Surviving the Cold Winters

Winter here in the UAE isn’t very cold but can reach as low as 10 degrees C at night.

Since it’s mostly hot throughout the year, the horses still feel the difference this weather causes.

In the summer, I wrote about surviving the summer heat, and decided to write one up for winter.

1. Increase food intake: The more they eat, the more of an internal furnace they have. Horses expend significantly more calories keeping warm in the winter, thus, are likely to lose weight if food intake is not increased.


2. Plenty of water: Make sure water is not freezing  if the horses are staying outside

 


3. Winter coat: allow their coat grow out to warm them naturally


4. Shelter/warm stables: Make sure your horse has a spot to get away from harsh weather

  


5. Increase exercise: This will help them stay warm and keep their muscle mass.


6. Long warm up: Take your time warming up, especially with older horses (warming up & cooling down your horse)


7. Blankets: Get rugs (waterproof is better): and layer them if necessary

 


8. Hoof care: Clean hooves daily, and apply water repellent to protect from mud fever. I use PlusVital.

Hope this helps 🙂

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

5 Ways to Engage Your Horse’s Hind

One of the important muscles that a horse needs for a healthy body is strong hind quarters as they act as a “spring box”.

The first factor to consider before trying to develop your horse’s body is to make sure they are receiving a proper diet with enough nutrients to help develop and maintain muscle tone. Tofino is luckily sponsored by Cavalos Equine Care & Supplies for Reverdy Feed which has been working amazingly for him thankfully ❤

Here are some 4 tips to help engage your horse’s hind:

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  1. Hill work: As mentioned above, this is the easiest way to help your horse gain hind strength. Going up and down hill in walk and trot is enough without having to canter (safer not to).
  2. Transitions: Try transitioning often and smoothly while being active. This helps the horse control and balance their body.
  3. Cavaletti/Ground poles: Raised poles or even ground poles not only help to better balance your horse but also allows them to strengthen their body by lifting up and down. Concentrate on the action rather than the height, making sure your horse pick themselves up.
  4. Rein Back: Try going back in small steps between exercises, and even up a hill to help engage the hind. Make sure your horse properly reins back without dropping their back so they use themselves correctly.
  5. Stretch: Movements that help to lengthen the back limbs help create the subtleness to work well, balance, and develop strong muscles.

IMG_6746Hope this helps 🙂

Essentials to Keeping Your Horse Barefoot

Tofino transitioned to going barefoot about 5 years ago due to the fact that his hooves were too short. My farrier suggested removing his shoes and letting his hooves grow out. This did take time and proper care but we managed to get them to a good state to the point where my farrier said he actually doesn’t need to be shod again.

Note: Some horses medically need to be shod and is not safe for them to go barefoot. Check with your Vet & Farrier beforehand.

1. Diet

I was recommended by the farrier to put Tofino on Farriers Formula (double strength) which is a supplement you add to the feed in order to get the right nutrients for hoof strength and growth.

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Once we started using Reverdy Feed (Adult Specific), I stopped using the above supplement as the feed covers a lot of nutrients that are enough to maintain not only his hooves but his full body which makes it a lot easier as I do not need any additional supplements. The general rule for the barefoot diet is low sugar, high fibre and forage.

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2. Trim & Maintenance

As hooves got stronger and bigger, I decided to keep them as is and just trim them every 6weeks as the hooves are naturally shock absorb and flex with your horses movement.

Every horse needs to be trimmed a specific way depending on how they move and and naturally shaped. Tofino gets a regular “Mustang roll” but he also used to get a “white line trim” as he had white line.

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3. Desensitize

Always expose your horse to new grounds whether it be gravel, asphalt, sand, rubber etc. This helps the hooves to “desensitize” and get used to multiple surfaces. That being said, if you are still at the beginning stages, I would avoid gravel and allow your horse to wear a hoof boot if you need to cross in order to prevent excessive breakage and cracking.
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4. Exercise

The more your horse moves around, the better blood flow there is to the hoof and the body. This enhances growth and healing. Turning out your horse as much as possible would help not only for movement but also exposure to surfaces.

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(photo by Axelle Talma/@popthepony)


5. Protection

Wet hooves = brittle hooves = prone to fungal infections. It is best to avoid turning out your horse when it’s wet and muddy, but if need be, then look for a water repellent.

There are a number of hoof protectors out there that repel water, but I personally use Plus Vital which not only is a water repellent naturally, but also helps the hooves grow strong and I have noticed a major difference while using it.

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If your horses hooves are very brittle I would suggest you try Keratex Hoof Hardener which also really helped the transition.

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Hope this helps 🙂
Is your horse shod or barefoot?

Ideas for your Horse’s Birthday

So today is Tofino’s birthday and he is officially 16 years old 🎉. Oh how time has flown by so quickly! I can’t believe that I first met him when he was 7 years old 😱👇.

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I thought it may be useful to write up a few ideas of things you can do with your horse on a special day.

  1. Spa day! (cleaning essentials)
  2. Treats (DIY horse treats)
  3. Full bonding day (9 tips on horse bonding)
  4. Sunrise/Sunset Hack (necessity & safety of hacking)
  5. Liberty / natural horsemanship
  6. Photo-shoot Session
  7. Mini home gymkhana
  8. Adventure! (beach, forest, cross country etc.)
  9. New item for them (halter, boots, rug etc.)
  10. New Toy/ball

Honestly speaking, I don’t really do anything “special” as I do all of the above on a regular basis ha-ha! But every year on his birthday, I do either a sunrise or a sunset hack which is absolutely beautiful and peaceful 🌅🌄.

Although Tofino is now 16, he is thankfully full of energy, not only due to the time off that he has had, but also due to his diet, being on our sponsored Reverdy Adult Specific feed from www.CavalosUAE.com , which I find has made a HUGE difference in his performance and shape (review on Reverdy feed).

I am so glad that we get to grow together, and I hope to continue our adventures with every year that passes.

Happy birthday Toficakes! ❤

DSC_0082 Photo by popthepony


When is your horse’s birthday?
And do you do anything special?

Basic Noseband Types

There are many, and I mean MANY noseband types in the market today. However, today I will be only briefing you on the basic ones.

I have personally used a Cavesson, Flash, Grackle, and a Drop noseband, and a Micklem on Tofino. When looking for one that suits your horse, no matter what kind it is there are always the basic rules which are:

  • All nosebands should NOT press on the nostrils or cheekbones as that restricts airflow.
  • All nosebands should be fitted to have space for 2 fingers on the under straps (horse must still be able to open the mouth and chew).
  • Every horses reacts different to different nosebands, and fits differently.

So, lets get started!

Cavesson

The Cavesson noseband is the basic noseband used to not only for aesthetic purposes, but also prevent the horse from crossing over the jaw, and for the use of a standing martingale. It is mainly used in the Hunters and Dressage, but can be used in basically any discipline.

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Flash

The most common type is the Flash Noseband which is used for most disciplines, from jumping, to eventing, to dressage. It is designed to hold the bit in place and the horses mouth low and prevents the horse from opening the mouth or crossing the jaw.

This was the first noseband I ever tried on Tofino. And he seemed to flick his head whilst using the classic flash noseband. So I was on the hunt for something else.

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Grackle (Mexican / Figure 8)

The grackle is what I find best suits Tofino as he doesn’t fuss with it whatsoever. It has a front crossover point which is the pain pressure point. This noseband helps clear the horses airways, allowing air to pass easily, without cranking the nose and mouth.

It can be used from Jumping and Eventing, but is not allowed for Dressage unfortunately.

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Drop Noseband

The drop noseband sits lower on the horses face and restricts the horse into lowering their head. The pressure is on the lower parts and groove of the noseband when the horse tries to open his mouth. Once the horse relaxes their jaw, the pressure is released. Many use this type of noseband for young horses to teach them to “accept” the bit.

It is important to note the placement of the noseband as it should sit where the bone is and not the flesh so as to not interrupt the horses breathing.

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Micklem

I know this isn’t exactly a “noseband” but a bridle, but I thought I should add it in there. The Micklem was created to fit the horses skull and prevent uncomfortable pressure points. The straps are placed in a way that they avoid fragile facial bones, nerves, and both upper and lower molar teeth. It is FEI approved and can be used for Jumping, Eventing, and even Dressage.

I have written about it before (Micklem review), as I use it for dressage and find that Tofino has responded well to it (same as grackle).

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I hope this helps! If you have any questions or inputs please do not hesitate to get in touch xx

Which noseband do you use?

“Learn to Love the Canter”

Years ago, when I first got Tofino, I was told that he has a very sore back. Our vet recommended that when riding, we walk for a very long time pre and post workout and to canter first instead of trot (warm up & cooling down your horse).

I was a little confused at first, as everywhere they teach you to walk, then trot, then canter while warming up. Once I started to warm up Tofino, cantering before trotting, I noticed a massive difference in his movement. He was a lot more subtle and flexible which made the workout a lot easier (less pushing).

I came across this video and article and thought it would be great to share:

Most people spend time schooling in trot. This doesn’t aid in helping your horse to learn get a balanced canter and strengthen the muscles needed for it.

Of all three gaits, canter best strengthens front and hind ends of the horse simultaneously. Because each canter stride requires him to swing forward with both hind legs at once, the lumbar-sacral joint is mobilized more than in walk or trot. The swinging forward of both hind legs hinges the pelvis, causing it to tuck. This in turn rounds the horse’s back. Then, as his leading leg strikes the ground the horse briefly takes more weight on his forelimbs before thrusting his forehand upwards for a moment of suspension.

This rocking motion alternates recruitment of each end of the horse, while pulsing energy through the horse’s spine in an active contraction-relaxation muscle cycle that builds strength without the restriction that accompanies holding a static posture. Moreover, scientists have determined by muscle sensors that cantering involves the fullest, most forceful contraction of the horse’s long back muscles, indicating it might be the best tool for conditioning a weak topline.

Because of the increased motion in the lumbar sacral joint at canter, these long back muscle contractions are able to happen while also pulsing out some of the bunching or tightness that can accompany strength building. In fact, in the case of a horse with a stiff back or overall weakness through his core, it is usually advisable to warm up in the canter rather than the trot. This prevents the longissimus dorsi muscle from holding the back in rigid posture throughout your ride. It allows the horse’s smaller postural muscles deep within the back to balance the spine while the long back muscles do the job they were designed for—free, forward movement.

-Jec Ballou

IMG_2687Note: Tofino does collect while in canter in normal flat work, but this is a screenshot of our cross-pole training.

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