Horse Care, Alternative Therapies

June 16, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Horses

Horse Care for a healthy equineCaring for horses has come a long way!
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.

Acupuncture

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.

Rolfing

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.

Alternative medicine

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 Lovers, people with a passion for life

March 26, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Horses

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.

Light Horse - AndalusianLight Horse – Andalusian.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Tanja Mikkelsen

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.

Draft Horse - Gypsy Vanner named BonanzaDraft Horse – Gypsy Vanner named Bonanza.
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.
Pony Breed - Shetland PonyPony Breed – Shetland Pony.
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.

The Holsteiner

September 23, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Horses

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!

Holsteiner History

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.

The Holsteiner

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.

Holsteiner Availability

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!

Jasmine Hinesley is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Different Horse Breeds for Various Equine Disciplines

April 29, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Horses

Submitted by Andres Ong, Content Writer

Horse Breeds
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.

Racing

Arabian

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.

Trakehner

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.

Thoroughbred

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.

Dressage/Show jumping

American Saddlebred

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.

Oldenburg

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.

American Warmblood

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.