HANDS TIP ON
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
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.