This week we are predicted to see the coldest weather we have had yet this winter. Lows into the single digets are predicted later in the week. This kind of weather presents special challenges for Charlottesville horse farm owners.
Last night I helped my daughter Baily who runs Shadowfax LLC at the Glenmore Equestrian Center do some final preparations to get ready for the cold weather. We made sure that there were lights on the spigot in the wash stall and also turned on the lamp aimed at the pipes to the hot water heater in the feed room. Next an extra space heater was installed in the bath room and laundry room. Finally the water was turned off at the source to the upper barn.
If you are lucky you will have heaters on the outside water troughs or better yet have frost free automatic waterers. Otherwise it is necessary to make sure to disconnect and drain the hoses, and you will be faced with breaking ice every morning and shoveling out the ice chunks so that the horses will have water to drink in the paddocks. In the winter time it is most important to make sure that the horses get plenty of water or you run the risk of an impaction colic.
Horse owners spend a lot of time in the cold weather changing blankets, adding or subtracting layers depending on the temperature and how much coat the particular horse has.
Then there is the problem of riding and frozen footing. Sometimes there is a small window of oportunity in the middle of the day when it has just warmed up enough and the sun has been on the ring for the footing to thaw for a couple of hours so that you can get in a quick ride before it refreezes. At Glenmore we are lucky to have a barn that we are able to ride in when the weather is bad or the ring is frozen.
Sunday is the special day in the winter for the horses at Shadowfax. On Sunday night all of the horses are treated to a hot bran mash, with cut up apples and carrots.
In Charlottesville and Central Virginia we are lucky that the bitter cold weather is generally short lived. Usually after a few days or a week at the most temperatures moderate and we get a break before another cold blast, by March the worst is over. In this area there really are not very many days when you are not able to ride outside.
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