CategoryHow-To Articles Archives - Ramm Fence Equestrian Blog

“Towing: Driving Tips for Adverse Conditions”

December 10th, 2015

Karen Elizabeth Baril and Debbie Disbrow teamed up to bring you this article.

RAMM Horse Fencing & Stalls

Winter Driving TipsWhile it’s always best to check the weather forecast before you travel with horses, sometimes driving in bad weather can’t be helped. A sudden storm crops up while we’re on the road, or we need to get a sick or injured horse to the clinic, or worse—we’ve been asked to evacuate. Depending on how well prepared we are for the challenge; it can be an exciting adventure story or a real disaster.

One of the first things a trucker learns in school is how to safely pack a load. It’s simple physics; heavy stuff down low on the bottom, light-weight things on top. Secure the load with ropes or harnesses to prevent objects from shifting which could mean loss of control of the vehicle. Hmm….you see the problem.

The unfortunate fact is that horses are built top-heavy and unless we load them upside down, we already have to break the first rule. Worse yet, horses are a dynamic, constantly moving load, impossible to fully secure. You now have a challenge that most professional truckers never have to face. Like all things in life; preparation is key.

Towing Horse Trailer in SnowDon’t Put the Horse Before the Cart

The most important action you can take is to know your rig’s capacity for towing. Even a small trip downhill is a challenge if the weight of the load exceeds the capacity of the tow vehicle. In that scenario, the load (the weight of your horses, trailer, and equipment) drives the vehicle, a very frightening and potentially dangerous event, especially if the roads are slick.

You already know that your truck has a maximum rate for towing, but this is also true of your hitch, ball, ball mount, and safety chain. Concentrating strictly on the truck is missing at least half of the equation. All hitches come with a class rating as well as a weight rating. For example, a Class 1 hitch has a 250lb tongue weight and generally speaking, a 2500lb.fully loaded weight or Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) limit. All bumper pulls must have a Class III or Class IV Hitch bolted or welded to the frame of the vehicle.

All hitches are not created equal despite the class rating. The total GTW of your hitch will depend on installation techniques and construction of the tow vehicle, not to mention the ball mount and safety chain. Get professional equine advice when in doubt. Don’t rely on your vehicle salesman to give you the right information.

Check your Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) on any highway vehicle scale just to be sure you are hauling within your limits. Make sure you weigh a full load, including horses, tack, hay, and equipment.

Pre-Flight Checks

Before you load up do some pre-flight checks, especially if your trailer has been sitting for a while. Look over your hitch and check the tire pressure on both your truck and trailer. Blow-outs are one of the most common causes of towing accidents and one of the easiest to avoid.

If you live in a cold-weather climate, invest in winter wipers (little rubber sleeves) to prevent ice from building on the blades, but take them off in the good weather. Winter wipers are heavy and tend to wear out the wiper motor. Check and replenish engine fluids, including wiper wash. Adjust your telescoping mirrors to avoid blind spots.

Remove all snow and ice from truck and trailer before venturing out on the roads. Pay attention to headlights, brake lights, indicator lights, and reflectors. Clear snow and ice from the windshield, but also from the roof. Ice that suddenly slides off the roof can cause an accident or spook your horses.

Driving Tips

When roads are slick, drive slower than the speed limits allow. Go easy on the brakes. Downshift to a lower gear when traveling up or down steep grades and never park on a grade in bad weather. Don’t feel pressured by other drivers. Ignore them. Your goal is to get your horses to their destination safely.

Turbulence from another passing vehicle may cause your bumper-pull to sway. To avoid sway, keep tension on the hitch. A trailer that begins to sway is heading towards disaster. Truckers call this “the tail wagging the dog”. If you feel your bumper-pull sway, keep your steering wheel steady and don’t use your truck brakes. Apply your hand brakes carefully; usually short bursts are most effective. This will slow the trailer behind you and help to stabilize the motion.

In a jackknife situation, the trailer brakes have locked up, causing the trailer to drive the vehicle. A jackknife is more likely to occur in bad weather, but can occur even in good weather at speeds as low as 5mph depending on the size of the load.

If you feel your trailer sway or feel the hand brake has locked up, don’t apply your truck brakes. Instead, you’ll want to drive forward, if possible, gaining enough speed to regain control of the vehicle and regain traction on the road. Using the hand brake is useless and using your truck brakes will make things worse. Sway bars help prevent jackknifing and are a must, but even the sway bars are not a guarantee against a jackknife. Knowing what to do when it happens is critical.

Hydroplaning occurs when the tread on your tires cannot channel water away from the tire fast enough to create traction. This lifts the tire off the surface of the road and all traction is lost. In a hydroplane, remove your foot from the accelerator slowly. Don’t touch the brakes. Avoid all fast moves. Prevent hydroplaning by making sure your tires are in good condition and by driving slow on wet roads. Driving in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you helps as well, as some of the water will already be displaced.

Winter driving does present special challenges, but learning how to drive defensively will help you and your precious cargo arrive at your destination safely.

 

debbie newsletter imageDebbie Disbrow, owner of RAMM Stalls and Horse Fencing, has over 45 years experience with horses and equine-related businesses. She is a certified fence installer and has helped build fencing and stalls for horse facility owners across the USA as well as into Europe. Debbie is highly involved in horse ownership and riding. Visit her web site at www.rammfence.com,, or call 1-800-878-5644 for safer alternatives for your horses.

20 Great Tips to Help You Out with First Time Horse Riders

May 1st, 2014

 


20 Tips For First-Time Horse Riders

horse riding I wrote this article some time ago – but it is always important information to keep in mind when working with first-time riders…

Many people know that I have had horses for years. And like me, I’m sure you get frequent requests from people who want to ride your horses. Does this sound familiar? “My children love horses, they have always wanted to ride a pony!” Or, “I used to ride horses (at summer camp), I know all about them, could I ride yours some time?” The automatic answer is “Sure, just let me know when!” But afterward, we realize that this is not just a “ride”.

 Tip 1: Any first-time rider should have instruction before they take their first ride. This takes extra time on your part, but it is a very necessary step. If not, it could be dangerous for them, as well as you.

I talk to numerous people, and many times the subject of horses comes up. About 90% of one-time riders tell me the same story. “Yes, I rode a horse, got bucked off and that was the last time I will ever get near a horse.” The accounts amaze me; horse bites, riding run-away horses, saddles that fall off, getting kicked, and all because the horse owner did not give any instruction beforehand. I try to explain that if they would have known a few simple things before they got on the horse, they truly could have had a wonderful experience. Most people shrug and say ”never again.” With a little instruction, we can help put a stop to these incidents and make first time rides safe and enjoyable.

Before a rider ever gets near the horse, we need to explain some key points. Riders of any age should know that you will be assisting them, and they must listen to what you tell them for their safety.

One of the first steps we can take to help ensure a great experience is with attire.

Tip 2: Proper helmets should be worn, as well as a protective boot or heavy shoe with a heel. Flat-soled shoes increase the risk of the foot slipping through a stirrup and getting caught-up.

Tip 3: If you have protective vests, use them also.

Tip 4: During the warmer months, let parents know that long pants are the best attire. Although shorts may keep their child cooler, a pair of jeans will be much more comfortable than a child’s bare legs rubbing against the leather of a saddle.

Some other basic instructions should include:
 

Tip 5:  How to touch the horse by gently petting, not patting, with easy movements. Explain that horses can spook with fast movements.

 
Tip 6:  Voices need to be kept at indoor levels for smaller children, not outside voices.

Tip 7:  Explain how to walk around a horse at least 2 arm-lengths away from the horse’s haunches and tail. If younger children are involved, walk with them explaining how far this distance is.

Tip 8:  Talk about walking around the front of the horse, touching him as you go, and talking to the horse.

 
Tip 9:  Small hands, as well as adult hands, automatically reach to the horse’s head and mouth. Show new riders how to hold their hands. If you allow people to feed your horses treats, show your guest how to hold their hand flat and feed with their palm instead of their fingers.

Tip 10:  Explain that you stand on the left side of the horse to hold, lead and saddle-up.

Tip 11: Show how to lead properly by having slack in the lead rope and allowing the horse to carry his head at a natural level.
 

Tip 12:  The lead rope should NEVER be wrapped around a hand or arm. If smaller children have a hard time with a long lead rope, find them a shorter one or help them hold the horse.

Tip 13: . Demonstrate how to brush the horse, with a curry-comb first and a brush second. Show them how to follow the direction of the horse’s hair. Also, explain the “ticklish spots” and areas where gentle brushing needs to be done.

Tip 14: New riders should never ride a horse that is not a calm packer. If older (or younger) riders ask to ride a horse because they like the way it looks, but the horse is too spirited, tell them “no”. It is better to have a bit of disappointment than the consequence of an accident.

Tip 15: Once you have groomed and saddled the horse, be sure to use a lead rope or a lounge line with the horse. The best scenario would be to have a small paddock or round pen to ride in, in addition to using the lead rope or lounge line. This will give the new rider a sense of security, helping them to relax.

Don’t forget how it feels to ride for the very first time. It seems very high from the ground, unbalanced, almost like you could fall. It feels like you’ve lost control, and there isn’t much to hang on to! Take these thoughts into consideration and you’ll realize that a short, well-guided ride is better than a long, unsupervised experience.

Tip 16: Due to liability issues, be sure your insurance will cover any mishaps. It is an issue that most of us feel will never come up, but many accidents can turn into more than ever expected.

Tip17: Be sure all young riders under 18 have parents present with consent to let their child ride. Be sure all older riders understand that accidents can happen, and they are not going to hold you liable.

Tip 18: Contact your insurance company, the experts in this area, and get their advice before you let friends ride. It’s worth it.

Tip 19: Additionally, check the equine liability laws in your state. Some states require that signs be posted throughout a facility, while others require signed waivers. Some require both. Make sure that you follow whatever your state requires so that you, your horses and all riders and spectators are protected.

Tip 20: Give the gift of kindness when you think about allowing someone to ride your horses. Be sure it’s a safe, informative, and fun experience. After all, we all have our passion because we truly enjoyed a horse ride-way back when. Pass it on!

Copyright 2010 Ramm Fence Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Pro-Tek Electric Tape Fence—not your average electric fence

April 22nd, 2013

By : Karen Elizabeth Baril

Pro-Tek Electric Tape Fence—not your average electric fence

Take heart everyone! Spring is in the air. The bluebirds are back at the nesting boxes and the snowdrops and crocus are popping their tiny faces through the snow. Of course, as horse owners, we mark the coming of spring in non-traditional ways—like when we realize our jackets are covered in horse hair and the horses are, well—shall we say—a little fractious.

Speaking of fractious horses, spring is a good time to do a little fence maintenance or install new fencing. If you’re considering electric fencing, either as a stand-alone fence or as an effective way to reinforce solid fences, be sure to check out our Pro-Tek Electric Tape Fencing. Like all of our products here at RAMM, Pro-Tek Electric Fencing has been thoroughly field-tested. By our latest estimates, Pro-Tek has fenced in over 1,000,000 horses over the last 20 years. That’s a lot of happy customers. Why is it so popular?

If you think about it, quality electric fencing should be safe, durable, easy to install, and offer the same conductivity ten years from now as it does on the day you install it. Sounds simple, right? We thought so, too—but several years ago, we invested a lot of time and money into an electric fence system that lost its charge in just a few seasons. We did all the right things—installed the fence according to directions, kept the perimeter free of debris, and even bought a bigger and better charger, but all to no avail. Nothing would bring that charge back.

That’s when we did a little research and discovered a good reason for our fence ‘failure’.

Most electric fence manufacturers use copper wire to conduct the electricity. While it’s true that copper boasts superior conductivity, (over stainless steel) it oxidizes fast and because it’s a fairly soft metal, it stretches. As it stretches, the diameter of the wire decreases, reducing its ability to conduct electricity. In fact, copper begins to lose its charge on the day you install it.

Pro-Tek Electric Tape Fencing is different—it’s manufactured with stainless steel wire. Right out of the gate we knew we had a better product. Stainless steel wire does not lose conductivity so we’d have the same charge ten years from now as we have on the day we install it. Better yet, it’s strong enough to keep our horses in, but still forgiving enough to avoid injury should a horse do the inevitable—test the fence.

Let’s take a look at fence buying basics:

 

Electric horse fencing needs to:

  • Provide a physical barrier.
  • Provide a psychological barrier.
  • Be strong, but safe with appropriate break strength for horses. The question is not “if”, but “when your horse will test the fence. With that in mind, you need a fence that is strong enough to be safe, but is still forgiving if he gets caught up in it.
  • Be easy to install and maintain.
  • Provide an attractive addition to the farm.

 

So we did the research and discovered many of the products sold in the local feed and supply stores aren’t built to last for more than a few years at best. That’s frustrating, but fortunately, we have a better choice.

Pro-Tek Electric Tape Fencing offers:

  •  15 strands of 12 mil stainless steel wire (the widest diameter steel wire on the market for the highest conductivity) and 33 strands of 20 mil UV stabilized polyethylene monofilament for durability and long-lasting beauty.
  • 750 lb. break strength. That’s strong, but forgiving. Pro-Tek offers superior strength, but is still forgiving of those inevitable horse mistakes. With unique hardware built to swivel and break before the tape, making repairs is fairly easy.
  • Physical and psychological barrier. We like to say that Pro-Tek treats a horse like horses treat each other. The bite of electric is easily understood by most horses; it’s similar to a nip or bite from the alpha herd member. The 1.5” width provides the other half of the equation—the psychological barrier. Horses respect the Pro-Tek fence.
  • Durability. Ultra-violet (UV) protection against the sun’s damaging rays and the use of stainless steel wire give Pro-Tek its superior longevity. We back it with a 20-year limited manufacturer’s warranty on our 1.5” tape.
  • Ease of installation. We like to say that if you can use a hammer and nail, you can install our Pro-Tek Electric Tape fencing. Purchase in rolls of 330’, 660’, or 1320’ rolls.
  • Traditional beauty. Pro-Tek offers an aesthetic beauty comparable to traditional wood or vinyl fencing. Your choice of colors include white, black, or brown.
  • Variable use. Use as stand-alone fencing or to reinforce wood or vinyl fencing.
  • Cost savings. Pro-Tek is a less expensive alternative to wood, vinyl, or mesh.

Let’s face it, we’re not ranchers—we’re horse owners. Most of us have full time jobs away from the farm. We need products to work as well ten years from now as they do on the day we install them. With its combination of strength, effectiveness, beauty, and durability, Pro-Tek Electric Tape Fencing offers greater value to the horse owner. It’s the smart choice. Best of all, it’s made right here in America.

Check out Pro-Tek Electric Fence Tape on our website at www.rammfence.com and be sure to give us a call at 1-800-434-8456.

Debbie Disbrow and freelance writer Karen Baril (www.karenbaril.com” ) have teamed up to write this article. If you have any comments, questions or ideas, we welcome them. Email us debbie@rammfence.com.

 

 

Heated and Insulated Buckets – Take the Cold out of Winter

January 10th, 2013

For those of us that live in cold weather climates, dealing with ice in the barn is no fun. We have to chip away at ice laden buckets that can lead to cold water splashing in our faces, twice a day –  that is the worst kind of cold!  I did this for years, until we discovered how much insulated or heated buckets helped us and our horses through the cold and freezing winter months!

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Choosing between insulated or heated buckets depends on weather you have electricity in your barn or if you would rather use insulated buckets that do not require electricity.  With either choice, you will be providing your horses with needed water in the winter that is crucial to their good health.  And you cut back on the cold and daunting daily work load.

Heated flat backed water buckets require a 3 pronged  GFI 110 volt outlet.  Your bucket can hang on the wall with a secure ‘pail safe’ hanger or a 5-gallon bucket holder. Both of these options help to keep your heated bucket on the wall rather than becoming a ‘toy’ for your horses to play with if they become board. While the cord is wrapped in a wire coil, its best to run it through your stall directly to the power source.  If you are concerned about horses ‘playing’ with the cord, one idea is to cut PVC pipe in half and secure it over the cord to the outside of your stall.

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Heated buckets turn on and off at 40 degrees keeping electricity costs down.  Your horses water will not freeze – giving them the water that they need to keep them warm and hydrated.  I like to be sure to empty and fill my horses buckets twice a day in the winter.  With the heated buckets, I simply pour the small amount of water into another bucket and then clean or just fill them.  This way I can see how much my horses are drinking and keep the buckets clean of hay and debris.

Heated buckets come in a 5 gallon size, great for stalls, or a 16 gallon size that can be used outdoors, for more than one horse or for small animals like dogs, sheep, goats or reindeer (: We have 2 reindeer at the RAMM farm and the 16 gallon bucket works great for them).

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Insulated buckets keep water from freezing, however, you must change the water twice a day to keep buckets completely ice free.  Floaters that sit on top of the water further help to keep ice from forming.  These buckets come with a wall mount holds the buckets securely to the wall. The bucket can be pulled directly out of the holder and easily emptied – no more ice!

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When you need a way to keep water buckets from freezing in your barn – be it for your horses or small animals – I know you will love the benefits of a heated or insulated bucket in your barn. I have been using them for years now and would not go through a cold winter without them!

What do you do to keep your water ‘frost free’ in the winter?