Archive for the ‘Horsecare’ Category
You can lead a horse to water….
Let’s hope they have a drink! It’s easy to neglect this key element in our health when it comes to considering nutrition and “fuel”. When I feel slightly out of sorts, relief usually comes in the form of a tall glass of water (with ice, warm, cold…your choice!). This is a great piece from Canadian Horse Journal on the importance on hydrating your horse:
Hydrate for a Healthy Horse
By Jess Hallas-Kilcoyne/Canadian Horse Journal Staff
For all the time we spend deliberating about what type of hay to feed, or whether to add this supplement or that, the majority of horse owners tend not to spend a great deal of time thinking about the most important nutrient of all – water.
Water helps maintain the healthy functioning of all the organs and systems in your horse’s body. Among many other things, it is essential to aiding digestion, regulating body temperature, eliminating toxins from the body, and lubricating the joints.
The average 1000-pound horse requires a minimum of five to ten gallons (19 to 38 litres) a day to stay properly hydrated and maintain body functions. Water requirements increase with warmer weather and increased work, and are also affected by management and diet. A horse that is turned out in a dry lot and fed dried forage will consume more water than a horse that is turned out on pasture, as fresh grass has a high water content. Pregnant and lactating mares also have increased water needs.
Without adequate water intake, a horse can become dehydrated very quickly, and dehydration can rapidly lead to colic. Reduced water consumption is sometimes thought to be a concern exclusive to the colder winter months, but the increased traveling, temperature, and workload that accompany spring and summer can also wreak havoc on your horse’s hydration. The most effective way to prevent your horse from becoming dehydrated is to make sure he always has access to fresh, clean water, regardless of the season or weather.
There are two principal ways to check if your horse is dehydrated. The “pinch test” consists of pinching the skin on the neck in front of the shoulder, then releasing it. The skin should return to normal in less than two seconds. You can also check your horse’s capillary refill time by pressing your thumb firmly against his upper gum for two seconds and timing how long it takes the pink colour to return to the area after you release. A capillary refill time of longer than two seconds is a possible indication of dehydration.
If you ever suspect that your horse is dehydrated, contact your veterinarian immediately. He or she will also be able to advise you if you are concerned that your horse’s water consumption is low.
Another great resource is Madalyn Ward’s Holistic Horsekeeping. I highly recommend subscribing to her newsletter…as well as updates from Passion for Horses!
I’d like to share with you her post on using Traditional Chinese Medicine in assessing your horse’s health. If you’ve ever visited a Chinese pharmacy or herbalist, you’ll be amazed by the results that can be seen just by combining the right and different amounts of herbs and essences. Chinese medicine takes into consideration not only your outward physical symptoms but what your energies are like inside.
Read on for some great insight!
Pain Explained with Traditional Chinese Medicine – Part 1
Ever wonder why the miracle product that works on so many horses does not do a thing for your horse? Or why the wonder cure you found and shared with all your friends did not help their horses one little bit. The reason is not all pain is the same. Western Medicine tends to lump all pain symptoms together and treat them the same. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) divides types of pain into 5 types and treats each type quite differently.
According to TCM, except for acute injury, all pain is the result of an underlying weakness in the immune system. A healthy body should have an abundance of defensive Qi (Wei Qi) circulating through the meridians to protect against external pathogens such as Wind, Cold and Damp. Qi represents the life force of the body and meridians are the pathways through which this energy flows. TCM looks at pathogens and Wind, Cold, Heat, and Damp where Western Medicine looks at viruses, bacteria and parasites. Anyone who has experienced the achy joints and muscles with the flu, a sinus headache or Lymes disease understands how viruses, bacteria and parasites can cause pain.
Pain in TCM is referred to as a Bi Syndrome. Bi means obstruction in the meridians caused by the invasion of Wind, Cold and Damp. Bi
syndrome may show as pain, soreness, numbness, or swelling of the joints, bones, muscles, and connective tissues. Western Medicine would
label these conditions as rheumatism, arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, etc.
The 5 types of pain according to TCM are Wandering Bi(Wind), Painful Bi(Cold), Fixed Bi(Damp), Febrile Bi(Heat) and Bony Bi(long standing Damp).
Wandering Bi acts like wind with rapid onset of pain that moves around in the body. The soreness and pain can be in the joints or muscles and movement will be limited. Western Medicine would look at this type of pain as fibromyalgia or sciatica. This is the horse that is off but for no apparent reason. Lameness exams can be frustrating in that flexion tests and blocking will not identify the area of pain.
Painful Bi acts like cold with contraction and congealing. The pain is severe and stabbing in nature. It can be in the muscles or joints with limited movement and coldness of the tissues. Bursitis and early stage arthritis would fit the Western Medicine model. This is the horse that starts out very lame and then moves better as he warms up. Flexion tests and joint blocks may identify the area of pain but little will show up on radiographs or ultrasound.
Fixed Bi acts like damp with edema, numbness and stiffness more than pain. Wet weather will aggravate symptoms. Western Medicine would call
this type pain rheumatism. Stocking up in the legs would also be a characteristic of Fixed Bi. This horse will have sound days and lame days depending on the weather. The area of concern may be obvious due to swelling but other times no outward symptoms are seen.
Febrile Bi acts like fire with rapid onset of redness, swelling and severe pain. The pain can be in more than one area and movement will be very restricted. Pressure will increase the pain and the patient may be irritable. Joint infections fit into the category of Febrile Bi. Joint infections can occur from tiny punctures that don’t show up as a wound. If you suspect a joint infection call your vet immediately. Hoof abscesses are another example of Febrile Bi. They are less of an emergency but still require immediate attention to relieve suffering.
Bony Bi is the result of long term invasion of Wind, Cold and Damp. You will see muscle atrophy, joint deformity and joint degeneration. Osteoarthritis is the Western equivalent of Bony Bi. Bony Bi will show up on radiographs but at this stage the condition is very difficult to treat.
Types of TCM Pain:
Treatment and prevention for all Bi syndromes should begin with a strengthening of the Wei Qi. Overall health and nutrition should be examined. Nutritional products such as Citrus C/Q, Bleeder’s Blend, PrePro and APA blend will support the Lungs(Wandering Bi), Spleen(Fixed Bi) and kidneys(Painful Bi). General supportive accupressure points include, LI 11, GV 14, SP 6, ST 36 BL 11 and GB 39.
Treatment for individual Bi syndromes will be discussed next month.
For further information about accupressure points visit
Please also enjoy all of Dr. Ward’s web resources:
Sharing a story from Marijke van de Water of Riva’s Remedies…
Holly is a 6 year old Arab mare from B.C., Canada who was afflicted with severe laminitis in all four hooves in May 2012; she was unable to walk or even stand some days and spent days laying with ice packs on all four feet. By June of the same year both Holly’s progress and prognosis were poor. Thus Holly’s owner Diane Armitage contacted Marijke for help in healing Holly’s very sore hoof condition. This case was of interest to Marijke because while the majority of cases of laminitis are caused by feed imbalances, leaky gut, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, lack of movement and/or poor hoof trims, Holly’s case was more complex and her laminitis was multi-factorial.
In addition, other than a two week overdue trim, Holly’s hoof angles and hoof mechanism were acceptable. Because Holly and Diane live several
hours from the Riva’s Remedies health clinic, I conducted Holly’s health assessment by distance using The Marijke Method™, a specific method of kinesiology to identify underlying health issues and to formulate successful health programs. I found that Holly had three issues directly relating to her laminitis:…
Marijke works from her naturalhealth clinic in Armstrong, B.C. where she specializes in helping horses and people. She holds a B.Sc. in Clinical Nutrition and a Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine and Science. She blends her vast knowledge of science, health and nutrition with natural medicine, kinesiology and energy healing. She is considered one of the foremost experts in therapeutic nutrition and equine natural medicine with a special interest in digestive disorders, immunity, laminitis, metabolic syndrome, and emotional and spiritual wellness.
Marijke is also the founder, formulator and CEO of Riva’s Remedies, a herbal and homeopathic product line for horses.
Training of horses young early in life, particularly on compacted tracks or arenas, fast gaited and jumping horses are more prone to develop arthritis later in life. Poor conformation and poor farriery can also be a factor, leading to uneven wear and overload on particular tendons and joints. Horses left to develop long toes and lowered heels risk strain and arthritis in the joints.
Nutritional deficiencies also have a bearing on joint health. High grain, rich feeding, an acidic diet, and inadequate calcium or copper in the diet can increase the incidence of bone and joint degeneration.
Action: With Arthritis, prevention is definitely better than cure. Early recognition and care of arthritis is also highly beneficial.
Early stages of arthritis can be settled with topical liniments. Warm poultices and warm bandaging can help to warm up joints and increase mobility. Applied whilst transporting a horse, overnight or prior to gentle exercise, or alternatively after work, to help relieve minor soreness. Armoricaine Clay poultices can be used in this way.
Diet: According to Pat Colby it is not uncommon for the overuse of super-phosphate fertilizers to have a debilitating and depleting affect on the mineral balance of soils. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassiuim should be added to help balance these phosphorus levels.
High grade dolomite is important for treating and preventing arthritis and giving an adequate Calcium and Magnesium supply. Australian seaweed or Kelp (Natrakelp is the most readily absorbed form of liquid seaweed), apple cider vinegar and flax seed meal or flax oil (refrigerated) have healing properties and are good for supporting a balanced diet for your horse.
Cold pressed Linseed oil, Garlic, Chamomile and a mineral or good quality rock-salt lick will also help support your horse.
MSM is a biological sulphur powder that contains a type of sulphur that is often lacking in arthritic sufferers.
Ester C is a non-acidic Vitamin C that can be added to feed to help reduce inflammation and boost immunity. Glucosamine is also used widely now for the treatment of arthritis, and a vegetable form can be sourced.
An acidic or high grain diet is not recommended for arthritic horses.
General Tip: Management and comfort of arthritic horses is important. Suitable rugging will help your horse through the colder periods. Warm paddock boots can also be used where required.
Therapies that support the suppleness and freedom of movement both in preventative and treatment care, are highly beneficial to your horse. This can include qualified and quality Chiropractic work (where required), Acupuncture and regular Massage for your horse. Exercises that support suppleness are also a good idea, and working your horse on gentle, supportive surfaces will increase the longevity of their joints.
Where an accident or injury has occurred, good first aid and follow up treatment lessens the likelihood of arthritic degeneration occurring. A good example of initial treatment might look like this:
- Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence for shock and trauma
- Homeopathic Arnica for injury
- Rosehip tea with an appropriate mineral supplementation
- Herbs for tissue regeneration and detoxification
- Natural feeding diet to support bone health and general wellbeing
- Adequate rest
I hope some of the ideas in this article have been of use for increasing your understanding of arthritis.
About the author
Zoe Dodds is an Equine Acupuncturist & holistic healer from Australia and the founder of Natural Horse Therapies. www.naturalhorsetherapies.com
This article appeared in the Equine Wellness Magazine and is a very good description of the amazing benefits of Yoga, not just for yourself but even your horses!
Yoga – not just for humans!
By Linda Guanti – CYI
“Yoga with horses?” “What’s that?” “How is that possible?” This is what I often hear when people discover what I do. I realize it may be difficult to comprehend at first but once you get a glimpse of what yoga with horses is all about, it actually makes a whole lot of sense. If you can appreciate the need and benefits of yoga for humans then you can translate the same to the horse.
What’s good for you can be good for your horse
The practice of yoga reconnects you with your body. You essentially teach (or re-teach) yourself where your body is and how to move it in the strongest and most balanced way with the least amount of stress. You also stretch, strengthen and tone. Anything with a body is therefore a yogi. Body awareness is fundamental to preventing injury and chronic pain. For riders, knowing how you are using your body can help you realize that sometimes it is your body that is preventing your horse from performing something you are asking!
Yoga helped me when I was seeking relief from a chronic back issue caused by a serious injury in my past. Diligently combining yoga with massage therapy and physiotherapy, the symptoms became less severe and reoccurred less often. It was undeniable. The massage therapy and physiotherapy are now only used on an as needed basis. The yoga remains.
Without such chronic back issues my riding abilities and stamina improved and thus the athletic demands on my horse did. My ongoing concern for his well-being made me wonder what I could do to help his body with his physical stresses. I realized that if yoga was so good for me it would also be good for my horse.
Linda Guanti (www.yogawithhorses.com) is a certified yoga instructor based out of Pemberton, BC. She discovered yoga after an injury left her with chronic health issues, affecting her ability to ride. Yoga changed her life and she now utilizes it to help other riders, and stretch their horses too!
One important thing to remember is that although horses do well in colder temperatures, they can be Read the rest of this entry »
When the cold winter weather hits, many horse owners automatically bring out the horse blankets. However, a horse’s normal winter coat is much more insulating than a blanket, and unless the horse has been clipped, is outside without a windbreak, or has been moved to a colder climate during winter months, it will usually actually be warmer without a blanket.
The longer winter coat helps to trap the body heat against the skin. Also, tiny muscles in the skin raise the hairs, creating tiny air pockets that heighten the insulating effect. Flatten this ‘fluffed-up’ coat by adding layers of light blankets, or even one heavy one, can actually make the horse colder.
However there are some circumstances where a blanket is necessary. Carefully consider whether or not your horse should be blanketed.
-Is your horse mostly outside without much shelter?
-Is he/she older and needs extra help staying warm or keeping weight on?
-Is your horse clipped?
-Has your horses recently moved to a colder climate?
These are some of the reasons why your horse would need the extra protections of a blanket through the winter.
Firstly- measure your horse to see what size he will need… Read the rest of this entry »
Fall has well and truly set in here on the Lower Mainland…and it looks like it is going to be a very wet AND humid one! Perfect conditions for the dreaded ‘Rain Scald’ also known as:
- Rain Rot
- Mud Fever
- Dew Poisoning (when its on the legs)
Here is an article on what Rain Scald really is, how to prevent it and how to treat it.
By Cheryl Sutor
What is rain rot?
Rain rot is one of the most common skin infections seen in horses. It is also referred to as “rain scald” or “streptothricosis”. The organism that causes rain rot appears and multiplies in warm, damp conditions where high temperature and high humidity are present. This condition is not life-threatening, so don’t worry. However, while the horse has rain rot, any equipment that may rub and irritate the infected skin (such as saddles and leg wraps) should be eliminated.
What causes rain rot?
The organism dermatophilus congolensis causes rain rot. dermatophilus congolensis is not a fungus. It is an actinomycetes, which behaves like both bacteria and fungi. Most people believe that the organism is present in soil, however, this has not been proven. The organism is carried on the horse, who has it in his skin. A horse who has this organism in his skin may or may not be affected.
What does rain rot look like? Read the rest of this entry »
By Cheryl Sutor
If you own, ride or handle horses, it is mandatory that you educate yourself of taking care of them. You will need to know at some point, how to tell if a horse is feeling well, or if a horse needs immediate veterinary attention. A horse’s vital signs should be checked regularly, once a week is ideal. Check the horse’s vital signs every time you suspect any change in his behavior. Learning to accurately observe and judge your horse’s vital signs takes alot of practice. Your horse is counting on you to find and treat every problem or illness in its early stages!
If ANY concern arises, never hesitate to call your veterinarian!
Normal body temperature is 99 – 101 F. A temperature higher than that, may indicate an infection. A healthy horse’s temperature can vary by 3 degrees depending on environmental factors. Horses tend to have higher temperatures in warm weather and during/after exercise, stress or excitement. A high fever doesn’t Read the rest of this entry »
We have recently taken an older horse into our care who was retired from work due to his declining health. He was unable to live in a herd enviroment and fend for himself anymore and so he has come to us so that he can recieve personalized care and feeding.
Although this horse came from a good home and was by no means a ‘rescue’ it did make me think about all the rescue horses that we have nursed back to health and what a difficult and long journey it can be.
Taking in and bringing a starving horse back to health should always be approached with adequate information and preperation for the task ahead and this article helps you to understand a little of what this involves…
If a malnourished horse has come under your care, it is important you know that feeding him is delicate. The horse’s stomach is a fragile organ, prone to distension and colic and other problems, so you have to carefully monitor the feed a malnourished horse receives, and make adjustments accordingly.
ONE—-It is a sight that is far too common these days–horses starved to the point of death or near death. If you are kind enough to try and help, remember that no good deed is easy, and often you will find yourself wondering why on earth you got yourself into this mess. Read the rest of this entry »