Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Calm, and Good and Bad Smells

It's a nice winter day - the high's supposed to reach about 25F, and there's only a little bit of wind. Every horse walked calmly away from the gate at turnout - it's that kind of day.

I somehow started thinking about the good and bad smells I encounter at the barn, and around horses. My favorite smells would have to be:

Good, fresh hay

The subtle grassy smells of the pastures in high summer - the smell of a freshly mown pasture is wonderful too and more intense

Sun-warmed horse fur

Some grains


Manure - I think I like the smell because it's associated with horses.

My least favorite smells are:

That funky, too-ripe-cheese smell of thrush

Ammonia - we're lucky the pelleted bedding we use eliminates most of this odor. I believe, although I can't prove it, that the stall of a horse that has a metabolic disorder smells different, and not good.

Moldy hay - just plain nasty even if there's only a little bit of mold

Some supplements smell really bad to me.

Chemical fly and mosquito repellents - they smell as toxic as they are.

The smell of blood - but if you have enough blood around to smell it you've got other problems. I also hate the taste of blood, but fortunately that isn't (usually) a barn experience - I wouldn't make a good vampire!

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Breathe over at HorseCentric has a nice post that links to a number of her favorite posts from the past by a number of horse bloggers (I'm partial because she lists one of mine that I had almost forgotten about).

Enjoy your day, and may it include horses!


  1. my sister and i swear that arabian horses smell different from others. this is from our working at the stables where baasha was born, in comparison to any other barn we visited.

    now i know that a pasture kept horse smells different than a stall kept one.

    but we still insist there is a particular smell to an arabian: )

    have you smelled silage/haylage. oh my! that is quite the stank.


  2. I'm with you. I don't mind the smell of horse manure at all, but I hate the smell of urine. Go figure.

  3. Love the barn smells--except for the ammonia--but sometimes they make me sneeze. I am allergic to something in some of the best hay, I guess, as freshly mown grass can have the same effect. And yet....I love the smell of both. They smell like warm summer days.

  4. other good smells - rain on the sagebrush, sagebrush in manes!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  5. I would have to add horse sweat to your list of good smells. I LOVE the way a sweaty horse smells. :o)

  6. I love the smell coming out of a horse's nose. I guess that is called horse breath, but whatever it is called, it is the greatest smell on earth.

  7. love the barn and horse smells, and I'd add to the stinky list : cooler that did not have a chance to dry up properly and was stored away...I found one just like that in the barn the other day and when I took the container lid off I almost passed out...

  8. I can't figure out why the horse smells so good (even--or especially--a sweaty horse!) but a horse blanket smells so nasty?! The winter cover-me-up blanket, I mean--saddle blankets smell nice.

    One of the great mysteries of life.

  9. One of my favorite sensual memories is of sitting in the barn loft in the middle of a Montana winter, with the hay we had cut, baled and stacked ourselves: I could SMELL SUMMER, while I listened to 17 head of dude horses munching away outside.


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