View from Mattie’s Pillow

Temperatures dropping again. It’s a challenge to keep the horses comfortable with such radical fluctuations–from 50 below to 50 above last week; now back around zero and dropping to 20 below by the weekend. I blanket them with heavyweight blankets when the temperatures head to 30 below, trying to time it so that I do it before the temperature point where my fingers get too cold to manipulate the buckles but not before the blankets would keep their thick coats from doing the job they do so well.

Yesterday, Sam, the watch horse who insists in standing out of the run-in shed in any weather, was shivering when I went to feed him in the morning. He had stood out in the snowfall the day before and had had small drifts of it on his back, which turned to glaciers, stuck to his thick coat. If he were willing to spend time in the shed, like Mattie does, the ice would have never formed or would have melted and dried. But there he stood, coat thick with ice, some of it melted and wet to his skin.

I blanketed him with a fleece blanket liner to wick the melting ice away, and he looked happier. I saw him later, standing with his head over the fence, looking for dog walkers on the road below the corral, the blue fleece on his back frosty from where he had rolled and from the moisture wicking out of his coat. I took it off later in the day to keep his coat from packing down and making him colder and found that the ice had melted off his back and reformed down along his belly. I thought of putting a quilted blanket on him, but his back was dry and I knew that, if our temperatures really drop, I’d need to keep that blanket in reserve.

Today, his coat is dry. The sun is a little brighter than yesterday as it makes its slow progress back up our northern sky. Mattie stands sideways to it, soaking in what heat she can with her black coat. Sam, a white horse in the snow, is back at the fence, moving a little at a time to stand in a triangle of light, moving as it moves.

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