Some mixed issues...Persil and merlot

Some of our more popular Facebook posts on various issues can be found here...


The salt that we refer to is plain SODIUM CHLORIDE which contains NO potassium.
Unfortunately a lot of mineral combinations are referred to in general as ‘SALTS’.
For example, EPSOM SALTS which is not actually salt, it is Magnesium Sulphate.
Because we humans ingest too much salt in our processed foods, there is available a low sodium salt which contains potassium (Potassium Chloride – known as Lo Salt) but this is definitely NOT suitable for horses!
Celtic salt, sea-salt, Himalayan salt, these all contain sodium-chloride but are more expensive than ‘Ag-salt’ which can be bought from the farming stores in 25 kg bags for around $14. It comes in ‘fine’ or ‘coarse’, we prefer the ‘fine’ but it doesn’t really matter.
In Australia ‘Pool Salt’ is sodium-chloride.
Whichever it pays to check the label so you know exactly what you are feeding.
Pictured is a salt deficient horse showing licking behaviour which is typical of this.



Grain Intolerence or PSSM

What is the Difference Between ‘Grain Intolerance’ and PSSM (Poly Saccharide Storage Myopathy)?

Not much when it comes to the symptoms: Grumpiness, tight muscles, inability to move out properly, bucking, not wanting to hold back legs up for the farrier, agitation, stiffness, proneness to tying up, tail swishing, no top-line, no energy, muscle degeneration, kicking out ‘at nothing’.

These symptoms are familiar as they can also be due to the comparatively easily treated electrolyte imbalances outlined on the calm, healthy horses website; especially relating to a chronic lack of salt.

Grains have a high carbohydrate content which means they get broken down into sugars (glucose).
Sodium (in salt) is required to transport glucose across the cell membrane (Merck Veterinary Manual). Failure of this process causes high circulating blood sugar and leads to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
If you suspect your horse is grain intolerant or has PSSM then

  • Delete all grains/sugars from their diet, especially the extruded ones.
    Items like beet, grass chaffs, bran, and oils can still be fed. It may require some trial and error to establish what you can feed.
  • See Recommended Diet Changes and make them.
  • Identify what grasses are in your horse’s pasture and hay and make adjustments
    See Pasture Management

PSSM is a serious metabolic disorder with a genetic predisposition and proper diagnosis involves either a genetic test or a muscle biopsy, neither of which are easy to access.
So first make some diet changes FOR AT LEAST A MONTH.

Observe, remember, compare

'My horse is naughty'...

Horses are peaceful, willing, exceptionally perceptive & intelligent, playful, and communicate principally by ‘feel’.

They KNOW when you don’t know! They are easily frightened and you have to earn their trust. It has been pointed out to us that it is best they see you as their teacher rather than their leader. We need to teach them how to live in a world that is in no way natural to them!

If things aren’t going right then either
• it is a communication problem (he doesn’t know what you mean) or
• He simply can’t comply due to some physical or physiological (chemistry) problem

Dr Deb’s saying is one of the best:

“There is no such thing as resistance, only the desperate need for communication!”

Trouble starts when horses are ‘misjudged’ regarding their temperament, ‘misread’ in their behaviours then ‘misdiagnosed’ as to what is actually wrong and therefore ‘mistreated’ (meaning not the correct treatment rather than ‘abused’).

Figuring out what is wrong is often a process of elimination but requires you to be doggedly steadfast about the following:


I am sure you are like us and cringe when you hear people blaming the horse and calling them ‘stupid’, ‘pigs’, ‘nutters’, mongrels or ‘have attitude’ etc
(Exception: you can make allowances for the odd inappropriate adjective to pass your lips when you see they have dismantled the electric fence for the umpteenth time...........)

I have been guilty in the past of saying these things (now I think ‘shame on me!)until I met people who ‘pulled me up’ and suggested another viewpoint! I’m sure you all stick up for the horse too when you hear people in blame mode!

If the problem isn’t obvious then eliminate the physiological (mineral imbalances) FIRST, otherwise these will constantly undermine the effectiveness of any other treatments.
Tick the Calm Healthy Horses Checklist now, then make those diet changes for at least a month and then see what physical problems are left by ticking the Checklist again.

When you see those improvements you will know you are on the right track. If you don’t see ANY improvements contact us to ensure you haven’t missed anything, then genuine physical problems will be more easily identified.

To cover or not to cover?

The big storm last week prompted this topic!
Horses are well equipped to handle cold temperatures. Most horses and ponies grow a good winter coat which fluffs up in cold weather.

However they are not designed for, and don’t do well, when it is cold and there is incessant rain especially when you add wind chill.

All the insulating properties of the hair-coat are lost when it is plastered down by rain. Then you see them shivering even see their ‘hocks clacking’. This means they are too cold and miserable!

Most horses have only limited opportunity to move enough to get warm. Instead they are usually hanging about waiting for you to arrive with their hay! The process of fermenting the hay in the hind-gut works as their internal heater so they need a constant supply of it when it is cold.
This is where ‘Hay-Savers’ are a life-saver. Put in a whole bale and they can trickle feed for hours. you won’t lose hay in the mud or the wind and you won’t worry so much about them.

I Don’t know about you but I feel really sorry for horses with no shelter and no hay!
Purpose built paddock shelters and/or a great hedge that effectively blocks the wind are a big help, otherwise put on his ‘portable tent’ which is his water-proof cover. They feel instantly better!

More on the Cover Issue...

Synthetic covers are great because they are light and comfortable for the horse to wear compared to canvas ones which become brutally heavy and awkward when they get wet!
The downside of synthetic covers is that they don’t breathe as well as canvas so if they are left on when the temperature warms up during the day then the horse can get too hot and sweat easily in them, even on a winters day.
Once they have sweated in them the salt from the sweat causes the lining of the cover to attract moisture and they get that horrible damp, sticky feel.
Then the cover really needs to be thoroughly washed and dried to get rid of that (not easy in the middle of winter!).
Hence being diligent about not letting the horses sweat in their covers even though this is more work.