Really good article on horses and cold... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 43 Old 12-10-2013, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Really good article on horses and cold...

Came across this article. It's really interesting and has more information about the how and why of the horses ability to control it's temp. Includes citation as well so is somewhat scholarly but I didn't check any cites- I'm not that big of a library junky.

I hope someone else might find it insightful.
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post #2 of 43 Old 12-10-2013, 04:29 PM
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This is what I got out of it:
"Blanketing moreover can set the thermoregulation in a horse to a complete mess. The animal tries to warm up parts of the body left exposed to the cold such as head, neck, belly and legs, in the process they become over-heated in those parts covered by the blanket. A horse cannot increase heat in selected area's of the body. The whole body cools or the whole body heats up. Sweating under a blanket is more of a problem metabolically to the horse than people realise."
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post #3 of 43 Old 12-10-2013, 05:28 PM
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I never blanket, but I guess that's just me.
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post #4 of 43 Old 12-10-2013, 05:31 PM
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This sentence "It is important that every domestic horse has unrestricted access to hay 24 hours a day" makes me question the underlying biases of the article, as does:

"they do not need anything more from the human than only to provide keeping conditions that this species is supposed to have by dictate of Nature: freedom of movement 24 hours a day, free access to appropriate food 24 hours a day, herd life, proper hoof care, shelter which it can enter and leave freely. Under human care that respects the horse's natural needs, and provides it doesn't make this animal a subject for anthropomorphism through stabling, changing eating habits, blanketing, clipping, shoeing, etc., the domestic horse is able to properly use its amazing natural thermoregulatory abilities exactly the same way as the wild horse."

I hate to break it to the writer, but lots of horse thrive without 24 hour access to hay, and I doubt shoeing has ANYTHING to do with thermoregulation in horses.

"Hairs of the coat are covered with a greasy substance, which helps the horse not to get wet to the skin on rainy or snowy days.

Yes...well, only to a point. I'm surely not the only owner who has seen his horses get soaked to the skin from long periods of rain. Although mine have plenty of shelter available, I've seen them stand in the misting rain of a winter day until soaked clear thru...and then the night comes and the temperatures plummet.

"Thus, it is a normal seasonal rhythm in the horse to be less exercised in winter due to this cold adaptational thermoregulation mechanism, therefore it is not advisable to forcefully exercise horses in winter." can feed them more during winter. That is what we do. There is no harm in 'forcefully exercising' your horse during winter, provided your feed schedule accounts for both the cold and the work load.

"When allowed free choice, it's been observed that horses utilize enclosed spaces, such as shelters or forests, mostly to hide from summer heat and flies."

Odd. Mine seek shelter more during the winter than during our fly season. Mine seem to largely ignore the 100 deg heat and intense sunlight found in southern Arizona.

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post #5 of 43 Old 12-10-2013, 05:39 PM
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The same author co-wrote this:

"The scientific thesis by Dr. Cook, which conclusively proves the harm of the bit in the horse’s sensitive mouth, has already been in print and available for YEARS, it is however yet to be included in veterinary school syllabus, and is largely unknown by vet professionals. The bit is a foreign body laying on the mucosal tissue and the nerve endings of the jawbone. In the mouth of a horse the presence of this foreign body, alone, triggers the chewing reflex, and the horse starts producing saliva. Influencing this foreign body in different ways via the rider’s hand causes neurological discomfort and pain. We have an amount of photographs documenting the damages caused by bits, starting from bruising up to and including severe tissue trauma of tongue, soft palate and damaged mandibula, problems with teeth. These documented proofs were published in scientific magazines and to date remain unopposed, yet veterinarians still do not use this knowledge in their practice and do not educate horse owners regarding this problem."

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Another article at the website says, "EVERY horse ridden without natural free collection or longer than 15 minutes a day suffers pain."

I would not put a lot of stock in the articles at the website.

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post #6 of 43 Old 12-10-2013, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
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Some of the exact passages you criticized made me more interested and provided me with more reassurance in the authors knowledge. Difference of opinion I guess!

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post #7 of 43 Old 12-10-2013, 11:36 PM
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• Horses: 4 you believe eating 24 hours a day is important, and horses fed 2-3 times a day suffer from it? You can believe what you want, but that theory doesn't stand up against the reality of millions of horses who live in that manner with no sign of difficulty. No colic, no cribbing, no sign of pain.

Same for bits, or the idea that any riding causes a horse pain within 15 minutes. It just does not match the reality I see around me. My mare has no problem with telling me she has pain, yet she is ridden regularly - and with a curb bit. In fact, her back is stronger now than when she was not being ridden - which IS a common side effect of exercise!

Maybe you have not seen a horse soaked to the skin. I have, and often - and not because no shelter was provided However, in freezing weather, they all huddle together in the shelter, which the article says they won't do. They do NOT do that in the summer, when the article says they should.

Facts are stubborn things.

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post #8 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 12:17 AM
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I think that gray waxy coating is covering their skin as well. I have had my hands and nails covered in it, like I had gray paint on my hands, if you rub it, it comes off in balls.

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post #9 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 01:56 AM
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bsms, I'm glad you've found a way that suits to you and maybe your horses, but the reality is - horses ARE trickle feeders. They need to be fed as little and as often as possible, and the best way is - 24/7 access to forage. They, of course, don't eat 24/7, they sleep, play, rest, groom, drink and roam as well, but they need to be able to eat when they feel they have to. That's just how their built, and ask that to any respectable horse nutritionist - they'll tell you the same. Yes, horses can learn to cope. Yes, they may seem fine and be, in fact, rather fine. Many horses even survive and can be worked to high competitive results while being fed just minimum amount of forage and huge amounts of grains - a diet absolutely not suitable for a horses' natural needs. Also, we don't supervise them 24/7, so we may leave unseen many small bouts of colic or just minor intestinal discomfort, with which the horse copes because he knows no better. That's also how they're built - prone not to show a weakness, especially, a minor one. That's the instinct of survival. I, however, feel better if I know that my horse is free to choose - when and how many forage he eats. He thrives and is so much, much better than when he was fed limited amounts on set times!

As for the article, I completely agree with it. My experience over the last years, which includes transitioning a horse from stabled life to 24/7 outside, unrugged, shows me I've done the right decisions.

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post #10 of 43 Old 12-11-2013, 02:52 AM
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There are multiple reasons why a horse cannot have free choice access to forage (hay) 24/7. Mine, for one, has metabolic issues and needs monitored feed intake. We try to feed often and make the feed last as long as possible, but he will never be able to graze/eat hay 24/7 anymore. That beong said, this is not a result of stabling or other "unnatural" husbandry. He has never been stabled or fed grain in his life, and he HAS had free access to hay in winters before he was diagnosed, which has only contributed to the problem.
It's really not all that hard - I let my horse grow in a big fuzzy winter coat in fall and leave him unblanketed in normal weather, but still help out when it gets really cold (we have temps of -25C and lower on a regular basis here). You can see when they're cold, and that's when the blankie goes on.

As for the "bits are evil and a horse should only be ridden 15 min per day" theory, that sounds remarkably like that Russian guy Nevzorov (Nevzorow's Haute Ecole)
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