Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trail Riding and Lightning Storms

With summer upon us and the possibility of thunder storms a sure thing, we should all take pause and review all of the precautions necessary for our safety as well as our horse.  If you trail ride, you have most likely checked the weather forecast before you head out for the day or planned a camping trip. 

Many times summer storms are no more than a nuisance, but when severe weather and thunder storms are predicted it is time to take heed and make the decision on whether to ride or stand down.  As we all know, being horseback is one of the most dangerous positions to be in when a storm blows in. 

However, we all know that we can’t always predict the weather and will at some point in time get caught out and about with our horse.  When that happens, the weather forecasters and experts recommend the following:

·         Dismount from your horse immediately.
·         If you need to tie up your horse, tie the horse to a bush, never a tree.
·         Avoid at all costs open fields, the top of a hill or ridge.
·         Stay clear of tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. 
·         If you happen to be camping with your horse, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area.  Your tent will provide no protection from lighting.
·         Stay away from water, river beds or wet ropes or metal objects such as fences or poles.  Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity and the current from a strike will easily travel long distances.
·         If you are trailing your horse, pull over and make sure that the ramp is up and nothing is touching the ground. 

In closing, the following are a few facts about thunder and lightning storms.  Hopefully, we have given you enough information and piqued your interest so that you will put a plan in place as you trail ride this summer.  Bring the topic up to your riding club and appoint a storm leader so that when the unforeseeable happens, you have a plan in place and can act.  By the way, I ALWAYS brought my horse to the barn if a storm was in the forecast.  A pastured horse is in grave danger during a lightning storm. 

Facts from NOAA:

·         When lightning passes through air it can heat the air to 50,000 degrees F (about 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun!
·         There are approximately 25 million lightning flashes every year.
·         The sound of thunder travels about a mile every 5 seconds.
·         If you count the seconds between flashes of lightning and the crack of thunder and divide by 5, you get the number of miles away the lightning has struck (10 seconds is 2 miles). 

Ride Safe and Happy Trails!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Trucks,Trailers, and Campers

By the time Goldie, my Appaloosa mare, was settled into her new quarters on our property she was close to 12 years old and a really settled bomb proof horse. In a nutshell a delight to ride. Our property is 3.5 acres and between the house, barn and 2 acres of turn-out area not much land was left for riding. We’ve got great neighbors so I was able to expand my riding area around our property to now give me about 20 acres to ride with their permission. I’m sure the unlimited free, bagged manure helped with the deal!

As is the case, as you begin your horseback riding activity, you want to explore more areas to ride. We live about 60 miles north of Atlanta in a semi-rural area so I had some options with a farm owner friend with a few hundred acres of land as well as quite a few Georgia State Parks which offered riding trails.

As all horse owners know, the least expensive part of owning and riding a horse is the horse. We owned a ½ ton pick-up which had a low ratio rear axle so I had to limit my trailer to something lighter. Cindy, a close friend of mine, suggested a two stall Sundowner with a storage area under the manger. The trailer weight was not within my truck pulling power range so we purchased a trailer that allowed me to expand my riding options. Over the next year we explored a lot of new riding areas and I began filling my “bucket list” with many new trails to explore that were a farther distance, but new and exciting. 

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is about a three hour drive from our home and has about a 1200 plus acre property with wonderful trails and just a superb set-up for riding. They also have an area for primitive camping, a 4 stall barn to stall your horse and a barn assistant to feed and muck the stalls.   Cindy suggested we plan a trip in mid-May while the weather was still cool in the mountains. Cindy had a four horse trailer with living quarters so she was all set to embark upon a weekend of camping, riding and eating!

My husband suggested we tent camp which sounded like a great idea but remember he was more city than country.  So we went to a very reputable outdoor camping store and bought a ton of gear including a first class tent, stove, lamps, and lots of other must have stuff. We even did a practice run in our living room pitching the tent so we were ready too. Since we had invested in all of this great camping gear, why not plan to stay two nights!

We drove up with Cindy and her husband and arrived at the camping area with now cloudy skies.  While Tim, Cindy’s husband, and Cindy set up their living quarters trailer, we scrambled to set up our tent which came advertised as rain proof due to the rain sheet draped over the top. Now the clouds are turning to a light drizzle.  My husband was actually excited to test this great tent we bought so while I took shelter he sat in the tent to check it out. Within 5 minutes or so the rain increased to a good steady down pour. As he sat in the tent a first drop of water penetrated the rain sheet and then the tent roof. As he quickly learned, if you have one drop, many more are sure to follow so within about 10 minutes the tent became an unplanned indoor pool-unheated.

We learned the weather was going to remain marginal for both days so we had no other option but to take our air mattresses and gear and sleep in our new 2 stall Sundowner trailer. So we hooked the trailer back up, pulled up to the barn and hosed down the stall of the trailer to accommodate our air mattress.  Any late night relief runs required using the escape doors and easing off the fenders. As if a rain and a leaking tent wasn’t enough, we had high winds which also blew down the tent where we had stored some of our supplies. Note to self- “always get a reliable weather check before horse camping.”  We also learned that our ½ ton pick-up was not suited for pulling a trailer in the mountains so Cindy suggested an equalizing hitch-more stuff to buy.

On the way back home I asked my husband how he enjoyed the trip. He responded, “Biltmore was wonderful, the food great but if we are planning to do more horse camping he had two simple requests-a toilet and a bed (real one). Oh AC, heat and a place to cook would be a real bonus.”

So our next move was to look at living quarter trailers which were well beyond our budget so a bumper pull trailer sure made sense. At that time, my husband drove a ½ ton Chevrolet Suburban so all worked out well. Add in a 19’ trailer, equalizing hitches, and a 2800 watt generator and now we were really set to horse camp. Over the next span of years, we made many trips with our two trucks, 2 stall Sundowner horse trailer and travel trailer. We traveled convoy style with some walkie talkies to stay in touch.

Of course, we out grew the 2 stall Sundowner and went to a 2 stall trailer with a tack room horse trailer which the Suburban could pull. We soon found a 19 foot travel trailer to be a bit close quartered as they say so we moved up to a 26 foot trailer which then required we go to a 1 ton pick-up truck. I think we once figured between equipment and fuel costs we could have stayed at a lot of Five Star hotels. Of course, Five Star hotels do not take horses so instead we made lots of memories which we will cherish for a lifetime.

Horse camping is some of the most fun you will ever have with your horse, just plan carefully and include all the proper equipment.  Equipping your trailer with all of those must have accessories will make your stay a lot more enjoyable.   If you need assistance in equipping your horse trailer with all of those essentials, go to our “Trailer Accessories” Category where you will find tire ramps, bumper pull and gooseneck hitch locks, water caddies and tack organizers.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Misadventure in the Great Smoky Mountains: Lessons for Trail Riders

The story that is about to unfold is one I find at times difficult to think about and when I recall the details, a bit frightening.  However, my adventure, or misadventure as it may be, perhaps can save all you trail riders from dangerous situations.  I will point out my mistakes as we move along in this story.  I am sure you all have had ventures or milestones you wanted to accomplish with your horse.  Well, after trail riding, camping and participating in the Appaloosa Distance Riding program and accomplishing a 100 and 200 hour patch, there was just one challenge left and that was to ride the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains in Bryson City, North Carolina. 

My husband, being the sport that he is, tried riding with me but found it just wasn’t for him, but accompanied me on many weekend outings to set up camp for Goldie, my Appaloosa mare, and me.  Now that’s what I call devotion! 

Our next planned trip out in the summer of 2005 was a trail and camping ride in the Deep Creek trail system in Bryson City, North Carolina.  We camped and put Goldie up in a boarding barn in Bryson City and I had made plans to ride out with what were advertised as two knowledgeable riders that had rode the trails and were on a State Equine Search and Rescue team.  My confidence was high since they were experienced riders and had knowledge of topography maps and the trail system.

We were going out for just a short morning ride with a lengthy day ride planned for the next day.  Since it was just a short 4 hour ride, I took along a bottle of water and snacks for Goldie and me.  At 9:00 a.m. we met at the trail staging area, paid our admission into the park, gathered our topography maps and saddled up ready to ride.  At 9:30 we rode off bidding my husband good-bye and be back for lunch.  What I knew about the trails was what I had read in the Park Service Brochures and assorted promotional pieces.  That was my first error.    

The first hour into the ride went well.  The scenery was absolutely gorgeous with all the mountain laurel and wild flowers in bloom.  We spotted an old home stead chimney and the outline of an old cabin approximately two miles in that was so beautiful we all commented we wish the stones in that chimney could talk!  There was a narrow creek that resulted from an unground spring so we assumed that was this families’ water source. 

As we traveled up and down the next two hours, we saw the trails were no longer marked.  Prior to this time, we had navigated with trail markers, but suddenly there were none.  It seemed as though the Park Service had been in clearing the trails, cutting brush and kudzu and must have either covered the markers and trail or tore them down for repair.  All we could do at this point was follow the topo map and hope that we were making the proper turn when the trail came to a bend.  

The trails were getting narrower and narrower and we were riding on the edge of the mountain roughly at an altitude of 3000 feet.   The two riders, which were on gated horses and me on my Appaloosa, disappeared around the bend.  When I came to the bend, Goldie and I suddenly fell off the ledge and dropped approximately 3-5 feet onto a ledge below.  A horrifying moment I will never forget.   Goldie turned her head to look at me as if to say, “what’s next”?  My first thought was to unsnap the reins from the bridle and give her her head in hopes that we could climb up the ledge.  Goldie was able to gain her footing and we literally crawled up the ledge.  When we reached the trail again, I found she had a large scrape on her inside flank and she was severely trembling.  Thankfully, there was a stream at the top of the trail and I led her to the stream and began to put cold compresses on the injury, fed her apples and let her drink.  My only thought is that she was going into shock and then what to do.  That was my second error. 

Thankfully, Goldie did not go into shock and I was able to mount up and ride on.  As I mentioned, my trail mates were riding gated horses of which was a challenge for us to keep up with in order to keep the two riders in sight.  That was my third error.

As you can now imagine, the people, namely my husband, that were expecting us back by noon were beginning to become concerned about our return.  The Park Rangers told those waiting that if we were lost and had to spend the night in the mountains, it was going to get cold and a storm was moving in.  If we weren’t prepared, it would be a dangerous night.  It was approaching the deadline for the Park Service to send in a search and rescue team. 

As we rode on, we had come upon a group of trout fishermen that gave us directions to get back down the mountain, but it was going to be another two hours at least before we reached the trail head.  Our only means of contact was a cell phone of which had no service and was useless.  That was my fourth error.

By 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon we were getting closer to our starting point and cell service became available.  The connection was poor, but my husband could understand that we were close and would soon be back at the trail head.  As we got closer to the horse trailers, the horses were tired and one of the gated horses turned lame.  So we ended up dismounting and walking the last hour out of the mountains.  Error number five.

To bring this horrifying story to a happy ending, I would like to summarize by pointing out the errors we made in hopes that you might make notes so that it never happens to you. 

Error #1:  Do your due diligence on the trails you wish to ride.  Talk to other trail riders that may have rode the same trails, search the web for information, study topography maps thoroughly and in fact pretend you get lost and can find your way out if necessary.  Also, vet the guides you are going to ride with.  Make absolutely certain they come with strong references. 

Error #2:  Make certain you know first aid for equine care.  Know your own horses’ vitals so that you know when their behavior and vitals are not normal.  Carry all of the necessary first aid equipment for you and your horse.  Leave nothing to chance.  After this experience, I carried a large saddle bag with ample first aid.   Also make sure you take along enough provisions for you and your horse in the event you get caught.  For example, a space age blanket, dried meals, water, etc. 

Error #3:  Know the horses you are going to ride with.  In my case, my stock type horse was not able to keep up with gated horses.   Ask if you have “kickers” in the group and if so that they are riding with identification ideally with a ribbon in their tail.

Error #4:  Communication is vital.  After this adventure, I studied for a Ham Radio license so that I could carry a Ham Radio on every trail ride thereafter.  My husband was a Ham Operator so it made communication possible.  If you ride with a Ham Radio, research the area to be sure there is a Repeater in the vicinity.  If not, a Ham Radio will more than likely not have range.  I never rode again without my radio and the ability to communicate. 

Error #5:  If you are going to ride the mountains or any territory, make absolutely sure you have taken into account your horses feet.  Thankfully, my horse was shod and had protective boots.  I also carried a spare Easy Boot just in case it was needed.  Obviously, my fellow rider did not take the same precautions which became a risk for all of us. 

In conclusion, do your homework when you anticipate a ride of a life time!!!  We all have those dreams and should fulfill them so do your due diligence for the safety of you and your horse and go conquer those dreams.  If you have learning experiences you wish to share, we look forward to hearing about your adventures!  Happy Trails.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Rodeo: American as Apple Pie

If you share my passion for horses, anything horses normally peaks my interest.  With spring and summer comes trail riding, horse shows, and competitive events like RODEO!!!!  That prompted me to do a bit of research to learn more about the history of rodeo and bring you just a few facts.  Rodeo began back as early as the 1820s and 30s where cowboys and vaqueros would burn some of that extra energy during their down time testing each other’s skills.  After the Civil War this country sparked a competitive spirit and in 1872 the first actual competitive rodeo was held in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  As time went on, somewhere around 1910, rodeos became public entertainment.  Out of that era came Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and many others.

As interest began to grow somewhere around the 1930s, rodeos went to the big cities all around the U.S. and formal organizations with standardizations were created such as the Calgary Stampede, Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Pendleton Round-Up.

Women began to get involved very early on, somewhere around the turn of the century.  Women brought “trick riding” to the event and it has blossomed since then to barrel racing, pole bending, and team roping.

By the 1970s, rodeo saw tremendous growth which brought media attention which brought big name sponsors thus big “purses”.  It gathered the attention of folks that had no connection to ranching or the cowboy way of life but saw rodeo as an athletic event with big pay-offs.

In my view, rodeo is as much of our heritage as Mom, hot dogs and Apple pie.  Rodeo contestants are a special breed.  To me they seem fearless when that bull rider climbs aboard that 2000 pound steer to see how long he can stay aboard until he is thrown off or that pick-up rider comes to his rescue.  Or that barrel racer that speeds around those barrels leaning over until their boots nearly drag on the ground.  Now that’s fearless!!!!

As summer rodeo season approaches, lets keep our fellow cowboys and cowgirls at the forefront, support their activities and wish for their well-being.   With the technology boom and the fast passed life we all live, we need to keep alive the spirit of generations past that have made us what we are today.  So take time to attend a rodeo, a roping or cutting, or barrel racing event.

We would love to hear about your “fearless” cowboy or cowgirl.  Give us an idea of their challenges, rewards and don’t forget their horses!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Butterfly Dreams Farm: Committed to Improving the Lives of Autistic Children through Horses

My husband and I were recently reminded that miracles really do happen! We drove to Watkinsville,

Georgia, a small town near our home town, and paid a visit to Butterfly Dreams Farm a facility that

conducts Therapeutic and Hippotherapy Riding Programs. A nine acre facility where individuals and

professionals volunteer their time to assist children with special needs. Not knowing exactly what

to expect, we were greeted by a peacock, a flock of chickens, two baby goats and a stable of seven

beautiful horses. When we arrived there was a lesson in progress on Merlin, one of the retired high

level dressage horses. It was explained to us that this big fellow was enjoying his retirement, but his

long stride provides a rhythmic motion that allowed the autistic child to relax and fall right into his

long graceful gate. It was heartwarming to see this child conclude his lesson much more relaxed and

physically coordinated.

Butterfly Dreams Farm is a non-profit organization with a staff that includes a speech pathologist, a

physical therapist, four therapeutic riding instructors, a barn manager and seven gentle, patient and

loving horses. Volunteers are relied upon to help with all lessons and horse care. E-Tackroom and I

personally are proud to be able to say we are a part of Butterfly Dreams Farm with a mission to assist

this amazing group to raise money for their outstanding accomplishments. You will be hearing more

from us in the coming months as we become more involved.

With cold weather and blanketing our horses finally coming to a close and fly and nylon sheets the next

item on our list of essentials for our horses, E-Tackroom is proud to donate 10% of the sale on every

nylon and fly sheet to Butterfly Dreams Farm to assist with the children’s scholorships.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mold and Mildew – A Saddle’s Worst Enemy

That same mold and mildew that plagues us in our showers and basements are the same organisms that can easily infect your tack and completely ruin it or cause a tremendous amount of work to eliminate if you don’t take immediate preventative measures.

Mold is one of your leather saddles worst enemies.  Did you know that mold spawns thousands of tiny offspring that can be carried from small spots on your saddle to your bridle and boots via a cleaning rag or a puff of wind?

Mold and mildew come from the same family, but are slightly different in their organic make-up.  Both, however, are a fungus that I am sure many of us have found in damp manure piles.  They are their own sub-category of a living organism.  The difference between them is that mold tends to be green while mildew is whitish gray.  Whatever the differences, you MUST attack both to prevent them from spreading.

For those of us living in the South, we may see this mold appear overnight.  Mold grows best in 65% humidity and above.  Mold only needs a single spore, needs no sunlight and spreads rapidly.  However, don’t think high humidity is the only cause, mold can also grow in cold and damp environments such as basements.  If you spot mildew, you can almost be certain that the environment is ripe for mildew’s bad cousin – MOLD! 

You ask yourself, “Why is leather so susceptible to mold damage?”  Before it was made into saddles or other leather goods, it was the skin of an animal and has three layers.

The smooth side or top layer is called the grain of the leather.  Compared to human skin, the top layer has pores, tiny holes in which dirt and mold spores can penetrate.  The second layer is the core or the protein fiber that forms leather’s strength.  Most reputable saddle makers use a vegetable tanning process to retain the organic structure of the leather.  Finally, the third layer is called the rough and the side closest to the horse.

Just one tiny spot of mold produces thousands of microscopic spores.  If the mold begins to grow on a piece of leather, it penetrates the pores in the grain and begins to eat away at the structural fibers causing stains and weakening.

Therefore, mold living in an enclosed tack room will spread wildly because the recirculating air carries it to other leather items.  Once mold is present in a tack room, it is very difficult to get rid of.  As you know, it can cause irreparable damage to your tack and even allergies in humans.

With the riding season upon us and as you begin to inventory your trailer and tack, take time to closely inspect your tack for mold.  Your first clue that you may have a mold problem will be the presence of a musty odor.  There are many procedures and products on the market so seek advice from your saddle maker or someone that is expert in leather care to attack “your saddle’s worst enemy” mold!  I personally store all of my leather gear when not in use in an environment free of humidity until the riding season begins.  When I am gearing up for the trail riding season, I inspect, clean and protect my equipment from the elements with the proper cleaning tools and products. 

So as the riding season gets closer, inventory, inspect, clean and make all those equipment repairs necessary to experience a safe and fun trail riding season!  Happy Trails. 


Sunday, February 9, 2014

West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis

As the seasons change, we should be thinking about keeping our equine friends healthy and ready for the upcoming activities we ask them to perform rather it be trail riding, showing or performance events.  According to the “American Mosquito Control Association” we have roughly 150 species of mosquitos that live in the United States.  One of the most common diseases spread by mosquitos is West Nile Virus and EEE.  These two diseases are most active in late spring through early fall with West Nile and EEE being contagious to both people and animals.

Statistics tell us that 40% of horses that contract West Nile die from it.  The virus multiplies in the horse’s blood system and crosses into the brain causing inflammation and interferes with the central nervous system.  Signs of the disease include fever, stumbling, muscle weakness, partial paralysis, convulsions and eventually coma.

Much like West Nile, EEE is a mosquito-borne illness as well as affecting the brain and central nervous system as well as causing blindness, staggering and seizures.  Most infected horses die within several days and horses ages 6 months to 2 years old are the most vulnerable.

There are several things we can do to prevent the spread of these mosquito-borne viruses.  Equine vaccines exist for West Nile and horses should be vaccinated for EEE at least twice a year and according to the veterinary community a vaccination program should start at ages 6 months if the dam was vaccinated and 3 months old if she was not.  Contact your veterinarian to put in place a vaccination schedule.

We can also take additional precautionary measures by applying fly masks, fly sheets and fly leggings to horses when they are at pasture.  Of course, an oil based fly spray and fly spray system for your barn is of great benefit.  Many horse owners keep their horses inside at dawn and dusk which is prime mosquito feeding time.  Turning on fans inside the barn to create a breeze can also be helpful.  Keeping weeds down near and around your barn, replacing outdoor lights with yellow bug lights, and removing any sources of standing water on your property are a few simple precautionary measures to assist in keeping your equine friend healthy and happy.

Happy Trails and let E-Tackroom be your single source for all of your equine fly prevention products.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tips for Trail Riders

With horse shows, eventing and trail riding just around the corner, we need to give some thought to keeping our horses safe during this fun time. The following lists are a few ideas we would like to share regarding the “must have” and “must know” tips to assist in our first aid and health care duties of our equine friends. First, let’s list all of the “Must Know” we all should have engrained in our minds when it comes to the first aid of our equine friend. If you suspect that “something just doesn’t seem right”, you will want to make the following assessment:
  1. Heart/Pulse Rate (28-40 bpm)
  2. Respiration Rate (9-16 bpm)
  3. Temperature (99.5 – 101.0 degrees F)
  4. Gum color and texture (pink and moist
  5. Gastrointestinal Sounds (always heard)
These vital signs are very helpful when you are trying to relay symptoms to your veterinarian. I keep these vital signs in my barn in a Health Care Log for quick and easy reference. Also posted clearly is an Emergency Call list with my veterinarian listed first and myself second in the event that someone should wander into my barn and detect a problem. Second, let’s list all of the “Must Have” items that I keep in my barn and trailer at all times for immediate access: />DRUGS AND MEDICATIONS
  • Bute
  • Banamine
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Thermometer
  • Stethoscope
  • Scissors
  • Flashlight
  • Small Bucket
  • 4 x 4 Gauze
  • Telfa or Similar Non Stick tape
  • Gauze Roll
  • Sheet Cotton
  • Duct Tape
  • Vet Wrap
  • Betadine Scrub/Solution
  • Roll Cotton
I hope you never have to put these tips to practice, but as you all know horses seem to invite accidents and can be very delicate creatures when it comes to their well being. In future articles we will cover the “Must Have” and “Must Know” for trail riders. We here at wish you a happy and eventful riding season!! Happy Trails from Goldie and me!!

Carri Lite Corrals are perfect for when you are away from the barn

Carri-lite Corrals provide a safe resting area for horses that work, from trail riding to eventing. This portable stall also provides convenience in transporting as corral collapses down to 1/5th its size. This portable corral can fit in the mid-tack area, bed of truck, even back seat! Made of high impact engineering grade HDPE resin, ultrasonically welded and hydraulic pressed fitting, these portable panels are very durable and provide years of maintenance free service. This portable stall can stand alone or be secured to horse trailer with brackets that are included. Portable corral comes standard with Velcro ties for lighter handling. New Product Improvements include: User friendly rods for connecting panels. New leg adjustment for increased stablization. E-Tackroom is happy to provide complete customer satisfaction, Carri-lite Corrals come with a satisfaction guarantee and a 1 year manufacturer warranty.
  • Available in Horse, Pony, Miniature and Alpaca panels for your animal containment needs.
  • All panels capable of expanding to approximately 6 ft. length x 54 in. height.
  • Panels collapse to approximately 1/5th its size for convenient transportation and storage.
  • 8 panel unit "stand alone" size is 13'2" round pen or 12' x 12' square stall.
  • (Unit comes with brackets to attach corral to trailer making area larger by trailer length.)
  • Made of high impact engineering grade HDPE resin for years of service.
  • UV stabilized, won't crack and chip even under freezing conditions.
  • Portable corral will stand alone or attach to trailer with included brackets.
  • Provides a safe resting area for horses.
  • User friendly rods for connecting panels.
  • 30 day satisfaction guarantee and 1 year manufacturer warranty.
  • Corrals ship regular ground UPS/FedEX and will be delivered to your door.

A single fly can contaminate feed/food with enough bacteria to cause illness!

The fly is an enemy because it is one of the biggest disease carriers in existence. Moist, warm, decaying material protected by sunlight is favored for fly eggs to hatch and in only 8 short hours for fly larvae or maggots to grow. An uncovered garbage can is an ideal breeding place. Flies feed and reproduce on filth, decaying matter, and water.
Flies are transmitters of disease primarily because they feed on human and animal wastes. The dangerous bacteria present in the wastes stick to the mouth, footpads and hairs of flies and may then be deposited in feed intended for animal consumption. Fly feces, which contain disease-bearing organisms, can also contaminate human food. Flies defecate every four to five minutes. And since flies have no teeth and must take their nourishment in liquid form, they spit on solid food and let the food dissolve before consuming it. Fly spittle, or vomitus, is swarming with bacteria and contaminates feed and areas where feed is stored.Disease Ridden Barn Fly
  • A fly can infect feed/food by merely landing on it.
  • Flies can enter a building that has openings not much larger than the head of a pin.
  • Although they rarely travel very far from where they are hatched, flies may be lured to the sources of attractive odors. Flies may also be carried long distances by air current.
  • One female fly can produce thousands of offspring in a single breeding season. Flies have favorite resting places and are especially fond of places protected from the wind and on edges such as garbage can rims and electric wires.
  • Flies carry bacteria that can cause many diseases known and unknown to man.
  • Studies have shown that one fly can carry over 1 million bacteria on the inner and outer surfaces of it body.
  • Dead Fly ZoneOther studies have shown that there are over 120,000 different fly species.
  • The fly is one of the fastest flying insects and it's vision is sharp for only 24-36 inches.
  • One season can breed as much as
Help keep down fly population and disease ridden bacteria with the Dead Fly Zone System. Check them out! Dead Fly Zone System

Horse Keeping on a small place

Perhaps you are thinking of taking on the task of caring for your horse at your own facility and have wondered what might be involved. I speak from experience since I took that big plunge some 15 years ago knowing that I had just 3.5 acres of which my home already took up a half an acre of that space. I hope my experience gives you the courage to take on the care of your horse even if you have a small space to work with as there is no bigger reward than having your equine friend close by.

Before we begin the long list of ideas and lessons I have learned, let’s make certain you have already gained the permission from your home owners association, city or county governments to keep your horse on premises and build a barn. I had to do both so I prepared a lay-out drawing with great detail and made my presentation to both the subdivision in which I live and our city and county government officials. I found the more detail I was able to provide, the more each party believed I was serious about keeping it neat and tidy and would bring an asset to the community and our area. During that presentation phase, I invited the city and county officials to my facility before and after construction. Keeping governing officials involved is a big plus. Preparing my presentation was also a great tool in the preplanning process.

There is much to be said on this topic so we will bring this information to you in segments. In the first segment we will cover SITE SELECTION. The segments to follow will be BARN PLANS and lastly PASTURE MANAGEMENT. Follow our additions of HORSE KEEPING ON A SMALL SPACE on FaceBook, enewsletters and our web site.

Horse Keeping on a small place: Site Selection

Part 2 of "Horse Keeping on a small space"

Planning Your Horse BarnThis project deserves much needed preplanning. I wanted to build a barn that would provide adequate shelter from the elements and storage for all of my equipment such as saddles, tack, hay, grain, shavings, etc. If you are a spring trail riding enthusiast, a barn is advantageous in keeping your horse ready to ride without an enormous amount of work shedding that heavy coat in the spring. By keeping your horse out of inclement weather and blanketed you will be ready to hit the trail with much less work not to mention the added benefit of keeping your horse healthy and your life less complicated.

Also since you will be limited with pasture turn-out on a small acreage, you will find it becomes necessary to regulate the turn-out time of your horse to preserve the pasture. A barn, run pen and round pen will provide opportunity for turn-out and allow the pasture to rest.

The initial stage of planning is the correct time to select a contractor that can provide references and has knowledge of what is required to build an equine facility. A general contractor can work as well, just be ready to guide them with each detail as you progress.

Drainage & Utilities

As you study a site selection, keep in mind drainage. Your contractor will want to be able to slope the earth away from the barn to provide proper drainage. There may possibly be property line set-backs enforced by the city or county to consider as well. Bringing utilities such as electrical lines and water to the barn should also be taken into consideration. Will you need to access city water or do you want to provide well water? If well water is a consideration, contact a well digger to provide their suggestions on a location on the property. During this process give some consideration to various locations you might want access to running water. I wanted to be able to wash out my trailer so I planned access to a yard hydrant a distance from the barn with the proper drainage for that purpose. I also wanted to make water available near the fenced pasture so I could provide fresh water at all times while the horse is on pasture.

You may also want to provide a fenced run-pen type enclosure for your horse to roam in and out of the barn stall. If so, space on either side or end will be necessary. If a run pen is on your “must have” list, give some preliminary research during the site planning to the type of soil and drainage required. The worst situation is to provide run pen space for your horse only to find that with every rain your horse is walking in mud or standing water because the drainage was inadequate. I chose river sand as it drained well. Some may have objections to sand given the horse is always capable ingesting sand if they are the “busy” type. That was not my case.

Manure Disposal

Manure disposal should be considered during the site planning stage. Do you have the ability to create a compost pile given covenants or county/city rules? If so, consider where on your site you can create a disposal pile that is far enough from the barn so as not to draw flies nor aggravate neighbors. Keep in mind if you bed your stalls with shavings, straw or some other type of bedding, the amount of waste will increase beyond just manure disposal.

If you are unable to create a compost pile and spreading manure on a small acreage such as we are discussing is not possible, another option available is bagging and disposing in a dumpster. If a dumpster is utilized, plan a space for the container and adequate access by the removal company to come and haul it away. In my case, I provided an 8” blacktop road bed for a large disposal truck to come in and out.

One last structure to consider is a round pen. A round pen is extremely effective for training purposes and warming up. It can also provide another space for turn-out to eliminate boredom. An effective size is a minimum of 25’, four board high. Some trainers prefer sold walls, but I chose to fence a round structure, 25 feet, four board high. It proved to be an excellent exercise outlet when time was limited.

The final portion of your planning stage should include an access or roadway to your barn and an area to store your horse trailer. If you are going to utilize a waste removal company and you plan on keeping your horse trailer onsite, work with your contractor to provide an adequate road to the barn and a space for your horse trailer.

This concludes the second segment of our HORSE KEEPING ON A SMALL SPACE. Check back with us either on our web site, FaceBook or enewsletters for the BARN PLANS segment.

Horse Keeping on a small place: Barn Plans

Part 3 of “Horse Keeping on a small space”
It is now time to determine the size of the barn keeping in mind the amount of acreage you have to work with. I chose to do a 2 stall barn that would give me room to rotate my mare from stall to stall and also board a friend overnight if I so desired. I chose stall sizes of 12’ x 12’ with 5 feet solid walls with aluminum stall bars up another 5 feet.
I kept the stalls as open as possible in order to provide adequate ventilation throughout the barn. Ventilation is of the utmost importance since our equine friends can be susceptible to health issues in a dusty environment. I made accommodations in the ceiling height for ceiling fans that would rotate air flow up and down. I chose a stall accessory company that manufactures aluminum stall dividers for longevity and avoid the rusting and pitting you find with iron built dividers. The contractor built the 5 foot floor to the aluminum stall divider out of 2’ x 8” weather treated lumber. I was able to wash the walls down at any time and not worry about rust or rotting wood.
My mare was arthritic so I chose to leave the stalls dirt and provide a high quality mat for her to stand on. The accessory company also provided a hay door on the stall wall for hay and grain feeding. I also had double dutch doors constructed for the doors leading to the run pen. This allowed the opportunity to open up the upper section if my mare was confined inside for the day. I provided 4’ x 4’ barred windows in each stall again to provide light and ventilation. I had matching half dutch doors made to close the windows in colder weather.
I chose florescent lighting for the barn. This type of lighting seemed to be the most desirable given the times. However, E-tackroom has lighting that will be more to today’s energy efficiency standards.
The floor in the barn was cement with strategically located drains. The stalls were left in dirt and lined with heavy duty rubber mats. E-tackroom has mats for your consideration. Matting helps conserve shavings and eliminates that “round” urine hole in your stalls.
As you take into consideration the remaining space required, let’s discuss storage. I provided a 10’ x 10’ wash rack with two steel pipes embedded in cement to allow me the opportunity to hang cross ties. The walls were 16’ tall and built with water proof 2” x 8’studs. The floor in the wash rack is cement with a water drain in the center. I provided matting in the wash rack to eliminate slipping. The hot and cold running water is plumbed on the side wall for convenience.
I also built a small bathroom with a utility sink. A utility sink versus a typical washroom sink was far more usable. If you have extra space, plumbing accommodations for a washer and dryer would be an added convenience.
I built a tack room that was 10’ x 10’ with ample lighting. This amount of space allowed room for two saddle racks, a wall devoted to head gear, refrigerator and tall storage cabinet. I utilized the outside walls to hang muck racks, brooms, shovels, etc. In this type of space it is of the utmost importance to remain organized so I found wall hanging accessories a good idea for hanging tools.
The far end of my barn was the space provided for hay, grain and shavings storage. This space was 12’ x 36’ which allowed me the space to keep 12 months’ square hay bales, 50-60 bags of shavings and 30 days of grain. I was able to cordon off this space in the event my mare should become an escape artist and wander into the feed. I installed an 8’ roll up door in this area so that I could back in with loads of hay, feed and shavings.
In the stall/wash rack area I provided two 10’ roll up doors in the front and back so that I could open them up in warm weather to provide ventilation. Keep in mind as you select doors that you will want to enter and exit with your horse tacked up which will require more head space than a normal people door.
We will discuss the run pen, round pen and paddock accommodations in Pasture Segment. As you develop your plans for your barn, let me remind you to keep ventilation, lighting and safety for your equine friend at the top of your list.

Horse Keeping on a small place: Pasture

Part 4 of “Horse Keeping on a small space”

Now that we have our barn site established and ideas for our barn, it is time to consider your pasture, paddock and run pen requirements. Evaluate the remaining space keeping mind that you will want to come and go from the barn and pasture with your horse.

Turn Out Paddock

As I mentioned in the Barn Segment, I chose to allow my horse to roam from the stall directly into a paddock. In a small acreage, you will want to manage the turn-out routine you establish. With only 1.5 – 2 acres remaining it will be necessary to time the turn-out and be ready to cross fence so that you can rest pasture areas allowing the grass to recuperate. A fairly large paddock gives your horse the freedom to exercise until turn-out. As I mentioned, my horse was arthritic and was not a “sand eater” so I dug down 8” and filled in with river sand for her comfort. Keep drainage in mind as you select a substrate for this area.


One of the most important decisions you will make in the construction of the horse keeping project is fencing. There are many choices depending on a budget. I researched all possibilities taking into consideration cost and maintenance. I concluded that agricultural vinyl fencing would work best for me. I needed something that would have aesthetic appeal at all times given I was in a city subdivision and I did not have time nor effort to devote to painting and frequent repairs. I then began researching vinyl fencing and discovered that there are major differences in vinyl fencing. There is landscape fencing and there is agricultural fencing meant to hold up under livestock confinement. I then decided that I wanted to do a four board structure even though it added to the cost. Four boards eliminate the temptation of your horse trying to test the grass “on the other side of the fence” and in my mind was a safety factor to have four boards versus three. Four boards also adds height to the structure which was more appealing to me. Once again, take your time and research fencing as it is a costly investment and should be just that – an investment that will be on your property for a very long time.


My pastures are all fescue grass which gave me grass nearly all winter. If you plan on breeding a mare, you will want to discuss pasture with your vet. Mares will need to be pulled from fescue grass several months before they foal and in that case you may want to consider Bermuda grass. Again discuss this with your vet. I always planned to aerate and reseed once a year to keep my pasture in good grazing condition.

Equipment & Structures

I provided a water tub in both pastures so that my mare had access to water at all times. To make watering convenient I ran water lines to the pasture and to the paddock area. It was always convenient to keep fresh water available at all times. E-tackroom has automatic waterers you may want to consider for both the paddock and stalls.

The round pen was 30’ in diameter with river sand as a substrate and access from the pasture or barn. This structure is an excellent means of exercise and training. Keep in mind, you will be looking for ways to exercise your horse since you are on a small space with limited turn out.

The driveway to my barn was 4” asphalt to accommodate heavy loads of hay and shavings. I also placed a dumpster near my barn so I had a waste disposal truck entering my facility on a weekly basis so a substantial drive way was a must.

In closing, I hope I have encouraged you to take the step to have your horse on your own property even if you have a small space. Taking care of my horse was a big part of the enjoyment for me. So as you plan your facility, put yourself there in order to envision the space you think will work best for you. Consult with your contractor, vet and friends to gather any additional ideas. We hope as you plan your horse keeping space you will keep e-tackroom in mind for all of your horse keeping needs. If we can answer any questions about “Horse Keeping on a Small Space”, feel free to give us a call and I will be happy to discuss your project.

Happy Trails!!!!

Trail Riding 101: Selecting a Saddle

Choosing a Trail Riding Saddle Trail Riding SaddleLet’s begin with one of the most critical pieces of equipment…your saddle. This is not a time to make a saddle selection based on the latest fashion. Select a piece of equipment that is suitable for you and your horse. First consider what type of trail riding you expect to be doing. Will it be state parks, private trails, or back country? For the trail riding I knew I would be doing I chose a leather western saddle with a deep seat, a high cantle and a short saddle horn. My mare had a deep heart girth so I chose a saddle with quarter horse bars. For you English riders that chose a hunt or dressage type saddle, you may want to consider deep knee rolls to help with stability. Most importantly keep in mind that you will be in varying terrain and the most important thing is to select a saddle that you feel secure in the seat and will not make your horse sore. Making your horse sore is not a good experience and will defeat the purpose of trail riding in the first place.

Once you have selected the type of saddle you think will work for you, let’s give as much attention to the saddle and how it will fit your horse. If the saddle is not a good fit for your horse you can end up with saddle sores or galling their girth. You know you have made a good selection when you see an even sweat pattern on your horses’ back when you remove the saddle. There should not be a lot of space between the horses back and the bars. Bars that stand up on your horses back can cause your horse to go lame. Think about it…. Your horses’ back will become sore, they then begin to compensate in their gate and the next thing you know your horse will show up lame. You may think it is a leg or hoof problem when in fact it was caused by an improper fitting saddle and his back is sore instead. On the other hand, the saddle shouldn't set down on your horses’ back either. That can cause lameness.


Now let’s address the stirrups. Trail rides are not normally a short duration. Rides can last up to hours and you find yourself with knee and ankle pain. This can be alleviated by using swivel stirrups or flexible stirrups that take the pressure off of one position. A swivel device can be added but flexible stirrups are something you can do. When you are not riding and have your saddle on a saddle rack apply an oil of choice and inserting a broom handle under the saddle to flex the stirrups in the outward direction. This will “train” the leather to flex in the outward direction thus more comfortable for longer rides.

This concludes our section on Saddle Selection. I hope you have given trail riding some serious consideration. As we said in the beginning, there is nothing better than camping and trail riding your horse for fun and relaxation.

To Blanket or Not to Blanket

With winter's cold temps and northern winds upon us, some horse owners wonder if blanketing is something they need to be doing. I think that decision should be based on several factors. If your horses are not kept at home or boarded somewhere that someone can keep an eye on them, then it might be best to just make sure they have adequate shelter and skip blanketing. The most common concern is if the blanket slides out of position in such a way that it can be stepped on or the horse can get tangled up in it.

However, if your horses have adequate supervision, blanketing can be beneficial. Blanketing helps horses maintain their weight over the winter, keeps hair coats cleaner, and may lessen the cold on arthritic joints. Older less active horses may benefit from the warmth. Here’s a few basic guidelines to help get you started.

Select a blanket/sheet/turnout rug that is designed to fit your horse’s conformation. My personal preferences are blankets with the rear leg straps for keeping the blanket on straight, and gussets in the front to allow freedom of shoulder movement. Some blankets are cut back further on top to allow for prominent withers. The quality of the blanket usually determines how long it will hold together. There are many brands to choose from, I have always had good luck with BMB and Big D products, but there are several other quality manufacturers. Each winter, make sure the blanket/sheet/turnout rug still fits properly and is in good working condition, especially the leg and belly straps. Reinforce the stitching holding on straps and straighten or replace any bent buckles. If it is a new blanket, after your horse wears it a day or two, check to make sure the straps are not adjusted so tight that they are rubbing hair off, or that the blanket is not slipping sideways because the straps are adjusted too loosely. Make sure the front of the blanket is not rubbing hair on the shoulders or chest. Remove the blanket from your horse before the temperature is warm enough to make your horse sweat while wearing it. The dampness is likely to cause a skin fungus similar to rain rot, especially when longer thicker winter hair coats are unable to dry out quickly.

All-weather turnout rugs are waterproof, but usually do not breathe as well. I recommend you limit their use to rainy days. Wash horse blankets periodically to get rid of the buildup of hair, dirt, bacteria, stains, etc. Your nose will tell you when it’s time. Don’t take them to a public laundromat!

If your horse’s blanket is made of sturdy denier but still manages to acquire several rips and tears, it is possibly the work of a playful pasture buddy.

If you don’t feel confident about turning your horse out to pasture with a blanket on, you may prefer to blanket him/her only at night while in their stall, or when the temperatures get really low.

If you have comments or additional suggestions to add, please share! CJ Farmer CJ Farmer is the owner and operator of Grove River Ranch a North Georgia equestrian center. CJ has over thirty-five years experience with equine breeding, raising foals, training horses, showing several disciplines on a national level, boarding horses, and instructing riders of all levels of ability. She focuses on natural horsemanship and resistance-free training and riding methods and specializes in hunt seat, western pleasure

How to Measure for a Horse Blanket

Once the decision is made to use a blanket, many still have questions about how to measure and select the right size horse blanket to ensure you are getting the best fit for your horse. We have created a short video guide to help you take the necessary measurements:

How To Pick A Western Saddle

In one of her recent articles on trail riding basics, Margie wrote about how to select a trail riding saddle.  With all of the different options available it can be overwhelming to find the right tack that fits both you and your horse.
This video gives a quick overview of three types of western saddles and our best selling saddle from each category:

How to choose the correct horse blanket

This is a short video on how to choose the correct horse blanket. There are many variables out there when choosing a blanket, hopefully this will help you choose the right one based on your needs and the temperature of your location.