Articles

  • Equine Liability Laws

    Written by Randi Thompson

    What you need to know. The Exceptions That Will Affect You in the Equine Liability Statutes

    Do you think that the Equine Liability Statutes protects you from any lawsuit simply by putting up the signage and getting a release form signed?  If you do, you are wrong! There are horse people who believe that they are protected completely from any form of liability because their state has these statues. However, when they end up in a legal situation they are unprepared for what will happen.  They did not know that there are exceptions! 

    The Equine Liability Statutes are different for each state.  Each state requires specific signage to be posted and specific language to be included in any contracts and liability releases.  

    What are the Equine Liability Statutes for your state?

    First, you need to look closely at the Equine Liability Statutes for your state?  Click on this link, and then click on your state to see what yours looks like.  http://www.animallaw.info/articles/armpequineliability.htm   There are 4 states do not have an Equine Liability Statutes, CA, MD, NV, & NY.  If you are in one of these states you should contact and attorney as soon as possible for advice.

    Warning Signs and Liability Release Forms Required for Your State

    Begin by checking to see if your state’s Equine Liability Statute requires posted warning signage.  Next look carefully at what is required in the “liability release form” for your state. This is an example of one from Missouri.

    “Every equine activity sponsor shall post and maintain signs which contain the warning notice specified in this subsection. Such signs shall be placed in a clearly visible location on or near stables, corrals or arenas where the equine professional conducts equine activities if such stables, corrals or arenas are owned, managed or controlled by the equine professional. The warning notice specified in this subsection shall appear on the sign in black letters on a white background with each letter to be a minimum of one inch in height. Every written contract entered into by an equine professional and equine activity sponsor for the providing of professional services, instruction or the rental of equipment or tack or an equine to a participant, whether or not the contract involves equine activities on or off the location or site of the equine professional's or equine activity sponsor's business, shall contain in clearly readable print the warning notice specified in this subsection. The signs and contracts described in this subsection shall contain the following warning notice: WARNING Under Missouri law, an equine professional is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in equine activities resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities pursuant to the Revised Statutes of Missouri.  (L. 1994 S.B. 457)”

    What is NOT Covered. Exceptions and Provisions that You Need to Know

    Make sure you read and understand the full text of the statute including the “what is not covered” or in other words, the exceptions to liability, that are included in your states Equine Liability Statutes.   For example, this section is from the NC  Equine Liability Statutes in the Summary area:  “However, there are exceptions to this rule:  a person, corporation, or partnership will be held liable for injuries of an equine activity participant if he or she displays a willful and wanton or intentional disregard for the safety of the participant and if he or she fails to make reasonable and prudent efforts in ensuring the safety of the participant” This is why it is advisable to contact an Equine Attorney in your area who can make sure you have taken the right precautions and preparations in order,   including the records that you need to keep.

    At first glance, it probably looks pretty easy to understand. You may think you really are protected against any claims.  Until you look a little closer.  Following are the “provisions” or the “exceptions to protection” from the Equine Liability Statutes of Missouri.  I have also added a few what if’s to each section so that you can begin to understand what they might really mean to you.  This is how that section begins:  “The provisions of subsection 2 of this section shall not prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional or any other person if the equine activity sponsor, equine professional or person;”  
     

    Looking Closer.  What Do the Exceptions Mean To You?

    Now we are going to take a closer look at how the ‘exceptions” to the Equine Liability Statutes might not protect you. Basically, these not inherent risks to being around horses.   For example , look at: ”(1) Provided the equipment or tack and knew or should have known that the equipment or tack was faulty and such equipment or tack was faulty to the extent that it did cause the injury; or”    

    Do you have paperwork that proves that you are checking your tack on a regular basis to make sure it is safe and in good condition? Where are your records?  What are the dates? Can you show that you have repaired equipment (bills) or replaced equipment as needed?   How would you explain if a stirrup leather broke?  Or if the girth leather split causing the saddle to fall off?

    (2) Provided the equine and failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity and determine the ability of the participant to safely manage the particular equine based on the participant's age, obvious physical condition or the participant's representations of his ability;” 

      Are you sure that putting that new rider on a green horse is really safe?  How can you prove that they are?  What tests are you requiring of the rider to make sure that they are prepared before you put them on any horse?  Do you have charts or records that show the process you are using to determine which horses can be ridden by which level of riders?  Are you keeping incident reports when something happens with a horse or a rider gets injured or comes off a horse?  Did they fall off, get bucked off?  What happened and when? 

    3) Owns, leases, rents or otherwise is in lawful possession and control of the land or facilities upon which the participant sustained injuries because of a dangerous latent condition which was known to the equine activity sponsor, equine professional or person and for which warning signs have not been conspicuously posted;”

     Is your riding ring free from obstructions that do not belong there when riders are using it?  Is there a tractor sitting in the corner?  Is the footing rough or full of holes?  When you take other riders out for a cooling off walk on the trail around the barn, what happens if the horse they are on trips in a hole that has been there for some time that you have not taken the time to fill?


     4) Commits an act or omission that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant and that act or omission caused the injury;

     What if you take a person around a  horse, who had very little to no experience with horses, and they get kicked, bit or stepped on?  Who is responsible?  When people come to your barn, what are you doing to keep them away from horses that could be dangerous to them?  Can a 6 year old read a warning sign that says a horse bites?

     5) Intentionally injures the participant;

    Intentional is such a broad term.  How would the law look at an incident where you do not tell one of your students, who gets injured, that the horse you have put them on has flipped over, or has bucked riders off before? 

    6) Fails to use that degree of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances

    You ask a friend to help you bring in horses with you. They do not have a lot of experience.  Somehow, they lose control of the horse and are trampled resulting in injuries.  Or, you are teaching a student and do not check the girth.  The saddle slides around the horse resulting in the rider getting dragged, and hurt.  Who is responsible?

    Now That You Know More About The Equine Liability Statutes…

    They do not protect horse people from lawsuits unless they have taken the time to make sure that they have followed all the requirements and have the records to show how they are doing this.  Do yourself a favor, contact an equine attorney in your area today and find out if you are doing all that you can do to protect you from a possible lawsuit

    DISCLAIMER

    This article provides general coverage of its subject area. It is provided free, with the understanding that the author, publisher and/or publication does not intend this article to be viewed as rendering legal advice or service. If legal advice is sought or required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author shall not be responsible for any damages resulting from any error, inaccuracy or omission contained in this article.

    Randi Thompson is internationally recognized in social media for her award winning “Horse and Rider Awareness" and “How to Market Your Horse Business”.  She is a keynote speaker at national events, author, and expert legal consultant for the horse industry. 

     

    http://www.facebook.com/howtomarketyourhorsebusiness

    http://www.howtomarketyourhorsebusiness

  • Derailing the Train

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    Well, I certainly didn’t see this coming. My oh-so-special dog Chase has been diagnosed with cancer. As cancer does, it came like a blow to the gut when least expected, and suddenly figuring out what to do about this fast-growing disease was our top priority. Chase had blood in his stools for a few months, but the vet couldn’t find anything wrong. Then one day in June she felt a lump and we scheduled a surgery to have it removed. Probably just a benign polyp, we thought. But on surgery day she discovered that the lump was growing and had ruptured. The histopathology report came back “colonic adenocarcinoma”… cancer.


    Chase, my beautiful, healthy, happy-spirited dog, my library dog, seemed just fine on the outside, but something menacing was growing in his colon. The initial diagnosis came with a caution that this is an aggressive cancer and that—even with treatment-- Chase might only have months to live. I was shocked, and sad to think that Chase might not be with us much longer. But this cancer wasn’t going to wait, so we had to act fast. We were lucky I had noticed the blood in his stools.

    I decided right away that Chase has given me enough, more than anyone could hope for in a lifetime, and I don’t need to keep him around for me when it no longer makes sense for him. I want to give him every chance for survival, if it will provide him a good quality of life. But I don’t want to put him through extreme hardship thinking that I need more from him. I’m extremely lucky to have known him for the seven-plus years he has been part of my family.

    I had been concerned about Bandit’s lipomas, and that Bandit, almost 10 years old, is getting older. I hadn’t been concerned that Chase, at age 8, might not get older, that he might have something dark growing inside of him that is much more frightening and even possibly lethal. It’s funny how life works. You can try to be vigilant, but really you don’t have much to say about how life goes, other than your own actions and response.

    I was stunned by the cancer diagnosis. We live in a relatively safe place out in the country, with no pesticides on the lawn, no chemical cleaners on the floor, clean well water from a deep aquifer that is tested regularly, no direct chemical drift from farm fields, and good healthy food. I stopped feeding my dogs kibble a while ago due to concerns about processing and harmful dyes. I don’t feed them from plastic bowls that could leach chemicals into their food and water. But the cause(s) of colonic adenocarcinoma are not known.

    At first I thought, when you’ve been told you’re going to be hit by a train, but you don’t know when, and you’re pretty sure there’s no way to avoid it completely, do you live your life in fear of the train, or do you try to get as much out of life as you can before the train hits? And, following Chase’s lead, I chose the second option.

    One of the first things I did was schedule photo sessions with two of my favorite animal photographers. I wanted to get pictures of Chase (and my other dogs) while he was still feeling well. Next came the whirlwind of learning and deciding what could or should be done (or not) for Chase. Our veterinarian told us that she had not been able to surgically remove the entire tumor. Since it had grown into the wall of the colon, she was not able to excise it with clean margins without damaging the colorectal wall. She indicated that chemotherapy would most likely be the recommended treatment for Chase, then referred us to a veterinary oncologist.


    The veterinary oncologist told us that he only sees about one case per year of this rare colonic adenocarcinoma in dogs; there were no studies, no papers to tell us what to do. A CT scan revealed good news: there was no evidence of metastasis to Chase’s lymph nodes or other parts of his body. Amazingly, we had caught it early, before it spread. And also amazingly, the tumor was in an area that could be targeted locally with radiation therapy, a less invasive option than the harsher systemic chemotherapy treatment. Colonic adenocarcinomas that are located farther into the wiggly colon and not as close to the rectum can’t be treated with radiation therapy, which targets the same spot repeatedly on different days.

    The Roller coaster ride of deciding what to do and how to pay for Chase’s care began. One day when I was feeling down and stressed, I turned around and there was Chase wearing a pillowcase on his head, with a sheepish look on his face. It was the pillowcase that had been hanging on the back of my chair, the pillowcase that I put on my lap when using my laptop. Chase’s silly expression, like ‘get this thing off of me’ made me burst out laughing, and I realized how tense and stressed I’d been since the diagnosis. Chase reminded me to live in the moment, and I swear that he somehow put that pillowcase on his head on purpose!


    I tried to be more like a dog, but sometimes I wasn’t very good at it. Thinking of Chase's diagnosis and anticipating a shortened life, I cried sometimes. I felt sorry for him (when he didn’t even feel sorry for himself). I felt hung over, heavy inside, when I hadn't touched a drink. I moved at the speed of molasses. And there was Chase, bringing me the ball, urging me to throw it. Chasing it over and over, making spectacular shortstop saves. Reminding me that on this day we could still do this, and we'd better get to it, we'd best enjoy it! Always by my side, I didn't think he wanted me to feel bad for him. He wanted me to remember all the good times we’ve shared, and continue seizing the day. So I tried to be more like a dog. :-) And whenever he sensed that I needed a hug, he stepped up on the stool in the bathroom and looked at me until I got the hint.

    Chase was so happy and healthy that I knew I had to do something for him; I couldn’t do nothing. So, with time being of the essence, Chase began a series of daily definitive radiation therapy (RT) treatments at the end of July. Definitive means, essentially, going after a cure for a disease that may have no cure. Since the end of July, life has been a whirlwind, with Chase’s 21 weekday RT treatments ending on August 23rd. We got up very early every weekday, I dropped him off at the University of Minnesota clinic for the day, and then picked him up after work. I bought two pendants that say, “Every day holds the possibility of a miracle”, and we each wear one around our neck, his on his collar and mine on a silver chain.

    After the first day of treatment, when we returned to the clinic on the second day, Chase howled out a greeting when he saw his vet tech in the waiting area. When I saw how well he had bonded with her after just one day, I knew he was in great hands. He handled every visit to the clinic like a therapy dog visit, nosing his way behind the front desk every morning to greet the receptionists, wagging his tail all the way down the hall, reaching out to say hi to everyone who crossed his path. I’m not sure he knew that he was the patient. I, who was stressed by the schedule, making special food for him, lack of sleep, decision-making, finances, and advocating for Chase within the University ‘system’, learned a lot from Chase’s attitude. He made the best of every day and made a lot of friends.

    Chase did very well and handled the treatments well. But in mid-August he got very sick. We eventually discovered an odd-shaped piece of plastic in his stomach. It had to be removed with an endoscope. The plastic piece had nothing directly to do with the cancer and was found to be from an old ball that I had thrown away a while ago. I’m not sure how Chase got this plastic or was even able to swallow it, but it blocked the exit from his stomach and could have been fatal. We were lucky.

    We worked with our home vet and a complementary medicine vet at the U to give Chase optimal nutrition via whole foods, herbs, and supplements (including Omega Nuggets and Canine Shine) to help him resist the cancer and endure the treatments. They gave him acupuncture treatments to help him deal with pain and nausea, boost his immune system, and keep the energy flowing well in his body. I laid my hands on him and gave him Reiki treatments. And these veterinarians, these caregivers, gave me an abundance of information and emotional support. With their positive energy, I began to think about not just living life to the fullest until the train hit, but about actually derailing the train. Yes, derailing the train!
    On the last day of regular RT treatments, it was hard to leave Chase’s friends behind. I had struggled with different veterinarians coming and going, and difficulties with communication and accessing the doctors, but one veterinarian had been very good to us. The vet techs had held everything together and watched out for Chase the whole time, and we had become friends. One vet tech in particular, Jess, was always there for us and went out of her way to help us. Chase fell in love with her. Although I did need to advocate for Chase at times, he turned out to be his own best advocate. People fell in love with him and cared about him almost as much as I do, or maybe even as much. They do a very demanding job in a most loving and caring way, and Chase responded well to this.

    Chase missed his July and August library visits. In August Bandit passed the Pet Partners therapy dog test with the highest marks, so he is now qualified to substitute for Chase if needed. The library visits will start up again in September, when the kids are back in school and ready to read to Chase again. I very much appreciated support from people on the READ dog list whose dogs had also undergone cancer treatment. I also received an abundance of support from friends on Facebook, including this saying: “Don't forget H.O.P.E.: Have Only Positive Expectations”.

    With the RT treatments completed, Chase’s body is healing. We’re still in limbo. One of the most maddening things about cancer is not knowing where you stand. I’m hopeful that the cancer cells were killed during the treatment and the normal cells will heal and be healthy again. Not only is colonic adenocarcinoma rare, but it is even more rare to find it before it has metastasized. Since Chase’s cancer was determined to be stage 1, nobody is quite sure what to tell us, because apparently they haven’t seen this before. But everyone is pulling for Chase.
    Several people have asked me how we found Chase's cancer so early, before there was any evidence of metastasis. It was the blood in his stools, appearing intermittently, for several months. I thought it went away for a while, but then it reappeared and I knew something was wrong. Here, from the Veterinary Cancer Society, are the top ten common warning signs that a dog may have cancer and should be examined by a vet. These signs are not specific to cancer and could also indicate other conditions, many of which are not life-threatening. But they should be checked out.

    1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
    2. Sores that don't heal
    3. Weight loss
    4. Loss of appetite
    5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
    6. Offensive odor
    7. Difficulty eating or swallowing
    8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
    9. Persistent lameness or stiffness
    10. Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

    (From the book "Good Old Dog" by Nicholas Dodman ©2010 by Tufts University… This book has a good chapter on fighting canine cancer, which is easy to read and describes well the most common forms.)

    Chase is doing great. He’s pooping well, which has been the biggest indicator of how well his colon is functioning. At the beginning of September, he goes back for a follow-up exam and CT scan. The path we’re on today is optimistic, hopeful, living in the moment, enjoying each day. When I’m tempted to think that life isn’t fair, I also think that having a lot to lose means that perhaps life has been more than fair, that life has been pretty generous indeed. We know we’re lucky to have each other and we’re not wasting one single day.

    The traditional and holistic vets agreed that Omega Nuggets and Canine Shine are great supplements for Chase. I think it helped that Chase’s skin, coat and immune system were in great condition before he began treatment. He still looks great, is energetic, and did not lose any hair during the treatments. Use the code JPavlovic for 20% off your first online order

  • Pasture Grasses and Grazing

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    This month we will review research concerning pastures and foraging behaviors in horses. Most horsemen would agree that horses grazing at pasture represent the most natural way to feed a horse.  Certainly it represents the most economical and the least labor intensive method of feeding.  However, many owners have questions related to what or how much a horse’s is consuming when its primary source of feed is pasture grass.

    This ambiguity of how much grass a horse may consume makes selecting additional concentrates or supplements more of a challenge.  In addition, many horses clearly volunteer to consume pasture grass well over their nutritional needs making regulation of body condition score very difficult.   The range of dry matter intake of horses on pasture has been reported to be as wide as 1.5 to 3.1% of their body weight in a 24 hour period. Usually young horses and lactating mares will be on the upper range of intake which would make sense due to their nutritional demands.   Mature horses are reported to typically consume 2-2.5% of their body weight in dry matter.  However, it does appear that many of our equine friends have failed to adhere to book values when given the opportunity.  A recent study looking at weight gain in pastured ponies found that on average the ponies consumed 3.8% of their body weight in dry matter, with ranges of 2.9 to 4.9%.  Others have also reported horses consuming as much as 5% of their body weight in dry matter! It is rather easy to see why horses can quite easily gain weight on pasture.

    But what about horses which are only turned out for part of the day in an attempt to control feed intake? Is this an effective technique or do they simply manage to eat faster in their allotted grazing time?  In a study which attempted to determine how much a horse can consume in an 8 hour period, horses were individually assigned to small paddocks, allowed to graze for four hours, then switched to a new paddock for an additional 4 hours. The small paddocks were then harvested to determine how much the horses consumed in the given time period. In this experiment horses were able to consume 1.3% of their body weight within an 8 hour period.  In addition, their consumption rate was twice as high in the initial four hours the horses were allowed access to grazing. Therefore the horses were able to consume almost 1% of their body weight in just four hours!  Thus even limited grazing can easily result in weight gain.  From this data the authors concluded that for these particular grazing horses, only 9 hours of grazing was necessary to meet their energy needs.


    While we know that good quality pasture can easily meet a horse’s maintenance requirements, does it provide additional benefits to the horse?  In a study designed to look at the effectiveness of pasture turnout in maintaining fitness, horses which has been ridden 1-2 hours per week, 5 days per week for 12 weeks were then stalled, continued to be ridden or were turned out in a large pasture.  After a 14 week period, all horses participated in a standard exercise test.  This proved that the horses allowed free access to wander through a relatively large pasture maintained their fitness compared even to the horses ridden 5 days per week.  Thus pasture turnout seems to be a reasonable solution during down time when the horse is not ridden for maintaining fitness. The pastured horses in this study traveled on average 10 km a day compared to 5 km per day in the horses which were ridden.  This study again lends support to the value of pasture turnout.

    So what if we want the fitness benefit of pasture turnout without the obesity inducing over consumption?   Often the traditional answer has been to employ a grazing muzzle. In a study looking at intake rates in ponies wearing muzzles compared to their non-muzzled counterparts, muzzling resulted in an 83% decrease in overall intake. However, in just three hours, the non-muzzled ponies were able to consume 0.8% of their body weight in dry matter.  This is quite similar to the observations in the previous studies.  In addition, the same team of researchers found that the ponies “grew wise” to their limited access to grass and learned to increase their consumption rates during their restricted period.  Therefore limited time on pasture may not be as effective for foxy ponies once they learn what you are up to!  So what is our take home message?  Allowing horse’s time to graze is very beneficial, not only for their mental health, but also for their physical health.  However, in order to control intake and thus body condition score in our enthusiastic eaters, we made need to employ additional measures such as limited turnout or grazing muzzles.

  • What Do Goats Really Eat?

    Written By Janice Spaulding, founder of Goat School

    Volumes can be written about this subject alone. This article will cover basic information on feeding and minerals.
    A few years ago we lost a beautiful doe in her last few weeks of pregnancy. Opting for a necropsy was one of the wisest decisions we have ever made. The necropsy gave us “inside” information on how a goat makes and distributes fat throughout their body. The outward appearance of a goat is not always informative on the inside condition.

    This was a large doe, though not one that would be considered “fat”. As it turns out, her problem was the internal fat storage she had developed throughout her life. We had only owned her for about six months, so, we were not privy as to how she had been fed in her early life. This fat, which packed her internal body cavity, was a major contributing factor to her demise. Her liver had caramelized and her systems had shut down.

    It is difficult when those big, beautiful caprine eyes are looking at you with the “please feed me, I’m melting away to nothing” look.  Don’t give in to it!  Over feeding can eventually kill your goat. Under feeding will do the same thing.  So how do you reach a happy medium?

    Hay, hay, hay, lots of good quality hay is a major component to raising healthy, happy goats. A goat needs four percent of its body weight in dry matter per day. That’s what they will actually eat; it does not include the other two or three pounds that they spilled on the ground trying to get to that little choice morsel that they see in the very center of the pile. Of course, once it’s on the ground, it has gotten stepped on, peed on, and pooped on, so don’t expect to ever see your goats bend down and eat it!

    Now, let’s talk water.  It doesn’t matter what kind of container you use, but you have to KEEP IT CLEAN! Goats will not drink dirty water. With the bucks, you can run into problems with urinary calculi from not drinking enough water to balance the phosphorous and calcium they ingest. Angora goats are even fussier than meat or dairy goats are! One little piece of poop and they will avoid that water like the plague.


    If your water containers start building up algae, you are doing a poor job in your management program. Washing with a little bleach, swished around with a brush and rinsed with water will keep your containers clean. Goats are not dirty animals, don’t treat them that way. If you wouldn’t drink out of it what makes you think your goats will?
    Salt blocks are a necessity!  Our motto has been “keep your goats thirsty”, especially your boys, so that they will drink plenty. Just like humans, the more water they drink; the healthier they will be! A red salt block, also known as mineral blocks or brown blocks is a good choice because they contain not only salt, but also trace minerals such as iron, manganese, copper and iodine.

    Now you get my “feed sermon”, sheep feed is for sheep, goat feed is for goats, cattle feed is for cattle, and etc.
    If you buy a bag of feed that says it is for sheep or goats, you are buying health problems for your goats.
    There are so many great goat grains on the market, why jeopardize your goat with a grain formulated for another type of animal?

    Having the tags from several different brands of grains and comparing them, I noticed that one of them specifically says “Do not feed to sheep, product contains copper”, another states “this feed contains supplemental copper, do not feed to sheep” and still another says it’s a Sheep and Goat Feed and it’s for “growing, breeding and lactating sheep and goats”. What do you see wrong with the third one?  Could it be that there is something missing in it that goats need but could poison sheep? Your right, it’s copper. GOATS NEED COPPER. Excess copper will kill sheep.

    An interesting disclaimer that one of the brands listed was: “Results from use of this product may vary based upon differences in customers’ management, health and sanitation, breeding, genetics and feeding”. Even the grain dealers understand about health, sanitation and feeding!

    Copper is necessary for the absorption and utilization of iron in all goat breeds.

    Copper deficiency in a goat is an ugly thing! It causes the goats bones to become brittle  just like a human’s bones when they have rickets.

    Without iron the goat will rapidly develop anemia.  Iron also helps oxidize other vitamins for muscle growth, formation of red blood cells and bone structure. It is stored in the liver and is supplied through the intestinal walls.

    The daily ration should be approximately one pound per doe and one to two pounds per buck (depending on size).
    Another factor in keeping a healthy goat is plenty of “outside” time. Remember vitamin D comes from sunshine and it helps utilize other vitamins in the system properly. You need to get those “barn potatoes” outside! A good indication of lack of vitamin D is “ring around the eyes”. Sometimes the hair actually falls out in this area.

    Kids need proper nutrition too!

    Creep feeding is a means of providing feed for your kids. If you notice your kids at feeding time, they try desperately to get to the feed and keep getting knocked to the side by the bigger stronger goats!

    Adult meat goats are very possessive about their feed and will not let kids other than their own near the feed. Angoras on the other hand are much more laid back and share the feed. Of course, your dairy goats are being fed at milking times, so they will always get the feed they need.

    A separate area that adult goats cannot access will help grow the kids really quickly. They will be in and out of the creep feeder almost constantly snatching little snacks throughout the day.

    Why creep feed?
    It will increase weight gain, kids will reach a target market weight and can be marketed at a younger age. Creep fed kids will have a greater weight per day of age. The conversion of creep feed to body weight gain is a very efficient process.
    Kids begin to nibble hay and feed at a very early age. Some kids may have a functional rumen and be chewing their cud by two weeks of age.

    A creep feeding areas should be located near water, in the shade if possible and near the place where the kids like to loaf. Make sure the feed in the creep is dry and fresh. Never let it run out of feed completely. Clean it out in a timely fashion.  Remember, kids are incredibly fussy and will pick through the grain to find what they are interested in eating.

    Lastly, and, most importantly, for peace of mind, is a good mineral supplement. If you are feeding your goats anything but a well formulated goat feed please make sure you are adding a good supplement to the feed, otherwise you are doing a great disservice to your goats.

    If your goats are on a browse based nutrition program, please remember that a supplement becomes a critical component to their well-being. While the nutritional value of browse often reaches its peak in mid-summer; other times of the year it may not contain enough nutrients to provide your goats with a balanced diet to meet all of their needs.

  • Goats: Meat, Fiber and Dairy

    Written By Janice Spaulding, founder of Goat School

    It is a thrill and an honor to be able to write and share my goat knowledge with the subscribers of the Omega Fields Newsletters! Having raised goats for 25 years, and suffered through all the trial and errors, my husband, Ken and I, have accumulated a vast knowledge of the nuances of raising several varieties of goats including dairy, meat, and fiber.

    In 2004 I came up with an idea to answer all of the questions we were continually getting, not only from new goat owners, but also from seasoned breeders. Goat School® was born. We started on a cold November afternoon, lasted for about 3 hours, and included 12 people. It has now grown into a three day event and peaked at 112 attendees.
    Over the past eight years the most often asked question has been: “What type of goat would you recommend for us”?   There are so many things to take into consideration. This article will touch on the different types of goats, and, can help you decide in what direction you would like to take your goat raising experience.

    First things first; what are the types of goats? There are three; meat, fiber, and of course the dairy breeds.
    Goats in general, are friendly, inquisitive, nosy, loving, charming creatures that will return to you as much love as you give to them. A goat that is well socialized, well nourished, and well cared for, will be a friend for life. They love to help with chores, (try changing a light bulb on a ladder with 4 or 5 goats around and you’ll see what I mean!) and, if given a chance, they will happily clean out your garden or flower beds!  

    MEAT GOATS:  All goats have goat meat but not all goats are meat goats. You can harvest meat from all of the different breeds of goats, but there are some breeds that have been raised specifically for meat. Meat breeds are bigger and more muscled. They tend to be very large, statuesque animals. Some breed names include Boer, Kiko, Spanish, Savanahs, Myotonic, and Arapawa.

    Because of their size, Boer bucks have been crossed with other breeds to inject “hybrid vigor”. Hybrid vigor presents the possibility of obtaining a genetically superior offspring by combining the primal virtues of its parents.   We used our Boer Buck “Rocky” to breed some of our Angora does. The offspring were growing at a rate of ¾ of a pound per day!  It took no time at all for the kids of these matings to outgrow their moms. It was quite comical to see these very large 2 month old kids trying to get under their small statured dams to nurse.

    Meat goats because of their mature size and rapid growth might give the impression that they require large amounts of feed, nothing could be further from the truth!  We found that one pound of a balanced goat grain per full grown doe was sufficient! By providing your meat goat with a good healthy diet of browse, hay, clean water, minerals, vitamins, and a small amount of grain guarantees they will thrive, produce great offspring, develop healthy muscling, and become a good foundation stock for your growing herd!

    FIBER GOATS:  Fiber breeds require more hands on work than meat breeds. As we raised Angora goats for over 20 years, I will do a little “ruminating” on that subject.  Angoras are the only goats who produce hair.


    Because they grow about an inch of hair a month, Angoras need to be sheared twice a year. We always sheared in the spring right before kidding season, (this worked out great because it alleviated messy, ruined fleece because of kidding fluids) and again in the fall, just before breeding time.  As male goats in rut tend to be a little smelly, shearing before breeding kept the fleeces clean and odor free.

    Angoras need plenty of protein to grow all of that beautiful mohair fleece. A lack of protein in their diet causes lack-luster, thin, unattractive coats. As the mohair is the end product for these goats, you must feed them properly. Keep in mind that the extra protein also causes fast growing hoofs which may need to be trimmed more often than most other types of goats.
    DAIRY GOATS:  Milk producing goats are certainly the most work intensive of all breeds but continue to be my favorites. I love the twice a day interaction with them. They are friendly, happy go lucky animals that can start each and every day with a smile. Dairy goats need to be milked at least once a day, and more commonly twice a day, so be prepared for that commitment!

    Over the years, we’ve had Oberhaslies, Nubians, Sables, Toggenburgs, Saanans, and Alpines. There are other great milk breeds out there besides the ones I mentioned.  My recommendation before you purchase any type of milker is that you taste their milk. All of the milks are great, but some taste different than others. For instance a lot of folks dislike Oberhaslie milk and others simply love it!


    Another caveat when you are purchasing milkers for hand milking; try milking the goat! Make sure your hands fit their teats. Some goats have big teats and others really small ones, so this is important. We always recommended that newbies buy their first two goats as milking adults.  Get a feel for it with a “seasoned professional” doe, and go from there.
    And of course I have to mention “pet goats”.  These come in many sizes and shapes. Two neutered males (wethers) make great buddies and can be taught to pull carts or go packing with you! Nigerian Dwarf goats are the cutest, most comical little characters that can keep you well entertained.

    Along with all the love, fun, and enjoyment you can receive from your goats, comes one problem that is not often discussed; what to do when you have a goat in your herd, of any breed, that is churlish, difficult to deal with, mean, nasty, or a general pain in the neck? These goats need to go where they will best be served, an appointment with the processor, or as we have come to call it “freezer camp”! I realize that folks can have considerable sums of money tied up in a goat and have a hard time justifying sending them to the processor, but, owning animals is a responsibility and part of that responsibility is to not pass your problems on to an unsuspecting individual. Please do not pass an unwieldy goat on to an unsuspecting new owner! I can’t say this strong enough, a difficult goat needs to go in the freezer. How will you feel if you sell one of these unpredictable animals to someone and the new owner gets hurt?

    Why do some goats, especially bucks, develop these problems? Usually it is because the buck was kept by himself. Goats are herd animals and need the companionship of other goats to keep their healthy attitudes. A buck who has a buddy, either another buck (it doesn’t matter what breed) or a neutered male (wether) will keep the buck occupied, exercised, and most of all friendly.

    When kept alone, a buck will be constantly seeking out a play mate. When you go into his pen, you automatically become his play mate! A game of head butt with a full grown buck will be memorable to say the least.

    Want to know more about goats, come to Goat School®! Goat School® is a comprehensive learning experience! You will not only learn about goats, but you will also make invaluable new friends, meet like-minded folks, and build networking opportunities.

    Visit our web site www.goatschool.com and see when and where the next Goat School is!

    We have a great book available with lots of information about raising goats. The “Goat School® Manual” is a compilation of some of the  information from our Goat School® classes. For more information click on the Goat School Shop tab at www.goatschool.com

  • Spraddle Leg

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    Hopefully you will never have to worry about a chick with spraddle leg ( also called splayed leg), but as is the case with everything else chicken-related, it's always best to be prepared ...just in case.

    Spraddle Leg is a condition that a chick is either born with or develops within the first few hours of life whereby one or both legs slip out to the sides making them unable to stand or walk.

    Spraddle leg can occur during incubation or the hatching process if the temperature is too high or varies too much during the incubation period or if the hatch is difficult for the chick. A less common cause can be a vitamin deficiency. The more common cause is an incubator or brooder floor that is too slippery for the chick to grip, which causes the legs to slide to one side. As a result the chick's legs muscles don't develop properly because of the lack of traction.

    To try and prevent this condition, a sheet of paper towel or rubber shelf liner should always be put in the incubator just before the lockdown.

    This will give the newly hatched chicks something to grip onto.

    In the brooder box, newspaper should NEVER be used as the only floor covering.  Especially when it gets wet, it is too slippery and the main cause of spraddled leg.  Instead, I cover a few layers of newspaper with a sheet of shelf liner.  The rubber surface, just as in the incubator, provides a nice textured surface for little feet.

    I change the newspapers and shelf liner out as needed, rinsing the shelf liner off and reusing it, and after a few days, add a layer of pine shavings on top.
    Spraddle leg is easily correctable, but if not addressed quickly, the chick will not be able to get to feed and water and can die.

    What you need to do is hobble the chick's legs.  The easiest way is to cut a thin piece of vet wrap (approximately 1/4" wide and 5" long) and loosely wrap it around each leg, connecting the ends in the middle, about an inch apart, in sort of a figure eight.

    The chick's legs should be about normal width apart when extended. If the chick can't stand up, you can make them a bit wider apart for better balance, but then bring them a bit closer together each day.
    You can wrap some First Aid Tape around the middle to keep it secured.
    Then be sure the chick has something it can easily walk on like paper towel, a bath towel or shelf liner.  At first the chick will have trouble standing up, but soon will be able to get around.  Ensure the chick has easy access to feed and water, but a shallow water dish with marbles or small stones in it is required so the chick doesn't fall in and drown.  Also it's best to keep the chick separate from other chicks at least until she learns to stand so she won't be trampled.

    At first it is helpful to support the chick and just let her try to stand and get used to having her legs underneath her.  Helping her get her balance will be beneficial and hasten her recovery.
    Unwrap the legs and check the chick's progress once or twice a day.  Leave the hobble on until the chick can stand and walk on its own. This could take from a few days to up to a week.  You should see results fairly quickly and soon your chick will be up and about.
    Then make a solemn vow - no more chicks on newspaper!

    !

  • Wall Growth

    Written By Walt Friedrich

    At first glance, it seems obvious – but there exists a subtle mystery of sorts at play. We know the wall is firmly attached to the coffin bone – yet it grows downward at the same time. Experts, including David Hood, Robert Bowker, Pete Ramey and others, agree that there is a paradox, and provide independent, similar explanations, while also agreeing that although we have a pretty good idea of how it all works, nobody has proved it yet. The explanations are quite plausible, but they are not etched in stone. KC LaPierre explains it well; what follows is based upon Mr. LaPierre’s work, but remember, this is just my “take” on the matter.

    As you know, the components involved with the hoof wall are the coffin bone, laminar layer,  inner wall, outer wall and coronary band. We have evidence that the outer wall grows down from the coronary, as demonstrated by the downward "movement" of the scar left from a popped abscess at the coronary band. And while we can’t see it, we also know that in a healthy hoof there is a very tight attachment between all those components. The sticky part is understanding how the wall can move downward while at the same time remain locked to the coffin bone by the laminar connection.

    Good question. The consensus explanation seems to be that the inner wall,
    firmly attached to the coffin bone by the laminar layer, has two components: loosely packed tubules, originating from a corium at the coronary, and a thick, dense "glue" referred to as intertubular horn -- an immensely strong substance that fills the inner wall, completely encapsulating its tubules. The outer wall is likewise constructed of tubules growing groundward and held together with intertubular horn, but its tubules are very densely packed.

    This leads us to two important concepts: first, that intertubular horn, while very dense and tight, is actually a fluid (more on this later). One might consider the inner wall as being composed of intertubular horn with tubules embedded therein to keep that horn in place. That construction makes the inner wall extremely strong and shock-resistant. Thus a primary function of the inner wall is to provide strength for weight support as well as shock absorption for protection for everything inside and above the hoof itself. Second, the outer wall, composed mostly of tubules with enough intertubular horn to hold it together, presents an almost impenetrable shield against external damage. The ancient Greeks couldn't have asked for a more efficient shield material, even though they did pretty well with what they had.

    Back to the intertubular horn being a fluid, and enter a physics concept
    called "fluid dynamics"; it says that a fluid in motion is essentially
    motionless at its base, and the farther away from the base you go, the
    faster it moves. It's the way rivers work -- the water's velocity is greatest at the surface, diminishes as you go deeper. In the hoof, that property of the
    intertubular horn means that while the inner wall’s base remains almost motionless, attached to the coffin bone by the laminae, its outer surface (abutting the outer wall which is moving downward) is moving right along with the outer wall, at exactly the same velocity, albeit very slowly. Intertubular horn cells initiate from the laminar layer, and grow outward, perpendicular to the wall surface and filling the inner wall’s tubular space, but as they reach the junction between inner and outer walls, they have begun to move downward, in parallel with the outer wall’s movement, thus keeping everything smoothly locked together.

    Think of it: outer wall resembles a broom -- stiff and strong, made of
    tubules, constantly growing longer, forming an almost impenetrable shield – while inner wall performs the task of keeping everything locked to the coffin bone yet allowing the outer wall's downward growth at the same time. The outer wall corium, located in the coronary band, has just one job, constantly generating new cells. The inner wall’s cells actually have two sources -- some developing at the coronary that generate the tubules, and others developing at the laminar surface, generating the intertubular horn.

    Incidentally, I'll add an interesting side note: As long as everything is flowing smoothly and normally, the hoof will have a smooth, even outer wall -- no ridges or striations. But any disturbance in the evenness of growth between the two layers will show up as a "glitch" at the outside surface – trauma to the inner layer, such as with a laminitic attack for example, or perhaps a sharp enough strike on the outer wall surface will interrupt its rate of contribution of intertubular horn to the outer wall as it grows downward, resulting in a “fold” in the outer surface, hence those rings we sometimes see running side-to-side across the toe of the hoof, and it explains why they can and do grow out. In addition, the inner wall, thanks to heavy keratinizing of the intertubular horn, is quite waterproof. But when the inner wall "thins out" due to some trauma, it loses a certain amount of its tightness against leakage, allowing some blood to find its way out, showing up eventually at the bottom of the hoof at trim time as those disheartening red areas we sometimes see. They may also indicate a trauma in the past, but do not necessarily indicate that the trauma is actually past. In addition, it's my personal opinion that toe-first landings that send shock waves through the entire hoof are also responsible for damage to the inner wall's intertubular horn that allows some adjacent blood vessels to rupture, the results being the blood spots we see weeks later at ground level during a trim.

    Thus, the simplest, undetailed answer to the question, “what makes the hoof wall grow”, may be that:

    The wall is a two-layered structure: the outer wall grows downward, and consists of densely packed tubules with enough intertubular horn from the inner wall to hold the tubules together, while the inner wall grows outward, and consists of intertubular horn with just enough of its own tubules to hold the horn together. The seam between the two layers is an active place, where the descending outer wall “pulls” the outward-growing intertubular horn downward as they flow together toward the ground. Thus, as long as their coriums are functional, both inner and outer walls' growth is guaranteed, and their functions of support and protection can exist because of the fluid characteristics of the intertubular horn. It is truly a remarkably efficient design.

  • 100 Miles in One Day in 100 Degree Temperatures

    Considered to be a “grueling mountain marathon for horses”, the Western States Trail Ride, or The Tevis Cup, is one of the most challenging 100-mile rides in the world.  The Ride started on July 20th at 5:15 a. m. at Robie Park near Lake Tahoe with the first place finisher arriving in Auburn, California at 10:12 pm, by way of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.   160 riders took off with the goal of trying to reach Auburn within 24 hours, but by late Saturday night, 68 riders had already been pulled from the ride.

    But that didn’t stop local riders Beverly Gray of Kamas and Sue Hedgecock from Park City and their horses from finishing in the Top 10 at the 2013 Tevis Cup last weekend.  The duo successfully completed approximately 17,000 feet of climbs and 21,000 feet of descents in temperatures soaring above 100 degrees.  The high temperatures were considered a factor in the 47% completion rate; only 75 of 160 horses completed within the allowed 24 hours and vetted out completely sound.
    And less than five hours after the event ended, veterinarians evaluated the top ten equine finishers to select the winner of the Haggin Cup, which recognizes the horse found to be “in the most superior physical condition.”  The veterinarians presented this year's award to LZP Julios Last Chance, a 12-year-old gray Arabian gelding ridden by Park City’s own Suzanne Hedgecock; the pair completed the ride at 12:11 a.m. on July 21.

    Rusty Toth and Take A Break, an 8-year-old chestnut Arabian gelding, crossed the finish line first late on July 20 to win the 58th running of the Tevis Cup.

    “It was a fantastic race. My worry was the heat, 112+ in the canyons, said Bev Gray.  “Jolly Sickle did exceptional!”  Congratulations to Sue and Julio being awarded the Haggin Cup.  The Haggin Cup is a unique and special experience.  To be a part of the evaluation is a gift that I will cherish for my lifetime and have an equine companion that can offer me the gift of the experience.  I am humbled daily!!!!

    Rank Rider Rider # Checkpoint Time
    1 Toth, Rusty 4 Finish Line - IN 10:12PM
    2 Waitte, Jennifer 90 Finish Line - IN 10:29PM
    3 Smith, Jenni 89 Finish Line - IN 10:29PM
    4 Schork, Christoph 88 Finish Line - IN 10:46PM
    5 Myers, Kevin 3 Finish Line - IN 10:58PM
    6 Donley, Karen 35 Finish Line - IN 11:21PM
    7 Schuerman, Mark 115 Finish Line - IN 11:50PM
    8 Hedgecock, Suzanne 87 Finish Line - IN 12:11AM
    9 Gray, Beverly 170 Finish Line - IN 12:27AM
    10 Barnett, Ann Marie 64 Finish Line - IN 12:45AM

    Founded on a bet in 1955 by one of Auburn's prominent citizens, Wendell T. Robie, modern-day endurance riding began with what now is called the "TEVIS CUP." He is quoted as saying “A lump in my throat and on bended knee in gratitude to my equine with wings!!!!!

    Today there are hundreds of endurance riding events throughout the nation and in many countries overseas that are based upon the methods and standards originally established by this event.
    More on the Tevis Cup at www.teviscup.org

  • Horses and Invasive Plants THE WESTERN USA STUDY

    Written By Dr. Stith T. Gower Professor of Forest Ecosystem Ecology, Department of Forest & Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    A study in the eastern USA showed that while horse hay and manure may contain a small number of seeds of invasive plants, the seeds do not successfully germinate on trails. In this study—funded by the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC), Envirohorse, the Tanklage Foundation and the Dean Witter Foundation—a similar study was conducted in nine locations in the western USA. The western study is needed to better understand if horses introduce weeds in ecosystems that dramatically differ from ecosystems in the eastern USA.

    No one likes weeds

    Weeds, also referred to as invasive, alien, or noxious plants, adversely affect the ecological and economic sustainability of native and managed ecosystems. Almost 500 invasive plants are now established in natural ecosystems in the USA. Invasive plants can displace rare plants in most any ecosystem, totally transform natural ecosystems (e.g., yellow star thistle in California grasslands), dramatically increase fire frequency, thereby threatening personal property and livestock (e.g., European cheatgrass in the shrub-steppe ecosystems in Utah and Idaho), and use precious ground water in arid ecosystems (e.g., salt cedar in southwest desert ecosystems).

    Invasive plants compete with crop species in agriculture, pasture, and rangelands ecosystems and decrease yields and crop value. In the U.S. alone, the total cost of invasive plants in agriculture approaches $27 billion annually. Decreased productivity of forage crops totals an additional $1 billion annually. Moreover, some invasive plants are toxic to livestock and wild ungulates (e.g., leafy spurge and cattle). Many of the invasive plants were introduced for food, fiber, soil stabilization, or ornamental purposes.

    However, the spread of invasive plants has dramatically increased in recent decades because of greater local to global transportation of people and commodities and disturbances (fire, road construction, etc.). Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify how invasive plants are introduced into ecosystems and thwart their spread.

    Horses have been accused of spreading invasive plants through hay and manure. However, few studies have attempted to rigorously quantify whether these accusations are true. Campbell and Gibson (2001) reported 23 invasive plant species germinated and grew from horse manure samples in a greenhouse study, but only one invasive plant species became established in the trail plots in Illinois. Gower (2008) also noted that while non-native plants germinated and grew from hay and manure samples placed in the ideal conditions of pots, no non-native plants established on the horse trails at five sites in the eastern USA.

    The western horse-weed study

    This study was intended to replicate the eastern USA study to determine if horses can introduce weeds in western USA ecosystems, which differ in climate, native vegetation, and invasive plant species. Specific objectives of this study were:
    1.        Assess the importance of different mechanisms by which horses may introduce non-native plant species.
    2.        Determine if invasive species introduced by horses germinate and colonize horse trails.
    The study was conducted at nine locations that include a broad range of natural ecosystems (Figure 1):
    •         Cuyama Oaks XP, New Cuyama, CA (NCO)
    •         Shine & Shine Only III, San Jose, CA (SSO)
    •         Whiskeytown Chaser, Redding, CA (WTC)
    •         Wild West Pioneer, Nevada City, CA (WWP)
    •         Redwood Ride II, Orick, CA (RR2)
    •         Ft. Stanton II Pioneer, Ft. Stanton, NM (FSP)
    •         Shamrock Pioneer, Wheatland, WY (SRP)
    •         Ft. Howes, Ashland, MT (FTH)
    •         Owyhee Fandango, Oreana, ID (OWF)

    Twenty rider/horse teams were randomly selected at each ride. The owner of each horse provided information on his/her home location so the travel time could be approximated. Information was also obtained on the horse’s access to pasture versus dry paddock, and hay source. A representative sample(s) of hay, or hay substitute, were collected from each owner, each sample was thoroughly mixed, and the sample(s) was/were sub-sampled and placed in two labeled bags. I collected multiple hay samples from each source (i.e., alfalfa, timothy, oat hay, etc.) if riders brought several types of hay for their horses.

    A manure sample (one to two piles depending on size) was collected from the horse trailer or in the temporary paddock where the horse resided, thoroughly mixed, divided into two sub-samples, and placed into two labeled bags. Hoof scrapings were collected from all four feet of the horse (except when horses had pads and no debris was present), combined, thoroughly mixed, and divided into two sub-samples. One sub-sample of each material was placed in a labeled bag and transported back to Madison, Wisconsin, for the germination study. The second sub-sample of each material from each horse was placed on the trail within 24 hours of sample collection.

    Horses were also examined for seeds attached to their coat, mane or tail; however, no seeds were found on any of the horses at any of the nine rides.

    The hay, manure, and hoof debris sub-samples for the germination study were transported back to Madison, Wisconsin, and added to 15-liter plastic potting buckets filled with commercial potting soil. A second set of pots was only filled with commercial potting soils (no sample) and was randomly assigned as a control to each pot containing a sample. The paired pots were randomized and placed in a common garden that had similar environmental conditions. The pots were placed outside and watered twice per week with a complete Hogland’s nutrient solution to ensure the germinating plants had adequate water and nutrients. Plants were grown to the end of the growing season and each germinated plant was identified by species and classified as native or non-native using the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services state list (http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxiousdriver).

    The second sub-sample of hay, manure, and hoof debris was placed in a 50 cm diameter plot located every meter along a transect at three random locations along a trail designated for horses. A control plot (no sample) was paired with each sample plot. The start and end point of each transect was marked with a large plastic stake driven flush to the ground so the transect could be re-located. Each plot was surveyed in 2009 and each germinated plant was identified by species and status (native or non-native).

    Are there weed seeds in horse hay and manure?

    Three (15%) rider/horse teams at NCO and OWP rides, and one (5%) rider/horse teams at SSO and RR2 used certified weed-free hay, for an overall average of 4.4% for the 180 sampled horses at the nine rides (Figure 2).
    No non-native plants grew in the pots containing manure and hoof scraping samples from the nine rides. Non-native plants grown in pots containing hay samples ranged from 0% for three sites (RR2, SSO, and NCO) to a maximum of 5% (SRP) for all 180 samples (Figure 3). The pot study demonstrated that hay is the primary source of non-native seeds, but averaged 1.4% of total plants germinated in pots for the nine study sites.

    Common non-native plants inventoried in the pot study were yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis L.), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.), and musk thistle (Carduus nutans L.). Yellow starthistle originated from the Old World and probably arrived in California in the mid-1800s as a contaminant in alfalfa seed. Canada thistle is native to southeast Europe and Asia, and was likely introduced to the United States in the 1700s as a contaminant of crop seed. Musk thistle is a biennial plant that was introduced, by accident, from Europe in the 1800s. The seeds of all three species are animal- and wind-dispersed.

    Although seeds of non-native invasive plant were present in hay samples, and germinated in the pots, the results from the trail plots were striking different. No non-native plants occurred in any plots on the trail that contained hay, manure, or hoof debris samples (data not shown). In other words, 0% of the three types of samples from 20 horses sampled at the nine sites, or 540 total samples, produced viable non-native plants on the trail. Two plots containing hay samples and one plot containing manure sample at FTH contained timothy (Phleum pretense) seedlings.

    The results from this study corroborate the results of Campbell and Gibson (2001) who also found successful germination and establishment of invasive plants was significantly lower in the trail plots (one species) than greenhouse study (23 species). Gower (2008) also noted that while non-native plants germinate and grew in the ideal conditions of pots, no non-native plants established on the horse trails at five sites in the eastern USA. This study and other studies also observed that the presence of non-native species is greater immediately adjacent to the horse trail, but the presence of non-native plant species along the trail does not differ between horse trails and trails where horses are prohibited (Campbell and Gibson 2001).
    Collectively these studies provide compelling evidence that horses are not an important source for the introduction of non-native plants.

    Why horses are seen as villains

    New roads and trails disturb the soil and provide exposed mineral soil that is required for most weed seeds to become established. Ironically, trails used very infrequently appear to be more susceptible to colonization by weeds than frequently used trails because the frequent traffic from hikers, horses, etc., damages the sensitive weed seedlings. In addition, any material (soil, rocks, sand, etc.) used to build trails may contain weed seeds. Finally, roads and trails increase the amount of light reaching the ground and as a result multiple strata of vegetation (e.g., grasses and forbs, shrubs, understory trees, overstory trees) exist at the edge of the trails.

    Birds, an important source of spreading plant seeds, frequent these openings and multi-layered vegetation along the trail, and in the process excrete seeds in their feces. One study in the U.K. reported that birds prefer weed seeds over grain seed and berries.

    Collectively, all these processes make it appear that horses are introducing weeds on the trails when, in fact, there are a myriad of processes responsible for observed vegetation composition along trails. For the reasons stated above, it is equally important that horse riders stay on marked trails and do not create new trails that may provide exposed mineral soil for weed seeds to become established.

    Another source of confusion is weed classification systems. I adopted the USDA National Resource Conservation Service classification system because it provided a consistent database across all six states and it allowed me to compare the results of this study to the eastern USA study (Gower 2008). There are a myriad of textbooks on weedy and invasive plants that each use their own logic to classify a plant as a weed. Important commercial plant species used as forage for livestock and soil erosion control have been classified as weeds in horse-weed studies.

    Interestingly, plants such as lespedeza, that Campbell and Gibson classified as exotic (following Mohlenbrock 1986), are not on the USDA NRCS noxious weed list for Illinois. Almost 60% of the individual plants classified as a weed in a pack horse study in Colorado were Kentucky bluegrass. The lack of consistent definitions and standard state or federal list creates unnecessary confusion in the scientific literature, which adversely affects management and policy decisions.

    What can we do?

    Trail riders must become stronger educational advocates for trails.
    It is extremely important for trail riders help educate the public. The results of this study will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to provide credibility to the research. However, my 20-plus years of research has made one thing very clear: land managers do not have time to read scientific journals. Short, concise summaries in trade magazines, state natural resource magazines, etc., are excellent venues for this vital information. Every member should acquire copies of relevant articles and hand-deliver, e-mail or snail mail them to their local and state equine advocacy group(s), and state, federal and private trails coordinators/managers.

    If we wish to maintain or improve trail use policy it is essential that we provide land managers and politicians with the necessary information to make sound ecological decisions. Here in Wisconsin, snowmobilers have access to gorgeous trails that I can only dream about riding. Why? Perhaps their well-organized and financially-supported advocacy user groups explain their success. I can only presume they work closely with private and state land managers to ensure access to trials.

    Trail management is key

    All of the horse-weed studies have shown that establishment of weeds on trails is almost nonexistent. However, a small fraction of hay and manure does contain weed seeds. Investing in waste manure and hay management facilities at trail heads would be a proactive management activity that would further decrease the small chance of weeds becoming established in horse camps and trail heads. Organizing annual work days to mechanically remove weeds would prevent any weeds in these high-use areas from reproducing and spreading, and build valuable relationship between trail riders and land managers. I even wonder if the trail master course should add weed control/eradication curriculum.

    Conclusions

    The 0% germination and establishment rate of weeds from hay, manure and hoof debris plots on the horse trails at the nine study sites illustrates the difficult physical and environmental conditions that seedlings experience during the critical germination and establishment phase.
    Select relevant articles

    Campbell, J.E., and D.J. Gibson. 2001. The effect of seeds of exotic species transported vie horse dung on vegetation along trail corridors. Plant Ecology 157:23-35.
    Gower, ST. 2008. Are horses responsible for introducing non-native plants along forest trails in the eastern United States? Forest Ecology & Management 256:997-1003.

    This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Endurance News, official publication of the American Endurance Ride Conference, www.aerc.org, 866-271-2372.
    To request the figures that accompany this article, please write to endurancenews@foothill.net.

  • How to Teach a New Rider the Basics of Riding

    Written By Randi Thompson, founder of the Horse and Rider Awareness Educational Programs

    We all love sharing the joy of horses with those around us. But, what should you be do, when guests arrive, who may never have ridden a horse before, but would like to try?    In this article, we will explore how to introduce new riders to the fundamental concept of having fun safely, as they learn how to control a horse.

    Preparing for the Ride.
    Start by choosing a safe horse that you know. A new rider needs a horse that is safe in any situation and one that will allow them to make a lot of mistakes. We call this horse an “Equine Saint.”   Absolutely avoid horses new to training, those that move quickly, tend to be nervous, spooky or very sensitive to what a rider is doing.

    Introducing the Rider to the Horse
    By the time you get your new rider close to the horse they will be jumping out of their boots with excitement.  It is your job to protect them, as they do not know the risks associated with horses.  Keep the rider close to you, and out of harm’s way, as you saddle and bridle the horse.

    Now You are Ready to Show the Rider How to Mount and Dismount
    • Start by showing the rider how you mount and dismount that so they can see what they will be doing.  A mounting block will make everything easier.
    •  Begin by putting your hand on the pommel or saddle horn.   Tell the rider that this will help them get into the saddle easier.
    • Next, you step into the iron/stirrup.  Tell them it is important to press their leg against the saddle so that they can balance better.  Let the see how you can use your other hand on the back or middle of the saddle to also help them mount.
    • Show the rider how to gently swing their right leg over the back of the saddle without kicking the horse’s rump.
    • Finally, you will show them how to gently sink into the saddle and find their other stirrup/iron.

    When you dismount, repeat the process in reverse. For older riders, show them the “step down dismount” where they get off the horse without stepping into the stirrup/iron. Show them how to push away from the saddle and how to land on the ground with both knees bent.

    It’s Time to Put the Rider on the Horse
    • First, make sure you have control of the horse.
    • Let your rider know that you are going to keep your hand on their legs or body to help them balance as they get on and off the horse.   Show them how you are going to place a hand on the top of their leg to give them the support they may need.
    • Slowly guide them through the steps you showed them. If you feel that your rider is afraid at any level, slow down the mounting to as many steps as you can until they feel confident.

    When it is time for the dismount, put your hand on the rider’s leg to help stabilize them as they get off.  Most of them will not have the control of their body that you do and need that help.   If it is a very young rider you will simply lift them off the horse.  Practice mounting and dismounting the rider several times to make sure they are comfortable. This may seem boring to you, but they are having fun!

    Showing Your Rider How to Stop, Start and Steer the Horse.
    Now you are ready to show your rider how to stop the horse, start the horse, and turn it in both directions at the walk. By now they are even more excited and will not be thinking clearly.  With this in mind it is up to you to make sure that the rider practices how to control your horse.  They need to show you that they can control the horse.  First with the horse on a leadline, and later, if they have control, without it.

    Stopping.  Putting the brakes on.
    Stopping a horse is very important.  This lets the rider know that they have control.  With new riders, we show them how to use the reins to stop the horse.   Make sure you have a leadline on the horse so that you have control before you begin.  During this time you can let them know that they can balance their body any time they need to be resting their hands on the horse’s neck while they are riding.  This will help prevent them from pulling on the reins to balance.
    • Tell your rider that you are going to practice how to stop the horse first at the halt, than at the walk.
    • Show the rider how you stop the horse by shortening the length of the reins at the horse’s neck until the horse stops.
    • Next, show them how to do it with their hands.
    •  Then, show them how to let the reins go looser so they understand the difference between stopping a horse with the reins and releasing the reins to initiate movement.  Have them shorten and lengthen the reins several times.  Have fun with this and praise them when they begin to understand what you are asking them to do.
    • Once the rider is able to adjust their reins, you are ready to ask them to stop the horse from the walk.   To do this you will position yourself near the horse’s shoulder, where you can easily reach the rider at any time, and lead the horse forward.
    • Ask the rider to show you how they can stop the horse by shortening the reins until it stops.  It might take them a few attempts before they are able to really do it, so take your time and make sure that they can really do it on their own.  To do this, make it a game of sorts, ask the rider to count the horse’s steps and walk 5 steps and stop.  Give the rider lots of praise as they do this.  Think of this as a way to teach them with a game.  Next, walk 10 steps and stop.  Practice halting at least 10 times.

    Start your engines!
    Now we are ready to show the rider how to get the horse to move forward.  Once again, you will be leading the horse near the rider.
    • Explain that a horse moves from their leg much like a bike does when we use the pedals.  Show the rider how much leg is needed to get the horse to move by putting your hand on their leg and pressing or tapping the horse’s side until the horse responds.  Take your time and make sure the rider knows that the horse is moving forward because of them.
    • Combine the Start with the Stops and practice both together 10 times.

    Which way do you want to go?  Steering.
    Place cones or any type of safe objects on the ground in a pattern that will require that the rider turn in both directions.
    • Tell the rider that riding a horse is a like riding a bike. Instead of using the bike handles to turn the front wheel, they will be using the reins to point the horse’s nose in the direction they want to go.  Practice this first at the halt.
    • Find an object for them to look at and ask them to point the horse’s nose at it.  Show them how to bring the horse’s nose over by putting your hand on their hand.  Once they can turn the horses head, you are ready to ask them to do this at the walk. Again, you will want to be walking near the horses shoulder with the horse on a lead line.
    • Check that the rider can go in both directions while starting and stopping. As their steering improves you can choose other points of focus and ask them to ride the horse to that spot and stop them.

    Bringing it all together.
    Test the riders control by asking them to stop, start and steer the horse on their own while you step further away, maybe only 6 feet at first, while still keeping control of the horse with the loose lead line.  Check to see if the horse is really listening to them or following you.  When you are sure the rider is in control, and not before, you can remove the lead line and repeat the process.  Stay close to the horse until you are certain that control has been established, and finally, step away
    Some people also think it is fun for a new rider to trot or canter. Usually it is because they are getting bored.  The new rider is not.  This is where most accidents happen. These gaits are not comfortable to new riders and they will also not be able to control the horse.
    By following these steps, you will be able to share your love of horses with new riders, while keeping them safe.  Have fun!

    Now you can experience Randi's simple, yet amazing Horse and Rider Awareness techniques that have been tested and proven to work on 1000s of riding instructors, horse trainers, students and horses.  Go to Horse and Rider Awareness.

    Randi Thompson © 2013 Horse and Rider Awareness

Items 121 to 130 of 283 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. ...
  3. 11
  4. 12
  5. 13
  6. 14
  7. 15
  8. ...
  9. 29