It means the person riding or viewing the horse wrongly thinks the horse is well-exercised.
Horses should not be worked so hard that they produce sweaty foam on their bodies, as shown in the photo above. It puts them at risk of serious electrolyte depletion, and excessive muscle fiber breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) that can dangerous.
In extreme cases, the horse can "tie up" (Tying Up Syndrome). When horses tie up, their muscles become stiff and painful, they sweat heavily, tremble, and blow (exhale loudly). They are often reluctant to move, and their urine turns a brown color, indicating blood due to muscle breakdown.
You should call a vet if your horse ties up, but in the meantime, you should give your horse electrolytes to help replace the minerals and antioxidants that were lost during the intense workout. Here are a couple of good brands.
Some people refer to a horse that is foamy around the bit like this as "well-lathered".
Foam around the bit isn't dangerous. In fact, it's a good thing. It means that the horse is relaxed enough to salivate and chew gently on the bit while being worked. Some riders at competitions spray the bit with flavors that will encourage salivation, which in my opinion is cheating. When the horse naturally salivates, it's a sign that your contact is elastic and comfortable. When the horse salivates because you've put something tasty on the bit, the salivation is no longer a sign of good rein contact.
Copyright Denise Cummins Jan 7 2020
The Thinking Equestrian
A reader asked: On a school trip, my teacher's finger was bitten clean off by a horse. What could have caused the horse to do this?
This is the danger in hand-feeding horses--getting your fingers bitten. Yet most of us do it all the time without incident. Here's how to do it safely.
First, donʼt hand feed unfamiliar, aggressive, or anxious horses. Even gentle horses can end up injuring you. My vet told me a story about a client whose horse injured her breast because she had a habit of leaving carrots in her breast pocket and letting her horse pick them out with his teeth. Bad idea.
Second, keep in mind that horses have nearly 360 degree vision around themselves which makes it difficult for predators to sneak up on them. BUT they have blind spots directly in front of their noses and directly behind their tails. (See the image above.) If you offer a treat by holding it with your fingers, they canʼt tell what theyʼre chomping. Could be a carrot, could be a finger.
To hand feed horses safely, hold your hand out flat under the horse's nose, and place the treat in the flat palm, like the woman in the picture above is doing. Your horse will sniff and feel around with their lips to find the treat.
Better yet, put the treat in a bucket or other container, and offer it that way.
Here are my favorite horse treats!
Copyright Dec 16 2019 Denise Cummins, PhD
The Thinking Equestrian
Here's how to prevent it.
The incidence of colic in horses rises dramatically in winter. The most common type of winter colic in horses is impaction colic. Undigested food gets "stuck" in the digestive track, which can be life threatening.
Why does the risk of colic rise in winter? The most frequent cause is lack of access to (reasonable temperature) water. Water tanks freeze, so pastured horses can end up going for long periods without access to water. Water buckets in stalls can freeze as well, or the water can become so uncomfortably cold that horses will avoid drinking. Freezing weather can also cause pipes to freeze in unheated barns, which can shut off water to indoor waterers without barn owners knowing there's a problem.
PREVENTION IN THE KEY
1. Check your water tanks, buckets, and plumbing several times a day. If the tank or bucket has frozen over, break up the ice, or you can use an automatic de-icer like this one.
2. If possible, add hot water to tanks and buckets in order to bring the water in them to room temperature, at least for a while. Horses will usually drink right away once the water is warmed up.
3. Consider using heated water buckets, like this one, or this one. Or install automatic heated livestock waterers, like this one or this one to your pasture or stalls. Your horses will have access to room temperature water 24/7.
4. Be sure to feed your horse high quality forage (hay)
plus horse feed that supplies vital nutrients (such as selenium and Vitamin E.) Feed at least twice daily, not one huge meal. And NEVER grain your horse before riding.
5. Give your horse daily turnout for several hours to help food move through their digestive system as they walk around.
Some other tips:
For horses that are prone to colic, consider adding quality fats to their diet, such as rice bran oil or flax oil.
Horses who graze in sandy soil areas may benefit from psyllium, a nondigestible fiber that clears matter from the intestine. Here is a good psyllium product from Farnam.
Adding probiotics and prebiotics to their diet improved hind gut function, which also helps protect against colic. Here is a good product that supplies both.
You might also be interested in SmartDigest by SmartPakEquine. According to the SmartPakEquine website, if you order in it through them, you may be eligible for $7,500 of colic surgery reimbursement through their ColiCare program.
Copyright Dec 10, 2019 Denise Cummins
The Thinking Equestrian