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Maria Wachter

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Best of HN: 10 Things That Are Absolutely the Worst About Hay

Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

Why can’t horses be like dogs in regard to their diet? It would be nice if we could just throw them some dried kibble twice a day that we bought at Walmart and call it good, but no, horses need hay and lots if it. They have finicky bellies and all that other crap we know about their digestion. Yes, you can feed them hay cubes and/or a complete feed instead of hay, but most of us scoff at this idea because we have been taught that hay is the BEST diet for the majority of horses. In no particular order, this is why I hate feeding hay:

1. Mold.

No matter how good the bale looks from the outside, you can still break open a bale and be greeted by that smelly black and white stuff staring you in the face. Yep, another $16 dollar bale is wasted. You’ll be lucky if you can find a hay vendor who will credit you back, you’ll even be more lucky if you can get that hay bale that you busted open back into a grab-able shape so you can actually return it to your hay guy.

2. It gets everywhere!

No matter what you do or how you dress, inevitably you will end up with some of that hay bale in your pockets, in the crease of your T-shirt and on windy days, in your eyes and teeth. No matter how hard I try, I always feel the need to shower after I get done feeding. After I take my clothes off, I realize pieces of hay also got into places I didn’t know they could get into.

3. The weight.

Why are these bales so freaking heavy and why am I so weak? Of course the only way to grab them (if you don’t have a hay hook) is by the baling twine that will definitely feel like you’re trying to carry a 100-pound dead weight holding onto thin strings sharp enough to double as razor blades.

4. The fear of being crushed.

Come on, we all know that one friend of a friend of a friend that was crushed to death by a hale bale that dropped onto her head.

5. The cost.

Yep, anyone on a dry lot envies their friends who have their horses on pasture. An average ton of hay in the western states can cost up to and over $300. That’s a lot of money to be shelling out a month that could be used for more important things … like buying more horses.

6. The itch factor.

I always wear long sleeves to feed. The times I decide to risk it and go bare-armed, I always end up looking like I got in a fight with an angry alley cat that needed a bath and doesn’t like water.

7. The shape.

Most awkward shape ever. I mean, I can’t actually think of a better shape that they could have, but I do know a 100-pound bale of dried grass in a rectangular shape is not the most ergonomic for trying to tote around.

8. The right alfalfa to grass ratio.

Of course my horses always crave the taste of alfalfa and turn up their nose at grass hay. Unfortunately, if fed a diet of complete alfalfa, they turn into bloated, high energy, sweaty monsters that remind me of a very pregnant lady that that just downed a whole pot of coffee and chased it with two Red Bulls.

Now, if they get fed just grass hay they waste away to frail whippets that would only look good on the cover of Vogue or the catwalk. It’s hard to get the correct alfalfa and grass balance, I’m not a mathematician after all.

9. Wild animal magnet.

Hay attracts a lot of wild animals. Right now I’m inundated with a plethora of cotton tail bunnies and jackrabbits that like to scatter their poo all over the tops of the bales of hay. I try and shake off all the turds, but I’m sure I miss a few. I sure hope my horses like “chocolate truffles.”

10. Allergies.

Yep, I’m not even allergic to hay and I still end up with red eyes, snot running down my face and sneezing and foaming at the mouth. I look like I just went through menopause and rabies at the same time.

Go hay. Go riding!

Best of HN: Having Horses vs. Having Kids

Read with a grain of salt. Children are our future, but the decision to have them is individual choice and we respect all choices.

Yes, we know you can have both. Pixabay/lymoni/CC

When I was little I never wanted children. People always told me, “wait until you get older, you’ll change your mind.” Well, I’m 36 years old and yep, I still don’t want kids. Maybe I’m too selfish, maybe I don’t want to lose hours of sleep every night, maybe the thought of changing diapers and the smell of baby poo disgusts me, maybe I think the world is already overpopulated, maybe I don’t want to raise my kid perfectly and it grow up to be a despicable person anyways, or maybe it’s a combination of everything?

Here are just some of the reasons I prefer horses over babies. This is tongue-in-cheek, so please don’t take this too seriously (especially if you love being a mom or dad and think kids are the best thing that ever happened to you).

1. You can buy the “perfect” horse: the color and disposition you want. Height, weight, sex, personality. You can’t do that with your kid. Yes, you can get artificially inseminated and have a greater chance of getting what you want, but you still don’t know if that kid is going to grow up to be a genius or serial killer. Or both.

2. Horses are WAY cheaper. Yes, horses cost an arm, leg and your soul, but babies cost even more. If you think you only have to pay for your kid until he/she is 18, you’re seriously wrong and delusional.

3. If your horse has vices and behavioral problems, you can pay a trainer to fix that. If your kid has these issues, you’ll feel like you failed as a parent (when clearly you didn’t).

4. You don’t have to help your horse do homework or take it to soccer practice and have to deal with being nice to other soccer moms.

5. Horses won’t put you in a nursing home. (They may put you in the hospital from time to time, however.)

6. Horses don’t care how much money you have, if you have a drinking problem, if you don’t spend every waking moment with them, if you don’t buy them the latest toy or if you don’t read them bedtime stories. They don’t care if they’re in your will or not.

7. You can be totally selfish and controlling with your horse.

8. You can get a horse to make you feel better without any consequences. If you have a kid for that reason, you probably will end up in therapy.

9. You can “spank” your horse without ending up in jail. Sometimes they do need a swift kick in the pants (figuratively speaking).

10. If the horse doesn’t work out, you can sell it. No one will care that much. You, on the other hand, can’t put your kid on Craigslist, no matter how much you want to.

Go riding.

Best of HN: 6 Truths About Owning Mules

Photo by Susan Wachter Photo by Susan Wachter

Photo by Susan Wachter

Mules are a lot like horses: after all their momma (or daddy, if you have a hinny) was one. They also are a lot different from horses. They are all unique and have their own personalities but there are a few things that most mules tend to possess that make them much different than their horse brethren.

1. They tend to be insanely jealous. Yes, horses can be attention and affection hogs, but mules will actually get so jealous that they’ll pout if you ignore them or attack their herd mates hours later in fits of rage if you give more attention to someone else.

2. They are very loyal. Once they bond to you, they act more like a dog than an equine. They holler when they see you, come running for affection and can be turned out loose on the property without wandering off. They’ll even sometimes help you out doing tasks and try to charm you and make you laugh with their personalities. If they’re trying to get your attention they’ll go to all measures: braying annoyingly, banging on fences or grabbing the chain on the gate and making a lot of noise with it.

3. Their brays are all super distinctive. I can sit in my house and know exactly which one of them is talking. Some sound like Foghorns, some sound like giggling school girls, and some sound like they’re getting murdered in a dark alley.

4. They LOVE to roll. Before they eat, after they eat, before they ride, after they ride and anytime in between. They actually are addicted to rolling. They also can get up front first or @$$ (ha, get it?) first. A horse gets up front-end first, a cow gets up back-end first. A mule can do either.

5. Most of them LOVE their ears rubbed. I’m not talking about a gentle ear tip massage, I’m talking about sticking your fingers into their ears and practically scratching their brains. My mules run up to me and put their head down every day to get their daily ear scratchings.

6. They can be wimps compared to horses. Yes, horses can be nervous and spooky, but they tend to live in the moment. Mules can brood over things for days at a time. Something scared them last year? They will be thinking about it scaring them next year. For example, one of my mules had an elk jump out on him from behind a bush, so now every time he’s near the same spot he looks behind every bush waiting for an elk to jump out at him again.

They really won’t do anything unless you convince them it’s safe to do. A horse you can practically ride over a cliff. A mule won’t do that until they trust you and know it won’t hurt them.

Go mules. Go riding.

Need more mules? We suggest one of these fine articles: