Horse Articles

  • Dr. Getty’s Tip: Calculating with PPM in Two Easy Steps

    Written By Dr. Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

    The trace mineral content of most feeds and supplements is provided in terms of parts per million (ppm). A ppm is the same as mg/kg (1 mg is a millionth of a kg).

    To do calculations, you need to convert lb or oz to kg using the following conversions:
    ·         1 lb equals 0.454 kg
    ·         1 oz equals 0.0284 kg

    Example #1: Your hay contains 140 ppm of iron.  How much iron is in 20 lbs of hay?
    Step 1: 20 lb X 0.454 kg/lb = 9.08 kg
    Step 2: 9.08 kg X 140 mg/kg = 1271 mg of iron

    Example #2: Your supplement contains 12 ppm of selenium in each ounce and you are feeding 2 ounces per day. How much selenium are you feeding?
    Step 1: 2 X .0284 kg/oz = 0.057 kg
    Step 2: 0.057 kg X 12 mg/kg = 0.68 mg of selenium

    Formulas to remember:
    ·         Convert lb or oz to kg: lb X 0.454 = kg; oz X 0.0284 = kg
    ·         Calculate to find mg: kg X ppm (or mg/kg) = mg

    About Dr. Juliet M. Getty

    Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements. Hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” on May 2, 2015. For more information, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

    Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.

    Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, offers a generous stock of free, useful information for the horseperson. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

  • Equine Back Pain

    Written By: K. Searcy, veterinary student, University of Minnesota

    Just as in people, back pain in horses is common and can be related to a variety of problems. Common complaints associated with back pain in horses include: restricted mobility; “cold-backed” behavior; refusing work; stiffness when making sharp turns; unwilling to change leads; loss of hind limb propulsion; and sourness with saddling or riding.

    If back pain appears to be an issue, owners should consider improper saddle fit, rider imbalance, sprains of the ligaments along the back, muscle injuries, vertebral fractures and bilateral lameness. To diagnose back pain, veterinarians can use a variety of methods, including direct palpation, radiographs, ultrasound, bone scans (scintigraphy), local anesthetics, physical examination, and thermography, to rule other sources of pain.

    Treatments for back pain can include:

    1. A combination of a muscle relaxant and an NSAID (phenylbutazone or flunixin meglumine)
    2. Regional injection of a steroid to decrease inflammation
    3. Dynamic stretches to engage and strengthen back muscles
    4. Shockwave therapy to improve circulation to the area and relieve muscle spasms
    5. Surgery to remove accessible bony eminences to alleviate pressure
    6. Acupuncture and/or chiropractic therapies to help with the pain and muscle spasms
    7. Aqua treadmill therapy to strengthen the back musculature
    8. Saddle fit adjustments
    9. Modified warm ups prior to exercise

    Permission granted for reprint of article from University of MN Extension. To read more articles from U of M Extension please visit their A to Z library >>>

    http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse/a-to-z/

  • Arthritis in the knee

    Written By: Lauren Bullock, senior veterinary student, University of Minnesota
    Article permission from University of Minnesota Extension http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse/a-to-z/

    A joint is composed of 3 parts: the cartilage, the synovial membrane, and the synovial fluid.

    If you have ever been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease, you understand what a horse goes through when diagnosed with arthritis. Arthritis is caused by wear and tear damage that hasn't been repaired. A joint is composed of 3 parts: the cartilage, the synovial membrane, and the synovial fluid. Cartilage covers the ends of the bones and is mainly used as a shock absorber. Cartilage lacks nerves. However, as the cartilage is destroyed, the underlying bone is exposed. Pain is due to the pressure on the nerves in the bone as well as the inflammatory agents found in the synovial fluid and damaged cartilage. Unfortunately, these inflammatory agents create more cartilage damage, leading to a vicious cycle.

    Treatment of damaged cartilage is difficult and often impossible in both horses and humans. This means osteoarthritis will continue to progress over time. Management of arthritis involves managing the pain and optimizing joint health. This will vary by the joint(s) affected and by the use of the horse. Your veterinarian may prescribe a combination of joint protectants (glucosamine, chondroitin), pain relief (phenylbutazone, firocoxib), and/or joint injections (corticosteroids, hyaluronan). It is also good to evaluate the need for weight loss, farrier work, altering exercise levels, and rehabilitation programs. These programs may vary by time of year and how your horse responds so it is good to have your horse re-evaluated on a regular basis.

    To read more articles from University of Minnesota Extension please visit >>

    http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse/health/arthritis-in-the-knee/

  • Trailer Preparation Tips for Travel Season

    Written By USRider

    While many of us are currently buried up to our noses in snow, travel season is just around the corner. Before the start of this season, it is critically important for many equine enthusiasts to perform basic, yet essential, maintenance on their trailers. USRider reminds equestrians to invest time doing routine preventive trailer maintenance. This will be time well spent because trailers will be in optimal shape to provide safe travel for precious cargo.

    Despite the fact that a good roadside assistance program is something every horse owner should have, the thought of having to use it is never close by. USRider’s mission is to continually educate horse owners about trailer safety as well as keeping you and your equine partner safe on the road.

    On its website, USRider has carefully developed the Equine TRAVEL SAFETY Area to be a resource with helpful and practical topics – all free and available to members and non-members alike. Horse owners can put these tips to work and greatly reduce the chances of being stranded on the side of the road.

    Some helpful tips from USRider:

    1. Remove and inspect all wheels and hubs or brake drums.
    2. Inspect suspension for wear.
    3. Check tightness of hanger bolt, shackle bolt and U-bolt nuts per recommended torque values.
    4. Check brake linings, brake drums and armature faces for excessive wear or scoring.
    5. Check brake magnetic coil with an ohmmeter. The magnetic coil should check 3.2 ohms (+/- 0.3ohms). If shorted or out of tolerance, replace.
    6. Lubricate all brake moving parts, using a high temperature brake lubricant.
    7. Remove any rust from braking surface and armature surface of drums.
    8. Inspect oil or grease seals for wear or nicks. Replace if necessary.
    9. Inspect and grease wheel bearings.

    In addition to these recommendations, USRider advises horse owners to check all trailer tires, (including spares) for signs of dry rot, correct air pressure, faulty air valves, uneven tire wear, overall tire wear and damage. Invest in a high-quality air pressure gauge – learn how to use it - and inspect tire pressure before each trip. Always replace tires if worn or damaged. In addition, tires should be replaced every three to five years regardless of mileage. When replacing tires, always replace the valve stems. Only high quality tires specifically designed and rated for trailers should be used – never use retread or automobile tires on a horse trailer. Think of it this way: Quality tires are like fine leather shoes, they only hurt once – when you pay for them.

    It is also important to service the wheel bearings annually, or every 12,000 miles, regardless of mileage, due to moisture build-up. Keep a spare set of wheel bearings in your trailer in case of premature failure. Be sure to inspect trailer wiring and lighting; inspect door latches and grease the doors; inspect the floor (be sure to remove any rubber mats so the entire floor can be examined); and inspect and lubricate mechanical moving parts, such as the hitch and suspension parts. If the trailer has been sitting for a while, check for wasp nests, spider webs and any other creatures that may have made a new home.

    USRider advises horse owners to use ICE – In Case of Emergency. This important initiative was designed to aid emergency responders in identifying victims and determining who needs to be notified. Implementing ICE is easy. Program your emergency contact information into your cellular phone and designate it with the acronym ICE.

    Horse owners should also ensure that their emergency contact information is stored in their tow vehicle. To facilitate this, USRider has developed an In Case of Emergency form and posted it online for horse owners to print. Simply fill in the blanks and store the paper in the tow vehicle as well as in the trailer. Additional recommendations, as well as a Power of Attorney form, are posted on the USRider website.

    USRider – in its 14th 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 Omega-3 treats when traveling>>

    https://www.omegafields.com/equine-products.html

  • Omega Fields Interview During CHA Spot on Horses in the Morning Show

    http://www.horsesinthemorning.com/hitm-for-12-16-2014-by-certified-horsemanship-assoc-omega-fields-balance-rhythm-with-janet-young-cheryl-rohnke-kronsberg/

  • 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!

    https://www.omegafields.com/equine-products/omega-horseshine-25.html

  • 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

  • Preparing for Winter

    Written By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

    Horses enjoy cold weather and the relaxation that winter brings, but it takes more than hay to keep them healthy during the colder months. Optimal nutritional planning will help them enjoy the season and emerge in good condition when spring arrives.

    Hay is not enough

    Hay cannot compare in nutritive value to fresh grass. Once grass is cut, dried, and stored, it begins to lose vitamins C, D and E, beta carotene (for vitamin A production), and omega-3 fatty acids. Normally, your horse produces vitamin D when he is exposed to sunlight. But spending more time indoors, combined with shorter daylight hours, can induce a vitamin D deficiency that leaves bones, joints, and muscles unprotected. Therefore, a vitamin supplement, along with ground flaxseed (to provide omega 3s), will fill in the nutritional gaps created by hay-only diets.

    Consider alfalfa

    Contrary to popular opinion, alfalfa it is not higher in sugar than grass hay. It is high in protein, but this is a good thing. At a moderate intake (approximately 10 to 30 percent of the total hay ration), it boosts the overall protein quality of the diet, keeping your horse’s muscles, joints, feet, skin, hair, and bones fed, and protecting his blood and immune function. Alfalfa also serves as a stomach buffer against developing an ulcer, a common occurrence when a horse is stalled during the winter after being used to full-time turnout.

    Offer hay free-choice

    Cold weather increases the metabolic rate, which means that horses need to burn more calories to maintain a normal internal body temperature and a consistent weight. When you provide hay free-choice, you will notice that your horse naturally consumes more to help stay warm and account for his higher energy need. Free-choice is always best (regardless of the season or condition of your horse) because it allows your horse to self-regulate his intake and eat only what his body needs. Consider testing your hay; choose hay with low sugar and starch levels for the insulin resistant, laminitic, or overweight horse.

    For more calories, add concentrates

    For many horses, hay will not provide enough calories to maintain normal body condition.  A high fat commercial feed is fine for healthy horses. For the easy keeper or insulin-resistant horse, avoid sweet feeds and those that contain oats or corn. Beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, or low starch commercial feeds are excellent alternatives. Fatty feeds such as rice bran, ground flaxseed, or chia seeds offer the most concentrated source of calories. Avoid corn or soybean oils, since they promote inflammation due to their high omega-6 fatty acid content.

    Older horses need special attention

    Your older horse may need a joint supplement along with vitamin C to help produce collagen (the protein found in bones and joints), since less vitamin C is produced by the body as horses age.

    For the aged hard keeper (or any hard keeper, for that matter), be sure there is no competition from more aggressive horses for hay. Feed a senior feed, along with added ground flaxseed. And be sure to check your horse’s teeth. Poor dental health is the number one reason for weight loss in older horses.

    Other tips

    • Use a prebiotic (fermentation product, not live microbes) or a potent probiotic (one that contains billions – at least 109 – colony forming units, or C.F.U.s) to keep the hindgut microbial population healthy.

    • When feeding bran mashes, or any added feed, feed it every day. Consistency will prevent colic. Keep in mind, however, that bran (rice or wheat are most common) is very high in phosphorus in relation to calcium. Therefore, use a commercial product with added calcium or feed alfalfa to counteract the elevated phosphorus content.

    • Provide fresh, temperate water. Never rely on snow to meet your horse’s water needs. Water should be kept at a palatable temperature to encourage drinking and prevent dehydration.

    • Remember to provide salt. Salt blocks, free choice granulated salt, or adding two tablespoons of table salt to your horse’s meals per day (divided between meals) will keep his body in proper water balance.

    Permission to reprint this article  is granted, provided by Dr. Getty.

    Dr. Getty provides a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.gettyequinenutrition.com. Sign up for her informative, free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. And for the growing community of horse owners and managers who allow their horses free choice forage feeding, Dr. Getty has set up a special forum as a place for support, celebrations, congratulations, and idea sharing. Share your experiences at jmgetty.blogspot.com. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

    Learn  more about Omega Horseshine and how this Omega-3 supplement will be a great addition to your horses daily ration >>>https://www.omegafields.com/equine-products/omega-horseshine-26.html

  • Forward Foot Syndrome

    Written By Walt Friedrich

    Forward Foot Syndrome (FFS) is a common hoof condition that can and does strike all breeds, shod or barefoot. It's all too prevalent, it leads to serious problems, and for the sake of our horses' comfort, we should know how to recognize and prevent or fix it.

    Here are photos to illustrate. First, the beautiful forefoot of a deceased feral horse. It shows most of what we like to see on a hoof:

    walt 1
    Circular shape
    Heels well-separated
    Frog large and robust
    Central Sulcus wide and shallow
    Bars vertical and flanking the commissures
    Quarters relief
    Mustang roll
    Toe rocker

    This foot was trimmed only by Mother Nature. It, together with its three companions, allowed its owner to move twenty or more miles, every day, all year long, rarely suffering any damage, and never wearing out. Feet like this allowed this horse to tackle any terrain on which he found himself, in any weather. He was what we’d call a “rock crusher”.

    walt 2

    In the center is the forefoot of a living horse that has been trimmed regularly with just standard trimming tools – hoof pick, hoof knife, rasp, and nipper. Note the striking similarity to the feral hoof. This indicates that with proper care and trimming, our horses’ feet can closely emulate those of a feral’s, and be capable of almost equal functionality.

    walt 3

    In contrast, to the right is the forefoot of a Forward Foot Syndrome hoof. Note its characteristics:
    Foot shape more oval than round
    Toe stretched forward
    Heels contracted
    Breakover at the toe tip
    Frog long and narrow
    Central sulcus greatly contracted, forming just a crack
    Bars spread out, laid over
    No mustang roll
    Severe wall flaring

    The first thing we need to know about FFS is that it is probably the most common and insidious problem for domestics' hooves. It sneaks up on our horses over time – yet not all horses are doomed to develop FFS. So how does a horse, born with feet destined to look and perform like a healthy feral foot, end up with FFS feet, always tender-footed, and always in some pain? Well, the cause is simply his lifestyle. An afflicted horse is typically underexercised, too fat, and not trimmed frequently enough or properly.

    Feral hooves, by contrast, are in almost constant motion, receiving continuous natural trimming from the terrain. The result is the natural foot condition of a horse that lives the life into which he has evolved. Most of us can’t do much about our domestic horse’s home terrain – it is what it is – but we can and should make sure he gets plenty movement, preferably on varied terrain. We can do that by riding him frequently, and we can ensure he gets the most possible movement at home by allowing him maximum turnout. We can’t overstress the simple secret of healthy feet – movement, movement, movement.

    That leaves us with the trim.

    What does a good trim look like? Well, a good model is the feral horse foot. It’s not that our domestics' feet should look just like feral horses' – even the best rarely do -- but feral horses' feet don't suffer from FFS, and there are lessons to be learned from them. Feral horses are well-exercised, certainly not too fat, and they have functionally excellent, natural trims.

    Most of us are diligent about getting our horses' hooves trimmed.
    Unfortunately, diligence alone won't cut it. Consider a foot that starts out
    in good condition but then starts receiving an improper trim. It may take
    months before we notice it's developed FFS; when we finally see it, we scratch our heads and ask ourselves, "How could this have happened? He’s always had such great feet." Well, it's sneaky, it takes time to develop, and we just don't notice it happening. The irony is that we may have been diligent, paid out plenty in farrier fees or sore backs in our efforts to ensure good feet, yet there we see FFS, while all that was needed to prevent it was to observe a few critical aspects of the trim itself.

    Barring unrelated complications, the prevention is as straightforward as the fix. The fixing process involves numerous proper trims over time, but that's OK – the feet will be better at each trim than they were at the previous trim, and we'll get there step-by-step. We've just got to take that first step. You know the Oriental proverb about how the longest journey starts.

    What follows are the general trim steps specifically intended to prevent or correct FFS in a barefoot hoof. It is not intended to be a how-to on barefoot trimming. It is assumed that a knowledgeable and experienced barefoot trimmer will perform the actual trim, or at least will be available for guidance. It is also assumed that, other than FFS, the hooves are healthy and in virtually normal condition.

    First, during the repair phase, trim frequently. A three week cycle is a good compromise between overworking your back or pocketbook and running the danger of letting hoof growth get away from you.

    Second, be observant. At each trim study the feet on the ground before you
    pick one up. Make a mental note about what doesn't look quite right so that
    you're sure to address it when you have hoof in hand. Continue the study
    when you pick up the foot: using your pick, clean off the bottom thoroughly, including the commissures; remove any loose flaky sole that comes off readily, so you can see all foot and no dirt. Now look to determine the cause of any anomalies you saw before picking up, and note the condition of the sole components.

    Finally, go to the trim. Address any specific problems that you spotted during your evaluation phase, then give the fores the 1-2-3 treatment. That is:
    • 1) Trim the walls -- you’ll want wall height to be very close to live sole plane; bring that long toe back -- you can safely take it back as far as the white line, if necessary; rocker the toe and apply quarters relief (not on shod hoof); address any flaring by flat-rasping the outer layer of wall at the flare (using the fine side of your rasp); this will usually require several trim cycles.
    • 2) We need short heels – take the buttresses down to perhaps a quarter-inch above live sole plane in the Seats of Corn; if the bars are making initial ground contact, shave them back a bit using your hoof knife – but don’t remove them.
    • 3) rocker the toe as needed to allow proper breakover, and apply a mustang roll (not on shod hoof).

    And that’s about all there is to it!

    Finally, some pertinent comments:

    - While every step here is important, pay special attention to the quarters relief. When applied, it will mean that the quarters are slightly above ground contact until the foot is fully weight-loaded. This allows the foot to expand and contract laterally as he walks – known as “hoof mechanism”.

    - Hinds don't get a toe rocker, but do get the mustang roll, and may need a
    vertical cutback at the toe if the toe wall has grown too long out front.

    -Don't trim the toe callus on any foot.

    -You may need to trim the bars slightly if they’re in ground contact and you're trimming to correct a case of FFS, but note that when you're trimming to maintain a good foot, the bars should rarely, if ever, need much attention. That’s because they naturally wear well when more upright, as they should be to do their job. If they’re curvy and laid over toward the outside of the hoof, they are pinching the live sole under them, which is painful. Fix it by carefully shaving off thin layers of the flattened bar until you see dirt trapped under it – you’ve reached the sole.

    -Normally, the frogs don't need trimming, but if they're in trouble, this is an excellent time to deal with it. Clean them up well, removing loose material. If thrushy, spray them with colloidal silver – you’ll probably need to repeat the frog treatment several times a week for a week or two or until the signs of thrush are gone.

    - The steps outlined above are part of the trim method known as the LIM Trim – stands for Less Is More. The essence of the LIM trim is that you do no more than the hoof calls for. You bring the heels back to near the frog buttress, put the breakover far enough underneath so that the foot can start relocating it naturally, and balance the foot according to the live sole plane. In so doing, you're readying the hooves for the forces that act upon them while the horse moves. This trim encourages the heels to expand rather than contract, the bars to become straight rather than curved, and the frog to regain health and bulk up to make initial ground contact.

    If your horse is already afflicted with FFS, you can fix it, over time, by
    applying these principles. If your horse does not suffer from FFS, he's
    probably getting a trim similar in principle to the above - lucky horse. Once FFS is a fact with your horse, it may take a little time to bring those hooves back to health, but you can do it. It's not difficult, but you must be diligent – do frequent trims and ALWAYS follow all three steps. Take pictures so you can see your progress - you may even want to frame them, you'll eventually feel so good about it.

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  • Pasture Management

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    Equine Foraging Behavior: Does it matter to you?

    The best environments for horses are those that most closely mimic their natural state. Grazing fresh pasture and continual turn out offer the horse freedom of movement, mental stimulation, and natural feeding behavior. Continuous intake of smaller meals fits with the horse’s digestive physiology, compared to meal feeding witnessed in many confinement systems. Economically, grazing offers a relatively cheaper method to provide nutrients for the horse when compared to buying harvested forages and feeds. When combining adequate acreage with good pasture management, grazing can provide the majority, if not all, of most horse’s nutrient requirements. In fact, many horses can easily consume well over their needed caloric intake and become quite fleshy while grazing good pasture. But what entails “good pasture”? How many acres does it take to meet the nutritional needs of a horse? And what does good pasture management entail? To answer these questions, we first must address the way in which horses make foraging choices.
    forb roughs and lawns sward
    In order to understand pasture management, it is important to get on grasp on the natural behavior and foraging patterns of the horse. Equine foraging patterns are often misunderstood, and can cause mismanagement of pastures, or even worse, a lack of any management technique at all. It is important that the horse owner identifies which foraging patterns and thus management system are most applicable to their scenario. Grazing patterns of free-ranging horses versus pastured or restricted grazing horses differ greatly. For example, information gathered on feeding behavior in feral horses which routinely travel multiple miles per day will differ compared to horses which are confined to either large pastures or small paddocks.

    Horses which are confined to traditional pastures prefer to graze in a pattern that is typically referred to as roughs and lawns, or “patch grazing.” When looking at a typical pasture that is not intensely managed, you will see some areas where the foliage is closely cropped to the ground, “the lawns”, and other areas which appear to be much longer in growth, “the roughs”. To a casual observer, it may appear that the pasture contains adequate forage, yet the horses confined therein may actually be losing body condition due to an inadequate intake of nutrients. This is all too common in pastures with little to no management. Horses will continue to graze these lawn areas, to the point of that the vegetation has lost the ability to recover and to regrow. So while an owner may think a pasture has plenty of grass available, it may not from the horse’s perspective.

    This behavior, while it may not seem rational to a human, does match with the overall physiology of the horse. Shorter grasses are less mature and thus have a higher nutritive value. They have a higher digestibility, more protein and may even be higher in some vitamins and minerals. Despite the fact that more overall feed may be available to the horse in areas with taller, more mature plants, a horse will seek out these shorter, more nutritious plants. This selective grazing pattern may be an evolutionary advantage for this hind gut fermenting species, which need a higher protein quality than do ruminants. Now, this is not all that dissimilar to the foraging patterns of other large herbivores, but horses seem to take it to an extreme. Horses with their incisors, are much more capable of grazing grasses closer to the ground and can intensify this selection pressure on short grasses.

    But do horses actually make foraging choices based on their actual nutrient needs? In a study where horses were given choices between different grass heights which all met protein requirements, the horses selected the grasses which would provide overall greater intake. Essentially one bite of taller grass resulted in more ingested feed and could allow for faster ingestion of energy. However, if the quality of the vegetation differed, horses began to make rather interesting choices. When protein quality lowered, so that it was only at or below their requirements, horses shifted to foraging choices that would supply their protein requirement, but lowered their overall energy intake. As maturity increased in the taller swards, this preference for shorter swards of higher nutrient content, but less overall available forage, increased. It appeared that horses were able to forage selectively to meet specific needs. If we think about this physiologically, it makes sense. Horses can mobilize fat stores to supply energy needs, but need to ingest specific amino acids in order to synthesize body proteins. Thus protein intake may be a higher priority than overall energy intake.

    Not only do horses make grazing choices according to feed selection, but also to avoid grazing near feces. Horses which are confined to pastures typically exhibit what is known as latrine behavior, or repeatedly using the same areas for defecation. The vegetation in these areas grows quite tall as the horse refuses to use these areas for foraging. This behavior may confer the advantage of prevention of parasite infestation, as most infective worm larvae are found within 1 meter of fecal piles. This combined avoidance of both tall grass and grazing near feces is what creates the roughs, which may represent almost 50% of a pasture. Unfortunately, an owner cannot choose a part of the pasture to create a latrine area. The initial selection of a latrine areas does not appear to be due to any difference in vegetative species or palatability, rather, it is simply due to avoidance of grazing near fecal material. In comparison, free ranging horses and ponies simply defecate where they happen to be grazing and then merely continue walking forward. Presumably, this is because there is enough grazing area available to avoid grazing near feces. In the study mentioned above, there was also low animal density, between about 6.5 acres to 19 acres per animal. These animals were also grazing in rather poor nutritive value areas, thus their feeding decisions may have had more to do with nutritive decisions or pressures, than grazing near eliminative areas. Therefore, if you are fortunate enough to have extremely large pastures or ranges, latrine behavior may not be a concern for you. Alternatively, when horses are presented with small paddocks with uniform grass height, they also do not show any specific latrine behavior, but rather defecate throughout the area rather homogenously. This allows a much more uniform distribution of foraging.

    As we continue to learn more about the foraging patterns and the choices horses make while grazing, we can make better choices for pasture management. To maximize production of our pastures we need to understand the choices horses make, and how we can manipulate those choices to our advantage. Next month we will provide specific suggestions for forage types, stocking density, manure management and more, all based on the basic physiology and behavior of the horse.

     

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