Many thanks for your November article on pelleted bedding. One week after switching from shavings I’ve reduced what I take out of each stall every day by half. Best of all, there’s no urine odor and the horses seem completely content with this new practice. Reading your suggestions about how to handle the pellets was key. You’ve saved me both time and money, not an easy thing to do these days. I think my subscription just paid for itself.
Prefers To Remove Urine-Soaked Pellets
Something I saw in the November issue warranted a comment: pelleted bedding. I’ve always used pelleted bedding, but I disagree with the directions for use on the bag and in your article.
I think the advice to only pick up the manure, then spread the urine and fluff the bedding is insufficient. I have no problem with picking up the manure — and that is so much easier than with straw or shavings — but I don’t believe spreading the urine until the pellets have absorbed all they can and the bedding is ”completely saturated” is good for the horses. The pellets are so absorbent that the ammonia produced by the urine remaining in the ”fluffed” pellets can be damaging for the horses to breathe.
When I first got my mare, I had to board her at a breeding stable at which the owners allowed the pellets to stay in the stalls until saturated, as suggested on the bag. I called a local vet to come over for a ”meet-and-greet” the day after I moved her in, so that she could see my mare and meet me. The first comment she made to me after entering the stable was, ”There’s way too much ammonia in the air here. That’s not good for Juno’s respiratory system.”
I moved Juno to a new barn. That barn also used the pelleted bedding, but they removed the manure, then as much of the urine ”pockets” as possible. Since the urine-saturated bedding cakes, it’s easy to scoop up the urine ”pancakes” and remove them with the manure. I spread-and-fluff the small amounts of urine that I’m unable to scoop up, like what’s been kicked around.
I don’t believe I’m wasting the pellets by doing this. I’m just using them in a more healthy way. The pellets are so cost-effective you could waste a lot of them and still be ahead of the bedding game.
Magazine Topics always Meet Her Needs
I’ve been a loyal reader since the first issue. Every month it seems that you have an article directly meant for me, from covering hunter bumps, then bone scans, back pain, to rehab, saddle fitting and, most recently, bitting (July), equine dentistry (December) and lysine (November), which I give my horse.
I recently took my horse to the Equine Dental School in Glenns Ferry, Idaho, where I had a certified equine dentist examine his teeth and mouth to help me figure out why he was so fussy in his head whenever I picked up any contact. Fortunately, this dentist specialized in bitting problems and had plenty of experience in dressage horses. I had taken the three different bits that I had tried and explained what he did in each bit.
It turned out to be the bit was too big for his mouth, which was why he was trying to suck his tongue behind the bit when I rode. While he was sedated, we took turns attaching each bit to his headstall and placing in his mouth and then we looked inside with his light to see how it moved and where it sat while I held the reins. He explained that my 16-hand horse had a small mouth and the KK bit I had was too thick, not to mention a size too big and would pinch him on the side of his mouth at the double joint. My full cheek would push his fleshy mouth and pinch it between the teeth and the cheek piece.
The thin plain snaffle fit the best but still placed a little too much pressure on the tongue, so I recently purchased a thin 14 mm five-inch Stubben bit to try him in. I have always given my horse the benefit of the doubt when I think something is wrong.
Your excellent articles are always right on. I am grateful for this information, as had I not taken him to the dental school for a check-up, I would have continued to stumble around on my own figuring out what was causing him to fuss.
The November article on lysine had a confusing list of equations on the first page, and an error in stating the protein requirements for a 500 kg horse on the second page. The equations should have stated the units as grams, otherwise the equations yield the error on the next page which states that the 500-kg horse would require 496.8 to 662.4 kg of protein!
As a chemist and mathematician, I suspected the units were grams, not kilograms, but others would possibly be confused. The equations for lysine requirements specify grams.
Veterinary Editor’s Note: You’re right about the typographical error. The kg should be g (grams). However, the equations are straight out of the new National Research Council book.