Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beautiful Winter Day

This morning when I got to the barn around 6:30 a.m. it was 1F, but there was no wind.  The air was very still, and the sky was a beautiful rose and apricot as the sun rose.  Every tree, bush and grass stem was coated with a thin layer of frost - just beautiful.  It was supposed to warm up to around 20F, and the wind was supposed to stay away (very rare for us), so the horses went out without their blankets, except for Dawn, who's in her medium-weight Brookside turnout blanket.

I'll be doing a full product review post on the Hock Shield after we've used it for a while, but suffice it to say that last night it was Pie 1 - Hock Shield 0, although I think this may have had something to do with how (not sufficiently) tightly I put it on.

In the afternoon, when it was as warm as it was going to get (22F), Pie and I took a short ride with Charisma and her owner.  While Charisma was getting tacked up, Pie and I did some cone work on the grassy slope behind the barn.  I had moved the cones out of the arena, which is pretty much full of ice under the snow.  Pie was pretty feisty, doing some head shaking and wanting to scoot away from his reflection in the barn windows, but settled down to his cone work after a bit.  I had him in the sidepull. We walked from cone to cone and did the tightest circles we could around each cone.  We also threw in some backing and turns on the haunches - he's got some lateral work already that just needs refining.  The footing wasn't bad up there with a thin layer of snow over grass.

Then we went on a brief trail ride around the pastures.  The trails were pretty icy, particularly down the center.  We were able to stay to one side pretty easily in most places, with Pie leading the way with a much more forward walk than he usually has.  There was one spot as we were coming back to the barn where the ice was worse, and all the horses in the dry lots started running, and Pie spooked a bit, slipping some, so I dismounted and led him down the safest part with Charisma following.  A couple of hundred feet further down the trail, I remounted (from the ground!) and he stood perfectly still on a loose rein.  As we got back to the barn, we had to avoid part of the trail and the parking lot, as those areas were completely iced over, and Pie led the way as we bushwhacked a trail through the tall prairie grasses, around a tree and safely back to the barn.  Good Pie!


  1. I want my mare to grow up to be just like Pie... nevermind that she's older than him...

  2. The cold is fine as long as there is no wind. I'm glad you were able to get out.


  3. You always accomplish something don't you?

  4. Question...Why do you put the blankets on and take them off when it is so cold out? Is that not a harder adjustment for the horses than leaving them on? Isn't it colder outside than in the barn? Just curious. Where we live, their blankets are on unless the temperature goes considerably above freezing. I know many people don't blanket at all, but I have so many geriatrics I don't want them to burn all their calories trying to stay warm. Also, they are out all day and we have had a lot of snow and wind.

  5. Lori - you're right about the geriatrics - they take special care (Dawn is treated like that because she's so sensitive). The way we handle it is that the horses are unblanketed inside if temperatures outside are above 10F or so. If temps are colder, some of the horses may need fleeces or lighter weight turnouts - last night it got down to 12F in the barn.

    Temps today were in the 20s with little wind - so no blankets except for Dawn and Fred (a senior). The horses were all perfectly comfortable. Colder than that or if there's a lot of wind, we blanket most, and blanket all if wind chills are near zero. We have no shelters or tree breaks.

    Most of our horses have very thick coats and do well except in very cold condition. We like to leave them unblanketed whenever we can so their coats can fluff up and also so their skin gets some ventilation - this has helped us prevent rain rot.

    I judge how to blanket based on how I feel - if my face is freezing off - wind chills near or below zero - everyone is blanketed. If my face is comfortable, most of the horses are too - they're all in good weight - this is important too as a thin horse needs more insulation.

    I don't think there's any right or wrong about these things - it's just a matter of the individual horse and how comfortable it is.

  6. Glad you squeezed in a ride in spite of the cold and ice/snow. I am loving the remounting from the ground part. You are inspiration to me. I always have a situation where I want to dismount, but I just can't seem to remount from the ground. It is driving me nuts. I have done it by putting the stirrup down the whole way, but on the remount I only have one stirrup until I readjust. Good for you for remounting from the ground and while bundled up for the cold!

  7. Sounds too cold to me, but I'm a wimpy southern dweller. We're still cold down here too and we're supposed to get more frozen stuff tonight.

    I haven't mounted from the ground in a long time... I'm afraid of tweaking Lilly's back while climbing on. I think it's a good thing to be able to do though, in case there's a situation where you have no other choice.

    I'm glad you were able to get in a good ride!! :)

  8. Mine go without a blanket most of the winter, but they're all young and in good health.
    My one geriatric boarder wears his medium weight turnout full-time, plus has access 24/7 to his stall (the others, only if it gets nasty wet and/or cold). But even with him, if the weather gets halfway nice (sunny, no wind, not frigid) then I like to take the blanket off so he can "fluff" (as Kate says), roll and scratch, and "air out" for a bit.
    Usually late in Febuary or early in March, I'll start throwing a turnout on any of the young ones that I would like to have shed out a little earlier--for competition or if they are for sale. That being said, last year Kate ripped hers up so bad it couldn't be used, and she seemed to shed out just as fast as Maddie! So I may even rethink that idea from here on out...
    As for mounting from the ground--I've gotten really good at finding "just enough" rock, or hillock to manage--but it usually takes a couple of bounces. I do worry about straining their backs, so prefer to find something a little taller if I can. Besides, Kate's so round that the saddle ALWAYS shifts.

  9. I avoid mounting from the ground if at all possible. I have a bad knee and nothing makes it hurt more than trying to mount from the ground! I used to never use mounting blocks and thought they were for wimps, and then I wrecked me knee and revised that opinion. :)

  10. Good Pie indeed. I hate it when it gets icy. Makes me nervous to ride. I always say, "Careful, careful," to my Boys when there's ice and sure enough, they usually slow down and tread carefully.

    Glad you got to ride.

  11. Hi Kate,we don't have any snow here in South Africa,but I can just imagine how our horses would play if they ever encountered snow!

  12. Liesl - thanks for stopping by! You're right, the horses really do seem to enjoy the snow.

  13. Glad you got in a ride... I tried to ride on Monday (had a much needed day off!) and it started out well in the sheltered areas, but when we turned into the open hay field, the wind hit us head on. Turns out it was -20C with the wind chill. Not nice. We quickly turned around and made for the barn!

  14. You're brave to go out in icey conditions, but Pie sounds like a good horse to ride in those conditions.

    I have a 30 year old horse and I give him free-choice food and access to shelter all day, but I only blanket him if it gets wet and cold because I prefer for him to be fluffed up all the time. The cold rain is much harder on him than the snow. So far, this year, he's staying fat.

  15. Hi Kate, its always good to ride in the clear fresh cold! Something almost pioneering about doing that!

    We are due snow tonight, and the farriers due tomorrow also, so I am going to take the shoes off my mare as an experiment in barefoot work in the snow!! Thought I might give it a chance.
    Rugs on or off? the eternal question, as you know I`ve got one mare with Rain rot, shes rugged. The other 3 are rugged but they have no sign of it! Any way, have to go now, work beckons and if I dont go, i dont get payed!!!

  16. I admire you for riding in the cold. It's 40 here and not sure I'd ride, even if I had the time to today!

    I'm so happy that Pie has been such a good fit for you. It just shows that all your hard work screening the sellers and horses has paid off! :)

  17. Pie is certainly a sensible horse. I'm not a big fan of ice so prefer to stay on the ground. Glad you got a ride in and some great ground work.

  18. Kate, sounds like you had a good ride, weather and conditions notwithstanding. I am impressed you can mount from the ground! Also that Pie did so well with the challenging conditions!


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