Management & Maintenance

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Horses are among the most free-ranging of domestic animals. They evolved as nomadic and migratory animals and have adapted to many variables in terrain and weather. They are built and instinctively driven to move, and their first reaction to anything remotely considered a threat is to flee. Domestication has changed some of these genetic qualities to fit human goals, but not by much.

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The Inside Story - For as long as horses have been grazing the hillsides and meadows, the pest of parasite infestation has plagued them. Perennial as the grass, intestinal parasites find every possible opportunity to enter their horse host, and live out their life cycle.

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“The stable environment invariably presents challenges of dust, mould and proper ventilation,” says Susan Raymond, instructor of Equine Guelph’s Management of the Equine Environment online course. “Most horses are well equipped for living outdoors and thrive, provided certain provisions are met.” Dr. Raymond completed her PhD in investigating the effects of exposure of horses to mycotoxins. She has also been involved in air quality research, which provided practical recommendations to the horse industry on stable design and management.

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Preventing Your Worst Nightmare - Owning and operating any kind of farm is a tough job. The last thing you need is a fire. Whether it’s a fully engulfed barn, an indoor arena inferno, or a tractor that got way too hot and decided to take the drive shed with it, a fire is usually considered the worst possible thing that can happen. Ask any equine property owner/operator who has had a fire and they’ll tell you that there is a lot more at stake than the barn.

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Many horse people yearn to leave the city behind, believing that the country provides opportunities for a more natural lifestyle, a slower pace, and a chance to fulfill lifelong dreams such as keeping their horses at home, growing a big garden, and enjoying a healthier way of life.

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There are a vast number of plants located throughout Canada that are toxic to horses in some respect. Many need to be eaten in large doses to cause much of an effect, while others require only a few mouthfuls. There are a variety of resources on plants toxic to livestock, but the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System seems to be the most comprehensive. It lists over 250 poisonous plants found in Canada, their lethal dose (if known), and symptoms of poisoning.

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Often times, horse owners feel their beloved equines are simply a magnet for injuries. Being accident prone just seems to be in their nature, most times brought on by their instinctive fight-or-flight response, their need to establish herd hierarchy, and in some cases, their sense of natural curiosity.

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