Welcome to Winter in Oregon!

Winter has finally fully set in, in Salem Oregon. Its been raining non stop for pretty much the last two months. The neighbor’s back pasture is a lake, and our property is a swamp! I spent a lot of time and money in the last four years pecking away at this property we moved in to in the hopes of having some controlled areas so the horses could spend more time outside during the winter. I thought that this year I pretty much had some areas improved enough to give the horses a “safe place” to stand, to eat and be under cover…which I think they would have been if it was a “normal” winter. However, this winter seems to be one step away from Noah’s ark level, and my “safe” areas have turned into swamp land..though a couple of spots are still surviving the deluges.

Grace (pictured) and Mara both have a supreme hatred for being locked up and would rather roam free. Mara grows a very thick winter coat (one of the up sides to struggling with Cushings..at least she has a coat!) but Grace still struggles to grow one. Having been locked up in a stall and starved for over a year, her system still does not want to grow enough hair in the winter…though this winter she has far more than last year! With single digit numbers of cold coming to our area next week, I’m going to be forced to both stall her, and put a coat on her and hope she doesn’t hate me for life! Today happens to be sunny and she is taking full advantage of having a good winter sun soaking but next week will be a big challenge, both physically and mentally for both of us as I hate the cold as well.

I know many look at horses and think “they are fine, they adapt”…and that’s true, they do adapt…when they are in their natural habitat. They group together in a herd, the strongest in the middle, the weakest on the outside and risk being hunted or lose their lives to save the strongest. But our horses are not wild ones, they are tamed. We struggle to feed them as they should be but without the risks of the wild they still live much longer lives. In order to protect and extend those lives they need to be protected, fed well, covered when their bodies need help, sheltered and even loved. They depend on us to do what is right for them. For me, I am very disappointed that my attempts at keeping the mud at bay are not as successful as I had hoped but I’ll continue to make improvements until I get it right. I’ll also chase down my indoors hating horses and stall them up for the very unusual, close to zero temperatures, that are coming and be very thankful that I have a shop full of Calm Down Now to help them through the stress of being stalled for a few nights. Grace may be a bit grouchy at me for a bit, but she has a very kind heart and forgives quickly. After all, the more horses in our tiny barn, the warmer it will be for the chickens, goats and the old lady minis.

So remember, you are your horse’s protector. Consider the conditions they have to survive in that aren’t “natural” to them. Blanket as needed, supply extra hay, give them a larger feed bucket than normal with additional healthy fats to make up for the calories they burn to stay warm, and most of all.remember to give them a hug and a pat.

Happy Holidays to all!

UPDATE: And before I could even get this posted…here comes the snow! Check out our next article: Dealing with Cold Weather

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