Chew On This

Your horse presses his top teeth against a solid object (you know… the stall door, the bucket, the fence…), arches his neck, and swallows air in a rocking motion. A grunting or gulping noise emerges. This is cribbing. Its true cause is unknown but genetics along with stressful circumstances appear to be the underlying problems. 

Dr. Juliet Getty, an Equine Nutritionist and Author, tells us, “Early weaning can lead to this negative behavior later in adult horses and while there’s nothing you can do to change the past, you can take measures to reduce physical discomfort and mental strains that contribute to cribbing. Cribbing collars are tormenting. They may discourage the behavior but they do not relieve the urge.”

Managing your horse’s conditions will help lessen the behavior. Here are some suggestions:

  •  Provide freedom to graze and roam. This will have a remarkable effect on stopping this habit. If this is not feasible, give him as much outdoor space as possible.
  •  Keep hay in front of your horse. This one simple change will calm your horse’s demeanor.
  • Do not isolate your horse. Non-cribbers will not “catch” the cribbing habit by seeing another horse do it.
  • Consider ulcers. Stress, forage restriction, and stalling can lead to ulcers. Cribbing is often a result. Basic nutritional management to cure ulcers includes free-choice hay, water consumption, avoiding starchy feeds (such as oats and corn) and sweet feeds, and restoring microbial populations through probiotic use.

Hit the Road

As a horse owner, it’s likely that it will be necessary to trailer your horse at one time or another. Whether it’s a short distance to nearby trails or several hours’ drive to a competition, with a bit of care and attention, you can safely get your horse to where you’re going and minimize the possibility of any mishaps or undue stress.

rfa180While it’s just common sense to ensure that your horse has been trained to load and unload safely and in a calm manner well in advance, proper planning ahead for any trip can ensure that the entire transportation process goes smoothly and is safe for both horse and handler.

“No matter the distance, trip planning is the key to successful journeys, including knowing the weather conditions, road construction, etc.,” says Penny Lawlis, Humane Standards Officer with the Animal Health and Welfare Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) in Guelph, Ontario. Lawlis also currently sits on the National Farm Animal Care Council and teaches a graduate level course in practical animal welfare assessment for the University of Guelph.

When transporting a horse, it’s important to plan out the route ahead of time, avoiding peak times in busy areas to avoid sitting in traffic. One should also be aware of any possible inclement weather. If the weather could make driving difficult, reschedule the trip for another day.

Lawlis also stresses the importance of trailering only when the horse is healthy. “One of the issues we encounter frequently is animals [including horses] that are loaded and transported when they are not fit to be transported,” she says. “Unfit horses must not be loaded unless they are being shipped on the advice of a veterinarian to a vet hospital for treatment. Compromised horses should not be transported mixed in with fit horses in the same compartment.”

Learn to assess your horse for health and fitness before trailering. Check and record your horse’s vital signs, such as temperature, respiration and pulse, as well as how much it drinks ahead of time. This provides important personal information as to what is normal for your horse and will assist in spotting any problems on the day of travel and upon arrival. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian.

Trailer Basics The type of trailer used, whether it’s a straight load, slant load or stock trailer, is primarily based on owner preference. While some horses will load more easily into a stock trailer because of its openness, make sure it offers sufficient head room for the height of your horse.

“When it comes to stock trailers, smaller horses such as Quarter Horses can safely fit, but it’s considered to be unsafe for taller breeds such as Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, Drafts, etc., as there is insufficient head room,” says Lawlis. “Too small of a space will hinder your horse’s ability to move and balance itself and could increase the likelihood of your horse injuring itself during transit, as well as developing loading problems.”

Handling Travel Emergencies Even with the best intentions, sometimes mechanical breakdowns or even accidents can occur. Knowing how to handle an emergency situation when on the road can be the difference between being helpful and helpless. Horse owners should inspect the trailer before every trip to make sure it is safe to operate and safely hitched to the truck.

“Always check your trailer before starting out and recheck it after each stop, and always carry first aid kits for your horse, yourself, your vehicle and your trailer,” advises Michelle Staples, a Horse Safety Specialist located in the Niagara Region of Ontario. In an accident when emergency responders are called in for assistance, chances are their knowledge of horses will be limited, and they will be looking to the horse owner or handler for guidance. Staying calm and quiet allows you to think clearly in emergency situations. “Safety is the number one issue in an accident,” says Staples. “If you are hysterical or interfere with a rescue in a way that makes the rescue more difficult or less safe, you will be set aside and disregarded.”

In the case of a trailer rollover, Staples advises to check out all people and pets travelling with you so you know what to report to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. “Take note of where you are and advise them that emergency assistance is required and you may possibly require transport for your horse, and that you need a large animal veterinarian dispatched immediately,” she says. “While waiting, your first inclination is to open up the trailer and go in to help your horse, but that’s an action that can get both you and your horse killed. An open door is an invitation for it to try and escape. Instead, find the smallest opening possible to peek in. Stay calm. Most horses survive rollovers if they’re in a well-maintained, sturdy trailer.”

However, every circumstance is different and should be viewed in a separate manner. Staples recalls a trailering incident with an unexpected flat tire on the Golden Gate Bridge in California several years ago when she was traveling with a friend. “She chose to pull off at the nearest flat spot and change the tire with the horse still inside,” she says. “However, I don’t think I’d do that now.”

Instead, she says she would have pulled over to a spot where she could safely offload the horse and call for roadside assistance such as USRider, a company that handles horses and trailers on a daily basis. Once assistance arrives, they would help her offload the horse and place it in some form of a contained area, such as pipe panels set up on the side of the trailer, or a roll of construction fencing with polls to keep it rigid or even something as simple as ropes strung around trees. “The problem with leaving a horse in the trailer is that when you jack up the side to remove and replace the tire, the horse will scramble, upsetting the balance of the trailer which could create a negative outcome for horse and handler,” she adds.

When it comes to trailering, make every trip a positive experience by planning it out ahead of time to ensure that your horse arrives safe. Have a contingency plan available to address unexpected difficulties. Learning to be proactive rather than reactive goes a long way toward minimizing stressful situations for both you and our horse.

Show Us The BABIES! (and win)

The babies are coming, the babies are coming! Can you tell that I LOVE foaling season?

Only the best for my Pea Pod and Me!

Only the best for my Pea Pod and Me!

WIth so many babies already here and more on the way, I can’t help but be excited!

While having a new foal around is certainly exciting, it is imperative that those tiny bundles of joy are properly cared for and kept safe. And did you know that you can help to maintain the health of your foal’s respiratory system with Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher Sweet PDZ is the inexpensive solution to eliminating one of the three main causes of respiratory distress in horses – Ammonia.  By being proactive and providing your foal (and the all important Momma!) with fresh air to breathe in its stall you are promoting an environment conducive to health. If a horse’s respiratory tract is compromised it becomes a easy access route for bacteria, viruses, mold, parasites and other foreign elements.

But don’t just take my word for it… I want to give you the chance to try it out for yourself! Thats right, I’m giving you the chance to WIN a bag of Sweet PDZ Stall Refresher! Want to know how to WIN? Simply post a photo of your foal (it doesn’t need to be from this year) to our Facebook Page to be in the running! Don’t have Facebook? Have no fear, just send it to me at!

I can’t wait to see the babies!
Sweet Pea

Say NO to the MOW

Mowing that grass seems like a never ending chore, its barely over before its time to do it again. It can seem like such a pity to waste those soft, fragrant, tasty piles of clippings! Why not rake them and feed them to your horses? It’s recycling at its best, no? No!

This should be the last thing you encourage your horse to eat. According to Equine Nutritionist Juliet Getty, It has to do with that extra step: raking. Leave them to dry on the pasture after mowing, and they are generally not a problem. But never gather them into piles to feed them to your horse. Partly because clippings are too easy to over-consume, and eating large amounts at one time can lead spikes in insulin levels or to excess fermentation of sugars and starches in the hind gut, potentially causing colic and laminitis. Secondly, piles of clippings can rapidly invite mold to form (especially prevalent in hot, humid environments), which can lead to colic. Finally, because there is no air inside a dense pile, botulism can develop, which turns this “treat” absolutely deadly.

Plan to be Prepared

Ice storms, blizzards, floods, or tornadoes – it seems that over the past few years, we’ve seen them all. Disasters often strike without warning as demonstrated recently by the notable December ice storm that wreaked havoc on hundreds of thousands residents in Ontario, the Maritimes, and the northeastern U.S. with downed tree limbs and power lines. Many were without power for days, while for others it was weeks, which meant no heat, hydro or water.

No one is immune from the possible effects of a disaster, no matter what the season, but preparing ahead of time and having an emergency plan in place before disaster strikes will help to keep our horses safe and out of harm’s way.

Plan it Out

Being aware of the possible risks in your region is the first step toward preparing for any possible disaster that has the potential to cause a short term or long term disruption to you, your family and your animals. Is your area prone to flooding? What about tornadoes or blizzards? If the roads are closed, how do you get food to your horses?

The next step is to plan for any possible extended disruption of services. Authorities usually recommend having at least two weeks supply of feed/hay on hand, and kept stored in a dry area. Top off all water tanks and buckets before an impending storm, and store additional water in plastic trash cans secured with lids in a safe place. Consider having well-maintained generators on hand to provide emergency power, and have enough fuel to keep them running for several days. Always keep an up-to-date emergency care kit that includes vetwrap, bandages, medications, flashlights, batteries, etc. Having an envelope set aside with emergency cash, the amount depending on your budget and needs will also come in handy for times such as these.

In addition to Mother Nature’s list of natural disasters, you should also consider other potential dangers such as wildfires or the possibility of manmade emergencies including gas leaks or propane spills. Many times, these result in evacuation with very little notice.
In the case of an evacuation, while you might be able to take the family pet along with you to a hotel, it’s not the time to start calling around to find a safe location to move your horses. Prearrange an evacuation site for your horses and map out primary and secondary routes in advance. Develop a buddy system with friends and neighbouring barns. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when the time comes. Also, make sure your horses are trained to easily load and unload from a trailer. If evacuation is not possible, decide where on the property to safely store your horses. Micro chipping, branding, or tattooing, along with registration with online identification agencies, provides a permanent form of animal identification. As an alternative, ensure that your horses are equipped with some form of identification such as a halter tag, neck collar, or leg tag that contains your contact information, should you have to leave them behind.

Human Safety Comes First

In the case of a natural or man-made disaster, it’s important that the safety of humans come first, says District Chief Victor MacPherson of the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department. “Make sure that you and your family are safe before assisting your animals,” he says. “In the case of a fire, this is where emergency preparedness comes into play. If the barn is on fire, what do you do? What do you do with your livestock? My advice is, if it’s safe to do so, try to get them out. However, if you bring them out of the barn and just turn them loose, most likely the horses will try to run back into the barn. That’s where their haven is; what they consider to be their safe place. People should have a location in mind ahead of time to safely keep them together, such as a field or another barn far away from the fire.”

MacPherson recalls an incident with a large grass fire that claimed nearly 200 acres in the Adjala-Tosorontio area in July 2012. “The grass fire was moving aggressively towards a certain farm area, and was a heavy fuel load [had a lot to burn], with a lot of smoke,” he says. “Smoke can be just as dangerous as fire because it’ll spook the horses. With the help of the property owner, we were successful in moving them out to a safer place.”
As is often the case in an emergency when people call 911, firefighters are usually the first responders to the scene. Because of this, many firefighters are now receiving training in how to handle animals in emergency situations.

Last year, the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department held a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) course for first responders and animals owners. Deborah Chute, owner and operator of Laurenwood Stables and a volunteer firefighter with the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department, helped co-ordinate this course after seeing the need for such a training program.

“I first started thinking about the need for a course such as this one after the grass fire in June 2012,” she says. “It was necessary to evacuate people, but there were over 50 horses that were also at risk, as well as other large animals and livestock. Thankfully, the fire was brought under control, but contemplating the logistics of moving that many animals made me realize we needed some additional training.”

Preparedness is Essential

While it’s impossible to prepare for all conditions, don’t let an emergency situation catch you off guard. Having a basic plan in place ahead of time for either the evacuation or sheltering of your horses allows you to handle an emergency with less stress and a clearer head.

“Pre-incident planning is crucial for any farm owner,” says Chute. “Farms by their very nature contain many hazards to humans, animals and the environment, and careful planning before the event of an emergency can save lives and property. Local fire departments are usually quite happy to assist in developing pre-incident plans and can give further advice on fire detection and suppression systems that can be retrofitted or installed in new buildings. Regular inspection and repair of all human and animal housing and fencing will go a long way to keep you and your animals safe.”

Singing the Blues

Horses consider certain floor colors more alarming than others, according to researchers in Nottingham, England. They documented the reactions of 16 horses to various colored mats laid as flooring across an aisle. Each horse confronted a colored floor mat while he was allowed to walk freely along the aisle. Half the colored mats elicited apprehension and hesitation from the horses.

The horses showed the most unease with yellow, white, black, or blue mats laid across their path. They also took longer to walk across these colors than they did with green, red, brown, or grey mats.

Death by Chocolate

Horses have been witnessed eating and drinking almost everything, but just because theyPOI_Chocolate_6_14 will doesn’t mean they should. Chocolate is a mild stimulant to humans mainly mainly due to the presence of theobromine. In sufficient amounts, theobromine is toxic to animals such as horses, dogs, parrots, small rodents, and cats because they are unable to metabolize the chemical effectively.

Needless to say, keep the chocolate to yourself!

Vegetable and Chickpea Curry

Spend more time in the barn and less time in the kitchen! Put this in the crockpot before you leave for work and come home to a yummy dinner

3 cups cauliflower florets

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup frozen cut green beans

1 cup sliced carrots

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cups vegetable broth

2-3 teaspoons green curry powder

1 14-ounce can light coconut milk

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Cooked brown rice (optional)


1. In a four-quart slow cooker, combine cauliflower, chickpeas, green beans, carrots, and onion. Stir in broth and curry powder.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.

3. Stir in coconut milk and shredded basil leaves. Spoon rice, if using, into bowls, and ladle curry over the top.

Time to Saddle Up and RIDE

Time to Ride, an initiative of the American Horse Council, announced an aggressive grassroots effort designed to engage 100,000 new people with horses in a 100-day period.

That’s right! LOTS of new horse people in just a liiiiiiittle amount of time.

The 100 Day Horse Challenge is a nationwide campaign intended to expose at least 100,000 new people to horses while providing $100,000 in cash and prizes to participating stables, organizations and businesses. The program will enlist 1,000 stables, horse clubs, venues, organizations, or individuals to register as an official Time to Ride “Host” and compete in the 100 Day Horse Challenge, which kicks off June 1. Participating hosts will be divided into small, medium, and large divisions by size, and challenged to provide a horse experience to as many new participants as possible. Activities may include education, riding, grooming, learning about horsemanship, and more.

Individual cash prizes up to $25,000 as well as stable equipment, feed, veterinary supplies, and more will be awarded to the hosts that garner the greatest number of new, verified horse enthusiasts.

The Challenge is open to the first 1,000 hosts capable of growing the horse industry – including stables, instructors, clubs, events, recreational riders, equine service professionals, veterinarians, shows, facilities, racetracks, and more. Registered hosts will receive extensive marketing support from Time to Ride, including listing on the Time to Ride Map with special denotation as an official Time to Ride Host.

Hosts can register starting in April for the Time to Ride 100 Day Horse Challenge at  Registration deadline is May 15. 

Hot Offer!

Have you been hoping to try out Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher? Perhaps you are a loyal customer? I am here to tell you that we have a GREAT coupon offer for YOU!Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 1.19.35 PM

Check it out quickly… as it will only be available for 48 hours!(

Please be sure to tell me what you think, your horses will thank you… and the barn will smell oh so sweet! Don’t forget to share the love and the good fortune with your friends!