Ask Horse Journal: 05/04

Leaning Sideways
The last paragraph in “Picture-Perfect Posture” in February 2004 talks about bending or leaning to one side in the saddle, but it doesn’t say how to correct this problem. I’ve built up the muscles on my left side from cleaning stalls. My right side is shorter and not as muscled, so I lean to the right and not just when I’m in the saddle. I sit at a computer all day, and I also collapse my hip in my chair at work.

I’ve tried to clean stalls the opposite way, but I just make myself more crooked. Could you offer some exercises for building even muscling on both sides of the waist to help support my hips evenly’ If one side is longer and stronger than the other, how would you do the exercises differently for each side’

Collapsing the hip and leaning more to one side are really two different problems (you can lean to one side while still keeping your back straight), although both affect the distribution of your weight plus the intensity of your seat and leg aids. Almost every rider struggles with this issue to a certain degree, even the good ones. When it’s caused by a bad habit, the solution is more mental than physical. It’s much harder to recondition muscles, as you realize, because the problem has built up over time.

We’ve rarely seen people, however, who find it difficult to switch hands with a manure fork, or a snow shovel for that matter, when they start to become fatigued. Your observation about your office chair also has us concerned.

Before you look to exercises to solve your problem, you need to rule out structural issues in your spine and pelvis. We suggest you talk to your physician about this. Yoga is something we’ve seen help many people — not just riders — find longer, straighter posture, but we feel you should have a talk with your doctor before you start any intense program that would involve the alignment of your back.


Daily Dewormers
I wondered if you can provide some insight on how to safely change a daily deworming program if too much resistance is being built up. I’ve been using a daily dewormer for about two years, and paste worming twice a year with ivermectin. If I stopped the daily program, should I withdraw it slowly’ At the time of stopping the daily program, should I paste worm to get the tapes and bots, and then rotate paste wormers every 90 days’ I live in Southern California, a medium-risk area.

There’s no need to taper off daily dewormers and no benefit to be gained. In fact, if you lower the dose gradually that’s likely to generate even more pyrantel-resistant parasites. If it’s an appropriate time of year to deworm for bots, do so. Otherwise, just put the horse on a deworming schedule appropriate for the level of exposure and time of year.

Risk is linked more to management than geographical area. Horses on pasture have higher risk than stall-kept horses that are never exposed to the manure of other horses. Crowding increases risks, as does exposure to other horses that might not be on the best deworming schedule. Horses that travel to shows, rides, etc. can be exposed at these locations as well.


Are acorns toxic to horses’ To what degree, and how would I recognize the signs of an acorn toxic reaction’

Yes, but they have to eat a lot of them. Horses vary in how much acorns appeal to them, but those that enjoy them are often described as “addicted” to the taste. Severe poisonings can cause death with few warnings. Acorn toxicity usually produces colic and weight loss, often diarrhea. Laminitis may also result.


MSM Reference
Could you give me the dosages for MSM, like you did glucosamine and chondroitin in January 2004′

A daily dose of 20 grams of MSM is needed to get an anti-inflammatory effect. By comparison, a horse eating live grasses takes in about 500 mg/day naturally. A horse not on pasture basically gets none.


Sorting Through Sunflower Seeds
An Internet rumor on whether you should feed the black high-oil sunflower seeds or the large, striped seeds is heating up. As you know, you can choose to feed human sunflower-seed snacks to your horse or, if you want to save some money, you can purchase a bag of sunflower seeds sold for birds. If you choose bird seed, choose the large, striped seeds. Avoid the small black high-oil seeds, which the horse may not chew as well (see August 2003).

Because the black seeds are not intended for human consumption, regulations regarding pesticides, fungicides and so on is actually less stringent than that for the striped seeds. The large striped seeds do not have toxic levels of fungicides on their surface, as is circulating as an Internet rumor.

Mold inhibitors may sometimes be used on seeds that are packaged in snack packs for human consumption to increase their shelf life. However, these are nontoxic and include things like vitamin C, acetic acid or proprionic acid. The later two are natural substances (acetic acid is the major organic acid in vinegar). Both are volatile organic acids that occur during fermentation of fiber in the horse’s colon.