Round Pen “Study”

It seems the horsey side of the internet has been set ablaze by this “study” out of Australia about round pen training.  I cannot find a link to the exact study just articles about it. They used remote control cars to mimic a “join up” and concluded we were using fear as the horse’s motivation to join up with us.  I personally am calling the study erroneous.   One I can’t find anywhere where they used any form of scientific methodology.  There is no hypothesis, no control group nothing that makes this a true study. The one video they post online only shows the end outcome and is only 21 seconds long.

I get what they are trying to prove but I think they are interpreting the data wrong.  Of course the horses are scared of the car, most unhandled horses are scared of humans too.  Would they prefer the old method of tying them up and “sacking them out” because that creates less fear, right?  The head researcher Cath Henshall says she was prompted to do the study because of online posts telling people to stick horses in the round pen and chase them around.  Well I agree that is not a fantastic training method and at that point all you are doing is getting them some exercise.

At some point in a horse’s life with humans the horse is going to be uncomfortable.  It is just the way it is.  It is the trade for the horse to be fed regularly and have shelter.   How much discomfort or fear is acceptable. Well of course that depends on the horse and its previous interactions with the stimulus.  Whether human or remote control car.  A horse that was born and raised on the remuda is certainly going to have different expectations than a 20 year old lesson horse around people forever.

One big question I have out of this study is did they specifically note fear signs.  I see no mention of data regarding seeing fear or anxiety signs.  So how did they come to the conclusion the horses were reacting out of fear?  Again these were horses who had been previously handled by humans so they shouldn’t have a huge fear factors.  Ideally they should have done the study with unbroke animals.

Another thing that I had a question about was the mention of sound.

The horses heard a warning signal (an electronic tone) for ten seconds, and then the car began to chase the horses around the pen, which caused them to react with a flight response.

If the horse stopped and turned to face the car (“avoidance” instead of “flight”), then the car would stop, and so would the warning signal. They would hear a different sound instead–what the researchers referred to as a “safety” signal. But if the horse moved away again, then the car and warning signal would start up again. These training sessions would last for a maximum of 90 seconds, Henshall said.

Did they mimic the experiment without sound?  How then could they be certain the horses weren’t responding to the sound and only the car stimulus?  Anyone who has a horse that is voice trained knows that sound can be a very good aid so why did they use two separate stimuli?

We use tools everyday in our relationship with horses.  All are an extension of ourselves.  So wouldn’t a differential diagnosis be to confirm what these trainers are doing.  That a join up is so inherently ingrained in a horse’s behavior that even substituting a machine for a human also allows the horse to join up?  Why could this not be the conclusion?

I agree using the round pen to “chase around” a horse in an attempt to solve behavior problems alone is not going to be the answer.  But using the round pen as a tool of training with a plan in mind is not going to be detrimental to the horse.  There are far crueler methods of training that could be studied, hello rolkur, but trying to discredit something that has made lives better for thousands of horses is ridiculous.  Way more research needs to be done.  How about comparing Monty Roberts (they specifically mention him and he is not happy) methods to the old school tie em down, tack em up, ride em methods and see what causes more stress for the horses.  Please include things that actually indicate stress, like heart rates, visual clues etc. Without it everything mention is just inference and opinion.

Truth in Advertising?

So this is a Friesian cross 


Well technically, although she is only 1/4 Friesian and at least 1/2 Quarter horse.  So why not advertise her as a Quarter horse cross?  Well because Friesians are supposed to be pretty and desirable and probably command more money.   What was the plan for this breeding?  The Friesian Sport Horse Registry doesn’t recognize them and there really isn’t any reason why this would be a planned breeding unless it was simply a case of breeding two horses because they had the right parts.   I would love to hear the reasoning behind the breeding because I doubt it was well thought out.

While this isn’t a horrible looking horse it clearly did not get the good qualities of the Friesian Sport Horse.  This horse has plenty of good bone but the weak hip with the goose rump isn’t the most attractive or useful.  The ewe neck and large head don’t balance well either.  The horse is only two so it could change a lot I agree.  I still don’t see her turning out like one of these Friesian Sporthorses.

(It is not letting me add pictures today grrrr)


Maybe that wasn’t the intention but if that is the case then at least put in the main part of the ad that the horse is mostly quarter horse so you aren’t false advertising.  The more planned, thought out breeding people do the less horse overpopulation problem we will have.



Keeping weight on them

This started in the comments and I know Cathy addressed it before but it is good to talk about again.

It is a very rare occasion that a horse is skinny and there is nothing that can be done. Most of the time it is easily fixable if you spend the time and money to correct it.  So if you have a horse that has started to lose weight or acquire one that starts skinny here is my plan to get a horse back on track weight wise.

1. Full veterinarian exam.  This includes full bloodwork, oral exam and a fecal exam.  I would even include bloodwork for cushings and insulin resistance.  Feeding those type of horses wrong can lead to weight loss and cushings itself can cause muscle wasting which can show up as weight loss.

This was my Pony's bloodwork.  Only symptom of his off the charts cushings was weight loss.

This was my Pony’s bloodwork. Only symptom of his off the charts cushings was weight loss.

2. With the fecal you can look for worm eggs and worm with the appropriate drug as to what egg species is present in the horse.  This takes the guess work out of it.  One thing to note encysted small strongyles cannot be detected on fecal exams.  If you try everything on this list and don’t see results in 30 days then I would try to worm with a panacur powerpac.  This is a five day double dose of fenbendazole and the only was to get both larval stages of encysted small strongyles.

photo-purchase-exams13. At the exam the vet will note if the oral cavity looks good.  Does the horse need to be floated?  Are there teeth missing?  Is there evidence that mastication (chewing) is not taking place properly?  Are there any ulcers or abnormalities in the gums or cheeks? Float the teeth if needed but if all good in the mouth move on.  Along this line look in the manure for long pieces of hay that could mean the horse isn’t chewing fully.  Also check around the eating area for quids, which are chunks of hay that have been chewed on and spit back out.  Both are signs of additional teeth trouble.

4. What are you feeding?  Free choice hay is usually the best bet for most horses. If the horse is old or can’t masticate due to missing teeth or poor molars then hay pellets are your best friend here.  They can be fed soaked to any horse regardless of teeth. Soaked pellets have the added benefit of adding moisture.  I prefer alfalfa because they can stimulate appetite but any hay pellet can be used.   Make sure you are feeding enough though, I had a customer tell me her horse was losing more weight on this plan but upon measuring the amount she was feeding she was only feeding half the daily requirement.  So what is the daily requirement?  Well that depends on the weight of the horse.  Ideally a horse gets 1.5-3% of their body weight in forage daily. So get a measuring tape and get a starting value for your horse, this will also allow you to track progress.  Then start with 2% of their body weight in hay and/or pellets and then work from their based on how the horse does.  If they gain too much you can back off if they don’t gain enough increase.   Weighing input usually puts things in perspective as people don’t realize they are not feeding enough so of course the horse is underweight.  They can also be fed free choice but watch that they don’t get too heavy as that can cause its own problems. To the hay pellets I would add a vitamin/mineral supplement.  In the perfect world everyone would test their hay and balance the diet to vitamins and minerals.  If you can do this, that is awesome, but I know most people don’t have the ability to do this for various reasons.  If you do decide to pursue this then Dr Kellon and Uckele nutrition are a great resource and place to start.

I am not a huge fan of senior feeds.  I think they add too much molasses and sugar and ultimately you would be better making your own mash and adding needed vitamins and minerals.

What about beet pulp?  I think beet pulp can be a great addition to a horse’s diet and can replace up to 50% of their forage requirement.  I do believe it should be soaked even though there are studies out there saying it doesn’t have to be.  Keep in mind both beet pulp and alfalfa are high in calcium so that should be addressed and balanced with wheat bran, rice bran or oats.   Again the benefit of having a soaked feed is the added water intake but depending on the management of the horses soaked feed can be hard in the winter because it freezes and hard in the summer because it can ferment.  Hay pellets take up water much faster making them my go to when feeding a soaked feed.  Plus I can buy non-GMO alfalfa pellets and right now it is difficult to get non-GMO beet pulp.  The only brand available is Speedi-Beet and it isn’t always available.

5. So I have mentioned the base program of making sure you are feeding enough forage and balancing it out with vitamins and minerals, but what if that is not enough?  Here are a couple things you can add:

Pre/pro biotics.  These are the good flora in the gut and sometimes due to stress and age they can die. Prebiotics feed the probiotics so it can be helpful to add both.  This can get the gut in better condition to digest the food more efficiently.  If your horse has diarrhea adding probiotics can help here too.

Fat in a powder or liquid form. There are a ton of these avaiable.  Some people think horses can’t digest fat because they lack a gall bladder.  Well anyone who has gone through biology knows the gall baldder doesn’t make bile it just stores it.  So it makes sense that horses just have continual productions and secretion of bile from the liver, just like they have continuous production of hydrochloric acid from the stomach (more on this in a minute) .

Keep in mind ideally you want you omega 3 fats to be higher than your omega 6 fats.  Having an inverted omega ratio can lead to inflammation and since most of these skinny horses are older we don’t need to encourage any inflammation.  Good choices are flaxseed and chia seed.  Other oils can be used to put weight on but keep in mind that omega ratio these would include soybean meal, rice bran and wheat germ oil.  One good product is by ADM nutrition and that is Healthy Glo.  It is a 50/50 mixture of flaxseed and rice bran so you get all the essential amino acids from the rice bran and the balanced omega profile from the flaxseed.

Between having the proper amount of forage and adding a good vitamin/mineral and a fat product you should see weight gain pretty quickly.  If you don’t here are some other things to look at.

Ulcers, more common in horses then people think, and it makes sense.  Horses have a very large esophageal region in the stomach. This region lack mucousal lining.  Pair that with constant production of hydrochloric acid and you have an environment ready to ulcerate.  Horses were designed to eat 20 hours a day, but think of how we feed them, usually twice a day so if they are going long periods of time without food then ulcers can happen. Although I have seen them in horses that are pastured 24/7 and lead stress free lives so it can happen there too.  If you are feeding properly and don’t see results this is a big one to look at.


Stress, this can be cause by a lot of things.  Losing pasturemates, being alone, living in a busy barn and the list goes on and on.  If the horse is showing signs of stress such as cribbing, weaving, calling etc then look to what you can do to limit that stress because that can cause weight loss too.

Living environment, if an older horse is living outside with no shelter in a cold climate it could make it hard for the horse to gain and maintain weight.  These horses may need blankets.  The older a horse gets the less able they are to properly regulate their temperature.  Help them out by having good shelters for both hot and cold areas.

By keeping your horse at a good weight you are ensuring his/her health for the long term.  It is not something that should be ignored “because he is old”  Anyone who tells you that is plain wrong.


More Halter horses that can’t do anything else

I know I have gotten off my schedule but I had this show up on my Facebook feed last night and had to address it.  I haven’t ever been involved in anything in the Arabian world.  The first school horse I rode was an Arabian and I owned a National Show Horse that I evented and that is the depth of my Arabian knowledge I will admit.   I had no idea how much the Arabian horse had changed, I mean what is wrong with this horse’s face.  It looks deformed, but since it is winning I am going to assume it is what they are looking for.

horrible arabian

When did breeding for this extreme become popular?  The breed standard states “Comparatively small head, profile of head straight or preferably slightly concave below the eyes; small muzzle, large nostrils, extended when in action; large, round, expressive, dark eyes set well apart (glass eyes shall be penalized in Breeding classes); comparatively short distance between eye and muzzle; deep jowls, wide between the branches; small ears (smaller in stallions than mares), thin and well shaped, tips curved slightly inward;”

SLIGHTLY CONCAVE BELOW THE EYES. Not so concave you worry the sinus is going to collapse.  This has to impact their breathing.   The nasal passages look so squished.  It doesn’t even look attractive anymore.  They look like a caricature of the breed.



I can imagine in addition to messing with the nasal passages this also messes with their teeth.  Dr Bennett mentions that these small muzzles can cause teeth rooting problems which is easy to see looking at the cramped face.


Obviously somebody likes these horses since they are winning in the halter and breeding classes.  But what else do they do?  Nothing that I can find.  We have some wins in the liberty classes but of the top three halter mares and stallions from the 2013 Arabian World Show not one of them does any sort of performance event. I am not going to go into the ridiculous stances they make them do in the class or how all of them have white-eyed nervous stares.  The Arabian is supposed to be a versatile horse and based on the class choices at the World Show there are lots of things your Arabian can excel at Jumpers, Hunters, Western Pleasure, Reining, Cutting, Driving but those that look pretty get their own classes.

Just for giggles I looked up the world Champion Arabian Winner AL-MARAH MATT DILLON and looky there, no exaggerated dished face.  Yes he has the classic dish but boy needs to breathe and so his head looks it. This is a fine example of an Arabian horse.  Classy, beautiful with a pretty head.  But still functional and performance oriented. mattdillon


I love him, look at him slide.  That is the type of Arabian I want!



The Champion English Show hack also doesn’t have the ridiculous exaggerated face.  What does that tell us?  Form doesn’t equal function and pretty  is as pretty does, although I don’t find it pretty at all.

Mr-Gs-Ringmaster-300x240I don’t think any of these extreme trends (dished faces in Arabians, Post legged over muscled quarter horses) are going to change anytime soon.  Especially since they seem to be the ones winning in the halter pen.  Although I can’t imagine that both groups don’t know that the outside horse world is laughing at them.  We must start breeding for form to equal function.  As overbreeding is a real problem getting horses that can not only succeed in the halter ring but in performance rings as well is a must.

I started this post by saying I didn’t know much about the Arabians but after looking at all the pictures I want to take that Matt Dillon horse for a spin he looks like great fun.  Maybe I need to look more at the breed!


Some Questions I think need to be answered



From the time the Sherri Brunzell/Dual Peppy case broke I have wondered why weren’t these horses reported sooner.  This is a very horse centric area with lots of knowledgeable people.


Doing some Google Earth shots it does show that the house and barns are set far enough off the road that a passerby wouldn’t be able to see the horse.  Unless they were turned out, but of course she didn’t turn them out on the available grass because she is an abuser.  We had one of the best grass growing seasons ever this year.  The property at 5484 Burgess Rd is on 27 acres.  Not enough to feed all the horses but could have put a good dent in it.  The registered owners of the house are registered at a different address so I cannot confirm at this time if they lived on property.  I am going to bet not as they have their mail sent to a different address. The house address has been used to register several businesses although none are operational now.  Did someone live in the house?  That would be good to know as the house is just yards from the barn.


The area between the red bars is the barn Sherri rented. The house is right there.  If there was someone living in the house how did they not notice or smell 14 decaying corpses?  How does that go unnoticed?  What about the houses to the west.  They aren’t that far away either.  This isn’t a house on 1000 acres in the middle of nowhere.  They had neighbors. I am willing to be those neighbors could see the horses.  Why did they do nothing.  How could they look at that everyday, and smell the smell and do nothing.

This is a zoomed out view showing the renter’s house, the barn and house and the road.  You can see it is pretty far from the road with trees blocking the view.  But is shows how close other houses are to the property.  It is disgusting no one else made a report on these horses.  She tried to hide them as best as she could but people could see the horses.

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People if you see or suspect abuse, REPORT it.  The officers would rather get called out to unfounded reports than let an animal suffer.  Pick up the phone. More people knew what was going on in the barn of hell.  If one of those neighbors had stepped up then horse’s lives could have been saved.

Even when they make you money you don’t feed them

Over in the UK I thought they had tougher animal cruelty laws but I guess I was wrong.  Because if you starve your horses to a 0 on the Henneke scale, that is not a typo the vet classified two of them as ZEROS, and let them start to self mutilate because of the horrific lice infestation you will get one day in jail.  That is it, just one day to think about what you have done.  This happened recently to Adrian Alexander whose website claims he has provided horses to movies such as Braveheart and Sense and Sensibility.  He also runs a carriage business that can take you all around London.   I wonder if he showed up to a job with a horse looking like this:



One horse was so bad they had to put him down. This man MAKES MONEY on the horses.  What happened to it?  If he was providing horses to multiple movies that means he did a good job at one time and probably made some decent money doing it.  Yet he couldn’t feed the ones bringing in the cash.  He was big enough at one time to be interviewed for a NY Daily News article.   That was just in May of this year he was quoted “Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, I take them everywhere and nobody’s ever told me I’m banned,” said Adrian Alexander.

If his business was doing well why was he hiding these four horses.  To starve them and let them suffer with lice.


Looking at these poor horses make me sick and yet he only gets one day in jail.  The veterinarian who examined them said that there was so much feces in the area she had to remove them to even do initial examinations.  There most basic needs were not being met.

Sure is a different picture from this horse



Or this one from Sense and Sensibility



Actually looking closely the two greys look very similar, could they be the same horse?

I cropped the two faces and look at the face shape, the nostrils it sure looks like a very similar horse.  What an asshole to use a horse in a movie where he clearly made money and then treated him like this.

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When this case came up he was already in jail for a marijuana charge.  I just hope the court has restricted his animal ownership in the future as clearly he has no right to own animals or have an animal related business.

Sherri Brunzell – First court appearance

Sherri Brunzell was in court this morning for her first motions hearing.  Brunzell was trying to challenge the lawful search and seizure of the horses and llamas.  The judge deemed both legal and that at this time she will not be getting any animals back.  She will have to continue to pay the care bond at $5400 per month for the remaining animals in law enforcement’s care.

The Justice for Dual Peppy Facebook page posted this about the hearing today:

“Randy Parker DVM gave testimony. He stated that femur bones of the 14 deceased were tested. The average age of the dead horses was 5-10 years old. The youngest was 3. Only 3 horses were 15 or older. No firm cause of death yet to our knowledge. The judge agreed there was probable cause and the seizure stood. The bond deposit had been paid, and other vet costs were ordered to be paid. Judge Sletta ordered she pay $5,205. for vet care; float, vaccination, farrier, worming. $12.00 per horse per day or $3600 per month. The Llamas $600 for vet care, and $15 per llama per day or $1800 per month till advisement in December. Next payment due 10/23.”

This is a great step in securing a conviction and getting justice for these animals.  We will keep you updated as we get more information.

Tuesday is for horses that need homes and here are 75 of them

All American Quarter Horses and halter breed and only halter broke.  They are located in Hampshire, IL, ideally they get out of the facility they are in ASAP.  If you can help any of these horses then contact HARP.  The could use donations as well as adopters.



The horses look in need of groceries, farrier care and basic veterinary care. HARP along with Hands and Hooves are helping the horses at this point and getting them the care they need.

They do look better put together than the horses posted in the previous post and this might be a good chance to get a nice horse for an adoption fee.



Lesson in physics


Their foundation stud

Their foundation stud

This was submitted to me by a reader and while I know we have talked about this topic before it deserves revisiting.  How in the world do those spindly, post legs hold up all that weight?  It looks like is defies physics.  This is probably why these halter horses haven’t done anything, they can’t.  They are so muscle bound with ridiculousness that they probably can barely waddle their way around the pasture. I can’t imagine any of them stay sound.  There are things about this stallion I do like; he has a nice neck and shoulder.  He has a nice hip, he is downhill but a lot of quarter horses are and the that doesn’t bother me.  It is a lot easier to work a cow when a horse is downhill and after all that is what the quarter horse was designed for.  But his legs are atrocious.  The hind is completely post legged and the front has long, weak pasterns.

This one is even worse, at least the first stallion looks muscled through the legs this one looks like he is standing on toothpicks.

Suchan Ego 008 - Copy

They are winning in the show pen though so what incentive do they have to change their breeding program?  None.  At least they are posting HYPP status but far too many of them are N/H.  If breeder would stop breeding affected horses HYPP could be eliminated in one generation.  Then no more horses would have to struggle with this horrible disease.  It is too bad none of these breeders have the ethics to do it and the AQHA won’t step up because hell these horses are perfect for the slaughter market all muscled up and since the AQHA thinks we should send unusable horses to slaughter it makes perfect sense.  Breed them unable to do anything but stand around and when you are done looking at them then they become steak.

The website is  I did find it interesting that they don’t allow copying of their photos off the website.  I wonder what they are afraid of.  Too bad that “fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.” So I can criticize all I want and they can’t do anything about it.  Maybe they should look at what they are creating and make some changes if they don’t like the heat.

I particularly like this from the website “This filly represents every quality that I have been breeding for over the past 40 years”

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So apparently they have deliberately been breeding downhill, over muscled, post legged horses.  It is not an accident! They LIKE this one.

AQHA and breeders need to start looking at how these horses are built and what they can do.  It makes no sense to call it a performance halter class if the horses can’t perform.  Personally I would support a mandate that any halter horse over four also has to be showing in a ridden event.  The AQHA is really dividing into several types of horses.  There are the racing ones, the hunter under saddle/western pleasure ones, the working cattle ones, and then the halter horses.  I thought the quarter horse was supposed to be one breed that did it all, not one breed with four subcategories.

Otherwise this is what we get when we all get together at the world show



Doesn’t even look like the same breed anymore.  Sorry I got way off track but it bothers me that these halter horses aren’t even broke.  If they were would they even be rideable?

Bad Parent/Bad owner Du Jour

These pictures popped up on my Facebook feed and I couldn’t ignore them!   Here we have a cute yearling filly.  Sounds like she has been worked with well.  Stands for the farrier and ties.  Ok starting out really good. Then we get to the pictures. First one not so bad badparent2

Filly is in decent weight for a youngster.  I don’t even mind the little rib showing as I like youngsters to be a little lean to minimize growth related issues.  While I would take a better sale picture nothing terribly wrong with this.


Now we start getting a little past my liking.  I don’t think we should be saddling these guys.  Especially with a saddle that doesn’t fit at all.  You want to throw a saddle cloth around great. Work them in the round pen, great but there is a lot of time for them to learn to carry a cinched up saddle.  No need to rush things. A saddle does add extra weight and while they are growing they really don’t need that.


Then the bad parent picture.  Yep they put their kid up there.  The ad says it was the first time the filly had had weight on her. I guess that is good for the filly and thank goodness the filly didn’t blow.  Everything is bad about this pic, even the kid knows she probably shouldn’t be on the horse, look at her face.  I can just hear mom yelling, “Jump up on there that horse so we can take a picture to sell her” Of course there is no helmet, no saddle to hold on to, just a death grip on the mane.  People you don’t have to risk your kids lives to sell horses.   All it takes is cleaning them up and taking good pictures.  The people who want a broke yearling are probably not people you want to have your horse, or maybe you don’t care.  Let them grow up a little so they have the potential to be sound when they are 15. And put a helmet on the kids.  Seriously it is the simplest, no nonsense way to prevent injury and death to your child.  It is a no brainer, pun intended.