Monday, October 24, 2016

Horses Want to be Happy ...

Howdy Friends!

"Just like us, horses want to be happy. They have a desire to please. And they think a lot. They are better than most folks at noticing things—things they want investigate, things they love, things they worry about. We have a responsibility as owners, caregivers and partners to be there for our horses. When they ask a question that’s important to them, it should be important to us as well,..." EXCERPT from my book, "It's for the Horses: An advocate's musings about their their needs, spirit, gifts and care" ~ Gitty Up, Dutch.

Monday, August 29, 2016

"A visit from Bob"

Howdy Friends!

I hadn’t thought of my friend Bob for a while. Perhaps he just wanted to sit together again, like we used to.
Bob & me and Jack, on the couch ... A gathering of his many friends for Bob's 70th birthday. Soon after that he was gone. But he still visits me.

 Saturday, Kessy and I were enjoying Coffee Clutch. This morning Bob, and our many visits occupied my thoughts. Bob was taken from us too soon, a few years back. A Viet Nam vet, agent orange and cancer eventually won. Sitting with Kessy something took me to Bob’s big shop where his tools, collectables and motorcycles lived. Often on a visit to his farm he’d steer us to that place he called his sanctuary. We’d sit in the old, worn chairs, between his bikes and wood stove, sip on coffee and swap stories. Mostly he’d have the stories, Ol’ Bob was indeed a master storyteller. Often though, we’d simply sit together—in the summer doors flung, wide fans whirring—in the winter all tucked in, wood stove blaring ... Friends don’t always need words. I felt Bob join me this morning, no words, just a visit. Perhaps he just wanted to sit together again, like we used to. 
Bob at his 70th birthday ... A gathering of friends did indeed give him a great send off.

 ~ Gitty Up, Dutch Henry.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Build Your Own Hay Steamer

Howdy Folks,

Many horses, like my Kessy, have breathing issues, and should never have moldy, or slightly moldy, or even dusty hay (And horses with no issues can develop them eating dusty, or moldy hay). My research proved to me that soaking is not good enough, research and my own trials. Mold spores don’t die if soaked, but they do die at temperatures above 130 degrees, and steam of course occurs above 210. I checked the temps in my steamer, inside flakes of hay, it is consistent at 180. 
My homemade hay steamer I built for about $100.00. Big plastic tote, wallpaper steamer, a little cpvc pipe and fittings. I put the carpenter clamps on the lid to be sure the lid it seals while steaming. You can see here the tub, the steamer and hose.

I built my first hay steamer from plans I found on the internet over a year ago, so credit them. I’d been soaking Kessy’s hay, and that worked, sort of. But she got worse over time, so I built the steamer. Note here, even on the steamed hay eventually she developed full blown heaves ... with management practice adjustments, and help from Dr Thomas’ Chinese Herbs (Read that story HERE) she is totally recovered. I point all this out because addressing all aspects is sometimes what it takes. Another note—whether we see it or not, most hay has some mold in it, of course sometimes we actually see and smell it.

I just had to rebuild my hay steamer, the tub eventually breaks down. I steam Kessy’s hay 2 hours morning and night.

So here is a very simple way to build your own steamer for about $100.00.

I start with a big storage tote found everywhere. I like the largest I can find, mine is 36 inches by 20 and 20 inches high. Kessy is my only horse, she gets 10 pounds of hay, in slow hay feed nets, morning and evening—and the 2 bags of 5 pounds each fit nicely in this tote. I like to steam in the net, much easier and neater. The steam is produced by a Wagner Wallpaper Steamer I bought at Lowes for $59.00. I have mine set on a timer to steam just before I feed morning and night for 2 hours, so it’s always fresh and always ready. Note—you must use a heavy duty timer or it’ll burn out the steamer, I learned the hard way.
Inside the tote you see the steam manifold laying on the bottom. 36"of 1" cpvc pipe with 1/4" holes every 4". Note the tee, And the fitting through the wall. You'll need adapters for that fitting. You must measure the hose on the steamer you buy and with adapters bring it to the 1" size of the manifold. I do that with the pass-through connectors.
My steam manifold, which lays on the bottom, is made of 36 inches of 1 inch CPVC pipe (you need to buy 48 inches to make the tee you see in the picture). Important to use CPVC as regular pvc can’t take the heat (my first manifold I made that mistake and my manifold fell apart quickly). You’ll also need the tee, and end caps for the pipe, and CPVC nut to attach to pass through adapter you see in the picture. On the 36 inch piece of CPVC I drilled ¼ inch holes every 4 inches for steam flow.
Here is the outside of the pass-through hole. Look closely to see the fittings and the steamer hose cut to length and clamped on fitting. This took several pieces, the nipple to clamp the hose onto, the adapter to bring it up to 1", and the big sealing nuts and washers.
Drill a 1 inch hole in the side for the steamer hose to pass through, as pictured, and I used heat tolerant plastic fittings and washers to make the pass-through completely sealed. You can find what you need at any hardware store. You just need to adapt (with an easy to buy adapter/reducer fitting. It’ll take a few pieces to get it from ½ inch to 1 inch) from the small ½ inch hose (which you’ll cut to about 3 feet) attached to the steamer manifold which is 1 inch.
I used the Wagner Power Steamer, which I found at Lowes for $59.00.
Inside the lid I put smooth weather-stripping around the flange to cause a seal. Remember to wipe off the lid with rubbing alcohol so it will stick.

Attach the hose from the steamer to the pass through adapter (I cut it at 3 feet length), and you’re ready to steam. Steaming time can vary, should not be less than 45 minutes, I like 2 hours—my provider bales REALLY tight bales and less than 2 hours did not always steam all the way through good enough.
Kessy's hay in slow hay feed bags ready to steam. I put 5 pounds in each bag each am & pm.
As I mentioned I like to steam in the bags, easier and neater. When I feed, I always dump the water out of the steamer. There will be a few cups of water in the bottom, and it’s best to dump out each steaming.

There ya go, an easy to build, easy to use hay steamer. Personally with all I’ve read about the benefits of steamed hay, I’d feed it now even if my horse had no issues. Hope this helps you!

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"Pryor Mustangs and Custer Battlefield"

Howdy Friends!

 Sadly I just read Ginger’s latest newsletter for the Cloud Foundation. Her newsletters are always beautiful, and she indeed tries so hard to be upbeat, but the sadness sometimes comes through. A few years ago the Forest Service erected indestructible fences locking the Pryor Mountain Horses from the grasses of the Custer Battlefield. Preferring the cattle graze it. This land and grass has for a very long time been life sustaining for the Pryor Herd. They need it to feed up in preparation for the fierce winter. I’ll share here a few excerpts from Ginger’s newsletter.
Photo at Custer's Battlefield fence, From "Cloud Foundation" newsletter 7-26-16

 ... “Despite the dry conditions, ranchers are unloading their cows and calves that will graze in the Custer National Forest where the horses are banned.” And “Then the big fence comes into view—the Forest Service barrier which robs the horses of their late summer grazing, forage vital for them to bulk up for the coming long winter. Please click here and sign our petition to allow the herds to access this area during the late summer/fall months.” 
At Custer's Battlefield from "Cloud Foundation newsletter 7-26-16

The petition is backed with researched and proven facts how the grasslands of Custer’s Battlefield were indeed better served with the horses grazing on it. “Well-beaten horse trails have been present for decades indicating the historic use of FS lands by wild horses as reported by BLM employee Ron Hall in the early 1970s.” ... “It is the belief of professional range conservationists that targeted, seasonal grazing as proposed will improve wildlife habitat, expand plant diversity, and protect against a catastrophic fire in the Custer National Forest lands in the area in question. A lightening caused fire was quickly extinguished several years ago but after 5 years of no grazing there is a buildup of dead vegetation.” ... “On Page 128 Coughenour state in his Ecosystem Modeling that: “Horse condition was also slightly lower then USFS access was disallowed.” The model predicts what we are currently seeing as far as lower body scores.” ... Thank you Ginger Kathryns for you undying support for those with no voice without ours. 

~ Gitty Up, Dutch.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Annabel’s Glade

Howdy Friends! 

This beauty goes on for a long stretch in the valley by the big stream.
Yesterday’s ride took us through the big stream and into Annabel’s Glade. named this hidden treasure in honor of my dear friend Annabelle Byrd. I always think of Annabelle each time I ride through this lovely untouched garden. The day I first discovered this patch of Heaven wrapped in serenity, a bird flushed from behind a rotting log. It let go a “peep” and flew to cover providing me only a glimpse, enough to see its basic color and shape, and enough to understand I didn’t recognize it. Back at the house I called Annabelle and after a series of questions she identified my mystery bird as a Wood Cock, a first sighting for me. Since that first sighting I’ve seen several more wood cocks while riding near there. Annabelle was one of my dearest friends, for decades we birded together. She was one of my mentors in birding and nature. She’s gone to Heaven a few years back, but her memory rides and birds with me still ... She would positively adore Annabelle’s Glade. ~ Gitty Up, Dutch.

You can read more about Annabelle Here ~

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"I Love ... "

Howdy Friends! 
Kessy Loving our front yard

Watching Kessy stroll among Ravishin’ Robbie’s flowers this morning I’m reminded of all I love ... I love my Robbie, daughter and grandbabies. I love my mare, our dogs, kitties and our wonderful peaceful life. I love birds singing, spring wildflowers, butterflies, moss, streams that babble and summer breezes, and snow. I love stars at night, fireflies, whippoorwills calling, hot dogs smothered in fixin’s, ice cream, and God. I love our country, the many friends I’ve been blessed with. I love a quiet morning, and a stormy night. I love long wondering slow trail rides through brush, bramble and stream. I love the smell just after a summer rain, and brownies baking. And smiles. Oh my there is so much to love, take some time everyday and think about all you love, it'll warm you. ~ Gitty Up, Dutch. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"Choices: Ours or Our Horse’s?"

Howdy Friends,

So much of what is done to, with and around horses is for the person’s benefit, ease and perspective. It’s natural and certainly correct for the person to choose the discipline, sport and activity they wish to engage in with their equine partner. That is, after all, why we have horses. To do stuff. And to do stuff we need to make choices. Many choices.

Choices about housing, feeding, health care, training, saddles, tack and much more. Almost every day there is a choice to be made about something.

Everyone is busy with life; families, living and jobs take lots of time. There is never enough money. Never enough time. So, many times the choices made by equine caregivers are made for reasons of human convenience, ease and dollars.

It most often takes no more time, or money, to make choices from the horse’s perspective than from the human perspective. It requires only a simple paradigm shift. A brief pause to ask, “Am I doing this for my benefit, or my horse’s?” ... EXCERPT from my book  “It’s for the Horses: An advocate’s musings about their needs, spirit gifts and care.” I invite you to have a deeper look and buy bit for your horse. You can find it here 

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry