Category Archives: Horse care

A natural lifestyle and why it’s important to me

So, a little more about this whole natural lifestyle I’m always raving about. Why is it so important to me and so important to the horses? Maybe I’ve just been lucky over the years, but having native ponies, that is, ponies bred in the UK for their hardiness and versatility, it’s just happened naturally. As such, any subsequent horses (even though they will likely have a large proportion, if not all Welsh blood) will surely gravitate towards that lifestyle. Horses, being nomadic creatures, wish to roam vast distances in search of food and water. They require the company and security of their own kind.

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Modern horses often live a life far removed from their not-too distant, wild cousins. Small paddocks for turnout (if any) often pristine and free from ‘weeds’ with just one or two types of grass on the menu. It does frustrate me when I see such pristine lawns. For an animal which is designed to graze for 17 or so hours per day, how dull it must be to have only one or two grasses on which to browse. Nettles? Thistles? Docks? Why they are weeds, unsightly, and must be exterminated! Humans have a perfect, flat, green field which pleases us, but can’t be stimulating for the horses.

We are lucky at our livery yard. In summer there are all manner of ‘weeds’ growing. Nettles around the edges, dandelions dotted about, chamomile by the gate, comfrey down by the river and a few milk thistles every now an then. It is a joy to watch the horses browsing and clearly enjoying the variety.

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Saffron enjoying the nettle & thistle hill (aka the muck heap!)

24/7 turnout is also something I feel quite strongly about. I know a lot of people who do stable their horses at night, and I appreciate they have various reasons for doing do, however personally I would aim for none of mine to be. I realise I have an advantage as such, given that the herd are all natives and better equipped to deal with whatever the British weather throws at them. I just feel that we humans anthropomophise horses too much. Horses are happy to spend their time grazing, wandering about the field, playing etc. and sleep for about 4 hours in 24, not consecutively, but in small ‘cat naps’.

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The girls having a post-breakfast snooze

Do any of you keep your horses naturally? Leave a message in the comments.

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Knocking on Autumn’s door

We’re starting to make preparations for winter (eek!) so lots of tidying of the lower field and generally catching up on jobs that have built up over the summer.

We’re going to smarten ourselves up and head to Bluegate on 26th Sept, 1.5 months of no competitions means Saf has reverted to a rather feral appearance!

Before that I have a lesson this Saturday, and on Sunday we’re all off to the Nationals at Stoneleigh. First time we’ve been so looking forward to being inspired and maybe getting some shopping done too 😉

Here’s a nice pic of Mist and Rosie this morning sharing their hay – cute!12027182_876839499097531_2749203439227385837_o

Thrush Awareness Revolution!

Firstly, I’m no hoof expert, just an interested, if slightly obsessed horse owner. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know that thrush in horses is commonly identifiable as a black, tar-like, revoltingly smelly frog. This is of course true, and something I learned over the years whilst growing up with my own pony. You may know that our four natives are all unshod, it came naturally to 3 of them who were never shod and we never questioned it. Saf has been a little more of a challenge. Learning about barefoot horses is fascinating and I feel like I’ve learned so much about hooves and how they work already. Something I wasn’t aware of in any detail was thrush. Looking at the underside of Saf’s front hooves here as far as I was concerned the was little or no thrush, certainly can’t see any black goo and they smell fine.

                        

However Lucy Priory (Barefoot Trimmer Extraordinaire) saw the photos and commented that there was extensive thrush. Alarmed, I got a tub of Red Horse Field Paste and some soap and water and commenced daily scrubbing and application of said paste.

Around this time I started googling photos of thrush, to see what I was up against. I came across a few photos of a thrush-free frogs, and was astonished. I genuinely don’t remember ever seeing Saf’s frogs looking like that. They have always look liked the above photos and I considered this normal. And there’s the problem. Some lovely people from a facebook group I’m a member of kindly posted some photos of thrush free frogs for me to share with you here. So here they are…

         

Shall we play spot the difference? Saf’s frogs are noticeably narrower at the heel than these. The thrush is eating away at the frog, and causing discomfort, so she’s less inclined to use the back, shock absorbing, part of her foot. I understand they need stimulation to grow so it’s a vicious circle. The central sulcus (the dent in the middle, back of the frog) is deep and closed. There are many worse ones out there, but compare it to the open, flat ones in the thrush-free photos. All those tatty, ragged parts are a haven for thrush so I’m making sure I’m working the paste right in there.

It’s early days yet, but I hope to do an update when I’ve got it under control, and we’ll see what frogs Saf can grow, given the chance!