HANDS TIP ON

EQUUS - - Eq Handson - Send your sug­ges­tions for in­ex­pen­sive horse-care sub­sti­tutes as well as hints for sav­ing ef­fort and time to Hands On, EQUUS, 656 Quince Or­chard Road, #600, Gaithers­burg, MD 20878; fax: 301-990-9015; email: EQLet­[email protected]­me­dia.com. Senders of pub­lished item

SUIT­ABLE FOR GROOM­ING

I wear a full-body rain suit—the type made for bike rid­ers—when I body clip my horse. It looks a bit funny, but the mil­lions of tiny clipped hairs slide right off the ma­te­rial, stay­ing out of my clothes and wash­ing ma­chine.— Sa­man­tha El­li­son, Grand Rapids, Michi­gan

SAFELY DECK THE HALLS

Dec­o­rat­ing the barn for the hol­i­days is fun, for sure. But be care­ful to avoid in­tro­duc­ing haz­ards in the process.

Make sure, for ex­am­ple, that live wreaths and gar­lands con­tain no toxic plants. Branches from yew, an ever­green or­na­men­tal shrub, are of­ten used in hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions. Yew, how­ever, is highly toxic---just a mouth­ful can kill a horse. If you don’t know ex­actly what a live wreath or gar­land is made of, don’t hang it. Don’t even dis­card it on your prop­erty. Give it to a non-eques­trian friend.

If you’ll be us­ing hol­i­day lights, make sure the bulbs and cords are in good shape; hang them well out of any horse’s reach and un­plug them at night. Also hang stock­ings out of reach. Not only will a cu­ri­ous horse de­stroy the dec­o­ra­tion, but any fab­ric or plas­tic he in­gests could lead to colic or choke . Fi­nally, a word about sleigh bells: Ac­cli­mate your horse to their sound slowly. As fes­tive as they may be, “jin­gling” bells can spook horses who’ve never heard them be­fore. 0

HIP-SAV­ING STRATE­GIES

Teach­ing your horse to walk calmly into his stall or through other door­ways isn’t just a mat­ter of en­forc­ing good man­ners, it will re­duce his risk of po­ten­tially se­ri­ous in­jury.

A horse who rushes through a door­way and bangs his hindquar­ters on the door, gate or wall can bruise the area or even break the bony process we call the hip­bone. These types of in­juries

can lead to short-term sore­ness or long-term lame­ness de­pend­ing on the force and an­gle of the col­li­sion. What’s more, if the horse brushes against a pro­trud­ing latch or other sharp fea­ture of the door, his skin can be lac­er­ated or deeply punc­tured.

Most of the time, how­ever, door-to-hip col­li­sions do noth­ing more than scrape a bit of hair off and cause some brief sore­ness. If your horse runs into a door­way, check the area for full-thick­ness skin wounds and ex­treme ten­der­ness, then trot him to look for signs of lame­ness. If you find any of these, con­sult with your ve­teri­nar­ian.

If your horse looks fine, check him again 12 and 24 hours later. If he has de­vel­oped any sore­ness or lame­ness by then, he may have in­jured him­self more than you first thought and a call to the your ve­teri­nar­ian is in or­der.

You can pre­vent most door­way in­juries by tak­ing a few pre­cau­tions. Start by reg­u­larly re­in­forc­ing good ground man­ners, in­sist­ing that your horse fol­low you calmly through door­ways with­out barg­ing ahead. Also, make sure that you open all door­ways fully when horses will be walked through. Fi­nally, en­sure that all latches are pulled back flush with the door­way when open. Ide­ally, the latches will be de­signed and in­stalled to never pro­trude be­yond the door it­self, but if they are not, you’ll want to be ex­tra cau­tious that they don’t pose a haz­ard.

Start by in­sist­ing that your horse fol­low you calmly through door­ways with­out barg­ing ahead.

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