The last several years, the town of Pueblo, Colorado has hosted the National Little Britches Rodeo Association Finals Rodeo. Heartwarming, wholesome, family-oriented, hard-working, and inspirational are only five of countless words to describe both the participants and volunteers for Hope Counts of NLBRA. Some 2,000 kids, between the ages of 5 and 18, from 21 states compete in more than 275 “Little Britches” rodeos every year. Their most recent Finals Rodeo was held in July and members of Spalding Labs were again on hand to help with the Hope Counts Crisis Fundraising. According to Tom Spalding, President of Spalding Labs, “Of all the events we do every year, Little Britches is the most fun.”
The Hope Counts - Crisis Fund of the NLBRA was founded by Sydnee Christensen of Utah when she was a mere 12 years old. She wanted to help injured rodeo kids and their families facing catastrophic events. Sydnee started brainstorming ideas, lit a fire under her mom, and they began putting together the business side. Sponsorship Coordinator for the NLBRA, Sarah Faith Wiens, had this to say about Sydnee’s endeavor, "It's one thing for an association to start up a crisis fund, it's quite another to have a 12-year-old member start one. It makes me so proud to be a small part of an organization that has members willing to help one another in such a large way. The sport of rodeo is dangerous, there is no getting around it. Anytime you mix livestock, kids and a competitive atmosphere there are bound to be accidents and when that happens it's comforting to know that families aren't alone. NLBRA is truly an association where character is developed, western traditions live and legends begin!"
Sydnee’s base idea for fundraising was cleaning trailers for rodeo participants using Spalding’s Bye Bye Odor as they were checking in. Everyone who made a donation received the Hope Counts signature Blue Feather. The volunteers worked hard, cleaning trailers, for three days. Their youthful teamwork and dedication to serving others touched the heart of Spalding’s video director, Berry Landen who was on location shooting the Finals Rodeo. On the spot, Landen decided to produce the “Hope Counts: Kids helping kids get better” video.
Both Spalding Lab’s video and Blue Feathers went viral at that year’s NFR in Las Vegas.
Expanding on Sydnee’s trailer cleaning concept, Larry Garner with Spalding Labs, suggested they not only donate the Bye Bye Odor used to clean the trailers but then sell Bye Bye Odor at the event giving 100% of the proceeds to Hope Counts for unlimited fundraising possibilities. Garner said, “It’s a win-win-win. The kids raise money to help others. Spalding’s Bye Bye Odor cleans the trailers which means less flies, better smell and happier animals. We all know happier animals are better competitors.” The premier year’s overwhelming response was thanks to the many Little Britches alumni, now top professional cowboys and cowgirls who wore the blue feathers at NFR. The buzz in Las Vegas that year was, ‘what are all these blue feathers for?’ generating enormous baseline awareness for Hope Counts.
Again this year Spalding Labs had plenty of donated Bye Bye Odor on hand, along with some additional man power to help the kids clean the trailers, and raise over $4000. Hope Counts not only gives back to the rodeo community in need, but also teaches kids teamwork, volunteerism and selfless acts of service. Wise beyond her years, Sydnee states “Aristotle said ‘virtue is its own reward’ I think we all may get a little extra reward here.”
Angelea Walkup is a US Dressage Federation gold medalist best known in the horse world as web series host of HorseGirlTV and producer of the equibarre workout. She is a career content creator and holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. You can connect with her on Twitter @AKwalkup or her Facebook Page.
We often receive the question if Fly Predators can be released with free range chickens and other poultry. The answer is YES, they definitely can. Chicken find Fly Predators larvae a delicacy thus quite tasty but you can easily mitigate a Fly Predator buffet for your free rangers with 2 simple options. One, you can simply coop your free rangers for 24 hours when releasing your Fly Predators as once emerged Fly Predators are safe from poultry. Two, you can assemble these easy to make release stations. Our awesome entomologist on staff, Jessica Starcevich, put together these terrific how to instructions below!
Durable Fly Predator Release Station
1) Gather a piece of window screen (A), 3” PVC female adapter (B), a 3” PVC cleanout plug (C), a pair of scissors (D), a snap (E), a screw eye (F), and a hot glue gun/super glue, etc. (G).
2) Set the female adapter so that the threaded side is against the work surface, lay screen over the top, and glue into place. Cut excess screen away from the outside.
3) Flip the female adapter over so that the threaded side is up and the screen is against your work surface. Drill a pilot hole into the top of the clean out plug and thread in the screw eye.
4) Tie a loop of string/twine/wire/etc. around the snap and hang in your preferred location. Unscrew the clean out plug, add Fly Predators, replace the clean out plug, and clip snap to screw eye. You now have a release station for your Fly Predators that is protected from the elements as well as birds. Just dump out the old and replace with new Fly Predators when you receive your next shipment.
Included are photos of the materials you'll need and photo to show steps too! Easy! With this method either coat the string or sides of the PVC with Vaseline (Tanglefoot also works and could be found at your local hardware store).
If you’ve had an unusually wet spring and temperatures are now ramping up, biting stable flies are coming! Below is the who, what, when, where, and why...and how to help reduce the impact.
Who’s going to be most likely to have problems with stable flies?
Anyone who has received a lot of rain and has warming temperatures, especially if you have had flooding or standing water.
What exactly is coming?
Biting Stable Flies are blood feeding flies that like to breed in manure, decaying vegetation, and other rotting organic matter. Biting stable flies have a painful bite and most often bite on the legs and flanks of horses, causing them to stomp. Females of these flies can lay up to 80 eggs at a time and lay 10-12 clutches in a lifetime. That means every female biting stable fly has the potential to produce nearly 1,000 offspring in her lifetime!
When is this population explosion of stable flies likely to happen?
NOW! If you’ve had a wet spring and have been starting to get hot during the day, you probably already have these leg biters. If you don’t have them yet, they’re going to start soon.
Where are all these flies coming from?!
Despite the name ‘Stable Fly,’ biting stable flies rarely breed in stables. They do however like to breed anywhere that has manure or decaying vegetation. Aside from manure and manure piles, there are many many other places biting stable flies can breed. Some common areas you may have include: mower decks that haven’t been cleaned on lawn mowers, grass clippings, some types of organic mulch, hay chaff outside the edges of barns and outdoor pens, mossy/weedy edges of ponds (especially as the water begins to recede), boggy or marshy areas, compost, and many more.
Why are things worse this year?
Many of the areas mentioned above dry out before biting stable flies can complete their life cycle in normal years. With all the extra rain, and in some areas flooding, ditches and drainage areas have more debris than usual, lawns may be thicker before being able to be mowed (so more and denser grass clippings), thin layers of hay chaff outside are staying damp longer, etc. Also, biting stable flies are more likely to travel farther than house flies in their search for blood. Often several miles or more. So, with breeding areas being more favorable to biting stable flies, more hungry adults are looking for your horses and even you to feed on.
How can I reduce the impact?
#1 Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation! Try and keep ditches clear of debris and draining well. Rake up grass clippings, dead weeds, hay chaff, and any other dead vegetative matter. If things are staying damp, it’s better to have everything in one large pile to begin composting. Composting releases heat that can help kill many of the fly eggs and larvae, leaving only the cool outer edges of the compost pile to be favorable to fly breeding. If possible, turning the edges of this pile up to the top can prevent fly breeding completely. Try to keep weeds and other foliage cut back to reduce areas for flies to rest and to help sunlight reach more areas to dry things out.
#2 Add more Fly Predators to match the much higher number of fly larvae (maggots) that survive to the pupal (cocoons) stage. This happens due to the moisture of manure and other rotting organic matter remaining in the 40%-60% range.
#3 Add traps. Biting Stable Flies are only caught with the Bite Free Stable fly trap from StarBar. This is the only commercial trap for biting stable flies on the market. Bite Free traps should be placed low to the ground, preferably placing it at a height similar to your horse’s leg. Remember, these flies like to feed on the lower legs of horses, people, and anything else warm blooded, so you want the trap at a height the flies normally feed. These traps imitate animal body heat, which attracts the biting stable flies that then get stuck to the trap. These traps do have a durable glue that will not wash away in rain or melt in heat; however, because of this make sure your horse cannot reach the trap (if placing outside of a fence, consider how far your horses tail reaches outside the fence). Also, because this trap is clear, once flies start getting caught it may look like an easy meal to small birds. To minimize the chance of birds getting caught on the trap, place the trap away from areas where small fledgling birds may be and away from any areas where birds are normally fed. In addition, using an owl decoy or cheap rubber snake can also help deter birds from coming closer.
Watch our How to Use Fly Traps.
#4 With flies coming in from off your property, you may also need to resort to fly spray this year. Our new Bye Bye Insects Fly Spray is the first essential oil spray that matches the performance of the very best synthetic Pyrethroid sprays. But unlike those, it can be used on yourself and your horses. It’s also effective for Mosquitoes. It smells nice too! If house flies are getting in your home, you can spray Bye Bye Insects around the door frames to repel flies hanging out near there waiting to zoom in when the door opens. Bye Bye Insects will stain light colored hair on horses, so we do not recommend use on white, gray, or pinto show horses or horses where staining is a problem. The staining does wear off, but does not wash off.
This tremendously helpful blog was written by our rockstar entomologist, Jessica Starcevich! Thanks SO much Jess! You truly do rock!
House Flies are also going to be excessive for wetter than normal regions so check out specific for those pests as well! Click HERE!
Lulu was the only Donkey I have owned. She was one of my patients in a petting zoo, which was part of the facilities at a children’s summer camp in the mountains not far from my home.
The petting zoo included miniature horses, pot-bellied pigs, lambs, goats, ducks and Lulu.
Lulu was a full sized burro. The camp adopted her as a foal for the children to enjoy, but when she was two years of age the camp director told me that she had grown “too big” for the petting zoo and that he wanted to donate her to somebody who would provide her with a good home.
I had been thinking for some time of getting a donkey to control the weed growth in our highly inflammable canyon, especially outside my fence lines on our neighbors’ ranch properties. So, I said, “I’ll be glad to take her. She can be good company for my horses.”
That’s how I came to own Lulu, and she came to educate me, to understand the donkey mind and how it differs from the horse’s mind, and, importantly, she helped me to understand and appreciate the hybrid mule.
For example, as soon as I got her home I got a long rope, attached it to her halter, and tied her to an oak tree. She immediately started grazing the tall spring grass around the oak. I stood by with a sharp knife, ready to help her if she became entangled. I knew that, although halter broke, she had never before been staked out on a long tie rope.
It took about 15 minutes before she stepped into a loop of the rope. Then after another 5 or 10 minutes, the rope encircled another leg. As she moved out away from the tree the slack came out of the rope and tightened around her legs. Soon it disabled her. She went down. A horse, two years of age and never having been staked out, would have struggled and probably suffered rope burns or worse.
Lulu, however, quietly sniffed and examined the ropes encircling her legs, gently tried to free them by moving them, and then gave up. She sighed, laid her head on the ground, sighed again and then just relaxed.
Her behavior was so different than that of a horse experiencing a new and incapacitating situation that I marveled at the good judgment this species was capable of.
A few years later, when I became a mule owner, breeder, trainer, and admirer, this experience with Lulu, and several others led to my attitude towards mules; I often say, “I love horses! I respect mules!”
The dog has been called "Man's Best Friend", and I do not dispute this. The cow has been called "The Mother of Mankind". I can accept this. But, if these things are true, then surely the horse has been "Man's Best Servant". However, a servant can quit the job if abused, so perhaps the horse should be called "Man's Best Slave".
I submit that the horse has, of all domestic animals, been the most important to mankind. Those societies, which had the horse, had the most progressive cultures. The Australian aborigines had only the dog. The Natives of North America had only the dog. Those of South America had the dog, the llama, and the guinea pig. Most of Africa did not have the horse, except in the far North, along the Mediterranean Sea, and it was there that the most advanced civilizations occurred.
But Europe and Asia had the horse, along with sheep, goats, cattle, swine, and the dog. The horse gave humans the ability to travel long distances at relatively high rates of speed, enabling mankind to spread their knowledge, their skills, their religions, their technologies, and their genes. Countless millions of horses died for mankind at work and in our wars.
In World War II, for example, our highly technical war, the war that gave birth to the atomic bomb, and the jet airplane, millions of horses died. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union during World War II, it did so with 740,000 horses and mules and 4,300 veterinarians. Both the Soviets and the Germans each lost more than a thousand horses a day. Germany used 2-1/2 million horses in World War II and the Soviets used 3 million.
At one point, the Germans surrounded 2 Cossack divisions. Each Russian had to kill his own horse until 12,000 dead horses blanketed the ground.
When the Germans were surrounded at Stalingrad, and ordered by Hitler to fight to the death, they killed 32,000 horses to keep the soviets from getting them.
Towards the end of the war, a German cavalry division fled into Budapest as the Soviets advanced. The division had 22,000 troops. Only 650 survived. None of the horses did.
So, how has mankind rewarded the horse? To a great extent, with abuse and most of this abuse has not been the result of intentional cruelty, but to ignorance; and failure to understand the behavior of this physically powerful but extremely timid prey creature whose only effective means of surviving predation is flight.
When I graduated veterinary school in 1956, the horse population of the U.S.A. was down to 2.2 million, one tenth of what it had been 50 years earlier in 1906. After 6,000 years of domestication, the horse had become obsolete, made so by the internal combustion engine. Automobiles, tractors and trucks had largely replaced the horse.
I wanted to practice, at least partially, with horses, so my only alternatives at the time seemed to be the racetrack or a cattle ranching area where the horse would continue to serve its traditional role. I had worked at the racetrack as a student, and wasn't interested in it. So, I located in a ranching area filled with cattle ranches and horse farms. I could not foresee that half a century later, this region would be largely suburbanized, and home to countless pleasure and show horses of every possible breed and discipline.
Today, there are more than 9 million equines in the U.S.A., but their role has changed. True working horses continue to lessen in numbers. The increase is almost entirely due to horses used for recreational purposes. When I say "recreation", I include racehorses, show horses, pleasure and trail horses, therapeutic riding horses and even horses kept exclusively as companion animals, or pets.
Then, less than a decade into the 21sl Century, a new problem arose: The Unwanted Horse! This problem has multiple causes:
1. Excessive breeding, causing a surplus of horses especially when combined with:
2. Early orthopedic lameness from excessive work while young, leading to unsoundness
3. A depressed economy and
4. A prolonged drought both occurring after:
5. The slaughter ban
I'm old enough to remember when most of the dog food we purchased when I was a child contained horsemeat.
I'm also a veteran of World War II and I am sure that I unknowingly ate horsemeat during those war years because it was widely marketed as beef.
Now, there is no question that the horse slaughter industry needed reform. The transport of horses was often unacceptable. The handling and actual slaughter of horses at the packing plants was often unacceptable. But, as so often happens when evils are corrected in human societies, we over-react and end up creating new problems.
When the present day anti-slaughter bans were legislated, I predicted that, in eliminating one set of problems, we would, because emotion interferes with reason and common sense, end up by creating new and even bigger problems. And, that's exactly what has happened.
Today, nearly 40,000 Mustangs, culled from feral herds because of overpopulation and environmental damage, waste their life away, at taxpayers' expense, in crowded corrals, because of the slaughter ban. A few are adopted, but most spend their life as unwanted horses.
Because of our depressed economy, many people are unable to afford to properly feed and care for their horses. Some of these people, unable to make rational decisions, allow their horses to starve and waste away. We constantly hear of legal action being taken in such cases.
Other people, self deceptive, turn their horses loose on public lands, or on private agricultural lands.
I learned as a practitioner, that the people who need to get rid of a dog, and dump it by some farm or ranch gate, are not intentionally cruel. I've had dogs and even domestic rabbits dumped at my rural property. These people can't deal with reality. They practice denial. They tell themselves, their children and other people, "Oh! We found a nice home for our pet in the country." It's because they do not have the courage to take their unwanted pet to a dog pound or animal shelter.
Now, we are seeing the same thing with horses. Before the slaughter ban, such people took the unwanted horse to an auction sale. It was usually purchased by a slaughter company, but they told themselves that, "we sold her. She has a new home."
But, there is another reason for the plethora of unwanted horses, and it's a reason we don't hear about. We hear about the economy and about the surplus of horses, but we don't hear about the leading reason for unwanted horses, and that is unsoundness.
I recently made a new video; the first one I've done which has nothing to do with equine behavior. The title is Lameness: Its Cause and Prevention. In it, I list the eleven causes of lameness in horses, including: old age, defective conformation, malnutrition, lack of exercise, injury from an unsafe environment, inappropriate working ground surface, improper foot care, laminitis, infection, genetic predisposition, and - The leading cause of lameness: Excessive work in the immature horse. This is the leading cause of lameness ending up with unwanted horses.
If it is a mare and she goes lame at 5 or 6 or 7 years of age, she ends up as a broodmare, probably passing her predisposition to lameness on to her offspring.
If the horse is a male, unless it is the exceptional stallion that has won a lot of money, he ends up as an unwanted horse.
When I was young, we started horses under saddle and 4 or 5 years of age, and we called them "colts". When I became a veterinarian the only futurities were in the racing industry, and 70% of those young horses suffered premature orthopedic injuries often ending their career. A 2-year-old horse is a baby. A pre-adolescent. Even if the epiphyses are closed radiographically, these are immature horses. Today we have barrel racing futurities, cutting futurities, reining futurities and so on.
Several years ago, the A.A.E.P. met in Dallas. The cutting horse futurities were being held in nearby Fort Worth and 3 colleagues from Sweden asked me if I could somehow get them to see the futurity. I got a local colleague, one of my former interns, with a car to take the 5 of us to Fort Worth that evening.
We watched 3 horses compete, and then one of the Swedes, a professor at the vet school in Uppsala said, "This is incredible. It must take many years to train a horse to do this."
"But", I protested. "This is a futurity."
"I do not know what this word means", my Swedish colleague replied.
"These are 3 year olds", I explained.
"They have only had one year of training". The professor looked thoughtful. Then, he said, "I have only two comments. What amazing performance, and what is happening to their poor legs?
When dressage became popular in my area, at first the horses were nearly all retired unsuccessful Thoroughbred racehorses. Then imported Warmbloods started to arrive from Europe. I asked several of my clients why they were willing to pay such high prices for the Warmbloods.
"Because they stay sound," I was told. But, I knew why they stayed sound. They weren't started until they were four, and weren't campaigned hard until five. Also, the arena surfaces in Western Europe were resilient. Ours were often too hard or made of deep sand, which has no resiliency and stresses the soft tissues severely.
So, we Americans started them at two and they broke down prematurely.
Ironically, today many Europeans are starting their horses at two, and a high percentage breakdown before middle age.
Why do we do this?
We do it because of mankind's two major faults: Greed and Ignorance.
We start immature horses and severely stress their limbs because of greed. If breeders can sell colts a year earlier it saves them a lot of money in feed bills, veterinary and farrier bills.
It's much easier for trainers to start colts as 2 year olds than later. They are more submissive when immature. It's easier to get desirable performance in a youngster. One of the nation's top reining horse trainers acknowledged this to me, admitted how much easier it was, and regretfully admitted that it was a major contributor to the cause of lameness. Sadly, he calls them "Disposable Horses".
When I moved to California in 1957, my wife rode cutting horses for one of my clients. As a result, I went to quite a few weekend competitions. One horse I saw at every event was a gelding named "Smokey Joe." One day I saw him yawn. I was startled to see a 20-year-old mouth. I said to the mounted owner," How old is he?"
"Nineteen," he replied.
"Wow," I said. "And he cuts every weekend and is perfectly sound and his legs are perfectly clean."
"I cut on him every day" the rider replied. "He's one tough horse. But then, he wasn't broke to ride until he was nine."
The other factor is ignorance. Most of the people who own these horses are naive. They see all the breeders and all the trainers approving so they assume it's okay.
Equine practitioners are kept busy injecting joints, not only therapeutically, but also prophylactically.
The pharmaceutical industry advertises its products in lay horse publications, and encourages the use of intra-articular preparations to prevent lameness. Can you imagine this happening in the world of promising high school athletes?
Remember, Mary Lou Retton, the 13-year-old Olympic Gold Medal gymnast? Still a young woman, I saw her on TV endorsing a brand of hip replacements. Too much work at too young an age!
A recent study revealed that growing colts that got exercise had better musculoskeletal development than under exercised colts. Of course! But that doesn't mean that the extreme stresses involved in racing, reining, jumping, and cutting are beneficial to the young, immature colt.
Why do we do these things to an animal that will actually die for us? Why does soreing still go on in the Tennessee Walking Horse competitions? Why are we still seeing "peanut rollers" in Western Pleasure classes; downhill horses that are throwing excessive weight on the forelimbs contributing to premature lameness? Why are we seeing unnecessary low head carriage in cutting and reining horses? Why do judges give such horses preference? Why do the breed associations not disqualify such judges? We know that excess weight on the forehand contributes to orthopedic disease. Why do we see hyperflexion of the head and neck increasingly in Western horses, English horses and dressage horses? Our German colleague, Dr. Gerd Heuschmann is condemned by some because he has dared to expose the physical and mental damage done to the horse by "Rollkur", the ridiculous and grotesque excessive head and neck hyperflexion approved by so many dressage judges.
Recently, at last, the AVMA Journal has campaigned for more humane horsemanship. We are the most qualified people to help stop these tragic practices. They contribute to crippling innocent horses. They are overworked at too young an age and increase the rate of premature unsoundness. Unnaturally, low head carriage and hyperflexion of the head and neck are incompatible with truly good horsemanship. We, as a profession should protest these excesses.
Let me be clear, I am not opposed to the sports of racing or horse shows. These activities have helped to produce superior horses. But both sports are replete with abusive elements and if we doctors of veterinary medicine vigorously condemn these grotesque practices, there will be fewer "Unwanted Horses" in the future.
Solving the Unwanted Horse Problem
1. Abolish the slaughter ban. Restore equine slaughter with rigidly enforced regulations on transport, handling and actual slaughter.
2. Allow mustang programs to be set up and supervised by scientifically qualified professionals. Do not allow the opinions of unqualified individuals to determine policy.
3. Let the veterinary profession, in conjunction with selected and approved horsemanship masters, recommend the rules for using horses in all horse show disciplines, horse racing, and other competitive events. This is in order to minimize abusive techniques.
4. Make it a felony to abandon a horse on public or private property, and enforce the law.
If all 4 of the above were done, it would dramatically reduce the presently huge number of unwanted horses.
© Spalding Laboratories. All Rights Reserved.