Owl and Dragon- Two Tiny Hens

Owl and Dragon, two chicks from this year.  Owl is a Welsummer and Dragon is an Orloff.

Dragon (despite the name) is very cuddly and naturally tame.  Owl is a little more energetic but is sweet, too.  The hen didn’t want them (see below) and because of her nasty pecking, they are now  under the brooder light.  Owl enjoys sleeping under Dragon and they are very attached; they call loudly when one is taken away from the other.

When the “big hens” see the chicks, they make “disapproving wing” at them – have you ever seen when hens see something they don’t like and drag one wing while informing the subject of their disapproval who’s in charge?  When the chicks see the hens, they run for cover- who wouldn’t be terrified after being pecked by a big, crabby broody hen?  The hen, however, continues to be very devoted to her eggs, sitting on them and clucking softly to them all day long.




“Big Red” the Second


I won the triple crown on 6/9/73 as the ninth winner.  I was born at Meadow Stables in Virginia in the year 1970, more specifically March 30.  As a 3 year old, I won 9 out of 12 starts, placing second twice and was third once.  There is a race held once a year named after me.  I was the second Thoroughbred racehorse in racing history known as ” Big Red.”  What was my name?

Alfalfa and Blister Beetles



Horse facts as told by a Shetland pony.

 Gypsy, the Equine Encyclopedia, tells about blister beetles and alfalfa hay.


If you have ever taken a flake of alfalfa and shaken it out, only to find crushed striped or spotted bugs with large, spiny antennae hidden inside, you have probably encountered Blister Beetles.  These toxic pests are large, approximately 1 inch long.  The reason why they are harmful to horses upon ingestion is the presence of the  toxin Cantharidin, which remains inside the beetles for as many as three years.   Belonging to the family Meloidae,  Blister Beetles come in over 200 different species and may be black with yellow or orange stripes or grayish tan paired sometimes with black spots and sometimes without.

If your horse appears to be “off his feed”, Blister Beetles can be a prime suspect. These insects are sometimes eaten by horses, usually concealed in baled  alfalfa (a legume hay that is very high in protein); colic can occur.  The minimum lethal quantity of blister beetles for a 1,100 lb horse is thought to be as few, or even less than, 125 beetles.

Treatment of Blister Beetle poisoning can be difficult.  It has no specific treatment; in severe cases, mineral oil can be administered.  Horses have either recovered or succumbed within 1-3 days.  After treatment, laminitis can result.

Prevention is always the easiest and surest way.  One way to do this is not to feed  alfalfa or to obtain alfalfa from a field that is cut before it blooms for this reduces the possibility of hidden beetles.

Not all places are home to Blister Beetles, as they are usually found in warm, dry locations.  So, if the beetles have not been found in fields nearby or you do not feed alfalfa or other flowering hays, your horses are probably safe.



Plants to Watch out for in Pastures



Horse facts as told by a Shetland pony.

 Gypsy, the Equine Encyclopedia, tells about plants that ARE TOXIC TO HORSES.


Here is a list of many plants that can be toxic to horses. Keep in mind that no list is complete; there are more still.

Elderberry Sambuccus spp.

Goose Grass Triglochin spp.

Milkweed Asclepias Speciosa

Wild Blue Flax Linum spp.

Serviceberry Amelanchier Alnifolia

Larkspur Delphinium spp.

Spotted Hemlock Conium Maculatum

Yellow Oleander Thevetia Peruviana 

Water Hemlock Cicuta spp.

Death Camas Zigadenus spp.

Yellow Sweet Clover Melilotus Officinalis

Wooly Locoweed Astragalus Mollisimus

White Prairie Aster Aster Falcatus

Broomweed Guterrezia Sarothrae

Gumweed Grindelia spp.

Snake Grass Equisetum Arvense

Fringed Sage Artemisia Frigida

Sand Sage Artemisia Filifolia

Creeping Indigo Indigofera Spicata

Pokeweed Phytolacca Americana

Black Locust Robinia Pseudoacacia

Field Bindweed Convolvulus Arvinsis

Mountain Laurel Kalmia Latifolia

Azalea Rhododendron Catawbiense

Fetterbush Leucothoe spp.

Mountain Pieris Pieris spp.

Buttercup Ranunculus spp.

Saltbush Atriplex spp.

Click here for even more plants that are  poisonous to horses…

Equine Advice: Thrush


Gypsy, the Equine Encyclopedia, has something to say about Thrush.  Like all Shetlands, she is always watching, listening and learning.

Thrush is an infection of the hoof which is caused by anaerobic bacteria (Fusobacterium Necrophorum) that creates a black, foul-smelling sometimes cheesy-looking discharge.  Thrush was originally thought to be a fungus but has recently been proved to be caused by bacteria.

It gives the appearance of the frog (a firm, spongy triangle-shaped structure in the center of a horse’s hoof that helps the horse to absorb shock) disintegrating.  When the infection is fairly advanced, it may cause lameness or may affect the sensitive laminae.  The infection thrives in manure and wet soil.

Thrush may be treated by disinfecting the hoof with an anti-thrush solution, once to twice a day for at least 10 days.

Picking a horse’s hooves once a day is a good preventive measure for thrush.  Thrush is fairly common and rarely causes lasting damage if treated properly.

Equine Advice: Plants that are Toxic to Horses


Gypsy, the Equine Encyclopedia, has something to say about plants that are toxic to horses.  Like all shetlands, she is always watching, listening and learning. 

Some plants that horses must not eat are:

Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinium)

Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)

Fiddleneck (Ansinckia intermedia)

Prince’s Plume (Stanleya spp.)

Horsetail (Equisetum spp.)

Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata)

Jimsonweed (Datura spp.)

Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Locoweed (Astragalus spp.)

Tansy Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

Rattleweed (Crotalaria spectabilis)

Wild Cherry (Prunus spp.)

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Woody Aster (Xylorrheza spp.)

Yellow Star Thistle (Centaurea solstitialis)

Wild Onion (Allium validum)

These are only a few plants; many more exist.