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Women & Horses by Mary D. Midkiff - horseback riding fitness techniques for women

Women & Horses, knowledge for the female equestrian; female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

The Women & Horses Newsletter - December 2008

What You Can Give to Your Horse
that Will Make a Difference
by Mary D. Midkiff

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Happy Holidays to all of you!

Here we are again in the midst of the busy but joyous holiday season. For those of us in cooler climates, the horses have their bountiful fur coats on to warm us up when we give them a big hug.

No matter where you are, I highly recommend that you consider pulling your horseís shoes off for at least 4 months every year. This is the time of year that I do it because we arenít as active and riding out on various surfaces every day like the rest of the year.

If you live in an area where the ground freezes and gets hard in the winter make sure you pull your shoes in late October or early November so they have a chance to walk on softer ground while adjusting to the bare feet. If you pull the shoes when the ground is already frozen it is very hard on them to adjust and will take much longer to become comfortable.

Pulling your horseís shoes gives the horseís hooves a chance to grow out all of the cracks, nail holes and pressure points caused by shoeing. The hoof has a chance to fully spread and re-balance over the four months. When you first pull your horseís shoes you may need to use Keratex hoof hardener for a couple of weeks while the hooves toughen up. I also use my Old Mac easy boots for the first 10 days.

My horse is at one month now and I am riding him in the arenas and out in the fields without any notice of him being tender or sore. I go slowly over gravel and over roads if I have to but it doesnít take very long for hoof wall to grow out for protection. Make sure your farrier comes every 6-7 weeks for a barefoot trim.

Another essential way to give to your horse is through dental health. Itís very important that you have your horseís teeth checked at least once per year if not every six months by a professional equine dentist. This is not a person with a rasp filing the horseís teeth. You must employ someone who specializes in this area and is qualified to level the mouth, adjust the bite and glide of the surfaces of the teeth, pull teeth and balance the jaw.

My horse, Redge, has gotten used to a very comfortable mouth and lets me know when he starts to feel sharp edges. He starts resisting having a bit put in his mouth when at all other times he gladly accepts it, tilts his head while eating his grain and is fussy about connection to my hand. Most horses are this way. Once they learn what a comfortable mouth is they wonít accept anything less. Would you?!

By the way, this happened to us recently so I rode him in the bitless bridle, which is a great option to have, until the dentist could get to us.

Horses that have not been properly floated live with constant pain, irritation, inflammation and distress. Remember horseís teeth, unlike ours, keep growing throughout most of their lifetime. The discomfort in the mouth affects everything! Their eating and mastication is compromised, they experience pain in their joints and spine, they get headaches and jaw pain, they develop bracing patterns which set up tight knotted muscles, and their emotional health is fragile. It would be worth it even if you have to trailer to the right professional to have this done at least once per year.

A couple of examples I have seen:

  1. A six year old mare with her wolf teeth, which had never been pulled, growing out beside her molars and poking into the gums and tongue like razors. This mare was well bred, well cared for but never floated.
  2. An eight year old Thoroughbred that was fractious and occasionally would throw himself down on the ground, shaking and panicking had two molars growing out of the same hole on both sides of his mouth. Once the horse was rescued by a friend of mine and a professional dentist worked on him all of this behavior stopped.
  3. A nine year old Thoroughbred on the A-rated show jumping circuit started stopping at fences, rearing and becoming dangerous to ride made his way to a woman who took him home as a freebee. Once his mouth was examined it was discovered he had several infected molars with abscesses, infection and swollen gums. His breath was septic and rotten smelling. (Iíll never forget that smell.) It took a few treatments and daily rinses for a few weeks to make him comfortable again and rideable for a future owner. It makes me wonder, how could these horses that have so much money spent on them suffer from dental issues?

Please have your horseís mouths thoroughly and regularly checked! Itís so important!

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Holiday Gifts

Here are a few websites with my holiday gift recommendations. I know these people personally, use their products, participated in their programs and want to do whatever I can to spread the information and products they have to offer. I hope you will enjoy what they have developed for us and our horses during this holiday giving season.

Be By Dede Ė Beautiful handmade custom brow bands for your horse and inspiring professional photography.

Pro-Bi, the best enzyme compound for horseís digestive health, and other natural products for your horseís health.

Moxie Equestrian Ė Maker of luxurious horse and rider clothing as well as the Horses & Hope vest with proceeds benefiting breast cancer. I have one of the vests and it is beautifully made, warm, attractive and comes in many colors, and it benefits the fight against breast cancer. Click on the rider clothing button.

Kentucky Equine Humane Center - This is the one I am supporting locally, check out your own humane centers as horses are suffering due to the economic slump. Buy hay or feed for the horses at the center, volunteer or adopt one yourself!

Equiscentials - Great all natural products for the horse. I use the body wash instead of detergent shampoos, no soap residue or drying agents, and have seen incredible results with my horseís skin and coat staying healthy. I use the grooming products with my brushes and find they work to prevent static, keep his fur moisturized and soft and he always looks shiny and supple.

Synergist Saddles Ė I have been working with Dave and CJ for years and continue to support their custom made saddles for all disciplines. Even better they are designed to be female friendly.

And of course, my essential oil blend The InBalance Horse is discounted this month to $57.50! Let me know if you want a bottle shipped and gift wrapped to your best friend. Itís all on my website.

Sleigh Bells are RingingÖ

Mary D. Midkiff

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