Category Archives: Medical

Let’s Talk about Equine Peepers, shall we?…






I was interested in this topic after going outside last night in the dark.

Do you ever go outside at night because you think (for the hundredth time) that you left the water on?  Or, you hear something go “bump” and you are sure it is a loose horse?  Or, my personal favorite, you KNOW a horse is loose and running amuck…  Me, too.  And, what always amazes me is that all the horses are awake at whatever hour and their eyes are beaming at me.

How do their eyes shine at night like that?  And, how do they run amuck in the dark and never run into anything?  How can they see so well with fly masks on at night (not that I recommend this but it has happened around here…)?  How well do horses see?

FIELD OF VISION?

Let’s start with the field of vision.  Now you all probably already know that a horse can see, while standing, much more than we can because of the placement of their eyes on the sides of their heads (vs. ours which are placed in front).  Since the horse is a prey animal, these wide set eyes allow him to see almost 360 degrees.

BLIND SPOTS

However, he does have blind spots.  They are directly in front of his nose, the spot below the eyes and directly behind his behind.

Now, what people sometimes don’t understand is that when we approach from the front of a horse, there comes a point where we disappear.  Imagine how upsetting that would be, eh?  This is why a horse suddenly jerks his head up or sideways as we get close to his face.  So, don’t do that.  Don’t approach straight onto a horse.  Come from the side.  It makes the whole thing easier.

Same with the rear.  You’ve heard not to approach a horse from behind.  The reason is that he cannot see you if you come up directly on his tail.  This is why you might get kicked.  And, this is why I so admire the trick riders who can run up and mount from behind.  Obviously, the horse really trusts his rider.

MONOCULAR VS BINOCULAR

This is another interesting concept.  Since their eyes are on the sides of their heads, they can see all around them while their heads are down, grazing.  When their heads are down, both of their eyes cannot focus on anything together because they are seeing completely different things.  Do you see what I mean?  So, if their heads are down, the right eye is seeing what is on the right and the left eye is seeing what is on the left — monocular.

Now, the interesting thing is that if a horse senses something moving while his head is down, he NEEDS to raise his head to see it dimensionally.  In other words, when he is alerted, he naturally raises his head so that he can focus on the object with both eyes or BINOCULAR vision.  So, that is why he “spooks” except it isn’t spooking at all.  He is just checking it out.  And, it takes a few moments for his eyes to work together so he kinda bobs his head until it all makes sense to him.

Another reason horses move their heads up and down when they are trying to figure something out visually is that their field of vision is narrow.   Objects seen the clearest are the ones that fall within a narrow area–the horse tilts his head in order to get as much of an object as possible to that area of his eye.  Basically, all that sudden head movement is really only to help him focus, visually, on the object.

If we understood this monocular vs binocular vision a bit better with our horses, we would have less fear around the rapid head jerk that they do when they see something they cannot identify immediately.  It is only their eyes adjusting to better qualify what has moved in their line of sight.

MOVEMENT

Since the horse is a prey animal, when they see movement, they need to check it out — unless that movement is accompanied by a sound they recognize or if they already understand what created the movement.

So, if the head is down, they will raise their head to use their binocular vision.  And, if the head is already up, they will look directly at the movement and prick their ears.  If they cannot distinguish the movement, they will look to you.  If they are not confident in your leadership, they will fret.  And, if the movement smells bad, they will run.

Movement is a big deal to a prey animal.  The more hours training and desensitizing, the wiser the rider and the mount.

THE ALMIGHTY WIND

Well, dontja just hate riding in the wind?  I especially hate it with a green horse.  In fact, I try to avoid it.

Do you know why they spook in the wind?  Too many things are moving, darn it!  How can a poor horse watch it all when so many things are moving?!  The entire herd gets all whooped up, except the oldies, because they know better.

In my humble opinion, if you have to ride in the wind, take your seasoned mount and sing a lot!

PUDDLES

I know we have been told that horses don’t have depth perception.  This isn’t true.  Theirs is as good as ours.  But, if a puddle is murky, they cannot see the bottom and that is a problem.  Otherwise, maybe they don’t want to get wet or walk on wet rocks.  That myth that they cannot distinguish depth has been maligned scientifically.  When trained to prefer a photo with depth, a horse can pick out the deep images.  For example, if  a trained horses is shown a photo of train tracks going off to infinity or a park bench, he will pick the train tracks every time.  Or, anything else with depth.

NIGHT VISION

“What there is of it is based on anatomical and physiological factors, not behavioral. What we do know is that the equine retina has many more rod receptors than cones, about 9:1. These receptors are responsible for vision in dim light. The eye also contains a tapetum lucidum (the reason eyes of nocturnal animals shine in the dark), which reflects light and enhances the light-gathering properties of the rods. All this indicates good night vision but there may be a hitch. The tapetum lucidum, while increasing sensitivity to dim light, may also, because of light scattering, reduce visual discrimination. Nonetheless, horses are active during the night, grazing, moving about, avoiding obstacles. This gives us a behavioral clue that their scotopic vision is decent.”  by Evelyn B. Hanggi, M.S., Ph.D. I copied that because she said it so well…

Yes, they can see better than us at night.  And yes, that is their actual eyeball that you are seeing reflecting back at you when you are walking around in your nightie to turn off the water…

And, yes, Paul Revere totally relied on his horse.

HEAD SET AND EQUINE VISION

I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t really thought about this… Horses with a dressage type head set cannot see in front of them.  They can see the ground and a few feet beyond, maybe, but they really are depending upon the rider to let them know if they are OK.  So, this may explain why horses are not willing to set their heads without a lot of trust and time.  Also, it tells you why they never hold their heads absolutely vertical when they are on the trail.  They can’t see!

I read about a few crashes in dressage arenas where a few riders were practicing diligently.  However, you gotta wonder what in the heck the riders were doing, eh?  Even if the horse is keeping his head exactly vertical, the rider is supposed to be looking where he is going!  I find this hard to believe but I did see documented cases which were recorded to prove that horses in a vertical headset have marred vision.

RIGHT SIDE VERSUS LEFT

We all have been trained to show the horse whatever you are showing him, on both sides.  Sometimes people say that horses cannot learn something on both sides of their heads at the same time.  Well, that isn’t true.  A horse can “think it through” and understand that whatever happened on the right can happen on the left.

What takes them time, and why you might want to show them things on both sides, is that they cannot turn objects well in their minds – quickly.  For example, if you showed them an odd shaped brush on the right side and then turned it upside down and backward on the left side, they might not recognize it at first.  But, if you showed it to them the same way on both sides, they usually will understand after a few seconds.

Another example is a mailbox or a boulder.   Most horses think these items will eat horses, even if they saw it going down the trail and now we are just going back.  The difference is in the image itself.  Is the thing exactly the same from all angles?  Probably not.  Since horses cannot flip objects or rotate objects in their brains as fast as we can, it takes them a while to recognize the same object from a different angle.  Your patience really helps here.

20/20?

Actually, horses see a bit better than we do.  We are all familiar with the 20/20 thing in humans.  Well, a horse sees 20/30.   A dog sees 20/50, a cat 20/75 and rats see 20/300.   Holy cannoli!

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Back to School… Learning about supplements!






Whew!  The old gray mare just ain’t the student she used to be…

I swear, my mind wanders too easily if I am in front of a computer while listening to a webinar.  I mean, you are in front of your computer, looking at whatever they are teaching you and then your EMAIL pinger dings telling you that you have a new message.

What to do… what to do?!  Should I get that email or just let it sit there?  Arrrgh.  And then you see a banner go across your MSNBC header that tells you Lindsay Lohan is going to JAIL!  Of course, that makes me want to head right over there and check that out (maybe).

You know what I mean…

I’m one of those people whose business is attached strongly to my email so I’m trigger-happy when one comes into my box!  So of course I clicked on the icon which brought me to my mailbox where I proceeded to read and reply to the said email, all the while convincing myself that I was actually still hearing and ingesting the information coming through the webinar.

My trigger

Yeah, well, I’m not that good I found out… as I went back to the webinar after I had finished my email correspondence, my eyes fell upon a slide that said something other than the last thing I’d heard.  Ooops.  Obviously, my peripheral listening is going bad.

Anyway, that realization snapped my back to reality and I focused myself totally and completely on the webinar from that moment onward… honest.

What I did hear from the webinar was really interesting so I’m going to pass it onward to you.

little diagram of a webinar

 

ALPHA OMEGA

The company hosting the webinar was Alpha Omega.   They make natural equine/canine/human health products.

Norma, my donkey, introduced me to them in a round about way.   She had a horrible case of laminitis and one of my readers suggested giving her AntiFlam instead of Banamine for long term use.

Since Banamine is so expensive and bad for the gut over a long period of time, I decided to give it a go with my vet’s blessing.  I went online and ordered a small bottle of AntiFlam to try.

OMG.  The Anti-Flam was very impressive!  Norma was sound when on it and unsound when I took her off of it.  So, to break the cycle and keep her sound as she healed, I used the AntiFlam every day and it worked!  I was very happy.  Norma was very happy.  She is totally sound and no longer needing any medicine.

Of course, being me, I wrote about AntiFlam.

Quite surprising to me, the AntiFlam manufacturers had heard about my blogpost about their product.  And, one of them contacted me to tell me that they’d like to send me several of their herbal products to test.

Hmmmm.  Sure!  I’ll test them.  I won’t guarantee a good review, but I’ll test them.

How fun!!!

I love this! It is incredible!

WHY WEBINAR?

So they sent me a list of all the natural and herbal supplements they were going to send my way…

HOLY CANNOLI, the list was HUGE and I had no idea what each product did or how to use them or anything!  I called them in distress and asked if anyone could coach me on how/why/when/omn whom I should try these products that they were sending to me.

“Sure,” they said, “we have educational live webinars about all of our products, just sign up.”  So, I did.  And, the first one was today.

Some webinars can be so boring but this one was very well executed! Full of info, well presented and not too long.

FULL CIRCLE

Now we are back full circle.  This is where you came in – me listening to the webinar instead of answering my email.

And, I’m telling you about what I learned on this webinar just in case any of this information will benefit you or your horse BEFORE I have the chance to test these particular products.  If these products are anywhere near as good as AntiFlam, they would be well worth a try in my book…

THE WEBINAR

The first thing that was said was, “These are all natural and safe for show testing.”  Good to know.

OK, so the topic of this first webinar that was available to me was “Hormone Health Naturally for Horses”.  When you think of hormones you might think about breeding and then shut off your attention span.  But, really, hormones are the endocrine system and that can effect every part of your body – or your horse’s.  It is like the mail delivery system for nutrients and if it isn’t working, things slow down.

So, the following is what I learned about the Alpha Omega products today.  Again, I haven’t tested any of this so I’m not endorsing them.  But, I am telling you about them because their AntiFlam product is incredible.

LIVER FLUSH

This seemed to be the product I would use first before anything else if your horse seems to be generally dull – lacking in appetite, low energy, rough coat, skin conditions…

You see, the liver is the detoxification center in all of us.  If that is a bit clogged or has a hiccup, the whole body will feel the effects.

So, it would be a good idea to herbally flush the liver and see if that kicks up the activity and helps the body detoxify itself.

BIOTIC-8

Everyone seems to be talking about ProBiotics.  You know, the good bugs in the gut…

Well, what they don’t speak about is how delicate the delivery (so they are still alive after passing through the stomach acid) of probiotics can be.  And, that you have to have a diversity of strains to make it effective. Really, this is the problem with many probiotics – they die in the stomach before they can do any good.

Biotic-8 was described as having 8 widely different strains which are carried to the gut with a flax seed protective vest, so to speak.  So, it delivers the 8 dissimilar probiotics safely and successfully to the hind gut.

The logic here is that when the gut is working well, the body is able to absorb more of the beneficial nutrients in their food.  The horse eliminates better, gains weight more easily, reduces acid in the stomach… all the benefits of good digestion.

So, if you have a horse that is skinny or looks mal-nourishes or has gut issues or inflammatory issues, this is a supplement for them.

ADREN-FX

This is for the horse who has Cushings or Cushings symptoms (cresty neck, won’t shed his coat, shaggy coat, sensitive to sugars, tends to have laminitis, fat pockets…).

They said this was also good for diabetic horses.

I think I will try this with Norma.  She has all the symptoms of Cushings but the tests came back negative.  So, I’ll try this with her when it arrives and we’ll see if she becomes less symptomatic.

MINEREQ

Minere-Q is for highly athletic horses or horses that have a strenuous job.  I helps the muscles and “tying up”.  It is chock full of minerals and muscle support enzymes.

Minereq ingredients... looks GREAT!

I asked if this could be used instead of a Mineral Block.  They said YES, sort of… you still should provide the white salt block but if you feed Minereq, it is a great replacement for the minerals in a mineral block.  And, actually, the minerals/vitamins in Minereq far surpass those blocks which are made for cows, really.

I thought I would try this instead of the mineral block or any other mineral supplement in one of my pastures.  I’d love to see the results.  For me, I’m quite interested in supplementing the mineral and vitamins that may be lacking in my hay or feeds…

PREMARE

This is for the “mare” syndrome.  You know… “witchy”, “crazy”, “unsafe”… all the terms used for mares when they are hormonally effected.

You could use this in conjunction with Regumate if need be.  The instructions say that you should keep the mare on this the entire season and you will definitely see results.

I’ve got alotta mares who could benefit from this, if you know what I mean…  Gwen will be my guinea pig with this one and I’ll be DELIGHTED to try it with her.  Truly, if I could maintain her sunny personality more often, she’d be a different ride for me.  I love her incredibly but she can be a very scary ride if she decides that she is feeling PMSy (Pissy Mare Syndrome).

In fact, I am really excited about Premare!

IN CONCLUSION

Again, I haven’t tried any of these except the AntiFlam.  But, I’m really excited to be the tester for all these products because AntiFlam was so remarkable.  I’ll keep you posted.  But, if you try any of these before I do, please let me know how it goes!

 

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