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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

7 Signs That Your Horse's Teeth May Be Causing Problems

                                              1. Difficulty in chewing
                                              2. Quidding (dropping food)
                                              3. Loss of appetite
                                              4. Swellings on the jaw
                                              5. Abrasions on the tongue or gums
                                              6. Loss of condition
                                              7. Poor performance

Monday, 29 August 2011

Plants that are poisonous to horses - UK

Oak (& acorns)
Ground Ivy
Deadly Nightshade
lesser Celandine
Greater Celendine
St Johns Wort
Water Dropwort
Purple Milk Vetch
Lesser Periwinkle
Meadow Saffron
Daffodil bulbs
Hyacinth bulbs
Snowdrop bulbs
Bluebell bulbs

Sunday, 28 August 2011

What people say about the BHS Horse Owners Certificate

"I found it very worthwhile"

"for those who are planning on getting a horse of their own it's a pretty good starting place"

"full of practical stuff that you need to know to make the transition between once a week rider and horse owner"

"very informative and taught me a lot that I didn't know"

"a great way fro people to get basic knowledge but can work out rather expensive at over £200 per level"

Have you taken the BHS Horse Owners Certificate courses at any level? If so please feel free to add your own opinion in the comments.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Are you confident you know how to care for your horse - BHS Horse Owners Certificate

Becoming a horse owner is the dream of many once a week riders and pony mad youngsters alike but when that dream comes true it can often turn into confusion, trepidation and even fear. Owning your own horse or pony, being completely responsible for it's well being, is a whole lot different to going to the stables to ride once a week even if you do stay behind to help out after.

It's a good idea to prepare for horse ownership before actually taking the plunge and one way of doing this is to take a horse care course. One such course is the British Horse Societies Horse Owners Certificate:

"The Horse Owner's Certificates are offered at four levels of knowledge with regard to the care and management of the horse and are specifically aimed at the first time horse owner, parent of horse owners or potential owners. Each level will be assessed in the form of a written paper, which should be completed under examination conditions with an adjudicator present.

Courses may be held anywhere, but the person who takes overall responsibility for the training and the course must be a member of the BHS Register of Instructors. During the course the instructor will follow the syllabus appropriate for each of the levels. Candidates can also purchase books to accompany the course through the BHS Bookshop.

The examination papers will be set and marked by the registered instructor in charge of the course. The pass mark for each Level is 60 percent and successful candidates will receive a certificate for each level attained. All certificates will be sent to the instructor, who will forward them. "

Level 1 consists of:

Knowledge of horse types, uses,colours and markings.
Elementary stable management.
Knowledge of care and maintenance required to keep a horse healthy and comfortable in the stable.
Stable routine and safety in the stable. Safe handling of both horse and equipment necessary for his well being.
Identification of items of tack in common use and naming the parts.
Basic care of tack. Ability to take apart, inspect for safety and re-assemble.
Reasons and principles of grooming. Knowledge of the items in a grooming kit and their use.
basic knowledge of shoeing and care of the foot.
Recognition of signs of health and ill health and when to call the vet. Temperature, pulse, respiration and signs of health.
Preventative treatments - worming, flu-vac etc. A basic knowledge of the need to vacinate and worm.
Elementary principles of watering and feeding. Rules of feeding and watering.
A knowledge of buying a horse. Points to look for. The need for a vet to access the horse before purchase.
Elementary rules for preparing ahorse for a ride, riding ot on the roads, returning from a ride, riding dress.

Level 2:

The reasons for shoeing and recognition of when shoeing or re-shoeing is required. A knowledge of the basic structure of the foot. Farrier's tools and how to use. How to remove a shoe in an emergency.
Recognition of common injuries and basic first aid. Arresting bleeding and treatments for different types of wounds.
Knowledge of feeding and watering the stabled horse and the horse at grass. Feeding in all seasons. Feeding for light work.
Care and maintenance of grassland. To include the maintenance of fences, gates, shelter,watering etc. care and improvement of the grassland to include knowledge of harmful weeds and their control.
The care of saddlery, to include inspection for soundness of saddles. Aknowledge of fitting and the use of most items of equipment ie. martingales, breastplates,boots etc.
The necessity of insurance to cover all aspects of the horse and its use.
Stable routine for two horses.To include all the extra jobs that need to be undertaken eg. drains, guttering, paintwork, cleanliness of yard etc.
Bedding. A knowledge of different types of bedding and their management. To include different systems eg. deep litter.
The Highway Code.
The Country Code,including the correct and courteous use of bridleways.

Level 3:

The recognition, treatment and care of commoninjuries and ailments, further to Level 2.
Changes from management in the stable to amnagement at grass and vice-versa.The procedures for getting a horse up from a period at grass eg. teeth, worming etc and the procedures for roughing-off a horse.
Clipping, trimming, plaiting.
Care and maintenance of horse transport, to include both horse boxes and trailers. A knowledge of the law regarding the transit of horses.Weight ratios for trailers and legal requirement with regard to towing. Preparation of the horse for travel. A knowledge of the equipment needed with regard to the length of journey and climatic conditions.
The care of the horse trekking and in competitive events.
Understand fitness and condition and maintenance of both.
Knowlege of good and bad stable construction. Different types of stabling. basic requirements of planning regulations. Layout of stable yard to include handling and disposal of the muck heap.
Knowledge of horse clothing and bandaging.Care and maintenance of both.
Recognition of good and bad forage. Knowledge of different grasses found in hay samples and ability to identify weeds and poor grasses.
Have a working knowledge of the costs involved in keeping a horse.
Have a knowledge of the activities of the:
The British Horse Society
Riding Clubs
The Pony Club

Level 4:

Knowledge of the main systems in a horse.(respiration, reproduction, digetive, immune etc) their function and common problems asscoiated withthese systems (COPD, Colic etc.)
Knowledge of various grasses, conditions of growth and beneficial properties. Procedures for improving pasture ie. drainage, cross-grazing, re-seeding, fertilisers etc. Haymaking, types and methods.
Vitamins / Minerals - difference between them and why they might be deficient in the diet. Name main vitamins / minerals and their uses. Weigts and types of feed available for : Riding School Horses, Hunters, Competion Horses etc.
Knowledge of the structure of the tooth and ageing characteristics.Description of structure of the mouth and common problems that may result from poor conformation of this.
name and structure of different types of remedial shoes.Give description of the condition under which these shoes may be used and the way in which they affect improvement / relief.
List the basic principles of sick nursing and the resons / conditions for implementing these. describe the way in which these principles may help to reduce the severity of a condition / injury and any problems that may arise as a result.
outline the basic principles of fitting varios saddles, (dressage, jumping, cross country, general purpose) and bridles (snaffle, double bridle). Describe the uses of specifc "bits" and gagets, (draw reins, balancing reins, Market Harborough, De Gouge etc) and the way in which they work.
List common stable vices and their possible causes. Also suggest ways to stop such vices and preventative steps that can be taken to limit these.
A general knowledge of The BHS and its Departments, Structure etc. awareness of The BHS qualifications system and the BHS register of Instructors.
Action to be taken in the event of an accident.Aknowledge of RIDDOR and legal obligations of an instructor.

"If you are interested in taking the Horse Owner’s Certificates you can contact an Instructor who is on the Register of Instructors, those running courses are prefixed by (H).

You can also contact a BHS Approved Centre, a local Agricultural College, riding centre or local education authority to see if they are running an evening course.

A candidate’s information pack is available from the BHS Examinations Department on request.
Please contact or call 0844 848 1666 for more information"

Monday, 15 August 2011

How to build your own cavelleti

You'll find detailed instructions on how to build your own classic wooden cross cavalleti on the Texas Horseman's Directory.

For cavelleti that look a bit more like the polyjump multiblock plastic block you'll find full instructions at Home Insight Woodworking with APMonte!

There are also instructions  for making both wooden cavelletti and cavelletti from PVC pipes on ehow but there are no diagrams or photographs.

If you've come across any good instructions for DIY cavelleti or have any good ideas yourself please feel free to share by leaving a comment.

Homemade show jumps - oil barrels

 Empty oil barrels have always made useful jumps, poles can be rested on the barrels or the barrels themselves can be jumped.

Now an innovative design, barrel jump cups, makes them even more useful. The barrel jump cups are a triple jump cup bracket to fit on the lip of oil drums giving seperate heights under pole of 97cm (38"), 71cm (28") and 46cm (18").  They are of solid steel construction with no sharp edges and they come with one wall bracket.

The price seems to vary from around £18.00 up to £25.00 + p & P so it's worth searching online to find the best deal you can.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Hanging Plank Jumps - make your own

Planks for showjumps complete with fittings can cost up to £35.00 (and even more) each, so making your own is a real money saving exercise, especially if you have access to scrap wood but do make sure it hasn't got splinters, nails etc and is sturdy enough not to smash if hit.
These plastic coated metal fittings are called plank brackets and they enable you to make your own showjump planks with timber up to 38mm thick. They are available from a large number of internet retailers but we've found Robinsons to be the cheapest at £6.65 a pair.

Early symptoms of Colic - video

Colic, abdominal pain, is dreaded by all horse owners as it can become severe leading to death. Being able to spot the early symptoms of colic is essential to prevent things escalting and going badly wrong.

There is a useful video on the Petplan Equine website that is well worth a look at, here is the link :

Friday, 12 August 2011

H2Go Barrow Bag

The H2Go Barrow Bag looks like a really useful piece of equipment to have if you have to barrow water any distance. It is designed to carry up to 80 litres of water in a wheelbarrow so it's a real boon to those who don't have easy access to taps, hoses etc.

Lots of tack shops are now stocking the H2Go Barrow Bag and it can also be easily found to purchase online from various sources for around £10.00

Thursday, 11 August 2011

How to find a Farrier

As a new horse owner you'll need to find yourself a farrier, your horse or pony will need to have their hooves trimmed / re-shod every 6 to 8 weeks depending on how quickly they grow.

There are lots of farriers out there to chose from, most have vans and travel to you. A good place to start looking for a farrier who covers your area is The Farriers Registration Council website. Click on Find a Farrier, agree to terms and you'll be sent to a search page where you can enter your town, postcode etc to find a farrier who covers your area.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Basic Rules of Feeding Horses

Feed little and often.
Feed at regular times
Make any feeding changes gradual
Do not feed immediately before work
Water must be available at all times
Keep feeding utensils clean
Do not disturb a horse while feeding
Always dampen feed
No feed should be larger tha 4lb (1.8kg)
Feed good quality feed and forage in the correct proportions

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Ragwort FAQ

Is Ragwort Poisonous?

Yes Ragwort is a poisonous plant. Ragwort contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids compounds that are poisonous to most animals. When Ragwort is eaten it is changed by the intestines and then broken down by the liver, the breakdown products formed in the liver are toxic, it is damage to liver cells that can, if sufficient ragwort is consumed  be cumulative to the point of death.

How toxic is Ragwort?

Ragwort contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are poisonous when eaten, these alkaloids do not accumulate in the body but they do cause liver damage if consumed in very large doses or over a period of time. It is the damage to the liver that kills. Scientific research has shown that a horse or pony would need to consume between 5 % and 25% of it's own body weight in Ragwort to succomb to Ragwort poisioning.

Will my horse die if it has eaten Ragwort?

Eating Ragwort can lead to incurable liver damage and death however a horse would need to eat a considerable amount (see How toxic is Ragwort) before this happened so if you keep your fields free of Ragwort and make sure you feed good quality Ragwort free forage this is unlikely to happen.

Will my horse eat Ragwort?

It doesn't taste good so most equines will avoid eating Ragwort in the field although some do develop a taste for it and they may eat it if there is nothing else to eat. The real danger is when Ragwort is cut and dried, it becomes much more palatable. So always make sure you keep any plants or leaves that you've removed out of reach and make sure your hay / haylage is Ragwort free.

Is Ragwort poisionous to humans?

Not unless you plan on eating it! It's the pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can cause liver damage but these are not toxic unless consumed. Occasionally some people will have an allergic reaction to Ragwort that causes dermatitis so if your're worried about this wear gloves when handling Ragwort.

I've read that there are 6,500 horse deaths a year from Ragwort poisioning is this true?

No there is no evidence to substantiate the claim that 6,500 horses die each year from Ragwort poisioning and  the Advertising Standards Authority who regulate advertisements in the UK have stopped companies selling ragwort related products from using this figure.

How many horses die of Ragwort poisioning?

There have been 10 confirmed deaths by Ragwort poisioning between 2005 and 2010.

Is it true that landowners have to remove Ragwort by law?

No there is no legislation that states that landowners must remove Ragwort from their land this misconception arises from the fact that Ragwort is classed as an "injurious" weed and thus covered by the Weeds Act 1959.

"(1) Where the minister of Agriculture fish and food (in this act referred to as ' the Minister') is satisfied that there are injurious weeds to which this act applies growing upon any land he may serve upon the occupier of the land a notice, to take such action as may be necessary to prevent the weeds from spreading."

My nieghbour has Ragwort on their land and I don't want it spreading to mine what can I do?

Firstly speak to them about your concerns and ask if they will remove it if necessary you could ask for permission to remove it yourself. If this fails you can report the matter to Defra using the following complaint form on the DEFRA website: Weeds Act 1959 - Complaint Form (WEED2/WEED2A). they will then access the risk and decide if it is necessary to issue the landowner with an order to remove the ragwort.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

How to remove Ragwort from your paddock

As responsible horse owners we all need to keep our horse's grazing / turnout free from Ragwort, you'll need a Ragwort fork which can be bought from most tack shops or feed merchants, they are also readily available online for about £20.00, just search ragwort fork.

Ragwort forks are very easy to use they have been specifically developed to remove this pernicious weed quickly and easily, without the use of chemicals, they  remove the whole plant including the roots, reducing the possibility for re-growth

All you need to do is place the fork near to the plant, put your foot on the ragwort fork bar and press down into the rootball of the plant then dig it out.

To dispose of the uprooted plant, put it into a paper sack and leave somewhere safe where your horse / pony or other livestock cannot get to it and leave it for a few days to wilt. It can then be burnt, if you try to burn it whilst it is still fresh it will produce a horrible smoke.


You should always wear gloves when handling ragwort as some people have an allergic reaction to it.


Need help identifying Ragwort, then scroll down to our earlier posts Do you know how to identify Ragwort? and How to Recognise Ragwort.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Do you know how to identify Ragwort?

 Do you know how to identify the poison plant Ragwort?
Here are a few photographs to help aid identification, you can left click on the photographs to enlarge them.


Ragwort flower buds.

 Ragwort flowers.

Ragwort flowers.

Now let's try a little test, look at the following photographs and spot the Ragwort, you'll find the answers at the bottom of the post.

 Fig. 1







Answers: Ragwort can be found in Fig.2, 4 & 6.

Scroll down to the previous post, How to recognise Ragwort, to see more photographs that will aid with the identification of Ragwort.

Monday, 1 August 2011

How to recognise Ragwort

(Photograph courtesy My Equestrian World)

Most of us realise that Ragwort needs to be eliminated from our horse's pasture due to the risk of poisoning . It's a noxious weed that quickly grows from the small "rosette" above to the tall flowering plant pictued below. In this post we're going to show you lots of photographs of the Ragwort plant to help aid in indentification.


Identification can sometimes be hindered when the plant has been stripped by caterpillars

 however if you see these stripey little caterpillars munching their way through a plant it's more than likely Ragwort, the Cinnabar Moth's caterpillars favourite food.

The Ragwort plant grows in a cirular cluster of leaves often described as a rosette,

(Photograph courtesy My Equestrian World)

as the Ragwort grows the leaves become wavier, as you can see in the photographs the adult leaves below are quite different to those of the young plant above.

The daisy like yellow flowers  appear from May to October

and if allowed to go to seed each plant can produce 150,000 seeds, with a 70% germination rate. 

 Ragwort seeds can lie dormant in the ground for as long as 20 years.

So it's importnat to remove Ragwort from your pasture before it goes to seed, ideally at the rosette stage.