Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Few Thoughts On Conformation

I was going to write a blog post on what conformation you should be looking for in a new horse, based on what discipline you wanted to ride or compete in.  But after doing some preliminary research, while there are certainly some more desirable characteristics, it seems to me like you can’t really choose or discount a horse based on conformation alone.

From what I’ve read, it’s up to the horse.  Some horses can overcome their conformational set-backs and become high level competitors.  For example, I was reading “Selecting The Dressage Horse” by Dirk Willemstad Rosie, with commentary by Anky, and she states that her Grand Prix dressage stallion, Cocktail, had a hollow back.  Other conformation books I had read in preparation of this article – and even books on purchasing horses – said to bypass horses with hollow backs as they were weaker and would likely be unable to perform at higher levels.  These books also said that hollow backs were often early warning signs of a sway back.

If you’re like me, you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, if a horse is hollow backed, how could he possibly round his back and properly come up under himself?” Well, in my research so far, it seems that a horse’s natural athleticism can overcome a number of conformational obstacles.

Now, I’m not saying to go out and buy the next hollow backed horse you see and he’ll take you to the Olympics!  And certainly if the horse has a number of conformational faults, the likelihood that they will be a successful competition horse in any discipline is low.  I’m just saying that maybe, sometimes it boils down to attitude, athleticism and the horses own willingness and drive to compete.  Which is another topic for another time… Be sure to watch for my post on finding the discipline that suits your horse, and not trying to suit your horse to the discipline – coming soon to a blog near you!

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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in General


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Medical Monday: Abscesses

An abscess is basically an infection of the lamina.  Bacteria gets in, causes an infection and then white blood cells attack the infection.  Normally this would cause swelling but because this is in the hoof and the hoof cannot expand, pressure builds and results in pretty severe pain.  The purulent fluid (pus) that is the source of the pressure (product of the body fighting the infection) needs to find a way out.  Generally it takes the easiest path which could either be a hole in the hoof (drilled by either a vet or a farrier) or through the coronary band.

Introduction of bacteria to the lamina resulting in infection.  This can happen a number of ways:
-Pierced sole
-Wall cracks
-Bruised sole
-Unsanitary living conditions (softens the sole which allows bacteria in)
-Infrequently cleaned hooves (again, softens the sole which can allow bacteria in)

-Horse appears lame, doesn’t want to put any weight on the foot (usually a sudden and extreme lameness)
-Increased digital pulse in the hoof
-Swelling of lower leg
-Decreased ground contact with heels

-Your vet or farrier will hoof test to try to pinpoint the location of the abscess, they will then cut a small hole for fluid to drain
-Be sure to keep the drainage hole clean so no new bacteria is introduced
-If unable to pinpoint the location, your vet/farrier might recommend soaking the hoof or poulticing the coronary band to soften it to provide an easier path for the pus to escape through
-To increase blood circulation and promote healing, your vet/farrier may recommend hand walking your horse

-Regularly pick your horses hooves
-Keep your horse in a clean, dry area
-Use a qualified and competent farrier.

If your horse has had laminitis in the past they may be prone to abscesses so be sure to keep an eye out!  For more information on laminitis, check out our previous blog post.

Note: I found an article regarding soaking a horses hoof to help bring out the abscess and according to it repeated soaking, over several days, can result in the hoof wall to loosing integrity causing it to expand or bend outward.  Take a look at this article and remember to always consult your vet or farrier!

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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Health


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HRN’s Second Contest!

What?! Already?! This is madness! Madness, I say!

While Meredith is putting the finishing touches on the portrait for the winner of our first contest, I got a little eager to do another one!

Enter to win a new saddle pad! And not just any saddle pad, the very sleek, very sexy, very toight (Austin Powers movie reference intended) saddle pad pictured below!

To enter HRN’s contest, place any type of ad on HRN before July 25 and your name will automatically be entered into the draw.  Make sure to get your ads in before July 25, because at the stroke of midnight on July 24, Cinderella turns into a pumpkin! (and the contest ends) 🙂

Say it with me now: Ooooooh. Aaaaaaaah.

Questions? Email us at  Operators are standing by now!

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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Contests


Evaluating A Horse

When looking at a horse you’re considering buying, keep the following in mind in terms of the purpose/discipline for which you are purchasing it

  • Soundnes
  • Any blemishes
  • Movement
  • Conformation
  • Manners
  • Health (history and current)
  • Training and show history
  • Size (and is it full grown?)
  • Quality/flash – is the horse eye catching? will it stand out in the show ring?
  • Pedigree (if considering breeding)

Be sure to keep safety in mind at all times – a timid rider probably shouldn’t be paired with a timid horse.

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Posted by on June 23, 2011 in General


A hoof! A Hoof! My kingdom for a … hoof?

It has recently been brought to my attention that the horse world is a strange and wondrous place.  A place where magical, I daresay incredulous, things take place.  Or at least that is what a non-horsey friend has recently tried to convince me of.

This friend, we’ll call him Mike (mostly because that’s his name) asked of me the age old question, “if you remove a horses hoof, will it grow back”.  As I’m sure you’re aware, this question has been asked thousands upon thousands of times over the years, asked in frequency second only to “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it , does it make a sound?” (well? Does it?).  What’s that you say? No, you weren’t aware that non-horse people thought horses had magical regenerative capabilities? Well, neither was I!

At first I just assumed Mike meant the hoof wall – logic dictating that 1 – No one would want to cut off a horse’s hoof, and 2 – That as a functioning adult he had a working knowledge of the basic physiological structure of domesticated animals.  Oh no, my friend, he actually meant the harvesting of the entire hoof for the purpose of gelatin production!

Ignoring the obviously heinous gelatin comment, I proceeded to educate Mike in the structure of the equine hoof.  I dumbed it down to no hoof = no horse.  It seemed the best way to go given who I was dealing with…

So now, in an act of contrite redemption, Mike has suggested writing a blog post on the common, but grossly inaccurate, assumptions of non-horse people about our beloved creatures.

1.  Horses, as wonderful as they are, do not possess magical regenerative capabilities. They are not like lizards in any way, shape, or form.

 2.  As much as I wish it were true, Pegasus does not exist.

3. …and here I’m at a loss.  I’m trying to come up with outrageous assumptions made by non-horsey people and I’m coming up empty handed.

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in General


Tips for Buying a New Horse – Part 1

So you’ve decided to embark on the epic journey into horse ownership.  Congratulations!  There are a lot of things to consider – too many to include right not but, fear not, there are more to come!

  •  Take the horses fitness level into account.  An unfit horse may be lazy and dull, but as their fitness level increases you may notice energy and behavioral changes.
  • When arranging to try a horse, it’s a good idea to see the horse being caught from the field (if they’re in one), led in, groomed and tacked up in addition to being ridden.  Ground manners are very important and can make or break your partnership with a horse.
  • Before trying any horses develop a set of criteria that suit you and what you’re planning to do with your new horse.  If you have a trainer/instructor that you work with ask them for their opinion.
  • Finding a perfect match can take time and many trials! You may find it helpful to make some notes after viewing each horse so as not to forget any important details, or confuse one horse with another!
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in General



Tips for Buying a New Horse: Part 2

Questions to ask the seller:

 ·         Has the horse ever foundered

·         Does he kick? Bite? Rear? Bolt? Spooky?

·         How well does he trailer?

·         How is he on trails?

·         Can he be pastured with other horses? –how is he in a herd situation?

·         Any vices? Cribbing? Weaving? Chewing?

·         Any history of colic?

·         Is the horse an easy keeper or hard to keep weight on?

·         When did the horse last see a vet? Teeth floated? Vaccinations? Farrier? Wormed?

·         What equipment does the horse come with? Blankets? Saddle? Bridle? Halter? Lead rope?

·         What is the horses training level and show history?

 Don’t forget to examine your own personal needs to determine what other information about your potential new horse you might need to know.  For example, do you have young children that will be riding the horse as well? –if so, you’re going to want to ask how the horse is with kids.

 Remember, given the choice, visit the horse a few times before making a purchase decision as this is a huge commitment 🙂  Good luck with your purchase!

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in General



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