Musculoskeletal Anatomy Of Your Horse

horse skeletan INKYMOUSESTUDIOThe musculoskeletal system consists of the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints of the head, vertebral column and limbs, together with the associated muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Its primary function is to support the body, provide a system of levers for locomotion and in some instances to provide protection to certain vital structures, like the brain and eyes.

As a prey animal, the horse’s musculosketal system had to develop to allow him to move at great speeds to escape a predator.  The horse’s musculoskeletal system consists of the bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Their primary function is to support of the body, provide motion, and protect vital organs. There are 205 bones in the horse’s skeleton. Twenty of these bones are in each foreleg and 20 in each hind limb, for a grand total of 80 bones in the four equine legs.

Muscles contract and release. Whereas contraction is a process we can voluntarily create, release is not. When muscles tighten and cannot achieve full release, they remain tight and shortened or contracted). This puts strain on the surrounding areas – tight muscles lead to spasm (knots) which leads to tears.

Horses have two types of muscle fibers:  Slow twitch (red) fibers need oxygen to properly work.  They are used more in horses that need strength and endurance. Fast twitch (white) muscles don’t need much oxygen to properly perform.  They are found more in horses that need quick bursts of speed that doesn’t have to be maintained for any length of time.   Training can have a bearing on muscle fiber composition. The number of fast twitch muscles can be increased as horses are trained and become more used to going longer distances.

equine muscle HUMANANATOMYLIBRARYThe fuel for these muscle fibers is a combination of glycogen (the main form of carbohydrate storage), glucose (sugar), and fat, with the emphasis on fat during non-strenuous activity. However when speed increases, more glycogen and/or glucose is needed as fuel through a process known as glycolysis. This involves the breaking down of glucose or glycogen into energy (ATP) without oxygen and is an anaerobic reaction. Glucose is the end product of carbohydrate metabolism and is the chief source of energy for living organisms. Excess glucose is converted to glycogen and is stored in the liver and muscles for future use. Moving at a high rate of speed like cantering or galloping requires a continued burst of energy.  It isn’t long before the fat and glycogen stored by the muscles is unable to supply all of the energy required and anaerobic glycolysis (without the presence of oxygen) occurs with its more rapid burning of glycogen.  Lactic acid accumulates as the result of glycolysis and can bring an early onset of fatigue.  The most important commodity for the equine muscles to function appropriately is oxygen.  

Tendons and ligaments in the horse are the “belts” and “cables” that hold bones in place and allow the muscles to do their jobs in creating propulsion— forward, backward, sideways, and up and down. Because of the workload often put on them, tendons and ligaments are frequent sites of injury and disease.  Tendons attach muscle to bone while ligaments connect bones and strengthen the joints.  During exercise, a horse’s tendons can stretch from one to three inches. When the tendon is pushed beyond its “strain” capacity, injury can result. The damage normally involves rupturing of the tendon’s collagen fibers, resulting in inflammation, soreness, and an inability of the limb to function normally.

Proper conditioning and nutrition are the most important components of a healthy musculoskeletal system.  Classic Equine Equipment offers two options to keeping your horse’s bones, joints and the rest working properly – stall mats ( to take the strain off when standing in a stall and an equine treadmill ( to help condition your horse.

Photo credit: Human Anatomy  Library, Inky Mouse Studios

Find the Right Riding Instructor for Your Child

child riding THESPRUCEYour child wants to learn to ride a horse. Great! Your first task will be to find a riding instructor who is a great fit for your child. This can be a little bit of a challenge because every child and every instructor won’t necessarily be a great match. Put these tips to work to help find the right riding instructor for your child.

Consider Your Child’s Confidence and Learning Style

A riding instructor needs to match your child’s learning style and confidence level. If your child is shy and lacking confidence, then you need to look for an instructor who is patient and supportive. Additionally, an instructor needs to understand how a child learns and be willing to work with their learning style.

If your child has a learning disability, this can be important to note to the instructor. Depending on the exact disability and its severity, it may affect how your child learns to ride, so the instructor may need to adapt his or her methods. If you suspect that the disability could have a significant effect on your child’s lessons, have a discussion with the instructor and ask him or her how they would approach the instruction.

Ask Around for Recommendation

If you know other parents of children who ride, ask them for recommendations of local riding instructors. Local summer horseback riding camps may also be able to provide recommendations. This can be a great way to start out on the right path to finding a great instructor.

Watch the Instructor Teach

When you think you’ve found the right instructor, ask if you can come and observe a lesson or two. Watching the instructor teach can give you an idea of their approach and style, and often you’ll be able to quickly tell whether they would be a good match for your child. If you find that the instructor is not a good match, think about what qualities make that so and use that knowledge in your continued search.

Schedule a Trial Lesson

If everything looks good, schedule a time for your child to have a trial lesson with an instructor. Depending on your child’s age, it may be a good idea for you to be present for this lesson so you can observe how your child and instructor get along.

Finding a great riding instructor for your child can take a little time, but it’s worth it – your child may spend many years riding with this instructor.


Hinge vs. Sliding Stall Front Doors

One of the major decisions that you will face when building or expanding your barn is selecting what style of horse stall is right for your barn. While there is plenty of variety between stall styles, stall doors come in just two styles – sliding and hinge doors. Unsure of which type of door is right for you? Here’s some information that might help in your decision!

sliding-horse-stallSliding Stall Doors

Sliding stalls doors are a popular option for many horse barns. Sliding doors have a major advantage in that they save room, since the door doesn’t swing outward into the barn aisle. For this reason, sliding stall doors are ideal for busy facilities where multiple horses are frequently coming and going. They also make a great choice if you are dealing with a narrow barn aisle in your facility.

Sliding stall doors do have less aesthetic appeal than hinged stall doors. Sliding doors must be supported by an overhead track. While the overhead track isn’t as appealing as the open appearance of a hinged stall door, you need to weigh whether the space saved by a sliding stall door is worth it for your facility.

Hinged Stall Doorshinged-horse-stall

Hinged stall doors need room to swing out into the barn aisle. This means that your barn aisle must be fairly wide, especially if you have two rows of stalls directly across from each other. You will also want your barn aisle to be free of items like tack boxes so that you can easily navigate the aisle with a horse.

If you are considering installing hinged stall doors, carefully evaluate your barn aisle. The aisle needs to be level, since the bottom of the stall door may get stuck on uneven flooring. Ideally, you should build your stall so that there are at least a few inches of clearance between the bottom of the stall door and the flooring of the barn aisle. If your barn aisle is full of hills and ruts, a hinged stall door might not be the best choice for your barn.

Hinged stall doors are aesthetically pleasing, because they make it possible to have a more open stall plan than a sliding stall door will allow. Hinged stall doors can make for an elegant appearance, such as that offered by the European Stall Series. They can truly transform the atmosphere of your barn!

If you’re still unsure about which type of style for stalls is right for your barn, please visit our website or contact Classic Equine Equipment.  We would be happy to talk about our different stall lines and can help you to find the best product for your barn.

photo credit:  Classic Equine Equipment

Use Your Smartphone For More Than Selfies

horse on cell phone THESALEHORSESmartphones can be used for everything these days – listening to music, reading emails, surfing the internet, watching movies and, of course, taking pictures and videos.  But you can also use your phone for more than taking selfies.  Here are some ideas on how to use the camera on your phone with your equestrian life.

If you are looking at a new horse, snap a picture of it with your phone.  Save it with as much info as possible.  Ex. Brownie HappyBarnStable 010117.  After looking at 3 or 4 brown horses, you won’t be able to remember if “Brownie” was the one with the white star at Joe’s Barn or the one with the white blaze at Happy Barn Stable.  Taking a picture can help you remember who is who. And if you’re phone allows you to video the test ride as well. 

If you see something you like on the internet, but want to see it in person at your local HBG with phonetack store, save the picture to the phone.  Since tack styles are often similar with one or two small differences, having the picture can help you be sure the one you’re looking at in the store is the same one you liked online.

Conversely, if you see something you like in a store, but think you can get it cheaper online.  Take a picture of the store item and save with as much info a possible.  Ex. Wintec Isabell Saddle Bob’s Tack

One of the hardest things to do is to keep track of something on your horse.  For example, it’s October and you want to be sure your horse stays at the same weight in January.  Or you notice a lump and your veterinarian says “keep an eye on it” and let him know if there are any changes.  When you see your horse nearly every day, it’s hard to remember if it really looked like THAT the last time you checked.  Taking a picture to refer to can help to compare.  Use a body condition guide to document your horse’s weight.  Photo the lump with a ruler in the picture to indicate the size at the time.

Photographing or videoing your horse is a great help to your veterinarian in case you have to call him.  What may look like an emergency gash to you may look like a medium cut to your veterinarian if he can see it before he comes out.  With a picture, he may be able to instruct you how to care for it yourself and save the vet call.

The say a picture if worth a thousand words and if your horse is exhibiting odd or unusual behavior, it’ often better to show the veterinarian a video rather than try to describe it in words.  A horse that is “shaking” vs. “trembling” can mean different things to a vet.  So eliminate any confusion and send a video.

All of us want the perfect barn or pasture.  If you are visiting somewhere and see am idea on how to improve your barn, ex. a different style of window or how to handle winter turnout, ex. a gravel sacrifice area, snap a picture so that you’ll remember just what you’d like to do at your barn.

See it, snap it, remember it.  Use your phone to document what’s important in your equine life.

photo credit: The Sale Horse

2018 Resolutions From The Inside Out

2018 jumping horse new yearEvery New Year, we equestrians make a list of resolutions aimed at improving our riding.  More riding without stirrups, more dressage lessons, signing up for that first horse trial.  All are great, but recently came up with 12 resolutions designed to help you meet your challenges by working on your life from the inside out. All of them can be modified to help equestrians have their best 2018. Here are some to consider:

1. Seek balance

As equestrians, we can sometime get super-focused on our finding results.  While blue ribbon are great, we sometimes forget that riding should be a fun time to share with our horse and our barn buddies.  Take a relaxing group trail ride and enjoy nature.  Or attend an upcoming event (horse-related or not) with friends. Work hard to meet your goals, but take time for other things, too.

2. Roll with the punches

Change can happen.  A new trainer moves in, there are new rules for turnout or a new boarder wants everything done “her” way.  Some people have a more difficult time accepting changes, but in the end it can turn out for the best.  Maybe the new trainer allows you to try a discipline you never considered.  Or the new boarder turns out to be the perfect person to watch your horse when you go out of town. You can’t un-change things, but you can decide how you’ll react to change.

3. Embrace your inner optimist

Some people are born optimists. They always wee the glass half-full or can easily make lemonade from lemons.  If you are one of these people, this year try to teach others to do the same.  And if you aren’t, don’t fall into the “gloom and doom” trap that seems to be everywhere these days.  Look for the good in people and situations.

4. Listen to your heart

“To thine own self be true,” said Shakespeare. But if that means you constantly display emotional extremes, your “true self” can be seen as slightly neurotic. Emotions can manifest themselves to a much small degree.  Are you mildly disappointed you got a second instead of first?  Don’t wail how you never win anything and you should just give up riding.  After a while, people will stop listening.   Say what you feel by all means, but keep it all in perspective.

5. Chase variety

Nothing will sour an equestrian or promising horse faster than endless circles in the indoor arena.  Spice things up a little bit by changing your routine. Don’t feel you have to give away all your dressage tack and instantly start barrel racing.  Start small and start slow to give you and your horse time to develop new muscles and a new mindset for any changes.  Practice dressage on the trail.  Improve your jumping using a gymnastics grid.  After a short break from routine, both you and your horse will go back to the arena brighter and happier.

6. Test your limits

Make this the year that you and your horse “go for it.”  Time to get out of that comfort zone and move the next level.  Really stretch yourself this year and see what you are capable of.  Feel something is holding you back?  Take the time to figure it out and then make the decision to confront it.  Most of our perceived challenges are not based on our abilities, but on our fear looking silly.  What would you do if you knew you could not fail?  Mentally prepare and you’ll feel much more capable.

7. Say “no” more often

This is one you can probably use in every aspect of your life.  Caring for a horse can bring out the nurturing instincts in you that can spill over into caring for everyone else’s horse or owner, too.  This leads to you becoming overextended and ultimately resenting the time helping others.  This year, slow down, reevaluate your personal priorities and draw clearer boundaries. This may be tough at first as others may just expect you to agree.  Don’t be afraid to ask for time to consider what’s best for YOU before you agree to take on a commitment for someone else.

8. Find a new stage — and a new act

You’ve done Training Level Test 4 so many times that you can do it in your sleep.  Yes, you always get a high score and the blue ribbon. But when Show Managers see your entry in the mail, they automatically sign you up for T-4 without even looking.  Judges who have seen you ride before are considering just copying your old tests because everything is always the same.  This year, channel you inner “Meryl Streep” and start preparing for a new role, e.g. a new level.   Soon you’ll be ready to take center stage and wow them with your new “act.”

9. Silence the self-doubt

As an equestrian, it’s a given that you want everything to be perfect. And, according to everyone else, you are usually pretty darn close.  But there’s that pesky voice in your own head that keeps telling saying you’re just not good enough.  This is the year you tell that voice to “shut up!” It’s tough, but it’s up to you to let that voice know it’s time to hit the road.  You know your abilities – now trust that they can get you through anything. Because they can!

10. Go with your gut

It’s great to think things through.  Some may even make a list of pros and cons before making a decision.  But getting lost in all these details and “what if’s” can end up with you doing nothing.  “Analysis Paralysis” it’s been called.  The solution is to give priority to what’s important to you.  That doesn’t mean simply ignoring how your decision will affect others.  But constantly going a little to the left, then back to the right will not make anyone happy.

11. Pay it forward

Riding shouldn’t be all about the ribbons. Take time to try to make a better world – or at least a better horse world.  Create a better partnership with your horse. Volunteer at a horse show. Consider fostering a rescued horse. Donate hay or grain to horses in need. Work with a therapeutic riding program. Contact politicians in support of horse-friendly legislation. Sponsor a “meet the horse” program for inner city kids.  There are as many ways to pay it forward as there are horse lovers.  Ribbons can fade after a few years, but the good you do for the horse community will last forever.

12. Break free

Even if you stick with only some of the previous resolutions, this could be the year that you break free from what’s been holding you back from being your best self. This could be in your riding, your work or even relationships.  Make the commitment to see what the New Year brings and take every opportunity to learn and grow.

Thanks to Sara Coughlin at Refinery29 for her article with these resolution ideas.

Photo credit:

4 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Barn

Have you started planning out your New Year’s Resolutions? Are you stumped on just what your goals for this next year should be? We’ve come up with some great ideas for barn-related New Year’s Resolutions. Take a look and see if one of these ideas might be right for you.

aisle 71. Upgrade Your Barn’s Stall Components This Year

Are your barn’s stalls in need of an upgrade? Using old, weakened, or deteriorating stalls can actually put your horse’s safety at risk. You don’t want to trust that a low-quality stall will keep your horse safely contained, so now is the perfect time to resolve to upgrade your barn’s stall components.

Make it your resolution to call Classic Equine Equipment to talk about the many stall choices that we offer. We’re sure to have an option which works for your barn. Classic Equine Equipment stalls are customizable so that you get the right fit, look, and atmosphere for your barn.

2. Perform a Barn Renovation

Have you been thinking about renovating your barn, but put the process off due to financials, planning, and the headache of the renovation itself? Then make a resolution to let Classic Equine Equipment help you plan your barn’s renovation. Working with a barn which you’ve outgrown or which just doesn’t fulfill your needs can make barn chores and horse care unpleasant. We can help you renovate your barn so that it suits your needs and looks great.

3. Finally Build That Indoor Arenaarena

Having an indoor arena can truly transform your property. There are countess advantages of an indoor arena that you can’t ignore, such as increased income from lessons that can continue year-round and the ability to charge a higher board rate when you have an indoor arena available.

Classic Equine Equipment offers pens and arenas in different sizes and designs; resolve to call us in the New Year to get a quote on your new indoor arena.

4. Install Automatic Feeders for Convenience

white-horse-with-feederYou can’t beat the convenience of having automatic horse feeders installed on your property. Automatic feeders can feed your horse smaller, frequent meals throughout the day without requiring you to be present. These feeders, like the iFeed feeder, can free up your schedule and improve your horse’s health.

If you’re thinking of installing automatic feeders, this might be the perfect time to also look into installing automatic waterers.

CEE NEW LOGO HI RES 75Whatever you decide for your New Year’s Resolution, Classic Equine Equipment can help. Give us a call and let us help you make your resolution a reality.



2017 new year

Learning What Horses Can Teach Us

Equine Experiential Education

By Guest Blogger Cathy Mahon, Harmony and Healing with Horses

experientiall horse learning 2Equine Experiential Education-Guiding the Discovery Horses have been a part of my life for the last 30 years. In the beginning, I was a typical horse owner, hoping to ride my horse on a regular basis in and outside of the protected area of an arena. My plan early on was to learn from the advice of various horse owners. Even when it worked, though, I felt an uneasiness about creating fear in another creature, so I could have a cooperative, submissive partner.

horse human connection CATHY MAHONBecoming a Centered Riding instructor in 2009 changed my life. It put me on a journey of self-awareness and self- discovery that began with my own reflection on what it meant to be balanced and centered, not only with the horse, but in my life. The idea that I would consider the horse’s feelings and desires and be able to understand their nonverbal language put greater responsibility on my behavior instead of the horse’s. I learned that real contentment comes when you allow the experience of others to enhance and expand your own experience.

I then met Robin Gates as she shared her gift through Liberty Training. I knew I was seeing something spiritual. She approached with an openness that invited the horse into her space even as she asked permission to enter theirs. She called it a cord of connection and I found it magical. I had seen glimpses of this kind of interaction in my own work but only as a small part of my end goal in controlling the horse’s behavior. She created a sense of safety and comfort in their presence that tapped into a horse’s natural desire for a leader-not one who demands and controls a limited set of behaviors, but one who asks for a response, knowing how to reflect on the answer and adapt to it in the moment.

This approach to horses changed my behavior in and out of the arena. As a physician assistant, 25 years in practice, I was used to having the answers and giving what I thought was the best advice to patients who sought my services. I felt I knew what the best course of action was and when patients resisted my advice, I was content to move on to the next person, hoping to find someone who would find my answers sufficient, even brilliant. It was all about my needs, my ego, my choices.

I realized that I had been treating my horses the way I treated everyone in my life. I continued to explore the idea that horses, in their own natural state, will see the world as it is RIGHT NOW-no judgments, no comparisons, NO EGO! I listened and let them offer me their own suggestions as to how to best approach them. I learned to read their body language and interpret the physical, mental and emotional state that was reflected there. I accepted that I did not have all the answers and that it was okay to struggle in my search for one.

Experiential horse learning 1Experiential education is learning by doing with reflection from the horses. These sensitive, intelligent creatures respond to both positive and negative changes generated by a person’s body and behavior. People are more readily willing to accept feedback from a horse than they do from humans, as there is no judgment in the horse’s response. People trust the horse’s reflection as honest and direct. As we learn from the wisdom of the horse, we develop our intuition and create new possibilities for our lives. The activities are designed to highlight aspects of personal growth and turn it into a tool for empowerment to make things happen. You then have a chance to identify specific strategies for creating positive change that will benefit you today and in the future.

In 2015, I became a facilitator through the Equine Experiential Education Association. I have furthered my education through courses in personal coaching and by creating my own business Harmony and Healing with Horses offering classes and workshops here in the Pacific Northwest.  It is now my purpose and my passion to guide the discovery of each person’s authentic and best self with my teacher, the horse

ABOUT CATHY MAHON:  Cathy Mahon is a talented  horsewoman who brings her cathy mahonlifelong love of horses and her passion for teaching & healing together to create amazing educational experiences. After graduating from Rutgers Medical School over 30 years ago,Cathy’s first career as a physician assistant gave her the knowledge and skill to care for people at all stages of life. A natural teacher and healer, she then found her true calling in the work of equine experiential education (E3 certified) after discovering that her “free time” with the horses led to enormous strides in her own personal development. She is dedicated to offering extraordinary classes & workshops for empowering stronger and more confident individuals through the wisdom and guidance of the horse.

photo credit:  Hamony and Healing With Horses

The Holiday Horses

christmas horse santaBefore there was Santa Claus, there were Saint Nicholas and Sinterklaas.  And, before there were reindeer, these holiday gift-givers rode horses. 

Prior to Chistianity, people celebrated a midwinter event called Yule (the Winter Solstice).  During this period  supernatural and ghostly occurrences were said to increase in frequentcy, such the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky. The leader of the wild hunt is the god Odin, usually sleipner christmas horseseen with a long white beard.   He is also known by the  Old Norse names Jólnir, meaning “yule figure” and the name Langbarðr, meaning “long-beard.”  Odin rode his gray horse (the eight-footed steed called Sleipnir) on nightly rides and visiting people with gifts.  Years later, Odin’s white beard became part of the “new” Santa Claus, his blue robe was changed to red, and his eight-footed grey horse became eight reindeer!

christmas sinterklass and white horseIn the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg,  Santa Claus is called “Sinterklaas” and the holiday for giving gifts is December 6th. He traditionally rides the rooftops on a white horse, known by various names.  Sinterklass is an elderly, stately and serious man(unlike our jolly Santa Clause) but does have the transitional white hair and a long, full beard. Also like Santa, he wears a long red cape and a red hat, but holds a long, gold-colored ceremonial shepherd’s staff with a fancy curled top.  

To keep track of who should receive presents, Sinterklass writes in the book of Saint Nicholas notes on all children – the start of the legend of Santa’s list of who was naughty or nice.   Sinterklass’ solution to helping the poor by putting money in their shoes  later evolved with Santa Claus into giving presents. 

After going into hiding for a few centuries during the Reformation when public celebrations were banned, Sinterklass returned to ride over roof tops and deliver presents through chimneys to good girls and boys – but now his horse was grey.  Either people realized that whites often turned grey as they age or riding over all those roof tops turned the horse darker, but you’ll either hear Sinterklass has a white or gray horse.  Children leave a carrot, apple and/or hay as a treat for Sinterklaas’ horse.

Enjoy your holiday and remember that horses were the start of gift giving – and give  your horse a treat in return!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and all the best in the new year!


Gifts To Your Horse You Can Give All Year Long

Christma horse WIDE OPEN PETSHopefully your horse has been on the nice and not Santa’s naughty list.  Finding a gift for the horse who has “everything” can sometimes be a challenge.  But here’s an idea – the perfect gift for your horse may be a little bit of pampering.  We know you already pamper your horse with good food, a great stall and lots of treats, but these are some extra ways to make him/her feel extra special.

If you don’t already, let him enjoy a nice long turnout.  Outside with grass to graze on would be ideal, but often difficult to find in the winter. But a turnout in the arena can be just as relaxing.  You may have to come at an odd hour to get access to it if you’re barn is as busy as mine.  And once you turn your horse out, don’t just abandon him and go about your business.  Spend time with him just hanging out, getting in touch with your own “inner horse.”

You can also take your horse to where to great grazing by handwalking your horse around your barn or on a nearby trail.  It’s a great way for both of you to relax and enjoy nature and the changing seasons. 

For extra relaxation, get your horse a massage by a trained equine massage therapist.  While much of what the massage therapist does can be to help with an injury or with muscle tightness, a general, gentle and overall massage can be just what your horse needs.  Be sure to tell the massage therapist if there are any problems with your horse and what exactly you’d like her to do. 

equine massage EQUINE JOURNALIf you can’t afford a massage therapist, you can do some gentle massaging yourself.  Stay away from the muscles on his back and legs and concentrate on his neck.  Many horses carry tension there.  Start at the top of the crest of the main and place your hands next to each other with your 4 fingers on one side of the crest and your thumb on the other.  Gently rock that small section of your horse’s neck back and forth.  After a few rocks, move down a bit on the crest.  When you get to the bottom, move back up again.  Click on this link to see a brief video on “jostling.

For a warm and wonderful treat for your horse, consider making him a bran mash at the end of his “spa day.”  While the occasional bran mash won’t hurt your horse, giving them too frequently can sometimes cause issues so check with your vet if you want to make a bran mash part of your horse’s daily routine. 

Basic Bran Mash

  • 6 cups of COB (COB is a mixture of corn, oats and barley, sometimes mixed with bran mash EQUISEARCHmolasses) OR use your horse’s regular feed
  • 1-1/2 cups bran
  • 1 apple cut in quarters or smaller
  • 3 carrots cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup of molasses (if your COB already has molasses, you can skip this or add less)
  • Hot water (this works best when made with hot water and then allowed to cool)

Place all the ingredients in the feed bucket. Pour on enough hot water to just cover all the ingredients.  Mix everything together. Cover the top of the bucket with a towel and let it steam until cool enough to eat, but still warm. Remove the towel and mix everything together.  If the mix seems to dry, you can add additional water and mix again.  Keeping your bran mash on the “soupy side” will help get extra water into your horse and help keep him from becoming dehydrated.

Finish up your horse’s “spa” day” with a pat or a kiss before you leave and he’ll have wonderful dreams of you.  Happy Holidays to you both!

Photo credits: Equine Journal, Wide Open Pets, Equisearch

Retirement Option For Your Horse

IMG_0491Your horse has been your partner and your friend for many years.  But now, for whatever reason, you have to find a new home for him.  You may have outgrown him.  Or it may be for financial reasons.  Or his age is catching up to him.  But don’t despair.  There are a lot of great homes and options out there for your equine friend.  Here are a few you can consider.

  1. If your horse is still sound, you may want to consider leasing him, especially to someone at your barn.  They will take care of the expenses and care, but you still retain ownership and are the ultimate decision maker.  If you think you’ve found a good home for your horse, you can lease him out for six months or so to make sure that it’s a good fit all the way around.
  2. Of course you can sell him to another rider. It may be a pony you’ve outgrown who’ll make the perfect first horse for a child.  Or you may be switching disciplines and your hunter/jumper doesn’t share your interest in dressage.  He’ll be much happier with an owner who jumps.
  3. You can donate him to a therapeutic riding program. These programs help at risk kids or children with disabilities by introducing them to horses and riding.  Your horse must be sound and totally calm.  But if he makes it as a therapy horse, you can be assured that he will have lots of brushing and tons of carrots.
  4. You can move him to a lower rent section of your barn. Many stables have stalls and pasture board.  If you’ve had your horse in a stall, consider moving him to one of the pastures for board.  This will cost you less and will let him walk around and hang out with his horse friends.   Or if your barn has daily turnout and if you can afford it, you can leave him right where he is.  As long as he gets out on a regular basis, many horses are happy in stalls.
  5. You may want to consider boarding at a retirement facility. As horses are living longer lives, many boarding stables are seeing the benefit of offering boarding of retired horses – no matter what their age.   Most often, they will offer a pasture with shelters where several horses live.   In this case, the barn manager assumes the majority of the responsibility for the care of your horse.  They will make sure that they are groomed and that they are up-to-date on shots, dewormed and have their feet done.  All of this, of course, will be billed to you in addition to your monthly board and feed.   They can also provide additional services such as blanketing, bathing and giving supplements.  Be sure to check with the barn manager on the cost of everything.KellyBrennaChelsea 112010

Also discuss with the barn manager how involved you want to be in the care of your horse.   Do you plan come out weekly?  Are you comfortable with the barn’s vet and farrier or do you prefer someone you’ve had as a vet care for your horse.? These are all things that should be negotiated before moving your horse.

If it’s an older horse you are retiring, be sure that the retirement barn is prepared to take care of senior horses.  Often, barns buy hay and feed in bulk and they are usually geared towards younger or active horses.  Older horses can require special senior feed and hay may need to be soaked before feeding to help older horses chew.   

Older horses may have special medical need such as joint medicine or may need extra blanketing in the winter.  Be sure anyone taking care of your retired horse is aware of any special needs.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners has a great publication, “AAEP Care Guidelines for Equine Rescue and Retirement Facilities.” This will help  you know what questions to ask and what services you should expect. Click HERE to download a copy.

Photo credit: GreenGate Farm