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The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1)In-Sight


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2022/07/22


Adelle Stewart founded Prime Equine in 2017. She has more than 25 years of horse experience. She has showed, competed, trained, and managed a stable. She discusses: earlier indications of interest in horses; the cohort; mentors or exemplars; the summer camps; a cowgirl; common wisdom; the elements of different seasons; colicky; rolling around and thrashing; other conditions; biomechanics; heal in irregular circumstances; the state of nature; a herd; acres of land; areas in Canada known as places for horses to live; facilities; Prime Equine; acreage for horses; horses on site; the capacity; hay; nutritional value of hay; specific types of hay or supplements; and the major deficiencies found in horses.

Keywords: Adelle Stewart, colic, equestrianism, hay, horses, Prime Equine.

The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citations after the interview.*

*Interview conducted January 12, 2022.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, today, we’re here with Adelle Stewart. This is part of an educational equestrian series. It’s from the point of view of a greenhorn, myself. To start, what were some of the earlier indications of interest in horses or becoming active in equestrianism as a youngster?

Adelle Stewart[1],[2]: Yes, I have to say that it’s like you’re born with it, honestly, like it’s this disease [Laughing]. I don’t know. Some people call it that you’re born with horses in your blood, horse for causes, or obsessive actions with horses. So, yes, I don’t remember a time that I didn’t love them. From a toddler, I would have to ride the merry go rounds and the carousels at the fair in the summer and things like that. And I was obsessed over horse books and all of those things. It always was an innate feeling or draw towards them for me.

Jacobsen: Is this common among the cohort for yourself? Even intergenerationally, is it a common thing?

Stewart: Yes, usually, absolutely. I had a mother who was wild into horses when she was younger, gave them up to raise a family, and then got back into them once the kids had left the nest and things like that. So, most of the people that I connect with, they have always had this knowing, as being from a young child involvement into horses.

Jacobsen: Did you have any mentors or exemplars that came to mind, like other than your mom, on the equine circuit as you were growing up?

Stewart: No, I was a farm kid trapped in the city. I was born and raised in the city and needed to, as soon as I was of age, buy my own place or whatever, as I got out to the country. So, it was always something. I didn’t know anybody who had horses when I was a young kid growing up. I grew and navigated towards becoming a vet when I grew up. Anything that could get me more into horses. But it wasn’t until I was about 9 or 10 years old that I started going to summer camps, and then those people there became my idols where I learned how to ride as a preteen and things like that. Those people at that barn became idols for me at that age.

Jacobsen: What do you do at the summer camps other than learning how to ride?

Stewart: Well, there would be like overnight camps. So, sometimes we would have day camps but other times we stayed in the bunkhouse. So, we had to get up early in the morning before we had breakfast. We had to take care of the horses and bed them down, clean their stalls, and pitch the hay before we fed ourselves. So, we learned how to be cowgirls.

Jacobsen: How do you define a cowgirl?

Stewart: A cowgirl doesn’t have to ride horses. They have to be independent. They have to be gritty, have a lot of heart and a lot of passion for what they do. This is, I say, being an equestrian or being a cowgirl or a life with horses. People say, “Well, that must be a lot of work”. And I was like,” You know what, it’s a lot of work, it is, but it’s a lifestyle.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing] I’ve heard it so many times now. What are other pieces of common wisdom within the industry other than “it’s a lifestyle,” “you start young,” etc.?

Stewart: Yes, it’s like ‘put your big girl britches on’ or like ‘put your boots on and deal with it,’ really. It’s that type of thing because you have no other choice. You are dealing on a daily basis with living, breathing beings that are 10-12 times your size with independent mind, body, and soul. So, every day that you wake up and you’re thankful. The fences can be down, or horses can be down, or someone can have a laceration, or any of those things. So, at any time, an equestrian or cowgirl has to be ready to deal with every element of the unknown. So, it goes hand in hand with why it’s a lifestyle. You have to be absolutely adaptable to any situation, but also rigid on your horse husbandry skills and things like that on a day to day basis.

Jacobsen: How do the elements of different seasons impact the way you work with a horse?

Stewart: Hugely. They impact them from what we can do with our horses. For example, we went through a big cold snap, where we can’t work our horses. It wasn’t conducive to put them into increasing the respiration rates and things like that in terms of a husbandry or welfare point of view. But then it comes down to everything from our exercise to the safety of it; when spring and fall come in, their footing becomes an issue if you’re not riding indoors and things like that. We don’t have an indoor facility. So, we work with whatever mother nature gives us. And then one of the ways that I gravitate more towards is the horse health aspect of it and weather swings. We had a 50 degree weather swing, honestly, from minus 50 with the wind-chill to plus 2 degrees today. That barometric pressure changes can cause extreme stress on horses’ very sensitive digestive system. So, we’re on what we call ‘colic watch’, which is a gastrointestinal issue with animals that they’re so sensitive to that. So, their health is a big part of the welfare that the seasonal changes play as well.

Jacobsen: What does a horse do when it becomes colicky?

Stewart: Symptoms can be very mild. So, they can have a tummy ache; something as simple as laying down and looking at their stomach to pawing with their front foot. Some of them will try to kick with their back foot or back up, which is something that’s weird. A horse doesn’t normally in the wild or hanging out in the pasture, backing up is an unnatural gait for them. So, sometimes backing up will be a symptom of that at a very early stage, but then as the tummy ache progresses; it would be like laying down, rolling and thrashing, which is when things get dangerous.

Jacobsen: When it gets dangerous like that when they’re rolling around and thrashing, can they actually worsen their own symptoms by doing so?

Stewart: Yes, absolutely. The rolling and thrashing can cause what’s called a torsion colic. That’s actually a twisted gut, which then is either only survivable by operation if it can be operated.

Jacobsen: What are other conditions for horses, where the only option for the horse owner is honestly to not have the horse anymore?

Stewart: Yes, the biggest one – I mean, anything can happen by determining the severity of it, but the next to major one from colic would be a leg fracture or a leg break. They’re not like a dog, where they can get along well with three legs and amputate. They must have four pillars to stand on. So, a leg break or a fracture below the knee is usually a fatal injury in a horse.

Jacobsen: What is it about their biomechanics that requires four legs absolutely, 100%?

Stewart: It has mostly to do with what would be called a compensatory laminitis. So, a horse’s hoof is a capsule like a fingernail; even more rigid, so it doesn’t have a lot of breathing room. A horse puts 60% of their weight on their front legs even breaking that in half to carry all of that weight. A horse’s shoulder is not connected by a joint; they don’t have a clavicle like a human does or anything like that especially in the front feet. All the shoulder is connected by only tendon, muscle, and ligament. So, when you take a foot away from them, they develop that compensatory laminitis, which is a swelling of the hoof capsule or inside the hoof capsule, which is debilitatingly and cruelly painful to a horse. So, that becomes the secondary and most often factor that plays into why a leg break or fracture. It’s not that the fracture can’t heal. It’s the length of time that it would take to heal that puts too much strain on the other limb.

Jacobsen: How long would it take to heal in irregular circumstances?

Stewart: Like, you’re talking months of box rest or stall rest, probably, and then rehab from that.

Jacobsen: In the state of nature, would the horse survive?

Stewart: No, they would be left by the herd.

Jacobsen: How many horses are in a herd typically? What’s the range?

Stewart: It depends from farm to farm. We have three horses in one pasture and six in another and other people will run 50 head together. So, it depends on land and acreage that a person has.

Jacobsen: How many acres of land would an average farmer have and will be the upper limit, really?

Stewart: I think hobby farmers in Western Canada or like across Canada are mostly in that, like five to 50 acres, would be a hobby farm. And here, where I run a little bit more of a ranch, so we’re your 50 plus. So, 50-160 acres would be a little bit bigger like you’re second tier. And then above that you’re talking, that would be more cattle ranch sizes more than 100 or 160 acres. It isn’t all that common for the general horse owner.

Jacobsen: What areas in Canada tend to be known as places for horses to live and live well?

Stewart: Hot spot in Canada absolutely is Alberta; has the most horses per capita, in every discipline, from English to Western and all of those types of things. So, Alberta is an absolute hot spot, Saskatchewan probably following that, maybe second or third, potentially with Ontario, with the capita of people that exist there.

Jacobsen: And what facilities tend to be known for jumper, hunter, for eventing, for dressage?

Stewart: Those are a little bit further reach. I’m a Western girl myself, but, in Alberta, you’re talking like Spruce Meadows is probably the most famous or iconic place in Canada when we think about show jumpers and things like that.

Jacobsen: For Prime Equine, what was the vision when founding?

Stewart: I’ve always been a girl who wanted to make a living with horses. I wasn’t a skilled enough jockey to ride my way there. I wasn’t a skilled enough trainer to train my way there. So, I actually started out as an equine first aid instructor. I received my advanced certification for that in 2017 and it ended up blossoming and growing from there. So, we started carrying retail products, and then expanded and started creating our own course content and our own education. My real passion is helping the average horse owner, which I once was, become exceptional. So, pushing forward the care and the husbandry for our horses; they don’t ask to be rode, they don’t ask to be kept between our fences and things like that as wild creatures. My vision and my passion is helping horse owners create the best lifestyle for their horses in our captivity.

Jacobsen: How many acres does a horse typically need at one facility?

Stewart: It depends. I’m a big advocate of horses on full turnout. So, there are some places, who keep horses in like 12×12 stalls, or they may be spend the night in the stall and in the day in a 20×40 run called a paddock or a corral. And I don’t love that. I love keeping my horses as natural as possible. So, a horse that was kept in that sort of facility needs to be on 24/7 hay as their primary forage whereas, I run my horses on a pasture on full turnout. So, they need to average. It usually depends on the rainfall and things like that each year. But for each horse to graze for our grazing season that we have in Canada, you typically need three to five acres per animal.

Jacobsen: How many horses do you have on site now?

Stewart: We have 11 horses and three miniature donkeys here.

Jacobsen: What’s the capacity for you in terms of having donkeys, having horses? How do you differentiate between how many you want of each? Because there are resource limits, there’s what you had beforehand or the previous year in terms of the finances, the clients, etc., putting limits on what you can do in the future. So, there’s a historical context that sets boundaries on what can be done in the future along with what you’re doing right now. So, what are the logistical steps around that?

Stewart: Yes, we’re extremely weather dependent and very conservative. So, we are scaled back right now. And with human talent and resources but primary forage, having enough forage for the animals to graze on the grass and the pastures on their turnout for as long as possible. And then we start thinking for what our capacity is for the fall. We start thinking about that in July when we have or not had a significant amount of rainfall. So, we are watching the amount of snow we get. So, now from January till April, I am considering the amount of snow we get. Through spring, I am watching how fast that melts off because the faster it melts, the worse for us honestly, the worse that the hay crop is going to be.

And then through May and July, we’re watching how much rain we get. And so, if we start not getting very much precipitation through those months, I will stop intake for horse boarders for the rest of the year because that means hay is going to be sparse. When it’s sparse, it’s more expensive. And then even at that, the existing clientele that we have here at that point in time when the end of July rolls around, and we’re forecasting when we start making projections to increase board and things like their rent. It can have a turnover effect when they can find somewhere cheaper to go and things like that. So, that’s how we start mitigating it. And then if you do get a constant hay supplier; I’m very lucky. I have a constant hay supplier that I am actually purchasing extra hay. So, for the last two years, because we’ve had more drought years, when I can get good hay, I bring in more than I need because it can last for several years at a time as long as it’s stored well. So, all of those things, it’s a strategic and multi-year. You’re talking one and three year plans for taking horses at that level.

Jacobsen: How do you store your hay?

Stewart: Our square bale hay is stored inside. And then when we do buy round bales, they are stored in rows outside in the elements, but they’re net wrapped. And then when we feed them, we peel off those outer layers, so the inner parts that are still nutritious and palatable for the horses is what’s fed.

Jacobsen: And what can typically ruin the nutritional value of hay rapidly?

Stewart: Yes, the biggest thing is knowing your hay supplier and understanding the moisture content that it was bailed out. And the biggest thing that will ruin hay is hay that is put up with too much moisture because it will mold and rot from the inside out and hay with mold in it is something that will cause colic in horses. So, it’s absolutely not able to be fed. And then other things like grains or the types of hay, whether it’s a grass or legume like alfalfa; all of those types of things go into the nutritious value of it. The older the hay is the more you have to supplement. If the hay is a year or two old, I have a background in equine nutrition, so we can make up that difference if we’re feeding two-year-old hay. Through both our forage analysis which we have done every year and then calculating for the mineral deficiencies that would continue with the length of time, we can make that up through a grain or a supplement.

Jacobsen: For some clients particularly, they want more specific types of hay or supplements, etc., for their horse and they’re willing to pay a lot of money. How does this calculate into a ranch owner or someone who runs a stable, their calculations for food expenses?

Stewart: Yes, that’s your major accounts payable-receivable types of things. So, I am lucky that I am probably one of the pickiest people when it comes to equine nutrition and balancing forage. Over the last 10 years that I have done testing of our hay, I have not found any hay; it can look as beautiful as you want it to and please any owner to the eye, but, unless you’re testing it, you have no idea what is in it. So, we test our hay every year and I’ve never found hay that doesn’t have some sort of mineral deficiency in it; it’s normal. So, we understand what that is. So, then we can offer our forage analysis results up to our owners, so they can either take their own and build their own nutrition plan or I can consult with them about what their horse needs; because not only is there some major deficiencies in, maybe, the forage but each horse span as an individual, their age, their workload, all of those things play into the amount of supplementation that they may need for the winter that we’re feeding.

Jacobsen: What are the major deficiencies found in horses in the hay?

Stewart: From the last 10 years that we’ve been testing a major imbalanced ratio of calcium to phosphorus. So, our hay here anyway is very high in calcium and very low in phosphorus. And that’s a detrimental imbalance to have because too much calcium in a diet can turn your muscle- and tendon-like tissue into bone-like tissue. So, the stuff that we need to be very flexible for our athletes; those ligaments and muscles, can become too tight. And that can cause injury. So, you need to have that two to one appropriate ratio. And that’s a major deficiency that we see here. And then the second major, it’s not a deficiency, but it’s actually way too much; we have way too much iron in both our water and our hay from everything that we’ve tested. So, we need to balance the copper, zinc, and manganese. You need to increase those ratios to correlate to the excess iron that they’re receiving in their diets. And things like iron can lead to insulin resistance and other types of diseases of that type in horses, there’s a correlation there. So, off the top of my head, those are the biggest ones as well as sugar and starch. Horses don’t need a lot of carbs if they are not elite athletes. So, that’s another thing that can cause again, that insulin type resistance issue.


[1] Founder, Prime Equine – Equine Assisted Learning Center & Equine First Aid Academy.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 22, 2022:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2022:


American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1)[Online]. July 2022; 30(E). Available from:

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2022, July 22). The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1). Retrieved from

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 30.E, July. 2022. <>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2022. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 30.E.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 30.E (July 2022).

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2022, ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 30.E. Available from: <>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2022, ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 30.E.,

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 30.E (2022): July. 2022. Web. <>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 13: Adelle Stewart on Horses, Hay, and Prime Equine (1)[Internet]. (2022, July 30(E). Available from:


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