Yesterday morning I came out to find our first frost.
Thoughts of the approaching winter came and with it memories of last year’s winter: a month of torrential rain followed by an unusually hard freeze and snow that lasted for weeks. There was very little riding, and some quite hard work catering for ponies in the winter. During the rain, the front of the track poached very badly so that pushing a wheelbarrow through it became impossible. During the frost the water froze in the pipe to the yard, so filling watering cans in the house became a morning routine.
Clipping and rugging was also a consideration: I missed clipping Ben before the rain came so for four weeks he was too wet to clip. When I did clip I gave a chaser clip and he wore a rug for the rest of the winter. I was also advised to give Rosie one too, given her age. She had suffered from rain scald in November and wore a rug after that for the rest of the winter.
This year will be my second winter keeping ponies at home. It is reassuring to know that we all survived a winter that threw every kind of weather at us. In fact, they thrived. They emerged looking healthy, (very) well-fed and, in Ben’s case, very fresh. I have hopefully solved the problem of the front of the track poaching. Time will tell as we have had a dry autumn so far. Now that they are barefoot, I am changing my mind about rugging. Ben’s work, weather permitting, will consist of hacking. He probably needs at most a bib clip. So no rug for him. I have a new hay shed so I can clear the second stable for Rosie to use, if she chooses, over the winter. So she should not need a rug. The only exception will be if we get very heavy rain like last year. For those times I will give them a light rug each, for protection from rain scald.
Later yesterday I took Ben and Rosie to Sandra’s where we bravely faced a trimming session, with photos to be taken for Dermot to inspect. It is such hard work! We need to get a hoof jack before the next session. If someone took a photo of us trimming, on some occasions with one holding a hoof and the other rasping, it could have been entitled “girls trimming hooves”.
Ben was quite tense for the duration, but demostrated release from tension regularly with sighs and licking and chewing. Rosie did not like it and struggled with her hind leg dropping it on my foot and not moving it. She may be small but that was an “ouch” moment. Released into a field with the others, she rolled and then galloped and bucked. Lovely to see and reassuring us that she was still well able to move following our ministrations.