Second Wind Horse and Rider

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Tips and Tricks

Regarding dramatic hair loss:

it happens with significant dietary changes. they blow their whole coat at once. some horses just do it with season changes, but that tends to be when the light changes, not the actual weather. That would have been at least month ago. supplements that can help are flax oil, brewer's yeast, biotin, and carrots, plus hand grooming. the constant stimulation that is the result of hand grooming will encourage faster regrowth. and your horse will love it

Some of these comments are excerpts from online discussions. As questions arise, I find it pertinent to include my opinion in this forum.

Regarding hay quality:

Unfortunately, the growers who use shortcuts likes drying agents (usually aluminum based) and coloring additives do not confess. Sellers often don't know. If you've only been exposed to treated hays, you wouldn't have an easy time recognizing them. Our local growers don't use treatment practices as extensively as larger commercial growers do, but they have a significant blow-back issue. Untreated, and improperly dried and stored, much of our local hay goes to waste. I teach my clients how to rate their hay hand-on. There's nothing quite like a side-by-side comparison. Always break down your hay before feeding. Learn to recognize molds, dust, unwanted flora, and artificial quality. Feed may be the single largest cause of health problems in our industry. So many problems can be traced to feed that I am of the opinion that anyone in charge of a horse's care is obligated to get educated. Blaming the grower or marketer is difficult because education is so poor. What they don't know can't be helped. Remember, just like with your children, you are the last line of defense between your horse and the world. Don't hand the responsibility off to someone else - teach yourself. God bless the internet.

Regarding dramatic tissue unjuries:

if its a deep puncture, it'll need to be irrigated. that can be done with a bottle of saline (eye wash), squeezed with pressure directly into the wound. if it happened with something that left dirt, bark, rust, it'll need to be debrided. scrubbing with a soft sponge wet with peroxide or betadine works fine. it should be packed with an oxygen barrier, preferably an antibiotic. neosporin or a generic equivalent works fine, a big glob rubbed in as completely as you can. if nothing else, valseline will suffice. if drainage or pus appears, this process should be repeated, daily if needed. topically, something that includes lidocaine or benzocaine, like a wound spray or dental gel (think baby numzit), can provide direct pain relief. orally, aspirin works as an analgesic, 10-1 ratio of a human dose. you can also pick up an oral antibiotic, usually tetracycline, at the animal food warehouse or similar store. dosing will be included on the package. these are good stop gaps until you can get the wound agent of your choice, and/or the vet. there are many good products on the market. blu-kote, or wound-kote, as mentioned, are excellent. cut-heal is effective, and there are a few new things on the market that people are speaking highly of. the above treatment is meant to be emergency triage that most people can find immediately in their home medical cabinets. i am not a vet, i am rendering advice based on training and personal experience. for a late event that needs to be dealt with immediately, coming to a public forum like this and gathering as much communal advice as possible is an ideal choice. everyone with long term horse experience will have a useful piece to ad. good luck

Regarding non-commercial breeding:

i advise my clients to only breed if they have a life plan for the animal. they deserve it. certainly if we're choosing to bring them into the world, it should be our first responsibility.

Regarding in-fighting among professionals:

its practice. not picking each other apart from the side of the ring. not passing on discussion of people you don't know well. not naming names when you don't agree.

Regarding nuisance insects:

Insect control can be safely managed by the addition of bat boxes (similar to birdhouses), the introduction of predator flies, ladybugs and dragonflies, and goldfish to large water sources. Small amounts of lime to soil and manure piles can greatly inhibit fungal growth, while making your horse's environment unpalatable to nusiance insects. The addition of bee hives can stimulate the reproductive growth of  horse-friendly plants like apple trees and timothy hay. Goats can be lovely paddock companions, while purging your horse property of  dangerous flora.

Regarding winter riding:

its fine. they shouldn't be worked in temps colder than -10, a study done on heat index stresses prior to the Atlanta Olympics revealed that horses can freeze their airways and frost damage their lungs, which was new info. Temp changes aren't an issue, but remember to get that coat completely dry. Blow drying is popular, but whatever you do, do not leave your horse until you are certain that they are not even damp. In severe cold, anyway. We ride hard in the winter. In Switzerland, they even race in the winter. Simply stay attentive

Regarding cribbing:

 i do use calming agents, they're not as powerful as they might seem, but i don't think they approach the cribbing issue at all. it is an addiction, and needs behavioral treatment. some is easy - get him out of the stall, and in an area with nothing to grip with his teeth. when he's actively doing it, i take a pause-reward system. no stress around him with the habit, he doesn't get why its not okay, and no point spending on equipment like collars and metal trim. they don't change the behavior one iota. i start with anything distracting, loud noises, scary objects, favorite treats. as soon as they drop the crib for a moment, they get a treat or a scratch. as long as they're not sucking, good reward keeps up. i start to push the elapsed times from distraction to treat, and reward anytime i'm in range and the horse isn't offending. it is a habit learned visually, so no other cribbers nearby