Saturday, November 5, 2011
Millions for Trash, Pennies of Knowledge
It is a bad sign for horses when stating what should be obvious is viewed as arrogance. I have had people look at me in the greatest of shock when I respond in the affirmative to the question as to whether I believe that I know more about my horse's health needs than does the vet. I certainly do and if you care about your horse you should also.
A vet likely only only spends a few minutes a year with your horse. You,(hopefully), spend several hours every week with the horse. The horse cannot tell the vet where it hurts but if you have a sound relationship with your horse you can tell the vet where he hurts.
I do not say any of this to disparage vets. I am very impressed with my vets. Yes, they know more about equine medicine than I ever will, but I know more about my horse's behavior, diet, normal practices and normal appearance than they ever can.
I am something else that the vets will never be. I am the first responder. I have a duty to my horse to educate myself as much as possible about equine health issues. That means that I have a duty to stay up with the research. I have a library of medical information under my finger tips right now that vets twenty years ago could never have dreamed of having such quick access to. Do not waste that resource. Get your medical information directly from the studies. Do not rely on what some self appointed expert using a false name writes on some horse forum.
Aside from often simply being based on fairy tale beliefs about horse care, such advice often repeats knowledge that was the state of the art 20 years ago. I do not want that for my horses in an emergency.
When I was 8 years old I began to play antique football. Although it was 1968, my coaches taught us using the same techniques and plays that they were taught when they were in high school in the fifties. Their coaches had taught them everything that they learned when they were playing in the forties. In 1968 we played the game of 1948.
If you think that giving your horse a mash of wheat bran will clear sand from his gut you are not only incorrect, you are doing the equivalent of playing antique football.
There is one starting place. Every horse owner should fully understand all of the precepts of Joe Camp's, "Soul of a Horse." In all seriousness, if one owns a horse or is even thinking about owning a horse this book must be more than read. It must be absorbed. The information in it should be chewed and swallowed so deeply that it leaks from one's pores. Step two is to read 'The Horse' magazine and "Equus" magazine. Neither are perfect, but both are loaded with helpful information. From there go to your computer, not for light entertaining stories about "My First Pony", but for cold, raw, dull information.
There is nothing about managing or training a horse that is common sense. This stuff is not logical to predators whose digestion is not dependant on fermentation of carbohydrates.
It is sad to see how much money people spend on supplements, special pads, tack and training gear, etc that does nothing positive and often much negative for their horses. Such money would be better invested in obtaining knowledge. One day your horse's life might depend on it.
Often what one picks up from people that have been around horses "all their lives" contains a grain of truth. If I have a colt on the ground that seems perfectly healthy, yet cannot stand up, I want more than a grain of truth. I want an entire wheat field full of truth.
The limited knowledge that many horse people passively acquire is a dangerous commodity. Such people could look at this picture of Charlotte in the snow and conclude that it is a picture of frozen sausage.
Do not follow the lead of such people.
Posted by Steve Edwards