April 2013
Pet Circkles.

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being." ~ Abe Lincoln.


Barefoot is a Happy Horse. by L.J. Creapeau, Circkles staff writer.

This article and our last one on "To Feed Grain or Not to Feed Grain" could easily be the start of a whole series of articles on to do something or not to do something. This is because the last 15-20 years have seen quite a change in horse owner philosophy as the trend has been moving away from the traditions of centuries gone by to those of a more natural form of horse care. In addition, the thought process and attitude toward horses has made a drastic revolution in recent years. Horses are no longer considered just livestock; they are quickly becoming members of the pet genre and are now more for recreational use than labor.

Back in the days of the Wild West, it was necessary for horses to be shoed because they were the most widely used form of transportation, and as such, were used so much that they would literally wear their hooves down to nothing. Why we continued the practice of shoeing horses when they evolved from work beasts to recreational companion animals is a wonder. No doubt, it was old habit and because the blacksmiths and farriers of old did not want to lose all the revenue they made in shoeing. Today many horse owners, equine vets, and even many farriers believe to shoe a horse is not only unnatural and unnecessary but down-right damaging to the hoof and legs of our equine friends.

Natural hoof care is quickly becoming a new and accepted profession. It is no longer next to impossible to find a farrier who is willing to accept a horse going "al natural", and many are changing with the times by offering natural hoof care. When one understands the mechanical workings of the hoof, it is easy to realize and understand why horseshoes would not only be a detriment to how a hoof is suppose to function, but why having a non-flexible, unforgiving chunk of metal nailed to a horse's hoof would be damaging to say the least.

We've all seen badly neglected hooves, this article is not going to address that. In this article we are going to talk about general hoof care and maintenance. The horse's hoof is designed to flex when they walk and run, and in doing so, this keeps the circulation in the foot and lower leg healthy. A horseshoe definitely prevents the hoof from flexing and doing what it was designed to do for optimum health, which will only lead to all sorts of hoof and leg problems, and for this reason, many equestrians are going barefoot with their horses. Even though this is becoming more popular with recreational equestrians, most show and performing horses are still wearing shoes simply because old habits in the horse industry diehard and many believe a performance horse requires shoes due to the extra work they put in. However, I know some equestrians who do extensive trail riding, which is far more taxing on the hoof, and their horses do just fine without shoes. It's more a matter of personal taste, education, and philosophy at this point.

Hoof trimming is also undergoing a revolution of sorts as many equine experts and farriers are now coming to the conclusion that horse's hooves have been trimmed incorrectly for centuries. If not done correctly, an improperly trimmed hoof can cause a great deal of damage not only to the coffin bone inside the hoof, but the leg all the way up to the withers. If the angle of the hoof is not correct, it will cause a horse to put its weight too far forward or too far back, leading to unnatural stress being placed on other bones and joints. It's just like a human having a poor fitting pair of shoes: they cause blisters, callouses, bunions, corns, ankle, knee, and even back problems. Since a horse (and a human) spend all day on their feet, it is paramount that they have the best fit possible or damage is sure to occur. A horse may not always come up lame after being trimmed incorrectly, and so it is the horse owner's responsibility to know a little something about how a properly trimmed natural hoof should look; the angle it should be at, how long the toe should be, should the frog be trimmed and so forth. Having a natural hoof care book around with some good pictures and illustrations can be invaluable. After studying pictures on how a hoof is suppose to look in nature, a horse owner can often quickly recognize if their farrier is a good one or a quack; because let me tell you, I have experienced a great many farriers who wouldn't know a properly trimmed hoof if it kicked them in the head.

The best treatment for navicular disease is good hoof care:

Navicular disease is very painful. The navicular bone is a small, flat, thumb-shaped bone between the coffin bone and the pastern. It acts as a pulley for the deep digital flexor tendon. Navicular disease is extremely common in shoed and improperly trimmed horses. One theory to correct navicular stress is to raise the heel and round the toe thereby pitching the horse's weight forward to relieve the pain in his heel from the early onset of navicular problems. A popular theory as to the cause of navicular disease is that ischemia (reduced blood supply) to the hoof causes severe damage to the tendon and tissues that hold everything in place. Remember, we mentioned above that horseshoes prevent good circulation to the hoof? Blood flow to the hoof is definitely decreased if a horse wears shoes because the shoe prevents the hoof from flexing and doing what it is suppose to do in order to increase circulation and lymphatic drainage. The frog is not just a bunch of dead tissue as many believe, it's a sophisticated type of cushion that enables the hoof sole to act like a trampoline, giving and taking pressure to lesson the impact on the tendons and bones of the leg. It acts much like the arch of the human foot, in that it does not come in direct contact with the ground, but flexes to decrease impact. The hoof wall takes the brunt of the impact and weight of the horse while the frog does overtime during heavy impact such as running, jumping or bearing extra weight. Now imagine nailing a ridged, stiff, solid piece of metal to the bottom of the hoof that prevents that flexing from happening. Long term poor circulation weakens the structure of the entire lower leg.

Feel your horses hooves regularly. If they feel hot to the touch, especially one hoof more than the others, some inflammation is going on. Of course, if your horse is lame, that's a dead give away, but by then it may be too late to reverse the damage. The best hoof care is preventive rather than corrective. And as we mentioned in last month's Pet Circles in our article on grains, keeping your horse's inflammation down internally is equally important, and some grains and feeding practices can lead to laminitis and hoof problems as well.

Natural horse trimming is certainly not difficult, and many horse owners are now doing it themselves. A good book or DVD on horse trimming and quality, sharp tools will make the task easier. But even if you have no desire to trim your horse yourself, as a responsible horse owner, if you love your horse, you should at least possess enough knowledge on hoof care so you will know if your farrier is a good one or not. As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of them that aren't worth spit, and the only way you will know that they aren't doing more harm than good in the long run is to have a little hoof knowledge yourself. At least be able to look at a hoof and tell whether the toe appears to be close to the right angle or not, and know that the pad of a horse's hoof is not flat by nature, which is exactly the way most people trim it - to be perfectly flat on the bottom. Also knowing this a person has to conclude that the fact that a horseshoe is perfectly flat would lead to numerous problems with the leg and joints of a horse since it would be somewhat like walking around in iron casts all day rather than your own foot. The hoof of the horse is really quite sophisticated and intricate and should be treated as such. For far too many years, farriers and horse owners have treated hooves like we treat our fingernails: as insignificant, because we didn't know any better. But hoof care has come a long way over the last decade with horse hoof experts actually taking the time to study the hoof and how it functions.

One of the best books I've seen on natural hoof care with good diagrams, photos and explanations for the do-it-yourselfer or just anyone who wants to educate themselves on proper hoof care and function is Jaime Jackson's "The Natural Horse." Jackson is a 35 year veteran hoof care professional, lecturer, author, researcher and noted expert on wild and domestic horse hooves. He studied wild horse's hooves for years before determining that what we were doing to our horses' feet was more damaging than good. What I love about his book is that he explains in great detail how the hoof is naturally designed to function and he knows what he's talking about from having dissected and examined many hooves as well as his years of studying wild mustangs. He went so far as to study how a horse moves in a natural state vs one who is hampered from doing such by shoeing. They guy has done his research and knows the hoof better than anybody could.

His website leaves a great deal to be desired; but hey, the guy is a hoof expert not a web designer. If you can muster through the poor design of it and total lack of anything interesting in the way of design, you can still purchase his books through his site. Amazon has it as well and much cheaper.

We have been abusing horses for centuries by not having an understanding of how their feet function. We have been treating the hoof like a useless hunk of cartilage that serves little purpose and exists for us only as a major inconvenience that has to be trimmed to keep it from curling under with no regard as to how it has to be trimmed to function properly in order to avoid pain and damage. My feet ache just thinking about the years of foot torture our poor equine friends have had to endure due to our ignorance. The hoof is alive, just like our hands and feet, it breathes just like our skin and has a visible pulse, it is not the useless, hard, dead feature of the horse that many of us think of as nothing more than a fingernail and with equal importance. The horse's hoof is notably the most important part of their body, because like you, if the foot is not properly taken care of, the horse cannot function at all without being in a great deal of pain. Learning about proper foot care and function yourself is the single best thing you could ever do for your horse.

Photos from top: 1.) A properly trimmed natural hoof. 2.) The toe on this hoof is far too long causing the horse to bear most of his weight on his heels. This could lead to navicular syndrome over time. Notice by looking at the horses legs that he appears to be standing "parked out", which can be an indication of laminitis. 3.) Jamie Jackson's book on natural horse movement, hoof functioning and trimming for optimum health.


Ferret Soup Bowl:

This is a great way to supplement your ferret's diet and sneak in extra vitamins, omega fatty acids, herbs or supplements or medicines if needed. The more variety you can add to any pet's diet the better.

Give it to your ferret clan once to twice a week and you should notice their coats getting softer and fuller within a couple months. I feed it to my rescue ferrets and know several other rescues who do the same. The ferrets consider it a treat. All I have to do is yell, "Soup bowl" and they all come running.

1/2 C. organic soy milk
1 organic egg
1/2 tsp Brewer's Yeast (excellent multi-vitamin)
1/4 tsp grapeseed oil (high in antioxidants)

Mix above ingredients and heat up just until warm (cold milk may upset their stomachs). Pour into a small, shallow dish and watch them lap it up. Do not give more than 3 times a week as may cause diarrhea.

© 2013 Redstone Promotional Communications/Circkles.com

FDA 2013 Recalls and Safety Alerts



Pets who look like their owners:

Mares in Heat or Pregnant.

Red Raspberry leaf is good for mares who get irritable during heat or their sides seem sensitive to the touch (they don't want you to touch their sides) during heat. Also for the last half of a pregnancy, but should not be given the first half of the pregnancy as it may cause contractions. Make a tea of the leaf - 1 cup leaf to 2 cups boiling water and steep 10-15 minutes. Let cool and add to a small bucket of water or pour on feed. Some horses will eat the tops of the raspberry plant without it being added to anything. Raspberry helps with uterine contractions and cramping, is very nutritious, and makes delivery easier.

For extra nourishment for pregnant and lactating mares : Give twice a week.
1C alfalfa leaves and flowers (do not give alfalfa more than twice a week. It can cause white blood cell destruction in large quantities. Also make sure to not use alfalfa seeds ever.)
1C dried nettle leaf
1C dried oat straw
1/2 C crushed rose hips


DOG BREEDS- Characteristics and Concerns.
(We will get to cat breeds later.)

American Eskimo Dog:
A small to medium-size Nordic-type dog, the American Eskimo Dog is known for its bright white coat, jet black points (lips, nose and eye rims) and erect triangular ears. Despite its name and appearance, the American Eskimo dog is not from Alaska; the dog's heritage is traced back to Northern Europe. The breed's progenitors were German Spitz, but due to anti-German prejudice during the First World War, it was renamed "American Eskimo Dog". Although modern American Eskimos have been exported as German Spitz Gross (or Mittel, depending on the dog's height), the breed standards are actually significantly different. In addition to serving as a watchdog and companion, the American Eskimo dog also achieved a high degree of popularity in the 1930s and 1940s United States as a circus performer. The American Eskimo Dog was originally bred to guard people and property and, therefore, is territorial by nature and a valiant watchdog. They are not considered an aggressive breed. But, due to the breed's watchdog history, American Eskimos are generally quite vocal, barking at any stranger who comes in proximity to their owners or their owner's territory. The American Eskimo is an affectionate, loving dog. Hardy and playful, they are excellent with children but If you allow the dog to believe he or she is the ruler of your home, many varying degrees of behavior issues will arise, including but not limited to: separation anxiety, obsessive barking, dog aggressiveness, willfulness, and guarding. Without enough mental and physical exercise, they can become hyperactive and high strung, spinning in circles.

Life Expectancy:
The American Eskimo is a hardy breed with an average life span of 16 years.

Health Concerns:
This breed tends to become overweight easily, so proper diet and exercise is needed to maintain an overall well being. PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), luxating patella, and hip dysplasia). None of these problems are common and the breed is generally very healthy.[7] In addition to the rarer problems mentioned, the breed can have a tendency towards allergies and most commonly, tear-staining. This breed also is known in some cases to have dental issues.

Looking for an American Eskimo Dog? Use our Petfinder tool below and search for an adoptable dog that needs a home in your area now.

To view breeds we've already written about, view our Dog Breeds on The Hangout. (Must be a Circkles member to view The Hangout.)

April is PREVENT ANIMAL CRUELTY MONTH. Please share Elsie's Story to inform people of a form of animal cruelty many people never think of.

Isaac's Story

"Share to Care"

with other
pet owners
about the need
for more
vaccine research
as part of our
Vaccine Research Awareness Campaign.


Pet Products Review: Ferret Raw Food.

Bravo Basics New Zealand Rabbit and Rabbit Bone Frozen Raw Pet Food.
This product is offered in some local pet and feed stores and comes in a frozen tube or chub so you will find it where they keep their frozen raw dog foods. What is so great about it is that it is frozen rabbit with the ground bone and absolutely nothing else, so it supplies natural calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and minerals without any chemicals whatsoever that ferrets are so sensitive to. Rabbit is also the closest thing you will find to a ferret's natural food supply in the wild which consists of mostly rodents, so it is easier for them to digest than poultry. Although it is advertised and packaged for dogs, this Bravo product is the best food you could possibly give ferrets and a 2 lb chub lasts quite a while for ferret use.

The trick for ferrets however, is that they need to eat several times a day, so make sure this rabbit meat is not left in their dish for too long and spoils. I would not leave it at room temperature for longer than 6-8 hours. Thaw out a chub of it and keep it refrigerated for no longer than 4-5 days and just take what you need as you need it for one meal at a time and keep the rest thawed out in the frig. If you can't go through an entire tube of the frozen rabbit in 4-5 days, then cut off what you need for that period of time and re-freeze the rest. Keep in mind, ferrets also need vegetables and fruits in very small quantities to round out their diet. So also offer them bananas, organic raisins and the occasional Soup Bowl - recipe to the right.

Bravo Basic Formula per the manufacturer: "Vegetable-free, this formula is made from antibiotic-free, hormone-free, grass-fed poultry or beef, as well as organ meat, or wild game and ground bones.  Bravo Raw does not contain any grains or preservatives, which makes it perfect for pets with allergies and sensitivities." 
So of course, their products are good for dogs and cats as well, but their rabbit chubs can range from $14-$28 dollars which can add up to being very expensive in dog-sized quantities unless you only use it as a treat or to supplement their regular food. However, ferrets and cats do not eat as much and so it is more cost effective for smaller animals.

Bravo has a pretty good website for more info on their raw diet products. Since this company is from New Zealand, they light years ahead of the U.S in organic and raw products for consumer use. Since they have such an informative website, and go into details about their product ingredients, it also shows that they are producing their products because they care about animal welfare and not just to put another product out there to make money. Kudos in our book right there! And so a company whose efforts are worth supporting.

Search our Article Archives: