Welcome to our blog page, HOOFBEATS, where we talk about
the countryside with a main emphasis on training and caring for horses and ponies. If you would like to contribute ideas and
information about your own experiences, we would be delighted to hear them. Please email to email@example.com or post to our Facebook Page, Horse and Pony
Info. If you're into Twitter, you can contact us @horse_ponyinfo.
The opinions expressed here are from personal experience and we strongly advise you
to contact your vet or your riding instructor if you are seriously worried about your horse.
We have decided to link the website to our Facebook Page, Horse and Pony Info, and have launched an Autumn competition
to mark this step. So if you've got a photo of a small but important pony, why not have a go? You might win First Prize of
€50 and there are other runners up prizes. More info on our competition here. You can view the entries (some shown above) as they come in on Facebook so just click the link opposite to have a look...
We're thrilled with the response to our Facebook page this weekend - about 1,400 'Likes' in only two days so
thank you to all of you who responded. And a special thanks to everyone who left comments and helped out with some of the
horse and pony problems posted by readers on Facebook.
Are Britain and Ireland still two nations of horse lovers?
Reported cases of cruelty and neglect of horses are still rising in both Britain and Ireland
in 2010. Do you believe that we are two nations who love horses? If you live in Ireland and like horses, a good website
to visit is the Irish Horse Welfare Trust (www.ihwt.ie). Irish Horse Welfare Trust not only rescue horses but they also retrain racehorses for a second life away from the racecourse.
If you're interested in horses and live in Great Britain, you might be like to know that World Horse Welfare (www.worldhorsewelfare.org) is hosting The Great British Horse Survey to see if you think Great Britain is still a nation of horse lovers. Go to
www.horsesurvey.co.uk to take part. There are some searching questions to answer but they are also offering a prize.
Why do you think
the present crisis in horse welfare has come about? Is it because people have less money to spend on horses? Were there too
many new owners during the boom time who didn't understand how to care for horses? Were too many horses and ponies bred in
Ireland during the boom years to cater for the increased interest? We would interested to hear your opinion. Drop us a line
at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Rugging up horses and ponies for winter is a hot topic at the moment. We are still experiencing mild days this Autumn,
some temperatures as hot as an Irish summer day. Last week it was 20 degrees in the Midlands. Two days later it was 12 degrees.
How unpredictable is that? But generally the nights are much colder now and frost is forecast. There are plenty of people
visiting this website with rug worries.
Do all horses and ponies need rugs? No, I don't believe so. Small, native ponies and cobs are well
able to do without. Young horses are able to do without. I'm not going to rug up my yearling pony, for instance. I will, however, put
rugs on all old ponies and horses. It is not the cold so much as the rain that bothers horses. We all meet people who
think rugging horses unless in hard work makes them soft but I wouldn't like to see my older equines shivering in the
rain all winter. Horses are living longer and being ridden into their twenties. They deserve looking after - I'll be
writing about caring for older equines in winter soon because they need extra attention when they get
into their twenties.
Rugs will save you money because the horse doesn't have to put so much energy into
keeping warm. I always advise buying a good quality rug because it will last longer and won't slip. I've seen cheaper rugs
torn to sheds by horses in no time. Remember no rug will stay on a horse in wind without a fillet string. The fillet
string ties across the back of the rug under the tail and needs to be fairly tight but not restricting the hind legs.
A slight loop in it is ideal.
Can horses and ponies be kept out at grass in winter while being
ridden? Yes, definitely. I do this with ones which are only in light work. Most of them are not
clipped under the rug. They are fed hay and hard feed in the fields and are perfectly happy. Some in harder work who
sweat more are given a 'belly clip' which is where the hair is clipped from the stomach and up the neck. This is a good
clip for ones who live out with a rug all winter. A 'low trace clip' also works where a small amount of hair
is removed along the sides of the horse. I would never clip a horse completely 'out' (where you remove all the hair -
also called a 'hunter clip') and expect him to live out. Horses and ponies clipped out completely need to be stabled.
More info on clipping.
A sarcoid is the most common form of skin cancer in equines and is often not malignant. Three of my horses and ponies have
had a sarcoid at some stage. In all three cases they were non maligant and, I'm glad to report, have now gone. Some sarcoids
can be difficult to treat and can spread. They are also very nasty when near a vulnerable part of the body, such as the eye,
and I would recommend veterinary advice early on. Different horses react in different ways to them and they are a worldwide
problem affecting all types of breeds.
My first experience of a sarcoid was many years ago when a thoroughbred
developed one on his sheath. It was a small, hard lump and grew quite quickly to about the size of a cherry. I called the
vet and she suggested surgery. She removed the sarcoid and sent it to the Equine Laboratory where they examined it and prepared
a vaccine which was then given to the horse in two stages. I have read more recently that vaccines against sarcoids are not
supposed to work but something worked in this thoroughbred's case as the sarcoid never regrew. The horse lived to be
30 and never had another one.
An Irish Sports Horse had an enormous sarcoid under his hind leg when a young horse,
before I bought him. I know this because I got him from a neighbour next door. This sarcoid was about the size of a tennis
ball and was raw and bleeding at times. I don't know whether the sarcoid was removed by a vet or whether it fell off but it
was gone by the time he came to my stables. There is, however, still a scar where it used to be so perhaps it was surgically
removed. I've had the horse 14 years and he still hasn't produced another one.
My third sarcoid case was last
year when one appeared on a 24 year old pony. At first I thought it might be a melanoma because he is a grey and greys are
particularly prone to melanomas but the round hard lump on his sheath grew very rapidly over the summer months and became
raw in one place where he rubbed it when lying down. It was about the size of a cherry when I asked the vet about it and she
did not recommend surgery because of his age. Vets are reluctant to put older horses and ponies under general anaesthetic
unless absolutely necessary. She suggested leaving it alone and said it might fall off. The sarcoid was still there in the
winter but not so raw because the flies weren't irritating it. One day after the winter was over I noticed that it had gone.
I was lucky in this case because the sarcoid had fallen off and his sheath is now perfect with no scarring.
The results of our Survey are posted opposite this blog. I suppose it's no surprise that windsucking is the Number One worry.
It is an unpleasant habit in a horse and is obviously very common. Unfortunately there are no guarantees of curing a windsucker
but it can be helped so click here for more info.
Winter care and winter rugging of horses and ponies are top of readers' agendas at the moment. It's always difficult
in Spring and Autumn to know when to put on the rugs. I'm still putting on the light waterproof Summer rugs but the horses
and ponies are getting noticeably more hairy. The trouble is, it can still be very warm during the day time, sometimes 17
degrees, and I don't want them to sweat under heavier rugs. Click here for more info.
Sensitive feet and stone bruises came next in the list. Some horses and ponies just seem prone to sensitive
feet, whether they've had laminitis or not. Two of my laminitis candidates both have sensitive feet but a horse which has
never had laminitis is always sensitive after the farrier has been. Some horses will go slightly lame after the farrier has
pared back their feet but this usually gets better within a few days. If it doesn't, be sure to call the farrier
back to check what is wrong. Click here for more info about treating stone bruises and abcesses in the feet.
Laminitis is always a worry for horse and pony owners,
especially if you own a fat, little native breed type pony. Don't believe people who tell you that they will only get laminitis
in Spring and Summer. My 178cm horse got it in December once, although it was a very mild December. If the grass on your lawn
is growing fast and very green, watch out for laminitis. Restrict the grass amount and give the animal more hay instead. Click here for more info.
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FURminator Equine - We recently bought one of these ourselves and have found it great. It effortlessly removed loose
hair and the horses really seem to enjoy being groomed with it. We even tried it out on our dog! Obviously you need to take
care not to use it on parts of the body where the bone is close to the surface, such as face and legs. (by Suzanne Lalor,
Horse and Pony Info)
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Answer to Horse Breed Puzzle
There are 5 breeds mentioned: Shetland, New Forest, Welsh Mountain, Thoroughbred
and Irish Draught.
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