As owner of a "rotund" pony I was keen to see that Liverpool Vet School in conjunction with The Horse Trust has released an Equine Obesity and Weight Management guide. Its a 20 page document with some great advice about methods of helping with weight loss as well as offering advice for enrichment and how to support your horse.
There is also a link to the NEWC Guide to body conditioning for both horses and donkey. Do you know your horses condition score?
You can download the guide and the body condition score below
Here is the direct link to the website:
Equine Obesity and Weight Management
Hoof ridges...hmm... I was looking at my own ponies feet and can see the rings of growth from over the past 6 months and was intrigued to learn a bit more. So I found great visual information from the Progressive Horse, run by Ross Barker, who provides holistic hoof and horse care in the North of England. Do have a look round their website and get out looking at your horses' feet!
THE PROGRESSIVE HORSE
Sugars, sugars, sugars. Its probably all you've heard for months if your horse or pony suffers from laminitis. I have come across Test Your Grass in Australia who sell home refractometers allowing you to test your own grass. The only trouble is at the moment we have minimal moisture in the grass as we have been in a drought so squeezing might be difficult!
Test Your Grass
Be aware of the Oak Processionary Caterpillar and harm it can cause (it is an invasive species and not native). It can cause rashes, throat and eye irritations, breathing difficulties to humans and animals
Have a look at the Forestry Commission's information page to help with identification and DO report if you see any on your trees- they are trying to limit the spread.
Currently sightings: Hertfordshire, Essex, Surrey, West Berkshire, South Bucks, as well has areas of London (some of these sightings are historical but they may still be living there- do check)
Forestry Commission Oak Processional Moth Site:
Video for identification
,As some of you may know, my little pony has suffered over last few years with his head-shaking so I am always very keen to follow any information relating to pain in the horses head. Equitopia in the US, has had the privilege to film with William Micklem (designer of the Micklem bridle) in this recently released video discussing bridle fit and why it hurts.
This is a great video: it does make you stop and put the common sense hat back on and shout "LOOK" at your horse... do I need to use this? Is my horse comfortable?
We do get caught up in doing what we think looks right (because someone has told us, seen it in H & H or rules say we must); but our horses welfare and comfort is priority (and your safety as a rider as well: if the horse is in pain he will react to avoid further pain, same as you would!).
My lovely pony has now stopped his showing career as he must wear nosebands for the ring; and although only 7, is loving teaching his little "owner" how to ride. She understands that if he has one of his "headaches" we stop and don't ride anymore as he is unhappy.
Do all have a look at this 10 minute video as does make you look more closely at your horses bridle and his face when in work.
A Summit Equine Nutrition article published on The Horse.com this week looks into one of the UK horse owners most popular feedstuffs: sugar beet. The article is reproduced below or can be viewed on The Horse.com HERE
I had never seen a sugar beet until I went to University in heart of sugar beet country and was amazed at how large and hard these things are: they can be used as cannonballs I'm sure. Now living not far from the sugar beet factory in Bury St Edmunds you know when it is harvesting time and the smell of cooking sugar beet invades as you drive by. But our feed stuff for our animals is a waste product left over from the extraction of the sweet stuff- sugar for us. (If you want to find more about how sugar beet is grown, harvested and processed have a look at British Sugar)
I like sugar beet as its good fibre source (great in large intestine) and a slow release of energy if used correctly. Remember molasses (sugar!) is added to make more palatable- unmolassed is white. But what is the most important thing?
IT MUST ALWAYS BE SOAKED FOR RECOMMENDED PERIOD AS IS SOLD AS ANIMAL FEED DEHYDRATED
Q: Last week in your article about helping horses stay warm in winter you mentioned feeding sugar beet pulp to horses in need of extra calories from a forage source. It doesn’t seem like that would be a good choice for a lot of horses. Isn’t sugar beet pulp high in sugar
A.The name certainly implies that this common equine feed ingredient is high in sugar. However, you might be surprised to learn that by the time it makes it to your horse’s feed bucket sugar beet pulp, in most cases, is actually very low in sugar.
Sugar beets are a root crop with a high concentration of sucrose sugar (think table sugar) grown commercially for sugar production. According to the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, sugar beets are grown in many Western and Northern states. The sugar beet is about a foot long and weighs between 2 to 5 pounds. With a sucrose content of about 18%, sugar beets make up a little over 50% of the domestically produced sugar.
Sugar beet pulp is a source of fermentable fibrous material that requires microbial fermentation in the horse's hindgut.
However, we’re not feeding horses whole beets. Rather we feed what‘s left after manufacturers have extracted sugar for human use. What’s left is referred to sugar beet pulp and is a source of fermentable fibrous material that requires microbial fermentation in the horse’s hindgut. Sugar beet pulp is used extensively in livestock feed and, for horses, is sold as an ingredient in commercial feeds or separately as shreds or pellets.
Like starch, sugars such as sucrose are absorbed from the small intestine and result in an increase in blood glucose levels, which in turn increases circulating insulin. For horses with metabolic issues such as insulin resistance, equine metabolic syndrome, and polysachharide storage myopathy significant increases in blood glucose can have negative health consequences, hence the interest in keeping dietary starch and sugar levels low for affected horses.
The glycemic index is a system used to rank sources of carbohydrate and the potential impact they have on blood glucose; it’s a way to compare carbohydrates from different sources and how they might impact blood glucose. The method compares available carbohydrate gram for gram in different feed ingredients by measuring blood glucose levels after a meal. Measurements are taken over time at regular intervals for several hours, and blood glucose levels are compared.
In human research white bread is used as the standard response against which other foods are compared. In horses we use whole oats, because oat starch is more readily digestible than the starch in other grains such as barley and corn. Oats have a glycemic index value of 100. This means that if a feed ingredient is fed and results in a higher blood glucose value then oats, it receives a higher glycemic index value, and vice versa.
Studies in horses have shown that plasma glucose levels peak about 90 to 120 minutes after a meal, depending on the ingredients. While products such as traditional sweet feed and oats have high glycemic index values, sugar beet pulp has a glycemic index as low as 34.
It needs to be noted that some sugar beet pulp sold for horses has added molasses to improve palatability and reduce dust. As expected, this will result in a higher glycemic index. Unrinsed sugar beet pulp with molasses might have a glycemic index higher than 70. Therefore, if you want to avoid adding sugar to your horse’s diet, be sure to buy unmolassed beet pulp or rinse it after soaking and before feeding.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Clair Thunes, PhD
Clair Thunes, PhD, is an independent equine nutrition consultant who owns Summit Equine Nutrition, based in Sacramento, California. She works with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the United Kingdom Pony Club. Today, she serves as the regional supervisor for the Sierra Pacific region of the United States Pony Clubs. As a nutritionist she works with all horses, from WEG competitors to Miniature Donkeys and everything in between.
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Bet you have all done the autumn worming...right?
Gone online and bought a wormer, or nipped down the feed shop and spoke to their SQP about what to use this time of year.
Bet it went along these lines... "I need something for the red and round worms ...and better have something that can do for tapeworm this time of year just in case..."
Well, for the price of a wormer you can test your horse to see if he needs worming for tapeworm. With the huge rise in wormer resistance, thoughts are turning more to testing than blanket worming. And now is the time to test.
Equisal offer a saliva testing kit for testing for tapeworm (advised every 6 months) and its easy to use (see video)
For more information www.equisal.co.uk
Wow ...what a difference two weeks make.
If you would believe it, its only 15 days since our beautiful August bank holiday (well it was around here...apologies if you had it pants!). We now have Storm Aileen making her presence felt, the temperatures feel like they have plummeted and you wonder whether we have been time warped into November! August (according to the Met Office), had temperatures only just below normal; but it does suddenly seem the time to sort out winter coats and hats.
I confess I have been on eBay bulk buying my Magic Gloves and have my woolly hats on for yard duties (but I do hate wind in my ears).
But whilst we are gearing up for turning the central heating on, what about our Neddies? How are they fairing with autumn landing suddenly?
Are they shivering and quivering, huddled under the fence?
Are they whinnying and calling to have their Mummy come and gathering them into a lovely stable?
Or this this just how we think they look?
Our anthropomorphic tendencies will be in full swing.."quick its cold...get out the rugs!
BUT whooooaa! Hold on...actually go and have a LOOK at your horse, FEEL your horse, ASSESS your horse. If he is in good condition, doesn't suffer from illness, infirmity or ongoing diseases, he will probably not need to be smothered in rugs at the moment (yes, each horse is an individual and should be treated as such so their needs will differ). But you could be doing more harm than good by rugging too early.
There have been some great articles published this week by renowned equine professionals and establishments : Dr David Marlin and Dick Vets (Royal Dick Vet Edinburgh University) explaining the physiological processes that an over-rugged horse can go through and how to assess your horse as to whether he may not need a rug on yet.
Remember: you are in charge of your horse and his management needs - not the rug sales person telling you must buy a heavyweight, full-neck, bulletproof, arctic tested rug as soon as the leaves start to change colour (and not your next door horsey neighbour either- do whats good for your own horse!)
Have a look at the tension and pain that is relieved by Equine therapy - Equi Release Pro. I have been watching their active treatment videos and it proves anyone wrong who thinks that animals don't respond to alternative therapies (we have had success with shiatsu on cows before so know it works!)
**Please don't try this at home without professional advice (or you may be kicked out of stable and do more harm)**
Who saw the Centaur Biomechanics BBC interview with Claire Balding from Burghley at the weekend? Russell Guire describes how technology is helping to improve equine and rider performance (and wisely states that so many riders are unaware whether they are straight in the saddle) Great viewing (and I still would like to see Claire Balding's piggy-back ride Russell :) )
The British Horse Society are holding their Welfare Conference 2017 at Towester Racecourse on 20th/21st September. The theme is years is:
Horse Care and Training: Are We Getting the Fundamentals Right?
The BHS state "The event will be a fully packed day. A series of presentations will be provided by expert speakers who continually work to help improve the welfare of the horse".
Tickets are available for Wednesday and Thursday (Scientific Day)
For more information: