Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snug in a Wug

It's been an interesting little phase of horse-ownership for me. A couple months ago some nasty ice-storms rolled through the area, wreaking havoc on all the pasture horses. Brian and I were in Chicago at the time, and I spent a very unhappy few days worrying about Steen getting his coat all wet and then freezing.

He made it through, as they always seem to, but one of my good barn buddies who boards her horse in the "feed lot" with Steen invested in a blanket, and my barn owner recommended I think about doing the same. Long story short, I explored the pros and cons of blanket ownership, assured myself we only have storms like that once or twice a winter, horses are better off when left in as natural a state as possible, and didn't buy one.

Last week we got another ice storm. Steen got wet and started shivering. I found myself getting a ride to the barn with my friend Gay (since I couldn't get my car out of our ally), her spare blanket in the back.

The entrance to the barn was frozen shut and given Steen's extremely nervous indoor-behavior lately, we decided it would be best to put the blanket on him outside. (The storm had passed by then, but another was on the way.) We confined Steen to one of the little pens where the feed-lot horses get their grain. At first he was scared of the blanket, then he was convinced he could not move because he was wearing a blanket, and finally he tried to run away from the blanket once we let him loose again. After a few laps around the pasture he cooled it, however, and stood still, his head coming down and his eyes beginning to droop a little with every breath.

Still, I needed to buy my own blanket. Cathi sings the praises of the Rambo Wug. I figured if I was going to buy Steen something to wear day in and day out, I might as well get him the best.

It arrived yesterday, and due to a string of rather coincidental and somewhat bizarre circumstances, I was unable to make it to the barn until after 5:00. I would have waited until this morning except a cold front was blowing in and temps were falling. The loaner blanket was older and though water-proof, I worried it wasn't warm enough. With the natural insulating value of his own coat destroyed from wearing the blanket, I wanted Steen in his wug.

Brian picked me up from the gallery the moment I got off work and we drove straight to the barn. We walked across an ice-rink to get to the pasture. The sun was setting, the wind was blowing, I had seven stitches in my leg and Brian had never touched a horse-blanket in his life. I had visions of Steen's pulling all his fidgety stunts and us succeeding in getting the old blanket off but failing to get the new one on.

I shouldn't have worried. Steen meet us at the gate, looking cute and cozy in the loaned duds. I put his halter on and led him to his feed-pen. I draped his rope over a tube and told him to stand. He did just that while we fumbled with the swap-out, our fingers going numb as we worked. And when I say still, I literally mean his hooves never left the ground. Even when Doc pulled the old blanket off the fence and it made strange noises and spooked Doc and Cal, Steen didn't budge. He'd turn his head to watch the proceedings, but he seemed to understand time was of the essence.

We got him all Wugged out as the last light faded from the sky. I gave him lots of praise and he ambled back into the pasture in his new get-up. I am a little astonished. The last four times I've been to the barn have been stressful and trying, with Steen refusing to keep his feet still for even a few seconds while I groom him. Yesterday made me remember why I love him.

I still don't know what I think about blanketing in general. I suppose, like most things involving horses, it's one of those "re-evaluate constantly" kinds of things.

Some tiny tiny photos of Steen in the old blanket:


  1. Yeah, "the great blanket debates". I guess you've probably heard my side before, but I kinda take it as it comes. I have blankets for the the horses and I use them when I think they're needed. This doesn't end up being often (only that once when Tranikla was sick since moving here), but it sounds like your weather has been worse than ours lately.

    I was actually pretty amazed at how fast my horses got used to blankets as well. The first time I ever put them on was a nightmare (and in the pouring rain!). This last time I did it without even haltering Tranikla.

    Why do you have stitches in your leg? Sounds like a story there.

  2. The stitches aren't nearly as interesting a story as they could be. I just had a something in my leg that was causing scar tissue to build up into an annoying bump, so they had to cut it out. Not fun, but not a huge deal, either.

  3. I have blanketed this year - first time in 10 yrs. I am sure it was more for me than for the horses. But I felt better. And I think they look cool in their blankets, too! :) Too cold to ride. May as well play dress-up with the horses! It's the girl in me!

  4. Hehe. I have to admit I think Steen looks pretty cute in his blanket. Just can't resist some impulses, I suppose...


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