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Horse Radio Network

Cherry Hill will be one of many equestrian guests on the Holiday Radiothon on Horse Radio Network on November 28.

She will appear at 6 PM Eastern Time  – tune in and hear what she has to say !

 

 

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Cherry Hill: The Horsewoman Behind All Those Great Horse Books

Author Cherry Hill and her mare, Aria. | Photo courtesy of Cherry Hill

Author Cherry Hill and her mare, Aria. | Photo courtesy of Cherry Hill

How does Cherry Hill do it?

If you are a reader of horse books at all, you know the name–she’s been a horse show judge, trainer, breeder and is the author of more than 1,000 articles and 30 books, including What Every Horse Should Know, Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage and 101 Ground Training Exercises for Every Horse & Handler.

Cherry Hill (and Cherry is pronounced “Sherry”) took the time to talk to MyHorse Daily about writing, life on her ranch and the one surprising thing she’s done on horseback.

MyHorse Daily: Where were you born and raised, and how did you get into horses?

Cherry Hill: I was raised in Michigan, and I’ve been into horses all my life. We used to go to Florida every year, and when I was 2 my father made arrangements for my brother and I to get on the back of one of the (Ringling Bros.) Barnum & Bailey horses. I didn’t want to wash my hands for a week.

I didn’t get my own horse until I was in my early 20s–there was not really a place to have one where I grew up–but I rode all through high school. I got a job at a stable and worked for unlimited riding by helping out—I took people out on rides, called being a “pusher” because sometimes the horses didn’t want to go out.

The woman who got me the job was a long-term horsewoman, a bit of a mentor to me. And a lot of times people ask me how to get into horses, and I say, “Find a mentor in your area” Maybe they’re not riding anymore but they have a wealth of experience that is invaluable.

 MyHorse Daily: What did you study in college?

Cherry Hill: I got a degree in Animal Science. When I was going to school, Equine Science wasn’t really off the ground yet. I majored in horses, minored in dairy, at Michigan State and Iowa State.

MyHorse Daily: What have you taught?

Cherry Hill: I’ve taught at a few colleges, most recently Colorado State University. I taught Equine Science—training, stable management, behavior.

MyHorse Daily: Where do you live?

Cherry Hill: In northern Colorado. I live on a ranch with my husband–we have 70 acres. It’s a lovely place. It’s a full-time job. We’re always going. Busy, busy, busy.

MyHorse Daily: Where do you find time to write?

Cherry Hill: Some I’ve written on horseback by speaking into a recorder, so I wrote while I was riding.

Some I’ve written in the heat of summer or dead of winter. It does take time and discipline. People think writing is effortless but it does require discipline.

MyHorse Daily: How do you get ideas?

horsekeeping bookCherry Hill: Mostly it’s what I’m really into at the time. I think if I’m really interested in it, other horse people will be also. For example, my husband and I used to buy, fix up and sell horse property–that gave me the idea for Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage.

Each time I’d do something at home I’d think well, maybe I’ll write about it and save some people some time. Of course training and behavior are always topics people are interested in. I guess write what you love and write what you know and the rest follows. Also, if you’re doing something at the moment, you have the photo opportunity. It will all dovetail together and work.

MyHorse Daily: What kind of horse do you have?

Cherry Hill: Aria is half Quarter Horse and half Trakehner mare that I bred and raised. She’s a real sweet, steady, easygoing kind of girl with comfortable gaits. She’s 15.2, maybe 16. One of the littler ones we have. I call her my chocolate pony, because her disposition is sweet, like a pony. She’s a good girl. More of a western-style horse.

I ride more western now. We are in trail-ride heaven here–we have beautiful places to ride. Western riding is a little more suited to that because of the saddlebags and more comfortable saddle. Although in the arena I prefer to ride dressage.

MyHorse Daily: How many horses do you have now?

Cherry Hill: We just have two horses. Due to the drought and expense of feed we haven’t added to our herd or bred any mares. There’s so many horses to adopt or buy inexpensively. We went from 7 down to 2 just by the fact so many were in their 30s. We will keep those two until we need to replace one. They have a many good years left–Aria is 14 and Sherlock, (her husband) Richard’s horse, is 11.

MyHorse Daily: What about the rest of the pack?

Cherry Hill: We have a Maine Coon cat. She’s a good mouser and great companion. We also have two rottweilers about a year and a half old. Got them at 6 weeks. They’re named Bear and Bandit. Fabulous dogs. They’ve learned about horses and all the other animals and boundaries. They’re really good dogs and our constant companions. I keep saddle blankets on the floor next to my desk for them.

MyHorse Daily: What are you working on now?

Cherry Hill: I’m not working on a book right now–I just had one come out last year and wanted to take a break.

MyHorse Daily:  Which of your books are your favorites?

How to Think Like a HorseCherry Hill:  Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage helped a lot of people. Also, How to Think Like a Horse helps people understand why their horse does what it does.

MyHorse Daily: What’s some of your best advice?

Cherry Hill: Don’t forget the reason you got into it is because you really love the horse. People get sidetracked on competition or property.

Enjoy that experience of interacting with and taking good care of your horse. That’s one of the reasons I quit judging—some of the competition people had forgotten about that, and were interested more in the superficial aspect and achieving goals, sometimes at the expense of the horse.

Another piece: Just do the best job you can taking care of your horse and understanding why they do what they do. Figure out how to keep your horse happy, healthy and safe.

MyHorse Daily: Any advice for folks who are trying to keep horses in their life as they age?

Cherry Hill: I think mostly it’s being aware—everybody’s different—but be aware of what causes you to slow down. You have to be your own doctor, so to speak. Take the responsibility to take care of your own body. So once you find out your weak links-for example, your knees hurt after a long ride—adjust your stirrups or don’t ride so much of a posting trot. Adjust yourself accordingly.

You do just get more stiff as you get old. Horses get arthritis, too. If you’re a real active rider like I’ve been, your body parts are gonna wear out.

MyHorse Daily: Is it worth it?

Cherry Hill: I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s the whole richness of life—doing what you love.

Categories: Horse Care.

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By Amy Herdy

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Even though horses voluntarily eat snow in the winter, they require free choice water to prevent dehydration. Requiring them to obtain their needed water from snow would be a full time job and take precious body heat to melt the snow.

It is best if the water is not ice cold as it can be uncomfortable on a horse’s teeth and gastrointestinal tract and chill the horse as he drinks.

It is best if the water is not hot, so if using heated watering devices, be sure they are set to keep water from freezing but not so hot the water is on the verge of boiling !!

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Hello Cherry,

I recently put up a 36 x36 pen and shelter for my horse.  I live here in Golden Colorado where the soil is VERY much Clay.  We had a several inches of rain this past week, which is a considerable amount for our parts.  The pen got very muddy.  I spent several hours today mucking it and now doing research on what I should do for a better fix.  I saw your article on 3/8 minus pea gravel.  A couple of questions:

1. Some horse friends of mine suggest I use Granite Crusher Fines to aide in the drainage.   Is this suitable?

2. Whether I use Pea Gravel or Granite Crusher Fines, what is the recommended depth of the material I should go with?  2, 3 or 4 inches? 

BTW:  I’m also going to install a french drainage system as well. 

Many Thanks! 

Shawn

Hi Shawn,

The French Drain is a good idea. Sloping the pens slightly away from the barn is helpful to manage drainage too.

I’m not personally familiar with Granite Crusher Fines but think they might be something like decomposed granite which we use here in northern Colorado.

We use decomposed granite under our stall mats and also under the 3/8- pea gravel in turnout pens.

So my answer would be yes and yes ! A tamped crushed granite base with 2-3 inches of 3/8- pea gravel on top.

Please feel free to post your results here. Thanks ! Cherry Hill

To read more about French Drains, pen footing and much more, refer to these books and DVD.

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Hi Cherry,

We moved with our ponies onto a five acre hobby farm which was previously a dairy operation.  There is a large cement yard around the barns causing a lot of wasted space. It would be a perfect winter/sacrifice area for spring though, the barn shelters the north and west sides. I was wondering if there would be anyway to cover this? A base layer of gravel with sand on top? How deep? Ripping it out is not an option, and I don’t like the idea of horses on concrete.  Wondering if you have any suggestions? Thanks,

Allison

Hi Allison,

Well of course I have to go on the record that my suggestion would be removing the concrete but I realize the effort, expense it would take and that you said removal is not an option.

By the way, what you have are concrete pads, not cement. Concrete is comprised of cement (a fine powder), aggregate (sand, stones) and water. It is sometimes reinforced with steel mesh or bars (rebar). When concrete is poured it is agitated and worked so the large pieces of aggregate settle somewhat leaving a sand/cement mixture on top to form a smooth surface. Concrete is one of man’s most durable building materials and it can be a major undertaking to remove it, especially if it is reinforced with steel.

So here are some other things you probably have already considered or have even done by now.

Using the concrete as is for eating areas would be OK, but if the ponies would also be required to use them as loafing areas, standing for long periods of time and/or laying down or rolling, then concrete pads would not be good for the long term for obvious reasons of abrasion and discomfort. However, concrete covered with rubber mats might make a super nice feeding area which would be more comfortable than bare concrete and easy to keep sanitary (as long as the ponies don’t urinate there).

If the areas will be used for loafing, then covering the concrete pads with rubber mats or rolled rubber flooring could work. Another option would be covering the concrete with road base, which is a mixture of gravel and dirt and then a layer of a well-draining fine gravel such as decomposed granite (which is what I would use here in the western US) could work.  Note that if your ponies use the area as a toilet (which they most likely will do) then you will have to diligently manage moisture, odor and sanitation. With a situation like this, whether it is in stalls or outdoor pads, you should plan on an annual overhaul. Perhaps this is something you can do if you only use it seasonally.

You asked about gravel and sand. Gravel on concrete could be like walking on ball bearings and would be tough on hooves and not much more comfortable than plain concrete. It would allow somewhat for drainage of urine, especially if the pads are sloped away from the barn which I imagine they are.

Sand is also a risky choice if the area would be a place you would feed the ponies as sand colic would be a problem if they ingested sand with any hay that fell out of their feeders, for example.

No easy answer. Please reply to this blog and let us know what you have done or are planning to try.

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When shown a bale of premium hay and one of poor quality, most horsemen would have little difficulty deciding which bale they would like to take home and feed to their horses.  But since the average bale of hay has one or more defects and because the hay-buyer’s budget enters into the picture, choosing hay, in actuality, is often not so easy.  The many factors which should be considered when selecting hay all relate directly to the growing and harvesting of the hay.  Understanding the hay-making process from the ground up can help you make wise decisions when it comes to buying your winter supply of hay.

Choosing Good Quality Hay

    Good quality hay should be leafy, fine-stemmed, and adequately but not overly dry.  Since two-thirds of the plant nutrients are in the leaves, the leaf-to-stem ratio should be high.  The hay should not be brittle but instead soft to the touch, with little shattering of the leaves.  Lost leaves mean lost nutrition.  There should be no excessive moisture that could cause overheating and spoilage.

     Good quality hay should be free of mold, dust, and weeds and have a bright green color and a fresh smell.  In some instances, placing too much emphasis on color may be misleading in hay selection.  Although the bright green color indicates a high vitamin A (beta carotene) content,  some hays might be somewhat pale due to bleaching and may still be of good quality.  Bleaching is caused by the interaction of dew or other moisture, the rays of the sun, and high ambient temperatures.  Brown hay, however, indicates a loss of nutrients due to excess water or heat damage and should be avoided.

     Hay which is dusty, moldy, or musty smelling is not suitable for horses.  Not only is it unpalatable, but it can contribute to respiratory diseases.  Moldy hay can also be toxic to horses and may cause colic or abortion.  Bales should not contain undesirable objects or noxious weeds.  Check for sticks, wire, blister beetles, poisonous plants, thistle, or plants with barbed awns such as foxtail or cheat grass.

     Making premium horse hay involves a valuable balance of knowledge and skill.  From a horseman’s standpoint, there’s nothing like snipping the strings on a bale mid-winter and finding soft, green, leafy hay inside.  Horses thrive on such hay and require little, if any, grain supplementation. 


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I am hoping to connect with Cherry Hill about the definition of the basic keeping of horses.  I live in Massachusetts and recently purchased a 12+ acre parcel for the purpose of building a barn and both indoor and outdoor riding rings.  We are living on the property.  I have obtained my Animal Keeping Permit and Building Permit from the Town.

One of the abutters in not pleased with the prospect of my project and is objecting through various means.  I am trying to connect with experts in the care and keeping of horses to help confirm that horses are “kept” in stables/barns and paddocks (turnout) and the indoor riding ring is not where horses are “kept”.

I greatly appreciate your time and consideration.

Regards, Lisa


Hi Lisa,

The definition of horsekeeping, I’m afraid, has about as many definitions as there are horsekeepers ! It can range from a bare bones dirt lot to deluxe accommodations and hand-on care. Sadly some poor horsekeeers do make a bad impression on non-horse people and it is no wonder why problems arise.

Responsible, conscientous, mindful horsekeeping does indeed include barns, pens, paddocks, turnout areas and daily care. However, many times when time and money constraints arise, horsekeepers cut corners and those shortcuts can result in unsightly changes to the property and possible sanitation and health issues for neighbors.

In terms of a legal definition, I’ve been contacted over the years by various townships, cities, and counties as they try to establish legal parameters for keeping horses. Number of horses per acre, types of fencing, the distance buildings and horses must be from adjacent properties, fugitive dust that is churned up in paddocks and outdoor arenas and much much more.

Each locale has its own laws and wording so it would be best for you to work your appeal within the wording of your specific laws. Stating things appropriately for Larimer County Colorado for example might be inappropriate for your location and  might cause an unintended issue to arise. 

If you care to write more specifics, please feel free. In the meantime, be sure to use my book Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage as a reference guide. And browse the articles on my website horsekeeping.com

Best of luck,


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