Today was the coldest day, in terms of wind chill, that I've experienced, ever. Those of you in the upper midwest probably have been colder, but it's way too cold for me. When I drove to the barn this morning, the air temperature was -17C with a wind chill in the -40s. Fortunately, my truck started, although it didn't want to.
All I could do at the barn this morning was check on the horses. They're stuck in their stalls. Our small barn - 11 stalls - exits through the indoor arena and the indoor arena is full of pasture-boarded horses who were brought in there last night and were in there today. So there was nowhere to hand walk except our very short barn aisle. So Red, Dawn and Pie took short walks with me. Dawn's not too upset about staying in - she knows it's cold and she's used to staying in or coming in early when it's very cold - she really doesn't like the cold.
Pie and Red are much more cold-hardy - they're usually good down to a -20F windchill - and they didn't really understand why they were trapped inside. Pie was anxious to come out of his stall, but when I put him back in, he resignedly started eating his hay again. Poor Red was frantic - he's not much of one for staying in a stall at the best of times - he'd be a good 24/7 pasture horse but the shelter at our current place isn't great, and there's no way to control how much the horses get to eat. He and I did some fast walking, but he really didn't want to go back in his stall and tried to come out again, and kept bumping the door with his nose. His head was high and his eyes were white-ringed - he was pretty upset. He didn't like it when I took Pie out for his walk, either.
This afternoon, the temperature had made it all the way up to about -13F, with a wind chill in the -30sF. I made it back to the barn to check on the horses, do some grooming, pick stalls - a fair amount of work as they'd been in all day - and do some hand-walking in the barn aisle. Dawn was fine. Pie was very restless, pawing, biting the cross ties and doing some head-bobbing - this is extreme restlessness for Pie. He clearly had a lot of pent-up energy. His lower back also seemed a bit tight when I groomed - probably from standing around in a stall all day and night. But we did our walk, with some head lowering at the end of each lap to stretch out his back, and when I put him back in his stall he went right to eating his hay.
Red started out very antsy - lots of nickering and pawing while I was walking Pie, and a lot of fidgeting on the cross ties, and pawing, while I was cleaning his stall. But he seemed to enjoy his grooming, and we had a nice aisle walk. He started out very energetic, and wanted to greet all the other horses - we do this when we walk - but the more we walked the more he hesitated as we passed his stall door. Finally I asked him to go in, and he went right back in the stall without any resistance. He did think about trying to go out again - I said no and he responded - but then he took a big drink and settled down to eat his hay. I was glad to see that he wasn't as agitated as he'd been.
More of the same tomorrow, and then things look like they might start to warm up . . . here's hoping.