Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Princess and the Cold

When you look at the weather network and see the word "frigid" scribbled across the point on the map where you live.... jump in the car, drive to the nearest airport and get on the first flight to Hawaii, Mexico, Libia, anywhere where one can survive outside for more than twenty minutes without becoming a human Popsicle.

Last night the winds were gusting at 80-100kms (50-65 miles) an hour and the windchill was around -20C (-4F)... so... cold enough? Why yes it was! The problem with these cold fronts is that they come on suddenly and harshly. Last week it was a balmy 7-8C (50s F) and by the end of this week it should be back around 6C. The horses (and people) just don't have time to acclimatize.

So last night I stopped in to make sure LP was all tucked in snug and warm only to discover that she wasnt eating her feed as usual. She had eaten very little in the hour since she has been given her supper and when I offered her grain she showed no interest in it at all (which is VERY alarming for a horse that usually begs for it). She also had that distinct "funny" look that most horsemen learn to recognize yet that remains impossible to define. My instinct was that she was cold and that maybe her gut was clenched. When I put my hand under her blanket I didnt feel that usual pocket of warmth.... so... off I went home to grab hot water and a warm bran mash slurry. I threw a blanket in the dryer to get it warm before stuffing it in a garbage bag and heading out to the barn (at the suggestion of my trusty friend Barbie). By the time I got back she appeared a little less "funny" but still off so I threw the warm blanket on her and then a stall blanket on top of that. I then offered her the bran mash (which had a hefty dose of molasses in it)... to which she totally snubbed her nose. So I added some grain to it.... to no avail... so I added even more grain to it (wasnt going to let her eat it all but it would at least get her going) and she still wanted nothing to do with it. I shouldnt have been surprised... LP wouldnt eat carrots, apples, horse treats or anything besides grain when she first came. I tried warm apple juice with just a bit of grain in it but she wouldnt have that either. I gave up on feeding her something warm and instead dumped warm water in her water bucket...which she drank. I was there for about an hour total and by the time I was done fussy with her she had perked up and was eating with more vigor. I left the extra horse blanket on her overtop of her usual winter (usually it would go under but I didnt want to let out the warmth she had gained). LP will also be getting some extra grain until the weather turns to a more reasonable seasonable... the extra calories she can burn in to heat.

(P. in her jammies with neck guard up)

I think I am going to try to introduce small amounts of bran in to her diet and other such things so that if and when getting medication or a hot slurry on a cold night, it wont be such a big to-do.

While I was there I treated her mud fever (as I have been the past ten days or so). I am very pleased with how much of it has healed up. The treatment I went with was one really good removal of all the scabbies (after soaking them in mineral oil) and I clipped the hair on and around the effected areas. I then treated the area with a daily treatment of Hibitane ointment and some zinc cream on really wet days. She was kept in a dry paddock for a week to give it a head start against the wet fields. This spell of cold weather should help things along so I hope *fingers crossed* that it will be completely gone within another week. Her cough is completely gone now (after having her hay wet down and fed on the ground) but we'll have to wait and see if it gets stirred up again when I get to riding her. The spot on her cheek has a good start to filling in with new hair growth, I treated it with the Hibitane ointment for a week and am now giving it a little dot of MTG. LP also had rain scald on her neck which is clearing up nicely after I treated it with MTG.

(LP with neck guard pulled back)

I was told before that when you blanket you take responsibility for making sure that horse is warm or cool because you take away some of their ability to create warmth for themselves (by reducing the amount of hair coat they have) and their ability to "puff" that hair up on colder days (the blanket makes the hair lie flat). I should have monitored LP earlier and thought ahead better as to how much blanketing she would need this week... I hope this time that lesson will stick... never assume that your horse is warm enough just because you have a winter blanket on. Always check to make sure that there is a pocket of warmth under the blanket (there wasnt last night when I checked P) and double blanket if need be.

If it's one thing I'll give LP, she sure has a way of keeping me on my toes!

Is it just me or is she a bit of a high maintenance Princess? Self fulfilling prophecy maybe? I think I am going to rename her Hardy.... Tuff or Resilient... or just plain Easy. I kinda like Easy as a name... despite the slutty connotation. What is a name or word that implies, "I'm really low maintenance" to you?


  1. *giggle*

    Hey Chelsi!! You can call her "Easy There Rugged"...hehehe.. She's "easy" and "rugged" all at the same time! ;) (Thats a saying, along with Cowboy Up, I tell my boys all the time. hehe)

    Sounds like you are on a roll there though. Keep it up woman!

  2. Nice jammies!

    Dee is a high maintenance princess, too. Blankets and dinner that looks like a chemistry experiment.

    Our weather did pretty much what yours did...t-shirt weather to deep freeze. I'm showing -4F and it's daytime. So Dee has her slicker, and her liner, and her midweight bellyband blanket now. I hope it doesn't get much colder because I don't have anything else to add!

  3. We're running around -33 C (-27 F) right now. What I've learned about cold weather is free choice hay, watch water consumption (that's a common cause of colic - they stop drinking), and ensure they have adequate shelter and bedding.

    I've done both blanket's and naked - now if they're not being used I only blanket when it's excessively cold (-40 C ish) to help break the wind. And yes - it sucks but you do gotta check under the blanket each day. lol

    Good luck! Rumour has it we'll be warming up around Thursday.

  4. My Dawn is a "fragile flower" too - lots of blanketing needed, even when it isn't that cold! That's just how she is. Pie was out today with no blanket at all and just fine!

  5. Luckily my horses are hardy (they need to be where I live) and they dont have any blankets, just a windbreak and lots of grass and warm water, its not perfect, but when they are frollicking and its -27 it cant be all bad even if Im freezing, obviously they arent.

  6. "Breezy" as in "easy-breezy", which is what I say when I ask Poco or Jaz to do something and I get that "I'm not sure about this" attitude.

    I'm hoping Jaz is a bit hardier this year since he's not battling parasites this winter. Last year, he shivered if it went below about 60F.

    I think you and I are going to keep the white shampoo people in business.

  7. i always feel the ears too. i don't know if that is an accurage gauge, but if the ears are warm, he's always warm under the blanket too. i double blanket when we get down to 10 below (C). i love LPs blanket with neck guard. she looks so cozy and her neck can't get muddy (right?).

    the sky here has that yellowish look to it that means SOMETHING is coming for us. brrrrrr....

    it's so fun to spoil the horses with warm meals, i hope she acclimates to your mashes.

  8. as I read your post & everyone's comments I sorta felt guilty as I had been feeling very sad about the weather being in the 40's here... crazy I know! This weather won't last much longer. Supposedly it will be 50 today (very unseasonable for us) so I plan on making an offer at that cute little paint gelding and hopefully going to get him! Thanks for your advice yesterday! :)

  9. Country Girl is right about the hay--my vet told me that eating hay heats up the horses' bodies so they stay warmer. It's also a better choice than grain because it's less likely to ferment in a slower-than-usual gut (because of decreased water intake, common in cold weather), and because eating hay makes horses thirsty so they *will* drink.

    Do you have a water tank heater or heated bucket? I have no idea why I spent so many years bashing ice out of buckets--the tank heater is amazing, and the horses will drink more water if it's a bit warmer. Between the tank heater and double blankets, my mares are doing fine right now...but I can't wait to return to rain!

  10. Seems to me any princess is high maintenance. It goes with the territory, I think. LOL

    Having worked in a tack store for a few years back when, I know that all winter blankets are not created equal. They get thermal ratings on them just like winter coats for humans do. If you have an idea of your blankets rating you know what kind of temps it will be good for. If I remember very few of them have ratings low enough for your current conditions and maybe even for mine right now.

    You might try introducing that warm mash in small doses to get her used to that too. That way when you really need her to eat it, she'll be happy to. That's what I do with my broodmares because I always give them one right after foaling. Their temperatures drop radically right after partruition so they get the shakes. Helps with that and possible colic too.

  11. Well you did everything right. She is luck to have you! We are having a cold snap here too - Pat has been standing at the barn door waiting to be let in at night...

  12. Ok- I'll stop complaining aobut our record LOW of 32 degrees! Sheesh, we are California after all...
    Try a little extra loose salt in her bran or grain ration, OR some electrolyte powder in her water bucket. You can get a good one at Healthyasa Horse.com and they have some for people too!

  13. My Great Dane, Roxanne, likes to be covered with a fleece blanket and tucked in at night when it's cold here. Usually, she'll tickle me with her whiskers or poke me with her nose around 4-5 am because she's lost her blanket, is cold and needs to be tucked in again. If I try to ignore her, she will go to my husband's side of the bed and he'll let her crawl up into our queen bed and cuddle, until I wake up and kick her off and tuck her in. There really isn't room for all three of us. I'd make her dog jammies, foal blanket style, but she loves having her legs covered too.

    So, maybe LP has a run for her money with this princess business!

  14. Ugh, our weather did the same darn thing! I was freaking out, checking under blankets constantly, but they all seemed to take it just fine. At one point there were icicles hanging off the sides of their blankets from laying down in the snow and it melting and then freezing when they stood up. At least it showed that none of their body heat was escaping when they were standing, they were nice and toasty warm under there!

    When we got Sugar all the names we came up with for her were spicy...Ginger, Pepper, Bonzaii, etc. We decided since she was already a spicy red head, we needed to name her something sweet that she would grow into. lol It's working, she's really sweet now! You could try Tuffy or NeverEverGoesLameorHasAnyIssuesEver...NEGLHIE? LOL

  15. I'm sorry, I really know what seems hot/cold is regional. But when you were talking -20C I had to giggle because we just came through a bitter cold spell where it hovered between -30C to -40C for about a week.

    Maybe your girl would do better if you were able to keep her water a bit warmer in the winter?