I may be the only person in the entire state, but I really kind of enjoy Texas’ winter storms. I’m also amongst a very privileged minority who have been blessed with no power outages during winter storms in the nearly 16 years we have lived at our property. Yes, I count my blessings after each storm.
Why do I like these awful storms? People in western cultures are exceptionally terrible at stopping. Stopping to “smell the roses” or just take a break and Boot City and I are no exception to this “busy-ness”. Winter storms force us to stop and focus on the little things like food, shelter and water for ourselves and the lives we take care of on our little farm. We have to haul water (the barn pipes freeze when it gets below freezing for more than half a day), haul hay, feed, clean stalls, repeat for however long the cold snap remains.
As I type this my whole body is sore. My arms. My neck. My hands. My knees. All the parts, but there is a satisfaction that comes, at least for me, from the aches that come from real hard work. I absolutely love having my horses at home. I can’t imagine not being in control of every single facet of their lives and know all their idiosyncrasies, and ailments and their favorite scratches. etc. I also know how they react to winter weather. Coco gets cold when it’s below 40F. Jaguar gets cold a lot easier in his old age than he did 5 years ago. Simon is fine in the cold, but he’s always on the thin side so I blanket him to try to prevent him losing calories from keeping himself warm. Gene is a sturdy island pony, so he’s warm unless he’s wet or in the wind. Pablo is the lowest on the pecking order and won’t stand for wearing a blanket, so I have to be sure he’s somewhere he can get away from wind and weather.
Fortunately, everyone fared well in this storm. I opted to turn my horses out every day for at least a few hours. Only Simon has shoes and unshod horses tend to have better grip on slick footing (unless they have special shoes) and they all were fine. I find it is better or their mental and digestive health to get some time to move around even in bad weather. They ran and bucked and kicked and played, even Jaguar! But they were all ready to go back to their stalls when the sun started to climb behind the hill at sunset.
The winter storms always feel like a season reset on the farm and for that I’m grateful. The weather in Texas will warm up now and all chances for snow and ice appear to be gone until next winter. I’ve already started preparing the heavy blankets for summer storage and planning the spring cleaning in the barn. Coco and I are headed to a horse show this week (YAY!) and will hit the ground running for spring cleaning after our return.
I’ve been remiss about posting in general, but ESPECIALLY about Gene! My last Gene update was in September 2020. While a lot has changed, not a ton has changed. You see, I don’t like to push baby horses (or in this case, ponies) too hard. Gene was weaned at the wee age of 3 months, so I wanted him to have lots of time to just be a baby pony. No training. No lessons. No pressure. Just be healthy and grow and learn from his pasture mates.
His travel buddy and temporary roomy stayed with us for about a week and then headed to her new home in Oklahoma. I wanted Gene to have a solid 2 weeks of zero nose to nose interaction with my horses, so after Nina left he had a week just by himself and he did great! But he was SO excited when he could finally touch noses with the big horses!
Gene’s first nose touch with Simon. SO CUTE!
When his quarantine ended I kept him by himself in a stall with a run so he could interact with his neighbours, but not be in danger of getting kicked or cornered or anything. Once I felt like he was comfortable with the big horses I moved him to the paddock with Jaguar (my 27yo QH). I know I can trust Jaguar with youngsters and he won’t be a bully. I also put my older pony Samson in with them just because he seemed to feel left out.
Gene easily transitioned to the paddock and a few weeks later started going in pasture turnout with Jaguar. I knew he would run around a lot the first time out, so it needed to be safely and without big horse shenanigans. As always, Jaguar was Mr. Perfect. He appropriately put Gene is his place when necessary, but allowed plenty of sillies to get worked out. It wasn’t too long before I felt that Gene was ready for full turnout with all the horses, pony and donkey. My horse pasture us about 7 acres, so they have plenty of room to run and play without getting into bad situations (however, they still get into trouble plenty. I’m looking at you SIMON).
Just before Thanksgiving Gene had his “brain surgery”, which to horse people means he got gelded. My vet came over to do the procedure and it went perfectly. He came out of sedation faster than we expected and had to be kept off his feet for another 15 minutes, but he healed easily and was back in turnout within 24 hours! Horses do best after gelding if they can walk around. This keeps the swelling down. Being with the other horses assured that he would move around more than he might left alone in a paddock. I worked from home and it was a holiday week so we had someone home with eyes on him all day for enough days that we knew we were out of the woods as far as having complications.
Poor little guy is a bit drunk and had a mishap trying to stand!
Gene has also had a couple farrier visits. My farrier has been wonderful with him. Incredibly patient and he makes sure Gene always has a good experience and is never frightened. Gene has great feet and our ground is rather rocky, so they haven’t been a problem. Not being pressed to get them “done” has helped a lot.
Gene was born in early May on Assateague Island, so I don’t think he ever experienced winter as a foal. Texas made sure to serve up some REAL winter in early February. We were incredibly fortunate and never lost water or power. I had plenty of blankets for all the horses and ponies so no one got cold. They got turnout every day and played in the snow. All these experiences where they have to get blanketed and led and what not are so good for the babies. He saw all his buddies get blankets and was a very good boy when he got his on for the first time. They were all ecstatic to have them removed the next week, though. Lots and lots of rolling because blankets are itchy!
I think he looks adorable in his cute blue blanket!
Gene will turn a year old in just a few short weeks! Once he hits his first birthday we will start Charm School. He will begin to work on being a real pony; leading, standing tied, getting in a trailer and eventually going to some little horse shows. He really reminds me a lot of Jaguar at the same age. A little punchy, learns quickly, not easily scared, and has a good general sense of himself. I really think this is going to be a very nice pony who we will enjoy having for many years to come!
And he gives to best kisses!