Not Just For Pies

 

POI_Pumpkin_10_13Did you know that pumpkins can be a fabulous seasonal treat for your horse? These sweet tasting squashes do not have much nutritional content, but they are healthy to feed to your horse. It’s best to limit feeding pumpkins to under two cups a day, being sure to cut them into small chunks to avoid choke in your horse.

Extinction is Forever!

Sweet Pea here! Unfortunately today to share some super sad news with you :( There is a breed of horse that is actually on the verge of extinction…  The last genetically pure mare, descended from the first horses brought by the second voyage of Columbus in 1493, lives precariously on the Island of Abaco in the Bahamas.

Numki needs our help!

Nunki needs our help!

The 15th Century horses bred on the Cuban breeding farms of Columbus predated every horse brought to the Americas. Descendants of these resilient Spanish Barb horses were brought from Cuba to the island of Abaco in the Bahamas in the late 1800’s. This created a time capsule of pristine genes from the time of Columbus. Three separate DNA analyses have confirmed this.  The world is down to the last living descendant – the mare Nunki – who also carries one of the rarest color genes – Splash white.

If the genes of Nunki and her legacy are to live on, critical intervention (such as harvesting of eggs put to surrogates mares) is needed now, or the hope of saving and reestablishing the direct legacy of the last horses Columbus gave to the new world will be gone.

Arkwild, Inc, a 501 (c) charity in the United States, has led the efforts to keep this blood line alive since 1992. The Equus Survival Trust has supported Arkwild’s efforts since EST’s inception in 2004.  Yet getting the funding necessary for the reproductive assistance remains elusive.

It is horrible to think that this poor mare could be the end of a legacy. If you are interested in donating or would like more information, visit the Arkwild website.

Easy Peasy

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy! If you have a barefoot horse and are looking for ways to keep  them looking in tip-top shape between trims, I think that my human may have found the tool for you! The Riders Rasp is easy to use and impossible to screw up! This rounding tool helps to remove chips and flares easily.

The Riders Rasp is easy to use and great to have around the barn for ever occasion!

The Riders Rasp is easy to use and great to have around the barn for ever occasion!

The unique shape of the rasp makes it hard to skin your fingers (easy to do with a regular rasp) and very easy to hold. The shape is convenient for right handed and left handed users alike (nice for the South Paws!). It is soft, and has a no slip grip… even if it gets wet!

Sometimes my human had to take more then one pass to smooth out the edges, but both me and Pea Pod (my darling filly) were willing to stand there for the comfortable pedicure that human gave us.

RidersRasp is a maintenance tool for the hoof that rounds, not removes the hoof wall, starting grooming from the ground up. The hoof is in a constant state of change, requiring frequent upkeep especially for the barefoot horse. As soon as two weeks after a farrier visit, unshod hooves can become unbalanced. A rounding regiment with RidersRas allows you to round away flares, chips, and sharp edges to lengthen the time your horse is in balance between trim

For a shod horse, losing a shoe can quickly damage the hoof wall. RidersRasp enables you to lightly round the edges of the foot to minimize further damage and stabilize the hoof until the farrier arrives to replace the shoe.

EPM Continues On

It’s depressing, like seriously. But, did you know that EPM continues to march on and change the lives of equines and humans everywhere?

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine revealed that equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), caused by two different parasites, is widespread throughout the United States. The single-celled protozoal parasite Sarcocystis neurona which is shed in the feces of opossums is the most commonly recognized cause of this neurological disease in horses. However, this study found evidence that Neospora hughesi, the other EPM-causing parasite, first identified in California, is now being identified in horses across the United States. After obtaining a total of 3,123 diagnostic submissions from 49 states, UC Davis determined that horses from 42 states were affected by parasites causing EPM. Horses in 24 states tested positive for antibodies against Neospora hughesi and Sarcocystis neurona. Horses from 17 states tested positive for antibodies against Sarcocystis neurona only, while horses in one state tested positive for antibodies against Neospora hughesi only. As these results show a widespread distribution of the parasites causing EPM, horse owners and practitioners should test EPM-suspect horses for antibodies against both parasites.

Consider vaccinating your horses for EPM. Your horses will thank you!

Consider vaccinating your horses for EPM. Your horses will thank you!

“This study returned positive results from more states than we originally thought,” said UC Davis’ Dr. Nicola Pusterla, lead researcher on the study. “As the recognized geographic spread of Neospora hughesi infections expands, we are encouraging horse owners about the benefits of the advanced tests available at UC Davis to more accurately diagnose the disease. Overall, we had not been satisfied with the standard testing available, so we have spent the past decade developing and successfully validating an improved diagnostic tool for EPM.”

Fall Follies

You may think that the declining temperatures mean that your horse is safe to go out on pasture, however… I’m sorry to tell you that you that may not be true! Sweet Pea here to keep your horse healthy and you safe.

If you have horses that are overweight, insulin resistant, or suffer from equine Cushing’s disease, you know about keeping them off of spring grasses. The non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) content is too high for free-choice grazing to be safe, increasing the risk for laminitis. But don’t think you’re out of the woods once spring is over. True, summer is safer, but as early fall nights cool down below 40 degrees F, the dangerous carbohydrates once again increase.

According to Dr. Juliet Getty, equine nutrition specialist, grass accumulates NSC (sugars and starch) as it is exposed to sunlight. The levels reach a peak in the late afternoon. During the dark hours, the grass uses this fuel for itself, and by morning, the levels are at their lowest. But, cold nights prevent grass from using as much NSC, resulting in a higher NSC concentration during the day.

Don’t be fooled by the brown grass you see in the late fall. Spread it apart and you’ll likely see some green at the base, which is high in sugar and starch. If it hasn’t rained in a while, your grass will look dried out; but be careful – dry grass can actually have a higher NSC percentage than long, lush-looking grass.

M.A.S.H.

You may think that feeding your horse bran mash is a super sweet treat (and that it is!), but did you know that it could also be dangerous to your horse?

Equine Nutritionists tell us that the bacteria that live in the hindgut need consistency. That’s why new feeds need to be introduced very slowly, taking a few weeks to completely switch over. A bran mash, or any feed for that matter, is unfamiliar to the hindgut microbial population and exposing them to it suddenly can trigger a dangerous colic attack. Thats not the only problem with feeding this yummy dinner though.

I know you like giving bran mash to give yourself the warm fuzzies, but do you know that it could be harmful?

I know you like giving bran mash to give yourself the warm fuzzies, but do you know that it could be harmful?

Many people feel that a bran mash helps as a laxative. Sure, the manure becomes softer but that’s because bran irritates the digestive lining, leading to softer manure. This indigestion causes poor absorption of nutrients. Furthermore, bran is very high in phosphorus – it has 10 times more phosphorus than calcium. When phosphorus exceeds calcium, it can lead to porous bones and poor muscle contraction/relaxation.

So, heres the bottom line = If you want to feed a warm bran mash during this winter, consistency is key – it must be fed every day, not once a week. Be sure to introduce it gradually and use a commercially fortified version that has added calcium.

Preparation is Key

With Hurricane Karen on the horizon, it is yet another reminder that natural disasters can happen any time, any where. For humans with four-legged horse friends, its even more important to be prepared and have a plan in place if something was to ever happen.

Today, we talked with, Cindy Gendron, the coordinator for The Homes for Horses Coalition, who said, “Different types of disasters call for different responses, from evacuating your horses to keeping them safe in a barn or in a field. Once you understand your options, the next steps are developing a plan, organizing your resources and practicing and training for possible scenarios. If a disaster does strike, you’ll be ready to protect yourself and your horse.”

She also gave us some great tips and hints for how to be prepared and what you can do in the event of a disaster. While it may not be fun to think about, it IS important.
Planning for a disaster
·       Permanently identify each horse by tattoo, microchip, brand, or photograph. In your records, include the horse’s age, sex, breed, and color. Keep this information with your important papers.
·       Keep halters ready for your horses. On each halter attach a luggage tag with the following information: the horse’s name, your name, email address, your telephone number, and another emergency telephone number where someone can be reached. At the time of evacuation, consider additional temporary identification such as a leg band.
·       Place your horses’ Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs, and vital information—such as medical history, allergies, and emergency telephone numbers (veterinarian, family members, etc.)—in a watertight envelope. Store the envelope with your other important papers in a safe place that will be easy for you to access, so you can take them with you when you and your horses evacuate.
·       Prepare a basic first aid kit that is portable and easily accessible.
·       Be sure to include enough water (12 to 20 gallons per day per horse), hay, feed, and medications for several days for each horse.
·       Make arrangements in advance to have your horse trailered in case of an emergency. If you don’t have your own trailer or don’t have enough room in your trailer for horses, be sure you have several people on standby to help evacuate your horses.

Evacuation
·       It is important that your horses are comfortable being loaded onto a trailer. If your horses are unaccustomed to being loaded onto a trailer, practice the procedure so they become used to it.
·       Know where you can take your horses in an emergency evacuation. When possible, make arrangements with a friend or another horse owner to stable your horses well beyond the region at risk.
·       Contact your local animal care and control agency, agricultural extension agent, or local emergency management authorities for information about shelters in your area.

If you cannot evacuate with your horse
·       Have a back-up plan in case it’s impossible to take your horse with you when you evacuate. Consider different types of disasters and whether your horses would be better off in a barn or loose in a field. Your local humane organization, agricultural extension agent, or local emergency management agency may be able to provide you with information about your community’s disaster response plans.
·       Share your evacuation plans with friends and neighbors. Post detailed instructions in several places—including the barn office or tack room, the horse trailer, and barn entrances—to ensure emergency workers can see them in case you are not able to evacuate your horses yourself.