Saturday, July 29, 2017

Is Your Horse Dehydrated?

Hot weather can be fatal to horses if they become dehydrated. Sweating due to work, lack of palatable water, even clover slobbers can lead to dehydration.

Dehydration is the result of more fluid being lost than is taken in. It can be caused by increased sweating or urination, fever, diarrhea, and hemorrhage (bleeding).

Signs of dehydration:
            Slightly higher temperature
            Increased respiration
            Skin appears dry and wrinkled, loses pliability (pinch test)
            Weight loss
            Poor appetite
            Muscle weakness
            Increased thirst
In severe dehydration depression, coma, circulatory collapse, muscle tremors and death can occur.

Prevention – Provide clean, cool, fresh water available at all times. Make sure buckets are clean.

Do not overwork during heat, have horse in good condition.  Ride early in the morning or in late evenings when it is cooler. Hose your horse down after working to cool him/her off.

Have salt available free choice and shade for the horse.

Treatment - If dehydration is due to lack of water allow your horse to drink in small, frequent amounts. When dehydration is due to excessive fluid loss or horse does not respond after drinking water, or won’t drink, call the vet.

In hot weather monitor your horse’s vital signs:

Normal Temperature (adult horse) – 99.5 – 101.5 degrees

Normal Pulse at rest – 30-40 pulses per minute

Normal Respiration at rest – 8-16 breaths per minute

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Four Days at the 2017 NC State 4-H Show

I spent four grueling, hot and dusty days last week at the North Carolina State 4-H Championship Horse Show. I had it easy – I was a vendor. I was inside the main arena and I had a fan and a chair. A couple of hundred 4-Her, their leaders and family were working hard showing their horses and sweating!

My daughter 1980 and Granddaughter 1997
Last week brought back fond memories of all the years I was a 4-H Horse Club leader, show mom and then grand-mom. My daughter’s first 4-H horse show was about 1980, in Dorton Arena since it before the Hunt Horse Complex was built. In 1997 my granddaughter rode in her first State 4-H horse show. As a 4-H leader I brought a lot of kids and horses to the NC 4-H Championship horse show. We sweated, slept in tack stalls, and worked sunup till sundown caring for the horses, schooling and showing the horses. We complained about the heat, but it didn’t stop us. And sometimes were brought home ribbons – and once or twice someone from our group even won a division championship.

I’m retired from working with horses and riders. Now I write about horses. I must be honest, I am not missing the work involved, so much as I miss the children. Having kids stop by my booth on their way from one place to another all day was lots of fun for me. Many stopped to look at my books and sign my email list – and to take a free treat back to their horses. Several had already read some of my books.

“Oh, I read this in fourth grade!” one teenager exclaimed. She was from the western part of the state. It was nice to know Pale as the Moon had found its way into a school library that far from home. Some others said they’d used my non-fiction books to study for horse quiz bowl. Through my books I am still involved in the 4-H Horse Program in a small way.

I am proud of the North Carolina 4-H Horse Program. It is top notch! And if you have a child that loves horses please call your county extension agent to find out how he or she can join a 4-H Horse Club. Kids don’t have to own a horse to join. There are many ways they can learn and participate without being a horse owner. Go to this website to learn all about the NC 4-H Horse Program.

Thank you everyone who stopped to speak to me at my “Books by Donna Campbell Smith” booth – an extra thanks to those who bought books! Check my website from time to time to seen what I am doing or find me on Facebook Congratulations on your success. It was a big deal just qualifying to be at the State Championships. Kudos if you brought home a ribbon, and most of all kudos for putting your horses first and for being kind to one another. The world needs more of you!

I spent some time practicing action shots

That's me!

Two young friends pose in front of my poster

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Feeding Donkeys
Click to buy The Book of Donkeys
One of my readers told me he was considering buying a donkey, but after reading The Book of Donkeys he decided not to because “there are so many things they can’t eat.” I felt bad that my chapter on health discouraged him. On the other hand, if he didn’t feel confident it was a wise decision to delay donkey ownership until he felt convinced that he was ready.

It is true, donkeys have a unique metabolism, developed from their natural desert habitat, in that they need less energy and protein in their diet than horses. Donkeys thrive on forages high in fiber. Due to their unique digestive system food stays in the donkey’s digestive tract longer than it does in horses, so they digest more efficiently and therefore require less food than horses of similar size.

The most important nutrient for your donkey’s good health is clean water – available at all times. For donkeys kept in a paddock or dry lot, quality grass hay diluted with straw can provide adequate food, with the straw satisfying their grazing instinct while limiting calories. Hay should be free of mold, weeds, or any foreign objects. Donkeys kept in a pasture will not need additional feed in the summer. In fact, they may need their access restricted in the spring and summer months by putting them on smaller tracts or by using a grazing muzzle. In the winder supplement pasture with hay and straw. Donkeys seldom need concentrated feeds (horse food) or grains and if given supplements be sure it is meant for equines and not cattle, swine or other livestock. Do provide a salt block. Any changes in the donkey’s diet should be made gradually. Monitor the donkey’s eating habits. When a donkey goes off its feed, it is cause for concern and a veterinarian should be consulted.
Grass hay should be free of mold, weeds or foreign objects

Over-feeding can lead to various metabolic diseases including colic and founder. Equine insulin resistance is one of the metabolic diseases that can be a problem especially for miniature, small, and aged donkeys. Over-feeding and obesity are key factors in the disease. The condition can lead to laminitis and hyperlipidemia. Insulin resistance occurs when tissues no longer respond to insulin, and therefore blood glucose concentrations are poorly regulated. It can remain elevated, particularly after a meal rich in starch and sugar.

Insulin resistance can be diagnosed by a veterinarian with blood tests. While there is no cure for insulin resistance, good management practices will help the donkey live well. Reduce calorie intake, especially carbohydrates. Feed moderate quality grass hay—not alfalfa or other legumes. Some research shows that soaking hay in warm water before feeding reduces the carbohydrate content by 40%. Warm season grasses are lower in carbohydrates than cool season grasses. Do not feed grain and do not give the donkey treats like candy and cookies, or even carrots and apples even though they seem like healthy food. Increase the donkey’s daily exercise by longing, ground driving and walking.

A donkey can be a delightful companion animal and are generally hardy. Follow these simple feeding guidelines and it should do fine. As an extra plus, it is comparatively inexpensive to feed a donkey given they do better on grass hay, which normally cost much less than legume hays and seldom need horse feed or supplements.