Monday, March 31, 2014

Allergies in Horses

 A young horse named Sancho, who boards at the barn where I ride, is allergic to just about everything---grain found in feed, pollen, and even grass. These substances cause him to get itchy skin all over his body. Allergies are not common in horses, so I found it interesting that he is allergic to so many things, not just on or two things as is more common. The only things he can eat with getting itchy are alfalfa and oats.

 An allergic reaction occurs when a horse eats or inhales something he is hypersensitive to, causing his body to produce too much antibodies and histamines. This can cause itching, as in Sancho's case, hives, hair loss, and/or heaves. Many things can cause these reactions, not just allergies, so try looking into other problems before you label the condition as allergies. If allergies do turn out to be the culprit, find out what the horse is allergic to and try to keep him away from that substance as much as possible. This can be hard in Sancho's case, or if your horse is allergic to something commonly found in the environment(pollen, for instance), but do your best.

Common Allergens
Insect bites
 The saliva in insect bites is the most common thing for horses to be allergic to. Sweet itch is an example of this. Signs of an allergic reaction to insect bites include bites on the skin, itchy skin, and inflamed, scabby skin. Try using ointments or sprays to reduce itching. If you like essential oils, you can mix several drops of one or more of the following oils with distilled water in a spritz bottle: Roman chamomile, geranium, lavender, copaiba, myrrh, frankincense or melaleuca(commonly known as tea tree). The Animal Desk Reference says that these oils can reduce itching and aid skin conditions. Mixing a supplement containing MSM, Omega 3 fatty acids, adaptogens, and antihistamines into your horse's feed may also help with allergies and skin conditions.

 Doing everything in your power to prevent insect bites on your allergic horse is the best course of action. Spray insect repellent on him, dress him a fly sheet and fly mask when he goes out to the pasture, a maybe even turn him out when there are less insects out.

Airborne allergens
 Airborne allergens include pollen, dust, mold, and other allergens found in the environment. A horse allergic to such allergens may suffer from either itchy skin and/or other skin problems, or respiratory problems that may include coughing, labored breathing, and a nasal drainage. for the skin conditions, use the same as I mentioned before. Mixing a supplement containing MSM, Omega 3 fatty acids, adaptogens, and antihistamines into your horse's feed may also help with allergies and skin conditions.

 It is impossible to eliminate all environmental allergens, but trying to reduce them as best as you can can be helpful. If your horse is allergic to dust and mold, try to keep him outside where the air is fresh, and make sure his hay is clean and free of dust and mold before feeding it to him. Horses allergic to pollen benefit from staying inside when there is a lot of pollen in the air.

Contact allergens
 Horses can also become allergic to fly sprays, grooming products, or certain materials found in saddle pads, boots, and wraps. Lesions often appear on or near the area where the allergen was applied, making it a bit easier to find out where the allergen was found(lesions on the back may suggest the saddle pad, for example). Once you know that, find out the materials/ingredients and try to figure out what could have caused the reaction. Your vet may be able to help. Then, it can be as simple as not using a pad with that material or a grooming product with that ingredient. When using a new product, test it on a patch of skin first, then check back the next day to see if there is any reaction. If so, find a different product. If not, you may continue using it.

Food allergens
 Some horses are unlucky enough to be allergic to common foods, such as grass and grain, both of which are usually fed to horses. Reactions include hives and itchy skin. If your horse is allergic to a certain type of food, it should be removed from his diet. Remember to read the labels of feed to make sure it doesn't contain that food. As I have said before, MSM, Omega 3 fatty acids, adaptogens, and antihistamines  may be helpful in strengthening the immune system and reducing itching.

 Having a horse with allergies can be difficult, especially if he is allergic to many things of something commonly found in the environment or in horse products. Talk with your vet if your horse has allergies. He or she may be able to help you with it.

PS: Someone I know urgently needs to rehome a chestnut Quarter Horse gelding. If you know someone who would be interested, please let me know as he needs to go to the auction April 6th. Heres the link:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wasn't Doing My Best

 I had a riding lesson on Ginger Saturday. It was a little overcast, but not chilly. After grooming her and picking her hooves, I applied hoof dressing, then tacked her and brought her to the riding arena. Many of the  jump poles had been moved outside of the arena, and only four remained.

 I mounted Ginger and rode her at the walk around the arena, doing walk-halt transitions to warm up. Then I rode her over to a set of four walk poles nearby one of the long sides of the arena, circling to the left. I went over them a couple times before Meghan told to go over them at the trot. She adjusted them while I rode around the circle so I could trot over them.

 I didn't feel like I was doing my best for that lesson. My legs were not as solid as usually, and I was gripping with my knees rather than my calves. I think it might have to do with being a bit tired that day. Good thing Ginger was being nice for that lesson without bucking and only refusing to go from walk to trot a couple of times.

 I continued trotting on the circle on going over the set of poles for the rest of the lesson, changing directions a couple of time throughout the lesson by making a U-turn after going over the poles and heading back over, turning in the opposite direction after going over them.

 At the end of the lesson, I rode the loop that went around the barn and nearby pasture. Afterward, I dismounted in front of the barn, untacked Ginger, brushed her and picked her hooves, then returned her to her corral, which was attached to a paddock.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Farrier + Horse Rescue

 Early this week, I helped my mom's friend catch her horse for the farrier. Roman, a chestnut Quarter Horse, doesn't like being caught, so we tried to have him go in a corner where another horse was eating hay. That way one of us could easily put the lead rope on him.

 When that didn't work, we decided to lunge around the paddock without the lunge line until he realized that not being caught was harder work. Gradually, he began to slow down. The farrier came and we still hadn't caught Roman, so he worked on the other a horse, a black mustang named Smoky. By the time the farrier was done with Smoky, we had caught Roman. I held Roman while the farrier worked on his hooves. Both horses were kept barefoot, so it only took a few minutes. I watched as the farrier worked. After he had left, we let both horses out to graze on the green grass.
*  *  *
 I was also able to help out at the local horse rescue. I lunged and groomed several horses, and worked with a young bay two-year-old, Serene, getting her used to being touched all over. I also worked with a bay Arabian stallion named Dante, who gave little attitude but was cooperate later. 

 One of the last horses I helped work with, Rico, was a large dark bay, about 16 hands high. I knew at once that he had some potential for dressage by looking at his conformation. I am by no means an expert at assessing conformation, but I could tell by looking at him. Because he had been rescued at the auction, no one knew what breed he was. He looked almost like a Thoroughbred, with long legs and prominent withers. When I said that, the women I was helping, Patricia, told me that farrier said the horse's hooves were too good to be a Thoroughbred's. I lunged him a bit off the lunge line. Patricia put a saddle(western), just to get him used to not be hurt in the saddling process. Soon after, I went home.

 I will be having a lesson Saturday, if it doesn't rain.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Controlling Insects in Spring

Spring brings warm weather, making riding conditions better for equestrians. With the warm weather, however, comes various types of insects, including mosquitos, flies, and ticks. Often these insects are just annoying, but some can carry contagious diseases. Among these are West Nile Virus and Equine encephalitis. By reducing or even eliminating these insects, you can make your horse more comfortable and possible prevent illnesses caused by insects.

 The first thing you can do to reduce the number of insects is to clean up around the barn. Manure attracts flies like a magnets, so mucking your horse's stall or paddock daily is a huge step in reducing barn flies. Another step is keeping the area dry, particularly in the evening. Don't keep water away from your horse, but empty buckets of dirty, stagnant water, and try to keep his living space as dry as possible. This can help prevent mosquitos. Mowing the grass can also prevent insects, mainly ticks, which hide in tall grass and can cause Lyme disease. 

 When getting rid of insects, it is also important to consider doing things that directly involve your horse. For example, a fly sheet and mask can go a long way to stopping flies and other insects from biting your horse or irritating their eyes. Fly spray can also be helpful, but remember that it usually wears off after a little while. Feed-through fly repellant is also becoming popular. Some feeds contain apple cider vinegar or garlic to prevent flies from swarming around your horse.

 I make my own using essential oils, but regular fly sprays from your tack/feed store work as well. In the blend I use, I mix several insect-repelling oils with distilled water in a spritz bottle. Among these oils is a blend of citronella, well known for its insect repelling abilities as it is found in multiple bug sprays, lemongrass, rosemary, melaleuca, and myrtle. Other insect repelling oils include geranium, eucalyptus, cedarwood, and thyme. You do not need to use all of these oils in your spray; just a few drops each of an oil of your choice will do.

 Insects can be annoying to have around, so making efforts to reduce them can be helpful. Even small things such as fly sheets can make your horse happier with all the bugs around.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review: Beyond the Track

 As some of you may know, I really love the ex-racehorses and someday want to get one of my own. I also want to retrain ex-racehorses as riding horses when I grow up. Because of that, I read a book about retraining ex-racehorses, called Beyond the Track: Retraining the Thoroughbred from Racehorse to Riding Horse, by Anna Morgan Ford.

From Amazon

 Beyond the Track is a complete guide to retraining racehorses as riding horses. The first chapter talks about the life of a racehorse, from early life to yearling sales to training. It includes the typical everyday schedule of a racehorse and what life is like at the racetrack. Then it talks about why a racehorse would retire and what could happen next. It guides you on buying an OTTB from a trainer and also mentions adoption. Additionally, it mentions how to assess a Thoroughbred to see if he/she is suitable for you using conformation.

 The next part talks about injuries, hoof issues, etc. and how to treat them. Then it covers the horse's transition to a new lifestyle. The rest of the book covers different phases of training, starting with basics, such as leading, continuing with lungeing, side-reins, bitting, the first ride, and more.

What I Like
 The book is full of in-depth information on everything you need to know about the transition an racehorse to the life of a regular riding horse. It has pictures to help you understand what to do and even has a troubleshooting guide that explains the causes of common problems and how to solve them. I really love the book.

 Would I recommend it?
 I would recommend this book to anyone interested in training ex-racehorses or even OTTB owners who want to better understand their horse. It has a wealth of information that will be useful when I get an OTTB, though I won't be doing all the retraining.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tersk Horse

 In the early 20th century, at the Tersk and Stavropol breeding farms in the Caucasus region of Russia, Russian horse breeders began breeding a new breed to replace their Strelets Arabians, a larger Arabian better suited to the climate of Russia. The Strelets had almost been wiped out during the Russian Revolution and were losing popularity. Only a few were remaining. These were crossed with Thoroughbreds and their native Don horses. The result was a pretty horse with lots of stamina. Though they are not as fast as a Thoroughbred, they do well over long distances, such as endurance rides.

 For the past few decades, horses like that were bred, creating the breed now known as the Tersk, after the stud farm where in was bred.

Breed Description and Uses
 The Tersk is a muscular horse standing an average of 15 to 16 hands high. They have short pasterns, long legs, and sloping shoulders. Their neck is of medium length, and their profile is slightly dished, with large expressive eyes, like the Arabian. Tersks are usually a shiny gray, though bay can be found as well. They are kind, patient, and willing to please.

 Because of their stamina, Terks do well in endurance racing and eventing, and can be used in show jumping as well.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Riding Pictures

 I don't have many pictures from my lesson, but I a couple videos from yesterday that I mixed into one. I'm going to export that and hopefully upload it to YouTube. I'll have my next dressage test filmed as well.
March 15th

Trotting a circle.

Trot poles.

My favorite from that ride.
 March 16th
Trotting to the right. I'm heading toward the trot poles.

The walk poles.

Heading toward the trot poles after going over the walk poles.

Welsh Pony and Cob

 The Welsh breed is thought to be a descendent of horses and ponies that lived in Wales several thousands years, and is even thought to have a trace of Arabian blood in it. They were used for various purposes, including working on farms. which caused them to develop into four types: the Welsh Mountain Pony, the Welsh Pony, the Welsh Pony of Cob Type, and the Welsh Cob.

 The two smallest types of ponies, the Mountain Pony and Pony, were once used for herding sheep, with the latter also being used as transportation by farmers. The stronger, chunkier Welsh Pony of Cob Type was used when heavy loads needed to be moved. They hauled slate out of mines, worked on farms, delivered goods, and transported military equipment. The last type, called the Welsh Cob, was used for farming, cavalry, and transportation.
Welsh Cob credit

Breed Description and Uses
 Four types exist within the Welsh breed. Section A, also known as the Welsh Mountain Pony, is small at an average height of 12 hands high and smaller. As the name suggests, the Welsh Mountain Pony was found roaming the mountains of Wales. They have tough hooves developed from climbing mountains, strong hindquarters, a short back, a crested neck, and a small head with large eyes and tiny pointed ears. Because of their small size and gentle nature, they is used for therapy riding and for small children.

 Section B is known as the Welsh Pony. They are similar to the Mountain Pony, though they are slighter bigger at a maximum of 13.2 hands high. Today, the Welsh Pony is used as a children's mount in hunter classes and driving.

 The Section C Welsh Pony of Cob Type is strong and sturdy, yet small at a maximum height of 13.2 hands high. Their hindquarters and shoulders are muscular, and their refined head is carried on a high-set arched neck. Today, the Welsh Pony of Cob Type is valued as a driving horse, as well as a hunter, jumper, and trekking horse.

 The Section D Welsh Cob is the tallest of the breed, standing at any height taller than 13.2 hands high. They are stockier than the Section C, with muscled hindquarters and shoulders, a high-set neck, and a pretty head.  The Welsh Cob's legs have a little bit of feathering on them. Aside from being a competitive carriage horse, the Welsh Cob can do well in hunter classes and eventing.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bucking Horse(First Fall)

 I woke up bright and early to go to the barn and have my lesson. I was going to be Ginger's first rider that day, so she would be fresh and ready for me to ride her. After grabbing her, brushing her off, and tacking her, I led her to the arena to begin my ride.

 I started by warming up with walk-halt transition as a rode around the perimeter of the arena. Then, I brought her nearby the entrance, where a set of four walk poles had been placed. Four trot poles lay at a 90 degree angle to them, along the short end of the arena, so I'd be able to circle over them. I started by circling to the right, walking the whole way and passing around the trot poles. Then, I trotted the circle, including the trot poles, walking only when I reached the set of walk poles. Going over the trot poles was a little bouncy at first, but as I became in rhythm with the trot and focused on keeping my hands forward so I don't sent contradicting cues, I went over them much more smoothly. I did this for a bit before making a U-turn after going over the walk poles so I could change directions.

I begin tracking to the left. Things were going fine until I reached the trot poles. Suddenly, at the last pole, Ginger made a small leap and began bucking. I lost control of her, and the next thing I knew I was tumbling over her left shoulder, landing on my butt and left elbow. I found myself facing Ginger. I scrambled to my feet grab her while Meghan came over to check if I was okay. I hadn't been hurt, and wanted to continue riding, so brushed myself off and led her to the purple mounting block by the gate. I remounted, then went over the walk poles, turned around, and began the circle again, still going to the left.

 Meghan explained to me that when I am on a bucking horse, I need to make a choice not to fall off. She also told me that if Ginger bucks again, I should turn her in one direction to stop her from bucking.

 The rest of the lesson continued without incident. I tracked to the left, trying to stay in rhythm with Ginger when she went over the trot poles. I changed direction one last time after that before walking her around the around on a loose rein to cool her done. There had been a few times throughout the lesson when my rhythm riding the trot poles had been really great. I'm looking forward to doing it again.

 I'm not sure why Ginger had bucked. Perhaps she did it because she had spooked, or maybe of was out of habit. Meghan said that Ginger occasionally bucks to test a rider. If she does it again, I'll be prepared. I'm working working on editing the video Mom took, so hopefully I can get it up soon. The bucking one will probably be its own video.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Red Mare

 After several cancelled lessons from the rain here in California in recent weeks, which flooded the arena, and a show last weekend, I was able to have another lesson. When I arrived, Meghan was finishing up a lesson with another a girl and Ginger. She finished, and told me that would be riding Ginger, which excited me. I waited a few minutes, and Ginger was untacked and groomed so she could catch her breath before my lessons. When the other girl was done, I entered the barn and found Ginger in the cross-ties. I brushed her, picked her hooves, put her her dressage saddle and bridle on. Then I led her to the arena to begin my lesson.

 Because Ginger had just had a lesson, I didn't need to work much on warming her up. I walked a large circle around four ground poles, which no longer sectioned off a part of the arena for dressage. When I was ready trot, I realized some major differences between Ginger and Reno. She didn't trot after I asked, partly because she was tired, and partly because she sometimes needs extra encouragement to moved at a faster pace. It took a few minutes of clucking and squeezing to get her to trot. Also, every time I lost my balance when posting, Ginger would automatically go to walk, and I had to spend a few minutes to get her to trot again. In a way, it's good that she's so caring about her rider, a trait that makes her a great therapy horse. On the other hand, every time I make a mistake, I have to start over. Of course that makes me more aware of how I ride.

 After doing a few circles around the poles, I started to use them in my trot circle, trotting over them when I reached them. The first time Ginger stumbled, which I learned form Meghan was because I had been looking down. I was better the next time, but I on the wring diagonal, making it harder for Ginger trot over them. By the end of the lesson I better at trotting over the poles. My posting was so good from a few weeks off, but after a few more lessons I will be better.

After the lesson put Ginger in the grooming stall, which had hay in it. Of course, Ginger turn around and tried to eat it after I had unbridled her and was about to put on her halter. She managed to snatch a small bit before I had haltered her and hook her in the cross-ties. I then brushed her off and brought her to her covered outdoor stall. After taking off her halter and latching the gate, I said hi to her neighbor, Mo, as well as Reno, who looked tired.

 I'm going to be riding Ginger as my regular mount now and will soon start to get to know her better. She's a really sweet mare, though Meghan says she sometimes has "red head mare moments." I'm looking forward to riding her again. I'll have a lesson tomorrow and will be her first rider of the day. I can't wait!

Friday, March 14, 2014


In the early 18th century in Prussia, King Friedrich Wilhelm I began a breeding operation in which he hoped to create cavalry horses that were fast, strong, full of endurance, and able to withstnad harsh conditions. Additionally, the horse had to be pretty because his officers would be riding them. In 1732, he gathered his best cavalry horses and brought them to the royal stud farm called Trakehnen. These horses were carefully bred to produce the best horse possible. During the early 19th century, Thoroughbreds and Arabians were added to the breed, further refining it. The finished product was called the Trakehner, after the farm it was bred in.

 By the 20th century, the Trakehner had become extremely popular as a successful sport horse, with lots of them living throughout Prussia. When World War I broke out, though, the population of Trakehners took a huge blow and was almost halved. Breeders were able increase the Trakehner's numbers through careful breeding, but many were once again lost toward the end of World War II, when Russians invaded Prussia. Only about 100 Trakehners were left. Despite their small numbers, dedicated breeders worked hard until the Trakehners gained the popularity it has today, with registries in multiple countries.

 Trakehners came to American in the 1960s, and gained popularity throughout the country. In 1974, the American Trakehner Association was founded, bringing together Trakehner fans throughout the country.
Trakehners excel at dressage. credit

Breed Description and Uses
 The Trakehner is a light, refined warmblood breed, standing an average of 15.3 to 16.3 hands high, with long legs, rounded hindquarters, sloping shoulders, and a long neck. Its face is slightly dished, something inherited from the Arabian.

 Though they can perform in jumping and eventing, Trakehners are prized as dressage mounts because of their graceful way of going.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lone Oak Rescue

 I forgot to write about this earlier, but last week I went to a local horse rescue just to check it out. There were several horses there, many of which had once been handled incorrectly and sent to the auction. That's when the Lone Oak rescue came. They purchased some the horses in hopes of rehoming them. I got to help out a bit, mucking a stall and even working with a pretty bay head-shy filly(about two I think) named Serene.  She was supposedly halter broke, but Patricia, who volunteered there, soon found that the horse was actually scared of having a halter on. I worked on desensitizing her face by stroking it.

 Later, I got to ride a cream colored Missouri Fox Trotter stallion(I think his name was Ardinis)for a few minutes. I was riding in a Western saddle and a hackamore, which I was not used to. Everything was just so different from English riding. The tack was different, and I didn't get the same feel of the horse as I do in an English saddle. It was a fun experience, though, because I got to try out the fox-trot---a smooth trot---before getting off.

 Earlier today, I returned to the rescue to help out by mucking a few stalls and grooming a fluffy chestnut gelding named Teddy. I used a rope halter for the first time and helped his fluffy winter coat to shed out using a shedding blade. His hair came out in large tufts. When I was done, his coat was less fluffy, but he is not quite done shedding yet. Hopefully I can get out there again some time.


 The Thoroughbred was originally developed as a racehorse in England in the 17th century. Oriental stallions, the most influential being Darley Arabians, Godolphin Barbs, and Byerly Turks, were bred with native English mares. One of the most important early Thoroughbred stallions was Eclipse, from the Darley Arabian line. As an undefeated early racehorse, he had a huge influence on the Thoroughbreds of today. In fact, about 90% of Thoroughbreds can trace their line back to Eclipse and the Darley Arabian.

By the 18th century, horse racing had become very popular, and was considered the "sport of kings" because it was watched mostly by royalty. Thoroughbreds were selectively bred both as flat racers and steeplechasers in the England. Originally, races were much longer than they are today---about four miles---but this later changed to the shorter, mile long races that are now seen. With this change came an increased need for faster, younger horses rather than those better suited for longer distances.
Thoroughbreds, particularly the ex-racers, are commonly used in eventing.

 The first Thoroughbred arrived in America in 1730, and before long horse racing became popular in the United States as well. Today, Kentucky is the hub of Thoroughbred breeding, though California and New York breed a lot of them as well.

Breed Description and Uses
 Thoroughbreds are a tall breed, averaging around 16 hands high or taller, with long legs that give them ground-covering strides. They have sloping shoulders and prominent withers. Their neck is long and thin and their face has a straight profile. All in all, centuries of selective breeding has made the Thoroughbred into a runner. Chestnut, black, grey, and various shades of bay are the colors Thoroughbreds come in.

 Other than racing, Thoroughbreds are used for show jumping, dressage, and eventing, the latter of which is common in OTTBs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Overview to Complementary/Alternative Therapy

 The term complementary/alternative therapies refers to holistic methods of healing that differ from that a regular veterinarian does. It includes massage, acupressure, acupuncture, and aromatherapy. While these therapies should not entirely replace veterinarian care, especially in serious situations, they can be used in conjunction with it. For example, you can use massage therapy when your horse is injured in addition to have your vet come out.

 Acupressure and Acupuncture
 Acupressure is a form of therapy used in traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that an energy flow, called the chi, runs along channels(meridians), through every person and animal, giving them balance and health. When this energy flow is blocked somehow, a health problem occurs. To fix this, a person must apply pressure on certain points along the meridians, depending on the health problem, to continue the flow of energy. Acupuncture works the same way, except small needles are used. According to the Illustrated Guide to Holistic Care for Horses, by Denise Bean-Raymond, both therapies have several benefits. Among these are a strengthened immune system, and increased blood flow, and reduced inflammation. If your horse has a disease or a fever, the veterinarian should be called to care for him. Also, do not perform acupressure/acupuncture until at least few after your horse has eaten and when he is completely cooled down from any recent exercise.

 Aromatherapy uses extracts, called essential oils, from various beneficial plants, including lavender, chamomile, wintergreen, and clove, to benefit both physical and mental health. Some are very potent and should not be applied directly to skin, while others can safely by applied topically. Horses will often show that they need a certain oil by perking up their ears when they smell it, or pinning their ears if they do not need the oil at the time. You should only use pure, therapeutic grade essentials because the cheaper kinds may be diluted with harmful chemicals. It may be more expensive the buy therapeutic grade oils, but you can save money in the long run since they are more beneficial and do not have the chemicals others might have. If you would like to learn more about essential oils and using them for your horse, email me at

Massages are something most of you are probably familiar with. Someone giving a massage will rub and knead the person's muscles, reducing discomfort and increasing blood flow. The same thing works in horses. Equine massage therapies work with their patients to relieve muscle tension and pain, cause the horse to become more relaxed and ready to learn, and prevent injuries. Massaging your own horse is also a way to bond. When combining it with essential oils, you can increased benefit from both the oils and the massage(see Raindrop Technique 1, 2).

 Although stretching isn't an alternative therapy, it does have its benefits. It causes muscles to become more supple, elastic, and flexible, preventing many injuries. Remember to never stretch a cold muscle. Stretching should be done after your horse warms up since stretching a cold muscle can cause it to become injured. Also remember not to strain the muscle too much when stretching it, gently lifting and stretching it. Hold it for a short amount of time at first(about 5 seconds) and over several days work your way up to about 15 seconds. If you horse seems agitated about you stretching a certain body part, release it.

 These therapies can be beneficial, if done correctly. Remember that they are not meant to replace veterinarian, so if your horse becomes sick or injured, call you vet before attempting any of these therapies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Zenyatta Part 2(2009-2010)

  After a successful season in which she went undefeated, Zenyatta was awarded the Eclipse Award for being the top older female of 2008, and was voted as the runner-up for the American Horse of the Year award.

 On May 23, 2009, Zenyatta began another season of racing with the Milady Handicap, a race she had entered the previous year, at Hollywood Park. Because she was fast, she carried 126 pounds. She and a horse from her own stable, Life is Sweet, battled down the homestretch, with Zenyatta coming first by 1 3/4 lengths. Next, she entered the Vanity Handicap on June 27. Despite her burden of 129 pounds, over ten pounds more than her opponents, Zenyatta came first by 2 1/2 lengths.

 After her two handicap races, Zenyatta moved on to race in a stakes race, the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, on August 9. With just a furlong left, she was four lengths behind the first place horse, Anabaa's Creation. She used one last burst of energy to catch up with the other horse, winning by only head.

 Next, she entered the Lady's Secret Stakes for the second yeard in a row, on October 10. After she defeated every other horse on the track, her trainer decided to enter the horse in the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 7. She would be racing against many champion racehorses. During the race, Zenyatta galloped down the racetrack, defeating champions such as 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird,  Rip van Winkle, 2009 Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird, and Champion Older Male Gio Ponti. She came in first place over Gio Ponti by a length, making her the first female to win the Breeders' Cup Classic.

 At the beginning of 2010, she was awarded the Eclipse Award for top Older Female of 2009 and was runner-up to Rachel Alexandra for Horse of the Year honor. Though everyone was told that she would be retiring, Zenyatta continued her career through the season of 2010, beginning with a victory at the Santa Margarita Invitational at Santa Anita on March 13. She had weaved through the pack of horses, passing them mid-way through the homestretch.

 Next, on April 9, she entered the Apple Blossom Invitational, where it was planned she would race against the champion Rachel Alexandra. However, Alexandra didn't enter because of a recent loss, and Zenyatta went on to defeat the other horses.

 On June 13, Zenyatta won her 17th consecutive race, the Vanity Handicap, with 129 pounds on her back, breaking both Cigar's and Citation's records of consecutive races won. Next, she won the Clement L. Hirsch  Stakes on August 7 and the Lady's Secret Stakes on October 2. At that point, she had gone undefeated in all her nineteen races. However, that ended when she entered the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 6. She fell far behind the leader, Blame, demonstrating the Thoroughbred heart when she ran her fastest to catch up, losing only by a head.

 That year, she once again earned the Eclipse Award for top Older Female, also earning the Horse of the Year award for 2010 and the Secretariat Vox Populi Award. She also is noted as the first female to win the Vanity Handicap, the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, and the Lady's Secret Stakes for three years in a row. She is considered one of the greatest female racehorses.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Zenyatta, Part 1(2007-2008)

 On April 1st, 2004, a beautiful dark bay filly, born out of Vertigineux with the sire Steet Cry, was born on Don Robinson's Winter Quarter Farm in Kentucky. As a yearling, she was sold to Jerry and Ann Moss for $60,000. They named her Zenyatta, after an album by The Police. Her trainer was John Shirreffs.

 Zenyatta began her racing career much later than most horses, racing her first race toward the end of her three-year-old season. Her first race was the Maiden Special Weight at Hollywood Park, a short 6 1/2 furlongs race, which took place on November 22nd of 2007. The tall, 17.2 hand three-year-old, ridden by David Flores, galloped down the stretch to win by three lengths. On December 15, the two won the 1 1/6 mile long Allowance race by 3 1/2 lengths.

 On January 13, 2008, Zenyatta ran her first graded stakes race, the 1 1/6 mile Grade 2 El Enico Stakes at Santa Anita. She won in the record time of 1:40.61. Next, on April 5, she entered the Grade 1 Apple Blossoms Handicap, a race open for mares four years old and older. Zenyatta was ridden by Mike Smith in this race, defeating older champions with a lead of 4 1/2 lengths. Afterward, she returned to Hollywood Park to win the Grade 2 Milady Handicap on May 31 and the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap on July 5. Then, she won the Grade 2 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap on August 2, setting a track record of 1:41.48.

 Next, on September 27, entered the Grade 1 Lady's Secret Stakes at Santa Anita, where she incredibly ran each quarter mile faster than the previous one, setting a 1 1/6 mile stake record of 1:40.30. She then became a favorite for the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.
Zenyatta in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic credit

 Her last race of that season, the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic on October 24, began with Zenyatta in last place. Then, she came from behind and passed every horse on the track to finsish in first place. At the time, Zenyatta had gone undefeated in the first nine races of her racing career.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Suffolk Punch Heavy Horse

 In the 1600s, after swamps in southeastern England were drained, residents needed a horse to work the land, which they found was ideal for growing crops. They wanted a strong breed and an easy keeper with a kind, calm temperament. No is quite sure which breeds of horses were used when breeding, though some believe that the Belgian draft and the Norfolk Cob, Roadster, or Trotter could have been used.
Suffolk Punches always come in chestnut, as pictured above.

 In 1768, a stallion the would have a big impact on the breed was born. He was a small chestnut that was never named, and was owned by a man named Thomas Crisp. All Suffolks can be traced back to Crisp's horses and share his chestnut coloring.

 The Suffolk Punch was a very popular breed at one time, but after World War II, when machines replaced horses, the number of Suffolk Punches took a steep drop. Before long, the breed had become near extinction. When people realized just how threatened the breed was, they began to take action and started breeding more Suffolks. Even today, however, the number is still low.

Breed Description and Uses
 Suffolk Punches stand an average of 16.1 to 17.1 hands high, and are stocky with a huge girth, short legs, and low-set shoulders, attributes that contribute to their ability to haul heavy loads. All Suffolk Punches are chestnut, though differnet shades can be found, ranging from a light chestnut to a dark chestnut.

 Since they mature early, they can begin working by three years of age. Most often, they are used for pulling wagons at museums of by people who own small farms.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


 In 1920, Ruy d'Andrade, a Portuguese scientist, discovered a breed of horse nearby the Sorraia River. Exploring the area further, he found ancient cave paintings and bones that resembled the newly discovered horses, which proved that those horses like them have be around for thousands of years.
Sorraia credit

 Scientists believe that the Sorraia, named for the river they were found near, is related to the African Barb. Some of the ancient horse's ancestors could have travelled from Africa to Spain. Today, such horses are spread across Portugal and Spain, though only about 200 are found worldwide, most of which are owned privately and no longer run free. Only a few herds are found in the wild, one being the herd in Sorraia Horse Natural Reserve in Portugal.

Breed Description and Uses
 The Sorraia, though not a pony, is small and compact at an average of 13 to 15 hands, and have sloping hindquarters. Much like the Tarpan, an ancient breed, they can only be found in grulla and dun, and are born with zebra stripes on their body. Their profile is usually convex.

 Sorraias are often used as dressage horses or as ranch mounts.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


 The Skyrian, said to be similar to prehistoric horses, is thought to have arrived to its home on the Greek island of Skyros with Athenian colonists, not changing much since then due to its isolation form the rest of the world. Residents once used the ponies for harvesting grain, pulling carts, and as riding ponies. This continued until the 1950s, when people on the island began using machines to harvest their grain, rather than horses. Before long, horses were obsolete and were replaced with goats and sheep. The number of Skyrians plummeted, reaching 121 by 1993.

 By that time, people finally began to take notice of the Skyrians' plight, and a law was made to prevent Skyrians from leaving the island. Those interested in the breed started the SIlva Project, a breeding project to help the breed. Despite their best efforts, the number of Skyrians declined to 90 by 2004. As the situation is becoming more desperate, supporters of the breed want the law prohibiting them from exporting the ponies to be lifted in hopes that they can establish a breeding operation on the mainland of Greece.

Breed Description and Uses
 The Skyrian resembles an Exmoor Pony, though the former is much smaller at only 10 hands high. They have hardy hooves, a slender body, a narrow chest, a short and thin neck, and a slightly convex profile. Skyrians are usually bay with lighter, faw-colored hair along the muzzle, eyes, and the inside of the legs.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Spring Grass Cautions

 When spring comes, and the pastures are full of lush, green grass, it may be tempting to let your horse graze on fresh grass for the first time since before winter. After all, spring grass can provide your horse many of the nitrients he needs. However, the same grass can cause problems as well, such as obesity, intestinal upset, and laminitis. This is because domestic horses, unlike wild or feral horses, do not have graze over large areas of land to get enough eat. Most can stand almost in place all day. Furthermore, spring grass is full of sugars, protiens, and quickly fermented carbohydrates, unlike hay. Managing the time your horse spends grazing can prevent these such problems.

 After eating only hay and possibly feed or grain all winter, any horse much be eager to feast on all the verdant grass covering their pasture. In fact, they may get too eager, eating way to much grass and even becoming overweight, a problem for horses who are just getting used to fresh green grass after a long winter.    This affects the horse's overall health. Fortunately, this can be prevented by limiting your horse's intake of grass.

Intestinal Upset
 Unlike hay, young grass has lots of sugar, protien, and quickly fermented carbohydrates, a change that can cause problems in the intestinal tract if done too quickly. Signs include softer manure than normal, and in more severe cases, bloating, diarrhea, and colic. In the most extreme cases, the bowel wall may be damaged and laminits may result. This too can be prevented by limiting your horse's grass intake.

 The most serious problem that is influenced by overeating of spring grass is laminitis, an ailment caused by eating grass high in nonstructural carbohydrates, such as fructan, sugar, and starch. Horses with insulin resistance tend to be prone to laminitis, yet any horse is at risk. Most commonly, horses get lamintis when it is dry or cold.

Limiting your horse's grass intake early in spring, gradually increasing it to the desired amount, is the best way to prevent these ailments. Start with only letting your horse graze for small amounts of time, gradually increasing it.