What Do You Do with the Pee and the Poo?

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Many horse people (yes, we’re strange) enjoy the smell of horse manure.  It’s kind of “essence of horse,” and ranks right up there with the smell of saddle soap, a sniff of freshly baled alfalfa, and the scent of the horse himself.  The smell of horse urine, though, falls into another category entirely.  It’s called the “yuk” category.

Prim with this year's new manure disposal site behind her.  (Photo by Charles Hood)

Prim with this year’s new manure disposal site behind her. (Photo by Charles Hood)

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How to Clean Your Horse’s Stall or Corral

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Although these may not be the first questions you think of when you decide to buy a horse and keep him in your backyard, you need to think about them now, before you buy the  horse.  The real first questions are, what’s the best, most efficient way to clean your horse’s stall or pipe corral, and where do you dispose of the waste?

One of Prim's first roommates--a goat named Franklin.  The corral is 24' x 24' and bedded in shavings.  (Photo by Joan Fry)

One of Prim’s first roommates–a goat named Franklin. The corral is 24′ x 24′ and bedded in shavings. (Photo by Joan Fry)

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How to Buy a Horse for Your Child

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Since I own horses, people are always asking me how old their child ought to be before she starts to take riding lessons.  But since I’m not a parent, I don’t really know how to answer that question.  I’d probably say, old enough to be coordinated and to follow directions without asking, “But why?”  I know of one child who began riding at the age of three.  Horse trainers’ children tend to start earlier than other children simply because their parents 1) know what they’re doing, and 2) they have a suitable horse.

This trusting, trustworthy old gelding probably taught many beginning riders in addition to this lucky little girl.  (Photo by Joan Fry)

This trusting, trustworthy old gelding probably taught many beginning riders in addition to this lucky little girl. (Photo by Joan Fry)

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How to Buy a Horse

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With the economy in such bad shape, you might think this would also be a bad time to look for a horse.  Actually it’s a good time.  According to horse rescues and other humane groups, horses are being abandoned by their owners in record numbers.  Other, more conscientious owners, are willing to give away their horses—particularly those older than ten or fifteen—to “good homes only,” or sell them for very little money.  If you’re a first-time owner, especially if you have a steady income and were a horse-crazy teen, it might be the perfect time to buy a horse.

The foot closest to viewer is a club foot.  Compare the heel to the heel of the hoof   on the left.  The angle of the club foot is completely different.  (Photo by www.horseadvice.com)

The foot closest to viewer is a club foot. Compare the heel to the heel of the hoof on the left. The angle of the club foot is completely different. (Photo by http://www.horseadvice.com)

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A Day in the Life of a Backyard Horse Owner: Day #2

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It’s one of those days that you know will happen, you just don’t think it will happen to you and one of your horses.  But one day you find yourself clutching the phone, thinking pick up, pick up! as it rings and rings.  (Actually it only rings twice, but to you it feels like twenty.)  When you do get a human’s voice, you struggle to control your own.  “This is an emergency horse call,” you say.  “His eyes are swollen—the left one is nearly shut—and his nostrils and lips are swollen too.  He has no temperature.”  As you hear yourself talk, you try not to think about, let alone mention, the obvious: it’s snake season.  Was Gunsmoke bitten by a rattler?

Even a first-time owner would know something awful has happened to her horse.  (Photo by Joan Fry)

Even a first-time owner would know something awful has happened to her horse. (Photo by Joan Fry)

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Breakaway Halters

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Breakaway halters are useful if you have a horse that has to wear a halter all the time.   The most common reason is because the horse bites.  If he’s already haltered, you can snap a leadrope directly to the halter while standing at his shoulder, where you can deflect a nip.   I also use a breakaway halter on Prim, my old mare with the dropped fetlocks, when I turn her out to self-exercise.  (She never lets Gunsmoke out of her sight, which is the reason I turn him out in the arena first.)  When I let go of her leadrope (a very short one, called a “catch rope”) and cluck, she gallops towards him and they circle the arena a couple of times, Gunner on the inside, Prim on the outside.  It’s short, so she can’t step on it and trip, or get it snagged on something.   Even if she did manage to do that, her breakaway halter would do its job and break.  Unlike Gunner, she doesn’t wear it all the time—just when I turn her out.

The throatlatch of this breakaway halter is fastened to the top ring of the cheekpiece by a snap facing in (and into the horse's face) instead of out.  This breakaway halter is defective. (Photo by Joan Fry)

The throatlatch of this breakaway halter is fastened to the top ring of the cheekpiece by a snap facing in (and into the horse’s face) instead of out. This breakaway halter is defective. (Photo by Joan Fry)

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A Forgiving Horse

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A forgiving horse is one that, for example, sees a raven fly out of a bush right in front of him, gets frightened, and shies.  But instead of staying scared and running back home, out of control, your horse forgets about the raven and remembers that you taught him to obey you instead of his natural instincts.  He’s willing to put his trust in you again.  But there’s another kind of forgiving horse.  This horse has often been unfairly reprimanded or mistreated, usually because of ignorance on his owner’s part—and he forgives her for it.

Hand-feeding a horse that bites, or threatens to bite:  Not smart.  (Photo by Andrea.)

Hand-feeding a horse that bites, or threatens to bite: Not smart. (Photo by Andrea.)

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