Wednesday, 1 December 2010

What horses choose (illustrated with...SNOW PICS...!)

In this sort of weather, the horses at Rockley have free access to the tracks, barns and yards and they can choose exactly where they want to be and when.  There is ad lib haylage in all the shelters and ample feeders for all of them to get more than their fair share.  

Seasonally there are changes in how they live, but at the moment overnight they hardly set foot outside the barn - they were all still there when I fed them this morning and thats been the pattern for a while now, except when there is a really bright moon.  

As soon as it got light there was, as there usually is, a collective decision made to go out to the fields, even though the wind is north-easterly and even though it was snowing(!).   

On most days, they have brought themselves back onto the track by about 3pm so they seem to be very governed by light.  Its not just mealtimes, because if I am late in the morning they will go without waiting for breakfast!

Its fascinating to observe horses' preferences if they are able to express them.  Its not quite as simple (for my horses at least) as wanting to be out in the field all the time - that's not what they choose at all.  The weather plays a part, but thats not the whole story either.

Sometimes they want to be under cover, sometimes they want to be out looking at a view, sometimes they want somewhere comfortable to lie down and go to sleep, sometimes they want lots of space to gallop about in.    The constants are that they like to be able to eat, wherever they are; they like to be able to move around, wherever they are, and they like company, wherever they are.    Even in a big field, they will tend to be grouped together and its the same when they are on the track or in the yards.

There is a very natural human tendency to want to contain horses - in bad weather we like to have bolt-hole which we can snuggle up in, and we assume that horses feel the same - the horses here agreed with that last night, but not this morning :-)

Of course box-rest is a whole 'nother question, and I'll post about that shortly - and yes, I imagine it WILL be illustrated with more snow pics :-)


Lucie said...

I love the fact they can decide where they want to go and when :) Soli will be in for a shock when he comes home!!

Nic Barker said...

Yes, Soli is a great believer in freedom of choice, isn't he ;-)

Unknown said...

I think Kingsley will be quite sad to leave too, sounds like he has made some great friends in the herd.
Photos look stunning, it seems notorious of nature to look so beautiful and yet be so damn incovinient!

Oh, btw, I was teaching yesterday on about half an inch of snow. I had 7 horses in total over 7 hours as all private lessons. The barefoot ones worked as if nothing happened. We even cantered and basically worked as normal.
The shod ones were a disaster - snow balling up and causing them to trip constantly.
One pony, that for some reason is shod on all fours, almost fell over in the first trot so we ended up trip-walking for the rest of the time.


Hope you're keeping warm :)

Nic Barker said...

OLO Wiola - absolutely! Glad the barefoot horses kept going - they are loving it down here, I must say :-) I have kept very warm this morning thanks to the snow and Andy's desire to be intrpid(!) - took some great pics which will be on the blog tomorrow!