Category Archives: Learning

Work Horse Won’t Move Forward?!

I decided to get on Tilly and see how she was under saddle.  

The saddle fit nicely and I chose a bit-less bridle. Tilly was calm throughout tacking her up and getting on her back. One hiccup….she would not respond to my leg or move forward at all. My friend decided to lead her and Tilly walked easily forward. I decided to end with that for the day. A few days later I got on her back again. Same thing happened- she would just stand there. Small spurs, leg, a crop (which I hit gently against my leg)…none of them worked. I was frustrated despite it not being my sweet girl’s fault so I ended our ride. I knew nothing could be accomplished with me being frustrated. I decided to do some research on work horses and posted on some Facebook forums about my situation. I received some awesome advice!

The advice I received is below.

“If she was used in harness you will probably have to use driving commands as you teach her.Walk on, or get up to go forward. Gee to turn right, Ha to turn left. May have to tap her hind quarter with the crop.”

“Get someone to lead her after you give her forward cues”
“She may never have been ridden, on driven. I would find a good trainer who works with starting horses, even though she’s not young. It will take months but if she’s started correctly she’ll be lovely and at her age will help to keep her sound once she begins to WTC, as driving horses only walk.”
Probably a driving horse. Try “Step up” or “walk on” look up the Amish terms. Gee, Haw, Gee around, Haw around, etc…See if that helps. If she was a driving or plow horse it also helps to hold your hands wider at first.”
“Patients little at a time he or she needs to know you love them first ground work is good he may be sore see if he’s stiff arthritis meds or joint supplements he may only know driving commands such a gee or has or come and get good luck”.
“Sounds like she hasn’t been ridden but is a good girl! She may need a bit in her mouth to understand what you are asking since she was driven. If she understands words, perhaps say them for what you want. Looks like others know those words better than me! I know my horse that logged has a nice “whoa”. Just can’t say “good boy” – sure, sounds like whoa! I saddled and sat on a driving horse, Belgian (no history known) with a leader for walk only. I felt that he was sore – even though there was no outward sign – perhaps the way he held himself. Not saying this is the case for you – just a thought. I like the other advice here as well!”
“I rescued my 18 year old boy in November 🙂 Same history as your mare. As workhorses, they were not trained to ride, and they don’t know the commands or how to respond to leg pressure or the bit (other than pulling). So you need to start with groundwork and then at the very beginning, because basically they are green. I do not use a crop on my boy. Never will.”
“I would never give her spur or crop. You don’t want to punish her for not understanding your cues.”
“My Belgian was not broke either but she did walk out just fine unlike your mare. Get a driving bit…that’s what she’ll be familiar with. Check all voice commands to see if she knows any of them. If not I’d teach her voice commands lunging her and then get back on once she’s responding well.”
“Because they came from Amish, a friend told me to learn the commands in that specific language (version of German). Worth a try. BUT, I will say, I have tried to avoid anything that would remind my boy of his previous owner.”
“Haw & Gee. These are commands used to ask what direction to turn by the horse by voice command. It works well when they’re in harness working. Gee means go right, haw means go left. The Amish use “step up” to take a step or two forward and “ walk on” to walk. “Whoa” to stop. Try these commands while mounted. Slowly add in the ques you want to use in addition to the verbal ques your mare already knows.”
“She might have never been used alone, which could mean she’s looking for a cue from someone else, (it would explain why someone needs to lead her) amish usually use a oring bit, she might do better with blinders at first, and she’s probably voice activated. She won’t have any clue about leg cues. Start ground driving her, she still might be a little confused being single but she figure it out. good luck.”
” when you are on her wanting her to go sometimes turning her to one side or the other where she has to step to move is a good way to start her momentum.”

Living Her Best Life

In the evening I take Ottille for a walk and set her free. Her carefree happiness is palpable and her beauty takes my breathe away every time. I still can not fathom how anyone would work this sweet girl until she reached 17 only to send her to a slaughter auction. Welcome to the rest of your life, sweet girl! Like I promised the first day we met, you can trust me to take care of you the rest of your days. ❤️

What a Difference 3 Weeks Can Make

Tilly came to me from a slaughter auction in Texas after 17-ish years as an Amish workhorse.  She was thin (she still is), sick (upper respiratory infection) had cracked hooves, had never had her teeth floated (they made a horrible grinding and clicking sound when she ate), and apparently had never been clipped or bathed or worn a blanket.  I do not think she had ever even had a treat (she still won’t take an apple or carrot).  

SYMPTOMS:

  • Rumbling gut
  • Cow pie stools
  • Grinding/clicking teeth
  • Cracked hooves
  • Dull coat
  • Underweight
  • Running nose

PROFESSIONALS:

  • Farrier for evaluation and trimming
  • Dentist for power float of teeth
  • Vet for physical, blood work, and fecal

TESTING/RESULTS:

  • CBC: all in normal range aside from her creatinine and protein suggesting dehydration. These values normalized after about 1 week)
  • Fecal: Minimal

FEED:

  • Triple Crown Senior Feed (Low sugars, low starch, high fat)
  • Tons of water with Horse Quencher added
  • Salt block

MEDICATIONS:

  • Exceed injections (2 total a week apart) then SMZ for 2 weeks
  • Banamine
  • Brewer’s Yeast (Stomach)
  • BioSponge (Gut health and to tackle her loose stools)
  • Electrolytes (To help with dehydration)
  • Strongid wormer 

 

 

Top to bottom:

Tilly on her way from Texas

Tilly when she first arrived in Virginia

Her feet upon arrival

Getting her teeth and feet done

Tilly after being clipped and bathed!

Medication for Ulcers in Horses

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BEST Guide to all Things Colitis, Diarrhea, and Intestinal Health

Age-Defying Equines

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Feeding a Draft Horse

Due to Draft horses being prone to certain diseases such as, metabolic ailments like PSSM (Polysaccharide storage myopathy), laminitis, Cushings, founder, tying-up, and shivers diet is imperative. Based on these ailments, starch and sugar calories should be replaced by fiber and fat calories.

It is recommended that these guys have high quality forage and some concentrates while working due to their slower metabolism (similar to ponies). Meaning that the less energy they use, the more weight they gain. High carbohydrate feed should be avoided, as a forage with a rational balancer and/or a low NSC feed.

Breakdown of How To Feed A Draft Horse

Calorie Breakdown:

  • 15% daily calories from sugar
  • 20-25% daily calories from, fat
  • No less than 1% of horse’s body weight in forage

Calculating Fat Content:

Pounds of feed per day x % of fat

For example,

3 lbs of feed= 3 x 0.25= 0.75 lb fat

Feed Brands:

Feeds should have no more than 33% sugar and starch (low carb).

Low in starch and sugars: soy, beat pulp, wheat bran, wheat middlings

Feeds with 20%+ of fat should be supplemented with rice bran (20% fat). Feed with anything less than 20% should be supplemented with 100% additional fat source.

  • Nutrena Compete
  • Purina Strategy
  • Blue Seal Hunter, Demand, Vintage Gold
  • Southern States Legend

Supplements:

  • Oil: soy oil, canola, corn oil, rice bran
  • Vitamin E & Selenium supplement (be careful when adding in selenium as high levels can be toxic)

The Plan

  1. Either Purina Strategy or Southern States Legend: No more than 5-6 lbs of feed per 1000 lbs
  2. Rice Bran Oil: begin with 1/4 cup and increase by 1/4 cup every few days until 2 cups are reached. Continue with 3-4 cups per day.
  3. Vitamin E with Selenium: 1-2 oz per day
  4. Forage: Alfalfa pellets mixed or substituted with Purina or Southern States feed

Mix 12 parts alfalfa (or Purina or Southern States Feed or mix of the two) with 1 part water. Soak for 10 minutes. Add in oil. Let it sit for 2+ hours. Right before feeding add in the supplement (Vet E/Selenium).