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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

DIY Hay Steamer

Dreamy has suffered from heaves/COPD/RAO since 2003.  Her history is here.  Basically, it is a breathing issue that has changed names several times, but it is sort of like asthma in humans.  I have soaked her hay for years and spent winters feeding her chopped forage from Lucerne Farms (read more about that here) since soaking hay in a Maine winter is impossible.

Soaking hay is a pain, but I have developed an excellent system.  I use a big heavy duty muck bucket (purchased just for this purpose, so it is clean and save for food use), a muck bucket cart on wheels, and a big rock.  LOL!  The hay is set into the muck bucket, I fill the bucket with water, and I use the rock on top so the hay actually stays in the water and doesn't float to the top.  When it is time to feed the hay, I tip the entire thing over and let it drain for 10 minutes.  Then, I tipped it right side up and wheel it into Dreamy's stall.

It works, even though it is a pain.  The worse part is how mucky it makes the area, since I am dumping a 70 quart bucket twice a day.  I have to dump the water in a specific part of my barnyard to minimize the "swamp".  Plus, I can only do it in the warmer months.  

I have coveted a professional hay steamer for a long time...OK, for nine years.  LOL!  The smallest "travel" hay steamer runs about $350 and the half bale steamer is more like $1500.  I don't think the travel steamer would work that great (that bag looks like a PITA). And I just cannot spend $1500.  So what is a girl to do?

This past summer, my dad helped me design a hay steamer!  It is pretty awesome and it works great! 

Why steam hay instead of soak it?  Here is an article, but basically this is the run-down:

  • Soaking hay can leech out the nutrients and sugars, but steaming does not
  • Steaming hay ensures all spores and bacteria are killed
  • Soaking hay is cumbersome and messy
  • It is less expensive to steam hay all winter than buy the chopped forage product
  • Steaming hay is easy, but you do need to time it correctly
  • Steamed hay smells sooooo good!!

This is my homemade hay steamer!  I gave my dad the design and he created it for me!  No more soaking hay in big muck tubs and making a mess!  Yay!

This is the inside of the tote.  You can see how the steam enters the unit on the middle left, then comes to a T.  The holes are drilled to allow the steam to encompass all the hay. The larger pipe pieces along the outside of the tote are just to keep the hay up off the drilled holes.

This is the attachment where the steamer connects to the unit.


  1. Ooh, looks wonderful! You'll have to do a 'product review' in a few months time & let us know how its working out ;)

  2. BRILLIANT! Cool also suffers from breathing problems and allergies...can your dad make me one? Lol!

  3. Great work Dad! We have a few horses at our barn who get their hay soaked - I never had heard of steaming hay. Bet they would love to have one of those!

  4. Whoa. COOL! Barley also has COPD/heaves - we just water down his hay as much as possible, but it is a pain.


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