Off topic post……Angora Rabbits!

Two English Angora Rabbits came to make their home at Apple Treat Stables! And yes, one is a buck and the other is a doe.

It took us a couple of weeks to decide on names. Naming animals is not an easy task. The bucks name is Koala and the does name is Coconut because that is what they each resemble. Coconut is actually “ Fawn” color and Koala is a “ Black Tortoiseshell”.

I have been looking casually, off and on, for about a year for an Angora Rabbit. There are four recognized breeds of Angoras; English, French, Satin, and German Angoras. English Angoras mature between 5 1/2 to 71/2 pounds. They are the smallest of the Angoras and have long fur on their ears and feet which makes them look like little balls of fur! They do need to be groomed every week so they don’t get matted.

I decided to get the Angoras for their wool and a few of us here at the barn are learning to spin our own yarn. Amy, who keeps her horse here, just brought sheep home and my son has a few sheep so we will blend the sheep’s wool with the angora in our yarn. A fun hobby to keep us busy, especially during the winter months

Teaching horses to lead politely

We have owned and operated Apple Treat Stables for over six years now and I am surprised that so many horses have not been taught to lead politely. We lead the horses to and from the pasture every day and take that opportunity to work with them. We expect our horses to walk next to us on a loose lead keeping their head straight ahead, not looking around from side to side. Since horses have eyes on the side of their heads they do not have to move their heads around to see. Horses should be taught to walk at the speed of their handler, not dragging behind or running ahead. Whether we are riding or leading our horse, we become a herd of two and as the leader of the herd we are in charge of the direction and speed of our horse. Since horses are claustrophobic you should not hold the lead line up by the halter but hold it about 8 to 10 inches away. I teach everyone to use both hands when leading a horse so if your horse spooks you can release your right hand but still have a hold of the lead and your horse with your left hand. There should be a couple of feet of rope between your hands.

Our workers learn to lead the quieter horses first before we allow them to handle the younger “hotter” horses. We teach our handlers the correct safe way to release a horse into the pasture and to be aware of the herd hierarchy when removing a horse from the pasture.

Good consistent handing helps the horses feel safe and in control, when horses feel safe and secure in their environment they are less reactive and safer around people in the barn. People often comment about how quiet our horses are when they are all in their stalls and good consistent handling is one of the reasons.

Fly season is here!

Several years ago I went to a session on flies put on by the University of Mn for horse owners to learn about these pesky insects and how they affect our horses. There are about 17,000 species of flies in North America, north of Mexico, so it is no wonder that flies bother both humans and horses! As we all know, flies are more of an issue in rural areas around animals. House flies are dirty and annoying but don’t bite. Stable flies are the biting flies! Blow flies are sometimes called blue or green bottle flies because of their color. Face flies are the flies that sit on and around our horses eyes. Bot flies are probably the most harmful and cause us to have to deworm our horses in the fall with ivermectin.

As you can tell, I and Tez (Mr. Sensitive) do not like flies but there are things that we can do to keep our horses comfortable. First of all we clean our stalls everyday. We do not have a manure pile on our property for flies to lay their eggs in. We actually haul the manure off site every day! We are located on a hill and the breeze helps keep flies off our horses and there is very little stagnant water around our property which helps keep gnats and mosquitoes down. We mow the pastures when the weeds and grass grow up and that helps too. Our chickens definitely help by eating the larvae and they also eat ticks!

Yes, we do have flies but we recognize the problem and have procedures in place to help keep both horses and humans comfortable and able to enjoy the beautiful warm summer days!

Are you a horseman or a rider?

In one of my recent posts I said our goal here at Apple Treat Stables is to develop excellent horse people. So what is the difference between a horseman and a rider? A horseman is skilled in caring for and managing horses as well as riding.

We teach our riders to be “students of the horse” by example. Alisha and I have spent years with our horses observing and living with them, feeding and grazing them, camping with them, raising foals, and riding 1000’s of miles on trails as well as in arenas to develop our horseman skills. Horses communicate with each other and us using body language. We translate what the horse is showing us for our riders.

Our riders learn about running a barn and the horses individually by helping out around the barn. They learn how to lead a rambunctious horse to and from the pasture on a windy day. They may hold a horse for the farrier or the vet. They learn to watch the weather conditions; mainly wind and rain to keep the horses healthy. They learn that hay is fed by weight and some horse are “easy keepers” and others are “hard keepers”. At Apple Treat Stables we have a good variety of breeds, ages, and personalities of horses to learn from.

Introducing Cadenza; lesson horse extraodinaire!

Cadenza is our very well trained beginner lesson horse. He is fun to ride! He is retired from eventing but is still working teaching people to ride. He knows he has a very important job and he takes it very seriously keeping inexperienced riders in the saddle.

He stands patiently to be groomed offering each foot to be cleaned before you ask him for it. He loves to be “fussed over” by his riders, knows that he looks good with his mane braided, and is man enough to wear pink!

He teaches riders to take charge, he knows riders are in charge of direction and speed but he will wander around the arena until the rider learns that important lesson! I can almost hear him chuckling to himself as he joins a buddy with a young rider on his back! He also knows exactly how long an hour lesson lasts and takes his inexperienced rider to the mounting block when the hour is up!

Cadenza is a grey Quarter horse/Percheron cross about 16 hands tall. He weighs about 1200 pounds and is your classic “gentle giant”. Even though he looks more like his Percheron side he has the classic easy to ride quarter horse jog. Everyone at Apple Treat Stables loves and respects Cadenza!