All of us are busy during the month of December, especially in preparation for Christmas, New Years and family visits. Because of this, we may unintentionally neglect our horses. It is easy to neglect our horses quite by accident. Most of the care we give all year can be offset by the new cold weather. Here is why: Many of our horses are pastured all year but when winter and the cold arrives, we begin feeding hay. The hay seemed great when we put it in the barn but a leaky roof or being baled with a high degree of moisture. During the late summer and fall, mold can form that you can not see. All of us seem to look at the price of hay instead of the quality.
When I planned my 3,311 mile trail ride from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, every step of the way, I called the top vet from a major feed company. I told them I wanted the very best feed. They gave a friendly chuckle and said I was missing the point. They said the feed is secondary! I will never forget what they said. “First, make sure your horse has an unlimited supply of clean water, especially in the winter. Give free choice salt, all they want. Give quality hay and the feed can be from the store and feed crimped oats”. I questioned why they did not recommend their brand of horse feed. They said it was great but in reality it is a blend of grains accented with molasses. We like the smell and the horse likes the treat, but concentrate on nutrition. They recommended crimped oats (not whole oats) that can be found anywhere in the country. My horse not only made the trip without problems, but added weight.
It may sound silly, but I have the local co-op grind a blind of corn and/or oats for my animals. It is much cheaper. Better yet, I ask them to put it in 25 pound bags for easier handling. The price is the same and the kids can easily handle it.
If you are feeding round bales of hay that was stored outside, knock off the top layer so they eat the dry and good hay. If you are feeding square bales, break open the bale and smell it. If it is off on smell or has any mold, do not feed it. The difference in the price of good hay versus the vet bill is tremendous.
I want to take the opportunity to offer a few extra seasonal tips. Take a moment to check your trailer and truck tags for expiration dates. In Virginia, we have to have vehicle inspection. It is an annual thing and much easier to get it done this time of year rather than a day before you leave on your next trip. It gives you plenty of time to replace a broken light or mend a signal wire.
Another tip few people do not realize: You do not have to pay your annual personal property tax or land tax on one day. (Ours is December 5th). The amounts can be huge even if your mortgage company pays it for you. Pat and I send the county treasurer a check each month. We divide our tax bill by twelve months. That means a $2,400.00 tax bill is $200 a month. That really eases the financial burden. Also, during these times, if you can not pay it all, your local treasurer may allow you to pay your bill monthly installments. Simply ask.
Please visit our website, www.bestofamericabyhorseback.com and see our ride schedule for the coming year. We would love to have you appear on the television show. Also, consider coming to Virginia for a cattle drive. We furnish the stall, all meals, electrical and instruction. If it is to far for you to drive, rent one of our horses!
Please feel free to write me anytime if I can help you in any way. My personal e mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I answer every e mail personally and would love to hear from you.
Tom SeayBest of America by Horseback Television Show
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