Five Tips For Keeping Kids & Horses Cool At Fair
In most parts of the country kids and their horses are getting ready to spend a week at fair. And with the heat and humidity the months of July and August can impose, keeping both cool can be a challenge.
Here are some tips for getting through the heat of fair week:
1. Think hydration. Horses should be drinking at least ten gallons of water a day- and more when it’s hot. To make sure they are drinking enough water you can sprinkle a free choice mineral (with salt) over their grain. Providing electrolytes is also important. Add one liter of Gatorade to a five-gallon pail of water . . .you want to also have a pail of plain water in the stall as well. Soaking hay is another way to make sure you are getting water into your horse. Kids also need to drink plenty of water and electrolyte based drinks. Keep a bottle of water and Gatorade in the grooming bag or pail that you take out to the make-up area. Limit pop and other sugary drinks on show days.
2. Consider clothing. Stay away from black show clothes on extremely hot days – especially black felt hats. Opt instead for a light color. If you only have one outfit (and it’s black, or another dark color) at least change out your hat to a lighter color, or to a straw hat. Wear a sleeveless blouse under hunt coats and wear light or buff-color breeches. Keep blanketing to a minimum. If your horse isn’t used to blankets and slinkies fair week is not the time to start using them. A horse will stay a lot cooler without a stable sheet, although it will mean you have to groom them in the morning before your class . . . or you may even have to give a spot bath.
3. Always have access to shade and good ventilation. Take breaks during long show days under trees or in an aisle of a barn. If electric is available, put a box fan up on the outside of your horse’s stall.
4. Bathe horse and hose them off often. A bath is a good way to cool your horse down, however, DO NOT stand a horse in the sun after it’s been fully bathed . . . it will cause them to heat up. Hose only the legs and chest in between classes as a way to offer your horse some relief during the show day.
5. Offer small, light meals. This is a good idea for both horses and kids. Bring fruit and light snacks for kids to eat throughout the show day, and stay away from heavy greasy foods like corn dogs and elephant ears. Offer your horse smaller amounts of hay and grain several times throughout the day. Consider feeding a low starch grain that has less sugars and carbohydrates.
How Well Do You Know Your Hay? Hay Analysis is the Foundation of Your Feeding Plan
By Dr. Juliet M. Getty
You’ve just bucked a couple of month’s supply of hay into your barn—or maybe an entire season’s worth—and now it’s time to get acquainted with it. You made sure it was green and attractive, fresh-smelling and free of mold. You’ve stored it under cover and away from the incursion of any damaging moisture. Now you’re ready to find out what it offers your horse in the way of nutritional value.
Keep in mind that when you take fresh healthy pasture and you cut it, dry it, and store it to make hay, it loses most of its vitamin content as well as its omega 3s and omega 6s fatty acids. It no longer has vitamins E, C, D or beta carotene (which is used to make vitamin A). Therefore, if the horse is getting predominantly hay and is not getting a commercial feed fed according to directions, then you really need to supplement the diet with a good vitamin/mineral supplement. But you’ll want to know what’s in your hay before you start making up for what’s not.
Hay analysis gives you the starting point from which to evaluate and balance your horse’s whole diet. If you purchase at least two or more months’ worth of hay at a time, it is worth having it analyzed. Your local county extension service may offer analysis services, or consider sending a sample to Equi-Analytical Laboratories (www.equi-analytical.com). Follow their directions for selecting and submitting samples.
What does the hay analysis tell you? Typically, it will return the following information:
Crude protein (CP)—an estimation of total protein based on the amount of nitrogen in the hay. It does not tell you anything about the amino acid composition or the protein quality. To create a high quality protein, one that will help your horse maintain and repair tissue, combine a grass hay with a lesser amount of a legume (typically alfalfa). Most grass hay contains 8 to 10% CP whereas legumes (e.g., alfalfa, clover, perennial peanut) can range from 17-20%. Grain hays (oat, rye) generally have a lower CP than grass hay.
Acid detergent fiber (ADF) and Neutral Detergent fiber (NDF)—bothmeasure fibers (there are 5 types). Since fibers are digested by the microbes living in the hindgut (cecum and large colon), a healthy microbial population is important to allow your horse to derive calories from fiber. However, there is one type of fiber that is indigestible—lignin; the lignin ends up as manure. Lignin content increases as the plant matures. The higher these two values (ADF and NDF), the more lignin the hay contains, the less likely that your horse can thrive on this hay. The ideal ADF is less than 35%; ideal NDF is less than 45%. However, most hays have values 10 points or more higher than these desired levels. To compensate, more hay needs to be consumed. This can be easily solved by allowing your horse to have free access to hay 24 hours a day.
Non-Structural Carbohydrates (NSC)—total amount of sugar, starch, and fructan. To obtain %NSC, add together %WSC (water soluble carbohydrates) plus %Starch. If your horse needs to have a low sugar/low starch diet, the %NSC should be below12%.
Water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC)—simple sugars and fructan levels. Simple sugars are digested in the foregut and raise insulin levels. Too much can lead to laminitis because of elevated blood insulin. Fructan for the most part is digested in the hind gut, though some shorter chain fructose molecules can contribute to elevated insulin. Too much fructan generally results in laminitis caused by endotoxins in the bloodstream.
Ethanol-soluble carbohydrates (ESC)—a subset of WSC that gives you a better idea of the simple sugar level. WSC minus ESC provides a fair measurement of fructan levels.
Starch—normally digested in the foregut down to individual glucose (blood sugar) molecules; therefore, it has a strong elevating effect on blood insulin levels.
Minerals—Keep in mind that minerals interact with one another, interfering with absorption. Therefore be conservative when supplementing minerals if your hay is close to these ideal ratios.
- Calcium to phosphorus ratio—There needs to be more calcium than phosphorus in hay. Most hay (except orchardgrass) will have this balance. The ideal ratio is 2:1, but the level of calcium can be even higher and still be considered safe. Phosphorus concentration must never be higher than calcium levels.
- Calcium to magnesium ratio—Ideally, calcium content should not be more than twice that of magnesium. Most hays have a magnesium level that is lower than what horses ideally require. Furthermore, magnesium is not well absorbed, so supplementing may be suggested.
- Iron, Zinc, Copper, and Manganese—Idealratios are Iron:Copper — 4:1; Copper:Zinc:Manganese — 1:4:4.
- Selenium—This is worth analyzing, since selenium has a narrow range of safety (1 to 5 mg per day). Too little can be just as damaging as too much, so know your hay’s selenium level before you supplement.
Feeding your horse like a horse—the way nature intended—means feeding the most nutritious diet possible, including giving him hay free choice to mimic his natural grazing pattern. You’ll be more confident in feeding this way when you get to know your foundation element—the hay—through a laboratory analysis.
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected equine nutritionist available for private consultations and speaking engagements. Dr. Getty is the Contributing Nutrition Editor for the Horse Journal and she will be speaking at Equine Affaire in Massachusetts, November 7-10, 2013.Her comprehensive reference book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse as well as all the books in her “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series” are offered for purchase through her website and at Amazon.com. In fact, there’s a lot going on at www.gettyequinenutrition.com: sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative—and free—monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; read articles and search her nutrition forum; and purchase previously recorded teleseminars in audio format or, in print through the Spotlight series. Contact Dr. Getty directly at email@example.com.
Don’t miss Julie Goodnight’s column for this month “Equine Seniors”. Having two aged horses myself I found her advice for caring for equine seniors and the value they can have in our lives very useful. Go to http://good-horsekeeping.com/?page_id=139 to read more . . .
To see products receiving the Good Horsekeeping Product Approval go to http://good-horsekeeping.com/?page_id=1122
Equine media can also be part of the Good Horsekeeping column series. The website offers and 12-month editorial calendar of stories and photos for just $15 or $20 a story – depending on circulation.