Friday, April 30, 2010

Army Scouts - Kit Carson

Christopher "Kit" Carson was born December 1809 in Kentucky.

At 16, Carson took a job as a “mule skinner” taking care of horses, mules and oxen on a wagon train heading from Missouri to New Mexico. He stayed in New Mexico becoming a fur trapper and Mountain Man working and living with Indians where he was reported to become fluent in several languages among them Navajo, Apache, Cheyenne, Arapaho as well as Spanish.

After moving back to Missouri in 1842 Carson met General John Fremont and signed on to scout and guide his successful expedition to find a pass through the Ricky Mountains.

Following that a year later Kit Carson scouted and guided an expedition from the Great Salt Lake into Oregon . This expedition became snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where Caron was accredited with saving the expedition through his wilderness skills accumulated through his years as a Mountain Man.

In 1846 Carson scouted for and guided General Kearney’s troops during the Mexican-American War. His exploits scouting and guiding troops from California to New Mexico and back further heightened Carson ’s reputation.

During the American Civil War, Kit Carson organized the New Mexico volunteer infantry for the Union. During the Navajos uprising at the beginning of the Civil War, then Colonel Carson was tasked with settling the uprising. He accomplished much of his mission through a rather humane method of economic warfare destroying crops and livestock, rather then decimating the Navajo population. He succeeded in forcing the Navajos back to reservation by 1864.

In 1864, Carson was again sent to quell an Indian uprising, this time in West Texas against the Kiowa, Comanche, and Cheyenne which resulted in the famous Battle of Adobe Walls where Carson inflicted heavy losses on the attacking warriors.

Shortly afterward Colonel John Chivington led a massacre at Sand Creek where he boasted that he was a batter Indian killer than Carson . Carson was enraged at the massacre and openly denounced Chivington.

After the Civil War, Carson took up ranching but remained an advocate for the Indian, escorting Ute Chiefs to Washington D.C. to meet President Johnson seeking additional government redress.

Carson died in Colorado in May 1868 at age 58, one month after his wife passed away from complications during childbirth. He is buried in Taos, New Mexico.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Horse Training - Hackamores and Bosals

This is the second part of a reader question on my outfit and in particularly the Hackamore he saw on one of my horses in an earlier video. That Hackamore is an old Ropers Tie Down with a metal O ring as opposed to a Bosal or Hackamore knot. I am using nylon split reins and a Fiador. It hangs light on my horse and he responds well to it.

I have long been a fan of Hackamores and Bosals, starting my horses in Bosals, moving to a snaffle bit, then a curb bit, then usually full circle back to a Hackamore. Rawhide Hackamore with flat grass reins shown at LEFT. Quarter inch noseband Hackamore with flat nylon reins shown BELOW. Both available from Craig Cameron.

A Bosal is plaited or braided rawhide fashioned into a nose band with an anchor know below the chin of a horse when the bosal is placed on the horse’s nose. A Mecate (sometimes called a McCarthy due to Gringo mispronunciation of Spanish) is a long rope usually made out of horse hair, but sometimes braided nylon rope, that is about 22 feet long and tied to the Bosal just above the anchor knot in a manner that provides for a one piece roper reins, and allows a tail of abut 7 feet to use as a get down for leading the horse on the ground or tying to a tie rail.

A Hackamore is very similar to a Bosal with the nose piece being made out of nylon rope, a leather band, or a rawhide covered rope. The Hackamore can use a Mecate rope for reins or braided nylon split reins. These split reins can be made of rounded or flat rope, flat nylon or even grass. Bosal with Hanger (headstall) and Fiador shown at LEFT.

A Mechanical Hackamore can also have a rope or rawhide noseband, but is usually more closely associated with a plastic covered wire or chain noseband. The Mechanical Hackamore also uses a curb chain (under the chin) has four to seven inch shanks to connect the reins to, which are usually leather split reins. This type of Hackamore can be very severe as the shanks provide a lot of leverage and effect a nut cracker type movement onto the horse’s nose and jaw. The Mechanical Hackamore is not for beginners and should be very carefully used,….. if at all I my opinion. Type of Mechanical Hackamore shown BELOW.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Horse Training - Step Up, Step Down - the Texas Two Step

Continuing with preparing your horse for the trail, you should be comfortable with riding your horse up hill and down hill. There are a few considerations to be safe.

At any point, do not be afraid or ashamed of grabbing your saddle horn or reaching around and grabbing the cantle. When going up hill you need to be leaning just a little bit forward to maintain your balance, but not too much as to put alot of your weight on the horse's front end, which carries most his weight anyway. If you lean backwards, the momentum of the horse going up hill may unseat you. This is especially true if the obstacles requires a big step up, as you'll see in the videos below.

Same considerations for on the flat ground as far as staying out of your horse's mouth if you are using or bit, or otherwise ensure you give your horse his head. if you pull of slack on the reins or worse yet bull back on his head or mouth, you are giving him conflicting signals and he won't be able to see the ground. In many cases the horse will transfer some weight to the rear end and push off with the rear end causing a sudden jolt forward.

Going down hill is another matter all together. You have the balance giving the horse his head so he can see the down hill and place his feet, but you also want to rate (control) his speed. You ned to be leaning alittle bit back and this is probably the best time to brace yourself by holding onto the cantle. Beware of your horse wanting to trot or lope out of the hill when he gets to the bottom.

Hope this helps you work with your horse and get him trail ready and safe.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reader Question on my Saddle and Outfit

Jack from Tucson e-mailed to ask about my saddle and outfit and what I carry on the trail, and also had a question on Hackamores.

I’ll answer the question on hackamores in the near future. The outfit I use on the trail is a semi-custom saddle with semi-quarter horse bars and a medium swell. My saddle has a hard seat, 4 ½ inch cantle with a pencil roll. I only use a synthetic fleece cinch with a wide ropers rear cinch. The synthetic fleece cinch keeps from galling my horse’s belly during long rides. I have 3 inch aluminum stirrups.

I have a pulling type deep “V” breast collar that attaches using extension straps through the gullet off my saddle as this keeps the breast collar off my horse’s chest and away from his throat.

I am using a set of small saddlebags from and in them I carry a folding nylon hoof boot, see the previous post on hoof boots, a small Fencing tool called a Plammer (can also use it to pull off bent horseshoes), a bottle of wound powder, a roll of vet wrap and the absorbent part of a tampon inside the vet wrap tube. Most of the cuts my horse gets on the trail are lateral cuts from cactus and other plants with thorns such as mesquite. I have stopped a pretty god bleeder using the tampon end and vet wrap.

In my saddle bags I also have a set of Leupold binoculars in my bags as well. I have a slicker rolled up and tied to square D rings screwed into the back of the cantle.

I carry a 48 foot long, extra soft ranch rope with a metal Honda. The metal Honda give me a little extra distance on a long throw and roping a cow to pull him out of a mud hole, and as the metal Honda swivels it helps me get clinks of the rope very quickly. I also carry an Army surplus plastic 2 quart canteen in a nylon canteen carrier.

The nose band you see on my horse is an old roper’s tie down that I converted to use as a Hackamore or Bosal type rig, using nylon flat split reins around the base of the nose band. The D ring on the converted tie-down allows me to hook a get down rope if and when I leading my horse in hand in case he throws shoe, get lames or what not. I carry a 12 foot, ¼ inch cotton rope with a splice in loop to use as a get down and lead line as I do not like leading my horse by the reins, especially if he is carrying a bit in his mouth – just not a good idea. This tie down converted to a Hackamore or Bosal is very lightweight and sits well on my horse on long rides.

I shot the below video helping to explain my outfit and will get back to you on the Hackamore question.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Horse Training - Reader problem with Horse not walking over a Tarp

A reader named Bill from Tacoma, Washington who has a Tennessee Walker gelding, wrote with the following problem.   “After watching you have your horse go over a yellow tarp ground obstacle in the (round) pen, I tried to get my horse to walk over a green tarp, but he would not go near it. When I pressured him and forced him towards the tarp, he would leap over the tarp. He did about two dozen times, so I gave up. What am I doing wrong? Or is my horse just not going to ever walk over the tarp?” Note: Bill is talking about the post dated 19 April 2010.

Bill, I assume you are in a round pen or other pen. I would lay out the tarp and place your horse in this pen for a couple hours just to get comfortable with the green tarp. If you watched him continuously, you may see him go over and put his head down smelling the tarp. I even knowed an old boy who placed some alfalfa in the middle of a tarp and the horse eventually walked onto the tarp to get a bite. I don’t like doing this, so I would try it again like so:

When he seems like he isn’t paying the tarp anymore attention or is unconcerned about it, go ahead and work him at a walk or a trot. You can free lunge him or use a lunge line hooked to his halter. Don’t pressure him to go over the tarp just yet. If he stops at the tarp, let him rest here and determine for himself that the tarp isn’t going to hurt him. Putting his head down and smelling the tarp is a good sign.

When he appears comfortable, ask him to go forward over the tarp and try to keep him at a walk but a trot is also okay. Don’t give up on him if he takes another two dozen jumps over the tarp, I’m confident he’ll eventually step on the tarp then figure it out that it’s okay. You got to have patience with him, it’ll make for a better horse on the trail.

If you are lunging him on a lunge line, you can have him lunge in small circles moving closer and closer to the tarp…also placing the tarp long ways will make it more difficult for him to jump over it.

If you try to teach him what you want and he fails to understand then you give up, what you teaching him is the fail. He don’t know it, but he figures it out.

Same thing happens on trailer loading. People will try and fail to “talk” their horse into a trailer, then give up. Well, they are teaching their horses not to trailer load. So don’t try the going over a tarp unless you have the patience and have the time.

Army Scouts – Jim Bridger

Beginning with this post, I am going to do a series on Army Scouts of the Old West. I am interested in this as I am a former Army Range Rider; my Grandfather was in the U.S. Cavalry from 1878 to 1880; and, my Uncle was in the U.S. Cavalry in 1913 through 1917. These Army Scouts had to be good Horsemen as they often rode alone in very dangerous country trusting their lives by relying on their skills and their horses.

Born in March 1804 in Virginia, Jim Bridger had several successful careers one of which was that of an Army Scout overshadowed by his exploits as an explorer, fur trapper and Mountain Man.

Bridger was credited with numerous accomplishments enabled by his courage to explore the untamed West on horseback. He was the first to discover the Great Salt Lake in 1824 as well as the steam geysers in what we now know as Yellowstone National Park.

He first explored the West in 1822 at the age of 18, trapping beaver before he ventured further West. He established Fort Bridger on the Green River in then Wyoming Territory where he based an operation to guide prospectors to the Gold fields in Montana and surveyed stage routes to the West.

He eventually scouted and guided General Dodge establishing route for freight wagons, stage coach lines and for what would become the Overland route, Pony Express routes and eventually railroad lines for the Union Pacific.

In 1867 due to failing eyesight, Jim Bridger left the West and returned to Missouri where he died in July 1881.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Horse Training – More Preparing for the Trail with Ground Obstacles

Ride long and far enough and you will eventually encounter an obstacle that your horse will need to step over. This could be a log laying on it’s side; a plowed up shoulder on a dirt road or any number of things.

The same method for approaching and crossing items laying on the ground, such as a poncho, or water puddle or really anything that you want your horse to walk across also applies to stepping over obstacles. That is allow your horse to see the obstacle and let him drop his head to check it out.

If you have anxiety yourself and keep a tight rein on your horse you’ll will agitate him and cause him to balk at the obstacles or worse try and jump it. Not giving your horse some slack to drop his head will also give him mixed signals as you ask him to move forward and step across the obstacle.

Keep your horse straight with your legs, give him enough slack to drop his head and check out the obstacle and when he brings his head back up give him the cue to move forward.

If your horse “bunches” up, bringing his back legs up underneath himself (you’ll be able to feel it) then he’s fixing to jump over the obstacle. Maybe more common when encountering a ditch, if the horse is unsure of the obstacles of himself this is may try to do. Even if you are going to eventually get your horse to cross these obstacles at a trot (jog) or a canter (lope) you’ll first want him stepping over these obstacle, confidentially, at a walk.

I have several obstacles I use to get my horses or my clients horses ready for the trail, the below video shows negotiating a telephone role across the ground .

Monday, April 19, 2010

Horse Health Care - Special is having a sale on Pest Control items which is pertinent as we are heading into mid Spring with the resultant flies and such. offers good prices and fast shipping.

Horse Training – Preparing the Trail Horse for Ground Obstacles

Continuing on with our series on Preparing the Trail Horse, I have added a simple ground obstacle after warming up my horse.

In this case I’m using a simple yellow poncho with sandbags made out of socks to hold it in place.

Sometimes I’ll lunge a horse with the obstacle in place. I won’t push him over or through the obstacle, instead I’ll let him figure it out. Generally, horses are curious animals. If you give them the time, they’ll more often than not approach the obstacle and attempt to figure it out. They may blow air out their nose; they may move laterally not being sure if they should be scared of the obstacle or not; and, usually will drop their head to smell the obstacle and figure out its no threat.

It’s really something to watch a horse overcome his fear and get used to something. That’s the kind of horse you want to develop.

Anyway, in the video I lead the horse, in hand, up to the obstacle. This horse has seen a lot of strange stuff so he ain’t particularly concerned about it as you’ll see. I’m looking for a relaxed posture; ears moving around; feet staying in place.

I mount my horse and ride him towards the obstacle, stopping to let him drop his head, smell it and when he’s ready ask him to go over the yellow poncho. The mistakes some people make are to tighten up the reins and start pulling on their horse. Your horse also picks up on your mannerisms or your fear of him bolting or spooking,…. and his anxiety will build – in effect telling him that he needs to be concerned about the obstacles.

If you use this approach to all obstacles or objects that your horse gets concerned about, then you’ll going to be safer and your horse will be a much better horse.

Safe Journey

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Horse Training – Warming up the Trail Horse

I think it’s important to warm up your horse before you take him out on the trail. I simple few minutes in the round pen or on a lunge line will help not only warm up the horse, but get him listening to you.

Lunging your horse in a round pen isn’t going to tire him out and get the buck outa him,….the idea is to re-establish that you are the leader and you do that by pushing him through several gaits, changing directions and focus the horse onto listening to you, and, your verbal and non-verbal clues.

It also gives you a chance to catch problems such as beginning lameness before you take him away from home of the barn.

When I warm up a horse I ask him to walk in both direction a couple circles, then jog, then I ask him for a slow lope. I’m checking his attitude, looking for him paying attention to me – if so, he won’t be distracted and he’ll keep his inside ear pointed towards me.

Some times when I’m short of time, I’ll pull several horses one at a time and give them a short workout in the round pen. This way each and every time they go the round pen won’t be followed by a long ride. I think this keeps their minds fresh and changes up their routine for the better.

I have received two recent e-mails about lunging horses and I will soon (hopefully) cut a couple short videos on lunging in the round pen. The intent of the following video is just to focus on warming up a horse for the trail and is one of several videos and posts I will be doing to emphasize preparing a horse for the trail. Watch the video below and see if you can pick out how Junior moves. Look for his inside ear focused on me and see how he slows or speeds his momentum or turns as my body position changes in relation to his.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sense of Humor - Horse’s View of the World

It's been said that if you don't have a sense of humor then you need to re-look a lifestyle with horses, cause as surely as the Sun rises in the morning, you're gonna need a good sense of humor.

I got a kick out of the funny horse definitions below, hopefully you will too.

Arena: Place where humans can take the fun out of forward motion.

Bit: Means by which a rider's every motion is transmitted to the sensitive tissues of the mouth.

Bucking: Counter-irritant.

Cross Ties: Gymnastic apparatus.

Dressage: Process by which some riders can eventually be taught to respect the bit. Isn't dressage those people wearing funny pants and hats?

Farrier: Disposable surrogate owner; useful for acting out aggression without compromising food supply.

Fence: Barrier that protects good grazing.

Gate Latch: Type of puzzle.

Grain: Sole virtue of domestication.

Hitching rail: Means by which to test one's strength.

Horse Trailer: Mobile cave bear den.

Hot Walker: The lesser of two evils.

Jump: An opportunity for self-expression.

Longeing: Procedure for keeping a prospective rider at bay.

Owner: Human assigned responsibility for one's feeding.

Rider: Owner overstepping its bounds.

Trainer: Owner with mob connections.

Veterinarian: Flightless albino vulture

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Horse Training – Spooky Horses on the Trail

I had previously posted a short article on sacking out horses on ground obstacles and embedded a video on getting a horse used to a wooden bridge as found on some trail class competitions. In that post I briefly talked about desensitizing horses and how I preferred to look at it as allowing a horse to figure out that he can think through a problem and doesn’t have to turn and bolt ever time he encounters something he hasn’t seen before. Craig Cameron calls this making a brave horse. That’s a good as description as any out there.

You aren’t doing your horse any favors if you are out on the trail and your horse spooks on something and you take him or let him walk away from it. This may be re-enforcing the idea (to the horse) that he should be scared of whatever it was.

Now if your horse is almost uncontrollable when faced with a spooky object, then you probable don’t need to be on the trail with him and instead work with him on the round pen or arena on spooky things.

However, when on the trail and you find something that is causes anxiety for the horse, gradually let him figure out that it’s no big deal.

The below video was shot upon horseback when I out on a long ride and we encountered a junk pile. It’s a damn shame people see the need to dump garbage out in the desert, but it happened,….my horse didn’t care too much for the spooky things,…so we used it as a training aid to help him become the brave horse that I’d like him to be.

As I walk my horse toward the junk pile, I don’t push him. When he wants to stop and try and figure it out, I’ll let him. If he wants to scoot side ways and try and turn around, I’ll only hold him facing the object and not let him backup. His head is going to go up and down, his ears forward and he may blow some air out his nose (I think he’s trying to clear his nose to get a scent). His feet may be moving a lot, once these sides subside I’ll ask him to move forward and repeat this process.

I very seldom dismount to lead a spooky horse towards something, but I won’t hesitate to do so if I think I need to.

If you Horse continues to spook or seem to spook on many things, especially in circumstances he has been in before, then you may want to consider getting him back in the round pen, going back over some basics and keep his saddle blanket wet.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mexican Style Rodeo - Bronco 100x

Some friends of mine (P&A Productions out of the El Paso Texas area) produced a local rodeo this past weekend so I thought I would share a couple short videos of this Mexican Style rodeo, which was billed as “the U.S. versus Mexico ”.

Great event with Mariachi bands, Charamusas (female Mexican Charro riders), lots of people, probably more rough stock riders than all other event competitors combined, lots of food and importantly beer. More importantly, there were veterinarians (Paws ‘n Hooves Mobile Vet Clinic) on hand and good care was taken of all livestock.

Be sure to watch the Charamusa closely. These amazing ladies ride side saddle wearing those big, colorful dresses and show off excellent riding skills.

I hope P&A Productions continue to produce local rodeos in this area and my family and I had a great time that night.

It may be hard to pickup on the videos, but this rodeo was held at a local Charro arena which is like a keyhole, designed for Charro competitions. We’ll try to get some videos on local Charro competition as well as this is very entertaining.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Horse Training – Exposing the Horse to Trail Obstacles

Whenever or not you are now riding in competitive trail events or planning to in the future, you ought to consider exposing your horse to common and different trail obstacles or things you may see on your trail rides.

Trail courses usually have some obstacles such as wooden bridges, mail boxes to open, small logs to jump or walk over and many more in order for the judges to evaluate how you and your horse cross or negotiate these obstacles. They are looking for willingness on the horse, working on a loose rein and much more.

Common items like trash bags, mail boxes, signs can make a horse anxious if he hasn’t seen it before. The key here is to expose your horse to different things and let him (your horse) figure it out.

Some people call it desensitizing. Even others think that you can desensitize your horse too much. I don’t think I have ever de-sensitized a horse too much, but more importantly I like to think of exposing the horse to different obstacles as helping the horse to figure out that he can think things through. If you allow him to, the horse will most often surprise you as he quickly figures out obstacles are such as big thing.

Walking your horse in hand to first see and explore the obstacles is usually a good idea. Let the horse move over the obstacle at his own pace. He’ll be comfortable with the obstacle when he drops his head, smells it and stands relaxed with his ears moving around and especially towards the front. If your horse blows, moves sidewise and appears anxious then give him some time to figure it out.

We often try to make the horse go too fast for his comfort level and sometimes if not all the time) it creates anxiety where he may cross an obstacles but does it fearfully and not with confidence. I never make a horse push to or to an obstacle. I will however keep him from running or bolting from it using legs clues to keep him straight and in position. Given time, they’ll surprise you with how fast they get a comfort level.

When in the saddle we often make the mistakes of tightening the reins but urging the horse forward giving conflicting commands. Then we get mad at the horse which increases his anxiety and nobody wins. Again, keep him straight, let him figure it out.

One more thing, don’t try to get your horse sacked out on obstacles unless you have the time to devote to it in case he becomes particularly reluctant. Some people try to get a horse to do something, but give up because of time, which teaches the horse that he really doesn’t have to do anything and you’ll eventually give up

Friday, April 9, 2010

Horse Training - Extreme Mustang Makeover

If you have never watched Extreme Mustang Makeover you are surely missing a great event. Given 100 days, from adpotion of a Mustang, trainers have to tame and train a Mustang competing for money.

The Mustang Heritage Foundation, in cooperation with the BLM, created the Extreme Mustang Makeover event in order to recognize and highlight the value of Mustangs through a national training competition. This event gives the public a unique opportunity to see the results of wild horses becoming trained mounts. The purpose of the Extreme Mustang Makeover is to showcase the beauty, versatility and trainability of the rugged horses that roam freely on public lands throughout the West, where they are protected by the BLM under Federal law.

At the conclusion of the Extreme Mustang Makeover the participating Mustangs are available for adoption by competitive bid.

UPCOMING MAKEOVERS: Norco, CA - May 14-16, 2010; Ft. Collins, CO - June 11-13, 2010; Ft. Worth, TX - Aug. 13-14, 2010; Lincoln, NE - Sept. 24-26, 2010; Murfreesboro, TN - Oct. 22-24, 2010

For more Information, go to:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Horse Training – Wrapping Your Saddle Horn

My neighbor, Paco, asked me to stop by the other day and look at a saddle he just traded for. I guess in this bad economy lots of horse related things are going cheap, horses, trailers and now saddles. He got a pretty good buy on a used Cutting type saddle. You know the type, with a long skinny saddle horn so the rider can hold on while his horse moves laterally and quickly to keep a cow in front of him.

Paco wanted to wrap his saddle horn to make it thicker and more substantial. I told him that wrapping it won’t make it any stronger, that the horn will still break off from the tree if it had a mind to do so, but it protect the horn if he’s roping and dragging from it.

Paco is not going to roping cows anytime soon, but I have explained to him in the past that rope training your horse and being able to drag objects with a rope is just good for his trail horse.

I told Paco that I have wrapped horns three different ways in the past. 1 – Cutting a strip from an bicycle inner tube and wrapping the horn in that manner, 2 – using store bought roping horn wrap, which is much like thick rubber bands and wrapping them around the horn – the trick here is to get it tight, and, 3 – Using Mule Hide to wrap the horn in a more traditional manner.

The Inner tube and store bought roping horn wraps have some give to them, so as you dally (wrap the rope around your horn) with a cow on the end of the rope, the shock is somewhat dissipated by the cushioning of the rubber horn wrap, as well as helping to protect the saddle horn from rope burns. If you are a mind to, you can get store bought horn wrap in several different colors: what I call inner tube black or tan (natural). Eventually rubber will dry rot and break off. Depending upon your geographical location, this could be several years.

The store bought rubber horn wrap is called “dally wrap” or “dura wrap”. You can also get a nylon plaited wrap that slips on the horn (with a little work I’d imagine).

I prefer the more traditional Mule Hide wrap. The trick is to get it tight. You started by soaking the Mule Hide Wrap it in a bucket of water, then cutting a slit in one end so you create a loop that will sit over the saddle horn (photo 1). As the Mule Hide Wrap drie it’ll will shrink a little, helping the wrap get tight.

You tuck the end of the Mule Hide wrap through the gullet of the saddle, from rear to front and over the fork of the saddle (photo 2).

You start wrapping the Mule Hide wrap it in a clockwise fashion (as you are sitting in the saddle). The idea is to wrap in the direction you are going to dally your rope. (photo 3).

Note: Be sure you pull and stretch the Mule Hide Wrap as tight as you can get it. After I shot these photos and finished wrapping the Mule Hide Horn Wrap, I had to un-wrap it and wrap it again tight as I had to keep taking my hands off the wrap in order to take a picture.

You continue to wrap the Mule Hide Wrap as you want it, I pulled mine slightly over part of the horn, then tuck in the end of it inside one of the slits you cut in the beginning (see photo 3). If you wrap it tight enough you’ll need a hoof pick or other tool in order to slip the end underneath the beginning slit.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Horse Health Care – Treating Non Specific Diarrhea

Most of us, at one time or another had a horse with very loose manure or actual diarrhea. I had previously written a post on how I treat horses with loose manure. That post can be reviewed here: Common Horse Problems – Loose Manure Feb 8, 2010.

I will not hesitate to have my vet make a farm call, however I also do not like to waste her time nor my money, so usually I do what I can do to solve my own problems. Sometimes that helps the Vet as my treatment(s) and lack of resolving the problem will aid in her diagnosis if I do have the Vet come out. And again, I keep my Vet on speed dial and will not hesitate to ask the Vet to make a farm call.

Back to loose manure. In my experience a common cause of loose manure is too much sand in the system as the horse ingests sand from grazing on the ground. I feed in large buckets to minimize the horses consuming sand, but they still consume some. Usually, I put the horse on a seven day sand treatment like Sand Clear or Miracle Sand Out pellets added to their grain. In some cases, I’ll give the horse a dose of probiotics a couple days apart. This, combined with a weekly bran mash usually clears up the loose manure.

If the loose manure doesn’t clear up, or if the manure is actually diarrhea, or if I think the horse may have some gut discomfort, maybe from a new cut of alfalfa or a higher protein cut like 1st cut, I’ll give the horse Bismuth Subsalicylate (Bismuth Suspension). Bismuth Subsalicylate is a Pepto Bismol type product which neutralizes bacteria and bacterial toxins in the gut.

Due to the excretion of water through the diarrhea, I’ll monitor the water intake and in some case give the horse an electrolyte paste, or electrolyte powder in his grain, and soak his hay in water to help him get sufficient water.

For adult horses, I generally give 8 ounces of Bismuth Subsalicylate every 4 to 6 hours for usually a day and a half, but no more than two days. If there is no resolution to the diarrhea, I call my Vet for an exam, which occasional results in tubing the horse with a water and mineral oil mixture.

I should note that the label on the Bismuth Subsalicylate (Bismuth Suspension) indicates 6 to 10 ounces every 2 to 3 hours is the common dose for adult horses. I us a large stainless steel bolus syringe to get this into the horse orally.

Several years ago, I had a horse get out and into the hay barn eating a large amount of alfalfa and causing him to colic. Part of the treatment, after the Vet tubed him and after administration of Banamine (Fluxomine), and until I was able to get down to the Vet Supply and buy some Bismul Suspension (Bismuth Subsalicylate), I gave my horse unflavored Maalox. Maalox ingredients consists of Aluminum hydroxide (Antacid), Magnesium hydroxide (Antacid) and Simethicone (Antigas) and served to counter the enzyme reactions and gut discomfort caused by eating too much alfalfa. I only did this upon the suggestion of the Vet.

In any event I think the horse owner needs to be able to use non-invasive or non-risk treatments in order to rule out larger problems, but on the other hand the horse owner needs to not be shy at all about talking to his/her vet about treatment. A simple phone call and suggestion or treatment confirmation to go along way to ensuring you are on the right approach.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Horse Health Care – Fly Control

Leticia from Arizona e-mailed to ask about feed through Fly Control products. Although I know about these daily pelleted type fly control supplements that you feed your horse daily, I have not ever used them.

I understand these products to be safe, and either control flies through inhibiting development of larvae or immature flies into adult flies, or using chemicals or natural foods (such as garlic or yeast) to repel flies. I don’t think I will ever use any of these products, although if I did I would be inclined to try the commercially available products that uses natural substances like garlic which repel flies and provide some beneficial nutrients to the horse.

Instead I control flies mainly through a manure management program and treating manure that is stored prior to a weekly removal. This year I may try to use fly predators just to see if they work. Fly predators are tiny insects that are the natural enemy of flies but do not bother people or livestock.

Fly sticks, strips or tape and fly traps (smells like hell when filled up with flies) are also effective but are a pain in the butt to use. Here's a tip: one benefit to using fly traps is that when they get filled up, you can place them underneath the back seat of your buddy's pickup truck.

I have found out that effective manure management is the primary best method to control flies. Manure attracts flies and also provides a breeding ground for them as well as for parasites like worms and mosquitoes. Not only important for West Nile Virus heavy areas, but also for dry and desert environs, manure has got to be removed and treated if stored for very long before removal. I have a large dumpster that we dump manure into, which is removed weekly. During the late Spring, Summer and early Fall months, I spray a insect killer onto the top of the manure stored in the dumpster to ensure a hostile environment for any breeding insects.

Fly masks, fly sheets and of course fly spray are all very useful especially for the thin haired and older horses. The most effective fly sprays use chemicals such as pyrethrins. I’m pretty careful how often I use it and where I spray it on the horse as this is a pretty potent chemical. I typically use several brands, mostly Tri-Tec 14 Spray, Pyranha Wipe and Spray and Repel-X RTU all of which are at the lower end of the price spectrum but still much more effective than the very low end fly spray such as Bronco. I would be comfortable using Ultra Shield or Wipe products as well.

I actually use a shot of two of Wild Turkey to keep the flies off me, but everyone knows horses only drink beer, Leticia, you can try feed through fly control. I won’t use it but understand it is safe. I have tried garlic powder mixed into my horse’s grain but they won’t eat it. Some of the feed through products are comprised of garlic and garlic and yeast. I would consider fly masks and even a fly sheet, plus maybe fly strips or traps and/or fly predators (I’ll test them this summer), but above all, a good manure management program is probably best. Good luck and a safe, fly less, journey.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Craig Cameron - 2010 Road to the Horse Winner

There is no better horse trainer in my thinking than Craig Cameron, known as the “Cowboy’s Clinician”, although I doubt Craig puts much stock in that title. I could just hear him say something like “I’m just trying to help the horse”.

I said months ago that the savvy horseowner would seek the guidance and knowledge of those professional trainers who make a living training horses and teaching riders. Impossible for some, due to financial or other restraints, to travel to a clinic and either participate as a rider or watch as a auditor – the next best thing is to obtain one of the many great books on horses, horse training, and horse problems.

Craig’s book, Ride Smart, is one of a series of many Western Horseman books. Ride Smart is my favorite reading material outside of a restaurant menu. Craig’s common sense and horse sense come out in the book. His side bar stories help articulate what he’s talking about, be it sacking out a colt or doubling a horse against the rail. What is slightly missing is his great sense of humor which is in abundance at any clinic he conducts all across the country.

From Bluff Dale, Texas, Craig was recently crowned the 2010 World Champion of Road to the Horse, which is a colt starting competition hosted every year in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Craig also has a ranch near Lincoln, New Mexico, where he also conducts clinics.

You can go to Craig's website to order his book.
or to the Western Horseman site:
or through the Amazon Link on the left side of this page.

Safe Journey