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The season is officially changing now that we have white stuff on the ground. This move to colder weather means different things to each of us.
One thing it means for me is lugging the horse blankets to the car and then getting them on the horses.
And then taking them off.
And then putting them back on.
It’s the linchpin of my winter exercise program.
Mind you, I’m happy to provide some warmth and protection against the wind for my sweet old girl.
And now we’re blanketing Chickadee.
Might as well as we have Bud’s coat just gathering dust in our garage.
Not sure if Chickadee has ever worn a blanket. In the years I’ve known her, she hasn’t. She seemed quite grateful when we slipped it on her even though it is a little big for her.
We figured Bud would be pleased that his coat is getting good use.
Are you scrambling to find your coats and gloves and boots?
How are you feeling about our first snow?
Thumbs up or thumbs down?
I have a soft spot in my heart for gentle mares. I think I would be one if I were a horse.
Mama is a gentle girl when it comes to pasture politics. She avoids the troublemakers. She knows to make a wide berth around certain horses. The bigger, stronger horses will push her down the line, and she always complies.
There’s no drama with mama.
She usually stands at the periphery of the Herd of Oldsters gathered at the gate for snacks, looking sweet and oh so hopeful. And each time we toss a hay cube to her, she responds with this expression that seems to say, “For me? You gave me a cube? Oh thank you!” Think Sally Field’s acceptance speech some years ago at the Oscars.
Mama is a Paso Fino and pure poetry in motion when she runs.
And she’s a great mother.
She still gives motherly attention to her now almost three year old colt. You can see his nose in the photo above.
If she is first to see that we are out feeding, she will sometimes call to Brio until he shows up. I presume she’s saying something like, “They’re here! Hurry up or you’ll miss out.”
Mama has been wearing a very old and ragged polka dot blanket.
At one time I’m sure it made quite a fashion statement, but lately it’s not been in the best shape. More than once, Rick has ventured into the pasture to try and tie up the parts that were dragging around Mama’s legs.
With this most recent cold snap though we noticed that Mama was sporting a new red and blue coat. One that fits her perfectly and keeps her warm.
We were thrilled. (We’re easily entertained these days!)
And she seems to be walking with a little more spring in her step.
When I get something new to wear that I know looks good on me, it always perks me up.
Does the same happen for you?
I doubt that Mama and I are the only two females that benefit from new clothes. What’s new in your closet? Do tell…
It happens to me quite often.
My mother used to tell me that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I think she worried that if I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I’d spend my life getting hurt.
And I guess she was right to some degree.
I’ve had my share of hurts.
But my emotional vulnerability has also opened me up and allowed me to experience wonderful, amazing, deep and rich feelings. Feelings that I never would want to miss out on.
So how does this relate to a blanket for Red?
Well, a storm was predicted yesterday. They were calling for heavy, wet snow and a lot of it. When I was out feeding our two old sweeties, I saw that many of the horses had blankets wrapped around them.
But the one that punched me in the emotional gut was Red, the rough and ready Mustang. In the years we’ve known him, he’s never worn a blanket. But he’s getting up there in years, and like Bud and Pepper, the winters are starting to be hard on him.
So when I saw him in this obviously old, well-used, torn blanket that is a bit too small, my heart just sprang open. I felt a rush of love for this sweet old boy and his people who clearly wanted to offer him some protection from the storm.
For just a moment, I felt all gushy. I commented to Red about his blanket and he seemed okay with it, even though it was tight and not all that stylish. Perhaps just the thing for a formerly wild horse of the plains.
These horses have become my family, and to some extent, I hope yours as well.
Doesn’t it feel reassuring to know they’re taken care of?
This human-animal bond is something else, isn’t it?
P.S. We got the snow!
One of the charms of living in Colorado is the way the weather can change on a dime.
Just when you think you’re going to have to hunker down for a long, cold winter, the sun comes out, melts all the snow and you end up needing nothing more than a lightweight coat or sweatshirt instead of your down parka.
“Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes,” is a popular saying.
We’ve been enjoying some very nice weather these past few days – close to sixty degrees.
The horses have been basking in the sun, napping and soaking up all that warmth.
We even removed Bud and Pepper’s coats.
Yesterday though in the middle of a perfectly gorgeous afternoon, we began to worry about our two old sweeties. The forecast called for a huge drop in temperature overnight and possible snow.
And high winds.
Not a good combination for our sweet old things.
The last thing we want is for them to spend their precious calories keeping warm. They both have lost weight this winter as it is.
So at the end of the day, in the dark, we convinced ourselves to head out to the pasture and put the coats back on.
Bud and Pepper were a little confused, but bless their hearts, they came running when Rick whistled.
We handed out snacks and buckled the coats back on.
And as the wind rattled our windows in the wee hours of the morning, I rolled over for a few more minutes of sleep, happy that we’d gone to the extra effort.
In the poll, the brown polka dot coat was clearly the winner.
Next was the blue plaid.
She’s pondering your suggestions with great care.
There has been a development however, that you need to know.
While I don’t as a rule use this blog for controversy, I must make an exception in this case and leak a set of memos between Pepper and the Chief Financial Officer for Two Old Horses and Me.
In the interest of full disclosure.
RE: New winter coat
While I am sympathetic to your desire to update your wardrobe, I’m afraid I must inform you that it cannot happen this year. As you know, we are experiencing a downturn in the economy and have carefully allocated every dollar in our budget.
Our policy has always been to replace coats only when absolutely necessary. That is to say, when the old one is threadbare and no longer functional. And as you well know, your lovely blue coat is in perfect condition.
If we were to replace a coat, it would be for Bud. He’s wearing a hand-me-down from you, which isn’t even his correct size. It looks as if he’s wearing high water pants, and what self-respecting gelding wants that?
In sum, I must regretfully deny your request for a new winter coat.
RE: New winter coat
I’ve talked with Bud and he says he doesn’t care about a new coat. We could easily transfer those resources to my coat fund.
RE: New winter coat
Thank you for this information, however my answer is still “no.” If we don’t purchase a new coat for Bud (and that decision has not been finalized), then we will redirect those funds to purchase grain, hay cubes and other necessities for your survival through the winter.
RE: New winter coat
#*$%!! (expletive deleted)
I hate budgets…
Note from Jean:
Thank you dear readers for allowing me to be silly with you.
There are days when it helps to step away from the stress and drama and seriousness that life sometimes brings. And what better place than here with the horses and you!
She’s been online checking out her choices. Never mind the logistics of how she is actually doing this.
You have to go with me .
Get into the fictive dream, as writers say.
She’s found quite a selection of blankets, some in her price range and some that are way out of her budget.
But hey, a girl can dream!
She has her utilitarian navy coat, new last year, I might add. But she’d like options. What female is satisfied with only one blanket?
Here’s the thing: Pepper is pondering the many choices she’s found so far, and would like your input.
Is an older mare (or woman) supposed to dress in a certain way?
Is her time for “statement dressing” over?
Should she stick with the sensible navy?
Or is a polka dot or plaid in her future?
We’ve compiled photos of some of the blankets she’s considering. Please take a moment to vote for your first choice.
This could turn into a great reality show for television. “What Not to Wear in the Pasture.”
If it happens, Pepper would like to be the host. She’s always nurtured a dream of being in show biz.
Sometimes one photograph tells the story. I found the missing strap in the pasture out by the water tank. Score one for the finders!
It’s a great reminder to slow down, take the time you need, and stay focused.
Now all I have left to do is have a little chat with Miss Pepper.
You may recall that at the end of December the weather here in Colorado turned frigid. We were looking at below zero temperatures, and a wind chill that seemed more at home in the Midwest.
We worried about our skinny girl and dashed out to purchase a heavier coat, so that she could stay warm. She does so much better overall when she’s not using most of her calories to produce heat.
It’s a lovely two-toned blue coat that indeed keeps her toasty. I know she likes it because when I first slipped it over her back, she settled into it right away. There was no fidgeting or dancing away from me. She liked her new coat.
But here’s the thing: Miss Pepper has a bit of an issue keeping her coats in good condition.
If you’re a parent, you may be able to relate. How is it that those new shoes, boots, coats, hats, and mittens can so easily fall into the Bermuda Triangle of lost clothing? These days we have to include phones, iPods, and cameras into the mix. From a parent’s point of view, it usually goes like this:
“Hi honey, how was your day.”
“Where’s your new hat?” (Here’s where you fill in the appropriate clothing or electronic item.)
Blank stare. “I dunno.”
“Is it at school?”
“Did you leave it in the car?”
Ever more blankness.
Now the parent starts to see dollar signs flying out the window.
“That’s a brand new hat and it’s already gone?”
Huge parental sigh.
“You need to find that hat. Money doesn’t grow on trees you know.”
Huge kid sigh.
I had a similar interaction with Pepper.
About a week after she got her new coat, we noticed that the rear strap was missing. As in nowhere to be seen.
We looked in the shed. It wasn’t there.
We looked around the gate. No strap.
“Where’s the strap to your coat?”
She blinked her big brown eyes. This is the equivalent of saying, “I dunno.”
“Your new coat is already missing something.”
Blink, chew, blink.
“Pepper, you need to find that strap. Now where have you been? Retrace your steps.”
Blink, chew, blink.
“Okay, this is getting us nowhere. I’ll just walk around the pasture and look for your NEW strap. That is when the snow melts.”
Blink, chew, blink. (Translation: Knock yourself out!)
We haven’t found the strap. You’ve probably figured that out!
Today we’re thinking of doing a little walkabout through the pasture, before the next snow arrives. Chances aren’t great that we’ll find the darned strap, but somehow, I’m driven to try.
Horse blanket straps, iPods, mittens – it doesn’t seem to matter what the item is. We parents (animal or human) have accepted the role of finder of lost things. And more than that, we try so hard to teach our children to be responsible.
I must say, I’ve had much better success with my son than with Miss P. She’s proving to be a challenge!