Understand Your Equine Insurance Policy
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.