Monday, November 26, 2012

Yucca and MSM in Horse Joint Supplements

Richard wrote me to ask about using MSM and Yucca for his 17 year old Gelding who he had been using as a roping horse but now appears to be having trouble in his joints.

Seventeen years old, on a sound horse, can be yesterday's twelve year old, meaning it seems like more horses are not only living longer but are being used much more into thier late teens and twenties. But hard use can be hard on a horse's joints, more so when combined with less than adequate nutrition.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) and Yucca are common ingredient in Horse joint products.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is marketed to provide joint comfort and cartilage health. MSM is a type of sulfur and thought to be a ingredient necessary for collagen health or development. MSM is also an anti-inflammatory and therefore probably reduces pain to some extent.

Yucca (see picture at top of post) is a common plant found out here in the desert where I live. It is readily identified by it's stalk and flowers (see photo at right). The flowers,or sometimes called Yucca bulbs, grow in the late spring and are moist. They become dry in the winter and often break apart in the wind, spreading seeds that are almost black in color. The moist bulbs are edible by humans and cows. They taste like lettuce. I had a horse who loved to pick at Yucca bulbs but too much is not good for them so I would only let him eat one or two on any one day.

Yucca is an anti-inflammatpry and pain reducer. Which, like I wrote above, is often found in joint supplements, for humans as well as horses. In fact, if you a section of Yucca base (see picture left) from which the sharp spines grow out of, or what is below that and growing from the ground, you can harvest a section of it and scrap out the inner pulp like material and mix in water. It will make a soapy type of solution. This will make arthritic hands feel better and can be used to rub on a horse's legs after a long ride. I suspect some people figured that out a long time ago and probably did just that.

In any event, both MSM and Yucca can mask the pain from joint issues. Most reports from independent scientists either cannot confirm or don't believe that MSM or Yucca can be consumed with any benefit, but if they are wrong, and you decide to use either, then consider that neither product has much of a chance of helping if you don't get a high quality source of these ingredients.

The scientist's I have talked to do believe that a quality Glucosamine product and Vitamin C work to provide nutrients for joint health and can actually build stronger connective tissue and cartilage. Sure, if you have have a horse with extensive wear on his joints, like race horses and arena roping horses, Glucosamine probably won't give immediate relief. Hence the possible use of the natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatories.

I would get a Vet to check your horse. Sometimes x-rays can give you a good idea on what going on in your horse's joints. I have one horse, 19 year old gelding, currently on joint supplements. It is a Glucosamine based product and I think it is helping him to some extent. But this is a treatment that I think you may have to do for six months or more to see any result.  Let me know if you begin using something and how your horse does on it.  Safe Journey.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Best Handgun for Horseback

Russell wrote and asked: "Thanks for the information you have been writing. Don't think I found anything to disagree with. I have been riding for 45+ years and carried a handgun or rifle most of it moving cattle up in mountains and checking fence. I never thought about training my horses to accept gunfire. I now have a pretty broke six year old. I have a .22 revolver and a .30-30 winchester. If I need to get another pistol I will since I ain't fond of thinking of running into anything with four feet and fangs with the .22. What would you suggest for a decent pistol? Your articles and videos are probably good enough for me to get started. Thanks. Russell."

Russell, it looks like you may be in Mountain Lion or Grizzly country. A big bore revolver would be my preference. This means a .44 Magnum, which can also shoot .44 Special, or a .45 Long Colt (LC).  When I was a Conservation Law Enforcement Officer riding up into the mountains looking for poachers or archeological thieves, I did not feel under gunned carrying a double action revolver in .357 Magnum, but I had about as much chance of running into a Grizzly Bear as a smelly, toothless hog farmer has in finding a date for Saturday night.  I would not trust my life or my horse's life to a .357 Magnum if you are riding in Grizzly country. 

The advantage of a .45 Long Colt is, that thanks to the sport of Mounted Shooting, .45 LC blanks are readily available for training. This allows you to train your horse to gunfire at a reduced noise and muzzle concussion. If you have priced handgun ammunition recently then you see that as another reason.

A disadvantage of a handgun in the .45 LC caliber is that most of these on the market are single action, Colt Peacemaker type replicas. While these are great guns, they are single action. Meaning you have to cock the hammer for each shot....takes more than a little practice to do so reliable and quickly. You could get lucky and find a double action revolver in .45 LC. The more common one's would be a Smith and Wesson Model 25, Colt Anaconda, Ruger Redhawk, Dan Wesson and I think Smith and Wesson also makes what they call a Mountain Gun which is a slicked up Model 25 in stainless steel I believe, which they call the M625. As common as these guns once were, it'll be somewhat hard and maybe even more expensive to find one.  Double action revolvers are much faster to re-load as well using several different types of speed loaders. 

I always start shooting .45 LC blanks about 60 to 80 feet away while the horse's are eating. I fire one round. The horses will spook or flinch. Then they go back to eating. I fire another round. They flinch less and so I keep this up until I can shoot several blanks in succession and they ignore it. I move closer and repeat. The hay helps relax them, as horses mostly eat only when they are relaxed or feel safe. And if they leave, let them. Wait for them to come back to the feed and start again.

The pause between fired rounds serves to let the horse think about the stimulus and figure out that he doesn't need to run. The pause may be several minutes in some cases. But it will get shorter.

When I move to shooting while the horse is in a halter, I give the horse some slack in the lead line, stand with my back to him and shoot to the front using my body to break up and diminish the concussion wave and noise a bit. He'll most likely spook somewhat, so I let him settle before I repeat. I'll talk to the horses and rub on them during this pause. Soon enough the horse is settled and I begin again sometimes just cocking the hammer a few times as they will learn that this noise precedes the loud bang. I'll also shoot from the side of the horse away from him and towards his rear obliques.

When you are shooting from his back, use the same concept. Be sure to fire away from his head. Using the clock method. If the horse's head, or really his body, is pointing at 12 o'clock, then it helps to start shooting blanks at the 5 o'clock direction if you're right handed, or the 7 o'clock direction if your left handed. This will reduce the concussion the horse will feel from gas escaping the cylinder gap and from the muzzle, as well as the noise and allow him to get used to.  The pictures above, from Left to Right, are showing shooting from the one o'clock, three o'clock and five o'clock positions.

I would not shoot near the horse's head, say from the 10 o'clock to the 2 o'clock position. This needlessly sends gas and unburned powder from the cylinder gap and the muzzle too close to the horse's head, ears and eyes.

Hope this helps Russell. I think you'll do fine if you take your time. I'd like to hear about your progress. Safe journey.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Trail Ride for Wounded Warriors

All across the country this past Veteran's Day weekend, the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA) held Competitive Trail Challenges (CTC) to raise funds for wounded warrior causes. The ride we supported was held in Anthony, New Mexico adjacent to El Paso, Texas with the six mile ride on Bureau of Land Management mananged land.

A total of 20 riders took part and they were all ladies, save for one man working a young horse, all who braved dropping temperatures and 50 mile per hour winds, with the sand blasting that come with riding in the desert during high winds, to complete this ride.  Having your horse in a dust storm or even a rain or hail storm while not pleasant sure as heck builds confidence in the rider on their horse.

ACTHA CTC's are six mile trails with six obstacles that the riders are judged on negotiating. A score is given the horse for his willingness and bravery as the horse works the obstacles and the rider is also judged on their control and horsemanship. I judged the bridge obstacle which was a frame of 4 x 4 posts and 2 inch by 8 inch planks creating a bridge over a two foot deep arroyo (dry stream bed).

Bridges, maybe more so that any other obstacle, can be pretty intimidating for horses. You can work a bridge until your horse crosses it without hesitation 100 times in a row, then move that same exact bridge someplace else and that same horse will treat the bridge like he has seeing it for the first time.

Most of the riders crossed the bridge on a loose rein with willing horses at a natural head set - what I was looking for. The Open division riders had to halt their horse for three seconds on the bridge before continuing across and we were looking for a horse that stand still, on a loose rein, until asked to depart the bridge.

I gave near as high as scores to riders whose horses showed reluctance or caution to cross the bridge, but because the riders kept their horses centered with as little pressure as necessary, the horse eventually, and within the one minute time restraint, crossed the bridge. To me this showed a good relationship and trust between the horse and rider.

These pictures above show a horse's obvious concern about the bridge he is asked to cross. The rider keeps the horse centered and allows the horse to drop his head and checkout the brige, resulting in the horse willing to cross when asked again. If the rider would have asked the horse to cross before it is ready, sure the horse may have went across - may even have bolted across - I saw this a couple times, but allowing the horse time to think, reduces his anxiety and cross in a more confident manner. This will pay off for that horse and rider - increasing trust and helping that horse become a braver horse.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hoof Injury and Treatment with Vetericyn

I found one of my horses on a Saturday morning (day one) with a primary soft tissue injury on his right inside hoof that impacted the top of the hoof, the coronet band and just above it.  See picture at right.  The most likely cause was stepping on or clipping this spot with his other hoof.

I washed it out with cold water and Betadyne solution flushing it out for a few minutes, dried it with gauze pads, applied Vetericyn ointment from the spray bottle, applied a clean gauze pad as a bandage, then wrapped with vet wrap then placed a soft Bell boot over it. Again, see the picture at right.  This is the wound after I flushed it out with clean cold water and Betadyne and before I applied the Vetericyn. 

For those of you who have not used Vetericyn,.....from the website: Vetericyn is a non-toxic, broad spectrum antimicrobial. It is available as Vetericyn® VF (Veterinary Formula) and Vetericyn®, the over-the-counter formulation. The VF formula is twice as strong as the OTC formula. Puracyn is a similar product, formulated for use in humans.

Vetericyn is an effective germ inhibitor because it is similar to what are released by the body's own immune system to fight disease-causing organisms. Neutrophils, part of the white blood cell team, release oxychorine compounds to get rid of these invaders. Vetericyn is a similar oxychorine compound, producing a similar effect; according to in-vitro studies by Vetericyn.

Vetericyn is non-toxic and non-irritating, commonly used wound cleaners such as hydrogen peroxide damage tissue on a cellular level, and may prolong healing times,..... so hydrogen peroxide is not recommended for use in cleaning out wounds. Vetericyn is a strong oxidant - it disrupts the cell structure of the pathogens (germs) and adds oxygen to the wound area, speeding healing times.

Vetericyn Animal Wound & Infection Care is a one-step topical spray that cleans wounds and kills bacteria including antibiotic-resistant MRSA. This steroid-free, antibiotic-free, no-rinse solution is non-toxic and speeds healing. Vetericyn is based on FDA-cleared Microcyn Technology that is formulated to replicate the actions of your pet's own immune system in fighting infections and healing wounds. This revolutionary antimicrobial Vetericyn wound spray kills antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria as well as fungi, viruses and spores. An oxychlorine compound similar to that produced by the animal's own immune system, Vetericyn Animal Wound and Infection Care will not harm healthy tissue and is pH neutral making it non-stinging when applied.

I have used Vetericyn before, and even the Vetericyn eye ointment with good results. The picture to the right is the wound on the morning of day four, 96 hours later. The picture makes it look worse than it is.  The torn tissue looks filled in; swelling and tenderness seems to be gone.  My horse did not flinch with hand pressure on the wound site.  For the next week I left a soft bell boot on him just to protect the healing site. 

Vetericyn is always on hand with us. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cowboy Wisdom – The Old Cowboy in Church

One Sunday morning an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin. The old man and his clothes -- jeans, a denim shirt and boots, were spotlessly clean but worn and ragged. In his hand he carried an old hat and an equally well worn Bible.

The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen. The people of the congregation were all dressed with expensive clothes and jewelry.

As the cowboy took a seat, the others moved away from him. No one greeted, spoke to, or welcomed him. They were all appalled by his appearance and did not attempt to hide it.

As the old cowboy was leaving the church, the preacher approached him and asked the cowboy to do him a favor: "Before you come back here again, have a talk with God and ask Him what he thinks would be appropriate attire for worship in church."

The old cowboy assured the preacher he would.

The next Sunday, he showed back up for the services wearing the same old jeans, shirt, boots, and hat.

Once again, he was completely shunned and ignored. The preacher approached the cowboy and said, "I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back to our church."

"I did," replied the old cowboy.

"If you spoke to God, what did He tell you the proper attire should be for worshiping here?" asked the preacher.

"Well, sir, God told me that He didn't have a clue what I should wear. He said He'd never been in this church."

Friday, November 2, 2012

ACTHA Trail "Ride To Remember" for Veterans

American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA) "Ride to Remember", is a nationwide charity trail ride to honor and benefit our Veterans, on Saturday and Sunday, November 10th and 11th, at many locations across the country.  Proceeds of this ride will primarily go to Horses For Heroes an veterans rehabilitation and support organization in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

The local ride we will be donating prizes for, helping on, and riding in will be hosted on BLM land near Anthony, New Mexico adjacent to West El Paso, Texas.  Rebecca Eldridge and April Hanley are the Saturday and Sunday Ride Coordinators respectively.  These are two ladies who should be commended for volunteering to ramrod this benefit and there is alot work involved planning the obstacles, getting judges and such. 

The address for the ride check in is 333 Spirit Hill Lane, Anthony, New Mexico. Directions to the ride are: Take Exit 6 (Transmountain Exit) off of I-10. Head South on Transmountain (towards Mexico) to Doniphan. This will be a "T" intersection. Take a Right on Doniphan. Take a Left at the first stop light onto FM 259. Continue on FM 259. At the first stop sign, which is a "Y" intersection, go straight. At the second stop sign, veer left. Follow that road around a sharp left curve, a sharp right curve, and at the second sharp left curve, turn right onto Koogle Road, this will be a dirt road. Follow Koogle and turn Left onto Mountain Vista. The ride start point will be the first place on the right with the white pipe fence.

See Map Below. Click on the map and I think it may give you a larger and clearer view.

ACTHA trail rides are a slow, leisurely six mile trail course with six obstacles and judges evaluating how each rider and horse negotiate that obstacle, which are spaced approximately a mile apart. 

For more information you can call 915.443.4128 or 915.249.1186 or go to the ACTHA web site, click on "Our Rides" tab, then "Rides and Locations" and enter "NM" in the search box.

The Anthony, New Mexico ride will begin with a rider checkin at 0800 am, followed by a rider's brief at 0900 am, with the first group of rider's departing on the trail by 1000 am. After the ride there will be a catered no-host lunch by local Rudy's BBQ prior to the awards ceremony.  Hope to see a lot of people enjoing their horses on a trail ride in what should be really nice weather and supporting this great cause.