September & October 2016

I love autumn, although I know it is not everyone’s favourite season. The weather is great for riding, not too hot and not too cold, and the horses really appreciate the decrease in the number of flies. For those into competitions, everything is in full swing still and many championship events are in progress.

It is interesting to see that there an are increasing number of research projects showing that many horses in work and at competitions are lame. There was also some controversy when the judges at a well known dressage competition stopped a rider competing because the horse wasn’t sound. This decision was made in conjunction with a vet, so I am not sure why some people thought that the rider should have been allowed to proceed. Judges allow horses to proceed when there is any doubt (e.g. slight stiffness, possible bridle lameness etc.) so do the people challenging this really think that these people made the decision lightly?

Trained people can readily pick up unevenness in a horse’s movement. Unfortunately some riders don’t seem to be able to feel slight lamenesses (or maybe they are used to the horse going that way) and sometimes they will even overlook it deliberately to finish the competition, thinking that the horse will be alright. Of course, in many cases the horse may be alright – it may just be bit stiff, or have a slight knock from tripping in warm-up, or have just stepped on a stone. Or, it might  have long-term arthritis that has been missed or ignored. Unfortunately, many horses will hide pain and the problem might be more serious than the lameness looks. So, if someone says your horse looks uneven then it is a really good idea to find out why, and to do something about it. It is also a legal requirement under the Animal Welfare Act.

The horses are happily growing their winter coats – they look thick this year, so maybe it will be a cold one. On the yard we have been doing a pre-winter tidy up of the property, being busy painting gates and staining fences, as well as continuing the war on weeds. It is amazing how quickly lichen can eat paint and weeds can take over good pasture!

There has also been a bit of a challenge to stop one of the horses eating the new paddock gate, but three coats of fence stain plus netting over the main bar plus anti-chew paste seems to be doing the trick at last! I strongly recommend anyone doing gates and fences to use stain rather than paint, as it is so easy to re-do bits without having to sand between coats and having flakey bits appear. My best friends at this time of year are the water-blaster and the weed-strimmer.

Enjoy riding in the great autumn weather, and remember to look at the beauty of the autumn leaves.


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