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Probing Your Hay

Hay is a main staple of horse feed, and horse owners are understandably choosy when it comes to finding and buying the best feed for their animals. Take a good look at the hay you thinking of buying and also smell it.
The scent should be sweet and devoid of any traces of moldy odor. The color should be a healthy green and not brown. Additionally, if you notice that the tips of the hay or the leaves are bleached by the sun and appear burned, then the hay is of decidedly lower quality since the protein levels are impaired.

For those who are serious about getting only the highest quality hays, consider asking at the feed store if you are getting a first cutting or a subsequent one. Generally speaking, hay from a first cutting is usually lower in protein and a bit
stemmier than the second cutting. This is especially true for orchardgrass which is much more palatable to horses if it comes from a second cutting. Of course, looks are not everything, and if you are deeply concerned about the quality of the hay or if you are thinking of purchasing a large amount, a probe should be analyzed by a reputable lab that specializes in the testing of hay.

Serious probes will be made with a bona fide hay probe a 20 inch tube that has a cutting edge on end and a drill on the other. Boring into the bale, you will be able to extract a valid sample that should be mixed with five or six samples from other bales of the same cutting. A lab will then analyze the hay and provide you with the information that deals with the moisture content, protein and fiber levels as well as the TDN. Protein should usually be right around 10 to 17 percent while TDN should test higher than 60 percent.

Obviously, this information will help you to decide how much and what to feed to your animal. Keep in mind that performance horses will have different nutritional needs than the average backyard horse. In addition to the foregoing, if you purchase good quality hay with high protein content, you will not have to supplement as much protein in your grain feed. Thus, a little probing at the onset will save you money later on. Yet no matter what quality the probe indicates the hay is, continue to be diligent when examining the hay visually! Mold is not detected by a basic lab test.



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Horse Tack & Riding Equipment Maintenance

Tack needs to be maintained religiously. Synthetic tack can be hosed down or washed in the washing machine. It's lighter in weight, easy to care for, and less expensive than leather. Leather, needs much more care. Inspect it every time you clean it. Wash it every time you use it, and then oil the leather parts a few times a year.

Browse some different types and styles of synthetic and leather horse tack available online.

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