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Why Our Horses Are Naked

Why Our Horses Are Naked

Horses in trees

We’ve mentioned in several earlier posts that we don’t keep halters on our horses while they’re out in the pasture and promised to explain why. Well, now we finally will.

We often see horses in pastures wearing a halter, and many of our friends keep their horses haltered all the time. In the movies, certainly, the horses are always wearing something or another. We loved the fancy halters in “Racing Stripes,” for instance – they were dark leather with a brass nameplate on the side. And it makes sense, don’t you think, to have a halter on your horse? That way, if you need to catch a horse in a hurry, all you do is grab it and snap on a lead rope. So why don’t we leave halters on our horses?

Well, we leave them bare for safety reasons. There’s our paranoia about theft, of course – why make it easier for a horse thief to nab your horse? But that’s a very minor consideration, really. The biggest thing is that the halter is so easy to catch on things. Our pasture is very woodsy, and the horses love to wander through the trails between the trees. It would only be a matter of time before one of them snagged a branch with the halter, panicked and injured him- or herself.

Another scenario we’ve read about is horses getting a hoof caught in the halter when scratching themselves. I’ve seen my horse rubbing his chin with a rear hoof, believe it or not, and halters are pretty loose in that area. It seems like a remote possibility that he could get his hoof caught, but a possibility nonetheless.

Horses in halters

And, last but not least, there’s the fact that our horses cannot leave anything on themselves or each other alone. When we got their fancy new personalized halters and went out into the pasture to try them on the horses, Moonshine did her best to pull Valentine’s off. (Yet another reason why blankets wouldn’t work out for our horses.)

So they’ll just go around in the buff. Better safe than sorry – which pretty much sums up our horsekeeping doctrine.

Tree: 3; Chainsaws: 0

Tree: 3; Chainsaws: 0

Chainsaws stuck in tree…also, Tree: about 50; supercharged F-150 SuperCrew: 1. We went a few more rounds with the tree in our pasture that blew down a few weeks ago. If you look closely at the very blurry picture to the right, you will see two chainsaws – one pointing up, one pointing down. The reason why it’s so blurry is that it was taken at about 7:00 at night with my cellphone. It was the only camera on hand, and I only had it in case I needed to call 911. (Thankfully, that was not necessary.)

Split tree
(Tree in daylight, sans chainsaws)

It was yet another of those things that seem so simple and turn out to be anything but. About 1/3 of this tree had split off the trunk in a bad windstorm, and it was a pretty big tree. It was kind of an eyesore, probably not too safe for the horses who liked to wander underneath it and most importantly, was an irresistible magnet to the neighbor kids who were denied permission to play on it but were doing so anyway. So we headed up to this tree at about 4:00 Saturday afternoon (that would be December 30) thinking that we’d just get the broken limb detached from the trunk. About 15 minutes later, the chainsaw got pinched in the cut. No problem, we think, we’ll just wiggle it out. Half an hour later, we decide to try a crowbar. Half an hour after that, we decide to try an ax. Half an hour after that, we decide we’ll just hook up a tow rope and pull the limb loose with our truck (there was only a small un-sawed part left). Twenty minutes of skidding and fishtailing later, we decide we might need help. So we call up our way too put-upon friends, the Watsons, and ask to borrow a chainsaw. Mr. Watson generously offered to not only bring his chainsaw but to help.

Five minutes after his arrival, his chainsaw is also stuck in the stupid tree. Again, out comes the crowbar; again, no luck. This time, we skipped the ax and went straight to the truck. The Watson chainsaw came out fairly soon after we began pulling, but our saw still wasn’t going anywhere. Another ten minutes of revving that V-8 and sliding all over the place and the father of the neighbor children joined us. (The tree is about 20 yards from their back door; he was wondering what all the ruckus was.) We eventually moved the tow rope to the other side of the branch and pulled the limb downhill, and it finally gave up the ghost – and the chainsaw. What was left of it. Needless to say, we were done chainsawing for the day and the tree will rest unmolested until we get a new chain and bar.

Invisible horse in dark pasture
Can you find the horse in this picture?

By the way, if you were wondering – our two very helpful horses spent all this time getting too close to the unstable tree limb, too close to the chainsaw and too close to the truck, in addition to not moving from behind the truck when we needed to back up, trying to go through the gate with the truck each time we opened it, and scaring Mr. Watson by appearing suddenly in front of him in the dark (they’re pretty much invisible at night, being black – see picture to left).

Sometimes I think our life is just a bad sitcom.

Pasture Hole Repair

Pasture Hole Repair

The weather was beautiful the other day – 70 degrees in the middle of December. I completed horse stall cleaning while it was still light and decided to take a little walk out in the pasture. I don’t do this as often as I should. I have to force myself to even go outside during cold weather. I’m a warm-weather person, really. But today I’m reminded that horse people need to keep an eye on so many things. I discovered this 8 inch wide, 10 inch deep hole next to one of the trails. It almost looked like someone had dug this hole with a post-hole digger. I was aghast. I can just see my horse stepping in this thing and coming up lame. Since the dirt here is as hard as cement right now, I filled the hole with horse manure, packing it nice and tight. I’ll keep an eye on it. The hole didn’t look like a sinkhole and it’s in a place where I can see it from the house. I don’t think anyone dug the hole but it’s a great reminder that we all need to check the pasture occasionally, for obstacles like this. Here’s the hole, with Mikki standing next to it for scale:

Hoof swallowing hole
Horses, Fire and a Wood Barn

Horses, Fire and a Wood Barn


As you all may know, we moved to the southeast from Arizona. In Arizona, fire is very, very scary. Setting a fire in your backyard and leaving it to burn is a major no-no. Here, it’s no big deal. We have an empty field across the street from our property, and the owner has spent many months clearing it. He chops down a bunch of trees, mows down weeds and sets whatever’s left on fire. Then he just leaves. No big deal. He did this shortly after we moved here, and believe me, Bill and I were fit to be tied. We let it go until it was a few yards from our other neighbor’s house, then put it out ourselves. I’m sure the natives are still giggling over that one.

Anyway, someone not too far from here is burning a big pile of something tonight. Either that or a house is on fire and no one has noticed yet. Our house smells like a casino (cigarette smoke, for those of you have never been to a casino), and there’s a haze of smoke all around. You can see a glow over one of the hills just east of here. The horses are pretty freaked out, and we’re concerned ourselves. Especially since we just locked our horses in a barn made entirely of wood.

Unfortunately, we can’t stay up all night to watch in case the fire makes it all the way over here. Normally, we might try it, but we have to take The Kid to school early in the morning, Bill is pretty sick with a cold and I’m still recovering from some other bug I caught last week. But as a precaution, rather than leave the horses’ halters and lead ropes in the tack room like we usually do, we brought them down here to the house with us. That way, just in case something were to happen, we have halters ready. We really should do that all the time, and if we had more storage here, we would. But there’s simply no space. We have a mudroom planned, though, and that would be a great place to keep a couple of emergency halters. As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of people keep a halter hanging outside the stall door for emergencies, but we’re too paranoid for that. It feels too much like leaving the keys in the car.

So that’s our emergency plan, such that it is. It’s kind of a short-term plan, but we really need to have an emergency plan in place, and so should you. In our case, we need to worry about fire, tornado or nuclear fallout. Think about what might happen (even a remote possibility) and plan accordingly.

As usual, more on that later. For now, we have the teeny-tiny chance that the fire that may or may not still be burning a half-mile away could possibly spread to our barn covered. Whew.

Maybe He Won One of Those Fancy Rose Garlands Once?

Maybe He Won One of Those Fancy Rose Garlands Once?

RoseWe walked away from the barn the other day and looked back to see my horse with his head all the way over a low part of the pasture fence…eating a rose bush. There are no blooms on this particular bush, so he was just eating the leaves and thorny stems. Why? I don’t know. I did a quick search on the Internet to make sure rosebushes are not poisonous to horses, and it appears that they are not. I’m sure they’re not all that good for them, but apparently won’t hurt them.

Bill’s horse has a thing for wood – she chews on her stall door and the fence – so I told him, my horse thinks he’s a burro and yours thinks she’s a beaver.

That reminds me, we need to discuss bad horse habits. Maybe for the next post!