Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reader Question - Carrots or Apples?

I received a reader question, from Shirley, asking which was better for Horses,..carrots or apples?

Actually, both carrots and apples are good feed supplements. Carrots are a little bit higher in energy, producing around 1.7 Mcal of Digestive Energy (per pound) compared to 1.3 Mcal for Apples (per pound), according to Lon Lewis' "Equine Clinical Nutrition - Feeding and Care".

I feed both as supplements from time to time and neither are a mainstay of my feeding routine. Carrots, around 10% protein are twice as high as Apples, and have a higher percentage of calcium and phosphorus at .4% and .35% respectively, compared to Apples at .1% and .15% respectively. Again according to Lon Lewis' "Equine Clinical Nutrition - Feeding and Care".

So all in all, Carrots provide more nutrition for Horses than Apples. I reckon you could substitute one pound of carrots for one pound of hay every day but this is hard to keep up with. Carrots, are cheaper than Apples in most places, and are at least 4 times more expensive per pound than Alfalfa.

I am much more likely to feed Apples as a supplement in the hot months, than Carrots, as the Apples contain more moisture. Sometimes when I'm riding all day on a hot day, I put a couple of Apples in my Saddle Bags so I can give something to my Horse that has some moisture.

I also feed watermelon and watermelon rinds on occasion. I think most of my Horses prefer Watermelon over Carrots and Apples, and in fact, my Mustang won't eat Apples at all. Hope this answered your question, Shirley. Safe Journey.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Reader's Horses - Zeus and Sami

Pam and Patrick McConnell sent pictures of their horses, Zeus and Sami.

Zeus is an Bay Irish Thoroughbred, who was a rescue horse. Very gentle and very sweet guy but does have some health issues. He is allergic to Alfalfa hay and maybe more since he breaks out in hives every once in a while. They have not had him too long but he was under weight when Pam and Patrick got him but now is perfect weight.

Horses can do well just on grass hay. I feed about 50% grass, 50% alfalfa in hay. I have a couple horses that get 95% grass and 5% alfalfa. It's getting harder and harder to get grass hay - which is more expensive that alfalfa. However, before I totally eliminated alfalfa from Zeus diet, I would try soaking a flake of alfalfa in a hay net in a stock tank, then seeing if that changes Zeus' reaction to the alfalfa. I have also used Tri-Hist (a powdered antihistamine) but I would hate to use it routinely.

If you are concerned about Zeus not getting enough protein than maybe consider feeding him some pelleted grain with a 14% to 18% protein content.....grass hay is generally 10-12% protein. I have also used Calf Manna which is around 25% protein. But start with small amounts such as 1/2 cup then gradually increase as the horse tolerates it. I never feed more than 2 lbs of 12% - 14% pelleted feed at any one time and much less if it's Calf Manna. Corn oil can also be a good feed supplement, but can get expensive at today's prices.

Ask you Horse Vet about this and realize all horses may react differently. In the wild, horses are eating natural grass. When we insist on owning them and penning them up, then feeding all sorts of things that in nature they wouldn;t get,...well, that's when problems are more likely.

Sami is the Paint gelding, and a good looking Paint Horse he is.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trail Horse Obstacles - Cowboy Curtain

If you have never watched Craig Cameron's Extreme Cowboy Competition or his Old Time Cowboy Competition, then you are missing a great show. If you can't make it to a competition near you, RFD TV shows it from time to time, or go to the web site:

I mention this because I replicated one of the obstacles, known as the Cowboy Curtain, to work my horses through making them better trail horses.

This is nothing more than a frame of 4x4 posts anchored into the ground with pieces of rope hanging from the top to create a curtain and something a horse will be uncomfortable going through, giving your horse another chance to figure things out and give him some confidence.

You can make a easy Cowboy Curtain by simply hanging yellow caution tape or rope from a bow gate and let your horse work through it. I'd be careful about how you hang the rope. You don't want anything catching on your horse, saddle or you as you move through it, nor do you want the ropes long enough for the horse to step on, as it could pull down your frame depending upon how things are anchored or hung, or just simply cause a wreck. Safe Journey.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reader Question on Horse "Barring It's Teeth"

I received an e-mail from 14 year old Latasha in Florida who dearly wants to take horseback riding lessons and is trying to convince her Mom to let her. Latasha wrote she visits a local horse farm where she pets the horses but one horse "bares it's teeth" at her. Latasha's questions where "Is the horse mean or attemting to bite her?".

Latasha, I think what you are seeing is the "Flehmen" response where a horse curls up it's upper lip, exposing it's top teeth in order to open up the nostrils and smell what interested them. A horse will usually raise their head up and extend it's nose as well when they do this.

I've only seen two horses who liked to intentionally and maliciously bite people. The horses that I'm referring to both had postures and body language that gave them away, but they can still move quick so we were always rady for them. When my Mustang bit me, it was a defensive reaction, he just thought that's what he had to do - I held no grudge...he doesn't bit anymore.

If the horse that you are referring to in your e-mail had it's ears back and was lunging for you, then that's a diferrent story. If what you are seeing is like the horse in the video below, then it's a safe bet that the horse smells soap residue or perfume, or maybe your are just a different smell than it is used to. Maybe you can find somebody at the horse farm to talk to you. It's probably a good place to learn about horses, even if you just watch them and see how they interact with each their body language it's very interesting.

Good luck on convincing your Momma to let you take riding lessons. Horses are great for kids, you just have to find a good instuctor with safe horses. I think horse kids grow up with better personal skills that other kids in many cases. You'll learn to read body language and how to approach language barriers. And if you are cleaning stalls in the hot and cold seasons, and doing other chores you will pickup a good work ethic. Safe Journey.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Running a Horse Stables

I received an e-mail from a reader in September, sorry it has taken me so long to respond - it just fell through the cracks: "You don't know me but someone who boarded their horses at the Fort Bliss Horse Stables told me about your site and that you used to run the Fort Bliss Horse Stables. I am a stay at home Mom with schooled aged children and am thinking about opening up a small boarding stables. My husband supports this if I can give him an idea on the costs and problems and potential income produced by this venture. We have an 8 acre plot with our house and the area is horse friendly, although you would have to trailer someplace to ride in open areas. Can you give me some tips or problems areas to consider? How much should I charge for boarding one horse?"

I could talk to you for hours on this subject listing all the problems areas and things to be concerned about. The first thing to understand is this is not a money making deal. The way to make a little money with horses is to start with a lot of money. There would be a lot of work on your part at very low pay, even less than what the minimum wage would support.

Some people start out boarding horses because of their love for horses, but as soon as it becomes a business, it ceases to become fun and becomes work.

If you are still interested, you will have to determine if you want to run a "full care" facility or just provide space and facilities for owners and their horses. Basically, full care would be much harder on you, but you would retain more control.

For instance now when I board horses, I charge $300 per horse per month for basic full care. This includes a 15x15 foot covered stall, and access to a 80x160 foot arena and 45 foot round pen. This also covers hay, cleaning the stalls, manure disposal, water, feet getting trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks, and worming.

I figure the cost of water, feed, trims, worming and manure disposal to be $180 to $200 a month, so we are paid $100 to $120 a month to do the manual labor of cleaning the stalls twice or more a day, and turning the horse out almost every day. Plus having eyes on the horse most of the day in case of problems. So payment for labor turns out to be $8 a day. Try finding someone to clean your stalls and dump manure, clean and fill water buckets, and throw feed for $8 a day.

So you can see why I say this is not a money maker.

If you just rent a facility for boarders and they have to provide their own hay and wormers, clean their own stalls, and make their own trimming/shoeing arrangements then you will much sooner than later have a problem with someone not fulfilling their end of the bargin.

There is a women about a mile from my place who ran a boarding stables for several years. She only charged $150 per month full care. But the stalls were small and put together which various components - mostly wood; water buckets were very dirty and often ran dry; they only cleaned about twice a week (if that); and the hay she bought was often better used on cows,...sometimes called #2 hay. Yet she was full most of the time.

SO really the only way to own and run a private stables is to have full care, so you have control of the feed and rules on cleanliness. I have seen too many facilities charge a very minimum fee for full care and the horses are standing in manure, water and half the time their stock tanks are dry. You get what you pay for.

When I ran the military stables, people went to great lengths to avoid obeying the rules. Dogs and Horses get along, but not necessarily your uncontrolled dog and everyone else's horse. People over feeding or under feeding horses and not liking worming on a schedule; did not like obeying the turnout rules. Sometimes dumping manure in piles in the arena or round pens. Horses with untreated injuries. Unbelievable.

Just a lot of problems mainly with people. If only they were honest like their horses. You should have a list of rules posted and have the boarding owner sign a copy. Again, post your rules. Get paid in advanced. Consider a deposit. Consider part of the payment to be a "work day" where the boarding owners contribute to the upkeep such as painting, repairing fences or panels, pulling weeds, filling and leveling stalls, etc.

And try this out on a limited basis. Interview and pick your boarders. You may even want to talk to lawyer and an insurance company, and, check your state laws on liability. Good luck and safe journey.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reader Question on Cowboy Handguns

Received a comment and question from Bill W. I watched a couple of your videos on shooting from horseback. What guns do you use and or recommend? Great site and thanks!

Thanks Bill, for your nice comment. I use a single action revolver in .45 Long Colt because blanks are available, from Buffalo Blanks. I have two .45 LC single actions that I primarily use: a stainless steel Ruger Vaquero and a nickel plated single action from EAA called the Bounty Hunter. The Ruger is by far the better gun. I have also carried a single action in .357 Magnum made by Taurus - which is a great little gun, but I don't want to have to make my own blanks for it. When I was a Conservation Law Enforcement officers I carried a Smith and Wesson Model 686 revolver in .357 Magnum. The guns in the picture above are, from top to bottom: Smith and Wesson Model 686, Taurus, Ruger Vaquero and the EAA Bounty Hunter.

I'll try to explain more in the video below. Remember if you start using gun around horses, go slow and be safe.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reader Question on QH-Morgan cross with Bad Ground Manners Including Rearing

A reader sent me the following question on a horse of theirs with bad ground manners,…”I recently bought a Quarter Morgan cross she has horrible ground manners. Last time I took her out off the halter she bucked and reared and I had a hell of a time getting back under control. I have been doing basic round pen work with her and trying to get her to pay more attention to me. Any suggestions to help her and I get on the same page. I like her spunk but I like my fingers and arms too lol. Thank you”

Having fingers are good. Having thumbs is what separates us from monkeys, although I have seen people act as monkeys when working around horses.

If your QH-Morgan mare is stalled or not handled for days on end, especially when the weather is cold, then this will tend to make them more “energetic”. If you are using a webbing halter, then I suggest you get a good rope halter such as a Double Diamond Halter and tied on lead rope. Your horse should, of course, stand still as you remove the halter, and should even position her head to make it easier for you to remove the halter and not move off until you walk away.

Re-building ground manners starts from haltering and instilling these habits. She'll learn from the release of pressure be it pressure from the halter or pressure that she perceives from you. I would lead her around until she does everything I ask her to do under halter, before turning her loose. I would walk off, stopping, back then standing still. Mix it up some.

She’ll rapidly figure out what you want. If she doesn’t stop then back her with a bump on the lead rope tied to your rope halter. I like my horses to stop immediately when I stop, even at a jog, then back one step. This will translate to a better stop under saddle. When she is correctly position then let her stand for a few seconds then move off. Not necessarily each time you walk of then stop, but more than occasionally, I would also stop and back her. Horses get better at almost everything else when they can back well. But you have to stop before they want to stop or before they resist otherwise it does no good.

When I’m leading or lunging a horse on a long lead or lunge line and they rear, I sharply bump on the lead line as their front end is off the ground,…this is a good point on why the rope halter is good. I didn't have much effect on one horse, until he time he reared, I bumped the halter lead sharply then back him with energy.

Before I take off the halter, I ask the horse to drop his head through a slight downward pressure on the lead line and slight downward pressure with my off hand on their poll. You need to quickly release the pressure at the slightest try in dropping their head. Several repetitions will make them better at this, until they can drop their head, like in a collected position – nose vertical, and hold it there until you take the halter off and walk away.

I would try to keep on hand (left) on the lead and use my right hand to un-tie the halter,...if the horse tries to move away before the halter is off you can use the lead rope to bump her and get her attention.

I hope this helps you. A QH-Morgan horse is an excellent cross. Safe Journey.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mantracking - Reading Deceptive Print, Walking Backwards

Continuing on with some short videos on Mantracking, I am depicting what it looks like for someone to be deceptive and walking backwards to throw off the tracker.

The three biggest indications of someone walking backwards trying to make you think he is moving in one direction when actually moving in another, are:

Absence of Toe Dirt. When moving forward, the toe of the footwear will drag dirt and debris forward creating what we call "toe dirt" indicating direction of travel. When walking backwards there is no forward momentum to create the natural plume of dirt in front of the toe.

Light Pressure Release in the Heel. Because when the individual is walking backwards, a lot of pressure is taken off the heel and in effect the walker becomes a toe walker.

Shorter Stride. The stride length,....distance between the toe and the subsequent heel,...are greatly reduced when walking backwards, sometimes as much as half - even more when the individual is carrying a heavy load like a rucksack.

To a lesser obvious extent, the pressure release in the toe of the boot is deeper and as the foot rolls from the toe to the heel, the ball of the footwear creates a good readable pressure release on the ball of the footwear.

If the individual is trying to walk backwards fast, there will normally be some dirt dragged by the heel as it rocks off the ground and is pulled backwards. This can help identify the deceptive practice of walking backwards and the direction of travel.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Keira, an Abused Horse, Needs Help

I would not normally solicit for donations for even the animals we rescue, but this is a special case,...the Vet bill will be big and the Horse is in foal. I received this information from a woman I trust completely, with the new owners of the abused horse in the story below being friends of hers. If you could see fit to contribute to Keira's vet bill, they would appreciate it. Even $5 and $10 will certainly add up. Safe Journey.

Keira is around 10-12 years old and is a beautiful black mare, that up until now has only known neglect and abuse at the hands of her former owner. Her former owner was a drunk and for sport would chase after Keira in the pasture while on a four wheeler. One afternoon she was chasing Keira and ran her right into the fence, when Keira became unable to free herself from the fence, her former owner shouted "thats what you deserve." Keira's former owner left her there and when the neighbors attempted to assist Keira the owner warned them to stay off the property or she would start shooting. The neighbor waited for her to go into the house, cut Keira loose, and promptly notified animal control. Although animal control told the former owner to get a vet out for a visit, Keira was left almost a year without proper medical attention. One day the neighbors saw Keira and noticed she had a huge mass on her leg, and again called animal control. I was called in to help this mare or they were going to have her put down.

As soon as I laid eyes on Keira, there was no other option, and I took her home with me. We also have good reason to believe that Keira is currently pregnant and due in approximately 4 to 5 months, this is according to her former owner. Keira is a sweet girl, but she is understandably shy and untrusting. Please help me get her the care she deserves, so that she can be pain free, and continue on with her pregnancy peacefully. Lets show Keira that not all humans want to hurt her. Thank you.

The link to the Keira site is here. There is a donation link on the top right hand side.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Packing Trip with Bob and his Friends

Made a packing trip the other day taking three city boys up into the mountains to hunt Muleys.

After we made camp, setting up one cook/storage tent and two 2 man smaller sleeping teepees, one of the boys approached me and said “I got to warn you about Bob. He snores like jet engine. Nobody wants to sleep in the same tent with him. So I’ll try tonight, but be warned I may be crowding into your tent.”

I said “Okay, suits me. Give it a try and we can always figure something out.”

The next morning the first guy appeared like he didn’t get a wink of sleep all night. So I asked “What happened to you partner? You look like you’ve been sorting Bobcats.” He replied “Bob snored all night long and I didn’t get any sleep whatsoever.”

So I guided all three of them through the mountains that day looking for Mule Deer but the man who didn’t get any sleep was dragging on us and holding us back. When we returned to camp and after I attended to the horses, the second guy say’s,……”Okay, I’ll sleep in Bob’s teepee tonight. I’m so damn tired I don’t think even Bob’s snoring will affect me.” So the sleeping arrangements made, we all sacked out for the evening.

The next morning the second guy stumbles out of Bob’s teepee looking like hell warmed over. I offered him a cup of thick black coffee and asked him, “So, you look like the other guy did yesterday morning. Did Bob keep you up all night with his snoring?” The second guy replied, “I don’t think I got even two minutes of sleep last night. And I still have ringing and roaring in my ears from Bob’s snoring.”

So after another day of unsuccessful hunting because now I had two guys who couldn’t keep up, we returned to camp. Since the next day was our last day of hunting, I volunteered to sleep in Bob’s teepee and give the other two boys a chance of rest. Both warned me about Bob, but I said not to worry,…that I’ll be damn sure to get some sleep.

The next morning I was finishing making breakfast when the first two boys pulled out of their teepee and seeing me they both remarked that it looked like I got a good nights sleep and wanted to know how I managed that with Bob being such a loud snorer.

I said “Well we got ready for bed. I went and patted Bob on the butt, tucked his sleeping bag around him, and kissed him good night. Bob sat up and watched me all night."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Exposing Your Horse to Gunfire - Part III

My next step in sacking my horse out to gunfire was to move him forward and rate his speed as I fired blank .45 LC cartridges off to either side of him.

Sometimes if you move a horse away from smething that is a problem for him or something that causes him anxiety, you are confirming to the horse that moving away is a good idea,...sort of like validating his fear. So for me success in shooting from the saddle during forward movement would be to rate his speed on loose reins,.... where it would be a different measure of success for training to shoot off your horse for hunting purposes. For preparing a horse to shoot off of for hunting, I would think I would be okay with a horse that moved alittle after the first shot, settling down as I worked the action and readied for a second shot.

To take a shot off a horse at a game animal, you should be pretty sure that you have a valid shot where you can kill or stop the animal. No sense in shooting just to shoot or otherwise just wounding.

In any event, when doing anything involved with firearms, even shooting blanks, abide by the four safety rules: Guns are always loaded until you have physically determined that they are not; Never point your gun at something you are not willing to destroy; keep your finger off the trigger until you are sure of your target; be sure of your gun to target line and what may be past your target or coming into the gun to target line.

Safe Journey.