Things This Cat Wants You To Know

Things This Cat Wants You To Know

Tuesdays with Tony

As the resident King of The Countertop at Springhill Equine, I listen to a whole lot of conversations. Some are unique, but there are some very, very frequent repeats. As a cat who is constantly trying to make the world a better place for horses… Wait, that’s not true at all. I write this blog for the fame, fortune, and adulation of my fans, not for the horses. I am a cat, after all.

The real reason for me to go over these frequent topics is so my Docs have more time to scratch all my favorite spots in the proper way, as I have trained them. So, strap in and let’s visit some things you should know.


Stop walking them. For the love of all that is cat, please, please, please stop walking colics. It only exhausts you and the horse and doesn’t help the colic at all.

While we’re on the topic of colics, let’s talk about causes. The #1 cause of colic is not enough water in the system. Now I know there can be a whole lot of reasons for this, but taking the time to work on a plan for water consumption for your horse can prevent a lot of unwanted visits with my Docs. We all know you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. Using strategies like added salt in the grain, or, even better, adding lots of water to the grain, can dramatically increase water consumption without your horse even realizing it! Making sure your horse has access to and is drinking water when they’re working hard, or when it’s really hot out helps reduce impactions, too. When it’s cold out, again adding salt or water to the food puts water where it’s needed most. 

The #2 cause of colic in this area of Florida (and now’s the season) is the sudden appearance of coastal hay in front of your horse. Putting out a round bale of hay and turning your horse loose on it is like sending me to the all-you-can-eat Friskies buffett. It’s not going to end well for anyone! Coastal hay is a good roughage option as long as it’s managed well. Start with small amounts of hay, and gradually increase over 10-14 days until your horse is leaving some hay. Then you can put a round bale out. Along with that coastal hay, feed at least ½ flake of alfalfa or peanut hay daily. It helps keep the system moving smoothly. It also drives thirst, which makes them drink, and, well, we’ve gone full circle.

Horse Trailers

You should have one, or have very, very rapid access to one. Oh, and your horse should know how to load. Just this morning Dr. Lacher was speaking with someone with a horse emergency too far away for us to drive to. This area doesn’t have any veterinarians. This owner doesn’t have a horse trailer. I wish I could say this wasn’t a common scenario, but it’s nearly daily here. There are a myriad of reasons why your horse may need to trailer somewhere. From bad lacerations, to colics, to hurricane evacuation. Having a trailer, or a solid plan with your neighbor, is really, really important. 

Now that you know why you should have a trailer, make sure your horse loads in that trailer. This takes practice. Often it takes two people to get the process going the right way. Even more often it takes a professional to help you teach your horse to load. And despite your desire to yell, scream, and swear at your horse due to the insane stress levels you are experiencing due to their extreme commitment to not loading on the trailer, calmness is the answer. You can trust me on this. I specialize in naps. I know calm. 

Having a Plan

I’ve got two scenarios here. 

Scenario #1: Disaster Plan. You need one. You need one in general, but you really, really need one if you have animals. Horses drink a lot of water, and eat a lot of food. When the power goes out, water gets tricky if you’re on a well. If there’s a significant disaster, like Hurricane Ian, it can take a bit to get supply chains of feed and hay running back into an area. Think about what disasters are likely to hit your area, and make a plan.

Scenario #2: You die. I know, I know, no one likes to think about this part, but if you’ve got animals, you need to. Cats and dogs are hard enough to find good homes for, let alone horses. Take the time to do some estate planning so your family (who may not even be horse people) know what to do with them. Set aside some money in that estate plan to help with this, or to help your family find the right person to re-home them. There are so many animals who find themselves in a bad situation because their owners suddenly passed away. This is easily avoided with a modicum of effort on your part, and now that I’ve cat-splained it to you, you have no excuses. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Your Horse’s Diet

A much lighter topic than the previous one. Your horse’s diet should start with roughage, meaning pasture or hay. Concentrates should be an add-on from there. Those concentrates will balance all of the shortfalls of the roughage. You do NOT need supplements. I feel like you humans think supplements = love. Not true. Time spent with you grazing, or getting favorite itchy spots scratched, or a nice trail ride, these things are love. Not supplements. And when it comes to concentrates, the least expensive bag of feed is NEVER the cheapest way to feed your horse. 

Let me elaborate. A bag of ration balancer, which is what 90% of horses should be eating, is fed at 1 pound per day. It’s all nutrition, low on calories, and while the 40# bag might be $30, you only feed 1 pound per day. Sweet feed, which is a terrible plan for horses, needs to be fed at 10-15 pounds per day to meet the basic nutritional needs of the horse. It might only be $15 a bag, but you’re either feeding 1 bag every three days or you’re short-changing your horse on nutrition, which you’re then trying to make up for by feeding a bunch of supplements. 

So: good nutrition/ration balancer at less than $1 a day, or junk food and supplements for $5 – $10 a day. Make sense now? 

I hope this weekly drop of insane cat wisdom helps you make good horse decisions. Need help with colic prevention, disaster planning, trailer loading, or good nutrition? Give my Docs a call. They may not be able to estate plan with you, but they generally know someone who can help. And make sure you take a minute to scratch my back the next time you’re at the Clinic.

Until next week,


P.S. If you really want to download a ton of high-quality horse knowledge into your brain, start listening to the podcast my minions produce while you’re driving to the feed store to get that ration balancer. It’s called Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth and you can listen to it right from your phone. You can find it over on the Podcast Page of my website, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. I promise it will make you a better horse owner. Now, before you go down that rabbit hole, if you would just scroll down to the purple box and subscribe, I’ll email you my blog every Monday. That’s right, early access. Just for you. Enjoy the podcast.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

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More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband
Trailer Shopping

Trailer Shopping

Tuesdays with Tony

You may have noticed Dr. Vurgason and her horse Smokey galavanting around town in their new horse trailer. Now who do you think Dr. V asked for advice about which horse trailer to get? That’s right- the one and only Tony! After all, I spend most of my day every day watching various makes and models of horse trailer pull around this office building. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly! As a result, I consider myself quite the expert.

As a vet clinic cat, you shouldn’t be surprised that the first thing I’m going to tell you to consider in a horse trailer is safety. Now I’m all for buying a used trailer—that’s definitely how you’re going to find the best deal—however, you do need to make sure it’s safe. Look at and ask about the floors. Pull up any mats and check the condition of the boards or metal underneath. You also want to check out the tires and see if they are ready to be replaced. If your tire were to go flat during a haul, it could cause a serious accident. In addition, be sure to look and feel inside every square inch of that trailer for sharp things—because we all know how good horses are at seeking those out!

I would strongly recommend having a used trailer professionally inspected before purchase. Heck even if you’re not buying a new trailer it’s not a bad idea to get your Old Faithful checked out about once a year. After all, you’re going to be hauling a live animal in that thing, not just a sofa or something! The pros will make sure all your welds are strong, your hinges aren’t too rusty, and your floors are in good condition. One more word on safety, then I’ll get off my cat box: you should never have any loose items in the trailer when you are hauling a horse. So if you are planning on hauling anything in addition to your horse (hay bales, tack trunks, jump poles, barrels, buckets, etc.) consider a trailer with a separate tack room or floor-to-ceiling dividers between stalls.

The next most important thing for us Floridians to consider in a horse trailer is air flow. There are several different options horse trailer manufacturers use to achieve some air movement inside those hot metal boxes. These range from sliding windows, to open slats (especially in stock trailers), to drop-down windows. The air flow inside a trailer can be further supplemented by front or ceiling air vents, built-in fans, or even air conditioning! Now even the coolest, most open stock trailer is going to get pretty toasty if you pack enough horses in there. So, remember to consider your packing density and the climate when selecting a trailer.

Now as long as the trailer is safe and cool enough that your horse isn’t going to overheat, the rest just comes down to personal preference—of both you and your horse. I’ll tell you from my observations at the clinic, horses are a bit claustrophobic; they don’t like walking into small, narrow, dark spaces. So if you have a young horse or one who might not be the best at loading, you may want a trailer that opens completely in the back, and is very bright and inviting. There is much debate on whether horses prefer to load on a ramp or a step-up; my cat conclusion is that horses like what they are used to. With the right combination of patience, treats, and training, any horse will load on any trailer.

There are a couple more items to consider when selecting your dream trailer. Perhaps most importantly, how much can your vehicle tow? Remember that you need to add the weights of each horse plus the weight of the trailer, and that weight should be well below the maximum towing capacity for your vehicle. Almost all new trailers are aluminum, which is much lighter than the older models. However, some people report the aluminum trailers are less robust and less sturdy than their older counterparts.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

In general with horse trailers, the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is true. If one brand is less expensive than another, it is probably more cheaply made, and thus may not hold up as well or last as long as a more expensive trailer of a more reputable brand. Also keep in mind if you are ever planning on selling your trailer that the more expensive big-name brand trailers tend to hold their value better.

Hopefully I’ve given you some things to consider before your next major trailer purchase. Now all you need is another horse to haul in it, right?

Don’t forget to come out to my annual Piggy Ice Cream Social this Saturday from 10:00-noon. Whether you own a pet pig or not, believe me you don’t want to miss this entertaining event!

Until next week,


Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

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Trailer Safety – Help Your Horse Arrive Alive

Trailer Safety – Help Your Horse Arrive Alive

Tuesdays with Tony

Pumpkin Spice is back, therefore Fall is coming someday, right? I know, this is Florida. Fall will be here briefly in late October, and maybe some of November, with bits of the FaWinSpri season continuing through until March. FaWinSpri is a unique Florida season. It’s the time of year when it could be Fall, Winter, or Winter, Spring at any moment over a 24 hour period. Once April comes, you have to add in Summer since that can start happening too. Why my musings on seasons? Well, around September, horse people in Florida start their delusions of cooler weather is coming, I better start getting back in shape. This week we’re going to talk about something else that should be ready for cooler riding weather: the horse trailer.


The Horse Trailer Floor


Everyone knows the floor should be checked, but how many of you actually do it? Take out all the mats and do a thorough inspection. If you have a wood floor, lightly tap all over the floor with a hammer to be sure there are no hidden spots of rot. For aluminum floors, check very closely for pitting. Take this opportunity to wash the floor thoroughly and let it dry completely before replacing the mats. Want to really, really help your floor? Clean your trailer after every use. All that manure and urine produces compounds which do serious harm to any kind of trailer floor.

This horse went through the floor of a trailer. Yeah, it can really happen.

Surgery on Coby, the horse who fell through a trailer floor


The Tires


Check the condition and air pressure of your tires. A visual inspection to look for dry rot is great, but a knock with a crowbar will give you a better idea about your tire’s health. Also, splurge $1.99 for an air pressure gauge, and be sure you get one that goes all the way to 100 psi. Trailer tires often require higher pressure than regular car tires. Don’t forget to check both of your spare tires! Want to make those tires last longer? Park on a concrete pad and cover them so they stay out of the sun. While you’re checking air pressure and condition, check your lug nuts. Make sure they are all tight. 

Speaking of lug nuts, be prepared to undo them as well if you have a flat tire. Pro Tip: Look for a piece of pipe that will fit over your lug wrench, and keep it in the tack room. This will help you get extra leverage when you’re trying to loosen those pesky nuts, while sitting on the side of the road, while stressing about your horse, and the traffic is whizzing by you. Oh those ramp things: trailer aid tire ramps. Ahhmazing. Get one now. Here’s another Pro Tip: tires that explode on the highway are usually under-inflated. Tire pressure is important.

horse trailer safety


Lights, camera, action


This one is going to take two people. Check your lights. Make sure both turn signals, your 4-way flashers, and your brake lights work. You’ve put your most valuable possession (besides your cat) in the trailer, now make sure everyone can tell you’re stopping so you don’t get rear-ended. If your lights don’t work, get them fixed! Keep spare light bulbs with you at all times. This is the easiest fix in the world, and it’s far cheaper than a new horse and a new trailer. Asking those around to guess which way you’re going, or if you’re stopping, doesn’t work any better with a truck and trailer than it does in a crowded warm up arena.  




Take the time to go over your hitch on your towing vehicle. If you have a gooseneck, get under the truck and do a visual inspection of the hitch. If you have a bumper pull, you get to do a visual inspection of the hitch, too. You also need to check the ball where it attaches to the hitch. The nut on the bottom can loosen over time. Give it a good check with a wrench to be sure it’s seated tightly.


Details, Details, Details


Keeping the little things taken care of on your trailer will prevent them from becoming big things. That door latch that’s not working quite right will become a liability when the door suddenly won’t close as you’re trying to pack up to head home at 9 pm. It’s also easy to let the little things pile up. Then you take the trailer in for repairs and get hit with a huge bill all at once. Doing repairs as needed will prevent that huge bill, especially leaks! Even if everything is great on your trailer, take it to a trusted repair shop every few years for a once-over. They can spot things you may not even realize were a problem!

Good riding weather will come. Get your trailer ready so you can take advantage of every precious moment it!

Now be a well-trained human: scroll down and subscribe to this blog. You’ll get it delivered to your inbox every week. That’s right, a guaranteed weekly dose of Tony. You can’t go wrong there.

Want even more good stuff? Subscribe to the podcast that the humans do. Look for Straight From the Horse Doctor’s Mouth wherever you listen to podcasts.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

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Tuesdays with Tony – Trailering Seminar

Tuesdays with Tony – Trailering Seminar

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.