Saturday, July 27, 2013

Snow Basin (So Very Fun)

Nothing better then riding horses in the high country when the weather is cool and there is moisture in the air.  Had a great 3 hour ride with some friends.  (Dave, Terrie, Jill, Mike,Tim).  This is a very shady trail with wonderful footing for gaited horses.  It allows you to move quickly in the foxtrot if you want to.  It provides great views, rich lush plants and wonderful smells.  It is nice as it is only about 40 minutes from home.  This is a very good trail for training horses and getting them used to seeing bikes and hikers on the trail.  I think this loop at snow basin is definitely in my top 10 places to ride within an hour from home.  It was fun to bring Tiger Lilly along to run free.  She stayed right with us and was totally obedient.  A big Thanks to Jill for riding Harley and giving her a good morning exercise.  I rode my pregnant Cisco this morning and as usual she is an absolute joy to be with.  She had allot of enthusiasm and wanted to move out strong and quick.  We had some soft rain which made it fresh and the trail soft.  Simply a wonderful ride!!!

Horse Advice:  Consider a gaited horse if your main horse riding is trail riding.  Riding a gaited a Fox Trotter is a wonderful treat indeed.  Once you try it you will find yourself addicted.

Life Advice: Make new friends. "He who has a thousand friends, has not a friend to spare".  One of the things trail riding provides is an opportunity to make new friends.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tiger Lilly Training, Oh so fun!

Well today I got off work early and had the great Idea that I should start to teach my cute little buckskin Tiger Lilly to drive a carriage.  I thought she had the right temperament for it but had never given it a try.  Tiger Lilly is 5 years old this spring and is a very nice mount under saddle.  I recently sold my driving horse to a woman in California so I have been anxious to train another horse to drive.  I have a training cart that is heavy and virtually indestructible.  It is the perfect cart for training.    Jeff (my son) and I put her in the harness and trained her for about an hour.  I was soooooooo impressed.  She was calm, put up with all the stuff all over her body and really seemed to enjoy pulling.    It turned out awesome. She was doing her foxtrot and cruising down the road.   With a few more training sessions I think she will have figured out pretty well what needs to be done.  I think she has the makings to be a great driving horse.  One of Tiger Lilly's great qualities is her love of people.  She trusts people and likes to be around them.  Here are a few of our training pictures below:

Horse Advice:  Try new things with your horses.  Driving, Swimming,  Let them run along with you free in the mountains.  Challenge them to hop up on a rock.  Challenge them to jump off the bank into a river.  Shoot your gun around them.  Herd some cows.  Ride bareback.

Life Advice:  Find a cool spot and take an old fashioned 2 hour nap.  Very Sweet!!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mueller Park North Canyon Loop Ride

It is always invigorating to get up early and get riding and on the trail by 5:30am.  The weather is cool, the sun gradually peaks up from the east and best of all you are in the mountains generally alone.   This trail is very popular and is always full of hikers and bikers.  By leaving early in the dark you avoid the traffic.   My friends Doug and Matt joined me this morning.  Matt rode Harley, Doug rode Tiger Lilly and I rode Max.  We let Cisco take a break and run along with us on the trail without a rider.  I love watching Cisco move and gait along free style.  She is so beautiful.    It was a great ride and we finished in 3 hours.  Thanks to Doug and Matt for helping me exercise my horses this morning.  What a great way to start out your saturday.  The views as always were terrific.   The company was great and now I have earned a nap today.   Take a look at the pictures below.

Horse advice:  Bring your horses along that aren't being ridden when you go out.  It is fun to let them run along without a rope and just be a horse in the mountains.  It also is very good for them.

Life Advice:  The best time of day is between 5 and 8am.  Your mind is sharp, your senses fully aware, and your spirit is alive.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What is a Horseman to do? (Barefoot or a Shod foot)

Six years ago I was encouraged by a friend and fellow horse lover to spend the time to research the science behind "barefoot" riding with my horses.  This person taught me to trim my own horses and set me on a path of learning and discovery.  I have invested hundreds of hours reading research, listening to training videos and have 6 years of seeing the things I have learned put into action with my own horses by trimming 5 horses every 4 weeks and one friends horse who is barefoot as well.  I now can say with great confidence that the path I have been on has been the right path.  My horses feet are a marvel to behold.  They are ALL strong, beautiful and functional in every way.  I have watched and studied shod horse hoofs and can see a very significant difference.    I believe my horses are healthier, will live longer more productive and athletic life's because of what I am doing.

I know this blog entry will create some controversy with some and my purpose is not to offend but simply challenge everyone to do the research.  It is one thing to hold to a view after paying the price by understanding the research and quite another to be closed minded and ignorant.

Horse Advice:  Be open minded to new research about health and wellness for your horse.
Life Advice:  Take care of your personal health.  If you lose your health it will be very difficult to focus on anything else.

Please start your own discovery by reading the opinions of Scientists and Veterinarians below:

Top Equine Veterinarians
Research, Studies & Opinions

Dr. Tomas Teskey, DVM:
"Great damage actually begins before a steel shoe even touches the horse's hoof when the hoof is prepared for its application. The natural, life - promoting, energetic shapes of natural hooves are disrespected and disregarded when a farrier flattens the sole of a hoof for the application of a shoe. Flattening the bottom of the equine hoof destroys its ability to perform its vital functions, and nailing a rigid steel ring around the lower edge further ensures its steady deterioration and deformation, as well as provides for a state of disease in the entire horse." ...
"The conductibility of the nails and steel shoe allow concussive forces, vibrations, and sudden extreme changes of temperature to enter the hoof." ...
"Every horse that wears steel shoes suffers some degree of laminar separation." ...
"There are a myriad of other malfunctions that also occur in a shod hoof, and they all contribute to the hoof functioning in a completely different and abnormal fashion and lead to a severe contraction in their size, so much so that when the shoe is removed the horses can no longer walk comfortably on their own feet." ...
"For the presence of steel on a horse's feet, we are able to observe profound damages that occur due to the stagnation of blood within the hoof and the diminished return of blood back up toward the heart through the veins of the lower leg. Shoes interfere with the hoof’s natural blood - pumping mechanism." ...
"I will not ever ask any client of mine to consider shoeing their horse with steel. I have conviction in my belief about this and it is unwavering." ...
"I feel that farriers and veterinarians and trainers and horse people everywhere must learn the truth and tell their clients, friends, and colleagues that shoeing horses damages them and robs them of years of their lives." ...
"Giving a horse his feet back will liberate him and positively change his life, and it will be a liberating experience for you, too, changing your life as you learn firsthand what a powerful tool this knowledge is."

Dr. Chris Pollit, DVM:
In a 1993 video, "Horse Foot Studies", Dr. Chris Pollitt of the University of Queensland, Australia, showed that circulation in the hoof of a shod horse is not supplied with blood in the normal fashion, but through an alternate route.

  • Dr. Robert Bowker, DVM:
    College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University: Physiological Trimming for a Healthy Equine Foot

    "Our research has shown that the equine foot is constantly adapting and responding to environmental conditions. Most feet are sculpted by their environment, rather than only by genetic influences...
    "It is simply a matter of 'whatever you ride the horse on is what you should bed the horse on.' The foot will adapt to whatever environmental surface the horse is standing on. The problem arises when we bed them on soft surfaces (straw, shavings, rubber mats, etc.) and then expect them to walk/trot/gallop on rocks...
    "There are hundreds of barefoot endurance horses that are housed and trained on hard-packed surfaces (hard dirt, gravel, small rocks, etc.) without tender feet. The environment is the major determinant of a healthy foot rather than genetics. Again, it is a matter of common sense, as the foot will adapt to its environment...
    "We do know that such a physiological trim as described here and greater movement--rather than stall rest--are critically important to producing a good foot, regardless of the breed of horse...

    Horse & Rider, Feb. 2006, "Is Barefoot Better?"
    "The blood in horses' feet does much more than provide nutrients to hoof tissues. It also enables the unshod foot to function as a hydraulic system, in much the same way that gel-filled athletic shoes do."
    "We need to be trimming hooves so that more of the back part of the foot -- including the frog -- bears the initial ground impact forces and weight."
    "Horseshoes provide a much smaller surface area to absorb shock...So if a bare hoof landing after a jump experiences, say, 1,000 pounds of loading per square foot, then with a traditional shoe, there's going to be 2,000 pounds per square foot."

    Dr. Hiltrud Strasser, vet. med.:
    "The consequences of the lack of up to 80% of shock absorption are widely known as arthritis, tendonitis, etc. The damage done is all the greater when the horse is young, and the still developing coffin bone is handicapped in its development to proper size through shoeing. Shoeing a horse under 3 years results in crippled and deformed coffin bones and steep, contracted hooves." ... "With a reduction of circulation, metabolism at a cellular level is also adversely effected. Excess protein is not used in the building of tissue (i.e. horn) but builds up in the organism (laminitis, etc.)" ... "It is certain that many people would be alive if the horse's hoof, which caught them in the head, had not been shod."

    Dr. Hiltrud Strasser emphasized that even the most "proper" shoeing results in: contracted hooves, bruising of corium, increased impact forces, damaging level of vibrations, strain from weight, unnatural change in impact, destruction of hoof wall by nail holes, and disruption in normal metabolism of the hoof.

    "In every case, shoeing presents unnecessary harm to the horse -- unnecessary, if the horse's biological needs are met."

    Equine Veterinary Journal 1994 26(5) 362-366:
    Equine hoof function investigated by pressure transducers inside the hoof and accelerometers mounted on the first phalanx.
    P. Dyhre-Poulsen, H.H. Smedegaard, J. Roed, and E. Korsgaard
    In a nutshell, this study was performed in order to determine the differences in the forces of impact between a shod hoof and an unshod hoof. In this study, horses were trotted in hand with shoes on, then again trotted in hand after shoes were removed. The shod hooves had greater acceleration force, higher frequency of vibrations, and longer pressure release in the shod trials. The study concluded that the hoof expansion in the barefoot trials allows for more rapid release of pressure within the hoof. The barefoot horse was much better able to reduce the effects of impact, absorb and dissipate more of the forces than a shod foot.

    Dr. Ric Redden, D.V.M.:
    "The Wild Horse's Foot"
    After his study of 1,800 wild horses' hooves in year 2000, including radiographs: "The palmar angles [of the coffin bone] are basically zero [wild hooves] verses three to five degrees for front feet and five to eight degrees for hind feet [domestic hooves] (ref. Verschooten)."
    In a nutshell, Dr. Redden is indicating that in wild horse hooves, the coffin bone is ground parallel (the bottom surface is parallel to the ground), which is different from how most domesticated horses are trimmed or shod (with the coffin bone tilted forward, putting a majority of the horse's weight on it's toe rather than dispursing weight over the entire surface of the bone).

    The Horse (issue Jan 2003)
    "Normally, the angle the coronary band makes with the ground is about 30 degrees."
    Here, again, Dr. Redden is supporting the ground parallel coffin bone and angled hairline.

    Swiss Cavalry, University of Zurich:
    Veterinary Medical Faculty
    In 1984, the Swiss Cavalry conducted research into the effect of shoeing. Studies showed that the impact force a shod hoof receives on hard ground is 10-33 times that of an unshod hoof. The vibration in the hoof from the shoe is approximately 800 hz. This level of vibration is high enough to destroy living tissue.

    James R. Rooney D.V.M.:
    The Lame Horse
    "Why in heavens name set standards of performance, standards of excellence that require horrendous feet, thick pads, warhorse shoes and mutilated tails? Natural is beautiful too!" "All too little attention has been paid to that 'natural' foot. That's the way he was made; that's the way he should go."

    Ben K. Green, D.V.M.:
    "Many lamenesses have been cured by old horsemen simply by removing the shoes and turning the horse out to pasture on soft ground. In severe cases, even sand is better since at every step the horse puts pressure on the frog and the bars and forces the heels of the foot outward, all of this restores the natural circulation and general conformation of the hoof."

    Equine Vet J 2003 Mar;35(2):184-9:
    Effect of foot balance on the intra-articular pressure in the distal interphalangeal joint in vitro.
    Viitanen MJ, Wilson AM, McGuigan HR, Rogers KD, May SA.
    This study shows that the pressure in the distal interphalangeal joint is greater when the hoof has high heels.

    Scientist, Luca Bein:
    University of Zurich, 1983
    Comparisons of shod and unshod hooves. According to his study, a hoof shod with a normal metal shoe lacks 60-80% of it's natural shock absorption. "A shod foot moving on asphalt at a walk receives three times the impact force as an unshod foot moving on asphalt at a trot."

    Rudolf Zierold:
    Institute of Professor Lungwitz in Dresden
    Dissertation: The Sensitive and Insensitive Laminae of the corium of the Horse.
    Zierold found that, in outwardly appearing healthy, shod hooves, the sensitive laminae showed a significant increase in structural alterations when compared to that of unshod hooves, regardless of the age of the horse. He also stated that the implications of structural alterations in the lamellae of the corium are serious and far-reaching, when one considers that the entire weight of the horse (and far more, at faster gaits or over jumps) is suspended by this connection between laminar corium and laminar horn (ie. the connective layer between the coffin bone and hoof wall). Any pathological alterations from the normal, healthy structure predisposes toward numerous hoof problems (for example, coffin bone rotation, dropped coffin bones/flat feet).

    Alexander & Colles:
    American Equine Veterinary Journal
    Article: "Shoeing--an unnecessary evil"
    Alexander & Colles reminded the veterinary community that it is not the lack of strength in the bare hoof that fails, but rather the living conditions of the horse that causes the problem.

    Scientist, Bracy Clark:
    London Veterinary College
    Bracy Clark found that every shoe, no matter how correctly applied, inevitably forces the hoof to contract. He also explained how the books on equine anatomy showed deformed, contracted hooves as sound and healthy, because the authoring veterinarians only studied sick hooves rather than sound hooves.