Sickle Hocks in Horses

Sickle-Hocked 01


Winners of the Triple Crown- In all, There Were Eleven


1919 Sir Barton

The very first triple crown winner

Gallant Fox 1930

Successful in a winning endeavor

1935 was Omaha

Sired by the winning Gallant Fox

1937 War Admiral

Just like “Big Red” in the starting box

Whirlaway in 1941

Won a grand 32 first places!

Count Fleet 1943

He won 16 out of 21 races

Assault 1946

His wins were short but soon became taller

Citation 1948

Ran  well to the millionth dollar

Secretariat 1973

Known as the second “Big Red”

Seattle Slew 1977

In the triple crown he was quite far ahead

Affirmed 1978

Alydar could have won, too;

Alydar, he won three reds

barely bested by the great Affirmed’s blues.

“Big Red” the Second


I won the triple crown on 6/9/73 as the ninth winner.  I was born at Meadow Stables in Virginia in the year 1970, more specifically March 30.  As a 3 year old, I won 9 out of 12 starts, placing second twice and was third once.  There is a race held once a year named after me.  I was the second Thoroughbred racehorse in racing history known as ” Big Red.”  What was my name?

Alfalfa and Blister Beetles



Horse facts as told by a Shetland pony.

 Gypsy, the Equine Encyclopedia, tells about blister beetles and alfalfa hay.


If you have ever taken a flake of alfalfa and shaken it out, only to find crushed striped or spotted bugs with large, spiny antennae hidden inside, you have probably encountered Blister Beetles.  These toxic pests are large, approximately 1 inch long.  The reason why they are harmful to horses upon ingestion is the presence of the  toxin Cantharidin, which remains inside the beetles for as many as three years.   Belonging to the family Meloidae,  Blister Beetles come in over 200 different species and may be black with yellow or orange stripes or grayish tan paired sometimes with black spots and sometimes without.

If your horse appears to be “off his feed”, Blister Beetles can be a prime suspect. These insects are sometimes eaten by horses, usually concealed in baled  alfalfa (a legume hay that is very high in protein); colic can occur.  The minimum lethal quantity of blister beetles for a 1,100 lb horse is thought to be as few, or even less than, 125 beetles.

Treatment of Blister Beetle poisoning can be difficult.  It has no specific treatment; in severe cases, mineral oil can be administered.  Horses have either recovered or succumbed within 1-3 days.  After treatment, laminitis can result.

Prevention is always the easiest and surest way.  One way to do this is not to feed  alfalfa or to obtain alfalfa from a field that is cut before it blooms for this reduces the possibility of hidden beetles.

Not all places are home to Blister Beetles, as they are usually found in warm, dry locations.  So, if the beetles have not been found in fields nearby or you do not feed alfalfa or other flowering hays, your horses are probably safe.



Why Vitamin A is Important to Horses



Horse facts as told by a Shetland pony.

 Gypsy, the Equine Encyclopedia, tells why horses need VITAMIN A.


Vitamin A helps horses maintain good vision, especially at night.  Horses need it for healthy skin and strong muscles.  Lack of Vitamin A in equines can create problems such as a dull, scruffy coat, poor night vision (horses have much sharper night vision than people do) and severe anemia.

Toxic amounts of this vitamin can cause decreased blood clotting, poor skin quality and bone abnormalities.

Because microbes in the horse’s small intestine need beta-carotene to produce vitamin A, good sources include hay, grass and carrots.


Equine Advice: Macro Minerals


Gypsy, the Equine Encyclopedia, has something to say about the 7 macro-minerals required by the horse.  Like all Shetlands, she is always watching, listening and learning.

Horses require seven different macro-minerals to stay healthy.  These are calcium, chloride, sodium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Each one helps the horse in a different way.  Calcium is a partner with phosphorus.  Horses need calcium for strong, healthy bones.  Calcium also helps horses with temperature regulation.

Chloride: sodium and chloride go together to form sodium chloride, or salt.  Salt is critical in the process of sweating and is essential for proper electrolyte balance.

Sodium:  see chloride; the two work together.

Sulfur is  a building block of several amino acids and B-complex vitamins which aid the horse with strong hoof walls.

The mineral that is important in regulating osmotic pressure in cells and carbohydrate metabolism is potassium.  It also helps with maintaining the acid-base balances of cells.

The partner to calcium is phosphorus.  Together, they do great things and are important for strong bones and needed to metabolize and use energy.

Magnesium is important for good bone health and is involved in enzyme function.

These minerals work together for a healthy, happy horse.  This is why it is always important to feed horses a complete, well balanced diet.


Equine Advice: Capped Elbow


Gypsy, the Equine Encyclopedia, has something to say about Capped Elbow or “Shoe Boil.”  Like all Shetlands, she is always watching, learning and listening.

“Capped Elbow” is a swelling of the point of the elbow which is caused by when a horse irritates the elbow bursa with a hoof when lying down.  It is most commonly found in stalled horses.  The swelling that results may be very large but rarely, if ever, causes lameness.

If the elbow is protected, healing is favorable.  A healed wound left by a capped elbow is considered a  blemish and should not impair a horse in any way.