TABLE OF CONTENTS
Rotating and Resistance
Recommendations for deworming horses have changed over time due to the development of parasitic resistance. Rotating dewormers still is required at many boarding facilities, although this approach is just one of the reasons why resistance has developed in some horses to the common dewormers.
Fecal Egg Counts (FECs)
Rotational deworming programs have started to decrease in popularity, and the use of fecal egg counts (FEC) has become the new trend. FECs are important to have analyzed; however a low shedder does not indicate your horse is parasite-free, since FECs do not reliably get an appropriate number of eggs shed by small strongyles. This is because small strongyle eggs are only seen on a FEC if there are mature female worms shedding. The encysted form may still be present without showing up in the FEC, since they do not actively shed eggs. Another parasite commonly missed with FECs are tapeworms, since the egg of a tapeworm is too heavy to be seen on the fecal float method. Small strongyles and tapeworms are a common cause of colic, which means that monitoring the presence of these two common parasites is paramount in the fight against parasites.
Since the FEC test does not account for two of the common equine parasites, it is important to deworm your horse at least two times a year with a product that works on encysted small strongyles and tapeworms regardless of a possible low shedding result on FECs. Moxidectin and a higher dose of fenbendazole Panacur PowerPac are anthelmintics effective against encysted small strongyles. Moxidectin must be used with great caution due to the potential of overdosing. Moxidectin when used properly is a safe deworming tool. Overdoses happen when the horse's weight is not measured properly (using a weight tape), or when used in young or debilitated horses. For this reason, be sure to weigh your horse as accurately as possible, and do not deworm young or elderly horses with this product. If your horse has a recent history of gastrointestinal upset and needs to be
dewormed for suspected encysted small strongyles, use the high dose fenbendazole products instead of Quest. Praziquantel has been shown to be an effective drug against tapeworms. As a hint, any dewormer with "Plus" added onto the name typically carries praziquantel. Products containing ivermectin are still a great tool for the higher shedding horses with moderate to high FECs.
FECs are still very important to perform at least twice a year, because each horse has a different level of immunity to the common parasites. FEC results will be shared with you by your veterinarian, but what you do with those results is most important. There are three levels of FECs: low, moderate, and heavy. Low means there are less then 200 eggs per gram (epg), moderate is a range between 200-500 epg, and heavy is over 500 epg. If your horse is low, still deworm with moxidectin and a praziquantel product once a year. If your horse is moderate add a third dewormer that year, and if your horse is a heavy shedder a fourth dewormer that year is necessary. With the moderate and heavy shedders, a follow-up FEC should be performed 4-6 weeks after deworming to see if there is a resistance pattern present.
While intermittent deworming is adequate for adult horses, the immune system of foals is not quite ready to handle intestinal worms on its own. A deworming program starting at 30 to 60 days of age and continuing every 30-60 days until the foal is at least 12-18 months should be maintained. There are many effective deworming compounds (anthelmintics), that are safe for use in foals. Examples include ivermectin, pyrantel, and fenbendazole. It is important to read the label to determine the active ingredient of the product and understand if it is safe to use in foals. The body weight of the foal should be determined as accurately as possible and the appropriate amount of de-worming medication administered for that body weight. Rotation between classes of deworming medications is often recommended, but is somewhat controversial. Results of recent studies have shown that resistance to certain types of dewormers has become increasingly more common. Fecal egg count reduction tests
before and after deworming are important to determine resistance in individuals. Remember that moxidectin should never be used in foals less than 6 months of age.
Deworming strategies do not stop at the hard-to-pronounce drug names in the bright colored boxes. It is multi-faceted and includes proper pasture management, geographic location and climate, housing conditions, proper storage of the dewormers, proper dosing, choosing which horses to deworm more often depending on individual immunity, and consulting with your veterinarian. In other words, there is not a single deworming strategy recommended for all farms, so work with your veterinarian to come up with the best strategy for you and your farm.
Written by Katy Raynor, DVM, New England Equine Medical and Surgical Center - click here to read the full article
Fall is the time to stow away warmer weather horse keeping supplies and pull out those for colder weather. Take care of these things before frigid temperatures, snow, and ice enter the equation. For the infographic click here.
Blankets & Sheets
Pack up fly apparel and pull out blankets, coolers, and sheets. Put them through the laundry and inspect them to see if anything needs repairing or replacing. Make sure everything is ready to go when the cold weather hits!
Bring out heated buckets and bucket and stock tank de-icers before temperatures go below freezing. Give all buckets a good scrub now before it's too cold to do so. Keep your horse's drinking water fresh and ice-free in even the most frigid conditions!
Make sure you have enough hay to keep your horse cozy and happy through the winter! Hay prices are higher during the colder months, and no one wants to lug hay through ice and snow, so stock up before the winter snow.
Consult your vet regarding your horse's deworming plan. After the first frost, consider using a paste dewormer. Fecal tests can be helpful in determining the best deworming strategy for your horse.
Check Fence Lines
Check fence lines to make sure everything is strong and secure enough to withstand the elements. Consider raising less sturdy fences up about 6 inches in order to account for snow accumulation throughout the winter.
The bedding you use in your horse's stall affects not just the time spent cleaning it and your finances, but your horse's health as well. Consider these options before your next trip to purchase bedding. For the infographic click here.
While some types of wood shavings are more absorbent than others, shavings are all among the most popular yet less absorbent bedding options. Shavings with a lower moisture content are more absorbent than those that are more chip-like and have a higher moisture content. Softwood shavings are the most readily available and practical type. Black walnut shavings are low in cost and easily accessible, although they can be toxic to horses and should be avoided as bedding. A drawback to shavings is the dust that they create, potentially causing health problems for your horse and a fire hazard in your barn, making ventilation and barn upkeep crucial. The Cheshire Horse proudly sells quality bagged shavings from Durgin & Crowell Company in Springfield, NH which since its founding in 1976 has grown to become one of New England’s largest manufacturers of kiln-dried Eastern White Pine lumber. Softwood sawdust can also be used as bedding, although it should not be used for horses with respiratory issues, as it can be quite dusty.
Wood or Straw Pellets
Wood pellets are made by compressing kiln-dried wood and sawdust. They are three times as absorbent as shavings. The pellets expand back to sawdust when exposed to moisture, although their dust content is much lower than that of traditional shavings. Straw pellets are made by compressing straw. Transportation and storage is easy for both types of pellets, since they are usually sold by the bag. The cleaning of stalls that are bedded with pellets is similar to cleaning a cat's litter box. It's best to use rubber mats under the pellets and to remove only the manure and very saturated pellets. For this reason, the pellets last much longer in the stall than other types of bedding. This is only when the stall is cleaned properly however, and it may take some getting used to. Stalls will require more bags to begin bedding with pellets and then fewer in order to maintain them. A drawback is that in extremely cold climates, the pellets will not absorb moisture well. The Cheshire Horse stocks the following pelleted bedding:
• WoodyPet - This bedding is made from raw white soft wood shavings and sawdust. 100% biodegradable sterile wood fiber that instantly expands into three times the volume of fluffy sawdust bedding. Learn more at www.woodypet.com.
• Barefoot Bedding - This wood pellet bedding is specially formulated with clumping characteristics to reduce manure waste by 50%-70%. Produced locally in New England. Learn more at www.barefootbedding.com.
• STREUfex - This pelleted bedding is made from grain straw to create a highly absorbent and virtually dust-free bedding. Easy and efficient cleaning means savings on bedding costs. Learn more at www.streufex.com.
While straw is a very traditional bedding choice, it is not very absorbent. Urine filters through the layer of straw and settles at the bottom of the stall, sometimes creating problems with ammonia accumulation. The straw creates a barrier for manure and urine, and a significant amount of it must be used in the stall in order to create an effective barrier. An advantage to straw bedding is the ability to compost stall waste, often for gardeners, farmers, and mushroom growers. A clear disadvantage is the sheer amount of space needed to store straw bales. Since you'll go through a lot of it (roughly 5 bales per week), you'll need a lot in storage. That means dust and mold can become a problem, especially for horses or people with respiratory issues. For horses with weight control problems, straw can be a poor choice since it is edible. Straw is often preferred for those with mares in foal, since it won't cling to the wet newborn or mare the way small wood particles can with shavings.
Rubber stall mats provide a firm and level surface that makes stall-cleaning simpler while also providing cushioning for your horse. They are an investment item--expensive to purchase initially, but economical in the reduction of labor, bedding costs, and storage space needed for stall waste. The Cheshire Horse proudly sells The Rubber Man brand stall mats, which are backed by over 15 years of research and hands-on experience. They are manufactured with one purpose in mind: to provide you with the best stall flooring possible. The 100% Re-Vulcanized Rubber Mats from The Rubber Man are made from clean, shredded and natural virgin rubber, free from all foreign materials. This rubber is melted down and re-molded into solid sheets that will not crack, curl, crumble, or experience dry-rot. Mats come 4'x6' and 100lbs per mat. Learn more at www.therubberman.com.
Odor Control Products
Odor control products often include Zeolite or diatomaceous earth, which are naturally occurring minerals that absorb ammonia and reduce it in the air. They can also help with eliminating odors from any residual urine in the stall left over after bedding is cleared out. Even if there is no noticeable odor to the stall, gases are constantly being released from equine waste that can wreak havoc on your horse's lungs and respiratory health. The Cheshire Horse carries both Zeolite and diatomaceous earth products:
• Sweet PDZ - The clinoptilolite (Clino) Zeolite that comprises Sweet PDZ is one of the best at ammonia absorption and odor neutralization. It neutralizes and eliminates harmful ammonia and odors through its natural chemistry, not by covering up the odor with a masking scent. Learn more at www.sweetpdz.com.
• Stall Dry Deoderizer - This product is composed of a natural blend of food grade diatomaceous earth and clay in a granular form, which has the ability to neutralize ammonia and absorb odors and moisture. Learn more here.
Whether you're a serious endurance trail rider or an avid show ring competitor looking for a little change of pace, some time out on the trails can be a lot of fun, as long as you are adequately prepared.
Dress for the Weather
Dress in layers, and bring along or wear a wind- and water-resistant outer layer in case of weather fluctuations. In the summer, apply sunscreen before heading out and reapply during long rides. On especially hot days, consider using the innovative new Kerrits Cooltie™. Just soak in water for 20 minutes before your ride, and stay cool throughout! Bandanas can also be used in a bind as an emergency compress or to repair equipment.
No Hoof, No Horse
Don't let a lost shoe ruin your ride! Bring along an Easyboot such as the Easyboot Trail to protect the hoof and provide tread. It's also a good idea to bring a hoof pick along for the ride.
Hope for the best and plan for the worst when preparing what to bring on your ride. Bring along a first aid kit including self-adhering bandaging and gauze, wound care treatment, and adhesive tape. Duct tape is always a good idea as well, and it has many practical applications for first aid, equipment repair, and more.
Pack it all up!
Choose the pommel or cantle bag that best suits you. The Easy Care Deluxe Stowaway Pack is made to fit most Western, English, and Endurance saddles. The main center pouch is very spacious and easy to access without items falling out, and each of the side pouches can hold extra water bottles or horse boots. Whichever bag you choose, make sure it fits enough water that is easily accessible and doesn't bounce around to bother you or your horse.
Don't Forget Flycare
Nothing will ruin your ride faster than a swarm of bugs annoying you and your horse. Apply fly spray before leaving the barn, and for horses with skin sensitivities or just to maximize your horse's protection from biting insects, consider outfitting your horse with a fly sheet and/or mask. Some fly sheets are made for use while riding, and the Cashel Quiet Ride Bug Armor is a great option. You can even carry a fly whisk to keep the most subborn bugs away.
Pick a Saddle for Comfort
If you're just going on a short ride, your regular saddle may be fine, but if you spend a lot of time out on the trails, consider investing in a trail saddle. Tucker Trail Saddles feature the patented Gel-Cush™ Shock Absorbing seat to give hours of trail comfort. The GEN II Tevis Endurance Saddle features extremely close contact, centered seat and placement of the stirrup leather to put the rider in a correct equitation position for easy posting.
...and a Bridle Too!
There are many options available for alternative bridles. Those made of synthetic materials are durable, easy to clean, and inexpensive. They often easily convert into halters so that you can tie up your horse without any hassle. The Zilco Deluxe Endurance Bridle is a great option. It offers quick removal of the headstall while leaving the halter piece on your horse.
A well clipped horse will give you a competitive edge in the show ring, and it will make it easier to remove mud and dirt on your horse. It can also help avoid health problems: in climates that are humid or damp, proper grooming and clipping can help avoid fungus growth on the horse. There are many different types of clips to consider for your horse:
Full Body Clip
A full body clip includes everything from the inside of the ear to the tip of the back foot, excluding the forelock, mane, and tail. It's a personal preference whether to include the bridle path and saddle pad. With this clip, the horse must be blanketed when not in work once the weather is colder.
The entire body is clipped except for the legs, in order to provide protection from pricker bushes, as well as warmth. This clip is appropriate for field hunters and young horses in training, primarily in racing and occationally for endurance horses.
This is a good choice for a horse that is in light work and may or may not live outside. The hair is removed from the front of the neck, chest, and underside of the stomach. A strip runs from the front of the chest, just above the forearm, low across the barrel, and across the hind leg. Also take off the hair on the inside of the upper legs both front and back. Basically, clip any area where he sweats heavily and any vascular area.
A blanket clip looks like a 3/4 or exercise blanket and is excellent for a horse in heavier work living in a cold climate. It allows the sweat to evaporate more freely, but at the same time retains some of the body heat. It prevents getting a chill between exercise. The blanket pattern starts just behind the shoulder and continues across the hindquarter and up the buttock.
Working on the Nervous Horse
Sometimes it's a good idea to exercise your horse before clipping. Quite often this makes horses more willing to understand what you are doing. You might also want to consider clipping your horse in his stall, where it is quiet, he is comfortable, and there are few distractions. If you work in the aisle, make sure your horse ties or cross ties safely before beginning. It is a good idea to work on rubber mats to prevent slipping. For the truly green or nervous horse, begin by rubbing the clippers all over your horse's body, first while turned off and then while turned on. Also consider working with cordless clippers. If your horse begins acting like he could be dangerous or if he is more nervous than you are comfortable with, call the vet and ask him or her about their administering a sedative.
Clipper Shopping Tips
Sometimes a new and improved clipper is all you need to calm your horse and get the job done right. When choosing clippers, first consider the workload they'll be handling. For small trims and touch-ups on one horse, a less powerful compact unit may serve you well. For larger jobs on more horses, you'll need a more powerful machine. For nervous horses, try a quiet running machine that gives a faster clip. Always err on the side of power and performance. Heavier duty clippers work faster, stay cooler, and last longer -- ultimately giving you the most bang for your buck. Save yourself the frustration of burning out small clippers on big jobs. Shop Clippers
Maintain the life and effectiveness of your clippers by utilizing the following tips:
Clean Horse: Always start with a clean and dry horse. Sweat, wet hair, and dust can dull your blades and jam your clipper.
Clean as You Go: Clean your blade as you work, stroking it with a small brush to remove loose hair. Oil the blade every 10-15 minutes as you work. Pour some oil into a shallow cap and hold the teeth of the blade in it with the clipper running. Make sure you do not allow the oil to flow into the body of the clipper.
Use Coolant: If you are working on a big job and haven't oiled regularly, the blades may get hot. A good spray coolant will cool the clippers immediately. Oil your blade after using the cooling spray in order to lubricate the blade.
Protect the Cord: A damaged cord is dangerous, so make sure neither you nor your horse step on it. Immediately replace a damaged cord, or switch to a rechargeable cordless clipper.
Clean After Use: After you have finished clipping your horse, remove the blade from the clipper and brush off any loose hair or dirt from both the clipper and blade. Re-attach the blade. With the clipper running, run the blades in a shallow cup of blade cleaner such as Andis Blade Care Plus to prevent corrosion.
Maintain Blades: If your blades become dull, bring them to a blade sharpening service. The Cheshire Horse offers blade sharpening for very reasonable rates. Call 877-358-3001 to learn more. Blades can be sharpened many times, but eventually you may have to replace dull old blades with new ones.
Proper Storage: Loop your cord, and secure it with a twist-tie or other strap. Do not wrap the cord around the clipper, as this will cause internal twisting and damage the cord connections. Store in a safe, dry place.
Clipping and grooming tips courtesy of Andis Clippers and master body clipper Dana Boyd-Miller.
Dressage riders are required to dress formally in recognized competition. Current and retired members of the Armed Services and police units are permitted to wear their respective uniform.
The dress code for all Dressage tests and classes through Fourth Level is a short riding coat of conservative color, with tie, choker or stock tie, white or light-colored breeches or jodhpurs, boots or jodhpur boots, and protective headgear. A cutaway coat (modified tailcoat) with short tails is permitted. Half chaps, gaiters and/or leggings are not allowed. Gloves of conservative color are recommended. Exception: Riders through First Level may wear half-chaps, gaiters or leggings in solid black or brown, without fringe, matching the color of their boots, and made of smooth leather or leather-like material.
Coat: Choose a dressage coat in black or navy. This is the most important part of your outfit. The Feather Lite Dressage Coat by Romfh (pictured at left) is a great option. Dressage coats differ from hunt coats in that they have four buttons, while hunt coats have only three.
Ties: Accent a show shirt with a stock tie for women or with a conservatively colored tie for men.
Breeches: White breeches are most common in dressage competition. Full seat breeches help the rider stick in the saddle. A conservative belt will polish off your look.
Boots and Half Chaps: Tall dress boots or field boots in black are most common in the dressage ring. The Mountain Horse Firenze Dress Boots and Petrie Olympic Dress Boots are both great options. At lower levels, you may instead wear paddock boots and half chaps that match in color and closely resemble the look of a tall boot. A good option is the Tredstep DeLuxe Leather Half Chap.
Gloves: Not only will gloves complete your look, they also protect your hands from blisters and help provide grip on the reins. They are usually white in the dressage ring, although black is also acceptable. Gloves can be found in a variety of fabrics. Choose the best style and fabric for your budget and comfort.
Spurs must be made of metal. The shank must be either curved or straight pointing directly back from the center of the spur when on the rider’s boot. If the shank is curved, the spurs must be worn only with the shank directed downwards. However, swan necked spurs are allowed. The inside arm of the spur must be smooth and one or both arms may have rubber covers. If rowels are used, they must be blunt/smooth and free to rotate. Metal spurs with round hard plastic knobs on the shank are allowed (“Impuls” spur). “Dummy” spurs with no shank are also allowed.
Spurs: A few good options for spurs that are appropriate for use in dressage competition include the Korsteel Tom Thumb Prince of Wales Dressage Spurs, Korsteel Swan Neck Spurs, and Stubben Soft Touch Spurs.
Hunter riders will get a competitive edge by dressing conservatively and neatly. Current and retired members of the Armed Services and police units are permitted to wear their respective uniform.
Riders are required to wear scarlet or dark coats; white shirts with white stock; white, buff or canary breeches and protective headgear.brown, without fringe, matching the color of their boots, and made of smooth leather or leather-like material.
Coat: If you're a member of a recognized hunt and have earned your colors in the field, you may wear a red coat. Otherwise, choose a dark colored coat. Patterns that appear solid at a distance are acceptable.
Shirt: Your shirt should be white, and it should match your coat. You can choose a long-sleeved, short-sleeved, or sleeveless shirt. For equitation classes, consider a monagram on your shirt collar.
Breeches: Choose white or tan colored breeches in either a front- or side-zip style. Pair breeches with a conservative belt that matches your boots.
Boots: Tall, black leather boots are best for adult riders. The Ariat Heritage Contour Field Boot and the Ariat Challenge Contour Field Boot are excellent options.
Gloves: Choose black gloves for the hunter ring. There is a wide variety of styles and fabrics of gloves available, so shop around to see what works best for you, and be sure to ride in your gloves prior to competition.
Helmet: Protective headgear is mandatory and should be ASTM/SEI certified. Black helmets with minimal ornamentation are suitable in hunter competition. Long hair should be completely contained within your helmet underneath a hair net.
In the jumper ring, a wider variety of attire is acceptable, although you should always aim for a neat appearance in competition. Current and retired members of the Armed Services and police units are permitted to wear their respective uniform.
Black, blue, green, grey, scarlet or similar coats are permitted; white or fawn breeches; a white tie, choker or hunting stock, and a white or lightly colored shirt must be worn. Shirts must have a white collar and white cuffs. Management, at its discretion, may allow competitors to compete without riding coats. If a riding coat is not worn, riders must wear a shirt with a collar or a choker, neatly tucked into riding breeches. A windbreaker jacket or raincoat may be worn if conditions require.
Coat: Choose a coat in a color that compliments both you and your horse. For jumper competition, a coat with some stretch will allow mobility in the saddle.
Shirt: Your shirt should be light-colored with a collar. You can choose a long-sleeved, short-sleeved, or sleeveless shirt. For more informal competitions, well-fitted polo shirts are acceptable.
Breeches: Choose white or tan colored breeches in either a front- or side-zip style. Pair breeches with a belt for a professional, put-together look.
Boots: Tall, black leather boots are best for adult riders. The Ariat Heritage Contour Field Boot and the Ariat Challenge Contour Field Boot are excellent options. Boots should be clean and polished.
Gloves: Gloves are optional, although common in the jumper ring. There is a wide variety of styles and fabrics of gloves available, so shop around to see what works best for you, and be sure to ride in your gloves prior to competition.
Helmet: Protective headgear is mandatory and should be ASTM/SEI certified. Long hair should be tucked into your helmet, preferably with a hairnet.
Western riders should appear polished and conservatively dressed, paying careful attention to their silhouette on the rail. Color plays a very important role in the impression that you make in the show ring, and you should take into consideration your horse's coloring
. Also remember that you should dress to play up your strengths: dark colors minimize, while light colors emphasize.
Riders must wear Western hat; long-sleeved shirt any type of collar, trousers or pants and boots; (a one-piece long-sleeved equitation suit is acceptable provided it includes any type of collar). Chaps, shotgun chaps and spurs are optional unless riders are showing in trail or pleasure class. A vest, jacket, coat and/or sweater may also be worn. Protective headgear may be worn without penalty; not required.
Shirt: A show shirt is the foundation of your western show outfit, and a tailored, flattering fit is crucial. Traditional, solid-colored blouses are a timeless, budget-friendly look. They are preferred for those who show in events like reining or cutting, where freedom of movement is paramount. Rhinestones, patterns, and color can help riders stand out and shine in rail classes.
Pants: Classic jeans can work, but they can often make for a bulky fit under chaps. The best choice is a pair of fitted pants with a hint of stretch. You can even consider trying English breeches. Just make sure they have belt loops wide enough for your western belt! Pants should always match your chaps in color.
Chaps: Chaps are the most important element of a winning western wardrobe. A flattering fit will set the tone for your entire ensemble. They should hang snugly off your waist, and they should cover your pants belt when you are mounted. There should not be any gapping at the front of your thigh. They must be long enough to cover your boot heel when in the saddle.
Belts and Buckles: A plain belt that matches your pants and chaps is the most flattering look. Western belt buckles come in an endless variety of shapes and sizes. Always choose a buckle that is proportionate to you. If you can, wear the buckle you just won.
Boots: Think about how your boots will look peeking out from under your chaps, through your stirrup. Match the color to your chaps. Fatbaby styles should be avoided in the show ring, since they can break up the clean line under your chaps.
Hat: Subtle differences in quality, shape, and maintenance of your hat expose the horseperson underneath. Your hat should fit comfortably and stay on in a stiff breeze, and it should flatter your facial structure as well as punctuating the rest of your outfit. Generally your hat should match your chaps, although a bright white hat can help you stand out with dark chaps.
Accessories: These are the finishing touches to help you stand out. Earrings will frame your face and harmonize your look. They should be about an inch in diameter or smaller. Avoid dangling earrings, which can be distracting an uncomfortable. A scarf helps complete your look and add some flair.
Spurs: Your spurs should be effective on your horse, but they should also look nice. Spur straps can sport pretty buckles or fancy straps with conchos and tooling.
If your horse resists your commands, he's probably trying to tell you that he's uncomfortable with the bit and the pressure on his tongue. Bits can only do two things: cause resistance or cause relaxation. Tongue pressure plays an important role in resistance. When a horse is resisting a bit, he's really evading tongue pressure because the bit is interfering with his ability to swallow.
Recognizing the Signs of Resistance
Horses resist the bit to find more tongue relief. These signs of resistance are most often associated with the bit:
When your horse is resisting the bit, you need to find a bit that gives him more tongue relief than the bit you are currently using.
Selecting a Bit for Your Horse
Every horse and rider combination has specific needs for a bit. As the needs of horse and rider change over time, it may become necessary to reevaluate the bit you are using. Knowing the equine mouth is crucial to proper bitting. Points of pressure caused by the bit are shown below:
Transitioning to a New Bit
Once you've selected a bit, it's time to introduce your horse to it. We recommend that you introduce any new bit in a safe, closed environment, such as a round pen or arena. There are two exercise we recommend as transition exercises: vertical flexion and lateral flexion.
To practice vertical flexion, stand next to your horse's head and lift the reins at the withers until you make light contact. Hold the contact until your horse give to the bit, even slightly, then immediately release. Do this on both sides until your horse is relaxed and flexing at the poll.
To practice lateral flexion, stand next to your horse and lift the rein, but ask him to bend his neck and turn toward you. When he does, release him immediately. Perform this exercise on both sides until he is relaxed and flexing laterally. Then repeat both exercises from the saddle.
Regardless of the discipline that you ride, joint care is important for keeping your horses happy and healthy. The many options available for joint care products can be overwhelming. To help you determine the best one for your horse, first you need to understand the major ingredients in these supplements.
Glucosomine is the basic building block for healthy cartilage and connective tissue. It helps to lubricate joints and rebuild cartilage, as well as to reduce inflammation from muscle soreness, arthritis, torn cartilage, and joint degeneration. Glucosamine can come in pure manufactured form, or it can be isolated from shellfish, or even vegetable sources (good for horses with shellfish allergies). The quality and efficacy of glucosamine can vary greatly, so invest in a product you trust.
Chondroitin sulfate is a major structural component of cartilage, bone, and tough connective tissues. A loss of chondroitin sulfate from the cartilage is a major cause of osteoarthritis. Chondroitin sulfate is usually extracted from bovine cartilage. Research has shown that glucosamine and chondroitin seem to work better together than they do separately.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Hyaluronic Acid (also known as hyaluronate or HA) is a component of the cartilage and joint fluid that helps lubricate the joints and absorb shock. It can be effective in controlling pain, heat, and swelling, and it is often used to treat acute joint flare-ups where heat and swelling are present. Liquid forms cost more but seem to be more effective than powdered forms.
MSM is an organic sulfur compound that is manufactured. Although it is still not clear exactly how MSM works, it is an effective anti-inflammatory agent found in a lot of joint supplements. MSM helps reduce pain and aids in increasing circulation, which helps the healing process. MSM also helps rebuild damaged tissue. It is a relatively cheap ingredient that can be purchased separately from your joint supplement.
Yucca is a natural plant agent that helps diminishes the amount of toxic buildup around and within the joints. It effectively diminishes inflammation.
Vitamin C plays an important role in keeping cartilage and connective tissue healthy. It helps the body rebuild healthy tissue and helps reduce inflammation. However, this is an ingredient where more is not better, so be mindful if your horse is already receiving Vitamin C from fresh grass or other sources.
Cetylated Fatty Acids (Cetyl Myristoleate or CMO)
Cetyl Myristoleate is a fatty acid that can help with pain and protect cartilage, especially when combined with other joint care ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin. It proved to block inflammation and prevent arthritis in studies done with mice.
Avocado and Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)
Avocado and soybean unsaponifiables are plant fats that have been extracted and purified. Studies have shown that ASU can help protect against cartilage breakdown and overall inflammation. As with cetyl myristoleate, it is a slow-acting ingredient that may be very effective in the long-term.
Harpagophytum (Devil’s Claw)
Devil’s Claw is a plant in the sesame family whose roots have been used medicinally for centuries to reduce pain and stimulate digestion. European colonists even brought devil’s claw to the US where it was widely used it to treat arthritis.
Grapeseed extract is derived from whole grape seeds, and has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve bone density.
Silica has been shown to help keep tendons and ligaments strong. Researchers first studied communities living in remote areas of Georgia (near Russia) where the ground water carried high concentrations of silica. The people and animals living in these regions were virtually free of arthritis and joint problems. Adding silica to your joint care program could offer improved bone development and health over the long term.
No one likes pesky insects. For your horses, they can cause a variety of issues, from minor behavioral problems to painful Sweet Itch. Many insects are carriers of disease, also putting your horse at risk for serious medical conditions such as Lyme disease or West Nile Virus. Fortunately, there's a wide variety of measures you can take to control your horse's exposure to flies, and The Cheshire Horse can help!
Fly sprays are the most common method of controlling insects. We offer a great variety of fly sprays that come with different active ingredients, from the strongest permethrin-based product to the gentlest blend of essential oils. Roll-on and ointment repellents can be used for the horse's face and other sensitive areas. Spot-on treatments contain higher concentrations of repellent, and they are applied less frequently, requiring less maintenance than sprays. Shop our large selection of Fly Repellents here.
Fly Sheets, fly masks, and leg guards provide a physical barrier between insects and the horse. They're available for use in turnout or while riding. Fly apparel is a cost- and labor-effective method that can be a great option for sensitive horses. Fly sheets and masks have the added benefit of UV protection. Some are also made with insect repellent fabric, such as the Amigo Bug Buster by Horseware
, pictured at left. Shop all Fly Apparel here and here.
There are three main types of fly traps. The first is the odor trap, which uses attractants to lure and catch flies including house flies, flesh flies, bottle flies, and eye gnats. The second is the sticky trap, which uses shapes and bright colors to attract, trap, and kill flies. The third kind of trap is the biting fly trap, which is the only type of trap that will catch biting stables flies. Fly traps work best if you use a combination of the three and place them around the border of your facility. Shop all Fly Tape & Traps here
Spalding Labs Fly Predators
Fly Predators from Spalding Labs are tiny biteless flies that destroy pest flies in their cocoon stage. According to Spalding Labs, "Fly Predators serve as a major check of pest fly populations by destroying the next generation of flies in their immature pupa (cocoon) stage." To learn more, visit www.spalding-labs.com
To maximize the effectiveness of Fly Predators, begin spreading them in all manure areas when daytime temperatures reach the 60s. Additional Fly Predators should be spread every 3-4 weeks as well, because pest flies reproduce nine times faster. To purchase Spalding Labs Fly Predators, visit either The Cheshire Horse location and fill out an order form.
Feed Through Fly Prevention
There are a number of oral supplements that can be used to deter flying insects. This is a great option for sensitive horses. These supplements commonly contain garlic, thiamine, and/or brewer's yeast, which are reported to keep pest flies away. Some also include ingredients to reduce manure odor and pest attraction, as well as to interrupt the fly’s reproduction cycle. Pictured at right is The Cheshire Horse Garlic
, a human-grade supplement to protect against flies, ticks, mosquitoes and gnats. Shop all Feed Through Fly Prevention here.
Prevention & Manure Management
Manure management is one of the most important ways to reduce fly populations. Cleaning stalls daily and paddocks weekly can help to eliminate the fly eggs before they hatch. Composting manure is one of the best options in climates that get regular rain. The heat created by decomposition prevents larva from surviving below the outer surface of the pile. Stirring or shifting the pile can help speed decomposition. Other methods of prevention include eliminating unnecessary standing water, regularly cleaning buckets and feeders, and providing a regular source of airflow for your horses (e.g. with fans). Shop Stable Supplies here.
Polo wraps are usually made from fleece material, and they are generally used to protect horses' legs during exercise. They can be used as an alternative to boots. The wrap material is slightly stretchy, providing support to the tendons and ligaments. Polo wraps can be applied so they fit a wide range of horses and ponies, since they come in different lengths. They can be used to cover an injury, since they are soft enough that they won't damage scar tissue or rub a wound. Shop polo wraps here
Training bandages offer more support than polo wraps, and they are ideal for horses in work. These generally are more stretchy than a polo wrap. They help support the tendons and ligaments, and they can be applied a little more snugly than traditional polo wraps. Training bandages are best applied by an experienced professional, since if applied too tightly they can cause damage to the horse's legs. Shop training bandages here
Standing wraps are less stretchy than polo wraps, and they are more supportive. Legs are generally wrapped in a two-step process in order to allow proper circulation throughout the leg. First the leg is wrapped in a cushioned wrap often referred to as a pillow wrap or a no-bow wrap. Next, the leg is wrapped in a standing wrap to provide support. Standing wraps can be used for injury, shipping, reduction of post work swelling, and more. Shop standing wraps here
. Shop pillow wraps here
Open Front Boots
Open front boots are most often used on hunter and jumper horses. These boots are used primarily on the front legs, and they provide support to the tendons and ligaments while leaving the front of the leg open so that the horse can feel a knocked rail while jumping. Fetlock or ankle boots are sometimes used on the hind legs as well. These help protect the horse's hind legs from interference and damage from hitting the legs together. Shop open front boots here
. Shop fetlock boots here
Splint boots, sometimes referred to as brushing boots, are one of the most versatile boots available. These boots can be used for riding, lunging, or turnout. Splint boots help protect the legs from interference and damage from hitting each other. They usually have three or four straps for adjustability and come in a variety of sizes and colors, as well as materials, the most common being neoprene or leather. They can be lined with foam or fleece for added protection. Shop splint boots here
Galloping boots are similar to splint boots, although they offer more protection and are often worn on both the front and hind legs. Galloping boots protect the cannon bone and the pastern, whereas splint boots only protect the cannon bone. They are often worn while galloping or for riding cross country. Some galloping boots are made just for the front or hind legs, while others can be used for either. Shop galloping boots here
Performance boots are made of a ventilated neoprene material with a shock absorbing material in between the layers of neoprene. The ventilation properties of these boots make them breathable and allow heat and moisture to escape from the horse's leg. Performance boots cover the entire cannon bone area, providing support to every structure of the leg. These boots support the fetlock and suspensory ligament with the added fetlock strap. Shop performance boots here
Bell boots, sometimes referred to as overreach boots, protect the back of the pastern to prevent overreaching (when the hind end clips the front end). Bell boots are worn on horses while jumping, working in mud or other slippery surfaces, riding cross country, lunging, and occasionally for turnout and/or shipping. They are most commonly made of rubber, and they either slip over the hoof or open with Velcro or other fastenings. Shop bell boots here
Shipping boots protect the lower legs of a horse while travelling in a horse trailer. They start just below the knee or hock and end at the floor, protecting the cannon bone, tendons, fetlock, pastern, coronet, and heels of the horse while in transit. Shipping boots can be used for travel as a faster alternative to standing bandages and pillow wraps. Shop shipping boots here
Turnout vs. Stable
Turnout blankets are designed to be worn outdoors regardless of the weather. They're waterproof, breathable, and more durable than stable blankets. A properly fitting stable blanket tends to weigh a little less than a turnout, putting less pressure on your horses while they are in the barn. If your horse is stabled inside at night and turned out during the day, a good option is to use a stable blanket with a turnout sheet over it while your horse is outside. Shop turnout blankets here
and stable blankets here
Denier: What is it? And what do the numbers mean?
Denier is a word used to describe the threading and how tightly woven the fabric of the blanket is. The higher the number, the tougher the outer shell of the blanket. Generally, higher denier blankets also tend to have a stronger waterproofing. Most people will not go lower than 600 denier for their turnout sheets or blankets. A 1200+ denier blanket is the best choice for horses that are tough on blankets or who are turned out with other horses that tend to be rough on blankets. Ballistic nylon is the toughest type of blanket and is the least likely to tear.
Lite, Medium, and Heavy
A lite weight blanket generally refers to a sheet with no fill. A medium weight blanket usually has between 180-220 grams of poly fill. A heavy weight usually has between 300-370 grams of poly fill. Some companies make an extra heavyweight blanket which has closer to 400 grams of fill. There are some blankets that offer 100 grams of fill, which is a great weight for horses on an day too warm for a medium weight but still too chilly for just a sheet!
How should my horse's blanket fit?
The neck area
should be snug -- not too tight and not too loose! A blanket that is too loose through the neck will tend to slide back and can put a lot of pressure on your horse's withers. A blanket that is too tight tends to rub the shoulder area and withers. You should be able to run your hand between the blanket and your horse.
The chest area should overlap slightly on either side. When the blanket overlaps a little bit, it will help keep your horse's chest warm and less drafty. You should be able to buckle the chest buckles tight enough to help hold the slight overlap in the blanket.
The sides of the blanket should drop down far enough so you cannot see your horses belly, but should not be far enough down to reach your horses knee or hock. If your blanket is too short, your horse will lose some heat from the belly area.
The hindquarter area should be covered entirely, but the blanket should not reach all the way around to the tail unless the blanket has a tail flap.