I am a bit late in getting this post done, I’ll use Christmas as my excuse, LOL.
What being late with this post has allowed me to do though is see how the winter is progressing. As I anticipated this is a really good winter to document a horse herd as they range for their feed in a tough, west central Alberta winter. Lots of snow. Lots of cold. Like I remember as a kid.
December 1st brought us a good dump of snow. The young horses almost enjoy the new snow. It is no hardship for them.
They have access to free choice quality hay, a bedded shed and warm, clean water. The rest of the herd has access to the waterer also.
The herd and the youngsters have shared this waterer for many years and we have noticed that the young horses maintain their association with their mothers, siblings and the rest of the herd by spending lots of time visiting the herd members as they come for water.
The water trough is the social center.
Just like the coffee table or the water cooler perhaps?
But now things are considerably harder for the herd. Now they have to do some work for their food. For horses like Eddie, this is a good thing. Eddie spends his whole summer in a small area we refer to as the Jennie Craig pen. He usually has company. Quarter horses seem to frequently be “good keepers” and getting too fat is one of the biggest threats to their soundness. Eddie considers himself King Eddie and is happiest when he is out ruling his kingdom. He is a good king and loves to play with the other young horses.
So once the grass loses its lushness and the cold weather begins, Eddie gets to live with the herd. You can see the joy on his face when you turn him out that day.
Once the snow comes the horses spend less time standing around sleeping and more time pawing and seeking out food. This is not all bad. The exercise is very good for them and sometimes I think that just like kids, having a few chores keeps them out of trouble. Bored horses, especially young ones can find ways to get themselves into trouble even in a padded cell.
The snow is still soft. They can push through it with their noses. Some grass is still poking through. Still pretty good times for horses.
With no bugs and no wind, living in the pasture in the winter can be even more enjoyable than in the summer when they are fighting flies and mosquitoes and wet from the rain.
And it is quite enjoyable for those of us who like to go out for a nice cross country ski almost as much as for a nice ride.