Q: It’s almost time for spring--what can I do to help my horse transition to the new season easily?
Cavallo President Carole Herder shares her advice….
A: Different weather patterns and vegetal growth have a significant impact on animals who live outside. Transitioning between seasons can be challenging, especially when conditions change dramatically. Properly managing some vital practices will provide your horse with the best chance for weathering these potentially severe fluctuations.
Exposure to excessive wind, rain and sun can take a toll on your horse’s immune system. Physical protection for your horse means a safe, adequately spacious, clean and dry shelter. We can easily get caught up in the glamour of building these beautiful stables with all the bells and whistles. I have seen a few barns that are posher and more well-equipped than some homes for humans. However, when it comes to shelter, all your horse really needs is cover from the rain or excessive sun and refuge from the wind. Although stalls are great shelter, they’re just shelter for your horse, not a place to store him. When stored in a stall, for too long, your horse feels sad, bored, lonely, forgotten and stressed out. This can happen when the weather is very bad. A horse in this situation can develop a disorder called ‘learned helplessness’, which happens when the horse feels he has no control to change or alter the circumstances of his life and further, that any step he might make results in unwanted results. This is a precursor to what some refer to as the silent epidemic of equine depression and it’s the reason horses develop habits like cribbing, weaving and stomping. Your horse is essentially a wild animal and does not respond well to confinement, restriction or aloneness.
FOOD AND MEDICINE
It’s important to select feed and quantities of food based on the health and activity level of your horse. If your horse is more sedentary for a period, or older, he will need less food than if he is an extremely active competitor. An older horse may need his hay soaked to make it easier to chew and digest. If your horse seems to be struggling, it is always best to try, or at least consider, natural remedies and preventative care over chemical compounds from pharmaceutical companies. This line of thinking then opens the controversial issue of worming; as some companies and even some veterinarians want to sell wormer products. It can be a big business for them. If you do give your horse commercial wormers, it is good practice to do it when conditions change, and I have even heard that a full moon encourages the parasites to move together at the base of the intestinal tract, which would seem like a very good time to blast them. Either way, give your horse a cycle of probiotics after the worming to help rebalance the natural flora in the gut.
Your horse’s digestive system consists of millions of microorganisms in his miles of intestinal tract that contribute to either his health and wellness or create disease and impaction. It’s good to keep things as consistent and regular as possible throughout changing conditions because the weather can really affect the growth of crops and the composition of the forage he is munching on. Again, a good way to breeze through these fluctuations is by providing a high quality probiotic to support and promote the heathy bacteria. And be wary of the ingredients the feed industry packages up and markets to us. Usually you get what you pay for. Look for good quality because often the less expensive products either have less active ingredients or cannot be readily absorbed by your horse. Of course, and as you well know, you should always make a good supply of fresh water and salt available.
LONG IN THE TOOTH
In the wild, horses have access to hours of grazing to trim their own teeth. Our domestic horses don’t have that, so they need dental help. It’s important to have a horse’s teeth balanced periodically, especially when their food and conditions are changing. Unfortunately, a problem occurs when these “equine dentists” get too heavy-handed. The industry now has power tools to make it easier for practitioners to float horses’ teeth. But power tools also make it easy to get carried away and shave too much off.
Horses’ teeth continue to grow, but only about three or four inches throughout their lifetime, and all growth ceases at around 12 years old. Some older horses are now having serious problems masticating their food because, somewhere along the line, someone has been a bit heavy handed with the power tools and shaved too much off their teeth.
I think of it like this: if our horses only grew three or four inches of hoof throughout their lifetimes, we’d be extremely careful who we let near them with a rasp or nippers. Similarly, we need to be very careful who we allow in our horses’ mouths. When choosing a “dentist” for your horse, make sure the practitioner is well educated, practiced and comfortable using hand tools.
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR RIDING
Horses hoofs condition to tolerate the terrain of their habitat. During climate changes their hoofs also change. Many horses live on grassy pastures and bedded stalls, and then for 5% or even a generous 10% of the time, we ask them to pack us up a gravelly trail or hard asphalt road. Their hoofs may not be accustomed to this terrain and the load is increased with our weight and the weight of our saddles. This additional weight can be 20% of their own body weight, on average about 200 pounds. It compresses the soles of their feet even further into the ground. For this reason, they need additional hoof protection.
Most horses are uncomfortable travelling outside their living conditions with extra weight on bare feet. It’s clear that our horses do need protection while being ridden. I see horses trying to make their way to the soft shoulder at the side of the road all the time. Nailing metal shoes to their feet is not the answer. The shape of a metal shoe does nothing to protect their soles. The metal does not absorb shock, but in fact refers concussion further up the limbs. And the nails restrict the shoe and clamp the hoof in a tight position so that it cannot flex to respond to the weight of the horse. Taking care of your horse’s physical being is central to his overall well-being. When you get opportunities to ride your horse, you can very easily provide safety and protection to his hoofs with Cavallo Hoof Boots. Your horse’s grace, beauty, and strength are enhanced or diminished by his physical health and comfort.
I feel in my heart that caring for this glorious creature is an honor.
Visit https://www.cavallo-inc.com to learn about the full line of hoof boots. Want more info? Sign up here for our free newsletter: https://www.cavallo-inc.com/email-signup-AHP. Call (877) 818-0037 from the USA or Canada or call direct, (604) 740-0037.
About the Source:
Carole Herder is the author of the #1 International Bestseller, There Are No Horseshoes in Heaven. She has been involved in horse health since 1993. Her company, Cavallo Horse & Rider Inc., develops, manufactures and distributes horse products in 26 countries. Herder designed and developed Cavallo Hoof Boots and Total Comfort System Saddle Pads. She presents trainings around the world to teach the benefits of keeping horses in a natural state. Herder is an honored recipient of the Royal Bank of Canada Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is a member of the Women’s Presidents Organization, supporting female entrepreneurs in every industry.
Cavallo Horse & Rider
High Res Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rrgeb5kk1n25flu/AssistyourHorsethrough%20SeasonChangePhotobyTiagoAlmeid.jpg?dl=0
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