Feeding the Horses at the Farm

Feeding the horses at the farm is a little bit different from feeding the horses up at the ranch in the winter. For starters, we have about 150 horses in the field, rather than 30, so that means a lot more hay piled on the truck! I normally feed the horses on  my own when I am at the farm, but given my slow recovery from knee surgery, I can not yet throw a whole bunch of hay bales onto the truck.  I can toss a few, but then I start to get sore. As a result, Richard is loading most of the hay bales for me each morning– kind man!

We feed the herd of horses a mix of alfalfa hay, grass hay and oat hay everyday around 9:30 am. We have to contend with the deer, who are constantly eating the stacks of alfalfa. To prevent further decimation, Richard put up a fence around the edge of the stacks of delicious, high quality alfalfa to  keep the deer out. They do not bother to eat the lesser alfalfa, the grass hay or the oats. Very spoiled deer:

You can see how much narrower the stack is at the front. This is not because we used those bales of hay– it is because the deer ate them! Nothing was left of them but the hay strings! Richard’s new system of panels is working beautifully to keep them out. He does occasionally have to replace the poles that are holding the sides of the stack up when they fall:

Here is Richard, kindly loading the 30 bales of hay:

This is how Whistle spends her time while we load hay. Running:

From one stack of irrigation pipe:

To another:

Notice her head in the pipe– that’s her favorite position!

After Whistle has explored the pipe and Richard has loaded the hay, we make the short drive to the horses’ pasture. Here I am cutting hay string:

Getting ready to toss hay:

And tossing hay (Richard took a quick series of pictures, didn’t he?!):

When I toss, I try to spread out the hay as much as possible, so that the horses are not eating in close quarters, as that is a recipe for disaster. Today throwing hay was a pleasure because it was still. On windy days, I finish the job looking like a Hay Monster, covered from head to toe with hay and dust. After I feed them, I drive back through all of the horses to take a closer look at each one. I check for changes in weight, injuries, lameness and strange behavior. I also stop to give my favorites a pat.  Sometimes I stop for a little fun:

Here I am on Aztec, who is such a funny horse. He absolutely loves it when I mount him bareback with nothing on his head. He grazes, or eats hay contentedly, and he will boss other horses around much more than he normally does. It is as if, with a person on his back, he feels like he is more of a tough guy. I know he loves it because if he sees me far away, he’ll walk right over to me and stand patiently while I jump on his back from the ground (not a graceful sight, I can assure you!). Today, with the bum knee, I had help from Richard with a leg-up. Also not a graceful sight!