Archive for January, 2011
By: Larissa Cox
Turning and facing in, or walking in towards you while on the lunge is a common problem for horses. There are several ways to help correct this problem, and in a short time, your horse should be moving forward on the circle well!
Before you start, make sure you are using the correct equipment. Make sure to use a long lunge line, so you can adjust the size of the circle. I like to use a 30′ cotton lunge line.
It’s also good practice to use a lunging cavesson or a bridle while lunging, and attach the lunge line to either the middle ring of the cavesson, or both sides of the bit. I also like to use a lunging surcingle to attach side reins or something that works the horse head-to-tail, like the Equi-Ami or Pessoa Lunging System. Finally, carry a lunging whip, that can be used as an extension of your arm, to drive the horse forward.
When you start lunging, it’s important to habituate the horse to your final position on the lunging circle, which should be around the girth. If your horse has a habit of facing in towards you, always begin by walking the horse in hand, with you by his shoulder. Slowly start letting out the lunge line, while encouraging the horse to move forward with the whip. This is a very good way to begin, because if the horse tries to stop and turn in, you are in a position to keep walking beside the horse, mirroring desired etiquette and the direction of travel. Keep lengthened the lunge line until you are in the centre of the circle. Keep the whip pointing at the hip of the horse to encourage him to move forward.
If the horse stops and turns towards you during the lunging session, take up the slack in the line, and start the process again, where you walk beside the horse and slowly let the line out.
It’s very important that you do not try whipping the horse around his head in an effort to get him to turn back on the circle. This is a very sensitive area for the horse and not only can spook the horse, but also send contradictory signals, leading to a confused and upset horse that hates being lunged.
Instead, be patient and consistent in your training with this walking forward technique. Remember to respond quickly, and not to stop and pat the horse – immediately walk forward on the circle, then slowly let the line out.
Finally, when ending the lunging session, end the way you began. Slowly start taking the slack up in the lunge line, to the point where you are walking beside the horse, then stop walking and bring your horse to a halt. This way, you are never encouraging the horse to stop and face you at any point during the lunging session, keeping the horse moving forward along the direction of travel.
Good luck and happy lunging!
By: Larissa Cox
In recent years, nutrition focus has seemed to have shifted to weight management and exercise for both people and horses. I know that since I have been in the United Kingdom and not riding my horses back home, both Bruq and Phantom have gained weight due to a lack of a regular exercise routine. As a concern to me, there are some breeds of horses, such as the Arabian and Morgan, that are prone to such diseases as Insulin Resistance (IR) and Cushing’s, while other breeds can be put at risk to many diseases resulting from being over weight.
My previous posting provided you with an Equine Condition Scoring Chart where you are able to score your horse from 1-9, one being deathly thin and 9 being obese. Once you have determined your horse`s condition score, you can take the necessary steps to correct these conditions, or keep him at the optimum level.
The term “low carbohydrate” diet in humans has become so very popular with the Atkins and South Beach diets focusing our attention on low carbs, and as a result many horse owners are also concerned about carbohydrates in their equine nutrition program. Happily, there has been recent research addressing the area of carbohydrates in equine nutrition and many feed companies are posting these values on their labels. However, it is very important to keep in mind that when we look for low carbohydrate diets for our horse families, we also need to look at the sugar and starch levels as well in the feeds. These feedstuffs include forages (hay and pasture) as well as the ingredients that make up the concentrated feeds that we offer our horses. These concentrated feeds include oats, corn, barley, beet pulp, soybean meal and the list goes on.
Nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) are the sugars and starches found inside the plant cell of horse feeds. This is in contrast to the structural carbohydrates that compose the cell wall of the plants that our horses eat. The two main cell wall components are cellulose and hemicellulose, we know it as fibre. This plant fibre is disgested thanks to the work of bacteria and protozoa living in the horse’s large intestine. The horse receives his energy supply by taking up or absorbing nutriants or organic acids in his large intestine. The bacteria in the hindgut (large intestine) produce organic acids from the fermentation of sugars that are released when the fiber is broken down by enzymes secreted by the bacteria and protozoa.
The sugars found in forages include glucose, fructose, sucrose and fructans. Starch is the major carbohydrate stored in the legumes of alfalfa, and warm season grasses such as bermuda grass and grains. Fructans are the water-soluable sugars that are stored as the major carbohydrate in cool season grasses such as orchardgrass, fescue and timothy.
Research has shown that excessive intake of fructans from pasture grasses and grains can cause colic and laminitis (Hoffman et al, 2001). The greatest danger of laminitis and founder for horses is the consumption of cool season grass pasture and hay which may contain high levels of sugar, especially large amounts of fructans. Legumes or warm-season grasses contain little to no fructans. For more information on the NSC value and fructans in grasses go to www.safergrass.org. It is recommended that controlling the dietary NSC value to below 20% of the total diet is appropriate for problem horses afflicted with Cushing’s Disease, insulin resistance and equine diabetes (Longland & Byrd,2006) .
The table below outlines the sugar, starch and NSC values for feeds typically fed to horses. It is interesting to note that the lowest NSC values are for soybean hulls, beet pulp, alfalfa and the highest NSC values are corn, oats and barley (COB) a food which is frequently fed to horses. So, it would be safe to say that grain based horse feeds will contain a higher NSC value than feeds based on beet pulp, soybean hulls and alfalfa meal. For more information about NSC content of forages, please visit www.equi-analytical.com.
Average Sugar, Starch and Non-Structural Carbohydrate (NSC) Values of Selected Feedstuffs*.
*Values are from Equi-Analytical Laboratories, Ithaca, NY, reported on dry matter basis.
If you have a problem horse and want to implement a low NSC value feeding program, it would first be necessary to estimate the NSC content of your pasture or hay. However, having said that, sampling for the NSC content of your hay would not be practical if you do not have a supply that would last you several months. If pasture is available for your problem horse, it may be necessary to remove him or reduce his grazing. One surprising finding on current research concerning NSC levels of various hays was that alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets had lower values than grass hay, so alfalfa hay may become the first choice for problematic horses (Geor, 2007).
Understanding nutrition and NSC values is difficult at best. We can only strive to look to research to help us make proper, informed decisions regarding the safe nutrition of our horses. One thing that I do know is that there is a great deal of research and people knowledgeable in the field of equine nutrition that can be accessed to help us with our equine nutrition program.
By: Larissa Cox
There has been much discussion and many papers presented on Equine Metabolic Syndrome and how weight gain and obesity in horses should be avoided to prevent such ailments as insulin resistance, increased insulin and leptin blood levels and laminitis, but how many of us actually know the basics of equine body condition scoring?
We can look at our horse and say, “yep, he looks good”, or “oh my gosh, he’s fat!”, but can we actually put our horses in the score classification? Below, is a handy chart that you can use to determine what body condition score your horse actually fits in.
Body Condition Scores for Different Disciplines according to The Henneke System of Body Scoring
The Henneke System of Body Condition Scoring also uses the above 1-9 scale to rate a horse’s overall body condition. A horse with a body condition score of 1 is emaciated and in most cases in danger of starving to death while a horse with a body condition score of 9 is extremely obese. According to the Henneke System, normal healthy horses have a body condition score from 4-7.
The following chart displays “normal” body condition scores for horses in a variety of working conditions:
|Stallion (off season)||5-7|
Florida Cracker horses are small saddle horses known for their stamina, intelligence, quickness, strength, and easy ride. They are spirited willing workers with a strong herding instinct and great agility over rough ground.
The ancestors of the Florida Cracker Horse were the Spanish stock brought to the New World during the 1500s. These horses became distinct from their ancestors, partially in response to unique conditions of the Florida environment, but they still maintain many of the ancestral characteristics including their size, short backs, and sloping rumps. Although not strictly considered a gaited breed, many crackers have a distinctive single-foot gait known as the “coon rack”.
In 1791, William Bartram referred to the horses used by early Florida cowboys as “The most beautiful and sprightly species of that noble creature that I have ever seen” Over the years, Cracker Horses have been known by a variety of names including Chicksaw Pony, Seminole Pony, Marsh Tackie, Prairie Pony, Florida Horse, Florida Cow Pony, Grass Gut and others.
The term “cracker” comes from the name given to Florida cattlemen because of the sound made by their “cracking” cow whips. The name was extended to their agile horses, which were perfectly suited for herding and driving Florida’s free roaming scrub and cracker cattle. These hardy horses adapted well to the harsh Florida environment, were essential to the Florida cattle industry and The Florida Cracker Horse Association lists the breed’s characteristics as follows:
“[Florida Cracker horses are] small saddle horses, standing from 13.5 hands to 15.2 at the withers and weighing 700 – 1000 pounds. The head is refined and intelligent in appearance. The profile is straight or slightly concave. The throat latch is prominent and the jaw is short and well defined. The eyes are keen with an alert expression and have reasonable width between them. The eye colors are dark, with a white sclera, gray or blue. The neck is well defined, fairly narrow, without excessive crest and is about the same length as the distance from the withers to the croup. The withers are pronounced but not prominent. Colors are any of those known to the horse; however, solid colors and grays are most common”.
The Florida Cracker Horse Association (FCHA) was formed in 1989 by cattlemen interested in protecting the breed from extinction. The FCHA Registry was created in 1991 and started with several “foundation horses” (horses of known ancestry from cracker lines of long standing). By the year 2000, the Registry included 130 foundation horses and 285 descendants. The breed’s survival over the last fifty years resulted from the work of a few families who continued to breed Cracker Horses for their own use. It was these ranching families and individuals whose perseverance and distinct bloodlines that kept the Cracker Horses from becoming extinct. The family names include the Ayers, Harvey, Bronson, Matchett, Partin and Whaley names
At the start of 2009, there were 964 horses in the FCHA Registry, approximately 30 at Payne’s Prairie, four mares and one stallion at the Agricultural Museum, and three mares and one stallion at Withlacoochee.
Hope you enjoyed reading about The Florida Cracker – Larissa
By: Larissa Cox
As an owner of a predominately white horse, I am obsessed with finding a good stain remover. It seems that the DNA that causes horses to be white, also makes those horses seek out whatever mud or manure is in the area! At least that is the case with my horse Phantom! And, when it comes to stains manure and urine, are the most challenging to remove.
There are old time stain removing standbys that include bluing, vinegar, witch hazel, alcohol, liniments and even glycerine on soiled areas. But, are these safe to use on your white horse’s skin? Today there are a number of companies that have developed products specifically for the horse that is a gentler formula with skin conditioners such as aloe, vitamins and moisturizing ingredients.
When it comes to whitening, I have always listened to my grandmother, who says the gold standard is bluing. However, this comes at a cost. While bluing does produce a white horse, it can be very drying to the skin and hair, sometimes causing skin irritation. Most equine products that utilize bluing will also include aloe or vitamin E to put the moisture back into the coat to try and counter balance the dryness of the bluing. Beware that you can overdo it with bluing and may end up with a bluish-purple horse, as I did!
Modern science has been wonderful in the field of whitening and has introduced stain lifting enzymes, herbal stain dissolvers, bleaches and oxygen based products, such as Wow! Whitener spray. Read the label as some of these oxygen based cleaners use a form of peroxide, which can be very drying to the horse’s hair as well.
For my sensitive skinned Phantom, both Lucky Braids Shampoo and Absorbine’s Special Care Ultra Gentle work very well and don’t irritate Phantom’s skin. You can also use Lucky Braids Whitener for spot treatment on your white horse, as I have found this product to be simply amazing!
Many horse owners like to use human shampoo and/or dishwasher liquids to bathe their horses and tails. While not fatal, actual horse shampoos will improve your horse’s coat condition and provide him with healthier skin and hair. Horse products can fit within your budget and they are formulated for a horse’s natural skin pH and to enhance their coat.
My bottom line for a great washing product is Lucky Braids Shampoo. I found that it produced a great lather, had a great scent and I found that it solved many of Phantom’s skin problems such as mild fungus, itchy skin, stains and dry skin. Using this shampoo also improved the condition of Phantom’s tail, reducing his tail rubbing and breakage. As well, Absorbine’s Special Care Ultra Gentle Shampoo, I found removed the dirt on my horses without stripping the natural oils. According to Absorbine, this shampoo has been formulated to protect spot-applied fly, flea and tick control treatments from washing away, which is a good thing to remember during those hot summer days! This shampoo is really concentrated, so a little goes a long way. It worked really well on Phantom, who has very sensitive skin and tends to break out in hives at a drop of a hat, but didn’t remove the stains as well as the Lucky Braids Shampoo.
The Lucky Braids Whitener, as I mentioned before, is a product white horse owners should not be without. For Phantom’s really tough stains, on his body and tail, I leave it on overnight. Another whitening product that I use is Wow! Whitener, which, in my opinion, comes in at a close second to the Lucky Braid Whitener. Wow! worked well on stains and is handy to have on hand for those show emergency stains. It’s a good smelling product which is easy to apply and is terrific for removing dirt and that summer dust that comes from sweat, dust and fly sprays and great for leg touch-ups during competition.
Another good whitening shampoo that I have tried, is Xtreme Showwhite by Xtreme Design. This shampoo had a mild whitening property that puts a healthy glow on a horse’s coat, but unfortunately, didn’t whiten enough to remove those heavy, nasty stains. It doesn’t dry out the skin and didn’t have to sit on too long to get good results.
SuperPoo Shampoo also by absorbine is a non-irritating, pH balanced, economical shampoo which has the greatest apple scent - good enough to eat! It’s a great all around shampoo which has a good lather and I found good for frequent use. By the way, this is the only shampoo that removes sticky tree sap, so I always keep it on hand.
Taken from Top Turnout Tips by Ruthann Smith
Tail rubbing is an epidemic, while most treatments actually perpetuate the torture. Treatment and prevention requires awareness, but not much time. First check the basics:
- Worm well.
- If the animal is itchy all over, it may have digestive issues. So, consultant with a veterinarian. Nonetheless, solutions outlined below can offer relief.
- Clean under tails daily with a damp cloth and soft brush. Exfoliate and bring out natural protective oils.
- Clean between hind legs. Some mares need their teats wiped and brushed every day. Clean gelding’s sheaths monthly, or at least every 6 months. If you are inexperienced, ask or pay a professional.
- Choose your products carefully. Dry skin gets irritated. Itching it hurts and perpetuates a vicious cycle.
We need to transcend irritation by solving the problem from every direction to break and stay out of the itching cycle. The proven solution is to eradicate the irritant and inflammation while cooling, moisturizing and nourishing the skin and roots for rapid healing and re-growth. Use a non-greasy topical solution for quick absorption. Your shampoo should be saturated with Aloe Vera and combine generous amounts of Vitamin E with medical-grade Tea Tree Oil, nature’s finest antiseptic.
Common products can cause and exasperate irritation by stripping natural protective oils, drying out skin and clogging pores. So, avoid these ingredients:
- Sodium chloride – salt used for lather in most shampoos
- Petroleum products – silicone and mineral oil are in most detanglers and fly sprays
- Poisons – look for natural fly sprays or use predator flies.
- Harsh antibacterial – use only medical-grade tea tree oil. It is the best natural antiseptic, but there are 20 grades of it. You need the highly effective bug gentle quality.
- Detanglers can clog pores and irritate skin. For the most gorgeous tails, shampoo with Lucky Braids. The healing aloe also reduces tangles and volumizes.
- Comb tail when wet. Always hold and start at the bottom to protect roots. Wet hair stretches, so it is more forgiving.
- To comb wet tails, first twist the length to protect it. Then, grip the bottom. Comb from the bottom up to your grip. Then move your hold up 6-8 inches. Always start combing from the bottom. If you hit a snag, work it from below.
- Maintain daily: pick, comb or brush.
- If hair is sticking together because the tail is dirty and bathing is out, use an enzymatic spray made for horses. Properly pH balanced, it can break the bond between hair and dirt without coating or stripping hair. Wipe off impurities with a towel and comb wet.
As a braider, the lack of any effective tail rubbing solution was painfully apparent, so I worked with a naturopathic veterinarian to develop Lucky Braids products. Countless people have said they are the only products to solve the toughest cases. Many animals experience complete relief with just Lucky Braids Shampoo. Otherwise, I suggest bathing with Lucky Braids Shampoo and applying our Salve to key areas until the itching subsides. If rubbing is a habit, it may take a few days for the animal to forget to rub. Then, continue using Lucky Braids Shampoo to maintain healthy, resilient skin and hair. With proper care, all horses can be comfortable in their skin.
To order Lucky Braid Products, please visit: http://www.luckybraids.com/products.htm