Friday, July 29, 2016

What is a tack noseband?

I actually came across this while researching bicycle chain bits - I've never heard of one before now and I'm rather glad.

It's a noseband that literally has tacks sticking out of the inside - they're round, not sharp, but still a pretty harsh thing. Some people use it to prevent ingrained head tossing. I can't think of any other situation in which one would be appropriate.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What is a bicycle chain bit?

Okay, here we go. A bicycle chain bit has a mouthpiece that looks like a bicycle drive chain.

It's one of the bits most likely to be cited as "abusive" - a bike chain bit is one of the harshest bits in existence. Some people find that it works very well on a horse that tends to lean with a skilled rider. They're also called "mule" bits (although I personally don't know that a trained mule needs a different bit from a trained horse).

I personally would not use one, especially an older one - they can be sharp.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What is a waterford bit?

A waterford bit is made of rounded segments - it almost looks like a chain (it is not the same thing as a bicycle chain bit, which I'll talk about tomorrow).

It's used on horses that try to lean on the bit because it moves too much in the horse's mouth for them to successfully get all their weight onto it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is a kineton noseband?

A kineton noseband has metal loops that hook around the bit. Essentially, this adds nose pressure to bit pressure when the rider touches the reins.

It's often used by show jumpers and eventers on strong horses, because some people consider it kinder than going up to a harsher bit. Some people, however, consider it too severe itself.

Monday, July 25, 2016

What is an Australian cheeker?

It's a rubber strap that runs from the bridle headpiece, down the horse's nose, and then splits to form two rings around the bit. It keeps the bit higher in the horse's mouth and is thought to make it harder for the horse to pull or lean.

It's generally seen on racehorses.

Friday, July 22, 2016

What is a split ear bridle?

A split ear or one ear bridle is a bridle which has a crownpiece that is split and goes around one ear (either the right or the left). This kind of bridle is used by western riders. It has no browband, no noseband and sometimes no throatlatch. Some riders prefer the minimalist look. It can be a good bridle for horses that don't like browbands, but some horses dislike the feel of the leather around their ear. Some also believe a split ear bridle is less secure than a regular one. Two ear bridles also exist, but are much rarer.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What is a barcoo bridle?

A barcoo bridle is commonly used in the Australian style of riding. It has a metal ring on each side to which the browband, headpiece and throat latch are attached, and generally does not have a noseband.

Image source: Cgoodwin via Wikimedia commons.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What is a grazing bit?

A grazing bit is a particular kind of curb bit with bent shanks, often used by cowboys for trail rides - the bent shanks allow the horse to graze during breaks (some people believe horses should never be allowed to graze with a bit). It's actually a bit of a harsher bit because the rein signal happens faster - the quick "reaction time" makes it popular with reiners.

Monday, July 18, 2016

What is seedy toe?

Seedy toe is the hoof wall separating from the underlying structures at the toe. It can be caused by conformation (long toe and low heel), laminitis or simply poor quality hooves.

Not all horses with seedy toe are lame - and lameness often indicates infection.

It's very treatable, but treatment does involve removing the diseased horn, and has to be done by an expert. This is followed by special shoeing to support the foot until the hoof grows out properly, which can take a long time - think about how fast your fingernails grow. Hooves grow at about the same speed.

Friday, July 15, 2016

What is quittor?

Quittor is a disease associated with working draft horses (for some reason - it's rare in light horses). It's chronic inflammation of the cartilage in the foot, which can lead to death of the cartilage and extensive damage to the foot. It's caused by a deep infection in the foot, either from a puncture wound or an injury to the coronet or pastern.

Treatment is to drain the inflammation and horses often require surgery - meaning that before surgery on horses was easy, quittor could easily be a death sentence for the animal.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What is pedal osteitis?

Pedal osteitis is inflammation of the soles of the forefeet - it's not quite the same thing as laminitis, but can be caused by it, although it's primarily caused by working a horse too hard on solid going. There's no cure for it, and the horse will eventually go permanently lame, but special shoes can keep them sound for longer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What is keratoma?

A keratoma is a benign tumor of the cells that make the hoof. It often occurs between the bones of the foot and the hoof capsule, and can affect either the wall or the sole. It's sometimes caused by injury or poor shoeing, but there may also be a genetic component.

Keratomas are generally removed as soon as they are found, with the wound covered by hoof replacement material. It can take up to a year for the hoof to return to normal. Untreated keratomas can cause bone damage. Most horses that get surgery recover well, but if bone damage is present the prognosis can be guarded.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Do horses get corns?

If you've ever had a foot corn, you'll know it's painful, and it's most often caused by an ill fitting shoe.

Horses can also get corns. They occur between the wall and the bar, most often on the inside of the front foot. And guess what? They're caused by...

...ill fitting shoes.

And yes, they're painful. Horses with corns are lame and often have to be put on stall rest. And, of course, the ill fitting or poorly placed shoe has to be removed and replaced. A pad is often put on until the corn heals.

Monday, July 11, 2016

What is canker in horses?

Canker is a hoof disease that's associated with heavy draft horses, and seldom (but not never) seen in light horses. It's an infection and enlargement of horn producing tissues - and we still don't know what causes it. It's most often found at the back, and often isn't found early enough to treat easily - usually by the time it's visible on the outside of the frog it's pretty bad. The horse has to have all of the infected tissue removed and an antibiotic dressing applied daily - often for weeks or months. Many horses with canker are not lame (which also makes it hard to detect) and can even be worked lightly while the wound heals.

Friday, July 8, 2016

What is coon foot?

Coon foot is otherwise known as "Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis" and is most often seen in gaited horses, especially Peruvian Pasos and Paso Finos, but sometimes occurs in other breeds.

It's also called Passive Suspensory Ligament Failure and Deep Suspensory Ligament Desmitis.

It affects both front legs and sometimes the hind legs as well. The suspensory ligament breaks down under normal weight bearing (In Pasos it's been seen in yearlings), causing the fetlock to drop and joint problems in the pastern. DSLD appears to be hereditary, especially in Pasos (which often have to be euthanized and at best are pasture sound only) - so an animal with DSLD should not be bred (in any case, a mare with coon foot is likely to suffer pain from carrying the extra weight of the foal).

It can sometimes be treated with special shoeing and trimming.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What is "flat bone?"

Flat bone is an old term for a horse with "flat" legs. Obviously, the bone itself is not flat, but a well-conformed lower leg with round bones and tendons and ligaments in the right place appears flat from the side - this is considered highly desirable for soundness.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why do we say whoah?

Whoa, whoah, ho. I admonished a beginner with "Don't stay stop, say whoah. The horse doesn't understand stop."

But why is it that whoa, ho, or some similar sound seems to show up anywhere horses are used, regardless of the language spoken by the handlers? I did some research - whatever word is used, it's some variant of the 'oh' sound.

The reason? I have no idea. I suppose we could say "It's tradition" but it seems a very widespread tradition. So, I suspect, the 'oh' sound is something horses respond to particularly well. Some horses are trained to ho and others to whoah, but they seem to make the switch easily (Although I always use the one they're specifically trained to if I know what it is).

Put this one down for "tradition" for now.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Vacation Pictures!

Skipping the question today to share some pictures from my visit to Bitterroot Ranch in Wyoming.

The Bitterroot ranch Lawn Maintenance Crew - because why use a lawnmower when you have ponies?

Some of the herd in the corral. Yes, there are lots of greys - the ranch breeds Arabians and their primary sire for 15 years was grey...

Look carefully - riding out on the road into beautiful country.

And, of course, we had to go to the rodeo!

Friday, July 1, 2016

What is sex reversal syndrome?

Sex reversal syndrome is a genetic disorder in horses that causes XY embryos to develop female. Most of these mares are infertile and some are obviously intersex. (Some can appear to be normal and produce foals, though, but the syndrome appears to be hereditary).