Category Archives: Health & Nutrition

Hock injections – my 2-year-old AQHA filly needs them. Are they safe? How long until the horse is sound?

Quarter Horse hockQuestion: Last year I purchased a 2-year-old quarter horse filly. She is a complete doll but when I was starting her she turned up lame. I was boarding her at a stable with someone that had 30 years + experience with Arabians. I asked that she would be fed a hay mixture with little alfalfa as she was still young and growing. Soon after I went away and was not able to see my filly for a while. I asked one of my friends to go and check on her and spend time with her. Soon after I left, my friend informed me that my filly was receiving pure alfalfa. I had her moved. When I returned I waited a while as my filly grew about so much and her butt was about 2 hands higher than her withers She evened out some and then I started her. Soon after she was stiff in her left hock. I called the vet and I was told by that she had a bone lesion (spur) in her hock, then seeking another opinion another vet told me all she needed was her hock injected and stall rest and she would recover. I am wondering was you think? I stopped working with her while waiting for a slot with the vet to open up and she was fine…. so I lunged her a little and she was fine for about a week and then her hock started to hurt again. I then contacted another vet and they came and looked at her and they too though all she needed was her hocks injected. How long do you think it will take her to recover?

Answer from April Reeves: First, I am so glad you called not one, but two vets. To all who read this, you are a ‘shining’ example of the care and attention a horse needs.

Hock injections can and do work, but there are many questions that need to be answered before anyone injects anything.

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My horse is stumbling. What could be the cause?

horse falling from stumblingQuestion: I have a mare I have been riding since July. She was out of shape when I started riding her and I built her up by riding just a little bit more each time. In the past couple months she keeps falling on her knees at a walk for no reason. What would cause a horse to do this? It’s very dangerous so I am not riding her any more until I find out what is wrong with her. I don’t know much of her history but I really love this horse. What can I do for her?

Answer from April Reeves: Many things come to mind for this symptom.

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Wheat bran or rice bran? Which should I feed my horse?

Horse eating hay - a good source of fibre and energyQuestion: Which bran has a better laxative quality – wheat or rice? I was told that rice bran is a better choice for horses. Which has the higher fibre? Can I feed it for additional fibre?

Answer from April Reeves with excerpts from Marijke van de Water: I hate to burst your bubble, but neither wheat nor rice bran is a laxative to the horse. I am curious why you need a laxative product? If your horse is having problems with constipation, adding any bran to the equation will have little to no effect. It’s important to understand the cause of your horse’s problem and solve that first.

While both brans have great fibre content, feeding hay will also get you the fibre your horse needs. There is no need to feed bran for fibre. Bran has many more advantages than just fibre.

I will give you a few excerpts from Marijke van de Water’s book, “Healing Horses Their Way” so that you may make an educated decision on which is the right one for your horse.

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Why do horses dunk their hay and can you teach them not to?

horse drinkingQuestion: My horse dunks his hay every time he takes a bite. It’s very annoying and I wish I could get him out of this habit but I’m not sure how to do this. Do you have any suggestions? His water bucket gets dirty and then he won’t drink from it.

Answer from April Reeves: Your horse is trying to tell you something, but you are not listening. No horse performs an action on his own without value and use.

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What are hives? What causes hives in horses?

Marijke and friend

Marijke van de Water, B.Sc., DHMS

A SPECIAL POST BY MARIJKE VAN DE WATER

Question: My horse frequently gets hives. They cover almost his entire body and the bumps are big and itchy. How do horses get hives? How do I get rid of them?

Answer: Recent years has seen the incidence of hives and other skin ailments in horses on the increase. Skin conditions can be quite challenging with hives especially disconcerting since they can be very itchy and edematous. Hives are a raised, itchy area of skin that is elevated above the surrounding skin. They are often seen on the neck and shoulders but can basically affect any area of the entire body. They can last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.

It is commonly thought that hives are a result of an allergic reaction to environmental allergens such as weeds, bedding or airborne particles. I have not found this to be true in the majority of cases. An outbreak of hives is almost always influenced by a compromised immune system as precipitated by feed intolerances, adverse reactions to vaccinations (acute or chronic), colon and liver toxicity and/or nutritional deficiencies.

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My mare is expecting a foal. How should I look after her and feed her?

Mare and foalQuestion: I need to know how to keep a healthy mare and foal and keep my mare in good condition while she is in foal and what the best bedding to have when she foals.

Answer from April Reeves: Let’s start with bedding. I prefer to use straw bedding at first. Keep it thick to give the mare and foal maximum comfort, especially since newborn foals tend to fall a lot while learning to stand. Straw smells natural to a horse, and watch that it’s not dusty or moldy. Keep the straw in the stall for about 3-5 days after the foal is born, then you can switch to shavings.

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My horse will not accept living in a stall! Help!

Stalls - Cave or Comfort?

Stalls - Cave or Comfort?

Question: I have a new gelding, he’s 8, and he will not stay in a stall overnight. Why do horses do this? Don’t they feel comfortable in a stall? What is it in his behavior that causes him such anxiety? Could he get some vice from this?

Answer from April Reeves: I love this question, mainly because I have done years of testing and research on equine behavior and our intrusion into their lives. I wrote a comprehensive article on this which may help you to understand why horses behave the way they do. It will give you a better insight into the reasons for their actions and how they evolved.

Stalling horses will always be a necessity for many reasons, but to the horse, does this practice encourage comfort and safety, or anxiety and depression?

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How often should I worm my new horse and what should I use?

This stuff tastes awful!

This stuff tastes awful!

Question: I just bought a new horse and was told to worm him before I move him to his new barn. What should I use and how often do I use it?

Answer from April Reeves: Here is a schedule for times and drug brands:

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Do you have any complete information on West Nile Virus?

A SPECIAL POST BY MARIJKE VAN DE WATER

Answer:

Introduction

West Nile Virus was first discovered in 1937 in a woman in the West Nile province of Uganda in Central Africa. Sixty-two years later in 1999 it was identified in flamingos and pheasants in New York City. By 2001 the disease spread rapidly to horses across the U.S.A. hitting Florida particularly hard. To date, WNV has been reported in approximately 10,000 horses in North America, 300-400 of those cases have been reported in Canada.

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What exactly is laminitis and how can you treat it?

A SPECIAL POST BY MARIJKE VAN DE WATER, B.Sc., DHMS

Question: I was told last week that my horse had laminitis. The vet did explain some things but now I’m searching desperately to find out if she will live or be put down. Also what can she take to help her? How did she get this?

Answer from Marijke van de Water: A complex condition and number two cause of death in horses, laminitis is related to the over-feeding of grass and grain, and is actually a metabolic disease that affects the laminellar tissue; specialized tissue that ensures the structural integrity of the hoof by adhering the coffin bone to the inner hoof wall. Because of the highly vascular nature of the horse’s hoof it is extremely susceptible to inflammation and damage especially from digestive toxicity resulting from the over-feeding of starches and sugars. The lamina becomes stressed from high blood sugar levels as well as leaky gut syndrome where the bacteria, acids, and toxins migrate from the hindgut to the hoof initiating damage. Once the laminar tissue becomes weakened the connection between the hoof wall and coffin bone separates causing pain and inflammation. If left unchecked the coffin bone eventually drops – at which point it is labeled as founder.

The three major factors that trigger laminitis as caused by the feeding of high starch grains, and grass and hay which are high in sugars are:

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Are Hays and Forages affected by Genetically Modified Organisms?

A SPECIAL POST BY KATHRYN WATTS, SAFERGRASS.ORG

Question: “Is there any evidence, or any studies done regarding effects of Genetically Modified forages and grains on horses?”

Answer: The easy answer to your question is no.

The term ‘genetically modified’ is not well understood by lay people. Do you mean genetically engineered? As in inserting genes, such as creating resistance to RoundUp? RoundUp Ready alfalfa and soybeans, canola oil and BT corn are probably the only ones that might end up in a horse.

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Is Alfalfa for horses?

A SPECIAL POST BY MARIJKE VAN DE WATER, B.SC., DHMS

Question: I have had many people tell me to feed my horses alfalfa. Not only is it expensive but I’m afraid they will get hot and stupid on it. Can you give me any advice?

Answer by Marijke van de Water: It looks as good as it tastes-bright green, leafy, rich – and should the horses spot it in your wheelbarrow they’ll abandon good pasture with hooves flying and gobble it like candy. It makes the horse owner feel good. But what about the horse?

There’s no denying that alfalfa is nutritionally dense-protein content is well over 15% (even higher if dairy grade), and it contains very high levels of calcium, magnesium, and other vitamins. Unfortunately, one of the primary drawbacks to alfalfa is its high protein content.

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Horses & Oil Don’t Mix! Can you give oil to horses?

Marijke van de Water

Marijke van de Water

A SPECIAL POST BY MARIJKE VAN DE WATER, B.SC., DHMS

Question: I was told by an animal nutritionist that I should give my mare oil to help her coat and thin condition. I have also heard that oil is not good for horses? Why would that be? He did not recommend one over the other.

Answer from Marijke van de Water: Your animal nutritionist is recommending canola oil, corn oil, or some other vegetable oil to fatten up your horse. This recommendation is based on the fact that fats provide energy in a very concentrated form thus making it very difficult to burn off quickly. Fats are very slow to metabolize. One calorie of fat is equivalent to 3 pounds of oats or 6 pounds of hay. Very dense indeed. But is a daily feeding of 1/2 to 1 cup of oil from questionable sources a healthy cure-all to weight gain?

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