If the title of this post sounds familiar to you, it should—it’s the title of a book written by Susan McBane and published in this country by the Lyons Press (2005). The book is a common-sense look at how to do all the usual horse chores when it gets cold outside—and to judge from Tuesday morning’s headlines, it is frigid outside! Living in California—even its inhospitable high desert—does have its advantages. Like many owners, Susan McBane—as well as William Healey, the guest blogger who discussed blanketing in my previous post—advocates blanketing horses in the winter. I do not, except under certain very specific circumstances.
Horses love to run, and one of the best things you can do for your horse every once in a while is—let him run. Whether you keep some control of him (a good idea, in most cases), or just turn him loose (galloping uphill is much safer because it allows you to take back control at any time), is between you and your horse. Do you think he’ll stop, or do you know he’ll stop? Since I knew Prim would always stop, I occasionally turned her loose, but only if we were going uphill, the footing was good (packed dirt can be as hard on your horse’s feet as concrete), and we were heading away from home. There’s no feeling quite like it in the world. Freedom, exhilaration, speed, and an almost electrical bond between two species who—for as long as the moment lasts—share the same goal: run as fast as you can.
With the economy in such bad shape, you might think this would also be a bad time to look for a horse. Actually it’s a good time. According to horse rescues and other humane groups, horses are being abandoned by their owners in record numbers. Other, more conscientious owners, are willing to give away their horses—particularly those older than ten or fifteen—to “good homes only,” or sell them for very little money. If you’re a first-time owner, especially if you have a steady income and were a horse-crazy teen, it might be the perfect time to buy a horse.