My three horse "philosophies" that I feel most strongly about are:
- Young horses should be turned out as much as possible and with other horses to facilitate proper development before training.
- Keeping horses barefoot is best, if it works to the horses benefit (considering confirmation, any existing problems, training level etc.)
- View on diet supplements - I believe in minimal supplementation and training "from the field" if at all possible.
Bromiley shares my philosophies so I felt confident in reading the book and considering her opinions.....
Now I have to share a pet peeve of mine.......claims without substantiation or minimal/limited research. I think this is even more true of claims which contradict long held beliefs or traditions. In that instance, the evidence should be even more overwhelming in order for me to go against what has long been held as true.
I do not necessarily expect it on a blog, however in a book as technical as this one, I expect statements that contradict or are not widely held, to be backed up by cited References. This book does not have a reference section.
Bromiley makes several assumptions in the diet section of Fit to Ride that I would like to see references on.
- One anecdotal story is provided, as well as the generalization that New Zealand horses excel in eventing (as compared to other countries) because of the practice of training and competing "from the field".
- She claims that a horse is unlikely to be offered a selenium deficient diet because crops don't grow as successfully in a selenium deficient area (the assumption being that those crops won't make it into the feed supply?)
- Food produced by intensive chemical cultivation is less balanced than that from "natural sources". Her only justification for this statement is "This is demonstrated by the current trend towards organic production."
Warning: Major Digression
I will admit that I am more likely to be picky in the discussion of diets (both human and animal) than any other management subject. I've been accused of becoming defensive of the current food industry because of my current career, but the truth is, I am frustrated by the amount of unsubstantiated claims related to nutrition and the apparent lack of critical thinking skills people chose to exercise on the subject. I feel that less is known about nutrition than almost any other biological science, and as the subject and research progresses we will look back and laugh on our current archaic understanding. In the meantime, can we all agree that nutrition is a (for the most part) inexact science right now and not make wild, unsubstantiated claims? Please differentiate between science that is statistically valid because it is of an appropriate sample size, from that information which may be breakthrough-exciting, but needs further research to prove it's validity. It's perfectly fine to discuss and make conjunctures, but let's restrain ourselves from putting it in the same category of those facts that have proved consistent through many years of research.....
End of Digression
However, for the most part Bromiley "rings true", even if (in my opinion) the book would be improved by references and avoiding statements like:
"Nothing beats an expert's eye" in reference to weighing a horse....
- WHAT!!!!!! Ummmm....I'm sorry but all my life I've been told that nothing beats using a body score conditioning, and a scale. I think it would have been much more appropriate to say "Nothing beats a hands on evaluation by an expert, combined with a body condition score and access to a scale".
Next: On to the good parts! What I learned on equine conditioning