1.My prezi.
2.Another prezi.
4.Horses history.
5.Sport of horses
6.Feeding the performance horse.
7.Rare horses breeds.
8.Horse sense.
9.Videos of horses.
10.Pictures of horses.




The modern domesticated horse (Equus caballus) is today spread throughout the world and among the most diverse creatures on the planet. In North America, the horse was part of the megafaunal extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene. Two wild subspecies survived until recently, the Tarpan (Equus ferus ferus, died out ca 1919) and Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii, of which there are a few left).
Horse history, especially the timing of the domestication of the horse, is still being debated, partly because the evidence for domestication itself is debatable. Unlike other animals, criteria such as changes in body morphology (horses are extremely diverse) or the location of a particular horse outside of its "normal range" (horses are very widespread) are not useful in helping resolve the question.

Horse History and the Evidence for Horse Domestication

The earliest possible hints for domestication would be the presence of what appear to be a set of postmolds with lots of animal dung within the area defined by the posts, which scholars interpret as representing a horse pen. That evidence has been found at Krasni Yar in Kazakhstan, in portions of the site dating to as early as 5000 BC. The horses may have been kept for food and milk, rather than riding or load-bearing.
Accepted archaeological evidence of horseback riding includes bit wear on horse teeth--that has been found in the steppes east of the Ural mountains at Botai and Kozhai 1 in modern Kazakhstan, around 3500-3000 BC. The bit wear was only found on a few of the teeth in the archaeological assemblages, which might suggest that a few horses were ridden to hunt and collect wild horses for food and milk consumption. Finally, the earliest direct evidence of the use of horses as beasts of burden--in the form of drawings of horse-drawn chariots--is from Mesopotamia, about 2000 BC.

Horse History and Genetics

Genetic data, interestingly enough, has traced all extant domesticated horses to one founder stallion, or to closely related male horses with the same Y haplotype. At the same time, there is a high matrilineal diversity in both domestic and wild horses. At least 77 wild mares would be required to explain the diversity of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in current horse populations, which probably means quite a few more.
A 2012 study (Warmuth and colleagues) combining archaeology, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-chromosomal DNA supports the domestication of horse as occurring once, in the western part of the Eurasian steppe, and that because of the horse's wild natures, several repeated introgression events (restocking of horse populations by adding wild mares), must have occurred. As identified in earlier studies, that would explain the diversity of mtDNA.

Three Strands of Evidence for Domesticated Horses

In a paper published in Science in 2009, Alan K. Outram and colleagues looked at three strands of evidence supporting horse domestication at Botai culture sites: shin bones, milk consumption, and bitwear. These data support domestication of the horse between about 3500-3000 BC sites in what is today Kazakhstan.
Horses skeletons at Botai Culture sites have gracile metacarpals. The horses' metacarpals-the shins or cannon bones-are used as key indicators of domesticity. For whatever reason (and I won't speculate here), shins on domestic horses are thinner--more gracile--than those of wild horses. Outram et al. describe the shinbones from Botai as being closer in size and shape to those of Bronze age (fully domesticated) horses compared to wild horses.
Fatty lipids of horse milk were found inside of pots. Although today it seems a bit weird to westerners, horses were kept for both their meat and milk in the past--and still are in the Kazakh region as you can see from the photograph above. Evidence of horse milk was found at Botai in the form of fatty lipid residues on the insides of ceramic vessels; further, evidence for consumption of horse meat has been identified at Botai culture horse and rider burials.
Bit wear is in evidence on horse teeth. Researchers noted bitting wear on horses' teeth--a vertical strip of wear on the outside of horses' premolars, where the metal bit damages the enamel when it sits between the cheek and tooth. Recent studies (Bendrey) using scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis found microscopic-sized fragments of iron embedded on Iron Age horse teeth, resulting from metal bit use.

White Horses and History

White horses have had a special place in ancient history-according to Herodotus, they were held as sacred animals in the Achaemenid court of Xerxes the Great (ruled 485-465 BC).
White horses are associated with the Pegasus myth, the unicorn in the Babylonian myth of Gilgamesh, Arabian horses, Lipizzaner stallions, Shetland ponies, and Icelandic pony populations.

The Thoroughbred Gene

A recent DNA study (Bower et al.) examined the DNA of Thoroughbred racing horses, and identified the specific allele which drives their speed and precocity. Thoroughbreds are a specific breed of horse, all of whom today are descended from the children of one of three foundation stallions: Byerley Turk (imported to England in the 1680s), Darley Arabian (1704) and Godolphin Arabian (1729). These stallions are all of Arab, Barb and Turk origin; their descendants are from one of only 74 British and imported mares. Horse breeding histories for Thoroughbreds have been recorded in the General Stud Book since 1791, and the genetic data certainly support that history.
Horse races in the 17th and 18th centuries ran 3,200-6,400 meters (2-4 miles), and horses were usually five or six years old. By the early 1800s, the Thoroughbred was bred for traits that enabled speed and stamina over distances from 1,600-2,800 meters at three years of age; since the 1860s, the horses have been bred for shorter races (1,000-1400 meters) and younger maturity, at 2 years.
The genetic study looked at the DNA from hundreds of horses and identified the gene as C type myostatin gene variant, and came to the conclusion that this gene originated from a single mare, bred to one of the three founder male horses about 300 years ago. See Bower et al for additional information.


For information on white horses, see White Horses and Genetics and More about White Horses.
This article is part of the About.com Guide to the History of Animal Domestication.
Bendrey R. 2012. From wild horses to domestic horses: a European perspective. World Archaeology 44(1):135-157.
Bendrey R. 2011. Identification of metal residues associated with bit-use on prehistoric horse teeth by scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(11):2989-2994.
Bower MA, McGivney BA, Campana MG, Gu J, Andersson LS, Barrett E, Davis CR, Mikko S, Stock F, Voronkova V et al. 2012. The genetic origin and history of speed in the Thoroughbred racehorse. Nature Communications 3(643):1-8.
Brown D, and Anthony D. 1998. Bit Wear, Horseback Riding and the Botai Site in Kazakstan.Journal of Archaeological Science 25(4):331-347.
Cassidy R. 2009. The horse, the Kyrgyz horse and the ‘Kyrgyz horse’. Anthropology Today25(1):12-15.
Jansen T, Forster P, Levine MA, Oelke H, Hurles M, Renfrew C, Weber J, Olek, and Klaus. 2002.Mitochondrial DNA and the origins of the domestic horse. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99(16):10905–10910.
Levine MA. 1999. Botai and the origins of horse domestication. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 18(1):29-78.
Ludwig A, Pruvost M, Reissmann M, Benecke N, Brockmann GA, Castaños P, Cieslak M, Lippold S, Llorente L, Malaspinas A-S et al. 2009. Coat Color Variation at the Beginning of Horse Domestication. Science 324:485.
Kavar T, and Dovc P. 2008. Domestication of the horse: Genetic relationships between domestic and wild horses. Livestock Science 116(1):1-14.
Outram AK, Stear NA, Bendrey R, Olsen S, Kasparov A, Zaibert V, Thorpe N, and Evershed RP. 2009. The Earliest Horse Harnessing and Milking. Science 323:1332-1335.
Outram AK, Stear NA, Kasparov A, Usmanova E, Varfolomeev V, and Evershed RP. 2011.Horses for the dead: funerary foodways in Bronze Age Kazakhstan. Antiquity 85(327):116-128.
Sommer RS, Benecke N, Lõugas L, Nelle O, and Schmölcke U. 2011. Holocene survival of the wild horse in Europe: a matter of open landscape? Journal of Quaternary Science 26(8):805-812.
Rosengren Pielberg G, Golovko A, Sundström E, Curik I, Lennartsson J, Seltenhammer MH, Drum T, Binns M, Fitzsimmons C, Lindgren G et al. 2008. A cis-acting regulatory mutation causes premature hair graying and susceptibility to melanoma in the horse. Nature Genetics40:1004-1009.
Warmuth V, Eriksson A, Bower MA, Barker G, Barrett E, Hanks BK, Li S, Lomitashvili D, Ochir-Goryaeva M, Sizonov GV et al. 2012. Reconstructing the origin and spread of horse domestication in the Eurasian steppe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early edition.

Show jumping is a form of competition in which horses are jumped over a course of fences, low walls, and other obstacles (e.g., water-filled ditches or troughs). Show jumping is a competitive sport consisting of many elements. The course is pre-arranged; the event may be timed or untimed. It is scored by a judge or panel of judges. Show jumping or "jumpers" is a member of a family of English-discipline equestrian events that includes hunters and equitation. Events that include these sports are called hunter/jumper horse shows.

external image equestrian_show_jumping_portofino.jpg

Grand Prix show jumping


There are four types of jumping disciplines: Hunter, Equitation, Jumper(show jumping), and Stadium Jumping Courses (with combined three day eventing). In a Hunter style course, courses are designed for a smooth, flowing performance of the horse. A rider should demonstrate an even pace over fences simulating those found in the natural hunting field. In competition, a horse is judged on its performance, manners, and way of going. An even, steady pace, consistently good takeoff distances, good jumping style, long, low movement, and overall smoothness and ease of performance are paramount. If a horse ticks, or touches, the fence he is jumping with his fore or hind legs, a fault is added to the score.

Jumper courses are held over a course of show jumping obstacles, including verticals, spreads, double and triple combinations, and many turns and changes of direction. The more professional the class, such as a Grade A class, the more technical the strides between each fence becomes. For example they would make a related combination with the normal horse canter stride of six strides between each fence and change it to six and a half strides to make it more complicated for the rider. The purpose is to jump cleanly over a twisting course within an allotted time; jumping faults are incurred for knockdowns only (as compared to ticks), disobedience, and time faults for exceeding time allowance. Tied entries jump over a raised and shortened course; if entries are tied in the jump-off, the fastest time wins. Riders walk both course and the jump-off course before competition, to plan their ride.

Jumper courses are highly technical, requiring boldness, scope, power, accuracy, and control; speed is also a factor, especially in jump-off course and speed classes (in which time counts in the first round). A jumper must jump big, bravely, and fast, but he must also be careful and accurate to avoid knockdowns, and must be balanced and rideable in order to rate and turn accurately. A jumper rider must ride the best line to each fence, saving ground with well-planned turns and lines, and must adjust his horse's stride for each fence and distance, while avoiding knockdowns. In a jumpoff, he must balance the need to go as fast as possible and turn as tight as he can, against his horse's ability to jump cleanly.

The horses are allowed a certain number of refusals to take a jump or other obstacle, but fault points are added to their score for each one. Until recently, it was 3 faults, but was changed to 4 faults by the FEI (Federation Equestrian International) as it was decided that it is better for the horse to attempt the jump rather than to refuse it and should therefore not be penalized less for a more severe fault. If they take more than the time allowed for the course, they earn one fourth fault for each extra second. For every pole that is knocked down, four faults are earned.

The final rankings are based on the lowest number of points accumulated. In case of a draw, the horse with the fastest time ranks higher.

external image equestrian_show_jumping_horse_amtrak.jpg

Grace, beauty and skill

History of show jumping

Show jumping is a relatively new equestrian sport. Until the Enclosures Acts which came into force in England in the eighteenth century there had been no need for a horse to jump fences as there had been none. But with this act of parliament came new challenges for those followers of fox hounds. The enclosures act brought fencing and boundaries to many parts of the country as common ground was dispersed amongst the wealthy landowners. This meant that those wishing to pursue their sport now needed horses which were capable of jumping these obstacles.

In the early shows held in France there was a parade of competitors who then took off across country for the jumping. This sport was, however, not popular with spectators as they could not watch the jumping. Soon after the introduction of these parades fences began to appear in the arena. This became known as ‘Lepping’. Fifteen years later, ‘Lepping’ competitions were brought to Britain and by 1900 most of the more important shows had ‘Lepping’ classes although they rarely attracted more than 20 competitors. The ladies, riding side-saddle, had their own classes.

At this time, the principal cavalry schools of Europe at Pinerolo and Tor-di-Quinto in Italy, the French school in Saumur and the Spanish school in Vienna preferred to use a backward seat when jumping for safety purposes with long length stirrups. The Italian Instructor Captain Fiederico Caprilli heavily influenced the forward seat with his ideas that the forward position would not impede the balance of the horse negotiating obstacles. It is this latter style which is commonly used today.

The first big show jumping class to be held in England was in the Horse of the Year Show at Olympia in 1907. Most of the competitors were servicemen and it became clear at this competition and in the subsequent years that there was no uniformity of rules for the sport. Judges marked on their own opinions. Some marked according to the severity of the obstacle and others marked according to style. Before 1907 there were no penalties for a refusal and the competitor was sometimes asked to miss the fence to please the spectators. The first courses were built with little imagination; many consisting of only a straight bar fence and a water jump. A meeting was arranged in 1923 to rectify it and this led to the formation of the BSJA in 1925.

Today , show jumping has come a long way in a relatively short time. Jumping courses are now highly technical , requiring boldness, scope ,power, accuracy and control from both horse and rider. In the early days the time element did not count and water jumps always contained water until it eventually drained away ( benefiting the later drawn horses in the competition ) . Further , it was some years before a competitor was penalised for circling between obstacles. In addition , the high jump would start with a single pole at a height of 5ft. ( 1.52m ) but this style of competition was abandoned due to the horses considering the easier option of going under the pole ! and led to the fillers and multiple poles etc that are seen on present day courses.

Show Jumping was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1912 and has thrived ever since. There have been calls recently to have all equestrian sports removed from the Olympics based upon the argument that the Olympics is about man competing against man and that there should be no involvement nor competition between any other living species. Well fortunately that argument did not gain much favour and we at Greenacres Stud cant wait to attend our first Olympics in London's Greenwich park in 2012. To list all the achievements of all the past great Olympic Horses would itself take until nearly 2012 to compile. We would however just like to give a very quick mention to just 2.... Milton who is a part Trakehner ( the breed close to our heart ) and Ahorn who is the grand sire of our own Dutch Warmblood Greenacres Hajla - Z and Holstein Warmblood Greenacres Hekabo - Z .

Original scoring tariff

The original list of faults introduced in 1925 was as follows:

Refusing or Running out at any fence:
1st: 8 faults
2nd: 8 faults
3rd: Elimination
Fall of Horse or Rider or both: Elimination

Horse touches a fence without knocking it down, then there are no faults, as they are only incurred if a pole or any part of the jump is knoked down.

For every jump that is knoked down 4 faults are incurred. The same as for a water jump, if a horse has lands with one foot or more than one in the water there are still only 4 faults incurred.

Water jumps were at least 15 feet (5 metres) wide although the water had often drained out of them before the last competitor jumped them. High jumping would start with a pole at around 5 foot but this was later abandoned as many horses went under the pole. It was for this reason that more poles were added and fillers came into use. In the early days time penalties did not count and competitors were not penalized until 1917. Showjumping was first incorporated into the Olympic Games in 1912 and has thrived ever since, its popularity due in part to its suitability as a spectator sport which can be viewed on television.

external image horse_jumping_equestrian_show_cento.jpg

Great technique

The horses

Some horse breeds have characteristics tailored for different styles of jumping.

Some of the great show jumping horses in history have been:

  • Abdullah
  • Baloubet du Rouet
  • Big Ben
  • Boomerang
  • Dobels Cento
  • Galoubet A
  • Gem Twist
  • Grannus
  • Halla
  • Heartbreaker
  • Milton
  • Monopoly
  • Nimmerdor
  • Ramiro Z
  • Robinson
  • Snowball
  • Snowman
  • Stroller


Modern day feeding regimes and substances are responsible for many of the problems experienced in performance horses. Find out how our ideas on feeding have evolved against the horse’s natural physiology and anatomy. This superb article questions the status-quo and will make you think! If 'we are what we eat' - are our horses too?

Rachel Poyser & Twizzy showing a fabulou jump cross country
Rachel Poyser & Twizzy showing a fabulou jump cross country
The horse is beautifully evolved for its function, which is to survive on a high fibre diet, and lead a reasonably stress free existence, grazing for up to 18 hours a day and occasionally having to run away from a predator. Contrast this with the management and feeding practices of the modern Sports Horse, which may be out of its stable for as little as an hour a day, has to undergo periods of traveling and competition and tends to be fed large meals of high starch grains stuck together with molasses or corn syrup. Although our management and feeding practices have evolved over the thousands of years that we have kept horses, the horse is still at the same stage of anatomical evolution as when we tamed him.
What the horse would like us to serve up for him!So it is important that when we think about the management and feeding practices that we use to keep our sport horse fit and healthy we must not loose sight of what he is and how he has evolved. If we had sat down and designed the horse I am sure that we would have kept the beautiful exterior and the fantastic spirit but would have surely found a better less troublesome way to power him. But we didn’t and so we are stuck to finding ways to manage and feed him that will avoid the common problems.

The basics of digestion

At every stage of the digestive system the horse demonstrates that he has evolved to consume a near constant diet of tough high fibre material. This is fine if we are keeping the horse at maintenance level, although when we require a higher workload from him, the problems in supplying the correct energy source become apparent.
Horse eating grass
Horse eating grass

A horse's digestive system is designed to cope with tough forages! Starting off at the beginning of the digestive system - the lips have adapted to be strong and mobile in order to cope with tough forages. In our way of feeding the horse, we have virtually eliminated the need for the lips to be involved in the selection process of which types of grasses and vegetation to consume. The mistake we make is to turn our horses out into paddocks which commonly contain very little variation in vegetation. Following the same theme, we also present him with a hay net full of hay which has been perfectly manicured and selected, then finally (and worst of all) we place a meal of starchy, sugary concentrates in front of him, which he devours in no time at all.
Once this starchy, sugary feed is inside the mouth, saliva is incorporated into the food particles and acts as lubrication for the food to slide down the esophagus, reducing the risk of choke. It also acts as a buffer to the acid produced inside the stomach. The buffering action is due to the concentration of sodium chloride and bicarbonate present, and is relative to the amount of saliva produced. The release of saliva by the salivary glands is related to the amount of chewing that goes on, so by feeding a meal that is easily chewed and rapidly swallowed, (such as one full of grains and sugar) there result is that not much saliva produced. In turn, this reduces the buffering actions of the saliva and initiates problems at an early stage of digestion. Feeding a high fibre diet will combat this problem. Fibrous feeds take longer to chew and as a result, saliva production increases and the benefits are restored.

Teeth issues

Fuelling the competition horse is a challenge!The act of chewing will of course have an influence on the wearing down of the teeth. If the horse is continually presented with concentrates that do not need to be chewed for any decent length of time, then we see problems will occur in dentition. Horses’ teeth have evolved to be essential in the grinding down of fibrous materials, and are perfectly suited to continual wearing down through 16-18 hours grazing per day. With fibre based feeds that take longer to chew, the teeth are exposed to the adequate wearing time that they have evolved for.
When talking about dentition and problems associated teeth problems, one of the points that is often overlooked is the position the food is eaten at. We have a habit of presenting our horses with feed at head height – whether it is a meal fed from a manger, or hay tied on the wall in a hay net. It may seem as though we are making our horses’ lives easier, although, coming back to the evolutionary side of it, the horse has always grazed from the ground and there are mechanisms in place that benefit from mimicking the horses’ natural feeding behaviour. Placing the food at head height causes incorrect wearing of the teeth, and hooks will begin to appear on the molars due to the unnatural positioning of the head during feeding. Not only are the teeth affected, but the musculature in the neck also becomes adapted to this upright posture, causing abnormal development of the muscle tissue. For these reasons, it is advised that the horse is fed off the ground, which allows the horse to ingest the food in the most natural way.

Meal sizes

Additional oil in the horse's feed is probabably the best energy booster. So, after the feed has been chewed, incorporated with saliva and swallowed, it enters the stomach. The stomach has evolved to hold a small capacity of food; this adaptation has occurred in order to cope with a small, continual supply of forage on an almost constant basis (due to grazing habits). We now tend to feed large meals that the gastrointestinal tract simply can’t cope with. Ideally, this bulk would be spread out between 5 or 6 small meals per day, although due to work and time constraints, there are very few horse owners who can manage this level of dedication. So the main problems with this large meal approach, are that there are high amounts of energy that enter the gastrointestinal tract ready for digestion. Once the stomach has done its part, and the feed is pushed through to the small intestine, this results in an empty stomach until the next meal is provided. This large amount of time between emptying and filling again means that the horse is more susceptible to developing problems such as gastric ulcers.
As mentioned before, the stomach has adapted to withstand a continual amount of forage and fibre, and so the acidic gastric juices produced are usually in constant utilization and will not typically cause harm to the stomach wall, since they are mopped up by the fibre passing through. However, given the ‘meal’ feeding regime that we subject our horses to, it is not surprising that ulcers develop in response to gastric juices which the empty stomach wall is exposed to. On top of this, add our previously discussed issue of limited the salivary buffering action, and feeding grains is really starting to look like a bad idea.

Absorbing nutrients

And so to the small intestine. When the feed reaches this part of the digestive system, this is where the digestion and absorption of nutrients takes place. Enzymes work to break down the different components of the feed – peptidases break down the proteins, lipase breaks down fats (with the help of bile) and amylase in the pancreatic juice breaks down starches. The presence of amylase in the pancreatic juices is relatively low (at around 5-6% of that in the pig) which suggests that the horse has not evolved to cope with the break down of a large amount of starches.
Again, this organ has evolved to be relatively small, and the rate of passage through the small intestine is typically 30cm per minute. This reiterates the fact that the horse is suited to a little food, often. If this were not the case, then rate of digestion would be slower in order to increase digestion and absorption, and the capacity of the digestive organs would be larger. Another anatomical feature that rejects the concept of large meals, is the fact that the horse secretes a continual flow of bile. This is because the horse does not have a gall bladder. The evolutionary adaptation of a continual secretion of bile helps to create an optimum environment in the intestine in order for the enzymes to function correctly. If the horse had evolved to eat the meals that we provide, then there would be no need for this constant flow of bile into the small intestine.

The dangers of acid

Calmness is essential in the ring! The site in which the fibrous, insoluble carbohydrates found in forages become broken down is in the large intestine. The main function of the large intestine is to digest fibres that are too tough for any enzymatic degradation. In order to do this, there is a population of microbes present, which work best at an optimum pH of 6.5, and are sensitive to any changes in environment. Fermentation of these insoluble carbohydrates (cellulose and hemi cellulose), are converted to volatile fatty acids as a form of energy.
If there were any soluble, easily digestible carbohydrates to enter the large intestine (such as ones contained in cereals, grains and sugar), then these would result in extremely rapid fermentation, creating a large burst of energy for the horse and an acidic environment in the large intestine due to the copious amounts of volatile fatty acids produced, along with lactic acid. This acidic environment means the optimum pH is altered, and the microbes begin to die off, releasing toxins into the blood stream. This is where problems such as laminitis can initiate. Feeding a meal that consists predominantly of grain, cereals and sugar, means the capacity of the small intestine can get overloaded, and the overflow of these food stuffs pass into the large intestine, where these problems begin.

Fuelling the competition horse

So now we have been through the different components of the digestive system, we can discuss the best way to feed the competition horse. As competition horses are constantly subjected to periods of training, competing and then a reduction in work, there is often more uncertainty regarding what type of feed must be given during these times. Energy requirements will obviously change throughout the year depending on the amount of work done, and this is where the idea of starches comes to play when more energy is required. As mentioned before, this is not always to most suitable form of energy to give any horse.
girl struggling to control a difficult horse
girl struggling to control a difficult horse

Feeding large amounts of cereals and grains can be very problematic - not only are cereals a form of carbohydrate which is totally unsuitable in terms of what the horses’ digestive system requires, but it is also the reason as to why so many of these animals are "fizzy" (Bishop, 2003). This seems to the most problematic myth of all, as owners are baffled as to why they have a horse with such behavioural problems. Horses are biologically designed to digest carbohydrates in the form of forage and fibre, and it is not until we start interfering and adding foreign food stuffs to the diet that things start to go wrong.


If you are looking for an energy source without all the problems that are attached to cereals, then the addition of vegetable oil will be more beneficial then high starch feeds, however if the ration of oil exceeds 22% then a suppression of microbial fermentation has been reported (National Research Council, 2007). There are many different types of oil that can be used as a "non heating form" of energy, all of which have a great many advantages over some cereals and grains. Oils contain up to 2 and a half times more energy than cereals of the same weight. A wonderful benefit to adding linseed oil into the ration is that it contains one of the highest levels of omega 3. This is particularly beneficial to horses on a training programme or taking part in competitions that induce an inflammatory response, as omega 3 has anti inflammatory properties.


Fibre is absolutely essential in the horse’s diet, and although supplementary hay is regarded as a necessity, sometimes forage is not considered as being of such importance in the concentrate meals we give. As mentioned earlier, there are many health mechanisms that rely on the diet and most are beneficially influenced by the addition of plenty of fibre in the diet. Since the competition horse loses a considerable amount of water through exercise, every measure should be taken in order ensure the horse doesn’t get dehydrated. Fibre can help with this concept as it assists in retaining water in the gut, similar to the action of a sponge.


This is no fun at all and what food you put into the horse's mouth is often to blame, yet the easiest thing to control!Another common opinion is that when a horse (or human) begins a high training regime, the requirement for protein dramatically increases due to the fact that the muscle fibres need building and rebuilding. According to years of research, this is not necessarily true (Jackson, 2003). Undoubtedly there is a fundamental role for protein in the horses’ diet - synthesis of proteinaceous structures in the body, synthesis of enzymes, hormones and blood proteins amongst other things - although owners who simply feeding a lot of protein will not benefit the horse in any way unless all aspects are present. These aspects are known as amino acids which are the building blocks in which the horse can develop new structures around the body. There are around 22 different amino acids and all are required to be present in the body before the complex interactions can begin. So, feeding high quality proteins with high amino acid profiles is very different from feeding ones with only a few amino acids present (Bishop, 2003).

The golden rule

Feeding the competition horse is a challenge for any owner as there are so many different aspects to consider. The horse needs to be kept at a constant weight with balanced energy and nutrients, in relation to exercise done. However, this is an ongoing battle, as there are so many variables that are affecting all facets of the horses’ life and environment. All this makes the task of balancing the requirements seem incredibly daunting and complex. The golden rule is, remember the competition horse has evolved to eat like a horse!




Horses, like us have 5 senses, sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. But, unlike us, they have a sixth sense. They can sense intent. Horses like other prey animals can sense intent. They feel or sense fear, anger and anxiety. They sense joy and relaxation. We have all seen the documentary on Lions and prey animals in the wild. When the lions or predators are hungry, the zebra are running, nervous and jittery. When the lions are full and not hunting, they can actually be observed lounging with a herd of Zebra nearby all calmly going about their business and daily routine. The Zebra know. They sense no immediate danger. The lions are full.
Like wise when you go to ride your horse or play with your horse, be present, pay attention to your moods, because you can be sure your horse is paying attention. Are you angry, sad, fearful? In a hurry? He will sense all these things, and it will affect how he reacts to you.
Horses, unlike most of us, are also great at reading body language. Something we can be trained to do, but for the horse this comes natural. They are born with this ability, it is in the repertory of their survival tricks. To the horse everything means something. Whether it be a notch above another horse or human in the pecking order, a sign of weakness or submission or a sign of aggression or assertion. They see us coming with the halter and lead clear across the pasture even with these items inconspicuously hidden behind our backs. It is as if they see right thru us. And if we have a shot in our hand or drive a small truck and smell like nolvasan, forget it. They know we are a vet. And can only assume we are up to something awful, or uncomfortable, like a shot.
Thirdly, their attention to detail is impeccable. All of us have a led a horse thru a barn, like we did the day before and the day before that, and the week before that, down the same path, thru all the same familiar sites, only to have our trusty steed jump out of his skin at a jacket hanging on a pole that was put there only this morning by the new guy working on the fence.
Or how about the new cowboy hat that you decided to wear for the first time to keep the sun off your face and protect your skin from all its ill effects and you step into the pasture to get your horse and you cant get within 10 feet of him because he doesn't’t know who or what the heck you are. Dr. Mccall makes mention of this in his book “Influencing Horse Behavior”. I enjoyed this story.

He begins:
“The stallion barn at Texas A & M University sits off by itself. In the 60s it had four stalls, each with a two-acre paddock. In one of these stalls was a Quarter Horse stallion by the name of Fourable Joe. Joe was the most beautiful Quarter Horses I have ever seen, but he had a well deserved reputation for being bad. Fourable Joe had savaged some of the best stallion men in Texas, and even at the age of 18 was not to be taken for granted.

As stallion manager, I had the job of keeping Joe in halter shape to be shown to mare owners and of handling him in the breeding shed. These tasks necessitated that Joe be caught on a daily basis catching Joe could be a dangerous job in itself. If I had to go into the paddock, Joe would “playfully” charge and threaten my very existence. Sometimes, however, old Joe would meet me at the gate waiting to be haltered. A rush of relief would always run over me when he came to greet me.
Soon it became obvious that Joe would meet me at the times I came to take him to the breeding shed. When I just wanted to groom him, I had to go into the paddock to get him. It puzzled me how he knew the difference. At first I assumed that the noise coming from the breeding shed foretold of the pending events. But when I changed the breeding location, he met me at the gate anyway. I had overlooked the telltale cue. When I went to work on Joe in the stallion barn I used a nylon halter and a cotton lead. When I planned to take him out of the stud barn I always used a leather halter and a chain shank. Fourable Joe was getting his action cue from the type of halter I carried….a stimulus control.
Horses are quick to pick up on signals that indicate a certain type of behavior that is expected. This can be extremely irritating if you don’t detect the signal or know how to manipulate the underlying principles. They always pay attention to detail, which is something we need to do also. Again, everything means something. When with the horse, pay attention to detail and they will respond accordingly.



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