Take a look at the picture below. We have one of those cool 110 gallon Rubbermaid water buckets and ours has an automatic filler with a float valve (like a toilet). The hose we’re using to keep this bucket full is looking compromised so I haven’t been leaving the water on all day in the heat. The picture below was taken after a hot day with the waterer turned off. You can see the water line near the top of the bucket. Those two horses of ours sure drink a lot of water! Just a reminder to make sure those buckets are full each day.
BTW, we love this bucket and the waterer. I’ll write about it someday and include some other pictures and tips on how to keep the water clean.
It’s been a hot few weeks in east Tennessee, with highs around 107 in the sun. Our two horses are consuming water at the rate of about 50 gallons a day. It’s way more than they normally drink. As I mentioned before, we’ve taken to showering the horses once or more a day to cool them off. Today I filled their drinking water barrel up to the top around noon but by three o-clock I noticed they hadn’t been by to drink any. In fact, I don’t remember seeing them all day (our pasture is hilly and the rear part of the property isn’t visible from the barn). Worried, I grabbed Mikki and we headed out to find our horses. We found them up at the old barn taking shelter in its shade. To our relief, they seemed fine and happily followed us down to the barn where we fed them cold watermelon and showered them with cool water.
Now I know there are wild horses roaming the hot desert in Arizona and figure they find a way to deal with the heat there. But today I worried about heat exhaustion. We’re not working or riding our horses in this heat but I wondered how working horses dealt with the heat. Despite global warming claims, 100 degree days are not new to this area so what did farm horses do?
There is a website I visit often that shows pictures of the old days. The website is called Shorpy, named after a child laborer in one of the pictures displayed on the site. Horses are often featured and today I came across the picture below. Apparently in days past, animal rights groups spent a lot of time pushing for ethical treatment of working horses. It’s not something we think much about today since there aren’t nearly as many but it was clearly important back then. Click the photo for more info from Shorpy but be forewarned, the link takes you directly to a page showing the photo of a horse that died on the street from heat exhaustion. The photo below was taken in 1911 in New York and is entitled “free shower baths for horses” from the G.G. Bain Collection of photos. You’ll find it referenced in the comments of the photo at the link.
The photo of the horse that died from heat exhaustion is sad but was probably part of every day life in the city during hot summer days.
According to our thermometer, we hit 104 degrees yesterday, in the shade. Everything is dying or dead. The trees are giving up and dropping their leaves, our lawn makes a crunching sound as we walk over it and our horses are draining the water bucket at a record pace. It’s hot and everything outside is miserable. I feel bad for our horses because they’re black and they stand out in the sun for a good portion of the day. I mentioned a few days ago that Moonshine has a patch of sunburn on her nose (thanks to the those who suggested in that thread that we apply waterproof baby sunscreen, SPF50). Despite the plentiful shade in our pasture, they still hang out in the sun. So I grabbed the hose and decided to spray them down for some temporary relief. One thing I’ve learned about horses in general is that they don’t like “spraying” sounds, sudden movements, cold water on their what-nots and in general, things they haven’t pre-approved. I started with Mikki’s ex-show horse, Valentine, since he’s had more experience with things like cold showers. I let them smell the hose first, carefully turned it on so it sprayed a little and let them explore it with their mouths and nostrils. It’s the horse-way. Valentine loved it and began taking a drink from the hose (see picture). In fact he took a 10 minute drink from the hose, during which time I got a good soaking myself. I then gently sprayed his back, neck and undercarriage. He loved it! Moonshine stood nearby, wary. She was curious about the squirty thing, curious enough I was able to bring the hose to her mouth. She took a drink and I rubbed her neck and told her how pretty she was, in an effort to relax her. I tried to spray her down but even on a gentle spray setting, she didn’t really like it.
So for the past few days this has been our routine. Around noon when we see the horses coming to the barn for a drink, we head out to fill up their water bucket and spray them down to cool them off. And since it’s watermelon harvest time, we bring them some chunks of watermelon as a treat.
Have you been doing anything special to get through the heat wave?