Your Horses Will Thank You for Using Bev’s Equine Magic Salve.

Every once in a while, a product is created that actually does what it says it is going to do.  I have been working on such a product for over 10 years and finally came up with a solution to an ongoing problem with horses; they get cuts and abrasions, some of them on a daily basis.  So many horseman in my travels throughout my 40 plus years with horses, have shared some wonderful tips and tricks that I have so often used.  Many of them gave me ideas that required some testing with a scientific approach in mind.  Gradually, I stumbled upon a combination of natural healing products that are about to make a difference in equine wound care.

If you have horses that are always getting hurt, you are in need of a product that helps each horse to get over this incident as quickly as possible and will put your mind at ease at the same time. When a horse has a cut or abrasion, the first thing you want to do is protect the wound from the outside environment, from dirt, insects, bacteria and infection. The next concern is inflammation at the site, pain to the animal and of course you want to help the wound to heal quickly. After many trials and tribulations, I have created the perfect salve that will take care of each one of these issues. I now have the product that you need and I am willing to do a low introductory offer to get my fellow horsemen to try it.  Once you use Bev’s Equine Magic Salve, you will know that this is a necessity in your barn.  It shields the wound, reduces inflammation and pain, and accelerates scab formation, usually within hours of applying it and that is how Mother Nature at her best, intended wounds to be healed. After using this product, you will never look at a wound in the same way as before, because you know that you have Bev’s and that wound will be dried and protected in just a short time, not really an issue anymore. This salve was named after several horsemen tried it and told me it worked like magic.

So I hope that you will help your horse and yourself by trying my new and revolutionary natural product, Bev’s Equine Magic Salve, which you can order through my websites, Bev’s Equine Products or Bev’s Horse Advice. Here at BevWebb, LLC we mean what we say and we say what we mean. This product really works or you get your money back.

Posted in General Horse Info, Medications | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Important Is Fresh Water To Horses? And, Ways To Keep Water Troughs Cool On Sweltering Hot Days.

We as human beings have multiple and unending means of having a cool fresh drink. Go to the fridge, stop at the gas station, or carry a cooler with us full of ice and cold drinks. Take a moment to think about the fact that the only refreshments animals have, that are under our care, is the water we supply for them. There is the occasional rain or thunderstorms that freshen up their water troughs and wets down their bodies, but other than that they depend on us everyday for an essential nutrient – water. Yes, water is a nutrient which means they cannot survive without it. Of course this is something that we all know, but do we realize how much of a life line we are for our horses once we place them in a stall, small paddock or pasture, especially during the brutally hot months.

In the sweltering heat, we and our horses MUST KEEP HYDRATED. I don’t know about you, but when I am extremely thirsty, the very last thing I want to do is drink hot water or a hot soda or a hot juice drink. Well, when you have a fifty gallon or one hundred gallon or even a larger sized trough full of water and it is sitting in the hot sun all day, it can become warm or even hot. Now if you have just ridden your horse and he or she has been sweating profusely, you give them a bath, and do not ask them if they would like some fresh cool water while you are walking them off, then when you turn them out into their pasture, the only water they have to drink is warm or even hot water. This may be unappealing and there is a possibility that your horse may pass up on drinking and start eating. So now your horse is thirsty, may be standing in the sun while grazing and is sweating more. Horses know that later in the evening the water will get cooler. The problem is that in the sweltering heat, waiting hours to re-hydrate can be unhealthy. Dehydration is a serious problem. Humans and horses can become dizzy, disoriented, nauseous and even faint. Dehydration can lead into many other problems and even death. So, my point is that you can take a few extra steps in helping to keep your water troughs cool, clean and appealing.

First, be prepared to have a brush in hand and clean out your troughs as much as one, two or three times a week. Slime, backwash from the horses mouths after they have eaten their grain, bugs, and bird droppings, among other contaminates, are all things that happen on a daily basis. I first scrub all the walls and bottom of the trough as much as possible before I take out the water. I leave a little in the bottom and finish cleaning the tub or trough. Then rinse out the trough and fill it. Not so hard. Ok, nice sparkling tub for about one day, if you are lucky. The next day after I feed, I check all the tubs to see how cool they are from the evening. If all is well, I check the troughs again around noon time for coolness. If the tubs are hot, I take a siphon hose and siphon out either half or all of the water depending on how hot the day is supposed to be and how warm or hot the water is. Then of course, fill the tub to the desired amount. If you only have two horses in the field and you have a 100 gallon tub, you can probably fill it half way. Then after I feed up in the late afternoon or evening, I check the tubs for coolness again, and if they are not as cool as I would like, then I put the hose back in the bottom of the trough and then let the water run over the top of the trough for a little while. Believe it or not, horses appreciate it when you freshen up their water or clean the tubs. They always come over nosing around not to mention, get in the way, pull on your hair and clothes and grab the brush, and then start drinking as soon as the fresh water starts out of the hose. When I was at the racetrack, every time I put fresh water in a bucket, the horse would always come to drink. Properly hydrated horses will hold their weight better, carry a much brighter coat, and perform at a higher level. A horse that is dehydrated does not feel well, has a dull coat, may not be eating as well as usual and can become lethargic and listless.

Remember, horses usually drink after they have eaten so try to freshen up the water before they finish eating their grain.

These actions may seem so trivial but I can assure you that you never want to see a horse with heat exhaustion of which, dehydration is the first step in this direction. It is a horrible sight to see and they can expire in as little as ten minutes. If you try to put your troughs under a tree, you will have to deal with leaves in the water and a lot of dirt falls from trees too. Once you get into the habit of cleaning your troughs often and refreshing their water daily, this will be just another chore that you perform for the animals that you so dearly love. I would venture to say that horses that have fresh clean cool water on a daily basis, probably in my opinion, will drink at least twice as much water if not more. After you see how much more water your horses drink and how much better it helps them to feel in the heat, you won’t think twice about doing it any other way.

Posted in General Horse Info, Horse Equipment, Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , | 181 Comments

Horse Bandages: Identifying Different Types, Their Uses And How To Apply Them.

Some horses may go their entire life and never have a bandage put on their legs. Other horses have bandages put on their legs every single day.

First, the names of these bandages and their uses are:  

  1. Standing Bandages: these are in two parts. There is the under bandage that goes next to the leg and the outer bandage that goes over the under bandage and can either be made of flannel or a nylon type of material. You can use special pins to finish up the bandaging or most bandages now have Velcro. The under bandage can be quilt like, or sheep skin as well as other design types and different materials. Usually for horses, the front leg bandages would be twelve inches, fourteen inches for the back legs, ponies maybe ten inches for the front legs, twelve inches for the back legs. The purpose of these bandages is that performance horses have tremendous stress not only put on their body but also their legs. Liniments and poultices are used under the bandages in order to give the horse some relief from the stress. Knowing how to apply bandages properly is crucial as you can very easily cause severe damage to your horses’ legs, the most common would be what is called a bandage bow which involves the tendon. Take your under bandage and roll it up. Take the outer bandage and if it has Velcro, start at the Velcro end, roll the bandage in towards the strip that the Velcro attaches to. Try to roll the bandage as tight as possible keeping the edges flush. Stand on the left side of your horses leg, bend down facing the side of the leg, taking the under bandage with the way you are going to unravel the bandage facing the front of the horse on the inside of the leg with your left hand. Take your right hand, hold the bandage close to the horses’ leg right under the knee, at the same time using your left hand to start unraveling the bandage towards the front of the horse and then towards you, then switch hands still holding the bandage tightly, using your right hand to take the bandage around the back of the leg across the tendon to meet the beginning of the bandage, switching hands again until you come to the end of the bandage. Hold the end of the bandage with the right hand while taking the outer bandage with left hand, starting on the opposite side of the leg, going in the same direction, towards the front and then towards you then to the back, unrolling in a downward motion until you get to the end of the bandage and start your way back up to the top making sure you finish covering the whole bandage. The most important part is, when you are rolling the second bandage, snug the bandage up JUST A LITTLE against the cannon bone. NEVER pull the bandage snug against the tendon. When you finish, you should have a neat looking bandage that is not so high that it is over the top of the knee, and not so low that goes past the bottom of the ankle or is around the pastern. It must not be too tight, and you should easily be able to put your finger under the outer wrap, in between the layers without forcing it. This is CRUCIAL that you do not have the bandage too tight across the tendon. The object is for the bandage to be snug enough to stay up on the horses’ leg without falling down but not too snug that it will cause damage to the leg. It is not easy when you are first learning, but with practice it will become very elementary.
  2. Polo Bandages: These are used while the horse is being exercised. This protects the leg and in the very cold climate, I feel is important in keeping the ligaments and tendons warm and supple. These bandages are kind of fuzzy and thick and they all have Velcro. You apply these in the same manner and precautions as the standing bandage except that you only have one bandage to apply. The only difference is when you come to the bottom and are going around the ankle, you do what is called a figure eight so you do not interfere with the horses motion and keeping it comfortable for them. The way you do this is very simple. When you come to the top of the ankle, instead of bringing the wrap around in a straight line, go down and around the bottom of the ankle and up the other side and when you look at the front of the bandage, you should see an upside down V. Some people like to go around and do another figure eight over top of the previous one, then back up the leg and use the Velcro to secure the bandage. Most horseman will also put a pin at the top. Having a polo come off in mid-stride is EXTREMELY dangerous. Only those that have practiced putting on bandages should be applying polo’s.  
  3. The other two important bandages are ace bandages and vet wraps. Some people use ace bandages instead of polo’s and are applied in the same manner with the figure eight at the bottom, usually one or two pins are used to secure the bandage. The pins would be put on the top of the outside of the leg, just under the side of the knee. Vet wraps are usually used when horses are racing. These bandages are very tough and durable and take quit a beating on the race track but they get the job done and are also applied with a figure eight. Vet wraps are used a lot when putting a specific bandage on a horses’ foot. This of course would usually be because of an injury or perhaps an abscess and the horse would be in the stall.
These are just some of the basic bandages that I am familiar with and they all have their distinctive uses. So my advice to you in getting a good grade for applying bandages is, practice makes perfect.
Please be sure to comment or let me know if this article was helpful.  I would love to hear from you! Bev
Posted in First time Horse Owner, General Horse Info, Horse Grooming | 25 Comments

Blacksmiths: What Part Do They Play in Your Horse’s Life and How Important Are They?

As you have heard me say before, I am old school and one of the old school sayings is “No feet, no horse.” As you become more involved in the horse world, the more you will understand this saying. One reason is because if your horse is not trimmed properly or shod, (means putting shoes on your horse), properly, they will not put their feet down as they should which is supporting their body weight, and of course, they will start shifting their weight onto other areas that were not designed for this task such as tendons and ligaments. Horses with sore feet cannot perform very well. When a horse is moving and shifting his or her weight because of sore feet, we are talking about hundreds of pounds. Add the weight of a human being on their back, and you are headed for what could be a serious situation for the health of the horse. This in turn can cause a horse to become sore in one or more areas, and this soreness can become severe and take weeks or months to remedy after the horses’ feet have been corrected.

Let me start at the very beginning. When a mare has a foal at her side, as you are teaching this new jewel in your life about being handled, teaching them to pick up their feet should be an important part of their schooling. As they learn to pick up their feet, then teach them to stand while you are picking out their feet. After weaning your foal, have a blacksmith come and start trimming their feet. If this individual has issues with conformation, now is the time to start the process. A blacksmith can look at your weanling’s confirmation, watch the way they walk and move, and perhaps help them so that later in life their movements will be more efficient, causing less problems down the road. Waiting until a horse has completely developed and is considered an adult is not the best time to try and change their way of movement. Sometimes this can do more harm than good. Minor changes at this age and older is fine, but beyond that can sometimes get you and your horse into trouble, so be cautious.

If you have just acquired a new horse, make arrangements for a blacksmith to come and take a look at your horse’s feet. Explain the newness of this horse, what your intentions are for this particular horse and you can discuss the options of either putting shoes on the horse or just leaving them “barefoot”.

As you probably know, there are many different types of sports that involve horses. This in turn will involve a much more detailed type of shoeing. A race horse will need a very light shoe that will help them to grip the ground and insure firm footing. A reigning horse will need a shoe that will help them when they are doing their difficult sliding stops. A cutting horse will need a shoe that does not interfere with their extreme motions from side to side, at the same time, helps them from slipping and sliding. Dressage horses need a heavier shoe as they need to place their feet firmly and strongly onto the ground when in competition. Each sporting horse will have their own specific needs and requirements for shoeing. It is a very important part of their being able to perform to the best of their ability. Remember, a horse will follow the shoe on his or her foot. If the shoe is not put on properly, your horse will not move as they should.

Now, if you are using your horse for a very difficult and demanding sport, you may need at some point what is called “corrective shoeing”. Sometimes performance horses, because of confirmation flaws, will interfere and start to develop problems such as hitting themselves or scalping themselves. Basically, they are damaging a part of their body, usually the opposite pastern, ankle or even their hock with their foot. A knowledgeable and experienced blacksmith can usually help a horse to overcome problems such as this. Make no mistake, especially when the stakes get higher with higher competition, a good blacksmith is worth their weight in gold. A great blacksmith goes far beyond that.

How do you find a good blacksmith? My suggestion is from word of mouth. If you are just starting with horses, find a large farm or stables and stop in and ask them what blacksmith they use. Usually, any horse person will be more than willing to help out a fellow horseman. Also, large tack shops or your local feed store can guide you in the right direction. If you get recommendations from several horsemen for a blacksmith that might be slightly higher than others in the area, be reluctant to look the other way.  A few dollars now can save you hundreds if not thousands later. Good Luck!

Posted in First time Horse Owner, General Horse Info, Hoof Care | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bad Behavioral Problems With Horses, Identifying The Causes, Solving The Problem.

Throughout my many years of watching horses, I have seen my share of bad horse behavior. Always the very first question I ask myself is, “What would cause that horse to behave in that way?” I take a look at the behavior of the people that are handling that particular animal.  Next, I would take notice to the physical condition of the horse, whether he or she is under or overweight, what kind of equipment is being used on the horse and exactly what it is that is being asked of this particular animal.

All horses cannot be all things. Thoroughbreds, even though they are bred to do so, may not want to be a race horse. Not all horses can be pleasure horses or jumping horses or horses for young children. Just as we all have different desires, so do horses. They cannot sit and tell you what it is that they prefer to do but they can relate this to you by their actions. If you consistently ask a horse to jump over fences and they refuse or keep knocking down the fence, well it just may not be what they want to do. So, a horse that constantly either refuses or ducks out, or falls into fences is considered to be exhibiting bad behavior.  But, there may be other things involved. Maybe the horse is being schooled over fences too often or ridden too hard on a daily basis and is being pushed into this bad behavior. Most of the time in my experience, bad behavioral problems in horses are usually caused by human error. Horses that have become what would be considered crazy, by some people, were not born that way. It is because of the desires of human demands or negligence of understanding their desires that are causing them to behave in unusual ways.

Let’s say that you are using a saddle that does not fit your horse properly. Every time you ride, your horse’s withers are getting more and more sore each time. The muscles start to become atrophied causing less cushion and, in turn, more soreness. Now when you go to put the saddle on your horse, he or she starts moving around a lot, or tries to step on you, or when you go to tighten the girth, your horse seriously tries to bite you. This bad behavior is in direct response of having withers that are so sore that they cannot stand the thought of one more day of pain. Or perhaps tightening up the girth too much and causing your horses’ girth area to become very sensitive and sore and every time you try to tighten the girth they want to rear up. This is their way of saying, please do not inflict this pain on me another day. They cannot turn around and say, excuse me, please don’t tighten that girth up because it really hurts. Instead they rear up. This is there way of trying to communicate with you, and in their world, this body language would be understood.

All I am trying to say is that if a horse starts behaving badly, you need to take a very close look at every aspect of your actions with them. Or, ask yourself what, if anything, has changed recently. Has there been a change of stalls, pastures or different horses turned out with your horse. Does your horse really understand what it is that you are asking of them, or is it possible that they may be confused? If you have a horse that starts flipping over backwards, examine your saddle pad and your saddle. Perhaps the bit you are using is too severe, or maybe your horses back is really sore. Maybe this particular animal needs a different rider. Ask questions about everything.

Sometimes the answer is not very easy to find but I believe that there is always a solution. However, the solution may not always fit into your realm of things and you will have to take that into consideration. Learning to speak horse language is not something that will come to you in a year or two. The longer you have horses in your life, the more hours you spend with them, the more you will understand their language and will be able to communicate with them on their level.

If you have a horse that is turned out with certain horses and he or she is beating up all the other horses, even though this is bad behavior, you may have to either turn this horse out with a different herd of horses or keep this horse away from other horses until you can find a suitable buddy. Sometimes when we have a horse come into our life, certain behaviors have already been developed and there is only so much we can do.

This is not to say that some horses are not born in the correct mental state, but I do not think that the percentage is very high. How a horse is handled from birth makes a major difference in the individual that they become. In the course of breaking yearlings on Thoroughbred farms for five years, many times the yearlings that were the worst to break, after they understood what was expected from them, with time and patience, became the most desired to ride. Put yourself in their shoes, look at the problem from a different perspective using the knowledge that you have acquired about horses and perhaps you will be enlightened. Patience and understanding are your best tools in handling a difficult horse. Remember that horses are creatures of habit. Instilling proper behavior into their lives, constantly, over and over may help them to adopt the better behavior.  Most horses will come around providing they are given a fair chance and the love that they truly need.

Posted in First time Horse Owner, General Horse Info, horse behavior | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A List of Horse Hay Types and How to Use Them Effectively; Depending On Your Horses’ Environment

There are probably more hay varieties out there in this vast world that I have never even heard of. The types of hay that I am familiar with are:

Timothy hay: This is a hearty basic hay that can be fed to horses in a considerable amount without worrying about causing a horse to gain too much weight too quickly. It consists of thick grassy stems with small one or two inch brush like tops. If you are new into the horse world, this is probably a good hay to start with.

Clover hay: Clover is considered a sweet hay that is quite rich. This hay is short stemmed with usually red or purple bulb like tops. It usually is mixed with other types of hay. If you were to buy straight clover be aware that it is not a green type of hay. It will have a tendency to turn more towards a darker brown color. The color may be off putting but as soon as you give it to your horse and see how quickly he or she gobbles it up, you will change your mind.

Orchard Grass hay: This hay is a bit richer than timothy but usually will have a blue green color. The strands of hay are usually quite long. This also is usually mixed with other hays. For some reason, horses seem to tire of just orchard grass very quickly

Coastal Bermuda hay: This is a long grassy type of hay. It is mostly grown in the southern states in a more sandy soil. It also is a hay that you can supply a large amount to your horse without worrying about too much weight gain. It is usually fed in very large round bales mostly in the winter months in order to keep something in the field for your horse to forage on. Coastal hay is notorious for colic (see Knowing the Signs of Horse Illnesses, and What Steps to Take.). Many horses do well on this hay but a very hungry horse may need to be introduced very slowly to this particular hay or a horse that does not drink a lot of water may not be the best candidate for coastal hay.

Alfalfa hay: This is the creme de la creme of hay. grown mostly in the northern, central and northwestern states, this is a deliciously rich hay for horses that has a very high protein content as well as being high in Selenium and many other nutrients, which is why lactating mares and milking cows are usually fed this exclusively. Because of its richness, it usually is paired with other hays. If you need to put weight on a horse in a short amount of time, then this is the hay to feed. However, some horses will not be able to eat just alfalfa as it will cause their stool to become too loose.

During the summer months when there is plenty of grass, you would only need hay if your horse is in the stall for more than a short amount of time. Of course, you would need hay in the summer if your horse is in a small paddock that has no grass. As far as I am concerned, alfalfa hay was produced basically as a replacement for grass during the winter months. If your horse is out in the cold weather with just a lean-to for shelter, then using a good amount of alfalfa is usually a good thing in combination with grain. Horses burn a lot of calories in the process of keeping their bodies warm in the bitter cold weather. The problem with alfalfa is it is more expensive than the average timothy or coastal Bermuda. When you feed the proper amount of alfalfa, it will be consumed in a few hours and your horse has nothing else to eat for the rest of the day. So, mixing up the hay, maybe a few alfalfa flakes and a few timothy flakes will help with the boredom issue. If you are fortunate enough to be in an area where different hays are plentiful, then try for a good mixed hay. I love the mix of alfalfa, timothy, clover and orchard grass. The horses seem to like it very much also.

Always, always check your hay. What I mean is if you see any dust coming from your hay as you move it, smell it to make sure that it is not moldy. You are always going to get a bad bale here and there or somewhere inside of a bale you will have a few bad flakes. Moldy hay can colic your horse in a matter of minutes not to mention that respiratory problems can arise if you consistently feed your horse hay that is moldy or musty. If you give your horse hay and when you come back to feed, there is a lot of waste, cut back a flake. The next day, same thing, cut back another flake  until you find the right amount for each horse. Making your horse clean up all of the hay in the stall is a good thing. Horses were born to foriage. If you have a horse that hogs up the hay very quickly, you may have to go to a lighter hay that you can feed more of, that way, he or she will not be standing hours on end with nothing to eat. Boredom can sometimes cause horses to start weaving, stall walking, cribbing or chewing down the barn.

Learning about the different types of hay, which type is best for which horse and how much to give takes time to learn. Like anything else in life, it is about balance. The balance between the right amount of feed, the right amount and right kind of hay, and the right amount of exercise are all lessons learned. Pay attention to your horses weight. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Trial and error will help you understand their nutritional as well as emotional needs. If you see changes in your horse that you do not like or something that they do not like, make adjustments. Rely on your instincts and how you feel. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. As long as all changes are subtle, it’ll be jusssssst fine.

Posted in General Horse Info, Horse Hay, Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Benefits of Body Clipping Your Horse and the Maintenance Needed to Keep Them Comfortable

A groom’s nightmare is a horse that has a long thick coat, comes back overly sweaty after a workout, takes twice as long to bathe and rinse them and takes forever for them to dry.  I can say this because I have been there and done that. If your horse is turned out in the bad weather and only has a lean-to for shelter, then he or she of course depends on that long coat for survival. On the other hand, if your horse is being stalled for the majority of the day, body clipping your horse is a good idea as long as you are committed to daily monitoring of the weather in order to insure that your horse will have their blanket on them when necessary, or having the blanket taken off of them if the day is too warm or if they are being turned out for awhile into a pasture or a paddock as long as it not too cold. Body clipping your horse is not the easiest of tasks. First of all you will need a very good pair of body clippers, preferably two body clippers, in order to speed up the process. The reason for two sets of clippers is when one set starts to get too warm, you switch to the second set and this way you can keep going. You will need lubricating oil for the blades. The old timers would dip the blades in turpentine while they were running but this can sometimes burn your horses hide so that is not my recommendation. Not all horses need to be tranquilized but I would say that a fair amount of horses will be in need of this especially when you are clipping the more delicate areas. You will need to consult your veterinarian and be aware of what tranquilizers you are using as some of them will cause your horse to start sweating and may make it impossible for the clipper blades to cut the hair. It may also be in your best interest to have an extra set of blades available just in case you run into a problem with one set. Some blades have a tendency to dull very quickly. You should actually be able to clip three or four horse per set of blades depending on how much dirt the horse is carrying in their coat. It also may be in your best interest to put a very slick type of parka on you so that the hair will just slide right off of you.

The very first thing that is necessary for body clipping is a horse that has just had a soapy bath and has been allowed to dry completely. You will get a much cleaner cut with less streaking. Also, your blades will last much longer when cutting cleaner hair. You will need someone to hold your horses head especially when you are first introducing the clippers to them. Personally, I prefer to clip a horse in his or her stall. You can clear the bedding from the middle of the stall in order to clean up the hair when you are done. Some people prefer to clip in the isle way. If you are going to tranquilize your horse it really does not matter. Have your horse standing with someone at their head and walk slowly towards them with clippers in hand, talking to your horse and try to gently stroke your horse with the clippers. If the horse is comfortable with them, you then can turn them on. If all is well you can start clipping and always against the hair. So this means that you will be moving the clippers mostly upwards in many different positions. Most people usually start at the shoulders and go towards the neck and head area, later moving towards the back and rump of the horse. Remember that you are clipping the whole horse, head, legs and under the belly, and up inside of the hind legs. As long as you are clipping against the hair you will get a good clip. I found out that it is easier to hold the legs up or have someone else hold them up for me when clipping and the horses seem to do better that way. When clipping the hind legs, be very, very careful. If a horse is frightened of the clippers, they may be inclined to try and kick at them or even you if they become angry and are not tranquilized. Another option is to use a humane twitch. A twitch is used by placing it on their nose and applying pressure. This is an acupuncture point and will help some horses to calm down and be more accepting of their situation. I do advise an inexperienced horseman to have someone show them how to use a twitch before actually using one. When clipping a horse’s face, you may want to switch to a small set of clippers that are usually quieter and more acceptable to the horse. Clipping out the inside of the horses ears is optional. If the horse object strongly, hold the horses ears closed tightly with one hand and just clip flush to edge of the ear. At least you can get the worst of the fuzzies that are going every which way. Clipping an average horse can take approximately two hours or so depending on the horses’ cooperation.

Body clipping your horse is a daunting task but the rewards are worth it. There are other options. There is what is called a trace clip. This is where you clip starting from behind the ears in the center of the neck, across the shoulders making a wide berth across the sides of the ribs, over the flank area onto the side of the horses’ rump. There are many variation of a trace clip and after you become more familiar with clipping, you can make your own decision on exactly what clip is best for your horse. The other option is to hire a person that does this on a daily basis and can clip a horse in about an hour or so. If you have a horse that is horrified by the whole process, please heavily sedate your animal with the help of a veterinarian. A severely frightened horse is a dangerous animal, especially if you are adamant about getting the job done. Safety for you and your horse comes first. If it gets to be too much of an issue, just abandon the whole idea. Better to be safe than in the hospital. The main objective here is to make life a little easier in keeping your horse clean, well groomed and comfortable during workout sessions. As usual, another act of love but not just for the horse; the groom will love you as this will certainly make their job considerably easier.

Please leave a comment or a suggestion on a blog you would like for me to write about.  I would love the input!

Posted in General Horse Info, Horse Grooming | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Horse Coolers, Sheets and Blankets; Knowing the Importance of Their Use and Why We Need Them

As far as I have read in the past, horses are not only cold weather animals, they are supposedly able to withstand up to thirty degrees below zero without any pain. Just remember that we are talking about horses that are out in the bad weather all year round and their hide as well as their systems have adapted to these conditions just as Mother Nature intended. Bringing horses in out of the bad weather under shelter is a good thing but we then diminish their natural abilities to ward off the cold to some degree. I have seen horses standing in a barn and shivering when it was just thirty-two degrees. This is the result of horses being kept mostly in a stall, so in turn they have not developed the very heavy coat that they might have if they were in the elements all the time. There is nothing wrong with keeping horses in a stall as long as they have sufficient time every day to go out and exercise and play with other horses or are ridden daily or a combination of both. Thus, to compensate for the lack of a heavy warming coat, we can substitute with horse blankets if your horse has to endure fairly cold or below freezing temperatures. If your horse is in training, it is actually best if you start with a lighter sheet (a horse blanket but with no insulation and made of much lighter material) and progress into heavier blankets as the weather get colder. If your horse is in training, helping your horse in not developing a heavy coat is a win/win situation as long as you are diligent in making sure that your horse is blanketed each and every evening or day that the temperature is less than comfortable. Having a lighter coat will help your horse from sweating too easily while being ridden and will help you with the grooming and cooling out process.

If you have made a decision to blanket your horse, as soon as the weather starts to turn colder and the evenings are getting below a designated temperature, then you would start with a light sheet. The reason that I am not giving you a definite temperature is because as usual, different horseman will have different ideas on what is the right temperature to start blanketing. Let’s say that you start with just a sheet on your horse just as the temperatures get below fifty-five degrees. This is going to help your horse from developing a heavier coat, help the coat to lay down and have more of a sheen when you take the blanket off not to mention that your horse will stay cleaner. As the day warms up, of course, the sheet will need to be removed. Having horses sweating underneath a sheet or blanket is not a good thing. As the evenings start to become cooler, lets say when the temperatures get below forty degrees, you may want to go to a heavier blanket or some people will add another sheet on top of the first one. I prefer just to go to a heavier blanket. You can take the blanket off during the day and put the sheet on your horse if the temperatures are still a bit cool. Let’s say that the temperatures are going to be in the twenties. You can have another blanket that is insulated or you can put the sheet on your horse first and then put your heavier blanket on top of the sheet. Once you start with this process, you will need to check the weather every day and know when you go to the barn at evening feeding, whether you need to sheet or not, or whether to go to a heavier blanket. Remember that once you have stopped the process of your horse developing a heavy coat in order to combat the elements, it is your responsibility to make sure that your horse has the correct blanket or blankets on them. Missing an evening of blanketing on a very cold night could cause your horse to stand and shiver throughout the night. Your horse will not have the ability to warm him or herself up, due to the fact that they are in the stall and cannot run around and warm up in order to combat the shivers. This in turn could lead to your horse becoming sick. Sick horses are not only a sad thing, but usually, it is expensive to help them get back to good health.

Coolers are designed to put on a horse after they have exercised, especially if they are hot and steam is coming from their bodies. If the weather is fairly cool, you can give your hot and sweaty horse a warm bath, in a very quick manner, making sure to scrape the excess water off with a scraper and then put the cooler on them as you walk them off. Coolers are made of an absorbent material that will help your horse release the heat from his or her body slowly. Allowing a hot wet horse to cool out in the cold weather is harmful to their muscle health. Allowing the muscles to cool slowly will help them to keep their flexibility. Letting them go from hot to cold too quickly will cause your horse unnecessary stiffness and possible cramping, which could affect their desire to train the next day. Coolers will help your horse to dry more quickly after a good bath. In a competition barn or a racing barn, coolers and blankets are normal attire.

The blankets that are available today are very affordable, extremely comfortable for your horse, washable and come in many different materials and designs. It is a shopper’s delight. Like most things that I have written about, once you become accustomed to them, they really are not that big of a deal. In one way blankets can be somewhat of a pain but on the other side of the coin, they can help you to maintain a bright, shiny healthy looking coat on your horse throughout the winter, and that can brighten up any horseman on a cold gloomy winter day.

Posted in First time Horse Owner, General Horse Info, Horse Equipment | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hay Nets or Hay Bags Can Be A Horses Best Friend, Especially When Traveling

Coming from the world of Racing Thoroughbreds, hay nets are just an every day item in the barn. The hay nets are kept very full with high quality hay and are placed on the outside of the stall and then tied back in order for the horses to be able to put their heads out and eat hay at the same time. It is essential that the hay nets are tied properly in order to avoid a mishap and have the horse take the hay net down by pulling on the cord that ties it to the outside of the stall. And of course, if the hay net falls down, and the horse pulls it into the stall, they will inevitably get tangled up in it. NOT A GOOD THING. So there is a specific way to tie your hay net up and secure it. My suggestion is that you purchase hay nets that are made of rope instead of plastic. If there is a mishap, rope will break causing less damage. Also, be sure that your hay net is at the right height. Too high, the horse has to stretch too much and may loose interest. Too low, he or she may get their foot caught in it, usually causing a burn behind their pastern. Racing horses do a lot of traveling. Usually they are without food several to many hours before a race. So, as soon as they are cooled out, the hay rack goes up and when they are loaded onto the van, the hay rack goes right with them. Remember, horses are grazing animals and their bodies were designed to eat almost constantly. When we deprive them of this ability to consume food as they should, we not only go up against their nature but we open them up to the possibility of stomach ulcers, nervousness, cribbing or even stall walking or weaving.

My objective in writing articles is to help horse owners in every way I can, to help them in keeping their horses happy. Lets say you are off to a horse show. You will probably be there from early in the morning until the evening hours. Your horse will probably only be ridden under saddle a total of a few hours on that day. The rest of the day he or she will be tied to the trailer. Of course the best scenario would be to rent a stall on the grounds, if they are available, but they are fairly expensive. So your horse will more than likely be standing tied for most of the day especially if you are showing more than one horse. Having a hay rack available with plenty of good quality hay, such as a timothy alfalfa mix or an orchard grass mix or even clover hay is a great way to not only keep your horse fed but to keep him or her occupied instead of digging holes or constantly looking around and moving back and forth. Having a water bucket hanging next to your hay rack is not a bad idea assuming that if your horse gets hot while being shown that you will correctly walk your horse off before returning them back to the trailer.

Traveling horses, especially long distances, really need to have either a hay rack or hay put in the hay bags that are provided in the trailers, or some trailers with dressing rooms will just have a solid place for you to place your hay. If you are transporting your horse in a van, do not put the hay net where the wind is blowing in from the window. You should have the hay net in the middle if you have two horses side by side. If you have three horses across then you will need two hay racks on either side of the middle horse. If you are hauling a long distance and have a hay rack installed, make sure that you do not tie your horses too short. Horses need to have enough head movement to reach the hay and put their heads down far enough to blow their noses and clear their heads. This is very important that a horse is able to clear out their heads in order to stop the hay from getting into their lungs, which may be a contributing factor to your horse coming down with shipping fever and can be fatal.  

The proper way to hang a hay rack is to first of all have a screw eye about an arms reach above your head on the outside of your stall. Bring your hay rack up in front of you, take the rope end of the long draw string that draws the hay rack together and loop it into and through the screw eye. Pull the end down and pull the hay rack up while pushing the bottom of the hay rack up also. Take the end of the draw string and run it through the webbing at the very bottom of the hay rack. Pull down and then up, bringing the bottom of the hay rack up as high as you can within reason. Tie a slip knot back onto the same draw string that you were using to pull to the hay rack up. Keep looping the knot over and over several times. This way if the horse pulls on it, it will not untie. Another alternative would be to put a double snap on the end of the draw string once you have run it through the bottom of the hay net bringing it back up in a tight manner. If the hay net is blocking too much of the entrance of your horses stall making it difficult for the horse to put his or her head out, just go to the other side and use rope or a bungee or whatever you prefer using one of these things to pull the hay net back out of the way and secure it.

I suppose you are wondering why go through all this trouble when you can just throw the hay in the corner of the stall. There is nothing wrong with putting hay in the corner but horses have a tendency to waste hay in this manner, step on it, urinate and make manure on it besides it causes you to throw away more bedding when it gets mixed into it. When you are at a show and you have a hay rack in front of your horse, it gives you a little more lea way to walk about and visit your neighbors, go watch a class or two, knowing that your horse is well fed and that his or her needs are being met, not to mention that your horse will probably rest a little more due to the fact that their stomach is full. When you are transporting a horse a long distance, it makes for a much more satisfying and easier ride for your horse if they have food to consume, again they will sleep allot better. Once you have become accustomed to hay nets and the do’s and don’t, it is pretty easy. I find them to be a very valuable tool in not only keeping my horses happy but they bring me a greater peace of mind knowing my beloved friend is not going hungry.

Posted in General Horse Info, Horse Equipment, Horse Stalls | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Horse Sheath Cleaning; A Must Do Job for Better Health Eliminating Pain and Discomfort

Cleanliness in any form is a good thing. Keeping your horses sheath clean and free of beans is a very good thing. What is a horse’s sheath? This is the genital area that holds and protects your horse’s penis. Unfortunately the design of a horse does not give your horse the ability to clean this area in any way. Actually you may consider this area a hazardous part of your horse. When a horse urinates, he should first let his penis drop from the sheath, start with a strong stream, continue at a normal stream and usually end with a strong spurt of urine. If your horse is spreading out as if he is going to urinate but nothing happens, this is a warning sign. If he urinates often, this is a warning sign of either a problem involving perhaps his kidneys or he may be harboring beans in the head of his penis. At the head of his penis is a small channel of which you can take the tip of your finger and gently go around the inside of this channel. The reason for doing this is not only to clean the channel, but to feel for a waxy type of bean which must be gently removed as well as any other dirt or debris. These beans accumulate and can sometimes become so large that your horse has a very hard time urinating as the beans will stop the natural flow of urine. This is not only uncomfortable for your horse but can cause a serious amount of irritation, which in turn can hinder your horse’s movements behind. Some horses will not drop down and try to urinate while his penis is still inside of the sheath. This is an indication usually that your horse is experiencing some type of discomfort and you need to investigate and figure out why your horse is behaving in this manner. As with our ears, which have wax, a horses sheath develops wax that is there to collect dust and dirt, eventually dry up, fall off and take the dust and dirt with it. Unfortunately this does not work quite so well for every horse. Some horses develop too much wax which becomes hard but does not fall off and can cause irritation or pain. The bottom line is that this is not the most pleasant of jobs but someone has to do it and if you love your horse, you will eventually just take it in stride. My job is to try and give you some tips on how to not only get through this, but to make it as easy as possible for both you and your horse. After you learn how to clean your colt or gelding, you will be anxious to take the very few minutes of your time needed to clean his sheath and bring your buddy some serious relief. I have actually had horses give me a huge sigh of relief after extracting some very large beans from them as well as some shavings and other matter that was stuck further back inside of the sheath. Of course you will understand so much more after cleaning a few sheaths.

For your tools needed, mineral oil or baby oil and a fairly large syringe, a small bucket with warm water, a small hand size sponge, castile soap and a hose with preferably warm water and the nozzle removed. This is what I have found that works the best. Usually the day before, I take the syringe and fill it with the baby oil and inject it up into the horses sheath until I am sure there is a sufficient amount to coat the entire area inside the sheath. As you will find out, the upper wall of the sheath is very much full of wax and the baby oil will help to dissolve some of this wax. I really do not try to take all the wax off of the upper wall, just the overage. The oil will also soften up the larger amounts of hard wax on the penis.  The second day, have someone hold your horse on the wash rack. I usually stand on the right side of the horse as I am right handed making it easier to use my right hand for this task but you must stand on whatever side you feel more comfortable. I usually insert the hose with warm water into the sheath and hold the opening of the sheath closed so the water can travel back into the second chamber of the sheath. Next, using the bucket of warm water, sponge and castile soap, with the very soapy, very wet sponge in my right hand, I insert my hand with soapy sponge into the sheath. Usually the horse will have his penis all the way in the back of the sheath. There will be a second chamber and you will have to use the sponge and your hand to make sure you get water and soap into this chamber, cleaning his penis at the same time. You will probably have to pull your hand out and into the bucket and soap up the sponge several times. Once you have made sure that the inside of the sheath is full of soapy water and that the penis is covered you can go to work. Without the sponge, you will have to use your fingers to first get all the crust and debris off of the penis and move your hand around in the second chamber feeling for any other pieces of things other than dried wax. Once the sheath is clean, go to the head of your horse’s penis and try to feel for the channel in the head of the penis. If he has any beans, you will feel them. The hardest part is to try and gently remove them without causing too much discomfort to your horse. After you have cleaned the upper wall of the sheath, gone into the second chamber and cleaned there and removed any beans from the head of his penis, the next step is to use the hose and rinse your horse, THOROUGHLY. It is extremely important that you make sure that you rinse and rinse and rinse out your horses sheath. After I feel that I have put the hose all the way back into the sheath and into the second chamber very gently, I ALWAYS check with a clean hand to make sure there is NO MORE SOAP IN THE SHEATH. Leaving soap in your horses sheath is not a very nice thing to do to the animal that you love. This can cause a serious amount of discomfort and pain to your horse during and after urination.

Please understand that cleaning a horses sheath takes only about five to ten minutes and this is something that does not need to be done on a daily or even weekly basis. You will know when your horse needs a cleaning. Some horses will need it often and other horses will need it seldom. It depends on how much wax they produce, and whether they hang out when they sleep and collect dirt. You can come up with your own schedule. As a rule, I would always clean performance horses more often, sometimes, just as a courtesy. If your horse objects in the beginning, usually after he knows what you are up to, he will be much more accepting. He may even ask you. After cleaning so many sheaths and seeing the positive results, it really is not a big deal. Just another act of love for the animals I so dearly love and hold close to my heart.

Posted in General Horse Info, Horse Anatomy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments