The Shying Horse

Posted on June 20, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military, therapy.

photo courtesy of: Your Horse Co.UK

It is the classic story of the horse who ran back to the barn. In every crowd is a person who remembers the time they rode a horse who spooked and ran away. “I’ll never ride again!”, they confess.  Unlike a bicycle or a skateboard, the horse is a living creature with the ability to think and observe. This means they are capable of reacting to whatever they see. Riders cannot control the random events in the woods or the ring where they ride, nor predict the reaction of the horse to those events. But it is possible to minimize the reaction of the horse by pre-training them to respond to guidance from the saddle. The historic mounted cavalry was highly successful in training their horses to charge straight into battle regardless of the noise and confusion. The average horse can be trained to understand that the rider’s directions are a priority over any instinct to run away. This pre-conditioning will bring momentary hesitation when the horse discovers a wild deer or a motorbike out on the trail. This hesitation gives the rider a chance to reassure the horse before he loses control.

However, occasionally you encounter a horse who stubbornly resists any training efforts and continues to spook and leap sideways at every noise. They are displaying a learned behavior rather than an instinctual reaction. We call these types of horses ‘shyers’.

photo:Linda Parelli teaching horse to focus

The habitual shyer is a menace for its rider. The constant bolting or sideways leaping to get away from imagined danger unseats the rider and can leave a loose horse on the run. To develop safer behavior in these horses it helps to determine the reason for their continual disruptions. While there may be several factors involved, here are three basic reasons why horses develop the habit of shying: aggression, insecurity, or the rider. Let’s look at these individually.

Aggression.   Over the centuries, the horse’s job was to carry soldiers through battle. Through the trials of war, certain breeds of horses demonstrated the ability to be warriors in their own right. They quickly grasped the need to charge, bump, or even trample down the enemy troops. They didn’t flinch as they took a stab from a bayonet or a bullet in the flesh, but continued into the thick of battle with wounds that were often fatal. These breeds still exist today and carry the genetic code of their ancestors. They excel in police work where they are asked to intervene and redirect the public through bumping or stomping into unruly crowds, or in search-and-rescue work where they must crash through rocky, wooded terrain in search of criminal escapees or lost hikers. These ‘warrior’ horses fit very well and yield very quickly to a forthright, commanding personality who assumes control such as the policeman riding on mounted patrol. But when ridden by an indecisive rider who avoids confrontation, the horse will assume control. Centuries of breeding make the warrior horse dominant and vigorous. Without a dominant rider, disaster is immanent. These horses will develop the habit of shying because they need an object to be overpowering and a reason to charge forward.  It is best to always have a job for these horses to keep them occupied.

Insecurity.  The oversensitive, insecure horse is clearly the opposite of our warrior horse. Ever fretful and in need of a soft touch and kind word, they refrain from the overt action of the bolder horse. They are generally the quieter horses in the corral who follow the lead of the warrior horse. When ridden they prefer a soft seat from the rider and perfectly fitting equipment. Beware of using bits too harsh for their mouth assuming it makes them easier to control. It will only elevate their hyper-tension, making them squirm and spin until the problem is fixed.  Sensitive horses do their best trail work with a dominant horse as a mentor. They ride behind their mentor, who shows them how to walk over rough footing, cross water in creeks, or step over tree trunks that may have fallen across the path. If they aren’t guided in this way, they often develop skittish behavior, shying at every leaf that scuttles across the path because they are too afraid to be out on their own. This is why the rider of sensitive horses finds their role to be more of a cheerleader, building the confidence of the horse and convincing the horse to work for them. Once their confidence is won, these horses are nearly indefatigable. They display a brilliance and intuitiveness in show competitions and ring work that never wanes. The complex work of dressage or the split second timing of stadium jumping are equal to their level of focus and intelligence. This is why so many of these horses compete at the international and Olympic level. They are best matched with the analytical, ambitious person with long range, competitive goals, rather than wandering through wooded trails.

Riders.  Developing your competency in the saddle is a life-long necessity. Each decade brings changes in physical abilities through the aging process that we need to adjust in both ourselves and our horses that we ride. If you love your horse you’ll want to be sure that your position in the saddle is balanced and easy to be carried around. This correct posture in the saddle is your best protection from the unpredictable, shying horse. Equally important is matching your interests and personality to that of the horse.  If your horse is constantly shying on the trails and nothing is fixing it, you need to analyze the personality of the horse and see if it fits with yours. It may be time to find a horse that better suits your personality. If you want to keep your horse in spite of its problems, consider help from a professional who can work with you and your horse. Their suggestion to change your saddle posture, or the saddle you ride in, could make a big difference. Riding should always be adventurous and fun. With a little homework, you can make your rides outstanding!

Olympic Rider Kyra Kyrkland on Matador

Equi-Trivia Quiz!

Posted on June 1, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding.

trivia3

If you pride yourself on horse trivia then take this quiz.

Rate your obsession!  Tally your results then go to the answer page.

Find out: Do you know a little about horses or are you a confirmed addict!

Horse Quiz:

1. Which of these said:   “I’m a stallion, baby! I can whinney!”

A. Eeyore

B. Donkey from Shrek

C. Mr. Ed

2. Made famous by their well known movie trilogies,which character did not use a horse for a quick escape?

A. Marty McFly

B. Frodo

C. Indiana Jones

3. Can you select the toy from the ‘breeds’?

A. Fallabella

B. Breyer

C. Paint

4.   Harry Potter did not ride one of these horse creatures:

A. Unicorn

B. Centaur

C. Thestral

5.   Anna Sewell wrote this book:

A. Black Stallion

B. Starlight

C. Black Beauty

6. Which t.v. star and horse pair is incorrect?

A. Roy Rogers and Trigger

B. Wilbur and Mr Ed

C. Lone Ranger and Tonto

7.  Do you know which of these is not a young horse?

A. Pony

B. Foal

C. Colt

8.  The early ancestor to the modern day horse was called:

A.  Protohippus

B. Equiworkus

C. Eohippus

How did you do? Check your tally results;  click     here

Anzac Day

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, handicap, history, training.

photo:warwick daily news

A poem by Australian Horse Whisperer, Guy McLean honoring the equine soldiers drafted for service in wartime. Due to quarantine restrictions, only one Waler horse is known to have been returned to Australia; “Sandy”, the mount of Major-General W.T. Bridges, an officer who died at Gallipoli in May 1915.

Remembering the LightHorse:

I was one of thousands of horses Bred on the mountains and plains
Known as a breed called the ‘Waler’ With courage and stamina a-flow in my veins
Like the men and women of our country We were called upon for war
And just like our human comrades We were drafted by the scores
I was broken in to the bridle They were trained to the rifle and bayonet
I learnt to jump and run with stifling weight They learnt from blood and tears and sweat
I was a trooper’s horse, a ‘Lighthorse’ Known for bravery and speed
My larger brothers pulled the heavy guns Each one, a credit to our breed

Our training days were over And the best of us walked the line
Thousands of Australians Who were called upon to shine
We were loaded on a metal ship Spending months upon the sea
Floating to a land of war To our very destiny
I was fearful, I was wary But obedient and brave
My trooper asked for brilliance And that is how I would behave
As the shoreline of the war fields Broke the far horizon grasp
The gunfire and the burning sand Would make a bold soul gasp
We waited for the order Then plunged onto the sand
We were ready for this challenge Noble steed and brave young man
We galloped to the war zone To join our comrades side
Jumping bodies of the fallen Who had fought and died with pride
Our line was being peppered And I watched my brother’s fall
But the vast majority made it safely And we were ready for the call

We were picketed out at night time Fed small rations from the stores
We were bred for this, to be hardy Brave and honest to the core
Our victories were many As we charged the enemy line
Jumping bunkers and gun turrets We would surge, time after time
Casualties were common Injured horses, injured men
But we were soldiers, so come morning We would saddle up again
The conditions were atrocious And the challenges were great
But I’d treasure every meal time And a kind word from my mate
His gun would kill the enemy His actions, regimental
But his heart was kind and honest And his touch was kind and gentle
While the war exploded round us I would calmly wait his cue
He would stroke my mane to ease me Just one soul, from bodies two
I can’t recall the miles we trudged Or the numbers that we lost
But we were fighting for a greater good And a triumph worth the cost
Our Victory was won from courage That made us famous round the world
Our Lighthorse brigades, unbeatable And the ‘Waler’ horse, the pearl
But unlike most other victories Where the winner takes the spoils
Our Victory meant the end for us No more would we touch the soil……
…..Of our homeland, of the mountains Of the lush and rich grass plains
We were laid to rest on a land of war Our blood and bone to stain……
……The beaches and the memories Of the soldier men who ride
They couldn’t take us home with them And with us, a piece of them would die
So though our earthly gallops finished We still roam the plains of dreams
Where our history shaped the future Like rushing water in a stream
And as I talk to you from the pastures That lay beyond this world
Please remember me ‘The Lighthorse’ As your destiny unfurls
Written by Guy McLean ANZAC DAY April 2010

Australian light horsemen on Walers prior to their departure from Australia

Comanche:Trainers of the Cavalry?

Posted on April 15, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, health, history, riding, training.

This interview by FOX Business talks with Documentarian S.C.Gwynne about his book “Empire of the Summer Moon” and explores the facts of how the Comanche Tribe became the first to use combat from horseback. 
The book also probes the historical time-line of the Comanche People and brings in new information on the Quanah Parker band of Comanche warriors.

Horses and Plains Indians; R.E. Moore

Posted on April 6, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, riding, training.

scene from movie: Dances With Woves

The Indians got their first horses from the Spanish. When the Spanish explorers Coronado and DeSoto came into America they brought horses with them. This was in the year of 1540. Some horses got away and went wild. But, the Indians did not seem to have done much with these wild horses. They did not start to ride or use horses until much later.

In the 1600s there were a lot of Spanish missions and settlers in New Mexico just to the west of Texas. This is where the Pueblo and Navaho Indians live. The Spanish in New Mexico used Indians as slaves and workers. These Indian slaves and workers learned about horses working on the Spanish ranches. The Spanish had a law that made it a crime for an Indian to own a horse or a gun. Still these Indians learned how to train a horse and they learned how to ride a horse. They also learned how to use horses to carry packs.

In the year of 1680 the Pueblo Indians revolted against the Spanish and drove the Spanish out of their land and back down into Old Mexico. The Spanish were forced to leave so fast they left behind many horses. The Pueblo Indians took these horses and used them. The Spanish did not come back until the year of 1694. While the Spanish were gone the Pueblo Indians raised large herds of horses. They began selling and trading them to other Indians such as the Kiowa and Comanche. The Pueblo Indians also taught the other Indian tribes how to ride and how to raise horses.

Horses spread across the Southern Plains pretty quickly. French traders reported that the Cheyenne Indians in Kansas got their first horses in the year of 1745. Horses changed life for the plains Indians.
To read more of our guest article click :  R.E.Moore

Hoof Trimming Insights

Posted on February 1, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, health, history, hoofcare.

(submitted from Catherine Sky)

Having worked with Bureau of Land Management wild horses in past years and raised various strains of Spanish Mustangs some of which were descendants of founding stock directly from the wild, I have seen some varying differences in hoof type due to terrain and environment.
Cerbathorse

Example 1)  Cerbats from Marble Canyon in the Cerbat Mountain range near Kingman Arizona. The Cerbat as a strain of Spanish Mustang and generally untouched by man until mid 90’s had managed to evolve a very steep angle as a herd to a horse. Reason being or seeming to be is the rocky cactus terrain they lived in for over 200 years. They had to dig for water sometimes 6 feet to survive some waterless summers. The hoof is round narrow and upright. The steep angles and high heels protected their heels and coronet bands from cactus and sharp rocks. An average angel for a typical Cerbat and many if not most of their 1/2 crosses would be 60 degrees, with few standing at 58 degrees and many as high as 63 degrees. Their walls are typically denser, thicker than other Spanish Mustangs or Wild horses form other areas. The early Cerbat as a group had tendencies to be laterally gaited as well. They created their own mustang roll from constant digging.
GreyEagle2

Example 2)  Horses descending from Yellow Fox, SMR#2 a Montana Cheyenne Indian Reservation horse are descendants raised on Wyoming prairie of over 3000 acres. Very rocky but unlike Marble Canyon, Wyoming’s rolling hills spread out over the 3000 acres dotted with prairie dog holes. The typical hoof is large, wide and flat, and low heels with angles nearing 55 degrees. 56 would be pushing high heels on these horses.
bookcliff

Example 3)  The early Book Cliff horses from Utah. These would be the 1930-40’s stock prior to the draft infusion into the herds. Small, round, flint-hard hooves, these feet are closest to the ideal model that is used to describe mustang healthy hooves. Book Cliff blood still have these type of feet even raised on pastures which says something for genetics and natural selection that takes generations to make changes. Most studies of wild horses feet are based on Nevada wild horses who also live on mostly sandy slide rock and gravel like surfaces, with a few from woodlands up north.

corrolaa

Example 4) the Corolla Banker horses who live along ocean beaches and in marshlands have pony-like feet that grow quite long and are not worn off to the same degree as we see in the mustang studies. These horses have tough healthy hooves that tend to be a bit longer. The angles are pretty average also. They have a long history of soundness.

When trimming horses, one should take into consideration what genetics and what environment shaped the animal in front of them. You can’t trim a Cerbat like you would trim a Corolla. You may be able to trim a Book Cliff bred horse similar to a Nevada wild horse, but the Yellow Fox bred horses (regardless of the pasture or prairie where it was raised), still have a genetically different hoof to tackle.
When considering the mustang roll on your horse it is necessary to consider what kind of surface the horse is walking on and what kind of load they are carrying. A horse working in sand may not need the mustang roll in order to break over. For instance, the Bedouin Arabian is not known for a natural mustang roll yet they are world renowned for their flint hard feet and soundness in their homeland.

..exact author of this article is unknown

Sergeant Reckless

Posted on January 11, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military, training.

reckless_400px

 

Photo: Library of Congress  Sgt Reckless in Korean War

During the Korean War (1950-1953), Sergeant Reckless, a pony sized, 14 hand mare believed to be of Mongolian descent, became famous for her unescorted trips carrying munitions to the front lines. She carried rifles, ammunition and supplies for the Marines as a pack horse, and her commitment and reliability to her work earned her lifelong recognition.

In 1953, during a five-day test known as the Battle of Outpost Vegas the little sorrel mare transported a total of 9,000 pounds of shells. In one day alone she made 50 trips, packing ammunition up the hill and carrying wounded soldiers down. With the exception of the first trip or two, she made these journeys solo, with no human  leading her. The savagery of that battle was legend. “Twenty-eight tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble,” it was written at the time.  The artillery was firing at the rate of 500 rounds per minute!

“Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly ‘no man’s land’ of rice paddies and up the steep 45-degree mountain trails that led to the firing sites,” according to the fan site SgtReckless.com, which goes on to quote Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalling, “It is difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain.”

Lt. Eric Pedersen found the mare at a Korean track where she racing under the name Ah Chim Hai, or Flame-in-the-Morning.  He purchased her for $250. As the story goes, the young boy that owned her, Kim Huk Moon, was reluctant to sell his beloved horse, but wanted the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister, who had stepped on a land mine. Her new name, Reckless,  was derived from a  new weapon, the recoilless rifle anti-tank gun.

Once recruited to the Korean war front her division soon discovered to watch their supplies. She was known to sneak into food bags and devour their contents. In addition to a morning cup of coffee, she loved cake,  Coca Cola, Hershey bars and all candy), and was famous for escaping her pasture and sneaking into tents for a warm night’s sleep. Sgt. Reckless includes among her many military honors two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.  Reckless died in May 1968 at the age of 20 at her home at the Marine Corps’ stables in Camp Pendleton, CA.

reckless2

 

(thanks to the equestrian news)

June 25,1876;The Horse who Survived

Posted on January 3, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, riding.

by Diana Linkous
comanche-horse

photo: US Calvary;Comanche the war horse, after a battle in 1870

Comanche, a famous war horse, born June 25, 1861, fifteen years to the very day before the battle of “The Little Big Horn”, was a 15 hand bay gelding, thought to be part mustang and part Morgan. He was bought by the U.S. Army in 1868 in St. Louis, and sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. A handsome looking horse, he was purchased by Captain Myles Keogh  for $90 to be used as his personal mount.  In the fall of 1868, his unit fought the Comanche tribe in Kansas. During the battle the horse was wounded. Unaware, Captain Keogh continued to fight from his back until the battle was over. Afterward, he discovered an arrow broken off in the horse’s hindquarters. As a tribute, he earned the name Comanche for his bravery in continuing to carry his master despite his own pain.

In 1870 during a battle again against the Comanche tribe, the war horse was wounded in the leg. He was lame for over a month this time, but finally recovered. Then, in 1871, Comanche was wounded in battle once more, this time in his shoulder.   The cavalry was very proud of this brave horse who  recovered quickly, then bravely returned to battle despite being wounded so many times.

On June 25, 1876, Captain Keogh rode Comanche into the valley of the Little Big Horn and the battle known as Custer’s Last Stand. This time they were fighting the Soux and Cheyenne tribes, and it was the last great battle for the Native Americans. They defeated the 7th cavalry and killed every soldier. The only member of the 7th cavalry left alive after the battle was Comanche.  Comanche was found two days after the battle with many wounds, and was very weak and barely able to stand. He was taken in a steam boat to Fort Lincoln, where he was so weak he had to be supported by a sling. He was nursed back to health, once again recovering from his battle wounds.

Comanche was officially retired and it was ordered that no one would ever ride him again. His faithful groom, Gustav Korn,  seen in most photos holding the horse, stayed with him. Comanche was given the title  “the Second Commanding Officer” of the 7th Cavalry, and his only duties were to be led in the front of official parades occasionally. In December, 1890,  Gustav was called back to duty for the battle at Wounded Knee.   He was fatally wounded.  Comanche had lost his faithful friend. On November 7, 1891, downhearted from waiting for  Gustav’s return, Comanche passed away. His body was mounted and put on display at the University of Kansas, where it stands to this day.

A reader’s comment: Captain Miles Keogh was an Irish mercenary. Early in his career he had served as part of the Pope’s private Vatican Army. He was awarded a medal, that he always wore on a chain around his neck. When the Cheyenne killed him on the Little Big Horn, they discovered the medal. Recognizing it as a religious device, they left his corpse alone. His was the only 7th Cavalry KIA whose body was not mutilated. During the US Civil War Captain Keogh served on the staff of the great cavalry officer, Brigadier General John Buford (1st Cavalry Division). They intercepted the leading elements of Robert E. Lees Army of Northern Virginia in front of Gettysburg on June 30, 1863 and held them up until the rest of the Federals could arrive on the field. Hence, they were instrumental in the Union victory in that important battle. Captain Miles Keogh introduced the famous cavalry canter song “Garry Owen” to the 7th Cavalry Regiment. It remains so to this day, and the slogan and greeting among members of the 7th is “Garry Owen.” It is a very stirring tune. Aloha, Mark Mallory.

What Breeds Were Used In The Wild West?

Posted on January 1, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military.

Cowboys would use what ever kind of horse they could get their hands on. Most of the Texas cow horses where Mustangs and Paints, however, as you moved up towards Montana you would find larger breeds since they needed to wade through deep snow. In the Northern states they would use Mustangs, Thoroughbreds, Appaloosas, and Paints. But the breed that most people over look is the Morgan. The US Calvary liked to use a Morgan or Thoroughbred cross. Either crossed with each other or (as after the Civil War) Morgan or Thoroughbred crossed with Mustangs.

Union soldier on Morgan cross

Union soldier on Morgan cross

You will find the Quarter horse became the classic cowboy horse – medium sized, calm and steady. They moved fast over short distances, but endured well at slower paces.
Paints are very similar to quarter horses, but with a specific color pattern.

scene from movie: Dances With Woves

paints used in movie: Dances With Wolves

Appaloosas tend to be slightly smaller than quarter horses, slightly more intelligent, more stubborn, and with greater endurance. They are known for their spotted pattern, they were a very common horse with Native Americans.
Mustangs are feral horses. They were released into the wild by the Spanish colonizers, so they have the look of the Iberian horses…regal, straight nosed, highly intelligent. They tend to be quite small, and very hardy. They have very good endurance, but they can be stubborn and “hot”, having a tendency to run.
But you mustn’t overlook the prominence of the mule, which was the cross between the horse and donkey. Used as pack and riding animals the mule was found everywhere on the farms and mining hills.

mule in shafts

mule in shafts

Other horses you might have seen, were American Saddlebreds and Morgans. These were “city” horses however, and were bred for their flashy movements, smooth ride and carriage work.
Another type of horse you may have seen would be draft horses like Belgians, or Suffolk Draft, who would have been used to plow the land when landowners could afford something more than a mule.

Suffolk Draft

Suffolk Draft

Horses and Thermoregulation, by Dr Clair Thunes

Posted on December 14, 2016 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, health, history, therapy.

winterhorses

Q.How do horses survive in the cold?
A. Horses are mammals and as such are warm-blooded just like humans and so when the air around them is colder than their body temperature, heat transfers from them to the environment and they get colder. To survive they must regulate this heat loss, however such heat loss is not always detrimental, for example if the horse is too hot and needs to cool down.  According to an article by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, “estimates for the lower critical temperature (LCT) for horses are between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit depending on hair coat, body condition, wetness and windchill”.  They go on to give the lower critical temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit based on hair coat as follows, wet or short hair 60, moderate length hair coat 50, heavy coat 30.  Once the average temperature reaches the LCT human intervention is required such as shelter, a blanket and or extra feed.

Q. Why should diet matter?
A. Once at the bottom of its comfort zone the horse reaches its critical temperature and the body speeds up chemical reactions within the body in order to burn more calories and to create more body heat. This requires an increase in dietary energy intake because if there are not enough calories in the diet to meet the additional needs for maintaining body temperature the horse will utilize its body energy reserves (fat).  If this deficit continues for too long then the body condition will be compromised and the horse will lose weight. Well-fed horses adapt better than those who are underfed.
Adaptation should be considered when contemplating a horse’s lower critical temperature.  A horse who has spent a good amount of time in Arizona where the average summer high is around 95 degrees Fahrenheit and average winter low is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit may hit its lower critical temperature at a relatively higher temperature than a horse who lives in Maine where the average summer high is only around 70 degrees Fahrenheit but the average winter low is around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. For the horse from Arizona the lower critical temperature may be 60 degrees even with thick haircoat. The age of the horse is also worth considering.  Older horses are generally less efficient at both digestion and thermoregulation and so are more susceptible to extremes in temperature.  They will therefore need a diet that is more easily digestible and may require intervention earlier than their younger counterparts to stay warm.  Young horses especially those under a year of age are also less able to handle cold weather in part due to the large amounts of energy that are being utilized for growth.  They should be provided with good shelter and ample access to good quality hay.

Q. Horses run around a lot when it’s cold. Does that help?
A. Exercise produces heat from energy burned by muscles so moving is another way the horse has to stay warm but the energy for movement has to come from somewhere, either the diet or body energy reserves.  This may be one reason why horses seem to run around more when the weather is cold.  Muscle contractions don’t just occur though as a result of the horse physically changing locations they also occur as a result of shivering.  The energy produced from these muscle activities raises the horse’s core temperature.
Also, like us, horses can make their hair stand-up, which is called piloerection (think of goose bumps), which acts to increase their hair depth and traps air next to their bodies creating an insulating layer.    It is because of this function that you might hear people say that well cared for horses are quite alright out in the cold as long as it is dry.  Once their coats get wet the hair is unable to stand up and create this insulating layer.  They then rely on the oils in their coat to prevent their skin from getting wet, which is why you should not bathe a horse that lives out in the winter or use a body brush which drags the oils through the coat, as they need the oils to stay near their skin to act as a protective barrier.  Horses living outside need to have access to adequate shelter such as a 3-sided shed as such shelter has been shown to reduce heat loss by 20% not only because it allows their hair to stay dry but it also reduces heat loss from wind chill. A blanket flattens the horse’s hair and prevents piloerection.  If in turn the blanket is not thick enough to adequately insulate or it leaks, the horse will be cold and will not be able to use piloerection to stay warm.  This is not to say that blankets should not be used. If you have a horse who does not carry much weight, with a thin hair coat or decide to clip your horse because it is in heavy work, a blanket will be necessary.

Q. What about stall protection?
A. Often the coldest part of the night is around 6am, as the sun comes up areas reached by sunlight warm up quickly compared to those areas still in shade such as the inside of stall, so horses in stalls are subjected to cold for far longer than those horses that can get out into the sun.  This can cause a real conundrum in spring and autumn when your stabled horses are blanketed at night and you need to take their blankets off early in the morning before you go to work because later in the day they will be hot.  In these instances you have to know your horse and know whether it is better for them as an individual to be too hot or too cold.  The hard keeper who is lean, gets cold and is stressed easily would probably be better left with the blanket on versus the horse carrying more condition who won’t be at any great detriment if he is a little chilly for a couple of hours.

In summary, horses do adapt to cold over time, according to Dr Cymbaluk of the ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Ontario Canada. However, horses typically require a 10-21 day adaptation period.  A horse’s ability to adapt depends on the duration of the cold weather and the horse’s energy intake.  A horse isn’t going to be able to adapt to a sudden winter storm and so will require more intervention.  Therefore, energy intake is more critical.  Your horse will tell you if he/she is cold, pay attention to the warning signs and make adjustments to hay intake and overall management as necessary to insure that your horse comes out of the winter in good condition.

Dr Clair Thunes, PhD Nutrition. 2005. University of California, DavisMS Animal Science. 1998. University of California, Davis, BSc. Hons. Animal Science. 1997. Edinburgh University. web: summit-equine.com

equi-works

equi-works