Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Happy Herd

The boys are comfortable enough to nap while Daria keeps watch.
All is well in our little herd!  Daria is lice-free and her new summer coat is growing in all glossy and black; neither Red nor Rhio got lice, and no one has had any ticks yet, either.  The EquiSpot topical I started for the lice is also a tick preventative.  My pasture doesn't have any brush or long grasses, so it's relatively unfavorable tick habitat, but the ticks are out in force already and having some protection on the horses (and the dogs!) is paramount. 
Daria, during a 8" spring snow storm just over a week ago.
I am now able to leave Red and Daria home alone - even overnight! - with no "extra" help for Red (i.e. not even a titch of tranquilizer required.)  Rhio and I have put on about 115 miles since January, and with his brand new shoes put on today, we are ready for the first ride of the season, in about a week and a half!  But before that, we are hosting a distance riding clinic this upcoming weekend and Rhio gets to 1) mark trail for our short practice ride 2) be a demo horse and 3) lead the group of riders on the practice ride!  I guess we've been having a busy spring.
Some of the views through Rhio's ears on this spring's rides.
My handy husband built me a hay box last week.  I wanted to be able to feed hay in nets to reduce waste, keep more hay in front of them all the time, and allow us to go away for a weekend camping without needing to have someone come feed the horses.  I have a full-bale size net, and because Rhio wears shoes (which could get caught on the net), I can't put the bale-in-the-net directly on the ground.  So, we designed this small hay box so that he can't catch his feet on the netting (ok, I suppose if he decided to stand IN the box - and horses do the darnedest things sometimes!), but that is still small and low enough to the ground that little Daria will be able to eat from it!  With two half-bale nets affixed to the board portion of the fence, and the box full with a full bale, and probably some loose hay as well, they should be good for 2 days. 
The box is just big enough for 1 bale, sits about 4" off the ground, and has solid sides but a slatted bottom (for drainage).  We used eye bolts so I can secure the net into the box, but they protrude too much and get caught on the net when I am putting it, full, in the box.  So, we are going to move the eye bolts to the top instead of the inside surface.
"Slow feed" nets are a big deal right now - rightly so, as they are very helpful for lots of "easy keeper" horses in reducing/slowing hay consumption, keeping them busy "grazing" more hours per day, and help keep small amounts of forage moving through their digestive tracts all the time (healthier horses.) My nets are not truly "slow feed" - because the diameter of the holes isn't small enough for the horses to really be slowed down, once they figure out how to use them. Red and Rhio have net experience, and they were thrilled with the box-o-hay immediately! They were actually preferentially eating out of the box, instead of loose hay I also put out. Daria has been skeptical of the whole thing, and has been scrounging for dropped hay beneath and around the nets rather than trying to eat from them, once the loose hay is gone.  I have every confidence she'll figure it out.  

Red uses the net like a pro.
Why don't I use true "slow-feed" nets, with all their health benefits? This is a purposeful choice on my part, because in the past Rhio has actually not been able to keep enough weight on if he is fed exclusively with a small-holed "slow feed" net.  My nets have 1 3/4" openings, the "slow feed" versions from this company (Hay Chix, www.haychix.com) are 1 1/4" or 1" openings.  The horses must learn to pull the hay through the holes, without biting the net (which just lifts the net off the hay, and doesn't result in a mouthful of hay.)  I don't know if Rhio just doesn't/won't spend enough time eating with a true "slow-feed" net, or if it really just limits his consumption too much.  At any rate, we will see how it goes with these nets.  Although the horses spend a reasonable amount of time "grazing," my pasture is very sparse in grass (our soil is too sandy) and it's not really come in well yet. They have reduced their hay consumption from winter, but I know that even in the summer, the majority of their feed will be hay.
Just 'cause he's so handsome!  It was recently his 22nd birthday (April 13th.)

Late afternoon light made this a great shot!

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