Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Grooming’ Category

Hi Cherry,

When I brought my horses in from winter pasture, they had burrs in their manes, forelocks and even in their tails. Is there an easy way to get them out? Bob

Burrs Looking for a Forelock

Hi Bob,

Horse Handling and Grooming by Cherry HillThe best way to get them out is to use baby oil. It is a fairly inexpensive product if you buy a generic brand at a discount store. Squirt it on the forelock and mane where the burdock burrs tend to wad up in the hair when a horse puts his head down to graze where burdock grows. Then with a pair of leather gloves on your hands (leather will protect your fingers from the burrs better than cloth and the leather won’t mind the oil) grab a glob of burrs with both hands and rub back and forth against each other like you were out on a trail ride and had to scrub your shirt in the creek. The back and forth motion breaks up the burrs into smaller pieces and pretty soon you’ll be able to start fingering through the hair to get the pieces to drop out.

There are several excellent “detangler” products on the market for horses but they cost quite a bit.

Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageTo prevent burrs from getting in there in the first place, take a walk in your pasture in late summer and early fall. We do this carrying a couple of old feed sacks and some brush clippers with us and lop off the tops of any burdock plants we see. Over the years by doing this, we have eradicated MOST of the burdock from our pastures.

Remove Burdock Plants from your Pasture while they are still Green !

 

In the meantime, you can routinely apply a detangler during burdock season or you can use a hair conditioner product. Shampoo the horses mane, forelock and tail. Rinse very well. Then apply the conditioner. Work it in well, let is sit on the hair for a couple of minutes to really soak in and then rinse thoroughly. A conditioned tail will be less apt to hold burrs and it will be easier for you to remove the few that do attach.

Hope this helps.Cherry Hill horse trainer and author of 30 books and DVDs

Read Full Post »

My two sisters live in Texas and even though neither of them are riders, they both have used the phrase “rode hard and put up wet” when they are describing someone who is working too hard and not taking enough time off.

The urban definition has me picturing some overworked city dweller commuting an hour or more to her job, putting in 8-10 hours of repetitious work, then the long commute home during rush hour traffic. Too exhausted to cook or eat, she collapses in her recliner still in the clothes she wore to work.


The phrase, as we horsemen know, was borrowed from the negative description of a rider working a horse to near exhaustion, then jerking the saddle off and turning the sweaty horse out with no grooming. Of course none of us do that but we might be guilty of not taking the time necessary to cool down a horse properly after work.

A cool down is especially important in the cold weather that seems to be blanketing the entire country. I’m hearing 4 degrees in Florida tonight?

When a horse that has grown any sort of winter hair coat is worked hard, he sweats more, has trouble cooling out and drying off so and is set up for chills, muscle stiffness, and overall blahs.

Some things to think about:

Use a quarter sheet to protect the hindquarters during work.

Consider a body clip and blanketing.

Use a body wash or brace to remove sweat before cooling and grooming.

Use a cooler when hand walking a horse to cool him out.

Have a great ride and take care of that good horse,

 

Share

Read Full Post »

For the Horse Who Has Everything

©  2010 Cherry Hill
www.horsekeeping.com

Is there is a special horse on your Christmas list that you would like to thank in some way for his enjoyable partnership and devotion to duty?  If so, show that you really appreciate him by choosing something that a horse would enjoy.  Pass up the reindeer antlers and choose something from this, a horse’s Christmas wish list.

As you might suspect, with horses, food items top the list.  If you have several horses, you can wish them all happy holidays with a truck load of carrots.  Some farms sell a pick up load for $100 or so delivered.  If you have a cool shady place to store them, they will likely keep until the last one is fed.  Carrots provide a welcome diversion to the horse’s normal ration and can be a healthy reward for good behavior.  Carrots are an excellent sources of carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is usually the only vitamin that ever needs to be supplemented in a horse’s diet.  If a horse is not receiving green sun-cured hay, he may not be getting adequate carotene.  If a truck load is not an option, then set aside the $$ to buy large bags of carrots or apples, especially affordable if you belong to a buyer’s club like Sam’s.  If you’re on a tight budget, you’d be surprised at how many perfectly good (for horses) carrots and apples are thrown away by grocery stores every day.  Make friends with your local produce manager and arrange to pick up goodies for your horse regularly.

When the temperature dips, oatmeal makes a healthy and warming breakfast for you.  Likewise, at the barn, during cold weather, your horse might relish a hot grain mash.  It takes a little practice and some testing to see what grains and mash consistency appeal to each horse.  Don’t think of wheat bran as the only choice for a mash.  In fact, wheat bran, fed on a daily basis, can be detrimental since it could add too much phosphorus to your horse’s diet.  There should be no such problem if you only feed wheat bran once a week.  But also experiment with mashes made from rolled oats, sweet feed, cracked corn, barley, shredded beet pulp, a handful of molasses or a pinch of salt, some oil or chopped apples or carrots and you are on your way to satisfying your horse’s culinary pleasures (or at least enjoying the benevolent feeling you get from trying!).

Measure and mix the dry ingredients the night before and bring them to the house in a pail. When you put the water on for your tea the next morning, boil some extra water for the mash. Usually a 4:1 ratio of grains to boiling water is satisfactory for most horses.  It is best to err on the dry side rather than the mushy side.  Stir as you pour the water.  Let the mash steep in a warm place for about thirty minutes, preferably covered so it can steam.  Check the temperature and serve.  Take a mug of hot tea out to the barn for yourself, find a warm corner to sit and then listen to the contented slurpings of your appreciative buddies.  And know that beside the nutritional benefits, a mash during cold weather can provide your horse with the needed moisture he might be reluctant to sip from a cold bucket.

Swirl a candy cane in your horse’s water pail?  This is not just a frivolous holiday act but can have a practical application.  Peppermint oil is one substance that can be used to disguise water for the horse that is often “on the road” and will be offered different types of water to drink. Using an aromatic and tasty substance in his water while he is both at home and away, may be the best gift you give a reluctant drinker.

A tasty treat that doubles as a pacifier for the a horse that is stalled during cold weather is a molasses grain block.  Sold across the country under hundreds of local feed mill labels, these blocks should be considered as an occasional supplement to the horse’s normal diet.  Under most feeding circumstances, they are unnecessary, but horses dearly love them.  Comprised of grain products, molasses and minerals, the forty to fifty pound cubes have a wonderful smell and a texture that entices horses to both lick and chew them.  Similar products are made for sheep and cattle, but contain a synthetic source of protein called urea which horses can’t utilize.  For horses, it is important to purchase the “premium” horse version which contains protein from plant sources, such as soybean meal.  Most horses appear to enjoy these large “candy bar blocks” and, in fact, some horses are determined to finish an entire block all at once.  If your horse falls in this category, you will have to roll the block out of his stall or pen each day and only let him have access to it for a limited period of time.  Be sure he always has adequate water available, as even the small percentage of salt in most of these blocks will increase your horse’s thirst reflex – which is a good thing during cold weather.

Probably the next most popular request on a horse’s wish list is his desire to be allowed to be a horse.  Many horses like nothing better than to nose around a pasture inspecting roots and sticks and tracing recent equine history.  From observations, it seems like a roll in the mud or the snow is hard to beat on the equine list of all time favorite recreational activities.  Contrary to our guidelines, horses see nothing wrong in being dirty or having their manes flop over to both sides of their necks.

Depending on the type of winter management that you follow, you may wish To Groom or Not To Groom.  A pasture horse, left to his natural devices, grows a thick protective coat and further seals his skin from wind and moisture by accumulating a heavy waxy sebum at the base of his hairs. Horses that are turned out for the winter should not be extensively groomed, lest you inadvertently remove your horse’s valuable oily protection.  The best gift for the pastured horse is to let his waxy layer stay intact (no vigorous currying), let his coat be fluffy (not smoothed down by brushing) and to offer him shelter from wet weather or piercing winter winds.

If your horse would be more comfortable with a winter blanket, be sure to choose a waterproof, breathable one that can be easily laundered so you’ll perform that task when necessary.  Read the two articles in the Horse Information Roundup that relate to winter blankets to help you choose and use a winter blanket properly.

The stalled horse that is in work not only appreciates but requires vigorous grooming.  A special Christmas session might include body stropping which is an isotonic muscle exercise.  You can use a cactus cloth or a wisp for the stropping.  It’s a vigorous exercise which includes pounding the large muscle masses of the neck, shoulder and hindquarter with moderate pressure which stimulates circulation and then casting off waste products with a sweeping motion.  Massage your horse’s legs with your hands using a circular motion toward the heart.  Massage your horse’s head with an ear rub for the finale – inside and out ending with a slight pulling as you slide your fingers off the tips of your horse’s ears.  Be forewarned – horses given such a body rub are likely to melt in a puddle!

If the cold weather has kept your horse in and he is lonely, he might appreciate a stall companion.  Some friendships just happen and do not have to be arranged.  Cats, chickens, lambs and dogs have been known to voluntarily take up quarters with a compatible horse. The daily treks and routines of both horse and companion provide interest and comfort for each other.  Pigmy goats and other pets or small livestock can sometimes be successfully transplanted in a lonely horse’s stall.

As we know, the holiday season is not complete without family and friends.  And so it is with equines.  A real treat, especially for a stalled horse, is to be turned out with a favorite (compatible!) companion.  There is nothing quite so joyous as two buddies ripping and tearing in the paddock, playing all the bucking and twisting games that are so important in the horse world.  Even though mutual grooming can mess up a lovely mane, it provides unequaled satisfaction and contentment for a horse that is starved for socialization
.
If you feel you must give an actual present to your horse, perhaps an innovative stall toy is the answer.  Designed to wile away the hours and discourage wood chewing and other vices, stall toys can channel pent up energies toward  non-destructive play.  Commercial models are often huge rubber balls but a gallon milk container can works too.  Experiment with hanging the toy from various heights.  Note that if your horse becomes obsessed with playing with a toy, you may see some undesirable changes in the curvature of his neck so monitor how he plays and what height is optimum. A variation on this idea is giving a horse a sturdy beach ball to play with in a small paddock or indoor arena.

Horses are appreciative when we make their work easier and more comfortable.  One way to do this is to make sure he is shod for balance, comfort and safety year round.  A consultation with an equine veterinary specialist or a master farrier may turn up some helpful ideas regarding your horse ‘s shoeing.  Besides checking for proper break-over and flat landing, you may be introduced to new ways to provide safe footing for winter riding.

Another way to make a horse’s work easier is to become a more physically fit and athletic rider. Give your horse the gift of becoming a more effective rider.  Promise to stick with the suppling exercises that help you to mount smoothly and ride more fluidly.  Lose a few pounds to ease his burden.  Strengthen your body and become a working member of the team, not just a passenger.  Make a New Year’s Resolution to take some riding lessons to improve yourself so that you are a better member of your horse-human team.

Finally, let your horse luxuriate in some peace and quiet.  Offer him a comfortable place where he can doze or lay without distracting lights and noises.  Let him sigh and whinny in his sleep and wake when he’s ready.  Peace.

 

Share

Read Full Post »

Winter Blanketing
©  2011 Cherry Hill
www.horsekeeping.com

Most horses begin shedding their summer hair in August and start growing thicker winter coats. In order to produce a dense, healthy coat, a horse’s diet should provide an adequate quantity and quality of protein. A normal winter coat has as much insulating capacity as most top-of-the-line blankets. The downward growth of the hair coupled with the stepped-up production of body oils makes the winter coat shed water and keeps moisture away from the skin. A dry horse has a much better chance of remaining a healthy horse.

A fuzzy winter coat can be deceiving if a visual inspection alone is used to assess condition. The round teddy-bear look can fool one into thinking a horse is in proper flesh. Feel the rib area for its flesh covering at least once every 30 days throughout the winter to monitor a horse’s condition.

Some horses may require the use of a blanket throughout the winter: the show horse, the clipped horse, the southern horse that moves north during the winter, the old horse, and the horse in severe weather with no shelter. Blanketing is a more expensive and labor-intensive alternative to winter care than the au natural approach but affords some benefits as well.

Miller's Haversham USET Stable Blanket

Good quality blankets are costly and often several must be purchased for each horse. Generally a quilted nylon type is used in the barn. The waterproof canvas-type with wool lining is one of the traditional turnout rugs as it is weatherproof and durable, but is very heavy. There are many tough turnout blanket available today that are lighter weight and easy care.

Rambo Classic Midweight Turnout Blanket

Blankets must be cleaned at least twice during the winter by washing in cold water with a mild soap. Dry cleaning solvents will destroy waterproofing and can shrink the bindings. Blanketed horses must be meticulously groomed on a regular basis to minimize rubbing and rolling. Horses are notorious for inflicting damages to their blankets. Some exterior shells are not tough enough to withstand rubbing, rolling and roughhousing from herdmates. Blanket repair is just a fact of ownership.

Proper blanket fit is paramount. Blankets that are too small can cause rub marks and sore spots on the withers, shoulder, chest, and hips. Extra large blankets have the reputation of slipping and twisting, possibly upside down which can cause the horse to become dangerously tangled. Blanket linings must be of a smooth material to prevent damage to hair, especially the mane near the withers and the shoulder points.

Overheating can be a real problem with blanketed horses. Often horses are turned out to exercise in the same blanket which they wore all night. What is appropriate for low night-time temperatures in a barn is not necessarily desirable for a sunny paddock, even though there still may be snow on the ground. An unblanketed dark horse has the capacity to absorb much of the sun’s energy.

Water-proof blankets do not allow for heat escape from normal body respiration unless they are also breathable. Too many layers can cause the horse to sweat, then chill which lowers the horse’s resistance by sapping the horse’s energy. This is an open invitation for respiratory infections. Check for over-heating by slipping a hand under the blanket at the heart girth area. To allow perspiration to evaporate, choose a breathable blanket for your horse. If he lives outdoors, make sure it is waterproof and  breathable.

Horses that have been body-clipped or trace-clipped must be blanketed. Clipping allows a horse to be more easily worked, cooled out, and groomed in the winter months. The first clip may occur in October and may need to be repeated five to six times throughout the winter and early spring. This will depend on the horse’s work, blanketing, and housing.

If a horse is not clipped and/or blanketed, but is allowed to grow a natural winter coat, a different set of rules comes into play. Grooming a long coat often consists of a minimal “dusting” of the hair ends, or no grooming at all. Vigorously currying a winter coat can disrupt the natural protective layer of oils which is essential for protection from moisture. After riding, rub the coat dry with a cloth or gunny sack or allow the horse to roll in sand or dry snow.

Winter presents unique problems for the horse. Paying attention to the horse’s needs will result in a healthier horse in the spring.

Share

Read Full Post »

Good Afternoon!

I am a newly developed horse lover and I just wanted to say I read your book “Cherry Hill’s Horsekeeping Almanac”. It was very informative and I enjoyed your insight.  In our Public Library that’s all we had on you and your books.  The horse selection is very old and few on the shelves here.  In the next few years I plan on having a career, or owning a few horses myself.  Thank you so much for writing the book and living the life you wanted.  Your an inspiration to me and all horse lovers a like.  Keep up the great work! Marilyn S.

 

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac

 

Hi Marilyn,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write.  I’m so glad my Almanac has helped inspire you to continue to reach for your dream.  I’m happy to share what I have been fortunate to experience and learn about horses and their care and training. The Almanac, which was published in 2007, was a perfect medium to be able to paint the whole year round picture here at Long Tail Ranch.

And thanks also for your encouragement to keep up the work ! The art of writing is applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and sometimes that keeps us writers out of the saddle more than we like ! But there are several new books in the works – one which I am just finishing up the final touches on and will be out in a few months.

I’ll post information about the new books when they become available or you can visit Chronology of Books and Videos by Cherry Hill – the newest ones are at the top of the left column.

Keep working toward your dream and best of luck to you,

Share

Read Full Post »

Hi Cherry,

I rescued two horses- a large Fell pony and a mini. Both had been abused and were starving. I’ve got their weight up, their hooves cared for, shots, worming etc.
But it has been almost 3 months and they are still very hard to halter, to clean their feet ( both have thrush) and to separate them to work with them ( just the simplest ground work in a nearby round pen)! When I have someone else, we can work it out fairly well but usually I am alone. I have few expectations, maybe short rides or a little pulling a cart ( both had some draft experience) – I’m now 65, and even though i had been a horse professional teaching in riding stables, training and judging in dressage,  I’m having an awful time with them. I need encouragement to keep them. It has been very expensive and wonder if others have rescue horse experience. Eileen

HI Eileen,

Just in my email box this morning was an article from The Horse which states that

Each year there are about 100,000 unwanted horses in the United States, too many for the registered equine rescue and sanctuary groups to handle, according to a recent survey by experts at the University of California, Davis. They found that the 236 registered rescue and sanctuary organizations could only help about 13,400 horses a year.

I have no personal experience with rescue horses but wanted to post your note so that if others want to reply, they can do so here.

I do know that retraining any horse can seem like it takes twice as long as it does to train a horse from scratch. Some of my colleagues say ten times as long !

When I taught in college and university equine programs, one of the ways we would get horses for the training and riding classes was through donations. Well, we received some wonderful horses and also some with interesting previous experiences and challenging behaviors. Some took several semesters to sort out and even then, might not be trustworthy with novice riders.

I do encourage you and applaud you for your efforts. It will take time, repetition and very frequent regular handling to alter their suspicious behavior. But it can be done.

Please refer to the many useful articles here on this blog related to ground training, desensitization and more. Here are some examples:

Head Handling

Horse Training – Handling, Gentling, Desensitization, Sacking Out, Flooding

Horse Behavior – Licking and Chewing

Also visit my Horse Information Roundup where I have posted hundreds of free articles related to behavior and training.

Best of luck and let me know if you have specific questions.

Share

Read Full Post »

We’ve tried and tried to use clippers on our horses ears but to no avail. She freaks out every time! What can you suggest that we can use to clean the hairs in her ears for shows. We’ve tried every form of desensitizing that can be thought of and nothing works. She simply can’t stand the buzzing noise. I want her to look groomed for shows but am at a loss as what to do now. Any suggestions. Mary

Hi Mary,

I understand, having been a horse show judge for over 25 years, that during show season you want to clip the hair from around and inside a horse’s ears.

Personally, I would never do that to a horse, but then we live on a ranch and our horses live in pastures, so clipping the hair out of their ears would mean they’d have to fight off bugs in the summer and have cold ears in the winter.

But getting a horse used to clippers around his ears is the same as any other desensitization.

You haven’t told me what you tried and how it worked or didn’t work, so I have very little to go on here.

Be sure to read the articles about:

Desensitization

Head Handling

because they contain the principles you need. You don’t say what your horse does when you try to clip her ears, just that “she simply can’t stand the buzzing noise”  – does this mean she doesn’t stand still, raises her head, shakes her head, lowers her head between her front legs, walks over the top of you, bites you, strikes at the clippers, lays down, pulls free and runs off? What?

If you care to write more details, perhaps I can be of more help, but in the meantime, like any other desensitization, it takes time and patience and time and repetition and time and progressive goals and time. Did I say it takes time?

Whether you want to clip your horse’s ears or not, you should be able to run clippers in the ear and bridle path area. Take the time it takes to get the job done. Start with being able to just hold the clippers turned off anywhere on her body, then running anywhere on her body. You won’t be clipping, you are just holding the running clippers on her hot spots. Find an area where her behavior starts to say NO and work there, even if it is under her chin or on her flank…..use that place to establish your system.

You repeat the stimulation there until she accepts it, then you remove the stimulation and reward her with a rub.

You never remove the stimulation until she relaxes and accepts it. If you remove the running clippers from a hot spot when she is “freaking” as you say, you have taught her to freak. Freaking gets her what she wants – the removal of the clippers.

Plan to take days, not hours or minutes to work on this. Once you have your system established, use it to desensitize her ears (without clipping). Your goal is not to clip, but to have the running clippers closer and closer to her ears.

Once you can run the clippers near her ears, it will be no big deal to clip.

Best of luck,

Share

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: