top articles of 2018

With 2018 coming to a close and a new year of horse health news and articles ahead, The Horse’s team took a few moments to tally the 10 articles that received the most views this year. Covering a variety of topics related to horse health, the following articles (including some perpetually popular ones) received the most views over the past year. Did your favorites make the list?

10 Early Warning Signs of LaminitisIt’s a painful condition that veterinarians, farriers, and horse owners have been racking their brains about for decades. Laminitis—the separation or failure of laminae, which connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone within—can cause permanent structural changes in a horse’s foot. To help you catch this devastating hoof disease while your horse still has a chance to avoid suffering its consequences, our sources have helped us come up with a list of 10 early warning signs. Regardless of the type of case (-supporting-limb, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, or endocrine disease-related), these red flags could indicate laminitis is setting in—even before you see any signs of lameness.

How Much Does a Horse Cost?—It has often been said that owning a horse is akin to digging a deep hole in the backyard and throwing in large sums of money, never to be seen again. Horse-crazy people, however, might say, “So what? What does it matter how much it costs as long as I have my horse?” Let’s take a look at what it really costs to own a horse besides the initial purchase price.

All About Feeding Horses Alfalfa—In some areas of the country, alfalfa is a regular part of life. It’s readily available and commonly fed, so it’s a logical foundation for many horses’ diets. In other areas, it is a delicacy of sorts, shipped in from different regions and bought a bale at a time on a vet’s recommendation to help certain horses that need nutritional support. For some types of horses—in either of those areas—alfalfa simply isn’t a great choice. And, so, that fragrant green bale comes loaded with nutrients and, for some horse owners, a multitude of misconceptions. Whatever your alfalfa experience, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about this forage, starting with a little bit of history, and clear up any confusion about it.

Study Confirms Horses ‘Talk’ to Human Handlers—“Hey! See that bucket of feed over there? Yeah, that one. Can you grab that for me, please? I’m kind of hungry.” Wait a minute. Did your horse just speak to you? Actually, he might have—in his own way, of course. New research by European scientists has revealed that horses do, in fact, try to intentionally communicate with us to achieve certain goals.

What’s All the Hype? Feeding the Energetic Horse—He’s impossible to catch in the pasture when out with his herdmates. He’s jigging about while you tack him up. And he eyes every blade of grass beside the arena suspiciously, as if one might reach out and grab a fetlock at any moment. Some might say he’s “feeling his oats,” pointing at nutrition as the cause of his hyperactivity. Could a simple grain change bring this four-legged kite back down to earth? Let’s find out.

Smoke From Wildfires and Horses’ Respiratory Health—Wildfires have raised concern among horse owners regarding the potential impact of persistent smoke and related air pollution on their equids. And their concern is justified: Smoke can cause serious health problems for horses, as it can in people.

White Line Disease Diagnosis and Treatment—The white line of the foot can be seen by looking at the sole of your horse’s hoof. The area (that looks whitish) between the outside hoof wall and where it meets the sole is the white line. When this becomes damaged, it allows fungus and/or bacteria to invade and separate the layers of the hoof wall. When that happens, the infection can spread around the hoof and up the inside of the wall to gradually “eat away” at the hoof, making a horse very lame.

Hoof Abscesses in Horses—Yesterday your horse was perfectly sound, but today he won’t touch one foot to the ground. There’s no apparent injury or sign of a problem in his leg or hoof other than the sudden, severe lameness. What could have happened? One strong possibility for the cause of this scenario is a hoof abscess. The good news is that abscesses can often be resolved quickly and easily with proper veterinary care and leave no lasting damage. Even better, they can usually be prevented by practicing good routine hoof care and management.

4 Misconceptions About Alfalfa—Despite all the science-backed suggestions about feeding alfalfa, it remains a misunderstood forage. The following are a few misconceptions worth clarifying.

Cleaning Horse Feed Buckets: When, How, and Why?—Have you cleaned your horse’s feed bucket recently? Dr. Clair Thunes shares tips on when, why, and how often you should clean your horse’s buckets and feeders.