Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ranger Jim's Ramblings for January

First of all, a Happy and Prosperous New Year to All.

This is not the original topic I'd planned to write about this month. However, some other projects have taken precedence, which I need to get  done before eyelid surgery in February. That, and the bitterly cold weather which has descended led me to this topic. As a caveat, let me say that while I'm no fan of the cold, I'm tired of how so many people today react as if it's the end of the world. News flash-  it's winter, it gets cold, and it snows... especially in New England, the Midwest, the Plains, and the Rockies. Get over it, deal with it, or move to Acapulco.

Which brings me to cold and, what else, horses?
Nowadays, you're as likely as not to see a horse blanketed in the winter. This is the worst possible thing you can do to a healthy horse. Horses naturally grow thick coats to insulate themselves against the cold. I can always tell how bad a winter is going to be by how thickly Yankee grows his coat.  Blanket a horse too soon, and he won't grow the coat he needs to protect himself against winter's chill.  When I first moved Yankee to Gina's, she used to call me to tell me Yankee didn't want to go in the barn (it's a free-choice barn), but would stay out in a blizzard. I told her he was happy, and would go inside with his buddies when he got cold. Snow will build up an inch or two on a horse's back, and not melt, if he has a good coat. The hair inside a horse's ears help protect them from the cold. Also, horses will naturally bunch together for warmth, usually with tails to the wind.  When the weather's cold, Yankee and Trooper will almost always crowd into the same stall, rather than their own individual ones. There are four horses at the barn, including Merlin the mini, and sometimes you'll even find three of them in the same stall. Unless your horse is ill, or you've shaved him because he's a show horse (disgusting, but it's done), don't blanket him.
The fact is, most horses love the snow. They love to run in it, buck in in, roll in it, and play in it. The snow and cold air make an old horse act like a colt again. And there's nothing quite like getting out on your horse and galloping through a foot of fresh, powdery snow, especially if your horse's hoofprints are the first tracks across the woods and fields. So as soon as we get a good snowfall, Yankee and I will be out there. Until then, Happy Trails.

"Ranger" Jim


  1. True. In Colorado I used to see ice caked a couple inches thick on my horses' backs yet they were perfectly comfortable. Uh, not so much here in Florida.

    1. Not so much ice, or not so comfortable.... or both?

  2. It was a pleasure to read this article. Well done.

  3. I love to watch horses frolicking in cold weather. I wish low temps had the same effect on me. Beautiful photos!

  4. Nature knows, we just muck it up. Doris