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Riley the happiest dog on the planet

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Riley is the official ‘welcome wagging’ of the farm.  He greets everyone with the same enthusiasm and love.  He runs up to them, starts the happy whining, flops on his back and doesn’t want the attention to stop.

Usually he stays at the farm during my trail rides.  Last week I brought him along.  He loved it!  Now I have to admit he wasn’t the best trail dog.  He wandered off too far into the woods, then when he went to find and catch up with us he took a wrong turn.  I told him to use your nose buddy.  Shadow my previous trial dog would always find me.  But I digress…  all was well with Riley we saw him running the wrong way and he came right back to us when we shouted to him.  “Wrong way Riley we are over here!”

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The next trial ride he didn’t want to go through the gate right away but I could hear him barking as we were leaving “what about mee?”.  So we went on the trial ride. About 3/4 of the way through he come bound up behind us.  I guess his nose worked this time.  He was so overheated from this run around the field that he jumped into the horses water trough when we got back.

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I entered one of these photos into the dirty dog contest.  If you get a chance click on this link and like his photo so he can win.  Click here to like Riley’s photo! It should open with this picture in a pop up window and all you have to do is click like and share if you are so inclined.

Thanks!

Just Cutting Grass

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Earlier this week I cut the back pastures.  Really it is so boring going up and down.  Keeping the wheel in the track of the last run. Piper came out to join me for a bit.  Which was surprising as she hasn’t done that in as while.  It is like she is taking over some of Shadow’s jobs.  The sun-setting was beautiful and the finished product is even nicer.  I guess it is an okay way to spend your evening.

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Okay… so the grass did grow

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I haven’t updated you in a while on the grass growing, probably because it is not very exciting.  The small square pasture that we built back in April – May is growing very nicely.  The horses acclimated to the track system very quickly.  They enjoy running around it and sometimes we spread their hay out in it.  The horses at the lower end of the pecking order of the herd sometimes get stuck between two “bosses” but they work it out.  Yesterday I went out to get Casey unstuck and ending up having Apple, Cuervo and Izzy follow us around.

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Check out this video showing horses in confinement vs. horses living together – primarily on track. Horses in the AANHCP Paddock Paradise show up at 2.00 into the video.

I am looking forward to Phase 2 of our pasture paradise but there are a few projects ahead of it.

Mad Dash

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While slowly getting acclimated to eating lush grass the horses in the beginning are only allowed out on the pastures for a few hours per day.  This prevents them from getting laminitis and foundering.  So as you can imagine they are very excited to get out to the grass.

First they line up and patiently wait for the gate to be opened.

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Sunbun line leader

Then the mad dash to the back pasture

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One at a time no pushing

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Run like the wind Chex

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Come on Nash and Casey.

Then after a little bit of running around and tearing up the pasture…

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… they calm down and start grazing

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Changing thousands of years of thinking

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I have spent much of the morning reading about the natural horsemanship and paddock paradise.  There are many interesting articles out there trying to change the thinking on the way horses have been domestically kept for over a thousand years.

http://www.aanhcp.net/blogs/main/12203217-perception-vs-reality-equine-myths-and-mistakes

“But sometime around 700 A.D., with the rapid development of kingdoms and castles– complete with cavalries and armies to secure or defend various geographic areas, horses had increasingly been removed from their free-roaming lifestyle and were moved into small spaces for reasons such as an easier prevention of theft and keep the horses close by in a location convenient to the desire to be able to tack them up at a moment’s notice. Of course,what was happening was the creation of the notion that it was acceptable to keep these 1,000 pound animals warehoused or ‘in storage’ so that they were easily accessible.” ~Jill Willis

So I grew up thinking grass is good for horses.  In South Florida the grass that grows does not provide enough nutrients to sustain a horse so hay is fed all year round.  In Pennsylvania the grass is lush enough to provide the sustenance they need and hay is not necessary during the summer.  I have take equine management courses where they are telling me to grow my lush green pastures and let the horses out on them.  One thing to note is a good reason for pasture management is to ensure the land is absorbing the rain water and not causing erosion on the areas where the horses have destroyed the grass by over grazing and treading on the land.

Now I am learning that too much lush green grass is bad.

http://www.equinewellnessmagazine.com/the-dangers-of-lush-green-pasture-the-romantic-myth-that-harms-horses/

“These rich grasses are not safe because they are too high in sugars/ carbohydrates.  There is a delicate balance of microbial life in a horse’s gut, and these innate, good bacteria have their own biological requirements. If not fed properly, through a reasonably natural diet, then they are subject to being dominated by harmful bacteria that do not live in symbiosis with the equine.  

The rich sugars feed these detrimental bacteria and facilitate their dominion.  Through a complex series of metabolic events, these bad bacteria release waste by-products also known as endotoxins.  These poisons travel the equine cardiovascular system, and once meeting the hoof, they initiate an enzymatic reaction that deteriorates the attachment mechanism that holds the hoof to the horse. This is commonly known as laminitis, and is the second most prolific killer of domestic horses today. ” ~Narayan Khalsa

I still have more processing to do and am not ready for full transformation to the Paddock Paradise system as it does leave me some questions.

  • How do I ensure all the horses have coverage and protection from the weather?  In the farm’s current set up only the heard leaders are allowed under the shed roof during the rain.  While the others get wet.  I know that the water will not kill them but I have seen them shivering coming in from the wet and cold.  I have also had a horse get constantly rained on in Miami that he got rain rot.  If I build shelters in various areas of the track system will the herd separate to go shelters down the track if the herd bosses have the closest one?
  • Will this concept be accepted by my boarders?  I don’t just have to decide in my mind but also see if the boarder are interested.  I guess that we can still move ahead with the concept but keep the boarders in the traditional system if they want.
  • My older horses are on pellet grains.  Will they get the nutrients they need on hay, oats and minerals?  I thought this was interesting since 3 horses on the farm are on beet pulp and the senior feed has beet pulp in it: “Throw any and all beet pulp or feed with beet pulp in the top 15 ingredients into the garbage or compost heap. Whether organic or GMO, many unshod horses are ‘foot sore’ or ‘sensitive’ on hard ground or gravel until the beet pulp is removed from the diet. This is one of the biggest waste products that you can put into a horse (with rice bran, soy, corn and various grain by-products running closely behind. They serve no healthy purpose for the horse.” ~Jill Willis

There is no way to know who is right but for now I can say that the horses at GSF are healthy, happy and sound.  So we must be doing something right.

Pasture perfect

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At long last the conditions are right for their first evening out in the pasture. They are loving every minute of that fresh grass.

New Pasture: Part 2

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For some, horses are a phase but for others, horses are their life.

We are equestrians and pasture grass farmers.

Have I mentioned to you I have a black thumb?  Some people have green thumbs and are excellent at gardening and growing things.  I am convinced I have a black thumb that kills everything. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I would rather nurture a horse than a plant. Needless to say here I am trying to get grass to grow in the new pasture.  This is the before picture.  This is how the ground looked when we started.  The fence is up as noted in the previous post so the horses can’t trample and eat the grass before it has a chance to grow.

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The next step was to scrape the field level by back dragging the tractor over all of to get the field level and fill in the hoof prints ruts.  Then we dragged the field using a pull behind rake.  It wasn’t heavy enough at first so we attached a cement block to it.

Next we seeded the pastured.  We just used the walking broad cast seeder since the areas are not that big.

Lastly we covered the field with compost/manure.  I figure this would fertilize and driving over the seed would push them into the ground a bit.

Ok we are done for the day and can let the horse back in to the ACA.  The area around the new pasture.  OH wait we forgot to close the gate!  What are you guys doing in here?  Oh rolling around will help with the seed penetration.  Now get out you lot! You are not supposed to be in here!

Now we hope for rain to start the germination process.  NO NO not 24 hours of straight rain.  Did it wash the seeds away?  Only time will tell.  I am not liking those low laying areas where rain water is still standing.

9 days after seeding let’s see what we have.  Well the weeds are growing but  I do see some blades of  grass.

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Fingers crossed the green grass grows.

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