This is a time of year when the weather changes so suddenly you have to be ready for anything. Preparing for winter at the barn involves some strategies and planning, especially for basic things like filling water troughs. We unhooked all our hoses a few weeks ago when we had some freezing weather and I started using a handy expandable hose to reach the troughs. Once you turn the water on, the hose expands to 100 feet, but it's lightweight so I'll be able to move it around easily in the snow. With no garden chores now, I've also been able to do more PEMF therapy on horses. Lucy and Dancer got some therapy this past week, as well as Spike, who has a sore hoof.
It's gratifying to see the improvement in a horse when they get this therapy and you can see right away that they are more comfortable and walking more easily. They will stand still for the therapy, but sometimes you have to bring companion horses into the barn because they don't like to be separated from their pen partners.
Horse management can be a challenge when you have horses with different nutritional needs or horses that don't get along with each other. We move horses around as needed so they can be fed appropriately or so they get along with their companions or neighbors. I've learned some things about horse psychology from simply watching how the horses interact with each other and how they establish a hierarchy.
Another facet of the colder weather is that some horses need to be blanketed. The older horses and skinny horses need a little more protection from the weather, and we have to judge who needs what kind of blanket and when they need it. A cold night can be followed by a pretty warm day so a big part of Debora's job at this time of year is keeping an eye on who has a blanket, who needs a blanket and who needs a blanket removed. I'm getting more practice with the blankets and all their straps and buckles. Sometimes I feel like I'm all thumbs, but the horses are pretty patient with me. :-)
Laura Weise is a Wings volunteer who lives in Stevensville and will be bringing you stories of life at the barn.