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Buff was one of my favourite show galloways. He was a dual registered Riding Pony / Saddle Pony gelding and Buff and I attended years of shows together. Prior to my buying him he had successully competed at the Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane Royal Shows on several occasions, even staying on the road doing the regional NSW/SEQ show season for many weeks at a time. He had "been there-done that" and was totally at ease with any sideshow ride, fireworks display, camels, alpacas, chainsaw races, trotters and the generally heady atmosphere of ag shows.
I loved the fact that I could canter him right alongside the trotting track in his workouts and have the trotters, on their very noisy final lap, roar right up behind him without him batting an eyelid. He would always win his pleasure galloway class too, single rein, snaffle bit on a super loose rein.
However there were a few occassions when his behaviour was totally out of character and nervy both at shows and at home. He was even freaking out at the wood ducks walking through his own paddock. This would last for a few weeks and then he'd return to normal. After about the third time this happened I was at a total loss as to why. Rob happened to point out that Buff's "episodes" happened following an influx of Lucerne Flea and Jassids. Jassids are the tiny little green insects that suck the sap out of lucerne, killing the plant. These are also the guys who manage to sneak through your screens and annoy you at night.
Anyway we worked it out and the times where he was having trouble was when the lucerne was being sprayed for Jassids and other pests. Conventional lucerne farmers don't spray that often but it was certainly affecting Buff's behaviour when I did buy a horsefloat load at the wrong time.
Insecticides used on lucerne are 'organophosphates', described as 'neuro-toxins', killing insects by affecting their nervous system. With that in mind I got onto some of Rob's organic hay and Buff returned to normal.
He went on to many more wins, being retired at age 20 and living a very happy, healthy retirement until having to be put to sleep at age 33. I was so proud of him winning his last Supreme Sash at age 19 at Crow's Nest Show. He won every galloway class, including pleasure, Champion Galloway, Supreme Hack of the Show and carried me to a first and Champion Lady Rider.
I am convinced that buying Certified Organic Hay for your horse is the way to go. Even if it costs a bit more it's worth every penny for the pleasure, safety (big one!!), and sheer enjoyment that a calm relaxed horse can deliver.