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07 January 2015 To harrow or not to harrow…

A harrow is one of the tools of ‘good pasture management’ that just about every traditional land management resource recommends.  Yet very few of us know when to use it, or why we’re even using it in the first place.

A good pasture is what we should all be striving for.  Properly managed, it can provide our horses with a sustainable, welfare-friendly, attractive home that meets their critical behavioural needs…which are {microphone to the audience} Forage, Friendship, Freedom!  Woo hoo you got it!

Oh, and an ideal complete diet..bonus!!!  Now you’re talking my kinda horse feeding and housing!

But, before you go on a pasture management neglect guilt trip, let’s first consider if it’s the best thing to be using on your pastures, and what your alternatives may be.

Trot on over to the tool shed with me and we’ll get kitted out with the why what and how of harrowing.

Read more …

08 October 2014 Recurrent colic – risk factors identified

Colic instills fear into the heart of horse-owners worldwide, and so it should. Despite all that we know regarding prevention and treatment, it still remains the number 1 killer of horses.

While a number of management factors have been repeatedly implicated in increased risk of colic, there is little information as to how these risk factors affect the risk of recurrent colic.

Researchers in the UK recently investigated factors that placed the horse at greater risk of recurrent colic bouts (in this study, defined as a second bout of colic within 48 hours of the first colic being resolved).  In particular, they identified that increasing the amount of time spent at pasture decreased the risk of recurrent colic.

This supports findings reported  in previous studies and likely reflects the combined benefit of grazing, hanging out with friends in a more natural environment, and moving around…i.e. Forage, Friendship, Freedom.

Read more …

09 August 2014 Can my horse eat Kale?

So, my wholesome herd of well-fed fillies, you know a superfood when you see one…just in case you don’t I’ve included a pic of a fresh bunch I picked up from the markets this morning!

Fresh bunch of Kale from out local markets - yum, get in my tum!

Fresh bunch of Kale from out local markets – yum, get in my tum!

I’m all about adding forage vitality and variety to our own and our horses’ diets, and I often get asked if ‘human’ foods are also appropriate to feed to our horses.  For the most part, horses can eat just about anything we do (they’ve even been documented as eating meat and fish…I know, I was shocked too!) BUT it doesn’t mean to say they always should!

Kale belongs to the ‘cruciferous’ family of vegetables, along with things such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnip, Brussel sprouts, to name a few (oh how I LOVE Brussels!).  It’s low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol (not a big deal for the horse).  It’s a good source of Dietary Fibre, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. 

Read more …

26 July 2014 The most common missing nutrient in your horse’s diet

We all want to do the best for our horses, and feeding is no exception.

We go to great lengths and expense to carefully construct our horse’s meal plan…striving to balance a diet that in reality, only the horse holds the key to.

The feeding and supplement industry is a multi-million dollar global industry, yet the health and well-being of our horses continues to spiral downwards, and we’re battling an epidemic of overfed-undernourished horses.

Despite all of our advances in feeding technology and nutrition research, we’re still overlooking the most fundamental ‘nutrient’ in our horses diet, and I’m going to share with you what I believe that is.

But first, let’s talk monkey business!

Read more …

24 July 2014 10 things you may not know about me…that I’m prepared to admit in public!

redhills profile pic

Things have been a bit stuffy around here lately so let’s freshen the air with a few things you may not know about me!

  1. My colleagues refer to me as Research Roberts – me and the research archives have a thang going on!
  2. I was an Equine Vet tech for 10 years, wrestling rednecks and rattlesnakes in the hot & humid swamps of South Georgia.  My souvenirs include a prized rattlesnake skin and a preserved 3 month old foetus, named Mr. Pickles!
  3. I am a down-to earth, practical mare that you really want around in a crisis.  I have been known to smoothly negotiate a bottle of triple-drip anesthesia, a surgically prepped testicle, and a gorked out horse…while grown men dropped like flies.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.
  4. I’m always up for a challenge (see point 3).  Taking on motherhood and a Masters thesis has to rank on up there as one of the toughest.  Never did I think changing diapers would make for a welcome break from research!
  5. I am officially a science geek and proud as punch I had my equine nutrition research published in one of the one of the most highly regarded academic equine vet journals.
  6. In reference to point 5, I’m not comfortable with claiming bragging rights, but apparently ‘It ain’t bragging if you done it.”
  7. My most favorite place on this earth is Cape Town.  If I ever go MIA check Table Mountain or a fine winery in the Stellenbosch region.  Come join me for a glass bottle!
  8. I abhor the practice of trimming horse whiskers.  You wouldn’t chop your child’s fingers off because they looked messy….why in the hell would you remove such critical structures off your horse’s face???   SERIOUSLY!
  9. My favorite bit of horse equipment is my Kieffer Ulla Salzgeber Rusty dressage saddle.  Diamonds don’t come anywhere close.
  10. I believe we should not be feeding (or eating) foods that began the process of digestion in the feed mill. Period.
  11. I have a strange and, some might say, twisted fascination with pus.  Horses tend to be really good at making it. I’ve expressed and expunged a lot over the years…including off my bare legs.  I find this to be a really interesting topic of conversation at dinner parties.
  12. I have always been a nutrition nerd, and technically I am an Equine Nutritionist.  However, that’s only a small part of what I do to keep our horses happy and healthy.  I also enjoy helping to keep their humans happy and healthy too!
  13. Yes, it was supposed to only be 10 things but I have always had a problem sticking to word counts!

What about you?  What quirky things would you like to share?  Add them to the comments section below; I’d love to know more about you!

 

 

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