Ranch life for our horses is pretty good I think (and I think they’d agree!). It is truly remarkable that the horse has been so well engineered to thrive in wild-like conditions, even though they have been a fully domesticated partner to humans for thousands of years.
Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy
Most of our guests are surprised to learn that the Music Meadows herd lives out in our huge ranch pastures almost completely on their own. But the reality is that horses evolved over thousands of years to wander large swaths of land. Their digestive systems function best when they’re grazing 18 to 20 hours out of every day, slowly adding forage at a steady trickle and keeping that gut healthy. They’re also socially happiest when living in a herd with other horses, keeping their stress levels low and their boredom to almost nothing.
One of the major benefits to us of their rangeland life is that they learn to navigate the adverse elements of nature from rocky escarpments and water crossings to whatever nature can throw at them including ice, snow, wind, rain, hail, and storms. There is a wonderful old cowboy tune called “Old Faithful”, with verses such as, “Old Faithful, we rode the range together… Old Faithful, in every kind of weather…” It is tough to put a value on a horse you can trust not only on the splendid days, but also in any kind of weather!
In the summer we provide them with free choice salt and a custom mineral blend made precisely to compensate for any lack found in the forages of the ranch. We have several streams running through as well as stock ponds and stock tanks, and the grasses and forage are more than enough to keep them glossy and at a perfect weight even with all the work they’re doing around the ranch safely carrying guests and working cattle.
Wait… Aren’t We Wild?
You might be wondering how we catch the horses from a large pasture. Well, I am here to report that unfortunately they do not come to a whistle :-/ We normally round them up
with the ATV which they have learned to respect quite well, racing obediently into the corral on the fly. The only catch with that method is if there is too much snow for the ATV or if it is so cold it won’t start. In that case we may keep a horse close to the corral to catch and use as the roundup horse, or we have to hoof it ourselves with a bucket of grain to catch one and then chase them in!
You may have heard that horses that are turned out for more time than they are ridden can backslide in their training, manners, and reliability. This is true, but the ongoing training programs here at Music Meadows Ranch have produced a solid set of horses. One thing our guests can be assured of is that we trust our horses with every rider.
In the winter the herd grazes on dormant grasses, pawing through the snow to reach it when necessary. Supplemental feeding of hay is only needed if the snow is quite deep, and typically a big wind follows our snow storms, which I think is nature’s way of opening up the range for the animals to forage. We also provide a supplement for the winter months called Sweet Pro (create a link to sweetpro.com). It is a solid block made from the fermented byproduct of the ethanol plants. They gnaw and lick on and in the process they get probiotics, enzymes, protein, salt, and minerals, which allows them to digest 25% more of the forage consumed, which really helps them stay very healthy even on winter pasture.
If you haven’t ridden during the winter, you’re missing out on a very special experience. (Check out the winter riding video on our home page!) The quiet and stillness of winter is a special thing, and to ride through the snow on a warm horse with the jagged peaks of the wild mountains rising into the blue sky is something you’ll never forget. Join us!