Horse Myth Busting!
Over the past several decades that I have been around horses, I am amazed at the number of things that we find out about them. Sometimes, horse myths can be busted, and once tried and true beliefs are proven to be wrong. Other times, we carry on years of old wive’s tales that are founded in nothing, yet persist. I am here to bust some of those myths up.
MYTH: Dogs and Horses behave the same. I hear this one a lot - especially from people that want to introduce their kids to horses. There’s a big misconception, and it has to do with who is for dinner. In the most primal sense, dogs are predatory, they hunt for food. Domestic dogs eat premium meal in your kitchen, but the instinct to chase and kill is there, as evidenced by every dog I’ve ever know that chases squirrels. Horses are at the most primal level prey animals - they are dinner. Their instinct is to flee, or be eaten.
While training both dogs and horses, I always promote positive reinforcement. But you still have to remember that the squirrel is fair game for a dog, and most likely going to eat your horse.
MYTH: Foamy sweat on your horse means that he is overworked. Many horses foam during exercise where their butt cheeks rub, their reins rest on their necks, or other areas where sweat meets friction. Latherin is the substance in sweat that makes this happen, and it only serves to help the sweat evaporate and cool your horse. Foamy sweat is not related to how hard your horse worked. It is, however, a small indication of how hard you will work to clean him up after a ride.
MYTH: Wheat bran mashes are good to give your horse if he has colic. False! Unless your horse gets a wheat bran mash every single day, giving him something new to eat during or after a colic episode can make things worse. Wheat bran mashes are also crazy high in phosphorus and not much else, so this can alter the calcium and phosphorus ratio, and not in a good way.
MYTH: Don’t let your horse drink after exercise. YIKES - thank goodness this has been proven to be wrong. Horses sweat a lot of water AND a lot of salt and other electrolytes. This causes your horse have concentrations of salt in his blood that may become low - which means no drinking desire. The longer you wait to offer water after work, the smaller his desire to drink it. Offer clean water as soon as you can after a ride or work out. Learn more here!
The "wild eye"
MYTH: Your horse’s temperament can be determined by the amount of white showing around his eye, aka “wild eye”. That lovely white is called sclera, and in some horses, you see it all the time. In other horses, you see it only when he’s scared and about to run from the squirrel. Some horses show their sclera when they are trying to eat your camera, or are too lazy to turn their heads to look at something.
What horse myths do you hear often?