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We know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Some horses at some times also know this. But it is interesting to observe the other routes horses take which must be perfectly normal to them.

Right now we have our 3 horses out on 3 separate pastures. In the morning when I jingle my mares, I first go to Aria’s pasture and when I rattle the metal gate her head comes up, she does a turn on the hindquarters until she faces me and then walks a straight line to me, sometimes not so fast as I’d like, but basically a straight line. Her walk to the gate is downhill.

Then I go to Seeker’s pasture gate – of course by then, she knows “its time” so she has started walking up to the gate. Her trek to the gate is all uphill. The path she chooses is quite interesting in that she probably covers twice as much ground as she would if she came straight to the gate. It is obvious that her choices are based on ease of travel. Instead of coming directly uphill toward the gate, she weaves back and forth…….like a sensible mountain trail horse I guess.

Then there is the energizer bunny Sherlock. When Richard goes out to call him in, as soon as he whistles, Sherlock kicks into his floating, ground covering canter, but because he loves to move, he takes the scenic route. There is no doubt that he is definitely on his way to Richard but he might canter the entire perimeter of the 20 acre pasture on his way there. Very fun to watch. And even with all that traveling, he probably takes less time to get there than the girls do when I call them !

Horses. What a treat to observe.

 

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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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Cherry: Do you cover cross fencing and electric fencing in any of your books?  We just moved and my copies of your books are still packed away somewhere.

Mary Rose

Hi Mary Rose,

Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage, 2nd Edition has a 37 page chapter devoted to fencing with many color photos, diagrams and illustrations. There is much information on electric fencing and cross fencing.

Here’s a summary of that chapter:

Chapter 11 Fencing

Planning
Posts
Gates
Fence Types
Wood
Wood Preservatives
Buck Fence
PVC
PVC Coated Wood
Pipe Fence
Continuous Fence Panels
Wire
Wire Rail and Coated Wire
Miscellaneous Fencing
Electric Fence
Riding Fence
Comparative Cost of Fencing
Fencing Turnout Areas
Panels

On Horsekeeping, my website, I have some general information on planning fencing which I will post here:

No single type of fence will be suitable for all of your plans.  It could be perfectly logical for you to have five or more types of fencing on your horse acreage for your various needs: pens, paddocks, runs, pastures, round pen, arena and so on.  Good fencing serves many purposes.  It keeps horses separated and in a particular place away from the residence, lawns, crops, vehicles, buildings, and roads.

Fences maintain boundaries and property lines.  They promote good relationships between neighbors.  Fences decrease liability as they lessen the chance of a horse doing damage to other’s property; they decrease the chance of a horse getting on the road and causing an accident; and they can be devised to keep people, especially children and animals (especially dogs and other horses), off the property.  Good fencing is designed to keep horses from getting hurt whether the horses are turned out or being trained.  And finally, attractive fencing really can set off an acreage and add to the value of the property.

One of the main considerations as you choose your fencing materials is that the risk of injury is greater and more common with horses than with other livestock.  Since a horse’s main purpose is movement, leg injuries, which are frequently associated with fence accidents, can put a horse temporarily or permanently out of service.  Safe fences for horses are sturdy and well-made.  Barbed wire is not a suitable horse fence.

Other factors to consider when choosing fencing are materials that are sturdy, low maintenance, highly visible, attractive, and affordable.

When laying out fence lines, avoid acute angles which can cause a horse to become cornered by other members of the herd, even if only in play.  When running, whether from fright or exuberance, horses will go through or over fences.  Four and a half feet is the absolute minimum fence height to discourage horses from jumping.  Five to six feet is better, especially for stallions, the larger breeds, or those specifically bred and trained for jumping.

Best of luck with your new property !

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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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Dear Cherry,

I recently learned that I was the new owner of a couple of horses. One a pony and the other a brown and white horse. The pony has been broke before. The big horse has not. We have land for them to roam and water and plenty of food for them. But I have never owned a horse and would like to most definitely learn. I just don’t know how to approach this situation. How should I begin this process?

Thanks, Salvador

Hello Salvador,

Well, you have a most exciting adventure ahead of you.

First of all, although you can learn a lot from the internet, books and DVDs, the best possible advice I can give to you is for you to find an experienced, trusted horse owner or trainer/instructor in your area who can help you get started. For example, you will need to find a farrier and a veterinarian and an experienced horse owner/trainer/instructor in your locale so you have people to contact.

101 Horsekeeping Tips DVDAn experienced horse owner will be able to take a look at your fences and pastures and give you an opinion as to if their suitability for horses and if your pastures provide enough of the right type of feed. Even if you have wonderful pastures and water, you will need to provide the horses with salt and mineral blocks. Horses should have access to salt at all times.

Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageAs far as taking care of the horses on your land and managing your fences and buildings, I’ve written a book specifically for that. It is called Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage and discusses all you need to know as far as the care of the horse on your property.Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

Horse For Sale by Cherry HillWhen it comes to specific health care skills such as feeding, deworming, vaccinations, hoof care and so on, you can ask your farrier and veterinarian to help you somewhat and you can also refer to Horse Health Care and Horse Hoof Care.

Now when it comes to handling the horses, ask your experienced new friend to help you assess what the pony and the horse know and what they need to learn. Then you can make a plan as to how to proceed from day to day. It is probably best for the horses and your safety for you to have help with both the pony and the horse until you have developed the confidence to handle them on your own. I have posted much information on my website about ground training, manners and so on which will be very helpful to you. And I’ve written many books on all levels of training. You can look through a complete list of books by topics in the Book Barn.

Once you get started, you will have a hundred more specific questions, so feel free to write again.

Best of luck and be safe,Cherry Hill horse trainer and author of 30 books and DVDs

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Where is the summer going ??!! I can’t believe August is nearly half gone.

But no matter what month of the year, we horsekeepers are busy ! Here are a few things pertinent to August here on Long Tail Ranch.

These are excerpts from my book Cherry Hill’s Horsekeeping Almanac.

©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac

Dental Work

Fall is a good time to have routine dental work completed: floating teeth, removing wolf teeth if necessary, and removing retained caps. Because a horse’s upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw and horses chew from side to side, as their molars wear, they form sharp points on the outside of the upper molars and the inside of the lower molars. To keep these sharp points from cutting your horse’s tongue or cheeks as he eats, they should be filed (floated) regularly with a special file called a float that attaches to a long handle.

At the same time, your vet can remove caps and/or wolf teeth. Caps are temporary premolars (baby teeth) and molars that have not completely dislodged even though the permanent ones have erupted. In between dental visits, monitor your horse to determine if he needs more frequent visits.

Here are some sign of necessary dental work:

    • Bad odor from mouth
    • Quids (wads of food around feeding area)
    • Feed falling from mouth during eating
    • Weight loss
    • Sharp points

Remove a Loose Shoe

Use the following procedure to remove a shoe that has become bent, dangerously loose, or has rotated on your horse’s hoof. Necessary tools include : clinch cutter, hammer, pull-offs, and crease nail puller.

  1. Using the chisel end of the clinch cutter, open the clinches by tapping the spine of the clinch cutter with the hammer. A clinch is the end of the nail folded over; this needs to be opened so that the nails can slide straight through the hoof wall when pulled without taking large hunks of hoof with them.If the shoe has a crease on the bottom, you may be able to use the crease nail puller to extract each nail individually allowing the shoe to come off.Nails with protruding heads can be pulled out using the pull-offs. If you can’t pull the nails out individually, then you will have to remove the shoe with the pull-offs.
  2. After the clinches have been opened, grab a shoe heel and pry toward the tip of the frog.
  3. Do the same with the other shoe heel.
  4. When both heels are loose, grab one side of the shoe at the toe and pry toward the tip of the frog. Repeat around the shoe until it is removed.Never pry toward the outside of the hoof or you risk ripping big chunks out of the hoof wall. As the nail heads protrude from the loosening of the shoe, you can pull them out individually with the pull-offs.
  5. Pull any nails that may remain in the hoof.
  6. Protect the bare hoof. Keep the horse confined in soft bedding.

Blister Beetles

Four to six grams of blister beetles (whole or part, fresh or dried) can kill and 1100 pound horse. That’s because they contain cantharidin, a toxic and caustic poison. There is no antidote. Research has shown it is the striped blister beetle that is the source of cantharidin.

Typically, blister beetles will appear after the first cut (mid June or later) and disappear by October, so usually first cut and last (late 4th) cut hay is safer than 2nd or 3rd cut. Blister beetles tend to cluster in large groups often in the area of 1-2 bales but hay growers know that if left alone after cutting, most blister beetles evacuate the field. You need to know your alfalfa hay grower; ask him what he did to eliminate blister beetles in the field.

Buy only first cut or October hay. Inspect alfalfa hay before you buy and again before you feed.

Protect Riparian Areas

Riparian refers to the vegetation and soils alongside streams, creeks, rivers, and ponds. These are precious areas that can easily be damaged by horses.

Manure, urine, overgrazing, destruction of trees, and the creation of muddy banks all can lead to less vegetation, warmer water temperatures, more algae, less fish, and decreased wildlife habitat. Monitor and limit horses’ access to natural water sources so that a natural buffer zone of grasses, brush and trees is preserved around the edges of ponds and creeks. This buffer zone is essential for filtering nutrients from excess runoff before it enters the water.

Choke Cherries

Choke cherries are ripe during August. Although horses don’t eat the berries, the leaves are poisonous to horses and the berries attract bears.

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