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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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Horse Management:

Keeping a Horse in a Pen or a Run

©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

Just when we were getting the horses used to some grazing, we got some crazy weather that dumped a lot of rain on us. Being that this is a semi-arid area with between 15-17 inches of moisture per year, we are ALWAYS glad of any rain or snow. However, because of the low annual moisture, our pastures are very fragile and it would take them a lot of time to recover from hoof damage during muddy weather or “whole plant grazing”. That’s often what happens when it is wet here – the horse takes a bite and instead of the grass breaking off, the horse pulls the whole plant out, roots and all.  I think of how long it took that grass plant to establish and survive over the weeds yet in one casual nip, its gone. That’s a bad thing !

So to be the best stewards of the horse AND the land that we can be, when it is muddy, like it is today, the horses must stay in their large sheltered pens. They are often called “sacrifice pens” because the pasture that once was where the pens are now has been sacrificed – there is no vegetation.

Keeping a horse in a large pen or run is often a necessity so here are some guidelines about pen life for horses.

Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage by Cherry Hill

Keeping a Horse in a Pen or Run

When you want your horse to have some room to move around but you don’t have access to a pasture, a good set up can be a group pen or individual run. These are usually located adjacent to a barn or other covered shelter and can vary in size from a bare minimum of 16’ x 60’ individual run off a stall to a 60’ x 100’ or larger pen off the end of a barn or loafing shed for a group of horses.

A good pen has safe, durable fencing and comfortable, well-draining footing. The pen should be located on high ground and be situated such that the horses can take shelter from cold wind, wet weather, hot sun and insects as needed. There should be a clean place to feed and a comfortable place for horses to lie down. To prevent feed from blowing away, windscreens can be attached to the outside of the panels.

The land in pens and runs is considered “sacrifice” because no vegetation is expected to survive the constant traffic. If the natural lay of the land doesn’t slope away from the barn or shed, then excavation should remedy this so that the shelter under the building is high and dry and the pen or run gradually slopes, about 2 degrees, away from the building.

Depending on the native soil, footing can be added to provide cushion and minimize mud. Some choices are decomposed granite, road base, and pea gravel.

A sheltered feeding area with rubber mats allows a horse to eat off ground level without ingesting sand or wasting feed.

In the loafing area of the pen, bedding can be used to encourage a horse to lie down but it usually invites a horse to defecate and urinate there also. This behavior can be minimized or eliminated by locking a horse out of the loafing or eating areas except during specific times.

Pen fencing can be made from metal panels or continuous fencing. Panels don’t require setting posts so are more adaptable to changing pen size or shape. Whatever pen fencing is used, it needs to be tall enough (5’ is OK, 6’ is better) and strong enough to withstand roughhousing, rubbing, and playing across the fence. Panel connections should be tight and safe.

Pros and cons of pen life. See the book Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage.

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