Letters: 09/99

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Gateway Responds
I just received the July 1999 Horse Journal and read with interest your review of hoof supplements. After reading it, I have a few concerns I hope you can help me with.

I feel our Su-Per Farrier’s Supplement has been slighted. You specifically state in the evaluation of products that our product has all the benefits of Farrier’s Formula and also goes the extra mile by including lysine and higher biotin levels, as well as using chelated forms of trace minerals. Our product also contains probiotics, which is listed as a strength on other products but not mentioned for ours. Plus, our price per serving is much less (only 69??).

It seems a bit of a reach to state that the weakness of the product is that it does not contain manganese, even though manganese is not central to hoof health. We realize manganese is important for joint health, but this is not intended as a joint-health product.

I’m sure some of these items were just an oversight because of the large amount of information analyzed to compare hoof supplements. My point is not to complain or belittle the excellent work you do to improve consumer knowledge, and my own, about the products for the horse. I simply felt that in an article with this much detail, the reader should be given all the information necessary to make a proper product choice.

Thank you for considering our products for review.

-Bradley J. Simon
General Manager
Gateway Products

Your product was not rated “behind” Farrier’s Formula. We did indicate yours “goes the extra mile” in our comments. In fact, your product was the second choice overall, and the product evaluation states the only weakness it had compared to the winner was the absence of manganese. We also realize the price differential in favor of your product. While we didn’t “do the math” for the readers in this article, prices were given.

As for not mentioning probiotics, it was indeed an oversight. We focused first on hoof-specific ingredients, then on how well the supplement could be fit into an existing diet-and-supplement plan. Some less critical elements of products were also edited out for space.

Finally, we agree manganese is not a critical element with specific regard to hoof quality, but we stated we felt a major concern when choosing a hoof supplement must be how easily it fits into existing diet-and-supplement programs. The reason for taking this stand is that hoof supplements must usually be continued for at least 12 months to reach maximum benefit.

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Vitamin B6 Dosage
In response to the July 1999 Horse Journal regarding gentamicin and vitamin B6, could you offer some specific recommendations about supplementing with B6 while using gentamicin'

-Kelleen Simons
Internet

An average 1,000-pound horse can safely and effectively be supplemented at a rate of 1 to 2 mg/kg of diet, which would work out to 10 to 20 mg/day. You would only need to continue this while the horse is actually receiving gentamicin, so the easiest course probably would be to use a human B6 pill crushed to a fine powder and added to the feed.

There are also several multivitamin supplements specifically for horses that will provide this level of supplementation, as well as the other important Bs. Stress in general, as well as infections/injury, will increase needs for all B vitamins.

If the horse is not already being supplemented, you might want to consider using a high-potency B supplement during the period of treatment and convalescence. We like Finish Line’s Ultra Fire (see Blood Builders, July 1998).

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Foam Or Flock'
In reference to your April 1999 evaluation of dressage saddles and as a member of the British Society of Master Saddlers, I applaud your advice to “be an individual,” but I am also concerned by your article.

My primary criticism is that you fail to mention the central importance of riding with a balanced saddle, that is, a saddle correctly placed on the horse’s back, correctly flocked and correctly fitted.

The opening paragraph states, “Saddle makers have long pondered why riders continue to jack up the back of their saddles with wedge pads.” The answer is simply that saddles are generally placed too far forward. As a result, saddles are out of balance and cannot place the rider in the closest contact position — the middle of the saddle. If a saddle is correctly placed far enough back from the withers, has enough depth at the rear to attain correct balance, and permits free shoulder movement, then the rider will attain the classical position without a struggle.

You imply that gussets are a poor solution. This is simply incorrect. Saddlemakers who used to make saddles without gussets changed to making saddles with them. The gusset makes it possible to alter the panel to fit a wider variety of conformations. If the saddle fitter understands how to place the saddle and make use of the depth of the panel, the horse will be more comfortable, the priority in the equation.

I am dismayed by your short-sighted recommendation of a foam panel. What do you say to consumers when the foam has compressed, the fit is thrown off and the horse is in discomfort or pain' An overstuffed wool panel is obviously a problem but one that can be fixed. A saddle with the correct tree size that is correctly flocked by a saddler who sees the saddle, horse and rider together will get the balance correct every time.

Whether discussing bridging, billets, stirrup bars, blocks or gussets, the article ignores the basics of the horse’s conformation and the common error of riders everywhere to place their saddles too far forward, a mistake that causes them to fight their legs and their weight. When the horse is unhappy, so will the rider be. In my 21 years as a saddler, I have time and time again seen the horse’s performance improve with correct balancing. Horses do not lie.

-David Young
Master Saddler
Raleigh, NC

We agree on several accounts: the saddle must be balanced, the horse’s conformation must be taken into consideration, and horses do not lie.

To that extent, our test horses performed better and seemed happier under foam panels. As admitted traditionalists, we were surprised, too. We also explained that saddle fitters prefer flocking because it allows saddle fit to be altered whereas foam cannot. It is also true that some foam panels can be a problem if the foam compresses, and this did happen often when foam first appeared.

All foam is not equal in quality, however. Technology has improved the resilience, longevity and shock absorbency of foam so much in the last decade that many high-end saddles, like those in our review, now have foam panels.

We also did not imply gussets were a poor solution. We stated that “fat, gusseted panels, high cantles and deep seats of the earlier generation” were not the perfect solution to saddle fit.