Gimme Shelter

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Of course, no horse is comfortable in a freezing, wind-driven rain, which is why some genius invented Gore-Tex and we plop down big bucks for it. With the tremendous array of high-tech sheets and blankets now available to horse owners, you can protect your horse from almost anything nature throws at us. With tail covers, neck quilts and layers of breathable insulation, your horse is essentially carrying a barn on his back anyway.

You still always have the option of allowing your horse to go au natural, if you’re willing to bring him back into the barn on the few occasions when the run-in shed is not enough. But remember, they’re horses, not orchids.

And of course there’s always, ” I want to ride, but my horse is filthy.” True, especially in mud season, your horse will not be immaculately clean when you decide to work him as he might be when closed up in a stall. But are you just being lazy' A thorough grooming is good for the horse’s coat and skin, too.

Otherwise, a dirty horse rides just as well as a clean one. Sponge/brush off the tack areas, invest in a swimmer’s towel or a big chamois, place it under your regular saddle pad and you can even ride a soaking-wet horse, if necessary.

DIY Project.Building a run-in shed can be a simple weekend do-it-yourself project, and there are free plans and tips everywhere. If you’re not that handy, the current recession has also made this the perfect time to hire a professional pole-barn builder, who might provide a crew at a reduced price rather than lay them off.

Bottom Line.Not all horses live on a property where they have plenty of turnout. If yours does, make that field even more useful by putting up an inexpensive run-in shed. We’ll bet that when you turn your horse out again after a nice ride — and probably before you get the gate latched — he’ll drop down for a good spine-itching roll. See those feet in the air' That’s your best friend giving you the thumbs-up sign, and saying, ”Thank you for treating me like a horse.”

Beth Benard
Horse Journal Contributing Editor