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Horse Health

To Blanket or Not To Blanket?


When I first became involved with horses, I boarded my horses at three different facilities.  At all three facilities, it was commonplace to blanket our horses during the winter and into spring in order to “keep our horses warm”.   Our horses usually had a full winter coat on before we blanketed them and their coats appeared to stay this way until we removed the blankets in the spring.

As an equestrian, I try to “listen” to my horses by monitoring their body language, their communication within the herd, their diets and their physical conditions.  Honor was forever destroying and removing his blanket.  In the spring after removing blankets, it was obvious that the horses were “on the thin side” and the yearly weight cycle of catch up would start over.

Being the eldest in my herd, I was always concerned about Honor’s physical needs first, so when he started removing his blanket every time, I decided to leave it off and see how he faired.  To my happy surprise, he seemed happier too and was just as spunky as ever.

Yes, there were times when freezing rain and strong winds concerned me and I’d check on my herd.  I noticed that as long as they had a wind break, good quality hay 24/7, water and a mineral and salt lick, they were doing good.  To this day, they are still doing good, even in our recent -60F wind chill!

No, I don’t body clip or prevent my horses from growing their winter coats.  In these situations, I would stall and blanket my horses plus provide heat if necessary.  I think that one must consider the environment that the horse lives in and the discipline that the horse is used for when questioning wether to blanket or not.

If you have more questions or concerns, this article is very thorough and scientific:

Why Horses Should Not Be Blanketed In Winter

What did horses do before there were humans to take care of them?  They adapted, thrived  and survived.  They are truly one of God’s most splendid and self contained creatures that humans are blessed to be a companion with.

Hoof Injuries, Timing Can Be Everything  (Updated 1/10/2014)

It’s concerning when an equine companion receives an injury to it’s hoof.  Injuries can range from superficial to life threatening but no matter what the injury, timing in the treatment of it can make all the difference to a horses recovery.

The day is Sunday, December 29, 2013 and it’s bitter cold outside.  Believe it or not, today the arctic temps are a blessing in disguise.  It’s ten below zero and liquid is freezing in less then a minute and that includes blood.

While doing chores, Zach caught my attention and intuition told me that he needed some help.  Within the herd, he was standing as he usually does but his expression was beaconing.  I walked out into the pasture and he welcomed me but nodded his head to tell me something, what was it?  It only took a second for me to notice the bright crimson fresh blood on his right front hoof around a tear that was toward the back of his heal.  Ouch!  How’d he do that and how bad was it?

I’ve learned not to panic but was anxious and I grabbed my camera and some vet wrap in preparation for a call to our veterinarian.  While examining the wound, it appeared to be a fairly clean one and I was thankful that he had stopped bleeding and that it was “frigid” outside.  No pesky insects to exacerbate infection and no mud or stool soft enough to penetrate his wound.

I took some photos to email to our vet and cleaned and wrapped Zach’s hoof to prevent it from tearing his coronet band, commonly referred to as the coronary band.

Zach's Fresh Hoof Injury

Zach’s Fresh Hoof Injury

Zach's Fresh Hoof Injury

Zach’s Fresh Hoof Injury

A consult with our veterinarian, prayers, nature and a course of tucoprim antibiotic for five days and Zach’s hoof is on the mend.  Amazingly no stalling, no soaking and no wrapping after the first day was necessary.  Trimming the torn material like trimming a hang nail worked well!  Thank you Dr. Teri Todd for your expert advice!

Zach’s heel bulb, hoof wall and heel may take six months or more to grow out but with the excess frog material intact and no damage to his coronary band, he is not in danger of permanent lameness.  The frog should provide protection for the newly exposed wall, heel and bulb.

January 4th, Zach is traveling freely at a walk and tender at the trot.  Update:  Wednesday, January 8th, Zach was galloping around the pasture as if nothing had happened.  He will receive frequent examinations and trimming as he heals.  Below is a photo of his hoof six days after he received his injury.  Notice the hoof material missing on the left side.  About half the thickness of Zach’s hoof wall was removed cleanly.

Six Days After Injury

Six Days After Injury

I am always amazed how resilient horses are and how gracious God is.  Zach’s injury could have compromised his coronary band or lamed him up for months.  Healing from the inside out, I am very grateful for his stablility!  More photos and information regarding Zach’s progress will be included in this article in the future.

The following link is provided for more information regarding the anatomy of the horses hoof:

Training Horses and Riding the Trot

This excerpt will be ongoing as I have time to add to it.  Today I will start with thoughts about practicing the seated trot vs. the rising trot, also known as the posting trot.  This article is under construction as of May 23, 2013.

While training horses and understanding their body mechanics and development, a common understanding has been that the rising trot is the most comfortable for the developing horse and beginner rider.  While the seated trot may seam a safer way to ride for a beginner rider in a saddle, it is very uncomfortable and physically inhibiting for a horse that is learning how to balance itself, collect, lengthen, etc. when the rider is bouncing and stiff.  Even a finished horse may express disapproval to a rider trying to ride a seated trot if that rider is rigid and not moving in sync with the horse.

Although the proper way to post a trot takes time to learn and the human to develop balance and strength, it is the preferred method of riding a trotting horse while using a saddle.  Study:  Posting Trot  Also, remembering that there are usually several speeds of trot, a slower speed is easier to ride seated then the faster speeds if one is going to ride the trot seated.


Wet conditions can make horses hooves prone to injury.  In Southeast South Dakota, beginning with the wet Fall of 2009, there was a large increase of hoof abscesses.  The hoof becomes softer and more sensitive to stone bruising, pokes from sharp objects, etc.

Zack punctured his right front coronary band some time in November.  I found him limping and after examining him, was able to locate the source of his pain.  There wasn’t any infection, but the location of the injury caused his lameness for two to three weeks.  This injury did not come out of his sole, but rather became part of his hoof wall and is growing out.  We were one of the lucky incidents of abscesses, as I only needed to pack his injury with furizone and give him some rest along with preventative antibiotics.  Other friends of mine, needed to soak their horses hoof, keep the hoof wrapped between soakings and use stall rest along with antibiotics.  Zack was able to wander in the round pen and hasn’t been lame since the origination event.

After seven months have past, Zack’s abscess is almost grown out.  As you can see by the photos, the stages of development, I’m guessing that it will be two more months before his hoof will be completely healed.  During this time, I hope he won’t go lame, but only time will tell.

Zack’s Abscess, November 2010

Zack’s Abscess, March 2011

Zack’s Abscess, May 2011

Zack’s Abscess, May 2011

My farrier didn’t think we would need to put on a shoe or use a band, so I’ll let nature take its course.  Here is a link of a great article about Hoof Abscesses.

The Mystery of Saddle Fitting 

Let’s try to solve the mystery of an ever changing situation.  As horses develop, training and use causes muscles to change, switching from horse to horse, the notion of one saddle fits all, is not the norm.  From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, the horses body changes with activity and inactivity.  It’s important to notice these changes after each ride and can be seen while brushing a horses back and sides.  If you notice twitching along the spine, a head dropping when you touch an area, the horse moving away while you palpate its back.  You are witnessing signs of soreness.  The following is an article I wrote that includes links to videos and articles that are helpful in explaining some of what may be happening when we ride:  Horseformation

Equine Potomac Fever

In 2010, this virus is showing up in many states including South Dakota.  It is a terrible “wasting” disease that does not need to take the life of your equine companion.  If undetected however, it can result in death.  Please take the time to read what happened to my horse Honor entitled:  Equine Potomac Fever & Honor

Skin Conditions

What are they, what causes them and what cures them?  Three questions that many horse owners ask while caring for horses.

From 2000 to 2010, South Dakota had experienced severe drought.  Beginning with the Fall of 2009 and forward, South Dakota is experiencing extensive flooding and extreme wet conditions.

Accompanying wet conditions, “scratches”, “ick”, “rain rot” and other skin conditions prosper.  Add a plethora of insects to the mix and you have a multitude of skin irritants.  The Spring of 2011 has created an infestation of tics, gnats and mosquitos.   The mosquitos that appeared this Spring are three times the size of the ones we usually have.  With this in mind, they also extract three times the amount of blood.

The best treatment for the above mentioned conditions of “scratches”, “ick” and “rain rot”, that I have used, is povidone iodine 10% solution applied directly to the infected area(s) after removing the scabs and cleansing the area(s) with water.  With once daily treatments, I’ve noticed that if I can keep the infection dry after the solution has dried, it takes roughly 3 days for healing to be nearly completed depending upon the extent of the infection.  Although the iodine solution causes a “heat” sensation for a brief moment, my horse patients have been very receptive to it.  I spray it on and rub it in without any complications.  I let the product dry on the horses.  The yellow stain caused by iodine is easily removed with water and soap if rinsed off your hands before drying.  Staining can occur to some surfaces or materials after the solution is dry.

To help identify skin infections, I’ve attached the following link:  Learn To Identify Horse Skin Problems Here is another article:  How To Treat Horse Scratches

Equine Sarcoids

 In 2006, Theena developed a pencil eraser size bump on her inner right  “butt cheek”.  She was 3 at the time and had been mounted by a Dutch Warmblood gelding twice her size two months prior to the bump appearing.  The gelding came from a Florida training facility to boarding facility where my horses were.  Within in a few days after mounting, the gelding’s sheath swelled up for a couple of months and the attending vet never was able to figure out the cause.  Sound familiar?

My vet at the time, dismissed Theena’s bump as nothing, and in March of 2009, it had tripled in size. When my vet saw the bump this time, she thought we should remove it.  My thought was, why had we waited?  The wait was probably a blessing in disguise because I learned some things about these sarcoids that my vet wasn’t aware of.

Theena's Sarcoid 8/04/09

Theenas Sarcoid 8/04/09

After doing some research, it appears that this sarcoid may be a type that was first discovered in Florida.  Florida is where the gelding was from.  Apparently some sarcoids are like warts, in that they have roots or there may be several other growths under the skin.  Surgery to remove a visible bump may in fact aggravate the viral infection causing the underlying “tumors” to emerge.

Rather than having Theena’s bump removed surgically, which would also leave a scar now, I decided to try a homeopathic remedy.  A friend of mine used a serum to treat a horse with a similar problem and it worked.  Using this same product, I started treating Theena’s bump 3 months ago, and the Carefree Enzymes serum has helped.  Here’s another site for a sarcoid serum

About 3 weeks after starting treatment, the main blood vessel that was feeding the tumor swelled up.  A few days after that, an area the size of my hand, around the tumor, and including the blood vessel, puffed up.  A couple days later, three hidden tumors emerged, dried up and fell off.  Within 10 days this area was “back to normal” with new hair and no sign of the three tumors.

Sarcoid Close Up 8/04/09

Sarcoid Close Up 8/04/09

It has been approximately 1 month since the three tumor episode and now the original one is starting to drain and develop a crust.  Assuming that this product is working, I am very pleased.  I will keep updating this post as the therapy progresses.

Updating from November 4, 2009, the sarcoid has reduced its size by about .25% and I am continuing the current treatment.

I happened upon an article that mentions total healing of a carcinogenic tumors using natural therapies. This gives me more hope.  You can check out this brief amazing story about an arabian named Paladin and Beverly Gray at:

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