Archive for the ‘equestrian’ Category

Freeze Dried

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Freeze-dried jeans portend cold overnight temps.

As the temps dip into the single digits tonight, I’d like to talk about slow feeders again.  Horses stay warm by the heat created during fermentation of forage in the cecum.  Calories from grain will provide energy and add fat to the horse, but giving forage helps to heat them.  Horses need small amounts of forage over long periods to keep the fermentation going.  To slow down the consumption of hay, I use slow feeders.

I showed a picture and video of the horses with a cheap, easily constructed slow feeder in May 2010.   Fudge has figured out how to strip the hay out of the small mesh hay bag pretty quickly, so I now use two small mesh hay bags over the muck bucket.  The resulting small holes mean the horses can only pull out one or two strands of hay at a time.  It trickle-feeds the horses through the cold night.  Remove the cord from both small-mesh hay bags.  Place one bag inside the other, and re-string one cord through both nets.  Add the cord loops and a two-ended snap.

Caveat:  Horses with shoes should not use this type of slow feeder, or small mesh hay nets near the ground.  The heel of the shoe will get caught in the net when they paw at the hay.


Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Many new people have found Fudgie’s blog in the past week.  The short soundbites of today’s media are not as adept at scientific concepts, lists of symptoms, or the complexities of EPM.  The blog is a stepping stone to the website.  Take a walkabout by using the buttons to the right, and get to know us.

Fall Paper Chase

Fall Paper Chase ©EPMhorse

Empathy for the EPM Horse

Sunday, July 18th, 2010
The Absinthe Drinkers, Edgar Degas

The Absinthe Drinkers, Edgar Degas

This is how I have felt for the last six weeks.  This is what Lyme can do to a person.  I had no desire to get off the couch.  I needed to sleep at least 12 hours per day.  I had a lot of pain through the neck and back.  Dinner?  Bring it home.  Cleaning the stalls?  Tomorrow.  Posting a blog?  Not necessary.

I simply could not perform the usual tasks, even if I was asked to do them.  The medicine tastes terrible, and does really nasty stuff to my digestive tract.  I have very strange neurological symptoms.  I now have an extra dose of empathy for the EPM horse.  Now I more fully understand the plight of the diseased horse.

My doctor couldn’t diagnose it.  The initial bad flu symptoms were taken as viral meningitis.  The Lyme test came back negative, even though I had classic symptoms with a rash.  The wait to see a specialist is more than two months.  I found out there is more than one recognized course of treatment for Lyme.  I got caught in the politics of Lyme, without even knowing it.   Sound like EPM?  It ought to.

I’m feeling somewhat better now, and will try to keep up with the blog.  Absinthe will play into my story.  Fudge’s story has a new chapter…

Slow Food – Fast Health

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Horses evolved to eat full stem, sparse grasses, while on the move.  A few stems here, a few steps, a bite there, a 1/4 mile, then another few stems.  The grasses on the Steppe of Asia were dry, sparse, and mixed with broad-leaf plants.  The near constant walking aided the digestive tract.  The near constant, slow-intake grazing matched the slow, but steady output of gastric acid in the stomach.

Fast forward to domestication, and current stable practices.  Horses are often stationary in stalls 12 to 24 hours per day, with large amounts of food placed in the stall twice per day.  They eat the available food quickly, in large mouthfuls.  Then they wait… and wait… and get impatient for the next feeding.  Their stomachs are on fire with gastric acid, and no fiber to digest.

Field board often solves some of these problems, with the ability to move and steady intake of forage.  It can also create other health problems with unlimited access to lush grass.  The slow food movement has entered the equine world.

Slow Feeders involve limiting the rate at which the horse can consume the available hay.  Spreading the consumption out over time means fewer problems with stomach acid upset.  Feeding grass hay means fewer problems with insulin resistance and laminitis.  Feeding near the ground means less choke.

We recently built a slow feeder for Fudge.  It is based on a pallet design, and was built with left-over scraps from other projects.  Yes, we have more left-overs in the barn than we do in the ‘fridge.  We did have to purchase (2) 2″x6″x10′ boards to complete the project.  It took three hours to cut and screw the pieces together, and three hours to coat it with opaque stain.  (Note to wives:  the 3-hour trip to shop in Home Depot for 2×6′s is not included in the time estimate for the project.)

The design is a box the size of a pallet, 48″x40″, and 36″ high.  The top is a grid made from 2 layers of hog-panel.  The layers are adjusted to produce the smallest holes possible.  We have used wire ties to temporarily connect the hog-panels together, while we see how fast the horses can consume the hay.  After some observations, we will tack-weld the layers together.  This design will easily hold two square bales, and can hold three if the bales are inserted on their side.

The bottom line:  the horses consume the hay slower, they are entertained for longer during the day, and I am making fewer trips to the paddock to put out hay.  The downfall is that the horses stand in one place to consume the hay.  Stay tuned for the next farm improvement – Paddock Paradise, and it’s use for an EPM recovery.  I highly recommend the book, “Paddock Paradise,” by Jamie Jackson.

Best site for more information on Slow Feeders and Paddock Paradise:

Pallet base, small wood strips to limit bottom holes added later.

Pallet base, small wood strips to limit bottom holes added later.


2 sides on, (2) 2x6 uprights on each corner

2 sides on, (2) 2x6 uprights on each corner


uprights are screwed together and to pallet base

uprights are screwed together and to pallet base


On side, ready for stain.  2x4 top rail added for stability of sides.

On side, ready for stain. 2x4 top rail added for stability of sides.


Hog-panel grid, 2 layers adjusted for small holes.  Will connect with chain and snap inside box

Hog-panel grid, 2 layers adjusted for small holes. Will connect with chain and snap inside box


If I had to do this again, I would try to find a liquid goods wire pallet, or a liquid goods plastic pallet (both have sides), and modify it for use.  Make sure that any feeder has sides high enough to prevent the horses from getting their feet inside.  Make it heavy enough so they can’t tip it over, and strong enough to resist kicking.

I’ve Got Sole

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Fudge’s first natural Hoof Care Trim was performed by Dawn Willoughby, and he has had two maintenance trims by me in the first month.  Scroll down to the last post to compare the pictures.  It has been a very wet summer in the East, and like many, I’ve had my share of problems with thrush.  We are working on this. 

Note the stretched white line on the outside of his hoof, near the 100% quarter crack.  Fudge has an old injury above the hoof and may always have problems here.  When his hooves got long using a pasture trim, the crack opened.  I have rasped a Mustang roll to the white line to try to take presure of the hoof wall on both sides of the crack.

Fudge’s heels are long due to the thrush around the frog and contracted heels.  It is a work in progress.  I have not lowered the heels.  The picture of the sole shows the new concavity forming.  The rasp was used across the wall and sole, but only touched the wall.  The toe has been backed up by vertical trimming to the white line, and the hoof is taking on a more rounded shape.

Fudge's right front hoof after 3 trims

Fudge's right front hoof after 3 trims



Right Front note injury and quarter crack

Right Front note injury and quarter crack



Right Front sole, stretched white line

Right Front sole, stretched white line