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Monday, September 30, 2013


Sounds hard, but is really easy!

Where do you get your hay?

Does your supplier know and tell you EXACTLY where it comes from?
Does your supplier have several suppliers.  If so is he going to tell you when hay has changed so you can slowly change it for your horse?

If you get it out of the pasture do you know how it treated?
Meaning how was it fertilized ?  
Was it treated with a broad leaf weed killer?
If not how are the weeds kept out of the pasture?

What is in your hay?  Most hay has trash, stems, weeds etc... It is your responsibility to know what is in it.

Do you just go on what ever the pasture owner, or supplier tells you?
How well do you trust them with the health of your horse?

How do you keep your hay?  How much hay will you keep at one time?
How do you Stack your hay?   At what point do you go get more?
Do you allow it to have circulating air? meaning it is not against anything top or sides...

Hay has to be checked for mold.
Hay has to be checked for weeds.
Hay has to be checked for dead animals caught up in the bail.  ....

For Starters if you can't answer ALL the questions above you are not protecting your horse and not doing yourself any favors in the long run.  You are more likely causing yourself issues you can't pin point, solve, resolve, and lots of vet bills for seemingly no reason.  It is likely your HAY!!!

Secondly do you know what blister beetles are? if so are you in an area they live? If so is your hay guaranteed blister beetles free?

Horses SHOULD NOT eat a round bail! Because a round bail encourages the horse to eat into a hole the size of their snout (nose) which is only going to cause breathing issues in the long run.   Not to forget Horses and Cattle do NOT eat the same type of hay.  IF you have both it is a TOTALLY different type of hay... Round bails/ Cattle hay is "generally" bailed faster, not allowed to dry as long and has likely "pickled" for the same reasons.  A cow has several stomachs and can eat moldy, pickled hay and a horse can not.  It will cause a high temperature, breathing issues, colic, and commonly botulism; of which is little to no cure in a horse!   Thus simply put a round bail is more likely to kill your horse!

Hay done simple is grass hay... and it should smell like freshly cut yard!   Yep! it should be pleasant to smell, not dusty, not old looking or smelling in ANY WAY.

Grass hay is only an issue when you have a mare that is carrying a foal.  Fescue is deadly to a foal! Fescue is actually not good for any horse, and is commonly a building reason for laminitis...so slowly it is not something you see. ( laminitis is another chapter)  just know the poisons in fescue most quickly effect the development of a foal and those same poisons build up in the horse over time.  But it is the most common south eastern grass and hard to keep out of any pasture, and most vets tend to give it no concern because it is so abundant but if you are breeding it is a major issue.

Orchard...  are typical in the south east (where I am)
I keep timothy, orchard, clover, and alfalfa in my pasture.  (Pasture another chapter)

I get grass hay from my area! it is Timothy and Orchard.  I purchased a core rod from Tractor supply years ago, I have no idea if they still carry them.  Farm Supply catalog has them.  I core 1 of 50 bails of hay and take the cores to the County Extension office and pay for analysis of my hay, along with poop samples for worms.   ( worms and poop yet another chapter)

YES!!!!! I have never understood why Cattle owners do this but most Horse owners don't! 
I do... and it pays off!  There is little to no selenium  in my area so while most horse feeds have it as an additive non has enough.  So I add it with vitamin E to both of my horses feed.  Most vets do not test horses for mineral or vitamin deficiencies so it is up to you to do your own homework, you don't just start adding things because the simpler the better! the better the cheaper in the long run is important!

Yes I trust my guy/ supplier...but ...  I know exactly what fields my hay comes from , what he uses, when he uses it etc... He treated his hay one year and I did not purchase it that year.  I had to use my back up plan.  You always need a back up plan!

I supplement my hay with hay stretcher (for one horse) and Alfalfa cubes (again only one horse)
I will go into both of these in the feed chapter as I use processed hay stretcher and alfalfa that need prep!

Are you aware your horse should consume up to 20 % of its weight in hay alone?
So if your horse weighs 1000 pounds you are going to feed him 20 pounds A DAY!  grass hay weighs less than other types thus it may take more than you think a day to keep your horse maintained.  There is after all a healthy weight for each horse and fatter is NOT better! It is a daily, weekly, seasonal balance.    I do tend to feed my horses MORE hay in the fall to stock up on fat for winter... and yet again even MORE hay in the winter so they are warmer in the cold, thus mine get more hay at night than they do in the morning during COLD months.

Horses get their heat from their hay, not their feed! For some reason many think feed is the source of warmth when it is not. 

So what have I left out?
do tell!


Sunday, September 29, 2013

How much land is needed for a horse?

I recently got a text asking how much land does a horse need?

The only correct answer is... as much as you can afford and manage properly.

Really the only time a specific amount of pasture is required is when you adopt a horse, or wild mustang!   The government does put a minimal of two acres per horse as a requirement.  Adoption centers have the right to see if you place is what the animal needs as well.  2 acres can be divided into four small paddocks and rotated daily or weekly depending on the type of grass you have growing AND the time of year!

Well... I have 6 acres, not even 1/2 of it accessed by the horses.
It all depends on how you plan to keep your horse.

Is the horse used to being stalled?
          If so then your stalls are going to more important than pasture.
          If so then you could literally have a horse and only have enough pasture, flat land, ground to exercise your horse.  so ... a round pen would even do it if you had to, if you wanted to!

(I could manage Sweet Pea on a 30 x 30 pieces of ground if I needed to!)
The issue with no pasture is... pasture cuts down on some of your bills!
As you are going to feed more hay to a horse with no pasture.
BUT in the same line of information... a horse can get "grass sick"

Is your horse used to being out in the pasture?
          I know it all sounds crazy but really!  My horses do NOT have access to pasture everyday all day.  My horses are only allowed on grass just before they get their feed.  This way it gives me time to prepare their feed requirements, it also allows me to watch their gate as they move on to the pasture.  I also know what and where their calories, heat, and needs are being fulfilled.

Does the horse have medical issues that need to be taken into consideration?
          Navarre can not be stalled or have unlimited grass access; and when I stall Sweet Pea he stands right next to the stall not leaving her side for more than a few minutes at a time.  So stalling my mare causes me issues with my gelding.  Who would have figured that one?   As I type this they only have about half an acre to run around on, this is as small as I can restrain Navarre, any smaller I may as well have him stalled and dealing with the issues it causes.

Is your horse used to the grass you do have in your pasture?  
Any change in grass, hay or feed can cause a colic / intestinal issue. 
A horse left to pasture and not managed with feed, or hay as well as pasture can get "grass sick" meaning... it eats nothing but grass but the grass doesn't supply all the needs of the horse.  And believe it or not this can happen easier than you think,

(I have TWO acres for BOTH horses to share! and as today 1/2 of that is pasture that is ALMOST perfect, but needs to be sprayed with wide leaf killer as soon as I can.    And the ONE acre I have as a mud lot is now divided in two as well.

I have put up a tape electric fence to keep them out while rain, dew, and time start to sprout out with all the rye, wheat, clover, orchard and timothy grass.  As soon as they get a LITTLE established this will allow me to open it before I feed them allowing the broad leaf spray long enough to ? go less harmful through their poop.   (a horse gets sick eating too much rye)  I planted the rye just to get the ground to start holding seed instead of everything washing away with a simple sprinkle. 

I do NOT allow my horses on a good pasture if it is raining!
     WHY?  because they will destroy the grass when they are running around!

You can't use poop in the compost once a broad leaf spray has been put on the pasture.  YES the label says they are able to start eating on it in less than a week.  But studies have shown it is NOT true and if but back on the pasture too soon your compost will be a killer for any food you try to grow in it, as food is all broad leaf and not able to get hold...

So I'll open the seeded area!
Spray the pasture... and keep them off it for at least a month!  Which is my plan as soon as I can.

Friday, September 27, 2013

typical day.

Today was just a typical day.

Drive to the barn... walk through the pasture to allow the horse out on pasture; leaving the pasture gate open while I prepare their feed.

Put water in their feed buckets... 5 seconds for Navarre's bucket, and 7 for Sweet Pea's.  allow the water to continue to run while I dig out the feed.
One cup of wellfeed for Navarre, with rice bran fat solids,  Vitamin E without selenium, feed through fly control, and his necessary electrolytes.
One cup of hay stretcher, rice bran fat solids, then low carb feed for Sweet Pea along with some electrolytes (not as much as his), feed through fly control, and hard keeper/weight gain additive. 

I allow all those to sit in the water... expand and go mushy ... as I put out a little bit of hay.  I only give them 1/3 of a bail of hay in the summer.  I have expanded it to 1/2 a bail due to the colder temperatures setting in. 

In the wet of the winter I put their hay in a container.... in the summer I spread it out everyday in a new place to help seed the mud lot as times goes on.

So... Everything went like clock work this morning!  DONE...
I get to the barn tonight and Navarre has PURPLE on it butt?
My gates are red and they are not going to fade into something with more blue!  What in the world?
I walk the fence after throwing out the hay!
I found it! ....

Of course I was going to clean these up as soon as I got 2 days off in a row.
They have to be cleaned out, killed, burned etc... as they are poisonous to the horses!
There are two of these bushes I have to get pulled up and taken care of ASAP... So I guess this is what I will be doing Sunday! .... only a few hours away...

My night plan is just about the same minus all the extras... just feed and hay!

At any rate found, plan made and the day ended up pretty well!
The end of a day walking back down the rock steps to the car instead of through the pasture!
a good day!
Typical... in that there is always something unexpected that is going to happen!

My love to the world...

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Both the horses seem happy to be out in the pasture. Grazing on wet grass from recent rains, with no sun today it kept them cool and alert for my driving up to the barn.  They ran to the gate and were pacing before I could get it open.

As I always do. I leaned on sweet pea put my cheek on her shoulder to take in a good whif of horse and she hugged me back dripping oil and soggy feed in her mouth. 
 All I could was kiss her and walk off.   She was just loving me back..... but on a good work shirt of all things. It was another wet day but a good one all the same.

Composting from the barn

Composting from the barn is probably one of the easiest things you can do.

After all if you are stalling a horse you have WET contents POOP and PEE as well as DRY contents being the shavings AND left over hay pieces.

I tend to have more WET than I do dry... BUT my positive is I have tons of trees thus I end up with SO MANY leaves this is the perfect balance to the poop and pee I am layering on the pile everyday.

There are TWO major issues with horse poop, and you will have to make sure to manage them properly!  Weed seeds are prevalent in the poop AND there can be a lot of salt in horse poop!  You will want to test your compost to make sure all is well before using it.  I tend to layer poop, leaves, coffee and egg shells (from home) and even some limestone if I can. 

Compost takes time and can have its problems, it must be turned each month all summer.
It can have too much water or too little.
It can also not allow new seeds to grow.  This is going to happen if your hay field was treated with a broad spectrum weed killer.  This can linger for years and can create issues on your property.  So much like your own food you need to know where your hay came from and how it was maintained.
If you have a lot of weeds growing in your compost it may not get enough sun for a long enough time to heat to a sufficient temperature to kill the weed seeds. 
One of the largest mistakes made new comers to compost is not allowing good drainage in the compost pile.

Compost if done correctly can attract the best of worms to quicken your decay process.
if done correctly this compost will be dark, fertile, and ready to use the next year from start to finish.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A good end to a messy day

No words....

FLY control is very important!

Fly control!
Why worry about it?
Because flies lay eggs and horses ingest them creating havoc on their gut, in wounds; costing us more in vet bills, special feeds, and a shorter quality of life for your horse. 

Like your stall base and bedding choices, there are several types of fly control.

1. Basic is fly predators, these are TINY flies that eat regular fly larva before they hatch.  These are great IF everyone around you uses them too! Flies will travel up to TWO MILES so if anyone uses something else they will never work perfectly unless you own hundreds of acres and order more than needed each month.  These are delivered to your door through the mail, and you toss them out as soon as they arrive.  They are not sent during winter but a mild winter may not kill all your fly larva either.  These are noninvasive predators that travel shorter distances that a fly thus MORE than deemed necessary may be required.

2. Feed through fly deterrent.   These are chemicals you feed your horse that is suppose to be harmless as it is not absorbed by the stomach or intestines and stays in the feces of the horse NOT allowing the larva to fully develop THUS not adding the fly population.  NOTE... these will keep fly predators from being able to hatch as well so you can not use BOTH types of control or you will be killing your predators you paid for!   The good thing is this works great if you can not control the fly control outside your property.  Like neighboring cattle or other horses not being protected with fly control.

3. Fly deterring applications on the horse.  I normally use a natural fly spray to spray down my horses legs, tails, and face.  I use a marigold spray for really bad days where knatts and flies are bothering my horses.  I use a bright PINK swat product for any cuts, scrapes, or open wounds so flies do not lay eggs in them causing infection, delayed healing, or worse scars. I use the bright color so I can see it from a distance if it needs to be reapplied.  This deterrent will not kill flies so it does little to nothing in the long run. 

4. Barn fly deterrents...   I use everything!  meaning I hang fly bags... yes they actually make bags that smell like rotting flesh that will attract, trap and eventually the fly dies in the bag.  I hang two to four of these in the barn rafters each year and throw them away once they are full.  I also use fly tapes and throw them away and replace them as needed.  AND again I use the pine sol cleaner even in the over hang area merely because it keeps flies away.    I DREAM of a day I have an actual barn system.  This is a misting system that you control the number of mist per hour and length of spray in and throughout your barn area.  It is an expensive system, requires up keep and replacement parts but once in place if you stall your horses 24 / 7 this system is almost all you need to keep flies from your barn.  Sold in Farm Tek  and other supply catalogs.

We all know I just had the vet out to my place and even he and his assistant commented on how fly free my barn was.  I use the feed through chemicals and physical natural sprays, along with bags and tapes and my system works really well for me.  My horses have not had bots in years, and with a Vanner this can be a challenge!

You are going to attract flies into your barn if you do not clean up and out any hay that has any moisture.  Meaning any scraps your horse dropped and didn't eat.  Or any hay left over that simply attracted moisture from the air.  Hay creates a prefect environment for flies even if there is no poop in the stall, a disheveled stall, strewn with hay will cause you problems.

Start of day

This is how the day started @ the barn

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

a good ride.

A perfect ride to end a great day.
I took Navarre out on the road today. 
1.  I ask that we only walk.... I rarely allow him to go much faster...
2. I have STREET shoes on him with borium nails for grip
3. Completely poured front shoes! so the pounding doesn't cause his coffin to fall (like your arch)

A simple large silver bit.
and a bare back pad.
So not a lot of gear.

He was hot and sweaty when we returned, as he insisted on a trot on the way home thus he was walking in circles quite a bit till his count was 4 again.

With each 2 count I turned him left or right working his hind end harder than enjoyable.

I took this photo.  Took off his bridal walked into the stall got down one bail of hay cut two strings and found THIS!

one more with his head in it!!!!!

he was a pill!

I got home and my sweet husband ask how my ride was.
Then there was little else I could say and sound sane.  How do you tell your husband who doesn't like horses! It was perfect! It was just what I needed, exciting because of all the cars trucks and a moving truck going up and down the mountain, but my little boy never flinched!  It was incredible because we were in perfect step with each other, great cross overs, wonderful response to leg, and I barely had to get into his mouth!  As if any of that would make sense at all to someone who cares less about what leg is where, how easy a signal is given and how smooth the follow through was.

Now ...
After all my perfect memories...
I have to worry about how stiff he may be tomorrow.
How much oil I should give him.
If I should double up his Vit.E...
Or worse if I should take drugs to the barn with me in the morning just incase he is REALLY stiff and about to tie up from all the hind end work I made him do today.  Not to mention the 9% grade of mountain up and down!

My ride was perfect!
My to do list may be longer tomorrow because of it! But is was ALL WORTH IT!

My love to the world
ONE small white spot left!

The smell of a stall.

I don't care who you are! What you do!  But no different than second hand smoke the ammonia from your horses pee can be overwhelming to us; it is slow but deadly to a horse.

A horse doesn't have the hairy lining to their lungs and often end up with ammonia and dust damage to their lungs if boarded inside a place that is not kept perfectly.

As mentioned earlier, Pine Sol is a name brand but any Pine smell cleaning agent not only helps to disinfect your stall it assist in keeping flies out.  This is a positive for everyone!

Your stall should smell fresh Pine like as your shavings should be pine... but not cedar! 

Like I said in an earlier post!  Don't put your horse in a cleaned stall that you wouldn't sleep in yourself! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

How to I clean a stall?

Well I do everything in a very specific manner.
My thing is... I'm not going to make my horse sleep in a stall I wouldn't sleep in with him!
So all the smells and moisture have to go!

1st thing is I try to evaluate the stall before I go poking around in it!
2nd thing... Is I try to create clear areas for piles.  There are always THREE Piles I make.
     a. First pile is for "perfect" shavings.   These shaving have never see anything from the inside of  a horse.  These and what ever new shavings I need to replace are always put on TOP!
     b. Second pile is for "questionable"  shavings.   These are in the middle when put back together.  These are clean but no longer perfectly fluffy, large, or pretty.
     c. and Third pile is for sifting.   And this pile is the kind of wet but still usable shavings that will ALWAYS go on the bottom of the stall so to be used completely and thrown into compost on the next cleaning.
          YES sifting!   If you create a tall centered cone or pyramid shape pile your dry poop is more likely to .... roll.... down the side where you can throw it out! and save the rest for the bottom of the pile.
see all the different piles!  And I was no where near being done.  This stall keeps about 6 to 8 bags of shavings due to our wet weather AND this horse has dermatitis... he is older... also has PPSM... and MUST be kept dry and comfortable at all times.

As you get better and better at cleaning a stall you can feel by the weight of the fork if you have "wet" materials in your fork full of shavings.   (unless your horse is a grinder... which is another story all together, and I feel for you ... because I have had them! They are TOUGH to put it nicely.)   

3rd thing is most horses have a specific pattern they abide by.  As with any other animal they do not necessarily like to sleep where they crap.  So learning where your horse poops, pees, and sleeps is one of your best tools for cleaning. 

Shavings are going to be more WET on the bottom no matter what your stall floor is made of.
So clearing off the top of shavings is saving shavings for later.

I know how many poop and pee piles I should find. How large they should be; and I use this information to assist in gauging how my horse is drinking and eating. 

REMINDER... I have stall mats in my stalls

This is one of my stalls.  I keep it swept daily even if no horse was kept in it.  As you can see there are feed bowls in a corner!  I always keep one corner specifically for Feed, another for water etc.... These feed buckets (a basic from Tractor Supply) are in a TIRE!!!!! yes... somehow my husbands front of his K1200S is the perfect size to use so Navarre can not turn over his feed bowl pawing at it when it gets low.
So.. as I get to the wet areas... I broom them into the shovel, sprinkle in some pinesol (full strength) which by the way also helps with FLIES as flies can not stand the smell either) Then I put down a horse feed scoop of pellets and then back to more shavings.  When I am done all you see is shavings and this way I get clumps like cat litter when they pea!   As stated earlier the pellets also help keep down the smell of ammonia.  OH yes... if you have a cat inside... this horse pellets are CHEAPER than the natural pine cat litter you get everywhere else.  This will save you money in your cat box too!
HINT... if you do not clean well enough you are going to get shavings with RED on them that almost appears to look like blood.  This is bacteria and a natural process found in the summer! but it must be removed so not to effect the health of the horse. 
HINT... I also know ... up north where it stays very cold all winter I have known some people to literally leave all the pee  and wet shavings in the stall rarely cleaning it out as this degrading process starts to create its own heat as it breaks down the pellets OR shavings!   This is NOT something you can do with a padded stall as the ammonia built up gets dangerous for your horse to breath.  IF you have a sand or clay bottom stall WITH CORRECT DRAINAGE below it; you may be able to get by with this concept a little longer.  But my thing is!  You need to put your face down in the bedding you put on top of this and if it stinks OR burns your nose it MUST be cleaned out; as your horse does not have as good of a breathing system as we do with all our filters!  
Depending on the horse, the stall, and the way they keep their shavings I clean either from corner to corner OR layer by layer like the first photo above.    It all depends on the horse!  This is something you will figure out for yourself.  As we all know ... no two humans are alike and no two horses are alike!  Thus no one person can tell you how everything is going to work out perfectly.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

What do you use for Bedding?

The bedding for a horse is just as important as the footing.  Why... because some horses have respiratory disorders.  This is common in a stall environment because humans just do not think about it.

There are so many things to use as bedding!
This is NOT the footing! that was a previous post.

This goes over your clay, sand or mats

MOST birthing environments are STRAW! it is soft, it absorbs well and is a more natural feeling for a newborn foal.

Straw  NOT hay! very different.

Straw is a great bedding.  It compost well, is fluffy, soft, and natural when kept well by being cleaned several times a day. 

Negatives are... it is very heavy when wet.
It must be cleaned several times a day AT LEAST twice a day, not just a skipping at night!
It holds in the ammonia that can harm the lungs of a newborn foal.  They can also hold mold that is also harmful to horses.

Shavings... are a commonly used bedding.  They are easily cleaned. They can be composted. Easy to come by all year. Generally every feed store will carry some type of shavings.

These photos are of the shavings I use... they are the best I have used in my 30 years of horses...

Negatives are... They are VERY dusty!
Dust is a harmful matter for any horse. 
They take longer than straw to break down when composting.
They can contain dangers if not gone through well.   What does this mean?  Well on a normal basis I find SEVERAL large pieces within a few bags being used for one stripped stall.   This is a photo of just ONE stall and going through three bags for a client I was babysitting for not long ago. 

What is the big deal with these pieces.  A horse laying down can roll the wrong way cut its belly.  Get this lodged in its belly, leg anywhere.  These are objects large enough to hurt your horse and cause you a vet bill.    No not the turkey feather! BUT this was in the stall and could have been accidentally ingested and cause you yet another problem.  Caring for horses is a full circle/ everything type of responsibility.  If you put them in a closed environment you have to baby proof it so the horse doesn't have to think!

Pellets... are rarely used by a lot of people.  They have the lowest amount of dust due to being compressed and they expand and clump when used.  If used alone as bedding the TOP layer of pellets should be lightly sprayed with a misting nozzle from the hose, which seals in the dust. 

Negatives.  Horses tend to mistakenly think this bedding is a source of feed.  They tend to ingest it! This is VERY dangerous!  and thus again not widely used.  They do not MAKE pellets in the winter as the same machine used to make pellets starts to be used to make wood stove heating pellets! So one has to stock up before winter comes along OR find a different source. 

Paper...   As we have all been on a search for a better bedding with less dust shredded newspaper has become a widely used material.  It is easily composted, and has little to no dust.  It absorbs the pea VERY well.  And most newspapers are now printed with vegetable dye.

Negatives.  Not available everywhere. So that leaves one to do the shredding, and  again it is VERY heavy when wet.

There are lots of choices and one has to know their horse and their own abilities to clean, compost, and get their choice.

What do I use!
I have padded horse stalls SO... I use pellets on the bottom and three bags of shavings on top to cover them so the horses to not see them in order to eat at them and cause a problem. 
EVEN this has its own process in that Sweet Pea pees in the center of her stall, while Navarre pees over to one side.  So I only place the pellets in these very specific area.  They clump well like cat litter so I only take out a few shaving and the clump of pellets used.  I then replace only the small amount of pellets used and this leaves me to only use minimal amounts of pellets AND shavings.  Thus I can extend my items and save myself money in the long run.  AND mixing these two materials I can clean in the morning and I only have to skip at night as the pellets help to control the ammonia thus freeing my time as well.

Any questions let me know.  I like all the materials... but when you have horses it is all about making them comfortable but being able to save your money for emergencies, as all the little things add up.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A basic morning

While today starts same as any other although Sweet pea is still not perfect after all her shots and trauma of seeing the vet.
It is suppose to rain today and I can only hope it does!
Today was the first day I had to use my lantern to put feed together.
I rush to finish everything and get to work on time.  It is a full day in the store.  I do enjoy my part time job and I am so thankful to be making a little extra money for the horses.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What it takes...

This week was a hard week on the horses. They got their feet done but also their teeth, shots, annual exam and had to deal with my prepping more.
I'm posting from my phone. Which I hope to do more often. I can only hope this works.
Now to try a photo? Wish me luck.
note to self. He takes twice as much to settle him down.She on the other hand takes very little and looses her bsck end.