Firstly, make I make sincere apologies for neglecting my blog over the last week. We went on holiday and my good intentions of writing a few blogs during the plane journey went by the by. Apparently sitting in a cramped plane is not conducive to writing anything worth reading. And then when we reached the hotel, pool and beach I didn`t feel any inclination, so I`m sorry.
You will be glad to know that my brain, which never switches off, has accumulated a few interesting posts which will appear over the next week or so. Today`s however, reflects on the stress I`m sure many of you feel when leaving your beloved equines in the caring hands of someone else.
When I go away I like my horse to have a week off. I think if we feel we deserve a break then they definitely do. In the summer this isn`t such a problem, as you can put the fly rug on, provide small daily feeds and leave a fly spray and you know that they will not suffer. However, in the winter I always worry about the “what-ifs”.
What if he`s too cold? The answer is quite straightforward – leave alternative rugs for any weather change. However, each horse is different and people like them to be of different temperatures. Otis runs a little on the hot side, so whilst many horses are in medium weights he is in a lightweight. Some people like a horse to feel toasty under the rug; I like them to be warm but not toasty. Horses can warm themselves up much more easily than they can cool themselves down. It`s useful to have a friend who knows your horse and how you usually rug them.
What if the rug rubs him? I take their rugs off everyday, which means that the under rug won`t rub and it prevents slippage. This is usually the problem when you have multiple rugs on. Which is why, just before I went, I reclipped Otis so that he could wear his thicker rug, which doesn`t rub and is easy to readjust by his baby sitter. Unfortunately for me, the British weather decided to give us the hottest Halloween on record, which meant that I was chopping and changing my mind faster than a yo-yo. As we flew out of Gatwick in the pouring rain though, I knew I`d made the right decision with putting the heavier rug on.
Will he lose weight? In the summer this isn`t really a problem as the grass is plentiful, but in the winter it`s really important that the horses get enough fibre to help keep them warm and to keep the weight on them. Until I went away the horses had been grazing the rested paddock but I wanted them to start having ad lib hay in the field. This meant that I could continue their once daily bucket feeds without worrying about weight loss. If my horse was the bottom of the pecking order then I would be more concerned about them having sufficient hay. Now I`m home I can start to feed twice a day as necessary. There is always the concern that the bigger bucket feeds could cause choke or colic, which is why I ensure that plenty of water is available for the feeds and they aren`t made too big while I`m away.
I find it easier to leave the horses out while I`m away, so have purposefully maintained their summer/autumn routine until after I get home and then they don`t feel too unsettled. If they`re in I feel it is a big ask for people to muck out and feed twice a day. Plus I then worry about the banks not being high enough or the bed being too narrow …
Anyway, much to my relief, the horses were fine when I got home – albeit in a mud bath, but I suppose we`d better get used to it. Their rugs were still in tact and neither of them have any rubs which is great. Their shoes are still on (always a bonus in the mud and with Otis`s track record!) and both of them were keen to see me. Llani had decided that he didn`t want a star anymore and had tried covering it in with mud – either that or he has been practising handstands! Otis wasn`t too bad considering it has been a week, but I always wonder how he gets mud in his mane, under the neck of his rug, or up on his rump …
After a good half an hour of grooming each they both looked respectable and I could have a quick ride, which will bring me onto a blog post, which will rear it`s head later this week.