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Equine News

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Equine News


Each month we provide tips for horse owners, the latest research on horse health, as well as updates on current events and workshops for horse owners.  


This month's newsletter features:

  • 12 Days of Christmas
  • Relationship between behavior and lameness, saddle fit and rider position
  • Ground handling Part 5: Bending the head and neck
  • Tack Box Talk podcast: Saddle fitting
  • Common questions about soy
  • Oklahoma Open Horse Show judges seminar
  • Finding an equine lawyer: What am I paying?
  • Upcoming events


Red Flower









12 Days of Christmas for Horses

Here is a twist on a holiday favorite – gift ideas for your equine family!

On the first day of Christmas, give your horse your attention. Every horse appreciates a nose to tail thorough grooming and a scratch in that ‘oh so favorite’ spot.

On the second day of Christmas, make your horse a warm mash. Some folks like to use wheat bran but rolled oats, or beet pulp can also make a good base. Carrots, molasses, apples and applesauce make flavorful additions.

On the third day of Christmas, talk with your veterinarian about your parasite control program. Your veterinarian may recommend a fecal exam to determine the parasite load in your horse. And remember, ivermectin is for your horse!

On the fourth day of Christmas, make a donation of supplies or your time to your local animal rescue organization.

On the fifth day of Christmas, clean and oil your tack.  Unbuckle all the straps and give it a good cleaning.  Repair anything that has signs of damage or replace!  A little attention can prevent a major accident.

On the sixth day of Christmas, visit an equine therapy organization. Affirm what we already know about how horses are good for people and find out what you can do to support your local organizations.


Kid on horse


On the seventh day of Christmas, create an Emergency Response Plan for your horses. Because of their size and specific transportation needs horses require extra consideration for disasters. Consider your options for identification: tattoo, microchip, brand and bridle tags.  Don’t forget, wildfire season is just around the corner.


On the eighth day of Christmas, visit the Equine Disease Communication Center site for a biosecurity assessment of your facility. This tool provides information on equine health, infectious disease, disease outbreaks,  and infectious disease control.


On the ninth day of Christmas, make plans to attend one seminar or workshop to help you become a more informed owner and meet fellow horse owners.


On the tenth day of Christmas, plan a trail ride to a new destination. Many locations across our area offer well-groomed horse trails. A change of scenery for both horse and owner is a treat.


Horse trails


On the eleventh day of Christmas, wash that saddle pad or blanket. You may even need to replace that pad or blanket. Remember the blanket or pad helps to protect the horses’ back which is critical for their comfort.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, go through your medicine cabinet and toss the expired and contaminated medications. Using expired or contaminated medications can do more harm than good. If you like to keep a dose of pain relief on hand, check with your veterinarian for the best product for your needs.



Tack box Talk


Fitting Saddles: The story of 30 years of experience making and using saddles


Listen Here

Joel McQuagge, University of Florida professor, shares his knowledge that comes with 30+ years of riding young horses, teaching students and custom saddle making.  Joel's vast experience on both sides of the saddle (using and making) provide insight on how to select the best saddle and evaluate its fit on your horse.  We even throw in some thoughts on saddle pads, girths and more!



Ground Handling Part 5: Bending the head and neck


In part 5 of the series, Dr. Kris Hiney, Oklahoma State University Equine Extension Specialist, discusses how to develop a horse that is extremely soft to ride by starting with the head and neck on the ground.



Have you heard that soy may be a problem in feeding horses?

Check out this infographic for the truth about soy.

Common Questions and Current Research on Soy




Horse Show


Oklahoma Open Horse Show Judges Seminar:
January 15, 2022
Stillwater, OK

This one day seminar is designed for those currently judging open horse show and Oklahoma 4-H Horse shows, or those interested in pursuing judging cards.  Presenters will include AQHA  carded judges Dr. Steven Cooper, Rebecca Halvorson and Larry Sanchez.  Topics will cover rail classes, ranch horse classes, horsemanship and equitation as well as tips on the skills you need to successfully navigate contracts, judges expectations and how to survive in the ring and be asked back.  Interested applicants may also apply to be placed on the Oklahoma 4-H and Open Show judges list.


Cost of attendance is $40 and includes lunch and materials.


For more information contact Dr. Kris Hiney:



Latest Research on Equine Health 


An investigation into the relationship between equine behavior when tacked-up and mounted and epaxial muscle hypertonicity or pain, girth regional hypersensitivity, saddle fit, rider position and balance, and lameness





Many horses display unwanted behaviors during saddling or mounting that are often blamed on the horse’s attitude or misbehaving.  However, many underlying issues may create pain which may cause the horse to react adversely to common everyday activities.  It has been suggested that gastric ulcers could potentially create these behaviors and treatment resulted in the disappearance of these behaviors. Ill fitting saddles may also be a culprit, as well as poor rider ability to mount or if the absence of a mounting block.  Horse behavior has even been used to identify musculoskeletal pain and lameness. To further define the relationship between behavior and pain, horses were observed during saddling and mounting, and compared to the presence of muscle tension or pain in the back, girth hypersensitivity, il fitting tack, rider position and balance as well as the presence of lameness.  Horses were observed and 20 behaviors used in a Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram, as well as tail swishing, blinking or eyelid closure, fidgeting, rubbing against a wall, and lowering the head were also measured.  Saddle fit with and without the rider was determined by a master saddle fitter and a score was given based on the presence of any saddle-fit abnormalities.  Rider position (bouncing, in balance, movement from side to side) and horse gait were assessed at a walk, trot and canter to both the left and right were assessed by a British Horse Society Instructor experienced in saddle fit.  A lameness grade was provided by an experienced clinician.   A total of 193 horses were observed, and as this study was performed in England, the majority of the horses were warmbloods, Irish Sport horses and cobs.  The majority of the horses were ridden for leisure and were slightly overweight (ave BCS 6). The majority of the saddles fit poorly, with 66.8% having trees that were too tight.  The majority of saddles slipped side to side and bounced on the horse’s back.  Rider position also was considered poor with half of the riders sitting too far back, or bouncing on the horse’s back.  40% of riders were also considered too big for their saddles.  Of these horses, whom riders considered sound, 66% were lame under saddle as assessed by an experienced veterinarian.  Part of the population in this study consisted of college school horses, and displayed the most abnormal behaviors during mounting.  These horses also had the highest proportion of poorly fitting saddles and poor riders. Overall, there was a significant correlation of back pain, lameness, and tight tress with abnormal behaviors.  The most frequently observed were mouth champing, tail swishing, fidgeting, ears back, intense stares, back dipping and head tossing.  Overall, riders should not disregard behaviors that are considered grumpy, naughty or misbehaving during saddling and mounting.  Most likely the horse is experiencing pain – and the most likely culprit is a poorly fitting saddle or an unbalanced rider.  It is time to be a bit more sympathetic to our equine companions and look internally for the cause of unwanted behavior.


Dyson, S et al. “An Investigation into the Relationship Between Equine Behaviour When Tacked-up and Mounted and Epaxial Muscle Hypertonicity or Pain, Girth Region Hypersensitivity, Saddle-Fit, Rider Position and Balance, and Lameness.” Equine veterinary education (2021): n. pag. Web.



Neighborly Advice:  What kind of business should I have?

Neighborly advice









Successfully running an equine business may depend on how you first set it up!

Business can fall under many different categories including:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • General partnership
  • Limited partnership
  • Corporation
  • Limited liability company


Sole proprietorship – this means you are pretty much on your own! You are personally liable for all debts and liabilities of the business.  While you can rename yourself as a business, in the law’s eyes you and your business are the same thing, and you will file your taxes as the same entity.


General partnership – This is essentially the same as a sole proprietorship but there are two or more people involved.  They are easy to create but know that all partners are personally liable for the business. There is some paperwork to be filed and you should have a separate business bank account.


Limited partnership – This involved general partners who will still have personal liability as well as limited partners who are only exposed to what they have invested in the partnership.  This type of business also requires partnership agreements and must be filed with the state.


Corporations – In a corporation, there is no liability to the shareholder, so they are personally protected.  Corporations involve much more paperwork, must have official meetings, minutes, issuance of stock etc. These are probably beyond most small-scale equine businesses.


Limited Liability Company (LLC) – This business type is one of the most common. The advantage to an LLC is that partners are not personally liable for the LLCs obligations. LLC’s must file paperwork with the state, have a formally established business structure and its own bank account.


Best advice – Hire a CPA that is familiar with your specific type of business. They will assist you with completing the correct paperwork and filings and keep you from making costly tax mistakes!


For more information: Equine Law and Horse Sense by Julie Fershtman.



Bits and Pieces

Upcoming Events and Industry Updates 


Adult Education
Oklahoma Open Horse Show Judges Seminar: January 15, 2022
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Cost of attendance is $40 and includes lunch and materials.
For more information contact Dr. Kris Hiney:


Horse Owners Workshop - March 5, 2022
Horse Owners Workshop will return to its in person format in 2022.  Three educational tracts will be offered, basic horse management, advanced/in depth topics and youth education.  Attendees may choose which seminars to attend.  Complete schedule TBD.
Youth Events
Oklahoma 4-H Horse Communication Contest - February 5, 2022
OSU Animal  Science Building, Stillwater, OK


Oklahoma State 4-H and FFA Judging Contest - April 30, 2022
Totusek Arena, Stillwater, OK


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