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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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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rolling Stones Ron Wood donates print to Irish Horse Welfare Trust Internet Auction
This painting is by Rolling Stones musician and artist Ron Wood who has donated a print of itRonWoodprint.JPG to support the charity Christmas auction launched by The Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT). The IHWT, Ireland’s equine welfare charity, is hosting its annual Christmas Internet Auction to raise funds for its work rescuing, re-habilitating and re-homing horses at the charity’s farm in County Wicklow. There are a lot of other interesting items in the auction which would make ideal Christmas presents. More than 60 equines are being looked after by the IHWT at present so please support them if you can by logging on to http://www.ihwt.ie/auction to place your bid. The auction commences at 9am on Friday 26th November and will close at 5pm on Monday 6th December.

9:45 pm gmt 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Better to share or loan a horse or pony before buying
We asked our friends on Facebook yesterday for their advice to an imaginary best friend who was about to buy a horse or pony for the first time. To our surprise, nearly all the answers were a resounding 'Don't!'

Some good suggestions were made, such as putting off buying until the friend had more experience, finding a pony or horse to share first or helping out at a riding school. All of these are important to consider before taking the plunge and purchasing your own animal. Ask yourself if you really need your own. Both Ireland and the United Kingdom are flooded with unwanted horses and ponies while rescue agencies work night and day to cope with the lame, sick and abandoned equines coming through their gates that many people thought they wanted and now either don't or can't afford to keep.

If you've no experience of owning a horse, put up a notice in a local riding school or tack shop and see if anyone wants a hand. By helping other horsey people, you'll find out if this is what you really want and if you've got the time and the money to cope. A horse is a huge commitment and the most expensive part begins after you've written the cheque to buy him.

We've more info on buying here, and an article written by a 12 year old about her first pony here and, if you'd like to see photos and stories of rescued equines who've found kind homes, visit our Rescue page.
2:27 pm gmt 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Filled legs and feeding horses
Last week we received a query about the connection between filled legs in horses and feeding and, three days later, I went out to feed my own horses and found that the Irish Draught x had four extremely puffy, filled legs.

Sometimes, especially with a larger, older horse, his legs are slightly filled in the mornings and this disappears as soon as he has walked a few rounds of his stable while waiting for his breakfast. Once his circulation starts moving, the filling goes down. Last week, however, the filling only slightly went down and was worse in the off fore leg. What could have caused this? I knew he had only been for a hack the day before.

His diet had been the same for months but I then remembered that the feed supplement I give him had not been available in 'Original' at our local feed store and I had been sold a 'Pro' version for the same price. The 'Pro' version is for eventers and horses in hard work (not like my old horse who takes life easy now he's semi-retired) and, even though I had been warned to cut the amount back by half, it was obviously still too much protein for him.

I reduced the horse's feed immediately, gave him only one feed instead of two that day, let him out in a field without too much grass and fed no supplement for several days. His legs were soon back to normal.

So, if you find four filled legs greeting you in the morning, reduce the feed straight away, especially the protein amount. Increased exercise and harder work both help as well. Feeding a horse is a fine balancing act between type of horse, type of work, weight of horse, etc. so, no matter how long we have owned horses, we are always adjusting feed to suit each individual.

Please note: four filled legs is usually a sign of a feed problem, one filled leg is more serious as it could mean an infection.
8:58 am gmt 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Teaching horses to load
Hallowe'en has been and gone for another year and hopefully our animals have survived all the bangs and flashes associated with fireworks. Fireworks are actually illegal in the Republic of Ireland but authorities turn a blind eye to the displays around the countryside at the end of October. One of my horses hates the noise so much that he won't eat his dinner but stands stiff, looking over his stable door,waiting for the world to end! The dog is also a total wimp when it comes to bangers.

We've had a great response to our launch on Facebook and, to date, have about 2,344 friends on our page. Thank you to all who helped with suggestions when others posted problems or queries. One such enquiry was for tips about loading horses.

Train to load long before you need to go anywhere - The main thing to remember when teaching a horse or loading a difficult one is to take your time and not get angry. If loading a young one for the first time, start weeks before you need to go anywhere. Lead the horse up the ramp while you look forwards and don't turn to look back at the horse as he may find it intimidating. If you have a front ramp, open this and walk the horse through several times before you close the ramps. Always try to park the horse trailer in a gateway where there is no escape route on either side, or put a safe barrier, such as bales of hay or straw, on each side. Some people suggested feeding the horse in the box or giving him his breakfast in it each day. Try to make it a pleasurable experience because horses are flight animals and are not used to going into tight spaces. It's also a good idea to take out a partition if loading for the first time to allow him more space. 
If there is no partition in the box, be sure to tie the horse with two ropes, one on either side, to prevent him turning around.

If the horse won't go into the trailer - Try clipping a lunge rope (line) onto one side of the trailer and (you need two people for this) bring it slowly around behind him. This will prevent him moving backwards and should encourage him to walk up the ramp. The lunge rein will act as a barrier, and can be wrapped round the rump of the horse to encourage it to move forward. Try to be as calm and quiet as possible, do not look the horse in the eye as this is threatening to them. If you have a bucket of feed, gently coax the horse in by shaking it. Each step that it takes up the ramp, praise him/her and reward with a little food. Parelli often encourages people to open up back and front ramps and to practise walking through with the horse, until he/she feels more comfortable with it.
Take your time and don't get frustrated and angry. Terrible battles loading horses cause accidents as horses rear or plunge about so be calm and patient.

If all else fails, put a pony or a quiet horse in the trailer - This acts as encouragement for the other horse to load. Go on a short journey the first time and don't drive too fast, especially when going round a corner as this can unbalance the horse and even throw him off his feet. Keep to the speed limit for towing a trailer (about 50 mph) and don't frighten your horse. A horse or pony who has had a bad experience in a horse trailer will always remember it.

I read on Facebook yesterday that Monty Roberts was in Southhampton in the UK last week and someone rode a horse 18 miles so that Monty could teach him to load! There's desperation for you...

Click to see who contributed to this
9:34 am gmt 

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


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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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