Archive for July, 2010
BRAN MASH MADNESS
We are almost at the end of our contest and we are awaiting your comments! Send in those mash recipes. And, if you don’t use a mash, no problem…just write a comment, don’t be shy!
Mash Myths: So you think a mash is only for winter consumption. Well, actually you are wrong. Deco’s Monster Mash can be given all year round. During the summer weather add cold water instead of hot and let stand for a little longer. This mash is really good for hydration which is very important during the hot summer days. Also, giving a mash during a show is a great way in aiding hydration and horses will always eat their mash when not eating their typical food.
Larissa reviewed this product earlier this year:
Not only is this mash yummy, all-natural and nutritious, it also aids in hydration which is so critical to maintain in our competitive companions!
To read the full article, go to Deco’s Monster Mash Product Review!
We’ve made this contest very easy for you. Send in your comments using the “comment” link below! We will be selecting our winner at random, so everyone has a chance to win!
Larissa and Libby
It’s a hot, humid day with the sun blistering down and you are riding your horse along the trail, or in the arena. Exercise is moderate, after all, it’s hot outside. So, who do you think is likely to overheat….you or your horse? The answer may surprise you to know that your horse gets hotter much faster than you and is more in danger of the negative effects of heat stress.
According to Michael Lindinger, PhD., MSc, an animal and exercise physiologist of Guelph University, “it takes only 17 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in hot, humid weather to raise a horse’s temperature to dangerous levels. That’s three to 10 times faster than in humans. Horses feel the heat much worse than we do.”
And these effects can be very dangerous to your horse! If the body temperature of a horse increases from the normal 37 to 38C temperature to 41C (98.6-105.8F) temperatures within the working muscles can reach as high as 43C or 109.4F, a temperature in which proteins in the muscles literally begin to cook. Horses suffering excessive heat stress can experience issues such as hypotension, colic and even renal failure.
The BBC News has a video on-line showing a thermal illustration of rider and horse during the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong on how the horse is affected by heat. You can graphically see the difference in rider and horse body temperature and can now visualize how exercise affects the horse during hot weather.
Horses are sensitive to heat for many reasons the main one being is that they are BIG and have a higher percentage of active muscle when exercised. When they are working, the muscles produce a lot of heat.
My horse sweats, so I know he’s cooling down...
Horses can sweat 15 – 20 litres per hour on a cool, dry day but be aware that this can increase to up to 30 litres per hour on a hot, humid day. Even though they sweat, however, only 25-30% of the sweat produced by your horse is actually effective in cooling him down through evaporation. Unlike us where up to 50% of our sweat is evaporated from our body, your horse is different because more sweat is being produced that can be used for evaporation and the rest just drips off his body and basically is useless in cooling him down!
As explained by Lindinger, the salts in the horses sweat is four times as concentrated as in human sweat. “Those salts must be replaced. Just giving your horse water will not rehydrate a dehydrated horse. When horses drink plain water, it dilutes their body fluids, and their bodies respond by trying to get rid of more water and more electrolytes.” So, what can we do to help our horses from the harmful effects of the summer heat? Electrolytes! Get your horse used to drinking an electrolyte solution to replace those lost through sweat. Keeping your horse properly hydrated is the most important step in protecting against the harmful effects of heat.
If you are preparing for competition, acclimatize your horse to riding in the heat. Most riders exercise their horses in the morning or evening when it’s cool and then go to a competition that is held during the hottest time of the day. You need to get your horse used to riding in the heat. Lindinger recommends “trying to acclimatize your horse to the heat by spending four hours daily, at least five days a week for three weeks, in hot conditions. Horses that are used to being ridden in the heat will develop the full spectrum of beneficial adaptations that come with heat acclimation.”
When your horse is hot, never put a blanket or cooler on your sweating horse. The best way to reduce their temperature is to rinse the body with water repeatedly and scrape off the excess water. Scraping is an important function otherwise the water trapped in the horse’s hair will quickly warm up. You can cool the horse by 2 degrees in ten minutes by using this method…water on, water off, water on, water off.
Cool Medics offer many options to keep your horse cool during exercise. The products they manufacture are activated by soaking in water and the cooling process is established by charging the fibers with moisture and creating an environment for evaporation. When moisture in the batting evaporates, heat is removed and cools the surrounding area, transferring the cooling effect to the wearer.
Just as we riders go prepared with a bottle of water, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, we should also consider our horse and prepare ourselves with the tools necessary for protecting them from the hot, humid weather. If you have a plan in place to cool him down if he becomes overheated, even on those hot, humid days you can still have fun riding!
Story by: Larissa Cox
When I was a child, I dreamt of a magical stallion. A stallion with a long, flowing mane covering all of his neck and face. His tail was long and thick and seemed to wave at me when he galloped along the hilled countryside. He was magic in motion and seemed to float on air when he moved. This horse was colorful. He was kind and gentle and had the strength to carry a 100 on his back. To me, this was my magical horse…others call him THE GYPSY VANNER.
Where exactly did this magical horse come from and who bred him?
The Gypsies, Rom, Romany or Travelers as they were known, were as colorful as the horses that they bred. Years ago, when the Gypsies were a traveling population throughout the U.K., they used colorful horses to pull their wagons, or Vardo’s. It was this Gypsy Horse that was initially bred to pull their wagons. In addition to being easy keepers, as many times they were to eat whatever forage they could find often being tethered on the side of roads or in fields, they had to be very hardy to live without shelter and survive the cold, damp England winters. Not only that, but after their days work was done, these beautiful horses had to be gentle and docile to teach the Gypsy children how to ride. Any horse that showed aggression or ill temper was immediately banished from the family and not bred.
Horses raised by Gypsies are known by many names, gypsy horse, cob, colored horse, or tinkers, to name just a few of them. Until recently, the selectively bred Gypsy horse did not have a name to distinguish them from the general population of horses raised by Gypsies. They of course were not a registered breed and while the breeding of these magical horses was careful and deliberate; the detailed history of the breed bloodlines, was kept in the collective memory of the families who bred them for many generations.
However, as the interest in this special horse grew, several breed registries developed. In 1996, Dennis and Cindy Thompson imported two fillies to North American and established the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. It is through their hard work that this breed now exists in North America. In 2004, the breed became recognized by the United States Dressage Federation All Breeds Program and was able to win breed specific awards.
The sheer beauty of the Gypsy Vanner Horse will captivate both young and old alike. Bred from a combination of feathered draft and pony breeds, they range in size from 13 hands to 16 hands. They are very sturdy horses with heavy bone, flat knee and a short back. They come in a variety of colors, the most common is piebald (black/white), and a wide variety of solid colors. All colors are highly prized! Gypsy Vanner’s have an abundance of mane, tail and feather. The feather should begin at the knee/hock and fully cover the hooves. Manes and tails are long, thick and flowing. The Gypsy Vanner is truly magic in motion!
Enchanting, incredibly versatile and with a temperament that is unequaled, they will quickly become your dream of the magical horse.
Happy dreaming, Larissa
By Larissa Cox
You e-met Geoff Tucker, DVM a year ago on Tack and Talk discussing equine dentistry without drama. Geoff Tucker is a different kind of Equine Dentist. He has floated over 40,000 horse’s teeth using only hand tools and rarely uses sedatives. He uses good horsemanship and principles of respect to have the horse allow him to run his hands inside their mouths to feel each and every tooth.
Using his years of equine dentistry experience, his horsemanship knowledge and his principles of respect, Dr. Tucker has now written and published an e-book “The Ten Irrefutable Laws of Horsemanship” which is now available and encouraged for everyone working with horses to read.
According to Dr. Tucker, this book was important to develop because “our relationship with the horse has changed. For the majority of people in the US, horses are recreational vehicles parked in the garage and pulled out on weekends or maybe an hour at the end of the work day. No longer are horses an integral part of life where 12 hours a day were spent with horses. Many owners show up just to ride while a hired hand does all the work.” Dr. Tucker believes that the connection between man and horse is rarely made which makes these ten rules even more important as they may save your life or your horse’s life.
Dr. Tucker’s experience with horses dates back to 1973, and he has seen many people make the same avoidable mistakes much too often. Some of these rules may seem to be common sense, while others may seem to be the extreme, but anyone that has worked with over 3500 different horses a year, knows the value of following a set procedure when dealing with a 1000 pound animal.
His no holds barred approach to writing is refreshing while he explains each and every rule in detail. His explanations are crisp and factual which makes each rule easy to remember and to apply.
Rule #10 – A Horse is a Horse.
“Your horse is not a surrogate child, a surrogate spouse, therapy for your problems at work, the friend you cannot find in the people world, a cow, dog, cat, or any other animal. Take the horse for what he is – an individual living being with certain needs and desires unique to that horse…Remember though that they are still a horse. Understand that they have similar personalities, that they have a language, they have agendas, they have “horse rules”, and they are kept by humans but are not humans.”
I encourage everyone to take the time and read Geoff Tucker’s ”Ten Irrefutable Laws of Horsemanship”. Anyone knowing a youngster entering into the equestrian arena, should also take the time to read Tucker’s Laws of Horsemanship. As a coach and trainer, much too often I see people treating their 1000 pound horse as their companion thinking that they wouldn’t dream of hurting them and not understanding why the horse barreled over them. This e-book is worth the time to read.
By Larissa Cox
Recently, I attended a conference where a prominent clinician was performing and selling his products. One of the items being sold was his recommended array of bits. Looking at all the bits hanging on the wall, I noticed that all the bits were of one size…5 inches.
We, as people don’t have the same foot sizes, we all differ in length, width and foot shape. Now wouldn’t this same logic apply to the horse’s mouth that each horse would be different? When I asked the sales associate why each and every bit was 5 inches, the reply was the 5 inch bit is the most common bit and it generally fits 99% of horses. Interesting…
Now, I own three horses. Different breeds. Different sizes. So, according to the sales associate, a 5 inch bit should fit 2.9% of my 3 horses. Basically a 5 inch bit should fit all three. Okay, now let us measure each horse.
Bruq, my 15hh Arabian gelding, measures at a 5 ¼ inch bit.
Phantom, my 16.1 Oldenburg, measures a 5 1/2 inch bit, and
Rio, my 17.1hh Hanoverian, sports a whopping 6 ¾ inch bit!
Not one of my horses would be fitted with a 5 inch bit!
While some horses have custom fit saddles, proper leg protection and a great nutrition program, many horses are still expected to perform in a bit that is either too small or too large for their mouths. Like many horse enthusiasts, you may not recognize that your horse has a problem with his bit. How does he try to tell you? The only way he can, through his behavior and bit evasions. Many evasions may not be that obvious but can be annoying habits that prevent your horse from relaxing and giving you his best. What often appears as a training issue, can be as simple as an ill fitting bit! A common misconception is that a horse with a painful mouth will be especially sensitive to bit cues. In fact horses tend to push into pain.
Recognizing bit resistance is important when dealing with some behavior issues. Most common resistance issues can be:
- Bit chomping or open mouth
- Teeth grinding
- Leaning against your hand
- Staying behind the bit, putting his nose to his chest, or
- Keeping his head high, nose up in the air
- Head shaking or head tossing
- Hanging his tongue out
- Not moving forward
- Lack of lateral suppleness
- Tightness at the poll
- Backing up
- Sour horse, difficulty tacking up.
So, before you hang that bridle on your horse’s head, make sure that the bit is the proper size. Most experts agree that a bit that is not sized correctly not only causes excess pain and discomfort, but cannot work effectively. To determine if your current bit is the appropriate size, put the bit in the horse’s mouth and hold one ring of the bit against the corner of the lips and cheek without indenting them. Gently pull the other bit ring until the two arms of the mouthpiece are aligned. If the horse’s lips are pulled inwards, then the bit is too short. On the other hand, if more than ½” of mouthpiece protrudes then the bit is too long.
Dr. Hilary Clayton, veterinarian at MSU, conducted a radiographic study of bits in July 2005 and observed that riders and trainers have long believed that horses “lean on the bit,” or travel on their forehand, because they’re naturally (or have become) insensitive to the pressure or effect of the bit. But her studies have shown that the opposite is really true, that horses lean on the bit to relieve the pressure on the soft tissues of their palate. In addition, Dr. Clayton believes that bit size is a more crucial measurement than most people think. She advises measuring the width from lip to lip on your horse, and adding ¼” to get the proper measurement for your bit.
Choosing the correct bit size is not a science but does require knowledge. Trying to do it yourself without that knowledge could result in a lot of frustration and wasted money. Do not assume that every trainer is experienced and knowledgeable about bitting. If you are unsure, check with a custom bit manufacturer and please measure your horse’s mouth! Remember that not all horse’s are a size 5 bit!
Happy riding – Larissa