This is the best, all encompassing science on why horses should not be blanketed or groomed in winter and fed free-choice grass hay 24/7. Well done! Natalija! All documented and referenced at the end.

By: Natalija Aleksandrova
Holistic Horse & Hoof Care

In order for a mammal to survive, internal body temperature is kept within a very narrow range. If the temperature exceeds these limits either above or below, the chemical reactions on the cellular level function improperly. Or they stop functioning at all. Fluctuations outside of the normal temperature range result in health problems or death of the animal. Mature horses maintain their internal body temperature at a range around 38℃. Foals, rapidly growing youngsters, pregnant and lactating mares have a higher norm of their internal body temperature (Hines, 2004). Most horse owners are aware of the damage and crisis inherent with fever states. Few horse owners realize how well adapted horses are to deal with cold when certain aspects of their lifestyle are in place for them.

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When you go to your doctor’s office the nurse will almost always take your vitals, without question. A lot about your health can be told just through vitals like blood pressure and pulse. Your horse is no different.

I believe that any equestrian should learn how to take a horse’s vitals just as they should learn how to properly groom or tack up. Not only is this skill essential in checking your horse’s health in general but also is extremely useful in the event of an emergency (i.e. suspected illness and relaying symptoms to your vet over the phone).

Temperature: One of the most basic vital signs is body temperature. Every horse owner (or pet/livestock owner for that matter) should have an accurate digital thermometer in their first aid kit. Taking your horse’s temperature might be a little awkward for some people but really, it is quite simple.

A healthy adult horse should have a temperature between 99 and 101.

Video tutorial on taking your equine’s temperature:


The biggest mistake when it comes to taking a horse’s temperature is not leaving it in the animal for long enough, though this applies mostly to traditional mercury thermometers.

Pulse: Your horse’s pulse can tell you a lot about how your horse is feeling. There are a few different locations on your horse's body in which you can take their pulse. Some of these areas might work better on some horses than others. Finding your horse's pulse can be a little tricky at first so practice makes perfect.

A healthy adult horse should have a pulse of 28 to 44 beats-per-minute.

Video tutorial on taking your horse's pulse:


Respiration (BPM): Your horse's respiration rate or breaths-per-minute (BPM) is a good indicator of general health. Low BPM rate can be a sign of depression or illness while a high BPM rate can mean serious stress or exertion as well as illness. Taking your horse's respiration is pretty easy. You can either watch their sides or nostrils for each breath.

A healthy adult horse should have a BPM rate of 10-25.

Video tutorial on taking BPM:


Mucous Membranes & Capillary Refill: Checking capillary refill and your horse's mucous membranes is often dismissed or forgotten. Capillary refill is a great way to check if your horse is dehydrated, which can be a serious issue in of itself but also a symptom of many different illnesses. Your horse's gums should be a healthy pink color and moist to the touch.

A healthy adult horse should have a capillary refill of 2 seconds or less.

Video tutorial on checking capillary refill:  

Another way to check dehydration is pinching or tenting the skin on the horse's neck or chest. A hydrated horse's skin will go flat quickly whereas a dehydrated horse's skin will stay tented for 3 seconds or longer.

Gut Sounds: One prominent symptom of most colic or other digestive ailment is a lack of gut sounds. A healthy horse's stomach works constantly. You probably are already aware during grooming or just being around horse's that their stomach grumble often. An absence of gut sounds or overactive gut sounds are both reasons to consult a vet ASAP.

Video tutorial on gut sounds:

w/o stethoscope 

Horses, like people, are individuals. Healthy vitals for one horse might be a bit different than another. Age, general health, body condition and even your climate all need to be factored in. Practicing taking your horse's vitals will not only make you more efficient but also teach you what is normal for your particular horse.

Firewise for Horse Owners,

By Alayne Blickle, Horses for Clean Water

Many horse owners live in rural areas surrounded by trees or open rangeland with grass or shrubs. In a dry year these materials can easily become fuels for wildfire; high temperatures, limited summer rainfall, strong winds and lightning storms all lead to very high risks of fire danger.

Southwest Idaho Resource Conservation and Development recently funded a program to help horse owners and small acreage livestock owners reduce wildfire risk on their properties as well as prepare for possible wildfire evacuation.

Below are tips to identify wildfire risks for your horse property and appropriate actions to minimize those risks. Follow up by referring to Horses for Clean Water website for detailed information on Firewise for Horse Owners.
• Create a defensible space around buildings. A defensible space is an area where combustibles and vegetation are kept to a minimum. Use landscaping plants that are low growing, drought tolerant, high moisture content, high salt or soap content, low oil or resin content and have green stems. For plant examples, here is an article on Firewise Landscaping for Horse Properties. A great place to visit in person and see ideas is the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Firewise Garden or you can review their handout.
• When possible, locate barns, shelters and other structures on flat land or towards the bottom of a slope. Fires burn more rapidly up hills and draws than across a flat. Draws can serve as a chimney, creating more intense fires that spread rapidly with uphill drafts. Also, when building new outbuildings place them as far apart as is reasonably possible, 30 feet or more is best.
• Flammable outdoor items can catch an ember and ignite. Remove things such as wood patio furniture, brooms, flower boxes and flammable doormats. Replace with non-flammable materials such as wrought iron patio furniture.
• Wooden or plastic fences burn and can lead a fire to buildings. Choose other types of fencing when possible. It’s especially important to avoid combustible fencing when it attaches to buildings or structures. If you already have this, create a removable section, such as a gate or panel, that can be taken out or left open when there’s a threat of fire.
• When building or planning new outbuildings choose non-flammable materials such as metals for sidings and roofs. Consider tile, brick or adobe – and green roofs. Replace combustible sidings or roofs with non-flammable materials.
• Create a firebreak, a 15 to 30 foot wide buffer of cleared land, between combustibles like crops, hay storage, bedding storage, feed storage and other structures (barn, house, fences, etc.) A firebreak can be a plowed or disked strip, a dirt road, a path mowed down low or possibly even a walking trail.
• Remove cheatgrass and dried weeds through grazing, mowing, prescribed burning or herbicide use. During fire seasons keep all vegetation within 100 feet of buildings either green, low or grazed down.
• Clean roof surfaces and gutters to remove leaves, branches or debris. These materials can catch a stray spark from a nearby fire and ignite.
• Keep firewood, trash, lumber, hay and empty feed sacks 15 to 30 feet away from buildings or other combustibles.

Now follow up by putting together a firewise evacuation plan for your property and horses so that if the threat of wildfire becomes real you will have a plan in place to deal with it.

Alayne Blickle, a life-long equestrian and educator, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award winning, nationally acclaimed environmental education program that “wrote the book” on
caring for horses and land. Well-known for her enthusiastic, fun and down-to-earth approach, Alayne is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners for over 20 years. She teaches and travels throughout North America and other countries as well as writes for equestrian publications.
Alayne also runs an environmentally sensitive ecotourism guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in Southwestern Idaho where she and her husband raise top-notch reining horses and beautiful grass hay.
For more information on Firewise for Horse Owners, or to schedule a FREE presentation to your horse group please contact Alayne at [email protected]m or 206-909-0225.

by Corey Fagan
I can’t believe that, once again, my favorite time of year is almost here! Summer is approaching its end, and we can look forward to the smells and colors of fall! It comes with the harvest and the desire of gathering. A place for gathering has been going on for generations at the ICHA Fall Futurity and Aged Event. Each year the show continues to grow and the sense of family gathering remains. The buzz of FUN at these events has created interest within the community and this manifests involvement. There is so much more going on along with the incredible competition of cutting that it makes for an amazing event.
The NCHA International Mercuria Cutting will be held at the Idaho Horse Park, September 1st & 2nd. This is a show you never want to miss, as the best of the best, compete against each other. Last year Phil Rapp, broke the world record with a score of 234 on Don’t Look Twice, owned by Waco Bend Ranch. This year, new memories will be made. No matter what happens at the show, the best thing is that families are joined together with friends. This is a time to see familiar faces, catch up and have a great time.
This year we will be joined by Jonette Flores. Jonette and her middle son Cody Flores together own and operate Idaho Lifestyle Excursions. They have some exciting adventures to introduce to our guests. And talk about making it EASY! They have thought of everything, and will be at the Horse Park to take you on a fun adventure and bring you back. You decide what you are up for and how much time you want to spend doing it. Some exciting choices are a Caldwell sky diving trip, or how about a helicopter ride providing a scenic over view of the Treasure Valley. If you are in the mood for a wine tasting tour or a beer tour this season you will find it all taken care of, and at your finger tips during the show. My favorite is the Snake River airboat tour; I hear it is the only commercial air boat west of the Mississippi. This trip provides a scenic tour, with an historical narration given throughout. You will travel Swan Falls Dam and learn how the floods affected the geological form of the Snake River. You will also enjoy a delicious lunch at Brick 29. Like I said every detail has been thought of; snacks, gourmet dinners and lunches have already been taken care of. “No work all play!” Idaho Lifestyle Excursions has taken all the right steps to offer you the opportunity to build an all inclusive adventure for your family. They have already taken the time to find the best of the best, keeping safety as one of the main priorities. Depending on your level of comfort; you can go white water rafting, kayaking, or golfing. See beautiful Sun Valley, Cascade, and McCall. After a busy day of competition, you can relax and go on a hayride out to an old western town, have dinner and be entertained by a very funny melodrama. Sounds like a great way to end a perfect day! Check out the website call them toll free at 1-855-442-4341/ 208-442-4341 or stop by to say hi and meet them at the show.
It is rewarding to be able to offer this added fun to the shows. Gold Buckle Champion is hard at work all year long, preserving our western heritage, and introducing the youth and community to the equine industry. Co Founder, Sue Marostica said, “I am so excited to be a part of keeping these shows alive in the community.” She continued “Each year more spectators come, that have never seen a Cutting Show, and they are glad they came. We are excited this year to also be able to introduce a Rodear to the community, thanks to Jeff & Sheri Matthews and Merle & Sandi Newton. It is my desire that everyone in all communites has an opportunity to be a part of something that has given my family and I so much over the years.” Sue’s children were raised around rodeo, with the lifestyle and gifts that this industry gives. “My children are dedicated, caring individuals because of what they were blessed to be a part of.” Each sport in the industry has one thing in common; discipline, hard work, integrity, and the spirit of the horse. It is definitely something that is worth passing along. It is something that everyone can be a part of and needs to be a part of. With so many shows having to close doors, and so many of our equine friends needing new homes, it is going to take creative thinking and a desire to keep many, doing what they love to do. Hence, the reason Gold Buckle Champion was developed. It is the desire to keep all shows going strong, and allow the communities to become involved. It comes with a wakeup call; this industry has a huge effect on our economy and our lives in general. We are the ones who will choose to let the impact have the upward effect and help all. But it takes a barn building philosophy. With this approach everyone gets to continue to do what they love doing. That is why this year Gold Buckle Champion will be holding an auction during one of our dinners and all of the proceeds will go back into the equine industry and keeping the community involved in these shows. Continuing with the neighborhood barn building philosphy, the ICHA would like to give special thanks to Tom Long, Nate Miller, and Brian Anderson for helping us to put together a spectacular stallion auction.
At this show, you can expect to be treated with that same 5 star quality, from the staff at the Idaho Horse Park, the ICHA Staff, and the friendly faces you will encounter along the way. The VIP Saloon will treat you daily to delicious meals, this year Indian Creek will be smoking up some lovely steaks for all who enter. QDoba, Mexican fiesta is always a treat. And TGI Fridays has something special planned to keep us all wanting more. We will continue on from where we left off in March with gift certificates for two each day into some of the communities finest restaurants.
The Nampa Fire Department will join us again, with a great BBQ benefiting the Burn Out Fund and the Toys for Tots, there will be ladder truck rides, delicious food, with donated time from Brent Reynolds, sharing his famous Old Ranch House Spices. I can smell it already, and can’t hardly wait.
The Toys for Tots always join us each year, and this year we have our first annual triathlon event “Governor of Gold Buckle Competition” Ten (10) teams will compete to see who will bring in the most toys to support this cause. They will also compete in a Celebrity Golf Tournament and a Celebrity Cutting. These teams will have a chance to win, a Gold Buckle etched Magnum of Wine, a Carroll Leather Jacket, and a plaque on the wall of the horse park for all prosperity. The Treasure Valley View will host reality style coverage of the events. Many of our local trainers will doing their part to help promote our sport and help teach novice participants; and get this, some have very little horse experience, possibly never rode a horse at all and will attempt in a short period of time to compete in the sport of cutting. This should be fun to watch along their journey. The Cutting Competition will be held Saturday evening during a dignitary dinner. I seriously doubt you want to miss that!
The following day will be the finals of the Mercuria and our 1st annual Rodear competition hosted by Jeff & Sheri Matthews and One Time Pepto and conducted by Merle & Sandi Newton. Check the website for competition schedules, clinic times, and FUN! If you haven’t already got your entry forms in, I would say “What are you waiting for?” With all this and so much more you will have more fun than you can imagine, and make memories that will last a lifetime!

Dr. Matt Woodington - Woodington Veterinary
Lecture at the Idaho Horse Park:
On Saturday March 24th we will be discussing conditions such as EHV-1 and 4 (herpes/rhino) and how they have impacted the horse industry.
Prevention, diagnostics and treatment along with biosecurity precautions the average horse owner can use to protect their animals.
Other wellness topics including vaccinations and deworming.
Health care:
After the lecture we will be offering vaccinations and coggins (testing for Equine Infectious Anemia) at a discounted rate. We will be avoiding the cost of farm calls or office visits by completing these procedures at the horse park on this day.
Cost of procedures:

Dr. Woodington was born and raised in the Treasure Valley. He attended Meridian High School and was active in the Meridian FFA Chapter. He was the Idaho FFA State Vice President in 2003-2004 while he studied Animal Science at the University of Idaho. He graduated with his DVM Degree from Oklahoma State University in 2009. In 2009 and 2010 he completed an Equine Medicine and Surgery Internship at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. This led him back to Idaho to start Woodington Veterinary, where he purchased Lakeside Veterinary from the living legend, Dr. Charles Lange. It is now Woodington Veterinary in Eagle and serves Eagle and the greater Treasure Valley area. A large portion of his business is equine, however he also works on dogs, cats, and a small number of cattle. Most of his large animal clients are based on a farm call system. He also cares for a large percentage of the race horses at Les Bois Park in Boise. They are a developing practice that is attempting to get up to date with the newest technology. Their most recent development is purchasing a digital radiograph (x-ray) machine that is 100% portable and can take radiographs on the farm and have instant results on the farm.
In his spare time (which is rare) Dr. Woodington is an avid college football fan, enjoys golfing and riding horses. Dr. Woodington loves to be in the mountains either on horseback or camping.

Ways to Help Your Horse Past Colic
March 13th, 2012
This useful guide brought to you by: The Intentional Horse
Dedicated to Empowering Horse Lovers
(and you may not need the Vet!)
Yikes! Your horse is showing signs of digestive discomfort – biting at the stomach (flanks), pawing the ground, laying down and rolling, stretching into unusual positions. He shows no interest in food and not passing any poop! What can you do?

  1. Take Vital Signs – (have this information if you should need to call the vet)
  2. Take the Temperature rectally – A horse’s normal body temperature is 99N – 101N F (37.5N – 38.5N C). Pain can raise the body’s temperature. The time to get concerned is if it is over 102N
  3. Check the Pulse – The resting pulse rate of an adult horse is about 30-40 beats per minute (bpm). If it is over 50 bpm may mean the horse is in physical distress. A young horse will typically be about 5 – 10 bpm higher. It is easiest to check the pulse just inside the jaw bone or behind the front elbow.
  4. Count Respirations – Adult horses at rest breathe about 8-15 times per minute. This goes up with hot or humid weather, exercise, fever or pain. The respiration rate should NEVER exceed the pulse rate. A horse should inhale and exhale for about the same length of time.
  5. Check the color of the Gums (this is a test of circulation) – They should be moist and pink. If they are very pale or blue, this can be an indication of shock.
  6. Check for Gut Sounds- Place your ear in the shallow area just behind the top of the last rib. Check both sides.
  7. Listen for gurgling sounds for 10 – 15 seconds. A lack of any sounds can mean that there is no peristalsis (contraction of the intestinal walls). IMPORTANT: This information is not meant as a replacement for veterinary care. It is not intended to replace consultation and discussion with a licensed veterinarian, nor is it intended to encourage the reader to postpone calling a veterinarian if you suspect any condition which is beyond your customary experience and ability to control.
  8. Give Probiotics – Activated probiotics can rapidly reset the beneficial gut flora, reducing gas pressure and lowering stress. We recommend 50 – 60cc of Dynamite’s Dyna-Pro (or other pre/probiotics that contain “fermentation product”) every 30 – 60 minutes until the horse is no longer in discomfort and has pooped.
  9. Rub the Belly Button with peppermint oil, tea tree oil, etc. This also stimulates peristalsis.
  10. Release Endorphins to help calm and lower pain levels by rubbing the gums above the teeth under the upper lip.
  11. Use Reflexology to lower pain levels by gently “pulling the ears” between the thumb (inside the ear) and forefinger (outside the ear).
  12. Massage or use acupressure on Equine Energy Points for colic and pain. (see chart)
  13. Load horse in a trailer – this stimulates the urge to poop.
  14. Keep Hydrated. If your horse is willing to drink, encourage it to do so. If it isn’t, try to give tepid (not cold) water with a 100 cc syringe.
  15. Relax the back and long muscles with Tail Pulls. Hold tail with both hands just below the last bone. Slowly pull with as much strength as your horse can handle at the angle of the croup. Hold for three breaths, then slowly release. Do this 3 to 5 times per hour until colic episode has passed.
  16. Quietly Walk or longe for 10 – 30 minutes per hour as this can distract your horse and encourage peristalsis. However, do NOT ride your horse.

NOTE: Pain Killers – Pharmaceutical pain killers such as Bute and Banamine can help a horse past the need for drastic rolling and thrashing. But use them sparingly and only with the advice of your Vet, as they can also mask indications of more serious forms of colic such as volvulus, torsion or displacement of the colon. Herbal and homeopathic remedies (Amazon Herb’s Recovazon, Arnica, Ruta Grav.) can also be very helpful with controlling pain and relaxing muscle spasms.

This useful guide brought to you by: The Intentional Horse
Dedicated to Empowering Horse Lovers

By Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM
As the spring show season nears, I greet it with a great sense of optimism tempered only by memories of last year’s devastating outbreak of EHV-1 at the Ogden cutting show that caused so much disruption of horse events as well at the loss of some phenomenal equine athletes. While enduring that outbreak I found myself hoping that some good would come out of it--that it would raise awareness in general of the risk of infectious disease that exists any time that you mix horses in a stressful situation. I hoped that people learned that common sense and some basic biosecurity are the best defenses against having another serious outbreak. Infectious disease will always exist in the equine population, and EHV-1 is not the only foe that we need to be cautious of--Influenza, strangles (Strep. equi), and EVA can have huge economic ramifications even if they do not have the high mortality experienced with the EHV-1 outbreak last year. EHV-1 is not gone--there are still clusters of cases being reported in California and elsewhere. Once a horse becomes infected with the virus they carry it for life and can start to shed it again when they become stressed—so we need to continue to remain vigilant.
Basic show biosecurity is the first step in keeping yourself safe when you travel:
• Bring your own water buckets and feed bags.
• When you fill your buckets do not dip the hose in the water.
• Do not tie your horse where it will have nose-to-nose contact with other horses.
• Do not pet another horse and then your horse without washing your hands.
• Sharing tack is an easy way to spread disease-both respiratory disease and skin disease.
• If a horse becomes sick-isolate it from the other horses at the show as quickly as possible. Feed and care for this horse after you have attended to your other animals. Wearing gloves or washing your hands carefully after handling the horse is a MINIMAL precaution--wearing a barrier gown or separate clothes when working with this horse is preferable. Use separate equipment to clean the stall or disinfect the equipment after cleaning the sick horses stall. Do not use water buckets or tack from the sick horse for any other horses without cleaning and disinfecting them.
• When possible use stalls with good ventilation that are set away from areas of high horse traffic.
The second step to preventing disease transmission is dependent on the responsible actions of all the horse owners at the show: DO NOT show your horse if they are sick. The economic ramifications of missing a show pale in comparison to the lost revenue and loss of animal life that occurred last year. It is up to all of us to be responsible stewards of our animals and in turn the horse industry. Signs that your horse is not feeling well are variable but it is good idea to have your horse evaluated by a veterinarian if:
• Your horse has a fever (over 101.5 degrees F).
• Your horse has any nasal discharge-particularly if it is thick or discolored.
• Your horse has a cough.
• Your horse has diarrhea.
• Your horse has any swollen lymph nodes-usually under their jaw.
• Your horse is more lethargic than normal.
• Your horse is not eating normally.
• Your horse is not urinating normally-either not urinating or dribbling urine.
• Your horse is uncoordinated in any way.
I believe that the events in Ogden were a wake-up call to horse owners everywhere. I do believe that the shows must go on and we should not live in terror-but that we should move on a little wiser and more vigilant, for if we do that the horses we lost will not have died in vain.

Dr. Robin Knight, DVM, husband Dr. Peter Knox DVM, and son Caleb

Idaho Equine Hospital, joins Gold Buckle Champions, to further the education of equine health and safety.

March 19, 2011 from 8:00 AM to 2:00
PM they will offer a reduced fee clinic.
$75.00 includes 3 way with WNV, flu/rhino, office call. This is a savings of $30.00. They will also offer a great price on your Coggins $25.00 and Health Certificates $21.00.
Hundreds of horses die each year from Anaphylaxis shock from reactions to vaccines. If you give shots yourself, the drug companies will not warrant the vaccines. SAVE yourself the worry of doing your own vaccinations, have a professional look at your partner to ensure you have a very prosperous season!
Stop by the Horse Park Show Arena and pickup your Gold Buckle Champions forms and receive 50 points for being responsible in your care for your equine partners.
This will allow you the discounts from Idaho Equine.  Be sure to tell them you are with Gold Buckle Champion.
Visit Legends in the Makingfor more details on Legends in the Making and the forms you will need.
Saturday March 19, is also the benefit BBQ for the Nampa Fire Department Burn Out Fund.
See this link for more details.  Burn Out Fund

Idaho equine will host a clinic during the March 2011 ICHA event to provide Coggins, health certificates, and vaccinations to all youth organizations.
To find out more information or to get your group involved, sign up for our newsletter on the right sidebar.

  • High School Rodeo
  • 4-H
  • FFA
  • Junior Rodeo Groups
  • Eh-Capa Bareback Riders

Dr. Billy Maupin was proud to volunteer Idaho Equine as our first Gold Buckle Champion Equine Clinic.
Ronnie Scott with the State Police Brand Inspectors Office will also be on hand to help educate you on what you need to do to keep your horses safe.

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