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The basics to horses

Poka_Doodle

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Poka_Doodle submitted a new resource:

The basics to horses - I explain the basics to horse care and whatnot

I personally have grown up around horses and learned to care for them and a lot more, in this ardicle I will be teaching some of the basics to their care, if you have any other questions feel freee to postthem as a reply of message me.
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Horses need a decent amount of space. Pastures are very recommended allowing the horse to get plenty of exercise. Although if you have a barn a stall will work however you need to exercise your horse often....

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HomesteaderWife

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I just want to add on a few little points to this (great job for bringing up some care tips).

*Always have clean water accessible

*Colic is one of the WORST health problems in horses- pawing, biting at the sides, and rolling are some of the signs that it may be happening to your horse. A vet needs to be called immediately, and they should be moved to a safe/well-monitored area such as a small paddock. Try to walk them if they are actively rolling, so that no (further) damage is done to intestines.

*Floating a horse's teeth is an important aspect of dental maintenance for your horse. They should have a dental exam/wellness exam at least once a year by your veterinarian. Unfloated teeth can cause your horse a great deal of pain- especially when under saddle with a bit in their mouth.

*Store hay off the ground to prevent mold (and also, in rainy weather, we've frequently had fire ants decide to move into the bales)

*De-worming and vaccinating your horse is KEY.

*Hoof maintenance is also another critical part of horse care- you should use a hoof pick regularly (and with care). The general rule for trimming hooves is every 4 weeks for paddock horses, and every 6 weeks for pasture/working horses.

(may add to this in time if I can think of anything else)
 

Legamin

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Poka_Doodle submitted a new resource:

The basics to horses - I explain the basics to horse care and whatnot



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For the last four years we have let a neighbor who breeds horse but only has 5 acres bring over several horses to graze down out pasture and keep ahead of the tall grass that offers an annual wildfire hazard. It started out as a good arrangement until he brought over a few too many for our 6 acre pasture. 8 horses packed the entire pasture down, cut deep path grooves throughout the land, covered large areas of once healthy grass in enough miasma to completely smother the grass and crops that we seeded. By the end of one very dry Summer they had done several thousand dollars damage to the land that needed to be all disced, leveled, Fall fertilized and re-seeded. I don’t charge him a grazing fee and we usually settle for about 30lbs of meat from his hunting trip or his daughter’s 4H beef cow project and I get the benefit of a natural way to cut down the wildfire danger. He looks at the field and sees no problem whatever and wonders when he can bring them back. I am in a position this year where I am expanding my sheep grazing into this area but have fertilized and am frost seeding and will be waiting to harvest a first crop of hay before I turn out the sheep on it. I just can’t afford to repair the pasture every year like that…we are not yet a positive cash flow operation (it’s been 5 years and we expect two more growing & development years before we turn profitable. The burden of thousands in repairs is a tough one. The other issue is that the horses eat weeds but do not digest the seeds as the sheep do. So the 600 gallons of weed-specific highly specialized weed killer that I laid down every year has turned out to simply open up the pasture to new weed seed planting. The issue now is that I guarantee non-pesticide organic no grain etc. lamb to my customers and cannot use this weed killer ever again….but I CANNOT let these weeds (which the county says are an invasive species) take over the land!
I know this sounds like a gripe session but it’s really not. This neighbor is a great friend and I don’t want to jeopardize the friendship. But I need a year off of all horses and some ground rules going forwards. I don’t know how many horses is too many, how well they will get along with sheep in open pasture. How to keep the horses from trampling the $2,200 moveable electric netting fence that I put around my sheep….
I was hoping to ask a ‘horse person’ how I might get more knowledgable in a way that salvages a friendship and doesn’t leave our friends high and dry for pasture while still keeping my pasture sustainable and clean. I am also kind of worried about how the horses will do around the sheep when they (the horses) get into the breeding season. They seem a bit violent with each other and I cant risk my very rare breed (endangered species) sheep.
Sorry to dump a hundred questions and please don’t feel obligated to hit all of them but any advice or information would be helpful to resolve a possibly upsetting confrontation that I would rather avoid.
 

Legamin

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I just want to add on a few little points to this (great job for bringing up some care tips).

*Always have clean water accessible

*Colic is one of the WORST health problems in horses- pawing, biting at the sides, and rolling are some of the signs that it may be happening to your horse. A vet needs to be called immediately, and they should be moved to a safe/well-monitored area such as a small paddock. Try to walk them if they are actively rolling, so that no (further) damage is done to intestines.

*Floating a horse's teeth is an important aspect of dental maintenance for your horse. They should have a dental exam/wellness exam at least once a year by your veterinarian. Unfloated teeth can cause your horse a great deal of pain- especially when under saddle with a bit in their mouth.

*Store hay off the ground to prevent mold (and also, in rainy weather, we've frequently had fire ants decide to move into the bales)

*De-worming and vaccinating your horse is KEY.

*Hoof maintenance is also another critical part of horse care- you should use a hoof pick regularly (and with care). The general rule for trimming hooves is every 4 weeks for paddock horses, and every 6 weeks for pasture/working horses.

(may add to this in time if I can think of anything else)
I have an annual arrangement with some horse breeding friends to let them bring over some horses to graze down the pasture which reduces our risk of fire hazard. It has been mutually beneficial. Due to some issues we need to take a year off and reorganize our agreement but when the horses return, what sort of things can a non-horse guy watch for with the horses to make sure they are alright and healthy? We provide fresh water daily, scrub out any algae that starts to form in the water troughs but generally I’m a sheep guy. I can see a limp or a stumbling animal but beyond that I don’t know enough about horses to know if I need to call and alert the owner to possible issues. Are there any common problems to watch out for? What does fly-strike look like on a horse…(on a sheep it causes wool to fall out and makes them scrape against posts and such..easy to spot)…but on a horse? They seem a mystery to me and I’m too old and slow to get close to them to try and spot anything requiring contact.
thanks for any info. I’m just interested in general and obvious things that a dumb old shepherd can spot so that the horses won’t suffer due to my mismanagement.
 

Baymule

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@Legamin I recently had to sell my horses due to unfortunate circumstances, but I'm keeping my sheep and dogs. Moving to a temporary place until I find my next farm. That said, I understand the small livestock versus large livestock. My horses cut a deep trail down a slope that rain and erosion washed out even worse. I had to fill it in, but they still walked in the same place. I dry lotted them frequently (same with sheep) due to new and limited grass to keep them from killing it.

You will have to have a frank discussion with your neighbor and explain the damage the horses do to the pasture. The weed seed distribution alone would be enough for me. If he looks at a destroyed pasture and sees no problem, then he needs to destroy his own pasture, then scratch his head or maybe his butt, same difference, and wonder where his grass went, and why there are deep ruts eroding his soil away. Tell him that you will no longer be able to use weed killer and he probably doesn't want to come dig up every weed clump his horses poop out.

Or even better, buy a steer for the freezer. Use the excess pasture to feed the family. Use hot wire to contain the steer where you want the weeds eaten or trampled, move him often. In a tight pen, the steer will have to eat or trample the weeds. Trampling crushes the weeds down where worms and soil microbes can break down the humus and improve the soil. Leaving the steer in one place until it is a barren dust or mud hole is defeating the purpose. Extra work, moving daily, but it sure helps a pasture.

Either way, you don't need to let the horses come back. Bringing 6 horses to graze your small pasture is inconsiderate and overkill. If you must bring the horses back, limit it to 2 and explain why. Don't be surprised if he doesn't get it.

If nothing else, mow it. A mulching mower will chop up the grass/weeds and return the humus to the soil. Better than horse damage.

Don't get me wrong. I love horses. It hurt to have to sell mine. But I'm going from 8 acres to 2 acres, only about 1 acre for the sheep. No room for horses. When I find what I want, I want horses again.

You can actually use horses or cattle as dead end hosts for parasites. Sheep parasites are different from horse or cow parasites. Rotational grazing with different species can curtail parasites for the different species. You can use electric fencing to divide the pastures, easy to put up and take down.

Parasite larva crawl up the blades of grass, waiting for the animal to bite it off and continue the parasite cycle. But if a horse or cow bites it off first, the sheep parasites don't survive. It works in reverse too. You have to move them often to prevent damage, wait for the grass to regrow, then graze the sheep. Something to think about.
 

Mini Horses

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Horses move in trails...watch and they almost line up behind in single file, move to a favorite area, graze, line up and move again. It will always happen. He's used to it, so sees no problem. They also like the newest growth, eat down to ground. I believe you need to just say you need the land for hay and sheep -- no more horses. Then you won't have to explain further. The friend needs to feed more hay!!! Maybe reduce numbers, buy more land. Adjust and accept.
 

farmerjan

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I have to agree with both @Baymule and @Mini Horses . I had horses for years. They are a herd animal but a trail type as opposed to sheep. They are hard on pastures if not managed exactly right. I am in complete agreement that you need to get a steer to raise for meat. In fact, you should have 2, raise one for yourself and sell the other. They do better with company just like any herd animal.

The steers will also respect the electric fencing better than a horse will. Once they get "bit" with a shock. 99% of them will stay away from it. Many beef farmers use a single strand to rotational graze beef cattle.

It is time for you to take back your pastures for your own use and benefit. Bush hogging at the right time will keep the weeds from setting seed heads so that is very important. The chopped up organic matter will be broken down by the worms and other microbes into healthier soil.
Actually, you need to learn more about actual GRASS MANAGEMENT for it to do the best job for you. Good "graziers" are actual soil and grass managers first with the cattle an extra benefit.
If you are planning to go all organic, try reading some publications that are into grass management... Stockman Grass Farmer is a good one as is Acres USA....

You need to just tell your neighbor that you are expanding your sheep operation and will be utilizing the pastures to do so. You are sorry, but you can no longer accommodate the horses. It is your land, you do not have a written lease agreement or anything correct? So, for the little bit of meat you get in "payment" you can much better utilize this grass and ground for your own purposes.

Another thing.... horses and sheep do not mix well when there is breeding going on. The horses can get too rough, and honestly pasture breeding horses on someone else's land is asking for a lawsuit down the road. The rams will also get protective and the smell of estrus can provoke any intact male of any breed. So you could have a ram nosing around a mare or a stallion getting aggressive with a ewe. There was always an old saying about a woman not handling a stallion when she had her period due to the change of smells and body chemistry... animals can tell the difference. And honestly, horses could kick a sheep and hurt or kill it easily. Don't have to be being mean, but why risk it.
They should NOT be grazed together; but in succession for things like the parasite control. You can accomplish that with grazing a couple of steers behind the sheep. One thing, if they are wool sheep, the lanolin from the wool will affect the grasses and some animals will not want to graze behind them.
 
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Poka_Doodle

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I am going to try and be quick, I can try and explain this longer later, but I would inform them of your decision with sheep, and just start with it being a single year off type thing. I actually have to look at this from the perspective of someone who raises sheep, they are so fragile that you have to take all the necessary precautions. It is not worth the risk having horses in their environment, especially with the risk of damages with the horses.
Like some have said, raising a steer of your own might not be the worst idea, it could help keep everything down. When it comes to weed control, one thing I do randomly think of is the idea of a couple goats. You may have to re-seed, I obviously know very little about goats, but rumor has it that goats will eat anything and everything. Goats are also pretty compatible with sheep.
I know this isn't much, but I hope it helps.
 

Legamin

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@Legamin I recently had to sell my horses due to unfortunate circumstances, but I'm keeping my sheep and dogs. Moving to a temporary place until I find my next farm. That said, I understand the small livestock versus large livestock. My horses cut a deep trail down a slope that rain and erosion washed out even worse. I had to fill it in, but they still walked in the same place. I dry lotted them frequently (same with sheep) due to new and limited grass to keep them from killing it.

You will have to have a frank discussion with your neighbor and explain the damage the horses do to the pasture. The weed seed distribution alone would be enough for me. If he looks at a destroyed pasture and sees no problem, then he needs to destroy his own pasture, then scratch his head or maybe his butt, same difference, and wonder where his grass went, and why there are deep ruts eroding his soil away. Tell him that you will no longer be able to use weed killer and he probably doesn't want to come dig up every weed clump his horses poop out.

Or even better, buy a steer for the freezer. Use the excess pasture to feed the family. Use hot wire to contain the steer where you want the weeds eaten or trampled, move him often. In a tight pen, the steer will have to eat or trample the weeds. Trampling crushes the weeds down where worms and soil microbes can break down the humus and improve the soil. Leaving the steer in one place until it is a barren dust or mud hole is defeating the purpose. Extra work, moving daily, but it sure helps a pasture.

Either way, you don't need to let the horses come back. Bringing 6 horses to graze your small pasture is inconsiderate and overkill. If you must bring the horses back, limit it to 2 and explain why. Don't be surprised if he doesn't get it.

If nothing else, mow it. A mulching mower will chop up the grass/weeds and return the humus to the soil. Better than horse damage.

Don't get me wrong. I love horses. It hurt to have to sell mine. But I'm going from 8 acres to 2 acres, only about 1 acre for the sheep. No room for horses. When I find what I want, I want horses again.

You can actually use horses or cattle as dead end hosts for parasites. Sheep parasites are different from horse or cow parasites. Rotational grazing with different species can curtail parasites for the different species. You can use electric fencing to divide the pastures, easy to put up and take down.

Parasite larva crawl up the blades of grass, waiting for the animal to bite it off and continue the parasite cycle. But if a horse or cow bites it off first, the sheep parasites don't survive. It works in reverse too. You have to move them often to prevent damage, wait for the grass to regrow, then graze the sheep. Something to think about.
I’m probably moving towards that decision but it’s a delicate one as he has, in fact, utterly destroyed the 5 acres that he and his family rent, and the horses have turned the entire property into a dry dirt lot with nothing but napweed (which they transferred to the back of my property..($600 for specialized napweed killing poison) and it will take years to get rid of it completely. That particular weed in this area, if it gets a foothold, is the absolute kiss of death to good productive land. At his place he feeds only hay and there is no foliage left.
I want to preserve the friendship but I think you are right about ending the grazing agreement. Since I replanted it is definitely off for the next year and I will probably keep my ears to the wind in the community to help him find other pasture for grazing.
as far as the cow idea I have another friend who raises Scottish long haired cows and it would be nice to have the beef at the end of the season but I’m hoping to use the front pasture for sheep and leave the back half of the property completely untouched until I can hire a combine to cut and bale the first hay harvest as my needed Winter hay. That would save me about $2500 a year. Then I could move the sheep back to the back pasture and never have them on the same patch more than 7 days at a time and let the grass grow for 6 weeks in between needed grazing. My biggest problem in an average year is having enough animals to keep the levels of grass at a low enough height to be desirable for grazing. It can grow up 5’ high in three months and nothing wants to venture in to eat it. While I like the cow idea I don’t want to have to feed it until after the first harvest in July…I don’t need the extra expense. And I really just don’t have the forward pasture to feed cow and sheep for thee first months of Summer. I have considered a Dexter with a smaller appetite but then there is the extra handling equipment and possible vet bills. I know it is wise to diversify but it just becomes a crap shoot on a small acreage holding.
the one thing that could change this is if I can make a deal for the adjoining 16 acres already planted and producing alfalfa next to me our farm that just went up for sale. It’s ‘dirt’ cheap and I just might be able to pull it off. If it works I have a barn I am not using and would have the perfect set up for adding a couple of small appetite Dexters on the treed portion of the land and still have over 20 acres to grow alfalfa and give us another income stream.
much considerations and I am getting late in life…it’s important to Know when to quit expanding and just find a good holding pattern ….until you cant…
 
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