Tag: weather

Too Windy For Turnout?

Turnout was cancelled. I was keeping my horse on part-livery which included hay, bedding and a groom that would do all the turning out and bringing in. 20 plus years ago part-livery used to include everything apart from someone exercising the horse. You could expect all the mucking out to be completed, the horse groomed, even the tack would be cleaned. If an owner is doing more than actually tacking up and riding, then yards have no right to call it part-livery.

It was a tall young woman who was striding past my stable that yelled out the news the horses would spend the entire day and night stuck in a 12 by 12 feet wooden box. I had only been at this yard for 2 days, and had chosen the place specifically to get extra help with my horse. I was looking forward to having more quality time, rather than spending time doing all the chores.

This was a first for me as I have always done all the work myself. At the time I was juggling studying, work and motherhood. Plus I was in a position to be able to afford such a luxury.

When I had initially been shown around the place and informed of the services, there had been no mention that on any given day turnout could be cancelled. Moreover, I had never even heard of a yard cancelling turnout, literally never in all these years of owning horses.

When I asked why? The tall girl told me it was too windy. Again I found myself utterly bewildered! It was a bit windy that day, but this was no hurricane and it certainly wasn’t a storm. I wouldn’t even have described it as gusty! It was just windy, clawing hair from your eyes windy, could blow a chip wrapper around windy, but certainly not tree’s are falling windy.

Baring in mind I have been a groom myself and we worked in all weather. I wouldn’t have kept my job long if I had told my boss I only handle horses on mild warm days. But in truth, none of the staff even discussed the weather, apart from moaning about being covered in mud on the worst of days. No decent groom would be without water proof clothing anyway. Hacks, lesson and attending liveries horses always went ahead. I never remember my boss cancelling anything. Therefore I hope you can imagine my dismay.

I had another question and asked why did the wind make a difference? She replied with…

Because its dangerous

For those that accept such a lame excuse, it’s probably because you are new to owning horses, or you just haven’t gained much experience yet.

But that excuse is a bucket full of horse manure.

Next time it’s windy go out to the horse paddocks and observe the animals (if you can find a yard that hasn’t cancelled turnout). Are the horses running around like crazy, or are they grazing? Well I already know they will be head down eating grass.

In my experience horses may be a little more on their toes when it’s very windy. I believe it’s because their senses are compromised. They can still hear of course, but because it’s so noisy they are less likely to hear a predator creeping up on them, and unlikely to smell it. So the horse becomes totally reliant on sight alone.

He may become head high because he’s actively looking for danger, his ears cannot tell him he’s safe, and nor can his nose. Think of the position he is now, relying just on sight isn’t enough for a prey animal to survive. Many predators can creep up quite close, unseen and ready to pounce. Horses will become jumpy because if in-fact a predator does make it that close, the horse will immediately take flight. He’s gearing up to run…even when he’s on the end of a lead rope.

But that’s fine, we love horses, and that’s what horses do.

Yet we are not leading the horse through new territory, and certainly not through the African bush. Turnout normally involves the same track and the same route. The same tracks and routes that you probably hack around on. The horse has probably been this way hundreds of times. So even on windy days he may look for danger, but he is aware of his environment and is probably more comfortable than you realise, it’s just instinct making him jumpy and he is being extra alert.

This isn’t the same as dangerous

I have never known horse events to be cancelled, vet/farrier/dentist appointments cancelled, endurance rides, racing, hunting, point to point, cross country, team chasing etc (you get my point) cancelled just because it’s a bit windy.

If a groom tells you that turnout is cancelled because it’s a bit windy, then employ another groom, or move yards. I did the latter and never bothered with part-livery again.

The Fragile Horse

Slate grey mountainous cumulonimbus clouds had been rolling across the valley toward my location for the last half an hour. I hastened my attempt to remove every trace of manure from the paddock as the aerial equivalent of the Atlantic Ocean projected angry towering waves of water vapour high up into the stratosphere. Continue reading “The Fragile Horse”