Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The 80-15-5 Rule

I read another interesting article a few days ago by David Ramey, DVM. I've shared a few of his articles over the years as I often find his perspective interesting and refreshing. I don't agree with him on everything, we are still talking about horses so unilateral agreement on all topics will never happen, but I do agree with him on many things. His latest article was titled "The 80-15-5 Rule." 

The gist of the 80-15-5 article was that horse owners tend to spend way too much time worrying about their horses, and that we would all have more enjoyment with our horses if we learned to worry less. From his perspective, 80% of the time a horse is going to recover from whatever ails it regardless of what treatments are or are not performed. Hence, why he feels a lot of people think ineffective treatments are actually effective. The horse was going to get better anyway, and the supplement/laser therapy/shockwave treatment didn't actually contribute anything. We horse owners just feel like it did because we did the treatment and the horse got better, and his point is the horse would have gotten better anyway. 

He does feel that about 15% of the time the only way a horse is going to recover from something is with intervention. Some colic cases are only going to recover if colic surgery is performed. On a side note, he said in a previous article that he gives banamine to horses with a gas colic for the owner's sake, not because it does anything for the horse with gas - that the majority of the time the gas colic will resolve on its own. A bone chip interfering with a joint will need to be removed surgically. A horse with an eye injury needs medical treatment. A horse with an upper respiratory infection, cellulitis, or any other type of infection needs antibiotics. A horse with a soft tissue injury needs to follow an appropriate protocol of rest and controlled exercise. 

Then he feels you have the dreaded 5% of issues, where it doesn't matter what you do or how much money you are willing to spend, the issue is not treatable. For some diseases there is no cure. A big one that we see people fret about is horses looking and/or acting old. Your 27 year old horse is not going to look and act like it did at 20 no matter how much money you are willing to spend, aging is simply a reality of life.  The majority of the time a broken leg isn't going to be treatable. You can't prevent your horse from having a heart attack or an aneurysm. If your horse is in kidney failure there is no dialysis treatment for horses.  These are a few examples that fall into the 5% category. 

Jason and I spend a lot of time worrying about the horses in our care. It can sometimes be hard to discern when you are seeing something in the 80% category, and when you are in the 15% or 5% category. We've gotten better at knowing when we're in 80% land and when we're not. However, we still see our vets a lot, and many times we have a horse seen by a vet out of an abundance of caution just in case we're not in 80% land. I feel that's a reasonable approach. I think Dr. Ramey's overall point is important though - worry less about your horses and enjoy them more. His article made me realize that sometimes Jason and I spend too much time and effort worrying about our residents rather than simply enjoying them. What do you think, do you worry too much?


Thanks to help from my friend Kate all of the blankets are ready to be dropped off to be washed and repaired. Amazingly, this project was finished a week ago which has got to be a record for me.

Moe and Thomas 

Tony, Chance and Convey

Miel, Taco, Happy and Murphy

Baby and Hemi

Elfin, Thomas and Apollo 

Walon and Johnny

Roho and River

Bruno and Merlin

Walden and Fabrizzio


Bonnie, Griselle and Sabrina

I never get tired of pretty morning skies

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Stills

Oskar and Rocky

Tony and Baby

Calimba and Lily (Maisie hiding in the background)

Cino, Merlin and Fabrizzio

Silver and Faune

a closer look at Silver


Trigger and Thomas

Cinnamon and MyLight

Elfin and Grand

Baner, Hesse and Duesy


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Construction Complete

Construction of our third hay barn was completed yesterday. The first load of gravel was delivered today, and three more loads should have us ready to start storing more hay. Our plan is to get the needed gravel delivered and spread tomorrow. After that the only issue we will have with our new hay barn is that it is not full of hay. Since rain continues to elude us it looks like we are going to need all the hay our three hay barns can store and then some. You can never have too much hay storage. 


All we need to do is finish adding gravel and of course fill it with hay

taken the day before completion

Baner and Walden

Homer, Trigger and Convey were having an interesting pre-breakfast conversation


MyLight and Maisie

Sabrina and Norman

Ripley and Donovan

River and Rubrico

Miel, Johnny, Murphy and Happy

Sebastian and Johnny


B-Rad and Blu

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Drought Costs Money

(post by Jason) Someone asked me a few days ago why all the farmers in Middle Tennessee were so up worked up about the ongoing dry weather. It's an interesting question on a number of fronts and it made me think deeply about how to explain it. 

Most people today, even those in rural areas, don't rely on nature to directly supply the inputs required for their living. Farmers very much do. I'll explain it this way. Every farmer works with their soil to make a living by turning seeds, sunshine and rain into crops that can be sold onto the market. The only real difference between farmers is how they choose to market the crops they have to sell. Thus some people grow corn or soybeans or wheat or milo or cotton. Others grow vegetables or tree fruits. A lot of farmers grow grass. Some grass farmers choose to market their grass as hay or haylage, either by selling it to others or by storing it on their own farms and feeding it to confined livestock. Other grass farmers market their grass by allowing livestock or horses to harvest it for them. We fall into this camp. 

Grass and every other crop I mentioned requires some combination of fertile soil, ample rainfall, abundant sunshine, good weed control, timely management and adequate time to mature between spring and fall freezes in order to produce a bountiful, successful crop. When any of the variables I mentioned is out of whack....either too much or not enough....it reduces the amount of grass or crop produced. In the case of grass either the farmer needs to commensurately reduce the number of animals grazing the grass, or if he wants to maintain livestock or horse numbers he needs to buy grass/hay from somewhere else to feed them. Both can have vastly negative impacts on the bottom line. 

The other rule about nature is that it abhors a vacuum and it will not tolerate bare soil. The best and most effective weed control on any grass farm is a thick, tall stand of productive grass. When that has been removed due to grazing during drought conditions the grass will be replaced and outcompeted by weeds. I've seen lots of times in my life when it was too dry for grass to grow. I have never seen it too dry for weeds to grow! During droughts all the money spent on fertilizer and (perversely) weed control in order to get grass to grow will instead cause one heck of a crop of weeds to get started. Then we get to spend more money, sometimes over a couple of years, trying to get the weeds under control and re-establish grass by (you guessed it) buying seed and fertilizer to get it going again!

At this time we are about 9 inches below normal rainfall for the spring in our immediate area. Last week we started feeding hay in some of our pastures. If the rainfall situation does not normalize we will soon be feeding hay in all of the pastures. It isn't too late for the rain deficit to see some correction. This year won't be as productive for grass, hay and other crops in our area because of the spring drought, but should rain amounts begin to move back to normal levels some catch-up can happen with grass. Farmers are used to playing whatever hand Mother Nature deals them in any given year. Some years you get a full house, other years not so much. 


Romeo, Faune and Lofty

Bonnie and Griselle

Chance, Convey and Cisco

Lighty and Sam

Levendi, Moe and Homer

Charlotte and Calimba

Renatta, MyLight and Calimba

Walden and Remmy

Baner and Fabrizzio

Gus and Silver