Top 5 Horse Health Hacks for Winter


Unless you’re a hardcore rider that saddles up even it’s raining sideways, you will take a look out of the window at the torrents of wind, rain, and snow and think about giving your horse a brush rather than a hack out into the unknown – it’s nothing to be ashamed about; we all do it.

This little intro probably rings true with a lot of riders, giving the wet winter months a miss as far as saddle time and obviously, events. So what has giving your horse a break and keeping them all snug during the winter months got to do with health?

From experience and a particularly bad period during which my wife and I moved our two horses to an entirely different property, we started to notice how a horse’s environment (or change of) affects their health, predominantly their hooves and the perpetual vicious circle we experienced trying to cure the ill effects from a change in environment.

Ironically, our winter troubles started because of a hot summer – despite using a track system, our horses were free to chomp on sugar-rich grass, which led to laminitis. We quickly learnt our new area was prone to sugar-rich rich grass over the costal land we came from.

Not being one to entirely trust a phone app, it did get to a point where we downloaded one specifically for laminitis and the results only backed up what we’d heard from our equine podiatrist.

So with this in mind, we fought off and treated the laminitis through the summer, but because the horse’s white line had deteriorated and the weather took a turn for the worst, we battled a series of abscesses.

For a horse to maintain a healthy hoof, he needs to exercise, work and put pressure through his hooves, but because of water-logged fields, abscesses and the combination of deteriorating white line and loose gravel roads, we faced this vicious circle I mentioned – if we’d caught the laminitis earlier, we may have avoided all the problems that followed.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but with all the above taken on board, here are 5 hacks I’d recommend during the cold and wet months to maintain optimal equine health.

1. Exercise

Whether your horse is 100% fit or hopping lame, varying degrees of exercise will help your horse maintain some sort of health and fitness, whether it’s general fitness or healthy hooves and joints.

Despite our horses suffering laminitis and abscesses, exercise was still vital. Even a gentle amble up and down a lane or road will both help you visually pick up on problem(s) and the speed in which the problem(s) subside or get worse. Gentle exercise also provides the equine digit with much-needed movement and internal pressures, all of which contribute towards healing and growth.

2. Sole Cleanse

Sole Cleanse

This antimicrobial Sole Cleanse hoof spray played a vital role in at least keeping germs and the threat of infection at bay. Because our horses’ hooves experienced a series of abscesses, liberally spraying this after picking out and treating gives you peace of mind you are managing the potential for those germs that find cracks, crevices (and in our case) gaps in the white line.

Even if your horses’ hooves are healthy, Sole Cleanse is good to spray on to maintain health in both the horny outer layers and preventing fungal growth or thrush on the softer tissues like the frog.

3. Epson Salts

Salts are a great way to soak a horse’s hoof to both clean and soften any bad tissues infected, as in our case, abscesses. Adding Epson Salts to warm/hot water and soaking the horse’s hoof for 20 – 30 minutes softens infected tissue – giving our horses a walk afterwards sometimes helped tease out any infection and pus.

Epson Salts can also be fed to a horse (25-gms per 100-KG bodyweight) as a temporary magnesium supplement for laminitis and pollen allergies.

4. Hoof Stuff

Like the Sole Cleanse, Hoof Stuff is an antimicrobial product. Once an infected or cracked hoof has been suitably cleaned out and treated, this thick paste can be pushed into any cracks and crevices, preventing further intruding infection. We found packing this into a treated hoof was both satisfying and also gave peace of mind concerning any dirt getting back into any infected areas.

5. Knowledge

Most horse owners understand the fundamental biology behind their animals, but believe it or not, the equine digit is a highly complex piece of kit. After listening to our podiatrist and spending hours on google, I quickly established the internal combustion engine was more basic than the internal
functions of a horse’s hoof.

Because the hoof often holds the answer to many other aspects of a horse’s health (environmental changes, malnutrition, skeletal problems and even psychological disorders), understanding the equine digits’ components and functions will open a door to a whole new way of questioning any potential problems.

Whether all of the above is old hat to seasoned owner or it’s all fascinating to the newbie owner, I hope these winter hacks prevent or intercept an ailment before it gets out of hand like it did for my wife and I.

A Christmas rescue makes it a happy new year for a horse, disabled children and the taxpayer

Happy New Year Horse and Golden Horseshoe against wood background.

Updated 1/25/2016 2:40 pm

Just before Christmas I spotted a gorgeous, healthy, palomino quarter horse colt in a kill pen in Bastrop, Louisiana awaiting shipment to slaughter in Mexico. I bought him as a gift for a therapeutic riding school for handicapped children in Victoria, Texas and shipped him to them.

Had I not intervened he would have been crammed into a crowded trailer with panic stricken adult horses and sent to a hellish death or been trampled to death in transit. A foreign meat company would have made a few hundred bucks selling him by the pound and paying no U.S. taxes. His story would have ended there.

However, now that he has been snatched from the slimy clutches of the foreign horse meat trade he will go to on to a loving home and a long, productive life as a therapeutic riding horse. He will help thousands of emotionally and physically handicapped kids overcome their challenges.

In his 20-year life he will generate several million dollars (I calculate about 9 million) in taxable economic activity in hay, grain, stable salaries, lesson fees, farriers, tooth care, vet services, etc.

A few hundred bucks to a foreign corporation, zero benefits to the U.S. and a one-way trip to horse hell for a beloved American icon vs a productive life, enrichment of the lives of Americans, and millions to our economy are the side effects of horse slaughter.

This is the choice represented by passage of HR 1942/S 1214 — to get rid of the slaughter of our horses.

I urge ya’ll to pass this bill in 2016 so that we can multiply this success story by 130,000 per year (92% of the 140,000 horses slaughtered per year are healthy and young just like this one), pump billions into our economy and stop the foreign meat traders from robbing us of a cherished American treasure.

If you’re so inclined please forward a link to this story to your State and Federal legislators as these are all strong talking points for stopping the slaughter of our horses.

Happy New Year!!!

Brian Sullivan

We will update you with pictures when we receive them. —Editor.

Foto Friday: Hattingdon Horses and Horses with Hats

Re-blogged from Hattingdon Horses

Click any image to begin slideshow.

How fun! This is life imitating art. When I showed these pictures to Hattingdon, she snorted:

I was wearing hats before these horses were born — since I was a weanling. I am not just a model. I love hats and never leave the barn without one.

However, giving credit where credit is due, in my expert opinion the stylist and photographer did an excellent job with their selection of hats and choice of equine models.Exquis!

Hattingdon is right of course. Though I might add, she “was born” wearing a hat.

Shop Hattingdon and get your horses and hats on! »


Hattingdon Horses and the hats they wear are all created by © Vivian Grant Farrell.

Hats worn by actual horses are from Rosie Olivia Milliner’s collection. Images by Venture Photography. Via The Guardian, April 2014. View the Guardian’s Slideshow.

Posted by Vivian.

Malibu the Premarin Mare

Guest Post By

Malibu the rescued Premarin Mare, as she looks now. Source Photo.
Malibu the rescued Premarin Mare, as she looks now. Source Photo.

The name Malibu implies a lovely place that is warm and sunny, but Malibu the mare is not from such a place. She is from a Premarin horse farm that houses horses inside on cold concrete floors.

They are made to stand 24 hours a day for 6 months out of every pregnancy. The mares are kept pregnant because their urine is estrogen-rich during the last 6 months of their pregnancy. Thirst is a constant feeling for them as they are given only small amounts of water so that their urine will be concentrated. Attached to their hind end is a huge cumbersome bag that collects their urine so they cannot move forward, backward, or even lie down. They are tethered to their small miserable stalls so their collection bags do not leak.

Malibu had 9 foals in 9 years that were all sent to slaughter. Horse meat is considered a delicacy in some countries. She had her 10th foal at Watsonville, California where she was saved by Lynn Hummer who is the founder of the rescue.

Lynn has had many a foal born at her rescue. The volunteers who assist at the rescue have many jobs and spend a great deal of their time to keep the horses fed, watered, exercised and on their way to being rehabilitated physically and emotionally.

Slowly Malibu has gained weight, as when she arrived all her ribs were prominent. Lynn thought she might wither away because she had seemed to lose her will to live. Sometimes she stood with tears in her eyes. Some of the Premarin mares die standing on the line. They have been known to just keel over due to the stress placed on their bodies.

I walk to the pasture gate to say hello to all the horses. Malibu hangs back and just eyes me warily. She stands alone as the others come to greet me. She bares her teeth when the other mares come close to her.

I do bodywork on horses and can see that it will be a long time before she ever allows me to touch her—if she ever does. Lynn will never stop trying to make a connection with her. She gives new meaning to the word “rescue” and cares deeply about each and every horse she takes in.

It has been a year, and now Malibu allows herself to be touched—but only for a brief moment. Still, this is a huge step!

When touch from a human hand becomes too overwhelming for her Malibu moves away. She then watches from afar seeming to try to process the fact that the humans mean her no harm in her present circumstances.

Lynn is patient—undemanding of Malibu and unwaveringly hopeful that Malibu will continue on her long path to healing.

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On behalf of horses like Malibu, please be sure to sign our Petition asking Pfizer to stop making drugs with horse urine. And pass this story along. Thank you.