Snake Bites in Horses

Horses are most commonly bitten by poisonous snakes, such as rattlesnakes, copperheads and coral snakes, in the spring and summer months. Horses at pasture are often bitten on the nose and head. Bites to the head and nose are true medical emergencies. These may cause swelling of the nose and surrounding tissue, making it difficult for the horse to breathe. Bites to the legs are less common and less serious, and usually occur during rides through snake-infested areas. In addition to swelling, the venom causes tissue destruction and blood clotting problems.

If Your Horse is Bitten by a Snake

  1. If you see or hear snake when riding, move away from the area.
  2. If you think your horse has been bitten, move away from the area, dismount and examine the legs for blood, swelling or puncture marks.
  3. Slowly hand walk the horse back to the stable or trailer.
  4. Keep the horse calm.

Treatment of Snake Bites

If you are unsure whether your horse was bitten, clip the hair on the legs and examine for dark oozing blood, puncture holes (1 or 2), swelling or discoloration of the wound area. If you find a snake bite after clipping away the hair, apply cold packs to the area. Do not apply ice directly to the skin, as this will freeze the skin and further damage the tissue. You may be initially unable to determine if your horse has been bitten. Observe your horse’s legs or muzzle for 1-2 hours for signs of swelling, blood, or discoloration. Medical treatment involves the use of antibiotics to prevent infection at the bite site and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

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Of Horses and Names

What’s in a name? Everything, apparently. Where naming your Thoroughbred is concerned, you need to follow a lot of rules set forth by the Jockey Club. And they’re not few nor are they hassle-free to follow.

To make it easy to monitor all age groups for the races, January 1 is the set birthday of all horses. You must register your horse within a year after its actual date of birth. Take note that you can’t register an equine that has been artificially inseminated, cloned or whose embryo has been transferred. The horse must be the product of an actual physical mating. To be eligible for registration, the foal’s parents must be registered with the Jockey Club and to prove parentage, it must undergo a DNA or blood test.

You have to name your horse by February of its second year or suffer late fee charges. You submit six names to the Jockey Club, the first one being your most preferred. The long and short of it is that the ultimate decision as to which name to give your horse actually lies with the Jockey Club.

However, there are a lot of prohibitions to follow when choosing a name for your horse. For instance, you may not use more than 18 characters, spaces and punctuation marks included, for your horse’s name. Your horse’s name must not also end with horse-related terms such as “filly,” “colt,” “mare,” “stallion” or others of a similar nature. You may not use initials such as C.O.D., F.O.B nor can you use names of graded stakes races or racetracks. And if you’re thinking of naming your horse after a winner in the Kentucky Derby for the past 25 years, forget it. You may not use any name of any past winner of a graded 1 stakes race.

If you want to use numbers to name your horse, you can only do so for numerals above thirty and this must be spelled out. However, numerical designations such as “2nd,” “3rd” and so forth may not be used regardless of whether this is spelled out or not. Vulgar, obscene or offensive names that could potentially humiliate, harass or disparage any religious, political or ethnic group is definitely not allowed.

This is just a beginner’s introduction of the long list of rules for naming your horse. This gives you an idea of how tough it is to come up with names for your equine. Apparently, for racehorses, everything is in a name.

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What Is the Best Way to Clean a Horse Stall?

Your horse will spend a large portion of its day in its stall, so it is crucial that the stall is kept as clean and comfortable as possible. Most horse owners completely clean out their horse’s stall every one to four weeks. The frequency with which you decide to completely clean the stall depends largely on how often the horse is in the stall. However, mucking out the stall should be a daily occurrence. The daily stall cleaning process is best done through:

  1. Dressing for the Job – Gloves and rubber boots are ideal. This will ensure that you do not ruin your riding boots.
  2. Clearing the Stall – Make sure that your horse is out of the stall. Make sure to also remove the feed tubs, water buckets, and anything else in the stall.
  3. Mucking Out the Stall – Remove manure and soiled bedding. This is most often accomplished with the use of a pitchfork or shovel.
  4. Checking for Insects – Make sure to check for, and remove, insects and spider webs throughout the stall.
  5. Replacing Bedding – Replace the soiled horse bedding that you removed with clean bedding. Fluff the fresh bedding with a pitchfork or shovel and make sure that the bedding is evenly distributed throughout the stall.
  6. Odor Control – When conducting a complete clean, you may want to use odor control products or stable disinfectant. Make sure to let the floor dry before adding the new horse bedding.
  7. Replacing Stall Items – Replace feed tubs, water buckets, and everything else that your horse requires in their stall.

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Training Your Horse for Hoof Trimming

Training your horse to have its hooves trimmed is very much like halter training them, with a few twists and turns. The horse should be willing to stand completely still, lift its feet when commanded to do so, and let you work on that foot until you put down.

You would be surprised how many horses simply don’t stand still, this is a sure sign of incomplete halter training. You will want your horse to be able to move backward, forward, left or right, move the front quarters, move the back quarters, all on your command signal. The command signals that you choose to use, may be moving the lead rope, applying pressure with your hand on the part you want move, or on a more advanced level just using your energy to move the horse. Once you’ve taught your horse to move on your signal, you then teach them not to move until you give them the signal to do so.

It is much easier to get the horse to lift its foot if it is standing in a balanced position, don’t ask him to pick up his foot if most of his weight is on that foot, it’s just not going to happen. You want the horse to be able pickup it’s foot without falling on top of you, so be very aware if your horse is standing balanced or not.

How to signal your horse to pick up his foot is completely up to you, here is what I do, first of all before I ever touched the foot, I make sure I can touch my horse all over the body before ever running my hand down the leg. I then run my hand down below the hock or the knee, I kiss to the horse as I do this, so horse knows I want them to do something. If the horse still won’t pick up it’s leg, I apply some pressure to the leg. Applying pressure can be done in a number of different ways, squeezing the tendon behind the cannon bone, squeezing the chestnut, digging in the fingernail to the side of that cannon bone, or gently tapping the cannon bone with your hand or the wooden part of your hoof knife. You do whatever you have to do to get them to lift the leg.

If the horse lifts it’s leg ever so slightly, maybe just taking the weight off from it, I release the leg, and stand up rub their body a bit and tell them they did a good job. You want to reward the horse for any try whatsoever when lifting their legs, this will create better communications with your horse and reward them for listening to you. You will want to increase the time of the leg being off the ground until is long enough that you could actually trim the horse, by doing it without your tools for a while, when the time arrives to actually trim your horse it will be a breeze.

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Horse Weaving – Things to Consider for Stopping the Issue

Like humans, emotional issues can also cause numerous problems in animals. Horse weaving is also one such issue that are encounter by many horse owners. If you are one amongst them, you should make sure that you are taking the right measures to get rid of the problem. Even though, there are numerous medical practices as well as programs in the market to solve these issues, most of them are not able to provide good results. Therefore, before you plan to buy any type of products to treat the issue, make sure you do a proper research and know about the product you are selecting.

As weaving is an annoying habit, they will also create various health issues if not treated properly. Moreover, as it is easy, most of the horses will pick up these habits very easily. When a horse will start weaving, he or she is usually walking in the place, swaying his or her front as well as neck side to side repetitively. This will usually take place in the stall door where the horse will be able to look through the grill. However, there are few simple things that you can consider to get rid of these issues from your horses.

According to the experts, weaving, wind sucking, wood chewing etc are caused due to stress in horses. Most of the horses that are locked in the boxes for a long time are prone to this problem. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that your horse is not under any metal depression and if it is, taking some of the simple measures like exercising, walking, riding etc will help him or her to come out of their metal stress easily.

When you are installing a stall for your horse, make sure you have enough space to set up a perfect stall. In case, if you are not able to build the correct size stall, there are numerous experts who will help you. Moreover, as soon as you see any changes in the behavior of your horse, make sure you will consult a specialist and try to eliminate the problem in the starting stage itself. An experienced specialist will also provide you all the necessary aspects that you must consider for maintaining the health of your horse. It is also quite imperative to provide foods that are rich in nutrition for your horses.

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Safety Tips for You and Your Horse

Horses are big animals and at any given moment they could hurt us if they wanted.  Here are Six Key Tips to Help Keep You and Your Horse Safe

  1. When you are working on the ground with your horse try to keep an invisible four foot circle between you and your horse. You will use this space as your personal space. Unless you are inviting him in for a scratch or reward keep him out. You cannot get bit, kicked, or run over if you keep him out of your personal space
  2. When feeding, teach your horse to back up or stay put until you have his feed on the ground or in his food bucket. When giving a treat try to always go to your horse not the other way around. Horses can get down right pushy if they are coming up to you for a treat. Then make them back up or stand and be patient before you offer them the treat.
  3. Don’t stand directly in front of a horse. If he were to spook at something he would run over you. Try standing at a 45 degree angle at the shoulder or hind end.
  4. Try to do ground work before you get on your horse to ride, especially if he hasn’t been ridden for a few days or if the weather is cool and windy. He can be pretty frisky and may just try to buck you off. Get your horses respect before you get on.
  5. Make sure your equipment (saddle, bridle cinch) is in good shape before riding. You wouldn’t want anything to break or come loose while you are out on your horse. Make sure the cinch is tight while riding to prevent it from sliding over.
  6. Use protective boots on your horse when you are competing or any strenuous exercise such as quick turns or sliding stops. This will help prevent injuries to his legs.

It may take a little more of your time to follow these tips but it’s better to be Safe than sorry. Remember to have fun but safety comes first.

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Fighting Off Your Horse’s Cribbing Habit

Cribbing is an obsessive activity that most tamed horses pick up. Some people wonder why it is picked up by horses that are in the stables instead of those who are roaming the wild. The answer is this: although there may be some reasons why cribbing develops in the horse’s behaviour, the underlying cause of cribbing is boredom. Yes, boredom is the reason why most tamed horses pick up this bad habit. Here are some of the reasons why wild horses do not pick up this habit and why tamed horses do.

Horses who feed on grass have high fiber intake while tamed or stabled horses are fed rations that are concentrated and cause them to have high energy levels. Cribbing can not be observed in pasture-raised horses since they have a lot of activity going on as they forage for food in the wild and in their grazing lands. On the other hand, tamed horses who feed on high-energy food are kept in their stables for a long time and left with nothing to do which leave them nowhere to place the energy that they have. Because of this the inherent grazing nature that they have are repressed which intensify their level of boredom. They substitute this repressed instincts into substitutes acts such as cribbing. The higher the level of boredom, the more repetitive this behaviour becomes which later on turns into a habit.

The reason why this becomes a habit is because of the pleasure that the horses get when they suck in air and release a belching sound. One way to make the act less pleasurable is by painting on the fences, gates and divisions that the horse uses to press their teeth on, with an anti-crib fluid. Doing this will make the object less appetizing. If you cannot find any of these fluids, you can mix up your own by using petroleum jelly and cayenne pepper. Before you use anything, make sure that you consult your veterinarian about the possible side effects of any mixture that you make. While it is good to reduce the frequency of cribbing, it is also important that all the techniques you use in doing so won’t harm the horses in any way.

You can also reduce the frequency of cribbing by altering the appearance of the object that the horse bites on so that it will not appear to be tempting. Take away all items that are crib-friendly. Do not leave the top gate open and cover the stall edges with a metal trim.

Lastly, adjust the horse’s feed basin or water bucket. Raise it to a level that is as high as the horse’s chest and remove all edges that are of the same height. Doing this will disable the horse to bend his neck.

If you have done all these measures but your horse still picks up the habit, it is best that you consult your veterinarian to make sure that there is no medical explanation of the cause of your horse’s cribbing.

Don’t worry, these very bad habits can be broken.
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Operating all four corners of your horse!

Cost Effective Ways to Manage Horse Wounds

An inevitable part of owning a horse is dealing with wounds and injuries. As much as well all hate to think about it, they happen and when they do, you will need to know what to do to care for your equine friend. The good news is much of the basic wound care can be done quite easily, and in a very cost effective manner.

How Horses Become Wounded

Horses by nature are active creatures that enjoy running, jumping, and frolicking about. Because of this nature, they tend to become injured from objects they encounter during their daily activities. Nails, fencing, barbed wire, metal, and glass are all objects that can be readily found around the stables and barnyard. Horses can run into these things, step on them, or become stuck. This can result in a wide variety of injuries such as scrapes, cuts, puncture wounds, and even sores. Minor injuries can be easily treated by you; however more serious injuries should always be checked by a veterinarian to ensure infection does not set in. Even in the case of a more serious injury, you should still know how to properly administer first aid until help arrives.

What You Will Need For Basic First Aid

Every horseperson should have a proper first aid kit handy to care for their equine friend. In fact, you should have multiple kits for different purposes; one for the barn, one to pack to take with you on rides, and one in your trailer for travel. This kit can be easily assembled by gathering items you have around your home, or items you can pick up for a reasonable cost at any drug, wholesale, or feed store.

Your equine first aid kit should consist of the following:

  • A roll of gauze and gauze squares for dressing wounds;
  • Adhesive tape, or duct tape for keeping wound dressings in place;
  • Hand towels or cut up bath towels for cleaning wounds or for stopping bleeding;
  • Scissors;
  • Q-tips;
  • A spray bottle or two;
  • Tweezers;
  • Leg wraps;
  • Betadine or disinfectant;
  • Antibiotic ointments;
  • Petroleum jelly;
  • A large syringe for flushing out wounds;
  • Plenty of sterile saline solution.

How To Care For Wounds

The first step to caring for horse wounds of any kind is to always clean the area thoroughly. Using the sterile saline solution from your kit, spray the entire affected area to flush the wound in order to wash out as much dirt, debris, and bacteria as possible. Make sure you use plenty of solution and spray in a way that the excess will pour downward to the ground taking all unwanted bacteria with it. From this point, the care will vary a bit depending on the nature of the wound.

For abrasions: Abrasions can occur in many ways, from falling and sliding, to simply bumping into an object and skinning an area. Make sure you thoroughly inspect the area to make sure there are no more serious injuries such as a broken bone, a puncture, or other damage. Assuming there is nothing more seriously wrong, clean the area with the saline as directed above, and then disinfect the wound with a betadine solution to kill any bacteria. Make sure you clean the area gently, and never scrub or put too much pressure on the wound. The affected area will be sore for several days, so use care when handling your horse. It could take a few weeks for the wound to completely disappear depending on the degree of the injury. If the area starts to swell, you can hose it off with cold water from a garden hose to help reduce the swelling and provide a bit of comfort. A vitamin E ointment can be applied to help with healing and to protect it from dirt and other debris. If for any reason the wound does not seem to be healing, seems to be getting worse, or the horse in a great deal of pain, you will need to contact a veterinarian.

For puncture wounds: Puncture wounds can vary a great deal in seriousness depending on where they are located on the body, how large they are, and how deep they are. If the puncture has occurred anywhere on the chest or abdomen, seek professional help immediately; injuries in this area can harm internal organs. If the puncture is on the legs, hip, or hindquarter area, begin by checking to make sure there is nothing still inside the wound, measure the depth by using a Q-tip, clean the wound out with saline, and bandage properly. If the puncture is bleeding, but does not appear to be too deep or have anything in the wound, attempt to stop the bleeding by using gauze or a clean towel. Once the bleeding has stopped, clean the wound with saline, check the depth, and bandage. If the puncture has left the skin around the wound jagged or torn, properly clean and then wrap the area with bandages that have been dampened with sterile saline.

For lacerations: In many cases, lacerations need to be examined by a veterinarian and will need a course of antibiotics to help prevent infection. However, you can treat most lacerations yourself until you can seek professional help. Begin by thoroughly examining the leg to make sure a more serious injury has not occurred to the tendons or ligaments. If your horse has suddenly gone lame, check it over to look for even the smallest lacerations. Even a very superficial cut can cause your horse to become temporarily lame. Finding and treating these cuts early can drastically reduce permanent problems and damage. After examining the horse, place a leg wrap on the horse’s other legs to help it support the extra amount of weight that is shifted from the injured leg. Next, clean the cut with sterile saline and try to judge whether or not the cut is deep enough to warrant stitches. If it does not appear too deep, wrap it thoroughly with gauze and a bandage.

Remember, your horse may be in pain, and may not realize that you are trying to help when it is injured. Always approach with caution and use extra care to help calm and soothe your horse. If you do not feel comfortable treating the injury yourself, seek help immediately. The last thing you will want is for you to become injured as well.

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How to Tell the Age of a Horse From His Teeth

The age old practice of telling the age of a horse by looking at its teeth is one that continues even in this day and age. While it is not always an exact science due to better equine dental supplies in the modern age, the general concepts will hold true.

A horse grows two separate sets of teeth during its lifetime similar to a human. They grow baby teeth and permanent teeth. When a horse has grown its permanent set of teeth to completion it is considered to have a ‘full mouth’. It is easier to determine a horses age accurately when it is younger. However, with practice the general age of a horse can be determined at any stage of its life.

Early Life

From the time a horse is born until it is roughly two weeks old the foal will will have two central upper and lower incisors. In latter weeks, roughly four to six, the laterals will appear. The corners appear after six to nine months.

After roughly a year of its life passes a horse will develop a full incisor set. This includes the middle, six upper, and lower teeth.

Usually the need for dentistry or equine dental supplies is fairly low at this time unless the horse has damaged their teeth in some fashion. A young horse that has trouble eating due to damaged teeth might not survive. Equine dentistry floats can be used if it is absolutely necessary. However, there is usually no reason to considering the fact that in time the horse will lose these teeth anyway.

After around two and a half years of life the central incisors, both the upper and lower teeth, will usually fall out. Afterward the permanent teeth will develop. This loss and replacement will continue with the laterals within the next year. In the same vein up to another year might pass while the corner teeth fall out and are replaced by their permanent versions.

As soon as the new teeth begin growing in they start to feel wear and tear. Confined horses may require more dental work than free-grazing ones. The natural grazing patterns of a horse will wear at the teeth and generally keep them smooth and somewhat even. In confinement this does not happen and the horse will require their teeth to be floated more often. Unlike human teeth, a horse’s teeth will continue growing throughout its life. If they are not being worn naturally equine dentistry floats will be needed to keep their teeth smooth and even.

During the time that these teeth are growing to completion, at around four to five years of age, some horses may develop small pointed canine style teeth behind their corner teeth. These are called tushes. This is a solid milestone for determining a horse’s general age as this readily marks them as being at least four or five years old.

By the time a horse is six years old they will normally have their permanent teeth. This is the time a horse owner should become intimately concerned with the horse’s teeth.

Adult Life

When horses have completely grown their permanent teeth this is not the end. There are a few more movements the horse’s mouth and teeth will make.

At age seven a hook will begin to show along the corner teeth in the upper jaw. A similar one will show up at age nine as well. At age eight the real difficulty in telling a horse’s age will begin. The primary methods for determining age will be made via the shape, surface wear and tear, and the markings on them.

Around this age a ‘dental star’ will normally show on the centrals. The laterals will begin to show triangular shapes on the tables of the laterals.

At the tenth year of a horse’s life a dark marking on the upper corner of the incisors will begin. This is known as Galvayne’s Groove. This groove grows downward as the horse ages. When this groove is about halfway down the corner teeth the horse will generally be about fifteen years old. A dental star should have appeared on all of the incisors by the time they are ten years of age as well..

When a horse is twenty years old the groove should reach down to the bottom of the teeth. At the top it will have begun to disappear. Normally the teeth will also slope outward by the point. By the time they reach the venerable age of twenty-five half of the groove should be missing from the top down. As the horse continues to age the gums will begin to recede causing the teeth to appear longer with each passing year.

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