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Equine News, March 2022

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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Each month we provide tips for horse owners, the latest research on horse health, as well as updates on current events and workshops for horse owners.  This month's newsletter features:

  • Horse Owners Workshop
  • The excited stallion
  • Reduced lignin alfalfa
  • Ground handling Part 8:Wrap up
  • Tack Box Talk podcasts: Supplements
  • Free fecal egg count reduction tests
  • Supplements infographic
  • Round bale feeder efficiency
  • Keeping it a business!



Workshop logo


Horse Owners Workshop:

March 5, 2022
Totusek and Cline Arenas,
Stillwater, OK


Horse Owners Workshop is back, live and in person and bigger then ever!

Registration must be received by March 2!

Register here

Speakers this year will provide essential equine management information valuable for experienced horse owners, or those just getting started. 

Topics this year include:

  • Farm equipment needs for small acreage
  • Performing your own fecal egg count reduction test - Yes, bring your samples!
  • Starting a 4-H horse project group - it's not that hard!
  • Biosecurity for the horse owner - hands on!
  • Wound care
  • Donkey nutrition and management
  • Adding service to 4-H clubs
  • Adaptive riding
  • Physical exams
  • Year round veterinary care

Cost of attendance is $45 and includes lunch.

For more information contact Dr. Kris Hiney:


Black Horse


The Excited Stallion

The vast majority of stallions have learned to accept a variety of handling and breeding methods which may not mimic their natural breeding state. However, some stallions may show abnormal behaviors that may either be dangerous or otherwise unwanted. Last month we focused on stallions that may be a bit reluctant to do their job in the breeding shed.  But many stallion handlers may be faced with the opposite problem – the unruly or aggressive stallion.  Both types of horses may actually arise from mishandling and poor understanding of natural stallion behavior.
In human controlled horse reproduction, stallions may exhibit overly exuberant behavior such as charging, serious biting and rearing which are not seen in natural breeding conditions.  From the stallion’s perspective, hand breeding and artificial collection are really quite far removed from natural breeding where the mare’s receptivity guides his behavior.  Simply put, mares would not tolerate such unacceptable behavior. In his world, he is in fact always right – as a trip to the shed does mean he will in fact breed.  He may also have limited contact with mares on a day to day basis, and very little interaction with them before breeding. Coupled with overly harsh treatment, you can easily get a conflicted horse who is in fear while driven by hormones.  So what can be done?
First of all, evaluate your ability to safely handle stallions.  If this is a scenario that causes fear, anxiety or anger in the humans, it may be best to seek qualified handling intervention. The best handlers do not let their emotions get involved and are able to separate a stallion’s breeding shed behavior from their day to day barn behavior.

  1. Teach the stallion a routine. Consistent handling that the stallion can predict and feel comfortable with will help lower any anxiety he has.  Use the same equipment, handlers etc and follow the same procedure for every collection.  Even the smallest thing that can easily be over looked can greatly affect a stallions behavior and willingness to collect.  For example, horses learn to associate the sound of spurs with being saddled up and ridden; likewise when a handler pulls a stallion out of the stall without wearing spurs this can initiate the thought process of going to the breeding shed.
  2. Increase the number of times he breeds. While you may not need to breed or collect the stallion, more practice and repetition may decrease his level of arousal.  This will also help with getting him into a routine.
  3. Teach the stallion to go the pace of the handler. The stallion must not be allowed to drag the handler or engage in circling around them while trying to slow the stallion. Work on such simple handling such as stop, stand and back up when asked. Practice this outside of the breeding shed as well. Make certain that the stallion moves away from you when you walk towards him, similar to executing a pivot in showmanship patterns. It is essential for the safety of everyone in the breeding shed that the stallion respects the space of the handler and has basic manners before entering the breeding shed for the first time.
  4. House him near more dominant stallions.  Stallions will decrease their testosterone which lowers libido if housed around more “active stallions.” Who the stallion’s neighbor is can have tremendous impacts on breeding behavior.  Monitor this change closely as it can also cause sexual frustration if the stallion is not being collected often enough.
  5. Be fair! Over the top or harsh discipline is unnecessary.  Most stallions can be taught very good manners with just a normal breeding halter and a chain over the nose or through the mouth/over the gums.  If using a gum chain, the handler must be very aware of their handling and not cause any damage or pain to the horse by excessive jerking. It takes very little pressure to get a response with a gum chain and extensive damage can be caused if used improperly.
  6. Make breeding less exciting.  Experiment with not having a mare present, or only estrus urine in the breeding shed.  Place the mare further away or have limited access.  Ovariectomized mares are also less “exciting” than a mare in natural estrus.  If using an artificial vagina, play with lowering the temperature and pressure (while still making it acceptable to the stallion) to lessen its stimulation.
  7. Punish bad behavior with a time out.  This will allow both of you to calm down. If his behavior is unacceptable, put him back in his stall for a little while.  Reward him for good behavior as well. Something as simple as getting additional turnout or hand grazing can help him get down to business.

Overall, remember that most poor stallion behavior is really human induced.  Systematically examine your handling procedures, and ask – are you being fair and setting reasonable expectations for the stallion?  Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help if needed.


Talk Box Talk

Supplements: The story of how not to be overwhelmed


Listen Here

Dr. Carey Williams of Rutgers University and well known speaker on all things supplements, shares her advice on deciding whether or not your  horse even needs a supplement.  In part 1 of a series, we talk the basics of when they might be warranted on how to choose the best product for your horse.



Researchers at OSU are interested in determining the incidence of anthelmintic resistance in Oklahoma horses and what management practices may influence resistance.  If you wish to take part, please read below and contact us for more information.


Free Fecal Egg Count



In the last video of the series, owners are reminded to set their horse up for success for every training session, and horses with good ground manners are a joy to be around.



Part 8: Ground handling wrap up



There are an overwhelming numbers of supplements marketed to horse owners. So do you really need one?


Does my horse need a supplement?


Round-bale feeder design affects hay waste and economics during horse feeding
Summary by Ethan Barron


Horse eating hay


This experiment was conducted by placing five feeders in five paddocks for the
first 20 days, and for the last 20 days the four remaining unused feeders were then placed in the paddocks along with the hay bale with no feeder. Once the feeders were in place five groups of five horses (25 horses in total) were fed using a rotational method. The horses were in each paddock for four days and then rotated to the next paddock, after each rotation a new hay bale was placed in each feeder. The horses were placed into groups utilizing a 5 x 5 latin square, these groups consisted of horses with similar, age, body weight, sex, and breed.


Hay outside of the feeder would be collected each morning, dried and weighed. The total amount of hay collected was then deemed waste and would be used to calculate results. Dry matter intake was estimated using the hay that was no longer there and the waste that was on the ground. Payback time calculations help the horse owners know when they would eventually get what they paid for, depending on which feeder they purchased. This was calculated by the control price of $110/t and the improved hay consumption compared to the control hay bale.


Hay waste was the main focus of this experiment, and the best three feeders preventing hay waste were: Waste Less (5% waste), Cinch Net (8% waste), and Hayhut (10% waste). These feeders all provided the largest physical restriction to the hay and thus resulted in less hay being wasted and more dry matter being consumed. The feeders that had the least amount of physical restriction had the most amount of hay waste. These are: No Feeder (58% waste), Hay Sleigh (37% waste), and Ring (19% waste). All of the feeders in this experiment kept the body weight percent consumed in dry matter at around 2 - 2.4%. Having no feeder on the hay bale resulted in the body weight percent consumed in dry matter drop below 2%,  but feeder design did not affect the dry matter consumption. These results prove that using a hay feeder will drastically improve your hay waste.


When it comes to payback time that is a different story. The way in which these feeders were designed and manufactured did drastically affect payback time. On average the higher price resulted in longer payback time. The best feeder based on the amount of waste and cost would be the Tombstone. The Cone and Covered Cradle did not reduce waste cost enough to pay themselves off. These results give horse owners insight as to which hay feeder would be right for them. It shows that a majority of the more expensive hay feeders will be more efficient at reducing hay waste.


Martinson, K., et al. "Round-bale feeder design affects hay waste and economics during horse feeding." Journal of animal science 90.3 (2012): 1047-1055.



Latest Research on Equine Health 



Apparent digestibility, fecal particle size, and mean retention time of reduced lignin alfalfa hay fed to horses



Alfalfa has long been a popular forage choice for horse owners due to its greater digestibility, calcium concentration and crude protein content. While there are risks associated with alfalfa, such as blister beetle poisoning, alfalfa is useful for horses with higher nutritional needs, such as broodmares, growing horses and more heavily exercising horses.  However, even within alfalfa, the stage of maturity and the amount of lignin present, a non-digestible fiber, can affect the digestibility of the forage.  Recently, reduced lignin cultivars of alfalfa have been created which are demonstrated to contain less ADL (acid detergent lignin) compared to traditional cultivars.  Greater digestibility of these alfalfa types has been demonstrated in ruminants, including dairy cows and lambs.  However, it was unknown if decreased lignin content would also improve digestibility in a hind gut fermenting species. Alfalfa hay from both reduced lignin, and traditional alfalfa cultivars was fed to 6 stock type horses to measure forage digestibility.  Horses were fed 2.5% of the herd body weight (3 horses/herd), split into two equal feedings.  Hay was offered via hay nets and all remaining hay, or hay on the ground was collected to determine intake.  Horses were housed in stalls for two days to undergo total fecal collection to determine digestibility.  Mean retention time of alfalfa hays through the GI tract was assessed by feeding a indigestible marker, and collecting manure serially to determine gastrointestinal transit time.  The nutrient composition between the two types of alfalfa hays was similar, with the exception of ADL which was lower in the reduced lignin hays.  Consumption of alfalfa hay resulted in the horses far exceeding both their energy and crude protein needs.  Both hays were readily accepted by the horses, and did not differ in intake.  Digestibility did increase by 3% in the reduced lignin hay, but crude protein and fiber digestibility when assessed separately did not differ.  Overall, reduced lignin alfalfa did have a small advantage of digestibility, but perhaps more importantly, feeding alfalfa hay to mature, maintenance horses far exceeded all nutrient requirements.  While reduced lignin alfalfa may be helpful in horses with greater nutritional needs, it is probably not warranted for a majority of horses.


Amanda M Grev, Marcia R Hathaway, Craig C Sheaffer, M Scott Wells, Amanda S Reiter, Krishona L Martinson, Apparent digestibility, fecal particle size, and mean retention time of reduced lignin alfalfa hay fed to horses, Journal of Animal Science, Volume 99, Issue 7, July 2021


Neighborly Advice:  Tips for Equine Business Owners

Horse and girl and laptop

Hopefully every equine small business owner is set up to minimize your personal liability just in case anything goes wrong. Here are a few tips to make sure you and your business are two separate entities in the eyes of the law.


  • Federal Employer Identification Number

This is a must have!  You must have a FEIN before you open a bank account, write a check or file a tax return. If you don't have one, got to the IRS website right now!  Literally, stop reading and go!


  • Separate bank account

Do not mix your personal money and your business money.  Make sure business expenses are paid from the business account, and income is deposited there as well. Commingling funds is a big red flag!  Even if you have to advance funds from your personal account, those need to be repaid by the business!


  • Maintain sufficient funds

You need to keep enough funds in the bank account to cover normal expenses. If your monthly expenses total $2000, you need more than $500 in the bank!

For more tips on successful equine businesses, read Equine Law and Horse Sense, by Julie Fershtman



Bits and Pieces
Upcoming Events and Industry Updates 


Adult Education

Horse Owners Workshop - March 5, 2022
Horse Owners Workshop will return to its in person format in 2022.  Three educational tracts will be offered, basic horse management, advanced/in depth topics and youth education.  Attendees may choose which seminars to attend.  . Registration closes March 2.  Cost to attend is $45 and includes light breakfast and lunch!

Youth Events


Oklahoma 4-H and OQHA horsemanship clinic - March 29, 2022
Clinic with AQHA Professional Leonard, Mandie, and Leigh Berryhill, and Rich Chayer. Contact Dr. Hiney for registration information.  This clinic is limited to 40 participants.


Oklahoma State 4-H and FFA Judging Contest - April 30, 2022
Totusek Arena, Stillwater, OK


NRCHYA Oklahoma 4-H Clinic - May 7
Totusek Arena, Stillwater, OK
Clinicians Russel Dilday and Todd Crawford
Registration is limited to 40 Participants. $25 cattle fee


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