Delaware Equine Council Member Appreciation Day September 28

September 1, 2014 in Events, Uncategorized

The Delaware Equine Council is holding their member appreciation day on Sunday, September 28th at Redden State Forest Headquarters Tract.  Both members and non members are welcome to ride, drive or hike the trails that are suitable for all abilities.  Current members are admitted free and may bring one guest free of charge.  Non members pay $20 and automatically become a member of the DEC for 2015.  A delicious lunch provided by Shorty’s Catering is included and available from noon to 2:00 pm.

Members are welcome to set up a table or tack swap/sale. In addition, a demonstration on “Biomechanics of Balance Saddles” will be offered by Mary Bashtarz with “Riding by Design” at 1:30 pm.

Door prize drawings to win a free hoof trimming donated by Barbara Dixon or a one hour saddle consultation with Mary Bashtarz will be given away

The physical address of the headquarters tract for GPS purposes is 18074 Redden Forest Drive, Georgetown, DE.

Please RSVP no later than September 18th to Stan (302)684-3966 or Pam (240)994-2220 or to attend

Is It Time to Think about Renovating or Planting a New Pasture or Hay Field? Part 3: Planning to Planting

August 27, 2014 in Advice and Tips, Ask the Expert, General, Uncategorized

Lime truck making its way through a pasture gate

Lime truck making its way through a tight pasture gate

Part 3: After Testing and Before Planting

In Parts I and II, I covered testing the soil in the field in which you plan to establish a new pasture or plan to do a total renovation and species selection. Depending on how close you are to planting and whether you will be working the soil or planting using a no-till drill, it’s probably time to recheck soil pH and fertility levels in the field to be planted or renovated. The final soil test should be taken approximately 6 to 9 months after the earlier limestone application. This should be enough time for previously applied lime to react with both the active acidity (hydrogen ions in soil solution) and the reserve acidity (hydrogen and aluminum ions on the clay and organic matter cation exchange sites) and the soil pH to be reaching an equilibrium state. In this way if another smaller application of limestone is needed to move the soil pH slightly higher, the lime can be applied and worked in the soil, assuming some type of tillage for incorporation of the limestone. In no-till situations, the process of adjusting the soil pH takes much longer and should be started as much as two or three years in advance of seeding or renovation since lime moves downward through the soil at about one inch per year.

Now that the soil fertility requirements have been completed, it’s on to the planning and planting process. One of the biggest challenges these days, especially if you have a small number of acres in the field, is finding someone with equipment the right size to fit the field and a willingness to do the job in a timely fashion. Of course even if you’re lucky enough to find the equipment and operator, cost is going to be a critical factor when making the decisions of what parts of the plan are actually doable. Another factor that has become more of a challenge in recent years is the availability of forage seed of the selected species and variety. Many forage seed production fields have been converted to row crop production and in some locations restrictions on burning seed production fields have allowed disease issues such as ‘choke’ to reduce forage seed yield potential.

In planning the whole procedure, your time will be a valuable asset. With high prices, limited seed supplied, and challenges in finding equipment and help to fertilize, lime, control weeds, and plant seeds, the time you take to shop around should pay big benefits. July and August are the time to do these chores since the fall planting season is right around the corner.

For planting date, forage agronomists often list from mid-August through September as being the time to plant as long as soil moisture is adequate. Soil moisture for many hay producers and grazers in the state and region really will be at critically low levels for much of August. This can extend late into September due to the drought and hot weather conditions we usually experience during July and August. With all our pre-planning and planning activities, the final decision on when to plant and even whether to plant on time will be determined by the weather conditions during August and September. You may be tempted to plant as soon as the field receives the first rainfall in the planting window but you should keep in mind that if the deeper layers of soil are deficient in moisture the new planting will likely fail if fall turns dry. Use a shovel or your soil probe to test the soil for moisture at the 6 to 12 inch depth. If the field hasn’t received enough rainfall to supply this soil depth with at least some water, a new planting will be very much at risk if rain events do not continue from planting until winter dormancy takes hold. Only you know the amount of risk you are willing to take to establish the new seeding this season and none of us know what the future weather will be.

What if enough rain to supply water to the deeper soil layers doesn’t fall until very late in September? Certain species, such as low alkaloid reed canary grass, require a specific amount of time between planting and first frost (six weeks minimum for reed canary grass) but almost all species will not only yield less the following year but take a lot more time to reach full establishment if planted late. Again, the hay producer or grazer must evaluate the amount of risk they are willing to take on when deciding to plant after September.

You should maintain frequent contact with your fertilizer/lime dealer, seed dealer, equipment supplier, and others who will be helping you with the process of planting the new pasture or hay field. If you will be using equipment provided through the county conservation districts, be sure to get your name on the list as early as possible since many folks may want to seed about the same time when moisture conditions become favorable.

This article was submitted by Dr. Richard Taylor, Extension Agronomist, University of Delaware.  Dr. Taylor can be reached at



“Horse Sense” Youth Equine Farm Safety Course Now Available

August 20, 2014 in Educational Programs, Youth Corner

Equine Farm Safety Training: Improving Safety For Youth Working on Horse Farms. Expand your knowledge of horse safety practices by taking this free online course!

Have you ever worked on a horse farm or equine facility? Maybe you’ve dealt with a bad-mannered horse, or possibly know someone who has been injured while working with horses. Now you have an opportunity to learn how to be safe while working with horses at any equine facility.

Equine experts from Michigan State University’s My Horse University and eXtension HorseQuest are proud to offer a new course for youth called “Horse Sense” – Equine Farm Safety Training. This course is designed for youth who currently handle work with horses or desire to be involved with horses in the future.

The training program contains eleven short courses, which all include videos, links and activities, while providing important horse safety information. Students who complete each course will receive a certificate of completion.

These courses are self-paced and chocked full of videos, activities and interactive learning opportunities. The courses are free of charge and open to anyone interested in working with horses.

Equine Safety Courses Offered

Build your equine resume by completing any of the following courses (take just one or take all 11—you decide!):girl holding horse

  • Horse Behavior
  • Horse Handling
  • Horse Manners
  • Grooming
  • Horse Keeping – Daily Care and Management of Horses
  • Training & Exercising
  • Machine & Chemical Safety
  • Traveling with Horses
  • Biosecurity on Horse Farms
  • Horse Health
  • Employer/Employee Relations

Click on the button below to register and to get started!

Register Now


The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

HHYF Harness Racing Camp: An Intern’s Perspective

August 11, 2014 in Educational Programs, Events, Youth Corner


Harrington Raceway played host to an overnight youth harness racing camp at the end of June for youth ages 11-14.  This camp represents a partnership between the Harness Horse Youth Foundation (HHYF), Harrington Raceway and the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. The campers resided at Harrington Raceway for the duration of the camp and spent the majority of their time in the barn working directly with the Trottingbred racing ponies with the guidance of HHYF’s Executive Director, Ellen Taylor and extension staff. In addition, local, professional drivers were present on a daily basis to help guide and instruct campers on the racetrack.

This camp wasn’t just for kids with prior horse experience; it was open to anyone interested in harness racing or horses in general. Although some campers came with a family background in driving horses, others had little to no experience at all. Regardless of experience, every camper participated in and learned about the daily care of racehorses, equipment, harnessing, safety, careers, and even driving the horses on the front track at Harrington Raceway.

As a volunteer with no prior knowledge of harness racing, I came into this camp knowing less than some of these kids. Halfway through day one, I was in the stalls with the camDSC_0156pers showing them proper grooming techniques, how to harness their ponies and even how to braid, which seemed to be a new skill amongst the group. The campers formed groups on day one and rotated between the 7 ponies in the stable throughout the camp. Each day, the groups worked together to complete their daily routine of mucking stalls, grooming ponies, packing feet, harnessing and jogging.  The camp staff and volunteers allowed campers to learn from each other and to teach one another.

After barn activities concluded each day, campers and I took daily quizzes on what we had learned. Some evenings were spent going to dinner, or at a campfire, while others were spent at the racetrack. While at the track, campers had the opportunity to meet some behind the scenes people. Youth were able to go to the announcer’s booth where they listened to the announcer call a race and went next door to view and use the big camera used to broadcast the races. In addition, campers were permitted to go high above the track for a unique view from judge’s booth where they watched a live race and the replay. All campers received temporary Delaware Harness Racing Commission licenses, which allowed them access to the Thurman Adams paddock. An evening in the paddock spent riding in the starting car, water truck and track conditioner was a highlight for many campers.

Another great part of the camp was a trip to Winbak Farm in Chesapeake City, Maryland. Winbak is the industry’s largest single family owned and operated breeding farm. The staff, including head trainer Jeff Fout, took our group around the barns and taught us about training, breeding and the industry itself. Four lucky campers had the opportunity to jog a stallion with Fout at this facility as well.

The camp wouldn’t be complete without the guest speakers that came to speak with the group. Cory Callahan, a professional driver interacted with the campers, discussed driving, his career path and education, and answered any questions the kids had. Dr. Anne Renzetti, V.M.D. also spoke with the campers about health problems and injuries they might see on and off he track. Sandra Polk, a USTA idntifier, explained the freeze branding process and how she kees track of all the horses that participate in USTA events. Lastly, Wayne Truitt took the group through the paddock and explained his job as well as the job of other officials in the paddock, however, the campers seemed to be more interested in learning about all the different fines horses and drivers can receive!

This 5-day hand-on camp ended with campers partnering with professional drivers to race their ponies on the track at Harrington Raceway in between the betting races. The winners of each race had their picture taken in front of the winner’s circle in order to capture the full racing experience.







The Harness Horse Youth Foundation has been providing youth and their families educational opportunities with harness horses for almost 40 years.  They offer a variety of programs for youth and student groups of any size or interest level. If interested in learning more about the foundation or camps available, visit

Avoiding Heat Stress

August 11, 2014 in Advice and Tips

As summer temperatures continue to rise, make sure you are carefully monitoring your horse’s health. Horses can produce a significant amount of heat through digestion of feed and exercise. Heat production can increase up to 50 percent during exercise compared to a horse at rest. If the outside temperature is warmer than the horse’s body temperature, sweating becomes the main means for a horse to cool itself because blood shunting is not enough. A horse’s body reacts to high temperatures by shunting blood towards the skin surfaces to dissipate heat. However, when there is hot and humid weather, sweat produced cannot evaporate and the horse’s body cannot properly cool itself. As the amount of sweat increases, so does the imbalance of body fluids and electrolytes. This can lead to heat stress.

Heat stress can lead to increased sweating, muscle weakness, rapid breathing, and unusually high temperatures. Preventative measures should be in place any time the temperatures begin to rise. If exercise is necessary, make sure it occurs at a time when it is cooler such as early morning or late evening. After working your horse, cool it down slowly. Make sure to offer sips of cool water to the horse to prevent dehydration and walk the horse. If horses are permitted to stand for a prolonged period of time immediately following strenuous exercise, their muscles can stiffen and will not dissipate heat efficiently. Try to feed your horse 3-4 hours before exercise whenever possible because chewing and digesting feedstuffs can generate a large amount of body heat. If you suspect water loss in your horse, you can use the pinch test. When you pinch the skin on the neck or shoulder, the skin should quickly recoil, if not, your horse is most likely dehydrated.

Left untreated, heat exhaustion can rapidly proceed to heat stroke. Horses with heat stroke exhibit hyperthermia and nervous system dysfunction. Signs of heat stroke include weaving when moving, rearing, falling, unable to rise quickly, seizures, coma, and worst case, death. These horses become unaware of their surroundings and their skin becomes dry and warm. Complications such as laminitis, kidney or liver failure, colic, or respiratory issues are known to be in response to heat stroke.

Knowing these warning signs and prevention methods can help them avoid heat stress. And remember, you can always contact your veterinarian for advice or help if you need it.