Stable Management

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

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One reason your hay prices keep rising

Contrary Farmer Gene Logsdon highlights an alarming trend. The amount of hay going overseas is on a near straight-line trajectory. I once had a hay guy tell me his prices spiked because regional ranchers had exported their hay, which reduced our local supply, already under pressure from development. 

Overseas US hay sales 2007 through 2012

Read Gene Logsdon's full post on the true environmental and long-term costs of shipping out local hay.

Check out our photos of bringing in our own hay at Poudre River Stables.

17 horses killed in barn fire: Follow these fire prevention tips

Barn fire extinguisher - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521

“A horse standing in a bed of straw might just as well be standing in a pool of gasoline should a fire occur. The burning rate of loose straw is approximately three times that of the burning rate of gasoline. The horse in a stall where fire originates has only 30 seconds to escape.”

This quote from the Colorado 4-H Horse Project Manual is part of fire prevention tips that include sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, buying properly-cured hay, storing hay and other flammables away from the horse barn, and a no-smoking, no-matches barn policy.

Our hearts go out to the animals and humans affected in the Langley, B.C. barn fire. Click here for the full story and video.

How safe are you around horses? Take our horse safety quiz to find out.

'Slip sliding away' stopped by hay

Hay thrown down in ice-mud season to provide traction - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521

Every year we get some hay that has been damaged, usually by water. We save those bad bales for ice-mud season. You can spread the hay out when the ice starts to get "greasy" looking. The hay stalks bite into the ice and will provide traction as the ice freezes again in the cooler evening temperatures. We prefer this solution to throwing down salt or ice melt, which are hard on the hooves and can percolate into the ground or plowing snow, which while needed for heavy snowfall, creates an erosion problem for our dirt lanes, is hard on the tractor, and time-consuming. The hay on the ground looks messy now, but eventually it will compost down to dirt-like footing.

What the manure pile cooked up

Manure pile steaming - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521The process of a manure pile "cooking" is hard to describe, but the video clip above captures the process nicely, complete with rising steam. We use the windrow composting method, which basically involves keeping the pile moist, and in our case, pushing the pile periodically with the tractor bucket to keep introducing air. You can also insert perforated PVC sewer pipes vertically throughout the pile to introduce air.

Garden plants like flowers and vegetables love this composted mixture of soiled wood shavings and manure! You can see our "end product" in the distance, a much smaller, darker section. To ensure all seeds are killed, be sure to store your "product" under a black tarp for a few months after it reaches the end composting stage to really cook the seeds under the sun. Remember, never compost your manure near water. We also use our compost as valuable fertilizer on hay fields, as fill under horse sheds, to fill low spots in the lane, and to build above-ground planting areas in old stock tanks or as stand-alone dirt berms.

If you read Gene Logsdon's book on manure and its value, which not only educated me, but made me laugh out loud several times, you will understand the book's title, "Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind". Gene Logsdon also writes a great rural living blog, The Contrary Farmer.

Old lady in purple

Bonnie sure enjoys her Weatherbeeta turnout blanket and purple-plaid fleece liner! We are more "don't" rather than "do" when it comes to blanketing, but with Bonnie's old age (28?), and laminitic tendencies, we try to be extra careful. Note that her SoftRide boots are staying on nicely, too. All the horses came in early today because that 1-inch snow forecast turned into 6 inches and counting!

Bonnie in snow 4x6

Bonnie is a real-life horse character in the novel, Winning Bet, a clean read for 'tweens and teens.

Learn more about how Bonnie fought laminitis in the Founder Chronicles.

Buying a horse: Why you might pay attention to Tip #2

Example of what cribbing does to your fence.

The wood-chewing horse ate right through the original board.


The horse in these photos DID NOT do this damage, but this ruined fence is a good reason why you might think twice before buying a horse that cribs or is a wood chewer. For other important questions to ask before buying a horse, download our printable .pdf, "Buying A Horse: 14 Questions You Should Ask".

Advice from deer to horses (and humans) on GMO feed?

"Why do the deer seem to like my corn so much more than the thousands of acres of GMO stuff growing around me? For years old farmers have insisted that wildlife prefer o-p corn to hybrids, and I have repeated that in my books, but frankly I have never really believed it completely. Now that we are talking about hybrid corn that has unnatural genes stacked in it, I am changing my mind."
-- Gene Logsdon, The Contrary Farmer

It is interesting that deer turned down the GMO corn, and it would aslo be interesting to see whether horses prefer natural over GMO feed. Personally, I make it a policy never to eat berries birds won't eat, as they are often poisonous. Read Mr. Logsdon's full post, "Small Mysteries Never Solved".

Read also: Washington state voters reject labeling of GMO foods

Got Halloween?


Angel devil in all of us - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
A little of the angel and devil in all of us ...



Cow - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
Is it "neigh" or is it "moo"?



Magician - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
All in a day's work for our resident magician and her magic horse ...



Rainbow of feathers - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
A rainbow of feathers for Billy Blue, one of our Morgans.



Snow white - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
Snow White and her minions ...

Planning a horse-themed party? Try these ideas:

You might also enjoy:

Giraffes, zebras, fairies ... oh my!

Happy Halloween from all of us!