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Hoofbeats - The Blog 

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 editor@horseandponyinfo.com or post to our Facebook Page, Horse and Pony Info. If you're into Twitter, you can contact us @horse_ponyinfo.

IMPORTANT - The opinions expressed here are from personal experience and we strongly advise you to contact your veterinary surgeon or your riding instructor if you are seriously worried about your horse. Prompt action is important.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Small but Important Ponies - new competition

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.

10:29 pm gmt 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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 editor@horseandponyinfo.com .
6:00 pm gmt 

Friday, October 15, 2010

To rug or not to rug in winter?

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.


8:32 am gmt 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Equine sarcoids can affect all breeds worldwide

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.

5:50 pm gmt 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Results of September Survey on Horse Worries
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.
8:37 am gmt 

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Horses racing on a frozen lake in Switzerland
copyright: Gilles Oster - Fotolia.com


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UK and Ireland


Reading on the beach or in the bath? - STAR PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

I'm addicted to reading and I love the NEW KINDLE OASIS because it's waterproof. Believe it or not, you can drop it into water and it will still work. No more worries about taking my Kindle to the beach or pool. It's ideal for my husband who likes to read - and fall asleep - in the bath! It's also got built-in Audible so I don't need to take two devices with me and can switch from reading to listening whenever I want.

(Suzanne - Editor of Horse and Pony Info) 

Watch out for laminitis in small ponies and Native Breeds. Keeping weight under control is vital.


Bitless riding is becoming more popular. Read our articles by three experienced bitless riders


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