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.
As I’ve mentioned before, Moonshine has a wood-chewing habit. She’ll nibble on our fence, especially after a meal or a snack and then she’d latch on and suck in air. Weird. One theory on why she was doing this was that maybe she was bored. Our horses spend several hours a day in a stall in the barn, after all. So we got her some horse toys, which she entirely ignored. We cut down on how much time she was in the barn and nothing changed. Eventually I had to protect her stall door with some stainless steel just to keep her from chewing on it. That worked really well (I’ll post an update about that soon) but she was still chewing on our wood fence. Another reason horses chew wood is because they’re lacking in minerals. Some horses will even eat dirt, though I haven’t ever seen her doing that. But I think we may have found the cause for Moonshine’s bad habit. For about a month now we’ve been feeding our horses Purina Strategy. For about $12 per 50 pound bag, it’s more expensive than the local feed store’s sweet oat blend but we had a coupon from the last Purina Horse Owner’s Workshop and decided to give it a try. Purina doesn’t pay us anything (we’re not connected with them in any way) so this is our honest observation. Since we started Moonshine on Strategy, I haven’t noticed her chewing wood. She’ll still lick it some but I don’t see her chewing or sucking air anymore. Purina claims Strategy provides all the necessary nutrients pleasure horses need and maybe our local feed store’s blend was missing some things. There have been some other benefits but I’ll cover those in another post.
I’ll keep an eye on her but at the moment, it seems we’ve mostly licked (haha!) this bad horse habit. If your horse has a similar habit, I suggest trying some changes to its feed mix to make sure it’s consuming a good blend of minerals.
Last week we attended a Purina Horse Owners Workshop presentation at one of our local feed stores here in east Tennessee. Purina seems to put these on annually and we attended a similar presentation last year at a different feed store. The objective for Purina is obvious: convince us to buy Purina brand horse feed. Even though we expected part of the event to be a sales presentation, we were interested in the opportunity to listen in on a question-and-answer session by cowboy and “horse whisperer” Sam Powell.
Sam has been the speaker for both presentations we’ve been to so far and I’m always impressed with his common-sense approach to horses. He advocates observing how horses deal with leadership in nature as an effective means of communicating to your horse that you are the herd leader. His most important point is that with horses, there is always a leader. Every time you meet, a leader is decided. If it’s just you and your horse, and you don’t take the leadership role, he will. There are many ways to subtly show him you’re in charge. For example, Sam suggests that you never just let your horses in and out of the barn – as we do (he says “they’re not cows”). He says to halter your horse each time and lead him in and out. When you’re letting him out, lead him out, remove the halter, then walk away. Your horse should not walk away until you do. When you let him in, lead him to the stall, stop at the door and allow him to walk in while still holding the lead rope. He will turn around to face you; then you can remove the halter and lead rope. (An added benefit to this method is that it makes it much easier to trailer a horse if he’s used to entering a space alone after you’ve stopped in the doorway.)
Sam offers lots of good advice every year. If you have the opportunity to hear him speak, we highly advise it. Check out his schedule at www.asksampowell.com (2019 EDIT: that website is dead so I removed the link. Here is a nice Sam Powell biography, though.).
Oh, and an excellent barbecue dinner was provided at no charge to participants but you have to RSVP. This year supper included barbecued chicken and all the fixings, as well as a delicious desert. Tasty and filling (thanks Purina, Critter Country and other sponsors!). Product samples and literature were available and enough door prizes were given out that it seems almost everyone won something. Purina handed out special buy-two-get-one-free coupons and other discounts to entice us to buy their brand of feed. So when next year rolls around, if we get news of another Horse Owners Workshop, we’ll definitely be signing up again. It was time well spent.
We’ll write later about how we’ve been using Omolene 100, Purina’s sweet oat blend for “active pleasure horses”. For now, I’ll say we’ve been very pleased with it, even though it is a tad more expensive than the feed store mix. More about all that later.
Have you been to one of these presentations yet? What was your impression?
By the way, we have no connection with Purina or Critter Country and were not paid anything to say nice things about them.
For more information and to see if they have a Horse Owners Workshop near you, visit the Purina website.
We recently had a recurrence of a problem with Valentine (see Getting a Room). As you know if you’ve read this blog, we have a mare and a gelding. We have a three-horse barn and their stalls are next to each other. Every once in awhile, Valentine for one reason or another decides that he wants to be in her stall. (As for what that reason might be, well, he is a guy – it’s either food or…well, this is a family show.) Since he’s 16.2 hands high (that’s 64.8 inches in people talk) and weighs about 1200 pounds, and there’s an inch of wood slats and a few nails and screws between him and his destination, it’s not too hard for him to accomplish his goal. So a few days ago, we came up to the barn to find one less plank of wood between their stalls. Again.
So this time, in addition to replacing the nails with screws, we took the simple but effective step of switching their stalls. The wall between their stalls is formed by vertical slats nailed to two horizontal planks, one at the top and one at the bottom. Moonshine’s stall was the smooth side of the wall; the nail heads were on her side. So Valentine could simply push on the boards and presto! Out popped the nails and down went the boards. By putting him in the stall with the smooth side, it made it much harder for him to remove the planks because he would have to actually break the boards. Of course, if he wanted to, he could easily do it, but shhhh…don’t tell him that.
Anyway, Valentine’s now in the middle stall and Moonshine is in the first stall. Unfortunately, after months of it being the other way around, we were bound to forget the new routine, and tonight we did. We opened the gate and let Moonshine into the middle stall. We could have just left her there, I suppose, but we really didn’t want to risk yet another replay of Getting a Room. At the very least, it’s a pain to put those boards back up, and the worst-case scenario is an injury to one or both of our horses.
So we needed to switch her into the other stall. Let me tell you, that was easier said than done. There were OATS in the feed trough. Once her head was in there, she wasn’t letting them go. Since we don’t leave halters on our horses (I’ll have to post the reasons for that someday), I couldn’t just grab her and pull her out of the stall. We tried to get her out of the stall by pushing her around. Normally that would work, because she’s actually very obedient, but have I mentioned that she really likes OATS? She wasn’t budging. I risked life and limb and stood in front of the bucket to keep her away from the oats while Bill tried to lure her out with a handful of oats, but she’s no dummy. Trade 2 cups of oats for about a tablespoon? Come on. Eventually, Bill went for the halter while I tried to keep Moonshine from eating my jacket till he got back. We got the halter on and pulled her out of that stall into the right stall with no problem, and let a very anxious Valentine into his stall to discover if there were any oats left for him. Needless to say, that bucket required a refill.