January and February are shaping up to be “riding the desk chair” months, and I’ve cleaning up, and going through a small mountain of equine supply sales catalogs. Sometimes there are deals to be had; other times, it’s just really badly designed or performing stuff that retailers need to move. (Shopping can be scary.) So it got me thinking — about the things I have that really work well in all weather, and the stuff I would not wish on my worst enemy. Here are my Winter Love/Hate lists!
Things I Love:
1. Horseman’s Pride water buckets.
I have had these buckets for well over 10 years. The handles are tough, the holes where the handles attach to the heavy plastic/vinyl buckets have not worn, and despite chewing, kicking, knocking, dropping, throwing and landing on pavement to break ice, and many more abuses, they have stood up to everything my barn can throw at them. It’s simple – I love them. And they love me. (While this is not the most flattering illustration, it just shows what these buckets can take!)
2. Fleece anything.
Fleece coolers I just bought from a regular online equine retailer are just awesome for the price (three for under $100). They pull water out of the coat, they dry quickly, they are impervious to shavings and poop and not one of the straps has pulled out or ripped off yet (that’s impressive). While they are made somewhere overseas, they are sturdy and thick. Got a fleece turtleneck shirt for Christmas — my first. Best turtleneck ever; I thought it would be too hot but since we’ve had temperatures under 20 F for about a month, that theory has gone by the wayside. Fleece-lined gloves. Yes I finally decided a pair of lined gloves might be better than waiting three hours to feel the fingertips again. Fleece lined doggy coats. The Terrorists also finally broke down, stopped growling long enough to allow me to strap them into warm coats. (They would much rather be nude.) They like the fleece lined ones. (So far.)
3. Big brass bolt snaps.
It has to be brass. Solid if possible, plated is next best – and they have to be big. So that when you are wearing your heavy winter mittens, you can actually get them open with one hand, just your thumb, while holding a dancing horse at the end of a lead rope with the other hand. We love them.
4. My $45 hose.
That’s a heinous amount of money to spend on a hose, I agree, but when it’s 5 F degrees in the morning you have to water with snow blowing up your nose, you are not thinking it’s too much. It’s thick, it’s short, it has never-fail brass fittings, it’s large-diameter. All good for using in very cold weather — it is a better quality rubber or vinyl or whatever so it bends a little bit even when brutally cold; it’s short, so it doesn’t take long to drain it over my shoulder, or wad it up, and put in my heated tack room for the next use. So far, so good. It’s lasted two winters so far.
5. My feed store.
They love me, and I love them. They always have the feed I need, and I’m never out if I can get there before they close. They load me up no matter where I want them to stash it in my little car (back seat usually), and half the time they have it in the car before I get my receipt in the store! They take all my coupons without question and always smile no matter how many dollars I have to count out in quarters on the counter.
6. Watching the horses run and play in the snow! That makes tipping over the wheelbarrow full of poop when you hit the buried cement block in the snowdrift all worth it.
Things I hate:
1. Cheap snaps. On anything – water buckets, lead ropes, stall gates, etc. I hate you, don’t come in my barn ever again. I have learned my lesson on cheap snaps.
2. Ice. Pretty much that’s it. I don’t know anyone in my world that LIKES ice except one person who is a world class figure skater. And I hate trying to get rid of it – walking on it – leading horses over it – looking at it messing up my walking paths around the barn. Products to use on it hurt the environment and are dangerous around animals so you have to use Mother Nature to get rid of it and right now, she’s not cooperating.
3. The back door of my barn. I’ve complained about this before, those who know me are aware of my ongoing battles with the frost heave at the end of the barn aisle that blocks that door from opening. If I had it to do over I would split the doors on my barn rather than have one big one. The back door essentially is closed as soon as it gets down to about 20 F degrees until basically the beginning of May or so. That means I have to go out, and around, to lead horses, feed hay, water, etc. for several months and it gets old. I’m ready to cut a hole in it. There. Take that!
4. Snowball footpacking. While it does keep the horses from getting too frisky (it’s hard to run in high heels) all the various products people have told me to paint on the hooves (hoof grease, spray Pam, Crisco, Corona ointment, silicone, etc.) don’t work after about 15 minutes. I know it’s hard on their legs, joints, and tendons and worry about them out in the snow when they get their feet packed. I’ve got a permanent crick in my back from bending over and picking out feet on every horse when they come in at night. While the barefoot horses do a little better, my Thoroughbreds all really have to have front shoes to keep their hooves together, and I’m not rich enough to get snowpads on all of them all winter. Who knew it would be like this in Delaware for months on end, anyhow?
5. Anything cold falling on my head. This includes snow, ice, blocks of anything frosty, bird poop, or hay bales. Inside or outside. I’m not providing details. Just know I hate cold stuff falling on my head!
6. Pictures of people riding in t-shirts someplace warm. Jealous much? YES. Yes, I am.
What’s your love-hate list for winter? Leave us your comments!