Tuesday, February 3, 2009

If you love something, set it free...

If it comes back, it's yours. If it doesn't, it was never yours...

And if it breaks a leg on the ice, you'll know you were an idiot to turn them out.

So Sunday I turned the horses out after 4 days of confinement. Three inches of snow topped with a 1/2 inch of solid ice, and no warming trend in the forecast. The barn manager decided it's now or never. We picked the least treacherous field, and my job was to rotate the horses out in small groups. The surefooted ponies were turned out first to let them break up the ice-encrusted snow. But then what? I was torn between turning Riley and his buddy Donny out next, since they are barefoot, or last, so the other horses could break up the ice and minimize the risks to Riley.

Riley tastes freedom (but prefers a flake of hay)
In the end I didn't want anyone else's horse injured on my watch, so Riley and Donny went out next, with a couple of flakes of hay each. I said a silent prayer as I unclipped the lead ropes -- and the Gods were smiling. The hay was far more appealing than the ice, and they munched contentedly. I watched them for a bit and then turned back to barn chores.

Artist rendering of Stacey's NoooooO!
Boys! No running!
About an hour later, I heard the sound of thundering hooves outside. Dropping the rake, I sprinted out to check on my charges. Donny was still at the hay pile, but Riley was galloping around the ice-hardened field. My stomach began doing of somersaults. NoooooooooO!!!!

Oh, all right, I'm exaggerating. A little. Riley was touring the perimeter of the field at a fairly leisurely canter. I got the impression he was taking in the sights, looking for something fun to do. When he saw me at the gate he did a wide, controlled turn, toward me. I do love him running to me, even if it's out of boredom. He looked relaxed and happy as I took him by the halter.


  1. Ah, the most sickening feeling a horse owner or barn manager can have. Watching the horses zoom around the pasture when the footing is slippery.
    What an adorable foal. Glad no one got hurt:)

  2. You take amazing photos!

  3. Know what you mean. Last night at 1 a.m. I hear thundering hoof beats as 8 horses toured the pasture. I was then wide awake, listening... do I go out there? Will they stop? Is anyone hurt? They took the tour and a half and then quit, so I didn't have to slog my way outside, thankfully. It is a sick feeling though, worrying...

  4. I must admit I was on the edge of my seat reading this.

  5. Geez you scared me with that first sentence.

  6. That is a cute foal photo!

    yes, it's scary when they run in bad footing, isn't it. I'm always terrified that they will break something. The only good thing is that they become very careful after they have a fall.

  7. I hate when the footing isn't very good for the horses. Ice and snow are evil things! I'm glad they were all ok!


  8. Glad everyone is fine. I was worried when I started reading your post.
    Yes, I'm cautious even leading our Huey on ice. He isn't as sure footed as Armani. He knows it too. If I lead him over a slippery spot, he pauses and gives me "the look".

  9. Ah HAHAHAHHAHA, I love that, "if it breaks a leg on the ice, you'll know you were an idiot to turn them out". I've had that feeling so many times! glad no one was hurt and everyone had a good time.

  10. It's difficult to decide whether to turn them out when there is so much ice you can barely walk yourself. Here in Michigan we try to get them out every day, but sometimes I have to consider the danger of broken legs - both human and horse. The ones with shoes are a real nightmare!


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