June 19th, 2017– I received a call at around 12:30 pm saying that Cruz had a major gash in him and that they vet should be called. Of course being the paranoid piss poor horse woman I am I decided to leave work for the day and go take a look at it. I walked in spoke to Tracy for a few minutes while heading straight for the worried little monster. What I came to find shocked me to say the least.
His wound is about three inches down and five to six inches across spanning about the size of my hand. Now it is not for the faint of hearts. He cut the skin, blood vessels, and hair completely off from the muscle and tendon. In saying that I could not be more proud of how he handled the entirety of the following events.
We proceeded to consult with the vet to see what would need to be done with the extra flap of skin as well as the wound itself. We were advised that they would not be able to save the skin but cut it off to help prevent infection. The skin was removed after cleaning the wound with betadine solution and giving Ace, Bute, and a good old fashion bailing twine twitch.
The skin was removed and the wound cleaned a second time. We cold hosed the wound to bring down major swelling in the leg and around the open muscle. We allowed the betadine to set in and begin working. We also applied Vetericyn Wound & Infection Treatment as well as basic ointment for wounds. We then covered with 4×4 gauze pads covering the top and side with duck tape.
Cruz was also given Sulfamethoxazole and Trimethoprim Tablets (SMZ) twice a day for 7 days. SMZ’s will help prevent infection from the inside out and the Betadine scrub prevents infection from the outside in allowing time for the wound to begin healing.
June 20, 2017– I went out on my lunch hour to allow time for Cruz to walk around and check his wound and dressing which had recently been changed. Later that evening I allowed him out in the round pen while taking care of the barn and horses. I addressed his wound which looked much cleaner. It was thoroughly scrubbed and I mean scrubbed with betadine solution. The leg below was rinsed away the betadine stain on his legs. We allowed the betadine to stay on the wound. More vetericyn was applied and the wound left open without bandage. Prior to leaving another dose of vetericyn was applied and the wound left open.
June 21, 2017- Out after work today and was not only disappointed but very upset in what I found. Leaving the bandage off was a horrible idea to follow. The wound had become overly try and the muscle began to split. No photos were taken. Wound was cleaned, medicated, packed with medication and rewrapped. Packing and medicating again at 7:30pm as well to help prevent drying of the wound. Because of cleaning and cold hosing of the wound a high amounts of moisture in the air the hair around was to wet to hold bandage on well. Improvisions were made to keep bandage on. Cruz was highly agitated as he was separated from Sonny for an hour lesson. Bandage came off and needed repacked and applied. Second bandage stayed on better. Picture of first bandage. Mental note to self to not ever let a horse get a wound in this area of the body ever again. We have also started dissolving medication to make sure all is taken. Later that evening while reading a horse care book I came across a photo of almost identical wound but no more was said or pictured about it within book pages. *Horses maybe the death of me*
As we set out this morning on a trail ride with all the girls from the barn I had a lot on my mind as what all it takes to have a safe and decent trail ride. So I put something together that is very short. Part of this is probably me being a very type A personality. I don’t do many things without planning and lists I just don’t because it makes me feel a little better. So in preparing for this trail ride I wanted to look into a few things.
Looking into the weather for the day. I never want to be surprised by the weather out in the middle of a trail.
Speak to those who are going and make sure all plans are made. No one likes to show up and no one else be there.
Always ride with someone else! It is very unsafe to ride alone on trails because something may spook your horse and leave you alone hurt.
Check that both truck and trailer are working properly a day or so prior. Always check for pesky insects inside the trailer that should not belong. (no horse likes to be stung in a trailer)
Hay nets filled and ready to go
Locks for trailer with keys
Make a list of all things needed for the ride.
Saddle and bridle
Boots and protective gear
Halters and lead ropes
Fly Spray and bug spray
Emergency kit in the truck
Appropriate riding attire
Give yourself time to brush your horse prior to loading as well as protective boots the day of.
Hook up trailer, load items needed.
Double check the trailer lights and locks are working
Load horses and head out
Give yourself plenty of time so that you do not get in a hurry.
I am cancelling my lesson today sorry for the late notice.
I am running late and hope I can still have my full hour.
I would like you to do X,Y, and Z while you are at the barn to.
Most likely every riding instructor/trainer has heard these types of statements and cringed. When a riding student schedules and commits to lessons and/or a training program for their horse, they may not realize just exactly what is behind the fees, the amount of effort the instructor/trainer has put into this plan, nor do they realize the negative impact a hasty last minute decision can have on their instructor/trainer.
Riding instructors/trainers most likely have spent the majority of their life riding, managing and caring for horses, competing, participating in and auditing clinics, learning business, spending unusually long hours of their energy and time, and spending the majority of their hard earned money in order to obtain and then offer this knowledge and experience to their students and clients. Yes, it is a passion, and most likely the trainer is doing what they love, but it is truly a LABOR of love and quite an unpredictable and difficult career on many levels.
The profession is HARD work, which means it is also hard on the body. Most riding professionals need to spend income to maintain body wellness with some sort of personal bodywork especially as they age. Not to mention receive some type of “repair work” from a life of horse related injuries and falls. Many professionals also supplement their riding with specialized fitness routines in order to be great at what they do. This person literally puts their life and physical well-being on the line every day due to the risk factor of riding and working with large, powerful, unpredictable, fight or flight animals, on a day to day basis.
Instructors/trainers often are working extra ordinarily long hours in every climate imaginable. They often miss holidays, weekends, and late nights so that their students can enjoy their lessons in their free time on holidays and weekends. As a general rule, there are often no paid holidays or sick days, no company provided health care insurance, company benefits, or retirement plans. Quite simply, when this person does not work, they do not get paid and whatever future financial planning they may want to have, must come out of their own doing and business planning. Some like myself work FULL time jobs to receive the things listed above on top of working in a barn and giving lessons because we enjoy it.
Most instructor/ trainers have costly overheads in order to offer services. This means everything from facility maintenance, to specialized liability insurance, to advertising expenses, to riding and training equipment, lesson horses and their costly care, maintenance of trailers and trucks, upgrades to arenas, fluxuating feed costs, and dealing with the general constant rise of equine related costs. Instructors and trainers also must stay aligned with what the going rate is on other businesses in their geographic area in order to attract and maintain business. If they are not lucky enough to have a covered area, income loss during the winter months can be substantial and even with the covered arena, loss of student motivation and the holidays always have an impact on income.
When a trainer spends their time with a horse in training, there is a goal in mind for the progress and development of this animal. Training is progressive in nature and cannot and should not be rushed. Suddenly pulling a horse out of a good training program on a whim can often disrupt the progress and confuse the horse. This can then lead to behavior problems especially when the horse is then asked to perform by a person less qualified. If the owner then wants the trainer to show and compete the horse after a break in this process, it can increase the risk factor and the well-being of both the horse and trainer because the horse is not adequately prepared mentally or physically. This can also publicly reflect on the trainer’s abilities if the performance is less than adequate and/or dangerous, potentially having a negative reflection on the trainers business.
Just as show horses are, school horses are expensive to maintain and must be used enough to maintain their fitness level and so that they can “pay for their expenses” or this cost comes directly out of the instructor’s pocket. Trainers must allow time to train and school these horses so that they are of good quality and stay “tuned up” for the various riders that ride them in lessons and can participate in horse shows with these students. The instructor/trainer is also responsible for paying for any vet costs related to injuries the horses’ may incur and must also deal with the double whammy of loss of use and loss of income if the horse is laid up due to an injury.
The trainer/instructor only has so many hours in a day they can earn a living and often lessons and training spaces are carefully scheduled so that it ensures they are “paying the bills” so to speak. When a student or client casually cancels lessons or makes hasty training plan decisions, this can financially impact the instructor/trainer dramatically. Cancelling lessons or training sessions and not rescheduling them, means the instructor gets a “pay cut” that month. If just a few students are cancelling lessons over a month’s time, this can add up very rapidly. Even when the student reschedules their missed lessons, this means the instructor has to find time slots in the already very busy schedule to squeeze them in as well as find times the school horse is available so that they are not being over worked.
Monthly scheduling and rescheduling, also involves lessons plans, training schedules, show calendars, fitting in time for all the equine related services such as farriers, equine body-workers and saddle fittings, staff schedules, and if they are lucky scheduling a vacation or time to visit family and friends all takes… TIME. Time to make phone calls, time to return emails and texts, time to coordinate schedules, time to review and set show calendars, time to order monthly deliveries, not to mention time to work on their business financials. So when one see’s their trainer/ instructor during their long working hours at the barn, they may not realize that often when the day is done, the horses are fed, the clients have gone on their way, that this same person may have 30 minutes up to several hours of work to continue while at home during their “off” time.
A good instructor/trainer also has to be “on” every moment when working with their students and their horses in training and they must understand and accommodate their student’s and horses in training unique learning styles. This means staying positive, mentally alert, physically fit, emotionally stable and quiet, staying fresh and inspiring even when at times they may be physically and mentally exhausted, or have their own personal life stresses and troubles. This also means staying flexible and dealing with a multitude of client personalities, some with unrealistic aspirations or undesirable personality traits, in a consistent, tactful, and professional manner.
The point being, even though ultimately, this person has chosen this field due to their love of horses, it is not a hobby, it is their profession and a business, and the means of their income and ability to lead a happy and productive life. Hopefully having an understanding of what this role means will help the student/client maintain a more positive and productive relationship with their instructor/trainer. This can lay the foundation for a wonderful student/teacher partnership of achieving one’s goals and dreams with their horse, which is truly the highest joy and reward for any professional riding instructor and/or horse trainer.
Out here in the Midwest, our summers get seriously hot and humid. I personally don’t mind the heat, but I worry that it’s too much for my horse. He sweats a lot when it gets above 80* and even though his attitude and energy seem pretty normal, I worry that he’s getting overheated and I don’t know it. Is there any information on when is “too hot” to ride? Also, if I’m concerned about my horse, how can I check if he’s overheating, and when should I call the vet?
That’s great that your horse sweats a lot above 80 degrees! It means that he is acclimated to the environment and that his body has made adjustments—such as increasing the sweating rate and starting to sweat at a lower temperature—to adapt to the warmer weather. It’s also great that you notice at what temperature your horse’s cooling mechanisms really begin to kick in and that, even though he’s working and sweating, he still feels good.
To answer your first question, although a specific show, race, or other horse event may decide on an upper limit above which their activity may be modified or even cancelled, there’s really no hard and fast rule among the horse community about when it’s too hot to ride. One of the reasons is that temperature alone isn’t that great of an indicator of how well a particular horse may deal with the heat.
The problem with thermometers
Dry bulb thermometers are great for measuring the ambient air temperature, but unfortunately they don’t give you the whole picture. The next measurement that’s useful to know is the relative humidity, since horses (like humans) rely on sweating to keep their bodies cool but sweat doesn’t evaporate as well when there’s already moisture in the air. So the U.S. National Weather Service came up with “heat index” as a guide. But there are still more factors to take into account! The military devised the more comprehensive Wet-Bulb Globe Temperature Index, which combines temperature, humidity, wind, and solar radiation since air movement and sunshine can dramatically alter not only how hot it feels but also a body’s ability to release heat. My favorite though, and whose app I have on my phone, is AccuWeather’s “RealFeel.” These developers accounted for cloud cover, sun intensity, and even the angle of the sun in addition to the other components of temperature to come up with a number that is much more realistic. So I recommend you base your decision on one of these formulas that is based on more than just the absolute temperature.
Ways to be smart about the heat
Even armed with the latest, greatest technology though, there is still more to consider than just the environment.
It sounds like your horse already lives in the Midwest and so is used to warm, humid summers. If you had just shipped a horse from a cooler, drier region though, it normally takes about 21 days or three weeks for the body to acclimate to the new climate. Experts advise keeping the workload light as horses adjust.
In addition to getting used to a hotter, stickier environment, horses also have to get used to the exercise that is asked of them. If your horse is already fit going into summer, he’s more likely to tolerate the heat better. If not, again, keep the workload light.
Sweat (aka evaporation) is your horse’s primary means of cooling himself, but the other methods of heat dissipation—convection, radiation, and even conduction—play a role too. So find a cool breeze and seek shade when the heat seems overpowering. Cool water is your friend, whether it’s offering your horse a drink before or during exercise (that’s an old wives’ tale that hot horses colic when allowed to drink right after work) or hosing cool water on and scraping it off, as many times as necessary until the run-off isn’t warm.
Although you didn’t specifically ask about this, avoid hauling in a trailer when it’s extra toasty. With the sun rays warming things up and reduced air movement around the horse, it can get very warm inside a rig very quickly (think: dog in a car during the summer). If you must haul, go early in the morning or late in the evening—even overnight!—when it’s coolest and the sun’s rays are less intense.
Likewise, if you must ride, choose an early or late time so that the temperature, humidity, and sun haven’t built up to their strongest levels yet.
Don’t forget to add salt and other electrolytes to your horse’s feed or even a second bucket of water. Normal equine feedstuffs (hay, pasture, grain) don’t meet horses’ daily requirements for sodium. Plus when it’s hot and they’re sweating out a lot of sodium and chloride, horses can become even more deficient in these and other minerals. Since it’s been shown that most horses won’t lick a traditional salt block enough to meet their needs, top dress their feed with extra salt or a more comprehensive electrolyte mixture. It’s also okay to add these minerals to water, as long as you provide a second bucket of plain water for them to drink.
How to know if the heat is still too much
Despite your best efforts, your horse may still get overwhelmed by the extreme weather and not be able to keep up with cooling himself off. This is especially true for the non-sweating or anhidrotic horses (which is a separate blog). Keep an eye out for:
A depressed or dull attitude
Distressed behavior, such as whinnying or kicking
A reduced level of performance
Weakness or even a staggering gait
High heart rate
High respiratory rate (rapid, shallow breathing or panting)
Hopefully before any of these signs occur you recognize that your horse wasn’t dealing well with the heat and humidity and checked his rectal temperature. While the critical core temperature in the horse is unknown, readings above 107ºF are extremely serious. With the normal temperature of the horse being 99.5 to 100.5, anything above 102 or 103 may mean back off. If not, more serious signs may occur such as low blood volume and electrolyte abnormalities, then tying up, GI tract issues, kidney failure, nervous system consequences, and even collapse and death.
In such severe situations, you can help stop the horse’s core temp from continuing to climb by discontinuing work, repeatedly applying cool water (even cold water or ice water if available) all over the horse’s body and immediately scraping off and reapplying, getting a fan on the horse, moving him out of direct sunlight, and letting him drink. When the veterinarian arrives he or she may administer IV fluids and/or oral fluids via a stomach tube. Both sets of fluids will contain electrolytes to help restore the horse’s internal balance of these minerals which are lost in sweat. Additional therapy may be given depending on the horse’s signs.
To sum up (I know there was a lot of technical information in this answer), it sounds like you’re doing a great job paying attention to your horse and paying attention to the environment around you both. If you keep observing things closely and use common sense, you and your horse should be able to safely enjoy summer. And consider this: maybe on those really hot, humid days where there’s no wind, no cloud cover, and the sun is beating down, it’s time for an easy groundwork review, an extra thorough grooming session in a shaded aisle with a fan, or simply a nice, cool hosing off!
As I lay here at the barn i’m thinking a lot about how much my current sunburn hurts and how there is no comfortable position to sit or lay to write this blog post today.
I want to talk about things that are very important in a barn. Those are the simple things that we often times forget. It’s the small little common courtesy is of the barn that can make or break any good barn. When I talk about making or breaking a barn I don’t mean that as in the barn burning down. I mean that in a way of making the barn a better place for all those who board horses, take lessons, have horses in training, or work at the facility. It’s a way of making the barn a happy place, instead of a place of lots of working and looking run down.
Take responsibility. Clean up after your horse in the grooming area and crossties. Until that bridle is on, there is no reason to not do it right then and there. If your horse is completely tacked, it’s a given you’re not going to unbridle him and put him back in a halter so you can clean up. Nor do you want to hook crossties to his bridle. Clean it up when you finish riding. Chances are if it is a busy barn, someone will go ahead and clean it up for you before grooming and tacking their horse. Thank them and remember to return the favor. A boarding stable with horse owners that look out for one another is the best barn to be in. It can be a simple check to make sure all the gates on the property are closed. Or it could be picking out of the arena after riding. It can be putting the polls away and jumps or barrels.Don’t leave your horse’s halter hooked to the crosstie. Before you leave for the day, snap your horse’s halter and lead shank together and hang it in the designated area by his or her stall. In case of emergency or fire, this step-saving measure could possibly save your horse’s life.
Be proactive. One of the best things you can do besides all of the things listed above would be to double check all of the water troughs or buckets and horses stalls. If you water your horse, rewind the hose. If you pick out your horse’s stall, empty the muck basket and put the pitchfork away. Continue reading “Barn Etiquette 101”→
When you get a new horse it is natural that you want to bond with it. Hopefully, your new horse means the start of a new and exciting relationship. Here are ways to help create a bond between you and your new horse
Firm, Fair and Consistent
I first heard ‘firm, fair and consistent’ from a pediatrician a long time ago. I think it applies to horses as well as children. At all times, you should be firm in your leadership. Communicate clearly and firmly your expectations regarding your horse’s manners and behavior. If you ask your horse to step over five steps, and he knows how to do that, don’t let him away with five steps over and three steps back.
But be fair. Don’t expect a horse to do anything it is not trained…MORE or physically able to do. And be consistent. When you ask your horse to back up, do it in the exact same way every time. Feed it at the same times. Use the same aids and cues each time you work with your horse. Horses are creatures of habit and like predictability.
Don’t Just Show Up for ‘Work Times’
Showing up just for riding or driving time can be a temptation given the busy schedule most of us have. But try to take time just to visit. Simple things like hand grazing in a bit of lush grass they normally can’t get to, scratching bellies or necks and just hanging out together is a relaxing way to bond.
There are horse people out there who are against feeding treats. But horses exist solely for our pleasure, and most of us, including myself, like to see our horses enjoy a treat. The key to feeding treats is to be sure you are consistent in feeding your treats safely.
Understanding your horse’s body language and shaping your own body language will help you communicate with your horse and create a closer bond. This has to be done with consistency, however. Something like ‘join up’ or other behaviors you have taught won’t be permanent if your horse never knows what to expect next from you. Learn to understand what your horse is thinking by observing its facial expressions (yes, horses do have them), ears, tail and posture.
Allogrooming is a common behavior seen in horses. Allogrooming is when two horses nibble along each other’s crest and back, mutually ‘grooming’ and scratching each other. (Humans allogroom too–like when two girls do each other’s hair.) Grooming your horse is a pleasant way to bond. Your horse will appreciate it when you are able to brush areas it can’t get to, like its chest, belly and between the legs.
Respect that your horse is a horse, not a human or a big dog. While your horse will learn to enjoy spending time with you, it will also need the companionship of other horses. Horses don’t care about the same things we do–color coordinated gear, winning prizes, or perfectly kept stalls. They want shelter from bad weather, good pasture and water and companionship and leadership from someone they can trust.
Massage and Other Comforts
Learning the basics of equine massage, Ttouch or other therapeutic touches can help you bond with your horse. If your horse knows he can rely on you for relaxation, he will enjoy his time with you. Not only will your horse enjoy it, but it may also enhance his or her performance. Many horses learn to lean into the pressure of massage or even chiropractic work, indicating where they need work.
Experience Things Together
Just like a shared experience between people can bring them closer together, so can sharing experiences with your horse. The more you train, ride or drive your horse, the more you and your horse will learn to understand each other. I’ve often heard competitors claim their horse looked after them during a competition, even though they themselves didn’t feel at the top of their game. Their bond with their horse developed based on mutual trust in sometimes difficult conditions.
Ah, trail riding. Whether it’s a half-hour hack around your own place, a day ride with friends, a group camp-out weekend in the mountains or at the beach, or a multi-day outing in the backcountry, this type of horseback fun is supposed to be just that–fun. But, no matter what version of let’s hit the trail sounds appealing to you, your ride won’t be much fun if you end up unsafe, uncomfortable, or greatly inconvenienced.
That’s where knowledge of some tested tips and tricks comes in handy.
Five Must-Take Items
1. Water. Even if you don’t get thirsty enough to drink it, you never know when you might need water for cooling down an overheated horse or rider, or for rinsing out a wound. Tip: For an always-cold drink, drain the top inch from a full plastic water bottle, then freeze it until the remaining water becomes ice. It’ll thaw gradually during your ride, with the unthawed portion keeping the water cold.
2. Rain gear. The unwritten rule about whether to take rain gear on a ride: If you have it, the sun will shine. If you don’t have it, it’ll rain! A storm can blow in when you least expect it, especially in high country. And few things will leave you more miserable than to be soaked to the skin with miles yet to ride. Tip: If you don’t want to invest in, nor carry, a full-length rain slicker, tuck an inexpensive plastic poncho–or even a large heavy-duty leaf bag–in your saddlebag. The latter can be made into makeshift rain gear, and has many other potential uses as well.
3. Sharp pocketknife or folding multi-tool. Whether used to free a rope-entangled horse or to pick your horse’s feet, this is a don’t-leave-home-without-it item. Tip: Carry it securely on your person rather than stuffing it into a bag carried on your horse. That will allow you to access it instantly should an emergency occur–and you won?t be separated from it should you find yourself unhorsed.
4. Food. It’s always smart to have some sort of energy source with you, as you never know when a planned short ride will turn into a long one. Tip: Choose non-bulky foods suitable for carrying on horseback, without need for cooling. Good choices include non-frosted energy bars, jerky, nuts and dried fruit, tuna or salmon in easy-open pouches, or trail mix without chocolate (which has a low melting point).
5. First-aid items. Your list of items can be as simple or detailed as you wish; even a single roll of self-adhesive bandage and few aspirins are worth tucking into your stash of just in case items. Trick: Keep all first-aid items in a single bag, and color-code it for easy recognition during an emergency. Choose a red bag, for instance, or tie a red ribbon or bandanna to the firstaid- kit side of your saddlebags.
10 Items that Could Save the Day
1. Cell phone. And while you’re at it, bring a hand-crank charging unit for it.
2. Coach’s whistle. Use it to sound for help or signal a warning; the piercing sound carries farther than a shout, and takes a lot less wind.
3. Duct tape. From emergency tack repairs to protecting a hoof after shoe loss, this item truly does have 1,001 uses.
4. Baling twine. Like duct tape, this stuff has a list of uses limited only by your imagination and the circumstances in which you find yourself.
5. GPS or compass. Being lost is never fun–enough said.
6. Roll of toilet paper. This tip comes from a search-and-rescue group. Imagine a worst-case scenario, where you’re lost, or someone in your party is gravely ill or injured, and you need to pinpoint your location for rescuers. Use your roll of TP to ?draw? giant arrows on the ground, pointing in your direction. The markings will be visible from the air or from hilltops.
7. Flashlight. Even better: a headlamp, which leaves you with both hands free to do whatever needs doing in the dark.
8. Fire-starting materials. Lighters, waterproof matches, dry paper, or other kindling-type material won?t do you any good if you don’t have them with you when you need them.
9. Space blanket. This is a lightweight blanket designed to reduce heat loss from a person?s body during emergency situations. It consists of a thin sheet of plastic material coated with a metallic reflecting agent that redirects body heat to the wearer. Find one at sporting-good stores, usually for under $5.
10. Plastic shopping bags. Weighing almost nothing, these freebies from supermarkets or other sources have lots of uses. Examples: Slip one over each boot to keep them dry during a cloudburst; create a makeshift water carrier; make a compress holder or bandage cover.
Four Places to Go Before a Trail Trip
1. A tire-service shop. Get your hauling rig’s tires (including the spares) checked for air pressure, tread wear, and so forth. It’s cheap insurance against a ruined trail trip. Get your brakes looked at while you’re there.
2.A lube-oil service center. Ditto on cheap insurance.
3. An outdoor store. With your comforts and ?what-ifs? in mind, stock up on items designed for those venturing out into the great outdoors.
4. A dollar-type store. From extra bandannas to pocket-sized first-aid kits, you can find many trail-handy items at one of these emporiums.
Five Great Google Searches
Why start from scratch when you don’t have to? A Google search of certain topics brings up all sorts of make-life-easier info. A few faves:
1. camping list
2. camping recipes
3. horse trails
4. outdoor survival
5. cooling fabric
Seven Keep-Cool Tricks
1. Soak a bandanna in cold water, then tie it loosely around your neck. The back of your neck acts as a sort of body thermostat, and the cooled fabric helps regulate it.
2. Carry a battery-operated personal fan. Accustom your horse to the slight whirring sound before you use the unit from the saddle.
3. Tie a thick bathing sponge to a piece of cord long enough to reach the ground from the saddle. At water crossings, drop the sponge to soak it. Then, for evaporative cooling, pull it up and squeeze water onto your or your horse’s neck.
4. Block the sun. Wear sunblock on exposed areas, including the backs and tips of your ears (and don’t forget to protect your lips, too). And unless you live in an unbearably humid climate, wear clothing that shields the expanses of skin on your arms. You?ll feel considerably less baked at the end of an afternoon ride in a long-sleeved shirt than you would after going bare-armed.
5. Consume cold water at regular intervals. Besides keeping you hydrated, there’s nothing like cold water to keep your body?s core from overheating.
6. Bring a misting bottle, and use it to cool yourself from the saddle. This tip works best for those in an arid climate, where evaporation takes place quickly
7. Cover your head. Skipping the hat vs. helmet debate for now, we’ll just remind you that a bare noggin is a sun-cooked one.
Three Hints for Your Green Horse
1. Pair him up with a veteran trail horse–preferably a horse he already knows. Your green guy will learn from and feel more secure with his more experienced buddy, especially if you must negotiate such potentially scary obstacles as water or bridges.
2. Talk little, so you can ride attentively and well. Your green trail horse needs as much confident guidance from you as he can get, and you’ll be best prepared to ride him effectively if you aren?t distracted by conversation.
3. Keep his initial outings from being marathons. Don?t make his first trail rides so long that they exhaust him, mentally or physically
Five Tricks to Thwart Post-Ride Pains
1. Avoid wearing new or starched jeans. Those stiff seams won?t be your friends by the end of your ride.
2.Pad your seatbones. Try a gel-filled or sheepskin saddle cover, or padded equestrian undershorts.
3. Place large adhesive bandages over the saddle-contact area of your knees. It’s a super-simple way to prevent sores from chafing.
4. Lengthen your stirrup leathers a notch or two. It reduces stress on your knees.
5.Get support where you need it. Wear a back or knee support made for riders, for example.
Seven Risks You Can Avoid
1. Riding alone. The risk: If anything happens to you or your horse, there’s no one to aid you or go for help.
2. Leading your horse over an obstacle. The risk: He could knock down and trample you if he jumped to follow you.
3. Running from a menacing dog or other animal. The risk: Your horse’s prey-animal instincts could activate, and panic him.
4. Dismounting on the downhill side of a steep trail. The risk: If your horse slips or slides, he could fall on you.
5. Riding across footing you can’t see. The risk: Thick underbrush can conceal holes, wire, and other hazards; murky water can hide bogs or debris.
6. Riding with a tiedown. (The risk: Without full use of his neck for balance, your horse may not be able to save himself during a fall.
7. Riding during hunting season. The risk: Your horse could be mistaken for game, or you could end up in the path of a stray bullet.
Four Good Earth-First Practices
1. Carry a small trash bag and pack litter out when you find it. As for your own trash–need we say more?
2. When on an established trail, ride single-file without cutting new switchbacks. This reduces overall wear.
3. Spread out when in an open area without a noticeable trail. This disperses the impact of multiple horses.
4.Water your horse only in established stock-watering areas. Steer clear of undisturbed shores and creek edges.
Heat and exercise can lead to serious problems with overheating, and horses must be cooled afterwards. Follow these guidelines for effective cool-downs for your horse.
Heat and exercise can lead to serious problems with overheating. Most people know a horse should be cooled out after exercise, but there’s a lot of misinformation and missing information on how it should be done. Follow these guidelines for effective cool-downs:
Always walk for the last 10 to 15 minutes of your ride.
Let the horse drink as much as he wants after removing your tack.
When he’s finished drinking, hose him with running cool water, or sponge liberal amounts of water over his entire body until the water running off is no longer hot.
Scrape off excess water and start hand-walking the horse in a cool, shaded area.
Do not put a sheet or cooler on the horse.
Check the skin often during walking to make sure the horse is cooling down and not sweating again. If he begins to heat up or sweat, repeat hosing or sponging.
With very high heat, especially if it’s humid, consider setting up a few fans in the area where you walk your horse. Misting fans are used to help avoid heat-related problems in horses at the summer Olympics.
Offer additional drinking water at frequent intervals.
When the horse’s skin has cooled down to feeling normal, or his rectal temperature is no higher than 101, you can safely put him away.
When to feed is another common question. It’s OK to let your horse grab some grass while you’re walking him to cool down (grass is about 80% water anyway), and after he has cooled down. It’s also OK to let him have hay after his cool-down is completed. Best to wait at least an hour after stopping exercise to feed any grain, though.
Some Common Myths
1.Hosing a horse with cold water will cause muscle spasms or a heart attack. Completely false. Cold water won’t hurt the horse one bit, and the cooler the water, the more efficiently it will cool him down.
2.Letting a horse drink all he wants after exercise will cause founder (or colic Again, completely false. Water cannot make a horse founder, no matter how much he drinks, or when. (An important exception to this is the horse that is severely overheated. See sidebar “Heat Can Kill.”)
3.Cold water will cause founder or colic. It won’t. But studies have shown that horses given warmish water will drink more. So it’s a good idea to draw a bucket of water and let it warm up a bit if your water supply is very cold.
4. Horses cool out faster when wearing a cooler.
Nonsense. Never put any kind of cooler on a horse in hot weather. When you’re hot, do you crawl under a blanket or take off extra clothes? The same thing goes for your horse. You want his body heat to transfer to the air and blow away, not be trapped close to him.
5.Never clip a horse because his hair helps him cool out quicker.
Like #4, this is also false. Common sense alone will tell you that the less you have between skin and air, the quicker cooling will occur.
Keep Cool with Salt
Maintenance horses require 1-2 ounces of salt per day to meet their requirement for sodium and chloride under normal temperature conditions. This may increase to 4-6 ounces of salt per day in hot humid conditions or with added exercise. Inadequate salt in the diet can result in abnormal eating behavior such as licking or chewing objects that have salt on them or licking/eating dirt. Water intake may also decrease, increasing the risk of impaction colic.
Heat Can Kill Horses overworked in the heat can develop body temperatures of 105º or higher and risk damage to their brain, muscles and internal organs – even death. Overheating is possible any time the temperature and humidity combined are more than 150 (e.g., 80º temperature and 70% humidity, 100º temperature and 50% humidity, etc.), so use caution in those instances. When you add “normal” summer temperature and humidity percentage, they often total at least 150. You may be tempted to ignore this advice, thinking that you’ve frequently worked your horse hard when the total is over 150. But veterinarians tells us that they see a fair number of horses collapsing from the heat every summer, or at least having low-level heat exhaustion.
Over 150, don’t push your horse, keep your rides slow and easy, and be sure you both have frequent access to water. Overheating is a very strong danger when the combined numbers are more than 180, so extreme caution is needed then and, in fact, you probably shouldn’t ride in those cases.
Dark horses overheat quicker than lighter colored ones, and horses that are not fit also overheat much quicker. Heavy sweating, or heavy sweating followed by a drop in sweat production, fatigue, stumbling and rapid breathing are all warning signs. Also, heat-related problems are especially likely when the heat is a sudden weather change, where the horse has not yet had a chance to adapt.
If you think your horse is overheating, stop work immediately, remove all tack, get him out of the sun, offer water (about a gallon at a time, at five-minute intervals) and run water over the horse constantly. If his body temperature does not drop back to a normal of 100 or 101 rapidly within the first few minutes, call your vet immediately. Heat exhaustion/stroke is a medical emergency.
Not only do flies and other bugs bite and sting your horses, they can spread disease. Read about the different ways you can defeat the enemy and keep flies away from your horse and barn.
Flies–annoying pests? An understatement, at best. Not only do these adversarial insects bite, buzz and sting, they also spread disease.
The reality is that flies are enemies that come with horsekeeping, and you’re not going to be able to take down every single one. But you can educate and arm yourself on ways to put them into retreat. We’ll provide anti-fly management tips to help you reinforce your battlefield, and then we’ll deliver specifics on six weapons of mass destruction. We’ll help you identify some of the other side’s troops as well. Time to wage war…
First Line of Defense Before we survey the heavy artillery, implement the following management tactics to make your facility the least hospitable to flies.
Control moisture. Insects are drawn to wet areas, where they breed as well as drink. Keep stalls dry; eliminate standing water in low-pasture areas and in such receptacles as old tires or feeders; create good drainage around your barn; repair plumbing leaks; cover rain barrels.
Manage/remove manure. Manure is the housefly’s meal of choice. (Despite its name, the housefly is a major horse-area pest. See “Enemy Troops” below.) Clean stalls, pens, and other confinement areas daily; if possible, completely remove manure to an off-site location once a week; or, cover manure piles with a heavy tarp or treat on-site for later removal.
Employ the power of air. For stalled horses, strategically place large fans in your barn–air blasts will keep flies at bay; for pastured horses, provide access to open, breezy expanses.
Keep flies’ foodstuffs under wraps. Dispose of garbage appropriately (enclosed under airtight lids); cover grains and other feeds securely.
Provide solace in the dark. Provide shade (some fly species avoid dark areas); turn off barn lights to avoid attracting flies and other insects.
Avoid unsavory neighbors. If possible, don’t pasture your horses next to cattle or other livestock; cow manure, especially, draws vicious horn and face flies.
Six Anti-Fly Weapons Besides taking fly-control management steps, you have other ammunition at your disposal. Here are of six of the most effective fly-control weapons, along with particulars on each.
1. Topicals (sprays, roll-ons, gels, shampoos)
Method: Make your horse less attractive to flies.
How they work: Serve as a contact repellent/vapor barrier to fend off flies. Topicals with natural (pyrethrums) and synthetic insecticides work to “knock down” or deter flies; products without insecticides repel via citronella and other oils.
Pros: Easy to find and use; convenient for on-the-road use, such as when showing or trail riding, or when horse is away from barn for schooling or on pasture.
Cons: Relatively short-lived, depending on product; if you frequently bathe your horse, or he sweats significantly, you’ll lose effectiveness.
Time factor: With lower-priced products, apply daily or directly before riding. For higher-end products, apply every five days to two weeks (see product labels for specifications).
Best when: Used in conjunction with feed-throughs or fly parasites, which kill flies at the larval stage.
Cost: Largely depends on product and type of application. In general: the lower the cost, the shorter duration of protection.
2. Barriers (sheets, masks, boots)
Method: Outer protection/barrier for flies and other biting insects.
How they work: Fly sheets: Lightweight mesh protects horse from withers to rump; many also offer neck, chest, and belly protection. Fly masks: Protect critical facial areas; styles vary: some cover eyes only, some extend over ears, some down over muzzle. Fly boots: Cover sensitive skin on lower legs.
Pros: Mesh material prevents horses from overheating; many barrier-type products offer sun protection (good for horses with exposed pink skin); masks help prevent conjunctivitis; sheets also protect coats from dirt and sun-bleaching.
Cons: Some sheets don’t protect sensitive areas like the face and belly; applying and maintaining equipment requires some elbow grease; not practical if you’re the sole caretaker of more than a few horses; can be dangerous if herdmates pull/bite sheet or masks, or if horses are pastured in brushy or timbered areas.
Time factor: Minimal to medium: applying/removing sheets, masks, boots when necessary. (For horse’s comfort and visibility, it’s recommended to remove masks at night.)
Best for: Horses living in close proximity with cattle or other livestock that attract horn and face flies; horses boarded at a facility without a broad fly-control program. Masks with ear covers are also helpful in areas plagued by gnats.
Cost: Varies by manufacturer and model. In general: Masks: $10 to $20; with ear protection: $20 to $30. Sheets: $60 to $150. Boots: $40 to $60 for a set of four.
3. Traps Method: Entrap (and kill) adult flies.
How they work: Many different types, but all use some variation of fly bait or attractant to lure flies onto sticky surface or into receptacle, where they die.
Pros: Can kill flies in specific areas without putting insecticides into the air; help manage adult flies missed by other fly-control methods.
Cons: Most traps only attract “filth” flies (house and blow flies), so you need to determine the types of flies you’re targeting. Houseflies are usually the biggest problem for horse owners; if you have stable flies, you’ll need a different type of trap.
Time factor: Depends on traps, but usually requires minimal set-up time. Some traps last for a season; others need to be replaced more frequently.
Best for: Almost all situations; useful regardless of other implemented methods, because traps control adult populations.
Cost: Depends on type you use; can range from 30 cents to $8 for simple sticky traps (not as effective, but less expensive), to $4 to $18 for attractant-type traps.
4. Barn Spray Systems Method: Kills flies, mosquitoes, and other insects on insecticide contact.
How they work: Tubing system with attached misting nozzles runs throughout facility. Tubing dispenses fine droplets of fast-acting natural insecticide (pyrethrum) into air from an on-site reservoir. Insecticide is mixed with water and is sprayed for about 35 to 45 seconds. On average, a system sprays about six times a day.
Pros: Extremely efficient, effective. Minimal work, as dispensed automatically at regular intervals. Kills flies quickly, so they don’t survive long enough to develop or pass on immunities to the insecticide. Short-lived pyrethrum is environment-friendly, as it biodegrades within 30 minutes of spraying.
Cons: High initial cost; some horses/people are sensitive/allergic to chemicals; kills beneficial insects such as spiders; manure close to barn still provides breeding grounds for flies (can also install nozzles along outside of barn).
Time factor: Refill tank a few times a year.
Best for: Medium- to large-sized enclosed facilities with multiple horses. (Can use in open barns, but not as effective, especially in areas with high winds.)
Cost: Varies by manufacturer, installer, and size of facility. Once installed, average monthly usage is about a gallon per nozzle, which comes to about $5 per stall, per month.
How they work: Release fly parasites (tiny, low-flying wasps) near manure piles and other fly-breeding sites. The parasites use the fly pupa (cocoon) as a host, killing developing flies so they never hatch. Prevents new generations from maturing.
Pros: Stops flies before they emerge and reproduce; no chemicals involved; doesn’t kill beneficial insects; safe; low maintenance; parasites don’t bite or sting people/horses/pets.
Cons: Doesn’t affect water-breeding flies like horse and deer flies; if your neighbor doesn’t have good fly control, his flies can migrate to your facility; must replenish monthly, as flies reproduce nine times faster than parasites.
Time factor: Five days after receiving them, parasites will emerge from pupa as active wasps. After releasing them, can take up to 30 days for noticeable results, because parasites don’t affect flies that have already hatched. Best to release before flies become rampant. But, once in circulation, you’ll only need to release new parasites every three to four weeks.
Best for: More condensed facilities, but effective in almost all set-ups.
Cost: One to five horses: under $20 per month; six to 10 horses: under $30 a month. Prices quoted according to number of horses. You’ll need to release parasites monthly starting in early spring; in peak fly months (when temps are highest), release every three weeks.
6. Feed-Throughs Methods: Prevents flies from hatching in manure.
How they work: Given with horse’s grain ration; passes through his system, into manure to prevent larvae and pupa from developing there.
Pros: Safe; easy to use.
Cons: Don’t kill adult flies; kills some beneficial microorganisms; ineffective if other horses in facility not on feedthroughs (horses also need to be fed separately to ensure all ingest complete dosage).
Time factor: Two to four weeks to see results; feed with horse’s daily rations from early spring to late fall.
Best when: Used in conjunction with fly traps and topicals; works for facilities of any size.
Cost: 30 to 50 cents a day, per horse. Save money by purchasing in bulk.
More Than Annoying Flies have the potential to cause your horse more than discomfort. They spread such diseases as salmonella, vesicular stomatitis, pigeon fever, equine infectious anemia, and influenza. They can cause allergies, dermatitis, and eye ailments, such as conjunctivitis. Constant stomping can lead to loose or lost shoes, and can cause arthritis, ringbone, and other impact-related injuries.
Flies can even lead to weightloss, as their constant buzzing, landing, and biting interrupts a horse’s grazing time and prevents rest. They may cause injury as well, as insect-crazed horses attempt to escape their relentless bombardment.
Enemy Troops Several hundred species of flies plague horses. But regardless of the species, annihilation of their breeding and feeding grounds is crucial.
The following six are among the most prevalent: Stable fly: Bite by piercing horse’s flesh to feed on his blood. These are the bugging bugs that gnaw on horses’ legs, causing them to stomp, squirm, and flick their tails.
Housefly: With sponge-like mouths, houseflies feed on secretions, manure, and garbage; don’t bite, but suck up secretions around wounds and horses’ eyes, nostrils, and anus.
Face fly: Females feed on secretions around eyes and nostrils, and on blood from biting flies and wounds. They have sandpaper-like tongues that abrade eye-area tissue to stimulate flow of tears (can cause infection, and even blindness).
Horn fly: Half the size of housefly; pierce horse’s skin to suck blood; prefer cattle, but attack nearby horses; can fly up to 10 miles, but then stay with same animals for the rest of their lives.
Bot fly: Lay sticky eggs on horse’s haircoat and on muzzle, jaw, lips, throat, and insides of legs. Larvae hatch in horse’s mouth and later migrate to and live in his stomach and intestines; can cause poor condition, and even death.
Gnat: Also known as “no-see-ums”; size of pepper grain; painful bites can cause sweet itch (persistent skin break-out that itches fiercly); itchy, crusty sores can cause horse to rub off patches of hair; most bothersome at dusk and dawn.
A fair price for a horseback riding lesson depends upon where you live. It has much to do with the cost of boarding horses in your area. For example, horse boarding in Woodside can cost $1500 a month which includes board, feed, turnout, and grooming.
This means if a horse was ridden every day for lessons and was not allowed a day off, $50 of the 1 lesson fee would go to board. The owner of the horse also needs to pay a shoeing/ farrier bill every 6-8 weeks, which can cost between $100- $350/set of 4. (Typically around $150- $250 but it depends upon where you live). The owner will also need to pay routine and non-routine veterinarian bills. Routine vet bills include; annual vaccinations, teath floating, and any joint injections that the horse needs due to osteoarthritic changes in the aging performance horse.
The owner also needs to factor in the cost of equipment such as a saddle and bridle. A high quality, brand new saddle, is around $6500 plus tax. The owner also needs to think about the purchase price of the horse. Also, the cost of providing riding boots, gloves, and helmits of different sizes to her students. The business owner also needs to pay commercial liability insurance for herself and for any employees, workmans comp, and employee taxes.
Horses are so expensive to maintain that most of the lesson fee will actually just go to the care and maintenance of the horse. Your riding instructor isn’t getting rich teaching you your lesson once a week. Please be courteous and kind to your riding instructor. We work very hard and when you run all of the numbers we are not making very much money.
We are riding instructors because we love the horses and we put up with the “naughty students.” Naughty students are the students who show up late, pay us late, give us late notice that they will be missing their lesson and expect a full-refund. My favorite “student” is the student who give us no notice they are going on vacation and will not be riding with us the next month. This notice usually happens in-person during students last lesson at the end of the month. It also happens via text message before tuition is due for the month the student will take his or her riding sabbatical. Guess what [insert students name here], while you enjoy your vacation and your horse free time, our bills continue. Our bills continue and they add up to a staggering dollar amount. I wish that all students would realize where their riding instructors are coming from.
Please be respectful of your riding instructor and her time, her horses, and her equipment. If she’s is like me, she has a B.S. in Microbiology and gave up a potentially lucrative job at Google to work 19 hour days outside, smell bad, and be poor. Please give 30 day notice when making any big changes to your riding lesson schedule, especially if you are taking a short “break” from riding. And lastly don’t forget to thank your riding instructor. She puts up with a lot!
The Author, Nessa Cossentine owns:
Cypress Ridge Equestrian
located in Woodside in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Now accepting new students!