Category Archives: Health

Equine dehydration: what you need to know.

Dehydration in horses can be very serious, so being able to spot and prevent it, particularly during the warm summer months, is an absolute must. Making sure your horse has access to a clean, plentiful supply of water at all times is essential, but there’s certainly more you can do to make sure your horse avoids dehydration.

Spotting the signs

At best, your horse’s performance will be affected by dehydration, but in more severe cases it can lead to him exhibiting the symptoms of colic and you’ll need to call your vet.

Dehydrated horses can seem lethargic and produce thick, sticky saliva. Their urine is often darker and their mucus membranes, such as their lips, can become particularly red and congested.

Pinching the skin on your horse’s neck and counting the number of seconds it takes to spring back used to be a widespread method to check for dehydration, but recent research has since suggested that this is unreliable. Instead, checking for tacky gums is a more accurate, easy-to-test indicator of dehydration.

Did you know?

The most accurate way to test for dehydration is to have your vet examine a blood sample for the level of proteins in it – a high level indicates dehydration.

In the summertime

Horses are designed to cool down through sweating. By doing so, they also lose water and body salts, which contributes to dehydration. But, did you know your horse loses water through respiration, too? Therefore, exercising your horse in hot weather, causing him to sweat and increasing his respiration rate, contributes heavily to loss of water and can put him at risk of dehydration.

If you’re taking your horse out competing all day while the weather’s warm, there are plenty of steps you can take to keep him hydrated. Make sure he’s got access to water at all times just as you would at home, and try adding a flavouring such as apple juice if he’s reluctant to drink and if he won’t at all, try a slushy feed such as sugarbeet. Bring plenty with you, as washing him off after his class will help cool him down and reduce his need to sweat and he’s more likely to want to drink water that tastes more familiar to him, too.

Winter blues

It’s not just the summer months and exercise that pose a risk to him. The moisture in grass goes a long way to contributing to your horse’s daily water needs, so when this is scarce over the winter and is replaced with much drier hay, he’ll need to drink much more to stay hydrated. Horses can be put off by ice in their buckets, so you could try insulating his water bucket by putting it inside a tyre and packing round the edges with straw, or bobbing a tennis ball in it to prevent it freezing over.

What you feed can also help guard against dehydration. Again, feeding sugarbeet can help increase his water intake, but consider your horse’s forage ration, too. Haylege has a much higher moisture content than hay and will increase how much water he consumes, but you could also try soaking your hay.

Last but not least, it’s imperative you replace the body salts your horse loses through sweat and respiration – not just the water. You can do this by feeding an electrolyte supplement at the recommended rate.

For all your equestrian needs, visit www.bridlewayequestrian.com

Bridleway Grooming Tote

Grooming routines your horse will love

Grooming your horse isn’t just about making him look squeaky-clean. Regular grooming will keep him comfortable while he’s wearing his tack, and promotes overall skin health and loosens his muscles. It also offers the chance to thoroughly check him over and help him shed any dead hairs. Plus, daily grooming allows for valuable bonding time and will build trust between you and your horse. Here’s how to make the time you spend grooming him extra special.

A shedload of hair

At this time of year, loose hair can make your horse hot, itchy and uncomfortable. Turning him out without a rug on, if the weather permits, will let him have a roll to dislodge some hair – which will give you the chance to give him a thorough groom when you bring him back in.

You can help him speed up the shedding process as you groom him. Use a rubber curry comb in vigorous circles to further dislodge any hair and help bring mud to the surface. Once you’ve done this all over, use a brush with stiff, long bristles, such as the Bridleway Long Bristled Dandy Brush, to flick away the hair and mud you’ve worked out of his coat. Finish by rubbing a hot, damp cloth over him to lift away any remaining hair and dirt to leave him with a clean coat. Add baby oil to the cloth to give him that extra sparkle.

Hot and bothered

With warmer weather on the way, your horse will really appreciate a cool down after a ride, particularly if he’s hot and sweaty. It’ll help loosen off his muscles after hard work, too.

Rather than just hosing him down, try using a wash brush to really work the sweat out of his coat to avoid leaving marks. Concentrate on where his saddle has been to help alleviate any tightness in the muscles post-exercise. When you’ve finished, don’t forget to use a sweat scraper to remove any excess water from his coat – the Bridleway Spotless range includes a good range of grooming equipment and matching grooming bag to keep your kit together.

Best of friends

What better way to unwind is there than spending time pampering your horse? Not only will this strengthen the bond between you both, but there are also added health benefits that come with it, such as boosted circulation and a sense of calm.

A great way to bond with your horse is to mimic the way another horse would groom him. You might often see your horse and his field mate stood side-by-side, grooming each other’s manes, necks and backs. Focus on grooming him in these areas, with short brush strokes. With any luck, he’ll turn his head and groom you in return!

Bridleway products and great advice can be found at your local Bridleway stockist, find your nearest at bridlewayequestrian.com

Breathe easy – respiratory health explained

Your horse’s respiratory system is a complex part of his body. If he’s in good health, you probably won’t give it a great deal of notice, but respiratory problems can affect his wellbeing and performance, so it’s important to know what to look out for and how to keep him in the best of health.

Signs and symptoms

Your horse is only able to breathe through his nose, so his nostrils are a good place to start. You’ll notice that, when at rest, he takes 12–20 breaths per minute, with barely any movement in his nostrils. This will increase in abnormal conditions – he’ll breathe more rapidly in hot weather or with exercise. Flared nostrils at rest is a sign there’s something wrong.

Nasal discharge is also an indicator of respiratory health. You’ll rarely see any in a healthy horse, although small amounts of a clear, watery substance during or after exercise is normal. However, increased, thick or smelly mucus could indicate an irritation or an infection.

Although many healthy horses cough occasionally, frequent coughing is another common sign that something’s not quite right. If you notice your horse coughing regularly, speak to your vet to get to the root of the problem.

Be in the know 

Problems occur when your horse’s respiratory system is unable to function properly or efficiently. This can be caused by a number of factors, such as…

  • viruses
  • allergens
  • air quality

These factors place stress on his respiratory system, meaning it has to work harder, but there are lots of simple actions you can take to minimise these and help support his health.

Supporting his respiratory health

Knowledge of what can cause stress to your horse’s respiratory system is an important tool in maintaining and supporting it. Many horses are allergic to dust and fungal spores found in hay and bedding, and horses with prolonged exposure can develop conditions such as recurrent airway obstruction (RAO). As well as problems associated with ingesting dust and spores, these allergens can also have an impact on air quality, particularly if you have an enclosed, American barn-style yard and an adjoining indoor school.

Management methods to help combat these issues and support your horse’s respiration include…

  • steaming or soaking hay before feeding to minimize dust and spores
  • making sure he’s got clean, high-quality, dust-free bedding
  • improving ventilation on your yard, which could be as simple as keeping the doors open as much as possible
  • ensuring he’s out of the way when you’re mucking out or sweeping up
  • using a specifically-formulated feed supplement to help support a healthy respiratory system
  • maximising his turnout

If your horse seems susceptible to respiratory problems, consider shaking up his management a bit with a couple of these suggestions. It’s worth talking to your vet to help you formulate a management plan.

For all your horsey needs, visit bridlewayequestrian.com

How to achieve the perfect competition look for a horse show

Whether you’re strutting your stuff in the dressage ring, flying round a course of jumps or trying to impress the showing judge, you want your horse to look a million dollars. Here’s how to get him ring-ready…

Remove the mud

Use a dandy with stiff bristles to remove dried mud from your horse’s coat. Follow this with a long bristle dandy brush to remove any loose dirt and hair – firm, flicking strokes that follow the direction of the hair will help to bring dust to the surface.

 Bath time

If you want to get your horse squeaky clean, he’ll need a bath. Dilute a small measure of horse shampoo in a bucket of warm water and use a bodywash brush to work it into his coat and remove dirt and grease. Rinse him off using a hose, then remove excess water using a sweat scraper. Depending on how much shampoo you’ve used, you may need to rinse him several times before his coat is completely free from suds. Dunk his tail in a bucket of clean water so it’s wet, then rub in a blob of neat shampoo and rinse thoroughly. Leave him to dry in the sunshine, putting a cooler rug on him if it’s a bit chilly.

 Hooves

After you’ve picked out your horse’s hooves, use a hoof brush and some clean water to remove dirt from the outer hoof wall. This will leave them ready for a layer of hoof oil or lacquer to add shine just before you go in the ring. A clear oil works for any hoof colour, or you could choose a black one if he’s got darker hooves.

Adding shine

A body brush, which has slightly softer bristles, can be used to add shine. It’s used to lift grease from his skin, smoothing the natural oils from his coat along the shafts of the hair. When you come to doing his face and other delicate, bony areas, switch to a face brush. A final smooth-over with a microfiber cloth or grooming mitt will remove any leftover dust.

Mane and tail

Start by applying a liberal coating of detangler spray to the hair to loosen any tangles and add shine. Then, using a mane and tail comb or brush, start to gently work your way from the tips to the roots. If you find any larger knots, work them free with your fingers instead of the brush or comb, as this method is less likely to break the strands.

Bridleway’s range of Spotless brushes has everything you need to get your horse sparkling clean from head to hoof. Visit bridlewayequestrian.com to find out more.