Monday, 16 February 2015

2015’s most anticipated horse events in the UK

Horses have for centuries been part of the fabric of British society and so there are a good many events and festivals dedicated to them each year up and down the country. From races and trials to shows dedicated to all things horse and horseriding, here we take a look at some of the big horse events coming up in 2015.

Grand National – 11th April – The Grand National has long been the event that everyone in the country gets involved in, whether they have an interest in horseracing or not. It’s not just the UK that watches though, and according to the official website, 600 million people will watch the race live on television. Forty of the best horses and jockeys will take to the Aintree course to run four miles and three and a half furlongs, and will jump more than 30 fences. You can have a flutter at home and watch it on the tele, or try to grab one of the few remaining tickets on sale for the event.

Royal Windsor Horse Show – 13th – 17th May – The Royal Windsor Horse Show in Windsor Home Park has been an annual occurrence for more than 70 years. The five day event combines a wide range of competitive horse riding disciplines, including driving, endurance, jumping and showing. There will also be a huge selection of horsey shopping and entertainment on offer.

Olympia Horse Show – 15th – 21st May – It’s a while off yet, but if you’ve been before you’re probably already looking forward to the Olympia Horse Show. The event in the Hammersmith area of London features everything from dressage and jumping to showing, driving and dog agility, and is a highlight of many horse enthusiasts year.

The FEI European Eventing Championships 2015 - 10th-13th September – This year the regular Blair Horse Trials will be made even more special by the fact that they are playing host to the FEI European Eventing Championship. Expect fierce competition as horses and riders are put through their paces in dressage, cross country and show-jumping events.

Cheltenham Festival – 10th – 13th March The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest events in the National Hunt calendar, second to only the Grand National. It’s a true test of rider and horse performance climaxing with the Cheltenham Gold Cup race. There’s a cornucopia of other events though over the four days, including the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Cross Country Handicap Chase.

Royal Ascot  - 16th – 20th June – The highlight of the year at Ascot racecourse sees the Royal Family and other dignitaries join spectators for racing, pageantry and other entertainments. Expect some grand performances and some fancy hats and outfits to match.

If you’re planning on attending any of these with your own horse, you should of course ensure that your transportation vehicle is properly prepared and that you have an adequate level of horsebox insurance.

Horse events are a fantastic experience and entering racing season is a very exciting thought. Why not comment below and let us know if you’re going to any events.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

First Aid for Colic

Maybe your horse just looks a little off and doesn’t attack his feed like normal, writes Robert N. Oglesby DVM.
Perhaps he occasionally looks at his sides or paws the ground, as the pain worsens he lays down and rolls. If the pain is very severe, he will roll violently.
These are all signs of colic. Colic means the horse has abdominal pain.
There are many different causes but the horse will act the same.

Surgical vs Medical Colic

Veterinarians divide colic into two main types: surgical and medical colics. Surgical colics are displaced segments (twists) of bowel and hard impactions, they require surgery to fix them. Medical colics are usually caused by migrating worm larvae, gas, softer impactions, and occasionally inflammatory bowel diseases. Medical colics will respond to lubricants and pain relievers. Occasionally medical colics will require oral or IV fluids.
Most surgical diseases will mimic medical colic initially and temporarily improve with medical treatment, only to return within the next few hours. If surgery is an option for your horse it is important to get early diagnosis since the horse’s ability to survive surgery lessens as he becomes sicker. The prognosis for surgery is much improved by early referral. Currently, 60% of surgeries are alive after 1 year at most of our educational veterinary hospitals. Early referral will improve these odds.

What To Do Until the Vet Arrives

If you come in to find your horse displaying signs of colic what to do depends on how severe the signs: If the signs are mild:
1.     Take away all his feed, small amounts of water are OK.
2.     The next step is to take his temperature; if he has a fever (above 101) call the vet.
3.     Put a lead rope on him and walk or lunge him at a trot for about 10 to 20 minutes or go for a trailer ride for 30 min. Many mild colics will improve with either of these treatments.
4.     Then put him back in the stall and watch him. If you are unsure about his condition, offer a small handful of feed and see if he will eat it. A colicky horse will as a rule not chew and swallow feed, though he may play with it.
5.     If he is over his bout of colic, continue to check him frequently for 4 to 5 hrs. to make sure the pain does not return. He should not be fed for 12 hours after his appetite returns completely. He should be allowed water.
6.     If he remains painful or you are unsure about his condition call the vet. Even if Old Faithful gets over his pain talk with your vet about possible causes and prevention.
If your horse is very painful you are going to need help.
1.     The first priority is to call the vet.
2.     You would like to prevent the horse from hurting himself and one of the best ways of doing that is to walk him. If the horse is so violent that he is dangerous: stay away; otherwise halter him and walk him until the vet arrives.
3.     If the horse insists on laying down, that is ok so long as he does not roll. Lately many colic specialists have questioned whether rolling causes bowel twists, but until the jury is in, try to prevent it.

This article reprinted with permission from, an internet information resource for the equestrian and horse industry since 1994. On the WWW at we have tens of thousands of documents on the web about horse care, diseases, and training.
First published in 2005
Read more:
Reuse: You may use up to 20 words and link back to this page. Other reuse not permitted
Follow us:@HorsetalkNZ on Twitter|
Horsetalk on Facebook

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

All About Dogs and Chewing

Chewing is a very normal behavior for puppies and dogs. They use their mouths for grasping food, gaining information about the environment, relieving boredom and reducing tension.
Chewing appears to be great fun. However, it could become a major problem when valued objects are damaged.

Why Do Dogs Chew?

When you couple strong jaws with the curiosity and high energy of an exploring puppy, the result is an incredible chewing machine! The speed at which puppies can wreak havoc in a house, and the extent of damage they can do, can really take you by surprise.
There are a variety of reasons why a puppy might chew.
·         Noises behind a wall, such as a high pitched heater motor or the scurrying footsteps of a mouse, might trigger investigative chewing.
·         A delay in feeding time may send a hungry dog off chewing into cabinets as he searches for food.
·         Food spilled on a piece of furniture can cause a puppy to tear into it with his teeth in hopes of finding something tasty to eat.
Dogs make good pets because they have a very social nature and plenty of energy to share in activities with us. In return, we need to provide enough exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction to avoid destructive behavior.

Understanding Your Puppy's World

Puppies usually pass time or relieve boredom by using their mouths, which may result in household destruction. But puppies don't know; they are simply entertaining themselves.
Sometimes we unwittingly contribute to a puppy's problem with improper training. Puppies don't know the difference between old shoes and new shoes, or between stuffed toys and the corner of a stuffed couch.
Likewise, tug-of-war games can set your puppy up to fail. A puppy or dog entertained by tearing a towel is tempted to attack curtains fluttering in a breeze.

What about a Second Pet?

Most often, getting a second pet to help correct a chewing problem isn't the best idea. In some cases, a new pet may distract the destructive pet away from chewing, but it is just as likely that the problems could double, especially if the newcomer is another puppy.

A Little Guidance

The first step in correcting a chewing problem is to guide your puppy's chewing toward acceptable chew toys.
·         Choose a mix of good-quality, safe products. When your puppy shows you what he likes, buy several more of the same type.
·         Hollow rubber toys work well since biscuits can be wedged inside for your puppy to pry out. This gives him a job to do and helps keep his focus away from your possessions.
·         Another way to keep your puppy focused on the toys is to teach him to fetch.
·         Never take proper chewing for granted. Take an active roll in rewarding desirable chewing with lots of encouragement and praise.
Give your pet plenty of praise every time he chews on his toys.

Protecting Your Possessions

Until you can trust your puppy, he must be under constant supervision or confined to a safe area. And even when he's with you, he might sneak off by himself to chew. Consider using a lead to keep him within eyesight. A crate, dog run, or safe room will keep him out of trouble when he can't be watched.
As your puppy is allowed more freedom, he can be taught to avoid forbidden objects if you make them taste bad. Choose an effective, commercial, bitter- or hot-tasting spray to safeguard objects. If he has the habit of chewing specific items, such as clothing, make sure that all clothing is out of reach except one or two items that are sprayed with a bad-tasting spray.
Every day, move the items to new positions around the house. In four or five days, change the type of item. This teaches the dog to leave your clothing alone because he associates them with a bad taste.
"Booby traps" are successful since they punish your puppy during the act and do not require your presence. A stack of empty beverage cans set up to fall over when something moves can be effective in safeguarding certain objects. Motion-activated alarms are often effective in teaching a puppy to stay off furniture or out of plants.

What Not To Do

·         Corrections and reprimands are rarely effective by themselves.
·         Under no circumstances should your puppy be smacked, slapped, kicked, or physically punished in any way. There is a risk he will become hand shy or a fear-biter. Instead, offer a verbal reprimand followed by encouragement to chew on a proper chew toy.
·         To be most effective, the reprimand must be given during the misbehavior and every time it occurs.
·         Reprimands can backfire by either teaching the dog to be sneaky about chewing, or by teaching him not to chew anything, even toys, in your presence.
This information was provided by Wayne Hunthausen, DVM, Director of Animal Behavior Consultations in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
NOTE: Gender has been referenced in this brochure only to enhance readability of the text.
The Iams Company 2006. The Iams Company. All rights reserved worldwide

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Herbs for the nervous horse

Many riders and trainers have resorted to the use of chemical sedatives and tranquilizers to calm their horses, but not only are these products often illegal to use in competitive situations, they can damage the horse’s overall health and well-being.
Judiciously used herbs are a far better alternative for treating the nervous horse, as they often effect a permanent change in temperament, and many are ‘legal’ for competition.
Herbs nourish, strengthen and rebalance the nervous system so that once an anxious horse calms down he no longer reacts to things around him. The actions of sedatives and tranquilizers on the horse’s nervous system are completely different, as they simply block nervous system responses for as long as the drug remains in the horse’s system. This is why they are a ‘one-time fix’ instead of an overall cure.
In a nervous horse, a tranquilizer will dull his reactions and make him physically unable to jump around. The right herb will mean the nervous horse will no longer want to jump around.
In dealing with nervous disorders, there are no ‘magic’ quick fixes. In treating a horse that has a nervous temperament, it’s very important to look at the horse’s whole history – both health and past experiences – such as training, traumas, etc. This gives us the information to combine herbs and other treatments – such as homeopathy, nutrition, and perhaps even a change in training regime or routine – to bring the horse’s whole metabolism back into balance.
Treating the whole horse rather than a specific nervous disorder is important because there is a very close relationship between how a nervous system reacts and responds, and how the horse’s whole metabolism functions.

For example, an imbalance or nervous system disorder can affect the horse’s digestive efficiency, thyroid balance, liver function, spleen function, respiratory efficiency, blood quality, and immunity to infection. These aspects of the horse’s metabolism must all be brought into balance in order for a treatment of serious nervous system problems to be truly effective and long lasting. This is where the advice of a professional herbalist is invaluable in prescribing a comprehensive treatment for each individual case.

Friday, 12 September 2014

40 Ways to Make Your Dog Happy

Have you ever watched your dog sleep? His paws twitch, his tail wags and he lets out little barks. Perhaps he's dreaming of a romp through a meadow or a game of fetch with his best friend. Ever wish you could make him this happy while he was awake? You can. Here are 40 ways to brighten his day - and maybe his whole life.
1. Groom often. Regular brushing doesn't just make your pooch look pretty; it also helps prevent skin disease and can strengthen the bond between you.
2. Feed him like a king. A high-quality food promotes your dog's health and well-being.
3. Banish fleas! These pesky insects can make your dog miserable, plus they can cause allergies and transmit tapeworms. Ask your vet for treatment recommendations.
4. Play each day. Dogs don't understand when you say, "I had a rough day at work and I just want to lie on the couch." Take the time to play; you might be surprised how much better you’ll both feel.
5. Help him age gracefully. Just like you wouldn't feed dog food to a cat, don't let your puppy eat adult food or your senior dog eat puppy food.
6. Keep his water fresh. Would you like to drink water that's been sitting in a bowl for days? Neither does he! Plenty of fresh water is vital to your dog's good health, so keep his water dish full and change it daily.
7. Take a trip. Whether it's a drive out to the country or a quick jaunt to the park down the road, your dog will love the change of scenery.
8. Don't play doctor. Unless you're a vet, don't try to treat your dog's ailments yourself. Medicines meant for humans can have adverse effects on dogs. Your vet can provide appropriate remedies and advise you on keeping a canine first-aid kit handy. It may save your dog's life.
9. Dog-proof your home. Take a dog's view and look for possible dangers your house poses to your pooch. Do you see a dangling electrical cord? An inviting, open cupboard full of cleaning supplies? Sharp tools in plain view? Put away anything that could injure a curious canine.
10. Update your phone list. When you save important numbers in your phone, be sure to include your vet's number, along with the after-hours number in case of an emergency.
11. Walk, walk, walk. The two of you will bond during this time. Plus, walking is good exercise for both of you.
12. Spay or neuter. Neutered pets often lead longer, healthier lives. And it’s good to know that you’re doing your part to prevent pet overpopulation.
13. Keep him slim. A slim, trim dog is a happy dog, so say no to table scraps and yes to exercise. If he needs to lose weight, try feeding IAMS Weight Control Formula. It helps burn fat while maintaining muscle mass.
14. Clip those nails. When his nails get too long, your dog could be in discomfort. Ask your vet to teach you the tricks of trimming.
15. Check those toys. Take a look at the toys your dog treasures. Are they safe and durable? Keep a special eye out for small parts that could be easily swallowed or sharp edges that could injure him.
16. Let him sniff. Dogs love to sniff; it helps them discover new facts about their world. Take your dog to a park, an open field, or your favorite walking trail and let him sniff all the new scents.
17. Fetch! Head out to the garden to toss around a rubber ball or teach your dog to catch a Frisbee.
18. Try to understand his language. Your dog can't tell you how he's feeling, so you need to learn to read his body language. Low-hanging tail? This can mean fear or anxiety. Wagging tail? Happiness, of course! If you keep your eyes peeled, pretty soon you'll be a pooch-language pro.
19. Keep his ears clean to avoid ear problems due to common mites and infections. To clean his ears, fill his ear canal with ear cleaner, massage the base of the ear for 30 seconds, then wipe out the loose debris and excess fluid. Talk to him gently while you're doing this and give him a treat afterward.
20. Make cuddle time. There's nothing quite like curling up with a good dog. Spend some special time holding and hugging your pooch. Let him know how cherished he is.
21. Keep him safe. Millions of dogs get lost each year - make sure your dog isn't one of them. Determine the best identification option for your dog, whether it's a collar tag, a microchip or a tattoo. Make sure you abide by local laws. In the UK all dogs must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner.
22. Give him new chews. Chewing reduces stress and helps decrease barking. Provide your dog safe chew toys to satisfy his instincts.
23. Hit the water. Just about any breed of dog can learn to love water, and some dogs are naturals when paddling around.
24. Play "Find the Treat." Tell your dog to sit and stay, Show him a treat, then put it behind a door or chair or under a towel. Tell him to "find the treat," and praise him when he does.
25. Scrap the scraps. Eating too much human food can cause several problems in dogs, including obesity, intestinal problems, choking and hyperactivity.
26. Snap his picture. Many dogs love to ham it up for the camera. The bonus? You'll have tons of adorable photos to show everyone you know.
27. Chat. Dogs seem to think they're human, so why not treat them like they are? Sit down with your dog for a heart-to-heart. He'll cock his head and listen intently.
28. Beat the heat. During the hot summer months, only exercise your dog in the cooler hours - generally morning and evening. If he's outside during the day, provide a shady area or maybe even a wading pool.
29. Don't dodge doctors. Even if your dog's not a fan of going to the vet, remember that regular checkups are vital to his health.
30. Brush. Taking good care of your dog's teeth can prevent gum disease, tooth loss and bad breath. And the real benefit? Daily dental care can lengthen his life.
31. Bath time. Your dog needs baths, even if he doesn't think so. Make the process as enjoyable as possible by being gentle. Remember to use a dog shampoo formulated to meet dogs' special skin needs.
32. Skip the sweets. You know that old warning about chocolate being poisonous to dogs? It's true. Keep your dog safe by keeping him away from chocolate and sweets..
33. Teach him a new trick. Give your dog a lesson on how to roll over or play dead. He'll be proud to show off his tricky techniques to anyone willing to watch.
34. Be gentle. Don't ever hit, threaten, frighten or force-train your dog. Though he may make a few mistakes (who doesn't?), he is relying on your love to teach him the differences of right and wrong.
35. Bring the blankie. Whether you're taking your dog along on a trip or leaving him with a friend or at a kennel, be sure to bring his favorite blanket. The familiar scent and feel of it will comfort him as he cuddles up and dreams of home.
36. Do a dance. Play a lively song on the stereo and dance with your dog.
37. Be best friends. Treat your dog right and you'll be showered with loyalty, love and friendship - not to mention all those happy, sloppy, one-of-a-kind dog kisses that make your day.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Massage and Muscle Therapy

Massage for your horse is beneficial for many reasons. In days of old, it was a tool used by grooms to help maintain their horses’ health. 

Your horses’ muscles make up 60% of his body weight,and are responsible for movement and healthy functioning of the body.

Problems with muscles do not always make themselves evident directly. Your horse may have a change of behaviour, develop an annoying habit, resist a command or become uneven and display general signs of soreness.

Massage can be used to prevent injury as well as to assist the body repair muscle fibres that have been damaged. Often muscles will the first indication there is something wrong. A muscle contains many fibres and as it contracts and relaxes, if not operating at an optimum, some of these muscle fibres become "stuck" and form a spasm. As the spasm enlarges it causes pressure, and it is the pressure that is a major contributor to the cause of discomfort and pain.

If such a spasm is not removed it will eventually lead to a tear in the muscle or damage to other connective tissue. Unfortunately they do not work themselves out on their own, and quite often the body sets up other areas of resistance so it feels balanced, always trying to maintain homeostasis. If the body can’t fix a problem, it will set up a compensatory effect somewhere else.

The longer a muscle spasm is left unattended, the harder it is to remove. A muscle spasm that has been in the body a week is relatively easy to remove, one that has been there for months or years will take more than one treatment and may need to be maintained if a permanent weakness has been allowed to develop.

If a muscle soreness continues to reoccur, sometimes it may indicate a problem with an underlying organ and you need your Veterinarian to assess your horse, or in the case of performance horses with heavy workloads you may need to discuss hoof issues with your farrier.
Unfortunately our horses are prone to muscle injury. A slip on a trail ride, a new or poor fitting saddle, an old racing injury that has left a weakness, added stress when moving up to more advanced movements in dressage are just a few.

Massage has a role in any horse’s routine.
It will improve the body circulation so as it can promote the healing of injuries. For the athletic horse it is another dimension of training that will enhance muscle tone and increase the range of motion.

Massage will ease out muscle spasms and relieve tension. Often a horse labeled as "stubborn’ or "pig-headed" is just in pain. He is not saying "I won’t", he is trying to tell you "I can’t".
After a session of intense work, such as a competition or race, massage will help your horse recover quickly. It aids the body to eliminate the wastes and toxins that can leave both you and your horse aching after an event.

With "old" injuries you may have inherited when you have purchased a horse, massage can be used to breakdown scar tissue and adhesions.

Once your horse has achieved preferred muscle health it is easy to maintain by including massage within your grooming regime.

A horse with healthy muscles is less likely to sustain an injury and if he is unlucky enough to fall prey to an injury he will recover more quickly.

Healthy Happy Horses, Box 670 Randwick, NSW, Australia.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Could Your Personality Be Reflected in Your Pooch?

The breed of dog a person chooses may mirror his or her own personality and outlook, a new study suggests.

The online survey of 1,000 dog owners by researchers at Bath Spa University in Bath, England, found certain personality traits, such as extroversion, agreeableness andemotional stability, are linked to specific breeds.

The research is to be presented Friday at the British Psychological Society annual meeting in London.

"This study indicates that we might be able to make predictions about someone's personality based on the breed of dog that they choose to own," study author Lance Workman said in a society news release. "It seems likely that personality types are subconsciously drawn to certain breeds."

Researchers divided the breeds owned into seven groups:
·         Gundogs, such as golden retrievers
·         Hound dogs, such as greyhounds
·         Pastoral, such as German shepherds
·         Terriers, such as Staffordshire bulls
·         Toys, such as Chihuahuas
·         Utility, such as bulldogs
·         Working, such as Dobermans

Owners of pastoral and utility dogs were more extroverted, while those who chose gundogs and toy dogs were more agreeable. The study also found those who owned utility, toy and gundogs were more conscientious, while owners of hound dogs were more emotionally stable. Toy dog owners were more open to new experiences.

"The differences in personality factors found between owners of different breeds might arguably be related to the lifestyle of the owner," Workman said. "For example, more extroverted individuals might be better suited to the pastoral breeds such as German shepherd or border collie, whereas those who are particularly emotionally stable might be suited to ownership of hound dogs such as a beagle or greyhound."

The findings and conclusions of studies presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.