enhancing your horses quality of life
As a veterinarian, breeder and international dressage competitor, Dr Victoria Hamilton has a wealth of experience in equine health. Having bred and trained many horses to FEI level, before caring for them well into retirement, Victoria really understands the changing needs of horses throughout their lives, which are relative to work load, environment, age, breed and temperament.
Whilst she prefers evidence based information when it comes to selecting products, when this isn't available Victoria draws on her own experience and is always listening to the people around her. She is committed to sourcing the best horse products available at affordable prices, and providing quality services to help owners enhance the quality and longevity of their horses' lives and careers.
the springs of life
1. Pay attention to the surfaces they are trained and compete on
2. Slowly prepare them for the work that is expected from them as it will help their bodies adapt
3. Look after their feet... good shoeing and trimming is absolutely essential to ensure theirs legs are tracking as straight as possible an in-line with how they were born to move.
4. Train them correctly. Correct training is more important for long term soundness than most people realise as it helps horses move straighter. This allows their joints to load move evenly and therefore distribute the forces better.
5. Cross-train. This has been proven to be protective from an injury risk point of view
5. Look after their nutrition. Correct nutrition relative to the horse's work load is vital so the horse is not carrying too much weight or being over fed and running the risk of injury due to freshness or overworking.
6. Take care of their muscles. Horses' muscles need to be healthy and in good condition so the joints are not under abnormal strain. This is where nutrition, body work , saddle fit and correct work all come together.
7. Minimise concussion caused by stomping at flies by regularly using fly spray or fly boots or creating fly free areas as much as possible. Fans in stables keep air circulating and will reduce fly numbers as well as do fly traps around yards.
8. Consider joint products. There are a lot on the market. Some are systemically injected into the whole horse, others injected into particular joints and others administered orally. They all work slightly differently and take varying lengths of time to begin to help. Some will work in one situation whereas another product may produce a better result in another case. It is impossible to tell without trying so don't be afraid to give something a go and make a switch where necessary.
VH APPROVED PRODucts
No Hoof No Horse
The old saying "No Hoof - No Horse" is so true and something never to be forgotten. The Australian climate is particularly harsh on horses feet with often remarkable variation in moisture content in the environment in short spaces of time. Added to this is the hardness of the surfaces many horses work on and there is little wonder that many horses have problems with their feet.
No matter what the problem is, management can be easier and flare-ups often less frequent and less severe if hoof integrity is optimum and growth good. For this, a good, balanced diet is essential paying attention to overall sugar levels, protein level and quality and mineral levels. There are many hoof care nutritional supplements available with most containing biotin, some amino acids and minerals known to be important for hoof growth.
Correct trimming or shoeing at regular intervals is vital so the hooves maintain good angles at all times.
Environment regulation can be one of the most difficult areas to manage but also one of the most important to minimise the chances of many hoof infections such as abscesses, thrush and white line disease. Some products can be used to paint on the hoof surfaces to help dry them out, to help with bacterial and/fungal infections and to try to regulate the moisture level within the hoof. These are available in the VH Saddlery SHOP.
VH Approved products
the bridge between power and steering
Once under saddle, it is essential to ensure a correctly fitting saddle. One common mistake riders make is waiting for a horse to get older before investing in a decent saddle. By then the damage may already be done to your horse's back and the horse may have learnt behavioural or positional issues due to discomfort or soreness.
Dr Victoria Hamilton's special interest is in caring for the horse's back. She runs clinics to help riders learn how to develop their horses' backs both under saddle and through in-hand work and cross training. This is so important not only for the young horse beginning it's career under saddle but also for horses that may be coming back into work after injury - back related or not! If you are interested in finding out more... head over to the Dressage Page.
There are also many girths on the market, with different shapes and materials making a huge difference. The shape of the girth you choose should depend on the horse's conformation, as it will impact where its girth groove is in relation to its saddle platform area. Materials can vary from sheepskin covered, fabric, neoprene or leather, with elastic and non-elastic options, and some with equalising systems. Girths should always be selected after the correct saddle is found and fitted to your horse, as the girth straps on the saddle will impact the placement of the girth.
Check out our range of Equi-Prene Girths in the VH Saddlery Shop.
VH Approved products
Rehabilitation and development programs
Every program is individually tailored according to the horse's injury or weakness, its training level and the owner's time and facilities. Victoria has purpose-built hills, slopes, varied surfaces, poles, cavalletti's and working surfaces for ridden and ground work at her property in Mundaring. This is ideal for training and assessing and monitoring horses' progress during periodic check ups.
Victoria will design a program that is easy to follow, interesting and fun. It will physically prepare your horse for its future work and prepare the horse mentally, by building respect and understanding between the horse and its handler. This is particularly essential for the young horse about to start its ridden career and older, injured horses that are accustomed to daily work and may lack patience with reduced workloads.
Horse management is also a key component, with Victoria available to check and discuss important aspects such as nutrition, joint and hoof care. Her vast experience in horse health and management means no area will be left to chance.
Rehabilitation and development programs can be done remotely, so no matter where you live in the world Victoria can help you with the development of your horse.
Prevention is better than cure
Everyday there seems to be more products available, all with various claims. Some claim to help foregut issues such as stomach ulcers, whereas others target the hindgut.
The only sure way to know if your horse has stomach ulcers is to have it scoped, and if the result is positive it should be treated by a vet.
The treatment will depend on the location of the ulcers, which is why it is extremely important to scope rather than just go ahead and treat based on symptoms. During and after the treatment optimising gut health and minimising the risk of reoccurrence is essential, which can be achieved through changes in horse management.
Hind gut health cannot be ignored, and hopefully we will see great advances in knowledge surrounding treatments and preventative measures in the future.
As always prevention is better than cure, so correct management and nutrition is essential to keep your horse's digestive system in top form. Different products work in different ways, with some altering the pH of the gut for example, others attempting to coat and protect the gut and others feeding the good bacteria. Selection of products will therefore need to be based on the individual requirements of your horse.
Regardless of what product you feed to your horse, correct management and nutrition is essential to keeping its digestive system in top form. Horses should be turned out daily, ideally in company, have access to hay or grass at all times and never worked on an empty stomach.
VH Approved products
Sand Clear Plus 4kg
Sand Clear Plus are palatable, easy to feed, Psyllium husk pellets.
Why Feed Sand Clear Plus???
Effective Sand Removal – Horses on sandy pastures, or grazing in drought conditions, on overgrazed pastures or who are kept in a dry lot can accumulate sand and dirt in their hindgut, putting them at risk of digestive upsets including diarrhoea and ‘sand colic’. Psyllium fibre provides fibrous bulk that is able to shift sand and dirt from the gut, helping to maintaining normal hindgut health and function.
Tasty – Psyllium fibre, in its natural form is inherently unpalatable. Sand Clear Plus has been formulated to smell and taste good as well as have a good ‘feel’ in your horse’s mouth. The result, a tasty formulation most horses will happily eat.
Convenient – Natural psyllium fibre is messy. You can’t feed it dry. But if you wet it too much your horse won’t eat it! Sand Clear Plus, in its convenient pellet form cuts the mess and makes it super easy to feed.
High in Fibre – Horses on restricted fibre diets are at highest risk of digestive disturbance due to the accumulation of sand or dirt in their hindgut. The high fibre content of Sand Clear Plus increases the bulk of fibre in the gut and supports normal hindgut function.
Feeding Rates & Directions
All horses and ponies – 40 grams per 100 kg of bodyweight per day
(200 g/day for a 500 kg horse)
- Feed for 5 to 7 consecutive days every month in high risk situations
- Feed in a single meal per day
- Do not wet Sand Clear Plus before feeding
- Mix with dry lucerne chaff and/or your horses favourite feed to assist with consumption
- Follow the feeding rates above to provide the correct amount based on bodyweight
Psyllium husk (85%), lucerne meal, bentonite, salt, cold pressed canola oil, apple flavour.
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