Things to do while in Tryon, NC during the World Equestrian Games

Coming in September for WEG to compete, cheer on your team or volunteer, Be sure to check out my recommendations.

After four years of exhibiting and showcasing my jewelry at the Tryon Int. Equestrian Center and buying a log cabin, I have my to go to places and must do's. So many times I hear "but whats there to do outside the Tryon International Equestrian Center" and truly there is a lot to do. 

Here's my list not in any particular order.

  1. Downtown Greenville - Walk down to the falls and enjoy the scenery with majestic swans swimming in the lake. Main street is pretty much the place to walk around enjoy cafes, bars, restaurants, shopping etc. tips; parking can be an issue but there is plenty of parking garages you just have to look for them off the side streets. 
  2. Biltmore Estate- Definitely check out the winery one of my favorites
  3. Go tubing or kayaking on the Green river- if weather permitting, tips; take some bug spray.
  4. The Gorge Ziplining-Not scary at all. Unless your scared of heights then that could be an issue as your descending about 1100 feet above. Supposedly its the steepest and fastest ziplining tour in North America. Tips; bring layers it could be cold when you get there but all the hiking up and down the forest could make you build up a sweat, bring bug spray :)
  5. Overmountian Vineyards- Family owned and operated its a unique experience to sip wine after a long day and watch the sunset dip behind the vineyards. Dog friendly. tips;Bring food to enjoy with family and friends, they have grills available and plenty of space to have a get together with friends. Most seating is outside. 
  6.  Architectural Warehouse - If your into antiquing and/or remodeling your house check them out, they have the coolest old doors and furniture. 

Top Restaurants to try

  1. Purple Onion Saluda,NC -Great food and live music, tips;make sure to call ahead and reserve seating, 
  2. CaroMi Dining room-Best Fried chicken in town, they have been there forever and same menu about 10 items on the list. Very authentic cabin over looking the river. Named after two owners that lived in Miami and Carolinas. tips; make sure to call ahead they are only open weds-sat 5-8pm
  3. Soulisas Fine Thai Dinning-Good spot for Lunch-try the Pad Thai
  4. Saskatoon Steaks-Fish-WildGame Greenville,SC-Best steaks ever! What a unique concept, family owned and operated they do the whole farm to table theme there and have their own organic garden in the back. The atmosphere is spectacular, feels like your in a old Hunting Lodge. Worth the drive I promise. Tips; make dinner reservations
  5. Laura's House Chimney Rock, NC-Great for lunch, try there famous cakes and my personal favorite the brown sugar black pepper bacon. Owned by a lovely couple who happen to also reside on the top floor, what a concept. 390 Main St. Chimney Rock NC 28720
  6. Lavender Bistro Downtown Tryon- Menu changes with the seasons but its a fine dinning experience, table clothes, silverware and fine wine. French and New American food.

What Does Lame Horse Mean

When a horse “goes lame,” it means the horse is unable to walk or maintain a normal stance. Some forms of lameness may only hobble the horse and limit its movement, while severe forms of being lame may cause the horse to remain put.

Lameness in a horse is usually caused by some sort of pain. It can also be the result of a mechanical dysfunction or be part of a neurologic condition.

It is one of the most common veterinary health issues that is treated in horses, especially those that are involved in racing, competitive events, or recreational riding. It is also one of the costliest health concerns within the equine world, including loss of use and the time it takes to diagnose and treat the condition.

What Are the Causes of Lameness in Horses?

Pain that is caused by an injury or an orthopedic disease or condition are the most common causes of lameness. Laminitis, which affects the hoof of the horse, is particularly common. Horses which are highly active, overweight, or suffer from a metabolic condition may all be at a higher risk of suffering from laminitis.

Additional causes of lameness that are due to pain include circulatory disease conditions, infections, genetic conditions like HYPP, or age-related conditions like arthritis.

When pain is the primary cause of lameness, treating the condition which causes the pain will usually resolve the lack of movement. This may involve treating the affected area, offering painkillers to the horse, and other specific tasks that may be prescribed by the treating veterinarian.

Mechanical lameness occurs when there is an abnormality which affects the movement of the horse. Scar tissue, for example, may build up within a joint and that would prevent the horse from completing a normal movement motion. The difference between mechanical lameness and other forms of this condition is that the mechanical version does not typically cause pain to the horse. 

Most forms of mechanical lameness do occur because of a previous injury. Tendons may stiffen, scar tissues may form, or other issues may cause the horse to stop moving its forward or hind legs properly. Even damage to the horse’s muscles from something as simple as an injection can result in mechanical lameness.

The other form of lameness in horses, neurological lameness, occurs when the horse becomes lame, but there is no immediate cause for it that can be seen upon evaluation. Certain forms of muscle atrophy or a condition like Shivers or Stringhalt may cause this form of lameness as well.

What Are the Signs of Lameness in Horses?

A horse that manifests a change in its gait in any way may be suffering from lameness. Hind leg lameness is often more difficult to spot than front leg lameness from a visual standpoint, but by knowing how the horse moves, either form of lameness can usually be spotted by a vigilant owner or handler.

When lameness is affecting the front leg or foot, the most common sign the horse will offer is a bobbing of the head. The horse will raise its neck and head whenever the leg affected by lameness hits the ground. That helps to remove some of the pressure off the affected leg. Horses may also try to lessen the impact felt on an affected leg by stiffening the limb just before it hits the ground. 

If the lameness is affecting only a hind leg, the signs of the condition can be very subtle. Look for changes in performance to the hip, pelvis, and sacrum especially. The horse may tend to shift its weight to avoid placement on the affected leg or hoof and that may alter the direction of its gait slightly as well.

Some horses may “hike up” their hips to reduce the amount of pressure that is placed on a hind leg affected by lameness.

Additional signs of lameness include lengthening the stride to reduce time on the affected leg. Some horses many angle their gait forward or backward, depending upon where the discomfort or issue with lameness is occurring.

And the most obvious sign of lameness is that the horse decides not to move at all. Even when standing, they may refuse to put any weight on the affected limb.

Why the Hoof Is So Important

A majority of lameness issues that are seen in horses originate at the hoof. When being examined for this condition, the balance, shoe, wear pattern, and shape of the hoof will be looked at closely. The presence of a crack or sheer may be the cause of lameness.

If a horse is suffering from chronic lameness, the shape of capsule may alter because it is bearing a different amount of weight. That creates a heel that is higher, narrow, and more upright compared to the “normal” hoof.

When laminitis is present, there may also be changes to the shape of the hoof wall. A mild case of laminitis may not show any outward symptoms, but growth rings on the hoof will indicate the presence of an infection.

The shape and size of the frog and the shape of the bars are also good indications if there is laminitis or an infection present that may be causing lameness.

How to Prevent Lameness in Horses

Preventing lameness in all cases is an impossible task. When cared-based best practices are followed, however, there are many times when lameness can be stopped before it starts.

All horses should visit a farrier regularly to have their hoof care managed. Most horses will require visits every 4-6 weeks. Some horses may be able to go for an extended period if they are not shoed or ridden on a regular basis. Horses that see high levels of activity may need to visit more frequently.

The hoofs of the horse should be picked clean on a regular basis as well. Not only will this remove foreign objects that could initiate an infection, it will also allow handlers and owners to inspect the hoof wall to see if cracks are present.

If there is the presence of pus or a foul-smelling black fluid around the hoof or the frog, then the hoof must be cleaned immediately and medical care given to the horse. These are indications that an infection or laminitis is present.

Keeping a horse at a healthy weight will also help to prevent lameness. Ensure the horse is receiving a good combination of grains and pasture time without high-load calories being introduced to the diet every day. Hay is usually better than alfalfa or clover and certain grain combinations can provide a lower carbohydrate mix for the horse that reduces the chances of weight gain.

Any horse may experience lameness, including horses that are active and healthy. By recognizing the symptoms and taking preventative measures, it may be possible to stop this health issue before it starts.

What is the Normal Body Temperature of a Horse

One of the easiest ways to check on the health and vitality of a horse is to check its vital signs. If you happen to own a horse, ride one frequently, or handle them, knowing how to check on a horse’s vital signs is incredibly important. You’ll be able to know if the horse is feeling ill or requires attention from a local veterinarian.

Any time you see or sense a change in the behavior of a horse, the vital signs should be checked. Good routine care involves checking the vital signs at least once per week. It can take some time to learn what the data you collect actually means, but with practice, you’ll be able to get to know each horse better and react quickly when you sense that something is wrong.

What Should the Temperature of a Horse Be?

The normal body temperature for a horse is usually between 99-101F. Temperatures that are higher than this may indicate that there is an infection present somewhere in the horse’s body. It should be noted, however, that a horse’s body temperature can rise by three degrees (and sometimes more) in certain environmental or working conditions.

If a horse’s temperature is normally around 101F, after a long day of working, a temperature that is around 104F would still be considered normal. You would need to monitor the body temperature as the horse cools down to ensure that it is the work and not an infection that has boosted the horse’s temperature.

Stress, excitement, and even warm weather will influence the body temperature of the horse.

Any unusual body temperature ready should be communicated to your veterinarian for evaluation. If you are just starting to get to know the vital signs of a horse, a body temperature reading of 102F or higher should be communicated to your veterinarian to ensure the horse is properly evaluated.

How Do I Take the Temperature of a Horse?

The best way to take the body temperature of a horse is to use a rectal thermometer. It is important to tie a string to the end of the thermometer if one isn’t present to ensure that it doesn’t get lost while taking the temperature of the horse. Retrieving a lost rectal thermometer is not something that many would describe as a fun time.

Most tack shops and some pharmacies will sell rectal thermometers for horses that are quite affordable. A plastic digital thermometer works just as well as the old-fashioned mercury-type thermometers. If you do use one of the older models, it is important to ensure the mercury is at the base level so that an accurate reading can be produced. 

Make sure that the horse is tied before attempting to get a body temperature reading. It is usually easier to have someone else working with the horse, giving it attention, while you work on obtaining the vital signs. Make sure the thermometer has been lubricated properly before using it. Petroleum jelly works just fine.

Then move the tail of the horse to the side. You’ll need to make sure it is out of the way so that you can use the thermometer properly. Insert the thermometer according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Try to angle the thermometer so that it is slightly angled toward the ground.

Never stand directly behind a horse while taking a body temperature reading. Some horses do not like this experience and will react by kicking. 

The thermometer should remain in place for 3 minutes to ensure accuracy. Some digital thermometers, however, may be able to provide an accurate reading in 60 seconds or less.

Once you’ve obtained the body temperature reading, be sure to thoroughly clean the thermometer before returning it to its storage container. A good cleaning will help to prevent an illness from spreading to the other horses in your care.

Other Vital Signs to Take When Caring for Horses

Once you’ve obtained the body temperature, there are some other vital signs that you’ll want to check to ensure the horse is at optimal health.

Pulse Rate: A horse at rest should have a pulse rate of 40 beats per minute or less. Anything above this rate for an adult horse can indicate stress or excitement. Foals may have a pulse rate of up to 120 beats per minute. Yearlings can be up to 60 beats per minute. A 2-year-old horse usually has a pulse rate between 40-50 beats per minute. The pulse can be found near the front of the left jawbone. Press firmly with your forefinger.

Respiration: The average adult horse, while resting, should have an average of 11.5 breaths per minute. The normal range for this vital sign is between 8-15 breaths per minute. Make sure a full intake and release is counted as one breath instead of two. Rapid breathing can indicate the presence of an infection, colic, or another health condition.

Intestinal Sounds: You want to hear gut sounds coming from a horse. A lack of sounds can indicate the presence of a digestive tract problem, such as colic. Certain types of colic can also produce an excessive amount of gut noise. Use a stethoscope to listen for these sounds and report anything that seems unusual immediately. The best place to listen is right behind the last rib.

Water Consumption: A healthy horse may consume upwards of 5 gallons of clean, fresh water during a day. Urging a horse to drink more water if they don’t reach the 5-gallon threshold is important. If the horse won’t drink the water, try adding a little apple juice or a sports beverage into it to encourage fluid intake. A horse refusing to drink should be considered a health emergency. You can check for dehydration by pinching the hide of the horse near the neck. If it doesn’t flatten back into place immediately, the horse is dehydrated.

Mucous Membranes: Checking the gums, eyelids, and inside the nostrils can determine if the horse is experiencing good blood circulation. The gums should be somewhat pale when healthy. If they are bright red, blue, or yellow, a veterinarian needs to examine the horse immediately. The same is true for the colors of the mucus membranes in the other areas of the body as well. You can also check circulation levels by checking to see how long it takes for blood to return to blanched tissues. Anything longer than 2 seconds can indicate a medical emergency.

By checking to see if a horse has a normal body temperature, you are being proactive about their health. Check the other vitals as well each week and any time you have a concern over the health of the horse and you’ll be able to care for the animal properly.

What is The Difference Between a Paint and Pinto Horse

Maybe you’ve seen a horse that appears to have a two-colored coat. The horse may have even looked like it had spots from a distance. Then you asked what type of horse that happened to be. 

“That’s a Paint,” one person might say.

“That’s a Pinto,” another person might say.

Horses with two-colored coats are commonly called Paints and Pintos. The terms are often used interchangeably. There is, however, a clear difference between these two different horses.

What is the difference between a paint and a pinto horse?

A Paint Horse Is an Actual Breed of Horse

A pinto horse, like a Paint horse, has a coat color that is usually patches of white with a secondary color. The difference is that a pinto horse can be of any horse breed, whereas a Paint horse is an actual breed of horse. 

The American Paint Horse has the pinto coloring of the coat, but must also have a verifiable pedigree. American Paint Horses must have Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse lineage to qualify under the current breed standard. That means every Paint horse is a pinto, but not every pinto can be a Paint.

To register, there must be at least one recorded parent with the American Paint Horse Association and both parents must be a Paint, a Quarter Horse, or a Thoroughbred in lineage.

That’s not to say the terminology is incorrect. A horse that is spotted is correctly identified as a pinto horse if the coat coloration is patch-like in construction. If the horse is spotted in a manner that is similar to a Dalmatian or a leopard, then the horse is closer to an Appaloosa than a pinto in most instances.

A horse should only be referred to as a Paint if it has a verifiable ancestry or the conformation of the horse is similar to what the standards of an American Quarter Horse happen to be.

Is It Possible to Have a Solid Paint or Pinto Horse?

Because pinto horses receive their name because of the specific structure of their coat, it is not possible for a pinto to be of a solid color. Two pinto horses may have an offspring that has a solid-color coat, but because pintos are “color breeds,” the offspring is technically not a pinto – even though it may be referred to as such because of its parentage.

Paint horses are a little different. The American Paint Horse Association states that a “good horse is a good horse, regardless of its color.” The breed association recognizes that not every qualifying Paint horse may have a flashy coat pattern. As long as the horse has a verified registry that would qualify it as a Paint, it is allowed to register.

There are some registration advantages to having a solid-color Paint. The registration fee in the United States is about 20% of the normal registration cost when the horse is a verified solid-color paint. Referred to as a Solid Paint-Bred, these horses qualify for the breeding programs and official designation as a Paint, despite the color of the coat.

That makes it possible for every Paint to find a home, even if the horse does not have the pinto coloration that draws so many people to this breed.

What Are the Paint and Pinto Patterns That Are Seen?

There are several different patterns that can be seen in both Paint and pinto horses. The most common pattern is called “tobiano.” This spotting pattern offers rounded markings, white legs, and white along the back between the dock and the withers. Most horses have a vertical pattern to their coat and additional white coloration than the darker coat color. The ideal patterning is close to a 50/50 distribution of both coat colors. All tobiano horses have at least one tobiano parent.

Here are the other coat pattern options that can be seen in both Paint and pinto horses.

Overo: The technical definition of this pattern is “not tobiano, but still pinto.” The patterns can be very different from each other, with irregularities throughout the coat, with jagged markings instead of rounded ones. The white coloration of the coat rarely crosses over the back of the horse with this pattern. It is possible for an overo horse to come from two solid-colored parents.

Tovero: This pattern is a mix of the overo and tobiano patterns. It occurs when the horse has multiple spotting patterns within its lineage. Any combination is possible within this pattern, including mostly white and mostly dark coats. Because of the potential mix of genetics, these pattern characteristics may show traits which seem to come from different breeds.

Dominant White: This pattern creates a coat that is mostly white, but not a true white. The darker coat color may be quite small and may be featured on one area of the body only. One of the rarest forms of this pattern is called the “medicine hat,” where the dark coat color is around the ears and the top of the head of the horse, but the rest of the body is of the white coat color only.

Within the overo pattern are several different options that may be displayed on Paint and pinto horses. There are three specific options that are commonly seen when a horse does have an overo coat.

•    Frame Pattern: This overo pattern has horizontal white patches that have crisp, but jagged edges on the coat. The head, neck, and body typically see a high distribution rate of the white patches. Many horses with a frame look to them have a modest coat pattern that can make it difficult sometimes to associate the horse as being a pinto or part of the Paint breed.
•    Splashed Pattern: This overo pattern offers horizontal white markings with smooth edges that come to a crisp conclusion. The horse often appears to have lowered its head into a bucket of white paint with this pattern. There are significant patterns on the face especially, but the rest of the body may have it as well. This pattern also has a congenital deafness trait linked to it.
•    Sabino Pattern: Although sabino horses are often confused for roans, this lightly spotted patterning shows white on the belly, legs, and face that offer spots instead of a blended coat. Paints have sabino horses directly associated with the overo pattern, but other breeds that recognize pinto horses may classify the sabino pattern as being a separate coat option.

The goal for the coat patterning is to create a condition that is called “chrome.” Chrome Paints or pintos have a visually appealing pattern to the coat. Because Appaloosas are also described by this term with their attractive patterns, there can be some confusion in the description of certain horses when it is used.

I’ve Been Told I Have a Solid Pinto Horse…

Some pinto horses may appear to have a solid coat color, with white markings along the forehead and below the knees like many other breeds. In this circumstance, it is not unusual for that coloration of horse to be referred to as a solid-color pinto, but the term is somewhat confusing.

First of all, the horse is clearly not of a solid color. There are white markings on the horse. What makes it difficult to classify the horse as a pinto is the fact that the markings on the horse mimic other markings which meet breed standards. In this circumstance, some breeds may require DNA testing to determine the presence of pinto markings to allow the horse to be fully registered.

Another option for pinto horses is to have a “shield” coat. This type of coat consists of one dark or one white patch, located on the chest, while the remainder of the coat is of the opposite color. It is possible, though rare, for the medicine hat look to combine with the shield look on some Paint and pinto horses.

Why Are Paint and Pinto Descriptions Used Interchangeably?

In the 19th century, American writers referred to any spotted horse as a “painted” horse. The description was often used for the semi-feral Mustangs roaming the U.S. West, but grew in literature to refer to any type of horse with a unique coat. Even Appaloosas were described as “paints” in early literature.

There is also the usage of these horses by the tribal cultures in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many used their horses for battle and would give them their own war paint as part of the preparation process. The horses were called “paints” at that point because they had been outfitted for war.

What is the difference between a Paint and a pinto horse? The answer has to do with the breeding of the horse. When there is a verifiable pedigree as a Thoroughbred or a Quarter Horse, then it can be a Paint. Otherwise, the horse should be referred to as a pinto and may qualify to register as a color breed instead. 

What is The Most Common Horse Breed

Most people have a breed of horse they prefer over any other. Judging which one is more common than another can be difficult, as different regions have different popularity levels. This is a fact: in the United States, fewer breeding programs are in operation, which means fewer animals receive a registration.

According to 2014 data that has been released by all major equine associations, the most common breed of horse is currently the American Quarter Horse. From 2002-2006, More than 160,000 Quarter Horses were registered each year. In 2014, about 85,000 Quarter Horses were registered.

Here are some other breed registration numbers from the same years.

Paint Horses: About 50,000 horses were registered each year between 2002-2006, while total registrations in 2014 were only about 10,000 horses.

Thoroughbreds: From 2002-2006, about 40,000 horses were registered each year. In 2014, about 30,000 horses were registered.

Standardbreds: About 10,000 horses each year were registered between 2002-2006, while in 2014, around 7,500 horses were registered.

Arabian horses are often listed as one of the world’s most common horses and it frequently tops the list of favorite breeds. There are about 1 million registered Arabian horses around the world right now, yet that number is less than 50% of the total population of Quarter Horses in the United States.

According to FAO Statistics, 2.64 million of the estimated 10.15 million registered horses in the United States were Quarter Horses. When global population numbers are included, the estimated population total for the breed is approximately 3.2 million individuals.

Why Are Quarter Horses So Popular?

In the United States, the modern American Quarter Horse is often thought of as a ranch horse. That is because settlers who began to move westward in the 19th century in the U.S. discovered that the horse had a unique “cow sense.” Riders could manage their herds quite easily because the horses instinctively knew what needed to be done.

The Quarter Horse, however, was originally developed along the East Coast of the United States to be a race horse. The name of the breed is a reflection of the horse’s speed over that specific distance. Some Quarter Horses have been observed at this distance reaching peak speeds that exceed 50 miles per hour. 

Quarter Horses were developed through a combination of important Spanish, Celtic, and local stock horses in the original U.S. colonies beginning in the 17th century. Settlers originally bred horses to help them deal with the harsh conditions of colonial life, but soon focused on the racing potential of this horse as conditions grew easier to manage.

In the 18th century, Thoroughbreds were introduced into the breed to improve their speed and status. The new Quarter Horses would then race the one-quarter mile distance, often along the main street of a town.

Since then, Quarter Horses have been used to improve a number of different horse breeds. Even Thoroughbreds have been influenced by the Quarter Horse, a breed which they helped to establish more than two centuries ago.

Why Are Quarter Horses the Best?

Quarter Horses are very popular because they are so versatile. They can excel in numerous disciplines and many horses are able to cross between disciplines and compete at world-class levels. There are more than 11,000 breed registry approved events in the United States for Quarter Horses every year. 

The most popular event is the All-American Futurity, which is held at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico. Horses which qualify for this race will compete for $1 million. 

At the same time, the Quarter Horse is very social and enjoys numerous recreational activities. Trail riding, Western pleasure riding, and ranch work are just as common within the breed as athletics. 

Quarter Horses are also one of the more sensible and intelligent breeds in the world today. Most horses within this breed do their best for their riders and tend to be easy keepers. They keep going even when they get tired or hot, which is when many horses tend to call it a day. Quarter Horses stay calm, are usually not reactive, and are highly dependable.

Profile of the American Quarter Horse

Quarter Horses tend to have a straight profile that is complemented by a strong body with visual muscularity. The chest is powerful and broad, though the head is somewhat smaller than average, but with good refinement.

There are two different body types seen within the modern breed. The hunter/racer and the stock type horse have similar visual aesthetics, but the hunter and racing type tends to be somewhat taller and have more-defined muscularity. Some of the hunter and racing horses within the breed have been known to reach 17 hands high. 

Most Quarter Horses stand at 16 hands high or below, however, and some mares can be around 14 hands and technically be classified as a pony. The smaller adults within this breed are still referred to as horses.

Another reason why the Quarter Horse is so popular is because their coat can come in almost every color. The most common coat seen within the breed is sorrel, which is a combination of red and brown. Other breeds refer to the color as “chestnut.” Black, brown, bay, gray, and dun are also relatively common. Buckskin, palomino, grullo, cremello, perlino, and roan horses are also recognized by the breed registry.

Spotted horses have begun to be accepted within the breed registry as well, although in the past they were excluded. If an American Quarter Horse has a spotted coat, a DNA test is ordered to verify the parentage of the horse. If both parents are registered horses, then the offspring qualifies for registry as well, no matter what the color of the coat happens to be.

Health Concerns with the Quarter Horse

Quarter Horses are relatively healthy, but there are some genetic diseases which must be managed within the breed. Malignant hyperthermia, which can be triggered by stress or being overworked, is specifically associated with the Quarter Horse lineage. Symptoms of this disease include a high fever, a rapid heartbeat, and rigidity of the muscles. High blood potassium is a common complication of the condition.

Even general anesthesia can be a trigger for this condition. Without treatment, 3 out of 4 horses will experience life-threatening complications once this condition is triggered. Testing is possible to determine if a horse is susceptible to this condition.

Additional health concerns include PSSM, lethal white syndrome, HERDA, and HYPP. Horses that test positive for these conditions may be excluded from the registry.

The most common horse breed in the world today is the Quarter Horse. Although several other breeds are also popular and others have a longer pedigree to follow, in terms of pure population numbers, no other breed comes close to the Quarter Horse. 

What Causes a Horse to Buck

The image of a bucking horse is a staple at rodeos. It creates drama when watching a Western. It can also be a real pain in the back, neck, and other areas of the body should a rider be bucked off a horse.

What causes a horse to begin bucking? Is it really a problem behavior? Or is it a natural instinct that overwhelms the training of the horse?

Horses Can Buck in Several Different Ways

When most people think of bucking, they picture a horse that places its weight on its front legs. Then the horse raises the back legs upward and kicks out backward with as much strength as it can muster. 

Some horses may buck multiple times with varying levels of height and strength with a similar motion. Others may choose to use short kicks instead of long and powerful kicks as part of their bucking technique. Some horses prefer to buck while they are running. Others prefer to buck when they are standing still.

There can even be a twisting motion included with the bucking. Some stallions can jump and twist with so much strength that it appears they are performing a pirouette. Being caught on the back of a horse that is in the midst of a powerful buck can be a scary and potentially dangerous situation.

That is why knowing what causes the horse to buck is such an important part of the riding process. Whether one is an expert or a beginner, understanding the reasons behind bucking can help to keep this behavior under control.

Do Horses Buck Because They Think It Is Fun?

Bucking is a natural form of play for horses, especially young male horses. If you see a herd of bachelors out in a pasture playing together, there’s a good chance you’ll see some playful bucking going on.

That mechanism is similar to the way some dogs play with each other by biting on another. The behavior may cause harm, so it may be unwanted, but the purpose isn’t to cause harm. The horses just want to have fun.

Bucking can also be a response that is generated by fear. Horses have a very intense fight-or-flight mechanism. Although we see them as being large and intelligent creatures, horses have a prey mentality. They are in a state of perpetual nervousness, especially if they are not used to human social contact and have large pastures without protective features for them.

The first instinct of the horse is to run away. If the horse feels like it is cornered or there is no place for it to go, then fighting is the only mechanism left for survival. That is when running turns to bucking.

Bucking is often seen as being an aggressive behavior, and it can be if the horse is attempting to establish dominance with people, horses, or other animals. Bucking, however, is often a defensive mechanism. It occurs when the horse cannot run from a fight and it is fearful of what may happen to it.

That’s why “breaking” a bucking horse by riding it is usually not a good idea. Although it may cause the horse to give up, the breaking process doesn’t resolve the fear issue that caused the horse to buck in the first place. You literally have a broken horse that doesn’t care if it survives in this situation. Is that really the right approach?

Bucking When It Happens Because of Discomfort

Horses may also begin to buck, even when there isn’t a personal history of it, when they experience something that makes them feel uncomfortable. This may be their hide rubbing uncomfortably against a saddle or blanket; a command from a rider that they don’t want to follow; or an issue that causes them to feel frightened while outdoors on a ride, like encountering a snake on a trail.

For many horses, bucking tends to be a one-off experience. It happens because a specific event triggered the behavior. If that trigger can be avoided in the future, then the bucking behaviors will not reappear.

Bucking becomes a problem, especially when it is associated with discomfort, when it occurs in a frequent or persistent way. Horses that buck frequently tend to experience a lower trigger threshold over time as well, which allows the bucking to be easily elicited.

Discomfort can lead to the initial bucking behavior, but it can also become a learned behavior that the horse relies upon. If bucking provides relief of the discomfort on repetitive occasions, then the horse will rely upon the behavior to find future relief as well. That can be particularly dangerous to riders if the horse feels uncomfortable with the presence of a saddle.

Can Bucking Be a Behavioral Problem?

Bucking that is caused through negative behavior reinforcement can turn into a behavioral problem instead of an environmental or discomfort response. The horse can learn that bucking stops them from being subjected to other unwanted actions or activities.

Let’s say a horse is being taken in from the pasture. It doesn’t want to go because, like many horses, it is investigated something that has piqued its curiosity. As the owner, you are insistent that it is time to head into the stall. You grab the lead and just as you’re about to walk the horse, the bucking begins to happen.

What happens next? If you stop trying to bring the horse in, then the horse has just learned that bucking will let it get what is wanted. You were stopped in your action. Maybe bucking the next time could gain some extra oats? More pasture time? So, the behavior will increase.

Learned bucking can be retrained. Alternative behaviors can be offered to the horse and understanding triggers can foster a deeper relationship with the animal. By anticipating when they will occur and how it will happen, discomfort can be eliminated. Unwanted activities can be avoided. That can reduce the pressure the horse feels, which will eventually lead to it lashing out in some way. 

It is important to remember that horses have a sense of humor. Some might buck just because they think it is funny. They have no concept of the danger that their kicks may cause. Unless there is a clear discomfort trigger or the bucking is a clear response to an unwanted action, a good approach to take is to assume the horse is bucking because it wants to play.

That means it is a social response. Give the horse more time, teach it alternatives to gain your attention, and you may very well see a cessation of the unwanted bucking behavior.

What is The Gestation Period For a Horse

The average gestation length for a mare is usually 11-12 months. That creates a range of 320 days to 362 days. Most fares will foal at some point within that timeframe. Some mares have foaled successfully before or after this average timeframe, however, so the averages listed here are intended to be a framework more than a guideline to determine a foaling date. 

Individual mares tend to have their own gestation average as well. Although most mares fit into the average time frames, some mares may naturally have slightly shorter or slightly longer gestation periods for every foal. Unless the health of the mare is at risk, the pregnancy should be allowed to reach its natural conclusion. 

Most mares will only produce 1 foal per year. A pregnancy which involves multiples can be quite dangerous. Mares that do experience a twin pregnancy usually do so because they’ve experienced multiple ovulations.

What Happens to the Reproductive System?

When a mare begins to ovulate, there are changes in hormone levels that can change the characteristics of the reproductive organs. These changes help the mare be prepared (or prevented) from conceiving.

The uterus of the horse sees an increased level of estrogen. That causes the uterus to lose its tone and feel heavier. This increases muscular tone around the area. Then the cervix begins to relax until ovulation occurs, when it will reach a peak point of relaxation. High progesterone levels could cause the cervix to close instead. 

The reproductive organs become engorged with blood and secretions begin to increase. This process allows for the breeding process or artificial insemination to begin. 

When to Check for a Pregnancy in Mares

A mare may not show any visible signs of being pregnant for some time after an ovulation occurs with a successful fertilization. For the first 3 months, the only visible sign of the pregnancy may be the lack of an estrous cycle. 

If a pregnancy is attempted, an ultrasound examination is usually carried out within the first two weeks after breeding takes place.

Should the ultrasound be inconclusive, it may take 60-90 days, depending upon the breed, for urine and blood testing to confirm a pregnancy. It may also be possible for a pregnancy to be physically detected by a veterinarian in 6-8 weeks after breeding takes place.

After the 3-month examination, the foal begins to develop rapidly. At 6 months, most mares will look visibly pregnant. As the foaling date approaches, the mare continues to grow. A yellowish fluid, which is somewhat sticky, begins to be produced about 2 weeks before the foaling date. Around the same time, the udder will begin to expand.

With about a week before the foaling date to go, the yellowish fluid from the udder begins to turn into a milk product for the foal. The foal may appear to drop as it prepares for the birthing process. At this point, a mare should be isolated and stalled, with frequent checks provided, to ensure proper health. The foal may appear at any time and the mare may give birth standing up.

Why Are Twins So Rare with Horses?

Double ovulations occur at the same time in most instances, but it is possible for a mare to ovulate two eggs that are several days apart. The sperm from a stallion can survive within the reproductive tract for several days, so even if the ovulation of each egg occurs 7 days apart, it is possible that both eggs will be fertilized from the one sperm deposit.

That means a mare may be having a gestation period for two embryos that are of different ages, attempting to coexist with one another.

It takes an embryo at least 11 days for it to be seen on an ultrasound administered by a veterinarian. Because of the ovulation schedule of the mare, a second ovulation that results in another embryo forming could be missed upon an initial examination.

For that reason, the recommendation of many veterinarians is to schedule an examination, which includes an ultrasound, between 13-14 days post-ovulation instead of 11 days after.

It also puts the mare on a strict deadline. Because multiples can be a life-threatening pregnancy, the second embryo is usually eliminated. The 16th day post-ovulation is the optimal time to remove the second embryo because the two may fuse afterward, which makes removal unlikely and the entire pregnancy could miscarry if attempted.

Multiple ovulations of any number are possible, but anything beyond twins is considered extremely rare. Multiples for Warmbloods and Thoroughbreds have been increasing, however, and may occur in 1 out of every 4 estrous cycles.  

It is possible for a mare to carry twins to full-term and to have the offspring and the mare be healthy throughout the entire process. This, unfortunately, tends to be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to pregnancies with multiples. 

What Happens if a Foal is Breeched?

A foal is considered to be in a breech position when the hindquarters appear first during the birthing process. When one of the forelimbs are bent backwards during the birthing process, this may also be referred to by some as a breech. When this occurs, there is a high risk of injury to the mare. The foal may also require assistance to be removed from the birth canal in a timely manner so the risk of injury to it is lower.

Many breech pregnancies can be detected before birth with a routine veterinarian examination. If detected, the foal can usually be rotated so that it can be born in the regular position. If the birth process has begun and a foal has breeched unexpectedly, then this is treated as a medical emergency for the mare and foal.

A breech is more likely when a pregnancy includes multiples. 

The history of horse breeding goes back as far as humanity has kept records on horses. There may be more than 6,500 years of breeding history that is known, with hundreds or thousands of years that go beyond that. The Bedouins were the earliest people document their horse breeding efforts and written pedigrees of some Arabians go back nearly 700 years.

Yet, over all this time, the gestation period for horses has remained relatively constant. By following good veterinary practices and understanding the individual differences that mares may have with a pregnancy, it is possible to produce a successful foal on a regular basis. 

Care may need to be taken for pregnancies which involve multiples, but thanks to modern knowledge and techniques, more mares and their offspring can go on to live healthy and productive lives.  

What Causes Founder In Horses

Founder is a condition that affects the feet of a horse. It occurs when there is inflammation of the laminae, which are the tissues that connect the hoof and pedal bone. Because this inflammation is specific to the folds of tissue that are called the laminae, this condition is technically known as laminitis.

Laminitis may have many different causes. The extent of recovery the horse may experience depends upon how severe the founder is and when treatment first began. Some cases, such as those caused by a traumatic injury, may take several months to heal – if the healing process begins at all. 

What Are the Factors That Can Lead to Founder in Horses?

Several different factors may contribute to founder developing in an individual horse. Some horses are even predisposed to the condition. Horses that tend to be overweight or have suffered from previous bouts of laminitis are more likely to suffer a relapse or a repeat of founder in the future.

The most common reason for laminitis is a diet plan that doesn’t provide the right nutritional balance for the horse. A horse which consumes too many sugars and starch can overload their digestive system. This causes the carbohydrates to remain undigested, so they’re pushed toward the hindgut.

Once there, the carbohydrates are broken down by digestive bacteria, but that causes higher acidity levels in the digestive tract. This results in death for the bacteria. Toxins are released into the gut as the bacteria die and are passed into the bloodstream of the horse through the gut wall. The toxins create an internal response which disrupts blood flow to the extremities of the horse, which is why laminitis eventually develops.

These additional factors may also trigger founder in horses or contributed to severe symptoms.

1.    Stress. Horses that experience frequent or dramatic changes to their environment or companionship may flood themselves with enough stress hormones that laminitis can be triggered. Mares who lose their foals are particularly prone to founder.
2.    Infection. If a horse is already dealing with an infection, then it can spread to the foot and cause founder. Severe bacterial infections in or around the legs have the highest risks of transforming into laminitis. Severe colic attacks, prolonged diarrhea, and placenta retention may also provide increased risks to certain horses.
3.    Obesity. Some horses are large, but they are not overweight. It is the extra fat that a horse might pack on that can lead to founder. Horses need to receive an amount of exercise that is equal to their caloric intake. Having too many calories and not enough exercise places a strain on the connective tissues of the foot, which can then inflame and cause founder.
4.    Trauma. Horses that are worked for long periods or ridden on hard surfaces can create a concussion syndrome with their hoof that may lead to laminitis. The quality of the hoof may increase this risk as well. If the laminae experience irritation or trauma for prolonged periods, founder may not be far behind.

Another health issue that may cause some horses to develop laminitis is called Cushing’s disease. It may also be referred to as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction, which is abbreviated to PPID. This condition can occur in any horse of any age, but it affects older horses, usually above the age of 15.

Common signs and symptoms of Cushing’s disease include changes to the coat, decreased movement, added fat deposits along the crest and tail head, and increased drinking, sweating, and urination. Laminitis is a common outcome for horses with a PPID diagnosis. 

Why Is Founder Such a Dangerous Disease?

Laminitis is such a dangerous disease of the foot because it stops the horse from begin active. It can also cause the foot to “sink,” which can lead to life-threatening consequences.

When founder develops, the tissues which form an attachment between the pedal bone and the hoof begin to fail. As that failure worsens, the weight of the horse begins to affect the actual structure of the foot. This is where the “sinking” process occurs. Without the tissue connection, the pedal bone can rotate and point towards the sole of the foot.

In a worst-case scenario, the pedal bone can even sink through the sole, making it impossible for the horse to be active unless the area is surgically repaired.

What Are the Symptoms of Founder in Horses?

When laminitis occurs in an acute form, the symptoms may occur suddenly and be instantly severe. A horse with founder will usually refuse to walk. In mild cases, there may be a reluctance to walk instead. Horses with founder will usually lie down and then be unwilling to stand back up.

You may also see the horse attempting to relieve the pressure on its foot by placing more weight on its unaffected feet. Because laminitis often causes pain within the frog, some horses may walk heel-to-toe on their affected hoof instead of toe-to-heel.

When walked on a hard surface, the horse will be visible lame. Many horses with laminitis will have an increased pulse in the foot as well.

For acute founder, some horses may also react in a way that suggests they have colic instead of a problem with their foot. That may include rolling on their back and an increase in aggressive behavior.

Chronic founder shows similar symptoms, but they tend to be milder and more progressive than immediate and sudden. Chronic symptoms of laminitis tend to come from relapses that occur after an acute case of the disease has been treated.

Besides the lameness symptoms, horses with chronic founder will also begin to develop growth rings in their hoof wall. They can look similar to hoof rings that are formed when the horse is stressed out frequently or has nutritional deficiencies. Laminitis rings show evidence of growth, much like the rings of a tree.

When chronic founder is present, the heel of the hoof will often grow faster than the toe. The white line in the hoof tends to widen as the disease progresses as well. 

How to Treat Laminitis in Horses

Before taking any action, it is essential that a veterinarian examine the horse if founder is suspected. A correct treatment plan must be developed from the symptoms and condition of the horse. This gives the horse the best possible chance to avoid lasting, and possibly permanent, damage to the feet.

A veterinarian will likely provide a prescription that will help with any pain the horse may be feeling as well.

If you suspect founder and you’re waiting for the veterinarian examination, then try to move the horse to a smaller enclosure. Bed down the area with sand or shavings so the hoof can sink into the material. This will take a lot of the pressure off the affected hoof while limiting the movement of the horse.

Horses that are suffering from founder may need to have their feed removed, but should have ready access to clean water at all times. Since most cases of founder are caused by dietary issues, the veterinarian may offer specific nutritional guidance to follow as part of the treatment plan that is developed.

Because of these sudden changes, many horses may feel an increased level of stress that can worsen their laminitis symptoms. This stress can be reduced by having a companion close by. Stall toys that do not require high levels of activity can be beneficial as well.

Do not ice the foot of the horse or spray it with cold water unless directed to do so by a veterinarian. Cold hosing provides relief, but it can also cause the tissues which support the pedal bone to shrink. A horse in extreme discomfort may feel better with ice or cold water, but the condition can worsen with repetitive treatment.

Horses suffering from founder should not be asked to stand.

How to Prevent Founder in Horses

A well-controlled diet and regular exercise are the best ways to prevent founder in most horses. A horse should be fed according to their size, workload, and type. Try to feel little, but feed often, for best results. Starving is never a good idea, even if the horse is overweight. Lack of food access can lead to hyperlipaemia.

Horses should visit their farrier on a regular schedule as well. When the hoof is in the best possible condition, the risks of laminitis are much lower. For high-risk horses, consider a food supplement that encourages hoof growth.

A horse should also be dewormed regularly or have egg counts performed on a regular basis. The schedule is individualized to the horse, so speak with a veterinarian about what the best options will be for this preventative measure.

Weight maintenance, pasture maintenance, and regular social activities can all help a horse feel more comfortable, reducing potential triggers that could lead to laminitis.

Founder is a painful condition. It can do more than be a debilitating nuisance. In severe cases, the life of the horse is at risk. Prevention is always the best option, but quick treatment is necessary when the signs and symptoms of laminitis are seen. 

What is The Average Weight of a Horse

The average weight of an adult horse is about 1,200 pounds. This includes all breeds, shapes, and sizes of horse.

In reality, however, the average weight of a horse is dependent upon the breed to which it belongs and whether it is a stallion, a gelding, or a mare. Heavy draft breeds may have an average weight of more than 2,200 pounds for a stallion or gelding and more than 1,800 pounds for mares.

On the other end of the spectrum, many pony breeds may have stallions that average about 800 pounds, geldings that average about 900 pounds, and mares that average about 600 pounds.

Then there are the miniature horse breeds, where the weight of the horse may be comparable to the weight of a large dog.

How to Determine the Weight of a Horse

A scale will always be the most accurate method of determine the weight of an individual horse. The only problem is that the scales which are large enough to weigh the bigger horse breeds may not be available in every community. Even the local veterinarian may not own a scale that is large enough to properly weigh a Clydesdale, Shire, or other heavy draft breed.

Some local businesses may provide large-item weighing services that could be used to weigh a horse. One local method is to trailer the horse and take it to a local landfill or large recycling center. The attendant can weigh the trailer with the horse inside. Then the horse is unloaded in a safe area and the trailer is weighed again. 

This service may be free or a small fee may be charged, but it is more accurate than other weight-determining options that are currently available.

Weigh tapes are sometimes used to determine the weight of an individual horse as well. These tapes tend to be double-sided. One side is designed for the pony breeds and the other is designed for the horse breeds.

You can tell if your horse is classified as a pony breed if it stands 14.2 hands high or less. Some stallions in pony breeds may exceed the height threshold. In that circumstance, the other side of the tape should be used.

Weigh tapes are about 90% accurate, but they are much more convenient than trying to trailer a horse to a scale or the veterinarian’s office to get an accurate weight. To obtain the most accurate measurement, you will want to make sue the horse being weighed is on ground that is firm and level. The horse should be relaxed, but standing square.

Then take the tape and have it come around the low withers, with the correct side of the tape facing you. Then draw the tape so it comes close to the front legs, at a slight angle from the top of the withers, so that it is firm against the horse, but not digging into the hide.

You may be required to take the measurement and input it into a manufacturer’s formula to determine the weight of the horse. You may also be able to read the weight of the horse directly from the tape.

It may take several measurements over a period of 30-60 days to determine the average weight of an individual horse. Then that weight average can be compared to the breed weight average as a marker to determine the possible health status of the horse. Think of the weight measurement as a body mass index reading, but for horses.

Is There Another Way to Determine the Weight of a Horse?

If you don’t mind doing a little math, then you can create a fairly accurate weight by taking the girth of the horse and the height of the horse and then using a specific formula. You will then need to convert the wait from kg to lbs, depending on what specific measurement you’re wanting to have.

You will need to take the girth measurement first. This follows the same measurement process as the weigh tape method of determining weight. Make sure that you note the measurement in centimeters so it works with the following formula.

You will then need to take a measurement from the shoulder to the point of the hindquarters. The measurement must follow the exact contours of the body for this measurement method to provide an accurate weight representation.

Once the measurements in centimeters have been obtained, you can use the following steps to determine the weight of the horse.

Step #1: Take the girth measurement in centimeters and double it. 
Step #2: Then take that result and multiply it by the length measurement in centimeters.
Step #3: Divide the (Girth x 2) x Length result and divide it by 11,887.
Step #4: Convert kilograms into pounds if desired. One kilogram is equal to 2.205 pounds.

By following those steps, you can take exact measurements to reliably determine what the weight of your horse happens to be. From there, you can then match your weight measurement to the average weights that are applied to the specific breed of horse you have just measured.

What Are the Average Weights to Expect?

Pony breeds tend to weigh the least, with the smallest horses weighing around 440 pounds. Stallions in the pony breeds that come close to the maximum height requirements may have an average weight of about 880 pounds.

Polo ponies are slightly heavier. Their average weight begins around 880 pounds and some stallions in the larger breeds in this category may weigh up to 1,100 pounds.

Arabian horses are put into their own category for classification since some Arabians may qualify as ponies and others may be as tall as some cobs or light draft horses. The average weight range for an Arabian is between 900-1,100 pounds.

For the other breeds, including hunters, light draft, and heavy draft horses, there is a direct correlation to the height of the horse and how much it weighs. A difference in height of just 0.1 hands can be enough to increase the average expected weight of the horse by over 100 pounds.

Although there are several heavy draft horses that have exceeded 20 hands high and have weighed close to 3,000 pounds, the title of the heaviest horse ever documented belongs to a Shire gelding that was foaled in 1846. Living in Bedfordshire, England, the horse was named Sampson and was owned by Thomas Cleaver. At the age of 4, Sampson was measured at 21.25 hands high, which meant he stood over 7 feet tall at the withers. 

Cleaver renamed Sampson as Mammoth after that level of growth. His peak weight was believed to be over 3,300 pounds. 

The average weight of a horse depends on the individual, the breed, and the genetic profile of the horse. By taking each factor into account, it becomes possible to gain insights into the current and future health of the animal.

What is a Roan Horse

A roan horse is characterized by a specific coat color pattern. Most roan horses will have a coat that is mixed with white hair and colored hair that is common to their breed. The “points” of the horse, however, are usually a solid color, without the white hair. That means the mane, tail, and lower legs tend to be a darker color than the remainder of the coat that covers the horse.

Roan patterning is a dominant inheritance. A majority of horse breeds allow for roan horses to be registered, though not every breed may allow a roan horse to produce purebred offspring. Although the reason for the roan coat is not known beyond the fact that it is a genetic mutation, DNA testing is available to determine the likelihood of roan characteristics for several different horse breeds.

Roan coloration is always present at birth, but their coloration may slightly alter as they grow older and their primary coat begins to grow in.

Many roan horses will have their coats become a different shade in the warmer and colder seasons, moving from light to dark or dark to light, depending upon the other color involved. Unlike gray horses, however, the roan coat stays consistent. Roans do not become lighter or darker in coat color as they get older.

What Are the Different Shades of Roan?

Although the mixture of coat colors involves white and a base color, the actual shading of the horse can be quite unique. The background color is often used to describe the exact type of roan that the horse happens to be.

There are three common types of roan coat coloring that are seen throughout most horse breeds today.

Blue roan is a coat color that has a very dark underlying coat that is evenly mixed with white coat hairs. This gives the coat color a bluish tone when sunlight strikes it. An authentic blue roan has a black base coat color, but any “dark” base coat color may be referred to as a blue roan.

Red roan is a coat color that involves a bay or chestnut primary coat that is mixed with the white hairs. Some horses may have a light red tone to their coat, which makes them appear to be slightly pink when the sun hits the hair. In the past, these red roan horses were sometimes called “strawberry roans.” Darker chestnut or bay colors may also be called “honey roan” or “lilac roan,” depending upon the breed.

Bay roan is a coat color that is specific to the bay coat color. Some breeds still incorporate this coloration into “red roan,” but Quarter Horses, Paint Horses, and other breeds have given this color its own category for breeding and registry purposes.

There are actually 3 different shades of bay roan that are possible in many horse breeds. There is a brown base color with black points with a dark shade, the same with a lighter shade, and then a bay roan that has some white hair in the mane and tail as well.

Most roan horses show more white hair during the summer months and have darker hair with a winter coat, but horses that do not grow a thicker coat for winter may seem lighter.

How Roan Horses Are Genetically Possible

The roan coat color is a simple dominant trait. It is usually symbolized through an Rn allele. The roan gene, or R, does not appear in the offspring of two parents that are not roan, even if there are roan horses in the offspring’s lineage.

If both parents have the Rn allele, then the offspring they produce is guaranteed to be a roan horse. There are homozygous and heterozygous roans (two parents being roan or one parent roan), but both types are identical in appearance. 

When one of the parents is roan, then the base color for the coat becomes a combination of the coat genes passed to the horse. That is how the different colors become possible, including rare roan colors, such as palomino or buckskin roans.

Dominant traits cannot skip a generation. There are times when it appears that roan coloration might skip a generation, but one of the parents is slightly roan and it may not be noticeable. Extensive white markings or gray coloration can also “hide” roan coat attributes to create a foal that is a “surprise” roan.

Certain genetic influences may also cause some horses to be a “false” roan. Sabin, rabicano, and other coloration influences, such as varnishing marks or leopard complex colors, may create the appearance of a roan horse. “False” roans are not considered an actual roan horse.

DNA testing that can detect the Rn allele is available and the mutation that causes the coat coloration has been assigned to ECA3, which is a specific horse chromosome. Zygosity tests are available and reliable for certain breeds that allow for roan horses to be produced with greater reliability as well.

The Problem with Gray Horses and Roan Horses

It is not uncommon for gray horses to be mistaken for roan horses. Both types of coats possess similar characteristics, and since gray is a common coat color, it is not unusual for an owner or handler to believe they have a roan horse because of the way it looks. Many gray horses are actually registered as bay roan horses when they are young.

Gray foals can be born of any coat color, including roan, without there being an indication that the coat will change color as the horse reaches adulthood. That also complicates the registration process, especially if the foal does not come from a lineage that includes gray horses in recent generations.

What defines a gray coat from a bay coat is that the coat of the horse with gray will become consistently lighter over time. Mature gray horses may keep none of their original coat color and look like a horse that is pure white. The color of the eyes and the skin remain unchanged, however, and that can give the “points” of the horse a look that is reminiscent of roan horses.

Even if a roan horse has the gray gene, their coat color does not develop more white or gray hair over time. At best, this gene causes the horse to look slightly lighter or darker with each passing season as the coat changed.

Roan horses provide a unique look to many horse breeds. All can be registered, but some may only be permitted to register as a color breed or through a roan horse association. Except for the unique coat, all the other breed expectations apply to each horse. 

What is a Stallion Horse

A stallion horse is a male horse that is capable of siring offspring. To be registered, a purebred stallion must be able to meet the conformation standards and the phenotype of the breed.

Compared to geldings and mares, a stallion tends to have a nick that is thicker and with a larger crest. There is typically more muscle mass throughout the body of the horse and herd instincts may be present at times as well.

The temperament of a stallion can vary widely. Influences of training and genetics make it so that some stallions are calm, gentle, and willing – while others are stubborn, aggressive, and difficult to handle. With proper training, a stallion can be competitive at the highest levels of sport in many different events.

History of the Term “Stallion”

Referring to male horses that can sire offspring as a “stallion” is a practice that dates to the time of King Henry VII. During his reign in the late 15th and early 16th century, several laws were passed in Britain that controlled the export and breeding of horses. The goal was to improve the population that existing in the kingdom. It became illegal to allow an uncastrated male horse to be placed in the commons or fields.

Those male horses had to be kept within bounds. They were required to be tied to their stalls. The word “stallion” literally means “stalled one.”

Although other uncastrated equine breeds, such as donkeys and zebras, also have stallions, the term originated through the requirements issued by Henry VII.

What Is the Herd Behavior of a Stallion?

Stallions typically form one of two different herd types. One is the family herd, where the stallion has 2-4 mares and their offspring with them at all times. They stay together as a family until the young horses are ready to wander off on their own to form their own herds. Powerful stallions may have 5+ mares in their herd, but large harems are very rare.

The other type of herd that stallions form is called a “bachelor group.” Horses are very social animals and thrive when they have companionship. Stallions that are unable to find mares for their own herd will group together and form their own group. The age range of a bachelor group can be quite extensive, with elderly and young stallions working together.

The stallion is often seen as being the head of the herd, but the leadership role is actually held by one of the mares. This is the boss mare, or the “lead mare,” as some prefer. It is her job to find food and water. The boss mare decides which shelter they should use.

The role of the stallion is to defend the herd. Most stallions will stay near the rear of the herd, acting as a guard to prevent an attack from behind. They may “encourage” slower members of the herd to keep up with the box mare.

How Often Do Stallions Fight?

Stallions rarely fight each other for mares when living in the wild or in semi-feral conditions. A stallion can compete for the mares of a herd at any time. Some may just choose to try to “steal” a mare or two to form their own herd if a stallion has a large harem.

When two stallions meet and the goal is to square off for a herd, they will usually bluff each other until one of them decides that they are the weaker horse and decide to wander away. Even if a fight breaks out, the weaker horse would be able to flee and that made for only short periods of combat at best.

It is when stallions are confined in small settings, in captivity, where the violent and prolonged battles for herd dominance occur. In captivity, there is no way to flee. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain with victory. These fights can result in serious injuries, harm owners and handlers, and even cause injury to mares and foals. 

How Are Stallions Managed Properly?

Stallions that have been domesticated can be trained in several different ways so they can be properly managed. The training regimen for the horse is dependent upon his personality and temperament, the region where the horse lives, and the philosophies of the owner and the trainer.

Before anything else, a stallion must be trained to learn how to behave around all humans with respect. Stallions are naturally aggressive and have an urge to dominate their surroundings. Without training, a stallion will often bite at people as a way to protect himself or to express that dominance.

Confinement and isolation is one of the most common methods of management, but this may not be the best option. Horses are social creatures and human contact, though better than nothing, is not the same as having other horses around. For that reason, more handlers are moving toward what is known as the harem management model.

By allowing the pasture to be managed instead of the stallion, the horse has the opportunity to behave like a horse. Even if a bachelor group is formed with geldings and other stallions, the aggressive behaviors can often be tempered. There tend to be fewer negative stable behaviors or habits that develop in the harem management model as well.

It should be noted, however, that the natural instincts of a stallion may overcome the training they have received at any time. Common sense must always be used when working with these horses. For that reason, only a handful of breeds permit children to be working with stallions and even fewer permit children to show or ride stallions in competition.

Disadvantages of Natural Management Methods

The primary disadvantage of the natural management methods for stallions is that the foaling date for mares can be somewhat unknown. Although they receive more exercise that stallions that are kept in the stall, it is more difficult to manage the predictability of offspring and that can put the health of a mare at risk.

With proper training, stallions can often work with mares without difficulty, but again – the natural instincts of the horse can overwhelm the training at times. Even in highly regulated settings, such as those at the Spanish Riding School where Lipizzan stallions are managed, the occasional management problem does come up.

Stallions of a breeding age are the most likely to exhibit challenging behavior.

When stallions are provided enough space, and are given enough food, then they can find a way to live peacefully. Even stallions that have been used for breeding can coexist with each other in a bachelor herd when there are enough resources available to them.

Stallions can be challenging, but they can also be wonderful. It is always important to focus on the good qualities of the horse so the unwanted behaviors can be properly managed.

What Does a White Horse Symbolize

White horses have long held a mystique in the history of human culture. They are part of many mythologies. Some of the greatest gods and warriors in history are said to ride white horses, including those who would return to save humanity from an apocalypse. In England, the Uffington White Horse is a hill figure that is over 3,000 years old, but the mythology of white horses goes even further back.

In most instances, grey horses are treated the same as white horses for what they have come to symbolize.

European Symbolism for White Horses

The Slavics believed that white horses could help humans gain insight into what the future would bring. Priests would observe a white stallion’s movement between a series of fences. By seeing which leg would step first through each fence row, future events could be divined. 

In Celtic mythology, the white horse is associated with Rhiannon. She is linked to the horse goddess Epona, associated with fertility. Many would draw figures of white horses to encourage families who wanted to have more children.

Ancient Hungarians would actually sacrifice white horses to their god because they were a symbolism of wealth. These horses were often sent in exchange for payments or debts and could bring a better harvest. 

In Scottish mythology, a white horse is associated with a water demon. The creature would be found in the pools and lochs around the country and has the ability to shapeshift into other forms as well, including humans.

The Greeks associated white horses with Pegasus, who was sired by Poseidon while in the role of being a horse god. The mother of Pegasus is Medusa. As the myth goes, Zeus transformed Pegasus into a constellation to be forever remembered in the sky.

Religious Symbolism for White Horses

In Christianity, Revelation 19 describes a white horse. “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.”

Christianity also describes the First Horseman of the apocalypse riding a white horse, given the task of “conquering and to conquer.” Saint James and Saint George are also directly associated with white horses. 

In Hinduism, white horses appear many times. One of the most precious objects that came from the battle between the demons and devas in the churning ocean was a white horse with 7 heads, sometimes ridden by Indra. Surya rides a chariot that is drawn by 7 white horses. Kalki, the tenth incarnation of Vishnu, is predicted to appear riding on a white horse as well.

In Buddhism, Kanthaka is a white horse that is described as being the loyal servant of Gautama Buddha. Kanthaka is part of every major event before the renunciation, which is said to have caused the white horse to die from a broken heart.

Islam tells of a creature named Al-Buraq that is often described as a “beast,” “steed,” or “mount.” Artwork depicts this white horse as having the face of a human, though such a description is not included in the writings of the religion. It is said that Al-Buraq helped to take Abraham when he left to visit Hagar and Ishmael. Al-Buraq only appears in some hadith literature.

Certain Shi’a traditions also have Mahdi appearing one day while riding a white horse.

In Judaism, white horses are included with horses of other colors to represent the spirits of heaven. Zechariah describes these horses as being teams that go forth and patrol the world, doing their best to keep things peaceful.

Far Eastern Symbolism for White Horses

In Vietnam, a white horse serves as the patron saint of Hanoi. The Bach Ma Temple, or “White Horse” Temple, is specifically dedicated to the spirit of this creature. In the 11thn century, the king said that he had a vision of a white horse which represented a river spirit. It guided him to the place where he was to build his citadel.

In the Philippines, a white horse serves as the symbol of the city of Pangantucan. It is said that a white horse helped to save a tribe from a massacre because it uprooted bamboo unexpectedly and that warned the people that an enemy was approaching.

In Korea, a white horse is part of the Kingdom of Silla story. As people come to gather to say prayers for a king, the white horse emerges from a bolt of lightning. The horse then bows to a shining egg before flying back into the heavens. The egg opened and a boy, Park Hyeokgeose, emerged. The boy grew up and united the warring states.

White Horses in Dream Symbolism

Many people will also dream of white horses. When white horses are seen, it is often an indication of being spiritually aware. It can symbolize innocence and purity, be a symbol of good fortune, or even represent prosperity.

Being chased by a white horse in a dream can be a reflection of relationship issues. The dreamer may feel like they are unworthy or incapable of being a supportive partner within an intimate relationship. This is reinforced if the white horse is a wild horse.

White horses that are dead within a dream can be symbolize the ending of a friendship. It can also be an indication of an upcoming change in life circumstances. Sometimes, this type of dream can be interpreted as a way to encourage the dreamer to move on to another phase in their life, such as a new career.

Dreams that involve white horses being pulled by the individual symbolize feelings of repression and control. It is a desire for the inner person to break free of the daily pressures that are so bothersome.

Mounting a white horse is a representation of upcoming wealth. Riding a white horse without a saddle with the opposite sex can be an indication that sexual desires are not being fulfilled or that prosperity might be fleeting. Riding without a saddle with the same gender can be a reflection of abundance. For those in the LGBTQIA+ community, the opposite of these interpretations may also be true, depending on the orientation and perspective of each individual.

What Does a White Horse Symbolize to You?

White horses have symbolized many different things to cultures and religions throughout history. What is most important, however, is what they symbolize to each person. They may represent strength, beauty, passion, or other powerful aspects of life that can inspire greatness in each person.

A white horse is a special creature. Let us treat them with the respect they deserve each day. 

What is Horse Tack

Horse tack are equipment items or accessories that are used to complete various tasks. Bridles, halters, saddles, and stirrups are all examples of tack. When this equipment is added to the horse, it may be called “tacking up.” A room within a stable that stores this equipment and other accessories is often referred to as a “tack room.”

What Is the Most Important Tack?

For most horses, the saddle is the most important tack item that is owned. The saddle provides a seat for the rider. It will often be fastened to the horse by using a cinch or a girth, depending if English or Western riding is desired. The cinch or girth is a wide strap that goes around the horse, behind the forelegs, and it secures the saddle tightly to the back of the horse.

A saddle blanket will usually go on the horse before the saddle is placed. The blanket helps to prevent skin injuries from the natural movement the saddle tends to have when a rider is in place. Because the blanket is usually considered an accessory, it is treated as a tack item as well.

Western saddles might also have a back cinch or flank, which is a second strap that secures the saddle to the horse.

English and Western saddles are slightly different in design, but there are also different saddles that are designed to complete specific tasks. Racing saddles, side saddles, and endurance saddles are all different options.

Accessories for a saddle that would also be considered tack, but are optional, include the following.

  • Crupper. This is a loop that comes with an adjustable strap that runs over the croup from the dock to the saddle of a harness. It is usually made from leather and stops the equipment from slipping forward on the horse.
  • Surcingle. This accessory is often used to teach horses to accept girth pressure. It is used for lunging and can attach to the reins or overcheck. It can also be used without a saddle, sitting just behind the withers.
  • Breastplate. This tack option prevents the saddle from sliding backwards or sideways while it is on the horse.

Many saddles include stirrups, which provide support to the feet of the rider while they are in the saddle. It is often treated as safety equipment, but the feet of the rider can also get caught in the stirrup and create a risk for dragging should they fall out of the saddle. Special boots can be worn and safety bars added to the saddle to prevent this from happening. 

Headgear Tack for Horses

Headgear tack for horses can come in a variety of styles and options. Each tends to be added for a specific task. Multiple headgear tack can be worn simultaneously and some tack is designed to be worn full-time by the horse.

The halter is the most common form of headgear tack. Sometimes called a collar or headstall, it has a noseband and head piece that buckles around the head of the horse. When properly secured, the halter allows the horse to be tied or led. A lead rope can be attached to the halter as well and this tack accessory comes in various lengths to complete specific tasks, such as picketing.

Stallions may require a chain to be attached to their lead rope or halter to increase handler control while they are being led.

Bridles are another common tack option for horses. They are very similar to bridles, but with one key difference: bridles have a bit attached, which lead to reins that riders use to help provide added control while in the saddle. The type of riding that is preferred will dictate which type of bridle is used with the horse.

English bridles have a noseband that allows the reins to be bucked to each other. They are designed to be simple and straightforward in use, so few adornments are usually added.

Western bridles do not generally have a noseband. They tend to give the rider split reins or closed reins. Different silver adornments are added to this tack, often a reflection of the personality of the rider, the horse, or both.

Double bridles are usually seen in English riding and they are unique because they have a snaffle and a curb instead of a single bit. This gives the rider an additional level of control while in the saddle.

Hackamore bridles are bitless and rely on a heavier noseband for control. These are used when working with senior horses or horses that have dental health issues. They can also be used to train younger horses the basics of riding. Bitless bridles are seen in English and Western riding.

Incorporating Bits into the Horse Tack

Bits are placed into the mouth of the horse and connect to the headstall of the bridle being worn. There are several different types of bits available and each is used for a specific type of training or riding.

Although some horses may like to chew on their bits, the tack is designed to sit behind the front teeth of the horse, but in front of the molars. This location is called the “bars” of the mouth. For a bit to function properly, it must not cause discomfort for the horse or impact their teeth in any way. Because of this, it is not unusual for a horse to have a custom bit.

There are several hundred different types of bits that are available through tack stores today, but most use one of four common styles.

  • The snaffle bit is the most common type of tack that is used and it has rings on either side that connect to the bridle to provide pressure. This bit can be single-jointed or double-jointed and does not contain a shank. 
  • The curb bit provides lever action for the rider, placing pressure on one side of the mouth or the other. It is a solid bar with an upward curve in the middle to create added pressure when commands are given.
  • The Pelham bit is a combination of the snaffle and curb bit, containing a bit ring and a bit shank. It works on several parts of the head instead of focusing on the areas of the mouth.
  • The Weymouth bit, or the full bridle, has two bits and four reins. It is used most often for horse shows and dressage when formal tack is required.

Because the bit is the piece of tack that provides the most rider control, there are some bits that are specifically designed to provide discomfort or even pain to “get the horse to listen.” These bits, which may be deemed to be illegal, may contain bike chain components, spiked bars, chain links, and twisted wires.

Any bit that is used improperly or in a manner that is unsafe, however, offers the potential of abuse.

Are Reins Considered Horse Tack?

The other common component of horse tack that is often used is the reins. Reins are usually leather straps, but could be synthetic materials or even rope. They extend from the outer portion of the bit or the bridle, around the head of the horse, and into the hands of the rider. It is how commands are given to the horse while riding.

Pulling on the reins can steer the horse in a specific direction, ask the horse to speed up, or tell the horse to stop. The reins pull the head of the horse to one side, which tells the horse the direction or the command that is being issued.

A harness is part of this tack group because it extends the reins over the back of the horse so other equipment can be pulled by the horse. A coach, a wagon, or even farm equipment requires a harness that is attached to the bridle or bit. The reins are then attached to the harness.

Reins can also be attached to halters so a horse can be guided or lead through a specific task.

Pairs of horses can be controlled with this combination of tack in multiple groups. Fours, sixes, and eights are all possible, a description which refers to the number of reins that connect to pairs of horses instead of individual horses.

One common mistake that is seen with the reins is that they are used to tie the horse. Reins are a thin material and will break easily, especially if the leather has been exposed to weather elements. If the horse is tied incorrectly with the reins, the bit can become quite painful for the horse as well. That is why a rope should always be used.

Any piece of equipment that is used with a horse is considered tack. Accessories that are used with that equipment are also tack. For that reason, it is usually better to reference specific tack items, such as the saddle, when speaking about the equipment instead of using the generic term. Otherwise, there can be a lot of confusion about what is being discussed. 

What is Strangles in Horses

Strangles is a form of distemper that occurs in horses and related equines. It is an infection that occurs in the upper respiratory tract and is contagious. As the infection builds a foothold, it begins to cause the lymph nodes of the horse to swell. That causes the larynx, pharynx, and trachea of the horse to start closing from compression. Without treatment, strangles can be life-threatening to a horse.

Strangles can also cause numerous abscesses to form in and around the head and neck area. Some horses may have these abscesses form in other places on their body as well. These abscesses can burst, creating a painful wound. 

How to Tell if a Horse Has Strangles

The first symptoms of strangles that can be seen tend to be the swelling of the lymph nodes. Many horses will develop abscesses on their lymph nodes around the neck and head area. As the swelling worsens, the horse will begin to hack and cough more often. They may have difficulty swallowing as well, which puts them off their feed.

The swelling may be localized when a horse has strangles or it may affect their entire head and neck region.

A horse with strangles will also develop a fever, often as high as 106F. There is usually discharge that comes from the eyes and nose as strangles develops as well. It is this discharge that spreads the disease to other horses. The discharge comes from the lymph nodes draining pus or mucus being discharged from the nose and will contaminate everything from the feed trough to the pasture to the tack of the horse.

What Is Bastard Strangles?

Bastard strangles is a severe form of the disease that causes abscesses to appear in other parts of the horse’s body. When bastard strangles is presence, the lungs, abdomen, and even the brain may experience growths. These abscesses can rupture and that can cause serious life-threatening conditions for the horse that goes beyond airway swelling.

Horses of any age can contract either form of strangles. Horses that are younger and elderly horses tend to be at the highest levels of risk. Horses that have a compromised immune system can also struggle with this disease.

When both forms of strangles are evaluated, the mortality rate of this disease is about 8%. Horses that can avoid the problems of bastard strangles typically have a higher rate of recovery. Morbidity is very high with this disease and horses must be isolated to protect the rest of the herd. The isolation period for strangles, in most instances, can be up to 6 weeks to ensure the bacteria which cause the disease are not continuing to incubate.

How to Treat Strangles in Horses

Because strangles is a bacterial infection, it can be treated with common antibiotics. If the horse is diagnosed with strangles before abscesses begin to form, then the condition is treated like a streptococcal infection in humans. Penicillin or derivative antibiotics are used, unless there is an allergy to the medicine. Alternative antibiotics can be prescribed to avoid the health issues of an allergy.

Once abscesses have begun to form, however, some veterinarians may recommend against using antibiotics as there is the possibility that it can spread through the lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

Should an exterior abscess burst, it is important to keep the wound clean and disinfected. Iodine and povidone solutions are used to clean out the wound. A syringe is often necessary to reach all areas and scrubbing around the wound to remove bacteria is helpful as well.

Some horses may also benefit from having a warm pack placed on their abscesses to help them mature with less pain.

The best way to treat strangles, however, is to vaccinate the horse as soon as possible. There are intramuscular and intranasal vaccines that are available through local veterinarians. Proactive disinfection of all equipment, stalls, tack, and buckets is necessary, especially if strangles is suspected.

It is also a best practice to have a designated quarantine area so that new horses can be placed in isolation for 3 weeks to observe the status of their health. Quarantined areas should have dedicated equipment to prevent transmissions to the rest of the herd. Veterinarians can screen new arrivals for strangles as well. 

Good handwashing techniques by owners and handlers is a must as well. Humans that come into contact with the bacteria which causes strangles can pass it along to other horses through basic contact. 

Flies can also pass strangles onto other horses. Place any gauze and materials used to clean the wounds or nasal discharge from the horse in sealed containers to prevent an unintended outbreak. 

What Are the Complications of Strangles in Horses?

A majority of horses will come through a strangles infection without suffering any long-lasting effects and will fully recover. Horses that fully recover from strangles usually have full immunity from the disease for several years afterward.

Some horses can become a chronic carrier of strangles and must be kept away from other horses to avoid having the bacteria spread. In this instance, they should remain in isolation except for coming into contact with other horses who are carriers. About 1 in 10 horses that recover from strangles will become a chronic carrier of the bacteria.

With bastard strangles, several different health conditions can develop because of the presence of the abscesses or complications from them bursting. Pneumonia is the most common health issue that develops with bastard strangles. Some horses may experience heart health issues. The guttural pouch may also begin filling with pus and become very painful for the horse.

It usually takes about 3 weeks for a horse to fully recover from strangles.

Can Humans Catch Strangles?

Because strangles is caused by a streptococcus bacterium, it is possible for humans to contract an infection when working closely with an infected horse. Avoiding any contact with nasal or abscess discharge will prevent the infection from spreading. Handlers who do come into contact with infectious discharge should avoid having it come around the areas of their eyes, mouth, or nose.

The best way to prevent horse-to-human transmission is to wear disposable gloves while working with an infected horse. Avoid touching the face of an infected horse at all times, even with gloves and other personal protective equipment on. Once finished, always wash hands thoroughly.

Most outbreaks of strangles are required to be reported because of its infectious nature. It is a serious disease and should be treated as such. Although 92% of horses that develop strangles will recover from the disease, the risks go down with early intervention and proactive monitoring. That is why it is so important to know what strangles is in horses. 

What is Cushing's Disease in Horses

Cushing’s disease in horses can occur when a tumor develops on the pituitary gland. This tumor, called an “adenoma,” causes the pituitary gland to send an excessive load of hormones throughout the body of the horse. That includes cortisol, which is a hormone that is directly associated with stress. As the tumor grows, higher levels of hormones are created and pushed throughout the body of the horse.

It begins when the hypothalamic neurons begin to degenerate. This causes them to produce lower levels of dopamine, which begins to eliminate the restraints that are placed on pituitary secretion. 

Both humans and canines can experience Cushing’s disease as well. It is not an infectious disease. To distinguish the equine version of Cushing’s from the canine and human versions, it is often diagnosed today as PPID, which stands for “pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. How PPID works in horses is actually closer to Parkinson’s disease in humans than the disease to which each shares a name. 

In horses, Cushing’s disease is usually found in mature horses that are at least 7 years old, but it can affect any horse at any age. Although there are not specific breeds that have a higher risk of suffering from an adenoma, pony breeds do tend to have more cases of Cushing’s disease than other breeds.

What Are the Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Horses?

According to Equus Magazine, pituitary dysfunction may affect elderly horses at a high rate. In a survey of 218 elderly horse owners, 3 out of 10 horses displayed the symptoms of Cushing’s disease, but only 8% of the horses had received a formal diagnosis. 

A 2003 Tufts University study of nearly 500 horses above the age of 20 found that Cushing’s disease was the most common specific health diagnosis shared by the group. 

The symptoms of Cushing’s disease can be slow to develop. They can also be unique to the individual horse, depending on the excessive load of hormones being produced. Once an adenoma is present, however, the signs and symptoms of the disease are progressive.

These are the most common symptoms that horses experience when the adenoma begins to grow on the pituitary gland.

    Changes in Body Shape. Horses with Cushing’s disease tend to develop large deposits of fat along their mane. Many will develop a pot-belly shape over time. It is common for muscle wasting to occur as well, but this may happen at any point of the body instead of one specific spot on the horse.
•    Changes to the Coat. Horses that have an adenoma will experience coat changes. The hairs become longer and the coat becomes thicker. The horse may experience year-long shedding, especially in warmer climates. This typically makes the horse appear to be shaggy and some horses may begin to resemble Curly horses. 
•    Excessive Thirst. Horses with Cushing’s disease tend to experience thirst frequently. They will head to the water trough or their water access point numerous times throughout the day. Because they are drinking an excessive amount of water, horses with this health issue tend to experience excessive urination as well.

Additional symptoms of Cushing’s disease may include weight loss, inflammation of the hoof structures, and ulcers in the mouth. Horses with this disease are also more prone to infection and take longer to heal. Owners or handlers may see cuts, scrapes, or bruises on the horse that take longer to heal compared to other horses in the herd.

Sporting horses with Cushing’s disease may experience a decreased level of athletic performance. Some horses may experience increased sweating because of the adenoma. Changes to the reproductive cycle may occur in mares and stallions with Cushing’s have been known to become infertile. Certain neurological deficits may develop and, over time, blindness may occur.

How is Cushing’s Disease Diagnosed?

Although the symptoms of Cushing’s disease are indicative of the presence of an adenoma, there are other health issues that can cause similar symptoms in horses. If Cushing’s disease is suspected, a veterinarian must example the horse and complete a full blood profile to rule out any other potential cause. This includes a complete blood count and summary of serum chemistry. 

Once completed, another set of blood tests can help to formally diagnose the disease and begin the creation of a treatment plan for the horse. These tests may include a resting ACTH blood test. A TRH Stimulation Test may also be performed. 

How Is Cushing’s Disease Treated in Horses? 

No definitive treatment current exists for Cushing’s disease in horses, but it can be controlled effectively. One of the most common treatments is a medication called Pergolide, which is given to the horse orally in doses of up to 5mg. Bromocriptine is another medication commonly given to horses if Pergolide does not work. Cyproheptadine is a third prescription option and it was the most common treatment until Pergolide was developed.

Some horses may require two or all three of these medications to stabilize their hormone levels.

Additional management practices must be included with a Cushing’s treatment plan as well. Horses with this disease are very prone to laminitis, so there must be regular visits to a professional farrier to maintain hoof health. Horses with this condition should have limited access to a lush pasture as well to avoid dietary issues.

Cushing’s disease reduces the effectiveness of a horse’s immune system, even when being treated. Any wounds the horse suffers, including minor scrapes and scratches, must be properly cleaned immediately.

Some veterinarians may recommend certain supplements or specific ingredients to benefit the health of the horse too. Antioxidants are a common item that is recommended, especially plant adaptogens, as they support the immune system and can help the horse be able to fight oxidative stress.

These supplements can also be useful in the management of Cushing’s disease in horses.

•    Omega-3s. These healthy fats can help the horse’s internal systems provide a normal response to inflammation.
•    Chaste Berries. This supplement provides an assist to the endocrine functionality of the horse.
•    Amino Acids. Supplements like threonine, methionine, and lysine help to support the development of lean muscle mass for the horse.

Some horses may also benefit from selenium being added to their feed. They normally obtain the selenium they need from foraging. It prevents cellular damage, but if given in high doses, it can be toxic. Before adding this supplement, it is necessary to test soil and forage selenium levels and to have it measured in the bloodwork of the horse. 

Before giving any horse a supplement, it is important to discuss the overall treatment plan for Cushing’s disease with a veterinarian. Certain supplements may interfere with the functionality of prescription medication.

Dietary Needs of a Horse with Cushing’s Disease

Horses with Cushing’s disease, especially elderly horses, have many special needs that must be met. Routine activities must include vaccinations, dental health, daily hoof care, and deworming. Other preventative procedures may be necessary as well, depending upon the overall health and medical history of the horse.

Horses with Cushing’s disease tend to have specific dietary needs that must be met as part of the preventative routine. Horses with an adenoma may have metabolism and insulin issues that are similar to diabetes mellitus. For that reason, traditional grains and horse treats may be restricted from the diet of the horse. Even pasture may be restricted in some instances. A diet that is high in starch and sugar could negatively impact the health of the horse.

Alternative feed options may include beet pulp that is free from molasses, pellets, or a low-carb feed that is specifically made for senior horses. Avoid alfalfa and clover and stick with grass hays since they contain lower levels of carbohydrates. 

Horses with Cushing’s often need a specific high fiber, low sugar feed. Mineral and vitamin supplements are often added to this type of feed, so speak with a veterinarian about what will benefit the horse specifically. Some horses may need fats added to their recommended feed for weight support.

Providing a Good Life to a Horse with Cushing’s Disease

Simple things can make life better for horses with Cushing’s disease. One of the easiest things that owners or handlers can do is keep the coat of the horse trimmed. This will prevent the horse from overheating in the warmer months and can prevent cases of rain rot from happening in humid climates.

Parasite control is a must for the ongoing treatment plan as well. Horses with PPID are extremely prone to internal parasites. Periodic fecal egg counts and an individualized deworming program are usually part of the treatment process.

A full panel of routine bloodwork is usually part of the treatment plan too. That allows the medical history of the horse to have reference values so that abnormal findings can be recognized and treated immediately. 

Cushing’s disease in horses may not have a cure, but it can be effectively managed. With a little time and work, even horses with this diagnosis can still live fulfilling lives.

What Does it Mean When a Horse is Lame

When a horse is lame, it means they have a gait or a stance that is abnormal for their breed. It is caused by an issue with the structure or function of the horse’s locomotor system. Because of that disorder, the horse is unwilling or may be unable to stand or make normal movements. 

It may be caused by an injury, an acquired disorder, a genetic disorder, an infection, a disease of the central nervous system, a circulatory disease, or a metabolic disorder. It is the most common cause of loss in use.

Lameness, however, is not an actual disease. It is a symptom caused by another health issue that is affecting the horse. Pain is the most common reason why horses become lame, but anything that changes the structure or function of the locomotor system offers the chance for lameness to occur. That is why finding the cause of the lameness and treating the root issue is so critical to the recovery of the horse. 

Determining Lameness on a Scale of Severity

To help determine the severity of lameness with individual horses, the American Association of Equine Practitioners has created a grading scale. This scale provides criteria that applies to all breeds so the same standards of evaluation and treatment can be applied to every horse. That makes it easier to describe the lameness and begin the process of developing an accurate diagnosis.

There are six grades that are included on the current lameness scale.  

Grade 0: This is a sound horse that is not experiencing a lameness issue whatsoever.

Grade 1: This is a horse that experiences intermittent lameness that may be difficult to observe. The horse, even when exhibiting symptoms of lameness, may show only subtle changes in gait or stance.

Grade 2: This grade represents a horse that shows consistent signs of lameness under specific conditions. The lameness may not be apparent when the horse is moving in a walk or a trot along a straight line.

Grade 3: This is a horse that shows lameness symptoms that are consistently observable under every circumstance during the trot.

Grade 4: This horse displays consistent lameness during the walk.

Grade 5: Horses with this grade of lameness can only place a minimal amount of weight on a leg or hoof while in motion or at rest. Horses with this level of lameness are often unwilling or unable to move. 

What Are the Common Causes of Lameness in Horses?

Although there are countless ways for a horse to experience lameness, there are certain causes which are more common than others. Here are the most common issues that veterinarians see which cause lameness in horses.

#1. Heel Pain

Anything that causes pain to the heel of the horse offers the potential for lameness to develop. This can range from an injury to one of the ligaments to problems with the coffin bone. Heel pain can be caused by a hoof wall problem as well. It is also a symptom of navicular syndrome in horses.

#2. Degenerative Joints

For older horses, degenerative joint disease is a common reason why lameness occurs. It can also occur in highly active sporting horses. Excessive wear on certain joints can prevent the cartilage from being able to repair itself, which causes pain for the horse. When enough pain is present in the leg, the horse may refuse to move.

#3. Ligament and Tendon Injury

Any injury to a ligament or tendon in the leg provides a degree of risk for lameness to develop. One of the most common causes of lameness in this category involves the upper digital flexor tendon since it has such a superficial placement. The suspensory ligament and the deep digital flexor are commonly injured as well and can create lameness.

#4. Abscess

An abscess on the foot can cause various grades of lameness, depending on the severity of the condition. Caused by an infection just beneath the hoof, the abscess places pressure on the sensitive structures of the foot and can even cause those tissues, such as the frog, to begin to degenerate. Without relief, an abscess tends to grow and make the lameness worse over time.

#5. Navicular Syndrome

Heel pain is not always present with navicular syndrome, but this small bone can cause lameness nonetheless. This small bone lies within the hoof and if it is not positioned correctly or there is an issue with its health, then it is very likely that the horse will suffer from lameness on some level.

How to Determine What is Causing Lameness

Because there can be so many different causes of lameness in horses, trying to find the specific cause through a systematic investigation and be time consuming and difficult. To make the process easier, a thorough examination of the horse’s medical history is usually the first step in the journey toward a diagnosis. The age, breed, type, and training of the horse will be examined as well as they can provide clues as to what is causing the lameness.

In some horses, an adverse reaction to shoeing can be the cause of lameness. A shoe that is attached poorly or has nails driven into a sensitive portion of the foot may show no outward signs of injury, but can cause high levels of discomfort for the horse. Knowing when the last shoeing took place is usually part of the interview process. In most cases, the shoes will need to be removed to complete the examination.

To relieve pain for the horse, a veterinarian may prescribe certain analgesics or anti-inflammatory medication. How the horse responds to those medications may determine the treatment plan for lameness as well.

A visual inspection of the horse and palpitation of the limbs in various positions can provide a lot of information about what is causing the horse’s lameness as well. If the physical examination is inconclusive, diagnostic imaging technologies can provide supplemental information that may shed light on the situation.

To localize lameness to a specific limb, most horses must be exercised during their examination. If localization occurs, a regional anesthesia may be administered to determine the horse’s response. Exercise is not an option for horses that may be suffering from a leg fracture as the cause of their lameness.

A complete inspection of the back and neck should occur as well.

By recognizing lameness, it can be diagnosed and treated. Because the only symptom of lameness may be a head nod or a rising of the neck when an injured limb strikes the ground and bears weight, an experienced veterinarian should evaluate the horse and recommend a treatment plan to restore the horse to good health.

How to Treat Lameness in Horses

There may be simple steps that can be taken immediately to resolve a lameness issue with a horse. The first step could be to pick the horse’s feet as this will remove any rocks that may have wedged their way into a hoof crevice. Look for bruising on the sole of the foot and check for any discharge. Cracks may be in the hoof or it may have been trimmed too short.

If you feel warmth in one hoof, but not the others, then this can be a sign of infection or an abscess. A pounding pulse may be present as well.

Should inflammation be present, it is important to encourage the horse to get some box rest. This will encourage less weight to be placed on the inflamed or painful area and encourage the horse’s immune system to work on an infection that may be present. 

If swelling is present, a veterinarian may recommend cold hosing on the affected area. This, along with anti-inflammatory medication, can help to reduce localize swelling. You may need to protect the hoof of the horse to prevent it from softening with this daily procedure. Soaking an affected hoof in hot, clean water with Epsom salts can help to draw an infection out and provide temporary relief to the horse.

For abscesses that cause lameness, keeping them warm can help them to mature more quickly with a lesser degree of pain to the horse. If the abscess bursts, disinfect the wound and keep it clean so that it can heal properly.

A trip to the farrier may also be necessary to restructure an affected hoof so that it can bear weight once again. New shoes, braces, or glue-on products may be able to relieve the pain the horse is experiencing so they can become active again.

Lameness can be difficult to diagnose. It can also cause potentially life-threatening circumstances if the grade is severe enough. That’s why being proactive with foot care is essential to the health of the horse. It may be impossible to prevent all potential injuries. With proactive observation and care, there are many cases of lameness that can be avoided in horses today. 

What is the Lifespan of a Horse

The average lifespan of a horse is dependent upon the breed of that horse. Large breeds, such as the heavy draft horses, tend to have a somewhat shorter lifespan compared to the lighter horse breeds.

Where a horse lives will also affect the average lifespan. Horses in the developed world tend to live longer than horses in developing countries because of better food access. Horses in Europe and Canada tend to live a little longer than horses in the United States.

When all is said and done, the average lifespan of a horse today is about 25 years. In Europe, some breeds see an average lifespan exceed 30 years. By comparison, the average life expectancy of a horse that lives in the United States is about 22 years, with heavier breeds seeing an average life expectancy of about 18 years.

How long an individual horse lives depends on the lifestyle of the horse, its genetic profile, and a little bit of luck.

If you’re looking to maximize the quality and length of life for the modern horse, these are the steps that you’re going to want to take.

#1. Have Good Veterinary Care Access

Many horses are treated as pets today instead of as a working animal. That means there is an emotional connection to a horse that makes people pay more attention to shifts in health, especially as the animal ages. In the past, older horses didn’t receive the same level of care as younger horses because that connection didn’t exist on the same level.

There are no health guarantees in life, but having access to good veterinary care can help extend the average life expectancy of every horse breed. From vaccinations to immediate care responses for acute injuries, good vet care is one of the best ways to increase the chances of a horse being able to life a happy and long life. 

#2. Take Care of the Teeth

Dental health issues can immediately and dramatically impact the health of any horse. If the horse cannot properly chew food, then the risks of colic increase. In older horses, colic is the most common health problem that is addressed. Bad teeth create numerous problems that are entirely preventable.

What many owners do not realize is that when a horse reaches a senior age, they may have worn nearly 3 inches off their teeth. Those teeth can develop sharp points as they wear down, crack, or break as well. The teeth can also shift, often seen in the molars, and that misaligns the bite of an older horse.

When chewing becomes painful or difficult, the horse will stop eating. The horse may also stop chewing properly and that can lead to choking issues.

#3. Stop the Parasites

Controlling parasites is critical to long-term good health in horses. Parasitic damage is often cumulative due to the scar tissues that they generate. As a horse reaches a senior age, the internal scar tissues can reduce the gastrointestinal tract and make colic more likely. Once that scar tissue forms, it cannot be reverse.

One of the easiest ways to maximize the expected lifespan of a horse is to have them dewormed regularly, even if no symptoms are present. Get egg counts done at least twice per year. And, as the horse ages, start talking with a veterinarian about parasite loads that could tax the health of the horse, even if no symptoms are being displayed.

#4. Follow a Good Nutritional Plan

Good dietary habits for a horse will create a strong foundation for future health. Make sure that every horse receives the vitamins, minerals, and calories they need every day.

It is important to remember that the nutritional needs of a horse will change over time. Older horses may not require as many calories, so they may begin to put on weight even though their feed remains the same. Younger horses tend to need more protein and supplemental nutrients and horses that are ridden recreationally need more calories than horses that are simply turned out.

Older horses struggle to break down fibrous foods, so offering beet pulp and other roughage that may be easier to digest may be necessary to maximize the lifespan of the horse.

#5. Exercise is a Good Thing

Horses get bored in their stalls. Even if toys are available, an inactive horse is a restless horse. These animals were built to be outside, enjoying the outdoors. If you can turn out the horse for extended periods, then it will decrease the risks of a premature death.

As horses age, some handlers fear that the outdoors may be too taxing on the animal, but the opposite is usually true. Some horses thrive when they’re allowed to be outside all day, every day.

If being turned out frequently is problematic or the horse likes to find trouble, consider a daily exercise program to maintain activity levels. That will allow the hindquarters to stay strong. Use a lead to encourage moving if the horse prefers being stationary at least 1-2 times per day to maintain strength.

Added exercise for older horses can also reduce the risks of dangerous colic.

#6. Be Vigilant

As a horse ages, they will take longer to recover from an illness. Their movements will become slower and more methodical. They may be more prone to parasites or injuries. That is why vigilance on the part of an owner or handler can create your own luck when it comes to life longevity.

Meeting the basic needs of a senior horse must go beyond food, water, and a little exercise. There must also be a social element given to the horse, whether that is through herd contact or human contact. Leaving a senior horse to be on their own creates an isolation that can be difficult to bounce back from over time.

Vigilance also means checking on the health of a senior horse every day and reporting any unusual changes to the vet as soon as possible.

Maximizing the Lifespan of a Horse

With good senior horse care, it is not unusual for horses to exceed the average lifespan figures that are noted here. There are two horses in documented history that have lived beyond the age of 60. Several more have reached their 50s, while the population of horses in their 30s and 40s has grown exponentially over the past few generations.

Horses may be treated like pets and that can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing if the horse is being spoiled. Instead of spoiling a horse with treats, spoil them with good care. Spoil them with exercise. Spoil them with time. In doing so, you’ll be giving your horse a chance at the longest, happiest life possible. 

What to Wear to a Horse Race

In the past, fashion at a horse race required a specific dress code be followed. Think of it as dressing in your “Sunday Best,” but only better. Top of your best outfit with a beautiful hat, or perhaps a bowler for the gentlemen, and you were ready to have a fun day at the races.

It didn’t matter what season the race happened to be. You still “dressed to the nines” whenever you went to a racing event.

Over the past few years, however, choosing what to wear to a horse race has become a less formal experience. The rules of fashion are no longer as important as they used to be. Instead of wearing black slacks, for example, gentlemen can get away with wearing black denim jeans. For the ladies, a knee-length sundress works just as well as the classic little black dress – and shorter skirts are often looked at as inviting fashion at a modern race as well.

There are still some general rules that you’ll want to follow if you’re debating what should be worn to the next horse race you intend to attend.

Rule #1: Decorum

There is still an attitude of modesty that is expected when attending a horse race. For women, that means avoiding clothing options that are strapless or would leave little to the imagination of others. It is recommended to avoid tight clothing because of the need to move about while at the race, but to avoid clothing items that are too loose as well to avoid getting caught on something.

For gentleman, think business formal, but with a casual twist. Coat and tie are acceptable. Some blazers can pass muster if paired with a colorful dress shirt that is top-buttoned. Some events may overlook casual pants or khakis, but a good rule of thumb is to look for a comfortable pair of slacks that come to the top of the shoe.

Rule #2: Headpieces

The rules for what headpieces to wear depend on the actual venue where the race is being held. If you were to attend the Royal Ascot in Australia, for example, you would be required to wear a headpiece that was a minimum of 10 centimeters in width. At the Kentucky Derby, there are few hat requirements and they can be decorated with a number of different items to express personal creativity.

For the guys, a fedora is an alternative option if a top hat or bowler is not preferred. Most hats for gentlemen are solid in color, though some ribbon, striping, and other minor decorative items can sometimes be found. 

Rule #3: Shoes

Dressing rules for shoes are dependent on the location of the horse race as well. Spring heels or sandals are often recommended for women, while the standard polished dress shoe is often recommended for men. Many venues invite patrons to wander the grounds, so a comfortable pair of flats for the ladies is something worth bringing along if the venue would allow it.

Rule #4: Clothing Patterns

There are no set standards for what your clothing actually looks like, but there are some traditional choices that are worth reviewing. For a horse race in the spring, think about options that include pastel colors, florals, and even lace. The weather can be unpredictable in the early months of the year, so consider dressing in layers or bringing an alternative outfit so you can be comfortable during the day.

If you are attending an autumn horse race, then earth tones tend to be the better option. Look for wool options to provide warmth. Sleek dresses with navy blue or black are often popular. Paisley and argyle are potential options to think about incorporating into your race-day fashion as well. 

Outfits that feature mostly white or mostly dark colors are always a good option to consider when attending a horse race.

Rule #5: Jewelry

“Since the hat is the focus of… fashion, there’s not much need for large, statement jewelry. Let your hat be the attention grabber as your primary accessory and keep the jewelry simple.” That is the advice from the Kentucky Derby.

One aspect to your jewelry on race day is to consider options that highlight the venue, the equestrian world, or a specific horse or jockey that you are there to support. If you want the focus to be on your headpiece, then keep simple bracelets and necklaces as your primary jewelry considerations.

Remember that this is an all-day event. Wearing something that feels bulky or heavy may become uncomfortable over time.

Rule #6: Handbags

Many racing events involve a lot of walking. If you visit the stables to see the horses, there may be some challenging environments to navigate. For that reason, it is advisable to pack any needed accessories based on the anticipated conditions that will be at the venue. Large bags are often recommended, but may be restricted for security reasons at certain venues. Choose the largest bag that you are comfortable with carrying.

Having a large bag with you is a great way to bring along a spare pair of shoes. You might want some sunscreen and a bottle of water (or your preferred allowed beverage) and other items that may be useful should the weather change.

Then bring a handbag or a clutch along so you aren’t taking pictures with that large bag or forced to drag that bag along should you wish to make a wager or purchase something on the grounds.

Rule #7: Socks

One of the more unusual fashion rules that you’ll find at various horse racing venues, especially for men, involves socks. If you are wearing horse bit loafers to the event fellows, then it is important to know whether or not you’re supposed to wear them without socks. Even though the shoe is technically a loafer, the structure of the shoe itself is more similar to that of a boat shoe.

For women, most shoes are difficult to wear with socks anyway. Certain flats may be more comfortable with socks and that is usually left to personal discretion.

Sneakers and tennis shoes are usually prohibited at any formal venue. 

Rule #8: Sunglasses

Always bring along your favorite set of sunglasses when attending a horse race. You may find yourself squinting into the sun to track a race otherwise. Remember to apply some sunscreen to your face if you’ll be outdoors for most of the day to avoid coming home with a raccoon-style suntan on your face from the glasses. 

Once you have all the fashion rules or expectations straightened out, you’ll be ready to enjoy a favorite cocktail or two and relax with your favorite people. Why? Because there’s one rule of what to wear to a horse race that comes above any other. It’s not really what you decide to wear, but how you wear it, that matters the most. 

What is Colic in Horses

Colic is one of the most common disorders that horses experience. Most horses will experience at least one episode of colic over the course of their life.

It is a disorder of the digestive system. The term is a reference to the abdominal pain that occurs when colic is present. When a horse is suffering from colic, behaviors such as rolling, pawing, and lethargy can be seen. Some horses may even be unable to defecate until the issue with their colic is resolved.

What makes colic such a tricky diagnosis in horses is the fact that there are several different types of it that are possible. Colic can also strike in varying levels of severity and horses can respond differently to the abdominal pain that is being caused.

It is a condition that should never be taken lightly. Severe instances of colic can put the life of the horse at risk. All colic episodes should be treated as a health emergency in horses and a veterinarian should be consulted immediately.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Spasmodic Colic?

Spasmodic colic is often the most painful type of colic in horses. When present, it creates contractions within the bowels that can be very powerful. It is very similar to an attack of bloating and gas in humans, but on a much larger scale. You will often hear audible sounds coming from the gastrointestinal tract of a horse that is suffering from this form of colic.

Horses suffering from spasmodic colic will often be quite sweaty, especially along the neck. These symptoms are usually present in some form as well.

  • The horse will shake, kick, roll around on the ground, or paw at the ground.
  • There will be an unusual level of anxiousness with the horse, as well as restlessness.
  • Loud, rushing sounds can be heard frequently from the gut.

The personality of the horse is a known risk factor for spasmodic colic. Horses that are laid-back and calm tend to have fewer instances of this colic type when compared to high-strung, nervous horses. 

Preventing spasmodic colic requires managing the daily routine of the horse. Changes to the grass, grains, or hay that the horse eats can cause this intestinal issue. Horses that become frightened easily need a calm space to reduce their anxiousness. Avoid giving a horse cold water after they’ve had a hard workout or a long day of being turned out.

When horses are kept calm and new foods are introduced gradually, spasmodic colic can often be prevented.

This form of colic usually resolves on its own within an hour or two. If it safe for the horse to walk, movement can help to expel the trapped gas.  Certain analgesics can be prescribed for horses that continue to suffer from this condition.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Impaction Colic?

Impaction colic is caused by a blockage that forms somewhere in the gastrointestinal tract of the horse. These can be caused by a feed material obstruction or a foreign object. Most impactions occur in the large colon, but any impaction within the GI tract will cause the signs and symptoms of colic.

Horses suffering from impaction colic will usually have no fecal production. They will exhibit symptoms of chronic pain within their abdomen. You will also see a darkening of the horse’s mucus membranes. These additional symptoms are usually present in some form too.

  • A reduction in body temperature that correlates with the length of time the impaction has occurred. Longer impactions create lower body temperatures.
  • There will be a reluctance to eat any new food or graze in the pasture.
  • Many horses suffering from this form of colic will experience a desire to lay down for extended periods.

Managing the feeding routine of the horse is one of the best ways to prevent impaction colic from forming. Horses will naturally eat for up to 16 hours over the course of a day if left to their own devices. They prefer to eat fibrous plants and then chew on them slowly. Many owners and handlers tend to provide horses with two large meals, featuring grain products, and that impacts the function of the GI tract.

Good dental care can also lower the risk of an impaction. 

Heavy grain feedings without water can create an impaction in very little time. A horse requires up to 4 pints of water for every pound of feed grain that is consumed. 

Treatment for an impaction usually involves a combination of laxatives, painkillers, and water. Liquid paraffin is sometimes used to soften the bowel movement. Then the horse should be walked to stimulate the GI tract. Once a bowel movement is achieved, laxative feeds are usually given for several days.

In severe cases, surgery is the only option to eliminate the impaction. Most colic surgeries involve an impaction that occurs within the small intestine.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Parasitic Colic?

Parasitic colic occurs when a heavy burden of parasites forms within the gastrointestinal tract of the horse and prevents normal digestion. Tapeworms, red worms, and ascarid worms are all known to cause this condition. They can be located at the junction of the small and large intestines, along the intestinal lining, or even with the arteries of the intestines.

Horses suffering from this form of colic will often exhibit the same severity of symptoms found with impaction colic, but still be able to pass a bowel movement. Owners or handlers may see adult parasites in the feces of the horse.

Determining if the colic is caused by parasites is done through the use of a fecal egg worm count, a tapeworm antibody blood test, or both. Some parasites, however, can remain undetected, especially if their location is within the gut wall.

The treatment options for parasitic colic depend on the type of parasite, the severity of the colic, and the overall health of the horse. Pasture management and monitoring is often required as part of the treatment plan. Certain anti-parasitic medications may be prescribed to encourage their passage.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Inflammatory Colic?

Sometimes, the small intestine of the horse can become so inflamed that it swells shut. When this occurs, the symptoms of inflammation will mimic the symptoms of an impaction. The inflammation can be caused by a gut injury, an allergic reaction, or by a bacterial infection. It usually occurs at the duodenum and proximal jejunum.

Depending on the severity of the swelling, a horse suffering from inflammatory colic may experience a build-up of digested foods in the front section of the gut.

If this condition is suspected, the only known method of making a definitive diagnosis is to perform an exploratory surgery. During the surgery, the intestines will be decompressed. The veterinarian will provide anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics as needed.
This form of colic is seen most often in North America. Although it can be dangerous during an acute attack, it can be managed medically in most horses so a happy, long life can be experienced.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Entrapment Colic?

Horses have fatty tissues within their gastrointestinal tract. Sometimes these tissues have lengthy stalks to them and those stalks can wrap around the intestine. During a spasmodic episode, it is even possible for the intestines to become wrapped around themselves, which creates an obstruction.

In many instances, once the intestines become wrapped and compressed, the blood supply to them becomes cut off. That causes the intestinal tissues to begin dying, which eventually leads to the death of the horse if the condition is not treated quickly.

This form of colic typically affects the small intestine or small colon. Endotoxic shock occurs if the affected intestine or colon is not removed.

The only treatment option for entrapment colic is surgery. The veterinarian must identify the affected intestine or colon and the fatty tissues or other cause of entrapment. As part of the surgery, all dead tissues from the affected intestine must be removed. The vet will then attach the healthy components of the intestine back together.

Recovery from this type of colic depends on the length of time blood was kept away from the intestine. The health of the horse at the time of surgery will influence recovery times as well. Even the type of surgery that is required can affect the outcome. For healthy horses, the prognosis is often good, but if the entrapment was present for a prolonged period, the prognosis can also be quite poor.

By recognizing the signs and symptoms of colic in a horse, the treatment they need can be administered quickly. Fast recognition of colic can save a horse’s life, especially if the intestines have been entrapped or there is an impaction that has formed. Whenever colic is suspected in horses, the first phone call should be to the horse’s veterinarian. Then do everything you can to make the horse comfortable until a treatment plan can be developed.

What is Thrush in Horses

When thrush is found in humans, it is a yeast-shaped fungus that causes growth in the throat and mouth. It can be caused by a number of factors, from illness to smoking to wearing dentures.

When thrush is found in horses, it is an infection that affects the frog of the horse. The frog is the support portion of the hoof that provides traction and balance. It is a condition that horses and humans share in name, but not in location or for the same reasons. That is why it is important to distinguish one from the other. 

The infection is usually caused by the presence of frequent or prolonged exposure to wet, damp, and dirty stable conditions. Horses turned out into damp, dirty conditions can also develop thrush. There are also some instances when thrush is able to form when none of these common conditions are present.

What is problematic about thrush in horses is that most cases of it are discovered by a farrier or a veterinarian and not the owner or handler of the horse. 

What Is the Cause of Thrush in Horses?

Thrush can be a bacterial or a fungal infection in horses, though bacterial infections are the most common. One bacterium, called fusobacterium necrophorum, is very aggressive when it causes an infection and it can quickly destroy the frog and the deeper tissues of the hoof and foot.

Severe cases of thrush have caused swelling in the upper leg and infections of the hoof wall, heel bulb, and digital cushion. 

Horses that have an imbalanced food or have a frog that is deep and narrow have higher risks for a thrush infection, but any horse can develop thrush if the environmental and health conditions are just right.

Back feet tend to be more affected than the front feet in many horses. One or more feet can become infected with thrust at the same time.

If left unrecognized or untreated, thrush becomes a degenerative condition.

Poor bedding is the most common cause of thrush in horses. Being stabled on sodden and soiled bedding for a prolonged period is an almost guarantee that thrust will eventually develop.

Poor foot care is another common reason for thrush to develop. If a horse’s feet are not regularly picked out and cleaned, then the bacteria can make its way into the frog and start an infection. Trimming and shoeing activities that are incorrect or done with poor skill can also encourage the development of thrush in some horses.

Although bad stable management is usually blamed for thrush, some horses tend to be more susceptible to it than others. Some cases of thrush are thought to be caused by too much aggressiveness with a hoof pick as well. 

How Can Thrush Be Diagnosed in Horses?

One of the issues that owners and handlers face when dealing with thrush is that a horse affected by this condition will often show no signs of discomfort. Even if there is discharge present, the horse will normally experience no lameness or discomfort. 

When thrush is present in the frog, the infection creates a very foul odor that is quite recognizable. A black discharge that also smells foul will come from the sulcus of the affected frog. Horses that are dealing with thrust will also show discomfort when direct compression is applied to the affected area.

There are other indicators which can indicate thrush is present, even if the discharge has not yet formed. The central sulcus on inactive horses or those experiencing health issues can be deeper than normal, which limits air access to that region. If there is debris found in this area, there is a good chance that bacteria will also be in that area and the tissues are beginning to degrade.

Severe cases of thrush are sometimes confused with another infection that is called “Canker.” This type of infection is more severe than thrush and can cause bleeding with simple pressure to the affected area. Tissues that are affected by canker look like a cauliflower that has rotted and will have a sponge-like texture to them. 

How Is Thrush Treated in Horses?

To treat thrush in horses, the underlying cause of the infection must be removed. Environmental conditions that could encourage the infection to survive must also be properly managed. For most horses, the first steps in treating thrush involve being moved to a stable or environment that is dry and clean. Their feet should be cleaned every day.

In some instances, a farrier or veterinarian may also need to directly treat the foot if there is tissue damage present. Any tissues that are dead or damaged must be cut away so that the healthy tissues can be reached. This cutaway process may need to be repeated for some horses, depending upon the severity of their condition.

Once the dead and damaged tissue has been removed, a topical treatment is usually applied to the area experiencing the infection. It is usually a caustic combination that involves iodine, formalin, or even chlorine bleach. A farrier will likely need to trim the affected hooves so that new frog growth is promoted. 

After the frog and the rest of the affected hoof has been cleaned, an antibiotic solution is usually applied to the area. Bandaging may be necessary to promote the healing process if the amount of trimming required to reach healthy tissues was extensive.

Dry and clean bedding is mandatory. It may need to be changed daily.

Should the thrush infection spread to other parts of the horse’s body, prescription antibiotics may be required to restore health.

Picking out the hooves carefully will encourage healing as well. The bacteria which cause thrush are killed when exposed to oxygen. By using the hoof pick properly, the hoof will experience better air flow levels and that will reduce the chances that the bacteria have to thrive.

Why Does Thrush Return So Often in Horses?

A horse may be responding very well to its thrush treatment, but after a few days, the problem comes back with an even greater ferocity. Why do some horses experience a return of the infection immediately after it has been treated?

It depends on the condition of the hoof itself. Many horses have crevices in their hooves that an antibiotic paste or caustic solution will not reach. Even though a majority of the infection is treated and removed, the bacteria is allowed to linger and will take over once the treatment efforts are stopped.

Cracking in the keratin of the horse hoof is also quite common. These cracks may be very fine and not even allow the caustic solution to flow through them, but they’ll still be large enough for the bacteria to find a home.

At the same time, packing the hoof with antibiotic products isn’t usually an option because the extra pressure on the frog can be painful to the horse. Too much pressure on the frog for an extended period can even kill the frog tissues and prolong the course of treatment.

If you are administering the treatment course for your horse, be sure to use a swab that can reach all areas of the hoof. Applying a cotton swab to the end of a hoof pick can be an effective option. Then soak the swab in the treatment solution and wash the sides of the frog down first, just like you’re going to pick out the hoof. That will let the solution get into the cracks and prevent the bacteria from finding a place to wait out your treatment efforts. 

Is It Possible to Prevent Thrush in Horses?

In most cases, thrush is an entirely preventable condition. Horses that are kept in dry and clean conditions, receive regular foot care, and see a farrier regularly have a much lower risk of developing thrush compared to other horses. Although some horses have hooves that increase their risk of developing thrush, good stable habits can dramatically lower the risks for a horse.

It is important to remember that if the frog is compromised, it becomes an entry point for other dangerous bacteria. The bacteria that causes tetanus is known to use an infected frog to afflict horses. If thrush is present, speak with your veterinarian about taking precautions against tetanus.

For most horses, a case of thrush is usually fairly easy to treat. Keep the stable clean, keep the foot clean, and pick out the hoof each day. Despite your best efforts, even with a perfectly clean stable, some horses are just prone to this condition and will require ongoing treatment. 

If the infection is not responding to your treatments or you have specific questions about the health of a horse, always consult with a veterinarian as your first course of action. Rapid recognition can lead to a rapid response and that will help to decrease the discomfort a horse experiences from this condition.