Friday, December 20, 2013

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Ruffy begging for carrots
If only I had more time in my days. With all the recent snow we've had, I'm dying to get out and play; but I've been foiled by work. No skiing, no snowshoeing, no skijoring, and no riding. And now we're supposed to get rain and freezing rain for the weekend! Bah humbug, I say!

John and I drove out to the barn early on Monday. The mercury hovered in the single digits. At my last look, the thermometer read 2 F. Yowza--that's cold! And of course I wheedled John about putting blankets on the ponies. He reassured me, yet again, that they would be fine with hay to eat. I'm trying to break myself of the blanket habit, except when truly necessary.

When we got Harley, he was underweight and needed blanketing since he didn't have the fat reserves. The same held true when we acquired the mares. You can see how it's hard for me to say "no blanket" when the snow squeaks with cold, the icy night sky shimmers with stars, and the horses' breath steams over their warm buckets of mash. I constantly run my hands over Harley's plush sides, making sure he's holding his weight. John has come up with the perfect recipe for happy horses: beet pulp, rice bran, flax seed and corn oil, all stirred together with hot water into a thick porridge. The horses enjoy their mash more than their grain. And we top the meal off with bulging hay bags.

Harley waiting for breakfast
So on frosty Monday morning, as I turned the gang out, I figured John must be right. What's the first thing they all did? Each horse had a nice roll in the snow. Afterward, they shook off the snow and had a nice game of tag until I brought out the buckets of grain.

This time of year, many posts on blogs talk about the need (or not) to blanket horses. I guess if I look at the bright side; no blankets means less laundry, less chance of an accident with the straps, and definitely a happier Ruffy! She hates the static electricity, poor girl. I just have to remind myself that Dale Simanton's Gate to Great OTTB's are running around in South Dakota without blankets and it's certainly much colder in his neck of the woods!

As we approach the winter solstice, I'm looking forward to the lengthening days. Getting up in the dark, coming home in the dark, and no riding in between makes for grim days. I get in my morning sled ride down the hill, delivering hay, but aside from shoveling, that's about all the snow play I've had thus far.

Here's a silly picture of me after my sled ride and mucking stalls. It was so cold my face felt like it was about to crack! You can see all the frosty condensation around my hood. Brrrrr!

1 comment:

  1. I love your picture - you look like a blissful, happy horse owner! I think we all radiate with horsey love! Sorry it is so cold and nasty and dark! It is all going to get better now - minute by minute we are going to get longer days! Hooray!

    I went through many sleepless nights about blankets and no blankets and I am here in Pennsylvania - rare single digits. I definitely think feeding good quality hay is the answer - it runs their internal heat pump. My boys are outside every single night all year round. When they came they were all underweight so I kept them inside, but I didn't blanket them ever. Once they gained weight they were transitioned to outside all year round.

    I think John is right - you can trust in nature. It is tough when we are freezing! One particularly fretful night I worried and worried and begged for "the answer" about cold and horses. I looked out my window at dawn and my neighbor's cows were happily plodding around through big snow drifts in freezing temperatures even though they had a warm barn to get in. Their hooves and legs must be more similar to horses than my legs so I reasoned that I could stop worrying. It hasn't worked completely, but I worry a lot less!


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