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 Question about owning both alpacas and horses
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gracelandnorthalpacas

271 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2010 :  8:19:36 PM  Show Profile  Visit gracelandnorthalpacas's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi,

It seems that Iíve noticed in past posts that there are alpaca breeders who are also horse owners. My husband and I are contemplating getting a horse for our daughter (for riding) since that is one thing that she has consistently talked about wanting from the beginning after we adopted her 4 years ago. It may be awhile because we need to make a new pasture and figure out separate housing from our alpacas.

I was wondering and would like some advice from others who are both alpaca and horse owners(we know alpaca people and we know horse people, but no one who has both. This horse will be hers, but I know myself and my love of animals and I will most likely want to start riding myself and get very involved(I will need to at least supervise since she is only 11). We know quite a few horse people and they all have been involved with them since they were very young. They are all very devoted to their horses as many alpaca people are devoted to alpacas. I went riding when I was young where you rented a horse for an hour or 2, that is the extent of my experience and knowledge of horses other than they are bigger and eat more. We would have access to others for support if we do decide to get horses.

I would like to know how owning horses and breeding alpacas fit together. What are the benefits and drawbacks of owning both? How much work is it to have both?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!



Thanks,
Pam Schaber
Graceland North Alpacas
Cushing, Wisconsin
715-648-5150

Where The Love Of Nature Animals And Farming Meet

www.alpacanation.com/gracelandnorth.asp
www.gracelandnorthalpacas.com

jillmcm

3204 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2010 :  9:05:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
One advantage to having a horse, as an alpaca breeder, is that you can design a pasture rotation system that alternates the horse and the alpacas grazing the same pastures. The horse will eat the grass around the poop piles and the worms there without being affected, helping to "clean" the pasture. Robyn at Samsuri can probably give you lots of great information.

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - °BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
bagendsuris@roadrunner.com
http://www.alpacanation.com/bagendsuri.asp
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nyala

3318 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2010 :  11:28:36 PM  Show Profile  Visit nyala's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi,

We have 3 horses (a clydesdale mare, her drum filly daughter almost 3 years old now, and a POA Cross pony). The first thing we did years ago was lease a halflinger pony and see how horse ownership was. I highly reccommend the leasing idea to see if this is for you. The little mare we leased was a rescue with issues and a mean streak and the kids adored her and were devoted to her and great at taking care of her. They didn't get to attached to her because she was kind of cranky. So we then bought our clyde mare Misty. Misty was unhappy here alone so we moved her to a stable about 10 minutes away with lots of horses. Ultimately she birthed Hazy her foal and the plan was to sell the foal but then we actually saw the foal and that ended the selling plan. We leased a pony for Helen and when he came up for sale Helen was so attached we bought him too (a leasing hazard). So now we have 3 horses. Kenni my eldest daughter has been training Hazy to ride and its going really well. It incredibly empowering for her. Hazy adores her and just comes running whenever she sees Kenni. There is a very obvious and active reciprocal attachment. A thing I've learned about horses they need you in a very different way than alpacas, lots of maintenance not just taking care of them physically but socially. There are also always things you are working on (Misty is currently taking this little hop when she transitions to a trot we are working on her not doing that). Its important to have lots of horse friends to support and help you (in the way we all have alpaca friends). The barn where we board has a number of Parelli horse folks and Kenni and Helen have learned the games and concepts and some of them also work on alpacas so that was kind a plus.

I'd not get a pony as its very sad when they outgrown him or her. We are dealing with that soon. Snowy also drives so Helen is learning to drive him.

I think its my alpaca background but I'm not keen on horses alone they are very social and like their horse buds. I know there are folks that have single happy horses but I know none of mine would be happy without other horses.

The downside is they are incredibly time consuming, they eat and poop an unbelievable amount. The vet costs are scary high (you also have farrier costs). Kids need a lot of supervision. Even totally wonderful family horses have their bad moments and so horses can be dangerous. Helen was just sitting on Snowy her pony lost her balance and broke her arm (badly). I was right there but she still got hurt.

we bought the farm next door and plan on fencing another 10 acres of pasture for the horses (they can be hard on pastures and you need lots of room). I love the idea of rotating them through the pastures here to cut down on parasites. We hope to bring them home someday not too far in the future

Here is a funny little clip of our clyde mare Misty with Kenny trying to teach her to jump.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhXqCK3rCnI

Ann




D. Andrew Merriwether, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Biology, Binghamton University
and
Ann and Andy Merriwether
Nyala Farm Alpacas,Vestal, NY
www.alpacanation.com/nyalafarm.asp
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Judith

4019 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  07:07:04 AM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
I absolutely second the idea that you need more than one horse if you have horses at all. They are extremely social (much more so than alpacas, who seem to need one another for security rather than for company, although they do develop "friendships" of a sort). I had to sell my horse because he was so lonely and I simply didn't have room for more than one. He would be so depressed every time an Amish family passed that he just eemed to droop, and it made me unhappy to see him so lonely. He went to a home with 4 other horses, and I'm told that he called to them all the way up the driveway, and actually led one of them by the halter out to the pasture to play, he was so excited to have equine companionship! People are nice, but they need their own kind as well.

Judith Korff
AlpacaNation Forum Co-Moderator
LadySong Farm Bolivian Suri Alpacas
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
www.alpacanation.com/ladysong.asp
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nyala

3318 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  10:02:28 AM  Show Profile  Visit nyala's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi,

I totally agree with Judith about one horse not being happy alone. That was the first horse mistake we made. When we got Misty the folks we bought her from said she's very people oriented and not into her horse pasture mates so she'd be fine alone. So we had her here alone (She was bred to I figured this was self correcting). What she would do is just lean against her stall door until it popped off and then go for a walk to the alpaca fence and look sad. Even though she's not a horse who is all that friendly to other horses she likes them around.

Its also really important to get the right horse. You want one that is a good match with capability and personality. When you go to see them, spend some time grooming them, pick up their feet, ride them. Take your time. Also get a soundness check from a good horse vet.

My daughters wanted a draft and I wanted a calm patient friendly horse. Misty has worked out well for us but it took us a while to learn her quirks and understand them. Her quirks are she hates chickens and strangely does not trust small children. She also hates to canter (I personally find that to be a plus with two little wild cowgirls). The Parelli thing is a great (although very pricey) system for understanding horses. You do just tons of ground work with them.

Here is clip of Kenni with young Hazy playing around:

http://www.youtube.com/user/annfelter#p/u/8/v8m5I88EVhc

Hazy weighed more than most of our adult alpacas when she was born. Safety around a young playful giant baby is always a concern. Notice the indoor arena. The one thing I do think about bringing ours home is no indoor arena. We currently have 20+ inches of snow on the ground and riding would be impossible. I'm kind of thinking of having them here until the first snow and then boarding them for the winter so the kids can still ride all the time. Winter horse care was really hard here with ice and snow and clean-up and very difficult to ride especially with lots of ice.

Just a few more thoughts,

Ann

D. Andrew Merriwether, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Biology, Binghamton University
and
Ann and Andy Merriwether
Nyala Farm Alpacas,Vestal, NY
www.alpacanation.com/nyalafarm.asp
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Heidi Christensen

4211 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  10:11:26 AM  Show Profile  Visit Heidi Christensen's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I have one horse - had 4 up until about a year ago but got to the point where I couldn't afford to feed them all (hay prices were about double what they are now) so had to find a home for 3 of them. I was a horse person long before I was an alpaca person, but don't ride anymore. If I was to lose a bunch of weight I would be right out there though.

Anyway, I agree with having more than one, but can tell you over the years I have had a single horse with no problem. My first horse (who my parents got for me in 1976) lived by himself with no other horse around for several years. But I did ride him every day, so he got out and about every day (we lived in a town of 1000 people in eastern WA). My horse now is housed with two goats, and he has the fenceline with the alpacas.

Heidi Christensen
WingNut Farm
Graham, Wa
(253) 846-2168
http://alpacanation.com/wingnutfarm.asp
http://wingnut-alpacas.com
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nancyspacas

425 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  10:41:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit nancyspacas's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Pam,

I have had a horse for 10 years. He has been in several living situations from alone to having 6 buddies.
He now lives here at home with me and his full size goat friend. He is very happy and calm.
We have had alpacas for 3 years, and they often graze along each others fencelines for company ( the pacas, horse, and goat).

I would say your horse would need some sort of friend, whether it be another horse or a goat. Our goat is great.... he eats the weeds that the horse doesnt like... so the pastures look much nicer.

They do, however eat tons more than the alpacas... My horse, who is about 1000 lbs, and the goat ( 150 lbs ) eat 1/2 a bale of hay each day.
I do not rotate fields here as i am not sure about the parasite issues with goats and pacas. But we have 8 acres of pasture for all,
so i'm not too worried about that.

I also have 2 different vets.... the horse vet and the paca and goat vet. So there are fees there as well. My farrier is great and only charges about $30 for a trim. My horse is not shod, so I dont have to worry about that cost.

If you have any other questions, I would be more than happy to help if i can...

Nancy

Walnut Hill Farm, LLC
Metamora, MI
(810)441-6660
walnut_hill@centurytel.net
www.alpacanation.com/walnuthill.asp
www.freewebs.com/walnuthillfarm/
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samsuri

208 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  6:00:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit samsuri's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi all

I agree that horses enjoy having other equine companionship. That's where the mini horses come in! They have no other real purpose in life but to be a companion animal. You can harness them and drive them, but obviously it would still only be a small sulky!

My first pony was a rescue pony... the kids in that family had outgrown him, and they decided he was too old now (15) so they were going to send him to the doggers (knackery). I was horrified that a perfectly healthy, extremely gentle and friendly pony with probably another 10 years in him, could be treated that way! I was looking for a horse specifically to clean my pastures... and Jupiter is perfect.

I borrowed a Shetland pony from my neighbours to keep him company (he's got a nasty streak though), but since then I have purchased a couple of miniatures and they are gorgeous. One is even saddle broken but you wouldn't let anything older than 6 ride him! The minis are only as tall as the alpacas, but obviously much heavier.

The horses definitely eat more and poop more than alpacas! But I've been lucky in that none have required any vet treatment, and my neighbour can trim hooves, so the only expense I've had is regular worm treatment. A very good friend of mine actually travels the world teaching people how to trim hooves so you don't need to put shoes on your horses... www.hoofworksaustralia.com if anybody is interested. I plan on getting him to teach me how to trim the ponies feet.

As for the horses and alpacas... I believe that they are brilliant together. I have had my ponies and minis in the same paddock as the alpacas, but the horses tend to be quite boisterous and this is a concern with the alpacas not really understanding the "game". Generally I keep them separate and each week let the horses into the various alpaca pastures to eat the grass around the poop piles. I've definitely noticed an improvement in parasites by doing this. We're having hot and wet weather at the moment, yet so far, the fecals are still negative for any worm eggs. I honestly believe that I can thank the ponies for this result.

You'd want to be careful if you keep them in the same paddock as a horses kick could do a lot of damage to an unsuspecting alpaca. But one of the minis (a yearling) was playing with one of my stud male alpacas last week. I'm not sure the alpaca understood the rules of the game but they were running and neck wrestling... quite fun to watch. I've since separated them as I didn't want it to become a habit and cause any problems.

Horses and alpacas do not share any parasites, so even if your horses are wormy, they won't be a risk to the alpacas. The horses love the grass around the poop piles - and this is where the biggest worm risk is for alpacas - and the alpaca worms are of no risk to the horses. So I believe it's the perfect relationship!

My horses only get fed a small amount of lucerne each day, and once a week I give them chaff, pellets and DCP (my pasture is calcium deficient). They get fed much less than my pregnant female alpacas!! I'm lucky that I have 40 acres to play with, so space is not a problem for me.

So look around for the miniatures as companion animals, you often find that they have bad attitudes as people have treated them like pet dogs instead of horses, but you will sometimes find a sweet natured one looking for a new home - often for free.

The big thing I've noticed is that horses and alpacas don't speak the same language and interact with people in a very different way. It's amusing to see a horse covered in green spit and the alpaca getting frustrated that it won't move away from the food! But speak to lots of other horse people and you will learn the language of "horse" and that will help you understand their behaviours.

Cheers
Robyn


Robyn Harrison
Samsuri Alpacas
Coloured Suri Alpacas
Gympie, Queensland, Australia
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gracelandnorthalpacas

271 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2010 :  10:38:27 PM  Show Profile  Visit gracelandnorthalpacas's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the advice from everyone.

If we do end up with horses we would probably either get 1 and board it for awhile or get 2 to provide pasture mates for eachother. I'm still pondering whether I want the extra responsibility of caring for horses though. Funny we have over 50 alpacas, but getting 2 horses causes me to pause and think.


Thanks,
Pam Schaber
Graceland North Alpacas
Cushing, Wisconsin
715-648-5150

Where The Love Of Nature Animals And Farming Meet

www.alpacanation.com/gracelandnorth.asp
www.gracelandnorthalpacas.com
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JO1991

178 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2010 :  07:41:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit JO1991's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thank you guys for this informative post - as we have a daughter who has been begging for a horse, and I was not aware of a "benefit" on my end of ever acquiring one (or two) for the farm to be included in pasture rotation. Very interesting post, and I am most certain, my 11 yr old daughter will be quite glad that I read this post!!! I have had both horses and mini's in the past and wasn't really game on adding them again - but this will have me maybe be on the outlook for something to fall into place here with a horse.

Thanks again for the info, as always, much appreciated!!!!

Lisa Croslow
Sandy Lane
Lawrenceville, IL
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samsuri

208 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2010 :  7:23:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit samsuri's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I need to post a correction... horses and sheep share one worm Trichostrongylus axei - a stomach hair worm. In sheep it is considered harmless.. whether this is true of alpacas is yet to be seen. So although I declared that horses and alpacas share NO worms, it appears that a single species is found in both.

However, horses do not get black scour or barbers pole(to the best of my knowledge), which are the 2 blood sucking nasties that I have had to deal with.

So I still stand by the use of horses in your pasture rotation to keep the worms under control :)

Cheers
Robyn



Robyn Harrison
Samsuri Alpacas
Coloured Suri Alpacas
Gympie, Queensland, Australia
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