I have pulled ticks off our horses at times, as well as off myself. It seems we can only keep our fingers crossed that no one (horse or person) contracts Lyme disease, as there are no vaccinations against it that I’ve heard of to date, except for in dogs.
It is a daunting challenge to protect a horse from ticks. Personally I think insect/fly sprays used on horses are virtually ineffective and don’t last longer than a few minutes. I have no idea how you would go about stopping ticks, OR how you could ever seriously inspect an animal the size of a horse. The ticks I have found on horses have been mostly by chance; they can be felt, and often cause a swelling or thickened area. But then, so do the biting black flies.
Sadly, New England states are epicenters for Lyme-disease-bearing ticks… although I have been in areas of Tennessee and North Carolina which had TONS MORE ticks (based on personal observations). Thank goodness there don’t seem to be so MANY ticks in south/central New Hampshire! It seems that Lyme has now spread as far south as Virginia, if not further.
Also sadly, poor horses are simply magnets for biting insects of all sorts. What a huge target they make! I HAVE found that “Swat” fly-repellent ointment (I use clear, NOT pink) is a great deterrent to black flies. I apply it inside my horses’ ears, on their sheath areas and inside thighs, and to chest and armpits if they get bite irritations there. Applying every few days seems to work because Swat is like vaseline and just stays in place. One of our boys has skin more sensitive than the other to fly bites, and he gets more bumps/itchy places.
With an emphasis on traction and performance, the FiveFingers TrekSport features a cleated 4 mm Vibram rubber outsole and a Coconut Active Carbon upper for natural breathability and abrasion resistance.
Daily walking/power walking; plan to trek/hike in them. My second pair of Five Fingers, have had Flows for 2 years. Seems my Flows are a size too large, these TrekSports fit better– thicker soles, bettter traction for trails and streets. Like getting a foot massage while you walk, I feel they truly are healthy for your feet and legs.
I’m wondering how many other horses are curious about wild turkeys?
Two mornings ago, I was awakened at the “a– crack of dawn” and became aware of a very loud “Gobble-gobble-gobble-boggle” outside. I knew we had a wild tom turkey with a hen recently visiting, and I was rolling over to go back to sleep, when Hubby mentioned that the horses were watching something (a section of their runout area is a couple hundred feet behind our house and we can see them there from our bedroom window.)
Hen turkey grazing while her tom gobbled insults at horses.
So I roused myself to see our “boys” (brothers Glendale and Gilford) approaching a fenceline with trepidation, listening, and staring intently past a closed gate– and then scurrying back away from the very loud gobbles in the next field. I could not see the field because of trees near the house, so I had to go downstairs and creep onto our back porch to spot the tom turkey in the open field about 300 feet from the horses.
This tom was full feather tail raised face on to the horses, strutting around in slow motion in small circles and gobbling at them when he faced them; he was flat out trying his hardest to intimidate them. His hen meanwhile was grazing in another area of the field paying no attention whatsoever.
Well the boys WERE intimidated, that large dark THING was so loud and they were not used to seeing a tom, especially a belligerent one. I have seen Glendale once or twice actually chase a flock of hens out of his pasture, I assume either with some idea of protecting his grass, or else just coltish silliness. But the horses this time were snorting and blowing and staring. Once one of them gave out with a warning gunshot snort. If you have never heard a horse do that, it is quite startling and as loud as a… well… as a gunshot. Or a whale blowing, but not quite so “huge.”
Just this morning the turkey hen wandered up close to the house to find seeds under my bird feeder, which is 15 feet from our back door. Her clucks woke me up, and our English setter Peaches got ALL interested and pointy and creeping around from window to window. As the hen moved away, I noticed Glendale approaching her from the other side of his pasture fence, trying to get a better look. Maybe he wanted to be sure it wasn’t that loud, aggressive tom!
You gotta wonder sometimes what– if anything– goes through the minds of horses!
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Check your horse’s weight. If your horse is in good flesh, he’ll be more likely to do well foraging for food than if he’s underweight, or has been ill. If he’s underweight, follow your veterinarian’s guidelines for upping your horse’s weight now, before winter comes. Consider turning out your horse with a little extra fat to help keep him warm. Supplement his forage. If your horse is underweight, or prone to joint and arthritis problems that may limit his grazing range, supplement his forage with high-quality hay. Check his skin and haircoat. Healthy skin and a good haircoat will help your horse conserve heat. Ask your veterinarian to check for any problems. Assess the pasture’s physical shape. Assess the pasture’s fencing and terrain, and check for any potential hazards, with a walk-through with the pasture owner. If you see anything amiss, choose another pasture. Give him shelter. Most healthy horses have no problem wintering without a formal shelter, if they have access to natural shelter. If blizzard conditions will be a problem, invest in a sturdy run-in shed, with at least two walls and a roof. Assess pecking order. Assess the personality of the other horses in the pasture for “pecking order”; timid horses have more trouble doing well than aggressive ones, and need close watching and extra feeding. Orient your horse. When you introduce your horse to his new pasture, lead him around. Show him the fence boundaries and any terrain variables. Check him daily. Don’t ignore your horse. Visit him every day. Halter him, groom him, clean his hooves, and check for injuries. Keep up regular farrier and veterinary appointments.
————————- Barney Fleming, DVM, vets more than 60 endurance rides per year, gives endurance clinics and workshops, and is a professional lecturer on the sport of endurance riding and other equine subjects.
There comes a point in every horse enthusiast’s life when they move on from learning with a club’s equipment to buying their own kit. One of the most personal, and most expensive, items on the list is your saddle. Equestrian saddles must be chosen and fitted correctly in order to ensure the best performance and safety for you and your horse. With a properly fitted saddle, both you and your horse will feel more comfortable when out riding, making the experience as enjoyable as possible.
Your choice of saddle should take into account the type of riding you intend to do. Not only would your choice of saddle affect the level of control you will enjoy over your horse, but it can also be beneficial in preventing back and muscle pain for both the horse and the rider. It is therefore important that you acquaint yourself with the different types on the market and what to look out for when choosing your first saddle.
Types of saddles
The English general-purpose saddle - The flaps on an English saddle are cut forward more generously to allow for occasional jumps. It has shorter billet straps, in stark contrast to the dressage saddle. This saddle is suitable if you like riding on the flat and occasionally hack or pop your horse over fences and low obstacles.
Western reining saddles - These saddles typically sport the flat seat favored by those who like riding reining patterns. Western saddles are usually custom made to fit you and your horse while keeping the weight as light as possible. You should consider a western saddle if you have a working horse on a farm, a cattle ranch or a similar setting. Since the western saddle comes with very little padding, you may have to use a blanket to increase comfort for your horse.
Endurance saddles - These are lightweight saddles built with close contact in mind. This saddle comes with extra padding and a flexible design that adjusts to the horse’s movement, thus maximizing comfort for both the horse and the rider. This makes them the ideal choice if you are into trail riding and endurance riding.
Dressage horse saddles - This is a variant of the English general-purpose saddles. A dressage saddle would have a deep seat with straight cut flaps. This design ensures that you sit deeply in the saddle thus providing closer comfort with your horse. Close contact makes it easier for you to cue your horse with precision.
What you should look for in a saddle
After identifying the right type of saddle for your horse, the next step is to choose one that fits. Below are the different elements to consider.
Seat - The seat of the saddle should lie close to your horse’s back; the closer it is the better. This enables you to take better control of your horse. Anything two or more inches above the back is too high. The lowest part of the seat, called the pocket, should be near the middle of the seat. It should also be roomy enough to allow you to slide back and forth.
Horn and swells - This makes the biggest difference between a cutting saddle and a reining saddle. In a reining saddle, you should be able to move your rein hand unobstructed. When the horn/swell is too high, it may keep getting in your way. The horn should not exceed a height of 3 ½ inches while the swell should not be higher than 8 inches. However for a cutting saddle, the horn and the swell can be higher, around 8 ½ to 9 inches.
Stirrup leathers - This is one the most critical parts of a saddle, yet it is often overlooked. You should have the stirrup leathers hung forward. Ideally, they should be a few inches behind the swells. If the stirrup leathers are hung back, your feet will be behind your body’s center of gravity causing you to fall forward. The stirrup leathers should also be made from thin, flexible leather to increase the precision of your leg cues.
Cantle - Avoid any saddle with a cantle six or more inches high. If that’s the case, it’s likely it will hit your back when you try sitting a hard stop.
Tree - Ensure that the tree fits the back of your horse. If it’s too wide or too narrow, your horse will be uncomfortable. There should be ample clearance between the gullet and the horse’s withers
Fitting the horse
It is very important that your saddle fits the horse. Avoid making any compromise in the rigging when you’re choosing the saddle. Ideally, you should purchase a saddle with a 7/8 or full double rigging.
Most horses are comfortable with saddles with a 7/8 rigging so avoid choosing a center-rigged saddle. Ensure that you consider the way your horse is built. The narrowest point of the horse’s underline is just behind the front length and this is where the cinch would automatically rest.
When in doubt about your choice of saddle, it’s worth shopping around and taking opinions from a few different dealers and shops. While one or two might be a little biased depending on sales or deals that they have on, the expert opinion of some may save both you and your horse a lot of grief in the long run.
contributed by Lindsey Campbell of Pampeano “exquisite leather products”
Q: Is it possible to feed a horse with the goal of improving his behavior?
A: The answer to this question obviously depends on the horse’s current diet and work, as well as what behavior you want to improve. But, for sure, the short and general answer is yes. Diet and feeding schedule, exercise, and style of human handling are likely the three most important factors in horses’ behavioral health. When evaluating a specific behavior problem or when advising clients on maintaining their horses’ behavioral and physical health, equine behavior specialists put a lot of thought into diet–not only what owners are feeding, but also the feeding schedule. Diet and feeding schedule are particularly important when it comes the most common vices: cribbing and other stereotypies, wood chewing, hyperactivity, or other problems associated with a “hot temperament” or tendency for anxious “meltdowns.”
Some of the current recommendations concerning effects of diet and feeding schedule on behavior are based on research, but most are based on experience and anecdotal evidence. This is one topic that could certainly benefit from more research, using well-designed studies in which the behavior evaluations are done by a researcher who is blinded to each horse’s diet and feeding schedule.
Providing your horse free access to forage (grass or hay) is important for both behavior and health. The horse’s digestive system has evolved to accommodate near-continuous ingestion of calorie-sparse roughage. In natural settings, which are in my opinion the gold standard of health and normal behavior, the stomach is probably never empty nor full. Gastric ulcers and their associated problematic behavior changes in these scenarios are probably quite rare.
In general, horses that can be maintained in reasonably good condition on mostly grass and grass hay seem to have the fewest behavior problems and also seem to have the most relaxed and easiest dispositions. This type of diet is closest to that for which the equine digestive system evolved to handle. Grazing species foraging under natural environmental conditions move as they forage continuously. In contrast, horses in stalls or paddocks with hay bunks are likely stationary while feeding. For horses fed in stalls, divide hay into small amounts placed at multiple locations around a stall. Most horses when eating will move from pile to pile in a style of “take a couple bites, take a couple steps,” that resembles natural movement during grazing. It may take a few days for this “stall grazing” behavior to emerge, but for most horses it does. It is my impression from watching 24/7 videos of horses in stalls fed in one place versus being fed so that they “stall graze” that their behavior pattern appears more normal and relaxed. They take considerably more footsteps per 24 hours when “stall grazing,” and they do so in a normally relaxed manner similar to horses grazing naturally.
For horses in heavy training or work that require more energy than can be provided with forage alone, feeding calories from oils (fat) rather than carbohydrates has been shown to result in fewer undesirable behavioral and physical health effects. Many of the currently marketed feed formulations have higher percentages of fat than the traditional sweet feeds. These higher fat formulations are recommended for preventing and alleviating behavior problems such as hyperactivity, stereotypies, “hot” or “anxious” temperament, and so forth.
Food urgency and food-related aggression are particular behavior problems that result from feeding infrequent highly palatable, calorie-dense grain meals. A fair percentage of horses will become food urgent to the point of becoming anxious, hyperactive, and/or aggressive at grain feeding time or whenever they anticipate a grain meal. They may develop a stereotypy such as weaving, tongue lollying, or pawing associated with feeding times. They may guard their feed tub or that area of the stall and paddock, or even the person who feeds them. Food-urgent horses in turnout can be dangerously aggressive toward pasturemates. When in a stall they can be aggressive toward caretakers at feeding time, sometimes lunging toward the feed tub or feed scoop, or even turning butt and double barrel kicking to knock the feed bucket out of your hands. For such horses, an all-forage diet usually eliminates the problem.
Finally, nutritional supplements, often marketed specifically for behavioral health, are a very interesting yet frustrating topic for horse owners and managers as well as for equine nutrition and behavior specialists. As is the case for nutritional supplements for humans, so many are available, but for most there is little to none, or widely conflicting, research evidence of their efficacy. In many instances, while it is assumed that feed supplements are safe, there often is no research addressing their safety.
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Reprinted from theHorse.com, Dieting for Disposition
by Sue McDonnell, PhD, Certified AAB • Jul 01, 2011 • Article #28126