Blue is a seven year old ISH that Nicky has owned for three years.  She came to Nicky as a 5-year-old, being lightly started and having bred a foal.  She is kept with Nicky’s other horse Trio (see his story also) on livery where they are stabled and turned out onto managed pasture with ad lib hay.

Although kept in exactly the same circumstances, Blue’s issues were quite different to Trio’s.  For Blue, being ‘grass affected’ meant that she became tight in her back and sacro-iliac, had difficulty cantering right lead and would cross- canter at times.   She could also get tense and spooky, which meant that Nicky was having a few unexpected dismounts.  Whilst all of these things could be put down to training issues in a young horse, Nicky wasn’t so sure.  She was putting the training in but progress had plateaued and the unexpected falls were increasing.

Blue is a very genuine and athletic horse, so in order to address the tightness and canter issues, Nicky fed Alleviate C and GrazeEzy in combination for about six weeks.  During this time, the tightness subsided and Blue became softer and more relaxed in her training.  The cross-cantering stopped and the ongoing training started to develop Blue as it should.

Before adding the GrazeEzy and Alleviate C to the bucket’ Blue was shod in front. But due to the improvements, Nicky felt confident enough to remove the shoes and return Blue to barefoot.  Since then, Nicky has been able to maintain Blue without shoes.

 

With a young, green horse like Blue, most people would have put the problem down to weakness and insufficient training.  However, in our experience, pushing horses through these issues only works in the short term.  Eventually, the isssues return but by then the compromised horse has been worked in tightness that has put unecessary stress on its body.   In our view, the rise in conditions such as kissing spine, sacrio-iliac damage and ulcers are the result.  Making sure horses are able to start their work in softness rather than needing to work hard to make them soft enough to start the ride is key.

 

Comparing Blue and Trio’s case studies demonstrates how each horse reacts differently to the same environment and management.  This is why it can get so confusing for us owners as we tend to expect horses to have the same reactions to similar stimuli.

In principle’ the solution for all horses is basically the same: use of grass-free options, plenty of good hay, appropriate access to appropriate pasture, a simple bucket to provide the essential nutrition needed, and plenty of correct movement.

By adopting these principles and working out the best balance for the individual horse, we find that horses will be at their best,  that is calm, healthy and athletic animals that live long and injury-free lives.