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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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Monday, April 18, 2011

Laminitis Alert!

Well, I'm not complaining about April so far. We've had a weekend of lovely weather, birds singing happily in the trees and a visit from a family with two teenage girls who like riding our horses and ponies. The only blot on this idyllic landscape is the lush, green grass shooting out of the earth. A sudden flush of grass is a major warning... Laminitis!

We've got a horse and a pony here who have both suffered bouts of laminitis, a crippling condition which is supposed to be as painful for equines as it is for humans to walk around all day in shoes one size too small. The fructans (sugars) in grass are particularly dangerous for native breeds and overweight horses and ponies. Equines who have suffered from laminitis in the past will easily get it again, even if they don't look overweight, so be on the look out now. If the grass on your lawn is growing rapidly, be extra vigilent.

Exercise and diet are very important. Restrict hours of grazing, avoiding early morning when fructans in grass are high. Keep laminitis candidates in sand arenas to walk around or on bare fields. Feed hay instead and high fibre chops to give them enough fibre. If at all possible, ride or loose lunge horses and ponies to keep them exercised and fit as this really helps to keep the dreaded condition at bay.

Above all, if your horse or pony looks at all stiff, bring him in immediately and keep off grass until he is able to move freely again. Laminitis is a serious, life threatening condition. Don't worry unnecessarily as many of us hope well with it but always call the vet if you haven't dealt with it before.

A big thank you to all who helped us with suggestions. You can read their helpful hints here on our new page which is devoted to dealing with laminitis.

6:26 pm gmt 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Warmer weather brings swallows and lice

First, a quick word on our Online Show: we were overwhelmed by entries with more than 550 which was amazing considering we restricted people to one entry per class. With ten classes altogether, we were very busy for the last month creating photo albums on Facebook where others could see the photos. We're publishing one result each day and to see the ones who have won prizes and rosettes so far, click here.

Welcome visitors

Warmer weather and April signals the return of swallows from South Africa to our stable yards in Ireland and the UK. We asked for first sightings to be recorded and so far we've had two on Saturday, 2nd April in West Sussex and Leicestershire, one on Sunday, 3rd on the coast in Co. Wexford, two on Monday, 4th in Aberdeenshire and Wrexham, North East Wales and another today in Co. Kildare. None yet at our own stables but we look forward to seeing these little jet plane like birds who will hopefully bring spring and summer with them. My mother has an old saying she often quotes: 'One swallow does not a summer make'. You never know what you're going to get in Ireland but it's always heartening to see the swallows and house martins return.

Unwelcome visitors

We've had several enquiries about coping with lice on horses and ponies. Unfortunately eggs hatch out in warmer weather and cause itching and discomfort for equines and other animals like cattle. Lice are often common on horses which are run down or in need of worming. Spring is always a good time to worm your horse as red worms also start multiplying. Use an ivermectin paste to worm or ask your local stockist for advice. 

It's a good idea to wash and disinfect your rugs and brushes also if your horse or pony has lice to stop them spreading. Usually lice appear in the mane and at the top of the tail so have a good look if your horse is scratching. Deosect was recommended on our Facebook page by one owner and she used it again one week later to kill off any more lice that hatched since the first treatment. It is apparently available to buy on the internet. Another owner recommended a lice treatment which is used by farmers for cows so it is worth asking about this in your local store as agricultural items are often cheaper than equine ones. 

If all else fails and you can't get rid of the lice, consult your vet. The lice treatment we used some years ago on a pony which came into our yard from elsewhere crawling with them is now only available through a vet. Unfortunately the powder you buy in tack shops, although less toxic, may not always be strong enough.


2:38 pm 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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