The Horse: Top 10 Horse Health Articles of 2012's most popular article of 2012 dealt with exercises to strengthen the equine back muscles.

Photo: Adam Spradling/The Horse

With 2012 now in the past and a whole new year of horse health news and articles ahead, the staff at took a few moments to tally our top 10 most popular articles of 2012. Covering a variety of topics related to horse health, the following articles received the most views of all the articles published last year on

Exercises to Strengthen Equine Back Muscles, Reduce Pain
Common sense says it's better to prevent back pain than to treat the back after it starts to hurt. Now it appears there could be an effective way to do this for our horses through simple, but specific, exercises. According to one researcher, strengthening a horse's multifidus muscle through a short-term physiotherapeutic exercise program could yield long-term benefits in preventing equine back pain.

The Equine Mind: Top 10 Things to Know 
Even though we don't always understand equine behavior, there's got to be a reason behind it, right? Absolutely. Horses' behaviors date back to equine evolution, and horse owners greatly benefit from understanding what goes on in a horse's brain, according to one veterinarian, who relayed the top 10 things horse owners, caretakers, and riders should understand about how the equine mind functions.

Cold Weather Colic 
Well here we are again ... winter! The average horse owner is likely well-acquainted with his or her horse's colic risk regardless of the season, but with cold weather come complicating factors that all owners should prepare for.

Cost-Efficient Feeding 
We all know the importance of a well-balanced diet to our horses' overall health. However, how we reach that point of balance can vary greatly and can impact our pocketbooks significantly. In general, if we are willing to put in the extra little legwork, we (and our horses) might get significantly more out of our feed and, perhaps, even save some money in the process.

Skinny Horse Help
Veterinarians and nutritionists are often approached by owners of thin horses concerned about their charges. Many times these were simply owners of older or athletic horses with problems maintaining body weight. In this article we will explore some of the most commonly asked questions about how to manage "skinny" horses.

Recognize Insulin Resistance before Laminitis Onset 
Early detection and intervention are key to managing any disease process. With laminitis, picking up on the subtle signs of hyperinsulinemia (high levels of insulin in the blood resulting from insulin resistance) before the horse suffers a serious laminitic event is one way caretakers and veterinarians can try to halt the hoof disease in its tracks.

Physical Therapy for Stifle Problems in Horses (AAEP 2011)
Many horses struggle with stifle dysfunction due to injury, surgery, immobility, or disease. Here, one veterinarian describes her physical therapy approach for restoring strength and coordination to horses with intermittent upward fixation of the patella or other hind-limb weakness issues.

Spring Turnout Tips for Horses
As the seasons transition from winter to spring, it's time to start thinking about horses' nutritional needs, as well as changes in the forage available to horses grazing on pasture and an increased risk for some health conditions, including laminitis and insulin resistance, in horses on pasture. Here are some tips for turning your horses out on spring pasture safely.

Winterizing Horses
In northern regions winter generally is a time of slowed activity for both horse and rider, but attentiveness to horses' health and management is just as crucial during these chilly months as it is during the warmer ones. How should you prepare your horse so he will thrive in winter and emerge from it in robust condition, ready for a busy riding season? Here are some steps you can take to protect your horse's body systems.

Look Mom! No Shoes!
Just in time for winter--when many owners opt to pull their horses' shoes for the season--a team of researchers has released results from a study examining normal gaits' effects on hoof wear in barefoot horses.

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