Your Saddle Panels: An Often Overlooked Cause of Back Soreness and Lameness. Learn How to Check Your Saddle Panels Out
Did you know you can prevent your saddle panels from causing back soreness and lameness? Click here to watch our video to learn how.
The panels are light brown in this picture.
Click here to watch our short video tutorial. The video walks you through how to check your saddle panels to see if they are in need of reflocking or refoaming. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Check out our saddle reflocking page for more information about saddle reflocking and refoaming.
Does your saddle need to reflocked or refoamed? Tell us what you discovered when you checked out your saddle. Share your saddle reflocking stories!
Selenium and Vitamin E: The Dynamic Duo All Horses Must Have For Proper Muscle Function and Suppleness
"I love my horse...... but........."
"OMG.... My horse is always so stiff. They feel like cement." "My horse has so much trouble bending." "My horse has muscle spasms." "My horse always seem sore." "My horse just does not want to move, but they don't appear to be lame."
I hear these comments many times every week! Why??
If I had a dollar for every time I had the "selenium/vitamin E conversation" with horse owners, I would be a rich woman. This dynamic duo is not an optional or "nice to have" mineral/vitamin combo for horses. Many horse owners are not aware this duo in the correct amount is critical for normal muscle and cell function. Your horse will be stiff as a board without it! If they do not get the correct amount on a daily basis, you are literally wasting your time stretching, training, having proper saddle fit, getting your horse's feet done and seeing the vet. Here's why.....
Give Me The Short Story (no complex chemistry please)
Selenium and vitamin E work in partnership to play the role of antioxidant aka "free radical neutralizer" and support the immune system. Oxidation is the process by which fats, carbohydrates and proteins are converted into carbon dioxide, water and the energy needed for the horse's body to function. However, as part of the normal oxidation process, a by-product called free radicals is created. If free radicals are not neutralized, they can damage and destroy the cell structures.
This often results in the horse's muscles feeling hard like cement, muscle spams, soreness and tightness throughout the horse's body and even poor coat quality or loss. The horse has a very difficult time doing their job regardless of their discipline because the cells and muscles are not able to function properly. Sometimes the horse even appears to be lame. Often times riders mistakenly think there is a saddle fit issue, behavioral issue, or injury. While any of these items can also be present, ensuring the horse is getting the required amount of organic selenium and vitamin E daily is a critical step in problem solving.
How Much Selenium and Vitamin E Does a Horse Need Each Day?
The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has recommended that the average 1000 lb adult horse needs 3 mg of organic selenium and 500 IU (international units) of vitamin E daily. Some horses even need a bit more selenium and vitamin E. For example, I know some horses that need 4 mg of selenium and 3000 IU of vitamin E each day. Also, some horses who have been deficient for a long period of time may need a selenium booster shot in addition to their daily dose.
Since every horse is an individual, it is best to work with your vet and/or equine nutritionist to determine your horse's needs. Doing a blood test for both selenium and vitamin E is an option to consider if you think your horse may be deficient. Too little or too much selenium and vitamin E can have equally bad consequences.
How to Calculate Your Horse's Selenium and Vitamin E Intake
While vitamin E is found naturally in fresh grass, levels begin to drop the moment grass is cut for hay. In addition, many soils around the world (including my home state of Oregon in the US) are deficient in selenium, so the hay or pasture grass does not have enough selenium content. Therefore, supplementation is necessary. If you do need to supplement, I strongly recommend organic selenium as it is more easily absorbed by the horse. I have clients who thought they were doing the right thing and giving their horse additional selenium, but it was inorganic and not very effective due to lack of absorption. Also, your horse must have the proper amount of both selenium and vitamin E. They work in partnership, so one without the other in the proper amount will not yield great results.
In order to calculate how much selenium and vitamin E supplementation is necessary (If any) for your horse, look at all the feed tags and other supplements your horse receives and add up the selenium and E amount in each dose. You may even want to test your hay. Unfortunately, most grain and supplement manufacturers provide the selenium level in their products in ppm (parts per million) per pound. So, you have to do a bit of math to determine how many milligrams your horse is receiving in each dose. Don't worry....Help doing this calculation is close at hand!
On the Helpful Links page on my website, the first two links on the left side of the page lead to articles containing more detailed information about selenium and vitamin E and a step by step guide explaining how to calculate your horse's current selenium intake.
I hope you find this important horse health information helpful. Do you provide additional vitamin E and selenium to your horse? Do you have any questions about selenium and vitamin E? Let us know by posting a comment on our blog or our Facebook page
I often come across horses with hind end muscle tightness in my practice as an equine bodyworker, elastic kinesiology taper and saddle fitter. Since horses propel themselves forward from their hind end, this is not surprising. Whether you are doing sliding stops, jumping fences, trail riding, doing flying lead changes or simply walking, trotting, cantering or loping, your horse's "hind end muscles" are working hard. Even horses that are retired and hanging out enjoying life with their friends in the field can develop tight hind end muscles from lack of use.
Assuming your horse is healthy, injury-free, and gets the appropriate amount of selenium and vitamin E daily, stretching is one of the best things you can do to enhance performance, help prevent injuries and keep those hind end muscles relaxed, flexible and able to do their job. Stretching can often help address concerns about short-striding, general hind end weakness and/or imbalance, and a lack of willingness to smoothly move forward.
Here are five hind end stretches that are beneficial for most horses. You can visit the Horse Stretches Library for detailed stretch descriptions and the names of the muscles being stretched as well as the color coded muscle charts at the bottom of this post. And remember, always consult an equine healthcare professional prior to starting any stretching regimen.
Are you ready to get your horse stretch on? Step by step "how to" videos for all of these stretches are contained in the Stretch Your Horse Mobile App.
What is your favorite hind end stretch?
How has stretching benefited your horse?
Did you know stretching can prevent musculoskeletal aging? Yup, it is true! When a muscle is overused or underused, it responds by shrinking or tightening which can cause stiffness. As explained by Dr. Ava Frick, DVM, "Stiffness can result in injury, leading to inactivity, and eventually speed up the aging of the musculoskeletal system. To remain supple, the connective tissue and muscles need regular stretching. Stretching helps resist the gradual shortening and tightening of tissue that otherwise sets in from both underuse and overuse, reducing discomfort and slowing the progressive loss of capacity that accompanies tightening." See Stretching Exercises for Horses: Are They Effective?, Dr. Ava Frick, DVM, Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, Vol. 30 No.1 (2010).
What is your favorite horse stretch??
Ilene Nessenson, JD, Certified Equine Bodyworker, is the creator of the Stretch Your Horse App. She has been an equine bodyworker, saddle fitter, and saddle reflocker for over 11 years.
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