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Tell me what I need to know about keeping a horse in the south

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  • Tell me what I need to know about keeping a horse in the south

    In about a week I am moving to SC and in 2 weeks, the princess will come down. I figured this would be a good time of year to make the transition since the summer heat is gone (though it is still much warmer down there, and I'm getting the feeling that I'll be clipping her...)

    I already know that its hotter. And that the bugs are bad. (bought a new fly sheet). I'm worried about her eating sand. I was worried about this anyway, then had a friend's horse colic. Now I'm extra worried. Should I get her started on something like sand clear as a preventative? What else do I need to know?
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

  • #2
    Once you acclimate to the South you will realize that we do too have winter. But its only about 8-10 weeks long, temps lower than the teens are rare, and its got a much greater proportion of bright sunny days than the Frozen North. I tell people who havent wintered here to think of the very nicest October weather they can think of--crisp, sunny, a little bite in the air, but no need for anything heavier than a sweatshirt to be comfortable outdoors---that is pretty much what winter in the South is like. So PRIMO horse weather.

    Summer can be like 4 or 5 Pittsburgh Julys in a row. The stinking hot weather where I am in GA starts around the middle of June, sometimes earlier, and typically persists well past Labor Day. Stinking hot, defined by me, is temps in the MID to UPPER nineties. Highs in the 80s and low 90s barely count as "hot" especially not after this very long hot summer.

    Things you need to know specific to horsekeeping--worming schedules are way different. Your horse might need to be vaccinated against West Nile twice a year, since mosquitos can persist through a mild winter. Shade is crucial for horses who are out 24/7, good air circulation/fans for stabled horses. You will be more likely to turn out at night and bring in for the day if you keep the horse in a stall.

    You will not want to schedule riding and horsey chores for midday from late May until late September. Depending on where you are, humidity could be very debilitating for you and the horse until you both acclimate. You have to stay on top of your horse's ability to sweat. If your horse doesnt like baths and being hosed down he's gonna learn to love them.

    My paddocks are extremely sandy and I dont feed anything special for sand colic, but they are not grazed extremely closely, either. At least one of my horses seems to eat dirt for pleasure and she's never had any problems, knock on wood.

    Sandy soil and the climate mean your horse will likely be eating warm-season grasses and Bermuda hay, which may be an adjustment and should be taken into consideration (bring hay from up North when you come if you can). Depending on where you are in SC, you might be able to get orchard grass hay. There is much debate about Coastal Bermuda causing impaction colic so some folks wont feed it. Again, this hasnt been a problem for my horses, but they are foraging in the pasture most of the winter and only get a couple of flakes supplemental hay daily during the winter.

    The sun is way stronger here. Your horse (and you) will be more susceptible to sunburn. There can be a thunderstorm literally ANY day of the year, so there is increased risk of lightning strikes. Ditto tornados, much worse than PA though not quite as bad as Tornado Alley. And again, depending on where you will be living, you might need a strategy in place for next hurricane season.

    Finally, what I've noticed is tack stores, horse vets, and farriers can be few and far between in the South unless of course you are moving to the Aiken area. Aiken is equestrian paradise. There arent too many places in SC that are further than a nice day trip to Aiken, so GO. (In fact, its a nice day trip for me, but I just HATE going thru Augusta to get there.)

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    • #3
      What she said. I'm in Alabama, and I vaccinate 2x per year for West Nile and Eastern,Western and Venezulean (I don't think I spelled that right) encephalitis. I feed the evil Coastal Bermuda hay, have for years with no problems. My horses have all been on 24/7 turnout for the most part, but have had times when they were on a dry lot with hay at all times.

      Welcome to the South.

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      • #4
        Yep, 2x per year for WNV and EEE/WEE. I make sure my horses eat plenty of hay, and one week each month they get a cup of psyllium and beet pulp added to their feed. And stay out of the sun in the summer, it truly can be dangerous in the heat down here. Beautiful scenery though!

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        • #5
          Where in SC? I live in Charleston now, and have had horses in Montana as well, so I've definitely seen both ends of the spectrum! I really don't think it's much different, horse-keeping wise. You'll get a kick out of some of the southerners that come to the barn dressed in a parka and are trying to blanket their horses in 60 degrees (yes, really!) It is sandy here, but I don't do sandclear, I don't do flysheets in summertime (I think it's too hot on the coast). Keep some flyspray on hand and you shouldn't have a problem. I am one of those anti-coastal bermuda hay people Jeano mentioned. It so commonly appears to be the reason for colic that I've had a vet specfically ask if he was fed coastal when my horse colicked recently. All in all though, it's really no different to adjust to summers here than it is to adjust to winter there.
          The best is yet to come

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            I am headed to Bluffton. My horse will be living on Hilton Head Island at a small private farm. She's retired and will just spend her time grazing. It will be small enough to bring in during days and keep out at night during the summer.

            Thanks for the info on the vaccinations. We only vaccinate once a year for west nile up here. She was vaccinated in April, so should I have a booster done again when I get down there or will I be safe waiting for spring?

            My family has been down there for years now, so I've been down in winter. For the last 2 weeks up here, I've said to myself "this is going to be my winter!!" and I can't wait. Bailey is 24 now and the winters have been rough on her arthritis the last few years, so I am sure she will be a happy girl too!
            Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

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            • #7
              OK well at the risk of offending Southerns, I'm a northerner violently uprooted and living in AL.
              The winters are wet and gross- but with several sunny days to make all the rain somewhat bearable- MUCH nicer to ride in the snow then the rain. Temps can be anwhere from 20 F to 50 or 60 F., so you need a few variations of blankets.
              Summers are unbearably hot, even when the sun goes down. Get use to sweating profusely.

              OK, I'm ready for the backlash.

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              • #8
                Awww Cruiser12, you just need a nice plate of grits and fried green tomatoes and you'll be all better lol!! I have to say though that if this winter is anything like last winter, and next summer is anything like this last summer, I'm gonna have to write a strongly worded letter!!! And I am going to demand a refund too!!

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                • #9
                  Yes, get her vaccinated again this fall! I do mine in Feb and Aug.
                  The best is yet to come

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I just moved south, and so far the biggest difference to me has been rain rot. Up in the Midwest no problems with it. Now I am always treating some part of his body for rain rot.
                    Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
                    www.thesaddlefits.com
                    Society of Master Saddlers trained saddle fitter

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Arab/WBGirl View Post
                      Awww Cruiser12, you just need a nice plate of grits and fried green tomatoes and you'll be all better lol!! I have to say though that if this winter is anything like last winter, and next summer is anything like this last summer, I'm gonna have to write a strongly worded letter!!! And I am going to demand a refund too!!

                      LOL! I don't do grits, but I do LOVE fried green tomatoes!
                      Let me know if you get a refund- and I'll write a letter too!
                      Thanks for the chuckle!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Have some boiled peanuts!! For rain rot I use apple cider vinegar. Sponge the vineagar on the rainrot or just use as a rinse to prevent it. I swear it works better than the expensive shampoo's and sprays. Be prepared summer start out hot and then becomes Oh my god I'm melting!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm also in Charleston. Be ready for rain rot (maybe not in your first year but your horse will get it at some point)... Micro-tek is your friend. Bugs year round pretty much, you may have to rotate fly sprays when one stops working. Right now I've found that Bug Block in the purple bottle works really well. I honestly wouldn't plan to use the fly sheet all summer... only when it gets cooler in fall and before it gets too hot in summer. They just stand there and sweat under them. Sunscreen for any white parts (really important for those white muzzles!).

                          While we don't have sub zero temps or snow... our cold is a damp cold and it will sink in and stay there, you may find it worse than the northern style cold. This confirmed by other northern transplants.

                          My horse is on omega horseshine which is a pysillium alternative, but before that he got Sandclear one week a month. My horse gets orchard grass/fescue hay mix. Ideally he'd be on timothy or atleast have a flake mixed into the other hay at feedings, but alas he goes out with others so it's not really an option. That said I spent 10 years feeding every horse I owned coastal and I never had issues.
                          Custom Painted Brushes: spcustombrushes@gmail.com
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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Well all it does up here in Pittsburgh is rain. Rain rot is a familiar part of horse ownership. I've got that one down. And I can promise I won't hate the winters more in the south than up here. In Pittsburgh the sky turns gray around... now. Can take a pic to prove it. And we don't see the sun again until May. It rains or snows or "wintery mixes" all week every week. I'm getting outta here!!
                            Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It's really not that big of a deal. Horsekeeping is horsekeeping. Talk to local vets about vaccination schedule. Tapeworms are very prevalent too, so you want to treat for those, I do 2x per year. Yes, it gets hot and humid in the summer -- where DOESN'T it get hot at some point? Things like bugs and sogginess depend on your property and management. At our farm, with grass kept mowed short, pastures dragged weekly and barn oriented with breeze, bugs are not a big issue. When it gets up to 95 or higher, horses stay in under fans during the day. Otherwise, they are out 24/7 and do just fine. Winter is awesome because I HATE SNOW!
                              Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                              Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                              We Are Flying Solo

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                              • #16
                                I am interested in this thread also.

                                I have been contemplating a move south for the past 2 years and have read and tried to learn everything I can since it is totally a new experience. I will be managing my own farm, as I do here, so that is also all new. New grasses, animals, etc.

                                Yes, do plan on 2x a year vac for vector diseases such as wnv and eee. If you haven't done it, I was told best to vac either a month before trip or a month after to allow their immune systems time to adjust.

                                I will not be feeding coastal hay. I just don't want to take the risk. When a vet tells me not to, I tend to listen regardless of how some horses do well on it. Obviously, their pasture will no longer be kentucky blue and other northern grasses, but southern grasses such as bermuda, etc. I may also plant rye in the fall, but want to be sure about sugars, etc. I have some serious hoovers who would graze on dead grasses as long as they were able to graze, sooo that might be interesting. Up here, the grass gets covered by snow, and end of grazing season. Down south, it will just die or go dormant I really should say. So, the annual rye is one way to keep grazing season extended, but I do worry about sugar and any other issues with winter rye...????

                                Be aware of anhydrosis...inability to sweat and precautions you need to take.

                                I will be feeding sand clear or metamucil or some such...forget what it is..once a month for a week(I think).

                                I also feed omega horseshine up north, which is good for sand too, plus I feed beet pulp in winter, so not sure I will in the south, and also I think there is anecdotal evidence of beet pulp and relationship to anhydrosis.

                                Deworming protocol...haven't got that one down yet, but would work closely with the vet and other horse owners to determine local deworming protocol.

                                I think my horse mgt will be very different. For example, more 24/7 turn out, airy barn, night time turn out in summer, fans and misters in run ins or stalls. Instead of focusing on keeping them warm, I will focus on keeping them cool.

                                I think this is the best time to move them...and wish you well.
                                I would love to hear your transitional experiences, either posted or pm.
                                Have fun.
                                save lives...spay/neuter/geld

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                                • #17
                                  I would booster your mare BEFORE she leaves to come down here. We are currently being swarmed by mosquitoes in every direction. Not something you want to take a chance on down here! You will be quite close to me, Hilton Head Island is about 35 minutes from me. It's really beautiful on HHI, and you may get SOME winds from the ocean during the summer, LOL!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I only vaccinate once a year for the encephalitises and WNV, on veterinary advice.
                                    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Well I considered vaccinating her again today (vet was out for an emergency) but she is really reactive to the west nile vaccination, so I want to talk to a vet some more first. We have to give her banamine and benadryl with each booster or she gets colicky. And there have been a few occasions that even that didn't save me from having the vet back out a few hours later... So before I hit her twice in a year, I want to do a little more research. She doesn't ship for another 3 weeks, so I'd still have time to booster before she leaves.
                                      Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

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                                      • #20
                                        what do you need to know? That you will hate very minute of it, except for jan, feb and march, when you see the pitt forecast on tv...lol
                                        "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
                                        carolprudm

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