Author Archives: dawndi

About dawndi

I've been a very happy film producer (commercial and long format) for over 20 years. But, the horses have always been foremost in my heart... Currently I live on a small ranch in California with my wonderful husband, 13 horses, 4 dogs, 3 cats and various woodland creatures. Life is good!

Equine Wizard Nutritionist, Gabrielle Sutton and… Mary Poppins had it Right! A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Wormer Go Down!

For those of you smart and lucky horse people who only have one horse, worming day is probably a very manageable day.  But, for us insane multiple horse owners, worming day leaves us shuttering like Lurch.  Thankfully, I’ve found a solution that really helps me, so I thought I’d pass it onward.

Gabrielle Sutton and KAM Animal Services

But first, thinking about worming made me think about Gabrielle Sutton.  This woman is a force in the Equine Nutrition world!  She received her initial education in Human Health as a nurse practitioner with advanced training in Naturopathic Medicine, Botanical Medicine, Nutrition as well as Homeopathy.  Then, people started asking her to help them with their horses.  Well, a new career opened up and she became just as proficient in Equine Nutrition, Equine Naturopathy and Homotoxocology.  She’s got chops.  Her business is called, KAM Animal Services.

Now, I know we all hear about herbs and herbal remedies.  I actually really believe that you are what you eat… same with equines.  And, we all know that most of our horses are living artificially on what we provide for them to eat,  not necessarily what they are craving or what they intrinsically need. We try our best to figure out what they could use nutritionally… “Hmmm, her coat looks dull” or “Gee, his feet seem to be chipping more this year” and “He has no energy “… and we purchase a nice supplement.

Obviously,  we are all kinda shooting from the hip, if you know what I mean.  For me, I just surmise what they probably need and go from there.  And, that has been mostly just fine.  But, I’m here to tell you, when you need to bring in the big guns, Gabrielle is a wizard.  This brainiac is so helpful and so knowledgeable, you want her to live out back planting a garden, mixing potions and fixing all your equine buddies’ ailments.  I was in awe and gaga when we had our initial conversation.  Well, it wasn’t really a conversation… she spoke, I listened trying to keep up, but it all made sense and I was sold!

All of her supplements and feeds she created herself.  All the ingredients are listed and she can tell you exactly what each one does, how it supports another and why it is in there.  She will also cite clinical trials and tell you more about metabolic disorders than you ever wanted to know — but need to know.  Oh yes, and SHE answers the phone.  Or, if Gabrielle is out of town (which she is quite often as she visits farms and horses all the time), she will call back or have her assistant call.  Wonderful.

Personally, Gabrielle came to my farm and helped me tremendously with a Cushings horse (she recommended an entire feeding regimen and it worked) as well as a supplement program for all of my horses. Her wealth of knowledge just bends you over backwards.  So, when you need to call in the cavalry to help your horse, put this info in your back pocket.  She is a genius.  Go to the website and you’ll see what I mean.  These aren’t your ordinary herbal concoctions for horses.  This is extraordinary stuff.

Anyway, back to the reason I’m thinking of Gabrielle —  she re-educated me on my worming schedule.  Without getting political, I’d like to say that there is generally no reason to worm your healthy horses every day or even every 3 months.  However, this is not going to be a favorable piece of information for the companies that make wormer… Really, Gabrielle taught me that unless the horse is showing signs of worms (and you can always do a fecal test every three months if you’d like), it could be detrimental over time to worm a horse every day or every three months for its entire life.

GABRIELLE’S SUGGESTED WORMING SCHEDULE (this could upset Pfizer or maybe your vet…)

SPRING:  5 day Power Pack (test to make sure you need it)  SUMMER:  Strongid   FALL:  Ivermectin or Equimax if you are in an area populated with Equine Tape worms.   That’s it.  Simple.

**Exciting news!  Gabrielle emailed this morning and told me about her Free workshop in May!  I’ve attached the flyer above. Please take the opportunity if you are interested!  Click on the flyer image and it should get bigger.  If not, the number to call for information is 970-309-4223.



So now that it is worming time, I wanted to share with you my worming experience.  I know you know it… the horse that raises his head just out of range of your wormer hand, the horse the puts its head up then down then up then down or the one that just won’t be caught on worming day.  Well, I have 10 of those.  Only two of my horses actually grin and bear it without letting me know how they feel about it.


I got sick of dealing with the Head Bobbing Olympics on worming day.  And, last year I rescued the wild mare who was NEVER going to take wormer.  I had to think of something that would steal less time and also administer to the wild one.  Grain.  I knew it had to do with grain.  So, the next time the vet was out, I asked if I could put paste in grain. Would that effect the wormer in any way?  Nope.  Hmmmmmmm. I put on my Mary Poppins hat and concocted a very easy recipe.  A spoonful of molasses with watered down grain and the paste all mixed together.  You really have to mix the paste — no big clumps or that gives it away. They can see a big clump a mile away.

As I tested my first batch, I knew I had to feed strategically because I didn’t want any one horse bullying the potion from another and then get too much wormer.  I very carefully fed everyone so no one thought anyone else had anything better.  For the lead horses, I put in more grain so they had more to do.  I put the babies in stalls and the rest were easy.  I gave them all their dishes and they ate their wormer just like they always ate their morning grain + supplements!  Yahoo!  And for the cook in the feed room, it took only a few more mins to add the water, paste and molasses, but they ate every bit!!  No more schmear on my coat and arms, no more schmear on their muzzles and no more waste on the ground as they spit out whatever they could maneuver.  Wahoo!  Worming Day made easy! (That’s my Gwen, slurping it up!)

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Horsey At-ti-tude! But not the kind you are thinking…

Horsey ‘Tude.  That’s what I’m sayin’.  But, not the regular ‘tude.  I don’t mean the horse who bucks or rears or doesn’t want to take the bit or the one who steps juuuuust slightly out of reach of the mounting block.  I mean the subtle, not quite a punishable act, but irritating nonetheless Horsey Attitude.   So, today we voyage into Horsey ‘Tude, Part 1.


Now, I don’t want to assume that any of your horses show you the tude that my horses show me.  And, I’m kinda miffed because all of my horses have some type of ‘shake your head and walk away’ attitude on occasion.  What does this mean?  Am I a bad owner?  Do I pick horses with personality quirks?  Do I pick horses that are exceptionally expressive?  Or, am I finally becoming the little old lady who lives in the shoe?…  I already know that I scare small children who wander into my yard.  So is this it for me?  Is the white jacket next?  Or, do your horses show you similar tude?

HORSEY OFFENDER #1  (Tess, the Meanderer)

OK, here is her deal.  If she is out grazing on the front pasture (free grazing in the irrigated area), and it is time to go in for dinner, she becomes deaf.  Yet, incredibly, she can sense when I am near and seems to move slowly but accurately just out of my reach with the halter.  She never looks at me, she never acknowledges that I am near.  In fact, the only hint I get that she actually knows I exist is when she pins the near ear in pissedoffness.  “I’m fine here.  Please go away.”

Now, Tess is an angel in every way.  She keeps the peace in the herd and all is right in the universe when she takes charge — which is always.  This mare always does what I ask and is perfect in every way.  Except in this way.  In fact, I have to start trying to gather her at least an hour before I really want her in.  I walk up from any and all directions and she puts out her “not gonna catch me” forcefield immediately.  And, it works.  I have to give up.  She won’t come for an apple, carrot, raisin or Powerball ticket.  The girl is set in her ways.

But, after an hour or thereabouts, she will lift her grassy muzzle, look over my way and say, “Hey, did you want me to come in?  Because I’m ready now if you want to come over and slip that rope around my neck.  Or, actually, I’ll just put myself away, if you don’t mind.”  And, she does.  I just wanna bite her.  But, I restrain myself and let her Highness pass in front of me and saunter into the barn and then onto her pasture where her dinner awaits.  She has me perfectly trained.

HORSEY OFFENDER #2  (Bodhi, the hose hater)

Bodhi is my husband’s horse.  He is a huge draft cross who could not be more sweet.  And because he is the sweetest horse, I cannot comprehend why he give me ‘tude.  Here is his drill.  Because he and Remi are such big horses, they go through a lot of water each day.  So, morning and night I fill their waterer.

Uh huh.  At least I try to fill their trough.  Bodhi thinks it is hysterical to foil me.  As I stumble out in the wee hours of the morning to feed, Bodhi is ready.  He waits for me to get to his pasture and throw the hay.  Now, you’d think he’d be hungry and dive right into his hay.  But no, he stands by the trough just waiting for me to put the hose into it.  So, I do.  And, he pushes it out with his nose.

Have you ever seen a horse snigger? Well, I have.  Yup, Bodhi’s ‘tude has to do with the hose and a very prominent snigger.  I don’t know if he doesn’t like the taste of rubber in his water, or if it reminds him of a snake or it he just likes to watch me turn red — which I suspect is the truth —  but he does this every day, twice a day.  I put the hose in, he throws it out.  I put the hose in, he throws it out.  After about three rounds, he leaves to go eat, thank goodness.  But, invariably, when I do my walk-by around noon, the hose is sitting in the dirt, just where he wants it.  I look over at him and he gives me that raspy “heh-heh” of that dastardly dawg, Muttley,  from those Warner Bros cartoons.  I swear I can hear him…

HORSEY OFFENDER #3 (Beautiful girl, the midriff policewoman)

OK, this mare has a slight right to be uber concerned about her midline under belly.  She had a very severe bug allergy when she was 2.  We don’t know how it started, but once the infection set in from gnats or some type of invisible nighttime biting and flying things, it took us a long time to heal her under belly.  This poor mare wore bright pink SWAT smeared on her belly for 5 months.  Perhaps this is the issue.  Perhaps she is scarred from those months of the wrong color fashion statement on this sorrel colored mare.  Or, perhaps the other horses chided her for the inside-out skunk decorations.  Dunno.  But, now, at 6 years old, this mare doesn’t want ANYONE putting any colored spread or girth let’s say, anywhere near her belly.

Perhaps you know how this goes?  I tie her to the trailer and start the grooming routine.  All is fine.  But, as we near the saddling process (and I do try to switch it up on her), she gives me that look.  You know the one.  “Uh, are you going to put that unsightly goo on my belly because if so, I’m going to bite you.”  I always comfort her and tell her that I have no goo.  She looks at me sideways and watches.  As I pull the girth from the opposite side, I see her eyeing me from between her front legs.  “What do you have there?  If you have anything cold and pink, I’m going to bite you.  I’m just warning you.”

So, I pull the girth to my side and barely attach it.  BG swings her head around and says, “Let me see your hands!  Show me your hands, Now!”  So, I show her my hands as her girth flaps about loosely.  “OK. OK, but I’m warning you, if you put any goo down there, I’m gonna bite you.”  Sigh.  I have to gently go through this process being ever so patient and responsive to every one of her intense horsey inquisitions.  Finally, she decides that I do not have any cold, pink yukky stuff and she relaxes.  OY.

This is also the mare that will tell me in no uncertain terms if the saddle doesn’t fit.  There is no way anyone could miss her cues.  Stevie Wonder would know she hated the saddle you just put on her.  No question, this girl has saddle and goo ‘tude.  But, actually, I kinda like the saddle ‘tude.  At least I know what feels good on her.  Oh, and for the record, she has never put tooth to flesh.  But, I kinda think she would if I brought out any goo and didn’t warm it first…  Is she a princess or am I her slave?  The good news is that she is the most sensible trail horse I have.  So, I accept her ‘tude.  I’m wrapped around her little goo hating hoof!

HORSEY OFFENDER #4 (Norma, the stonewall donkey)

I think this may be universal donkey ‘tude, but I’m not sure.  If Norma doesn’t want to do something, she won’t.  She WON’T.  There is nothing I can do, say, pull, push, tug, swat, scare, whoop or cajole her into doing if she doesn’t want to do it.  She will stand there most graciously and do nothing.  She won’t buck or nip or anything.  She just won’t.  No matter how I ask, how sweetly I suggest or how much food I have in my hand, she will not do anything until she is ready.

So, I have learned to suggest to Norma and then walk away.  Basically, she is a good girl who wants to do the right thing, she just needs time to decide what the right thing for her truly would be.  And, once she comes to her conclusion, she usually trots along and does what I had initially asked.  But, I have to “wait for it… waaaait for it” with Norma.

Now the sad part is that she really doesn’t ultimately trust me.  I don’t think, anyway.  I mean, I ask her to do several things in a day and she won’t do any of them without a huge preponderance of ponder.  I swear, I can call her back to her pen with a bucket of grain and the ponies will come running from far and wide.  But, Norma, no way.  She will sit there and ponder.  After I’ve put away the ponies and everyone is settled, she’ll come running over and demand to be let into her pen.  “After all, I BELONG in there!  How could you shut the gate without me inside!”  I suffer the attitude and the indignity of being called out by a donkey.  A very beautiful and long lashed, gentle and delicate, stonewall donkey.  She kills me.  And, to be honest, I’d kinda like to be just like her.

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