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General

QUESTION YOUR VET!!

I have long since argued (and practised what I preach) that vets don't know everything and that healthy scepticism is warranted. So, it didn't surprise me at all to read in this week's New Scientist the following (it relates to Human medicine and therefore how much more relevant to horses?):

"Much of what we do in medecine is theory-based. It's only relatively recently that good quality evidence has been available for many things," [my bold italics] P36, New Scientist August 27, 2016 edition.

It goes on..."It's no small concern. An analysis by BMJ Clinical Evidence of 3000 common medical practices categorised half as having unknown effectiveness", and 3 per cent as likely to be ineffective or harmful. Just a third were found to "beneficial" or "likely to be beneficial".

So beware and be sceptical. Your vet is not a God and the fantasy that we have that Science is all about incontrovertible fact is simply not true. Read the rest of the article above: it's quite scary.

RIDE WITH YOUR SEAT!

Ride with your seat is the apogee of ridden horsemanship we are told and I agree. What better feeling than developing the sensitivity of your horse to respond to the slightest change in pressure and combination of pressures.

One of the problems I see all the time though is that people use the saddle to sit on! Let me explain...For me the saddle has 2 roles:

1. A shock absorber and a cushion between my bony (or not so bony bottom) and the horses spine

2. A place to attach the stirrups

We teach our horses to move away from pressure. We also teach that a horse soon learns to ignore constant pressure or movements so put the leg on, for example,  and let it go once the horse has responded. In the same way if you don't want your horse to just ignore your seat you need to keep it light until you specifically engage it.

First the stirrups are your ground. 70% (or thereabouts) of your weight should be in your stirrups by default. This does several things:

1. It keeps the weight off your horse's back (thus helping to protect it from damage)

2. It protects the horse's spine from the weight of your bony bottom coming through your 2 seat bones

3. It drops your weight down thus lowering your centre of gravity (excellent, if not essential, for keeping your balance)

Now that you have your weight off your horse's back and you have independent balance you can begin to engage your seat independently.

If you're interested in finding out more give me a call to arrange a few lessons (1 is rarely enough).  A great exercise you can do to practise this is the 3 beat rising trot. Have someone hold your horse on a longe, tie up the reins, put on a neck strap in case you become unbalanced and then circle round in trot. When rising stay at the top for 2 beats thus effectively changing the rein every other step. You'll struggle at first but it's surprising how quickly you get used to it.  Good luck!

RIDE WITH YOUR SEAT!

Ride with your seat is the apogee of ridden horsemanship we are told and I agree. What better feeling than developing the sensitivity of your horse to respond to the slightest change in pressure and combination of pressures.

One of the problems I see all the time though is that people use the saddle to sit on! Let me explain...For me the saddle has 2 roles:

1. A shock absorber and a cushion between my bony (or not so bony bottom) and the horses spine

2. A place to attach the stirrups

We teach our horses to move away from pressure. We also teach that a horse soon learns to ignore constant pressure or movements so put the leg on, for example,  and let it go once the horse has responded. In the same way if you don't want your horse to just ignore your seat you need to keep it light until you specifically engage it.

First the stirrups are your ground. 70% (or thereabouts) of your weight should be in your stirrups by default. This does several things:

1. It keeps the weight off your horse's back

2. It protects the horse's spine from the weight of your bony bottom coming through your 2 seat bones

3. It drops your weight down thus lowering your centre of gravity (excellent, if not essential, for keeping your balance)

STRAPPING and POWER WASHERS!

You may or may not be aware of the old practice of strapping. This was something used particularly in the racing world post race to help dissipate the harmful toxins generated by the body in the process of heavy exercise. It involved some sort of bunch of soft leather straps which were soaked, washing the horse down to remove sweat and debris and then for 20 minutes or half an hour slapping the horse all over its body. Hard work apparently and apparently it worked too.

Now, you probably are aware that top athletes these days get in an ice bath for 10 minutes or so after exercise for exactly the same reason. The cold induces constriction of the blood vessels thus squeezing out toxins and the body also responds to the extreme cold by sending more blood to the area thus providing a conduit for the toxins to be carried away and excreted before they can cause too much damage.

Putting a horse in a cold bath is of course possible if you have the money and space for a bath that size and all that ice. However, I regularly a power washer to wash down my horses (at a suitable distance of course). It does have several uses such as getting them used to a noisy device close to their bodies but I suspect that it also has an effect not dissimilar to strapping and an ice bath as the cold jet of water hits the body massaging the area generating a drop in body temperature to create blood flow in the same way.

It would make a interesting case study. It's cheap, has multiple benefits and is something we can all do.

LEARN WHEN YOUNG

As I have said in the past there are 3 elements to me of becoming a good horseman:

 

1. Understand the nature of the horse. Observe without prejudice or preconception (easier said than done. We often see just what we want to)

2. Understand biomechanics. This is the physics of movement and is governed by inalienable laws. I was told recently that at vet college the students were being taught that the leg acts as a pendulum. Now, we all know that a pendulum has a large weight on the end of it. Compared to a horse's body it's legs weigh nothing and certainly don't act as a pendulum. In fact it is the opposite. They are very light so can easily be thrown forward without much wasted effort then the action of the leg hitting the ground and the load of the body landing on the legs activates the tendons which store up all that energy and instead of it just being lost in the ground it launches the horse forward again. The front tendons of a horse have the ability to withstand 5 tonnes of pressure. That is phenomenal. 

3. Listen to the old masters. We throw away 1000's of years of history at our peril.

Now, I'd like to add a 4th principle. Use common sense and use comparison with other animals, especially humans, which we can know about. Be careful with this one since, as with observation, we can all easily fall into the trap of seeing what we want to. For this you need to combine all 3 of the above and then add a dose of logic and common sense.

 

But I get sidetracked! In fact what I wanted to talk about was the importance of teaching a horse when it is young. Now by young I don't mean 4. For a horse that is adult by 6 years old, a 4 yo is equivalent to a teenager. By young I mean a foal, yearling, 2 year-old. Just like with humans the most important and long-lasting learning happens in the very earliest years. For humans they say that what you learn by the age of 2 or 3 stays with almost irrevocably for life. In the press there is a lot about how careless drivers are, and they can be, but equally we have a responsibility to train our horses to live in our world and this starts young, not with dragging them out of a field at 4 years' old and expecting them to behave as we want. If you train a foal that load noises and tractors and vehicles and so on and so forth are not to be feared they will quickly learn particularly if the mother shows no fear and it will remember it for life. Appropriate behaviour is the single most important thing you can teach a horse. It stays with it for life and has endless good benefits.

WHAT CAUSES NAVICULAR?

It will be interesting to see the results of this study (about the causes of navicular syndrome) and under what conditions it was run, how many horses were involved etc. There is a big issue running through the scientific community at the moment concerning reproducibility, that is, the ability to reliably reproduce results other scientists claim to have achieved and this is in areas such as psychology and cancer treatments with far more funding than the odd horse trial. Still, let's wait and see. Humans are very good at seeing what they want to see hence the development of rigorous, scientific procedures and even then many false results are produced. Navicular Syndrome (note the word: it means they have NO IDEA what causes it) was the Kissing Spines SYNDROME (interesting that isn't it?) of the nineties and early noughties. They came up with a wonderful scale for evaluating the seriousness of it. This was great, finally a way of measuring how lame my horse is, except that they found horses with a score of 4 (the most severe) who were perfectly sound and horses with a score of 1 showing all the signs of severe navicular syndrome. THE problem with horses is that we cannot ask them where the pain is, what the root is. Yes, they speak with their bodies and experienced horse people can interpret this (note the word 'interpret') but it is simply not the same as a human being able to say and point to pain, unequivocally. This remains the single most difficult issue when it comes to lameness. We have no direct means of evaluating the root cause.

 
What anyone doing scientific studies has to remember is that correlation is not causation. It is a very easy trap to fall into. Let me put a hypothesis to you... '90% of horses have some form of soft tissue damage which impacts their performance and this is more severe than most people think because of the horse's natural need to hide symptoms of pain.' It is like saying 30 years ago that going to the pub caused cancer. Well, it was likely you were a smoker if you went to the pub and we know now that it is smoking that causes cancer so the initial statement is patently not true: there was a CORRELATION and clearly no CAUSATION. So, it is my contention that most horses have far deeper soft tissue damage than we realise and that this is the first thing to sort out. In fact I have my own circumstantial 'evidence' that horses I have treated for soft tissue damage are no longer lame even though the veterinary diagnosis was navicular and nothing was done to 'treat' the navicular symptoms. BTW, I would me more than happy by the way to have my theory tested if someone wants to put up the huge amounts of money it would take to test mine or any other person's hypothesis.
 
So, in conclusion, this is all good stuff but there are enough myths in the horse world and I for one don't want to introduce any more. happy hunting as they say!

EVALUATING LAMENESS IN HORSES

I know we Brits hate anyone who blows their own trumpet but please allow me to a little bit. I have spent a lot of time and money on developing this skill. I have often contended that the problem with vets is that they know the physiology, pharmacology and anatomy of a horse without doubt better than I ever will but when it comes to lameness evaluation I'll happily go up against any vet. We all know if you get 10 vets evaluating lameness in a single horse you will likely get no agreement. Lameness is not something you learn at vet school, you learn it on the job. I work with lame horses all the time, my job is dealing with lameness. I don't treat cats or dogs or guinea pigs only horses and I mostly work with lame horses or poor performing horses. Experience is how you develop an eye for anything and it is no different with lameness. SO, I was really pleased when I finally got around to watching this video from The Horse.com and got to test myself against a bunch of vets. You will have to take me at my word but I got every one right (the vets in the room had various differing opinions) which really pleased me and vindicated my own philosophy. It's an interesting video anyway but if you don't have much time watch the last 15 minutes or so and test yourself. Be honest and see what you get. It's a bit of fun anyway. So, in conclusion, if you need medication or surgery go to a vet but if you need your horse evaluating for lameness find someone who has experience in working with lame or poor performing horses regularly.

DONT UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF GROUNDWORK

Rhythm
Relationship with horse obedience

Unencumbered with deficiencies of rider

Correct groundwork is an invaluable and in my experience much underused tool. 

DONT UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF GROUNDWORK

Rhythm
Relationship with horse obedience

Unencumbered with deficiencies of rider

Correct groundwork is an invaluable and in my experience much underused tool. 

PESSOA: GOOD or BAD?

In a short article I am not going to go into detail about how to use the Pessoa Training Aid. What I do know is that it is invaluable in the work I do for both rehabilitating horses but also backing/starting and rebacking horses. As with any tool it is only as good as the person using it and, yes, used incorrrectly you can cause damage to your horse. But the same could be said of any aspect of horse-riding from the saddle to the rider's hands and other aids. Here's a link to a short article by Sue Dyson being positive about the Pessoa. What I would say, if you want to use one, have lessons from a professional first. And secondly, use a leather bit as this is much kinder on the horse's mouth should it spook at something whilst in the Pessoa. Good luck and happy training! Pleaes call or message me if you want any further advice or information on its use.

INTERPRETING HORSE BODY LANGUAGE

Horses clearly don't speak in fact rarely vocalise anything when it comes to communicating especially with humans. Sure they use body 'language' but let's be careful how we interpret that. 'Language' is a very emotive word and carries all sorts of connotations that body 'language' simply does not live up to. There are all sorts of ways a horse communicates with its body but as humans we do not have an innate understanding of these as we are a different species. Ask 10 people what they think a horse is saying and you will probably get at least 8 different answers. Firstly, context is key. What is currently going on and what happens immediately afterwards are very important signals. Horses don't have the human cerebral cortex and therefore are beautifully in the now. They are of course unconsciously formed and controlled by prior experience and genetic patterns but cannot and do not consciously link one with another although it may look like that. This is why we end up teaching horses often the very thing we don't want to. Every interaction you are teaching them to do or not do something whether you like it or not.

In my experience you need to take a variety of body signals into consideration (and the before and after) in order to correctly interpret a signal. Recently, I got on a very nervous horse, who was licking and chewing and had its right hind 'cocked' in the 'relaxed' position. We took this as a good sign that she was indeed relaxed but as it happens was still very nervous. It turns out the cocked hind leg in this instance was not a sign of her being relaxed but of being immediately ready to move off. In this instance the tail also showed signs of being 'nervous' and the rest of her face was also showing some signs of nervousness.

The moral of the story for me was a) take ALL the signs into consideration and b) always go with your gut in the end which in this case was telling us that she was still very nervous but one of the 'key' body signs we thought was telling us the opposite.

STARTING/BACKING HORSES

I like to revisit what I consider to be truths every now and then just to check I got it right and see if there is anything else to learn. I am in the process of rebacking a nervous 9 yo mare with a friend and it has just reinforced for me the importance of 'working' with your horse from a young age to avoid all sorts of problems later. Briefly the potted history: The horse in question was unworked for 4 years or so then  worked a little over the next year or so but already terrified of most things. The backing process was then started at which point said mare had 2 riders on the ground. Mare bucked off 2 experienced riders and went to another professional rider for 8 days but had him off regularly too. She was hacked out by the owner intermittently but only walk and trot for a good while after which for various reasons the mare was put out in the field for another 1 1/2 years. I came across her now about 8 weeks ago and started the full backing process about 6 weeks ago. We started from the beginning again and got on her after 3 weeks or so and she was brilliant. Unfortunately she regressed for no obvious reason and another 3 weeks later we got back on and now I think we have broken the back of her problems. This should never have happened of course. Techniques like Join Up or all the other various wonderful ways would be completely unnecessary if we just brought up our horses from the very beginning to behave properly and did 'work' early on (this does NOT mean riding, in fact I think it is difficult to justify riding a horse let alone competitively as a 2 year old or even frankly as a 3 year old and then it must be done with great care and understanding. BTW, I think this is the main cause of Kissing Spines, riding a horse too early.).

So, yes, early, consistent, sensitive work, particularly for a sensitive/low confidence horse like this is invaluable and saves many problems later, many of which unfortunately now will probably remain for the rest of her life, just like with children who don't get that necessary early grounding. Speak to us if you need horses backed or rebacked or just need some good, old-fashioned behavioural work.

STICK TO WHAT YOU KNOW

This motto is something that I (and many others) have trouble abiding by.  And when you are dealing with horses it's even more difficult and even more important. Firstly the horse cannot gives its opinion and secondly because of that people can accuse you of all sorts of things and really all you can do is argue back or ignore the criticism. For any of you that know Gerd Heuschmann (if you don't, look him up) he was vilified when a part video of him working with a remedial horse went online. They had got completely the worng end of the stick, had not understood what he was (and did) genuinely trying to achieve and was vilified by certain people for it. We all have to develop our own ways of doing things based on research, experience, our personality, the horses we are working with and what we are trying to achieve. When I first started out on the professional part of my horse career I did a talk to a group of horsey women near Limoges in France. It just ended up in them throwing lots of abuse at me. I vowed never to do anything similar again. All that matters at the end of the day is results. Listen to your horse and let him teach you and let what everyone else says wash over you. DO NOT ENGAGE! You are on a hiding to nothing as what you do can never be corroborated by the horse except in its way of going and behaviour. There are 2 things close to my heart right now that exemplify how important this is. KS (Kissing Spines) and the Pessoa.

Let's take KS first. There's  a great operation now available (at the cost of many 1000's of pounds but, hey, the insurance pays so who cares?), the so-called 'lig snip'. I love that phrase. It sounds so small and insignificant but this involves severing the joining ligaments of the spinous processes and then often shaving the overlapping bones sometimes by a couple of cm or more. Given that this is a physical process and a relatively simple one, this should work close to 100% of the time barring very poor surgery. But the reality is that it is about 70% successful which begs the question why? Well, this is because KS is a symptom not a cause. In this case you can shave the offending bones which are rubbing together and cut the ligaments between the spinous processes so they regrow a little longer and the horse can go completely differently but you haven't sorted out the problem. The horse wasn't born with it so why has it happened now? That's what our job is and we have had experience now of 10 KS horses none of which have had surgery and all of which are back in work often at a much higher level than they were doing prior to the diagnosis. Have a look at our website for more information about what we do.

So, the Pessoa. The bete noire of horse training tools. "It's so hard and harsh", they say. "It forces the horse to go behind the bit", they say. "Gerd Heuschmann really hates it" they say as justification. As with any tool it is only as good as the hands that use it and this is the key with the pessoa. Most people buy one off the shelf with no training and are simply trying to force their horse 'into an outline'. But the problem is they haven't learned how to use it properly and in the wrong hands you can ruin a horse in 5 minutes. It's like buying a car without learning how to drive and like driving a car it can in fact be dangerous for the horse too. In fact, better still, it's like buying a car without knowing the highway code and what the car is for. The Holy Grail of developing a horse is not what it looks like but how it is moving. The fact that a horse looks great when it is moving well is not the point. This is usually based on years of proper work.

So, my advice, is go with your instincts, establish your base principles and let everything you do chime to those principles and let the results do the talking. And of course ALWAYS be prepared to LEARN but not by throwing away what you know and going with the latest and greatest but by putting aside what you know for a while and then properly evaluating the new knowledge. Assimilate the good and leave the rest.

LET HORSES BE HORSES-1

Dennis on the muck heap

There are of course many similarities between humans and horses. We are part of the same kingdom (Animals), are mammals, have muscles and so on. But there are clearly also big differences and in this series of articles I want to talk about a few of them. Imagine if you put us out in a field and told us that would be where we would be for the rest of our lives apart from the occasional ride out with another animal on our back pushing and prodding us around. We clearly wouldn't last very long and would indeed become bored (not least!) and look for any way we could to escape. I was wondering today if horses do actually get bored. Of course one of the main problems we have with horses is that we cannot verifiably communicate directly with them so everything we say is interpretation at some level. We often talk about making training sessions interesting or ensuring the horse doesn't get bored but what is that based on? What could be more boring than eating for 12-16 hours a day? In our opinion horses can't get bored as this requires a different type of intelligence which animals don't have (not saying good or bad just that they don't). They are always in the now. They have to be. They are still wild at heart and must always be on the look out for predators. When we are working with them they have not the faintest idea what is going to happen from one moment to the next: first this way, then that. Stop. Go. Walk. Canter. Trot. Left, right etc. You get the picture. Humans can try for a while to be in the now but the cerebral cortex usually gets in the way unless you are a monk or ascetic living in a cave in the Himalayas. It is this ability to be in the now that means they cannot get bored. If you think about it boredom comes from wishing you were somewhere else doing something more interesting imagining a different time or place, wanting to be somewhere different possibly with someone different. 

 

SAMSARA'S UNIQUE MUSCLE THERAPY

In our unique muscle therapy, we use a recipe, probably based on an old gypsy recipe, which uses a combination of a variety of herbs/plants.  It is very successful in sorting out soft-tissue damage. Originating from teh days when your horse was your livelihood and vets weren't around or if they were they were not affordable, it was vital you had remedies that work.  What confuses me a bit is why 'scientists' are so sceptical when it comes to herbal/plant-based remedies. Over time about 50% of the most commonly used medicines originate from molecules first discovered in plants, often from old remedies. In fact, if the internet can be believed over 80% of new molecules in the current fight against cancer come from plants. I was watching the BBC's Shark programme yesterday, and they were talking about the unique attributes of shork skin, one of which is that NOTHING, not even BACTERIA can stick to it. Isn't that amazing?...well maybe not. Animals have had a lot longer to develop than we have and it is no surprise to me at all that nature keeps coming up with the goods. Check out our website at www.samsara-equitation.co.uk for more information on our unique muscle therapy.

ISSUES WITH YOUR HORSE?

Before looking into all sorts of weird and wonderful solutions, supplements, operations etc try thinking how you different you feel when you are really fit (or not as the case may be). I know that I feel a whole lot better, stronger and more able to 'push' when I am fundamentally fit and how much more so with horses. Make sure a significant part of your training goes to keeping your horse appropriately fit. By the way it is OK for your horse to sweat and pant. It's good for the system and is the way you increase fitness. Of course if your horse has not been worked for a while you need to build up slowly but your horse can do a lot more exercise than you are probably doing. Schooling sessions are all very well but 2-3 times a week of a fully concentrated schooling session is more than enough with the rest as good, long rides out over varying ground and terrain. A general good level of fitness will not only help your horse ride better but keep him more healthy and happy and less prone to injury.

CHARLIE COMES 2ND IN HIS FIRST EVER TEST

Great news at the weekend. We came 2nd on Charlie's first ever test. Watch the video on Youtube. Really pleased for everyone involved. 

WHAT DO HORSES THINK?

I think a lot when I am around my horses and am constantly challenging my thinking and checking in 'Does it make sense?'. We have not the feintest idea what horses actually think so I try and come from a horse's perspective. As a prey animal it's abssolute priority is security. Without this of course nothing else matters. Then sustenance and finally procreation. Now I keep all my sport's horses stabled except for a good hour or 2 of work 6 days a week. None of them have stable vices, they are all polite and well-behaved. Add to that when I let them out the stable loose they will happily wander back in again after a short while it makes me think. For a human of course nothing could be worse than being 'imprisoned' in a stable. But that's just it it is the human perspective. Yes, but horses have long legs and need to move all the time. But the long legs are for running from predators. The ancestors of the modern horse were small, short-legged beasts. And then a horse came to me recently who I know well and had been with me 7 months ago for training. When he came back this time he was very nervy but after just a day or 2 back in the stable he is his old self. And that got me thinking what had happened? Well, out in the field (remember the horse can't logicalise) he is exposed to danger the whole time and must be constantly on his guard. In the stable, he is safe and as long as he has company, is well-nourished and exercised regularly why would he want to go anywhere else, or at least, it clearly doesn't harm him. Now I am not saying that turnout is not a good thing, just musing on a myth that horses must be turned out as much as possible in order to be content. Next time you observe your horses turned out take a look. They eat for up to 16 hours a day, rest and stand doing not much for the majority of the time: no videos, no books, no holidays. They're not human and I believe as horsemen the onerous is on us to keep that front and centre when we work them. Next week i'm going to talk more about poor behaviour and nervousness and what might cause it. A recent insight I had has taken me quite by surprise...

FLAME GOING STRONGER THAN EVER 18 MONTHS ON

And so 18 months on not only is the wild dream for Shabs and her horse Flame a reality but now things previously thought just not possible are all of a sudden becoming very real. Watch the video here of her very first walk and trot test with this once dangerous horse with a severe KS diagnosis: Flame doing his first walk and trot test.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHELATED CALCIUM IN A HORSE'S DIET

This is an interesting video on the importance of a specific nutrient, chelated calcium, in the horse's diet. We all pay lip service to the 'we are what we eat' mantra, but really we are and so too horses. What are horses eat can have a profound effect on behaviour, locomotion issues and any other problem with any bodily system because each system of course requires certain combinations of nutrients to work optimally. For us, nutrition is the first port of call when we get a new horse in. Of course changing a horse's nutrition will usually not show significant effects for a month or two but as this video shows it's well worth it. Check the teeth regularly, do annual FWC's and worm regularly. Make sure you feed concentrates with at least as much forage well mixed in as the horse's stomach deals badly with the high acidity that digesting grains requires and do a blood test every now and then and particularly if your horse is having issues. 

Fiona Price of Horsehero.com brings her horse Taz for therapy

We (Samsara) have made good progress so far over the 2 years we have been back in the UK with our unique muscle therapy and rehab program. We have had some great stories but we are really excited about our latest horse, Taz. He is the proud mount of Fiona Price (of Horse hero fame - www.horsehero.com) and we are very privileged that she has chosen us to sort out Taz's final niggles. He has come a long way since this photo when she first got him. He is now on the World Class Squad for endurance competing at 2* level (120K) but that last 5-10% in his body somewhere is holding him back. You can follow his progress so far in Fiona's blog on Horse Hero (http://www.horsehero.com/celebrity-blog?CelebId=1671) and there are videos of him on the site (http://www.horsehero.com/video-search?keywords=Taz). Mostly our stories so far have involved horses which have been written off. To go from not rideable to rideable is an obvious difference but the proof of the pudding with Taz will be in the eating, as they say, and that won't be until he starts performing at the peak level again in 6 months' time or so. Fingers crossed and watch this space! (See below for pics of when Fiona got him - left - and riding in endurance competition - right.)
Taz racingTaz before Fiona bought him

Horse Winter Insulation

Now that the colder weather (and worse wet) has finally arrived in earnest we are all looking at rugs and how to keep our horses comfortable. It is the combination of wind and wet that is really the one to look out for. We have no idea how well insulated a horse is in fact. Even a clipped horse still has those amazing fine hairs next to their skin which still provide a lot of insulation. I've often wondered is there any way we could find out for ourselves how insulating it is. We humans with our relatively fine head hairs and little else besides. Blankets, because they squash down the hairs they are resting on can provide less additional insulation than you might think. I have read a figure of as little as 15% extra. For me the key things to do are make sure you feed extra when it is cold, fresh water slightly warmed if possible (you can get devices which buried deep in the ground provide enough of a temperature difference to lightly heat the water a few degrees) and protection from the wind and rain. And you must always remember that if you start rugging you have to continue.

VET CORROBORATES SAMSARA KS WORK

It is with huge pride that we have our first veterinary endorsement of our work. Here's the quote in full: 

"I've known 'Flame' for many years when concerns of his movement and top line started to arise back in May last year. Subsequently my investigation brought to light that this lovely Thoroughbred gelding was suffering from impingement of several dorsal spinous processes ('kissing spines') throughout his thoracic and lumbar spine. As I believe that surgical removal of these processes will only lead to a significant destabilisation of the horse's back I agreed to the owner's request to try and rehabilitate him at the Samsara Equitation Centre.
Having seen him during several re-examinations a year later I am impressed with his abilities to hold his core muscles and move through his back and abdominal line. Repeat radiographs have not shown any further deterioration. The horse is again able to enjoy ridden work, thanks to the professional rehabilitation programme and his dedicated owner."


Ralph Hege DVM MRCVS, Galley Hill Equine Surgery 

FIRST SAMSARA TRAINING CLINIC A SUCCESS

Our first Riding and Training Clinic went really well on Saturday. We had 2 horses after 2 pulled out late on but the feedback was good and the results were excellent. Here's what one owner said: 

"Thanks for your hard work today. It was so reassuring and encouraging to see the trust, respect and bond Squirrel is developing with you even in such a short time. You have a real talent and I'm so hopeful that you can help us both." Lindsay Woodford.

Watch this space for further clinics later in the year.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS WITH REGARDS THE INFORMATION YOUR VET HAS ON YOUR HORSE

It is worth knowing your rights when it comes to vets and your information such as x-rays and the like. Most are very happy to give you what you ask for but some like to throw their weight around. Check out our link on this (Requesting information from your Vet) but in short if you paid for x-rays they are YOURS and the vet must give you a copy. Even if you didn't pay, you can request a copy through a freedom of information request at a cost of no more than £10. So now you know! 

 

HEUSCHMANN says "Good Job!"

Went to a riding clinic yesterday with Gerd Heuschmann on a horse which came to us a year ago with Kissing Spines. Clinic was great and GH rode him and was very impressed that a year on he can feel no evidence of KS in the way the horse moves and behaves. Job Done!! He'll be leaving us soon now that our work is done. We shall miss him but wish him luck in his new life.

5 YEAR-OLD SPICE FINDS A HOME

Spice, the 5 yeard old mare, we had in for backing over Christmas, has found a great home. She was barely with us 4 weeks and went from a trembling wreck to a horse who could stand for 20 minutes whilst humans chatted without getting stroppy, Well done to Becky Gooch for rescuing her from teh butcher's and fulfilling her 2013 (yes) New Year's resolution. Read the case study to find out more.

BOBTAIL ENTERED IN 1.10PM AT CHEPSTOW ON JAN 17TH

One of the first horses we worked with in the UK, Bobtail, a 3 year-old gelding at the time, has been entered for his first race in the 1.10pm at Chepstow on Jan 17th. Might be worth a flutter!

KISSING SPINES CAN BE HELPED WITH REHAB ALONE

A recent article in this month's Horse and Hound vindicates Samsara's approach to Kissing Spines in horses. It talks first of a new less invasive procedure to cure this painful condition but it starts off saying that a vet in Sweden is having good success without surgical intervention. To quote the article:

"Equine surgeon Bruce Bladon points out that a colleague in Sweden who has operated on a lot of kissing spines cases has more recently had excellent results — without surgery — with horses sent to a rider experienced in equine rehabilitation and re-schooling.

“This makes sense,” says Bruce. “We’re talking about the normal flexibility of the spine, occasionally resulting in the edges of the bones ‘kissing’. It’s easy to imagine how a different rider or saddle, or increased muscle tone as a result of physiotherapy and a change in work, might prevent this.

“It’s also easy to see how the results of schooling a horse could be so different, depending on the psychology of the rider,” adds Bruce, who believes that kissing spines surgery can, in some cases, have the effect of a placebo.

Certainly we know that with our unique muscle therapy and then good rehab to teach the horse to work in a proper outline and build its core strength excellent long-term results can be achieved.  You can read the full article by clicking H&H Kissing Spines article

 

Samsara Muscle Therapy Qualifies for Insurance

Great news. It's official that the Samsara Muscle Therapy qualifies for insurance as long as you have veterinary sign-off. Pass it on!

Horse Magazine Article July 2013

HORSE magazine ran a 5 page feature on us in July's issue.  I still can't quite believe they want to write about what we do but here you have it in black and white (well, full colour actually!)!

WHAT'S IN A WEEK?

Well, a completely new horse if Jodi Sinclair's experience with Henry is anything to go by. The diagnosis was Kissing Spines and the solution either an expensive surgery or putting out to grass neither of which appealed to Jodi. 1 week and £150 later she has what she and her friend describe as a difference horse. Read her feedback here.

KS HORSE IS BETTER - IT'S OFFICIAL

Well it's now official. Remember the horse with Kissing Spines? It has recently become an Elite KWPN mare. We're all so chuffed. X-rays are clear and she is showing no signs of pain. Not bad for a horse classed as dangerous and recommended for the great stable in the sky!

TO BUTE OR NOT TO BUTE!

...that is the question! :)  I have long be against the use of any drug just for the short term release of pain especially where it replaces the search and resolution of the deep, root cause. Bute these days is used almost without thinking on horses with pain. This article is a very interesting rebuttal of its use by a well-known US vet. 

HORSE MAGAZINE ARTICLE

                                  Read Kerry Turner's excellent article on Horse Muscle Management in Horse Magazine's April 2013 issue. It was inspired by a visit to our yard.  Here's the link to the website: http://www.horsemagazine.co.uk/. Thanks Kerry!

HORSE MUSCLE MANAGEMENT

Read Kerry Turner's great article about how best to manage your horse's muscles.

8 YEAR-OLD 'NO HOPE' GELDING GETS A LIFELINE

We have already taken on our first horse in Wales for rehabilitation. His story is very typical. When he was bought he already almost certainly had a problem which turned out more severe than at first thought. After 4 years of searching and trying every option his owner had all but given up hope until she saw our advert last month. He had been seen by vets, trainers and other experts but unfortunately although something was clearly wrong no-one could find the cause. Now, don't get me wrong, not every horse can be helped but MANY horses can in particular where they have unexplained lameness or poor performance. This horse can too and should be back in normal work within 2 months.  Watch this space for regular updates.

HOW TO BALANCE YOUR HORSE - 5-DAY WORKSHOP

Feb 3rd-8th 2013 and Feb 17th-22nd. Samsara is delighted to announce it is hosting a workshop by the Dutch dressage rider, Monique De Rijk (http://www.atletischerijkunst.nl). She was trained as an instructor by the well-known Belgian trainer Antoine De Bodt (http://www.hoefkatrol.be). In this workshop you will learn how to balance your horse, what can happen if she isn't balanced and how to correct it. You will also learn practical exercises which you can use to continue your development at home. Practical videos will also be made available online to all attendees. £350 for a 5 day course. Food and accommodation is not included. You are encouraged to bring your own horse but it is not necessary. Horses can be stable in our yard for £10 a day all-inclusive. Click here for a practical demonstration of what can happen in a short space of time.

 

Click here for a full brochure of the course.

SAMSARA MOVE TO WALES

Samsara are moving to Wales on November 15th 2012. We will keep you posted on developments. Our new address will be Cabalva Farm, near Hay-on-Wye.

VIGO BOUGHT By CIAN O'CONNOR .

For 3 months our stallion Vigo (out of Voltaire and Concorde and Ragna II) has been ridden in competition by Jean Charles Pirot a young, talented and ambitious French rider. Vigo is a perfect example of our philosophy in practice. Vigo was given to us by a top Dutch horse dealer as a 6 year-old as everything else they had tried to fix him had not worked. As a 3 year-old he had reached the 2nd stage of the KWPN stallion approval process only to have an serious accident in his stable. He kicked his hind leg through the bars and although he got it out he required surgery to the injury on his leg. As a result of box rest he got a severe colic and was once again operated on. Thereafter he recovered only to be permanently lame. Every option was tried but to no avail.  The wound has healed perfectly but the lameness would not budge. What his problem was that he had severely torn the muscles in his left hind quarters. After 3 months of treatment with us he was no longer lame and was gradually brought on and back into competition.

Every horse requires a team around him in order to bring out the best and in particular early diagnosis and treatment of small problems is essential to long term success.  Vigo was recently bought by the top Irish showjumper, Cian O'Connor, and we wish Vigo and Cian every success in their new partnership. Here are a couple of videos on Youtube of Vigo and Jean Charles Pirot in action:

1. Vigo at Le Blanc April 2011

2. Vigo at Pompadour May 2011

3. Vigo at Montlucon June 2011

BOLERO THE FOAL RECOVERS FULLY

Bolero the foal (Watch the video on Youtube), who was born on July 12th 2010, has now staged a complete recovery from the horrific injury he suffered shortly after birth. We used hot water and Samsara disinfectant to tend the wound over a period of about 6 weeks and he is now completely recovered with hardly a scar. Watch the video on Youtube and click here to for further information on the disinfectant we use for severe flesh wounds.

Samsara Equitation Equine Rehab Centre - nr. Whitney-on-Wye, HerefordSamsara Equitation Equine Rehab Centre - nr. Whitney-on-Wye, Hereford