Category: Extra Information

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Saddle Fit – why it is important for your horse

Why is my horse’s saddle fit so important?

After years of working on horses and helping them with their pain issues, so many times it comes down to incorrect saddle fit when a horse has issues. I offer a free saddle check (as I have studied this along with my bodywork course) with your Equine Touch Consult, as this can help me (& you) see if that is the issue that may be affecting your horse’s performance & causing pain. Then I can either recommend to you that you need a different gullet size, or your saddle is just not right for your horse, or if you need a saddle fitter to adjust your saddle for you or re-flock.

Does your horse misbehave or move around when you saddle up? Your horse will tell you if he does not like a saddle – listen to him/her.

How about his behavior when you first get on? I mean the first 8-10 circles, not after he/she has ‘warmed up’ – as after 20min riding the nerves that the saddle may be pressing on may go numb & then the behavior improves. 

If the nerves at the end of a muscle cannot fire – as they are numb, the horse cannot contract the muscles – then the horse compensates with other muscles & the important muscles atrophy (for example loss of top line). For a capillary to close it only needs 4.66kp of pressure in both skin and muscle. Localized pressure from a saddle and rider usually is higher than 29.8kpa, so you can see how this can cause damage.

Horses are not always 100% symmetrical, why are saddles even/same on both sides? Saddle will slip to the hollow side. Shim used on the hollow side can help keep the saddle straight & balanced.

White patches or white hair in saddle area? This is a sure sign the saddle is causing damage to your horse’s back, this is long term damage & needs a few sessions or regular Equine Touch sessions to help (soft tissue bodywork is needed in this circumstance – not chiro). Saddle fit is needed asap.

Hollow back or U neck? The horse needs to be able to lift his back and engage the thoracic sling, this is achieved with the rider’s correct position and riding ‘light’ in the seat (no matter what size you are). Find a great riding instructor to help you with this.

Front end High heal, low heal syndrome is quite common & this in turn affects your horse’s body. Horse will graze with weaker side leg forward and the weaker side will build more muscles at the shoulder /scapular – as muscle grows bigger when it is stretched. Favorite side will have less muscle (yep opposite to what you think happens).

What side does your horse’s mane fall on? The bigger (weaker) shoulder will then push mane to the opposite side of the neck, so the fall of the mane is on the stronger side.  Seven out of ten horses have a mane to the right, two fall to the left and one splits even on both sides.

Can I just ‘train’ my horse to go straight? No, you cannot just train a horse straight, as bones and muscles develop like that – unbalanced/asymmetrical, especially young horses or horses started before they are 4 years with poor fitting saddles or unbalanced riders or low heal/ high heal syndrome.

Some important things you can check on your saddle are.

Saddle Channel width must be at least a closed fist wide to prevent nerve damage and loss of top line. A narrow channel will pull down on the spinal processes and in turn cause damage to the back and may lead to ‘kissing spine’ issues.

Angle of the tree is just as important as the angel of the gullet over the scapula The scapula moves around 4-6 inchers when the horse moves & you cannot put the saddle that far back, so you must have a saddle with room at the front for the shoulder to move under.  Tight saddles can damage the cartilage on the top of the scapular – this is not repairable. Horse that may refuse to go forward or jack up – may have a saddle that is too tight.

Contact Belinda if you would like to book an Equine Touch session with a free saddle check.

Why feed your dog a Natural Raw Diet?

Dogs are omnivores and are designed to eat a balanced raw meat diet with vegetables and fruit. Feeding dogs one food group like all meat or all vegetables creates imbalances and can contribute to illnesses. A safe diet is a balance of different raw meats (beef, chicken, lamb etc), raw bones, fish, suitable vegetables, grains etc (what you would find in the gut of a bird or animal they would eat in the wild) & can be fed along with a Suitable Canine Health Supplement.

Canine Health Products

For a natural diet, it’s recommended to avoid all processed commercial dog feeds, as its like eating junk food everyday – its not good for humans or dogs. Protein requirement of feed is 22% for growth and reproduction and 18% for adult dogs.
A dogs feed requirement is affected by age, neutering status, physiologic status (growth, gestation, lactation, etc), physical activity, environmental temperature, and any underlying abnormalities. Not one amount of feed suits all, amount of feed is adjusted depending on the dog’s size and body condition. For example, an active border collie needs more feed than a lazy Labrador.
Please contact Belinda for a balanced Natural Raw Diet plan for your canine or click here for payment and form.

Is your horse in Pain? How to check your horse.


Checking your horse for pain issues is a complicated process that does require an experienced qualified person or vet to make a full assessment. There are things you, the horse owner can do & observe too to check for pain issues. The first sign can be observing your horse in the pasture and when your horse is moving around when being worked on the ground and when being ridden.
Things to look for are.
Are they holding or bracing any part of their body?
Are they limping or look uncomfortable?
Do they have any behavioural issues?
Is there body symmetrical (stand in front of your horse and check the way they hold their head) – does it hang to one side?
Do they cock their tail to the side when being ridden or tail swishing?
Do they rest one leg more than another?
Do their hooves wear unevenly? Or toes drag?

Not sure if you need a bodywork session? Here are a few basic tips you can use to help assess your horse to see if they need a soft tissue bodywork session, please note not all horses will show pain with these checks – its best to employ and practitioner to double check for you. Keep your eye on your horse’s face, ear’s and nose & body posture for any signs of discomfort.
1. Stand your horse on a level surface. Tie your horse up or have someone hold your horse for you.
2. Slowly run your hands over the horse and feel for hot or cold areas or any areas that may have a reaction.
3. Pick up each leg and feel for any tightness or restrictions.
4. Press your thumb or finger firmly into the areas with the arrows (see photo)
5. Run your fingernail or tip of a pen lid (you need something pointy) in the head to tail (caudal direction) or top to bottom, along the yellow lines.
6. Run your finger firmly along the green lines in a caudal direction.
What reactions do you get? Did you horse twitch or move? Did your horse throw his head or try to kick or bite? Did you feel any tight or cold areas? Did you see any nerves twitch?
Please seek professional help if you are unsure how to check your horse. Definity book a soft tissues bodywork session with your local practitioner.
Please feel free to ask Belinda during an Equine Touch session how to check your horse’s pain or how to help prevent pain issues. Free Saddle check and basic check with your Equine Touch session.

Feeding the ‘Good Doer’

For all the horse owners that have ponies or miniatures that you struggle to keep the weight off then this information is for you. With over 22 + years’ experience in owning and breeding show quality miniature ponies & horses and Welsh cobs I have learnt so much about weight management. Along with my Equine Nutrition qualifications, pasture management and focus on natural diets I would love to share my knowledge, so you do not need to spend years battling with weight control with your ponies.

Firstly, you need to look at what you are feeding now and work out where the calories are coming from and reduce where possible. Let’s take a closer look & check out the alternatives.

  1. Pasture – this will vary depending where you live and what type of grasses your horse is grazing on. Cool season C3 grasses (like rye grass & clover) are higher in feed quality and unfortunately sugar (fructan). Warm season and tropical grasses C4 are usually lower in sugar, but can contain oxalates.

What to feed good doers? Preferred grass & hay for good doers included Rouges grass, teff hay, lucerne hay (in moderation as its fattening), timothy hay, diget grass or some native grasses. Straw is also a option for roughage, headed ryegrass straw, barley or oaten straw (no grain) are also options so your horse has something to chew on.

When to graze? Early morning is best, 2 hours before sunrise and 2/3 hours after sunrise. Why you ask? The sun causes the carbohydrates/sugar in the grass to rise as the plants photosynthesize during the day and are the highest late afternoon and evening. Then the plant uses these sugars up overnight for growth. If you are restricting your horses grass intake, then confining at night with low sugar hay to eat is the best.

  1. Hay – Is your hay low NSC? Safe hays for horses include Roges Grass, diget grass, teff hay and lucerne hay. Please note Lucerne hay is also fattening & high in protein and some horses can scour or get colic if they do not tolerate lucerne – limit the amounts for good doers. The high protein can also cause nitrate accumulations.

The quantity of hay is also important, the horse needs to consume around 1.5% to 2% (average 1.7%) of their bodyweight daily of dry feed (this includes pasture, hard feeds and hay). This is around 1.7kg per 100kg of bodyweight) For example a 500kg horse would need around 8.5kg of feed per day (dry weight).  If your horse is on pasture, this intake will vary depending on the pasture quality, poor may only contrite as little as 2kg per day or good/excellent pasture can be around 11kg per day. If your horse is on little grass or no grass, then offering the hay in slow feeder nets can help spread the intake over the day/night.

  1. Hard feeds – What is in the feeds you are giving? Are you feeding high calorie feeds or grains? If you have a fat or well rounded horse or pony then you should not be feeding pellets, processed feeds, grains or molasses base feeds – yes even the ones that have the laminitis ‘tick’ on the bag. When this came out the level of NCS to qualify was 40% NSC & we now know that you need to keep the NSC under 12% if possible, & under 10% for laminitis prone horses and ponies. Check the label very carefully, if it contains fillers or ‘mill run’ or molasses / sugar or any grain then look at removing that from your ‘good doers’ diet.

What to feed? A basic diet that contains plenty of fiber (pasture, hay, chaff, quality soy, copra), correct level of protein and balanced vitamins and minerals like Belinda’s Custom Loose Lick or Belinda’s Amazing Minerals Plus. Remember to look at feeding the 1.5% of bodyweight of dry matter per day.

  1. Oils? These add fat to the diet and not needed in most cased for fat horses. Exception being horses on no grass may need omegas.

In conclusion taking a close look at amounts and other feeds that might be contributing to your horses expanding weight. Never starve the weight off your horse, this can have dire consequences like hyperlipemia, ulcers, colic and other health issues. Exercise and movement are also important to keep the body functioning and help shift weight.

Please remember when you horse is on a ‘restricted’ diet you are offering Belinda’s Loose Lick ad-lib as your horse still needs quality vitamins and minerals to help balance a bland or basic diet. A balanced diet helps your horses body function correctly and contributes to a shiny coat and healthy hooves along with a healthy immune system to fight of any ailments.

Belinda Atkinson – Qualified Animal Nutritionist

 

Feeding senior horses a natural balanced diet

When looking at your senior horses diet there is a few things to check & rule out first.
– Dental care
– Worm burden
– Pain issues (bodywork)
– Environment (companion or availability of feed/pastures, low stress)
– Health (Cushing’s disease or arthritis are common in horses over 18 years old & can affect younger horses as well – seek veterinary advice on diagnosing these conditions).
– Regular feeding 2 (to 4) x a day depending on situation. Ad-lib hay or grass 24/7. Guide is 2% of your horses body weight per day (10kg for a 500kg horse).
If you have addressed and checked all of the above, then you can look at adjusting the diet to fit your horses age, situation and horse’s health. The poor gut function along with teeth issues can contribute to poor condition and the need to feed larger quantities of feed to an aged horse.
We have several older horses here, Beau (in photo – has no front teeth left, molars ok) is 39 years old this year (2020), we also have a 23 year old retired broodmare (that’s is insulin resistant, has arthritis and mild Cushing’s symptoms), 22 year old stallion (healthy), and a few miniature ponies in their late teens.

Senior horse feeding

Winter coat and condition on Beau 39 year old pony

This is what I feed to my old horses & it varies during the year depending on the availability of pasture and pasture quality. I will give you a couple of options that I adjust during the year.
Winter feeding for older horses
Quality pasture over 5cm in high available 24/7 if your horse can not eat / chew hay. Or ad-lib soft type hay like mixed pasture hay. If your older horse needs weight management then use a large hole slow feeder hay net.
Winter hard feed – fed twice a day
Copra & maxisoy (soaked to a mash with warm water)
Chaff selected on your horses requirements (my old horse has oaten chaff & option for Cushing’s low sugar chaff like rye Straw chaff or wheaten chaff
Whole lupins (soaked till soft)
Canola meal (to add fat)
Belinda’s Amazing Minerals Plus dose in feed & also Belinda’s Loose Lick ad-lib.  Note; BAM+ will help with nutrient absorption, gut health and the availability of the vitamins and minerals in the supplement – great for older or growing horses.
That’s it, balanced and keeps weight on during winter – KIS (keep it simple) is my feeding belief. This diet will also apply in Summer when we have no green grass & may add lucerne chaff as well. Please note some old horses or Cushing’s horses get scours or cannot tolerate lucerne (some will get colic) so be careful.
For Spring and times of adequate grass – only feed once a day if your horses weight is good
Copra (soaked)
Chaff – oaten
Belinda’s Amazing Minerals Plus in feed & Belinda’s Loose Lick ad-lib
This is what works for my horses in my situation and amounts are adjusted depending on body condition.

Photos of our 22 year old stallions top line and shiny winter coat & 23 year old broodmare that’s IR (suspected Cushing’s)


For customised diet advice, book a nutrition consult today. Full natural affordable diet plan tailored to your needs just $110 – you may just save $100’s off your feed costs & have a healthy horse (less vet bills).

Laminitis and Founder – recognising symptoms and what to do

laminitis, founder, recovery

One of the major concerns for horse owners, especially in Springtime, is laminitis and founder. If you can recognise the early signs and address the condition as quickly as possible, all the better for your horse.

As an animal homeopath this is the most common ailment I successfully address for clients horses on a daily basis.

Laminitis and founder are extremely painful conditions. If not addressed promptly, laminitis can result in rotation of the third phalanx (coffin bone) through the sole of the hoof. Inflammation occurs in the sensitive laminae in the horse’s hooves, restricting circulation in the hoof. Separation of the laminae – founder – can also result in seedy toe and abscesses which can also be extremely painful for the horse.

Laminitis episodes can be triggered by many different circumstances, including:

  • An overload of sugar and starches in the diet, possibly from grazing on lush pastures. This can cause an imbalance in the gut bacteria and production of an endotoxin that triggers inflammation in the hoof laminae
  • Poorly trimmed feet – long toes
  • Mineral deficiency and poor gut health
  • A secondary reaction to an infection somewhere in the body, such as a uterus infection in broodmares
  • Insulin resistance (ponies with hard crested necks) and horses with Cushing disease

Here are the symptoms you should look for to spot an acute case of Laminitis:

  •  Heat in the coronary band and the hoof – the horse will stand ‘underneath’ itself leaning weight on the hind end
  • Tenderness of the hooves, obvious pain when walking on hard surfaces or not wanting to move at all
  • A strong and bounding digital pulse ( felt behind the pastern)
  • Obvious pain, anxiety, sweating and increased respiration

Other symptoms found in chronic laminitis in horses include:

  •  Separation of the sensitive laminae
  • Third phalanx displacement or rotation
  • Sole of hoof becomes flat or dropped
  • Abscesses and seedy toe (these can also occur with acute laminitis)

Preventing laminitis

Keep your horse or pony in the correct weight range. Exercise your pony regularly as this increases circulation. Feed a balanced diet (using a balanced vitamin and mineral supplement). Do not feed your horse or pony sugars, and do not feed grain or lucerne to fat ponies. Do not lock fat ponies up in small yards without exercising them.

Cloe Supreme web2

Natural remedies

A number of natural remedies are useful in addressing laminitis.

  • Homeopathic remedies can be used to reduce pain and inflammation in the hooves, and can help resolve laminitis promptly. Homeopathics can also be given two to three times a week, to prevent laminitis.
  • Rescue remedy can help reduce stress.
  • Herbs can reduce inflammation, particularly Chamomile & Rosehips. Herbs for easing pain (include White Willow and Devil’s Claw).
  • Correct hoof trimming should be an ongoing part of your care regime.

New studies have found that applying ice water around inflamed hooves can prevent the onset of laminitis if caught in the early stages. Running cold water over the lower legs and hooves can also help reduce the inflammation.

Prevention is better than cure in laminitis cases. It is comforting to know there are safe, fast, natural solutions to address this condition if it does happen to your horse.

For a consultation or for more information on natural therapies, remedies and solutions, please call or email Belinda.

Feeding and Exercising a Horse with Laminitis

Mini's strip grazingGetting your horse or pony’s diet right with a case of laminitis is an essential part of their care and recovery. Here’s what you should be feeding:

Grass or pasture hay – preferably older hay (low sugar – no clover or rye) that is not mouldy

  • Wheaten chaff (small amount of Lucerne chaff or oaten chaff- for flavour), with no grain
  • Copra meal (coconut) – soaked in warm water
  • Minerals or mineral lick, but with no molasses
  • Add dose of Belinda’s Custom Loose Lick for your area
  • Vitamin C powder can also be added as a valuable supplement
  • Suitable herbs, as recommended by a herbalist, can be made into a tea – Chamomile and Rosehip are useful
  • Rescue Remedy can also be added to the horse’s drinking water to help with stress.

Here’s what not to feed during a case of laminitis, or to a horse or pony which is prone to laminitis:

  • Limit feeding of Lucerne hay or lucerne chaff
  • Clover hay
  • Molasses or feeds containing sugar
  • Any grain or feeds containing grain such as oats,
  • Pellets or bread
  • NO apples or carrots
  • Do not let your horse or pony graze on lush green pastures – especially at night or when it is frosty or extreme heat.

Exercise during laminitis

When your horse’s condition improves and it is able to move around, ensure your horse has adequate exercise. Begin with a five to ten minute walk twice a day, and increase this over time as your horse improves.

It’s important that your horse or pony is not confined in a stable or small yard for long periods at a time. A horse with laminitis should not be kept in a concrete floored stable. Correct bedding is essential – use rubber or deep sawdust or sand on floor, at least 10cm thick to ensure your horse’s comfort and recovery.

Natural Remedies and Care for a Horse with Laminitis or Founder

Nelly recovering

Nelly recovering well after homeopathic remedies, farrier work and WS Loose Lick supplement.

Nelly Before Homeopathic care - on vet drugs

Nelly Before Homeopathic care – on vet drugs

What you can do for your horse?

There are a number of measures you can take and natural forms of care on offer for a horse or pony with laminitis.

Laminitis can be effectively resolved and/or prevented with homeopathic remedies, as prescribed by an Animal Homeopath. Call me to get your consult form today!

It is important to ensure you have your horse’s teeth checked by a qualified equine dentist on a regular basis and hooves trimmed correctly as required. This will ensure your horse is ‘balanced’ – most health issues arise when your horse is not in balance.

Cut down on fertilisers – Superphosphate ‘ties up’ the magnesium in the soil, so avoid using it in your pastures. Laminitic horses are characteristically deficient in magnesium.

Note on Bute (Butazolidin)

As you may be aware, many vets prescribe ‘bute’ for a horse with laminitis. This ‘masks’ the pain and the horse may appear better, but unfortunately Bute may also block the body’s heailng process, preventing a true long term cure. Long term use of Bute may cause other problems; it can weaken blood vessels causing internal haemorrhaging. Your horse MUST be off bute for 3-4 days before starting homeopathic drops as they may stop the drops from working.

Tips and Instructions for using Belinda’s Custom Weather Shield Loose Lick

Here are some tips and hints on how to get the most from your Weather Shield Loose Lick Custom Mix – so that you too can have a horse with a coat like this!

We recommend you make your Loose Lick Custom Mix available as a free choice feed in the paddock or yard. Place one to two cups per horse in a self-draining tub. When wet, Loose Lick repels water as long as it can drain away.

Top up the Loose Lick daily as required. Carry a small bucket or container with you when feeding or checking horses.

Make sure the lick is always available so your horse does not ‘gorge’ when offered it. If the tub fills with water, tip the water out – Loose Lick will dry out and crust over; remove the crust and the lick underneath will be dry. Make more or bigger holes in your feeding trough or tub (at the side or the edge, not in the bottom) as water simply runs over Loose Lick, not through it.

Please note your horse may take a large amount to start with, never fear they will not overdose on any of the minerals. The horse is just making up for past deficiency’s & should ease off after a week or two.

Remove any other salt or salt licks from your horses diet when offering the loose lick ad-lib.

Here’s a reminder of how much you should be using:

Loose Lick feeding table - small

For more information on Belinda’s Weather Shield Loose Lick Custom Mix and hardwearing feed tubs, visit our Loose Lick Supplements page.

Tips for new users of Weather Shield Loose Lick – Belinda’s Custom Mix

Introduce your horse to Loose Lick Supplements by adding a handful to their daily feed, and make it available as an ad lib feed as well. Cut back the amount in their feed over two to three weeks until they choose it for themselves. Most horses will take to Loose Lick straight away.

Some horses may consume a lot of Loose Lick in the first two to three weeks – they are making up for past deficiencies and their intake should level out.

If your horse has been used to a block lick containing molasses, it may take a few weeks to get used to the new taste. Remove all block licks before introducing Loose Lick supplement.

You do not need to offer any other vitamin and mineral supplement while using the correct dosage of Weather Shield Loose Lick*. We recommend you offer it with hay and, if required, plain hard feed such as chaff and copra or Maxisoy, or your choice of grains. There is no need for expensive manufactured feeds with added minerals and vitamins.
* Other supplements are required only if your horse has a health problem or is a racing or working animal that needs extra electrolytes.
* For travelling or nervous horses I also recommend my Vitamin B with Biotin Complex (see Vitamin Supplement page on store for details).
* For horses with stifle problems or injuries I also recommend my Natural Vitamin E & Organic Selenium supplement. Weather Shield Loose Lick contains both these vitamins.
Here’s a reminder of how much Weather Shield Loose Lick Custom Mix you should be using –

Loose Lick feeding table - small

Individual requirements may vary depending on the nutritional value of pasture, hay or other feeds in your horse’s diet. Also breeding animals (mares in foal etc.) and growing young stock have a higher mineral requirement. The above dosages are a guide only.
It is also highly recommended to offer this product ad lib, in case your horse requires more than you are adding in its feed. Some horses take a little Loose Lick, and others spend five or ten minutes at the lick every day. You’ll soon find out what your horse prefers – and see the benefits!

To read more about Belinda’s Custom Weather Shield Loose Lick , please visit our Loose Lick Supplements page.