Tuesdays with Tony
Let’s talk about what your horse does all day while you’re at work trying to earn money to pay for feed, hay, that new saddle Flicka needs because the old one just doesn’t fit right anymore and he simply can’t be asked to canter on the right lead with old one, and the myriad other things horses love to spend your money on. Here’s what they’re doing: looking for ways to hurt themselves. I know you’ve long suspected it; I’m here to tell you it’s true. That’s what they do all day. And this wise cat has some advice to thwart your horse’s thoughts of lacerations, colics, and general mayhem and chaos.
The good news is that most of this costs very little. It mostly costs your time and brain power, and since primates are known for their large brains, this should work out well.
Number one cause of all horse injuries: fences. Now some of this can’t be helped and is due to horses being horses and thinking very fast flight is suddenly necessary because a leaf fell. They should embrace their inner cat and think about the best way to attack that leaf, not blindly run away from it. Sometimes when they’re running away from imaginary scary things, they run into fences.
You can do some things to make sure this works out as well as possible. First, look at your fencing. If it’s barbed wire, I guarantee there will be a laceration in your future, and you should either replace your fencing now or start a savings account called Vet Bills (you should have that savings account anyway, but that’s another blog. No really it is, and you should check it out after you finish this one).
Your fence doesn’t have to be anything scary like barbed wire for your horse to find ways to injure themselves. Board fences look great and generally do a good job keeping horses in, but are prone to board breakages and nails backing out, leaving beautiful laceration opportunities. Walk those board fence lines periodically with an eye out for not just broken boards, but also backed out nails.
This brings us to wire fencing. This has some advantages, like your horse can’t itch their big old butt on it and break a board into a spear which they can then send through various parts of their body later. They can, however, stretch that fence. Same as board fencing, it should be walked periodically to check for stretched areas, areas where the wire may have developed hoof-sized holes, and backed-out fence staples.
Respect the Barrier
One way to minimize fence issues is to put hot wire on the fence in some way. This can be done as literal hot wire, or tape. Electricity is a good add to any fence. It causes your horse to have a little R E S P E C T for the fence. I don’t blame them. I once got zapped by a fence and it was a very unpleasant experience.
By using electricity to define your fence lines, you will help your horse make wise decisions when galloping towards the fence, when thinking about where to itch, and when contemplating the best location for that next eyelid laceration. Electricity is most definitely your friend.
Other Fun Injury Things
Horses don’t just confine their injuries to pastures. They also use their stalls! Take a walk around that stall periodically with an eye out for backed-out screws or nails, holes, water or feed bucket holders, or even water or feed buckets themselves. Once again, horses love to scratch on those buckets, causing them to bend and even break. You might have thought the bucket was okay, only to find Flicka squished it and caused the hanger to bend into the perfect eyelid laceration tool.
Another fun one is the actual walls of the stall. This is particularly true of wood walls. Leave it to a horse to roll, and kick a leg through that loose board, get stuck, and break their pelvis (actual emergency Springhill Equine has attended to). From stall mats, to bucket hangers, to fans, to rafters, check it all!
Don’t Forget the Horse Trailer
Horse trailers can be fun locations to get injured, too! Check dividers, floors, ceilings, and walls for anything sharp. In fact, check the floor a LOT. It’s prone to bad things happening. Remember, your horse is bored being driven down the road by you, the human, with nothing to do but look for an opportunity for injury. Spending ten minutes now may save a vet visit later!
Need help putting your horse vision goggles on? My Docs can definitely help here! They have seen a whole lot of ways horses LOVE to hurt themselves and can often spot new, fun things they’re going to try. Take a moment at your next routine visit to have them check out your farm with you. I know they much prefer looking for things during a scheduled visit then seeing you on an emergency!
Until next week,
P.S. The humans have a podcast episode called Expecting the Unexpected. They went into way more detail about all the ways horses can complicate your life. You can find it, and all their podcast episodes, over on the Podcast Page. It’s a great resource, if I do say so myself.
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 SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!