Equine First Aid Kit

Equine first aid kit

Ensure you have an emergency kit convenient at all times whether you haul your horse or not. You will want to make sure it is well stocked and easily accessible along with centrally located.


Keep a first aid kit in multiple locations including the barn, trailer and put together a portable one for the trail.


A well-stocked first aid kit should include items to:


  1. stabilize and treat wounds
  2. including a tourniquet
  3. hemostat
  4. bandage
  5. scissors
  6. antimicrobial solution
  7. gauze pads and rolls
  8. elastic adhesive
  9. wrap and roll
  10. all purpose healing salve
  11. wound spray
  12. an easy boot for injuries to the foot
  13. a roll of duct tape to secure waterproof bandages
  14. water proof bandages
  15. extra tetanus toxoid on hand in the refrigerator (for the barn)


Homeopathic remedies for Colic

by Dr. Dan Moore DVM


 It’s difficult for me to discuss any health issue without the mention of a few homeopathic remedies for colic is no exception and overload or excess of anything can often be helped with a remedy called nux- vomica It is my first response favorite remedy for anything related and is great at what I call energetically detoxing as well as for other health issues such as post-anesthesia.


It’s actually also good for people who have eaten or drank too much!


 Most homeopathic remedies are available as liquids but I prefer the little BB sized pellets packaged in lipstick tubes most health food stores and some big grocery change chains can carry them potencies of 30C or 30X are generally used by most people unless they are trained otherwise.


 I am totally convinced that homeopathic remedies can never hurt and can only help in any case we never leave home without a remedy box and there’s always one at the barn.


 Another remedy to consider is Colocynthis should the nux not give comfort it is especially helpful for cramps that would be characterized by kicking and rolling and looking or biting at the belly. Additionally, Colchicum especially if neither of the other remedies seem to work.


 I usually give nux a few times every 10 minutes or so followed by Colocynthis and Colchicum  rotating each at 10 minute intervals.  I also try to prevent rolling by walking the horse because this process often takes his mind off the pain and gets the gut moving


Equine Intelligence: Nine Insights Into the Way Horses Think

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker


The fact that horses have no visible “weapon,” like the horn on a rhino or the claws on a tiger, gives a major clue as to how their minds work. Their primary form of defense is “flight,” (verses the “fight” some animals may engage in) and as prey animals they are experts at knowing when to flee and executing this action with lightning quick reflexes.

But it’s a mistake to assume that horses are simply a product of their instincts, relying on reflex alone. The fact is, horses are often compared to dogs and cats in terms of intelligence, but it’s much like comparing apples to oranges.

Dogs and cats are predators, and as such have developed very different skills and behaviors compared to horses. Understanding the latter, therefore, won’t come from expecting a horse to behave or think like a dog, or attempting to draw such comparisons, but from striving to understand why a horse’s mind works the way it does.

Equine intelligence researcher Evelyn Hanggi, Ph.D., co-founder of the nonprofit Equine Research Foundation, explained to Horse Talk that horses are more intelligent than many people believe:1

“Common beliefs maintain that horses have a brain the size of a walnut; horses do not think; horses are merely conditioned-response animals; horses cannot generalize; horses have no sense of concept; horses are color blind, have poor acuity and depth perception, and cannot transfer information from one eye to another.

In reality, horses manage not only ordinary daily cognitive tasks but mental challenges as well. In the wild, they must cope with food and water of inconsistent quality or unpredictable distribution, predators that change locations and habits, and a social system in which identities and roles of individuals must be discovered and remembered.”

How Do Horses Think? Nine Key Insights

Dr. Robert M. Miller is an equine veterinarian and behaviorist who has summed up the way horses think in nine concise points. All of them relate back to the fact that horses are flight animals, and this is key to understanding why they do what they do. As summed up by DVM 360, once you understand Miller’s nine points, you’ll begin to understand the complex underpinnings behind horse intelligence.2

Flightiness Does Not Equal Lack of Intelligence

While many equate horses’ (and many prey species’) flightiness as a sign that they’re not very bright, it’s important to understand that flight equals life for horses, who must outrun their natural predators of cougars, wolves and bears in order to survive. Miller told the news outlet:3

“I now realize that the horse in its natural environment, the grassy plains, is a highly intelligent animal. As we go through this list, you will see that the horse rates extremely high on some scales, and in several places, it rates higher than any other domestic animal. I am still learning to respect the intelligence of the horse.”

Horses’ Senses Are Incredible

Because quick response time is a life-or-death matter for horses, they have developed incredibly sensitive senses, from their vision to their nose and tactile awareness. In fact, Miller says they’re the most perceptive of all domestic animals, with an ability to sense slight changes in position in a rider on its back (even a slight turn of the head) and see with virtually 360-degree vision.

Because a horse’s eyes are set on the sides of its head, it’s able to see what’s on both sides, but their depth perception suffers as a result. This is why horses hesitate before crossing a stream — until they’ve learned the route or come to trust their rider.

Horses Learn and Are Desensitized Quickly

Miller believes that horses are faster learners than dogs, cattle, swine and sheep. This is because being able to decode what’s a threat and what’s not is essential for a prey animal like a horse. They also become desensitized to potential threats quickly once they realize they’re not harmful.

Why? Miller told DVM 360, “Because if you’re a flight animal and an unfamiliar stimulus — a thing you’ve never seen before or sound you’ve never heard before — precipitates flight, if that stimulus was harmless and you didn’t quickly desensitize to it, you’d never stop running. There’d be no time to eat, drink, rest or reproduce.”4

Horses Have the Fastest Response Times of All Domestic Animals

This again helps them to survive in the wild, but is an important point to remember if you spend any time around these majestic animals. “[I]f the horse wants to kick you and you’re in an exposed position, you’re going to get hurt. We just can’t move that fast,” Miller says.5

This is especially important if you’re standing in one of horses’ two “blind spots” — directly in front of or in back of them.6 You should always talk to a horse when approaching these areas so the horse knows you’re there and doesn’t become frightened.

Horses Have Excellent Memories

Miller says horses never forget, and this includes both good and bad experiences. Their memory skills were likely helpful in one experiment, in which horses were taught to use a touch-screen computer to discriminate between different shapes and sizes.

The 42-inch touch-screen monitors showed horses different sizes or shapes. If the horse chose correctly by touching the appropriate choice with his nose, he was rewarded with a carrot, which was automatically distributed beneath the screen.7

The horses learned to use the screen quickly, and were presented with different letter combinations (in which X was always the wrong choice) and shapes of varying sizes. The horses were able to identify shape differences similar to chimpanzees and humans, although the horses had more difficulty with closed shapes like squares, triangles and the letters O and D.

We recently visited a horse, Cimba, my daughter had a close relationship with over seven years ago. We didn’t know if he would remember her when we entered the barn, but his response was unmistakable and heartwarming; he was as glad to see her as she was to see him.

Horses Are Easily Dominated

Horses are herd animals and there are leaders and followers within the group. Horses are the most easily dominated among domestic animals, readily accepting leadership from other horses or humans, provided the leader uses the appropriate behaviors. Because horses are herd animals, they shouldn’t be pastured alone.

Interestingly, in the wild, the leader of the herd is typically an older mare (female horse), which some believe gains its alpha role not by strength or power, per se, but rather by experience and attitude, according to Carey A. Williams, Ph.D., extension specialist in equine management at Rutgers University. Williams reported:8

“The older mare has had more experiences, more close encounters, and survived more threats than any other horse in the herd. The requirement of the lead horse is not strength or size; if this were so, then humans could never dominate a horse. Dominance is established not only through aggression but also through attitudes that let the other horses know she expects to be obeyed.”

Horses Have Their Own Body Language

Miller believes it’s important to learn horses’ bodily signals. A horse with its head down, as it is during grazing, signals submission and trust whereas a horse with its head up suggests it’s alert and considering flight. He also advises using non-predatory body positions when approaching a horse, such as avoiding staring at the horse and keeping a relaxed posture.

Controlling a Horse’s Feet Leads to Control of Their Mind

If you control a horse’s movement, you’re in essence controlling the horse, because a horse depends on its feet and ability to flee to survive. Miller explained to DVM 360, “When you are on a call and they bring the horse out, while talking to the owner, first move the horse around in a quiet little circle … The horse will be thinking, ‘This person is controlling where my feet are positioned.’ And submission is the response to that.”9

Horses Hit the Ground Running

As a precocial species, horses are able to stand and run very soon after birth and have full use of their senses. It’s during this time, in the first few days after birth, that imprinting is greatest and foals quickly learn to identify what are threats and what aren’t.

Understanding Horse Intelligence Can Further the Human-Equine Bond

Compared to intelligence research in other animals, relatively little work has been done on the potentially advanced intelligence of horses and much remains to be discovered. It’s recently been revealed, for instance, that horses use subtle signals to ask humans for help when faced with a difficult problem.10 They’re also capable of reading your, and other horses’, facial expressions.11

According to Hanggi, deciphering equine intelligence is a crucial area of study, as only by fully understanding how horses’ minds work can we be sure we’re treating these creatures with the humanity they deserve. As she told Horse Talk:12

“If the cognitive abilities of horses are misunderstood, underrated, or overrated, their treatment may also be inappropriate. Equine welfare is dependent on not only physical comfort but mental comfort as well.

Confining a thinking animal in a dark, dusty stable with little or no social interaction and no mental stimulation is as harmful as providing inadequate nutrition or using abusive training methods. Therefore, it is in the interest of both horses and humans to understand more fully the scope of equine thinking.”


Do Horses Need Hay Around the Clock?

Do Horses Need Hay Around the Clock?

By Clair Thunes, PhD

Q. I have heard that horses need hay kept in front them all the times, but also that they don’t need 24-hour access to hay. I feed my 20-year-old horse 8 ounces of protein feed in the morning with two to three flakes of hay, and then turn him out on the pasture in afternoon until it gets dark. Now that it’s dark at 5: 30 p.m., I bring him in but don’t give him any hay for the night. Am I feeding him enough?

A. Accurately evaluating if you’re currently feeding the right amount of hay is challenging because I don’t have all the information I need about your horse and what you’re currently feeding. There are really two ways to look at your question:

1.      The first is are you feeding enough to meet your horse’s nutritional requirements; and

2.      Are you feeding enough to maintain gut health?

I will try to address both using some general considerations and hope you’ll find it helpful.

You’re correct that some owners/barns keep forage in front of their horses 24 hours a day while others meal feed. If you think back to where horses come from, they evolved in an environment where they could eat around the clock. Because available forage was low in nutritional value, they had to eat a lot of it, and their digestive tracts evolved accordingly. As a result, their digestive tracts are set up to receive small amounts of food almost constantly and always secrete stomach acid; most of their digestive tract volume is dedicated to forage fermentation.

Traditionally, our domesticated horses were fed in the morning before they went to work. They might receive a meal during the day in a nose bag or similar and then would receive another meal or be turned out on return from work at night. Meal feeding has remained our model for feeding horses even though few horses work all day and this pattern of feeding goes against how their digestive tracts are designed. Feeding this way was a necessity of the lifestyle, and meal feeding remains a mainstay of feeding practice in many barns.

When we apply these considerations to your horse, you’re doing a combination of both as you meal feed, but your horse also gets access to pasture for at least some of the day. It sounds as though your horse likely has feed for most of the daylight hours, assuming the morning hay lasts until turnout. However, overnight there is no feed available. Having no forage available overnight goes counter to the way your horse’s digestive tract is designed. Yet it’s how many horses are fed.

That said it’s also true that the risks of developing issues such as equine gastric ulcer syndrome and some forms of colic increase when horses are meal fed and go for long periods without forage access. So feeding some forage after return from pasture might benefit gastrointestinal health especially now that you are bringing your horse in earlier and the time spent in the stall without forage has increased.

This brings us to the other consideration: Are you feeding enough to meet your horse’s nutritional needs? The first consideration, and what I am going to focus on here, is calories–are you feeding enough calories to maintain body condition? Reducing your horse’s turnout time on pasture means less time for him to consume pasture and the possibility he’s consuming fewer calories. I say possibility because horses have actually been shown to consume the greatest amount of pasture when they are initially turned out, so reducing turnout time might or might not have a significant impact on total pasture intake.

However, at this time of year pasture quality drops off considerably. Rate of plant growth is reduced, so there’s a strong likelihood that your horse is not getting the calories from the pasture that he did over summer and early fall. This could lead to a loss of condition. Not knowing what condition your horse is in currently, I can’t determine whether this would actually be beneficial or not for your horse.

If current condition is ideal, then a loss of condition should cause concern and would require that these missing calories be provided some other way such as additional hay. This could be achieved by feeding some hay when you bring your horse in which would also help solve the issue of the long overnight period without feed.

If your horse needs to lose a little weight, or the reduction in pasture intake does not cause a loss of condition, then you could look at restructuring your current feeding program to spread out the hay you are feeding throughout the day and overnight. Instead of increasing hay intake in this scenario you could feed some of the morning hay in the evening.

Whether you feed more total hay or spread out the current hay fed, consider using a slow feeder so that it takes longer for your horse to eat the hay you are feeding. Some horses can handle constant access to forage without gaining undesirable weight. This typically requires finding an appropriate hay that has low nutritional value and restricting access with slow feeders. However, not all horses adjust to this even when the hay is of low nutritional value and display undesirable weight gain and therefore must have their intake limited.

One last general rule of thumb to keep in mind when debating the issue of whether you’re feeding enough total feed is how much feed your horse is consuming as a percentage of body weight. Research suggests that most mature horses in grazing situations consume 1.5-2% of their body weight per day as dry matter. While studies have shown wide variation in the amount consumed by each individual, veterinarians and nutritionists typically recommend a minimum of 1.5% of body weight as dry matter to maintain gut function.

Hopefully as you consider these general guidelines and your current feeding program they will help you to determine how best to make feeding adjustments if you decide changes are necessary.


Peppermint – Good tasting and good for your horse!

by Hilary Self, BSc (Hons), MNIMH comments by Diane Weinmann

Peppermint is one of the main herbs for digestion and contains between 0.5% and 1.5% of volatile oil, found in all parts of the plant. The oil content is highest just before flowering. The quantity of oil in the plant can vary depending on the variety of mint, the soil it is grown in and the climate. The oil consists of about 50% menthol.

The reason peppermint is such a valuable herb for the digestive system is because of this oil. It has a carminative action, helping to relax sphincters and the smooth muscles of the digestive system, assist in the expulsion of intestinal gas, tone mucous membrane surfaces and increase peristalsis. Peppermint oil is sometimes administered to people in capsules for irritable bowel syndrome.

The oil has a cooling, soothing and anesthetic effect on the smooth muscles of the stomach and intestines, which makes it one of the key herbs to choose when dealing with horses prone to colic, gastric or duodenal ulceration, smooth muscle spasm, trapped gas, digestive cramping or poor appetite.

Peppermint contains a bitter quality that increases bile secretion and helps stimulate the appetite as well as tannins, which can help with horses who suffer from loose droppings or bouts of diarrhea.

Other internal and external benefits

For the respiratory system, antibacterial peppermint oil can be added to a pad or steam inhalant and used to help loosen residual mucus/catarrh, relieve and reduce the frequency of a troublesome cough, encourage perspiration in the early phases of colds and flu, or help combat lung infections.

The menthol content of the plant is antiseptic and when used in high concentrations can act as a disinfectant. The oil has been extensively trialed and shown to offer very significant antimicrobial and antifungal effects against over 25 bacterial and 20 fungal species.

Externally, peppermint oil can be sparingly added to topical lotions or blended with a carrier oil (such as almond oil) and applied directly on the skin or mucus membrane. The oil can act as an insect repellent and is often used to reduce the sensitivity of skin receptors, helping to reduce pain, itching, or sensitivity to temperature, making it fantastic for topical use on skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and neuralgia.

In the winter time I used to melt peppermint candies in hot water and add sweet feed and some bran to make a hot bran mash for my horse.  It helps keep things moving (if you get my drift with the bran) and it’s a favorite treat to warm their bellies!

Next time you brush past some peppermint and smell that fresh aroma, remember how many benefits this humble herb has to offer.

Equine Rehabilitation with Reiki

by Kathleen Prasad

Featured in Equine Wellness Magazine ~ Vol. 11 Issue


Healing Hands using Healing Touch for Animals or Reiki

Follow these simple Reiki steps for powerful rehabilitation results in your horse!

If you love to ride your horse, chances are you’ve rehabbed him from an injury at one time or another. There are many ingredients for creating a successful journey back to health and soundness, and sharing Reiki with your horse can be a very helpful part of the healing program. Besides helping you navigate the difficulties of rehabbing with a peaceful outlook, Reiki can give you the opportunity to deepen your bond with your horse!

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a meditative practice that nurtures heart-to-heart connections with your horse. Healing starts where our hearts connect, and because of it’s gentle approach in which the horses leads each session, it’s ideal for helping even the most sensitive horses heal from injury.

When rehabbing your horse, stall rest and a controlled exercise program may be recommended. Reiki can be extremely beneficial for helping your horse stay mentally peaceful and happy while exercising less. It can also help balance his body, mind and spirit – creating ideal conditions for powerful self-healing.

If your horse is recovering from an injury, you’ve got lots of time to just “be” with him – often we spend the time with our horses “doing” things. Since Reiki is really about “being”, rehab time is ideal Reiki time.

Exercises for sharing Reiki with your horse

So how do we “do” Reiki with horses? I like to use the term “share” instead. Through our Reiki meditation practice, all we are really “doing” is returning to peace and harmony within ourselves. Once we are in that balanced space, our horse can shift more easily back into balance himself. Thus, to really help a horse with Reiki, we first need to get in the right state of mind. We have to let go of our agendas, of the pressure to get the horse better, of our desires to force this and fix that. Instead, we have to practice stilling our minds, opening our hearts, and just being with our horses.

Try this Reiki exercise

  1. Choose a quiet time to be with your horse. Afternoon naptime, when your horse is quietly grazing, or dinnertime (once he is settled) is an ideal time to share Reiki. Choose a place to stand nearby, without directly touching your horse.
  1. Take a moment to let go. Take stock of your thoughts about your horse in this moment. Observe the things you are worried about, the things about the situation that frustrate you, or any other bothersome thoughts and emotions. Imagine these thoughts and emotions transforming into clouds in the sky. Watch them float away. Just let them go without judgment.
  1. Center yourself and set your intent. Place your hands on your lower belly and breathe deeply. Visualize roots coming down from the bottoms of your feet, anchoring you deep into the earth. Feel yourself stable and strong like a tree. Imagine your heart is radiating a beautiful light. Hold an intention of perfect health, wellness or well-being in your heart and mind.


Kathleen and Kodiak

  1. Create a “Reiki Space” for healing. Expand the light of your heart throughout your whole body. Every cell is full of this beautiful and bright light. This light is full of perfect healing, harmony and balance. Imagine this wonderful healing light can radiate out of your body into the space around you. Slowly expand your hands outward from your belly as you visualize the light shining out.
  1. Invite your horse to share this space with you. As you stand radiating this beautiful light, look deeper than the physical/emotional struggles your horse may be facing. See your horse’s heart as a beautiful, perfect and bright light just like yours. Realize that at the heart, your horse is full of healing power! At the heart, in this moment, all is well, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Invite your horse to connect with your heart and share this bright space of perfect balance.
  1. Let go of physical touch. If the horse chooses to come to your hands at this point, Reiki may involve direct physical contact in the form of light touch on areas of the body he is comfortable with. Your horse will guide you in this. Although Reiki is just as effective without this direct contact, because it’s really about a state of heart and mind, for many horses the power of touch is a very strong way to convey compassion and care while nurturing a heart-to-heart connection. Just follow your horse’s lead.
  1. Relax and just “be”. Continue to stand in a relaxed way, focusing on your roots, on the light at your heart, and on the intent of perfect health and wellness. Let troubling or distracting thoughts float away like clouds in the sky. Observe your horse moving closer or farther away, or standing quietly with you, without judgment. Notice the signs of relaxation, happiness and connection that your horse may show.
  1. Give thanks. After a time, your horse may disconnect and move away, or become more active. This is often a sign that “Reiki time” is over. Bring your hands back to your belly and feel yourself grounding as you set your intent to finish. Take a moment to thank your horse for connecting with you before you leave the space. Realize that the Reiki Space is a place where separations soften, hearts unify and healing happens for all. Notice any feelings of peace, well-being and healing that you feel within yourself.
  1. Follow these steps every day or as often as possible while your horse recovers. Notice how much easier the rehabilitation process becomes for both you and your horse!

Sharing Reiki with our horses is about being completely and utterly present in the here and now. When our horses are injured, our first instinct might be to run from difficulties, hide from suffering, shift our focus into anger over past causes, or worry about future outcomes. With the openness and compassionate presence that Reiki meditation brings, we can learn to see from the heart instead of focusing on all the outer things that are “wrong”. In this way, we can support a return to balance. Be patient, “be Reiki” and you will not only support a beautiful healing rehab journey, but also deepen your bond with your horse.


Does My Senior Horse Need Calories or Protein?

Does My Senior Horse Need Calories or Protein?

Posted on August 19, 2014 by Roy J. for Nutrena


There are some common questions come up when we talk about what happens to horses as they age and why their bodies change shape:

§  Does my good old horse need more calories (energy) or more protein?

§  He is out on good pasture and is holding his weight, but his hair coat looks dull and he has lost muscle mass.

§  She looks a little thin, should I add some fat/oil to her diet?

These are all apparently simple questions, but actually we need to look at the nutrient supply and purpose a little closer.

Calories from fat/oil, digestible fiber (structural carbohydrates and starch & sugar (non-structural carbohydrates) are the key energy sources for horses. If a horse is thin, that tells us that the horse needs more Calories to maintain fat cover measured by Body Condition Score system. Those Calories can be added from extra fat/oil, extra digestible fiber or additional starch and sugar. Vegetable oil contains 2.25 x the Calories per pound of carbohydrates and is a safe way to add Calories. Switching to a highly digestible fiber source (better quality forage, added beet pulp etc.) can also add Calories of digestible energy (DE). It takes 2-3+ pounds of added feed to add 1 pound of gain, depending on the feed.

Adding Calories alone will not bring back the muscle mass. This will require added protein (really added essential amino acids, particularly lysine, methionine and threonine, the first 3 limiting essential amino acids). If a horse is getting adequate crude protein, but the protein is of limited quality and is low in one or more essential amino acids, the horse will not be able to utilize it fully to maintain or restore muscle mass. This is why it is essential to know the quality of the protein in feeds, particularly these first 3 limiting amino acids.

A common situation is an old horse retired to a grass pasture. It may be difficult for the horse to consume enough to maintain body condition, thus the horse loses weight. The grass pasture may also be low in crude protein and certainly low in essential amino acids, so the horse also loses muscle mass. Tough combination for an old friend!

The good news is that this can be reversed with the use of a well-designed senior horse feed providing both Calories and essential amino acids!


Senior Horse Care Tips

Nutrena Posted on August 25, 2015 by Megan C. comments by Diane Weinmann


These days, horses are living longer, more productive lives than ever before.  Thanks to advances in care, medicine, nutrition and veterinary practices, it’s not unusual to find a horse active into their thirties.  But with more active years comes the need to provide accommodations which meet the special needs of the aging equine.

Turn-out and Exercise

Moving is a key factor in keeping your senior comfortable.  Not only does moving about help with preserving muscle mass, motion also aids in digestion, reducing inflammation and increasing circulation.  Daily turnout is a great way to provide this opportunity, as is regular exercise.  Some ideas to exercise include light schooling, trail rides, driving or hand walking.  Whether in a pasture or dry lot, daily turnout and frequent exercise of your senior horse will go a long way in providing a happy, healthy retirement. Plus it’s more time to spend with your aging friend.



As horses age, their teeth change due to wear.  Hopefully your senior horse has had the advantage of regular dental care in their earlier years, setting them up for success later in life.  Regular dental checks and floats not only help to maintain good dental health, it also provides your senior with the best chance at chewing and digesting their feed and forage.

Forage and alternative options

With the change in teeth comes some accommodation to forage.  Though aged, the equine senior still requires fiber as the main source of energy. Changes in dental efficacy as well as digestive system changes means the importance of good quality fiber is even higher.  If high quality hay (more leafy, less stems) is not readily available, hay cubes are a good alternate source of easy to chew fiber.  If needed, hay cubes can be soaked, providing an easy to chew fiber source.

Feed and Mashes

Changes in the digestive efficiency of the senior horses requires some specific nutritional needs.  As the digestive system ages, the ability to digest and absorb nutrients is more of a challenge than in earlier years.  In addition, nutrients are needed in different ratios to support the aging body.  For example, higher levels of quality amino acids are required to maintenance muscle mass in the senior horse.  Feeds that are specially formulated for senior horses provide these higher levels of nutrients in the proper ratio.  Many varieties of senior feeds are considered ‘complete’, in that they contain higher levels of fiber, providing an alternative to forage, thereby making it easier for the senior horse to get the nutrients needed.


You may notice a difference in your horse’s ability to stay warm during cold or wet weather.  Blanketing may be needed to help keep your senior horse warm during inclement weather.  Not only does blanketing help with warmth, your senior horse isn’t spending valuable calories trying to stay warm, burning off energy and their weight.  Blanketing in extreme cold or dampness may help your horse in maintaining a desired body condition.

Senior horse care may require some extra steps and more attention to details, but with the right adjustments, your senior can enjoy productive, happy and healthy golden years.


Trail Riding First Aid

Learn first aid for hoof emergencies in one of the most inconvenient environments you and your horse will encounter – out on the trail.

Accidents happen. And hoof injuries tend to elicit the most anxiety and worry from horse owners, because they remind us of that all-too-common adage – no hoof, no horse. They can occur at any time, but can be of particular concern when you’re out on the trail, far from the barn’s first aid kit, the cold hose and your veterinarian’s number.

Cuts, abrasions and puncture wounds are the most commonly seen injuries out on the trail or during the regular roadside hack. The best advice is to pack a basic emergency kit whenever you are out on the trail, although I’m sure we’ve all gone off for a “quiet hack down the road” with no thought of packing a first aid kit. If nothing else, at least pack a hoof pick for any ride – fold-up picks fit nicely into a pocket, or can be safely tied to a saddle.

Cuts and Abrasions

The equine foot is a highly vascular structure, and cuts or abrasions to the coronet band or heel bulbs will often produce a lot of blood and can appear quite alarming. However, bleeding helps to naturally cleanse a wound, so take a deep breath and let the blood flow for a little while before attempting to stop it. If you are near a clean water source, standing the horse in running water can be beneficial as it cleans without abrading healthy skin, slows the blood flow, helps ward off swelling and lessens sensation and pain. Be aware that some water sources can harbor bacteria that are best kept out of an open wound – common sense must prevail.

If you do carry a small first aid kit, it is a good idea to pack a small spray bottle containing a tea tree oil mixture. This will address immediate concerns about infection. If the cut appears deep, is fairly large, or if there are loose flaps of skin, the hoof should be wrapped for the walk home. A quick interim “hoof boot” can be made with gauze, vet wrap, and of course, duct tape!

Puncture Wounds

These are something you definitely want to try and avoid. Foreign bodies such as nails, fencing staples, broken glass, sharp flints or broken wire, can all pose a hazard. Punctures that penetrate the hoof’s horny sole or frog and enter the sensitive tissues below can vary from trivial to fatal, depending on the depth and follow-up treatment. If nothing else, be sure to have your horse’s tetanus shots up to date!

So, what if you are out riding and pick up a nail or foreign object from the trail? Clean and examine the foot as thoroughly as possible. If you were at home, it might be best to leave the puncture object alone until your vet arrives. Generally, this is not a feasible option when out on a trail, some distance from the barn. It may be necessary to remove the item in order to make the trek home without causing further damage. If you do remove it, keep it to show your veterinarian later. Again, tea tree oil applied directly into the puncture can help keep the wound clean, and a gauze/duct tape wrap will get you home.

Little else can be done on the trail, but a call to your vet is recommended as soon as you return to the barn. Deep penetration wounds are susceptible to infection, in which pus and gas will build up in the hoof. If the pressure builds up within the hoof and no drainage is provided, the pus may eventually run under the sole and up the white line before bursting out at the coronary band. Depending on the nature and placement of the object invading the foot, your veterinarian may suggest x-rays to see if there is any damage to the internal structures and hoof bones.

Hoof Protection For All

Barefoot horses that enjoy the benefit of natural hoof care, including proper trimming, a healthy environment and good nutrition, will grow a strong hoof with over ½” of hard callused sole, a solid rubbery frog and often a ¼” thick strong hoof wall. Certain wounds can still occur, but are less likely. A naturally barefoot hoof has excellent sensory receptors in the frog and sole, so the horse can often avoid serious injury by immediately detecting dangerous footing.

Shod horses, or those subject to improper trimming methods and compromised hoof mechanism and form, are generally more susceptible to injuries on the trail and elsewhere. Riders of such horses are strongly advised to carry an emergency hoof boot in the event of a lost shoe. That said, an extra hoof boot should be included in anyone’s first aid kit!

A small utility tool, such as a leatherman, may also be useful if your horse has shoes. Shoes that are only half off are more of a concern than a shoe that is lost entirely. A leatherman can often be used to pull any remaining nails, or to nail a loose shoe back on. Once again, duct tape is your friend. Wrap the hoof wall and shoe in a figure eight pattern, but avoid taping above the coronet band unless you’ve put a layer of vet wrap down first – the hair will get stuck to the duct tape and can cause problems during removal.

While accidents can and do happen, a little precaution can help you avoid many trail injuries and prepare you to effectively deal with those that do occur.

Johanna Neuteboom is a professional barefoot trimmer and natural horse care advocate, living and working in the Muskoka region of Ontario. For more information on her services, visit barnboots.ca.


Supplements for Horses



As a horse lover I have provided many supplements to my various horses through my 42 years of owning and loving horses.  Obviously many of us horse lovers want the very best for our beloved equine friends and we turn to supplements to keep them comfortable and happy.  I have used hoof supplements, joint supplements, blood enhancers such as Red Cell and many more.  Ah, what we do for our pets!  Read all about supplements by clicking on the link.  Enjoy and learn!