Relative Something

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

Disastrous Footing

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One of the things that make rain in February so awful is the aftermath. Any snow that has been packed down by driving, walking, or horse activity turns into a wobbly polished surface of slippery ice. It’s about the worst possible situation for the horses to move around on, especially on slopes like the ones in our paddocks.









Yesterday morning, while I was doing my best to provide a way for the horses to cope with the slippery conditions, Mia made the mistake of trying to make her way downhill. It was a decision she couldn’t go back on once she made the first move. I was a bit traumatized to be witnessing such a precarious maneuver by a 1200-pound hooved beast. She slipped and stutter-stepped her way down the slope, ultimately avoiding the worst outcome and coming to a stop while still on her feet.

The frantic trip down the icy surface appeared to make it obvious to Mia that she wasn’t going to be able to move around on the ice even though she’d made it to that spot. She seemed to realize her only option was to get back up where she’d come from. After just a few seconds of hesitation, she began moving her hooves to head back up but there was more slipping than stepping happening.

She knew momentum was needed and bobbed her head and flexed enough muscle to attack the incline with some semblance of a run. Somehow, that slipping run was successful and she arrived back to the muddy surface around the overhang.

I was working on covering a pathway with old hay to provide footing to get down to the waterer.

I’d already set out buckets of water under the overhang because it was so treacherous for them to reach the waterer but offering the potential route down felt better than doing nothing at all.

I have no idea how long the icy condition will persist.

In the image above you can see the icy area is darker than the white snow in the distance. I may attempt to rake some sand and/or spread more old hay around on the slope to give the horses options for moving around. The scariest risk comes when one of the horses feels a need to get bossy and the target of their aggression panics in her hasty attempt to escape. If all four horses are confined to the limited space by the overhang, things can get a little testy.

Last night I closed gates to split them into two groups of two to minimize their bickering.

There is no place for shenanigans when the footing gets this disastrous.



Written by johnwhays

February 16, 2023 at 7:00 am

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