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Tag Archives: water

Trail riding in Ohio at Mohican State Park…bareback!

May in Ohio is a beautiful time to trail ride and one of my favorite places to go is Mohican State Park. Spring flowers and ferns are still sneaking up and because the leaves are not fully out yet it is possible to see further than you can in full summer. This day it was almost 85 degrees out but under the cover of the trees we stayed nice and cool.

One of my favorite parts of this ride are the multiple water crossings. The horses love to drink and play in the water before we head back up and down the many hills. This trip was also special because a good friend joined us and took her mare out for her first trail ride. I do have to admit that my pants were very wet and not very clean by the time I got done…and my inner legs were a bit sore…but I plan on doing it again as soon as possible!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Life, Video

 

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What is your input on blanketing a horse or not in the winter and also how cold is too cold to let them out in pasture?

“What is your input on blanketing a horse or not in the winter and also how cold is to cold to let them out in pasture?”-Kimberly M.

I think that there are valid reasons both for and against blanketing horses and each person needs to evaluate what is best for their horse.

StacyWestfall'sfirsthorseI grew up in Maine and we never blanketed our horses. Sometimes the thermometer, without windchill, would go as low as -40…below zero. It got cold. Thankfully the wind didn’t blow when it was that cold and our horses grew thick coats and never shivered. All was good.

My mom still lives in Maine but she has different horses. One horse is in his 20’s and is a hard keeper. He grows a thick hair coat and doesn’t shiver but putting a rain sheet or waterproof blanket on him when it is extremely cold helps him to conserve energy and hold his weight better.

The other is a middle aged mare who is an easy keeper but naturally doesn’t grow much hair. I know because she lived with me for years and we kept her in a pasture with a run-in shed. Each year everyone else in the pasture grew enough hair to stay warm but this mare would only grow an average hair coat and then would shiver. Some people have told me that shivering is ‘natural’, which is obvious in one sense of the word, but whenever I have personally experienced shivering I have found it to be very unpleasant. I am convinced that some horses are ‘naturally’ given to growing more or less hair and as the mare can’t migrate south…I sent my mom a rain sheet and a waterproof blanket.

When I have horses in training that I am riding multiple times per week I keep them blanketed. I do this because if I don’t then they tend to overheat when working…imagine dressing in your best winter overalls and coat and then shoveling snow for an hour straight. Heavy winter wear is not the best when you’re doing heavy work. Every time I make that mistake I end up needing to remove layers, something my horse cannot choose to do if it is hair. By blanketing my horses that I am working I can help them regulate their temperature plus I can help them cool out quicker. A horse with a heavy hair coat that does get soaking wet from a workout can take hours to cool out and dry properly. A horse that has been blanketed can be cooled out in thirty minutes or less with a wool cooler.Luke, I am your father!

The choice to blanket also comes with the responsibility to check and maintain the horses regularly. If I have horses that I am blanketing it is a lot of extra work in the fall and the spring. I have to pay attention to the daytime and nighttime temperatures and change their layers accordingly. For a fully blanketed show horse it is normal to change their layers every ten degrees. I do not choose to blanket horses just for the fun of it…it is far too much work if that is the only reason.

If you don’t need a short hair coat because you are working the horse regularly but want to blanket sometimes then consider only adding below a certain temperature. If you choose to only blanket when the temperature is below ten degrees then your horse will still grow a pretty thick hair coat. Plus by selecting a low temperature like zero or ten degrees you won’t have all of the extra work in the spring and fall.

I prefer to leave horses that aren’t working regularly without blankets and allow them to grow as much hair as possible. I also recognize that some times blanketing can be either helpful, as in the training situation, or best, such as with the hard keeper.

As far as how cold is too cold I think there are different factors to look at. How healthy the horse is, what type of shelter or wind break is available, and how much forage is available are all part of the equation. Keep in mind that a great source of internal heat for horses in the winter is digesting hay and fresh, unfrozen, water is always a must.Mini horses in snow

Each situation will be a little different and I’m sure that many people will leave comments about the temperatures their horses have successfully lived in. Here is a comment following my blog on “How cold is too cold to ride a horse.” 

“Up here in Canada if we don’t ride when it’s “too cold” – we wouldn’t ride for half the year! 😉 At our barn we just make sure we ride the horses according to the temperature. On the really cold days we might just play with some trail obstacles or do ground work in order to not sweat the horses up. Oh, and I’ve discovered that “hot paws” are a girl’s best friend in the winter! They are little heated pads that go inside your gloves and boots. Life savers! (or should I say “digit savers”!)”-Kim

I have more often kept my horses in because of ice or poor footing instead of the weather being too cold. Unfortunately, someone will leave a comment saying that it is totally natural for horses to endure any weather. While it is true that horses live in the wild, they also can suffer in the wild. I have personally seen horses with half their ears because the tops were frozen off…natural, yes, but not something I’m interested in.

While googling for info I found a great article on Discoverhorses.com quoting Dr. Joyce Harman, “There is no temperature where it is too cold for a horse to be ridden or to go outside if they are adapted to it.”

I think each person needs to evaluate their situation. Some places are going to get extreme wind, others extreme snow or ice and still others extreme cold, each brings its own challenges. Keep in mind that sudden or unusual weather won’t allow the horses time to adapt.

Often I have to laugh when I go out in the cold with my horses. Some of my best memories are with my horses in the winter. They tend to be fresh and full of energy and for the most part they seem to handle the cold weather much better than I do.

 
25 Comments

Posted by on December 22, 2014 in Life, Members Question

 

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Have you ever had to teach a horse to swim?

“I took my horse swimming during the summer and she sank. She doesn’t even try to keep her head above water, she just walks on the bottom sucking up water until i pull her out. How do I teach her to swim?”-Mikiah D

I have seen horses make mistakes when swimming. I have seen a horse walk in knee deep, paw, lie down (head above water)…and then try to roll completely over…head under water!

Click photo to see Newt's first swim.

Click photo to see Newt’s first swim.

On Newt’s first swim he really only made one mistake, but without guidance he could have been in trouble. I had taken him partway out and then ridden back to the shore several times but even with this prep he suddenly decided that we should go to the other shore…about a mile across the lake! He was determined we should to that way but he didn’t know that the water would continue to get deeper.

My first advice would be to keep your horse out of trouble. I would try taking her part way in and wading around at a safe depth. Don’t allow her to go deep enough to cause possible drowning.  I once had a horse that liked to blow bubbles in the water. She would stick her nose completely under, all the way up to her eyes! She would then blow bubbles and never made the mistake of breathing in.

All the horses I have taken in the water have known how to swim instinctively but that doesn’t mean all will. I am also going to ask for others to post their experiences…maybe someone else has seen this and has some advice.

 

 
12 Comments

Posted by on December 12, 2014 in Members Question

 

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What is the most effective fly spray for horses out there right now?

“Hey Stacy. How about a poll? What is the most effective fly spray out there right now? Anyone got a special mix they are using? I need to control/repel mosquitoes, horn flies, deer flies, and the occasional horse fly.”-Carla V.

How about it? What do you use to control flies around your horses? What flies are a problem for you?

Do you use feed through or spray on or both?

Mud: the all natural fly repellent.

Mud: the all natural fly repellent.

Water based? Oil based? All natural?

Please, leave a comment and help us all learn what you use and why.

Feel free to use product names and what you think the product works best for. Do you like it because it stays on a long time or because it controls mosquitoes? Details please!

 

 
115 Comments

Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Members Question

 

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Winter Water and Colic; fact or myth….info provided by Buckeye Nutrition

Do horses colic more in the winter? Do horses drink less water in the winter?horses and cold water

Fact or Myth:  Horses need less water in the winter.

Myth!

Horses at maintenance require a minimum 8-10 gallons of water per day regardless of temperature.

Horses tend to drink less water as the temperatures decrease because of the water temperature.

Horses prefer that water be 45-65 degrees F.

The use of heated water buckets or water heaters will prevent the formation of ice and keep the water temperature above freezing.

Fact or Myth: The incidence of impaction colic increases in the winter.

FACT!

With the increased intake of hay, the incidence of colic does increase in the winter if horses are not consuming adequate water on a daily basis.

Owners can encourage the consumption of water by adding electrolytes to water, providing soaked beet pulp or soaked hay cubes, or adding water to grain.

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Have you ever noticed a decrease in the amount of water your horse drinks in the winter? Have you ever had one colic?

Did you know that when I have a question I can ask a nutritionist? Did you know you can too? That’s right, check out this page on Buckeye Nutritions website and no matter what you feed-you can ask them questions!

buckeyelogo

 
10 Comments

Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Life

 

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How do I find a reputable (trustworthy) horse hauler to transport my horse?

Question.. How would you go about finding reputable transport for a horse? I have a friend who is looking, but having a hard time putting that much faith into a paid transporter. -Katelyn P.

It is good to be concerned when looking into horse hauling companies. Like anything there are good and not so good companies out there.

While I was in college, in Ohio, I needed to have my horse hauled back to Maine for the summer. I asked around (I was at an equine college) and made calls but no one had any real answers. The best I could find was an ad in the back of a magazine. I called a couple until I found one that was going that direction.

Scrapper, my horse, couldn’t get a ride until two weeks after I had already gone. I wasn’t worried though because he was at my college. A friend called and told me when he had been picked up. I was excited and began the countdown. It takes about 16 hours to drive from Ohio to Maine.

They told me it would be a little longer because they had other stops. One day went by. Then two (no cell phones back then). Finally on the third day a call. They would be there late that night.

When Scrapper arrived I saw the rig for the first time. It was a very large stock trailer that had slant load stalls inside. They unloaded several horses to get to Scrapper. I was shocked.

He looked like a greyhound. He was so drawn up I couldn’t believe it. I had raised him and had never seen him look like this. He was crusty from sweat that had dried all over his body. I was working at a barn and the lady there said I should be concerned because she doubted he had been watered.

In the stock/slant set up there were no drop down windows to water horses. The hauler was in and out and didn’t ask to water the horses he had unloaded to get Scrapper off. The lady I worked for was probably right.

commanders nic

Stacy Westfall hauled Commanders Nic from OK to OH and was contacted by word of mouth

I don’t say this to claim that there are no good companies. I am hoping that people will leave comments below telling of happy stories. That is my only personal experience with a horse hauler. Everything I have done after has been by word of mouth or done myself.

If we have a horse we want hauled we look for a big show that is happening near there and find another trainer who is coming or going. I have hauled horses for other trainers in the same situation (see side photo). I know this isn’t available for everyone, I am just saying this is how I handle it.

My short answer is word-of-mouth. First hand experience relayed to you by someone else. As I don’t have a lot of experience with hiring horse haulers, lets see what comments we can get here. Have you had a horse hauled? From where and to where? How much did it cost? Did the company do a good job? Would you recommend them?

Hiring horse hauler to transport horse

 
86 Comments

Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Members Question

 

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Keep horses drinking during freezing weather…and all animals.

It is cold! And I don’t know about you but I don’t drink as much as I should in this weather. Keep horses drinking

Just yesterday I was dizzy from dehydration.

And that is my point. Colic rates climb when the weather acts strange. Much of this is related to horses not drinking normally during major weather swings. It was -13 last night and they are calling for almost 50 degrees this weekend. That qualifies as major.

Heated troughs and buckets are amazing. If you don’t have them though don’t despair.

It is amazing what a gallon of hot water added to a bucket will do to improve the palatability.

That goes for barn cats too.

barn cats need warm water too

 
16 Comments

Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Life

 

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