Mouse-proof grain storage: Just file it!

Dani the Horse checks out her new grain storage solution - file cabinets and baggies - at Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521

I spent weeks trying to find affordable individual grain storage solutions for our stable feed room, which suffered from several problems.

  • We were plagued with spilled grain and other supplements luring mice, which in turn left their disgusting poop “signatures”.
  • Our horse owners loved, almost more than anything else, I think, to tinker with their horse’s grain ration, and constantly changed plans, resulting in confusion.
  • Various buckets of supplements lined our feed room shelves, labeled with faded felt-tip ink horse names, and cryptic feed instructions decorated a dry-erase board above the shelves. It was hard for me to figure out, and find, who got what at feeding time, let alone other people. My gut said horses were not actually getting what was intended.

I knew other stables did this, and I wanted everybody to start providing their own pre-


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Drip irrigation hand saver

If you've ever tried to attach drip fittings that are cold and stiff, you know it can be a hand killer. Whenever possible, I use Dripworks supplies. They beat anything you can buy off the shelf, but since Dripworks us online only, at least in our town, you do have to plan ahead and remember to order supplies before you start your project. Another secret to slipping fittings together easily is a can of WD-40 sprayed at the fitting joints and an old blow dryer. The dryer heats up the plastic and makes it soft. A good way to recycle that old blow dryer. Easy Lock fittings from Dripworks:


Simple horse show food shopping list

We can survive all day on the items in this photo. (Click to enlarge.) Showing horses takes a lot of energy and fluids, and a big ice chest full of food and drinks from home keeps us going while we’re on the run. Nobody has time the day before the show to cook up a gourmet picnic, but we do have time to make a quick run to the grocery store for this simple list. (Click on photo to enlarge.) We buy a bag of ice or dump the bin from our freezer into the chest and then put everything on top of the ice, starting with drinks, and leaving the lighter, crushable foods at the top. Things that you don’t want to get damp should go in heavy-duty zipper bags for protection. We like to put everything, even non-refrigerated items, in the chest so they are easy to find. For us, this menu works better than typical concession food -- donuts, pastries, hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, potato chips, candy, and carbonated sugar drinks -- which leave us feeling tired. We still love the junk so we bring petty cash to

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Pocket halter catches 'em

The awards committee at our saddle club came up with a neat party favor one year, the pocket Click to enlarge. halter. A finely braided strand of rope, about eight feet long, attached to a metal ring, and boasting a leather “tail”, the pocket halter will be part of my “going out the door” gear from now on. It fits in the large pocket of your barn jacket, and serves many purposes. As the name implies, it becomes an instant halter, ready in seconds to catch the wayward horse or other critter. You would not want to tie a horse in this arrangement because you could squeeze its head off. On th

e other hand, the slip-loop on which the halter is based provides nice pressure for more subtle showmanship training. Click on our Adobe Flash Player Pocket Halter slide show to see how the pocket halter worked for us.

Pocket halter's "Blue" Christmas

Sponsored by: Poudre River

Deadly impact: Skull - 1, Helmet - 0

The outer shell of the helmet cracked and fell away from its foam inner shell. (Click to enlarge.) (Originally published July 2009.)

The Thoroughbred gelding had been jumping the green and white, two-foot flower jump for days. This was just another routine schooling. As the horse cantered the line, his rider balanced over the balls of her feet in a classic two-point. She shortened the reins for better contact, looked ahead, and prepared herself for liftoff. The horse pricked his ears toward the jump, boldly cantered forward, then skidded to a halt, swerved right, then left, then right and, feeling his rider come unbalanced, scrambled away from the jump. She hauled on the reins, but the gelding continued his mad scramble. The rider slammed to the ground, head first. She didn’t move. Others in the arena ran to help, but seconds later, she stood up on her own. She was shaken and covered in the mud of the puddle her body hit.

Except for a bad case of road rash, and later, a stiff neck, she was injury free. Somebody started laughing. Pretty soon everybody in our arena started laughing, partly in fun, partly in relief. As the rider tried to pull muddy strands of hair out of her face, she unstrapped her helmet. She stopped laughing. A six-inch spiraling crack fractured the helmet’s surface. (Click on picture to enlarge.)
Those of you who think you don’t need one, think again. My daughter’s helmet saved her life today.
Read also:
Traumatic brain injury survivor Courtney King-Dye opens helmet conference
Fractured skull: She vows to wear helmet next time
Check out this life-saving video: Every Time, Every Ride

SmartPaks video: How to properly fit a helmet

(Karin Livingston was a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and is the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet.)

A living hero

     For a true story about heroism and hope, read Molly the Pony. This little gray mare survived Hurricane Katrina only to be abandoned and later attacked by a pit bull. Infection set into the wound and her front leg was amputated below the knee. Molly is a living gift to us all -- and a reminder that we must never give up hope.

Sponsored by: Poudre River

See the YouTube video: Molly the Pony, 10 years later

Happy horse tails: Inexpensive tail bag

Click to enlarge. Sometimes you just need to play. Horses, especially the well-schooled veterans, get sick and tired of the drill. Turning these ground poles into a serpentine backthrough caught my gelding's attention, and made him a lot brighter for the rest of the ride. Going bareback put us in better touch with each other, too. Note: A lot of people ask me about the tail-in-a-sock. This is an inexpensive version of the tail bag used to protect horse's tails. Get an extra-tall, knee-high athletic sock, snip the top four ways for ties, and you have a tail bag. At last check, this horse's tail dragged ten inches on the ground. Be very careful of tail bags -- at least once a week you must check, clean, comb the tail with your fingers and rebraid. A neglected tail can be an injured or dead tail. (Click on the photo to see a larger version.) Want that beautiful tail? It takes a long time to grow, so start now!

Nail puncture: What NOT to do

(An ad-free version of this blog is available as "Hoofprints" on the Amazon Kindle e-reader.)

Let USDA know how you feel about its farm programs

If you ever had an idea on how to improve the USDA, this is your chance to get it out there. The American Farm Bureau Federation is conducting a survey to determine how well USDA programs serve farmers and ranchers. You don't have to be a Farm Bureau member to participate. The survey is open to all farmers, ranchers, and producers nationwide.

According to the Farm Bureau, your feedback and comments will remain anonymous. 

Take the survey.

Sneak peak at horse health questions any 4-H'er can answer

image from

These 10 horse health questions come from the Colorado 4-H Horse Project Manual. The one about horses drinking water even beginner 4-H'ers can answer, because hey, no water equals one sick or dead horse. Answer all 10 of these with the right answer, and you earn the coveted All Star 10 badge at our sister site, Mane-U! Answer 20 horse health questions correctly, and get the Mane-U horse health badge! Share badges online with friends (and people you really want to impress).

All-Star 10 Horse Badge from

Sneak peak:

  • Which is a nutrient important to horses?
  • How much water does a horse drink daily?
  • How long is the horse's small intestine?
  • What is one function of the horse's mouth?
  • How can sharp points on horse teeth be fixed?
  • What is the pipeline from the mouth to the stomach?
  • A choking horse requires what?
  • A choking horse will not what?
  • The cecum, large colon, small colon and rectum make up what of the horse?
  • What do horses require in their diet for the gut to function?