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Horses in the Summertime 0

Isn't summer such a great season?  Although I'll admit I tend to stand in front of the A/C vents a little more and my car feels like molten lava, I love that when people think of Summer they think of Fun.  I know I do.  Wasn't it Kenny Chesney who said, "It's a smile, it's a kiss, It's a sip of wine, it's summertime"?  I think of driving home from work down a country road, rolling down my window to let the sweet air rush through my fingers and listening to the sound of loud crickets.  Lake-filled days with friends and fireworks.  Or walking up to the barn to feed the horses during the sunset and being captivated by the competing smells of Honeysuckle in early summer and Mimosa Trees in late summer.

Summertime Pasture

Whatever your memories and treats of summer this is an especially fun time to be with your horses.  Long days are great for long trail rides, and show competitions are in full swing. Although it offers plenty of hours of fun, summer can be a dangerous time and can lend itself to an uptick in cases of dehydration, colic, or respiratory diseases for your equine.  There are a couple of things that you can do to help your horse make it through the heat so they love summer too...

Rain Rot: Part Two of Water Issues 1

Although it has been a couple of months since my last post, I still want to continue the conversation about Rain Issues.  Texas has seen a full mixture this year.  Floods, droughts, extreme heat (especially around Christmas), you name it.  We always like to joke that if you don't like the weather, stick around, it will change in a couple of hours.  Last blog we discussed the issues of Hoof Rot, or Thrush in horses.  In this write up I would like to concentrate on Rain Rot.

Rain Rot for horses, also known as Rain Scald in cattle, goats, and sheep, is a very common skin infection caused by the bacteria dermatophilus congolensis. dermatophilisThis prickly little organism is an actinomycete, which is fancy for it behaves like both bacteria and fungi.  Once the organism finds it's way to the skin of the animal, Rain Rot typically needs it's preferred weather conditions to multiply.  If I was this microorganism, I would live in southern Florida.  Not just because it's nice to retire there, but because the warm air, plus adequate rainfall, and super high humidity means this little bug can have a full on party.  The infection is not life-threatening, but if the skin condition is left untreated the animal could be susceptible to...

Rain, rain,... why all at once? Part One 0

We've all heard the saying, "Rain, Rain, go away, come again some other day."  It is usually a taboo saying in Texas during the hot summer months that generally bring scorched earth and temperatures that leave your car's steering wheel molten lava ready to strip you of your finger prints.  This year, however, the rain has been coming all at once.  We will have weeks of nothing but mosquitoes followed by a wet deluge that has me thinking about opening an air boat business for the morning commute.  Water is filling reservoirs, homes, pastures and breaking hearts.  With the Tax Day flood that occurred in the Houston area fresh in my mind, I struggle to think of all the troubles that Louisiana is facing.  The rising waters threaten not only the people's lives and homes, it also hurts countless animals.  Even if your area is not being flashed on the news due to historic flooding, a wet pasture and constant rain can cause a perfect environment for bacteria to have a field day.  I wanted to discuss two issues in this two part series that our four-legged livestock will be facing with the current wet and sticky environment: Hoof Rot and Rain Rot.  

First we will discuss Hoof Rot.  Hoof Rot, also known under the alias of Foot Rot, Pododermatitis, or Thrush for horses, can be a major issue for all of the livestock standing in pastures that have constant puddles, or standing under trees all together in a mud-manure mixture.  This highly infectious condition...

Equine Colic: Nutrition Part 2 0

colic horse

As promised, we are continuing our discussion on equestrian nutrition with a specific focus on equine colic.  Colic is one of those words that brings up views of horses rolling on the ground, biting at their stomachs, and pawing the ground.  This common abdominal disease ranges in severity from mild, needing a single dose of medication, to severe, sometimes leading to the animal's death.  I hope to teach you what the most common causes are for colic, symptoms that can help you recognize that colic is occurring, and the treatments that your veterinarian will take your horse through.  On that note, I am not a veterinarian and this article is a result of researching credible sources and sitting through lectures because sometimes I miss school.  :)

First of all, what is colic?  Colic by definition is used to define abdominal pain in general, hence why it is also used to describe a human baby's abdominal discomfort.  In horses it is used to describe a serious condition mostly caused by Spasmodic (gas) or Impaction in the digestive system.  As discussed in our last nutrition blog, horses have a one-way flow when it comes to their digestive tract.  Once food, water, or dirt enter in, they have about a three day journey until they find their exit.  A horse that is allowed to roam freely in a pasture is less likely to have colic issues than their stalled counterparts because they are moving more and they are eating small amounts all day.  Stalled horses have a tendency to not move as much and to eat quickly when they are fed, both of which can lead to a higher occurrence of colic.  Other causes of colic are: dehydration, over feeding, irregular feeding, sudden changes in feed type, bad feed,...

Electric Fencing: R-E-S-P-E-C-T! 0

electric fencing

When I was little we had an electric fence running the bottom of our cyclone fence to discourage our dogs from digging under and escaping to grand country adventures.  A few times I got my ankle a little too close to that buzzing wire and *zzzt* I got shocked resulting in plenty of laughter from my brother.  Although not pleasant to touch, electric fencing is one of the safest and easiest ways to protect your horses and livestock because it demands respect.  It only took those few times of contact before I was acutely aware of where my ankles were in relation to our wire and our dogs always stayed within their fence.  Ropesforless.com recently started carrying Patriot and Stafix products and we wanted to share with you why we think electric fencing is the perfect accessory for your pasture or yard.

Unlike a physical fence, an electric fence can act as a psychological barrier to the animals providing more respect for the fence line.  Electric fencing provides a safe and effective alternative to barbed wire or woven fences and results in less injuries  Not only are they able to safely keep your animals from getting out, but electric fencing will also deter/protect against trespassers and predators from getting inside. This type of fencing is known for its low maintenance, ease of construction, long life and flexibility.  One of the main reasons we were so excited to bring on the products is the possibility of being able to use them while on the road.  Whether you are going trail riding or to a rodeo,...

What the Hay? A Lesson in Nutrition: Part 1 1

horse

Did you know that your horse has the inability to vomit? This was a totally new thought for me as I sat in the lecture for “Healthy Happy Horse” at Texas A&M listening to Dr. Josie Coverdale, a Professor in Animal Science. The horse digestive system is a strict one-way flow: Mouth→ Esophagus → Stomach → Small Intestine →Hind Gut → Caecum → Large Colon → Small Colon → Exit.  Once it's swallowed, it's in, which is why colic can be such an issue.  If you are really curious about how all of this digestive stuff works, I found this 10 minute sciency video that explains with diagrams the tract that food takes in your horse. It's very interesting and Dr. Teitzel has an Australian accent, which I think adds to the overall quality of the video.  

https://youtu.be/tuzTJ77IQAY

So this raises an important question: what do you feed your horse?  I'm not an equine nutritionist, but I have always tried to provide the best forage and grain supplement for my horses.  It is important to remember that, just like humans, horses tend to function best with small frequent meals, hence why they prefer to graze all day long. They should be eating a minimum of 1% of their body weight daily and of that 1% at least half (if not more) should be dietary fibers such as hay and forage. Grain is meant to be supplemental and should not be a replacement for forage.  If you’re like me, you’ve heard that stat before and then looked over at your horse cocked your head to the side and asked the very important question, "What do you weigh?"  This question has always brought up the image of the carnival game where some brave contestant is standing before a giant scale and a Carnival Worker is trying to guess the exact number before the scale reveals the true answer.  Ideally you...