13 April 2013
Occy has had his shoes taken off in preparation for his operation next week. Arthroscopy of his left stifle to check up and do some cleaning up of whatever damage he has done to himself.
Occy has had his shoes taken off in preparation for his operation next week. Arthroscopy of his left stifle to check up and do some cleaning up of whatever damage he has done to himself.
While you are scheduling your horse’s activities, find ways to cut down on his trailer time. Does your dressage coach ever come to other facilities to give lessons? Would she do it if you organized several lessons at your barn with other people who also want to keep their horses off the road as much as possible? Maybe that facility I was talking about, the one with good turnout and hacking, is run by a hunter/jumper trainer who enjoys and understands eventers and can teach them. That would be several hours less of trailer time every week, if you do not have to ship out for your jumping lessons.
Speaking of scheduling, remember that just because you live in an area with events every weekend does not mean you should be competing every weekend. Although the racetrack schedules races every day, trainers do not run their horses every day–they pick their spots.
When I map out my students’ schedule for the season, I first decide on their “destination” event–their goal for the season–and schedule backward. I have to take their qualifications into account and plan to satisfy all the FEI requirements if a destination event is FEI-recognized.
Even if a destination event is not an FEI event, I may have to include qualifying events, for example for the American Eventing Championships or the various area championships. Then I figure out how many events it will take to have each student’s horse at his best possible state of training and fitness.
How many events does it take to get a horse prepared for each season and qualified for a destination event? That is a tough question and the answer varies from horse to horse. The answer also changes depending on the weather and the state of the ground. I ask my horses to compete less when it is hot and the footing is hard than I do when conditions are more suitable. I don’t mind running back-to-back weekends with Novice and Training horses if the footing and weather are good and will occasionally run Preliminary horses back-to-back, but my Intermediate and Advanced horses never run back-to-back. I tend to run my younger and lower-level horses more often, while my three- and four-star horses will only go to from two to four horse trials before they arrive at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** or the Rolex CCI****.
Regarding the competitive schedule for upper-level horses, I think that in the years to come, we will see an increasing “churn” or turnover on our international teams. It used to be that once horses and riders got to the classic four-star level and were successful, they became dependable team members for three to five years. However, it takes an enormous amount of “drill” to produce a successful short format four-star horse. My guess is that our horses are going to reach very high states of training–much higher than in my day–but they are not going to last as long.
I make this prediction not because of the physical demands on our horses, but because of the mental stress that is increasingly placed on them. They are going to lose their form, not because they lose their skills but because they are going to lose their desire. It takes good riders to produce successful upper-level horses, but it is going to take good horsemen to keep them there.
Regardless of your level, keep in mind that the only thing that has not changed in our sport is the horse. When we ride him, we need to remember that he is not a means of transportation; he is not a trampoline for our ego; he is our friend. He does not change, so our unceasing devotion to him and his well-being must not change. That is what horsemen do–they care for their horses.
Reprinted from the May 2007 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.
Had the Vet back out last week to have a stifle block done. Used ultrasound to confirm the location of the joint pouches prior to them being injected with local. Occy trotted up ok after that which seems to confirm the cruciate ligament theory.
Next step would be for him to undergo arthroscopy to have a look and maybe clean up any bits that shouldn’t be there.
Build a small corner and have started to build an adjustable brush. Just need to bury the 2 posts.
Hello Dr. Gray. I am writing today in regards to shoeing. There seems to be a trend towards riding barefoot. A huge article just came out in Dressage Today magazine about Shannon Peters taking a few of her top performers barefoot. I am intrigued by this concept because I have been taught that horses always need shoes for added stability. The thought of riding without shoes is equal to the sin of jumping without a helmet. Should my training level dressage gelding go barefoot? What are the medical ramifications of this? How long will his hooves take to adjust to the transition? What can I do to ease the transition? If barefoot, is he more at risk for tendon injuries, laminitis and other crippling injuries? Thank you as always Dr. Gray. Your support along with the SmartPak family has aided me tremendously!
- MP from California
A great question like this deserves an equally great answer, so I’ve “turfed” this to Danvers Child, the expert farrier who is our go-to-guy for all things related to hooves! BTW, my 3rd level gelding is barefoot for half the year and shod in front the other half. – Dr. Gray
I was pleased with the balanced view presented in the article you reference. Too often, we see discussions of this type take on a polarizing nature, where hoof care professionals belittle each others’ methods, and somewhere along the way, the discussions simply derail, assume an argumentative tone, and adopt a focus of “my way is the right way” rather than focusing on what’s best for the horse.
Subsequently, it was refreshing to see my colleague Pete Ramey’s thoughtful comments summarized as “ignore extremists on both sides and consider what’s needed for the individual horse.” It’s a viewpoint I share in my farrier practice and in my own horse-keeping, with both of them averaging about 50% shod and 50% barefoot. The decisions aren’t generic, and they have to center upon each horse and doing what’s best for that horse.
Admittedly, what an individual practitioner determines as being “best” generally comes down to an opinion, and our opinions tend to stem from our backgrounds, our experiences, and our comfort zones. Ultimately, our nature is to promote and practice what we know. If your knee is injured, a surgeon is going to think about surgery, a chiropractor is going to think about adjustment, and a homeopath will likely suggest organic remedies. Ideally, however, each of those practitioners will be open to and knowledgeable about alternative treatments and approaches and will judge your situation according to your unique and individual needs rather than by providing generic answers and treatments.
And that’s what good hoof care providers do; they assess the entire situation and attempt to meet the individual and specific needs that are uncovered through their full assessment. Subsequently, I admit now that I do not have enough specific information to tell you whether your horse can go barefoot or not. I can tell you that, assuming there are no serious issues omitted in your general description, you should have no concerns about a transition to barefoot resulting in the major problems you mention: “tendon injuries, laminitis, and other crippling injuries.” Likewise, I can give you some general areas of consideration that should help guide your decision making and your discussions with your hoof care provider as you make choices about what’s best for your horse. With your gelding, and with all horses, the decision-making keys related to trimming vs. shoeing are twofold and revolve around:
1.) Understanding the base reasons for applications of shoes, which are limited, and
2.) Examining the variables that confound the issue, which are virtually unlimited.
There are three basic reasons for shoeing: to protect the foot, to address traction concerns, and to alter or enhance gait. While the reasons are limited, the discussions associated with those reasons are more involved than I can elaborate upon in this response. And to examine the variables that compound and confound the issue, one would have to write a weighty textbook. In brief, however, the variables fall into the basic considerations we deal with in all horse-keeping situations: over-riding concerns such as environment, climate, and genetic makeup, and situation-specific concerns such as age, terrain, and activity level, as well as considerations of disease, weakness, or injury.
Your concern about “transition” is vitally important. Unfortunately, it’s a common belief that transition involves a period of lameness or dis-ease. And I firmly believe that these elements should not be accepted. For me, transition means that you make wise decisions about when you’re going to remove shoes and what you’re going to expose your horse to (usage level, terrain choices, etc.) while he is adjusting. Basically, the transition should be about how you as a care provider prepare for and deal with altering your horse-keeping practices; it should never be about how much lameness and discomfort you’re willing to accept or how long you’re willing to accept it.
Ultimately, choosing to go without shoes requires as much, if not more, of a commitment than going with shoes. Again, I think the Dressage Today article did a good job of making it clear that Shannon Peters wasn’t simply pulling shoes and giving her horses a trim. Instead, her decision involved altered turnout, increased frequency of maintenance, fitting and re-fitting of boots, and numerous other horse-keeping choices, many of which require daily maintenance.About Danvers Child CJF
A lifelong horseman and practicing farrier since 1972, Danvers specializes in shoeing sport and performance horses. He served as a supervisor for the Official Farriers at the Alltech FEI 2010 World Equestrian Games, and he also serves as an Official Farrier for the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event.
Starring horse-riding lions, the Sickest Show on Earth
Last updated at 21:00 06 February 2008
Just when it seemed that the Chinese had plumbed the depths of animal humiliation, along comes something even worse.
The country which gave you bears riding bikes now proudly presents … lions and tigers on horseback.
In one of the nation’s most notorious zoos, applauding spectators are treated to a bizarre display as a 30-stone lion leaps on to the horse’s back.
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Then it rides around the ring while a trainer with a whip keeps it moving.
After that, a 35-stone tiger climbs up on the same terrified steed for its turn in the limelight.
The shocking pictures come from the animal park at Xiamen in Fujian, south-east China, where the public seem to delight in humiliating circus-style stunts and have no regard for animal cruelty.
Conditions are poor, with big cats including lions, tigers and leopards and other large animals including bears kept in solitary confinement in tiny cages.
Elsewhere in the country, bears ride bicycles at an “Animal Games” in Nanjing.
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At the Xiogsen Bear and Tiger Mountain village in Guilin, live animals are fed to tigers as a show for tourists. Bears pulling cars in a race with a strong man caused anger after the bizarre stunt was shown in Jinan last year.
In a display in Changchun, a tiger is put in a cage with an ox while muzzled so it tries to attack its prey but cannot kill it, producing an agonising and long-drawn-out battle.
Save China’s Tigers, a charity which has a branch in the UK, campaigns to save animals trapped in the country’s zoos.
It carries out public education schemes in China to raise awareness .
And it aims to free tigers from their cages, set up breeding programmes and reintroduce the proud creatures to the wild after teaching them how to hunt for themselves.
Crouching tiger: The horse continues to trot as the tiger clings onto it
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Wendy and Koyuna Sun Dancer at Luhmuhlen 4 Star 2012 Photo: Libby Law
Wendy Schaeffer of Sunburst Equestrian is not only an Olympic gold medallist in eventing but also a winner of World Cup show jumping who competes at the highest levels in both disciplines. In this series of articles Wendy will be bringing you training tips and exercises to help improve your horse’s jumping technique and help you as a rider train your horse more effectively. In the first article Wendy suggests how to use 10 of her top jump training exercises for horses of all levels with video examples to help you
Exercise 1 – Circle of poles in trot
After warming up on the flat in walk and trot proceed to trotting around the circle of poles (~17m circle by the time I set up wings around poles, and have room to canter around outside them, with 4 poles forming each point of the circle…if that makes sense!)This exercise is a great way to commence a poles/jump session, asking horses to both think about their feet and to prioritise the all important inside leg to outside rein connection. I also fid that horses improve quickly with these exercises. Stay on this exercise for quite a few circles – you should feel the horse relax and become more supple as you progress. It is also very helpful in preparing both horse and rider for the more challenging exercise that it becomes in canter!
Exercise 2 – Single pole on circle in canter
Once the canter pace has been successfully established i.e. horse is in front of rider’s leg, straight and supple, then ask the horse to canter a single pole which is the top or bottom pole of the circle of poles. If the horse is more naturally a little behind my leg, I will ride this exercise in almost a medium canter to encourage them to be big in their stride length as we do need more collection when putting all poles on the circle together
Exercise 3 – Circle of poles in canter
Once I have successfully placed the single pole in the middle of my horse’s canter stride a few times, I move up to take on the circle of poles. Start with either the top or bottom pole, having cantered around one of the side poles; if you start with a side pole off the long side then it does make the angle of entrance to the circle difficult, compromising your line…I speak from experience! The exercise in canter can be quite challenging – it is all about rhythm and line. I find that once I commit to staying on the circle then the horse will learn that that is the required line and with that expectation will be easier to keep on the circle.
The greener horses may well break out of canter during this exercise – either leave the circle for a part of a circle before re-establishing canter and recommencing the circle or ask for them to move back into canter between poles…this can be difficult. It really is up to the rider/trainer on the ground to assess how the horse is coping with this exercise and when it is best to leave it and do something else for a while. Whilst I focus first on keeping the canter all the way around the circle and second on placing the pole in the middle of the horse’s canter stride, it then becomes apparent which ‘distance’ is best to ride for – usually an inside 3 strides is easiest on the younger,greener horses with a big canter stride or the steadier 4 strides on an outside line. I often change rein out of this exercise by rding a slightly more angled line in the final quadrant to set the horse up for a change of lead as shown in the following video clip.
The progression is then to vary the number of strides anywhere between 3 and 6 strides in each quadrant and one’s imagination is then only limited by how technical this exercise can become with different striding patterns i.e. 3 strides then 4 then 3 then 4 or a 3, 4, 5, 6, 5, 4, 3 stride per quadrant pattern. On the more experienced horses, I also ask them to hold counter-canter around the circle with changes both back to true canter and from true canter back to counter-canter!
Exercise 4 – In and out
Set at a short 18ft distance across the arena, this exercise is both quite demanding and a very effective suppling tool. It is imperative that the approach and exit are straight so I encourage riders to ride a 90 degree turn off the arena long side onto the first vertical. Again, the value of this exercise lies partly in it’s ability to teach the horse quickly to turn efficiently the stride after landing (or crash into the fence!) which I find effectively supples the horse for me!
Exercise 5 – Side poles on circle raised to small verticals & around to bounce (left rein)
I then return to the circle of poles exercise on the left rein where I now raise the 2 poles on the long sides of the arena. I start this exercise over the pole and again commit to stay on the circle with the jump, then pole, then jump etc. I find 4 strides per quadrant is the safest pattern to aim for as 3 strides per quadrant can soon get out of control!
When I am happy with my horse’s performance on the circle, I leave the circle once over the jump on the long side that leads to the short bounce set at 10ft, some 20 paces away (steady 5 or 6 strides). My aim is to ride to the bounce in a relatively collected/connected canter relative to the training level of the horse as it is a short bounce distance.
Exercise 6 – Side poles on circle raised to small verticals & up to bounce (right rein)
I then repeat this exercise on the right rein where I leave the circle once over the jump on the other long side then continue on around the arena to come back to the bounce. I then aim to jump the bounce and proceed back to the long side fence of the circle and, if possible, continue on the circle for a round or so. This last part does take a fair degree of control though!
Exercise 7 – In & Out Exercise raised
I then return to the In & Out exercise, raised by up to 4 holes which then considerably raises the level of difficulty
Exercise 8 – All 4 poles on circle raised & around to raised bounce/oxer (left rein)
The next exercise is back on the circle with all four poles raised. Again, the 4 stride/quadrant pattern is easiest to keep the horse on the circle in the best rhythm and line. This exercise is where our ability to maintain that consistent rhythm and line is most tested. Done smoothly, it all looks easy but can quickly ‘go south’ with one mistake compounding another.
Again, as the rider/trainer of your own horse, you need to be diligent in reading how your horse is coping both physically and mentally with this exercise as it is relatively demanding on both their body and mind! I will aim for 3-4 circuits in a row then leave the circle for the bounce (raised by 1-2 holes) before it falls apart! I will also perform this exercise as the circle of poles down to an oxer on ~22 paces ie I push the first bounce fence back towards the second bounce fence to become an oxer of an appropriate height.
Exercise 9 – All 4 poles on circle raised & up to raised bounce/oxer (right rein)
Repeating the exercise on the right rein, I will look for the horse to be as symmetrical as possible ie doing the exercise as well on both reins. I do find that these exercises have a high learning effect meaning that the horse will usually improve between sets of the exercise regardless of which rein they are performed on though, of course, there are horses which will find one way more difficult. In these cases, I will often move between the exercise on both reins to give the horse a bit of a break/improve confidence by going back to the horse’s easier rein.
Exercise 10 – Combining exercises
Once I am happy with all exercises individually, I combine them ie start with a left rein approach to the In & Out exercise changing rein to the right then back on the right rein changing rein to the left from where I will go to the circle exercise that progresses on to the bounce/oxer then perhaps change rein through either the In & Out exercise or by jumping 3 parts of the circle exercise before changing rein over one the fences on the centre line then come to the circle exercise on the right rein for a circuit or two before leaving the circle to come around to the bounce/oxer to the circle exercise for a few fences – one circuit.
Happy riding until next time!
This something we all hope we never have to experience
Let’s hope this story will help to stop others going through a similar floating accident
Sometimes I feel the need to put pen to paper on a sober subject. This one is floating and before I go too far I have to let you know that everybody, human and equine, was fortunately fine after this terrible ordeal.
My good friend Jackie Sept who so often takes my young horses and shows them a bit about life in Perth was recently down in Albany with her float and horses.
Three weeks earlier she had taken her towing vehicle to have its towing hitch serviced where all was pronounced fine.
So one Sunday morning Jackie heads off to a competition and fortunately was going very slowly, thanks to the appalling road we live on, when the float started swaying badly. Somehow Jackie kept her ute upright but the float landed on its side, with two horses in it – one was Jackie’s, one was mine. Thankfully Jackie had put a spare bay between the horses, which turned out to be a real blessing. My horse was at the back and somehow she struggled to her feet and was able to be lead out the back of the float with just some superficial stitching required.
Jackie’s horse meanwhile was upside down and stuck with her head out the front window. Full credit to the makers of the float that it was built well enough to allow the dividers to be pulled out, despite the situation and once the horse was sedated she was able to be dragged out. She was sore and bruised but otherwise basically ok.
So what had happened?
Even though the hitch had just been serviced the ‘R’ clip that holds the pin in, that holds the drawbar in place, had come out. We will never know if it rattled loose on our terrible roads or simply failed.
What we do know is each and every time we hook up a float from now on it will not be a cursory glance we give the the pin. It will be grabbed and rattled. We were so lucky that everyone walked away. So please before you load up those wonderful trusting creatures and take them out so we can all have fun please, please always check your float hitch.
And the most amazing bit of the whole story for me was when we asked my horse to go back on a truck to come home she just walked on. How amazing are horses?
Currently I have nothing to ride, longest I have been off a horses back for over a decade. Strange feeling. Getting a few things done around the house though and the water tank is installed in the float along with the pressure pump, so I can hose my horses off at the float from now on.
Soldier at Will’s
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