Women & Horses Women & Horses (tm)  by Mary D. Midkiff

Send this page to a friend!



The Women & Horses Newsletter - June 2010

Balancing the World of the Confined Horse: Part Two "A Holistic Approach: Minimize the Constraints"
by Mary D. Midkiff

read previous newsletters


Mary & Redge
Mary & Redge

Thank you for joining me in my communications with horse people from all over the world!

We all love horses, we have that beautiful passion together and we also have in common that we are human beings. My Women & Horses newsletter covers topics related to horses, all things equine and the people that surround them. There's so much that horses can teach us, so much horses have to say, so much horses provide in our lives; a journey with horses is truly unlimited.

From newsletter to newsletter I provide insights, observations, questions and solutions to numerous inquiries around horses and the world they live in. I also provide useful resources, web links, experts, books and articles that I feel might be helpful to all horse interests.

The Women & Horses newsletter stands for all horse and pony breeds as well as donkeys and mules, all disciplines and uses of the horse and wild horses. Past newsletters have been archived on the website for you to check out anytime and I'm always open to receiving your inquiries via email.

Check out my website calendar often to find out if I will be speaking or conducting clinics in your area. I look forward to meeting you and your horse(s) and find out what you are up to.

Mary D. Midkiff

What's Up With Mary? At the 2010 World Equestrian Games

Countdown until September 25

I am pleased to share with you the latest information about my participation in the World Equestrian Games, September 25-October 10, 2010.

Honored and delighted are two of the words I keep coming up with around this special event. I will be conducting live horse demonstrations on October 7, 8, 9 and 10 in the Breed's Arena introducing "The Focused Horse" natural and safe ways to calm the anxious, unfocused horse.

I will be using my "The InBalance Horse" essential oil blend and have it for sale in a new smaller version to demonstrate how aromatherapy starts the shift of the nervous system.

You never know what horses are going to do in front of large crowds so I always go with what I see, hear and feel from the horse. I will be performing and demonstrating mouth massage, TMJ acupressure, calming acupressure points in the body, trigger point and myo-fascial release therapy as well as finding any hot, tight, braced and blocking energy and releasing these negative cells...in my 30 minute time allotment!

My lectures will be femalecentric and look at how women approach horses and riding. I'll address the intuitive and the physical relationship between women and horses including aspects of why women love horses, are curious about the natural affinity and passion for horses, and riding techniques and saddle fit designed specifically for women!

I'll even provide good news for women who want to keep riding into their golden years! And the guys can learn a great deal from my presentations too. There will be many more "Yes Dear" moments and saved marriages if guys understand our differences and what we as women need to be safe and comfortable.

It's all designed to be empowering, exciting, enlightening and refreshing speaking on a world stage.

I hope you will join me in this intriguing venture and stop by the booth! More information on the Women & Horses WEG booth coming soon.

Each newsletter leading up to the Games will provide information on products and activities beneficial to you and your horse so watch for them on my website.

Balancing the World of the Confined Horse: Part Two "A Holistic Approach: Minimize the Constraints"

Why do I feel the need to focus on the confined horse?

Contemporary horse mental, physical and emotional health issues are a result of confinement and a lack of management practices to support the horse and how he functions.

I always start with the health and integrity of the horse's gastric-intestinal tract.

Caron Haggerty, CNC, of Blue Ridge Distribution has been working with horse and dog nutrition and herbal products for 20 years. She started Equine Organics almost 15 years ago and formulated the first Certified Organic Nutrition and Detox product for horses in the country.

She teaches us that there are over 200 vitamins and minerals horses in the wild search for in their grazing and roaming to stay healthy. So how is it that we can provide grain, hay and limited pasture grazing and expect them to perform and stay sane and sound?

Many horses today are simply functionally malnourished.

We add more and more supplements trying to make up for what they are missing,and we just don't know exactly what they are searching for, what is the right amount and when they will want it. It seems to be an endless and unsatisfying cycle. They have no say in their diet, we make all of their decisions and they eat what we provide. This is a constraint.

We also confine them to dark spaces with endotoxins (odors and particulates challenging to the respiratory system), constrain their movement necessary for digestive and hoof health, and remove them from their need to be in a herd.

If we are the culprit of damaging displacement then we must take responsibility to be the solution.

Let me just say I am on the same journey as everyone else. We are all facing land use, budget and scheduling restraints. And horse keeping varies according to traditions from the past, geographical areas, weather patterns and how the horse is used. There are fewer and fewer horse owners that actually have their horses at home and can manage every aspect of their horse's lives. Even some people who do have horses at home end up finding they still do not have the time, the labor or the energy to maintain the ideal horse environment.

Creating the "ideal" horse environment and program that will work for everyone is impossible, however, I do believe there are basics in creating a balanced horse that will work and serve people who are passionate about horses.

First, we must honor what the horse needs and wants. In my last newsletter (April 2010) I discussed how to begin shifting the horse's nervous system so he or she may better handle and adjust to what is being asked of them. These techniques will keep the horse emotionally balanced while you continue to set up his or her environment, nutrition, physical health care, exercise program and regular attention.

In conjunction with our nervous system work, energy release (watch for more in next newsletter) and body work we can provide a balanced lifestyle to the best of our ability.

Here's your checklist for horses in confinement. This applies to all seasons! Even if you have to close up your barn during the winter horses still need just as much natural ventilation, air circulation and light as they get in the Summer.

1. Plenty of air flow, circulation and ventilation - Fans, louvered windows and vents, open windows and doors, wide aisleways and high ceilings.

The photo below shows the natural light and air circulation coming from every direction around the horse.

well lit barn aisle

2. Plenty of natural light - High ceilings, big open doorways, wide aisles, windows and skylights.

Well venitilated barn

3. Clean fresh odor at all times. Clean stalls daily using lime dust or Sweet PDZ stall freshener on the wet spots and completely strip stalls out at least once per week replacing all bedding.

4. Level the stall, wash rack, grooming areas and aisle floors. The horse's posture depends on living on level surfaces.

5. Clean fresh water available at all times (I am not a fan of automatic waterers because they are not always reliable, you cannot detect how much water the horse is consuming, they can freeze in the winter and if they are tilted they will run constantly and flood the stall. 2 buckets are the best option.)

6. For race, show and rehab horses that are stall bound 24/7, try and get them out of the stall 2-3 times per day for exercise and/or in hand grazing.

7. Have pastures and hay inspected by a local agricultural extension specialist. Ask them or find out who supplies hay that is free of harmful chemicals, yellow foxtail bristlegrass, fescue and any noxious weeds. Talk to your extension agent about how to grow good horse pasture without using harmful pesticides and herbicides and how to rotate them for the best growth cycle.


Fescue Hay is for ruminants, not horses*Fescue hay is for ruminants and can be a cause of Wobbler's Syndrome in horses. If you are considering transforming a cattle farm into a horse farm make sure you have the pastures evaluated by a professional.


Avoid feeding rolled round bale hay unless your are sure it's ok*And avoid feeding rolled round bale hay unless you are sure it is fresh, clean and dry in the center. If it is stored for long periods of time it may become moldy and be a source of botulism in horses.


8. Feed as organically as possible. Read feed bag labels and stay away from: Grain by-products, soy, undistinguished sources of protein and sugars. Oils and other liquid binders and fats can easily go rancid sitting in the mills and in the bags of feed. Do look for "certified organic" this indicates the food was grown in certified 7 year clean soil and was produced without the use of preservatives, pesticides or herbicides; all very toxic to your horse.

9. Provide supplements such as free choice minerals and salts, herbs to support their immune system, liver and kidney function and additional pure supplements for joint and soft tissue wear and tear.

I started my horse on a complete organic nutritional program about 60 days ago and he is looking and feeling like a champ! I'll have photos for you soon.

I was inspired last Fall at the Women's Horse Industry Association conference by Pat Cleveland owner and creator of Red Leaf Farm.

By the way I am a member of WHIA and encourage all of you to check it out and join. It is a growing motivated organization of women in all aspects of the horse industry.

Create your own path when designing a lifestyle for you and your horses. Horses should eat and be kept as naturally as possible. It makes a difference to them, to you, to others and ultimately to our future.

Thank you for loving and honoring your horse(s)! The best days are harmonious horse days.

Happy Riding! Mary D. Midkiff

BEWARE: Yellow Foxtails!

Yellow Foxtail Bristlegrass

This innocent looking seed head can cause havoc with horses and dogs. Yellow foxtail bristle grass has yellow or orange bristles, which are more rigid than other soft-bristled foxtail varieties.

This past February I was introduced to the dastardly weed and so wish we had never met. It started when one of my clients was out of town and I was watching over her horses. I also train her horses and one in particular I have come to know very well. His name is Bailey.

I went out to check on Bailey and the others on a snowy day. I always start my grooming with a gentle mouth massage and right away felt unusual ulcers in Bailey's mouth. I lifted his upper muzzle to find one large deep red ulcer and a red swollen gum line all around his teeth. My first thought was herpes or a viral condition so to be safe I called the vet.

The vet came out the next day and right away said he had seen this before and it was a reaction to Foxtail. The Yellow variety has sharp burrs or bristles all around the seed head and these burrs get caught in the horses teeth and gums and become embedded and then infect the tissue. The tissue breaks out in ulcers once the burrs dig their way in. Horses can get bad infections, stop eating and have secondary issues result from this pesky weed.

I went out to his pasture and removed all of the hay that had the Foxtail in it, in this case, all of it. I showed the foxtail hay to the farm manager and he has since divided out the bales with the foxtail in it.

Since that day we checked all the horse's gums and another horse had the same mouth condition, one had throat sores and we are even wondering now if it doesn't also lead to inflammation in the colon. With Bailey, the vet cleaned his gums with cotton and I rubbed camphophenique on his gums daily and took away the foxtail hay. Within one week he was much better and within three weeks all the ulcers and inflammation was gone. He still, however, has a very irritable bowel and is uncomfortable around his lower abdomen. We are treating him for ulcers, still suspicious that the foxtails started the colon irritation.

There are hundreds of websites, articles and blogs about yellow foxtail. How to manage it, kill it, recognize it and more.

If you have any information about yellow foxtail specific to horses please send it along to me and I will put it out to my email list.

top | read previous newsletters

female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

Mary Midkiff, 1119 Merrick Drive #362a, Lexington KY 40502
Copyright 2023. All rights reserved. Phone: 502-552-1195 - Email - Contact
Order Women & Horses Products