Presidential Horses – George Washington

With the recent Presidents’ Day holiday and the popularity of “Hamilton”,  we thought it was time that the horse(s) of these historical heroes were honored as well.

George Washington BlueskinBlueskin was a gray horse (gone white later in life) ridden by George Washington and was one of Washington’s two primary mounts during the American Revolutionary War. The horse was a half-Arabian, sired by the stallion Ranger (also known as “Lindsay’s Arabian) and was said to have been obtained from the Sultan of Morocco.  Due to his then white coat, Blueskin was the horse most often portrayed in artwork depicting Washington on a horse.

George Washington NelsosnHowever, Washington’s  primary riding horse was Nelson, a chestnut gelding.  Thomas Nelson of Virginia sent the horse to General Washington in New York as a gift. Washington named the horse for his generous friend.  Better in the chaos of war time than Bluestone, it was Nelson who is said to have carried the General almost always during the American Revolution. Described as a “splendid charger,” the animal stood sixteen hands high, and was a light sorrel or chestnut (reddish-brown) in color, with white face and legs.

Both horses were retired after the Revolutionary War and  lived out their lives at Washington’s Mount Vernon home.

Thomas Jefferson once commented that George Washington was “the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback.

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Reducing Wasted Hay

horse eating hay truckChances are that your hay bill is one of your highest bills in caring for your horse. The last thing that anyone wants to do is to waste hay, especially when the cost of hay is so high. Luckily for you, we’ve got some great tips to minimize hay wastage in your barn.

Store Hay Correctly

Did you know that before you even feed hay, you may be wasting it? Storing hay properly in your hay loft is important to preventing mold or wastage. Your hay should always be placed up on pallets to keep it directly off of the floor. As you stack hay, alternate the orientation of the hay on each level to promote air circulation.

Additionally, make sure that you inspect each hay delivery before accepting it. Break open a few bales of hay and inspect the quality throughout the entire bale. Look for mold or darkened spots toward the center of the bale. If you find that the hay is poor quality, it is better to discover this before loading the entire delivery so that you can still easily send it back.

Use Hay Nets or Hay Feeders

Much of the hay that you feed in your horse’s stall may be wasted when it is trampled down into the bedding. To reduce the amount that this happens, use hay nets or corner feeders in your horse’s stall. The net or feeder holds the hay up off of the ground, requiring that the horse pull just a bit at a time out. This lessens the amount of hay that falls, uneaten, onto the floor, and it reduces your stall cleaning time as well.

Use Hay Nets or Bags in Pastures

Pastures are another area where hay wastage occurs. You may opt to use hay nets or hay bags in your pastures. If you are feeding round bales in the pasture, consider using a round bale feeder. Remember that the bale needs to be protected from the rain, so a specially designed hay feeder may be well worth the cost when it comes to keeping the hay protected and in edible condition.

Feed Only What Your Horse Will Eat

hay-bales

While it’s healthy for your horse to always have access to hay, remember to adjust your feedings so that you are only giving your horse about as much hay as he will eat. Overfeeding your horse will only result in uneaten hay, so adjust your feedings to how much hay your horse actually consumes.

Hay is a precious commodity in the horse world, and isn’t one that you will want to waste.  Try these tips to keep your horses happily in hay all year.

Keeping Multiple Horses Fit

multiple horses in pasture MOUNTAINVIEWSTOCKToo many horses?  Too little time?  While we’re firm believers in the fact that you can never have too many horses, keeping multiple horses fit at the same time can be a challenge. We’ve come up with some great tips to help you save time while keeping your horses conditioned and exercised.

Turn Horses Out in Large Pastures

Don’t forget that you can rely on large pastures to keep your horses moving about naturally. The more acreage that you can provide your horses with, the better. By locating your horse’s feed in various areas throughout his pasture, and by turning horses out together in herds, you can encourage them to move about naturally.

Pony a Horse

Want to kill two birds with one stone? Consider ponying a horse while riding another. Ponying a horse is an effective way to put mileage on two horses when you only have the time to ride one. Ponying is great for working younger horses not yet started under saddle, but it’s also a good way to bring an older horse back into work or into an improved condition.

When ponying a horse, start in an arena and ride a horse who you have ponied off of before. Remember to stay safe and take things slow until both horses are accustomed to the process.

Lease Out a Horse

If you’re truly having a hard time keeping all of your horses exercised, then consider leasing out one of your horses. Leasing a horse out, either for a partial or full lease, will take much of the responsibility for that horse’s conditioning off of your plate. Leasing out a horse can be a big timesaver, and you can even bring in some extra income from the lease.

Enlist a Working Student

If you have many horses to be ridden, and much work to be done around the barn, then enlisting the help of a working student may be an ideal situation for you. The caveat: Working students generally are paid low wages, if they receive any at all. Because of this, you should be able to provide the working student with quality instruction and rides on good horses to make the position worthwhile. If this won’t work for you, then consider paying someone to come ride your horses or offering up free rides to quality riders.

Photo credit: Mountain View Stock

Getting Through The Rest of Winter

As the cold weather drags on, it tends to feel like the end of winter is nowhere in sight. Luckily, we’ve come up with some fun activities for you to help beat the winter riding (or non-riding) blues.

horse watching movies HORSENATIONHost a Barn Movie Night

Bring together students, boarders, trainers, and everyone else in your barn for a barn movie night. Choose a horse-themed video to watch – clinic DVDs work great, but so do favorite horse movies like Secretariat and Seabiscuit – and make the night into a mini-party. Have attendees bring cozy blankets and pillows, as well as snacks, and settle into the heated lounge for a fun night of movie watching.

Bring in a Clinician

To change up the pace a little, have a clinician come to your barn for a day or for a weekend. Riders can participate in the clinic with their horses, and you can also open the clinic up to auditing by the public to bring in some income from the event. For an extra-fun challenge, bring in a clinician to work on a discipline or activity that your horses traditionally don’t participate in, like equine agility or Western dressage.

Audit a Clinic

If hosting a clinic at your own farm isn’t practical, you can always travel elsewhere to audit a clinic. Get your friends involved and make a day of it. Auditing a clinic is a great way to determine whether you would like to ride in a clinic with the clinician in the future, and you can learn a lot without having to pay the full clinic price.

Plan a Tack Sale

Spring really will be here before you know it, and what better way is there to kick the season off than with a tack sale? Start planning a barn tack sale, and invite riders from other barns to bring their own tack and participate in the fun. Holding a tack sale gives you the perfect opportunity to clean out and organize your tack room, as well as to find the riding supplies you really need at a good price.

Volunteer at a Horse Rescue

Horse rescues are often in need of volunteers, so if you have some free time during the winter because you’re not riding as often, look into volunteering at a local horse rescue. Volunteers can often help rescues in a number of ways, from caring for and grooming horses to performing more office-related tasks.

Take a Course in a New Horse-Related Skill

The winter is the perfect time to learn a new horse-related skill, such as massage or liberty training. Look for horse-related courses available and get some friends to enroll with you.

These activities should help you get through the rest of winter, and don’t fear – spring will be here soon!

photo credit:  HorseNation

Should You Use Music In Your Barn?

CARTOONRadios are common in many barns, and some barns even play music in riding arenas during rides. But does playing music actually benefit your horse? You’ll find differing opinions, but here are some factors to consider when making up your own mind.

Calming Nervous Horses

It is common belief that having background music can help to calm and soothe nervous horses while in their stalls. On racetracks, grooms whistle and sing to their horses as they care for them. You will often find barn radios playing softly, even when horses are left alone in the barn. Many horses seem to enjoy the music, as long as the setup is designed with a horse’s natural habits in mind.

If you want to play a radio in your barn, remember that horses are naturally sensitive animals. They have excellent hearing, and their hearing is a sense that they would use for self-preservation in the wild. Taking away their ability to hear threats by playing loud music may put horses on edge.

When playing a radio in the barn, keep the volume low enough to just establish a background sound. You will also want to carefully choose the music that you play. While hard rock or heavy metal might be your preference, your horse might not feel the same. According to a study by British researchers, horses seem to be relaxed when listening to classical or country music. On the other hand, jazz and rock music resulted in horses exhibiting stressful behaviors.

When you set up your barn radio, make sure that it is positioned well out of reach of any curious horses. You will also want to be sure that no horses can reach the electrical cord.

Riding to Music

Many riders also like to ride with music playing. While playing music through arena speakers is a popular option, some riders choose to play music by using their mp3 players or phones.

There are many advantages to riding to music. Music can help to relax a nervous rider, helping to relax a nervous horse in turn. Music also establishes a tempo, so you may have an improved sense of variations in your horse’s pace.

On the other hand, music can be a potential distraction while riding, leaving you less focused on your horse and the cues that you are transmitting to him. If you play music too loudly, you may miss out on important communication from other riders.

The decision to play music, whether in the barn or while riding, is one that only you can make given your individual situation.

photo credit: Horse & Hound

Keeping Horse Medications Safe

horse medication VETERINARAYPRACTICENEWSWhen you own horses, especially those who are injury prone or have a chronic condition, you will probably accumulate quite a bit of medication. Whether bought over the counter or from your veterinarian, medications need to be handled and stored properly. Here’s how:

Create a Medication Cabinet

One of the most important precautions you should take is to create a separate cabinet where medications can be stored. Storing medications away from other items like supplements and grooming supplies can help to avoid confusion and misuse.

The medication cabinet should be positioned up high, out of the reach of children. It’s also best to locate the cabinet in the back of a feed room. Don’t label the cabinet as containing medication – this will only draw attention to it, and can make it a desired object if anyone were to rob your barn.

Lastly, keep a lock on the medication cabinet. Share the key or combination only with barn managers and anyone else who may need to access the cabinet.

Keep Original Packaging

Always keep medications in their original packaging – if medication is ever accidentally ingested or if a horse is accidentally overdosed, the original packaging has information on it that is important for the Poison Control Center or for your veterinarian to know. Keeping medication in its original container also reduces the chance that it will be confused for a different medication.

Even if you have two types of the same medication, resist the temptation to combine them into a single container. All medications have expiration dates, and in combining two separate bottles of the same medication you will lose the accuracy of the expiration date information.

Identify Medication by Horse

If you have multiple horses, medications can quickly become confused. Keep each bottle clearly labeled with the horse who receives it. If the dosage information starts to wear off, use a permanent marker to rewrite the information so it stays accurate.

Dispose of Old Medication Properly

When you no longer need medication or it is past its expiration date, you need to properly dispose of the medication. Your vet can likely advise you about proper disposal of many medications. If you have used needles from injectable medication, many vets will dispose of them for you for a small fee.

Know the Poison Control Helpline Number

It’s a good idea to keep the number of the Poison Control Helpline in your medication cabinet, just in case medication is accidentally ingested. The Poison Control Helpline’s number is 1-800-222-1222.

When you store medication in your barn, proper handling is important to keep both horses and humans safe.

photo credit: Veterinary Practice News

Riding Motivation Tips

horses in snowWith the cold, wet weather and darker days, it becomes more and more difficult to get yourself out to the barn and into the saddle. Finding that initial motivation to go ride can be a real challenge, so here are some tips to get yourself out to the barn.

Schedule a Ride with a Friend

Put peer pressure to work and schedule a ride with a friend. When you have to meet a friend, you won’t want to cancel on them. This little bit of guilt can be helpful in getting yourself out to the barn, and riding with a friend can be more fun than riding solo. Misery loves company?

Remind Yourself About Riding After Time Off

Do you remember how it feels to get back into the saddle after weeks or months off? Your legs are weak and nothing feels graceful or easy. Even after missing just a few days of riding, your coordination is a little off and you have to work more than usual. When you’re trying to convince yourself to get out to the barn, think about what it will feel like if you don’t go riding for a few days.

Don’t Get Distracted After Work Or School

It’s all too easy to come home after work or school, sit down, have a snack, turn on the computer or TV, and lose an hour or more of time. Don’t do it. Grab a snack and set your phone’s timer for fifteen minutes to ensure that you get up and moving again. Don’t lose your momentum!

Set Up Your Equipment Ahead of Time

If you’re truly fighting the mental battle to go ride, then try setting up your equipment ahead of time. Have your breeches, boots, and shirt ready and waiting before you leave for work. Having a water bottle filled and a snack ready to go can also help you to get out of the house quickly.

Break Riding Into Short Sessions

Does the thought of schooling your horse for an hour overwhelm you after work? Then don’t head to the barn with the goal of schooling. Instead, make the task smaller and break your ride into more manageable pieces. Tell yourself that you will go ride for half an hour to keep your horse and yourself in shape – no intense schooling required.

Once you’re at the barn and in the saddle, chances are that you’ll be feeling better and will likely extend the duration and up the intensity of your ride.

Remember, February 2nd is the half-way point of winter so everything gets better after that!

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Grey Horse Grooming Tips

GiacomoIf you own a grey horse, you know how grey horses seem to be mud and dirt magnets. Unfortunately it’s impossible to hide dirt in a grey coat and impracticable to keep your horse in a cover sheet all the time.  You will need to be talented in your grooming to have your grey horse looking great. These tips can help you in the challenge to keep your grey horse clean.

Spray-On Spot Removers

Whether preparing your horse for a clinic or show, or simply wanting him to look his best for a lesson, spray-on spot removers will become your best friend. There are a variety of spray-on spot removers on the market for you to choose from, but they all share the same ability to remove manure, grass, and urine stains from your grey horse’s coat.

A spot remover is ideal for cleaning up stains and dirty patches on your grey horse. You can target specific areas without having to bathe the entire horse. Spray on the liquid, wait a few minutes, and then rub a rag over the stain, lifting the dirt away. Let the area dry and brush the hair down again for a smooth finish.

Grooming Wipes

Grooming wipes are also handy for grey horse touch-ups. Grooming wipes are great for cleaning up smaller areas, especially those on your horse’s face where a spot remover may be difficult to apply. If you don’t have grooming wipes handy, then baby wipes can also be useful for small touch-up jobs.

Shampoos for Grey Coats

Baths are so important for the grey horse, since they’re one of the few opportunities that you have to get your horse truly clean. Using shampoos intended specifically for grey coats can help to bring out the shine in your horse. Whitening shampoos are often highly successful in removing any stains from grey horse coats.

When you bathe your horse, bathing heavily stained areas twice can help to get a deep clean. Legs and tails in particular may benefit from multiple washings. Just make sure that you thoroughly wash out all of the shampoo from your horse’s coat once you’re done.

Baby Powder and Corn Starch

If you’re heading into the show ring, you may need to cover up small areas which just didn’t come completely clean. Baby powder and corn starch are both useful for lower-leg touch-ups and spot cover-ups on your horse’s body. Just make sure that your show clothes are covered when you apply them – otherwise you could end up with white powder all over.

Coat Conditioner

Finally, choose a coat conditioner which actively repels dust. Finishing off your horse’s coat with a quality conditioner can help to preserve the clean appearance that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Grey horses are a major challenge to keep clean, but with hard work and elbow grease, it can be done.

Photo credit:  Oakhurst Thoroughbreds (Giacomo – 2005 Kentucky Derby winner)

 

Keep Your Horse Feed Safe and Secure

horse eating grainWe all know how sensitive equine digestive systems are. It’s important that we only put quality feed into our horses, and that all begins with how we store the feed once it enters our barns. Take a look at these tips for storing horse feed to make sure that you’re doing things right when it comes to storing horse feed!

Create Heavy-Duty Rodent-Proof Bins

Rodents are naturally attracted to your feed room, so it’s important to take measures to protect your feed from them. Create heavy-duty rodent-proof feed bins which securely close to keep the feed protected from rodents, bugs, moisture, and dust. Metal or heavy-duty plastic trash cans with securely closing lids can work, though you may need a larger type of bin if you have a large barn.

Clearly Label Everything

Next, make sure that everything in your feed room is clearly labeled. From different types of feeds to supplements, knowing what is in each container and which horse receives it is important to equine safety.

Keep Supplements Tightly Closed

If you’re working with supplement buckets and tubs, make sure that each container is tightly closed after each use! It’s a good idea to store supplements up on a shelf or in a cupboard to help deter rodents.

Store Unopened Feed Bags on Pallets

When you are storing unopened feed bags, always store them up on a pallet. Feed bags should never sit on the ground, where they are at risk of absorbing too much moisture and may be exposed to grain mites.

Rotate the Feed

Whenever you receive a delivery of horse feed, make sure that you rotate the feed out with any remaining bags that you’re storing. Remove the older bags, store the newer bags on the bottom of the pile, and replace the older bags so that they are used soonest. This method helps to avoid storing expired feed or having feed go bad while in your care.

Check Expiration Dates

Always check the expiration date on any bag of feed that you are opening. Expired feed may be moldy, which can put a horse’s health at risk.

In addition to checking the expiration dates on the feed bags themselves, you should visually inspect the feed in the feed bins. It’s important to make sure that the barn lighting in your feed room is bright enough so that you can easily see into the feed bins and supplement containers. Good light allows you to spot moldy or spoiled feed and to dispose of it before it’s ever fed to horses.

When you make an effort to store feed properly, you are helping to ensure your horse’s safety while also ensuring that the feed you buy doesn’t expire or go bad while in your possession.

How NOT To Be Embarrassed By Your “Horse-mobile”

horse owners carOur horse hobby has an uncanny way of spreading into and taking over our vehicles. While we might delight in eau de horse, chances are that some of the people who have to ride in our cars won’t feel the same way. Are horses taking over your vehicle? Here are some ways to reclaim  your car.

Use Plastic Totes

Plastic totes are key to getting a horsey car organized. Invest in a few heavy-duty plastic totes that fit in the trunk or in the back of your car. Whether you’re carrying your boots to the barn or have a spare set of riding clothes in the car, putting these items into a plastic tote can help to keep the odor from spreading throughout the car. Plus, the totes themselves help to keep your car neat and organized.

Buy Rubber Car Mats

When you’re dealing with mud, horse manure, and dirt, rubber car mats are an absolute must. If your car didn’t come outfitted with them, then get them. Rubber car mats help to keep water and mud from penetrating down to the floor of your car. And when they get dirty, you can pull the rubber mats out and hose or scrub them off; they’ll be good as new.

Delegate the Back of the Car to the Barnorganized horse owners car

Rather than letting all of your riding equipment take over your whole car, delegate the back portion of your car as the horsey part. If you have a trunk, great – use that. Otherwise, keep totes, extra plastic bags, baby wipes, and any other horse items organized in the back.

Install a Saddle Stand

If you transport your saddle on a regular basis, then you will want to find a way to do so safely. Consider installing a small saddle rack in your trunk, or using a small portable saddle rack. If you do use a saddle rack, secure it down well so that it cannot come loose in the event of an accident. Remember that if you ever park your car with your saddle inside, then you will want to come up with some sort of a cover so that anyone walking by cannot immediately tell that there is a saddle in your car.

Have a Lint Roller Handy

When you’re riding in a horse person’s car, horsehair will be inevitable. You can make your car a little more presentable for friends and family by keeping a lint roller in the car so that you can quickly clean the seats of horsehair.

While we might love the fact that horses take up every inch of our car, our non-horsey friends and family probably won’t feel the same way. What modifications have you made to your car for your horsey habit?