Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fly Management: Spalding Fly Predators

Anonymous left a new comment on a previous post on answering questions on Fly Spray and Gun Training."The fly predators are not predators at all. They are little wasp that lay eggs in the fly larva and kill the larva before they hatch out. I started using them for the first time early this spring and get a new shipment every four weeks. So far we have not had much of a fly problem. I think I can notice an increase in flies toward the end of the four weeks and a decrease in flies about a week after we put the wasp out. I am considering moving the shipments up to every three weeks. Not too scientific, just reporting what I see."

Everyone I have talked to has had very good results using the Spalding Fly Predators. They come in a one time order or an automatically shipped order based on your interval for use and number of horses you have. I guess number of horses you have is an easier way to calculate the amount of Fly Predators as opposed to the amount of manure your horses produce.

Spalding produces a free Equine Fly Control Cuide on their website. The link to this free guide is here, Spalding Equine Fly Control Guide 2012.

While Spalding advertises that "Fly Predators have helped keep flies to a minimum without pesticides for hundreds of thousands of customers over the past 35 years. They're the smart way to avoid Fly Season. Simply sprinkle them near all manure areas every four weeks during spring and summer. It just takes a few minutes and you’ve done your fly control for the month." Spalding will also advise that a complete fly program includes conventional fly traps,...."No single trap will catch every kind of pest fly. Most horse owners will usually need three different traps; Odor and Sticky Traps for House Flies and Biting Stable Fly Traps (stinky, sticky and stable) and each type should be put in a different place."


Monday, June 25, 2012

More Beginning Neck Reining

I received a couple of questions on training your horse to neck rein recently. Themizuwolf asked "Does it matter how old your horse is? Mine is 19. Can I still teach him to neck rein or do you only have a window of time when they're young? Thank you." And Jerri, via e-mail, asked "I was watching a clinic two weeks ago and the trainer kept saying something to the effect - do not let you left hand cross over to the right side of the mane or neck, and viceversa. I really did not understand what this was about. Can you explain this rule?"

First of all I think a 19 year horse still can learn to do many things if made clear to him what you are asking. Some older horses have had several owners and are now a compendium of mixed signals and bad habits. Lesson horses are great examples. Having many riders of all levels, usualy beginners, pulling on them and kicking on them can make them somewhat dead sided and hard mouthed, but I still think you can overcome this.

If direct reining is a pull - pulling the horses head to the direction you want to go, then using a neck rein is a push. I really don't like using the terms "pull or push", but I'll use them to explain neck reining. To get a horse to neck rein is simply a process of the horse associating feeling the rein on his neck as pressure and he moves in the opposite direction.

Predominant in past years, people used reins made from horse mane or tail hair which are prickly and this provides a better feel on the neck, but make no mistake, the horse can feel smooth reins as well. I start the process of neck reining by laying the neck rein on the neck (this is the push) just before I tip his head in the opposite direction with a direct rein (this is the pull).

What the clinic trainer was talking about saying not to let your hand cross the neckline, is because it can put the rider out of position or balance, and, can cause that rein to become tight giving the horse a mixed signal. Hopefully, my demonstration of this in the video is understandable.

When I ride, I am not too concerned about using a neck rein and my hand crossing over the neck line since I try to ride on very loose rein. This to me is functional neck reining.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fly Spray and Gun Training Questions

LadyM wrote: "I do not want to use a chemical fly spray on my horse. Do you know of a natural type of horse spray that is effective?"

I have tried two natural fly sprays as I have an older horse who breaks out in black bumps when I use a Permethrin based fly spray on him. The natural products I have tried are Vinegar and Water and the other was a commercial product called Marigold Spray (made from Marigold flowers I assume). Neither were as effective as I would have liked. The Marigold Spray was probably more effective and you did not have to put up with that vinegar smell. Marigolds are the type of flower you are supposed to plant around your plants as a barrier for rabbits, however the rabbits out here in West Texas don't care if it's Marigold flowers or toxic waste, won't keep them from eating about anything they want.

An additional product which I have used, on that older horse who will not tolerate permethrins, is called M-T-G. This stands for Mane-Tail-Groom which is a sulfur based liquid intended for things like fungus control to fly bites. It actually works pretty well as a fly repellant. Although you have to put up with the smell. I wrote an article about using MTG earlier. You can find it here. I think an overall fly control strategy must also consider good manure management, use of fly traps and possibly fly predators. Previous article on natural fly sprays.

Josh wrote: "First of all thanks for a great site! I'm gun training my horse right now and he is doing really good. I noticed you started with a larger caliber than I'm using. Am I messing up by starting with the 22 round? Day one he continues eating when I fire within a few feet. I plan to work him up to my 1894 30-30 for white tail."

Josh, thanks for writing and your comments. I started with a larger caliber, .45 Long Colt, because blanks for that caliber are available. This negates the need to be concerned with where a projectile is landing. I think you can use live rounds in practically any caliber as long as you are safe with the impact zone of the projectile. When I was a Conservation Law Enforcement Officer, I fired live .357 magnum rounds, while on horseback, into a cardboard target in front of a mesquite berm with a safe area in back of that.

There is a danger called "sympathetic response". This is where one hand involuntarily closes or tightens on something, such as a gun grip and trigger, when the other hand (the off hand) also closes or tightens on something like the reins. I would think that if you can rope,…meaning throw a loop with one hand and control the rope coil and reins with the other hand, then you probably can be safe enough to shoot multiple shots off horseback.

Just remember the universal gun safety rules,.....1 – Guns are always loaded until you physically determine they are not, 2 – Finger stays off the trigger until you are sure of your target and intend to shoot, 3 – Do not point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy, 4 – Be sure of your target and anything that may be close to your gun to target line – this includes what may be in back of your target. I am sure you are aware that the noise generated by a center fire rifle caliber, like a .30-30, is going to be substantially louder and cause more concern to your horse. Good luck and safe journey Josh.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

For The Love Of A Horse - Horse Rescue

I have never heard of this organization, For The Love Of A Horse (FTLOAH), until a recent newspaper article caught my eye. This organization is based in Roswell, Georgia and is a registered non-profit 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization of volunteers dedicated to the resuce and rehabilitation of horses specifically having critcial care needs who would otherwise be euthanized.

As if caring for abused, neglected and sick horses is not enough, this organization has a "horses healing humans" outreach program visting the elderly and children.  We all know that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person, and FTLOAH is putting it into practice. 

One of the rescue stories is a miniature paint pony named Bishop where the previous owners, trying to cut costs, tied Bishop to a tree while they gelded him without anesthesia. Bishop ripped away from the tree in pain severing his ear and part of his lip in the process. If I found found someone doing that, I think I would whip them raw with my lariat then drag them a few miles through cactus,.....people who mistreat animals are a disgrace to the human race.

Anyway, for anyone looking for charitable cause, FTLOAH accepts donations, fact needs donations, order to help these horses. Donations link is accessible through their website, you also "like" them on Facebook.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mustang & Burro Update, June 2012

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come. While Functional Horsemanship does not necessarily support all of AWHPC views, I would like to see a safe and humane program in rounding up and culling the herds. Some of what AWHPC writes is derogatory to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While I have ridden and gathered cows on Federal grazing allotments with BLM cowboys, who are good hands and who I respect, I understand that the larger Federal Government doesn't do a lot of things well. Sometimes, what they don't do well is is the management of Wild Horse and Burro herds.

Arizona Burro Roundup Begins The BLM’s Cibola-Trigo burro roundup in southwestern Arizona began at 7:30 a.m. on June 6,2012. On the first day, the BLM captured 62 burros in 4 helicopter runs. Included were a number of foals. On day 2, the BLM captured 12 additional burros before calling the roundup in the late morning. The capture operation aims to remove 350 wild burros living in this remote region of the southern Sonora desert. Although BLM claims that burros are overgrazing, burro experts have stated that these animals regulate their population numbers in accordance with water availability. One wild burro population studied in the Mojave Desert showed a 7 percent reproduction rate — a far cry from the 15-25 percent rate of increase claimed by the BLM.

BLM Refuses Expert Offer for Humane Alternative to Dangerous Helicopter Roundup In Jackson Mountains, Nevada

Reno, NV – (June 8, 2012) — Despite the offer of experts to assist the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to provide a humane alternative, and under the guise of an “emergency,” the agency announced today that it will launch a helicopter roundup tomorrow in the Jackson Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) in northwestern Nevada. The action violates the agency’s own policy prohibiting the helicopter stampede of wild horses during peak foaling season (March 1 – June 30) and fails to meet the agency’s own criteria for an “emergency” situation. This morning, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) joined by The Cloud Foundation, sent an urgent letter to the BLM informing the agency of the immediate availability of an expert in bait/water trapping who works with the U.S. Forest Service who can assess the Jackson Mountains situation and begin bait/water trapping in the area.  

June is the height of foaling season, and the BLM’s decision means that BLM - contracted helicopters will be stampeding tiny foals, heavily pregnant mares and other horses who may already be compromised from lack of adequate water and forage with helicopters for untold miles over rugged terrain in high summer desert temperatures.

The BLM plans to use helicopters to roundup 630 horses from an estimated population of 930 horses (including 738 adults and 96 foals who were counted in April 2012) in the Jackson Mountains area. The capture operation will encompass over 775,000 acres – of which 286,000 acres are within the Jackson Mountains HMA.  

Pryor wild horse roundup could start this month Federal officials plan to thin by more than a third a wild horse herd that roams the mountain range along the Montana-Wyoming border. A planned roundup of dozens of wild mustangs from the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range along the Montana-Wyoming border could begin later this month. Federal officials with the Bureau of Land Management say the roundup is needed to reduce the size of the famous herd. They say the effort could begin no sooner than June 20. The roundup would reduce the 170-horse herd to 120 or fewer animals. Officials say that would keep the animals from overgrazing their 38,000-acre range — the nation’s first wild horse preserve. A petition from horse advocates seeking to half the roundup is currently under consideration. Two similar petitions have been denied.