So this morning, due to the wind and a chance of freezing rain in the forecast, the horses got some light protection. I blanket all the horses (8) but mine as soon as I feed hay and make up the beet pulp, which soaks for 20 minutes, for Blackjack and Noble. I blanket my three horses when I turn them out, as I usually give them a quick grooming. We almost always take blankets off when the horses are stalled at night, to give them a rest from the pressure of the blanket and to give their coats a chance to refluff. It also gives us a chance to look over each horse to be sure they don't have an injury under the blanket or a skin condition starting, and to assess their weight and body condition. Although our barn is unheated and uninsulated, it does stay warmer than outside with the horses' body heat. The coldest it's ever gotten inside the barn in my experience was 8F, but that was with minus 20F temperatures with even colder wind chills outside. A couple of the horses wear fleece coolers overnight if it's bitterly cold. A horse is on the verge of being chilled if its coat is erect, and if the horse is shivering it's definitely chilled.
I've been working a lot lately at trying to be "in the moment", and to be fully present with whatever it is that I am doing - not thinking about something else. This morning was one of those delightful mornings when everything flowed, and I was really enjoying noticing all the sights, sounds and textures that surround me while I work. Even blanketing was delightful. I use the exact same sequence of movements to blanket every horse, and as I tossed every blanket up, it landed in exactly the correct place, and every bit of strapping was smooth and effortless. Sometimes I have other types of days - you know those ones where everything gets tangled and snarled and you trip, and drop things. But today was one of the good days.
Some things I noticed: Every horse's coat, in addition to having a different color and length, has a different texture, and they vary dramatically. Scout almost has a wiry coat, although it's not that thick or long. Fred and Blackjack are soft and fluffy. Dawn almost has peach fuzz. Maisie has almost a double coat, with long guard hairs. I almost think that if you put me in front of a horse, without colors and without any other way to identify the horse, I would be able to tell them apart just from the texture of their coats. It's sort of like the horses drinking yesterday - they are such individuals.
And each type of grain makes a completely different sound as you pour it into the feed buckets. And even draining the beet pulp was effortless - this is the hardest/worst feeding job next to rinsing out the beet pulp containers - I actually was enjoying the feeling of the warm water over my hand and the soft texture of the beet pulp/senior mix as I drained it, and it has a delicious smell. I love the different sounds each horse makes as it walks over the concrete floor on the way to turnout - many of them I could identify by sound. Dawn, for example, almost slaps her front feet down - it's very determined. I also like listening to the sequence of the footfalls, and noticing anything that is different in terms of rhythm or emphasis - this is one of the first ways I notice that a horse is slightly off before I even look.
And outside, I was quite taken by the textures and appearance of the ground. Our snow has packed down and compressed, and there are areas with ice showing through underneath, particularly in the walkways. It was as if there were different depths - snow on top and partially visible layers of ice, with an amazing textured look in different shades of gray. And on top of the snow layer, and mixed in all over, were bits of tan bedding from the horses' hooves and shreds of hay. It was like a composition in white, grey and tan - very beautiful!
I could go on and on - but that's enough! Please have a wonderful day!