Un­der­stand Your Equine In­surance Pol­icy

Dressage Today - - Content -

Avoid sur­prises by tak­ing a closer look at your pol­icy

“Many of our horses en­joy their turnout, but when you look out 30 min­utes later, they are at the gate ready to come back into the barn,” the vet­eri­nar­ian ex­plains. “It’s usu­ally be­cause they en­joy their stall due to a busy, in­ter­ac­tive sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment.” Clean stalls, ven­ti­lated in­te­ri­ors, am­ple, clean, fresh wa­ter and feed, ef­fec­tive fly-con­trol sys­tems and prox­im­ity to bud­dies are all part of that. “All horses need stim­u­la­tion in mul­ti­ple forms and have spe­cial so­cial needs. A busy barn, once horses ad­just to it, makes for happy horses.”

Stall toys are good stim­u­la­tion, Burn­ley adds. Amaz­ing Graze Treat Toys by Horse­men’s Pride are a fa­vorite at Wren­wood Dres­sage. The de­vice dis­penses a small amount of treats, for­age or, in the Burn­leys’ case, pel­lets, when moved in a cer­tain way. “It re­ally helps when they can’t have turnout at shows to keep them en­ter­tained for hours.”

Good light­ing fa­cil­i­tates con­struc­tive reg­u­lar checks of the horses and their hay and wa­ter sup­ply, but horses don’t ben­e­fit from night lights. “Many horses need a dark stall to sleep well, so don’t for­get to turn off those good lights at night.”

What the Sil­ver­mans’ horses stand on is a pri­or­ity for the cou­ple, who hap­pened upon Com­fortS­tall’s sealed, or­tho­pe­dic floor­ing sys­tem when it came with a San Diego sta­ble they pur­chased sev­eral years ago. They made it a pri­or­ity in their cur­rent barn in Ran­cho Santa Fe, where Mark’s Sporthorse Vet­eri­nary Ser­vices and his South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Equine Po­di­a­try Cen­ter are based.

Mi­nor weight shifts re­quired to stand on the cush­ioned sur­face stim­u­late cir­cu­la­tion to the point of greatly re­duc- ing lower-leg in­flam­ma­tion, Tif­fany ex­plains. The con­stant mo­tion is great for joint health and elim­i­nates the need for overnight ban­dag­ing of her horse’s legs un­less there’s a med­i­cal rea­son to do so. Mark val­ues the cush­ion­ing as­pect for the many laminitic or oth­er­wise foot­sore cases in the po­di­a­try branch of his prac­tice.

“Ev­ery­body lays down on it,” adds Tif­fany. “From a 7-year-old Sec­ond Level horse to a 21-year-old Grand Prix horse, their tails are full of shav­ings in the morn­ing.” Hock sores are not an is­sue with this floor­ing and it’s a money-saver be­cause bed­ding is not needed for cush­ion­ing: only a small amount of bed­ding is re­quired to ab­sorb urine.

Florida-based Amy Sw­erdlin’s home­bred Olden­burg, Quileute CCW, had a ter­rific 2017. The Quater­back geld-

ing helped Sw­erdlin be­come the No. 1-ranked am­a­teur for Prix St. Ge­orges and Fourth Level, and this year they are pro­gress­ing nicely in the De­vel­op­ing Horse Prix St. Ge­orges.

Quileute’s fu­ture, how­ever, didn’t look so bright as a 5-year-old. That’s when the now 8-year-old be­gan de­vel­op­ing what be­came a chronic cough, oc­ca­sion­ally so se­vere he was un­ride­able. Sw­erdlin’s hus­band, Scott, is a vet­eri­nar­ian and pres­i­dent of Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Welling­ton, so she had ac­cess to a wide range of ex­per­tise and meth­ods to ad­dress it. Ven­tipul­min syrup was an op­tion that made the al­ready hot horse ex­tra wired, plus it’s not al­lowed for com­pe­ti­tion. Tests de­ter­mined that Quileute was al­ler­gic “to a ton of stuff,” Sw­erdlin says. Un­for­tu­nately, that in­cludes the Bahia grass com­mon to pas­tures and land­scapes through­out the Welling­ton area where the Sw­erdlins and their horses live year-round. The fa­cil­ity’s 33 pad­docks, for ex­am­ple, are all planted with Bahia.

The Sw­erdlins re­planted one pad­dock in St. Au­gus­tine grass, which helped quell Quileute’s cough a lit­tle. Soak­ing his hay to re­duce al­ler­gens seemed to help some, too, but it was a switch to card­board bed­ding that brought about a “180-de­gree im­prove­ment,” she re­ports. “You would think shav­ings are dusty, but it’s straw that’s the worst for hav­ing a lot of al­ler­gens. High-qual­ity shav­ings can be low dust, but Quileute is su­per-sen­si­tive.” Af­ter try­ing all types of bed­ding, in­clud­ing ground-up di­a­pers and pel­lets, she was de­lighted to find that a rel­a­tively new prod­uct, Air­lite An­i­mal Bed­ding, worked won­ders. “The very next day his cough­ing was al­ready down,” she says. “It’s made such an amaz­ing dif­fer­ence.”

Air­lite looks like nor­mal shav­ings, “but it’s fluffier and way more ab­sorbent with zero dust.” It also de­com­poses to black dirt in 60 days, Sw­erdlin re­ports of an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly side ben­e­fit. The Sw­erdlins changed all the stalls in Quileute’s barn to Air­lite to re­duce over­all dust. An open, airy shedrow barn de­sign, with par­ti­tions com­posed mostly of bars, en­ables great ven­ti­la­tion.

Hav­ing 24/7 ac­cess to vet­eri­nary ex­per­tise is handy for sure, but these sug­ges­tions al­low all to im­ple­ment sim­ple best prac­tices for happy, healthy horses day in and day out. As Burn­ley says, it all starts with the sim­plest and most af­ford­able en­deavor: get­ting to know horses well enough to cre­ate an in­di­vid­u­al­ized care rou­tine.

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