Archive for the ‘horse issues’ Category

Here's how it should look when you're done!

Here’s how it should look when you’re done!

You might think that cleaning a horse’s stall is a no brainer. Scoop up the old stuff, dump it, and put in some fresh bedding. That basically covers it, but there are ways to make it easier, more efficient, and better for your horse as well.

First, let’s take a look at the basic layout of your stall. Do you have mats covering the floor? Most people do. If you have a dirt floor, mats are optional, but if your floor is cement, then mats become very important to protect the horse’s feet and legs.

Let’s start with the dirt floor stall. If it isn’t even, you’ll need to add some stone dust to fill any holes in the floor. Be sure to pat it down well before putting a mat over it, or youll just have to do it again. Lay your mats side by side with no overlaps. Be sure to place the mats so they all go in the same direction. Mats laid at angles or in a zig zag pattern, or mats that overlap at the edges will make it hard to clean a stall.
Once you have the mats down, it’s time to choose your bedding. There are many different types, and several factors to consider when choosing which one to use. Cost is usually a major decision maker. There are absorbent synthetic beddings that are resiliant and comfortable under the horse’s feet, but most of them are fairly pricey. If you can afford one of these, either the pelleted type or a recycled paper type, you will probably find yourself with a beautiful stall, but you will be spending a lot of money on bedding.
The most popular type of bedding is kiln dried hardwood. This comes in several grades, from large wood chips which are not very absorbent to finely ground sawdust.
The wood chips are less absorbent, but cheaper. When used in a stall, it usually takes several days for it to be ground by the horse’s feet to a comfortable texture. New wood chips are difficult to clean because they are larger and not absorbent. They do not easily fall through the tines of your pitchfork, making it more difficult to sift the clean bedding from the dirty.
On the other end of the spectrum is the finely textured sawdust. This is usually dust free, and makes a nice cushion for your horse. In order to be effective, you will have to use a lot of bedding in each stall. Sawdust must be fairly deep in order to be effective. It is very absorbent, so wet spots tend to stay put and not spread around the stall. Manure is easily sifted, but you will need a special fine tined fork to effectively pick up the smaller pieces. The wet spots are a bit harder to eliminate as the sawdust tends to fall through the tines of the pitchfork. This can be both frustrating and time consuming, and you will end up with a stall that still has tiny pieces of wet or soiled bedding in it.
The best balance of effectiveness and economy that I have found is the mid-range wood shavings. These shavings are absorbent and fairly inexpensive, and work well to absorb and cushion. They are easy to work with and require no special equipment.
The next question is how muuch to use. If you can afford to keep several inches of bedding in a stall and replace it all every day, you are probably not cleaning your stalls yourself. At that level, you probably have hired someone to clean for you and don’t need this article in the first place.
If, however, you are concerned with cost, you will be relieved to know that it is not necessary to use several bags in each stall every day. In fact, putting in too much bedding or overbedding, can make it more difficult to clean. If the bedding is too heavy for your pitchfork, you will not be able to dig all the way down to the floor to get up the bottom level of soiled bedding.
Using too little bedding will not harm your horse. Horses sleep on the ground with no padding all the time. They do not need layers of padding unless there is a health problem or medical condition that requires special handling. If your horse has a problem with his feet or legs, you may want to consider a soft, cushiony layer of bedding, otherwise the primary reason for using it is to absorb urine and make it easier to keep the stall floor dry.
A fine layer of bedding is better than none at all, especially if you have a dirt floor with no mats. It will absorb and can be easily raked up and disposed of.
The best is a moderate amount, enough to feel soft under your feet, but not so much that it fills your shoes if you walk into the stall. This usually means starting with one or two bags of bedding, then sifting it and adding a little at a time as needed.
When cleaning, try to work in one direction, the same direction that the mats are laid. I find that a basket type pitchfork is most efficient, but some prefer a standard style flat fork. The basket forks contain a lot more bedding and lift a lot more manure for quicker removal. I find that the basket type fork cuts my stall cleaning time by about a third.
When you pick up a fork full of soiled bedding or manure, give it a little bounce so that any clean bedding you might have picked up will fall through the tines and can remain in the stall. There is no need to take out every bit of bedding every day. Only the wet or soiled bedding needs to be removed.
Once you have cleaned out the stall, it is time to add more bedding. There may be days when none is needed, while other days the horse may have kicked around the entire contents of his stall. Using the pitchfork, spread fresh bedding as needed to maintain the moderate amount of bedding you had to start with.
One other type of bedding deserves mention, and that is straw. This does need to be completely removed each day and replaced with plenty of fresh straw. A flat pitchfork works best for this as it needs to be impaled on the pitchfork rather than sifted. This method is considered passe by most modern horse owners, but it is still available and not very expensive in most areas.
One more word of caution, and that is if you have a heavy load in your pitchfork, remember to lift with your legs and not your back!


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Beware, this could lead to more horses!

You just wanted a place where you could have your horse on your own property. A quiet little retreat with a nice little barn and a green pasture with some nice fencing, maybe a ring to set up a few jumps or barrels. So you found the perfect place. But you only have one horse, and your barn has four stalls. This can lead to big problems if you’re not careful. You may

be vulnerable to the horse owner’s most potent virus…Empty Stall Syndrome!

This is a disease that begins to grow when the horse owner realizes that they could actually have more horses on their property. Walking past empty stalls in a barn leads to thoughts of more equine heads bobbing out as you pass, welcoming nickers, and a view of horses playing together in your field. The disease is insidious, as it takes the form of a desire to do a good thing, and becomes a very expensive addiction.

The first thought is usually one of care for your own horse. “He needs a companion. I could rescue an older horse to keep him company.” That expands to thoughts for others.  “My child (or grandchild, or spouse or best friend) needs a horse to ride when they visit.” Rationalization sets in quickly. “I already have one, just one more wouldn’t be that much more expensive.” But it almost never ends with “just one more.”

There are several ways to deal with this problem without exploding your wallet. The first, (and most unrealistic) is simply to ignore it. “I already have a great horse, I should just concentrate on her!”  Most of the time this does not work, as the horse owner still has to walk past one or more empty stalls every day.  Another way to deal with the problem is to turn the empty stalls into something else. Extend the walls to the ceiling, add an electrical outlet and some scrap carpeting, put in a refrigerator, and some shelves with horse books or an old tv with a cd player and some horse related cds. You now have a lounge where you can keep cold drinks, refrigerate medications and relax after a long trail ride.

A spectacular tack room could take another stall, and a feed and equipment room still another. These may help you feel justified in keeping it to one horse. If,  however, the upgrades to your barn aren’t enough, there are several other ways to get  horses into your empty stalls without spending a fortune.

The first is to simply lease out your stalls to others. You can do this without making more work for yourself by making it clear that you are simply renting the space, and it is a “self-care” barn. That means that everyone is responsible for taking care of their own horse. Your boarders will come each day and feed their horses, muck the stalls, and take care of filling and cleaning water buckets, etc. You are responsible for keeping the barn in good condition and calling the owner if you notice any injury to their horse. In some cases, you might agree to let the horses in and out to the field. If an owner is going to be away, you can charge extra to take care of the horse while they are gone. This option gives you the ability to have other horses in your barn without having to add to your work load. Extra services, such as feeding, worming, holding the horse for the vet or farrier, or cleaning the stalls can be added for a higher fee. Be sure to include a contingency plan for severe weather emergencies such as hurricanes or deep snow. Boarding horses may also qualify you as an agricultural business, which could may have favorable tax consequences. (You will need to check your local laws to see how this would apply to you.) It also gives you people to ride and talk horse with.

You can also board horses as a full care facility. That means that you are responsible for the regular daily care of the horse, although the owner would still be responsible for expenses such as vet, farrier, or dentist. The extra work to feed and fill water buckets is negligible, but you need to consider the extra time and physical work involved in mucking out stalls. Once you have found your rhythm for mucking stalls, you can usually do about 5-6 stalls in an hour, depending on how messy the horses are. When deciding how much to charge, be sure to count the cost of feed, hay, and bedding in addition to the extra work for you.

Another option is to foster horses that have been removed from abusive or neglectful situations. This will have a cost to you, as you will usually be required to provide feed and sometimes medical care for the horses, but you will be doing a wonderful thing and you may be able to deduct some of the expense. (Talk to your tax professional) You will need to contact your local aspca or equine rescue for details.

Most of all, resist the urge to go out and buy more horses unless you have thoroughly thought the idea through and counted the cost. Remember, a horse is a long-term committment, not a passing fancy. Empty Stall Syndrome can be your downfall or the key to a wonderful new career!

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Horses escape Colorado Fires

So glad they’re getting the horses out now rather than waiting until it’s too late. If you can sponsor or take in one of these displaced animals, contact your local animal shelter for information. Photo courtesy of facebook, Equine News Today.

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This gets published every year but I always forget the target numbers.  Around here the temp can seem safe but the HSI can easily over 150 or even 180.
What would be considered moderate exercise under temperate weather conditions can have the same effect as intense activity when the heat and humidity rise. When is it too hot to trot? A good rule of thumb when assessing how the heat will affect your workout is to measure the Heat Stress Index (HSI). If the sum of the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit plus the percent of humidity totals less than 120, all systems are “go.” If the sum is greater than 150, particularly if humidity contributes to more than half of this number, your horse’s natural cooling mechanisms will be compromised. You should consider lowering the intensity of your workout, shortening the length of time, or riding later in the day. If the HSI is greater than 180, a horse cannot regulate his core body temperature naturally, so he should not be forced to work. For instance, if it is 100 degrees with 80 percent humidity, leave your horse in a shaded paddock with plenty of cool, clean drinking water and go have a cold drink yourself.
(Reposted from a recent article) (Thanks to my friend Cathy for this article!)

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What can you do to help?

Pastures have also dried up at True Blue Animal Rescue in the Washington area. TBAR is experiencing a tremendous increase in the number of horses it’s being asked to take in. Photo courtesy of True Blue Animal Rescue

By ARTHUR HAHN/Managing Editor


Thursday, August 27, 2009 11:32 AM CDT
Animal rescue organizations say they’re being swamped with requests to take in animals — particularly expensive-to-maintain horses.

Melanie DeAeth, president of True Blue Animal Rescue (TBAR) in the Washington area, said conditions have combined to create “the perfect storm for horse abuse, neglect and overpopulation.”

“Our horse numbers have more than doubled since last year, as have the number of horses taken in by any of the other rescues we work with,” said DeAeth. “It’s pretty scary.

“I think it’s a combination of things. When the (horse) slaughter houses closed, we all knew we were going to be affected by that. And then the economy started to decline, and then the drought hit.”

TBAR currently is maintaining 45 horses at its facility, said DeAeth.

Last week, the organization took in three emaciated donkeys and two horses. Foster homes were found for the donkeys, but TBAR is still looking for temporary quarters for the horses, she added.

And it hasn’t slowed down this week, said DeAeth.

“We just got a call about three stray horses in Washington County that will be picked up today. If they aren’t claimed, TBAR will be searching for homes for them.,” she said.

“We also picked up an abandoned horse in Burleson County Tuesday evening and got a call about a horse in Austin County that was abandoned a couple of weeks ago. If he isn’t claimed soon we’ll need a home for him.

“Lastly, there are two starved and abused horses in Grimes County and the lady that saw them is going to call the sheriff’s department today, so they’ll need foster homes.

“That’s just this week and that’s how things have been going for the last several months. TBAR is taking care of the animals in Washington County, Austin County, Burleson County, Grimes County and Brazos County because they are all local to us. We will help with horses in other counties when we have room but right now we’re staying full right here in our area.”

The problem appears to be statewide, with dozens of emaciated horses being seized on other counties, including 57 in one case alone in Hopkins County last May.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said DeAeth. “Hopkins County was probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen. It was horrible.”

TBAR’s pastures, like many others across Texas, have virtually dried up because of the drought.

DeAeth said the organization is “in desperate need of hay.”

“We’ll buy it, but we’re just having a hard time finding it,” she said. “We used to have corporate donations of hay, and that was with the number of horses that we’re used to maintaining. And now we’ve lost that, and with the drought and with the increase in horses, we’re in desperate need.”

Foster homes are becoming increasingly difficult to find. TBAR pays for veterinary bills and farrier costs for horses it places, but the foster homes are asked to pick up the feed costs. The cost of caring for and feeding a horse can run from $200-$400 a month.

Foster homes must be inspected to ensure they can handle horses, a process that takes some time, said DeAeth.

One of the main reasons for the sudden influx of unwanted horses is what DeAeth called “indiscriminate breeding.”

In the past, some people were breeding horses primarily to be slaughtered and their meat shipped to Europe, but federal court rulings closed down the last U.S. horse slaughter houses several years ago.

“I don’t understand a segment of the people who think they’re (horses are) livestock, and we should have slaughter houses for them,” she said. “Why is it OK to kill horses? They’re not a food source in this country. We shouldn’t be breeding so many.”

DeAeth listed things which TBAR needs — “cash donations, hay, feed, foster homes.”

For more information, visit TBAR’s Web site at www.t-bar.org.

ASPCA Hay Bale-Out Helps Equines in Texas and Oklahoma

In early October, the ASPCA announced that we’re granting a total of $250,000 to 24 equine welfare organizations and animal control agencies in Texas and Oklahoma as part of our “Hay Bale-Out” program. The funds will provide relief for horses impacted by the high cost and short supply of hay—problems that are largely due to regional drought and wildfires.

“The ASPCA is aware that the hay shortage has placed tremendous hardship on horse and donkey rescue organizations and agencies throughout Texas and Oklahoma,” says Jacque Schultz, Senior Director of the ASPCA Equine Fund. “Our program provides assistance to those who are struggling to feed the horses and donkeys in their care.”

“The Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT) is grateful to accept this funding from the ASPCA,” states Sandy Grambort, equine and livestock program coordinator at HSNT, one of the agencies receiving a grant through the Hay Bale-Out program. “These funds will help make a difference in the lives of North Texas equines and their owners as the effects of the drought continue to be realized.”

Please visit the ASPCA’s Pressroom to view the full list of organizations receiving Hay Bale-Out funds. And to learn more about the ASPCA Equine Fund, visit ASPCApro.org.

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Donkeys Abandoned as Texas Drought Raises Feed Costs; Rescue Groups Struggle to Deal with Hundreds Cut Loose

September 12, 2011
By: By WILLIAM PACK, STAFF WRITER, The Houston Chronicle

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Underappreciated by the public and the source of hard feelings when their name, in its shortened form, finds its way into an argument, donkeys have never had it easy.

With a record-breaking drought showing few signs of ending, donkeys in Texas are facing an additional challenge: finding a place to call home.

Sheriffs’ departments and animal rescue operations say donkeys, like horses, are being turned loose in growing numbers because the drought has made them too costly to keep, and buyers are not lining up to acquire them.

Donkeys, smaller and less useful than horses, typically are less valuable. Many auction barns aren’t interested in putting donkeys on the block anymore, officials said.

So cash-strapped owners are giving donkeys up, often freeing them on the sides of roads, and leaving the problem to law enforcement agencies and a determined group of donkey rescue operations.

“Donkey rescues have gone through the roof,” said Mark Meyers, executive director of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, a California-based nonprofit organization with a 260-acre rescue ranch near San Angelo.

He and other Peaceful Valley representatives traveled Thursday to Presidio for donkeys seized by federal authorities after wandering across the border.

As of Friday, Navarro County officials had 40 more abandoned donkeys for Peaceful Valley to take, and six more sheriffs’ offices across Texas have called in asking the organization to take donkeys off their hands.

“There are so many coming in, we’re having a hard time keeping up,” said Meyers.

Hundreds from Texas

Texas alone has brought 500 donkeys into Peaceful Valley’s care since March, Meyers said. That’s 100 more donkeys than the organization rescued nationally last year.

Darla Cherry, president of Meadow Haven Horse Rescue in Nixon, said donkeys probably are being abandoned at a faster rate than horses, but rising feed costs associated with the drought are behind both trends.

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Finding a Place

Finding a Place.

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