Thursday, January 17, 2013

how to deal with crazy weather and evaluate your horses for lameness all at the same time

It's been raining here for two days now, and the local weather station has predicted snow tonight. As beautiful as snow is, I am having a hard time getting excited about inches of anything that melts landing on this already-saturated ground. But what can I do?

I had to drive my daughter to her biology class today. She went out early and got the barn cleaned up, no easy feat after a night of six equines eating hay and dropping manure inside the stalls and barn aisle. I went out after she finished to feed breakfast and get them set up for the couple of hours I'd be gone.

I cleaned up the extra manure they'd dropped since daughter went inside. Cleaned and filled water buckets. Checked water troughs and filled one. Cleaned feed tubs and put them away. Heaped mangers with hay. Gave out some peppermints. And, in a rare occurrence, closed the gates to both fields. It is so mucky out. I didn't want them rolling in the mud and I didn't really want them tromping through it either.

Since I closed the gates to the fields, I decided to open the gate to the arena. My last remark as I left the barn was this: I'll be back soon. Go in the arena if you get bored but don't roll in there!

The arena is grayish white screenings and it is a huge grooming nightmare when they roll in it wet. Worse than mud! But it drains well and cleans their hooves and gives them a place to parade around when the weather gets like this. So.

The drive to biology class was harried. Steady rain, poor visibility, having to be there on time. We were three-quarters of the way there when I realized we had time to spare. "Let's stop and get ice cream!" We drive by a local creamery where the cows live outdoors and are treated humanely. We're not getting our usual raw milk right now because Molly escaped in the fall and had a date with a Black Angus. She is taking some time off until her calf weans. So for now we're buying the local dairy milk and I love supporting their ice cream arm of operations.

Ten minutes later I had a coffee shake and daughter had a chocolate chip cookie dough waffle cone and all was much, much better. The rain seemed less wet somehow, and the landscape less bleak. Even the thought of four inches of snow seemed light and fluffy. All thoughts of mud had escaped my mind.

I dropped daughter off and headed back toward home. My husband picks her up and today he had double duty, as son was already at play rehearsal, so he had to pick up daughter first, then get son. I got ten minutes back toward home and suddenly the truck seemed to be having a hard time accelerating. Something felt off, but I was so cheerful, I decided it had to be the rough road. I drove on. Then I realized something was really wrong. I looked for the next safe place to pull over on the country road I was on. As I pulled off the road I smelled a horrible burnt rubber smell.

I got out. The front right tire was flat to the rim.

I called husband. He was at work, probably a half-hour away. He said he would be there as soon as he could. Somehow, even with the flat tire, I was still buoyed by that coffee milkshake. I cleaned out the glove box and the compartment between the front seats. I cleaned out my purse. I wrote in my little blue Moleskine, listing the names of all my books that are published and those that are in progress. It was not a list of things to do, but a list of things I have done. About the time I finished this list, husband showed up.

He sent me home in his car while he stayed and got the tire changed.

When I got home it was an hour past Salina's first lunch time. I hurried out to the barn to feed her. Of course all the morning hay was gone. The three geldings were in the arena, trotting around.

I fed Salina, replenished the mangers, and then proceeded to muck the stalls - and the arena. The arena had been pristine when I left, but now it was studded with beautiful hoof prints. It was clear from the patterns that I have three very sound horses. The walk and trot strides tracked up perfectly. The cantering was big and bold. All frogs looked to be healthy and loading well. 

Salina and the donkeys had wisely stayed in the barn, making a communal manure pile so their space stayed tidy. They were also clean and dry.

The geldings, of course, had to prove the old saying that if a horse is sound he can roll all the way over. All three were gray on both sides.

Now we're just waiting for the snow to start.

(all photos courtesy of dear husband and earlier in the week before the rain set in!)


Grey Horse Matters said...

Well there's nothing better than a stop at a creamery to make everything seem brighter. Glad you were able to call for help and get that tire fixed. We're between soggy and frozen on any given day of the week right now and it is tiresome. But it's January and we'll get through it. Sounds like the boys had a good time in the arena.

Matthew C. said...

Too bad I didn't get any pictures of them "grey on both sides". That would have been a sight to see!

billie said...

A, thank you for reminding me that yes, we will get through this soggy mess. Thankfully the sun is beaming strong today and they are out enjoying it.

billie said...

M, it looks like they have turned into ghost versions of themselves. Crazy! I don't know why they want to roll in there in the first place - the muddy paddock was totally open to them. I suspect the wet footing feels good to them - sort of like a loofah scrub might.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Way to go with the flow! :D

billie said...

C, I was definitely in it. And then we got nothing but a few flakes on the deck and rooftops!