I get questions all the time about how I care for my ponies when we are dealing with some intense winter weather. I thought a blog post was due!
This winter has been super easy so far. I was even able to keep up with scooping manure up until this last week! Some winters I have to stop in December. I’m especially grateful for this right now as it means far less clean up when we start to thaw…
This last week we’ve been dealing with the “Polar Vortex” (I think it’s so funny that they named it!) which basically means we’ve been well below zero during the day and at night for the last week. It’s not supposed to break until early next week. I’m really looking forward to the warmer temps, these cold temps have really cut into Zorro’s February miles!! So far we have been able to do 3 miles this month. We’ll have to make that up as soon as the weather breaks!
- I make sure they have plenty of windbreaks. All of my shelters are currently full of hay so they don’t have a place to go IN, but they can back up to many of the different windbreaks that I have scattered around the track. Most of the breaks are for the north wind, which is the nastiest of our wind here, but they can also hunker down if we are getting south wind.
- I make sure they have access to hay 24/7 with piles left over between feedings. This will help them warm up from the inside which is the best way for them to weather the storms.
They are still getting their supplements via breakfast, but I never up their intake of grain/supplements when it’s cold. Doing so does very little to help them stay warm. And the grain products can soak up any water they are drinking which can cause impaction colic. I add water to their hard feed but giving them more of that will do little to help so I just keep those amounts the same.
- All three ponies have very thick, dense hair coats. They have some extra padding in the way of fat as well so they have made it through this weather just fine. No shivering at all. I do have a blanket for each one but find they rarely need them. If I haul them in the trailer in the winter I do blanket because my trailer is not enclosed. If I work them hard away from home and have to haul them I double blanket for the trip back. If I work them hard here at home and they get sweaty I do not blanket them, but allow them to roll in the snow and dry on their own – Unless we are having a lot of wind and they get chilled. Then I will blanket over night until it warms back up.
- I do not like to brush them when it’s this cold. They will naturally fluff up their hair to create an air pocket of warmth between their skin and the air, brushing will flatten the hair and can make them feel chilled.
- I make sure they have access to water. For this cold snap I found I couldn’t fill the trough all the way up and had to use two trough heaters. The wind just made it very hard for one heater to keep up. If my trough freezes over? Then I have to haul buckets of warm water many times a day to make sure they are getting enough water. So I do all I can to ensure my trough doesn’t freeze over!
They are making tracks within the tracks, but the snow is deep enough in some spots to nearly cover the hot wire that runs around the middle of the track! So I have to keep an eye on that. If we get much more snow fall then I’ll have to shovel some away from the fence lines. A snow blower would be awesome right about now!
We are warming up slowly but enough that when the wind blows it is starting to harden the snow drifts. This makes the going much harder out there. Walking through knee deep drifts that are hard is quite a work out. At least Zorro will be in good shape when we hit the road again next week!
Here is a link to a post I wrote about driving in the winter. I do things a bit differently when I’m driving in the winter as compared to summer. Zorro has a different collar and hames but I’ll share more on that later this week!