Horse Birthdays: No Reason to Celebrate

December 1, 2009

Bright light. Dark shadow.

The thoroughbred industry uses common birth dates for horses.

August 1 in the southern hemisphere and January 1 in the northern hemisphere.

These dates coincide with the horse racing season.

This system standardises thoroughbred ages for comparison (due to the historical lack of actual birth day records).

On August 1, after a horse is born, it’s deemed a yearling. The following August 1 is its second ‘birthday’. It’s considered two years old, even if it’s as young as one year and one day.

Thoroughbred breeders aim to produce foals close to August 1. That way, when it’s time to train them, it’s the right time of year to race them.

This practice sees young horses ridden and raced before their bones and joints have matured.

Shoeing, and the unnaturally high protein diet given to these young animals, add further stress to immature joints.

As a result, thoroughbred horses older than five have many soundness issues.

Unfortunately, many of these visually beautiful animals are sold to the pleasure horse industry, causing emotional and financial heartache to many.

Learn more.

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Amanda’s Tale

December 1, 2009

By Amanda Gallen, a Queenslander with two of our two-year-old Morgans.

Waking at dawn on our first day at Judy Oldmeadow’s farm was very special. I looked out the cottage window to the beautiful valley below. I woke my daughter Brianna so she could also experience the moment.

We had brekky, dressed quickly and went to the paddock to see our horses Sarge and Ava. They’d grown so much since we last saw them!

They were in a paddock with the other foals. We walked in and sat on a log. The herd noticed us and came over – our babies leading the way.

They smelt us from head to toe. So inquisitive! This was something I really wanted Brianna to experience.

Our week was full of adventures; childhood memories Brianna will never forget. Judy put her in charge of the farm’s smallest horse – a Shetland pony called Sailor.

It was just what Brianna needed. She gained so much confidence with a horse that was just the right size for a beginner. She fell a few times, once quite heavily. No broken bones; just one of those needed-to-happen experiences.

Brianna went very quiet after that and returned to the cottage for a rest. But she came back ready to regain her confidence.

I played with my babies and watched how they fitted into the herd. Observing lots of mare behaviour, I decided that human mothers would do well to act like mares. That way, our kids would get what we say first time, rather than wear us into the ground.

While most foals are well behaved, some don’t learn quickly. Sarge is one of them; he’s covered in bites as he just doesn’t move fast enough!

I rode with Judy – right inside the herd of mares and foals. I felt like I was running with the wild horses in The Man from Snowy River! It was an amazing buzz that kept a big smile on my face all night.

Judy worked with Ava and decided she was ready for saddling. Ava’s a clever filly and we even had Brianna sitting on her and walking around.

Though Ava was excited to have Brianna up there, everything was done with the utmost attention to safety and I wasn’t at all concerned.

I’m very happy I bought her.

I could go on and on about our lovely horsey experiences. Suffice it to say the farm truly felt like heaven to me!

The Miracle of Tanjil

November 30, 2009

Tanjil. You will believe a horse can cry.

By Christi Wales, Accountant and Mother.

For her twelfth birthday, I took my daughter Dana to Judy Oldmeadow’s Morgan Horse Farm.

I never thought it’d be an amazing, life-changing day for me.

We began by bringing all the mares and foals to the round yard to see how they interacted with toys and us. Dana sat in the yard and the foals loved her, perhaps because she’s young too.

Dana and Echo. Connecting with a foal? Priceless!

Judy and I noticed that one mare, Folie, was overprotective of her foal, Echo. The poor thing wanted to play, but Folie wouldn’t let him. So we joined Dana and I spent some time massaging Folie all over – which she loved. Before long, she let me near Echo and encouraged him to interact with me.

I held out my hand and let Echo toddle past me, just brushing his back to get him used to my touch. I then massaged some of the other mares. With three children myself, I figured they’d like their necks, backs and rumps massaged.

After a while, Folie was so relaxed that Echo was able to break away and play. It was a fantastic sight that I was proud to be part of. I kept massaging the mares, plus any foals that approached.

Then Tanjil decided that no other mare could have me.

I’d rub her and try to move on, but she’d come next to me, right near the other horse. Though she didn’t touch the horse, it knew she was boss and walked away.

At first I thought it was funny. Why did Tanjil want me to herself? She did it again and again with every other horse I tried to rub.

My hands were getting sore and Folie was giving her foal a chance to explore. So I decided to wait to see what happened. Well, little Echo headed in my direction with his mum’s full support – a fantastic breakthrough for both of them.

A bit later, Echo was hanging around so I gave him a rub and Tanjil just stood near me. I found it strange; had I done something wrong? Then Tanjil came and stood with her head right over me.

I started rubbing her neck thinking, ‘Why me? Was I was a strong leader? Did she feel I was a strong mother?’

Being a mother is hard. Sometimes I feel I don’t have the strength. But I find it and keep going. If I don’t, no-one else will do the things I must do to keep my family safe, together and running smoothly.

I don’t get a break from being leader of my herd. At times I hate being the one who has to pull rank, keep everyone in line and be tough to be kind in the long run.

At that moment my emotions overwhelmed me. With her fantastic intuition, Judy yelled out that the last time Tanjil had stood this way with her, it’d made her feel like everything was going to be OK.

I glanced at her and nodded; a huge lump in my throat. Then my tears flowed.

I looked at Tanjil and couldn’t believe what I saw. She was crying with me! Not just watery eyes; these were full tears, rolling down her face, one after another along with mine.

Was I delusional? No. This magnificent mare was helping me with my doubts as a mother. I thought then that maybe she also felt the pressure of being the leader who kept her herd in line.

Tanjil gave me what I never got from my mother. What I needed to know when I became a mother myself: I’m a good mum. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be OK. We can only do our best. We make mistakes, but that’s OK too.

I then thought that maybe Tanjil also needed reassurance that she was a great mum and leader. Because when I saw her with her foal and the herd, it was exactly how I felt.

I’ll never know if she felt my empathy. I’d not seen a miracle before, but that’s the only word I can use.

I have a horse named Major. When Judy took Dana and me to the rest of the herd, Major stayed with me while the other horses went to the car.

He was so affectionate. I was rubbing his body when he moved – uncomfortable with the slope. I thought he was going to walk away but he simply ambled to level ground and waited for me.

I hugged his neck and said I loved him, that he was a good boy and that I wished I could see him every day. As he wrapped his head around me, a tear rolled down his face.

It was very moving. I remembered that Major had lost his mum when very young. Maybe he perceived my feelings of abandonment.

Had I not experienced my miracle with Tanjil, I wouldn’t have thought a horse could cry.

Now I know they feel pain, sadness and love.

Pets Blogs

Then and Now. My Journey.

November 28, 2009

Judy Oldmeadow . Decide what you want and the Universe will conspire to help you.

By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

Dark days

Last day of school holidays. It’s nearly dark as I push a heavy barrow round the horse yards. Forcing my overworked 53-year-old body to pick up the last of the manure.

Vaguely, I wonder if I could analyse people by their shit, as I can horses.

Calico dumped her piles by the gate as she looked for someone to take her back to her paddock.

Holly, the fiery Arab, spread hers fast and loose along the fence as she impatiently paced, neighing for attention.

Banjo, the slow-thinking beginner’s horse, deposited his huge pile under the tree where he patiently waited for something to happen.

Barrow empty at last. A final check for brushes and tack in their correct places.

I limp inside. Happy I’m alone at last, but sad I’ve only enough energy to shower and collapse into bed without eating.

For ten years I’ve been running children’s riding camps on my 22 acre property.

I know I can’t sustain this life of one camp after another, with ten kids in my one bathroom, no partner and only a teenage assistant and daily cook to help me.

At the end of each camp, no matter how tired I am, I always give each parent an encouraging report on their child’s particular skills.

Today I advised a mother to tell her nagging, blaming, attention-seeking daughter to forget horses and take up acting.

Time to stop.

A place in the sun

I lie under a walnut tree on a stunning 240 acre property, surrounded by contented Morgan mares and their foals while my imported stallion stands watch.

I smile as I watch lead mare Tanjil and her filly Yve. Tanjil’s mothering skills never cease to amaze me. Within three hours of Eve’s birth, Tanjil pushed her over to my LandCruiser to let her investigate it. Next, she nudged Yve to me and kept her there with her body, letting me touch her all over.

For three weeks Tanjil did this with all new human visitors, occasionally pushing Yve away if a person wasn’t to her liking. Now Yve is allowed to make her own choices. She’s curious, confident, friendly and respectful.

Horses could teach people a lot about parenting.

I hear my husband Miles slashing the paddock ready for the fire season. I allow myself a moment of pride for our achievements.

Our Morgan herd comprises a stallion, five purebred mares, two partbred mares and three other breed mares in foal. This year we have five foals at foot, seven yearlings and one two-year-old running in the hill paddock with the nanna mares. All but one sold.

We provide agistment for the horses we breed until they’re two. This gives them the best environment for sound hoof and bone growth in a herd that develops confident personalities.

We’re succeeding beyond all expectations.

Our cottage lets owners get to know their new horse in a safe environment. This month, our first two-year-olds have gone to new homes in three states – well mannered, confident, barefoot and sound.

I work with my horses to teach communication, assertiveness and self awareness while having fun.

I’m living my dream.

How did I do it?

All my life I’ve not made changes until things got bad enough. I saw myself as tough – nothing could make me cry.

Then my closest friend fought a long, heartbreaking struggle with cancer. One of her coping mechanisms was to plan her own funeral.

She designed an amazing mural for her coffin, chose the music and asked mourners to walk to the cemetery. She asked me to ride beside the hearse leading her mare Tinto – saddled, with her boots backwards in the stirrups, military style.

I agreed, thinking it’d be a lovely way to say the inevitable goodbye. At the cemetery I tied my horse to a tree and led Tinto to the grave. In the silence after the service, Tinto called and my horse answered.

A huge wail rose in me. I cried for weeks. In the supermarket. At the doctor. With visitors. Alone. Years of suppressed tears.

Worried for my sanity, a friend suggested internet dating. I didn’t even own a PC! She set me up on a hand-me-down.

After three months, I was over my depression and happy to live alone. Then I got an email from Miles Oldmeadow. My deceased friend had worked with his mum and we’d met several times.

We had much in common and many mutual friends. Two years later we married. I sold my farm and began building my new teaching facility at Samaria.

I was used to aching knees; they’d both been dislocated and lacked medial cartilage. But in our second year of marriage, my pain was everywhere. I tried to work through it, but sometimes I spent days in bed – exhausted by an hour’s work.

After a merry-go-round of tests, specialists and medication, a rheumatologist finally diagnosed fibromyalgia.

My research into managing this condition included meditation and reading about post traumatic stress. I noticed I was almost pain free when relating to horses.

Early one morning, with pain preventing sleep, I decided I’d breed safe, friendly, comfortable-to ride Morgan horses for families.

I was thrilled when Miles embraced my idea. In November 2006 we began our journey by purchasing two purebred mares.

I no longer have fibromyalgia symptoms. My depression has lifted and I’m breeding sensational horses while coaching animals and humans into harmonious relationships.

Life got bad enough.

I did something about it.

Pets Blogs

Ye Reap What Ye Sow

November 28, 2009

Flowers, bees and birdsong wherever you turn.

By Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

Miles and Judy Oldmeadow are both keen gardeners. Everywhere you look there are plantings of some description.

And the varied, thriving bird life has to be seen (and heard) to be believed.

Jude is fastidious about making her guests comfortable when they visit their horses.

I found this posie, freshly picked from the house garden, in the bathroom when I came to stay.

Those who can be trusted in small things, can be trusted in great things.

Next to it was a gorgeous cake of hand-made soap from a local producer. 

Small touches like this leave you in no doubt that your hosts think and care a lot about what they’re doing.

From what I’ve seen so far, this unerring attention to detail pervades every task (horse-related and otherwise) right up to the big-ticket items.

Pets Blogs

Running Bare (Part 2 of 2)

November 27, 2009
 

Varied terrain? Check!

By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

As promised, here’s my take on Andrew Bowe’s www.barehoofcare.com site.

Brumbies and American Mustangs have amazing feet. They don’t get trimmed, but they do travel many kilometres each day over varied terrain to graze and find water.

So why question thousands of years of evolution?

Historically, horseshoes let soft-footed domestic horses be used in any terrain. They helped mankind conquer the world in war, agriculture and transport.

Yet shoes come with a host of problems. If you’re not out conquering the world, these problems come to the fore.

Shoes protect the soft inner structures of a horse’s feet. But in so doing, they impede all other foot functions.

Absorption

The equine foot is a complex, three-dimensional shock absorber.

It’s designed to absorb nearly all the concussion from ground impact before it reaches the lower leg joints (which can only handle a very small amount).

Shoes blow this function out of the water. Not only is the frog unable to act as the initial and primary weight-bearing structure, the impact of the rigid shoe goes straight through the hoof wall into bones and joints.

Circulation

Proper function lets blood and lymph freely access every living cell in the foot, providing nourishment and removing waste. This is called perfusion.

Shoes seem to significantly compromise circulation. This is most evident on cold mornings, when healthy bare feet are warm to the touch, but shod feet are cold. There’s even a temperature difference between shod feet and bare feet on the same horse.

Shod feet grow much slower than bare feet because healthy tissue can’t thrive with poor circulation.

Weight Bearing

The equine foot is designed to share the weight bearing responsibilities across most of the ground surface (the inner wall, some sole and most of the frog). Notable exceptions are the outer wall and quarters, which aren’t designed for weight bearing.

The foot even adapts over time to the ground it’s living on to optimise this sharing of the load.

A shod foot, however, carries the weight of the horse entirely on the wall (including the outer wall and quarter, which should NOT be weight bearing).

This change in weight bearing may squeeze the coronary artery, causing blood to be shunted to the vein above the hoof. It may also cause a failure of the valve system that would otherwise lock the required blood into the foot at each stride for cushioning and perfusion.

If a horse can’t stand comfortably with vertical cannon bones, it must brace its neck and shoulders to engage its stay apparatus.

This causes fatigue and these poor animals can’t even get a good night’s sleep! Over time, this bracing manifests in the overdevelopment of certain muscle groups.

Deterioration

Horse feet deteriorate with domestication. The situation doesn’t improve with each successive shoeing. Rather, the more times feet are shod, the more they rely on shoes.

Chronic lameness is a degeneration that develops in a dysfunctional body over a long period of time and manifests into such problems as: laminitis, navicular, ringbone, side bone, degenerative joints – all of which are huge problems in the equine industry.

Horses are much better not shod in the first place.

Why Barefoot?

With barefooting, we maintain a horse’s feet in a physiologically correct framework, so they can move correctly, rest comfortably and remain functional at all times.

Rather than prop up dodgy foundations with shoes, barefooting develops strong, healthy foundations beneath a horse.

This leads to better long-term soundness.

Happy feet = happy horsie!

Pets Blogs

Running Bare (Part 1 of 2)

November 25, 2009

Our horses enjoy the diet, room, terrain & company they need for healthy barefooting.

By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

Barefooting is hotly debated issue. Barefooters even differ among themselves. In this article and the next, I’ll explain the ins and outs of running bare.

Twelve years ago I held kid’s horse-riding holidays on my farm at Booroolite in the Delatite Valley.

I usually had 10-20 animals, from ponies to Stockhorses, in my care. Most were shod and worked hard during the school holidays, with time off in between.

Common shoe-related problems included cracked hooves, horses that tripped and were irritable and having to replace lost shoes between farrier visits.

My extraordinary farrier, Andrew Bowe, has a science degree and an enquiring, perfectionist nature.

When he started talking barefoot, I was first attracted by the cost saving. Over time, however, Andy’s passion convinced me of the benefits to my horses.

Within a year, all my horses were sound and happy, with no lameness and not a shoe in sight.

I swore never to shoe a horse again.

Andrew Bowe: NOT your average farrier!

This got me researching horse breeds and choosing Morgans for their exceptional feet (along with all their other virtues).

Breeding sound barefoot horses takes more than just ditching shoes. They need room to roam, varied terrain, a balanced diet, company and regular trimming.

Our horses are trimmed about every six weeks and our foals have their first trim before weaning.

Andy, his wife Nicky and the trimmers they train look at each horse as an individual and trim according to its work and living conditions.

I like how they work with nature, not against it.

We now host regular training days for Equine Podiotherapy Diploma students. Even our weanlings take part.

One of our training days for Equine Podiotherapy Diploma students.

Last year Andy used Nimrod (our stallion) for his barefoot trim demonstration at Equitana. He’ll do likewise next year.

In my next article, I’ll look at the arguments for and against barefooting by borrowing from Andy’s excellent website at www.barehoofcare.com


Pets Blogs

Magnesium & Horses. What’s The Deal?

November 23, 2009

Visitors often joke about me drugging our horses because they’re so calm.

By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

An old breeder once told me, ‘I’ve been to places with one or two quiet horses, but never one where the whole herd is quiet and friendly!’

We have over 40 horses. And when a new one arrives with insecure behaviour, it becomes calm and tractable in a very short time – sometimes only days.

Owners visiting their horses after several months often don’t recognise them and make comments like, ‘She’s standing taller’, He’s moving more smoothly’ and recently of an older brood mare, ‘She looks proud and happy’.

I used to attribute this to my training methods. As I’ve matured, however, I’ve noticed how much our living environment, natural pasture and wonderful water contribute to calm, peaceful horses with sound feet, bones and joints.

Magnesium is often called the ‘nerve mineral’. It regulates nerve fibres, controls the central nervous system and helps with muscle and glandular function.

Horses deficient in this element can show nervousness, wariness, excitability and muscle tremors. This gives magnesium its reputation for having a calming influence on equines.

Horses have a limited ability to store magnesium. Problems arising from deficiency usually manifest quickly.

Magnesium deficiency is becoming widespread in Australia. It’s more readily inhibited than calcium by artificial fertilisers. It’s also made inert in the body by the sodium fluoride in some water supplies.

A study of magnesium uptake in horses was conducted by six veterinarians at the Department of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, at Ohio State University.

It found the magnesium requirement of a typical horse was at 13 mg / kg of body weight per day. Horses growing, lactating or working use more (a lot of magnesium can be lost in sweat).

Opinions vary widely on magnesium supplements. It naturally depends in part on whether the soils on which a horse is grazing are deficient in the element. Such deficiency will be reflected in the grass grown.

In general, a horse gets 60-100% of its daily magnesium needs through a normal forage diet.

Deficiencies are most likely in spring (during periods of strong grass growth) and winter on pastures in milder areas (where grass is being pushed along with fertiliser).

Grass in both circumstances is likely to be low in magnesium, sodium and soluble carbohydrates, and high in nitrogen and potassium.

This is a double whammy: high potassium levels can slow the absorption of what little magnesium there is, while sodium (low in these situations) helps uptake.

Mechanisms affecting magnesium uptake in a horse are complex and not always diet related. Deficiency may just as likely be due to too much dietary potassium inhibiting uptake.

Nor is potassium the only potential player in this tricky equation. The presence and proportions of dietary calcium, phosphorous and fats also impact a horse’s ability to use the magnesium in its diet.

A deficient horse is likely to have a poor tolerance for work. Its muscles tie up quite quickly.

Magnesium even plays an important part in reducing equine obesity, and can lessen the risk of laminitis in animals prone to it during periods of strong spring grass growth.

Next time you’re looking for someone to care for your horse, make sure magnesium is on your list of ‘tough questions’.

Click here for a copy of our water report, which includes magnesium.

Where The Bloody Hell Are We?!

November 22, 2009

Map courtesy of Whereis.com

We thought it’d be nice to give you a sense of where we are in the world.

Can you see all the national parks around us? No wonder our air and water are so clean! Let us know if you find this map hard to read and we’ll try for a better result.

We’ll put this map in a global context shortly. Just figuring out the best way to do it.

We’ll also provide directions from various locations, so you can visit us and our lovely Morgan horses in double-quick time.


Pets Blogs

Now We Have a Shop!

November 20, 2009

A wide range of horsie stuff AND some fab books on empowering women.

An exciting day. We’ve just loaded Jude’s 20 favourite books into our very own shop.

Now you can see the key reads that helped shape Judy into the fine, strong (horse)woman she is today.

These titles have been read, used and highly recommended by her.

Just click the pic or this link to check out the range. And watch out for the CDs, DVDs and other beaut stuff that we’ll add to our shop down the track.


Pets Blogs