Along with this colder weather comes three things most horse owners are familiar with - frozen water hoses (well, frozen EVERYTHING), long horse hair (unless you have a horse that refuses to grow a winter coat), and cockleburs.
The water hoses I can manage. Kentucky's unpredictable weather has taught us a few lessons when it comes to using water hoses in the winter.
- First - never leave your water hose hooked up to the water hydrant when the temperatures drop below freezing. If it freezes there, and/or the pipes burst, you're up an (icy) creek without a paddle.
- Take advantage of the sun as a warming source - black water hoses will heat up in the sunshine and can help speed up the unthawing process.
- Nothing is worse than a water hose that springs a leak when it's 16 degrees (or colder!) Getting sprayed by cold water when your face is already numb is the last thing you want to happen. Replace all leaky hoses before the cold weather hits.
NOTE: Water hydrants are another story. When these things freeze up, it becomes extra annoying. Speaking from experience, I'd advise you to check the water hydrant(s) at your barn and make sure they are properly working, insulated, etc. prior to sub-zero temperatures. Otherwise you may find yourself carrying water to your horse from the house.
Most of our horses grow hair like polar bears for the winter, starting as early as September. (And that's a GOOD thing considering the temperature has been in the single digits the past few days!)
It always seems like once we finally get the horses shed out for the peak of show season, they immediately start working towards their next winter coat.
Blankets are only used out of necessity in our barn, with an occasional exception made for senior horses who are underweight, or Karma, for example, who refused to grow a thick winter coat for the first 5 years she lived here.
Longer hair also means that horses can overheat quickly when working during colder weather, so be sure to monitor your horse if you decide to go dashing through the snow.
And with the abundance of dry air, don't be surprised if there's a spark when you go to pet your favorite horse. This video from the Bay Area Equestrian Network offers tips for how to de-static your horse and avoid shocking him.
These little pokey devils find their way into horse's longer hair coats, manes, and tails, wreaking havoc on all lengths of hair and resulting in a matted mess. If I had a quarter for every cocklebur I've pulled out of my horses' (and dogs') hair, I'd be rich by now!
Before you start, I know, proper pasture management would *theoretically* get rid of these annoying attachments. But no matter how many times we mow the fields and get rid of weeds, they always seem to appear and are magnets to horse hair.