Past Blog Entries

BLOG entries from our former site.


Some people prefer to shoe during peak riding time and remove the shoes for the winter and some prefer to have their horses remain barefoot year round. With the advances in hoof protection technology, the options for non-steel hoof protection are vast and high tech, and alternative hoof protection can permit a longer riding season.

As the colder weather approaches, the horse’s hoof growth begins to slow down, but there is still a requirement for regular hoof maintenance. Allowing the hoof to over grow during the winter can set your horse up for months of needless recovery come spring. Consider trimming every 6-7 weeks instead of 4-6 weeks. This will ensure your horse’s hoof distortion, as it grows, is kept in check, and your hoof boots will continue to fit and your horse will have a good hoof in the spring when you are ready to get back into full time riding.

For fun winter riding, Hoof Boots, such as the Easyboot line can be outfitted with tungsten carbide studs and comfort pads to permit safe winter riding on the snow and ice. During the warmer months, often 2 boots can be used for the front hooves, but if you are using studded winter boots, it is best to boot all 4 hooves. The hind hooves should have as much grip as the fronts, which will avoid dangerous “slip-outs” with the back legs.

Some interesting changes that occur in the hoof during the colder months include deeper sole concavity with the horses walking in snow, a slightly smaller hoof size due to reduced concussion and more apparent periople and color changes.

Some things to watch for as the weather gets colder and wetter are thrush, scratches (aka mud fever) and white line disease. Although these concerns can crop up at any time, horses tend to move less in the winter and contend with wetter conditions. I find that a daily dusting of extra strength Gold Bond foot powder around the pastern can stop mud fever in it’s tracks, and act as a preventative. Treating thrush successfully can be tough and a long process. It is easier to prevent thrush by preventively keeping your horse’s frogs clean and regularly doused with one or more of the following: mouthwash, Gold Bond powder, oregano oil, Hypozin zinc ointment, or GSE preparation (grapefruit seed extract). Thrush is not just one type of fungus/bacteria, and therefore it is beneficial to keep a variety of preventative treatments on hand. A side note: preventative treatments for thrush may be too harsh for active thrush, as the tissues of the frog become very sensitive. Please be sure you know in advance if your horse’s hooves are currently infected with thrush.

Be prepared for faster growing hooves starting around February and adapt your hoof trimming cycle accordingly.

Happy Snowy Trails!



Tick Horse



Tick species can be found throughout the world, but they tend to be more densely populated in areas with warm, humid climates.  They can however still be found in areas with cold winters and warm summers.  The warm summer weather causes ticks to become more active, making your horse more susceptible to tick bites.  Ticks are small insects that attach to your horse’s skin and feed on their blood.  They can cause irritation and may also transmit diseases such as Equine Piroplasmosis, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichia or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  In cases where there is an extreme infestation, the horse could also suffer from blood loss.

You should check your horse thoroughly in the summer if you live in an area known to have ticks, especially if your horse is out in a pasture with tall grass and trees.  Ticks on horses are often found in the ears, armpits, in between their back legs and on their tail head.  If you discover a tick, you should remove it immediately.

How to Remove Ticks: – Put on a pair of gloves.  Ticks can also infect people – Using tweezers, grip as close to the head of the tick (embedded in the skin) as possible, and pull straight back in a firm, steady motion.  Do not yank or twist the tick, as you do not want the head to break off and remain in the skin – Dispose of the tick in a sealed jar of rubbing alcohol, or place it in a plastic bag in a freezer if you are concerned about disease transmission and want to be able to identify the tick later – Clean the area where the tick was feeding with an antiseptic cream. – Watch the area for a few days after removal to ensure that there is no additional swelling or irritation.  If there is any, phone your vet.

The best way to prevent ticks is to use a repellent.  There are commercial tick repellents that are available, however they contain quite a few chemicals so be sure to read the labels to make sure they are safe to use on your horse.  Some natural repellents for ticks include Tea Tree Oil, Peppermint Oil and Rose Geranium Oil.  Gold Bond powder has also been used by some horse owners as a deterrent.

It’s finally getting warm and the grass is looking green! Hopefully your horse has shed out all of his winter woolies and you are ready to get out and conquer the trails.

If your horse will be starting to graze, you may see a change in his hoof sensitivity, energy level or belly shape – as your horse ages, these changes may turn into more than just an annoyance. Very real health concerns, including lameness and colic, can occur with the introduction of richer spring grass.

Most people think this is an unmanageable fact of their horse’s life. However, with a bit of creative fencing and carefully timed grass exposure, you and your horse can have a much more comfortable life – especially in the early spring.


Factors that affect the amount of sugar in the grass & resulting hay include:

– Amount of water the grass gets and at what time of day. Parched grass is stressed and tends to have higher sugar content than well hydrated and well fed grass.

– The time of day and strength of sunshine. 3am to 10am is the best time to graze your horse, as the grass is lower in sugar. Extremes of temperature between day and night give rise to higher sugar counts in grasses.

– The strain of grasses. Warm climate strains of grasses typically have a lower fructan than cold climate strains of grass

– Your latitude. Minor temperature fluctuations, as seen in warmer U.S. states affect grass by keeping sugars to a minimum, as the grass is less stressed. Comparatively, places like the Canadian prairies, can have very hot days and cold nights which stress the grass.

– The nutrition available for growing grasses. Grass stress can also be aggravated by lack of correct nutrient balance or PH in the soils. Proper fertilization is key to healthy growth – meaning lower sugars.

– Age and height of grass. In general grass that has matured with coarser stems and complete heads is lower in sugar.

– Number of animals consuming the grass. If you can say: “he is on a pasture with almost nothing … just weeds and stubble”, beware! Weeds and stubble can contain as much as 3 times the sugar content as healthy, non stressed grass.


Other factors affecting how the horse handles the sugars in the grass and hay include:

– Breed of horse.  If you are in Canada or the Northern USA and your horse’s breed originates from a warm climate country, such as South America, you will likely need to pay far closer attention to his diet, as his ancestors spent many generations becoming very efficient at utilizing nutrients from fibrous, non fructan feed. Your local grass and hay will be far richer than his body can comfortably handle.

– Overall health of horse.  Consider worm load, mineral deficiency or illness. Sometimes a new load of hay which is higher in sugar can trigger laminitis in a horse who is already stressed.

– Energy output of the horse.  Most of us feed our horses much richer feed than the horse requires, and combined with added sugar from the grass can lead to excess energy.

– Age of the horse.  Older horses are more prone to fluctuations in feed changes and sugar loads in their feed.

There some supplements which can help your horse cope with richer grass or hay. Some horses do well with having their hay soaked, which removes most of the sugars. The best bet is to have each load of hay tested for nutritional content and NSC (non structural carbohydrates).

In recent months you will hardly fail to notice that magnesium is very much talked about in the horse world. Supplements, feeds and licks are often fortified with it and it is said to cure many things from spooking to laminitis. Some barefoot trimmers have even been heard to say “you can’t allow your horse to go barefoot if you don’t feed magnesium”. This article will, I hope, debunk many myths and allow you to make an informed choice about whether your horse needs magnesium.

Magnesium is a vital mineral which is freely available in grass. It has over 3,000 known uses in the body, assisting with everything from regulating blood sugar levels to formation of hormones and enzymes, production of muscle tissue, conversion of glucose to energy, maintenance of a healthy nervous system and formation of bone and red blood cells. It’s no wonder that magnesium is taking up so much attention.

Magnesium is a calmer isn’t it?

Magnesium has been sold as a calmer for many years now. The reason for this is that when a horse becomes deficient they often become spooky and stressed and magnesium is needed to help produce some of the hormones needed to dampen down the adrenalin response. This can start a vicious circle. The horse gets stressed and uses what little magnesium reserves it has to dampen down the stress response. The less magnesium in the system, the more stressed the horse becomes and the more magnesium is needed to dampen down the stress.

Other signs of deficiency

Lack of magnesium in the diet can lead to increased respiratory rates (the horse takes more breaths per minute), muscle tremors, loss of appetite and aggressiveness or ill temper. It is thought to be linked to grass sickness, stringhalt and azoturia. More recently a link has been made between magnesium deficiency and laminitis. Because magnesium is crucial to the deposition of calcium into the bones, magnesium deficiency can also produce all of the problems associated with calcium deficiency.

Why do horses become magnesium deficient?

It’s all a question of balance. Magnesium deficiency in the UK was comparatively rare before the introduction of chemical fertilisers. The most common type of chemical fertiliser is NPK which contains Nitrogen, Potassium and phosphorus, all of which will unbalance the diet when fed in excess.


Nitrates have been shown to deplete magnesium levels in the soil as well as inhibit magnesium uptake in the gut.


It is well known that calcium and phosphorus need to be balanced with each other. For every gram of phosphorus, you need at least 1.7 grams of calcium. When chemical fertilisers push phosphorus levels too high, it causes an unbalanced ratio which prevents magnesium uptake.


Potassium has very little attention paid to it. This is because until recently it was assumed that, as potassium is plentiful in British grass, and excesses are excreted in the urine, excesses or shortfalls are rare. However, more recent research shows that potassium needs to be balanced with sodium, in the same way that calcium and phosphorus need to be balanced. If sodium levels in grass are normal, but potassium levels are excessively high, it will cause an imbalance which inhibits magnesium uptake. Because sodium (salt) intake is too high in in human diets, we often avoid feeding it to our horses which can cause sodium levels to drop too low.

As well as fertilizers, other vitamins and minerals have been found to have a close relationship with magnesium.

B Vitamins

Although some of the B vitamins are found in grass and hay, they are mainly produced by the microflora in various parts of the horse’s digestive system. When a horse’s digestive system becomes unbalanced –for instance through excessively high levels of carbohydrate, insufficient fibre or gastric ulcers, manufacture of these vitamins will be disturbed. Recent studies have shown that vitamin B6 in particular is required to aid absorption. Although no B6 deficiencies have ever been recorded, it has been found that supplementation with vitamin B6 will aid absorption of magnesium.


An excess of calcium can depress magnesium uptake, but similarly an excess of magnesium can inhibit calcium uptake.


Although fluoride is not a nutrient as such, it has been found that where water supplies have been impregnated with fluoride salts, it can render both magnesium and calcium inert in the body.

Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)

The nationally recognized RDA of magnesium is quoted as about 10g daily. However, this is based on research carried out on cows. Some researchers are now beginning to think that a horse’s requirement is higher –as much as 15g daily.

What happens if I feed too much magnesium?

This is the important bit, because now that people are more aware of the importance of magnesium, there is a danger of feeding too much.

At very high levels, a horse can develop diahorrea, although this is rare. More commonly, high magnesium levels will inhibit uptake of calcium and phosphorus. You see, it’s all a question of balance. Applying a “one size fits all” solution to equine nutrition simply doesn’t work.

So how do I feed magnesium safely?

First of all, ask yourself why you think your horse needs magnesium. Not all horses are deficient. If they are grazing on grass that has not been chemically fertilised for at least 15 years, eat organic meadow hay, have a diet that includes non-molassed sugar beet and/or Alfalfa (both of which are good sources of calcium) and likes to lick his salt lick, the chances are that your horse will be able to obtain all the magnesium he needs from the grass.

Sources of magnesium

There are many ways to add magnesium into the diet –some are more effective than others.

Epsom Salts

These are high in magnesium, and are often used to help with acute cases lf laminitis. However, they must not be fed long term as they will cause kidney problems.


A rock that is high in magnesium oxide. It’s not that easy to get hold of in the UK and purer sources of magnesium oxide are now much more readily available.


A cheap and popular way to feed magnesium to cows. It stands for “Calcined Magnesite”. Calcination is the process whereby magnesite ore is “cooked” to decompose the mineral, leaving behind high levels of magnesium. However, because it is relatively impure it appears to be absorbed by cows far more efficiently than it is absorbed by horses –possibly because cows have more stomachs!

Magnesium Oxide

I keep Magnesium Oxide in the car because it is by far the most efficient way I’ve found to get magnesium into a horse. I use human food grade magnesium oxide (usually destined for the magnesium tablets you find in health food shops). I use the finely ground magnesium which the horse seems to absorb most efficiently. You can obtain some from It’s called Magnesium Oxide (Light). The basic rule of thumb for a standard dose is to take the weight of the horse in kg, remove the last 0 and that’s the amount to feed in ml.

For example, a 500kg horse would need 50ml daily, preferably split into two feeds. The feed scoops you find in supplements usually have the volume in ml written on the handle but it probably equates to about a rounded dessert spoon daily. NOTE : This ONLY relates to feeding Magnesium Oxide (Light). Feeding other types of magnesium at this level could seriously unbalance the horse’s diet. Also, make sure you dampen the feed as it’s a bit like talcum powder and will blow everywhere otherwise.

If after 6 weeks you see no difference in your horse’s wellbeing, you may find that magnesium deficiency wasn’t the problem and you can stop feeding it. Similarly, often when a horse is in a vicious cycle of depletion, once they have replaced their missing magnesium they have no requirement for continued supplementation.

Equine Magnesium Supplements

These tend to be very overpriced for what they are and do not deliver the magnesium in realistic quantities. I cannot advise on how much to feed as each product has a different magnesium level.

Magnesium Chloride

There are many articles on the internet which say that Magnesium Chloride is taken up much more efficiently than Magnesium Oxide. This may be true, but as magnesium oxide turns into Magnesium Chloride as soon as it hits the stomach, I’m not too worried. Both produce good results. My favourite source is from Roger Hatch at Trinity Consultants His P45 supplement contains a variety of goodies, including high levels of Magnesium Chloride which have proven to quite literally be a lifesaver in some laminitis cases.

What’s all this got to do with hooves?

When a horse does not wear shoes, their level of sensitivity to stones and uneven surfaces will fluctuate with the seasons. Often a horse will be striding confidently over gravel one week, then picking their way gingerly the next, then sound as a pound a week later. In the old days, horses who did this were just assumed to need shoes which appeared to solve the problem. However, since owners became interested in keeping their horses without shoes, they began to ask why it was happening, and to see if it could be resolved without resorting to shoes.

One of the benefits of Equine Podiatry is that our practitioners take records of changes in diet and management and relate that to the level of comfort that a horse shows. Following research by Sue Kempson at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies near Edinburgh, she was finding good results in the treatment of laminitis using magnesium supplementation. As we were beginning to suspect that many of these intermittently footsore horses showed subtle, but distinct symptoms that we were beginning to refer to as “Low Grade Laminitis” we began to use magnesium supplementation to see if it helped.

Not all horses improved, but a significant number did. Not just their comfort levels, but hoof health and shape improved too. Some horses would go from being very sore indeed to completely sound within days of beginning their supplementation. Owners often also reported that their horse showed improved skin health, respiratory problems eased and the horse’s temperament became more relaxed.

We often use magnesium in the treatment of full blown laminitis and it has been found to have a significant effect in the majority of cases. Unfortunately, it is usually only part of the problem and therefore doesn’t offer a magic cure, although there have been some miraculous recoveries recorded simply through supplementation.

So, in short, Magnesium is a very important mineral which can have a profound effect on the health of your horse, but only if your horse is deficient in the first place.

Jayne Hunt

The birds are singing and the sun is out… time to ride! But consider what shape your horse’s hooves are in before you hit the trails.  Your horse’s hooves will be in a softened state and in need of re-conditioning to be at their best for the demands of performance later in the season.

Just as his muscles need to be developed gradually after a winter off, so do your horse’s hooves.

Hoof boots are an excellent way to protect your horse’s external hooves while their internal structure becomes accustomed to the increased blood flow and concussion associated with increased work. Hooves will tend to increase in size and sole concavity as the season wears on, so be prepared to re-assess hoof boot sizing later in the spring and early summer.

As the ground hardens, the fresh grass quantity begins to increase. This can be a detrimental combination for some horses. Fresh grass, especially if overgrazed or grazed during times of other growth stress can be very high in sugars which can wreak havoc on your horses whole system. This in turn will affect your horse’s soundness and digestive comfort.

Keep all grain and starch supplements to a minimum, if not eliminated, until your horse requires it for extra energy during peak performance demands. Ensure your horse has access to free choice loose salt and minerals, and lots of opportunity for playing and running.

It is easy sometimes to become overly eager to enjoy the spring weather on the trail more than your horse’s hooves are conditioned for. Try to resist the temptation to shoe your horse with steel as a way to fast track his hoof “comfort”. There are so many improvements in hoof protection and support for alternative trimming that a horse need not ever have another nail put into their hoof.

The main factor that affects your horse’s soundness is what goes into him. Other products that help soundness include thrush treatments (assume your horse does have or will get thrush), pea gravel to walk on in the paddock and a set of properly fitted hoof boots to use when needed. Learning to “read” your horse’s hooves and handle a rasp to touch up when needed is valuable as well.

Associated articles / reference: Pete Ramey Hoof Rehab EasyCare Safer Grass Swedish Hoof School




There are many advantages to using bitless alternatives. Horses are better able to eat and drink on the trail, there is less chance of dental damage or dental interference, riders with sloppy hands are less likely to confuse or hurt the horse and many horses respond extremely well to the cues from bitless pressure, show a softness and are less likely to toss their head. Riders often take more time to become adjusted to riding bitless than the horse requires.

We are often asked by customers if we have a “hackamore” they could purchase for their horse. It is like asking for a “bit” – there are so many options and considerations before making a decision on the best one for the horse.

Riding Halter

Let’s start with the mildest of bitless options, the riding halter. Usually made of ¼ to 5/16″ rope with a more snug nose than a typical rope halter, and adjusted to fit lower on the horse’s nose, the reins usually attach at the loops behind the chin, but can have other attachment points, depending on the model. The pressure from this halter is a familiar one to almost any horse, as the halter is the first piece of equipment most every foal gets used to. Indirect reining is the best way to ride with the rope halter. Riding halters can sometimes have knots on the nose piece that correlate to sensitive nasal areas.

 Side Pull

Side pulls or Lindells, use a more rigid nose piece and are designed to have the reins attach on either side of the horse’s nose, with adjustment of the nose and being snug, but not tight. The semi rigid nose band communicates the rider’s aids better than a soft nose piece and puts pressure on the nasal bones of the horse. It would be very difficult to harm a horse using a side pull.

Multi point bitless bridle – like Dr. Cook and Nurtural bridles rely on more than one point of pressure on the horse’s nose, jaw and sometimes poll to offer cues. Used correctly, this type of bitless bridle is a kind and effective alternative to a bit. The straps that run though the rings on the side of the nose piece can get hung up and not release, if there is constant pressure or the straps get caked with dirt. Direct reining is the most usual way to use these types of bridles

Cross under Hackamores operate by placing pressure aound the horse’s senstive nose and chin areas only.


The Bosal, also known by many other names, is a traditional piece of cowboy equipment that does not look complicated, yet is capable of sending very exact signals to the horse. Made of braided rawhide with a rawhide core (some have cable cores) the bosal is available from pencil thin to ¾ and even 1″ thickness. Bosal use should be carefully considered, as the shape, weight, size and balance all make a difference. The bosal is traditionally used along with a mecate made from cotton, hair rope or yacht rope and fiador which supports the bosal in the correct position. Reining for the bosal is exclusively indirect, with the reins attaching to the bottom of the bosal just above the heel knot. The bosal engages on the horses chin, nose and jaw with a slight rotational pressure which tilts the horses head in the direction of the indirect rein turn. Unlikely to cause damage from correct use, although not recommended for extended rides without protective padding to reduce abrasion. In the same family as the bosal is a hinged metal version called a “vosal”.

 S Hack

 The next family of bitless bridles are the mechanical hackamores. The leverage action of some mechanical hackamores can be strong enough to really harm a horse. It is important to consider the length of shank. Longer shanked hackamores should only be used by very expeienced and kind hands.

Wheel Hackamore – Sensation Ride™ Floatation Hackamore

Wheel mechanical hackamores, without any shank, are very kind to the horse and have an immediate release after the pressure is removed from the reins. Wheel hacks are great for sensitive horses or riders with inexperienced hands.

A nice way to transition your horse from bitted to bitless is to ride with both the bit and bitless bridle and 2 sets of reins. If given the chance, most horses will willingly respond to a bitless cue before needing a bitted cue.

Links of interest:


Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is method of scoring horses based on various factors to help determine if a horse is a healthy weight, and to aid in monitoring weight loss/gain.  It was developed by Dr. Don Henneke in 1983 who created a scale that rates horses from 1 (Poor) to 9 (Obese).

It is a useful system to use when going into winter to determine how much to increase your horse’s feed and when to begin to decrease it.  It also helps owners to maintain the best weight for their horses while they are in training and competing.

BCS is done by judging the amount of fat located on a horse in specific locations.  While BCS can be done visually, without putting your hands on the horse and feeling for fat deposits, your score will likely be off by a couple of points.

The areas used in BCS are: – Along the neck (crest) – Along the withers – Crease down the back (is the spine prominent, or is there fat rising up on either side creating a crease) – Tail head – Ribs – Behind the shoulder

 Score Description

1. Poor Extremely emaciated. Vertebrae, ribs, tailhead, hipbones and bones just below and on each side of the tail are projecting prominently.  The bone structure of the withers, shoulders and neck are easily noticeable.  No fatty tissue can be felt.
2. Very Thin Emaciated. Vertebrae have slight fat covering over them.  Ribs, hips and tailhead are prominent.  Withers, shoulders and neck structures are faintly discernible.
3. Thin Slight fat cover over the ribs, but ribs are still discernible.  Tailhead is prominent, but individual vertebrae cannot be easily seen. Hips are slightly more rounded.  Withers, shoulders and neck accentuated.
4. Moderately Thin Negative crease along back.  Can see a faint outline of ribs.  Tailhead may or may not be visible depending on conformation and fat can be felt around it.  Hipbones cannot be seen.  Withers, shoulders and neck are not obviously thin.
5. Moderate No crease in back.  Ribs cannot be easily seen, but can easily be felt.  Fat around the tailhead is slightly spongy.  Withers look more rounded, shoulders and neck blend smoothly into the body.
6. Moderately Fleshy Slight crease down back.  Fat over ribs feels spongy.  Fat around tailhead feels soft.  Fat deposits are beginning to appear along the side of the withers, behind the shoulders and along the sides of the neck.
7. Fleshy Crease down back.  Ribs can be felt, but there is fat filling in between the ribs.  Fat around tailhead is soft.  Fat deposits are present along withers, behind shoulders and along the neck.
8. Fat Crease down back.  Ribs are difficult to feel.  Fat around tailhead is very soft.  Area along withers is filled with fat.  Area behind shoulder is filled with fat.  Neck is starting to thicken.  Fat deposits are present along the inner thighs.
9. Extremely Fat Obvious crease down back.  Patchy fat appearing over ribs.  Bulging fat around tailhead, withers and behind shoulders and along neck.  Fat is noticeable along inner thighs and may rub together.  Flank is filled with fat. 
Ulcer Check



I recently discovered with my own horses just how severely ulcers can affect a horse. We recently had a horse join us from Arizona and he was not his usual self. Not only was he avoiding our contact, he also had leg edema (unusual), rough haircoat and was walking very gingerly. He was also not eating well. He had moved from the trainers to us enduring a 3 day trailer ride from a place where warm weather (low glycemic) grasses are used to make the hay. In Canada, our hay and grass varieties are much richer. Combine all the factors and the conditions were perfect for a bad ulcer. So bad, that I was worried my horse had an infection of some kind.

Frequent symptoms of an ulcer are resistance to grooming on the barrel, restlessness, nervousness, girthiness, tying-up, tail swishing, soreness over the loins, reluctance in moving downhill, difficult to catch, irritability and bloating. The symptoms are not limited to these few, and often horses with behavioural issues can be improved greatly with the right ulcer treatment. I have personally seen head shy horses improve with a diet change toward treating an ulcer.

It is becoming more well-known that horses need to be kept in a natural living condition for their overall health. This includes access to free choice roughage at all times. A horse secretes digestive juices constantly, and unless these are buffered with roughage – which also reduces acidity of the stomach and hind gut, the acid can literally eat holes in the lining of the stomach or intestine. If perforation occurs, a whole new set of health issues can crop up.

Horses under stress, whether it be physical such as a trailer ride, competition, foal birth or change in diet, or mental – such as the loss of their routine, home or friend should be considered for preventative ulcer treatment. Your veterinarian should be able to help you with medication, but a diet high in gut soothing ingredients is also recommended.  This includes:

– Ground flax seed or chia seeds – Ulcerex – Aloe vera juice – Alfalfa – Less coarse hay – No grains, fruits or sweets – Free choice feed 24/7 – slow feeder hay nets are great for this! – Magnesium oxide (check with your vet before feeding for correct dosage)


Thrush affects most horses to some degree multiple times in their life – and often we are not aware it is thrush, we just know that our horse is “off”.

When it comes to hoof form, I have seen thrush affect a horse so much, that their hoof walls change angle just because the horses are attempting to avoid the pain that thrush causes, this in turn changes their way of moving, which affects hoof form. This change in their way of moving also affects their shoulder and back muscles, often leading to a trip to the tack shop to shop for a new saddle, because the old one stopped fitting. Deep thrush can invade the digital cushion to the degree that a horse requires months to recover.

Photo courtesy of

When we think of thrush, typically we are looking for a blackened & shrivelled frog, deep collateral grooves and a distinct smell. Thrush is not always so obvious and can originate from many different bacteria and fungi.

Two signs that seems to be universal with thrush is that a horse will avoid landing flat or on their digital cushion at the heel and their central frog sulcus will be deep and narrow . An exception to this would be a horse suffering from laminitis. Laminitic horses often have thrush along with laminitis and land heavy on their heels to avoid pain in the frontal hoof.

Thrush can strike during any season and under any conditions.

 We suggest treating your horse to prevent thrush, rather than waiting until it occurs by adhering to the following:

– A diet low in sugar and starch

– Daily cleaning of the hoof

– Application of an antiseptic (such as mouthwash) or zinc barrier such as Hypozin frequently – also when using hoof boots.

– Altering the PH of the area your horse frequents (test soil)

– Ensuring your horse has a balanced trim

– Providing a dry place to stand in the wet months

– Removing infected frog material

– Treating your horse for ulcers or hindgut acidosis for stubborn cases

– Using a soaking boot to bathe the hoof with White Lightning or 25% apple cider vinegar solution

If your horse does have thrush, remember that his frog and digital cushion are very sensitive and caution should be used with your treatment. Always consult your veterinarian if you are unsure.


Horse First Aid Kit


Equine First Aid Kit



A properly stocked Equine first aid kit is one of the most important things you can have in your barn.  When you have an equine emergency, you do not want to be sending someone running into town to try and find supplies.  Having a properly stocked kit and knowing how to use everything in it will allow you to treat your horse until your vet arrives or deal with minor wounds on your own.


The first thing you should do if you notice your horse is injured or appears to be in distress (ie colicing) is take their TPR – Temperature, Pulse and Respiration.  You should know the resting TPR for every horse you work with so you are able to compare results when the horse is sick or injured.  Keep a list of each horse’s resting TPR somewhere easily accessible, along with a sheet that lists the normal values for horses. The equipment you need take a horse’s TPR are; a thermometer, vaseline, a stethoscope, a stop watch and pen and paper.  Your thermometer should have a string and hair clip attached to it, so you can secure it to the horse’s tail while taking their temperature.  The vaseline is used to lubricate the thermometer.


Antiseptic soap such as hibitane, sterile saline solution, fly repellent such as Swat or Fiske’s, dilute Betadine (1 part Betadine/99 parts water) and hydrogen peroxide (1.5% solution, usually bought in 3% from drugstore)

Bandage Material

Sterile gauze, Vetwrap, Gamgee, Bandaging quits and wraps, adhesive tape, plastic wrap, duct tape, gauze roll. Bandaging a horse’s leg correctly takes a lot of practice, and when done incorrectly can cause more harm than good.  It is a good idea to learn how to properly bandage and then get in the habit of practicing your bandaging frequently. This will ensure you are comfortable with how to apply a leg bandage, and your horse will also get used to the process and learn to stand still for you.


Gloves, flashlight (with batteries), contact number for your vet and farrier, paper and pens/pencils, hoof pick, duct tape, clean towel, contact number for someone with a trailer (if you do not have your own), reference book for equine first aid, a clean bucket and sponge.


Only store medications in your first aid kit if you know how and when to administer them.  You should always consult with your veterinarian before giving your horse any type of medication. Bute – a non-steroid anti-inflammatory and pain reliever Banamine – an anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxer and fever reducer. Syringes and proper gauge needles for administering them.

Download our Equine First Aid Checklist