The Small Issues
Be Observant for the ‘Little’ Things…
Often people tend to put ‘little things’ down to the horse’s temperament, him being ‘quirky’, or think ‘it is just the way he IS’, without realising they are signs that the horse isn’t quite ‘right’ and can be rectified.
• Being a bit grouchy when doing up cover straps, front and back
• Being difficult to clip
• Not growing a full tail
• Scurfy coat
• Wood chewing
• Mares being ‘marish’ or hormonal
• Mares not cycling properly affecting conception
• Being ‘footy’ on hard ground or when walking over stones
• Being ‘reactive’ instead of ‘responsive’
• Objecting to even the lightest of leg aids, kicking out
• Being overly sensitive
• Ongoing saddle fitting problems
• Objecting to body work or saddle fitting
• Not tracking up at trot or stepping under at canter (back legs together)
• One step forwards – two steps back with training
• Touchy around the head/ears, chest, girth and withers
• Liquid dribble with manure (FWS – Faecal Water Syndrome)
• Flicking head when riding through long grass – people think it is ‘grass moths’
• Frequent nose rubbing
• OK at home but not so good when elsewhere
• Sweating with little or no exertion or in the trailer
• Tight muscles
• Tendency to hollow out and difficulty with bending
• ‘Snatching’ feet with trimmer/farrier
• Toe Dragging/slight knuckling over
The list goes on, (feel free to add).
Some of these are health issues nothing to do with being ridden but all are really signs that your horse is not at ‘square one’. You are starting your ride/training session with a handicap.
You may be thinking that you can ‘work through’ or ‘train out’ something that is actually ‘chemistry’ issue rather than a ‘training’ one. How much better the experience when the horse is physically and mentally starting from a better place.
How do we know?
Because we have been there, done that and got the T-Shirt having spent many hours over the years doing just that, until we developed an understanding of what was actually going on.
Now we place a big emphasis on getting the horse to a good place from which to start.
The following ways are common methods people apply. They may work in the short term but the issues always seem to come back and can often become ‘big things’ unless addressed.
• The ‘ignore and it might go away’
• ‘It’s just the way he is’ so you put up with it
• ‘Needs more work’ (wet saddle blanket)
• Spend an amount of time desensitising, doing ground work or lunging which is disproportionate to that expected to achieve what should be simple tasks
• More lessons with different trainers
• Add more ‘training’ gadgets (draw reins, martingales, leverage bits etc)
• Become confused about what to do with so much conflicting advice
There is no ‘one size fits all answer’ but products such as GrazeEzy, AlleviateC/SOS and now, the new Alleviate Gold are akin to ‘tools of the trade’.
Check the following:
• That hay is 100% clover free
• There is no lucerne/alfalfa in any of the hay/products you are feeding
• That you are feeding enough salt (for av sized hack, at least 1 Tbsp per feed twice a day)
Some issues go away just by making these simple changes.
As there is such a variation in individual horses/circumstances, there is no one size fits all answer.
Please PM us for help with dietary changes, and which products to use in your situation.
The lovely OTT thoroughbred horse in the video arrived at Cathy’s a month ago with an array of ‘little’ things such as wood chewing,, wind sucking, being ‘reactive’, generally weak, not tracking up and hence dragging his toes as you see here. His hind hooves are 'bull nosed' as a consequence.
2 months in and Marshal is looking a lot stronger.
He very rarely wind sucks, having been a chronic windsucker and all fence chewing has stopped altogether.
DO YOU HEAR YOURSELF SAYING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING…
• ‘HE’S ALWAYS BEEN LIKE THIS’
*Yes but that doesn’t mean it is his true self, it means, in essence that he’s always been on the ‘wrong forage’ (too high proportion of short or lush green grasses/clovers/added lucerne
• ‘HIS SIRE/DAM WAS LIKE THAT’
*They spent their life on less than ideal pasture too.
• ‘ALL THE OTHER HORSES ARE FINE’
*Yes but are they really? Many people attribute ‘quirks, idiosyncrasies, sensitivities, personality traits, bolshiness, spookiness, wariness etc to 'temperament' and the way they were brought up and don’t realise how much better they can be with some adjustments to diet.
Other horses can be fine for years, but most eventually do reach ‘tipping point’. Their metabolism can only cope for so long.
• ‘SHE’S JUST A TYPICAL MARE’
*When you remove all the legumes; especially clover and lucerne, out of the diet you will hardly notice your mare coming in to season. They can be just as 'even tempered' as geldings.
• ‘HE’S A RIGHT BRAINED EXTROVERT’
*’RB Extroverts’ are really just Grass Affected Horses
• ‘HE MUST BE ALLERGIC TO POLLEN’
*Allergies are a secondary outward effect of internal metabolic disturbances
• ‘HE JUST EXPLODED OUT OF THE BLUE’
*In actual fact there would have been a lot of small signs that were missed
• ‘HE’S NOT ON ANY GRASS’
*Yet his living area looks green....
• ‘HE HAS ULCERS’
*He may well do but the same lifestyle changes are necessary
• ‘HE’S JUST BEING NAUGHTY’
*Horses are never ‘naughty’, they are just trying to tell you something. We like Dr Deb’s saying - "There’s no such thing as resistance, only the desperate need for communication!"
• ‘HE NEEDS TO GO TO THE TRAINER’
*Not while he is grass-affected – when his brain and nervous system are not functioning normally he is not in a learning frame of mind, it puts the trainer at risk and it is not fair on the horse
• ‘I CAN’T LOCK HIM UP BECAUSE HE LIKES HIS FREEDOM TOO MUCH’
*The idea is to create a ‘living environment’ that allows the horses a wonderful life where they always have company and can make their own choices of shade and shelter and that is big enough for freedom of movement – room to run and play, lie down and roll. See tracks and dry lots...
• ‘I CAN’T TAKE HIM OFF GRASS BECAUSE HE WON’T EAT HAY’
*The transition ideally takes 1-2 weeks over which time they settle and their taste changes
• ‘THIS IS THE SAME DIET HIS PREVIOUS OWNER HAD HIM ON’
*His metabolism, which was coping before, can no longer cope – he has reached the ‘tipping point’. If you don’t make changes now you won’t get any improvement.
• ‘HE JUST NEEDS MORE WORK (WET SADDLE BLANKET)’
*Only true when it’s a case of using up excess energy – when horses are ‘Grass Affected’ they become worse with exercise and some will keep going until they drop
• ‘I FED GRAZEEZY (OR SOME OTHER SUPPLEMENT) AND IT DIDN’T WORK’
*It’s not a matter of adding a ‘magic bullet’ supplement – the total diet needs to be examined, there may be items in the diet that need to be eliminated eg: Lucerne and clover, to enable that supplement to work.
It is as much about taking things out of the diet as it is adding things in.
• ‘I GAVE HIM A TOXIN BINDER AND IT MADE NO DIFFERENCE’
*That tells you it is not the mycotoxins that are causing the problem, the next most likely cause is mineral imbalances