Water and Salt – hot items

From Utah to Iowa to Maine and all points in between, it’s been a warm summer. Some weeks in some states have been downright hot.
shHydration for you AND your horse is key.
So is salt intake.

I like tortilla chips myself.
My horses like Redmond Rock.

It’s from salt mines in Utah, not from Pakistan (where they mine the popular Himalayan salt) or from some factory where it’s processed synthetically.

Dr. Rachel Flaherty of Maine Equine Associates told me horses in light work need 1-2 ounces of salt daily. When it’s hot and humid and they’re sweating a lot, they need twice as much or even more.
You can dose your horses by giving them an allotment every day, Flaherty said. “But it’s still good to offer a free choice salt source of some type. And always provide plenty of water when supplementing.”
I prefer free choice with no dosing. It lets the horse choose how much salt it wants and means they rely less on a human’s somewhat arbitrary measure.

Another note about salt:

Many companies make “trace mineral” salt blocks for horses. They may include calcium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, selenium, and REDMOND_ROCK_WEB_READY_2magnesium. They appear in much smaller quantities than sodium, but can still be important, especially if horses aren’t getting them from grass or hay. (Intense farming and fertilizing has depleted many fields of these minerals.)  Redmond tests its salt quarterly (something the Himalayan importers don’t do) and posts the guaranteed analysis here.
Joe Camp gives his horses free choice alright, but doesn’t like salt blocks or rocks or anything they actually have to lick. They get granulated natural salt. (Redmond has that, too.) Read more here.

Confessions of a bad rider

My name is Maddy.
And I own a bolting horse.
The first time we met, she tossed me. The second time, she tossed me, too.
peppI love her dearly, but after those experiences, I stopped riding her. For several months, she was the one left behind.

This mare – so full of life, so willing to go – was another one of those supposed “lost causes” referred to in the recent article on Bolting.

Then, I got help.
My significant other, Steve Peters, suggested I direct her instead of pulling back on both reins.
So simple.

But resisting the impulse to restrain-through-reins is harder than it sounds. It involves detangling muscle-memory and mental habits long ingrained over years of novice riding.

After reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I know why it’s so hard: you literally have to bypass old neural pathways and create new ones in your brain.

While my horse’s auto-response to anything peripherally scary was movement, my response to her response was constraint.

This had to stop.

I learned to relax and hold on. I learned to steer instead of trying to shut her down. We connected. My cues and our rapport got good enough for us to move from a snaffle to a bosal.

As I so often realize: the problem was with me, not her. I needed more skill and more confidence to go with it. (Again, simpler than it sounds.)

My name is Maddy.
And I’m getting better.

This Bug Dope is a God-Send, she says

Marsha Craig and her miniature horse, Lily, have provided hundreds of therapy hours to folks in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools. Read more here.
lily part ii

But they spend most of their hours outside, at their home in Massachusetts.

Bugs are a problem there.
Or, at least they used to be.
After my Bug Dope Despair blogpost, Craig wrote to give props to Iguana Oil. Like many of us, she tried just about everything.

I live in an area called Hockomock Swamp, in other words –  Bug Haven!  The Hockomock Swamp is the largest freshwater swamp in Massachusetts.  It comprises almost 17,000 acres spread across parts of Easton, Bridgewater, Norton, Raynham, Taunton, and West Bridgewater.
I groom Lily in the morning and many hours later it’s a relief to see her relaxed, content with no foot stomping or tail swooshing.  Daily I take Lily for a main_banner2walk down the street and as I pass my neighbors three minis, I feel so sorry for them as they swing their heads, always stomping their legs and constant tail in motion.  They get sprayed every day but you couldn’t prove it watching them.
Jack and I have never been able to work outside for any length of time or go beyond our field into the woods (where our muck pile sits) without being bombarded and bitten by all forms of bugs.
marchaIguana Oil has been a god-send for us.  The bugs may hover, but they have never land and that means no bites.  And I have to be honest, if we forget to oil up in the house and we’re near the barn, yes, we use the equine spray and results are as positive as they are for Lily.
Everyone comments on how great our animals smell (horse and dog are registered therapy animals and smell is important).  The birds, hummers, nothing near the barn or animals seem to be impacted negatively.  Won’t use anything else and believe with all my heart it is 100 percent safe.

BestHorsePractices tried it, spraying it liberally and wiping it on five equine faces. Then I watched the horses stomp hooves, swish tails, and seek the barn for fly relief just as much as they did before applying it.


It smells lovely, though. And seems like it’ll be great for their coats.

And the ingredients are great: aloe vera, coconut oil, jojoba, patchouli, rosemary, cedar wood, neem, thyme, lemon eucalyptus, clove bud, geranium, peppermint, juniper, olive oil.

swatIn considering all these products, I realized there is ONE which seems to be effective for a specific use: SWAT, an ointment for minor wounds and abrasions that has a fly repellant component. It wears off in a day, but most often, that gives the horse enough protection and relief from something like a cinch rub.


Vet reflects on tornado


More than a month after an EF-5 tornado ripped apart Moore, Oklahoma, Dr. Clayton McCook paused to reflect on the damage, the recovery, and the prospects.
mccookEF-5 is a Level 5 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale; it is the highest level, with “incredible” damage and winds over 200 miles per hour.

McCook, an Oklahoma resident and Texas native, told me that from his observations and experience nothing above ground can survive an EF-5.

“The only people who survived were underground,” he said.
His acquaintance saw 12 horses pulled up into the sky, like so many plastic grocery bags.
“He told me the cloud sucked them up into the air,” said McCook.

Short of building an underground equine bunker or evacuating instantaneously, McCook said there’s not a lot one can do aside from attaching contact information to them (microchipping, paint, safety halter).

Read more on disaster tips here.

Some horses got lucky as the tornado skirted their pastures. Dozens are still hospitalized or in foster care.

As many Moore horse owners had their homes reduced to concrete slabs, they may never be in a position to take back their large animals.
McCook and Dan Mullenix are developing the non-profit Oklahoma Livestock First Responder team. When the Moore tornado hit, OLFR rescued, treated, and transported scores of horses from devastated grounds to places like Heritage Park, a local racetrack which opened its doors to these newly homeless equines.

Read about their heroic efforts here.

Now, as recovery efforts proceed, some horses are feeling the impact of a new stress: confinement.

It can be hard on any horse to be in a stall, but those used to paddocks and fields struggle more. Blue, the mare in photo on right,

Blue, a mare injured in tornado, recovers but is starting to weave in her stall.

Blue, a mare injured in tornado, recovers but is starting to weave in her stall.

started weaving a few weeks ago.

“I told them, ‘We’ve got to get her out of here… These horses will need to move out of stalls,’” he said.

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