The Weather Outside is Frightful

I’ve been quiet over here lately. I’m more active on Instagram so if you want to see what the horses are up to, follow us over there. However, I can sum up what we’re up to in one word: nothing.

 

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At least it’s pretty… #winterishere #farmlife #vermontlife

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Snow hit early here and just hasn’t let up. While I knew we were moving to a place where it snows a lot, I wasn’t expecting to move just in time for the 5th most snowy November in Vermont history. Without an indoor arena, the snow basically put a halt to us doing anything other than shoveling money into the horses on one end and shoveling manure on the other.

 

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Levi’s just not as good at sliding in the snow as Eugene. #blmmustang #horselife #horsesofinstagram #winter #vermont

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The horses seem to have adjusted to their new lives. Eugene loves the snow. He’s always grown a huge winter coat so it’s liking he’s been prepping for this move his whole life. If the weather’s bad and we have to bring them in overnight, he just stands at his window and stares out of it. We’d leave him out, but Levi and Shasta would lose their damned minds if they were separated and they like coming in. Neither of them ever grew a great winter coat and they’re not as happy living out, even with blankets.

 

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Nilla’s with me; she’s sick of this snow already. #mulesofinstagram #horselife #farmlife #snowfordays

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Nilla has always grown the most ridiculous winter coat. She’s probably even overly prepared for Vermont, but she hates the snow. She spends all of her time in her run-in shed even if I put a sheet or blanket on her.

 

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Nilla is already over it. #mulesofinstagram #farmlife #vermont #winterishere #horselife

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My husband took Eugene out for a brief ride the other day. Eugene is sure-footed and has snow pads and studs, so he’s fine. He was super excited to get out and go too.

 

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Snow ride. #blmmustang #horsesofinstagram #horselife #horsebackriding #funinthesnow

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Sadly, Levi has been developing snow balls in his shoes despite snow pads so I didn’t want to take him out. That horse trips on himself regularly, the addition of snow is just overkill. He’s got his own ways of coping with the snow.

 

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Yummy #winterishere #vermont #blmmustang #horselife #horsesofinstagram

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That’s pretty much it that’s going on around here: snow, horses in the snow, staying inside to avoid the snow, trying to pick up manure in the snow, slipping on the snow turned to ice, snow, snow, snow. I do have a few DIY projects I’ve completed that I hope to post about soon if I can get some time to write them up.

If anyone has handy tips for managing horses in the snow, hit me up in the comments.

39 thoughts on “The Weather Outside is Frightful

  1. Nathalie

    Ride! If you set your trails early (through your property) the snow will pack and make the most glorious loop for w/t/c. Constant maintenance (aka riding) is required.

    Riding is the only way to endure the winter which has started early this year. I live a few hours north and ride 3-4 times a week. My horse is barefoot.

    Horses ball up when snow is humid. Grease those feet and go, but stay off slick surfaces if you are worried.

    Reply
      1. Nathalie

        Two alternatives. 1) there are different kinds of pads you can put (open, balled out, full, wedge, etc) that might work better for you. 2) walking is the worst for balling. Trot him out and watch the balls disappear. Not a comforting thought on a known tripper, but it works.

        Reply
    1. Olivia Post author

      That was a truly bad storm. The power was out in the area for days. Luckily we have a generator and we were fine, but it was a ton of snow.

      Reply
  2. Emily

    It could be worse? We’ve had nothing but MUD here for weeks. Like suck the shoes off mud.

    As for snow ball remedies – We always rubbed vaseline (or crisco) around the inside of the horseshoe and bottom of the foot to keep the snow from balling up. I think vaseline was easier to handle in the cold.

    Reply
    1. martidoll123

      yes I used to spray Pam on Remus soles of his feet in PA due to his ability to snowball EVEN with snow pads on. My horse the overachiever. That is a lot of snow though. So cute Nilla in her shed. I am with her too. I am glad you are settling in but sorry you were slammed with snow so soon. Thank goodness you moved when you did! LOL

      I miss your posts but follow you on IG so I still get my fix!

      Reply
      1. Olivia Post author

        I feel like none of these sprays or goops will really work. If Levi weren’t such a clutz, I’d be more willing to try them, but he’s not so good on good footing.

        Reply
  3. Nicole

    I’ll take your snow over our mud! Mud, mud, mud, mud is the name of the game for 85% of winter in Maryland. Mud when it’s warm, pokey frozen mud when it gets cold enough to freeze. Over it. You can’t ride safely in mud but you can ride in snow! I eagerly wait for our first snow so I can go to the barn STAT to ride in it. It’s also the best way to avoid SAD. I tend to get it really, really bad if I’m not getting outdoors for a few hours a couple of times a week.

    I’ve heard great things about Vaseline or Crisco in their shoes to keep ice balls from forming…that said, our first winter in MD Lily was shod with special shoes and I had zero success with those methods in keeping ice out of her shoes. 🙁 Pretty much everyone I know in the region that doesn’t compete in the wintertime leaves their horses barefoot in winter, myself included. No issues with ice balls forming in their hooves sans shoes.

    Reply
    1. Olivia Post author

      Sadly Levi’s medical issues (sidebone) don’t do well without shoes. If I pull his shoes to stop the balls, he may go sore from the lack of shoes.

      Reply
  4. Megan K

    ditto the above, I’d take snow over mud. I actually got to work my horse yesterday because there was a lovely little snow pack over the FOOT of mud we have.

    Share tips when you figure out how to get rid of the snow balls!!

    Reply
    1. Olivia Post author

      Oh we also have mud. It’s just under the snow. Sometimes my feet plunge down into it. This was a really weird storm in that it dumped a ton of snow, but the temps were high so the ground didn’t freeze.

      Reply
  5. Elizabeth

    Oh, this has been my entire life living here in Maine hahaha! 😉 My best plan of action is to try to ride 2-3 times a week minimum to keep my ring and trails clear. I also send my husband out on his snowmobile sometimes to “fix” the snow paths for me as needed! I don’t ride if it is super cold (generally under 15 degrees) or if there is a gross windchill. I always pull shoes and have the horses go barefoot all winter and don’t seem to have any issues at all with snowballs ever. I did borium and snow pads a few years for sleighing and it seemed to give my old mare worse build up. Going barefoot for the winter also gives their nail holes a chance to grow out. My best advice is to embrace it by riding as much as you can, investing in WARM riding clothing and boots, and remember that spring will arrive by May haha. 😉 We also do a lot of snow removal/moving with the truck plow and a John Deere tractor and we sand/salt the hell out of the ice in the barnyard and pathways to the pastures. I have Reynauds and really struggle with cold temps, but I have found that I have to just make the best of it! It makes me feel accomplished to make it to spring without committing homicide hahahahahaha (just kidding, sort of).

    Reply
    1. Olivia Post author

      We’ve got a snowblower on the tractor so we can clear the paths around the barns and to the dump. We had a bad storm of freezing rain last weekend though so all those paths turned into sheets of solid ice. It’s like there’s no winning here. I may pull Levi’s shoes, but his sidebone prefers to be shod. I don’t know how rideable he’ll be without shoes.

      Reply
  6. the_everything_pony

    OMG it’s so pretty! Those big, fluffy snowflakes look wonderful. Granted, that is coming from someone who lives where it is CERTAINLY not as cold here as it is for you. It looks lovely but also freezing lol. How are you and the hubby holding up with the cold? Is it a bit of a cold shock for you after living in California or is it not too bad yet? I’ve loved all of your insta posts – the horses are too funny! And Nilla always makes me laugh. I find it so funny that she hates the snow! lol

    Reply
    1. Olivia Post author

      I hate the cold. My husband likes it. I do have a heated coat that I spend a lot of time in. It’s about the only thing getting me through this.

      Reply
  7. WeAreOnTheLoose

    I went to college just north of you guys and worked as a barn hand at a Fjord and Dales farm. So many tips!
    1. Muck boots are your friend (especially if you slip those hand warmer packets in them if you’ll be riding or out for an hour+)
    2. Sleds-So useful so you don’t have to carry things and slip on ice you can’t see! Hay bales, tack, salt blocks, you name it.
    3. Not sure how your water is set up, but those insulated hoses are the bomb-and I hated them, cause even those had to be drained and hung up in an insulated room every.single. day.Tank heaters are worth their weight in gold, even if they break a lot (had one break & it resulted in a small colic when the water froze overnight, ugh!)
    4. Pam/Crisco/Cheap oil on the bottom of the hooves, I third that, works like a charm.
    5. General blanket stuff you probably already know-check at least every other day under the blanket, and just bring them in if it’s freezing rain+wind. Even with blankets on, those conditions can still lead to super cold ponies as the blankets and the rest of them get encrusted in ice. I went out one day and the fence lines were covered in almost 2 inches of ice!
    6. Winter is also a good time to teach them to drive, if they don’t already, and pull a tractor tire or try skijoring!

    Have fun settling in, February is when the winter blues really hit cause you haven’t seen the ground since October and you’ve still a month or more of winter to go! It’s a good time to take a trip down south or anywhere that doesn’t have snow, really.

    Reply
    1. Olivia Post author

      I really want to teach Nilla to drive. She got started in training with a driver, but never finished (he got injured and had to retire). I don’t know how to drive so I can’t teach her myself. I did contemplate sending her out for training, but it was a lot of money for full board and training.

      Reply
  8. Liz

    Go barefoot for the winter. The snow may pack in a little, but it will come out a lot easier after only a little build-up. And beyond that, ride lots! Snow riding is pretty magical. Get an Arctic Horse riding skirt to help stay warm – it’s been a huge game-changer for me..

    Reply
    1. Olivia Post author

      I may have to go barefoot for the winter, but Levi’s sidebone really doesn’t like being barefoot. I’m not sure which will be worse for him. I totally want one of those skirts, but man are they expensive.

      Reply
      1. Grey Flannel Horses

        Depends on where you are in Canada! Out in the prairies we’ve had snow off and on since the end of September, and after the 10 inches we got last weekend it’s probably here to stay. Not to mention the cold – We’ve already had many nights below 0 F. It’s going to be a very long winter.

        Reply
  9. emma

    at least, uh, they’re cleaner in the snow???? our world is mud so far and my horse is just…. nasty haha. that’s probably just cold comfort tho, sorry.. (too soon?!?)

    Reply
  10. jess

    Oh girl, I feel you. The winter we moved to our new place was the worst winter in decades. It felt impossible dealing with the snow and the ice and the long, long, wait for spring. I love all the comments with great ideas and would love to see you guys sleigh riding across those beautiful snowy pastures! I second Liz’s recommendation for an Arctic Horse skirt. I also own one of those helmet covers with the velcro fleece wraparound and it makes me look ridiculous but I do. not. care.

    Reply
  11. Cathryn Kozak

    Oof – that is A LOT of snow.

    I don’t have many helpful hints, but here are some, haha:

    1. Barefoot in the winter (I have tried pads, studs, rubber inserts, crisco, oil sprays, etc NOTHING keeps the snow from getting packed in).

    2. Tank heater – I usually position the trough next to the fence and run the extension cord through the fence so the horses can’t grab at it.

    3. Mashes with extra water – just be careful it isn’t below freezing because the mash WILL freeze in the bucket (ask me how I know). I make my mashes extra soupy when I can to promote extra drinking and that way I KNOW they are drinking.

    4. Check blankets every day – make sure the horse is warm. Completely undo and check horse’s condition under the blanket 1-2x a week to make sure they haven’t lost weight.

    5. Be wary of riding out on the roads unless they are CLEAR – hidden ice can cause slips and falls (ask me how I know).

    6. Hand walking is super beneficial to get the horse’s out!

    7. Extra hay – esp when it is cold. Horses burn a lot of calories shivering or just trying to keep warm. My guys are free fed, but back when I had to feed 2 meals a day I threw extra flakes on the bitterly cold days.

    8. Make sure your trailer is dug out and prepared for any emergency trips you may have to make (if your vet cannot come to your farm).

    9. Insulated hoses are great. If you don’t have one, undo the hose after every use and bring it into a heated tack room or inside to stay thawed!

    Good luck! Soon it’ll be Spring haha

    Reply
    1. Olivia Post author

      We don’t have electric down at the lower barn so we can’t do any of the heated water options. We are planning to put heated waterers into the main barn. Our eat beet pulp and we make it up super watery to get liquids into them as they otherwise have decided to abstain.

      Reply
  12. Julia

    Agree with all the get out & ride comments — it is the only thing that makes horsekeeping in a wintry climate tolerable. Other than shopping for houses in Aiken online! We moved to a place to keep our horses at home 5 years ago and promptly had 3x the snow we normally get in this area — half the indoors collapsed, a few barns collapsed, and I nearly lost my mind dragging food & water around on a sled. It sucked, but I’ve gotten way better at dealing with winter. The snowblower on your tractor is a great idea — makes a better surface for the horses (and humans) than plowing. Try to get a small dumptruck sized delivery of sand or stone dust or pea gravel to throw down on the ice to help it stay walkable. Keep dialing in your attire — for me, softshell ski pants, cheap ones from Amazon ($30) have made a huge difference in my willingness to be outside. Tall Muck Boots, a fake-fur lined trapper hat from Walmart help a ton. Also, you’re still acclimating back to the cold, so give yourself (and Nilla) some time. I moved to GA for 5 years and I swear it took 2-3 to adjust back to New England. Now I’m that nut in a t-shirt on 45 degree days. So, to sum it up, be patient, keep buying clothes and boots until you’re comfy, and know that you’ll be way better at it next year.

    Reply
    1. Olivia Post author

      I grew up on the east coast (Philly) and went to college in upstate NY. I remember riding in college in sub-0 degrees in a hoodie and being fine. I’ve never enjoyed the cold, but I am sure I’ll adjust back to it being more tolerable. In the meantime I have a heated coat.

      Reply
  13. Teresa

    You are right about Canada- I have very little snow here. But we are surrounded by ocean on 3/4 of the province so it tempers things a bit. The only thing to do with winter is figure out how to endure. Riding in snow is fun. If you can sew you can make your own skirt- it’s essentially a wrap around skirt in heavy fleece (which is expensive).

    Carmen is like Nilla. I have to put hay out in the field to get her to leave the barn. Even then she won’t go if it’s too bad.

    Warm boots are a must. Try snowshoeing. It’s fun too. It will take time to adapt to the cold but good quality layers are a must.

    Reply
  14. Delwyn Bennett

    You need the awesome riding skirt that inomniaparatus reviewed a while back…also #drivingislife find a carriage driving club and there will be someone there who can help you get Nilla going. If sge ground drives well you are 1/2 way there.

    Reply
  15. Stacey

    Try finding a pair of easy boots that will fit over his shoes for riding if you cannot find pads that work. They offer good traction in the snow (you can even add studs) and it is impossible for them to ball up. Good luck.

    Reply
  16. Stacie Seidman

    I cannot believe how much snow you guys have already gotten this year. It’s crazy! And really early. Last year all the ski mountains had to open really late.
    We had one snowfall last month, but fortunately it melted. It’s been unseasonably cold though. Hopefully this will all translate to an early spring? Maybe? Ugh, I really hope so. I have no tips. I just complain a lot until spring and mud come.

    Reply

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