Horse as Teacher
Horse as Teacher
Horse As Teacher

Horse As Teacher, The Path to Relationship is now available for purchase. Click here for details!

Our Services
Join Us
We Recommend

Our Site for Personal & Professional Growth
Empowering women from the inside out. Experience horses helping humans heal!

Click here to visit Unbridling Your Brilliance...

Archive for the ‘Horses Health’ Category

The Do’s & Don’ts of Laminitis (Part 3)

The previous article, “The Do’s & Don’ts of Laminitis (Part 2),” by Marijke van de Water, Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist, Homeopathic Practitioner, and Medical Intuitive & Healer, explored a few “do’s and don’ts” for ensuring the optimal health of a laminitic horse. See below for part 3 of this article, which outlines a few more “do’s” when caring for a laminitic horse.


The Do’s

Do treat horses for a leaky gut if present – hindgut bacteria, acids and toxins are a major cause of laminitis. Use Pro-Colon probiotics, Pro-Dygest, Para+Plus and/or Vitamin B12.

Do treat horses for parasites – parasitic toxins exacerbate hoof inflammation and/or laminitis.

Do ensure a proper barefoot trim with good hoof mechanism. Note: a pasture trim is not a barefoot trim. A pasture trim is done to nail a shoe on, a barefoot trim is done to maximize proper hoof growth and performance. Educate yourself on different trimming methods.

Do also educate yourself on sub-clinical laminitis – this is a type of laminitis that shows no clinical signs of separation, digital pulse or hoof tenderness. It is a common cause of hoof soreness and is absolutely under-diagnosed!

Do know that the most common hoof nutrient deficiencies are selenium, silica and sulphur – all minerals which strengthen hoof wall, lamina and joint capsules.

Do also know that rotated coffin bones will re-rotate back into position if the horse is fed an appropriate diet with the right supplements and is trimmed with a professional barefoot trim. Marijke has guided hundreds of laminitic horses in varying stages to 100% soundness – many of these horses were considered untreatable.

Do use boots and/or casts to relieve pain and encourage movement in the acute stages.

Do practice prevention – good food, good trims, good exercise!

Do read Healing Horses Their Way for an extensive resource of information on laminitis…and much more.

Happy Hooves, Happy Horses!

More from Marijke van de Water:
Twitter: @rivasremedies

The Do’s & Don’ts of Laminitis (Part 2)

The previous article, “The Do’s & Don’ts of Laminitis (Part 1),” by Marijke van de Water, Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist, Homeopathic Practitioner, and Medical Intuitive & Healer, explored a few “don’ts” for ensuring the optimal health of a laminitic horse. See below for part 2 of this article, which outlines a few more “do’s and don’ts” when caring for a laminitic horse.


The Don’ts

Don’t confine a laminitic horse no matter how sore they are – horses need movement and exercise to improve circulation and deliver nutrients to toxic and damaged hoof tissues. Let the sore horse decide how much movement he/she needs. Metabolic horses with laminitis need exercise to regulate blood sugar levels and to reverse their condition.

Don’t use glucosamine long-term, if at all – glucosamine is a type of sugar that strains the liver and depresses insulin production in sugar sensitive, overweight and/or metabolic horses.

Don’t accept hoof pathologies as normal (no matter what breed): flaring walls, bell-shaped hooves, cracking, splitting, soft soles, flat soles, long toes, high heels, contracted heels and/or under-run heels are all abnormal and can be fixed with a professional barefoot trim, exercise and a good diet.

Don’t always accept the label of “navicular” – this is an over-used diagnosis to explain unexplained symptoms. Many cases of so-called navicular are actually sub-clinical laminitis.

Don’t listen to well-meaning people who tell you that your horse won’t recover – they are misinformed.

The Do’s

Do feed horses a high fibre diet (e.g. hay, beet pulp, soybean hulls, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, wheat bran, wheat germ) – fibre detoxifies the liver and hindgut, regulates appetite, lowers the glycemic index of all feeds and encourages weight loss.

Do use slow feeders to lower stress levels, ease digestion and provide forage 24/7.

Stay Tuned for Part 3
In Part 3, we will share Marijke’s words on a few more “do’s” to ensure the optimal health of a laminitic horse.

More from Marijke van de Water:
Twitter: @rivasremedies

The Do’s & Don’ts of Laminitis (Part 1)

This is a very interesting and informative article by Marijke van de Water, Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist, Homeopathic Practitioner, and Medical Intuitive & Healer, which outlines a few “do’s and don’ts” for ensuring the optimal health of a laminitic horse. This is Part 1 – stay tuned for Part 2!

First, let’s start with the “don’ts”:


The Don’ts

Don’t put a laminitic horse on pasture – fresh grass is very high in sugar, especially in the spring, summer and the hottest part of the day.

Don’t feed oats, barley, corn, COB, grains or any other commercial grain feeds including extruded feeds – these (as well as grass) are all high in sugar and non-structural carbohydrates which increase blood sugar, insulin levels and cecal acids and toxins – all major causes of lamina inflammation.

Don’t feed high fat feeds or added oils. While current popular opinion promotes feeding horses poor quality fats for “cool” energy and for lowering the glycemic index of forage and grain, fats and oils congest the liver and lymph system, slow down digestive transit time, impede nutrient absorption, contribute to leaky gut, have no nutritional value and increase cortisol levels which elevates blood sugar.

Don’t feed alfalfa. While the high protein levels in alfalfa will lower the glycemic index and stabilize blood sugar in SOME horses, excess alfalfa will exacerbate laminitic symptoms in most horses by contributing to a leaky gut and/or by increasing the deposition of acids into the hoof joints.

Don’t soak your hay for longer than two to three weeks – any longer than that could increase hunger and stress levels as the sugar and/or protein levels may become deficient. Any hay that needs to be soaked long-term to maintain weight or soundness is not the right hay.

Don’t starve the overweight laminitic/metabolic horse – this creates stress causing unbalanced insulin levels, increased cortisol production, poor immunity and an increase in hoof inflammation. Feed small amounts of forage frequently by using slow feeders.

Stay Tuned for Part 2
In Part 2, we will share Marijke’s words on a few more “do’s and don’ts” to ensure the optimal health of a laminitic horse.

More from Marijke van de Water:
Twitter: @rivasremedies

Stress-Induced Ulcers in Horses Pt.2

Here is the second part of Madalyn Ward’s piece on detecting stress, the effects of it and possible treatment solutions:


Effects of Stress on the Body

Stress is not some imaginary emotion that can be controlled with will power. When the body perceives stress, real or imagined, it secretes hormones that have profound effects on many systems, including digestion. Any acute stressful event will cause digestion to cease as
the body prepares to fight or escape. Blood flow is diverted away from the digestive tract to the heart and muscles, secretion of saliva and digestive enzymes is slowed, intestinal motility slows and nutrient absorption stops. The body under acute stress also slows the production of protective mucus that lines the stomach wall and bicarbonate that buffers the stomach acid.

If stress happened infrequently the horse could relax after a stress and digestion would return to normal. The problem comes when acute bouts of stress come repeatedly or low level stress persists on a constant level. In this case the horse continues to eat but proper digestion does not occur. This can cause gas or impaction type pain or ulcers in horses that are not producing enough protective mucus or buffering bicarbonate.

Physiological effects of stress in horses:

  • Blood flow diverted away from the digestive system to the heart and muscles
  • Decreased secretion of saliva and digestive enzymes
  • Decreased intestinal motility
  • Decreased absorption of nutrients
  • Decrease in production of protective mucus and buffering bicarbonate

How to Reduce Stress in Horses

The bottom line is we want our horses to be stress free but this is almost impossible to achieve in real life. What we can do is take steps to prevent the development of ulcers in horses that are experiencing the basic stresses that are part of being in training. We can make sure the horse gets adequate turnout or work to match his energy level. We can feed smaller, more frequent, easily digested meals with more hay and less starch and sugar high concentrates. We can make sure horses get contact with other horses and provide them with a routine and good management.

We can and should plan to support the horse’s digestive tract with nutrient dense, whole food supplements, pre and probiotics, digestive enzymes, soothing herbs and products that contain nitric oxide precursors to help with blood circulation to the digestive tract. Different type and temperament horses respond differently to stress and will need different digestive support for best results. Check out Horse Harmony to help you determine your horse’s temperament type and look at our Feeding Guide to help select the best digestive support.
Twitter: madalynward

Stress-Induced Ulcers in Horses Pt.1

More great wisdom from Madalyn Ward – this time on a topic that stressed out both horses and humans: stress-induced ulcers. In this post (Part 1) we discuss how to recognize symptoms of a stressed-out horse.


Stress Induced Ulcers in Horses: Is Your Horse Stressing Out?

It is easy to recognize stress in the horse that walks his stall, cribs or kicks the walls. This type horse is telling you loud and clear that he is not happy and chances are he also has an ulcer. But what about the horse that loves his job, likes his person and surroundings – is this horse also a candidate for ulcers? The truth is ulcers in horses don’t just happen to those that are unhappy with their lives. Ulcers can happen to any horse under stress, even yours.

Stress in Horses

So what is stress to a horse. Confinement, infrequent feedings, separation from other horses, and trailering are a few known stressors for horses. Other causes of stress could be an increase in difficulty of a training exercise, a change in training routine, a change in surroundings or change in horses he is stabled with. These are just a few types of stress a horse might experience. The list of possibilities is endless.

Examples of stress in horses:

  • Confinement
  • Infrequent feeding
  • Separation from other horses
  • Trailering
  • Change in training difficulty, training routine, surroundings, horse companions

Not every horse shows stress outwardly. Unfortunately, the horse that suppresses his emotions may seem perfectly fine but still get ulcers. Stall weaving, cribbing, kicking the walls of a stall or trailer are all signs that a horse is stressed but so are generalized muscle tightness, decreased appetite and a depressed attitude. Any of these signs could be warnings of current or developing ulcers in horses.

Signs of stress in horses:

  • Stall weaving
  • Cribbing
  • Kicking the stall or trailer
  • Generalized muscle tightness
  • Decreased appetite
  • A depressed attitude

In Part 2 we will share Madalyn’s words on the effects of stress and treatment options.

More from Madalyn:
Twitter: madalynward

Restricting Forage is Incredibly Stressful Pt.2

 Here is Part 2 of Dr. Getty’s article on horse nutrition and health:

When a horse does lose weight through severe restriction, his metabolic rate slows down so dramatically that he can’t process a larger amount of food without gaining back all the lost weight and more when he returns to eating normally. The most likely next outcome is a laminitis attack.

Now, consider the free choice scenario: First, make sure what the horse is eating is low in NSC and low in calories. Once you know that it’s safe, then give your horse all he wants to eat 24/7, and never, ever let him run out—not even for 10 minutes. Very soon, your horse will eat only what he needs. Yes, at first he may overeat because he’s so excited, but once he realizes he can walk away and come back and figure out it’s no big deal—saying to himself the equivalent of “Yeah, yeah, it’s still there”—he will relax. Perceived starvation is no longer a threat and so his hormones start to calm down. His insulin level starts to drop. His body fat starts to be burned for energy rather than being held onto; his body also responds to the hormone, leptin, which tells him he is no longer hungry. He starts to lose weight, and lo and behold, he actually eats less than he did originally because when he has all that he wants, he knows how much he actually needs. Give him a chance to self regulate. A horse whose system is in healthy balance will not naturally overeat. Give him a chance to tell you what he needs.

Forget the dry lot with no hay. Forget the drastically reduced diet. I have seen this horrible damaging protocol again and again. I understand—it is difficult for horse owners to accept anything else. I am not arguing against restricting calories. Of course you have to do that, but you need to do it by giving a low calorie, low sugar/starch hay.

And you need to increase exercise. Exercise decreases insulin resistance. It also builds or helps protect muscle mass (which is metabolically more active) and certainly it directly burns calories which helps your horse lose weight.

Here’s an analogy: If I told you that you could lose weight by eating all the chocolate cake and ice cream you wanted and lolling around in a lounge chair all day, you would say that’s impossible—even ridiculous—and you’d be right. But if I said that you could lose weight if you chose to eat a lot of low calorie food—if you ate your fill of a variety of vegetables, for example—and got a reasonable amount of exercise, you would think that made sense. That’s what I’m telling you to do with your horse. Let him eat low calorie foods, all he wants, because that’s what he needs. Help him move around. You get the picture—I hope it makes sense now.

This article is an excerpt from the book, Equine Cushing’s Disease – Nutritional Management

For the growing community of horse owners and managers who allow their horses free choice feeding, there is a special forum for you to share your experiences with each other and to let me and others know how you’re doing. It is a place for support, celebrations, congratulations, and idea sharing. Go to

Please share this article with your fellow horsemen and women. Permission to reprint commercially is granted, provided that full credit is given to Dr. Getty and publisher informs Dr. Getty about the use of the article. She may be reached at No editorial changes may be made without her approval.

Restricting Forage is Incredibly Stressful Pt.1

This is a very interesting article from Dr. Juliet Getty about how when we restrict food from our horses, their reactions manifest in different ways. This is Part 1 – stay tuned for Part 2!

Restricting Forage is Incredibly Stressful

Choose a different method to help your horse lose weight

By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

Stress = Obesity. That’s right. Stress is keeping your horse fat. And the main source of stress for most horses? Restricting forage. The very thing most people do to try to help their horse lose weight actually causes the same stress reaction that brings about body fat retention, and all its attendant problems.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Here are the physiological facts—they are indisputable: The horse is a trickle feeder. He’s a grazing animal designed to chew all day long. His chewing produces saliva, which neutralizes the acid that’s continually flowing in his stomach. Your stomach produces acid only when you eat; your horse’s stomach produces acid constantly, even when the stomach is empty (you see where I am going with this—his stomach should never be empty!). He also needs forage flowing through his digestive tract to exercise those muscles; otherwise the muscles get flabby, which can bring on colic from a weak intestinal tract that torques and intussuscepts. Furthermore, the cecum (hindgut) contains the bacteria responsible for digesting fiber from forage. But its exit and entrance are both at the top! In order for digested material to be pushed to the top, the cecum must be full. Otherwise colic can result from material left at the bottom.

A horse that doesn’t have anything to eat will chew on whatever he can—fences, trees, even his own manure. It’s pitiful to see. Chewing on non-feedstuffs makes a horse mentally acutely uncomfortable because it goes against his instincts, but physically he is in pain and attempting to resolve it. Discomfort? Pain? Stress! And he’s stoic about it. You might look at him and say, “Well, he’s calm.” Sure, he may look that way but it’s an ingrained survival mechanism for horses that are in pain to hide it. In the wild, a horse that shows that he’s uncomfortable often gets left behind by the herd to fend for himself against predators. So anatomically and psychologically, the horse has evolved to deal with pain by simply bearing it. Even the pain of an empty stomach.

What happens when you bring this horse some hay? Against the fear of future deprivation and to relieve his stomach discomfort, he inhales it. Then he waits again for his next meal, even while the acid resumes bathing his empty stomach. And it’s not only the stomach that is affected. The acid can also damage the entire gastrointestinal tract, even making it all the way down to the hindgut. It can lead to colic and it can lead to laminitis.

I have seen hundreds of cases of horses suffering a laminitis relapse through being placed on a restrictive diet. Here’s the scenario: The horse is overweight (maybe even develops laminitis). The well-intentioned veterinarian tells the horse owner, “Put your horse in a dry lot and feed him only a little bit of hay, maybe about 1.5% of his body weight. Give several small hay meals a day, only.” And the rest of the time the horse stands there with an empty stomach. The well-intentioned veterinarian has just given the well-intentioned horse owner the worst possible advice because the stress of that leads to cortisol increase, which causes insulin to rise, and when insulin rises you have laminitis—new, recurrent or chronic. This happens over and over again; it is the unfortunate “conventional wisdom” of the horse industry.

I adamantly protest—this practice is not based on sound science.

For more from Dr. Getty – stay tuned for Part 2.

This article is an excerpt from the book, Equine Cushing’s Disease – Nutritional Management

For the growing community of horse owners and managers who allow their horses free choice feeding, there is a special forum for you to share your experiences with each other and to let me and others know how you’re doing. It is a place for support, celebrations, congratulations, and idea sharing. Go to

Please share this article with your fellow horsemen and women. Permission to reprint commercially is granted, provided that full credit is given to Dr. Getty and publisher informs Dr. Getty about the use of the article. She may be reached at No editorial changes may be made without her approval.

Getting Ready for Winter

Ok – so yes, summer is just winding down, but it’s certainly never too early to begin thinking about winter. The cooler weather will be here before we know it and it’s always better to be prepared and not be caught off-guard. I’ve got a great article to share with you from Julie Goodnight and her thoughts on winter preparations, specifically with hay. What do you do to prepare for winter? Please share any tips with us in the comments – looking forward to reading your words of wisdom.


Get Your Horses and Barn Winter-Ready in the Fall

Things change fast up here in the mountains in early fall. The beginning of fall still feels like summer, but by the end all the leaves will have fallen and the mountains will be capped with snow. Up here in the Rocky Mountains, we take winter seriously and getting the barn and the horses ready for winter is no small task.

In spite of all the technological advances in weather forecasting, the Farmer’s Almanac remains one of the most reliable sources for predicting weather over the long run. This year, according to the Almanac, we are expecting “piercing cold and normal snowfall.” Great–all the cold and not enough snow. Our neck of the woods is still recovering from drought; we wish it read “normal temperatures and overwhelming amounts of snow.”

As fall approaches, I turn my attention to getting the horses and barn ready for winter. There’s lots to do from bringing in 24 tons of hay to winterizing our water system to preparing for winter riding. Winter comes early here in the Rocky Mountains at 8,000 feet of altitude: It’s best to be ready early and not get caught with your hoses frozen.

When people hear that I live in the high mountains of Colorado, they often ask, “How do the horses cope in the winter?” The truth is that horses have proven themselves to be highly adaptable to just about any environment. Our winters are long, with lots of snow and below zero temps. The horses do just fine but it is a lot of work to get prepared for winter and to keep our barn functioning in the cold.

I buy my hay once a year in early fall. I like to have at least an entire year’s worth of hay in the stack and securely covered with heavy-duty hay tarps. Over the last 30 years, I’ve found early fall to be the best time to buy hay–the best quality hay is in the stack and has had plenty of time to cure (buying hay right out of the field can be a risk); the supply is high in early fall and the prices most stable. I buy primarily grass hay, and around here there is only one cutting and it comes late in the summer.

Budgeting hay is easy: I’ve used the same formula for several decades and it’s never proved wrong. I buy 1/3 ton per horse per month. Right now we have six horses, so that’s two tons per month times 12 months equals 24 tons per year. Pricing hay by the ton is the most reliable method as cost per bale varies greatly with the type of hay and the size of the bale, which could be anything from 60 pounds to 600. Even if I am forced to buy by the bale, I always calculate the cost per ton. With small bales, there are roughly 28-30 bales per ton. Before you can calculate cost or the quantity you need to buy, you would at least have to know how much the average bale weighs.

Most horses do best on straight grass hay, although alfalfa can be useful as a supplement for youngsters and pregnant or lactating mares. The most important part of any horse’s diet is forage, and I prefer my horses to eat a simple and healthy diet of lots of high-quality, low-protein grass hay and a few oats as needed (mostly the oats are to carry the supplements we give them for their joints, their hair coats and hooves, although a couple of our horses need more calories and so get more oats).

On cold winter nights, we give them extra hay so they can munch all night long to keep warm. My budget of 1/3 ton per horse per month gives us plenty of hay to give extra on the coldest nights and accounts for a small amount of spoilage, which will invariably happen if your hay is not stored indoors.

I like my horses coming into winter a little on the fat side and then trimming up over the winter. This is the natural order for horses, and they seem to do best when their condition is consistent with what they would endure in the wild (fat in the summer and lean in the winter). So I don’t worry if the fat ones lose a little weight over the winter and I know that either the new green grass or an increase in their hay ration in the spring will help encourage shedding.

Most horses do just fine in our climate being outdoors and unblanketed. They do need a wind break, and generally when it is snowing hard the horses are happy to be inside the barn. Our horses are kept in individual stalls with runs at night and turned out in group paddocks during the day. This is the best of both worlds since at night we can better individualized their rations and during the day they can romp and socialize. If it is below freezing or very stormy, we lock the horses inside and close up the barn tight so their body heat is trapped inside to keep them a little warmer.

We do keep some horses blanketed during the winter–either because they are geriatric or because they are staying in training through the winter and will be ridden indoors. In the case of the seniors, they have such low body fat and it is difficult for them to get all the calories they need so the blankets help a lot. My performance horses are kept blanketed to keep their hair coats down to a minimum so they don’t end up wringing wet in sweat every time we ride.

Early fall is the time that we get all the blankets out, make sure they have been washed and repaired as needed and check to see if we have the right size and weight for all the horses that need them. We make sure they are fitted and labeled with each horse’s name. Since we have pretty harsh winters here, we use an “arctic weight” blanket for the performance horses. I also like a blanket that is waterproof and windproof since they may be outside in bad weather at times. I prefer “turtle necks” for the same reasons. Over the decades, I have discovered that it pays to buy the highest quality winter blankets. In the long run you’ll save money because they last for years instead of for weeks.

We also have to tackle the facility and get it ready for the winter. I always check my indoor arena this time of year to make sure the footing is good and no repairs are needed. We use Arena Rx to keep our indoor arena dust-free, and it occasionally needs an additional application. It’s well worth the money for both my horse’s health and my own to keep the arena dust-free.

Coming into winter I like to make sure my saddle pads are clean. We spend some extra time cleaning and conditioning the leather tack. I am fortunate to have a heated tack room, which is much easier on the leather. If your tack room is not heated, you may need to protect certain drugs, medications and supplies like fly spray from freezing (a little dormitory sized refrigerator works great for this).

Once winter sets in for good and we can no longer ride outdoors, we move all our tack to the unheated indoor arena so we can groom and tack out of the elements. If you don’t have a warm place to keep your tack, it’s not a bad idea to move it into your house or garage if you can. Get yourself a pretty wooden saddle rack and make it part of your decor! Keeping your bridles inside will keep the bit from freezing your horse’s tongue.

With sub-zero temperatures for weeks on end, water is always big problem in the winter. Hoses and attachments have to be drained and put away; the automatic waterers have to be checked and re-checked to make sure the heaters are working and our outdoor wash rack has to be put to bed. We hang heated water buckets in the stalls that don’t have automatic waterers.

Additionally, I like to make a corner-to-corner inspection of the barn, the barn yard and surrounding areas to make sure little odds and ends are put away–the rake someone left out, the pliers lying in the corner, the weed eater, etc. There’s nothing worse than getting an early snow storm and burying all that stuff that somehow got left out over the summer!

No doubt, after all this preparation, we’ll be sure to have an Indian summer. Bring it on! By the end of early fall, winter will be ready to pounce at any time here in Colorado, and I hate to be caught off-guard. Keeping horses in the winter in cold climates can be a real challenge, but being prepared will make it much easier to endure–for both you and your horses!

Turn Out for a Healthier Horse

A great article from the Canadian Horse Journal found its way to my inbox and I thought I would share. 

Do you turn out your horse? For how long? Would love to hear your thoughts! 


Let Loose! Turn Out for a Healthier Horse

By Shantelle Roberts/Canadian Horse Journal


Limiting or eliminating turnout is common practice in the high performance equestrian world, usually in an attempt to avoid equine injuries that would be detrimental to performance goals. But does confinement to a stall or very small paddock cause more problems than it prevents?

In nature, wild horses are herd-oriented and nomadic, spending up to 20 hours a day on the move, covering an average of 15 to 20 kilometres and grazing as they go. Despite thousands of years as a domesticated species, our horses have retained the same basic physiology, instincts, and social needs as their feral counterparts. Insofar as we are able, satisfying these basic needs is imperative for promoting physical, mental, and emotional equine health, and turnout is an important component to consider.

Physical Factors
Studies have demonstrated that horses confined to their stalls are more likely to develop health issues – such as respiratory problems, gastric or colonic ulcers, and impaction colic – that are associated with lack of movement and restricted grazing.

Daily turnout, preferably for at least several hours, not only exposes your horse to the fresh air, exercise, and grazing habits that promote good respiratory and gastrointestinal health, but also helps build general fitness and stronger bones, muscles, and ligaments and tendons.

Additionally, the increased movement encouraged by turnout should improve a horse’s flexibility. Turning your horse out before riding stretches his muscles, which can minimize the risk of training-related injuries and enhance performance.

Mental & Emotional Matters
Horses that receive daily turnout tend to be generally happier and less high strung, improving performance and making training and handling easier.

Without the mental stimulation of being turned out and engaging with other horses, a horse will very quickly become bored and unhappy, and may develop stable vices such as chewing wood, weaving, or stall walking. Additionally, depressed mood in horses, as in people, often has a significant negative impact on performance.

The social aspect of turnout with other horses is also of great benefit to a horse’s mental and emotional health. As herd animals, horses are extremely social by nature. Stabled horses often have limited opportunities to interact with other equines and this can have negative psychological implications. Turning your horse out with a single companion or a small group satisfies his instinctual need for interaction with other horses.

Set Yourself Up for Turnout Success
Before you let your horse loose to begin reaping the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of turnout, make sure the turnout area is devoid of any potential horse hazards. Good horse turnout will have safe, well-maintained fencing, quality pasture without any toxic plants, good footing, a constant source of clean, fresh water, and shelter.

Diagnosing Dani

Another great piece from Madalyn Ward – a fantastic resource for holistic horsekeeping. In her latest piece, she details how she evaluated a horse (Dani) and considered different aspects of the horse in both diagnosis and treatment. It may not always be a case of supplements and water…but environmental changes as well! Great work Madalyn.


Horse Temperament: Dani, the Lonely Fire Horse

Dani is a Warmblood mare who is a new addition to a jumping horse program. She is a gentle and willing Fire horse temperament but not quite strong enough yet for jumping. Her trainer is working with her to help her get more balanced, but Dani is weak in her hind end and not able to hold a canter. Her trainer would like for Dani to be less quick in her gaits and shift her weight to her hindquarters, but if she takes hold of her head at all then Dani rushes more.

Examining Dani 

I first saw Dani on May 9th 2013 and it was obvious she was sensitive. On exam I noted several osteopathic issues in her hind end and head. Dani was tight in her poll and jaw. After her adjustment she seemed more relaxed.

I saw Dani again on July 23. Her trainer reported she was working well, but still seemed weak in her hindquarters. On exam the issues in her hind end seemed better, but Dani was still tight in her poll and jaw. She also had some congestion over her left kidney. It turns out that Dani is not a good water drinker at all and her trainer worries about her becoming dehydrated in the summer heat.

Dani’s Treatment

I did a network chiropractic treatment on Dani and found her to be stuck in a phase 2 pattern. This pattern suggests an emotional concern about the future. I got the feeling from Dani that she was not sure she was going to make it in the training program. As a Fire horse temperament, she was very concerned about pleasing her trainer, but her muscle development was not adequate to carry weight on her hindquarters the way her trainer wanted. Fire horses may not be as strong as other temperaments so it takes much longer to develop their ability to work in self carriage.

The other sense I got from Dani was that she was lonely. Fire horses love personal attention and grooming. Dani’s stall was at the far end of the barn and she rarely got attention other than for her training sessions. In addition to my chiropractic work I decided to try some acupressure points to help balance Dani so she would be stronger in her hind end and feel better about life in general.

I choose HT 7 as a point to calm the mind and relieve anxiety and worrying under stressful conditions. KI 3 was used to strengthen the bones and lower back. SP 6 was used to calm the mind and nourish the blood. I also choose SP 6 in case Dani had any underlying dampness issues that might be causing her to not want to drink water. ST 36 was chosen as a general strengthening point and as a local point for possible stifle pain. CV 6 was used to tonify the kidneys and GV 4 was used to straighten the lower back.

Dani’s Results

Dani’s trainer was very willing to make some management changes. She moved Dani to a stall that is closer to all the activity to make sure she gets some personal attention other than training sessions. Since the move, Dani has been more relaxed. She is still quick in some of her movement under saddle but getting more steady every day. Dani is also now drinking twice as much as she was before treatment.
Twitter: madalynward