Momentum and Forward Motion

Before we can begin to explain and have you understand motion or any type of movement we have to understand that any movement starts with the leg. And any movement being done correctly or incorrectly needs to be understood so that we are aware of what does happen inside as the horse does move.

The cycles of the steps of movement are referred to as gaits and are more fully explained later in greater detail. But, gaits are the patterns of movement that must be accomplished to allow forward motion or performance. Each gait starts with the movement of a rear leg, the next leg to move is the opposite front. This happens in this manner due to the fact that the horse is a lateral support animal. What that means is that the horse does support itself on opposite corners (of a rectangular shape) of its body.

Even when a horse is motionless the majority of the horse’s weight is being supported by one front leg and the opposite rear leg. One point that you might do with your own horse that is confined in a specific area ~ when it stands for a period of time you will notice that the horse does shift its weight from one front foot to the other. When it does shift its weight from one front foot to the other you will also notice that the weight bearing leg in the rear also changes and when it does change it is almost always to the opposite rear leg of the front leg that is the weight bearing leg.

There has to be an understanding that the front leg does act independently and is a supporting aid for the opposite rear leg. It is that statement that allows us to introduce a very basic statement of forward motion and how it affects the movement of the horse.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”

The previous statement is the basis for understanding forward motion but it does need to be looked at in a manner that will make it easier to understand how it does pertain to the movement of the horse. So, what we are going to do is break the statement into sections that pertain to specific movements of the horse.

“For every action”

This is the first movement that is made by the horse, the starting of movement by lifting and bringing forward of the rear leg. Then once that the rear leg completes its forward motion cycle and returns to the ground, the second part of the statement comes into effect.

“there is an equal and opposite reaction”

Once that the rear leg completes its cycle and returns to the ground the opposite front leg starts to leave the ground and continues through its cycle until it is complete. This will then start a continuing process of alternating legs in motion that is referred to as the gait of the horse.

Before we can proceed past this point it needs to be understood that each pair of legs have a specific task to perform ~ not just during standing, but also especially during the movement cycles or gaits.

The front legs have two functions that they do perform sometime independently and at other times these two functions act together. The initial function of the front legs is to act as a pivot point that will allow the horse to adjust its body weight from front to rear as necessary during any of the necessary movements. In addition to being a pivot point the front legs act as a lateral support point (from side-to-side) during any necessary movements.

The back legs of the horse are attached to the largest muscle mass within the body structure of the horse; this is also the strongest part of the entire horse. The hindquarter is where all of the strength that creates forward motion and has been referred to as the “engine” of the horse since this is where all of the horse power is located. With the hindquarter creating the force used to initiate forward motion it is also the hindquarters that control forward motion or impulsion.

Understanding the great amount of strength that is accumulated within the hindquarters and how it is accomplished we can then proceed to the understanding that the same strength that was used to initiate the movement will then support movement through the complete cycle of forward motion. It must also be understood that once that forward motion is started and then supported by the movement of the horse additional parts of motion come into play. There are two additional parts of forward motion that we need to understand and they are momentum and inertia.

Looking at momentum more closely we need to be aware that it is broken down into three parts that make up the momentum cycle.

1). Creating momentum ~ is when the movement of the rear legs is initiated to start the gait process.

2). Supporting momentum ~ is the movement of the front leg to help balance and becomes the pivotal support factor that has been explained earlier. It is at this point that the front leg, or the pivotal support point is now supporting the majority of the body weight which will allow the horse to be able to bring the opposite hind leg in a forward motion, setting the cycle up for the final part of the momentum cycle.

3). Sustaining momentum ~ is the continuing of the momentum process which will allow it to happen over and over in an unending loop until it is necessary to stop the momentum process.

I have not been able to come up with any better way to explain momentum and how it pertains to the horse than what I have just explained. The other point that has to be considered is the fact or presence of inertia. Inertia is nothing more than mass in motion. What is meant here is that inertia is the force that has been created to allow the horse to continue its movement. Inertia also plays a major role in the sustaining of momentum; it is its supporting factor that allows movement or motion to become the continuing part of momentum. When it becomes necessary to stop the motion process of the horse momentum and inertia need to be overcome and then reversed. The stopping of the horse is the true overcoming and reversal of momentum and inertia.

What was just covered is the basics of forward motion as it works within the horse. We could talk about many more factors that do happen and even control forward motion process but, these are more specific and will be explained as we cover the areas of the body of the horse and the function of the rider in relationship to movement of the horse.


My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at


Originally posted 2013-01-25 06:07:43.

Horseboxes Versus Horse Trailers

Choosing the right transportation for your horse is a big decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Try to look at the issues from the point of view of your horse; your first priority is to make sure the trailer or horsebox you buy is as safe and as comfortable as possible.

The configuration of trailers doesn’t always make this possible. Small enclosed spaces are anathema to horses, as they are a flight or fight animal it goes against their nature to be in an enclosed space. Horses that are not familiar with travelling (often the young and inexperienced) find it difficult to balance, which in turn can cause problems at the end of your destination and for future journeys. Although horseboxes are much bigger than trailers, the consensus of opinion is that they are easier to drive.

The horsebox offers horses more security; most horses/ponies will stand longer in a box than a trailer (in my experience). The stability of the horsebox on long windy roads (especially when travelling to competitions in this country) is a real confidence boost, no frazzled nerves to deal with on arrival. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve witnessed horses and ponies refusing to load into a trailer, this is not uncommon, but only on the odd occasion in a horsebox. An added bonus is the extra space that horseboxes provide. If you are planning to stay overnight for example the cost can be countered by spending the night in the box, plus you remain in the proximity of your horse or pony.

Problems loading horses are common; make sure you have your hat, boots, and gloves on, be safe. The horse should already be kitted out in his protective travelling gear. It is so easy to say “do not lose your temper.” But really if you do the chances are your horse will not load on that day.

Make sure the horsebox or trailer is the right size for your horse, also the floor needs to be in good condition, if your horse or pony feels uncomfortable or unsafe, he is again unlikely to load, if he does load and still feels insecure, you and your horse may end up in a stressful and sometimes dangerous situation. Once loaded, drive steadily, you and your horse are precious cargo. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Drive off smoothly, avoid any sudden breaking. Read the road conditions, allow for the weather conditions on the day, and always pay attention to your speed. The horse has to remain standing and keep his balance; it is up to you help him to do so.

There are many considerations to be made before buying a horsebox or a trailer, budgets are usually the first. It would be better to consider the impact on the horse, of trailer vs. horsebox…..In the end it is the confidence and trust they put in you that is of the most value.


Lyndon Miles is a writer on many subjects including equine matters. The correct choice of horsebox is paramount to success and the choosing of a 7.5 tonne horsebox or 6.5 tonne horsebox really does matter to the health, happiness and safety of your horse.


Originally posted 2013-01-14 06:06:29.

What Makes Some Farriers Successful in Working With Horses?

As I have progressed through the development of my techniques and methods I have been continually asked one question in particular; and it is “What makes you so different?” To that I have tried to answer with many different answers over the years always looking to project the same answer but each time in a more educated and knowingly manner that showed that I knew what I was talking about. But, only recently did I come up with the true answer to that question that plagued me for so long and it is answered with just two words “COMFORT” and “COMPASSION.”

I have realized that my techniques and methods are centered on the total comfort of the horse. It is having the concern for the proper alignment and operation of as many of the working parts that make up the horse and allow them to work the way that they do.

Discomfort and Attention

In order to compare pain and comfort in the horse it might be advisable to look at the two factors, as they would pertain to the human being. First, we need to be able to break the most basic of these two points down to the most general comparison factors and that being bone is bone, soft tissue is soft tissue, pain is pain and comfort is comfort. Both horse and man have all of these factors in their daily life. We both have bone and bone is composed of the same elements, which make up bone. Soft tissue is still soft tissue be it tendon, ligament or muscle and all soft tissue is covered by a membrane that is connected to the nervous system that will tense and relax according to the reaction of that same nervous system. The soft tissue is then attached to some bone in the skeletal structure of the creature we are looking at. How all of these factors interact and work in unison is what has a major controlling influence in the creation or elimination of pain that is caused internally due to skeletal misalignment.

It has been my experience that over eighty per cent of all muscle pain and or structural changes within the horse has been caused by misalignment of the skeletal structure. It has also been my experience that over eighty per cent of problems that have been sent to me, as a farrier, were correctable through the proper alignment of the skeletal structure with correct and balanced shoeing practices. Once that the horses were allowed to operate in their correct manner, the pain of the misalignment was no longer present and the horse was once again the horse that was known in the past.

In order to simply this fact, let me explain. The misalignment starts at the ground level and how the foot strikes the ground, this then starts to throw the alignment of the various joints from the foot to the shoulder and then in the neck and the back. In the case of the hind feet the joints are out off alignment from the ground to the hip, which will then misalign the pelvis and then allow for incorrect alignment of the spine into the area where the pelvis and the spine meet. That then throws out what I call the lower back of the horse and then show up as swelling of the back muscles. Now that you know how the problem is initially created and we can realize that the sore backed horse is a secondary problem, or a symptom, of the initial problem of skeletal misalignment we should realize that in order to treat the sore back correctly we must eliminate the skeletal misalignment first. We have to learn to look past the initial symptom and realize that there is a more dramatic reason that the horse has a sore back.

How does all of this happen from just the improper trimming of the horse’s feet? Simple, once that the foot of the horse is improperly trimmed and stress is placed on the area of the foot where it should not be, it then starts to misalign all of the joints in succession to a stopping point. The only difference is that the pain will magnify as it travels from the starting point to the ending point. Along with the misalignment and the pain that is created a message is generated and then sent to the brain of the horse that controls the nervous system. That signal then tries to correct the problem that has been created through the improper trimming and tense up the membrane that encases various soft tissues, that tensing up of the covering membrane will then exert pressure to the soft tissue that it covers and then the soft tissue will exert pressure to the specific bone to which it is attached to.

This combination of actions from the nervous system to the pulling of the bone will then create the misalignment of the skeletal structure where the affected bone is integrated into the entire structure of the horse. The greatest areas that I have found to be affected by this action are the area of the lower back of the horse, the hip, the neck and the poll. Again, just as in the human animal; when there is lower back pain there is also neck pain. The horse will be affected in the area of the poll when “lower” back pain is realized and since all turns start at the poll, thus affecting the turning ability of the horse.

It has been discovered through many years of research of human “biomechanics ” that certain additional facts do happen when specific areas of the body are misaligned. Through my own field work I have found that was is true for humans is also true for horses. The foremost point that was discovered was that when the area of the lower back is out of its proper alignment there is additional misalignment in the area of the neck. This was first realized in the human and then that same information was taken and applied to the horse and found to be the same.

Whenever I found the lower back of the horse to be out of alignment there was also loss of flexibility in the neck of the horse. When questions were put to the horse owner it was found that the horse would be easier to turn one way more than the other. The owner just put this off as the horse may did not like turning in that particular direction. I found that once the neck was realigned to its proper position that the horse then turned easily in both directions and equally as well. The same horse then started to have changes in their abilities in other areas such as attitude and confidence.

Additionally I have found that the use of a qualified equine chiropractor can be useful to such a horse, but if you do not correct the true condition by trimming and shoeing the feet correctly for the horse in question you will only be treating one of the symptoms. Once a horse is properly trimmed and allowed to use their body correctly for one or two shoeing cycles the majority of the alignment problems diminish and will no longer be apparent. If conditions of misalignment seem to continue after the second shoeing cycle then a equine chiropractor may need to be called in to complete the work that needs to be done to allow the horse to start to work correctly.

Over the time that I have been integrating the study of biomechanics into the aspect of shoeing horses I have found that horses are much more happy and easier to handle as well as having a much better attitude toward all of the day-to-day requirements that are handed to them.

I do believe that this has come from the release of the pain that has been present for some time. In the past a horse may have been hard to shoe or trim due to the fact that there was the constant pain factor that was present from the misalignment of the skeletal structure from the ground up. The horses that have been put into the a balance shoeing program have progressed at very astounding rates and done so happily. And happy horses are horses that want to progress and are willing to do the tasks that are asked of them.

If we look at ourselves and realize that the time that when we are the happiest are the times when there is little distraction in our own lives. We are willing to accomplish tasks around the barn and the house without any thought. It becomes automatic we feel that we are being productive and enjoying our lives. The same is true for the horse, they want to feel needed and have a purpose in life. The comfort factor and the elimination of pain from the daily tasks will allow them the same felling of self-gratification and accomplishment. Not to mention being needed and wanted.

Remember if you or a member of your family is in pain and is suffering, in most cases, they will let you know. They speak to you and tell you where it hurts; you then do all that is in your power to help them get out of that situation. The horse does the same; the only difference is they tell you through body language not through the use of a verbal communication. These are the same body signs that we use if you look closely. When members of your family are in pain and you look into their eyes you might remember that the eyes of the person effected with pain has less than bright eyes. Their eyes are dull and somewhat cloudy, the horse is the same.

Their eyes are very expressive, look deeply into them the more pain that a horse does suffer the more clouded the eye does become. The member of your family that becomes sore and does not what to do anything, so does the horse. That same member of the family becomes crabby and short in their acceptance of situations, so do horses. Again in different ways, the member of your family shouts and yells verbally and the horse reacts through the use of their body by biting or challenging and/or kicking. The horse is not mean; the horse hurts and wants to be left alone, just as you would until you felt better.

Remember to be more observant and relate to the horse in the only manner that the horse can. You need to learn to speak their language and help them through their situation. Remember that pain is pain and comfort is comfort.

Until we meet again, “Ride for the Brand.”


My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at


Originally posted 2013-01-10 06:03:57.

How to Choose the Correct Horsebox for Your Horse

The show ring animal was conceived through man’s competitive instincts. Showing one horse of the same breed in competition began as long as two hundred years ago. Breeders wanted their horses to be possessed of strength; stamina, workmanlike qualities and classical conformation. By producing the horse in the show ring, breeders hope to win over their fellow breeders when judged by experts. The breeders of these horses and ponies can then hope to command top market price for the young stock. This would convince other breeders to send their mares to be covered by their stallion. On this basis alone choosing the correct horsebox for your horse, horses or ponies is paramount.

Horses and ponies are shown and transported all over the country. These expensive animals need specialist equipment when transporting them to and fro. Bespoke-custom built horseboxes’ are a pre-requisite when transporting valuable animals; it is possible to have a horse box built to a certain specification. For example: safety features can include detachable biting boards, and leather padded heavy duty partitions for comfortable travelling. The living areas can be 5 star, including, leather seating which transforms into comfortable beds.

It doesn’t matter if you are transporting one horse or several, the safety and comfort of the horse is paramount. A reputable dealer will be able to offer you peace of mind and any extras that may be important to you. For example; to be able to keep an eye on your horse in transit would offer peace of mind. A camera system to the horse area with a reversing external camera is perfect for the horse and owner who spend hours on the road travelling to shows. Horse comfort packs can include leather finished roof pads and padded walling throughout. On board horse showers!! Did you know that you can even spec a sound system in the external tack locker?

For the owner of the correct horsebox living standards whilst on the road can be pretty luxurious. Choices of finish; light or dark oak, comfortable seating, wet room including electric flush toilet, integrated fold down sink. Removable table, TV/DVD with integrated free view. Full length wardrobes with adjustable shelving, kitchen area including integrated stainless steel finished sink, gas burning hob, integrated grill, electric fridge and microwave oven. Roof ventilation, (really important when living with your horse).

Extras and upgrades are optional; choices of leather finishes and colours for example, satellite TV, external awnings, choice of flooring the lists are endless. Why would you want to live at home? You can buy horseboxes which are safe for your much loved pony, horse/horses. You can buy horseboxes that provide versatility, luxury and peace of mind. Choose your horsebox with you and your horse in mind.


Lyndon Miles is a writer on many subjects including equine matters. The correct choice of horsebox is paramount to success and the choosing of a 7.5 tonne horsebox or 6.5 tonne horsebox really does matter to the health, happiness and safety of your horse.


Originally posted 2012-12-30 06:05:43.

How to Give Your Horse a Shot

As a horse owner, you may be required to give your horse vaccines on occasion. If you are not comfortable giving your horse a shot, then you should have your veterinarian or someone who’s had experience administer the shot. Knowing how to give your horse routine vaccinations can save you fees for ranch visits by your vet or the hassle of trailering your horse to the vet. Have your vet teach you how to administer shots so you know how to give vaccinations in the future.

Many vaccines are administered through intramuscular injections into a large muscle mass. Giving your horse an intramuscular shot is not difficult to learn. Intramuscular injections are administered so the medication is injected into your horse’s muscle mass.

The type of medication and dosage your horse needs and how it is to be administered should be determined by your vet. After giving your horse any shots, replace the plastic cover over the needle and place along with syringes in a sealable container and take them to your veterinarian’s office for disposal.

Before administering the shot, brush away any noticeable dirt from the injection area. Using a sterile needle and syringe is more important in the prevention of infections to the injection area than thoroughly cleaning the site.

Your horse will most likely allow you to administer a shot without any objection; however, you should always have a handler when giving your horse a shot. You and the handler should be on the same side. If your horse pulls while giving the shot, move with the horse and continue the injection when it calms down. If your horse tries to kick, the horse’s head should be pulled toward the handler to make the horse swing its back-end away from you.

The base of your horse’s neck is a preferred location for administering a shot. It allows you to remain in a fairly safe area by your horse’s shoulder. Locate the injection area by placing the heel of your hand on the base of your horse’s neck where it joins the shoulder and midway between the top and bottom of the neck. The injection area is the part covered by your palm.

When giving the shot, insert the needle perpendicular into the muscle and all the way to the hub where it attaches to the syringe so that it is deep into the muscle mass. Insert the needle with a quick stab.

Next, attach the syringe and pull back slightly on the plunger (aspirate) before injecting any medication. If any blood is drawn when pulling back the plunger, you will need to pull the needle out and start over in a new area with a clean needle. If there is no blood drawn, then slowly inject the medication.

A method some use to distract their horse from the stick of a needle is to pinch the horse’s skin next to the injection site for a few moments. Then while holding the pinched skin, insert the needle into the injection site.

Discuss with your vet about any signs of allergic reaction before administering any medication to your horse. Observe your horse for any signs of allergic reaction for about 60 minutes after giving an injection.


Randall Holman, site owner of and horse enthusiast, is the author of this article. You will find other easy and practical basic horse care information on his website.


Originally posted 2012-12-15 06:01:12.

Equine Sweet Itch

Equine Sweet Itch is one of those problems that nearly every horse owner will face sooner or later.

Also known by various other names in different countries, Sweet Itch is a condition that results from an increased sensitivity and bodily reaction to insect bites.

Hypersensitivity can be induced by a variety of insects and other, unrelated, conditions. However, the main insects responsible for incidences of Sweet Itch are bites received from midges, horse and black flies. Stings from wasps and bees may also prompt an allergic reaction. Of these, the saliva from midge bites is the most prominent cause of the unwanted horse skin reactions that are generically known as Sweet Itch.

Unfortunately, in an affected horse, the autoimmune system overreacts to the saliva left behind after a midge bite and this often causes an intolerably itch. The horse will incessantly rub against objects in an attempt to relieve the itchiness, but in doing so will likely exacerbate the condition, breaking the skin and opening up the possibility of secondary infections.

The typical tell-tale signs of Sweet Itch are a hardening of the hide, mane and tail damage, bald patches on the body and flaking skin. In severe cases, weeping sorer, ulcerated skin and open lesions will be evident.

As every horse owner knows, there are various preventative measures and treatments that can be used to try and alleviate the worst symptoms of Sweet Itch.

Preventative measures focus on preventing insect bites by one means or another.

Rugs and face masks are used to form a physical barrier across the horse’s skin. Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely cover the horse and there will always be tracts of skin left vulnerable to insect bites.

Confining your horse to stables as soon as you notice the midge season has started is perhaps the most effective preventative measure owners can take. Fitting any stable openings with an insect screen will increase the effectiveness. As effective as this approach may be, it is unlikely to be a practical solution. Most owners would not want their horse confined to stables for extended periods, even if it was convenient to do so.

As a halfway measure, as midges are most active at dawn and dusk, horses may be stabled from early evening through to mid-morning.

Weather conditions are also a factor in midge numbers and activity. The midge needs freestanding water in which to breed, so a prolonged dry spell can drastically reduce midge numbers. In contrast warm, wet weather can precipitate a sharp increase in midge numbers and activity.

Using an insect repellent may also give some protection. This is not a risk free solution though. There are a number of common ingredients, widely used in these products, that can be responsible undesirable side effects.

For instance, those containing benzyl benzoate, to be effective, need to be thoroughly rubbed into the skin. One unwanted side effect of benzyl benzoate is that it can act as a skin irritant. As it is most effective when it is worked deep into the skin, any area of existing hair loss or open wounds will react extremely negatively to its application.

Remedies including glucocorticoids have been found to be of benefit, but care should be taken. Pregnant mares and horses prone to laminitis are not suited to these formulations.

As is normally the case with health matters, prevention is better than cure. Therefore, insecticides and repellents will prove most effective if applied before any incidences of insect bites have occurred.

Once hypersensitivity has been induced and the symptoms of Sweet Itch are displayed, the owner needs to think seriously of measures to manage those symptoms. Just as is the case with human skin care, equine skin care can respond well to the appropriate treatment.

Because the intense itchiness that accompanies the hypersensitivity, a horse suffering from Sweet Itch will incessantly rub against trees, fences and other hard objects. Of course, although this action may provide temporary relief to the horse, it will not address the on-going itchiness. Rubbing is therefore repeated at regular intervals and this can lead to skin and mane damage. The possibility of weeping wounds and lesions will inevitably result and that, in turn, can raise the problem of contracting bacterial infections. It is therefore highly desirable to use an antipruritic to reduce the itchiness.

Antihistamines and natural products such as aloe vera can provide relief. However, some antihistamines such as hydroxyzine and corticosteroids can induce undesirable side-effects and so their use should be closely monitored.

Some horse owners have reported that using natural ingredients, such as a sulfur-based shampoo, seems to produce a reduction in their horse’s rubbing. These finding have not been corroborated by formal veterinary studies though. Therefore, the usefulness and extent of their worth is open to question.

Regretfully, regardless of what measures and treatments you employ, once a horse has Sweet Itch, you will most probably be able to eliminate it completely until the midge season finishes. So, managing the symptoms will become you most important line of defence. Having said that, and not underestimating all the contributing problems and difficulties, having a firm knowledge of the underlying causes and symptoms of Sweet Itch gives the owner an excellent advantage in combating it. Sweet Itch can certainly be effectively managed if not avoided altogether.

Sweet Itch is best prevented but, once symptoms display, equine owners need to manage the condition. Horse Shield offers a product to do just that. With Horse Shield, the problems associated with Sweet Itch can be successfully combated. Equine owners that have unwanted skin conditions themselves will also find practical healthy skin maintenance advice on the Derma Shield website

Originally posted 2012-12-10 06:00:24.

The Secrets Behind Happy Horses

Horses thrive on routine and a healthy stress free environment. Keeping their environment and living habits as close to that of their predecessors throughout evolution will help with this.


There is a general rule that horses should have about an acre to themselves of field. So if there are 5 horses in a field, the field should be roughly 5 acres. This can not always be the case but it is important not to overcrowd. Many of us do not like to turn out if the ground is wet, worrying the grazing will be ruined so it would be of benefit for an area to be created where horses can be turned out even when wet. Dedicating an area to this, you can put flooring down e.g. bark, enabling turnout whatever the weather.


Depending on our own lives sometimes it is not always possible to exercise to the level, or for the amount of time we would like. Particularly when the nights draw in, we can be hindered in our desires to exercise our horses fully. Horse walkers provide safe and effective ways of stretching the horse’s legs while you quickly get on with the other tasks of the day. This is not advised as an alternative to ridden exercise but will help you get the horse out of the stable.


Natural diets with plenty of forage, providing this makes available all energies needed for your horse’s performance level, can be the simplest and most efficient way of feeding your horse. There is no doubting that when your horse sis lacking in a certain area, that vitamins, supplements etc. can provide just what is needed, but a well thought out natural diet can also do the same. Keeping the fibre intake high, can also help to prevent gastric ulcers and enable optimum digestion, utilising the functionality of the horse’s digestive system.


Well fitted saddles, possibly with the option for interchangeable saddle flaps dependent on the exercise being done are one of the most valuable ways of investing in your riding experience. The horse will move more comfortably beneath you allowing concentration to be on the job at hand rather than controlling a horse evading pain from beneath the saddle. This is the same with all tack, ensure they are fitted correctly and not rubbing in any way. The quality of the equipment used can contribute to this.

Not all gadgets are bad, there is always the potential to over complicate things, but a well-used piece of training equipment can help teach your horse what you require, build up muscle mass and enable quicker development. The Equi-Ami is perfect for building up top line, much more quickly than other lunge aids.

Protective boots are always of benefit when working. There are a range of boots and leg protection for all eventualities, depending on the work you require from your horse.


For further information on equine clothing, horse rugs, horse boots or any other topics that have been raised, visit Anything Equine who are experts in the equestrian field.


Originally posted 2012-11-30 05:58:17.

Horse Thrush

What is thrush?

Thrush is an unpleasant infection of the horse’s frog that is predisposed by moist, damp, dirty ground or stable conditions.

What causes thrush?

Thrush is an infection of the central and lateral sulcus of the frog of the horse’s foot, most often involving bacterial infection, occasionally fungal infection. One species of bacterium (Fusobacterium necrophorum) is particularly aggressive, invading and destroying the frog, sometimes exposing the deeper sensitive tissues. Long heel conformation encourages the development of deep narrow frog sulci that are more prone to the development of thrush, if environmental conditions are right.

How is thrush diagnosed?

Thrush produces a foul smelling black discharge in the affected sulcus of the frog. There is pain on applying pressure to the area. The hind feet are more often affected than the front feet and, occasionally, infection may result in a general swelling of the distal (lower) limb.

How is thrush treated?

The horse should be moved to a dry clean environment. The foot should be thoroughly cleaned out, removing necrotic debris from within the affected frog sulcus, and then pared out down to healthy tissue, allowing air to reach any remaining damaged tissues. The frog and its sulcus should be scrubbed daily with dilute iodine solution.

Thrush-XX Aerosol is an effective thrush treatment product for horses and ponies in a revolutionary no-pump aerosol.The uniquely designed, no-mess dispenser produces a continuous, consistent spray with no drips, runs, or spills, so the product goes only where you want it-even while spraying upside-down. Water-resistant copper naphthenate (37.5%) formula does not require bandaging.

Tetanus antitoxin must be given, if the horse is not fully vaccinated up-to-date or if vaccination status cannot be confirmed.

Thereafter, the horse should be kept in clean, dry stable conditions and the frog should be cleaned and treated regularly until the infection is controlled and the tissue heels.

How can thrush be prevented?

Prevention is better than cure and thrush can be avoided by good stable management, regular foot care and inspection. Stable your horse in clean dry conditions and have your horses’ feet regularly trimmed and shod to avoid the development of long heel conformation and to keep the frog healthy.

With early treatment and good stable and environmental management, the prognosis for complete recovery for cases of thrush is good. Treatment will usually be required for 7-14 days. The prognosis for complete resolution is good unless the infection has been allowed to become chronic and/or there is extensive involvement of deeper tissues.

Make sure that your horses are always fully vaccinated against tetanus, an invariably fatal infection that can gain access through a damaged frog.

Dr. Garfinkel is a graduate of the highly regarded College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. She has been practicing in the East County of San Diego since 2000, and has built a reputation of providing high quality and compassionate care.

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Originally posted 2012-12-01 05:59:17.

Feeding Horses – Modern Day Issues That Affect Your Horse’s Health

The vast array of feeds available in-store these days can make choices confusing, but working out a horse’s nutritional requirements does not have to be complicated. Horses have nutrient needs that can be calculated from bodyweight and activity levels. What does make horse nutrition complicated is the process of selecting feeds to balance the nutrient intake with each individual’s nutrient requirement, and providing the feeds in a form that suits the digestive system of the horse. It is often a lack of understanding about the relationship between the digestive system of the horse and the form of the feed, and how this affects the horse, that causes confusion.

It is well established in humans that they are what they eat. Obesity is now one of the major disorders in the western world – in both humans and horses. Can correlations and similarities be found between the two species, that can help improve health and well-being?

In order to know where to start it is helpful to look at some known facts. Firstly, pasture alone often does not provide enough nutrients for horses. Consequently, they are fed supplements in the form of concentrates and hay but some concentrates can be considered ‘fast foods’ – full of energy in the forms of sugars and fats. Many horses are overfed on fast foods, yet under-worked, which can lead to obesity, health and behavioral problems.


The non structural carbohydrates (NSC) index in horse feeds equates to the glycemic index (GI) in human foods, and is a way of measuring the energy in foods by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance – now identified as a serious and life-threatening condition in horses, equates to Type 11 diabetes in humans. Many metabolic disorders in horses are associated with high NSC feeds.

Digestion in horses

Digestion in horses is not the same as in cattle and sheep, which have large fore-stomachs. These animals are called ruminants, because they can ruminate, i.e store food in their fore-stomach, or rumen, and regurgitate and re-chew their food to gain more nutrients. By comparison, horses have a small stomach, and have to graze little and often to maintain nutrient intake. Horses graze at least 18 hours per day, i.e. they are ‘slow feeders’, meaning they eat slowly and the nutrients are absorbed continuously throughout the day.

Slow feeding

The relatively ‘new’ idea of devising ways to ‘slow feed’ horses makes a lot of sense. It provides a semi-continuous supply of nutrients to a digestive system designed to digest nutrients on a natural, continuous basis. This can be achieved with roughages and pastures, but is difficult to achieve when feeding high-energy concentrates. Human lifestyles add to the difficulty because many people don’t have time or aren’t available to feed concentrates little and often throughout the day.

Pulse or shock feeding

Unfortunately, with modern day horses, they often graze pastures designed for cattle, and are held in small paddocks or yards, which means than pasture intake may not be sufficient to deliver the required nutrient intake – especially for active horses in work. To meet the total nutrient demand, the horse often must be supplemented with other feeds, including hay, and processed feeds usually containing grain. Living conditions for horses and the lifestyle and work hours of their owners often determines that most horses are only fed twice or even once per day.

This style of feeding can deliver large loads of nutrients into a digestive system that is designed for a continuous supply. Termed pulse, or shock feeding, it is exacerbated when the feeds contain levels of some digestible nutrients (particularly sugar and starch) that exceed the digestive capacity of the horse’s intestines and cause spikes in the concentrations of blood glucose. These concentrated feeds can be considered as ‘fast foods’. ‘Pulse’ feeding ‘fast foods’ is one of the major factors contributing to the range of metabolic disorders found in horses today.

Feeding concentrates

Horse nutrition is based on mathematics. The nutrient requirement of horses can be calculated, and the nutrient composition of feeds can be measure and described in feed tables. The amount of feed required is a simple calculation; the difficulty is in knowing the effects of feeding concentrated feeds as ‘pulse’ feeds, rather than ‘slow feeds’, and knowing when one is over-feeding concentrate feeds.

What is a fast food?

Studies over recent years have identified the sugar and starch content of feeds as being one indicator of the ‘fast food’ status of a feed. All feeds contain sugar and starch, which are the major energy supplies to the horse. As said previously, the sugar and starch content is called NSC (non structural carbohydrate) and is equal to the glycaemic index (GI) in human nutrition.

The NSC content in a range of Australian horse feeds is shown below (Richards, N. Proc. Aust. Equine Sc. Symp., Vol 2, 2008)

This figure shows that commercially available horse feeds contain a range of NSC concentrations.

Grains also contain varying amounts of NSC, oats 46%, barley 57%, corn 65%, whereas hay contains as low as 7% NSC.

Feeds with higher NSC content are suited to horses in active work with higher energy demand, ie as work load increases, energy supply must increase.

For metabolically sensitive horses, e.g. older, overweight and/or laminitic horses and ponies, and some breeds, the suggested ‘safe’ NSC requirement is 10-12% in dry matter. It is proposed that feeding more than 12% NSC, and not increasing the horse’s work load is a possible reason for the metabolic disorders associated with over-feeding and under-working, because the horse is unable to burn off the additional energy from the glucose derived from the NSC.

NSC Digestion

Carbohydrates are composed of monosaccharides, which can only be absorbed from the intestines as glucose or fructose. Therefore all carbohydrates must be broken down to monosaccharides by various enzymes including amylase, maltase, sucrose and lactase. Amylase is the most important enzyme for digestion of starch. Unlike humans, amylase is not present in saliva in horses, and the horse only produces small amounts of amylase from the pancreas. The horse therefore has limited capacity to digest starch in the intestines.

Metabolic Disorders

The possible effects of overfeeding NSC feeds, in combination with pulse/shock load feeding rather than slow feeding, can be outlined as follows.

The Stomach

The horse’s stomach is divided into two sections. The second half has a thick cell wall lining, and the front half has a thin cell wall lining. With slow feeding, the feed enters the first part of the stomach and the horse releases acids into the stomach continuously, to help digest the food. With ‘shock’ feeding (feeding only twice per day) and feeding high NSC feeds, the horse releases higher levels of acid into the first stomach. The pH level declines, and can cause damage to the thin cell wall lining, causing ulcers. It is preferable to select low NSC feeds to reduce acid release into the first stomach, and feed little and often to avoid pulse/shock loading.

Small Intestines

The small intestine is designed to digest and absorb proteins, carbohydrates, oils, minerals and vitamins. The intestines have a maximum digestive capacity, and this capacity can be overloaded by feeding too much at any one time. They contain a large population of benign micro-oganisms, which live in symbiosis with the horse, i.e. they live together, where the horse provides the ‘home’ and the food supply, and the microbes digest the feed and provide nutrients to the horse. Dysbiosis occurs when the relationship between the host and the microbes is disturbed, usually when the feed supply to the microbes increases and there is rapid growth of the benign organisms, which can colonise the cell wall lining in the intestines. This may cause Leaky Gut Syndrome, which allows leakage of molecules such as glucose into the blood stream together with microbial toxins and other compounds. Leaky Gut Syndrome is known to occur in humans, and is implicated in Candida albicans. It is possible that Leaky Gut occurs in horses fed high NSC feeds, and causes increased blood glucose. What happens to the increased circulating level of glucose? If the horse does not use the glucose for energy (i.e. for exercise) the glucose has to go somewhere.

The horse releases insulin to enable the passage of glucose into the muscle cells. If there is too much glucose, the horse continues to produce insulin, but the cells lose insulin sensitivy and cease transporting glucose into the muscle cells. The cells become insulin resistant, which is the same as Type II diabetes in humans. Blood sugar levels rise, and insulin levels rise too. The blood sugar must go somewhere, and some can be stored in the fat cells, causing obesity. Increased insulin causes increased cortisol production, which in turn is implicated in laminitis, Cushing’s Syndrome and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). In some breeds, the glucose can be converted into an unusual polysaccharide and stored in the muscles, causing tying-up. It is well known that low NSC feeds should be fed to those horses susceptible to tying-up. Some glucose can also combine with proteins, forming a proteoglycan, which is deposited in connective tissue in the legs, possibly causing swelling and stocking up, lameness and DSLD. It is suggested that selecting low NSC feeds that don’t overload the intestines, causing abnormal growth of benign microbes (Dysbiosis), may be a possible means of reducing the effects of some of the feed-related metabolic disorders.

Large Intestines

The small intestine has a maximum capacity to digest sugars and starch. Feeding too much starch can cause starch overload, i.e. the sugars and starch flow on into the hindgut. The hindgut contains a population of microorganisms similar to that in the rumen of cattle. If cattle are overfed on grain, this causes acidosis (grain poisoning); the same effect occurs in horses. The additional sugar/starch is fermented by the microbes, and converted into acids, which are normally absorbed across the wall of the hindgut gut to provide energy. If the rate of fermentation is too high, the microbes produce high levels of acids, which are both absorbed, and also cause a decline in pH (acidity). These acids can cause cell wall damage and leakage of nutrients and microbial toxins into the blood stream. The effect of hindgut acidosis causing laminitis is well described by Dr Chris Pollitt in ‘Equine laminitis’ for Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Pub.No.01/129.

Hind gut acidosis is also implicated in causing hot and fizzy behaviour in horses.

Feeding low NSC feeds will reduce the flow of fermentable carbohydrates into the hindgut, and therefore reduce the production of acids.

Pulse Feeding

A pasture trail was conducted in which feeds with various levels of NSC were fed to grazing horses (Richards 2010). These included a sweetfeed (33% NSC), a pelleted feed (25% NSC), and CoolStance copra meal (11% NSC). The supplements were fed in two equal feeds, morning and night, in nose-bags to ensure all the food was eaten.

Circulating glucose was measured for six hours after pulse feeding.

Although the sweetfeed had a higher NSC, the digestible NSC was much lower, suggesting that some of the starch in the sweetfeed was passed undigested through the horse.

The results indicated that there was an immediate glucose spike after ‘pulse’ feeding the sweetfeed and pelleted feed with NSC>20%.

The CoolStance copra meal (NSC 11%) did not increase blood glucose levels above that in the pasture fed horses.

Is low NSC enough?

The pasture trial suggests that some energy feeds such as copra meal can be pulse fed, and yet be digested as a ‘slow feed’, ie they don’t cause a glucose spike. These feeds are low NSC and high DE (digestible energy) because they contain a combination of oil and digestible fibre. Some low NSC feeds are created by diluting the high NSC concentrate with poorly digestible, low NSC fillers, so they are low NSC and low DE, however, these feeds are usually unsuitable for performance horses.

High NSC Feeds and Horse Behavior

There is an age old expression that a horse is ‘feeling his oats’. This usually reflects a horse that is grain fed, and underworked, causing it to become ‘hot’, ‘excitable’, or ‘fizzy’. It is suggested that the glucose spike, and changes in insulin sensitivity arising from feeding high NSC feeds causes some horses to become hyperactive and difficult to manage. Reducing the NSC intake by feeding ‘cool feeds’ containing oils instead of grain, or increasing roughage is often recommended.

Whilst ‘slow feeding’ is the natural state for the horse, supplementary feeding is necessary for the modern horse, but shock/pulse feeding is, unfortunately, a function of human lifestyle and work hours.

Some concentrate feeds are ‘fast foods’ yet there are no labelling requirement for NSC levels in a feed, which is regrettable as feeding above 12% NSC and not increasing the work level may contribute to many metabolic disorders of performance horses. Careful consideration must be given to match the feed to the horse’s activity level, so as not to overfeed a high NSC feed and under work the horse. Horse owners can gain much by surfing the web, typing in keywords and following the links to reveal an amazing amount of information, and traditional thought is being challenged all the time.

Dr Tim Kempton has a degree and PhD in the basic and applied aspects of nutrition and specialises in the relationships between nutrition and performance of animals. He pioneered the concept of ‘cool feeds’ for horses in Australia with the introduction of copra meal in the 1980’s, which is now fed extensively as a cool feed. More recently, he has researched the role of NSC in horse feeds, and is committed to providing equine education and products based on sound science to avoid harming horses with kindness, through overfeeding and underworking.

For further information on this subject, visit


Originally posted 2012-11-29 05:57:19.

Mobile Stables – A Convenient Choice

Mobile Stables are gaining popularity throughout the equine community mainly due to the convenience and practicality of use. When keeping a horse or pony, one of the most important things to consider is to have somewhere for them to stay dry and warm through the winter months while also serving as comfortable shade during the summer. The first thing to do in order to find the most suitable stable for you and your horse is to establish exactly what you need from the stable.

Many people purchase static stables simply because they are unaware of a mobile stables alternative. Stables that can be moved around a field or from field to field are ideal for those looking for a temporary solution to their horses needs whilst a more permanent solution is sought.

Mobile stables often require no planning permission on a temporary basis, as there are no permanent ground works for the stables to be fixed into place. Also taken into consideration, for the sake of planning regulations, is the fact that a permanent source of water is also not fixed to the mobile stables. We recommend that all planning regulations be taken up with the appropriate authority to confirm these general statements as regards mobile stables.

The ability to move the stables easily using either a 4×4 vehicle or tractor to another location is also beneficial under certain circumstances. Soft ground around a stable or field shelter can become damaged and potentially dangerous to your horse during certain weather conditions and having the ability to move mobile stables to cleaner areas of the field is of particular advantage.

Mobile Stables also offer up further advantages over other types of mobile field shelter in that they are fully enclosed from the elements, rather than a conventional field shelter, which in effect is just a large shed with a side missing. Stables can also be closed and bolted to protect your horse from the possibility of theft or vandalism, which in these days is of particular worry to many a horse enthusiast.

Bespoke Mobile Stables are easily obtainable online and can be made to your precise requirements, some even having a convenient tack room or feed room attached to the side of the stable. In effect, if you can think of it and it can be easily pulled with a vehicle in your possession, then mobile shelters of any configuration is a definite proposition.

We hope you have enjoyed our ramblings on the subject of transportable stables and that you make your own educated decisions on what is best for you and your horse.


David ‘Goldie’ Edwards is employed by Custom Timber Buildings Ltd and their website gives clients the opportunity to further enhance their knowledge of Mobile Stables


Originally posted 2012-11-26 05:55:49.