How cold is too cold?

As we head into February, and the temperatures dip into the negatives, a question we're often asked is: "at what point is it too cold for my horses to be outside?" I don't know about you, but when it hits -12 F, I sure don't want to be outside. My extremities get too cold, the exposed skin on my face starts to burn, my breath freezes instantly. But do our horses experience cold the same way?
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The Equine-net

I thought I'd take a little detour from my previous posts and talk a little about the internet. You know, that nebulous information superhighway where this blog lives, and a lot of other great information. As we all become more computer savvy horsepeople, it's natural to seek out advice on the internet about our horses. After all, we do it for ourselves... I know if I get a cough, I'm on looking up the symptoms of a cold vs. the flu. The internet can be a great resource. But if you're not careful, it can also lead you astray. How do you know if the information you're finding online is valid?
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I had a call from a client today with a great question - her horse had lots of little crusty bumps around his pasterns, and her farrier had told her it was probably "scratches". She called for more information about this condition, and what to do about it. "Scratches" is also called "mud fever", "dew poisoning", or more medically appropriate "pastern dermatitis". "Derm" means skin, and "itis" means inflammation, so "dermatitis" just translates to "inflammation of the skin" which, in pastern dermatitis, occurs at the pastern. The term is descriptive, but it doesn't tell us anything about what causes it.
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The importance of saddle fit

Do you remember the story of Goldilocks and the three bears? The porridge is too hot, then too cold, but then it’s just right. The bed is too soft, too hard, but finally just right. It’s a little like that with saddles (stay with me!), except that instead of just one or two ways a saddle can fit poorly, there are a multitude. Imagine putting on a pair of shoes that don’t fit you – either they are too loose, or too tight, too wide or too narrow, or even just wrong in one spot. It’s annoying. You’d like to get them off right away. Now imagine having to run around for an hour or so (or longer) with these poorly fitting shoes on. No wonder horses sometimes behave badly!
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First Aid for Horses

Our first client education seminar was last week, we had a handful of eager human participants (and two slightly reluctant equine participants), and it was a lot of fun. We went over basic bandaging, such as stable and shipping wraps, as well as more advanced bandaging, for wounds and hooves. Towards the end of the seminar, someone asked an excellent question: "What should be put into an equine first aid kit?" I'm an old Pony Clubber, so I've put together some equine first aid kits in my day. Everyone is different, and my list won't be the same as every single vet. I've broken the list down into "essentials" and other items that are nice to have, but only if you know how to use them. Here goes!
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Fall (and Colic) Season

Well, it's certainly that time of year again.  The leaves are changing, there's a briskness to the air that wasn't here last month.  It's fall.  One of my favorite times of year, since it brings apples, pumpkins, and cozy nights around the fireplace.  (Alright, I don't have a fireplace, but if I did, it would be cozy...).  Fall's coming a little earlier for me this year than the past several years, but it's much prettier here than it was in Virginia.  I'm excited for my first fall (and winter!  eek...) in Western NY.  I'm already scouting out some cross country skis...

The changing weather, however, brings a new set of issues for our horse friends.  Experts have disputed long and hard about the impact that changing weather patterns have on the gastrointestinal tract of horses.  It's certainly something the old, wise horsemen and women will attest to.  Frankly, I've seen it too.  A big swing in weather, usually from warm to cool, can make some horses colic. 

Now, I know, I said the "c" word.  I'm knocking on wood.  But seriously, why do some horses colic when the weather changes?

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Hi there, welcome to Henderson Equine Clinic's blog!  I'm Ashley Leighton, the new associate veterinarian at the clinic.  I'll be tending to this portion of the website and will try to update it at least weekly.  The goal for this blog is to be a fun and educational space where we can share important information and stories from our days.  If you have specific interests for topics you'd like to see discussed on this blog, feel free to let us know.  Keep checking back for continued updates, and I look forward to meeting all of you in the "real" (non-cyber) world as well!