Letters: 05/05

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Kenaf Trial
I gave kenaf bedding a try last year, spanning fall to spring (see December 2004 issue for article on kenaf). When weather is nice we leave the horses out. I tried kenaf in two of the stalls in my barn for a test. The two horses were boarders horses and one was a heavy horse. Both were messy in their stalls.

The bedding did break down quite nice in the compost pile and was easy to clean. The drawback was an increase in the ammonia smell in the barn, if we used it as we were instructed: Take out the manure and then mix the wet with the dry to let it evaporate. The smell was bad enough to bother us. However, if we took out the wet area, like regular shavings, it was OK. Still, because the cost of the bedding made that option way to prohibitive, we went back to regular shavings.

The leftover kenaf bedding is being used in my horse trailer. It works really great for that, cuts down on dust and usually just have poop to deal with in the trailer.

Becky Kalagher
Walking High Farm, Massachusetts

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Cracked-Heel Relief
My horse got a cracked heel??about three months ago, and I tried everything. Then, I went through my back issues and found your October 2004 article. God bless this issue. I followed your article to the T, and my horse is finally healing and happy again.

Amber George
Internet

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Economy Bridles
I work with leather, doing tack repair and making custom bridles, halters, and other strap work. I read the economy-priced bridle article in the March 2005 issue with interest. You make many good points about what to look for in a quality bridle. But, while I can understand why people will buy inexpensive bridles, I am concerned that the article didn’t discuss the downside of saving money on bridles.

Manufacturers of cheap bridles must cut their costs in some way in order to make bridles at the prices in the article. The techniques for constructing the bridles and materials used in the bridle are the major ways this is done. Techniques might involve using staples instead of stitches to make keeper loops and to hold other overlapping leather pieces. Less attention to time-consuming quality details in the sewing can mean that critical pieces break loose more easily, such as stud hooks holding the reins to the bit. The quality of the thread and lack of proper waxing can negatively affect the life of the bridle and its safety.

Leather is a critical element. English tack requires leather that’s tanned for specific purposes. Bridle leather is tanned differently from stirrup leather and saddle leather. Leather from countries outside of the USA may not be tanned correctly or to the standards that are expected for?? higher-priced bridles. Improperly tanned leather might??fall apart when placed under the stresses that bridles in use experience. This is a??safety issue for all riders.

Hardware is another material where money is saved in making economy bridles. Some bridles don’t have stainless steel hardware and bridles with stainless steel hardware will have the thinnest and cheapest hardware that can be found. The functional and safe life of this hardware is going to be shorter than that of more expensive bridles. A bridle buckle that breaks when horse and rider are traveling fast can be disastrous.

People purchasing economy bridles need to think about how the costs were kept down on the bargain bridle and the potential costs to themselves or to their loved ones.

Kathleen M. Hunter
Onsite Tack Services, Inc., Florida

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Ulcer Article Helpful
I just want to let you know that I think your publication is excellent.?? The topics you cover are always of interest, sometimes of particular interest, such as the one on gastric ulcers (April 2005).??

I think the comparative studies are the most helpful information.?? You’ve done all the leg work that I would never take the time (nor even know how) to do. Thank you so much.

Cindy Sydnor
Braeburn Farms, North Carolina