Friday, June 4, 2010

Clothes horses

With the recent days being sunny and mild but the nights clear and frosty, the horses have been changing their clothes like... well... clothes. Actually we have been changing their rugs for them. Sometimes this means fiddling about with acres of canvas and muddy buckles in the dark, but it has to be done. They are adept at getting out of their rugs when they wish, not so good at putting them on. Sometimes horses shedding rugs of their own accord results in buckles getting bent, straps broken or snaps snapped.

If it's Kalara however she can wriggle out of a fully surcingled winter rug and leave it lying unharmed in the paddock, buckles and straps all still done up complete and intact. We never see her disrobing and she always looks all innocence, blankly gazing about, kicking stones and whistling idly so we don't really know how she does it. She has learned this trick over the years because she couldn't always get clear of her clothes without being detected. Before we lived here I agisted her near a main road and several times kindly motorists called in to the house concerned about the little white horse with something tangled round her legs. To her credit she never panicked when she couldn't kick the rug clear. It was always intact and she was always found standing quietly, uninjured, patiently waiting for someone to release her.

Not so Princess, however, who can shred a rug to ribbons at 50 paces just by glaring at it. Part of the problem with horses trying to get their gear off is due to them getting too hot and/or itchy. Understandable then that they'd try to shed the source of the discomfort so we try to avoid this by dressing them appropriately for the weather. This is why they have accumulated waterproof canvas rugs for wet or rainy weather (light and heavy weights to cater for fog, damp, mist, rain and storms) quilted stable or under-rugs for cold weather (several of each for each horse, different weights), cotton sheets for sunny days when the ground is still wet and muddy (keeps the mud off their hair when they roll) and fly veils to attach to to their headstalls on hot, fly-ridden days. More clothes, in fact, than I have.

During the sunny days the rugs in use are hung on the gate, not the best practice due to the UV light breaking down the synthetic materials, but easier than constantly carting them all back and forth to the shed. Unfortunately this also facilitates their horsey use as serviettes for chaffy lips.