Saturday, February 23, 2013

177 years ago at the Alamo

177 years ago today the Mexican Army seige of the Alamo in San Antonio (then called Bexar or Behar) began. A few months early Texians under Ben Milam took the town from Mexican Cavalry under General Cos, but on February 23, 1836 General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived outside San Antonio with thousands of soldiers and surrounded the Alamo and the less than 200 men within it's walls. Among the Texian force were Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett and the Alamo Commander Lt. Colonel William B. Travis.

The flag at top right is called the Alamo flag. It is a Mexican flag with the seal in the center removed and the numbers "1824" instead. The year 1824 was significant to the Texians as the ruling Mexican government's Constitution of 1824 granted Texas settlers rights that were in subsequent years revoked in some manner which was one cause of the Texas Revolution.

Today, featured on display at the Alamo is the "Victory or Death" letter written by Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis, who was facing certain death from Santa Ana's forces.

On March 6th, 1836 the final assault by Mexican forces were successful in overwhelming the Alamo defenders. 182 Texians were killed and over 1,500 Mexican soldiers were killed and another third of that number wounded. The Alamo defenders were fighting to protect the rights granted by the 1824 Mexican Constitution never knowing that the Texas Government of Sam Houston had declared their independence 4 days earlier.

The Travis "Victory or Death" Letter

Commandancy of the The Alamo

Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836

To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World—

Fellow Citizens and compatriots—

I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country — Victory or Death.

William Barrett Travis.

Lt. Col. comdt.

P. S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.


God Bless Texas

Monday, February 18, 2013

Handling Horses When Eating

Kaylay wrote and said she "remembered reading something I wrote about a year ago about cleaning a horses feet while the horse was eating but she recently read an article from Monty Roberts who said leave your horses alone when they are eating, to do otherwise would only be detrimental for them and make them mad. He was pretty adament about it in his article."

Monty Roberts is top shelf in the world of horse trainers. His ability to communicate with horses and train others to do so is legendary. If you haven't seen Monty Roberts or read any of his books, then it would be an education to do so. His book "Shy Boy" is a great read.

I have read at least some of what Monty Roberts wrote about leaving horses alone to eat. I'm going to have to disagree with him somewhat. It's not that I think you should make it a point to handle horses, rub on them, clean their feet or otherwise mess with them while they are eating, but I think that your horses should be gentled enough that you should be able to do so, just like horses should not be pushy or crowding when you are feeding, or otherwise be feed aggressive.

I routinely throw feed and while anyone of my horse's are eating I have no problem picking up a foot if I need to, picking a sticker out of their mane, put a blanket on or off, asking them to move over so I can pick manure, or even just giving them a little rubbing on the withers.  I don't see my e horses having any problem with this, tail twitching, no flats ears, no other signs of discomfort or anxiety.  In fact, I have one horse who will often come off his feed to come over to the fence to visit.    

Many times I trailer someplace and let my horse eat water soaked hay while I am saddling him.  Again no signs of any issues here.        

Monty Roberts is one of the best horsemen in the world and when he gives advice people should listen,..... I just have never had a problem with handing my horses while they are eating.  I see no anxiety from my horses, nor have I seemed to have created another problem.  But every horse is going to be different, so each individual horse should be read before handling that horse while they are feeding.      

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pack Moose

I was sent a link to this story about a guy who raised an abandoned moose calf with his horses, and believe it or not, he has trained it for lumber removal and other hauling tasks.

Given the 2,000 pounds of robust muscle, and the splayed, grippy hooves, he claims it is the best work animal he has.

He says the secret to keeping the moose around is a sweet salt lick, although, during the rut he disappears for a couple of weeks, but always comes home!

The moose may make a good pack animal,....but probably not for those moose hunting trips.

From Bow Hunting Face Book Page

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Horse Hoof Health Questions

Emma Cay asked "You make a very good point. I really like that you help us understand what is going on inside the horse's head. I wonder can you recommend any hoof supplements? I don't like shoeing if I don't have to."

Hey Emma, you have to have some realistic expectations with any supplements. While I believe hoof supplements are among the type of supplements that actually work, they won't replace good trimming, fix bad feet or replace shoes when needed.

There are many horses due to their good genetics and/or easy type of terrain they are ridden in who will never need shoes. And I think most people will say that most horses are better off without shoes, after all that's the way they come without our interference, but of course there are some horses who can be helped with shoes or may need corrective shoeing. I have some horses of each type.

I use Horseshoer's Secret which is a pelleted for of hoof supplement and have used Farrier's Formula over the years as well. I can't tell the difference between these products in the two horses I have put on it, but I now opt to use Horseshoers Secret now. I didn't tell my horseshoer about putting my horses on this supplement. I wanted to see if he could tell a difference. So every six to eight weeks I would ask him how those horses' feet were looking. Most often he would say something like "well, he still has a flare on that back right, but he's growing good sole and growing it pretty quick, too."

By the way, holding your horse for your shoer is a good time to increase your education on horses in general and feet in particular.  I'm lucky to have a great farrier and rarely miss a chance to be on hand to talk to him while he trims and shoes my horses.  

Usually supplements have a loading period where you are giving the horse an increased dose for X amount of days or weeks, then a maintenance level. At maintenance level, you'll be paying around $25 a month to feed your horse a hoof supplement.

You have to remember that it takes 8 to 10 months or so for a foot to completely grow out, so you'll have to have your horse on the hoof supplement for a long time to see any results. If you are looking for really tough feet, since you do not shoe your horse, then I don't think a hoof supplement will give you that. I'm using hoof supplements to give my horses the best chance of having healthy feet not tough feet.  You may want to look into hoof boots. Having some hoof boots around in case of a sore foot or to treat an injury is a good idea.

Siddo4 sent an e-mail asking "Do you clean your horse's hooves every day or before and after you ride? One of my friends say not to clean the hooves before you ride as the dirt packed underneath will help protect the hoof."

I usually look at and pick my horse's feet before riding just to make sure the shoe isn't loose or the horse hasn't picked up a rock or thorn. Sometimes if the hoof is packed with sand and manure I'll leave it as a natural pad, depending on where I'm riding or what I'm doing with that horse.  But imagine a rock packed into the manure that you can't see - the constant impact may turn that into a stone bruise.   

I always check and pick his feet after a ride. Sometimes during a ride I'll dismount and check his feet if I think I need to or if I'm riding with someone, a glance at the other horse's feet as they leave the ground will let you see if he picked up a rock.

Different country and climates affect the horse's feet differently.  While I may get away with not checking and picking feet for a few days since I live in the desert, someone in a very wet area may need to clean the feet more often to keep thrush down.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

USDA Implements Animal Disease Traceability Program

If you trailer your horses out of state then read this information concerning USDA regulations on movement of horses from The American Horse Council published by the The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).

In a move that many thought would never happen, the U.S. Department of Agriculture instituted its Animal Disease Traceability Program on January 9. The system, which will become effective March 11, is intended to improve USDA’s and state authorities’ ability to trace livestock, including horses, in the event of a disease outbreak. The new system applies to all livestock moving interstate.

Under the new federal regulations, horses moving interstate must be identified and accompanied by an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI), commonly called a health certificate, or other state-approved document, such as a Coggins test chart or equine passport approved by the animal health officials in the sending and receiving states.

Horses may be identified by methods currently used in the horse community, such as a description sufficient to identify the individual horse, including, name, age, breed, color, gender, distinctive markings, and unique and permanent forms of identification, such as brands, tattoos, scars, cowlicks, blemishes or biometric measurements. Electronic identification can also be used, as can digital photographs.

“All states now require an ICVI to accompany any horse entering their state. This should make for a smooth transition to the new traceability rule, since most horse owners moving their horses interstate for breeding, racing, showing, sale, etc. should already be in compliance with the provisions of the new rule,” said Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council.

This new rule is based on the previous National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which was the original voluntary system proposed by USDA to deal with disease outbreaks and traceability. The NAIS was not supported by much of the livestock industry, requiring USDA to reconsider its approach.

“This more limited and simpler system just adopted is the result. The new system does not require the registration of premises housing livestock or the specific reporting of individual movements of horses,” Hickey said.

Exclusions. From the USDA regulation published in the Federal Register. There are exclusions to the new requirements for the following horses:

~ Horses used as a mode of transportation (horseback, horse and buggy) for travel to another location that return directly to the original location.

~ Horses moved from a farm or stable for veterinary treatment that are returned to the same location without change in ownership.

~ Horses moved directly from a location in one state through another state to a second location in the original state.

~ Horses moved between shipping and receiving states with another form of identification or documentation other than an ICVI, e.g., a horse infectious anemia test chart, as agreed to by the shipping and receiving states or tribes involved in the movement.

However, you can click this link to download a pdf version of the Federal Register No 78 Volume 6, Part IV which covers the new regulations in great detail. Warning, this is 37 page document – during or after reading you may have the urge to gouge your own eyes out with a spoon.