Horses and the frozen tundra of the South

Horses and the frozen tundra of the South

Today was the coldest day yet in east Tennessee. Actually, there have been colder days since we’ve lived here but not since we’ve had horses. Lows at night are in the lower 20’s and we’ve had some wind. Although my Arizona butt hasn’t quite acclimated to winters that are actually cold, our horses seem to have adapted nicely. Both Moonshine and Valentine have thick fuzzy winter coats and despite our attempts to shelter them from the cold, they seem to prefer it to being stuck in the barn.

Iced bucket

One thing I’m not familiar with is frozen water buckets. Yesterday and today both I’ve gone out to discover all of our animal water buckets had almost an inch of ice on top. I was expecting this but I’m not yet sure what to do about it. Most of the buckets aren’t near any power source so a bucket heater or bucket de-icer doesn’t seem like it would work for us. We could use an extension cord but that increases the possibility of a barn fire. I’m also concerned with our horses nibbling on the wires, though it seems like the heated buckets use steel wire wrapped cords to prevent nibbling. I saw a product called Thermo Bucket that uses a simple insulated float but it looks too thin to drink from. Maybe it’s just a bad picture. So we’re looking for a solution, mostly for in the barn stalls. The ice in the outside bucket I can break up effectively and it sits in the sun most of the day.

Outside ice bucket

Because we baby our horses, the subject of horse blankets has come up, too. Mikki is interested in trying them but I’m skeptical. Besides yet another horse expense, I wonder if the blanket would stay on for very long. I can see Moonshine rolling in the dirt to get it off. Plus I wonder if it’s even needed. Here comes the old “horses in the wild don’t need that” argument. But it’s true. How many horse blankets do you see in those pictures of wild horses running in the Montana snow? None. Of course, horses in the wild probably don’t live as long as our pampered domesticated horses. But even when it was 26 degrees (F) outside, neither horse shivered or showed any signs of wanting to seek shelter. I did see Valentine galloping around more than usual. Maybe it was to warm up, maybe he just felt frisky. But no blankets for now.

In our barn, the outside stall windows are now closed for cold weather, though the ends of the barn remain open as we have no doors. We’re considering adding doors but it won’t be anytime soon.

Let me take a minute to say that I do realize 26 degrees isn’t that cold. Many, if not most of you live somewhere that has harsher winters than we experience in Tennessee. That whole “frozen tundra of the South” thing was a stretch, to be sure. It doesn’t get much colder than this except in the mountains.

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