August 2017



I don’t know about you, but, I’ve been stunned at the amount of damage that was done this week by Harvey. I feel so sad when I see pictures of the horses, cattle, and other animals who cannot make it to high land and the ones who do but may not be able to recover from the damage they sustained in the flood waters. I feel the pain of the people who don’t know if they will ever see their furry companion again. Most did not expect this type of devastation from Harvey.

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September is National Preparedness Month and in the aftermath of Harvey, I thought it would be good to dedicate today’s blog to being prepared for whatever might happen.

Be aware

Be aware of what is happening and what could happen.

Having a NOAA Weather Radio is one step. We keep one both in our house and in our barn. Storms can hit suddenly and when I’m giving lessons I need to know if a storm or tornado is approaching.

Also be aware of dangerous situations. Fire is the most feared disaster for most horse owners. We just attended a fire safety meeting held by a local horse organization. Are you aware that the box fans that so many of us use in our barns can cause a fire? The back of the fans, where the motor is located, is not enclosed. Hay and dust can get in and if the motor over heats – that’s a fire.

Know what to do

If you have to evacuate, could you move all your animals? A two or three horse trailer will save some of the horses but not all if you have more horses to move than room in your trailer.

Do you know where you would go? Often there are some facilities available but will they be accessible? I know the Fairgrounds are only two miles from my farm but they have a limited number of stalls. What is your plan B and C?

What if disaster hits and you are not home? Do you have a trusted friend or family member that could help in this situation?

A lot will depend on the severity of the disaster. But having a plan for most conceivable disasters could save you and your animals. Moreover, if you have a plan and an alternate plan, you will not hit panic mode.

Identification and paper work

Do your animals have some identifiable markings? Our dog is micro-shipped, our cattle are branded and tagged, our horses – well, let’s look at this one.

If your animals are registered, do you have those papers in a safe and secure location? Our horse registration papers do show each horse’s unique identifying markings. And, like finger prints, no two are alike.

Here’s a tip that I thought was very worthwhile. Take a picture – selfies, anyone – of you and your pet. Keep them on file or on a cloud. You may be able to use them to claim your animal if you get separated.

No one expects a disaster to happen. But being prepared and taking some steps now could save heartaches in the future.

For more tips and information on steps you may want to take to be prepared, download this handy preparedness checklist from FEMA. Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies

Linda Watson-Call is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.
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Without milkweed, the monarch butterfly would become extinct as this is the only plant that the monarch caterpillars eat. But, what about other animals, birds or insects? Is this a plant we want in our pastures or hay fields?

More -> Milkweed and Your Hay


By Karen Waite If you live in the Midwest, you may have noticed that it’s county fair season…that age old bastion of tradition, education (intentional and otherwise), drama, intrigue, teen romance, and corn dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I love county fairs and 4-H (which often go hand in hand). Both made me who I […]

via What to Do When The Fair Isn’t Fair — outoftheboxstall


It’s that time of the year again, when the days are getting shorter and the horses’ coats are changing colors as they shed once again.

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Parents ask about the changes in the colors and the shedding. They are confused because they know about the BIG shed out in the spring, but are surprised when the horses start shedding at the end of summer. Not sure about other mammals but, horses have two distinct coats – one for winter and one for summer. And they typically shed about the same time every year.

Shedding triggers

More than we realize the change in season is governed by two elements in nature – sunlight and temperature. As the days get longer, the temperatures rise. Some of us would like it to get warmer sooner, but, the fact is, more sunlight = warmer air.

It’s the amount of sunlight that tells the horses when to start shedding. I’ve been out in the barn many a February or March, shivering as my horse’s winter coat blankets my feet while grooming her. Likewise, come August, the summer coat is shedding out for the new growth for the winter.

Indicator of the future?

I hear this all the time. If they are shedding out this early, does that mean that we will get an early winter? If the horses are getting a heavy winter coat, that that mean that we are in for a bitter winter? No! Well, I really wish the horses or other animals could predict the future with more accuracy than the weather station, but, the truth is, they can’t. But, what they can do is “remember” the past weather. People who purchase horses from a warmer climate often say that the first winter is brutal. The horse doesn’t get a good winter coat. But wait until the second and third winter – they certainly grow a coat after that first cold experience!

Change in colors

The horse’s coat often lightens in the summer depending on how often the horse is outside and in the sunlight. The sun lightens most colors, even the horse’s coat. Once the days shorten and the amount of sunlight lessens, the coat goes back to a darker color.

Dapples are not dependent on the amount of sunlight. The circular areas on the horse’s body that change in shade are caused by nutrition as well as genetics. Horses on high quality hay tend to have more dapples. All horses do not dapple. Gray horses tend to be dappled as well as bays and chestnuts.

It seems the horses, like many animals are in tune with Mather Nature and the change of seasons. But even so, they cannot predict weather any more than we can.

Linda Watson-Call is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.