Welcome to The Equinist

Welcome to "The Equinist", the blog of equine journalist, author, photographer and horse trainer, Susan Kauffmann. Susan's many articles have been featured in such publications as EQUUS, Trail Blazer, HorseCare, and Western Horse Review, for whom she has also served as Health Editor. In addition, Susan has written content for equine-related courses for Michigan State University's MSU Global program, she presents educational seminars for horse owners, and her reference guide to the equine hoof, The Essential Hoof Book , was released to widespread acclaim in September of 2017. If you would like to see some of Susan's equine photography, please visit: and I love writing for horse magazines and feel extremely privileged to do so. However, it has always frustrated me that once an issue is off the shelf, people no longer have easy access to the information in the articles. It is also frustrating at tim
The Essential Hoof Book :  The Reviews are IN! I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the many publications and individuals who have taken the time to review  The Essential Hoof Book. While we certainly hoped it would be a success, the positive feedback has been truly overwhelming! Here are a few of the things people are saying about The Essential Hoof Book : From the American Farriers Journal:  The Essential Hoof Book  was written for the horse owner. However, the information and photographs that are used in this book to explain the concepts and goals in properly balancing the foot would be beneficial to any hoof-care professional. This is an excellent book for educating the public, well-written with exceptional photographs and illustrations. From Dr. Debra Taylor , Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Auburn:  This book is absolutely AMAZING!!! Wow! Great work! It will be required reading for our students!  

Major Minerals: A Balancing Act

MAJOR MINERALS: A BALANCING ACT By Susan Kauffmann With special thanks to Dr. Eleanor Kellon             Most horse owners are aware that minerals are an important part of a horse’s diet.   Some of us try to address this with mineralized salt blocks, supplements or “balanced” feeds, while others believe that a horse will get all the minerals it needs from pasture and/or good quality hay.   Who is right?   Well, like everything else in the horse world, it depends on who you talk to.   The gold standard for the mineral requirements of horses has long been the National Research Council guidelines, but some researchers and equine nutritionists now feel that these guidelines, published in 1989, are out of date and in need of adjustment.   Some recommend feeding as much as two times the NRC requirements or even more, yet many prefer to stick with the current recommendations, pointing out that there is simply not enough data to support radical changes.               Things b

Hind End Hitch

While there are any number of ailments and injuries that can cause a horse to “go off” behind, some neurological and mechanical problems create specific abnormalities of movement you can learn to distinguish – if you know what to look for. The following guide will help you recognize the abnormalities caused by three ailments often mistaken for one another: upward fixation of the patella (UFP), shivers, and stringhalt. I’ve even included video links so that you can check out the differences for yourself! UPWARD FIXATION OF THE PATELLA Incidence: Fairly common Etiology: Mechanical, possibly linked to conformation in some cases Breeds affected: Any What it is: When in a standing position, the horse has the ability to temporarily “lock” or fixate its stifle joints, allowing the horse to stand and even sleep standing up with minimal muscular exertion.   The joint locks when the patella (knee cap) slides into the upward position, and the medial patellar li

Genetic Diseases in Horses: HYPP, HERDA, GBED, SCID, OLWS

Genetic Disease Primer             The birth of a foal is usually a joyous occasion, carrying with it the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the breeder and the future owner. Reputable breeders therefore put a great deal of effort into matching the right mare to the right stallion, in hopes of creating a foal that will have the qualities most desired in the breed. Unfortunately, that desire to perpetuate certain characteristics, coupled with the tendency to breed as many foals as possible out of horses that have those characteristics, has led to the proliferation of a number of heritable diseases that have very serious consequences. Although the science of genetics has helped us to understand why these diseases occur, and in some cases, provided us with tests to identify carriers, it is up to the horse owning public – especially those involved in breeding – to try to make these devastating diseases a thing of the past.   Here is a run-down of five genetic diseases you need to kno

SLOW FEEDING: How getting closer to nature can make your horse -- and your wallet -- happier and healthier

In recent years, many people have started to discover that a diet closer to what horses eat in the wild – mostly forage with little or no grain – can have great health benefits, including a lower incidence of gastric ulcers and colic. However, it turns out that how wild horses eat may be just as important as what they eat. Proponents of “slow feeding” – using feeders that cause the horse to consume their hay more slowly – believe that this practice has many benefits – for both horses and owners.                  Studies of horses living in natural environments have revealed that horses generally graze up to 16 hours a day, rarely going without eating for more than a few hours at a time. As native grasses tend to be relatively sparse, free-living horses often get only a few blades of grass before they must walk to the next little mouthful. This type of grazing takes time, providing a small but steady intake of food – which is exactly what the horse’s digestive system is designe