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September 2016 Eblast
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Equine Council:

December 9th & 10th, 2016

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PEC members, Parks and Recreation officers and volunteers relocating a portion of the Black Gap Trail in Bald Eagle State Forest. The trail will be a shared use trail when it is complete.

Buying Hay: The Most Important Ingredient of the Horse’s Diet

Ann Swinker, Penn State University Extension

Hay is the most important part of the horse’s diet and makes up 50-100% of the horse’s diet. It is the best source of energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and, most importantly, fiber that is necessary for normal gut function in the horse. The quality of hay varies considerably between different loads of hay.

Hay is the bulk of the horse’s diet. Grass or alfalfa hay, or a combination of the two, are good sources of roughage. Grass hay is generally higher in fiber and dry matter than alfalfa, but alfalfa may be higher in protein, energy, vitamins and calcium. Hay can be long-stemmed in hay bales. Many horse owners feed grass hay or straight alfalfa or a combination of grass and alfalfa to their horses. Grasses commonly used as hay are brome, orchard, and timothy. — Long stem hay is the traditional baled hay. It is cut, cured, and baled. It can be bundled in 30- to 80-pound square bales or large, round or long square bales that can weigh tons. Horse hay needs to be of good quality.

Horse hay should be bright green, leafy and fine textured, with a fresh, pleasant aroma. Musty hay or other indications of mold or heating, and dust, weeds and other foreign material in hay can be unhealthy for an animal. Color is an indicator of quality and nutrient content; good hay is a bright green. Most nutrients in hay are in the leaves, and leafy hay is a valuable source of food. Leafiness is influenced by the kind of hay, its maturity when cut, the weather conditions while growing and curing the hay, and curing procedures of the hay. Dust is objectionable in any feed for horses. It not only reduces the taste of the hay, it also aggravates respiratory problems. Avoid feeding moldy or dusty hay. This type of hay is unacceptable for horses.

Quality of hay can be measured in terms of qualitative and quantitative characteristics. Qualitative characteristics are most often visual appraisals. Quantitative characteristics are actual chemical measures of various nutrients and other components influencing nutrient amount and digestibility.


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July 2016
PEC Trail Stewardship participants and PEC volunteers hard at work on Bald Eagle Black Gap Trail.

Time to Ride Challenge Now Open for Registration

We would encourage our members who Give Riding lessons to look into this program to see if it could help your business. Our PEC County Chapters and regular members may also want to share the following information with people they know who give lessons.
Stables, clubs and businesses nationwide are invited to compete for $100,000 cash and prizes by growing their business.

Sign up now to bring first-time horse experiences to people all over the United States through the Time to Ride Challenge.

Since 2014, the Challenge has introduced more than 60,000 people to horses through first-time horse experiences with the support and involvement of hundreds of stables, clubs and equine businesses nationwide.
The Challenge awards $100,000 cash and prizes to “hosts” offering the most unique experiences that attract the most people. Time to Ride events can take place June 1 through September 30. Register at to be a host.

Hosts plan engaging, hands-on horse events designed to connect families interested in horses to opportunities in their area such as riding lessons, camps and trail rides. By reaching a new segment of their community, businesses add to their own client base while supporting the entire horse industry.

“It’s critically important to the future of the horse community to focus on welcoming new participants,” said Patti Colbert, Time to Ride spokesperson. “The Challenge gives rewards and recognition to the hardworking horse professionals who are doing the valuable work of teaching new people the very basics and giving them a path to grow into lifelong equestrians. Without those riding instructors, summer camps and youth leaders who are teaching kids how to ride, where does our next generation of owners, competitors, and breeders come from?”

This year, cash prizes have been expanded to more than $75,000, including new incentives that will pay cash awards to more winners than ever before. For the first time, the first 100 hosts to introduce 100 newcomers to horses will automatically win $100 cash.

The Challenge offers marketing support and event ideas for participants, plus resources such as customizable ads, posters and other creative material. Registration is free and all types of businesses are welcome. The Challenge takes place between June 1 and September 30. Please visit for details.

The Challenge is a program of the American Horse Council’s Marketing Alliance, a group of industry-leading businesses and organizations collaborating to reinvigorate participation in horse activities for the benefit of the entire industry.

For more information on Time to Ride, visit .

The American Horse Council’s Marketing Alliance

Time to Ride is an initiative of the American Horse Council’s Marketing Alliance, formed to connect people with horses. It is designed to encourage horse-interested consumers to enjoy the benefits of horse activities. The AHC Marketing Alliance is made up of the following organizations: the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Active Interest Media, the American Quarter Horse Association, Dover Saddlery, Farnam, Merck, Merial, Morris Media Network Equine Group, Purina Animal Nutrition LLC, Platinum Performance, United States Equestrian Federation, and Zoetis. Program Partners are Absorbine, the American Paint Horse Association, Equibrand, the National Cutting Horse Association, the National Reining Horse Association, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, and the Texas A&M University Equine Initiative, I-5 Publishing, Pyranha, the America’s Mustang Campaign, and Colorado State University Equine Sciences Program.

About the American Horse Council

The American Horse Council is a non-profit organization that includes all segments of the horse industry. While its primary mission is to represent the industry before Congress and the federal regulatory agencies in Washington, D.C., it also undertakes national initiatives for the horse industry. Time to Ride, the AHC’s Marketing Alliance to connect horses and people, is such an effort. The American Horse Council hopes that Time to Ride will encourage people and businesses to participate in the industry, enjoy our horses, and support our equine activities and events. The AHC believes a healthy horse industry contributes to the health of Americans and America in many ways.

Gwen Wills

"Pete" was the star of the show at Ag Progress Days this year. Charlie Van Auken, PEC president, shared the appaloosa gelding with the public as a part of the Equine Learning Center. Kids and adults were able to get a hands on experience with the horses over the three day event. The Pennsylvania Equine Council volunteers greated horse enthusiasts and answered questions ranging from horse maintanence to legislative issues affecting horse activities.
Boarding Horses and the Law

Of note: According to the Pennsylvania Equine Industry Impact Study conducted in 2002, Pennsylvania had almost 220,000 horses. There were 31,000 horse boarding operations in the state, employing 20,300 people with a total payroll of $412.2 million.

Consider this...
You own a boarding stable and have a boarder who has not paid his bill. He has not been to the barn for three months and will not respond to your calls or notifications. The horse has literally been abandoned and you are in legal limbo as to what to do.
The unwanted horse problem has led to an increase in boarding stable owners caring for abandoned horses. So what is the answer? There is no easy one, but the first step is to have a boarding contract that lists all the responsibilities of the barn owner and the boarder, including the penalties for non compliance. However, even if the boarding contract states that unpaid board for a specified period of time will result in the horse becoming the property of the barn owner, there is still a legal process to be followed to take ownership and the assistance of an attorney and/or district justice is necessary.
Pennsylvania does have laws regarding this situation. One is found in the Uniform Commercial Code, specifically Title 13, of PA’s Consolidated Statutes. An agricultural lien is defined as: an interest in farm products: which secures payment or performance of an obligation for goods or services furnished in connection with a debtor's farming operation. Agricultural liens are referenced in Chapters 9315 and 9606. Even though this statute is not specific to horses, unpaid board bills are agricultural liens.
There is also an 1864 law that seems to be a more clarified fit to the problem. Act 965 of 1864, Section 1 states that after a bill remains unpaid for 30 days and after due notice in a newspaper and local posting, a person can sell property (Horses are property). Section 2 states that jf the owner’s place of residence is unknown, verified by affidavit, or if the property is of a perishable nature, a judge of the city or county may authorize the sale of such property. I think it can be argued that horses are of a perishable nature and very often the location of the owner is unknown. (The age of a law does not make it any less applicable and enforceable.)
Even with knowledge of the law, the process takes time while the horse or horses continue to need care. The board bill may exceed the value of the horse and a suitable home may be hard to find. It may seem ridiculous for stable owners to require, in addition to a boarding contract, credit ratings, references, etc from potential boarders, but it may save problems down the trail.

Linda Golden
PEC Legislative Chairman

Help clean up the trails.
Take a Chainsaw Safety course soon!
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Please see the details below about chainsaw safety courses. Trailwork volunteers who need to use a chainsaw to clear trails must attend the DCNR Chainsaw Safety course.

Buying Hay continued... return to beginning...

Qualitative (visual) measures:

Two primary factors that influence forage quality are nutrient concentration and nutrient digestibility. Both of these are heavily influenced by the stage of maturity of the forage plant. Most of the highly digestible nutrients in forages are present in the leafy part of the forage. Less digestible components are present in the stem. As a plant matures the stems thicken and the amount of leaves decrease. Therefore, the nutrient rich and highly digestible proportions of the plant decrease with age, while the less digestible and less nutrient rich part of the plant increase. The ratio of leaves to stems provides a simple visual measure of maturity that can be used to estimate digestibility and nutrient content when comparing different loads of hay. The degree of maturity can also be estimated by the appearance of the seed heads on grasses and flowers on legumes. When a plant becomes fully mature, its seed head/flower will be in full bloom. So you do not want hays with full seed heads.

These qualitative methods provide some estimate of maturity that is useful for making comparisons between different loads of hay. However, they do not provide any information regarding nutrient concentration. Therefore, the combination of visual and laboratory analysis will result in selecting hay that meets the nutrient needs of your horse. Qualitative measures may be used initially to narrow down what hay to buy. But quantitative (analysis) measures should be used to make your final decision.

Quantitative measures
The first step to having a hay sample analyzed by a forage testing lab (quantitative measure) is to obtain a representative sample. To properly sample hay, a core sampler should be used (figure 1). Core samplers can be purchased at most feed and farm supply stores. Several bales (10-20) should be sampled and then pooled for final analysis. The amount of forage sent to the laboratory for actual analysis is approximately one pound. It is important to choose a certified forage laboratory. Hay/forage testing labs can be found by calling your County Extension Offices. The cost for analysis is ranges from $18 to $40.00.

Hay sample analysis generally takes a few days. Most analyses include the following information: Dry Matter (DM) (percent DM = 100 - percent water), crude protein, minerals (calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, etc.), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF). Vitamins and some minerals (e.g. selenium) usually cost extra and must be requested in addition to the standard analysis. If you live in an area of low selenium soils, you should have the selenium content analyzed to detect and prevent possible problems. Safe limits for selenium is estimated at 2 ppm, and levels greater than 0.5 ppm can be toxic.

All of the analyzed items are nutritionally important, the key items to look for in forage quality are acid detergent fiber (ADF) and crude protein (CP). ADF is an indication of the cellulose and lignin content of forages. Cellulose is a structural carbohydrate present in forages that has very low digestibility in the horse. Lignin is an organic compound present in forages which is essentially indigestible. It also interferes with the digestion of other nutrients. Therefore, the higher the ADF level, the higher the cellulose and lignin content and the lower the digestibility of the forage. ADF can also be used in conjunction with crude protein (CP) to determine a digestible energy (DE) value. The CP content and DE value are very important pieces of information when buying hay because energy and protein are the two primary nutrients supplied by hay.

Some analyses may contain estimates of the energy concentration of the hay, which are listed as Total Digestible Energy (TDN), Digestible Energy (DE), Metabolizable Energy (ME) and Net Energy (NE). These values are generally intended for use with cattle and should not be used for horses unless specifically stated that they have been calculated for the horse. If no energy concentration is listed on the analysis, then it can be calculated using percent crude protein and percent ADF with the following equation:

DE (Mcal. /lb) = {4.22-0.11(%ADF)]+[0.03632(%CP)]+[0.00112(%ADF)2]}/2.2

The hay that you buy should meet your horse's requirements. Table 1 lists a range of crude protein and ADF values suitable for meeting the nutrient requirements of various classes of horses.

Therefore, when buying hay, look at nutrient content and digestibility of forages using both qualitative and quantitative techniques enables the horse owner to select the best value hay related to cost and nutrient requirements, thereby enhancing feeding efficiency.

Table 1. Crude protein, acid detergent fiber and neutral detergent fiber requirements for various feeding classes of horses (expressed on a 100% dry matter basis). Referenced form Paul Siciliano Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University.

Feeding class








Breeding Stallion












Growing Horse




For more information contact Penn State Equine Extension services.
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Pennsylvania Equine Council Post Office Box 303 Windsor, PA 17366-0303

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