Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Saddle fitting - the inside story

Saddle fitters blog

Saddle Recommendation for Arabee and Nicole
Next in the series of saddle recommendations are Nicole and her horse Arabee (you can follow their adventures on Nicole's blog: Nicole is doing endurance and wants to find a saddle that will fit better than the one she has now:

As you can see, the saddle's sitting pommel-high; some of that is due to the fact that the saddle's too far forward (I'd like to see it about 3 fingers' width further back, but given Arabee's conformation, I'd bet most saddles tend to slide forward). Another reason it's pommel-high is that the tree is too narrow. In the next photo, I've outlined the angle of the tree in green, and the angle of Arabee's back in red. You can see they don't match up.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Biotin: Does it Work? - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
March 01 2008, Article # 7559

Here's what we know about the efficacy of this popular hoof supplement

Conditions such as chronic laminitis, cracked hooves, or dry, brittle feet incapable of holding shoes are a common and time-consuming problem for owners, trainers, and veterinarians. Biotin is a popular nutritional supplement administered to horses to promote and maintain the growth of healthy hooves and coats. But does it work?

"In the equine world, biotin is revisited every few years," explains Ray Geor, BVSc, PhD, an equine nutritionist, the Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of Agriculture, and director of research at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. "It is rather frustrating because no new information is available to help owners decide whether or not they should be supplementing with biotin."

In this article The Horse presents an in-depth look at the current status of biotin supplementation in horses.

Biotin Basics

Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that plays an important role as an enzymatic cofactor in metabolism, meaning it is an inorganic complement to the enzyme reaction involved in metabolism. Horses, humans, and other mammals are incapable of synthesizing biotin. This vitamin must be obtained either through the diet or via the absorption of biotin that is synthesized by intestinal bacteria.


Equestrian culture may be fading into the sunset

LA Times

Urban sprawl has been encroaching on the equestrian lifestyle for decades, but with a string of stables closing across Southern California, horse lovers say the threat seems more dire than ever.
By Jessica Garrison

January 26, 2009

As the horse named Sombrero strained up a hill above Hansen Dam, Mary Benson leaned forward over his neck and surveyed the stunning landscape of sun-dappled oaks and trickling mountain streams.

But the view broke her heart: A subdivision where horse trails used to be. Condos and houses that used to have stables behind them. One sign after another of the disappearing horse culture in her neighborhood.

"We are losing an irreplaceable piece of the American culture . . . and the Western heritage," Benson said.

The problem isn't confined to the northeast San Fernando Valley. A flurry of recent stable closures has generated talk where equestrians gather about whether the Southern California horse culture can survive the sprawl of suburbia and its relentless appetite for onetime ranch land.

In December, a collection of ramshackle stalls near the city of Industry abruptly shut down, forcing out a small group of Mexican immigrants who had boarded their horses there at low cost.

The stables had been a gathering place for vaqueros from Zacatecas and Guerrero, and the closure prompted some of the families to give up their horses altogether. The loss follows the disappearance of many other stables along the San Gabriel River watershed.

Weeks later, officials in Orange County announced they might turn the county's Fairgrounds Equestrian Center into a parking lot -- the latest of many Orange County casualties. "There used to be stables all up and down the Santa Ana River, more than 20," said Jim Meyer of the advocacy group Trails4All. "Now there are two left . . . and one of them is up for sale."

The picture in other urban-adjacent areas around the state is similar.

Earlier this month, the Cevalo Riding Academy in San Jose closed its doors -- the land prized for homes over equines even in this post-bubble environment.

Other stables giving way to homes or parking lots include the Wild Horse Valley Ranch in Napa, the equestrian showgrounds at the state fair in Sacramento and San Diego's famed Miramar Stables, said Deb Balliet of the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, an advocacy group based in Lexington, Ky.

It's happening all over the country, but California "is being really hard hit," Balliet said.

To be sure, equestrians have been complaining about threats to their lifestyle almost as long as Southern Californians have been moaning about traffic.

A 1961 article in The Times quoted rider D.C. McCarthy declaring that the "land is simply too valuable for uses such as this." He predicted that horses in Los Angeles would soon go the way of the Valley's once-predominant citrus groves.

That hasn't quite happened. But there are certainly fewer stables in the region than there were in the 1960s.

McCarthy, for example, talked to a reporter as he rode out of a stable at 3205 Los Feliz Blvd., near Griffith Park, an address that now holds luxury apartment buildings.

Some horse owners say they fear more than just the disappearance of stables.

"This is a dying phenomenon," said Barbara Blanco, a Loyola law professor and amateur horsewoman. "I am convinced we are the last generation that will keep horses in our yards."

Horses are "increasingly a very expensive luxury," she said.

Other horse owners say that prediction may be a bit dire -- there are still dozens of stables and thousands of horses in Southern California, although precise numbers are difficult to come by. (The city of Los Angeles is among the only jurisdictions to register horses; it has a record of 1,793 -- an increase over last year, but one that officials attribute not necessarily to more equines but to better outreach to get owners to fill out paperwork.)

Still, many say it is time for government to do more to preserve horse keeping.

Kristene McGovern, a board member with the Equestrian Coalition of Orange County, said her group wants county officials to help protect stables on public land.

In the San Fernando Valley, Benson and others have formed an advocacy group, the Los Angeles Horse Council, to argue for zoning and other changes that could benefit horse owners.

The third-generation horse owner estimates that more than 50 stables in Lake View Terrace, Sylmar and Sun Valley have closed in the last decade.

That should be of concern even to those who wouldn't dream of climbing onto a horse's back, she said.

According to Benson, the vanishing of horses is a sign that "we are separated from the land. . . . People are afraid of the dirt. They are afraid of the dark. They have no sense of their place in the natural world."

Benson thinks there are a few things government could do to help horses and their owners. One item on her wish list is changing property-tax rules so that horse keeping could be considered an agricultural use (it is currently a commercial use in most instances), allowing horse operators to qualify for significant tax benefits.

The group also wants to find ways to prevent horse property from being rezoned for commercial uses, making it more difficult for stable owners to sell their land for shopping centers or parking lots. But that move is likely to be controversial because it could hurt property values.

The group has met with a handful of local elected officials to press its case, including Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel and state Sen. Alex Padilla.

Past efforts at preventing zoning changes have met with little success.

Even as she throws herself into equine activism, Benson sounds fatalistic. As her horse picked his way through Little Tujunga Wash on a recent morning, she flicked her heels against his flanks, pulled on the reins with her left hand and directed the animal toward where the wash passed under whizzing cars on the Foothill Freeway.

With her long gray hair and steely gaze, Benson sat on her horse with a firm authority over the animal -- even if she can't control what happens to his environment.

"I grew up riding these trails," Benson said. But when she was young, she said, the trails stretched farther and the whole community had horses and would ride them together.

Although her daughter loves to ride, her husband and son don't. So now when Benson rides, she often rides alone.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shoeing for the job


Book Excerpt: Shoeing for the Job

by: Heather Smith Thomas
January 26 2009, Article # 13508

There are many kinds of horseshoes; try to select shoes well suited to your horse's work. While a horse with a problem may need a farrier to create a special shoe, many horses get along fine with factory-made shoes.

Shoes should always be as light as is practical, taking into consideration the wear demanded of them, so that they interfere as little as possible with the normal flight of the horse's foot. Weight, no matter how it's added to the foot, tends to reduce speed and agility. Added weight can also make a minor deviation in foot flight more noticeable.

The normal flight of the foot is a relatively straightforward line. No horse's foot moves perfectly straight, but good leg conformation creates the most straightforward motion with the least wasted effort and movement. Any significant deviation from normal foot flight takes the form of an arc--either to the outside or inside of this relatively straight line. Adding weight to the foot in the form of a shoe will increase the arc because of the additional swing it makes. Ordinary shoeing thus accentuates a horse's foot flight and any gait defect.

Most horses never hit themselves when running barefoot (with short, properly worn hooves) but some will forge or interfere when shod due to the added weight of the shoe. A horse that tends to interfere (strike one front limb against the other, or one hind limb against the other hind) or forge (strike a front heel or sole with the hind toe) does so even worse when shod. The weight makes the horse's strides slightly longer and the arcs of foot flight even more pronounced. Thus, he must be carefully (correctively) shod to prevent these problems.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Insulin resistance in Endurance Horses

Karen's Blog

I’m going to start riding Rocky again more regularly now that his feet have grown out and he’s sound again. How wonderful is that? He had a slight episode of laminitis last year. His feet fully recovered. He’s considered to be insulin resistant so I had to make a few changes with how I manage his feeding program.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Pulse Criteria the Australian Way - Jay Randle

Hi All

I've had an enquiry about something that was written in the Quilty article in the Endurance News, so I thought I'd let everyone out there know, as someone else may be wondering the same thing.

I was asked why we wanted our horses' pulserates to be brought down so low before presenting to the P&R bays?

There are a couple of reasons for this.......

The pulse criteria for rides in Australia is 55 bpm for the first phase of a ride, and 60bpm for all subsequent phases. Presentation to the P&R bays must be made within 30 minutes of arrival at the ride base, however your riding time stops the moment you arrive at the ride base. There is only ONE opportunity to present to the P&R! If you are over the criteria, you are eliminated from the ride at that point. FEI rides allow up to 64bpm, within 20 minutes, and the opportunity to present twice within that time frame, however the Quilty is not an FEI ride.

So, unless the rider is running at the front of the field, great care is taken to make sure that the horse is well within the pulse criteria. There is no time advantage to presenting early, but there is a huge penalty if your pulse rate is over criteria.

The second reason has to do with our logbooks. It is a source of pride for most riders to present a logbook with the lowest possible pulse rates listed in it. If it takes a few more minutes to get that pulse down another 4-6 beats, then that's what we'll do. If the horse is for sale, the lowest possible pulse rates in the logbook are an advantage, however even if the horse is not for sale most riders here are still concerned about getting a low pulse written into the logbook!

For horses that are just completing the ride, with no intention of being in the *fast* group, then we do tend to take our time and make sure the pulse criteria is well and truly met. However if I had a horse that was running at the front of the field, I would approach the pulse criteria requirement slightly differently.

There is generally a small window of time as a fast-running horse arrives, when the pulse will drop dramatically (within 1-2 minutes), before starting to rise again. If my horse is in a position to win or place in a ride, this window becomes very important, and we will get the horse to the P&R bays immediately. Again, however, it can be a bit of a crap shoot with regard to the fact that we only have one chance to present!

Hope that this explanation clears the matter up somewhat.

Best regards

Jay Randle

May the horse be with you.....

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Joint Injections: A Good Idea?

Original Article -

by: Sushil Dulai Wenholz
May 01 2004

If you've been around horses, particularly performance horses, for even a short while, you've probably met someone who's had a horse's joints injected. The procedure--which involves injecting medication directly into the joint to combat such problems as synovitis, osteoarthritis, and arthrosis--is now commonplace. Despite prominent use and continuing research, though, disagreement and debate remain, particularly regarding the effectiveness and safety of the products used and the method of treatment. In this article, we'll outline the primary pro and con points currently being made in regard to joint injections. Certain joint injections, such as nerve blocks, can also be used for diagnostic purposes, but in this article we'll focus on therapeutic uses.

An Overview

There are three main categories of medication currently used in joint (intra-articular) injections--hyaluronic acid (HA, also known as sodium hyaluronate), polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (PSGAG), and corticosteroids (also called cortisone or steroid). At the most basic level, these medications aim to decrease inflammation in a damaged or diseased joint, explains Elizabeth Davidson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, an assistant professor of equine sports medicine at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.

By reducing inflammation, the medications also relieve heat and pain, allowing the horse to feel and perform better. In addition, since inflammation releases substances that damage cartilage, eliminating the inflammation helps to slow or even stop the cartilage degeneration that's at the heart of many joint diseases.


There are three primary corticosteroids used for intra-articular injections in horses, each with potent anti-inflammatory properties, but with differing durations of effectiveness. Here's an overview:

Methylprednisolone acetate (Depo-Medrol)--Longest-lasting of the three; typically used in low-motion joints for degenerative joint disease. Colorado State University (CSU) research has shown that this drug does have negative effects on articular cartilage.

Triamcinolone acetate (Vetalog)
--Moderate duration of effectiveness; used in high-motion joints at low dosages. Work at the CSU Orthopaedic Research Laboratory showed no negative effects and an increase in the synthesis of essential articular cartilage elements. Triamcinolone acetate might be chondroprotective (protective of the cartilage).

Betamethasone phosphate (Betavet Soluspan, Celestone)--Shortest-acting of the three; used to reduce synovitis and joint inflammation; a CSU study uncovered no deleterious side effects of the drug.--Sushil Dulai Wenholz

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