Mother Nature seems to be making it very challenging for area equestrians! With frigid temperatures, snow, deluges of rain for days, flooding…ugh! Now she is bringing the winds from the north!
How do we handle days like these at Woodland? Our fabulous barn staff are very well trained in keeping our horses happy and healthy when the out-of-doors is unpleasant and unsafe.
So the horses need to stay in…why?? Horses and ponies love to get into “trouble” under the best circumstances. But with slippery mud and/or snow the chance of injury easily triples. A pulled muscle or strained tendon takes a long time to recover from so spending a day inside is worth it in the long run. Better safe than sorry…we want to help keep all the horses healthy and uninjured.
The first thing we do is make sure all horses have a super-clean, full bucket of water. Many horses prefer to drink vigorously from the big troughs we have in the pastures. So keeping their water buckets appealing is critical. Ten gallons a day in water consumption is average. Next is plenty of hay to keep their tummies happy. With hay and water in their stomachs they generate heat through the digestive process. This is important as horse turned out can run and play and warm up their bodies as needed. In the stall they cannot do what is natural to them. The horses at Woodland get hay at least four times a day during normal times. When kept in we add a feeding or two and a more generous amount! We may also reduce the amount of grain just a bit as they are not burning off those extra calories.
During cold weather we also need to pay attention to whether the horses need blankets or sheets. As they are not able to move about normally they may need a little more to wear to stay comfortably warm. But, we must be careful to not over-blanket as a sweaty horse will get cold and clammy and unhealthy very quickly. It is a fine line and we may change them from blankets to sheets or vice versa more than once in a day. That’s a lot of work but it another aspect of horse-care that must be monitored.
Then there is boredom. Horses kept in for a single day don’t usually suffer from boredom but two or three days of being cooped up can get under their skin. Lots of hay helps but a stall toy can be a diversion and a visit from you really is great. Take this opportunity to spend lots of grooming time if you can get to the barn. It feels so good and supports the bond you and your horse have developed.
Ok…the horses have been cooped up for days. What do we do? Thank heavens we have an indoor ring. The barn staff will turn out horses that play well with each other in small groups so they can get their ya-ya’s out. Every horse and pony will get a couple hours to play and move their bodies as nature intended. Below is video of my horse, Flint along with my husband’s horse Peso and a couple of cohorts in crime having an excellent time while it absolutely pours down rain outside…enjoy the shenanigans!! It rained for four days straight and all came thru with flying colors!!
All in all the horses and ponies tolerate the change in their routine. They are extremely adaptable critters!
The care we give is an extension of the love and respect we have for them. It’s good to be a Woodland horse or pony!!