Nov 20, 2017 | Buying and Selling
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas horse shopping season. Three words: DON’T DO IT! Read on for wise words of wisdom from this cat before you buy a horse at Christmas time.
Know the cost
Just like there are no free lunches, there are definitely no free horses. The purchase price is a very, very small part of the cost of horse ownership. Horses require a place to live. Board for a horse can range from $250 to, well let’s be honest, the sky is really the limit here, but let’s pick $800 as our high number. The low number likely doesn’t include grain or hay, so add another $50-$80 per week for grain and hay. This is like your monthly horse mortgage payment. It gives them a place to live, but not much more. Plan on adding on the farrier every 4-6 weeks, and routine veterinary care (our Wellness Plans make this part easy). If you’re as smart as a cat you’ll also add on either an insurance payment or a payment to an emergency fund. Should I mention tack? Fly masks? Sheets and blankets? Water buckets? Go wander around the Tack Shack and make a shopping list, and get an idea of what you’re looking at there.
Put in the time
Horses require a lot of money and a lot of time. If you want to get good at horses, plan on spending a minimum of 15-20 hours per week doing horse stuff. I can hear it now, “It would be heaven to spend 20 hours every week riding!” Listen to the cat: I didn’t say riding. I said doing horse stuff. They require brushing, cleaning up after, handling on the ground, and all kinds of not-riding type of time. In fact, the more time you spend with them not riding, the better your riding time will be. Speaking of riding time, plan to spend some money on lessons. Based on my observations of humans, you guys don’t come equipped with horse sense. You’re going to need to learn that from a trainer, and lessons cost money.
We’ll sell him and make money
There are definitely people who make lots of money in the horse world. Here’s how that works:
- They started with a large fortune and now have a small one, thanks to horses.
- They have the knowledge to buy young, untrained horses and put their time and training into them to make them worth more.
- They have a leprechaun and a four leaf clover hidden somewhere giving them unprecedented luck. For every one that makes money, there are a hundred that lose money.
But I really want a horse
If you have read this and still really want a horse, keep reading. Some human once said, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a human.” It’s true. I watch it happen at Springhill Equine every day. They calm you crazy humans. They teach you patience, and confidence, and empathy, and all kinds of wonderful things. So here’s a few steps you can take to be sure you really, really want a horse:
- Take lessons. If you can commit to once-weekly lessons, and are still hungry for more after six months, you might be ready for a horse.
- Volunteer somewhere taking care of horses. In our area we have HOPE, The Retirement Home for Horses, and HPAF who will happily let you come groom horses and get a feel for being around them.
- Lease a horse. This is a short term commitment to horse ownership. You get to have a horse for a while to try it out.
Before you buy
If after all this you are ready to buy a horse, don’t skip my final, most important piece of advice: Never, never, never, ever buy a horse without a pre-purchase exam from one of my veterinarians. My Docs will go over your potential horse with a fine tooth comb to be sure there are no health complications you may not have noticed. These can range from eye sight issues, to heart problems, to subtle lamenesses. Pre-purchase exams can save you a lot of headaches!
Every horse-crazy kid has wanted a pony for Christmas. I’m not saying don’t buy a horse. Okay, I am, but if you are going to get a pony, at least be smart about it! That’s the wisdom of Tony for this week. Now go enjoy a long Thanksgiving weekend with your horses!
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Office Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!
Mar 15, 2017 | Buying and Selling, Competition Horses, Craigslist, Disaster Preparedness, Events, Horse Trailer, Q & A, Safety, Trading, trailering
Ever have problems loading your horse on the trailer? Tony reveals all the tricks of the trade!
So, I have a complaint. On Saturday morning my minions came to feed me as usual. But then, as they all headed off eagerly to Canterbury Showplace to set up for my Trailering Seminar, they slammed the door in my face! That’s right, they left me here at the clinic with stinky Teanie! Can you believe it? I do all the work designing and promoting the event, then they leave me behind and take all the credit. Well, in case you too got locked behind your kitty door, here is a recap of what you missed.
How NOT to load a horse
Hanging out and observing all the goings on at the clinic, I have seen many methods of loading a horse on a trailer that are fantastically ineffective. If you stand in front of your horse pulling on the leadrope, making lots of noise, rushing, and trying to force your horse into a dark scary hole, I guarantee you it is not going to work. Other poor choices I have seen include shaking a bucket of grain in the trailer while your horse stands outside terrified of the noisy echo coming from inside the hole where he was already convinced monsters were lurking. Also, using short crops on the shoulder or lip chains on the leadrope, both of which tend to drive horses backwards rather than forwards. Another good way to set yourself up for failure is to try to load a horse that does not yet know how to lead, and to move forward when you ask.
If you’re not bored, you’re doing it wrong
Now I am going to share with you and only you, my adoring fans, the great, big, awesome, mind-blowing, earth-shattering, best-kept-secret-in-the-world for loading a horse on the trailer: patience. If you put a very patient person at the horse’s head (like Nancy, who perfectly demonstrated this at my seminar), chances are very good your horse will get on the trailer. Now first, Nancy will have to make sure your horse knows to move forward when asked. Then, your horse will have to get comfortable being close to the trailer, to convince himself that the horse-eating monsters that live inside have left for the day. Finally, Nancy will ask your horse to step into the trailer, immediately rewarding any motion or even a hint of moving in the right direction. For this part, it is helpful to have your second-most-patient friend behind the horse with a longe whip to gently encourage that forward motion, and to immediately release pressure when the forward motion is achieved.
How to haul a horse trailer
Well, I guess I would know what to tell you here if they had invited me to my own event! Apparently Justin did a killer job giving demonstrations, explanations, and hands-on training to the attendees. He taught them how to do this fancy move called an L-turn for backing your trailer into a tight spot. He warned against passenger-side backing, and advised using a ground person to watch your blind spots whenever possible. The biggest take home message that was passed along to me was safety first when hauling: always think about what you are going to do before you do it. Don’t pull into that gas station without thinking about your exit strategy. Don’t pull forward into a narrow spot if you are not comfortable turning your trailer around. Don’t hesitate to get out and walk around the back of the trailer instead of just backing up until you hear a crunch!
I hope everyone other than me was able to make it to this amazing event. But if you missed it, save the date for my next seminar, Wednesday April 19th on Geriatrics! Don’t worry, I won’t let them keep me away next time.
Mar 7, 2017 | Ailments, Breeding, Buying and Selling, Competition Horses, Craigslist, Dr. Google, Foals, Infections, Q & A, Safety
Ah, your mare! You look wistfully back on your history with her. You and your mare have accomplished a lot. She’s made your dreams come true; she’s been there as your partner, and companion through thick and thin. You’re ready for her to carry on her legacy with a foal. You’ve poured through the magazines, you’ve researched performance records, and you’re a pedigree expert. Your perfect stallion has been found and is even 5 panel testing negative! Oh goody!
What the heck is 5 panel testing? Is it a good thing when a stallion is negative? What’s a positive mean? Never fear, your intrepid feline source of information is here.
Why do I care about 5 panel testing?
Long ago, in a land far, far away horses were bred for speed, muscle, good looks, color. You name it, humans have bred for it. Along the way some other stuff was selected for too, on accident. Beginning about 30 years ago, scientists found a way to test genes to see if some of the not so desirable stuff was present in the DNA of a horse.
In 2015, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) took the important step of saying “Hey, we can test for a bunch of bad stuff. Let’s make sure we breed responsibly.” This means that ALL stallions that file a stallion report now have these results available to you the mare owner. Many other breeds have their own genetic diseases that are routinely tested for. Not sure about your breed of choice? Ask the registration association for that breed or check with my minions. My minions work hard to stay up-to-date on this ever changing world.
What does 5 panel testing test for?
The 5 Panel Test covers, shockingly, 5 major genetic disorders common in Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Paints: Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP), Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy type 1 (PSSM 1), Malignant Hyperthermia (MH), Hereditary Epidermal Regional Dermal Asthenia (HERDA), and Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency (GBED).
These diseases are all caused by one teeny, tiny mutation which makes them easy to test for, and they all cause really bad diseases. I put a short description about all of them at the bottom of this blog in case you want to read more about them.
Should I test my mare?
You really should. That’s the short answer. Here’s the long one. You can never have too much information when it comes to breeding. Additionally, HYPP, PSSM, and MH could cause health problems for your mare during pregnancy so knowing if she’s got them can be very helpful to your wonderful veterinarians.
You really, really should do the 5 panel testing if your stallion choice is positive for any of them. If you have found that perfect hunk of a guy for your mare, but he’s positive for one of these diseases, you really need to know if your mare is positive too. If she is, you are definitely going to have to go back to the pretty pictures and find her a different guy.
I’m pretty sure I can now pass a test on this 5 panel testing! Want more information? Call, text, or e-mail my humans. They love talking about mares, and babies, and stallions, okay, pretty much anything horse. Until next week, may your litter box be clean and your food bowl full.
HYPP stands for Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis. This disease affects the electrical impulses within the body that control muscle contraction. The defective gene results in clinical signs of muscle tremors and fasciculations. In some severe cases, horses may be unable to stand, or even unable to breathe. Horses can show symptoms with only one copy of the defective gene, but symptoms are often more severe if they have two copies of the mutation. This disease affects mostly halter horses, and can be traced back to the prolific stallion ‘Impressive’. Since Impressive lines were also used in Paint and Appaloosa halter breeding programs, HYPP is found in those breeds as well. AQHA does not allow registration of foals that test positive for two copies of the defective gene (H/H), but will allow registration of foals that are H/N: one defective and one normal gene.
PSSM stands for Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy. This disease causes changes in the way sugars are stored and used by the muscles. It causes frequent episodes of ‘tying up’ if not properly controlled by a special diet and regular low intensity exercise. There are two types of PSSM. Type 1 is caused by a genetically identified mutation, which is testable. Type 2 is suspected to be genetic, but that mutation has not yet been identified by researchers. Most Quarter Horses with PSSM have type 1. Horses will show symptoms of PSSM type 1 with one or two copies of the mutation. Like HYPP, PSSM type 1 is more common in halter QHs than in other lines. Some QHs have been shown to have mutations for both HYPP and PSSM.
HERDA stands for Hereditary Epidermal Regional Dermal Asthenia. Horses with HERDA have defective collagen, an important protein that is part of skin, cartilage, muscles, and tendons. The major clinical sign is skin that is easily injured, torn, or even sloughed off. The skin is also very slow to heal. There is no treatment for the condition, and horses that have it are often euthanized. Horses will only show symptoms if they have two copies of the mutation for HERDA. Horses with only one copy of the mutation are clinically normal. These animals are called ‘carriers’. They can pass copies of the mutation to their foals, and if one carrier is bred to another carrier, the foal might inherit the mutation from both parents and be symptomatic. HERDA is limited mostly to horses with reining and cutting horse bloodlines.
GBED stands for Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency. Like PSSM, this disease also affects how sugars are stored, but in a different and more severe way. It results in abortions, stillborn foals, and foals that are alive but weak at birth and die or are euthanized soon after. Like with HERDA, horses may be carriers for GBED – if a horse has only one copy of the mutation it will be clinically normal. Paints and Appaloosas can also carry the GBED mutation.
MH stands for Malignant Hyperthermia. This disease changes the way muscle cells handle calcium, and thus the metabolism of the cell. Horses with MH will appear normal most of the time, but have specific occasions when they show symptoms. During an attack, horses will have a very high fever, profuse sweating, high and irregular heart rate, high blood pressure, and rigid muscles. Attacks are triggered by certain anesthetic agents or stress, and are sometimes fatal. MH is believed to be less common than either HYPP or PSSM, but the percentage of affected horses is not yet known. Several breeds including Quarter Horses and Paints can be affected. Horses may be positive for both PSSM and MH together, and these animals appear to suffer from more severe episodes of tying up than horses that have PSSM alone.
Feb 28, 2017 | Buying and Selling, Craigslist, Q & A, Re-homing, Retired, Trading, Weight loss/gain
Nobody ever sells their best horse. At least, not that I’ve seen during my 9 lives supervising an equine vet clinic. Typically, the docs are asked to help find homes for the 20+ year old retiree whose pasture-mate just had to be put down, the 13 year old lawn ornament that the kids grew out of, or the 3 year old un-broke colt who has barely been handled. Nobody is selling their 8 year old Grand Prix jumper….or at least they aren’t asking my advice about it!
Why are horses tough to sell?
The problem is, horses are working animals. Typically, it’s not good enough for them to just sit around and look adorable (like me). There is still a demand (and a price) for horses that are willing, able, and experienced doing a job. The docs frequently encounter clients looking for a quiet trail horse for their husband, a dead-broke pony for their 3 year old daughter, or a young, trained, athletic horse that they can put some finishing touches on and then re-sell for a profit.
Consider other solutions
In case you didn’t know, we at Springhill always know a long list of horses in search of homes. Would you consider finding a new pasture-mate for your old retiree? Perhaps you could lease the pony that your kids grew out of to another child in need of a mount? As for the un-broke 3 year old: 30 days of training might be a wise investment in terms of getting him off the market (and off your feed tab)!
How Springhill can help
Lucky for you humans, I happen to have created an excellent networking resource for our clients who are looking to buy, sell, lease, trade, donate, rescue, or otherwise exchange horses! It’s called Springhill Equine’s Client Corner, and it’s super easy to join! Simply log into your Facebook account, search “Springhill Equine’s Client Corner” and request to join the group. Once you are approved as a member, you will have access to a secret group made up of only Springhill’s finest. What better way to start re-homing your horse? You’re welcome!