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Preventing colic in the Winter

by Karen Tharp on 03/04/13

Decrease temperatures, lack of riding time can lead to colic. 
Here are some preventative steps you can take to keep your horse colic free.

Winter is here. Along with colder temperatures, winter also brings an increase in the incidence of colic. Taking preventative steps during these cold days may help in staving off the dreaded colic.

To understand the reason, it is important to understand that colic is not a disease or illness. It is not something contagious; it is symptom, a clinical sign. Colic is simply abdominal pain. However, there are some cases of colic which is if not treated through surgical intervention can lead to death.

During the winter months, horses tend to drink less water. This combined with the fact that hay contains less water than in the spring and summer, and an increase in “stemy” alfalfa, you have a great combination for colic. Increasing the temperature of their drinking water to at least 45 degrees will entice the horse to drink. Water helps move food through the digestive tract, without it the process of digestion slows down.

Providing salt will also help in retention of water. Salt is a vital mineral in helping to retain water. It also helps in regulating the consumption of water.

The other factor is the lack of exercise due to inclement weather. With a lack of exercise, horses do not produce enough digestive stimulation to get the digestive system working properly.

The last factor for winter colic is the human factor. Many horse owners tend to increase the quantity of grain for their horses during the winter months in the belief that an increase in grain will provide them “winter weight” for insulation. However, the increase in carbohydrates will upset the digestive process.

If you want to provide more food for your horse, provide more fiber in the form of roughage rather than grain.  The extra hay will provide them the calories for warmth much more than grains.

So here are some final tips:

  1. Provide horses access to clean water. Horses will not drink water full of debris or tastes foul.
  2. In areas where freezing is an issue, provide a heater for their water buckets.
  3. Provide salt blocks.
  4. Turn your horses out as much as possible when not riding. Unless it is raining cats and dogs or freezing snow, horses do much better outside. Just provide blankets if temperature is below 40.
  5. Do not increase grain quantity; instead provide them with extra hay.

U.S.D.A. May Approve Horse Slaughtering

by Karen Tharp on 03/01/13

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The United States Department of Agriculture is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico in the next two months, which would allow equine meat suitable for human consumption to be produced in the United States for the first time since 2007.

Sally Ryan for The New York Times

Some horse auctions, like this one in Shipshewana, Ind., also deal in animals destined for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

Readers’ Comments

The plant, in Roswell, N.M., is owned by Valley Meat Company, which sued the U.S.D.A. and its Food Safety and Inspection Service last fall over the lack of inspection services for horses going to slaughter. Horse meat cannot be processed for human consumption in the United States without inspection by the U.S.D.A., so horses destined for that purpose have been shipped to places like Mexico and Canada for slaughter.

Justin DeJong, a spokesman for the agriculture department, said that “several” companies had asked the agency to re-establish inspection of horses for slaughter. “These companies must still complete necessary technical requirements and the F.S.I.S. must complete its inspector training,” he wrote in an e-mail referring to the food inspection service, “but at that point, the department will legally have no choice but to go forward with the inspections.”

He said the Obama administration was urging Congress to reinstate an effective ban on the production of horse meat for human consumption that lapsed in 2011.

The impending approval comes amid growing concern among American consumers that horse meat will somehow make its way into ground beef products in the United States as it has done in Europe. Major companies, including Tesco, Nestlé and Ikea, have had to pull food from shelves in 14 countries after tests showed that products labeled 100 percent beef actually contained small amounts of horse meat. Horse meat is not necessarily unsafe, and in some countries, it is popular. But some opponents of horse slaughtering say consumption of horse meat is ill-advised because of the use of various kinds of drugs in horses.

“We now have the very real prospect of a horse slaughtering plant operating in the U.S. for the first time in six years,” said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. The last plant that slaughtered horse meat for human consumption in the United States closed in 2007, after Congressional approval of an appropriations bill that included a rider forbidding the U.S.D.A. from financing the inspection of such meat. That rider was renewed in subsequent appropriations bills until 2011, when Congress quietly removed it from an omnibus spending act.

That opened the door for a renewal of the horse slaughter business, but only if the U.S.D.A. re-established inspections. The agency never moved to restart its equine inspection service.

Valley Meat sued Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, and Al Almanza, the head of thefood safety inspection service, charging that the department’s failure to offer inspection of horse meat violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

That law directs the agriculture department to appoint inspectors to examine “all amenable species” before they enter a slaughtering facility.

“Amenable species” were animals subject to the act the day before it was enacted, including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses and mules.

A. Blair Dunn, the lawyer for Valley Meat, said that the Justice Department recently asked the company for an additional 60 days to file a response to its lawsuit. Mr. Dunn said the Justice Department indicated it was asking for the extra time because “the U.S.D.A. plans to issue a grant of inspection within that time, which would allow my clients to begin operations.” Mr. Dunn said that Valley Meat had hired experts in the humane treatment of horses for slaughter and was training employees. The company is not planning to sell meat in the United States, at least at the outset of its operations. “Last spring, they were in discussions with several companies in European countries about exporting their products,” he said of his clients. “I’m sure if markets do develop in this country for horse meat for human consumption, they will look at them.”

He cautioned that Valley Meat might still face challenges to opening, noting that several parties had filed briefs on both sides of the case. The Humane Society has petitioned the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration to delay approval of any facility for horse slaughter, raising questions about the presence of drugs like phenylbutazone, which is used to treat inflammation in horses.

Conversely, R-CALF USA, an organization representing about 5,000 family cattle ranching operations, has filed a brief supporting Valley Meat’s legal case. Bill Bullard, its chief executive, said his members needed horse slaughtering facilities to humanely dispose of the horses they used in their businesses once they became old or incapacitated.

“Beginning in 2006, when inspections were temporarily prohibited, these U.S. horses continue to be slaughtered in foreign countries like Mexico and Canada,” Mr. Bullard said. “We believe the Mexicans do not adhere to the same humane standards as in the United States, and so some of our members won’t sell their horses.”

Mr. Pacelle said he had been surprised to see anyone from the beef industry supporting horse slaughter. “For the cattle industry, it is a self-destructive move, since the more horse meat that’s circulating, the greater the chance it will infiltrate the food supply and decrease consumer confidence in beef,” he said.

Here is I how I teach a horse to take its leads!

by Karen Tharp on 02/28/13

Teaching your horse to lope off on the correct lead can be achieved in three simple steps: the set-up, the cue and the release. 

Step 1: The Set-Up
The key to getting the correct lead every time is to set the horse up properly for the lope departure before asking for a particular lead. The horse’s outside hind leg is his driving leg. Therefore, if that leg is underneath the horse when he is cued to lope, there is a better chance that he will lope off correctly.

When loping off from a standstill, allow the horse to take two or three steps to make sure the horse is in a good frame to lope off correctly. “

Step 2: The Cue

When teaching a young horse to lope for the first time, work in a large circle and uses your outside leg to push the horse into the lope. If you want to lope off to the left, trot the horse in a circle to the left and push with your outside leg until the horse picks up the correct lead.

Step 3: The Release

Once the horse understands how to lope and which lead to pick up, refine the cue. Put your outside leg on the horse to ask for the lope, but when he tries to lope off, hold him back. Then, when ready to lope, cluck, release the horse, and let him lope off.”

The horse learns that, when pushed with his outside leg, he is to move his hip away from the leg but wait for the verbal cue to lope off. The cue to lope is clucking.

Loping Don’ts

Don’t turn your horse’s nose to the outside. Only do that on a young horse the first two or three times you ask him to lope, until he understands what your asking. Don’t want to make a habit out of it. You want the horse looking to the inside when loping off.

Don’t lean in to influence your horse to pick up a particular lead. On a younger horse, you may want to lean forward a little bit, but on a broke horse expect the horse to do all the work. When you put your leg on the horse and cluck, expect him to pick up the correct lead without having to push or lean.

Hope this helps!

One is Never Too Old to Learn!!!

by Karen Tharp on 05/30/12

We have had two new additions to our herd.  Grace our Paint black and white tobiano mare had a beautiful palomino and white colt. We named him Twister’s Little Buckaroo. So lucky Royal Lady (Nicky) had a beautiful Palomino Filly, we named her Twister’s Royal Star.  Both sets are doing great.

 In hopes that Brad’s niece Lacy reads this.  March 26, 2012 we were invited to attend Lacey’s wedding (Congrats Lacy), we were unable to attend because Nicky was 15 days overdue.  Brad and I both regret not being able to attend, but it was a very good thing we didn’t.

 Shayne woke Brad and me up at 11:30 with the news that Nicky was down and having her baby.  So we crept out to investigate.  I wanted to be present for the birthing for two reasons.  The first being she was 15 days passed her due date and there could be trouble.  The second reason is that I feel imprinting the foal is very important.

 Unfortunately the first reason came into play here.  Nicky was flat on her side pushing very hard, but all that was out was the head and one leg.  I have been through the birthing process many times with our mares, so I knew there was a problem.  I told Shayne to go get me some towels.  I didn’t know how bad it was going to get, so I wanted towels to dry the baby off if we needed to do that.

 I went in with Nicky she jumped up.  I was hoping she would stay lying, but she didn’t.  So I asked Brad to get her halter.  I knew we’d need some way to hold the mare.  When Brad came back with the halter, Shayne was back with the towels.  With Shayne’s help I placed the halter on the mare.

I really wanted her lying down so I told Shayne to hold her.  I went to her rear to look at the situation.  The foals head was completely out as well as one leg.  I knew this wasn’t good.  After telling Shayne to hold her and talk soothingly to her, I attempted to push the foal back in.  The foals head and leg were still inside the sack.  The sack was still intact. 

 After some pushing, I succeeded in getting the head and leg back in.  I then pushed my hand and arm inside the mare to find the missing leg.  It was folded back under the foal; I knew it need to be unfolded. I pull the leg forward and made sure the foals head was placed between both front legs.

 After doing this I went to Nicky’s head, Brad and Shayne went to her rear to catch the foal.  I knew there was no way to get her to lie down, so she’d have it standing.  Brad and Shayne did a great job catching the little filly

 Have you ever heard the Proverb, “You’re never too old to learn.”? Brad and I found out we were not too old to learn.  Shayne investigated to find out if it was a colt or filly, he said, “It’s a filly but her teets are really swelled up.”  I didn’t think anything of the swelling I figured it was from have a difficult birth.

 The next day her teets had double in size.  She looked like she had an udder just like her mom.  My first thought was, “OH no she has a hernia.”  Upon closer investigation I found that it was indeed an utter, she was full of Milk.  I became worried; I have had many fillies and have never seen this.  So I have a motto, when in doubt surf the net for answers.

I could find nothing about a foal less than a day old having her own Milk bag.  Brad and I talked it over and we decided to wait and see if it dried up.  After completing chores the next morning Brad informed me that the filly’s utter was dripping milk.  This really concerned me.

 So I got on the phone and called one of my favorite vets, who lives and practices in Michigan.  I explained to him what was happening.  To my astonishment he informed me that he didn’t know what it was.  He said he had never seen or heard of it.  He suggested that I call a University and talk to one of the reproduction vets.

I thanked him and then called Oklahoma State University.  I got an answering machine, so I left a message.  I then pulled up Yellow pages for our area and started calling vets.  I talked to four, none knew what was happening.  They were all astonished.  A few even told me it couldn’t be Milk it had to be an abscess.  I told them no its Milk coming from the sack not puss.  I have never seen milk come from an abscess.  After telling the symptoms so many times, I went back to the yellow pages and looked up an equine embryo center.  They didn’t know what was going on but the secretary gave me the name and number of a lady that specializes in the reproduction of cow’s goats and horses.

I called; this lady knew what it was.  She said it’s very rare, but she had seen it before.  She explained that clover carries a fungus that can cause the formation of extra estrogen hormones.  These hormones can cause a mare that isn’t bred to form milk.

 If the mare is bred these hormones are passed to the unborn filly.  This causes the filly to be born producing milk.  She explained the filly needed to be watched, if the bag didn’t start drying up she would need a shot of 3cc’s of penicillin a day for ten days.  She said the bag should start going down after the baby is 3 days old.  She explained if it didn’t the filly could get mastitis, or it could damage her ability to produce milk later.

 Today Brad checked her bag and delightfully reports that her bag is half the size it was.  So she is on her way to being Milk free.  I thought this might really interest my readers.  I went on line and did a little research on clover.

I found that clovers especially red clover and sub-terranian clover contain phyto-oestrogens which are a fungus on the clover that interfere with hormones and reproduction. These can turn mares into nymphomaniacs and geldings into stallions! They also increase the number of services to conceive.  So if you have a Studdy gelding he may not be proud cut, it might be clover. If you have a mare that will not conceive she may not be a maiden mare it may be clover.

So see one is never too old to learn something new!!!  Have a great day!!

Foal Imprinting and Training

by Karen Tharp on 05/20/12

At Rising Sun Stables we start foal training as soon as the baby hits the ground.  Foal training is one of the most exciting experiences for anyone who loves horses. Working with newborn foals requires patience, consistency and tenacity.

What many horse owners do not realize is that it is essential to work with mare and foal together, as a package, rather than just focusing on foal training. The two horses are linked both biologically and emotionally from the beginning, and it is a mistake to neglect the mother when working with newborn foals.

Create Relationships in Foal Training 

Although it might seem strange to compare foal training with raising a human infant, there are plenty of similarities. Regardless of species, babies start to form relationships immediately; in the case of a newborn foal, relationships exist both with other horses and with humans. It is the trainer's job to begin fostering these relationships immediately. Natural horsemanship teaches that horses communicate in very transparent ways, and horse trainers can increase the effectiveness of their efforts by studying equine communication.

foal imprint training is one of the most common ways to do this. Essentially, imprinting is the process of bonding newborn foals to their handlers in much the same way that they imprint on their mothers. The best way to create relationships in foal training is to spend as much time with the foal as possible.

Start Foal Halter Training Early

One of the primary goals of working with newborn foals is to establish a foundation for future training. When a rider mounts a horse, the fundamental means of communication is through pressure: Shifting weight from one seat bone to the other, squeezing with the calves, directing with the reins.

Foal halter training creates an understanding of pressure right from the start. The foal learns, for example, that when the handler exerts backward pressure on the lead rope, the foal should stop. Similarly, forward pressure indicates the foal should move forward.

This is also the best way to show foals that they cannot escape things that scare them. They learn to confront their fears because the handler has established boundaries in foal halter training.

Expose the Foal to New Things

An excellent goal when working with newborn foals is to introduce the animal to something new every day. It might be as simple as taking a walk in an unfamiliar area of the property, using a different brush during grooming or bringing a new horse or human around.

Larger exposures might involve giving the foal her first bath, picking her hooves, running clippers near her ears and face or loading her in a trailer.

Each of these activities desensitizes the horse and makes each new experience less terrifying. Essentially, she learns that her handler means her no harm.


Other new experiences include:

  • Putting on a different type of halter
  • Fly-spraying the foal
  • Walking the foal around the arena
  • Turning him out with other horses
  • Wrapping his legs

Start with Mom

Even with a handled foal, he will eventually experience something from which he desires to run away. This is normal and does not mean the handler has made a mistake.

Rather than forcing a scary experience during foal training, show him that it isn't as scary as he thinks. One way to do this is to start with mare and foal rather than the foal by himself. For example, if the foal is scared of the clippers, the handler should let him watch Mom with the clippers. Once he sees she is not afraid, he will be more likely to accept the clippers.

The same goes for walking in new places during foal training. Let's say the foal does not want to walk over a bridge. In this case, Mom should be led over the bridge first so the foal can watch, then mare and foal can go over the bridge together.

Foal Training Should Happen in Small Increments

Most people have experienced sensory overload at some point in their lives. This can happen to foals as well, and trying to push too many new sensations and experiences at one time will actually delay the foal training process.

In most cases, it is best to limit working with newborn foals to 15-minute increments. If the foal hasn't accepted the new experience within that time limit, return to it tomorrow or later in the day. As the foal approaches his one-year mark, the handler can gradually increase that time to half an hour.

Working with newborn foals is an extraordinary experience that gets easier over time. Handlers should realize they will make mistakes, whether they are using the principles of natural horsemanship or not. Indeed, all trainers must find their own methods as they gain experience.

I hope people find these blog helpful.  

Have a great DAY!!!!!

Foaling Management

by Karen Tharp on 05/15/12

The birth of a foal is a highly anticipated event for many horse owners.  Good management practices are very important for successful breeding program.  A live, healthy foal represents the investment of a lot time, money and effort.  Management is especially important prior to the time the foal is weaned.  The mare and foal should be on a regular worming, exercise, vaccination schedule along with an adequate nutritional program.  

If you’re new to the breeding process, it is also best to establish a relationship with a veterinarian who will be available for advice and/or emergency calls.  Early management can impact future health throughout the foal's life.

The gestation period of individual mares can change from one year to the next.  The "normal" length of gestation is 340 days; however this is an average, "normal "pregnancies range from 315 to 375 days. 

Preparing For Foaling 

Approximately four to six weeks prior to the anticipated foaling date, the mare should be boosted with vaccines to provide high levels of antibodies in her colostrums (first milk).  Consult your veterinarian for recommendations on which vaccines to administer, but as a minimum, the mare should be boosted with tetanus toxic
Preparing the Foaling Area or Stall

A foaling stall can be used but here at Rising Sun Stables we move the mare to a foaling area outside.  We feel foaling outside creates a healthier foal. We move the mare two to three weeks before her foaling due date.  This lets the mare settle in and become acquainted with her new surroundings.  If using a foaling stall, the stall should be prepared well in advance.  It should be at least 12 feet by 14 feet, clean, located in a quiet area of the barn and maintained at a comfortable temperature.  The stall should be checked over very closely for protruding nails, splintering wood or anything else that could damage the newly born foal.  Feed and water containers should be positioned in such a way that they cannot interfere with foaling or injure the newborn foal as it struggles to its feet and learns to walk.  

During the last month of pregnancy the signs observed will help determine when to change feeding practices and when to move prepare foaling area or stall. 

Signs of Approaching Foaling

Mares may exhibit all or none of the following signs:

Musculature around the tail head becomes soft and flaccid 2 to 4 weeks before foaling.
The genitalia relaxes
The udder begins to fill during the same period.
The mare  may show signs of uneasiness during the last two weeks of  gestation
Waxing of the teats (sticky droplets on the ends of the teats) occurs 24 to 28 hours before giving birth.
Milky fluid may leak from the teats for hours or days before the labor onset. 
Protrusion of "Milk Veins" along the lower side of the abdomen.
Some mares, especially maiden mares, might not produce milk until after foaling. 
Tail or Hindquarters rubbing.

One or Two Weeks before Expected Foaling

Move the mare to a foaling area or stall and change the feed ration.  It is recommended that the grain be reduced and a more bulky ration be fed.  A mare should be switched to a ration which includes bran at least 1 week before foaling.  This ration will also discourage heavy milk flow, thereby decreasing the chance of scours in the foal and mastitis in the mare.  After foaling, the grain can be increased gradually over a ten day period until a full grain ration is resumed. 
Final Preparations 

Keep the mare in the foaling area or stall. If possible, an experienced person should attend her.  This attendant can be helpful if problems arise but must know his or her limitations and call a veterinarian without delay when problem signs appear.  Please look at our list of commonly used items to have on hand at foaling.  Wash the mare's the udder and genitalia with a mild soap.  A wrap on the mares tail can be used, but her at Rising Sun Stables we don’t use one.  We make sure the mares tail is kept clean. We try to keep everything as close to natural as possible.  We believe this makes for a strong healthy foal.  If you choose to wrap the tail, wrap the tail and readjust wrap (remove and reapply) several times each day until foaling is complete. 
The Three Stages of Labor 

STAGE 1 - During the first stage of labor which will last from 2 to 24 hours, the muscles of the pelvic girdle relax, allowing the bones to spread so the foal can be positioned toward the birth canal.  Movement is often noticeable as the foal turns into position. The abdominal wall above the flank and behind the ribs becomes concave, and the trailhead becomes more prominent. 

Uterine contractions cause nervousness, erratic eating, and sweating, pacing, tail switching and frequent urination. Colic can also cause these signs, and it is possible for a mare to become colicky from constipation prior to foaling.  If the colic signs become severe or the signs continue for hours, call a veterinarian.
STAGE 2 - The second stage of labor can last from a few to 30 minutes and include contractions and delivery.  It is important to leave the mare alone at this point if birth is progressing normally. Disturbances may interrupt or prolong the birth process.  The mare has very powerful uterine contractions, and when the unborn foal is positioned in the birth canal properly, delivery can occur in a relatively short period of time (10 to 15 minutes).  Birth usually occurs shortly after the outer water bag ruptures. 

If birth does not occur within a reasonable length of time (20 to 30 minutes) after strong contractions begin or shortly after the rupture of the water bag, malpositioning may be present, and a veterinarian should be notified.  Presentation of the foal's front feet occurs first in a normal delivery, soles down, relatively close together, one slightly more advanced than the other to help reduce the circumference of the foal's shoulders and easing passage through the pelvis, the nose of the foal should be tucked between the extended forelegs near the knees. 
Most mares position themselves on their sides, with their legs fully extended during the delivery of the foal; however, some insist on standing.  Standing mares should be held to prevent excessive walking.  If the mare delivers standing, someone should catch the foal and gently lower it to the ground to prevent injuring the newborn foal and to prevent the tearing of the umbilical opening in the abdominal wall and predispose the foal to a hernia. The urachus (tube leading to the urinary bladder) may also tear, causing urine leakage into the foals abdomen. If the mare lies down next to a wall or fence, make sure there is plenty of room for the foal's delivery, or cause the mare to rise and allow her to select another location not so close to an obstacle.

The mare will usually rest after the passage of the shoulders and again after the passage of the hips. Do not pull on a foal progressing slowly through the vagina.  If birth progress stops for more than ten minutes in one spot, apply gentle traction times with the contractions.  If the foal feels "locked in," rotate the body one way, then the other; this might allow the hips to slip through the pelvic opening of the mare.  Call a veterinarian if this technique is not immediately successful. Walk the mare until the veterinarian arrives. 
Suspect malposition of the foal and call a veterinarian when:

only one foot is present
more than two feet are visible
feet are upside down
the nose does not appear
The nose appears without the front feet. 

As the foal emerges, the inner sac usually breaks.  If the sac does not break, free the foal from the sac and wipe the nose and mouth.  Foals not breathing well should be rubbed vigorously with a towel to stimulate breathing.  Allow the foal to lie quietly behind the mare for 10 to 25 minutes until the pulsations in the umbilical cord cease.  This allows the foal to receive the blood remaining in the placenta still attached to the uterus.  Then crush or cut the navel cord and separate it three inches from the body and dip in antiseptic to destroy bacteria, help dry up the stump, and prevent infections.  Dip the stump again in a few hours.  Some individuals also dip the feet (a possible portal of entry for bacteria).  Caution should be used as a mare’s disposition can change quickly from friendly to aggressive at this time due to maternal instinct. 

STAGE 3 - The afterbirth is expelled during the final stage of labor with the aid of uterine contractions.  This process usually occurs within 1 hour, with normal range from 10 minutes to 3 hours.  
Once the membranes are expelled, these contractions continue to decrease the size of the uterus. Colicky symptoms may also appear at these times which are caused by contractions of the uterine muscles.  The placenta is expelled inside out.  Membranes which are not expelled within four hours are considered retained.  A veterinarian should treat a mare with retained afterbirth to prevent possible uterine infection and founder (laminitis).  Membranes which are passed should be saved in the plastic bag for the veterinarian to examine.  Self examination can be performed, you can fill the placenta with water, any tears or missing parts may indicate the mare has retained a portion of the placenta.  Retained placenta, even small pieces, could impair future breeding ability. 

During this time, the mare will clean the foal which should be trying to stand.  Foals not standing within the first 2 to 4 hours after birth may be weak or abnormal and may require special treatment. The mare should be "milked out" and the foal fed 4 to 8 ounces.  This will stimulate most of the slow starters.  The foal also needs first milk (colostrums) before 6 hours pass to help combat    disease and to aid in eliminating fecal material which has built up in the intestinal tract. 

"Milking out" a small amount of milk by hand will open and clean the tear ducts.  Check the teats for soreness.  Some mares will not accept their foal readily if their udder is inflamed.  Once on his feet, the foal will generally find his way to the udder.   Let the foal find the teat himself; to help him by forcing his head is futile.  Maiden mares should be held during this first nursing in the event they become anxious and kick at the foal.
An enema to help the foal pass meconium (sticky feces in the rectum and colon) is a preventive step because retained meconium in the intestine can harden and become impacted, causing the foal to strain to defecate and flag his tail back and forth.  A word of warning regarding the enema:  lubricate the tip and gently place no more than 1 inch inside the anus and all care should be taken to prevent the perforation of the intestine.   The foal usually passes pieces of yellow-yellow brown manure (meconium).  If the foal fails to defecate, becomes constipated or colicky, call a veterinarian.
Soon after parturition a veterinarian should examine the mare and foal for abnormalities such as cleft palate, heart defects, cataracts and musculoskeletal disorders.  At this time, the veterinarian can also vaccinate against tetanus and administer any appropriate antibiotics.  He should also examine the mare for damage to the reproductive tract and palpate the udder to check for  mastitis. The mare should receive a tetanus toxoid injection at this time.  The placenta should be examined to make sure it  is completely intact. 
The foaling process is lots of work, but the rewards of a heath foal make it all worthwhile.  I don’t want anyone to think after the foaling process is done the work stops, it doesn’t.  Raising a healthy foal with lots of ground manners can be fun.  One needs to remember, these babies are so cute and it’s fun to play with them.  Remember the way you play with them can become bad habits in a full size horse.  Babies should be handled just as you would a grown horse.
Have fun!!!!!!

Foaling-Kit Checklist

Immediately following birth:

A bright flashlight, for visibility.
Two one-foot-long pieces of clean cotton string, for tying off your foal's umbilical stump--if and only if it bleeds excessively. If bleeding isn’t excessive do nothing.
Two three-foot-long pieces of clean cotton string, for tying up the afterbirth 
Scissors to trim the string.
A clean squeeze bottle filled with umbilical-stump disinfectant. I use a solution of iodine and peroxide). Consult your vet for his/her preference.

A few hours after foaling up to 1 day:

a foal bottle

A pre-warmed Fleet enema. (To warm, place it in a water bath that's 95 degrees Fahrenheit, then keep it in an insulated Thermos bottle or coffee carafe.)

A woven-plastic feed sack (which won't weaken when it gets wet) for the afterbirth 

I will be starting the blog again very soon!!!

by Karen Tharp on 05/15/12

Sorry I haven't been keeping you informed!!  I will be starting the blog again very soon!!

The health of the mare during gestation is key!

by Karen Tharp on 09/25/11

The mare needs to be a healthy weight not fat and not thin. Moderate exercise is good, in fact I ride my mares when they are in foal up to about the 9th month. A frequent question is what to feed a brrodmare. The amount to feed really depends on the individual horse, and any change in feed must be done gradually to prevent colic.  For hay all mares and foals get free choice pasture. I don’t start graining the mare’s unless they are on the thin side till their last month of pregnancy.

If you grain to early it can cause the foal to be too large and cause serious problems.  After the foal is born  we grain the first couple months then we turn mom and foal out to pasture.  The foals do great, they grow better if they are allowed to run and play in a large area. 

When it time to wean we bring the foals in and they get grained morning and night  We give them 16% mare and foal feed.  They get one scoop twice a day.  This keeps their body weight up and also helps calm them down, they soon learn you are the source of their food and are usually waiting for you at feeding time.

If you have a mare that’s going to foal I hope this helps!  If you have a foal just remember they are cute and funny when they are little but they grow into horses.  So all the cute little things you let them get away with now, will be bad habits when they get big so please be careful.

Have a great day.

Getting your horse to take a problem lead

by Karen Tharp on 09/11/11

My blog today is going to be how to get your horse to take a problem lead!

When you're riding a horse that you've just started, you'll notice he almost always takes the same lead, no matter which  direction he is loping.  This is normal.  Just like people who are left or right handed, most colts will be  left or right leaded.  It's not a big deal or something you should be overly concerned  about.

All you really need to do is get your horse to lope on his bad  lead until he gets comfortable with it.  Once he gets used to loping in either lead, then you can start 
adding refinement to his lead departures. 
Of course, the problem is getting him to take the BAD lead to begin with.

Let's say the colt won't pick up the right lead.  I trot the horse alongside the fence, placing the fence on my right. My horse will be parallel and about 6’ from the fence. From the walk or trot, I'll turn the colt into the fence. Halfway through that turn, I'll kick him with my outside leg (which would be my left leg) and I'll cluck to him to pick up the lope. If he won't pick up the lope, I might swat him on the butt with the end of the rein. If I can get him to turn to the right and pick up the lope at the same time, he is almost forced to pick up that right lead. 

I should point out, if you have to swat the colt on the butt to get him to pick up the lope, make sure you swat him on the side “opposite” from the lead. In other words, if you want him to pick up the “right” lead, swat him on the “left” hip. 

Also, it’s important to handle your reins correctly when doing this. Let's say you're going to turn the colt into the fence to the right.  Cross your reins and put them in your right hand. Have your right rein shorter than your left rein so you can turn him into the fence “nose first” with a direct rein.
Have the end of your rein in your left hand so that when you turn into the fence, halfway through you can pop him on the butt.
The timing of this is pretty critical, halfway through the turn — while he's facing the fence - use your outside (left) leg.  Right after you bump him with your outside leg, you swat him on the butt with the end of the rein using your left hand. If you want, you could use a bat to pop him on the hip, instead of the rein.
Sometimes you’ll have a horse that will pick up the correct lead – but then take a couple strides and switch to the wrong lead again. The way you fix that is to ride him into a circle “immediately” after he picks up the lead.
If he won't hold the “right” lead, you’d turn him into the fence, jump him into the right lead, and then lope him into a circle to the “right”.
Here is the sequence of steps to pick up the right lead: Ride parallel to a fence on your right

1.  Turn to the right, into the fence  
2.  halfway thought the turn, kick with your outside (left) leg 
3.  If necessary, swat on the outside (left) hip with the rein or bat
4.  Go into the lope 
5.  Circle to the right to encourage him stay on the right lead  

If you’ll be consistent with this procedure, it will have your colt picking up the correct lead almost every time.  However, when you first start this, you have to make sure you don’t overdo it. Repeating it two or three times each direction, is probably enough on a particular ride.

Don't do it so many times in one ride that you scare him half to death. Do it just enough to give him the idea and that’s all. If he gets it, great.  If he doesn't get it, wait until the following day to try it again.  That way you'll keep him calm and your progress will be smoother.

This will work on any horse that is having lead change trouble.

Hope every one has had a great weekend Until next time, take care.


More On Respect

by Karen Tharp on 09/08/11

Hello everyone Hope you are doing great!  Life is going great, I'm still working with Mason.  I have been ground driving him.  He has decided that he doesn't need to back up.

He has decided that he's a barrel horse and shouldn't have to back, so I have decided to take him back to the basics.   I round penned him, starting with the basic ground work .

Then to his disgrace he has a tie down on, a girt strap, and driving reins.  Mason has never been a rearer, but I have recently seen a new side to him.  After being worked last night he now backs, walks, turns and stops on command.

I have had Mason for 12 years, this goes to show that it doesn't matter how long you have had a horse, many time you may have to start them back at the basics to regain their respect.

I'm guessing with Mason I lost his respect when I was away for a while.  Then When I got back he was very ill.  Whatever the reason, always remember you can't win a fight with a horse.  So if you see signs of disrespect, go back to the basics and regain their respect.

I have another question I'd like to share with you:


Hi Karen,

I have been reading your blog and I was wondering if you could give me some advice.

I have a 6 year old gelding who was only broken in the summer of last year.  Its a very slow process. My main problem with him is that he tries to bully me.

He rears and tries to scare me, when we are going forward he would stop and refuse to go on. he is making me very nervous. HELP

Susanne Stafford

My Answer:

Hi Susanne,
Your problem is a common one.

I'm impressed that you recognize what your horse is doing to you. Many riders seem to never have a clue.

Anyway, the root of your horse's belligerent attitude is that he doesn't respect you.

He's testing your authority. He sees no reason why he should cooperate. After all, nothing unpleasant is happening to him for exhibiting his bad behavior.

You need to apply some discipline to get him to understand that you expect him to be good. He needs to realize there is a price to pay for bullying you around.

First, you need to make him behave and do exactly what you want on the ground. If he gives you any attitude or refuses to try, discipline him.

Once he has respect for your authority on the ground, it will be much easier to get him to do what you want when you are on his back.

You should notice a change in his attitude after a few sessions.  If you are still having problems after a week or so contact me and I'll see if I can give you  some more help.

Take care and good luck to you.

Hope everyone has a great day enjoy!!!!

R. E. S. P. E. C. T

by Karen Tharp on 09/07/11

Our holiday went great, hope yours did to!  I started working my barrel horse Mason.  I'm hoping to build him back up.  He was very ill when we moved him from Michigan, his body weight has more than doubled.

I'm hoping I can get him back in shape and barrel race him starting in the spring of 2012.  He has a long way to go before he is fit enough to run.  He will be back to his old self soon.

I received some more questions and I'd like to share one with you!  Remember if you have any questions you can post them here on the site or Email them to me at karentharp@risingsunstables.com,if you don't want me to share your email just let me know.


I have never had so many problems with my horse since he got gelded.

Now every time I ride him he bucks for like 10 minutes and I thought that gelding was suppose to mellow a horse out and I am having lots of problems.

He doesn't respect me anymore, and I really miss our bond.

He was awesome before and now it seems like he don't trust me once the saddle is on his back. Its hell.

I haven't fallen off yet but he's going to over power me one of these days.

Now when I lead him he rears but I don't want to send him to a trainer that's going to beat on him. So what should I do?


My Answer:

Hi Connie,

Let me see if I've got this right.

You say your horse has no respect for you.

You say he is getting to be dangerous to handle.

You say you know it's just a matter of time before he hurts you.

Then you say, in spite of him being extremely dangerous, you don’t want to discipline him. Hmmmmmm…

Hey, it makes perfect sense to me… NOT.

Connie, here is my question to you.

Besides disciplining him, what could you possibly do that would motivate your horse to behave?

Horses like this don't care if they hurt you.

This horse is having a great time pushing you around and using you for his personal entertainment. He's having fun doing this, what motivation does he have to stop?

Connie, it's time to get real here before you get seriously injured.

First of all, gelding him had nothing to do with the way he is acting.

This behavior has been building for a while (it's probably the real reason why you had him gelded in the first place). But his behavior now is so bad you're scared.

The bald face truth is that you need to make "bad behavior" uncomfortable for your horse or he'll only get worse. And if you can't do it, send him to somebody who can.

The consequence for not taking the appropriate action is a trip to the hospital.

SIDE NOTE: According to the latest statistics, approximately 80,000 people each year are taken to the hospital emergency room because of horse related injuries? After reading this question, are you at all surprised?

The Main reason people get hurt!

by Karen Tharp on 09/05/11

I hope everyone has had a very safe and enjoyable Labor Day.  We here at Rising Sun Stables have.

The foals are growing like weeds and we don't have any new ones yet.  We will update the photos soon.  I have received several new questions, I thought I'd share them with you!  Hope it is interesting and helpful!


I'm working a filly who was abused and is very dominant towards people. I have worked many ground hours with her and she has joined up, if I may say so, quite well.

She saddles fine and is very supple. I have been walking and trotting in arena doing circles. Today as I trotted around in a semi-small circle, she stopped and reared.

After she reared I asked for a trot again and exaggerated my posture forward. When I could feel her begin to stop and rear again, I would round my back more and lean further back.

How to correct and am I doing the right thing. I thank you.


My answer:

Hi D.A.
I wouldn't worry about your posture when the horse rears.  I'd be more concerned with knowing WHY she reared in the first place. There is always a reason for bad behavior.

Knowing "why" is the key to permanently fixing the problem.

Usually, a horse rears as a result of balking or refusing to go forward. It is  usually a sign of disrespect toward the rider or a lack of discipline.

In your email you said this mare is very dominant toward people… well, there you go. You need to change that. She needs to learn to respect people, not dominate them.

By the way, I don't buy the "she was abused" theory. If that was true, she would be afraid of people, not pushing them around.

I also don't believe that the mare "all of a sudden" just started rearing. This has been coming on for a while,  you just haven't recognized the warning signs.

Now, the other possible reason for a horse rearing is when the rider has a death-grip on the horse's mouth, so make sure the reins are loose.

You can counter the rearing by going forward.

A horse can't rear if he is moving ahead. When she begins to stop to rear, make sure the bit isn't restricting her and then spank her butt to make her go. Don't be timid with this, get her going.

Take care, enjoy the rest of your day


by Karen Tharp on 08/29/11

Brad and I have started weaning both Twister's foals.  Rocky the stud colt is doing fantastic, but I made it back to Michigan in time to be there for his birth.  When he was born I imprinted him.  

Sister was born before I could get back, and she didn't get imprinted to humans so she's not nearly as calm as Rocky.  Rocky never ran the fences calling to his mom.  So far with Sister we have had two nights of her calling her mom.

We have them penned so her mom can come up to the fence and nuzzle her, but Gracie her mom seems to think it was time for Sister to be weened.  Shes keeping her distance. 

Exactly what is foal imprinting?

When a foal is first born there is a span of about an hour where the foal will lie down and rest before drinking his mother's milk for the first time. During this small window the foal's owner will enter the stall and rub the foal down from head to tail in order to desensitize him and form a horse-human bond.

Some handlers will stick with the basics and desensitize the foal solely to touch while others will go further and desensitize the foal to paper bags, newspapers, vacuums, clippers and insertion of a finger into the anus.

Does it work?

Yes. I have imprinted some foals before the foals were able to feed for their first time and the results were wonderful. Each of the foals was not afraid of humans and would actually leave the mother's side to approach me when I visited.

Sister wasn't imprinted and isn't as easy to handle as Rocky, but she will learn that Brad and I are going to cause her no harm.  When she realizes this she to will calm down and be a joy to handle.

So remember you do want to visit your young foal as early as possible and expose him to your presence and touch.  I have not found any difference in a horse that has been imprinted within one hour of birth or a couple hours after birth, I have seen a significant difference between foals imprinted within a few hours and those not imprinted at all that first day.

Do not underestimate the power of working with those foals the first few hours and days, for those are the days where the horse will be the most impressionable. The groundwork you lay there will remain with the horse forever.

But be careful!

If you imprint a horse improperly, you can end up doing far more damage than good. Remember that the foal will be very impressionable at that age, so if you reassure him and desensitize him to certain actions or stimuli he will forever better respond to them. On the other hand if your desensitization attempts are done improperly such that the foal becomes traumatized or manages to resist your attempts instead, you will have set a difficult precedent to break in the future.

For that reason, I generally advise sticking with the basics. Visit the foal so he immediately sees you as a regular part of the "herd." Talk to him soothingly as you pet him down, paying particularly close attention to his head and ears since those are areas an adult horse dislikes most.

Rubbing a foal's front shoulder area and upper haunches are particularly effective if you wish to relax him. Those two areas are the same areas the dam will nuzzle to comfort her foal, and in fact if you watch horses in a herd they all focus on those areas throughout their entire lives.

Ultimately imprinting is a wonderful tool that can be performed by anyone, but if you are relatively new with horses it is recommended you purchase a couple videos or books on imprinting so that you can rest assured you do it correctly.

And if you miss that first valuable day… don't worry! Just interact with your foal as quickly as possible because whereas the foal may be a little more apprehensive as time goes by, you can ultimately develop a bond with a horse of any age.

Hope you enjoy my blog! Have a safe day and GOD BLESS YOU!!!

Hope This Helps!

by Karen Tharp on 08/22/11

I’m sure everyone that is reading my blog has experienced depression.  If you feel depressed it’s very important to talk to someone.  We all become depressed from time to time.  Prolonged depression is not normal.  Brad is my life line when it comes to controlling my depression.

I have many health issues and I have a  diffecult relationship with my daughter and it really gets me down.  Talking with Brad and a few other very important people in my life helps.

Communication is important in the best of times. When major depression factors into life, conversation has a vital role in the recovery process. A significant part of the journey back to health is depending on, and trusting, key people in your life. If you suspect or have been diagnosed with major depression, confide in your partner or spouse. While feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness are part of the illness, these symptoms are not an excuse to avoid sharing your circumstance. Understand, too, that even with your most trusted loved one, beginning the conversation may be difficult. To help you get started I did some research and these are some ways I found:


First, let your partner know this conversation is important to you. Choose a quiet time to talk, when you won't be interrupted. "I need to talk, and I need your full attention."


If you are in a crisis, express this sense of urgency to your partner. Use the word, "Now," carefully and when it is truly necessary.


Don't minimize your feelings by saying. "It's not a big deal," is neither realistic nor honest. Not only are your feelings important, but also major depression should not be downplayed. Do not try to spare your partner the serious nature of this condition.Apologies are not appropriate. "I'm sorry," would indicate you have a choice about your depression and  research confirms this is not true.

Good Listeners, Appropriate Words


If a partner, family member, or friend comes to you and speaks of their depression, the proper response can make a world of difference in their trust. Remember, it's not your job to try and solve their problems or offer a cure. Instead, understanding and compassion are key. When you are taken into confidence, think about these words:


Offer support without giving advice. "I'm sorry you are going through this. What can I do to help?" "I can't really understand how you are feeling, but I am here for you, whenever you need me."


Be patient. Know that once treatment beings, it may be four to six weeks before any measurable improvement is evident. Let your friend or family member know you are there to encourage, offer simple diversions, and listen. "I know right now things are difficult, but this will pass, and we will get through it together."


Listen for signs of crisis. If you hear comments about suicide, or "wanting this all to be over," report them to your partner/friend's doctor or therapist, and clue in all caregivers.


Not allowed:


Do not utter the words, "Shrug it off," or "Cheer up."


Resist the urge to push too hard. "Stop moping around. Get over it and stop feeling sorry for yourself," is not an option for the depressed person.


In The Workplace


If you are employed, dealing with major depression and work can be a challenge. Enlist your doctor or therapist's help to determine what modifications you may need to make in schedule and workload to aid the recovery process. When you speak to your employer, be clear and concise in explaining the situation.


"I have a medical condition, and I am on the road back to health. I would like to discuss a few temporary changes to help me out along the way."


As an employer, if you notice an employee struggling with major depression, suggest your Employee Assistance Program if applicable. In addition, make all points clear and concise so there is no misunderstanding about expectations. An appropriate conversation might be positioned as:

;understand you are struggling right now. I will do everything within my power to help you do your job. Please let me know how much information I need to assist you in this process."

Always remember whether it’s you, a friend or loved one; dealing with this issue, be understanding.  I know from experience, having someone to talk to is a big help.  My biggest problem is that I’m a fixer and I have to learn that everything isn’t with in my control to fix.  Maybe this is your problem to!  Whatever the cause I hope this Blog helps.  Have a great DAY!  GOD BLESS YOU!!!!

Question and Answer

by Karen Tharp on 08/16/11

I’m very sorry I have not kept up with the blog!  I wish I could use that I’ve been to busy but the truth is I have not been up to par, but I promise you I will make a better attempt at keeping up with it!

Today’s blog is a question I received


We have a new 7-year old Arab mare that adores my daughter (8-years old) and my daughter her. We keep her at my Inlaw's house and we try to go out to see her many days a week or so. When we go out there my daughter spends lots of time out in the pasture just hanging out with our horse and the two of them have grown quite fond of each other. 

I would love for my daughter to have some fun projects to do with our horse in the round pen before we ride, maybe 10 minutes, 15 at most. I would be right there with her of course but some way that she can learn communication skills and have a goal apart from riding. My daughter has mentioned that she would like to teach her horse something and I told her that sometimes it takes weeks or months for a horse to learn - no worries for my daughter (could she actually be learning patience?) I would love any ideas for something simple and hopefully fun that a child could work on with supervision. Keep in mind that I'm not terribly experienced at training either but I'm very excited to learn!

I was thinking maybe teaching her how to square up? I'm open to any ideas, it doesn't have to be anything useful. Just another bonding, fun, new experience for a young girl and her horse.


What an exciting adventure the two you have in front of you! Discovering the love and need for horses will last a life time if you do it properly.

Someone once said that a childhood spent with horses is a childhood spent learning responsibility.   When children start spending time with horses, they start on the path of learning, and the wonderful adventure is that this learning is a lifelong pursuit.  I remember my grandfather telling me that bonding with horses is much more than barn chores and riding lessons.  It is a time when a trusting partnership between person and horse develops.  A horse, just as a child, if there is no trust and respect, he will not listen.  We all know that it is impossible to eliminate all the risks when dealing with horses,  but education on horse safety will greatly reduce the possibility of an accident and injury

I've discovered that mares in particular can be the most loyal once you gain their trust. The first thing I would work on is respect and patience. Your horse must know that you are the Alfa animal. Access to a round pen will be a huge help.

Especially because of the inexperience the two of you have, I would pick up a book to start you off.. A book on ground training is where I would start; then I would move on to (or even at the same time), lunging and round pen exercises. I recommend reading for several reasons. The first is because it is reading and anytime you can teach a child to use books as a reference, that is great. Next reason is because you can read the pertaining chapter over and over until it makes sense - and you can take it with you to the horse.

Patience is a word you will hear and read over and over. It takes time for a horse to understand what you are asking and time for you to understand HOW to ask it. Read - that is my suggestion.

Anderson, books by Chris Cox, Mary Twelveponies, John Lyons, Monte Roberts, and others are great. Just don't buy into too many of their products!

After a liftime of horses I still use my "library" of reference books even if it is just as a refresher.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!


by Karen Tharp on 08/07/11

Brad went out to check the mare and foal herd yesterday and found Rocky lying in the barn.  Brad approached him slowly Rocky finally got up, but limped away. Brad caught him and brought him up to the main barn. 

It looks like Sister and him were playing and he kicked through the barbed wire fence and cut both of his back legs.  Brad came in and got me.  The two of us calmed him down and applied a spray on wound dressing.

We were planning on weaning him soon, because he has started trying to mount sister.  We don’t want her bred to soon so it’s time for Rocky to run with his Daddy.

After doctoring his legs we left him in a stall with plenty of hay, grain and water.  Today Brad turned him out into a run where he could nose his mom and nurse through the fence.  He was limping badly so Brad put him back in a stall.  We will let him out again later.

 I have decided to do an article on wound care for my readers.

 Wound First Aid in Horses

The purpose of first aid is to minimize the damage done by disease or injury and prevent infection so that healing can proceed as rapidly as possible. Sometimes first aid is all you need, other times it is a temporary measure until further help arrives. First aid can remarkably affect the outcome. Once principles are understood, common sense must be applied. Remember, if you are in a panic, you will not be able to help anyone, so step back from the situation and gather your wits before you tackle the problem. You may not be the only animal who is excited. The injured horse will also be confused and excited which makes him dangerous. If you cannot safely approach him: do not.


The Rules are as important as the first aid.

  • RULE ONE: Keep calm.
  • RULE TWO: Do not let the horse hurt anyone.
  • RULE THREE: Get the horse to a quiet familiar location to work on him. Actively assess: "can this horse be worked on safely?” What can I do to make it safer for the horse and me?

 Profuse Bleeding

People tend to overestimate the severity of bleeding. Remember that a 1000 lb. horse has over 7 gallons of blood in his system and he can lose one gallon without serious effects. Of course, if a laceration has profuse bleeding, steps should be taken to slow it down.

Bleeding can be markedly slowed by applying pressure over the source of the blood. This should be done with a clean cloth, if available. Fold the cloth several times on itself to create a thick pad and apply a stretchy tape, Vet Wrap like material is excellent, firmly over the bleeding wound. This type dressing must be dry to adhere to itself so you must keep pressure on the bleeder as you apply the first few layers of the wrap. You can slow down the bleeding considerably using this method.

Too much padding or too loose will prevent you from getting adequate pressure. For instance towels wrapped around the bleeder are not going to help, though I see this done frequently. If the tape is very tight around the leg, change it every 10 minutes to allow circulation to the rest of the leg. If the location of the bleeding is such that you cannot tape it, hold the bandage firmly in place until the bleeding stops.


Deep Cut in the Skin versus A Full Skin Thickness Cut

Many horse owners have trouble differentiating a deep cut in the skin and a full skin thickness laceration. From a treatment standpoint they are very different. Whereas deep cuts in the skin do not require stitches and antibiotics, full skin thickness lacerations do. The deeper layers of the skin can be white to pink resembling the tissue under the skin. One of the easiest ways to tell is that cuts which do not penetrate the skin all the way cannot have the edges of the wound separated. You cannot pull the edges of the wound apart because at the bottom the skin is still connected. How deep can a partial thickness wound be? In some areas where the skin is thick it may be 1/4 to 3/8's of an inch deep on the other hand in some areas the skin is as thin as 1/8 inch.

 Cuts Which Do Not Penetrate the Skin

Clean with soap and water and twice daily apply a nitrofurazone based spray. Antibacterial ointments are OK but do not last as long. If the area will be subjected to dirt like the lower legs a clean bandage kept dry is good. These wounds do not require suturing but a careful examination is in order to be sure there are no punctures (see below).

 Full Skin Thickness Wounds

Whether this type wound should be sutured or not depends on many factors: age of the wound, location, contamination, blunt trauma, and even the first aid care all factor into the equation. Many people misunderstand the dynamics of serious infection thinking suturing insures this will not happen, when the opposite is true. Contaminated or badly traumatized wounds are safer left open and cared for properly than when sutured. The reason is drainage. Proper drainage helps insure the prevention of ascending infection. Obviously a sutured wound cannot drain. Before a wound is sutured it is imperative that it be clean, free of contamination, and badly traumatized tissue.

  • Open wounds that will not receive medical attention for several hours
    or more should be flushed out with clean water and bandaged, using an antibacterial ointment such as Neosporin. A garden hose with the nozzle set on a firm spray is ideal for flushing.
  • If a wound is to be stitched, 
    flushing and bandaging will help minimize infection until the wound can be sutured. Avoid applying medications to the wound, as they may interfere with healing. If medical help is more than two hours away ask the opinion of the vet as to what you might dress the wound with. I like petroleum based triple antibiotic ointments. A spray with diluted (somewhere between the appearance of strong tea or coffee) Betadine is good also.
  • If the wound is badly contaminated 
    with dirt, it should be gently cleaned with an antibacterial soap, thoroughly flushed, then bandaged with ointment. Seek professional help with contaminated wounds, as these may have life threatening complications like tetanus or gangrene.
  • Avoid peroxide or blue wound sprays, 
    as they will kill healthy tissue. The one exception would be contaminated sole wounds. Peroxide can be used to clean these out initially.

 What Deeper Structures Are Injured

With all wounds and particularly with full skin thickness lacerations you must consider what other structures are traumatized. With lower limb injuries penetration into a joint capsule or tendon sheath can turn a routine laceration into a lifetime performance compromising injury. Deep injuries to these areas should always be examined by a veterinarian.

 Punctures: the worst of all wounds

Punctures can really fool you. They frequently look like minor wounds, but depending on the depth and contamination they can rapidly become infected. The first signs of problems are usually pain and swelling 24 to 72 hours after the accident. The puncture seals up rapidly, so the infection has no place to go and will spread to surrounding tissues. When in doubt about how deep the puncture is or you doubt that it is draining well have it examined by a vet. Punctures need to be open and explored for foreign bodies, thoroughly cleaned and may be left open or sutured.


If your horse receives a hard blow that does not break the skin consider ice compresses for a minimum of 30 minutes and oral butte (1 gm. per thousand lbs. twice daily for 3 days) to limit swelling and pain. Bruised tissues are far more susceptible to serious infection so penetrating wounds with a lot of bruising are more serious. While hot and swelling is present cold compresses or hosing will help.


And area where bruising is particularly serious is to the back of the thigh. These large muscle masses are prone to forming scars from deep bruises. These scars contract and will affect the gait of the horse for life. These horses cannot reach forward as far with the effected limb and slap the ground during the anterior phase. Special care to get the inflammation out as quick as possible and keeping the horse moving with controlled exercise during the next 60 to 90 days is imperative.

I hope this was helpful!  enjoy the rest of your weekend! GOD BLESS!!!!

The Only Dumb Question Is the One Not Asked

by Karen Tharp on 08/01/11



I encourage anyone that has a question to email or post it!  I’ll do my best to answer them all.  I have decided to share some of the questions from time to time.  If you send me a question and don’t want it shared just let me know!

This is a question I received today in my email.

QUESTION: We have a 17-month-old mare black and white, going to be a pretty gal when she grows up. I am too big to ride her and she is too young, that's for sure. But, is it safe for a kid about 9 or 10 to ride her? I am talking about the horse's safety. They don't weigh that much. I am talking about riding every now and then just for a few minutes. The horse is very gentle. Believe it or not these kids know how to ride. The girls weigh is less than 50 pounds. These small girls have ridden this small mare before and the horse minds really well. The horse didn't need any bits, just a halter and most of the time they rode bareback. Again is this a safe thing for the horse?

REPLY:  The straight answer: not really. See....it's not about them accepting this at that age, but about the crucial growth plates in their legs have not closed up yet.

Think of the growth plates in the young horse's legs as like the fontanel in a newborn human. If you have had children, then you'll know what I'm talking about -- the "soft spot" we're real careful not to injure in human babies' skulls... That fontanel in the human baby is indeed a "growth plate," much like what you'll find in the young horse's legs and other parts of their bodies. In the human baby it is there for a couple of reasons: 1) to allow the baby's head to "squash" if needed, to pass through a small birth canal -- the growth plates can actually push together to allow for that contracting if needed; if a baby's head were solid and did not have this fontanel/growth plate, many would potentially die in childbirth, getting stuck there -- or brain damaged from the trauma; 2) to allow for the tremendously rapid growth the baby's skull makes in the first year of life, the fastest it will ever grow, more than any other year of that child's life. In the human baby, the fontanel (growth plate) will naturally close up by itself (solidify) around the age of 1. Until then, it must be kept protected or the baby can be brain damaged if struck/injured there, because there's not much protecting the baby's brain in that soft spot (if they get struck there, or dropped on it, etc.).

Okay...the growth plates in a young, growing horse works in much the same way. The foal's legs grow very, very rapidly and do most of their growth within the first 2 years. So...nature set it up to allow for that -- these growth plates in the young horse's legs are virtual "soft spots" if you want to think about it like that, and very, very malleable and vulnerable to damage if weight is put on them too young. Even 50 lbs of weight is more than that growth plate is designed to take until it solidifies naturally. There is nothing wrong with getting a light weight pad or even a light weight synthetic saddle, like maybe 15 pounds-ish and let them used to that, but no one should be climbing on the back of a 17-month-old-horse. No matter how much the foal seems to like it or how irresistible it seems at the time. You can and will do potential permanent damage to those growth plates, and unfortunately, the damage, once done, is permanent. And it contributes to early lameness and structural issues in life.

So...resist the urge and stay off this filly and only until your vet signs off on this, via examining that the growth plates in the legs are finally closed off after age two or beyond (some vets recommend X-raying for that) should you then allow for light weight on the back, child being fine. This is serious stuff and I have seen many good horses get ruined because they were started too young. Remember this once damaged, it is then permanent, and it can also cause the horses to have chronic problems the rest of their lives. The long way is the short way here! The longer you wait; remaining patient and protective, the better off the horse will be for the longer run.

I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but it is what you need to hear. :) I speak for the horse.

I hope this will help others,  If I find the question interesting, I thought others might wonder the same thing.  Have a great day!



Catching Your Horse

by Karen Tharp on 07/29/11

Catching your horse

We handle all the horses here at Rising Sun Stables every day, this makes catching them very easy. Most horses can be trained to allow a handler to catch them. The job is much easier when catching and handling is done correctly when they are still foals. But even an older, difficult horse can be transformed from evasive runaway into follower if the handler is willing to become a leader who takes the time to understand the horse.

What makes a Horse Hard to Catch?

The first step to understanding the elusive horse is determining what drives the horse away from his handler.

Is the horse afraid to leave the herd? If horses are housed in a herd situation, their strongest instincts are to stay with the herd, whether the herd is inside the barn or consists of two or three buddies out in the pasture. When we take the horse away from the herd, where he's comfortable, that may create some anxiety because we're basically taking him away from where his instincts tell him it's safest to be.

Did the horse have a bad first experience with being caught?  A foal may never have been halter trained, then the veterinarian comes out at 6 weeks of age, and the horse is caught for the first time, He gets wormed, vaccinated and restrained; that's a fearful experience for the foal and not an ideal first way to handle a horse. Those horses can then be difficult to catch, needle-shy and fearful because that's been their first experience with restraint."

Does the horse lack good training? Many horses run away because they've not been properly schooled to respond to a handler's commands.

Does the horse receive negative reinforcement? Clumsy handling, being put to work, or undergoing shots, worming or other unpleasant procedures every time the horse is apprehended reinforces his distrust of humans.

Does the horse receive inappropriate positive reinforcement? Some horses learn that if they evade their handlers, they're offered a bribe. Soon it becomes a game.

Although it may be impossible to figure out why a horse acts the way he does, it is helpful to know whether the cause is due to fear, insufficient training, handler error or a combination of all three.

Regardless, the second step in correcting runaway behavior is careful consideration of each cause and then making the appropriate adjustments toward a better partnership. This is done by establishing trust, reshooting in the basics and/or learning better handling techniques.

Restoring Trust

For a fearful horse, or one whose experiences after getting caught are primarily negative ones, the handler must gain the horse's trust and confidence. Restore the relationship by giving the horse positive experiences. Handle him without demanding anything from him. Spend more time not catching him and taking him away, but just catching and handling him, giving him a pleasant experience. In time he will associate you with the pleasant experiences as well as other experiences.  Do something nice like grooming him, giving him a scratch, or just approaching him and handling him.

This method is also applied to the horse that's afraid to leave his buddies. Accustom the horse to being taken out of the herd with a good experience; hopefully, the horse will soon develop enough confidence in you that he no longer sees you as a threat to his herding instinct.

Practice approaching the horse in a small enclosure, like a box stall, round pen or paddock also helps. If you can't catch your horse in a box stall, you're not going to be able to catch him in the field, Teaching them to allow you to approach and handle-them, and giving them positive reinforcement, will help a lot when you start having to catch them in different situations. By establishing this relationship of being able to walk up to the horse, the horse should be able to relate to the experience no matter where he is turned loose.


For the horse that chooses to ignore his handler's commands or that plays games in hopes of getting a bribe, retraining in the fundamentals should correct the problem. Because the goal of retraining the evasive horse is to create a horse that will listen and obey his handler, use tools that make it easier for the horse to understand: the lunge line, body language and, if possible, a round pen.

If you don't have a round corral, use the lunge line to teach him to come into you at whatever gait you select. Have him change direction. Instead of doing endless circles, train your horse to back up on the lunge line, go through obstacles and over jumps. Ask him for different tasks, with plenty of praise and rest so he gets his mind concentrating on you. Commands learned on the lunge line should soon transfer to the horse in the pasture.

Work with the horse through body language. Approach the horse with the idea that you don't want to catch him that he ought to go away.

When you push him away, you do it with shoulders square, your eyes on their eyes, and all your motions square. As they go away, they will communicate back to you when they're ready to renegotiate the deal. They do that with a series of four or five gestures — a position of their ears, eyes, shoulders, neck, tongue, lips, head. Once the conversation is complete about them wanting to return to you, then you go passive instead of aggressive: Don't look them in the eye. Use your body language to send the horse away, and then when the horse wants to stop, use your body language to draw him back in. The horse will be naturally drawn in to you.

Round Pen Training

The round pen is an ideal situation where you can use your body language to communicate with the horse. You learn in the round pen how to ask your horse to go faster, slower, stop, turn, and to be alert to your body language. The same basic principles can be accomplished without a round pen, but a round pen makes it easier by taking away all the other man-made barriers that get in the way.

Teach your horse the meaning of "whoa." A horse that is properly taught 'whoa' will probably stand still in any situation, as long he's told 'whoa. That's a really useful word.

Better Handling

sometimes the problem with the elusive horse is not so much the horse as it is how the handler approaches or catches him. Don't approach a horse, especially a young or inexperienced one, in what may be perceived as a threatening manner. Approaching in a frontal position with direct eye-to-eye contact is very predator-like, and the horse may turn and go away. If you approach the horse casually with a side-long glance, the horse may allow you to approach. Sometimes squatting down arouses a horse's curiosity, drawing him into you.

Never chase a horse. You can't outrun him, and chasing may reinforce a fearful horse's instincts that your actions are predatory or aggressive. Walk him down instead. This usually works with a stubborn horse. You continue to walk slowly after the horse. Eventually the horse knows what's going on and will tire of the game. Sometimes a stubborn horse, if you just walk quietly along with him, will just give up. Keep your cool; walking him down can take awhile.

Cornering a wise old horse in a paddock or field might be OK, but it could be dangerous with other types of horses. A frightened or nervous horse without a lot of experience may run right over you to escape, because being trapped is not naturally comfortable for a horse. If he runs over you once, he'll probably try it again. Use the buddy system. Go up to another approachable horse and scratch or pat him. Start walking him to the gate and the reluctant horse may follow. Or, if the horses are buddies, walk the approachable horse over to the evasive one and see if you can transfer control from one horse to the other.

Another good way is to erect a catch pen or small paddock by the pasture gate and gather the whole herd in there before cutting out the hard-to-catch horse. He's probably going to follow his buddy in, and then you have a much smaller area to deal with.

Think ahead. Don't turn your horse out in a large field 30 minutes before you're going to ride or before the veterinarian comes. When he's all full of energy, you know he's not going to be ready to be caught for a couple of hours.  That sets up a bad situation, and if the horse refuses to be caught it reinforces bad behavior.  Don't turn out a horse that has had very little handling into a large area without a catch pen or companions to use as lures.

Be Sensible and Sensitive

Never punish a horse once you've caught him. Pulling him around on the halter, being very aggressive with him or whipping the horse tells him.  Never let me catch you again.

Be sensitive to negative patterns. Part of the reason the horse may elude you is because the only time you catch him is for work, so don't overdo retraining (or training) your horse. Play with him, do other exercises, go on trail rides, just don’t always make it work.

Always reward your horse with a pat or encouragement. Be wary of food rewards. If we always use food as a bribe, there may be times when the horse is not hungry and the herd instinct is stronger than his desire to eat. . In addition, attempting to lure one horse out of a herd by taking a bucket of grain into the area could be dangerous. The horse you're trying to catch is probably not the No. 1 dominant horse. If you go in there with feed, the other horses are going to be competing for the feed and, if anything, they're going to be chasing away the horse you want to catch. That puts the handler in the middle of a bunch of milling horses — a very bad position.

Retraining the hard-to-catch horse may take a lot of time. Whether the horse has to overcome a fear response or go back to square one for training, there simply are no quick fixes. Each horse is also an individual; what works for one may not work so well for another. But if you take the time to understand what your horse's problem is, those fixes could last a lifetime.

So be patient and work toward your goal.  Remember it may take a while.  Enjoy your horse, stay cool in this heat.  Have a great Day!

Safety Tips

by Karen Tharp on 07/28/11

Brad and I have stopped training in the heat of the day, for our safety and the safety of the horses. I have listed some ways to make sure you and your horse stay safe in the heat.

1. Know the signs of heat exhaustion. In horses, symptoms include weakness, stumbling, increased temperature (higher than 102 F) and elevated pulse or respiration. In serious cases, a horse may stop sweating (anhidrosis). To help a heat-stressed horse cool down, offer water in small amounts, hose him down with cool water, keep him out of the sun and, if possible, in front of a fan. If his symptoms persist, call your vet.

2. Heat exhaustion affects humans, too. Symptoms include feeling faint or lightheaded, nausea, skin that is cool and moist to the touch, and a rapid, weak heartbeat. If a rider in your group is experiencing these symptoms, get her out of the sun and in front of a fan oral air conditioner, if possible. Remove her helmet and loosen clothing and have her drink water or a sports drink. Don't just let someone experiencing heat exhaustion "rides it out." Heat exhaustion is easily remedied, but if left untreated, it can advance to life-threatening heat stroke.

3. Schedule your rides to avoid intense heat. Early morning hours tend to be the coolest, making them ideal for more serious schooling sessions. The sun and heat levels are at their most dangerous from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. If the afternoon is your only time to ride, stick to shady areas or a well-ventilated indoor arena.

4. If you compete, you don't have a choice about when you ride. To ease the heat, wait until you're about to enter the ring before putting on your show coat. Find a shady area to stand with your horse before your class. Have a friend bring a bottle of water ringside. A judge may waive the requirement to wear coats for English riders when the temperature soars. If she does, take advantage of it.

5. Cool your horse out properly. There's a persistent myth that it is dangerous to let your horse drink when he is very hot, when in fact it can be very harmful to withhold water. If your horse is hot and breathing heavily after a workout, let him take a few sips of water, then walk him for a minute and let him have another drink and continue this way until he is cooled out.

6. Another myth is that you should never spray a hot horse down with cold water. The fact is top-level endurance riders and eveners douse their horses down with ice-cold water immediately after they finish a ride to bring the body temperature down to a safe level. However, using cool water instead of cold is generally more comfortable for your horse, so if you aren't headed into the vet check after a 100-mile ride or an advanced cross-country course, you can use a more moderate temperature to cool him down after a workout.

7. Use sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and reapply throughout the day. Wearing a hat or helmet with a visor will help protect your scalp and face, two very sun-vulnerable areas. Horses with white on their muzzles are prone to burns as well, so make sure to use sunscreen there as well.

8. Hot weather brings out the bugs. Use plenty of insect repellant on yourself and fly spray on your horse, especially if you're headed out into the woods. You can put a fly mask on over your horse's bridle to protect his face from flies while riding. Just make sure to take it off if you ride after the sun goes down.

9. The days of riding in heavy jeans and sweat-soaked t-shirts are over. Hot weather riding apparel is now widely available and affordable. Manufacturers now offer lightweight riding pants, moisture-wicking shirts, and ventilated helmets and even perforated half chaps that allow for better air circulation.

10. Your pastures need to have sufficient shade for all of the horses that live there. That can be from a shelter or from trees as long as the shade is available as the sun moves throughout the day. Check the pasture water daily to make sure it is clean and hasn't become too hot if the trough is out in direct sunlight. If your horse is stabled during the day, keep the windows and doors open for ventilation, or mount a box fan on your horse's stall to improve air circulation. Just make sure the wire is out of reach of all horses.

So there are ways to still enjoy riding in the hot weather, just be careful.  Keep in mind if you’re extremely hot then so is your horse.  So just stay aware, have a great day and pray for rain!!!!



Catching Up!

by Karen Tharp on 07/27/11

For anyone wondering, Cheyanne is coming along great.  We have back off her training a little though.  We think she is pregnant, and getting close.  She was being cared for in Michigan, neither Brad nor I could be there.  A few times the mares broke out and were running with the stallion, so I don't know when she was bred.  Both Grace and Lady gave birth in March and I wondered why she wasn't bred.  Well I guess the answer is that she really is.

Brad and I have decided that we are going to wait till she has her baby to take her to the girls.  She is getting to big and we don't want her or the baby stressed to much.  Cheyanne isn't good at being trailered by herself and she will be very upset.  So we have to wait.  It would be terrible to through her into premature labor.

We are still training her but not putting long hours on her.  She is going to have a beautiful palomino foal.  we don't know if the foal will have white on it or not.  Chances are it will.  To date all paint mares with lots of white, have babies with lots of white.  He has passed his blue eyes on to only one foal, that was Lady's foal Rocky.

We finally received some rain, but could still use some more.  Hope everyone is coping with the heat ok!  Remember lots of fluids for you and your horse.  

Our horses are consuming over twenty gallons each during this heat.  I know that sound unbelievable.  I think because they are from Michigan a cooler state, they are sweating terribly. So Brad and Shayne are keeping their troughs full.  We do have access to a pond but all this heat is drying it up.  A few of the mares have refused to drink from it so we have fresh clean water available.  This seems to be working well.

Check out our music show page, Brad has been working very hard on it.  We attend his sister Leann's 50th birthday party Saturday.  Brad and I provided the Karaoke entertainment.  Brad also sang, I'm so proud of him, he has an amazing voice. The party was great.

Hope everyone has a great day!!!