In The Weeds: Pasture Management Tips
by Susan Harmon
Recently a good friend of mine remarked that she was “in the weeds”. She was referring to the challenges of the day and it caused me to wonder about horses and their “personal spaces”. Could horses be “in the weeds” too? The answer is yes and anyone who is responsible for the care of one horse or many horses needs to be aware of essential pasture management.
It is important to keep horse pastures in good condition. A pasture that is healthy and safe for your horse needs to be a priority and is fundamental to essential horse care. The pasture is your horse’s space and because the horse spends a significant amount of time in it, proper pasture keeping is critical for a healthy, happy horse. Fortunately, there is a lot of good information and resources readily available to assist owners, boarders, trainers and anyone involved in the care of horses or those like me who just simply want to know more to help. Planning is very important and cannot be overlooked when it comes to safe and healthy pasture management.
Key factors to address such as pasture design, sacrifice area, soil testing, mowing and weed management, turnout time, how many horses will be in the pasture at any given time around your horses’ needs is paramount for their good health.
Seasonal considerations will be necessary too. Creating a Fall and Spring To Do List can be very helpful for any size pasture.
In this blog I’ll share a brief overview of some helpful tips to get started and some resource links to help you in your quest for more knowledge in healthy pastures for your horse.
Consider the land available for use. Is there enough space available for grazing and to leave vacant? It is important to have enough space that can be left entirely alone and free of horses so that it can regenerate and let grasses grow. This is known as pasture rotation. It is very desirable to let the pasture “breathe” and regenerate itself because if this does not happen on a regular basis then your grass resource can diminish over time or in the worst case completely barren of healthy forage. Having enough turnout space and space for grasses to flourish and grow is very key. Consider the number of horses that will be using the space and plan well. It is important to consider the local environment. Is there enough land and resources to support 2 or more acres per horse? If there is a large contingency of horses, then it will be important to have supplemental forage and nutrition available in other forms and limitations on how long horses can be turned out into the space. A plan for proper land rest and rotation will need to be set up and scheduled.
Sacrifice areas are also an important consideration. This space should have an elevation to it and sloping and away from any water sources that would pool or collect into the space such as a dip or weak area in the land. Carefully construct with the proper coverings such as stone and stone dust and surround the area with field mass so that any run off can have a space to go to. Keeping the space free of manure is important. A sacrifice area will keep the main pasture from the effects of wear caused by bad weather or overgrazing. Again, the number of horses that could be in the sacrifice area at any given time will have an impact how large an area it will need to be. In an emergency such as a bad storm or other major concerns, this area could be used to keep horses safe and for easy access to them.
Additionally, Spring and Fall tend to be the seasons in the year when grasses are nutrition rich. Having a smaller sacrifice area to limit the horse from having too much time to access this “rich” grass can keep them from foundering.
Another good tip would be to be careful to shy away from sand in this area and to not feed your horse on sand surfaces as that can lead to colic episodes if too much sand is ingested into the horse’s digestive system.
Understanding the soil and testing it is a huge consideration. The soil nutrients will fluctuate from one land area to another to it is very important to know what proper nutrient levels and ph levels need to be in each section of the area. Local area extension offices and any analytical laboratory should be able to provide soil test kits and instructions on how to use them. These soil samples can then be analyzed and reported on so that there is documentation to review to help in decision making for land care. Soil that is acidic is not what you want to have, so knowing the proper ph levels to avoid that is helpful. Soil ph levels of 7 is considered “neutral” whereas less than 7 would be less desirable or acidic. Soil acidity will have an impact on the health and growth of nutritious grasses.
For grasses to grow properly it is important to understand how nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium impact health. Lime application will help to increase low PH levels and enable the nutrients in the soil to thrive much better. Good soil testing will identify any weaknesses or improvements needed to support growth of healthy grasses.
Mowing And Weed Management:
Mowing the pastures will help to control the weeds. Weeds are indeed troublesome and will inhibit healthy growth of quality forage. It is important to know how much mowing, when and what height levels the grasses should ideally be. Grasses will store their energy capacity closer to the lower sections of the plant. If the mowing is low enough that will impact the grass regrowth. Likewise, if the pasture grass is too high then that may be cause horses to be reluctant to grass in the tallness of the grass due to the grass poking their face and eyes.
It is also important to be able to know the types of weeds and if they are toxic to horses. Plant recognition is critical for anyone involved in equine care management. I was surprise to learn that the pretty buttercups I often see in fields can be quite toxic to horses. Become familiar with the life cycle of weeds and toxic plants as well. Knowing this information will be helpful when it comes to applications of herbicides to help get rid of these cumbersome plants. Timing is everything and knowing the best time to apply herbicides and weed control in the pasture area to manage and eliminate these unhealthy plants will be beneficial. Know your weeds so that your horses won’t be “in the weeds”.
Reference Resource links:
Articles provided by the Penn State Cooperative Extension Office out of State College Pennsylvania and authored by Extension Educator Donna Foulk.
To learn more details about soil testing and nutrition levels click on this link: Basic Pasture Management For the Equine Owner
To learn more about toxic plant identification and the effects they have on horses please click on this link: Plants Toxic To Horses
The ASCPA also provides a comprehensive listing of toxic and nontoxic plant information at this link: Horse Plant List
A good article on the Pros and Cons of Mowing pasture areas can be found at this link: Mowing Pros and Cons
Horses and Children – How Riding Can Empower your child’s life
by Susan Harmon
I found myself perusing the internet as I usually do after a full day at work to get caught up on
what went on in the world while I was away so to speak and came across some interesting
articles about the effects of horse riding on a child’s intelligence and behaviors. I am also a huge
fan of equines so naturally this caught my attention because it was something that I had not
really thought about. How unique to learn that there are studies and scientific findings through
research that discoveries about how riding can affect a child was written and shared. I was
amazed and intrigued and yet maybe not so surprised as after all I think anyone who loves horses
is intelligent to start.
As I learned there were many scientific experiments done to detail the findings and it was
apparent to me that there was a lot of thought and effort put into the study. Areas such as
improvement in problem solving, memory and the impact on the child’s ability to retain
information all seemed to point to the relationship between the riding and the child. They also
discussed the physical aspect of the horse’s gait and how that affected certain sensory areas in the
child’s body. The horse’s breed and the ages of the children in the study all made a difference in
some unique way. Very scientific stuff. At the end of this article you’ll find the link to the study
and I encourage everyone to read it. It’s technical of course, but it’s easy to understand the
correlation of the point the researchers are sharing.
I decided to venture out into my own corner of the world and ask someone I respect and admire
very much to share with me, how the experience of watching her own children with horses and
riding horses have impacted them. I have had the privilege to watch these girls ride horses and
gain so much confidence in themselves. The empowerment of these “little people” as they’re
fondly referred to at our barn continue to grow into their own and it is special and endearing.
My friend Tess Flores is someone I admire for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is
that she lets you be you in her presence and I respect that tremendously. She’s also an
accomplished artist, baker and equestrian designer, and painter, but I’ll save that for another
article! Tess just rocks it out the park. The way she is raising her family is something to cherish
and a lifestyle that touches my heart.
“Cuteness is in the eye of the beholder. But is there anything cuter than a little girl on a horse, a
grin from ear to ear, and pigtails? There’s just something about kids and horses that make your
heart smile. As a parent to three crazy horse girls, I can tell you there is so much more to riding a
horse than that adorable little grin or a few cute photos to send to grandma.
Nevaeh is a 10-year-old show level rider who has been riding since she is 6 years old. She has
competed and placed at several USEF level shows and continues to grow as an up and coming
young equestrian. She has a driven soul with a passion for riding and her sisters Adelina and
Davney aren’t far behind following her footsteps.
Adelina and Davney pictured below:
Adelina has been riding since she is 4 years old and Davney since the age of 2. Horse riding, for
all my children has encouraged self-reliance, responsibility, and courage, and has taught them
about the relationship with an animal that involves trust, respect, patience, and most of all love.
Riding is so beneficial in terms of exercise and mental alertness, but it’s also so much more for
so many other reasons. I have watched all three of my children progress in their skills and
develop confidence and a sense of freedom over the years. Handling, riding, and caring for
horses has taught them a host of positive traits including responsibility, accountability, patience,
level-headedness, empathy, kindness, and self-discipline. It encourages physical exercise and
improves balance and coordination. Most importantly it has taught them how to have fun with
something they love, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
I could not have said it better. Let Tess’s words and photos stand on their own. Here in Mount
Joy, Pennsylvania there is clear evidence that shows horse riding and the benefit a child and
horse both can have from such a dynamic bond is limitless as it is priceless. The results are
ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE
Front. Public Health, 06 February 2017 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2017.00008
Photo credits: all photos are exclusive curtesy of Tess Flores
Our Stance on Puppy Mills...
written by Samantha St.Clair, Editor of Lancaster County Pet
It has come to our attention that we need to address a couple of misconceptions about our publication. To begin, we are a very small team that loves animals and dedicates free time to nonprofit animal organizations. We also donate article and ad space to nonprofits. However, this does not make us a nonprofit magazine. We are a for profit magazine, run entirely by our amazing advertisers. This means every ad space that sells fuels our ability to continue to produce this magazine for Lancaster County.
However, we will not advertise certain sales. We do not, have not, and never will support puppy mills in any way, shape, or form - including advertising kennels or puppies for sale. We have informed the public on various occasions on warning signs to look out for if they choose to buy a puppy over rescuing. The following are a few basic precautions to take when looking for a puppy: be informed of the accomplishments of the parents (be it show titles, sport titles, therapy work, etc.), know that the parents have been properly health tested, understand that good breeders will always take a puppy back if for some reason the buyer can no longer have them, and know that good breeders will never sell a dog without knowing where they are going, which includes never selling through online ads, pet stores, or newspaper listings.
It is important for us to note we do not wish to push certain ideals on our readership. While some people prefer to adopt, there are plenty who also prefer to purchase a puppy. We do like highlighting the beauty of adoption, but we fully support people who decide they want to purchase a puppy from a responsible breeder. When purchasing a puppy, we encourage people to follow the guidelines above, look up further information on purchasing from responsible breeders, and make it their duty to research where they are getting their puppy from. The beauty of our county is we are full of unique individuals with different reasoning for their choices. Sometimes people want a dog from a high quality show line, or sometimes people are looking for a certain drive from a sporting line of dogs, or sometimes people find all the qualities they want in a rescue. Thankfully, options are available for all of these choices. We want our readers to feel secure in their decisions and to not feel as though we are against responsibly bred dogs. We love all of our pet loving readership and want to continue to support both rescues and quality bred dogs.
July 6, 2017
Have Fur, Will Travel
Beach chairs: check. Sunblock: check. Favorite Kong chew toy: got it. You and your family look forward to your beach trip every year, but this year you’ve made room in the car for another member of the family: your dog. If you’re going on vacation with your favorite people, why not include your furry friend? Attitudes toward pets have changed over the past 10 years, with more people considering their pets part of the family, and families want their pets to share in the fun of splashing in the waves and relaxing on the deck after a day of play.
While packing up Izzy the iguana and his terrarium isn’t the best idea, as many as 75% of U.S. dog owners take their pups on vacation, with 15% of cat owners taking their felines on a getaway. Planning and preparation before the trip can help the vacation go smoothly for both humans and pets.
Does your dog tolerate car rides well, and how long was her longest trip?
Does she seem more content at home with familiar surroundings and smells than when you’ve taken her for overnight trips to your cousin’s house an hour away?
Are her vaccinations up to date, including rabies, and at her last annual appointment, did her veterinarian bring up any concerns that might inhibit travel?
Do you have a big enough crate, or an adequate seatbelt harness, for a safe travel experience in your vehicle?
Animals should always travel in the back seat of vehicles, never the front passenger seat; they’ll be more secure and safe in this area. Bathroom and snack breaks are just as important for your four-legged friend as they are for people, so make sure a fresh bowl of water and a light meal or snack are on hand. You can never have enough plastic bags on hand for potty breaks, and buying a few waste scoops at the dollar store a few weeks ago seems like an ingenious idea now.
After everyone has piled out of the car with suitcases and coolers in hand, you lead your furry friend into the hotel room, where you find a special bone-shaped treat waiting for her. Now you know you’ve found the perfect place to relax and unwind with your whole crew.
Contact area hotels like The Hotel Lancaster and Hampton Inn located in Exton to inquire about pet policies and fees. Hotels and resorts may offer activities and pet-designated areas of the property that will keep her happy and engaged. And search BringFido.com and petswelcome.com for pet-friendly vacation spots that make smiles bigger and tails wag faster.
By Carrie Cammauf
Sources: aspca.com, travelchannel.com
January 6, 2016
COMPANION CARE AND THE ELDERLY
Recently I experienced the importance of having a plan in place when a senior family member or friend becomes ill. My mother, who lives in Charleston SC, recently fell ill with seizures. This was an important issue that I was not prepared for. Fortunately, I was able to stay at my Mother’s home this time but who would be able to care for them otherwise? In addition to the owners health concerns, this may also create stress. My mother constantly asked about both of her pets and was certainly worried about their care.
It is certainly an emotional time when a loved one is sick or incapacitated, however, taking care of their furry loved ones is definitely an added hardship. While we may know the importance and care that these pets are accustomed to, missing their human caregiver may cause these animals depression an/or anxiety. I would hate to think of the situation when there are no persons available to care for the pet. I would assume many would be taken to a rescue organization. This situation can be remedied, especially when the senior’s health issue is short-term. Lets face it; even from the age of 60 there are many health challenges. It could be something small that may leave us unable to perform daily care for our pets.
If you have a family member or friend that is a senior living independently with a pet, it would be a simple favor to help them make plans in the case that they are hospitalized or bed ridden. This plan may be using a kennel that the senior chooses or an alternative living situation. One should have a plan in place to relieve the stress for the person and the pet.
August 25, 2015
For years I tried to identify that sweet sweaty smell of my dog’s paw. After many close encounters with many canine acquaintances I realized that all dog’s paws have the same scent. I am one of those very affectionate animal lovers and if they allow me I am kissing all of their sweet spots, tummy, snout, behind the ears and of course ….the feet.
There is something about those soft pads, that top layer of history tracking skin, that records the many miles of geography. If these paws could talk I am sure they would tell many adventurous tales. I suppose this is why I am intrigued with this part of their canine anatomy.
Of course I share this during my many “dog “centered conversations. I was pleasantly surprised that other dog owners also were aware of this eau de paw.
It is funny how excited we become during this “ah ha” moments, after all this is a big deal!
It was during one of these crazy conversations that I was enlightened. I was then introduced to the term “Frito Feet”. This was it, a perfect description, if you will, for sharing your thoughts on this special subject. Dog’s paws do indeed smell just like corn chips, it does not seem to matter what breed, size or age of the dog. So next time you have an opportunity to take a whiff please do so, you will get a chuckle.
I personally think this is simply precious, after all, what part of a dog is not.
April 28, 2015
Pets are people too
Everyday I am grateful that I have spent my adult years in a society that has evolved with a new and growing awareness of our warm blooded, furry, small, large, smooth, bumpy creatures that we fondly call our “pets.”
Although my parents “liked” our childhood pets, they certainly were not ready to allow them in beds, on furniture and under the table. The family cats were however allowed in simply because they did not “smell.” My father made a warm and cozy area in the utility room that was attached to our house but never were these furry family members allowed inside of the living area.
My mother was raised on a farm, where she was told not to “get to fond of” the animals that resided there. I guess not, chickens were food, goats produced their milk, cats ate the barn rodents, and cows and pigs were eventually killed for food. All of the farm animals had a job or were used to provide food for the family. Where were the dogs? The most amazing and loyal animal on earth was not appreciated since they did not bring anything to the provision table. Yes, some were used for hunting and very valuable for their noses, but most definitely not for cuddling. I believe shotguns were used for protection, no need for the barking alarm. My father, on the other hand, was more attached to our pets, however, never experienced that glorious cohabitation of all that I consider a home and lifestyle."
So, how did I become a crazy animal loving, codependent advocate for these wonderful beings? Her name was Sophie, a mix of English and Staffordshire bulldog that I rescued from a horrible breeder. I was 27 years of age and looking for a fearless companion that would keep me safe from a serial killer on the loose in my neck of the woods. Little did I know that I would fall madly in love with this tank of a dog. I nursed her through many illnesses and health issues caused by over breeding in the sake of fighting. Sophie also nursed me, she gave a wet nose to nuzzle, a warm body to soothe long nights and most importantly eyes that communicated her deep concern for my pain. Sophie was my first soul mate. As years passed I only became more addicted to her presence, after all she was perfect.
After 17 wonderful years Sophie succumbed to the Rainbow Bridge leaving me lost and depressed for the first time in my life. I missed a week of work and cried for weeks.
Fortunately I had wonderful and loving friends who understood my loss and offered meaningful advice and lots and lots of love. I received flowers and sweet notes and was astonished by the support that I received for the loss of my beloved Sophie.
My mother, who is as close to perfect as any human could be, tried to comfort me. She expressed her condolences and very innocently offered her wisdom, “Baby, I know you adored sweet Sophie but she was, after all, only a dog.” Those words, no matter of the good intent, cut deeply. In an emotional rebuttal I expressed my feelings, “Mom, do you know how much you love me” I asked. She answered “why yes of course.” I then shared ever so sweetly, “That is how much I loved Sophie.”
I believe on that day my mother understood my commitment and love for my pets. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were responsible pet owners and taught my siblings and me the importance of nurturing all living things. They made sure we as children learned to respect nature and all life. I am now aware of their influence on me and made me the animal lover that I am today. After all, isn’t it all about love?
I bet both of my parents would get a kick knowing they laid the groundwork for my animal addiction. Thanks Mom and Dad for making me the pet loving person that I am today, even if you still feel that dogs “smell.”
March 25, 2015
Paws, Hooves and Other Wonderful Things
I will speak for our publication team since all of us are madly and blindly in love with animals. We hesitate to refer to our “four-legged” children as “pets”; however, the definition of “pet” is an acceptable term for the many warm-blooded love muffins.
Our team here at LCP is a happy one. How many folks get to perfectly blend their passion and advocation? Independently, we love our chosen professions, every one of us decided to create not only our own happiness but also the potential happiness of others. Of course I am including humans too.
This premier issue of Lancaster County Pet, and all future issues as well, is a compilation of our respect and mutual love for our furry companions. With every word we poured our love and respect for the loving owners and the businesses that assist us in being better companions. It is our goal to provide and share the cutting edge information and resources provided by the industries experts here in Lancaster.
While we are an information publication supported by our fabulous advertisers, we feel compelled to express the importance of our local rescue organizations. We are grateful for the businesses that donate endless amounts of time and financial funding to support these amazing rescue groups. We here at LCP promise to do our part.
Without the support of our wonderful community here in Lancaster County we could not have created this publication. We want to thank everyone for the warm reception, efforts and knowledge. Most importantly, we want to personally thank our readers for being part of our dream.
February 19, 2015
I Sleep with Dogs.
Ok I admit it, I sleep in a dog bed. It may very well be a gorgeous sleigh bed and a California king made for a queen, however, it remains a dog bed.
It all started quite innocently with my first canine rescue, Sophie, who I lovingly named after my great-grandmother. I certainly did my research, I am sure that I purchased every book written on raising and training a pit-bull. I was intent on making our cohabitation a harmonious one. We mastered the walking lead, the "come and "sit" and other important commands. Most importantly, she loved her safe "square apartment". I had completed my training responsibilities and was proud of our progress.
After successfully crating my precious pup I regressed, I did the dirty deed. Yes, I did it, in my weakened and sleepy state I succumbed. I allowed my well-trained Sophie into my sleeping lair. Oh, it was heavenly, she was soft and warm and neatly fit into the bend of my knees. I had experienced the euphoria of nestling with my four-legged child. Pheromones gone crazy, we were a match made in heaven. Gone were the white crisp Gain scented sheets. My clean comfortable pillows quickly became slathered with my baby’s sweet saliva. I was in denial about the unidentifiable yellow circles, possibly a tad of vomit. A lint brush became my most valued purse addition and black was removed from my wardrobe. There were those moments while in line at the grocer that I would detect the faint scent of "eau de dog". Is that me I thought in horror?
Years pass and enter four more wonderful furry bundles of fur. Each one circling into their favorite nook. Passively, I would bend and contort to accommodate my critters. I adjusted with the stealth of a ninja to avoid awakening the sleeping brood. I was forever hooked and satisfied to be part of pack, finding room where my human mass would fit. All was temporarily right with our nocturnal world.
Eventually I found myself fatigued, strangely achy and irritable. I thought, in my state of utter denial, it is simply the stress of being a business owner. I was awake at night putting out the daily fires, all I needed was a sleep aid. I decided to see my physician, a quick visit and I would dive into the deep sea of revitalizing slumber.
Well that did not happen. I denied any known sleep disturbances, I found it strangely uncomfortable to admit that my restful nights had “gone to the dogs” I would continue to host 20 legs and 3 snoring snouts. In the end I realize that the warmth and closeness was worth the sleep deprivation. No worries though, I have left my bad sleeping behaviors behind, no caffeine, some pre-sleep meditation and some Sleepy Time tea have helped. So, to all of you kindred bipedal creatures, it is sometimes best to let the sleeping dogs lie.
Welcome to LCP
Growing up in Lancaster County, PA was priceless. The simple things in life are what made it so special and memorable. Wonderful neighbors, a sense of community pride, farmlands, amazing farmers markets, covered bridges and of course the variety of animals. But I don't really need to go on and on about this, because you live in Lancaster and appreciate all its offerings.
I grew up on a farm in Marietta and there were many cats, dogs, goats and lambs. All of these animals were considered part of our family. It is this passion and love of animals combined with the rural setting of Lancaster that prompted this publication.
It is our hope that you will support and share our efforts as a start up magazine. We sincerely appreciate your patronage and certainly welcome your feedback.