GFM Network News


Sensitivity to touch, swelling and heat in the area of the withers would clearly indicate a problem with the withers, however, more subtle changes must also be observed.

Reading the withers

Horse Health: This complex structure can reveal a lot about a horse’s soundness

The comfort and health of the horse’s withers is a central key to the horse’s performance and soundness. The withers are defined as the part of the spinal column that lies in between the animal’s shoulder blades and anatomically includes the third to 11th thoracic vertebrae. Collectively these vertebra project upwards into an arch. Their

As heat stress progresses into heat exhaustion the core body temperature begins to rise and physiological symptoms of distress begin to appear.

Taking care of horses during hot weather

Horse Health: You can help your horse beat the heat with a few simple steps

Extreme bouts of hot weather are particularly stressful for horses and for some individuals it is even more stressful than extreme bouts of cold weather. Thus it becomes particularly important to identify the individual horses that are at a greater risk for heat stress and what factors can provide extra care for them when necessary.


A horse’s relationship to other horses is of primary importance to a horse’s nature and psyche.

Preparing the horse to learn

Horse Health: A myriad of factors under the control of the human can affect the horse’s ability to develop

The Dorrance Brothers, Bill and his younger brother Tom are widely known for their eloquent and effective communication with horses. They are often credited as the original forefounders of the modern-day revolution in horsemanship. The human/horse bond runs deep. Horses seek to appease or make peace with their domesticators and are willing learners. “Thought” leaders

Gut microbiome critical to horse health

Immune, neurological and hormonal systems can all be affected Although invisible to the naked eye, the horse and human cannot exist apart from the biology and ecology of their microbiome and the microbiome is being heralded as the next most important bodily system. There is emerging evidence that the gut microbiome with its complex interactions

Lameness can take many forms and come from complex causes.

There are many kinds of ‘lame’

Horse Health: It’s a blanket term that can cover a lot of conditions

Despite their remarkable strength and resiliency horses are highly susceptible to lameness under the circumstances of domestication. In fact lameness is the most common symptom presented to the equine veterinarian. Almost every horse will experience some kind of lameness during its lifetime. Its diagnosis, treatment and collateral losses represent one of the most costly health


Adequate sleep is one of the essential building blocks of a strong immune system.

A war no more

Horse Health: Our understanding of the immune system has evolved past the war on germs analogy

In horses, as in humans and many other animals, the immune system is a powerful biological force that plays a profound role in maintaining health. Most of the time, it works so effectively that its true value is often overlooked, even minimized. The traditional view of an immune system is as an army poised for

We ask a lot of a horse’s feet, so we need to be able to identify when they’re a source of pain and discomfort.

Take care of the tender foot

Horse Health: Horses are far too good at disguising their generalized foot pain

As animals of prey, horses are adept at masking pain – especially foot pain. Therefore generalized foot pain in the horse is often overlooked for its contributing role in equine lamenesses, behaviour and performance. Foot pain matters deeply to the physical health and psychic well-being of the horse that, at a primal level, relies on

Yearlings are like early teens — they can be physically mature, but they still have plenty of maturing to do.

What to do for a yearling?

Horse Health: They’re often pressured into growing up too soon which is a husbandry error

As the equine version of an early teenager, the yearling is a bit of a peculiarity within the modern-day horse world. Yearlings generally appear and act physically ungainly, have a naive mindset and are often emotionally raw. For these reasons a pressure and haste is often placed upon the yearling to be more than it


While the vast majority of shod horses can make the change to barefoot, the transition is much more likely to be successful, comfortable and enjoyable for both the horse and owner if the horse is properly assessed before transition is undertaken. Although the quality of the hoof wall in this back foot is in poor condition the structures at the back of the hoof (frog and heels) are in good health and thus the transition period for this horse from shod to barefoot will be reasonably quick and uneventful without complications.

Taking their shoes off

Horse Health: Transitioning the shod horse to barefoot

Horse owners come to the decision to transition their horses from shod to barefoot for a number of reasons — curiosity, cost, research, friends, frustrating lamenesses, and unfortunately at times a death sentence due to a diagnosis of intractable navicular disease or laminitis. Regardless of what drives the decision to transition a shod horse to

The intense bond between horse and caretaker can make end-of-life decisions emotionally taxing.

Providing “a good death” for your horse when the time comes

Horse Health: One of the hardest decisions for a horseowner can also be the best for the welfare of the animal

The term “euthanasia” comes from the Greek words meaning a “good death” and is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. At times the decision to euthanize a horse is clearly obvious. This can occur when a horse has a severe injury or an unrelenting and non-responsive illness such as