Monday, November 28, 2011

Endurance Horse Training Basics Part 2: Tying examples

Enduranceridestuff Blog - Full Article

by Karen Chaton

Another very important lesson for an endurance horse is tying. They really need to be able to be tied to a variety of different things. Why? Well, let me tell you a story.

Many years ago on an endurance ride I heard a couple of horses galloping by my rig. It was about…oh, 4 a.m. I got up quickly and put shoes and a raincoat on. Of course it was raining!

My horses were both tied safely on their trailer ties. The loose horses came galloping past me again. They didn’t have halters on them. I was able to grab a couple of halters, ropes, and a bucket with some grain in it. Woke up a friend next to me and we went in pursuit of these loose horses. We were eventually able to catch them with the bucket of feed, and we got halters on them easily enough. Then we went to tie them up to a trailer so that we could go in search of who they belonged to.

Endurance Horse Training Basics Part 2: Tying examplesThe horses didn’t tie. They panicked, freaking out, slipping and falling all over the place...

Read more here:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Combat Hock Problems in Horses - Full Article

By Elaine Pascoe with Gary Baxter, VMD

Wear and tear can break down these critical joints. Here are the latest targeted treatment options to avoid hock problems in horses.

Your horse is leaning on the bit, unwilling to bring his hind end up under himself or really use his hindquarters as he moves. When he takes a fence, he doesn’t push off with the power you know he has. Is he getting lazy? Regressing in his training? Or is it hock problems?

The hocks are a key part of your horse’s hind-end driving mechanism. Actions such as jumping and work at collected gaits, which call for extra hind-end effort, are especially tough on these hard-working joints. So are tight turns and small circles, which load the hocks unevenly and apply twisting force. With time and miles, the joints can start to break down and cause hock problems in horses.

That’s the bad news—but there’s good news, too. You can take steps to keep your horse working comfortably and extend his career, even when hock problems start to develop. In this article, we’ll explain what goes wrong and what you can do...

Read more here:

Study: Dental Work Improves Feed Digestibility in Horses - Full Article

by: Kelleyerin Clabaugh, DVM
November 18 2011, Article # 19148

Many horse owners do not recognize signs of dental disease until a horse has obvious difficulty chewing, reduced appetite, feed dropping, and weight loss. Thus, even horses with mild dental disease benefit significantly from corrective dental work, according to recent research by a team from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich in Germany.

In the study, researchers evaluated voluntary hay intake, fecal particle size, and nutrient digestibility of nine adult Warmbloods--that all chewed normally, but had mild to moderate enamel points of the molars and premolars--before and after dental correction.

Because the horses selected for the study were not having any apparent difficulty chewing, the researchers were not surprised to learn that voluntary feed consumption did not change after floating the horses' teeth. The horses continued to ingest the same amount of food as before the procedure, indicating they were not any more or any less comfortable.

On the contrary, the team was surprised to find that fecal particle length did not change after treatment. Previous studies involving horses with more significant dental disease revealed that fiber length was shorter after flotation. Thus, fecal fiber length could be a good predictor of severe, but not subtle, dental disease.

In the current study chemical analysis of the fecal material indicated increased nutrient digestibility of dry matter, energy, and crude fiber. "Even the correction of moderate dental findings may increase apparent digestibility significantly," the authors noted...

Read more here:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Benefits of basic training: an example! (or two)

Karen Chaton's Enduranceridestuff Blog - Full Article

Thought I’d show a perfect example of a time when having a horse trained to not panic when he gets caught in something can be a lifesaver.

A couple of years ago I was riding Chief at the Grand Canyon XP. We had just come up a steep climb and were starting to level out. I was riding behind a small group of horses ahead of me.

That’s when I realized all of a sudden that Chief was dragging something! We had been in heavy tree cover and no one saw the wire. All it took was one strand of it to get caught, dragging the roll with it. Here is what I wrote about it at the time:

On one of the days of the ride I was riding up a new trail when Chief suddenly became entangled in barbed wire. Rusty old, nasty stuff. Chief wasn’t the first horse to get caught in it–Cheryl Johnson’s horse ahead of us got caught and got a puncture. Fortunately Chief stopped and stood perfectly still as soon as he realized he was caught and dragging a whole roll of the stuff. I quickly hopped off, told him to stay (which he did) and went to his hind legs to get it off of him. He was perfectly behaved about it and didn’t even lift a leg up until I picked it up. Good boy!

The best part was that Chief stood perfectly still – I flipped his reins over his head so that he was ground tied...

Read more here:

Trail Survival Guide - Full Article

Trail riders’ famous last words and other dos, don’ts and dilemmas.

By Jennifer Nice

The trail is washed out and impassable. Your friend’s horse is showing signs of heat stress. You have a sneaking suspicion that you are lost. It’s getting dark and your feet are killing you. These are some of the many predicaments that trail riders seem to get themselves into.

It’s not that trail riders are more accident-prone than other riders, but their sense of adventure does occasionally lead to perils and pitfalls. Here is some advice so you don’t find yourself uttering every trail rider’s famous last words: “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Wardrobe Malfunctions
You’re several hours into a ride and your feet are throbbing. You realize that it was a mistake to ride in a brand-new pair of boots. Your new jeans are making you wish you’d bought a roomier pair. What’s worse is you still have two hours of riding left. You’re so desperately uncomfortable that you would do almost anything to get out of the offending articles of clothing. What are your options?

Dismount and walk for a little while. You can also adjust the length of your stirrups to relieve the pressure on your feet, and some of the restriction of your tight new jeans.

You want to be adequately protected in both hot and cold weather, so choose your clothing carefully. Dress in layers that you can shed if necessary. Wear comfortable shoes that you have already broken in, with heels that are designed for riding so your feet won’t slip through the stirrups. Stories of riders who are critically—even fatally—injured as a result of getting a foot caught in a stirrup are all too common. You certainly don’t want to be one of the statistics. The same goes for riding helmets. The body heals; the brain doesn’t...

Read more here:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Feeding Endurance Horses Day to Day - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 10, 2011

Endurance horses are arguably the most complicated equine athletes to feed correctly. Although research on feeding for long-distance, low-intensity work is still ongoing, equine nutritionists have devised a general nutritional strategy based on current knowledge to give you and your horse the best chance of success, whether you want to be first over the line, or you just want to complete the ride with a happy, healthy horse.

At the Kentucky Equine Research (KER) facility in the United States, five Arabian horses were used specifically for endurance research. The results of feed trials with these horses, along with international consultation to a huge number of clients, led to a better understanding of how nutrition affects performance, and how critical correct nutrition is for the endurance horse. The following recommendations for day to day training are based on KER’s research and experience with endurance horses.

Feed diets high in good-quality forage such as pasture, grass hay, or mixed grass/legume hay. These forage sources can be fed free choice to endurance horses...

Read more here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Endurance horse training basics

Enduranceridestuff Blog - Karen Chaton

I’m going to do a series of blog posts about basic training for an endurance horse. I will include things that are often lacking in the education of many horses that travel and that are taken on trips overnight. After riding this season, especially on the long XP ride I am left feeling that there are just too many riders out there who seriously lack some of the basics, or perhaps the knowledge required to teach their horses some of the basics.

I hope that this series will help out new riders who may not realize how serious a wreck or accident can occur from a hole in their horse’s basic training.

These are the topics I’m going to cover. If anybody has any suggestions for something else that they would like to see covered, let me know.

1. Hobble training. Very basic. Have posted numerous times on this before.
2. Tying: Does your horse panic if he gets tangled up or wrapped around a bucket, or the end of a hitching post?...

Read more here:

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Barefoot Life
If you are considering pulling your horse's shoes, or have already gone the barefoot route, three hoof care experts offer their advice.
By Marcia King

You’ve decided to let your horse go barefoot but are receiving conflicting advice on how to best manage him. You thought you could just have the shoes pulled and let your horse go, save for the occasional trimming.

Before you decide to pull your horse's shoes for good, consider his living and working conditions.

But some friends have given you a big, fairly complicated Must-Do list, culled from various sources, and now you’re not sure what to do—which is no surprise to Walt Taylor, certified farrier, Albuquerque, N.M. Taylor knows a thing or two about hoof care: He’s been a farrier since 1948, is the founder, former president and current secretary of the American Farrier’s Association (AFA), and creator of the World Farriers Association. He says, “I am a bit nonplussed by all the fuss over this subject. It seems that we are making the proverbial mountain out of a molehill, in the worst possible way. When we intellectualize and extrapolate some of the most simple subjects, they become much more than they actually are.”
To help you skirt those unnecessary mountains, Taylor, along with Lisa Simons Lancaster, who is a DVM and farrier, and Jeff Ridley, a certified journeyman farrier, give you practical advice you can use. Dr. Lancaster, of Eden Prairie, Minn., is the author of The Sound Hoof: Horse Health From the Ground Up. She has also collaborated with Robert M. Bowker, VMD, director of Michigan State University’s famed Equine Foot Laboratory. Ridley, of Leighton, Iowa, has earned the AFA’s Therapeutic Endorsement, a program that addresses strategies for horses with specific lameness problems.

Barefoot or Not

The most important issue is, can your horse go unshod? If health and conditions are such that hoof wear does not exceed hoof growth, the answer is yes. If the hoof wears down faster than it grows, then you’re either going to have to shoe your horse or alter the conditions that lead to excess hoof wear.

Good candidates for going barefoot are horses that:

have sound, healthy, normal hooves
have reasonably good conformation
live and work on the same surfaces: If a barefoot horse lives on soft bedding 23 hours a day and is then expected to work one hour a day on hard terrain, he’s probably not going to do well. But he might be fine if he works only in soft, even footing.

Dr. Lancaster explains the benefits of working and living on the same surfaces: “In the dry rocky terrain of Colorado, I had many clients whose barefoot horses were living in hard-packed dirt paddocks, and they were sound on the most rugged terrain.”

In general, unlikely barefoot candidates are horses that:

have poor conformation: Taylor cites conformation examples including severe to extreme anterior or posterior and/or medial or lateral imbalance, angular limb deformities affecting fetlocks, knees or hocks, et cetera.
work extensively and/or primarily on hard, abrasive surfaces
work on a surface that’s different than their housing surface

There are exceptions to these rules, of course. Due to genetics or other unknown factors, some horses just cannot seem to tolerate going barefoot, even under ideal circumstances. And then there is the opposite: A few years ago, the late Emil Carre, former AFA president and certified journeymen farrier, recalled a Quarter Horse endurance mount he once owned. “By the time [the horse] was 23, he’d gone on eight 100-mile rides, and over 3,000 miles in National Trail Ride Association competitions, and that horse practically lived barefoot. We trained him four to six months a year barefoot. He had thick walls and thick soles. It was through genetics and breeding.”

“There is no sure way to know ahead of time if the horse will do well barefoot,” Dr. Lancaster explains. “Generally, owners curious about barefoot just go ahead and try it!” That said, prior to pulling the shoes, have your farrier or veterinarian examine your horse, as they might notice something questionable that you were unaware of.

If you can, wait until the off-season before removing your horse’s shoes, Dr. Lancaster advises. “That way the horse has some time to adjust before being asked to perform,” she says. “For horses that perform year-round give it a try any time, but be prepared to reduce the workload for a while.”

Note that while some horses have no problem adjusting to being unshod (usually those that work only on soft ground), other newly barefoot horses can become lame. “Sometimes a perfectly sound horse becomes quite lame when the shoes first come off if the owner rides on hard-packed terrain; these horses will need a period of adjustment with a slow-riding, easy workload before the feet toughen up,” Dr. Lancaster says. “How long that adjustment takes is difficult to predict and depends on many factors—how much work they are getting, how different the terrain is from their living surface, in what condition their feet are in to start off with, whether the owner wants to do light pleasure riding or compete in a hard-terrain 100-mile endurance race. But keep in mind that some horses never adapt to hard surfaces. The feet look good, the horse is sound on soft surfaces, but [the hooves] just never get tough on the dirt roads or rocks.”

Maintaining the Unshod Horse
Numerous variables dictate how you will manage your barefoot horse, but here’s what you can expect:

Altered farrier schedule. “Frequency of farrier appointments for the barefoot horse depends on how the foot wears,” Dr. Lancaster says. “Some horses need to be trimmed more often (as frequently as every three to five weeks) because you can’t take as much hoof off; they become sore post-trim if more than 1/8 inch is removed.”

On the other hand, some barefoot horses do best with a longer interval of eight to 10 weeks between trimmings, according to Ridley. “Many barefoot horses can go a little longer because they are wearing off foot daily.”

“I have not found any need for different angles or other trim parameters in horses to be shod compared to those left barefoot,” Dr. Lancaster says.

Taylor agrees, as does Ridley. “Angles will remain the same, but the foot should be left a little a longer as it must maintain concavity, and vertical depth will be more conducive to staying barefoot,” Ridley says.

“Trimming the foot that is to be left without shoes should be more conservative than if the horse will be shod,” Taylor adds. “Extra length of wall, less frog paring and removal of less dead sole are all indicated. The hoof-pastern axis must be kept straight or slightly broken forward.”

Seasonal adaptation. Your horse’s trimming schedule—and even his ability to go barefoot—could change with the seasons. For starters, hoof growth varies under different weather conditions. Seasonal changes can also alter the terrain, thus affecting the feet.

This can be challenging if the horse has a tendency to be sore on variable terrain,” Dr. Lancaster states. “Many horses have trouble in the winter on uneven frozen ground, and may need shoes if they are expected to work on such ground. The wet spring and dry summers can also cause horses some foot pain if they work on ground much different than what they live on.”

Then, too, Ridley points out, a change in season sometimes brings a change in the work schedule, which, in turn, could affect hoof wear, trimming schedule, or the need for shoes. If hoof wear exceeds growth, it’s clear that the horse needs hoof protection and that may mean shoes.

A different work schedule. “Sessions may need to be altered when you first start a horse barefoot,” Lancaster says. “You have to give the feet a chance to adjust and to get used to the new demands. Keep in mind that it is not practical to remove shoes during the middle of competition season and expect the horse to continue the same level of performance.”

Even after a horse adjusts, you may sometimes have to back off your schedule if hoof wear exceeds growth; reducing the horse’s work or training allows the hoof capsule to regrow to a comfortable length, important for protecting interior sensitive structures, Taylor says.

Monitoring your horse’s hooves. “Wear on the hoof wall is the critical factor, in my opinion,” Taylor says. Watch for signs that your horse is beginning to react to too much wear or ground injury; signs include an unwillingness to move out, tender-footed or lameness, changes in his way of going, et cetera.

“Bare feet should be examined or trimmed by a competent farrier to determine if the hoof capsule is withstanding the wear that it is being subjected to,” Taylor suggests. “Look for collapsed or underrun heels, a broken wall that threatens sensitive structures, corns or sole bruises, or a torn or injured frog.”

Good Advice
So can your horse go barefoot? Perhaps the only way you’ll know for sure is to give it a try. “Put the horse in the best conditions that you can provide, and evaluate whether or not he can be maintained barefoot,” Ridley says. “It is great if your horse can stay barefoot—some can, some cannot.”

Read more expert opinions on care of the barefoot horse.

Marcia King is an award-winning freelance writer based in Ohio.
read full article here

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spring Training - Full Article

Starting a conditioning program.
By Nancy S. Loving, DVM

In the wild, a band of horses will travel far distances each day in search of forage and water. It is not uncommon for wild horse herds to range 10 to 20 miles in a day. But what happens when we take our normally sedentary, domesticated horses out of a small pasture or paddock confinement and attempt to put them to work in athletic sports? The situation becomes more complex. For one, a horse in athletic pursuits is usually asked to move out at a faster and more consistent pace than what he might select given his own options, and he must carry your weight on his back during these exertions.

To make the journey as safe as possible for your horse, you’ll want to commit to a conditioning program. The goal of conditioning is to develop the horse’s structural and metabolic foundation to withstand the stress of exercise with minimal injury. A horse that is brought along too quickly is destined to fail structurally. An athletic horse doesn’t just pop out of the pasture ready to compete. You should outline your personal goals, then plan a conditioning strategy that considers your horse’s starting point and the demands of your desired equine discipline. Taking the time to build a structural foundation will pay dividends in your horse’s future performance...

Read more here:

Leg Weights Help Rehabilitate Hind Limb Gait Issues - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
November 04 2011, Article # 19064

Unlike in human medicine, where physical therapy (PT) is widely embraced and an abundance of science supports the use of various PT techniques and tools, the science supporting PT in horses is lacking. This leaves veterinarians and horse owners alike wondering what works and what doesn't.

"In an attempt to provide a scientific basis for the use of PT and rehabilitation in the equine industry, I focused my research efforts on evidence-based research studies in this area," said Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Vice President of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Clayton, together with equine physical therapist Narelle Stubbs, BAppSc (Phty), MAnimST (Animal Physiotherapy) of the Animal Rehabilitation Institute, in Loxahatchee, Fla., has published several studies assessing how PT might improve toe dragging and short striding in horses. In these studies researchers attached bracelets or light leg weights around horses' pasterns to stimulate receptors in the skin...

Read more here:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Easycare blog - Full Article

Monday, November 7, 2011 by EasyCare Customer Service Team
A few weeks ago, I gave an overview of the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC), the largest competitive trail riding organization. I have received some questions regarding the differences between NATRC and the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC). In the following posts, I will do my best to shed some light on these differences.

Hoof boots are used in both disciplines but prior to the 2011 ride season, the only Easyboot that NATRC allowed was the Original Easyboot. Thankfully, there was a rule change and now boots with gaiters can be used in competition. The Easyboot Glove is currently the most popular boot among NATRC riders but Easyboot Epics also have a strong following. AERC has never had restrictions on hoof boots and while Gloves and Epics are still popular boots with endurance riders, the Easyboot Glue-On is the way to go for 100 mile or multiday rides. This year at Tevis, 8 of the top 20 horses wore Easyboot Glue-Ons.

Having been involved with NATRC for several years, I have noticed that many members have misconceptions about endurance. The most common one that comes to mind is endurance riders are crazy and so are their horses. Now I haven’t spent too much time around endurance riders, but so far the ones I’ve met seem more or less sane...

Read more here:

Pre-Purchase Exam: Better Quality Assurance - Full Article

Learn about how a pre-purchase exam can help determine if the horse you're interested in buying is sound and healthy.
By Cynthia McFarland

Before buying your horse, an exam should be set up with a seperate veterinarian to ensure the horse is in good shape. If you can't judge a book by its cover, you certainly can't rely on casual observation when it comes to buying a horse. Once you've narrowed the field and found a horse that is a good match for you, it's time to schedule a pre-purchase exam. It may be tempting to skip the exam if you are considering a fairly inexpensive horse, or think you already know the animal, but the fact is you can never go wrong with a thorough exam before buying the horse. If everything is fine, the exam is added assurance that you are making the right decision. Should the veterinarian uncover a problem or health issue, the pre-purchase exam can save you untold grief, frustration and money down the road.

Setting Up the Exam
A pre-purchase exam should be conducted by a licensed equine veterinarian who has no connection to the seller. If you don't have an equine veterinarian who you work with already, ask your horse friends to recommend someone they trust. You can also contact the American Association of Equine Practitioners ( and inquire about veterinarians in your area...

Read more here: