Owning a horse can be fun and challenging. Having proper knowledge and skill can help horse owners to keep their animals safe.
Tractor Supply Company in Greeley, Colo., held a workshop on July 14 that focused on basic information on keeping a horse, as well as planning for emergencies, and what steps animal owners need to take to prepare. The event, called Ride Now Tour, also focused on skills and knowledge that horse owners needs to have.
“Tractor Supply is pleased to bring the Ride Now Tour to our new Greeley, Colo., store,” said Andy Willett, Regional Vice President of Tractor Supply Company. “This tour allows us to provide a fun, interactive and informative experience for all who share our love of horses.”
Bob Welch and Chelsea Toy from the Equine Network talked about the latest in trail riding essentials, helmet safety, the hunt for the right instructor, horse nutrition, colic prevention, deworming, lameness, buying a tractor, fly control and grooming.
“I think it’s important because no matter what level you are, but especially if you are beginning, to learn as much as you can. At an event like this you can be exposed to time tested knowledge, and meet people in your area whom you can benefit from. You can get connected,” said Welch.
This year, it is more important than ever for horse owners to know how to handle their horses in a drought situation. “I don’t know if there’s one issue to Colorado horse owners, but this year the drought is something people could stand to get educated on. With that comes other natural disasters, such as fire, and we’ve seen that.”
When an emergency hits, animal owners may have only minutes to get their animals and personal possessions loaded and evacuated. Prepping for an emergency will be vitally important to helping animals survive these disasters.
“The biggest thing I can recommend is to make sure your horses are halter broke and will load in a trailer,” said Rebecca Farris, from the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.
Handling horses and making sure they can load in a trailer is important because a horse owner may not have time to evacuate his or her horse, and the Sheriff’s Department may end up doing it. If a horse cannot be caught and loaded, it will likely be left behind.
Feeding a horse during a drought can also be a challenge. Hay is expensive, and horse owners may be tempted to overgraze their pastures.
“If your horse is on pasture, you need to manage your resources. If they are nubbing it down, you need to get them in and find hay. How do you get hay you can afford? There’s no answer to that. You have to always be on the lookout and try to get it early before it gets out of hand,” said Welch.
Hay prices are on the rise, and many horse owners do not understand why it is so high. “It’s all connected in the agricultural industry. Corn production is lower this year, so the feedlots that feed a lot of corn are looking for cheaper alternatives and they might be able to pay more for hay than the normal horse owner. They play a part in driving the price of hay. Corn based grain will also be higher. The drought up here is a big part of that,” he said.
Welch also talked about the best time of day to ride, to keep horses healthy and from getting too stressed from the heat. “Riding early in the morning is best because the tendency for afternoon thunderstorms and the heat, but you have to know your area. If you can ride early in the morning, it’s also the most pleasant part of the day,” he said.
He continued, “It’s dangerous if they are out of shape. Novice horse owners might not know a horse is indistress. You have to watch for lethargy, monitor their heart rate and look for excessive sweating. If they are under stress in the heat, you get more colic. It doesn’t take a whole lot to trigger colic this time of year.”
Properly managing horses during a drought will help them to stay healthy, and be prepared for a disaster. It is also recommended that horse owners keep at least a two days supply of feed on hand, as well as any medical supplies and buckets for water ready to go. Animal identification papers and vaccination records are also important to have.
Overall, the event went well and offered valuable insight for horse owners.
“We are tickled that Tractor Supply Company hosted the tour. We thought it went great. It’s good to get our feet wet and figure out the program. It was a great experience,” said Welch. “We are planning on taking this tour across the U.S.” ❖
“I don’t know if there’s one issue to Colorado horse owners, but this year the drought is something people could stand to get educated on.”
~ Bob Welsh