My Journey To Lightness with Philippe Karl Part V

So far, in my practice since the April session, I can use one word to describe my rides and play sessions: wonderful. Progress is not always uniform, of course, but Caspar becomes more and more like butter, yet his energy becomes more and more available to me. This is very inspiring for me, and I would like very much to be able to share it with others.

May 2012
Delta, BC, Canada

Dozens of people met with great anticipation for the fourth session of the Instructor’s Course of Philippe Karl’s L’École de Légèreté. The Adderson Family again proved to be able hosts at their equestrian centre, “ForTheHorse”, in Chase, BC. Both riders and auditors were eager to see the progress made over the winter, to reconnect with colleagues, and to see what Philippe Karl’s responses would be to what was shown. The Instructor Candidates that had brought substitute mounts to the October session returned this April with their original horses, which added extra interest.

The format for this session was similar to that of the previous sessions. The first lessons progressed much more quickly than in previous sessions, as M. Karl was by now familiar with the horses and riders. Halfway through my first lesson, M. Karl decided that it would be profitable to teach me and Caspar the “Effet d’Ensemble”, which generated intense interest among the auditors. M. Karl then mounted Caspar (after briefly introducing himself with in-hand work) so that he could first introduce this concept to him, before instructing me the next day. After dismounting, M. Karl told me to attend the next lesson, wearing spurs. M. Karl remarked that he would have introduced the effet d’ensemble much earlier, but that Caspar and I needed to be confirmed in the prerequisite of proper contact.
The next lesson began with instruction in the technique necessary for the effet d’ensemble which I then used, to great effect, throughout all of the following work. The positive effect of this technique on all aspects of Caspar’s work and attitude was astounding and apparent to all.

M. Karl also taught the effet d’ensemble to another horse-rider pair. He explained that most horses will never need to be introduced to it, but that occasionally a trainer will encounter a horse which cannot be trained without it. These are horses which may be perfectly schooled at home, but behave as though they are completely unschooled when away from home. The trainer needs a non-violent method to completely overcome these horses’ defences when in any situation.

Another lesson which generated much interest was the introduction of another candidate’s horse to working in a double bridle. M. Karl demonstrated and instructed the flexions in hand necessary to introduce the new bit and explain the proper responses to the horse, and then the correct way to use the reins while mounted.

In the group lesson, Caspar and I were practicing our in-hand work, and then practicing while mounted.
The jumping lesson was fun and exciting- we were grouped according to how much jumping the horses and riders were used to. M. Karl clearly enjoys, and has great expertise in, jumping, and had a diverse group of horses successfully negotiating gymnastic series of jumps. The final jumps were exhilarating for me, with Caspar enthusiastically jumping an ascending oxer of approximately 3’6”. M. Karl remarked that Caspar showed a very good jumping style, and an aptitude for problem-solving.

The two lectures were fascinating and entertaining, as always, and packed with information. The theme for this session’s lectures was collection: the different types of collection, how they are achieved, and their effect on the development of rhythm and cadence (especially for ordinary, not especially talented, horses).

A very important pair of concepts were emphasised by M. Karl throughout the lessons, which are frequently confused but essential to master: the sets, TAKE – GIVE and ACT – YIELD. One feature which distinguishes these concepts, essential for development of rider tact, is that “to give” is initiated by the rider; “to yield” is initiated by the horse.

As always, I left this session of École de Légèreté with homework to study. My main task will be to practice the effet d’ensemble in a very disciplined fashion, in all gaits, transitions and exercises, while making my actions more and more discreet. As always, I should employ a variety of positions while training, and give frequent breaks. When the effet d’ensemble is very consistent, I should begin riding with the double bridle, to take advantage of the different effect combinations available. I may also begin preparation for flying changes. When practicing jumping, I must be a bit bolder in my approach to fences, and allow Caspar to gallop more.

So far, in my practice since the April session, I can use one word to describe my rides and play sessions: wonderful. Progress is not always uniform, of course, but Caspar becomes more and more like butter, yet his energy becomes more and more available to me. This is very inspiring for me, and I would like very much to be able to share it with others.

Submitted by Sherry Leväaho

My Journey To Lightness with Philippe Karl Part IV

October 2011
Delta, BC, Canada

The third session of the Instructor’s Course of Philippe Karl’s L’École de Légèreté once again drew dozens of people from all over North America to the Adderson Family’s equestrian centre, “For The Horse”, in Chase, BC.

This session was taught by Bertrand Ravoux, one of four Instructors who are qualified by Philippe Karl to teach Instructor’s Courses of L’École de Légèreté. M. Ravoux did not disappoint and proved himself to be remarkably skilled for such a young person. Although he occasionally struggled with expressing himself in English he brought much clarity and humour to the session.

The session’s format was similar to that of previous sessions. The first day’s lessons were a full hour, and M. Ravoux, who had reviewed all of the previous session video as well as M. Karl’s teaching notes, evaluated the candidates and their mounts before deciding the exercises necessary. Also, several candidates attended with different horses, which meant further adjustments were needed. The second and third days’ lessons were 45 minutes long and each day finished with a lecture, covering the necessary material. The third day’s evening featured a dinner and convivial get-together for all attendees. The fourth day, as usual, consisted of two group lessons: the first, for work in-hand and under saddle; the second, over fences. The lessons were followed by a demonstration by M. Ravoux of riding a young horse, and a wrap-up session to answer questions and discuss homework to be studied before the next session in April.

Caspar (Favory Fantasia III-1) had largely recovered from his respiratory infection, but was only being lightly longed and was not yet in work by October. Therefore, I attended with Nicolina, a young Canadian-Arabian cross mare, whose stage of training was comparable to Caspar’s- and who also required help from her rider to keep her focus in an unfamiliar situation. With Nicolina, the work included: pronounced bending to provoke neck extension, and alternating work with a high neck with work with extended neck, in true- and counter-bend. The focus of the gymnastic jumping sessions was to have the riders do as little as possible: it would be a grave error to disturb the horse’s physical or mental balance. M. Ravoux also discussed remedial techniques for retraining spoiled horses for jumping.
We accomplished quite a lot and I was pleased to practice some techniques for improving balance at the canter. I was especially glad to have had the opportunity to expand my repertoire for work in hand and improve my technique; in this third session, M. Ravoux was able to teach in more detail. In all my work with all of my horses, the work in hand has become an indispensable part of my training routine; all of the mounted work becomes just so much easier as a result. I always include it now as part of the warm-up of a session, even if only briefly; sometimes the session only consists of work in hand. My homework with Nicolina follows the logical progression already established. It includes practicing clear lateral flexion to encourage neck extension; practicing flexions and lateral movements in-hand, paying particular attention to my positioning relative to the horse; to introduce poll flexion when the horse is calm and accepting, but always remembering to include neck extension to prevent any overbending or leaning; when shoulder-in and counter-shoulder-in are easy on both hands, introduce travers and renvers; practice canter exercises and depart from active trot until canter becomes more balanced and more slow (closer in speed to walk: then introduce depart from walk); practice approaching jumps while doing as little as possible, avoiding pressuring or unbalancing the horse.

One major emphasis of this session was the value of transitions: between gaits, within gaits, or between positions. This allows the trainer to exploit the horse’s anticipation- which, contrary to some opinion, is something to encourage. The horse’s anticipation is a sign of the horse’s mental engagement and desire to please, and can be exploited by the thinking trainer as a means to shape the horse’s response to the aids.

So, one may wonder, what has Caspar been doing? Well, while he was still showing a cough and snotty nose, from mid-July to October, he did no work. But we did play games to keep him busy, working on improving “curtsey” and “kneel”, and preparing for “down”, as well as other problem-solving exercises such as picking our way through an obstacle course of tires. Nearer to October, I would frequently hop on him bareback during the play sessions, and walk about with just the longeing cavesson. Being unable to ride Caspar had a side-effect of improving our relationship (he is still as cheeky as ever, though). After I returned home from Chase, I started to work Caspar again, and I have been diligently studying and practicing our exercises (in between winter storms) to get him caught up. I am thrilled with the improvement in his mental engagement, and his “throughness” and impulsion in the exercises. Beginning every session with longeing and work in hand has made the ridden work very smooth and I am always excited about our work together.

~Written By Sherry Leväaho

My Journey To Lightness with Philippe Karl Part III

The first day, M. Karl noted approvingly that Caspar showed clear improvement in his contact and obedience; we moved on to some more advanced exercises combining shoulder-in and counter shoulder-in on curves and straight lines, with high neck and extended neck, collecting and lengthening.

August 2011
Delta, BC, Canada

The second session of the Instructor’s Course of Philippe Karl’s École de Légèreté once again drew dozens of people from all over North America to the Adderson Family’s equestrian centre, ‘For the Horse’, in Chase, BC. The atmosphere was cordial, with auditors returning as well as some attending for the first time.

The first instruction day, the eight participants’ lessons were a full hour. The students described how they had been practicing since the last session, and M. Karl observed them working their horses before proceeding to build upon the previous work. After the lessons, all attended a detailed, yet entertaining, lecture, complete with anecdotes and diagrams drawn by M. Karl himself.
The sessions of the second day were followed by a potluck supper and party, the sessions of the third day were followed by another lecture. During the lectures, M. Karl showed his extensive knowledge of theory, anatomy, bio-mechanics, ethology, and riding culture.

The fourth day consisted of two sets of two group lessons: before lunch, lessons of four riders each, practicing the material covered in the course so far; and after lunch, lessons of four riders each, practicing jumping gymnastics. Afterward, students attended a lecture and ‘wrap-up session’ to answer any questions and to discuss homework to be studied before the third session to come in October.
It was fascinating to see how the horse/rider pairs had progressed since the last session, and how M. Karl’s approach varied according to each horse’s strengths and weaknesses. The jumping lessons were naturally entertaining and M. Karl’s expertise and eye were again made plain as he designed the gymnastic and guided the riders to their optimal effort.

Caspar (Favory Fantasia III-1) handled the clinic situation much better than the previous April, although there is still room for improvement. Unfortunately, we suffered some extremely bad luck: Caspar unloaded from the trailer with a nasal mucus discharge and a cough. He still showed normal appetite and energy, so we carried on with the clinic, although we tried to keep everything at a low intensity.

The first day, M. Karl noted approvingly that Caspar showed clear improvement in his contact and obedience; we moved on to some more advanced exercises combining shoulder-in and counter shoulder-in on curves and straight lines, with high neck and extended neck, collecting and lengthening.

The second day was slightly frustrating for me because Caspar was very distracted and tense, and we were unable to do very much, compared with the day before. Also, I was not feeling well, so I skipped the party that evening.

On the third day, I made an extra effort to help Caspar stay relaxed and focussed: early in the morning before the lesson began, I walked Caspar around the property, and played circus games with him. Then during the lunch break I took extra time to play longeing and circus games in the indoor arena with him before our lesson began. The games paid off, and Caspar gave a really good effort during the lesson, and we made more progress. We continued the exercises from the first day, and added trot-reinback transitions to our repertoire. These will be used later during piaffe training, but at this stage this is valuable for maintaining obedience and balance.
On the fourth day, Caspar and I participated in the first group lesson, which consisted of two stallions and two mares. I was again pleased with Caspar’s effort and we received many compliments. I was disappointed to have to skip the jumping lesson- it was a lot of fun- but it was unfortunately necessary since Caspar was not completely healthy.

Our homework, building upon the work from the first session: continue work in hand and flexion exercises; continue practicing the neck extension at halt/walk/trot/canter, but alternate this with high neck position with an open poll; practice changing the balance from true bend to counter-bend; frequently test Caspar’s balance and attention with the transitions and by changing between high and long neck positions; exercises should include shoulder-in, counter shoulder-in, travers and weekly gymnastic jumping.

In this session, one message emphasised by M. Karl is that a thinking trainer must ride the horse as he is on that day; it is of no use to be dogmatic in one’s approach. During the warm-up period of every lesson, the rider evaluates the horse’s suppleness, obedience, and mood, and adjusts accordingly. The rider is always training the mind of the horse first, his body second; a characteristic of horses trained in M. Karl’s method is that the horses learn very quickly, so that the riders must wait for the horses’ bodies to catch up with strength and fitness.

~Written By Sherry Leväaho

My Journey To Lightness with Philippe Karl Part II

Our training plan consisted of leadership exercises on the longe and in-hand (he described Caspar as being a dominant-type stallion); and flexions from the ground and while mounted to promote lateral and longitudinal flexibility, while keeping Caspar’s attention.

May 2011
Delta, BC, Canada

Dozens of equestrians converged upon the Adderson Family’s equestrian centre “For the Horse”, in the small town of Chase, BC to meet and learn from Philippe Karl during the first session of the École de Légèreté (School of Lightness) in North America. The evening before the session began, was a “Meet the Master” evening, at which M. Karl presented a lecture, and then answered questions from the audience and signed books.

The first instruction day, participants’ lessons were a full hour, during which M. Karl observed the students and their mounts, rode/worked in hand each horse, and diagnosed the pair’s strengths and weaknesses, setting the stage for the rest of the work during this session.

On the second and third days, 45-minute lessons were building upon the work of the first day, and included longeing techniques, work in hand and riding. The lessons on both days were followed by a two-hour lecture, during which M. Karl showed his extensive knowledge of theory, anatomy, bio-mechanics, ethology, and riding culture. (He also has some talent as an artist, and drew many illustrations and diagrams.)

The fourth day had been scheduled as jumping lessons in two groups, but M. Karl abandoned this plan, explaining that the horses and riders were insufficiently prepared. Instead, the students rode in three group lessons of three horse-rider pairs each, grouped according to the specific issues and exercises the riders were working on. These lessons were followed by another lecture, part of which was devoted to discussion of questions posed by the audience.
It was extremely interesting to see M. Karl’s method producing positive results on horses of many different types, with riders, nearly all professional, of different backgrounds. M. Karl proved himself to be an engaging, articulate speaker and never stopped teaching the rider or the audience. He was frank and direct in his correction and criticism, but he also liberally used humour, without humiliating anyone.

As for me and Caspar (Favory Fantasia III-1), M. Karl had us working on our basics. Although Caspar travelled in the trailer well enough, he is an inexperienced traveller, and the trip to a strange place, surrounded by strange horses, and being ridden in an indoor arena (with mirrors) proved to be very disturbing for him. Although he did nothing really bad, we were unable to show any of the work we have been doing at home. M. Karl pointed out that when a horse is in a stressful situation, one can see the true level of training achieved (the truth hurts!). He diagnosed Caspar’s major difficulties as a high set-on neck combined with a somewhat long back, and a lack of obedience. He speculated that Caspar might show talent for pesade.

So, our training plan consisted of leadership exercises on the longe and in-hand (he described Caspar as being a dominant-type stallion); and flexions from the ground and while mounted to promote lateral and longitudinal flexibility, while keeping Caspar’s attention. But the cornerstone exercise was the rein effect designed to provoke neck extension and lowering with an open poll, and to teach the horse to maintain a steady contact (M. Karl’s definition of “on the bit”: the horse constantly seeks to keep the reins stretched in a steady but light and lively contact, no matter the position of the rider’s hands); Caspar has a tendency to curl up behind the bit. We performed this exercise at halt, walk, trot, and canter. This was very challenging to achieve, as it demanded constant attention, balance and suppleness from me, but it was dramatically effective. Not only was it effective physically, in that it opposed all hollowing of the back, but mentally as well, as it provoked Caspar into assuming an attitude conducive to attention and obedience.
I was extremely gratified to leave this session with this technique, because I feel as though it is the piece of my training puzzle I had been seeking. It will be the key that will open all sorts of training doors for me. So, I have homework to practice before the July session: the leadership exercises on the longe and in hand; the flexions in-hand and under saddle; the neck-extension exercise at all three gaits, particularly during transitions; and shoulder-in at walk and trot in neck extension. I should keep the shoulder-in at a shallower angle and at rising trot to encourage him to stay round. (Interestingly, M. Karl was able to explain in logical detail the reasons for selecting a certain diagonal pair of legs on which to rise at the trot, and the effect it has on the horse’s balance- yet another simple yet powerful tool for training.)

M. Karl’s method is characterised by a demand that the rider/trainer be respectful of the horse’s essential nature and use non-violent training methods, eschewing all auxiliary reins and training gadgets. This requires a thinking trainer, which is able to educate his mind and hands, and influence his horse’s balance in order to teach it how to dance.

~Written By Sherry Leväaho

My Journey To Lightness with Philippe Karl Part I

Philippe Karl working with "Caspar" - a Lipizzan stallion owned by Sherry Levaaho.

February 2011
Delta, BC, Canada

This April I will take another step on my journey toward artistry in horsemanship. My partner is my Lipizzan stallion, Caspar (Favory Fantasia III-1).

My name is Sherry Leväaho, and I operate a boarding and training stable in Delta, British Columbia, Canada with my husband and trainer, Veli-Juhani Leväaho. (Our website: I have been fortunate to find a coach (who became my husband) to guide me to the world of academic horsemanship, and give me the tools to aspire to lightness. I found the horse of my dreams five years ago; I bought Caspar when I was pregnant with our first child, and started him before I became pregnant with our second. While pregnant the second time, I started playing around with circus gym, with the advice of one of Veli’s clients, Jutta Wiemers. The circus-type games have been beneficial, especially when I struggle with finding time to do everything. Caspar will be nine years old this summer, and we are growing together into a satisfying partnership.

Last summer, Veli and I learned that the French master, Philippe Karl, had agreed to conduct a Teacher’s Course of his School of Légèreté in North America, and only about six hours’ drive away! I applied, and then learned that I was one of nine applicants accepted. The course, beginning in April of 2011, consists of three four-day clinics per year, for three years, followed by examinations at the beginning of the fourth year. The course will cover the following: individual dressage training; work in hand, at the longe, and on long reins; jumping; quadrille; theory; and pedagogy.

Participants that are successful in the examinations will be awarded diplomas and the right to teach according to the School of Légèreté.

I look forward to providing updates on the course and our progress over the next three years. For more information about M. Karl, his philosophy, publications, and advocacy, visit his website at For more information about the North American Teacher’s Course, visit

~Written By Sherry Leväaho

To de-worm or not de-worm…..

We recommend a combination of deworming with the most effective products available and testing manure for presence of parasite eggs.

There is a lot of information out there about which dewormer to use, which to stay away from or whether to deworm at all. Would a ‘natural’ dewormer such as diatomaceous earth do as well? Is natural better? I recall from wildlife medicine that the main disease problem of wildlife is parasitism. Do we want that for our fourlegged friends by going ‘natural’. Predation is also natural and I doubt anyone would accept that fate for their horse. Worms can and do cause serious, even fatal disease in horses.

We recommend a combination of deworming with the most effective products available and testing manure for presence of parasite eggs.Worms can develop a resistance to one de-wormer if it is given all of the time or if you underdose the horse. Traditionally we have done this by rotating de-wormers. Ask us about a rotation schedule.

Better yet, doing fecal exams to look for worm eggs in manure samples is the best way to tell if your program is working. Testing for worm eggs will also detect the horses that harbour the most worms and shed the most eggs. Often this may only be one or two in a herd. Deworming these more often and the others less often is a viable way to cut your costs and slow down development of resistance.

Worms thrive in moist, warm environments and are more active reproductively at this time of year so you must get serious about de-worming all of your horses in the spring and summer.

If your horse absolutely hates being de-wormed, take an old syringe, wash it out and fill it with something yummy like applesauce or molasses and water. Squirt this in your horse’s mouth every once in a while. Soon, he might not mind being de-wormed so much.

If you haven’t de-wormed your horse in a while, cut down on his hard feed (pellets, sweet feed) the day before, the day of and the day after his de-worming. The de-wormer may kill a lot of worms which could get stuck in his intestines. You don’t want large quantities of digested feed getting stuck behind the worm blockage because this causes colic.

When you use a paste de-wormer, put the syringe in the corner of your horse’s mouth and aim for the back of his tongue. Squirt the paste in one quick motion, making sure that your horse’s mouth is empty before administering. After squirting the de-wormer paste into your horse’s mouth, hold his head up for a moment to make sure he doesn’t spit it right out!

Horse de-wormer can make a dog really sick, so make sure you clean up any spilt paste and throw syringes away after they are used.

Learn to Recognize your Horse’s Dental Problems

Mature horses should get a thorough dental exam at least once a year, and horses 2 -5 years old should be examined twice yearly.

Horses with dental problems may show obvious signs, such as pain or irritation, or they may show no noticeable signs at all. This is because some horses simply adapt to their discomfort. For this reason, periodic dental examinations are essential to your horse’s health.

It is important to catch dental problems early. If a horse starts behaving abnormally, dental problems should be considered as a potential cause. Waiting too long may increase the difficulty of remedying certain conditions or may even make remedy impossible. Look for the following indicators of dental problems from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to know when to seek veterinary attention for your horse:

Loss of feed from mouth while eating, difficulty with chewing, or excessive salivation.
Loss of body condition.
Large or undigested feed particles (long stems or whole grain) in manure.
Head tilting or tossing, bit chewing, tongue lolling, fighting the bit, or resisting bridling.
Poor performance, such as lugging on the bridle, failing to turn or stop, even bucking.
Foul odor from mouth or nostrils, or traces of blood from the mouth.
Nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw or mouth tissues.

Oral exams should be an essential part of an annual physical examination by a veterinarian. Every dental exam provides the opportunity to perform routine preventative dental maintenance. Mature horses should get a thorough dental exam at least once a year, and horses 2 -5 years old should be examined twice yearly.

Equine Influenza

It is that time of year, when kids are back at school and they quickly bring you home the flu bug. Well, its seems no different this year with our equine friends. There have been a few cases of the flu out there, horses with temps, snots & coughs but like most flu’s, it is usually viral and has to run its course. Giving meds to control the temperature is about the best thing you can do to keep them comfortable. Also keeping the flu victim away from others, just as in all disease outbreak situations, is not only logical but responsible.
Flu hits horses the same as with humans, the very young and old seem to get hit the hardest as well as those that are not up to date on their vaccines.

Those horses that are vaccinated regularly may still get a mild case of the flu in an outbreak compared to those that are not.
If your horse is so far in the clear, administering a booster shot of Flu/Rhino would be a good thing!

FAQ’s regarding Equine Influenza

1. Is my horse protected? Having the Flu/Rhino vacciantion administered at a minimun of every 6 months should help keep it away but like all Flu’s, there continues to be new strains.
2. How contagious is the Flu? Horses that are exposed to others that are affected with influenza are fairly likely to come down with the flu themselves if they have not been properly vaccinated. Even secondary exposure via unaffected horses that have been exposed to horses with the flu can result in disease in unprotected horses.
3. Should I stay away from all events/competitions? No, go have fun but take some precautions. Vaccinate horses that are out with others, and minimize exposure to other horses at the show. Don’t share buckets, stalls, grooming equipment etc. Use common sense.
4. As a barn owner, how strict should I be with the movement of horses in and out of my barn? Requiring vaccination for horses coming in or leaving to shows etc would be a good first step. Quarantine of new horses for a couple of weeks is also prudent. Keeping the frequent travellers apart from the others as much as possible can also help to minimize transmission of viruses to other horses.

Planning for the wet season ahead!

Nothing worse than not being prepared for the change of season, gone are those lovely long days of summer and into the dreary days of winter…yes, already!

Time to clean the winter blankets and treat them, Thompson’s Water Deck Seal works best (the ‘water based’ one and spray on with a squirt bottle!). May have to repair that rain sheet also before you know, it will be needed!

Repair stalls from those nasty drafts that develope over time and get some good drainage rock where the ground gets too mucky during the rainy season (that’s all the time here!).

Hopefully you were able to stock up a bit on the local hay that actually came off the fields this year, finding it during the winter is always a drag….and expensive!

~Hermen Geertsema Equine Services Inc.
‘Striving for excellence in veterinary care’

The Pre-purchase Exam and Vet Certificate

If you are considering buying horse, it cannot be emphasized too strongly that you should have it examined by a veterinarian.

If you are considering buying horse, it cannot be emphasized too strongly that you should have it examined by a veterinarian and you should not complete the purchase until you have the certificate indicating the result of the examination. This serves to identify any preexisting problems which may hinder the horse’s future performance and reduce buyer risk.

A buyer may not consider this necessary when the seller can produce a recent certificate of such an examination, but nevertheless the best plan is to obtain an independent opinion because the horse may not have shown symptoms of a serious defect previously.

Should the buyer wish to have the horse on trial, they must remember that nothing must be done to the horse such as removing the mane or replacing the shoes (even if those the horse is wearing require removal) until they have made up their mind whether to retain or return, because should they do so, it constitutes “purchase” and legally the seller is entitled to refuse return.

The buyer must understand that, from the stand point of the veterinarian, the horse can only be classified as suitable or unsuitable for purchase. The veterinary certificate will list the defects detected in the horse and will offer an opinion on the significance of the fault in relation to the purpose for which the horse is to be used. i.e. racing, dressage, jumping, or breeding.

Very often a prospective buyer may have noticed a particular vice and they should always mention this to the veterinarian because some vices or habits are not always visible at the time of the pre-purchase exam. You should also remember that a vet certificate does not indicate freedom from a vice. Nevertheless, the seller is under obligation to disclose to the buyer any vice or bad habit that is within his knowledge as failure to do so can nullify the transaction and horse can be returned.

Traditionally the maxim caveat emptor has been the rule of the law and a party who has bought a defective horse has no remedy, unless there is evidence either of express warranty or of fraud. In the general sale of a horse the stellar only warrants it to be an animal of the description it appears to be and nothing more; if the purchaser makes no inquiries to its qualities and turns out to be unfit for its use, he cannot recover against the seller. Veterinarians are expected to explain and record any medical abnormalities/concerns revealed while performing the exam but they are not, however, guaranteeing the soundness of the horse.

Equine Splints

To help protect your horse from knocking himself while riding and popping a splint, invest in a good pair of splint boots.

If you own horses, at one time or another you have probably had to deal with splints. Splints are the bony looking growth causing a bump or blemish on your horse’s leg. Splints can form on any leg but most commonly occur on the front legs as they bare the bulk of the horse’s weight. At first they can be warm, tender and painful, but usually after a period of rest they cool down, harden up, and the horse can go back to work.

The term splint is the colloquial name for a bony enlargement of one of the small metacarpal or metatarsal bones. A splint may develop for a variety of reasons. In the young horse it most frequently occurs as a sequel to the slight tearing of the interosseous ligament between the splint bone and cannon bone. This also results in lifting of the periosteum to which the interosseous is attached. The damage to the interosseous ligament occurs because of relative movements between the splint and cannon bones. Thus there is inflammation of the interosseous ligament and the periosteum causing pain and soft tissue swelling. Some calcification occurs and new bone is produced beneath the elevated periosteum, and ultimately a firmer union between the splint bone and cannon bone develops. Poor conformation such as bench knees and improper trimming of the foot resulting in the foot being placed unevenly to the ground rather then flatly, predispose to the development of splints. Incorrect proportions of calcium and phosphorous in the diet favor inflammation of splints. A splint may also develop as a sequel to trauma to the bone such as a kick. If the horse moves very closely the damage may be self inflicted, the narrow chested horse which toes-in being particularly prone. Trauma to the bone results in heamorrhage beneath the periosteum, lifting it away from the bone surface. This stimulates new bone production. There will also be soft tissue inflammation. As mentioned above, although splints occur in both front and hind limbs, the incidence in front limbs is much higher.

Treatment of splints:

For treatment, the aim is to reduce inflammation and thus relieve any pain. Rest is essential, confined turn out and even stall rest may be necessary. Anti infamatory drugs such as bute may be administered by mouth, or at the site of the splint. Corticosteriods may be injected around the splint or DMSO may be applied to the overlaying skin and will be absorbed through it. Whether or not anti-inflammatory drugs are used, the horse must be given enough time and this usually implies six weeks rest, sometimes longer is necessary. If the horse returns to work too early, the chances of re-aggravating the problem is high. Once the acute inflammation has subsided, the ultimate size of the swelling will depend on how much new bone has been produced. The new bone tends to remodel and will eventually decrease in size. One must remember that the visual swelling is not just bony. There is overlaying fibrous tissue which contributes to the size of the swelling. Some horses seem more prone to production of excessive amounts of new bone and occasionally the splint may interfere with the normal function of the suspensory ligament. In these circumstances surgical removal of the splint may be necessary.

To protect your horse from knocking himself while riding and popping a splint, invest in a good pair of splint boots. At the end of the day, splints don’t typically ever go away but they do get smaller. They usually don’t affect the overall soundness of a horse and are considered more of a “blemish” then an unsoundness.