Horse Navicular

It has been observed that horses with good feet have more blood vessels in the lateral cartilage than those horses with chronic poor feet.

Symptoms of Navicular

Navicular is commonly known as “heel pain” occurring in the back half of the hoof. This pain is caused by the erosion of the navicular bone, the navicular bursa and the inner part of the deep digital flexor tendon. Long toes, long heels, untrimmed frogs and bars, high toe angles all create this insidious disease.

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DSLD and Peruvian Paso horses

DSLD (degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis) is found in many breeds of horses…. not just in Peruvian Pasos. However, unfortunately, Peruvian Pasos have a disproportionate, larger amount of this disease, more than any other breed I am aware of.

This is undoubtedly the result of the very small gene pool that now provides the foundation for the current breed, a change that took place after the agricultural land reform in Peru, as it developed from a workhorse to a show horse.

The problem is also exacerbated by the facts that Peruvian Pasos have been selectively bred with extra long pasterns (to soften their ride) and with a more than usual cycle hocked conformation (to make them reach under themselves further). These structural characteristics just tend to exacerbate the problem.

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Gaited horse breeding business for profit?

To shed some light on this, let me tell you a little story.  A few months ago a woman, who works for a magazine I have written articles for occasionally off and on over the years, came to me at my booth at a horse expo, where I was a featured clinician.

She asked me if I would be willing to let a young lady (about early junior high age) interview me.  Naturally, I said, “Sure”. I really enjoy doing things like that.  This sweet young gal asked me the same question you are now asking me; what did I think about her making a career as a horse/breeder trainer?

Without hesitation, I told her she’d be better off to stay in school and become a doctor, lawyer, or business executive, and play with horses as her hobby… her recreation instead of her vocation.

Well, no surprise, the lady from the horse magazine was horrified by my answer.  She got really angry with me.  In fact, come to think of it, I haven’t been invited to write for that magazine since then.  I guess the little girl was surprised by my answer too.
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Saddle Fitting

Frequently, poor saddle fit affects the gait of a Paso (or gaited horse) negatively. If the saddle makes the horse uncomfortable the horse will try to compensate by changing its body shape, to alleviate the pressure points that cause the discomfort.

The most common saddle fit problem comes from a saddletree (the frame the saddle is built on) that bridges in the mid-section, and makes excessive contact on the four corners of the bars.

This usually results in the horse lifting its back up into the saddle to get the pressure off its shoulders and/or loins – a problem caused by a saddle tree that has bars that are too straight and/or too long.

With it’s back lifted up into the saddle, the horse can’t get its head up in its natural working position. And, consequently, the gait soon goes away. Saddles with bars that are too long also place the rider too far back on the horse’s back, tipping the rider forward, and thus shifting the rider’s weight forward, too. This makes the horse short step in the front.

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Hoof Care

Pick out your horse’s feet. It is the single most important thing you can do for your horse’s hooves.

Before each ride, remove any stones or small objects lodged in his feet before you add your weight to the situation, and check on the condition of his shoes after you untack him.

Each time you clean your horse’s hooves, take an extra couple of minutes after you’ve pried out any packed debris to gently clean the crevice of the frog, and scrape any remaining bits of matter off the sole with the tip of the pick. You want to be able to see the sole’s entire surface, so finish the job with a stiff brush. Some hoof picks come with the brush attached.

While handling your horse’s feet to pick them out, notice their temperature; when everything’s OK, they’ll feel very slightly warm. Take a moment to locate the digital pulse with two fingers pressed against the back of his pastern; look for the strength of the pulse under normal conditions.

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Horse Care and Equine Massage

Equine Massage is most effective when used as a preventative measure before or after a horse show competition. Equine sports massage will prepare your equine athlete to perform his very best. This particular form of massage will keep your athlete flexible thereby preventing further injuries to his muscles. Taking good care of your horse should be your primary goal when competing.

The one stroke that makes SPORTS massage distinct is COMPRESSION.

The other strokes which are used to complement COMPRESSION are: Direct Pressure, Cross Fibre Friction, Percussion, and Palpation.

Because muscle injuries are cumulative the rider is not aware of an injury. Equine massage will help alleviate structure misalignment due to stressful training.

Failure to detect the early signs of injury will lead to poor levels of performance and often to more serious injury. So many horses are discarded needlessly because they are not given a chance to heal with a specific massage treatment or proper veterinary consultation.

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