Horses

Rocky Hullette

We love getting to know farmers and “horse people” of all types. We recently met Joey McKay and heard about his family farm in the small town of Pass Christian, Mississippi. Here, he shares tips on starting a farm, learning to ride and introducing your kids to the beautiful world of horses.

My son 1st time on a horse

Tell me about your farm.

My family and I live with my father and grandfather on the same property that my grandfather purchased over 60 years ago. I’ve lived on this property my whole life. It’s now 43 acres and we have six Quarter horses and three mules.

How did your farm get started?

My granddad developed a polo habit so that’s what led him to buy horses. He needed property, so he moved 15 miles outside of town. Leaving town to run a farm was a strange move to make in the 1950s!

My 79 year old GrandFather with my 1 year old son

Did your granddad’s interest in polo impact you?

Yes, definitely. I’ve been riding horses since before I can remember. I started playing polo when I was 13 and right after high school, I was hired to play polo professionally and train horses. I played professionally for 5 years. My granddad played longer – 58 years! He’s 79 now and still rides horses.

Do you have any tips for someone starting a horse farm?

First, take the time to think about what you really want and be honest with yourself about how often you want to ride. Your ability to get along with your horse is significantly impacted by the suitability of your match. If you’re mismatched, you may end up with a very athletic horse that may not be the most obedient. Remember that advanced riders make it look easy.

Trail Riding Mule

What about riding tips?

Be light. People drive a horse with the reins, which are touching a very sensitive part of the horse’s mouth. It doesn’t take much muscle to get a horse to understand you.

I also recommend riding often and spending a lot of time with your horse. Even grooming helps you learn about each other. The more time you spend together, the better the experience will be for both of you.

You have a 2-year-old son. What are your tips for introducing kids to horses?

For young kids, the best thing you can do is to have them around you while you work with the horses. Of course, use some caution so they don’t put themselves in danger, but just have your kids out there. I have an old horse that was my granddad’s for about 30 years. I know her very well and can ride her with my son. If you want your kids to ride, you need to be on a horse you trust.

My son at 1 year old feeding a mule

Another great option for kids is mules. We purchased our mules to pull a wagon and riding together is a fun family activity. My wife, son, and myself all ride together and we love it.

Family Wagon Ride

Thanks for speaking with us, Joey. We look forward to seeing what the next generation of McKay’s does with horses!

Brian Michaels

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While spring has officially sprung, it still feels like winter in many parts of the country. What are you doing to keep your horses warm? Some turn up the heat (literally) while others layer on blankets to provide warmth. However, what goes inside your horse’s body is just as important as what goes over it.

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Horses need lots of hydration to regulate their body temperatures. Be sure to provide your horse with enough drinking water that will not freeze over. One owner suggested a trick to keep the water from freezing by keeping an apple in the trough. The horse bobs for the apple and it prevents the water from freezing.

Horses also need to fill their bellies with food. According to equine specialist Dr. Carrie Hammer, DVM, for every 10-degree change below 30 degrees, a horse would need to eat two additional pounds of feed per day. So, throw in a few extra bales of hay when sheltering your horse in the winter.

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But perhaps one of the most important things you can do to keep horses warm is to give them extra bedding. Just make sure to keep it dry and clean to prevent waste-related illnesses.

If you’re looking for a safe and effective bedding product to keep your horses warm, look no further than Nature’s. Nature’s is made from non-allergenic Kiln dried pine, making it safe to use all year round. Nature’s high absorbency makes clean up quick and easy while leaving a fresh pine scent in your stable. To see if Nature’s is available at a feed and seed store near you, contact us.

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In the meantime, stay warm and let us know if there are any techniques you use to keep your horses toasty when it’s freezing.