Barn Budget Controls

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I hate soaking hay. There, I said it. it's messy, and I have never thought wet hay was as well-consumed as dry hay. But sometimes you simply gotta do it. Yes, I know that. (But I still hate it.)

Thankfully, we don't have any horses with breathing problems, but I still routinely shake out all my horses? hay before they come in the barn. I don't think any horse should grab a full flake of hay and be forced to shake it themselves in order to get a bite to eat. that's a lot of dust flying around.

I feed hay in a corner of the stall, with bedding swept away from the corner (we have stall mats). I don't like stall hay racks because the horse pulls dust onto himself when He's trying to pull the hay down, and eating it with his head down is more natural and better for his lungs. I only use a hay bag when tHere's no choice, such as in a trailer.

Over the years, I've found that the simple act of fluffing up the hay pile for each horse makes a visible difference in the amount of dust in our horses? stalls. I think it looks more enticing, too, but that's probably not something a horse cares about.

Of course, as you see on page 1, there are hay steamers available. Expensive hay steamers. If you have a horse with RAO and dusty hay, you?ve got little choice but to wet the hay. With hay steamers, as Dr. Eleanor Kellon advises us, you'll need to weigh cost vs. convenience, although I'm sure those in the colder states will be more intrigued.

Dusty feed is a problem, too. When we were dealing with one of these RAO horses years ago, I began to add a little water to the dry whole oats I prefer in order to avoid a more-expensive commercial feed he didn't really need. The oats were dusty, even though they were triple-cleaned racehorse oats. To this day, I still wet down oats before feeding them. I've found that it also helps the granular supplement stick to the grains and not end up at the bottom of the feed tub. that's one of the reasons I prefer pelleted or liquid supplements when I can use them ? I know the horses eat them.

Dust is actually one of the reasons I think a liquid stall deodorizer (see page 8 ) is a good idea for those using pellet bedding, at least for the cleaner horses. For the messier ones, a dry deodorizer that also absorbs may cut down on bedding and solve the bigger problem. You?ve got to think about what's right for your horse and your budget.

When it comes to saving money, we're all ears. No one wants to waste dollars, so when we see something like the $49.95 Andis clippers (see page 5) that might fit someone on a tight budget with only a bridle path to clip once every six weeks or so, we tell you about it.

As we move forward, you'll see more field trials involving new products, apparel, tack and big-ticket items. you'll learn what veterinary and farrier therapies and procedures are worth the cost and what's a waste of time and money.

We're also excited to announce that our website (www.horse-journal.com) will now offer current subscribers full access to all back articles. That means subscribers can search for past stories at no additional charge. At Horse Journal, everything we do is geared to help you get the most for your equine dollar and save you time.

Cynthia Foley, Editor-in-Chief