GFM Network News


Sensitivity to touch, swelling and heat in the area of the withers would clearly indicate a problem with the withers, however, more subtle changes must also be observed.

There’s a lot to be learned by reading a horse’s withers

This complex structure can reveal a lot about a horse’s soundness

Reading Time: 4 minutes The comfort and health of the horse’s withers is a central key to its performance and soundness. The withers are the part of the spinal column that lies in between the animal’s shoulder blades and includes the third to 11th thoracic vertebrae. Collectively these vertebra project upwards into an arch. Their uniquely prominent (tall) spinous […] Read more

Keep watch and take quick action when it’s sizzling out

Keep watch and take quick action when it’s sizzling out

You can help your horse beat the heat with a few simple steps

Reading Time: 3 minutes Extreme bouts of hot weather are particularly stressful for horses and for some, even more stressful than extreme bouts of cold weather. Thus it becomes particularly important to identify the individuals at a greater risk for heat stress and what factors can provide extra care for them when necessary. Those particularly prone to heat stress […] Read more


Preparing the horse to learn

Preparing the horse to learn

A myriad of factors under the control of the human can affect the horse’s ability to develop

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Dorrance brothers, Bill and his younger sibling Tom, are widely known for their eloquent and effective communication with horses and are often credited as the founders of the modern-day revolution in horsemanship. The human/horse bond runs deep. Horses seek to appease or make peace with their domesticators and are willing learners. ‘Thought’ leaders and […] Read more

A healthy gut microbiome critical to horse health

A healthy gut microbiome critical to horse health

Immune, neurological, and hormonal systems can all be affected by this microbial community

Reading Time: 3 minutes Although invisible to the naked eye, the horse and human cannot exist apart from the biology and ecology of their microbiome and the microbiome is being heralded as the next most important bodily system. There is emerging evidence the gut microbiome — with its complex interactions of microbial communities including bacteria, archaea, parasites, protozoa, viruses […] Read more


Though often thought of as a problem of the feet or legs, lameness can and often does involve virtually any part of the horse’s body.

There are many kinds of ‘lame’

It’s a blanket term that can cover a lot of conditions

Reading Time: 4 minutes Despite their remarkable strength and resiliency, horses are highly susceptible to lameness. In fact, lameness is the most common symptom presented to the equine veterinarian. Almost every horse will experience some kind of lameness during its lifetime. Its diagnosis, treatment and collateral losses represent one of the most costly health problems for the equine industry. […] Read more

A horse’s immune system can’t be taken for granted

A horse’s immune system can’t be taken for granted

Our understanding of the immune system has evolved past the war-on-germs analogy

Reading Time: 3 minutes In horses, as in humans, the immune system is a powerful biological force. Most of the time, it works so effectively that its true value is often overlooked, even minimized. The traditional view of an immune system is as an army poised for the simple eradication of pathogens. While accurate, this description vastly oversimplifies immunity. […] Read more


Horses with sensitive feet use their bodies in novel ways to avoid discomfort.

Just because the horse has no limp doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem

Horse Health: Horses are far too good at disguising foot pain but sore hoofs can lead to a host of problems

Reading Time: 3 minutes As animals of prey, horses are adept at masking pain, especially foot pain. Foot pain matters deeply to the physical health and psychic well-being of the horse that, at a primal level, relies on flight for a sense of safety. Unfortunately, for many horses with generalized foot pain, their discomfort goes unrecognized, is poorly understood […] Read more

There are several keys to getting a yearling on the proper path

There are several keys to getting a yearling on the proper path

Horse Health: Sound nutrition, plenty of exercise and social interactions are the foundation for the horse’s future

Reading Time: 4 minutes As the equine version of an early teenager, the yearling is a bit of a peculiarity within the modern-day horse world. Yearlings generally appear and act physically ungainly, have a naive mindset and are often emotionally raw. So pressure and haste are often placed upon the yearling to be more than it is and to […] Read more


Transitioning the shod horse to barefoot can be challenging

Transitioning the shod horse to barefoot can be challenging

Start with a hoof assessment and look for problems that may have gone unnoticed

Reading Time: 4 minutes Horse owners decide to transition their horses from shod to barefoot for a number of reasons — curiosity, cost, research, friends, frustrating lamenesses, and unfortunately at times a death sentence due to a diagnosis of intractable navicular disease or laminitis. But the journey towards barefooting is often not without its challenges — yet this is […] Read more

The decision to end a horse’s life is often an agonizing process

The decision to end a horse’s life is often an agonizing process

Horse Health: One of the hardest decisions for a horse owner can also be the best for the welfare of the animal

Reading Time: 4 minutes The term ‘euthanasia’ comes from the Greek words meaning a ‘good death’ and is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. At times the decision to euthanize a horse is clearly obvious. This can occur when a horse has a severe injury or an unrelenting and non-responsive illness such as […] Read more