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Need Help With Your Horse? When To Turn To The Vet, Farrier, The Nutrition Specialist and Facebook

Let's face it... every horse owners needs help with their horse from time to time. It is impossible to know everything about everything, and still keep up with current practices in horse health and husbandry. While some things stay the same, new advances create opportunities for more education. Also, there is something to be said for experience as well.

When things go right with a horse, owner's tend to live in a rosy bubble and sometimes that may cloud the things that are truly of concern. This bubble often exists because of limited basic knowledge, denial, or misinformation. When the bubble bursts and the horse is not right, then what is an owner to do? Who do YOU turn to? The Vet, The Farrier, The Nutrition Specialist or Facebook Groups? Or perhaps you need to take a course? Let's examine some of the choices and see which ones are appropriate in different scenarios.

1. My horse has suddenly come up lame: Call the Vet and Call the Farrier. Not Facebook Groups or The Nutritionist. Anything of a "sudden" nature should have the vet involved immediately to provide an examination, and possibly medications. The reason for the lameness needs to be addressed and confirmed by the Vet. Sometimes the reason for the lameness may be attributed to a fresh trim or new shoes. The Farrier in this case should be called as soon as possible to make any corrections. Work with both the Vet and the Farrier (if related to hoof trims) for these circumstances. Why not Facebook Groups? The horse may require an assessment and pertinent questions need to be asked, and a physical exam may be necessary. This is outside the scope of a Facebook Group. If hoof related a Farrier needs to be called in. If the horse is lame because of trimming that you do (and don't use a Farrier), the vet still may have to be called. If you are concerned that your trimming has led to the lameness, then a knowledgeable Facebook Group specific to hoof trimming may be of assistance in order to make corrections to your practice. But still consult with the Vet as the Vet may also have experience in hoof care and trimming.

2. My horse has suddenly dropped weight in the past couple of weeks: Call the Vet. Anything of a "sudden" nature should be attended immediately by the Vet. This may not necessarily be a nutrition issue but a health concern, including getting teeth checked. The Vet will be able to properly assess and diagnose the problem, and advise on treatment. Secondary to this, the horse may need a specialized feed program in which case a Nutrition Specialist should be contacted and will develop a nutrition program based on the diagnosis of the Vet. Facebook Groups should not be the first choice, as this could be a medical emergency and Facebook Groups do not assess, diagnose issues and do not provide recommendations for treatment. The exception being if there is no vet available, there is a Facebook Group that has only qualified Veterinarians providing advice.

3. My horse is suddenly off it's feed... Call the Vet. This may be as a result of colic or ulcers, or something else that requires the attention of the Vet. Following the exam and diagnosis, it may be wise to contact the Nutrition Specialist to correct any diet issues, and to provide recommendations, based on a detailed assessment of the horse, diet and management practices. The Nutrition Specialist often works in conjunction with the Vet and Owner to provide an optimal plan and to prevent future occurrences. Facebook groups provide general recommendations only, and not specific to your horse's needs. Without a detailed assessment by a specialist/vet, it is difficult to provide appropriate advice in most circumstances.

4. My horse has lost its shine and does not look thrifty since I took him off of pasture; My horse is over/under weight and I need help with his diet; My horse is losing top-line since winter started; I have increased the exercise level for my horse - can the nutrition program I have for him keep up? .... Call the Nutrition Specialist. In most cases, scenarios like this involve the Nutrition Specialist only, however if there is any question on any underlying conditions that might create these symptoms then it would be wise to contact the Vet as a precaution. The detailed assessment by the Nutritionist helps to evaluate the circumstance and provide optimal solutions for diet and management. It is an opportunity for you to ask specific questions and learn from the assessment. Many times the solution lies in balancing the diet and correcting deficiencies and excesses. Working with a Nutrition Specialist will give you a quick plan to follow if time is of essence. If these types of questions surface regularly and you find that your Nutrition Knowledge is lacking, then take a COURSE in Equine Nutrition to learn the full scope of the factors that influence a horse's diet. Courses are available online at Why Facebook Groups don't work for this scenario? Too much information based on personal experience that may not be right or apply to your horse, leaving you confused on what to try next with your horse. Facebook Groups do not do a proper assessment of your horse and management before providing advice. Also, the information you provide to the group may be inaccurate or not take into account other pertinent factors that may need to be considered. Facebook Groups are good for general information but not specific to your horse.

5. I got a new horse but not sure what to feed him? My mare is pregnant but not sure what to feed her? I have a young horse that is still growing; What are the special diet requirements for a Senior Horse? Call the Vet and the Nutrition Specialist, or take a course in Equine Nutrition. Scenarios change with horses depending on what life stage they are in. It is always good to have the horse checked over first by the Vet to make sure the horse is healthy and there is no underlying conditions that may influence a diet. The Nutrition Specialist will help you set up your horse with the optimal diet to meet changing needs. This would be a great time also to take a course in Equine Nutrition to understand what all the nutrients are about, and how they influence horse health regardless of their stage in life.

6. My horse's hooves are cracked, there is some thrush and they are not looking very healthy. Sometimes she is ouchy on them. Call the Farrier and the Nutrition Specialist. Poor hooves are often attributed to a combination of good hoof trimming needed, a complete and balanced diet needed, and environmental factors. Between the Farrier and the Nutrition Specialist, problems like these are often resolved successfully. Why Facebook Groups don't work? Again, this is a specific problem to your horse. Your Farrier and Nutrition Specialist will do a detailed assessment to give you the best possible plan to resolve these issues as quickly as possible for your horse. If you rely on inaccurate information, general information without an assessment, or solutions that worked for other horses, then the results may be poor and inappropriate for your horse. And it may make the problem even worse, while wasting time and money.

7. I am looking for a new blanket for my horse but don't know what to buy? I am looking for a trainer for my horse; What is the best fencing to use? What size stall should I build for my 16h horse? What bedding is the best? What are pasturing options for horses? Any saddle fitters out there? Are there any Farriers in my area? Use Facebook Groups! These are all excellent questions for Groups where you need others to advise or provide some recommendations. These are general questions and usually apply to tack, horse equipment, stable management, etc. This is where experience from others is very helpful.

8. How do I chose the right hay for my horse? How to I get my hay analyzed? How do I interpret results from an analysis? What does "balancing" mean? Take a course in Equine Nutrition or work with an Equine Nutrition Specialist. While some of these questions may be general in nature, what is available to you specifically for hay, and what is best for your horse is sometimes best answered by a Specialist. However once you take a course, you will be able to quickly make decisions for future purchases and balancing your horse's diet yourself. You can ask these questions in Facebook Groups but not all the information may be given to you to make the best possible decisions for your horse.

9. I am considering letting my horse go barefoot from shoes, does my horse need boots? Talk to your Farrier and Facebook Groups. You may also have to consult a Nutrition Specialist to be sure the horse is getting proper nutrients to support strong healthy hooves. This is a common scenario especially for winter weather. Talk to your Farrier so that shoes can be removed and a barefoot trim applied. Facebook Groups are great for making recommendations for boots, and helping with transitioning horses to barefoot mode. The Nutrition Specialist will make sure the diet is complete to make hooves strong.

10. My horse appears healthy and well fed. Does my horse (and me) still need help? Absolutely! You still need your team of Vet, Farrier, Nutrition Specialist, and Facebook Groups! Your team will help to keep your horse healthy and happy on a regular basis, and catch any problems as soon as they begin to surface early. The vet will provide annual examinations, teeth check ups, vaccinations, etc. The Farrier will keep the hooves in great shape and make recommendations for keeping them healthy. The Nutrition Specialist will help the horse nutritionally to adapt to changing conditions like seasons, and exercise levels. And also help you with some management issues such as muddy seasons or winter conditions. The Facebook Groups will help you with all the little things you need to know and what to buy on your tack shopping trips! Owning a horse takes team work even when your horse is healthy and fit.

Beyond this initial team lies other practitioners such as Massage Therapists and Chiropractors. They are just as necessary to consider when it comes to specific problems. Choosing the right person for the right job is extremely important when problems arise with horses, as many scenarios require quick responses. Just the same as you would not rely on a Farrier to provide advice and solutions for Colic treatment, you would not use Facebook Groups for answers to a nutritional program for your horse. Most issues will often require a full assessment of some kind, requiring you to answer many questions about the horse and history. These questions are necessary to reach the best possible solution, Getting a "quick" answer without a proper assessment is not necessarily a solution. In the end, we as horse owners, look for solutions that will provide our horse with health and comfort, when we ourselves do not have the answers. At the same time, we need to be very mindful on who we ask or where we go to find the answers: if the problem is specific to your horse, then you require the help of a specialist. If the question is general in nature or you are looking for recommendations, Facebook Groups are great for that or even a google search for articles. Keeping this perspective not only saves you some confusion and time, but rather, will keep the focus directly on your horse, and will lead to much better outcomes!

Interested in taking the next step in your horse's nutrition? Do you need help in determining the best combination? Send an email to and share your story!


Jean Klosowicz, Equine Nutrition Consultant & Educator

Superior Equine Health and Nutrition Inc.

Bruce Mines, ON

fb: @SuperiorEquine


Healthy Horses. Happy Owners. Superior Results!

Superior Equine Health and Nutrition Inc. ~

The articles contained in this column are for the purpose of education and are not intended to take the place of proper veterinary care. They may be used in conjunction with such care to facilitate healing and maintain health of the horse.

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