Säsongsväxling-Färgväxling/Seasons changing-Colors changing

Please scroll down to read the post in English…

Vintern har inte varit varken särskilt lång eller kall, men ändå är det precis lika härligt att se ljuset återvända och känna solen värma. Vi har passerat vårdagjämningen och dagsljuset ökar i en rasande takt mot midsommar. Det är nästan så man känner sig lite stressad över all den nya energin men mest av allt är det  bara underbart att känna värmen och ljuset. Hästarna njuter också, från köksfönstret ser vi ofta Skata, Napoleona och Nacona ligga och sova i solen i deras lilla hage. Tiden med dagsmeja, dvs när det är snösmältning trots att temperaturen inte överstiger noll är sedan länge över men i den stora hagen går vår egen Dagsmeja kvar och visar tydliga vårtecken.

Napoleona, Skata and Nacona enjoy the sun

Napoleona, Skata and Nacona enjoy the sun

Våra konstantskimlar har jag förut beskrivit som något färglösa, men skiftar nyans gör de mer än de flesta andra och Dagsmeja är inget undantag. Konstantskimlar finns även hos islandshästen och det isländska namnet för färgen har följt med till Sverige och inom islandsvärlden kallas färgen oftast färgväxlare. En lite mer passande benämning tycker jag. För i vintras var Dagsmeja i det närmaste vinröd i färgen men på bara någon vecka har detta växlat till ljust grå med lite bruna skiftningar. Det är den ljusa underullen som släpper och kommer fram och man blir nästan lika bländad som av de ljusa dagarna, men hur så mycket ljust har kunnat gömma sig bakom de mörkare håren är fortfarande ett mysterium för mig. Precis som att det är lite svårt att hänga med i svängarna med den växlande årstiden.

Frideborg to the left and nearly all grey Dagsmeja to the right.

Frideborg to the left and nearly all grey Dagsmeja to the right.

Dagsmeja verkar däremot inte ha några problem att hänga med. Hon bara ställer sig med bredsidan mot solen och njuter av värmen. Med sin nya, ljusare hårrem kommer hon inte absorbera riktigt lika mycket värme som med den mörka vinterpälsen, men kanske är det bättre så. Kanske är det en anpassning så hon inte blir lika överväldigad som jag själv. Till sommaren kommer hennes färg skifta lite till men mot det något mörkare hållet igen även om hon kommer vara betydligt ljusare än vintertid. Det kan verka märkligt att färgen skiftar så mycket men vid närmare eftertanke så verkar det inte så konstigt ändå.

Frideborg and Dagsmeja know what to do with a sunny day.

Frideborg and Dagsmeja know what to do with a sunny day.

Nokota®hästarnas hemstat North Dakota är känt för sitt extrema inlandsklimat, med sträng vinterkyla och böljande sommarhetta. Vad passar då bättre än att vintertid klä sig i mörka färger som bättre absorberar solvärmen och sommartid i ljusa färger som istället reflekterar den överflödiga värmen. Nokota®hästarna var redan under sin tid i Theodore Roosevelt National Park kända för att vara övervägande färgväxlare och även bland 1800-talets Lakotafolk föredrogs färgväxlande hästar. Kanske var det ingen slump.

Winter days and their dark coats are long gone.

Winter days and their dark coats are long gone.

Läs gärna mer om Dagsmeja på hennes egen sida som nu har blivit uppdaterad.

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Winter hasn’t been either very long or cold, but still it is just as nice to see the light return and feel the warmth of the sun. We have passed spring equinox and the day light is increasing at full speed toward midsummer. One almost feels stressed about all the new energy but most of all it is just wonderful to feel the warmth and light. The horses are also enjoying it, from our kitchen window we often see Skata, Napoleona and Nacona sleeping in their sunny corall. The period of what we in Sweden call ‘dagsmeja’, i.e. days when the snow is melting even if the temperature still isn’t above freezig is passed since long already but out in the pasture our own Dagsmeja is still left and is showing clear signs of spring.

On the bog the cramberries reappear from under the snow, still perfectly edible and now very tasty.

On the bog the cranberries reappear from under the snow, still perfectly edible and now very tasty.

I have earlier described our roans as somewhat colorless, but change their shade they do more than most and Dagsmeja is no exception. Roans also exist among Islandic horses and the Islandic name for the color has been brought over to Sweden where within the Islandic horse circuit the color is often called ‘color shifter’. A well describing name I think, especially in comparison with the Swedish name that would be translated to ‘constant grey’ which doesn’t sound at all like what a roan looks like. For last winter Dagsmeja was nearly all a rich burgundy brown color but over just a week or two that has shifted to a light grey with just a light hue of brown. It is the light colored under coat that sheds and comes up to the surface and nearly blind a person like the light days, but how so much light has been able to hide the whole winter is still a mystery to me. Just like I have a bit of problems keeping pace with the changing seasons.

An over night April snow called for a morning beautifully hazy like the roan spring coat.

An over night April snow called for a morning, hazy like the roan spring coat.

I have earlier described our roans as somewhat colorless, but change their shade they do more than most and Dagsmeja is no exemption. Roans also exist among Islandic horses and the Islandic name for the color has been brought over to Sweden where within the Islandic horse circuit the color is often called ‘color shifter’. A well describing name I think, especially in comparison with the Swedish name that would be translated to ‘constant grey’ which doesn’t sound at all like what a roan looks like. For last winter Dagsmeja was nearly all a rich burgundy brown color but over just a week or two that has shifted to a light grey with just a light hue of brown. It is the light colored under coat that sheds and comes up to the surface and nearly blind a person like the light days, but how so much light has been able to hide the whole winter is still a mystery to me. Just like a have a bit of problems keeping pace with the changning seasons.

Dagsmeja in her summer coat. Photo: Ronja Hillman.

Dagsmeja in her summer coat. Photo: Ronja Hillman.

Dagsmeja on the other hand doesn’t seem to have any problems to keep up. She just stands herself, broad side towards sun, and enjoys the warmth. With her new, lighter coat she will not absorb quite as much heat as with the dark winter coat. Perhaps it is better that way. Perhaps that is an adaptation so she will not become as overwhelmed as I. Before summer her color will shift yet again, this time to a darker shade although she will be notedly lighter than during winter. It may seem strange that the roans’ color change so much but at a closer look maybe it isn’t so strange after all.

A dark coat is helpful for soaking up the warmth of sun on a cold North Dakota morning.

A dark coat feels good on a North Dakota morning like this.

The Nokota® horses’ home state North Dakota is known for it’s extreme continental climate, with bitter winter cold and scorching summer heat. What better then to winter time dress in dark colors that absorb what warmth the sun gives and to summer time dress in light colors that instead better reflect excess heat. The Nokota® horses were already during their time in Theodore Roosevelt National Park known to be predominantly roans and also among the Lakota people of the 19th century roans were very much appreciated. Perhaps that was no coincidence.

Read more about Dagsmeja on her own page which has now been updated.

 

 

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Scout

Please scroll down to read the post in English…

Under ett par års tid förde mitt friluftsintresse mig en gång i veckan till den lokala scoutavdelningen. Liksom så många andra barn och ungdomar världen över fick jag på scouterna lära mig allehanda nyttiga överlevnadsknep och, framför allt, att arbeta och utvecklas i lag. Scoutrörelsen bildades i 1906 av den brittiske löjtnanten Robert Baden-Powell som ett sätt att aktivera landets ungdomar. Ordet scout hade Baden-Powell med sig från det militära där scouten, eller på svenska, spejaren, var soldaten som skickades bortom de egna gränserna för att aktivt samla information om fienden, rekognosera. Scouter har förmodligen funnits i alla tider och spelade en stor roll även på den nordamerikanska kontinenten där de amerikanska indianernas överlägsenhet sågs redan av de första européerna på kontinenten. “Indianspejare” blev vanliga i européernas tjänst med en topp i och med den amerikanska arméns värvningskampanj 1866. Den siste US Army Indian Scouten gick i pension 1947.

US Army soldiers and Scouts observe tracks before the Battle of Big Dry Wash in 1882.

US Army soldiers and Scouts observe tracks before the Battle of Big Dry Wash in 1882.

Ett år kolliderade dock mina scoutträffar med mina sköthästdagar och scouterna fick ge vika för stallet. Med tiden insåg jag dock att jag ändå skulle vara i kontakt med scouter. För även i hästarnas värld finns det individer som håller extra utkik och som vågar ta sig från flocken för att söka efter nya resurser såsom bete. I vår flock är Frideborg en typisk scout. Har hästarna fått mat på något nytt ställe är det oftast hon som uppmärksammat det och leder dit resten. Häromveckan blev de alla flyttade till sommarhagen över en dag då vi lät avverka lite skog i vinterhagen och istället för att stå och hänga vid grinden och kring höhögarna, så såg vi plötsligt att några av dem hade pulsat ett par hundra meter uppför det snötäckta berget och en av dem var naturligtvis Frideborg. Hon är också en av de första att komma fram och hälsa i hagen och vill alltid följa med på upptäcktsfärd. När hon är ute och går är hon alltid mycket uppmärksam på omgivningen och spår längs vägen, de senare vill hon helst stanna och lukta på.

An inquisitive Frideborg as a foal on the North Dakota prairie.

An inquisitive Frideborg as a foal on the prairie.

Läs mer om Frideborg på hennes egen sida som nu har blivit uppdaterad.

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For a couple years in my youth my interest for the outdoors brought me to the local Scouts. Like so many other kids and youth around the world I got to learn some good survival tricks and most importantly, to work and grow in a team. The Scouting movement was founded back in 1906 by the British lieutenant-general Robert Baden-Powell as a way of activating the British youth. The word “Scout” Baden-Powell had brought from the military where the scout was the soldier who was sent beyond the own boundaries to actively collect information about the enemy, reconnaissance. Scouts have probably excisted in all times and played a large role also in North America where the American Indians’ superiority was noticed already by the first Europeans on the continent. Hired “Indian Scouts” became common within European groups in America and peaked with the American Army’s recruitment tour in 1866. The last US Army Scout retired in 1947.

Nokota Horse Conservancy stallion Hail Chief is on the guard and has noticed me from way afar.

NHC stallion Hail Chief scouts the terrain and has noticed me from way afar.

One year however, my scouting collided with my barn days and the scouts had to give for the horses. But with time I realized that I would be in contact with scouts anyway. For also in the world of horses there are individuals who keep an extra eye on the surroundings and who dare to leave the group to search for new resources, such as grazing lands. In our group, Frideborg is the typical scout. Have the horses been fed in a new spot, she is the one who has seen it and lead the others there. The other week we moved the horses to the summer pasture for a day since we had people come in and cut some forest down in the winter pasture and instead of standing around by the gate and the hay piles, we suddenly saw that some of them had made it through the deep snow a couple hundred meters up the mountain. One of them was naturally Frideborg. She is also one of the first to come up and say hello in the pasture and always ready to go out and explore and while out she is always observant on the surroundings and will sniff any odd track along the road.

Read more about Frideborg on her own page, which has now been updated.

Stallion Medicine Fox has noticed a new group of horses in the area and is headed out to gather some information.

Stallion Medicine Fox has noticed a new group of horses in the area and is headed out to gather some information.

Vintersolstånd/Winter Solstice

Det är dygnet på året då natten är som allra längst och vi har nått ungefär halvvägs genom den två månaders period av dunkel då gårdscentrum på Djuptodal ligger i Djuptobergets skugga. I vanliga fall brukar december lysas upp av ett mjukt snötäcke, men i år låter vintern vänta på sig och det är mörkt utöver det vanliga. Men vi bor ju inte riktigt så långt norrut att det är latituden som hindrar solstrålarna utan bara man tar sig till någon södersluttning som kan hittas några hundra meter från huset så hittar man snart solen. “Solsemester” brukar jag kalla det och aldrig känns väl solens strålar så bländande som när man varit utan i dagar, ja, kanske veckor.

Direkt vi når över bergets skugga vänder vi oss mot den klara solen. Immediately we reach above the mountain's shadow we turn toward the bright sun.

Direkt vi når över bergets skugga vänder vi oss mot den klara solen.
Immediately we reach above the mountain’s shadow we turn toward the bright sun.

Vad passar då bättre än att ta med sig en Nokota® på solsemestern och njuta av solstrålarnas reflektion i en skimrande päls? Liksom vintern så här långt, så går våra hästars färger i lite av en gråskala. Precis som i Lakotahövdingen Sitting Bulls beskrivning av sin fars stora hästhjord, så finner man bland våra hästar framför allt olika varianter av avblekbar skimmel och konstantskimmel. Vid en första anblick kan vår lilla hjord därmed te sig något färglös, om man nu ens upptäcker den mot årstidens grådaskiga bakgrund, men vid en närmare titt hittar man varma färger som påminner om sommarens strålande dagar.

Inte så mycket färg. Eller beror det på vilken vinkel man ser ur? Not too much color. Or is that a matter of perspective?

Inte så mycket färg. Eller beror det på vilken vinkel man ser ur?
Not too much color. Or is that a matter of perspective?

En ljus rödskimmels rosa ton framkallar en förnimmelse av solmogna jordgubbar i mjölk, en avblekbar skimmels dramatiska grå nyanser minner om mäktiga åskväder, eller en pangarégen på en svartskimmels mule som får mig att känna den jordiga doften från den djupa skogstjärnens mörka vatten. Med mig på min solsemester tar jag Red Nacona, en mörkare fuxskimmel vars hårrem glänser som koppar i solstrålarna och värmer mig ända in i märgen. Även Red Nacona gillar dagens utflykt. När vi nått över bergets skugga stannar hon till och vänder sig mot solen i full vetskap om min beundran över hennes glans.

Rödskimmelns mjukrosa päls får mig att tänka på söta sommardesserter. The strawberry roans soft pink coat makes me think of sweet summer desserts.

Rödskimmelns mjukrosa päls får mig att tänka på söta sommardesserter.
The strawberry roans soft pink coat makes me think of sweet summer desserts.

Läs gärna mer om Red Nacona på hennes egen sida, som nu är uppdaterad.

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It’s the day of the year when the night hours are at their longest and we have made it half-ways through the two month long period of darkness when the Djuptodal farm yard lay in the shadow of Mount Djupto. Usually December is at least lit up by a soft snow cover, but this year winter is late and it is unusually dark. But we don’t live quite so far north that it is the latitude that prevents the sun from reaching us and if we only go a few hundred yards from the house and find a southern aspect, we will also find sun. “Sun trip” I like to call it and never has the sun beams felt so strong as when one has been without for days, perhaps weeks.

Som den djupa skogstjärnen en trolsk sommarnatt. Like the deep woodland lake on a bewitching summer night.

Som den djupa skogstjärnen en trolsk sommarnatt.
Like the deep woodland lake on a magical summer night.

What better then, than bringing a Nokota® on the sun trip and enjoy the sun’s reflection in a shimmering coat? Although, just like winter so far, our horses’ colors are of somewhat of a grey scale. Just like how Lakota chief Sitting Bull describes his father’s great herd of horses, our own herd can be described as primarily shades of grey and roan. Therefor our herd can at first sight seem a little colorless, if one can even find it against this season’s grey and gloomy background, but a closer look will reveal colors that remind of summer’s bright days.

Dramatiska sommarskyar över Kuntz Ranch. Dramatic summer skies over the Kuntz ranch.

Dramatiska sommarskyar över Kuntz Ranch.
Dramatic summer skies over the Kuntz ranch.

A light strawberry roan’s pink shade induces a perception of sun ripe strawberries in milk, a blue grey’s dramatic nuances remind of tremendous thunder storms, or a pangaré gene on a blue roan’s muzzle that make me smell the earthy scent of the deep woodland lake’s dark waters. With me on the sun trip I bring Red Nacona, a chestnut roan of a smutty tone whose coat glare like copper in the sun and warms me all through the bone. Also Red Nacona likes today’s excursion. When we reach above the shadow of the mountain she stops and turns to the sun, fully aware of my awe over her glory.

Med en sällsam glöd skiner Red Nacona ikapp med solen. With extraordinary glow Red Nacona shines with the sun.

Med en sällsam glöd skiner Red Nacona ikapp med solen.
With extraordinary glow Red Nacona shines with the sun.

Read more about Red Nacona on her own page that has now been updated.

Takt/Rhythm

Som grundsteg på den tyska dressyrens utbildningsskala hittar man takt, vilket innebär renheten och regelbundenheten i hästens gångarter. Takt hänger ihop med balans och mycket mer än så vet jag inte om skalan men jag vet att hästarna vi har här ute i hagen är goda exempel på både takt och balans. Våra Nokota®hästar är förvisso nog inte vad en dressyrbiten person först skulle definiera som takt och balans men för att kunna leva ett framgångsrikt liv i den starkt kuperade terrängen i North Dakotas Bad Lands är det ett måste med god takt och balans och genom generationena har detta renodlats till en medfödd egenskap hos rasen. Det är också anledningen till att familjen Kuntz först fastnade för hästarna. Familjen sysslade med “Great American Horse Race”, snabba kapplöpningar genom svår terräng, som inte helt utan anledning gick under öknamnet “Suicide Race”. Med de egna ranchhästarna kände de att löpen innebar för mycket risker för både ryttare och hästars, men med hästarna från Theodore Roosevelt National Park gick löpen alltid snabbt såväl som säkert över terrängen.

Bild

Popper och Bad Medicine i sitt esse på sluttningarna längs Missourifloden.
Popper and Bad Medicine going strong on the slopes along the Missouri River.

I vår egen hage tycker jag typexemplet på takt och balans är det sexåriga stoet Grå Grävling. Redan vid första anblicken tycker jag hennes perfekta proportioner utstrålar balans och när hon sedan börjar röra sig är det som om hela jag rörs av hennes taktfasta, balanserade steg, där varje hovnedslag ljuder av en bärkraft ständigt redo att förflytta henne åt valfri riktning med total kontroll. Detta är förvisso inte väldigt förvånande för oss. “Grävling” kommer från linjer som är starkt “Traditional”-typ, vilket innebär att de enligt mustangexperter är av den främsta typen av “Indian Pony”, d.v.s. den utomordentligt atletiska lilla häst som Amerikas Indianer använde bl.a. i bisonjakt och den modiga lilla häst som ledde officer Marcus Reno till att efter slaget vid Little Bighorn beskriva de involverade Indianerna som världens bästa lätta kavalleri.

Piaff! Nej, självklart inte, men en bild som illustrerar Grävlings bärkraft. Piaffe! No, of course not, but a photo that illustrates Grävlings balanced power.

Piaff! Nej, självklart inte, men en bild som illustrerar Grävlings bärkraft.
Piaffe! No, of course not, but a photo that illustrates Grävlings balanced power.

Takt och balans har också en central roll i många Indianfolks kultur kan den som någon gång besökt en Pow-wow bekräfta. Till sång och ett taktfast trummande dansar deltagarna klädda i färgsprakande dräkter i cirkel med uttrycksfulla rörelser, en del riktiga balansakter, tills en vinnare är korad. I den kvinnliga Jingle dress-dansen förstärks takten av en dräkt med hundratals metallkoner vilka ger ett pinglande ljud, likt bjällror. Bjällror, liksom mängder av pärlarbeten, är också en ofta förekommande utsmyckning på Amerikas Indianers traditionella kläder och deras hästars utrustning. Bjällrorna sägs dessutom ha en rogivande verkan på hästarna.

Själv är jag mycket road av pärlarbete så när jag först stötte på Rhythm Beads, ett slags bjällerkrans för hästar, inspirerade av Indianernas konsthantverk, väcktes genast min kreativa ådra och jag knåpade ihop ett gäng. Nu vet jag inte riktigt vad jag ska göra av så många kransar, så därför säljer jag dem nu till förmån för Nokota® Horse Conservancy. Bilder och mer information finns under “Till Salu”-fliken. Mer om Grå Grävling hittas på hennes egen sida under fliken “Ston/Mares”

Kring den här gamla offerstenen på Kuntz Ranch har nog många rytmer ljudit. Around this old offering stone on the Kuntz Ranch many rhythms have probably sounded.

Kring den här gamla offerstenen på Kuntz Ranch har nog många rytmer ljudit.
Around this old offering stone on the Kuntz Ranch many rhythms have probably been heard.

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On the first level of the German training scale for horses one find Rhythm, which refers to the purity and regularity of the strides of each of the horses’ gaits. Rhythm goes together with balance and I don’t know much more than that about the scale but I do know that the horses we have out in our pasture are good examples of both rhythm and balance. Our Nokota® horses are probably not what the common dressage rider would first define as rhythm and balance. But to live a successful life in the rugged terrain of the North Dakota Bad Lands those two are necessities and through the generations they have been refined into inherent traits within the breed. That is also the reason the Kuntz family first got into the horses. The family was involved in the “Great American Horse Race”; fast races across difficult terrain, that not totally without reason went under the nickname “Suicide Race”. With their own ranch horses they felt that the races implied too great risks for both riders and mounts, but with the horses they purchased from Theodore Roosevelt National Park the races were always run in a fast as well as safe manner.

Med takt och balans visar Nokotahingsten Medicine Fox upp sig. With Rhythm and balance Nokota stallion Medicine Fox show off.

Med takt och balans visar Nokota®hingsten Medicine Fox upp sig.
With Rhythm and balance Nokota® stallion Medicine Fox show off.

In our own pasture I think the epitome of rhythm and balance is the six-year-old mare Grå Grävling. Already at first glance i think her perfect confirmation exudes balance and when she then begins to move, I am moved by her rhythmic, balanced strides, where each hoof fall vibrates of a power always ready to shift herself in any direction with total control. This is, however, not particularly surprising to us. “Grävling” comes from family lines that are strongly to the “Traditional” type, which means lines that according to mustang experts most resemble the old Indian Pony, i.e. the extraordinary athletic little horse that was used by the American Indians for such activities as bison hunts, and the little horse that in the aftermath of the battle at the Little Bighorn led Major Marcus Reno to with all his experience describe the fighting Native Americans as the “best light cavalry in the world”.

Rhythm and balance also play a central role in many American Indian cultures. At the vivid Pow-wows, the participating dancers dressed in colorful dresses dance in a cirkel with expressive, some quite balance demanding, moves until a winner has been chosen. In the womens’ Jingle dress dance the rhtythm is enhanced by hundreds of metal cones making a jingling sound like bells. Bells, like the beautiful bead work in intricate designs are also a common feature of the American Indian traditional horse gear. Bells are also said to be soothing for the horses which is perhaps why they’re so common with Swedish sled horses too.

Myself, I love bells and am quite fascinated by bead work so when I first saw “Rhythm Beads”, a type of beaded bell collar for horses, inspired by the American Indian craft, my own creative strain was immediatley awakened and I put a bunch together. But, I don’t really know what I should do with so many rhytm beads, so now I’m selling them as a fund raiser for the Nokota® Horse Conservancy. Pictures and more information can be found under the “For Sale” tab. More information about Grå Grävling can be found on her own page under “Ston/Mares”.

En ung Amerikansk indian från 1915, i traditionell Lakota dansdress.
A young American Indian from 1915, in traditional Lakota dance attire.

Jethro’s Nokota® Ruminations 1:2 Happy Thanksgiving, Timothy, and Black Friday Bypass

DSC02282
Timothy
Consideration in the last issue of essential amino acids (and past articles can always be easily found on our blog: https://djuptonokotas.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/jethros-nokota-ruminations-vol-11/) led to some questions about what is a good hay based diet, and that is such a profound & good question that i think needs to be broken down by grass species.  So let’s start with one of the most well known, sought after, and at least in some places premium priced, timothy.
Timothy has a long and proud history as hay, and if you have worked with a scythe and/or the traditional human muscle intensive hay drying methods you can understand in large part why.  It grows upright and straight in relatively fine clusters that do not form tight & high scythe blade destorying clumps like tuvtåtel, instead timothy plants cut rather cleanly and effortlessly with a scythe (or machinery), dry comparatively easily and well, and are more cooperative than many plants to collect with a rake and/or baler.  While continuing with its positive aspects, timothy is conducive to farming and crop rotations and establishes well with good planting and fertilizing techniques (including organic fertilizer which was of course the rule up until just a few generations ago) while also being effectively destroyed when desired via plowing because it has shallow roots that do not regenerate new crowns.  It is tolerant of  cold weather and native here in northern Sweden.  Plus timothy is one of the safer cool season grasses for horses at a high risk of founder, at least according to most sources and theories.  http://www.thehorse.com/articles/16767/hay-for-the-laminitic-horse,   http://www.johnthevet.co.uk/fructans.php,   http://www.halleysfeeds.co.uk/articles/TimWatsonBVMS_May2012.html
But even considering all of those benefits, i feel that i need to balance out the reputation of “king timothy”, the cornerstone of most haying programs here, and also write about its shortcomings, which certainly do not render it necessarily inferior but which should be always considered because timothy is definitely not the best option for every situation or every horse.  
Timothy grows and matures quickly, even in the far north, but the flip-side of this strength is that it also becomes overmature very quickly.  It has been recorded losing as much as 0.7% digestability per day after prime harvesting time http://www.feedipedia.org/node/16886, and thus in my experience it is not hard to find timothy hay that is rather deficient in useable protein and other nutrients.  It is true that horses evolved amid and are adapted to a “low octane” diet in comparison to cows, especially modern milk cows which are fed obscenely rich feeds and grasses developed to contain much more sugars and carbohydrates that typically found in nature, so this lower feed value of timothy is not always a disadvantage to a horse, as horses need much roughage/fiber for their systems to function properly, yet timothy’s feed value does need to be understood when trying to feed young, growing, high output, or elderly individuals or considering the “bang for your buck” of your next hay purchase. Mature timothy can be great if your plan is to let your gelding have free choice of a big round bale until it is gone because it will slow him down a bit, and a horse can eat much faster than it needs to, especially if bored, so even with overmature timothy an easy keeper with little to do could still grow fatter. Conversely, if you are feeding youngsters, as we are here, and rationing their feed over 3 to 5 feedings a day to limit wastage and spread out the consumption, and pay for the hay by the bale regardless of what it contains then you can quickly understand why we would prefer not to have overmature timothy hay; it is more work, cost, and waste for the same level of nourishment.
Furthermore, even though lush immature timothy plants can top 20% protein (and at this growth stage may also have a high amount of potentially worrisome for laminitis water soluble non-structural carbohydrates), timothy is a bit deficient in lysine relative to its total protein content.  The National Research Council has through much research decided that 4.3% of a horse’s dietary crude protein should be lysine http://books.google.se/books?id=EBoXrYCkFUQC&lpg=PA198&ots=_2TMb34d28&dq=NRC%20horse%20lysine%20percent&hl=sv&pg=PA198#v=onepage&q=NRC%20horse%20lysine%20percent&f=false​.  So since timothy has only 3% of its crude protein as lysine it is better balanced by combining with clover (5%) or other lycine rich plants (typically legumes) like vetch that are themselves richer than necessary in lysine.  Or you could always supplement lysine directly… or even just feed an excess of timothy in terms of energy and/or total protein to simply reach the lysine requirement if that is the cheapest option and there is no problem with weight gain.
A relatively easy online (and downloadable) program to calculate your horse’s specific needs, and even compare them to several feeds and calculated intake, is provided by the National Research Council at:  http://nrc88.nas.edu/nrh/   On the top blue horizontal tool bar select “Animal Specification”, then enter the weight and expected mature weight along with other details and you can quickly see that our harness mare, Grå Törnskata, for example should have 26 grams of lysine a day.  Saves a lot of time on the calculator, and you can do much more with this program if you wish 🙂  And below is another table that can be helpful when considering lysine, too:
Feed type Equation to estimate lysine from crude protein if actual lysine content is unknown:  http://www.ker.com/library/advances/218.pdf
Alfalfa hay Crude protein x .042
Clover hay Crude protein x .050
Timothy hay Crude protein x .030 (actually ranges from 2.9 – 4.1% http://www.feedipedia.org/node/16888
Bermuda grass hay Crude protein x .035
Bluegrass pasture Crude protein x .027
Oat hay Crude protein x .031
Corn silage Crude protein x .051
Returning to considerations of timothy, it is also relatively sensitive to overgrazing because it stores its reserves in the lower stems, well within reach of hungry mouths.  And please remember when reading about any species and following the links that the recommendations will vary greatly with your locale, especially dates for seeding, cutting, etc, seeding rates, and even nutritive properties.  For example, here in northern Sweden our days during the growing season are very, very long; on midsummer it never truly gets dark, just dusky.  Furthermore, the nights are characteristically cool, so photosynthesis can occur over very long portions of each “day” and the plant needs to waste little of this via respiration at “night”, thus plants can potentially concentrate much more sugar.  Our carrots, berries, potatoes, etc truly are sweeter than in most other places and likewise horses at high lattitudes are at a greater risk of founder/laminitis, particularly if allowed to graze modern grasses developed for milk cows without end when already fat and excercising little.  So if you hear food connosiurs claiming that the best berries come from close to the poles, they actually do have some facts behind them if sweet is what you seek.
So long story short, things are always more complicated than they seem and so there is a lot to consider, and typically hay mixtures are best, but timothy sure can be a great hay and a great choice for the majority of most equines’ diets, especially with a small amount of legume mixed in or fed at the same time.
Black Friday Bypass
Personally, one of the things i am most thankful for is an awesome home (and that means the entire farm) full of opportunities (aka Nokota horses and range for them), so i really am not keen to leave that for the hustle of town, especially not to partake in consumeristic chaos in the quest for holiday gifts.  So what better alternative than to order online gifts like the freshly printed 2014 Nokota calendar http://www.nokota.org/store/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=97, artwork, stationary, sponsorships including the opportunity to name a young Nokota, clothing including sweatpants you can wear in comfort as you shop at home, etc 😉  The only thing better than avoiding the crowds and fuel pumps is the satisfaction of knowing that you are also helping to preserve deserving American heritage, as the Nokota Horse Conservancy is a non-profit organization with the proceeds helping to sustain its core herd of the most rare bloodlines of fully foundation Nokota horses.
Disclaimer:  There is always a strong chance that I don’t know what I am talking about, and these views are entirely my own and not in any way necessarily reflective of those of the Nokota® Horse Conservancy or any other individual.  Read widely, seek multiple opinions, and think freely 😀  I know that this will be read by many who are more wise, educated, and experienced in a multitude of ways than myself and look forward to their responses, even if they contradict me, so please do not hesitate!  Our blog is a great place to discuss further, and if you have a question it very well can be helpful to share, so please feel free to comment and share!
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Jethro’s Nokota® Ruminations vol 1:1

Jethro?

Jethro, after the “Beverly Hillbillies” character, was an early nickname Frank and Leo gave me because of how I sprang all over their pastures euphorically identifying (and tasting) plants, papering horses, fixing fence, etc with an ear to ear grin.  So I chose “Jethro” for this newsletter because I want it to be obvious that what I write is totally and exclusively my own and although influenced by many certainly not meant to be presented as the view of any other.  I am a board member and jr. VP for the Nokota® Horse Conservancy and my goal is to help the Nokota® effort, as I am utterly convinced that this unique imperiled population has a heck of a lot to offer future generations, and a lot of what I will discuss here has been prompted by Nokota® questions and conversations, so please feel free to ask and inquire further but just remember this is just seth, nothing more 😉  My education was too expensive, and I don’t agree with hoarding and commoditizing knowledge, so my intent is to share some insight in the hopes that it can not only be fun, but hopefully save some resources in this crazy world (horses really are cheap keepers if we work with nature).  I try to avoid consumerism as much as possible, so I won’t try to sell you anything more than all things Nokota®, which I feel are one of the best investments a person can make and crucial to my sense of well-being 😀

Keeping in mind that this is just me, there will be grammatically errors for which I apologize.  And it is always best to get a second opinion on everything, so please consider my musings as meant to stir further investigation and certainly not to put the final nail in any coffins, I am definitely fallible!  In the interest of covering many relevant topics I prefer to research and write more over proofread a third time.

 Currently in the Nokota® World…

We will get around to Sweden, where things are well, in more detail later, but presently the bigger news is:

  1.  Seven fully foundation Nokotas®, including the 2 year old mare right, were imported to Denmark a month ago and are doing great!  Their new partners are Gerd and Nadin of http://www.pionierfarm.com/, who have an equine tour business on the beach of Denmark and thus lots of experience with horses, in addition to lots of horsey connections, even more so since they are natives

Nokota Yearling Flya young Nokota in a “Jet Stall”  (as they call the canisters) on her way to Europe

of Germany.  They contacted us last winter after seeing a documentary including Nokotas® on German public radio, visited in May when they grew even more smitten with the breed, and returned in September to stay with their horses during the last week and a half of their 30 day quarantine while preparing them for the long journey home, together, via a 747-400 combi to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.  Just last night we had another email saying how happy they are with their new Nokotas®, that they are really coming to feel at home and growing so sociable and, as is characteristic, think before they act and thus are even more enjoyable to interact with J  They are thinking of these Nokotas® as their personal horses, but at the same time eager to do more promotion in a part of Europe that has seen little to nothing of Nokotas® but which has a great interest in western history and heritage, so we are sure that this will lead to even more impressed individuals who can help the breed further itself 😀

  1.  The economy sucks.  Probably not a big surprise, but it is a bit surprising that the energy barons making a killing in North Dakota right now have yet to show any interest in preserving this North Dakota heritage.  Land prices have literally, without exaggeration, increased from a range of $167 to $300 an acre when I first travelled to ND in 2000 to the point where you probably can’t find anything for under $600 an acre today and some land is selling for over $2000 per acre!  Naturally that has drove up hay and feed prices and made everything more difficult for the nucleus of the Nokota® herd there, and although the Nokota® Horse Conservancy (NHC) just had a good few weeks on the east coast with a young horse starting clinic and the Massachusetts Equine Affaire it is struggling amid decreased donations and increased costs.  The Conservancy’s herd numbers over 100 individuals and we have reduced prices greatly and even offered a few for free, so the silver lining is that it is a good time to get a Nokota® if you have been sitting on the fence, http://www.nokotahorse.org/cms/horses-for-sale.html, but there are many Conservancy individuals of very rare and important bloodlines which can either only go to homes dedicated to at least occassional breeding (which surely does not need to interfere much with using, our “tractor” probably only got all the tougher with motherhood and seems amused to pull hay home for her boys to share), or which really should stay in the NHC.  But at the same time we have severely reduced matings due to the economy so that the combined 2012/2013 foal crop will probably only number 3 youngsters to the most dangerously rare bloodlines.

SH Porphan 0606-10 (1)Porphan, a previous sponsorship foal who is now grown & available for purchase from the NHC as a laid back, amiable gelding

  1. Meanwhile  we are offering new sponsorship options, and I will be a big part of writing those; they are awesome holiday gifts with the personal bio of “your” horse and knowledge that your money is helping living history to thrive and touch ever more lives, and for a certain level of sponsorship you can even choose to name a young Nokota®!  So if you would like to participate please do not hesitate to email me directly, the new page is not yet complete on the NHC website but coming soon and I have already started making bios 😀
  2. Western Horseman ran a shoddy (at best) article on Nokotas®.  It is hard to understand how a reporter who travelled the whole way to the scene can end up writing about speculation instead of what he actually saw, or how he can quote a “local” who has only had his riding business in Theodore Roosevelt National Park for a few years and thus knows little to nothing of real “parkies” like he is some sort of supposed expert.  The horses hanging around his part of the park have long been among the most influenced by the introductions, while the wildest groups hang to the opposite and most secluded east side.  And even worse to misrepresent instead of rely on Castle’s research, which was commissioned by the Theodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association itself.  So I recommend reading the responses here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/359787905068/permalink/10151684159435069/

Knowledge is not knowledge until it is shared

I have received many excellent and interesting Nokota® related questions over the years that have led me to deeper discovery, so it is my aspiration to share many of those while drawing upon my education in agricultural education so as to help us all do things better, and cheaper J  And as with other freely shared information, like the admirable Wikipedia, when you benefit and have the chance please give to the Nokota® Horse Conservancy: there are many different fun ways that make great gifts for others, too, and the simplest is membership at only $50 annually with the benefit of the NHC’s own newsletter with even more fun and helpful info:  http://www.nokotahorse.org/cms/nhc-memberships.html?view=plan&id=2

Strong Smelling Urine:

The characteristic smell associated with urine originates in its nitrogen content, and that is in turn an indication of protein digestion because proteins contain nitrogen.  And animal can break down proteins to release life sustaining energy, but this is actually a less efficient, and from the body’s perspective desirable, energy source than fats or carbohydrates (within reason of course, as too much of anything is a problem).  When protein is metabolized for energy the nitrogen is broken away and excreted from the body as urea, which is familiar to farmers as fertilizer and originates from the same Latin base word as urine because it is a primary and important constituent.  In addition to being a less desirable energy source, proteins are also typically among the most expensive components of feed and nitrogen one of the greatest “pollutants” in excrement that is not properly recycled though the ecosystem, so from every perspective it is always best to supply just a little bit more than needed, which for a horse isn’t so tough or complicated.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, so when they enter the discussion it has only become even more specific but is still all about protein.  Horses can manufacture many of their own amino acids, but some are termed “essential” because they must come from the diet: they can not be generated in the body from others.  You can think of these essential amino acids kinda like the wheels in a set of legos: they ultimately limit how many vehicles you can build and thus control the amount of activity.  Non-essential amino acids are like the lego blocks, you can put two smaller ones together to make a bigger one and rearrange them rather freely to suit demand when building, but one thing you can’t make with them is more wheels and thus no matter how many blocks you have you still are stymied from building cars, and this is often the case with proteins when a horse’s diet may be 30% protein, for example, but could just as well only be 11% protein because an essential amino acid is only available to build 11% complete proteins as are found in muscle tissue.  That other 19% is simply high cost yet inefficient energy, at best, and extra urea rich pee.

Among a total of ten essential amino acids there are several of primary concern in the equine world: foremost Lysine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysine, followed by probably Threonine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threonine, and Methionine. http://www.ker.com/library/advances/222.pdf I capitalized them for a reason: a lot of the science of feeding efficiently comes down to them and this is also true of humans; hence traditional diets pairing legumes with grasses like those of many American Indians who routinely paired corn, beans, and squash together because these give a balanced and complete source of amino acids even without meat.

Long story short, it is pretty apparent that mother nature/God/evolution/all of the above did not plan for any type of grain to be a major portion of any equids diet.  “Grain” can be a vague term, but the entire grass family in general is deficient to very deficient in Lysine and Threonine, although if you extend the definition of grain beyond what is technically correct and the grasses to include such seeds as amaranth you can find some rather balanced protein sources but this is prohibitively expensive for most horses even if a culinary delicacy for humans, plus it is complicating things too much.

Legumes are a very diverse and successful family of plants with the clever adaptation of being able to form a mutually beneficial relationship with rhizobia bacteria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizobia, which in exchange for carbohydrates manufactured by the plant “fix” nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form that the plant can actually utilize.  This is why legumes naturally can thrive in brutal nutrient deprived places, like the sand of beaten beach or leached out desert.  This is also why legumes are characteristically high in protein, and more specifically to our discussion, Lysine & Threonine: they have a more reliable and ready supply of nitrogen from which to build these.

I have heard it said time and again that horses are primarily grass eaters, and it is true that they can survive better than many animals on just grass because even if their digestive system is less efficient than a cow’s it is also faster, so they can push much larger quantities of low quality forage through their system in the same amount of time and thus prosper in places like the arid US southwest or the steppes of Mongolia under conditions that would starve most cows.  Nonetheless, everywhere I have watched horses graze freely they have shown a strong preference for a much greater variety than just grasses and a strong draw to many legumes, in addition to other “weeds” and even if grass is the majority of their diets it certainly does not define them to the exclusion of these other very important nutrient sources.  I firmly believe that horses, and especially breeds so close to nature as the Nokotas®, very much know what they need and will seek out a balanced diet if given free range and allowed to make their own choices.  In North Dakota the Nokotas have a strong preference for the legumes including common clovers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clover, sweet clovers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melilotus_officinalis, prairie clovers http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/ppr_cloverx.htm, medics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicago_lupulina, milk vetches http://www.kswildflower.org/flower_details.php?flowerID=81, tipsin/breadroot http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pediomelum, and of course the well known exotic, alfalfa.  So to me the common deficiency of Lysine and Threonine is due to human interference in relying too much on grasses.

But considering grasses more closely, as they grow and mature protein content is essentially ever further diluted among a larger amount of foliage, and later concentrated in the seed and even degrades in the rest of the plant.  Early in the grazing season some grasses, like the infamous quack grass (Agropyron repens a.k.a Triticum repens a.k.a Elymus repens http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elymus_repens) can muster close to 20% protein and thus be well above ample for nearly any horse’s needs.  Conversely, the well known and at times excessively esteemed Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis) can also reach and even top 20% protein http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/agr/agr134/agr134.htm, but also drop to only 3.3% when overripe http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/graminoid/poapra/all.html, and straw, which is indeed a valuable warming fuel in frigid weather (another article to come) is often only 3-4% protein and of that only about 10% really is digestible and useful.  http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/drought/forages-and-grazing/feeding-straw.

National Academy of Sciences. 1971. Atlas of nutritional data on United
       States and Canadian feeds. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.
       772 p.  [1731]
nutritional information for fresh, aerial parts of Kentucky bluegrass during various growth stages:

% Protein    % Ash   % Crude Fiber   % N-free Extract

growth stage      (N x 6.25)

immature             17.5        9.4        25.4             44.2

early bloom          16.6        7.1        27.4             44.9

mid-bloom             13.2        7.6        29.2             46.1

milk stage           11.6        7.3        30.3             47.2

dough stage           9.5        6.6        34.8             46.0

mature                9.5        6.2        32.2             49.0

over ripe             3.3        6.3        42.1             47.0

Hard exercise does indeed increase protein demands because it literally involves the shearing of some muscle tissues which need to be rebuilt, and naturally lactation and growth depend upon protein whereas advanced age leads to inefficiencies and thus increased needs.  But it is important to keep in mind that horses were designed to be extreme athletes and that we may have different definitions of “hard exercise”.  Excessive protein can actually hurt athletic performance because protein really isn’t the preferred fuel source and needs to be dealt with one way or another, and even just excreting the excess as a waste product requires work including increased urination and thus takes something away from other bodily processes, in addition to making pee extra stinky and soiling more bedding material http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002458.htm.  And even worse, these problems with excessive protein can still occur when a horse is deficient in protein because only one essential amino acid is limiting and others are in excess.  So in future articles we will go more into depth about the specific amino acids and how to most efficiently optimize their balances for the best performance and least waste… but in short diversity with some legumes is a simple answer, and often horses will show us if we observe.  In the meantime it feels like such a weighty discussion needs to likewise be broken down into digestible chunks 😉

Yet the idea is always that anyone can email me with individual queries, comments, recommendations, corrections, etc: I look forward to the opportunity to learn more together!  And towards sharing what can be of greater benefit.  So please do not hesitate to share and forward this wider, and if you have not received it directly but would like to simply email me at seth.zeigler@gmail.com and I can add you to the email list J

Likewise, visitors are always welcome, whether in North Dakota where I can give you a personal tour in late May until the annual meeting but know that Frank & Leo always appreciate guests, too, or if you really have a wild hair and don’t mind a humble home and farm that are very much still works in progress here in northern Sweden.

www.nokotahorse.org

https://sites.google.com/site/zeiglernokotas/nokotas-in-sweden

I know our website is outdated and need to work on it, but it still has maps and other fun stuff 😉

seth.zeigler@gmail.com

Disclaimer:  There is always a strong chance that I don’t know what I am talking about, and these views are entirely my own and not in any way necessarily reflective of those of the Nokota® Horse Conservancy or any other individual.  Read widely, seek multiple opinions, and think freely 😀  I know that this will be read by many who are more wise, educated, and experienced in a multitude of ways than myself and look forward to their responses, even if they contradict me, so please do not hesitate!

 

Grå Törnskata https://djuptonokotas.wordpress.com/gra-tornskata/, our fully foundation mare of only 144cm and maybe 400 kilos (880lbs) bringing home a haylage bale from a farm better than 3 kilometers distant April 2013 with our children in tow.  Helen Thorstensson is training in a soon to be 3 year old foundation mare, Dagsmeja, and Emma Zeigler took the photo.

Grå Törnskata, our fully foundation mare of only 144cm and maybe 400 kilos (880lbs) bringing home a haylage bale from a farm better than 3 kilometers distant April 2013 with our children in tow. Helen Thorstensson is training in a soon to be 3 year old foundation mare, Dagsmeja, and Emma Zeigler took the photo.