Wednesday, June 01, 2011

lessons in riding, 7: when it's too hot for me, it's too hot for Keil Bay

We've had a stretch of very unusually hot for this time of year weather last week and now again this week. Highs in the mid-90s, yesterday 96. Although I could get up early and ride, it's not the time of day that fits with my normal routine, so thus far I have been relying on my own comfort level to determine if it's a riding day - or not.

If I'm sweating and uncomfortable by the time I feed breakfast tubs, it's my determination that it's also too hot for the Big Bay. Yesterday I stood in the relative cool shade of the feed room, with sweat dripping into my eyes, which were stinging and burning as a result. No way are we tacking up and heading into the arena on a day like that!

My main objective on these high heat days is the comfort of the horses and donkeys. They get their wet tubs, clean water, extra salt, and I will often put their hay in nets so I can rinse and wet it down. They clearly enjoy the extra hydration.

I offer hosings at least once during hot days and sometimes twice. Yesterday, I was standing out by the water trough, under the oak tree, hose in hand, wetting down my hat so I could cool off a bit before proceeding with chores. Keil Bay marched out, looked at me like I was in dire need of some horse sense, and put his hoof in the trough to wet me (and him) down from head to toe/hoof. It was so clearly a "this poor woman needs some hosing" moment I had to laugh out loud. And thank him, for taking care of me the same way I try to take care of him on very hot days.

They all got hosings and the donkeys came out of the barn to roll in their dust circle. It still makes me laugh when I see them - they love to do what the horses are doing - but donkeys don't generally seem to like water - so they do their own version of hosing - rolling in dust!

I've been letting one gelding a day hang out in the stall and grass paddock on the near side of the barn. The pony is being a big nuisance every day - he crams himself into Keil Bay's stall and Keil gets so annoyed he starts kicking the barn. Short of locking the pony in, which I don't mind doing for a few hours a day but don't like to do for longer than that (he doesn't like drinking out of water buckets - prefers the big troughs), moving one gelding to the other side of the barn has helped alleviate the problem.

Yesterday was Keil's turn on the near side of the barn, and because he gets along well with Salina, I left the stall door open so all four of them: Keil, Salina, and the donkeys, could use both stalls, the barn aisle, and the grass paddock. When I got my things together to come inside, I noticed that Keil (16.2 and 1350 odd lbs., Salina (15.2 and close to 1200 lbs.) and two miniature donkeys had lined themselves up in Salina's 12x12 stall, in prime fan space, and were happily snoozing away.

So much for all that space they had!

We're in for another high 90s day so I'll likely be doing the same routine yet again. Between the water hose with all the cool settings on the spray nozzle, and Keil Bay's magic hoof, we will beat the heat together.


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Ha - Keil Bay cracks me up - giving you a splash. Too funny billie :)

billie said...

Believe me, it was more than a splash - it was a complete soaking that lasted about 20 seconds. He does nothing halfway!

Grey Horse Matters said...

This heat is horrible. We had 92 and humid Sunday and thunderstorms with lightning so I decided against riding. I can't ride everyday anyway I have too many obligations. But you're right no to ride when it's so hot. I never do if it's over 90 or if the humidity is up there. I actually woke up the other day looked out at the humidity fog and thought to myself, I'm sure glad we're not showing anymore. I used to hate those three day shows in the summer.

Funny about Keil helping to cool you off and then all of them cramming like sardines into the one stall.

billie said...

I know - they were lined up perfectly in order to fit! :)

ponymaid said...

billie - we had a day last week when I saw my breath in the air first thing in the morning. We then had a sweltering day where the humans looked blotchy and wilted and donkeys didn't so much as break a perspiration. What a strange climate. Dust remains our first and only choice of cleansing and cooling material, no matter the weather. Water is simply too --- wet.

billie said...

Sheaffer, your weather is reminding me of how ours can be down south. We had a break in the heat yesterday and then last night the 50s felt downright cold!

I love when I pat the donkeys and little clouds of dust float up. It's like fly repellent going backwards.

Michelle said...

What a sweet story! I always love to read snippets about your barn life - they illustrate such a magical and fulfilling bond between you and your animals.

billie said...

The sweet stories go on and on, Michelle, and then we have a barn-busting day (like last week, literally) to shake things up again. :)