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Blog

Providing winning solutions for horse management and the environment since 1997

Message from Alayne: Harnessing the Power of the Sun

Alayne Blickle

Solar powered. That’s me—figuratively and now literally.  I love the sun and I love being outdoors. And now Sweet Pepper Ranch is solar powered, too. We are harnessing the power of the sun and putting it to work. Last month we had solar panels installed which will generate 100% of our electrical usage averaged over a year. We hope to recoup the cost of our solar panels in 10 years or less, and they increase the value of our property as well.

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Sustainable Horse Keeping Reduces Environmental Impacts

Alayne Blickle

As horse owners, we need to consider the impacts we have on our neighbors and the environment. By increasing our awareness of how we impact the environment and taking steps to minimize that impact, we can help preserve the equestrian way of life that we enjoy. The good news is that what’s good for the environment is also good for you, your horses, your farm or ranch, and your neighborhood.

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We're Headed East!

Alayne Blickle

We are excited to announce that this fall, Alayne will be presenting at the Best Horse Practices summit in New Glouchester, ME. This two-day summit will bring together educators, researchers, horse owners, and working, professional, and recreational riders for presentations on best practices related to horse care, handling, management, training, and riding.

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Spring Pasture Tips: Let The Grazing Begin!

Alayne Blickle

Your neighbors enjoy their view of your place: horses frolicking on green fields and eating healthy forage from the pasture grass swaying in the breeze. You’re pleased too, because you know your pocketbook is benefiting from reduced hay bills. The environment is happy; abundant pasture plants are putting the nutrients from horse manure to good use, nutrients that might otherwise wash off your property and possibly cause contamination issues.

That’s your farm, right? Or, does your pasture resemble a weedy confinement area, one that turns into mud from the lightest rain?

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Message from Alayne: Overcoming Winter Woes with Environmentally Friendly Horse Keeping

Alayne Blickle

We can get through these wintry times with grace and chore efficiency by implementing a few simple techniques, such as having an assortment of the right tools for manure management and installing proper gutters and downspouts. Not only do making these changes benefit horse health and make our chores smoother, but they also allow us to be good stewards of the land.

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Dreaming of Flowers, Birds, and Native Pollinators?

Alayne Blickle

Enhancing the horse property landscape with native plants promotes native wildlife, helps to control erosion, provides a visual buffer, and filters pesticides, fertilizers, and nutrients. Native plants are extremely adaptable and there is a diverse palette of natives to choose from—no matter where you live! Here are some ideas for how native plants can enhance your property and work for you.

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 Message from Alayne: An Attitude of Gratitude (Plus, How to Help Furloughed Government Workers)

Alayne Blickle

A day or two ago at dusk, I was winding up taking care of horse chores. My fingers and toes were so cold I couldn’t feel them any longer, but I still had a chore or two before I could head inside. As I started to feel sorry for myself, I noticed the beauty of the setting sun’s golden rays reflecting on our indoor arena and the trail obstacles, and I remembered how much I had to be deeply grateful for.

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Tip of the Month: Pee Spots and Mud Management in Paddocks

Alayne Blickle

Recently, we have tried different options to deal with areas in one particular paddock that have gotten really soupy. We’ve used all the usual techniques for dealing with mud: daily manure management, gravel footing, diverting rainwater, etc. Yet the soupy messes remained. 

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Climate Change and Horse Keeping: We Can Each Do Our Part

Alayne Blickle

These days, I think climate change is on everyone’s minds, but we’re often afraid to speak about it and unsure of how to address such a daunting concern. However, we can’t expect government or someone else to address or solve the issues for us. We each need to do what we can right now.

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Gates Make for Better Chore Efficiency

Alayne Blickle

Gates are a farm or ranch girl’s analogy for options. When you live on a horse property you almost can’t have too many gates, as they end up making so many things in horse property management that much simpler. When I am on the road doing consultations, one of the first assessments I make is to look at gates. Here are some of my basic considerations for gate access on any horse property:

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Free-Roaming Annie

Alayne Blickle

This past June was the day when Annie laid down for a nap on our front lawn and couldn’t get up; her arthritic thirty-five-year-old front knees were spent, but it was the look in her eyes that told me she was done. Until that moment, her eyes had held a bright light, full of fun, interest, even a little mischief at times. But now that light was gone, and I knew my job as her best friend and advocate was to lovingly say good-bye. 

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Prepare Now for a Chore Efficient Winter  

Alayne Blickle

For a horse person it’s hard to get excited about winter unless you are ready and set up for a chore-efficient season for you and your horse. As it is with almost everything, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are a few key tips for things you can do now to help ease you through those tough times ahead when you least want to deal with winter’s little (and big) surprises. 

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Summertime Fun

Alayne Blickle

Horses for Clean Water has many wonderful educational opportunities available throughout the Pacific Northwest this summer and fall. I hope you’ll plan to come join in on the fun, learning, and horse’n around! 

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Wild Horse Country: The History, Myth, and Future of the Mustang - A Book Review by Alayne Blickle

Alayne Blickle

Wild Horse Country: The History, Myth, and Future of the Mustang by David Philipps is extremely well-written and researched. Philipps carefully traces the evolution, history, and culture that created wild horses in North America and digs through all aspects of the current wild horse management program. It is a fantastic book that should be required reading by all horse owners, especially Mustang aficionados.

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Use Swallows (and Bluebirds!) for Insect Control

Alayne Blickle

As horse owners, we often wrongly believe we are destined to put up with flies, insects, and rodent infestations. Other times, we become so frustrated with the situation that we resort to chemical warfare, potentially adding unnecessary and harmful toxins to the environment. Encouraging insect-eating birds to move into horse areas is an excellent low-tech, cost-effective, and eco-friendly method for pest control—one our grandparents probably utilized on their farms. 

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Message from the Editor: The Girl on The Horse

Jessica Friedman

One of the things I love most about horses is the way they act as a mediator between us and the world around us. They teach us about connecting with creatures that don't speak the same language as us. They help us learn patience and compassion. They become our willing partners in exploring beautiful places, and through it all, they show us a better way to see the natural world.

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All About Arenas

Alayne Blickle

This month I am thinking about arenas—and for more than one reason. It’s been a year since ours has been completed, although there’s always more to work on before it feels “really” finished. For now, I couldn't be happier with it.  Perhaps you are also interested in an arena? If so, Horses for Clean Water has a class for you! Next month, we will be teaching a workshop in King County, Washington on how to build an indoor riding arena.

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