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February 2010

New 'teeth' in rules threaten 4-H rides

FORT COLLINS, Colorado – Working group members bristled at Larimer County staff Monday night over new “teeth” in proposed stable zoning rules, which could also affect other rural zoning.

Among scenarios debated:

  • Not-for-pay events, like 4-H rides, triggering county review of the landowner, even if their property is not a stable.
  • Labeling as “equestrian events”, any event where fees or services, like painting the arena or jumps, are exchanged for riding privileges. (In the new rules, equestrian events trigger county review.)
  • Tracking down all non-compliant equestrian operations and potential equestrian operations, and if they have not applied for county review within six months, start code-enforcement proceedings against them.
  • Removing “use-by-right” for people that board just a few horses.
  • Removing a 50-percent fee discount that had been proposed in a “transition program” for existing stables.
  • Requiring land stewardship/resource management plans for all stables, and possibly for horse properties in general. (The county would provide templates and guidelines.)
  • Requiring construction of paved roads to stable parking areas.
  • Requiring documentation of client numbers or vehicle trips.
  • Adding “growth management areas” to the mix, which could make it harder for a horse operation to get approval.
  • And defining what, exactly, is a “horse”? A riding horse? A retired horse? A boarded horse? A lesson horse? A pony? A full-sized horse? A mini-horse? A donkey?

“If this is what we’re going to adopt, then let’s just throw the whole thing out and just take Boulder’s

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Horse operations: Agriculture?

Survey Results MyHoofprints February 22_2010 copy FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- MyHoofprints readers see horse facilities as an important part of agriculture, a belief that runs at the core of the debate over what regulation, if any, should control their operations.

The group in charge of developing new land use rules for horse operations resumes activities at 6 p.m. tonight in a working meeting with Larimer County staff. The challenge will be to juggle public approval and historical precedent while coming up with a plan.

Historically, the county has turned a blind eye toward horse operations’ land use unless somebody complained. More than a year ago, the county renewed its quest for a regulatory system based on

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Fencing fracas: Tips for sanity

Twists - the WORST way to splice or link electric horse fencing.
A jumper-point on the fence, where we had connected another pen to the circuit. Never just twist the wire.
The other day I answered my cell phone -- my first mistake -- to learn that the horses had ripped down the hot wire in Turnout #3 and several boards were broken along the fence line. This was only about the four-kabillionth time. I groaned and made nasty remarks about horses and wood fencing, which was actually my first real mistake. 

We should never have built with wood back in the olden days when the fence first went up. Wood beats pipe for looks, but horses will trash wood fencing in an instant. Horses are worse than the beavers that plague us. It would be an interesting speed contest: a beaver with a tree v. a horse with a wood fence.

Anyway, a contributing factor to the problem of our fences was that, over time, band-aid repairs to our hot wire, aka: electric fence, had reduced it to near total failure. The wire no longer carried much, if any of a charge.

The horses scoffed at the wire, and since two of the horses on the other side of the fence are mares, everybody likes to flirt, play, kick down and chew boards when bored. Grrr. And you thought you wanted to board horses. Note to self: House geldings only or build a pen in the hinterlands for the mares.

Gregg, a wonderful guy -- I may someday share our story -- peeled me off of the ceiling and said not to worry, it would just be work, not rocket science, to get this right.

Electric horse fencing tips:

  1. Turn off the fence while working on it. (I have forgotten this little detail.)
  2. Never splice two broken wire ends together by twisting. The space between the twists just shorts things out.
  3. Never use baling twine as an insulator. (Don’t laugh.)
  4. Support your sanity by spending a couple hundred bucks now to get the right tools.
  5. Build a pipe fence.

Guess what? It worked! About 10 days later, the fence remains intact!

You might also enjoy the story about the retired nuclear physicist who started a 1,348-acre brush fire with his fencing experiment.

Check out our photos, below, for more details. If this helped you, please:


Clamp - the better way to splice electric horse fencing.
Instead of twisting wire for splices, use proper clamps.
Fence stretcher - like having two, really strong extra hands to hold and stretch the wire in your electric horse fencing design.
A fence tensioner tightens loose wire, and holds ends in place for splicing with clamps. I would not recommend this brand of tensioner. I cannot find a brand name on it, but avoid it if you can. Wire slips when using it, and the stiff mechanisms lead to pinched fingers.

Clamping tool pinches the wire splicing clamps, which helps prevent shorts in electric horse fencing.
A clamping tool tightens splice clampsand prevents electrical shorts.

Nails or staples - the WRONG way to secure corner insulators in electric horse fencing.
Do NOT staple or use nails to secure corners.

Long screw-eyes - the strongest way to secure corner insulators in electric horse fencing.
Long screw-eyes are best for anchoring corners.

Plastic corner insulators - a different model we at Poudre River Stables are trying for our electric horse fencing.
This type of plastic insulator does not roll around in your hand like others.

Solar charger - more expensive than plug-in chargers for electric horse fencing, but requires no electricity, and therefore not vulnerable to power failures.
Solar chargers like this one are more expensive, but they pack a punch and don’t require electrical runs.

Clipping your cool

Magic sticks his tongue out at the new clip job - MyHoofprints.  One of our residents, Magic, has been working so hard lately that he gets sweaty, and can’t dry out. This is bad. You don’t want your horse sitting around in below-freezing temperatures with a wet coat.
The solution? Give him a hunter clip, which leaves hair everywhere but where he sweats a lot.

One great way to sedate a horse: Use a bag full of grasss hay. - MyHoofprints
Magic wasn’t too thrilled when his owner embarked on this project, but rather than fight with him, she used the ultimate horse sedative – a feed bag full of grass hay.

If you have never clipped a horse before, be sure to get experienced help. I’ve used Oster clippers my whole life and been well served. For whiskers, and touch-ups, the little battery-powered pocket clippers by Wahl  are great.

Previous MyHoofprints articles: How to deal with a horse that hates clippers

Stable land use rules: We're back!

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- After being shot down by Larimer County planning commissioners months ago, the group in charge of developing new land use rules for horse facilities will take up its work again,under renewed support from county commissioners, who have the final vote in the process.

The rules are expected to create a new playing field for county horse facilities.

The clash between Larimer County government and property owners with livestock goes back many years. Urban development introduced neighbors who don't like smells and other "environmental impacts" livestock operations produce.  Historically however, the county has protected agriculture and turned a blind eye toward horse businesses, unless there were complaints.

The working group and county staff will meet Monday, Feb 22, 6 -9 p.m. in the Carter Lake Room, 1st Floor, 200 W. Oak.

Planning commissioners tabled a vote on the working group's proposal in November, citing the need for more teeth in the rules, and questioning the makeup of the group itself.

Since then, county staff have been working on their version of recommendations, one county commissioner has resigned to take a new job, two working group members have split from the group to form their own dissenting "report", and rumors had circulated that the working group was dead.

Previous MyHoofprints stories on the issue.

Manure happens ... and it's good stuff!

You do need proper equipment to manage the manure. We use an old , tustworthy John Deere 950 for all sorts of land stewardship chores!

Read also: What to do with all that lovely manure

Let’s face it. Manure can be a problem when you manage horses, and call me crabby, but in my mind, unless you know how to manage the stuff, you cannot call yourself a true horseman.

Outside of water and shelter, manure probably represents the biggest challenge on the place, especially of you count regulatory bodies of local government and suburban constituents, who do not appreciate manure's potential.

On the other hand, manure can also be your biggest asset. Manure success story #1: Last year, we used wind-row composting in our Pooh Lane, and spread the results on a section of my neighbor’s hay field. The hay that got the compost grew more lush and green than

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Baby-kissing Morgan should try politics

Baby-kissing Morgan Billy Blue, co-star of the novel, Winning Bet. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Billy Blue, co-equine-star of my novel, Winning Bet, should get into politics. Going through the film footage of our Saturday book signing at Jax Ranch and Home in Loveland, Colorado, I could not believe the number of babies this horse kissed or tried to kiss. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, check out the video clip at the bottom right side of my Amazon author’s page where Billy, a registered Morgan, meets his new “sweety”.

In case you missed my subtle handling of their literary roles, Billy and his dam, Bonnie, are real horses featured in the fictitious setting of Winning Bet.

Shoppers’ response to the two horses “saying hello” in front of the Jax store was overwhelming. “They ought to do this every weekend,” said one man. I forget that not everyone gets to say hello to a friendly, limpid-eyed equine at the drop of a hat. People hunger for that magical equine touch. Watch the video. You’ll see what I mean.

Mr. Z attaches to face of book-signing celeb

The marquee advertising the Winning Bet book signing at Jax, Fort Collins, Colorado. (Click photo to enlarge.)

I looked in the mirror Saturday morning about 30 minutes before the Winning Bet book signing, and the zit bulged out, nicely reddish, above my upper lip. Nobody gets zits above their upper lip but me. It never fails. Give me a high-stakes appointment, and I will show up with Mr. Z.

A newbie book signing celeb, I really didn’t think to get nervous about the book signing until a party the night before when people came up to me and told me they saw my name in lights every night this week when they drove home. Jax Ranch and Home stuck me up on their billboard. Serious stuff, one’s name up there in giant letters for the world to see,

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