September 15, 2014
Our weather in east Tennessee has been quite unusual this year in that we’ve had a lot more storms than we normally do. We’re surrounded by woods and lush pastures. It’s wonderful living in a place with so much green vegetation and trees. When you have livestock however, these frequent storms can be a thorn in your side.
It’s not uncommon to lose a few trees if the wind gets strong enough. While that may not seem like a big deal, it is a big deal in certain situations.
For instance, we have red maple trees in the woods in our horse pasture. The wilted leaves from a red maple are extremely poisonous. Just a few leaves can kill a horse. If one of these trees comes down during a storm, you’ve got to get it up immediately or risk killing your horse.
Another problem is that practically all of our fence line is in a tree line or woods. Around here trees were often used to build fence or provide a wind break. If a tree falls, it’s always going to be on the fence. That means there’s an open space in the fence line for the horses to get out or our joining neighbor’s cattle to get in. Either scenario is not good!
A couple weeks aagp we had a really strong storm and lost two trees in our yard. Fortunately only one was within reach of one of our turnout paddocks that I could keep closed until we get could it removed. It was a crab apple tree which can easily cause arsenic poisoning in horses if ingested.
Having lost two trees in the yard, I knew I needed to check the rest of the farm. This meant that I had to saddle up one of the horses and check the fence line in person. Keep in mind our back fence line is heavily wooded so I have to check it from the neighbor’s side where he keeps sale cattle. My horses are still getting used to cattle in wide open spaces and sale cattle are extremely wild but that’s another story.
First half of checking fence was great. I even got my horse over the creek with relative ease. The second half checking fence this time was NOT the same relaxing ride as last time. I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for why good ranch horses cost and learned a few things…..
Cows walking are normal animals. Horses don’t mind cattle that are walking.
Cows laying down are fire breathing monsters that can eat a horse in one breath. Apparently they can eat you even faster if you’re being pursued by a determined horse fly.
A get down rope is not necessarily for getting down. Sometimes it’s a link from the brain to the feet.
Riding the brain out in a pen or a pasture is easy. Riding it on the side of a hill with holes everywhere is a completely different story….which leads to the next point.
Always wear comfortable boots. You never know when you’ll have to walk if you didn’t invest in that expensive ranch horse and you went the do it yourself route.
If you’re walking in those comfortable boots use the creek to catch your breath by working your horse over it at least 20 times.
The good news is that we didn’t have any trees down on the fence. The other good news is that we both lived to try again next time!