Stretch Your Horse App

As important as stretching is for us after exercise, the same goes to horses.
Stretching your horse’s muscles will enhance performance and reduce the possibility of an injury.
I have previously written a post on “Warming Up &  Cooling Down you Horse” in order slowly get your horse moving before and after proper riding. In addition to warm up and cool down, you can also help your horse to better their performance by following multiple stretching techniques. These are carefully written and recorded by an application called Stretch Your Horse which is designed to teach viewers how to safely and effectively stretch their horse’s muscles anytime and anywhere.
Note: Stretching should only be done on warm muscles.  If you warm up your horse in the saddle, this means you should stretch your horse after you ride.


Benefits of Stretching:
  • Enhances sensory nerve endings (for muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints) 
  • Prevent injury (reduce risk of muscle & tendon injury) 
  • Increase suppleness & elasticity
  • Improve circulation
  • Relieve pain, inflammation, muscle spasms
  • Avoid stiff/sore muscles
  • Relieve joint (as you extent contracted muscle to their position it relieves stress off ligament that is attached to joint) 
  • Promote relaxation

[For more information, check out: Stretching your horse benefits and guidelines]


Stretch Your Horse App features the following:
  • No internet connectivity or cell service needed after the initial download  
  • Each video is downloaded separately and resides on smartphone
  • Download on wi-fi to avoid data plan usage and charges (strongly recommended)
  • Cost effective because rider only downloads specific stretch videos their horse needs
  • Great for riders of all experience levels and non-riders too
  • All stretches done from the ground

  


The application is very easy to navigate and has numerous videos on a wide range of sections that cover your horse’s body. The app comes with 3 free videos.  You are able to review each video and give your feedback.  There is a small purchase fee ($1.99 USD) for each video. This is easy on the pocket and enables the rider to customize purchases based on their horse’s specific needs.  Personally, I would rather buy all 22 videos at once for convenience, but not everyone would want to do that.

  


The images and writings are very clear and straight forward, making it accessible for those with no scientific background with regards to horses.  The loading time does depend on your internet speed, but once it is loaded it saves into the app which allows you to access it anytime without having to use data again.

  


You can purchase the app for just $2.99, and get 3 free videos.  Most of the other videos cost only $1.99.  Customize your video purchases.  Buy only the stretches your horse needs.

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Click image to preview
​ App and download to your iPhone.  (You must do this from your phone.)

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Click image to preview App and download to your Android phone.  (You must do this from your phone.)

West Nile Virus [IMPORTANT!]

This virus has come to my attention due to the fact that one of the horses in our stables has the symptoms for West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus (WNV) causes an inflammation of the central nervous system. Both humans and animals can get infected from a mosquito that is carrying the virus. WNV occurs mostly in the late summer or early autumn.


SYMPTOMS

Those infected may show zero signs of illness, however, if the virus reaches the central nervous system, it can cause encephalitis (brain swelling). For horses, the symptoms can take 5-15 days to show, which include the following:

  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • fever
  • weakness of hind limbs
  • paralysis of hind limbs
  • impaired vision
  • ataxia (weakness)
  • head pressing
  • aimless wandering
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • inability to swallow
  • walking in circles
  • hyperexcitability
  • coma

TREATMENT

There is no specific antibody to counter attack the virus, therefore, depending on the affect the virus has on each individual horse, a treatment plan should be developed.

  • Control fever if present.
  • Ensure horse receives sufficient fluids and feed. Oral or intravenous feeding may also be necessary for horses unable to eat.
  • If mobility is compromised, slinging is recommended 2 to 3 times per day to aid in circulation and to try to prevent pressure point sores (bed sores).
  • If horse keeps collapsing, head and leg protection will be necessary.
  • Treating secondary events if noticed. These may include joint and tendon infections, sheath infections, pneumonia, and diarrhea, all due to overall weakness and lack of mobility.

Horses can improve within 5 to 7 days after showing sings of the virus, however, 20-30% can show severe neurological deficits for a few weeks. Moreover, mortality rate is around 33%, whereas full recover is around 50%, and relapse or incomplete recover is around 17%.


PREVENTION

There is a vaccination that requires two doses, given 3-6 weeks apart. That being said, the protection will not develop until around 4-6 weeks after the second dose.
Note: 36 hours rest post vaccination for horses

Try and keep the stables clean and free from mosquito breeding habitats which include tires, wheelbarrows, old buckets, etc.),. Roof and gutters should also be cleaned constantly.

  • Keep horses indoors during active mosquito times (dawn/dusk)
  • Use fans
  • Use flysheets
  • Flyspray
  • Insecticide mist
  • Turn off lights that attract mosquitoes at night, or use fluorescent lights, which do not attract mosquitoes.
  • Keep an eye out for dead birds around the stables

It is very crucial to get your horse vaccinated, of if they are, continue to give them boosters when necessary.

Keep safe! Hope this helps

Riding Gymnastics Exercises

Gymnastics in riding is very helpful when it comes to jumping your horse. It not only helps develop your horses muscles, but also help the rider to better understand and play around with striding.

Benefits of Gymnastics Exercises:

  • Develops confidence in both horse and rider
  • Gain better balance
  • Learning to stay on a consistent rhythm
  • Corrects drifting/improves straightness
  • Helps in understanding/controlling striding
  • Helps in developing equitation

Generally, there are 3 phases, which include trot poles, cross pole, vertical and an oxer. This gives you a variety to work with and better understand the feel over the jumps.

You mostly start with trotting over the trot poles, however, there are some who prefer to just canter straight towards the cross pole. It depends on your riding and training.

Here is a video that helps to explain the 3 parts:

I personally need to work on this a lot! It is a good exercise to do at least once a week, even if it is only poles on the ground.

Hope this helps 🙂

Tips to Buying a Horse

I have been asked a few times what to look for when buying a new horse, or the average cost etc.

Therefore, I decided to write up this post just to summarize some crucial points to keep in mind before purchasing a horse.

Things to think of before considering buying a horse:

  • Determine your level: If you are a beginner, it is best to stick with riding schools or leasing rather than owning a horse until you are a little more experienced
  • Commitment: Are you ready to commit to taking care of a horse and riding it often?
  • Cost: A horse’s price may range, but the cost of livery and other services they need for maintenance is costly with each month
  • Outcome: Why are you looking to buy a horse? what is your goal? Leisure riding? competing? etc.
  • Look around: Do not settle for one breeder/seller, ask around and see what’s out there
  • Ask around: Do not be afraid to ask horse owners about the lifestyle and their experience with their horses
  • Get Help: Do not attempt to go ride a horse on your own. Make sure you have a knowledgable trainer, friend, horse owner etc, with you
  • People are not always honest: Hard truth is that people lie, whether it be about the horse, price, history etc. So keep that in mind.

Things to think of when considering a horse:

  • Pick a discipline: as horses of different breeds are used for different disciplines 
  • Keep options open: Just because you liked an ad for one horse, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at others
  • Take an experienced person with you
  • Watch the horse being lead walking and trotting
  • Observe as being ridden: Ask seller or person with you to ride the horse beforehand if you are not comfortable
  • Ride the horse yourself
  • Check horse’s behaviour: Loading in trailer, stable manners, farrier etc.
  • Temper: are they too temperamental or too lazy?
  • Experience: What have they done in the past? Schoolmaster? green? 
  • Age: Old does not mean experienced and vise versa
  • Horse History: Check the horses medical and training history
  • Price: Are they worth the price asked? Always negotiate 
  • VET CHECK VET CHECK VET CHECK! I cannot stress enough about this, but make sure you do a vet check that is not in the same location as the horse is generally in, as things may be overlooked or gotten used to.

I hope I didn’t forget anything els, if so please comment below 🙂

 

 

Tips to Loading Difficult Horses

Ever since Tofino’s sight has been deteriorating, he has been very difficult to load onto the trailer, even though we never had a problem with loading at all before.

First thing first, NEVER use force. No whips, chains, hitting etc. The reason why a horse won’t load is either because it’s something new and need to get used to it, or it’s because they are genuinely afraid for many reasons.

  1. Be patient
  2. Open the side door of the trailer so the area feels less claustrophobic
  3. Having a horse already inside will help to ease anxiety and doubt
  4. Lead your horse yourself as they probably trust YOU
  5. Allow your horse to walk around the trailer and sniff it out
  6. Reward with each step
  7. Talk to your horse gently
  8. If that fails, simply cover your horses eyes with a jumper or towel and lead them inside (this seems to work most of the time)

Note: Don’t forget your safety travel gear!

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If you have any specific technique you know of, please do not hesitate to share. Personally, I have been using the above steps and ended up having to cover his face once which worked like a charm. Without doing so, it would take me 20 minutes to load otherwise.

Hope this helps

Hock Injections (Arthritis & Bone Spur)

The hocks play a major role for the horses movement. They are the driving mechanism for their hind end. The Hock is the joint between the tarsal bones and tibia.


What happens to the hocks?

When the horses cartilage starts to thin in the middle join spaces, pain is evident as it is the actual bone grinding when moving. Therefore, horses will start to develop bone spurs along the edges which is the starting process of bone fusion. This affects not only the back legs, but also the the hips, croup and hindquarters.

To help relieve pain during the degeneration process, an injection is given to the lower and middle joint spaces until the process of fusion is complete.  Fusion is a good thing in this case as they don’t slide, and therefore they don’t hurt anymore.

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This happens to many athletic horses. The injection consists of corticosteroids, which  are anti-inflammatory agents that according to studies and performance, help with pain relief and inflammation. Some vets combine corticosteroid with hyaluronate (also known as hyalruonic acid, or HA) to help lubricate the joint. Tofino got his hock injected within the first few months of having him. His X-ray showed that he has arthritis between the joints and started to develop bone spurs (see pic below).


Causes:
  • Type of riding
  • Genetics (play a role in arthritic degeneration)
  • Diet
  • Movement, or lack there of (horses in stall, standing still will be a lot stiffer)
Solutions:
  • Joint Supplements: Adequan, Legend, Pentosan, glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, NSAIDs are some of many suppliments that can aid in joint lubrication and pain.
  • Weight management & Exercise: If your horse is overweight it can put a load of pressure on the hocks. If not then just continue to work them normally, and keep the outside of their box as much as possible.
  • Therapy: To help relieve stiffness and pain.
  • Surgery: Only in extreme cases, surgical drilling of the hock joints or chemical fusion of the hocks may be an option.
  • Injections: Cortisone injections provide somewhat of a long term anti-inflammatory effect and pain relief. Depending on discipline and intensity, the injection may last somewhere between between 6 and 15 months.

Within the 5 years that I have had Tofino, I have only injected him 3 times so far. As soon as I start to notice when he’s in pain in that area, I give our vet a call. I found that the Turmeric treats help SO MUCH with the fluidity of his movements, and his diet, being on Reverdy Feed has given him the right nutrients, without adding supplements, to hold off on the injections, therefore, not needing them as much.

We are not sponsored by Reverdy Feed anymore, but I still stand by the product as I have noticed a great deal of positive change with Tofino’s performance and body.

Importance/Benefits of Grooming your Horse

Grooming your horse not only allows them to be clean, but also allows you to better understand their personality and behaviour.

I have an essentials to keeping your horse clean post written a while back which may help you if you wish to have a sparkly pony!

Naturally in the wild, horses groom each other. Domesticated horses that don’t have that option specifically need more attention in that sense. Horses are social animals and love the contact.

Here are some dot points as to why grooming is beneficial:

  • Increase blood flow around your horses body
  • Increase the bond between you and your horse
  • Helps to decrease skin conditions
  • Helps you to notice any changes in your horses body or any injuries
  • Increases your horses comfort
  • Remove sweat stains
  • Your horse looks great after
  • Great exercises for you!

Grooming doesn’t take so long on a daily basis, but I would recommend at least once a week to treat your horse to a “spa day” and really take your time with them.

Make sure you always brush your horse after they are dry from a ride in order to avoid sweat stains that allow their coat to clump up.

Here is a video of how to groom your horse if you are not sure what steps to take:

Hope this helps 🙂