This week, we hear from Debbie Hight. She is a former BHPS board member, horse owner, and occasional guest columnist for Cayuse Communications. She writes from her home in Maine, where she cares for dogs and horses, especially her lovely Morgan mare, Roxy, who was a demonstration horse at the Summit in Maine in 2019.
Greetings from soggy Maine, the rainiest June that I can ever remember. While it has seemed to keep the bugs down, no one can harvest hay, and we are about two weeks behind now and the forecast is not looking any brighter.
So, this is just another challenge in the world of horsemanship. But listening to the Best Horse Practices podcasts, you will be entertained and find answers to questions that you may or may not have. A recent podcast on DIY projects around the barn and farm highlighted the fun of being resourceful and cheap. That spirit of resourcefulness resides somewhere in all of us, and often sprouts from real need.
Quid. Another four letter word in the world of horses. My retired standard bred racehorse, Post Card Jack is now 33. When he turned 30, I noticed occasional quidding. I’d respond with various selections of hay, an occasional bute, and he’d be back to normal. Visits from the vet and tooth fairy indicated a wearing away of teeth, but nothing extraordinary, given his age. There was some thought that putting a speculum in his mouth may have caused some kind of misalignment, that ultimately resurrected itself.
This spring, he began to quid excessively. I had just dewormed him. Had the syringe in his mouth caused a misalignment? The vet came to check, saw nothing out of the ordinary, suggested maybe TMJ. I had a Masterson practitioner come and while he loved the work, no chewing miracles occurred. Fortunately, we were just getting the beginning of spring grass, so I sent him out during the day, though it was “different” and he spent a good part of each day in the run in, not eating.
Introducing resourcefulness… I tried several of my pieces of equipment to chop hay. The hand pruner failed miserably. Hay caught in the chain. But my hedge trimmer did the job well. I learned, after having to replace the expensive blades, that if I carefully cut one flake at a time, like brownies; flipped it over and cut the other side, that maybe I could preserve those blades. I mixed first, second, and third crop and found success. But I had to buy a second hedge trimmer while the first one was fixed. Resourceful perhaps, but not cheap.
Being a retired teacher, I dug out my old paper cutter. That chopped the hay, but it was pretty arduous. But it was there in a pinch. Resourceful and cheap. I looked into a larger paper cutter, resourceful but not cheap.
We also had an old chipper in the barn, where it had been parked for 20 years. After cleaning, a new carburetor, and I’m not sure what else (I was not that resourceful!), it started up. But it was really a shredder that forced the hay, slowly, down through a screen. We ended up with a lot of dust. So, I called the company, found they had a larger screen, ordered it, and it works. Resourceful, not cheap. But it does take more time to use than the hedge trimmer, so it is there as backup.
Hay chippers that landscapers use to cover new lawn would have blown hay everywhere. Scratched that idea. Apparently, there is a roof shingle cutter that might work, moderately priced, but I haven’t resorted to buying one of those yet.
I learned about Lucerne Farms hay products at the Best Horse Practices Summit. Jack didn’t like the first bale I bought, but he will eat the High Fiber. He gets a bowl of it each night.
Postcard Jack is thriving. He still moves very well and his weight is stable. He is doing well on grass; twice daily giant mashes of beet pulp, hay extender, alfalfa pellets, and grain; Lucerne High Fiber; and chopped hay. His stall looks like a buffet table. He has freedom to move around 24/7, but he still spends most of the night in his stall. Recently, I have been experimenting with unchopped hay and he seems to be able to chew the second crop quite well. Hooray!
So, Maddy has asked for “summer projects” and I’m sure that many of you have faced quidding. Perhaps my suggestions have helped, though I ‘m sure many of the resourceful readers have found other solutions. Please let us know!