Common Uses of Lemon Balm on Dogs and Horses

Common Uses of Lemon Balm on Dogs

Lemon balm contains, amongst other things, volatile oils, tannins, and flavonoids. These elements give the herb a number of therapeutic effects, including calming and relaxing, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, muscle-relaxing and pain-relieving effects.

In dogs, lemon balm can be used for numerous health issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, and digestive problems, especially gas.

In older dogs, lemon balm can be used to address sleep disorders and reduce agitation and anxiety caused by canine cognitive dysfunction.

Topically, it is also an effective disinfectant for minor cuts and wounds, as well as an effective muscle-relaxant for sores and pains.

On horses, lemon balm’s anti-spasmodic effects on muscle pains and stomach issues is [perfect for stress related situations or environments, like stall rest. Lemon balm can also help horses with metobolic issues by reducing the production of thyroid hormones and ease the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

How to Use Lemon Balm on Dogs

There are quite a few ways that our dogs can reap the lemon balm benefits. The herb can be used orally or topically depending on what your dog needs. For example:

For Oral Use

To make a lemon balm tea that is strong enough therapeutically, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped fresh leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried herb per cup of water). As this herb is non-toxic and extremely safe, you don’t have to worry about exact dosages or measurements too much.

Cover the brewing tea and let stand until it cools to room temperature.

To give the tea to your dog, either add it to his food or water, or both! Add up to 1 tablespoon of the tea per 20 pounds of body weight twice or three times daily. If you are trying to treat a specific health condition, such
 as gas or anxiety, double that amount.

For Topical Use

Freshly brewed lemon balm tea can also be used topically as a disinfecting rinse for minor cuts and other wounds. To make the rinse even more effective, add 2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt to each cup of tea and stir to dissolve. Simply pour the tea over the wound (be sure that the tea is not hot).

To use lemon balm tea as a cold compress (good for acute injuries), soak a clean wash cloth in the cold
 tea, apply, and hold the compress in place for several minutes. To keep the area cold, soak the compress again and reapply.

As mentioned above, lemon balm has muscle-relaxing and antispasmodic properties. Therefore, it can be used to help ease some aches and pains in dogs caused by chronic conditions like arthritis, hip or elbow dysplasia, or old sports injuries. To this end, make a hot compress using lemon balm tea. The tea should be reasonably hot (but not scalding hot). Soak a wash cloth in the tea, wring just enough to stop dripping, then apply to the affected area and hold it in place for several minutes. Soak the compress again and reapply as needed to keep the area warm for 10 to 15 minutes.

Herbal Honey

Since lemon balm is anti-viral and anti-bacterial, it is a good herb to use to make herbal honey, which can be used topically to dress wounds and treat skin infections, and orally to prevent bacterial or viral infections, help with indigestion, and generally boost the immune system. See this page for instructions to make herbal honey.

Safety of Lemon Balm

As mentioned above, lemon balm is an extremely safe herb, and the only contraindication is, in large amounts, it may interfere with the body’s assimilation of iodine, and may therefore affect the thyroid. However, the amounts of lemon balm used for dogs are not high enough to cause hypothyroidism in dogs.

How to Use Lemon Balm on Horses

Horses can eat the fresh or dried leaves or you can make a tea from the leaves  or a tincture and pour it right on their grain or hay. 




Do you know how to Bandage your Horse?

There are right and wrong ways to bandage horses’ limbs, no matter the wrap’s purpose

By Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM


At some point nearly every horse, from the fine-boned, flashy Arabian halter horse to the cowboy’s sturdy, no-frills roping mount, will sport a wrap or bandage on one or more legs. Just because we see bandages around the barn frequently doesn’t mean bandaging and wrapping are easy, and that bandages and wraps are interchangeable and always appropriate. Before you reach for the nearest roll of Vetrap or grab that splint boot out of your tack trunk, look at some of the basic principles behind bandaging or wrapping equine limbs.

Owners commonly apply bandages to shield recent wounds or tendon or -ligament injuries, to protect during shipping or performance, and to prevent fluid accumulation in the limb (“stocking up”) during stall rest. Reid Hanson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, ACVECC, professor of equine surgery and lameness at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Alabama, adds topical dressing application, immobilization, and support to this list. However, bandaging and wrapping, while useful, are not wholly benign. Improper application and/or use of an inappropriate bandaging material can do more harm than leaving the leg unwrapped.

Architecture of a Bandage

Bandage design varies according to purpose, but most bandages include the same two to three layers:

·         Topical dressing, which might be a liniment, medicated pad, ointment, or powder. These are generally used in horses with injuries or skin conditions.

·         Thick cotton padding such as practical (roll) cotton, layers of sheet cotton, cast padding, or fabric quilt or pillow wraps.

·         Compressive/securing layer such as stable/track bandage, Vetrap, gauze, polo wrap, elastic tape, or stockinette.

Of course, veterinarians might modify or augment this basic structure to suit particular circumstances. They might recommend adding splints or bandage casts to provide immobilization in the case of a wound in a high motion area or with a severe tendon injury. As for protection, owners might use Velcro-style shipping boots, single-layer devices that provide skin protection but little compression. In contrast, some wraps and boots intended for performance might provide focal protection suited to a particular sport.

And some might not look like a traditional or prefabricated bandage at all. For some wounds, such as those in areas that are difficult or detrimental to immobilize or where topical medication application is the main requirement, Hanson describes a minimalist wound covering technique known as the “Jolly method.” This technique uses Velcro tabs to secure a wound dressing and a stockinette tube as covering.


Bandage and Wrap Uses

Wounds Owners and veterinarians commonly bandage limbs to protect wounds and surgical sites. A bandage can prevent contamination, provide compression to minimize swelling, hold topical medications against the wound, reduce motion of the wound edges, and keep the exudates (pus) in contact with the wound.

Although exudate triggers an “ick” response in many people, that yellowish slime serves a critical purpose in the healing process. “The exudate has all of the cytokines (cell-signaling proteins) that -produce healing,” says Hanson. Many horse owners “see exudate and assume (the wound) must be infected, and so they get their iodine scrub and clean it,” but Hanson cautions against this. By scrubbing a healing wound, “they’ve removed all the good juice that allows it to heal.”

Hanson prefers using an acemannan (an aloe vera derivative) wound cleanser that is gentle to the tissues. “You should not clean a wound with anything you are not willing to put in your eye’s conjunctival sac,” he notes as a rule of thumb.

Excessive swelling or motion of the wound edges can delay wound margin contracture, a major step in the healing process. A bandage that applies compression can help prevent fluid from accumulating in the limb in response to injury and reduce this swelling.

To reduce movement, however, the veterinarian might need to amend the basic bandage design. A standard soft wrap-type bandage often does not provide sufficient immobilization regardless of how thickly or firmly it is applied. Where immobilization is required, Hanson recommends using a splint or bandage cast.

For most limb wounds, Hanson suggests applying both a primary and secondary bandage. Once a veterinarian cleans and debrides the wound appropriately, Hanson recommends applying a medicated dressing (such as an acemannan hydrogel or calcium alginate dressing) as the primary bandage to promote autolytic debridement (use of the body’s own enzymes and moisture to liquefy and remove dead tissue). In most cases he will cover this dressing with a thick layer of padding and secure it with a wrap material. If the area requires immobilization he will then apply a secondary bandage, such as a splint or a semisoft bandage cast. Hanson prefers bandage casts over traditional hard casts because he believes they produce fewer complications, such as cast sores, and generally the horse can be sent home rather than having to remain in a hospital for monitoring.

Tendon or ligament injuries Wrapping legs with suspected or diagnosed tendon or ligament injuries has its pros and cons. A wrap can control swelling and provide some support to a leg with what Hanson refers to as a classic mid-tendon bow. “However, if the injury was the result of a bandage bow (caused by a too-tight or inproperly applied wrap), I probably would not use a wrap,” he says.

While these wraps generally do not require a dressing, pay attention to the bandage basics of using padding and applying even tension. Hanson does not believe placing a support wrap on an uninjured leg is necessary.

Julie Dechant, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, ACVECC, associate professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, comments that wraps alone do not give “enough support to provide true protection for tendon injuries. We certainly use (them), but in any severely damaged tendon a bandage alone is not enough support.” In these cases, says Dechant, a splint will most likely be required.

Shipping Owners can apply wraps and/or shipping boots to trailered horses’ legs both to protect the leg from trauma and provide support. Hanson notes that he sees horses arrive at the Auburn teaching hospital in one of two types of shipping wrap: the quilt and wrap type or a more modern shipping boot with Velcro closures. Overall, Hanson prefers the quilt and wrap style, feeling that it provides “support, compression, and protection.”

However, he notes that prefabricated shipping boots can provide more complete protection of the leg, covering the coronary band. “It seems that if someone was really concerned about protection, a combination of the styles might be best,” he says. “Bell boots that cover the coronary band are a nice addition to the (quilt and wrap) bandage if one is concerned with protecting that area from injury.”

Dechant believes that shipping boots are useful during travel, but owners need to be sure the boots fit well so they don’t trip up the horse. She agrees with Hanson that “if you’re only covering the cannon, (the boot or wrap) is not as useful in the trailer where the horse is more likely to step on itself.”

Dechant recommends getting the horse accustomed to having wraps or boots on his legs prior to shipping to avoid trauma from panicking in the confines of the trailer.

Confinement Owners can use standing wraps to minimize limb swelling in a stall-confined horse. Dechant says that “whenever standing wraps are placed, they need to be monitored daily and ideally reset at least once per day.” This way owners and managers can ensure the wrap is not tightening or loosening inappropriately and that no debris has worked its way inside the wrap, where it might cause a sore.

Performance Wraps, bandages, and boots are used in a wide variety of equine performance disciplines for protection and, in some cases, support. Dechant emphasizes the importance of clean, well-fitting, and situationally appropriate equipment. “It’s important to apply and use it in the intended manner,” she says. “Some wraps intended for performance are not meant for horses standing in the stall, where they may not have the same degree of blood flow.” Also, cautions Dechant, many performance wraps have less padding, so owners need to be aware of precise application with appropriate pressure.

Bandaging Demystified

Equine wraps and bandages are sort of like sushi: The menu of supplies is extensive, and everyone has an opinion about the “right way” to combine them. While it is true that inappropriate bandage application can cause as many problems as a well-applied bandage can prevent, following these common sense steps can result in successful bandaging:

1. Keep everyone safe. Preventing human injuries is just as important as treating or preventing equine ones. The person applying the bandage should avoid kneeling or sitting on the ground, says Dechant, and should instead crouch, ready to move out of the way if necessary. She also recommends having a competent handler hold the horse during the process. Bear in mind, too, that some horses initially resent wraps on the hind legs, especially over the hocks, so it’s best to apply these in an open area in case the horse kicks out.

2. Don’t skimp on the padding. “Insufficient padding is going to cause a bandage bow,” says Hanson. Padding should be clean, dry, and in reasonable shape, Dechant adds. Since the idea of the padding is to protect the leg, it’s important to avoid incorporating frayed bits of padding or fill that contains wrinkles or bunches–these can cause pressure points under a bandage.

3. Keep it even under pressure. Remember that “anything directly against the skin should not be applied with any tension at all,” Dechant says. But uneven tension in a bandage’s securing layers also can potentially cause tendon damage. “You want an even distribution of compression along the leg” with this layer, too, says Hanson.

“The key is to apply it firmly but not too tightly,” Dechant adds. If using Vetrap or a similar flexible bandage to secure the padding, she suggests applying enough tension to remove 80% of the wrap’s innate “wrinkles.” She also stresses the importance of overlapping layers of bandage by 50% to avoid having edges of the wrap material dig into the leg.

Using a neatly and tightly rolled bandage will ease application and reduce the need to pull against the horse’s leg and sensitive tendons to tighten the wrap. This will also help ensure the bandage is as smooth against the horse’s leg as possible to avoid uneven pressure.

4. Choose your own direction. Despite barn lore to the contrary, neither sources believe the direction a wrap is applied is critical. “Counterclockwise vs. clockwise is less important than technique,” says Dechant. “I don’t think the tendons care if they’re rolled to the outside or to the inside. However, each layer should be rolled the same (direction).” Hanson agrees with Dechant, noting that he hasn’t come across anything in literature to suggest wrapping in one direction or the other is superior. It is, however, important to be consistent in your technique and not to pull too tightly across the tendons.

5. Keep it clean. Shavings, straw, dirt, and moisture can irrate the skin and increase the risk of a wound becoming infected. Start with clean, dry materials and check the bandage frequently for damage, dirt, or moisture. To seal out debris, Dechant recommends securing the top and bottom of a disposable-type wrap with elastic tape such as Elastikon.

Take-Home Message

Bandages and wraps have numerous uses in the horse world but like many things, they can cause good or ill. Proper materials, application, and devices for the case at hand are all critical to safe and successful bandaging. Equally important is experienced instruction, as the information in this article can in no way replace a veterinarian’s experience and advice.


How to Make a Portable First-Aid Kit for Horses


Every horse owner should have an equine first-aid kit in their barn and trailer. There are a variety of equine first-aid kits commercially available, ranging from less than $50 to more than $500. While the expensive kits offer a great deal of diverse treatment options, most horse owners can get by with a more affordable homemade kit for travel.

The Bucket The first step in making your own portable first-aid kit is locating a suitable bucket. A 5 gallon bucket with a snap on lid is the best option. If you don’t have a good bucket (with a lid) you may be able to get one from any of several community locations. Many delis, bakeries, and other food producing companies buy supplies (like pickles, frosting, and filling) by the bucket. When the contents of those buckets are used the facility is left with disposal. When you ask for a bucket you may want to specify the size (5 gallons) and that it have a lid. Smaller buckets may also be available and they can be useful for other things. If you cannot find a free bucket you should be able to buy one from a local feed, supply, or tack store.

The bucket serves two purposes: 1. It is a container to hold your first-aid kit items together and keep them clean; 2. It can be emptied and used as a bucket for first-aid purposes like washing wounds. Before you begin assembling your first-aid kit, thoroughly clean and dry your bucket. There should be no residue, lingering scent, or moisture in the bucket.

Filling the Bucket Supplies for your portable first-aid kit should be carefully selected to fit inside the bucket. Liquid and gel topical medications can be transferred from larger containers into smaller leak proof applicators. Leave the larger containers at home where you have more storage room. Travel shampoo containers work well for both liquids and gels. Small size Tupperware or Rubbermaid type food containers are also handy for holding more solid compounds, and organizing supplies.

Dry Supplies You’ll Need:

  • 16″ Combine Bandage
  • 4 – 3×4″ Non-stick Telfa Pads
  • Vetwrap
  • 5 – Wooden Tongue Depressors *
  • 4 – 10 cc. Syringes **
  • 4×4″ Gauze
  • Epsom Salt
  • Thermometer
  • Stethoscope
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers/Forceps
  • Duct Tape
  • 4 – Disposable Diapers ***
  • Gloves
  • Clean, Small Towel(s)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • 2- 6″ Sections of Rubber Tubing ****
  • Small Flashlight

Wet Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Alcohol Preps OR 4×4″ Gauze in a container with ample Rubbing Alcohol
  • Betadine
  • Dawn Dish Soap OR Betadine Scrub OR Chlorhexidine Scrub
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment
  • 1 Gallon Bottled Water
  • Antiseptic Wound Spray

You should talk to your veterinarian about other prescription medications to include in your portable first-aid kit like anti-inflammatories, analgesics, and tranquilizers. Some prescription medication may require special handling and storage and might have to housed in a location other than your handy first-aid bucket. Once the bucket is filled just snap on the lid and you are ready. As you deplete supplies from the kit simply replace them from your barn supply. It is important that you not only carry these items, but also know how to use them. To learn more about providing first-aid care for your horse, talk to your veterinarian or attend a training conducted by a veterinarian.

*Tongue depressors can be used to apply topical medication without contaminating the wound or the medication.

**You probably noticed that this list includes syringes but not needles. For a basic first-aid kit, without any injectable medication, you don’t need needles. The syringes can be used to flush wounds. A 10 cc syringe is especially nice as you can draw up 2 cc of Betadine and then fill the remainder of the syringe with water for safe flushing of punctures and other open wounds.

***Diapers work great for packing hooves and they are very absorbent and can also be used to staunch the blood flow from a seeping wound.

****Rubber tubing can be inserted into the horse’s nostril and secured, to keep the horse’s airway open in the event of snakebite, excessive bee stings, or other bites that cause severe swelling of the face.


Moody Horses

Emotions have a powerful influence on how an individual behaves and views the world.1  The negative emotions that go along with mood swings can lead to pessimistic thinking and impact quality of life. Exactly what causes moodiness isn’t well understood. Various aspects of a horse’s environment and biology affect its emotional state, and a few of these are presented below.

If you are a horse owner or has been involved with horses at all you have heard the old saying “mood mares” are the worst! Let’s explore why that is….by the way all the mares that I have owned (2) were very sweet and not moody at all!

What Causes Mood Swings?DSCN2662_0011

Medical conditions

A veterinarian should exam a horses that experience mood fluctuations or persistent negative emotions. Moodiness can be a sign of underlying health issues that flare up periodically, such as allergies, joint and muscular pain, gastrointestinal issues, and disorders of the nervous and endocrine system. In humans, mood fluctuations are also associated with psychiatric conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Whether horses suffer from these same mental disorders is not known. Previous injuries can cause occasional discomfort and associated changes in mood. If your horse grinds his teeth, it could be a sign that he is experiencing physical discomfort or stress.

Anxiety and stress

Moodiness has been linked to anxiety, and a string of bad days can lead to a loss of emotional control. Animals with an anxious temperament or who experience chronic stress tend to be more on edge, and negative emotions can be easily triggered by seemingly irrelevant or minor events. Interestingly, a recent study found that young horses showed larger swings in emotions than older horses in response in response to novel objects.2 Controlling mood swings caused by anxiety requires identifying and eliminating the sources of stress from the environment.

Hormonal changes

Hormones are known to play a role in controlling emotions and managing stress. They’re often blamed when a mare is moody, but much more is known about how hormones act on equine reproductive behavior than about how they affect emotions. Hormonal irregularities, including abnormal levels of thyroid and adrenal hormones, can cause fluctuations in emotions.  In humans, disruptions in daily activity can also lead to hormonal imbalances and increase the risk of mood disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.  It’s possible that disturbed routines also cause hormonal imbalances and moodiness in some horses. Sticking to a predictable routine by structuring activities at the same time every day can help maintain normal daily hormonal balance and stabilize mood.

“Keeping a journal can help identify patterns related to the horse’s shifting moods.”

Disrupted sleep

Disrupted sleep is closely linked to mood and anxiety disorders in humans, and when deprived of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, people often become sad and irritable. Horses also suffer from sleep deprivation if they get less than 60 minutes of REM sleep a day, on average, for about a week. This can happen if the horse is unable to lay down in a laterally recumbent position, because of physical discomfort, insufficient space, insecurity about the environment, or social pressure.3 A horse deprived of REM sleep will become visibly drowsy, but it isn’t known if sleep disturbances are linked to negative moods in horses as they are in people.


Even when mood swings seem occur without rhyme or reason, the horse is probably reacting to something that the owner simply didn’t experience or notice. Events in the environment are nearly always involved to some extent in triggering negative emotions in a moody horse. Keeping a journal can help identify patterns related to the horse’s shifting moods.  It’s important to think broadly by looking at the horse’s routine, activities, locations, time of day, weather, social interactions, diet, and more.  Nutrition is considered a vital component to mood management; consult with an equine nutritionist for advice about your horse’s diet and feeding schedule.

Training the Moody Horsehorse-carrot

Figuring out the reasons for a horse’s mood swings can be complex, and negative emotions can interfere with and frustrate training. When your horse is having a bad day, being flexible and adopting a different approach can help. Below are some general strategies that can be used to protect against the emotional highs and lows.

  • Environmental and behavioral enrichment can reduce a horse’s baseline anxiety and vulnerability to stressors. Providing more positive experiences in general and during training can reduce a horse’s pessimistic outlook and improve mood.
  • Moody horses should get regular physical exercise, so don’t give up and put your horse back into his stall when he’s in a bad mood. Exercise causes the body to produce endorphins, and these hormones can help reduce the effects of stress and improve mood. Voluntary exercise is thought to be more beneficial than forced exercise.
  • Avoid punishing a moody horse; it will only make his negative outlook and emotions even worse. Instead, readjust your expectations and demands.  Set the horse up for success by removing stressors from the environment, asking the horse to complete simple tasks, and generously rewarding his small successes.

These strategies will have limited success if there is an underlying medical problem, so consult with a veterinarian first if your horse has emotional swings or persistent negative moods.



1 Briefer Freymond, S., Briefer, E.F., Zollinger, A., Gindrat-von Allmen, Y., Wyss, C., and Bachmann, I.  (2014) Behaviour or horses in a judgment bias test associated with positive or negative reinforcement.  Applied Animal Behaviour Science 158, 34-45.

2  Baragli, P., Vitale, V., Banti, L., and Sighieri, C. (2014) Effect of aging on behavioural and physiological responses to a stressful stimulus in horses (Equus caballus).  Behaviour 151, 1513-1533.

3 Larson, E.  (2012) Understanding equine sleep deprivation.  The Horse (April 4),

By Robin Foster, PhD, CAAB, IAABC-Certified Horse Behavior Consultant and comments by Diane Weinmann

Robin Foster, PhD, CAAB, IAABC-Certified Horse Behavior Consultant, is a research professor at the University of Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington, and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington. She holds a doctorate in animal behavior and has taught courses in animal learning and behavior for more than 20 years. Her research looks at temperament, stress, and burn-out as they relate to the selection, retention, and welfare of therapy horses. She also provides private behavior consultations and training services


Light your Horses Fire but make sure your have water to put it out!

By Sharon Biggs Waller who is a freelance writer for equine ­science and human interest publications and Diane Weinmann

Fuel the FurnaceHorses_eating_hay

People often think a nice restoring cup of hot tea, coffee, hot chocolate or a steaming bowl of oatmeal will warm us on cold days, but it doesn’t work that way for our horses. Hot food, such as a warm bran mash, might temporarily knock the chill off, but it won’t help him stay toasty throughout the night. I used to make a hot bran mash using peppermints melted in water that I heated up then I threw in bran and sweet feed with some apples or carrots. Now that was a treat and it keeps horses tummies warm and everything else moving well if you get my drift…..But what will really help keep those fires stoked is– hay.

It’s been said that “It is how they digest hay that creates the heat”—but did you know that the hay you provide to your horse is fermented in the hindgut, and that fermentation gives off a long-lasting heat. It works just like the steam that rises from your fermenting manure pile. Mmmm, just breathe deep (HA HA HA).

According to vets, horses use that heat to maintain their core body temperature. So as a horse owner, you’re stoking the furnace by feeding them a good quality hay that they can digest and gather nutrients from.

Of course it goes without saying that the forage has to be of good quality. The better the quality of the forage, the more they can eat and the more they will eat.

Any good-quality hay that you can get locally will fit the bill. Just note that as long as it wasn’t overly mature when it was harvested and has a high leaf-to-stem ratio, and absolutely no dust and mold it will work.   If you are in an area where you can get reasonably good alfalfa/orchard grass hay, that would be great. If you are in an area that allows for growing high-quality timothy hay, then that is equally good.

Grain still has plenty to offer in winter, if the quality is good. However, many people think that grains, particularly corn, are “warming” feeds. The truth is, a small amount of high-energy feed will only keep a horse warm for a short time. With hay you get calories, but also heat from digestion.

According to vets, grain helps, but it’s easier to break down and it won’t cause that heat of fermentation, There are readily available calories from a grain that should be part of the maintenance pack, but it still behooves you to base your horse’s diet largely on hay.

What Role does the Water Play?

To help your horse keep his core body temperature up, you must make sure that his digestion is able to function at its peak. That means making sure he has a readily available source of drinkable water which does NOT include snow.

Horses need to have a certain amount of water for the digestion process. If you are in a position where your horse is being fed hay and he has to eat snow for his water, he won’t be able to eat enough snow to compensate for the amount of water he needs for digestion and hydration. Then he may get an impaction…the dreaded COLIC!

In the old days, it was believed that eating snow cooled the horse’s body, but studies done with beef cattle showed that lots of snow had to be consumed at one time before the core body temperature was cooled. Cold water, however, is a different story.

There are some water sources that horses will drink from that may prove the cooling theory correct. If you think how cold some water can get before it freezes, a belly full of that would probably change his core temperature—I mean it would yours’— right?

A bucket of half-frozen water will not fulfill your horse’s needs; he needs unfrozen water that is free of slush and snow. It’s even better if you have taken the chill off. If your horse is going to winter outside, you’ll need to invest in an automatic waterer with a heater. Vets have suggested that you set the water temperature to 37-40°F (2.7-4.4°C).

The colder the weather gets, the more calories your horse will burn to stay warm. If you see the thermometer dropping, the best way you can help your horse stay warm is by tossing him another flake of hay.

Do you hear that barn owners and horse lovers????? Warm your horse with love, treats and HAY (but provide lots of drinkable water)!

Spooky Horses

DSCN2662_0011Ever have your horse jump straight up in the air, shy or jump sideways for no apparent reason? Yep, as horse owners we’ve all had that lovely experience. You think to yourself, what the heck (or WTF)? What do they see that I don’t? They should not be afraid of anything as they are bigger than most things they encounter. I had my horse shy when I bird flew into the area! Seriously!? What was he thinking? Another time by little girl horse Tink-R-Belle spooked at a squirrel running up a tree because their little tiny nails made a sound as it ascended the tree!  I actually told her to get a grip already – 1000 lbs vs 1 lb?

I’ve also noticed that my horse spooks when other horses do. It’s the old monkey see, monkey do philosophy. When we ride with a lead horse who is very stable and not reactive we have a perfectly calm, enjoyable ride. But you can’t always have a strong, stable horse with you—so what can you do?

If you had a better idea of the conditions your riding in and his specific behavior you could try to figure out why he behaves the way he does.

I would recommend behavior modification very similar in principle to helping a horse overcome anything scary–do everything you know to keep him calm, while also remaining calm yourself. You might start by walking around the areas where he’s spooky at home in-hand, and bring along a steady, calm ridden companion or two. Try to stay below the meltdown point. Stop and take breaks as necessary, and give him a treat or a scratch to reward good behavior. Desensitizing is the way to go in most cases and doing it in the “home” environment is most beneficial to you and your horse. You are more likely to have a relaxed horse in his own, comfortable environment.

I also recommend essential oils like Frankincense or lavender to elicit calmness in yourself and your horse. Just a drop or two on your palm, rub your hands together and offer the smell to your horse and of course to yourself before you mount up or show him an obstacle that you want him to become comfortable with. Your horse can even lick it off your hands. You can wipe in on his muzzle but go gently with this…you don’t want to overload him with the scent that he can’t escape from it.

Lastly, it may be time for a health check? Even if he’s ok away from home it might be a good idea to make sure his eyes and ears still see and hear properly. If those check out maybe it’s a boredom factor? Is the training routine the same whenever he’s ridden at home? Is he a relatively smart horse just looking to liven up his everyday exercise? I know I’ve had more than one horse get bored when I spend too much time drilling certain things, some horses thrive on changes and new challenges, others become nervous nellies.

I do know horse love patterns and some repetition because they like the familiar. So get them familiar with whatever spooks them and your life with your horse will become easier.