Monthly Archives: June 2017

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Just a friendly Public Service Reminder.  It’s Summer!!  Yay!!

I was speaking with my neighbor the other day.  I told her, as usual, one of my horses is sweating like crazy and one of them wasn’t.  The usual reply is – well the other one isn’t bothered by the heat as much, or one stands under the tree more.  No, I said, she shut down.

Red flag district.  No, the one that isn’t sweating has flaring nostrils, and is breathing hard.  She hadn’t been running or stressing about anything.  She was NOT sweating.  She does this to me every summer.  I’d like to believe that she just handles the hotter weather better, but I’d be fooling myself and hurting her in the process.  She normally doesn’t do this until late July or August.

When you have two out of three that are soaking wet and one that isn’t, it’s a good indication something is wrong.

This seems to be more of a problem here in the south.  I don’t remember ever having this situation when I lived up north, but it can happen, you must stay aware.  If you are at a horse show, even up north, pay attention.  Listen to your horse.  Get him cooled down as fast as possible.  They can, and will die.

Don’t forget – When the humidity is higher than the temperature, they can’t cool themselves.  I seem to say this every summer.

A horse that is overheated may not be drinking water as he should.  Adding a little table salt to the diet will encourage them to drink more.  Adding electrolytes to their water and food won’t work if they are not eating or drinking.  Keep a tube on hand, just in case.

Don’t forget the suntan lotion for yourselves and your horses.  A pink nose on a horse will burn.  Full length fly masks work wonders.

Broken record signing off for now, but over the winter, we forget.  Also when you don’t face heat and humidity like we do in Florida, you just don’t think about it.  Stay alert.


Remembering The Things You Didn’t Realize You Forgot

So my friend is building a barn on her property.  She’s so excited, I’m kind of sad.  I enjoy her company at my barn.  I look forward to the days she is here.  But I am also happy for her.  She thought her horse days were over, she was too sore, and too old (she’s younger than I am).  I showed her that they weren’t over, they had just changed a little.  It gave her life and something to look forward too.  Removed a lot of pent-up stress and replaced it with happiness.

Now our conversations have turned to planning her barn.  She grew up on a ranch in Montana, but her father was in charge of the horses back then.  She had a barn at home when she lived in Pennsylvania, but only for a very short time.  Northern care is different from southern care.  We talked about proper positioning of the barn to get the most from the East/West breeze, and to protect from the Southern sun and Northern winter winds.  We talked about the benefits of a center aisle barn as opposed to a shed row.  We also talked about different hay and grains.  About the best time to buy from the fields and proper storage.  Knowing and trusting the people you purchase from.  How the hay is cured, how to stack it.  I was telling her about spontaneous combustion with poorly cured hay up north.  How barns would catch on fire.  To slide your hand into a bale of hay and make sure it wasn’t wet where it would mold or too hot where it will catch on fire.  To stack it with the bale cord on the sides so it can breath.  To allow air to circulate under and around the bales.  To sweep all the old hay out so any mold spores that were there, will not contaminate the new hay.  It’s funny, the local hay down here doesn’t mold as fast as the Timothy and Alfalfa up north.  I think it’s because of the moisture content in northern hay.  Smell it, and when you open the bale check it out.  Make sure there is no mold.  We have a habit of just taking a few leafs (flakes) and tossing it to our horses without really looking at it.  Horses that are well fed will not eat moldy hay, but horses that are really hungry will, and they will colic.  If it’s a little dry and dusty, either shake it out or wet it down.

Choosing the right grain company is very important to me.  I want fresh grain.  Make sure you dealer moves his grain.  I’ve been in feed stores that grain has been sitting there since the stone age.   I don’t want grain that can be contaminated by cow antibiotics.  There are so many “designer” grains now.  I prefer to add what each horse needs, if and when they need it.  I don’t just want to give something across the board.  Why should I pay extra from something that all the horses don’t need.  I don’t mind playing mad scientist with supplements if it’s going to help a certain horse.  but just to give it to everyone because it’s easier, bothers me.

Barn layout is optional, but work smart, not hard.  The easier we make life for ourselves, the more quality time we can spend with our horses.

With every barn I’ve had, it had different needs.  With every horse I’ve had, it had different needs.  One size doesn’t fit all.   It’s up to Cinderella to try on that glass slipper, and walk away with that prince.  Oh, and most things aren’t cast in stone, you can make adjustments.

I’m going to need a barn warming present, what shall that be?

In loving memory to my hay man Jerry Anderson.

Support Your Local Sheriff

That was a movie from the 60’s with James Garner.  He still brings a smile to my face.  I loved his movies all the way to the “Notebook.”

My writing today is about support.  Now I have belonged to many clubs and organizations over the years, and the one thing they all had in common was politics, and ego.  I hate that!  I’m talking from the large breed organizations to the small local clubs.  You just can’t get away from it.  What starts out to be a good idea, with great expectations, turns out to be a “he said, she said” it’s all about me deal.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.    BUT sometimes it’s necessary to pull together to stand up to the big guns.

I have lived with my horses in many towns, counties, and states.  It’s always the same. People want to live in the country and then when they get there they want what makes it the country gone.

In Staten Island, New York we had 4,000 horses at one time.  You could ride your horse absolutely anywhere.  Tie up to a tree or telephone pole and go in and have lunch, pick up stuff at the store, or go to the Post Office. Technically barns weren’t supposed to be there within the”City Limits”, but many people had them in their backyards.  No one used to enforce the laws, it was country living in its finist.  Small towns and communities were everywhere.  We just rode down streets and waved to the neighbors as we went.  It’s just the way it always was.  Then “The Bridge” (Verrizano) was built.  It made a beautiful backdrop in the movie “Saturday Night Fever”, but it was the end of Staten Island.  Instead of riding the ferry to Staten Island from Brooklyn or New York City you could drive.  It opened up a whole new suburbia right there, a short distance from N.Y.C. Totally destroyed the bucolic beauty of the Island.  Inch by inch horses were pushed out. Everyone, who had horses, moved to New Jersey.  Just a handful of horses remain today.

Those of us, which were many, who cared back then, decided we had to do something to save some areas for riding.  The trails through the woods we once rode were being threatened.  We were told that horses were eroding the land and bothering the flora and fauna.  Those trails had been used for 100’s of years and everything was still flourishing.  The horses did absolutely no damage.  If anything the manure helped the flora and fauna.  It’s all natural.  So the horse people banded together with other groups to save the area.  When all was said and done, the other groups got access and the horse people were restricted to riding around the outside of the “park.”  Seriously?!  We were there first.  Those others didn’t even know that land existed.

I watched it happen in Staten Island, and then again in N.J.  Once again we banded together to fight to keep horses in the area.  Some townships loved the idea and actually required people to leave easements for horse trails, others turned their heads away and didn’t even acknowledge there was a problem or people who cared.

So now I’m here in Florida watching It happen all over again.  This is getting very old.  All the ranches that we Fox Hunted on are being sold off to developers.  Soon there will be housing developments, along with their own schools and shopping centers, where cattle once grazed.  Fox, Bobcats and many other local wildlife will be pushed from their homes.  Concrete and street lights will be the norm.  Gone will be the Cypress banks, flowing streams, pine trees and Sandhill Cranes.  Six lanes of traffic will replace dirt paths that were once used by man and beast for centuries.

The sad thing is that most people don’t care.  As bad as the clubs and organizations may be, that is the only hope of holding back the onslaught of progress.  “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” must remain the battle cry.  Together we have a voice, alone we are ignored.  It’s the old “The Squeaky Wheel Get’s The Grease.”

So as much as you may want to stay out of the politics of each organization, you have to get involved.  You don’t have to become sucked into the politics, but you do have to be part of the number who wants to keep horses in your particular area.  Find a local group who is attached to a state and national chapter, and join.  You need to financially support them with your membership, but you don’t have to play the ego game.

Stand up and be counted for the right to have horses in your area.  To keep the trails you have enjoyed over the years.  Or someday we might be like the Ringling Bros. Circus, just a faded memory in some old persons mind.

It’s Summer Time!!!!!!

I love summer, that’s why I live in Florida.  Even with all its bugs, and heat, I still love it.  Actually I use less fly spray here than I did up north.

Think of all the fun stuff you can do.  Go trail riding and get bit by every bug in the area, but it’s a good excuse to gallop to out run them. Take your horse swimming, and watch the manure balls float toward England, when you live up north, or Africa when you live down south.  Bathe your horse and get wetter than he is.  If you don’t have a pool, you can always sit in the water trough.

When we were kids, it never failed, someone would throw someone into the water trough.  If they were kind, someone would empty your pockets and remove your watch before the dunking. However you’d have to lay on your back, on the ground, to get the water out of your high boots.  Now if you were really lucky, it would end there.  However, the kids at my barn never let it go at that.  They would roll you in the manure pile, dump hay from the loft on you, or perhaps lime.  You were quite a sight riding home on public transportation looking and smelling like that.

We’d put hay out in the fields for horses using a small dump truck.  Everyone was covered, and itchy, with hay.  Sometimes people just happened to fall out of the back while in transit, but when it was empty was the most fun.  Bill would lift the dump body and we would hold onto the front.  He would then drive under low branches to see who would let go.  Funny, no one ever did.  It’s really hard explaining that to your parents.

Sitting on the porch watching the sunset, then going out after dark and jumping on our horses, bareback, maybe a halter if you were lucky.  Oh no lead lines of course.  We’d run around in the dark trying not to hit trees.

Now I sit on the porch or at the barn and watch the sunset.  Sometimes on the mounting block with my horse next to me, and I’ll dream about being young and stupid again.  If given the chance to do it again, I think I would.  Well maybe not hanging from the front of the dump truck, but the rest of it.  I wouldn’t trade any of those memories for all the tea in China.

It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, create memories with your horses and friends. Some day that will be what puts a smile on your face.  Bug bites and all.

It’s summer, let the games begin!