Autumn-it brings many things,it signals the turn of the year and the sun begins to lose heat as it turns towards the other side of the earth. Meantime as the nights begin to get longer and the weather begins to get colder the conditions for our horses and dogs change.
Horses in particular experience a big change to their bodies.As early as the beginning of August nature readies the horses body for a transition. Their bodies release hormones so that coats can change from sleek to woolly as the weather changes from hot to cooler.
The reason I mention this is that the horses hormones do not just affect their coats they also affect their minds and how they react to the world around them. They become more difficult and less predictable, and this year has been particularly difficult in this respect. We have had one of the best summers for years and the horses really haven’t known quite what to do with the big change. Many have been lethargic and have had little energy for anything-particularly work. Others have been totally different and taken to spooky behaviours and charging about as it they were years younger. If you have a young horse this makes your job doubly difficult!
Grass has been growing too; once upon a time laminitis was really only a worry in the spring, and early summer, but over the last few years autumn has caused an outbreak of laminitic attacks. The rain and comparative warmth has tricked the grass into producing a flurry of growth which is always dangerous for both horses and ponies alike. Be very careful if your horse lives out all day and do careful checks at least twice a day to make sure that all is well with your horses health.
Other things to concern yourself with if you own a horse and he lives out at this time of year are to check that rain scold or rain rash has not taken hold. This occurs during warm moist conditions especially if horses are rugged up.
As far as dogs are concerned they are not unaffected either. They can suffer from coat changes as well, and hormones are also involved in this process. They may also suffer from the change in temperature; especially thin skinned breeds like greyhounds and the smaller breeds that have little or no body fat. There is a reason greyhounds are seen parading colourful coats even when it is really hot, and also again when it begins to get cold; they just don’t have the insulation that most other breeds have. If you see a greyhound wearing a coat when it is really hot, don’t be alarmed it will be doused with water in order to keep the dog cool. Coats are equally relevant when it is chilly too, and most greyhound owners develop a sense of humour once they have lived for an entire year with their dogs! Greyhounds are often seen wearing a variety of material and colours to keep them warm and dry, just like horses!
Bowen can help with all these changes, especially hormonal problems and it is also especially useful when helping dogs prepare for the most difficult time in a dogs calender-that of the firework season. For several years a few of my clients have had regular Bowen sessions for both dogs and horses (as firework phobia is not exclusively a canine problem). Bowen helps to calm anxiety and helps to reduce stress and can therefore be a positive help as long as the sessions are started early enough.
On the lighter side,puppies get a kick from the autumn. They have never before experienced the brisk feeling of the of the autumn and the cooler nights that accompany this big change and they just love the fall of leaves from the trees. It is a great time to let them explore and run wild, just letting them gambol about in heaps of leaves will make you appreciate how beautiful this time of year is. This is all very heady and exciting and yes might well signal a behaviour change.
Mental stimulation is a really important feature to include in your dogs life at this point in the year too, make use of old loo rolls by folding the corners down and enclosing treats inside or keep old cardboard boxes and wrap sausages up in smaller boxes inside. Dogs need to chance to use their brains as much as we do and as the weather gets less clement they might appreciate a night in rather than walking on a dark dreary night.
The lesson is not to be too hard on animals at this time of year-humans often experience SAD so we have no excuse for being hard on our animals if they seem to be developing odd behaviours.The summer to autumn change is nearly as significant as winter to spring. So watch, be aware and give them some slack if things are not as they were 2 weeks ago. We all have to learn to take these changes in our stride and give our animals the support they need.
More information about Bowen for horses and dogs can be found at http://www.horseandhoundschool.co.uk
Human Bowen information can be found on http://www.pennieclayton-bowentherapy.co.uk
Facts about laminitis.
Although laminitis can be the result of colics, foaling and toxic overload surveys show that 61% of cases that occur in equines kept at pasture.
“Grass laminitis” is caused by excessive intakes of sugar (soluble carbohydrates)
Starvation paddocks are not always safe for horses and ponies that have previously suffered from laminitis. Closely grazed and frosted grass can also cause laminitis because it is high in fructans (sugars), which pass undigested through the small intestine into the hindgut where they trigger a starch overload.