Safe and Sound
My horse, Leo, has soundness issues in his hind end and tends to get really sore. He'll be moving nicely one minute and then all of a sudden he feels off. So, for me, keeping him sound, healthy and happy is a challenge. Don't you just wish they could talk?
Maddie Goebel, Ohio
Brenda Lynn Pettijohn-Christenson, Indiana
Her legs. I drove our barn owner nearly crazy last summer by asking her every day to check the legs of the pony I was leasing, even if nothing felt wrong. Even though it may cost everyone at the barn his or her sanity, when it comes to my horse's health, I can never be too careful.
Margaret Murphy, South Carolina
Joint health and excellent farrier care. I have an OTTB who raced 64 times before I bought him off the track. We show in Western Pleasure, English Pleasure, showmanship and trail. Shoeing is so important and tricky with him because he has a long toe, typical of many Thoroughbreds. In terms of joint health, my goal is to be preventive so he can feel his best whether he's still competing or just pleasure riding. He's my horse of a lifetime, so I work hard to make sure he's in great health.
Monica Southwick, Massachusetts
The Golden Years
At age 5, my aspiring jumper Thoroughbred gelding fractured a carpal bone in his knee. After six months of stall rest he walked out sound, but I knew that his career and longevity would depend largely on his maintenance coupled with a conscientious work and show schedule. We had several years of successful showing (even at the 4-foot level), and he rarely took an off step. I attributed that to the effort I had put into his soundness. He always received oral joint supplements, regular injections of Adequan or Legend, cold hosing after any jumping and showing with plenty of time off between shows.
Now, at age 18, he just had X-rays, a knee injection and had fluid removed for the first time since his original injury. The vet was astounded that at his age he was sound at all after a knee fracture, much less still jumping and loving it. Now we jump and gallop on trail rides, and he does it with gusto--but we seldom show because that extra money is spent on his staying sound, which is the most important thing to me. Whatever I have to do to keep him happy and comfortable takes priority.
Pam Marion, North Carolina
I have a 19-year-old Quarter Horse gelding. I am concerned with his overall health due to his age. He's still in full work, including jumping, and enjoys being ridden. I make sure that he's eating without problems and digesting it without issues, too. I look after his joint health to keep him happy and moving freely. I make sure that he's happy, healthy, eating, and moving like he should. I feel I owe it to him to keep him as healthy and happy as possible.
Melissa Houts, Michigan
Best Foot Forward
Proper shoeing for a Thoroughbred with bad feet.
Rachel Grant, Massachusetts
Foot care is vital to me. I lost a horse because of complications from an abscess that led to a bone fracture that required stall rest, which then caused him to colic. My kingdom for the best farrier ever
Julie Stephenson, New Jersey
My horse's mental well-being is very important to me. He's been having soundness problems, so we've had to take him out of a group pasture situation and put him in a stall, with only about 20 to 30 minutes of walking per day. To keep him from going stir crazy and developing vices, he has a stall right near the entrance of the property so he can see the goings-on during the day, and he is able to interact with his neighbors over the top of the partition. Teaching him tricks like giving kisses and nodding "yes" and shaking head "no" has also helped keep him mentally stimulated while he heals.
Rachael Knopf, California
Proper turnout and exercise.
Liesha Cornetto, New Jersey
Trying not to feel guilty when I can't find time to ride. It's difficult to find a happy medium between family and horses.
Karen Maw, British Columbia
Letting a horse live like a horse. That is why I don't have one now--I'm in the military and am stationed in Hawaii. I refuse to have a horse if he can't live in a pasture, eat grass and roam. I had horses in Tennessee for 15 years; they were pasture-kept with access to a barn at all times. We never had a single case of colic. When and if I ever move to a place where a horse can live as he should, I'll get one!
Jennifer Ashmore Blazewick, Hawaii