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Equine Dental Problems by Kera Froc

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 4, 2013 11:14

When horses begin to have behaviour problems the number one thing that we should be ruling out is pain. If the horse has never had an issue and all of a sudden it is tossing its head, rearing or even bucking there might be an underlying cause of pain that the horse is responding to. This does not just relate to teeth issues but any body pain in general.

Behaviour signs relating to teeth issues might include chewing the bit while being ridden, tossing or shaking their head, pulling on the bit (up/down or left/right), bridle resistance, rearing, unexplained shying around the head, extremely high/low head carriage, refusing, sticking the tongue out, holding their head to one side while eating, refusing to turn when pressure is applied to the bit, washing hay in water bucket before eating, refusing to eat hard feed, or pouching feed.

The horse might also show some clinical signs including dropping feed while eating, quidding, loss of weight, whole feed in manure, nasal or eye discharge, pouching feed, irregular mandibular movement, cheek sensitivity, colic or colic symptoms, excess saliva, halitosis, bleeding from the mouth, depression, sores in the mouth, face swelling and even choke.

We need to pay attention to these signs and conduct regular dental care for our horses every 6-12 months. By doing regular dental care we can reduce the amount of issues relating to tooth pain in our horses. You can check your own horses teeth but a veterinarian should routinely check and float your horses teeth.

Thermal imaging can be done on a horses' mouth to check for pain and inflammation:

This website has lots of good information including ways that you can check for pain and ways to see if regular wear on teeth is being performed (proper chewing motion):

This website shows some good pictures of some tooth issues and gives lots of signs:

A list of common dental problems can be found here:

Kera Froc
Facebook Group: Equine Tips

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Joint health requires broad spectrum therapeutic

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   April 26, 2012 06:22



Gayle Trotter has the “vet cred” and, coincidentally, a name that naturally makes one think “horses.” Dr. Gayle Trotter, DVM., MS., was a former professor and joint health researcher at Colorado State University.  He is also the developer of Myristol, a formula comprised of four major active ingredients that together are designed to treat and prevent joint disease in horses. 


According to Trotter, any equine athlete of any kind should be on a joint supplement in order to mitigate injury.  Joint involvement changes according to athletic involvement. For example, race horses will tend to have fetlock and front knee issues whereas roping, reigning or cutting horses may experience inflammation in other areas.  And just as different athletic activity presents different joint issues, breeding lines are predisposed differentially to joint issues as well. 


The Myristol formula is comprised of four active ingredients that have individually been shown benefit in supporting joint health: cetyl myristoleate fatty acid complex, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), glucosamine HCl, and hydrolyzed collagen.  Myristol was developed by Trotter (and colleagues) while he was tenured at Colorado State University. The product underwent a clinical trial in 2003 which tested the product’s efficacy.  Myristol, unlike many other joint formulations on the market, is well-researched, vet-approved and scientifically tested. 


Developing a scientifically sound, broad spectrum formulation was a priority for Trotter.  But so was affordability and palatability. Some animals appear to detect fatty acids in feed.  Horses, in particular, may turn their noses up at it.  Trotter’s equine formulation comes in the form of alfalfa pellets and they like it!  Trotter says that he has had tons of anecdotal feedback from users since the product came out on the market. Myristol has shown to have good results in dogs and cats with striking changes in as little as 72 hours. Trotter advises that results in horses will take a bit longer; from 2 weeks to a month in some cases. 


As part of the Myristol family of joint health products, formulations have been developed for dogs, cats and even humans.  For more information check out Trotter’s Myristol website at: www.myristol.com


_ _ _ _ _


Gayle Trotter is a member of the National Animal Council, an industry organization for supplement manufacturers in the United States.  He currently lives with his wife, Judy, in Weatherford, Texas where, in addition to marketing Myristol, he continues to practice veterinary medicine and to raise and ride cutting horses.

Article credit:

Camille (Cami) D. Ryan, B.Comm., Ph.D.

Departments of Plant Sciences & Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics

College of Agriculture and Bioresources

University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Canada

(306) 966-2929 (office) / (403) 809-2831 (cell)

Cami Ryan's Blog



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joint supplements

Biosecurity - Operational Management

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 21, 2011 06:16

Properly dispose of deadstock

Plan and control the disposal of carcasses according to municipal and provincial regulations. Carcasses should be disposed of in a timely manner.

Manage manure according to regulations

Plan and control manure management according to municipal and provincial regulations. Planning should include measures for collecting, storing, moving, and disposing of manure in ways that minimize the chance of spreading any disease organisms.

Keep the premises, buildings, equipment and vehicles clean

Buildings, equipment and vehicles should be cleaned regularly to prevent the introduction of disease and pests. Consider applying disinfectants when practical.

Maintain the facilities in a state of good repair

Maintain all facilities in a state of good repair so that your biosecurity plan can be effectively implemented.

This may include:

  • buildings and fences to prevent wildlife and people from entering the premises,
  • feed storage areas to prevent access by wildlife and vermin, and
  • laneways to allow for cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.

Obtain production inputs from a reliable source

Purchase production inputs such as feed and bedding from reliable sources. Ensure the water supply is free of contamination.

Control pests

Ensure a pest management program is in place to prevent the spread of disease.

Plan and train

Have a written biosecurity plan that is updated regularly. Ensure that employees receive proper training and training materials so they can continue to follow the plan.

 for more information http://www.inspection.gc.ca

Cold-weather Horse Care

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 25, 2011 09:14






Shirley and Jack Brodsky have bred and raised registered Paints on their 160-acre farm near Saskatoon, Sask., for nearly 20 years. That experience “in the field” has taught Shirley some valuable lessons about raising and caring for a large herd of multi-aged horses throughout the changing seasons.

               In the spring of 2009, Shirley took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about caring for older horses and about her feeding routines when temperatures drop. To read the article about Shirley’s 25-year-old broodmare Double Value (Val) and geriatric horse care, visit the Summer 2009 issue of Horse Health Lines.


Q. What’s your winter feeding regime for your horse herd?

With all of my horses, I try to follow what would be natural for them as closely as possible. I try to make sure the broodmares don’t get terribly fat: I don’t like to over-supplement them. They’re on unlimited hay all winter, and they run on an 80-acre pasture where they have shelter from the wind. They get salt, water, a supplement block every two weeks, and I sometimes feed them a little grain (whole oats) — but not all of the time. That’s about it. It’s not very fancy.


Q. How do you water your horses?

They have access to a heated water bowl all winter, and I feed them far from their water source so they have to come in to drink. That keeps the whole group active, and I think it’s good for digestion and social order. They definitely have a set pattern, and it’s the older mares that will decide when they go for water. They’ll bring in the whole herd for water and after they get their fill, they’ll linger for awhile. But if it’s windy, they’ll head back to the trees for shelter.


Q. What kind of shelter does your herd have during stormy winter weather?

I build a lot of wind shelters with large round straw bales. If the horses can get out of the wind and have lots to eat, they seem to do well — even during storms. I never blanket my horses: I don’t want to affect their winter hair coats. But if a horse’s hair coat isn’t thick enough for the weather, I might have to consider it.


Q. How do you prepare your horses for the winter? 

One thing I’ve learned from watching my herd is that all of the horses really want to load up on food in the fall. I think they’re instinctively trying to prepare for the winter by laying down a layer of fat before it gets too cold. I really try to ensure that the horses have all they can eat in the fall, because I hate to see older horses go into the winter on the thin side — they’re always behind and trying to catch up on their weight gain.

               Once the pastures start to burn off or if it’s dry, I’ll start hauling in hay. Depending on the weather, I may start feeding hay to the herd as early as August. For the first few bales, the horses eat as if they’ll never be fed again — but then they calm down when they realize that I’ll be bringing more.

               Again, I like to make the feeding transition easy so there are no health issues. The fall is often when colic cases occur because once the temperature drops, owners dump out large quantities of hay and their horses eat too much — leading to impaction.


Q. What kind of hay do you feed to your horses?

I feed them a mix of alfalfa, brome grass and a larger percentage of crested wheat. The hay is in large round bales that I unroll on the ground instead of putting them in round feeders. By doing that, I find that we don’t get as many respiratory problems plus we don’t get one or two dominant horses guarding the whole bale from others in the herd. The hay also tends to mix with the snow and take on some additional moisture. Plus, it allows the horses to eat more naturally — closer to how they regularly graze.

               The quantity really depends on the type of winter we’re having. The growing horses — the coming yearlings and two years olds — will eat as much as the pregnant mares. If it’s a long, cold winter, the herd will eat three times as much as they do during a mild winter. I always think of it being like stoking a furnace – you just keep throwing it in there.

               We try to give the horses the best quality hay that we can. Our hay is custom cut on our land, so our quality depends on the haying season from year to year. Sometimes, the weather doesn’t allow us to cut it when it’s ready and we end up with less than optimum hay. If the hay is marginal, I tend to supplement it with more grain.

               But truthfully, I think the horses do better on just plain old grass hay that may be more coarse. If they eat second-cut alfalfa — the rich, “dessert” type of hay — it just seems to go through them without producing much energy.


Q. The winter of 2008 was long and hard on some horses. What did you do to keep your herd healthy?

Toward the end of last winter, I started hauling oats out to the horses. I could tell that the older mares were feeling it because the cold went on so long. When we get in that situation, I do like to supplement them with grain plus beet pulp and some canola or corn oil — those are my favourite basic things. I soak the oats with beet pulp, oil and hot water: that just seems to give them a head start on digestion.


Q. Do you only supplement the older horses’ diet?

Everybody that runs together gets the same feed — young and old. When they have so much hair in the winter, it’s often hard to tell whether they’re losing weight, but I usually gauge it by the weather and their body score. After a few years, you get a sense of your animals’ condition and that’s the joy of having them around so long: you know when they’re doing well and you know when they’re not. 


Q. How long do you feed hay to your horses in the spring?

It depends. For instance, since this spring’s (Spring 2009) pasture wasn’t very good because of all the cold, they were getting hay as well. I give them free-choice hay until the pastures were good enough and they left the hay. That way, we never seem to get any serious health issues when horses move from eating hay to fresh grass. We’ve had a little bit of colic but not very much considering the number of horses that we’ve had over the years. It’s worked so far.


Q. What about horses that do too well on feed: do you ever run into problems with horses carrying too much weight?

Not with the older mares, but I do have a few youngsters that are getting heavy. One mare in particular gets too heavy on spring grass, so I need to watch her weight.

               If we are feeding grain to the herd, I feed them in a large circle instead of distributing the grain in a straight line or in corners. In this large of a herd, the dominant mare will push one and the whole circle will just continue to rotate. That helps to regulate how much feed each horse gets to eat.


Q. Do you still learn something new about your horses every year?

Oh, for sure. I’ve taken care of a herd for nearly 20 years, but I still feel pretty new at taking care of horses. I’ve worked closely with Dr. Sue Ashburner at the WCVM, and she got a lot of information for me from Dr. Frank Bristol — one of the WCVM’s retired professors who conducted equine behaviour research with large PMU (pregnant mares’ urine) herds. I also have different friends in the business who have been really good at answering my questions.

               The one thing I learned is that you can’t be pigheaded about dealing with horses — you have to be flexible and you have to think like a horse. Every year, we get groups of veterinary students and veterinary technology students coming out here to learn more about horse handling and safety. I always tell them, “Drive out of town and just find yourself a big group of horses. Because you can learn so much just by watching a group of horses living together.”

               Horses are herd animals that still operate on some really basic principles, and the problems start when we deviate away from that too much. I think we need to remind ourselves that we’re probably best to go back to what’s natural for them.


Reprinted with permission of Horse Health Lines, news publication for the Western College of Veterinary Medicine's Equine Health Research Fund. Sign up for the Horse Health Lines e-newsletter at www.ehrf.usask.ca.  






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cold weather horse care | General | geriatric horse care