Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I wanted to give Horse.Com, formerly Country Supply, a plug as they have provided many of my supplies and supplement needs over the years. They have very good internet and phone service,fast shipping, not to mention low prices.

I use Horse.Com to order Electrolytes, Hoof, Joint Support, Sand Colic and Digestive supplements, wormers, hardware, cleaning supplies and more. Heck, I've even bought some packing supplies and equipment from Horse.Com

If you give them a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Go to their web site to look at what they have available.
safe journey.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry?

Greg from Lubbock, Texas e-mailed and asked what size horse he should be looking for, as he is 6’2” tall and weighs in at a whopping 280 lbs. Sorry Greg, but you ARE a big man. I am assuming you are a novice or occasional rider.

Several people know Greg is looking for a horse, primarily for trail riding, but maybe for some events like team penning or maybe in arena roping in the future, but most of the horses he’s looking at seem small to him or for him, but the sellers are telling him that the horses will work for him.

Greg if you ride the horse you are interested in, and you should, and if that horse’s legs and feet splay out to the sides, then that horse isn’t big enough for you. In all seriousness, you are going to adding about, what 27 to 50 lbs of saddle in addition to your weight? Close to it, I’d imagine.

The average horse will carry 20% of his weight comfortably. Meaning a 1,000 lbs can easily and comfortably carry 200 lbs granting his condition and health and age allow for it. I try to keep weight to 20% of the horse when packing, but packing loads can’t move to help the horse,’s basically dead weight. Not real comfortable saddles either.

Now, I'm not suggesting your need a 1,500 lb Draft Horse. If your trail riding fairly short distances or competing in arena events, I think an average sized horse, around 15.2 to 16 hands and approx 1,100 lbs or more will work for you, if the horse is young and sound enough. Even though these days, a lot of horses are viable for substantial work into their 20’s, I would stay away from older horses. I’d say you are looking for something around 6 to 14 years old.

I have ridden with some fairly big Cowboys. A couple of the guys your size usually have a bigger horse than most. One of the old partner’s rides a Thoroughbred off the race track who is 16.3 hands but doesn’t weigh a great deal, maybe 1,250 to 1,300 lbs and this horse carries this old Cowboy everywhere he wants to go.

You can’t read a horse’s heart, but you can certainly pre-buy ride him to see if you think he is suitable, moves out without balking, and get a general feeling for the horse. A pre-buy Vet check is also a good idea on the horse you think you want to buy. In fact, having a good horseshoer look him over would also be a good idea.

As far as these sellers,...there is a lot of “horse traders” out there. This is a generally negative term to describe people who buy and sell horses without regard to the horse or the client. I have seen many people misrepresent horses in order to make a sale. Find someone with some horse sense that you trust to go along with you looking at sale horses. Since you are in Lubbock, home of Texas Tech and their Equine Program, I suggest swinging by their barn and talking to some people,....I’m sure they’ll be more than helpful.

Hope this helps you, Good luck and Safe Journey.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Horse Health Care – Spring and Summer Coming, Remember Water and Salt

With the start of Spring, especially in the Southern portions of the Country, and then inevitably the hot Summer following that, your horse’s water and salt needs are going to increase.

I have seen more than my share of algae and dirt ridden stock tanks or water buckets. One of the biggest causes of inadequate water consumption by horses is poorly palatable water. One of the is the simplest things you can do to ensure your Horse’s health is protected is to provide fresh clean water – at all time.

At rest in a moderate temperature, a horse will drink about ½ to 1 gallon per 100 pounds of body weight per day. A 1,100 pound horse will therefore drink 5.5 to 11 gallons. This is the very low end of a Horse’s water requirements.

Various factors will affect the amount of water a horse needs like: Temperature; amount of dry forage consumed as well as type and amount of other feed; exercise or activity level; and, overall physiological health of the horse. The more the horse is worked, the hotter the temperature the more water that horse will need to consume. Lack of water probably produces more deaths, more rapidly than lack of any other item. During 100 degree heat, a horse can lose 12 to 16% of his body weight, over a 2 ½ day period without water.

What is interesting is that horses, in hotter temperatures, will not drink very much more water at any one time, they will just drink more frequently.

I have ridden horses hard, covering 20 miles or more in 100 degree heat, and then have had that horse refuse a drink when I have offered it. As with humans, thirst or lack of thirst is no indication of dehydration level.

Usually I feed early in order for the horse to finish his feed then drink prior to the start of the day so he can be as hydrated as possible before I ask too much out of him. If I am anticipating a hard day or a long ride, I’ll also soak a hay net full of grass hay in water and let my horse eat that prior to the start of the day, or eat while in the trailer going some place.

A horse that is dehydrated will have dry mucous membranes such as indicated by a blanch test of his gums. Use your thumb to put pressure on the gums as this pushes blood away from the tissue. When you release, blood should refill quickly and the gums should go back to a normal color within a second or two. This is called “capillary refill”. Slow capillary refill indicates possible dehydration.

A pinch test of the skin along the neck can also give an indication of a horse that is dehydrated. This is another example of capillary refill. The faster the skin lays flat the more dehydrated the horse is. If the skin you pinched stays “tented” then yur horse may be dehydrated. A colicky horse may also appear and be dehydrated as available water in the system is pulled away from the periphery and pushed to the gut to deal with the blockade.

Most feeds do not contain the Sodium (salt) needs of even the inactive horse. Free choice Salt, through a salt block, should also be available to the horse. This is generally the only salt that needs to be added to the diet as horses will consume enough to meet their needs.

There are generally three types of Salt or Salt-Mineral blocks:

White block is plain salt, sufficient for most horses;

Light red block is generally Iodized Salt;

Dark red or brown block is trace-mineralized Salt.

It has been my experience that most horses prefer a plain salt block (the white one). I have tried various blocks and found that most horses do not like the iodized or trace-mineralized salt blocks. You can buy the blocks in small bricks as opposed to the 50 lb blocks to test and see what your horse will use. It’ll take a week or two to see which block they’ll lick most.

Stay on top of dirty stock tanks and water buckets. Give your horses fresh clean water and you’ll reduce potential for problems. Safe Journey.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Horse Care - Selecting a Horse Stables or Boarding Facility.

Jeremy and his wife are in the Army and are re-locating from Kentucky to Missouri, are fairly new to horses and are looking to purchase a horse and board near the Army installation. They apparently found out that the Army Stables where they are going is small, filled up and has a waiting list. They asked what to look in a private or public stables or boarding facility to re-locate their horse to or if they buy a horse after they move.

My answer to Jeremy and his wife: Please go into horse ownership with your eyes wide open. Soldiers often are overwhelmed with long work hours so the care of the horse often falls to the spouse. Ensure you can afford the cost (both money and time wise) and understand what a large committment this entails.

The cost of care and management of your horse at the public/private stables need to be well defined…..just what are you paying for? It is not as simple of just hearing “full care” or “partial care”.

If the stables is a “full care” facility that usually means they feed and water the horse, and pick manure from the stalls. They may or may not provide the feed. Often boarding stables bring loads of hay in at their costs and bill the individual horse owners for what they use.

What do they feed as per type of hay, how much and when?

Where is the hay stored at? Look at it and see the quality. Does any of it look to be molding?

How big are the stalls and are they covered to give some protection from rain and Sun? Are the stalls safe and absent of hazards?

Do they use automatic watering? If not, how big are the stock tanks and do they appear to be regularly cleaned?

Does the Stables require health documentation such as an EIA (Coggins) Test and required immunizations?

Is there a quarantine requirement for new incoming horses?

Does the full care cost also include worming, and if so how often and what schedule are they on?

Does the full care cost include turning the horse out into a turnout? If so, how often?

What areas can you ride in and when? Is there trail riding or open fields, forests or deserts to ride in? Is there an arena or a large round pen available?

Walk around and see if the stalls appear to be excessively dirty. How do the other horses boarded there look? Look particularly the feet (hooves). I would be wary of a stables that allows the owners to neglect hoof care.

How about the horses the owners own,….to they appear to well cared for?

How many other boarders are there? What is the turnover rate? Why are people leaving? Talk to them and see if you could live with their personalities. Often there may be some horse smart people there that you can rely on for help learning.

Do the owners sell horses? If so, this may be horse trading operation where horses at bought at sale barns and rapidly turned over or sold.

Are there operating hours? Or do you have 24/7 access to your horse? Are they any security precautions or measures to protect the horses from unauthorized access?

I may be jaded in my views and experience, but I have seen a lot of low rent operations in business thinking they can make money. In fact, my standing up of this site was intended to help new un-experienced horse owners and even some experienced horse people who may not know there is a better way.

Most of us know there is minimal money making involved in the horses business, so the places you want to avoid are Boarding Facilities that answer most of the above questions in a negative manner. I have seen many facilities that do not require any health documentation; do not have a quarantine process; bring in a load of hay, require all to purchase the hay they provide (and charge double); charge for a non-existent worming program and charge for non-existent turnout,…..all in order to make a buck.

Good luck in your search for a suitable horse and boarding facility. I understand the Army has been closing down a few, if not many, of their Horse Stables facilities on military installations - probably not as important as Tennis programs or basketball courts. Safe journey.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Horse Training Tools – The Lariat Rope, More Than Just for Roping Cows

The Lariat Rope, given the name from the Spanish word “La Reata” who Spanish and Mexican Cowboys (Vaqueros) taught Anglos how to rope almost two hundred years ago, is a piece of working gear for the range Cowboy. It's appropriate that we call the working rope a "lariat" as Vaqueros had and continue to have a large influence on the way we work cows and train horses. Lariats have becomes highly specialized with custom ropes for Arena Ropers in Team Roping, and Tie Down Roping competition.

In fact, the great majority of ropes available today are built for arena roping. Companies like Cactus, Fast Back, King, Classic, and Callaway among others offer many different lays (stiffness), diameters and lengths. Lays come in extra-extra soft (XXS) to medium soft (MS); from diameters of 5/16 to 3/8 inch and 9.5 to 11 millimeters; and in various lengths most common around 28 to 35 feet, depending if you’re a header or heeler. These ropes are a poly or nylon blends.

I like ranch ropes, which are quite a bit longer, 5/16 inch diameter, extra-extra soft lay, and with a metal (aluminum) Honda (the loop in which the rope is past in order to build a larger loop for catching cows and tightening), so I buy 60 foot ranch ropes from Craig Cameron ( and cut them down to 48 feet, which is about as much coiled rope I can handle with my reins in one hand.

As much as the Lariat is used for roping cows and pulling them out of mud holes, or roping and dragging calves to a branding fire, the Lariat is also a great Tool for Horse training. I used my rope to catch up my horse’s feet and sacking him out on standing still if he gets his feet caught up in rope or wire. Saved me and one of my horses one time when we got tangled up in bobbed wire on a ridgeline. I was glad as all get out that my horse stood still with all that bobbed wire wrapped around him, so I could dismount and cut it away.

The Lariat can be used to safely pick up feet on a new horse that is troubled by handling his feet.

The Lariat can be used as an expedient halter, looping the rope around a horse’s neck then passing another bit on the rope through this loop and over the horse’s nose. Or use simply as a catch rope to bring a horse out of a corral or pasture or if you have to pony a horse - if someone with you fell and got hurt, or the horses became lame and the rider couldn't ride him, you wouldn't want to pony that horse out using his reins if connected to a bit.

I have also used a Lariat around my saddle horn as I climbed down an incline, to check on something, both to keep my horse from spooking and running away and to give me an assist to help climb back up. That’s reminds me of the old saying about a Cowboy getting bucked off his horse – he was so mad he made the horse walk back to the ranch all by himself. Safe Journey.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cowboy Cure for Chapped Lips

You see strange things and learn a lot of common sense things riding horses in the back country and just being around old Cowboys with their way of thinking made up of common sense, horse sense and, of course, sense of humor. Out in West Texas where 40 mph winds in the spring are common I have seen horses get blowed over, cats and dogs flying through the air as well as feed buckets propelled like frisbees. Another result of high winds is wind burned skin and chapped lips. Well, we have a cure out here for chapped lips.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Horse Training - Building a Good Tie Rail

All horse need to be able to stand tied. Training for young horses should include standing tied to learn patience, rest and to get past bad habits like pawing. Of course, alot of work and a long ride does wonders for getting a horses to stand still while tied.

I have six tie rails on my property, some of field pipe and one rail road tie type: one at the round pen, two at the arena and one each at the geldings corral, mare and brood mare stalls and guest tack room. Yet I needed another tie rail near by geldings feed barn/tack room. So I set out to build another rail road tie rail.

While on the State Highway on my way home I ran into (not literally) a neighbor of mine who asked about the railroad ties and cement in the back of my Super Duty. I explain what I going to build and he asked me how I was going to build it. I explained then thought I would take some pictures and post them since everyone needs a tie rail as horses need to be able to stand tied.

My list of materials: three railroad ties; four bags (80 lbs each) of sacrete cement; two 2"x3' bands of thin steel; four 1/2"x6inch lag bolts and eight 1/2"x4 inch lag bolts.

I first figured out how wide my new tie rail was going to be and dug two holes, about 3 1/2 feet deep for the vertical uprights.

I poured one bag of sacrete cement in each hole, added water and mixed it up; then added another bag of sacrete to each hole and did the same. I then used the excess dirt to fill and tamped what remained of the holes around the vertical supports.

I then placed the horizontal rail on top of the vertical supports and evened them out.

I drilled two counter sunk holes for the 6 inch 1/2 inch lag bolt to connect the horizontal and vertical supports then secured the horizontal rail to the vertical supports.

Then I molded the steel bands (actually beat them into position) over the top rail, drilled them and used the 4 inch lag bolts to secure the bands to the vertical supports.

This is the finished product (above). Most of us know the old saying "measure twice, cut once". Well I had to learn again (for the umpteenth time) that it pertains to digging holes as well. Safe Journey,.......and measure twice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Horse Nutrition – Feeding Beet Pulp

Recently a buddy of mine started feeding Beet Pulp to his horse. He must have saw my body language as I started a reply with “Well,….” He immediately chimed in “There is really nothing else that can provide the energy my horse needs……and I’m careful feeding it”.

While there are many people who put a lot of stock into feeding beet pulp AND while I think Beet Pulp can be fed safely, it is produced as a residue from sugar extraction on beets and I just think it’s a solution to a non-existent problem.

To understand if Beet Pulp is really a high energy feed, you must understand what a horse’s energy needs are and how various feeds fit that need. See my earlier post “Horse Nutrition – Determining Horses Energy Needs” of March 10th, 2010.

Equine Clinical Nutrition, Feeding and Care, by Lon Lewis, list Beet Pulp as providing 1.20 Mcals per pound in digestible energy. There are several other common feed substances that provide more Mcals per pound, such as: Vegetable Oil at 4.08 Mcals per pound; Carrots at 1.70 Mcals per pound; Wheat Bran at 1.50 Mcals per pound; Oats at 1.40 Mcals per pound; Flax Meal at 1.40 Mcals per pound; and, Apples at 1.30 Mcals per pound.

However, Mcals per pound does not tell the whole story nor does it say that Beet Pulp is not as good a feed as grains or grain products.

While Beet Pulp provides less energy per pound it also provides less sugar and is therefore lower on the glycemic index scale than grains. Too much of anything is almost always a bad idea. Too much sugars or too high of a glycemic diet can contribute to digestive upset, colic and laminitis, hence why some horse owners prefer to feed beet pulp as it provides energy at a reduced sugar level.

Another argument of Beet Pulp feeders is that Beet Pulp does not add to the Calcium-Phosphorus ratio imbalance as generated by Alfalfa only diets. I generally feed 50% Alfalfa and 50% Bermuda Grass. Normally, on high protein Alfalfa, such as 1st cut, while slowly integrating a different cut of Alfalfa, I’ll sometimes change that ratio to 35-40% Alfalfa and 60-65% Bermuda Grass, which has a more balanced Calcium-Phosphorous.

Some horse owners believe that Beet Pulp needs to be soaked (in water), and sometimes soaked overnight prior to feeding, I have been advised that this is not true. Partner,… Ray Hunt could come back from the dead and tell me so, but I would never feed un-soaked Beet Pulp. I’ll never feed Beet Pulp anyway, but un-soaked? I don’t think so. Why take the chance when a less amount of a combination of feeds would minimize the risk of feeding Beet Pulp at all?

My bottom line is that while Beet Pulp may be part of an overall feed plan for experienced horse owners, I’ll never use it. We have problems enough with corralling a horse, who is meant to graze naturally all day long, and give that horses concentrated amounts of dry hay (forage). To minimize problems with large amounts of a feed at any one time, I feed four times a day.

My final advice is for the horse owners to research and talk to various people. No one is going to be more concerned about your horses than you are, so take this into account.

Safe Journey.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Horse Health Care - Taking a Horse's Temperature

The reason Horse owners need to be able to take a horse's temperature is for diagnosis reasons; to realize there is a problem, maybe an infection - maybe over heating; and, to gather facts when we call the our Veterinarian - inform him/her of the symptoms, get advice or set up a farm call.

When I ran a large 52 horse capacity barn, we had horses always coming and going. We quarantined all in-coming horses for two weeks with an in-coming Vet Check and out-going or release Vet check, as well as to get any required immunizations. One of the Vets we would utilize was an Army Vet, new to horses, other words a Cat vet. I don't know, maybe he worked on Dogs too. During his tenure as one of our Vets he would come out and do the in-coming Vet check which required taking the horse's temperature.

Never saw such a scared man more willing to stick something in a horse's butt. But he did it,..always shaking,...but he did it.

Anyway, does anyone use anything but digital thermometers these days? Good idea to use a digital thermometer on horses. In and out a lot quicker and the thermometers come with a beeper to let you know you have arrived at a final temperature which should be at or less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, unless the horses just came in from excessive or hard work. Place small dab of Vaseline, Bag Balm, or Corona (not the beer, but the salve) on the thermometer's working end before you insert it in the horses anal cavity. The horse's anal cavity will tighten up, so ensure you get it into the cavity to the base of the thermometer stem.

The below video is for Carlos from Albuquerque who asked how to take a Horse's temperature. I could have just said "carefully" or "be sure to put a string on your thermometer for obvious reasons", but decided to shoot this short video.
Good luck Carlos, safe journey.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Windcross Conservancy - Spanish Mustang Rescue

There is a new Horse Rescue, this one dedicated "to the preservation of the endangered Spanish Mustang, the first colonial horse of the Old West."

While not technically a horse rescue, the Windcross Conservancy, based out of South Dakota, is an educational organization giving seminars on breeding, breed types and standards towards the goal of purpose driven breeding of excellent specimens of the Spanish Mustang breed. I really like one of their saying "If you can't commit to a lifetime of care, don't make more."

The Windcross Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) organization supported only by private funding, grants and donations.

Please visit them at:  

National Animal Identification System – Is It Going Away?

If you haven’t heard of the US Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Identification System (NAIS) then you should as it could impact every single horse owner in this country. The NAIS is, on the surface, a Animal Tracking or Traceability program in which all cattle, pigs, horses, sheep, chickens (go figure) and other species of livestock would be required to have an electronic identification tag embedded in their body much like the way some jurisdictions require dogs to have, or that some people opt for in case their dog runs away.

A massive government intrusion, backed by companies such as Monsanto and Digital Angel, would have greatly increased the costs of ranching or commercial aspects of livestock as well as to recreational owners of livestock, as well as created privacy issues due to reporting and data management requirements.

Grassroots efforts combined with associations such as the Farm and Ranch Freedom Association (FARFA) have fought, and continue to fight, tooth and nail to get the government to back down form this un-workable requirement.

It appears that the USDA is now re-focusing efforts on a new identification and tracking program only for animals moved interstate for commerce. Or so they say. Now before you accuse me of not trusting the government,..........I’ll just admit to it.

Horse owners should be aware of the USDA’s efforts as it certainly burdens the owners of non-food animals as well as opens a large amount of information, to be stored on computer databases, to government employees and private companies.

However, the fight for privacy and unconstitutional financial burdens is not over yet. The States may be required to develop their own traceability for intrastate travel. Already Wisconsin and Michigan have implemented unfair requirements.

On-line sources for research include:
and from the USDA at

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Horse Training – Overstepping or Overreaching

Laura from Virginia e-mailed me and asked is it a common problem for horses to reach too far forward with a rear hoof and clip the back of the front hoof.

Laura, this is called over-stepping or over reaching. Short backed, long legged horses may have this problem. You did not tell me if your horse was young, what breed and size. A picture would help. But this is a common problem which is usually exacerbated at faster gates – particular the fast lope (canter) or gallop.
The terrain you ride in can also affect this. For instance, thicker looser soil or sand can cause a front leg to momentarily “stick” and the back hoof to clip the heel or the heel bulbs of that front leg.

I had a Paint Horse, half Tennessee Walker - half Quarter Horse, who had this problem. I resorted to Bell Boots on the front end to protect the heel bulbs of his front legs. I was also fairly careful about not letting him really take off go in deep sand or unknown terrain. I had this horses as a 6 month old foal and he did get much better over time about not over reaching. I think that’s pretty common too that as the more your ride a young horse, the more comfortable they get carrying weight over different types of terrain.

I’ve seen over stepping result in the back leg clipping a front shoe and pulling it half way off, but another common injury is a bruise or laceration to the heel bulbs. Bell Boots come in handy to protect the heel and heel bulbs. If you didn’t use them and your horse clips his bulbs, then the Bell Boot also comes in handy to protect the injury after your clean it and dress it up.

I use Pro Equine Bell Boot. They are thick Cordura with double Velcro straps and have a tab in the back that fits between the heel bulbs to help hold the boot in place and keep it from rotating.

Check with and look for Bell Boots or Overreach Boots – two names for the same thing. This is an inexpensive training aid to have on hand when training or working horses who may over reach or over step from time to time.
Good luck with that horse and safe journey.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Horse Rescue - Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society

Recently saw a ad for the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society in the Horse Gazette so I thought they needed to be spoke of here and added to the Horse Rescue Organization links. Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society is out of College Station, Texas. Please visit their website at:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Safely Hauling Horses – Working Trailer Lights

A few weeks ago I went to a roping and noticed more than half of the horse trailers coming or going with non-working trailer lights. Ask yourself “how many times have I trailered someplace without checking the lights or, worse yet, knowing that the trailer lights didn’t work?”

This apparently is a common problem so you aren’t alone. I think half the time (or more) the problem isn’t with the lights or the wiring,….it’s with the plug connections. In the dusty dirty world of dirt roads and parking lots these connectors, be they 4 flat, or, 6 or 8 round get dirt and mud caked in them so that the necessary connection between trailer lights and the truck just don’t happen.

Another problem is oxidation of the metal connection ends. Sometimes a knife to scrap off the oxidation is all you need to make a good connection.  Some of these connectors are also made of “pot” metal and can get bent out of shape or compressed enough not to allow a good connection.
One of my solutions to this problem is to give the connectors and adaptors and good cleaning with a small toothbrush and alcohol, which evaporates quickly and does not effect your connections. Sometimes, I have ran very hot water in the sink and used the sprayer to flush out dirt and debris. But I do this when the wife is out shopping as it gives me time to clean up the mess.

Make sure you always place the protector on the truck connections as well. These are harder to clean since you can't dunk then in a cup of alcohol. Some WD-40 and a brush works okay. Best to keep the rubber protector on the 4 flat inserted, and the spring loaded cover on the 6 and 8 round connectors in place.

A can of D-Electric grease, available from an Auto-Parts Store is a good idea. A small dab of this electrical connection enhancing grease makes the connections surer. Keep an in-expensive can of this in your trailer.

When not in use store your connectors and adaptors in plastic bags or place plastic bags over the ends of the connectors and rubber band them or tie them shut. At worst it’ll make hooking up your trailer easier and les messy. At best, it’ll allow trailer lights to function and keep someone from running into the back of your horse trailer and hurting your horses.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

National Day of the Cowboy

The National Day of the Cowboy is July 24th, 2010.

The mission of the National Day of the Cowboy nonprofit organization is to contribute to the preservation of America's Cowboy heritage so that the history and culture which the United States Congress's National Day of the Cowboy resolution honors, can be shared and perpetuated for the public good, through education, the arts, celebrations, gatherings, rodeos, and community activities.

National Day of the Cowboy Organization
The National Day of the Cowboy organization was founded in June 2005, receiving non-profit status from the IRS in December, 2005. We have worked continuously to increase national support for the proclaimed "Cowboy Day," which first passed in the U.S. Senate in July, 2005, and to publicize news and information about the resolution and campaign, so that active participation in celebration of the National Day of the Cowboy continues to grow each year, and so future generations remain aware of the Cowboys' contribution to America's rich Western heritage. Our goal is to see the resolution finally passed in perpetuity.

For more information or to join this organization, please go to: National Day of the Cowboy website

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Horse Nutrition – Determining the Horses Energy Needs

I have, and I suggest other horse owners buy, two primary Horse Nutritional References: “Equine Clinical Nutrition, Feeding and Care”, by Lon Lewis and “Feed to Win II”, by the Research Staff of Equine Research, Inc.

Both books provide great information in not only understanding equine nutrition but all other problems relating to feeds and digestion such as parasites, disease, colic, etc.

Jenny from upstate New York e-mailed me with the comment that a previous post and video from me stated an average horse needs about 20 lbs of hay a day. She contends that she provides her horse much less a day in straight alfalfa. Jenny estimates that she feeds about 13 lbs of hay a day to her gelding, “Roberto”.

I’m not going to argue with Jenny,…..don’t like to argue in the first place, and in the second place, she is with her horse, I’m not. But how old her horse is, what condition he is in, how much energy he expends, and how much he weighs are all among the biggest factors that go into how much that particular horse needs.

So in this post I am going to simplify and outline what Lon Lewis has written about horse energy needs.

The average horse, say 1,100 lbs, for maintenance – meaning not losing nor gaining weight, needs a daily Digestible Energy (DE) level measured in Mega-Calories (Mcals) of 16.4 Mcals. Where larger Draft type horses have a higher DE requirement, from 19 to 24 Mcals.

When performing additional work, the Horse needs additional energy (DE):

Working Horses in a light capacity: DE = Maintenance level DE x 1.25

Moderately working horses: DE = Maintenance level DE x 1.5

Intensely working horses: DE = Maintenance level DE x 2.0

With Alfalfa averaging 1.10 Mcal per pound, an 1,100 lb horse would need 14.9 lbs of Alfalfa each day for his Maintenance DE requirements. Take 16.4 daily DE for maintenance and divide by 1.10 Mcals per lbs of Alfalfa.

Feeding only that same horse Bermuda Grass at 0.80 Mcal per pound, an 1,100 lb horse would need 20.5 lbs of grass each day for his Maintenance DE requirements. Take 16.4 daily DE for maintenance and divide by 0.80 Mcals per lb of Bermuda Grass.

Riding your horse at a consistent jog (trot) for 3 hours could raise his DE requirements by 6 to 10 Mcals depending upon how much weight he carried, how good of shape he is in and how fast your jog (trot) is. Caution should be used when feeding extra rations to make up for expended energy. You don’t have to give him extra feed all at one time, or even in one day.

Keeping in mind some basic Horse Nutrition concepts such as providing a Horse no less than half, and preferably more, of his DE in forage (hay and grasses), and that a Horse cannot digest more than 5 lbs of grain at one time. Five pounds is a heavy amount of grain or pelleted feed. I have seen nothing but problems in horses consuming near to his maximum amount of grain/pelleted feeds. My horses get no more than 1.0 to 1.5 lbs of pelleted feed twice a day.

The Horse Owner can use the following Mcal content per one pound of feed item:

Vegetable Oil 4.08 Mcal per pound
Carrots 1.70 Mcal per pound
Wheat bran 1.50 Mcal per pound
Oats 1.40 M cal per pound
Fax Meal 1.40 Mcal per pound
Apples 1.30 Mcal per pound
Beet Pulp 1.20 Mcal per pound
Alfalfa Hay 1.10 Mcal per pound
Bermuda Grass Hay 0.88 Mcal per pound
Peanut Grass Hay 0.85 Mcal per pound

Jenny, I speculate that your horse is lighter than 1,100 lbs. If you could e-mail me some pictures of your horse and measure his height (from ground to top of withers) we may be able to figure out a rough figure for his weight. You can also buy measuring tapes that go around his barrel like a cinch that would help you measure his weight.

The bottom line, Jenny, is that each horse is different. The educated Horse Owner should not only understand what “book experts” are writing about horse feeds and nutrition, but use their common sense and eye balls on the horse’s body condition and performance to make an informed decision on what to feed and how much.

I would not worry about if you are feeding your horse too little. If his body condition is good and his behavior and performance are fine then you are probably on track. I like the fact that you are feeding “natural” forage. I choose to feed approximately half alfalfa and half grass for forage as I think the alfalfa balances out the grass and minimizes chances of a too high of protein diet.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Horse Health Care - Giving Oral Anti-Biotics

Carol from Kansas City, Missouri said her Vet made a call to the Stables she keeps her horse at and after an exam left a bottle of Anti-Biotics tablets to give her horse once a day for six days.

Her question was “What is the best way to give my Horse these big tablets? I have to give my Horse twelve of these tablets at a time.”

Carol did not say why her Horse Veterinarian prescribed the Anti-Biotic or what type they were. Some Anti-Biotics can be dissolved in water and poured over pelleted feed or grain. I do not like to do that. I prefer to ensure that whatever medications I give go directly into the horse. Although I prefer to give an injection, injections can lead to problems particular if you aren’t trained to give them or give them in the wrong location. Other problems include an infection or a cyst.

What I would do Carol, is to place the 12 tablets in a double or tripled bagged zip locked bag and use a hammer to pulverized them to a powder. I would use just enough un-flavored Apple Sauce, maybe 1/3 of a cup to mix the Anti-Biotic powder into to. A cleaned out wormer syringe is a good method to get the anti-biotic/applesauce mixture into your horse. Or better yet a larger bore syringe, like what paste Pro-Biotics or Electrolytes come in.

Another way is to mix the anti-biotic/applesauce mixture into a bran mash for the Horse to eat. Although, back to what I said before, I like to ensure that I get the medications into the Horse so I use the anti-biotic/applesauce method in a cleaned out Pro-Biotics or Electrolyte syringe.

It is important that you follow the Vet’s six day regime. Some times people see an improvement in a couple days then stop the full anti-biotic protocol which may make whatever problem your horse is being treated for come back stronger with a better immunity to the anti-biotic. Good luck and Safe Journey.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Horse Training – Horse that won’t Lead Up

Joyce from Alberta, Canada has a horse named Chief, that won’t lead up properly. She says he walks past her when she stops, and, when she is leading Chief and stops to chat with someone, Chief is fidgety.

First of Joyce, the fact that you are in Alberta caught my eye so I decided to respond to you right off because my Grandfather and Father left Montana to build a ranch north of Edmonton, circa 1910 – 1915, until they lost out and came back to the States. People and Horses in your part of the country are tough and hardy.

Anyway, you did not say how old you horse is, his breed or if he is a stud horse or a gelding. Shouldn’t matter too much. A young horse needs to lead up properly and stand still when you want him to. A stud horse can be a problem if he’s around mares in season. Some horses get lazy in ground manners, mainly because we as horse owners aren't communicating to them effectively or often enough.

If I’m leading a horse who walks past me when I stop, I bump the lead line to make him stop, then back him up to the position I want him to stop at, which is a few feet behind me to my Right. In fact, every time you stop, whether it’s leading on the ground or in the saddle, it’s a good idea to get him to back a few steps immediately. This will translate to better stops at speed. Once he does this at your normal walking speed, then start stopping real sudden like, then progress to stopping at a jog (Trot) then at a lope (Canter). Chief will be a much better horse for it.

If Chief can stand still then you need to teach him that standing still is good. That it’s the easy thing to do. If I have a horse that won’t stand still I move him around on a horse bit on the lead line, one or two circles then give him a chance to stand still again. At first, he probably stand still for 30 seconds or so then get fidgety again. Move him around some more, then give him another chance. They’ll learn soon enough that stand still is easier than getting moved around.

I shot a short video for you, see below. I picked an old horse (Roy) and shot this video right when they were expecting to get fed hoping for him to be more concerned with feed than ground manners. I actually shot this video several times as I hoping Roy would act up enough so it would more evident to you, and Roy just wasn't that cooperative in walking past me or moving around when I wanted him to stand still. I guess I've gotten most of that behavior out of him, none-the-less the techniques I'm telling you and showing you about are still valid.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Horse Sense – Tailgate Preacher Advice

I had to share this with you all. I recently came across the Tailgate Preacher on RFD Television. Pastor Greg Moore of the Top Hand Cowboy Church is the Tailgate Preacher and has several short videos on YouTube that I really enjoyed.

The Tailgate Preacher is fond of saying “Life is Choices, Not Chances”. I understand what he is saying, however I tend to think of it as “Life is the choices you make with the chances you get”.

Everyday when you work with your horses you have the choice to give them a fair deal with the chance they are giving you......or not. I don’t think any of us approach our horses intending to lose our tempers, just happens. Like the bumper sticker says “Manure Happens”.

For me, having much less patience and abilities than I need, and knowing myself for over 50 years now, I have to make a conscious effort not to bring any, or let any outside crap effect the way I deal with my horses. Actually it’s probably good advice for your relationships with other people as well, but with people you can always explain, apologize and be forgiving.

Now horses are pretty dog gone forgiving, but they sure as hell don’t forget much. So you have to make sure you approach them with an understanding manner and with a clean heart.

The video I’ve inserted is the Tailgate Preacher with a short sermon, “Get The Crap Out Of Your Life” which I think is an appropriate metaphor, especially for, preparing to work with green horses. Enjoy the video. Safe Journey.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Horse Training – Tying a Horse in a Trailer

Danny from Missouri asked me if tie up my horses when I trailer them. Danny didn’t say if he has any particular problem with his horse or what kind of trailer he has, so I’ll just explain what I do and why.

Yes Jerry, for the most part if I am trailering one horse, in a combination trailer, I usually tie him high and as loose as I can without him stepping over the lead line or allow him to get turned around. I used to routinely trailer one horse to drop off areas near the mountains for my horseback patrols as an Army Range Rider so tying him was to keep him from getting turned around and in a bad position for those rough dirt and mountain roads.

Sometimes I tie directly to a tie ring in the trailer, always with a quick release in case that horse gets into trouble. Sometimes I use a ring snap or clip ring on the lead line. I never use trailer bungees as my experience with them is they dry rot and are easily broken, sometimes having a metal panic snap or bull snap flying back and hitting the horse in the head. That doesn’t do a whole lot to make a head shy horse better or make that horse like the trailer.

If I’m hauling two horses in a combination trailer I’ll place the first horse in a slant compartment, but I always tie horses, combination trailer or stock trailer, as it keeps them from getting turned around or in trouble or trying to back out before you want them to. Although I have put two horses side by side in stock trailers with tying them, usually going from one grazing unit or patrol area to another without problems.

I think horses do best when they are hauled in a slant position as they can react better to forward and lateral forces and keep their balance better. Hope this and the below video helps you. Safe Journey.