Animal Connections - Integrative Care, P.A.
Animal Connections Integrative Care Blog

Negative Reinforcement - Is it a Good thing or Bad?

Horse training.  You either pay someone to do it for you, struggle through it yourself, or unknowingly do it every day.  Most likely, if you have a horse, you are unconsciously training him or her every time you go out to the barn.  Every action you do around your horse sends him a signal which he tries to interpret in order to protect himself or get what he wants.  If you break it down to the simplest of elements, your horse is a very basic creature: he wants to eat, sleep, and basically be left alone.

The Slow-Feeding Movement

In their natural setting, horses typically graze between 14-16 hours a day.  This has anatomically designed them to be best suited for small, frequent forage meals throughout the day. 
However, in today’s setting with modern management strategies, many horses have limited access to forage due to meal feedings and increased time being stalled. These management changes have led to alterations in digestion as well as dysregulations of metabolic patterns including glucose, insulin, and cortisol.

Detecting Pain in our Horses

Facial expressions are commonly used to assess pain and other emotional states in humans, but can the same be said for horses?  Researchers have been trying to streamline an effective and accurate way to detect pain in horses.  Grimace scales have been designed by monitoring the appearance of facial changes from individual or a combination of muscles of the face.  These grimace scales are species-specific, and are said to be more advantageous than other methods generally used to detect pain in animals.

Saddle Fit

Saddle fit is an extremely important aspect of equine management and welfare. If a saddle is improperly fit to a horse’s back certain health concerns such as back pain and lameness can occur. The saddle should be assessed both on and off the horse as well as before, during, and after exercise.  Some saddle issues only present themselves when a horse performs a certain maneuver so it is pertinent to be thorough in your assessment.  It is also important to note that not all brands of saddles will fit all horses’ shapes, sizes, breeds, etc.

Conditioning Your Horse

It’s that time of year again.  We have emerged from the bitter cold days of winter and the warm temperatures have returned.  With the warmer weather here we are usually determined to get out and do more, and that often involves our horses.  After a more sedate approach to riding during the winter months it is important to make sure your horse is ready for the frenzy of activity that comes with summertime and show season.  
Unless you have been diligent over the winter months and have ridden your horse on a regular exercise regimen it is generally safe to say that some conditioning workouts are in order.

All About Cribbing

Do you have a cribber in your barn?  Are your stalls chewed down to studs and beyond?  Have you ever wondered what is going through your horse’s head when he’s doing this behavior?  The exact etiology of cribbing behavior has yet to be determined, however, most equine researchers agree that the cause is multifactorial. There have been several studies conducted to investigate the potential mechanism of origin, and there are a handful of associations between environmental or physical events and the development of cribbing behavior.

Grooming with Intention

How much time do you regularly spend grooming your horse?  It probably varies depending on the day, how dirty your horse is, how much time you have, etc.  On average though riders tend to spend around 10-20 minutes grooming their horse before and after riding. If you add that time up over the course of a month of daily grooming that equals 8+ hours of grooming time spent with your horse.  Why not make that quality time with your horse more productive in order to deepen your bond and create a lasting partnership?

Blankets, Blankets, Blankets

As we all know, living through Minnesota winters can be somewhat challenging due to the cold and snow (or wet as we've seen this year).  And our horses often experience more of Mother Nature’s wrath from being outside more than we are.  To keep our horses warm and dry we often bundle them up in a turnout blanket.  There are many factors, however, to consider when deciding whether to blanket your horse or not.  Certain horses under certain conditions may benefit from the additional protection that a blanket can provide.

Horses in the U.S.: an Infographic







Have you ever wondered how many horses there are in the U.S.?

A 2005 census taken by Deloitte Consultingtold us: 9.2 million. That's a hair smaller than the population of North Carolina!

So, what are all these horses doing? The data was surprising. While there is a strong group of racehorses and show horses out there, there are also many pleasure horses that have recreational careers. In fact, recreational equines make up the largest section of the horse population in America - 3.9 million horses.

EHV-1 Outbreak in Minnesota – Updates and Links



In recent weeks, Dr. Kyla has limited the number of barns that she travels to due to the EHV-1 outbreak, and has been using biosecurity measures to deter the spread of the disease between horses, as we mentionedhere. We've heard questions from horse owners across the state about the spread of the disease and the status of the horses that have been tested. In an effort to make it easier for you to find accurate and current information about EHV-1 in Minnesota, we've compiled some links to helpful articles, handouts, and videos on the web.
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Recent Posts

Negative Reinforcement - Is it a Good thing or Bad?
The Slow-Feeding Movement
Detecting Pain in our Horses
Saddle Fit
Conditioning Your Horse

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