Monday, 20 November 2017

Winter - a change in diet!

This last week has really felt like winter is knocking on the door.  We have had some really cold nights but it has also rained now and the field is getting very muddy!  My boys are happily in their winter routine now, in at night and out in the day - but I am lucky to have year round turnout.



A couple of weeks ago I posted about restricted turnout and ideas for keeping your horse occupied and exercised if they have to be stabled much of the time over the winter.   Unfortunately, this is only part of the problem with stabling 24/7.  When the vet came to vaccinate my horses he mentioned that they hadn't had many colic's yet this year and he thought it was due to the good weather.  The good weather meant horses were still out at grass - apparently lots of horses get colic when they are changed over from being grass kept to largely stabled.  So, I thought now was a good time to blog about this again!

Have a look at my blog about moving horses from pasture to stable, which was about a study into the effects of changing horses from pasture to stabling and the impact on a horses digestive system!

Changes in diet are one of the most common causes of colic and this is why one of the 10 rules of feeding is:

Make no sudden changes to the diet


Change from pasture to a hay (or alternative) based diet will significantly affect the mobility of the gut (intestines) which in turn can lead to the food causing a blockage - resulting in colic! 
So, change your horses environment slowly.  If you know that in 2 weeks your horse will have to be in 24/7 then start by keeping them in just overnight, when they can still be out in the day!  Then, if you can, slowly decrease the amount of time they spend out during the day.  This will give their digestive system time to adjust from all grass, to part grass and part hay, to all hay (or an alternative). 

Colic can be fatal so do everything you can to prevent it from happening!

Did you see last week's video 'Painting the stables'  on my new You Tube channel.  
Horse Life and Love. Please check it out and SUBSCRIBE.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates on Chesney, Basil, Tommy and Daisy. 

Until next time!

Friday, 17 November 2017

All About ... Lipids

Lipids are insoluble in water , they are made up of chains of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and there are several different types.

Triglycerides are made from glycerol and fatty acids.  They can be classified as fats - those that are solid at room temperature (20°C), or as oils - those that are liquid at room temperature.

The fatty acids can be saturated - where the chains are straight, or unsaturated - where the chains have some extra bonds in them and in this case they are much more susceptible to heat.  Fatty acids are those we know as omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. 

Omega-3 and omega-6 can't be synthesised in the horse's body so they are called essential fatty acids.  They must be taken in through the diet.

Why are fats and oils good?

·         Omega-3 and omega-6 are important in regulating the immune system, maintaining the central nervous system, cell membranes and the transfer of oxygen.
·         Fat is a concentrated source of energy - 1 gram giving twice as much energy as a gram of carbohydrate. 
·         Fat does not conduct heat well, therefore if it is stored under the skin it provides insulation for the body - why animals tend to increase their fat stores in winter.
·         Fat provides protection for internal organs
·         Fats carry vitamins A, D, E, K around the body.
·         Unused fat will be stored under the skin!

These form a large part of cell membranes, including the myelin sheath around nerve fibres. 

Is a raw material in the manufacture of Vitamin D.  It is also of vital importance to cell membranes as it provides strength at high temperatures.

Lipids are digested and absorbed in the small intestine.  Lipids over and above those provided in a normal equine diet are usually only required for horses in hard work eg: eventers.  However, it is a good way to add weight to a thin horse where it is difficult to increase the amount of food given.

Where to find lipids

Forage and cereal grain contain very low amounts of lipids so, if extra is required, they will need to be added in the form of oil eg: vegetable oil, linseed oil or soybean oil.  Some horse cubes and mixes have oil added to them.  Grass does have plenty of omega-3 but once it becomes hay the omega-3 content has gone! 

See my feeding blog for more about this and our horses food.

Have you seen this week's video 'Painting the stables'   on my You Tube channel?   
Horse Life and Love.  Please check it out and SUBSCRIBE.

You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates on Chesney, Basil, Tommy and Daisy.

Until next time!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Greatest Horses - Seabiscuit

Seabiscuit  who was one of the great US racehorses of the 1930's.  Born in 1933 in Lexington, his sire was Hard Tack and his dam Swing On.  

The little bay horse did not appear to have much talent at first as he loved eating and was quite lazy! He started his career with the trainer James  Fitzsimmons (Sunny Jim) where he raced 35 times when 2 years old and only won 5 times, and was 2nd on 7 occasions. 

This poor showing led to him being sold on for a bargain price of $8000 to Charles Howard (a car salesman) who sent him to the trainer Tom Smith.  With his new jockey, Red Pollard, Seabiscuit began winning and went on to win many races.

In 1936: they won the Detroit Governor's Handicap, Scarsdale Handicap, Bay Bridge Handicap and the World's Fair Handicap.

In 1937: 2nd in the Santa Anita Handicap but won 11 of his 15 starts that year

1938: ridden by George Woolf (Red Pollard was injured) Seabiscuit  beat War Admiral at the Pimlico Racecourse.  He was named Horse of the Year in 1938 and retired to California.
Seabiscuit was injured but following rest and rehabilitation he returned in early 1940 to win the San Antonio Handicap and the Santa Anita Handicap.

Seabiscuit was retired in April 1940 to California as horse racing's leading money winner of all time!  He spent 7 years in his retirement before he died of a suspected heart attack.
Seabiscuit had a late turn of speed, which often surprised his rivals and Red Pollard trained him to make the most of this skill!   

Have you seen last week's video 'Top Tips ... for Hay Steaming'  on my You Tube channel?   
Horse Life and Love.  Please check it out and SUBSCRIBE.

You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates on Chesney, Basil, Tommy and Daisy.

Until next time!

Friday, 10 November 2017

All About ... Protein

Although protein only need make up a small part of a horse's diet it is still an essential part!  Proteins make up a huge percentage of the structure of horses (and other living things) and are involved in many of the vital processes needed for life.  Proteins are needed for  growth, repair, replacement and development of cells and much, much more.

Proteins are grouped into 7 different types:

·         enzymes: these are the catalysts that control biochemical reactions eg: digestion and cellular respiration
·         structural proteins: form part of the horses body eg: skin, hair, collagen
·         signal proteins: carry messages eg: insulin for the control of glucose in the blood
·         contractile proteins: which are involved in movement eg: muscle contraction
·         defensive proteins: including antibodies
·         transport proteins: haemoglobin is a protein which carries oxygen in the blood
·         storage proteins: store protein!

As I mentioned in my 'what is in our horses food'  blog a while ago - proteins are made up of chains of building blocks called amino acids, there are about 20 different amino acids, which can be linked together in any order and can contain hundreds of amino acids.  The huge variety of amino acids means that there are the many different types of proteins listed above. 

For a protein to carry out its function the amino acids must be in the correct order in the chain, if any of the amino acids are out of order the function will be disrupted. 

The amino acids within a protein are organised in 4 ways:

Primary structure is the sequence of amino acids I have already mentioned

Secondary structure is the way the chains are folded or coiled

Tertiary structure results in 2 different types of protein:-
·         Fibrous proteins - tough and insoluble in water eg: collagen, and keratin (component of hair)
·         Globular proteins - spherical in shape eg: enzymes, antibodies and hormones.

Quarternary structure applies in some proteins which have more than one chain, these chains are then arranged in different ways.

When a horse eats protein, the chains of amino acids are broken up in the small intestine by enzymes and acids.  They are then absorbed through the wall of the small intestine and on to the liver until they reach the bloodstream where they travel around the body to where they are needed.  

Protein will give about the same amount of energy as carbohydrate, however, it is a much less efficient way to provide energy.

Horses are able to make some of the amino acids, the others must be taken in through their food.  Any amino acids that the horse cannot synthesise (make) themselves are called essential amino acids.

Where to find protein:

Forages such as grass and hay deliver most horse's needs ( most grass hay contains 6 - 10% protein).  Alfalfa and other legumes have higher levels, perhaps up to 12/14 %.  Horses in hard work are likely to need higher levels and so may require specialist feeding.  Peas, beans and alfalfa are good sources.

NB: too much protein can be just as damaging as too little!

See my feeding blog for more about this and our horses food.

Did you see Wednesday's video 'Top Tips ... for Hay Steaming'  on my You Tube channel?   
Horse Life and Love.  Please check it out and SUBSCRIBE.

You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates on Chesney, Basil, Tommy and Daisy.

Until next time!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

October 2017 Review

October has generally been a better month, Chesney is better and no more dramas have come up.  Vaccinations are done which is always good, Basil hasn't lost any shoes and Tommy is still lovely.  Unfortunately, the same can't be said of our canter work, which to be honest, is still so variable.  Basil is also getting very strong so I think that I am going to have to find a stronger bit :(

My Aims for October were: 

1.      Calmness and Rhythm in canter - hopeless
2.      Suppleness - this is improving
3.      More balance and slower in canter - hopeless
4.      Correct canter leads - most of the time
5.      Turn on forehand - is better
6.      Leg yield circles (spirals) - done a couple of these
7.      Canter Poles - no
8.      Small jump (maybe a bit bigger) - no, too windy to be doing scary stuff

This is what October  looked like: 

1st - 5th no riding so Chesney totally recovers!

6th - lunged, Basil was a bit silly at the end but as he has had 2 weeks off that is good

7th - lunged again, it was really windy so didn't dare ride after so long off but he was really good :)

8th - rode in the arena today, nice walk and trot and leg yield.  We had our first attempt at shoulder in today - on the left rein because it is the one I am best at in my lessons!  I think we might have got 1 step.  Tried walk to canter today instead of the trot just getting faster.  Pretty good transition but the canter was a bit fast.

10th - rode in the arena again.  A bit more shoulder in on left rein again today.  Walk to canter transitions again too, 1st one on the right rein was a good canter but too fast, on the left we got the wrong lead 1st attempt.  2nd attempt a better transition but still too fast.

14th - hack out today, jogged part way back but pleased after our break.

15th - arena today and it he was pretty good considering the wind.  Lovely trot, serpentines and leg yield.  More shoulder in practice, maybe 2 steps today :)  I think Basil is starting to anticipate the walk to canter transitions now :(

17th - arena again, more shoulder in - definitely getting the idea now.  BAD canter transitions on left again, wrong lead and then on the last right canter he went sideways - very naughty.

20th - lunged and very good

21st - just too windy to do anything

22nd - lunged again as pretty windy, very good

25th - lunged today as horses had vaccinations.  Good to start with, then a squirrel started jumping on and off the fence and so Basil had an excuse to be loopy at the end

27th - arena - canters are too fast

28th - hack and we jogged home again

29th - arena better today, 2/3 shoulder in steps and a good, lovely, calm first canter but the rest were too fast

31st - lunged and he was silly again

My Aims for November are: 

1.      Calmness and Rhythm in trot canter
2.      More balance and slower in canter
3.      Correct canter leads
4.      Calmer trots after cantering
5.      Turn on forehand
6.      Shoulder in on left rein
7.      Leg yield circles (spirals)
 8.      Small jump (maybe a bit bigger)

Have you seen yesterday's video 'Top Tips ... for Hay Steaming'  on my new You Tube channel?
Horse Life and Love.  Please check it out and SUBSCRIBE.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates on Chesney, Basil, Tommy and Daisy.

Until next time!

Monday, 6 November 2017

How to ... cope with restricted turnout.

Many livery yards restrict winter turnout.   As the night's draw in and the weather  begins to turn wet and cold yard owners like to save their turnout for the summer.  Horses make a lot of mess in fields, they poach up the ground around gateways where they often wait around and they cut up the ground when they are playing.  They seem to do a lot more playing in the winter, whether to keep warm or because there is less to munch on!  I think that their shoes cut the ground up more than bare feet but I may be wrong.  

We all know that horses are supposed to be free, to live in a herd and socialise.  Domestication has already brought huge changes for them but then put them in a stable all day every day and it is going to have an impact on their physical and mental well being.  This can result in vices or stereotypies - so what can you do?
Some yards will allow an hour or two turnout for each horse per day, which is better than nothing but still not enough. 

Be creative and get your horse out of the stable as many times as you can:

  • Take him/her for a walk (I would advise using a bridle) and perhaps a nibble of some grass verges 
  • Ride 
  •  Lunge

  • Long rein 
  • Ground school 
  • Can you turnout in the arena/all weather manege so they can roll and have a run around? 
  • Is there a horse walker on your yard? 
  • Is there a fenced in section of yard they can wonder around?

Things to do in the stable to break up the day:

  • Stretches, or pilates for horses - this is a great DVD 
  • Grooming 
  • Ensure there is plenty of forage, put hay/haylage in nets with small holes so it takes longer to eat, or put one haynet inside the another
  • Feed in a treat ball so that the food lasts much longer and feed several smaller meals rather than 2 larger ones
  • Put a haynet on each side of the stable 
  • Put in a salt lick 
  • Hang a swede or other treats on a string - see my video here
  • Put slices of carrot and or apple around in the bed so your horse has to forage around 
  • Put bits of apple in his water bucket - not too big that your horse will choke 
  • Give your horse a Likit or Horselyx- but check out my blog about these first 
  • Put a space hopper or boredom ball in the stable
  • Hang a plastic milk container from the ceiling, if you put stones inside it makes a great noise 
  • Screw a broom head to the wall for your horse to rub against
Above all, try to spend more time with your horse and that will make the time pass more quickly for them!

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Did you see lasts week's video 'Getting Colder ... '  on my You Tube channel?  
Horse Life and Love.  Please check it out and SUBSCRIBE.

You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates on Chesney, Basil, Tommy and Daisy.

Until next time!