It’s pretty typical of this time of year where we live in southern Alberta, the seemingly manic changing of the seasons. September can feel like an extension of summer, like it did this year, or have us shivering in our fall coats and plowing through snowdrifts. And conditions can change in an instant and then back again just as quickly.
Sadly, our hair coats don’t respond in the same way. We aren’t like humans who check their favourite weather app and have a look at the thermometer before dressing for the outdoors. Our coats grow and shed in response to the shortening or lengthening of daylight so if we get extended summer temperatures we sweat it out and an early arrival of winter conditions has us huddling together in our shelter.
Don’t they make coats for horses you might be asking? Well, yes, they do. We call them blankets, rather than coats, maybe for the same reason the stuff covering our bodies is hair rather than fur, as I talked about in my last post. We horses just like to be different, or maybe it’s horse people that are different. They have to be, right? Out here looking after us in all kinds of weather and conditions—driving rain, blowing snow, Arctic wind chills, mosquito hordes. Perhaps “different” isn’t quite the right word.
Good for us they are crazy … oops, different … because it means we don’t have to suffer through the worst that Ma Nature throws at us without our support team bringing food and clothing and providing shelter. T was once confronted by an animal rights activist when she was working at an equine trade show, the person accusing her and her kind of keeping horses as slaves. Ha! If you spent any time at a horse place and watched the goings-on, you’d know who the slaves are. But don’t tell them—they might revolt. But, I digress…
So there we were this fall, our coats thickening for typical September and early October temperatures, but summer didn’t end. I got a little furrier every day, despite the warm weather, and had to make the long trek back and forth between our fall pasture and the waterer by the barn. And the flies! Man, they had a long run this year and seemed to intensify in the lingering summer temperatures.
And then, in the space of a week , we went from summer to fall to what felt like the depths of winter. From 20 degrees Celsius (68⁰F) on October 10th to 5 degrees (40⁰F) and a light snow on the 12th to temperatures that didn’t climb above freezing and dropped as low as -19C (-2⁰F) one night. We’re quite accustomed to blasts of northern wind and some snow at this time of year, but -19 plus a few degrees wind chill? No thank you. I’m pretty comfortable in any weather, as long as I’m dry, but even I found that cold.
Nevada and Gidget got blankets because of their age and Rosa because she’s still living in a solo recovery pen (more about her in my next post) and has nobody to huddle with. Me, well, if you’ve read my posts you’ll know that I don’t like blankets, never have. I’ll put up with one through a storm that roars in out of season, especially if it’s going to be a cold and wet one, but otherwise, I’m happy to be left au naturel, thanks.
By Monday this week we were above freezing again and on Tuesday into the high single and low double digits, much more normal for the time of year. Now this I’m dressed for!