As you journey into the horse world, of if you were already there you will understand the ongoing process of learning about bits. From snaffles, to correction bits, to gag bits the possibilities are endless along with the claims of what each bit will fix or help. The fact is that there are many different types of bits and the severity can depend upon many factors but mouth piece varieties just add more possibilities of what the bit can do. With that being said a bit is only as harsh as the hands the bit is in. With heavy hands you can easily ruin a horse’s mouth in even a snaffle. Be prepared as you enter the horse world to constantly work on your hands, become educated in what each bit does but more importantly make sure you horse is educated in what the bit is supposed to do. A horse isn’t born knowing how to handle a port after all.
When keeping your horse in an environment where sand can be picked up off the ground while your horse is grazing, one thing you may need to look for symptoms of is sand colic. Like any other types of colic sand colic can be life threatening. Even if your pasture isn’t incredibly sandy if where you feed hay or feed, even from a bucket, is sandy then the horse could pick up sand while munching on left over pieces of hay and grain. Normally sand can be passed through the digestive system, however when too much sand is collected it can cause irritation of the digestive tract and may even settle into the digestive tract. The settled sand can over time build up and cause impaction colic. There are a few supplements on the market to help prevent sand colic. Signs of sand colic are similar to that of regular colic, distress, laying down, and rolling. Make sure you know how your horse normally acts to know when something is not right and he may be feeling ill.
Have you ever gone out to catch your horse for a ride and it
ends up being an hour of chase? That isn’t enjoyable for anyone and it seems to never fail that they run off when you are getting ready to go somewhere on a time line. So how do you go about not having to chase your horse all over the place to get him caught? I have found that if I carry treats with me my horse looks forward to me coming to see him. Also if you periodically just go spend time in the pasture with your horse or catch him to feed or brush him they tend to look forward to seeing you more than if the only time they see you is when you are coming to ride. I also think that riding with good horsemanship keeps your horse from dreading being ridden and in turn your presence to come and catch them. If you horse thinks that every time you ride you are going to knock a few teeth loose from jerking on him then he isn’t going to look forward to you coming to ride him. However if you take the time to learn how to communicate with your horse in a way he understands the whole riding experience is less likely to be an unpleasant one for him. Making more pleasant experiences for your horse makes him enjoy being around you more and in turn easier to catch.
Bowed tendons can cause serious damage to your horse and possibly even end his career. So how can you prevent your horse from getting a bowed tendon? Most importantly keep your horse in shape, especially if he is expected to perform at any level of competition. However bowed tendons can also happen when horses are in shape. Bowing a tendon happens when a back foot strikes a front leg particularly when the tendon is stretched. Damage can vary from a bruise to the complete severing of the tendon. Healing tendons takes some time and most often is accompanied with little exercise. Sometimes surgery can be required if tendon injuries are bad enough. If you suspect a tendon injury call your vet and schedule an ultrasound to look more closely at the tendon and the possible damage.
With winter coming on getting your horses feet in shape to handle the winter weather is a good fall project. Getting rid of thrush before the possibly wet winter months take over will only benefit your horse in the long run. Typically in our area during winter it can get muddy and that is a perfect environment for thrush to thrive. Thrush can be a serious problem that does not need to be taken lightly. Thrush can cause problems in the long run when left untreated. The good news with the moisture content being higher in the winter is that hooves normally dry out during the dry summer so the moisture is welcome for dry cracked hooves. Make sure if you aren’t going to use your horse this winter and his feet can handle it, go ahead and take off his shoes to prevent snowballing if it snows. If your horse needs his shoes you can always put petroleum jelly in his hooves to keep snow from packing in his feet. Remember to have a farrier visit every 6-8 weeks to keep hooves in good condition.
It never fails it seems, as soon as you get your horse nice and clean there he goes to roll in the dirt. But what is making him roll today? Is he just itchy or tired of being clean, or is there something more sinister in his rolling antics? Horses tend to roll to help repel bugs or to scratch that itch he just can’t seem to get to, but we also have to look for signs of distress to ensure that a medical issues is not unfolding before our eyes. If a horse looks distressed or in pain, if he is kicking at his sides, or rolling violently he may be suffering from a bout of colic which can turn serious if he continues to roll. However not every roll is an indication of colic. I find that my horses like to roll in fresh dirt, especially after a bath. The dirt can act as sunscreen and provide some protection from biting insects. Sometimes horses just need to stretch their muscles and maybe do a little chiropractic work on their own. So rolling can help adjust his spine, help repel flies, act as sunscreen, and also signal signs of distress. The best way to know the difference is just watch him out in the pasture. Nothing can replace to quality time spent with your horse to know how he acts so you can pick out when something is wrong.
Fly masks can protect horses’ faces and eyes from many dangers. For one fly masks can help keep flies away from the face but also can be used to prevent sun damage around the eye and face area of the horse. Not only can a fly mask protect from the sun and flies during travel a fly mask can prevent road debris and other foreign objects from damaging an eye. When using fly masks for daily turn out be sure and check under the mask every day and remove any foreign objects from under the mask and make sure the mask isn’t causing any irritation to the horse as well. Also, like any other piece of tack make sure the mask fits properly.