16 Equestrian Tips, Tricks & Great Ideas
Keeping a horse is a labour of love, a passion that we throw ourselves into whole-heartedly. And despite all of the dirt and the hard work (maybe because of it!), time spent in a barn with your horse is always time spent well.
Here are a few different tricks, tips and ideas to make your barn-work a little more enjoyable and a little easier.
Soak hay cubes in water
Soaking hay cubes makes them soft and prevents horses bolting their food, which can cause problems with choke. These hay cubes look so good, I wouldn’t mind eating one myself!
Use C clamps as handles when shifting mats.
Stall mats can be very heavy and difficult to move, particularly if you’re doing it yourself. One of the things that makes it so hard is their awkward shape; it’s hard to get a grip. C clamps can be bought relatively cheaply from any hardware store. Attach them to your mat, clamp them down and you have the perfect makeshift handle.
Use a nappy when poulticing a foot abscess.
Nappies are great for this because they wrap around well, they can be attached securely and they’re watertight.
Use olive oil to remove scratches from leather.
Leather is bound to get scratched, but there’s a very simple fix. Put some olive oil onto a rag and rub it into the leather to cover up the scratches.
Use a headlamp for night work.
A lot of you might be onto this one already. The easiest way to see what you’re doing in the stables at night is to use a head lamp. This allows you to keep your hands free while you work.
Baby wipes can do anything.
Baby wipes are incredibly versatile. You can use them to clean yourself up after a ride, you can use them to cool down after a summer expedition (refrigerate, then wipe down your face) and they can be used on your horse. If you have any concerns about how your horse’s skin, buy sensitive skin wet wipes. That way, you can use them for hoof touch ups, wiping down bits and clearing out your horse’s eyes and nostrils.
Use bailing twine as a breakaway system.
Instead of tying your tack directly to your hitching post, use a loop of bailing twine to connect the two. If your horse pulls, the twine will snap instead of your nice leather halter.
Use old rosette ribbons as tail ribbons.
If you’re out and you need to put a tail ribbon on your horse but forgot to pack one, use an old rosette. You’ll need to get the colour right, and you’ll need to overcome your sentimental attachment to the rosette, but if you have no other options, this can do the trick.
Use potties instead of pole cups.
You can buy potties a lot cheaper than you can get pole cups. Try to avoid cheap plastic potties, which can shatter when trampled.
Cut an old milk bottle into a feed scoop.
In a couple of seconds, you can turn an old 2 litre milk bottle into a scoop with a pair of scissors. Just cut around the milk bottle at an angle, keeping the handle intact.
Save old worming syringes and use them to dispense treats.
Fill old syringes with apple sauce to give to your horse. This will get the used to the syringe and make it easier when do have to administer medicine.
Build ventilation gaps into your barn design.
Proper ventilation makes your barn a safer and healthier place for your horses. It will also make them happier and more content.
Use coloured tape to identify your belongings.
This is good for when you’re at shows, but it can also help you distinguish your things when you have more than one horse. You can see quickly and easily which object belongs to which horse.
Save silica gel packets to stop mould growing near your tack.
Save those little packets your get when you buy new shoes or new bags. They absorb moisture and can prevent mould growing. Throw them in your tack box.
Use vet wrap for grip.
Wrap vet wrap around anything you need to stop slipping. This work perfectly for handles and poles.
Add some apple juice to water to encourage your horse to drink.
A little bit of apple juice can encourage your horse to take a drink and get the hydration they need.
Use a soap dispensing dish-wand to whiten your horse.
Fill a dish-wand with whitening shampoo and use it to whiten up your horse’s coat.
What is a ‘Kissing Spine’?
What is a Kissing Spine?
A kissing spine describes a painful condition in a horse, otherwise known as overriding dorsal spinous processes. A kissing spine is usually brought about by poor posture causing the vertical protuberances of each spinal vertebra to rub together, leading to pain and swelling.
Signs of Kissing Spines
Horses with this condition tend to tense their backs under the weight of a rider, thus resulting in a hard and stiff back with little ability to side-bend. From this the horse’s performance will deteriorate and the rider will feel uncomfortable when riding the horse. If the painful structures are jarred by a rider landing heavily on the horses back or by the horse tripping, it can go into a sudden fit of bucking or pigrooting.
As mentioned before, poor posture is a large cause for a horse to develop a kissing spine. Dr Bidstrup views that one of the most common causes of back pain and poor posture is that of the residual neurological effects of birth canal trauma.
Veterinary diagnosis of the condition will generally start with palpation and followed to confirmation with a number of tests. Local anesthetic is injected in between the vertebrae suspected of painful kissing to see if the signs of pain are eliminated from this test. There are many scans that may also be used but they require a large amount of expense. According to Spinal Vet Br Bidstrup in many cases much can be done before such expense could be necessary. He and colleagues of the Australian Veterinary Chiropractic Association believe that kissing spines are part of a complex postural issue, and in most cases is readily treatable by taking the ‘whole horse approach.’
Soreness from kissing spines can be alleviated by rest, and the problem may be resolved by extensive periods of rest. “Many people are too impatient to see this course of action” states Dr Bidstrup. ” And without dealing with the causes the problem is very prone to re-occurrence.”
According to conventional veterinary practice, surgery combined with physiotherapy based on massage and exercises is considered the most successful solution. The kissing spine soreness in some horses can be settled also by the approach of cortisone injections into the spine.