Do you remember the horse that taught you so much? Maybe he belonged to a friend or neighbor, maybe he was a lesson horse at a barn you went to, or perhaps he was the first horse you ever owned. These horses, our equine trainers, played a unique role; they set the foundation for who we have become as horse-people.
They taught us the meaning of respect. They gently made us responsible for our actions. They even improved how we communicate. Through their generosity, these horses endured our clumsy pursuit of balance in the saddle, our requests of them that weren’t clear even to us and countless experiences that are on our ‘first’ list (my first canter, my first jump, my first show).
They showed us the joy of accomplishment and humbled us just when we needed it. They started us on a path to learning and our lives wouldn’t be the same without them.
Perhaps you are still enjoying your equine trainer, or maybe your education has surpassed their abilities. Maybe they have passed onto greener pastures, but you will always remember them for what they brought to your life and how they shaped who you are today. So this is an ode to those horses who have given us so much and asked for so little in return. Thank you for all you have done for us. We are forever in your debt.
Farewell to Widgy, my equine trainer: May 1982 – June 2010
Welcome to July! We are in the full swing of summer with heat and humidity in many regions of North America. The higher temperature and moisture levels common this time of year can make feed freshness a challenge, requiring extra attention to how feed is stored. Read on for a few tips on storing horse feed for freshness, and see how well your barn is set up to store feed.
Many of us purchase feed by the bag and transfer the contents into a container which is kept in a feed room or designated area of the barn or shed. The container that feed is kept in as well as the location of the container play an important role in how well the feed stays fresh.
If possible, use of a waterproof, seal-able container to store your feed. The container should be able to keep pests such as mice and insects from enjoying an “All You Can Eat Buffet” on your dime. A waterproof container will insure the feed stays dry if there is unexpected water leakage into the area.
The location that the feed bin or container is kept is also important. If you have a designated feed room or area in your facility, check to see that it is not exposed to unnecessary moisture such as a leak in the roof or sweating pipes overhead. Elevating the bin off the floor will help keep feed dry should there be rain-in or minor flooding. Also, check to see if your feed bin is sitting in the hottest part of your barn or shed. For metal sided buildings, this could be the South or West wall which receive the strongest of the sun’s rays and tend to hold heat longer. Relocating the bin to a cooler or dryer area will go a long way in keeping your feed fresh.
Whenever possible, try to practice inventory management of feed in the form of FIFO; an acronym which stands for First In First Out. FIFO is a method to manage the freshness of perishable goods such as produce, baked goods or dairy products. The premise can also be applied to feed, where feed already in the bin is fed prior to the feed that was just purchased. Also, between feed rotations, periodically wash and thoroughly dry the container to help get rid of build-up at the bottom. Using this method can ensure that the feed you are scooping has not aged beyond its ideal shelf life.
Taking some time to check these few steps will go a long way in keeping your horse feed fresh. Stay tuned for a future post regarding factors that impact the shelf life of your feed! Until then, happy riding!
Like many of you, I am fortunate to have my horses in my life. But having horses often means giving up time for other parts of my life, such as going out with friends, cleaning the house (oh darn) or other hobbies. Horse people have a saying: if your house is clean, you’re not spending enough time in the barn.
I was fortunate enough to grow up on a small hobby farm with horses. My parent’s told me that if I wanted to have horses as a ‘grown up’ that I needed good grades in school, to get through college and get a good job. Horses are not exactly a low investment hobby, so I followed their advice. Now that I have the degree, career and horses, time seems to be the biggest constraint.
There is a certain amount of irony to this; the job that pays for the horses is the biggest thing that keeps me from spending time with them. I don’t believe that I am alone; countless other professionals or college students must have this same struggle.
During the week, I get home after a long commute (I live out in the country so my horses can be with me), feed the horses, clean the barn and check fences. If anything has been broken, it gets fixed. Add in time to feed and care for the dogs, myself and it’s already late in the evening, nearly time to go to bed just to get up early for the long commute to work the next morning.
My solution so far has been to ‘schedule’ my saddle time. Weather permitting I designate an evening during the week after work to be ‘horse night’. If I’m too tired from work, I will only do grooming or ground work. So instead of cleaning the house, walking the dog or weeding the garden, the horses get their much deserved attention. This is a sacrifice I’m willing to make; I’m sure the weeds will be there tomorrow.
What do you do to strike the balance in your life?
Have you ever noticed how passionate a horse owner is about horse feed? Granted, there are some folks I’ve met who are indifferent, but more often than not, when I ask a horseperson about their choice of horse feed, eyes brighten up and energy increases as they explain why the feed works for their horse.
As a 20+ year horse owner, I can certainly understand! The connection we have with our horses is unlike any other; the enrichment of having a horse in your life is difficult to put into words; achieving dreams and beyond, teaching us the entire way.
Recently, I read an article about a Miniature Horse stallion named Buckeroo, standing at Little King Farm in Madison, Indiana. This horse not only changed the business of Little King Farm, he changed the lives of Ed and Marianne and their family by opening up the world of possibilities (literally!) all the while teaching valuable life lessons: “to respect, be loyal, take responsibility, see things through with dedication and (he) taught them with love.” This stallion created an international business that has fulfilled Marianne and Ed’s dreams and then some.
The story of Buckeroo resonated with me as one example of how horses can make our dreams come true. Henry David Thoreau once said ‘Dreams are the touchstones of our character.’ How passionate are you about fueling your dreams?