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July 2000

Your Horse Barn - DVD
on a Small Acreage
Horse Housing
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Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
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This newsletter is a personal letter from me to you,
a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.

My goal is to send you interesting stories and helpful seasonal tips for your
horse care, training, and riding.

Happy Birthday Richard!!

Where is the Summer Going?  

     I simply can't believe July is already here which means it is time to celebrate Richard's birthday. (See more about the Renaissance man Richard in the Puzzle section below.)  I am a real kid when it comes to celebrations so I love when Richard's birthday is here!  BUT it also means that summer is nearly half gone and there is so much that I still want to accomplish!  Horses to train, trails to explore, additions to build, fences to renovate, photos to shoot, videos to script, articles to write, clinics to visit.......well here's what I've come up with.  

     I'm not going to be able to "do it all".  So rather than getting the "swamped" feeling, I'm going to take a good look around and view the big picture.  I'm going to enjoy what is right here, right now - and that includes spending some special, no-agenda time with my horse buddies.  Whenever I do that, it is like taking a deep, refreshing breath; a big drink of life.  

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)  

"There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse."
Robert Smith Surtees (1803-1864)  

So if you feel like you are just going around in circles with your riding or training or you're up against a wall with an unwanted horse behavior or stressed out by a health problem, droughts, floods, grasshoppers or deadlines, take the time to smell your horses!  



Teaching the Suckling Foal to Lead
Buying Hay
Comments on Clinicians
More on the Pico Search Tool
New Postings on the Roundup Page
Our Recent Magazine Articles
Coming Attractions


Teaching the Suckling Foal to Lead

     In my last newsletter, I talked about early handling; if you haven't read that article, start there.  The early handling pays off when it comes time to take the foal out in the big world on a halter and lead rope.  You can do this at a few days of age with a sturdy foal that has no leg problems.  If a foal is weak or has crooked legs, your veterinarian probably wants you to keep him confined anyway, so you can continue handling in the stall but postpone the actual leading lessons until the foal is somewhat older and sturdier.  But don't wait too long or the foal might be too much of a handful for you.  Foals may only weight 100# when they are born, but by the time they are a month old they are well over 200#, so don't procrastinate.

     Sherlock is demonstrating part of the leading progression I use with foals.  He was 2 weeks old at the time these photos were taken.To see the 3 photos that go with this discussion, go to Sherlock's Page 2 and follow along.

     Before you get to the stages shown in the photo sequence, be sure you follow the progression in the June newsletter.  Now you will want to conduct the lessons out in the wide open spaces.  I like to tie the mare near where I am going to work for two reasons: to give the foal confidence and to test the thoroughness of the foal's training, going toward and away from the mare.

     I like to use an adjustable rope halter for very young suckling foals as they tend to fit better than most web halters.  As you can see from the photos, the halter is made from a very thick, soft rope. I add a browband to all my foal halters to keep the crown piece in position at the poll.  Otherwise the halter would slip halfway down the foal's neck where it would be ineffective.

     In the top photo, I am leading Sherlock with something that I call a foal "suitcase".  It is a way of configuring a rope around the foal's body which allows you to control Go, Whoa, AND Turning!  Cool huh?  Here is how you put on a suitcase.  You'll need a 10-12 foot lead rope as the lead rope acts as a lead rope PLUS butt rope.  With the foal haltered, bring your lead rope around the off side of the foal and encircle his rump with it.  Hold the butt rope portion in position above the horse's back with your right hand.  With your left hand, hold onto the lead rope about six inches below the snap, in the vicinity of the foal's near shoulder.  This means the rope is crossing the foal's neck/chest junction. 

     When the foal is in correct form (stopped when you want him to be stopped, moving forward when you want him to), the rope should be slack everywhere, that is, exerting no pressure.  You should feel like you are leading a hummingbird in a silk thread harness.

     If the foal needs to be encouraged to move forward, you just bring your right hand forward to engage the butt rope.

     If the foal needs to slow down, you just pull back with your left hand, and you engage the chest/neck rope.

     If you need the foal to turn left, you lay the rope along the right side of his neck.

     If you need the foal to turn right, you push the rope to the right under the foal's neck.  

     In the middle photo, I've removed the butt rope portion of the suitcase and just have the neck rope on Sherlock.  I'm "setting him up" and testing him by walking very close to his dam and because foals his age like to nurse about once every half hour, he's trying to rush ahead and push me over in her direction.  But I've stepped slightly more forward to use body language to stop him, applied the rope across his chest to prevent him from blasting ahead of me and I'm just getting ready to push the lead rope under his neck to the right to turn right.  

     In the bottom photo, I've removed all "training wheels" and we are going for it adult style.  He's learning to stay in position without lagging or jetting out in front and he's walking ahead with a decided forwardness which I like.  He feels like a butterfly on a string.  Good boy!  Time for a milk break Sherlock.  


Buying Hay

    It's that time of year when you should be stocking up on hay for the winter.  I like to have my hay delivered by stacker load as it saves labor and time.  It costs about $10-20 extra per ton to have it delivered that way but when I figure the gas, time, and labor it would take for Richard and I to go get the hay......well.....there's no contest.  Its a great deal!  We have to restack it in our barn once it gets delivered and handling those bales once is plenty.

    When buying hay, remember that good quality hay should be leafy, fine-stemmed, and adequately but not overly dry.  Since two-thirds of the plant nutrients are in the leaves, the leaf-to-stem ratio should be high.  The hay should not be brittle but instead soft to the touch, with little shattering of the leaves.  Lost leaves mean lost nutrition.  There should be no excessive moisture that could cause overheating and spoilage. The hay should be thoroughly cured. 

    Usually the farmer lets the hay cure in the bale in the field for a day or two and then in the stack for a few more days before it is delivered and fed.  Be careful about feeding freshly baled hay, especially if it contains alfalfa as it could cause your horse to suffer from a painful bout of gaseous (flatulent) colic.  Horses that are not accustomed to green, leafy alfalfa may suffer flatulent colic even if the hay is cured properly.  Make all changes to new hay gradual.  Feed 75% old hay and 25% new hay for a few days; then 50% old hay and 50% new hay for a few more days; then 25% old hay and 75% new hay for a few more days before you switch over 100% to your new hay.  That's why it is good to buy your new hay before you run out of last year's hay so you can make this gradual transition.

     Good quality hay should be free of mold, dust, and weeds and have a bright green color and a fresh smell.  However, in some instances, placing too much emphasis on color might make you pass up what might be otherwise good hay.  Although the bright green color indicates a high vitamin A (beta carotene) content,  some bales might be somewhat pale due to bleaching on the outside and may still be of good quality.  Bleaching is caused by the interaction of dew or other moisture, the rays of the sun, and high ambient temperatures.  Brown hay, however, indicates a loss of nutrients due to excess water or heat damage and should be avoided.

     Hay which is dusty, moldy, or musty smelling is not suitable for horses.  Not only is it unpalatable, but it can contribute to respiratory diseases.  Moldy hay can also be toxic to horses and may cause colic or abortion.  Bales should not contain undesirable objects or noxious weeds.  Check for sticks, wire, blister beetles, poisonous plants, thistle, or plants with barbed awns such as foxtail or cheat grass.

     Read more about hay here.


Comments on Clinicians

     I've had the opportunity to view one more clinician at work since the last newsletter.  Check the Traveling Clinician page for my comments.


Pico Search Tool

     Since we installed the Pico Search tool, I received an e-mail letter from a lady who asked me a question that was already covered in several of the articles on my Roundup page.  I reminded her about the search tool and she said she used it but there were "too many results to look through".  Well, just like any search tool, the more specific you are, the fewer results will be listed and, hopefully they will be more targeted to your question.  This will save us both some time!

     For example, when I typed in the word "bit", I got a list of 45 documents.  When I typed in "snaffle bit" and selected "Search All Words" in the drop down menu, it was narrowed to 22.  And when I was even more specific, wanting to read about "snaffle bit rings", the search produced 5 documents.  We hope you find this tool useful.


New Postings on the Roundup Page

Foal Training - Sherlock's Page (new section)


Book News and Reviews

Longeing and Long Lining including June 25, 2000 review in the New Jersey Star Ledger.


Our Recent Magazine Articles

Here's a roundup of the most recent magazine articles by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh, the "Klim-Team":

July 2000 Western Horseman
"Barn Aisle Flooring", p.170
"Why Horses Stumble", p. 124

July 2000 Horse & Rider
"Trail Riding Essentials", p. 67
"Bang Your Horse's Tail", p. 35

June 2000 Western Horseman
"Make Your Barn Legal", p. 72
"Using and Caring for Saddle Blankets and Pads", p. 138

June 2000 Horse & Rider
"No More Tears", washing a horse's head, p. 31
"Build a Desert Barn", Stable Plans, p. 42
"Effective Fly Spraying Techniques", Horsekeeping Skills, p. 46

May 2000 Horse & Rider
"The Buzz on Fly Control" p. 93
Winning Ways Horsemanship Pattern, "Ride Crisp and Savvy" p. 36

Coming Attractions 

My training philosophies, tying the foal, catching a horse, and tips on buying and selling horses.


Cherry Hill doesn't do endorsements!

    I don't accept payment to recommend or endorse any horse products in my articles, books or this newsletter.  I do, however, mention names of products that I am currently using and find satisfactory.  I do this to give you a starting point or help narrow the field.  Sometimes finding the right product or piece of tack is the beginning of the answer to a training or horsekeeping problem.

That's it for this month.

Keep your mind in the middle and a leg on each side.

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