Monday, May 28, 2018

Arena Patterns - The Basic Square

Leslie asked about some ideas for Arena Patterns and I e-mailed her back saying that I really think given her imagination combined with what she thinks may help your horse, she could develop several patterns and drills, but I think that way of thinking will bring her back to the basics with her horse.  What I have set up in my arena presently is just four traffic cones set up into a 40 foot square. I favor using props to set up patterns that give you many different options. 

I recently finished  giving a clinic on preparing your horse for an Arena Obstacle Competition where I encouraged those who attended not to get focused on training on carnival type obstacles, but instead to focus on controlling the four parts of the horse through basic maneuvers.  Some of you immediately are taking issue with my "four parts of the horse" statement, believing that the head and neck are separate parts, combined with the front end, the barrel and the back end - making it five parts of the horse.  And I am aware that my betters think differently, but in my experience, anything the head does effects the neck, and vice versa -  I just don't think you can move the head independently of the neck, nor the neck independently of the head.  I'll post an article in the near future on this.  

Back to the Basic Square. I can get straight lines out of the sides of the square and bending out of the corners. I can ask a horse for softness in the straight lines, even a stop, back then forward movement again. I can use the corners to do 180, 270 or 360 degree circles - the 270 degree circles would be when you cross the diagonal. And sometimes, I'll add a stop, move the hindquarter 180 degrees, maybe a back up a few steps, then move the front end over 180 degrees facing the original direction of travel. So really what you can do is limited by your imagination.  Having a pattern, and it's really just a guide,  helps you focus, but a key to using it effectively would include be able to change up how you use it to keep your hose lively.    

Figure 1. Using the square just to get the horse travel in a straight line, then bending around the corners. Variations could be: squaring off your corners; stopping and/or stopping with an immediate back up (this really helps your stop on your horse); or, leg yield to push the horse over to an inside line of travel;

Figure 2. Making a circles around a traffic cone the traveling across the diagonal.

Figure 3. Making complete circles around each corner cone. A variation would be to make a 180 degree forward circle, stop then back in 180 degree arc facing the original direction of travel then continuing.

Figure 4. On each straight line, stopping and disengaging the backend 180 degrees, backing up 3-4 steps, then bringing the front end over 180 degrees facing the original direction of travel. For the first time, be very deliberate and even slow it down, and maybe even pausing before each separate maneuver.  This will help you horse get pretty handy as you are exercising control all parts of the horse.  

Again, I would consider changing things up to keep your hose from getting dull or anticipating.  example would be if you are doing full circles around each cone then maybe the skip the next cone just to keep your horse honest.  Stopping between the cones and doing a roll back or doubling to the outside is another example of changing things up.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Evolving Feed Programs

I get the occasional e-mail from people with questions on previous articles I've posted on what I fed my horses.  More questions are specifically asking about prevention of sand colic. Katie and BL would be the last two I received - this article is for you.  It is intended to show you want I do.  You would be well advised to work with your Vet on what is going to be best for your horses in your specific area.

A significant portion of horse owners have the benefit (and sometimes the dangers as well) of keeping horses near yearly on pasture. In West Texas and the desert Southwest, putting your horses on pasture is rarely an option. And if you own horses long enough you will see a case or two (or three or ten!) of sand colic.  I saw a lot of it when I ran a large public barn.  And, in my observation, the rates of colic increased when horses were fed straight alfalfa and consumed much of it of the ground.    

Sand colic of course is distress or even an impaction of the gut caused by the digestion of sand. If you want to get concerned about sand colic, goggle the term and look for x-rays and pictures of necropsies showing just how much sand a horse can accumulate in their gut. 

While for centuries, horses grazed off the ground, it has usually been plants and scrub. The tendency of a horse to pickup sand in his feed increases greatly when small alfalfa leaves or grain is dropped onto the ground and the horse cleans up every bit of it. Generally, horses can eat long stemmed forage, such as grasses off the ground without a problem, but feeders, and mats, that will contain the feed of the ground is generally safer.

I used to feed in tubs that were small enough where the horses would pull out their feed and distribute it on the ground, where they would pickup sand while cleaning up. As a preventative step, I used to routinely feed a wheat bran mash, usually mixed with Sand Clear - a pelleted psyllium supplement, to help remove sand from the gut. This also presented it's own issue with horses (some more than others) dropping mouthfuls of the mash onto the ground then cleaning it up digesting more sand. It was only when I went to using large box feeders, where the horses would drop very little feed outside of their feeder, where I could cease the routine feeding of bran mashes.

This is the evolving part of a feeding program for horses. As factors change, so does what and how you feed.  Many factors would influence changing types and amounts of feed- these are just of them:

~ As horses get older their dietary needs will change. We've kept horses rideable into their late twenties and even early thirties by adding judicious amounts senior type feed to ensure these great old horses obtained a healthier amount of vitamins, minerals and pro-biotics their aging bodies need.

~ Teeth issues, causing pain to chew or inability to chew food small enough is a big facto.  Older horses will generally have teeth problems.  And in fact, all horses can have teeth issues so nothing better than an annual exam and floating to eliminate teeth as an issue.  While you are at it, have a conversation with the Vet on what types of feed will benefit the changing health of the horse.

~ Changing sources of alfalfa and grass hay, with changing quality and nutritional value, will also likely move you to change your feedings. we feed a mix of alfalfa and grass hay and that ratio changes as we detect quality changes in the hays. First cut alfalfa, with it's normally rich leafy and higher protein values, direct us to feed less alfalfa and more grass.  While you can normally find a nearby asset to send feed samples to for diagnosis, the horse owner usually develops a feel for the feed quality through sight, touch and smell.
~ Several of our horses receive a periodic dose of pro-biotics and when we change alfalfa sources, all the horses get another dose even though we mix old and new alfalfas for 7-10 days. We also give them an out of cycle dose of Sand Clear as well.

I do routinely use Sand Clear. Some people have commented that it's expensive, but having a Vet respond to a colicing horse is more expensive. Horses are going to be different - some get along just fine without the intervention of added psyllium. I have three horses who get one scoop (5 ounces) of Sand Clear once a week. Nothing indicates that they digest much sand, but Sand Clear isn't just helpful to prevent sand colic, it's helpful to keeping a healthy gut. And two other horses get Sand Clear two to three times week depending upon the condition of their manure.

As a rough 'sand in the gut' check, You can collect five or six balls of manure that haven't touched the ground and put them into a mason jar.  Cover the balls of manure with water; shake the jar up, and let the sand settle to the bottom.  While I have done this dozens of times, I no longer bother to do.  I can usually judge by changes to the horse's manure piles on the ground.  Wet, partially formed manure can indicate sand in the gut. We have been able to keep two of our older horses pretty well balanced this way for years, and actually eliminated the periodic colicing of one of these horses when we first came to us.

My Vet runs a large stables and her practice is that all horses receive Sand Clear once a week. The fact that she recommends it should be good enough for most of her clients. I do still believe wheat bran has a place in the barn. A sloppy wheat bran mash with a bit of molasses (and I usually put in some corn oil) is a good way to get fluids and nutrition into a horse.

So to answer several questions over the past few months, and those from Katie and BL, I obviously recommend Sand Clear.  However, not all psyllium products are the same. I would be hesitant to use psyllium products intended or humans, and would not use any of these products that had artificial sweeteners added to make it palatable to humans. Metamucil for instance contains Aspartame. No human could consume Aspartame, and neither will my horses.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

50 Dead Horses, others found malnourished at Texas Rescue

Another sickening story of horse abuse as authorities in Texas on Tuesday 10 April 2018 discovered 50 dead horses on a self-described ‘sanctuary’ in Canton, Texas, and seized custody of 87 allegedly mistreated animals. “It was just a sea of dead horses,” Victoria Albrecht, a spokeswoman for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It was just heartbreaking.”

The allegedly mistreated animals included 70 horses, nine donkeys, six pigs and one longhorn, authorities said. The dead horses were found scattered and decomposing along a creek on the property.

The malnourished horses resorted to eating trees clean of their bark, while the pigs were confined to a single pen without access to food, authorities said. Most of the animals were found roaming the fenced-in property with varying health problems, including overgrown and cracked hooves and open sores.

The agency said it first visited the property on March 3rd, 2018 after receiving a complaint of suspected animal cruelty. Officials then began to work with the owners, educating them on proper animal care and entering into an agreement with them to bring the animals’ conditions up to Texas' health and safety code. Officials didn’t know about the dead horses at that time, the statement said.

SPCA investigators checked on the animals two more times before receiving a second complaint on March 30—this time of more than 50 dead horses on that same property. Police and SPCA officials then worked together to gather evidence and take custody of the animals. A deceased horse was taken so its cause of death could be determined by a necropsy, the statement said. The living animals were examined by a medical staff and will receive care until a custody hearing on April 19.

Shamefully, the owners have not been charged. While I fully understand that some people take in animals with full intent of providing a good, fair life to that animal to a natural death, some people just get in over their heads - their abilities and resources, despite their best intent, are just not up to the task. But there is no excuse for not calling someone for help and continue searching for a solution. But people are people and some are capable of horrendous cruelty. All decent people need to report neglect and abuse; and, law enforcement needs to do their part. Violators should be charged and prosecuted.

Texas Penal Code, Section 42.09 Cruelty to Livestock Animals

(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly:
(1) tortures a livestock animal;
(2) fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, or care for a livestock animal in the person's custody;
(3) abandons unreasonably a livestock animal in the person's custody;
(4) transports or confines a livestock animal in a cruel and unusual manner;
(5) administers poison to a livestock animal, other than cattle, horses, sheep, swine, or goats, belonging to another without legal authority or the owner's effective consent;
(6) causes one livestock animal to fight with another livestock animal or with an animal as defined by Section 42.092 (Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals);
(7) uses a live livestock animal as a lure in dog race training or in dog coursing on a racetrack;
(8) trips a horse; or
(9) seriously overworks a livestock animal.
(b) In this section:
(1) “Abandon” includes abandoning a livestock animal in the person's custody without making reasonable arrangements for assumption of custody by another person.
(2) “Cruel manner” includes a manner that causes or permits unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering.
(3) “Custody” includes responsibility for the health, safety, and welfare of a livestock animal subject to the person's care and control, regardless of ownership of the livestock animal.
(4) “Depredation” has the meaning assigned by Section 71.001, Parks and Wildlife Code.
(5) “Livestock animal” means:
(A) cattle, sheep, swine, goats, ratites, or poultry commonly raised for human consumption;
(B) a horse, pony, mule, donkey, or hinny;
(C) native or nonnative hoofstock raised under agriculture practices; or
(D) native or nonnative fowl commonly raised under agricultural practices.
(6) “Necessary food, water, or care” includes food, water, or care provided to the extent required to maintain the livestock animal in a state of good health.
(7) “Torture” includes any act that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering.
(8) “Trip” means to use an object to cause a horse to fall or lose its balance.
(c) An offense under Subsection (a)(2), (3), (4), or (9) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if the person has previously been convicted two times under this section, two times under Section 42.092, or one time under this section and one time under Section 42.092. An offense under Subsection (a)(1), (5), (6), (7), or (8) is a state jail felony, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the person has previously been convicted two times under this section, two times under Section 42.092, or one time under this section and one time under Section 42.092.
(d) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(8) that the actor tripped the horse for the purpose of identifying the ownership of the horse or giving veterinary care to the horse.
(e) It is a defense to prosecution for an offense under this section that the actor was engaged in bona fide experimentation for scientific research.
(f) It is an exception to the application of this section that the conduct engaged in by the actor is a generally accepted and otherwise lawful:
(1) form of conduct occurring solely for the purpose of or in support of:
(A) fishing, hunting, or trapping; or
(B) wildlife management, wildlife or depredation control, or shooting preserve practices as regulated by state and federal law; or
(2) animal husbandry or agriculture practice involving livestock animals.
(g) This section does not create a civil cause of action for damages or enforcement of this section.

Article from Fox News