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Extension > Horse Extension - Ask an Expert > July 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Would you recommend using treated wood?

Q: I want to install wood fence posts around my horse paddock. Would you recommend using treated wood?

A: Wood posts are a common and safe option for horse paddocks. However, wood has natural enemies including insects, mold, fungi, and bacteria. Some species have natural resistances, such as, cedars, junipers, locust, and redwood. Treated wood is more expensive than un-treated lumber, however, it will help extend the life of your wood fence, likely more than paying for the additional expenses. Current chemical treatments include copper cremated copper arsenate (CCA), ammoniacal zinc copper arsenate (ACZA), copper amines (copper azole, CBA-A & CA-B; alkaline copper quat, ACQ-B, ACQ-C, ACQ-D), and copper naphthenate (CU-Nap).

Pressure treated wood should last 30 to 35 years in Minnesota, compared to untreated wood, which generally lasts between 7 and 15 years. In drier climates, some posts can last longer. For example, cedar posts in western South Dakota can last longer than 100 years. In wet soils, filling the bottom 6 to 12 inches of the hole with a builders grade sand will increase the life of the post. Setting posts in concrete is not recommended because of the expensive and difficultly in replacing or moving the post.

Although horses do commonly chew on wood, I am not aware of any health problems (not counting dental issues) related to horses chewing on treated wood. If a horse is known to crib or chew, CU-Nap treated wood is the best option as no known health risk have been determined if ingested (maybe difficult to find). Another option is to install a single strand of electrified barbless wire, which will help keep the horses from both pushing on the fence and chewing on the wood; further extending the life of the fence and reducing maintenance costs.

CCA and ACZA treated wood has limitations because of arsenic, and has been band in the residential construction market; but still can be purchased in the agricultural sector. If CCA or ACZA is used, recommendations are to not have the CCA treated wood come in direct contact with feed; not used for bunks (support legs are OK), feed storage boxes, etc. The arsenic treated wood is also not recommended for use in playground equipment.

By: Chuck Clanton, PhD, University of Minnesota

Thursday, July 12, 2012

To cool a hot horse, should I spray the entire body?

Q: When cooling a hot horse after exercise, many people simply spray the horse all over with water and do not scrape away the excess. Does it really offer a benefit to spray the entire body as opposed to just the legs and belly?

A: Spraying water on a hot horse to cool it off promotes convection cooling and assists the horse in lowering its core temperature. The reason you spray the legs and belly is because the blood vessels are closer to the skin in those locations and it promotes faster cooling of the horse's core temperature by carrying the cooler blood to the heart.

Another important part of cooling out horses is evaporation. After the horse has been sprayed off, it is very important to scrape the water off, because once the horse is sprayed, the water absorbs the horse's heat and becomes warm. In order for evaporation to occur effectively, this warm water must be removed. This process can be repeated until the horse's temperature comes down (i.e., spray, scrape, spray, scrape). If the water is not scraped off, it could act as an insulating layer, and actually make the horse hotter than when you started.

In extreme circumstances, ice can be added to water buckets to increase the speed of cooling the core temperature. It is commonly thought that ice will be a shock to the horse's system and could cause tying up (muscle cramping); however, with extreme heat and internal body temperatures, this is not the case.

If a horse is prone to tying up, it may be recommended to not directly apply the ice to the large gluteal muscles in the hind end, but focus on those key areas where the blood vessels are more superficial.

By Carey Williams, PhD, Rutgers University

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