Thursday, March 28, 2013

For The Love Of A Horse Benefit

I am posting this in support of For The Love Of A Horse, a horse rescue organization.

Save the Date!

The 2nd Annual "Fore" the Love of a Horse Golf Classic is just around the corner! Registration is now open, Monday, March 4, 2013.

Please join us for a great day of golf, fun and prizes. You don't need to play golf to make a difference in the lives of horses or your community.

Register online at If you can't join us, please consider one of our sponsorship opportunities, donation to our silent auction, prizes or simply a cash donation. No donation is too big or too small! Thank you for helping us, help them!

Warmest regards, Miaka D. Palmieri, President, "For The Love Of A Horse"
Telephone: 404.680.0392

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hoof Supplements: Carolyn's Question

Carolyn Moore left a comment on this site: "Very informative blog you got here. Ever considered adding a post about hoof supplements? I think it would make a great addition to the site. :)"

Thanks for your comments Carolyn.  Years ago my horse shoer was shoeing Border Patrol horses on contract and met a student at New Mexico State University who was finishing his Doctorate, in some field related to ruminant management or equine nutrition, who was contracted himself to evaluate how the Border Patrol was feeding their horses. The student, Justin, was also a hand with horses having previous worked on a ranch and feedlots in Kansas, so my shoer invited him when it was time to trim and shoe horses at the stables I was managing years ago.

Since, at the time I had three horses to be shod and also held horses for other people, I spent the whole day, every six weeks, at the farrier's stand with these two and was able bother Justin with questions about equine nutrition and supplements. I remember Justin was not too supportative of supplements in general, but did say something to the effect that if any supplements work, then hoof supplements would be it, providing they have the necessary amounts of Biotin, Methoinine and Lysine in the formulation.

I actually contracted Justin at a later date to give a presentation on equine nutrition, which resulted in some people quiting their practice of feeding sweet feed and probably creating some grateful horses as well, as some needed more feed and other less.

Back to horse feet and supplements, 22 year old roping horse turned up three legged lame one day and a subsequent vet check and x-ray revealed that he had broke the wing of his coffin bone in his rear, right hoof. My shoer said that he had only seen that twice before, on much younger horses, and that he had success in getting these horses sound again. If I was willing to try to bring my horse back to soundness, he was willing to try.

My shoer fitted bar shoes on my horse for 9 or 10 months and I kept that horse on Horseshoer's Secret hoof supplement. When the last bar shoe came off we had the same Vet take x-rays again, but the Vet was pretty sure because of the age of the horse that he would not be healed. I had a feeling he was wrong, and I was right as the x-rays revealed a complete heeling of the coffin bone. While my shoer deserves most of the credit, I do believe the hoof supplements provided the necessary nutrients for the hoof to heal as best it could.

Today, my main horse is Junior, just a grade horse out of Mexico. Hoof problems are pretty common in horse's who do not get consistently good feed, but when I bought Junior years ago my shoer said his feet were in terrible shape,......big outside flairs in the bars, thin hoof walls, dropped heel bulbs on one back foot. My shoer did not have much hope of this horse turning out to be a good horse for my horseback law enforcement duties in the back country. But Junior never failed me,..never lost a shoe except the time we were loping and hit a sink hole where he over stepped and sprung a front shoe which I had to finish pulling off....that's were a Hoof Wraps bandage came in handy to protect that foot as we moved back to the horse trailer.

I also put Junior on hoof supplements, alternating between Farriers Formula and Horseshoer's Secret. My shoer did his usual great job, but still today he say's Junior's feet are still terrible, but he also remarks that Junior's soles are healthy and he grows alot of foot between shoeing. I attribute that to good, consistent feed and the hoof supplements.

So Carolyn now that I've bored you to death, the bottom line is that I do believe hoof supplements work. But also believe that not all horses need them, and that a horse would have to be on hoof supplements for 9 months or more to be able to tell a difference. Hoof supplements can't fix conformational problems, but can (I believe) give your horse the nutrients for as healthy of feet that is possible for him - combined with good farrier care and consistent, good feed.  And if you put a horse on good hoof supplements, then consider not telling your farrier and see if he or she notices a difference.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Equine Soaker - Hoof Soaking Boot

While Hoof Wraps brought out the Equine Soaker quite a while ago, it's a good enough product to cover again, as well as the new Soaker Sacks that can be used with the Equine Soaker or by itself to keep a medicine on a hoof such as treating an infection from a puncture, using with a epsom salt solution for a stone bruise, or treating a really bad case of thrush. 

Hard rubber boot of which there are many designs, are hard to secure and are only as high as around the coronary band, are the traditional method of applying a medicine poultice or soaking the hoof with epsom salts. And I'm sure some of you, as well as I, have placed a horse's foot in a bucket to soak but that requires holding the horse.  On some horses the bucket works well, on other the Equine Soaker may be a better solution.  

The Equine Soaker is a heavy duty nylon sack and comes with two EVA hoof pads for the inside bottom and is secured using two velcro straps and draw cord secured with two cord locks so you can secure the equine soaker above the coronary band and above the fetlock. An additional Velcro EZ strap is provided as well to replace a worn out velcro strap or to additional secure the Soaker Sack. The Equine Soaker is made of thick ballistic nylon and has a coated nylon liner, and is six inches in diameter so it will last a long time and fit all but an elephant's hoof. Priced currently at $34.95 it is an affordable piece of equipment to have on hand.

The Soaker Sack comes in a package of two Soaker Sacks, two Velcro EZ straps and 1 EVA foam pad and are 18 inches tall x 12 inches wide. The Soaker Sacks can be used inside the Equine Soaker to prolong the useability of the Equine Soaker. Currently priced at $18.00 they are another affordable item for your horse medicine bag. Both of these pieces of horse health care items are available from Hoof

Monday, March 18, 2013

Horses Stopping to Eat

Alicia sent me a message on her 12 year old Quarterhorse mare stopping to eat: "Thanks for your information on feeding horses. I have a type of feeding problem with my 12 year old quarterhorse mare who when I have her in hand will stop abruptly to eat grass. It takes me fotrever to get her to quit eating. She also does this when I ride her. It is a drag to ride her with her stopping all the time to eat, but as least when I am riding I can squeeze her and yell at her which usually gets her moving again. My questions are why does she do this and how to I get her to stop?"

Your horse stopping to eat is a obnoxious habit whether it is while you are leading it on the ground or riding. While it is disrepectful you can't fault the horse until you make him aware that this behavior is unacceptable.

Sounds to me like you have found out how hard it is to pull your horse's head up from grazing with the lead line.  If it looks like my tongue in cheek photo at top then you are going about it wrong.  You won't win a pulling war with a horse.  It is easier to pull their head to the side and move their feet - their front end or back end over....or if you bump on the lead rope.  But if you do nothing else then you haven't solved the problem. You have just stopped them from eating after they started, haven't got her to understand stopping to eat is unacceptable.

The right thing is having respectful behavior with you, on the ground or in the saddle. So the wrong thing, stopping to eat, has to be difficult. So I think you need to lead her so she has a chance to stop and graze so you can specifically to train her not to stop and eat. Put a halter on her and lead her, anticipating andbeing being prepared for her to start an attempt to stop and eat. As she stops and trys to drop her head, you can re-direct her, with energy, to back up or move her front end or back end around. Then stop give her a pause - it is this pause or rest that helps them figure things out, then contine leading her again and be prepared to repeat.  

This is much like I do if a horse won't stand for mounting or begins to walk off as you get your seat as this,  is unacceptable behavior as well.  My horse Junior often grabs at weeds when we are moving.  I used to not worry about this too much especially at a walk, but lately I have been checking him from doing it because he needs to be with me all the time - not just when he chooses,.....a horse can get out of position going after an occasional nibble or worse yet, the problem could get bigger and develop into a problem of where the horse stops on his own to grab a bite.  Trail or lesson horses with new riders tend to learn this habit (and many other bad habits).  The trick is to get it solved now before it becomes harder to solve.       

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Escape Artist Horse

Escape Artist Horse - we probably have all had one or two. I remember when I was managing a large stables with over 40 horses, we had a large turnout where sometimes there would be as many as twenty to twenty five horses.  We always had to watch when a Buckskin Gelding, named Buck (go figure) was turned out since he could and would work the protected barell latch on the turnout gate and release all the horses.  The first time I saw all the turnout horses loose, I didn't believe the explanation for the escape,...I just thought someone didn't latch the gate,...until I watched Buck nimbly operate that gate latch one time.

Anyway, it still continues to amaze me just how smart and adaptive horses are.  Many people have seen the video of the Mariska a Friesan mare opening stable gates, but in case you haven't I have posted the article and video below.   

A stocky Friesian horse at a farm near Midland, Michigan is forcing her owner's to be extra vigilant after developing an amazing knack for opening gates and stable doors.

Farmer's wife Sandy Bonem says she wouldn't want to change Mariska's mischievousness nature but admits it can be infuriating when the horse breaks out of her stable and then opens the doors for the other horses.

Sandy and husband Don Bonem live at Misty Meadows farm along with their four Friesians, two quarter horses, two cats, six chickens and with one Friesian foal on the way.

Last month Sandy posted a Youtube video of some of Mariska's greatest escapes and to her delight it has already been viewed by over 600,000 people in more than 167 countries.

The video shows Mariska first open her own stable door then those of the other horses. She is equally adept at opening both top and bottom locks and even opens a chest freezer.

'Did we teach her to do this?,' writes Bonem on her blog. 'No, we most certainly did not, it makes life such a challenge for us. Especially as we have only to forget just one of the backup latches or chains and she finds the weak link.'

Mariska is clearly an extremely smart animal who has developed her jail-breaking skills since she was a young foal.

Mariska has always been fascinated with trying to open things and over time has progressed to more complicated escapes using her nose and teeth to push and tease at even the most stubborn of locks.

As well as enjoying the freedom of the farm, chunky Mariska - who is a bit on the hefty side for her height - is also on lookout for food.

The Bonem's used to store their grain in an old white freezer until the greedy horse discovered a way to open it. The grain was then moved to an empty stall but once again that proved no problem for the wily horse.

To keep a tighter reign on Mariska and ensure the safety of all of their horses, the Bonems have had to drill holes into their stall doors and add extra pins to try and prevent Mariska from going walkabout.

This year the couple have an extra special reason to keep close tabs as Mariska is pregnant and expecting in July. 'She is very sweet and loving and intelligent. We can't wait to see her new foal this year, she is an awesome mother and we are so glad she is ours,' writes Sandy Bonem.

In preparation for pregnancy, Mariska has been put on a diet which has so far failed to result in any weight loss. Despite reducing the horse's daily hay intake she remains a hefty 1280lbs.

Perhaps Mariska has discovered another way to break out and eat grain when the Bonems aren't looking.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cowboy Humor - Old Blue

A young cowboy from Wyoming goes off to college. Halfway through the semester, he has foolishly squandered all his money. He calls home.

"Dad," he says, "You won't believe what modern education is developing! They actually have a program here in Laramie that will teach our dog, Ol' Blue how to talk!"

"That's amazing," his Dad says. "How do I get Ol' Blue in that program?"

"Just send him down here with $1,000," the young cowboy says. "I'll get him in the course."

So, his father sends the dog and $1,000.

About two-thirds of the way through the semester, the money again runs out. The boy calls home.

"So how's Ol' Blue doing, son?" his father asks.

"Awesome, Dad. He's talking up a storm," he says, "but you just won't believe this - they've had such good results they have started to teach the animals how to read!"

"Read!?" says his father, "No kidding! How do we get Blue in that program?"

"Just send $2,500, I'll get him in the class."

The money promptly arrives. But our young cowboy friend has a problem. At the end of the year, his father will find out the dog can neither talk, nor read.

So he shoots the dog.

When he arrives home at the end of the year, his father is all excited. "Where's Ol' Blue? I just can't wait to see him read something and talk!"

"Dad," the boy says, "I have some grim news. Yesterday morning, just before we left to drive home, Ol' Blue was in the living room, kicked back in the recliner, reading the Wall Street Journal, like he usually does.

Then Ol' Blue turned to me and asked, "So, is your daddy still messing around with that little redhead who lives down the street?"

The father exclaimed, "I hope you shot that SOB before he talks to your Mother!"

"I sure did, Dad!"

"That's my boy!"

The young man went on to law school, and now serves in Washington D.C. as a Congressman......

Monday, March 4, 2013

Correcting Your Horse versus Disciplining Your Horse

Kayden wrote and asked about disciplining her horse: "I don't want to be unnecessarily rough with my horse but I am confused on not only what I should be disciplining my horse for but how to do it. I know that some behavior doesn't necessarily mean the same level of discipline or punishment. I think I would want to err on the side of caution though, your thoughts?"

Well, the first thing I would do is start thinking in terms of correcting your horse, helping him find the right answer, as opposed to disciplining him which is more akin to punishment. Correction has a positive connotation while discipline often seems to be a negative approach. In the world of training humans some people would call punishment as a motivation to learn as “negative re-enforcement”.

Horses are not going to rationalize the why on punishment. You run the risk of proving your horse right when he thinks he can't trust you, which he has an instinct for anyway.

An example of helping him find the right answer is - if a horse won't stand still for mounting I may make him move around in a circle a couple times with some energy, then offer to let him stand still - and he often will right away. Sometimes I may have to do this a couple times before the right answer is apparent with him. The right answer in this case is standing still. The point here is that you are correcting him by helping him find the right answer. This is often expressed as making the wrong thing difficult, the right thing easy. This is simple enough to understand but difficult to do when we let our emotions especially frustration and anger get in the way. You just can't take it personally. And honestly, this is something I've struggled with as I'm ashamed to say I always didn't think this way..

Another example could be if the horse walks off as I am getting my seat, I’ll back him up a few steps with energy then offer to let him stand still. Again, correcting him and helping him find the right answer. Imagine mounting and the horse moves off on his own accord then you jerk on his mouth then whack him, what will he do?. He may bolt or maybe not, but you have increased his anxiety. Now he may be thinking that his moving was justified because of having his mouth jerked on and being whacked or whipped. This is counter-productive. 
Yet another example may be trimming or cleaning a horse’s hoof. How often have you seen a horse try to take back his foot jerking a person, sometimes the farrier off balance. An impatient horse shoer will get mad and try to hit or kick the horse which only increases the horse’s anxiety and justifies him not wanting to give his foot and diminish his ability to run away. If you would hold onto the horse’s foot even if he is jumping around a little you would soon get to a place where the horse’s relaxes, then you immediately give him back his foot. He begins to learn that when he gives his foot to you, he’ll get it back.

Again, correction as opposed to punishment, and using the practice of making the wrong thing difficult, the right thing easy, is going to be your best bet to solve most all of your horse related behavior issues.