1. Storing Jumping Poles
Do your jumping poles have a mind of their own when it
comes to storage and retrieval? Well here is a simple and cheap
idea that will keep them under control and out of the mud and the worst
of the wet.
The poles are held by standard gutter brackets, available
from DIY stores for about 50p each. Just attach two for each
pole to a wall or fence. Ours are shown on the end wall to
Horse feed usual comes in large squishy bags that are very
convenient to handle in and out of the car but not so good once you
get them to the feed store where they are opened and become a
temptation to mice. Our solution to this problem is to transfer
the feed to industrial plastic barrels with well fitting lids.
Our particular barrels were new and intended for human food products
so they didn't even need a clean before use. I do not know exactly
how to obtain these now but keep a lookout, put the word around and
let us know if you find a regular supply.
2. Storing Horse Feed
comments: For those searching for barrels, Atlantic Country Superstore
sell them and have a sale on at the moment. A 45 gallon, plastic with
screw lid, ex-fruit barrel costs £7. I have used this company
for years and they give a very good service. Iíve just ordered some
more electric fence posts and they came the next day; they are also
the best posts Iíve seen and the cheapest I could find.
Phone 01986 891032 or 01986 891074
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Selina comments: I got my barrels from
of The Forest of Dean Ltd. and they deliver - even one, if that
is all you need. (Also, I found them very friendly). They
sometimes appear for sale on eBay.
To make the bins easier to move around, from under
the feed preparation bench in our case, we have mounted each one on a
trolley with castors that is intended for moving large plants in pots
around the wooden floors in your conservatory or living room.
They are often advertised in gardening and home magazines and in the
weekend supplements to national newspapers. We paid about £10
for four, I seem to remember.
comments: As an alternative to barrels, it may not have
occurred to some folk how good old chest freezers are for the job.
course I got the idea originally from a friend, so it may be worth
passing on, especially in view of the fact that disposing of old
fridges/freezers is an ecological nightmare. By recycling it will help
the environment as well as being a very economical way to store all
feed bags and supplements required, in a compact efficient space which
is totally protected from vermin, the elements - and the horses! They
can also usually be padlocked, if that is an issue. Even upright models
would be useful for keeping first-aid items, grooming kit, etc. in, if
you have sufficient space, and convert the door into a notice board by
use of fridge magnets! Try your local white-goods suppliers who have
to pay to dispose of the old freezers, so would probably let you have
one, and deliver it, for naught, or take a visit to the tidy tip.
3. Feeding Hay in the Field
Our horses were very wasteful with the hay that we
used to put out loose in the field for them during the winter; the wind would blow it
all over the place, they would then tread it into the mud, and dogs and foxes would leave their mark so the
horses would not eat it. We have solved much of this problem by
putting the hay in nets on posts at the edge of the field.
We used to do this by driving oak posts into the
ground each winter and then removing them in the late spring - if they
had survived that long and not had to be repositioned in the mean
However, we have hit upon a better solution
using short concrete posts, which are buried for about two thirds of
their length in the ground, with the original wooden posts fastened on
top. Our concrete posts are 40" x 3" x 3" (1m x
75mm x 75mm) and cost about £6.50 each from DIY stores. The
concrete posts have two holes cast in their upper ends to enable the
oak posts to be fasted to them with M8 studding (screwed rod, about 90p
per metre in DIY stores), washers and nuts. Our posts need to be
removable because we bring cattle into the field during the summer and
I'm sure they would not survive long as cattle itching posts!
previous year, we did try using Metposts, which are about the same
price and very easy to drive into the soft ground, but they did not
stand up to the rigours of horses pulling on the nets and scratching
themselves on the posts. They became bent and twisted and two
eventually broke off altogether.
haynet is fastened to the post with a tie ring - the type that pass
right through with a washer and nut on the back are the easiest to
use. (For safety, the string from the haynet should normally
pass through a loop of twine on the ring, rather than directly through
the tie ring itself.)
comments: I don't use nets as I feel feeding from ground
level is best. It has been suggested that nets can cause muscle
problems in neck and poll, as the persistent tugging action usually
includes a twist in order to pull the hay free. Maisie already has
stiffness in those areas, so I am anxious not to make things
have a heavyweight square black plastic water tank, which I bought
from a builders merchant many years ago, originally to use as field
trough. I can't tell you the capacity.... Anyway, I lay the required
sections of hay, flat, in there and pour over a bucket of water, and
leave until the next meal time weighted with an old tyre, in a sectioned off
part of the paddock. At night, in my case, I will quickly turn the hay
over so that the wettest part on the bottom is now at the top and the
water will drain back down as the hay is eaten, and let the horses at
it. That's it. I leave the hay in the tank, so it stays cleaner
and less is wasted. Even in the recent windy weather, the weight of water
at the bottom helps to keep it stable so it doesn't turn over or get
blown away - you could also put tyres/bricks in to increase stability,
but I haven't needed to. If there is still water there in the morning
(and sometimes it has been drunk!), I will tip it out and start
again. May not be viable with more than a couple of horses, or those
more likely to beat the heck out of the container, but this has worked
for the last couple of winters. Wish I'd thought of it before!
And a winter tip from Row:
Use an old tractor tyre as a hay-feeder. Stops it blowing
around, several horses can eat around it, and it can be moved
periodically to avoid poaching.
Where there is particularly heavy horse traffic,
the heavy clay soil in our field becomes extremely
muddy during the winter so establishing a permanent position for the
hay posts was inviting trouble. A simple solution has been to make a 'hay terrace' by putting down about 6" to 8" of
builders rubble topped with a layer of
road planings (old lumps of
tarmac from road mending). The planings fill in all the holes between
the rubble and leave an acceptably dark surface that soon collects
some soil from horses feet and then starts to grass over with seeds
from the hay. Although there is some spilt hay to clear up, it
is far more easily picked up than when it was mixed with mud.
The builders rubble is easily come by for free - just put the word
around - and the road planings are about £6 per ton delivered - ask
local farmers and mention your need for rubble whilst you're at it.
4. Somewhere Dry to Stand and Eat
5. Filling Haynets
OK, I know, this is not a new idea - and it certainly
wasn't mine - but, after so many years of filling haynets unaided,
this year we finally bought a haynet holder and what a
Thoroughly recommended. About £10.
Alison Franks suggests a quick and easy way to fill haynets: put hay in a
big bucket such as those sold as pooh buckets or a cheaper version for
storage, etc. (eg from DIY outlets, etc) then put the haynet neck over top of
the bucket and invert. Easy and quick! I use several of these buckets for
feeding hay on my area of hard standing and don't feed any hay on the
field - the horses spend the day time on the hard standing area (a
total of ~ 300m2 including shelter) with some rubber matting too especially
for lamanitic pony, with ad lib hay, thistles (when I've had time to
pull them!) and vegetable trimmings from the village pub. At night they're
on the field thus trashing it less especially when it's frosty and also, if I
want to ride, I don't eat into their grazing time. Seems to work
well for us.
6. A Scratching Post
A suggestion from Row:
To somewhere sturdy (solid fencepost/corner of
shelter), attach one of those plastic doormats, or you can use lorry
mudguards; use nails (large heads, and knock right in) or tie round
post with baler twine. Check the height depending upon size of animals - I have
two at different heights. The horses then have a good scratching post
which they will use, for necks and bums, and which won't harm them
or destroy your fencing etc.
7. Hairy Legs
another tip: Some of us saw this at Dan's barefoot clinic, for
those with hairy legs - horses I mean! If you need a clear space
around your horses hooves for any reason, just slip on a crepe tubular
bandage (the sort for sprained wrists ankles or knees) over the foot,
and up to fetlocks to contain the feathers and keep them out of the
Although our stables are less than 100 yards from
our house, we do not yet have mains electricity there. However,
we have made a start with lights. I put all the wiring in as if
the lights were to be mains powered so that if we do ever get round to
a mains supply, I need only change the light fittings and couple up.
The mains wire (1mm twin and earth), switches and junction boxes are
very inexpensive from DIY stores and the installation is quite
straight forward DIY stuff.
At the end of the wiring
run in each stable, where normally there would be a light fitting,
there is a simple block connector fastened to a convenient rafter that
connects the wiring run to a standard 12 volt 21W car stoplight
bulb. I have used a couple of old 12 volt camping light fittings
(the fluorescent or modern LED ones sold for boats and caravans would be quite
superior) but for the others I merely soldered two bits of stiff wire
to the contacts on the back of the bulb (or one of the contacts and
the bayonet case, if it is a combined stop and tail light) and poked
them into the connector. For added reflection, I put a small
disposable aluminium pie dish behind the bulb, held in place with a
couple of drawing pins.
8. Stable Lighting
At the feed end of the wiring (where there would
normally be a mains consumer unit [fuse box] ) there is a junction box
and a flexible cable with big crocodile clips at the end that are
clamped on the battery terminals - it doesn't matter which way round.
We get the old batteries from our local
garage. We take any that he has but he tells us which ones he
thinks are best, so we tend to go for batteries out of big diesel
vans. Nobody should begrudge giving you these old batteries
because, to dispose of them commercially and legally, costs about £3
a go at the tip.
We generally have three batteries available at any
one time. Typically, there will be one battery coupled up in the
barn, one along with it charged up ready, and one in the garage
charged up ready or being recharged.
There are seven 21W lights and one battery can
easily cope with this, although I doubt that we've actually ever put
them all on at once. Some batteries will last three winters
whereas others only one. We've never really worried too much
about it because there's always been 'more where that came
from'. One recharging will last all winter, unless Claude (bless
him) turns his light on during daylight and no one notices, as
happened last year! Quick swap of the crocodile clips from flat
battery to fresh battery and light was restored.
We always let the batteries go almost flat before
recharging them, as I understand this helps reform the deposits on the
plates of batteries that are used infrequently when they are
recharged. If you are to buy a battery for the job, you should
definitely go for a leisure battery, rather than an automotive
battery. The former is designed for a long draw of low currents
(a few amps) before recharging (eg camping lights, sailing boat nav
lights, electric scooter, and so on), whereas the latter is designed
for a short, sharp draw of a very high current (a few hundred amps)
followed by an immediate recharge when the engine starts (hopefully!).
William Musson of Ecofreak has written to me to say that he is able
solar powered lighting kits that are particularly suitable for
stables and other remote buildings where mains power is unavailable;
as he is a farmer himself, he knows.
9. Aid To Barefoot Trimming
To use as a hoof
stand; take one patio umbrella stand (says iron, but plastic may
work) put huge bolt in hole where brolly would go, and pad top with
foam (my idea - a small plastic ball, split, should fit over the
top). I'd tried a traffic cone, but not really stable or
strong enough - this sounds much better! Someone says umbrella
stands are about £10 from Asda.
Axel stands from Halfords work well too!
£10 per pair from Halfords, see:
Peter Laidley, the barefoot trimmer
for Oz, recommends the plastic agitator out of a top loading washing
machine. My hubby got hold of one for me and it works a treat.
Similar to a traffic cone but stronger and more stable and shorter.
I just taped an old sponge to the top to cushion it. Very
cheap (or nothing if you know someone who is chucking one out).
10. Managing Thrush - 1
Tiffany says: I have been using grapefruit seed extract on my
mustang gelding for thrush. Great tip from my farrier. Works like a
charm and has so many other uses for horses, pets and humans.
Managing Thrush - 2
Alex offers this tip: I seem to remember seeing
some conversations about thrush generally in the e-mails on the site
and I would like to remind you to carefully wash all equipment you
use on it. If you have athletes' foot or thrush yourself, washing
socks and pants in
the washing machine doesn't kill it off and you can re-infect. I believe putting such items in the microwave works. Therefore, any cloths and non-metallic tools can be subjected to a
blast but boiling water and laid out in the sun to dry seems the
answer for the rest.
Mud Fever - 1
Branwen offers this tip: To avoid mud fever I bring in my horses every night and
never hose legs off. Mud fever can only occur if the germ in
the mud is in contact with the skin and has sufficient moisture to multiply.
The horse's feathers and leg hair keep any mud and moisture away from the
skin - until we blast it with a hosepipe of course. Hosing soaks through to
the skin and can drive mud in between the hairs.
Rub only in the direction of the hair with a handful of
hay or straw until all the mud is removed. It takes me less than five
minutes to do two horses (a lot quicker than hosing). This will also
help to dry off any excess moisture held in the coat and not force any mud
or water into contact with the skin. Any white socks may still look a
bit brown, but will be glistening by morning.
We've had terrible trouble at our yard with mud fever and
mine are the only horses that don't get hosed and don't have mud fever.
If you're unfortunate enough to catch a dose there are
very few effective chemicals - iodine (which stains everything yellow) or
chlorhexidine (the main ingredient of Hibiscrub) are the main ones. If
you use Hibiscrub as a wash, you'll end up soaking the skin and removing any
natural oils - so not a lot of help! In the past I've treated mud fever
using another common product containing chlorhexidine - mouthwash! You
can spray it on (from a plant mister) so you don't have to mess about
scrubbing or rubbing very sore skin and it's alcohol based so dries quickly.
I found it penetrates the scabs well too. And your horse smells
Please note - only some mouthwashes (generally the more
expensive) contain chlorhexidine.
Hope this is a help. I also read that flowers of
sulphur (which is brilliant as a feed additive for strong hooves and supple
joints) mixed with glycerine has been used on American racehorses for over
100 years with great effect.
Remember: Prevention is better than a cure.
Managing Mud Fever - 2
Ray would like to pass on what he does to mange mud fever and he
says it has worked beautifully. We have three Clydesdale horses with a
lot of white feathers, living fulltime in a paddock. I started
by putting dry sulphur of flowers on their legs. They had a lot of
sores and bare skin we just couldnít keep on top of no matter what we did or
used from the vet. As soon as we applied sulphur the improvement
started. Every second day, we dusted the legs rubbing the feathers up
the leg and blowing sulphur out of the table salt container we use to apply
it. Nine weeks later, there were no sores and the skin healed and
there were long feathers again. Acidic skin is the natural Ph for the
skin to protect itself against bacteria. The sulphur simply keeps the
pH down to protect the skin. It's cheap, easy to apply, doesnít sting
them and very effective. If you accidentally get sulphur from
your skin in your eyes I found ordinary eyewash is not helpful but a
teaspoon (3.5ml) of baking soda in some water was a really good eye wash and
neutralised the sulphur. Baking soda is used to clean corrosion on car
batteries so I figured it would work with acidic sulphur.
Managing Mud Fever - 3
Angela would like to share her experiences of managing mud fever.
When I bought my heavily feathered Cob/Exmoor mare from a riding school she
had thrush and mud fever. The thrush was easily dealt with by vet with
a tetracycline spray then kept under control with weekly purple spray.
I found a way to control the mud fever without cutting off her beautiful
feathers. Horses attract all sorts of biters. Biters bite.
Horses scratch. Lesions open. Bacteria gets in - from horse's mouth
and outside. Solution - Frontline spray to control the biters.
No bites. No lesions. No mud fever. I also spray her
feathers with fly spray whenever biters are around. There are also
plenty of creams for lesions but the object is to seal the skin to prevent
bacteria getting in and to help the skin heal.
Also, I am not a fan of too much hosing down and shampooing. It
softens the skin, which is what we ladies like, but horses need good strong,
naturally oily skin to combat water and biters. Horrible thought but
humans and horses actually need natural body oil to support the good mites
that live on us and clean our skin. Washing it off and replacing it
with another oil means the mites can't survive.
Skin as well as other organs, produces vital hormones. Too much
washing upsets this production. This sounds a bit Hippie but by too
much washing I do mean using unnecessary shampoos more than once a week!
I hope this helps.
Managing Mud Fever - 4
Before winter, I start using a mixture of pig oil and flowers of sulphur on
my (very) hairy's legs. I use an old washing up liquid bottle to
squirt it deep into the hair close to the skin and then rub it in.
When I bring him, in I don't hose his legs I just brush the mud off when it
has dried overnight. It never seems to get through to the skin as the
oil stops mud sticking and the sulphur kills any bacteria. It also
helps to prevent leg mites which is a common problem in hairy legged breeds.
Another advantage is that it keeps the hair in good condition so, by show
season, it is soft and silky and really flies when they move! I
believe this method has been used by draft horse owners in the UK for well
over a hundred years so its tried and tested.
12. Mud Fever
Recommendation - 1
Lewis has been asked about
methods of dealing with Mud Fever and what he has verified from the
veterinarians that he checked with back in Texas and in the UK, as
well as other trainers with MF experience is explained on
Recommendation - 2
Elaine says: To prevent this painful condition, before I turn
my horses out into the field, I get some baby oil in an old spray
bottle and I spray their legs up to the knees. With a spare
body brush I make sure it is rubbed in and I then turn them
out. I never hose down their legs when I bring them in, I
just simply put them in the stable and leave them. You will
be amazed in the morning the mud is almost gone and just brush off
the remains, which comes off really easily due to the oil. I
hope you find this helpful.
Mud Fever Recommendation - 3
Denise says: My daughter's mare, Flick had really
bad mud fever, which wasn't clearing up. The vet said they now
think the reason some horses are more prone to it, is to do with
poor immune system. After many months of vets visits and trying
everything we decided that, instead of using Hibiscrub to clean her
legs, we would try a domestic spray of the kind that you use to wipe
kitchen surfaces, or a hand foam from a high street chemist that is
used to kill bacteria and viruses and claims to protect for up to
six hours. I would say do a 24 hour skin sensitivity test on a
very small patch of skin, as this product is not for use on wounds
and does not promote itself to be that. The reason we used it
was because it kills all germs, both bacterial and viruses. It
even kills M.R.S.A. so we did wonder whether the bacteria in mud
fever had become resistant to antibiotics (and Flick has had plenty
of these) she also had other treatments, but to no avail.
Cleaning up her legs with this spray over a period of time, seemed
to do the trick. She had no reaction nor became sore. We would spray
it on and leave it for five minutes or so, then dry her legs up.
If that hadn't worked we were going to use Manuka honey with a
UMF factor of 15 or higher. Manuka honey has been used very
successfully in hospitals on open wounds that are infected by
super-bugs such as M.R.S.A. etc, where antibiotics have failed.
It has also been used successfully on leg ulcers, where conventional
treatment has failed. Manuka honey along with normal honey has
naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide, which is a great antiseptic
and fantastic for killing bacteria such as those that cause mud
fever, because they breed where there is no oxygen. Manuka
honey however has some other special properties; these are known as
UMF, or Unique Manuka Factors. It is these properties that
make manuka honey stand head and shoulders above the crowd. I
always keep a jar on the shelf and it has many, many healing
benefits both internal and external. Though I do appreciate
that using it in the summer, on a horses wounds would probably
attract the flies and wasps; maybe adding some wound fly repellent
or bandaging, if the wound is on a leg.
13. Manuka Honey
Ray would like to tell you of his experience with manuka honey on open
wounds. A Clydesdale stallion that was little handled cut a
gash on his leg. I bought a jar UMF 10 manuka honey and
applied it three times a day. I just walked up to his back leg
and gently smeared a thick amount on. This is a horse you
couldnít get a halter on, as he wasnít broken in, though he seemed
aware I was there to help him and let me apply it. I did this
for three or four days and then I did it twice a day for a few more
days eventually going to once a day. During the last two or
three days, he started getting progressively ancy about me applying
it, allowing me a brief opportunity to get it on. Then he just
wouldnít let me near him. He knew he was now okay.
The wound never became infected, the antibiotics in the honey was
healing it and the honey is also a deterrent to flies. You
donít need to bandage or cover it, just apply and leave.
There are no scars to see, though the hair didnít grow back quite as
thick in that place. Cheaper than, and I think more effective
than, some of the antibiotics that the vet seems to offer. The
wound never looked back and I would not hesitate to use manuka honey
14. Feeding Pills
I am sure that we have all had 'fun' feeding
medication to our horses: MSM powder sandwiches, apples spiked with
wormer (that we scraped off our cheek because it escaped from the
syringe in the routine struggle), treacle flavoured with 'bute', and
so on. We had a new challenge with Nenagh trying to feed her
with Pergolide pills, which she could spot in every handful of
treats that we tied; she would manage to spit out the pill whilst
nonchalantly eating the rest! After grovelling around in wet
grass a few times trying to retrieve them, I hit on the idea of
hiding the pills in spearmint treats because she really loves them:
In this case, a 6.6mm drill made a hole that was
just right for a snug fit but, if the only suitable drill that you
have is a bit larger, then a dob of butter or treacle should keep it
-------- ooo OOO ooo --------
If you have a really useful, time saving or just plain neat idea that you'd
like to pass on to others, just let me know by sending
me an e-mail, preferably with a picture to illustrate it, and I'll
include it here with an acknowledgement.