Near our home there is a horse farm, and as we drive by, we can often see the beautiful and magnificent horses in the pasture. My horse knowledge consists of about that much…..horses are beautiful and big! But, I’m fortunate to have a friend who has ridden horses since she was six years old and was willing and even a bit excited to share what she knows about horses. She didn’t even laugh at my questions!
I wanted to know everything…….what they ate, where they spent their time, how much water they drank each day, whether they display affection to their owners, if they are considered pets, how they play, how to take care of them, and what happens at a barrel race…..because Lisa and her horses go to about 18 barrel races a season from April to October!
Lisa owns two registered quarter horses. Willis, whose registered name is Smooth and Copper, is a bay. That’s dark brown, for those like me, who didn’t know that! Mysticalwannabecash is the registered name for the sorrel (and that’s a red color) who is called Cash for short. She rides the horses three to four times a week.
Willis and Cash spend their time in a two-acre pasture. There is a lean-to in that field where they can go to get out of the rain or snow or sun. They are also free to go into the barn where there are three stalls. However, Lisa says that when it is storming, they prefer to be in the lean-to so they can see what is happening around them. If they are in the barn, they cannot see the weather happening, and the noise of the rain on the tin roof and the thunder is scary for them.
Lisa and her husband feed the horses twice a day. They eat a pellet food consisting of oats and corn. In the winter the horses also eat hay, a mixture of timothy and alfalfa grasses. The hay is grown in another two-acre field, and is cut and baled twice, with a yield of 400 bales. Willis and Cash eat 200 bales during the cold months, and the other 200 are sold.
Horses get their water from a trough, and usually drink 10-15 gallons of water daily. The trough is cleaned out at least once a week and filled with fresh water. A heater is placed in the trough in the winter for two reasons: to keep the water from freezing, and because horses don’t like to drink cold water. The heater keeps the water at about room temperature, and the horses will continue to drink the amount of water they need. They wouldn’t if the water was cold.
Each spring Willis and Cash receive a six-way shot to protect them against various diseases. They also get a separate shot against West Nile Virus and another for rabies. Four times a year, Lisa squirts a gel-like medication into their mouths to kill/prevent any worms in the horses. A ferrier trims their hooves every six weeks and puts new shoes on their feet. This protects them from getting rocks in the soft tissue on the bottom of their feet.
Willis and Cash enter about 18 barrel races from April to October each year. These races may be at a fairgrounds or in private arenas. Three barrels are placed in a cloverleaf arrangement. The horse and rider start to the right and circle that barrel, go straight across to the barrel at the left, circle it, and then go up to the top barrel, circle it, and straight back to where they started. The distance between the barrels is dependent on the size of the arena. Each rider is timed, and if a barrel is touched, the rider gets no time for that ride. At a regular weekend barrel race, as many as 30-250 horses and riders may compete in the three classes: Open Class (any age rider); Youth Class (19 and under); and Master’s Class (40 and older). At the state barrel race, there could be 500 contestants in each class. Riders compete for the fastest times, and cash prizes are usually awarded for the five fastest times in each class. The NBHA world championships are conducted in Georgia, home of the National Barrel Horse Association. To compete in this race, a rider must be an NBHA member and have participated in at least three barrel races. Riders can also qualify for the world tournament if they are in the top five in their division.
Being the dog lover that I am, I was especially interested in knowing how horses relate to their people. Lisa said that Willis and Cash will come to the fence when their names are called and whinny. They like to be petted, and if Lisa puts her arms around the horse’s neck, the horse will lean his neck into her as if hugging her back. She does consider them pets. They enjoy treats made from apples, carrots, and oats…….which could be described as a horse granola bar!
I asked her if the horses played. She laughed and said they play every day, nipping at each other, and then chasing each other through the pasture and up and down the hill. They also like playing with a jolly ball, a huge rubber ball with a handle. When she throws it into the pasture, they pick it up with their teeth and toss it from their mouths. They also kick it around with their feet. Lisa has a Welsh Corgi, and I was curious to know how the dog interacts with the horses. She said the dog will bark at them and go at them as if to chase him. Their reaction is just to sniff at him and pay him no mind!
Horses play and have fun. They relate to their people. They require proper care, a safe place to live, and nutritious food and clean water. They are big, beautiful, magnificent creatures. Thanks, Lisa, for sharing what happens in the lives of Willis and Cash.
Pam at bagsandmorebypam is an avid crocheter and dedicated animal loving crafter and monthly columnist for the Crafting for Animals Guild.