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Volume 20 • Number 4 www.horse-journal.

com April 2013

Collar or No Collar?
The Cribbing Controversy

Drifting Over
Budget Crunching, Feeding Garlic,
Oleander Poisoning and more . . .
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Volume 20 • Number 4 www.horse-journal.com April 2013

Around The Barn:

The Cribbing Controversy
It’s not a compulsion. It’s actually meeting a physical need.

all it what you want—crib-
bing, crib-biting or wind-suck-
ing—we all know it when we
see it or hear it. The horse latches
onto a horizontal surface with his
front teeth, arches his neck, and
makes a grunting sound while pull-
ing back. Afflicting an estimated 5
to 10% of horses, you’re bound to
see one sooner or later.
Cribbing is often grouped with
other stereotypic behaviors, in-
cluding weaving, stall walking,
self-mutilation and wood chewing.
However, many animal behaviorists
now believe cribbing is more of a
“functional” habit, meaning it meets
a physiological need of the horse.
So what causes cribbing? Most
people believe it’s due to boredom
or mimicry (picking up the habit
from watching another horse do it).
Wrong! Both have been ruled out In some cases, cribbing horses do less damage than actual wood chewers.
by researchers as primary causes.
Exceptions are rare. The more likely MANAGEMENT. It’s unlikely that Common denominators are high-
possible causes are management, any two people maintain their sugar “sweet” feeds composing a
ulcers and heredity. horses in exactly the same manner, large portion of the horse’s diet,
so it’s difficult to isolate a single limited roughage, and long periods
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE component that would trigger crib- with no available feed.
bing. However, researchers agree
2 Editorial that feeding has a lot to do with it. continued on page 3

6 Diagnostic Tools
9 Safety Thought
Consider This . . .
■ Cribbing differs from wood chewing. When a horse cribs,
10 Drifting Over Jumps
he actually grabs the surface and arches his neck. When
12 Budget Crunching he chews wood, he, well, just nibbles or bites the wood.
13 Ask Horse
Journal, Moldy Hay ■ Most horses begin cribbing before the age of 5, so the
proper management of young horses is critical.
14 Feeding Garlic
15 Oleander Poisoning ■ Horses have stopped or greatly lessened their
16 Commentary cribbing, purely with barn management changes.

Cynthia Foley

Associate Editor
Margaret Freeman

Performance Editor
John Strassburger We Need Our Horse Councils
It’s never been more critical.
Contributing Veterinary Editors
Deb M. Eldredge, DVM,
Grant Miller, DVM

Contributing Farrier Editors or many of us, the American AHC membership begins at just
Lee Foley, Steve Kraus, CJF Horse Council (www.horsecoun- $25 per year, and you get a lot for the
cil.org) is an organization we money, including some commercial
Contributing Nutrition Editor
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. know exists. But thatÕs about it. Many discounts.
donÕt even realize there are state horse At the state level, IÕve been amazed at
Contributing Writers councils, too. And thatÕs too bad. The the brilliant ideas underway. The Ken-
Beth Benard, Nancy Butler,
Beth Hyman, Susan Quinn, Esq. American Horse Council (AHC) is an tucky Horse Council promotes how to
incredible organization, and many state recognize horse abuse and abandoned
Editorial Offices groups are pretty amazing as well. horses and what to do about it: Visit:
6538 Van Buren Road
Warners, NY 13164 One of the most important efforts http://www.kentuckyhorse.org/report-
315-468-0627 the AHC makes is through its division ing/ to learn about it. (Yes, people
horsejournal@twcny.rr.com called the ÒUnwanted Horse Coali- actually turn horses loose in the wild,
Subscription Services tion,Ó which focuses on the welfare and humming ÒBorn Free.Ó)
PO Box 420234 safety of homeless horses. Its primary The Virginia Horse Council (www.vir-
Palm Coast, FL 32142 goal is to educate would-be horse own- giniahorsecouncil.org) offers the ÒRide
www.horse-journal.com/cs ers before they plunk down $500 to Alert 24/7 Emergency Identification
purchase a horse they actually canÕt Support ServiceÓ as part of its mem-
Reprints and Web-Posting affordÑa horse that then often ends up bership package. It gives you a unique
Jennifer Knapp
JKnapp@aimmedia.com falling on bad times. As the old say- wristband ID Device, which is recorded
ing goes, ÒStop whining that you canÕt with the Ride Alert 24/7 Emergency
Horse Journal™ (ISSN No. 1097-6949; usps save enough money to buy a horse. If Support Team (www.ridealert.us).
011-874) is published monthly by Cruz Bay
Publishing, LLC, an Active Interest Media you canÕt buy a horse, you sure as heck Like many state groups, the Iowa
company. The known office of publica- canÕt afford to care for it.Ó Horse Council (www.iowahorsecoun-
tion is at 475 Sansome St., Suite 850, San The AIM Equine NetworkÑof which cil.org) is working on keeping horse
Francisco, CA 94111. Periodicals postage
paid at San Francisco, CA and at addition- Horse Journal is partÑbegan its ÒA trails available. (Parents, they also offer
al mailing offices. Copyright © 2013, Cruz Home For Every HorseÓ program in a scholarship program!)
Bay Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. partnership with the AHCÕs Unwanted I will tell you that not all the state
Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly
prohibited. Printed in U.S.A. Revenue
Horse Coalition. You can visit www. councils I investigated were impres-
Canada GST Account #128044658. equine.com and click on the ÒRescueÓ sive. If your stateÕs group is one of
tab to see the astonishing number of those, maybe it would be worth your
Subscriptions: $49 annually (12 issues).
Single copies are $8. Bulk rate subscrip-
wonderful horses looking for a perma- time to get involved and revive it. ItÕs
tions for organizations and educational nent home. But, IÕm warning you, itÕll more important than ever to support
institutions are available upon request. tear your heart out. these organizations to keep
Postmaster: Please send address changes If youÕre a horse business, trails open, equine laws fair and
to Horse Journal, PO Box 420235, Palm
Coast, FL 32142. Canadian changes to you should be aware of what to protect horses.
Horse Journal, PO Box 39, Norwich, ON, the American Horse Council
N0J 1P0. Canada Publishing Agreement does for us legislatively, with
Number #40016479.
issues like horseback riding in
Horse Journal™ makes every effort to pro- parks, taxes and equine busi-
vide information on horse health, care nesses, liability and insurance Cynthia Foley
and treatment that is authoritative, re-
liable and practical. It is not intended, laws, even USDA rules. Editor-in-Chief
however, to replace diagnosis or treat-
ment by a veterinarian or other qualified
health professional. Horse Journal does The goal of Horse Journal is to provide practical solutions and hands-on information our readers
not assume any legal responsibility. Read- can take into the barn and use. We work to make bottom-line recommendations on products we
ers should always consult qualified health believe will best serve our readers while standing firm with a back-to-the-basics philosophy on
care providers for specific diagnosis and
treatment. training, nutrition and horse care. We base our evaluations on field trials, research and experience.
Horse Journal does not accept commercial advertising.
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Efrem Zimbalist III CHAIRMAN AND CEO 2 Horse Journal April 2013
Brian Sellstrom SENIOR VP AND CFO

The Story of Three Cribbers

continued from page 1

When cribbers are fed a “sweet-

ened feed” (pellets are usually Over many years of breeding,
bound together with molasses), they I produced three cribbers,
crib 30% of the day vs. 16% of the Robo, Len and Nasdaq, repre-
day when fed plain oats as their senting 8% of my foals. None
grain concentrate. Sweets, even had parents that cribbed,
apples and carrots, trigger cribbing although all three had a
so reliably they’re used to test drug grandsire that did. (Robo and
efficacy for cribbing reduction. Len were full brothers. None
The lack of forage also has an im- of the other eight full siblings
pact on the frequency of cribbing. from that cross cribbed.)
Research in the United Kingdom
Robo and Len were fed a Note what a gentle grip Len has on the wood.
demonstrated feeding grain caused
molasses-based, foal-specific
the study horses to increase their
grain at weaning. Nasdaq got Triple Crown Lite. (I’d gotten smarter by
cribbing behavior from a baseline of
then.) They all had free-choice hay.
11 cribbings in 5 minutes to 24 crib-
bings in 5 minutes and the duration All three were initially maintained as stallions for possible breeding
of this elevation was 40 minutes. use. Although they received dawn-to-dusk turnout on good pasture,
After being fed forage, cribbing fell Robo and Len’s only social contacts, starting as yearlings, were across-
to 5 attempts in 5 minutes and the the-fence interactions. Nasdaq was turned out with young geldings.
decrease lasted for 50 minutes.
Foals fed a concentrate after wean- All three began cribbing around age 4½. Robo started after he was
ing are four times more likely to be- sold and boarded at a facility with a two feedings/day regimen and a
come cribbers than foals fed forage small dirt paddock. Len began cribbing when his turnout time was cut
only. So, if you want the recipe to in half, in spite of generous hay and six hours on pasture.
produce a cribber, it’s: early wean-
ing, a high concentrate/low forage Nasdaq began during a brutal winter, even though he was hayed four
diet, infrequent feedings, social times per day. He was immediately placed in a cribbing strap. When
isolation and a stall environment. the strap came off six months later, he resumed infrequent cribbing—
but ONLY when outside. Interestingly, all three started cribbing about
ULCERS. Since the advent of 5 months after being gelded.
endoscopy for horses, the link
between ulcers and cribbing has After successful careers, both Robo and Len retired here. Robo was
strengthened, but no one will state ulcer-prone during his 17 years of competition and had two minor
unequivocally that one causes the impaction colics in his entire life. He’s now 25. Len, 21, is susceptible
other. Many horses with ulcers to gas colic if fed coarse hay. They aren’t restricted from cribbing,
don’t crib, and some cribbers don’t although there is angle iron on their stalls to prevent damage. Other
have ulcers. than the dental wear, both are healthy. They rarely crib on pasture
We know foals who crib have during grazing, but cribbing ramps up again throughout the winter.
more serious stomach ulceration Beth Benard, Contributing Writer
than foals that don’t. We also know
that cribbing stimulates the vagus
nerve, which increases stomach pH.
And we know a cribber’s motiva-
Success With Time
tion to crib is equal to his motiva- I believe that much of a cribber’s problem is due to ulcers com-
tion to eat. bined with the environmental stress of not being allowed to live
There is a widely held apocryphal like a horse. With the cribber in our family, we decided to imple-
belief that cribbing releases saliva ment strict management changes. He was given maximum turn-
that then buffers stomach acid. out in a healthy pasture with a variety of grasses. Forage was fed
One small study (two horses with free-choice and available 24/7, nutrition was optimal, with no sweet
cannulated parotid glands) demon- feeds, cereal grains, or sweet treats. He did not wear a cribbing
strated the opposite: after 20 crib- collar, nor did we use any paints or other crutches. We made sure
bing efforts, only 1 ml (5 ml = 1 tsp.) he enjoyed socializing with other horses, with plenty of room to
of saliva was produced; by compari- roam, and received regular exercise. His attempts at cribbing were
son, 31 ml of saliva was produced ignored. It took nearly three years of incredible patience to finally
while consuming 200 grams of say he had stopped cribbing, but it was worth every bit of effort.
grain. It has been found, however, Dr. Juliet Getty, Nutrition Editor
that cribbers have a lower baseline
level of saliva than non-cribbers.

Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013 3


To Crib or Not To Crib

Few horses ever completely stop cribbing once
they have the habit. The need to crib is physi-
ological. For that reason, a growing segment of
experts believe horses are better off cribbing
when they feel the “need” and that not being able
to crib only makes things worse.
If you decide to let him crib freely, you still need
to help him kick the habit. Stick rigidly to maxi-
mum turnout on grass, socialization with other
horses, exercise, and no sweets. It could take a
year or more to lessen, and you still may see it
sometimes even after that, but it should become The Dare Collar.
less frequent. (Winter is particularly difficult.)
If you can’t make these changes and don’t want
to allow him to crib, there are commercial op-
tions. However, the paints, vile concoctions, and
noxious sprays we’ve painted on potential crib-
bing surfaces were mostly a waste of time and
money. A desperate horse will crib on his own
knee if necessary.
Electric fences help outdoors, but you shouldn’t
use that in a stall. You’ll just make him more
stressed and desperate to crib. There are surger-
ies to make the horse physically unable to crib,
but we find them ethically questionable.
Anti-cribbing muzzles work but can get expen- The Miracle Collar.
sive. A study done at Cornell demonstrated hors-
es apply an average of 30 kg of force every time they crib. Your muzzled horse will still try to crib, and the force
he puts on the muzzle will eventually bend it. (Grazing muzzles aren’t suitable, as the hole rapidly enlarges.)
Our advice—if you can’t let him go “cold turkey” because of colic concerns or barn rules or something else—is
an anti-cribbing collar, although you still should make those important management changes.

Anti-Cribbing Collars Horse Journal Editor’s Choice

Device Cost Comments

Barclay anti-cribbing collar $157- This emits a low voltage charge whenever the horse attempts to crib. The manufacturer claims it’s no
www.barclayscollar.com $210 stronger than the shock from static electricity or a “bug zapper.” The website also offers instruction
(located in Australia) for adding additional wiring to the sides of the strap if the basic set-up is not effective. It comes with
Best Choices

nylon sides for $157 or with stainless steel/leather sides for $210, which includes shipping.

Dare Cribbing Collar $75 This is a single leather strap with a rectangular box-like attachment at the throat that presses into the
www.schutzbrothers.com horse’s airway when he attempts to crib. Because of the placement of the leather-covered box, this
800-348-0576 collar does not need to be attached as tightly as regular collars.

Weaver Miracle Collar $45 This has two straps—the usual one at the throatlatch, and another across the horse’s brow in front of
his ears. Both straps hold a leather-covered metal throat plate in place. Available in several sizes and
800-932-8371 with an optional fleece covering. This collar is widely considered to be effective.

Equipe Cribbing Strap $200 Uses two straps, one across the horse’s brow in front of his ears and the other behind the ears. Comes
www.laselleria.com fully lined with natural sheepskin for comfort.
Contact your retailer.

French Cribbing Strap. Generic $30 This thick leather strap has a steel plate at the throat area and needs to be applied quite snugly to be
design. Contact your retailer. effective. We prefer other designs.

Nutcracker style collar. Generic $25 This has uncovered, hinged metal at the throat with a single strap. The strap is designed to prevent
design. Contact your retailer. the horse from completing the throat and neck motions necessary to crib. We prefer other designs.

4 Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013


Administering antacids to crib-

bers does raise the pH of the Should You Buy A Cribber?
stomach (making it less acidic), but
it doesn’t reduce the frequency of Most people hold strong opinions about cribbing. But, surprisingly,
cribbing. According to a spokes- some with direct experience with cribbers respond more favorably to
person at Merial, the company that them. One survey revealed people who have owned them in the past
makes the ulcer medicine Gastro- would not be put off purchasing or caring for another cribber.
Gard, no studies have been done
to determine the efficacy of their Years ago, thee-day event legend Denny Emerson asked famous
product on reducing cribbing. riders to name the horse they would choose to ride “if their life de-
Cribbing may be the horse’s at- pended on it.” He then asked what the horses themselves were like.
tempt to release saliva—particular- Almost to a person, the riders described the horses as “tough,” “dif-
ly in the absence of roughage—but ficult” and “tense.” And most of them were cribbers.
the amount of time spent cribbing
can interfere with roughage intake
Great horses are not often easy horses. They have big egos and idio-
when it is available, causing in-
syncrasies and quirks and foibles. Horses of a lifetime do exist, but
creased ulceration and weight loss.
only for riders so skillful, tactful and courageous that they can unlock
and then reveal the brilliance of their equine partners,” Emerson
HEREDITY. There seems to be concluded. So, weigh the purchase of a horse who cribs carefully, but
little doubt among researchers that
consider this: If you change his life, he might just change yours.
cribbing has a heritable component.
Among breeds, Thoroughbreds hold
the distinction of having the largest Cribbing and Your Horse’s Health
population of cribbers (8.3 to 10%).
However, don’t blame racing. Stan- Science has confirmed at least one old-time cribbing belief: Cribbers
dardbreds, which undergo similar are prone to colic, making them largely uninsurable due to their high
training, feeding and housing regi- risk of mortality.
men, have a much lower incidence.
Several studies have confirmed But gas colic isn’t the prob-
a high incidence of cribbing in lem, as the horse doesn’t
dressage horses. This discipline swallow air. In fact, it’s the
includes many warmbloods, who, release of air from the back
by definition, trace back to Thor- of the throat that causes
oughbreds. School, pleasure and the distinctive cribbing
endurance horses have the lowest grunt. Researchers claim
reported pools of cribbers. a horse swallows air after
No one has yet documented the cribbing only when he cribs
method of inheritance. It does ap- while eating. No study has
pear to be somewhat genetic, and proven cribbers are more
we know it skips generations. Nev- likely to have gas colic than
ertheless, we can’t state strongly any other horse.
enough that cribbers should never
There may, however, be an Note the wear on this 25-year-old cribber’s teeth.
be bred, regardless of their confor-
increased occurrence of im-
mation or potential.
paction colic. When horses are prevented from cribbing by whatever
means, gastric motility decreases, setting up an environment ripe for
BOTTOM LINE. If you have a crib- both ulcers and impaction.
ber, make every effort to keep forage
or pasture available at all times, us- The most serious colic associated with cribbers is called epiploic
ing “slow feeders.” Toss out all the foramen entrapment (EFE). This is the most common cause of small
“sweet” feeds and treats. Check for intestine strangulation, a surgical emergency. Cribbers are 10 times
ulcers, and maximize turnout on more likely to have EFE than non-cribbers. Even with timely surgical
quality pasture with good buddies. intervention, only 78% of these horses survive to discharge, and only
Cribbing is still a controversial 34% are alive 2 years later.
topic, as there truly is no one cor-
rect answer. That said, experts Cribbing can also cause mechanical damage to the horse, including
agree that whether you use a collar abnormal muscular development and stylo-hyoid osteoarthritis of the
or choose not to, you still owe it to horse’s jaw, both of which can make bitting a challenge. Dental wear
your horse to make those critical is an obvious complication, with unusual wear patterns on the inci-
management changes. sors. Few horses progress to the point where they are unable to graze,
Article by Contributing Writer Beth however, and the grinding teeth—the molars—are unaffected.

Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013 5


Veterinary Care: tal radiography, the plate transmits

an image to a laptop computer right

Veterinary Diagnostic Tools there on the farm. Advantages

include: Superior image quality and
the instant ability to retake a shot if
it didn’t turn out well.
Your understanding of the pros and cons of • With the advent of digital tech-
nology, the price of radiographs has
these high-tech devices may save you money. increased significantly. Not much

more to say about that. We all just
ave you ever gotten lost in have to grin and bear it.
the conversation with your • When taking radiographs, it’s
veterinarian when he or she wise to wear lead shielding if
mentions the need to “do a nuke possible (it’s a necessity if you’re
scan” or “ultrasound” on your pregnant). Examples of protective
horse? Incredibly, some owners equipment include aprons, gloves
don’t even ask why a certain diag- and thyroid shields. If you aren’t
nostic procedure is needed. assisting, stand at least 10 feet away
On the flip side of the coin, veteri- while the images are being taken in
narians often gloss over diagnostic order to minimize “scatter” radia-
terms, thinking you already under- tion exposure.
stand them. You should always ask • Although radiographs primarily
your vet about anything you’re not look at bone, they can be used to
sure about, but sometimes you need detect masses in the head as well.
at least a little knowledge to even • The “field units” that veteri-
ask a question. narians bring to the farm are only
powerful enough to look at legs and
Digital radiography provides high detail
RADIOGRAPHY. Out of all the real-time images of bones. They enable
feet, the head and neck, and the
diagnostic modalities, the “x-ray,” vets to find problems such as the one in this withers. Other body parts like the
aka radiography, is the most well- hock joint (circled) right on the farm. backbone, the thorax (heart and
known. However, veterinarians lungs) and the abdomen (liver, kid-
rarely use the term “x-ray” because of cooperation needed to take the neys, spleen, etc.) can only be im-
that term only refers to the radio- pictures. By sedating the horse, the aged by a powerful wall-mounted
active beam taking the picture. veterinarian and expensive equip- unit found in equine hospitals.
Radiographs refer to the actual ment are safer, and everyone will • Even wall-mounted units can’t
photograph of the body part. be exposed to less radiation because generate a beam powerful enough
To take a radiograph, the horse pesky “retakes” can be avoided. to penetrate through the hips and
must hold still. In many cases, And your pocketbook will benefit, pelvis of a standing horse, however.
the veterinarian will sedate the too, as vets charge for each shot. • Sometimes, to look at the bones
horse in order to achieve the level Veterinarians will commonly take in the foot, the horse’s shoe will
radiographs first when have to come off. Grin and bear it.
trying to determine lame-
ness. This is because ULTRASOUND. The ultrasound
most equine lameness (or “sonogram”) is the second most
cases are bone/joint-relat- common diagnostic tool used
ed, making radiography a in equine practice. Ultrasound
handy on-the-farm tool. machines are digital and com-
Radiology Reality: pact—often smaller than a laptop
• Because many veteri- computer! They’re used to look at
narians get into a routine, soft-tissue structures in most in-
they can sometimes stances. Examples include tendons
forget to ask you if you’re and ligaments, eyes, the heart, lung
pregnant before taking surfaces, internal organs, and the
radiographs. If you’re ovaries and fetus.
pregnant or even could Ultrasound is a dynamic diag-
be, speak up and let the nostic modality, as it’s more like
veterinarian know! a video than a photograph. It can
• Digital radiography is evaluate how the heart beats, and
widely considered to be even watch direction of blood flow
superior to conventional
Digital radiographs being taken of a horse’s neck. analog films. With digi- continued on page 8

6 Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013


How Do These Diagnostic Devices Work?

Radiography/X-ray: The radiograph image is generated when an imaging plate is placed on one side of the
body part, and the X-ray machine is pointed at it from the other side. When the veterinarian pushes the but-
ton to take the image, a radioactive beam is shot out from the x-ray machine, through the body part, and the
image is captured on the plate.
Ultrasounds: The head of an ultrasound probe has crystals in it that vibrate. When they vibrate, they cause
sound to be released. That sound is directed into the tissue that is being examined. It then bounces off the
tissue and comes back to the probe head. The crystals are then able to measure the time and intensity at
which the sound returns, and then translate that into an image on the computer screen. In a way, it is kind of
like whales and dolphins using sonar in the dark of the ocean to let them know what is around them.
CT Scan/Cat Scan: A CT machine looks somewhat like a gigantic donut with a diving board in the middle. CT
scanning requires the horse to be down, flat out, and under general anesthesia. When scanning the head and
neck, the horse is on his back with his chin outstretched. When looking at a limb, he’s on his side. The ma-
chine works in a similar manner to radiography in the sense that it utilizes ionizing radiation to penetrate and
“photograph” the body tissues. Inside the donut is a camera and a digital “film cassette.” It rotates around the
patient and takes thousands of images in seconds. Those images are all pieced together by a computer to get
a comprehensive 360° characterization of the body part.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging/MRI: MRI works by creating a strong magnetic field when electricity is
passed through wire loops (hence, a magnet). While this is happening, other coils in the magnet send and
receive radio waves. This triggers protons in the body to align themselves. Once aligned, radio waves are
absorbed by the protons, which stimulate spinning. Energy is released after “exciting” the molecules, which in
turn emits energy signals that are picked up by the coil. This information is then sent to a computer that pro-
cesses all the signals and translates them into an image. The final product is a 3-D image representation of the
area being examined. It creates an incredibly accurate and detailed depiction of the body tissue.
Nuclear Scintigraphy: Nuclear scintigraphy utilizes a gamma camera that picks up on gamma radiation
that leaves the body after a special radioactive dye is injected into the horse’s bloodstream. The camera has
crystals in it that scintillate (glow) when they’re struck by gamma photons that a horse emits from its tissues.
The idea is that inflamed tissue will absorb more radioactive dye from the blood. In the end, when the horse is
scanned, areas of inflammation light up as hot spots on the image. Although the images are somewhat crude,
they’re very effective in illuminating areas of inflammation in both soft tissue and in bone.
Thermal Camera: A thermal camera basically looks like a video camera. But, when the thermographer looks
at the horse through the camera, he or she sees light being emitted from the horse in the infrared region of
the light spectrum. Infrared light isn’t reflected but rather emitted from objects. In other words, it’s heat. That
heat, or inflammation, shows up as emitting more light (aka hotter).

Name Slang Terms Primary Use Secondary Use Parts of Body Location Ballpark Cost

Radiography X-Ray Looks at bones, especially Can see masses in the Head, neck, withers, Farm or Depends, but it can run
the legs and feet. sinus and brain. legs and feet. hospital. $500 to $800.

Ultrasound Sonogram Looks at soft-tissue Reproduction, thoracic Just about anywhere Farm or Usually $300 to $500.
musculoskeletal structures and abdominal organs in the body. hospital.
like tendons and ligaments. and rim of pelvis, neck
and spine.

Computed CT Scan or High quality image of Moderate detail for Head, first part of Hospital Usually $2,000 to
Tomography CAT Scan bones (legs, head, and first soft-tissue imaging (legs, neck, and legs. only. $3,000.
few neck vertebrae). head, first few vertebrae).

Magnetic MRI Very high quality detailed Moderate detail quality Depending on system, Hospital Usually $1,500 to
Resonance imaging of soft tissue. for imaging bone. limted to knee down only. $3,000.
Imaging or pastern down.

Nuclear Nuclear Scan, To find inflammation None. Anywhere in the body. Hospital Usually $2,000 to
Scintigraphy “Nuke Scan,” only. $3,000.

Thermal Thermal Scan To look for inflammation by None. Anywhere in the body. Farm or Usually runs between
Camera tissue temperature. hospital. $150 and $250.

Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013 


continued from page 6 likely to have an accurate diagno-

sis of the severity of the injury.
with technology called “color dop- In other words, a soft-tissue in-
pler.” One of our favorite uses of jury can look mild on ultrasound
ultrasound is seeing the heartbeat on day 1, but if you come back a
of a neonatal foal! week later and look again, it can
Ultrasound Pointers: look much more severe. This is
• Rectal ultrasound (as performed important because the extent of
routinely in breeding practices) the injury often will determine
comes with risk. When the vet- the course of treatment.
erinarian gently slides his or her
arm inside the rectum, there’s a CompuTEd TomogRAphY. A CT image of a horse’s foot.
risk of tearing the rectal wall. In This diagnostic method can be
most cases, this is fatal to the horse. thought of as “3D Radiographs on incredibly high level of detail when
Again, sedation can help reduce the Steroids.” Sometimes known as a looking at soft tissue and slightly
likelihood of a tear because it will “CT” or “Cat Scan,” this imaging less detail when looking at bone.
relax the mare and stop her from system looks in high detail at bone. It is commonly used to identify
straining against the veterinarian. It can be used to assess bone in a soft-tissue injuries inside the hoof
• Ultrasound isn’t as easy as it three-dimensional aspect, such as capsule.
looks. If the probe isn’t held cor- with a catastrophic injury to a joint. MRI is performed in a hospital set-
rectly, it can make the image on CT scanning requires the horse to ting, although we’re seeing mobile
the screen look like it is damaged. be unconscious and flat out under MRI clinics in the form of a semi-
With just a slight change in angle, general anesthesia. Some equine truck and trailer popping up. MRI
the image can change dramati- hospitals use CT guidance when can be performed in a heavily se-
cally. Therefore, looking at soft-tis- performing intricate procedures dated standing horse, or in a horse
sue structures from several beam such as injecting stem cells into the that is under general anesthesia and
angles is essential to ruling an foot or into a small tendon or liga- lying down.
injury in or out. ment. It’s also used frequently on Some controversy exists as to
• While some ultrasound ma- horses with dental issues. The CT which method and machine is more
chines can image soft-tissue struc- scan helps veterinarians determine accurate. Either way, MRI provides
tures through hair soaked with which teeth are involved and the the veterinarian with an incred-
rubbing alcohol, superior imagery is extent of the issue. ibly accurate depiction of the body
achieved when the hair is clipped. CT Bites: tissue.
• Diagnostic ultrasound (low- • There is a risk in anesthetiz- MRI Tips:
intensity sound waves) is often ing the horse (albeit a small one). • It doesn’t involve any radiation
times confused with therapeutic There are also risks associated with like CT scan or radiographs.
ultrasound (aka “acoustic shock- horses waking up from anesthesia • The horse can’t have any metal
wave”), which is a high-intensity (injuries, etc.). on or in the body part being exam-
wave emission (more on therapeutic • Sometimes the veterinarians ined. Horses with screws and/or
ultrasound in an upcoming issue). will use a contrast dye to enhance plates in a pastern for instance,
The two are quite different. Diag- an image. The dyes are either can’t have that pastern put into an
nostic ultrasound has no therapeu- injected into a joint or into the MRI machine. Similarly, all shoes
tic capabilities whatsoever. bloodstream. They’re generally safe. must be off.
• We commonly use ultrasound (Always check to see if your insur- • In order for an MRI to be accu-
to diagnose tendon or ligament ance will cover a CT scan. Some rate, the horse must be completely
injuries in the leg and foot. Keep do. See October 2012 issue for more still. As mentioned, some machines
in mind that waiting to ultrasound information.) are set up for the horse to be com-
an injury until seven or more days pletely knocked out and laying
after it occurs may be beneficial in mAgNETIC REsoNANCE ImAg- down under general anesthesia.
terms of the information that you INg. This diagnostic tool, fre- Other machines allow the horse
can gather. If you have a horse with quently termed “MRI,” provides an to stand. But be prepared! The
a swollen leg, the veterinarian amount of sedation to get the
will likely have you ice the horse to stand completely still
leg, give the horse NSAIDS, can be significant.
put a wrap on it, and have the • Sometimes veterinarians
horse stand still in a stall until will inject the horse with a
it gets under control. If the contrast medium (a dye for lack
swollen limb is ultrasounded of a better term) in order to en-
right away, you’re likely to see hance the imaging capabilities
the injury. However, if you of the MRI. Very few adverse
wait about a week, you’re more An MRI image of a horse’s foot. reactions in horses have been

 Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013


reported. (Check to see if your in- Nuclear Scintigraphy Pointers: tive dye. A thermal camera, on the
surance will pay for an MRI.) • It can find inflammation only. other hand, can be used right on
We all know that pain is associated the farm and doesn’t involve any
NUCLEAR SCINTIGRAPHY. Hors- with inflammation, so if a nuclear injected substances.
es that have lameness coming from scan finds “hot spots,” those are Animals emit infrared light radia-
multiple locations, or lameness likely sources of pain. But not all tion as a result of normal physi-
coming from “who knows where” pain is due to inflammation. For ological processes. Because tissue
often end up in front of a Gamma instance, nerves can be irritated or metabolism speeds up in inflamed
Camera (also known as Nuke/Nuc impinged with no accompanying areas, they show up through the
Scanning). With this tool, a horse inflammation. So, even if the scan thermal camera as an area that is
is injected with a radioactive dye. comes out clean, it doesn’t neces- emitting more light (aka hotter)
During exact time intervals, a spe- sarily mean your horse is pain-free. than others when a horse is being
cial gamma camera is then used to • The radioactive isotope dye is viewed through the camera. There-
take photographs of the horse. safe to inject. Side effects are rarely fore, a thermal camera can be use-
Gamma cameras pick up on gam- reported. ful for evaluating inflamed areas.
ma radiation that leaves the body • A lot of horse owners decide to Thermography Facts:
after a special radioactive dye is in- “go for gusto” and get whole-body • As promising as this diagnostic
jected into the horse’s bloodstream. nuclear scans performed when modality sounds, it has many cave-
The general idea is that inflamed their horse may really only be lame ats. For instance, the horse needs
tissue will have a more dramatic or in one part of the body. to be trotted for about 10 minutes
energetic release of gamma radia- In most of these cases, the horse in order for the camera to “see”
tion due to an increased metabo- is insured, and the insurance is inflamed areas more clearly. Also,
lism that will absorb more radioac- paying for the scan. OK, but we a thermal image can be heavily
tive dye from the blood. Areas of advise you to think long and hard influenced by ambient temperature.
inflammation light up as hot spots about “full body scans” and only do Therefore, imaging needs to be
on the image. them when necessary. Reason: If done in a relatively narrow tem-
For horses with back and spine the insurance company gets a full perature range.
pain, or pain coming from the pel- body scan that shows 15 areas of • There are dozens of thermal
vic region, nuclear scanning can be significant inflammation, don’t be imaging systems on the market, at
useful. If a horse has poly-arthritis surprised if those areas get written many different price points. How-
(inflammation in multiple joints), out of your renewal contract. They ever, it’s the interpretation of the
nuclear scanning does a good job at count as “pre-existing conditions” results that makes a difference in
determining which “wheels are the whether they are clinically bother- your horse’s health. This practice
squeakiest.” ing your horse or not. shouldn’t be performed without
Scintigraphy can be performed veterinary supervision.
with the horse standing, but the THERMAL CAMERA. It’s easy to • Thermal cameras give owners a
horse is heavily sedated in order confuse nuclear scintigraphy with hint about possible problem areas
to achieve stillness. Scintigraphy a thermal camera, probably because in their horses, but they aren’t a
is only performed in a hospital they both help to locate inflamma- final diagnostic tool. Rather, they
setting, and health regulations tion. The similarities stop there, may help to confirm or refute clini-
require that the horse remain in the however. cal findings in a horse and serve
hospital for a period of time (like Scintigraphy is performed in a as a precursor to other advanced
24 hours) after the scan in order to hospital and involves a highly tech- diagnostics.
void all of the radioactive dye from nical photograph of the horse after Article by Contributing Veterinary
its body via urination. he has been injected with radioac- Editor Grant Miller, DVM.

Safety Thought:
Don’t Get Tripped Up
Spurs are for when you’re riding only.

nce you’re done riding for the day, even if you keep on your heeled
boots, be sure to remove your spurs, especially if they are long-
shanked ones. It’s too easy to trip over your own feet while wearing
spurs. Don’t even think about climbing the stairs or a ladder into the loft
while wearing spurs. The same goes for longeing, where you can not only
trip making a tight turn, but it is easy for the end of the line to get caught
on the spur (although it shouldn’t drop that low to begin with).

Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013 9


Performance: lean toward his “good” leg, endeav-

oring to get his less sore leg down

Straightness Is Critical
to the ground first, to alleviate the
force of landing.
If the horse has always exhibited a

When You’re Airborne drift, then he’s most likely demon-

strating a long-standing weakness.
The source of this weakness can be
benign (a young horse is simply left-
These exercises teach your horse not to drift. or right-handed and needs more

strength to become even) or
umping to one side more serious (a soundness
or the other is a issue). If the horse suddenly
common problem— develops a drift, call in your
one with many poten- veterinarian right away. If a
tial causes and just as young or unfit horse demon-
many possible cures. strates a chronic drift, work
A horse who lacks through some of the exercises
straightness over his we describe here, and if you
fences can get himself see no improvement, or wors-
and his rider into a ening, consult your veterinar-
host of problems—from ian or equine chiropractor.
missing a carefully Always check the fit of your
chosen line to the saddle, too. Uneven pressure
next fence, to jumping on his back can cause a horse
awkwardly, to knock- to twist or drift in the air.
ing down a rail, and to
incurring a refusal or a RIDER IMPACT. If you’re
run-out. This problem, sure that your horse doesn’t
commonly called “drift- have a physical reason for his
ing,” requires focused the lack of straightness, then
consideration on the the next place to check is at
part of riders and train- yourself, the rider. Although
ers, but once cured the The double X oxer, with rails on the ground in front, encourages the we often imagine horses
result will be a horse horse to push off evenly with his hind legs. as too big and strong to be
who jumps far better influenced by our weight or
than before. the horse will push off the sore leg balance, that’s often not true.
Several factors can cause a horse less, therefore the “good” leg will Often, it’s simply a case of inex-
to drift over his jumps, and de- push more, causing the horse to perience. As a rider learns the ins
termining why it’s occurring will leave the ground unevenly, creating and outs of jumping, it’s natural to
determine which of the numerous the drift. So a horse with pain in have some missteps with their own
remedies are most likely to solve the right hind leg will push himself balance, which can affect the horse.
the problem. to the right over the jump by using But a horse losing his straightness
the left leg more. can also be indicative of a rider’s
PHYSICAL REASONS. The first Another potential source of a own physical problems.
cause of drifting can be a physi- sudden drift can be a sore front Ask yourself these questions:
cal problem with the horse. If a limb that the horse doesn’t want to  Are you keeping your weight
previously straight-jumping horse land on (usually the lower leg, most evenly balanced in both stirrups?
suddenly develops a drift, the first often the hoof). In this case, the  When you break over in the
place to look is the hind limb on place to look is the opposite front air, are you keeping your chin cen-
the same side as the drift. That is, leg from the drift, as the horse will tered over the horse’s neck, or are
you ducking to one side of the neck
or another?
Consider This . . .  Are your legs equally closed
on the horse’s sides, keeping you
■ Determine the cause of the drift to pinpoint how to fix it. balanced?
This is where an experienced
■ The solution depends on the horse and rider’s experience. trainer is extremely valuable.
Experienced eyes on the ground
■ Always factor in the rider’s balance and fit of the tack. can pinpoint things a rider is doing
to negatively influence the horse’s

10 Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013


balance and trajectory. If you have jump itself. The good, old-fash-
no access to such help, ask a friend ioned crossrail is the most basic Encourage Straightness
with a video camera to provide example of this, but a crossrail can
footage for you to study, to see if also be used to construct an X-oxer.
you can pinpoint where the prob- You can also raise or lower one side
lem lies. Head-on shots may be the of the X, or bring the standards in
most valuable, but footage from narrower, to make the lower/jump-
every angle, including behind, can able area of the fence bigger or
give you clues. smaller. Younger or greener horses
should have a wider low, jump-
BAD HABITS DIE HARD. If your able space than more experienced
A placing rail in front of the first
horse has a chronic drift and you’ve horses. (Although the crossrail is crossrail sets the horse up for this two-
ruled out physical causes, then the a standard competition warm-up stride (30-foot) combination.
unfortunate answer may be that fence, young horses often struggle
it’s a training fault—someone has to understand that they aren’t to
allowed your horse to develop a bad jump the top of the X.)
habit. If this is the case with your The crossrail can also be used to
horse, then you have to think in construct two types of oxers to help
terms of retraining his attitude, as keep the horse straight. The first
well as his body. is a crossrail oxer—an oxer with a
To understand when and why straight rail behind it. The second
a horse drifts over fences, we is an X oxer—two crossrails set Two rails, placed in V shape against
must understand the mechanics parallel to each other. The crossrail the jump, lead the horse straight to the
of a horse’s jump. Drifting occurs oxer is a more optically encourag- center.
most commonly when a horse ap- ing choice for younger or less expe-
proaches a fence and finds that he’s rienced horses and riders, while the
going to end up at a deep distance, X oxer is a useful choice for more
close to the base of the fence. This experienced horses, as it forces
is a distance that requires the them to maintain their straightness
most effort from the horse, requir- over a fence with width.
ing him to really rock back, hold Level 2: Poles on the ground,
himself off the fence and use his perpendicular to the fence. You
hind end powerfully. A horse that can place guide poles on the ground This gymnastic combination—a cross-
doesn’t want to work that hard (due on the take-off side of the fence, rail, one stride, to a crossrail oxer—re-
to laziness, pain, lack of strength and, depending on the horse, you quires horses to hold a straight line.
or lack of experience) will usually
give himself more room to jump the
fence by drifting, thus making the Making the Rider Straight
act of jumping easier.
So, in order to teach the horse to A rider who has jumped for years by ducking and becoming unbal-
jump straight, you have to be able anced will require diligent work to correct those issues. But a newly
to convince him to work harder to developed case of crookedness should be easier to fix.
jump correctly. Once you’ve taught
him the correct technique, it should Before you try to fix your own straightness over fences, get straight
be much easier for you to keep him on the flat. Make sure your stirrups are even, for starters. Then ride
straight with your aids. without stirrups, practicing sitting evenly on both seat bones, while
keeping your hips and shoulders even and your head centered be-
A PROGRESSION. When you’re tween your shoulder blades. Even better, ride without stirrups on the
planning exercises to teach your longe line.
horse to jump straight, view them
as a progression of difficulty. Start The surest method to improve your position over fences is to prac-
with the more straightforward tice jumping low grids without stirrups, concentrating on staying in
exercises and progress to the more the middle of your horse as your hips and body follow him over the
difficult ones when you’re ready. jumps. But a certain level of strength and skill is required to make this
The purpose of these exercises is exercise safe and worthwhile.
to teach the horse to jump straight
without you working hard to do it. You can also practice your position over low gymnastic grids with
The rails should do it for you. stirrups. Concentrate on keeping both your heels down, on weighting
Level 1: Jump construction. The your stirrups evenly, on keeping your hips and shoulders level, and on
first step to improving straightness keeping your eyes up by looking straight between your horse’s ears at
in the air is the construction of the something in the distance.

Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013 11


can also place them on the landing Veterinary Viewpoint:

side. For a dedicated drifter, you’ll
need poles on both sides. For a
young or inexperienced horse, rails
on just the take-off side should be
Budget Crunching
Start with them set rather wide,
Pinching pennies is always a sound idea.

say a quarter of the way in on each
side. For a younger horse just need- opeful signs say the economy Open supplements are best used up
ing guidance, that may be enough, is improving, but for many of within 30 days.
but for a more dedicated drifter, us it’s still tough financially. Search out sources of fresh grass.
you’ll need to progressively roll the But there are ways to economize You might find a vacant field nearby
poles in farther, until the “lane” without jeopardizing your horse’s you could “rent” for grazing. If so,
between them is only slightly wider health. Let’s look at the essentials: look at your local freebie listings for
than the width of the horse’s body. Vaccines: Talk to your veterinar- inexpensive movable fence. If your
Level 3: Poles on the fence. This ian about vaccines your horse truly horse isn’t likely to be contained
is the most demanding type of pole needs (see January 2012). If your easily, fit in time to hand graze him.
intervention, and it requires a cer- horse is a home body and only goes Look at how you’re feeding your
tain level of accuracy from the rider for trail rides down through the hay. Loose hay on the ground
and a certain level of experience neighboring fields, your necessary may be “natural,” but how much
from the horse. This step should not vaccines will differ from a horse is wasted? A hay net, especially a
be used with young horses or green out campaigning every weekend. “slow feed” net, can pay for itself in
horses or riders. A horse without Check your state law on Cog- a short time with a messy horse.
the experience to correctly “read” a gins testing. No need to have that Bedding: You don’t want your
fence can become easily confused expense on an off year, or if your horse dealing with excess manure
by the rails and badly misread the horse isn’t traveling or planning or smells, but you can be more
takeoff, resulting in jumping efforts to be sold. And you only need a efficient. If you pick out manure
that can scare both the horse and full health certificate if you plan to multiple times a day (even twice
the rider. travel across state lines. is better than once), you can often
Set the poles in an upside-down Deworming: In this case, you may save bedding, as your horse hasn’t
V shape, with the narrow point have to spend money to save money. scattered his manure all around.
(approximately 2 feet wide) set on Drop a manure sample off at your Wet straw can be spread outside
the front or top rail of the jump and veterinary clinic for a quantitative on hot sunny days and will gain a
the poles then reaching down and evaluation so you know what para- day or two of added use. (It’s a lot of
outward to the ground in front of sites you need to deworm for and work, but if you’re pinched it might
the fence. The top of the poles (the how often (mailing the sample risks be worth it.) It doesn’t work as well
top of the V) should not stick up it drying before it arrives at the with damp shavings or pellets.
above the jump’s top rail more than lab, skewing results). If you can cut Frequent stall cleaning and look-
a few inches. back on a worming medication or ing at placement of your manure
You can build this exercise as a two, the sample testing will pay for pile can help cut down on flies.
single jump (vertical or oxer) or itself (see February, March 2012). You’ll save a bundle on fly spray if
in a gymnastic line of two to four Feed: Skimping on feed will often your farm invests in fly parasites
jumps. A gymnastic line with cost you more in the long run. Stick (see June 2010). Fly traps are also
V-shaped poles is a particularly to the protein and fat content your cost-effective in the long run, but
useful exercise for horses who drift horse does well on. But consider a they take more effort on your part.
due to weakness or poor training. It local feed mill brand in place of a Hoof Care: You might be able
will practically force them to stay more expensive national brand. Our to save a few dollars by combin-
in the middle of the jumps. local mill has great feed at equally ing a visit with other horse own-
great prices. ers nearby, but don’t stretch the
BOTTOM LINE. Failure to jump Look at supplements you’re feed- time between visits. If you have a
straight is most often caused by a ing and evaluate if farrier school nearby,
horse’s weakness or unsoundness. your horse truly needs sometimes student visits
After you’ve diagnosed and begun them. (Talk with your can be arranged at a
to correct those problems, the pro- vet or nutritionist, not discount. If you have a
gressive training we’ve described the supplement seller!). horse with unusual shoe-
should correct this jumping fault. Watch for sales and ing requirements though,
Don’t expect it to be a magical, one- coupons. Go in on an stick with your regular
time cure, though. It will require order with friends to farrier!
many schooling sessions. purchase a larger con- Contributing Veterinary
Article by Performance Editor John tainer to share, if you Editor Deb Eldredge,
Strassburger. use the same products. DVM.

12 Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013


Ask Horse Journal: ity. They don’t make a horse hot,

nor do they promote colic.
But regardless of the fiber source,
Hay Pellets Or Stretchers? it is advisable to provide a prebi-
otic (we like Ration Plus at www.
rationplus.com, 800-728-4667)
My horse is somewhat prone to colic and gets to your horse’s diet to boost the
overall numbers of bacteria living
hot on grain. He’s starting to lose weight. in the cecum and large colon. This
will make digestion more efficient,

resulting in more calories derived
have a 20-year-old Thorough- from forage.
bred, hard keeper who is on Since your horse is already receiv-
pretty good quality grass all day ing forage on a free-choice basis (be
(quality round bale during winter) Alfalfa hay sure he doesn’t run out of hay dur-
and 3 to 4 large flakes of hay per pellets won’t ing the night), use the hay pellets as
evening. He also gets little quality make your a carrier for more supplementation.
senior (low starch) grain morn- horse hot but Omega 3s are an important com-
will provide
ing and night (I am not a big fan ponent of the diet and they aren’t
more calories
of grain for horses). He started to and protein. found in hay pellets (or to any large
lose weight, so we added beet pulp, extent in any hay, for that matter).
which did not work. Add a ground flaxseed product that
I recently started him on 2 large is stabilized. We like Nutra-Flax
scoops daily of Blue Seal Hay (www.horsetech.com, 800-831-3309)
Stretcher to gain weight (which as it has a small amount of calcium
worked), but I would much rather added to balance out the naturally
give him hay pellets than “oat high levels of phosphorus found
hulls, etc.,” so I am considering a in flax. Feed ½ cup per 400 lbs. of
switch to hay pellets. hay replacers you describe offer body weight.
He is somewhat prone to colic your horse calories via hindgut Vitamins and minerals may also
and he tends to get hot on grain, so microbial digestion. Both types will need to be added, especially those
I figured timothy hay pellets were provide fiber, and your horse will vitamins that no longer exist in hay.
probably the best bet. I would like benefit from the variety of forages to Once fresh grass is cut, dried and
your advice on a few things because boost the overall protein quality. stored, it loses vitamins C, D and
there is so much information out Rather than a hay stretcher, I E, plus beta-carotene (used to make
there, I don’t know what is reliable. would consider alfalfa pellets to not vitamin A) and essential fatty acids.
1) Do hay pellets generally make a only add more calories but to pro- Consider a comprehensive supple-
horse “hot”? vide more amino acids that round ment to fill in all the nutritional
2) Are hay pellets more nutritious out and improve the protein qual- gaps. We like IntegriHoof (www.
than a hay stretcher (with oat hulls,
alfalfa meal, etc)?
2) Do hay pellets have any omega
3’s? (I may supplement with ground Fix A Problem:
flax seed for weight and nutrition,
but before I spend money on supple-
ments, I want to know if the pellets
Hay Molds Sitting In Storage
might help with weight gain and
In warm weather, moisture can
3) Do you think the pellets will accumulate under bottom bales.

help with weight gain?
4) Do hay pellets cause colic? ay stored on top of cement floors can accumulate moisture during
the warmer months. To prevent losing the hay, go to your local
Nutrition Editor Dr. Juliet Getty lumber store and purchase a few 2 x 4 boards. For a storage area
Responds: When a horse needs to of approximately 4 x 8 feet, you’ll need three 8-foot boards and one
gain weight, it’s important to pay piece of plywood. Space the boards evenly apart and put the plywood
attention to both the foregut (where on top of that. Then store your hay on the plywood. The hay is off of the
carbohydrates, fats, and proteins ground with air circulation under the plywood, so the hay won’t absorb
are digested) as well as the hindgut the humidity from the cement floor. Hint: You may think wood pal-
(where the microbial population lets would be easier. Think again. Spiders and mice think pallets make
produces digestive enzymes that great homes, and wood pallets are not easy to sweep clean.
digest fibers). The hay pellets or

Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013 13


ka-hi.com, 800-332-5244) and Life with your upper body when you use they are short of everything else.
Data Lab’s Farrier’s Formula (www. your hands and legs, this also sends What should I do?
lifedatalabs.com, 800-624-1873). the horse onto his forehand, so he
If more calories are needed, you loses his balance and either speeds Contributing Veterinary Editor
can add fat in the form of rice bran up or slows down to get comfortable Grant Miller, DVM, responds: Yes,
or rice bran oil. Avoid soybean or over his four feet again. If you use there are hundreds of joint supple-
corn oils since they are too high in too much leg aid and rotate your ments on the market. Searching
omega 6s, creating an imbalance heel up around your knee, this also through all of them can be over-
that can promote inflammation. tilts you forward and affects the whelming, but we published our
Finally, it’s best to moisten pellets horses balance. criteria and top picks in January
rather than feeding them dry. Some As for exercises, do frequent quick and February 2012 to help you.
horses are prone to choke when transitions. With each transition When looking for solutions for
consuming hard pellets at too fast evaluate the horse’s response and your elderly horse, keep in mind:
a rate. Also feed on the ground, us- assess your aids/position accord- 1) Following our advice on rec-
ing a ground feeder, rather than one ingly. Here is an example: Go on a ommended levels of ingredients
that is at shoulder height. 20-meter circle and alternate post- increases the chance of success.
ing trot and sitting trot every eight 2) Use a double dose “loading
TEMPO AND IMPULSION strides. If the horse changes in any dose” of a joint supplement for the
My horse loses tempo. If I get him way when you post or sit—speeds first two weeks.
moving nicely forward and try to up, slows down, inverts his neck 3) Sometimes, oral supplements
collect him a little, he loses impul- —make a change in your equitation need to be changed up a bit. If you
sion. I feel like the gas pedal gets and see how the horse responds the aren’t getting a result with one
stuck. What exercises can I do so next time you post or sit. brand, try a different product.
that I’m not constantly pulling on Another transition exercise is 4) If you aren’t seeing satisfactory
his mouth to get him to slow down, again on a 20-meter circle. Do results with oral supplements, it
then urging him forward because quick trot/walk transitions—trot may be time to try an injectable like
he slows down too much? several strides, then walk but for Legend or Adequan (Sept. 2011).
just one step, and trot again. Each 5) You may even have to use mul-
Associate Editor Margaret Free- time try for less hand aid on the tiple joint supplements in order to
man responds: You never want downward transition and the achieve enough of an effect to keep
to use a hand aid that is stronger lightest aid you can use that will an old horse comfortable.
than the leg aid. It’s important to achieve a crisp upward transition. 6) Sometimes, a horse needs
remember that connection issues You can do the same thing with actual prescribed medication to
originate behind the saddle, so if canter/trot transitions, except alter- ward away joint pain. One such
your horse slows down too much nate half a circle of canter with half medication is Equiloxx/Previcox,
when you give a hand aid there a circle of trot. a non-steroidal Cox-2 selective
wasn’t enough leg to begin with. anti-inflammatory that is designed
Think uphill with all your aids OLD HORSE JOINT PRODUCTS for long-term, once-a-day use to aid
and also with your position. Too The glucosamine/MSM/chondroitin in the control of musculoskeletal
much rein aid that isn’t backed up supplements I’ve used had trace inflammation. In more severe cases,
with a leg aid, puts the horse on his amounts of each, so I am not con- your vet may need to inject corti-
forehand, just as would too much vinced they did my old horse any sone directly into the joints to help
leg aid not backed up with a steady good. Still, searching hundreds of control inflammation and pain.
rein aid. supplements is hard. For example, 7) Make sure that you determine
Also, if you tend to tilt forward when I find one with 100mg HA, how many scoops of the product

Did You Know?

Garlic May Not Be Worth The Risk
It may keep bugs away, but at what cost?

llicin, the bug-repelling ingredient in raw garlic, can lead to
Heinz Body anemia when your horse eats it. That’s a disease that
destroys your horse’s red blood cells. Most horses like the taste of
garlic, and they’re happy to consume it. And anecdotal evidence does
show it repels flies. But at what cost? Reduced red blood cells can lead
to exercise intolerance and reduced immunity to disease.
Nutrition Editor Dr. Juliet Getty Opt for a fly sheet or fly parasites instead.

14 Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013


are required to equal one serving. enzymes are up on your horse and your horse can graze, even if it
Then, make sure that the serving exactly what his diet currently is. means hand walking him to places
has decent amounts of supplement However, that being said, flaxseed with some fresh grass. Avoid areas
(this is where our recommended in- meal is generally not recommended along the road due to exhaust
gredient levels can come in handy). for older horses with liver problems fumes and possible chemicals from
8) Weight control and allowing the due to the protein level. Ask your roadwork.
horse to be out and moving as much vet about milk thistle, which is gen- Or, pick grass from around home
as possible still remain the most erally regarded as safe and effective (make sure no sprays or lawn treat-
effective ways to aid in control of for liver problem in many species. ments are used) and bring that with
arthritis pain. I understand your desire to you when you go to the barn. But
9) If you haven’t yet stopped increase your horse’s omega 3s. I you must feed it immediately (and
riding, but you’re noticing that suggest trying to find places where no mower clippings!).
your horse is increasingly painful
despite the supplements, consider
retiring him.
10) As much as we try to help
Research News:
owners through various horse is-
sues without telling them to call
their vet, it may be a good idea to Oleander Toxicity
run things past yours when deter-
mining an arthritis management This beautiful shrub can be deadly.
plan for your horse.

No one management plan or

R.A. Howeared@USDA-NRCS Plants Database

supplement will work the same for leander is a woody
every horse. It’s not easy to figure shrub seen mostly in
out what works for your horse, but southern and western
don’t give up! It’s worth the effort, areas of North America. It’s a
and we’re here to help. pretty flowering shrub, and
some people keep it as a pot-
LIVER ENZYMES AND OIL ted houseplant. But it doesn’t
Is it safe to feed my horse a small belong on a horse farm. The
amount of flaxseed oil for its omega potency of this toxic plant was
3 benefits? He has raised liver evidenced in the February 15
enzymes and had a biopsy that issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
showed fibrosis possibly due to Researchers at the veterinary college at the University of California
ragwort poisoning, but they say it at Davis did a retrospective study looking back at cases of oleander
could have been another hepatic in- poisoning in 30 horses at the clinic there. Fifty percent of the horses
sult. I gave him six months of hefty died, with three dying as they arrived at the clinic or shortly thereaf-
steroids, which made no difference, ter. Clearly, a serious toxin.
so I stopped. He looks great, and I Signs seen with horses with oleander poisoning include colic, pos-
want to optimize his nutrition to sibly with diarrhea as well, and kidney damage. The crucial problem
give him a happy life. He is 21. I however is changes to heart rhythms. Cardiac symptoms were the
have Dr. Getty’s book on nutrition most common cause of death. The horses who did survive had ex-
and have had advice from some tended hospital stays with intensive care given.
nutritionists not to feed oil. One has The scariest part was that many of the horse owners were either un-
said that as my horse doesn’t have aware of any oleander on their property or felt there was no way the
“fatty liver syndrome” and he can’t horse could have possibly eaten any oleander. Some of the horses had
see that a small amount of flax oil been moved to new grazing areas and three of the horses had escaped
would do him any harm. My horse and been loose for a period of time.
is at livery and not always on good
pasture. At the moment he is box BOTTOM LINE. If you live in an area where oleander can thrive
rested for a tendon injury. He has outdoors, check your property thoroughly. Twenty leaves of oleander
spavin in both hocks and ringbone are enough to kill a horse. Before moving your horse to a new pasture,
in his right fore. His normal routine walk it completely to rule out any oleander—or any other toxic plants.
would be to go out during the day We recommend you become familiar with the Cornell Poisonous
and stabled at night. Can I feed oil? Plants database at http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/. Toxic plants
from all over are covered there, not just native New York plants. You
Contributing Veterinary Editor can also visit http://plants.usda.gov/java/ and look up plants. They
Deb Eldredge DVM responds: I generally have excellent photos, too.
really can’t give a definitive answer Deb M. Eldredge, DVM, Contributing Veterinary Editor
without knowing exactly what liver

Horse Journal w w w. h o r s e - j o u r n a l . co m April 2013 15

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training or competition. The USEF
has long had a realistic medication
policy that allows for therapeutic
treatment of working athletes. But
some unethical members always try
Commentary: to find something that “won’t test,”
something that they can give horses
ever closer to competition “to be
Faster and Easier: Over- sure it works.” There’s our culture
again—faster, easier.

Medicated Show Horses Some people are pushing for the

AAEP (American Association of
Equine Practitioners) position of no
Here’s what we horsemen and the medications for 12 hours before com-
petition, but that’s the basic intent of
USEF need to do to stop this cycle. the USEF rules. Perhaps that needs
to be made clearer, for starters.

he horse world got unwanted ternal conversation about over-medi- What else can the USEF do? Make
publicity on Dec. 27 when The cating competition horses. drug penalties really hurt: longer
New York Times published an The pony’s death also symbolizes suspensions, bigger fines. Require
exposé about a pony hunter named what’s wrong with the larger Ameri- necropsies on all horses who die at
Humble, who collapsed and died at can culture, dominated by similar USEF shows. And make an emer-
last May’s Devon (Pa.) Horse Show. mindsets: Lose weight without alter- gency rule change giving the USEF
The New York Times reported that ing your lifestyle; make billions of power to subpoena members to hear-
he was scheduled to receive 15 dif- dollars without actually earning it; ings regarding horses they’re respon-
ferent drug treatments, including even communications discourage us sible for as owner, rider or trainer.
anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids from waiting for anything. These at- The courts have previously con-
and muscle relaxant in the three titudes are why so many riders insist firmed that the USEF is a member-
days before he died. The basis of on horses that can “jump clean next ship organization and that participa-
their report was a photograph of the week” or “win tomorrow.” tion in its shows is a privilege, not a
trainer’s daily drug schedule, taken For trainers, this creates a tremen- right. So agreement with these rules
by the woman who was leasing dous pressure, pressure that makes must be a term of membership. Don’t
Humble. it tempting to turn to the medicine agree? Then you can’t show.
That woman filed a protest against cabinet. Sure, the USEF’s leaders And riders and owners should
the trainer with the U.S. Equestrian need to keep evolving drug rules. know about their horse’s care and be
Federation, but their hearing re- But rules must continue to brave enough to vote with
sulted in no action since the trainer balance the needs of the their checkbook by avoiding
declined to attend the hearing—be- horse as an athlete with medicine-cabinet trainers.
cause the USEF could not subpoena moral and cultural values.
her. She had paid for a necropsy The FEI’s no-drugs-at-all
of Humble, but she only released policy is no drug policy
partial findings, leaving the cause at all. It just pretends that
of death unclear. Maybe Humble’s horses are magical athletes John Strassburger
death will force a serious USEF in- who don’t suffer injuries in Performance Editor