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Archive for the ‘Pasture’ Category

My friend has a 5 year old filly.  When he puts her out in the pasture she will stay by the back door unless another horse or even one of the llamas is out.  When he tries to walk her out in the pasture she goes in circles and tires him out by pushing on him to get him to go back to the barn. Daryl

Hi Daryl,

Horses are herd animals so seek comfort and security in numbers. This filly lacks confidence so just for safety sake, she would benefit from a companion animal (llama or another horse) when out on pasture.

To build her confidence, your friend could hold her training and riding sessions out in the pasture, building a strong bond with her out there. It sounds like she needs a thorough ground training review if she whirls or pushes when he tries to lead her. There are many articles on this blog (use the search tool in the right hand column) and my website horsekeeping.com related to behavior and ground training.

 

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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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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

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Here in the Colorado foothills, we are way behind in snowfall for the Winter 2010-11 season. (Thankfully the mountains above us are above average, sending good moisture down to our creek.) The wildfire season has already begun in Colorado.

But even without moisture, the pastures started greening up last week and we saw the horses micro-grazing, nipping 1/8″ bits of green grass, which of course is very hard on drought-stricken emerging grass.

Nipper Micro Grazing

So we brought all the horses in and they are now in sacrifice pens and back on full hay rations.

Hoping for rain or even snow !

Take care of your land and that good horse.

 

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Hi Cherry,

My old guys (Teddy is 22 and Brighty is “not yet 25” according to my vet) are getting up there in years and I want to be sure I’m doing everything I can to keep them feeling good as long as possible. Any general tips?

Briana

Hello Briana,

You’ve got a couple oldies but goodies ! Well here is some general information about older horses and some guidelines for their care. Let me know if you have more specific questions.

Cherry

Senior Horse Care

©  2011 Cherry Hill

Time flies and soon that good horse is a little gray around the muzzle. Even if your horse is over 20, you still can continue using and enjoying him or her. You just need to give some special attention to his care.

Value of a Seasoned Senior

Many folks say old horses make good teachers. Old is not necessarily synonymous with good. But if a senior horse had thorough training and a wide range of experience, he can be a valuable mentor. Seasoned seniors are usually calm and stable. They’ve been there and done that…and then some. There’s nothing like an old timer to take a kid for her first lope or to give confidence to a novice adult rider.

Seniors are valuable role models for young horses too. A good pony horse makes the tag-along yearling obedient and confident. When trailering, a senior can exude “What’s the big deal?” and soon the colt in the next stall relaxes and starts munching. On the trail, an unflappable veteran shows the way past rock monsters and through creeks. And for just plain osmosis, there’s nothing better than having a good old horse around to show junior the ropes. It’s just too bad our good horses can’t last forever, but at least today, they are lasting longer.

Many of today’s horses get high quality care and, like humans, they are living to ripe old ages. In the past a horse in its late teens was approaching the end of his life but now the average lifespan is the mid-twenties with many ponies and Arabians in their thirties.

Signs of Aging

A 20-year-old horse is the approximate equivalent of a 60-year-old person but when and how a horse ages is extremely variable. Some senior horses are raring to go while others prefer to vegetate. Horses can reproduce later in life than humans can. Healthy mares kept on a regular breeding program can foal well into their twenties and semen can be viable in stallions as old as 30.

Seniors often grow thicker, longer winter coats and might hold onto them past spring. Just as we gray around the temples at varying ages and degrees, some horses gray around the muzzle, lower jaw and eye sockets. Other cosmetic changes include hollow depressions above the eyes, a hanging lower lip and loss of skin and muscle tone. Common problems of aging are arthritis, colic, heaves, laminitis, lameness, general stiffness, poor digestion, decreased kidney function, and an overall lack of energy.

When an older horse starts slowing down, you can call it lazy, laid-back or just plain exhausted – but the fact is, time does take its toll. Fortunately you can increase a senior’s energy level and prevent many ailments through proper management and exercise.

Shelter

Provide the veteran with comfortable accommodations. On our place, the Luxury Senior Suite is a 12′ x 50′ south facing pen with a 32-foot long wrap around wind wall. The barn roof extends over 1/3 of the pen and half of the covered area is rubber-matted for feeding. It’s an ideal combination of indoor/outdoor living which suits most horses to a T. The pen is adjacent to an indoor stall for bitter cold weather and it’s ten steps away from a 10-acre turnout pasture.

In my estimation, life in a stall takes its toll on any horse, but especially a senior. The small space and lack of regular exercise just spells STIFFNESS! If a senior horse must live indoors, he needs regular exercise. In addition, dust and ammonia in the barn must be eliminated. Dusty bedding, moldy feed, dust raised from aisle sweepers and other airborne debris can contribute to the respiratory disorder heaves (COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Ammonia fumes, which are generated from decomposing manure, urine and bedding, are caustic to the respiratory tract of both horses and humans. Keep stalls clean and be sure the barn is well ventilated.

Many horses are happiest living on pasture. For free-minded old timers, choose a pasture that has enough room to roam but not so much lush grazing that it leads to an unhealthy weight gain. No matter where a senior lives, provide a soft place for him to lie down for at least a portion of the day.

As horses get older, they have less tolerance for temperature extremes so your horsekeeping practices might need to be re-evaluated year round. For protection from winter wind and snow, an in-and-out shed is ideal. But oddly, many horses choose to stand out in a blizzard so you may need to provide a stall or storm blanket. A waterproof-breathable winter blanket with long sides, tail flap, and neck protection can function as a mobile horse house and keep your senior toasty.

During the summer, provide shade, ventilation and fly protection. A roof strategically located where it takes advantage of natural breezes is ideal. Add a PVC mesh fly sheet and a pasture horse will have UV and fly protection. Large barn fans can be used to cool stalled horses and chase flies.

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Dear Cherry,
We might be getting 2 more horses. They are sound and calm.  We already have two horses male and female they are mean to other horses. Should we put them in their stalls and leave them there for a few days with the new horses?
Emma

Hi Emma,

Not knowing your facilities options and how mean your current horses are, I’ll give you some general advice and ideas.

First of all, many horses appear mean when actually they are just establishing their pecking order – the social order in a herd – who is top horse and who is next and so on. But some horses ARE mean – they are grouchy and aggressive. I don’t know which yours are but will refer to them as the mean horses as you did.

When the new horses arrive, if they are used to living together, you can house them together, such as in a large covered pen while they get used to the sights and sounds of their new home.

Their pen should not have a common fence line or panel line or wall with your current “mean” horses. But they should all be able to see each other.

Let them live this way for as long as it takes for everyone to settle in.

Then depending on your facilities, you can either start housing the horses closer to each other or begin mixing them. I don’t know how safe your fencing is, but if it is tall, strong and safe, you could put the least mean of your horses in a pen next to the two new ones. As long as the new horses’ pen is large enough that they can avoid being next to the mean horse if they want, eventually the 3 horses will work out some sort of agreement. It might takes several days.

Then you could return the first mean horse to his regular pen and bring the other one over to live next to the two new ones.  Once all the horses have had a chance to get used to each other, you could consider adding one of the mean horses to the group of two new horses. Be sure the area you do this in is large enough so that all three horses have enough room so as not to get cornered.

The main thing is to take the time it takes to let the horses get used to each other.

You might find that one of the mean horses isn’t really mean and shows that he prefers to live calmly with the two new horses while the other mean horse truly is mean and needs to be housed alone.

Enjoy the opportunity to observe horse behavior and be safe !

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I have a mare that just recently decided that she will eat grass and by golly she will eat! She’s my first horse and I’ve owned her for two years now and we just moved her to our own property about a month ago.
I’ve been training her, as she hadn’t been trained very well and I can’t figure out how to make her stop.  Every time I go out for a ride she throws her head down and eats.  No matter what I do I can’t bring her head up, and if she does, then it goes right back down again.  Riding her has become a fight that I can’t really win and she’s no longer a joy to get on.  I don’t want to be cruel and tug on her mouth and kick or use severe corrections, because I know those just put fear into the horse.
I would really appreciate it if you could give me a pointer or two if you have time.  Thanks for reading this!
Katie

Hi Katie,

You can approach this situation with ground work or when you are riding. In either situation, make sure the horse has just eaten her full feed of hay and any supplements or grain she gets. Or if she is a pastured horse, be sure she has had her usual time on pasture.

For example, our horses are turned out for 12 hours overnight to graze. When we lead them out to pasture in the evening, if I would stop on the way to the pasture in spot with lush grass, it wouldn’t surprise me if my horse would start salivating and looking at that grass with an intent to dive down and grab some. But in the morning, when I jingle the horses, the last thing on their minds is to eat grass on the way back to the barn. They’ve had their fill.

So as soon after your horse finishes eating, begin your training session. You will have better chance for success on a full stomach.

First a few pointers and tips.

If you don’t feel confident doing this yourself, ask for someone to help you. Sometimes just the confidence of having someone nearby will help things go better. And its a good safety precaution.

If you feel unable to perform these exercises in a grassy area, first practice them in the arena or a pen just to get your timing down.

I suggest you review all ground training exercises to see where your horse’s strengths and weaknesses are so you can build on her strong points and work on improving her weak areas. You can see an In-Hand Checklist here.

I’d start out with ground training. I’d outfit the horse in a rope halter and you could consider putting a grazing muzzle on the horse for the early lessons. A grazing muzzle will prevent your horse from eating even if she DOES get her head down. You see, each time your horse even snatches one blade of grass when she dives down, she has rewarded herself for her behavior. Each time she does this, it becomes a more deeply entrenched habit, one that will require more persistence on your part to change. So if you can first eliminate the reward, no grass, even if she does dive down, she won’t get the grass !

How to Think Like a Horse by Cherry Hill

How to Think Like a Horse by Cherry Hill

Now you have several choices as to how you want to approach this.

1. Establish rules as to when a horse can and can’t eat elsewhere and then here. Like you train dogs to wait until you give them a bowl of food, teach your horse to wait until you give him the signal to approach his grain. You’ll need to develop a clean distinction between when it is fine to eat and not eat. You should be able to dump grain in a dish on the ground and your horse should wait until you give her the signal it is OK to move forward to eat. You should also be able to back your horse away from that dish while she is eating.

2. When the horse is most likely to snatch grass, be ready to give the horse something else to do. When she starts to lower her head, make her move forward right away – if ground training, send the horse out on the longe line. If riding, use your method to get the horse to move forward – use as little as you need to get the job done but as much as it takes from leg pressure to clucking to kicking to a tap with a whip to spanking across the hindquarters with a rope. The object is to get the horse to move her feet forward and raise her head. As soon as she does, stop your cues.

3. Whether you are ground training or riding, when a horse starts to dive down, turn the horse rather than pull straight back on both reins. Pulling back or up doesn’t accomplish much more than isometric arm exercise for you and banging on the horse’s mouth ! Instead turn the horse one way or the other. When riding this is best done in a snaffle bit, a side pull or a bosal using a leading rein. Bend the horse and send him forward at the same time and once you gain control, “bait” him again by giving the horse a slack rein.

4. As with many training situations, when you are riding a grass snatcher, you must always be “on” – always ready to react.

101 Longeing and Long Lining Exercises by Cherry Hill

101 Longeing and Long Lining Exercises by Cherry Hill

Best of luck and let me know how your horse training program progresses.

Cherry Hill

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