2014 proceedings

For many years the following behaviors, e.g. cribbing , weaving and box walking, were referred to as stable vices. However, along with that term was an implication that the horse was somehow behaving badly or had made a decision to annoy its owner. To move away from that bias, the term ‘stereotypies’ or ‘stereotypic behavior’ has now become the preferred term. According to Mason (1991), ‘stereotypies are defined as repetitive, relatively invariant patterns of behavior with no apparent goal or function’.

Some of the more common equine stereotypic behaviors are:

  • Cribbing/Crib-biting – fixing the teeth against almost any object, pulling backwards while tightening the neck muscles, typically accompanied by a grunting sound
  • Weaving – swaying its weight back and forth from left to right on the front legs
  • Stall-walking/Box-walking – pacing a fixed route around the stall
  • Flank biting/Self-mutilation – repetitively biting itself

(There are other stereotypic behaviors that may be observed. In general, most can be categorized either as oral stereotypies or locomotor stereotypies. )


Take-Home Message

·     A good diet should meet your horse’s nutrient requirements, as well as satisfy his need for variety and his motivation to eat almost continuously.
·     Avoid feeding practices that allow horses to eat quickly and subsequently spend large blocks of time waiting on their next meal.
·     Selecting concentrates that use added fat and fiber (instead of starch and sugar) as principle calorie sources can help temper excitable behavior in some horses.
·     Maximizing forage in the diet, feeding smaller meals more frequently, and clever use of hay nets and feeders can help prolong intake and promote good digestive and mental health.


When you apply yoga principles to horsemanship, and vice versa, you start to see similarities such as balance, physical and mental strength, living in harmony with nature and being guided with an open heart.  I hesitate you use the term “natural horsemanship”, because there are so many different ways to interpret the concept.  To me, the term implies the use of gentle methods that present stimuli to a horse in the way he understands and would do naturally, which will reduce resistance and build confidence.  My entire life revolves around respecting nature; from my holistic lifestyle rooted in yoga principles to the way I handle horses and livestock in a low-stress manner.  I advocate horsemanship and safety, but I also honor a horse’s natural instincts and life.  That’s why I believe in maintaining the horse’s curiosity, energy and spirit. 



The hoof capsule is comprised of the hoof wall, sole, frog and bulbs of the heels; which, through the unique continuous bond between its components, form a casing or shell on the ground surface of the limb that affords protection to the soft tissue and osseous structures enclosed within the capsule1. The hoof wall is a viscoelastic structure that has the ability to deform under load and then return to its original shape when the weight is removed. It is well accepted that abnormal weight distribution on the foot or disproportionate forces placed on a section of the hoof will, over time, cause it to assume an abnormal shape 1-4. These abnormal stresses within the foot will also predispose the foot to injury or disease. Increased stress or weight bearing placed on a section of the hoof capsule may originate from a single source or it may be from multiple contributing factors such as abnormal limb conformation, the pattern in which the foot strikes the ground, amount of work, type of footing and inappropriate farrier practices. Excess stress (forces) placed on one section of the hoof capsule can manifest itself in a variety of ways such as; compressed growth rings at the coronet, flares or under running of the hoof wall, dorsal migration of the heels and either focal or diffuse displacement of the coronary band 6,7. Distortion of the hoof capsule of the forelimbs appears to be related to limb alignment and load where as deformation in the hind feet seems to be different and related to propulsion. As the hoof capsule distortion of the forelimbs is commonly associated with lameness and various disease processes, only the forelimbs will be considered in this paper. As the ‘normal’ foot has never been defined, each view will begin with what is perceived to be an ideal, good or healthy foot1, 8. The goal of evaluating the hoof capsule is to identify deformation and changes in growth pattern that indicate abnormal distribution of forces (stresses) on the foot. As hoof capsule distortion and abnormal loading usually accompany lameness, farriery will form part of or sometimes the entire treatment. Farriery is used to help redistribute the load and help improve or resolve the hoof capsule deformation.


I believe when you set your mind to do something and deeply desire to accomplish it, it will manifest itself. 

Several years back I made a decision to become the best horseman and stockman possible.

This was the only goal.  I did not aspire to become a clinician or teacher, but looking back it was the only way to get where I am going (I am not there yet).

At first I was real interested in performance and cowboy skills.  I worked on colt starting, getting a horse real handy and roping.  I was getting better and could work with the folks I chose to be around, even getting as good or better than most of them. 

This was all real good but I was not satisfied.  I felt something was missing.  We were all talking one thing, but really doing another.  I started working on how to really get to working with animals to get what I was looking for.



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