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Six Things To Do To Help Your Horse Through the Winter

By | Equine Health | No Comments

Winter is coming, and in some higher elevations it may feel like it has already arrived.  Here in Heber, Utah, we are at 5500 ft and this morning the icicles were hanging off of the pasture water wheels like frozen knives. I really feel for our horses. Even though it’s said horses can cope with temperatures down to -40°, they must be cold.

Horses are incredible creatures, and as winter approaches, they can naturally adapt to the changing environment to increase their defenses against the harsh weather. They will add some extra body fat for warmth and grow a thick coat with which they can fluff up to withstand the chill. Our horses can also manage their blood flow, pooling the majority in their core and vital organs and allowing their lower legs to tolerate the cold. This enables them to stand on ice or snow. If you have ever felt their almost frozen ears in mid winter it’s clear they can handle their cold extremities. Nevertheless, even though they adapt well and we may not be riding, we cannot ignore them during the winter. They need us to do some things that they can’t.

Here are the six things you can do to help your horse through the winter.

1.Tend to their hooves – Ensure they can dry their hooves off and have a dry place to stand. Wet hooves can lead to rot and infection, especially when left for long periods. Hooves grow slower in cold, but still need maintenance and checking on. Take his metal shoes off and trim him every 6-8 weeks. Pick out his hooves and make sure they are clean with no bacteria or rotting deep in the crevasses of the frog. When we give the hooves attention, we can catch any potential problem early and have him happy and ready to ride in the spring.

2.Ask your vet about blanketing – Your instinct may be to place a blanket on your horse when the temperatures dip, but not all horses need or benefit from one. In some cases, putting covers on prevents them from growing a thick winter coat and doesn’t enable them to regulate their own temperature.  Place your hand on their neck under their mane on the coldest mornings, and you will see that it is a radiator of warmth. That said, some horses absolutely need to be blanketed. Let them grow out their shaggy warm coats and talk to your vet before deciding whether or not to blanket.

3.Provide a run-in for protection from the wind and rain – A run-in will enable your horse to take refuge and stay dry, sheltered from the driving wind and rainstorms. Keep it open so they can seek shelter when needed and still have the freedom to saunter out and bask in the winter sunshine at will. Penning them in the stall has its own issues as the air is often still and cold, and there is less heat from sunlight available. It’s possible during dry, cold conditions that stables (box stalls) can often be colder than standing outside.

4.Feed them a little extra every day – Our horses burn a lot of calories just trying to stay warm and may need a little more feed to provide energy for that. Burning a lot of calories without additional feed will result in a miserable winter and a thinner horse who is less happy and healthy.

5. Keep your horses hydrated – Place a heater in their water tub to prevent it from freezing. Horses don’t like to drink water that is too cold, and this will warm the water just enough to help them drink. Dehydration is a significant issue in winter with our horses not moving much, giving them no incentive to drink. A good salt lick will help give them the trigger to drink. The rock licks are better than the blocks. You can buy good ones these days that hang on a rope that keep them out of the mud and rain.  A good electrolyte mix, such as Redmond’s Rein Water, that you can mix in their water is a great option to encourage them to drink and supply them the minerals and electrolytes they need.

6. Keep Up the Exercise – Get his blood flowing, raise his core temperature, reduce his boredom, and keep him healthy by exercising him. Riding during these months is a great opportunity to give him some attention, check his attitude and demeanor, and retain good contact, communication, and a strong relationship with him. It is also a great time to check and ensure he is drinking enough and is not dehydrated, and to brush him down and clean him off so he is not covered in mud, as that would prevent his coat from regulating his temperature and helping him fluff up to stay warm.

Do these six things to help your horse through the winter and you may be surprised how much easier the cold season is on both of you.

Can My Horse Overeat Salt?

By | Equine Health | No Comments

Once in a while, you’ll come across a horse that has a large appetite for salt. They just won’t leave it alone.  Whether it’s salt blocks, salt rocks, or loose salt, some horses just keep eating it–sometimes even biting at it. The question then arises: can a horse overeat salt?  

This is a question we have heard from horse owners for decades. We have been in the salt business for a lot of years, and we have yet to see a case of a horse over-consuming salt, although in rare cases, salt toxicosis can happen. Symptoms include colic, diarrhea, frequent urination, and general weakness. A horse displaying these signs should be seen by a vet immediately. Salt is water-soluble, so generally speaking, as long as a horse has constant access to fresh, clean water, the horse will naturally balance salt intake by drinking water and their body will flush it out. Hence on the Redmond packaging, we always advise you to keep water available at all times.  

With that said, there could be some downsides to letting your horse constantly binge on salt.  

First, the horse’s stall might tend to be messy because increased salt consumption leads to increased water consumption, which results in an increase in urination and a messier stall.

Second, you could be spending more on mineral salt than you need to spend.  Just because your horse has a huge appetite for salt doesn’t mean they need all of that savory goodness. Most of that over-consumed salt and your investment will pass through the horse and end up in the bedding or on the ground.

Last of all, horses that spend too much of their day licking salt could end up with a sore mouth – not something we need when we are wanting to insert a bridle bit. Not something we want for the well-being of our horses.  

So, what to do with that salt-aholic horse?  

Overeating salt can be a sign of boredom. Make sure your horse is getting enough exercise and time to roam. That turnout time can help them find other ways to satisfy their impulse to chew. A toy or another enrichment to their stall may be helpful as well.  

You might consider taking away the free choice salt option and changing to a measured feeding of Redmond Rock Crushed.  Two scoops a day will do it for most horses with an average level of activity.  By daily measuring in the salt, either with the feed or in a pan by itself, you control the amount of mineral salt your pony consumes.  This way, your horse gets the salt she needs, and you keep a cleaner stall, save a little money, and have a happier horse…and rider.  

Ride Like a Girl: Finding Your Inner Alpha

By | Ride Like a Girl, Tribe | No Comments

I love horses, don’t you? I mean I REALLY love horses. I love them so much, I have ten of them! Feeding them is the first thing I do in the morning. Checking on them is the last thing I do at night, “just to make sure . . .”

This is a surprise to everyone in my life because I was 53 when I got talked into going for a trail ride and found a passion I didn’t know I had. However, because I found a passion didn’t mean I found knowledge or understanding. I was afraid to go into their “cages,” as I called them. I didn’t know what to feed them or how to clean up after them. I jumped every time they moved too fast. (Well, sometimes I still do that.) I needed to learn how horses “worked”.

Have you ever watched an alpha walk through the herd to food? They walk in a straight line, moving all the other horses out of their way. If the horses in their path don’t move, first they look at them, then they push with their nose, then they pin their ears and if that isn’t enough, the horse in their path gets bit or kicked. Why am I talking about this? I’m a therapist, and most of the young girls/women that come to see me are like the horses that get pushed out of the way. They are sweet, kind, gentle women or young women, that haven’t found their inner “alpha”. Natural horsemanship helped me find my inner alpha–one I didn’t know I didn’t have until I tried to do ground work with a 1,400 pound paint quarter horse. He is my herd’s alpha. Learning to be his alpha and at the same time preserving the relationship and be fair, not abusive or wimpy, not timid or angry, either, was (and continues to be) an amazing journey.

As I continued to spend time just sitting on the fence, observing the horses, I saw how the alpha mare lifted her leg at the mini, but didn’t follow through. Not so much with all the big horses that got in her path. And I thought, “Horses have changed my life so much, how can I help them do that for others?” I found a form of Equine Therapy that fit for me. I became a natural horsemanship instructor. And I found a way to help girls and women who were “too nice” in their life to tap into their inner alpha appropriately. In my experience, people are born timid or aggressive. Appropriate assertiveness is something that has to be learned. Bringing our life up or bringing it down to match the situation is learned through a remarkable process of developing self-discipline and inner confidence. Horses are wonderful partners in helping us learn this skill.

Tristan’s mom came to me saying that her daughter’s first word was “horse”. Tristan’s passion only grew stronger over time, until her parents couldn’t bear to hear one more prayer asking for a horse. That’s when they came looking for me. They couldn’t afford a horse, but they could afford lessons. Tristan was so sweet. She wanted her horse to be her friend. She knew how to feed carrots, but she didn’t know how to keep a horse from getting pushy and mugging her for treats. That turned into her first lesson. As Tristan and I continued to work together, our relationship became strong enough that I could talk to her about her “timidity/inner wimp.” She was a good sport. She didn’t get offended. She learned. Last week I watched her get respect on the ground with her horse and ride a friend’s horse through a little “bucking” episode with a look of fixed determination on her face. I was so proud of her, I cried. She couldn’t stop smiling.

Recently she said, “Jo, I’m feeling timid bridling this horse.” I was proud of her, again. She knew she was timid, she asked for help, and she hung in there with me until she could do the task with confidence. Another time, I watched her get off a horse during the middle of a group class. One of the girls laughed at her for getting off. She blew it off. She had come to respect her own inner voice that said that horse was fixin’ to get out of control, and she cared more about what she thought than what the other girl did. I was proud again. Yesterday, 12-year-old Tristan taught her two little sisters and her mom how to keep a horse out of their space, appropriately matching the horse’s energy to stay the alpha. I’m still smiling. Session after session, I watch the horses help the young girls that come in my barn’s doors find their inner alpha. The girls keep their gentle hearts and their respect for the horse and the partnership while they find their respect for themselves and their girl power as well.

I LOVE horses, don’t you?

-Jolene Green, LCSW, PARELLI Instructor, EAGALA certified

Riding Made Me: Alyssa Fleming on 3 Ways Horses Improved Her Character

By | Tribe | No Comments

Riding has always been a big part of my life. I realize that I would not be the person that I am today without all of the things that riding has taught me, and ultimately, all of the things that riding made me. While riding’s made me many things, the ones that resonate the most are more grateful, more resilient, and more driven.

 

Riding made me more grateful.

At age 16, after years and years of constant and tireless begging, I convinced my parents to help me buy my first horse. I owned him for a little over 3 years until a freak accident in the pasture took him away forever. He and I had been through a lot together, and he was my absolute best friend. So when he was taken so suddenly, my world was shattered and my head was filled with doubt. Had I rewarded him after our last ride? Did I give him that extra treat before I turned him out? Was I too hard on the both of us after a bad round in the jumping ring?

I couldn’t change any of my “lasts” with him, but I could learn from those feelings and apply them to the rest of my life. This taught me to work to see the best in any situation and always find something to be happy about. My mare and I knock a barrel at a big race? I give her a pat anyway because she still tried hard for me, and we’ll do better next time. I aim to always be thankful for the blessings in my life, especially the everyday little things that other people may miss.

Riding made me more resilient.

When I first started my mare on the barrel pattern, all I heard was how we would “never make it past the 3D” or how “barrels will just be too hard for your horse to excel at.” But I knew better. My horse loved her job and so did I, so I kept pushing on. Now, in only our second competitive season, we’re placing at rodeos and running in the 1D with some of the best of them! All because I didn’t let the naysayers determine what my horse and I could or could not do. The only person that limits me is me. I learned not to be afraid to ask for help, and not to be afraid to go above and beyond other people’s expectations for me. You’d be surprised what a little bit of stubbornness, hard work, and time will do for you and your horse.

 

Riding made me more driven.

Once I discovered my love for riding, nothing could stop me from doing it. Riding makes me feel complete, and I am always eager to keep building and improving my skills. I will never know everything there is to know about horseback riding, and I love that. I strive to always take away something new from every ride, and I try to attend as many lessons and clinics as I possibly can. There is no such thing as a rider that is too well-rounded. Everyone has something that they can teach me – the best thing I can do is listen.

When I feel like I need a new perspective, I take a lesson from someone in another discipline. If I’m contemplating skipping that long conditioning session I had planned for today, I remember that I might be taking a break today, but my competition won’t be. There is always something new to learn, and there is always a higher level to reach, but it’s up to me and me alone to push myself to keep improving.  

I could go on forever about all of the things that riding has made me over the years and how much it has changed me, but when it comes down to it, I can sum everything up pretty simply: Riding made me more…and for that, I am so incredibly thankful.

-Alyssa Fleming

Riding Made Me: Sheralee Fiore on Confidence Creating Selflessness

By | Tribe | No Comments

When I reflect on what riding’s done for me, I can see that it made me a more confident person in all aspects of my life. Riding helps me believe more in myself and helps me to trust myself. As you ride at higher levels, you need to show that you have that confidence. Before I run I tell myself that I believe in my horse as well as myself. I tell myself I can get the job done.

That has helped me come to a place where I value helping other riders and be supportive of them––I’ll help any rider for many reasons. If they are stressing out before their run, I like to give them positive advice so they can relax more and be more confident that they will do well. If they need help with equipment or have forgotten a piece of their tack, I am always willing to lend my tack out. If they need advice on training equipment, feeding, and so on, I would not hesitate to offer my advice. It’s a good feeling of karma, of “do good for others and good will come back to you.”

Over the years, riding has also helped me have a more positive outlook on life. When things are not going the way I want for the day or week or whatever, going for a ride always brings happiness and calmness back into my life. It reminds me not to worry about the little things that go wrong, and I realize how blessed and lucky I am to have horses in my life.

-Sheralee Fiore

Will Horses Get Too Much Iron From Redmond Rock?

By | Equine Health | One Comment

Iron overload in horses is a potentially serious issue and there are countless articles written about excessive iron in equine diets, so it’s understandable that many owners want to know if their horses can get too much iron from Redmond Rock products. Because Redmond Rock has a red hue, people assume it has a high iron level. Stated values on the label sometimes add to this perception. Perhaps you’ve seen that the labeling on Redmond Rock and Redmond Rock Crushed states there are 300 ppm of iron in our products and worried that that’s more than your horse should be getting. It’s not, but we know why you might think so, and we hope this post will clear up the confusion.

How to Interpret Mineral Requirements and Label Values

Because you can find a variety of values for iron requirements for horses online, we’re going to stick with what the National Research Council (NRC) states in their book Nutrient Requirements for Horses, (National Academies Press, 1989, 5th edition).  We decided to do this because this committee is made up of numerous researchers from universities all across the United States who review piles of peer-reviewed research data in order to establish the values they suggest. Notice that word: suggest. The NRC makes suggestions instead of mandates because of the variation in results in the studies from which they draw.  

According to NRC values, the iron requirement for horses is 50 mg/kg. Reading that, you might think that Redmond products offer too much iron—however, it’s important to understand how to correctly interpret this information.

The requirement of 50 mg/kg of feed (mg/kg is the same as ppm) means that a horse should have 50 mg of iron for every kg of feed. To get the true limits, you have to multiply 50 mg of iron by the kilograms of feed the animal eats in a day. The suggested RDA for iron as recommended by the NRC for horses is 50 mg/kg (ppm) of feed x 12 kg of feed/day, making it 600 mg/day.

Redmond Salt has iron levels of 300 ppm (mg/kg), so there are 300 mg of iron for every kg of salt consumed.  But unlike eating 12 kg of forage, which is 26 lbs, they are only consuming 2 ounces of Redmond Rock Crushed.

 

There is a quick formula for calculating how much of a nutrient your horse is getting from Redmond Rock:

simply multiply the ppm on the label by 0.0284 (the factor to get mg/oz).  

For iron: 300ppm x 0.0284 = 8.52 mg/oz.  

At a 2 oz consumption rate, a horse is getting 17 mg of iron/day from Redmond Rock in a diet where 600 mg/day is suggested.

 

Now that we know what the equine requirements for iron are and how much iron they’re getting from our product, let’s examine how much iron the average horse is actually eating in a day.

Actual Intake of Iron From Feeds

There are many studies showing the iron content of feeds and it’s easy to take samples of your feeds and have them analyzed for iron content.  Here’s an example of a peer-reviewed study that took many samples of different forages to get iron content.  In grasses, the range was from 31 to 1044 mg/kg.  For legumes, it was 29 to 617 mg/kg.  Extrapolating this out using even just a low average of 200 mg/kg, a horse would be consuming 2400 mg of iron every day (200 mg/kg X 12 kg of feed).

Putting It All Together

As you now know, the daily requirement for iron is suggested at 600 mg/day for a mature horse. Redmond Rock and Redmond Rock Crushed offer 17 mg of iron/day. A low average for a forage diet is 2400 mg of iron/day.

It is pretty clear to see that horses normally consume far more iron than they need. When you view it in context, Redmond products’ iron content is almost insignificant in the whole picture–less than 3% of the suggested allowance and not even 1% of actual iron intake.

Horses have been eating huge amounts of iron for eons of time.  How have they been able to do that? How did horses work hard and live long 100 years ago on that diet?

Fortunately, nature has provided protections for this exact problem. Once again from the NRC book, “Iron in feedstuffs and minerals are in the ferric form (Fe+3) and are poorly absorbed in the intestinal tract. Enterocytes regulate iron absorption efficiency, and any more than 2% entering the system is excreted.” (Beard and Dawson, 1997.)

There are many articles like this one that say that iron has a relationship with zinc, copper, and manganese. It’s likely that iron levels aren’t causing a problem as much as an imbalance of this group of minerals.  This is why it’s wise to have your feeds analyzed. Redmond products are unrefined and contain over 60 naturally-occurring trace minerals which can help address this issue of imbalance.

If your horse is having problems, don’t rule out other possible causes like toxins in the feed or other types of feeds in their diet.  Chances are, Redmond Rock isn’t the culprit.

Will Redmond Rein Water Help My Dehydrated Horse Drink?

By | Equine Health | No Comments

They say you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. If you own a horse, you probably know how true that sentiment is. Horses become accustomed to the water in their home paddock and stall, and water from a different source when you’re traveling or have moved can taste strange to them. Often times, you’ll find your equine partner will simply refuse to drink the foreign water. This will of course cause you concern about dehydration.

Dehydration is the lack of water and a full range of minerals like sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium. It is a serious condition that can lead to lethargy, colic, and kidney failure if the horse is not quickly rehydrated. Though many people think of dehydration as a problem only in the hot months, it is a major issue that can also occur all year long—even in the depths of winter.

To encourage drinking, owners will try a variety of tactics, including adding sweeteners, molasses flavoring, or even a sugary sports drink. Some owners even resort to taking gallons of the home water with them when they travel, to prevent dehydration issues. We probably don’t need to tell you that none of those are good options, but just in case: none of those are good options. Your horse may drink it, but that still doesn’t make it a good option. Why? To begin with, as veterinarian Dr. Mark DePaolo has written, “Horses were not designed to eat sugars or carbohydrates. High sugar diets are detrimental to your horse’s health and well-being.” Secondly, offering water alone to a dehydrated horse does not truly rehydrate it. Water by itself dilutes the body fluids surrounding the tissues and lowers the balance of electrolytes that the body needs to function well, while shutting off the thirst mechanism. Electrolytes need to be incorporated to help replace the essential salts in the body that are lost through sweat, so the best rehydration therapies include the use of electrolyte preparations, either in feed or water, to encourage drinking.

This is where Rein Water comes in. Rein Water is a proprietary mix of over 60 Redmond minerals, salt, and Daily Gold. It is like an equine Gatorade…without the sugar. When mixed with water, the minerals and salt will dissolve and mix well giving your horses the electrolyte benefits they need to stave off dehydration. The good news is, because it helps mask the taste of foreign water and gives horses the trigger to drink more, it will help your dehydrated horse drink and stay hydrated and healthy, especially when you’re on the road or in new surroundings.

 

Good traveling, good drinking. And remember, a healthy horse is a hydrated horse.

How Long Does The Rock Last?

By | Equine Health, Products | No Comments

When you bring your lucky horse their first Redmond Rock, you’ll find they will likely devour it pretty quickly. Some people tell us their horse finishes it in a week or two. If that’s true for your horse, don’t be alarmed. This is normal at first. Usually, their consumption will start to slow after the first or second rock, when they’ve loaded up on the trace minerals their body might have been craving. Give your horse plenty of fresh water and let them enjoy it at their pace.

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Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)

By | Stories | No Comments

by Jolene Green

I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. About ten years ago I was introduced to horses. They changed my life. I quickly realized they could be a powerful force for hope, growth and joy for my client’s lives as well. I searched out and began practicing EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Assoc.), one form of EAP, but there are many, many other forms and  styles. When I tell people I do EAP they always ask, “What is EAP?”  Officially it means Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. As a professional, I practice a formal therapeutic style, but if you own or have the privilege of being a partner with a horse, most likely you have discovered every time you are with a horse, it is therapeutic.

You probably find yourself quoting “there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse” often, especially to your non-horsey friends, but have you ever wondered why?

Fortunately many researchers have asked that question with fascinating results. Dr. Anna Baldwin and Dr. Gehrke (there are others) in independent studies by measuring HRV (heart rate variability)  showed horses “seem to live in a coherent (happy, calm, peaceful) state” unless “scary situations” arise. When your heart is in “coherence” as established by The Institute of HeartMath, you are calm, joyous, in a state of gratitude, peace and well-being. Turns out horses live in that state unless frightened. Even then, as prey animals, when what they perceive as a threat passes, they return to their coherent state within minutes. Horses have VLF or ELF (Very LowFrequency or Extremely Low Frequency) heart electromagnetic waves. People not so much. These very low frequency heart waves are directly related to health and well being. People who don’t have enough of these are more prone to inflammation and PTSD, anxiety and depression.

The human heart puts out an energy field up to 8 to 10 feet, as measured by a magnetometer. A horse’s electromagnetic field is five times larger than the human one and is also stronger than ours. So within 30 seconds of touching a horse his heart will take over your heart and bring it to his level, helping us feel better. “Research shows that people experience many physiological benefits while interacting with horses, including lowered blood pressure and heart rate; increased levels of beta-endorphins (neurotransmitters that serve as pain suppressors); decreased stress levels; reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension, and anxiety; improved social functioning; and increased feelings of empowerment, trust, patience and self-efficacy.”  (Dr. Maria Katsamanis & Dominique Barbier THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS)  This is a lot of scientific talk that tells us what we already know: being with our horse/horses makes us feel better.

A returning vet with severe PTSD came to my place, The Barn, after his wife called me saying if things didn’t change she was taking their 3 small children and leaving. She said he was angry, hostile, impatient and scaring their children. He came to 10 one-hour sessions. He never said a word. He just went to the horses (I have 10), pet them, kneeled down by them, stayed with them.  In one of his sessions, he leaned over my horse, Tina, and cried for an hour. Tina didn’t move. She occasionally reached back and touched him on the shoulder. On his last session, he walked over and said “They reminded me to be human. They helped me find my heart again.” He didn’t return. When I called to check in with his wife, she said she had her sweet husband back.

Another man called to make an appointment for his 15 year old daughter. He chose to stay for the session, sittiing in a chair just inside the fence. Tina (my Norwegian Fjord) walked over to the man, put her nose on him and stood that way the entire hour of his daughter’s session. At the end of the hour, I asked him why the horse was with him. He said “She’s comforting me. The reason we’re here is because my wife is an alcoholic. When she drinks, she abuses my daugher. The State told me if I don’t get my wife out of the house, they’ll put my daughter in foster care. I filed for divorce today and I’m broken hearted.”

Our horses are a privilege and a gift. They change our lives and our hearts. And, if you are like me, we never get enough. They are good therapy.

The deep connection I share with my horse

By | Stories | No Comments

There are hardly words for my connection with Six. It is so deep I don’t have a lot of words for it. It is a feeling inside that only him and I share. I know every single thing he likes and does not like, how to keep him happy without him doing anything besides looking at me. Communication in any relationship is important, but it doesn’t have to be talking. Six and I have our own communication together and we understand each other. His eyes tell his whole story. There is so much expression of love, angry, sadness, discomfort,  and happiness if you are listening. Every horse is so different like people are, some people are happy go lucky, or more on the lazy side. Six is very sensitive and his feelings are hurt very easily. He also does everything with love and meaning. He always gives 100% effort and try in everything he does. As a partner this teaches me to work harder, try hard, dedicate more not only to six but to our team together. Both teammates have to give 100% of their effort to do their best. Six is also very humble and kind, he doesn’t like to be the center of attention, just the center of my attention. He reminds me, even in a packed arena all that matters is him and I.

Every night when I tuck him in I sit in the same corner in his stall. He will always walk over and lean his head on my shoulder for a nightly ear scratch. After his ear scratch he nuzzles my hair for a few minutes before I say goodnight with a kiss on the muzzle. It’s not always about that one win of the barrel race or rodeo its about the deep soul connection with your best friend.

Kara Posch barrel racing