Category Archives: Horse health

Improving horse’s health and fitness.

Just for Grins – Halloween

It’s Halloween. Let’s dress up in costume and eat some pumpkin.

Bailey, the Harlequin Great Dane dressed as a princess, and Saber, the pinto Miniature horse stallion dressed as a super hero, pose in costume for their portrait.

10yr old Miniature horse stallion, Saber and 9 1/2 yr old Harlequin Great Dane, Bailey had their portrait at the Petsmart at San Bernardino, California, then went out for some Trick or Treat.

Saber, the pinto Miniature horse stallion, carves a pumpkin with his teeth.

Last year Saber carved a pumpkin with his teeth for Halloween.

Videos by  who has a cute Cafepress site.

Halloween treats for horses

I’m not sure if my horses have ever seen a pumpkin. That has to change for this Halloween. Don’t throw away your Halloween carved pumpkins. They can be a great horse treat or toy. Roll a pumpkin out for your horse and see their reaction. Many zoos give pumpkins out to their animals for environmental stimulation.

To coax your horse to try a taste, slather a carved out pumpkin with molasses and stuff it with apple and carrot slices. If your horse is Insulin resistant use sugar-free syrup with timothy hay cubes inside.  Even if your horse doesn’t eat the pumpkin, working for enclosed treats makes a good mental stimulation. If they don’t like raw pumpkin, then try smashing up a baked / cooked whole pumpkin including seeds and give as a warm mash. Remember: Everything in moderation! What they don’t eat can be added into the compost pile.

As always read the blog Disclaimer.

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Filed under Food related, Horse health, Just for grins

Pardon to my imaginary fans

Real life with my horses takes precedence over my blogging hobby. My Wednesday Music video of Maari, the bored Icelandic mare, will serve double purpose and also count towards the Sunday “Just for Grins” this week. Pardon to my disappointed imaginary fans.

Twistur cut his right lower eyelid this week. Probably was late on Thurdsay, but I didn’t fully notice until late on Friday when the eye was showing some inflammation. Thankfully the eye was fine and the lid wasn’t a bad cut. Cannot figure out where this happened, but am really looking and feeling around places he might have rubbed. Twistur was into the vet clinic on Saturday. The vet and assistant prepped the eyelid and put in two sutures to hold the skin together. Prescribed some Bute and antibiotic eye drops. The sutures will be removed in about 10 days. I will write up about our experience in an upcoming post to add to the on-line anecdotal knowledge base on such incidents.

Our two hottest months of the year are underway and Twistur’s hair is longer than necessary. Today is overcast with a bit of a breeze, so it is a perfect day to bathe and clip Twistur.

Hope everyone is having a great day.

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Clipping Icelandic horses in Spring

Icelandics in Texas ==> Clipping Icelandic horses

My Icelandic horses in early March started shedding their long winter coats amidst the singing birds and blooming flowers heralding the coming of Spring in north Texas. Icelandic horses winter coats were not intended for our mild winters. Their winter coat was between 2 – 4 inches long. Slow natural shedding could take over a month. Using shedding tools speeds up the process, but clipping is the fastest way to remove the excess hair.

Every horse clipping explanation that I have read says to use a #10 blade for a body clip. This cuts the hair at 1/16 inch or 1.6 mm. The face, ears, and legs may be clipped even shorter. Dogs, on the other hand, are clipped at varying lengths depending on breed and fashion. There are many blade lengths available for clippers. The #T84 blade (3/32 inch, 2.4 mm) is an extra wide blade commonly used to clip horses.

Andis clipper blades

Spring rains and warmer temperatures bring out the mosquitoes. A female mosquito bites through the skin using a special straw-like proboscis to get blood. They need the blood to be able to make their mosquito eggs. The bite is nearly undetectable, but the after effects can cause an immune response raising welts with itching. Bangsi is particularly sensitive to insect bites.

Besides the irritation that can cause severe scratching, mosquitoes are vectors for several illnesses. Texas horses can be vaccinated against Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis, plus the West Nile virus that also affects humans.

Asian Tiger Mosquitoes are common in north Texas.

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Asian Tiger Mosquito by Sean McCann on Flickr (Creative Commons)

The horses longer winter hair was a definite help in avoiding mosquito bites on their body and even their lower legs. The mosquitoes could not easily penetrate and bite past the long hair. They would land and crawl around looking for a place to bite, but unable to find a spot. The only places the mosquitoes seemed to be able to bite were the face and sheath. The mosquitoes would line up around the eyes and along the cheek bones at dusk and dawn. I smeared those areas with SWAT repellant ointment. Letting horses have a place to stay inside at dusk and dawn, plus a fan to blow on them, can also help lower the bites.

How long is a mosquito proboscis?

Mosquitoes are slender and relatively small insects, usually measuring about 3–6 mm in length. Some species, however, can be as small as 2 mm while others may be as long as 19 mm. (1)

“most of the commonest mosquitoes have the proboscis 0.1 – 0.14 inches (2.5-3.5 mm) long and half or even 2/3 of it is usually inserted in victim’s body” (2)

Small mosquitoes have a proboscis up to 2 millimeters long; in medium-sized mosquitoes the proboscis is 2-3 mm; in large mosquitoes it is greater than 3 mm. (3)

Clipping with a #10 blade (1/16 inch) could leave them more vulnerable to mosquito bites. The difference in hair length to be slightly cooler wouldn’t be enough benefit, particularly so early in the Spring. The #10 blade length is shorter than their natural summer coat.

The ideal clip length would balance cutting their hair shorter to help them be cooler while leaving their hair long enough to lessen mosquitos bites. Last year I experimented using snap-on combs over #10 blade for different lengths of cut, but the combs left more streaks in their coat. A blade cuts more smoothly and evenly with less effort, but does require purchase of extra blades.

I clipped their coats at 1/4 inch (6.3 mm) using a #5FC blade. The #5FC is an even clip while the #5 blade has a skip tooth cutting edge.

Andis A-5 #10 clipper blade

Andis A-5 #5FC clipper blade

Andis A-5 #5 clipper blade

The 1/4 inch clip length would be longer than a mosquito proboscis, which would lessen the likelihood of a Texas mosquito penetrating through their hair to their skin. The extra hair length would also provide them a bit more protection in case of an unusual cold snap or cold wet rain while still helping make them more comfortable and cooler in the warming weather. The longer length would make a blanket unnecessary in our Texas climate for our Icelandic horses, even with a Spring cold snap. I only clipped above the knee leaving their longer hair on the cannon bones to shed out naturally for extended mosquito protection.

Bangsi needed no further clipping later in the Spring to finish shedding his coat. I clipped Twistur again in late March using the #5 blade for most of his body, but used a #10 on his neck, chest, and around his head. He really enjoyed having the hair trimmed off shorter on his head and under his mane. Twistur’s coat re-grows and is a different thickness and texture than Bangsi’s. This maybe a symptom of some insulin resistance.

Next year I may clip them heading into winter to more closely mimic the coat length of a typical Texas Quarter horse in our area. Their 4 inch hair is too long for our winters, though I do love their fuzzy unique look.

A-5 Clipper Blade Inch Millimeter
#40 1/100 0.25
#50 1/125 0.2
#30 1/5 0.5
#15 3/64 1.2
#10 1/16 1.5
#9 5/64 2.0
Blocking blade 5/64 2.0
T84 3/32 2.4
#8.5 7/64 2.8
#7 1/8 3.2
T24 4.0
#6 3/16 4.8
#5 1/4 6.3
#4 3/8 9.5
#3 1/2 13.0

– 1 inch = 25 mm

– “A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects” – Mosquito: Agrilife Extension: Entymology, Texas A&M System

– Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Division of Vector Borne Disease, West Nile Virus

– “Mosquitoes and the Diseases They Transmit“, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University System

(1) “Introduction to mosquitoes (Culicidae)” by Cambridge University Press 052154775X – Medical Entomology for Students, Third Edition – Mike W. Service (Excerpt)

(2) Mosquito bite questions

(3) “The Determination of Mosquito Females by Microscopic Preparations of the Head” in “Mosquito Systematics” VOL. 6(4) 1974 by A. V. Gutsevich, Zoological Institute, Leningrad

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Blind horse dances – Music

Cash, from last Wednesday’s ‘Just for Grins’ post, showed that a blind horse can have a good life. This music video is of Filur Horsdal, a 22 year old blind Knabstrupper stallion, trained by Bent Branderup at “The Art of Academic Riding” school in Denmark.

Filur Horsdal, a 22 year old blind Knabstrupper stallion, ridden by Bent Branderup at "The Art of Academic Riding" school in Denmark.

Filur was born in 1990.

Video length: 3 minutes 40 seconds
Music: Classical piano
Uploaded by  on Sep 21, 2011

Filur has a companion named Hugin, who is also a blind Knabstrupper stallion. Hugin was treated to some tasty flowers for his 25th birthday. He is blind, but knows his treat is coming.

Hugin, the blind Knabstrupper stallion, is treated to some tasty flowers for his birthday by Bent Branderup.

Hugin, the blind Knabstrupper stallion, is treated to some tasty flowers for his birthday by Bent Branderup.


Video length: 4 minutes 1 second
Music: Classical piano

Hugin, the blind Knabstrupper stallion, rolls with enthusiasm on his 25th birthday.

Hugin enjoys a roll and a shake on his 25th birthday.

The Knabstrupper breed registry was established in 1812 starting with a single chestnut blanketed mare purchased by a Danish butcher from a Spanish cavalry officer. The mare was bred to a Fredricksborg stallion and produced a wildly colored stallion son. These two horses became the foundation of the Danish breed. American Appaloosas were introduced in the 1970s to add genetic diversity.

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Filed under Horse health, Music, Riding

Just for Grins – Blind foal plays with zipper

Cash, a blind Quarter horse foal.

This is a blind foal named Cash. Cash was born on a Quarter Horse breeding farm in northern Alabama on February 7, 2007. Cash has a very rare eye disorder called aniridia, in which the irises don’t develop. He was given a chance to live. A blind horse can have a good quality of life.

Read more about Cash’s story.

He loves playing with zippers.

Video length: 1 minutes 3 seconds
Uploaded by  on May 31, 2007

Rolling Dog Farm is a non-profit sanctuary that rescues and shelters disabled animals. Every animal who arrives at the farm gets another chance to have a safe and loving home. Residents include blind dogs, blind horses, deaf dogs, blind cats, and animals with medical disabilities like muscular dystrophy. Yet every one of these animals enjoys life to the fullest!

Learn more about how to care for a blind horse.

Cash, the blind Quarter horse, training under saddle at 4 years old.

Cash, a blind Quarter horse, under saddle in 2010 at 4 years old. (Click image for Youtube video)

How to care for a blind horse information brochure:

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Just for Grins – Horse blows a raspberry

Horse blows a Bronx cheer (raspberry)

Bill is a travelling documentary filmmaker. His niece Olivia introduced him to this horse. Bill asks “Why do you like this one”? Answer: “Because he makes funny sounds.” The horse blows a raspberry. This is also called making a Bronx cheer. To humans it is a noise signifying derision, real or feigned.

Hopefully this is just a funny learned trick and not a nervous tick like ‘wind sucking‘. Horses under stress, particularly ones kept locked in stalls for extended periods of time, can develop stress habits. Perhaps this horse has learned that doing a nervous tick has gotten him rewards?

What do you think? Is this a trick? Or from stress? Or something in between?

Uploaded by  on Jan 4, 2011
Bill also has a blog.

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Filed under Horse health, Just for grins

Hoof boots – Tread

Twistur has had Spring grass induced ‘sore foot’ episodes. Last year we got him a pair of Cavallo Simple Hoof Boots Size 1, which were intended as a therapy boot. They can be a therapeutic, as well as a protective boot. As advertised, they are easy to get on and off for the horse and the human. After he appeared normal we took him out on various walks and some rides with the boots. He didn’t particularly like wearing them. He seemed to tromp along and had a few stumbles. If his mind wasn’t busy and just standing, then he would cross his front legs and rub the boots or bite at them trying to scratch. He might prefer a hoof boot that doesn’t go up onto the pastern. I think they would just take a little getting used to for him.

He was definitely more comfortable on rocks wearing the hoof boots. If it is a trade-off between comfort on rocks vs itching or clomping, then definitely wearing them is worth it. Two of the nearby trail heads have large white granite rocks. He didn’t want to back out of the trailer and went sideways to stand on the ramp to avoid the rocks. I put on the hoof boots prior to loading next time, so he could have them on when he backed out. The hoof boots definitely helped him with standing on and travelling over rocks.

This Spring the hoof boots wouldn’t go on Twistur anymore. We need to go up a size. The hoof boots were too snug. After a trim they just squeezed on, if I made him stand to push them on. This is too tight. His front hooves are now more slightly oval in shape due to a longer toe. The difference is probably only 1/4 inch or so, but the fit was already on the snug side. The need for a new set of hoof boots has given me the chance to re-evaluate the options.

*** Update: November 10, 2012 – Twistur has grown out a flare on his front hooves that were no doubt from the laminitic episodes. The original hoof boots started fitting again. In between trims they are still getting snug, but I can get pre-set onto his hoof and his weight standing on the hoof boots pushes them on all the way. He is not clunking in the hoof boots and less tripping, which may indicate some of those issues were also from the laminitic feeling feet. We have been making several diet and management changes to try to resolve the laminitic episodes. There has been no evident hoof soreness in over a couple of months. We were still having some minor soreness during summer with weight shifting and not wanting to run around. He has been happy to move and no weight shifting. We are now getting out again wearing the hoof boots including rocks and concrete. Twistur hasn’t been tested with blood work, but he sure seems to have IR (insulin resistant syndrome). The Cavallo hoof boots continue to be a good choice for us. ***

During the last year Easyboot has come out with “The Trail”, which is similar in ease of putting on to the Cavallo hoof boots. It is recommended for “medium-distance riding of up to 25 miles per week (usually an average of 1 – 1 1/2 hours a day)”. Easycare says they are 20% lighter weight than the Simple Boot. The Easyboot Trail has the same tread as the Old Mac’s G2.

The Delta Hoof Boot looks like the same tread as the Cavallo Simple Boot, plus similar design overall. Turns out they are both made by Cavallo.

“Delta Horseshoes merged with the Mustad Group as of January 1, 2009 to become Delta/Mustad Hoofcare. They are now including the Delta Boot, developed and manufactured by Cavallo Horse and Rider Inc., in their range of hoofcare products. The Delta Boot will be offered in Delta/Mustad’s farrier supply channel throughout their worldwide distribution chain.” – Southwest Horse Trader July 23, 2009

I have been unsure about the treads on the hoof boots interfering with ‘gaiting’. The Icelandic tolt is a single foot racking gait. I’m not sure how much of a tread is really necessary or if too much tread could interfere with movement. I have been unable to find weights listed for the various boots. The weight of a hoof boot could affect the gait.

A couple of the hoof boots have an option to add studs for snow / ice, such as the Marquis and Renegades. This isn’t a concern where we live.

If you use hoof boots, then what type do you use or recommend? Pros / Cons? How does the traction of the tread affect your horse? Please leave a comment with your experience or opinion.

I couldn’t find a single place that showed the various treads of the horse hoof boots, so have put together this gallery. Clicking on a photo will open up a new tab for the website of the hoof boot.

Gallery of bottom of Hoof Boots showing Tread

Bottom of Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot

Cavallo Simple

Bottom of Delta Hoof Boot


Bottom of Cavallo Sport Hoof Boot

Cavallo Sport

Bottom of Easyboot Trail Hoof Boot

Easyboot Trail

Bottom of Old Mac's Hoof Boot

Old Mac

Bottom of Old Mac's G2 Hoof Boot

Old Mac's G2

Bottom of Easyboot Epic Hoof Boot

Easyboot Epic

Bottom of Easyboot Bare Hoof Boot

Easyboot Bare

Bottom of Easyboot Glove Hoof Boot

Easyboot Glove

Bottom of Easyboot Edge Hoof Boot

Easyboot Edge

Bottom of Easyboot Grip Hoof Boot

Easyboot Grip

Bottom of Renegade Hoof Boot


Bottom of Boa Hoof Boot


Bottom of Marquis Hoof Boot


Bottom of Hoofwing Hoof Boot


Bottom of Swiss Horse Boot

Swiss Horse Boot

Bottom of Equine Jogging Shoe

Equine Jogging Shoe

Bottom of Horse Mocs Hoof Boots

Horse Mocs


Filed under Horse health, Riding

Furbuster – Shedding horse

Furbuster and Furminator are very similar products. They are de-shedding grooming tools that gently pull out hairs that are released from the skin and ready to come off. The tool does a good job of removing loose hair. They work very well in removing a shedding undercoat. How much hair is removed each stroke depends on how many hairs are shed.

The Furminator is the more expensive product version. I found a cat sized Furbuster at a local big box discount store for $13.00. The smaller size requires more strokes to cover my horse’s body, but also works well for areas around the face and legs. I also use the Furbuster on my 2 cats.

Letting my horses shed out more naturally leaves longer hair in case we have a late cold snap, as well as helping keep mosquitoes from biting through to their skin. The mosquitoes can’t get through all their hair on most of their body. I plan to clip them to shorter hair later in the Spring as temperatures increase.

My horses enjoy the scritching effect of the Furbuster on their skin. The grooming provides a good bonding time with my horses. They really love being groomed with it.

This year the plastic broke that holds in the metal part with teeth. It was easily repaired by using some duct tape. None of the metal teeth have broken and tool works just as well as when first used 2 years ago.

If you search for Furminator and Furbuster you will find many example videos of grooming of cats, dogs and horses. These are 2 videos from Spring of 2010 trying out the Furbuster on my horses. I’m not left-handed, btw.

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Winter coat shedding out on our Icelandic horses

This year we have had a very mild and wet winter. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this year. Mr. Groundhog may have predicted 6 more weeks of winter, but our horses think it is Spring. Our Icelandic horses’ winter coats are already shedding out, which is earlier than prior years. Loose hairs started on their faces at the end of January. On February 7th there was suddenly a release of hairs, particularly in the white areas of the coat.

What does an Icelandic horse’s hair look like in mid-winter, if not clipped? This is video from last year.

Their coats insulate so well that they collect dew. They have long feathers and chin whiskers.

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Filed under Horse health, Music

Our horses mirror us

How we move will affect how our horses move.

Alexander Technique while riding horse. Marie and her horse, Gabriel (Dabs).

To follow the horse’s back at the walk, you must have a deep, mobile receiving seat. Your balance and mobility can directly affect the quality of your horse’s walk.

Be a spruce tree. The roots grow down from your center as the trunk grows up.

You should allow your body to extend upward from your center as your legs grow down around your horse from that same place.

– Quotes from “Centered Riding” by Sally Swift

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