Well, it’s still winter here in Western New York and even though we’ve been blessed with some mild weather over the past few weeks, we all know it won’t be long until winter has us fully in its grip. For me, winter provides a little bit more time to read and I try to use that precious time to read equine related articles and hopefully learn a few things about ways to better care for my horses. This week I was reading about all the “fun” activities equestrians do with their horses over the long winter months – trail riding, sleigh riding, skijoring… The list of activities goes on and on. I have to be honest here, I don’t do any of these things and I don’t know many people that do! While I do put extra effort into making sure my horses are happy and healthy during the winter months, you aren't going to catch me out in the woods trudging through three feet of snow on my trusty steed. The lack of outdoor equine related activities can be directly related to the fact that we have two types of winter around here, deep mud and deep snow, and the only thing in between is deep mud underneath deep snow. Truly not ideal footing for any type of riding, driving, or even for leading them very far. I know a few lucky people that have indoor arenas and can make the most out of the winter months, but most of us don’t have that luxury and we get through winter the best we can.
This wintery weather leads my horses to believe they are on an extended vacation – and basically, they are! They all have Hay Hoarders stuffed full 24/7 in their stalls and in the run in shelter, they get groomed to remove the mud or the snow, manes and tails are constantly being untangled, tails are braided to keep ice balls from forming, manes are combed, feet are picked and we fuss over them a bit more than normal. But, we don’t ask them to do much more than stand still while they are being pampered. Part of what makes the Hay Hoarder such an awesome feeding system is that when our horses need hay in front of them all day to help keep them warm and healthy because it’s 15 degrees outside, it’s so easy to stuff in a whole bale and walk away knowing they’ll have hay to munch all day and night. But, if they start getting a little chubby from their more limited exercise options, we can put less hay in the Hay Hoarder and still feel confident that the slow feed net will make the hay last longer through the day or night.
I’m guessing that some of our readers are asking themselves why we live in a place that makes it so difficult to ride throughout the year. I can only say that if you saw Western New York in the summer and fall, you’d know why. It’s beautiful here, and the riding opportunities are plentiful. We’re blessed with numerous equine friendly trail systems and the gorgeousness of our surroundings is hard to beat. I might not appreciate having to bundle up to the point of limiting my range of motion for 3 or 4 months out of the year, but I don’t think my horses are complaining, and they are all healthy and enjoying their winter break.
To our readers that live in places where the snow isn’t knee deep, the temperature is above 25 degrees, and there is still riding to be done – we’re just a little jealous of you!