I once had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Gerd Heuschman,
a German equine veterinarian and author, at a California
horsemanship clinic. I was already a huge supporter
of his work, which is focused on educating equestrians
about the negative effects of Rollkur (overflexion
of the horse’s neck), which is prevalent in the
European and American horse show industry.
In this month’s newsletter, I review Dr. Heuschmann’s
new DVD (see review for ordering info.), “If Horses
Could Speak“, which shows, with both real-life footage
and through use of a 3-D animated model how and
why Rollkur negatively impacts the horse, both physiologically
and emotionally. Hopefully, Dr. Heuschmann’s will
continue to gain followers both here in the United
States and worldwide, putting an end to this inhumane
See our secondary feature on the different types
of horse feed, and be sure to check our online holiday
store for new offerings, including the re-release
of “Yes, We Treat Aardvarks (formerly, “Most of
My Patients are Animals”)” and a new book of dog
cartoons (see below).
I’m also honored to report that I’m the recipient
of the 2012 Western Horseman Award. A ceremony will
be held at the annual Road To The Horse expo in
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, March 9-11.
Happy holidays, from our family to yours.
Order now, using coupon code
HOLIDAY2011 and receive
DVD Review: “If Horses Could
Dr. Gerhard Heuschmann’s DVD, “If
Horses Could Speak (produced by JFF Film Produktion)”
isn’t an entertaining video, but its value is tremendous
from an educational standpoint. It’s the companion
to his excellent book, Tug of War: Classical versus
“Modern” Dressage (www.horseandriderbooks.com),
which is available in English (as is the DVD).
What Dr. Heuschmann documents are
the harmful methods that are so common today in
horsemanship, especially show animals. This applies
not only to dressage and hunter-jumpers—as the author
uses as examples—but also to recent trends in Western
The DVD, like the book, does an
effective—if disturbing—job of illustrating that
hyperflexion of the horse’s neck (Rollkur) and an
excessively low head carriage not only interferes
with the animal’s normal gaits, but also causes
pain, discomfort, and stress which ultimately lead
to premature unsoundness and inability to use routine
gaits. Ultimately, Rollkur is inhumane, unnecessary,
and violates proper horsemanship fundamentals.
As a veterinarian whose career in
equine medicine was largely focused on show horses,
I agree with Dr. Heuschmann’s point of view. I’d
also add that the worst things I see in the industry
Starting horses too young and
working them too severely
Insisting on grotesque and unnatural
head positions, most often seen in dressage,
Western pleasure, reining, and cutting. Thankfully,
Western, stockhorse classes seem to be free
of these distortions.
When mules began to get popular
approximately 40 years ago, I campaigned against
the “peanut rollers” for Western pleasure classes.
I’m glad that those classes, as I’ve noticed at
Bishop Mule Days, are relatively free of such distorted
and harmful head positions.
My hope is that Dr. Heuschmann’s
efforts will result in head positions in all horse
show classes and disciplines that are less painful
and harmful, and which predispose to early unsoundness.
To order “If Horses Could Speak,”
Click Here to watch video on YouTube!
Make sure your horse is feeling his oats this winter
In our increasingly urbanized society,
I’ve observed a lack of understanding of the terminology
used in feeding horses. Below, a brief breakdown
Pasture: Everybody seems
to understand that this refers to growing plants.
The pasture may be natural growth, or it may
be cultivated, which means that it’s been planted.
Pasture may be green and growing, or dry and
dormant, as in cold winter months.
Hay: Hay is forage that
has been cut and allowed to dry. It’s then stacked
or baled. It will remain palatable and nutritious
for a long period of time if it’s not allowed
to get wet and/or moldy. Hay can be made from
any of the many grasses (oat, timothy,
barley, Bermuda, orchard grass, rye, Lucerne,
etc.). Hay may also be made from non-grass forage
such as legumes; examples include alfalfa or
clover. Some people think hay and alfalfa are
different, but in actuality, there’s grass hay
and alfalfa hay.
Grain: Many people refer
to pelleted feeds as “grain.” This is incorrect:
grain is the seed of certain grasses
such as oats, barley, corn, and wheat. Grain
can be fed to horses whole, or rolled or crimped
or ground. This processing increases the digestibility
of grain(s), although they may also be included
in the formulation of pelleted or powdered concentrates.
Most feed companies produce concentrated supplements,
often in the form of tiny pellets. These contain
grain plus other ingredients, but they shouldn’t
be called grain because the word refers to cereal
grains (the seeds of certain grasses, as described
Wild horses mainly eat grass including the seed
(if it’s spring or summer and the plant is producing
seed). Ideally, we shouldn’t veer too far from
this natural equine diet. On the West Coast,
where I live, I recommend a diet of 75% grass
(in the form of pasture or hay or both), plus
25% alfalfa (in the form of hay, cubes, pellets,
or green). Why the alfalfa? Because it’s a rich
source of calcium and protein.
Concentrates: If your horse
requires them because it’s a working animal,
growing youngster, nursing or pregnant mare,
or breeding sire, I do recommend supplementary
vitamins/mineral mixture to be sure no deficiencies
occur, but don’t overdo it. Ask your vet
what he or she recommends.
to all emails,
but we are
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- A Book
of dog cartoons
We are working
as we can
to get this
if we can
Is It An
one of Dr.
in catching one of Dr. Miller’s
winter or spring lectures?
February 19-20: 84th annual Western
Veterinary Conference, Las Vegas, NV;
May 31-June 3: Light Hands Horsemanship,
“Equine Learning: From Birth to Maturity,”
Santa Ynez, Ca;
For contact details and other dates and
locations in 2012, go to
HORSEMANSHIP CLINIC 2012
HOLIDAY SAVINGS AND
Register by Jan 1st and SAVE
LHH will be hosting it's sixth year May
31 - June 3, 2012. We scheduled it a few weeks later in the year in
hopes of "perfect weather." Last year it was beautiful but the past
years have been marginal. So in our continued efforts in the
“perfect” category we moved it more into summer.
Coming in our February
newsletter: Foaling season is coming!
Look for the latest in mare care and imprint
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