Hoof Prints and Camp Smoke

Snow, Snow, Everywhere Snow

January 08, 2014
Even though I live in California, San Francisco Bay Area we've been having what is considered 'freezing' weather for us. My house is not insolated for 28 degree cold. Most of the water pipes at the barn and around pasture are plastic -- uninsulated. Pasture water pipes are only about 2 inches buried into the ground. Heck, the pipes into my place aren't insulated so one day I hobbled out there with some 'heat tape' and wrapped them. So far, by leaving water drip a pretty good stream into the sink, have kept water running in house!

Received the following e-mail from a friend and thought I'd share some of it with you. She and horses live in Iowa:

"Unbelievable weather we are having. Snow, snow and more snow. Then add rain. And more snow. And more snow. We are in a record year for snowfall. Our yard has never looked like this before. It's beautiful - but there is no where left to push the snow off the drive way or yard. We just came through a weekend of -36 C. COLD!!! We ended up with freezing rain and our lock on the mailbox was frozen and we couldn't get to our mail."

With all this cold, snow and ice, I'm wondering (and I'll bet some other readers are too) how are folks keeping their horses warm? Extra feed? Blankets? In barns? Heated stalls and barns? Pastures?

Few years back spent a winter in Nevada where it froze and snowed and iced. Kept my horses in pasture with run-in sheds so each horse had a shed to go into. LOTS of extra quality hay, grass and grained once a day -- at night. Fed the heaviest at night since the horse's system had to work harder to digest the feed consequently keeping the horse warmer. No blankets!

I didn't use blankets because I didn't want them standing out in the sun during the day, sweating under the blankets and getting a chill at night. When I rode, took blankets off and rides were usually early morning so the horses' hair would dry and I could give 'em a GOOD brushing before reblanketing. Brushing helps to 'fluff' the hair so those close to the body 'cat' hairs keep more body heat in.

Before I had knee surgery, took a trip to Fallon to visit a friend and none of her horses in pastures had blankets. Body hair was about 6 inches long and one would 'lose' a hand in the thick, long hair. Some nights dropped to 8 and 12 below 0. She's careful and checks each horse everyday and along with extra feed, put a water trough warmer in this year so the water in the trough didn't freeze and was warm. Penny says horses are drinking more since the water is warm.

When I rode, snow and ice tended to pack into the hooves. Even the barefoot horses. So to prevent horses from walking around on a ball of snow/ice, sprayed PAM into each hoof. Some folks use oil and another friend in Georgia packs hooves with lard.

Tips of ears can freeze off. So those really low nights, I used to put socks on horses ears. Had made little sockettes that fit over each ear. They are attached together and tied on with a ribbon under the throat latch area. Unfortunately, socks didn't always match so Bud would have a bright red sock on one ear and a green plaid on the other. Never had a horse lose an ear tip.......

Send me an e-mail, horsecamping@comcast.net, and let me know how you're taking care of your horse in the extreme weather.

Take care, stay warm and safe!

Bonnie (and Nic)

On The Trail to Recovery

December 12, 2013
Ten years ago when I had my left knee replaced, it was a relatively easy surgery. I'm not sure if it's because I'm older now (which I'll never admit to) or my bones are just getting tougher, but this right knee surgery didn't go as smooth. I've spent more time in the hospital and am STILL hobbling around on 4 'legs': my own legs which are a matched set again and a walker.

Most folks can master the use of a walker with little problems. I like to think that those folks don't have to drag a walker up 5 steps before getting to the door and THEN figure out how to hold the walker, open the door, keep the door open and get through it.

I would like to personally thank EVERYONE who sent cards, e-mails, notes,? and letters. A special shout out goes to the gals from Georgia who sent me flowers; they were beautiful!? I will post pictures soon.

Pain control kept me in the hospital for a week; just couldn't get a good grip on it.? After finally making some headway on my comfort level, I developed a sudden blood clot in my calf. I now know how Nic felt when he had a blood clot a few years back -- like a pin cushion. A few days of blood thinners helped to dissolve the clot and I was able to return home.

Now, I love my grandson. He's a good kid: my go-to-guy when I can't figure out my computer. While I was in the hospital, he decided a new computer would be a great PRESENT for his grandma. He just forgot I'm still trying to figure out the one I got 9 years ago. So, I came home to a bright, new, HP desktop with printer and all the lastest computer 'knowledge' in it.? Only problem is that I'm not very computer savvy.? For example, I can't even copy an e-mail yet, still struggling along trying to figure things out.

All in all though, I'm on the trail to recovery. Thanksgiving Day I went to the barn and saw Nic for the first time in 9 weeks. That's a long time not to hug your horse! I stood in the corner by the gate and just talked to him. We discussed where we're riding this year and I promised him that I'd keep up on my rehab (exercises) along with doing MORE camping and trail riding.? I'm not getting any younger and neither is Nic. I don't think there is anything more sad in life than to say "I wish I would have..........".

So, keep telling me about your favorite camping spots and I'll do my first "Horsecamping" clinic in February at the Horse Expo in Pomona. I'm really looking forward to it -- minus the walker! And to Gladys in Texas, yes, I even used my walker as a 'training aid' when I was walking with Nic in the arena. Just make sure your horse isn't spooky or better yet, have someone walk with you the first couple times (my daughter, Becky, went with me and we just walked around the arena).? Nic sniffed the walker, rubbed his nose on it and then followed me around.? I never became worried about his pushing or shoving because Nic knows his "space" and he stays in it.

My advice: stay healthy and if you get sick, take care of yourself.? Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the barn corner.? Again, thanks for the messages and most of all for being a friend in my time of need.

Bonnie (and Nic)

Bionic Bonnie - Replacing the Other Knee

October 22, 2013
I'm going into the hospital Tuesday for a complete right knee replacement. Had the left knee replaced about 10 years ago. It was one of the best things I did......so replacing the right knee is going to be the next best thing I'm going to be doing.

Over the summer my knee has been getting worse and worse but when it gets to the point that I can't get on Nic because knee locks up, it's time for a replacement. When I had the left knee replaced, finding a surgeon to do a knee replacement especially since I WAS going to continue riding became somewhat of an issue. Had a couple doctors tell me they wouldn't "replace the knee if I continued to ride". Seems horseback riding is in the same category as sky diving, skiing and a few other 'dangerous activities'. Then another told me "you're a little old to having a knee replacement and then want to continute riding, aren't you?". My reply, "No. And I don't make cookies or own an apron either!". My grandma image is mucking stalls and mixing grain mashes!

After 'talking around', met Dr. John Jaureguito. He's a horseman so he understands the issues that face us trail riders when it comes to getting on, getting off and spending hours in the saddle. His daughter is involved in rodeo and Dr J as he's referred to is interested in mounted shooting. He's a firm believer that a 'new' knee or any replaced part shouldn't stop one from doing something they love. It might slow one down till they adjust, but stopping to do something should never be an option!

When I mention to people that I'm having a knee replaced, people always ask if I plan to keep riding. I tell 'em "YES" and then go into my 'soap box' talk about never being to old to do something if you really wanta do it. Calendars measure time, not a person! I'm not to proud to admit that over the last 10 years I've used rocks, stumps, sides of hills, trailer fenders to get back on. And have walked up to half a mile to find that 'somthing high' enough to get back on Nic from the ground! I do not believe one ever wastes time when you're with your horse -- either on his back or just walking along side looking for something to use as a mounting block. My horses and I have had lots of general discussons walking down a trail until we find THAT rock or tree stump.

So Tuesday morning at 9 am it's 'out with the old'. In 'with the new' and I'll bet someone out there has had the same feelings I've had. Sometimes we feel like we're the only one in the world facing something -- I felt that way about a month ago after trying to get on Nic and realizing I couldn't. I would have to have knee replaced. So I just sat down and cried! Even Vicodin couldn't stop the knee pain and right then I felt really, really old and sorry for myself. But then Nic rubbed his head on my shoulder and gave me his little quite-feeling-sorry-for-yourself nudge and I knew it was knee replacement time!

It won't be a piece of cake. I won't lie about that. But knowing Nic is waiting in the barn for our next camping trip and that I'll once again have a 'matched' pair of knees sure seems to help make it seem a little easier.......

Bonnie (and Nic)

How to Trailer Feed - with ONE Trailer Tie

September 24, 2013
Thanks for sending all the e-mails to me regarding feeding a horse from a hay net. The biggest questions (about 50) I've received is how to hang a hay net when one doesn't have two trailer ties on one side of trailer?

I've always had 'extra' hooks and trailer ties put on a trailer either when ordering or after buying one. You can have just about anything added to a trailer especially if ordering a new one. About the only exception as where to locate because of weight change is water. But that's another blog........

If one wants to hang a hay net on trailer and it doesn't have two trailer ties to 'sling' the hay net between, tie the hay net off on the OPPOSITE side of the trailer. Note in the pictures how in one picture the hay net is sitting on the trailer fender. And in another one the empty hay net is hanging BELOW the fender top. This is where a horse can get into trouble and so a hay net should NEVER hang below the top of the trailer fender. A pawing horse could get a hoof into one of the net squares when it's empty so the hay net should always be hung higher so as it empties and hangs lower than originally tied, the net won't sag below the top of trailer fender.

The method I use on trailers with just one trailer tie is over-the-trailer roof. First, fill the hay net.

At the bottom of hay net, gather net up and snap a carabiner to the bottom of the hay net. Some hay nets have a ring at bottom. Others just have a knot.





Next gather the top of the hay net together and tie shut. Attach a rope (I use a half inch about 20 foot cotton rope) to the top of the hay net making sure the rope end is tied securely to hay net.





Now, toss the extra rope OVER the top of the trailer. Walk around trailer (or have someone else) pull the hay net up to the top edge of the trailer. Tie the rope end off on that side of trailer using the trailer tie! This way the horse can feed out of the hay net on one side of trailer but the rope is tied off on opposite side of trailer.





Once the net is as high as one wants and to keep the horse from pushing hay net back and forth on trailer side plus empty net from sagging low, snap the carabiner attached to bottom of net to trailer tie. If you want you can even attach the carabiner to trailer tie before walking around trailer to pull it up and tighten rope. This way, you can tell when the hay net is high enough -- it just won't pull any higher!




Just be careful when tossing rope and pulling tight up over trailer roof that you don't get rope hung up on roof vents. And that all knots are 'hard' so they don't pull loose or out as horse pulls hay out of net.

Remember, try anything 'new' at home first. So feed your horse a couple times from the hay net hung on the side of trailer in the home barnyard. The pictures will give you an idea of how to get started........

Bonnie and Nic

Trailer Feeding

August 20, 2013
Hay NetWater is the most important item a person has to consider when it comes to camping. Having enough water can be a problem which is why one should plan to carry extra water -- even if the brochures and horsecamp information sheets say "water available". A broken pipe or dried up stream can be real problems if one doesn't take enough water with 'em to get themselves and horses through at least 2 days of camping.

Next, feed can be an item to consider and how it will be fed. Since some areas now require Certified Weed Free Feed, tossing it on the ground will result in a horse wasting a lot of hay while pushing it around looking for the best hay. So when it comes to feeding, look for alternative solutions to keeping feed in an area where the horse will eat it and not waste a lot while still being SAFE.

I've always fed my horses in hay nets; regardless if in a corral, paddock or tied to the side of the trailer. I like the big hay nets with the larger 'squares' a horse has to put his muzzle into to pull the feed out. Although getting a flake or two into the hay net can be a real challenge and some horses (especially Sig) hate eating out of one -- they have to pull and chew the hay out instead of just yanking or tipping the hay net over and everything falls out -- I have less waste than with other types of feeders. I've never been a fan of the hay bags where a horse puts his head into the bag to get the sifted grain on the bottom. This is because I've seen horses get their heads into the bag, hung up over their ears, and then they panic since they can't get their head out. So, I've always liked and used the hay nets -- they don't take up much storage and when not used for feeding Nic or the other horses, I can use it to haul firewood back to camp for a campfire. Follows my old everything-used-two-ways rule for camping!

When using a hay net or any type of hang on the trailer feeder, always be careful how it's used. I've always hung the hay net between two trailer ties instead of up and down. The net pulls tight against the side of the trailer. Loose hay falls on the trailer fender for the horse to pick up (make sure lead rope is kept short enough so the horse can't reach the ground!). And as the horse empties they hay net it just hangs on the side of the trailer.

Plus using a hay net keeps a horse busier eating! Sig stomps his hooves, gives me dirty looks, swishes his tail and in general hates the hay net. He can't just grab hay and throw it all over the way he likes to do it in the home barn. By chewing slowly, he's less likely to get colic because the hay is better chewed and when he does drop some of the feed on the trailer fender, he picks it up right away because he's learned over the years that what's on the ground, stays on the ground till I pick it up and re-feed it to him. After about 10 minutes of his 'protesting' he settles down and eats from the hay net.

Here's some pictures of how I hang my hay net from the trailer side. And remember, regardless how you feed your horses and if it works for you and your horses -- keep doing it. Don't change just for change or because someone else does it that or this way. If you do want to change feeding styles, try 'em out at home first.

Safe trails,

Bonnie and Nic

Follow Us