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Best Horse Practices Podcast

Dec 15, 2022

This is Episode 11 of Season three and in it, Jec interviews Dr. Sheryl King, this year’s keynote speaker at the Best Horse Practices Summit in Kentucky.

In this conversation, Jec and Dr. King discuss a few myth-busting ideas around horse management. It’s a good segue from last week’s introduction to the anti-warm and fuzzies campaign-- maybe we should call it the cool and clear-zies dialogue? Cool and clear are what nights are like lately, here in Colorado. Maybe not just cool. Downright cold. Single digits.

My guess is that a lot of folks want to put their horses in when it’s cold like this. I don’t know if this makes sense to me. For starters, stalls aren’t that much warmer than run-in shelters. Secondly, horses need to move and be with buddies. They need to move to help their digestion. Moving helps keep them warm. Moving is what prey animals like to do. In my observation, moving helps lower their stress.

Years ago, when my horses and I were living in Maine, we had a hurricane come through. I had big stalls without doors and watched them choose to be out in that weather, rather than in. During a hurricane. 

Jec and Dr. King talk a lot about the need to check ourselves when we consider horse habits versus human inclinations. “Tucking in for the night” is not a thing for horses. I mean, it IS a thing because some of us make it so, but it’s not a thing for horses left to their own devices.

Also, blankets.

Putting blankets on horses takes away horses’ natural ability to thermoregulate. Except in very few specific cases, horses are decidedly not better off with blankets. Save your money, listeners. Yes, they will benefit from extra hay in the winter. But spare them the “storm shield” or “viking extreme weather” garments. Please.

Our title sponsor is Lucerne Farms, producers of quality forage feeds.  Lucerne is a small company in Aroostock County in northern Maine. They make forage, from timothy and alfalfa, a great option if you are looking to add calories to your horses’ diet this winter. Check them out at lucerne or at your local feed story.

For links to King's research and other myth-busting articles, head to this Best Horse Practices page. 

We thank Redmond Equine and Pharm Aloe – two sponsors with no-nonsense products for your horses. 

Don’t forget to check out the great selection of books at Cayuse Communications and on Jec’s store page. There is still time to order books for Christmas and Cayuse has a Buy one get one free offer going on.