There is a lot to be said about wintertime — it’s cold, driving can be a challenge, sledding is fun, ice skating is more fun, and snow angels are the best. But, when you have animals in below-freezing temperatures, the challenge is more real. To be responsible for an animal that is outside in the elements is a daily chore to provide adequate comfort and warmth.
Mac, my gray quarter horse gelding, is an amazing animal. He is kind, considerate, and always willing. Zubedia, my paint mare, is just as amazing. She is happy, content, and ready for anything. Mac and Zubedia are trail buddies, happy to have their stalls close together and upset if they can’t see one another.
I am picky about what I feed my horses. They get the best, high-quality grain, exceptional hay (part alfalfa and meadow grass), are free to come in and out of the barn at all times, with access to rolling pasture and fresh well water. They are loved and receive the very best care.
Several weeks ago, on the coldest day of winter so far, I was putting new bags of grain in the feed bin. The rattle of the feed bags was more than Mac could take. I made the error of not feeding the horses before taking the time unload the new feed. Mac went into a feeding frenzy. The horses were in the corral, waiting to come in.
If you are savvy with animals, you know that you don’t mess with animals and their supper — especially when the temperature is below freezing and it’s all you can do to keep moving to stay warm. In an instance, Mac attacked Zubebia, bitting her on the chest. He nipped her enough to remove the hide, but the skin did not break — no blood, just a raw 3-inch square of hairless hide.
Mac, who is normally collected and calm, was hungry. So hungry, he thought Zubedia would get her grain before he did, so he went to great lengths to make sure that I fed him first. And I did. He got my attention. After a “What did you do, Mac?” chastising, I placed grain in his stall and he enjoyed every mouthful. Then Zubedia came into her stall and I saw her wound, and thought Wow. It was so cold that I knew any ointment would freeze. After talking with my veterinarian, we decided to leave the wound open to the air for several days, and then apply medicinal ointment (Corona is my choice).
Now, several weeks later, Zubedia’s scab has fallen off and she is fine. Her feelings are a little hurt from the incident; she is shy of Mac now and doesn’t get in the way when it’s suppertime.
The picture above was taken before Mac bit Zubedia. I suppose she loved him then, and I suppose she loves him still. They are valentines.
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