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NATURAL HORSE BLOG

HORSE VISION AND THE EFFECTS ON BEHAVIOUR:

It’s been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. Which is easy to relate to when spending time with horses, as their eyes give us a plethora of information.

As horses’ eyes not only express their mood and frame of mind but they are a major part of the equines innate body language too. Which can help us, humans, to “read” where the horse is at with both their behaviour and improve more refined communication between our two species.

I actively encourage all those involved with horses to learn as much as they can about the way your horse sees the world.

TRACKED GRAZING AND HOOF BATH TIME....

showing some of our herd on their trackWe Track Graze all our horses, in order to balance their green grass intake. So we feed a little bit of grass but mostly hay as to reduce the high levels of sugars and starches found in most of our NZ grasses. Therefore we have an ad lib approach to hay, which is available 24/7 through our Natural Horse Slow Feed Haynets.

This Paddock Paradise/Species Appropriate approach has proved to be a marvellous tool for our herd of beloved waifs and strays, as most of them in our care came in as  rescue/rehab horses, who often have special needs, and Tracking has helped us to manage a wide variety of various horses, who otherwise would have had to be locked up.

HOOF CARE & TRIMMING -NAVIGATING HOOF CARE EDUCATION AND HELPING HORSES TO TRIM THEIR OWN HOOVES.

After many years of rehabbing rescue horses to go barefoot with pretty much every hoof issue known, and the support and talent of our fantastic barefoot trimmer, finally earlier last year I started trimming some of my own horse’s hooves. One thing that struck me from the first trim is why do we work so hard to do what nature will do for us for very little effort and for free?

Showing a feral horses hoof never touched by a human hand yet naturally trimmed to perfectionWhat I mean by this is that we know horses living in wild environments who self-trim their own hooves , without ever being handled in their lifetime let alone being trimmed every month, or 6 weeks etc……so surely we have to ask why are we doing all this back breaking work trimming hooves when if we set things up correctly in the horses environment and lifestyle that the horse would trim his own hooves, and also do a very good job of it that suited his unique set of circumstances/physique /terrain and the going too.

GARLIC, HORSES AND EQUINE ANEMIA:

I discovered many years ago, through my research into plant toxicities in horses, that Garlic is one of the compounds that can cause serious health issues for our Equine friends, and is directly associated with a condition in horses called Heinz Body Anemia leading to Hemolytic Anemia.

Heinz Body is a condition that occurs when otherwise healthy red blood cells are covered with damaged hemoglobin cells that contain little “bubbles”. The damage is caused by a substance contained in the Garlic called thiosulfates.

RELATIONSHIPS ARE EVERYTHING TO HORSES:

Equus is a herd animal, living for millions of years in small family groups called bands, often made up on average of between 2-6 horses.
Bands are very much like our own families....mostly consisting of a dad(stallion), mum(alpha mare), sisters, aunties and their offspring.

Due to this family orientated set up, horses have instincts that give them incredibly strong bonds to their family bands, and if we are accepted we can be recognised as part of our horses’ family too. ....

But only if the horse is happy.

KIKUYU GRASS AND WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

Kikuyu grass, or Pennisetum clandestinum, which is a tropical and very hardy grass that is part the Poacea family of true grasses, and one of the largest species of grasses within the world. 

A native to East Africa, and named after the Kĩkũyũ tribe , which are an indigenous people from the region where the plant is a native, Kikuyu has been fed to stock for centuries as it’s very drought tolerant and has often provided forage to farm animals in the greatest times of need due to its drought hardiness.

STRESS FREE WAYS TO FLOAT YOUR HORSE

The discovery of neuropeptides in mammalian brain chemistry is founded on groundbreaking research in physiology, endocrinology, and biochemistry during the last century
Many years ago, like many of you, I also use to follow advice given from various clinicians and trainers etc...on how to make the right thing easy for the horse, and the undesired action of any behaviour in training to be hard work for the horse.

And for a while I tried to buy into this as a way to work with horses ......and for training activities such as float training for example, we were all encouraged to play it out like this or similar......

So when the horse takes interest in the float-the message was to relax and give the horse some quiet rest time, which is often referred to as to give "the release".

ALL ABOUT HOOF ABSCESSES......

Firstly what is a hoof abscess.....
An abscess can be an extremely painful internal hoof infection for our horses, that can range from causing minor lameness to preventing a horse from any weight bearing on the affected leg at all.
Abscesses happen inside the inner workings of the hoof capsule, and often no sign of the abscess itself can be found externally, though a digital pulse can accompany the lameness at the rear of the hoof, and sometimes swelling will be present in the leg too. Abscesses are very common reasons for lameness in domestic horses, and most horses suffer from at least one abscess in their lives, if not more.

MOUNTING WITH RESPECT

BEHAVIOUR ADAPTATION TO MOUNTING ISSUES: 
I have just been reading a NZ horsemanship website, and cringed with what I read regarding mounting and respect. There was a particular bug bear expressed from a horse trainer on there, going on to say that she hated it when a horse walks off when being mounted as it's , and I quote "DISRESPECTFUL".

Now that is a term I really don't like to use, and I've written a lot about respect surrounding equines on many occasions, and can assure every horse owner out there that this behaviour is not done as a disrespectful behaviour from any horse, which sort of implies that the horse is doing it on purpose, and is being "naughty" doesn't it, which I can assure you is not the case, and even if it was, it has nothing to do with respect.

THE EFFECTS OF INFLAMMATION AND MYCOTOXINS ON OUR HORSES HEALTH:

I wanted to write about metabolic issues in horses today as nearly every horse I have seen or helped this year as had some form of metabolic challenge brought upon by all this deadly cow-grass they are eating, that is full of both unsuitable sugars for our horses, as well as high levels of myco-toxins, all of which threaten both our horses sanity and health.

However I see there is much that is still not understood about the risk to our horses as when I speak to most people about Laminitis, I still mostly hear this ERRONEOUS belief that it only affects fat little ponies that have been allowed to over-eat, which I can assure you is not true, as this most painful and debilitating condition can affect ANY horse, at ANY time, when the conditions are unfavourable and if inflammation within the body is not managed correctly, whether that be a huge draft horse, or an athletic arab, or a full time dressage horse, or even a tb off the track.

MAX AND OTTO

MAX AND OTTO-SHADOWING EACH OTHERThese two very misunderstood horses have become the very best of friends, and are like shadows to each other these days-even sharing food, which we are all so pleased to see..
It was a tricky start with Otto (white face) being extremely dominant to Max (with the darker face) and bullying him quite badly at first, but things have thankfully settled down now, and a beautiful friendship has blossomed between these two 17+hh giants.

Max was a bolting mess of stress and toxins upon arrival to the centre, making him very dangerous and unpredictable initially, but he has been through our rescue rehabilitation program himself, and has come out the other side of that as a happy and confident horse who now adores people, so it's absolutely fantastic to see that he has taken Otto under his wing, and is helping him through the program too.

WHEN YOUR HORSE IS EATING-PLEASE TRY TO LEAVE THEM ALONE.

THE PHOTO SHOWS OTTO SAVOURING HIS EVERY MOUTHFUL OF HIS BUCKET FEEDMy job is to study and read behaviour in horses, and I have to say I am always extremely disappointed to see people doing things to their horses whilst the horse is trying to eat their much prized daily bucket feed/s, or when the haynet is just put out etc...

Now you might not be aware of this, but from the horse's point of view, I have yet to see a horse who enjoys doing anything but eating their meal at feed time, and therefore I find it extremely unfair and disrespectful of the animals needs, for handlers to be trying to groom horses, or pick out hooves, or wrestle covers onto horses etc.

LEARNING TO READ A HORSE'S ESSENCE....

After working with behaviourally challenging and trauma horses for all these years, experience in this area has taught me that science cannot explain everything surrounding horses.

Therefore "Essence" is not something you can see, or will hear your average horse trainer talking about.....but after lifestyle, diet, tack and saddle assessments, I have found it to be a very real and vital component of gaining success and trust with horses.

So what exactly is a horses "essence" and how can being able to read it help you become a better horse person?

EQUINE BEHAVIOUR STUDIES-AN ARTICLE ON WHAT IS GRASS AFFECTED?

It's the bad grass season time again, and I devote a huge proportion of my time to helping horses that are adversely affected by eating high sugar toxic grasses, and our horse welfare organisation gives free advice as well as hands on help to the people that are struggling to care for these horses thankfully to very successful results…..but we still see a lot of confusion over horses and grass in our challenging NZ conditions, so I wanted to talk about what being “grass affected” actually means for your horse and how to cope with it, as well as why we suffer so badly with it here in New Zealand?

TOM DORRANCE-ONE OF THE GREATEST HORSE MEN THAT EVER LIVED.

The great Tom DorranceTom Dorrance has been named as one of the founding fathers of what is known as the "Natural Horsemanship" movement. It is due to his teachings that we have a lot of our top horsemen and women of today such as Ray Hunt, Buck Brannaman and the Parellis etc...who all credit him, and his kind and gentle horse philosophy, as pivotal to their horsemanship journeys, and after studying him for the last ten years I couldn't agree more.

Tom was a truly remarkable man that was ahead of his time in all areas when it came to horses.