Well I had an inkling that this subject may be controversial. There are many devices on the equestrian market that have been in use for so long that people become almost blind to whether such devices should be used. Certain objects become such a familiar sight on yards, or on horses, that they become accepted without question or thought. Spurs, bits, whips, draw reins, and grazing muzzles (to name just a few) seem to fall into the category of what is considered conventional. My main beef with this is that when certain devices are readily available and a familiar sight, no extra thought, research or effort is made to find another option, method or technique to remedy a situation or ailment. Of course this isn’t true of everyone, but novices in particular may unwittingly trust such devices simply because they are commonplace.
Others may also never question something they have been doing, simply because for so many years they assumed it was the correct thing to do. Many of us go through life doing things a certain way, and only question it when someone asks why? I am without doubt guilty of this myself in that I have never ridden bitless. It was never questioned as a child, and I never asked why I was inserting a lump of metal into my horses mouth. Yet riding without a bit is common in the USA, and unfortunately rare in my part of the world. However, in my case I can still learn and appreciate that sometimes there are better ways of doing things, and not always just accepting things, simply because they are normal.
Video – Straight From The Horses Mouth 😉
The horse caught my eye simply by the way it was standing. There was something about its demeanour that seemed off. There was no back leg resting, the head wasn’t lowered and the ears were pinned. Furthermore the horse was tilting slightly backwards to remove the weight off its front legs. This wasn’t a horse at rest, no snoozing was occurring here, it looked like a marble statue. Laminitis seemed obvious, probably likely, but I also considered colic or even overheating, which in some cases can be connected. The most apparent thing about this animal which wouldn’t depend on a vet diagnosis was that it was morbidly obese. I had considered overheating because the horse was a heavyweight native breed of the British Isles…and it was wearing a rug on a mild autumn day. This horse had been clipped but for no real reason that I was aware of, as it could not even be considered to be in light work. Continue reading “Heavyweight Should Not Mean Overweight”
Many horse owners will assume the spring and summer grass will exacerbate laminitis so restrict grazing over the warmer months. However grass will accumulate sugar during the winter which is influenced by the cooler temperatures, over-cast days and longer nights. All of which will impact photosynthesis and respiration in plants. Horses with previous hoof damage from laminitis can also be affected by restricted blood flow during the cold weather, which will impede temperature regulation of the hooves over winter. Something of a double whammy right there.
It is often the case owners will wait until the horse is showing symptoms of laminitis before taking action. Yet laminitis could already be affecting the horse with no outward physical signs. Owners also increase feed quantity over winter instead of taking the opportunity to encourage weight loss in overweight horses.
While extra fibre may be beneficial over winter adding extra calories could be detrimental to the horse’s health, so take careful consideration over what horses are consuming to reduce the risk. While many horses adapt to the cold weather without issue, horses with circulatory hoof damage will experience pain as blood supply is restricted (Kellon E 2017).
Laminitis is a complicated disease and causation can be multitudinous although studies continue. While science may not have all the answers yet it is certain that preventative measures should be taken over 12 months of the year, rather than just over spring and summer.
Kellon E (2017) Combating Winter Laminitis, Horse Network [ONLINE] Available at:
(Accessed 25th September 2017)