This is the second in a series of educational posts to help horse owners get to know their horses. This post will explain why you should know your horse’s body weight and what you can measure in order to calculate it.
You should have a fairly accurate weight of your horse for several reasons such as: dosing medications, supplements and dewormers. Also, to monitor weight gains or losses for health reasons or to help adjust the amount of feed they are receiving.
This most accurate way to get the correct weight of your horse is to use a calibrated weight scale and since most of us do not have a scale, we depend on other methods. The method most often used is a height and weight tape. The tape measures the heart girth (around the horse’s body at the withers) however, the tape does not take body length into consideration and we know that a tall horse can be short backed and a short horse can have a long body. There are also different tapes specifically for ponies, horses, and drafts.
There is a simple formula shown below (I used Ace as my model) which is a little more complicated (than just measuring around his body) but results are found to be a more accurate estimate of your horse’s body weight.
First, measure your horse’s heart girth in inches. This is from the base of the withers (a few inches behind the front legs) around the body and up the other side to meet the tape at the top of the withers as shown. Ace measures 75 inches.
Second, measure your horse’s body length in inches. Measure the distance between the point of the shoulder and the point of the hip. Ace’s body length is 55 inches.
Third, calculate the weight:
- Multiply the heart girth by the heart girth 75 x 75 = 5625
- Multiply the result by the body length 5625 x 55 = 309375
- Divide the result by 300 then add 50 309375/300= 1031 + 50 = 1081
Ace’s estimated body weight is 1081 pounds.
This article was written by Susan Boyd and edited by Zachary Franklin, DVM
This will be a series of educational posts you can use to get to know your horse a little better. I am not talking about your horse’s mind or personality, I mean you should know things like his weight, what the normal gastrointestinal tract sounds like, what the normal range is for temperature, heart rate and respiration. This information will help you to recognize when there may be a problem. The first thing your doctor does when you visit is to take your weight and vital signs. Your results are compared to a “normal” range (looking for anything that might be above or below what is considered normal or healthy). A record is created, this becomes a historical record of what is normal for you and comparisons are made each time you visit so your doctor can watch for trends and changes that might indicate a potential health issue or concern. I believe that a horse owner can avoid some serious health issues and recognize a problem early by being proactie by keeping records and checking vital signs, comparing them to the prior normal’s for their horse. These posts will cover the list of items below and will explain how to check them, and we will give you the values which are considered the normal range (note that there will be some variation in the normal vaues depending on age, breed, condition, etc.)
Here are some of the things you want to know about hour horse
- Body Weight
- Body Condition
- Respiratory Rate
- Heart Rate
- Color and feel of the gums plus the capillary refill time
- Digital Pulse on all 4 feet and hoof temperature
- Gut Sounds
Knowing how to obtain this information from your horse can also be a great help to you when consulting with your veterinarian if you think there may be a health problem. Providing this information during your call to set up an appointment may help him/her determine if the situation is an emergency or not.
These posts will cover one item at a time so watch for the post next week.
Written by Susan Boyd, edited by Zachary Franklin, DVM
This is Ace in his new Cook’s Bitless Bridle. So far he seems comfortable, responsive, and very focused on me. He is spot on with his groundwork and we will see how it works from the saddle this week. He will stop and back with verbal cues just as fast as he does with light pressure on the reins. I was putting the hay in the slow feeders the other day and he walked up to me. I had hay in my arms and I told him “back” and he took two steps back, away from me and the hay. Bragging….you bet I am.
We still have a lot to learn. He is so much further ahead of me but I will catch up. He stands at liberty for me to work on his feet, He follows at liberty too but we need to work a little on my personal space. He just has to understand how close he can get without an invitation to come closer. He is a fast learner. I just have to get better at making things easy for him to understand.
Everyday he impresses me with his willingness and ability to understand what I want….in spite of my lack of knowledge and fact that I still am working to learn how to help him.
I just added my new perpetual calendar to my Etsy store. The calendars are 11 inches high by 4 1/4 inches wide, a cover and 12 pages bound by owires. The perpetual calendars are good every year and can be used over and over again.
Each page (each month) has a picture of a hand-painted (watercolor) orchid.
I will be selling these on my Etsy store to help feed rescued animals. A portion of the profits will be donated to one of the several animal rescues that I work with. These are great for keeping track of birthdays and anniversaries and they make excellent gifts.
T’was the night before Christmas
And all through the glades
The sounds of the season
Are heard as preparations are made.
The herd is all tacked with holly and bells
And the packages are loaded on the sleigh.
Santa is seated and ready to go and
Soon they’ll be on their way.
Delivering presents and Christmas cheer,
Vanessa and Bo will be leading the team.
Swani and Shadow are right behind
Followed by Ice and Dalton, all living a dream.
All helping Santa this Christmas eve night.
So listen real close for whinnies and bells
Then look to the sky for the sleigh and my herd
And listen for Santa as they go by and he yells….
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good year.
A Barefoot Horse On The Trail
As mentioned in the previous 3 posts, “The barefoot horse” is not just a description of a horse without shoes nor is it just a description of the hoof condition of a horse. Rather, it is a description of a lifestyle of a horse. The lifestyle of a barefoot horse includes:
- A free choice, forage based diet which is low in sugar, low in starch, and balanced to have the correct amount and ratios of vitamins and minerals for the type of hay being fed.
- Living conditions and environment which allow for and encourage movement over several different types of terrain including grass, gravel and rock.
- Daily exercise that includes walking, trotting and galloping. Horses in open range situations will travel 15 or more miles a day.
- A proper barefoot trim every 4 to 6 weeks. Some horses can go longer if the environment promotes some self-trimming.
This post covers the trim and is the last post in this series that will define ideal conditions listed above that are important for the development and maintenance of a healthy barefoot horse and give you some reasonable and practical options.
A proper barefoot trim every 4 to 6 weeks….some horses can go longer if the environment promotes some self-trimming (is very rocky or has a lot of gravel). It is important to know that a pasture trim and a barefoot trim are not the same. A pasture trim is often used during off season (when you cannot ride) to allow the hoof to rest from being shod. A barefoot trim uses the natural hoof as a model and is designed to help the hoof grow into and function as a healthy natural foot. A general description is a balanced trim with “low heel, short toe, slight arch at the quarters, and a mustang roll that eliminates peripheral loading (weight on the outer wall of the hoof)” The natural hoof bears the majority of the weight on the inner wall, frog, bars, and peripheral area of the sole (and related inner structures). The natural hoof model is the goal and the trim sets the hoof up to allow for proper growth resulting from pressure and release (stimulus caused by impact, flexion, distortion). You cannot carve a good foot, you have to grow one and that takes a combination of proper diet, environment, exercise, trim and time (about a year). I try to offer reasonable and practical options but the only option here might be that you can extend the number of weeks between trims if the horse gets a proper barefoot trim and enough movement and exercise over terrain that promotes some self-trimming. Note that proper self-trimming can only be accomplished if the horse’s environment includes some gravel and rock. Extending the time between trims without the proper environment can be detrimental and inhibit hoof growth or promote incorrect growth.
Written by Susan Boyd Edited by Zachary Franklin, DVM
Thank you to my friend Jamie McNeil for photos of her barefoot horses
As mentioned in posts 1 and 2, “The Barefoot Horse” is not just a description of a horse without shoes, nor is it just a description of the hoof condition of a horse. Rather, it is a description of a lifestyle of a horse. The lifestyle of a barefoot horse includes:
- A free choice, forage based diet which is low in sugar, low in starch, and balanced to have the correct amount and ratios of vitamins and minerals for type of hay being fed.
- Living conditions and environment which allow for and encourage movement over several different types of terrain including grass, gravel, and rock.
- Daily exercise that includes waling, trotting and galloping. Horses in open range situations will travel 15 miles or more a day.
- A proper barefoot trim every 4 to 6 weeks. Some horses can go longer if the environment promotes some self trimming.
This is the third in a series of articles that will define ideal conditions listed above that are important for the development and maintenance of a healthy barefoot horse and give you some reasonable and practical options. Continue reading