Previous month:
August 2009
Next month:
October 2009

September 2009

50% fee cut proposed for current horse facilities

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- The working group in charge of creating new land use rules for horse facilities recommended cutting application fees in half for existing businesses Tuesday night as part of a “transition program” designed to motivate Larimer County stables to participate in the new rules.
A special land use review currently costs $2,300, plus thousands of dollars in potential consulting costs for information required by the county.
The fee reduction would only apply to stables without any complaints lodged against them, and would only be available for the first year of the program.
Last month the group developed a point system that would assign existing facilities the right to conduct business ranging from use by right to a full-blown special review, with lower scores earning less review.
“What everybody is afraid of is having to spend huge amounts of money for consultants required to go through special review. If we can take out paragraphs that say you must hire an expert, said Joe Andrews. “That is going to solve a lot of those problems.”
 The group rejected a “five point carrot” proposed by study facilitator Linda Hoffman that would have allowed existing businesses to subtract five points from their total.
“All of a sudden we’re saying you can have a significant portion more (points) on this property, and to me that doesn’t feel right”, said working group member Jill Cook. “I would prefer having a more streamlined process, or a reduced fee rather than you can do more than your neighbor just because you’ve been here longer. My proposal would be that we cut the fee in half for one year.”
Working group members suggested that the county come up with ways to help applicants with issues normally handled by consultants.
The group, which does not officially vote, gave a “thumbs up” to allowing existing businesses one year to comply with new regulations.
Group members also confirmed definitions for who would be affected by new rules (hover your mouse over bold-faced type for definitions): equestrian operations, equestrian events, equestrian trainees, equestrian pasture boarding, and lesson horses.
The group also adjusted the points system that could be used to determine who would fall under use by right, administrative review, minor special review and special review.
(Calculate what would happen to your unapproved stable by clicking here.)
The formula would work as follows:

  • 14 points: Use by right (no filing required)
  • 15 – 35 points: Administrative review (a new category with undetermined fees)
  • 36 -- 50 points: Minor special review
  • 51 or more: Special review ($2,300 + consultant costs)

Under the plan, properties would earn points for the following:

  • Horses boarded or kept for training (1)
  • Number of lessons horses (0.5)
  • Number of weekly trainee visits (0.5)
  • Number of equestrian events (1)

Points associated with size of property

  • Less than 5 acres: (10)
  • At least 5 acres, less than 10 acres: (8)
  • At least 10 acres, less than 35 acres: (5)
  • 35 acres or more (0)
  • For each additional 35 acres, subtract 2 points

    Interactive comment forms on various aspects of the program are available by clicking here.
    Previous MyHoofprints coverage: Horse Property Issues.

Rabid horse: Colorado's first in 25 years

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — A rabid horse has died in El Paso County, underscoring the critical importance of vaccinating pets and livestock and avoiding wild animals, according to the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment.
“Rabies infection in horses is rare,” said Public Health Director Kandi Buckland, R.N., M.P.A. “We anticipate that the infection was caused by skunk rabies, which greatly concerns us because it would indicate that rabies is not only spreading in the county, but also crossing animal species and increasing the risk to people.”
“It is critically important for people to vaccinate their pets and their livestock against rabies and to avoid contact with wild mammals,” Buckland said. “Prevention is key because rabies is a fatal disease once symptoms begin.”
The horse, which was euthanized Friday, had lab tests to confirm it had rabies. Public health experts believe that the horse was exposed to a skunk on its home property in Black Forest area. Colorado has not recorded a horse with rabies in at least 25 years, according to officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
In addition to the horse, El Paso County has recorded six confirmed cases of rabies in skunks this year, part of a statewide spread of rabies.  Prior to this summer the last time a rabid skunk was reported in El Paso County was 1970.
The infected skunks have so far been found in northern and eastern El Paso County. “At this point, we are worried that more areas throughout El Paso County will be affected by skunk rabies,” Buckland said.
Vaccination can successfully protect your pet and livestock from rabies infection should an exposure occur. Undervaccinated pets are at significant risk for acquiring rabies from skunks, which then may bring the risk for rabies into the home.
Rabies infects the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, causing brain swelling and damage, and ultimately death. Rabies is spread primarily through the bite of rabid animals, resulting in the spread of the disease through their infected saliva. Rabies also can be spread when saliva from an infected animal gets into open wounds, cuts or enters through membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth. No cure exists for rabies once symptoms appear. Preventive medication is available for people known or suspected to have been bitten or exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal.
In addition to ensuring that pets and livestock are vaccinated properly against rabies, the Health Department recommends these prevention steps:
•         Don’t feed wild animals or allow your pets around them. Be sure to teach children to stay away from wild mammals.
•         Vaccinate your dogs and cats.
•         Contact your veterinarian to discuss vaccinating horses and other equines, as well as other livestock.
•         Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, such as skunks, bats, foxes or raccoons.
•         If you suspect you’ve been exposed to a rabid animal, contact your physician without delay.
•         If you observe a wild mammal acting strangely, especially a skunk, or if you find a dead skunk that isn’t on your property, stay away from it. Strange behavior for a skunk would include being out and about during daytime hours. 
•         If you must remove a dead skunk on your property, wear rubber gloves or lift the carcass with a shovel or other tool, and double bag it for the trash.

For more information, visit  

Rabies claims Colorado horse

September 2009: Rabies has claimed a Colorado horse, according to the El Paso County Health Department. Public information officer Susan Wheelan confirmed reports of the recent case, but had no further details. Rabies is always fatal to animals. Once an animal contracts the disease, there is no cure.
A horse with rabies could theoretically infect a human through a bite. However in humans, prompt post-exposure vaccination may stop the virus.
Whether to use the relatively new vaccine for horses has been controversial because horse owners fear possible vaccine reactions, and there have been no cases of rabies in Colorado horses for many years. Wheelan said she expected a detailed statement from the El Paso County Health Department later today.

Hair trigger: Horse hates clippers

My Morgan gelding, who is now a solid Level 4 (Colorado 4-H) Hunt Seat and Western horse with a nice show record, started life with us a bit crazed. One of the things he hated the worst was clippers. Even if we just turned the clippers on, he would raise his head out of our reach and roll his eyes at us.
This horse is 16.2+ hands tall, probably one of the tallest Morgans in the registry. When he decided he didn't want to do something, we had to figure out very creative work-arounds. We tried all sorts of bribery and even resorted to a twitch, but nothing worked. Clippings always ended in a violent contest with horse and people traumatized.
Finally, my veterinarian suggested creating positive associations with the clippers by making our horse very relaxed while clipping. He prescribed a tranquilizer for us to use the next three or four times we clipped our gelding. It worked. By the fifth clipping, we could gently clip our boy's bridle path, whiskers and legs without fearing for our lives.
We don't generally subscribe to the "better living through chemicals" approach, but this idea worked for a very tough case, and I would recommend it as long as you consult first with your veterinarian. We now keep this horse and others desensitized to clippers by making trimming with clippers a regular part of grooming, and we find the Wahl Pocket Pro ideal for this type of work.

Hay burners: What it costs to feed a horse

Just before the big recession hit, feed prices skyrocketed in our area. People began cutting out grain for their horses, switching to lower-quality hay, or selling their horses altogether. As the recession continued, people began giving horses away, and many off-the-track Thoroughbreds were shipped off for dog food because nobody would take them. Suddenly, the cash consumed by a horse’s feed needs became critical. At our stable, we have always supported feeding horses what they need, and will not tolerate low body scores (skinny horses). However, we needed a way to accurately project what a horse required, which in turn would give us a way to assess costs. Research into the Horse Industry Handbook, Feeding and Care of the Horse and the Colorado 4-H Horse Project Manual revealed that:

  1. Larger horses eat more hay (up to .025 percent of their body weight)
  2. Active horses eat more (a horse’s work schedule can increase hay consumption by 50, 100 or 150 percent)
  3. Nervous horses eat more (horses that pace or play a lot are voluntarily increasing their workload)
  4. Metabolism varies among horses, giving us the “easy keepers” v. the “hard keepers”.

We developed a spreadsheet to price hay by the pound. Our clients can request hay feed changes any time and get a pretty good idea of what their orders will cost them. Finally, we have a way to fairly price hay so that people pay for what their horse uses. Try our cost-of-feeding-a horse spreadsheet and plug in your own numbers. (We hope to expand this at some point to include grain – stay tuned.)

Read also:

'It’s difficult to care for a horse for less than $1,000 a month' - Stable Value: Putting Your Horse in a Trust

Grain storage: Just file it!

Buying a horse: 14 questions you should ask

Heat attack: Sprinklers to the rescue

Horses will position themselves right under the sprinkler spray in order to enjoy the cool stream of water. (Click photo to enlarge.) One summer, we took in a new horse, an older mare that was in pretty bad shape. Her people had been feeding her, but her teeth were bad, and she was not properly processing her food. She came to us very skinny and weak. Late one afternoon of that summer, the mare went down with heat exhaustion.
Through gradual application of cold water on her legs, and carefully moving up her body, we were able to get her standing. As we continued dribbling hose water on her body, the mare's temperature went back to normal.
This mare was proof that, like humans, really young and very old horses often have trouble regulating their body temperature to cope with the weather. When it’s hot, darker horses also may have trouble staying cool.

Besides providing plenty of fresh water, when the afternoon becomes intolerably hot, we cool our horses off with some good old sprinkler play. We lash heavy duty sprinklers to fence posts and turn on the water.
Horses will position themselves to get in the spray (click on photo to enlarge), and some will stick their noses in the water stream, and roll up their lips. Note: Never blast a hot horse directly on their body, especially in the girth area, with cold hose water. You could give them a heart attack.
Back to the sprinklers -- You don’t have to leave the water on all afternoon. In fact, purchasing timers will ensure water is not left on forever and wasted. A side benefit of sprinkler play is dust reduction, which is better for the horses’ respiratory systems, reduces erosion, and keeps nearby neighbors who may complain about stable dust happy.

Sierra Trading Post