Contemplating the Welfare and Training of Horses

Round-up November 2021

Another month passes and another huge pile of Horsey literature has passed through the inbox in need of study and evaluation. That, the two holidays we have here in France in the first two weeks of November along with other commitments, has pushed publication back a few days… Nevertheless, we are determined to publish at a rate of once a month wherever possible. So grab a coffee and take a little time out to peruse our latest offering:

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We start with that perennial problem, keeping the horse warm.

17 rug hacks to transform your winter – Horse & Hound

Probably the easiest solution is simply don’t rug. After all, nature has provided the horse with hair and a follicular system adapted to creating a cushion of insulating air. Of course, this all falls down when horses are clipped. So maybe we should abandon clipping too – but then the horse will sweat and get cold. Not if he his kept correctly – outdoors in a field (with companions).

Worrying inconsistencies in force needed to break headcollars and safety devices – Horse & Hound

It is good to see an article highlighting this problem but fundamentally, it is less the collars and more the owners that are the problem. Head collars should only be used when the horse is under supervision. It is generally known that cord (sometimes known as ethological) head collars should not be used unsupervised, but this is a rule that should be applied to any headgear. The horse at pasture should not be wearing a head collar but many owners find their horse difficult to catch otherwise; could it be that their own behaviour leaves something to be desired… Further, when attaching the horse, rapid release latches are the preferred solution – even quick-release knots will snag under the strain a horse can place upon them.

Interesting that The Horse published two articles in quick succession on the subject of pain.

How Can I Tell if My Horse is in Pain? – The Horse

Is Your Horse Hurting? – The Horse

How often do we see and hear comments like ‘he is just being lazy’ or ‘he needs to warm up…’ and often from those calling themselves professionals…

Mud fever is the bain of many an owner. But is this article a real surprise?

‘Scratches’-Afflicted Skin Has Microbiota Upset, More Staph – The Horse

Credit : PhotosByGemma
On a light-hearted (albeit serious in conservation terms) note, Marwell Zoo in Hampshire, UK, has welcomed a new arrival: Rare breed zebra foal delights visitors with surprise arrival

Two items from the showjumping world:

HOYS horses spotted sporting liquid titanium hoods

Surely if these horses are stressed out and need such aids, there is something not quite right about their being there in the first place…

Just another competitive ‘horse lover’…
International showjumper banned for using spiked hind boots

No further comment

Researchers Study Blood Test to Find Laminitis-Prone Horses – The Horse

Not sure if this is the answer – surely we should be looking at why these horses display laminitis markers. Knowing that insulin resistance is one of the major factors that leads to a sugar/starch surcharge, that would be a better route of research. But then it would not need blood tests nor special diets which bring in money…or is that being cynical???

Transitioning a Horse to Barefoot for the Winter – The Horse

Good idea – and not just for the winter. What the article omits to mention is that the transition can be made difficult by the damage caused by shoeing; it is not going barefoot that creates the problems, they are already there…

Education on how horses learn may help keep vets safe – Horse & Hound

It is indeed surprising how few equine vets really know how to work with ‘difficult’ horses. But then again, why should they if so many ‘experts’ have no idea either. But behaviour is not the only problem, sadly both these groups often have a limited knowledge of the true needs of the horse…

Credit: Paul Hopkinson

About the first time The Horse has managed to publish something acceptable about the hoof…

How the Horse’s Hoof Functions – The Horse

…but it does beg the question why we continue to shoe…

Another somewhat dubious The Horse article:

7 Dietary Deficiencies in Horses – The Horse

Dietary deficiencies generally result from incorrect management. Simply supplementing is not the answer since this can create further imbalances that demand other supplements that can…ad infinitum

And finally

Concerns over showing judges’ ability to identify overweight and obese horses – Horse & Hound

This is not just a judging problem but when the judges are unable to assess correctly, then it is difficult to expect owners to be able to do so.

Credit : Horse & Hound

Food for thought.


Remember, please do leave any comments you may have upon any of these articles.
See you in December.