Category Archives: Linda

What is in your Equine First Aid Supply?

We all hate the thought of something bad happening to our equine friends but we owe it to them to be prepared. This is a guide to your permanent equine first aid supply on hand for in the barn. When you are on a road trip or trail ride you will want to bring key items that are in a portable container to put in your trailer or saddle bags.

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There are many equine first aid courses offered now and they are a great way to tune up your first aid practices like bandaging and wound dressing.

First off make sure you have the following in place in case of emergency.

  • A land line phone or good cell phone reception.
  • A posted list of emergency procedures including 911 and other emergency numbers such as vet and key people you wold call for help. Post this by the phone and any other key locations.

I own five horses: QH, Paint, TB , Arab and Warmblood. I also take care of other peoples horses. Thankfully injuries are few around here except this year. My QH gelding somehow punctured his hoof, right between the digital cushion and the frog. It was deep! No damage was done to any crucial structure. Later this summer the same QH managed to get a deep slice right under his eye almost severing off his lower lid! My Tb mare managed a wire cut and bowed tendon and my amazing older Arab choked then became unusually colicky. The first aid treatments of these cases were critical. Calling the vet was the first thing to do after applying any first aid. I am grateful to have acquired excellent advice from peers and vets over the years to help me in these types of situations and give me options on treatments.

I have gone with the conventional medicines and treatments as well as the holistic approach. It is important to know your horses very well as some treatments and medications may not be the best for that individual. For example, on my QH with the puncture wound, I gave him antibiotics as per my vet as his leg became infected despite my strict regimen of flushing, cleaning and wrapping. His body required a rebuild of sorts after the treatment. I put him on probiotics, an herbal detox, liver flush all over a period of a few weeks. In the future a more holistic approach is my direction with him.

horse first aid

The first aid kit is a necessity for any horse owner. My barn kit is actually a cabinet with plenty of supplies on hand. Inevitably you loan some supplies out to a horse in need. Keep this clean and organized.  I also have a small fridge for those items like probiotics. Your kit may also contain many items to help your horse with the healing process, inside and out. The following is a good guideline on what to include in your kit. Add items that will be helpful in any surprise situation. Is there such a thing as being too prepared?

A chart of vital signs and colic signs posted or in your first aid kit is very handy.

The absolute necessities:

  • Thermometer
  • Stethascope
  • Scissors. No pointing ends! Get the ones??with rounded ends.
  • Vet wrap. Many many??rolls.
  • Duct tape.
  • Salt. Great for adding to warm water for a natural saline flush.
  • Gastricol. Use when any colicy symptoms appear.
  • Alcohol. for disinfecting scissors and such.
  • Syringes. Great for flushing out puncture wounds.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Clean towels. Large and small.
  • Hoofpick
  • Tweezers. Get that nasty tick off or a foreign object lodged in skin.
  • Stainless steel bucket. Easy to disinfect and indestructible.
  • Square gauze. Various sizes.
  • Fly mask. Must have to protect eyes from flies which can cause infection but to protect injured eye.
  • Bandages. Gamgee, standing quilts, stretch and polo bandages.

Additions to your kit.

Many are holistic additions I have made over the years. Be aware that this list can grow as you find what is better to have on hand. Many items can do the same thing but some are better for specific situations.

  • Honey. Unpastuerised. Antibiotic.
  • Oil of oregano. Antibiotic.
  • Arnica pills. Arnica rub. A good anti inflammatory.
  • Tea tree oil, spray
  • Apple cider vinegar with Mother. Great to spray on hooves with slight thrush. Mix with Tea tree oil.
  • Betadine.
  • Probiotics.
  • Polysporin
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Baby disposable diapers. A good hoof poultice.
  • Hoof boot. I know this is an extra but it can be quite convenient.
  • Coconut oil. Great for small scratches, mud fever.
  • Essential oils. This is an area I am beginning to explore. Many oils are great healers. Do your research to find out what and when to use them.

  • Roll of paper towels.

There are many equine holistic practitioners who are a wonderful source for connecting you to the right product per ailment.

As you can see this can get quite extensive and expensive. There may be many items missing here depending on what your approach to healing is. Experience with your horse will help you decide what is the best course of treatment. Call your vet anytime you need help or advice and let them know of any adverse reactions your horse may have to conventional pharmaceuticals.

Adding non essential items over time will be easier on the budget. All is worth it to help your equine partner and give you peace of mind. Your horse appreciates all the time and care you give him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying your first horse. Finding the right match for you.

Here is a scenario: You are established in your career. You are a parent. Your kids are all going to school or in university. You have always loved horses but just had to put that dream of owning one on the backburner for a few years. Now you have decided it is the time to follow your dream. Where do you start?

First off you need to have some great professional advice. Refer to my last article Great Trainers and Horsemen -How can you tell? If you are one of the privileged few to already be working with a great trainer you are off to a good start. A great trainer knows you and will be honest in finding the right match, not just make a sale.

Your skill level and needs.

Be honest with yourself on what you are comfortable with. Do you want to ride in an arena, hit the trails, work cattle or learn dressage? A horse with good experience is essential. Keep in mind that a competition horse who has a trough full of ribbons is not necessarily the right match??for you. Owning a horse is a big responsibility. Large amounts of your time will be spent training, caring and mostly spending positive time with your horse. Make sure this can fit into your lifestyle. This is a relationship that takes time to nurture and develop and is extremely rewarding when done well.

Budget.

Set your range of a purchase price, and keep an open mind – there are many considerations here. The horse with experience and a healthy mind and body will be more costly. The older horse is not to be dismissed as they are some of the greatest teachers and as such, are invaluable. A young horse will be challenging; a support group of educated horse trainers and caretakers is absolutely necessary to take this challenge on. The initial price of the young horse may be less but you will need to budget for training of the horse and yourself for the long haul.

Caretaker.

Who is that going to be? If not you, then this person should have years of experience in caring for horses well. Their understanding of diet, exercise and the herd mentality is absolutely necessary to the health of your new horse. The stable where your trainer works is a good start. If your trainer runs the stable, even better. Trainers and caretakers can be a great team and support to you and your horse. The property your horse will call home should be clean, fencing safe, shelter, ample water,hay quality good, pasture available and healthy herd mates for your horse to call family.

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Viewing the sale horse.

Take your great trainer along with you. They have the experience in knowing if this horse is a potential match for you. They will also know what questions to ask of the seller and give you great feedback. Keep an open mind, listen to comments and conversation, and ask your own questions. This is a great learning experience for you – how to evaluate a horse for purchase – even if you are not the right match for this horse.

Try out period.

When you think you have a potential match, a try out period is essential. This can be in a lease agreement, a commitment to lessons or other contractual agreement. If leasing is not an option the next best thing is taking lessons with your trainer and new horse candidate. Horses have their own personalities as do we. It takes time to develop a relationship and find the right match.

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Purchase.

You have found the right match. Your great trainer is supporting you. Now its time to take the plunge and make an offer. The right partnership is crucial and a fair offer is necessary. Health records and a buyer/seller agreement are the next step to obtain. The seller may want to buy the horse back if you decide to sell in the future. Each agreement can be tailored to both parties. Get advice from a trusted source like your great trainer.  A pre-purchase exam by a vet is helpful information and a good idea for the first time buyer.

Congratulations on finding the right match for you. Now you have your first horse. Dedicate as much time as possible to learning and building a positive relationship with your new friend. The more you know your horse the better you can tell when things are emotionally and physically well – or not – with him. Your great trainer will encourage you to do lots of groundwork and can help you with this. Your life will never be the same. Enjoy!!

Great Trainers and Horsemen. How can you tell?

We have all been there. You want to improve your riding, move up from the trainer you have, help with a “problem horse”, or start showing and now you are on the hunt for that elusive great trainer that can help you.

Honestly this will not be easy and I don’t believe it should be.

I have been there myself. I was one of the lucky ones when I was a teenager riding. I had a great teacher, Gerry. He was, in all respects, very tough. I mean that in a complimentary way. This pertained to riding and life. He knew I had talent that required guidance. My lessons were very demanding. He put me on any horse he had. Green or Grand Prix dressage. Gerry coached with all of his heart. He explained himself and drilled me until I got it. And when I got it, Gerry was elated and full of praise!

This was a balanced teacher for me. Too tough for others but exactly what I needed.

Now it is your time to hunt for your teacher. Balance in life is a continuous search. Your relationship with your horse is no different. Your Trainer should be able to help you find balance with your horse, physically and mentally.

Here are a few points to note when you are looking for the right trainer for you and your horse.

Is he/she professional?

I mean this in more than how they dress. How do they communicate to you? Do they listen to you? Are they respectful? Or do they only talk about what they know?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What is their education and experience?

This is a big one. Experience and education gained by a trainer solely in the show and competition ring to me is a red light. The greatest trainers in the past and present may have competed but they understand that a life with horses and teaching people is much more than that.

A great trainer has apprenticed, worked for or spent most of their education budget to learn from the best. Find out who this or these people are. This will give you great insight into the philosophies of your trainer candidate.

Continuing education. Do they do it?

Education never stops. If your candidate does not continue their education, this is a red light. Maybe they feel they know it all. No one knows it all.

Where and who are they continuing their education with? This does not mean the only in the competition ring.

Everything from anatomy courses, horse and human, to self improvement is very positive.

Watch their teaching sessions and training sessions.

I once took some reining lessons. The trainer rode the horse I had. He proceeded to say, “Do not let your clients watch you train!” I wondered why, and later saw him ‘ train’. Abuse is what I saw. To the horse first and then verbally demoralizing the student. Red light.

A great trainer/ horseman will welcome you into their classroom to observe them teach. The student being taught should look relaxed and engaged with their teacher. Deep concentration is a good thing.  The teacher and student relationship can be intense during the learning process. Enjoy this opportunity and ask questions at the end of the session.

Keep in mind that everyone, horse and human are individuals. Some teaching sessions may be intense while others are relaxed and playful. A great teacher can tailor their lessons to each individual pair and their needs. There is no formula lesson for everyone.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Horse. How do they respond to the trainer? Another big one. Probably the most important in many aspects. I have seen horses shy away, get stiff and have big eyes when the trainer approaches the horse. Red light.

I have also seen and experienced horses immediately relax and soften their eyes in the presence of a trainer. Yawning and deep breaths are a good sign as well.

So you’ve settled on a potential candidate for your trainer. Take a lesson or two, maybe more. See how you two mesh. Are you learning new things about your horse and yourself? Does your horse enjoy the session? Does this trainer give you help with “holes” in your riding?

Finally, references are important but not the holy grail of a great trainer. It really depends on where you and your horse are at this moment. If your friend is a high level competition rider the trainer may be great for them but not for you.

Having horses and learning from them is a beautiful thing. There will be ups and downs in this process, that is for sure. But just like any great relationship in life it is all worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Health and your horse

We all have our own stories of a horse we have just loved and had great times with.

Then there are the stories of horses whose relationships have been challenging.

Some horses are easy to love and others seem to put us in a mindset of negativity.  How can we deal with this?

Lets start with the challenging horse.  It’s always a good idea to seek the assistance of a good professional trainer with this type of horse. This is a tough journey for most and a great support system where you can build on success is essential.DSC00439
In training horses and people over the years I have come to understand relational dynamics to a deeper degree.

The challenger horse is the type that requires clarity with consistency at all times. Emotional health, thought and space are the first things I would look at. Lets focus on emotional health.

The person who has the challenger requires an emotional strength of calmness, stillness and clear direction in space. Just think, if you are in the presence of an individual who is highly stressed you would most likely begin to feel stressed just being with them. You are taking on their negative energy; this is the same with horses. When you are with a highly stressed horse it is critical that you are calm and still emotionally. This is the first place to start. This will take practice and does not come naturally to most of us.

Start in the field or the round pen. It is crucial that you have no agenda. Breathing deeply, bring yourself to be in a moment of calm. You will begin to notice changes in your horse. His head will relax, he will take some deep breaths. This is a good time to leave your horse for a moment. Return again in a calm emotional state. Breathe deeply again letting the stress leave your body and mind. Repeating this will establish some consistency and begin a new basis of how your horse will see and respond to you. Apply your new mindset while you are leading your horse, grooming and make this the new standard.

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Now for the easy to love horse. This horse also requires clarity and consistency. The difference is that if we do not attend to the easy to love horse’s needs through emotional health, thought and space they just fill in the gaps for us. This is no big deal to them since this horse is OK with taking care of us. These are the types of horses that will carry a beginner through their first creek crossing, jump a poorly approached jump with ease and let little girls braid their hair for hours.

This does not mean the easy to love horse will not teach us anything. Actually they will! Becoming emotionally calm and still with this horse and then tuning into their thoughts will be welcomed. For instance, when grooming are they asking for an itchy spot to be rubbed? Is this horse lifting a leg, swishing its tail or getting fidgety when being brushed? You may have touched on a pain issue.

Pay attention to the small signals this horse gives you and they will offer more of themselves to you.

The small things are critically important to all horses, we just need to listen.

Horsemanship for your English Trail Horse

Is your horse only ridden in the arena?  Too valuable to be ridden outside? Only a show horse ? Too spooky to ride outside?

While it is crucial to have your horse gymnastically trained over jumps or dressage, your horse also benefits greatly from real world riding as I like to call it. This may entail working with cows, trails or just riding out on the ‘Back 40’. Great horsemanship entails all of the horse in all environments.

If you answered affirmatively to any of the questions above, you’re not alone. There is a general perception that English riders only ride in the arena. I think we can change this. Buy why ? Lets look at some advantages to training and riding outside the arena – an English trail horse.

Value:

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While I believe all horses are personally valuable to their owner or rider, there is a monetary value on the highly bred types. But your horse does not know how much he is worth in human dollars.

If you have spent a sizeable amount of money on your horse you, may be afraid to take him outside as you think he may hurt himself. If your horse is confident and happy in his work, there is a much lower risk of injury. A tight horse, no matter what his dollar value will be much more prone to injury.

Arena training can transfer to the real world. Is your horse tense in the arena? A focus on training the mind to be relaxed and still, is transferable to all breeds. While a hotter horse may perform with more extravagant movement the relaxed horse will have beautiful flow and self carriage in theirs.

A horse that has a foundation of stretch, rhythm and looseness will outlast and perform his counterparts. This looseness and rhythm is the tell of a still mind.

Your Show Horse

Your horse will encounter countless situations at these shows that are potential spooks. There are tables with cloths, potentially hiding monsters under them, children – very unpredictable at times, dogs, flower pots, people with papers in hand and who knows what else. Your horsemanship skills are put to the test at these show venues.

So your horse may deal with these mini crises but is he dealing with them positively?

Horsemanship in training may entail bringing in the potential spooky situations into the arena. Use things you already have for your training. Got a tarp, sheets or flags? Use your imagination. Put these in the arena and see how your horse reacts. Let him investigate. Be cool. Have positive calming thoughts and breathe. Taking on a worried mindset will not be beneficial for your horse. He needs you to be an energetic positive horse-person.

‘Outside of the Box’ Training

You may have had some positive experiences with spooky things in arena. Now take it outside. Start by hand walking him and stay in the comfort zone. If you sense him near the edge of his comfort zone, stay calm and breathe. Your emotional strength is what your horse draws from. Walk at the edge of this zone until your horse is more relaxed, then return to his comfort zone.

Then repeat. It is crucial you build on the positive mindset. Try not to overwhelm yourselves as this will be detrimental to success. You can recover an overwhelming moment by returning to the edge of the comfort zone and re-establish the calm mind set.

Your horsemanship skills are what the horse is counting on. Listen to what he is telling you with his expressions and posture. If he is tight with big eyes then he needs your help to be calm.

English Trail Horse

Hitting the trail with your English tack and English horse is a ton of fun. When you go out take a friend with you who has an experienced and calm horse. This will help you both be successful. Keep it short and positive the first time out. Horsemanship skills are crucial to observing when your horse is in a still state of mind and returning to the comfort zone in this state of mind.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are very good horsemanship trainers out there who can help you and your horse. Work with one who has experience in helping people and horses. We all need professional support and it is well worth the reward of riding out on the trail.

Your arena horse can benefit tremendously by riding outside of the box. The trail is mentally stimulating and can be physically demanding. Your horse will strengthen his muscles and the variety of terrain will help him become more confident and surefooted. Cross-training is essential for all athletes no matter what level.

Now go out there, feel the wind in your hair and enjoy your horse – he will enjoy the change too.

Linda Fitzpatrick
March 25, 2014