The forecast has been stirring for a while now and apparently, we’re in for another ice age. Just as they said we would be last year, the year before that and quite possibly, every other year before that. I’ve done my utmost to avoid social media as I can’t quite bring myself to have to sift through the onslaught of panicked posts asking how to rug their horse, what should they do in the snow, knowing full well that it’s never as bad as what they say.
I’m fast becoming a far more natural horse owner and over the last few years have seen some amazing benefits leaving my horses unrugged. The two welshes are still portly and my big lad, the Clydesdale cross is looking fantastic. Their coats are at least two inches thick. In fact, the two young warmbloods have grown incredibly thick coats and with their now never-ending supply of haylage in the field, are looking superb. I leave their stable doors open and allow for them to wander in and out as they please and do you know what? 90% of the time, they choose to be outside.
What riles me more is probably the fact that the media make us break into sheer panic. I don’t understand the necessity. Surely there are far more exciting things to discuss, such as our impending BREXIT or worse still, our NHS, public services, a good deed that a local person in our community has done? Instead, we’re plagued with pictures of cars stuck on the side of the motorway in inches deep snow leaving us stock piling the logs for the fire, panic shopping at Tesco and of course, jumping onto social media and asking how everyone else is choosing to rug their horse.
What I have learnt, is that no matter how hard you try, there will always be someone complaining about what you’re doing. On one hand, I’m often commended for the natural approach, especially with my youngsters. On the other hand, I’m considered heartless for leaving them rug-free and not having them all in heavy weights. One person thinks I should be feeding them more while another compliments the fact that I’m allowing them to lose a healthy amount of weight, ready for spring.
I saw an article on the Horse & Hound website just yesterday. It spoke about the obesity epidemic plaguing the horse world and it said something that really struck a chord, “As a rule, you’ll get more criticism on a livery yard if you can see ribs than if your horse is overweight.” Is that not madness? Perhaps what bothered me more was that not only is the equine world filled with soooo much criticism but that we’re so bothered by it, it almost seems that we’re putting out horses welfare at risk just to ensure we’re at the lesser end of the critique scale.
My horses will lose weight this winter and they’ll be heading into spring with a few ribs showing. Just how they should be! Don’t like it? Ask your vet or better still, keep your criticism to yourself. Until then, batten down the hatches guys and prepare for the inevitable Ice Age…again.