Can horses suffer from PTSD?

We know horse get stressed. But do we realise just how much stress equines living in our domestic environment suffer?

Most of us have witnessed brutal behaviour towards equines at the hands of humans and the effects of such behaviour on the equine stay with them for life. But what about when long term ‘buddies’ are taken away, split up, moved on? This is also a very stressful time for horses and something few humans consider.

Horses can begin to become ‘hard work’, maybe they bite, nip, lunge, kick…maybe they hate having their feet trimmed, picked up, touched. Perhaps they hate it when their ears are touched, face, flanks….are ‘cinchy’ with their girths, swinging around to strike when the girths are tightened.

Frightened to go into the trailer, stable, yard. Run away and are difficult to catch when they see someone come into their field holding a halter – so the human tries to hide it behind their back. Rip off their rugs, attack other field mates, act like fire breathing dragons going out for what should be a gentle hack.

Thousands upon thousands of humans own horses they never ride, are simply too nervous to ride, because their horse, which they adore, is unpredictable and scary out on rides. Some are great in company, others are better alone, some freak out at the thought of leaving their field, friends, yard…..some go to a show once and never again because the stress for both horse and consequently human is just too much.

The list goes on and on and on. One thing I know for sure is that many MANY of the above problems can be helped by doing simple things such as changing the diet, the management, taking the shoes off, creating herds, even a herd of two, who live out 100% of the time in more interesting environments where hay is placed in different locations for them to mimic foraging behaviour.

Some horses are lucky and have owners who can create these types of environments for them and they become ‘better’ more settled horses because of it.

Ulcers are now recognised as one of the most common problems amongst domestic horses in our modern times and it is likely that more horses suffer from them than was ever first imagined!

Trauma from living in the domestic world can run very deep and I truly believe many horses suffer from PTSD. Which is why

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, when I was contacted by a man called Bob Burdekin a few months ago, telling me about his New Wave Therapy Program and how it helps equines suffering from stress, I knew I had to know more.

Bob spent most of his life in the horse industry and in 2002 decided he wanted to look at alternative methods to helping horses who had stress related problems, so he could bring about positive changes in their lives.

When Bob met a horse called Oden, it made a profound impact on both of their lives. Oden was aggressive, he was a fighter, if you got close to his head he would reach out and bite you, biting the farrier and his owner on several occasions. On finding out more about Oden’s history, Bob realised that, just like the combat soldier

, the abused child or the emotionally abused woman, horses too can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

His article ‘Can horses suffer from PTSD?’ is a great read and is just one of the typically excellent and thought provoking articles we always have in The Barefoot Horse Magazine and you’ll find it in our latest Issue 20. You won’t find articles like this, written by such knowledgeable individuals as Bob Burdekin in pretty much any of the mainstream ‘horsey’ magazines, which is exactly why we exist.

So next time you hear someone complain that their horse is ‘naughty’ or worse needs to be put to sleep because their behaviour is too ‘dangerous’, maybe we need to take a different approach at trying to understand WHY!


Thanks for reading folks!

Lindsay, Editor

p.s. the horse in the top picture is Oden with Bob on one of their first meetings. The spotty horse below is one of my horses ‘Tony’ with my daughter Georgia. Before I met him he was aggressive and was heading towards being put to sleep. He came to live with my large herd, out 24/7, eating nothing but good mixed meadow hay, and within 48 hours the herd magic had already worked wonders…I was trimming him on my own with the rope on the ground. Does he still have issues? Without a doubt but nowadays we don’t tend to see them because Tony is one of the lucky ones.

My horse has gone lame…is it an abscess?

When you notice that your horse has gone lame

, most owners leap to all kinds of conclusions and usually they imagine the problem to be far more sinister than an abscess. Lameness can range from a slight limp to full blown holding the leg up in the air, not weight bearing at all accompanied perhaps with lots of lying down.

At the sight of their beloved horse hopping around a field or limping into the yard, or looking like they have broken their leg, and anything in between, can send most unknowing owners into fits of total delirious frenzy.

This is usually followed by an expensive (and often unproductive) vet visit and can leave the owner and the horse with days to weeks and even months of recurring problems.

How do I know if it is an abscess or something worse?

Well 9 times out of 10 if your horse has suddenly gone lame….and the lameness is GETTING WORSE then it is likely to be an abscess. Tendon or ligament injuries tend to follow the path of consistent lameness, not getting worse and gradually getting better. So if your horse is limping about out of the blue and he is getting progressively worse, then you can pretty much guarantee it’s an abscess.

There is an awesome flow chart taking your right through how to diagnose an abscess, together with an in depth article all about abscesses in Issue 17 (see link below).

Should you call the vet?

Ok…well here we have an interesting situation. If a foot abscess is suspected what will your vet do? Vets are deemed to do something to aid the pain your horse is feeling – that’s why you called them right? This can range from painkillers such as Bute (nearly always Bute) to full on digging holes in your horse’s foot.

BIG WORD OF WARNING! Digging more holes into your horse’s foot to ‘find and release’ the pus can give your horse instant relief (if the pus is found and it often isn’t) BUT it can also cause far more problems than you bargained for in the long run….and this happens more then you can imagine!

The best and most amazing thing about foot abscesses in horses is that ALL horses can deal with them themselves. They can and WILL ALWAYS burst them eventually and another hole in the foot is just asking for more trouble and in MANY cases causes re-infection.

Myth Busting!! Does going barefoot cause foot abscesses?

NO! But all horses who transition to barefoot from shoes are at risk of getting foot abscesses as their foot heals because the shoeing has caused poor hoof health ranging from holes (yep those nail holes are a wonderful entry point for pathogens), cracks from contraction, and hiding all the other pathology which is due to dietary problems that were not that obvious when the horse was shod.

Will my horse get rid of the abscess on his own?

Well because mother nature is actually really quite awesome, all your horse needs is the following few things to get rid of his abscess:

– Movement – do not confine your horse…even if it is on 3 legs!

– Company – please let your horse stay with his buddy, it’s very important to healing

– 24/7 Forage – lots of good mixed meadow hay to keep that gut in good condition, remove all sugars – if your horse is loving his grass or molassed licks or molassed feed – then REMOVE IT because that does the opposite of keeping the gut in a good condition, it plays havoc and causes gut problems and that has a knock on effect to the healing of the foot.

A horse is more than capable of bursting his own abscess. Yes you want to take the pain away but digging holes and intervention is simply not the most prudent way of going about getting rid of it. Many vets are now beginning to understand this and if they are called many won’t dig….truly it’s not great, it leaves you with a big or bigger hole in your horse’s foot…a bigger hole in your bank balance and the very REAL possibility of your horse re-infecting and suffering months from recurrent abscessing and all the problems that go with that.

Look to your diet and management. If your horse is getting abscesses the diet and the management are nearly always at the bottom of it…with the exception of the horse standing on a foreign object!

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, system-ui, ‘.SFNSText-Regular’, sans-serif; color: #1d2129; font-size: 14px;”>Do go check out Issue 17, Trimmer’s Tips, all about hoof abscesses.


Happy sound horse day!

The BHM Team

What’s in Issue 20?

Issue 20 is another fantastic issue packed full of articles, education and information. Here’s a run down of what to expect in Issue 20:

  • The World Bitless Association – normalising modern bitless bridles
  • Can you jump in boots? Q&A with Scoot Boots and 3 top competitors
  • Cavallo World Exclusive – what is going on between Cavallo & Emma Massingale?
  • Rehab the Right Way with trainer Richard Greer
  • The Gut Microbiome – find out everything you need to know!
  • Can horse’s suffer from PTSD?
  • Interview with Munchkins Miniature Shetland Rescue
  • The Pitter Patter of tiny hooves with trimmer Catherine Bradley
  • Crunch the trail blazer for the CLB Bling Boots
  • Turbo the Horse that Saved Me

Phew! Don’t miss it!!

Available to buy in PRINT & ONLINE.

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If you have a horse, you’ve heard of LAMINITIS

If you have a horse, you’ve heard of LAMINITIS. It’s a topic we talk about a lot in the magazine and for very good reason. Laminitis and colic are the two main causes of equine demise across the globe.

Whether you have a barefoot or shod horse, laminitis is never far from the minds and concerns of every horse owner I have ever met. We all have a pretty good idea that we mustn’t feed too much grass, or too much sweet feed but do we all know how to recognise those subtle signs of when too much is just too much?

It’s a sad fact that many horses and ponies spend their lives ping ponging in & out of mild to serious discomfort without their owners realising the root cause and how to fix it. If the horse is footy, it’s blamed on poor breeding, weak feet, feet wearing away…rather than something as ‘serious’ as laminitis. Acute laminitis is usually quite easy to spot – horse is stiff, has difficulty moving, is sweating up, might be lying down a lot…and that’s often before anything was ever noticed going on in the feet.

But it’s the low grade chronic symptoms of laminitis which are often missed. Early warning signs not to be ignored, if you only knew what to look for. We listen to professionals who we trust and tell us that “no way your horse is fine it’s not lamintiic, it just has to wear shoes because it’s feet are rubbish AND you’re doing too many miles a week to even be feasible for barefoot”. Well of course many discerning owners know that is simply a fallacy, but how many owners can truly say they know the signs and symptoms of low grade laminitis and what to do about it?

Well here at the BH Mag we offer advice

, support, education and real life case studies from specialists at the rock face to owner’s sharing their stories of how they brought their horse back from a dire prognosis.

It’s all here across many issues of the mag. Click on SEARCH at the top of our this website and type in laminitis, you will be shown a list of all the issues where that topic appears…and you can do that for any topic such as NAVICULAR, HOOF BOOTS and DIET, to name but 3.

In Issue 19 we have an excellent article by barefoot specialists Hoofing Marvellous who talk about the link between diet and laminitis, one of THE most important links of all.

So if you are an owner struggling to find out how others coped, here is a link to Issue 19 and don’t forget to do that smart search to find out which other issues the subject of laminitis appears in.

The video below is of a beatufil brave horse called Duncan, who was diagnosed just over a year ago with acute laminitis, was shod and had been out on loan…then things went from bad to worse. NOT one vet believed he could recover, but with faith, determination and the right support, owner Jo & trimmer Emma pulled him through and just look at him today. Read his story in an upcoming issue very soon. The vid is tough to watch at the beginning but just look what happens in the end!

Don’t let laminitis be the end for your horse!



, Editor

Issue 14 – Understanding your horse’s hoof – HOOF CRACKS

In every issue of the magazine we have a section called Trimmer’s Tips brought to you by our resident barefoot hoof care specialists Hoofing Marvellous

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, where every aspect of the hoof is discussed to help owners really understand their horse’s hooves.

In Issue 14, HM go to town on everything to do with hoof cracks, with some amazing photographs of real case studies and really in depth analysis of those pesky cracks. Here are some of the questions HM answer in the article:

Where do hoof cracks usually happen?
What causes superficial or partial thickness hoof cracks?
What causes full thickness hoof cracks?
Does shoeing make hoof cracks worse?
Can full thickness cracks cause pain?
What can you do if your horse has hoof cracks?

So if your horse suffers from hoof cracks that you absolutely don’t seem to be getting on top of, perhaps you’ve tried more traditional methods (also discussed in the article) but to no avail, then reading this article is a must and will get you and your horse swiftly onto the road of recovery.

Here’s a link to Issue 14

This issue is still available in print and online too.


Go get those hoof cracks under control folks!


, Editor

What’s In Issue 19 – Video

If you still don’t know whether to buy the mag, then CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO ‘What’s in Issue 19’ by our Editor Lindsay Setchell.

People are really loving the magazine here’s a couple of recommendations we’ve had this week…

Barbara: Just started getting the digital editions. Thought at the intro price if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be out much. Read the current edition

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, and am now going back to start with #1 and work my way through them. Great magazine!!! Thanks!!

Valery: I’ve had barefoot horses for 10+ years, and felt this magazine might be preaching to the choir. IT’S NOT IN THE LEAST! Just received my first issue and am happily impressed. Great value, great information and no regrets for subscribing. Do yourself and your horse a favour and look into this publication.  I couldn’t find a star emoji so give it 5 thumbs up!

Awww shucks thanks ladies ❤️

Here’s the link direct to Issue 19

Of course all our mags are available ONLINE always whether they have run out of print or not, so you’ll still be able to catch up.


Happy barefoot reading!

The BHM Team

If you ride without a safety helmet does it mean you really are at greater risk of brain injury from a fall

Some German scientists have now been able to put actual significant figures & evidence forward & concluded horse riders’ brain injury risk is “5-fold higher” without a helmet:

We ran an article in Issue 14 by a group from the US called Helmet Tough

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, who were raising awareness for increased potential brain injury caused by riders not wearing helmets & preferring to wear more traditional ‘Cowboy Hats’.

Dawn Champion who is on the cover of  Issue 19 with her horse Lasair, wears a riding helmet with a visor around it, which gives the rider more of a Western look without compromising on safety.

Always better to be safer than sorry!


Happy hard hatting!
The BHM Team

Issue 17 Winter 2018 – Caio’s story, beating laminitis the Natural Wa

One of the best LAMINITIS case studies we have seen in a very long time is the one about a horse called Caio, a 9 year old Anglo Arab, who had lived and competed in Portugal as an Endurance horse, until moving to Dubai, UAE with his owner Anna.

His case was an extreme example of a horse who was let down by conventional treatment and was facing a very bleak future, until his owner met Natural Hoof Care Practitioner Jan Brooksbank – then Caio’s luck finally changed.

When we feature articles like this, there is nearly always a recurrent theme running through them. When the diagnosis of laminitis is finally given (and sometimes it can take several tests before diagnosis due to lack of knowledge on this subject), all kinds of treatments are used, always ranging from box rest, remedial shoeing (of all shapes and sizes and contraptions)

, drugs by the plenty and sometimes hospitalisation but nearly always isolation.

Well Caio was no different and in the article Jan gives us a timeline of how long it took to heal him once all the conventional treatment had stopped. With some shocking photos of before and after, it is an inspirational read for anyone interested in the subject and wanting some positive and uplifting information.

The picture shows one of Caio’s hooves

, with the toe ‘relieved’ to expose the damaged laminae in a reverse wedged shoe – needless to say this was just one conventional attempt at trying to help Caio which of course didn’t work and the professionals then moved onto even more elaborate contraptions.

This article is a stark reminder that laminitis and it’s effective treatment is so incredibly misunderstood and is one of the main reasons that many horses never make it as far as Caio did…even though his journey was a tough one, his owner never gave up once they could see him starting to improve.

If you want to read this fascinating story, then it’s in Issue 17.

Still available in Print & Online.

Coming up soon in a future issue, we are going to feature the story of Duncan, who some of you have already met in a video we posted up a few days ago. If you haven’t seen the video of Duncan yet, check back a few posts and you will find it. His story is another extreme case of a horse being let down by conventional treatment, until his owner met the right team of people who could guide her to bring Duncan back to health again. Not to be missed, watch this space for more info on the release of that article.

Don’t let laminitis be the end for your horse!

The BHM Team