Monthly Archives: September 2015

To Stall or Not To Stall, That Is The Question

There are good points to both.

In the old days, horses worked every day, or at least 6 out of 7.  The amount of work they recieved exercised their bodies, probably, more than they needed.  As long as they had a large enough stall to lay down in at night, all was well.  Actually they lived or died.

Now they are not working horses, but pleasure horses.  If they get an hours worth of forced exercise every day, they are lucky.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why we Stall –

  1. Hopefully you’ll always know where your horse is if you leave him in the stall.  I’ve had a few who were great at opening doors and letting everyone out.
  2. They stay much cleaner in the stall.  Maybe.
  3. They don’t get sun bleached if they are in the stall.
  4. They don’t usually get hurt when they’re in the stall.  There are exceptions to that rule.
  5. You know exactly how much they have eaten or drank if they are stalled.
  6. You don’t have to wander around in the fog or dark looking for them.
  7. You can catch them easier.
  8. You don’t have to worry about who they will get a long with.
  9. They’re happier to see you coming.  “Jail break!”

Not to stall –

Well you don’t have stalls to clean in the morning.

I guess the reason I’m for not stalling is because of something a vet told me 44 years ago.  Which to me makes sense.  Horses are a grazing animal.  Every part of the horses body, mind, and how it functions, depend on constant movement.

It’s especially important for the older horse.  To keep an old horse going they need an hour of forced exercise a day to keep arthritis at bay.  An old horse won’t do more than they have to.  Looking around these days, neither will our human teenagers.  I think I recently heard that some government agency is advocating forced exercising our children.

Since the horse is a grazing animal,  they were not intended to have one or two large meals a day, but they were created to eat small amounts over extended periods of time.  The head and neck (sinus’ included) were meant to be down grazing.

When we pull them from their natural environment, we cause changes to the natural order of things.

  1. We cause tendons and ligaments to lose the constant motion that keeps them fit.
  2. They are standing and stomping on unnatural footing which causes hoof and bone stress.  Not to mention if stalls aren’t kept clean, we have thrush problems.
  3. The air they breathe is cleaner outside, no ammonia from urine, or dust particles from bedding to cause irritation to air passages.
  4. Movement keeps arthritis at bay.
  5. Many horses stress at being closed in.  Gee, I wonder why more horses have ulcers?
  6. Some horses do not eat or drink as much if they are in a stall.
  7. They like to be out and hear the sounds of nature around them.  Not idle chatter or loud radios.
  8. They like to be in a herd.  It’s the way they were intended to live.  Not in solitary confinement.
  9. Attitudes improve when they’re allowed to be horses.  They run when they feel like it and get their bucks out without catapulting us into orbit.

Yes they do need trees or a lean-to to get out of the sun or rain, but it should be their choice.  Some times they just like to lay in the grass and work on their tan.

They’re living breathing animals, not cars that need to be garage kept.  Although in Florida people don’t keep their vehicles in garages.  Washing machines on the porch, but not cars in the garage.

Against their wishes I do bring them in when we are having a severe storm, or a bitter cold rain.  It’s just for a short while and they do forgive me when they are turned back out.  I don’t think they really care, but it makes me feel much better.

Not everyone can keep their horses at home and turned-out.  Some struggle to even keep them at a good boarding facility.  We do the best we can for our horses, if you have to keep them in, do right by them.  Feed smaller amounts more often.  Keep hay in front of them so they can “graze” all day.  Make sure stalls are kept clean, and dust free.  Mostly make sure they get enough exercise time, whether it be turned out or ridden.

A body in motion stays in motion.

I’m watching too much TV. 🙂




My Observations On How Horses Perseive Death

This is a very odd subject, but interesting.  I wrote this a while ago, but wasn’t ready to post it yet.  But after the post last week, I think I’m ready now.

We like to place our thought process and emotions on our animals, but what really happens in their minds.  Actually I’ve never asked an animal communicator to ask one of the horses, but I’ve witnessed a lot of horses crossing the Rainbow Bridge, and had the opportunity to watch their foals and pasture mates reactions.

I had a Thoroughbred pasture mate to my first horse.  He would stress so bad when I would take her out for the day.  He would run the fence line and scream the entire day that she was gone.  When it came time to put her down, at the young age of 36, I didn’t know what I was going to do with him.  We walked her away from the paddock and he started screaming, which he continued to do for about on half hour.  Then he stopped abruptly, and never called to her again.  He didn’t see us put her down, but he knew.  How???

Another horse I had, the vet couldn’t prove it, but he assumed the horse had cancer internally.  He was not the cuddly, in you pocket type horse, he was strictly business, but my husband and I loved him dearly.  We’d give him love, attention, and carrots and he’d be aloof, but when he thought we weren’t looking. he’d put his ears forward and watch us walk away.  He loved his job as a hunt horse, but when we found out that he probably had cancer, we stopped using him.  Within two weeks he just stopped eating.  If he couldn’t do his job, he was out-of-here.  The day came to put him down, the vet was schedule to come at 4:00 p.m., his wife was an animal communicator and had told Mac what was going to happen.  I bought a 5 lb. bag of carrots and went out to give it to him.  He was standing by the gate looking up the driveway, waiting, this is something he never did.  He took only one carrot from me.  When Bob got home I told him that Mac would only take one carrot and he said, oh he’ll take the carrots from me.  He went out and Mac just kept looking up the driveway and he only took one carrot from Bob.  The first needle was barely in his neck and he dropped dead.  He knew.  He was ready.

My soul mate Desert was showing signs of colic, but not the usual colic, this was different.  For three nights I slept in the barn with him, but he wouldn’t go in his stall, he went in Toy’s stall (Toy died the year before).  The last morning he wanted out of the stall before day light.  I made him wait since it was still dark, I wouldn’t be able to see him in the pasture.  He walked out to a pasture he wasn’t used to being kept in, went to where another horse Lad used to lay, he laid down in that spot, he laid there for only a minute or so and got up and walked out.   (We put Lad down the same time as Toy, Lad was also 36).  Then he asked to go out in the pasture with his usual friends Magic and Zoey.  I really didn’t want him to walk around that much but he was pawing at the gate.  I let him out, they were standing near the gate, he nosed with them, and walked across the pasture to the tree that he used to stand with Toy, Magic, and Zoey.  He stood there for a couple of minutes then came cantering back to the gate  looking and calling for me.  As he approached the gate I saw he was in distress, I ran out to him and he collapsed at my feet, he died in my arms.  He knew.  He wanted to visit all his favorite spots and his pasture mates, but he came back to me.  That was heart breaking in itself.

I’ve lost 18 horses in the last 50 years.  Mostly from old age.  They each have taught me about life, myself, but mostly about horses.

Magic was an Alfa mare, even to the end.  When we put Toy down she got down right ugly.  Ears back running around screaming at us.  She bucked, kicked,  just angry that we would take her soul mate.  She gathered up the rest of the horses and herded them up to the far corner of the pasture and wouldn’t let them come back.  Toys legs were so full of arthritis that he couldn’t walk to the feed bucket anymore.  We had an animal communicator come and speak with Toy before that day.  Toy said that our horse Shadow, who was killed by lightning years before, came to him and told him that if he came with her that he could run again.  Toy and Bob loved speed, he was an Appendix Quarter Horse race horse, then a ranch horse before becoming a hunt horse.   He wanted to be released from this old body and run like he used to.

When it was Magic’s turn to cross the Rainbow Bridge she was true to form.  She’d had bad stifles for years, but wouldn’t stop running.  After all, she was in charge and had to keep her eye on everything that went on around the farm.  Her hind end just gave way.  She couldn’t get up or move her hind quarters.  She would spin around on her butt and then collapse again.  I sat with her on the ground while we waited for the vet.  Zoey came over to nuzzled her muzzle, very softly, very lovingly.  Magic, the witch that she was, slowly picked her head up off the ground and bit Zoey in the nose.  Yup she was going out the way she lived.  She didn’t want sympathy.  She was going to be in charge to the end.

Another Mac, my boarders horse, was totally confused.  I brought him there to watch Lad leave this earth so that he would understand that his best friend was gone.  He kept going over to Lad, as his body lay on the ground, and smelling him.  Then he would look around and call for him.  Now Mac wasn’t always with the program so I didn’t think much of it at the time.  That is, not until we lost Maggie, the mama Clydesdale.  I knew this was going to be hard.  Bobby loved that horse and that horse loved Bobby.  Her baby Dawn was 12 years old by now, and they had been together since Dawnie was born.  Once again cancer was the cause.  Maggie was 25.  Bob, our neighbor Gary, who came over to give Bob support, Dawnie and I were there while our wonderful vet agreed that it was time.  She always believes that it’s really not time until she gets there and sees it for herself.  Bob was with Maggie, and Dawn was between me and Gary, tears running down our faces (not Dawnie, just us humans).  Dawnie was not on a lead line, she just stood there.  As Maggie was given the tranquilizer and went down, Dawnie walked over to her mother and put her nose on her.  Then she walked back to us.  Bobby was on the ground with our vet and the last injection went in.  With that Dawnie went back over and touched Maggie again.  This time she started screaming and running around looking for her.  She kept going over to the body and then run around.  She finally ran out of the pasture, through the barn screaming and ran up to the top pasture looking for her mom.

I asked our compassionate vet what was going on.  She said that Dawnie knew that her mom was gone, but she didn’t know where.  This said to me that the body isn’t as important as the spirit is to them.  The next day was a show and Dawnie was still looking for mom.  After that she stopped looking and just went on with life.  Over all the years, and all the horses I’ve had to let go, Maggie was the hardest because of Bob and Dawn.  Now Dawn just lost her boyfriend, and she did the same thing.  While we were working on him and gave him the tranquilizer she just stood there watching.  After we gave him the last injection, she waited a minute or so, and the same thing.  She started trotting back to the barn screaming for him.  I told the vet.  You don’t even have to check if he has died, Dawnie just said so, he was gone.  Even though it’s been weeks, she still longingly gazes up that hill hoping that he will return.

I guess in closing I can say that they know something about the death of the spirit, but mostly I can say that they accept it, and go on.

In my heart I know that God created these beautiful creatures, and I look forward to seeing them all again.  Young, sound, running with the wind, beautiful, majestic animals, with manes and tails flying.  No more pain, arthritis, or belly aches, just pure joy.

In Loving Memory of all my beautiful horses.

I will always love you, and miss you, until we meet again across that Rainbow Bridge.


How Long Is It Going To Hurt?

My neighbor just put down two of her horses.  Both older with many problems.  She’s hurting.  I’ve been there many times.

The question in your mind is always the same.  How long is it going to hurt this bad?  Can I really go out tomorrow morning and see their empty stall?

When I put my first horse down, I really believed that I couldn’t go to the barn in the morning to feed the others.  However, when I woke up the next morning I thought, this is the first day in years that Lady isn’t in pain.  I think it’s always hardest losing your first.  It’s the horse you always dreamed of owning.  It’s your best friend, your therapist, a shoulder to cry on, and now they’re gone.  Your life is altered forever.  That special nicker you would hear when you approached the barn, the bright eyes with ears pricked forward as you came within sight won’t be there tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that.  It leaves a big hole in your heart.  I know, I’ve buried 18.  Each one was special in a different way.  Shadow celebrated life everyday.  Desert could always make me smile with his silly ways.  I could go on, but you know what I mean.

So how do you go on?  Well just take it one day at a time.  Sure, for a while, every time you get to that day of the week that you lost them, it will all come flooding back.  They were a gift from God that you got to love, enjoy, and learn from for just a little while, then He takes them home.  They were always His anyway.  I truly believe that we will see them again in Heaven.  It doesn’t necessarily say that directly in the Bible, but there are many hints.  Jesus on a white horse and the saints who come riding back, is a good clue for a start.  I just can’t believe that a God who created these beautiful creatures, who knows every sparrow that falls, would not include them in Paradise.  If He created them to live in the Garden of Eden, I know that all our faithful animals will be there to greet us on the other side.  The morning of the day that I lost two, Bob had been watching the movie “Heaven Is For Real.”  It’s a movie about a little boy who died and went to heaven (true story).  The little boy told that he had seen Jesus and his horse.  That evening when I lost two, I remembered that God has sent me a note that morning telling me that they were with Him this day in Paradise, and that they were fine.  It was very sad, but comforting.

Let it be a comfort to you to know that these animals, whether it’s a horse, dog, or cat, bird or whatever, truly loved you.  That they gave you the most precious gift, their life, and you in turn gave them your love, and a happy home.

They are just waiting to see you again on he other side of that Rainbow Bridge.  I will be so happy, that I just won’t know who to hug first, but it will a great day.

Blessings and comfort to all of you who have lost a special animal, and they are All special.

It’s A Sticky Situation

Or not.

I often wonder how I, and every other horse person, missed inventing Velcro.  We’ve struggled for years trying to remove those little stickers from horses tails, but never thought of using the idea to work for the good.  We could have been very rich by now.

Hook and loop closures, more commonly known as Velcro are wonderful when they work, and frustrating when they don’t.  I hate when I have a piece of cellophane wrap, and it sticks to itself just fine, but won’t stick to the bowl that you want it to.  Hook and loop also can fall into that category.  You’ve put a leg wrap on, and you either see your horse walking along dragging this colored banner behind him, or you end up having to walk the pasture to find it before your kids or husband run it over with the mower, (of course you would never do that) thus leaving you to pick up a million little pieces that were once your favorite leg wrap.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.  When your Hook & Loop no longer want to stick to where it should, it’s quick to fix.  Those little hooks catch everything, much like our stickers, and it accumulates under the hooks.  All you need to do is clean them out occasionally.  My old blanket repair man used to use a steel brush to pull the little fibers out.  I use an old shedding blade.  You know the kind that had leather (or plastic) on each end and you could bend it around to itself.  One side you could use as a sweat scraper and the other side a shedding blade.  Or you could use a cat or dog brush (the kind with the needle like ends that puncture your fingers if you grab it wrong).  Just rake it down and all the little threads come off in a ball.

The bottom line is if you keep the hook side clean it will grip like the day you bought it.  No need to replace the Velcro or throw, what ever it’s attached to, out.

Simple.   You’re good to go now.

Hay! What’s The Deal?

There is nothing as wonderful as the smell of fresh-cut Timothy or Alfalfa hay.  When I was up north we would bring in a whole tractor trailer’s worth of hay, with the amount of horses I was keeping at my barn, it would last until the next years cutting.  I like second cutting the best.  First cutting was usually not cut on time because the field would be too wet to get into.  The local hay down here just doesn’t have that wonderful aroma.  It was always more cost-effective to buy large quantities.  We had a three story barn so we had plenty of room for 655 bales or more.

Down in Florida we do not have that kind of storage, and I wouldn’t want to.  The humidity makes it extremely difficult to store hay.  Unless you keep it in a room, that you can keep the door closed, regulate the temperature, and keep a dehumidifier on, you’re throwing your money away.  It may not be moldy, but the dust will kill you.  I have asthma, so it does a number on me.  And if it does a number on me, I’m not giving it to my horses.  I’ve seen horses with breathing problems, and you don’t want to deal with that.

My horses are on pasture all spring, summer, and fall, but I usually have about 15 bales left over.  It’s good to have on hand in case you get hit with storms where you want to keep your horses in the barn.  BUT it’s dusty!  Now the hay isn’t moldy, just dusty.  So what is one to do?  Well if I’m feeding it outside for any reason, I shake the dickens out of it (with a mask on of course), but if I’m in the barn, I’ll either soak it for a while or spread it out and hose it down.  The horses don’t mind that it’s wet, some of them like to dunk their hay in the water while they are eating it anyway.

This is not just a southern problem.  When I had left over hay up north, before my delivery of new hay, I would do the same thing.  It doesn’t take that long and it’s so much better for the horses bronchial tubes and lungs.

Don’t forget, as you work your way through that bale, to look for mold.  That should go without saying no matter what time of year it is.  If a bale of hay isn’t cured right, there are many possibilities.  Or you could have had a leak in the roof that you weren’t aware of.  If it’s wet in the middle when it’s baled, it cannot only mold, but can burst into flames and burn down your whole barn.  You can check this by forcing your hand down into the middle of the bale.  See if it’s wet, or hot.  You can break the bale open and let it dry and let the heat out before it molds.  Same thing if your hay gets rained on.  Open it up and let it dry out.  Even though I trust my hay men, now and in the past, I still always keep close watch on what’s going on with my hay.  I lived in New Jersey, but my hay either came from Pennsylvania or Canada.  If he would hit a rain storm on the way down, he would cover the hay with a tarp.  This would trap the heat and moisture in.  He would always warn me that he had done that.  He would also make good for any hay that was not to my liking.  I was also instructed at a very early age how to stack hay, so that it could breath.  You never stacked your bales with the strings up, always the cut ends up.

These are a lot of words just to say “Watch Your Hay.”  But be mindful, and remember, a belly ache can kill.  It’s just not worth it.