Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Alright folks, I'm sticking my toes in the Parelli Program pool. As many of you know Nibs went to some great people in Oregon who are Parelli followers. In keeping up with him I have made a new friend. His new "mom" has been following Parelli for 8 years and Ive really enjoyed our discussions on horse training. Well, recently she shared her horseanaliy DVD with me and I gotta tell ya, Its pretty darn interesting. Using their charting method on all the horses I have owned has been eye opening. Just as a "for instance", when I chose my old Arab Figgy and picked Boo for the Lyons program I did so wanting complete opposites. You know, to get that "full" training experience. grin. Well, man did I ever pick polar opposites. So not only where they totally different physically, gender wise, and breed wise they charted differently too.

I hear you all rolling your eyes out there saying "well duh, of course they would be opposites just look at them" But hear me out. This chart you make for your horse doesn't help you classify your horse, nor does it pigeon hole him either. It simply gives you structure for your impression of your horse! Here's the kicker though, then it goes on to tell you how best to train him!

Oh sit down will ya? Look, how many times have I heard "but how do I know what exercise to use when?" and I'm like" well, start here then if its not working go here?" Then I would usually get the old "well, I did the wrong thing because..." OK ,well...? You know who you are out there! grin. What I'm saying to you is that this chart helps to explain how YOU have to be WITH IN the exercises for your type of horse! Its pretty darn brilliant. I can tell you all day what my impressions are of your horse but if you are having trouble accepting that immpression then the chart will help you! Im just sayin'.....

Now let me tell you what totally gelled in my head as I watched this DVD. Cuervo, (my baby!) is an extrovert, this we knew, but what I didn't know was that he has left and right brain tendencies in extreme and equal amounts. This means nothing to you right now I know, and it doesn't have to. What it did for me is to help me figure out what would be the most effective way/ method to present the training to him. According to the chart, he needs to play and feel safe. I'm not sure I could have verbalized that. Instinctively, for the most part I succeeded in our sessions, but you know those times when you go home from the barn thinking"wow that was good , but something is missing, hmmmmm" Well that's where the chart shed light for me.

You have all heard me talk about my time in Johns program. My struggles with Boo and challenges with Figgy. If I had had this template then? Wow! My job would have been a bit easier. If only for the fact that I could have had a better idea of what I truly needed to change/improve in myself. Now let me wax philosophic for a minute. Ive always said "horse training teaches you about life and life teaches you about horse training" I also believe that everything happens for a reason and at the right time. Usually not soon enough and in the least expected way. grin! Anyway, the clarity I experienced after watching the DVD put a lot of the goings on in the past three years into perspective for me. Nibs had to go Or or I never would have met his new family, Cuervos physical problems kept me from pushing on him and myself in his learning which is good as I needed more information to make this journey as great as its going to be. There's more on deeper,more personal levels but I'll save those for myself for now. I just wanted to give a shout out to Horsanality. It may be the key you need to break through to the next level with your horse.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hay, Glorious Hay!

How does northern Ethiopian hay, grown in the Midwest by an Amish farmer, delivered in a semi from a furniture company end up in my barn? Well, quite simply, luck! Hay procurement has been more challenging than I remember it being on the east coast. (Or maybe its just here in the south east) My theory is that a lot of nice hay grown in the north by passes us to get to Fla. where the race horses and jumpers go to winter. Well, that's my theory anyway and I'm sticking to it!

On Friday, we stacked over 41 thousand pounds of hay two barns. I'll spare you all the details. suffice it to say, no one is looking forward to the next load we will have to buy around March! I chose to buy so much for several reasons, first and foremost I really wanted my horses to be on a consistent supply of hay. By that I mean hay from the same cutting, from the same soils, put up the same way. I felt after years of inconsistency, mild colics, bouts of watery stool, random weight losses and gains that it was the least I could do for my ponies. In CA, I bought hay in small 10 to 15 bale loads. Due to cost and storage constraints this was the best I could do for them. One week they might be eating Oregon orchard, the next timothy from Nevada. Now while I've heard horses do like a variety, I think it very unlikely they would gallop themselves across several states to get it. A variety of grasses offered in the same soils/field is more likely the case.

I prefer to feed a grass hay like orchard or timothy and have stayed away from less expensive varieties like bermuda. I did this in Ca because the bermuda I came across was very dirty and very salty. The horses I saw living on it had bloated hay belly's and poor coats. It didn't seem to be a quality hay. Here in the south, Bermuda is a huge hay crop and while it seems much less dirty, I've opted to stay away from it here as well. I have read from several sources online that bermuda is suspected to be the cause of an increase in colics here in the southeast. That being said, none of the sources agreed on why. Some said it was the physical make up of the bermuda stem. Fine grass shoots off of one tougher main stem. Making it hard for the horses to chew effectively.(I guess kind of like celery, tender parts with stringy bits.) The lack of proper chewing caused it to form a plug in the lower intestine ensuing in a colic. Another source said it was the genetic make up of the hay. Something like the endophyte problems they have in some fescues. Then there is the local problem of the farms using a raw, liquid pig waste fertilizer to treat their hay fields...In any case bermuda is still on the "no feed" list where my horses are concerned. That makes hay purchasing quite the feat.

There has been alot of rain on the east coast this year, which is good for hay growing, but bad for hay curing and baling. The result is moldy hay or hay to mature to be either palatable or nutritious. Orchard and timothy are cool weather crops, doing best with cold nights and warm days. Neither tolerate heat particularly well so if the summer is hot early the hay crop is bad, if there is alot of rain the hay crop is bad, In other words if its not camelot-esque the hay crop will be difficult! So what to do? Well, research of course! What I came up with teff. teff is a relatively new hay crop from Ethiopia. Like bermuda it thrives in hot climates. Making it a great summer crop. Something that could grow and produce after orchard and timothy was finished for the season. It is a grain hay. So like oat hay, it produces a grain. Unlike oat hay it is a fine stemmed grass, whose nutrient value as a hay does not diminish once the grains are ripe. It resembles bermuda to the untrained eye and I in fact once sarcastically said as much to a poor feed store worker in Ca. He was showing me what I thought at the time where two identical bales of hay one being the usual affordable bermuda( which he knew I never fed) and one being something called Tiffany hay for several more dollars......I dismissed it out of had thinking he was trying to pull a fast one! (Sorry Bonbones! ;0)) Any how if I had only looked closer, I could have told the difference immediately. The teff/tiffany not having a tough main stem with shoots. Another way to have seen the difference would have been to cut open the bales. Bermuda falls apart very easily resembling grass clippings instead of flakes. Teff having individual grass leaves or stems holds its shape in a flake like most hay.

So far the horses are really enjoying their teff hay, leaving the grass patch they have access to in the mornings to eat their hay first. Something that was not the norm with the timothy I started with. Their manure looks good too. TMI , I know, but something we horse people have no qualms about discussing! I got this load tested, and while it came back in the normal ranges for teff in both protein and fiber/moisture and digestibility. It would raise eye brows with folks used to seeing 14 percent protein and above. I like my horses to be able to have hay in front of them all day. We have little grass here for foraging and will have less come winter. The teff hay fits the bill across the board for me and mine. I'll keep you posted on how it performs through the winter. Meanwhile give it a look!