Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rider: Help! How Can I Get My Confidence Back After a Bad Fall? blogs - Full Article

I often get requests for specific topics to cover about riding or horse care, and this one from a woman who was hospitalized after a bad fall and needs help getting her confidence back really touched me.

Luckily for her, I knew exactly who to send it to–equestrian mental skills coach Tonya Johnston, who just published her book, Inside Your Ride: Mental Skills for Being Happy and Successful with Your Horse, which is available on

I think many of you will find this helpful; I know I did!

Reader question: Can you do a feature about getting back in the saddle after a major fall? You may have done this, but I have been unable to find a reference.

I had a major fall that resulted in a hospital stay and a break from riding for some time. I have ridden since, but it is just not the same. I used to excel at training young horses and doing the first rides never used to be a problem, until my riding accident.

I know I have fear, but it is getting past this that I can’t seem to manage. I have read various books and articles on the subject of fear when riding but I found them to be extremely vague on the “how to” of getting past the issue of fear itself.

I have read many articles on riders who have overcome the issue of getting back in the saddle, but the “how they did it” parts always seem lacking. Just sucking it up and getting on again just won’t work for me. I can easily handle horses from the ground, and still do all my own ground work and first saddling’s, but now I send them out to be started and for the first 30 to 90 days of riding and training.

When they come home the horse sits in the field and becomes an expensive pasture ornament. Sigh…
I have done what a lot of the articles have suggested as far as being safe- i.e.- helmet, good fitting tack, safe place to ride, safe horse, coaches, etc., , but fear still tends to paralyze my efforts in the saddle.

I am not saying I have not been able to ride- I am saying I need to get past this to be able to do what I love to do.
 I have halter horses, so can show from the ground, but I want all-around horses, and it is putting on miles that stops me in my tracks.

This is driving me to consider selling all my horses and just getting out totally, but I know I would have a hard time living my life without them as they have been a part of my existence since I was a child.

I need specific exercises to do to help me get my confidence back, and to help me understand my reluctance when riding. I
know it has turned into a mental game now, so need the tools to go on.

I recently spoke with a friend of mine about some show tack she was selling, and to my great surprise, she is going through the same thing as me! She had a major fall and has been struggling to ride since. She has now resigned herself to showing from the ground only, and said she needs to find a “steady Eddy” before she would ever get back in the saddle. 
I know I am not the only one out there struggling with this issue, and the older I get, the more discouraging I find my situation to be.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Tonya Johnston: Thank you, Marilyn, for writing such a clear request for help about returning to riding after a serious fall. You’re right, this is an issue that many other people have faced and/or will face at some point in their riding careers and the more people that have positive ideas about how to handle it the better.

I completely agree that what is most helpful is specific, take-action instruction that enables you to face your fear and craft solutions that help you regain your confidence.

Therefore, here are some detailed, concrete ideas for you to do both away from the barn, and when you are tacking up and successfully getting on your horse for your very next ride.

Before you go to the barn to ride:

1. Use your motivation to trump your fear.

The starting place is to ask, “Do I want to ride?” When the answer is “Yes!” the next important question is “Why?”...

Read more here:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Selenium and Vitamin E to Alleviate Signs of Tying Up - Full Article

by: Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS
May 20 2012, Article # 20037

Exertional rhabdomyolysis, otherwise known as "tying up," is a term used to describe a variety of muscle disorders in the equine athlete. Horses affected by tying up have varying degrees of muscle cramping or muscle soreness, with the more severe cases accompanied by elevated respiratory and heart rates, dark colored urine, and reluctance to move or stand.

A balanced diet, including vitamins and minerals, is just one factor in the treatment and prevention of tying up. Here are some ways that two specific nutrients, selenium and vitamin E, can help prevent or alleviate symptoms of tying up:

Selenium: During exercise several chemical processes occur, allowing the horse's muscle to utilize energy. However, those same processes produce oxidation-induced damage by free radicals. Selenium is a vital part of glutathione peroxidase--an enzyme that prevents free radicals from causing cellular damage. Deficiencies in selenium will directly relate to a decreased ability to rid the muscle of these detrimental substances...

Read more here:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Feeding Before the Endurance Ride - Full Article

By Dr. Peter Huntington · May 17, 2012

Information concerning feeding endurance horses is easily available and widespread. How to feed horses in endurance training and how to manage them after a competition is fairly well documented. But what happens before the ride itself, and how can this influence your horse’s performance?

There are some pretty significant changes in routine for a horse at ride base including the toll of the truck ride to get there, the lack of free grazing, being confined to a small paddock, the excitement and stress of all the other strange horses, people, and trucks, and the general hustle and bustle of a busy ride base. All of these things can impact your horse’s appetite, thirst, frame of mind, digestive health, and ultimately the horse’s performance in the ride.

In order to understand the best way to manage the horse before the ride, we must analyze any possible problems we might encounter and how we would deal with them if they arose as well as the basic plan of when to feed, what to feed, and how to feed.

Arriving at Ride Base: Management Before Start Time

You are probably tired from an early start and a long drive, and you can be sure that your horse is likely just as tired if not more from having to stand and balance constantly in the back of the trailer for the trip. If he is a nervous type of horse or a relatively new horse to endurance, he may have become stressed with the anticipation of arriving somewhere new and not knowing what to expect. If he is a seasoned endurance horse, he still may have become excited and arrive in a lather of anticipatory sweat...

read more here:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Time of Feeding Before Competition - Full Article

By Dr. Joe Pagan · February 24, 2012

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding feeding performance horses is when to feed before a competition.

To answer this, three experiments were conducted by Kentucky Equine Research (KER) to evaluate if feeding hay with and without grain affects glycemic response and hematological responses in Thoroughbred horses at rest and during a simulated competition exercise test (CET) on a high-speed treadmill. The first experiment evaluated how feeding forage along with grain influences plasma variables and water intake. The second experiment was conducted to determine whether these changes affect exercise performance. The third experiment was performed to determine how forage alone affects exercise response.

Feeding hay either before or with grain significantly reduced the glycemic response of the grain meal. Insulin production post feeding was also reduced. In addition, when hay was fed, total plasma protein (TP) became significantly elevated within one hour. Interestingly, feeding only grain resulted in essentially no change in TP, even though the level of grain intake was the same that elicited a large change when hay alone was fed. Water intake was significantly influenced by time of hay feeding...

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Imprinting: The Great Debate - Full Article

by: Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
February 01 2012, Article # 19486

Horse ownership and parenting share a number of parallels. Everyone is happy for you, and everyone has advice. Articles, research, and anecdotes abound, and often they all seem to contradict. At no point does owning a horse feel more like parenting a child than after the birth of a foal.

Fortunately, owners of a new foal rarely have to consider nursing vs. formula, and the diaper debate is moot. However, when it comes to education (training), horse owners face as many conflicting viewpoints as new parents. Questions arise around the handling of the new foal: How much? How soon? Will handling the foal disrupt the bond with the mare or delay nursing? Will it make for a more tractable foal? What about imprint training?

The First Few Hours: Foal Brain and Needs

In The Lion King the hyenas gnaw happily on the haunch of a zebra. Zebras, antelope, cattle, and, yes, horses are prey animals. Their place in the circle of life is just above the grass. But unlike horned antelope and cattle, horses don't have much in the way of weapons. While the impact of a well-placed hoof can be significant, those hooves are better designed for gaining traction in flight than they are for fighting...

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Possibility of Gluten Sensitivity in Horses Examined - Full Article

by: Casie Bazay, BS, NBCAAM
May 09 2012, Article # 19990

While the exact cause of inflammatory small bowel disease (ISBD) in horses remains unknown, a group of Dutch researchers suspect that gluten intolerance could be a contributing factor of the disease. They recently tested their hypothesis and found that gluten sensitivity in horses is a possibility.

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grains. Inflammatory small bowel disease is a condition that results in malabsorption and maldigestion of feed. Common clinical signs include poor body condition, weight loss or failure to gain weight; decreased appetite, increased gastrointestinal motility, a history of mild recurrent colic, and occasionally, diarrhea.

"Concentrates designated for use in sport horses ... are containing an increased amount of (gluten-rich) wheat ... as we learned from representatives of the feed industry," noted Han Van der Kolk, PhD, DVM, a faculty member in the Department of Equine Sciences at Utrecht University's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, located in The Netherlands.

In their study, the researchers compared blood work from three groups of horses...

Read more here:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hoof Boot Inventions - Can the Past Help Us Invent the Future?

Easycare Blog - Full Article

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 by Garrett Ford

On July 31, 1790 Samuel Hopkins was issued the first patent for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer. The patent was signed by President George Washington. Hopkins was born in Vermont, but was living in Philadelphia, PA when the patent was granted.

The first patent, as well as the more than 6 million patents issued since then, can be seen on the Department of Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website at The original document is in the collections of the Chicago Historical Society.

Hoof boots and hoof protection have been a popular subject with inventors from the United States and around the world since the early 1800's. In these early years horses were used for transportion, farm work and hauling heavy loads. People depended on their horses and protecting their horses feet was a necesity. The US Patent Office database is clouded with artwork and ideas from these early years. Clever strap on horse boots and shoes of all different types are found by the hundreds. These early inventors had some ingenious ideas for hoof protection and many of the sketches found in the database still have merit today...

Read more here:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thyroid Glands in Horses - Full Article

by: Les Sellnow
July 01 1999, Article # 352

A properly functioning thyroid gland is highly important to a horse's good health. That much is easy. From there it gets more difficult and complex. Knowing when the thyroid gland is in a state of dysfunction is not easy to determine.

The problem or issue before the house, at least one researcher believes, is that the thyroid gland, in a number of instances, might be innocent of any wrongdoing and that some treatment protocols are creating problems they are seeking to remedy. That researcher is Nathaniel T. Messer IV, DVM, of the University of Missouri in Columbia. At the December, 1998, AAEP meeting in Baltimore, Messer, who conducted a good deal of research on the thyroid gland, also presented a paper that detailed the results of a study at two central Kentucky Thoroughbred farms involving low hormone levels in mares and foals.

Messer summarized the complexity of the thyroid debate with this opening statement in his presentation at Baltimore:

"There is a wide spectrum of equine clinicians with varying beliefs about thyroid disease, ranging from those who believe thyroid disease is common and often diagnose it in horses who are infertile, have laminitis, or race poorly, to those who do not even believe it exists.

"In adult horses, thyroid dysfunction is generally felt to be uncommon, and while it has been associated with a variety of clinical signs, a definitive diagnosis is often difficult. One of the reasons for this is that many endogenous and exogenous factors can affect thyroid function and sometimes test results. Serum levels of thyroid hormones vary over a wide range, and low baseline levels may be misleading, which may result in many euthyroid (normal) horses being diagnosed as hypothyroid...

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Effects of Food Deprivation on Horses' Cardiac Function - Full Article

by: Casie Bazay, BS, NBCAAM
May 04 2012, Article # 19969

A group of researchers recently evaluated how food deprivation affects a horse's autonomic nervous system and found that it slows the animals' heart rates, a conclusion opposite of the team's original hypothesis.

"We were interested in assessing ... whether fasting might reduce parasympathetic tone, (and in turn increase heart rate)," relayed James Jones, PhD, DVM, a professor of surgical and radiological sciences at the University of California, Davis. "We were concerned that fasting might result in an increased heart rate and also lead to gut stasis that can predispose a horse to colic."

The horse's autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls a number of bodily functions, includes two subsystems that control cardiac function and digestion:

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which increases heart rate while inhibiting digestion; and The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which generally slows heart rate and enhances digestion. At rest, healthy horses have a high resting parasympathetic tone, meaning their PNS dominates their SNS, resulting in a slower heart rate...

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Saturday, May 05, 2012

Hives in Horses: Symptoms and Treatment

by: A.C. Asbury, DVM
September 01 1998, Article # 539

Q: I noticed the other day that my Appaloosa gelding had hair standing up and welts on his skin. A friend suggested that he might have hives. What can you tell me about hives on horses? What kind of treatment should he have?

A: The welts or wheals that you have noticed on your horse are indeed indicative of the skin condition known as hives. The condition's proper name is urticaria, and it is characterized by these bumps, which are really localized edemas or swellings in multiple sites. The swellings result when the capillaries beneath the skin leak a clear fluid from the blood into the tissue spaces below the skin's surface.
This condition in horses is similar to hives in humans. Most cases are allergic in origin, and there are many different causes of the allergic reaction. Hives can be caused by reactions to drugs, especially to antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Other causes include allergies to food, reactions to topical drugs or ointments placed on the skin, and seasonal reactions to pollen and molds in the environment. Occasionally hives are secondary to digestive disturbances.
The welts that you have noticed occur most often on the neck and shoulder, but occasionally they can be found all over the body, including the legs. Most cases of hives are mild, but it is possible to develop a more acute case and the swellings can converge, forming a larger area. If the situation should progress to this point, it can present a difficulty, especially if the swelling impairs the horse's ability to breathe.
Another symptom of hives is itching. You may or may not have noticed your horse rubbing various areas of his body on the fence or the barn or any other surface that will provide him some relief. The intensity of the itching will vary, from mild annoyance to severe scratching at any risk. If the itching should reach the latter stage, the attempts to relieve the itching could result in injury...
Read more here:

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Feeding Management of Athletic Horses in Stressful Conditions - Full Article

By Dr. Joe Pagan · March 1, 2012

Most performance horses train and compete under a variety of stressful conditions that adversely affect health and performance. Feeding management is of critical importance to reduce many of these problems. Additionally, pre-competition feeding can significantly affect performance. Feeding management affects a number of different aspects of equine health and performance including gastrointestinal function, hydration, electrolyte status, and substrate selection during exercise. This article will review these key areas of performance horse nutrition and give practical recommendations about how to feed horses under stressful conditions.

Horses have evolved over millions of years as grazers, with specialized digestive tracts adapted to digest and utilize diets containing high levels of plant fiber. They are capable of processing large quantities of forage to meet their nutrient demands. In an attempt to maximize growth or productivity, horses are often fed diets which also contain high levels of grains and supplements. Unfortunately, this type of grain supplementation often overshadows the significant contribution that forages make in satisfying the horse’s nutrient demands.

Horses are classified anatomically as nonruminant herbivores or hindgut fermenters. The large intestine of the horse holds about 80 to 90 liters (21 to 24 gallons) of liquid and houses billions of bacteria and protozoa that produce enzymes which ferment plant fiber...

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Lush Grass: Good or Bad? - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · March 6, 2012

Horse owners and farm managers frequently use the word “lush” to describe the state of pasture forage as it begins to grow rapidly in the spring. Just exactly what does “lush” mean? Is this new grass good for horses, or dangerous for them to graze?

In defining “lush,” the dictionary uses words like “growing vigorously; lavishly productive; thriving; plentiful; delicious; savory.” Lush pasture, then, is a grazing area with plenty of abundant green forage that tempts horses to graze enthusiastically for hours on end.

Lush new spring grass, mature summer grass, and dried autumn grass contain the same basic ingredients--water, vitamins, minerals, protein, starch, and structural fiber among other things—but the proportions of these ingredients are far different depending on season. Spring grass grows very rapidly, containing a large proportion (up to 80% or more) of water. This grass is generally soft and easy to chew because the amount of indigestible fiber is less than in mature grass.

Because there is so much liquid in new spring grass, all the other components are found in lower proportions compared to mature grass, so the horse gets less starch per mouthful of grass than when grazing in the summer. However, because this soft grass is so palatable, horses tend to ingest a larger overall volume of forage, so their intake of all nutrients may actually be fairly similar in spring, summer, and early fall.

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