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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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Hi Cherry,

My name is Kaitlyn and I am trying to decide if my one acre piece of land will be enough for my two horses. I live in Maryland and I have a 6 year old paint and a 18 year old pony. All together they would have about a 1/4 acre a land each. They would only be allowed about 1-2 hours of grass daily and will each have a stall and a sacrifice area for the time that they are not on pasture. They will be ridden daily and will be supplemented with good quality hay and grain. Do you think this would be enough land? What are the minimum space requirements for horses to provide enough room for exercise?

Hi Kaitlyn,

The amount of land isn’t as important as the level of management.

If these horses are ridden daily as you say, what you outline below sounds great. Bravo for thinking ahead and planning the sacrifice pens.

Your challenge will be to manage the land so it doesn’t become overgrazed. It will be tempting for you to let the horses be out more than the pasture can handle.

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping AlmanacWhat would be ideal is to divide the 1/2 acre into two pieces. Graze the grass when it is 6 inches tall and when 50% of it is 3 inches tall, move the horses over to the other pasture. When a pasture is idle, you can spot mow the weeds – but set your mower on high so it doesn’t mow the grass, just the tall weeds. Because these are small pastures, you could use a walk-behind mower or weed whacker to target just the areas where weeds grow.

As long as these horses are ridden every day or 4-5 times a week, they will have plenty of exercise and when you turn them out, they will likely just put their heads down and eat or perhaps roll in the grass.

Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageBut to answer a little more specifically about acreage, one acre is 43,560 feet. If it was a perfect square it would be about 209 feet on each side. But land parcels are usually rectangular so that is why I used the example in Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage of one acre dimensions of 264 feet by 165 feet.

So if the horse pasture area is half that, or 132 x 165 but you divide that into two smaller pastures for rotational purposes, you’d end up with two pastures of 66 x 165. This is interesting because a dressage arena is 66 feet wide (and either 132 or 198 feet long), so what you have ended up with are two pastures that are the size of a dressage arena for the horses to graze and exercise in. Sweet !

I applaud your efforts to keep your horses (and yourself and your family) on one acre – it take diligence and good management.

Best of luck and keep me posted on how you lay things out.

Cherry Hill

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Those pesky heavy-duty, blood-sucking bombers that line up on a horse’s neck like shingles on a roof…….awfully irritating. We have problems with them here in the Colorado foothills near our creeks and springs for about two weeks this time of year and on trail rides in the timbered areas most of the summer. I’ve seen first hand how they can drive a horse crazy and cause large welts from their painful bites. Read more about horse flies and deer flies at the University of Kentucky site.  

I’ve found that a long-sided fly sheet that has a neck extension used in conjunction with a fly mask with ears and nose shield are a great deterrent to any flies. If you armor your horse like this, the only place you’ll have to spray or apply fly cream is under the jaw, and on the belly and legs.

Unfortunately, as you’ve probably discovered, application of fly products don’t seem to deter horse flies and deer flies for very long. And the fly traps that I talk about in Fly Control are effective for trapping house flies and stable flies but don’t attract horse flies and deer flies.

I’m not aware of any fly predators that target horse fly or deer fly larvae.

There is a trap specifically designed to capture horse flies which you can read about here.

Cherry Hill  horse training and horse care books and videos

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Horse Farm Management – Choosing a Tractor

Whether it is harrowing the arena, mowing weeds or moving hay, I love to operate my 60 horsepower 4WD utility tractor (To get an idea of the size of a utility tractor, that’s me mowing with it on the cover of the book at the end of this post). It is a real workhorse and has guts when I need it.

Whether you have one acre or one hundred, you probably need a tractor or ATV, some implements, a truck and a trailer.


Equipping Your Horse Farm by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

TRACTOR SIZE

Excerpt from Equipping Your Horse Farm

Tractors are generally grouped into four categories as dictated by size, weight, horsepower (see various horsepower designations below), and suitability for purpose. If only manufacturers would agree on the size classifications. One tractor manufacturer calls their compact tractor a utility tractor and one calls their garden tractors compact tractors. But for purposed of discussion, I’m dividing tractors into four groups and further subdividing two of the groups.

You might find that you want to purchase an All Purpose Vehicle (APV) instead of or in addition to a tractor. Read Chapter 7 in Equipping Your Horse Farm to learn how APVs differ from tractors. Many of the features and implement are similar, so even if you are not considering an APV, you’ll find lots of useful information there.

The main tractor groups are:
  • Lawn and Garden
  • Compact
  • Utility
  • Farm

Lawn and garden tractor.

(Up to 25 Horsepower; 1-2 cylinder gas engine or 2-3 cylinder diesel engine; weight approximately 500-1200 pounds)

This group can be subdivided into lawn tractors and garden tractors.

A lawn tractor is designed for mowing lawns. It has tires that minimize footprints (tracks) on lawns, a 2-3 gallon fuel tank, might have an electric Power Take Off (PTO explained later) but no or few attachments.

A garden tractor has tires with good traction for working in a garden, a 5-6 gallon fuel tank, a PTO (some are electric powered, some engine powered) with a hydraulic clutch, and some offer 4WD. Depending on the brand, garden tractors can be used with a full line of compatible attachments such as: dump cart, trailer, tiller, broadcast spreader, snow thrower, blade, roller, sprayer, spike aerator, disk, plow, cultivator and rotary broom.

A lawn or garden tractor is handy for driving through barn alleyways and pens or for pulling a small manure or feed cart. It would be unsuitable, however, for routine fieldwork, arena work, or large-scale feeding or manure handling. Lawn tractors can be an expensive option for horsemen – by the time you buy a tractor, a cart, and other attachments, you might have reached the same price range as a compact tractor. You could end up with half the tractor for the same price. You might want to consider purchasing a lawn tractor for light duty or barn work if you are planning to buy two tractors.

Compact tractor.

(Approximately 25 to 45 Horsepower; 2-4 cylinder diesel; 1400-2000#; category 1 or 2 hitch). This category is often broken into two subcategories: sub-compact and compact. Sometimes tractors in this category are also called a mid-size or acreage tractor; they are convenient, easy-to-operate tractors. Since they are not very tall, they are pretty easy to mount. The hitch is low to the ground, making attachment of implements convenient yet with compacts there is greater ground clearance (12 inches or more) than with garden tractors or sub-compacts. Generally, these are good tractors for teenagers to learn on.

Sub-compacts are available as low as 15 hp and up to 25 hp (10-16 PTO hp) with 2-3 cylinder diesel engines. What make these different from garden tractors are features, style and the fact that they are only available with diesel engines. Some are available with 4WD, 3 point hitches, loader and beefier implement choices. They have 6-8 gallon fuel tanks.

Compact tractors will usually have 3-4 cylinder diesel engines with up to 45 horsepower and use category 1 or 2 equipment (see hitches later in this chapter). They are good for all-around small acreage chores, but they are limited to the size of the attachments that can be used with them. They can pull about an 8-foot pull-type disc or a 6-foot three-point disc. They work well with a small manure spreader, especially the friction-drive type (see manure spreaders in Chapter 6). With a front-end loader or a 6-foot blade on the back, a mid-size tractor can work well for cleaning out pens and runs.

Older tractors in this category are the equivalent of the gasoline engine 8N Ford which was known as the estate tractor when it was manufactured (1939 to 1952). As a thumb rule, you can probably find a fairly decent older used gas tractor in this category in running order for approximately $2,000. There weren’t a lot of mid-size tractors manufactured through the late fifties up to the seventies, so the vast majority of used tractors in this size are at least twenty-five years old.

Since the late 1970s, most compact tractors are Japanese-made, many of them four-wheel-drive. They go for $10,000 new and for $5,000 to $6,000 used.

Utility tractor.

(Approximately 45 to 85 horsepower; 3-5 cylinder diesel engine; 1500-3000#; Category 2 hitch). These are taller, more powerful tractors, able to operate more heavy-duty equipment such as a post hole digger or a large loader, to scoop or push deep snow. They have a 20-30 gallon fuel tank. If you have a large arena and want to use a disc with two 8-foot sections, you will want to consider a utility tractor. If you need to handle large amounts of manure and you use a heavy-duty PTO-driven spreader, you will need a tractor of this size. Depending on economics at the time you are ready to purchase, you may well find a utility tractor for the same price that you would pay for a compact tractor. All other things being equal, if you think you might need the extra power, buy the larger tractor.

Farm tractor.

(Over 85 hp and up to 450 hp; 4-6 cylinder diesel engine; 2500-6000# and more; Category 2, 3, 3N, 4, or 4N hitch). Generally these tractors are designed for commercial farming so are bigger, more powerful, and have many features. There often have multiple hydraulic hookups and PTOs – at the rear, front and side. The transmission could have as many as 24 forward and 24 reverse gears with on-the-go 4WD. They can sport a fuel tank as large as 300 gallons. The tires are much bigger, so the trip to the cab often takes 2 or 3 steps, but the climb is well worth it. Large tractor cabs often have all the comforts of home: a plush, power seat with multiple adjustments, heat and air conditioning, sound system, tilt steering wheel, GPS system and more. Cabs on new tractors will be ROPS certified but on older models, not necessarily so. New cabs are well sealed to keep out the dirt, dust and fumes. Farm tractors without cabs might have foldable ROPS to allow parking under a lower roof.

Equipping Your Horse Farm by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

Equipping Your Horse Farm by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

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