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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

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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You might be on one side or the other of the horse slaughter issue in the US – or perhaps at this time you are uniformed and/or undecided.  Here are some facts and an abbreviated timeline. Feel free to leave your suggestions for solutions here or on Facebook.

The slaughter of horses has never been illegal in the US at the Federal level. However, it has been illegal in California since 1998.

In 2005 legislation removed funding for the inspection of horses slaughtered for meat which essentially put the the horse slaughter plants out of business.

H. R. 2744—45
SEC. 794. Effective 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, none of the funds made available in this Act may be used to pay the salaries or expenses of personnel to inspect horses under section 3 of the Federal Meat inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 603) or under the guidelines issued under section 903 the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 1901 note; Public Law 104–127).

In 2007, the last operating horse slaughter house (in Illinois) closed.

Since then statistics show that just as many or more horses were slaughtered each year, the difference being that they were hauled to Canadian or Mexican slaughter houses.

In November 2011 legislation was passed that allows the USDA to once again fund inspectors of plants that slaughter horses, so there is the possibility that horse slaughter plants in the US could reopen.

With many unwanted horses in the US (a high percentage of those starving) and rescue and adoption programs filled to capacity (a few of those being the worst offenders regarding lack of care), what is the answer?

For more information:

Read The Unwanted Horse on the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) website. You’ll find some very interesting and detailed Q&As there.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners also has some informative articles on their site, namely

The Unwanted Horse in the US

The AAEP Perspective on HR 503

We horseowners can agree on one thing:

None of us want horses to suffer, whether from neglect or malnourishment by irresponsible horse owners or by inhumane treatment when traveling or being euthanized.

What are some positive solutions to this controversial and complex problem?

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Friends and family around the country tell me how scarce and pricey hay is this winter. It seems like every year one section of the country has a drought or flood or something that affects or even wipes out the hay crop.

Even though good hay might be tough to find in your area, don’t be tempted to feed moldy hay to your horses.

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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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Horses should have access to salt at all times. I provide each of my horses with two salt blocks. One is a plain white salt block that is simply table salt; sodium chloride. The other is a calcium/phosphorus trace mineral salt block. It is sometimes called a 12:12 block because it contains 12% calcium and 12% phosphorus or an equal ratio of calcium to phosphorus, which is good for most adult horses.

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Hi Cherry
I have a, well, almost 3 year old Quarter Horse mare. Last time I weighed her she was about 800 pounds or so. She is a small girl, about 13 hands. The lady who feeds her I think is feeding her too much (a flake of alfalfa in the morning along with some oat, and some grass and oat at night) Though I think that oat doesn’t matter- for it’s just a filler, Ive been told.
A size 32 cinch is WAY to small on my horse and barely can go around her stomach.
Though she is stalky and so is her family, is she too obese for her size? I am worried about that. Jen

Hi Jen,

I wrote requesting you send me a photo of the mare as that would be helpful in formulating an answer. Without that visual, I’m going to refer you to several articles on my website that will help you get started in evaluating your horse’s weight.

What is the correct weight of a horse?

What should this horse weigh?

How do I put my horse on a diet?

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Help!  I have a wonderful 5 yr old QH mare that started stall kicking before feeding time and now pins her ears and bites at the stall wall while eating her grain or hay.  She is destroying the stall bit by bit.  We tried kicking chains to no avail.  Now we are using a horseshoe around her heel  and it seems to be working. However, she is still bodyslamming into the wall and pinning and biting the wall while eating.  We have no idea why she is doing this or what is causing her to be so nervous.  We purchased her in May and this didn’t begin until mid July, while we were away on vacation.  She has been treated for a capped hock numerous times and I don’t want this to get worse.  I had my trainer take her for a week and the kicking stopped.  Now that she is back in our barn it has begun again.  I have also talked with my farrier.  I need help as we love her dearly and don’t want her lame.  Unfortunately, we are stuck using our neighborhood barn and can’t really change her schedule.
She goes out at 7:30 am after feeding, to her paddock.  we bring her in at dinnertime and she stays in her stall at night. She is ridden by my 10 year old daughter and myself.  She gets 2 days off a week as be both take a lesson as well.  I would appreciate any guidance you could give.  Sincerely, Kim

Dear Kim,

Behavior such as you describe can have a variety of causes. Some are physical factors which you should discuss with your veterinarian. Others could be more psychological which can be modified with management and training. Observation and figuring out the cause is the first step.

Physical causes could include hormones and eating discomfort.

Mares can be “nervous” as you say, but usually only during certain times of their estrous cycle, so if this happens all the time year round, then hormones are probably not part of the cause.

If a horse is uncomfortable when eating, anywhere along the digestive tract from the teeth to the esophagus to the stomach to the intestines, the horse might exhibit odd body movements.

The most likely psychological explanation would be that it is an exhibition of “pecking order” behavior. At your “neighborhood” barn, if there is a horse in the next stall, your mare could be reacting to that horse’s presence. When eating, she might exhibit aggressive behavior on the stall wall with biting and body slamming to communicate to her next door neighbor – stay away, this feed is mine.

When at the trainer’s the behavior might have disappeared because there was no horse in the next stall or the horse next door was not a threat.

When working on changing a horse’s behavior, always start with the obvious things first:

Check to be sure the feed ration is appropriate

Make sure the horse is receiving adequate exercise and turnout time

Make sure the horse has no health issues such as dental problems, intestinal discomfort and the like.

Change the horse’s companions and neighbors to see if that is changes the behavior.


Best of luck and let me know what you observe and determine!

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This time of year when we have brought the horses in from winter pasture and they are enjoying full service pen life, we give them a taste of alfalfa every day. I think of it more as a top-dressing on their native grass hay.

I feed each horse 1 pound of high quality alfalfa per day. I figure that’s like giving them a tonic, a vitamin pill, some extra protein and calcium without inviting problems.

Here’s a question I got from a reader that you might find interesting.

Hi Cherry,

I have an ex-reiner now roping horse, he gets bored very easily. He is constantly playing in his water (even when I work him EVERY DAY). He plays in his water and pees constantly. I do not have a pasture to put him in but I can transfer him from my arena to stall daily. He is always ruining his stall by peeing and making it a lake…what is the best bedding that lasts the longest and stays dry for a continuous pee’er?? ANY info would be appreciated…

Cheri


Dear Cheri,

As always, it is good to get your veterinarian involved in such a conversation since frequent urination is a symptom of some serious health concerns. However, I’ll try to head you in the right direction with the information you provided.

First of all, a bored horse playing in his water won’t necessarily urinate excessively. It is a horse that drinks excessively that urinates excessively. So we need to figure out why he is drinking so much.

Frequent urination in horses can be caused by many factors. Here are a few:

  • A sign of a mare being in heat. But since you say “he”, then this is not the reason.
  • A horse that has colic. But since this is a continuous symptom, it is unlikely to be colic every day !
  • A reaction to a pasture plant or weed. There are so many that could cause a horse to drink more water than normal to rid his body of toxins or other chemical compounds. I don’t have any details about your pasture but this is one area that is suspect.
  • A symptom of Cushing’s Disease or kidney or liver problems, most often in older horses. You do say this is an ex-reiner, which may mean he is older so this could also be a possibility.
  • A glucose intolerance in an older horses who after eating have increased thirst and urination. Again, if he is a senior horse, this could be an explanation.
  • A symptom of blister beetle poisoning. Horses that ingest blister beetles in their alfalfa hay and suffer toxicity show behavioral signs of repeated splashing of the muzzle in water and frequent urination, among other symptoms. However, since you say your horse does this all the time, it is unlikely that this is the cause, but for sake of completeness, I wanted to include it. But it does lead me to the final item which is most likely the culprit.
  • A symptom of a horse that is fed alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay is very high protein feed, up to 20% protein. An adult horse does not require that much protein. And in order to convert protein into an energy fuel, a horse’s digestive system has to work hard and as a result his metabolic rate and temperature rise. That means, in most cases, a loose, watery stool and a warm horse. Already I am getting thirsty.

Also, alfalfa is very high in calcium, too high to meet the ideal 2:1 Calcium:Phosphorus ratio unless you feed the horse a lot of grain (grain is high in phosphorus) to balance it out. But that would not be good.

Excess protein can lead to kidney problems and frequent urination to get rid of the excess protein in the diet. And excess calcium can lead to kidney stones.

And speaking of stones, enteroliths (intestinal stones) are directly linked to an alfalfa diet. I wonder if you live in one of these states which have a higher incidence of enteroliths and which are states where alfalfa is a common horse feed?

        • California
        • New Mexico
        • Texas
        • Florida
        • Utah
        • Arizona
        • Nevada
        • and others

Well, you can tell I am not a big fan of feeding horses alfalfa hay. Is that what you have been feeding your horse? If so, it could explain his abnormal thirst and frequent urination. If you change to a grass hay, his stall will probably no longer be a lake and you won’t have to search for that super absorbent bedding.

Best of luck,   Cherry Hill

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Horse Weight

©  2011 Cherry Hill   © Copyright Information

saddlebred horse

Hi Cherry,

My name is Johanei and I’m from South Africa. The horse I’m leasing is a saddlebred and her weight doesn’t look to good for me!!

She’s 15.3 hands and weighs 385kg.

I really hope you can get back to me because some of the ponies are starting to weigh more than she is. She also has leg problems and the owner says she won’t be able to carry the weight which I don’t agree with. Please please please reply Enjoy you day and thanks for everything you do for horses.

Johanei

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping AlmanacDear Johanei,

Did you read this article on our website? It gives you complete guidelines to evaluate a horse’s condition: Correct Horse Weight

Hi Cherry

Yes I did read the article and I still think her weight isn’t right. She had Colic a while ago and the lady didn’t even let the vet come and she stopped giving her the food she use to get and she only fed her hay.

Even if shes a saddle bred, I asked one of my older friends that knows a lot about horses and she told me she’s too bony.

Please reply. Johanei

Dear Johanei,

For other readers, 385 kg is about 850 pounds. You say the horse is 15-3 hands tall. It would be hard to imagine a horse that tall at that weight, NOT being underweight.

The guidelines in the article indicate that the horse is underweight and your knowledgeable older friend agrees that she is underweight, so my best answer is that from what you are telling me, the horse is underweight. Without seeing the horse in person, I can’t say for sure how MUCH underweight, but I’ve never known a horse at that height and weight to be in healthy flesh.

Horse Health Care by Cherry HillSince you are leasing the horse, you have certain legal rights as outlined in the lease and one of them might be your right to have a veterinarian look at the horse. In that way you can have an unbiased third party determine if the horse is underweight, how severely, and what should be done about it.

It is good that you are concerned about the horse. You need to get a professional involved and the best bet would be your veterinarian.

Best of luck,


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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,

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