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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

But I live in California!

Or "How I sacrificed my afternoon/evening to make my horse happy."

We got a HUGE storm yesterday. Let me define huge - apartment parking lot was 4-6 inches underwater, the street was underwater, everyone on the freeway was driving 45-50 mph (very big deal - the limit is 65 and most people go 70-75), the rain was sideways all day, and by the end of the day I didn't have any more dry coats. And it rained ALL day. Very unusual, especially for October. In fact, I can't remember ever having a winter-like storm this early in the year.

I naturally was very concerned about Farley. Although it had crossed my mind to throw a rain sheet on her the night before, I hadn't. I don't usually blanket, and although the sheet would keep her dry (I hoped), it would make the hair lie down and she might end up being colder. My only medium weight turn out was Minx's and is WAY too big for Farley. I also worry about the blanket getting soaked and her having to wear a wet blanket, thus I usually rely on my horse's good sense to stay under the shelter.

At lunch time I took off from work and picked up my renegades from UPS (black boots for her hinds) and headed out to the stable. I made up a nice, hot, beet pulp mash and headed out to her paddock. While she ate, I was going to see if the rear boots fit.

Farley has a decent 3-sided shelter in her paddock. Farley wasn't using her shelter. Instead, Farley decided the better option was to run around her paddock, in the mud, at top speed. This (theoretically) was going to keep her warm. Uh huh......

Farley was shivering so hard she was having problems walking. She dug into the hot mash like she hadn't seen food in a month. In addition to the shivering, every muscle was tight and she was responding to everything like she had an incredible amount of adrenaline going through her system. I evaluated my options as I sprinted to my trailer (no small feat in muck boots and a ankle length duster through the mud). I grabbed my heavy cooler/irish knit combo blanket and led her into the feed barn shed. Problem: I was going to have to be more active to get her dried off enough to put a rain sheet on and warm. AND as she was warming up, she wanted to walk around. There was no room in the shed. Time for the next option.

I spotted an empty covered paddock up front. I purloined it for a couple of hours and set to work on getting her dry and warm. I have 3 or 4 coolers. When one got damp, I replaced it with a new one. I vigorously rubbed her down with the coolers and with dry towels. I massaged all her large muscle groups to get blood flowing. I let her walk around. I put hay in front of her and refilled her hot mash. Within a short time she was calm, had stopped shivering, and was acting like the sweet little mare I know she could be. Within an hour she was mostly dry. After 2 hours I felt comfortable putting her bundled up little body back out in her paddock. I decided that the burlap blanket, topped with a rain sheet was the best option. Once back in her paddock she seemed content to just stand in her shelter, having learned her lesson (maybe, perhaps???? I cannot go through all this every time it rains). I checked back 4 hours later in the evening and she was still warm and dry under the blankets.

I did take the opportunity, once she was warm and we were still in the purloined pen, to try on the renegades for the hinds - they seem to fit, although I need to shorten the cables. She didn't react at all to them. I really do love these boots. Right now I'm planning on doing Buckmeadows with them. No concrete plans for the rest of the season with the boots, I'll take it ride by ride.

I'm a little concerned about her left front (same leg as the old bow). There was filling in it last night/this morning which I would expect from the type of weather we've been having (it has a tendancy to fill), however there might be some slight heat and tenderness as well. Really hard to say. Silly horse was running around in the mud.....I'll know better after I see her this afternoon.

So my selfish movie-night-eat-junk-food-because-it's-raining night got cut a bit short, but it was worth it to have a dry, warm, happy horse.


  1. You did right things to get your horse warmed up! Good for you! If you get any better at this, you'll be ready to live here in the Swamplands!

    Here's a tip: if you don't have a POLARFLEECE cooler, I recommend that you get one. Doesn't have to be fancy, but it must FIT and must be polarfleece, not some cotton-blend.

    When your horse is cold and wet, put the polarfleece cooler on her, and then put a waterproof/breathable blanket (it doesn't have to be heavy, but it DOES have to be waterproof and breathable) on top of the cooler.

    After an hour or two, check your horse. She should be DRY, even if it's raining. Magic, huh?

    Once she's dry or mostly-dry, peel off the polarfleece. If the waterproof/breathable blanket is soggy inside, put another, dry blanket on her. (waterproof/breathable again). She should be fine after that.

    Take the wet blanket indoors to dry it out completely. The polarfleece can just hang up out of the rain and it will dry out by itself.

    Mine are accustomed to wet(we live in a swamp, after all) but they were complaining about the wind/rain this morning, and spent a lot of time under the trees.

    Everytime the rain would slack off or the wind would die down, they'd head back into the pasture to eat!

  2. Thanks for the tips. This will be especially useful at rides where I need to dry her off, but can't get out of the rain....It was nice to see I was on the right track. To tell you the truth, I know nothing when it comes to horse clothing so I've been doing a lot of reading on the internet to see what the various items can be used for. I think by far my favorite piece of horse clothing is my combo fleece cooler/irish knit lining blanket. I got it used and it feel so wonderful.

    All of my coolers are either square or fitted but too big....which is OK if she's tied to a trailer but I'm worried about turn out. AND I only have one waterproof sheet that fits her. Obviously I am woefully unprepared for inclement weather. :( And that extends to myself as well.

    I could probably make a fitted polarfleece that fits her - Like a blanket liner. That should help me if I don't have that the time to do what I did yesterday.

  3. Oh, honey. I am the QUEEN of being prepared for Inclement Weather, since that's all we have around here for 7-10 months every year. There is no reason to be Cold and Wet. That's why God made Gortex!

    I'll do an Inclement Weather post on my blog, just for you....gimme a few days to put it together, okay?

    meantime: look around on ebay...and avoid cotton!!!

  4. Before I bought Polarfleece, I took an old pure wool army blanket (from the surplus store) and would toss that over the wet horse, with a horse blanket / rain sheet on top, and the wool will also help dry them, and warm them.

    I have every weight of blanket one can own. We have everything from wet but warm, to cold, ice, snow in Texas!

  5. We got the tail end of your Terrible Rain over here! I can't imagine how much worse it was before it came over the Sierras.

    I am at least as clueless as you are about blanketing, etc., so I'm glad to read what you did, and I'm looking forward to AaraneX's expertise.

  6. I was suprisingly enough, prepared for the rain. I ALWAYS know when its going to rain because my father watches the weather channel on a regular basis.
    I blanket my QH in the winter, I don't like to, but I really have no choice, otherwise she does what farely was doing. Kez on the other hand I just blanketed because I wasn't sure if she had enough winter coat yet or not. I'm glad I did.
    Wish I had a few more coolers (or any at all! haha!) they are handy for unexpected rain.

    Glad Farely stayed dry and sensible!


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