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The natural paradigm Forever


Managing “senior” horses with NHC.

by Jaime Jackson, Certified AANHCP NHC Practitioner

rangelands “by name”, made it clear they lived well into their 30s. In her book America’s Last Wild Horses, Hope Ryden describes a wild mule that local ranchers claimed was 60 years old. Of course, BLM mustang gathers complicated matters then as now, by removing horses before they were/are able to live their lives out in nature.

Lessons from the wild

Photo: © Jill Willis

The “key” to equine soundness in the wild at any age lies in lifestyle: a natural diet, natural herd socialization, and natural movement 24/7. Wild horses in their late 20s, 30s and beyond were as healthy and vigorous as their younger counterparts. The vital “lesson from the wild” is that we shouldn’t perceive domesticated horses in their late teens or 20s as being “over the hill”. In fact, horses in their 20s are probably in their prime, not “knocking at death’s door”. Some interesting examples exemplify this:

Apollo, an Arabian gelding at 24, with Jaime Jackson.


clearly recall an important moment during my wild horse studies in 1982 at the BLM’s processing corrals in Litchfield, California. I was taking hoof measurements on one of the restrained horses when the attending BLM vet called out the age of this particular mare as 20 years. There had been a succession of 20s, but never more than that. So, being somewhat naive at the time, I asked the vet, “Do wild horses ever get older than 20?” He responded, “Of course they do.” But using dentition as a means of aging the horses only allowed BLM vets to age them up to 20 with any degree of reliability. So that’s what they reported to the BLM bureaucrats who educate the public. Obviously, this process generated very skewed data, leading many to believe that “old age” among horses in their natural state isn’t what it really is. In fact, as I learned during my field studies over the next four years, horses live well beyond their 20s in the wild – soundly and healthfully so. The long-time Great Basin ranchers I talked with, men who knew mustangs living on their leased


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• The late Colonel Alois Podhajsky, long-time Director of the Spanish Riding School (Austria) – known for their performance horses ridden into their late 20s – wrote about his Lipizzaner stallion, Pluto Theodorosta, in My Horses, My Teachers. “When he had attained the age of twenty-nine, I wanted to retire him and give him his well-deserved rest. But he did not seem to be of the same opinion. One day he took advantage of the fact that the door of his box was always open and trotted through the time-honored courtyard and across the street to the indoor riding school. Appreciating his zeal, I continued to ride him for another year in the beautiful riding hall.” Pluto died at age 31, but it is worth noting that he lived part of each year in a box stall (turnout was during the summer at the SRS), and could very well have lived longer had his boarding conditions been more natural year round. Nevertheless, he lived with other stallions (as we see among bachelor bands in the wild), and was exercised, trained and ridden daily in the true tradition of classical horsemanship. “His advanced age was not only proof of the strength of the Lipizzaner breed but also and above all proof of the correctness of the training that had maintained his health and stamina until the very end in spite of the demands made upon him,” wrote Podhajsky. • Several years ago, I was consulted about NHC (natural hoof/ horse care) by a breeder of draft horses in southern California. There were a dozen or so in his herd, but one in particular caught my attention – a gelding the owner’s family had raised since he was born, now aged 48! I was stunned. The family said he was in such fine shape and spirit because he had spent a good deal of his adult life eluding an aggressive alpha mare who chased him every day and, in more recent years, round and round a “track”

they put together after reading my book, Paddock Paradise. As of 2010, I heard through the grapevine that this gelding was still alive (and, I assume, running), which meant he was 52! • A long-time client of mine lives in an equestrian “neighborhood” in Los Angeles. For nearly four years, her four horses were in a large sand paddock by day and stalled at night. About six months ago, she decided to reconfigure her steep property and connected the paddock to a track that went up a hill behind her property. In all, she probably has no more than 1.5 acres available to the horses. But as a result of tracking the property along a steep incline, the horses – most around the age of 20 – experienced dramatic transformations in their conformation. • My colleague Jill Willis and I are putting together our own Paddock Paradise here in the rugged coastal mountains of central California. Our herd includes Jill’s 24-year-old Arab gelding, Apollo. The ascent from the lower to the upper reaches of the track would cause most stalled horses half his age or younger to huff and puff to reach the top. But Apollo easily trots – and sometimes gallops – with his herd as though it were nothing. But then, this is what he and the others do every day! The ground is gravelly, and with all the non-stop natural movement these horses get, my work as an NHC practitioner couldn’t be better!

NHC and the aging equine My advice to riders who want healthy sound horses well into their 20s and beyond is to practice the principles of NHC. I refer to these as the Four Pillars: natural boarding, a reasonably natural diet, natural horsemanship, and the natural trim. Here’s one thing you can do from each pillar:

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Natural boarding – put together your own Paddock Paradise and let your horses move 24/7 as a herd. A reasonably natural diet – oats, handfuls of mixed fruits and vegetables, a free choice mix of grass hays, free choice salt, and water. Natural horsemanship – your best immediate example of how to ask your horse to move (short of visiting wild horse country) is what you’ll see in your own Paddock Paradise. You will be amazed! A natural trim – follow nature’s model, the wear patterns of U.S. Great Basin wild horses. That’s what I do, and all my clients prosper! Jaime Jackson is a 35-year veteran hoof care professional, lecturer, author, researcher and noted expert on wild and domestic horse hooves. In the early 2000s, Jaime created the American Association of Natural Hoof Care Practitioners, now called the Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices (aanhcp.net). He has published five books – The Natural Horse: Lessons from the Wild; The Horse Owner’s Guide to Natural Hoof Care; Founder: Prevention & Healing the Natural Way; Paddock Paradise: A Guide to Natural Horse Boarding and The Natural Trim (formerly the Official Trimming Guidelines of the AANHCP). Jaime resides in central California.

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Photos credit: Adam Edwards & Colorado Horse Protection League ©

Free school your way to whoa!

A good “whoa” is one of the most important things you can teach your horse. Doing so at liberty can help strengthen your communication skills.


or centuries, horsemanship seemed to be all about man dictating to the horse. Good horsemanship was demonstrated by how well you could train your horse, regardless of the methods you used or the negative effects they had on the animal. Thankfully, times have changed and horsemanship has evolved into something much kinder and far more effective. At Reach Out to Horses, we are committed to not only training horses but creating a trust-based partnership with them, giving them a voice, and instead of “breaking” them, allowing their true personalities to shine through, creating a genuine bond built on communication and respect.

Communicate freely Nowhere is this partnership more obvious than when you’re working with your horse at liberty. Liberty work can be very fulfilling and a lot of fun. It’s a time when you and your horse are truly on equal terms, when he can speak his mind and you both get to experience the joy of freedom from tack, equipment and lines. It’s a chance to explore one another while combining educational exercises into the mix. The round pen can be a great place to work with your horse at liberty. Many misconceptions exist about the round pen. Some love it, some hate it, some use it, some don’t. As with


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by Anna Twinney

any tool, the effectiveness or abuse is not in the tool itself, but in the hands that use it. I use the round pen for the “Reaching Out” process, to create a specific contract with my horses, and for free schooling. Free schooling allows you to choreograph your lesson, going with the flow and feeling what your horse has to offer. As long as your horse appreciates his environment, is enthusiastic and willing, free schooling can be built into your weekly activities. Free schooling is an ideal tool for removing excess energy, rehabilitating, building muscle and endurance, “playing” with your horse, teaching “trick training”, viewing his movement, introducing voice commands, and more.

Whoa there! If you have thought about connecting on this level, but didn’t quite know how, here’s a great place to start. Try using free schooling to introduce your horse to the importance of the word “whoa”. This exercise will enhance your connection and communication, and empower both you and your horse. Incidentally, I’ve heard others utilize the word “Ho”, but I caution against this because it sounds similar to “No” and you might accidently create an unwanted stop when you least expect it!

Teaching whoa step-by-step 1 Begin driving your horse around the round pen, remaining in the “driving zone” about 45º behind the barrel of your horse. I will sometimes bring a line in with me for safety and to enhance my communication. Always remember there is a difference between driving and chasing, and your intention should never be to create fear in your horse.

2 Decide

on the exact location within the round pen you would like your horse to stop.

3 Say “whoa” before you take any action to stop him. 4 Keep your eyes on your horse’s eyes and step

with determination into his path of travel; do this well ahead of him to allow him to understand and see your request.

5 Gauge

the distance needed to be effective. Do not walk directly towards your horse’s eye and head, as that will turn him.

6 Do not get too close to the horse or “pinch” him against the round pen wall. It may cause him to bolt or even kick out.

7 Gauge the correct amount of energy needed to facilitate the stop – project or absorb your energy where needed.

8 If your horse is traveling in a clockwise direction, use your right hand to influence his nose; use your left hand if he’s moving counterclockwise.

9 Step towards your horse, if needed, to prevent him from turning towards you.

10 Keep your horse’s nose straight in front of him to ask for a stop on the round pen wall (you can build up to this).

11 Use your line to back up your hand gesture, if needed. 12 Look directly at his hips if he is about to swing them towards you.

13 Plant

your feet firmly when you know your horse will come to a stop.

14 Soften your posture slightly at the moment he stops, as a reward.

15 Maintain your positioning. 16 Hold your horse in this position, increasing the duration over time.

17 Return to the driving position and say “walk on”. 18 Repeat multiple times, gradually eliminating bold

body language and becoming more subtle until you eventually remove the body language altogether and replace it solely with the verbal cue.

19 Always end on a positive note and do not spend more time in the round pen than your horse can handle. The round pen should be a place of learning and fun, not work and fear.

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The steps themselves are really quite simple. However, the true art of free schooling is not a step-by-step process but rather lies in your ability to understand and communicate with your horse. After all, you cannot give him a voice and discover what he has to offer if you can’t understand what he is saying. The best part is that this doesn’t just apply to teaching your horse to stop. It can open many doors. You can take this exercise to so many levels, from the ground through to horseback. You are limited only by your imagination. Just remember – success is in the listening, not the speaking. Happy trails!

Photo diary (Photo 1) Alexa, a beautiful QH mare, recently attended the ROTH Holistic Horsemanship Foundation class for the day. Completely open to what would take place, I entered the round pen to be greeted by Alexa, whose soft approach, sensitivity and kindness immediately touched my heart and everyone watching. We spent some time sharing space together, blending energy and creating a close connection. The conversation began the moment we were within view of one another.

(Photo 2) When it was time to engage in learning “whoa”, I made a few initial changes to my body language. By raising my shoulders from a passive position, I asked Alexa to pay attention. Standing square in front of her, I created a boundary and maintained the space between us by projecting a “bubble of energy” and asking her to keep the distance. I looked her directly in the eyes, telling her I wished her to stand back, and reinforced my energy bubble while watching her response. I regularly use these subtle nuances in both body language and energy to effectively communicate with my horses.


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(Photo 3) In order to gain a stop, you have to have forward motion. Driving Alexa forward while I was behind her barrel at a 45º angle, and using my body language, I communicated to her to move out. My eyes watched her eyes closely to read her mood and upcoming actions, while my shoulders were parallel, or square, to her shoulders. My heart space was facing her heart space (located behind her shoulder), and directing energy like an invisible laser beam. My hips/pelvis faced her shoulder while we maintained forward motion. As she asked to rejoin me, I communicated to her with a hand gesture, asking her to continue moving forward and concentrate on keeping the flow. My open left hand redirected her nose forward.

(Photo 4) Correct body positioning, shoulder placement, head carriage, and eye contact are crucial to clearly guiding your horse.

(Photos 5-7) Clear intention is key when asking your horse to stop. Plan where you want her to stop in the round pen, and be aware as to why you chose that location. Always stay away from the gate, as this will eventually act as a magnet to which your horse will gravitate versus learning how to stop from your physical and verbal cues. It is good to repeat the “stop” multiple times in the same location before changing direction.

(Photo 8) Alexa really appreciated praise and was rewarded throughout the session with a release of pressure for each “try” she made. Her “tries” included forward motion, softening and relaxation, and of course stopping on command. Each try would be rewarded by the most suitable gesture of thought, relaxed eyes, slower pace, soft shoulders and lowered hands or arms. But the best reward for Alexa was connecting with me in the center of the round pen where we spent time bonding. We repeated our lesson a number of times, each lasting no more than ten to 15 minutes, and finished on a superb note.

Anna Twinney is an internationally recognized Equine Specialist, Natural Horsemanship Clinician, Animal Communicator and Reiki Master. As the founder of the Reach Out to Horses® program, she remains on the cutting edge of genuine, gentle communication techniques. For over a decade, Anna had been traveling the world teaching people of all disciplines how to work in the horse’s language and create a trust-based partnership with their horses. She is the creator of the comprehensive 6-volume Reaching Out to Natural Horsemanship DVD series and Success: Foals In Training, a 4-DVD instructional set, and a contributor to the book Horse as Teacher and the CD Call of the Horse. Anna is well known as a speaker, TV and radio personality, has been featured on US and international television, radio and podcast shows, and regularly contributes to national and international magazines. reachouttohorses.com

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Are you


protected Most people think a standard equine liability release will protect them, but that may not be the case. Here’s what you need to know about creating a solid contract. by Rachel Kosmal McCart


eople often ask us to review their equine liability release forms. Often, they’ve been using the same form for years without questioning its enforceability. These clients usually come to us once an accident has already happened, or because their insurer has asked to review their release. Understandably, they’re often startled when we tell them their faithful forms have critical problems.

What makes a liability release “legal”? A liability release (also known as a hold harmless agreement or waiver) is essentially a contract saying the person signing it won’t sue if s/he is injured or killed as a result of engaging in certain activities. An enforceable liability release deters people from filing lawsuits to begin with (always useful!), and provides an “assumption of the risk” defense to a negligence lawsuit. How good the assumption of the risk defense is depends on how good the liability release is. While you can disclaim ordinary negligence in a welldrafted liability release, you can’t successfully disclaim gross negligence or willful misconduct. What constitutes gross negligence is determined by a judge or jury on a case-bycase basis, but generally it involves doing something really stupid or failing to do something really important. Willful misconduct is somewhat clearer – doing something harmful, and doing it on purpose.


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Naming the right parties The liability release has to say who the signer agrees not to sue. This can be stated as a list of specific persons or entities, as general categories, or as a combination of specific persons and categories, such as “John and Jane Doe and their employees, agents, and independent contractors.” An effective liability release needs to include every person or entity that could possibly be sued in connection with the activity. For example, a horse trainer’s liability release should include not only the trainer him/herself, but also his/her employees and contractors, as well as the owners of the training facility and their employees and contractors. If the person being sued isn’t named in the release, either specifically or via the category s/he belongs to, the release will provide absolutely no protection for him/her. When we review release forms that clients “borrowed” from someone else, it’s surprising how often the release actually names the people the client borrowed the forms from, instead of the clients. Oops!

Specifying the risks We’ve all seen it – the one-paragraph release saying something like: “Horseback riding is dangerous. I agree not to sue XYZ if I get hurt horseback riding.” This type of release, while in

widespread use, especially on horse show entry forms, is not worth the paper it’s written on. Why? Because it doesn’t say why horseback riding is dangerous.



A good liability release will list the factors that make riding and being around horses dangerous – such as horses stepping on human feet and breaking bones, or horses suddenly rearing, bucking, spooking and otherwise dislodging their riders, etc. The more dangers a liability release describes, the more likely it will be that the danger resulting in an injury or death will be specified. And if the person who signed the release agreed to accept that danger, the release will provide an effective assumption of the risk defense in a lawsuit.

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Equine activity statute language Almost every state now has an equine activity statute offering some protection from horse-related liability. While each statute is worded differently, all essentially say that if a person engages in certain horse-related activities, s/he agrees to accept the ordinary risks of horse behavior. In other words, equine activity statutes provide some people with some assumption of the risk defense to some lawsuits brought by some people. Loophole central? You bet, which is why equine activity statutes are no substitute for a well-drafted liability release.

It’s important to have the liability release signed before an accident happens, not after.

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Often imitated - Never duplicated. On top of providing limited legal defense, some equine activity statutes are no help unless the person being sued included specific word-for-word language in a liability release that the person who is suing signed. To find out what your state’s equine activity statute requires, consult your attorney or look up the current statute on Michigan State University Law School’s website at animallaw.info.

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Unless a liability release has an expiration date, or is limited to a particular activity that takes place on a particular date, it is generally “evergreen”, meaning that it’s good until canceled. However, it’s important to have the release signed before an accident happens, not after. Seem obvious? Yes, but it often doesn’t happen.


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sign it. For example, boarding stables often have only their boarders sign liability releases. But these releases won’t be helpful at all if a boarder’s guest or family member is injured or killed at the stable. No one can waive anyone else’s legal rights. You can only waive your own legal rights. Some boarding stable releases attempt to have the boarder waive their family members’ and guests’ legal rights, but those releases will only be effective with regard to the boarder. So, every person who might conceivably sue should sign a liability release.

The legal rights of minors Minors can’t waive their legal rights until they turn 18. Because you can only waive your own legal rights, parents can’t waive those of minor children. That means liability releases signed by parents attempting to waive minor children’s legal rights are unenforceable, despite the fact they are widely used. Why are people using these releases if they aren’t enforceable? They simply don’t know any better (but now you do!). So how can you protect yourself from liability related to minors? You can’t. You can only insure against it and ask the parent to sign an agreement to indemnify you if the minor gets injured and sues you, or if anyone else sues you in connection with the minor’s injury or death (such as a non-custodial parent or health insurance company). A good indemnification agreement should state that the parent signing it agrees to pay for your legal defense and any legal judgment against you. However, because an indemnification agreement is only as good as the signer’s ability to pay, it’s essential to have liability insurance, too. Now that you know what goes into creating a proper liability release, you can get yours looked at and redrafted before something happens, rather than dealing with the aftereffects of a poor contract!

Rachel Kosmal McCart is a lifelong horsewoman, an equine attorney and the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, PC, a law firm dedicated to the equine industry. She is a member of the New York, California, Oregon and Washington State bars and is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. For more information about equine liability releases, including ready-to-use equine legal forms and customized contracts, visit equinelegalsolutions.com.


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Book reviews TITLE: Zen Mind,

Zen Horse AUTHOR: Allan J. Hamilton, MD

“That horses could inspire me was improbable, because I grew up where there were none,” writes Dr. Alan J. Hamilton in his book Zen Mind, Zen Horse. “But it was not the absence of horses I felt as a child, but rather the power of their presence, no matter how remote. Even a trace was enough. I was born under their spell.” Many of us can relate to this statement, and have spent our lives dedicated to building successful partnerships with the horses we have surrounded ourselves with. This book sheds light on how horses think, and on the energy and intention necessary to work successfully with our equines. It also focuses on horsemanship fundamentals, and incorporates many helpful diagrams and images to walk you through the techniques Dr. Hamilton describes. PUBLISHER: Storey Publishing

TITLE: Call of the Horses CONTRIBUTORS: Anna

Twinney, Melisa Pearce, Wendy Golding, Susan Williams, Lisa Arie, Templeton Thompson and Leah Juarez

Follow the journeys of five top horsewomen as they read their selected stories from Horse as Teacher: The Path to Authenticity with Horses. This audio book encourages you to explore your relationship with horses, and the life lessons you’ll inevitably learn along the way. Themes include the gift of a second chance, four key life lessons learned from horses, the horse/human connection from a horse’s perspective, discovering expression through the horse, and crossing the bridge into the unknown. A percentage of proceeds from the sale of this CD will go towards helping the American Mustang. PUBLISHER: Touched by a Horse

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Our editor is notorious for “blinging out” both herself and her horse, so her eyes positively lit up when she saw these low-rise breeches in four-way stretch cotton/Lycra denim. They have crystal front buttons, crystal front and back grommets, crest embroidery on the back pockets, contract stitching, front pockets, and a stretch ultra knee patch. Comfort and style, whether you ride English or Western! Sizes 24-34, R&L, $189. gooderider.com

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These fashionable wellies from Joules come in a variety of colors and styles, giving you something to look forward to on dreary rainy days. Elegant and comfortable, they come with a one-year warranty – so you can feel good about wearing them to the barn! $69. joules.com

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Dress to impress

The new Sonata jacket from Mountain Horse is fabulous with its flattering design and attention to detail. Features include an inner mobile phone pocket, two-way zipper, and a nauticalinspired lining. Available in red, green or navy, sizes XS-XXL, for $149. mountainhorseusa.com

This Victoria top looks almost too nice to wear to the barn. Made of super lightweight stretch microfiber, this competition top will keep you cool and comfortable. The white collar has a hook and loop enclosure with embroidery, and the front of the shirt features pearl snaps. Available in navy and white, sizes XS-XL at $64.95. mountainhorseusa.com

A modern twist

Stand out in the ring this season with these hot new show shirts from Le Fash. Offering a modern take on traditional style, these open placket shirts are available in 15 different color combinations and a choice of buttons. The shirts are made of Egyptian cotton and bamboo/spandex, and the convertible collar has a hidden magnetic closure. Retails for $195.; also available in a covered placket style for $215. lefashny.com

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Something to chew on Forage is a staple in any horse’s diet, and the best sources are natural grasses and hay. But if your horse has special needs, here are 8 alternatives for consideration. by Kerri-Jo Stewart, BPE, MSc


orses rely on a fairly continuous source of forage as their sustenance. In fact, at least 50% of their diet needs to consist of forage. Natural grasses and legumes can fill all the nutritional requirements for horses, and the fiber is needed to maintain a healthy digestive system. Hay is the common alternative when natural forage is unavailable. Unfortunately, good quality hay is not always easy to find, which means forage substitutes may be required.

that a certain amount of saliva production is necessary to act as a buffer in the hindgut. Reduced saliva production from decreased chewing time means digestive tract functionality is compromised.

The most difficult challenge with a forage substitute is to ensure adequate fiber and roughage. It appears there’s a relationship between behavioral issues and the time a horse spends chewing. Usually, the first problem to develop is wood chewing; tail chewing is also not uncommon. It’s believed

Hay is forage that is cut, sun cured and baled. For hay cubes, the forage can be either sun cured or dehydrated. Typically using timothy, alfalfa, or a combination of both, the forage is cut at an early stage of maturity and only partially dried in the field before being shipped to the processing plant and dehydrated.


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Here are eight possible alternatives to feeding hay, along with their pros and cons.

1.Hay cubes

Then, instead of baling, it is coarsely chopped, mixed with a binder, compressed and set into a form. Different manufacturers use different supplements and binders which are listed on the label. Types and amounts of protein, minerals, molasses and oils all vary between brands, as does the caloric content. Check for the mixture that best matches your feeding needs. There are some noted advantages to feeding the cubes over hay1. The processed cubes have lower moisture content, less mold and spores, and stay better longer, retaining their nutritional profile. They are easier to store and can generate less waste than hay. The nutritional profile is more uniform and the values are displayed on each bag. They can also be easier for older horses to chew, and may be more digestible. Soaking the cubes for easier chewing or for highly sensitive animals is also simpler than soaking hay, and may result in less dust and mold. For horses on special regulated feeding programs, it’s easier to monitor how much has been consumed with pellets or cubes than it is with hay. On the downside, cubes are more expensive than hay because of processing costs, and horses finish them faster so spend less time chewing. It’s suggested that an appropriate type of hay is fed along with the cubes to prolong the feeding (a half to one pound daily). Also, you can’t see the purity of the feed because everything is ground together and looks the same. While some horses don’t like the texture of cubes, others may wolf them down, which means those predisposed to choke or digestive problems should have their food soaked. Because cubes are in a compact form, you need to guard against overconsumption. In several research studies at Rutgers, Ralston reports good results from using hay cubes as the sole source of fiber2. Although they found an increased incidence of wood chewing in every study, Russell and Johnson3 reported that cubes made from coarsely chopped hay appeared to eliminate wood chewing. Care needs to be taken when switching over from hay to a cubed feed. As with any change of feeding regime, it needs to be done slowly over time. In general, the cubed feed can be fed in the same amounts as hay, based on weight. Start by gradually adding the new feed in, and eventually feed up to 75% to 80% cubes over hay by weight4.

2. Hay pellets Pellets go through the same manufacturing process as cubes, but they also go through a more intense grinding process. Again, different manufacturers use different mixes, binders and supplements as detailed on the labels. However, because of the smaller particle size of pellets, they have not been found to maintain a healthy digestive system. Pellets have also been linked to behavioral issues such as wood chewing and tail biting2 as well as increased searching and non-restful behavior5. A minimal recommendation is to feed 1% of the horse’s body weight per day with hay; however, that may not be sufficient. Pellets are not recommended as a complete forage substitute5.

3. Haylage When creating haylage, forages are harvested at moisture levels between 45% to 70%, then stored in a container such as a plastic bag. The exclusion of air and the resulting low pH is required for preserving high-moisture forage. However, the risk of spoilage equine wellness


and toxic development during fermentation is very high for horses. Horses that are going to be fed haylage should be vaccinated against botulism2. Many people have used haylage to feed their horses, but how many fatalities there have been isn’t known. Research is also lacking about the effects of feeding a highly acidic feed to horses. When haylage is exposed to air for feeding, it needs to be quickly consumed and should be monitored to ensure there is no mold or spore development3. Moving bales must be done carefully, as any tears or holes in the bag will cause a secondary fermentation and spoilage. Haylage should be used very cautiously if it is needed as a forage replacement. Also, because of the high moisture content, more haylage needs to be fed on a per weight basis than compared to hay.

4. Beet pulp Beet pulp is a very digestible source of fiber. Because of the high fiber content it is considered a long-stemmed forage substitute. It is a popular supplement because of its low sugar content, high calcium and moderate protein levels (8%). In general, one pound of beet pulp is fed for every one-and-a-half pounds of hay that it replaces. When used as a hay substitute, beet pulp shouldn’t make up

more than 40% of the total forage. That’s because it doesn’t provide the long-stemmed forage component required for gut health. The traditional form has to be soaked, but the new pelleted form doesn’t. Up to ten pounds (dry weight) of beet pulp can be fed to an average mature horse, but he will also need a balanced vitamin/mineral supplement since beet pulp doesn’t contain vitamins. Some horses will also require additional protein.

5. Bran Although wheat bran is often fed as a fiber supplement, it is not beneficial to horses, especially in large quantities over long periods of time. Bran has an inverted calcium to phosphorous ratio that can cause imbalances, as well as debilitating problems from the high phosphorous content. Rice bran has also been promoted as a source of fiber and energy (fat) for horses. However, rice bran has an even higher concentration of phosphorous than wheat bran. Neither rice nor wheat bran are recommended as a forage substitute2.

6. Chaff Chopped hay and straw is known as chaff. Chaff can provide indigestible fiber essential in maintaining digestive tract health. It may also be used as something the horse can chew for an extended period of time. The quality of chaff can often be a concern, so it is important to check that it’s not contaminated with any molds or other substances that could be toxic to horses.

7. Complete feeds Concentrates are sold as “complete feed” and some are labeled as a complete forage substitute. They can contain a mixture of hays, grains, beet pulp, and vitamin and mineral supplements, and are developed around various standard nutritional profiles (i.e., growth, maintenance, performance, broodmare). However, complete feeds don’t have the required fiber to maintain a horse’s health. It’s better to use them as a supplement to forage, not as a complete replacement.

8. Straw Straw is the stalks remaining after harvesting a grain crop. It contains very little nutritional value but can be a good source of fiber. Straw may satiate a horse’s desire to chew when he is restricted from adequate sources of long-stemmed forage or sufficient fiber. Straw is not a source of nutrition.


equine wellness

Summary The only true forage substitute for hay is hay cubes. The best hay cubes for supplementation are the ones with long-stem fiber of at least an inch in length. Pelleted feed, beet pulp and complete feed can be great nutritional products but don’t replace the long-stemmed fiber required for intestinal health. Straw can be added as a fiber source if no hay is available. The increased consumption of dense, higher energy forage substitutes over hay can be a benefit or a drawback depending on the type of feeding requirements your horse has. Overweight horses on a restricted diet need sufficient nutrients. Processed feeds with nutrient details on the labels make it easier to manage and monitor nutrient intake. At the other end of the scale, hard keepers are more likely to consume more feed overall with cubes or pellets (up to 25% more over hay3), and better maintain their weight. An animal unable to maintain a healthy body condition can be having dental or other problems to do with his ability to intake feed (pituitary problems, pain, or herd competition6), all of which should be looked into. Soaked hay cubes, beet pulp and/or complete feed can add needed nutrition in an easier to consume form.

1. Kentucky Equine Research, Inc, “Nutrition and Convenience in Cube Form”, Equinews, vol.9:2, www.ker.com/library/equinews/v9n2/v9n203.pdf. 2. Ralston, SL, Wright, B., Forage Substitutes For Horses, Government of Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2008, www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/ livestock/horses/facts/05-055.htm. 3. Russell, Mark A., Department of Animal Sciences and Johnson, Keith D., Department of Agronomy, Cooperative Extension Service, Purdue University, Selecting Quality Hay for Horses, http://www.agry.p­urdue.edu/ext/forages/publications/ID-190.htm 4. Johnson, Debra, “Feeding horses hay cubes”, http://horsehints.org/HayCubes.html. 5. Elia, JB, Erb HN, Houpt, K., “Motivation for hay: effects of a pelleted diet on behavior and physiology of horses”, Physiol Behav. 2010 Dec 2;101(5):623-7. 6. Jarvis, NG. Nutrition of the Aged Horse. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice Volume 25, Issue 1 , Pages 155-166, April 2009

Kerri-Jo Stewart has a Masters from the University of Guelph in equine physiology and nutrition. She lives with her family in Maple Ridge, BC, with various animals including Akhal-Tekes. She has just published her first photography book, Dreaming in Gold. You can find more about her at Argamak.ca.

equine wellness


Equine Wellness

Resource Guide • Associations

• Equine Shiatsu

• Reiki

• Barefoot Hoof Trimming

• Iridology

• Thermal Imaging


• Massage

View the Wellness Resource Guide online at: EquineWellnessMagazine.com


Equinextion - EQ Lisa Huhn Redcliff, Alberta Canada Phone: (403) 527-9511 Email: equinextion@gmail.com Website: www.equinextion.com


Association for the Advancement of Natural Hoof Care Practices - AANHCP Lompoc, CA USA Phone: (805) 735-8480 Email: info@aanhcp.net Website: www.aanhcp.net American Hoof Association - AHA Ventura, CA USA Email: eval@americanhoofassociation.org Website: www.americanhoofassociation.org Pacific Hoof Care Practioners - PHCP Sossity Gargiulo Ventura, CA USA Email: sossity@wildheartshoofcare.com Website: www.pacifichoofcare.org


Equine Science Academy - ESA Derry McCormick Catawissa, MO USA Phone: (636) 274-3401 Email: info@equinesciencesacademy.com Website: www.equinesciencesacademy.com Liberated Horsemanship - CHCP Warrenton, MO USA Phone: (314) 740-5847 Email: BruceNock@mac.com Website: www.liberatedhorsemanship.com

Advertise your business in the Wellness Resource Guide 1-866-764-1212


equine wellness


Canadian Barefoot Hoof Association - CBHA Carolyn Myre Renfrew, ON Canada Phone: (613) 432-3620 Email: info@cdnbha.ca Website: www.cdnbha.ca Natures Barefoot Hoofcare Guild Inc. - NBHG Woodville, ON Canada Phone: (705) 374-5456 Email: kate@natureshoofcare.com Website: www.natureshoofcare.com

BAREFOOT HOOF TRIMMING BRITISH COLUMBIA Christina Cline Abbottsford, BC Canada Phone: (604) 835-1700

Dave Thorpe - CBHA CP, FI Lumby, BC Canada Phone: (250) 938-3486 Email: barefootandbalanced@hotmail.com 250-938-3486

Diane Brown Lumby, BC Canada Phone: (250) 547-6391 Scott Gain, CBHA CP, FI North Okanagan, BC Canada Phone: (250) 229-5453 Email: tsgain@columbiawireless.ca Servicing West & East Kootenays

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

Non-invasive natural hoof care Custom hoof boot fitting services


Second Heart Hoof Care Cohasset, CA USA Phone: (530) 343-7190 Email: secondhearthoofcare@yahoo.com Serving Chico to Redding area

Kimberly Ann Jackson - LH & AANHCP Calabassas, CA USA Phone: (818) 522-0536 Email: KAJ@kimberlyannjackson.com Website: www.kimberlyannjackson.com Serving Agoura to San Diego

Natural Hoof Care Alicia Mosher - PHCP Cottonwood, CA USA Phone: (530) 921-3480 Email: alicia@hoofjunkie.com Website: www.hoofjunkie.com Serving Shasta & Tehama County

Heart n’ Sole Hoof Care Jennifer Reinke - PHCP El Segundo, CA USA Phone: (310) 713-0296 Email: HeartnSoleHoofCare@gmail.com Website: www.heartnsolehoofcare.com Serving Los Angeles County

California Natural Hoof Care Aaron Thayne - AANHCP Laguna Hills, CA USA Phone: (949) 291-2852 Email: californianaturalhoofcare@gmail.com Website: www.californianaturalhoofcare.com Good Hoof Keeping LLC Ramona, CA USA Phone: (619) 719-7903


Cindy Meyer Carbondale, CO USA Phone: (970) 945-5680 Sarah Graves - CHCP Pueblo, CO USA Phone: (719) 406-9945 Email: msbarefootequine@yahoo.com

Barefoot Hoof Trimming — Wellness Resource Guide


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


Jeff Chears Natural Hoof Care Dade City, FL USA Toll Free: (813) 967-2640 Phone: (352) 583-2045 Email: jchears@founderrehab.com Website: www.founderrehab.com


Randy Hensley Natural Equine Hoof - AHA Orient, IA USA Phone: (641) 745-5576 Email: randy@naturalequinehoof.com Website: www.naturalequinehoof.com


Sharon Sanford Campbellsville, KY USA Phone: (270) 469-4481 Ann Corso London, KY USA Phone: (606) 878-0466 Email: naturalhorsecare@earthlink.net


Triple S Farms Julie Sanders Servicing the central Florida area and willing to travel. Altamont, MB Canada Phone: (204) 744-2487 Hoof Nexus The Naked Hoof Trimming Services Daniel E. Hofford The Parkland Region and Surrounding Areas Ocala, FL USA Ochre River, MB Canada Phone: (352) 502-4384 Toll Free: (204) 572-0866 Email: equsnarnd@gmail.com Phone: (204) 572-0866 Website: www.hoofnexus.com Email: thenakedhoof.herrenbrueck@gmail.com Frank Tobias, AANHCP Natural Barefoot Hoof Care for all breeds by Equine Practioner Soundness Practitioner expected to graduate in spring Palm Beach Gardens, FL USA 2012 Phone: (561) 876-2929 MARYLAND Email: info@barefoothoof.com Website: www.barefoothoof.com Coreen Harris Emmitsburg, MD USA GEORGIA Email: alboradapasos @ aol.com All Around Horses MASSACHUSSETS Andrew Leech Dahlonega, GA USA Gwenyth Santagate Phone: (706) 867-4890 Douglas, MA USA Website: www.geocities.com/ Phone: (805) 476-1317 andrewsallaroundhorses/ Website: www.barefoottrim.com

ILLINOIS 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 Dr. Bonnie Harder - AANHCP Ogle, IL USA Phone: (815) 757-0425 Email: drbonniedc@hbac4all.com Website: www.holisticbalanceanimalchiro.com


Mark’s Natural Hoof Care Martinsville, IN USA Phone: (317) 412-2460 Official Easycare Dealer

Advertise your business in the Wellness Resource Guide 1-866-764-1212


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


Cynthia Niemela Minneapolis, MN USA Phone: (612) 481-3036 Website: www.liberatedhorsemanship.com Liberated Horsemanship Trimming Instructor


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


Hoof Authority Asa Stephens, AHA, PHCP Las Vegas, NV USA Phone: (702) 296-6925 Email: asa@hoofauthority.com Website: www.hoofauthority.com

Serving Nevada


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


Amy Sheehy - Natural Hoof Care Professional IIEP Certified Equine Podiatrist Clinton Corners, NY USA Phone: (845) 235-4530 Email: hoofgal@naturestrim.com Website: www.naturestrim.com Specializing in natural trimming and rehabilitation of all hoof problems.

Michelle Collins Galway, NY USA Phone: (518) 275-3260 Email: balancedbarefoot@yahoo.com Serving Eastern Upstate NY

Better Be Barefoot Lockport, NY USA Phone: (716) 432-2218 Email: sherri@betterbebarefoot.com Website: www.betterbebarefoot.com

Natural balance trimming, rehabilitation, and education centre.

Jeannean Mercuri - PHCP Ridge, NY USA Phone: (631) 345-2644 Email: info@gotreeless.com Website: www.gotreeless.com Serving Long Island, NY

Natural Concepts Joseph Skipp Wynantskill, NY USA Phone: (518) 371-0494 Email: joe@naturalhoofconcepts.com Website: www.naturalhoofconcepts.com


HossHoofHo Sandra Judy, Hoof Care Professional Gibsonville, NC USA Phone: (336) 380-5543 Website: www.hosshoofho.com

Hoofcare Professional Trimmer for performance & rehabilitation, providing education and clinics

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

equine wellness


Barefoot Hoof Trimming — Wellness Resource Guide


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-natuwral.ca Website: www.go-natural.ca


Steve Hebrock Akron, OH USA Toll Free: (330) 813-5434 Phone: (330) 644-1954 Natural Barefoot Trimming Emma Everly, AANHCP CP Columbiana, OH USA Phone: (330) 482-6027 Email: emmanaturalhoofcare@comcast.net Website: www.barefoottrimming.com Barefoot Trimming


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

ONTARIO Barefoot Horse Canada.com Anne Riddell, Certified Natural Hoofcare Practitioner Barrie, ON Canada Phone: (705) 427-1682 Email: ariddell@csolve.net Website: www.barefoothorsecanada.com CBHA Field Instructor

Serendales Equine Solutions Trimming, Education, Resources Campbellford, ON Canada Phone: (705) 653-5989 Email: serendales@accel.net Website: www.serendalesmorgans.com Cottonwood Stables Chantelle Barrett - Natural Farrier Elora, ON Canada Phone: (519) 803-8434 Email: cottonwood_stables@hotmail.com Serving Ontario

Vanderbrook Farm and Natural Horsemanship Center Marie Reaume CEMT - Natural Trim Specialist Killaloe, ON Canada Phone: (613) 757-1078 Email: barefootvbf@gmail.com Website: tba Serving Eastern Ontario, Ottawa Valley

Barefoot with BarnBoots Johanna Neuteboom, Natural Hoof Care Practitioner Port Sydney, ON Canada Phone: (705) 385-9086 Email: info@barnboots.ca Website: www.barnboots.ca

Natural horse care services, education and resources


equine wellness

Back to Basics Natural Hoof Care Services Carolyn Myre, CBHA, CP, FL Renfrew, ON Canada Phone: (613) 432-3620 Email: carolyn@b2bhoofcare.com Website: www.b2bhoofcare.com

Servicing Greater Ottawa Area, Upper Ottawa Valley and some areas of Quebec.


Cynthia Niemela Rapid City, South Dakota USA Toll Free: (612) 481-3036 Phone: (612) 481-3036 Website: www.liberatedhorsemanship.com Liberated Horsemanship Trimming Instructor

Natures Hoofcare Kate Romanenko - NBHG Woodville, ON Canada Phone: (705) 374-5456 Email: kate@natureshoofcare.com Website: www.natureshoofcare.com


The Hoof Whisperer - HBGH Woodville, ON Canada Phone: (705) 341-2758 Email: info@thehoofwhisperer.org Website: www.thehoofwhisperer.org

Quality Barefoot Hoofcare in Middle Tennessee.

Serving York, Durham, Brock & Kawartha Lakes, Ontario


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

Windhorse Creations Mavis Pas Oakridge, OR USA Phone: (541) 782-3561 Website: www.windhorse-creations.com

PENNSYLVANIA Bellwether Farm Katrina Ranum Shady Side, Maryland USA Toll Free: (443) - 223-0101 Phone: (410) - 867-0950 Email: info@ladyfarrier.com


Catherine Larose CBHA CP, Rigaud, Quebec Canada Phone: (514) 772-6275 Email: servicesequus@hotmail.com Website: www.servicesequus.com

Servicing ST. Lazare, Hudson, Rigaud,Greater Montreal and area

Certified Hoof Care Professional Miriam Braun, CHCP Stoke, QC Canada Phone: (819) 543-0508 Email: Hoofhealth13@yahoo.com Website: www.soinsdessabots-hoofcare.com

SOUTH CAROLINA Cori Brennan Sharon, SC USA Phone: (803) 927-0018

Trac Right Indian Mound, TN USA Phone: (931) 232-3071 Email: tracright@aol.com Website: www.tracright.com

Kel Manning, CP, Field Instructor, NTW Clinician Knoxville, TN USA Phone: (865) 579-4102 Email: naturalhoofcare@me.com Hoofmaiden Performance Barefoot Hoof Care Elizabeth TeSelle, EQ Leipers Fork, TN USA Phone: (615) 300-6917 Email: hoof_maiden@hotmail.com Website: www.blue-heron-farm.com/ hoofmaiden Servicing Middle Tennessee and online

Natural Hooves Ben Fortkamp Shelbyville, TN USA Phone: (931) 703-8149 Email: ben@naturalhooves.com Website: www.naturalhooves.com

Hoof Rehabilitation Services - Natural Hoof Care Serving - All across Tennessee


Born to Fly, LLC Argyle, TX USA Phone: (940) 455-7219 Website: www.miniaturesforu.com Eddie Drabek El Campo, TX USA Phone: (979) 578-8913 Website: www.drabekhoofcare.com G & G Farrier Service London, TX USA Phone: (325) 265-4250

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

VERMONT Barefoot & Balanced Natalie Gombosi, AANHCP CP E. Poultney , VT USA Phone: (802) 287-9777

VIRGINIA 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

Barefoot Hoof Trimming, Communicators, Equine Shiatsu, Iridology, Massage, Reiki, Thermal Imaging Elizabeth Swank Harrisonburg, VA USA Phone: (540) 434-5286


Natural Hoofcare Services Anne Buteau Shipman, VA USA Phone: 434 263 4946 Email: annebuteau@yahoo.com


Have faith in the healing powers of nature


www.AnimalParadiseCommunication.com • 703-648-1866

Pat Wagner Rainier, WA USA Phone: (360) 446-8699 Leslie Walls RidgeďŹ eld, WA USA Phone: (360) 887-0529 Email: barehoocw@yahoo.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



Cassie Schuster, ND, MH Waller, TX USA Phone: (713) 502-0765 Email: cassie.schuster@yahoo.com Website: www.wellranch.com



Kristina Fritz Catasqua, PA USA Email: equishi@gmail.com

Scott McConaughey Houlton, WI USA Phone: (715) 549-6380 Triangle P Hoofcare Chad Bembenek, AHA Founding Member Prairie Du Sac, WI USA Phone: (920) 210-8906 Email: chad@trianglephoofcare.com Website: www.trianglephoofcare.com Equine Sciences Academy Instructor

FHL Horse Care Mark Stuber Ridgeland, WI USA Phone: (715) 949-1002 Email: fhlhorsecare@chibardun.net Website: ww.fhlhorsecare.com The Natural Hoof Monica Meer Waukesha, WI USA Phone: (262) 968-9499 Email: monica@thenaturalhoof.com Website: www.thenaturalhoof.com


Dr. Bonnie Harder, D.C. Ogle, IL USA Phone: (815) 757-0425 Email: drbonniedc@hbac4all.com Website: www.holisticbalanceanimalchiro.com

Equine Wellness Resource Guide

Promote your holistic business inexpensively to a targeted market! 866-764-1212 wrg@equinewellnessmagazine.com


Your Health 321, LLC Merritt Island, FL USA Toll Free: (321) 432-0174 Phone: (321) 432-0174 Email: lrubin@yourhealth321.com Website: www.yourhealth321.com


Dino Fretterd - CEMT Norco, CA USA Phone: (818) 254-5330 Email: dinosbest@aol.com Website: www.dinosbest.info


Equi-Lutions Niagara Falls, ON Canada Phone: (905) 394-0960 Email: equi-lutions@live.ca Website: www.equi-lutions.com EQmassage.ca Peterborough, ON Canada Phone: (705) 872-2526 Email: lindsay@eqmassage.ca Website: www.eqmassage.ca Horses2go Queensville, ON Canada Phone: (905) 251-0221 Email: horses_2go@hotmail.com Website: www.horses2go.com Serving Ontario - York Region

Sierra Acres Rockwood, ON Canada Phone: (519) 856-4246 Email: anneporteous@sympatico.ca

Including Acupressure - Complete health assesment to locate trouble areas

Professional Edge Equine Massage Southwold, ON Canada Phone: (519) 652-2789 Website: www.professionaledgeequinemassa ge.com Serving Southwest Ontario


Natural Horse Power LLC Eaton, CO USA Phone: (970) 590-3875 Email: janet@naturalhorsepower.net Website: www.naturalhorsepower.net Serving Colorado and surrounding area


Equio, llc Jennifer McDermott, RMT Equine Reiki Guilford, CT USA Phone: (203) 434-9505 Email: jennifermcdermott@mac.com

Reiki therapy & Reiki practice for both horse and rider. CertiďŹ cation classes offered for Reiki Master/ Teacher level.


Dayment Ranch High River, AB Canada Phone: (403) 988-8715 Email: tobi.mcleod@backontrack.com Website: www.backontrack.com/ca


Equine Wellness Canada Ann Ashby, C.E.T. Ontario Canada Phone: (905) 503-0549 Email: ann@equinewellnesscanada.ca Website: www.equinewellnesscanada/ca Thermal Bridge Martin Hymus PO Box 58 Kirkton ON Canada Phone:(519) 709-4071 Email: info@thermalbridge.ca

ONTARIO, NEW YORK & FLORIDA ThermoScanIR Toronto, ON Canada Phone: (416) 258-5888 Email: info@ThermoScanIR.com Website: www.ThermoScanIR.com Advertise your business in the Wellness Resource Guide 1-866-764-1212

equine wellness


The science of bitting – part 1 By Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Diplomate ACVSMR, MRCVS


its are mandatory in many types of competition, and every rider is faced with the challenge of selecting the right one for his or her horse. Because the bit contacts sensitive structures in the horse’s mouth, improper selection, fitting or use is likely to cause resistance to rein action, or even injury to the mouth. Areas where the bit crosses a bony surface, such as the hard palate and the bars of the mouth, are particularly vulnerable to painful pressure from the bit.

Taking away guesswork Tack stores carry a wide range of bits – some familiar, others novel and different (and not all legal for use in recognized competition). In recent years, bits have been designed to make the horse more comfortable, rather than as a means of increasing rider control, which is certainly a positive step. Unfortunately, the information needed to help riders choose appropriate bits is still limited.


equine wellness

In an effort to introduce some science into the art of bitting and bit selection, researchers at the McPhail Center have completed a series of studies on equine oral conformation and bitting. In this article, I’ll describe the position of various bits in the horse’s mouth and their relationship to sensitive structures. In Part 2 of this article (next issue), we’ll explore the movements of the bit within the oral cavity.

Oral anatomy and conformation The bit rests on the tongue and the gums overlying the bars of the mandibles. The hard palate, which forms the roof of the mouth, marks the upper boundary of the oral cavity. The tongue normally fills the oral cavity, and the bit is interposed between the soft muscular tongue and the hard bony palate. When the horse accepts the bit, the muscles of the tongue relax, allowing it to be indented by the bit, thereby relieving bit pressure against the palate. The tongue usually covers the bars and protects them from direct bit pressure. Horses differ in the size and shape of their oral cavities, and these differences dictate the mouthpiece types and sizes that can be accommodated comfortably. Factors to consider include:

Bit and radiograph images courtesy of the McPhail Equine Performance Center

Bits are required in many competitive disciplines. With so many types to choose from, how do you select the best option for your horse? Let’s look at bit action and its effects on the horse’s mouth.

The first part of our study used x-rays to measure the internal dimensions of the horse’s oral cavity. The goal was to determine whether mouth size was proportional to horse size. The subjects were four Warmbloods and four Thoroughbreds. The height and length of each horse’s oral cavity were measured radiographically, and these dimensions were correlated with the horse’s height at the withers. The results showed no relationship between a horse’s height and the size of his oral cavity. This means we cannot assume a large horse should wear a bigger bit than a small horse.

A look at bit position Bits vary in size, shape and mechanics of action. Most riders are aware that individual horses respond better to certain bits, and that these preferences may be related to differences in oral conformation or the horse’s sensitivity to the mechanism of action. Our subjective judgment of the horse’s response is the main criterion used to select an appropriate bit for him. The goals of our second study were to describe the position of different types of bits inside the horse’s mouth, and to measure their proximity to his hard palate and premolar teeth, both of which are readily identified on radiographs. The eight horses from the previous study were fitted with a snaffle bridle that was adjusted to produce two small wrinkles at the corners of the lips. A flash noseband was fitted snugly, but not tightly enough to indent the skin. We studied four bits. The width of each mouthpiece was equal to or up to 0.5 cm (about ¼”) wider than the horse’s mouth, and the mouthpieces were the same thickness at the point where they crossed the bars of the mouth. We took two radiographs each of the four bits: one with the reins loose, and the other with equal tension applied to both reins.


Loose-Ring Jointed Snaffle: The single-jointed bit (right) was positioned with the central joint and the arms of the mouthpieces hanging down toward the incisor teeth, with the mouthpiece rotated around

Lateral-view radiograph of a horse’s head. The horse is facing to the right. The buckles are for the flash noseband, and the two white dots are metallic markers taped to the horse’s skin to calibrate the distance measurements. The horse is wearing a single-jointed, loose-ring snaffle. The parts of the bit are labeled R (rings), M (mouthpiece), and J (joint). Note the shape of the joint and its proximity to the palate.

No matter where you ride, be safe and be sure your horse knows how to handle the issues it will face.

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• The position of the corners of the lips relative to the bars • The width across the jaw between the corners of the lips on the left and right sides • The shape of the palate (flat or arched) • The thickness and width of the tongue

Kerri-Jo Stewart BPE, MSc Specializing in capturing the equine athlete Maple Ridge, BC + 604-639-8353

Argamak.ca equine wellness


the ring to the four o’clock position rather than being in the middle of the ring at three o’clock. The sharply curved profile of the joint in the middle of the mouthpiece protruded toward the horse’s palate. The loose ring allowed the mouthpiece to rotate freely, so the horse could use his tongue to move it into different positions, perhaps as a means of changing the areas under pressure.

Saddle fit tips Tip # 6 – Saddle length Does your horse have a “four beat” canter? Does he have tense back muscles with impaired movement? If so, you may be faced with a saddle length issue. Many of us are familiar with the term “short-backed”. But few are aware that a horse with a back of normal length may actually have a very short saddle-support area. The length of the saddle-support area (where the saddle must sit) is what saddle makers and fitters are concerned with, since it determines how long the saddle panels can be.

When tension was applied to the reins, the mouthpiece pressed more deeply into the tongue, causing the joint to move away from the palate. Single-jointed bits are usually described as having a nutcracker-like action, the implication being that when tension is applied to the reins, the angle between the arms of the mouthpiece closes with the risk of the joint being pushed toward the palate. In our study, any nutcracker effect that tended to push the joint toward the palate was offset by more tongue indentation.


Short-backed breeds Breeds that commonly have a short saddle-support area are Friesians and Arabians, Baroque horses such as Andalusians, Lusitanos, PREs and Lippizaners, and frequently “modern-type” Warmbloods. A common saddle fitting issue faced by these breeds is that the panels on dressage saddles are often too long for their backs. In order for these horses to develop to their fullest potential, and work willingly, happily and without pain, it is crucial they have saddles with panels that are the correct length for them.

Finding the saddle-support area Here’s how to identify your horse’s saddle-support area: 1) With a piece of chalk, outline the edge of your horse’s shoulder blade. The saddle must sit behind the shoulder. However, particularly at the canter, a saddle that is too long will often get driven forward into the shoulder. As we learned in last issue’s “Saddle fit tips” (billet alignment), this can produce a buildup of scar tissue on the scapula. Over time, the scapula may actually be chipped away by the tree points of the saddle. 2) Locate your horse’s last floating rib. To do this, find where his hairlines come together in the area of his flank and draw a line straight up to his spine. The saddle cannot extend past the last floating rib.

Lateral-view radiograph of a horse’s head with the Baucher bit in place. Labels are P (palate), T (tongue), UR (upper ring, for attachment of cheekpiece), R (lower ring, for attachment of rein), M (mouthpiece) and J (joint). Note the higher position of the mouthpiece on the horse’s tongue as compared to the loose-ring snaffle and the proximity of the joint to the palate.


Signs your saddle is too long If a saddle is too long for a particular horse, the rear of the panels will extend past his saddle-support area. This is extremely uncomfortable for the horse, as it puts pressure on his lumbar region. A horse ridden in a saddle that’s too long will often tighten his lower back muscles. In some cases, you can actually see the horse hollow and drop his back in an attempt to get away from the pressure of the saddle. (For an example of this, watch the video “How to Tell if Your Saddle Hurts Your Horse” on the Schleese Saddlery Service Educational YouTube Channel at youtube.com/mjpschleese. The horse may buck in an effort to get the weight off his lumbar area. He may also have difficulty moving forward into the canter, or be persistently “off” for no readily apparent reason. This article was provided courtesy of Schleese Saddlery Service, partner in Saddlefit4Life and the United States Dressage Federation. Saddle length is one of the 36 points analyzed in a Schleese saddle fit session. The company offers onsite personal saddle fit evaluations and demonstrations, trainer education days, female saddle design, saddle fit to the biomechanics of movement, and comfort and protection against pain and long term damage.

schleese.com or info@schleese.com


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Baucher: This snaffle also has a single joint, but its mechanics are different from the loose-ring snaffle’s because of the way it attaches to the bridle cheekpieces and reins. With a Baucher, the cheekpiece attaches to a small upper ring that does not allow the mouthpiece to rotate around it. Consequently, the mouthpiece is fixed in a more elevated position on the horse’s tongue than the loose-ring snaffle. In this position, the bit’s joint is adjacent to the horse’s palate and the mouthpiece has relatively little mobility, so it’s difficult for the horse to move the bit to relieve pressure on sensitive structures.

Lateral-view radiograph of a horse’s head with the KK Ultra in place. Labels P (palate), T (tongue), R (ring), M (mouthpiece) and L (central link). Note the smooth surface of the central link facing the palate.

KK Ultra: The loose rings on this snaffle allow the mouthpiece to rotate downward. Because the central link is oriented at an angle to the mouthpiece, the downward rotation of the mouthpiece brings the smooth surface of the central link adjacent to the palate. The central link was located farther from the palate than the joint of a single-jointed bit. Rein tension moved the entire mouthpiece of the KK Ultra away from the palate by compressing the tongue, and the central link rolled upward over the surface of the tongue as tension increased. The relatively large separation between the central link of

this bit and the palate, combined with the smoothness of the link surface, may explain why many horses appear to be comfortable and perform well in this bit.


Myler Comfort Snaffle: A wide range of Myler bits is available. One of the bits evaluated in this study was the Myler Comfort Snaffle. As shown in as shown at right, the two arms of the mouthpiece meet within a central barrel that allows a swiveling motion but does not permit any nutcracker action. Radiographs showed that the mouthpiece was positioned quite high on the horse’s tongue and tended to press deeply into the tongue, indicating that the tongue muscles were relaxed. The position and angle of the Myler mouthpiece did not change when tension was applied to the reins, but the bit moved away from the palate by further indenting the tongue.

Lateral-view radiograph of a Myler comfort snaffle in place. Labels are P (palate), T (tongue), R (ring), M (mouthpiece) and B (central barrel). Note that the surface of the barrel facing the palate is smooth, and that the bit is pressed deeply into the tongue, even without any tension on the reins.

Some horses that resist the action of conventional bits perform well in a Myler bit. This increased acceptance may be related to the smoothness of the surface barrel, the higher position of the mouthpiece on the tongue, the fact that the angle of the mouthpiece does not change when tension is applied to the reins, or all three. Another possibility is that the relatively rigid Myler mouthpiece allows the horse to push against it with his tongue to control pressure on the bars.

Evergreen Holistic Veterinary Care

The results of our study indicated that the size and shape of the oral cavity vary among horses, and that these differences are likely to affect each horse’s comfort levels with different types of bits. Stay tuned for Part 2, in which we take a close look at how bits move within the horse’s oral cavity. Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Diplomate ACVSMR, MRCVS, is a worldrenowned expert on equine biomechanics and conditioning. Since 1997, she has held the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, East Lansing. The position focuses on dressage- and sport horse research. This research was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Eventing Association. The research was performed by Dr. Jane Manfredi when she worked in the McPhail Center through the Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholars Program.

Hannah Evergreen DVM UCertified in Veterinary Acupuncture

USports Medicine Lameness

UCertified in Animal Chiropractic

UHorse Rescue/Rehabilitation

UAdvanced Equine Dentistry


9812 215th Avenue SE Snohomish, WA 98290 t JOGP!FIWDFRVJOF DPN

Reprinted with permission from the USDF Connection.

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New Kid

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

Early nutrition and dental health


roodmare nutrition greatly influences the dental development of the unborn fetus. The early teeth created from connective tissue during fetal growth form the foundation for the horse’s dental health from weaning through life. Unlike the teeth of most mammals, horse’s teeth continuously grow from the roots, which means in both young and adult horses, the development of new tooth enamel and bone depends on early nutrition groundwork. Giving broodmares the additional nutrients required for proper development of fetal connective tissues and bones can be accomplished with a concentrated nutrient formulation for broodmares, and feeding whole oats separately for the extra calories needed during pregnancy and lactation. Feeding whole oats separately from other nutrients has many advantages. When feeding a set amount of concentrated nutrients, you have the assurance of feeding proper levels of nutrients without risking under- or over-supplementation. Increasing or decreasing the calorie intake for proper body condition is accomplished by adjusting the feeding level of whole oats. Dr. Frank Gravlee graduated from Auburn University School of Medicine and practiced 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. lifedatalabs.com


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on the block The technology behind this new line of products is safe, natural, effective, and affordable – what more could you ask for?


hrough his experiences with his own horses, Paso Fino breeder Roey Yaloz saw a need for a fastacting product to assist in healing equine wounds and sores. “The silver-based technology behind our product is one of a kind, and with the help of several colleagues in the pharmaceutical arena we discovered it produced remarkable results when used on horses,” says Roey. In 2011, Silverquine (silverquine.com) opened its doors, with their wound and summer sore dressing being the first in their product lineup. In the coming year a shampoo, thrush product, eye solution, and wound wash will be added. “We’re about more than just the treatment of wounds – we aim to provide the ultimate in care and protection for your horse,” Roey continues. “Whether your horse is competitive or a companion, we know he is a beloved member of your family. You want your horse to heal quickly and painlessly from any injury, and we have the patented, unique formula to allow you to do just that.” In addition to being a wonderful and safe way to heal wounds, Silverquine will not attract flies or insects, like other topical medications. Since there is no wound maceration while using the gel, you can leave the sore open to fresh air, for optimal healing. Your horse will heal in comfort and you can keep an eye on the progress. “Our goal is to make this product available throughout the world for use on our equine friends. Once someone tries it they are impressed by its effectiveness,” says Roey.


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“Join the Holistic Herd as we support a holistic lifestyle for horses, humans and companion animals. February 18, 2012 – SUPERBUGS Explored Holistically March 9 - 11, 2012 – Holistic Horse Affair at Rocky Mountain Horse Expo March 17, 2012

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You need your horse to be healthy and performing at its peak! SeaBuck Complete can help you achieve this goal. SeaBuck Complete is a natural health and performance product for all classes and breeds of horses. Made from the nutrient-rich sea buckthorn berry, SeaBuck Complete is easily absorbed and helps maintain a horse’s delicate yet demanding bio-system.

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Classifieds exhibitors wanted

associations THE CANADIAN ANIMAL MASSAGE & BODYWORKERS ASSOCIATION (CAMBA) – Mission is to network, encourage and maintain a high standard of business practice within this growing industry & take advantage of the more affordable premiums of a group rate insurance. Canadian Inquiries: www.c-amba.org, bootcamp147@orilliapronet.com INTERNATIONAL ASSOC. OF ANIMAL MASSAGE & BODYWORK/ ASSOC. OF CANINE WATER THERAPY – Welcome trained practitioners of Animal Massage & Bodywork. The IAAMB/ACWT supports and promotes the practitioners of complementary care for animals through networking, continuing education, website, online referrals, newsletters, insurance, annual educational conferences, lobbying and credentialing of schools. www.IAAMB.org

Bare Hoof TRIMMING THE HOOF WHISPERER – Barefoot trimming for your equines – horses and donkeys. We trim to promote hoof function and hoof health. Member of Nature’s Barefoot Hoofcare Guild, Inc. Serving York, Durham, Brock, Kawartha Lakes and Oro-Medonte. www.hoofwhisperer.org info@thehoofwhisperer.org or Call Paola di Paolo (705) 341-2758

BITLESS BRIDLES NURTURAL HORSE BETTER BITLESS BRIDLE – Is ideal for those who want to school without a bit or are avid trail riders. The design is extremely durable, and the hardware is top-notch. This bridle is highly effective, never compromising safety or control. It is ideal for Western and English disciplines alike. Many riders will appreciate the variety of colour and material options available – truly an all-around bridle. www.nurturalhorse.com or (877) 877-5845

COMMUNICATORS JANET DOBBS – WORKSHOPS AND CONSULTATIONS. Animal communication, Animal/Human Reiki. Deepening the bond between animals and humans. For information about hosting a workshop in your area. janet@animalparadisecommunication.com, (703) 648-1866 or www.animalparadisecommunication.com

Events February 23-26, 2012 Horse World Expo 301-916-0852 info@horseworldexpo.com www.horseworldexpo.com


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HOLISTIC HORSE AFFAIR – Over 15, 000 attendees in 3 days? Where? The Holistic Horse Affair at the 2012 Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver, CO from March 9-11, 2012. Join us as a vendor. www.Holistic-Herd.com info@holistic-herd.com (970) 631-7812

healing essences HORSES HAVE EMOTIONS TOO! – Canadian Forest Tree Essences offers Vibrational Tree Essences for horses and other animals…Available for vets, horse trainers, animal communicators, retailers and individuals. Web: www.essences.ca Email: cfte@ essences.ca, Tel: (888) 410-4325

natural products ARENA DUST CONTROL – “Just Add Arenas” #1311 is a DIY, all natural dust control for indoor arenas. Simply spread the granular product and let the horses work it in. No more watering or oiling. Free footing assessment testing. www.justaddhorses.ca for video. (800) 563-5947 CALIFORNIA TRACE – Is a concentrated trace mineral supplement designed for horses on west coast forage diets. In addition to the balanced trace minerals, each serving contains biotin, vitamin A, vitamin E, lysine and methionine. California Trace supports optimal hoof growth and healthy coats that resist sun bleaching and fading. A common comment from customers after just a few months of feeding California Trace is that their horses seem to “glow.” It’s not unusual to see the incidence of skin problems and allergies decrease over time while feeding California Trace. www.californiatrace.com or (877) 632-3939 ECOLICIOUS EQUESTRIAN – Detox your grooming routine with natural earth friendly horse care products so delicious, you’ll want to borrow them from your horse. 100% Free of Nasty Chemicals, Silicones & Parabens. 100% Naturally Derived & Organic Human Grade Ingredients, Plant Extracts & Essential Oils. www.ecoliciousequestrian.com letusknow@ecoliciousequestrian.com (877) 317-2572 FOR LOVE OF THE HORSE – Natural Herbal Horse Health Care. Contemporary Chinese Herbal Solutions precisely formulated to target the root of the issue; Immune Health, Insulin Resistance, Laminitis, Hoof Abscesses, Gastric Ulcers, Allergic Skin Reactions, Pain Relief, Uveitis and more. Nourish your Horse’s Health at the Source. (866) 537-7336 www.forloveofthehorse.com

GOLD NUGGET: Superior Support for the Senior Horse – Formulated by Nationally Board Certified Naturopath, Dr. Cassie Schuster. Real relief for the horse you love. Joint & digestive care your horse will feel. Blended especially for the palate of the senior equine. Ingredients: Organic Turmeric, Fenugreek, Parsley, Pumpkin Seeds, Milk Thistle, Eleuthero, Spirulina, Probiotics and Hemp. www.wellranch.com HEALTH-E is the most potent equine vitamin E in the country at over 16, 000 units/oz. Contains all 8 forms of vitamin E including the natural form for complete protection. Lowest price per unit in the USA. www.equinemedsurg.com equimedsurg@aol.com (610) 436-5154 STALL BIO-SECURITY – Just Add Horses “Stall SecureSpray” #1317. Instantly any stall can be like a hospital. Also use for buckets, tack, equipment and trailers. A must for shows! Leading Tack shops, Country Depot, System Fence, Spectrum Nasco. www.justaddhorses.ca, (800) 563-5947

Retailers & Distributors Wanted EQUINE LIGHT THERAPY – Many veterinarians and therapists offer their clients the healing benefits of photonic energy with our Equine Light Therapy Pads! Contact us to learn more about the advantages of offering them through your practice! According to “Gospel”…Equine Light Therapy/Canine Light Therapy. www.equinelighttherapy.com, questions@ equinelighttherapy.com, (615) 293-3025 HORSE & DOG TREATS – Canadian made – no additives or preservatives. Your horses and dogs will love it! We work closely with and support our retailers – check us out @ www.barnies.ca or call (905) 767-8372 SEABUCK CANADA – Seabuck is a natural equine health product and performance product for all classes and breeds supporting healthy digestive function, maintain health skin and coat, and promote healthy reproductive function. www. professionaledgeequinemassage.com ronkjones@yahoo.com ● (519) 652-2789

schools & training INTEGRATED TOUCH THERAPY, INC. – Has taught animal massage to thousands of students from all over the world for over 17 years. Offering intensive, hands-on workshops. Free brochure: (800) 251-0007, wshaw1@bright.net, www.integratedtouchtherapy.com

Post your event online at: equinewellnessmagazine.com/events

February 24-25, 2012 Women in the Horse Industry whinboss@yahoo.com www.womenhorseindustry.com

March 9-11, 2012 Rocky Mtn Horse Expo - Holistic Horse Fair Robin@holistic-herd.com www.holistic-herd.com/rmhe-2012/

March 16-18, 2012 Can-Am Equine Emporium 416-587-0003 rmillar@bell.net www.canamequine.ca

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Give your horse the NUTRIENTS he needs without the EXTRA calories! Your feeding solution is in the Bag... the Barn Bag®

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It’s the easy, healthy and affordable way to manage your horse’s weight!




Barn Bag® pelleted feed concentrate balances minerals, adds vitamins, phospholipids and Omega 3 fatty acids, and provides the building blocks for efficient protein production.


Barn Bag® from Life Data Labs, Inc. is designed to balance the hay and/or pasture diet of pleasure and performance horses without adding starch or extra calories.

If your horse needs an additional source of calories to maintain body weight, simply add oats.


Providing your equine partner with optimum nutrition isn’t always easy. Under and over supplementation are common problems, and often result from feeding the easy keeper very little or the hard keeper a substantial quantity of a fortified feed.