February 2018 – Mid Month Update

February 2018 – Mid Month Update

Holistic Horsekeeping
How to have a healthy happy horse.


In This Issue:
1. Why Do Horses Set Back?
2. Find Your Own Horse Harmony


1. Why Do Horses Set Back?
Some horses are never taught to properly yield to pressure and this can be a reason for them to set back when tied. Teaching a horse to yield to pressure is so important. This is best done when a horse is young. With a lead rope around the neck or with a halter, gentle pressure is applied and immediately released when the horse yields. When this early training is done properly the horse leads and ties well for life under most circumstances.

Even a horse that is well trained to tie can be spooked when tied and this can result in a setback from fear. Once a horse has set back in fear they are more likely to be anxious about being tied. I like to use a Blocker Tie ring just in case a horse does set back. The tie ring allows the rope to slide so the horse does not panic. For a horse with a history of setting back it is best to use an extra long rope initially so the horse does not get completely free. Once a horse realizes the rope will give, then you can use a normal length lead.

Fire and Fire combination horses tend to be more anxious about being tied. These horses are more likely to be nervous about any sort of confinement and this includes being tied. I always suggest using a tie ring with these horses and I like to spend extra time helping them stay relaxed. I spend time asking the horse to lower his head and lick and chew before tying. If possible, I hang a hay net so the horse can eat while tied. The Fire horse balancing formula can be helpful in shifting the Fire horse out of the sympathetic (fight or flight) state into the parasympathetic (relax and rest) mode.

Pre and Probiotics also play a role in helping the nervous horse relax. These products support the good bacteria in the gut to produce B vitamins. B vitamins are absorbed by the horse and have a gentle, calming action. I like a probiotic/algae product because this type of blue green algae contains a phytonutrient that helps the horse with a sense of well-being. In addition to the probiotics, I like a type of blue green algae that has the cell wall removed to concentrate the relaxing nutrients.

Pain should also be considered as a cause for a horse to set back when tied. Sharp teeth, digestive tract ulcers, osteopathic lesions, or arthritic changes in the neck can all keep a horse on edge. A physical exam and needed dental or body work can be done to help with mechanical pain. Digestive support and/or musculoskeletal support can be given to address ulcers or arthritic changes. Below is a case report to show how one mare responded to the Fire Balancing formula to help her relax.

Eli the Fire Horse
Eli is a 5 year Arabian mare. She went into halter training as a 2 year old, did a couple of shows and then came home to grow up before getting started under saddle. During her 2-year old year I showed her in hand and that’s when she started pulling back when tied up. I have no idea if she pulled back at the trainer’s, as I didn’t ask and they certainly did not tell. She would be fine one moment, and the next would be pulling back. Fast forward — she went into saddle training and the day I dropped her off, she pulled back hard while in the trainer’s trailer. She has continued to do this on and off. I noticed she would be particularly edgy and snorting when it was windy. The two times I rode her on the side of the road to get to the trails, it was windy and she was so edgy I had to get off. Once we hit the actual wooded trails she would calm down, and do very well for a green horse.

I happen to fall on Dr. Ward’s Horse Harmony book and decided to do the personality typing. I found out that she was mostly a “fire” horse with “wood” coming in second. I decided to have Kim Bauer look at her typing too, to see if we both came up with the same results, and we did. I was recommended to use “fire-horse balancing” which I did for 8 days. There has been an amazing all-around calmness about her since. I am always leery when I feed her on a windy day, but so far she has not snorted, nor pulled back while tied up next to her feed bucket. I have also found her to be less aggressive with the others and I am so pleased with the change that I have decided to feed her fire-horse balancing on a daily basis. Thank you Dr. Ward for coming up with this supplement and thank you Kim Bauer for helping me with the typing.

2. Find Your Own Horse Harmony
If you haven’t discovered temperament typing and discovering your horses 5 element type, there’s now time like the present. You can dive into the subject a little or a lot. Here are some of the resources to help you.
Horse Harmony book
Horse Harmony: A Feeding Guide book 
Online Course
Horse Harmony Consultants
Horse Temperament website

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