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Topline and hindquarter beefing up

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Our friend Julie, who lives near us, has just bought a new horse from Belgium that holds great promise but needs ‘beefing up’ a bit. Coming from a big yard, she now is one of four horses in private stables and grazing. Most attention is on her topline below the saddle but also on the gluteal area. Her coat isn’t perfect with rub marks of the reins and improvement to her coat will happen simultaneous to her building up condition. This first video was shot on Saturday 08 February 2014 and we’ll follow this up so you can see the progress also. My forecast is that this horse is going to look spectacular, I’ll keep you posted!

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Solly at Chatworth

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Here is my 21 years old 16:1hh part-thoroughbred and retired show jumper, and me at Chatworth. I have had Solly now for about five years, I used to hunt and enjoy unaffiliated show jumping. His weakness had always been his digestion and problems with weight maintainance, especially in winter when he needs hard/concentrated feeds. It limited the amount of work he was able to do. I then met Han at the Horse of the Year Show and decided to give Aloeride a try. All I can say is that it has transformed my horse.

Since I put him on Aloeride he now maintains his weight, has a healthy shiny coat, and has only rarely had digestive cramp . His digestive foe did return a couple of winters back when I tried to save money by stopping the Aloeride; I soon started it again realising this was false economy. Up until last summer I have been able to hunt Solly and jump occassionally at local shows, he now just hacks out but that’s due to a touch of arthritis and his advancing age. I live near Sheffield and our absolute best rides are riding out in the Peak District National Park. Great routes with stunning views over the valleys and villages at walk, trot and canter. There’s a really super ride around Carsington Water which is about 8 miles and I think it’s spectacular there. I wish you all the best, Sue Winterburn.

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Communicating With Your Horse

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Every rider knows that when you’re nervous, your horse will pick this up and behave accordingly. You certainly won’t have the leader role, that’s for sure. Much of this can be attributed to pheromones which most animals can smell and know how to react to. Body language as you approach your horse also speaks volumes to the prey animal which in essence your horse still is. All of this is old school, conventional and safely rational.

The video below may take you way out of your comfort zone. I find it interesting though because, whereas ‘modern man’ may have lost its ability to ‘mentally’ communicate with animals, it’s very likely that horses still have that ability between themselves. Many competition riders embrace the principle of visualisation and actively use this in their dressage. Cross country is probably way too ‘wild’ to keep one’s mind still enough for visualisation. In a dressage setting, what is visualisation if not communication, a preview without words. Not unlikely that this type of ‘communication’ helps the rider as well as the horse. You’d be wrong to label all this as wishy washy, there is plenty of proper research to confirm that visualization and mental rehearsal improves athletic performance. [1,2,3]

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’.  What Anna Breytenbach -a former Silicon Valley corporate business analist- does in this video is silently forming a sentence in her head or a mental image and ‘simply’ projecting that, and she imagines it landing in the animal’s space. The technique she uses goes back to ‘tracking’ like most indigenous people around the world do. When she gets a response from an animal, it comes in that same universal language, Anna is gifted for being able to receive and interpret it. Top competition riders (pro golfers as well as other top athletes) know that it takes two things to make such communication happen, concentration or rather, emptying and quieting your mind and practicebecause this is a learned skill, a trained brain. You too can learn it, so, next time you see your horse, quiet your mind and land a sentence or mental picture in your horse’s space… Use it for what it is, a tool, not necessarily in the way Anna uses it, but how top equestrians use it.

If that’s not your cup of tea and your life is ‘busy busy busy stress stress stress’, then just for a moment pause to see what those mental sentences or pictures might do for your horse.


By the way, Jurg Olsen still is alive and well as the manager of Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary. So is Spirit.

Sample References:
1- Brouziyne M, Molinaro C. “Mental imagery combined with physical practice of approach shots for golf beginners.” Perceptual and Motor Skills. 2005 Aug;101(1):203-11.
2- Isaac, A. R. (1992). “Mental Practice- Does it Work in the Field?” The Sport Psychologist, 6, 192-198.
3- Martin, K.A., Hall, C. R. (1995). “Using Mental Imagery to Enhance Intrinsic Motivation.” Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17(1), 54-69.

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Electrolyte Status During Exercise

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Every Endurance rider, Flat or Jump Racing jockey knows the importance of keeping their horse hydrated. Irrespective of what discipline you enjoy with your horse, for you too, that starts with allowing your horse to drink ad libitum and then, what can you do beyond that? What can you do before that to be precise! This post talks you through what you can do, should do, how it works and how simple it can be to get this right:

Anyone who did chemistry in high school knows about osmosis, that is, water following minerals. Anyone who’s spent time in the tropics will have seen that knowledge in action, it was the thought behind salt tablets… these stop us from drying out. So, whatever else influences the hydration of your horse, mineral loading is as basic as it gets when it comes to safety for exercise-induced heat management. Any water inside your horse is subject to two functional forces:

  • forces to keep water in
  • forces to let water out

Losing more than electrolytes

Equine sweat, beyond water, consists of electrolytes and glycoproteins, surfactants and proteins associated with skin defense. The main surfactant is latherin which greatly reduce the surface tension of water in sweat when this has a very low concentration, and this helps sweat spread out along the hairs for quicker evaporation (heat loss). The white lather you see on a sweaty horse is due to a lot of Albumin and a little Globulin in sweat and of course latherin. High-intensity prolonged exercise produces more dilute sweat (water content > solubles content) than low-intensity prolonged exercise does, which seems logical because it’s the water on the skin/coat evaporating that effects the cooling. In humid conditions, sweat doesn’t evaporate easily, thus doesn’t cool, so even more sweat is produced which increases the chance of dehydration. It’s reasonable to say that during Racing the ‘heat is on’ more so than during Endurance, so the cooling need is proportional and sweat composition differs. Confusion arrises when it comes to the solubles notably the electrolyte loss. Which ones does your horse loose?

An athletic horse must dissipate about 4x more metabolic heat per unit of body surface during exercise than human athletes, this is compensated for by a higher rate of skin and respiratory heat loss. The price to pay is electrolytes.

You may have read research papers on equine sweat reporting that ‘equine sweat has a higher Sodium concentration, a significantly higher Chlorine concentration and 10-20 times higher Potassium concentration than serum has’. Na, K and Cl is very narrow scope compared to the sweat mineral analysis I authorise via a London laboratory for my patients: Zinc, Copper, Nickel, Chromium, Magnesium, Manganese, Sodium, Potassium, Lead, Cadmium and Aluminium. This merely highlights that you know as much as you measure! The sweat of your horse will contain every single electrolyte in its feed that was absorbed into its body, but obviously some in greater quantity than others This is where racehorse trainers, racing yards and competitive endurance riders should prick up their ears. Here’s an opportunity for competitive gain and, from my perspective an opportunity for cleverer equine husbandry.

W C is a racehorse that does extremely well on Aloeride.
“Both these horses were very expensive young horses and they have numerous problems which we try and manage… making the point that the horse had lost its way and we put his rejuvenation largely down to Aloeride!” Gloucestershire Racing Yard

Competitors who seek to counterbalance depletion often look beyond feed. If supplementation is narrow, some electrolyte levels may remain low and if this goes undetected (serum Zinc for instance is the poorest indicator to detect deficiency whereas sweat Zinc is the best) then performance gradually will suffer. You’d be wrong to blame your horse. For example, remember Zinc’s function in leucocytes and the protection this offers a horse against for instance EHV. Nutrient depletion is easy to miss. If on the other hand supplementation not only delivers a wide spectrum of in-natural-ratio nutrients but also helps absorption of dedicated feed for your athletic horse, then you’ve created a double nutritional advantage.

The balanced loss wins

Water leaving your horse -we’ll leave urination out of the equation- happens via three routes: through the skin by diffusion, via the sweat glands by secretion and via the lungs by evaporation. You have a handle on the first two and you can improve both of them simultaneously. Skin lipids in the stratum corneum are the main barrier to water movement through skin (stratum corneum cells are embedded in a lipid-rich matrix which helps to hold them together). The quality of these fats determine how easy it is for water to penetrate the skin (ingress) and to be lost via diffusion, I discussed fats in the ‘safer by sebum’ paragraph in Support For Coat Health and Shine. That’s diffusion sorted.

 

Water (and solubles) loss via sweat glands is a functional response of their β2-adenergic receptors to adrenaline in blood circulation. During exercise, hard working muscles generate metabolic heat → increased cardiac output → increased circulation through skin → cooling by sweat gland water evaporating. As core heat increases further, sweat changes from a high electrolyte-to-water ratio to a comparative low electrolyte-to-water ratio yet the sweat glands do not have a control mechanism over what flows out. Why doesn’t a horse lose more of the same sweat composition? This is where inorganic-mineral-dependent osmosis provides a natural force to keep the water in.

The take-home message is twofold: 1) horses that are fed sufficient of a broad electrolyte base will withstand depletion by sweating 2) horses that are fed a sufficient broad electrolyte base have a good osmotic reserve to limit the water loss. Veterinary checks on horses participating in racing and endurance and that are supplmented with Aloeride in addition to appropriate feed, consistently pass such checks with flying colours. Aloeride is NOPS negative and doesn’t contain synthetic molecules.

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Aloe vera plants in a sachet

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Aloeride aloe vera Soil Association certified organicEverything in an aloe vera plant is useful except for water and the molecules that cause diarrhoea. We grow the most nutritious species under the best possible conditions using the cleverest technology to capture the magic of aloe vera into an Aloeride sachet. Uniquely within the horse world, ours is a Soil Association certified organic feed supplement that is made to the same Quality Control as the Aloeride Extra Strong we make for human consumption.

Having grown and harvested the plant, we ‘cherry pick’ our raw material via stringent independent laboratory testing. Of course we use the cleverest way for whole leaf juice (gel) to become a powder. That’s how we know, and you can be assured, that the working molecules remain present in abundance. In Aloeride we sachet the pure powder without adding anything to it other than a minute amount of inert AEROSIL® 200 Pharma which is high purity, amorphous anhydrous colloidal silicon dioxide to optimise the flow of our very hygroscopic Aloeride aloe vera powder. The big advantage of keeping the sachet content pure is that there’s nothing to adversely react to and in powder form our aloe vera is very palatable. Even fussy horses don’t reject it, that’s a big plus over aloe liquid! Everything that optimally grown aloe vera has to offer goes into our sachet, a massive 12 litres per carton (30 sachets is 1 month supply). One sachets delivers the nutritional value from 400 MILLILITRES of original, organic wholeleaf aloe vera barbadensis miller juice.

All manufacturers have the choice what Quality Control they produce to and from the independent laboratory tests on competitor products we know that many take a different view on bottom lines, profit margins and your best interests than we do. We set out to make the absolute best possible aloe vera product for your horse, with independently documented, verifiable Quality Control and we let financial implications be a secondary issue. This may not make the best business sense but it sure makes the best human sense. You want the best possible help for your horse, so that’s what we make for you. We further help you by making Aloeride extremely affordable by comparison.

In case you’re thinking about growing an aloe vera plant on your kitchen window sill… Excellent idea (e.g. for when the oven attacks the chef at home) but for any species of aloe vera plant to develop its spectrum of polysaccharides, it needs a lot of sunshine. Which is the one thing we haven’t got a lot of in Blighty. That’s why there’s Aloeride. There is another thing, all unprocessed aloe vera plants contain laxative anthraquinones – as indeed do other aloe vera products – so, should you eat from the plant on your kitchen sill, you know what to expect…

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Exmoor Golden Horseshoe 2014

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Aloeride is extremely pleased to sponsor the Exmoor Experience 50 Miles Two Day Class Endurance Riding event in the glorious Exmoor National Park. Exmoor’s Golden Horseshoe endurance ride (May 11th – 13th 2014) is considered to be one of the toughest tests of horse and rider in Europe. It’s just you and your horse over hundreds of miles of some of the most challenging terrain in Great Britain. All against the clock and your fellow competitors. Endurance riding (timed riding over long distances) is one of the fastest growing sports in Britain.

Also, please tell Han, and for your information, that my horse on Aloeride has now done 30 and 40 mile rides with no electrolytes and is recovering quickly, with good gut sounds and low pulse rate. We’re doing, hopefully, a 50 miler at the weekend, which will be a good test. This aspect might be something we could explore in the future as we have done with the hooves here. I’d really like to carry on with the Aloeride

 

It’s pure horse heaven as the village of Exford turns into a clip-clopping sea of bay, chestnut and grey. You don’t even need to ride to enjoy the spectacle. The atmosphere is distinctly carnival: crowds spill out of the pubs, while up at the event venue (above the village) there is masses to see and do: you can watch the competition horses being vetted, buy horsey paraphernalia at the stalls and parades of proud Arabians and their doughty distant cousins, the native Exmoor pony. “Horses have to be very fit so only the very best endurance horses in the country can compete,” says Barbara Wigley who heads the organising committee. “Most enthusiasts see a Gold award from Exmoor as having reached the pinnacle of the sport.”

Now that I have cleaned all the mud from my horse, tack and clothes after the 50-mile ride on Sunday, I can tell you that we completed and passed all the vetting. Although it was humid, the horse had no electrolytes or other additives, only Aloeride. It really was a tough ride, so I’m thrilled!

However, there are several other classes (over lesser mileage) that help riders build experience and fitness. And, just for the heck of it, there is a 15 mile Pleasure Ride (in aid of local charities) on the Sunday, a gentler way to enjoy part of the course. What country it is too: picture-postcard villages, wooded coombes, babbling streams, heather-clad moorland. Ten to one you’ll see herds of native ponies and the wild red deer, buzzards wheeling lazily overhead and the larks flying up from under your hooves. Top endurance rider explains the appeal: “It is just you and your horse out there in the countryside. No judges watching you; no jumps to negotiate; no dressage tests to remember or showjumping courses to clear. The birds are singing, the breeze is blowing and the sun shining…” She pauses before adding wryly, ”Or, in some cases, the rain pouring down, the wind blowing a gale and the ground like a quagmire.”

The health of the horses is paramount and each one is vet-checked before, during and after the competitive rides. For me (and a giggling gaggle of pony-mad small girls), this is the secret joy of the Horseshoe: as the vetting is carried out in public you can play that horsey game of “which one I’d like to take home” to your heart’s content. The majority of endurance horses are Arabian or Arabian crossbred because, as Nikki Routledge explains: “They are tough in body, thin-skinned (so heat dissipates) and have a lot of stamina.” However, she points out that any sound horse can compete, including “Thoroughbreds, Welsh cobs, Connemaras, Irish Draughts, even Fjords and Exmoors.”

“It’s like an addiction,” says international endurance rider Nicky Sherry. “The more I do it, the more I want to do it. I have been in the sport for nearly 30 years and I haven’t got over it yet. The challenge of the course and the adrenalin rush compares to nothing else.” Routledge agrees. “As you come into sight of the finish you want to cry with the sheer emotion of getting to this point,” she says. “Your horse has carried you 100 miles – because you asked him to. Not because you are such a brilliant trainer or fantastic rider but because he wanted to. It is very humbling, that an animal will do that simply because you asked. How do you beat that kind of feeling?”

Photographs: by Barbara and Ian Wigley.