Monday, January 6, 2014

You Might Be a Wisconsin Horse Owner IF... (Winter edition)

Howdy folks. Are you cold enough yet?! I'm doing OK myself, but very worried about a couple of freezing horses that need rescuing. And it's not just the cold itself that is worrying, it's the complications that come along with it.

The wind can be a killer. At 32 degrees F (freezing) a 10- to 15-mph wind will require horses to consume an additional 4 to 8 pounds of hay to meet their increased energy requirements. When temperatures are colder and winds are higher, they can't physically eat all hay they need to get the necessary calroies, meaning they will require grain. But with the increased need for dry hay and rich grain comes another danger: dehydration.

Hay is very, very dry, and horses need to drink more water in order for their bodies to process it. Unfortunately, when horses are very cold, and their water is cold, they are much less likely to drink. Experts say that horses are most reluctant to drink water that is below 40 degrees. This can lead to major problems, including colic. Reduced exercise, not having grazing available most of the time, and more grain than usual can also induce cold-weather colic. Read more about it here at The Horse.

In this case, the two horses don't even really have water; what they have is a frozen, filthy bucket of ice. The neglectful owner has been scraping by, giving his horses the bare minimum (or less), and that just doesn't cut it, especially when the weather gets so bad. He has no concept of basic care, much less the extra attention horses require when temperatures drop below zero.

Read more about winter horse care at these links, and please do try to educate those around you:
As for those two neglected horses, I'm waiting around to see if I can get them out of there this afternoon. More on that later. In the meantime, help me release some tension: let's take a break for a little Wisconsin winter hilarity!

You Might Be a Wisconsin Horse Owner IF:

You have ever stubbed your toe really hard on frozen horse shit.

Your Christmas wish list is always 70% tack and 30% warm riding clothes.

Your horses leave the barn, look around, and come right back in again.

20 degrees Fahrenheit is something you're looking forward to.

You have ever had to de-ice the lock on your shed door with a lighter.

You leave your house to do barn chores by climbing out of a second-story window.

Staying up late to sew torn horse blankets is now a weekly family tradition.

There is a tool in your feed room reserved just for chipping out frozen grain.

The "popular fashion" in your town is icicle hair.

When you hear the word "snowball," your first thought is about checking your horse's hooves.

Your truck contains a bag of cat litter, two shovels, a tow chain, and a zero degree sleeping bag.

You know what "skijoring" is.

You can totally relate to this poem:

It's Winter in Wisconsin
And the gentle breezes blow.
Seventy miles an hour,
At thirty-five below.
Oh, how I love Wisconsin,
When the snow's up to your butt.
You take a breath of winter air
And your nose gets frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful,
So I guess I'll hang around.
I could never leave Wisconsin,
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground!

You Might Be a Wisconsin Horse Owner IF:

On more than one occasion, you have covered every piece of furniture in your kitchen with thawing-out horse blankets.

You can buckle a horse blanket onto a horse in the dark, with heavy gloves on, while standing on ice, without having to halter the horse.

You're a master at driving in snow, you're OK with riding in negative temperatures, and you don't mind shoveling.... but the words "the pump is frozen" send you into spasms of despair.

You have ever de-iced a very long hose in your kitchen or garage.

You have seriously considered cutting out blocks of ice and snow to use as windbreaks.

Your neighbor comes over to visit you... by driving his tractor up to your dock.

Your wallet, coat pocket and bra all have hay chaff in them:

When you don't fill your feeders, the wildlife around your place gets really desperate.

You've spent so much time thawing blankets, trying to shovel frozen manure, de-icing the water hose, etc that you finally say "fuck it" and just bring your horses into the house.

You Might Be a Wisconsin Horse Owner IF:

The most common form of a polite goodbye in your town is, "Stay warm!"

The electric bills for your tank heaters drive you to drink.

You have at least one relative that has done this:

You refuse to let the weather prevent you from grilling on game days.

You see lots signs like this:

Even your snowman decides it's too cold at your farm:

Unexpected visitors arrive:

You have to keep a shovel inside your house just to dig your way out of the front door.

 Cleaning up your tack room, mud room and feed room becomes impossible.

Your pony is seriously in danger of being buried by snow.

That's all for now, folks-- stay tuned to North Horse, and stay warm!

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