Across Town or Cross Country: Saving Your Horse from Transport Stress!
Motion sickness and travel stress affects many people, but did you know that horses can get stressed when traveling, too?
Most of the time, owners can lessen the stress and sickness for their horses by simply being more careful when loading the trailer and while driving.
It is safe and simple to transport horses, if you consider all the factors that could cause your animal undue stress. Take steps to reduce, or even remove them. Doing so will not only protect your precious cargo, it will give you the peace of mind to keep your focus on the road.
If you’re taking your horse horse across town or across the nation, the following recommendations can make the ride much easier for everyone.
Think Head Heavy
Horses bow their heads often. They’re not depressed – they do this to alleviate respiratory stress and for mucus-draining purposes. Traveling in a straightaway trailer with limited space stresses horses and their ability to breathe. They may even compete with the other horses for extra space in the carriage. If trailer room is limited, leave your horses untied, or give them enough leeway to move around a bit and bow their heads for better breathing and comfort.
Make Friendships and Friend Trips
When possible, ship horses with their friends, meaning other horses they’re familiar with. This lowers the risk of attracting disease from other animals. Also, like humans, horses feel comfortable around those they know. They feel less stress when coupled with recognizable horse mates. Consider investing in a 2-horse gooseneck trailer, which provides a lot of space, yet allows for plenty of comforting companionship.
Always Keep it Clean
In tight spaces, pathogens from manure have a far greater influence on a horse’s respiratory system, especially if the animal is already feeling stressed from the trip. Always clean your horse trailer thoroughly between treks. For long trips, stop intermittently to clean manure from the trailer, and wash away all traces of urine and dried feces.
Teach the Horse to Load
Loading is extremely stressful for horses, and a time when injury is most likely to occur. Teach your horse the loading procedure by walking them through it until they are comfortable with the process. Don’t overwork your horse by over-practicing, though. Just get them familiar with loading, and give them a refresher course once or twice a week.
If your horse is especially difficult or reluctant to learn, hire an experienced and patient trainer. If there has been a longer gap in trips, take your horse for a practice run by making a short road trip.
Maintain Air Quality
Unless you’re traveling in the colder northern territory, it’s not likely your horse will get too cold. However, horses become stressed and sick due to poor ventilation and rising temperatures inside the trailer. Leave the trailer windows or vents open. Check for drafts coming from the back of the trailer that could blow exhaust fumes into the small area. Maintain great air quality and make accommodations to keep the inner cabin from becoming too hot or cold for your animals.
Let Your Horses Rest
Travel taxes horses, both mentally and physically. If you’re planning on using your horse for an athletic or farm-related event after the journey, leave early to give the animal a few days, even as much as up to one week, to rest and get its strength back. For after-trip conditioning, give your horse about a week to recover and get back to normal health after a long drive.
Timing and money may be important factors to consider, but the best way to care for your horses is to adopt a slow and steady driving routine, rather than an erratic and time-sensitive trip full of stress.
In order to understand hauling horses better, have someone drive the trailer while you sit in the back, mocking the ride of the horses. Some horse owners even secure a half-full glass of water to the top of the dashboard, noting that any water splashing outside the glass is the direct result of erratic and potentially unsafe driving.
Dan Kelly has been working with horses since he volunteered at a neighbor’s ranch as a teenager. With a heart for their grace and strength, he often writes about horse training and care on equestrian blogs and training sites.
Learn more about horses. See the World of Horses and Ponies with all types of horse breeds from light horses and ponies, to draft horses!
World War I poster in the Library of Congress.
Photo Wikimedia Commons, Courtesy chreck, Horst, 1885, Public domain
Alternative Therapies: Good for You, Great for Your Horse!
There is little doubt that alternative therapies are on-trend and what these can do for human health has also opened up a wealth of possibilities and opportunities to provide equine alternative therapies in the form of acupuncture, Rolfing, herbal remedies and homeopathic solutions, amongst an ever-widening range of options.
Here is a look at some of the alternative therapies that you may want to consider for your horse and remember to take proper veterinary advice, especially when you consider that many of these treatments are designed to complement veterinary care rather than replace it entirely.
The Chinese have been practicing acupuncture on humans and horses for thousands of years and the premise is that by stimulating specific points on the body, you can generate beneficial effects by tapping into the currents of energy that flow through the body pathways that are called meridians.
The conventional Western view of this alternative therapy is that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and causes the release of body chemicals including endorphins, which help to ease pain, improve circulation and promote the reduction of muscle spasms.
It should always be remembered that if your horse is sick or badly injured then your medical priority is to seek veterinary help first and foremost, but treatment using acupuncture may well produce some noticeable improvements in the recovery process and ease the level of pain being felt.
Look to see if there is a noticeable improvement in the horse’s condition after about four sessions of acupuncture and review your position at this point to see whether you want to continue with this particular alternative therapy or look at other options if you are not noticing any benefits.
If you are not familiar with Rolfing, it can also be referred to as structural integration and is in many ways, a fusion of massage and chiropractic methods which is performed by a certified Rolfer and licensed equine massage therapist.
The process involves manual manipulation of soft tissue with the aim of seeking to rebalance the horse’s structure, working with the tissues that pull on bones and joints, which is where the focus is different from a Chiropractic approach.
Rolfing was a method developed for people about 50 years ago and works on the theory that the body compensates for tension and injuries in a way that pulls the natural physical structure out of line, and using various parts of their hand and even their elbows, the Rolfer aims to free the connective tissue and allow the body to align.
You can actually see physical signs of the horse responding to this treatment as they may chew, yawn, shake their head or jiggle around during the session, which are all positive signs of tension release. Between three and five sessions of Rolfing should be sufficient in order to address most issues and if you are unsure, perhaps ask the practitioner whether you can watch a session before booking treatment for your horse.
The key to using alternative medicine in addition to things like Natural Horse Supplements is to consider the health of the animal in its entirety rather than focusing attention on one specific area such as an injured limb.
Alternative medicine is a wide-ranging term that describes holistic practices that rely on medications and the use of syringes and will involve treatments using chiropractic methods, acupuncture, herbalism and homeopathy amongst various different modes of treatment.
A common issue with horses is lameness and this condition is a good example of how alternative medicine can be used to help the animal back to a full recovery in a more natural way. There are many different facets of lameness and it can often have a domino effect in triggering other ailments as a result of the original problem causing pain and discomfort. For example, if a horse is found to have arthritis in the hock, this will cause a change in movement that then becomes muscle soreness in the lower back, which in turn can cause the horse to shift its weight unnaturally which will further compound the injuries that they are suffering from.
Many of the horse owners and practitioners who advocate the use of alternative medicine and view a holistic approach to healing in a positive way, also understand and adopt the principle that conventional medicine or alternative medicine could fix the problem eventually on their own, but when the two forces are combined, this makes for a potentially powerful force that can help your horse quickly and efficiently return to full health.
Contributing author Misty Easley is a highly experienced veterinarian. When not treating her patients, she spends her time researching emerging research and trends in the vet medicine.
Horse people honor and celebrate just about everything, but with a wonderful horseman’s twist!
Horsemen and women are passionate about anything horse. Websites, facebook pages, and blogs dedicated to horse lovers are filled with pictures and quotes that embrace the finest qualities we each strive for.
Strength and courage, passion, love, hard work and endurance spread across the pages. But the simple everyday riches of life are also embraced like smiles, spring, horse shedding season, and even the fact that it’s a Friday! Quickly I find myself being drawn in, and loving it!
I was so fortunate to be raised in a family where horses were a big part of our activities. My father, raised on a ranch in Eastern Montana, felt horsemanship was a fundamental part of life. Trail riding, cattle herding, and rodeos were all part of our fare.
The short summer seasons were filled with exploring on horseback, heading out with a packed lunch, and swimming gear incase we chanced upon a stream or pond. During the long winter season, the horses were kept at a highland ranch, where moving cattle between pastures was an ongoing affair. With 10 children, local ranchers loved to have us show up at branding time. All those extra hands helped the work go smoothly and quickly. Then the arrival of springtime had my brothers trying their hands at bronco busting in local rodeos. All these wonderful parts of a young, blossoming horse person set the stage for my life as a passionate horse lover.
Owning a Horse… the ultimate passion
Horses are still used for ranching and other types of work, but the joy of riding and keeping them as companions is what stirs the hearts of even more people today. Each horse breed has its unique abilities and charm, and there’s a horse for every type of person.
Getting the right horse depends on what you imagine doing with it. There are many types of horses, each with their individual breed characteristics. They come in a variety of colors and vary greatly in height and size, as well as temperament. Be patient and take the time to determine what you want, because owning a horse is not only a fabulous experience, but a big responsibility.
Horses are commonly divided into three groups; Light Horses, Draft or Heavy Horses, and Ponies.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Maria Wahlberg of Sweden
- Light Horse Breeds – The majority of the riding horses are found in the light breeds. All Light Horses originally descended from the Arabian type. They have great strength and stamina, and depending on the breed, can be used in a variety of show disciplines, with some specialized as racing breeds.
- Heavy Horse Breeds – The heavier types, commonly known as Draft Horses were developed from the bulkier equines found in the northern hemisphere. They generally have a quiet calm temperament, but they are big and strong.
- Pony Breeds – Ponies on the other hand, are small. The Pony Breeds are durable horses that evolved smaller in stature, but strong and hardy, because they came from areas where there was often inferior nutrition and harsh environments. They are very durable and usually require less care than the other two groups, but they are also more independent.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy ken taylor
Horse paraphenalia… extending the passion
Whether you own a horse or not, once you become a horse lover you’ll find yourself drawn to anything that has to do with horses. I find myself perking up with interest when watching movies or television, whenever a horse comes onto the scene. The super bowl halftime is a favorite, just to see those beautiful Clydesdales in the Budweiser commercials. A recent episode of the fantasy drama “Da Vinci’s Demons” even includes an Andalusian, the beautiful Pure Spanish Horse.
The Internet is great for finding all sorts of tack, equipment, and riding gear. But it is also a great place to find all sorts of cool horse related accessories, knickknacks, and collectables.
I collect Painted Ponies from the popular “Trail of Painted Ponies” project. Rod Barkser, a writer who makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, started the project. He was actually prompted to begin the Trail of Painted Ponies project because of a public art exhibition entitled “Cow Parade” that he came across while passing through Chicago during a research trip. He was charmed by these artistically transformed cows, and took it to a new level. He was inspired by the ponies of Santa Fe, and today many artists submit designs for competition, and the results are wonderful pieces of collectable art!
There are too many different types of collectibles to even begin to outline them here. But if you are a horse lover and collector of horse related art, accessories, and collectables, you can check out the horse section of a website called The Collectionary.
The Horses Collectionary is a growing library of horse collectibles and nostalgic items that are fun to peruse, and you can join and share your collections as well.
Happy horse loving, enjoy your passion!
Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Holsteiner!
If you are a horse person and really enjoy showing and competing, the Holsteiner horse breed is definitely worth checking out. These are considered to be very athletic horses and are an excellent breed to use in Equestrian Olympics. Show jumping, hunting, combined driving, and dressage are all events in which the Holsteiner is competitive. Many people who are serious about athletic horse events vouch for this breed. On top of this, another great benefit is these guys are known to have a nice, gentle temperament. Usually they are easy going, quiet, and sometimes even a little lazy!
The Holsteiner, originally from Germany, is an older warmblood breed of horse. It is believed that they date back to the 13th century and a monastery was the driving force in developing this breed. In the Schleswig-Holstein area of Germany, there is a written record of the local Count of Holstein and Storman giving the Monastery permission to graze their horses on their land. These are believed to be the first Holsteiner horses.
To keep the breeding of these horses going and to ensure their quality, many incentives and laws were passed. Eventually the rest of Europe started importing this breed in large quantities. France especially, imported thousands of these horses in the 1770’s.
In the 1800’s the Holsteiner breed declined somewhat. This was due to the economy, wars, weather, and over-breeding. Up and downs continued and by 1960 there were only around 1300 Holsteiner horses left. At this time The Germany Verband Association took it into their hands to start breeding and bringing the breed back up in numbers. The American Holsteiner Association came into existence in 1978, and also began trying to accomplish the same goals. It is because of these efforts that this breed has definitely stayed strong.
Being powerful and carrying themselves well, Holsteiners are very elegant horses. In general they are graceful, muscular, and flexible. All great athletic qualities. Most people who are serious about these horses want them for competition reasons. Breeding them can be difficult because the only horses eligible to be bred have to adhere to a strict set of standards in order to ensure quality within the breed. These are large horses, usually between 16 and 17 hands tall, with two recognized types. The classic type Holsteiners are heavy and large boned while the modern type is not quite as heavy and has more refined features.
Competitive Holsteiner Activities
Jumping is the strongest trait Holsteiners possess. Many people use them exclusively in this sport. Flaws were decreased and eliminated by selectively breeding a few horses, and they are now known for Olympic-caliber jumping internationally. In fact, they make up a large number of successful show jumpers even though they only represent 6% of all horses in Europe. In addition to jumping, Holsteiners are known internationally for combined driving, dressage, and eventing. In North America they also hold their own as show hunters and hunt seat equitation horses.
Holsteiner Care and Health Conditions
Caring for a Holsteiner is not overly difficult. You can easily keep them in either a pasture or in a stall area with other horses. They can be fed hay, grain, and alfalfa as well as a mineral supplement. All other normal maintenance activities should be done as well, such as grooming, bathing, keeping their hooves cleaned and trimmed, etc.
In general, Holsteiners are strong horses and well-adapted to harsh conditions. However because they are used heavily in competitions, they are prone to problems. Becoming lame because of extreme tendon extensions is a problem they are more prone to. Using leg protection while jumping and boots or foot wraps for dressage work can go a long way in helping to prevent leg problems with these horses.
If you are serious about a Holsteiner, they can be found. Commonly bred in the state of California, that is a good place to start if you are located in the United States. They can also be found across Europe from various breeders. You can expect to pay at least $15,000 for a foal or yearling. But it is well worth it in the show business!
Holsteiners are no doubt a specialty horse. If you own one or have experience with one we would love to hear your stories! Please share!
Congratulations on your new horse! Your new companion is a strong animal that will give you many years of joy in your life. Horses are expressive animals that adapt well and are quite sensitive to the emotional state of others. You’ll want to give him the best that you can.
Horses need comfortable bedding in their stalls. The type of bedding you choose depends on your budget. Straw is nice but it can get moldy. Store it where you store your hay to avoid any problems.
Another choice is wood shavings or shredded newspaper. Both are easy to muck out each day. If you or your horse has allergies to the wood, try peat moss or the newspaper.
Horses will need blankets at different times and for different uses at some point. In the winter months, a blanket can provide warmth in the stables, pasture, and when riding them. Here are a few choices:
1. Horse sheets – These are a lighter type of horse blanket that can be used more often than a heavier one. It is made of nylon and circulates air to prevent sweating and irritation in your horse. Use them in areas where pests like mosquitoes are prevalent in the summer. Heated barns make heavy blankets unnecessary in the winter but horse sheets would be ideal. Make sure they are secure so your horse can move without them slipping off.
2. Stable blankets – In winter months, your horse may need extra warmth. In barns that are not heated or areas where temperatures fall very low, a stable blanket can keep your horse comfortable. There are blankets that just cover the body and others that include a piece to cover the head as well.
3. Turnout blankets – These are used when riding your horse. These are thicker than the cotton blanket used for stables and they are waterproof. If you keep your horse in the pasture during the winter, these blankets will keep him dry and protected no matter what his movements.
Horse boots or wraps are used for a variety of reasons. Those who show jump or ride horses for polo can use different boots to protect their horse’s legs from injury. Other boots are used to protect a horse after an injury to help improve their gait and strengthen their joints. Here are a few that you may see:
- Shin boots
- Knee boots
- Polo boots
- Coronet boots
- Brushing boots
- Heel boots
- Poultice boots
This often includes everything you will need to groom your horse to perfection. Invest in a good one that you can use for a long time. Your kit needs but is not limited to:
- Mane and tail comb
- Body brush
- Hoof picks
- Petroleum jelly
- Hoof dressing
- Sun block
- Fly spray
Bridles are very important in allowing you to direct your horse! It used to be that bridles all came with bits that fit into the mouth, a sensitive area for horses. Nowadays you can buy bit-less bridles that don’t have to rub this sensitive area to guide your horse.
There are a host of other horse accessories that you can buy for your horse. These are just a few of the more common ones to have on hand.
Guest Post by Drew Kobb
We love our pets; let us all just admit it. A pet is not merely some animal. Pets are part of our family. We love them, we play with them, and they help us when we are sad or distressed. They keep us company, and we take care of them. We want what is best for our dogs and cats, but sometimes we do not always know what all we can do to make their lives better.
Did you know that one of the best things we can do for our furry friends is to give them pet supplements? Just like humans, sometimes animals’ diets just aren’t giving them all that they need. Different breeds are susceptible to different injuries and sicknesses, and they may need just a little extra help to keep them healthy.
There are many different types of supplements you can get for your pet. There are specific types for each stage of life: puppy/kitten, adult, as well as senior, with a specific recipe of nutrients for growth and development and maintaining overall health. For your brand-new pets, supplements can help with proper joint and cartilage formation and good mind development. Taking supplements will also strengthen their immune system, and give them a good foundation of health. Then, just like humans, pets need a little extra care when they get older. Supplements can keep old joints lubricated to help them move easier, boost the immune system, and give them the extra vitamins and minerals they need.
If your pet has a specific need, there are supplements for that too. You can get pet supplements for bone and joint health, heart and lung health, digestive health, and cognitive health. There are also some made specifically for those who are quite athletic to help with stamina, more intense muscle and joint support, and a recovery aid to help avoid injury. Some help to reduce the symptoms of allergies and skin conditions, as well as boost the immune system. There are supplements to help calm your pet, whether they are prone to anxiety or are just having a time of stress. There are also weight management supplements to keep your pet at a healthy, happy weight so that they can get the most out of life.
Many pet supplements are very easily mixed with your pet’s regular food, which makes it simple to give your pet the nutrition they need. You can start giving your pet supplements as soon as they are able to eat solid food as well as start supplementing your pets food at any time during their life. It is never too late to start. Supplements are not only used as a preventative measure either; they can help existing problems as well.
There are not only pet supplements for us and our dogs and cats, but also for our beautiful horses. Our horses need supplements to give them the health, strength, stamina, and performance agility that they deserve. The supplements for horses have the same options as cat and dog supplements, with a few extras, such as hoof support. While the supplements are very similar, they are created with the genetic makeup of each species in mind so that it has a greater effect than if it were a “one size fits all” supplement.
We care about ourselves and want to have the best life we can, so we take vitamin, mineral, and other types of supplements. Why not do the same for our four legged family members? We all need them for a little health boost to keep us living long happy lives. Cat and dog supplements and horse supplements can be one of the best things to give our pets.
Drew Kobb loves long distance running and considers himself a health and fitness enthusiast. His interests range all over the medical field, and Drew highlights that range on his blog, Dr. Ouch.
Submitted by Andres Ong, Content Writer
A Beautiful Arabian Horse!
The sport involving the equine is truly a science. What was once a sport that relied on gut instinct and sheer stamina alone has now evolved into an arena where numerous variables must be accounted for. Proper training and nutrition are essential to maintain optimum performance while the particular breed of horse can affect many individual traits and help determine the qualities of a champion. In races for example, both riders and thoroughbred racing enthusiasts alike pay particular attention to the type of breed. Individuals who have a keen eye for this sport will follow websites like online horse racing at Kentuckyderbybetting.com, which will usually take the breed into account in effective sports betting strategies. While there are different horse breeds in general, here’s a quick look at the breeds of horses mainly used for two of the major equine disciplines: Racing and Dressage/Show Jumping.
This breed is considered one of the most famous in the racing community. They are characterized by a refined, wedge-shaped head and large eyes. An interesting characteristic is that the Arabian breeds tend to have a large bump on the center of their forehead. This is said to have aided them in the dry desert climates by increasing their sinus capacity. Gray and chestnut colors are the most common and Arabians are not as large as some of their other racing counterparts. They exhibit an excellent temperament and endurance.
Originally bred in East Prussia, these fairly large horses are known as some of the most handsome of the breeds as well as excellent jumpers. Although they have particularly large bones, they display an elegance rarely seen in horses of such size. Generally black or chestnut in color, they are both intelligent and eager to please; lending them a personality ideally suited for the racetrack. While bred as both dressage horses and show jumpers, they also are well known as being powerful competitors in the horse racing circuit.
This particular horse breed is arguably the most popular among racehorses. Thoroughbreds are hot blooded horses who are famous for their speed and competitive spirit. Though Thoroughbreds are mostly known for horse racing, they can also be trained for various equine disciplines such as polo, show jumping, dressage and more.
These horses are well-known for their “can do” attitude and their fiery, albeit gentle disposition. They are well-proportioned animals and have wide-set eyes and a large head atop a notably long neck. Thus, this breed is one of the most photogenic. They come in all colors and are between 15 and 17 hands in height. These are superb riding horses, as they are said to have both the intelligence and temperament to get along well with their human riders.
This horse was originally used as a work horse and trained to pull coaches, but has been adapted for dressage competition since the late 19th century. This rather tall breed is usually colored black, brown or gray. The strong body and hindquarters make the Oldenburg a notably powerful horse. Their powerful hind quarters and pronounced strength also make this breed ideal for jumping as well as endurance competition. An example of the Oldenburg as well as similar breeds of light horse can be found in this website.
This breed has often been called one of the most well-rounded of horses. They are known for their powerful musculature as well as a flexible gait. Breeding stock is a bit more stringent for this animal; requiring the respective mares and stallions to meet numerous requirements and thus lending to its superior performance. Their temperament is complimented by an energetic and alert presence. Therefore, the warmblood is particularly suited for dressage and show jumping.
It is easy to see that there are particular breeds suited for specific equine disciplines. This is the primary reason that horse race bets are often partially determined by the breed of the horse as well as the rider and a host of other qualities. Websites such as ESPN likewise note the breed of the horse in posting statistics, which is an invaluable tool to help understand and appreciate the intricacies involved in various equine disciplines and competitions such as the Kentucky Derby.
Knowing what particular horse breed is used for a specific discipline is important if you are planning to own a horse. By learning this important information, you can make the right decision as to what type of horse to get. Just keep in mind that raising a horse is an enormous responsibility that requires patience and dedication.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Shetland Pony!
I think everyone loves ponies. Or at least they love the idea of them! They look like miniature horses and are just so adorable! To be considered a pony, they should be under 14.2 hands as adults. The Shetland Pony is one of the most popular ponies. They are very strong, often able to pull weight that weighs twice as much as they do! They are able to live in quite harsh conditions and readily live longer than 30 years. This pony also has a very gentle demeanor and can be great for children to first learn to ride. The maximum weight they can carry is around 130 pounds, but should be less than that if possible to avoid any long-term back problems.
In America, there are 4 different breeds of Shetland Ponies recognized. In 1888 the American Shetland Pony Club was formed and it’s specific purpose was to pedigree all imported ponies. The four breeds that are recognized are the Modern American Shetland, the Classic American Shetland, the National Show Pony, and the American Show Pony. Shetland Ponies are used in many different activities. They are small and can be used for riding at fairs and zoos. They are also good in harness driving and can be used in parades. In therapeutic programs for physically and mentally challenged people, ponies are often used as well. They can also be used as guide animals in certain cases or events.
Ponies in general often come from areas where good nutrition is hard to come by and environments are harsh. This results in smaller sized breeds and more independent personalities. The Shetland Pony comes from the Shetland Islands, which are north of Scotland. They developed into a strong breed while living there for the past 2000 years. The Islands are extremely cold and windy. This forced the ponies living there to develop thick double coats, thick manes, and thick tails to help keep them warm. They adapted to survive off of only washed up seaweed and some rough grasses which are able to grow there. The terrain is rough and rugged without much shelter. All of these circumstances really helped shape them into hardy little ponies!
Here is a bit of interesting history in how these ponies were used to help humans. Shetland Ponies were used as work horses for farmers located on the Shetland Islands. They would have them haul back coal and peat to be used as fuel. And then during the mid-1800’s, when the Industrial Revolution was taking place, many Shetland Ponies were exported to Britain and the United States to work in coal mines. Miners would keep them in their mines to haul coal out, and they would often live their whole lives underground! This often reduced their life spans by quite a bit.
Caring and feeding for a Shetland Pony is very similar to other horses and ponies. But they can do better on a more limited diet. However these ponies in particular are prone to laminitis. Laminitis is caused by a diet containing a lot of non-structural carbohydrates such as grains. Generally you will want them to eat a diet full of low-fat and low-carbohydrate forage out in the pasture. Actually, they do best when kept in a pasture-type environment and are able to roam. This is good for both eating and exercising. They also generally love companionship and often do well being kept with other ponies or horses.
Availability of Shetland Ponies varies from location to location. However you should be able to find one readily enough if you are interested in obtaining one. In Europe they are very popular and easy to come by. In the United States there are many breeders across the country. Classified ads are a very good place to look as well.
For more detailed information and facts relating to ponies, read here on All About Ponies.
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Guest Author: Melissa Hathaway
Although horses can live active lives well into their twenties, with life expectancies of 30 years or more not uncommon, as they age horses’ needs change and they require more care and attention to keep them in good health. Some horse breeds do fare better in old age, with certain medical conditions more commonly affecting others. But here we consider a few care adjustments that can make the difference to your horse as they get older no matter which breed they are.
Preventing Weight Loss
Weight loss is a common sign of old age in horses. After the age of 20 many horses have difficulty digesting and absorbing sufficient food, and as a consequence their energy intake is insufficient to maintain their weight; this is often not helped by poor dentition. Horses will always appear visibly thinner as they age due to a loss of muscle mass, but a sagging abdomen – so often seen in older age – can give the impression that they are not losing weight. Rather than relying on eyesight alone, the best thing that owners can do is to feel their horse with their hands for signs of weight loss. If you feel that your horse has lost significant weight, having the vet check him over is a good idea. A number of medical conditions, particularly those of the liver and kidneys, can be a cause of weight loss.
Years of grazing can considerably wear a horse’s teeth. While they can usually manage to still eat with teeth wear, uneven wear or gaps can cause bigger problems, such as abscesses and infection. If horses are unable to chew their feed it will pass through their gut without being digested. This can hinder absorption and increase their risk of colic. After the age of 15 horses should have their teeth examined every 6 months to prevent small changes to teeth developing into problems. Corrections can easily be made at this stage; leave it though and teeth will need to be extracted.
With age a horse’s energy and nutrient requirements change. Typically an older horse will require around 20,000 kcal to support a 1,000 lb body. A fibrous feed delivering one to two thousand calories per pound is ideal; grass is well suited in view of its ease to chew and digest, but obviously not if your horse is prone to laminitis. Grass hay, which is cut and baled prior to seed head formation, is preferable over mature grass and alfalfa; the latter is additionally high in calcium which can put strain on an older horse’s kidneys. Protein requirements rise to around 12 to 14% of their dietary intake due to inefficient digestion. However, “senior feeds” for horses make the process of providing the correct nutrition for an aging horse easier. When changing your horse’s diet it is best practice to do so gradually to prevent any digestive upset.
If older horses are kept with younger counterparts, they can miss out at feeding time. They tend to eat for a shorter time and bolt their food, which increases their risk of choking and can further interfere with digestion. It is therefore best to separate older horses at mealtimes to provide them with some peace to take in sufficient food and to eat at their own pace.
Whilst aging can’t be stopped, you can help ensure that your horse is comfortable. Aspects of care, grazing, and exercise can be adjusted depending on your horse’s physical condition. Older horses are at increased risk of skin conditions, including infections and damage. With age their immune system is thought to deteriorate, putting horses at increased risk from attack by fungi and bacteria. Wounds also tend to heal less well. Regular grooming and examination can help you to identify skin problems early. A Vitamin C supplement may also strengthen their immune system. Like people, older horses struggle to regulate their temperature, particularly at the extremes. Make sure they have sufficient blankets and are stabled if necessary in the winter. Adequate dietary intake is also crucial for maintaining body temperature when it is cold. Equally it is particularly essential that older horses have access to shade in the summer and additional measures may be needed to keep them cool enough. Company is a must for older horses, but bossy youngsters may deny them what they need. Ponies and donkeys can therefore make better field mates for an aging horse. Regular exercise can help keep your horse in good shape and spirits. Though in view of their changing physical condition, this should be at a lower intensity than previously and their health should be continuously monitored. Two or three times a week take them for a ride at a walk, trot, and short periods of slow canter would be ideal.
Wear and tear over the years can build up, making it more difficult to maintain good mobility in advancing years. While orthopedic problems can’t be cured at this stage, their symptoms can certainly be alleviated. Arthritis, which manifests itself as stiffness and pain in the joints, produces permanent changes to the bones. This is a result of wear, reduced joint fluid, and breakdown of cartilage. Agents that you apply to the joint and medications can both be prescribed by a vet; they will advise what your horse will benefit most from. Even when your horse has joint problems exercise shouldn’t stop; in fact it can aid their management. A horse that exercises regularly tends to see better results from prescribed treatments than one that doesn’t. However, a little and often approach to exercise is best employed; a few laps around the yard or ring will be enough at a time. Hoof growth slows with age due to reduced blood flow to the extremities and although this will mean that trimming and shoeing won’t be required as often, they may be in discomfort, so it is important that the farrier still regularly inspects their hooves.
Treating Diseases of Old Age
Some of the diseases that affect horses in their elderly years can also affect those at a younger age. While these conditions are often not fatal and can be managed to an extent through appropriate care, medications are often required in conjunction. It might be possible to obtain pet insurance for your horse that covers pre-existing conditions to help with the cost of treatment. Horses can develop a lung disorder called heaves, which worsens with age; dust and mold trigger inflammation in the lungs causing wheezing and shortness of breath. Removal of horses from an allergenic environment can sometimes cure heaves, while others require medication to control the lung inflammation. Glandular problems occur more commonly in older horses. Signs to look out for include a coarse coat that is not shed in summer, weight loss, excessive thirst, urination and sweating; these can all signal a problem with the pituitary gland in the brain, which controls other glands and many body processes. Pituitary tumors are a common cause of Cushing’s disease, which is characterized by abnormalities in fat and glucose metabolism, an imbalance of calcium and phosphate and enlarged adrenal glands. The latter is responsible for the trait appearance and behavior in Cushing’s disease. Horses with Cushing’s disease are also more prone to laminitis, infections and infestation with parasites. Keeping their coat short and keeping them away from lush grass can help prevent these. A variety of drugs are available, which can control pituitary secretions to help manage symptoms in Cushing’s disease.
Being vigilant for signs of disease in your horse, adapting their diet, changing their care, grazing and exercise routines, can all help to keep them comfortable and healthy in old age, allowing you to enjoy many more years together.
About the Author: Melissa Hathaway is a freelance writer involved with putting together helpful guides for pet owners. She owns two older horses herself!
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Thoroughbred Horse!
I think everyone knows what the Thoroughbred horse is famous for – racing! Our minds instantly fly to the famous race horses such as Seabiscuit and Secretariat. These famous race horses all have one thing in common – they are Thoroughbreds! Thoroughbreds are the fastest horses in the world and are primarily used in competitive horse racing and other competitive sport activities such as jumping, eventing, and dressage.
These horses are known for having a ton of energy and are often called “hot” and can be difficult to handle. They love to run and be athletic, and due to their high energy levels they are not usually the best horses for beginners. They have very long legs and have a long and straight looking profile. They grow to about 16 hands and their prime racing years are when they are a young 2 and 3 years old. The Thoroughbred is considered to be a light horse breed. Light horse breeds are on the lighter side and most often weigh under 1500 pounds. They are commonly used as riding horses and sometimes for light ranch work or in the show ring.
The background on the Thoroughbred all starts in Britain. Back in the 1600’s and 1700’s was when an interest in horse racing really took off. King Henry VIII started the very first royal racing stables due to this budding interest. Three specific Arabian stallions are where the modern day Thoroughbred genes can be tracked back to. An interesting fact is that those three stallions never actually raced! The majority of the Thoroughbred horses have 31 known ancestors, and all of these can be traced back to those three original stallions. The names of these stallions were Byerly Turk, Darley Arabian, and Godolphin Arabian. The first famous racehorse, Flying Childers, was the offspring of Darley Arabian!
Thoroughbred care and feeding is similar to most other horses. One thing to note is that Thoroughbreds do require more food than other horses their size because of their fast metabolism! Typically horses are grass-fed or fed hay twice a day with occasional grain if needed. Other foods such as oats or treats should be kept to a minimum. Make sure to provide fresh water everyday and keep a salt block where they can easily lick it. They should be groomed on a regular basis to keep their coat in shape. Pick their hooves often (especially before riding) to check for rocks and fungus. You should have their hooves trimmed regularly as well.
There are some health problems specific to the Thoroughbred. Because they are racehorses and are pushed to the limit, they are prone to accidents which cause injuries and sometimes death. Broken legs and other musculoskeletal injuries are the biggest problems. Other problems include bleeding in their lungs, constipation, small hooves in relation to their bodies, and fertility problems.
Thoroughbred horses are available almost everywhere. They can be very expensive (the most expensive around the world!), especially in the competitive racing world. Older, former race horses can be found cheaper in classified ads and at auctions. Many horses offered at auctions though, will need to be re-trained to be leisure riding horses or to become competitive in other disciplines. They may also sport injuries from their racing days.
Thoroughbreds definitely have a legend around them and are highly sought out in the horse racing world. Animal-World’s Thoroughbred Horse page has more information on these horses if you want to know more!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.