Have a question, a suggestion or just an interesting story to ...horse-chat about? Well lets get down to our chores.....and come up with some interesting topics as we go through our day.!
A typical day at the barn provides us with great horse-chat material. I'll tell you a bit about my typical day with 36 horses here on the farm.
My day starts at 4:30am. I think it is a good habit to keep horses on a routine schedule. If I am late to feed they let me know. I try to wake up before them and have my coffee just before sunrise. I love watching the day fill with light and listening to the sounds of the farm coming to life. Sometimes I would love to linger in the warmth of my bed and plan the day..."Hassa needs to be walked, Xantel needs to be turned out....I'd like to take that "clear creek trail"....The whinnying starts and the sound of restless, hungry horses drifts up to my window.
Throwing on my boots I hurry down the hill and past the ponds to the barn. Mornings always stir the same feelings of calm anticipation. Just as I get close to the 32 stall barn, I am welcomed by the soft sweet nickering that quickly grows into a chorus of hellos. I can discern the low pitched neighing of my 18 year old Oldenburg Hassa and the wild screeching of my two-5 year old Lusitano Stallions. They are not all my horses. I am a trainer and instructor. I board horses for my students. But I care for all of them and I know each and every one distinctly. I have lived here for 22 years. I have known, cared for, trained, ridden and have memories of more horses then I could list here. But I remember them all.
.......Hopefully you will get to know them all too, through our horse-chat and the stories and anecdotes I hope to share with you.
Horse-chat topic #1....
(click on headline for a handy feeding tips chart and maybe share a tip too!.)
This starts off with making a tour of the barn and looking at each horse and into each stall.
....is everyone alert, clear eyed and impatient to get fed?
....Has anyone thrashed around last night? (or partied too hard as I like to put it) :)
....Does everything seem to be in order?
I also pick up the trash cans that our residents family of raccoons makes sure to dump every night, no matter how tight the lids are on. :)
Horse-chat topic #2
(click on headline to read funny horse stories and maybe share one too!.)
I feed hay first......
Good quality that is available locally. Grass, alfalfa, grass alfalfa mix , oat hay, are the type I keep stocked.
Click here for a handy hay chart
Each horse has a different job, a different body type and temperament. Nutrition is important for a horse's performance, maintenance and longevity of life and use.
While they are munching contentedly on their hay I prepare the grain and supplements. I keep our supplements in a little shed a bit away from the barn. This helps to keep mice out of the barn.
This little shed was here when I purchased the property more then 2 decades ago. I think of it as a historical building to be preserved. It was used in the early 1900 for hunters and ice fisherman. The previous owners of the property ( now since passed away ) had also inherited the little shed and passed its history on to me. It is built on wood skids. It has been moved several times by chaining it up to the tractor. It is a sturdy, solid little building, constructed of solid 3 inch lumber.....Hey ! There's an idea.
Horse-chat topic #3
(click on headline to share pictures and descriptions of your barn or one you just love!)
Grain and supplements are tailored to each horse. .......
From the high performance, upper level dressage horse to the ponies and the trail horses. Each has a different nutritional need. Protein levels, fat content, vitamins, minerals are all considered. Not to worry. With today's technology it's most of the time a matter of reading the label and common sense. Like grocery shopping for the family.
Mucking stalls is better then paying for therapy...
Why? Try picking out a stall and not letting your mind immerse itself into deep analytical thoughts of yourself and the world and the universe at large. This is real spiritual labor! It is in itself soul quenching and anti-oxidating! Forget that you get a good workout and build muscle without having to pay a dime! I have help of course in this labor of love. At my age, 30+ stalls would be too much spirituality! The labor of mucking stalls continues through out the day with all the horses receiving fresh bedding. All the water buckets and automatic waterers are cleaned and checked as well.
Horse-chat topic #4
(click on headline to share your views!.)
Horses are social beings.....
They love to interact, tease, exchange back scratching, argue and share quiet comaradery. They live in the wild in herds. Much like humans they seek the company of others of their species. Some get along well, some have an immediate dislike towards each other. Young ones are either patiently endured, ignored, or reprimanded for their excesses. Older horses are respected for their wisdom and sense of composure. Of course there are the renegades, crotchety seniors and divas among them. The range of personalities are as wide spread as in humans.
Horse-chat topic #5
(click on headline to share your story and pictures with us!.)
But as social beings horses need to be allowed to interact as much as possible. The barn is designed in a manner to allow this in a safe way. The barn design also provides maximum ventilation and all the horses enjoy sunlight at least part of the day. I do not believe that airtight, dark or artificially lit environments are conducive to happy horses. But beyond this type of interaction, the horses must have some free time to graze, roam and enjoy each others companionship. They are turned out to large paddocks. Some in groups and some by themselves with neighbors. This is the time they can run around, stretch, roll and kick up their heels. Each horse has his particular needs in this regard also. Knowing their personality and behavior is key for keeping them content and safe.
9 am and its time to hit the trail.....
There is nothing like it.... is there? Blue sky, mountains turning orange and strawberry, fresh fall air,... the sun warming your face. The steady clip clop of my favorite mare Evita enjoying her walk. This is part of the exercise that is carefully planned for her. She is my retired 3 day event horse.
Horse-chat topic #6
(click on headline to share your trail riding story ad picture!)
(click on headline to share your trail riding story ad picture!)
She is 17 years old and looks and acts like she is 6. She is also an ex race horse and a thoroughbred.
This is a great time also for me to loosen up and stretch before I start the training sessions of the day. Hacking out or trail riding is great for the mind and soul. Both the horse's and mine. It keeps things in perspective and grounds you. The time allows me to remember how lucky I am to be part of this life, how much beauty there is just to be appreciated. Evita already knows this. She enjoys looking around and taking it all in. I keep her at a steady forward walk and the gentle hills add to her workout. She unconsciously puts her feet down carefully and precisely. Years of mountain and desert adventures have taught her this.
We return to the barn feeling fit, fresh and relaxed. A good rub down and grooming and Evita returns to her stall to finish her breakfast.
Quote for a Monday
" To seek the wind's power, the rain's cleansing , and the sun's radiant life, one needs only look at the horse" Anonymous
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