In Case Of Emergency…..

This month has been just one disaster after another for most of the country, especially for horse owners.  From hurricanes in the south to fires in the west, nearly everyone has been effected by some concern for the safety of their horses in case an evacuation is required.  It may be too late to prepare for the current emergencies, but you can prepare for the future.

The most important thing to do? Have a plan.  Don’t THINK about having a plan – HAVE A PLAN!  Flooding and fire are the two most common causes for evacuation of horses from your barn.  Who will do what, where will horses go, what about hay and feed, how will you i.d. your horses later?

  • How will you monitor the situation – TV, radio, social media?  Who is most likely to have the most up to date information?  Social media is great, but they may not have all the information such as road closures, evacuation centers, etc.                                
  • Who is responsible for relaying the information to horse owners or others associated with your barn?  How will you communicate this?
  • Will owners be required to come in and take care of their own horses or will the barn manager take responsibility as the lead on decisions.
  • What are the options for evacuation? A barn fire may just necessitate moving horses to a faraway pasture. Larger disasters may mean moving several miles away.  Is everyone going together? Who decides who goes where?
  • Who has trailers, how many horses can each haul, how is most likely to be able to get to the barn quickly, can others haul someone’s trailer if the owner is not available?
  • Will you take feed and supplies for all horses or are owners responsible for getting their own feed.  What about medications?
  • Will someone be responsible for taking tack, water/feed buckets, etc?
  • Do you have an emergency supply of halters and lead ropes stored somewhere for easy access.  Even if you normally keep your horse’s halter close by, in all the chaos of evacuation you may find your halter/lead missing.
  • If your horse isn’t comfortable being trailered, practice, practice and practice so that he loads easily.  A fire or flood is no time to learn your horse isn’t a good loader.
  • Finally, look at the tough decisions.  What will you do if you can’t take your horses?  It’s better to put on a break-away halter with your i.d. and turn them loose.  They will do their best to survive.  Don’t tie them up or leave them in a stall and hope someone will come and rescue them.

contact info in horse's mane pro equine groomThere are several ways you can keep your horse i.d. to be returned to you.  I use an engravable dog tag from the pet store – many are now engravable on both sides.  I put all my contact information and attach it to my horse’s halter. Or write your phone number in indelible ink or paint on your  horse’s hooves.  Or, write your contact information and seal in a waterproof bag.  Braid or tie it into your horse’s mane.

We hope you never have to face a disaster that puts you and your animals at risk.  But just in case, make sure you have a plan in place – and everyone knows what it is.

photo credit: VoiceOfTheHorse, EquineGroom, The Oregonian

Review Your Horse’s “Normal” T-P-R

horse-with-headacheKnowing how your horse acts and reacts when he is feeling good will help you to faster realize when there is something “not right” with him. Every horse owner needs to know what is “normal” for their horse. Being able to report these to your veterinarian when you contact him can help evaluate whether a visit is necessary and/or how quickly your horse needs to be seen.

Get a baseline of your horse’s temperature, pulse and respiration (T-P-R) when he is healthy, relaxed and before working himYou may also want to get additional readings in both summer and winter and after riding to know what is normal for your horse in different circumstances.

What you’ll need:

  • watch that counts seconds
  • a thermometer – plastic digital one are best for ease and safety)
  • a stethoscope.
  • A notepad or record book for recording the vital sounds

The normal temperature for the horse is 100.0 degrees. However, a horse’s temperature can vary somewhat with the season. During the winter, your horse’s “normal” temperature may drop several degrees, but low temperatures generally are not causes for concern.  On the other hand, summer heat, as well as exercise, can often raise a horse’s temperature a few degrees.  These circumstances must also be taken into account when determining if there is cause for concern.

 It is easiest to take your horse’s temperature rectally with a clean digital thermometer. Coating the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly can make it easier for you to insert and more comfortable for your horse.  Always tie a string to the end of the thermometer to make sure you can retrieve it.  You can also briefly wrap your horse’s dock in a bandage to make it easier to push the tail hair away to insert the thermometer. Most thermometers will beep when the maximum temperature has been reached.

If your horse’s temperature is over 102 F, you should call your veterinarian. 


The pulse rate is taken by listening to the heart, located on the left side of the chest just behind the elbow. You can also take the pulse at the thick artery that runs underneath the cheekbone on either side of your horse’s face.  Place three fingers (never your thumb which has its own pulse) on the artery and press upward and inward.

Using a stephoscope can often make hearing and counting the heart beats easier.  Some people listen to the heart rate for 10 seconds and then multiply by 6, or 30 seconds and multiply by 2.  However, if you have any questions, listen to the pulse rate for the full minute.

The normal pulse rate is 40 beats per minute.

 Horses that are fit may have rates as low as 28 so knowing your horse’s condition is important.   Young horses and ponies can sometimes have a bit faster pulse rate.

Rates between 40-60 are considered “serious”, but may be explained by an elevated
temperature such as on a very hot day.  Also, if the horse is suddenly frightened or excited, his heart rate can become temporarily elevated on a very temporary.  Wait a few minutes and then recheck to see if the rate comes down when he is more relaxed. However, rates above 80 are considered “critical” and indicate a very serious problem.

However, ANY rate above 40, even 44, should be regarded with suspicion and evaluated in the overall picture of how the horse is feeling.


Respiration is how hard your horse is breathing. Watch his sides as he breathes in and out and count the number of complete breaths.  Deep heavy breathing, or breathing with an extra abdominal effort, abnormal noise, labored breathing, or gasping are all indications of a serious problem.  

The normal rate for horses is between 8-12 breaths per minute. Again, many things can effect this that must be taken into consideration before considering whether it is abnormal.  One common factor is his temperature, excitement or a heavy workout.


While temperature, pulse and respiration are the three most common vital signs used to determine your horse’s health, there are other indicators that you may want to check and report to your veterinarian:

  • Mucus Membrane Color: The normal color is pink
  • Capillary Refill Time: After depressing the gums, the color should return within 1-2 seconds.
  • Gut sounds (borborygmus): A horse should have a normal gurgling sound on both sides of the abdomen back near the flanks.
  • Hydration: Pinch and elevate the horse’s skin over the shoulder, then let go. If it snaps back into place very quickly, your horse is properly hydrated

For a chart that can be posted next to your horse’s stall with instructions on how to take temperature, pulse and respiration, as well as normals and critical values, click HERE.

DANGER – Summer Heat!

sweating horseHeat stress and heat stroke are extremely dangerous conditions for your horse.  Often seen in the summer months in sports such as eventing, jumping, combined driving or other strenuous activities, especially in areas where the humidity is high, heat problems can also occur simply when riding an unfit horse at your own barn when you push him too hard or he has to stand in a poorly ventilated trailer for too long. There is a difference in the causes of heat stress and heat stroke.  Heat stroke can occur over a relatively short period of time.  Heat stress, also known as heat exhaustion, usually results from protracted fluid and electrolyte loss during exhaustive exercise.

As the horse continues to work, heat builds up in his muscles.  When the number of your horse’s respiration is faster than his heart rate per minute, this is called an inversion. This is a sign of high internal body temperature and the respiratory tract is attempting to dump some of the heat load. To remove the heat, your horse sweats, pulling heat from the interior of his body to his skin in a process known as evaporative cooling. Around 70% of the heat of locomotion is normally dissipated from the body using this process.  Warm air temperature and high humidity prevent a horse from adequately dissipating internal heat from his body.

However, other horses are susceptible to heat problems as well.   Horses with a full winter coat are at risk since the hair keeps in the body heat during cold weather.  Heavily muscled horses, such as Warmblood breeds and Quarter Horses, are at greater risk of retaining heat in the working muscles than leaner-breed horses such as Arabians or Thoroughbreds (thus the preference for these breeds in endurance racing). This is because they have a lower ratio of body surface area for cooling relative to their body mass that’s generating the heat. An overweight horse with abundant fat layers beneath his skin cannot dissipate heat effectively. Transporting a horse in an enclosed van in hot weather can contribute to dehydration and heat stress. Additionally, a horse which was shipped to a warmer climate and has not been acclimated to exercise in hot and humid conditions is ill-prepared to deal with the added stress of the new environment no matter how fit he is. Most horses need at least three weeks in a warmer climate to allow their bodies to adapt and dissipate heat more efficiently.

Know your horse’s usual temperature, especially after exercise.  A rectal temperature over 103.5° is a sure sign the horse is overheating. Also know your horse’s respiration rate and heat rate and check them if you think your horse may be stressed.  Finally do the capillary refill test to check blood flow and the pinch test to test for dehydration.

horse getting showerAfter any exercise here are some steps to help your horse cool out. As you finish a workout, bring your horse to a walk. Hop off and spend a minute or two walking him so blood flow continues to flush metabolic waste products and heat from his muscles. In warm weather, copiously bathe his head, neck, and legs with cool water. Large blood vessels in these locations flush heat to the skin surface, and rapid evaporative cooling is achieved by continual sponging of these areas. Apply cool water and as it heats up, scrape it off of major muscle groups, such as over the loin and hindquarters. Offer a bucket of water to your horse immediately following exercise. Find a shady spot for an overheated horse, preferably with decent air circulation from a light breeze or fan. An enclosed space with stagnant air adds to heat retention. Fans are helpful for convective cooling–as the air flows across the horse’s body, it pulls heat off the skin. In severe cases, severe dehydration might need to be treated with Intravenous fluids.  This can also help to cool the internal organs and muscles. Talk to your veterinarian about checking your horse’s acid-base balance and electrolyte status and correct if necessary.

stall with grill and fansBe aware of the condition called anhidrosis. Some horses in hot, humid climates can lose the ability to sweat due to overworked sweat glands that lose their ability to sweat and cool himself. The horse’s skin will be dry and hot to the touch.  There may be sweaty areas under the mane and saddle or in the groin area, but no moisture when you touch it.  Stop exercise immediately and restrain the horse from further physical exertion. Move the horse to a cool location and start aggressive cooling techniques immediately. This condition can easily proceed to heat stroke.


So enjoy the summer with your horse.  Just be aware that too much sun, humidity and exertion can cause problems for your horse.

Portland LOVES Polo!

Horses on fieldWhen you think of the game of polo, you usually think of it taking place in The Hamptons or in Kentucky or in England. But Portland, Oregon is not only rapidly becoming a hub of great polo, but it is building a reputation of horsemen and women giving back to the community.

On July 22 and 23, 2017, the Oregon Polo Classic, presented by the Classic Wine Auction, brought together the excitement and sophistication of polo with an exceptional two-day food and wine experience. The well-attended event was held at the Hidden Creek Polo Club in West Linn, Oregon.

The weekend included a Family Day on Saturday as well an “over 21” Championship Day where guests enjoyed exciting Championship polo, delicious food, exceptional wines and more. Highlights included the ladies hat parade and judging and the “divot stomp” where spectators go onto the polo field and help replace the grass divots created by the ponies hooves.

This was the second year for the Oregon Polo Classic at Hidden Creek and proceeds from this event will benefit three non-profit organizations that assist over 30,000 children and families suffering from physical, mental, behavioral, socioeconomic and other challenges in the Portland area.

In 2005, Sean and Gretchen Keyes started creating their vision to build polo grounds and stables, with an elevated viewing area seating for spectators and immaculate polo fields that would draw international polo players to Portland to compete.  In 2008, Hidden Creek Polo Club was open and ready for play.

field and tents JPGHowever, Hidden Creek is more than just a polo club.  It’s a venue dedicated to raising money for Portland charities. In addition to their signature event, they also hosted Polo Noir on August 12th. This single-day experience celebrated the game of kings with live music and Willamette Valley wine, and featured three-time Grammy Award winning legend Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers.

Polo originated in Persia sometime between the 6th century B.C. and the 1st century A.D.  Over the centuries, it became popular in Asia, India, Argentina and Great Britain before making it to the United States in 1876.  Polo is now an active sport in 77 countries.

The United States Polo Association (USPA), the governing body for polo in the U.S., was established in 1890.  There is to promote the game of polo while overseeing the safety and welfare of participants and mounts.

In addition to the professional players at Hidden Creek, the Pacific Northwest has is home to a great many amateur, high school and college teams.  Think you might like to try polo?  Click HERE and enter your location for a listing of polo clubs in your area.

photo credit: Hidden Creek Polo Club


Classic Equine Equipment Is Made in America!

made in america 2In support of the White House’s proclaimed “Made in America” week, we wanted to celebrate Classic Equine Equipment’s long-time commitment to their own made-in-America products.  Their contribution to the long lifespan of products is a quality point you won’t see on the surface. All of the company’s steel products are made in Classic’s hometown of Fredericktown, MO, ensuring complete control over the quality of the process and the end result.

Classic Equine Equipment, located among the rolling hills and horse farms of Southern Missouri, was founded in 1991 on a love for horses and a commitment to their ultimate care and safety. Though a lot has changed since then, our mission remains the same: To provide quality stall systems, barn components and accessories to meet the needs of discriminating horse owners.

The company goes to great lengths to make sure their passion for quality and love for horses shows in the details of the products we produce – smoother edges that prevent scratches or scrapes; narrower spacing between grills to make sure that small hooves don’t get caught; galvanized hand-welded steel frames that can endure all the punishment and abuse your horse can throw at them and keep on shining.

The quality that distinguishes Classic Equine’s products is not always evident to the untrained eye. The rust prevention built into Classic stalls is a case in point. The aisle 7company uses only pre-galvanized steel in its grillwork, stall hardware, pasture gates and all other components. A thin coating of zinc is applied to the steel at the mill, which combines with the powder coating process to provide an additional layer of rust prevention. It’s one example of the many extra steps Classic takes to build longevity into great looking, highly functional equipment. This is the case in settings ranging from private, small facilities to large, heavy use public boarding operations and veterinary hospitals.

Classic Equine’s stall systems come in styles that suit several budgets, but they’ll never be the cheapest based on price tag alone. When economies over the products’ long life span are factored in, however, the upfront costs are a sound investment. Plus, Classic Equine Equipment promises the one thing nobody can put a price tag on: peace of mind.

For more information, contact Classic Equine Equipment:   (800) 444-7430

Source material:  Ride magazine, Classic Equine Equipment

Are You Ready For Your Own Barn?

horses in stallsWhether you’ve been around horses a long time and have lots of ideas from boarding stables or you are brand new to horses, building your own barn can be a challenge.  Location, construction materials, stall types and amenities are all decisions to be made. There are literally hundreds of options when building your barn and we won’t be able to cover them all.  But we’ll go over the most common types of barns and stalls as well as tips to remember before and during the construction process.

Before we even start, let’s just take a moment to decide if horsekeeping on your own property, especially if you’re thinking of  opening it to other boarders, is right for you.   If you’ve never owned horses before, starting at a boarding stable with a knowledgeable barn manager, workers and trainers is a good option.  You will have total responsibility for your horse and the horse’s of others.  Basic and special feeding, deworming schedules, getting horses ready for the vet or farrier, and basic wound care are all necessary skills.  Since every horse is different, new horse owners often have questions about feed, shoeing and general health.  It’s very helpful (and comforting) to know that there’s someone at the barn who can helps answer your questions. And they will look to you to be that person.  In addition, you will be expected to have adequate coverage to look after the horses if you decide to go away for a few days.

Another consideration of keeping horses at your barn is cost of supplies.  Remember that large boarding stables often buy hay and bedding in bulk because they have the room to store it.  This help keeps cost down.

Vet visits are another cost that can be reduced with other horse owners.  Vets charge a “farm call” fee in addition to any medical treatment.  With a large stable full of horses, there is usually someone else at the barn who’d like to talk to the vet or have him take a look at their horse while he’s there.  You can usually split the farm visit fee with another boarder.  Spring /fall shots and dental visits are another way to save money.  Boarding stables often have “shot clinics” where the vet comes out and all the shots are done at one time.  The same is true for dental work.  Again, this saves you the cost of the farm call fee.

Finally, farrier services can be difficult to find if you only have one or two horses and live in a remote location.  Farriers often like to work at stables where they can go to just one place, set up once and shoe numerous horses.  It may not be worth his time to have you as a client if most of it is spent driving to and from your barn for just a few hoof trims.

horses and friends

Finally, there’s the camaraderie principle.  This doesn’t have a cost, but after a few months of keeping horses at home, you may find you miss the social aspect of being at a barn.  It’s nice to talk to someone after a good lesson or have a shoulder to cry on after a bad one. On the other hand, if you are the barn owner or manager, your privacy will be in jeopardy as clients feel free to stop by your home at any time.


If boarding horses at your home still sounds like a good idea, the next step is doing a business plan.  It’s a necessary step to ensuring that your barn is a success. We’ll tell you more about how to do create basic and easy next time.

Photo credit: Petattack, iHeartHorses

In For The Long Haul

commerical horse hauler truck outsideWhile many horse owners are used to trailering their horse several hours, there may come a time when you’ll need to move your horse a much longer distance.  This could be because of a move you will be making to another state and you’ll be taking your horse with you, or you may be purchasing a horse that lives in another part of the country.  If you have the time and the truck/trailer to do so, you can certainly trailer your horse yourself, but there are many benefits to using a professional horse hauling company.

“A horse in a trailer is constantly working and using energy to maintain his balance,” says Carolyn Stull, PhD, of the University of California–Davis, who has done extensive research on the effects of trailering horses on horses.  Stull compares it to mild jogging or trotting. One of the major reasons to use a professional horse hauling company is that, like professional residential and commercial movers, they have all the “right stuff” to minimize stress and strain on your most prized possession – your horse:

horse in commercial hauler

Their trailers have special air ride suspension that makes long trips more comfortable for your horse with fewer bumps across the way. Acceleration, deceleration and lane changes all can have an effect on your horse’s legs.

You have the option of different size stalls. Most horses are most comfortable in a 4’x9’ stall-and-a-half.  The narrow stall comes with a chest bar which makes it easier for the horse to balance himself on the road.  You may also opt for an 8’x9’ box stall.  While these are typically used to transport mares with foals, these are also ideal when transporting senior horses, especially those with joint issues.  Horses are loose and can turn and shift weight and even lay down to make tired legs more comfortable.

Your horse will have company along the way – both equine and human. The humans ride with your horse in the trailer to make sure that they have adequate hay and are safe.

They have teams of drivers who can take turns and get your horse to his destination in the quickest possible time. This is especially important if you are shipping your horse in the summer heat.

They have scheduled stops every 4-6 hours along the way where horses get water and rest from constant movement of the trailer. On most cross country trips, there are scheduled layovers at facilities that are used on a regular basis and, therefore, are known to be of high-quality. The layovers normally use a 12′ x 12′ box stall for each horse and all horses are monitored throughout their stay. Veterinarians are on call at these locations.

As an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) regulated carrier, your professional carrier will typically have equine mortality insurance included in the price.

They know what your horse needs. From Coggins tests and health certificates to the benefits of blanketing and boots, your professional horse hauler can answer your questions on shipping.

You’ll know where your horse is and how he’s doing. Most professional movers have GPS and communications systems that allow dispatchers to keep you updated on where your horse is and how they are doing.

Most professional horse haulers will be happy to quote you a price and give you a window for pick-up and delivery.


It’s understandable that horse owners have concerns when it comes to someone else transporting their horse.  Make sure your horse hauling company is licensed and insured, has quality people driving and looking after your horse, and is willing to provide you with references.  Then relax.

horse coming off horse transport

photo credits: Holly Hill Transport

Cleaning Up After the Winter of 2017

barn in snow photography bloggerIt’s been a long, hard winter.  High winds, excessive snow, rain, ice and flooding have taken their toll on whole communities, including our farms and stables.  What are some things to look for when evaluating the safety and sturdiness of your barn for the rest of the year.

  • Have the wind or ice dumped tree branches on or around your barn?  These branches are a danger not only now, but in the summer when dry conditions can makes branches instant fire-starters. Clear debris, combustible material and weeds  at least 30 feet from structures for fire protection?
  • Check barn structure. Is there damage to posts, beams or walls? Is the roof in good condition?  End doors and paddock windows? These are key components to keeping your barn strong so repair or replace these as soon as possible.
  • Are the outside electrical outlets and switches safe to use?  Water and electricity never mix and can cause shock or fire.  In the future, consider waterproof covers for electric outlets.
  • Inspect all wiring. Older wiring may have damage from weather or rodents looking for a dry place to hand out. .
  • Check all electrical cords. Appliances and equipment should be unplugged when not in use.
  • Barn aisles are a common place to store things when bad weather causes havoc. wick buildings tree in barnAre you storing hay, farm equipment or jumps in the aisles? Make sure you clear aisles of unnecessary items. Any items remaining stored in the aisles should be placed on hooks high enough that a panicked horse will not injure himself. Tack boxes and other items on the floor should not prevent stall doors from opening.
  • Daily barn cleaning may have gone by the wayside during stormy weather.  Now’s a good time to check if there are  cobwebs and dust accumulating behind refrigerators and other appliance, around lights, near electrical sources.  If so, clean the area.
  • Horses stuck inside for extended periods of time can find destroying their stalls a great way to pass the time.  Also, horses afraid of thunder or strong wind can panic and break stall items.  It’s a good idea to:
    • Check stalls for damage to wood surfaces, broken or cracked feeders, protruding nails.
    • Check the floor for damage or uneven surfaces, especially if you use dirt stalls.
    • Look around the bottom of stalls for areas that may be hazardous when a horse rolls.
    • Check latches and door knobs. Are they in good working order? Do they pose a hazard? Will tack or horses be hung up on them?
    • Check floors for standing water, slick surfaces and uneven areas. Are your water pipes in good order? Freezing conditions can cause floors to “heave” up and become uneven.
  • Check your tack room to be sure that water isn’t dripping from a missing roof tile onto someone’s tack.
  • Your arena(s) should be checked for the same things are your barn – broken posts, damaged wiring, uneven footing and other safety issues.
  • Don’t forget to check your fencing all around your stable for loose or broken boards.

If you love your barn and your damage isn’t great, you should be able to be back to normal with alot of good riding time left.  However, if the damage is too great, now may be a good time to consider a new or renovated barn.  We’ll try to give you helpful hints for that in the next blog.

photo credits:  photography blogger, wick buildings


Looking Your Horse In The Mouth

horse teeth wikepediaEquine teeth are designed to wear against the tooth above or below as the horse chews, thus preventing excess growth. The upper jaw is wider than the lower one. In some cases, sharp edges can occur on the outside of the upper molars and the inside of the lower molars, as they are unopposed by an opposite grinding surface. These sharp edges can reduce chewing efficiency of the teeth, interfere with jaw motion, and in extreme cases can cut the tongue or cheek, making eating and riding painful.

In the wild, a horse’s food supply allowed their teeth to wear evenly.  But with domesticated horses grazing on lush, soft forage and a large number being fed grain or other concentrated feed, natural wear may be reduced.  Equine dentistry can be undertaken by a vet or by a trained specialist such as an equine dental technician, or in some cases is performed by lay persons, including owners or trainers.  Regular checks by a professional are normally recommended every six months or at least annually. 

Many horses require floating (or rasping) of teeth once every 12 months, although this, too, is variable and dependent on the individual horse. The first four or five years of a horse’s life are when the most growth-related changes occur and hence frequent checkups may prevent problems from developing. Equine teeth get harder as the horse gets older and may not have rapid changes during the prime adult years of life, but as horses become aged, particularly from the late teens on, additional changes in incisor angle and other molar growth patterns often necessitate frequent care. Once a horse is in its late 20s or early 30s, molar loss becomes a concern. Floating involves a veterinarian wearing down the surface of the teeth, usually to remove sharp points or to balance out the mouth. dr johnson dental

Problems with dentition for horses in work can result in poor performance or behavioral issues.  The wear of the teeth can cause problems if it is uneven, with sharp points appearing, especially on the outer edge of the molars, the inner edge of the premolars and the posterior end of the last molars on the bottom jaw.

Other specific conditions relating to wear include a “step mouth”, where one molar or premolar grows longer than the others in that jaw, normally because the corresponding tooth in the opposite jaw is missing or broken, and therefore could not wear down its opposite, a “wave mouth”, where at least two molars or premolars are higher than the others, so that, when viewed from the side, the grinding surfaces produce a wave-like pattern rather than a straight line, leading to periodontal disease and excessive wear of some of the teeth, and a “shear mouth” when the grinding surfaces of the molars or premolars are severely sloped on each individual tooth (so the inner side of the teeth are much higher or lower than the outer side of the teeth), severely affecting chewing.

Horses may also experience an overbite/brachygnathism (parrot mouth), or an underbite/prognathism (sow mouth, monkey mouth). These may affect how the incisors wear. In severe cases, the horse’s ability to graze may be affected. Horses also sometimes suffer from equine malocclusion where there is a misalignment between their upper and lower jaws.

The curvature of the incisors may also vary from the normal, straight bite. The curvature may be dorsal or ventral . These curvatures may be the result of an incisor malocclusion (e.g. ventral=overbite, dorsal=underbite). The curvature may also be diagonal, stemming from a wear pattern, offset incisors, or pain in the cheek teeth (rather than the incisors), which causes the horse to chew in one direction over the other.

Other common problems include abscessed, loose, infected, or cracked teeth, retained deciduous teeth, and plaque build-up. Wolf teeth may also cause problems, and are many times removed, as are retained caps.

Good dental care can not only eliminate these problems, but can help your horse lead a longer, healthier life.

Photo credits:  Wikepedia, EquineVeterinaryService

5 Things To Consider When Choosing Stall Bedding

horse in shavings horseandhoundUK

When it’s time to bed your horse down for the night, there are a wide variety of options to use for bedding  your horse’s stall.  Here are some things to  consider when deciding on what your horse will stand and sleep..

  1. What are you going to use it for?

The most common use of bedding for stalls is to absorb urine and make cleaning manure easier in your horse’s stalls.  In this case, shavings or wood pellets or even newspaper are your best bet.   Most will absorb the urine and some will even help with odor control.  However, be careful when you select your shavings – black walnut shavings can be dangerous to your horse.

horse stall with matsHowever, if you plan to use bedding to help protect your horse’s legs and give him a soft spot to stand, you will probably want to use shavings.  But also consider putting stall mats (like those offered by Classic Equine Equipment at down first.  This can help reduce the amount of shavings you use and give your horse another layer of cushioning.

  1. What’s available in your area and in your budget?

Not all products are available everywhere.  For example, I saw several advertisements in national magazines for a pelleted product called “Woody Pet.”  It sounded perfect, but it was not available in my area. If you live near a woodworker or lumber mill, you might be able to get a deal on shavings or sawdust – must make sure you ask what type they are as some can be hazardous to horses.  

  1. Where are you going to store it?

Bedding made from shavings or sawdust requires a large, covered area to keep them from flying around and/or getting wet.  If you have a large horse operation, buying bulk shavings may be economical.  But if you have a smaller farm with 4 or so horses, you may find that wood pellets that come in bags are the easiest to store and use.

  1. How long will it last?

You want a bedding that does the job of cushioning your horse and absorbing urine, but does not become so saturated that it is hard to remove or causes irritation to your horse. It’s better to clean more often than to wait until bedding becomes thoroughly saturated. Damp or wet bedding softens the horse’s hooves and provides a bacterial breeding ground. Bedding that does not absorb well also allows more ammonia to be released and can irritate your horse’s respiratory system. Dusty or moldy bedding can also be a respiratory irritant. 

It’s important to develop a good mucking routine when cleaning the stalls.  By teaching workers to only pick up manure and soiled bedding, you can make all products last longer.  In addition, consider where you put your shavings.  If you spread them all over the stall, even under the water and feed buckets, you are probably wasting your bedding.  Some horses have favorite spots where they urinate – bed more heavily there and skip areas where your horse doesn’t go.

  1. What are you going to do with it after it’s been used?manure and bedding compost pile

Once the bedding has been soiled, you will, of course, have to get rid of it.  Composting is one way, but certain beddings don’t break down as quickly as others.  Straw and wood pellets break down quite quickly in the compost pile.  Wood shavings and sawdust do not.

Photo credits: Horse & Hound, Classic Equine Equipment; Red Worm Composting