Thursday, December 10, 2009

Walking the Aisle (Whine Alert!)

It's 0F this morning and the wind is howling - around 25mph - so wind chills are well below zero. This is a picture I took last year which shows about what I look like when I go out to (briefly) walk the dog and head to the barn:

I'm not going to win any fashion contests, but whatever works!

When it's this cold, with windchills below zero, the horses have to stay in, since we have no indoor to turn out in and our pastures have no shelters or even windbreaks. So I'm walking the barn aisle with my three horses, and then I walk them again in the afternoon at around feeding time, and also pick stalls. I also make a trip at noon to the barn to check on hay and water. Our barn's unheated, and uninsulated, so the temperatures can get down into the single digits inside - that shouldn't happen today since it usually requires outside air temperatures well below zero for that to happen. The coldest it's gotten inside the barn is 8F one day last winter when the outside air temperatures were -20F with serious wind - I think the wind chill was around -30.

This morning the temperature was 12F inside the barn, and the toll was one failed GFI - we now have a heated bucket on an extension cord until my husband can replace the GFI, one dead water bucket which was replaced, and the frost-free water outlet in the barn aisle is frozen because someone didn't let it drip when it was turned off. He's over there right now trying to thaw it with a hair dryer, and hoping the pipe doesn't burst. The worst thing is that this isn't even my facility, and we pay the same board for our horses as everyone else. I can see a new boarding barn in our future, but then I won't have the same degree of involvement in my horses' care, which isn't for the best. But I really think my husband and I can no longer deal with our substandard facilities and the excessive amount of work they require.

Now our barn aisle isn't long - about 75 feet, I'd guess - or very wide. So the horses and I tromp up (then turn) and down (then turn) for about 10 minutes each. Although the floor is concrete, and hard on feet and legs - theirs and mine - it's better than nothing. I let Maisie and Noble, but not Dawn, do a bit of socializing as we walk. I'm a big believer in movement helping to prevent problems such as colic. So up and down we go - I'm pretty discouraged today, but with luck we'll be able to turn out tomorrow!


  1. Ack! That sounds awful! Hope it clears up and calms down soon so you can do turnout.

  2. Ooh Kate you look scarey!!!! Only kidding whatever works to keep you warm!

  3. Boy I feel for you on all fronts - the frozen buckets, poor care, freezing wind etc... We ended up insulating one barn wall ourselves at a former facility and it made a HUGE difference - unbelievable to me so I know insulation is going to be done when I get my own place!

    Stay warm!

  4. We've been in the deep freeze here too. I bundle up like you and as long as it is not windy, I can handle sub zero temps long enough to get the chores done. Hope you warm up soon.

  5. Oh Kate, you sound rather fed up, I know it's winter but it sounds pretty tough and rather hard work for you, hope you get to turnout tomorrow.

    Love the cold weather gear, looks like some special forces uniform ;-)

    Keep warm!

  6. Oh my! I have never been so thankful I live in florida until I read your post. Brrrr

  7. Hang in there! It's frustrating to do all that extra (free) work to make a boarding barn work for you (been there, done that--for years!). I've since moved on, and altho I truly prefer boarding where I am now, there are still times I miss the do-whatever-you-like freedom of the old place.

    My husband and I finally bought a small place of our own, and keep it the way we like as well as our finances permit, and it's great--but there's nowhere to ride, especially in the winter--so I now board out my "working" horse. My old guy and his pony buddy live here at home.

    There's good and bad about everything, but you know that...and probably just wanted to vent a little.
    Winter stinks!

  8. Oh Boy Kate! When it is that cold heavy gear is needed. I agree with you on the handwalking in the aisles when it gets that cold. It's just to dangerous for some of them to be outside when it is that cold and without protection.

  9. Oh Kate! That isn't right, you two having to take care of everything. Don't worry - I believe it all works out in time - you have warm sunny days coming with fabulous horse care - it probably is just around the corner. Every time I am most frustrated and irrated with my situation, a turn of events makes it better. Until then, try to think warm happy thoughts and keep bundling up. That photo is great! All the winter horse caretakers look like aliens. My mom always says that we look like the Michelin Man or the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man in our winter gear!

  10. I don;t think it is going to get anywhere near that cold where I am in Australia but I am liking your outfit so I think I will look for something similar for next winter! Today there was a cool breeze and it was about 9 degrees when I went out to feed this morning and I thought it was freezing!!!!! Nothing compared to what you are facing.

    I hope you work things out at the stables, it is very frustrating when you can't do and don't have the bascis that you require!

  11. Kate, when I saw that bright yellow suit in the thumbnail I thought it was a chemical suit or something, and thought, "What on earth?" LOL!

    No, that isn't right that you are doing everything. But just think -- if (or when) you leave, they will realize how much you did, and they'll regret not making you happier! That thought ought to be satisfying, even if leaving the horses to their bad management is not.

  12. Sorry -- bright yellow hat with the grey "suit". LOL

  13. I will never complain about our winters here to you again! That is some SERIOUS COLD weather. I am having flashbacks to winter in Vermont. I was too wimpy but the snow was pretty . . .

    Is there any way you can bill the board for your extra time or have more deducted from your board? You and your husband are doing way to much gratis and it is not fair. You have a life just as all of the other boarders do. Or maybe the co-op could set up a rotating system of boarders who are 'on-call' to deal with the non-routine problems that always come up?

    There is nothing like the trials of winter to absolutely break both your spirit and your back when it comes to running a farm (and you aren't even technically supposed to be running it!). Hang in there, better weather ahead, hopefully soon.

  14. Kate,
    Your outfit looks warm - and that's what matters. Im famous for showing up at the barn with totally mismatched clothes. Function over fashion in this weather! My boy had to stay inside the other day too for the same reasons. Winter totally stinks! I think I would take the extra work if I could have my horse close to home. My 35 min drive feels like an hour and a half when the back roads are covered with snow. My most frustrating thing to deal with is finally getting a day off and not being able to see my boy because it's snowing and I won't make it with my 2 wheel drive car. The trade-off is that Grif gets excellent care. Life is full of trade-offs and sometimes it really sucks. I hope things get better for you soon. Sending hugs your way!

  15. I was dealing with a frozen hose bib and a blow dryer just yesterday, Sunds like a lot of work for a boarding facility! Mine is my own so warts and all I get to deal with it .

  16. Gosh. I have some of those same issues myself, but my horse is kept at home in our own barn. I think I'd be very unhappy if I was paying to board my horse at such a difficult place to provide good care for your horses during the winter.

    Yep. Winter sure does make life challenging. There's no point in me stalling my mare here as she has access 24/7 to our 3-sided barn. It's not insulated either, but it pretty cozy because it provides a great windbreak and gets the sun all morning inside, as it faces East. We also have some trees in our paddocks to give our horse some extra windbreak if she prefers hanging outside.

    Our temps have already been down to the single digits and winds in the 30-40 mph range.
    But unless it's raining or snowing I don't tend to blanket either and just let my horse go where she is most comfortable.

    I hope things improve around there for you and your horses and I hope they are able to get outside for some turn-out more often.

    Stay warm (You look warm in that face mask! lol)


  17. You have MORE THAN THE RIGHT TO WHINE in my book! OMG! I would die. I grew up on a farm and had to do the barn chores in sub zero temps. as a 10-12 yr. old in Ohio! BLLLAAAAHHH!
    I am so scarred. Thus, only warm climes for me! Or mostly warm anyway!
    Come to my blog and enter in my giveaway if you haven't already.... I think you did...but I can't remember off the top of my in need of coffee head! :P

  18. Hey Kate, I totally understand! Today maybe ours can be out too. The sun is shining and there's a little wind but we have dry lots we can put the horses out into that all have shelter. They've been in for two days now (temps of 9 degrees and fierce wind) but we take each one to the indoor round pen and let them run around for a while....rotating them all in there at least an hour allows us to clean out the stalls that are a mess after being in all day! When these temps are so low we leave them in because we don't have heated water out in the dry lots to drink. I'm putting them out after noon for a high of 24 degrees! Slowly getting warmer again and Monday a high of 42 degrees! Keep warm..!

  19. Luckily, my Boys have plenty of windbreaks and shelters to use. And the sun is out. But it is not as cold as out your way, although everything is frozen.

    I just posed the concept that boarding out is not the best for most of us on my blog. No matter how good the care, it just isn't the same as when you do it yourself.

    Wishing you warmer weather, and a barn of your own sooner than later.

  20. When I was a groom in Northern Germany we had to wait for the snow plough to get the horses to the indoor. I have never been so cold nor worn so many layers of clothes. All the barn cats slept on the horses rumps for warmth. It was always funny to see a new horse react as a cat launched itself from the door to get onboard. A few cartoon like moments with cats sliding down the side of a horse who shied away. They always got used to each other though.
    I totally agree about walking even for a short time. You are making a huge difference to their circulation and digestion. I hope it warms up for you soon.

  21. Thanks for all the nice comments!

    English Rider - I love the idea of barn cats sleeping on horse rumps! Ours have heated mats, so perhaps they've never thought to try.

  22. LOL! Love the title of "Whine alert!" so true and I'm right there with you! Brrrr..winter horse time is tough. There are those glorious days of soft snow and sunshine where riding is fun and cotton candy-esce, but then there is the frigid cold where your blood freezes!! Stay warm!! May I recommend something called "Cuddle Duds" undergarments (shirts/pants that are thin) that help me keep warmer than death out there. I found mine at Target! LOVE them!


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