Horse care in Canada

Horses Canada Artwork by VGFarrell

(HORSES CANADA) — There is a thought-provoking article at The Conversation on horses and the people who care for them. The author deals with horses in Canada but many of the points made in the article go across borders.

Here’s an extract:

Horses have long held an important place in our cultures and on the lands we now call Canada. Today there are about a million horses in Canada, and their lives vary greatly depending on how we use them and who is around them.

Some people believe that only the wealthy interact with horses, but this is incorrect. People of all income levels and backgrounds are involved with horses in different ways, including for sport, leisure, friendship and therapy.

Plus, all activities with horses depend on labour, and on the men — and especially women — who care for horses around the clock, 365 days a year. There is no closing time when it comes to looking after horses.

In a number of European countries, regular data collection and research help paint a clearer picture of the many roles horses and horse people play in communities and economies . This information gives us ideas of how we can improve horses’ wellbeing.

In Canada, for a few reasons, we have far less data.

Read on »

Horses Canada Artwork by VGFarrell

We are particularly appreciative of these observations:

In fact, although we often use the term ‘equine industry’ as short hand, it is more accurate to speak of equine industries given the diversity of ways horses are being employed and conceptualized. In many contexts, horses are recognized as partners and sentient beings.

Yet in others, horses are seen simply as commodities. In Canada, some horses are slaughtered and others are exported live to be consumed in other countries.

In the ‘pregnant mare urine’ (PMU) industry, horses are repeatedly impregnated so their urine can be collected and made into hormone replacement products for women (Premarin). Some of the foals are rescued , but most are simply slaughtered and seen as a byproduct (much like male calves in the dairy industry).

We invite you read the full article »

Featured image artwork by V G Farrell

Be a responsible owner and protect your horse from the meat man

Horse looking out from Barn Door from

MARCH AGAINST HORSE SLAUGHTER — Since horses have been domesticated, they have been subjected to breeding and ownership, shut up in stalls and barns or corralled and fenced in, dependent on humans for food and water, exercise, medical care, dental care and hoof care — and to keep them from harm and provide for a humane end — just to name a few.

Since The Horse Fund (fka Fund for Horses) began in 2003 we have stressed responsible horse care and ownership.

What prompted us to interrupt our series on horse slaughter numbers and statistics and talk on this subject is this from a story reported by News of the Horse:

The staff at Horse Plus Humane Society were no doubt feeling overwhelmed when the lines of trucks and trailers poured into the parking lot at the Placer County Fairgrounds. Over 100 horses were surrendered to the shelter during their 1-Day Open Door Shelter event.

The event was the largest 1-Day Open Door Shelter Horse Plus Humane Society has ever held, nearly doubling the prior largest event in Wisconsin with 56 horses surrendered.

These horses could have just as easily ended up at a livestock auction or in the hands of the meat man in some other way and ended up in the slaughter pipeline.

It is with this in mind we share these reports from The Horse Fund website. Please help horses and owners by sharing this far and wide.


It will take time, care and patience to find a new environment where your horse will not only feel and be secure, but also prosper.

Remember, your horse trusts you and relies on you to provide for his or her future.

• See Finding a Good Home for Your Horse, A Step-by-Step Guide »


“I know my horse is sick and hurting. I just wanted to find a way to get her put down. I was going to have the vet do it. I’ve got the money for that. But what were we going to do with her body? Nobody seemed to know and my husband said this would be easier for everybody.”

Horse Owner after her selling her 6 yo Thoroughbred to a Kill Buyer,
Sugar Creek Auction, Ohio

• See Insuring Your Horse for a Humane End »


It is typical of a horse’s life that he or she will change hands several times.

When a horse is transferred from one owner to another there is a moral obligation to the horse by both parties.

The current owner’s responsibility to a horse is not done until the horse is safely in a proper home receiving care and humane treatment.

The new owner is assuming responsibility for care and treatment for the long term and must be prepared for all that entails and ready to meet that responsibility.

• See Transferring Horse Ownership: Ensuring Future Care »

Thank you everyone.

Visit Horse Plus Humane Society to make a donation »

Horse looking out from barn door from





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.

Boarding Barn Confidential: Biggest Pet Peeves

Horse looking out from Barn Door from

When the link to this post arrived in my mailbox from I was thrilled to see the subject line and more so when I read the article. This is really good information especially for a horse owner even if you board your horses yourself. Because guess what? You will still have people wanting to do things that sound good but are not good for your horse. If you board your horse, please take the time to read and save this article for future reference. Thank you Ms. Griest! —Ed.

Boarding barn owners reveal their biggest pet peeves.
By Allison Griest – @allisongriest | January 15, 2016

Today, most people don’t have land or riding facilities on their own property, so they opt to keep their horse at a boarding facility. As a horse owner, selecting a barn can be a stressful process. Your horse’s well-being and the enjoyment you get from your barn time hinge on making the right choice. As the barn owner, addressing every individual client’s needs (and horse’s needs) can be a challenge, along with maintaining a safe facility and harmony among the residents, both horse and human alike.

We talked to two different barn owners about what they appreciate in a boarder, and about what they never want to have happen at their barn. For privacy, their names and locations have been changed, but we can assure you that all the stories are real.

Safety Offenses

As a barn owner, Kimberly R. from Ohio considers safety her top priority.

“I teach a lot of young kids, and often parents have the rider’s younger siblings with them at the barn,” says Kimberly. “I need every person at the barn, rider or not, to practice safe horsekeeping and horse handling. There is no other option.”

However, she reports that’s not always what happens. Safety offenses she’s seen include:

•Tying a horse to a movable object such as a portable round pen.
•Tying a horse to a trailer with the reins instead of a halter and lead rope.
•Hauling horses in unsafe trailers.
•Attaching a cinch incorrectly.
•Bringing dogs out to the barn that are aggressive toward other dogs, horses or people.

“One time I even had a boarder leave the barn and call me about 30 minutes later,” Kimberly explains. “She asked me to put her horse up. She’d forgotten to put him away herself.”

Joel K. in Texas has been running his boarding facility for over 30 years, and he says most of the time, the problem with difficult boarders is that they don’t want to listen. They simply don’t trust the barn owner as a knowledgeable horse professional.

There’s more at the article here »

What makes a good client?

Being a valued part of the community at a boarding barn goes beyond paying your bill on time. Kimberly believes all clients are good clients—until proven otherwise, of course. To her, a good boarder:

•Follows the rules.
•Does not make up new rules.
•Is not an absentee owner.
•Is respectful of other people and their belongings and doesn’t borrow equipment without asking.
•Takes care of her own equipment, including grooming supplies and tack, and puts it away before leaving the barn.
•Picks up after her horse. (We all know manure doesn’t magically move to the manure pile. Someone has to put it there!)

To Joel, a good client is easy to describe. A good client has a true love for horses. Every other hurdle that can potentially present itself at a barn can be handled, but if that commitment to the horse is missing, his job as barn owner can be difficult.

— Finding the Right Barn and more at the full article »

Horse Looking Out From Barn