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The American Quarter Horse

Posted by Nicole Nauss on May 4, 2016 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (3350)

The American Quarter Horse is an American breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances. Its name came from its ability to outdistance other horse breeds in races of a quarter mile or less; some have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph (88.5 km/h).The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with almost 3 million American Quarter Horses currently registered.


The American Quarter Horse is well known both as a race horse and for its performance in rodeos, horse shows and as a working ranch horse. The compact body of the American Quarter Horse is well-suited to the intricate and speedy maneuvers required in reining, cutting, working cow horse, barrel racing, calf roping, and other western riding events, especially those involving live cattle. The American Quarter Horse is also shown in English disciplines, driving, and many other equestrian activities.

Breed History

Colonial Era :

In the 17th century, colonists on the eastern seaboard of what today is the United States began to cross imported English Thoroughbred horses with assorted "native" horses such as the Chickasaw horse, which was a breed developed by Native American people from horses descended from Spain, developed from Iberian, Arabian and Barb stock brought to what is now the Southeastern United States by the Conquistadors.


One of the most famous of these early imports was Janus, a Thoroughbred who was the grandson of the Godolphin Arabian. He was foaled in 1746, and imported to colonial Virginia in 1756. The influence of Thoroughbreds like Janus contributed genes crucial to the development of the colonial "Quarter Horse". The breed is sometimes referred to as the "Famous American Quarter Running Horse". The resulting horse was small, hardy, and quick, and was used as a work horse during the week and a race horse on the weekends.


As flat racing became popular with the colonists, the Quarter Horse gained even more popularity as a sprinter over courses that, by necessity, were shorter than the classic racecourses of England, and were often no more than a straight stretch of road or flat piece of open land. When matched against a Thoroughbred, local sprinters often won.As the Thoroughbred breed became established in America, many colonial Quarter Horses were included in the original American stud books, starting a long association between the Thoroughbred breed and what would later become officially known as the "Quarter Horse," named after the 1⁄4 mile (0.40 km) race distance at which it excelled with some individuals being clocked at up to 55 mph.


Westward expansion :

In the 19th century, pioneers heading West needed a hardy, willing horse. On the Great Plains, settlers encountered horses that descended from the Spanish stock Hernán Cortés and other Conquistadors had introduced into the viceroyalty of New Spain, which today includes the Southwestern United States and Mexico. These horses of the west included herds of feral animals known as Mustangs, as well as horses domesticated by Native Americans, including the Comanche, Shoshoni and Nez Perce tribes. As the colonial Quarter Horse was crossed with these western horses, the pioneers found that the new crossbred had innate "cow sense," a natural instinct for working with cattle, making it popular with cattlemen on ranches.

Development as a Distinct Breed :

(A photograph of Peter McCue, taken in Oklahoma around 1905)

Early foundation sires of Quarter horse type included Steel Dust, foaled 1843; Shiloh (or Old Shiloh), foaled 1844; Old Cold Deck (1862); Lock's Rondo, one of many "Rondo" horses, foaled in 1880; Old Billy—again, one of many "Billy" horses—foaled circa 1880; Traveler, a stallion of unknown breeding, known to have been in Texas by 1889; and Peter McCue, foaled 1895, registered as a Thoroughbred but of disputed pedigree.


The main duty of the ranch horse in the American West was working cattle. Even after the invention of the automobile, horses were still irreplaceable for handling livestock on the range. Thus, major Texas cattle ranches, such as the King Ranch, the 6666 (Four Sixes) Ranch, and the Waggoner Ranch played a significant role in the development of the modern Quarter Horse. The skills needed by cowboys and their horses became the foundation of the rodeo, a contest which began with informal competition between cowboys and expanded to become a major competitive event throughout the west. To this day, the Quarter Horse dominates the sport both in speed events and in competition that emphasizes the handling of live cattle.


However, sprint races were also popular weekend entertainment and racing became a source of economic gain for breeders as well. As a result, more Thoroughbred blood was added back into the developing American Quarter Horse breed. The American Quarter Horse also benefitted from the addition of Arabian, Morgan and even Standardbred bloodlines.


In 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was formed by a group of horsemen and ranchers from the southwestern United States dedicated to preserving the pedigrees of their ranch horses. The horse honored with the first registration number, P-1, was Wimpy, a descendant of the King Ranch foundation sire Old Sorrel. Other sires alive at the founding of the AQHA were given the earliest registration numbers Joe Reed P-3, Chief P-5, Oklahoma Star P-6, Cowboy P-12, and Waggoner's Rainy Day P-13. The Thoroughbred race horse Three Bars, alive in the early years of the AQHA, is recognized by the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame as one of the significant foundation sires for the Quarter Horse breed. Other significant Thoroughbred sires seen in early AQHA pedigrees include Rocket Bar, Top Deck and Depth Charge.

"Appendix" and "Foundation" Horses :

Since the American Quarter Horse formally established itself as a breed, the AQHA stud book has remained open to additional Thoroughbred blood via a performance standard. An "Appendix" American Quarter Horse is a first generation cross between a registered Thoroughbred and an American Quarter Horse or a cross between a "numbered" American Quarter Horse and an "appendix" American Quarter Horse. The resulting offspring is registered in the "appendix" of the American Quarter Horse Association's studbook, hence the nickname. Horses listed in the appendix may be entered in competition, but offspring are not initially eligible for full AQHA registration. If the Appendix horse meets certain conformational criteria and is shown or raced successfully in sanctioned AQHA events, the horse can earn its way from the appendix into the permanent studbook, making its offspring eligible for AQHA registration


Since Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred crosses continue to enter the official registry of the American Quarter Horse breed, this creates a continual gene flow from the Thoroughbred breed into the American Quarter Horse breed, which has altered many of the characteristics that typified the breed in the early years of its formation. Some breeders, who argue that the continued infusion of Thoroughbred bloodlines is beginning to compromise the integrity of the breed standard, favor the earlier style of horse and have created several separate organizations to promote and register "Foundation" Quarter Horses.


Quarter Horses Today:


The Quarter Horse is well-suited for the western disciplines.

The American Quarter Horse is best known today as a show horse, race horse, reining and cutting horse, rodeo competitor, ranch horse, and all-around family horse. Quarter horses compete well in rodeo events such as barrel racing, calf roping and team roping; and gymkhana or O-Mok-See. Other stock horse events such as cutting and reining are open to all breeds but also dominated by American Quarter Horse. Large purses allow top competitors to earn over a million dollars in some of these events.


The breed is not only well-suited for western riding and cattle work. Many race tracks offer Quarter Horses a wide assortment of pari-mutuel horse racing with purses in the millions. Quarter Horses have also been trained to compete in dressage and can be good jumpers. They are also used for recreational trail riding and in mounted police units.


The American Quarter Horse has also been exported worldwide. European nations such as Germany and Italy have imported large numbers of Quarter Horses. Next to the American Quarter Horse Association (which also encompasses Quarter Horses from Canada), the second largest registry of Quarter Horses is in Brazil, followed by Australia. With the internationalization of the discipline of reining and its acceptance as one of the official seven events of the World Equestrian Games, there is a growing international interest in Quarter Horses. Countries like Japan, Switzerland and Israel that did not have traditional stock horse industries have begun to compete with American Quarter Horses in their own nations and internationally. The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with over 5 million American Quarter Horses registered worldwide.


Breed characteristics :


A halter-type Quarter Horse

The modern Quarter Horse has a small, short, refined head with a straight profile, and a strong, well-muscled body, featuring a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquarters. They usually stand between 14 and 16 hands (56 and 64 inches, 142 and 163 cm) high, although some Halter-type and English hunter-type horses may grow as tall as 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm).


There are two main body types: the stock type and the hunter or racing type. The stock horse type is shorter, more compact, stocky and well muscled, yet agile. The racing and hunter type Quarter Horses are somewhat taller and smoother muscled than the stock type, more closely resembling the Thoroughbred.


Quarter Horses come in nearly all colors. The most common color is sorrel, a brownish red, part of the color group called chestnut by most other breed registries. Other recognized colors include bay, black, brown, buckskin, palomino, gray, dun, red dun, grullo (also occasionally referred to as blue dun), red roan, blue roan, bay roan, perlino, cremello, and white. In the past, spotted color patterns were excluded, but now with the advent of DNA testing to verify parentage, the registry accepts all colors as long as both parents are registered.

Stock type:

See also: Stock horse under different breeds/blog

A stock horse is a horse of a type that is well suited for working with livestock, particularly cattle. Reining and cutting horses are smaller in stature, with quick, agile movements and very powerful hindquarters. Western pleasure show horses are often slightly taller, with slower movements, smoother gaits, and a somewhat more level topline – though still featuring the powerful hindquarters characteristic of the Quarter Horse.


Halter Type:

Horses shown in-hand in Halter competition are larger yet, with a very heavily muscled appearance, while retaining small heads with wide jowls and refined muzzles. There is controversy amongst owners, breeder and veterinarians regarding the health effects of the extreme muscle mass that is currently fashionable in the specialized halter horse, which typically is 15.2 to 16 hands (62 to 64 inches, 157 to 163 cm) and weighs in at over 1,200 pounds (540 kg) when fitted for halter competition. Not only are there concerns about the weight to frame ratio on the horse's skeletal system, but the massive build is also linked to HYPP. 

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP), which is caused by an autosomal dominant gene linked to the stallion Impressive. It is characterized by uncontrollable muscle twitching and substantial muscle weakness or paralysis among affected horses. Because it is a dominant gene, only one parent has to have the gene for it to be transmitted to offspring. There is a DNA test for HYPP, which is required by the AQHA. Since 2007, the AQHA bars registration of horses who possess the homozygous form (H/H) of the gene, and though heterozygous (H/N) horses are still eligible for registration, altering that status is currently being discussed. Additionally all Quarter Horses born 2007 or later that are confirmed to be descendants of Impressive must carry a note about the risks of HYPP on their registration papers. Due to HYPP, the halter classes are undergoing significant changes. Halter classes are dominated by the Impressive bloodline. Impressive, a very prolific halter horse, brought to the stock breeds the muscle mass that is popular in halter competition today. This muscle mass is linked to HYPP, and as the condition is reduced within the breed, the style of horse in halter classes is also likely to change. Already there have been rule changes, including the creation of a "Performance Halter class" in which a horse must possess a Register of Merit in performance or racing before it can compete.


Racing and Hunter Type:


A Quarter Horse warming up for hunt seat competition.

Quarter Horse race horses are bred to sprint short distances ranging from 220 to 870 yards. Thus, they have long legs and are leaner than their stock type counterparts, but are still characterized by muscular hindquarters and powerful legs. Quarter horses race primarily against other Quarter horses, and their sprinting ability has earned them the nickname, "the world's fastest athlete." The show hunter type is slimmer, even more closely resembling a Thoroughbred, usually reflecting a higher percentage of appendix breeding. They are shown in hunter/jumper classes at both breed shows and in open USEF-rated horse show competition.

Bio Equine

Posted by Nicole Nauss on April 24, 2016 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (143)

BioEquine horse feed supplement is unique because the nutritional formula of BioEquine cleans the gut of debris and parasites and prepares it to utilize the medicinal quality, balanced and buffered vitamins and minerals PLUS concentrated micro-encapsulated stabilized probiotics. Your horse is provided all this in a small 1 ounce (30 mg) daily dose. There are no added sugars, protein, drugs, herbal preparations or inert fillers. BioEquine can be fed as a top dressing or mixed with stock salt in a one to two ration (such as 1 lb of BioEquine to 2 lbs of salt) to be used as free choice for pastured horses . For less than $1 a day, your horse can have their total vitamin and mineral needs met, PLUS a high concentration of micro-encapsulated stabilized probiotics in a gut-cleansing, natural worming diatomaceous earth base. To order or learn more see -Click here to visit BioEquine.


Difficult Trot

Posted by Nicole Nauss on February 12, 2014 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (164)


Recently I've been helping a friend with her pony, working him on the lunge to bring him back to work and make him more flexible in his neck. The pony is a AA-German Pony cross, he's got a rather long back and very strong minded, yet in about three months he has improved a lot and I can get him trotting, cantering and even doing canter-walk transitions on the lunge with just voice cues.


He's got superb, elastic paces at the lunge, but when he is being ridden, his trot gets very bumpy and slow, it takes a lot of leg to keep him going forward (yet the trot keeps springy and his hindfeet track on his forefeet as at the lunge). At walk or canter there is no problem, you could sit his canter for hours, and I think because of that he has been ridden most of his lfe cantering and at the walk.


I wonder if there could be some issue with his back (having a rider on it at the trot), but then I am not sure if that should show at canter also, and whether there would be some exercises that could help with this. The best option would be to call a chiro, but then the pony is not mine and her owner does not think it is necessary, she says the pony is just like that.


Yet I cannot help thinking that he could improve so much. Would a long back, or pain, show only at the trot when ridden? Yet what could be the reason for his trot keeping springy and overtracking if there is any pain?


You know the answer – if there is a problem, first check for physical reasons. In this case I would look at his back and since his trot is fine on the lunge but not when ridden, I would make sure that the saddle fits and also at the rider.


In trot the horse is moving diagonal pairs of legs so the motion involves more swing in the back than in walk or canter which means that problems show up more in trot than in other paces – after all, why do we trot a horse to check soundness? The fact that the pony has a long back means that there is more back to have problems, so it needs better care, not ignoring.


It always amazes me when people decide that they don’t want to get the horse’s back checked – they are happy for the farrier to come regularly and (in most cases) for the dental technician, but a back specialist…? Similarly many people do not get their saddle fitted often enough – if it fitted him last summer and still goes on his back, why check it? I wish people would get backs and tack checked at least as often as the teeth are checked and, preferably, every time their horse’s work levels or body condition score changes.


You can try and eliminate possible issues by seeing how he works on the lunge with his saddle and with his saddle and rider (with and without reins).

Help With Counter Canter

Posted by Nicole Nauss on February 12, 2014 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (37)


wondering if you can suggest some exercises to help develop the counter canter which we are starting to work on after several years of working on the basics of straightness, contact etc. The canter to the left has taken some work to get going forwards, straight and to try and prevent falling in through the left shoulder. The canter to the right has been much better, easy and more rhythmical. However the counter canter on the left leg ie to the right is more easy for my horse and he can maintain the bend. To the right however on our supposed better rein we struggle and the horse wants to fall through the shoulder and break into trot. We are just doing this little by little but wanted to ask whether there are any supplying exercises to do. We do have regular lessons and he has his back checked every 3-4 months. Many thanks.


Counter canter is an excellent tool for teaching your horse to be supple by stretching and contracting muscles, making your horse stronger and more flexible. It also helps train your horse to be more straight in his canter.


Ideally when working in counter canter your horse’s body should follow the direction of movement but remain flexed to the canter lead (ie his jaw is relaxed to the direction of the canter lead).


However, that is the end ambition, so to start with it is better to allow the horse’s body to have a slight bend in the direction of the leading leg (ie when your horse is on the right lead in counter canter he should have a slight right bend even though he is travelling left). This is why your horse is better on the opposite counter canter lead to his normal ‘best’ side as he is more flexible in right bend. This can be overcome with lots of suppling and stretching in both directions


Obviously this can be difficult for the horse to do if he is not balanced, so always make sure he is well warmed up before you start. Do lots of transitions, especially in and out of canter and also some lengthening and shortening of stride within your canter. Once he is warmed up and listening the first exercise is to canter around the school on the true lead in a reasonably collected canter then at the start of a long side make a long shallow loop towards the centre line and then back to the track. You should maintain the aids for the canter lead (and therefore the bend in the horse’s spine) throughout the exercise and the return to the track should be asked for by turning your head only in that direction.


Your horse should not be allowed to change lead of his own volition during this exercise. If he does, bring him back to a walk until he is calm then start again.


Once your horse can do this comfortably you can make the loop deeper with the curves more defined until it becomes a serpentine where he is cantering alternate loops in true and counter canter. From there you can work towards figures of eight. Never attempt to make sharp turns until your horse’s counter canter is well established as he may attempt to change legs or break in to a trot – and since you will be aiming to teach a flying changes next, you really do not want him changing lead at will, it must be when you ask for it.


Once counter canter is established you can work on harder exercises such as riding around the school doing simple changes into and out of canter canter whilst keeping the horse as straight as possible.


More difficult still is to do shoulder in in counter canter down the long side (just a few steps to start with) or to attempt renvers in counter canter on a circle.


Once all of these have been mastered (and yes, it will take time) you will have a well balanced and supple horse – good luck!

Mane Pulling Nightmare

Posted by Nicole Nauss on February 12, 2014 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (101)


Help needed please. My warmblood gelding has had his main pulled a couple of times since I bought him 6 months ago now. He has been fine until today when he was not having any of it. He is always double tied and stands beautifully for everything but today he would not let us pull his main. He was throwing his head up and trying to turn his back legs on us as we struggled to tidy up his thick main. I was hoping that he would calm down as the endorphins began to flow as we progressed but no, he get more and more upset until we decided to stop for the day. I am now worried he has won a battle and am not sure how to proceed. Any ideas??


If you think about it, why does any horse stand there and let us pull out their mane in handfuls – it must hurt like hell! I find it painful plucking my eyebrows and am very grateful that my hairdresser uses scissors, not a mane comb.


You can make it a lot less painful for your horse by making mane pulling a daily affair with a few hairs being taken out every time he is groomed rather than waiting until it has grown and he looks like a moth eaten lion and then ripping out all his mane. It is also easier if he is warm when you pull the hairs as that means the pores are open and the hairs come out more easily.


In fact these days I quite often use a solo comb or mane rake to thin the mane – with a bit of practice you can do the job just as well and it looks just as good as an expertly pulled mane. Not only that it is quicker and pain free for your horse and your fingers.


OK, you may feel you lost a battle today and that your horse failed to stand still uncomplaining whilst you pulled out his hair, but would you stand there and let someone do it to you without objecting? Be fair to him and tackle the job over the next few weeks, taking just a bit of hair each time you groom him – and if you have to get it done for a special event tomorrow, then use a tool that is not going to hurt him.

Bad Manners

Posted by Nicole Nauss on February 12, 2014 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Q. My sister's 4 year old Warmblood gelding is very strong in hand and pushy. He will drag you off to places (mostly when he sees food) and sometimes he will nip (playfully) you when being lead.


My friend has suggested a chain shank and jolt him whenever he is misbehaving.


What would you suggest?

A. Your sister’s horse needs to have his behaviour sorted out quickly as with his size he is likely to hurt someone or himself soon.


Whilst a chain shank and jolting him may have the desired result, temporarily, it will not solve the problem that he is learning that he is bigger and stronger than a human and can use his weight to do what he wants rather than what he is asked to do.


It is not just his leading that need sorting out, it is his understanding of who should be in control in the relationship. Leading problems rapidly become problems with grooming, riding and general management, so it is time for this young thug to learn how to be a gentleman


Posted by Nicole Nauss on January 28, 2014 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (332)


The use of the bearing-rein is widely condemned by many people who do not recognise the undeniable fact that there are some horses which it would be difficult, if not unsafe, to drive without some such assistance as it supplies being afforded the coachman. At the same time there are thousands of cases in which it is not necessary, and even in those where it is, the bearing-rein should never be too tight, and if the horses wearing it are standing for any time it should be unhooked from the pad. It consists of a rein fastned to the cheeks of the bit which pass through the ear-rings of the headstall to a hook in the pad, and its object is, or should be, to assist the driver in controlling the puller or horse that it is liable to stumble. As, however, it causes its wearer to carry his head better, it is often utilised for the purpose of improving his appearance.  

A form of bearing rein is used today, but is a much more humane device. Today most horse harnesses include a overcheck or sidecheck- which are comparable to a bearing rein but are adjusted more humanely. An overcheck helps a horse maintain their balance and gives a handler more control- An overcheck does not force the horse's head up painfully, but is usually set at the horse's optimal natural carriage. Occasionally, a bearing rein type device is still used on horses ridden by children or disabled adults. A loosely adjusted bearing type rein (usually more like a sidecheck) allows a horse to carry their head naturally, but prevents a horse from dropping their neck to graze or snatching reins out of a riders hands- both actions that can cause an insecure or disabled rider to fall and be injured.


Even though use of the bearing rein was discontinued nearly 100 years ago, the practical applications of bearing reins- applied in more humane manners- are still useful today.

Q. What is the difference between a side check and an overcheck? Do they make a huge difference in performance or purpose?


A. There is a huge difference between an overcheck and a side check.



The overcheck is a strap that goes from the “water terret” or middle terret on the driving saddle, up the horse’s neck, between his ears, down the front of his face and splits at the bridge of his nose and goes to the rings of a bridoon bit. It is designed to keep a horse’s head up so he can’t canter or buck. Unfortunately, some people use this piece of equipment without knowing how to adjust it.

Depending on how tight an overcheck is adjusted, it can be very harmful to a horse. If he can’t get his head down low enough to raise his back, then he’ll have trouble pulling a carriage up a hill or even starting one on flat ground. Think of pulling a sled up a hill by dragging it by a rope over your shoulder; you would have to lean forward to be most efficient. You wouldn’t want to have to pull that sled with your back arched. A badly adjusted overcheck does the same thing to a horse.


Back in Black Beauty’s days, the style was to set driving horses heads very high, so the drivers cranked up the overchecks to make the horses look spirited with high heads. All this did was cause major pain to the animals due to the unnatural position.


The overcheck pulls the bit up in the horse’s mouth, and the reins pull backward in his mouth. If you add a running martingale, as so many breed classes want you to do, then you’re also pulling down on the same horse’s mouth all at once. Ouch!


The other main problem with overchecks is that they don’t allow the horse to turn his nose, so bending through a corner becomes almost impossible. This makes the horse lose his balance through turns and he will become very defensive over time about where to put his feet and balance.


If you must use an overcheck to conform to a breed class requirement, please keep it very loose and train your horse to perform the way you need him to instead of forcing him into an unnatural and uncomfortable position.


A side check, which I think is also permissible in most breed classes instead of an overcheck, is much kinder to the horse and will also prevent him from putting his head down. But this one goes from the middle of the driving saddle, up along both sides of the horse’s neck to a loose ring on the sides of the brow band of the bridle, and then down the sides of the horse’s face to a bridoon or regular driving bit. The side check allows the horse to put his head down enough to start the carriage and to pull it up hill. It also allows his nose to move to the inside on turns so his balance isn’t as compromised as with an overcheck. You still have to be careful not to adjust it too tightly. A side check is good for a horse who wants to eat grass when driving, but this problem can also be fixed with proper training.


Remember, any kind of check is just a training device and is not meant for long-term use. If you want your horse to drive with his head up high, train him to use himself from behind and learn how to harness his energy instead of checking him up mechanically.


If you have a small child driving, and the pony wants to eat grass all the time, as ponies sometime do, use a side check, but loosely.


Overchecks are not allowed at American Driving Society, United States Equestrian Federation or Fédération Equestre Internationale sanctioned events. Check your rule books for accepted uses.




There are two types of bits, driving bits and overcheck bits and they come in many varieties. The purpose of a driving bit is to help provide the driver with control of the horse. The different types will help with horses that are pullers or difficult to steer whereas the overcheck bit helps keep the head of the horse to a desired level.

Most trainers will use a Frisco June bit to break a yearling. After days or monthsof jogging, changes might become necessary. Depending on the type of horse you are dealing with, a more severe bit might be needed. You may consider using a wire bit on a horse that has a tendency to pull and a sidelining, Houghton, Braden direct or a slip mouth on a bad steering horse. A normal snaffle would be sufficient for a good steering and quiet horse. A variety of overcheck bits is available for all types of horses.

The majority of trainers will start the horse off with a Standard overcheck bit. The purpose of anovercheck bit is to enable the trainer to set the horse’s head to a desired height. Some horses might need a type of overcheck to enable them to lean on it like a standard overcheck, a Speedway a Mini or just a basic chin strap. Some horses tend to tuck their heads in and in doing so are stopping the air passage in their throat. These horses will require a more severe overcheck bit like a Crit Davis, Burch, Z guide or a Bar bit.

Grab Your Reins

Posted by Nicole Nauss on January 27, 2014 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (15)

Collected walk

on the bit, moves forward, neck raised and arched, head approaches vertical, light contact, shorter steps

Extended walk

hind feet touch ground clearly in front of front feet, stretches head and neck

Working trot

between collected and extended, not ready for collected movements, on bit, even and elastic steps, good hock action

Collected trot

on the bit, neck raised and arched, hocks well engaged, maintains energetic impulsion,

shoulders move with ease, shortened steps

Extended trot

covers as much ground as possible, maintains rhythm, lengthens steps because of impulsion from the hindquarters

The Anatomy Of A Horses Hoof

Posted by Nicole Nauss on January 27, 2014 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (197)

The Anatomy Of A Horses Hoof

Transitioning barefoot hoof, from below. Details: heel perioplium (1), bulb (2), frog (3), central groove (4), collateral groove (5), heel (6), bar (7), seat of corn (pigmented walls) (external layer) (9), water line (inner layer) (10), white line (11), apex of frog (12), sole (13), toe (14), how to measure width (15), quarter (16), how to measure length (17)

The hoof is made up by an outer part, the hoof capsule (composed of various cornified specialised structures) and an inner, living part, containing soft tissues and bone. The cornified material of the hoof capsule is different in structure and properties in different parts. Dorsally, it covers, protects and supports P3 (also known as the coffin bone, pedal bone, PIII). Palmarly/plantarly, it covers and protects specialised soft tissues (tendons, ligaments, fibro-fatty and/or fibrocartilaginous tissues and cartilage). The upper, almost circular limit of the hoof capsule is the coronet (coronary band), having an angle to the ground of roughly similar magnitude in each pair of feet (i.e. fronts and backs). These angles may differ slightly from one horse to another, but not markedly. The walls originate from the coronet band. Walls are longer in the dorsal portion of the hoof (toe), intermediate in length in the lateral portion (quarter) and very short in palmar/plantar portion (heel). Heels are separated by an elastic, resilient structure named the 'frog'. In the palmar/plantar part of the foot, above the heels and the frog, there are two oval bulges named the 'bulbs'.

When viewed from the lower surface, the hoof wall's free margin encircles most of the hoof. The triangular frog occupies the center area. Lateral to the frog are two grooves, deeper in their posterior portion, named 'collateral grooves'. At the heels, the palmar/plantar portion of the walls bend inward sharply, following the external surface of collateral grooves to form the bars. The lower surface of the hoof, from the outer walls and the inner frog and bars, is covered by an exfoliating keratinised material, called the 'sole'.

Just below the coronet, the walls are covered for about an inch by a cornified, opaque 'periople' material. In the palmar/plantar part of the hoof, the periople is thicker and more rubbery over the heels, and it merges with frog material. Not all horses have the same amount of periople. Dry feet tend to lack this substance, which can be substituted with a hoof dressing.

Characters and functions of the external hoof structures


The Walls

The walls are considered as a protective shield covering the sensitive internal hoof tissues (like the exoskeleton of arthropods), as a structure devoted to dissipating the energy of concussion, and as a surface to provide grip on different terrains. They are elastic and very tough, and vary in thickness from 6 to 12 mm. The walls are composed of three distinct layers: the pigmented layer, the water line and the white line.

The pigmented layer is generated by the coronet, and its color is just like that of the coronet skin from which it is derived. If the coronet skin has any dark patch, the walls show a parallel pigmented line, from the coronet to the ground, showing the wall's growth direction. This layer has predominately protective role, and is not as resistant to ground contact, where it can break and flake away.

The water line is built up by the coronet and by the wall's corium (the living tissue immediately beneath the walls). Its thickness increases proportionally to the distance from the coronet and, in the lower third of the walls, is thicker than the pigmented layer. It is very resistant to contact to the ground, and it serves mainly a support function.

The white line is the inner layer of the wall. It is softer and fibrous in structure and light in color; white in a freshly trimmed hoof, yellowish or gray after exposure to air and dirt. From the underside of the healthy hoof, it is seen as a thin line joining the sole and the walls. The white line grows out from the laminar connections. Any visible derangement of the white line indicates some important derangement of laminar connections that fix the walls to the underlying P3 bone. Since the white line is softer than both the walls and the sole, it wears fast where it appears on the surface; it appears as a subtle groove between the sole and the walls, often with some debris or sand inside.

The three layers of the wall merge in a single mass and they grow downwards together. If the wall does not wear naturally, from sufficient movement on abrasive terrains, then it will protrude from the solar surface. It then becomes prone to breakage, and the healthy hoof will self-trim, by breaking or chipping off.

When a horseshoe is applied, it is fixed to the wall. Nails are driven in, oblique to the walls. They enter the wall at the outside edge of the white line and they emerge at the wall's surface, about 15 to 20 mm from the base of the wall.

The wall is anatomically analogous to the human finger or toe nail.

The Frog

The frog is a V shaped structure that extends forwards across about two-thirds of the sole. Its thickness grows from the front to the back and, at the back, it merges with the heel periople. In its midline, it has a central groove (sulcus), that extends up between the bulbs.

It is dark gray-blackish in color and of a rubbery consistency, suggesting its role as shock absorber and grip tool on hard, smooth ground. The frog also acts like a pump to move the blood back to the heart, a great distance from the relatively thin leg to the main organ of the circulatory system.

In the stabled horse, the frog does not wear, but degrades, due to bacterial and fungal activity, to an irregular, soft, slashed surface. In the free-roaming horse, it hardens into a callous consistency with a near-smooth surface.

It is anatomically analogous to the human fingertip.

The Sole

The sole has a whitish-yellowish, sometimes grayish color. It covers the whole space from the perimeter of the wall to the bars and the frog, on the underside of the hoof. Its deep layer has a compact, waxy character and it is called 'live sole'. Its surface is variable in character as a result of ground contact. If there is no contact, as in shod hooves or when the walls are too long or the movement poor, the lower surface of the sole has a crumbly consistency, and it is easily abraded by scratching it with a hoofpick. Conversely, it has a very hard consistency, with a smooth, bright surface, when there is a consistent, active contact with the ground. The front portion beneath the front of the pedal bone is called the 'sole callus'.

A stone bruise affects the sole of the horse's foot. It is often caused by a horse treading on a stone or sharp type of object, landings from high jumps and excessive exposure to snow. A major symptom is lameness.

The Bars

Bars are the inward folds of the wall, originating from the heels at an abrupt angle. The strong structure built up by the extremity of the heel and of the bar is named the 'heel buttress'. The sole between the heel walls and the bars is named the 'seat of corn', and it is a very important landmark used by natural hoof trimmers to evaluate the correct heel height. The bars have a three-layer structure, just like the walls. When overgrown, they bend outwards and cover the lower surface of the sole.

Internal Structures

The third phalanx (coffin bone; pedal bone; P3 is completely (or almost completely) covered by the hoof capsule. It has a crescent shape and a lower cup-like concavity. Its external surface mirrors the wall's shape. The corium, a dermo-epidermal, highly vascularized layer between the wall and the coffin bone, has a parallel, laminar shape, and is named the laminae. Laminar connection has a key role in the strength and the health of the hoof. Beneath the rear part of the sole, there is the digital cushion, which separates the frog and the bulb from underlying tendons, joints and bones, providing cushioning protection. In foals and yearlings, the digital cushion is composed of fibro-fatty, soft tissue. In the adult horse, it hardens into a fibro cartilagineous tissue when sufficient, consistent concussion stimulates the back of the hoof. Normal transformation of the digital cushion into fibrocartilagineous tissue is now considered a key goal, both for prevention of, and for rehabilitation of recovering cases of navicular syndrome. The flexor tendon lays deeper, just along the posterior surface of the small pastern bone (PII) and navicular bone, and it connects with posterior surface of P3; the navicular functions as a pulley.

   Sagittal section of a wild horse hoof. Pink: soft tissues; light gray: bones (P2, P3 and navicular bone); blue: tendons; red: corium; yellow: digital cushion; dark gray: frog; orange: sole; brown: walls)



There are several disorders and injuries that can affect the equine hoof. Laminitis and Navicular Disease are two of the most serious. Thrush, a common bacterial infection, can become serious if left untreated. Quiltor, an infection of the lower leg that can travel under the hoof, is also sometimes seen, although most commonly in draft horses.

Quarter cracks are vertical splits in a hoof wall, most commonly seen on the inside of the front hooves or the outside of the hind hooves. They can result from poor shoeing and management practices, natural hoof conformation, or injuries to the leg and hoof.

Dewormers To Use For The Best Protection

Posted by Nicole Nauss on January 27, 2014 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (202)


If you choose to deworm your horse orally  follow this deworming schedule to gain the best parasite protection for your horse or horses. Remeber its best to deworm all the horses at the same time to keep from recontamination.

Tapeworms, bots, flies, roundworms, and many other parasites love to make their home in your horse's digestive tract. Generally a horse can handle a few parasites, but when they become too concentrated in the horse's digestive tract, they can wreck havoc and cause devastating effects to your horse's overall health and well-being.

There are many different equine deworming medications on the market today, all offering to be the best. The simple truth is that many of them contain the same active ingredient and are manufactured under different names. Price and appearance are often the only differences between deworming medications that contain the same active ingredient.


There are four main equine deworming medications: ivermectin, moxidectin, fenbendazole and pyrantal pamoate. They all have different uses and when combined together provide complete parasite protection for your horse. The worming schedule you follow does depend slightly upon the type of horse and their use, but most pasture kept horses can follow this simple deworming rotation.


The pasture kept horse should be dewormed every 6-8 weeks. The most effective deworming rotation you can follow for your horse is this: fenbendazole in the deep of winter, ivermectin or moxidectin in the early spring, pyrantal pamoate in summer, fenbendazole in late summer, ivermectin or moxidectin in the first freeze, and another pyrantal pamoate in the early winter.


Depending on how often you wish to administer the deworming medication, you may need to add another 1-2 doses throughout the year. The most important part of the schedule is that you administer the pyrantal pamoate at the beginning of the grazing season, and again at the end of the grazing season. Try to split these two doses 6 months apart for optimum coverage. April and October are two great months to administer a pyrantal pamoate deworming medication.


Some horse owners choose to skip the fenbendazole dewormer and just rotate between the ivermectin or moxidectin and the pyrantal pamoate. This schedule works great as well. It will be less expensive than rotating with the fenbendazole as well, so if you are trying to budget for less expense, omitting the fenbendazole may be your best option.


The reason you need to use more than one deworming medication is because there is no product that protects your horse from all the parasites that may affect them. Each medication is known for the parasites it can destroy.


Ivermectin is one of the best equine deworming medications on the market. It kills many of the parasites that affect your horse. The main reason it cannot be used exclusively is that is does not target tapeworms or encysted small strongyles. Another great benefit to ivermectin is that it is not susceptible to parasite resistance. This is a great pro to these deworming medications. Some brand name ivermectin medications include: Equell, IverCare, Equimectrin, Zimectrin, and Rotectin 1. Ivermectin needs to be administered every 6-8 weeks, with 2 rotations substituted for the pyrantal pamoate.


Moxidectin is another great equine deworming medication. It kills most of the parasite including the encysted small strongyles. Moxidectin des not kill tapeworms, so another deworming medication needs to be rotated through for complete parasite protection. Another benefit to moxidectin is that you only need to administer it every 8-12 weeks. The brand name of the equine deworming medication containing moxidectin is Quest.


Fenbendazole is the most effective medication against small strongyles, commonly called bloodworms. It keeps up with these intense parasites that may not be completely killed by the other deworming medications. Substituting one or two ivermectin doses with fenbendazole may be worth staying ahead of these pesky parasites. Fenbendazole can be administered in a power dose that is made of 5 double doses spread throughout 5 days. The brand names of fenbendazole are Safe-guard and Panacur.


Pyrantal pamoate is the most effective medication to reduce the number of tapeworms in a horse's digestive tract. A routine dose provides a protection rate of 88%. You can double dose to increase this rate to 83%. Tapeworms only affect horses that are pastured, so if your horse is never sent to pasture, you do not need to worry about this parasite. Use pyrantal pamoate at the start and end of grazing season to rid the tapeworms acquired through grazing.


Dosing directions are always included with any equine deworming medication. You need to know the approximate weight of your horse. It is not recommended to save any unused medications that may be left in single dose syringes. The bacteria from a horse's mouth can enter and contaminate the medication. It is also very important that you keep a record of when you administer each dose of equine deworming medication. Never use a deworming product that was designed for a different animal on your horse.


By following this schedule and rotating ivermectin, moxidectin, fenbendazole and pyrantal pamoate, your horse should not suffer the devastating effects of parasites. Maintaining a healthy digestive tract in your horse is very important. Be sure to always provide clean water and feed to help prevent parasites from being consumed by your horse.


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