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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Advance Preparation

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While people in Florida have been preparing in advance for the threat of hurricane Ian, yesterday we took a first step in preparing for cold weather that will be impacting our lives in the weeks and months ahead. We’ve been planning for a while to try something new to see if we could adjust our horses’ attitudes about the inside of the barn. The last time we put them inside the stalls during harsh weather they were none too happy about it. More precisely, downright panicky over it.

The weather yesterday morning served up added inspiration for executing our plan by presenting our first confirmed frost of the season.

Didn’t really see that coming. The air temperature was 37°F up at the house. That much colder down the hill, obviously.

On a perfectly sunny morning, we opened access to the barn to let the horses freely explore on their own initiative while we lingered nearby to provide a calming presence. With the four stalls all open and stocked with food and water, they had a chance to come inside and check out the entire space or step in a stall for a nibble, yet they could also go right back outside whenever they wished.









There was plenty of apprehension and a few instances of being startled but overall they behaved as well as we hoped and inspired us to continue the exercise many more times in the days ahead. It’s a little akin to having four bulls in a china shop to have them loosely meandering in the cramped space around the stalls. Mix was the only one to figure out there was something to eat in the stalls and grabbed a mouthful of feed before quickly darting back outside to munch. Then she came back in and repeated the routine a couple times.

Any quick movement from one horse triggers all the others to follow suite which is a little nerve wracking when suddenly they all have to make it through a narrow door at once.

They were obviously unsure about what we were up to and wary about the strange access we had granted. We are hoping their uncertainty will diminish with future iterations of the drill. Eventually, we will want to get them used to coming inside during darkness since that is often the situation when we end up bringing them in during stormy or super cold winter weather.

As often as possible in the days ahead, we hope to allow them to come and go as they please inside the barn in hopes of creating and strengthening feelings of comfort with being in the stalls.

Back when we had the Arabian horses our experience was completely different. Those four would line up and beg to be allowed in during nasty weather and seemed thrilled to each have their own protected spaces with unchallenged access to food and water.

I’m not expecting to achieve a change to that level from our rescued Thoroughbreds, but just getting to a point where they don’t show signs of triggered PTSD when we bring them inside during bad weather will be a great relief.

I like being prepared in advance, just in case we experience any bitter storms this winter.



Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

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