In this issue of The Green Horse
- Message from Alayne: License to Walk
- Smart Horsekeeping on TheHorse.com
- Emergency and Winter Preparedness
- TGH Reader Question Answered
- My Horse University
- Help Support HCW Programs
- Educational Events
Message from Alayne: License to Walk
Do you remember when you got your very first bicycle? If you were like me, it was at Christmas from Santa. Getting a bike in December in Chicagoland meant waiting months until the snow melted and sidewalks were clear enough so I could learn how to ride. Almost every day I would visit my bike in the basement, waiting for spring. I would feel the smooth silver and blue fenders, calculate the height of the bike seat and wonder how I’d ever mange to steer and peddle at the same time. I still recall that glorious spring day when, even with mounds of decaying snow in the yard, the sidewalk across the street was completely clear and dry. With a gentle push from my father and a death-defying grip on the handlebars, the crisp wind stung my face as I sailed down the little hill. It was a glorious feeling of power, independence and freedom.
I am experiencing something a little like that right now: I am awaiting a license to walk with my new anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, in my right knee. And I just can’t wait to try it out! For those of you who’ve experienced knee injuries, you know that it is a excruciatingly long, mind-numbing progress towards a full recovery–three to six months.
What happened was my first major horse-related injury, although for me it was probably an accident waiting to happen. For about the past 30 years I’ve been nursing an old knee injury, never dreaming something bigger was brewing. About a month ago I was riding a young colt of mine using someone else’s saddle. While riding I noticed the saddle was loose so I made a mental note to hop off when I dismounted versus using the stirrups which might pull the saddle to the side. I did just that, but landing from that jump was all the excuse my right knee needed to self-destruct, tearing ligaments and both meniscus. Yes, it was an incredibly huge “OUCH!”
A month later I am post-surgery and working my way through three months of “stall rest,” trying to not go crazy with the inactivity and sympathizing with many of my horses that have had injuries requiring months of stall rest (some up to six months or more). I am keeping busy making plans for Horses for Clean Water programs for 2011, as well as plans for Sweet Pepper Ranch here at our new place in southern Idaho where we are building a new guest barn for our horse motel/guest ranch. Our new barn that we’re building at Sweet Pepper Ranch will be for boarders as well as guest horses.
While I wait and plan for my new, exhilarating license to walk and I hope you, too, will make plans to join HCW or come for a Cowgirl Getaway at Sweet Pepper Ranch. Stay tuned!
Now Available: HCW DVDs
Here at HCW we’ve been working hard to come up with the best ways to help you have horsekeeping success. We recently worked on a few short DVD presentations and they are now becoming available for purchase through Amazon and CreateSpace.
The first DVD is Manure Management on Horse Properties. Purchase this 11 minute video from Amazon or CreateSpace via the links here:
Purchase via CreateSpace
Purchase via Amazon
The second DVD is Mud Management on Horse Properties. Purchase this 11 minute video from Amazon or CreateSpace via the links here:
Purchase via CreateSpace
Purchase via Amazon
We will post announcements as the other DVDs are released.
Smart Horsekeeping on TheHorse.com
Check out Alayne’s NEW weekly blog over on TheHorse.com.
Tired of seeing your horse eating in mud? Or wasting hay that gets buried in filth? Here’s any easy, low-cost way to build a chore efficient feeder. Matt and I built three, one for each horse in our group pen where we are temporarily housing horses while building permanent facilities for them.
Did You Know?
That, according to the American Horse Council, the United States horse industry is a $39 billion business annually with 9.2 million horses in the country!
Emergency and Winter Preparedness
by Alayne Blickle>
No matter where you live in North America, you may have been hearing that long range weather forecasts are calling for some pretty bad weather for many parts of the country. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports sea surface temperatures along the equator have decreased dramatically, setting us up for a strong La Nina in the season ahead. Generally speaking La Nina, an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon, brings wetter, cooler weather for upper North America and drier conditions for the southern United States.
The worst of La Nina’s cold and snow is slated for the Pacific Northwest, the northern Plains and western Great Lakes regions. Cities like Portland and Seattle that escaped last year with a very nice winter should expect a much colder, snowier winter. Areas around Fargo, Minneapolis and Milwaukee should also receive above-normal winter snowfalls.
Other parts of the county predicted to receive above-normal winter snowfall include Chicago, Omaha, Detroit and Cleveland. Forecasts call for severe cold in Alaska and western and central Canada. The Central Rockies are expected to experience greater-than-normal swings between winter’s coldest and warmest days as a result of conflicting warm and cold air masses.
The dry area will be the southern half of the United States, from east to west, which is expected to receive less rainfall than average contributing to continued drought conditions for those areas. The East Coast and North east should get average precipitation and weather. And the best weather in North America this winter will be in Florida, which could help beach resorts recover from the economic downturn associated with the oil spill.
So what does this mean to you as a horse owner?
Depending on where you live it may mean that it’s time to consider your emergency and winter storm preparedness. Here are a few points to review with household or farm/ranch members:
- Do you have a flashlight for the house and barn hanging in easy access locations? Are extra batteries on hand? These are cheap to buy in large qualities from warehouse-type stores. Get them now before storm warnings send everyone to the store.
- How about fuel for generators, cook stoves and lanterns? Assess what equipment you have or need and get fuel tanks filled.
- Battery-powered headlamps that free up your hands are excellent equipment to have on hand if the electricity goes out. These can be purchased at camping stores or through catalogues. Store them in an easily accessible area, like near doorways.
- A battery-powered radio as well as a weather radio is very useful during storms and power outages.
- A car cell phone charger is extremely important. When power outages and phone service go out we depend on cell phones and one with a dead battery is no help at all.
- Develop a back-up plan for watering your horses before you lose power to your private well. Water can be stored in rain barrels or garbage cans. Emergency officials generally recommend having a three day supply of water on hand. That would be a minimum of 30 gallons of water per horse. Access to a creek or lake may work as your back-up watering source. Train your horses to drink from these areas so they are familiar with them before hand.
- Set up a water supply that won’t freeze or get icy cold. Horses prefer water temperatures of about 45-65 degrees and tend to drink less when water is cold. A decrease in water consumption can lead to colic so make an effort to ensure your horses are drinking an adequate amount. It is important to realize that horses cannot get enough moisture by eating snow. On very cold days either break and remove ice in the morning and again in the evening or consider getting a stock tank heater or heated stall buckets. Plan ahead and have this equipment on hand before the snow flies. Another reminder: older horses or those with dental problems may not be able to drink very cold water and may require additional warming of their water. In these cases you can warm their stall buckets with some hot water from your teakettle.
- Consider insulating pipes and faucets with heat tape or other insulation materials. Check with your local hardware store for recommendations.
- Check your blankets for rips or other needed mending or washing if you plan to blanket your horse this winter. If they are dirty send them out now for cleaning before that first cold front moves through.
- Consider your own clothing needs—for riding, daily chores and farm work. Nothing is worse than taking care of your horse in the freezing cold when you are wet from head to toe and chilled to the bone. Do you need a good waterproof jacket? Mud boots? Insulated riding boots? Insulated, waterproof gloves? A warm coat? Maybe this is the year to invest in some of the high-tech cold or rainy weather gear featured at outdoor clothing stores. Think about layering—a vest with a barn coat and a waterproof shell along with proper gloves and outdoor boots works well.
- What about snow removal equipment? Is it needed for your area? If so, do you have what you need? Is what you have in need any repairs? It’s much easier to get those kinds of things in order now then when those first snowflakes fly.
TGH Reader Question Answered
I’m looking at mulching my vegetable garden beds in the late fall. What do you recommend on using horse stall bedding (straw or shavings), especially on edible crops since I’ll be growing some over-wintering varieties.
Olivia in Washington
Horse manure and stall waste make a good mulch for overwintering a veggie garden, particularly if you don’t plan to use it for six months or so. I’ve used this technique in the past. I recommend using mostly manure and not too much bedding—too much bedding ( i.e. carbon), will take nitrogen from the soil as it breaks down. If you use cedar bedding, then I would avoid including any bedding at all—cedar is naturally resistant to decomposition and will be extremely slow to break down. Grass hay and straw also make a good mulch, but sometimes these materials have an herbicide on them that affects broadleaf vegetation, so you may want to avoid using them. Alfalfa hay is fine and composted horse manure will work as well.
If you plan to plant in the garden over the winter (e.g., garlic, kale or other winter-hardy crops) use already composted horse manure. This is the common recommendation to avoid exposure to any pathogens (which is actually very rare in horse manure).
One last thought: It would be wise to make sure that horses haven’t been dewormed in the last couple weeks. Active dewormer can pass through the horse and can take up to two weeks to break down in the soil.
My Horse University
Check it out for free resource information!
My Horse University (MHU) is a national online horse management program for horse enthusiasts based at Michigan State University (MSU), a pioneer land-grant university with nationally-ranked programs in equine science and management. Founded in 2005, MHU is a partnership between MSU Extension, the MSU Department of Animal Science and MSU Global.
My Horse University’s network of experts includes over 30 equine extension specialists, university veterinarians, and equine professionals who bring research and practical knowledge to our online courses and products. MHU’s courses provide a comprehensive and convenient learning experience for horse enthusiasts throughout the world.
Through a partnership with eXtension HorseQuest, a network of more than 70 land grant universities, MHU offers free monthly webcasts to horse owners and enthusiasts and distributes a monthly newsletter to more than 5000 subscribers.
Our goals are to educate horse owners and horse enthusiasts through science-based information and provide educational resources that promote better horse care, environmental stewardship and recreation. Some topics covered include:
- Farm management
- Selection and Evaluation
- Environmentally-friendly practices
MHU also has been a partner of Equine Network (publishers of Equus, Practical Horseman, Horse and Rider, Dressage Today) since 2007. Through this partnership, we have developed four online courses in the Breeding and Selection series, an online Trail Riding 101 short course, and a Horse Behavior Webcast Series.
MHU offers free webcasts. An upcoming one that might be of particular interest to HCW audiences:
Offered by: My Horse University and eXtension HorseQuest
Webcast title: How Green is Your Farm?
Date: December 14, 2010, 7PM EST
Speaker: Dr. Ann Swinker, Penn State University
Details and to register
Other past environmentally friendly topics include:
Horse Manure: A Renewable Resource
Introduction to Environmentally Friendly Horse Management
Help Support HCW Programs
This coming Holiday Season you can support Horses for Clean Water and green horsekeeping practices and get your shopping done in a number of ways:
- Purchase HCW products and clothing items from our own HCW CaféPress Store.
It’ Easy Being Green
Silver Wall Clock
Horses get great
HCW Logo Women’
- Purchase products from any one of the affiliate links on the HCW site. By clicking on one of the links, HCW earns a small percentage of the purchase price. Every little bit adds up.
- Purchase a gift certificate for a family member or friend for an HCW consultation. Find great ways to make your place chore efficient and environmentally sensitive. Consultations can be done in person (subject to location/time) or via the internet and phone. Contact Alayne for more details or click here to see what’s in a consultation.
- Purchase a gift certificate for a family member or friend for Alayne Blickle’s NEW Cowgirl Getaway Weekend! Join Alayne and her husband Matt at Sweet Pepper Ranch, their new southern Idaho retreat, for three or four days of horse’n around and pampering. Check with Alayne for dates and more details.
Please visit the Events section for the most current listings.