Friday
Jun292012

Minis Make Great Guides

Most of us are aware of how dogs can and do make amazing friends and guides to their human partners in need, but did you know that miniature horses are also being trained as guide animals?

According to trainer Dolores Artse, miniature horses make good guide animals because they are well aware of their surroundings, and they live much longer than dogs. "Miniature horses are herd animals like regular horses, so they have a tremendous ability to be aware of space," she said.  They can remain in service for 40 years or more, while guide dogs last about eight years before they need to be replaced. Minis also have keener eyesight than a guide dog, are less easily distracted and doesn't pull like a dog might.

For the full story of miniature horse Cali, and her owner Mona Ramouni read more: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Her-assistant-her-guide-her-horse-3665174.php#ixzz1zCvMxCtY 

"She's changed my whole world," Ramouni said. "She has made it possible for me to do anything I want to do."

Tuesday
Jun262012

- Dressage The Official Sport of Summer

Dressage is #1 and the Official Sport of Summer! Thank you, Stephen Colbert . I honestly LOVE the way the dressage community is embracing the more "every man" way of cheering the sport (see video link for the USEF Dressage Trials crowd footage)...let's just hope the horses are ok with it too!

If you haven't seen the episode of The Colbert Report where Stephen Colbert first discusses dressage, click here, but remember...it's supposed to be a joke, just poking fun, and I don't personally care what political affiliation you prefer.  

Seriously though, I think the perhaps unintended result of all this media attention will be to make many horse-loving people who might not have known much about dressage more aware of it, and that's great!

Wednesday
Feb292012

- Free to a Good Home!

 

The bad economy has hit everyone hard, horse owners included.  Unstable jobs, unemployment, loss of savings, and just trying to pay the household bills combined with rising costs in fuel & hay have forced many people that would do anything they could to keep their horses to have to give them up.  In some parts of the country horse rescues are overflowing and it is common to see horses wandering in open spaces where they've been abandoned.

 

 

If you are looking to help a horse in need, or just want to add a free horse to your family (free is always nice!), check out theHorse.com's listings of Free Horses that are available nationwide.

http://www.thehorse.com/Horses/Available.aspx 

Wednesday
Feb292012

- USEF Prohibits GABA

  

Important Information Regarding the Use of the Prohibited Substance GABA – Ingredient in Commercial Product “Carolina Gold”

From the USEF Communications Department

 

Lexington, KY - Tasked with protecting the welfare of equine athletes and ensuring the balance of competition, the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Program consistently monitors new products and product claims.  From time-to-time products appear on the equine supplement market making claims of their effects on the performance of horses in competition. 
 
Recently, reports of the use of a product called "Carolina Gold" have been brought to the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Program. One of the principal constituents of this product is gama aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
 
While initially not considered a forbidden substance, the use of GABA as a "calming supplement" does violate the spirit and intent of the Equine Drugs and Medications Rule.  During recent research and administration trials involving "Carolina Gold," many adverse reactions were documented.  The nature of these reactions has prompted immediate action from the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Program. 
 
Effective immediately, "Carolina Gold" or any other product containing GABA is considered a forbidden substance under USEF rules.  Further, because there are no recognized medical uses for this substance, the use of a Medication Report Form to report its administration is not applicable.   
 
The detection of GABA is being actively pursued by the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Program and will be implemented without delay or notice.  No further announcements will be forthcoming regarding the use of “Carolina Gold” or GABA.  All positive findings will be forwarded to the USEF Hearing Committee.  Trainers and veterinarians involved in the sale or use of this substance may be subject to fines and/or suspensions. 

 

Wednesday
Feb292012

- Go Green! - Compost Manure

Raw ManureEvery horse lover, especially if you are a barn owner or stable manager, knows the importance of keeping a clean facility. One of the biggest efforts put into keeping a horse property clean is the removal of manure, and it is an expensive and never-ending job.  Did you know that an average 1,000 pound horse produces 50 pounds of manure each day?  Let's say you have a 30 horse barn...that is 1500 pounds, almost one ton, of manure each and every day that has to go somewhere else. Talk about job security for your cleaning crew!
Many barns collect manure into a central location, perhaps a large dumpster or pile, and then work with a removal service to take it off the property, but if this is how you generally manage your barn's manure, have you considered you could potentially make money with it, rather than pay someone else to take it away (and make money with it)?  Depending on the size of your facility and your location, manure removal services can be costly and add up significantly month to month.
If you have some extra space, you could compost some or all of the manure your barn produces, and use that compost in your paddocks, pastures, landscaping, or even as footing for your rings. Composting, by definition, is the controlled breakdown of organic material to produce a humus-rich product that is suitable for growing plants. It requires oxygen (aeration), heat, moisture, and balanced carbon to nitrogen (C:N) in the correct amounts in order to work; composted manure is generally 40-65% less in volue and weight to raw manure, and when done properly, can kill fly eggs and larvae, pathogens, and weed seeds.
To get properly set up for composting will require some initial investment of time and money. There are a few main factors to consider when setting up your composting operation:
  1. Bin Location - ideally your compost bins will be located on a high, level area that is convenient to access but not near other structures that can burn. You do not want the bins to collect or pool water, and they should not be located close to bodies of water where runoff can cause pollution.
  2. Number of Bins - Generally 2 bins are needed for composting, but many facitlies use a 3 or 6 bin system. With three bins one bin is actively added to, one bin is full and composting, and one is ready to be used for other purposes.
  3. Types of Bins - There are many options when choosing a bin type for your compost operation. You can purchase ready-made systems or build your own out of lumber, wire, or concrete. Your compost will need to have oxygen to do its thing; you can make sure it is aerated manually (turning the manure with shovels or a tractor), or mechanically with an automated aeration system.
Once you have your bins setup, you will also need a compost thermometer, a tarp to cover the bins, and pitchforks, shovels, wheelbarrows, and/or a tractor with a front-end loader to turn the compostpile regularly.
It is important that composting be done correctly.  It must be "cooked" at the correct temperature (120-Composted Manure160F) for a specific amount of time to be sure to kill insect eggs, larvae, worms, weed seeds, and pathogens, but if the compost pile gets too hot (172F+) it can start a fire.  It is extremely important to monitor compost temperature and be sure your bins aren't near burnable structures.
Once you are set up and running with your compost operation, you'll be able to save money from manure removal and potentially make money by selling your compost to other people who need nutrient-rich soil for their own projects.  Best of all, you're taking a big step toward being a green horsekeeper! Good job you!
For specific details and more information on how to begin your own compost pile, refer to our article resources.