Ask Horse Journal May 2012

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I bought a Quarter Horse who has a wonderful trot, and I think she'll transfer nicely to English, except for one thing: SHe's so heavy on the forehand, at times I'm afraid she'll stumble and fall! In fact, she has stumbled at the canter. She doesn't like any bit contact, either, but we're working on that. I use a plain egg-butt snaffle. How do I gradually get her back on the haunches where I want her'

Performance Editor John Strassburger responds: There is no quick-and-easy method. With consistent, correct work, though, your horse will start moving in a more balanced way.

First, though, your comment that she stumbles at the canter could be a concern, especially if it's happening in a groomed ring. Horses don't normally stumble on flat ground. Consult with your farrier to be sure she has a balanced trim. Maybe her toes are too long and heels too short. it's a common problem.

If balanced trimming doesn't eradicate her stumbling, get an exam by your veterinarian and/or equine chiropractor.

You said she ?doesn't like any bit contact,? and, again, that's not normal. Ask a vet to check her teeth, and examine her neck, back and pelvis for injury (perhaps an old one) or misalignment. Appropriate treatment could be the answer to both problems.? Many horses who seem to otherwise work willingly and adequately have simply learned to compensate for old injuries.

Then, tHere's no end to the exercises you can do to develop self-carriage?after all, that really is one of the goals of dressage. But some specific exercises are:

Ride up and down hills, both steep hills and long, gradual hills. Going up and down builds strength in the horse's hindquarters and back, while teaching them how to better control their bodies. And that should happen without a lot of help from you.

When you're riding, either in the ring or outside the ring, perform a lot of transitions. If you're in the ring and have dressage letters, do a transition at every letter or every other letter. Or on a circle, do a transition every half-circle or quarter-circle. Transitions build strength and balance, and they develop your riding and use of aids and your horse's reaction to them.

Use poles and cavaletti grids?and leave your horse alone. don't try to ?hold her up.? Let her trip and make mistakes. that's how she'll learn how to balance herself.

Quarter Horses are wonderful horses?I have a fabulous appendix Quarter Horse mare I'm competing at preliminary level in eventing, and I'm training two other nice Quarter Horse mares?but some Quarter Horse lines are built with their butts higher than their withers, so shifting their balance is a lifetime challenge. they're built downhill to do their original job of herding cattle, and sometimes tHere's simply a limit to how much you can change their way of going.

DEVIL?S CLAW DOSAGES

In the series on nutraceuticals (January and February), the sidebar said a minimum of 500 mg of devil?s claw was needed to have an effect. In the March 2011 article on anti-inflammatories, it said the minimum of 2500 mg. that's a big difference. Was it because the current article was on combination joint supplements'

My horse is on a half tablet of Previcox. I'm looking at the devil?s claw in his supplement?SmartFlex Senior (1750 mg)?and wondering if it's too high and will cause stomach problems.? This is all confusing.

Horse Journal Contributing Veterinary Editor Grant Miller DVM responds: You surely get the gold star for doing your homework and studying the HJ articles carefully!

When Dr. Eleanor Kellon wrote the anti-inflammatory article, she determined that 2,500 mg provided the best results clinically.

When we did our sidebar for the joint nutraceuticals series, we listed the recommended daily dose of devil?s claw at 500 mg per day. This recommendation was based on research that determined the minimum amount to show any effect at all in the horse.

In other words, below 500 mg, you're throwing your money away because we can't find any physiologic or clinical benefit to it.? Anything above 500 mg is a viable dose.

My opinion is that a 1,750 mg daily dose should work out fine for your horse, especially combined with other joint supplements and/or Previcox. SmartFlex Senior looks fine.? Just remember that devil?s claw can cause gastric ulcers, especially when given in combination with other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Previcox, so please keep an eye on your horse for signs of gastric ulcers, including a decreased appetite (especially grain), a crabby attitude, girthiness, poor performance and general signs of a horse not feeling well.

PASTURE VACUUMS

Should I get a pasture vacuum to clean up manure'

Horse Journal Contributing Writer Lee Foley responds: Unless tHere's a specific aspect you want, we're not convinced it's worth the effort. they're expensive, and it's yet another farm chore.

The biggest benefit, of course, is fly reduction. And we believe the more horses on the smaller number of acres, the more helpful the vacuum would be.

it's not going to be much help for parasite control, however. Once the manure hits the ground, the worm eggs are released. And it won?t immediately improve grazing, as the horses still smell it and avoid those specific areas for quite some time.

When it comes to vacuums, we'd invest in one for grooming first. A good horse vac pulls out the deep dirt and dead skin and is a much neater method of shedding. Our favorites are the portable Rapid Groom and the larger Electro Groom (both from www.electriccleaner.com, 800-456-9821). Both are easy to use, effective and sturdy.

MOXIDECTIN VS. FENBENDAZOLE DEWORMERS

I read that moxidectin (Quest) is as effective as five-day double-dose fenbendazole, but I'm told Quest doesn't kill the EL3 stage. Fenbendazole does. If that's the case, how is Quest just as effective' it's certainly much easier and less expensive to use.

Contributing Veterinary Editor Deb Eldredge DVM responds: This is one of those confusing dewormer issues. Moxidectin is considered to be effective (kill rate of 98%+) against adult small strongyles and luminal 4th stage larvae. it's not as effective against encysted 3rd stage larvae, with a 62 to 79% kill rate. The 5-day double-dose fenbendazole has about a 91% kill rate.? However, an advantage to moxidectin is that you don't get the severe tissue disruption/damage that you can get with fenbendazole.

So, could you simply stick to moxidectin' Yes, but with ever-rising parasite resistance to deworming drugs, the wisest thing to do is to utilize fecal egg counts and make your decision based on that. The optimal deworming drug choice may vary from farm to farm and even from horse to horse.