Not So Fair Weather This Winter…

It’s that time of year again where we all prepare for the deep freeze as it’s been deemed. Yet again, newspapers, news channels and just about every other media outlet, are warning us of a hideous snow-filled freeze that’s about to hit us. It’s around about this time that you tend to see panic stricken owners asking a myriad of questions on social media thanks to News At Ten telling us we’ll be heading into a modern-day Ice Age imminently. Whether we’re wondering which rug to put on them, whether or not to up their feed, lower their feed and up their hay, up their feed AND up their hay, give them more haylage, give them less haylage, stock pile water containers, walk to the yard or even ski to the yard: there’s one thing we can all agree on – it’s times like this that we see not only how dedicated us equestrians are but just how much love we have for our furry friends.

Believe you me, I love having savings in the bank, when we haven’t spent it on yet another vet bill, but do you know what I love seeing more? A barn full of hay and huge bales of haylage stock piled ready for winter. The feed bins are full, their fur coats have grown longer than a Newfoundland and they now have two huge bales of haylage to forage on as and when they fancy in their field. I couldn’t be happier, especially when it began to snow last night and I knew they had as much forage as they’d need to keep their tummies full and themselves warm. They had full water troughs, complete with the old salt water plastic bottles floating around (despite the fact it never works at stopping the water trough freezing over) and I went home knowing they were happy and comfortable with their inner furnaces working overtime.

When we’re in for a deep freeze, I tend not to put them in the stables. This usually generates a few gasps from some but there’s definitely method in my madness. I have a very impractical (though super economical) hatchback that WILL NOT get me to the stables should a heavy snow full come my way. While I’ll always find a way, I worry that it could mean me not managing to actually get to the yard until midday or later. My way to solve the problem however, is to leave them turned out, with their field bales of haylage of course along with wide open stable doors. The water buckets are all filled as high as can be, each stable has a haynet bursting at the seams and they’re given the choice as to whether or not they want to go outside or inside. When I first did this, I think the thing that surprised me most wasn’t the fact that when they did go inside that they all (all five) chose to congregate in one stable, but the fact that they had chosen to spend their time outside on most cases. I thought it was cold, windy and nothing short of horrid. Despite this, they chose be outside, in the elements doing what they do best – being a horse.

Every year I worry about my poor little furry ones in the field, yet every year they surprise me with their ability to not only withstand the cold weather but embrace it. Their coats grow unspeakable amounts, especially Rambo and Steve with their welsh blood, and of course Jack with his Clydesdale genes. Even Danny and Hattie, both finer warmbloods grow what is for them, a seriously long coat that not only keeps the wet off their backs but keeps the heat in. It amazes me every single year.

Whether or not we find ourselves falling victim to the Beast from the East once again this year, it’s safe to say that our horses will, just as they do every year, amaze us with their ability to make it through the winter unscathed. Fingers crossed I have a few (definitely not Rambo or Steve) that manage to come into the spring with a little healthy weight loss so the spring grass doesn’t give me any problems. Until then, I’ll still be making my way to the stables worrying, whether it’s via car, bus or dog sled in a multitude of layers, including my Black Onyx Base Layer, my Metallic White Tea, my Crew Neck Jumper and the football coat I’ll inevitable steal out of my husbands car…

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