Hoof Prints and Camp Smoke


July 05, 2016

Bonnie Davis One of the concerns every horseowner has (rightfully) is 'will my horse drink when camping?'.  Personally, I've never seen a horse die from dehydration because he wouldn't drink.  But sometimes one has to help 'em along in DECIDING to drink!

Water is different in every place.  My old trail horse Sig would drink readily in horsecamps that had piped in water.  But bring him a bucket a water from a stream and he'd sip at it, look at me and then seem to say: "What are you trying to do, poison me?".  Sig was used to 'home water'. Water in the barn which was city water.  City water has all kinds of 'stuff' added to it by the water company.  So a clean stream flowing through or across a meadow was 'different' to him -- it had no added chemicals.

Usually after a couple hours Sig would drink.  Then he'd tip the bucket over to let me know that he didn't really like the water but he'd drink it anyway!  So to help your horse make up his mind to drink, here's a few tips I've used.

Try carrots or apples.  Grate up a couple carrots or apples into an empty milk carton.  Add water to about two inches from the top.  Put in freezer.  When it gets slushy, stir so the carrots and apples are distributed throughout the carton.  Freeze hard.  Then dump into a water bucket, add camp water and hang on the fence or a post for horse to test.  The water carton will begin to melt and the horse gets the taste of carrots or apples in the water.  Or just dump a small can of apple or carrot juice into the water bucket and stir. If one takes the hard frozen milk carton and wraps it in a few layers of newspaper and then buries in the bottom of the camp cooler, the carton will stay frozen for up to two or three days. Plus the frozen carton helps to keep an ice chest cool.

The next time a bucket of water is offered, toss in a couple handfulls of sweet feed or oats into the bottom.  Then slowly fill the bucket with water from camp hose or dip into steam.  Fill about 6 inches.  Let it set for about 10 - 15 minutes or while on your ride.  The sweet feed taste will 'flavor' the water.  When ready to water, fill up to about 3/4's full.  Give to horse.

Feed tubs are larger than water pails.  Before a ride, put hay into a haynet and then stuff the haynet to be fed after the ride into the tub. Fill tub to top with water.  Leave it in the water while on the ride. When back in camp, lift hay out of tub but leave it in tub.  Water not soaked into the hay will drain back into tub.  When ready to feed horse, hang net on trailer or post or where you usually feed your horse and let him eat the water soaked hay.  He not only gets fed, but has wet hay to eat -- easier to chew and after eating the horse will drink less water from a bucket because he's already 'ate' some water.  (It's a lot of like eating cereal, eat a bowl of cereal without milk and you'll drink more milk afterwards than you'd normally put on cereal.  Pour the milk on the cereal, and you'll use less milk.)

I have this 'idea' about horsecamping -- if I can't use something two ways, I won't take it camping!  Space is a premium when camping....... 

Safe Trails!
Bonnie & Nic

AAEP Membership Directory

March 15, 2016

Back in the September/October 2015 issue of “Trail Rider” there was an excellent article by Jessica Jahiel, PhD, titled “On-the-Road Veterinary Care”.  In it, was mentioned the American Association of Equine Practitioners Directory.  Have had some folks contact me about it and I’d like to endorse what Jessica says – it’s a tremendous resource for on the road travelling AND in the home barn!


I’ve been getting a copy from AAEP for a number of years.  Buy one about every 5 years because vets don’t seem to change professions very often!  My current one is a 2015.  I’ve found the quickest and easiest method to locate a vet (anywhere) is to have my OWN vet directory! 


The American Association of Equine Practitioners, the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to equine veterinary medicines, publishes the Membership Directory.  Within it’s 400 pages are valuable references not only for vets but for Medication, Equine Welfare and more.  In the 262 pages of ‘Members Listed Alphabetically’, each vet has name, address, phone number, fax, e-mail.  Also a list of ‘Colleges of Veterinary Medicine’ so one will know where the vet received his degree. 


Following the ‘Members Listed Alphabetically’, is a section ‘Members by State’.  You can find a vet anywhere in the Nation by state first, then name.  Turn back to the alphabetical listing for complete information.  Even if travelling to Canada or Mexico, there is a section on ‘Members by Country’ – want go further?  Brazil, Greece, Ireland, Australia maybe......!


To store, I keep my copy in a large, zip lock plastic bag INSIDE the trailer on one of the top shelves.  With it is a small notebook where I keep notes.  Fortunately, I’ve never had to look up a vet for my horses but on occasions I’ve loaned it to someone to use when they need a vet.  With the notebook inside, they can tear out a piece of paper, write the information on it and take the piece of paper with them!  Always in the trailer it’s easy to find and it always goes where my horses are going! 


For information on obtaining a copy I always contact the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), Attn:  Nick Altwies, Directory of Membership, www.aaep.org, 4033 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, Kentucky 40511, (859) 233-0147; (859) 233-1968 fax.


February 16, 2016

Although I enjoy riding with other folks, I’ll have to admit that the majority of my trail riding and horsecamping has been by myself – just me and my horse!  Some folks may frown on riding alone.  Or camping.  But often finding a riding/camping partner can be difficult.  And with busy time schedules, trying to get 2, 3 or more riders together can be a scheduling challenge.


Before I was married, I rode everywhere – alone.  After marriage and for 48 year I still enjoyed the solitude of riding solo once in awhile but basically enjoyed the companionship of a hubby to unload the trailer, tie the highline ropes higher without me climbing on a step stool, making coffee in the morning (I’m NOT a morning person without a cup of coffee) and checking equipment to make sure it was in road condition for hauls throughout the nation.  Since his passing, I’ve gone back to riding/camping solo and still have had the good fortune to travel, camp, ride and come back to the barn without incident and in one piece!


I’m one of those that doesn’t gallop.  Walk – more like plod – is Nic’s normal gait.  Rode Sig for 28 years and if he galloped a mile in all those years, it was a long way.  We just walked.  In fact Sig got to the point he was so used to stopping to take pictures, that the moment he heard the camera case snap open – he’d stop and wait!  Nic is to that point too.


Walking is the trail gait as far as I’m concerned.  Doesn’t take much energy for the horse to move along.  And I really believe that horses love trails too.  They get outta the barn.  Into new territory and for horses that are used in arenas for performance, it gives them a chance to relax and unwind from arena stress. 


If one rides to fast, you never see anything.  And I like to ‘see’ things.  Like the owl ‘pellets’ lying on top of rocks or fence posts.  A new fawn ‘hidden’ in the grass just off the trail while momma stands down the trail in full view for me to see – baiting me away from her baby.  And all the flowers in meadows, covering mountain sides and laid out like brilliant carpets!  After some rides I’ve asked folks what “they saw?”.  Some will look at me with a questioning expression.  Others, reply “Nothing.”.  While many will just think if they saw any thing at all.  Minds seem to be just void!  Nothing in there.


So the next time you go out on a trail, ‘see’ where you’re going.  Look around.  TURN OFF your cell phone!!  But remember to always leave a note on the windshield of your vehicle back at the barn letting folks know where you’re going and the time you expect to be back.  I like to let folks know my ‘general’ area to be ridden but most know that if I say “back by 4 pm”, they always add a couple hours to it.  Usually I’m back in the barnyard by dark not because I’m concerned of the dark but as it gets darker, Nic walks faster.  HE’S thinking about the hay in the manger and grain he’ll get when back at the barn.  And we all know horses walk faster back to the barn than away!


Stay Safe.....


Bonnie & Nic



January 28, 2016

Here in California we’ve had 4, 5 years of drought, no rain.  Creeks dried up.  Dams had no water to release.  Lakes evaporated with thousands of dead fish laying in the sun.   


The last couple months we’ve had rain.  But luckily, the rain has fallen on an almost schedule, 2 days of rain with a couple days of no rain, then another 2 days of rain and so on.  It’s allowed water to soak into the ground.  Streams are beginning to flow again.  And all the pasture horses have discovered that the sandy, pebbly stream bed is for more than a great roll in the sand and sunning in the sun.


Something old with suddenly become something new even though they’ve been through it or walked by it a thousand times!  A couple mares with foals by side walked into the water but the foals stood on the bank and fussed until they got up courage to go into the water.  Then they played in it.  First time I rode Nic down to the creek with the idea of crossing through the 10 or so inches of water one would have thought alligators were hiding under that water!  He snorted, backed up a couple feet, moved forward and when a wayward branch rushed by in the flow, he froze and stood there staring at it.  A water snake to eat him I think he thought.  Doesn’t matter he had crossed in that same spot – dry and wet -- a few thousand times before even when water was racing through it 3 feet deep.  


A couple of the horses in barn stalls just stood and watched the rain out of their stall doors.  Some stood in the paddocks with backs humped like I’m-soaking-wet-someone-put-a-blanket-on-me!  One horse was moved into an enclosed stall – no paddock – because she stood out in the pouring rain and pawed in the mud puddles she quickly made.  Once she had dug a couple good puddles and they filled with water – she laid down and rolled in them!  Others stood in nice, cozy, stalls all warm and dry while watching owners and management slosh in the rain and mud digging ditches or cleaning gutters to keep puddles and rain from flooding stalls!


But all this ‘discovery’ and ‘rediscovery’ didn’t just apply to animals.  It applied to humans too.  Some kids had never seen rain before.  It hasn’t rained that much in California since they were born.  One of the boarders brought his 6 year old grandson out to the barn.  The grandson had been out before but the weather was always dry.  Sometimes even hot.  Grandson got out of the truck with his new puddle boots, slicker on.  He stood and looked around at all the water flowing everywhere.  He held out his hand to let some of the rain drops pool in his palm and then announced excitedly, “Gosh, grandpa, it’s raining here like at home.  Can I fill my hat and give Dutch a drink from it like cowboys REALLY do!!”

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