Thursday, May 31, 2012

Protecting and Treating Hooves

How many times have some of us used a combination of gauze pads or cloth soaked in Epson salts, duct tape and a few cuss words thrown in to treat some sort of hoof ailment like a puncture?  Hoof Wraps makes a multi-use, multi-purpose bandage constructed from 2200 denier ballistic nylon and is flat and small enough to fit into your saddle bags so you can carry this on trail rides for the times you lose a shoe, get a bad stone bruise or a hoof puncture. I have been carrying the Hoof Wraps Equine Bandage in my saddle bags for years now. Even used it once on someone else's horse, but was glad to have the Hoof Bandage and EVA foam pad on hand to cushion the hoof that lost the shoe during our ride out of the rock mountainous area.

Hoof Wraps now makes a gel pad infused with Jojoba and Tea Tree oils, so this pad can be used with a Hoof Bandage to treat many hoof ailments. These natural oils has been used for centuries for fighting bacteria. Makes good sense to me. I have used mixes of Tea Tree Oil and Mineral oil to coat hoofs and provide some much needed moisture to soles and frog since the arid desert dries up hooves, and when they are dry they chip more easily. Go here to see Hoof Wraps products. It's worth a look just to see the great pictures they have on their pages.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Best Kind of Cinch?

Aaron wrote to ask about cinches. “My saddle tends to twist quite a bit on my paint gelding even when I tighten down so much that I think I may be hurting him. Do you have an opinion on the rubber cinches that are supposed to keep the saddle from tourquing to the side?”

Aaron, since you are writing you are obvious aware of the dangers of a loose saddle rolling onn the horse. Saw that on a high dollar horse and higher dollar saddle and it wasn't good for either. Sometimes a horse will hold air in his lungs or otherwise tense up a little as you saddle him up and once he relaxes the saddle will be a little loose. I always warm my horses up, usually in the round pen, then I’ll check the cinch and it always tends to need a little tightening. If this is not the case for your saddle rolling problem, then maybe it’s a saddle fit problem,.....too much (too thick) of a saddle blanket,.....bars of your saddle too narrow for your horse, or if you have a mutton withered horse, then maybe too wide of bars can all contribute to this.

As far as Neoprene cinches go, I don’t like them. However, alot of professionals I respect use them. I don’t use a Neoprene saddle pad either. I’m worried that the horse’s back or belly can’t breathe as well as other material. And as traditional as I’d like to be, I don’t use Mohair or cotton cinches either. I use a sheepskin lined cinch. I think it is more comfortable to the horse.

However, I would think that a Neoprene cinch would hold the saddle in place better than a traditional cincha or the sheepskin lined ones. I would also look into your saddle fit. See if they are any gall marks on the horse’s back such as spots where the hair is turning white as the saddle rotates and rubs. You can put white marks on a horse’s back even on one ride with an ill fitting saddle or even a saddle pad that has been caked with sweat and now has a sand paper type area that can run the horse raw. Good luck and safe journey.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tracking: Rain Affecting Sign

Juwar1974 has made a comment on sign cutting and tracking horses.wmv: "I have a question. How does a heavy rain affect the tracks in the dirt? Does it wipe it out or flatten it. Would it be more difficult? Could you answer this for me, I'd really appreciate it."

Juwar, the worst that a real heavy rain can do is to wash away any sign as well as present obstacles for the tracker that could range from a nuisance to the dangerous such as bad footing for a horse or flash floods in an arroyo.

From the time the tracks are made, from the pressure and release of that pressure on the ground, until the rain washes away all evidence, various sign may be visible such as pooled water in a print depression.

If you are tracking a man and you have some definite direction he is going, leap frogging ahead to an open area such as a field or road may allow you to see him crossing or signs to indicate he crossed. I would also look for and at shoulder or roads or slopes of arroyos or gullies where the disturbance of the wet ground made by the man crossing is very likely to be evident.

           Sometimes a light rain can enhance your ability to determine how fresh the sign is. You will be able to tell if the pocked mark patterns in a print depression are pre-rain or post-rain and this will give you a timeline. Sometimes in a tracking class I will use a water hose or a spray bottle of water to demonstrate what rain can do to a print or disturbed ground.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Comment on Loose Horse Manure

Bill M. left a new comment on a previous article about Common Horse Problems – Loose Manure: ”I have a 30 year old quarter horse who has the patience of a saint for this. His manure is sometimes loose because of his age and digestive tract. I first learned years ago that the condition of the poop was the condition of the horse. He also likes his butt to be washed and baby oil on it after washing. Probiotics does help and it seems he will get it till trails end.”

Hey Bill, I also have an older former roping horse (Roy) with a loose manure problem. He’s coming 28 this year. I think his problem is a combination of both ingesting sand (hey, I live in the desert), and his reduced or compromised immune system. I give him a bran mash once a week and once a month I put him on Sand Clear for a week. After this his manure becomes more solid, so ingesting sand has to be some of his problem, even though from time to time I place some of his manure balls into a glass jar and fill with water to see how much sand I can separate from the manure.

Roy does well. He is rideable and has a lot of energy. He is the horse I posted a recent video on tying the Mecate reins into a lead rope. I too, have to clean his butt a couple times a week and spray mineral oil. He’ll get this care until the end of his natural life.  And he's worth it as he's a damn good horse.  As my wife says, "Put a child on his back and Roy thinks he's transporting fine china."

I have used probiotics quite bit before, I think I used Pro-Bios last, but currently am not on a regular routine with them. Thanks for the reminder on them. I would be interested to know what brand or type you use. Thanks for the comment. Safe journey.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cathy wrote with me with the following questions: ”My Palomino gelding Jimbo just graduated from the snaffle to a correction bit. His head (or it could be his neck) seems to be stiffer. Should I expect him to perform immediately like he did in the snaffle or is there usually some type of delay in a horse getting use to the new bit.”

I am not going to have much of an answer for you Cathy, but my question would be – if your horse did well in a snaffle why would you want to go to a different bit? To me there is no mandatory path of bit progression where your horse must transition to a correction bit, then possibly into something else. And I have to ask   “what are you trying to correct?”

I am assuming that the correction bit you are trying is a shanked bit with a broken mouthpiece. The mouthpiece probably has a rounded or square port. You are probably using a curb chain on this bit as opposed to the probable curb strap you used on your snaffle. The correction bit, with its sharp corner of the ported mouthpiece, the shanks and the curb chain all will allow much greater leverage than a snaffle bit. Meaning the force (and pain) on the horse’s mouth, given the same amount of pull on the reins by the rider, is much greater. Add in the shanks (being pulled rearwards) tightening up the curb chain under the jaw could all combine to give you a different horse than the one you rode in a snaffle.

I don’t know what you mean by your horse having a stiff neck or head, with the correction bit. He may be bracing against the bit, or maybe his head coming up trying to find a relief from the pressure in his mouth or under his jaw. If your reason for going to a correction bit is to be able to ride one handed with more control better, you may want to try a less severe bit such as a solid bit with a low to medium port, sometimes called a grazing bit.

How you handle the reins, your quickness and force has a lot to do with the horse’s reaction. My wife thinks that before a person rides a horse with a bit in their mouth, they need to carry one in theirs for awhile. Sorry for not being much help. I’m probably the wrong person to ask about the correction bit. I’m pretty happy with a snaffle bit and a hackamore and don’t think I’ll be using anything more severe than that. Good luck and safe journey.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Horse's Foul Breath

Jessie asked about a foul smell from her horses mouth. She said she feeds alfalfa and sometimes treats and doesn't know what makes her horse smell like that. I cannot ever remember smelling anything foul in a horses mouth. If I did I would be concerned about an soft tissue infection, maybe a cracked tooth. In any event I would not delay in having a Vet look at your horse. Jessie, when is the last time you had a Vet look at your horse's teeth and/or had your horse's teeth floated? I would suggest that routine dental exams are a good idea. Every horse is different so with a dental exam and floating a Vet can not only correct the horse's teeth but give you an idea of a particular horse's potential teeth problems and suggest timelines for periodic exams. I have one horse, an older horse, who needs to have an exam and corrective floating about every 6-8 months. My other horses usually get an exam and floating about every 12-14 months. I have written about the importance of dental exams and floating but since this is a periodic necessity, it doesn't hurt to write about it again. I recently had my Vet, Amy Starr DVM of Paws and Hooves Mobile Vet Clinic, come out to do dental exams and powerfloats on nine horses, as well as draws for annual Coggins tests and giving Spring vaccinations. The horses are mildly sedated, and using a special harness to keep the mouth open, the Vet can quickly reduce the points and waves in the horse's back molars using a power drill with a special rotary bit. You can see from the video below that it is not that invasive to the horse. The Vet Technician is holding the horse's head to keep it from rotating and from the horse from pulling back off the stand. The "smoke" you see coming from the horse's mouth is actually dust from the teeth as they are smoothed out. One of my favorite smells is a horse's breath when he is eating hay. To keep it that way and keep the horses healthy routine dental exams are necessary. Good luck Jessie and safe journey.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tying a Mecate Into a Lead

After posting an article and video on the rigging a Mecate (or McCarthy) to a slobber straps and a bit, I neglected to show a method for tying the lead end of the Mecate to the portion you are using for a one piece rein so that you can lead the horse without pulling on the bit or otherwise causing the bit to bang around their mouth. I received several e-mails asking for me to show how to do this. I’ve been guilty of leading horses by reins,......far more than I would be willing to admit even when faced with threat of torture such as eating Aunt Edna’s tuna casserole.....and we all know the chance, we take when leading a horse by reins connected to a bit, of causing that bit to bang around the horse’s mouth. I think a person can lead by reins connected to the bit and be safe about it, but there are times, especially on a young horse, where you may want to be safer. A more dangerous thing would be to tie the horse to a rail using the reins. Seen that a few more times than necessary as well. There are several ways to take the lead end of the Mecate and tie it to the one piece rein section so you can lead a horse without pressure on the bit. What I do is to double the reins around the neck then tie my lead end of the Mecate around this doubled one piece rein with an half hitch. This secures the lead end of Mecate to the reins so that I can now lead the horse by the tie in under the neck and not from the reins. You could use other knots such as a clove hitch, in fact I usually use a clove hitch, but from my experience a half hitch works well and is easier to tie for most people. I think my best advice, if you are riding in a Mecate now, is to practice a few variations and see what works best for you. The idea to for the lead tied into the reins is to put pressure on the horse’s poll but not to slip over the horse’s head. And to answer the question on what length of Mecate I use, it's a nineteen foot section of rope from end to end. A twenty-two foot length is pretty standard, but the shorter Mecate is easier for me to handle and gives me enough excess for a good length of lead line when I dismount. Hopefully the video below shows what I am describing. Safe Journey.