Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Test and Weight

A reader named Kristina gave me a very nice comment on my last post and included a simple test I could do on Junior's back. So, Kristina, I tried what you suggested today and I'm not sure about the results, since I've never done it before. I can take a video clip of it this week so you can help me interpret the results if my description does not give you enough information. Here's what I saw: I did the test (with the older style hoof pick with the red rubber coated handle) while he was just standing in the stall so he could move away if he was uncomfortable. He had no real reaction but if I pushed harder he contracted his muscles when I got to his loin, kind of how people react when they're tickled?, but he didn't flinch or move away. He reacted the same on both sides but if I used the rubber end of the hoof pick the reaction was less, even when I pushed harder. He never took a step away from me but he would shift his weight when he contracted. Does that mean good or bad? Would you like to see a video of the test?

And now on to something else:

When I brought Junior home last September he was a little underweight. Not anything alarming, but a little slim for my taste. He put on weight quickly and we actually cut his feed at some point during the winter (I can't recall when that was) because he was starting to get portly. I think he's "okay" right now, but with all the summer grass it seems he's bulked up again. Here are two photos from last September during the first week I had him:

Here are pictures from recently, the in-stall photo is from today.

I know it's not a drastic difference but what do you think? Is he getting tubby? Should I adjust his feed or just let it go since the grass will be diminishing soon? Your thoughts?

Oh, and our ride tonight was the best it had been in a long time. I had no issues with the turns since I was more aware of supporting him. From the very first lope-off his lope was the slowest and most even cadence that he's done in a good while. He kept his frame without a lot of fussing and we did some lope-offs one handed. It was a good ride but I kept it down to 30 minutes because of the heat.


  1. I can't help with the back thing but personally I'd leave his feed alone - I much prefer them to go into winter a little on the heavier side. It all comes to personal preference though I think. He looks fantastic in my opinion! Glad you had a good ride tonight!!

  2. I think he looks good, he looks like he has a lot more muscle than when you first got him.

  3. I find with both of my horses that a small sort of 'scrunching' motion when you get to the loins is pretty typical since it's a more sensitive area. When the vet performed this test on one of my horses (age 20 with arthritic hocks) it was pretty darn obvious that she was flinching because the feeling was painful and uncomfortable. This lead us to x-ray her hocks which then in turn, lead to injections. When the vet performed this test on a horse who wound up to have a very poorly fitting saddle, the horse shuddered through that whole side of the body and dropped it's back several inches to get away from the pressure.

    I think that any sort of 'positive' test for pain would be obvious to you since you're the one who knows your horse best!

    To me, Junior's reaction sounds fairly typical and healthy. I'm no vet, but if you wanted to take a video I would absolutely give you my opinion ;)

  4. He looks OK to me - if he were to get much heavier that would be heading towards fat but he looks good now. If you run your hand along his side from front to back, across the ribcage, if you can just feel the last couple of ribs (even if you can't see their outline), he's fine. He's very cute!

  5. I'm new here but I'll weigh in anyways:)

    I was actually just looking back over the body scoring index chart for horses. I know I am guilty of keeping my horse too fat but I think we feel better when our horses are all round and tubby:)

    Here is a link to the chart.
    The article I was reading talked about the problems that come with having and overweight horse... problems that are worse that having an slightly underweight horse.