Sunday, December 21, 2008

Duke's Snow Day

We got more snow on Friday and it's snowing now. Our tree farm is doing okay, sales are down from the past, but we know it's because of the economy.

Sam was sick this week, on Wednesday and Thursday. He's doing better today but there for awhile he was just miserable. It's one of the hazards of having a tree farm; we stand outside for hours in the bitter cold, or somedays we spend our time going in and out of the house, going in and out of the cold air really hammers on a person's body.

I love the snow, not so crazy about the cold or driving in the snow; too many crazy drivers out there. Getting out to see Duke every day is a challenge; the road closest to my house is a steep, winding hill outside of the city limits and low on the counties priority list (it now looks like the street I live on, pic below), so to be on the safe side I go the long way. It's an extra 6 miles out of my way, but the roads are maintained and pretty bare. Yesterday when I went to feed Duke and clean his stall my fingertips and toes were so cold I couldn't feel them, and I was layered in clothing. Had my CuddlDuds on (thermal under garments), jeans, turtleneck, sweatshirt, winter coveralls, a Pacific Trail coat, two layers of gloves (knit and ski but not too tight), and my heavy Columbia boots. In this cold we increase the amount of hay we feed to help the horses generate enough body heat to keep warm. I'm keeping track of his weight to ensure he doesn't gain too much and prevent another laminitis event.

Friday when I took him out for a little walk in the snow Duke's energy came up and I could tell he wanted to play. I thought about turning him loose in the outdoor arena, but hestitated because of the ice and concern about him getting all worked up and breathing in too much cold air. Yesterday, I decided to stop worrying so much and I turned him loose. I thought maybe he'd roll around, trot some, canter a bit, but I never thought he'd do what he did!!! And here I was worried that all that extra hay I'm feeding him would make him heavier.

Apparently he's feeling pretty light on his feet. :) I just hope he never does that when I'm in the saddle! :O

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pre-winter whinney

Brrr, it's getting a bit chilly out there. Tuesday it was 2 degrees, right now it's snowing. Duke has quite the winter coat...he looks like a big plushy toy.

But he still enjoys his daily roll, mud and all.

Pre-snow rolling, of course.

Last week during his daily turn out he engaged in a little friendly game of sparing with another gelding.

Mr. Tough Guy. Ears pinned, nostrils flared, seriously mean look. "Back off!" He looks very serious, but this is all what makes horses who and what they are. Everything they do is driven by order, establishing a hierarchy...a pecking order. In a herd of two or more, there can only be one leader.

When I'm around, when it's just me and Duke, I'm the leader. It's taken me months to earn Duke's trust. Every day he tests me because horses vote for their leader every day. Every day he checks to see if I'm paying attention, if I'll let him get away with this little thing or that. He's teaching me a lot.

And when I watch him interact with another horse, I've observed something interesting. The dominance games he used to play on me are now directed at other horses.

Pssst! Hey bud...wanna buy a nice watch?
Another gelding checks out the scene.