Rising Fuel Costs

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I read your May 2008 editorial this morning after breakfast. I wanted to comment and give you feedback. I also often read Horse Journal over breakfast, or when I am trying to wind down and relax after being in the saddle patrolling at the local parks for three or four hours. I find myself often referring to information from Horse Journal at my job as the equine specialist at the feed store where I work. I also refer customers to Horse Journal and recommend it as a must-have publication.

I really appreciated your comments in this editorial about the rising costs of horse ownership due especially to rising fuel costs. At work I am hearing so much whining and complaining about the rising costs of feeds and supplies. I used to say, ”yeah, I know,” but now I refer to the fuel costs — everybody feels that and understands it. We have recently seen a huge rise in the fuel surcharges companies are billing for deliveries. For instance, Manna Pro just doubled their fuel surcharges on our shipments. While we hate to increase the prices to our customers, these charges have to be reflected.

Your mention of this will probably help me at my work when horse owners realize that it is not our family-owned company looking at profits, but the reality of the rising cost of everything that we eventually have to raise prices. 

Sarah Reid,
California

Cribbing And Ulcers

Thank you for your commonsense response to the question about cribbing (March 2008). There’s a great deal of misinformation and ignorance about this behavior. I purchased a horse who cribbed and spent a great deal of time watching her. I noted that:

1) She cribbed more intensely an hour before feed time.

2) She cribbed while she ate grain.

3) She cribbed for a short time following her meal, but usually stopped within an hour of finishing her meal.

These signs indicated that this horse most likely had an ulcer. So, I treated her with:

1) Ranitadine three times a day

2) Removed grain from her diet and fed a complete feed low in carbs

3) Changed her to outdoor boarding

4) Gave her a probiotic after being wormed to restore balance in her gut.

She stopped cribbing.

When we moved her to a facility closer to home, she did fine until the pastures were grazed down, at which point she showed signs of distress and started cribbing. I requested a change in her diet (less grain and more hay) and was denied the change, being told that the horse needed to be worked harder because she was bored.

Several other horses began to lose weight and, instead of adding hay, the barn manager upped their grain. A couple of other horses started to crib, which was blamed on my horse. Nothing would convince this barn manager that the cribbing was a result of ulcers and that the horses needed more hay, not more grain. A vet echoed the sentiments of the barn manager and said I was just lucky.

I understand that it’s difficult, time-consuming and often inconvenient to make environmental and dietary changes, especially at boarding facilities. However, if we choose not to make changes to help relieve stress and pain for our horses we need to accept the responsibility for that choice and stop blaming the horse for an undesirable response.

Thank you for trying to dispel misinformation about cribbing.

Mary Hartman,
Minnesota

Pond Water Quality

The pond water article in April caught my eye. My interest is in aquaculture, and I am obsessed with water quality. Your article gave attention to the main concerns but didn’t offer a complete picture of solutions.

As you pointed out, excess nutrients are the problem with pond algae. Your suggestion of using aquatic plants got at the nutrient control but not adequately. The first place to control nutrients is before they get into the water. A good buffer zone of wetland plants around the edges of the pond will catch almost all problem nutrients before they get into the water. Many people want the pond to resemble a swimming pool with tidy entrances, but the weedy edges make the most healthy pond water.

As for plants in the water, true free-floating plants like duckweed grow fast and take 100% of their nutrition from the water. They’re better for water quality than rooted plants, which will take up nutrients mostly from bottom sediment. To lower nutrients, plants should be periodically removed and composted or discarded, and that is easier to do with floating plants. Keeping leaves out of the water is best, as they add lots of nutrients.

As for algae control, I was surprised you didn’t mention the safest treatment — adding barley straw to the water. Barley decays in such a way that it creates compounds that inhibit algae growth but doesn’t harm plants or aquatic organisms.

Barley straw in any form works, but it is now available as compressed pellets and wafers, and even in a liquid extract form, which is faster acting. You should be able to find the barley in these forms at any good pond-supply store.

Brian Carter,
New Hampshire

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