October 24, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
37°F

Advice: Give horses hay and keep fair food at bay

People-watching is a favorite pastime of horses.

But people don’t always watch themselves around horses.

That can be dangerous for the animals and humans, according to Heather Raw, who is responsible for six horses brought to the Medina County Fair from Walnut Ridge Farms in Sharon Township.

Heather Raw, of Sharon Township, pets her horse, Rex, and talks about horse behavior at the Medina County Fair on Wednesday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAN POMPILI)

Raw’s horses are Haflingers, a breed developed in Austria that can weigh up to 1,300 pounds.

Raw said it’s important for fairgoers to understand what is good for the horses and what can cause trouble.

She said horses never should be fed fair foods.

“That’s a big no-no,” she said, explaining that horses have a delicate digestive system and do not have the ability to throw up unsettling foods.

If it isn’t a food it can pass, it can cause the horse discomfort which may lead it to roll on the ground and twist its intestines, which can require major surgery that is not always successful.

In short, eating the wrong food could kill a horse.

Drinks and foods that have caffeine are especially dangerous because they can trigger heart attacks in horses, Raw said.

One fair staple horses can eat is cotton candy because it’s sugar. Horses often enjoy a treat of one or two sugar cubes.

But Raw said cotton candy only should be given in small amounts and keepers prefer to give the treat themselves to monitor the animal’s diet.

Simple things such as feeding a horse can raise a lot of ruckus in the barn because horses are jealous animals and feeding one can make the horse in the next stall upset.

“It’s just frustrating because when somebody picks up hay and just feeds one, then the others get angry because they want to be fed, too, and they bang on the gates,” she said.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.