I’m not ready


Here’s a perfect imprint of Zelda’s hoof. At least this one has come out; Freedom is standing on snowballs and as soon as I pry them out, another one starts to form.

Winter arrived in the Northeast this week — just in time to ensnare drivers heading off for Thanksgiving. We only got a couple of inches, but I’m just not ready.

I’m not ready for the snow causing the electric tape to sag. I’m not ready for the horses to have wet blankets. I’m not ready with a barn full of hay — it’s hard to get hay to the lower barn when there’s snow on the ground and it’s already getting difficult to find a reliable supply. I’m not ready for overnight temperatures to approach the single digits. And I’m not ready for winter riding.

I love riding in the snow. It can be so exhilarating. But not when your horse doesn’t have properly prepared feet. My horses are still wearing regular shoes. No snow rims, no borium. My plan is to pull their shoes early next week. A barefoot hoof offers good traction and no issue with snowballing. But for now, the are walking on snowshoes (Freedom was perched on some snow stilts today) and neither they or I can enjoy the snow.

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New thoughts on treatment for Navicular

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 3.45.57 PMHere’s an interesting article from Dr. David Ramey on the use of Isoxsuprine as a a treatment for navicular disease, or really as a treatment for anything. I haven’t personally given it to any of my horses, but it definitely was part of the protocol for treating a pony in our barn that foundered.

I suspect there are many treatments that we still use for our horses (and ourselves) that have no scientific basis for working, but which we continue to do because after giving them in the past, our horse seemed better. Even if the drug has nothing to do with it.

You scratch my back . . .

Curly and Zelda grooming each other.

Since the first time they met Zelda and Curly have groomed each other. I love to see horses being horses . . . and the affection that they show. I feel sorry for horses that are always turned out alone. Yes, I know the risks — I just try to find good turnout partners so they can be safe and happy. Thanks to Lindsay for sending the photo!

Ready to Battle the Bugs

There won’t be any flies on Charlie! He looks like a medieval war horse outfitted in his fly sheet and mask! We’ve had a lot of rain this spring which means beautiful green grass . . . but also lots of mosquitoes. Do you outfit your horses with flysheets?

Flair strips threaten to derail the Belmont Stakes

California Chrome

California Chrome will be allowed to wear a FLAIR Nasal Strip in the Belmont Stakes. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

A self-adhesive strip almost derailed California Chrome’s pursuit of the Triple Crown . . . because the Nasal Flair Strips worn by the colt are banned in the state of New York for thoroughbred racing (not, funnily enough, for standardbreds). This was almost an issue in 2012 — Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another also raced with Flair Nasal Strips. New York stewards ruled that he would not be able to wear one for the Belmont and the colt’s trainers had agreed to have him run without it. Whether it would have made a difference remains unknown as the colt was scratched due to a leg injury.

This year, California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman raised the possibility that the colt would not run without the strips. And the stewards made a wise decision and lifted the ban.

Why are Flair Nasal Strips Used?

Unlike humans (NFL football players often wear nasal strips — also called Breathe Right strips) horses can breathe only through their noses, so reducing airway resistance during exercise is a big deal — even if there is no data available that shows it can help horses run faster, they do help improve oxygen intake. Many horses across multiple disciplines wear the nasal strips, although there is no hard data that proves the strips improve performance, although they do seem to reduce bleeding.

According to the manufacturer:

This illustration from

FLAIR strips support the soft tissues over the nasal passages, providing reduced airway resistance during exercise.

FLAIR Strips support nasal passages to reduce collapse. By reducing nasal passage collapse, your horse expends less energy to get the oxygen he needs.

During exercise when horses begin to breathe hard the soft tissues overlying the nasal passages are sucked in, reducing the airway diameter. This reduction in diameter causes greater resistance to airflow into the lungs.

Do they make a difference?

In a sport where drugs like Lasix (which prevents horses from bleeding during a race) are used without a second thought, it seems crazy that officials would ban a mechanical solution to the problem.

According to recent research, Nasal strips do not affect pulmonary gas exchange, anaerobic metabolism, or EIPH in exercising Thoroughbreds.

But the jury is still out. Another study, Effect of an external nasal dilator strip on cytologic characterists of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid in Thoroughbred racehorses, suggests that use of an external nasal dilator strip in Thoroughbred racehorses may decrease pulmonary bleeding, particularly in horses with severe exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.

Perhaps more important is that racing is a sport rife with superstition. If your race horse had won his last six races using a Nasal Strip, why would you risk the most important race of his life without one?

Someone on a bulletin board commented that the owners were wearing the same clothes for the Preakness as for the Derby, adding: “I would bet the house they are all wearing the same underwear! 50/50 chance they washed it.”

Who can blame them?


Curly, healing

Last Tuesday, out hunting, Curly managed to cut herself on something. Most likely a rock. All of a sudden one of the other riders noticed that there was blood dripping down over her hoof.

Curly's laceration was located very close to the coffin bone. Luckily it wasn't deep enough to cause a problem.

Curly’s laceration was located very close to the coffin bone. Luckily it wasn’t deep enough to cause a problem.

Obviously, her owner went straight back to the barn. Sometimes injuries around the hoof bleed a lot but aren’t that serious. This one was a pretty good gash. Luckily, although it was deep, it did not impact the coffin bone.

It did, however, require four stitches and a course of antibiotics. Every day she had to have her temperature checked to make sure that an infection wasn’t brewing — injuries like that are very difficult to get entirely clean, and on top of that, it had to stay clean. Bad luck, then that it rained for two days last week.

Curly would not have appreciated stall rest but had a small run out area from her stall. That way she could move around a bit but Zelda couldn’t boss her around. The leg was protected by a bandages and it stayed very clean.

The good news is that Curly is healing nicely and should be back out under saddle in a day or two.

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