Category Archives: Fly Control

Trail Ride ~ Pack An Emergency Kit

Trail Ride With An Emergency Kit

Emergency Kit Contents

 When you take your horse out on trails, chances are you expect to have a fun, safe, relaxing time. And most of the time, that expectation is fulfilled. Yet as soon as you leave the relative safety of an arena and its controlled environment, you’re in potential-mishap territory (true, whether you’re half a mile or half a day’s ride from home). That’s why it can really pay to be prepared, with “just in case” items stashed in a small grab-and-go emergency bag and carried on your saddle for every trail ride.

Here, to get you started, I’ll share typical contents of the soft-sided emergency bag (it’s red for a reason!) that’s as much a part of my standard trail-riding gear as my horse’s bridle and saddle. While not as extensive as the emergency gear that might be toted by a search-and-rescue deputy, this stash of items will get you and your horse (or that of a friend) through most minor trail traumas. You can add other items as you like, and as your climate and terrain might call for.

Emergency Kit Contents

 #1:  Duct tape. Multiple uses, from protecting a hoof that’s lost its shoe to emergency tack repairs.

#2:   Elastic and cling-type wraps. Joint support, bandaging.

#3:  Reflective “space blanket.” Preserves body heat, makes a ground cover.

#4:  LED flashlight. Multiple uses (especially if you get caught out after dark).

#5:  Filled water bottle. Many uses, from hydration or cooling to flushing a wound.

#6:  Stethoscope. For monitoring vital signs, gut sounds.

#7:  Coach’s whistle. Makes piercing blasts to call for help.

#8:  Latex gloves. Hand coverage for wound treatment.

#9:  Banamine paste.   Help for colic symptoms.

#10.   Personal first-aid pouch. Holds gauze pads, stick-on bandages, aspirin, bee-sting pen, safety pins, etc.

#11.   Contact-lens solution. Flushes eye or wound debris.

#12.   Bandage scissors.   Trims bandaging materials.

#13.   Multi-tool. Multiple uses.

#14:   Hand sanitizer. Helps prevent infection when treating wounds.

#15:   First-aid cream. Antibiotic and antiseptic properties.

 Extra Tips

 ….For their comfort, balance weight carried on one side of your horse with an equally weighted load on the other side.

…. Use the multiple pockets of a fishing or hunting vest as an alternative way to carry emergency items.

….For taking pulse/respiration rates, wear a watch that counts seconds (for rate per minute, monitor vital sign for 15 seconds, multiply by four).

…This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Horse & Rider.

10 Great Tips for Safe Trail Riding This Summer

10 Trail Riding -Safety Tips

By:  Beverly Gun-Munro


#1.  Condition your horse.   Know the condition of your horse.  Like us, Horse’s need to get ‘into good athletic condition’.  Start out with short rides working up to longer trail rides.  And don’t forget to cool your horse’s down after.  Hose the lower legs to keep blood flowing through the hoof’s.

#2.  Ride with a Guide.   If you aren’t familiar with the trails you’re heading out to….. go with someone who knows the trail conditions, water crossings, and potential hazards.

#3.  Be a Leader.   If your horse resists crossing an obstacle, they may not be looking at you as their leader.   Remember, horses are prey, pack animals, and fear for their life.  If they question your authority ~ notice, and take action.  Gently take the time to show them they are safe and trust you.   The more control you have and the more times you safely cross obstacles ~ the more they’ll trust you as their leader.

#4.  Be patient.    Let your horse investigate obstacles and water crossings.    It is important to them to protect themselves.  A completely fearful horse won’t show signs of curiosity.   If they balk, remain patient.    Learn their learning style and teach/show them they are safe.  1″ at a time will get you into ‘feet & yards’ of confidence building.

#5.  Ride hills wisely.   On hills, stay out of your horse’s way, and make sure your gear is safely adjusted.   Going uphill, lean forward.   A good-quality breast collar will help secure your saddle.    Going downhill, sit back over your horse’s center of gravity.   Look ahead where you want to go;  trust that your horse knows where his feet are.

#6.  Practice Group Etiquette. Be sure that everyone is comfortable with the leader’s chosen gait.   Let other riders know ahead of time when there will be a change of gait and give them time to stay up with you.   Don’t go riding off at a gallop when other riders with you aren’t able to comfortably stay with the pack.

  #7.  Show respect.   On private property, ask permission before you ride.    On public property, stick to marked trails for safely.   Staying on marked trails and showing respect for the environment.   Also help keep the trails open to equestrian use.

#8.  Prepare for trail obstacles.   Prepare at home and on the trail to cross obstacles, such as logs, standing water, and streams.   Note that on the trail, your horse may have a big reaction to crossing an obstacle or to a bounding deer.   Know how to prevent and handle difficult situations before your ride.

#9.  Keep your distance. When you ride with groups, keep the proper distance between your horse and the one ahead of you.  This will give you time to prepare to stop and room to maneuver in case the horse ahead of you is having trouble.

#10. Watch branches.    When riding through wooded trails, make sure branches don’t snap back on the person riding behind you.   Be courteous, and warn fellow riders to keep their distance.


Buck Brannaman “Horse Herd Behavior & Yielding Softly”

“Horse Herd Behavior and Yielding Softly

by Buck Brannaman

“Being a horse vet is a very dangerous job,” Buck Brannaman said, a truth the famed horse trainer confirmed with a show of hands of veterinarians who had sustained career-related injuries—and those were just the ones without chronic shoulder or arm injuries. But helping horse-owning clients understand horses’ herd behavior and mentality, and encouraging them to handle their animals accordingly, can improve this picture, better equipping horse, owner, and to vet handle any problem that might arise.

Brannaman addressed a standing-room-only audience as the keynote speaker at the 2013 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Nashville, Tenn., where he sought to motivate and inspire the several-thousand veterinarians in attendance.

He began by emphasizing that horse owners tend to select their veterinarians by how well they get along with the horses, but they often seem to forget that even in the best of circumstances, a horse that is unprepared for the unexpected can be difficult for anyone to work with, no matter how professional or skilled the individual might be. He stressed, “Horse owners must prepare their horses for the unthinkable.” It is not enough for a horse to cooperate when everything is going right; he must also be cooperative enough to facilitate a thorough veterinary exam and to accept procedures that may induce some degree of discomfort or restraint.

Brannaman offered horse behavior insights based on his own experience:

“As much as we like to anthropomorphize, horses process things in one way—

they do it the way things work in a herd. In other words, they behave the way they see

other horses behave.” Brannaman said that if a horse could vocalize his thoughts,

the animal might consider aloud, “Do I move his feet, or do I move mine?”

Watching the horses’ feet and movement are keys to understanding their behavior.

For example, he noted that we’ve all seen horses milling around in a herd, something he says horses use to test which horse will be the first to move. A dominant horse might push another to move first either by body postures or by more aggressive and ferocious attacks. When the less dominant horse escapes, he feels relief and the dominant horse quits putting on the pressure. Once the herd hierarchy has been sorted out, the dominant horse may only need to lean towards other horses to achieve the desired response. This concept can be a powerful tool for people to use in horse training.

“Preparation,” Brannaman insists, “starts with halter breaking.” The handler should begin this process by establishing a “bubble” around himself that the horse will respect when he’s asked to move forward.

Echoing the sentiments of his mentor, Ray Hunt, he said, “You need to go through the feet to get to the head.” He kept referring to “moving the horse with a feel,” using gentle pressure to keep the horses’ feet within an imaginary rectangle. , which contains lots of “exit doors.” So, when a horse has to cope with anything, such as a veterinarian, farrier, crowd, or flapping scary things, the human “operating all four quarters of the horse” must shut all these exit doors. “The horse must go forward and be soft, and the hindquarters and forequarters must be able to move right or left with the horse in a good frame of mind,” he added. “When all the pressure is gone,” he says, “the horse finds a peaceful place.”

Another important issue Buck described is the tendency for horse owners to pressure veterinarians to find something physically “wrong” with a horse when, in fact, the problem they are experiencing is typically a behavioral problem. Brannaman said he is brutally honest in his clinics, admitting , “I don’t make people cry, but I’ll help ‘em to,” While that sparked a laugh, he recognizes that the truth is sometimes hard to swallow, and it’s important for horse owners to open their minds to another perspective on their horses’ undesirable behavior.

Also important to understanding the roots to a behavior issue, Brannaman’s quipped, “You need to know what happened before what happened happened.”

Summing it up, Brannaman said owners need to train their horses to yield softly to their humans and not to yield out of fear. Establishing this foundation of a working relationship means the horse is prepared to be more receptive and responsive to care and direction during to any crisis, veterinary or otherwise.

Agility for Horses

Equine Agility

Oh my gosh, horse’s and their owners now doing “Agility”, like we’ve seen dogs and their owners weave through fun courses against the clock.  What a fun new sport for horses and their owners to participate together in!

Just today I found the article below by Carole Herder.   [Now all I need is a horse to do it with!  I’m in the Malibu, California area ~ if you have a horse hanging around bored and in need of some stimulation.  I’m ‘chomping at the bit’, pun intended to get involved.   I used to compete internationally with my dogs in Obedience, Agility & FlyBall & won top honors many times over the years.    There is a whole website and international club ~ where you can video and submit your results for judging and placement ~ how cool is this?  So if you think you have a  ’one trick pony’ ~ invest in the training videos they offer, get out there and give it a go ~ bet your horse[s] will surprise you that they have more than one trick up their hooves [I crack myself up!].   Let me know your results, and how I can help you get started.

Hurry up…There are clubs all over the world, from the USA and Canada, to Ireland, Britain and France, to South Africa and New Zealand.



Here is something different for those of you looking for another way to spend time with your horse: equine agility. It’s like dog agility but for horses!

Horse and handler learn to navigate obstacles on the ground in a safe and timely manner. This non-mounted sport is on the increase and the perfect way to hang out with your horse, have fun and stay on the ground! It’s also ideal for barefoot horses or for those under transition but you still need to do some work with them (of course our hoof boots can keep you on the trail if you prefer to be out and about !). Or do you have a pony that no-one can ride anymore? Or even a donkey!

Here is something you can still do together. Horse agility is fast becoming an international competitive sport. You can even participate online so you don’t need to travel to an event! And of course you can just do it for fun in your own paddock, with no pressure of judging and penalties if you wish.

It is an excellent activity to increase your horse’s confidence, prepare them for obstacles in the show ring or on the trail, work on your communication together and of course improve your relationship with your horse.

The attraction of this sport is of course that you don’t need to ride and it is open to any breed of any background. There are clubs all over the world, from the USA and Canada, to Ireland, Britain and France, to South Africa and New Zealand.

Check out and for more information.

Keeping Your Horse Fit Is Important

Your Horse’s Fitness: Why And How It’s So Important

By John Strassburger

Edited by Bev Gun-Munro

Whether you’re a devoted competitor or enthusiastic trail rider, a fit horse will stay sound longer and be better able to do their job, and please you.

Your “in-the-ring” fitness work should include a variety of movements, such as leg-yields, circles and serpentines.

Fitness, in terms of the soft tissues in the legs (tendons and ligaments) and muscular strength and tone, is an aspect of training that’s often poorly understood or overlooked by many riders and even trainers.

Just like humans, horses aren’t born naturally fit for an athletic endeavor. Yes, certain breeds are better built for certain sports, but developing their fitness must be an intrinsic part of any training regimen. It’s actually more important today than ever before, as the majority of American horses don’t have the space to live an active life on their own.

To do most of our sports, the horse’s fitness needs to more akin to gymnasts, weightlifters or pole-vaulters than to marathon runners or soccer players. They need strong, supple muscles and tendons and ligaments more than they need extraordinary cardiovascular capacity. So this article is about building the overall strength of the average competitive horse, not about preparing a horse for a three-day event or endurance ride. It’s about taking him to the gym or yoga—regularly—not working out on the track.

Train, Don’t Strain. Human sports coaches or personal trainers know that the key to making progress while avoiding injuries is to make sure their charges are “training, not straining.”

“Straining” is spending five days a week sitting at your desk and on Saturday playing an hour or two of tennis or 18 holes of golf, then spending Sunday wondering why your knees and shoulders are so sore. “Training” would be walking for 30 or 40 minutes three or four days a week, plus some weight training or yoga, to get fit to play that game of tennis or golf.

Good coaches plan regular workouts for their athletes, progressively doing more and more work. You don’t run 5 miles in your first workout, not run for a week, and then go for another long run. Again, that’s straining—and it’s just about guaranteed to discourage the person from training, because, even if somehow they aren’t injured, it will certainly be painful.

Your horse needs the same type of progressive work. If you haven’t ridden him for three months and take him for a demanding two-hour trail ride or do a rigorous jump school, he’s likely going to be sore, and he probably won’t be too eager the next time you show up to ride him. He could also be suddenly lame, leaving you to wonder why your horse is “always hurt.”

Here are some examples symptomatic of an unfit horse:

: Your horse looks scrawny or weak, and you’re exhausted after you ride from kicking them every step of the way.

:  They trip over nothing, strike themselves, especially late in a riding session (these could also result from poor hoof trimming or a medical problem)

: They won’t take one canter lead, either on the flat or landing after a jump (this too could be a medical problem)

:  They runs out of gas after 20 minutes of work or two classes at a show

: They seem to lack scope over fences or has no bounce to their stride.

If you make your horse stronger and, thus, more able to do the work you’re asking for, usually he’ll become more willing to do the work (less kicking for you), because it isn’t exhausting. Instead, fitness makes it fun and gives him a sense of accomplishment, which most horses like.

Don’t Be Afraid. So often people are afraid of getting their horses fit. “It’ll make him crazy,” they insist. Our experience is that almost always what they become is more eager and more workmanlike—because you’ve given them the ability to do the job. But some riders become so used to riding a ”lazy bones’  that they become uncomfortable when their horse actually has some spark.

And if they do seem “crazy,” then one or more of four factors has probably happened. First, you’re not giving or allowing them the physical and mental activity they need now that they’re fitter. Second, they could have a physical problem that’s causing pain or discomfort. Third, analyze your horse’s feeding program: Is he eating too much high-calorie food or does he have ulcers? What and how much your horse eats can have many effects, but so can the fourth possibility: Something in your riding is upsetting them. Take a hard look at what you’re doing with your horse, because only you can fix it.

Walk Your Horse Daily & Especially Before & After WorkOuts

Yes, Walk For Fitness. OK, you’ve decided it’s time to get your horse fitter. Remember: It doesn’t happen in a day or a week. It’s a long-term project.

Walking is the basic conditioning gait. It strengthens the tendons and ligaments and develops strength throughout the body. But we’re not talking about an amble; we’re talking about an active, forward, long-striding walk. The walk strengthens the muscles he uses in his hindquarters, back and shoulders to propel himself along.

If your horse has been out of work or only worked occasionally, start with walking around the ring, or around a field, or on trails, for 20 to 30 minutes. Follow this routine for a week or so, riding three to five days a week, then add another five or 10 minutes a day for the next two weeks. After you add whatever ring work you do, continue this walking regimen once or twice a week.

You can continue to increase your horse’s fitness with extended walking periods before and after you work him in the ring or take a lesson. Actively walk for 15 minutes before starting to work and for 10 to 15 minutes afterward—that’s 30 minutes of walking.

For fun and fitness, go for trail ride once or twice a week. You can just walk, or you can trot or canter, especially up hills. Find a field where you can trot for 10 or 15 minutes. Again, be sure to work progressively up to this effort over 30 to 90 days, depending on how often you ride.

If you don’t have any trails or safe field in which to trot or canter, you can use the ring to develop fitness. Trot for 10 minutes and build up to 15 minutes and even 20 minutes. Make sure you are getting a forward, vigorous trot from the horse.

Round & Round an Arena is BORING!

And don’t just go around the merry-go-round; change the rein, change it up with  10 – 15 meter circles, reverse and change leads, do serpentines; stop, back up, relax, practice stops and starts.    After you’ve done a variety regimen for 30-60 days (depending on your horse’s prior fitness), hand gallop for four or five minutes, in the jumping or galloping position.

Our April column was about using specific exercises to efficiently improve your performance, and improving your horse’s fitness is a similar situation. Using those flatwork exercises will also develop muscle strength and suppleness, along with eagerness and willingness. A future article will describe jumping exercises designed to do the same thing.

 A Little Less Can Be More

You may have noticed that we didn’t recommend riding your horse six days a week to develop his fitness. That’s because we believe that if you work your horse effectively and correctly, you don’t need to ride him more than four days a week (for unfit or young horses) or five days a week (for older or higher level horses).

Sometimes less really is more. We believe that—just as with children—their bodies and minds usually can’t take “pounding” day after day. They can’t give you their best effort every day; they need time to physically recover or mentally process the new exercises or challenges you present to them. “Give ’em a break and let ’em think,” we say.

You’d think that endurance riders would work their horses six days a week to get ready to negotiate 100 miles in 24 hours. But they don’t. They work them two or three days in a row (usually with one long ride of 20 miles or so and one or two days of half that distance or less) and then give them two or three consecutive days off to recover.

Yes, there is a caveat to this advice. Some horses don’t respond well temperamentally with more than one consecutive day off, and horses who are never turned out often need to work six days a week to overcome boredom and to get fit. Use the walking exercises we’ve described to encourage their fitness and relaxation.

In conclusion……….

#1:  Developing your horse’s fitness should be a vitally important part of their daily/weekly lifestyle.

#2:  Irregular but demanding exercise is “straining, not training.” ~ Not fair.

#3:  If your horse runs out of gas after 20 minutes of work, lacks scope over fences, or has no bounce to his stride, he probably needs to be more fit.

Remember:   Just like with humans, vigorous walking is the basic conditioning gait.


8 Summer Health Concerns to Consider

8 Summer Health Concerns
By Christine Barakat
Re-Edited by Bev Gun-Munro








Warm weather and sunny days bring some specific changes to your horse’s health.

If our horses could tell us what they think chances are they’d give summer a much less favorable review.
For every reason we love summer, there are at least two reasons why the season is especially hard on our horses………From hooves that crack from stamping in response to flies to a body type that holds heat more efficiently than it disperses it, horses simply aren’t designed for summer weather.

Identifying problems & taking actions to protect your horse is vital; locations of habitat will vary however there are some universal concerns.

Here’s a quick look at some of the conditions that could adversely affect your horse’s well-being during the summer season.

#1. Inability to Sweat [Anhidrosis]

The exact cause is still unknown, but it’s thought to be related to prolonged stimulation of the sweat glands, particularly in very hot, humid conditions. This causes the horse’s thermoregulatory system to essentially shut down. Horses that cannot sweat overheat with even slight exertion in warm weather.
How you’ll recognize it: An anhidrotic horse will remain dry when those around him are sweating. He may also show signs of heat stress because he’s unable to cool himself. You may be able to catch the condition early if you notice your horse is sweating less than he used
to or less than the temperature and situation seem to call for. Consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis.
What you can do: There is no proven cure for anhidrosis, although some owners and veterinarians have had luck with supplements formulated to treat the condition.
The surest way to help an anhidrotic horse is to move him permanently to a cooler climate. Many can function very well and may even resume sweating after a few years. If you can’t move an anhidrotic horse, you’ll need to keep him as cool as possible with stall fans and water during the summer months and forgo any riding.

#2 Bruised Hooves

Description: Like your own skin, a hoof bruises when blunt-force trauma causes blood vessels within to rupture and leak. [Fly Wraps will diminish if not completely eliminate this problem].
In summertime, hoof bruises are most commonly caused by fast work on parched, hardened footing or repeated stamping in response to flies.

How you’ll recognize it

A horse with hoof bruising is likely to be “footsore” and tender, particularly on firm footings. Pay attention if your horse starts taking shorter strides or is reluctant to walk on surfaces he used to traverse without hesitation. Bruises can sometimes be seen on the clean sole of a newly pared hoof. If the hoof capsule cracks and bacteria enter, a bruise can turn into an abscess, and the horse will become dramatically lame as pus accumulates and has nowhere to dissipate inside the rigid hoof wall.







What you can do

Keep it slow on hard ground—only walking and trotting if hoof beats “ring” as you travel across it. If your arena footing is “dead,” consider upgrading it as an investment in your horse’s long-term soundness. To control fly-stamping,
outfit your horse with fly control products that target the legs, such as repellent bands or fly wraps.
Whatever the cause of the bruises, hoof pads or hoof boots may also help protect your horse’s feet. Talk to your farrier about options that might work well for your horse and environment.

#3. Pink Eye [Conjunctivitis]


Conjunctivitis is swelling of the membranes around a horse’s eye, caused by an infection. It occurs when trauma to those tissues opens the way for bacterial invasion. In one common summertime scenario, face flies gather around a horse’s eye, attracted to the moisture. To rid himself of the irritation, the horse rubs their eye on their knee. The insects leave, but any bacteria they were carrying are rubbed into the sensitive eyelid membranes. Windblown dust can also cause irritation and rubbing, leading to conjunctivitis. Unlike pinkeye in people and cattle, conjunctivitis in horses is not contagious.

How you’ll recognize it

A horse with conjunctivitis has swollen eyelids, perhaps with angry-looking pink membranes protruding through the lids. The eye may also be weepy and runny. If you pry open the lids, you’ll see a normal, clear globe below. This is important to help distinguish conjunctivitis from other, much more serious ocular conditions such as uveitis0 or fungal infections. Likewise, a horse with conjunctivitis won’t be sensitive to light, whereas a horse with a more serious eye condition likely will be.
What you can do
The best prevention for conjunctivitis is a well-fitted fly mask worn continually. Not only will this keep insects away, but it will also cut down on the dust that blows into your horse’s eyes. Also work to reduce the fly population on your farm with sensible manure-management practices and perhaps the use of parasitic wasps that can kill fly larvae before they hatch. If your horse does develop conjunctivitis, the treatment is topical antibiotic eye ointment, which your veterinarian can prescribe. A farm call may also be in order to verify it is simply pinkeye and not something much more serious. Its money well spent to protect their vision.

#4. Dehydration

From a purely physiological standpoint, dehydration is a deficiency of fluid within an organism. But it’s much more than your horse just being thirsty. Dehydration can cause serious health problems, such as impaction colic, and become a complication of other conditions. Dehydration can occur any time of year, but it is common in summer when fluid loss from sweating outpaces a horse’s intake through drinking.

How you’ll recognize it
A dehydrated horse will be lethargic, with dry, sticky mucous membranes and “sunken” looking eyes. You’ll want to notice dehydration long before it reaches this point, however; the best way is to use a skin-pinch test: Grab a fold of skin on the point of the shoulder (not the neck as you may have been taught years ago) and pull it away from your horse. Let the skin go and count the seconds until it is flat again. In an adequately hydrated horse, it will snap back in one or two seconds. Any longer indicates dehydration, and a delay of six to 10 seconds warrants a call to your veterinarian.

What you can do
Make sure your horse has fresh water available at all times. And don’t believe the myth that drinking after work causes tying0 up or colic—it doesn’t. If you add electrolytes0 to your horse’s water, offer a second bucket of plain water so he has the option to drink that as well.
If you worry your horse still isn’t drinking enough, encourage him by flavoring their water with a splash of apple juice, or offer him watermelon slices—a trick used by endurance riders to increase intake. If your horse resists all your efforts to entice him to drink, call your veterinarian.

# 5. Equine insect hyper-sensitivity (sweet itch)

This is an allergic reaction to the saliva of tiny biting midges (Culicoides spp.). The reaction can occur anywhere on a horse’s body but most commonly appears on the belly, root of the mane, base of the tail and face. The horse develops intense itchiness in those areas, which can cause him to rub them so much he damages the skin. Certain breeds seem to be more genetically susceptible, including Welsh Ponies, Icelandic Horses and Shires.
How you’ll recognize it
A horse with sweet itch develops crusty, inflamed, hairless patches of skin on the affected areas. He’ll also be obsessively scratching those spots, rubbing them on fences, tree trunks, the ground and anything else he can.

What you can do
First, shield him as much as you can from insects. A variety of fly-proof garments, some of which wrap around the entire belly and tail head, can go a long way toward protecting your horse. Fly sprays also help, but make sure they are repellents and not simply insecticides, which may kill only after flies have bitten and done their damage. Finally, you can adjust the turnout schedule to keep your horse indoors at dawn and dusk, when the midges are most actively feeding. If he can spend those hours in a stall with screened windows and doors, even better.
If management changes alone don’t seem to be helping your horse, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss other options. Medications such as corticosteroid shampoos and injections can help stop the inflammatory reaction.

#6. Heat stress/exhaustion

Horses evolved in cooler climes, so they are built to hold heat to stay warm. While this serves a horse well in the winter, during the summer months it can cause their internal body temperature to rise quickly, especially when he exerts himself. When their temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit, their metabolic system cannot function properly. At 105 degrees their organs shut down and circulatory collapse that can ultimately lead to death sets in.

How you’ll recognize it

A heat-stressed horse will sweat profusely across their shoulders, neck, rump and lower legs; moisture will drip off their belly. In extreme cases, he may stop perspiring because their system is so stressed. He may also “pant” in an effort to dissipate heat as a dog would, or he may breathe very deeply and fast. He may have a “dull” demeanor as if he’s preoccupied, or he may be in a frantic state and nearly panicky.

What you can do

Stop working your horse immediately. Douse him with cold water and scrape it off to facilitate cooling evaporation. There is no harm in putting cold water on hot muscles. In extreme cases, apply ice packs to their face and throat—places where blood is close to the surface and can be cooled. Keep him in the shade and offer him water. If the horse doesn’t recover within a few minutes or goes down, call your veterinarian.

#7. Photo-sensitization


Although it’s commonly confused with sunburn or scratches0, photo-sensitization is potentially much more serious. Primary photosensitization occurs when a horse eats a plant that contains a photodynamic compound that reacts to ultraviolet (UV) rays. When these compounds circulate in the blood system near the surface of unpigmented skin, the resulting chemical reaction damages tissues. In secondary photosensitization, a horse’s damaged liver cannot break down normal levels of photodynamic compounds, leading to the same reaction.

How you’ll recognize it

Photosensitization causes very painful blistering of the skin, followed by the formation of tight, crusty scabs. These will appear on pink skin under white markings and will slough off over time.

What you can do
Start by protecting your horse from sunlight. If their entire body is affected, have him spend their days in a darkened stall, shed or even an indoor arena. If the blistering is limited to their limbs, you can use standing wraps to shield them. If their face or muzzles are affected, use a UV-blocking fly mask with a nose flap.
Do not pick at the scabs, because their will be extremely painful for the horse and is unnecessary for healing. Let them slough off naturally. If the scabbing is extensive or your horse seems otherwise ill, call your veterinarian, who may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or steroids for the pain.
Once your horse is tended to, spend some time determining why the reaction is occurring, if possible; check their pasture for plants that cause photosensitivity, such as alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum), buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) or St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum). Also, ask your veterinarian to check your horse’s liver function.

#8. Sunburn


Just as in fair-skinned people, sunburn in horses is the burning of the skin due to overexposure to UV radiation. Dark skin is protected by the pigment melanin, and your horse’s hair coat offers some protection as well, but pink skin with little or no hair covering—like on the muzzle—is more susceptible.

How you’ll recognize it

Sunburnt skin in horses is red, tender and swollen. In extreme cases, the skin may crack, bleed or ooze a bit of fluid. Extensive, tight and painful scabbing of the skin is more likely to be caused by photosensitization, which is a different pathological process and requires different treatment measures.

What you can do
Shield vulnerable areas of skin from sunlight. You can do this with sun-blocking gear—many fly masks incorporate nose flaps to cover pink muzzles—or with a thick coating of zinc oxide ointment. If your horse has sunburn, treat it tenderly with a thick emollient cream. If the sunburn doesn’t improve significantly within a few days, call your veterinarian.

7 Great Tips for Trailering Your Horse during Summer Months!

Great Tips for Trailering Your Horse during the hot Summer Months

Here are some reminders & good tips to remember when trailering your horse during the heat of our summer months.

The inside of a horse trailer can easily become 20 degrees warmer than the air temperature outside.

Horses working to keep their balance in such conditions can quickly become stressed, fatigued and dangerously overheated.

As you travel this summer, take extra precautions to ensure your horse[s] stay cool while travelling down the road.

#1 Open trailer windows and vents. However, make sure that doing so does not encourage a horse to assume an inappropriate position while you are moving.

#2: Keep the sheets & coolers OFF your horse[s]even to “keep them clean.” Blankets/sheets ‘flatten’ the natural ability for horse hair to cool and warm your horse’s body. Less is more! Break the habit! If you notice your horse[s] arriving sweat-stained ~ the cooler caused it! Nature provide your horse with it’s own heating and cooling system; let Nature work her Magic ~ she can do a better job that us!

#3 Leg Coverings as well! Skip heavy quilts and bandages on legs and go with lighter-weight shipping boots. If all your horses in the trailer are experienced travelers, you may want to ship with just bell boots on to protect coronary bands.

#4 If you have to stop en route, make it a priority to find Shade for your rig.

#5 Offer new, fresh, cool water for all your horses before setting out again.

#6 Once you’ve arrived at your destination, unload them as soon as possible.

#7 Provide new, fresh, clean water again, as soon as you can do so safely.

Save travels down the road!

Grow Stronger Hooves!

4 Tips to Growing Stronger Hooves
By the Editors of EQUUS magazine
Re-Edited by Bev Gun-Munro

How you manage your horse on a daily basis can influence the strength of their hooves.

4 tips for building better, stronger hooves.

Regular farrier visits, combined with sensible management practices can improve the health of your horse’s hooves.

Your farrier is doing an excellent job of fortifying your horse’s weak, shelly hooves, but what happens to them between farrier visits can go a long way toward preserving their health.

To help strengthen your horse’s hooves, try incorporating the following tips into your daily management

Keep your horse’s hooves as dry as possible. Moisture weakens hoof walls and provides an ideal environment for bacterial invasions. Just as destructive as excess moisture, however, are extreme fluctuations between wet and dry conditions, which cause the hoof to expand and contract with each moisture change.

o Horses on summer pasture go through the wet-dry cycle daily, with morning dew giving way to ground-baking dryness.
o Frequent baths and post exercise hosings also contribute to this problem, so stick to careful spongings that keep hooves relatively dry.

Stand your horse on solid ground. A tender-footed horse may look ‘ouchy’ on harder footing, but the firm ground helps toughen feet.
o An ideal flooring for stabled horses is made up of dense stall mats covered by a thin layer of dry bedding.

Make sure your horse gets enough exercise. Simply walking around a pasture stimulates hoof circulation and growth. Even if your mount’s feet look fragile, resist the urge to restrict activity.

Apply hoof tougheners.
o Commercial bonding agents formulated to harden hooves are available through tack stores.
o Ask your farrier which ones would be most suitable for your horse.
o AVOID OIL BASED preparations. Oil based substances can contribute to softening of the hoof wall.

3 Tricks to Encourage Your Horse to Drink More Water

3 Tips to Getting Your Horse To Drink More Water!

Hydration is a very important consideration with keeping your horses healthy during these  warm summer months, especially after exercising/riding/competing with  them in the heat.
Endurance riders are very knowledgeable at knowing how to keep their horses hydrated during work outs and competitive trials.
 It is a myth that you should not give a hot horse cold water after an excessive workout.    It’s is now a known fact that it is quite safe, and preferable that your let your horse[s] drink cold water after a hard workout.

Just like you drink cold water with ice, horse’s bodies absorb and can handle cold water like you and me.

Here are some incentives to actually get your horse[s] to drink more.

#1: Flavor the water. Mixing in apple juice or some other flavor can make your horse’s water more appealing. This is particularly helpful on the road because it masks the unfamiliar taste of “foreign” water.

#2:  Feed watermelon, which is 92% water.   A horse will still needs water, but ingesting watermelon is a great and tasty substitute.

#3:   Another trick is to add a slight, very small amount of salt to the first drink of water they take.  This will stimulate them to want to drink more.

1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water.

20 minutes later, replace the salted water with plain water. Research has shown this method will trigger thirst, and the horse is likely to drink more of the plain water than he would have otherwise.

7 Ways to Cool Down Your Horse in Hot Weather

7 Cool-Down Strategies for Your Horse

By Eleanor Kellon, VMD

Edited by Bev Gun-Munro


Beating the heat involves water — both on the inside & outside your horse


Summer’s heat and humidity proves deadly to way too many horses every summer.  Horses lose their lives every year to heat stroke.

Countless others struggle through anything from weakness to colic as a result of inadequate care in hot weather.

Don’t let this happen to your horse!

Cool Facts!

Your horse’s normal body temperature is 98.5 to 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

Their body temperature rises as they exert themselves. To avoid reaching temperatures that can damage their brain and organs, they must be able to get rid of excess heat.

Nature gives your horse several ways to stay cool.   Some heat is transferred to the air exiting their lungs. The remainder is carried to the skin surface by the bloodstream. Blood vessels very close to the surface of the skin dilate, and dissipate heat through conduction, convection, and evaporation.

*Conduction is the transfer of heat from the body to the cooler air.
**Convection is the movement of hot air away from the body’s surface, replacing it with cooler air.
***Evaporation of sweat is absolutely necessary for efficient heat removal.
Here are 7 ways you cool your horse as the temperature rises again this summer…………………


Cool Down Your Hot Horse


#1  Create a breeze.

Slow walking creates a bit of a breeze over your horse’s body surface to enhance convective cooling. A fan works even better!

#2  Find cooler air.

Shade provides cooler air temperatures, which also enhances convective cooling.

#3  Hose them down.

As you hose off your horse, heat is lost due to evaporative cooling. Heat is also as long as the water temperature is cooler than their body surface.

Myth :  Note that hosing your hot horse down with cold water doesn’t cause any ill effects. The colder the water, the more heat loss occurs.


#4  Use misting fans.

Installing misting fans is the most efficient method of all.  A well-known fact is that Olympic horses are kept cool with this method. The mist causes cooling and evaporation, while the fans’ breeze improves evaporation.


#5:  Available Drinking Water.

Allowing your hot horse to drink keeps them not only hydrated but also has cooling effects, as the water temperature and your horse’s interior temperature equalize.

Severe dehydration can lead to organ damage.

Myth! There are no health risks associated with letting a hot horse drink cold water. And there’s no such thing as giving your horse “too much” water.

#6  Invest in & Give them Electrolytes.

Your exercising horse loses electrolytes along with water when they sweat. Their cells function like small batteries with different concentrations of electrolytes inside vs. outside the cell. There are even differences in concentrations between the structures inside the cells.
Another function of electrolytes, especially sodium, is to “hold” water in your horse’s body. To maintain proper hydration levels, their brain constantly monitors sodium concentration.   Thirst is triggered if the concentration of sodium gets too high;  salt hunger is triggered if sodium gets too low.

Electrolyte-Replacement Checklist
There’s a place for electrolyte supplements, but they have to be used correctly. Use this checklist to get started.

[1] Crucial! Give your horse as much water as they want & as often as they want!

[2] Use plain salt to meet your horse’s baseline sodium and chloride needs. Give him 1 ounce per day in winter, 2 ounces per day in summer.
[3] If your horse is working two hours or less at low sweating rates, or one hour or less at moderate sweating rates, add 1 extra ounce of salt for each hour of low sweating work, 2 ounces for each hour of moderate sweating.
[4] If your horse is working longer than the times above, feed the extra salt only to meet the needs of the first two hours (or the one hour of moderate sweating), then use an electrolyte replacement for any additional work above that level.
#7  Fly Wraps.  Fly Wraps are a breathable, mesh wrap for your horse’s lower leg.  Much like the fly mask, Fly Wraps are totally breathable, protect your horse’s lower legs from pesky insects, and serve to comfort your horse in a number of ways.   They serve as a breathable bandage, and their ‘feel’ as they sit snug on the lower leg offers great comfort to those horses who are ‘antsy’ in the cross ties.   Over the years we found and advise our clients to hose their horse’s legs while the Fly Wraps are “ON” their horses.  On hot summer days a cool, wet Fly Wrap will help blood flow as well as offer prolonged cooling comfort to your horses.  Think of a wet Fly Wrap being like a cool wet face cloth applied to a feverish forehead, or an ice pack to a swollen joint or muscle.  Washing your Fly Wraps while your horses are wearing them ‘kills two birds with one stone’.  Wash & Wear we say!



Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD, currently works as a writer, teacher, and internal medicine/nutrition consultant. Prior to this, Dr. Kellon has had more than 10 years experience in private practice. She also has extensive experience with performance horses. She’s based in Pennsylvania, where she and her husband raise, train, and race Standardbreds. Her most recent book is Horse Journal Guide to Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals (Globe Pequot Press).