Horse Sense

Mules: You should be licensed to own one

Let me make it clear before anyone jumps to any false conclusions that I have admired mules for a long time. For the last few years, my admiration has increased, because I have been able to witness first hand the versatility and talent that many mules possess.

My sole reason for suggesting mule owners have sufficient training is for the sake of the mules. It seems to me that they are often misunderstood and underappreciated.

Through the years, I have attended mule shows and seen these equine perform all manner of skills from western pleasure to coon jumping to driving. At my county fair, “mules” is one of the categories permitted to exhibit in the senior fair equine show.

During my participation in my county fair, I have become friends with a man who shows a team of mules. As I have watched his team perform. I have often envied him.… Continue reading

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Veterinarian: An underappreciated job

By Kim Lemmon

We all know that large animal veterinarians can be hard to find. More and more young folks are turning to careers in the field of small animal care. Usually the hours are better, and even when emergency work is required at less than ideal hours, the work is often more mental and skill oriented than geared around sweat, determination and brute strength.

I’m lucky enough to have found an equine veterinarian that lives fairly near me that is extremely dedicated to her clients. I have been a customer for more than 10 years, and during those years, we have become more like co-workers and friends than customer and health care provider.

To keep costs down, many livestock and horse owners rarely use a veterinarian unless there is an emergency. I do understand and appreciate the concerns involving the costs associated with regular or routine veterinary care, but my husband, Mark, and I decided long ago that we have no problem paying the yearly fees associated with having our vet at our barn to vaccinate, help with dental work and look over the horses because the relationship and loyalty that has developed has become priceless.… Continue reading

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Former rancher becomes jousting knight

By Kim Lemmon
Some cowboys’ days are filled with sorting and caring for cattle but this former ranch hand traded his cowboy hat for a set of armor and his lasso for a lance.
“I’m a cowboy, and I ride like one,” said L. Dale Walter, director of the jousting group Knights of Iron from Howell, Michigan. “I grew up cowboying in Northern Colorado on a working ranch in the summer. Basically, I did whatever it took to get the job done, move the cows, and keep the horse under me.”
In 1983, Walter, who was always interested in knights and armor, was approached by the Michigan Renaissance Festival to create a jousting show. This former rancher swapped his cowboy gear in for armor and hasn’t looked back.
“We had no idea what we were doing, but started working out how to joust, and not die,” he said.  “That ‘not dying’ was the tricky part.”… Continue reading

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Horse euthanasia: Guidance for a difficult decision

From a Bayer Animal Health Brochure and the American Association of Equine Practitioners,
Editor’s note: This is an important topic that is often overlooked by horse owners. Please make sure you read and consider the advice offered in this article. Having a plan in advance is always best.  — Kim Lemmon
Difficult though it may be to contemplate, there may come a time when, for humane or other reasons, you need to consider euthanasia for your horse. Choosing whether, or when, to end a beloved animal’s life may be the hardest decision you ever have to make regarding your horse’s welfare. However, it may be one of the most responsible and compassionate things we can do for our horses.
The decision to euthanize, or induce a painless death, should never be made without careful consideration. The right choice is clearly the one that is in the best interest of the horse.… Continue reading

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Gordyville Draft Horse Sale draws Ohioans

By Kim Lemmon

The Mid-America Draft Horse Sale held at Gordyville U.S.A. Auction Center in Gifford, Ill., is the place to be if you own and show draft horses in America. This sale, commonly referred to as Gordyville by most draft horse folks, is the premier halter and hitch draft horse sale in the nation.

In February of each year, draft horse enthusiasts from throughout the United States travel hundreds of miles, often with their trailers in tow, to make sure they don’t miss this yearly sale that includes some of the best draft horses the industry has to offer. This year’s sale was held Feb. 19 -22, 2013. Ohioans, of both the equine and human variety, weren’t in short supply.

Of the 432 sale horses listed in the 2013 sale catalog, approximately 80 horses representing just more than 50 consignors all made the trip from Ohio to participate in the sale.… Continue reading

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Hay Stretcher/replacement programs for horse owners

By Karen E. Davison, Ph.D., equine nutritionist and sales support manager, Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC

When drought conditions occur, horse owners may be faced with the situation of having no hay available, having hay available at very high prices or very poor quality roughage to feed as hay. None of these situations are good, but there is another option. Complete feeds with roughage built in the formula can be used to stretch how long hay will last or completely replace the hay if needed. Purina offers a full line of complete feeds to meet a variety of needs. These complete feeds include Horse Chow 100, Horse Chow 200, Omolene 400 and the Equine Family products of Equine Junior, Equine Adult and Equine Senior. Horseman’s Edge Hay Stretcher and Horseman’s Edge Senior feeds are also complete feeds.

These products have quality fibers in the proper amounts and types to effectively meet the horse’s forage requirements.… Continue reading

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Common causes of a horse’s poor body condition and performance

By Kathy Williamson, DVM , originally posted at

The first step in determining why your horse is not eating well, losing weight or failing to thrive is to examine his nutritional program. Careful assessment of your horse’s eating habits and diet may be very revealing. Here are some basic questions to ask:

• Is my horse properly taking in, chewing and swallowing both forage and feed? By observing your horse while eating hay, grass and feed, you may find that while he is taking in food he may not be actually chewing and/or swallowing it. This is especially common in older horses with poor dentition that may be quidding forages or dropping feed. The horse appears to be eating well, but in actuality the forage or feed is actually balling up in the cheeks and then being spit out by the horse.

• Is the forage high quality and available in sufficient quantities?… Continue reading

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Winterize your horse

By Katie Young, Equine Nutritionist, Ph.D., Purina Animal Nutrition

Now that winter is approaching and the temperature is dropping, horse owners need to consider how to prepare their horses for winter. During the cold season, horse owners must make sure that their animals receive proper feed, water and shelter to stay healthy and comfortable. Further, since riders usually put a lot of time and effort into getting their horses ready for shows, trail rides or other events during the warm months, if they maintain their horses over the winter, all that effort won’t go to waste and have to be started over in the spring.

Although grain does not provide as much of an internal warming effect as hay, it is often necessary to supplement a horse’s winter ration with additional grain to boost calorie supplies. In general, feeding an additional quarter-pound of grain per 100 pounds of body weight to nonworking horses will provide adequate calories during cold, windy and wet weather.… Continue reading

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Know the early warning signs of colic

By Kim Lemmon

On a pretty October evening in 2012, I threw grain and hay into the stall of my draft Percheron mare, Julie, and then I hurried along to feed the rest of the horses and finish chores for the evening.

When I fed Julie, I really hadn’t evaluated her closely. I was in a hurry and I literally just threw the stuff into her stall and went on my way. This is very out of character for me, but it was an unseasonably nice evening and I had some other things I wanted to do.

Before I headed back to the house, I took one final glance in Julie’s stall and I noticed she wasn’t eating. Instead of aggressively chowing down her meal like normal, she was just standing in the back corner of her stall. It looked like she was sleeping. Her eyes were kind of dull looking and her bottom lip was drooping.… Continue reading

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Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

By Kim Lemmon

We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” As it turns out, what it really means is appreciate a gift for what it is and don’t try to figure out its value. In the middle ages, the age and the value of a horse, was determined by looking at its teeth, thus the saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

In general, my husband, Mark, and I try to stay away from free horses and livestock. We have turned down many free horses through the years because we figured that there had to be some serious flaws with the horses that caused them to be free, but in horses and life we have learned there are always exceptions.

About two and half years ago, I closed my riding lesson business in order to pursue my dream of owning and showing a draft horse.… Continue reading

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The ugly truth about equine obesity

By Gina Fresquez, equine nutrition specialist with Purina Horse Feed

Obesity in horses is a growing problem in the United States as horses are eating more and working less. Sadly, it is a serious issue that is linked to a variety of disease conditions. As horse owners, it is important to recognize the distinction between a fat and fit horse. Most don’t realize that obesity carries risks in horses much like it does in humans. The ugly truth is that obese horses are at greater risk for health problems such as laminitis, insulin resistance and joint issues from supporting excess weight.

According to a Virginia Tech and Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine study from 2007, 51% of horses are overweight and 19% of overweight horses have a body condition of 7 or more, making them medically obese. And nearly one-third of obese horses suffer from insulin resistance. Horse owners can refer to the scoring chart provided by Purina to help accurately assess their horse’s body condition by visiting reading

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Protection and support for optimal joint health

By David Marlin, Ph.D.
Daily exercise and the rigors of competition are some of the most common causes of joint injuries in horses, which can lead to a considerable amount of lost training time. While a horse’s body has a tremendous capacity for repair, it is not uncommon for damage to exceed this capacity. In such instances, feeding a health and support supplement for joints is an ideal solution for protecting against joint damage and helping the horse’s body to repair ongoing damage.
Wear and tear on the skeletal system of a performance horse, particularly the cartilage surfaces of joints, may be an inevitable consequence of exercise or simply getting older. Degenerative joint disease (DJD) sometimes referred to as osteoarthritis (OA), is believed to increase with age and is often seen in active performance horses.
Horses’ joints effectively act as shock absorbers. They must provide a lubrication system to reduce the friction involved in movement between the joint surfaces.… Continue reading

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Is horse crazy a contagious disease?

By Kim Lemmon

Last July, I sold my remaining pygmy goats. I had raised goats for nearly seven years and although I loved the goats, I had had enough for a while.
Most folks who know me, including my husband, Mark, were shocked by my decision but I had a plan. I still owned my draft mare, Julie; a mini appy gelding, Harley; and Sid, the mini appy gelding I bought in July, but I knew I wanted one more horse — a bred mini mare.
For a couple of years now, I have wanted to have the foal experience. I wanted this experience bad enough that I sold the goats and saved up money and space in the barn in order to buy a bred mare. I was really excited.
I kept my wish pretty quiet until after my county fair and Farm Science Review because my schedule was too full to start a search for a mare and I really didn’t have time to take care of one more horse at that point anyway.… Continue reading

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FFA project leads to lifetime showing draft horses

By Kim Lemmon

If you have ever watched Gary, Greg and Mike Rowe of Bellevue show their Flat Rock Draft Horses six-horse hitch of Percheron draft horses, you’d never guess that they weren’t born into showing and hitching draft horses.

These brothers and their horses work together seamlessly and have earned several top honors at draft shows throughout the country. It can be argued that for the past several years, this team of brothers and their horses are one of the top hitches in the nation. This feat seems even more amazing when you consider that the family’s interest in showing draft horses all started with an FFA project.

When Gary Rowe joined FFA in 1989, his family had owned draft horses for a few years but they didn’t show them. Soon after Gary joined FFA, his younger brothers Greg and Mike joined as well.

Throughout their FFA career, the brothers’ combined efforts involved serving on their high school horse judging team, earning a couple of state farmer degrees and a state proficiency award in equine.… Continue reading

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Lessons in cow camp etiquette

By Kirby Hidy

When I went to work as Director of Marketing for the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), one of my first projects was the annual “Sponsor’s Round-Up.” The “Round-Up” gave the various sponsors of the NCHA a chance to “cowboy” with a two-day cattle round-up, some pasture cutting (cutting out cattle in a pasture as opposed to an indoor arena) and, of course, experiencing cow camp in the wilds of West Texas.

Some of the sponsors were from the city and had little or no experience on a horse, let alone working cattle. The NCHA made sure there were plenty of experienced hands available to help make sure everyone stayed safe and out of trouble. Local ranchers furnished horses and tack and tee-pees were brought in to give everyone a real “cowboyesque” place to sleep. There was also an authentic chuck wagon complete with a genuine cow camp cook to prepare meals.… Continue reading

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Extreme weather conditions and reduced production may affect hay quality, availability and price

By Karen E. Davison, Ph.D., Equine Nutrition Specialist, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed

Harsh weather conditions have affected hay production in many regions of the country. Pressure from high grain prices and government support of biofuel production is also causing some hay farmers to shift acreage from hay production to other crops. Short supply and high demand could lead to record hay prices in 2012. Horse-quality hay will likely be hard to find and/or very expensive.

In some regions, pastures are burned up, dry and non-existent. These pastures are a place to stay, but will not support grazing. Horses must consume a minimum of one pound per 100 pounds of body weight of hay or the equivalent in pasture to meet their fiber needs (10 pounds of hay for a 1,000 pound horse). Variations in quality or type of hay fed are significant risk factors for digestive upset in the horse.

When hay or pasture is poor quality or in short supply, there are hay replacement options available to help stretch how long the hay will last or even totally replace hay when needed.… Continue reading

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Interpreting equine classified ads

By Kim Lemmon

One of my favorite pass times is horse shopping. Because Mark and I owned our own riding lesson business for several years, we have bought and sold many horses through the years. At times the process can be frustrating, but it is always an adventure. Often experience in creative writing or an advanced understanding of interpretation of the English language can be helpful.

Lately, I’ve been shopping for another miniature horse. Mike and Ike didn’t work out for me. They were will broke but spunkier than what I needed since I’m a beginning and fair weather driver. They needed a more experienced handler who was going to drive them more often and that is where they went. I of course lost money on the deal but that’s the horse business.

I’m very happy with my draft mare, Julie, and so far I like my miniature appaloosa horse, Harley, but I still have a desire to own a miniature horse team.… Continue reading

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The ins and outs of your horse’s guttural pouch

By Andrea Lin, Information Specialist, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Veterinary Medicine

People who own horses have probably heard of the guttural pouch and the troubles associated with it. But what exactly are these guttural pouches, and why do horses have them?

According to Pamela Wilkins, D.V.M., who heads the equine medicine and surgery section at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, guttural pouches are not unique to equine species, though equines do have some of the largest. Certain species of rhinoceros, tapirs, bats, a South American forest mouse, and hyraxes also have guttural pouches.

“In horses, the guttural pouches are thought to regulate the temperature of blood arriving to the brain,” Wilkins said. “Horses have no ‘rete mirabile’ — a network of small blood vessels that regulates heat in the blood going to the brain in other animals. Without a mechanism for heat regulation, horses could easily overheat their brains when they exercise.”… Continue reading

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Don’t sacrifice your horse’s muscle to improve his waistline

By Kim Lemmon

I certainly didn’t need another horse, and I had no plans to buy another horse either. Around here though, things can change quickly.
Last fall, my friend, Christa, asked me to help her find a pony for her young children. We decided it would be a fun adventure and that I could write about finding a horse suitable for kids in an upcoming “Horse Sense” article.
We started trading e-mails and searching websites. We called each other constantly and had a great time browsing horse-classified websites. I don’t know about her husband, but I know my husband, Mark, was a little frustrated and concerned about the horse shopping.
Shortly after I started helping Christa pony shop, Mark and I attended a local auction that was selling some horse items. One of our horse friends was in attendance and tried to sell us a weanling miniature horse. I very firmly told our friend, “I don’t want another mini horse.”… Continue reading

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Interscholastic Equestrian Association

By Kim Lemmon

Recently, I was asked to steward a horse show for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA). IEA teams host team-oriented horse shows for students in grades 6 through 12. I am sometimes asked to judge or steward some their western events because of my history as a member and a coach of college equestrian teams. The format of equestrian team shows is very different from that of a traditional horse show.

I am always happy to help with these events because I often see former students, competitors and even my former coaches. It is fun and flattering for me to serve as an official for former coaches and colleagues plus I am always paid for it, which makes it even more inviting.

As a college coach, I taught and readied students between the ages of 18 and 23 for the show ring. IEA is an organization that was created 10 years ago to allow students between the ages of 11 and 19 to compete as individuals and teams against other students.… Continue reading

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