7 Tips to Horse Hoof Health

You said it wouldn’t happen again, but here you are: Your horse is confined and your checkbook is out, as you wait for your farrier to come and fix your horse’s ailing hooves. Meanwhile, you’re missing out on another weekend of team roping. Could this scenario be avoided? Yes. Organize your approach to horse hoof care, farriers say, and your riding time is more likely to be uninterrupted by emergencies, equipment failures, and last-minute fix-ups. Following are farriers’ top seven secrets to keeping your horse sound.

Secret #1: Check your horse’s hoof history. 
Check back through your records and bills to see what problems your horse has had in the past. Did some keep coming back? Is your horse prone to infections or injuries such as bruising at certain times of the year? Ask your farrier and veterinarian what you can do this year to avoid those problems.

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Secret #2: Plan ahead. 
• Farriers have lives, too. Ask your farrier well ahead of time if he or she is on call during the year-round–or if you should have the name and number of an apprentice or colleague on hand just in case. Make sure that he or she knows your plans for the roping season. If you say, “I’ve been waiting for years to go to that roping and we’re leaving June 1st” your farrier will know how important the trip is to you. Your farrier might reply, “Too bad-I’ll be away the month of May, so I won’t be here to check him before you go.” If you know your farrier’s availability in advance, you’ll know when to prepare a backup plan, in the case of emergency. But if you find out at the last minute, this information can throw you into the panic zone.

• If you have a trip planned that’s much more ambitious than your normal schedule, ask your farrier for a checkup appointment the week before you plan to leave and another a few days after you return. Paying a small fee for a maintenance checkup is worth it, especially if your horse’s feet show a bruise or infection that might cause problems at the roping. Also, have your farrier check your horse when you return to make sure that no excessive damage or wear has put your horse at risk. A bonus: If your horse comes home sore or even lame, you’ll already be booked for a checkup. (Note: If your farrier suggests that you call your vet, heed the advice and reach for the phone.)

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Secret #3: Know thy shoes.
• Ask your farrier to give you the specifics of your horse’s shoe size and style, and the manufacturer (for example, “St. Croix Toe-and-Heeled, Size 1”). Note whether your horse’s shoes are clipped (specifically side clips or toe clips) or unclipped and whether his hind shoes are squared at the toe. If you’re away from home or if your regular farrier is unavailable, a stand-in farrier will then know right away how to shoe your horse. And if you report that your horse wears, for example, “clipped aluminum GE egg bars with Impact gel pads and Equithane wall filler,” a potential farrier might ask that you find a more experienced farrier who’s accustomed to working with complex shoeing packages. Get information about both front and hind shoes: It’s not unusual for horses to wear different types and sizes of shoes on hind and front feet.

• Tip: If you haul long distances to ropings, consider paying your farrier to fit up spare shoes to take along, just in case.

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“Organize your approach to hoof care and your roping time is less likely to be interrupted by emergencies, equipment failures, and
last-minute fix-ups.”
-Fran Jurga

Secret #4: Check wear patterns.
• Ask your farrier if you can keep the old shoes the next time your horse is due for new shoes. (Ask that they are marked left or right, or you’ll be confused!) Study the shoes carefully. Where’s the most wear? Looking at a worn shoe will show you if your horse “breaks over” (brings his weight over) at the center of his toe, or to the outside or inside. Some horses will show excessive heel wear.

• Turn the shoes over and look at the foot surface; you may find abrasion marks where the heels “expand” across the steel or aluminum surface. Some wear it is normal, but excessive grooving may be a red flag to discuss with your farrier.

• Look at the nail holes–are they enlarged? Shoes with heavy wear will have deformed nail holes, caused by nail movement in the shoe (and hoof wall). This is often the result of long miles on the hard ground, but also can be caused by your horse repeatedly stomping at flies or kicking stall walls.

• Keep worn shoes in a plastic bag, or photograph them. As the summer goes on, compare your horse’s current wear pattern with the shoes you’ve labeled “normal.” Is the wear the same? Changes in wear patterns are subtle early warning signs that your horse is changing his gait or loading pattern (how he distributes his weight over his hooves as he moves). He may be swinging a leg out to avoid a bruise or swelling, or landing toe-first to avoid heel pain. Point out any changes to your farrier, and ask for his or her advice.

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Secret #5: Check for worn-out shoes.
• An active roping season can make quick work of a horseshoe. You may be riding on pavement more often, or riding in rocky warm-up areas more than the soft terrain of an arena. Warn your farrier well in advance if your horse’s shoes look thin or if the clinches are weak. Be prepared to haul your horse to the farrier, if needed, but don’t ride on thin shoes held on by weak clinches.

• Consider investing in farrier tools, so that you can safely remove a loose shoe. I recommend a pair of pull-offs, creased nail pullers, and a rasp, available from a farrier supply store. (Two are Brighton Feed and Saddlery, www.brightonsaddlery.com, and Harry Patton Horseshoe Supply, www.harrypatton.com.) Your horse can become badly injured by stepping on a bent shoe or broken nails–but if you try to remove the shoe without the proper tools, you risk removing a chunk of hoof wall or bruising his hoof.

Secret #6: Protect your horse’s feet.

• You might think that going shoeless is the ideal state for your horse–and your budget. Most of the time, that’s right. But an active roping schedule can put too much stress on some horses’ bare hooves. Ask your farrier whether your horse might need shoes for the heavy roping season.

• Don’t abuse your horse to show off how tough his feet are. If his feet are tender, the walls have worn lower than the sole, or you notice him “dancing in place” and shifting weight from one front foot to the other, stand him in an ice bath or cold running stream while you call your vet.

• Invest in an EDSS First Alert Kit (www.hopeforsoundness.com). This kit contains Styrofoam pads you apply with duct tape to protect your horse’s sore feet until your vet arrives. Don’t ride a hurting horse.


Here’s the good news: Riding doesn’t necessarily stress your horse’s hooves, in fact, the opposite is probably true. Too little exercise limits circulation to your horse’s feet and curtails horn growth, particularly if he lives in a confined space, and/or is overweight. If his hooves are properly cared for before, during and after a ride and if your riding schedule is consistent and reasonable to ensure that your horse’s fitness matches his schedule you both should sail through roping season. Here are some bonus tips to keep him sound.

Pre- and post-ride checklist

Image placeholder titleWalk your horse without the saddle. Make sure he walks freely and willingly. Look him over from head to tail–and down to all four toes. Note any cuts or scrapes that might cause soreness or irritation.

Clean your horse’s feet with a hoof pick to remove any irritating rocks and packed dirt/manure.

As you clean your horse’s feet, run your hand around the nail clinches in the hoof wall. The wall should be smooth. If you feel a rough bit of metal, a clinch is “raised” or “popped,” and the shoe may be loose. A horse can also cut himself on a ragged clinch.

Check the shoe heels. If you find one that isn’t directly under your horse’s heel, he may have a “sprung heel.” That is, his heel is hitting the shoe’s edge as it expands and contracts. Your farrier will need to remove, re-level, and reshape the shoe, and then nail it back on. Riding on a sprung heel can cause corns or more severe hoof injury.

Run your hand around your horse’s coronets at the hairline, and feel for bumps, swelling and/or heat. (If you’ve clipped your horse’s pasterns, consider applying bell boots to protect his coronets.)

Run your hands down each of your horse’s legs, feeling for heat, swelling and/or tenderness,
especially on the inside.

Check old injury sites/hoof cracks, and make a mental note of their condition before you ride, for comparison when you return.

When not to ride:

Don’t ride if your normally obedient horse resists when you try to pick up a foot, seems tender to your touch, you see swelling or redness at his coronet, or you see red marks on his hoof sole. Don’t ride if you see any signs of a loose shoe. Don’t ride on an injured or cracked hoof.

When to turn back:

Stop at the first sign of lameness, altered gait, or repeated stumbling. Dismount, loosen the cinch/girth and get your horse home.

Expert tip:

Photograph your horse at different times through the year. You’ll notice how his body shape changes as his haircoat and fitness level change his feet will show changes, too. Take close-up photos of each foot and shoes. You may be surprised to notice how his hoof shape and hairline junction contours change. A jammed heel may come down, or a bump in the hairline over a wall flare may subside or worsen, a warning sign of unequal pressure on the wall, or abnormal footfall. Photos of such changes will be valuable if he ever suffers a serious hoof injury or contracts a serious hoof disease, such as laminitis. Your farrier needs to know what’s normal for your horse, so he or she can better judge abnormalities. For instance, it’ll be helpful to know that your horse’s right front foot was always a bit steeper than his left one, or that his heel bulbs had been prominent before the injury or disease.

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Secret #7: Become equipment savvy.
• Clean all your tack, boots, wraps, and trailering gear well and often. Horses change shape with fitness level and age, so don’t assume that tack will or should fit the same from year to year. Make any replacements or adjustments in advance of the heavy roping season. Dirty, ill-fitting, uncomfortable tack can cause your horse to change his gait and/or loading patterns, which, in turn, can create hoof problems.

• Avoid attending a competitive roping in new tack, support boots, and other gear. Take the time to gradually break in new equipment for an optimal fit. Be especially gradual with martingales and tie-downs, as your horse may need extra time to adjust to their feel. Start in the practice pen, and let your horse tell you what feels right and what doesn’t.

• During breaks, loosen the cinch/girth and other strapped tack, and check for irritation. Carry a spare, so you can switch at the first sign of a welt or rash. Even if your new cinch/girth technically fits your horse, it can irritate him if it’s left on too long on a hot summer day. To avoid discomfort, your horse may shuffle at the jog or widen out his front end. This can lead to early fatigue, stumbling, abnormal head carriage, or interference (his hind or diagonal legs may overreach, causing him to strike a front hoof with a hind one, which can cause an injury).

• If you sense your horse trotting unevenly or resisting the canter, dismount and check all your gear. You may be amazed to find that removing a martingale or tie-down will improve your horse’s energy, gait, and even soundness.

• Check your horse’s legs and inside boots and straps. Neoprene sports-medicine boots can create heat against your horse’s skin, and sand particles trapped under boots and wraps can be irritating.

• Fit your boots to your horse, don’t borrow someone else’s horse boots, and trim any excess from straps. Keep hook-and-loop fasteners clean so straps lay flat. Flapping straps from brushing boots or even an ill-fitting bell boot meant to protect your horse from interfering can backfire, causing your horse to widen his stance behind or shorten a stride, leading to early fatigue or stumbling.



Get a Green Barn

Did you know that over a million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution every year? And that 46 percent of lakes in America are too polluted for aquatic life to survive? It’s not only fish and wildlife that suffer the ill effects of pollution; worldwide, over 5,000 people die every day due to dirty drinking water.

Agriculture, which includes horse-keeping, is one of the most significant contributors to both pollution and habitat destruction. That’s right: How you keep your horses can affect not only the wildlife around you but also can be a significant contributor to environmental hazards. And these hazards have wide-reaching effects.

Can you make a difference? Absolutely. In 2010, recycling and composting alone prevented 85 million tons of material from being disposed of in landfills or dumped into the ocean—an increase from 18 million tons in 1980. I’ll give you seven steps you can take to minimize the environmental impact of your barn, from manure composting to establishing a recycling program. You’ll soon discover that what’s good for the environment is good for you, and good for your horses as well.

What’s the Problem?

When you think of a horse farm, do you have visions of pristine pastures with perfect fence lines, where fat, sassy horses roam and graze to their hearts’ content? Yet what about the manure pile and muddy areas around the water troughs? Or trashcans filled with old feedbags and baling twine?

There’s no doubt about it, housing horses can be hard to the environment in a wide variety of ways, and even on the most beautiful farms around. Manure, insect sprays, and weed killers on the pasture all can play a role in contaminating local streams and waterways, while trash bins filled with plastics, empty containers, and other waste contribute to the landfills. Even turning on the lights, bedding your stalls, or repairing fences puts pressure on the environment by using up important resources. Here’s how you can help.

Step 1: Manage Pastures

One of the most important parts of green horse keeping is this: Keep pastures healthy and mud to a minimum. Less mud means less standing water and no more runoff that’s likely to contaminate nearby streams. If your pastures are healthy, they’re also more likely to be weed-free, with a reduced need for toxic herbicides.

To keep your pastures as healthy as possible, avoid overgrazing by rotating horses off the pasture when grass is grazed down to approximately three inches. A single horse generally requires between one and two acres if he’s going to be maintained on grass, so don’t overcrowd. Remove manure regularly from smaller pastures and paddocks to avoid build-up and minimize groundwater contamination. Submit soil samples for analysis annually, and add lime or fertilizer according to the results of this analysis. (Your local feed store should be able to provide this soil analysis, and advise you about lime and fertilizer.) Finally, you can over-seed as needed in the fall. Healthy grass will choke out weeds, minimizing the need to spray.

Step 2: Set Up a Recycling Center

Barns generate an enormous amount of trash, ranging from the pop cans and water bottles that accumulate on hot summer days to feedbags and plastics used to bale shavings. You might be amazed at how much of this trash can actually be recycled—depending on where you live. Start by checking out earth911.com to learn what can be recycled in your area, and where. Then designate one or several recycling collection centers on your facility to collect these items.

The list of products that can be recycled is practically endless and includes paper, wood, metal, and Styrofoam packaging. If you have curbside recycling in your state, many of these products simply can be collected in a bin that’s picked up with your regular garbage service. Other items may need to be transported to specialized facilities. If you set up an organized area with separate bins for collecting different items, it’s easy to make an occasional delivery. And if you have a large facility, setting up several different collection areas in convenient locations will encourage recycling rather than disposal. The key is convenience. If you have an office at your farm, even non-working electronics and print cartridges can be dropped off at your local Goodwill for recycling.

Step 3: Compost Manure

A single horse can produce as much as 50 pounds of manure per day. That’s nine tons a year. Obviously, what to do with the manure on your farm is an important question when it comes to protecting the environment. Composting is an ideal solution.

Composting your manure can be as simple or complicated as you’d like to make it, and has a wide variety of benefits. Heat generated during the composting process not only kills parasite eggs and fly larvae but also can help break down toxic chemicals. A well-composted manure pile will shrink in size to as little as half its initial volume, and produce an end product that can benefit gardens or pastures. Some farm managers can even sell their compost to generate a little extra cash.

Successful composting depends on controlling three factors: moisture, heat, and airflow. Simply covering your manure pile can help you control heat and moisture while turning it regularly either with a tractor or by hand provides airflow. You also can set up your pile with pipes designed to blow air through the center of the pile, thus avoiding the need for turning. A cover will keep the manure from getting too wet while watering it with a hose will keep it from being too dry. Ideally, your pile will be as moist as a wrung-out sponge, and internal temperatures of 135 to 150 degrees F are easy to achieve just by covering it with a tarp. If you set up three separate piles, you can rotate between your current dump pile, a “cooking” pile, and a finished product.

Concerned about a number of shavings in your stall waste? The ideal carbon (sawdust, straw, or shavings) to nitrogen (manure) ratio for composting is between 25:1 and 30:1. With careful stall cleaning, combined with manure picked from pastures and paddocks, this ratio shouldn’t be hard to achieve. Although more bedding than poop means it may take a little longer for the compost to break down, the end product will be perfect for the garden.

If you find that you have too much manure and too little time to make composting work for your farm, an alternative is to arrange with a local nursery or garden center to haul away your manure into their own composting facility.

Step 4: Plan Carefully

If you’re lucky enough to be building a new facility, plan your site layout carefully. Place buildings on high ground, with pastures or paddocks sloping away from buildings. A good excavator is a must and can help you plan drainage routes.

In a perfect world, you’ll build sacrifice areas associated with your pastures or paddocks. These closed-in, graveled areas will provide turnout for your horses, and prevent your pastures from turning into mud pits during wet months. This not only prevents runoff that can contaminate local water sources but also makes your property less attractive to flies and other insects, thus minimizing your need for pesticides.

If completely separated sacrifice areas simply aren’t an option and you have large enough pastures to support the number of horses that live there, you can do a lot to minimize mud by laying down gravel in places horses like to congregate, such as around gates, loafing sheds, and water troughs. A base layer of three-quarter minus rock that’s six to 12 inches deep and well compacted, with a four- to six-inch layer of one-quarter minus rock on top is a good combination for controlling mud, without causing bruising to your horse’s feet. Road fabric placed under your gravel areas also can help, but beware: It’s common for horses to dig or roll and cause the road fabric to be exposed. If you do decide to use it, make sure it’s completely buried, with no exposed edges.

Finally, when you develop your site plan, be sure to allow a buffer between your pastures and any streams or wetlands on your property, to further protect water quality. In some areas, this is required by legal statute.

Step 5: Build Responsibly

Whether you’re just building your barn, are making an addition, or are simply fixing fences, the type of construction you choose is an important environmental decision—beginning with your choice of wood.

If you really want to “go green” and can handle a little extra cost, you can consider bamboo as a wood option. Bamboo is one of the earth’s fastest growing plants and is typically grown without the use of fertilizers or pesticides. Not only that, but bamboo also is strong and tough, making it a good choice for fences and barns. Another option to consider is a wood composite. This manmade, wood-like product is made from as much as 65-percent recycled materials, including both recycled wood and plastic.

Conventional wood still can be an environmentally responsible option, but consider looking for a source that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. This non-profit organization certifies wood products that are grown and harvested from managed forests with an eye on sustainability. (For more information about the FSC, check out fsc.org.)

Make sure your building plan includes gutters that direct rainfall to appropriate drainage routes. Also, consider such finishing touches as rubber pavers made from recycled tire rubber for barn aisles and walkways. With a little bit of effort, you can find a wide variety of environmentally friendly options to include in your barn design.

Step 6: Let There Be Light!

If you’re in the design or remodeling stages, consider how you can maximize natural light in your barn construction. Stalls with windows to the outside world and roof cupolas not only give your barn a nicer look, they also let in the light. (As a side benefit, these construction options generally allow for better ventilation.)

For your artificial lighting, replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Fluorescents use one-quarter the amount of electricity of incandescents and last approximately nine times longer. An even more efficient lighting option to consider is LED lights; these use only 10 to 20 percent of the energy of incandescent bulbs, and last 20 times longer. (For more information about barn-friendly lighting options, visit equilumination.com.)

Finally, install outside lights on motion detectors so they’ll come on when you approach the barn, but won’t be left on all night long. And if you’re looking for other ways to conserve energy, consider solar power. Small solar panels may be all you need to generate enough power to open that electric gate or keep a water heater running.

Step 7: Pest Control

Where there are horses, there are flies. Where there’s grain, there are rodents. The United States applies 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides annually; that’s 20 percent of global pesticide use. Make the right choices when it comes to controlling pests, minimizing the need for toxic chemicals.

Careful construction, pasture management, and manure composting can go a long way toward minimizing flies on your farm. But no matter how hard you try, the flies still will show up. Consider using predator wasps on your manure pile as an environmentally friendly method to control remaining flies. Flysheets and natural sprays such as those containing citronella can give you a final layer of control. Finally, if barn swallows come to visit, think twice before chasing them away. Yes, you’ll have to clean up after them, but a family of swallows nesting in your rafters can virtually eliminate flies in your barn.

When it comes to rodents, proper grain storage is crucial for keeping rats and mice away. Metal storage containers will prevent rodents from getting into the grain bins. Old freezers often can do the trick, but take care to remove the locking mechanism to prevent curious kids or pets from being locked inside. Sweep barn aisles regularly, and keep feed rooms clean. Finally, consider adding a barn cat to your roster of employees. A good mouser can be worth his weight in gold!

If you care about the environment, don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of going green. Remember: Any little bit can help. Start by taking just one or two simple steps to make your barn more environmentally friendly. It’s not that hard to change some light bulbs or get a cat! Before you know it, you’ll be composting manure and have a pasture management plan in place. Your farm will be cleaner, your horses will be happier, and the world will thank you for it!


Ulcers Demand Your Attention

Ulcers Demand Your Attention

You’ve read the ads, seen the endoscope studies results and heard the talk: Gastric ulcers are incredibly common in domesticated horses. The incidence is higher in heavily stressed horses, like racehorses and endurance horses, but ulcers are being found in quiet horses that seem to have a plain, ordinary, easy life, too.

A horse who has an unusual change in attitude or becomes touchy around their abdomen may have an ulcer. Plenty of turnout — time for a horse to be a horse — is important to your horse’s health. Stall confinement increases your horse’s risk for ulcers.
A horse who has an unusual change in attitude or becomes touchy around their abdomen may have an ulcer. Plenty of turnout — time for a horse to be a horse — is important to your horse’s health. Stall confinement increases your horse’s risk for ulcers.
If your horse doesn’t quite seem like himself at times, not colicky, but definitely somehow uncomfortable, he may be battling an ulcer. Or maybe he doesn’t eat with the enthusiasm he used to have, or just lacks the “spirit” he used to have. You’ve ruled out other possibilities and are left to face the fact that you may well be seeing the symptoms of a chronic gastro-intestinal (GI)-related problem, such as an ulcer.

Risk factors for developing ulcers include:

• Stall confinement.

• Sporadic feeding rather than constant access to grass.

• Exercise faster than a walk. (This causes enough rise in abdominal pressure to cause some acid movement into the unprotected areas of the stomach. The faster the horse moves, the more pressure and back wash of acid.)

• Feeding processed feeds rather than whole grains.

• Prolonged fasting (e.g. long trips, long period of time between last feed of the day and the morning feed).

• Any problem elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract.

• Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids.

The only way to definitively diagnose gastric ulcers is to examine the stomach directly with an endoscope at a veterinary clinic or do a sucrose-absorption test (see sidebar). However, most horses are “diagnosed” by symptoms only.

Signs most suggestive of gastric ulcer include:

• Grinding of the teeth.
• Belching noises.
• Slow eating, often walking away without finishing meals all at once.
• Picky appetite that includes the horse refusing foods or supplements that were consumed readily before.

These symptoms aren’t diagnostic of ulcers, but they do suggest discomfort associated with the upper GI tract/stomach. Less-specific signs frequently attributed to ulcers are:

• Sour, sulky attitude.
• Poor coat.
• Weight loss.
• Poor performance.
• Irritability.
• Sensitivity to touch around the horse’s lower belly/sternum area.

Since the signs and symptoms are nonspecific — and overlap quite a bit with other causes of low-grade intestinal-tract discomfort and with pain from any cause — ulcers may be blamed when another problem is actually the cause. It’s important to involve your veterinarian in the diagnosis and treatment.

While horses can develop some degree of gastric ulceration easily and under a wide variety of conditions, ulcers can and do heal spontaneously. On a scale of 1 to 3, with 1 being only obvious reddening of the stomach lining and 3 is a deep ulcer, a horse with a grade 3 ulcer is more likely to actually have symptoms as a result and definitely requires treatment, while a grade 1 stomach irritation could be symptom-free and resolve on its own.

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Exercise As A Risk Factor
Studies performed at the University of Florida have shown that horses moving at a rate faster than a walk experience increased abdominal pressure that essentially back flushes highly acidic stomach contents from the lower, acid-producing (glandular) portion of the stomach back to the nonglandular portion. The Florida researchers found that when a horse is standing or walking, the pH of the stomach just inside the junction with the esophagus is in the range of 5 to 6, but as soon as the pace is picked up the acid back flow can drop it to as low as 1.

The more time the horse spends moving around faster than a walk, the greater the exposure of these portions of the stomach to highly acidic conditions. It’s a small wonder that a preliminary study looking for gastric ulceration in endurance horses found lesions in 67%. Most lesions were located in the nonglandular portion, same location as in other performance horses, but 27% also had ulceration in the glandular portion, a condition that is usually only seen in horses following a critical illness of some type.

Given the prolonged, strenuous exercise it was surprising that more horses did not show ulcers, but common practices on rides may be why. Many endurance riders feed alfalfa, which has an excellent buffering effect in the stomach. Beet pulp is another favorite and remains in the stomach longer than other types of feed. Allowing the horse to stop for water at every opportunity will also at least temporarily dilute the acidity.

Our Trial
Our field-trial horses included both horses with a documented history of gastric ulcerations and horses with symptoms suggestive of ulcers. As we stated, symptoms alone aren’t enough to make an ulcer diagnosis. In addition, other digestive upsets, particularly from high grain feeding or poor digestive efficiency, may cause similar symptoms. However, since poor digestive efficiency or overfeeding will likely result in drop in pH in the large intestine and some irritation of the mucosa there, it’s possible that many of these products could be of benefit under those conditions as well. (The response to these products was judged solely on the basis of symptomatic control and doesn’t necessarily correlate with actual healing.)

We found the antacid products were the most consistently effective in providing symptomatic relief for the greatest number of horses. Best results are obtained when using liquids given by oral syringe for the first one to two weeks, minimum of two times/day, before each feed, preferably three to four times/day, as well as immediately before work. The appetites of the horses improve within one to four days and most rapidly with intensive treatment.

Studies on the use of antacids in horses usually call for much higher doses than we found effective for control of symptoms. However, those studies are focusing on the dose required to decrease acidity in a horse that has been fasted, while our horses were allowed constant access to hay and offered concentrate on their regular schedules. Since the presence of food in the stomach also has a buffering effect, this may explain the lower effective doses.

It’s important in choosing a product for long-term use that it doesn’t upset your horse’s nutritional balances/intake. For example, magnesium is a common ingredient in many of these formulations. While low dietary magnesium can be a cause of excitability/nervousness in horses, overdoing magnesium can cause the same symptom, as it inhibits the absorption of calcium. Too little calcium can also cause nervousness, bone weakening, achy and weak muscles and abnormal heart rhythms. The proper Ca:Mg ratio is 2.5:1.

As with any illness/disorder, always consult with your veterinarian first before instituting any treatment program.

Bottom Line
Our favorite liquid antacid was U-Gard Solution. Other liquids performed similarly at equiv alent or higher dosages, but U-Gard then beat them on price. Similar rapid results were obtained with Stomach Soother (use cautiously if horse is showing severe symptoms and largely off feed), G.U.T. paste and Rapid Response.

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These are much more expensive than the liquid antacids, and they avoid the possible calming effect seen with the high-dose calcium or calcium/magnesium products. The G.U.T. is less costly than Rapid Response, but Rapid Response doubles as an effective joint supplement.

If liquids/pastes aren’t a good choice, and for follow-up after a course of liquids or paste once the horse is eating well, powders are convenient. Again, the U-Gard 2X gets the nod for effectiveness and being most economical.

When prolonged symptom control is needed, effects of the antacids on the calcium/phosphorus/magnesium balance of the diet should be considered. To avoid the possible need to correct for mineral imbalances, consider using G.U.T powder or one of the herbal formulations.



Equine Vaccination Basics

Over the past 75 years, vaccines have saved the lives of thousands of horses and rendered a number of terrible equine diseases exceedingly rare. They remain among the most effective weapons for protecting horses against the ravages of disease.


Vaccinations work by introducing weakened or killed microorganisms into the body to train the immune system to destroy specific disease-causing agents. In the vast majority of cases, this process results in long-lasting immunity.

Occasionally, vaccination causes local swelling or soreness. Rarely, a horse may suffer an allergic response that is itself a threat to his health.

Most equine vaccines are administered via intramuscular injection, which delivers the preparation into muscle tissue, where it is selectively taken up by the body and processed.

Intranasal vaccines,which are delivered via a spray into the nostrils, are also available for horses. Because these vaccines induce a strong immune response in the respiratory tract, they are used for influenza and strangles,which attack the body there.

Intravenous vaccines,which are delivered straight into the bloodstream, are available for people, but currently none are manufactured for equine use.


Not every horse needs to be vaccinated for every disease. Your veterinarian is your best resource for evaluating your horse’s circumstances. As you discuss what’s appropriate for your horse, consider four variables that influence his risk of disease:

Age. Very young horses are at the greatest risk once the immunity they acquire from their dams begins to wane. Elderly horses, too, may have a compromised immune response.

Occupation. The more demanding a career, the greater the physical stress,whether a horse is an elite athlete or a broodmare. In addition, horses who routinely travel–to shows, events or for breeding–are likely to encounter more potential pathogens than those who rarely or never leave home.

Housing arrangements. A solitary horse who seldom journeys any distance from the farm is at far less risk of disease than the residents of a large boarding stable with lots of incoming and outgoing equine traffic.

Location in the country. Certain diseases that affect horses are prevalent in particular areas.

Whatever vaccination regimen you and your veterinarian choose, periodically reevaluate and adjust it based on new threats, changes in local/regional conditions and any modifications that have occurred in your horse’s lifestyle.


The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends vaccination, when appropriate, against the following diseases that affect horses. (They are listed below alphabetically and not in order of priority).

Botulism: food poisoning caused by the toxin secreted by Clostridium botulinumbacteria,which can contaminate feed and water. The condition is characterized by paralysis, beginning with the muscles of swallowing, and it is usually fatal.

Equine viral arteritis: a respiratory and venereal disease that can cause abortion.

Equine viral encephalomyelitis: brain and spinal-cord inflammation caused by several species of alphaviruses in the Togaviridae family that are usually transmitted bymosquitoes. The disease is characterized by fever, erratic behavior and/or stupor and is almost always fatal. Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) and Western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE) are present in North America; Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE) has not occurred in the United States for decades but outbreaks still occur in South America.

Influenza: an acute viral infection involving the respiratory tract. Signs of influenza include inflammation of the nasal mucosa, the pharynx, the conjunctiva, the lungs and sometimes the heart muscle.

Potomac horse fever (monocytic ehrlichiosis): a disease caused by a rickettsial organism, Ehrlichia risticii. Named after the Potomac River Valley where it was first recognized in 1979, the disease is characterized by fever, diarrhea and laminitis0.

Rabies: a fatal viral disease of the central nervous system. There is a long incubation period, and signs of rabies usually develop over many days.

Rhinopneumonitis: a highly contagious disease caused by herpesviruses (EHV-1, EHV-4). Rhinopneumonitis is characterized by fever, mild respiratory infection and, in mares, abortion. In rare cases, some strains of these herpesviruses also cause potentially fatal neurological complications.

Rotavirus A: a type of virus that causes profuse diarrhea in foals younger that 3 months of age. In addition to diarrhea, signs of rotavirus A infection include failure to nurse, depression and difficulty/inability to stand.

Strangles (distemper): a highly contagious infection of the lymph nodes, usually of the throat, caused by Streptococcus equi bacteria. The abscesses may become so large as to obstruct the airway (hence the term “strangles”) and may break internally, draining a thick, yellow pus through the nose, or externally, draining through a spontaneous or surgical opening in the skin.

Tetanus: a rigid paralytic disease caused by the toxin of Clostridium tetani, an anaerobic bacterium that lives in soil and feces but that also can infect wounds.

West Nile virus: a flavivirus transmitted by mosquitoes. West Nile virus can infect birds, horses, people and other mammals. In horses, as in people, infection usually causes little or no illness. However, for reasons not yet determined, West Nile infection sometimes triggers swelling of the brain (encephalitis) that produces limb weakness, muscle twitching (fasciculation), incoordination, behavioral changes, paralysis and recumbency. In severe cases,West Nile encephalitis can lead to coma and death.


The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has produced a suggested vaccination schedule for horses of varying ages and activity levels–foals/weanlings, yearlings, pleasure horses, performance horses and broodmares. Here are the guidelines for pleasure and performance horses; for the others, go to www.aaep.org. The AAEP recommends that you consult with your veterinarian regarding the specific needs of your horse.

Botulism Consult your veterinarian Consult your veterinarian
EEE (in high-risk areas)
Annual, spring
WEE, EEE (in low-risk areas) and VEE
Annual, spring
EEE (in high-risk areas)
Annual, spring
WEE, EEE (in low-risk areas) and VEE
Annual, spring
Equine viral arteritis Annual for colts intended to be
breeding stallions
Annual for colts intended to be
breeding stallions
Influenza Inactivated injectable
Annual with added boosters
prior to likely exposure
Intranasal modified-live virus
Every 6 months
Inactivated injectable
Every 3 to 4 months
Intranasal modified-live virus
Every 6 months
Potomac horse fever Semiannual Semiannual
Rabies Annual Annual
(EHV-1 and EHV-4)
Optional; semiannual if elected Booster every 3 to 4 months up
to annually
Rotavirus A Not applicable Not applicable
Strangles Injectable
Optional; semiannual if risk is high
Optional; semiannual if risk is high
Tetanus toxoid Annual Annual
West Nile virus Annual booster prior to expected risk.
Vaccinate semiannually or more frequently (every 4 months) depending on risk.
Annual booster prior to expected risk.
Vaccinate semiannually or more frequently (every 4 months) depending on risk.

By Equus | 9/27/2016


Winter Driving Tips From USRider

Winter is coming. For some of us winter is already here! USRider reminds everyone who travels with horses to be careful, and to invest time performing routine preventative trailer maintenance to enhance overall travel safety.

While it is imperative to maintain your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s service schedule, it is also important to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic. This is especially crucial for heavy-duty vehicles towing precious cargo. It is better to be proactive rather than reactive.

USRider recommends that you check tire pressure before each trip. This is especially essential with temperature changes. If you are traveling from a warm climate to a cold climate, air pressure in your tires will drop. On the other hand, when traveling from a cold climate to a warm climate, the air pressure will rise.

During winter months, traction tires are recommended. In order to qualify as a traction tire, tires must have at least an eighth of an inch tread and be labeled Mud and Snow, M+S, All-Season, or have a Mountain/Snowflake symbol. Since tire performance can vary, a trusted area dealer may be able to advise you on the best tires for your vehicle and your area of the country. Plus, look at the date on the inside of the tire to be sure it has not been on the dealer shelf too long.

Another travel issue that could raise its ugly head during cold weather is a weak battery. If you have a battery that is more than a couple years old, be sure to check it prior to cold weather setting in. Otherwise, you may find yourself on a cold morning inconvenienced with a dead battery.

When driving, a good rule of thumb to follow on the road is “Rain, ice & snow – take it slow.” Before setting out on a trip, take time to check weather reports and plan accordingly. Be sure to allow extra time for inclement weather. Mother Nature doesn’t care that you need to be somewhere at a certain time. Keep in mind that weather and driving conditions can change rapidly, so be aware and drive accordingly.

During inclement weather, always drive with your headlights on- even if it is not dark. USRider recommends when trailering horses, owners drive with their headlights on, regardless of weather because of the increased visibility afforded by headlights.

Also during inclement weather, be sure to increase distance between vehicles to allow more stopping room. USRider recommends that you double the normal distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Since it’s difficult to know what road conditions you may encounter during your trip, make it a practice to re-fuel when your vehicle fuel gauge drops below the halfway mark. In many states, you can dial 5-1-1 for travel conditions and road closures.


– See more at: http://www.usrider.org/article/usrider-winter-driving-tips-horse-owners-27872#sthash.BbCO5AIi.dpuf

Trailer Storage Prep for Winter

If your Horse trailer is to be stored for an extended period or over the winter, it is important that it be prepared properly.

  1. Remove the emergency breakaway battery and store inside, out of the weather. Charge the battery at least every 90 days.
  2. Jack up the trailer and place jack stands under the trailer frame so that the weight will be off the tires. Follow trailer manufacturer’s guidelines to lift and support the unit. Never jack up or place jack stands on the axle tube or on the equalizers.
  3. Lubricate mechanical moving parts, such as the hitch and suspension parts that are exposed to the weather.

Note: On oil-lubricated hubs, the upper part of the roller bearings are not immersed in oil and are subjected to potential corrosion. For maximum bearing life it is recommended that you revolve the wheels periodically (every 2 to 3 weeks) during periods of prolonged storage.

Neva Kittrell Scheve is the author of The Complete Guide to Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer and Hawkins Guide: Horse Trailering on the Road. She and James Hamilton, DVM, co-authored Hawkins Guide: Equine Emergencies on the Road.

– See more at: http://www.usrider.org/article/trailer-storage-preparation-27867#sthash.xQQ1JPbB.dpuf

Trailer Tires vs Tow Vehicle Tires

There are differences in the driving requirements between the tires on your trailer and those on the car or light truck you use to tow it. Therefore, there are distinct differences between the way trailer tires and tow vehicle tires are engineered.

Your tow vehicle is a leader, which means traction is a key focus in the design of its tires. Traction allows your tow vehicle to accelerate down the road, turn around the corner and brake to a stop. Another important consideration is tow vehicle tires are designed for ride comfort, which is achieved in part by allowing their sidewalls to flex.

Your trailer is a follower, which often makes tire sidewall flexing a negative. Sidewall flexing on trailers, especially those with a high center of gravity (enclosed/travel trailers) or that carry heavy loads, is a primary cause of trailer sway. Typical passenger radial tires with flexible sidewalls can accentuate trailer sway problems. The stiffer sidewalls and higher operating pressures common with Special Trailer (ST) designated tires help reduce trailer sway.

“Trailers will be more stable and pull better on tires designed specifically for trailer use. Since Special Trailer (ST) tires are constructed with heavier duty materials, they are tougher than typical passenger vehicle tires.”

Also consider that Special Trailer (ST), as well as Light Truck (LT) tires are fully rated for trailer applications. This means ST- and LT-sized tires can carry the full weight rating branded on the sidewalls when used on a trailer.

However when P-metric or Euro-metric tires are used on a trailer, the load capacity branded on the sidewalls must be reduced by 9%. This means P-metric or Euro-metric tires with a maximum branded load rating of 1,874 lbs. for use on a car is only rated to carry 1,705 lbs. when used on a trailer.

Comparing the load capacities of a pair of tires of the same dimensions fitted to a single axle trailer, ST225/75R15 Load Range C-sized tires inflated to their maximum of 50 psi provide 4,300 lbs. of load capacity, where P225/75R15 Standard Load-sized tires inflated to their maximum of 35 psi would be limited to 3,410 lbs. of load capacity, a total reduction of 890 pounds.

Trailers will be more stable and pull better on tires designed specifically for trailer use. Since Special Trailer (ST) tires are constructed with heavier duty materials, they are tougher than typical passenger vehicle tires. This is a plus because trailer suspension systems are generally stiffer and less sophisticated than automotive suspension systems.

Special Trailer (ST) Tire Speed Ratings
Industry standards dictate tires with the ST designation are speed rated to 65 MPH (104 km/h) under normal inflation and load conditions.

However Goodyear Marathon and Power King Towmax STR tires featuring the ST size designation may be used at speeds between 66 and 75 mph (106 and 121 km/h) by increasing their cold inflation pressure by 10 psi (69 kPa) above the recommended pressure for the rated maximum load.

Do not exceed the wheel’s maximum rated pressure. If the maximum pressure for the wheel prohibits the increase of air pressure, then maximum speed must be restricted to 65 mph (104 km/h).

The cold inflation pressure must not exceed 10 psi (69 kPa) beyond the inflation specified for the maximum load of the tire.

Increasing the inflation pressure by 10 psi (69 kPa) does not provide any additional load carrying capacity.


Towing Laws/Guides

Here are a few website we’d like to share that have some laws and guides to towing. Very important to read up before making way with a trailer in tow. All states have different laws and regulation for towing, these websites will give you the information you need to know.

Towing World – find the towing laws for your state

Towing Life – towing guides

Hitch Chart

Tow Vehicles/Trailers

Class I Class II Class III Class III Class IV
 Class I
2,000 lbs. (GTW)
200 lbs. (TW)
 Class II
3,500 lbs. (GTW)
300 lbs. (TW)
 Class III
3,500 – 6,000 lbs. (GTW)
350 – 600 lbs. (TW)
 Class III
4,000 lbs. (GTW)
350 lbs. (TW)

 Class IV
5,000 – 12,000 lbs.
500 – 1,200 lbs.

Weight-Carrying Weight-Distributing
Subcompact /
Compact Cars
Subcompact/Compact Cars
BulletClass I


Mid-Size Cars /
Small Pickups
Mid-Size Cars/Small Pickups

BulletClass I



BulletClass II Frame

BulletClass III

BulletClass III

MinivansMinivans BulletClass I


BulletClass II Frame

BulletClass III

BulletClass III

Full-Size Cars, Pickups, Vans, Utility VehiclesFull-Size Cars, Pickups,Vans, Utility Vehicles BulletClass I


BulletClass II Frame

BulletClass III

BulletClass III

BulletClass IV

NOTE: This chart is a general guide, and the specific weights and capacities of the actual trailer, tow vehicle and available hitch must be known in each case.
CAUTION: Class I Hitches are not to be used for tandem axle trailers, horse trailers, or house-type travel trailers regardless of weight.



Our History

SHETRON CUSTOM TRAILERS was established in October 2013. But do not be fooled. This business has been around for a long time. In 1975 Jim Arndt commenced manufacturing ARNDT TRAILERS in Dillsburg Pennsylvania. Originally steel trailers, Jim evolved to FRP built trailers, and by the late 1980’s aluminum trailers. By 1994 Jim was ready for retirement. Jim sold ARNDT TRAILERS to long time employees Roy and Linda Collins. Now known as COLLIN-ARNDT TRAILERS, Roy & Linda continued to grow and develop new ideas into their trailers. Unfortunately, the 2008 crash in the economy hit hard. Roy & Linda were left with the tough decision and sold their business to friend and businessman Terry Shetron. Thus the brand name SHETRON was born. In 2009 Terry recruited the services of his friend & neighbor, Michael Cox. Michael, an Australian who built his first trailer “down under” in 1982, with extensive engineering, welding and machining background, introduced many innovative and cost saving ideas, that has seen SHETRON become a force once again in the quality trailer marketplace. With Terry Shetron’s other business interests growing rapidly, Terry had little time to devote to the trailer manufacturing, and by late 2013 Terry had decided that it was time for him to step aside, and let Michael Cox and his wife, Julie, purchase the trailer manufacturing business. This sale was finalized by October 2013, and Michael & Julie relocated the business from Pennsylvania to Salisbury, North Carolina. Long time employees and direct family members of both Jim Arndt and Roy & Linda Collins, Rick Fishel and Clint Collins had no hesitation in relocating to Salisbury. These two long time employees, along with Michael & Julie and the entire staff, have begun the next chapter. With an aggressive business plan that will see new dealers established in key areas throughout the USA, and exports to Australia, the future looks bright. After all, nothing outlasts quality, and SHETRON CUSTOM TRAILERS is nothing but quality.