Friday, December 18, 2009

Ice Skating on Hooves

So far my wish for the sun to stay out and melt the snow has been happening, but the ground is so saturated that the water just sits on top like a pond and freezes overnight. Mornings are tricky, because I have to be careful not to slip on ice or allow the horses to slip on ice. The section directly in front of their barn is an ice rink, so I can't just open the stall doors and let the horses gallop out to their feed troughs.

This morning I haltered Gabbrielle first and walked her underneath the awning, through the fence and down the RV lane to the back pen. She was fine until she saw a pile of rocks that wasn't there before. She spooked sideways, which caused Lostine and Bombay to startle in their stalls and start kicking. I had to keep Gabbrielle at a walk, because there's another ice rink right in front of the gate to her pen. That meant keeping a grip on the lead rope right underneath her chin and leaning backwards while I walked. It's a good thing I've been lifting weights.

Once she was safely in her pen, it was time to get Bombay, who was still spooked by Gabbrielle's spook, and who was bobbing his head nervously up and down from his stall window, huffing ice clouds through his nostrils. He continued spooking in his stall the entire time I put the halter on him. Lostine wasn't helping by kicking the wall every few seconds. I told Bombay to ignore her, because she's just angry that I didn't feed her first. Some days I feel like I own gorillas instead of horses with the way they throw their muscle around.

Bombay walked sideways instead of next to me, so Lostine promptly poked her head out the stall window and nipped him on the rump. That sent him flying into a pile of ice. I got control of him again and he pranced next to me all the way around the ice rink until we reached the round pen.

Then there was Lostine. She wanted to take off as if not even on a lead rope as soon as we stepped out of the stall. I pulled back and she spun toward me, getting herself stuck in the same pile of ice that Bombay jumped into. I couldn't get her to walk next to me, so I had to back her around the ice rink. Each time she backed, she reared up a little in rebellion as if to say, "Let me go! I know how to get to my feed by myself."

The problem is that on previous mornings she galloped through snow on her way to the feed trough. It's not snow anymore and she wouldn't find out until it was too late. She finally turned in the right direction and walked beside me in resignation. However, even though I led her to her food trough, she took off galloping as soon as I released her and had to run around to all the other feed troughs just to make sure they didn't have food in them too. Fortunately, she followed the path I led her on and avoided the ice.

It looks like slush and chunks of snow, but trust me, if you stepped on that you'd be flat on your back in one-second.

I could see steam coming off the haystack.

I hope the ground can drink up a little more of this meltage today. I want to ride.


lytha said...

oh NM, *i* was flat on my back in one second today, just going to the manure box. my old doc martens have no tread at all, they've been worn smooth over the years, so i hit a slippery spot and wham fell flat. it hurt so bad i couldn't get up for a while. you'd think with a butt like this, it would protect me in falls, but no.


Leah Fry said...

Silly ponies don't know we are only looking out for them. Gorillas, LOL!

I want to ride, too, but I'm whining to myself about the cold. I'm too embarrassed to tell you how much warmer it is here than there. I've just turned into such a weather wuss living in Texas this long.

Breathe said...

That sounds pretty dicey. Sounds like you need snow tires on those horses.

The few times we have ice down here, everything STOPS. There's no choice. You can't get anything done - no plows, no deicing. They toss gravel all over and figure it's worth the windshield sacrificing.

We stay home and have hot cocoa.

Once again you are showing me why it's not so bad to board my horses - at least in the winter...

(But I'd rather have them close)

Hope you get some riding in today.

Katharine Swan said...

You've been lifting weights? You go girl! :-D

It sounds like a lot of people are experiencing similar weather as what we had in Denver a week or two ago -- really cold, snow, ice, yuck yuck yuck. It's been in the 40s and 50s the last couple of days and it's so NICE after that cold spell! I never thought I'd be glad to see mud!!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Oftentimes, when it's that icy, I just throw down a layer of manure for traction. It really works well and there is an abundance of the stuff.
The last snow storm we had, when I went to feed my horses in the morning they all had ice balls in their hooves, Yalla included. I was so worried that they would fall and not be able to get back up. It was hard for them to walk on the round icy globes they had for feet. I wasn't strong enough to pick it out, so I had no choice but to let nature melt it down for them, which fortunately it did. I have only half strength in my right hand nowadays. Since my finger injury, I can't make a proper grip on things.

KD said...

Boy, I'm glad that I don't have to deal with ice and snow!

Your horses look great! Do you feed any grain?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lytha - Oh no! I'm sorry. I hope the pain recedes soon.

Fantastyk - That stinks. It's tough to do a lot of things without a whole hand available.

KD - I only give them grain once every couple of weeks, and that's only to get them to eat their bran and psyllium. I just give them huge flakes of grass / alfalfa mix three times a day.

Anonymous said...

We here in Mn have ice mostly in spring when we get into the thaw-amd-refreeze cycle. Most of our horses are careful of ice. One exception is a mare my son calls a wild-@$$ who knew better but cut across a large icy spot that everyone else was going around. She was going balls to the wall, wiped out, fell on her side, and spun while continuing to slide towards the fence until her hit the fence post. She bruised tendons above her knee and was lame for a year and a half! This was only 5 months after her colic surgery, too. ARGGHHHH!

We don't get snowballs unless a horse is overdue for a hoof trim. When the hoof is able to function correctly (expand and contract in this case) the snow is popped out continually, so no balls form.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Anonymous- yes, I've never had iceballs in my horses 'bare' feet before. I have seen it on shod hooves. They were only three weeks since trimming so it wasn't that either. It was just the right conditions when I went out that morning, I think. I was surprised that even my filly had it. I hope it doesn't happen again.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Great pics! I've never seen stream coming off hay before. Is that normal? I wouldn't think there was anything in hay, unless it had moisture in it, to hold warmth. You must be muh colder than we are here.
In fact we went outside today with just a long sleever shirt and were comfortable. It's been the upper 40s and lower 50s. Very nice!
But I hear we have another storm coming. I hope we have a White Christmas!

Oh and yeh, my mare had iceballs on her feet, too. And I know it was not because she had not been trimmed, because the farrier had just trimmed her the week before.
We just had some crazy snow, first really dry, followed by very icy and wet. This is not typical snow for us up here.
The iceballs, Baby Doll had were weird, too. They were more like a shell. Think of the way you dip a frozen banana into warm chocolate, and the chocolate freezes and forms a shell.

It didn't last very long, maybe a day, and then the ice was already melting, though. My mare always steps carefully in snow and ice, thankfully.


Katharine Swan said...

Panama was also getting ice balls during the super cold weather we go, and his feet were just done perhaps a month ago at the most. The other horses at the barn were getting them too. I think it was because it was SO cold.