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CHERRY HILL'S HORSEKEEPING NEWSLETTER

August 2007

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Where is the summer going ??!! I can't believe it is already August.

No matter what month of the year, we horsekeepers are busy ! Here are some things we do during August here on Long Tail Ranch.

These are excerpts from my upcoming book,

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping AlmanacCherry 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. To protect the bare hoof, see Bare Hoof below. Keep the horse confined in soft bedding.

Bare Hoof -

An unshod hoof should have rounded and smooth edges that resist chipping and cracking. When a hoof is prepared for shoeing, however, the edges are left sharp but they are protected by the shoe. When a horse loses a shoe, the sharp edge can easily break.There are several ways to protect the bare hoof until your farrier can replace the shoe.

Hoof boots come in various sizes and styles, so look for one that will fit your horse’s hooves. Hind hooves usually take a smaller boot than the front hooves. The boot should fit snugly and not rub the skin of the coronary band or pastern.

If you do not have a hoof boot, you can use several layers of duct tape to protect the edge of the hoof from chipping. If your horse has a tender sole, you can tape a cloth over the bottom of the sole to protect it.

Salt and Minerals -

Horses should have access to salt at all times. I provide each of my horses with two salt blocks. One is a plain white salt block that is simply table salt; sodium chloride. The other is a calcium/phosphorus trace mineral salt block. It is sometimes called a 12:12 block because it contains 12% calcium and 12% phosphorus or an equal ratio of calcium to phosphorus, which is good for most adult horses. Each of my horses shows a preference for one block or the other but all choose different blocks at different times.

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.

Sheath cleaning -

Male horses might have difficulty urinating or might rub their tails because of a dirty sheath. The sheath is the protective envelope of skin around the penis. Fatty secretions, dead skin cells, and dirt accumulate in the folds of the sheath. In addition, a “bean" of material can accumulate in the diverticulum adjacent to the urethral opening. This black, foul smelling, somewhat waxy substance is called smegma.

Depending on the individual horse's smegma production, the sheath should be cleaned about once or twice a year. You can clean the sheath somewhat with the penis retracted into the sheath, but you can do a more thorough job if the penis is down. Once a horse is accustomed to the procedure, he will likely relax and let his penis down for cleaning. Usually the best time for this is on a warm day after a work out when the horse is somewhat tired and relaxed. If the horse is very touchy in his genital area, you could have your veterinarian tranquilize the horse so your horse will be more manageable and relaxed.

To clean a sheath, you will need:

    • warm water
    • a hose
    • a small bucket
    • mild soap
    • rubber gloves,
    • a tube sock
    • and hand towels

Because smegma has a strong, offensive odor, first put a rubber glove on your right hand and then cover it with a large tube sock. Use a safe handling position with your left hand up on the horse's back. Do not lower your head to see what you are doing or you could be kicked.

Soak the sock in warm water and wet the sheath area with handfuls of water. Add a very small amount of liquid soap (such as Ivory) to the tube sock and begin washing the sheath inside and out. There are also several commercial products designed especially for sheath cleaning. You will be able to remove large chunks and sheets of smegma as you work.

The best way I have found to rinse the sheath thoroughly is to use a hose, warm water and moderate to low pressure. Most horses learn to tolerate, and then enjoy this after one session. You can insert the hose 2-3" into the sheath to rinse. However, until accustomed, a horse's natural reaction is to kick upward with one of the hind legs. A horse can easily reach a fly on his belly with this method so your hand and arm could be in danger. Hold them as high and as close to the horse's belly as possible until the horse gets used to the sensation of the water.

Older horses that are quite used to the process will lower the penis so you can clean the penis also. Use only warm water on the penis, no soap. Often a ball of smegma, called a "bean", will accumulate in the diverticulum near the urethral opening. The bean can build up to a size that could interfere with urination. Sometimes the "bean" material is white but usually is black. To remove it, move the skin at the end of the penis near the urethral opening until you find a blind pouch. This part of sheath cleaning is the time when your horse is most likely to kick. Usually once you find the bean, you can roll it out quite easily. This bean is of the size and hardness that could cause discomfort on urination.

Udder cleaning is a snap compared to sheath cleaning. Use the same supplies, techniques and safety principles.

© 2007 Cherry Hill, all rights reserved.

 

 

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