Thursday, December 17, 2009

Different in winter

In the past five months we have sure covered a lot. Found a horse, lost a horse, brought in a new horse, dug up some dirt on a rider and discussed which show records are worthy of bragging rights. We have gotten off track, then back on track but still haven't actually been to the track. Save up your $$$ we will go there, I promise... And trust me those grooms do things to make the horses look great because they hope they will soon be in the winners circle.

I have been thinking of a few things lately to post about. But being as it is going into winter, there are some things that will have to wait. Because things are different in winter for people on different parts of the planet.

A while back another person on fhotd posted asking about things in the southwest. I told her feel free to email, I would be happy to fill her in with whatever info I can. So she did. Asking about the price of hay, the cost of board, the number of covered arenas, distances to shows, if there even are shows(?), trail riding available, average temperatures, etc. She is in Wisconsin and interested in wintering somewhere warmer. Can anyone blame her?

Well the part about the covered arenas made me snicker just a bit. There are a few here, but not for the same reasons as you would find one in her area. Here they block the sun in the summer, there they keep the snow and ice off the ground in winter. Both good reasons to have one, but not something she had considered.

The show seasons- same thing. Here we are in full swing from about September through around April. There- it's picking up around April and shutting down in September. So in some areas you may be dragging out the show clothes while others are putting them away.

Trail riding is going strong here, put on a light jacket and hit the trails. Places where it is snowing and below 0 on the thermometer, the horses are getting time off, their shoes may have already been pulled and they are coasting until things have thawed- including their water tubs!

Pretty much everyone is dragging out their horses blankets though (if they haven't already) and checking for holes, making sure they still fit, letting go of the old ones and shopping for new ones. A blanket is a good thing to always have on hand just in case. Temperatures may plummet suddenly before their coats come in, there may be health issues deterring weight gain and if you are here- your horse had better be body clipped if you plan on hitting the ring.

I will be posting on the art of body clipping, but since none of ours will be showing this year- there is no need to shave them bald and blanket. That one will have to wait until spring.

Even blanketing though, there are considerations as to when and why. Increasing the amount of hay or roughage fed at night helps the horse produce their own heat and maintain a natural warmth. A lot of times if it is raining, just providing a waterproof sheet is enough. As long as they are dry, they can stay warm underneath. Same goes for windy days, a sheet to block the wind may be all it takes.

I will try to get pictures over the weekend of some of our blankets and the blanketing process. Some horses take to putting them on/taking them off, with no problems. Others, just don't even bother. It will kill them and they just know it. Nothing in the world will change their thoughts on the matter and trying to get a blanket on them can be dangerous. Staying safe is more important. That way you will be around to feed them in the morning. Which is more important in their world? Blankets or food. I bet we can come up with pretty close answers there!


  1. I had to fix the time and date on the OP. Blogger had it at 4 pm yesterday. Um, yeah. Can we make it 4:30 pm tomorrow instead?

  2. I made the huge mistake of blanketing Tad when I moved him from one barn to another, about a 45 minute trailer ride.

    It was the deadest of winter. He sweated up, steaming hot, soaking wet, by the time we arrived at the new barn.
    Took me hours and hours to cool/dry him.

    Blankets are great, but don't over-do..

    Food keeps them warm.

    (shivers. I better go eat.)

  3. Growing up in the windy Midwest..we never blanketed BUT we had an indoor arena and usually just rode to maintain condition and take the edge of the young ones. Plus our guy destroyed blankets..what's the point, he was happier neked.

    I have NO idea is the 26 yr old would even let you clip although Mom's got a wild hair up you know where to clip him this year.

    A new clip I'd never heard of but makes sense...her trainer..clips chest and 2 circles at groin/flank area thats it!

    Hmmm..I've seen the modified Hunter, full Hunter, full body..but that was a new one to me and of course (smack your head on the barn door) makes sense.

    sigh...what about moving horses during this time? WI to AZ...big move..what about TX to MT??? Such things are interesting also.

    I don't like to clip unless it's spring w/an older horse who isn't shedding.

    Our 26yr old came out of last winter only weighing 900lbs. He is now on grass/alfalfa mixture. He waddles on pure alfalfa. We'll see how this winter goes. The barn owner keeps special eye on him so I'm not too worried

  4. For the most part I don't blanket , even here in the frozen north. The horses,if healthy do fine with a fluffy thick coat ,I love to see snow on thier backs , it indicates they are well insulated(not loosig heat . I do have some blankets around for oldsters or a horse that fall ill. Also if you are working a horse ,nice to "rug 'em up" to cool down slowly before turnout.

  5. Blankets... I never blanket.

    I don't have that much time to ride in the winter beyond poking around, and I'd rather my horse's natural furriness keep him warm. Our winter days here are generally 25-38 degrees, nights 18 - 25. No problem if you keep 'em dry and furry!

    Coolers? Yeah, those are GOOD.

    I have an old denim sheet that I used to use after bathing the night before a show. Cheap ass thing, but never got torn up....

    Chip's got some nice weight on him. He's ot a BIG BARREL, and I can baaaaarely feel his ribs if I press very hard.

  6. You are right - more hay and roughage - more warmth and happier horse. They will much rather keep their temperature up by grazing like the grazing animals they are instead of wearing a blanket (my pet peeve - blankets that don't fit properly and are tight around the chest). Plenty of hay is a way to go.

  7. The blankets I hate, are the ones that will slip behind the withers. I'll see some people's horses, and the blanket is just digging into them at the base of the withers. Wither fistulas are nasty. If you're going to blanket, get a blanket that fits.

    And it is very doubtful your 14.2h cow horse wears an 81" Weatherbeeta.

  8. I am in Northern California, and only use a rainsheet. My boy is very furry, and so I only want to keep him dry. It comes off when it's not raining.

    He is out 24/7 (dry-lot) and has an OK, but not great, 3 sided run-in. Last year it pointed the wrong way (open to all the weather) and sat in the mud. This year I had the BO move it, paint it, and I built up the bottom with DG, placed stall mats inside, and use shavings. Mostly I wanted a place for his feet to dry out once in a while. They are fed in there to encourage them to stay in there for a while!

  9. I only blanket when the temps get into the teens. All four are well insulated and well fed and they have 24/7 access to their stalls.

  10. I am so glad we don't have to go the heated water route. But we still get down into the high 20's at night. That's enough to leave a film of ice in the water tubs, break the water pipes from time to time and freeze the hoses.

    Did I mention freeze warnings? We have those here too. Sometimes in effect until 9 or 10 am. And back in the early 90's it snowed in the Valley of the Sun. Driving from east Mesa to north Scottsdale through it was fun. Everyone on the road freaked out. Strange since most of them were from somewhere else. Somewhere where it snows...

    We do blanket on occasion- rainsheets to keep them dry if they are out, lightweight sheets to block the cold wind- pipe barns offer nothing for this, but otherwise they are a fuzzy bunch out there and happy that way.

    If we are showing and body clipping is required- layers! Just like with us, they can be added or pulled as needed to keep the horse as warm as they should be. No more, no less.

    Me on the other hand, bundled up like the kid in the movie Christmas Story. I don't care if I can't put my arms down as long as I am warm. Yes, I am a cold weather wus! I would never make it in some places.

  11. I've never blanketed my horses; I rely on winter coats & shelter.

    I've seen the same thing Horspoor has, with the blanket behind the withers. Why does that happen? is it a matter of fit? How can one avoid it?

    Thanks, Ruthie

  12. HNDL- it is a matter of fit. I see it to and can't stand it either, but sometimes it is the way the blankets are made in those sizes.

    Just like saddles though, they need to accomodate for horses with different builds. Two horses if the same height are not always the same width or weight. Can be different lengths too, but since the blankets go by one size chart it doesn't mean they will all fit the same.

    We have a few prime examples at our place. The ponies could wear the same harness, but one required everything adjusted as small as it goes and the other one you had to let everything all the way out. There was only two inches difference in their height and yet they still both wore the size 51" Weathabeeta's. The short one was 'miss let it all out'.

    The two TB's were the same way. MAM is shorter and wider, wears a bigger blanket. Let the bridle out several holes on everything and it's good. Tess was taller and a lot more refined you might say. Smaller blanket size and take the bridle up to the third hole on everything. Splint boots fit one but not the other.

    Just like with us- sometimes the size and the fit depends on the clothes and the brand.

  13. To avoid the wither issue, I usually buy European cut blankets. Weatherbeetas seem to come up high enough on the neck to avoid it. Big D's are notorious for riding back behind the wither. It really does depend on your horse's build. Some where Big D's just fine. Most of mine do not. And I find I have to buy a larger size in Big D's. Cat wears a 75" Weatherbeeta, but an 80 Big D. Weird.

  14. Does anyone use the military issue Navy wool blankets? I love them. Used them from Illinois to Texas (infinity and beyond). An old trainer at one of our barns turned me on to it.

    It is fantastic to cool down in the winter. Heavier then a cooler for the Upper states but still wicks the moisture.

    Hate trying to fit the short FAT horse for blankets. Very ICKY

  15. Many years ago I moved my mare from Nevada to Ohio in December. It was warm in NV so she did not have a thick coat, but it was a record cold winter for Ohio! Yuck. I ended up buying her a heavy blanket AND a wool liner to go with it. She really learned to love her blankie!! It was cute to watch her dive right into it. LOL

    I have two horses now - the gelding gets a blanket, the mare (a rescue case) would rather kill you then wear one. Fortunately, she looks like a fat teddy bear right now :-)

  16. Margarita Girls- I added your blog to my list on the sideline.

    I have seen horses loaded into some of those similar unsafe, POS, funky weird contraptions you feature to get them home or to a show? All I can ask is Why? Then I just hope the horses make it wherever they are headed in one piece and unharmed.

  17. We blanket, but I'm in Western Washington where it rains almost constantly all winter. My horses, not being brilliant, wont always go into a shelter. They usually wear a MW this time of year, only heavier if it gets into the teens.

    Thus, I am the queen of blanket fitting and blanket shopping on a budget. When you have 5 horses, from a fine boned OTTB mare to a geriatric Belgian gelding(who still thinks he's a stud), you get good at eyeballing the right blanket!

  18. Have a question. My friends QH is having abcesess issues. He stepped on a roofing tack about a year ago. It had been infected and farrier managed to get it out before it went to the bone.

    We've moved stables and the new ground is "black gumbo". QH is now off on that leg again and the spot is weeping ooze. No blood, not a lot of heat, QH ouchy on it. Farrier said to keep it clean and dry.

    My question is (cause I'm old school) 1) has anyone run into this issue? 2) I was alway taught to let the "mud" pull out the bad junk

    I'd love to hear your ideas. If it doesn't clear up she will take him to the Vet and have Xrays to make sure the bone isn't involved. We moved from sandy to this deep black mud. which the horses are LOVING..hee hee.


  19. C3D- a few different things to try from here. First off is it weeping from the bottom of the hoof or through the coronet band or bulb of the heel?

    Clear ooze or funky slimy pus? Stinky or no odor?

    Soaking in warm epsome salt water can help draw out the gunk. Some of the naturalists prefer apple cider vinegar for it's antiseptic qualities.

    Anitibiotics can be considered necessary if it is in fact infected. Mud does draw the ooze out, but if the mud is loaded with bacteria- floating manure, etc. then it may cause infection.

    Packing it with cotton and putting an easy boot or Davis boot on will keep it clean and dry, but the Davis boot doesn't allow for much air circulation and everything will develop a stink just from that.

    If the horse can be put into a dry stall during the day- boot off, then soaked, packed and booted for the night it should clear up pretty quickly on its own and heal from the inside out.

    The pain may be from another abcess about to blow or from the build up of ooze in this one that just isn't oozing fast enough. If it can be flushed out with betadine in a curved tip dental syringe, that can help speed up the process.

    Let us know how this works.

  20. CNJ - Thanks for adding me to your list :-)

    I have asked a couple of people (tactfully) who have trailers just like the ones on the blog and the number one answer is "it's paid for." Closer inspection of all the trailers suggests that even if they had a new trailer it would soon look just like the one they have now because they do not clean out the manure/urine, it never gets washed or serviced, and they loan it out to anyone and everyone.
    Funny thing is that most of the time, it hauls the horses fine without injury. I, personally, would not take the chance. "Most of the time" is not good enough for me.

  21. HP said:
    "Wither fistulas are nasty. If you're going to blanket, get a blanket that fits. "

    Here HERE!

    Does that still happen? That design should somehow be illegal.
    People still haven't learned that..

    And check the blanket adjustment, a lot. Like daily, more than once.

    They can do some interesting things to blankets.

  22. TMG- I had an old Blair horse trailer. By old I mean older than I am. When I bought it, it needed tires, wiring, floorboards and paint. There was one floorboard that was partially rotted, seller was going to replace just the one, fix it up and sell for more. I bought it as it sat for $650.

    Started with the floor- replaced everything. Wiring- all new and added a brake light at the top. Tires- new ones. I used to call it the Blair Hitched project since it was still primer gray... Until the day I sold it.

    It may have fit in on your blog except it was safe. Beyond fugly, but still safe.

  23. Can I ask another stupid question..I have a bunch of back exercises the therapist gave me.

    I need something to add..I'm still sore and achy. I'm really wanting to ride here in the next month or so..but a day of baking and house work and I can barely walk and stand.

    Any thoughts? It's SI joint and hips.

  24. Crazy3dayer , lie on yuor tummy , on the floor or a firm bed . Hands either beside your head or as you progress behind your head. slowly lift just your shoulders and chest off the floor (builds the muscles ) along your spine to help support your core. Also low leg lifts from the same position (careful you don't get a charlie horse in your butt!)

  25. Fern that sounds like the 'Superman' exercises the PT had me doing after the last car accident. I'm trying to remember a few of the others. My lower back is not all that great either.

    C3D- I will try to find pictures of some of the yoga poses that help me out. One of them makes me feel like a pretzel, but afterwards- ahhhhhh relief.

  26. There is a website called Yoga Journal. The second tab is Poses. Under that you can find a place to build your own sequences.

    You can search for poses by name, types of poses, anatomical focus, theraputic focus and contraindications. Pictures and step by step instructions as well as variations, modifications and props, preparatory poses and follow up poses, deepen the pose...

    The one I posted about before is what they call the cow face pose. I am not quite there yet, as seen by the person in the photo, but it is great when stretching my hips butt. I don't do the arms on that one. Not that well anyways!

  27. FV - that sounds like a GREAT exercise to do after a day sitting in a desk chair!!

    A coworker used to lie on her back with her legs bent in a "chair" position, resting her feet on a chair.

    It feels really good.