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Horse Racing Industry In Iowa Is Stronger Than Ever Before

The horse industry in Iowa is growing faster than ever before. From activities surrounding horse breeding, showing, racing, housing, training, riding and care, it employs more than 2,100 people and accounts for millions in revenue each year. The economic impact from horse breeding and owning is doing much to support our state’s ag-centric economy, and we need you to play an important part in making this message heard.

Does my equine need to wear a grazing muzzle?

Many ponies and horses are overweight which puts them at a higher risk for obesity, insulin resistance, laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome. These diseases are associated with the animal eating high intakes of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) which causes caloric intake to exceed the horse’s requirements. For horses with the above problems, feed restriction and stall/dry lot confinement are recommended. The use of a grazing muzzle may allow the horse to be turned out on pasture. It is best to allow animals at risk for laminitis to graze during the overnight hours and early in the morning when NSC are likely to be lower in the pasture.


Saddle Up Safely

Saddle Up SafelySaddle Up SAFELY is a rider safety awareness program. This app will help you decide whether the person that had a riding accident needs to be taken by ambulance to the hospital, can be driven to the hospital, or if they are ok and can go see their doctor the next day.

Just type Saddle Up Safely on your Google play or App Store and download the app. It is free. And there is a lot of safety information embedded in the app as well.

Saddle Up Safely Blog


Soil Tests

Soil tests are necessary for assessment to see what and how much fertilizer is required. Soil surveys can be used for general farm, local and wider area planning.


Life Cycle of the Mosquito


A Female Mosquito of the Culicidae Family
By Alvesgaspar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Mosquitoes are one of the most noxious pests in the world. They carry fatal viral diseases with many being zoonotic or able to transmit diseases to humans. Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycles: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adult mosquito emerges from the mature pupa as it floats on the water surface. Mosquito eggs are laid singly or in a raft-like structure that floats on water. They hatch one of two ways. Direct hatching eggs are laid on the surface of shallow, standing water. Examples include puddles, pools, ditches, tin cans, buckets, water storage tank and small bodies of standing fresh water. The eggs hatch within two to three days. The eggs develop into the larval and pupal stages with adults appearing within seven to ten days. Food supply, water temperature and larval density will affect the timeframe for full development. The West Nile mosquito of the Culex genus is an example of a direct layer.

Delayed hatching is the second way mosquitos are developed. Eggs are dormant and must experience dryness before they can hatch. The eggs can remain dormant from several days to several weeks and may even viable for months to years. Following a dry period, the eggs hatch after water covers them.

Life cycle mosquito
Life Cycle of the Mosquito


In late fall, female mosquitoes find places to over-winter in a state of dormancy. These areas include inside barns, stalls, buildings, tree holes, culverts, etc. Once the weather warms up, they emerge and lay eggs to renew the cycle.

For horses, mosquito repellents should contain permethrin or pyrethroid. Use DEET or picardidin on yourself or your clothing. You can also spray your clothing with pyrethroid products. Dunks can be used in large water sources. Other methods of control include removing and composting manure as frequently as possible. Clean out gutters and keep water tanks clean. Establish good drainage around the barn, water tanks and parking areas. Mow grasses around the property and spray periodically with permethrin insecticides. Crevices in the barn where mosquitos will overwinter can be sprayed with insecticide. The goal is to decrease breeding habitats. Knowing the life cycle of the mosquito can help you break the cycle and reduce the number of insects on your property.


Horses are Part of Agritourism

Agritourism, as it is defined most broadly, involves any agriculturally-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch (Wikipedia). The U.S. horse industry contributes $39 billion in direct economic impact, according to the American Horse Council. The U.S. horse population is estimated at 9.2 million (AHC, 2005).

How Many Horses Can Your Pasture Maintain?

Stocking rates provide information on how many horses a pasture can carry in a month. In general the approximate pasture needs per average-sized mature horse, with pasture providing most, if not all, of the nutrition is:

  • 1 -  2 acres with an excellent, dense sod, permanent pasture
  • 2 - 2.5 acres with an average permanent pasture (spring growth will be OK but summer forage is average)
  • 3+ acres with a thin, poor sod that is unmanaged (supplemental forage will likely be needed)

Fencing for Horses

One major investment for a horse farm are installation and upkeep of fences. The fence should be safe and keep horses on the property. Fencing decisions should be based on the age of the animal, breed and temperament of the animal, production system, and situation. There are two types of fences - physical barriers, such as woven wire, high tensile, wood, and physiological barriers, such as poly wire, poly tape, low-tension smooth wire, and electric wire.

Horses are notorious for being harder on fences then other livestock. What happens when an excited horse hits a fence or horses are romping and accidently hit a fence? Because they are faster and stronger, they hit a fence with more force than other livestock. Horses also fight harder when caught in a fence compared to other livestock. Therefore, the fence must be very strong to withstand a horse hitting it, running into it, or being caught in it.


Gypsy Vanner Breed

The colorful and extraordinary breed of the Gypsy Vanner horse dates back to the eccentric Gypsy travelers in England.  These sturdy caravan horses were not only flashy horses but were also part of the art form that the Gypsy travelers displayed.  From their stout strong stature, flowing manes and tails to the feathers on their legs, these horses were looked upon as a symbol of power and strength among the Gypsy culture. Today, they continue to hold awe and wonder amongst breeders and onlookers as a symbol of power and strength.

Gypsy Horse
Gypsy Horse Breed

Until the late 20th century the Gypsy Vanner was not a recognized breed.  Many of the foundational bloodlines were typically kept secret by family members so there is little knowledge about the true bloodlines of the breed. However, what is known, is that such powerful bloodlines and numerous qualities of the Shires, Clydesdales, Dales Pony, and the Friesian were used to create this exquisite horse.  From these foundational breeds, comes stamina, good-natured temperament, and certainly majestic beauty.

The Gypsy Vanner Horse is a hearty draft style horse that is generally 13 to 16 hands in height. The head of a Gypsy Vanner is pleasant with an intelligent eye. The topline is said to be “level” with its natural aligned curvature from wither to tail head. There is proportional curvature to the croup to enhance the powerful abilities of the hindquarters. The muscling is balanced throughout the body and the legs are straight and correctly aligned. The athletic ground covering trot of the Gypsy Vanner is a “trademark” of the horse’s powerful fancy image. The Gypsy Vanner’s conformation allows them to trot willingly and freely under a load and at liberty.  While there is no set color standard for this breed, most are considered piebald (having irregular patches of two colors, typically black and white) or skewbald (having irregular patches of white and another color (properly not black). The most noted visual trait of the Gypsy Vanner Horse is the abundance of hair and “feathers’ that should be straight and silky.  The manes and tails of this breed are full and flowing giving them an elegant and majestic appearance.

The Gypsy’s are a very versatile breed known for their soundness and sanity.  Although originally bred to pull the lavish wagons of the ancient Gypsy’s, their gentle nature lent itself to the teaching of young Gypsy children the skill of riding. With the outstanding disposition of kindness, generous efforts, and faithful nature, the Gypsy horse is easily trainable for almost any discipline.  You can find them pulling carts and carriages, ridden in the dressage ring, over fences, as western pleasure horses, down the trail, and even fulfilling therapy duties. 

In 1996 the first Gypsy Vanner Horses came to North America and the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society was established as a registry for the breed. At that time the breed did not have a name, and the name Gypsy Vanner Horse was chosen because the breed was a Gypsy’s “vanner horse”, bred to pull the colorful caravan. 

Falling in love with this breed is very easy to do as the founders of the Hairy Horse Company in 2019 quickly discovered.  When Jennifer Dymond purchased Uncle Si, it didn’t take long for them to know this was a special breed.  Upon seeing this gentle, docile, kind-eyed, and beautiful horse, Jennifer Dymond and friends were hooked and the Hairy Horse Company was founded.  Located in Bedford IA, the Hairy Horse Company offers an array of sizes and colors and has now expanded their majestic herd to one stud-horse, geldings, mares, and fillies.  

Gypsy Horse Breed
Gypsy Horses on Pasture

Courtesy of Jennifer Dymond, Hairy Horse Co and Carla Clark, Iowa Horse Council Breed Coordinator