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First Aid Kit

The purpose of a first aid kit is to provide you with the tools and supplies you need to give immediate care to your horse.

I have 3 barn first aid kits. One next to the crossties that holds frequently used items.

The other two are in the tack room.

I keep a commercial human first aid kit right by the door.

And I keep my custom trauma kit ready when I need it and at room temperature. I assembled all of the essential tools and supplies for dealing with a wound in a large plastic container with a snap lid. (Available in the home storage section of your favorite department store).

When an emergency strikes, I know when I open my kit, all the necessary items will be there, ready to use.

FIRST AID KIT CONTENTS

first aid book
veterinarian’s phone number
flashlight and batteries
latex gloves
thermometer
lubricating jelly
Betadine solution
Betadine ointment (povidone-iodine, 10%)
triple antibiotic ointment furacin ointment (nitrofurazone)
saline eyewash
phenylbutazone (Butazolidine)
Banamine (flunixin meglumine)
wooden applicator sticks
non-stick gauze pads
conforming gauze padding (leg quilts or disposable diapers)
self-adhering stretch bandage
elastic adhesive tape
scissors
pocket knife
tweezers
stethoscope
watch with second hand
disposable syringes and needles
instant cold compress

TO HAVE ON HAND

chain twitch
protective hoof boot
weight tape
clean buckets
clean cloths
clean spray bottle
portable lights (clamp or stand)
extension cords

 

IN REFRIGERATOR

antibiotics
epinephrine

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Help!  I have a wonderful 5 yr old QH mare that started stall kicking before feeding time and now pins her ears and bites at the stall wall while eating her grain or hay.  She is destroying the stall bit by bit.  We tried kicking chains to no avail.  Now we are using a horseshoe around her heel  and it seems to be working. However, she is still bodyslamming into the wall and pinning and biting the wall while eating.  We have no idea why she is doing this or what is causing her to be so nervous.  We purchased her in May and this didn’t begin until mid July, while we were away on vacation.  She has been treated for a capped hock numerous times and I don’t want this to get worse.  I had my trainer take her for a week and the kicking stopped.  Now that she is back in our barn it has begun again.  I have also talked with my farrier.  I need help as we love her dearly and don’t want her lame.  Unfortunately, we are stuck using our neighborhood barn and can’t really change her schedule.
She goes out at 7:30 am after feeding, to her paddock.  we bring her in at dinnertime and she stays in her stall at night. She is ridden by my 10 year old daughter and myself.  She gets 2 days off a week as be both take a lesson as well.  I would appreciate any guidance you could give.  Sincerely, Kim

Dear Kim,

Behavior such as you describe can have a variety of causes. Some are physical factors which you should discuss with your veterinarian. Others could be more psychological which can be modified with management and training. Observation and figuring out the cause is the first step.

Physical causes could include hormones and eating discomfort.

Mares can be “nervous” as you say, but usually only during certain times of their estrous cycle, so if this happens all the time year round, then hormones are probably not part of the cause.

If a horse is uncomfortable when eating, anywhere along the digestive tract from the teeth to the esophagus to the stomach to the intestines, the horse might exhibit odd body movements.

The most likely psychological explanation would be that it is an exhibition of “pecking order” behavior. At your “neighborhood” barn, if there is a horse in the next stall, your mare could be reacting to that horse’s presence. When eating, she might exhibit aggressive behavior on the stall wall with biting and body slamming to communicate to her next door neighbor – stay away, this feed is mine.

When at the trainer’s the behavior might have disappeared because there was no horse in the next stall or the horse next door was not a threat.

When working on changing a horse’s behavior, always start with the obvious things first:

Check to be sure the feed ration is appropriate

Make sure the horse is receiving adequate exercise and turnout time

Make sure the horse has no health issues such as dental problems, intestinal discomfort and the like.

Change the horse’s companions and neighbors to see if that is changes the behavior.


Best of luck and let me know what you observe and determine!

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Hi Cherry,

I rescued two horses- a large Fell pony and a mini. Both had been abused and were starving. I’ve got their weight up, their hooves cared for, shots, worming etc.
But it has been almost 3 months and they are still very hard to halter, to clean their feet ( both have thrush) and to separate them to work with them ( just the simplest ground work in a nearby round pen)! When I have someone else, we can work it out fairly well but usually I am alone. I have few expectations, maybe short rides or a little pulling a cart ( both had some draft experience) – I’m now 65, and even though i had been a horse professional teaching in riding stables, training and judging in dressage,  I’m having an awful time with them. I need encouragement to keep them. It has been very expensive and wonder if others have rescue horse experience. Eileen

HI Eileen,

Just in my email box this morning was an article from The Horse which states that

Each year there are about 100,000 unwanted horses in the United States, too many for the registered equine rescue and sanctuary groups to handle, according to a recent survey by experts at the University of California, Davis. They found that the 236 registered rescue and sanctuary organizations could only help about 13,400 horses a year.

I have no personal experience with rescue horses but wanted to post your note so that if others want to reply, they can do so here.

I do know that retraining any horse can seem like it takes twice as long as it does to train a horse from scratch. Some of my colleagues say ten times as long !

When I taught in college and university equine programs, one of the ways we would get horses for the training and riding classes was through donations. Well, we received some wonderful horses and also some with interesting previous experiences and challenging behaviors. Some took several semesters to sort out and even then, might not be trustworthy with novice riders.

I do encourage you and applaud you for your efforts. It will take time, repetition and very frequent regular handling to alter their suspicious behavior. But it can be done.

Please refer to the many useful articles here on this blog related to ground training, desensitization and more. Here are some examples:

Head Handling

Horse Training – Handling, Gentling, Desensitization, Sacking Out, Flooding

Horse Behavior – Licking and Chewing

Also visit my Horse Information Roundup where I have posted hundreds of free articles related to behavior and training.

Best of luck and let me know if you have specific questions.

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Cherry,

I’ve heard people around the barn talking about getting the wolf teeth taken out of their horses. What are they and is it necessary? Can my vet do this or do I need to take my horse to a special dentist? Will my horse need to be drugged to do it? I’d rather not have this done unless it is absolutely necessary. Mac

Hi Mac,

First a little tooth geography. See the diagram of Horse Teeth .

©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

At the front of your horse’s mouth are the incisors. At the back of the horse’s mouth are the premolars and the molars. In between the incisors and the premolars is a relatively tooth-free space called the interdental space, also called the bars. This is where the bit sets. In the interdental space, there might be certain additional teeth.

Most male horses five years of age and older have four canine teeth in the interdental space located about an inch or two behind the incisors. Some mares (about 20%) have small canines or canine buds, usually on the lower jaw.

Both male and female horses can have wolf teeth. Wolf teeth are actually the first premolars. But they are smaller than the other premolars because they are remnants of teeth from prehistoric horses and through evolution have decreased in size and frequency of appearance. Most, but not all, horses have wolf teeth. They appear more commonly in the upper jaw but can appear in the lower jaw. Wolf teeth start coming in at about six months of age and are fully visible by 12 to 18 months in horses that are going to have them.

Some wolf teeth fall out at about 3 years of age when the horse sheds the temporary second premolar.

Wolf teeth are removed surgically if their size or location could cause painful bumping by the snaffle bit or pinching of the horse’s skin between the wolf teeth and snaffle bit. If a wolf tooth is small and fits tightly up against the second premolar, it might not cause a problem. But if the wolf tooth is large or there is a space between the wolf tooth and second premolar, it is much more likely to result in a problem because the tooth is standing alone, unprotected and the mouthpiece of the bit could hang up in the space between the wolf tooth and the second premolar.

Wolf teeth are usually removed when a yearling colt is gelded to take advantage of the fact that he is already sedated for the castration. With fillies, wolf teeth can be removed anytime after about 12 months of age and before snaffle bit training begins.

Your veterinarian will likely use a sedative and a local anesthetic to perform the extraction. Stocks are an asset for dental work and a twitch may also be used to ensure added control. Most veterinarians use a periosteal elevator to expose as much of the tooth as possible before extraction.

The root of wolf teeth is shallow, about 1/2 inch in young horses. Wolf teeth are relatively soft and can be easily crushed during removal which would be a bad thing. If a tooth splinters during removal and small pieces are left in the jaw, an abscess can result. If a small portion of the root breaks off below the gum line, often the remaining root tip will be absorbed and cause no problem.

So Mac, I’d suggest you have your veterinarian examine your horse and advise you as to whether removing the wolf teeth would be a good idea. It will depend on the size and location of the wolf teeth, the age of your horse, if you use a snaffle bit on your horse, and if you have had any indications that the bit might be contacting the wolf teeth. If your horse has been becoming more difficult to turn or stop or if he throws his head up when you make contact with the rein, then he might be having dental problems and it is possible it could be due to wolf teeth. A thorough dental examination can reveal any problems.

For more information on teeth, refer to these books:

Horse Health Care pages 26-35

– Deciduous Tooth Eruption schedule

– Permanent Tooth Eruption schedule

– Mouth of 2 year old

– Mouth of Mature horse

– The horse’s jaw

– Floating

– Dental Warning Signs

– Step-by-step photo guide to mouth exam

Making Not Breaking , pages 58-66

– Fit of the snaffle and reactions to the snaffle as it relates to mouth and teeth

Best of luck,

Cherry Hill

P.S. Sherlock was gelded at 6 months. Since his wolf teeth hadn’t appeared yet, they were not removed at that customary time. At 18 months of age, I saw that he had two medium sized upper wolf teeth. Most wolf teeth are located right next to the premolars but Sherlock’s were about an inch in front of his premolars – that left a dangerous gap that could allow the mouthpiece of a snaffle bit to either bang on the wolf teeth or get caught in between the wolf teeth and the premolars.

So at 24 months of age, with Sherlock backed into the loose stocks, the vet sedated Sherlock and removed his wolf teeth. A simple on-the-farm procedure that took about 10 minutes.

(First photo below) The vet used an adjustable crutch to support Sherlock’s sedated horse’s head. He added extra padding to the underarm pad and it serves as an underchin pad to hold up Sherlock’s head as he works. Richard really liked the crutch!

(Second photo below) The vet used a headlamp to help him see into the dark recesses of Sherlock’s mouth.

(Last photo below) Sherlock’s wolf teeth, showing the very shallow roots. There is about 1/2″ of tooth above the gum and 1/2″ of root below the gum. The wolf tooth on the left has more tissue debris so it only looks longer.

horse, dental care, wolf tooth, photo, teeth, veterinarian, stocks, loose stocks, wolf tooth removal, wolf teeth, vet, first premolar, Sherlock, two-year-old
horse, dental care, wolf tooth, photo, teeth, veterinarian, stocks, loose stocks, wolf tooth removal, wolf teeth, vet, first premolar, Sherlock, two-year-old
horse, dental care, wolf tooth, photo, teeth, veterinarian, stocks, loose stocks, wolf tooth removal, wolf teeth, vet, first premolar, Sherlock, two-year-old, root, gums

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Where is the summer going ??!! I can’t believe August is nearly half gone.

But no matter what month of the year, we horsekeepers are busy ! Here are a few things pertinent to August here on Long Tail Ranch.

These are excerpts from my book Cherry Hill’s Horsekeeping Almanac.

©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac

Dental Work

Fall is a good time to have routine dental work completed: floating teeth, removing wolf teeth if necessary, and removing retained caps. Because a horse’s upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw and horses chew from side to side, as their molars wear, they form sharp points on the outside of the upper molars and the inside of the lower molars. To keep these sharp points from cutting your horse’s tongue or cheeks as he eats, they should be filed (floated) regularly with a special file called a float that attaches to a long handle.

At the same time, your vet can remove caps and/or wolf teeth. Caps are temporary premolars (baby teeth) and molars that have not completely dislodged even though the permanent ones have erupted. In between dental visits, monitor your horse to determine if he needs more frequent visits.

Here are some sign of necessary dental work:

    • Bad odor from mouth
    • Quids (wads of food around feeding area)
    • Feed falling from mouth during eating
    • Weight loss
    • Sharp points

Remove a Loose Shoe

Use the following procedure to remove a shoe that has become bent, dangerously loose, or has rotated on your horse’s hoof. Necessary tools include : clinch cutter, hammer, pull-offs, and crease nail puller.

  1. Using the chisel end of the clinch cutter, open the clinches by tapping the spine of the clinch cutter with the hammer. A clinch is the end of the nail folded over; this needs to be opened so that the nails can slide straight through the hoof wall when pulled without taking large hunks of hoof with them.If the shoe has a crease on the bottom, you may be able to use the crease nail puller to extract each nail individually allowing the shoe to come off.Nails with protruding heads can be pulled out using the pull-offs. If you can’t pull the nails out individually, then you will have to remove the shoe with the pull-offs.
  2. After the clinches have been opened, grab a shoe heel and pry toward the tip of the frog.
  3. Do the same with the other shoe heel.
  4. When both heels are loose, grab one side of the shoe at the toe and pry toward the tip of the frog. Repeat around the shoe until it is removed.Never pry toward the outside of the hoof or you risk ripping big chunks out of the hoof wall. As the nail heads protrude from the loosening of the shoe, you can pull them out individually with the pull-offs.
  5. Pull any nails that may remain in the hoof.
  6. Protect the bare hoof. Keep the horse confined in soft bedding.

Blister Beetles

Four to six grams of blister beetles (whole or part, fresh or dried) can kill and 1100 pound horse. That’s because they contain cantharidin, a toxic and caustic poison. There is no antidote. Research has shown it is the striped blister beetle that is the source of cantharidin.

Typically, blister beetles will appear after the first cut (mid June or later) and disappear by October, so usually first cut and last (late 4th) cut hay is safer than 2nd or 3rd cut. Blister beetles tend to cluster in large groups often in the area of 1-2 bales but hay growers know that if left alone after cutting, most blister beetles evacuate the field. You need to know your alfalfa hay grower; ask him what he did to eliminate blister beetles in the field.

Buy only first cut or October hay. Inspect alfalfa hay before you buy and again before you feed.

Protect Riparian Areas

Riparian refers to the vegetation and soils alongside streams, creeks, rivers, and ponds. These are precious areas that can easily be damaged by horses.

Manure, urine, overgrazing, destruction of trees, and the creation of muddy banks all can lead to less vegetation, warmer water temperatures, more algae, less fish, and decreased wildlife habitat. Monitor and limit horses’ access to natural water sources so that a natural buffer zone of grasses, brush and trees is preserved around the edges of ponds and creeks. This buffer zone is essential for filtering nutrients from excess runoff before it enters the water.

Choke Cherries

Choke cherries are ripe during August. Although horses don’t eat the berries, the leaves are poisonous to horses and the berries attract bears.

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Hi Cherry !

I have a 2 + year QH that I am having trouble getting him to use a bit.

As I try to put in his mouth he will back up and refuses for to put the bit in his mouth. What can I do to get him to let me put on a bit, or is it his age?

Ruben

Hi Ruben,

The best way to solve this problem is to forget about the bit and bridle for a few lessons.

First you need to teach your horse to allow you to handle his head, his ears, his lips, his mouth, examine his teeth and so on.

I use one of my old toothbrushes to get the horse used to having something in his mouth. This will also be safer for you than using your fingers if you aren’t really sure where the teeth are located (see drawing below). Hold the bristle end in your hand and rub the end of the smooth plastic handle along the horse’s lips. When your horse will allow you to do this without moving his head or backing away, then insert the smooth toothbrush handle into the interdental space – the area between the incisors and molars where the bit goes. If you don’t have a toothbrush handy, you can use an old, washed out dewormer tube for this lesson.

Next be sure your horse doesn’t have any fear of you opening his lips to look at his teeth. Your veterinarian needs to do this anyway, so take the time to make sure your horse is comfortable with you handling all parts of his mouth and head.

Then be sure you can handle and rub his ears and are able to bend his ears forward like you will need to do when you slip the crownpiece of the bridle over his ears.

When you feel your horse is comfortable with all of this, be sure you are bridling properly.

Horse Training - Proper Bridling Position

Horse Training - Proper Bridling Position

Refer to the photo above to show you how to put your right hand over your horse’s head and between his ears while you present the bit to the horse with your left hand. Be careful not to bump the horse’s front teeth with the bit. If he doesn’t readily open his mouth, you can insert the thumb of your left hand into the corner of his mouth – this usually gets the horse to open his mouth. See the illustration below to help you determine the safe zone for you to place your fingers – the interdental space which is the space where there are no teeth – between the canines and the wolf teeth.

Teeth of a Mature Horse Showing the Safe Finger Zone, the interdental space

Teeth of a Mature Horse Showing the Safe Finger Zone, the interdental space

After you have thoroughly prepared your horse for the sensations of bridling, he should accept the process willingly. Take your time because these habits last a lifetime, whether good or bad.

For more information, refer to

Making Not Breaking by Cherry HillHow to Think Like A Horse by Cherry HillMaking Not Breaking

How to Think Like a Horse

Best of luck, and let me know how you make out.

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Floating a Horse’s Teeth – Video Clip

©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

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