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Purina Goes Pink

Purina Goes Pink

If you use Purina feeds, by now you’ve noticed the pink bags. About a month ago we noticed the first batch and ended up coming back from the feed store with a trunk full of pink (we primarily use Purina Strategy and Equine Senior). I was surprised and impressed at how big a commitment they made – all of their livestock feeds at the feed store are pink right now in support of breast cancer awareness and in support of breast cancer research as part of their Pink 50 campaign in September and October this year.

Are the bags pink in your area?

Cool nights return

Cool nights return

Late summer was very warm here in east Tennessee. With temperatures in the 90s (Fahrenheit) and humidity greater than 70%, I admit I haven’t been very interested in doing much with our horses for a while. Tonight, as we headed out to feed horses, a noticeable change was in the air. If the weather forecast is right, cooler temperatures have returned, at least for the next 10 days, with highs in the 70s and lows in the upper 40s. I’m not a fan of winter, but fall is a nice break from the humidity of summer and now that cooler weather is returning, we’re looking forward to completing some projects around the farm and to riding our horses again.

How about you? Have you been waiting for the return of cooler weather to get out and ride/finish barn projects or are you a hardcore, ride anytime of year kind of of person?

Now I Feel a Little Bad About Deworming My Horses

Now I Feel a Little Bad About Deworming My Horses

I have a bad habit of holding things in my mouth to free up both my hands. This afternoon I stuck the cap to a tube of Quest Plus dewormer in my mouth – with the inside of the cap facing my tongue. I couldn’t even see a trace of the gel (it’s orange) on the cap, but I sure did taste it. NASTY!! Made my tongue and lips numb too. I did feel bad giving it to Valentine after that – but keeping him parasite-free is more important than saving him from nasty-tasting stuff. So be sure to worm your horses on a regular schedule, preferably under your vet’s advice…just don’t put the cap in your mouth.

If I could do it all over again, here’s what I would change

If I could do it all over again, here’s what I would change

HindsightMany of you have followed the Our First Horse blog for the more than four years we’ve been around. You’ve read about us starting with our first horse (Valentine), purchasing our second horse (Moonshine) soon after and later our third and fourth horses (Romeo and Cash). We started out as total newbies with a nice horse barn and a decent fenced property and gradually, slowly we gained knowledge and experience. And I’d like to think along that way we gained wisdom, as well. It’s a piece of that wisdom I’d like to share with you today.

Someone once said that hindsight is 20/20 and this we have all proven in our lives. After more than four years of horse ownership, I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve made some poor decisions, especially early on. I love all of our horses and have no interest in selling any of them. We’re emotionally attached to them now. But even though we can ride any ride-able horse and even though we know how to take care of them, we’re in a way still beginners, unskilled and without a lot of time. I had an epiphany recently. For people like us who don’t have much time but love horses enough that they want their own, it’s better to buy a well-trained, excellent horse right in the beginning. What we should have done was spend $5,000-$10,000 each on two already-trained, good horses. There, I said it. Our horses are great but they need a lot of training. The trouble is, I need training, too, and I don’t have a lot of time for me to learn, become an expert and then train my horses.

So if I could do it all over again, I’d start out with better trained horses. I’m certainly not giving up on our horses and we will invest time and money into training them. But there are days I wish I could just saddle up any of them and head off on the trails (we can mostly do this with Romeo). So my advice to you if you’re a beginner looking for your first horse – save your money and invest in lessons for you (critical) and a well-trained horse.

For those of you with horses, do you agree/disagree? What would you do differently in hindsight?

OFH (Our First Horse) on Twitter

OFH (Our First Horse) on Twitter

In addition to being on Facebook, Our First Horse is now posting updates on Twitter. Both Twitter and Facebook are great tools for getting quick updates. Detailed posts and pictures and videos about our horses will still be shown first right here on OurFirstHorse.com while quick musings and anecdotes about our crazy first time horse owner life will be posted on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll update all sites when something new is posted on the Our First Horse blog, of course.

To follow Our First Horse on Twitter, visit http://twitter.com/OurFirstHorse and choose “Follow.” We’ll see that you’ve done that and if you Tweet about horse things too, we’ll follow you back. That link will live over there on the sidebar so it’ll be easy to find.

Also, we’re working on a new website. Time flies and the other day I realized this design has been up for more than three years. That’s pretty stale in internet terms so behind the scenes we’re working on a new design. When we get past the alpha stage, we’ll open it up for you to see in beta form before making it live. We’d love to hear your comments.

OFH (Our First Horse) on Facebook

OFH (Our First Horse) on Facebook

If you’re a member of Facebook, please check out the Our First Horse Facebook page. While much of the same content will end of there, we’ll mostly be making shorter, quicker updates there. Don’t worry, we’ll still keeping this blog format but I often feel like sharing some small tidbit and I don’t like filling the blog up with tiny posts, especially because many of you subscribe by email and get an email notice every time we post something. With Facebook we can make those small posts and communicate back and forth with our “fans”. So please check out our page and become a fan!

Junkyard Horse?

Junkyard Horse?

For the past few years we’ve been passing this junkyard on our way up to the big city for provisions. One day we noticed piles of horse poop so we paid a little more attention next time we went by. Sure enough, there was a horse in there! I have never before seen a “junkyard horse”. I wonder if he bites. 🙂

URGENT: 186 Horses in Tennessee Need Help

URGENT: 186 Horses in Tennessee Need Help

This is an email I received as a member of Back Country Horsemen. I’m posting it as I received it, without doing any research on the situation, because of the very close deadline (Monday, August 3). If you have questions, contact the sender directly, as we here at Our First Horse don’t know a thing about this situation. I hope some of you out there can help:

Subject: URGENT 186 Horses & 30 Mules Need Help in TN
Date: Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 7:23 PM

—fwd—
If anyone can help, please email Diana ASAP with the number of horses you can house, thanks. Her email is voiceforhorses@ wmconnect. com
Hopefully more of these horses can be saved!

I am forced to get involved in a horrible situation in Gallatin, TN [near Nashville – OFH] involving 186 horses and 30 mules. There is a rescue that has spoken for all the mules, so we are looking at a desperate situation with horses. HSUS says if we ask for their help, they will euthanize the horses, and they will euth any that we can’t get out of there. HSUS willing to take care of prosecuting the owner, but seems to think saving this many horses is not possible. A dog rescuer named Maureen, who knows nothing about horses (her rescue took 70 dogs from the place) has contacted me for help, and she has bravely determined that the horses won’t die. She had no idea from there what to do next, but her dog rescue volunteers have found trailers and drivers to deliver horses, and have recruited horsie friends to care for the horses that can’t travel. Vets are currently getting Coggins Tests on every horse, and are worming every horse. Unfortunately, the ones that would be best to bring here (because of my vet abilities) can’t make the trip for a while. The rescues in TN all together have arranged to save 40 horses, leaving 146. Can you help me save them? I think if we all network like we did last year, we can do this! The horses are all handle-able and sweet.

There are Quarter Horses and TN Walkers. There are many mares in foal. Maureen thinks maybe 20 mares in foal, but she is trying to sort how many of what as we speak. She thinks there are some ponies as well.

Here is my question for all of you:The trip to our facilities will be too much for most of the horses. I have 44 horses at Horse-Angels currently, and we struggle as always with grain, hay, farrier, bedding, and medication costs. We have lots of land, but these horses need shelter and many sound like they need a stall in my barn. I can put most of my recovered and healthy horses outside if I can afford more sheds for our pastures so that stalls can go to the neediest guys, and I can put the stronger arrivals in my paddocks and isolation area. If I can get 30-40 here to get stronger for a couple weeks, can any of your rescues (or others you may know of that are good quality) commit to taking some? Can you each give me a number that you could house, and I will get those, plus what I can handle, transported here? I will get them strong enough to travel (I will keep the weakest ones here and sort stronger ones for your rescues), and hopefully within 2 weeks , they can be picked up to head north. I don’t know if the volunteer transporters that are currently hauling from TN will still be available to help by the time they can travel, so you would have to find transport. My goal is to get as many out as we can through our networking. That would be great if we could save them all. Realistically, I’m thinking maybe we can get 40 out. Can you help do you think? They want a number by Monday so they can start getting them out before HSUS steps in and destroys them.

Oh yes- there are some elk as well if anyone is interested. Elk can have tuberculosis, so you would want them tested before bringing them home! Thanks so much!

Diana Murphy
Founder/President
Voice For Horses Rescue Network
PO Box 566
Toledo, Ohio 43697
(419) 247-0025
www.voiceforhorses. org

New Farm Animals

New Farm Animals

It’s almost spring and we have some new animals to celebrate around here. Our kittens are getting bigger and are about ready for mousing duties. We caught one eating a small bird. Mikki pointed out that without barn cats we’d probably end up with barn snakes so cats it is.

We acquired a new goat when a goat momma in the area decided she wanted nothing to do with this little fur ball. The owners were going to kill the poor baby goat so Mikki rescued it and agreed to take on the responsibility of bottle feeding it for many weeks. She is pretty cute (and the goat, too). She doesn’t walk – she hops around, frolicking and prancing like a…well…like a kid.

Moonshine saw Maizy and had a cow (haha). So we let them sniff each other. Neither was impressed.

I don’t know where she gets all of the energy but it sure is fun watching her frolic.

Any new animals around your farm this year?

Stray Horses!

Stray Horses!

We went to get hay on Saturday from our favorite hay supplier, Grammy. We were down to about 6 square bales – yikes! – so it was past time. Grammy’s farm is down some winding country roads back in the boonies. We were heading home down one of those meandering, narrow roads when we saw a mare and foal in the front yard of a house. I often see horses and think, “Dang! Those horses are loose!” – only to realize that there’s a barbed wire fence around them. But this time, they actually were loose.

Luckily, they were just grazing in the yard and didn’t seem inclined to wander…but we know from experience (twice!) that there will most likely be some wandering to come, and probably some road-crossing too. So we pulled into the driveway and knocked on the door. No answer. Bill tried to get close to the mama but she wasn’t having it. I went into the barn behind the house and tried to find a lead rope. I saw a couple but they were tied to the barn, obviously being used as cross-ties, but given the situation I decided since I’d already trespassed I might as well untie a lead rope too. So I did. I also noticed that one stall in the barn was empty with the door wide open.

I headed back out to the front yard with my lead rope and filled Bill in on the barn situation. Mama saw the lead rope and shied away. We decided we’d try to herd them toward the barn, so Bill got behind them on one side of the house and I went around the other side to keep them from just rounding around it instead of going into the barn, which was behind the house. They unfortunately ended up cornered against a barbed-wire fence. This was a little scary, since up to this point Mama had avoided anyone coming toward her. But she started grazing quietly and didn’t seem afraid, so I decided to just take it really slow and see if I could get closer to her, making it clear to her that I was aiming for her and not her baby. So I talked to her for a bit, then walked up slowly until I got a hand on her flank. She was okay with that, so I petted her side, then her back, then her neck, then her head…then got my hand on her halter. She very obediently lifted her head and let me put the lead rope on her. Then we led her and baby up to the barn and into the stall without incident.

We left a note at the front door telling the residents what we had found and what we had done, noting that we hoped the horses were actually theirs, and left our number. We haven’t heard anything yet. There was a sign in the barn with a name, the title “farrier,” and a phone number, which we wrote down. We have called the number a couple of times with no answer.

This incident, combined with the previous ones, has reminded us that we need to make sure that if our horses get out, whoever finds them will know where they belong. The sign in the barn was a good idea, and we’re thinking about putting one in our barn with our names and phone numbers on it. (We’ve considered halters with name tags, but we don’t leave halters on our horses so that wouldn’t be very effective.) It also reminded us that we need to step up our plans for an electric fence!