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Lisa Whinfrey

Author's Posts:
12 Things You Should Do If Your Horse Gets Strangles

12 Steps For Managing Strangles At Your Barn

by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the fifth in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook.

We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

Read Pt. 1: What Is Strangles? 

Read Pt. 2: What is the Guttural Pouch?

Read Pt. 3: Strangles Carriers

Read Pt 4: 10 Ways to Prevent Strangles

Let’s make a plan.

Imagine this: One morning, you head out to feed your horses. You notice that your gelding is acting dumpy and has a snotty nose. You bring him in from the field, take his temperature, and see that he has a fever of 103.5…now what?

1: Get your sick horse away from the other horses

If you own horses or have a boarding stable, you need to have a spot where you can quarantine a sick horse.

A bit of prior planning for isolation will make your life much easier. Setting up panels or an electric fence once you already have a sick horse is never any fun.

How elaborate your isolation set up is will depend greatly on the size and nature of your farm or facility. You should work with your vet to establish a reasonable isolation plan before an emergency arises.

2: Find out if it’s really Strangles.

Work with your vet to get an accurate diagnosis of your sick horse.

Related: Learn how your vet can test for Strangles.

Why is testing important?

The clinical signs of many respiratory diseases can look very similar to Strangles. Advanced tests, called PCR panels, allow vets to tell the difference between many respiratory diseases and Strangles. However, you won’t be able to make these distinctions from home.

Knowing what disease you are dealing with will help you and your vet make a plan for appropriate isolation, biosecurity, vaccination, and treatment.

It’s also important to remember that different diseases will be easier to pick up at different stages of infection.

In short: even if your horse has Strangles, his snot won’t have any bacteria in it until the lymph nodes start rupturing. But, because it’s possible he could have something other than Strangles, you should still get him tested right away!

Respiratory viruses, including EHV 1 and EHV 4, are more likely to be present in nasal secretions early in the course of the disease. This means that prompt collection of samples is important.

However, due to the behavior of the Strep. equi organism, sometimes testing early will result in negative results for Strangles even though the horse is actually infected.

The bacteria does not colonize the surfaces of the respiratory tract. Instead, it invades the lymph nodes within 3 hours of infection. This makes it undetectable by washes or swabs until the lymph nodes actually rupture and drain, which can occur 4-21 days after infection.

This means that you need to be patient in establishing a diagnosis. Even if the first test is negative, it may be necessary to test again at a later date.

3: Separate your horses by risk group.

You should segregate your horses into three different risk groups:

  • Infected
  • Exposed
  • Unexposed.

The three groups need to be separated where they cannot have nose-to-nose contact. Two layers of electric fencing can be used to create a separation wide enough to prevent physical contact.

Note: keeping horses in small groups separated by use before an outbreak occurs is a very good husbandry practice. Keep mares and foals separated from horses that regularly travel and show. Keep horses that only come in for the day physically separated from resident horses.

If all of your horses live together in one large group, all of those horses will automatically be considered exposed once one horse gets sick, greatly increasing the potential cost of an outbreak. Not good.

4: Check for fever…often.

Begin checking the temperatures of the horses in the exposed and unexposed groups twice a day to monitor for new cases. A horse’s normal temperature is between 99 and 101 F.

Any horses with temperatures of 101 F or more should be moved into the infected group.

5: Sterilize…especially your water buckets.

Strep. equi does not survive well in sunlight and dry conditions, but it can last 30 days in water troughs. Clean and disinfect water troughs and buckets daily to limit transmission.

Never ever dip the hose end into the water trough while filling. This is an excellent way to transport the bacteria.

Remember that bleach only works well on non-porous materials, like plastic. It is inactivated by organic material, so be sure to pre-wash any buckets you plan to sterilize with bleach.

6: Delegate someone to care for only sick horses.

If possible, have one person handle the care of the horses in the infected group. This person should not go to the other groups at all.

If that just won’t work at your place, feed and care for the horse in the unexposed group first. Next, care for the exposed group, saving the infected for last.

Wear gloves, gowns, and boots when handling infected horses. This will keep your clothes from becoming contaminated and possibly transmitting disease to the other groups.

7: Give sick horses their own stuff.

Try to have designated feed carts, muck buckets, and other similar items for each group of horses. Contaminated objects, called fomites, can easily transport the bacteria between groups.

If this is not possible, make sure you start with the unexposed group first, then exposed, then sick.

Clean and disinfect all equipment before you take it back to the unexposed group.

Try to have a separate trailer for hauling sick horses. Don’t put any exposed or unexposed horses into a trailer that has been used to haul sick horses without thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting it first.

8. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

No horses from the sick or exposed group should be allowed to go back with the unexposed group until they have been appropriately tested to determine if they are carriers.

9. Make sure everyone knows the plan

Biosecurity plans are different for every farm. These tips are a few of the most important concepts. A great plan requires an on-site evaluation of the facility and complete compliance with all the people at your barn.

Once you have a plan in place, be sure to have a meeting to make sure everyone knows how you plan to manage biosecurity in the event of an outbreak. This can prevent a person with good intentions from accidentally undoing all your hard work at isolation.

10. Remember how biosecurity can help you.

Biosecurity is not fun. It creates a lot of extra work for the short term. However, it can greatly reduce the impact Strangles can have on your barn.

Just to put it in perspective, imagine if your careful attention to biosecurity made it so only 20% of your herd of 100 horses became exposed. Not only would this save you money on treatment, it would decrease the expense of testing horses to determine carrier status by 80% versus if you decide to just turn all the horses out together and let the disease run its course.

Testing of carriers costs in the neighborhood of $200-300 dollars per horse. This means you would be saving up to $24,000 in testing alone. That savings certainly makes biosecurity a good return on the investment of your time and effort.

11. Don’t forget: this isn’t just about money or inconvenience.

Strangles can be a very serious disease with life threatening consequences, like internal abscesses. It should definitely be taken seriously.

Good biosecurity can prevent a lot of suffering in your horses–or even death.

Because carriers can shed bacteria for years, your horse could seem completely fine and still infect other horses.

12. Gather your supplies.

Good biosecurity is easier to accomplish if you have your barn stocked with everything you need ahead of time. Consider spending a little time and money getting all the supplies together before a horse in your barn gets sick. Most of what you’ll need is available on Amazon, so you don’t even have to go to the store!





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

FTC Disclosure: The Sale Horse, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means we get a small commission if you buy through our Amazon store or by following our links and making a purchase.

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID

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January 4, 2017 / by / in ,
Practical Gifts – Reined Cowhorse

A Practical Guide to Shopping for the Reined Cowhorse Person in Your Life

We rounded up these must-have gifts for the Cowhorse person in your life. Nothing cutesty or decorative here…your NRCHA enthusiast will put these right to work!

The best part is they’re all available on Amazon. No need to even put on pants! Shopping…done.

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Show Bag Essentials

1. Show Bag Emergency Kit

Put a show bag together with essentials and lifesavers.

  • Grooming bag from Classic Equine
  • Grooming kit
  • Scissors, just in case!
  • Box of jumbo safety pins for last minute show number re-fastening
  • Electrical tape for errant polo wrap velcro
  • White rags for dust removal
  • Show Sheen
  • And the essential…Pepi Spray

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Make Travel Easier

2. Make Travel A Little Better

Anyone that goes to a lot of shows will appreciate everything on this list.

  • Hay bag for long trailer rides
  • Extra buckets. You can’t have too many!
  • Expandable hose. This one is extra heavy duty and comes with a shutoff
  • Sprayer
  • Leather Punch for emergency repairs
  • Extra extension cords are always useful.
  • Box Fan. Even in winter, these can be handy for drying hairy horses with coolers on.
  • Box Fan Hanger. Skip the ugly twine string.

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Futurity Colt Starter Kit

3. The Futurity Prospect

Did your cowhorse friend buy a yearling this year? Here’s a starter kit.

  • Jeremiah Watt Snaffle. These bits feel really good for training, and they look nice enough to show in.
  • Working headstall with good brass hardware
  • Double stitched split reins
  • Rope halter
  • Neoprene cinch – easy to sterilize after the inevitable two year old girth itch, comes in short lengths, and the roller buckle helps cinch up smoother for goosey colts.
  • SMx Air Ride pads are perfect for young horses because of their weight and thickness
  • Tie Rings are great for safely teaching colts to stand tied
  • Colt flags come in handy for starting colts and moving cows

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - For the Bridle Horse

4. The Bridle Horse

Special gifts for special horses.

  • Everyone loves a pretty bridle bit.
  • Show legal chin straps have a way of disappearing–stock your cowhorse friend up!
  • Wool show blankets are always a winner
  • Skid boots
  • Sport Medicine Boots. Even if your friend doesn’t always use them, they’re great to have as a backup
  • A pretty one ear headstall for show, like this one from Martin
  • A set of work romals to help fancy rawhide ones last longer
  • This handsome mohair cinch

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - The Performance Horse Vet Box

5. The Performance Horse Vet Box

Give the gift of preparedness with a vet box full of essentials for show horses. Here’s a few ideas–feel free to fill it up with your favorites!

  • tackle box is the perfect place to store all your doctoring supplies
  • Vet Wrap is great for all kinds of things–not just injuries
  • An ice boot might not fit in the tackle box, but it’s easier to use than ice packs and very effective for cooling swollen legs.
  • Rolls of gauze and Elastikon
  • Betadine
  • Tubes of electrolyte paste for dehydrated, overworked, or heat exhausted horses
  • Duct tape for hoof packs
  • Magnapaste for helping to draw out abcesses

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - A Year Round Wardrobe

6. A Whole New Wardrobe

Show horses need a lot of accessories. Get a year-round wardrobe for the cowhorse in your life.

  • Heavy winter blanket – These blankets from Country Pride are a bargain. Super warm and really tough!
  • A waterproof turnout sheet is good for warmer days or even layering with a heavy blanket.
  • For the real cold times, get a detachable neck warmer to keep slick show horses from shivering
  • Sleazys come in every ridiculous amazing color and pattern you can think of. They’re nice for slicking down any fuzzy winter hair.
  • Tail bags keep tails nice at shows or during the winter when it’s hard to wash them
  • Coolers wick moisture away from sweaty horses and keep them from getting chilled.
  • fly sheet is nice for summer if you live somewhere with bad bugs. Choose one with UV protection to keep show horses from bleaching out
  • fly mask is a good thing to have around year-round. It can keep dust and debris out of healing eye injuries.

FTC Disclosure: The Sale Horse, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means we get a small commission if you buy through our Amazon store or by following our links and making a purchase.





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

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Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - A Performance Horse Vet Box
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - The Futurity Colt Starter Kit
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Show Travel Essentials
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Show Bag Essentials
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - For the Bridle Horse
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - A Year Round Wardrobe
December 14, 2016 / by / in ,
10 Tips for Preventing Strangles

10 Tips to Help Prevent Strangles

by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the fourth in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook.

We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

Read Pt. 1: What Is Strangles? 

Read Pt. 2: What is the Guttural Pouch?

Read Pt. 3: Strangles Carriers

How to prevent strangles
Glamorous!!

How to prevent strangles
NOT glamorous!

How to Derail a Dinner Party

Biosecurity. It sounds like the name of a mediocre Sci-Fi crime fiction thriller. It is not a glamorous topic. Bringing it up might even stop a pleasant conversation dead in its tracks. 

However, it may be the most important topic of all when it comes to Strangles.

The point of biosecurity is not to eliminate all possible exposure of a horse to Strangles. If you actually want to use and enjoy your horse, that’s going to be pretty much impossible.

Biosecurity is more about recognizing how Strep. equi behaves, how it is transmitted, and how it is killed so that you can utilize common sense strategies to decrease your chance of exposure.

How to prevent Strangles - Make sure to leave a gap between pens so horses can't touch noses

1: No Play Dates

If your horse is showing signs of illness, isolate them from your other horses and work with your vet to get an accurate diagnosis.

Do not haul them or expose them to other horses if you suspect that they are sick–even if you think it’s just a cold. Remember, nearly 80% of horses with Strangles don’t get an abscess under their jaw. More than 25% don’t even get a fever!

2: Less Mingling

When hauling: if you are only at a location for the day, leave your horses at your trailer or keep them with you.

Even if there’s no visible sick horses around and yours are healthy as…well…a horse, do not use common tie rails or put them in an area where they will have nose to nose contact with other horses. At least 1 in 10 horses that gets Strangles will remain a carrier without treatment. These horses usually won’t have any visible signs that they’re contagious.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money

If possible, leave your horse at your trailer when hauling instead of tying to shared rails.

3: BYOB

Bring your own buckets. If you don’t have your own with you, wash any bucket you use with soap and water at a minimum. You can also soak them in dilute bleach…which brings us to a little known fact:

4: Bleach has a secret weakness

One important thing to remember about bleach: it is very quickly inactivated by any organic material. This means wood, leather, poop, mucous, and more.

If you are using bleach to sterilize, make sure to pre-wash first so you get any residue out of the way. Don’t forget that bleach will only work well on nonporous materials like plastic.

How to prevent Strangles - Water buckets are a common source of bacteria
NOPE: The end of the hose can be contaminated, so don't stick it in the water while filling buckets.

How to prevent Strangles - Water buckets are a common source of bacteria
YES: Hold the hose above the bucket while filling.

5: While we’re talking about water buckets,

The end of the water hose can become contaminated if it is dunked into a bucket while filling. Make sure you hold it above the water while you are filling your buckets. This is a good idea at home, but extra important when travelling or showing.
Strangles Biohazards

6: Sharing isn’t always caring

Bring your own grooming equipment and tack. Do not swap equipment between horses. Contaminated bits are a very effective way to transmit bacteria.

Remember fomites?

How to prevent strangles - avoid petting horses other than your own

7: This is no petting zoo

As tempting as it is to pet other horses, avoid it. If they rub their nose on you, you may carry bacteria back to your own horse.

Try to prevent other people from petting your horse as well.





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Separate horses by use. For example, horses that have been hauled to shows should not be able to touch noses with mares and babies.

8: Divide and conquer

Separating horses that travel and show regularly from the stay-at-home types in your herd can really limit the number of exposed horses should someone accidentally pick up something at an event.

Separation must extend beyond a fence line to prevent nose to nose contact.

9: Take a test

Make sure Typhoid Mary didn’t wind up in your trailer by testing any new horses that will be entering your herd. This is a very effective way to prevent your new horse from infecting the others.

A PCR test from a guttural pouch flush is the most effective way to find out if a horse is carrying Strangles.

In addition to testing for Strangles, new horses should be isolated for at least 2 weeks to limit transmission of other contagious diseases, such as EHV and influenza.

Strangles Carrier - Mary Mallon spread Typhoid to more than 50 people in the early 1900s.
Strangles carrier- Having a new horse tested for Strangles before introducing him to your herd could save you a LOT of trouble long term.
Having a new horse tested for Strangles before introducing him to your herd could save you a LOT of trouble long term.

10: Seriously, take a test

If you have had Strangles in your herd, please test your horses to see if they are carriers. You might be saving your friends and fellow competitors from a similar heartache.

Strangles is a disease which requires that we all be responsible owners.

It could conceivably be eradicated if we all worked together to find and eliminate carrier infections.

Hey, you didn’t mention vaccinations!

Vaccination for Strangles is a big and somewhat controversial topic. Don’t worry–we’ll cover it in a later post! Remember, vaccination does not ever preclude the need for biosecurity.

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID

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December 12, 2016 / by / in ,
What is a Strangles Carrier?

Why Some Horse Facilities Get Strangles Year After Year After Year…

by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the third in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook.

We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

Read Pt. 1: What Is Strangles? Here

Read Pt. 2: What is the Guttural Pouch? Here

Have you ever heard of Mary Mallon?

No? Not much into studying human disease?

How about Typhoid Mary?

Mary Mallon, more commonly known as Typhoid Mary, became famous for being the first subclinical carrier of Salmonella typhi in the United States. A subclinical carrier shows no outward signs or symptoms of a disease, but is able to spread it and infect others.

In the early 1900s, 51 cases of typhoid fever resulted in three deaths. All these cases were directly attributed to her.

The story of Typhoid Mary is significant to horse owners because Strangles, like Typhoid, is a disease that is maintained by subclinical carriers.

Strangles Carrier - Mary Mallon spread Typhoid to more than 50 people in the early 1900s.
Strangles Carrier - unlike Ebola, Strangles doesn't have a host species
Ebolaviruses are thought to be maintained in bat populations.

Strangles carrier - unlike Anthrax, strangles cannot survive in the ground
Anthrax bacteria (shown here) can survive in the soil for decades.

Strep. equi, the bacteria that causes Strangles, can’t survive for long periods of time in the environment like Anthrax can.

It is not maintained and spread by a different species, like Ebola.

Instead, it survives in these Typhoid Mary horses–called subclinical carriers, or shedders.

The best strategy to decrease spread of Strangles is to be diligent about identifying these carrier horses. We have ways to treat them and stop them from being carriers.

Poor Typhoid Mary did not have this option and was eventually forced to live out her life in seclusion on North Brother Island off the coast of New York.

Strangles Carrier - Mary Mallon spread Typhoid to more than 50 people in the early 1900s.

What defines a carrier?

A 2015 study by Dr Lauren Duffee defines a Strangles carrier as a horse that tests positive for the disease more the 40 days after the original diagnosis.

Related: Read more about this study in Part 2

Related: Read the full study in the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine (JAVMA)

How many horses become carriers?

Different studies have different ranges of horses that become carriers after a Strangles infection. Most papers have a 10-20% incidence rate, however, Dr. Duffee’s 2015 study showed as many as 40% of horses classified as carriers.

Note: Dr. Duffee and her team were only able to test 57% of the horses in their study that were initially infected. It’s possible this may have skewed the results.

Regardless of the figure you use, carriers are very common.

Strangles Carrier - just like Typhoid in humans, Strangles can survive in equine populations through subclinical carriers
If 10 horses get Strangles, as many as 4 of them are likely to be carriers.

If you have 10 horses in your herd and you get a Strangles outbreak, you can expect that at least one, and as many as 4 of those horses will still be shedding contagious Strep. equi bacteria long after all the horses have recovered and appear completely normal. This means that they may be able to infect other horses.

One report averages the amount of time a horse sheds bacteria at about 4.5 months. However, some horses can shed for years.

If carriers don’t show any signs of illness, how do we find them?

Classically, vets used cultures to identify horses that were shedding the bacteria. This means that the actual bacteria were grown on a special plate. To culture a bacteria in this way, you need a fairly high concentration of the organism in your sample. This means it can miss a lot of horses that are actually still carriers.

The most current way to test utilizes PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to detect DNA from the bacteria. PCR is much more sensitive than culture and will be positive with fewer numbers of bacteria present.

Strangles carrier- A PCR test is much more effective than a culture
An example of the machine used for PCR tests.

How do you collect a sample?

The three ways samples are commonly collected are:

Swab

Ever had that big Q-tip rubbed on the back of your throat at the doctor’s office? It’s pretty much just like that.

Nasopharyngeal Wash

A fancy way to say pouring sterile saline into the back of a horse’s throat and then collecting it as it runs back out their nose.

Guttural Pouch Wash

An endoscope is used to flush out the pouches located deep in the throatlatch of a horse.

Strangles carrier-The swab method isn't that effective for finding Strangles in horses with subclinical infections.
The swab method isn't that effective for finding Strangles in horses with subclinical infections.

Which collection method is best?

At Idaho Equine Hospital, the guttural pouch wash is our preferred method of collection.

Using the endoscope ensures a good sample is obtained. It also allows us to see the guttural pouch at the same time. We can then look for evidence of pus or chondroids in the pouch. Many, but not all, carrier horses will have these.

If these problems are identified, we can immediately begin treatment of the pouch. This can include flushing, removal of chondroids, and often putting antibiotics directly into the guttural pouch.





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Is scoping really necessary?

Any horse that tests positive, no matter what sample collection was used, will need endoscopy to check for chondroids. No amount of antibiotics will fix chondroids. They must be flushed out or surgically removed.

Using the endoscope as the first step of testing can eliminate extra steps. Waiting on test results and scheduling a separate appointment for endoscopy prolongs the time it takes to clear the horse of the infection.

Guttual pouch - an endoscopy procedure is used to see down a horse's throat
Dr. Shane Smith performs an endoscopy at Idaho Equine Hospital

Strangles Carrier - an image from an endoscopy of the guttural pouch showing a single chondroid
An image from an endoscopy of the guttural pouch showing a single chondroid.

Other advantages to the endoscopy

Swabs of the horse’s nose and throat have also been shown to have lower sensitivity than wash samples.

To determine that a horse is definitively negative by swabs, three separate samples are recommended.

We find that the expense of three farm or office visits, plus three culture and PCR tests typically costs more than sampling with endoscopy does.

I’ve had a Strangles outbreak…now what?

Unfortunately, to truly ensure that there are no carriers in your herd, all of the exposed horses need to be tested. Remember, at least 10% of horses become carriers. Depending on the size of your herd, this can be a very expensive and logistically challenging proposition.

Clearing a herd of strangles obviously requires close work with your veterinarian.

Being sure Strangles is gone from your entire herd can be costly–but very necessary!

The importance of biosecurity

The expense of having an entire herd tested for Strangles highlights the importance of biosecurity.

Limiting the number of horses that are exposed to Strep. equi during an outbreak can be done through isolation of affected horses. Separation of exposed and non-exposed horses is also very important. Taking these measure can help lessen the economic impact of a Strangles outbreak on your farm.

Strangles carrier- Having a new horse tested for Strangles before introducing him to your herd could save you a LOT of trouble long term.
Having a new horse tested for Strangles before introducing him to your herd could save you a LOT of trouble long term.

An underused way to help prevent Strangles

Testing for carriers of strangles is widely underused as a preventative measure.

Identifying carrier horses before they enter a herd may not be the most enjoyable way to spend your dollars. But, think of it this way: if you prevent an outbreak, you could be saving yourself far more than the cost of the test. 

It’s sure something to consider if you are buying a new horse…

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID

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Learn how a Strangles carrier can be an infection risk for years and what you can do to prevent it.
November 29, 2016 / by / in ,
Shopping for Cowhorse/Rope Horse Crossovers

Really broke horses make the best rope horses…

by Lisa Whinfrey


Trainer Luke Jones shows horses in the Cowhorse, as well as the highly competitive AQHA roping events. He made the 2016 AQHA World Championship Finals in all of the roping classes, as well the Cowhorse, Cutting, and Ranch Riding.

Many of Luke’s rope horses are also shown in the Cowhorse events. His unique crossover program helps keep his cowhorses fresh and his rope horses broke. We talked to him about the kind of horses he looks for to succeed in multiple events, and why he thinks a strong foundation is the most important part of any program.

Bowmans Metallic Cat in four events at the 2016 AQHA World Show

What’s the number one thing you’re looking for in a cowhorse/rope horse crossover?

Luke Jones: I look for a horse that’s pretty good sized with big bone. Size really does play a role in succeeding in the crossover.

Smaller horses just don’t hold up very well. I think it’s a lot harder for them physically. I’ve found that when something is physically difficult for a horse, it becomes mentally difficult as well. They start dreading their job because they’re struggling with it. 

The same thing applies to a big, unbalanced horse. If they’re too big, especially if they have a big shoulder, they’re going to have a hard time in the cowhorse.

How to shop for a cowhorse/rope horse crossover: trainer Luke Jones shares what he's looking for when training horses that can succeed in multiple events.

When it comes to conformation, what’s most important?

Luke Jones: If I’m looking at a horse to show in the Reined Cowhorse and in the back of my mind hoping to do the roping later on, it’s extremely important to me that a horse has a really good neck.

I’m going to look at their overall balance and conformation, but I think a good neck really helps a lot in the training process. If they’re made the right way, you don’t have to fight to make them into something they’re not capable of.

How to shop for a cowhorse/rope horse crossover: trainer Luke Jones shares what he's looking for when training horses that can succeed in multiple events.

Do bloodlines matter?

Luke Jones: Good bloodlines aren’t a guarantee of top performance, but they’re sure a great place to start. This is especially true if you’re wanting to show in the cowhorse too.

At what point in your training process can you tell that a horse is going to be a good crossover prospect?

Luke Jones: Pretty early. Usually, I’ve got a pretty good idea during their three year old year.

Does it help or hurt your Reined Cowhorses to start roping on them?

Luke Jones: I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. I think it keeps my horses a little fresher. I’m not just grinding day and day out on the reining or the cutting.

I think they enjoy it. Horses like having something different different to do.

Adding the roping to the training program helps keep the horse progressing and gives them something else to think about

How to shop for a cowhorse/rope horse crossover: trainer Luke Jones shares what he's looking for when training horses that can succeed in multiple events.

Why buy a horse with cowhorse training if you’re just going to rope?

Luke Jones: A horse that’s been through the cowhorse is going to be really broke through his body and his face. The roping part is easy–if the horse is really broke already.

If you have a horse that isn’t really handling or riding around very well and try to make him into a rope horse before he’s actually broke, it’s really hard to fix him if he falls apart.

A really well-trained horse, like a cowhorse, is so broke you can just put his body wherever you want it. You can use that foundation to fix any issues that arise later. You’ve got a foundation to fall back on.





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

About Luke Jones

Luke lives and trains in Allerton, IA with his wife Erin and their sons: Will, Cort, and Lane. Luke trains cowhorses for NRCHA and AQHA events, as well as show rope horses. His accomplishments include several AQHA Reserve World Championships, many AQHA World Show Finalists in a wide range of events, 2013 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Finalist, and many more.

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cowhorses rope horses for sale
November 23, 2016 / by / in , ,
What is the Guttural Pouch?

How Strangles Can Hide Inside Your Horse

 by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the second in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook.

We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

Read Pt. 1: What Is Strangles? Here

What is…?

On mobile: tap to see definitions!

CHONDROIDS

Dried balls of pus in the guttural pouch.

TRACHEOSTOMY

A surgical incision in the windpipe made to insert a breathing tube.

GUTTURAL POUCH

An air chamber in the neck just behind the skull and below the ears.

DYSPHAGIA

Difficulty swallowing.

ENDOSCOPE

A long, flexible camera used to see inside a horse’s throat.

INSPISSATED

Thickened or congealed, dried up.

You think you know the signs of Strangles…

Horses infected with Strangles (Strep. equi) always have snotty noses, a high fever, and swollen lymph nodes under their jaw, right?

Not so much.

A 2015 study published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) found that many horses involved in outbreaks will not manifest all of the classic signs even though they are infected.

In the study:

  • only 72% of infected horses had a fever
  • only 62% had the classic snotty nose: nasal discharge containing pus and mucous
  • only 22% had external abscesses under their jaw

To put that in perspective…

…if Strangles was only diagnosed if a horse had external lymph node abscesses, you would misdiagnose nearly 80% of the horses that were actually infected.

So, while abscessed lymph nodes are strongly suggestive of Strangles, the absence of them is not a very accurate way to rule out the disease.

Related: Read the full JAVMA study

Guttural pouch - this foal shows the classic swelling in the submandibular lymph nodes
A recent study shows that less than 25% of horses infected with Strep. equi had abscesses under the jaw. This foal shows the classic swelling.

If not under the jaw, then where?

We learned in Part One of this series that Strep. equi causes abscesses in the lymph nodes. Just because a horse doesn’t have a visible abscess under its jaw doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an abscess somewhere.

Let’s head between the ear and the throatlatch to find the guttural pouch.

Guttural Pouch Anatomy
The Eustachian tube runs from a horse’s ear to its throat. The guttural pouch is an outpouching of this tube. Several vitally important structures run through it, including the nerves that control a horse’s ability to swallow.

Immediately beneath the pouches lie the retropharyngeal lymph nodes. These lymph nodes commonly become abscessed when a horse is infected with Strangles.

This is significant because these lymph nodes are located deep within the tissue of the throatlatch. This can mean the swelling and abscesses may not be detectable externally. At Idaho Equine Hospital, we’ve seen many cases where these are the only lymph nodes that abscess.

Thus, a horse can have strangles and not have any swelling or abscessed lymph nodes under their jaw!

Get Smarter About Buying and Selling Horses

Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

What happens with these internal abscesses?

Abscesses in the retropharyngeal lymph nodes will break and drain pus and lots of bacteria, just like abscesses in the lymph nodes under the jaw (called submandibular lymph nodes).

However, instead of breaking externally, these break and drain into the guttural pouch.

The guttural pouch opens into the throat through a slit-like opening, so some of the pus will typically drain into the horse’s throat and eventually out of their nose.

Because of this drainage and lack of visible swelling under the jaw, a horse with only the retropharyngeal lymph nodes involved can easily be mistaken for a horse with “just a cold” or a sinus issue.

Guttural pouch - an image from an endoscopy showing normal entrances
This image shows the back of a normal horse's throat. The two white lines near the top of the picture are the openings to the guttural pouches.

Guttural pouch - an image from an endoscopy showing damage
This horse has extensive scarring and damage to the opening of the guttural pouch because of a long-standing Strangles infection in the guttural pouch.

How Strangles Got Its Name

Before these abscesses rupture, they can become so large that they compress the horse’s throat to the point that it becomes difficult for them to breathe.

This is where the term “Strangles” comes from.

These horses can require a tracheostomy–a procedure where an incision is made into the windpipe. Then a small tube is inserted to allow the horse to breathe more normally.

These horses breathe through the tube in their trachea, bypassing the upper airway, until the abscesses resolve.

Once the tube is removed, the tracheostomy site will heal on its own. Most horses recover well from the procedure.

Guttural pouch - abscesses in the lymph nodes near the guttural pouch can have serious complications
This mare had a tracheostomy performed because large abscesses in her retropharyngeal lymph nodes were compressing her upper airway making it very difficult for her to breathe.

What happens when the abscesses rupture?

Problems can arise when the abscesses rupture and the pus does not completely drain from the pouches and becomes trapped there.

As you might imagine, having a bunch of pus and bacteria hanging around creates a great deal of inflammation in the tissue that lines the guttural pouch. This tissue is very thin and overlies very important nerves.

To see the extent of the damage in the guttural pouches, a vet must perform an endoscopy–or, in layman’s terms, “scope” the horse.

Guttual pouch - an endoscopy procedure is used to see down a horse's throat
Dr. Shane Smith performs an endoscopy at Idaho Equine Hospital

Down the Wrong Pipe

When the inflammation in the pouch begins affecting the surrounding nerves, a horse can have difficulty swallowing–called dysphagia. Horses that are dysphagic will show signs of feed material coming out of their nose. They may also cough when eating, or may have water come out of their nose when drinking.

Note: The amount of coughing with this condition is variable and does not always correlate well with the severity of the disease.

The main complication with dysphagia is that horses may breathe feed material into their lungs because of their trouble swallowing normally. This can result in pneumonia, which can be life threatening.

Serious Complications

If these horses are treated early in the course of the disease by flushing the pus out of the guttural pouches and support with anti-inflammatories, the function of the nerves can come back and the horse’s ability to swallow can return to normal.

However, there are cases where the inflammation in the guttural pouches was not addressed for many months. This can lead to extensive scar tissue formation, resulting in permanent and irreparable damage to the nerves.

For these horses, there are not really any practical treatment options. The prognosis is grave due to their inability to eat and likelihood of developing aspiration pneumonia.

Guttural Pouch - pus can become trapped and must be flushed or surgically removed
Dr. Jamie Higgins flushes the guttural pouches to help resolve large abcesses that are compressing this horse's airways.

This is pretty gross, but…

Another complication that can occur when pus remains in the guttural pouch is the development of chondroids.

Chondroids are balls of dried out (called inspissated) pus that stay in the guttural pouch. Imagine a bag of variable sized rubber SuperBalls stuck in your throat…not pleasant.

Guttural pouch - Chondroids are highly contagious dried balls of pus
Bouncy balls – FUN!

Guttural pouch - chondroids are balls of dried pus trapped in the guttural pouch
Chondroids – Not fun.

These chondroids often have to be removed surgically. They can be too large to allow a veterinarian to flush them out of the opening of the guttural pouch.

Like inflammation in the guttural pouches, treatment early in the course of the disease will help the horse’s prognosis. It’s best to flush the pus out of the pouches before it dries out and becomes inspissated.

Silent Spreaders

Horses with chondroids can also have trouble swallowing, but they often show little to no outward signs of illness.  They can continue to shed bacteria into the environment.

These horses, called inapparent carriers or subclinical carriers, are an important part of understanding how this disease can continue in certain herds, as well as spread to new horses.

Carriers may have visible signs of disease in their guttural pouch. But, to make things more complicated and confusing, some of these horses appear totally normal on endoscopy but still shed bacteria.

This means that specialized testing must be used to accurately identify carriers. We will delve into identification and treatment of carriers in an upcoming post.

Did you find this post helpful?

If so, please share it! You will be helping us get this information out to more horse owners so we can help lessen the impact of this disease on all of our beloved horses!

What’s Next?

In Part 3, we’ll learn more about carrier horses, including the best ways to test them. We’ll also discuss how often a horse that’s infected with Strangles becomes a carrier.

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID

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November 19, 2016 / by / in ,
What Is Strangles – An Introduction to a Misunderstood Disease

The snotty truth about Strangles…

by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the first in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook. We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

If you’re reading this to find a magic cure…

…or some awesome tips that will prevent you from ever needing to worry about your horse getting Strangles, you may be disappointed. Despite what a Google search may tell you, Strangles is not a straightforward disease.

Strangles has been around since the 1200s, and so far, we have failed to come up with a foolproof way to get rid of the disease.

However, we know more about Strangles than ever before. We have come a long way in understanding how it survives in the equine population by subclinical carriers. Tests to identify these carriers are improving.

Strangles 101

What is Strangles?

Strangles (sometimes called Equine Distemper) is an infection in horses caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi ssp equi–Strep. equi for short.

 


 Extremely common


 Highly contagious through direct contact but does not easily spread through the air


 May require veterinary intervention

Symptoms of Strangles may include:

Not all horses who are contaminated with the bacteria will show signs of illness. These kinds of horses are called subclinical carriers. It is also important to remember that a horse may still have Strangles, even if they don’t show these classic symptoms.

Horses may show:

High fever: Normal temperature in horses is between 99-101 Fahrenheit


Decreased appetite


Lethargy


Runny nose with thick mucus: Look for thick discharge that is greenish-yellow in color. While this may not always be present, it is definitely a sign that something is wrong.


Swollen, painful lymph nodes: In classic cases of Strangles, the lymph nodes under the jaw swell. However, lymph nodes are located throughout the body, and this disease can cause them to swell in other locations. Learn more about lymph nodes.

What is strangles - A classic example of abscessed submandibular lymph nodes, one of which has ruptured.
A classic example of abscessed submandibular lymph nodes, one of which has ruptured.

Nose-To-Nose Contact

Strangles does not spread through the air, so it’s easier to quarantine possibly infected horses than with diseases like Equine Influenze or herpes virus.

Strangles spreads through nose-to-nose contact and fomites. Strangles should be taken seriously, as it can have severe complications and is not always easy to treat.

Know Your Snot:
A runny nose can mean a simple nasal irritation–but not always.

   Clear + Thin Snot = Likely Nasal Irritation
   Greenish-Yellow + Thick/Goopy Snot = Bigger Underlying Infection (pictured right)

 

What is Strangles - A snotty nose is a common sign of Strangles

Subclinical Carriers: The Silent Spreader

Subclinical carriers are horses that are infected with a disease, but show no signs of illness. This type of horse appears completely healthy and normal, but is able to infect other horses.

This is how some herds seem to mysteriously experience outbreaks of Strangles every year. It’s a common myth that Strangles “lives in the soil” or hibernates elsewhere around the facility.

Veterinary medicine is developing better and better tests to help find and treat horses that may be getting their herd-mates sick with Strangles.

What is Strangles - horses can carry Strangles and still look and act completely healthy
Horses can carry Strangles and still look and act completely healthy

Fomites: Contaminated Objects

Fomites are objects that become contaminated with bacteria, allowing it to be transmitted to another horse.

Common fomites include bits, caretaker’s hands or clothing, brushes, water buckets, water hoses, muck buckets, feed carts, and more.

While the bacteria can only live a few days on most surfaces, it can live up to 30 days in water buckets. You can help prevent fomites from spreading the disease by not sharing items between horses and thorough sterilization of items that must be shared–including your hands and clothes!

What is Strangles? Common fomites include water buckets

What is Strangles?

Strangles (sometimes called Equine Distemper) is an infection in horses caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi ssp equi–Strep. equi for short.

Unlike influenza or herpes virus, Strep. equi bacteria does not easily spread through the air. It is usually transmitted between horses through nose-to-nose contact, contaminated objects known as fomites and subclinical carriers.

Skip To Prevention Section

Below: Horses displaying the classic thick nasal discharge symptoms.

What is Strangles - A snotty nose is a common sign of Strangles
What is Strangles - Strangles bacteria is not airborne

How It Works

Strep. equi enters the horse through the mucosal tissue in their nose and mouth. It then travels to nearby lymph nodes and causes abscessation. These abscesses eventually break and drain pus containing large amounts of contagious bacteria.

Horses with Strangles will often develop:

  • high fevers
  • have decreased appetite
  • lethargy 
  • large, swollen, painful lymph nodes.

Learn more about the symptoms

How Strangles Has Changed

In the past, it was common for the infection to spread only to the lymph nodes under the jaw (submandibular lymph nodes). Once the abscessed lymph nodes broke and drained, the horses would return to normal and acquire a fairly long standing immunity to the disease.

Our experience at the Idaho Equine Hospital, along with more recent research, suggests that this classic description of the clinical signs of Strep. equi infection is often not what happens.

It is not unusual for us to see Strangles infections extend beyond the submandibular lymph nodes to infect lymph nodes adjacent to the guttural pouches, behind the eyes, in the neck, and even to internal lymph nodes in the body.

Abscesses in lymph nodes in these other locations each come with their own set of potential complications and adverse effects.

What is Strangles - Strangles can have serious complications
This horse's abscesses were constricting her airway, making it difficult for her to breathe.

Get Smarter About Buying and Selling Horses

Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Preventing Strangles: Education Is the Best Weapon

Because each situation is unique, there are many issues with this disease that can’t be addressed with concrete answers. Every horse is different, and limitations in our therapies, our vaccines, and our knowledge make black and white answers impossible.

However, there is a wealth of information that can help you take the best care possible of your horse. Knowledge is one of the best tools we have to combat Strangles.

In later articles in this series, we’ll learn more about protecting your herd and what to do in case of an outbreak.

The Silent Spreader

A horse that’s a subclinical carrier is infected with a disease, but shows no signs of illness. This horse appears completely healthy and normal, but is able to infect other horses.

This is how some herds seem to mysteriously experience outbreaks of Strangles every year. It’s a common myth that Strangles “lives in the soil” or hibernates elsewhere around the facility.

It can be difficult to identify a subclinical carrier in your herd. Luckily, veterinary medicine is developing better and better tests to help find and treat horses that may be getting their herd-mates sick with Strangles.

What is Strangles - horses can carry Strangles and still look and act completely healthy
Horses can carry Strangles and still look and act completely healthy

Contaminated Objects

Fomites are objects that become contaminated with bacteria, allowing it to be transmitted to another horse.

Common fomites include bits, caretaker’s hands or clothing, brushes, water buckets, water hoses, muck buckets, feed carts, and more.

While the bacteria can only live a few days on most surfaces, it can live up to 30 days in water buckets. You can help prevent fomites from spreading the disease by not sharing objects between horses, and thoroughly sterilizing anything that must be shared–including your hands, boots, and clothing.

Strangles Biohazards
Strangles is highly contagious and can be spread through any contaminated objects, known as a fomite.

A Serious Disease

Despite being one of the most common and well-known diseases among horses, Strangles can be very complicated, both to diagnose and to treat.

Diagnostics are extremely important. They’ve improved greatly, allowing veterinarians better ability to recognize horses that have become chronic carriers of Strep. equi, as well as horses with secondary complications from the disease.

It is also possible that changes within the bacteria itself are causing it to become more pathogenic.

The most important message to take home:  despite its prevalence in the equine population, Strangles can be an extremely serious disease in some horses and should not be taken casually.

Did you find this post helpful?

If so, please share it! You will be helping us get this information out to more horse owners so we can help lessen the impact of this disease on all of our beloved horses!

What’s Next:

In our next post, we will learn about a horse’s guttural pouch. We’ll discuss why abscesses in this location are particularly important because of their potential to contribute to a horse unknowingly spreading the disease to countless other horses.

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID.

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November 12, 2016 / by / in ,
How To Make an Extra $1000 On Your Horse Sale Consignment

11 Ways To Make Your Horse Bring Extra Money

by Lisa Whinfrey


What if we told you that with a little bit of planning ahead and maybe a couple hours of work, you could make your horse worth more in the sale ring? We’re talking an extra $1000-$4500. You’d do it, right? Or do you hate extra money?

We talked to professional horse sale manager and sales consultant Jill Swanhorst about some tips for making sure your consignment brings top dollar.

1. Consign to the right sale

Evaluate the history of the horses sold on the sale you’re interested in. Your 1D barrel horse might stand out at a Western Pleasure sale, but probably not in a way that makes you money. Pick a sale that’s known for horses like yours. That way, you know your catalog fee is going towards advertising to the right kind of buyers!
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Never would've happened if we'd put this 14 hand mare on a ranch gelding sale!!

2. Help Bring in the Buyers

The sale company crew is working overtime getting catalogs out to their mailing list, designing gorgeous ads for big national magazines, and getting everything polished up for sale day.

You’ve taken a killer sale picture, written the finest description, your horse is consigned to the sale and riding just the way you want him to. Your work is done until sale day, right?

Related: 5 easy ways to write a perfect horse description.

It could be, but Jill has noticed that top sellers generally make an effort to market their own horse. You should advertise your horse online, take lots of video, and make sure to be available to answer questions from potential buyers.

Remember, the sale is doing lots of advertising, but rarely for specific horses. “It’s not fair for me to pick out my favorites from a catalog and put the marketing budget towards promoting them,” Jill says.

“People that are topping sales usually are working hard to promote their horse, just like I’m working hard to promote the sale. The two really go hand in hand.”

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Advertise your consignment on The Sale Horse ahead of time!

3. Decide Your Price

Jill recommends deciding well before the sale what your horse needs to bring. She reminds sellers that the auctioneer has to know how high the bidding needs to get.

“Your auctioneer is working for you,” she says. “Make sure you give him all the tools to do his job! Withholding information about your bottom dollar doesn’t help anyone out.”

If you’re not sure how much your horse is worth, start by doing a search online to see what similar horses are bringing.

Related: Learn where your catalog fee money really goes.

Jill suggests calling the sale office if you’re really stuck. “Even if I’m helping a new sale I’ve never worked with before, I have a pretty good idea about the market value on a horse,” she says. “I’m happy to talk with people and help them set a realistic goal.”

Remember that your sale team wants your horse to sell, so they’re going to be very well-informed–and realistic–about his real market value.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
A search for similar horses can be useful for deciding a reasonable price.

Once you’ve picked your price, stick to it. Just like horses, it’s easy for sellers to get over-excited by the noise and commotion in the sale ring!

Jill says it’s common for a seller to decide at the last minute that their horse is worth double their original bottom dollar, which generally winds up in disappointment–and a no-sale.

4. Don’t Burn Bridges

When narrowing down the picks for a sale, a committee is going to remember your history. A lot of no-sales is a good way to guarantee they won’t ask you back next year.

“If you’ve brought a horse to the same sale for the past five years, and you’ve no-sold every one of them, you’re probably not going to be invited back,” Jill says.

“I’m wondering if you’re bringing horses to sell or to appraise. If you’re bringing them to appraise, I don’t need them. I’m selling.”

Too many no-sales are a fast way to ruin a sale’s reputation. Most open consignment sales average around a 25% no-sale rate. In 14 years managing the Black Hills Stock Show Sale in Rapid City, SD, Jill’s no-sales stayed below 20%.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
This is not a good example of professional behavior.

It’s fine to no-sale your horse if bidding doesn’t get where it needs to. Just be sure to have done your homework ahead of time to have a realistic price in mind and an auctioneer that’s aware of your bottom dollar.

If everyone is on the same page, your decision to not sell your horse will be less likely to affect your relationship with the sale in the future.

5. Don’t Leave Money on the Table

“Your horse can never be too fit or too shiny for sale day,” Jill says.

“Say I’ve got two horses with the same papers, the same training, and the same experience. One of them is nicely groomed with his feet freshly trimmed and his whiskers clipped. The other is dull-coated and wearing a saddle that’s covered in dust and an old, dirty pad. That clean horse is going to bring $1000-$4500 more–just based on looks.”

That’s a lot of money!

On mobile devices: tap either side of image to see comparison

  • Before-No Effort vs. Elbow Grease
    After-No Effort vs. Elbow Grease
    BeforeNo Effort vs. Elbow GreaseAfter

Take the time to clip your horse’s whiskers and clean up his ears a little. Even if this is something you normally don’t do, it can make a huge difference. It demonstrates your attention to detail and shows that you’re taking pride in the work you’ve done on a nice horse.

Extra tip: A little baby oil around the eyes and muzzle before you ride in the ring can be a really nice finishing touch!

Related: See how baby oil can help you take a professional quality sale picture of your horse…using just your iPhone.

On mobile devices: tap either side of image to see comparison

  • Before-Chin Beard vs. Classy
    After-Chin Beard vs. Classy
    BeforeChin Beard vs. ClassyAfter

6. Make Him Shine (or at least flatten down the fluff)

Even without access to a lighted stall to keep your horse summer-slick all year, you can plan ahead so you’re not riding a fluffy horse through a winter or early spring sale. A sleazy is a lycra hood that will lay a horse’s coat down flat and help shine him up.

Try putting one on, then add a blanket over top for a few days before the sale to smooth even the most stubborn winter coat. Make sure the mane is all on the same side or you’ll regret it tomorrow.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
She looks really embarrassed, but it's totally worth it.

Does it look kinda silly, Mr. Cowboy? Your friends will stop laughing when your horse brings extra money.

Don’t believe us? Check out these results. We got a sweat on the pony, then threw a hood and a turnout sheet on her overnight. No brushing, no washing, just a big improvement.

On mobile devices: tap either side of image to see comparison

  • Before-Sweaty vs Slick
    After-Sweaty vs Slick
    BeforeSweaty vs SlickAfter

Extra tip: hairy horses are going to sweat in an indoor facility. A lot. If you have time, pull your saddle after the preview and curry your horse so the hair is all laying the same direction. Then, throw a fleece cooler blanket over top to help wick some of the moisture away.

We’ve even brought a couple fans to sales to help that sweat dry faster and keep our winter-acclimated horses a little more comfortable.

Related: Zane Davis’ tips for horse shopping at big-name sales.

7. Dress To Impress

“I can’t believe how many people go through tons of effort to make their horse look amazing, then show up with big chunks of mud stuck all over their boots and jeans,” Jill laughs.

“Pretend you’re going to a job interview and put yourself together a little.”

Wear something professional and applicable to your discipline, like a long-sleeve western shirt and clean, newer jeans.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
“Don’t forget to brush your hat!” Jill adds. “Even if you’re a cowboy that works on a ranch for a living, you don’t know who is going to be interested in your horse. Dress up for town and you may appeal to a broader audience.”
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money

8. Your Horse Should Wear His Sunday Best, Too!

Clean, or at least wipe down, your saddle and choose the nicest, newest pad you have. Wipe down all of your tack. If you choose to put boots on your horse for the preview, new ones look the sharpest. If new boots aren’t in the budget, warm water, a scrub brush, and a couple drops of dish soap go a long way.
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
It doesn't have to be perfect to look way better.

Choose a halter that fits nicely and is in good shape to show off the fancy job you did clipping your horse’s face.
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
This halter is not adjusted properly, which is a safety hazard. Also: ugly.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
A clean, properly fitted halter will show off your horse's head.

9. Be Early

Take the time to get to the sale facility ahead of schedule. The night before is a great option. Ride your horse around where the preview will be held and even in the sale ring, if possible.

Even the most gentle, bombproof horse can feel a little overwhelmed by the lights, people, and loud sounds. Making a little extra effort to get your horse comfortable with the environment ahead of time is setting yourself up for success.

Related: Matt Koch shares tips on setting yourself up for success when showing your ranch horse.

Jill remembers a sale where the owners brought an older, gentle, kid’s horse that had mostly been used on the ranch. The horse wasn’t used to being in town, and the family hadn’t ridden him around the sale ring ahead of time.

“He was already bug-eyed and snorting in the ring,” she remembers. “For some reason, the adult got off and lifted the little kids onto the horse, who immediately bucked them off.”

Don’t be that guy.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Fun for the rodeo, not so fun for the sale ring.

10. Bring Snacks

It may be obvious, but don’t forget to feed and water your horse!

It’s easy to get caught up talking to potential buyers and watching the other consignments, but bring a water bucket and a hay bag. Let your horse drink and have a few bites of hay while you’re talking to people or waiting for your turn in the sale ring.

It will help your consignment look and feel his best when you ride in.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
A hydrated horse with a full belly will look and feel better.

11. Honesty: Still the Best Policy

In all the years Jill has been professionally involved with horse sales, she has found that top sellers in all disciplines set themselves apart by following the same tips.

“The people that are selling horses for $20,000 or more year after year always have their horses fit, clean, and previewing well,” Jill says. “And, they’re always 100% honest. They know their good reputation depends on representing their horses as accurately as possible. This builds trust with both the sale company and buyers.”

Selling a horse you know bucks every morning to a grandma learning to get back in the saddle will not help your next one sell high–plus, it’s just plain wrong!

Don’t be afraid to tell someone it doesn’t sound like your horse is a good fit for their goals. It’s the decent thing to do, and your honesty will go a long way.

What sales are you excited about this fall?

You can post events and advertise consignments on The Sale Horse. 

We’d love to show them off!

About Jill Swanhorst

Jill’s passion is horse sales. Her experience includes a 14 year stint managing the Black Hills Stock Show Sale, where it grew from a regional ranch horse sale to a highly respected two-day event with top 15 sales averaging over $20,000. Jill now works as a freelance consultant and sale manager, assisting with the organization of such prestigious sales as the Fulton Quarter Horse Sale.

Get in touch with Jill:

– jswanhorst5278@gmail.com

– (605) 484-5788

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October 16, 2016 / by / in , , ,
How To Get the Most For Your Money At A Horsemanship Clinic

Clinics can seem a little overwhelming.

by Lisa Whinfrey // courtesy Carson James Horsemanship


We wanted to help ease your fears, so we talked to Natural Horsemanship clinician Carson James about what you can expect at a horsemanship clinic, how to head home with the tools to keep improving, and how he makes sure everyone is learning.

Carson James Horsemanship Clinic- how to get the most for your money at a clinic
Carson James tries to makes sure his clinics feel laid back, "like a bunch of people just hanging out and having fun with their horses."

How To Prepare For A Clinic

You don’t need to buy a new cowboy hat, if that’s what you’re worried about!

Carson recommends working on some colt starting basics with your horse ahead of time. Tips in magazines like Horse and Rider, Western Horseman, and Eclectic Horseman will help you get started on these tasks.

Carson also offers a free Fundamentals of Horsemanship DVD for signing up on his website, which covers much of the same information as his clinics.

Carson James Horsemanship Clinic - how to get the most for your money at a clinic
Instead of worrying about having the perfect cowboy outfit before a clinic, concentrate on learning some basic colt starting drills ahead of time.

In his Horsemanship Fundamentals clinics (as well as similar offerings by other clinicians), you’ll spend the beginning of the weekend working on these building blocks. These can include freeing up the hind end, longeing, and making sure your horse isn’t crowding you on the ground.

“If you and your horse have some of the foundation down ahead of time,” he says, “you’ll be able to troubleshoot with the clinician instead of covering brand new territory.”

Carson James Horsemanship Clinics - how to get the most for your money at a horsemanship clinic
Carson keeps his clinics small so he has plenty of time for individual attention without the rest of the group getting bored.

Make Sure To Zoom Out

“Sometimes you get so deep in a puzzle that you forget what the picture is supposed to be. That can hinder your progress,” Carson says. “Try to zoom out and look at the box to remind yourself ‘oh, it’s supposed to be a picture of a church on a hillside.’ That can help you fill in the smaller pieces.”

Horses with supple necks have an easier time when asked to follow their noses with their front feet. Understanding that lateral softness can build to make a responsive, guide-able horse will progress you further than simply being able to perform a drill where your horse flexes his neck. 

Try to look around at the other riders and watch their progress, especially if you feel yourself getting stuck on solving a small problem with your horse. This can help show you the big picture, which will be valuable when you get home and start applying what you’ve learned.

Related: Dan Roeser’s Big Picture-Training Horses That Succeed From the Snaffle to the Bridle

Carson James Horsemanship Clinic - how to get the most for your money at a clinic
"Zooming out" to see the big picture is very helpful–especially if you're getting stuck on a small detail.

Avoid Getting Hung Up On Doing Everything Perfectly

“Don’t worry about getting everything perfectly right,” Carson suggests. “Just work on understanding the general idea of what the clinician is trying to get across.”

Most changes happen slowly, so set goals to create building blocks rather than seeking instant gratification.

Instead of spending your weekend clinic trying to get a fast, perfect spin on your horse, focus on learning the parts and pieces that will allow you to build that maneuver (and more!) once you get home.

“Try not to come with the expectation of making a miraculous improvement in just one weekend,” Carson says. “You’ll be happier when you get home if you spend the clinic looking for a general idea of the tools to improve yourself and your horse over time.”





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Is Auditing Useful?

Carson’s clinics usually include 20-40 auditors. He says, “auditing is great, because it’s much easier to zoom out and see everything that’s going on. You’re less personally involved, so you can see the entire scene.”

There will be a lot of information covered in a weekend clinic. Bring a notepad so you can jot down your observations as you go.

Carson James Horsemanship Clinic - how to get the most for your money at a clinic
Auditing can be very helpful for helping see the big picture.

The Most Important Take-Home Lesson

“I want to teach people to see the importance of the small steps; to show them how refined horsemanship can be and how that informs the bigger picture,” Carson says.

“If you learn something really basic, like getting the hind end to stay in one spot while getting a single step with a front foot, you can keep building on that. It can be as basic or advanced as you want it to be.”

Carson James Horsemanship Clinics - how to get the most for your money at a horsemanship clinic
Learning the foundations of horsemanship will improve the big picture–whether you're dragging calves to the branding fire or trail riding.

Is it worth going to a clinic if you’re really green?

“Absolutely,” says Carson.

“The fundamentals of horsemanship are accessible at a walk, so even really green riders can start getting a great foundation.”

Small clinic sizes allow Carson to give riders the attention they need. “I can give personal time to each individual without everyone else getting bored,” he explains.

These small groups also ensure there’s plenty of room in the arena for more advanced riders to lope around the outside while leaving space for beginners to walk and jog in the center.

Related: Find A Horse That’s Perfect for Your Horsemanship Journey

Carson James Horsemanship Clinics - how to get the most for your money at a horsemanship clinic
Smaller groups make sure there's plenty of room in the arena, no matter what needs done!

Helping The Wallflowers

Carson tries to make his clinics accessible for even the most shy. “I’ll reassure people by telling that everything we do, especially at the beginning, is really slow,” he says.

He shares an example of the kind of exercise he likes to use to help people gain confidence in themselves while improving their horse:  “Gather up the reins, then start drawing the slack out very slowly. Try to feel when the horse starts shifting his weight to take a step. Work on releasing when the horse lifts one foot to move back.”

These sort of slow, precise tasks are perfect for introverts that may not be comfortable publicly performing tasks where failure is evident. They also help beginners that aren’t ready for higher speeds. Plus, they’re great for horses of all levels.

Carson James Horsemanship Clinics - how to get the most for your money at a horsemanship clinic
Set a goal to get the general idea of what the clinician is trying to teach the group. You can focus on perfection once you get home! 🙂

Making It Fun

Carson’s relaxed and accessible demeanor has also helped his more timid attendees feel comfortable. “I’m not very good at it,” he laughs, “but I try to do funny things and make jokes during the clinic to help people relax.”

Presenting himself as a person, instead of a professor, helps people feel comfortable asking questions. “I try to keep it from being serious and dry,” he explains. “When you approach timid people like that, it puts them even more in a shell.”

Carson James Horsemanship Clinic - how to get the most for your money at a clinic
Carson does his best to tell jokes and be as relaxed as possible. This helps people have fun instead of feeling like they're being lectured.

Managing the Show-Offs

If you’ve been to a clinic, you’ve experienced the kind of person that seems to be there just to demonstrate how handy they already are. These people can be loud and overbearing, which can make it hard for others to get their money’s worth.

Carson is familiar with the type. He believes in subtly challenging them without directly calling anyone out. “They’re paying customers too,” he says, “so I find ways to help them open their mind and push their skills without them even noticing.”

He often looks for what the person’s horse does best. Take backing up as an example.

“Without addressing anyone directly, I’ll tell the people that can back up really well to work on backing up without using their reins,” he says.

“Usually, by pushing the boundaries of their strengths, I can get them to call themselves out. Then they’re able to spend the rest of the clinic learning along with everyone else.”

Related: Be the good kind of show-off! Learn to take a fancy picture of your horse with just your iPhone.

Carson James Horsemanship Clinics - how to get the most for your money at a horsemanship clinic
Instead of calling anyone out directly, Carson uses his people skills to subtly redirect a person's focus back to learning.

The Number One Reason People Are Nervous About Clinics

“Before clinics, people seem to feel a lot of pressure to succeed or perform in a certain way,” Carson says. “Afterwards, they tell me that the clinic felt laid back, like a bunch of people having fun with their horses.”

The Best Part About the Clinician Life

Carson loves getting to travel and see new country. His wife travels with him, and he’s grateful to have the opportunity to spend so much time with her.

The other thing that makes it all worthwhile? Seeing the “a-ha!” moments when something really clicks. “These moments usually happen first with the rider,” Carson says. “Almost immediately afterwards, the horse has one too.

“I love the correlation between the rider learning how to ask more clearly and the horse’s life getting easier.”

Related: Behind The Scenes At A Horse Sale

Still nervous about clinics?

Try following Carson James on Facebook! He frequently posts live streams of his clinics, which could help you feel more comfortable heading to the next one in your area. Plus, you’ll probably pick up a few handy tips.

About Carson James

Carson James began his career summering on ranches in Montana and riding colts in Florida during the winter. As his skill set grew, he began to realize a gift for helping people improve their own horsemanship skills. Putting on clinics became a natural extension of this path.

With help from the marketing and video production gifts of his brother, Carson’s reach and influence has expanded nationally, allowing him to schedule clinics and help both people and horses across the country.

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Carson James shares tips to make sure you get your money's worth at your next horsemanship clinic!
October 10, 2016 / by / in , , , , ,
What You Need to Know About Horse Sales (and Where Your Money Goes)

It’s fall horse sale season, and everyone’s excited…

by Lisa Whinfrey  //    by  Claire Buchanan


…but, have you ever wondered where that consignment fee goes? Do your sale catalog picks always bring way more than your budget (…or salary)? Let The Sale Horse help.

Professional horse sale manager and sales consultant Jill Swanhorst gave us all kinds of tips on How To Horse Sale. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how a horse sale is run. Plus: we found a little bit of top-secret advice about finding a bargain…

So, where IS my consignment fee going?

It’s not making the sale any money, if that’s what you’re wondering.

Advertising is, by far, the sale’s biggest expense. It is also a necessity for attracting buyers.

A digital ad campaign costs less than print, but “horse people like to see stuff in print,” Jill explains. “Running an ad in a big national magazine is going to cost as much as a couple thousand dollars per issue. A big sale’s advertising budget can be more than $100,000.”

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
Your consignment fee covers the sale's upfront costs, such as advertising and facility rental.

Other major expenses include facility rental and catalog printing. Then there’s the cost of employees. A sale requires office workers, a vet, a brand inspector, ring men, the pedigree man, an auctioneer, set-up crew, and more.

Someone has to be available to unlock stalls for consigners as they arrive with their horses before the sale, office supplies need to be purchased, and countless other details must be managed.

Jill estimates it costs as much as $500-$1200 per horse to put on a sale. Catalog fees generally cover some, but not all, of these up-front costs. Sale companies make their profit on the commission, which is generally around 10% of the final bid.

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
It costs the auction company, on average, $500-1200 to sell a single horse on a sale.

Why would I want to sell my horse on a sale?

Jill is quick to encourage would-be consigners to sell their horses privately if they’re able.

“If you’ve got a buyer that’s ready to give you full price for your horse today, sell!” she says. “You may or may not get that price at an auction. You’ll have the added expense of feeding the horse for several extra months.”

Add on consignment fees, travel to the sale, a couple more sets of shoes, and you may wind up wishing you’d sold ahead of time.


If you don’t have a buyer lined out, a sale may be great choice. The professional team that makes up an auction company is going to know the horse market better than anyone. They will also have access to a large network of buyers.

This team is the greatest benefit to consigning your horse. Jill prides herself on knowing the horse market inside and out. She knows bloodlines, the intricacies of each discipline, as well as years of history of prices.

You can call her up, describe your horse, and she can give you a pretty good estimate of what he’s going to bring and if he’s going to be a good fit on a particular sale.

This expertise is what you’re paying for when consigning a horse.

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
If you have a buyer lined up to buy your horse privately, you should sell instead of consigning!

Sale companies usually can’t guarantee any information about specific horses consigned to their auctions. However, the sale’s reputation as a place to consistently find quality animals is what attracts buyers. As a consigner, you get access to a network of people that already trust the sale–something that’s hard for an individual to do.

Jill describes the relationship between a sale and a seller as a partnership. “We all are after the same goal,” she says. “We all want that horse to bring as much money as possible.”

Sales for Career Opportunities

If you’re a breeder, trainer, or other professional, a sale can be a great way to advertise your program and cement your reputation of making nice horses.

“I recommend picking your best horse and putting him on a sale,” Jill says. “You may take a little hit on price over selling privately, but you’re out there showing off the best thing to come out of your program. That’s something buyers remember and seek out year after year.”

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
Trainers and breeders may benefit from showing off their top horses on a public sale.

How does a consignment sale pick their horses?

“I’ve missed out on a lot of Christmas card lists because of that,” laughs Jill, explaining that part of her job is having to tell people no. “A lot of nice horses don’t get accepted as consignments, and people take it really personally.”

A sale committee has to know ahead of time what their buyer market can support. Jill says, “For example, in most places, you can’t have 10 pro-rodeo caliber finished calf horses on one sale and have 10 sellers go home happy with the money their horse brought.”

These types of high-end horses require a very specific buyer with pretty deep pockets, and it’s unlikely most sales will have a whole room full of these people.

Because of this, Jill explains, a sale committee may have to reject an exceptionally nice horse from a well-qualified seller. She says, “I’d rather you be mad at me because your horse didn’t get in the catalog than because your horse didn’t bring enough on sale day!

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
Don't take it personally if your horse doesn't get accepted to a consignment sale–the average sale can't support too many super nice horses!

Common Red Flags

If you’re not looking for a project horse, avoid catalog descriptions that say “can go all day” or “for experienced riders only.”

Jill says, “It’s not that these horses don’t have a place or won’t be great for someone. But, if you’re looking for a laid-back trail horse, don’t bid on those.”

Another warning sign is a writeup on a horse that only describes pedigree. This provides no information about what the individual animal has accomplished. Babies, however, are an exception to this rule.

The best policy is to call the consigner. That way, you don’t have to worry about trying to read between the lines and you’ll be able to ask questions directly. Even if the number isn’t listed, try asking the sale office for the seller’s contact information.

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
If you're shopping, it's a good policy to always call the consigner ahead of time to ask questions about the horse you're intersted in.

How To Make Realistic Picks for Your Budget

Decide how much you’d like to spend first. Then, read through a sale catalog and do some online research on horses similar to your top choices. You should be able to begin to get a picture of what your kind of horse is worth.

Still not sure how much a horse may bring? Jill says, “auctions love showing off their results. Go on their website and look at what horses brought the previous year.” You can also call the sale office to get some insight. Many sellers are happy to tell you what they hope to get for their horse.

“Most purchases at horse sales are impulse buys,” Jill says. “I would say that more than half of the time, the high bidder didn’t wake up that morning planning to buy a horse.”

If you want to avoid these impulse buys and get a clear picture of how much horses will cost, you’ll need to start well ahead of time.


Finding A Bargain

“Sales–especially big name sales–have market value prices,” Jill says. “We’re talking retail, not wholesale.” People are becoming more and more willing to pay top dollar for a really nice horse on a reputable sale. This may make it harder to find a gem for an outlet mall price.

Jill suggests being observant at the preview. If there’s a horse you think is going to sneak through and not bring much money, but its owner is surrounded by people asking questions, you’re probably not the only one with that thought. Look for a seller that doesn’t seem to be getting much attention and ask them about their horse.

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
Look for horses that aren't perfectly fitted for the sale–they can be just as broke, but may have less eye appeal and bring less money.

You can also look for horses that haven’t been groomed as perfectly as others. A horse that’s a little thin and has a giant chin beard and a long coat isn’t going to be as much of an eye-catcher in the ring, but may be as broke as anything else on the sale.

Horses that seem a little out of place can sometimes be a good buy. For example, on most ranch gelding sales, the ideal body type is a bigger-framed horse with good bone and foot. A finer-boned mare consigned to that kind of sale may be a great fit for your program and could potentially bring less than her market price.

What sales are you excited about this fall?

You can post events and advertise consignments on The Sale Horse. 

We’d love to show them off!

About Jill Swanhorst

Jill’s passion is horse sales. Her experience includes a 14 year stint managing the Black Hills Stock Show Sale, where it grew from a regional ranch horse sale to a highly respected two-day event with top 15 sales averaging over $20,000. Jill now works as a freelance consultant and sale manager, assisting with the organization of such prestigious sales as the Fulton Quarter Horse Sale.

Get in touch with Jill:

– jswanhorst5278@gmail.com

– (605) 484-5788

September 26, 2016 / 2 Comments / by / in , , ,