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Getting the Basics Right Won’t Fix Every Problem

(post by Jason). Melissa asked me to start making some contributions to the blog recently and we talked about some possible topics. I said I wanted to write about how important it is to get the basics correct. Melissa immediately told me that if I wrote about the basics and nothing else, I would immediately get flooded with comments about the exceptions to the rule. After she made that comment I thought about it for a minute, and I can see the accusatory emails now. “My horse has three diagnosed metabolic conditions, he’s 38 years old, he has severe ringbone in both front feet, and he has no teeth. You said if I got the basics right everything would magically correct itself. My horse looks *awful* and I did everything you said to do.”

I decided to go ahead and get this topic out of the way before I began talking about the basics. There are myriad reasons why getting the basics right will help your horse live a mentally and physically better, healthier, longer, more pleasant life. I wouldn’t write the posts I’m going to write if I hadn’t seen with my own eyes how much of a difference getting the basics right has made for literally hundreds of horses that have been in our care over the past fifteen years. Getting the basics right will, generally speaking, do most horses a lot of good. But most horses isn’t the same thing as every horse, and most situations aren’t every situation.

Elderly horses are going to continue to age. We’ve got plenty of horses north of 30 on this farm right now that look very good. But make no mistake, they are still very much north of 30 with all that implies, and none of them are going to pass for a 10 year old. It would be a surprise to no one if we woke up tomorrow to find that any one of these horses had either passed away overnight or had begun the process of entering into an irreversible decline. Getting the basics right will not prevent your horse from aging or dying from age related disease or problems.

Getting the basics right won’t reverse certain metabolic conditions or diseases, an example of which is PPID/Equine Cushings. We treat a lot of horses for Cushings. In fact we have such a large population of Cushings horses that our farm has featured  and participated in several University studies for Cushings treatments.

Getting the basics right won’t reverse extremely painful conditions like advanced calcification of the _______ joint, or other severe, painful arthritic conditions.

It should go without saying that getting the basics right won’t magically make a toothless horse able to chew hay or pasture no matter how good or lush it may be.

If your horse is blind getting the basics right probably isn’t going to restore his sight, especially if he is missing one or both eyes.

So if getting the basics right won’t do any of these things then why bother? Especially when, like us, you realize that getting the basics right is a never ending process. At best we get some of the basics right most of the time. In terms of equine nutrition and equine management we are still very much learning when and what is important, and we are constantly revising how we manage certain individual horses and certain specific conditions.

In our opinion, for a lot of horses that get retired with us, getting some of the basics right most of the time is the difference between existing and thriving. When horses are mostly fed correctly, mostly managed correctly, and when they live the sort of life that automatically causes a vast improvement in their mental health they really, truly blossom. We’ve watched it happen countless times, and it never ceases to put a smile on our faces. Now that I’ve addressed that there are exceptions to every rule, in another post I will write about what have found are the fundamental things to do correctly on our farm.

Baner and Merlin

Art and Renny

Digby and Happy

Roho and Rubrico

Wilson and Toledo

Missy and Lily

Charlotte and Calimba

Baby and Thomas

Hemi, Trigger and Revy

Cody, Remmy and Bruno

B-Rad and Taco

Vinnie, Grand and Rip were ready to be fed

Levendi, Thomas and Moe


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