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Horses and Tornadoes

Horses and Tornadoes

Tornado by airwaves1

In the last two years we’ve experienced several violent spring storms come through east Tennessee and are starting to refer to spring as “tornado season.” We’re looking forward to the end of winter but not to the scary part of spring. It’s bad enough to not know when and if a tornado is coming but having horses makes it worse because they could be far out in pasture, they aren’t easy to move quickly and they don’t fit in the basement or the bathtub.

There were 936 tornadoes in the U.S. in 2012, according to NOAA/National Weather Service. And while some areas are at much higher average risk, all states are at risk. This map is a little old (1950-2005) but gives a quick visual idea of where tornadoes can occur.

US Tornadoes 1950-2005 map

So what should we do with our horses during a tornado threat?

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We’re Still Here – And It’s Still Cold.

We’re Still Here – And It’s Still Cold.

Frozen fountain 20 mi from our house, 4 days ago

I know we haven’t been writing, but frankly, there’s not much to write about around here. It’s all about trying to keep the water buckets thawed and the stalls clean enough for horses without spending any more time mucking them out than absolutely necessary. We’re certainly not riding, because it’s too darn cold. Although our horses have pretty good winter coats, they don’t seem to be enjoying this weather much either. Even Sinbad, who purportedly does not like to be in a stall, spends a lot of time in his stall voluntarily (albeit with the door open). We hurriedly do our chores in the afternoon at peak temperature, then later in the evening let the horses in to feed them oats as quickly as possible. Right now it’s 10:00 am and the horses are still in the barn. We need to go up there and let them out, but it takes soooo long because they really don’t want to come out. We have to coax them out, sometimes with a halter. Then they stand around the barn gate looking like they want to go back inside. I really don’t blame them; nice, warm, dry stall or barren, muddy pasture? (There are round bales of hay out there, though, I assure you.) It’s kind of a depressing time of year.

C’mon, spring.

Too Cold to Ride?

Too Cold to Ride?

It’s that time of year again when you have to wear three layers of clothes and a goofy hat to go outside. I don’t like winter! Here we are, all excited about riding, with three horses to ride now – and it’s in the 30’s. In the daytime. And windy, too. We’re so disappointed. It’s not actually snowing (the picture is from last winter), so maybe we should just suck it up, bundle up and ride. But it’s just so cold!

I spent a lot of time outside yesterday, actually, cleaning out the spare stall, seeing as how it’s not actually a spare stall anymore – we now have three of each (horses and stalls). It was supposed to be 15 last night, so we thought Sinbad should have a stall too, whether he wanted one or not (his owner says if he’s locked in a stall, he’ll knock the walls down to get out). So we shifted everybody down and gave Sinbad the stall closest to the pasture and left his door open. As it turned out, we had an overnight low of 12, so I’m glad we did it. Sinbad didn’t seem to mind either, once he confirmed – 7 or 8 times – that the stall door was still open.

Tonight it’s supposed to be 18, so everyone will be inside again, but tomorrow it’s supposed to start warming up again, with highs in the 50’s this weekend. Yay! We’re getting 100 square bales of hay on Saturday, and then we’re going to ride. I can’t wait. I haven’t gotten to use my beautiful new Henry Miller bridle yet. If all goes well, I’ll post pictures soon of Valentine in all his fancy tack.

So how’s the weather where you are? And when do you think it’s too cold to ride?