Oh my goodness, it is cold outside. But I am actually thankful that it is this cold, with squeeky, crunchy powder snow everywhere because if it were the usual Cascade Concrete, then the horses would be stuck in the stalls til it melted. This super fine stuff allows us to turn the horses out for a few hours during the day, where Seattle Sludge balls up in their feet and makes dangerous ankle bruising hooves. Cricket has been making a habit of snoozing in the snow, making little belly dents in her paddock and Maverick is efficiently nuzzling his way down to edible grass and proving that Mustang’s are more resourceful than warmbloods.
I am so used to our horses getting 14 or so hours of turnout every day, that I forget perhaps this is a more “normal” schedule for a big barn to keep. Kat (new working student from KY) has come here straight from a fancy, schmancy hunter barn where every horse got 1 hour turnout daily. And turnout with 4 polos on, 4 bell boots, fly masks and sheets! The horses are ridden at most for 20 minutes and the rest of the time they spend in their stalls. I cant help but think that while I know they get great care, feed and training at that barn, how much would I want to be a horse there? Yet, most sport horses in Europe never get turnout at all. I remember Jules Nissen telling me once that the last time a young Dutch horse is wooly and dirty is the last day before he tries the bit and saddle on for the first time as a 2 year old. After that, it is a life of indoor arenas and hand walking. Are these horses healthy? Yes, of course, and they are very loved, Im sure. But still, I wouldnt want to be one of them.
I will continue to nurse the nicks, bruises, wash dirty tails and look for lost shoes that happen here at the farm that all result from our turnout schedule. I think its a small price to pay for the endless hours of relaxation, playtime and grazing that our horses get in exchange for working so hard for us.