Tuesday, 02 July 2019 10:06

Have You Hugged Your Horse Today?

It is so easy to get wrapped up in life. We can become so focused on the little things, forgetting about the bigger picture. Many of us have goals. Whether it is competing at BE100, or gaining >70% in a dressage test, these aims can cloud us; overcoming the joy of owning a horse.

I have been that person who has sobbed next to their horse at a competition when the test sheet came back with a low score. I have been that person who sits in the stable, moping, wondering why things didn’t go better in the show-ring. I have been there. I think we all have? At the time, you can’t understand why your horse refused the jump; why the perfectly good dressage test resulted in a low score; or why, no matter how hard you try, you just don’t seem to be winning. These feelings can overcome you. They can jeopardise the relationship which you have spent so long to build with your horse; removing the reason why we get up at such unholy hours every day to see them! 

My suggestion? 

1. Just pause when you feel like this. Think to yourself… “Am I actually going to remember losing this class in 10 years’ time?” Try and remember what it felt like BEFORE you got that score sheet, or it all went ‘wrong’. 

I don’t think I am breaking news when I say that horses cannot read test sheets, or jumping penalty scores. All they know is that they tried their hardest for you and had a wonderful day out. They can’t understand why you are upset with them for, let’s say, getting a tad expressive in the canter transition, when all they were just doing their best Valegro impression, to wow the other horses (!). Sometimes it’s rider error, too! I can openly admit that there have been days which I have not given 100%; days which stress and fear of other things in my life have overcome me. I cannot expect my horses to be perfect all of the time, if I am not? 

Horses also have bad days, too. They have their own stresses and fears in everyday life, just like us. These, we may not even recognise, because they can’t tell us! Phoebe can’t tell me if she had a really stressful night because the wind was rustling leaves on the stable roof. She can’t tell me that this has made her on-edge for our competition, so I won’t judge her for it. So, when you come first or last in that show class, make them KNOW that they have won, to you. They have won your heart, at the end of the day. Remind them of this. Regardless if you and your horse won the class, or not. Think of small victories. Remind yourself of the positives.

2. Don't compare yourself to others (easier said than done, eh?)

I am totally guilty of this. "Why didn't I win, when they did?", "I am doing the same as that rider, why aren't I as successful as them?"

- because, everyone is different. Just because someone else has the same age horse, is the same age rider, and trains at the same level, doesn't make you the same. Everyone copes differently at competitions, everyone has different strategies of training. It certainly doesn't mean that one way is better, or right, over another, it just means that you just have to find the strategy which works for you and your horse. If all horses and riders were the same, everyone would be at 'top' level! 

3. Remember you are only human, and your horse is a only a horse! 

I think it is quite easy to forget that horses aren’t humans. They are so emotional and intelligent, it makes us forget that they have only been domesticated for ~6,000 years. But, it is vital to remember that they ARE horses. They are herd animals, prey animals. They rely on numbers for safety. Naturally, horses are routine animals, and as we know, stay in the same herd for most of their life. Our domestic routine totally disrupts their natural behaviour. Just remember this when you ask your horse to go for a hack, or around the cross country course at an event. Even just bringing them in from their field for a groom, you are asking them to leave their ‘safe-place’ and their herd, making themselves vulnerable. For you. Horses get nothing from going out competing. The only thing they have, is that they are with you, so, make this the best experience for them. You deserve to be happy as a rider – after all, you are already among the privileged few to own a horse. Likewise, they deserve to be happy as a horse – they don’t owe you anything. They do what they do because they know it makes you happy (and a few treats certainly won’t go amiss!).

Equally, you are only a mere human. So what? You forgot the test movement? You almost flew off when your horse took a stride out? So what? Your horse doesn't care! Your horse is just happy that you are in their life, to feed and look after them. They don't mind if you only want to hack, or if you just want to bring them in for a cuddle tonight. Don't beat yourself up, you are doing great! 

4. Remember this... 

So, when life gets in the way, and you find yourself getting caught up, hug your horse. Hug them. Appreciate them and everything they do for you. Remind yourself how lucky you are to be a part of the privileged few. Forget about the red ribbon. Focus on the small victories, even if you have to micromanage. Sometimes, just getting the bridle on is a victory in itself. Own them, own the victories – celebrate them.
 
Enjoy the moment. Every time you ride your horse, it is one less ride you will get with them. Every day is one less, every day could be the last. Sorry to be fatalistic, but it’s the truth. 
 
Hug your horse. 
Emily Hancock
  
They love to compete, affiliated in showing, and enjoy unaffiliated dressage and showjumping. And ,of course, they adore hacking out together...
   

Published in Trot On Blogs

Racing has been resumed.

However, horse owners are urged to continue to be vigilant for symptoms of equine flu – coughing, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, lethargy – and to call their vet if they think their horses are showing signs.

The latest advice on how we can keep our horses safe.

The advice below has been put together by BEVA in consultation with the Animal Health Trust. It reflects the current situation and may be subject to change.

Equine flu is always present in the UK.  We currently appear to be seeing flu in some horses who have been vaccinated as well as in unvaccinated horses and this means that we should all be taking some extra precautions “just in case”.

Why should I vaccinate?

• The more you do to reduce the risk of spreading any contagious disease between horses the better… but doing what you reasonably can is better than doing nothing.  

• Vaccinated horses are likely to be less severely affected by flu and are likely to get better more quickly than unvaccinated horses.

• Unvaccinated horses present a risk not just to themselves but to all the horses around them.

What should I do on the yard?

• Keep a look out for the signs of flu – coughing, snotty nose, loss of appetite, lethargy – and call your vet if you think any horses are showing signs.

• If your horses are at a higher risk (ie they haven’t been vaccinated or there is an outbreak of flu at a neighbouring yard) then you could also look out for raised temperatures (>38.5°c)

• Ask your vet to vaccinate your horse if it has not been vaccinated before or if its last booster vaccination was more than 6 months ago.  It is recommended that the vaccine used reflects the virus type currently being seen in the outbreak (Florida Clade 1)

• You should plan to give your horse a few quiet days after vaccination (immunity steadily increases over 7-10 days following vaccination)

• If your horse is at higher risk you should discuss with you vet whether more frequent boosters would be appropriate.

Should I stop visitors coming to our yard?

• Visitors such as vets, farriers, dental technicians, saddle fitters, physios etc should take special precautions as they could transmit disease between horses and between yards.

• Before they arrive, visitors should call to ask whether there are any sick horses on the yard.  If any horses are showing signs that might be flu or if the disease has been confirmed then you should postpone all but essential visits.

• Even if all your horses appear fine your visitors should clean their hands (ideally with an alcohol based antimicrobial gel type product), clean their tools (especially dental technicians) and check their clothing for obvious contamination (changing it if required).

• If your visitors’ vehicles have not been in contact with your horses then there is no requirement for the vehicle to be washed down.

• As good practice you should keep a record of all visitors to the yard.

Should I go to competitions/events/training?

• Do not take your horse anywhere if there are sick horses on your yard

• Check that the venue is happy to have you and that there are no sick horses reported by the venue.

• Check that the venue has a policy that visiting / kept horses are vaccinated.

• Whilst at the venue, keep your horse(s) out of contact with other horses and avoid sharing of buckets or any other equipment

• When you return you should thoroughly clean your lorry or trailer (ideally not next to your horses)

What about deliveries to our yard?

• Try to keep feed, forage or other delivery vehicles and drivers separate from the horses

What about sending equipment away?

• If you are sending tack or clippers for repair then you should clean them first and the repairer should routinely wipe them over with an antimicrobial product before returning them.  Rugs can be sent for washing as normal (with the worst of the muck cleared off first)

Is it usual to have equine flu in the UK?

Equine flu is ‘endemic’ in the UK which means it is always here. However there have been very few diagnosed cases in the last few years and they haven’t made the news. Flu is not a notifiable disease, so there isn’t a complete picture of how many cases there are each year, although the Animal Health Trust has a free surveillance scheme which tracks the number of outbreaks each year. Before January 2019 was over, there had already been as may cases in Britain as there were in the whole of 2018.

Is equine flu harmful to horses?

It can have serious health implications for unvaccinated horses, or horses which are vulnerable in another way, and they can become very ill. Horses whose boosters are up to date should only experience mild symptoms. However, affected horses are still infectious and able to spread the disease. Even in unvaccinated horses, flu does not usually cause life-threatening illness as has been evidenced by the outcomes of previous cases in the current outbreak. However, sadly one unvaccinated horse in this outbreak has been euthanised which is a reminder of the importance of vaccination and appropriate yard hygiene/biosecurity.

Which strain of equine flu is causing this outbreak?

It is known as Florida clade 1 and is a strain not seen in the UK since 2009, although British horses are vaccinated against it. 

Information on vaccine strains https://www.aht.org.uk/disease-surveillance/equiflunet/equine-influenza-vaccines

How does this outbreak compare to that in Australia in 2007?

Australia does not have equine flu and horses are not vaccinated against it. As there is usually no flu in Australia, there is also no immunity in the general horse population from exposure to it, which is why the effects were so devastating when the outbreak took place in 2007. This is obviously a very different situation to the UK, where flu is endemic, and where horses are routinely vaccinated so most adult horses have some immunity. 

Why have vaccinated horses been affected?

As with human ‘flu disease can occur despite vaccination. The flu virus is always changing slightly so it is not uncommon for the flu vaccination not to be 100% effective however, as in this outbreak, the vaccines are reducing severity of clinical signs and shortening how long a horse is unwell for and  reinforcing the importance of vaccination.  

What can I do to protect my horse?

The steps to take are very simple. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date and if you have any concerns, call your vet for advice. Make sure that any new horses on your yard are kept in isolation from the existing horses to prevent any possible spread for a period of time (ideally isolation facilities for 3 weeks). Equine flu droplets can be spread up to 100 metres through the air and on tools, equipment and clothing so make sure that you do not accidentally transfer the virus in any of these ways.

What’s the treatment for infected horses? How long will it last?

Horses will need rest and may need medication as prescribed by your vet. Make sure infected horses are isolated to prevent spread, your vet will advise.

If your horse is vaccinated, it will be ill for less time, but will need to rest and may be off work for a few weeks in order to recover properly. If the horse is not vaccinated illness can last for considerably longer and be more severely affected.

Is there any risk to human health?

No, this virus cannot be passed on to humans.

Will shows and competitions be cancelled?

Equestrian organisations are carefully monitoring the situation and assessing all the risks. They are taking responsible and proportionate action. With the information that is currently available it is unlikely that events will be asked to cancel but it is possible this situation may change. Any cancellations will be on the advice of specialist vets, and it will be in the interests of minimising spread of the virus and risk to the health of the UK’s horses. Careful consideration is being made of all the available facts, alongside advice received from experts in equine influenza and epidemiology that have experience of managing previous outbreaks. BEF’s own advisors include Jenny Hall - Chair of BEF’s Equine Infectious Disease Emergency Response Committee; John McEwen - Director of Equine Sports Science and Medicine and Jane Nixon - BEF Board Director and Veterinary Consultant. 

What is the incubation period, before signs of equine flu appear?

This is usually 1-5 days before the horse shows signs. Taking a horse’s temperature is the best way of spotting changes early and being able to respond quickly. If the temperature is greater than 38.5C then seek immediate veterinary attention.

 
Published in Articles

The latest advice on how we can keep our horses safe.

Horse racing has been resumed. However, horse owners are urged to be vigilant for symptoms of equine flu – coughing, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, lethargy – and to call their vet if they think their horses are showing signs.

Full Article  HERE

Published in Trot On Blogs
Tuesday, 06 November 2018 11:00

Questioning the Noseband.

There have been many studies which show how a tight nose band can place a painful amount of pressure on the nerves and delicate bones in the horse’s head. However, despite this, some trainers and riders still believe that using the noseband to keep a horse’s mouth closed will make a horse ride better as it stops them fighting which means they then concentrate more on the riders aids. 

Many people think that if a horses mouth is shut and quiet then the horse is riding well. But a quiet mouth should be the result of good training and keeping it artificially closed with a noseband shouldn’t be used as shortcut. The horses jaw and tongue should be as free and supple as the rest of the body and more importantly these structures tie into the efficient movement of the rest of the body. If you create tension here then you will only create tension somewhere else. 

The Hyoid bone which links into the tongue, also links into muscles that are involved in the movement of the horse’s forelegs so by creating tension here you will restrict the range of movement in your horse’s forelimbs. An equine dissection also revealed that when pressure was applied to the jaw causing the hyoid bone at the base of the tongue to move up and/or back in the jaw, this left the hind legs and hips extremely restricted. As soon as pressure was released, the leg and hip was then freely moved again. 

So when our horse opens his mouth, we need to ask what they are communicating to us, and work out how to release tension and improve their their balance and suppleness, not silence them with a flash or tighter noseband. Our horses voice can only be heard by those willing to listen.

I can't help but wonder if our horses even need to wear a noseband at all, particularly when training, apart from the fact that they look good on some horses. Has it just become the norm that a ridden horse has a noseband on at all times? 

I'm interested to hear from anyone who rides either with a loose or tight noseband or without a noseband at all and the reasoning behind your choice.

Sara Carew

For pole work clinics, ideas, information sharing and more, check out Sara's FB group Poll Position Equestrian Coaching


 
Published in Trot On Blogs

There's been a lot of discussion about tight nosebands but have you ever wondered if your horse's browband is too tight?

As an equine bodyworker I came across a lot of horse's with tension around their forehead, ears and poll and although there are many reasons why this can occur, I also found that a lot of people used bridles with browbands that were far too tight in this area and now it's something that I frequently notice when I am out and about at equestrian events. So often we get bridles in pony, cob, etc but it doesn't take into account that each horse's head shape is individual and a broad forehead is often something that gets overlooked.

This area is so important for your horse's wellbeing. A tight browband can create tension in the atlas joint, impinge on the many muscles and nerves in and around the horse's ears and adversely affect important cranial nerves too. All of these can have serious knock-on effects, including inhibiting the movement of the horse's forelegs and hind end!  

So, if your horse displays any of the following symptoms:

• doesn't like being bridled

• shakes her head

• is tense around the eyes and looks like she has a headache

• pulls away when you touch her in this area

• is tense in the jaw and neck when ridden

• is choppy in front or has poor engagement

then you may find that it could be caused by something as simple as a browband that is too tight! 

Firstly,  ensure that you can slip a hand easily under the headpiece (by the way, extra padding won't improve a headpiece that's too tight!) and that the brow band isn't pulling the headpiece onto the back of the ears and impinging on the base of the ears at the sides or pressing onto the forehead at the front. You should comfortably be able to run a finger underneath all the way round.

To be honest, I'm not even sure why we need browbands on bridles anyway, apart from being a place to show off a bit of bling! Are they a hangover from when horses went into battle and had armour protecting their faces? Anyway, I'm not necessarily advocating that you do away with yours, although it can be an interesting experiment if you are having any problems, but that you just replace it with a larger one if it looks too snug. 


 

Published in Trot On Blogs

Yes, it’s a bit late but that grass boosting combo of rain and sunshine has put the spring into our pasture so don’t be surprised if your horse is getting a sugar hit that will make him or her a bit of a handful.  It’s also thought that spring grass contains a high level of potassium which reduces the horse’s uptake of magnesium resulting in another reason why our equine friends can range from excitable to explosive! 

As well as helping with our horse’s mood, magnesium is also important for muscle function and it’s thought it can benefit horses prone to obesity and laminitis. If you think that magnesium could benefit your horse, always choose a supplement that contains ‘chelated’ magnesium.

Because of the change of management many horses experience at this time of year as they’re turned out after a winter of limited access to grass, it’s also worth putting them on a pre and probiotic to promote a healthy level of that all important gut bacteria. (Hyperlink to gut biome post) This will also help horses that are regularly turned out cope with the seasonal change in the grass too.

 

palomino pony at grassy field gate wearing grazing muzzle

 

We’d love to know if you’ve found the perfect way to take the stress out of spring grass!


Published in Trot On Blogs

I can’t believe Freddie has been home for a whole 6 months! Fred had been injured since last June with a hole in his superficial digital flexor tendon. It’s been a long road since he came home in August with 24/7 box rest, icing, bandages and confined turnout, as well as hand walking him every day for 3 months. The biggest worry about this kind of injury for me, was the fear of the unknown… was it healing, or was all this time and worry going to be for nothing?

Freddie is actually a very easy going thoroughbred, as long as there was good grub he wasn’t worried about messing about or potentially further damaging the leg. However there were a couple of occasions where I did nearly have heart failure! The worst of all was a matter of weeks before his scan on November 1st where he decided to run the Grand National in his tiny paddock, bucking and flat out galloping for about 20 minutes! No heat or swelling showed from the legs so I prayed everything was ok…

One less thing to worry about.

grey pony grazing in field with checked horse rug

The middle of October was also when I decided to turn Freddie out full time in the field with friends Inky and the pony Munchkin. Fred had started to become a bit of a hooligan being brought in at night and was very wired up on his walks. We decided that with a matter of weeks to go until his scan the leg was most likely to have healed or not and Fred having the odd run about wasn’t going to make a lot of difference. We turned Fred and Inky out and then released the pony… moment of truth - NOTHING!… absolutely no reaction at all! Munchkin went straight out to eat and Fred didn’t look up from munching!!

The biggest challenge - Freddie’s weight.

When Fred first came to me he dropped an awful lot of weight within the first week. We believed this to be a bit of an adrenaline shock after leaving a racing yard after 7 years of his life, and also just the change in routine. Thankfully, he picked up after feeding him coolstance corpra and dengie alfa a chaff. However nearing the end of September we realised that this feed combination was not working for Fred. It was sending him a bit nutty and I will put my hands up to admitting that I didn’t realise that alfa a was more like rocket fuel than a conditioning feed for a thoroughbred on box rest! I have literally spent ALL winter looking for a combination of feeds that will put weight on Fred without sending his brain crazy, but finally I think I’ve found the answer…. ! Linseed oil! I have been adding linseed oil to the feeds for just over three weeks now and it has really started to make a difference. He has more condition over his back and bottom and his belly looks much better, much fuller and barely any visibility of his ribs. He is now on coolstance, speedi beet and high fibre nuts too.

1st November was the big day! It was scan day… after months of waiting it was make or break, I was petrified. The team at Whitelodge Vets are fantastic, Phil arrived and set about setting up the scanner ready. Phil scanned both legs and then gave us the verdict… SUCCESS! The hole in Fred’s superficial digital flexor tendon had completely healed and was now filled with scar tissue. I was so unbelievably happy, best day ever! Let the fun begin.

Scary

So, by the end of Fred’s recovery time he had become a bit wild and was ready to get on with a job! I had changed his feed, but he was feeling rather 'well' and his hand walks had become a slight challenge for me. He would get overly excited and quite honestly it scared me a little! After all, hand walking a 16’3/17hh horse who is getting very excited and growing even bigger is a bit daunting! I will admit I was frightened of him and I was scared to get on him in less than two weeks. Had I over horsed myself and had I let my heart take over my head?

horse rider on a bay horse standing in indoor menage

Let the journey begin!

The 14th November was the day that I finally climbed back aboard Fred, 178 days after my first and only ride. I was super excited but also very nervous. He had had 6 months out of the game and I was about to jump on at a saddle fitting! My boy surprised me again - he stood like a complete saint for the whole fitting until we’d picked our chosen saddle. I then tacked him up and jumped on. He seemed a bit shocked as to where his mum’s voice was now coming from but he was a complete angel.

horse rider in red jacket riding bay horse on road

 I rode him up the driveway and out onto the road to get a feel for the saddle and to ensure the saddle fitted. I was ecstatic, Fred behaved like a dream and we even had a few strides of trot, he felt huge though! The first time I rode him he had been off a track for 3 days, he was a muscled up athlete, big but not this big I swear! He’d since been off for 6 months and gained a nice summer belly, lost a lot of muscle and looked like a completely different horse. It would now be a case of riding and schooling him back into work and gaining back the topline and muscle he’d lost. 

Hacking out.

The following Sunday was Freddie’s first hack, Emma who owns the pony that Freddie lives with walked with me to be safe, but once again he was a total star! He didn’t put a hoof out of place and loved every minute of it, he seemed super proud of himself to be back in work.

Fred has continued to be super out riding, we have ventured all over the Quantocks and had our first few canters. We’ve faced every imaginable that’s scary and Fred has remained very sane only dancing about and really looking after me. We have only had one moment of utter madness and that came when he saw his old racehorse friends out and we had a display of squealing and mini rearing/jumping! I aim to ride him at least 5/6 times a week although with the recent weather that is proving sometimes difficult! (Snow in March!) He is really good though and hacks out alone or in company completely fine. Due to not having a school at home I have only been hacking and lunging Fred but aim in the next few weeks to get him in a local school to really encourage him to work properly and gain some proper topline and muscle. 

horse rider on bay horse riding on snow covered ground in woodland wearing high visibility clothing

To begin with I planned to winter Fred out as we have a large field shelter which we bed with straw and so they could all easily escape the elements and cosy down if they wanted, however with the dramatic weightloss that occurred I decided to bring them in at night to see if it helped at all. It helped a little, but with the horrendously long winter we’ve had and serious tough temperatures they have now been stabled most of winter. Next year I will see how he does, but the plan will be to keep him out.
 
So that’s my update on our journey! Still crazy in love with him and can’t wait to see where the journey will take us. Thanks for reading! 
 
kandf 250
 

 

 

 

 

 

Kaitlin and Freddie xxx

 


 

Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 07 March 2018 12:14

Beware - Snow & Ice Creates Sugary Grass!

Be on your guard if you're putting your horse or pony out on grass that has been covered in snow, especially if they are prone to laminitis or other sugar related problems, as snow and ice cause sugars to build up in grass in the same way it does with frost. And don't think just because the snow has melted that you are ok because any night temperatures below 5° will keep the grass in high sugar mode.

Similarly, with frosty mornings, it's not simply ok to wait for the frost to melt before you put your horse out; to be safe the night time temperature needs to have risen to 5° because this is when the grass accumulates sugars.

It's also worth bearing this in mind if you have a horse who is in any way reactive to high sugar content, or if your horse experiences behavioural changes. Sometimes it's not just having been kept in, or lack of exercise after snow and ice that can make your horse overexcitable or resistant in some way. There are many horses who have never been diagnosed as laminitic who are in fact low-grade laminitic and reactive to too many sugars. This creates symptoms such as footiness and backache that are easily missed which means that the poor horse is treated as difficult!
Published in Trot On Blogs

Let's face it, to the human eye, horses look much smarter clipped but do you think horses stand around at a competition or hunt meet going 'OMG, don't look now darling, but Archie hasn't been clipped this winter and looks a real fright, no, don't let him see you looking, we don't want to embarrass him!'

four rear facing horses clipped and well turned out at hunt, three greys and one chesnut

I'd always clipped my horses over winter as they did quite a bit of work including competition and hunting. Like most people I didn't just clip for aesthetic reasons but because I'd been taught that it was healthier for a horse in medium to hard work.  But then I met Natural Horse Management expert, Lucinda McAlpine and started to re-think the way I managed my own horses, particularly regarding clipping.

close up of unclipped long hair rear end of pony

Lucinda believes that the horses coat is a good fitness and stress gauge as a horse will sweat heavily when he is anxious or has done too much for his fitness. A slight dampness to the coat will indicate that he has done enough for the level of fitness he is at and so you can stop before pushing too far. A full coat can also provide an indication of our horses health - recently I took one of our horses to the vet and she immediately picked up on his coat as an indication that his system might be out of balance. And a muddy full coat, according to Lucinda, will reveal areas of muscle tension. If mud brushes off easily then the skin and muscles underneath are healthy but if mud really sticks to the coat then that means the fascia and muscles underneath are tight.

It's amazed me how controversial this no-clipping decision is though - people really are snobby about an unclipped horse, it's the equestrian equivalent of walking around the supermarket in dressing gown and slippers! And when you leave a horse out in winter without ten duvets on, you're often seen as being cruel. It actually does take a leap of faith not to treat horses according to how we feel when the temperatures plummet but it still surprises me that once their coat is established horses, including thoroughbreds, will happily stand out in the snow even if they do have a big barn shelter they can walk into. Give them lots of hay over winter and this acts like an internal radiator. A heavy rug on the other hand flattens a full coat and stops it acting as it should.

side of full coated unclipped horse with rider leg and boot in stirrup

The big sticking point I have is whether to clip for hunting from a health point of view. When our young horse went out for the first time this season we didn't clip him as it might not be a regular thing. Anyway, he did sweat a lot, probably a mix of excitement and exertion - he wasn't super fit so only did a few hours. I imagine a lot of the clipped horses still sweated but it's just less noticeable because it evaporates off more quickly. And after galloping when horses stand around for sometimes long periods with the cold wind whipping their exposed flesh, which horse is worse off? Will the unclipped horse with a sweaty coat get a chill or the clipped horse whose muscles cool down too quickly get tight and sore? Our horse was then cooled down gradually with a hack back to the horsebox and overnight in his stable, as he was still slightly damp, we put him in a cooler rug, thatched with straw underneath as our main concern was that he might catch a chill.

The good news is that he certainly looked good the next day and hadn't dropped any weight.  BUT I'm still sweating over whether to clip or not to clip if he goes out again! What do you think?


 

Published in Trot On Blogs

Trot On member, Kaitlin Woods, continues her blog sharing her journey - the ups and the downs, with her new ex-racing thoroughbred steed, Freddie. Here, in this posting, (originally written back in October last year), Kaitlin explains how she's had to deal with a dramatic loss of condition in Freddie shortly after his arrival.

Well that has flown by! 2 whole months and one week my boy has been home and it's honestly been amazing but a hell of a journey already...

If you haven't read my first blog posting, my lovely new ex racehorse came home on the 14th August, but with a superficial digital flexor tendon injury (more info on the blog, go have a read!) Since arriving home I've been ensuring Freddie remains as calm and sane as possible as to not damage the leg further by dancing and running about. The leg has continued to not show any signs of heat or swelling so fingers crossed he is fixing well. 

Our first hurdle to overcome arose a week and a half after Fred came home. He came to me in amazing condition, which as we all know with racehorses isn't always the case. I believe that if a horse is well on the inside, he will shine on the outside. Well fed, very loved and cared for and there you have it, a magnificent looking animal. Marie Mcguinness, Freddie's old trainer honestly adores her horses and my god does it show. (I believe that is why Freddie is one of the kindest horses I have ever met, he has been loved and cared for like a true king.) However, once Freddie came home, he had a bit of an adrenaline shock, I think it all hit him (as many ex racehorses out of training experience) - a new home and environment and a completely different routine, and he drastically lost condition and almost sagged... 

Freddie when he arrived                                                                                             Freddie 1 week in

Freddie 2 months in

He has lost back muscle from no work but his overall condition really fell. Very worrying that a horse can change so much in such a short space of time… Time for operation feed that can help! One problem… feed really isn't my thing, having had the pony for 8 years that really did not need feeding I was stuck on where to even begin! Thankfully help was on hand at my local country and feed store, a lady who had thoroughbreds too helped me to decide on what was best for Fred. He hasn't been confirmed for ulcers but being a racehorse and their high sugar, low fibre diets and the fact he was windsucking after eating his handful of high fibre nuts (although he does windsuck out of boredom too), I have gone for a molasses free chaff, in particular the Dengie Alfafa A one as well as Coolstance Copra meal which is well known for being a weight gaining feed especially used by many thoroughbred owners. What a transformation this has given! Freddie is looking so much better, I’m very pleased. However, with Freddie hopefully coming into work very soon once he’s been scanned I am slightly dropping his feed as he is feeling quite well from an oil based feed and I don’t want unnecessary fizz in the early stages. I’ll keep you updated on what he’s eating and how we are getting on!

Freddie has continued to be hand walked daily to strengthen the leg and see the world. He’s been such a good boy, even in the worst of weather conditions and traffic he has maintained a very cool and level head and I’m so proud of him for that. We have the odd excited moment but overall a very good boy, it’s honestly like walking your dog! Long may it continue when I’m on board him!!

Over the last 3 weeks Freddie has been moved into a bigger paddock, finally no more squares! He’s so happy bless him, the first time I turned him out I was expecting a bit of an explosion but he just walked the perimeter of his new field before giving me a little glance of approval and then of course got straight down to business… eating! He does have the occasional play about but no heat or swelling appears from the leg and unfortunately he cannot be bubble wrapped forever! He is definitely a food boy though, and as long as there is good food the excitement soon passes so he can munch away again. 

The other big step we took was to turn him out with Inky, the other ex-racehorse who is a true gentlemen and looks after everyone. All being well all three will be turned out together full time after we know whether the leg is ok and so an introduction to Inky seemed a good idea. It was like dropping my child off at school!! “Be nice, don’t hurt anyone and don’t hurt yourself!!” They loved each other, a little trot around in excitement and then settled straight down to eating the same blade of grass… bromance blossoming!

We have also reduced the length of time that Freddie is wearing his stable bandages, from 24/7 when he was on complete box rest to only at night when he came home. I then started to apply the bandages every other night and so on. He now doesn’t wear them at all and there has been no swelling at all. Good sign!

I did notice about a month in that he had a slight cold and snotty nose, I took it a bit easy on the walking in case he was feeling a bit under the weather. But he was soon fine and I didn’t have to have snot wiped over me when I was trying to lead him! Always a bonus  

Freddie also has a new medium weight rug for the chilly winter nights as I will be keeping him out mostly as they have a large field shelter which we bed down with straw. I also love the detachable hood and ‘atlantic blue’ suits him rather well don’t you think?!

So that’s it for our second update! I fall in love with him more each day and can't wait to see what the future holds, it’s not always easy but a very good journey never is! Just over one week to go until his scan and then fingers crossed the real fun can begin, mega excited!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more news on Mr Fred. 

kandf 250

 

 

 

 

 

Kaitlin and Freddie xxx

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