The plan: Belle the pony stays in the barn during the day due to her allergies, and goes out into the "dry lot" paddock with a shelter and hay for the night. The horses, Paco, Gimi, & Sefi, have free grazing in the back pasture at night and are locked in the paddock area during the day. All the equines get a handful of vitamins and a sprinkling of grain in the mornings. Cats get fed twice a day and can stay either in the house or out as they prefer. It sounds so simple!
The reality: The weather was ghastly, with oppressive heat & humidity for nearly two weeks. The horses were dripping sweat by noon, and even the pony's stall was stifling (though at least shady). Oozing horse fly bites needed doctoring, and stinky feet needed thrush treatment, and overheating horses needed hosing and fans to stay comfortable. My planned twice a day visits quickly morphed into three times a day so I could check on everyone more closely in the dangerous heat, and I kept the horses stalled for all or part of the days as well, which meant 4 stalls to clean instead of 1, 4 water buckets to dump, clean, fill, & haul instead of 1, and very appreciative horses (which makes the effort so absolutely rewarding)! Several mornings Paco, Gimi, & Sefi had to be chased out of their stalls to go back outside for a few hours, when they would have preferred to stay in the barn (though the mornings were the most tolerable part of the day).
Gimi and Sefi, the "little ones," are just three year olds and have minimal experience with hosing. The several days that I attempted to cool the horses down by hosing were interesting, to say the least. Paco seemed to enjoy it the most, and Gimi quickly figured out that he liked the cold water on his chest and shoulders, and *really* liked flipping his nose through the spray and splashing me, but Sefi wanted nothing at all to do with the scary water-spouting snake. Belle didn't really like it, either, and so I left those two to sweat (you'd think they'd figure out how good it felt!) and concentrated my efforts on the more appreciative boys.
After their hosing, I scrounged around to come up with enough fans for everyone and managed to snake extension cords through the barn aisle so each horse had a fan for his/her stall. Sefi was of course afraid of her fan, and I don't think ever really got used to it, as she mostly stayed on the half of the stall away from the fan. Gimi fell in love with his fan, and stood blissfully in front of it with his forelock blowing in the breeze. Paco & Belle seemed somewhat indifferent to their fans, although both of them managed to knock their fans around when I wasn't there and cause a bit of a ruckus. I was a bit apprehensive on leaving them to their own devices after my first attempt at "be-fanning" the barn, as Paco's & Gimi's fans were floor fans balanced on the garbage can (!) and the mounting block, respectively. I was nervous about the multiple extension cords, and the capacity of the electrical circuits, and flammable nature of barn contents, though I raked all the loose material out of the aisle, made sure the stall doors to the hay & bedding were firmly shut, and even unplugged the radio and the fencer for good measure. Upon my return that evening, Gimi, who I most suspected of getting into trouble, was completely innocent of any wrong doing, and Paco, who I thought the least likely to bother anything, had managed to knock his fan over (or, it fell over on its own, also a possibility). But, no damage was done and the horses seemed as comfortably not-hot (I can't say "cool") as I could have hoped. I somewhat refined my fan technique on subsequent afternoons, and did finally get a good working set-up which seemed to balance air flow and safety, as well as put fans in the shed Belle uses at night and the big horses have access to during the day, so that even if I didn't bring them in to their stalls, they had some fan action if they wanted it. And you can probably guess, but I found Gimi standing with his nose just on the inside of the bars directly in front of the fan on more than one occasion!
|Belle & her fan - gotta love baling twine! She did manage to knock this around a bit but no damage done.|
|Gimi, Paco, and Sefi wondering if I am going to feed them.|
|The broken wood fence and my "fix" with T-posts. Thank goodness I was able to find posts, post pounder, caps, insulators, electric rope, screws, and a drill that worked! Nothing like nosing around in other people's stuff :)|