Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Can the weather get worse?

I guess the theme for this holiday season at the barn has been the weather: how many different difficult scenarios can nature throw at us during one two-week period? :-) I am so sorry for our barn owner, who has had to deal with the logistics of four horses throughout this ugly season we are having. And while the gale force winds have not returned, we have continued to have milder wind storms over the last week. But even though we humans are pleased that the winds are not strong enough to continue blowing trees onto our roads and buildings, I'm not sure the horses are comforted by this when they continue to be pounded with winds day after day. This week, the temperature turned cold again (temporarily at least), and the ground froze in the paddock again. Then on top of this, we got over ten centimeters of snow dumped on us in just a couple of hours on Monday.

Poor Little Love is starting to show the effects of all this stress and standing around on hard, uneven ground (and the other horses as well). In fact, on Monday, while the other horses went into the paddock for the day, Little Love stayed alone in the small walkway next to the paddock, because she couldn't walk into the paddock. The hard ground just causes her too much pain in her feet. But she is able to be near the other horses there, and I can see that the other three do spend a lot of time near her, so she doesn't mind this.

Since I wrote last, we have been on a long walk in the sun - yes, New Year's Day was beautiful for about half the day, which meant everyone and literally their dog were on our road walking and driving. Our walk culminated in an encounter with a two-seater baby stroller flanked by a lady walking with Nordic walking sticks (click click click goes the sound on the road) and a little girl who was either just jumping around her dad or actually playing with a jump rope. Either way, Little Love decided at this point that we needed to head home, and I agreed. :-) Our next outing was actually a ride/walk in the forest with Viki and her owner while the ten-centimeters of snow were coming down on us. We left a dark and grey barn to return to a winter wonderland. Little Love was great on the trails and seemed happy to be out and moving around with her friend.

Which brings me to yesterday, when we did a trek back and forth on our barn road (the stress has made her reluctant to leave the barn and her friends again) before the trimmer came to do Little Love's hooves. The condition of her hooves continues to improve, although not as rapidly as the trimmer would like. :-) But we noticed yesterday that Little Love is starting to be stiff in her back end. The trimmer noticed it already when she was working on Lilo's hooves, and I could see it as well in the way she was standing: she is holding her back end up tightly and rigidly, and it originates all the way from the rear part of her flank area. And after the trim, I did her stretches before putting her into the paddock and found that she was especially tight in the right hind. I talked to the barn owner about it, and she said that all the horses are super stiff. We are thinking it is probably from standing around and moving so carefully and tensely on the frozen ground in the paddock. And I'm sure it doesn't help that we have had such high winds so many nights, and the horses are probably not sleeping well. Hopefully the weather will get better soon, so we either have enough snow to cover up and cushion the frozen ground or then the ground itself can thaw and soften. Unfortunately, it doesn't look promising at the moment. (Today it is raining, but I also just heard that the road to the barn is so slippery and messed up that we have to leave our cars about half a kilometer away!) In the meantime, I will get Little Love out of the paddock as often as I can, because at least during that time I know she is moving naturally and can relax on some level, even if she is just standing next to me.

I'm happy that K will be home in a couple of days! :-)

-- Melissa

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