Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Mesquite Pods

I may have stumbled upon a pretty cool discovery, especially for all of you Mustang owners out there, and any feedback provided would be much appreciated..

I will sometimes take Augustus out for long walks outside the ranch gates for a change of scenery and to spark some curiousity, but other days we will stay on Shiloh's property and take a walk through the "back forty", which is a shorter walk but offers a few trails to follow through numerous Mesquite trees. We will normally take this walk alone or with Sawyer, but sometimes we'll be joined by a few other friends. Being that there are numerous Mesquite trees on the property, there are also numerous Mesquite bean pods scattered about and Augustus seems to love them. His taste for them seems to be highly instinctual, as I have never introduced them as a treat. Its not like he is chewing on random shrubs in a pasture and happens to come across a pod and end up liking it, he actually will stop in his tracks while walking and go straight for one of the bean pods. The folks who come with us all have "domestic" horses and will walk right passed the pods, not even giving them a second thought, so I am wondering if Gus has eaten these pods while out on the open range. I did a bit of research and this is what I found:

The Mesquite is the most common shrub/small tree of the Desert Southwest and is a key player to restoring nitrogen to the soil. Native Americans relied on the mesquite pod as a dietary staple from which they made tea, syrup, and ground meal called Pinole. They also used the bark for basketry, fabrics and medicine. A favorite of bees and other insects, mesquite flowers produce a fragrant honey. Medical studies of mesquite and other desert foods show that despite its sweetness, mesquite flour is extremely effective in controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. The sweetness comes from fructose, which the body can process without insulin. The sweet pods are a good source of calcium, manganese, iron and zinc.
The seeds within are 40% protein. The gel-forming fiber allows foods to be
slowly digested and absorbed over a 4 to 6 hour period, rather than 1 or 2
hours, which produces a rapid rise in blood sugar.

I also tried looking up information pertaining only to the consumption of these beans by livestock, both cattle and horses, and this is what I found:

In many areas, cattle eat the beans when other food supplies are low, and the beans can help sustain animals in times of drought. The beans are high in carbohydrates and are an energy source. Some years, massive numbers of beans are produced by the mesquite trees. The problem arises when excessive amounts of the beans are eaten; they can cause rumen impactions in cattle, and a severe acidosis results from the fermentation of the beans in the rumen. Horses which eat large quantities of the beans might also develop colic as a result of the beans causing an impaction of the stomach or intestine. Surgery might be needed to remove the impacted mass of pods and beans.

Now, anything in excess is not really a good thing, but since Augustus is a Mustang, and has possibly included these pods in his "wild" diet, I wonder if he would be in as much danger of a possible "colic" due to the beans as a domestic horse? Does anyone else out there have some wild ones who also seem to have a taste for these pods? I find this so cool and so interesting, especially since this seems to be an instinctual behavior rather than a learned one....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Texas meets Nevada

We have had a busy two weeks. My schedule has changed as well and am still adjusting to the new schedule and new days off. Augustus has been doing great and we have made some wonderful progress as usual. Lots of good saddle work, with both mounting and tacking. My mom was in town for a few days from Houston, Texas and spent most of her mini-vacation out at Shiloh, seeing all of the animals, relaxing, and spending time with Augustus and Sawyer. This was her first time meeting Saywer, and it was so neat to see them united for the first time. Sawyer enjoyed meeting her as well, especially since he got lots of extra love and treats. The last time my mom was here in Nevada was about a year ago and besides meeting Sawyer for the first time, she really enjoyed seeing the improvements to the ranch and of course the progress that Gus had made. Gus was still a little weary of her a year ago, having issues with her walking behind him, sudden movements, and taking extra precautions with females. Of course, alot has changed since then, and it was so cool to see the surprised look on my mom's face when Gus walked right up to her like it was no big deal and said hello. We had a chance to really show off his attention to my voice commands and body language as well, turned out to be very impressive. He is always a very fun horse, always wanting to play games and enjoy being a young Mustang, but when it is time to focus, he really focuses. My partner, Jeremy, also came out to the ranch while my Mom was in town and had a chance to jump up in the saddle. Gus was very tolerant of having someone new up in the saddle, and we managed to make a few laps around the round pen without any issues. It was an awesome experience for us all, and as I have said numerous times before, Augustus is going to be one hell of a horse. I am definitely a "Proud Papa". The following pictures are of myself and Gus, Jeremy riding Gus, Gus and his bestfriend Cochise, and my mom with Sawyer.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Restoring Our American Mustangs

America’s Wild Horses Will Roam Free, Under New Legislation

February 12, 2009

CONTACT: Allyson Groff or Blake Androff, 202-226-9019 (Natural Resources)
Natalie Luna, 520-622-6788 or cell 520-904-0375 (Grijalva)

Washington, D.C. - House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) and Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today introduced legislation to ensure the continued protection of the thousands of wild horses and burros that roam the Nation's public lands, which have recently become endangered by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to slaughter otherwise healthy animals.

"It is unacceptable for wild horses to be slaughtered without any regard for the general health, well-being, and conservation of these iconic animals that embody the spirit of our American West," Rahall said. "Introduction of this legislation will ensure the continued presence of those wild horses that make their homes on public lands."

"Our wild horses are being harmed by antiquated policies," said Grijalva. "These policies must be updated to reflect Americans' desire to see these horses protected. We must not lose these majestic icons of the West. "

In 1971, the Congress adopted the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act - which stated that wild horses are "an integral part of the natural system of the public lands" - to protect wild horses from "capture, branding, harassment, or death." Since then, the BLM, charged with management of the animals on public lands, has allowed for the general public to adopt wild horses that have been captured when their population becomes excessive.

Last summer, the BLM announced that the combined lack of funding, facilities, and future options may require the killing of as many as 30,000 healthy wild horses and burros. Shortly after, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the findings of its investigation, which revealed a host of troubling problems plaguing the BLM's wild horse and burro program.

The Restoring Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act (H.R. 1018) would amend the landmark 1971 Act to implement changes suggested by GAO. The bill would:

Remove outdated limits on the areas where horses can roam freely, allowing the BLM to find additional, suitable acreage.

Strengthen the BLM's wild horse and burro adoption program.

Require consistency and accuracy in the management of wild horse and burro herds, and allow more public involvement in management decisions.

Facilitate the creation of sanctuaries for wild horse and burro populations on public lands.

Prohibit the killing of healthy wild horses and burros.
"These critical, commonsense changes to the original Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act will help to sustain the current population of wild horses and burros, without having to resort to slaughter as a solution for management. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Congress and other stakeholders to correct course and present BLM with a viable management alternative," Rahall said.