Friday, 27 December 2013

The Secret of Happiness

Bonbon got me thinking

Happiness is IMO something you need to cultivate, you need to stop and capture the moment and 'bank' it for those tougher times. You also need to learn to recognize it, capture the moment and acknowledge it when you do have it.

 I also think there is a lot to be said for counting what you do have and not what you don't, as Miranda the Panda said "Negative thinking is a habit, just as much as positive thinking"

 Chorrie was off games for ages, I could have wallowed and as Bonbon said carried my own little black cloud around with me but the outcome would have been the same, I'd have just made the journey harder. A colleague at work has a mantra 'travel in hope'  I am full of admiration for her. Hence why I tried my best to travel in hope with Chorrie and even though I didn't think too much about him coming sound again, I did say thanks for just having him in my life and being able to kiss his muzzle.

 That said I don't believe it helps much to be told others have it worse. I thought what RoxR wrote on a blog entry summed it up very well

 "While it is always horrid to realise that other people have some truly terrible situations in life, it by no means diminishes a person's own life's challenges at their own particular time - everyone is as deserving of a hug and support when they need it, no matter what the scale is."

 Grief isn't relative, my horse being off twenty months doesn't make it any better for the person with a horse off two months/days etc.

 Acknowledge your sadness and hopefully it too will pass.

 When people said to me he'll be back as good as he was, clearly they do not know that and the first few times I did make that argument, then I realised they were trying to be supportive and just said thank you. I still may not have believed it, but just like when someone dies what do you say? You say something and we need to accept it in the way it was meant not as their knowing the literal truth.

 I think assuming the best of people helps for happiness.

 I also think there is little point in taking things personally, my mother always used to say 'if the cap fits' so generally I do my best to assume it isn't personal (even if the cap fits I sure as hell am NOT going to admit that!), anyway even if it is, then never complain, never explain serves me better and totally ignore it.

 This took a great deal of willpower earlier this year, but I think doing so made a rough time less rough, remind me of this later!

 So happiness for me is a habit and yes life can be a sh1t storm but you keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually this too will pass.

 And if all else fails then as Joel Osteen said

 "If you cannot be positive then at least be quiet"

 Well it amused me!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Colic Surgery and Postoperative Ileus in Horses

Colic Surgery and Postoperative Ileus in HorsesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 12, 2013

Studies indicate that about four to 10 out of every 100 horses can be expected to colic each year. Many mild cases of equine colic resolve without treatment, and even more severely affected horses can often be helped with pain medications, hydration, and other supportive care. For some colics, however, surgery is the only treatment.
No one knows the cause of postoperative ileus, which occurs in an estimated 10 to 50% of equine surgical colic cases.
When a horse needs this very serious surgery, owners need to consider cost, the physical demands of the procedure on the horse, care during the recovery period, and the risks of both the surgery and the hours and days immediately after the operation. One of the most serious complications of abdominal surgery in horses is postoperative ileus, a condition in which the intestines react to the shock of surgery by failing to regain motility. Gut contents cannot be moved, gas builds up, and tissues can die, leading to a second surgery and sometimes a fatal outcome if the condition can’t be reversed.

No one knows the cause of postoperative ileus, which occurs in an estimated 10 to 50% of equine surgical colic cases. Of these horses, up to 80% may die or be euthanized. Recent research suggests there is a significant inflammatory component to postoperative ileus, possibly triggered by unavoidable handling of the horse's intestines during surgery. Researchers have also learned that intestinal macrophages, the specialized white blood cells that rid the body of damaged tissue, and mast cells likely play a role in developing and maintaining ileus.
The diagnosis of postoperative ileus is not always straightforward, as most horses will naturally show some signs of discomfort after abdominal surgery. Pain also could be due to mechanical obstructions or other surgical complications. Besides signs of mild to severe colic, several important criteria for a diagnosis of ileus are heart rate remaining above 40 beats per minute; evidence of a fluid-distended small intestine on rectal examination or ultrasound; and four or more liters of nasogastric reflux on a single intubation or more than two liters on each of several repeated intubations.
Treatment options for postoperative ileus may include one or more therapies including nasogastric decompression, administration of fluids and electrolytes, medications to prevent endotoxemia and other infection, management of pain and inflammation, and use of lidocaine or another drug that facilitates the bowel in moving its contents (prokinetics). Offering the horse something to eat as soon as possible during the recovery period is helpful in preventing or lessening the severity of postoperative ileus, and hand-walking is also suggested as soon as the horse is able to move with coordination.
The use of carboxymethylcellulose, an intestinal lubricant, is somewhat controversial because of conflicting research reports as to whether it reduces or increases the chance of adhesions after abdominal surgery. There are also mixed opinions on whether a second surgery is beneficial. This option can sometimes locate the problem and correct blockages, but there is the potential for more harm to the horse that is already challenged. There is some evidence that horses undergoing a second colic surgery soon after the initial procedure have a reduced survival rate and more complications during recovery.

Monday, 23 September 2013

23rd September at Arrow

Really concentrating on trying to sort out my crookedness on a horse.

Pooh wallows from side to side and I join in and by doing so increase the collapse of my right side

If I concentrate more on the front to back movement and keep my left elbow "pinned" to my side almost pushing into my left and think right side forward 

Basically the human equivalent of shoulder fore

SFO suggested some body work on a physio ball so have spoken to a Pilates person who works with a lot of riders

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

So how fair is the Fairfax?

£220 for a girth you've got to be kidding me?

Yes cards on table am a complete cynic but none the less as my lovely saddler has them to try thought I'd see what the hype is about.

Day 0 Tuesday 6th August  20:30 sand/rubber Fairfax

So the potential confounding factors

recent physio (Mon)
recent saddle adjustment (30 minutes previously!)
sand/rubber school (usually ride in other school)
riding in evening (usually ride am) - so not been in overnight, had not run out of hay

All I could say is WOW the walk was huge and he was really stretching, saddle adjustment felt great too

Day 1 Wednesday 7th August  08:00 Fibresand Usual girth

So felt better than he had been feeling before physio/saddler more active walking out than I had been getting, less stretch down than last night but normal.

Day 2 Thursday 8th August  08:30 Fibresand Fairfax

Felt as he did yesterday in normal girth :-(

Day 3 Friday 9th August  08:00 Fibresand Fairfax

Felt as he did yesterday

Day 4  Saturday 10th August  09:00 Fibresand Fairfax

Felt as he did yesterday

Day 5 Sunday 11th August 14:00 Fibresand Fairfax

Felt as he did yesterday

Day 8 Wednesday 14th August 08:00 Fibresand Fairfax

Felt as he did Sunday

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Sunday Afternoon Q & A At Dovecot Stables Charles De Kunffy And Gerd Heuschmann

GH Bitless bridle does not communicate with TMJ and jaw, contact in bitless is to nose and poll, so riding in a bitless is different contact to bitted.

GH Lunging for young horse is about head control and getting used to handler; otherwise GH goes to ridden work asap.

GH Would ride 3 yo three times a week, 4 yo four.

GH 99.9% of time now lunges without side reins, strident dislike of Pessoa

GH does NOT like treeless saddle.

GH most horses shoulders are not when viewed from top symmetrical, right shoulder usually 2" - 3" further forward.

CdeK  always yield inside rein in shoulder in

CdeK How to correct BTV in medium trot?

Overflexion (BTV) needs to be resolved before  the nedium trot, start at the beginning every day every ride.

Overflexion  is a symptom the solution is behind

  1. Slow
  2. Abruptly give rein
  3. Drive

Saturday And Sunday Afternoon Lessons At Dovecot Stables Charles De Kunffy And Gerd Heuschmann


 13:00 lesson

 To correct btv

1. Slow down
2. Abruptly yield reins
3. Drive

 C de K uses both legs to aid for canter.

 13:30 lesson

 Had both riders leaning back to improve their seats and that was pretty much their lesson.

 14:00 lesson Had both riders leaning back to improve their seats and that was pretty much the lesson for one rider, the other he had doing SI

 14:30 lesson

 Had one rider lean back

 15:00 lesson

 Had one rider lean back and that was their lesson, other horse was more advanced and very nicely trained / ridden but he had both doing same exercises with other rider struggling.


 13:30 lesson

 Stopped rider following nod of head in walk with her lower arm and had her move her torso to follow.
14:00 lesson 

Lovely PRE had her doing various exercises very insistent she only yield for four steps


lesson with GH Stretch every 15 minutes

 15:00 lesson

 The advanced rider from 15:00 yesterday had her doing school canter on her seat

 From what I saw over the two days CdeK is much better with the trained rider who needs refinement he is to my mind unpleasantly sarcastic to those he has to say "close fingers" to more than once or twice from his talk he thinks it is lack of rider discipline or can't be assed.

 He seems to have one correction for the seat and that is lean back, he is insistent on vertical upper arm by sides at all times and use the torso to yield left or right and to follow the movement in walk.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Charles de Kunffy and Gerd Heuschmann Sunday morning

Charles de Kunffy - training as therapy for horses

Always alternate

1/ Long <-------> short frame
2/ Long <-------> short strides
3/ Bending / straightness

You can always do four changes of something on a 20m circle

Hegel Dialectic

Wiki link here

C de K described it as

OBSERVE ============================= ANTHESIS                    

Observe is the existing reality
Synthesis the reality we wish to achieve
Anthesis the flip (bad) side

Riding is surfing with your pelvis

  1. Leg energises
  2. Seat modifies
  3. Rein verifies

Focus on task in hand but do not compromise future

Make an ally of your horse

Duty ahead of mood

Duty versus inclination

Do not punish for perceived wrongdoing

Gerd Heuschmann - True lameness or bridle lameness?

We as riders create a problem but then 'fight' the symptoms rather than addressing the problem

Preserve the natural gaits

A young horse should have a long neck and hanging nose

Stiffen the back and you stiffen the hindquarters then the only joint free to flex is the pastern and fetlock joints so the suspensory end up taking too much load and you then get suspensory issues.

The swinging back is where riding starts

Kissing spines GH has seen > 1 unbacked horse with impinging dorsal processes so not solely caused by riding. Possibly we are breeding horses with narrower spaces, however impinging dorsal processes rarely the primary cause of lameness.

95% of 'back problems' are rider related, how can we as vets ignore the influence of 80 kg of rider on the horse's back?

Natural crookedness is intercostals and deep abdominals less inclined to stretch on one side, 2007 gene discovered in humans for handedness, similar in horses? Thus a horse is unwilling to stretch his stiff side

Charles de Kunffy and Gerd Heuschmann Saturday morning

So this weekend I went to Dovecot Stables to see Gerd H and C de K together.

Started off with Charles talking and then Gerd talking, have to admit to not warming to Charles got somewhat bored of his constant refrain regarding the lack of microphone, yes I know his voice is weak but the mike got fried and best efforts to sort it had come to naught. Really didn't like his referring to leg movers as 'cockroaches' simply not necessary in my opinion.

Charles de Kunffy - The rider forms the horse

Not entirely sure Charles did the advertised topic well it wasn't what I was expecting.

We ride for the well being of the horse

Do not mix emotions with your actions

The more physical skill you have as a rider the more harm you can do if your attitude is wrong

The seat is to sit integrated in the horse's movement

Gerd Heuschmann - The basics of biomechanics

The soft / hollow side is the most difficult side for training

Swing the horse forward

Longissimus dorsi is strongest at loins ( c/f Crisp)

Forward canter can help to release a blocked horse due to the action of longissimus dorsi

Swing THROUGH the back

The back should swing in a wave not just alternate up/down

Think of hindquarters as a water pump and the back as the connected water hose going to the bit. If you as a rider block the back (the hose) the water will back up and over time will shut down the water pump.

Think of the hindquarters as a vertical spring and the back as a horizontal one, to compress the 'spring' of the haunches the 'spring' of the back must lengthen.

The rider's spine should have a soft swing (will not be visible) that should harmonise with the swing of the horse's back.

Form follows function for both horse and rider.

Because the longissimus dorsi is connected to the cervical vertebrae as the croup (pelvis) lowers the neck will raise (relative rising of the forehand)


9th -> 18th thoracic vertebrae have the maximum ability to bend BUT still not by much

The truck (ribs) of the horse can also rotate down SLIGHTLY

So (my words) bend is an illusion.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The effect of trotting speed on the evaluation of subtle lameness in horses.

1. Vet J. 2013 Apr 20. pii: S1090-0233(13)00108-1. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.03.006. 
[Epub ahead of print]

The effect of trotting speed on the evaluation of subtle lameness in horses.

Starke SD, Raistrick KJ, May SA, Pfau T.

Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, The Royal Veterinary College, North
Mymms, Hatfield AL9 7TA, UK; Structure and Motion Laboratory, The Royal
Veterinary College, North Mymms, Hatfield AL9 7TA, UK. Electronic address:

Equine lameness is a significant and challenging part of a veterinarian's
workload, with subtle lameness inherently difficult to assess. This study
investigated the influence of trotting speed on perceived and measured changes in
movement asymmetry. Ten sound to mildly lame horses were trotted at a 'slow',
'preferred' and 'fast' speed on a hard surface, both on a straight line and in a 
circle on left and right reins. Video recordings of the horses were visually
assessed by six experienced equine clinicians. Vertical movement of head, withers
and pelvis was derived from inertial sensor data and several features calculated.
On the straight line, more horses were subjectively declared sound at higher
speeds, whilst different objective asymmetry measures showed only slight and
inconsistent changes. On the circle, speed had no significant effect on the
subjective assessment, with an increase in objectively measured asymmetry at
higher speeds possibly balanced by a decrease in sensitivity of the observers for
this asymmetry. Horses visually examined for subtle lameness on the straight
should therefore be evaluated at a slow speed. Trotting speed should be
consistent on repeated occasions, especially during objective gait analysis on
the circle, to avoid the interaction of treatment effects and speed effects.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID: 23611486  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Headshaking Supplement Efficacy Tested

Interesting re the significant placebo effect for the owners

Monday, 3 June 2013

An open letter to Sue Nevill Parker of Arrow Equestrian

Dearest Sue

I am writing this letter so if at some point in the future I go mad and need to be shot I'll at least have told you how I feel about you and you'll know the huge influence you have had on my equine life for the better.

Firstly I love you, that doesn't mean at times I wouldn't happily biff you with a shavings fork, but you have always been there for me even when I've been a brat and that I will forever cherish.

I love your honesty I'll be honest and admit I don't always like it and at times I've wanted the duvet in the peanut gallery to swallow me up, but I do appreciate it even when you're being honest with me. I'd much rather a relationship where we can both say what we want to say,

With you I can be me, you get to see the murky gloomy corners that I hide from most people, I also hope you get to see the great joy that being around horses creates within me. I rarely feel there is something I cannot say to you because you will think me a complete fruit cake and I can count on the fingers of one hand the people I can fully open up to.

Watching your truck come down the yard drive yesterday and the excitement I felt rammed home to me how  much you mean to me and how I've never told you.

I like the clarity of your teaching and how you strive to find a way for me to understand and not just keep saying the same things a bit louder. I like that I can ask questions without having to dance on a pin head.

My life is better for your being a part of it.

Thank you


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Good nutrition = a balanced diet by Clare MacLeod

Something topical this week, based on an article that caught my eye as I read the 2 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine. It is concerning how many equine professionals including vets miss the absolute foundation of good nutrition – a balanced diet. Although I have covered this topic before, I felt that another blog would emphasize the importance of a balanced diet.
Despite an overall well-written, balanced article entitled ‘Is barefoot any better?’, vet Richard Stephenson states that ‘Diet can influence hoof quality and there are many supplements available, most of which are based on biotin…’
But Stephenson fails to mention diet balance, i.e. is the horse receiving all the essential nutrients he needs every day? You cannot expect any of the horse’s body systems, including hooves, haircoat, heart and lungs and immunity to function at their best without a balanced diet.
If your horse has a problem with a body system, don’t just reach for a bespoke supplement! First, check the diet balance. There is absolutely no point in adding hoof-supporting nutrients if the basic diet doesn’t supply enough zinc and copper (both common deficiencies in horse diets).
Adding biotin to the diet of a horse with poor hooves in a regular routine (stabled and turned out to grass) who is fed less than the full recommended amount of compound feed such as mix or nuts is wasting your money. Instead, add a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement then reassess the hooves after a couple of months. It is quite likely that a biotin supplement will not be required.
There are some cases where supra-optimal supplementation is required, e.g. biotin to promote hoof health, but probably a lot less than we realise. Assessing hooves takes patience because they may take 6-9 months to grow down to the ground, where changes in horn quality will be most evident. However, sometimes you can see the difference growing down just a cm or two from the coronary band when the horse finally receives all the essential minerals he requires and has been short of for some time!
The only reason that nutrients necessary for a balanced diet are called ‘essential’ is that horses cannot be optimally healthy without them. We do not add multi-vitamin and mineral supplements to give the horse a ‘health boost’ or a ‘top up’ but to simply balance a forage based diet that is short of nutrients. Only horses fed the full recommended amount of a good quality compound feed will not require multi-vitamin and mineral supplementation.
For many horses, a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement should be at the top of the feed and supplement shopping list!

Beet Pulp: The Ultimate Fibre for Horses | Equinews

Beet Pulp: The Ultimate Fibre for Horses | Equinews

Monday, 29 April 2013


Of all the equestrian disciplines, dressage is the most elegant marriage of horse and rider. Well, it is if the rider has a good seat and appears at one with his horse.
How do the top riders sit so gracefully and easily in the saddle?
Up until recently, the answer was innate talent or long hours of practice, but if this were so, then many of us would have achieved a deep and fluent seat by now. Long hours of practice with tight muscles will only achieve a tight seat, which in turn tightens the horses’ back and prevents him working through.
Whilst researching for another article I came across an essay by Tom Nagel describing an observation he had made whilst teaching his wife. Whilst she sat well on her horse, he felt there was something not quite right. He asked her to push her lower spine into the back of her breeches, the result was that her pelvis came up towards her chest and she immediately felt softer in the saddle. Tom researched his patients and found that those who could flatten their spine against the table without tightening their abdominals were in fact, engaging the psoas muscle. No, do not stop reading, this will not get technical I promise!
Like all of you, I have trained with many people over the years, searching for that elusive magical trick that would make me sit like a professional. Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi, I have done them all! Yes, they do help, but I still didn’t feel as one with my horse.
Shoulders back, heels down, hands still, hands down, hands higher, head up, diaphragm up, use your tummy muscles, push your hips forward, the list is endless and the answer unavailable.
 How do riders sit in such good balance? Why do their thigh muscles look so loose and roll with the horse? Why do they get those little creases just at the top of their breeches?
These are the questions I asked whilst studying some our best riders.
Now the reason they could not tell me, is not because they kept it to themselves, but because of their natural ability, they really didn’t know what they were
actually doing. I hope to be able to disclose this secret by the end of this article.
To all the therapists reading this I am intentionally going to keep this very simple. Many articles on biomechanics are too technical, and many readers turn over the page.
The psoas muscle, (pronounced soas),is a little spoken about muscle, which is attached to the ilium (part of your pelvis) via the iliacus muscle, and attaches to the lower thoracic spine and the lumbers (lower back). This muscle is one of a group, which flex the hip joint. However, on its’ own, the psoas stabilises the lower back. Are you still with me?
 This muscle keeps your lower back supple and still, whilst allowing your hips and pelvis to follow the horses movement.
Through injury, poor posture, stress or sitting for long periods muscles can become tight. This has a knock on effect on neighbouring structures, namely the pelvis and the spine, which can lead to back pain, muscular stiffness, sciatica and an unbalanced seat.
How many crooked riders are there? Haven’t we all experienced the dropped shoulder and collapsed hip? The psoas can twist the spine right or left, it can pull the pelvis forward, shorten, and pull the spine to your stronger side. When the psoas pulls in a downward direction, it can cause compression of the joints of the vertebrae and pressure on the discs. When the pelvis is pulled forward, the diaphragm becomes squashed and breathing correctly is difficult. If you cannot breathe, you cannot perform.
When this muscle is tight it will not allow your hips to open and be soft, instead it makes the seat ‘close’ and pinch up which means you cannot sit deep.
In contrast, when the psoas is in the neutral position your seat can open, widen and lower. The pelvis can tilt upwards and open the diaphragm. This has a knock on effect on the hips and thighs as the rotation of the hip then allows the thighs to be soft and roll. When we see elegant, smooth and graceful riders, we are looking at the psoas working at its optimum. The abdominals muscles need to stay soft for this to work, as there is no tension in a good seat. If you keep your position in the saddle by balance and self-carriage, allowing your body to follow the motion of the horse, you will have an independent seat.
So how do we take the tension out of this muscle?
Those with longstanding problems should seek treatment from a therapist that works on manipulation of bone and muscle. Nevertheless, there are exercises that we can do on a daily basis that allows the psoas to soften and come into the neutral position. 
To find the tighter side, all you have to do is raise your hands in a straight line above your head and place them together palm to palm. Now, feel which hand has the lower fingers? This is the side of the tighter psoas muscle.
The psoas muscle can be located by drawing an invisible diagonal line from your belly button to your hipbone, midway between these two points is a trigger point for the psoas. Some therapists advocate the tennis ball exercise, but as with all exercises, you should consult your therapist before undertaking new ones. Lie on your front and place a tennis ball at this site, then raise up the upper body for more pressure. Yes, it will be uncomfortable until there is release, but this does work.
Try the starter exercise below; 30 seconds each side, repeat and build up to 5 stretches per side. These should be done before riding. (If you have any injuries or back problems please seek professional advice before undertaking any exercises).
The back is rounded and the chest drops down on the inside of the bent knee. The stretch will be felt through the buttock of the bent leg.
Once you have discovered how to release this muscle, you will find that your seat is softer and that because your lower back is stabilised you can sit without tension. Your horse will suddenly feel more free and forward, taking you rather than you trying to put him in front of the leg all the time. Be warned, once your horse finds this freedom it is a whole new ball game and this is when the half halts from the seat come into action. These half halts should not be done through tightening the seat or back as this will impede the horse once again. Try breathing in to half halt whilst sitting taller, and exhaling deeply to release and go forwards.
I believe that this muscle is a major contributor to the secret of a good seat, however it still requires practice and there will be good days and bad days. Remember to visualise and focus on the psoas muscle and breathe deeply, this in its self will help you to let go and follow your horses’ movement. Although discovering the release of this muscle has been an enlightenment for me, it must not be forgotten that riding is holistic and the body as a whole must be taken into account. There are many muscles involved in our discipline, and any tightness or injury should be addressed to get the best out of you riding.
 Will this knowledge make you an international rider, probably not, but it will make you a better rider with an understanding of the bigger picture. This, used with your other exercises and trainer will help towards the path of enlightenment.
For more information on exercises go to and psoas muscle.
Anatomy & Human Movement Palastanga, Field & Soames
Internet resources:
Zen and the horse.
Psoas muscle, the cause of low back pain.
Gloria is a list 2A judge and has trained her horse to advanced. She is available for private tuition and test riding clinics. All levels welcome.
Telephone: 07976880349

Acute phase proteins in equine grass sickness

Equine grass sickness (EGS) presents a diagnostic challenge. The best way to confirm the diagnosis is by finding characteristic signs in biopsies of the small intestine.

However this entails  general anaesthesia and abdominal surgery, making it  expensive.  Other tests have been used to try to throw light on the diagnosis, such as the response to phenylephrine eye drops.
Blood samples are easy to collect and blood tests may help narrow down the diagnosis in some cases of suspected grass sickness.

Horses with equine grass sickness  may show signs of systemic inflammation. One way of identifying this is to look for acute phase proteins (APPs) in the blood.  As their name suggests these are proteins that increase in concentration in the blood in the early stages of an inflammatory response.

For example, previous research has shown that α-2 macroglobulin levels are higher in acute EGS  compared with normal horses or those with colic or with chronic grass sickness. Higher concentrations of ceruloplasmin were found in cases of acute EGS or colic, compared with chronic EGS  cases and normal horses.* However, these APPs are not usually tested routinely in equine practice.

On the other hand, fibrinogen and SAA are widely used in equine practice as inflammatory markers, and recent research has looked at whether measuring them could aid the diagnosis of  grass sickness.

Researchers at Liphook Equine Hospital and the Royal (Dick) Vet College tested serum samples from 40 horses with EGS and compared them with 20 healthy horses, including those grazing the same pasture, and eight horses with colic due to causes other than EGS.

They found a marked increase in serum amyloid A (SAA) and fibrinogen in horses with EGS, and in horses with inflammatory colic, such as peritonitis, enteritis or colitis, compared with healthy horses, co-grazers and horses with colic due to non-inflammatory causes, such as intestinal obstruction.

There was no significant difference in SAA levels between horses with EGS and those with an inflammatory colic.

Interestingly they also found concentrations of another APP, Activin A, were significantly increased in both EGS cases and co-grazing horses. They suggest that this might indicate the presence of sub-clinical disease in the co-grazers.

In a report of the work which was published in the Veterinary Record, Victoria Copas and co-workers suggest that a  marked increase in  fibrinogen and SAA concentrations may help differentiate cases of EGS from other causes of abdominal pain (such as simple colon obstructions or intestinal strangulations) when considered in conjunction with signalment, historical data, clinical findings and results  of other ancillary diagnostic tests.

However, they emphasise that doing so would not help differentiate between EGS and other inflammatory abdominal conditions – such as peritonitis or enteritis.

*Acute phase proteins in grass sickness (equine dysautonomia).
Milne EM, Doxey DL, Kent JE, Pemberton A.
Res Vet Sci. 1991 May;50(3):273-8.

Monday, 22 April 2013

ACV as a potential blood glucose stabiliser by Clare MacLeod
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been given to animals and taken by humans for many years, primarily for its reputed effects on the blood, to help ease arthritic joints and as an anti-obesity therapy. It is widely fed by horse owners, both in the water and mixed into the feed, and is usually fed to horses for joint health and to reduce gut stones (enteroliths). It might enhance the absorption of minerals in the gut, so help the horse get more out of his diet.
Researchers have been aware for two decades that vinegar reduces the blood glucose and insulin responses to a (non-structural) carbohydrate-containing meal in both healthy humans and those with diabetes. The mechanisms for this effect – via studies in humans and rates – are proposed to be:
§  Reduced stomach (gastric) emptying rate
§  Reduced activity of carbohydrate-digesting enzymes (saccharidases)
§  Enhanced glycogen repletion in liver and muscle
Vinegar has also been shown to increase short-term satiety, of the feeling of fullness/that the appetite has been fulfilled, so could help to reduce feed intake. Some participants in research trials had moderate weight loss after taking vinegar daily with their food.
Some researchers have proposed that vinegar may have physiological effects similar to metformin, a drug that is used to treat insulin resistant and obese horses and ponies, which is believed to reduce blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
Although horses rarely suffer from actual diabetes, many are affected with disturbed body glucose handling and insulin resistance and would benefit from supplementation or treatment that could improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistant horses and ponies are at risk of the debilitating condition laminitis, which can be difficult to control.
Although researchers are yet to investigate the effect of supplementary dietary vinegar on horses’ blood sugar and insulin levels, it is likely to have a similar effect, so adding a daily serving of apple cider vinegar to your overweight or laminitis-prone horse and ponies or those with equine metabolic syndrome could be beneficial, especially when they have access to grass that may contain high levels of sugar and fructans.
Of course, management, exercise, low sugar, fructan and starch diets and appropriate weight loss regimes are also important for health in overweight and laminitis-prone horses and ponies, and those affected with equine metabolic syndrome.
Clare MacLeod MSc RNutr is one of the UK’s few registered independent equine nutritionists who also has expertise in health and fitness. She advises private and commercial clients in all sectors of the horse world and is a hands-on horse owner herself. Clare is passionate about correct nutrition as a foundation for good health, without which peak fitness is not possible. She states “Good nutrition isn’t everything, but there’s nothing without it”

Sunday, 14 April 2013

After over 30 years you still never really know someone

Learnt today that husband goes weekly shopping to Sainsbury to buy for the  food bank local to his office.

Feel honoured to be married to such a kind and generous man, feel  cold  that in 2013 we need food banks

Am on verge of tears over love for husband and grief at need for food banks

The Dressage Curmudgeon: They are looking forward to spending more time wit...

The Dressage Curmudgeon: They are looking forward to spending more time wit...: And so, that was that.  We were no longer dressage show virgins. Training level was crossed off of the list of things I thought I wanted to ...

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Visit to Carl Hester

So went to Carl's place thanks to BD Central region  organising the trip.

Sat in the car park at 09:35 at Carl's looking out over the outdoor that I have seen on DVD was amazing. It made me realise how as adults we (well me anyway) rarely feel pure excitement and it felt like being a child on Christmas Eve  As adults we tend to have excitement and apprehension/fear/whatever 

Felt like being at school again with Kim M   reminding us of the rules, all it needed was for K to say we were representing the school and to be on our best behaviour and it would have been school all over again. Well other than there was one smelly boy 

So we trooped into the school sat down and Carl was on Uti and Charlotte on Blueberry  they finished a groom took Uti and Carl went into host with the most   mode.

Katie came in on a four year old (by Nero) that was sat on briefly at three then came in again at four and has been in work three weeks. Carl worked this horse very lightly.

Then Charlotte on her own 5yo the one that was at the Convention you could see how he has matured since then 

Then it was ?

Charlotte rode a Breitling W chestnut that Carl described as a naughty wilful toad 'just like Charlotte'   

Then we had Don Archie (Dimaggio) who had been so so difficult then the lovely Nip Tuck and finally ? Golly

I really like Golly and yes he has brought home to me that what you see in 'competition' may be very very different to what you'd see at home. Totally different horse to even day two of the Convention. Relaxed and just lovely.

So other than kissing Blueberry, seeing the yard loo (very nice btw) what did I take away?

1/ Carl is very down to earth and come across as a thoroughly nice human being.

2/ They never throttle forwards, steeper half pass or whatever but no pulling (unless emergency obvs)

3/ They work a lot in canter

4/ Use LY rather than half pass when training.

5/ If I heard correctly he pretty much only uses two head positions either up on the bit or stretched,

Was even brave enough to ask a question  I wanted to know how CH's training had changed (assuming it had) since he left Dr B's to date.

Carl thought self carriage was the biggest change, learning what it meant and how to achieve it.

A grand day out  

Friday, 8 February 2013

Yesterday I kissed Valegro


He is as cuddly and lovely as my two bay boys, was an amazing day

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Let Bartlett be Bartlett

so said the West Wing staffers; it occurred to me yesterday driving home from Arrow how much of me I hide from public view.

The greatest amount of hiding seems to be in my equestrian life, so very few people I can be my true self with, probably limited to SFO, Pip and my husband. Others I edit / delete and distort giving a very watered down version of my opinion or no opinion at all.

Of course editing and deleting of your opinion is a very necessary device in polite society but it struck me how I really do  in my equestrian life display only 40% of my true self at work it is more like 80% only 20% gets edited/deleted.


January at Arrow

Usual format, arrive Friday around 14:00 Blackberry and Pooh, supper with alcohol and SFO and putting world to rights; then 10:00 Blackberry and Pooh on Saturday, home via ponies collapse in a mentally exhausted heap on sofa.

So Friday Blackberry have lost droppable forearms well clearly not lost my forearms as drove to SFO but have lost the droppable aspect, right hand is somewhat grabby so worked on that.

then onto Pooh Bear really need to ensure my wrists are straight not broken need to somehow transfer the way I ride Blackberry to Pooh, do less?

Saturday Blackberry worked on position left  and right by adjusting the pelvis rather than shifting bulk body weight. So worked on how this might feel. For me it is achieved by lengthening inside leg (so right leg for right canter) which feels to me like straightening knee. SFO very pleased with this as rather a breakthrough in how I use my seat.

Leg sensors on and how to activate without coming off seat so some good work

Pooh really worked on point soften had a bit of a light bulb moment over giving hand forward if I keep a straight wrist I do it.

  • Need to point on the rise
  • Need to move more than I think to actually move
  • Need to have ass out behind me when I sit (sit on potty!)
Interestingly enough when I get point soften going the energy changes and he bounces along and it is pretty much effortless.

Position left and right is just working :-D

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Care-Line Corner: Seaweed: A word of caution

Care-Line Corner: Seaweed: A word of caution: Seaweed supplements have long been fed to horses and perhaps you feed or have fed a seaweed supplement to one of your own horses? Seaweed i...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Hindgut Microflora of Laminitic, Nonlaminitic Horses Compared

Hindgut Microflora of Laminitic, Nonlaminitic Horses Compared

First, I'd like to complement the author and the interviewed researchers on sticking to the facts of the findings rather than reaching unwarranted conclusions. Nice job.

You can read the full study itself here:

By way of background, human studies have found that the bacterial populations of the gut are as individual as fingerprints so the finding of great diversity was to be expected.

The study was performed because of the association between toxins from proliferating lactobacilli and streptobacilli in acute laminitis caused by hind gut carb overload. When this occurs, the horse is also acutely ill with fever, septicemia, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Chronic laminitis pain is overwhelmingly either endocrine in origin, or related to poor hoof care and mechanical factors as well as vascular and neurological damage in the feet.

The groups were small so it is very difficult to assign any significance to changes documented between them. For example, the two different strains found in the laminitic group could be due to both horses being in the same environment where those organisms were found. Better diversity isn't really surprising either because most people know to feed laminitic horses a high fiber diet, which requires a more diverse population to efficiently ferment.


Hi Dr. Kellon,

I'd like to jump in with a couple of additional comments.

Complexity is added to this study by the horse populations that they utilized. In the supplemental data, I found that there are interesting differences.

First, what really jumps out is that the average age of the control horses is 7.7 years. The average age of the laminitic population is over 15 years. Although they say that none of the horses were PPID, the researchers did not do an ACTH test on these horses to see if they were. In many horses, one of the first signs to early PPID is laminitis. 

The control horses were all quarterhorses. The laminitic horses contained a mix of breeds, including QH, Arabian, Warmblood, Thoroughbred, and a pony. This breed diversity could also contribute to the hindgut diversity.

It's also noted that on Farm A, there were 9 control horses and 1 laminitic horse. On Farm B, there was 1 control horse and 7 laminitic horses. Different feeds were fed on each farm. A different pelleted concentrate was on each farm also. Farm A also fed supplemental alfalfa to the control horses. 

So while this study was interesting, major factors that could affect hindgut bacterial populations were present.

It would be interesting to see what these results would be with age-matched, breed-matched controls, with all of the horses housed on the same farm. It would also be interesting to see if there was an age difference testing the bacterial populations of young horses vs the older horses.

Joan and Dazzle