Management & Maintenance

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There is a lot more to haymaking than “making hay while the sun shines,” though doing so is a necessary start. Sadly, each year horse barns and farmers’ storage barns burn down, and horses become sick from respiratory disease and colic, as well as myriad other diseases such as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID or Cushings disease). Many of these situations are avoidable so here are, in my opinion, the seven deadly sins of horse hay-making, in no particular order.

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When it comes to purchasing hay this year, John Bland says, “[Horse owners] are between a rock and a hard place. This year, there’s typically nothing to cut.” Bland is a member of the Alberta Forage Information Network and has been producing and selling hay in Alberta for over 40 years. He says this year’s drought covers the majority of North America’s Great Plains region, so is different from other dry years such as 2001, 2009, and 2019 when droughts were more regional.

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Many horse people yearn to leave the city behind, believing that the country provides opportunities for a more natural lifestyle, a slower pace, and a chance to fulfill lifelong dreams such as keeping their horses at home, growing a big garden, and enjoying a healthier way of life.

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Given the varied weather types and landscape in Canada, the threat of severe weather and geological events is a constant reality. Natural disasters can include wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornados, hailstorms and landslides.

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There are a vast number of plants located throughout Canada that are toxic to horses in some respect. Many need to be eaten in large doses to cause much of an effect, while others require only a few mouthfuls. There are a variety of resources on plants toxic to livestock, but the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System seems to be the most comprehensive. It lists over 250 poisonous plants found in Canada, their lethal dose (if known), and symptoms of poisoning.

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Rotational grazing can help you take better care of your pastures and provide more feed for your horses.

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When asked about their ideal horse property, whether for ownership or boarding, many horse owners will list things such as expansive green pastures, clean stables, dry turnout areas, a managed manure compost system, proximity to equestrian amenities such as trails, and nice views of streams and forested areas. The resulting image is a picturesque vista of horses dotting the landscape and living in harmony with nature.

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One AC from Magic Powder Company - for the non-sweating horse