Last week I passed my two-year anniversary with The Horse. I have to tell you, time has flown. It seems like just yesterday Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Church contacted me about the job.  At the time, accepting the position seemed like a no-brainer—I had, for years, trusted The Horse to deliver veterinarian-approved health and management information for the care of my own horses. I'm glad I trusted my instincts.

The best thing about my job, besides working with a smart group of horsewomen, is that I’m constantly learning. We here at The Horse live and breathe this stuff, and with every Ask the Vet Live I host or video I produce, I learn new and better ways to keep my horses healthy. So, here are the top 10 things I’ve changed about how I care for my horses since starting my job:

  1. Instead of feeding my horses only twice a day, I now feed them three times. This was nearly impossible when I worked a 9-to-5 job in town. However, working from home keeps me at my herd’s beck and call. In turn, my horses are healthier and happier with the extra feeding.
  2. When I’m short on time to ride, longeing my arthritic dressage horse is a priority. It’s easy, keeping horses at home, to find reasons not to ride or exercise them. I always have a paddock to clean or weeding to do. And, because to me riding or working my horses is a treat, I turned it into a "want to" rather than a "need to." This intra-articular therapy webcast with Dr. Dave Frisbie convinced me of the importance of maintaining movement in my stiff, mid-level dressage horse.
  3. My horses, who live on dry lot, now get a daily omega-3 supplement. Living in the high desert without irrigation makes my life easier (no hand lines to move), but my horses rarely feast on fresh grass. To keep them shiny and healthy, I’ve added omegas to their diets.
  4. For the first time in a long time, I’m not blanketing this year. This one is tough for me, because I like the idea of caring for my horses, and it gets pretty darn cold out there. On the other hand, blanketing horses in climate with 30-degree temperature swings in a huge pain. So, because no one is currently in full training, meaning none of my horses are body clipped or getting particularly sweaty with work, I’ve opted for no blankies. So far, so good.
  5. My ulcer-prone horse is getting alfalfa, along with the rest of his forage.
  6. My flash and crank nosebands are a little looser on my dressage bridles. It’s easy to start tightening these down without really considering the implications of an overly tight noseband. Recent research convinced me I need to pay more attention to my horses’ comfort.
  7. I no longer pine for a fancy barn in my backyard. My horses happily live in large, roomy paddocks with loafing sheds. They have protection from the weather and plenty of room to move. But, oh how I’ve wanted a barn for the past six years! In my dreams it has three tidy stalls and a large aisle way for grooming. However, the more I learn about how horses benefit from living outside—both mentally and physically—the less I want that barn. Instead, we’ve decided to build a small stable with a tack room, grooming area, and one-stall for emergencies.
  8. My horses are getting vaccinated for rabies. I don’t live in an area with rabies, but it’s an American Association of Equine Practitioners’ core vaccine and one scary disease. The vaccine is inexpensive insurance to protect my horses.
  9. I no longer do rotational deworming. After producing a series of strategic-deworming videos with Dr. Steve Sundholm of Oregon City, Ore., I now do fecal egg counts on my horses and treat for parasites according to those test results.
  10. I better understand the role of board-certified specialists, such as ACVIMs. The whole horse is composed of many systems and, while general practice veterinarians are super smart and see a lot of things day-to-day, specialists are sometimes needed for injuries and diseases out of the ordinary. That’s why I respect my own vet so much for referring my mare to an animal ophthalmologist when she needed eye surgery.
I’d like to know, has the information we provide at The Horse changed the way you care for or manage your horses?