Now that the ground is covered in snow, it seems appropriate to talk about ways to keep the equine members of the family comfortable through the long winter months (and short winter days). In no particular order, here are some suggestions for when the weather outside is frightful:
* Petroleum jelly is a great ice deflector. Gooping Vaseline (or equivalent off-label product) on the soles of your horse's clean hooves will help keep ice from packing into them. Petroleum jelly on the horse's fetlocks will help keep ice balls from forming.
* Desitin diaper ointment is a wonderful way to keep white blazes, strips, and snips from getting red, raw, windburned, and sunburned.
* Make certain that horses have water available 24 hours a day. Do not reason that a horse can just eat snow if he's thirsty. It takes at least 5 gallons of snow to make 1 gallon of water. Furthermore, a horse has to expend a huge amount of energy in order to heat up the snow and turn it to water. If horses are left unwatered in snow-filled pastures, they usually end up not getting all the fluids that they need. Dehydration and colic can often result.
* If you find that your horses aren't drinking enough, their water may be too cold. Use a water heater suitable for your tank (Some are appropriate for plastic tanks. Some aren't. Some float on the water. Others sit on the bottom of the trough.) Whatever water heater you use, make sure that you never leave it plugged in while out of the water.
* In the weird science department -- warm water freezes faster than cold water. Pouring hot water into your horse's water bucket in the barn will not make water available to him longer.
Christmas cards went out today. Because so much happened in 2005, for the first time in my life, I wrote an end-of-the-year Christmas letter and put it in with my cards. I also posted it online. Feel free to check it out. Have a wonderful holiday! Stay warm!