Monthly Archives: January 2015

  • This Place We Call Home

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    We’ve all heard the saying, “Home is where the heart is.” I’ve lived in the same home for over 25 years. It’s a small house on 5 acres, with a beautiful state park in the back yard. If you’ve been reading along, you’ve read about my adventures with the dogs here, and about the deer, eagles, and other creatures that share this space. We have well over an acre fenced in for the dogs to run, and can walk from our back yard right into a park with trails and access to the St. Croix River. There’s plenty of space to run, and to set up an agility course or a track for the dogs.

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    Recently life threw me a curve that has me thinking about moving. My job has been going well. I was promoted recently, received a significant raise, and have a new manager who is helping me define my new role. Everything was going in the right direction, when the company announced that it’s moving 15 miles farther west. This may not sound like a lot, but would mean a commute of over 45 miles each way, partly in city traffic, and would likely mean that I’d spend 3 hours or more commuting every day. Over the years I’ve resisted moving for a job and have been able to stay employed. But now there are fewer and fewer jobs on this side of town. My other employment options are mostly also farther west.

    So I‘ve been faced with the idea of possibly moving. I probably wouldn’t consider it except it’s getting more difficult for me to take care of this place and have time for the dogs and friends and any kind of leisure activities. We’re all getting older. When I began thinking about the tradeoffs of moving, my biggest considerations related to the dogs. We’re used to open space, and quiet and seeing the stars at night. We would be overstimulated by the noises and lights of the city.

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    Much of my daily life is spent playing with the dogs in the yard, walking/running them in a huge fenced area on our property, and exploring nearby parks and trails. I want my dogs to be able to bark once in a while without bothering a hundred neighbors. I don't want my herding dogs to be overstimulated by too much activity in the neighborhood (which may require some re-training). Chase and Cay have both lived here for most of their lives and would have to adjust to a change.

    I wonder how dogs adapt to living in the city. I suppose it’s all that some dogs have ever known. If they get enough exercise and time outside and love and good food, they’re probably fine. But how do dogs who’ve only ever lived in the country adapt to living in the city, or even the suburbs? Mine would need retraining to know that they had a much smaller area to protect.

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    As I’ve driven around suburbs where I might like to live, I’ve noticed that my chest tightens up when I see houses that are close together. House photos online never accurately show how close together the houses are. In one neighborhood, I found a very nice house, not too big, with a 0.62 acre yard. I think it would have been ok, except that the houses around it all had bright Christmas lights and the house behind had a rather gaudy display of brightly blinking lights. It felt a bit too much like Las Vegas. Maybe in the day time, with the lights off, it would have been ok. I guess I’ve been spoiled, especially by not having another house directly behind.

    Most of the newer neighborhoods in this area have bigger houses and smaller yards. We don’t need a big house, so I’ve mostly been looking in older established neighborhoods, with smaller houses that are farther apart. Some even have half acre, or larger, lots. What about the dogs that live in those big houses with tiny yards? I hope they get out for a good walk every day. Although a good walk can stimulate their senses and make them breathe hard, even at 7 ½ and 9 ½ years old, my dogs do not wear out easily while on leash.

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    One of my biggest considerations is having open space to exercise the dogs every evening after work. This means a safe place to walk year-round, whether it’s light or dark, hot or cold, rainy or icy. We have enough space on our own property now that I can run the dogs inside the fence in the dark on a cold winter night. I can walk laps around the field, which requires walking up and down hill, and we all get enough exercise and time outside. What if we only had a half acre or less of our own property? A friend suggested that I look for a place with less land to take care of, with a park behind where we can walk.

    In going through this process of deciding what’s most important, I realized that it’s not just about keeping the dogs happy. For the past 25 years, through all the things that have happened in my life, I’ve had this peaceful place to come home to. What has kept me grounded is that walk on the hill with the dogs. Every night, they get out and run and unwind, using their noses to learn what happened in the neighborhood that day. Every night, I follow them up the hill, discarding the frustrations of the day and grounding myself in nature. In the summer we watch the sun set. In the winter, we look at the stars. I wouldn’t do it faithfully every day by myself. It’s the dogs that get me out.

    We may stay here or we may move. I don’t have the answer yet. For now, the dogs and I will take our walk up the hill every evening to leave the cares of the day behind and ground ourselves.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Give your dogs the best nutrition to help keep them healthy. Supplement their food with Omega Fields Canine Shine (https://www.omegafields.com/canine-products/omega-canine-shinetm.html) and Omega Nuggets (https://www.omegafields.com/canine-products/omega-nuggets.html).

  • Something Looks Funny on My Horse's Hoof

    Written By Guest Writer - Walt Friedrich

    In the course of my barefoot hoof trimming practice, I come across some situations and conditions that elicit questions from my clients. We trimmers greatly appreciate thoughtful questions relating to hooves; it shows us that the client has a genuine interest in the horse’s hoof-related matters, and we get the opportunity to do a little educating about a subject that many consider quite complex, even a bit mysterious.

    I’ll touch on two examples here. Both came from clients with a deep interest in their horses’ welfare, and both pertain to conditions that are quite common.

    The first is the sudden appearance of pinkness near the white line at the bottom of the foot, usually in the toe area. We come across the condition when picking out and brushing the sole area, or when touching up the bottom edge of the wall with the rasp. It elicits concern, because it correctly implies that it is blood.

    It's actually not uncommon to see pink in the white line area after rasping. The pink is there before rasping, of course, but it's covered with dirt. Rasping cleans things up so we can see details, including color; the pink we see is actually old, well-diluted blood.

    Blood vessels abound throughout the entire foot EXCEPT for the wall, which contains no blood vessels at all. The foot boasts the most concentrated and busiest blood supply in the horse’s entire body (among other benefits, that translates to heat, which is why the feet of healthy horses don’t freeze). The wall is tightly attached to the foot’s coffin bone by means of the laminae. Think of the laminae as though it were Velcro, one half of which is attached to the coffin bone, and the other is the inner “surface” of the wall. The inside half of the laminar connection shares the foot’s rich blood supply, while the outer half contains none.

    Interesting – with blood everywhere EXCEPT in the wall, how does it manage get itself down to the bottom of the foot where we see it as a pink stain in the white area?

    Let’s briefly get a little technical: the average horse’s hoof wall, about 3/8-inch thick, consists of two substances: vertical, downward-growing tubules, and holding them in place and providing strength is a material known as intertubular horn. The tubules are generated from a corium, or source, located in the coronary band, and are very densely packed together at the outer surface, gradually thinning out a bit as we go deeper into the wall. Intertubular horn cells are generated from the laminae and grow outward, directly into the clustered tubules, completely drenching them. Thus is formed the structure ofdensely packed tubules glued tightly together by intertubular horn -- the extremely tough hoof wall we are all familiar with. Because of the “thinning out” of the tubules as we look farther into the wall, we conveniently refer to the wall as having two sections – “outer wall” and “inner wall”. The extreme density of the outer wall makes it an almost impenetrable shield, very effectively protecting the foot from most outside trauma. The inner wall, lacking the high degree of rigidity provided by the outer wall’s dense tubule packing, is actually flexible enough to help absorb external shocks that are passed on by the outer wall, thus protecting the more delicate inner foot components.

    The point to take home is simply that as the intertubular horn cells move outward through the wall, they are pulled into the downward flow of tubular growth and migrate to the ground. The rate of descent is generally on the order of about one-half to one centimeter per month.

    How does all this explain the pink in the white line? The key is the connection between the two halves of the laminae – the inner being well supplied with blood, the outer not. The two halves are separated by what amounts to just a thin, waterproof membrane, and just a nick in that membrane allows some blood to leak out and join the flow of cells that form and replenish the intertubular horn. That blood is carried downward by the flow of the downward-growing tubules, and voila! -- when that blood contamination reaches ground level, the normally white tissue is suddenly pink.

    The ultimate question is, what would cause a rupture in the membrane so that blood can leak into the wall material? There are several possible causes, the most common being physical trauma – the hoof bumping hard against a rock is a good example. The resulting membrane tear is tiny and repairs itself quickly, just as do most body wounds, but in the meantime, the wee bit of blood released through such a break is now in the hoof growth system, and will be borne through it until it reaches the outside world – becoming the pink in the normally white area.

    Some measurable time is required for a tiny drop or two of blood to make that journey; since it travels at the same rate as the growth of the tubules, the pink that appears in the white line area at the bottom of the foot has been in the “system” for what can be several months. And so, if you see that pink, there is no need for panic.

    The second example is the problem of the hoof that grows lop-sided and when trimmed for balance always returns to its lop-sided form. Typically, such a hoof will have the inside wall grow measurably longer than the outside wall, or vice versa. There are several variations on the theme – most common are toe-in, toe-out, fetlock varus, fetlock valgus, all of which present as an unbalanced foot. You can painstakingly trim that foot to bring it to a perfect appearance, but before the next scheduled trim date, it will have reverted right back to its unbalanced state

    Unfortunately, trimming such a foot for perfection is an exercise in futility. Most such unbalance cases are caused by an angular deformity in one or more leg joints, usually slight enough that it isn’t noticed at the joint itself, yet serious enough that it displaces the other end of a related bone, taking with it all attached components.

    walt article horses leg front view

    The sketch illustrates the concept, using what are called varus and valgus conditions. To explain: note that the line from shoulder joint to fetlock joint is essentially straight and vertical. Note also that in a leg without serious angular deformity, that straight line continues through the fetlock and the pastern bones, right to the tip of the toe, as suggested in the “ideal leg” example. When the fetlock joint is deformed so that the pastern bones angle toward the outside the condition is called a fetlock valgus, and when angled toward the inside it’s called a fetlock varus.

    You can check your own horses’ fetlock alignments as follows: pick up the leg and balance the cannon bone in your hand. Wait until the horse relaxes his pastern so it hangs freely. Then mentally draw a line that bisects the cannon bone, hoping that it continues right on through the pastern and out the toe. That would be essentially an ideal alignment. If the imaginary bisecting line deviates inward or outward at the fetlock so that it does NOT perfectly bisect the pastern, you’ve got a valgus or varus leg in your hand.

    If you have such a deformed fetlock, don’t despair. One, no fetlock is absolutely perfect; two, it’s not hurting your horse; and three, there’s nothing you can do about it. But you can help by making sure his trim compensates for his deformity. Look at the hoof representations in the two right-hand examples, compared to the “ideal leg” example. You’ll note that in both valgus and varus feet, the hoof wall is longer on one side than the other. That’s because the horse always stands and moves in such a way that he’s as comfortable as possible, and he doesn’t care about how “pretty” his feet grow. The consequence is, one wall on the foot will receive more wear than the other, eventually resulting in an uneven wear pattern. In addition, the sole of his foot will, over time, assume an offset angle as well. Unfortunately, the longer wall is often trimmed down to “match” the shorter wall, with the heel trim adjusted accordingly, until we have a picture-book balanced foot -- but the problem is, to the horse it feels quite unnatural, maybe even painful; his natural tendency to stand and move always in the most comfortable manner will cause a return to uneven wall lengths in short order as he wears it back down.

    Ironically, you might look at that unbalanced foot and wonder how much it hurts the horse, while the horse is actually quite comfortable and happy with it.

    There is no “fix” for this natural unbalance once a horse is fully grown (some measures have been taken with intention to correct the condition in foals, with mixed results). What you can do is trim the foot so that the horse is most comfortable, which means leave the long side a tad longer than the short side when you’re done. Natural wear through movement will help keep it under control, you’ll touch it up again at the next trim, and meantime you’ll have a happy horse.

    The same concepts apply to toe-in and toe-out feet. The wear pattern you see on these feet happens because the deformity moves the functional toe tip toward 1:00 o’clock in one case or 11:00 o’clock in the other just through natural wear.

    One condition the trimmer needs to deal with in any of these deformity cases is wall flaring of the long side. It’s necessary to remove the flares to prevent the foot from developing some serious problems down the line. In addition, the trimmer needs to pay proper attention to the heel buttresses on a foot with an angular deformity; they will also wear unevenly, and forcing them to balanced appearance will cause the horse discomfort.

    Bottom line is the feet (usually the forefeet) of a horse with an angular leg-joint deformity should be trimmed to adapt to the imbalance and not just to present a pretty picture. They may not end up looking like a cover photo on Hoof Beautiful Magazine, but you’ll have a very happy horse on  your hands.

    Omega Horseshine stabilized ground flaxseed supplement helps promote strong solid hooves. Learn more about how Omega Horseshine can benefit your horse!

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  • When Traveling with an Older Horse

    Written By USRIDER

    He’s an old friend. A companion you’ve had for years with whom you have overcome challenges that have made you the team you are today. The aging process affects all horses, especially those traveling to shows and trail rides may face even more geriatric problems. USRider takes a look at how to keep your older equine partner safe and happy while on the road.

    What if my horse doesn’t act his age and still has that 6-year-old charm? Even so, traveling can cause wear to any animal and old age plays a big part of that. Along with joints that aren’t what they used to be, older horses fall victim to weaker kidneys, higher risk of colic and respiratory problems. One top priority, especially if you are headed to a destination hundreds of miles away, is that your first aid kit is well supplied and up to par with your horse’s needs. Be prepared.

    While traveling, it is important to keep your older horse on his normal feeding schedule. There is a higher risk of colic because the horse is standing in one place rather than moving around. To lower this risk significantly, stop every 2-3 hours to exercise and water your horse.

    Leg protection during travel is important for any horse. Geriatric horses call for extra protection due to a lack of balance and stability. It is important to wrap your horse’s legs with shipping boots that extend over the knees and hocks. This is not to be confused with leg wraps as they can be too tight and cause a lack of circulation and weakening of tendons. While no horse can see the brake lights of the person in front of you or those tight switchback turns, horses that are younger and more limber have a better ability to brace for a hard brake or tight turn, whereas an older horse may lose balance and fall. So take extra caution and double up on that space with the car in front of you.

    Hydration plays a big role in keeping your companion healthy while traveling. Without the proper intake of water, horses (not just older) can experience muscle tremors and weakness. This is due to a loss of potassium and other electrolytes. Like you, horses need these to keep up energy and standing in a trailer for a long period of time can immensely increase the need for water. Problem: You present him with a bucket of water and he turns up his nose (literally). It doesn’t have the same smell as the water at home, therefore is foreign. Solution(s): You can add salt to the feed to increase thirst; or, you can add Gatorade or a soda to make the water sweeter. Some people who travel with horses who add a sweetener to their water swear by this method. Their horses have become used to this type of water only when traveling making it a “comfort beverage”, if you will.

    A good key note to eliminate respiratory problems is to have your trailer well ventilated even in cooler temperatures. Horses can only cool themselves by sweating, thus demanding the further need for water. Ventilation is very important to keep fresh air coming in and pushing toxic air out.

    USRider – in its 13th year of operation – is the only company to provide emergency roadside assistance for horse owners. Through the Equestrian Motor Plan, USRider provides nationwide roadside assistance and towing services along with other travel-related benefits to its Members. The plan includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance, lockout services, and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, plus towing up to 100 miles.  As an additional service, USRider maintains a national database that includes emergency stabling, veterinary and farrier referrals.

    For more information about the USRider Equestrian Motor Plan, visit
    www.usrider.org online or call (800) 844-1409. For additional safety and travel tips, visit the Equine Travel Safety Area on the USRider website at www.usrider.org.

    Make sure to pack your Omega Fields supplements and treats when traveling with y our horse. When traveling with your older horse, check out our Omega Antioxidant- Senior Care supplement.

    https://www.omegafields.com/equine-products/omega-antioxidant-73.html

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