California is in the middle of a major storm event, but thankfully we are south enough of the worst of the rain and wind that has been doing so much damage to areas in the north. That being said, we are still being hit by a fair amount of rain and wind and a voluntary evacuation order has been issued for the canyons, so we are taking it seriously.
We spent the past several months getting prepared for winter, and the past several weeks getting ready for this particular storm. This included putting in a new driveway so we could continue to receive hay deliveries during heavy rains, and putting in a great deal of material into several stalls in order to raise them above the water table. At our most recent workday we put railroad ties around the round pen to prevent flooding, as well as in LadyBug’s stall to keep the area underneath her shelter safe and dry. We also added extra material into Tillie’s stall and spread mulch around the property to reduce erosion.
One of the biggest issues of the rain, however, is that we are unable to turn the horses out in the arena or round pen, because the horses could slip and fall, tearing a tendon or worse. This means that the horses get a little stir-crazy (spicy) while things are drying out! We do our best to manage the horses and make sure to take every opportunity to turn the horses out when we can! We made sure that everyone had been exercised before the rain, and after the rain we were able to turn them out in the round pen. We even took a few horses out for a walk down the street. This helps keep the horses from getting frustrated when they are unable to exercise everyday as normal.
Some of the horses don’t do well in the rain, so we also have to consider their individual needs. It hasn’t been that cold this year, so we haven’t blanketed any horses yet, but we assess that on a daily basis to ensure the horses are warm and comfortable. All of the horses have shelters, and we made sure that their feeders are all under the shelters so they can stay dry while they eat.
During the wintertime we increase the horses’ grain nominally in order to help keep them warm, and we make sure that their grain is mixed with water to help prevent dehydration. We also accommodate our more sensitive horses like Quixote, who doesn’t like getting his princely feet wet and muddy when getting a drink of water, so we put a water bucket under the shelter for him so he stays hydrated (we originally had his automatic waterer under his shelter, but he kept running into it and breaking it).
We also make sure that the horses continue to be groomed and their feet cleaned to prevent rain rot and thrush. We put shavings down underneath the shelters for them to try to keep their feet dry and so they have a cozy place to lay down.
With all of that, sometimes the horses just like to stand in the rain. They all have winter coats so they have a natural defense against the rain and wind, but we sometimes shake our heads when we do our best to keep them safe and dry!
While we cannot plan for every natural event, we do everything we can to ensure the best care of our horses. Everything we do at Hanaeleh is to ensure that the horses in our care are safe and comfortable.