Phew! July is turning out to be one hot potato of a month for many of us.
My travel plans with the horses are on hold as we sweat out some extreme weather patterns. I don’t think that asking them to get in a hot box will help them develop more positive associations with traveling considering we are still inconsistent in the loading department. I am waiting for better long-term weather forecast before planning another field trip.
At home, I’ve been sticking to my “we ride at dawn” routine on the worst days. We even did a “we ride at dawn bareback” on a day where it was miserably humid even before the sun rose. As the Summer continues, I might need to title a future post as “we ride at midnight bareback in a bathing suit”.
When I’m not riding or doing horse chores, I am giving the horses baths to help cool them. I worry about Bear in the heat because of his thicker coat thanks to his Cushing’s Disease. He doesn’t yet have the type of long hair coat that is sometimes characteristic of the PPID, but when I run my hands along and through his coat, I can feel how his hair quality has changed.
I wanted to get pictures of my bathing the horses, but I can’t figure out how not to risk ruining my phone/camera as I am often as wet as the horses by the time it is all over. But if I did have pictures, you would see that I usually bath them loose. I just ask them to walk with me to where I have strung out the hose into their paddock over a pile of pea gravel for drainage. Then I start the bath on the nozzle’s mist setting as they get used to the coolness of the water (my well water comes out of the ground VERY cold) before going to the shower setting for a better soaking. Bear and Shiloh seem to really enjoy both the bath itself and drinking from the hose. Even after I turn off the water, they often stand around, enjoying a moment of reliefe from feeling hot and sticky.
Watching the horses relax into a recent bath gave me material for another poem. Entitled “Water Respite”, you can read it on my Medium page at https://medium.com/any-writers/water-respite-f60af442e6fc.
Besides the baths, Bear and Shiloh also enjoyed trying an idea I got from Reese with the Horses of the Ozark Hills blog. You may recall a previous post of mine where I recreated a treat idea from her blog (https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/fun-idea-from-a-fellow-equine-blogger/). This new idea is for horse popsicles!
Reese’s horses seemed to understand what to do with the popsicles, but both Bear and Shiloh acted flummoxed when I put the frozen disks into their feed dishes. I ended up hand-holding the disks so they could bite into the sides and get the idea. Then I placed the disks back in their feed dishes and tossed some of their ration balancer pellets on top. By that time, the disks had begun seriously melting and made a nice wet slurry with the melting ice, the pellets and the little pieces of fruit. Of course, I have to be mindful of the amount and types of treats that Bear gets due to his EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) and PPID (Cushing’s Disease), but it was a neat treat to try on a hot afternoon.
Thank you to Reese for this fun and easy to make Summer- time treat variation! Check out her blog post for directions on how to make them at https://horsesoftheozarkhills.com/keeping-cool-horse-popsicle-recipe/!
Hoping you and your horses stay cool out there!