Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coping With Fear While Riding - Full Article

by Jane Savoie
Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2010

I often hear from horseback riders that they have irrational fears about being out of control or getting hurt when riding. The fear seems irrational because they've never actually had an accident or injury. So they wonder where the fear comes from.

For what it's worth, I used to have "irrational fears" about flying. It was so bad that I would only do clinics within driving distance. It turns out that the fear of flying was just a convenient "hook" to hang stuff on. It allowed me to express fear, anger, or even grief.

Apparently, my mind thought that fear of flying was an acceptable way to express those emotions. After all, no one was going to tell me I was crazy to be afraid to fly. After all, how weird is it to go hurtling through the air in a huge cylinder? What holds that thing up anyhow?

By the same token, no one is going to say you're crazy to be afraid of being out of control on a horse. After all, horses significantly outweigh you. Plus they're reactive creatures of flight. They don't operate "logically".

So hanging other fears, anger, or grief on something like flying in an airplane, heights, or bolting horses is something we can justify to ourselves. No one would ever say we were "crazy" to be afraid of those things.

So here are two quick tips to help you cope with irrational fear while horseback riding:

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Homemade Horse Care Remedies - Full Article

It's said they can heal injuries, repel flies and make your horse’s coat glossy. But are homemade remedies reliable--or are they recipes for disaster? We’ll look at some homemade horse care remedies and see how effective they are.

By Debbie Moors and Karen E.N. Hayes, DVM, MS

You've tried everything to treat your horse's case of scratches. But he's still sore--and you're frustrated. A friend mentions a home remedy she's used with success, and you're tempted. It can't hurt, right?

It may not. It may even bring your horse relief. But it could also make the symptoms worse and create a whole new set of problems. We'll take a look at 10 horse care situations where homemade remedies were used, and Horse & Rider contributing editor and veterinarian Karen Hayes will explain why the remedy might be effective (or not) and offer some options and advice for treatment. We'll also look at remedies that have been used for generations ("Tried and True," below), and offer some words of warning for common horse treatments ("Proceed with Caution," below). And, just for a glimpse at how far horse care has come, we'll dust off some of the old (and outrageous) remedies horsemen cooked up as cures ("Don't Try This at Home,"below).

As always, check with your vet for diagnosis and treatment, and ask her before trying any homemade remedy.

Problem: Sarah's 16-year-old Quarter Horse, Wisk, isn't breaking a sweat, even in the dead heat of summer. The vet says he has anhidrosis, a condition characterized by a horse's inability to sweat in response to exercise or increased body temperature. Unable to cool himself, he's not only uncomfortable, but his health is compromised.
Reader Remedy: A friend suggests pouring a pint of Guinness beer in his grain ration once a day during the summer. It's an old racetrack remedy she says helps him pop a sweat.
Vet's View: It's not as far-fetched as it sounds...

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hip, Shoulder, Shoulder Training Technique for Your Horse - Full Article

This simple exercise can tum your out-of-control horse into a dance partner or teach a stuck-in-place horse to back beautifully

Lost in a sea of what lessons to teach your horse next? There are two ways to go. Next month, we’ll give you an outline of all the training steps in teaching “give to the bit,” from the most basic, hips over, to advanced, counter-bending maneuvers. This is the sequence that I use when starting an “unbroke” horse, and it’s also the sequence that I use when retraining a horse.

But this month, we’ll do an exercise that you can use to get a horse under control in a hairy situation, and teaching it will also help your horse become more responsive in ordinary situations. It’s called “Hip, Shoulder, Shoulder.”

There are really only five steps in this lesson plan. We’ll give you an overview here, and then tell you how to teach the lesson to your horse...

Read more here:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Antioxidants Beneficial if Not Overdone - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
May 12 2010

Antioxidants like vitamins E and C are beneficial to exercising horses, but only at recommended levels, reported Carey Williams, PhD, equine extension specialist and associate director of the Rutgers University Equine Science Center. Williams presented this information in her talk titled "Antioxidant Research and Its Application to Feeding Horses" at the 2010 Kentucky Equine Research (KER) Nutrition Conference held April 26-27.

Oxidation is the biochemical process by which energy is created for cells to maintain both integrity and function. When not all of the oxygen is consumed during oxidation, damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced.

"These ROS damage DNA, lipids, and contribute to degenerative changes such as aging and cancer," said Williams. "Antioxidants may prevent damage by scavenging ROS, decreasing the conversion of less reactive ROS to more reactive ROS, assisting the repair of damage caused by ROS, and providing a favorable environment for other antioxidants."

Read more here:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It is Rocket Science: Synergist Saddles - Full Article

By: Michelle MoraƱha Winner
May 18, 2010

“Excuse me,” the tall woman behind me at the UPS store said,” are you sending that box to Synergist Saddles in Wyoming? Sorry to listen in but I heard you say it’s a saddle form and I just knew it had to be for a Synergist Saddle!”

We chatted about how much she loved her Synergist Saddle and she said, “I remember the day I mailed my EQUImeasure form off, I was walking on air!“

I know how she feels. I’m almost through the process myself. We’ve measured my horse, heated and fit the patented EQUImeasure form on him, measured parts of me that don't see the sunshine and sent everything back to C.J. and Dave Di Pietra at Synergist. As soon as they got my package, C.J. called to walk me through the dozens of options available to custom design my saddle. When was the last time the owner of a company called to help you personally? This is only part of why a Synergist Saddle is different. Let me share with you my perfect saddle journey.

I got my sweet Palomino Gelding Quarter Horse Drifter in November. The rigid western roping saddle I had used on an Arabian to chase cows at the ranch would not fit him. It looked like a top hat sitting there on his back. Kinda silly and definitely wrong. I was not mounting up. I needed a new saddle for him. Where to begin?

Everyone has a saddle story...

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Test results for hoof treatment and conditionning products

Global Endurance Training Center Blog


For many years, Global Endurance Training Center has been testing equestrian products, from horse shoes and hoof boots to saddles, tack, supplements and feed. We have very high standards and accept only the best. When we find the best, we often decide to carry these items on our 'product' page on our website. Everything we offer for sale there, has been thoroughly tested and is being used by us and our staff on our horses. We can recommend and endorse these products.

Lately, we have been testing hoof treatment product, especially for sore hooves, thrush and fungus. We do receive help from our trainers, one of their blogs you can visit at

Among many others, Sarah Schick has been helping us with training and testing products. Visit her blog, she has a great training program going herself now.

We are dividing the products in two different categories:

-Sole toughening

-Fungus and thrush treatments

For sole toughening, we found that three products worked best:

Read more here:

Hydration and Electrolyte Depletion a Continual Challenge -
Hydration and Electrolyte Depletion a Continual Challenge
by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
May 20 2010, Article # 16376

Hydration and electrolyte depletion remain important factors to consider in endurance horses. Yet the impact of electrolyte supplementation on performance remains unclear and potential side effects may exist, relayed Harold Schott II, MS, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, a professor at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine at the 2010 Kentucky Equine Research Nutrition Conference held in Lexington April 26-27.

In Schott's presentation, "Challenges of Endurance Exercise: Hydration and Electrolyte Depletion," Schott explained that exercising horses, particularly endurance competitors, can lose both body water and electrolyte stores that could lead to serious medical problems or even "exhausted horse syndrome" if not properly addressed.

In adverse ambient conditions, an exercising horse can lose up to 10-12 liters of sweat per hour. Not only does this result in total body water loss, but also the electrolytes sodium, chloride, and potassium.

Over the past few decades, electrolyte supplementation has become a mainstay in minimizing fluid and electrolyte losses. Research has demonstrated that horses exercising for more than an hour or two in hot, humid climes will likely benefit from supplementation with salt water.

"An easy recipe for hardworking horses in the summer would be 1-2 oz (1 ounce is about 25 g) of an equal mix of table salt and lite salt added to the grain twice daily," advised Schott. "Next, an initial drink of salt water during the first few minutes after exercise (or at rest stops during the exercise bout) is another strategy that may be useful on especially hot and humid days."

Schott did add that electrolytes are not innocuous and that potential adverse effects could develop secondary to supplementation.

For example, there is some evidence that horses can be over-supplemented, resulting in an inadvertent increase in blood levels of sodium and chloride. Further, one study found that horses fed concentrated salt slurries had an exacerbation in the number and severity of gastric ulcers.

Schott did note, "In theory, excess electrolyte administration should not be a problem as long as competing horses are provided frequent access to water and continue to drink."

For more information on the conference, speakers, presentations, and to view video interviews, visit -">full article at

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dental Correction and Feed Digestibility - Full Article

by: Sarah L. Evers
March 13 2002, Article # 3393

According to a report published in the Equine Veterinary Journal, equine dental abnormalities are among the top five most common medical problems encountered by equine veterinarians. Clinical evidence has shown that horses with severe tooth hooks and points that were corrected gained weight and stopped quidding (dropping feed). This can improve digestibility of feed. The study, sponsored by Cornell University and Rutgers, concluded that routine dental work done on horses with less severe hooks and points did not improve feed digestibility.

Routine dental work is necessary to prevent the severe hooks and points from being formed, reminded Harold Hintz, PhD, MS, Professor of animal nutrition at Cornell University and one of the researchers involved with the study.

Read more here:

Monday, May 17, 2010

First Aid for Horse Wounds - Full Article

Your horse has an open wound. If you stay calm and follow a first-aid plan you can get him the help he needs. Here's how.

By the Editors of EQUUS magazine

First Things First
Assess the situation quickly to get a general idea of the wound's severity and your horse's reaction. Your own safety is a paramount: If the horse is panicking or thrashing, keep yourself at a safe distance until he settles down or professional help arrives.

Extricate your horse from any entanglement, if possible, so he doesn't try to struggle to break free, further exacerbating his injury. Again, take care not to endanger yourself in the process.

Control heavy bleeding by covering the wound with a pressure bandage or pressing directly on a wound that can't be bandaged. Only gushing or spurting blood poses a major danger to your horse's well-being--he has nine gallons of blood and would have to lose nearly four to be in real peril. Sterile gauze pads are ideal, but clean leg wraps, towels, a handkerchief or even your hand will do. Hold it in place until veterinary help arrives.

Determine whether the wound is a Red Alert--a potentially life-threatening injury that requires an emergency call to your veterinarian. In addition to heavy bleeding, signs of a Red Alert include...

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Equine Massage Simplified - Part I - Full Article

by Jean-Pierre Hourdebaight, LMT
Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010

You know how good you feel after a massage. Believe it or not, your horse might enjoy, and benefit from one too. In this article, learn all about the benefits of equine massage to sooth your animal's aches, or just spend enjoyable time together.

Massage is one of the oldest forms of healing and has been used from ancient times to the present. Ancient Chinese and Romans already practiced some form of animal massage. The benefits of massage therapy no longer need to be proven. Such therapy has become widely accepted and recognized by the traditional medical community. Today, the animal world has strongly benefited from the progress of modern sport medicine.

Massage therapy is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to achieve specific goals of drainage, relaxation, or stimulation, as well as the release of muscle, tendons, ligaments and fascia tension. Regular massage contributes to the overall economy of the body and to its ability to function efficiently.

Active Horses, like human athletes, often play and train hard. Unfortunately, such demanding physical efforts often result in soreness, stiffness and sometimes in injuries and pain. Massage can help you minimize these problems, and maximize your animal fitness by keeping your Horse flexible and muscle stress free.

Benefits of Massage

Massage therapy allows us to trigger the body's ability to help itself back to health. Here are some of the most important benefits...

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Contracted and Sheared Heels - Full Article

by: Heather Smith Thomas
November 01 2009, Article # 15272

Conformation defects and pain can cause heel problems that lead to a lifetime of corrective farrier care.

A number of factors must fit together seamlessly in order for a horse to remain sound and healthy: His hooves must bear weight properly in order to stay sound, with multiple structures sharing the load. If there is too much stress on any one part, or if some parts are not bearing adequate weight to maintain proper blood flow and hoof expansion, problems might arise.

Common challenges farriers face include contracted heels and sheared heels. Scott Morrison, DVM, head of the equine podiatry service at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, in Lexington, Ky., says both of these conditions often result from less-than-ideal conformation.

Contracted Heels

"If a foot is too upright it tends to load the toe more and underload the heel portion," explains Morrison. "When the heel is underloaded it becomes contracted. Clubfeet may lead to contraction, just because the heel area is not loaded adequately. Horses lame in the heel area may become contracted because they are not putting enough weight on the heels (the most elastic part of the foot). If a horse favors a foot for a long time, the entire foot can become contracted."

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Exertional Myopathy in Endurance Horses Alina Vale, DVM Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital - Full Article

Endurance horses are pulled from competition for a variety of lameness and metabolic problems, and for occasional acute injuries that occur on the trail. Exertional myopathy (also known as “tying up”) is one of the most common metabolic syndromes in endurance horses. Other diseases that often require medical treatment include synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (commonly called “thumps” due to the characteristic flank movement caused by contraction of the diaphragm simultaneous with the heartbeat), colic (usually due to ileus which is a lack of gastrointestinal motility), choke (an esophageal obstruction) and “failure to recover” or heat exhaustion. Some severely compromised endurance horses will demonstrate a combination of these metabolic diseases at one time. This most often occurs when a horse is unfit or not yet ready for the level of competition.

Several of the listed disorders are caused by dehydration and subsequent poor perfusion, leading to decreased delivery of oxygen to body tissues especially muscle and the gastrointestinal tract. When a horse presents at the mandatory veterinary checkpoints, the veterinarian will assess specific parameters. These include: mentation (the horse’s behavior and alertness), heart rate, pulse quality (palpable under the jaw), mucous membrane color, capillary refill time (assessed by blanching the gums with a thumb and counting the time for return to the prior color), extremity temperature, and urine output. A horse that has poor perfusion will act dull or depressed, have an elevated heart rate (greater than 60 beats per minute), a pulse which is difficult to palpate, pale gums with a prolonged capillary refill time (greater than 2 seconds), cold limbs, ears and nose, and often has decreased or no urine production.

Horses suffering from exertional myopathy are identified and consequently pulled from competition based on the clinical signs noted above and hard and swollen muscles, especially involving the hind limbs and back. Many of these horses will have dark ‘coffee colored’ urine. Risk factors include inadequate training, a genetic predisposition, hot or humid weather conditions (causing excess sweat loss), high grain diets, viral infections, and electrolyte imbalances...

Read more here:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nutrition Can Help Manage Tying-Up in Sport Horses - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
May 10 2010, Article # 16325

Thanks to advances in identifying specific causes of tying-up, development of diagnostic tests, and improved recognition of the impact of diet and exercise on horses that tie up, affected horses can be successfully managed. Stephanie Valberg, DVM, PhD, professor of large animal medicine and director of the University of Minnesota's Equine Center, relayed this message during her talk "The Management of Tying-Up in Sport Horses: Challenges and Successes" presented at the 2010 Kentucky Equine Research Nutrition Conference held April 26-27 in Lexington.

Tying-up (exertional rhabdomyolysis) is a relatively common condition of skeletal muscle tissues characterized by muscle pain, a stiff, stilted gait, excessive sweating, and distress. A wide variety of breeds are affected, including warmbloods, Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Arabians, Morgans, Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Paints.

"To date, multiple causes of muscle diseases have been identified that vary from something as innocuous as lack of conditioning to more serious genetic abnormalities such as hyperkalemic period paralysis (HYPP), glycogen branching enzyme deficiency (GBED), malignant hyperthermia (MH), and type 1 polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM1)," explained Valberg.

Read more here:

Exercise in Young Horses Safe and May Protect Joints - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
April 30 2010, Article # 16265

Not only can exercise safely be imposed in any age horse, but it also might be protective to joints, reported a Colorado State University research team led by Chris Kawcak, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, an associate professor and equine surgeon.

"Injuries involving the musculoskeletal system in horses are common and can typically result in secondary to chronic changes in the structure of bone and cartilage," said Kawcak.

Previous studies have demonstrated that musculoskeletal strength can be improved by exercising at an early age in a number of species and that this technique could even decrease the incidence of injuries later in life. To date, however, little data exist concerning either the optimum level at which strength can be maximized or upper and lower limits for joint loading to prevent damaging horses' joints.

Read more here:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Conditioning the Older Horse - Full Article
by: Ray Geor, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM
March 01 2001, Article # 47

What are the effects of advancing years on athletic performance? Are there special considerations in the conditioning and general care of older horses? Is regular exercise beneficial for older horses or, conversely, does the extra wear and tear on joints, tendons, and ligaments only hasten development of crippling lameness problems? Nowadays, these questions and others are asked frequently. In part, this is a reflection of the ever-changing role of horses in society. Demographic information suggests that older horses (more than 15-20 years of age) comprise a large proportion of the overall horse population. In fact, some surveys indicate that more than 15% of the horse population is over 20 years of age. More than ever, the horse is a treasured companion, and we strive to ensure that this rewarding relationship lasts for as long as is reasonably possible.

Our expectations for length of athletic career also are changing--in many athletic disciplines, there are numerous examples of horses remaining highly competitive until their late teens or beyond. Of course, not all horses will be able to compete at the top of their games at that age and, generally speaking, we should lower our expectations in terms of athletic performance as the horse ages. Nevertheless, with appropriate care and conditioning, there is no reason why the older horse cannot be used for pleasure riding, and perhaps more.

What Is Old?

Just what do we mean by old? There are no hard and fast rules--we do know that few horses survive into their 30s or 40s, but many horses do quite well until their late 20s. "Geriatric" and "senior" are terms frequently used to describe horses in this age bracket. However, geriatric really refers to old humans or animals with problems and diseases. Old, but otherwise heal-thy horses are just that--old...

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Sport Horse Feeding, Management the Focus of KER Equine Nutrition Conference

Press Release
May 6, 2010

The feeding and management of sport horses in various disciplines, such as endurance riding and three-day eventing, was the focus of the 17th Kentucky Equine Research (KER) Nutrition Conference, held April 26-27 in Lexington, Ky. Presenters included world-renowned veterinary researchers, as well as KER's in-house equine nutrition experts.

More than 100 horse feed manufacturers, veterinarians, students, and other industry professionals from more than a dozen countries recently attended the event. Presentations covered heart rate metrics, drug use guidelines and restrictions, antioxidant research, use of electrolytes for hydration and recovery, management of metabolic and muscle diseases, and the diagnosis and treatment of joint problems in equine athletes.

KER President Joe Pagan, PhD, reviewed clinical studies that have revealed key facts about equine nutrition and exercise physiology. In many cases, this research has led to the development of nutritional products and supplements used by horses competing successfully at the Olympic level.

"While offers a wealth of information on equine health and nutrition, conferences like this give us an invaluable opportunity to connect with hands-on horse owners, managers, and veterinarians to ensure our research and communication efforts remain on the cutting edge of the equine industry," said KER Global Marketing Manager Kim Brown. "We hope those that couldn't join us for the live meeting take advantage of the summaries available on, as well as the upcoming video coverage."

Summaries of the Conference Presentations

Pagan Kicks Off First Day of KER Nutrition Conference

Challenges of Endurance Exercise: Water and Electrolyte Depletion

Antioxidant Research and Its Application to Feeding Horses

Pursuing the Genetic Basis for Tying-Up Syndromes

Advances in Diagnosis of Equine Joint Disease

Remarks on the Benefits of Heart Rate Recordings

Veterinary Care for Competition Horses While Staying Within the Medication Rules

McIlwraith on Management of Joint Disease in the Sport Horse

Feeding the Elite Sport Horse

Feeding Management of the Three-Day Event Horse

The Management of Tying-Up in Sport Horses: Challenges and Successes

Observations and Recommendations for Feeding the Endurance Horse

Video coverage of the event, including interviews with presenters, will be available on

KER Team Members from countries including Canada, Colombia, Brazil, England, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, India, Korea, New Zealand, and Australia were invited to visit the KER Research Farm in Versailles, Ky., where they enjoyed lunch and watched a demonstration of the facility's high-speed equine treadmill. They also took tours of Lane's End Farm, Labrot & Graham Distillery, and the Kentucky Horse Park.

KER is a world-renowned nutrition and consultation company that works with feed manufacturers to develop horse feeds suited for the particular regions in which they are to be fed. Research efforts are the cornerstone of KER, and all scientific trials are directed by Joe Pagan, PhD, and carried out by a staff of equine nutritionists and support personnel. Conclusions drawn from these trials are used in the formulation of technologically advanced feeds.

In addition to its research endeavors, KER has a rich tradition of providing top-of-the-line feeds to the greatest equine athletes in the world. In 2000, the company was tapped to be the official nutritionist of the United States Equestrian Federation and holds the same distinction for the Australian Equestrian Team.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Duncan McLaughlin: Passive Stretch to Performance - Full Article

There is no getting around it. The legs of your horse are going to take a pounding. The repetitive nature of training and competition means that his leg muscles are going to become tighter and shorter. This will reduce his stride and can even cause pain. One way to mitigate the effects of repetitive use/overuse damage to your horse’s legs is to incorporate some leg stretches into his work routine.

The Length of Muscles

Repetitive exercise causes muscles to tighten. This tightening is a consequence of an important body reflex, the myotatic stretch reflex (see Reflexes and Stretching below). The length of muscle fibers is dependent on the number of contractile units, called sarcomeres, they contain. Repetitive (or unaccustomed) exercise damages some of the sarcomeres and the muscle fiber becomes shorter. Damage to sarcomeres is the main cause of muscular pain after exercise. For example, you get sore thighs the day after unaccustomed bushwalking in the hills because of this mechanical damage and subsequent healing of the quadriceps muscle in your thigh. As damaged muscle fibers shorten, the sheets of connective tissue, called fascia, which surround them, also become tighter.

Stretching induces muscles to lengthen. Individual muscle fibers grow in length by incorporating additional sarcomeres. Connective tissue then expands, following the lead of the muscle fibers. The lengthening/relaxation response from stretching last around 24 hours. If your horse has limited flexibility it may be necessary to stretch daily in the initial stages of introducing a stretch routine to achieve muscle lengthening.

Read more and see photos at:

Monday, May 03, 2010

Carbs: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Dunc's Diatribe -

Monday, May 3, 2010 by Duncan McLaughlin
(Or, does my endurance horse have sub-clinical laminitis?)

So, before we begin, some terms:

Carbohydrates, or ‘Carbs’, come in a variety of forms. They can range from simple structures (glucose and fructose) to slightly more developed forms (sucrose, maltose, lactose), all known as simple-carbs (sugars). There are also more intricate carb structures – complex-carbs - that are utilized and stored by animals (glycogen) and plants (starch). Plants also create and utilize some other carbs (cellulose, hemi-cellulose, lignin) as building blocks – these carbs are known as structural-carbs (fiber).

Sub-clinical laminitis is an oft-used term in barefoot circles. The idea is that your horse is experiencing an ongoing, mild – that is, 'not clinically significant’ – laminitic event. Generally, anytime your trimmer can’t get your horse moving comfortably barefoot in a reasonable time frame and your horse remains stubbornly tender footed to ride, he is assumed to have sub-clinical laminitis. I often think we are at the stage where sub-clinical laminitis is for barefooters what navicular syndrome is for shodders – a debased catch-all term used whenever your horse isn’t traveling right.

Horses are, more than almost every other mammal, a walking digestive tract. The evolution of a trickle-fed, hind-gut fermenting digestive system has enabled wild (and feral) horses to survive and thrive eating energy poor – that is, low in sugars/starches, high in structural-carbs/fiber - forage on which most other herbivores would starve. Think frozen Mongolian steppe, harsh Shetland Isles, dry Middle-East desert. Remember the digestive capacity of an average size horse approaches 200 liters, some 65% of that is the fermentation vat that is the hind-gut.

Horses can digest carbs in the form of sugars/starches directly. These are digested almost completely in the small intestine. Structural carbs cannot be digested directly by your horse, indeed by any mammals. Instead, microbes in the hindgut ferment structural carbs, producing volatile fatty acids (VFAs), which are then absorbed by the horse and are a significant source of energy.

So what is all the fuss about carbs? And how do carbs affect your horse’s feet?

full article -

Ten Commandments of Endurance Riding - By Darolyn Butler

Ten Commandments of Endurance Riding

1. Buy the best-conformed horse you can afford. It will save you time, money, and disappointment in the long run. Be color and sex blind. Remember the Golden Rule of Endurance: no major conformation faults in the front legs below the knees! Yes, look closely at the feet and the way they strike during movement

2. Fat is good on an endurance horse. It helps to make the distance. In most rides over 30 miles, the horse must tap into his fat storage for fuel and energy. Without stored fat, he will be "flat out of gas!" I am speaking, of course, of fat on a well-muscled, conditioned athlete. It is a statistical fact that a horse carrying extra weight at the start of the Tevis Cup ride has a far better chance of finishing than an equally conditioned horse that is lean.

3. It takes three years to make an endurance horse. Even though a horse can occasionally achieve metabolic and muscular condition in as little as six months, it takes far longer to build bone density and tendon and ligament strength. So don't hurry. Take your time and reap the rewards.

4. Likewise, familiarize yourself with the anatomical workings of the horse, especially the feet. The feet determine a good deal of health in the horse, not to mention the primary locomotion factor. Read "Lifetime of Soundness" by Hiltrud Strasser DVM.

5. "Horses run on instinct, not on intellect." The rider IS responsible for our own horse's well being, not them. Often we hear, "my horse wanted to run, I didn't make him! Why was he pulled for metabolic reasons at the lunch stop?" There are a lot of reasons horses run at endurance races, not the least of, it feels good! Reasons include fear, panic, too much excitement too soon in the horse's career, instinct to run with the herd, and poor training. It is the rider's responsibility to ride the ride the same way the horse was ridden in his conditioning, and to the extent the horse is capable and safe. Horses react differently on race day. It is important to have a strategy to handle this situation and stick with it! Never run the first 10 miles any faster than you know the horse can run the last 10 miles of the competition.

6. Endurance horses pace; cows stampede. This is the logical extension of "commandment #5." In your conditioning training, teach your horse a fast walk, medium trot, extended trot, and an easy canter. The speed of your horse should be exactly the same all the time, just as one would put a vehicle at a practical and constant road speed on a long trip to save gas. Slowing down and speeding up uses energy and that is counter-productive to long distance efficiency. When your horse learns an even pace, he will feel comfortable and confidant when he uses it in a ride and it will become automatic for him and easy for you, too.

7. Horses have a limited number of downhill miles. The front legs of a horse take at least 75% of the concussion on flat terrain. It is exponential on down hill terrain and even worse on downhill terrain with any rider, especially a heavyweight! Teach your horse a collected downhill trot. Use it only on races when it is necessary; i.e., the Tevis Cup is one ride that it is almost impossible not to trot downhill on. During conditioning, walk downhill or get off your horse and lead him at a trot.

8. Rest is as important as conditioning miles. One of the least used tools of endurance riders can be rest. Once a horse is a veteran (approximately, a three-year horse) he should have three months off during the winter. All horses should have a week rest after a fast 50 and a month off after the Tevis Cup. Conditioning should be completed weeks before the rides, not increased in the month preceding the ride.

9. Horses don't lie. Pay close attention to your horse's moods and appetite. If they are suddenly irritable, loose appetite, lethargic, bucks, or anything other than their normal self, try to figure out why! An endurance horse that loses his appetite and drops weight may be being ridden too hard. In this case, you back off on his conditioning until he again begins gaining weight. Any other changes can be due to foot pain, saddle fit, electrolyte imbalance, body misalignment, or a variety of reasons. If you cannot pinpoint the problem or it doesn't resolve in a short time, get a professional to help you!

10. The most important ingredient in endurance riding or training is trust. To have a safe and long endurance career, your horse needs to have total trust in you. You must be his comforter, his leader, and his savior! In moments of panic, he must turn his back on his instincts and trust you to save him. This is a big responsibility for us as horse owners. But, in a moment that can be life or death for you and your horse, you will be glad if you take the lead. To build trust, you must be consistent, kind, fair, and relaxed. Never let him down and he'll do the same for you.

--By Darolyn Butler