Letters: 09/01

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Leather Therapy And The EPA
We appreciate your thoughtful, balanced coverage of leather-care products (July 2001).

One thing that didn’t come out in the article, however — and one that we are especially proud of — is that the ingredients that inhibit mold and mildew in Leather Therapy Conditioner and Restorer have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, we were the first in the horse industry to apply for EPA-approval and that agency considers us a stand-alone product, which means there is no other product registered in our category. According to the EPA, any product that claims to inhibit, kill, prevent, or help to eliminate mold and mildew must be registered with them, otherwise, the manufacturer may not make or advertise such a claim. Making claims not supported by fact just to generate sales lowers our industry standards.??

I also want to re-emphasize your testers’ finding about compatibility in leather-care products. Indeed, our Leather Therapy products are formulated to work synergistically with one another. Many questions we get about leather care come from people disappointed because they used incompatible products. For example, they get a whitish film after using a water-based cleaner on leather previously treated with a grease-based conditioner. As the water lifts the grease out of the leather pores, the results aren’t what they expected. Using cleaners and conditioners designed to be compatible eliminates consumer disappointment and increases the benefit to their leather.

-Anna Carner Blangiforti
President, Leather Therapy

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Cribbing Confusion
I must disagree with your cribbing information (July 2001). I attended a seminar by a prominent expert on equine behavioral problems who suggests making a “cribbing bar” out of something soft that won’t wear the horse’s teeth down and to let them crib. She said there could be tooth wearing from cribbing but didn’t mention the neck-muscle hypertrophy you mentioned.

The only thing she recommended against was letting them crib in front of young horses that might have inherited a genetic predisposition to cribbing.??Boredom ignites the trigger that awakens the horse’s gene, but sweet feed is also a culprit and should be withheld in any foals that exhibit early cribbing. She called it an obsessive/compulsive behavior that is worsened by collars and other implements of cessation that are out there.??Above all, she stated there were no tests done on endorphin levels that confirm horses derived a “high” from the process.??

-Paula Vervaet
New York

While research findings often disagree, a German study {Equine Vet J Suppl 1998 Nov; (27): 21-7} confirms an increase in endorphin levels when horses crib done at Veterinary Clinic Wahlstedt. As for sweet feed as a culprit, we are unaware of any studies proving this. However, cribbing is indeed a learned behavior and foals do learn it from their dams.

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Milk of Magnesia Works, Too
I have two picky??horses that need to receive bute on a regular basis. While I have tried some of the additives you suggested (July 2001), I have found some things that work better.?? Both of my horses like baby-food carrots or peppermint-flavored milk of magnesia better than your suggestions.

I have also found that if I grind up the bute, mix it with the carrots or milk of magnesia, and just dump it on top of their grain, they tend to eat it better than if I mix it all through the grain.??It also works well to just mix the bute with the carrots or milk of magnesia, put it in a clean, old dewormer syringe and squirt it in their mouths.?? Because they seem to like the taste, they don’t try to spit it out.??In fact, my pony likes the peppermint taste so well that I can just mix it with the bute, give it to him in a bowl, and he’ll slurp it up.??My veterinarian said the small amount of laxative will not hurt them. By the way, the generic brand of peppermint milk of magnesia is much cheaper than the additives you have listed.?? For the price, I think it’s worth a try.

-Diane Kowallek
Ohio

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Arabs Aren’t Hard Keepers
I wish to respond to a statement made in the Taste Tempters (July 2001). You state,?????? “Hard keepers are a real headache.?? If your horse is one of the 'hotter’ breeds, such as a Thoroughbred or Arabian, you may have to accept the fact that you may never be able to get him to look fleshy.”

I have indeed known Thoroughbreds that were extremely difficult to maintain in good flesh; however, my experience with Arabians has been the exact opposite.?? I have been involved with the Arab breed since the late 1960s, as a trainer, owner and editor of the quarterly newsletter for the Arabian Sport Horse Association, Inc. (ASHAI) for more than a decade.?? My experience is that Arabians are far more likely to stay fat on two flakes of hay a day than otherwise.?? I know breeders who don’t even feed grain whose horses could best be described as fat.??I just want to set the record straight, as there are many misconceptions about the Arab breed that have little, if any, foundation in fact.??

-Kat Walden
California

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Trailer Concerns
I have hauled horses all my life in both straight- and slant-load trailers and have a comment on your slant-load article (May 2001) that you didn’t address. With a straight-load trailer, the horses must back out, whether it is step-up or a ramp. In a slant-load, unless there is a fixed rear tack room, you can turn the horses around in the trailer and lead them out.

-Marilyn Carville
California

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Bosal Fit
Shame on your writer of the bosal article (July 2001) for not doing his or her homework.?? The photos of the adjustment of the bosal is a show-ring “fad” that would have classical/true hackamore reinsmen turning in their graves.?? Somewhere along the line, some show rider decided they didn’t want the hassle of the fiador and just eliminated it from the head-stall rigging.?? In doing so they completely altered the intent and action of the bosal (and a hundred years of classical horsemanship).??

With a fiador fitted and correctly adjusted, the weighted bosal would not touch the horse’s skull at any point when the horse flexed correctly at the poll and allowed his nose to??drop and his face to come on the vertical line. Thus, the bosal, correctly fitted with a fiador, rewarded the horse for correct head placement by release of all pressure.?? The new fad, which eliminates the fiador, never gives the horse a place to completely “escape to freedom.”????

-Donna Snyder-Smith
Internet

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Bitting The Ex-Racehorse
I’ve hunted off-the-track Thoroughbreds almost exclusively. Foxhunting with its large numbers of horses and general commotion is exciting to any horse, much less an ex-racehorse. Still, with proper training, they are best for the discipline.

One common problem not mentioned in your July 2001 bitting article is the horse that overflexes, often behind the poll and is therefore behind the bit. Consider placing the snaffle, preferably wide and heavy, lower in the mouth. This encourages the horse to reach for the bit. This, along with teaching him to take the trot in both in upward and downward transitions from a verbal command, is a great help.

-Kay B. Blassic, MFH
Virginia

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Racehorse Personalities
I was shocked by “Bitting the Ex-Racehorse” (July 2001), which seems to base its view of ex-racers on nasty stereotypes.?? An article like this could certainly damage the ex-racer’s prospects for retraining, and cause more Thoroughbreds to end up on European dinnerplates.

It is simply not true that “aggression is both bred and trained into a racehorse.” Speed, athleticism, heart, and soundness are all bre d for. Kindness and good sense are trained into every serious racehorse as much as possible.?? What idiot would breed or train a horse for aggression'??

An ex-racehorse is the best equine bargain available in America. The buyer can pretty much count on a horse with a work ethic, extensive experience with handlers who know how to train for good ground manners, resistance to spooking, careful medical attention, good lifelong care to feet and teeth, and a nice mind.?? Bitting is no more of a challenge than bitting any horse green to his new line of work.?? And anyone getting a new horse, whether off the track or from any other place, needs to either be or consult an experienced trainer.

-Eve Browning Cole
Minnesota