Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ranger Jim's Rambling's for December

Just got back from a shootout with a real bad hombre. He plugged me, and it looked like I was done for, but thanks to my loyal cayuse, Yankee, who revived me, (Yes, that is his big tongue swiping my face) I was able to gun down that outlaw. A Ranger needs a faithful horse.
Speaking of horses, with winter fast coming upon us, my thoughts turn to how horses, like all creatures, have to adapt for cold weather. I often kid folks that Yankee is a better weather forecaster than any of the professionals. If his back is warm, it's sunny, if it's wet, it's raining, if it's white, it's snowing, and if his mane is ruffling and his tail is switching back and forth it's windy.

Seriously, I can always tell how hard a winter is going to be by how think Yankee's coat grows. The thicker it is, the colder, and usually snowier, the winter. This one looks to be about average in these parts.

That's one fallacy many horse people have, that horses need to be confined inside during cold weather. Most horses do just fine outside, and will be okay as long as they have some shelter to get under if the weather turns too frigid or stormy. Blanketing a horse is fallacy number two. Blanketing a horse too soon, or all the time, means he won't grow a proper winter coat, which can lead to chills and illness. Let Mother Nature do her job, let the horse's coat grow, and he'll be just fine, except in the most extreme cold or wet. Then is the time to bring him in and blanket if necessary. Most times, you'll see horses who have the choice to go inside remaining out, even in the worst weather. It's their nature.

Shoes for the winter are another story. Regular flat horseshoes are a real hazard. They are as slippery as walking on ice, and snow can ball up inside them and freeze, so the horse is literally walking on balls of ice, sometimes up to four inches thick. A broken leg waiting to happen. So, in cold climates, horses either go barefoot for the winter, or else wear special borium shoes, which have little studs or cleats, as well as pads under the shoe. Those pads have a bulge in them, which prevents snow from building up.

So, let your horse's coat grow, shoe him properly or not at all, and he'll be just fine... until spring, when all that long hair sheds out and you can make yourself a horsehair sofa.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

"Ranger" Jim


  1. Good post, Jim, and good advice for those fortunate enough to have horses. (:Lord, I do miss mine.)

  2. Nature always seems to know best. Great post. Thank you. Doris