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Learn How To Read Horse Body Language

Learn How To Read Horse Body Language

How to Read Horse Body Language?

Do you ever wonder if your horse is trying to tell you something? People and horses form such strong connections because we are both intelligent, expressive creatures who communicate with verbal and physical cues. Horse body language can be expressed throughout their entire body, which is amazing – so how should we interpret it as horse owners?

Listen Up!

Ears are a very telling part of horse body language. As you may guess, when the ears are pinned back, they are angry or nervous. Do not approach the horse in this state, or you might get a nasty bite or kick.

As you’re training your horse, you may notice that your horse is more likely to listen when their ears are forward and alert – this means that they are interested and engaged in what’s in front of them. This is a good equine communication indicator that your horse is ready to listen.

When your horse is relaxed, you’ll notice that their ears are turned to the side. They may not be paying attention to anything, in particular, so be careful not to startle them. Make yourself known (calmly – no surprise hugs!) to avoid any negative reactions out of fear.

The Tale of Horse Tails

On the opposite end of the ears, lives the tail. Horses use their tails more than to just keep flies away – but it isn’t always easy to read what they’re trying to say. For example, slow, occasional swishing is normal behavior. But if you notice fierce, faster swishing, your horse is probably annoyed. 

If you see their tail tucked tightly against their rear end, they are nervous and afraid. This is a pretty obvious sign that you should check in and think about how to make your horse more comfortable. It is not wise to get too close to them when they are feeling threatened like this. 

When your horse is carrying its tail high, it’s on high alert. This could be accompanied by forward-facing ears – your horse is very interested in something. But do be mindful – some breeds of horses have naturally higher placed tails that may look like they are alert when they are actually relaxing.

Understanding Horse Vocalizations

Horses communicate with their voices, too – just like humans! Keep in mind that every horse communicates differently, but here are a few categories of sounds you may hear while chatting with your equine friend:

Examples of Positive Horse Vocalizations:

  • Nickering (a soft, low sound that comes from the throat)
  • Neighs 
  • Winnies 

You can usually tell when your horse is happy. If they trot over to you, nuzzle you, or follow you, you know that they are content and that they like you (or they just really want that carrot in your hand).

Examples of Negative Horse Vocalizations:

  • Squealing
  • Aggressive Snorting 

When horses feel immediately threatened, you may hear squealing accompanied by thrashing, ears back, and biting. If a horse is unsure but doesn’t feel quite right, they might be snorting and shaking their head. This could happen if they sense that something isn’t right. 

Knowing these cues can help you better understand your horse and form a better connection. Remember to never approach a scared horse, and give them lots of positive feedback when they are friendly towards you. If you have any questions about your horse’s health, contact the team at BRD Vet Rx – we’d love to hear from you.

What is Ringbone in Horses & Why Is It Bad?

What is Ringbone in Horses & Why Is It Bad?

What is Ringbone?

As they age, horses will wear on their leg joints and hooves from day-to-day activity. Eventually, this can lead to a degenerative arthritis condition called Ringbone. It affects the pastern and coffin joints, also known as the high and low ringbone. Ringbone in horses starts when joint inflammation occurs, leading to pain and lameness. 

Signs of Ringbone in Horses

Lameness is one of the first signs of Ringbone. Horses that have a more upright hoof angle are more likely to suffer from Ringbone because they don’t absorb impact as well and put more weight on the joints. In more advanced cases, you may notice a bony, swollen mass surrounding the high or low ringbone. 

The mass will be hard (bony) when you press on it, and pressure will not hurt your horse. Sharp pain will occur once the affected joint is flexed – but don’t try this yourself. Call a horse health professional to take a look, instead.

How To Treat Ringbone In Horses

Your farrier or horse health professional may have a variety of treatment suggestions depending on your horse’s weight, activity level, build, etc.. Ringbone can affect horses of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and there is no one treatment that works for all patients. Since it is a progressive disease that is irreversible, the focus will be on managing your horse’s comfort and mobility.

A farrier may suggest special corrective shoes to minimize overuse of joints for comfort. As far as medication goes, joint-feed supplements and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are popular for reducing pain. These treatments are usually topical or injected.

There’s also another method that is used that may surprise you: fusing the joints. Depending on how the disease progresses, the affected joints may fuse together. This relieves some of the pain the horse experiences because the joint cannot be flexed anymore. Some horse health professionals elect to medically speed up the process if they think it’s the best option for the horse. 

What Should I Do If I Think My Horse Has Ringbone?

If you see signs of lameness or a swollen area around the ringbone joints, call your trusted horse health professional. They will be able to properly rule out other options and diagnose your horse without further injuring them. From there, you can discuss a treatment plan that has your budget and horse’s best interest in mind.

Your farrier might recognize Ringbone during a scheduled appointment as well. He might be able to give some advice on corrective shoe fittings or other options to improve the comfort of your equine companion.

View our horse health products or contact us at BRD Vet Rx today for more information.

Horse Hair Care: The Mane Attraction

Horse Hair Care: The Mane Attraction

Why Should I Practice Good Horse Hair Care?

Easy, breezy, beautiful…Coverhorse? Just like humans, a horse’s mane can be the focal point of style and elegance. Horse hair care is an important part of hygiene and the overall grooming process, so let’s learn how to take the best care of those luscious locks.

Healthy grooming habits have a variety of benefits when it comes to your horse. Most horses enjoy being brushed, and it’s a good time to bond and build trust. It also helps keep your horse clean by removing dirt and dander that can negatively affect the skin.You can train your horse by having them be still, calm and having their hooves handled. It’s also a good time to check your horse for unusual cuts or abrasions.

Beauty From the Inside Out

As you could guess, diet is one of the main influences when it comes to horse hair care. If you’re striving for a strong, shiny, and thick mane and tail, make sure to feed your horse a rich, nutritional diet. Protein, amino acids, and vitamins from high-quality forage materials will help promote the best hair health. 

Wash With Care

Choosing a good shampoo is an important first step when washing your horse’s mane and tail. Try and choose one that is light on sulfates (they dry hair out), and has a natural ingredient base, such as coconut oil. There are lots of options at every budget, so you should be able to find one that works for you. Considering climate conditions should also help with your decision.

Start from the roots and scrub to loosen all the dirt and oil trapped near the scalp. Massaging this area will also increase blood flow and encourage hair growth. Be cautious not to use too much conditioner, as too much oil will clog pores and attract dirt. 

The same process can be used for the tail – be sure to scrub out all the dirt and dead skin buildup.You can finish off the process with some leave-in conditioner if you really want the mane and tail to stay hydrated and shine.

Get the Right Tools For the Job

Using wide-toothed combs and dandy brushes will ensure a positive grooming experience for everyone involved. Be careful not to tug too hard and hurt your horse, this will stress them out and make them scared of grooming. 

You may also want to consider not brushing the tail and mane every day, as this will make the hair thin. It can take a long time for horses to regrow hair. Human hair brushes will break and damage hair, so make sure to avoid those.

Beautiful Braids

After your horse’s mane and tail are cleaned and moisturized, you can braid the hair to keep it pristine. Start at the top, and loosely start to braid the hair in two-inch sections. You can wave tighter as you go down, but don’t ever pull or make it too tight – the goal is to minimize breakage. You start loosely so that the braid isn’t pulling at the roots, which can be uncomfortable. 

And there you have it! We hope that these horse hair care tips get you excited about your next grooming session. BRD Vet Rx has been encouraging healthy horse care for almost 100 years. View our products or contact us today, we look forward to hearing from you.

How To Prevent & Treat Harmful Thrush in Horses

How To Prevent & Treat Harmful Thrush in Horses

What is Thrush In Horses?

We all know someone who has smelly feet – whether it be from poor hygiene or just bad luck, it’s not enjoyable for anyone involved. However, if you’re smelling something that reminds you of rotting dairy around your horse’s hoof, you should probably take a closer look. Thrush in horses may be the culprit – lets learn more about it.

Thrush is a painful, non-contagious bacterial infection that infects your horse’s hoof. Bacteria, fungi, and microbes can get into the frog (soft tissue area between the heel and walls of hoof) and cause an infection. The bacteria will ferment in the frog, and make it deteriorate over time.

The result of the infection is a thick, black discharge from the frog smelling similar to rotten dairy. Gross, right? Thrush in horses can be extremely painful, and even cause lameness if left untreated. Some horses are more likely to get infected than others.

How To Prevent Thrush In Horses

Although thrush may seem intimidating and dangerous, preventing it can be as easy as keeping your stall clean. Dark, wet conditions are perfect for thrush-causing bacteria to grow, so avoiding these conditions will help reduce the risk. Manure, wet hay, dirt, and other organic materials are straightforward ways for bacteria to find their way to your horse’s frog and start causing trouble, for example. 

Keep Stalls Clean

To minimize the risk of infection, keeping the stalls clean is crucial. This way, your horse will be less likely to have these materials caked up on their hooves. There are many other benefits to regular stall cleaning, too. 

Clean Hooves Daily

One of the most straightforward ways to prevent thrush in horses is to clear their hooves of manure, dirt, hay, and other organic matter. If you keep this up every day, it’s much less likely that you’ll see an infection. Another benefit is that if your horse does get an infection, you’ll be able to catch it early on. Use this time to build trust with your horse while keeping them safe with proper hoof care.

Hoof It, Baby!

Exercise is a great way to prevent thrush in horses while staying healthy. Movement encourages the frog to naturally flush and clean itself out, and your horse will feel better overall. Just make sure that you don’t let the hooves get too dirty in the first place.

How to Treat Thrush In Horses

The sooner you realize your horse has thrush, the better. If it’s early in the infection stages, a topical ointment is key for treating and fighting further infection. If the infection looks bad or if you’re not sure what stage it’s in, you should call your trusted horse health care professional for an evaluation and further instruction.

A farrier can also treat the thrush. They might treat it like an unclean wound – trimming away the dead tissue on the frog and cleaning it. Trimming the frog to be on the same level as the heel and hoof will promote healthy growth in the future, too. 

BRD Vet Rx has been helping horses stay happy and healthy for almost 100 years. View our products or contact us today to learn more.

How to Prevent Harmful Colic in Horses

How to Prevent Harmful Colic in Horses

We all know that one cheese-lover who is lactose intolerant. Sad, right? Just like how some humans need a special diet to avoid gastrointestinal distress, horse owners also need to keep track of what they’re feeding their equine companions to avoid colic. 

What is Colic in Horses?

Horses have a unique and fragile gastrointestinal system that makes them more prone to abdominal pain and complications. Colic is an umbrella term that means pain in the abdomen, or any related issues. It can range from discomfort to deadly, so knowing how to prevent it could save your horse’s life.

What Causes Colic?

There is a variety of causes when it comes to Colic, ranging from dietary issues to behavior. Some examples are:

  • Too much grain in the diet
  • Lack of forage in diet
  • Parasites
  • Stress
  • Dental Problems
  • Dehydration 
  • Tainted feed
  • Sand ingestion
  • Prolonged NSAIDS usage (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug)

There are more causes than what’s listed, but it’s important to know that Colic can be caused by things you may not expect. This way, you’ll know what to look out for. 

Signs of Colic include pawing, rolling, bloating, lack of manure passing, excessive sweating, lack of sound from the stomach, disinterest in food and water, general distress, and more.

How to Prevent Colic in Horses

Preventing Colic with Diet

If you can give your horse the ability to graze, that’s great! The closer you can mimic a dietary regimen related to how horses eat in the wild, the better. Lots of foraged foods, with some added grains and supplements if they need more nutrients than what you can provide. You can get your hay analyzed for nutritional density if you’re curious, too. 

Grain, sweet feed, and corn-based concentrates create gas because there isn’t enough time to properly digest it and absorb the sugars in the horse’s small intestine. It quickly moves towards the hind-gut, trapping the gas in the rear of the horse. The result is Colic from the painful pressure that the concentrates cause.

Oh, and avoid feeding your horse in sandy areas. Given that ingesting sand causes Colic, we think you get the idea.

Hydration is Key

Good hydration habits are very important when it comes to preventing Colic. Horses need lots of fluids for forage fermentation, food digestion, and much more. If they don’t get enough water, an impaction (blockage the bowel) could occur, along with many other ailments. Colic from impaction can be deadly if not treated, so pay very careful attention to this one.

Keep Up Healthy Habits

Routine floating of your horse’s teeth will ensure that they are able to fully chew their food, lessening the chances of intestinal blockage. Slacking on horse dental care can lead to its own issues, but being able to comfortably eat is a basic need.

Parasites are nasty lil buggers who can mess with multiple aspects of your companion’s health. Tapeworms and other parasites can be managed by knowing what to look out for and adopting a deworming routine that works for you. 

Wrapping Up

On top of these tips, keeping an eye out for unusual behaviors from your horse can tell you if you should seek help. If you’re unsure, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Colic can be unpredictable and time is usually of the essence when it comes to their recovery. If you have further questions about Colic in horses, call your trusted horse health care professional. 

BRD Vet Rx has been helping horses stay happy and healthy for almost 100 years. We love to see horses thrive, and are here for your equine pharmacy needs. Contact us today for more information.