Posts Tagged ‘equine’

A kinder Magic

January 7, 2013
Judy Claire Sprite Magic Crop

Judy, Claire, Sprite & Magic.

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

I carried the tiny foal to the stable.

Claire, her teenaged owner, followed leading her mother.

Claire had first come to my riding camps at age nine.

I helped her find Magic – her first horse and dream come true – a liver chestnut quarter horse mare with long socks and a blaze.

Magic was agisted at my farm. Claire spent every holiday moment with her: riding in the bush, swimming in the dam and lying in the paddock sharing secrets.

Magic had just given birth to her first foal at 16 … a late first-timer.

She refused to let her foal drink; squealing, kicking and spinning around.

We thought of foal names as we sat in the stable waiting for the vet.

He arrived and shattered Claire’s dreams by saying, ‘The foal has neurological damage; let nature take its course’.

Never one to give up, I asked him to sedate the mare and administer electrolytes to the dehydrated foal.

Claire slept in the stable, waking every hour to calm her mare and balance the uncoordinated foal while she drank.

Morning dawned to a relaxed mare and an energetic, well-hydrated foal.

Claire named her Sprite. It had been a life-changing night for both of them.

Claire researched boarding schools that allowed horses and presented her parents with a well thought-out plan for a future they couldn’t refuse.

She took a gelding to boarding school and rode Magic on holidays.

Sprite grew into a stunning adult and moved to Claire’s parent’s holiday farm with Magic and the family horses.

We kept in touch over the years.

Sprite was started under saddle but only ridden occasionally as Claire’s study demands grew.

She graduated with honours.

I stopped running children’s riding camps to concentrate on breeding horses and teaching horse behaviour.

Claire started university and Sprite injured herself.

I was happy to reunite with Sprite when asked if I could help heal her.

Grossly overweight, she struggled to walk.

Vet visits, feet and leg x-rays, weight rehabilitation and massages still didn’t improve her ability to move without pain.

To better understand anatomy and breed sounder horses I attended equine biomechanics lectures and whole-horse dissection courses.

I took Sprite to equine biomechanics expert Sharon May-Davis for assessment.

Sharon immediately pointed out that Sprite’s front-leg lameness was caused by extra stress on her forelegs due to a pelvis injury.

She suggested putting Sprite in foal, saying the subsequent release of endorphins and tendon-softening hormones would improve her quality of life.

Though dubious, I watched in awe as, after artificial insemination, Sprite gradually began to move with ease.

With regular bodywork and foot trims, she was galloping and bucking with the other mares even when hugely pregnant.

Now, as I lie in the paddock watching Sprite trot after her foal, I realise my life has changed too.

‘Letting nature take its course’ can sometimes mean stepping in and helping where needed.

Sprite and Magic also taught me that trusting others and accepting help graciously is more dignified than battling on alone.

It’s the difference between surviving and living.

🙂

A young girl’s dream come true

December 12, 2012
396662_525045367506195_2119292278_n Crop

Pure joy … wrapped in learning.

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

Last month I spent the weekend with Janine, a psychologist, and her nine-year-old daughter Kaitlyn.*

I’d thought I was too tired to teach yet another horse-crazy girl.

But then I saw a longing in Kaitlyn’s face that I’d felt at her age.

And so I gave her what I would’ve loved to have had in my youth:

  1. An old horse to pretend was my own.
  2. An obstacle playground.
  3. Some boundary setting.
  4. Safety hints.
  5. Freedom to experiment and explore.

The old brood mare Kaitlyn played with had never been pampered before she came to me. Her delight was as great as the girl’s – as you can see in this photo album.

It made me cry.

Soon after arriving home, Janine wrote to me:

‘Dear Jude,

If I didn’t know how important our connection with horses was, I may have considered never returning to your wonderful farm!

Kaitlyn spent the entire trip home behaving like a devastated lovesick teenager. Life was never going to be the same without her one true love.

OMG Jude! She bawled for 2.5 hours. Anyone would’ve thought I was taking her back to a life of deprivation!

At two, Kaitlyn wanted to be a vet. Since age five, she has wanted to own a horse farm.

Now she imagines every detail will be ‘the same as Judy’s farm’.

She sits at my laptop watching the slide show of images over and over in a beautifully mesmerised state.

I’m working with her to hold her happy, exciting dream so it actually comes to pass.

Now you are in her heart as much as the horses, Jude. Her relationship with you is just as powerful.

You are a gift to us, Jude. I want you to know we’ll ‘repay’ you by giving our horses all our care, love, understanding and unconditional acceptance … while educating and fostering insights in others.

Take care of you, Jude.

And thank you.

Janine.’

How about that?!

I don’t feel so tired now …

Enough said!

🙂

* Real people, new names.

Weaning. Mothering Lessons from The Herd.

April 24, 2011
photo morgan horse foal wean weaned weaning

Playing can ease the pain of maternal separation. Dana with Dainty Dancer (and friend).

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

I wean foals in autumn, giving the mares optimum time for nourishing their expected babies.

With 28 horses in the herd (comprising retired brood mares, mares with foals at foot and one- and two-year-old fillies) there’s plenty of choice for comfort and companionship.

Mares in a herd like this can relax while other mares babysit. As they mature, the foals create their own gang, only returning to mum to feed.

The yearlings and two year olds provide discipline when games get rough, while giving foals an opportunity to experiment with rules and boundaries.

To wean the foals, I remove four mares at a time and put them with a couple of retired brood mares for comfort.

The mares left in the herd with their foals provide a calming atmosphere which helps the motherless foals settle quickly.

A week later, when I remove the last mothers, their foals are tightly bonded with the earlier weaned ones.

Without their mothers to intervene, these foals quickly learn the manners and behaviour needed to fit into polite society.

I spend hours with my horses, observing their problem solving and social behaviours, so I only breed from those with the best temperaments.

The four foals weaned last week had vastly different mothers.

Daisy

Bess, an aged Standardbred mare, had foaled once ten years ago. She smother-mothered her foal Daisy, keeping her well away from the herd and calling her back if another foal enticed her to play.

Though Daisy gained weight and looked well, she became shy of horses and humans. Bess lost weight and became aggressive when a horse came near.

When I removed Bess, Daisy galloped the fence line and ran to any horse or human who let her approach. She even lay down with a teenage visitor.

I returned Bess to her owner. She’s settled now, enjoying TLC and chamomile tea in her feed. She won’t breed again.

Daisy, meanwhile, is learning to self soothe.

Veto

Partbred Morgan Viv (an experienced brood mare with little human contact) joined the herd with Veto – her huge colt foal at foot.

Viv shunned contact from other mares but let Veto do as he pleased.

One day, when I was moving the herd to another paddock, Viv lagged behind.

Veto galloped back, reared and kicked at her to make her keep up. But Viv remained shut down, so Veto left her to join his friends.

When I took Viv away, she called desperately all the way to her new paddock and ran the fence line for hours before finally settling to graze with an older mare.

By contrast, Veto didn’t stop grazing or look for his mother.

Dapper

Experienced mum Crystal tends to overreact to change. She came with Dapper (her colt foal at foot) and eventually settled into the rhythm of herd society. 

Not long after arriving, she forgot to collect Dapper and rushed through a gate as the herd moved to a new paddock. Dapper panicked and jumped through the fence. No harm done and another lesson for me.

Dapper is confident and bossy with his peers but nervous of new things. He stays behind the others when humans join the herd.

When I removed Crystal, she screamed and galloped for hours, resuming each time she saw a human.

Dapper joined Daisy in calling and fence running, but soon tired of it and resumed playing and grazing with other foals.

Xelle

Angel is a purebred Morgan from NZ. She’d had one prior foal and was so relaxed after Xelle’s birth that she remained lying down to feed her.

Xelle is friendly and respectful to all. Her curiosity and intelligence endear her to visitors. She reads the play so well, I’ve never seen her reprimanded by another horse.

Angel was last to leave. Though reluctant, she only neighed once. Dapper and Daisy followed her to the gate and relived their mother-leaving anguish.

Xelle stayed with the other mares and foals, seemingly unaffected by her life change.

Angel calmly greeted Viv and Crystal, who soon followed her lead and began grazing with the two aged mares.

Free of Bess’ out-of-control behaviour, these mares have settled and only call occasionally… perhaps due to a painfully full udder.

I’ve forgiven my parenting mistakes and am proud of how my sons thrived and survived my smother-mothering.

I use lessons from the herd to nurture my networks of supportive friends and to be an angel of a grandmother.

The Round & The Square

January 21, 2010

Good. Better. Best. We do the work,
Nature does the rest!

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

What Horses Eat

Horses have a long gut and are relaxed and content when it’s uniformly full. Nature designed them to eat large amounts of various pasture and herbage.

Given the choice, they browse on sticks, leaves, berries and seeds – as well as grass and weeds.

Wild horses roam large areas to obtain food. At the mercy of climate and predators (including man) they often die of starvation or thirst.

Making Hay

Our farm is ideally suited to horses’ feed, exercise and herd companionship needs. Cutting our own hay lets us add necessary dry feed when it’s not available in their paddocks.

I believe round bales are best suited for supplementary feeding. This lets horses choose when to eat to keep their gut comfortable and still graze for variety.

When horses are fed extra hay as segments of small square bales, they wait hours at the fence for their human to deliver it – thus missing the exercise and extra nutrients of grazing.

Ad lib round bale feeding reduces competitive fighting (and resulting injuries) when hay is delivered to a herd once or twice a day.

We aim to improve on nature with the environment we provide for our horses. Cutting round bales for paddock supplement and small square bales for convenience enables this.

When we sell a horse, their new owners can take some small square bales home to help prevent the gut upsets often caused by a new feed regime.

Learning

Miles and I attended a six-week Sustainable Whole Farm Planning course in July 2007 at the Department of Sustainability & Environment.

Topics included land classification, soils, water, fire safety, pastures and a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

Our project focused on hay. We chose a seven hectare paddock and aimed to bale enough hay for two years’ use and to sell the rest to cover the cost of cutting.

Strengths

  • Sheltered paddock with easy access for weed and pest control.
  • Variety of pasture suitable for horses.
  • Suitable soil type.

Weaknesses

  • Weeds.
  • Native animal pests.

Opportunities

  • Low cost, weed-free hay that’s ideal for our horses.
  • Free, natural reseeding from cutting every second year.
  • Superior young horses with sound feet, joints and bones.
  • Fewer injuries and illness.
  • Improved paddock condition via rotational grazing and understocking paddocks.

Threats

  • Fire.
  • Low rainfall.

Dreams into Action

We concentrated our weed and pest control efforts on this paddock and capitalised our strengths via rotational grazing (heavy in winter, conservative in summer).

In November 2007, we cut enough round bales for two years. Our excess top-quality hay fetched a premium price and we had the added advantage of a fire-safe paddock over summer.

After two years, we only had two round bales left and had to buy 150 square bales for horses in yards or on outings.

Our paddock improved after a year of good rain and controlled grazing. In October 2009, we cut 100 large round and 240 small square bales! 🙂

Our SWOT analysis helped us achieve our goals. We look forward to continuing to give our horses optimum conditions.

🙂

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.

A Bounce in our days

November 13, 2009
Bounce on Hay Roll

Our beloved farm doggie, Bounce.

Bounce is another vital member of our team.

As well as an endless source of company and cuddles, she’s a vigilant guard dog, an expert ratter and an effective snake repellant.

Far from being afraid, our horses can’t get enough of Bounce and are forever trying to smell and nuzzle her.

When we take the 4WD to the top paddock, Bounce often tears along beside us – a white streak glimpsed through the tall grass.

When Bounce wants to ride, she can leap six times her height to make it through an open door.

You’ll often see her on the back seat; front paws on the arm rest, face out the window, checking that the herd is safe.

After posing for this photo, Bounce leapt off the big hay roll as if it were no higher than a doormat.

She ain’t called Bounce for nothing!

🙂