As I filled water tanks, enjoying my time watching the horses in turnout, water vapor was swirling over the surface of the heated tanks - it almost looked like smoke. The mares apparently decided yesterday to drag the cylindrical core of their round bale almost 50 yards from the feeder - I'm not sure how they managed that, but I went out to check it - no signs of strings (I'm fanatical about checking for strings) and no sign that anyone ingested a string yesterday - it's amazing what they can get up to!
And now to one of my pet peeves - blanket fit. One of the more labor-intensive aspects of our barn is blanketing. We don't have any horses clipped for show, and some of our horses, although not all, grow impressive winter coats, but our pastures are very exposed - no shelters or windbreaks of any kind and we get a lot of wind - so we do put on rain sheets for cold rain and blankets for colder weather or wind. I've had to deal with all sorts of blankets over the years, both my own and those of boarders, and I've blanketed a lot of horses. I've found that many people buy blankets that don't fit their horses and also don't always put them on correctly or adjust the straps in a way that makes the horse uncomfortable. This is one of my peeves, closely following the one about people who don't pull their saddle blankets up into the gullet of their saddle, thus relieving the pressure on the withers when the the cinch or girth is tightened - and then they wonder why their horse is sore!
Back to blankets - a properly measured (center of chest to center of tail, at the widest part of the horse) and adjusted blanket will reach from just in front of the withers (putting high necked blankets to the side for now) to the base of the tail - if there's a tail flap it should start just where the tail joins the body of the horse, not below. The most common mistake people make, in my experience, is getting a blanket that is too large for the horse - I'm not sure why they do this but it's perhaps because they think the horse will be more comfortable, or they've selected a blanket with inadequate coverage on the sides and are trying to compensate. Some people tend to fasten the front of blankets too loosely - particularly with high-necked blankets, I find, which should sit up the neck while still fitting in the chest. A blanket that is too large, or where the front is too loose, will tend to slip back, putting pressure on the chest and withers and making it hard for the horse to lift the tail flap to pass manure. And then, because the blanket is too large and tends to shift when the horse rolls, the owner will sometimes tighten the leg and belly straps too much to try to hold the blanket in place - all of which make the blanket slide back even farther. The belly straps of a properly fitting blanket should not be dangling, but shouldn't be tight, either - if they're too tight they pull down on the withers, which can cause pain for the horse - and believe me, the horses let me know if they think their blankets don't fit correctly! Leg straps, which I always loop through each other to prevent rubs, should hang freely but not dangle. And here's my biggest peeve - don't make the poor horse wear thong underwear! - sometimes the rear leg straps are so tight that the horse is clearly uncomfortable. I do what I can to adjust the straps so the horse is both comfortable and the blanket will stay put, but some of the owners have their own opinions and at some point I just give up, although it's sad to see an uncomfortable horse. There! Pet peeves over with for today.
Have a wonderful late December day, and may it include horses!