Top 10 questions to ask a breeder.

So you’ve found an ad that catches your eye, something about that young horse makes your heart leap and you think to yourself: “This is an interesting prospect!” You probably have your own set of questions that are right away popping up in your head. I wanted to share with you what questions I, as a breeder, wished I was asked more often and as a bonus, I will tell you why I think those answers matter. (This is not just for sport horses, in fact, I purposefully tried to remove any specific breed bias here.) For those in a hurry: here are the top 10 questions and...

Things you HAVE to know about Vitamin E.

Of all the lines on the nutritional analysis you can find on the bags of feed you might have in your feed room one line, in particular, has come under quite a bit of attention in the last few years: vitamin E. The last four or five years have seen some conclusive research on the importance of it and more importantly: how much our modern way of keeping horses has created a severe deficiency in a large number of them. If you hate reading all the way down to get the key messages I will make it easy for you in this case: Unless your horse is on...

What to feed growing foals- Part 3-the minerals.

Are my foals getting enough minerals in their diets? What of these new studies that say that foals and broodmare can really benefit from more Copper? Are my animals getting enough to ensure they have a long sound life ahead of them? Like any breeder and foal raiser, I ask myself those questions pretty regularly. We want the best start in life for our foals and I find myself pretty bewildered at the wide array of feed and supplements out there being offered and touted as the best solution to this niggling worry. But when I go looking for actual data on what foals actually need I am...

What to feed growing foals-Part 2, the proteins.

What should I feed my foals? How much? How do I know if it’s too much or not enough? Like any breeder and foal raiser, I ask myself those questions pretty regularly. We want the best start in life for our foals and I find myself pretty bewildered at the wide array of feed out there being offered and touted as the best solution to this niggling worry. But when I go looking for actual data on what foals actually need I am faced with a couple of challenges. the information in other blogs and articles are so vague that it is of no use. “Make sure the...

What to feed growing foals-Part 1, the source of nutrients.

New research shows that young horses do not need to be fed high calories or cereal-based supplement in order to grow well. For years we have supplemented our foals diet starting at about 3 months of age all the way to weaning and beyond with a combination of beet pulp, soaked alfalfa cubes, minerals, and some commercial diet formulated for foals (we use Hoffman developer-as it has no added grain or starches- more on that later). The idea was that beet pulp and alfalfa, being high in fibers, we were working with what nature intended for horses to eat but the added minerals and commercial diet supplements contributed...

How tall will my horse be?

Perhaps the most common question we get as breeders is: "How tall will he be?" Can you actually predict the future height of a foal? The answer is yes you can predict its future height if you are willing to accept a range.  There is however NO methods that can give you a definite precise height (16.1 1/2!)  and we will see why. You will find a few rules of thumbs here and there (the string method and the cannon bone method are the most commonly used and mentioned- I will touch on that later) and a whole lot of anecdotal evidence of this and that. Some will...

From foal to maturity.

As foal mature they change of course, but how much? How can you tell what the foal you are looking at might look like at maturity? How do you train your eye to see into the future? One way is to look at a lot of foals as they mature and train your eye to see what changes and what stays the same. Here is some examples to practice on. Those are some of the foals we raised and we were able to get conformation pictures of later in life. The old adage 3 days, 3 months and 3yrs might be a fun one to remember but frankly,...

Halter training for the new foal-Part1

How do I halter train the new foal?   Foals start out well: feral. They are leggy bundles of instinct that know nothing of the cushy captivity they are born into. The instincts that have served them well for millions of years of evolution will be constantly clashing with the world they will live in and the demand that will be put on them for most of their lives. For that reason, it is important that we ease them into our world as sensibly and as compassionately as we can. Just like young children and dogs, the first period of their lives is the most formatives. Brain plasticity...

Halter training for the new foal- part 2

Part 2- the catch and release phase Once mom and foal are settled, are healthy and comfortable in their environment there is no reason to wait any longer. Every time we feed the mare her supplement (2 -3 times a day) we take the opportunity to catch the foal. We work in a fenced-off area or in a shelter so that there is some limit to how far the foal can go. With her nose in the bucket, the mare is generally a nice passive helper. The young little horse is usually afraid of us tall bi-pedal creatures and being afraid of new weird things is the default...

Halter training for the new foal-part 3

Part 3-Introduction to the halter You might have noticed that until now no halter has been involved. Why is that? The main reason is you are only human: the moment you have a handle on something you will want to use it. Why is that a bad thing? Our tendency when handling any horses is to grab the halter and tell the horse where to go. It might sound redundant or pedantic but babies are not born halter broke. They are not even born with an understanding of giving to pressure. Fun fact: it’s actually the opposite: you cannot push (or pull) a foal’s first reaction,  because its...