Monday, July 28, 2014

Horsenalities in the Show Industry: Right Brain Introverts

      Second edition of my "Horsenalities in the Show Industry" goes to the Right Brain Introverts (RBI). They have a hard time in the show world, and are most often the "give away" and "auctioned off" horses. They do not handle stress very well, and when rushed, forced and pushed tend to explode in very dangerous ways. They more often than not end up being labeled as unpredictable and dangerous.

      I have only encountered one true RBI in a show world setting, and he ended up being sent away after hurting two trainers in two different situations. It's difficult for me to understand how so many people can turn their backs on these guys, because their personalities can be so warming and their partnership connections are so strong when properly woven. Gaining their trust can be very difficult, and proving your competence even more so... but the biggest cause of wastage for these guys is because they need time. A lot of it. Time and patience.
      They need time to think through each situation, especially in the beginning, without being pushed or stressed out. When they hit a wall in their comfort level, they hit it hard. And it causes them to recoil in anxiety. As a trainer, it is our responsibility to recognize this recoil and step back and wait for them to relax again. As long as they are pent up, nothing we can do will make them move forward faster than doing nothing at all. They need to break down their own wall slowly, calmly and without persuasion; before they can move on to anything new. And if you do push them, they will get more and more tense.. and build up more and more energy until one little last straw and BOOM. This is when someone is likely to get hurt. A seemingly quiet and ignorant horse turns into a cascade of flying hooves and bucks. Many label this as behaviour associated with the latest action, but it's the build up of the entire session from that first moment of anxiety. They have effectively hidden it within them and suppressed that anxiety until a few seconds ago, when it finally boiled over and exploded.

      So the best way to work with a RBI? Prepare yourself to avoid the beginning phases of anxiety in the first place. Go slow. Be patient, and as always, be supportive. These guys get scared easy, tense up fast and get lost in their own fear world unless you hold their hand and keep them safe. The first signs of anxiety need to be taken as seriously as the big bucking fit you might experience in 20 minutes if you were to ignore those anxiety signs. You need to address them immediately. Step back, relax and wait for them to relax too. Don't ask anything more of them until they breathe a sigh of relief, lick and chew and tag up.

      They take the longest in the beginning, and for awhile it seems like maybe you aren't getting anywhere with them. But as long as you make a little progress every day, and end somewhere better than where you started, you are on a good track. Somedays you start and it feels like you went back in training a few steps from the day before, but that doesn't matter as long as you end on a good note. Make everything possible as positive as you can. And if you can't handle the frustration that you might hit, it is imperative that you step away as soon as you notice it. These guys do not handle negative emotions well. They retreat very quickly and will start to act out in ways that will make you even more frustrated. So nip that vicious cycle in the butt and call it quits before it escalates.

      When handled and treated right, a RBI will give you the world. They will try, go slow and be safe. As long as they feel safe. So work towards your partnership as hard as you can with these guys in the beginning, and once you can break down those walls and start with a trusting friendship from the gate; you'll be set to take on any new challenge together with ease!

      Anyone think they have a RBI at home? What was your first impression of them?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

That Moment...

      Today I experienced a serious break through in myself, one that I have held very safe for a very long time. A little under 3 years ago I had a very debilitating injury to my left temporal lobe. It left me unconscious at the time of the incident, forced me into months of recovery, pushed me to a breaking point with the people I love and also created a wall around my ability to trust myself and my horse in the saddle again. It took me months to get back to the barn in the beginning, more months after that to get back into the saddle... And even though I went "back to normal" after some time; there was a big part of my confidence that never came back. I was always very cautious getting into the saddle of any horse, which tends to be very difficult to explain to people when you are being paid to train their horses, but even more so I was convinced I would never feel myself again. I would never feel safe, never feel courageous to try something new, something fun.

      But today I felt that again. It sparked out of my chest and engulfed my entire being. I felt as though I could fly anywhere, and I didn't worry about getting hurt, I didn't fear, I didn't fret. I just felt those powerful legs beneath me and let go.

      I owe this feeling to two very important horses in my life. My forever love and first horse Johnny, and my Mum's rescue horse Spirit. My fall was off of Johnny, before I had even decided to buy him. And at 16.3hh he has made me very nervous to mount since then, until today. Though my fall was entirely my fault and I never blamed any of my pains on him; the memory was always so real and the sharp pain in my left forehead was nauseating. But through it all he has never let me down for a second. He has always gotten back up and faced the world with me. For his endless patience and deepest soul; I am so grateful.
      Spirit was the last piece of the puzzle for my breaking through, for my courage to meet up with me again in understanding. Spirit scared the living daylights out of me the first time I worked with him, he charged, kicked and reared and made me feel so insignificant as a horse trainer.. I thought I would fail from that point on. But with some guidance from my mentor, and then being left to my own thoughts with him. He helped me prove to myself that I am capable. And beyond capable, I achieved something I never thought I would. I got on him, without any fear. I have put off his starting under saddle for months and months because every time I knew he was ready; my stomach would turn and I would make myself sick thinking of the battle we may have. I didn't want to get on him and scare him and then not know what to do. I needed to be everything I could for him, so he would have the best experience possible.
      He helped me find that courage because he trusts me. After a year in our care, in our love, in our embrace; he stepped away from his aggression and came to me. He burst through the cage of his own fear, and taught me how to do the same. So today when I stepped into the saddle, I didn't feel fear. I felt connection. We became a team. If he was going to trust me so heavily, I was going to return that favour. I promised to keep him safe if he promised to keep me safe. And that's how we went. Safe. Together.

      With this feeling in my bones, that break through all around me. I decided to try my first attempt at a bridleless lesson with Johnny. And in that moment, that break through.. When I let go of my reins and asked Johnny to keep me safe... He did. He lifted up and sat back and away we went.

I promised to keep him safe, I promised to keep this feeling alive again.. to feel like myself again. And to never second guess him again. I would always let go and enjoy the ride.

      With everything coming our way in the very near future, I can say with no word of a doubt.. That I am back. And I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us!

Much love with your own break throughs, take every moment you can get, and as always.. keep on keepin' on!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Curiosity to Build Bravery: Part Two

      How do we get our horses to come out of their shells and be curious? And how do we recognize curiosity in our horses in the first place? In this post I'm going to give you a few examples of games to play to increase your horse's curiosity, how to respond to their curiosity and first and foremost how to recognize it so you can reward it!

What is curiosity?
      Curiosity is defined by the want or need to learn something new, to investigate or explore. If you think about horses in the field, they tend to be pretty curious when it comes to new things in their environment. New food, new branches, trees or rocks... new people or other horses too! They perk their ears, snort at the air, look up and down at every angle and eventually go over and touch new things with their noses. Curiosity can sometimes be mistaken for fear in a horse, and sometimes they can be related. A flight animal's natural response to something new is to be afraid, it's what has kept them alive on this planet for thousands of years. But we know now that a horse's natural flight instinct can be trained, and their fear can be minimized and even changed into curiosity.
      The first thing you should do with your horse before venturing into a curiosity adventure, is make sure you have the ground rules laid out in plain horse. Make sure your horse knows how to back up away from you, give to direct and air pressure, and how to move their bum away from you and square up and stand facing you. These are your basic ground rules so you can be safe!
      From here it's time to make some curious adventures in a safe environment. Set out a few new pylons, poles, barrels and jump standards all with a little treat on top; somewhere in an area that you already work with your horse often. Now lead your horse around to each new object, and show them that there are treats on every new and interesting thing! When you approach each new object, make sure you take note of how your horse is responding and don't push past their threshold. Allow them to stop if they feel the need to, allow them to look up and down, put their noses to the ground etc. All you need to do is keep them facing that object; be supportive, understand that sometimes new things are scary. Allow them to investigate, breathe easy and eventually lick and chew in comfort. Only ask for another step forward when they have relaxed where they are. Their first step to show they are starting to be comfortable with the new object, will be when they stick their nose towards it.
      Once they've found their treat, reward them with praise and take a rest with this new found object. Give some rubs, scritches and words of congratulations. It's only going to get easier from here.

      After you've mastered all the new objects in your safe place; take a break. And take some time to recount on the behaviours you just witnessed in your horse. Were they quick to understand the "find the treat on the scary thing" game? Were they weary of all of the objects, or just one? Were they stuck in fear? Did they start to get excited after they realized treats were involved? These are all habits you should take note of so you know how your horse reacts to new things. So now what will work best to help calm them? Did they calm down after having a break, or after hearing your calming voice? Did they prefer treats instead?
      When you are ready to venture outside; make sure you bring your carrot stick with you to use for driving pressure incase things get heated. You need to be able to protect your space if your horse gets antsy, so they will be able to calm down and trust you as their leader. New objects outside can be as simple as a new rock in a new place, a tarp on a fence, a jump box with flowers or maybe a new walking route. Go with confidence, and keep note of how your horse is responding to the new environment. Everytime they stop in fear and perked ears, allow them to investigate what is scaring them. Keep them facing the scary new object, be supportive and wait. When the head drops, or they prop a leg up to rest; they lick and chew and relax, you can walk forward. Maybe a step or two, or maybe they are completely over it and it's time to head on to the next new object. The point is to constantly reward your horse for noticing the scary thing, and to get even more reward for calming down and getting over it. With careful progression, this will bring your horse into a state where new scary things are now new interesting things and only need a once over before they get passed by.
      Many people take this in another direction and instead "block" their horses from seeing new and scary things. They think that they can instead just keep their horse busy and not worry about the scary that is around them. But this is not how horses think, or how they react to stress and fear. By pushing them past scary objects, or by ignoring their fear you are proving to be a bad partner because you are putting your wants over the needs of the herd. By pushing them to suppress this fear, you are asking for trouble later on. They are not developing emotional control or discipline but rather building a ticking time bomb. So one day when they do get a good look at something scary; which you normally would have made them ignore, you are going to get all of that pent up emotional fear all at once. A horse has survived on this planet by reacting to EVERYTHING in their environment; they are hard wired for it. So you can't just train over that by ignoring it, however you can train it to work another way.

      My favourite example of this is with my English thoroughbred, Johnny. When I first got Johnny he was a very nervous and easily scared gelding. He would jump into my lap at the slightest rustle, take off from the smallest sight and ran me over more than a few times. But after doing basic ground work with him, and showing him that he could trust me.. he's learned to "tag up" with me. Every time he gets "scared" of something, he looks, processes, decides and turns to me; tags up and relaxes. By tagging up, I mean that he touches his nose to my hand. He learned this because every time he got scared of something, I didn't get mad. I waited. I supported him, calmed him with my voice and when he would turn to me; I would give him a treat. Now if you know me by now, I always ask my horses to lower their heads and touch my hand before I give them a treat.. So this eventually translated to him as a signal that he was ok, and that once he touched my hand he could relax. Nothing makes me happier than to see him pop his head up at a new noise, perk his ears, look, breathe and then turn to me and tag up. No spook, no running, and best of all no jumping into my lap!

Spirit says "I'm curious about those treats in your pocket!"

      Consistency and practice make the world of difference! Pick your relay of calming measures, make a list of how you are going to respond when your horse reacts. And choose your words, actions and treats wisely. And most important of all; if you are intimidated, scared or nervous at any time; seek the help of a professional. Your horse needs a confident and supportive helper to overcome fear; and to be properly rewarded for bypassing fear and creating curiosity. If you are adding to the fear with your own anxieties, it can make things worse for both of you. Having a good coach help you through your nerves will help you and your horse progress positively! And last but not least, leave your frustration and anger at the gate. Try to understand your horse's fear, and work with compassion. If at any time you do get frustrated, as we all do from time to time, just end your session for the day on a good note and go out to breathe. I will be the first to admit there have been several occasions when I have had to end my sessions with Spirit early because I was too emotional that day. It's better to quit while you are ahead, then to let your frustrations run away with you and end up doing more damage than good.

      What makes your horse's head pop up in a curious fashion? And how do you reward it? I want to know what you do with your horses to build curiosity!

Keep on keepin' on!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The True Sense of Progression is the Ability to Let Go

      I've come across a slew of different issues in the past few years between horse and rider, horse and trainer and horse and owner.. And the majority of it comes down to the idea of control. Human brains are very forward thinking, but also very narrow minded with horizon ideals. One way, get there. That's it. But that's a huge issue for a horse; our best example of a trial and error thinker. If something doesn't work, they don't get upset about it; they try something else. Failure is not something scary or bad to a horse; it's an answer to a question they asked. So now it's time to ask another question, and get a different answer. Unfortunately for those of us who haven't trained our brains like this just yet, that one single ideal is very hard to grasp. We often find ourselves asking the same question over and over, and expecting a different result. But never get one. Which creates room for frustration; and we think we've lost control, which can sometimes lead to aggression and anger.
      So how do those professional trainers keep a straight, calm poker face in every situation? You know what I mean, the Buck Brannaman face of pure comprehension; full of empathy. To me, it's to understand progression, the way your horse thinks, and to find empathy in everything that you do with your horse.

      What is progression then? And how do we understand it so we can use it to the best of our ability? You need to start with the idea of visualization. You have a goal. Let's say you want to walk up a steep hill. So your goal is the endpoint, arriving at the top of this hill. How do you progress up that hill? In the simplest way, you would walk straight up the hill and arrive at your destination without having to change your path. That is how we think of most problems. But most problems do not have simple answers, and definitely not such simple paths. So imagine now instead of thinking the easiest way to the top is the shortest distance, instead think of the easiest way as the way that works best, each step of the way. So that first walk up the hill may have actually included you stepping over a log, through mud and maybe you even slipped a couple times. But you made it straight there. No harm done, right? Wrong. Our way of thinking says that even if we get knocked down, we should get up, brush it off and continue back into whatever we just got hurt on. A horse's way of thinking is not like that. If the horse arrived at a log for instance, it's first instinct is to find a way around the log, not over it. This changes the horse's straight arrow path up the hill, but it also means less chance of getting hurt, and using less energy over all. A positive plus for the horse. But a mind boggling decision to us. I mean come on, it's just a step over a log right? Here is where your empathy has to set in. Think about how important those legs are to your prey animal horse. They are his only means of escape, defence and entire life. Is he really going to risk giving them up to injury because he would have to go off course? I don't think so.
      Back to progression. If a horse is ok with changing his path to get to the top of the hill, that means he does not necessarily "visualize" the entire path when he sets out for his goal. It means he has a start point, and an end point. With no real time line, no expectation except to get to the top in the most positive way possible. So each "step" up that hill, and every change he makes up there, is his progression. Maybe he starts up today, but finds a great patch of grazing only two steps up and decides to stay there for the entire day. Then gets another 5 steps and finds a fence in his way; now he has to go back a few steps to get around the fence. These are not set backs to a horse. They are necessary steps to take as part of the journey. Something that needs to be cherished more in our human like ways.
      We're predators. We're straight arrow thinkers. We see a goal and attack it. To be better partners for our horses we need to step down the left brain thought process and embrace our right brain empathies. When we begin to lose control of a situation; instead of fight to get control back, we need to sit back and relax and wait for control to come back to us. Sometimes the most important thing we can do for our horse is to breathe and live in the moment. We can't have expectations and forward thinking goals; we need to be in this moment right now. Because that is exactly where our horses are. We can have end point goals, but we cannot have a set path of how to get there. Every horse is different, every situation is different. Therefore we need to constantly be willing to change to fit those situations, so we can bring our horses along with us. Safe. Calm.

     I want to touch on empathy a bit more here too. Empathy is the most important quality you can have when working with a horse. And lending power to your empathy to make decisions for you, is going to make you the best of the best. Understanding what you do has an effect on your horse is very important. Relating to those feelings that you create is also important. It keeps you close, it keeps you grounded; and best of all it keeps you doing only what you would do to yourself, to your horse. This is good for both you and your horse. Giving over control is important to your horse, because gaining control is important to you. Having a moment to take a break is important to your horse, because being given a break is important to you. You often hear how people say our horses are a mirror to ourselves; this is true. Our horses show everything that we allow to do or happen to ourselves. Therefore to move forward, we need to know what we do and how that effects ourselves and our horses. We need to learn to be positive partners who empower each other. Push each other forward and reward the slightest try. Because we would want someone to empower us, push us and reward us. We would want someone to wait patiently while we work through a puzzle; rather than get frustrated and push us too fast. We would want someone to understand our fears, encourage us to be brave and walk hand in hand with us through the scary together. Instead of getting angry at how we respond to something we fear.

      Emotional control is a very important aspect of life. In our every day life in the human lifestyle, as well as with our horses second by second. We expect our horses to have emotional control every second we are around them; we should expect emotional control from ourselves every second too.

      There are a million and one practices to gain emotional control and to start teaching yourself how to think more like a horse... and it starts by playing with your horses! If you are interested in ideas for games, and training on how to best utilize your game time with your horse; send me an email! Let's chat.

Until then, keep on keepin' on!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Natural Horse Keeping Secrets

      In view of our new facility opening, I'd like to share some of our horse keeping methods; little tips and tricks that I've picked up from other professionals in the industry that I have decided to adapt into my own horse keeping methods.

Flax Bedding

      I've decided to use only flax bedding in our stalls for a few different reasons.. The major reason being the low dust content, guaranteed! If you've ever worked in a barn with wood shavings, or wood pellets; you know what a dusty environment it can be while mucking stalls, and even sweeping. It's not something you notice on a daily basis unless you are in it all the time, but that dust builds up. I have to clean my glasses at least twice throughout the day when working in a barn with wood type bedding, even the higher grade shavings that are "dust screened" eventually end up being dusty. It's the nature of the material it's made with, as it breaks down, it gets dusty. Flax bedding on the other hand does not break down in the same manner, and because it is more likely to absorb wet and humidity, it is proven to reduce dust materials in the air. Good for our horses, and nice for my glasses!

      Another reason why I've decided to use flax bedding is because of it's highly compostable nature. It is a neutral pH all natural material that won't affect soil content, and doesn't take years to break down the way wood materials do. That means my manure pile is actually my fertilizer pile! In this way I can spread manure once a year on the fields without having to worry about affecting the soil pH levels, ground water pH and it's a safe fertilizer for next years pasture.
      And as if they couldn't get any more green friendly, they also come packaged in recycled paper; ready to be recycled again! Flax bedding, for the win.

Brooks High Performance Grains
      Anyone with a thoroughbred knows the battles I've been through trying to keep weight on a horse in work, especially a horse who lives outside year round. I struggled for years trying to find the right high fat, high fibre, good protein, low sugar, not processed grain to keep weight on my thoroughbreds... and Brooks feed has been my answer! They have different rations for different types of energy, but my favourite two are Phase 5 and Omega Fibre Plus. Both have low sugar indexes, with the OFP having the lowest of any feed; and both provide safe cool fats for energy, and lots of fibre! Just the way mother nature intended. I use the Phase 5 for my "active" working horses, and the Omega Fibre Plus as my OTTB fix. The Omega Fibre Plus has no added grains; it's a pure mix of beet pulp, rice bran, flax seed and other high fibre sources of all natural forage. It's a bit more pricey than your average bag of feed, but since you don't need to add anything else to it, it's actually cheaper in the long run!
      It's also a great option for the overweight, sugar intolerant and diabetic prone horses and ponies out there. Just a little nibble to add some supplements or medications too. And you don't have to worry about them foundering or getting ill. Our QH cross came to us pretty overweight, but he still gets beet pulp with a bit of Phase 5 every morning for vitamins. And he's maintained a great size.

Diatomaceous Earth

      In my many evenings of research, I came across the use of DE to fight parasites and to lower negative ion levels in the digestive tract. I read about many other horse owners using it with great success with their horses, and even on themselves! Having some health issues myself, I tried it out on me and my family first. Then on to my horses. I still use an over the counter dewormer for all of my horses twice a year, but I also have them on a 30 day regiment of DE once a day every 60 days inbetween. They each get 1 cup per day in their grain. Best to feed it with wet feed, as it's quite dry and kind of gross tasting. Though I've never had an issue with getting the boys to eat it.
      So far the herd's fecal counts have been zero, and even my vet is surprised! I picked up a 50lb bag for about $45 plus shipping, and it is going to last me the rest of this year for sure. It's a great product, just make sure you order the "food grade" type.
      It also works wonders for skin parasites and lice. You use it as a bathing sand over the infected areas, and the DE kills the parasites. Scrub it on once a day, brush it off and repeat. And if you can, get a good warm bath in once a week.

Garlic Powder

      My wonderful farrier gave me this idea, as she does it with all of her horses. And I love the results! Feeding garlic powder in their grain helps to repel insects! It also strengthens their immune system and helps fight off intestinal parasites. You will have to add it slowly, as they do not enjoy the taste too much to start. But gradually increasing up to a table spoon a day helps keep those nasty bugs away. I do this for myself too, increasing how much raw garlic you eat helps to naturally ward off biting insects!

Gravel for Strong Feet

      We add gravel tracks to our paddocks to naturally increase the strength of our horses hooves. Make sure you use different grades, and start with small pack gravel if your horse isn't used to anything but soft ground. Horses' feet are meant to be on all types of terrain; but we often tend to baby their hooves, which inevitably ends up causing more damage than good. We baby their feet and "protect" them from hard surfaces; but this takes away their natural ability to grow hard feet to suit the hard terrain. Which means they end up with butter feet! By increasing the amount of hard ground and different terrains they walk on every day in their paddocks, we increase the strength and hardness of their hooves. No more stone bruising, no more feet wearing away from concrete surfaces. Hello shiny new tap hooves!

Mud Fever Preventatives and Cures

      Having a couple rescue horses made of tissue paper, and a poor client who sent her horse out to a buggy mess; I've dealt with way too much mud fever in the past year. From little scabbies on heels, to full blown black scabs up to the knees; it's pretty disheartening to see how fast it can spread, and how painful it is for the horses.
      Now I've been told a million different ways to handle mud fever; from picking the dry scabs off and letting it bleed, to soaking, to sand paper... And even the use of bleach on the scabs! It shocks me that common sense is often the first thing to go when dealing with another beings injuries. First and foremost, if you wouldn't do it to your own open wounds, you shouldn't be doing it to your horse. So bleach, picking scabs, and sand paper are OUT OF THE QUESTION. These all cause unnecessary pain, that's it. Another common action is to clip all of the fur off of the legs in a preventative way, but this is exposing the legs to more harm than good. They have hair/fur there for a reason, to protect themselves. The only time you should think about clipping is if there is too much feather in the way to properly treat an infection. Otherwise, trimming is ok, but do not expose the skin if it's not infected. You are leaving it vulnerable to more bad, then you are doing good.
      The cure? Wash everything from the knee down with warm water and betadine scrub. Suds up those legs and let that soak for 10 minutes. Rinse. Dry as best as you can. And apply an anti-fungal/anti-bacterial cream mixed with a corticosteroid and baby bum cream. You can pick all of these up from a drug store. I use "Hydrosone" for the corticosteroid, and plain zinc oxide; for the anti-fungal and anti-bacterial you can use hibitane with a bit of tee tree oil. Apply liberally over every scab, and work it into the skin/fur. Don't pick the scabs, most should "melt" off after the second or third day of washing without any bleeding! Do this every day for a full week. If your horse continues to have new scabs growing after a week, they need antibiotics in their system too. Get a vet out to prescribe a weeks worth of sulfa, and continue the treatment above during the anti-biotics treatment.
      No need to clip! No need to pick! No bleeding! No pain! And best of all, no scarring!
      The preventative? Keeping their legs as dry as you can. This can be a nightmare for outdoor boarders depending on where you keep your horses. A wet free environment isn't always available, but the ability to dry off after getting wet is essential. Horses are not meant to stand in mud all the time, it's bad for their legs and even worse for their feet! If you have a really muddy paddock in the spring and fall, it's time to invest in some gravel. Gravel is good for their legs, and even better for their feet!

Thrush Preventatives and Cures

      This is another topic I've heard of people using bleach for. And another serious no no. Just because their hooves are "hard" and seem to be "dead" tissue, they aren't. There are still nerves in there, and there are still places where bleach can kill live tissue. So again, NO BLEACH.
      Thrush is an anaerobic bacteria; which means it loves places that oxygen can't get to. So in a hoof with all kinds of nooks and crannies, we are likely going to find thrush. Another big issue that contributes to thrush is manure and ammonia. Even horses that only go out when it's dry, and have fluffed lovely stalls get thrush, and it's because of their own manure and urine. People often pick their horses feet after coming inside, but I think it should be the other way around if not both. A horse gets more dangerous bacteria in their feet from their own stalls, then they do from outside. So the best preventative is pasture and stall maintenance to reduce the amount of manure they step in every day, and how much residual ammonia is around to seep up into their frogs. If you have a horse inside, pick their feet every morning before they go outside, and make sure you have a nice clean pasture for them to go to. If your horse lives outside, you better be cleaning that paddock as often as possible!
      It may seem counterintuitive, but I see more cases of severe thrush in stall boarded horses than I do in horses who live outside 24/7. Now that said, mud is a big no no too. Again, horses are not meant to live in mud. Walk through it occasionally, yes, not live in it. Gravel!
      Another good preventative is to soak your horses feet weekly/biweekly in apple cider vinegar. SOAK. Either get your horse to stand in a small tub of it for 10 mins on each foot, or get some cotton balls and duct tape them into their soles and have a grazing party for 10 mins. That all natural medicine needs to get up into the cracks and crannies to do it's job. The unreachable places are usually where the thrush has it's home.
      Now you find yourself dealing with some already stinky feet; cure? If it's really terrible, I would suggest a one time treatment with "White Lightening". You can get it from your farrier, or local horse feed/tack store. Make sure you use it liberally, and up into any cracks. From there, you need to be more vigilant at picking your horses feet. And start treating with apple cider vinegar mixed with tee tree oil every day (sometimes twice a day in the beginning) to overcome the thrush entirely.
      One last note here for hoof care and thrush, don't forget to pick the central sulcus of the frog, the one that connects up into the heel. Too many people forget this, and then get horses with thrush into the heel, and then end up with contracted heels! The central sulcus
is the most important part to pick, as it leads up into the horses soft hoof structures and blood supply. Not somewhere we want flesh eating bacteria to go for a free buffet.
(Image from "")

      I hope these are interesting to you, and I encourage you to research into how you can add some natural horse keeping secrets into your horses life. They'll love you for it.

Keep on keepin' on!