Halt Static Electricity Zaps

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I live in arid Nevada. Every summer I have terrible problems with static electricity! It makes my horse very unhappy and makes use of my vacuum tough. Please tell me products and measures to reduce this pesky problem.

Horse Journal Response:

Your problem comes in the reverse of northern seasons, where winter cold reduces humidity. At least you don't have to deal with ?blanket snap,? where pulling off a cooler or rug can send a horse flying suddenly backward. Your dilemma may be more a case of too much cleanliness, using products and methods that dry out your horse's skin and coat at the same time that they remove dirt and sweat.

Unfortunately, your vacuum is contributing to the problem. It pulls oils and moisture out of the horse's hide while it's also removing dust and dirt. In addition, since you're using the vacuum to loosen dirt, you may not be spending as much time rubbing with your curry to stimulate the horse's skin and coat and thus bring out those important oils. We've seen static-electricity problems being solved completely by giving up on the vacuum, at least during periods when the air is particularly dry.

If you can, cut down on the number of times you shampoo your horse unless your horse has deep-down sweat caked into his coat. Hose off dirt and sweat with plain water, using soap to spot wash stains but not over the whole body. We like good old Corona Shampoo(August 2009) because it cleans well without stripping the coat of oils. Follow a shampooing with a conditioner like EQyss Avocado Mist (December 2008)

Coat polishes such as Show Sheen (December 2008) can help reduce static. When possible, spray them on while the coat is still damp from a hosing. Keep a bottle of hand lotion or baby oil in your grooming kit and put this on your hands before you handle your horse.

Oil- based fly sprays are both more effective at reducing the nuisance of biting insects and to help your horse's coat retain moisture. Unfortunately, oil-based products can also be dust magnets. Ideally, any horse clothing you use should be a natural fiber, such as cotton. If you can, reduce the use of fly sheets that are polyester or nylon.

Choke Remedies

We recently acquired a horse for lessons who has choked three times in six months. He is currently on a complete senior feed, thoroughly soaked and fed three times a day; no hay and turn out with grass cut less than a quarter of an inch. We have tried putting large rocks in his feed trough, but he manages to push them out.

We're thinking of changing his feed trough to a longer and shallower one, or perhaps putting his feed into several buckets, or making him wear a muzzle.

He is a great lesson horse and is much loved in the barn, but we must find a way to stop him from choking. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Horse Journal Response:

Those are all good ideas, with the muzzle most likely to slow his eating, although it will add considerably to maintenance because of the need to clean it between meals. Another simple option is to add more water. Make his meals very soupy, as much liquid as he will tolerate, and make sure all pieces of the complete feed have broken down. Adding an ounce or two of psyllium husk fiber will provide a slippery consistency.