Thursday, December 4, 2008

Blanketing my horse for the first time this winter

My horse was blanketed tonight for the first time so far this season.

Last year, I blanketed Panama anytime it got down to 20 degrees or colder, which was usually just overnight. (Only once or twice last winter was it that cold during the day.) However, last year Panama was also in a stall overnight, which meant that he was standing still with no room to move around and get warm. This year, Panama is in a pasture where he can be more active on cold nights, so I am blanketing him at 15 degrees and colder instead.

Unfortunately, Panama was behaving skittishly tonight. The property owner, who will be doing the blanketing for me, called me around 4:45 this afternoon to tell me that he couldn't catch Panama to blanket him. Apparently he first tried to walk right up to Panama with the blanket, and Panama freaked out and ran away — and continued running when Rick put the blanket away and tried to catch him with a halter.

So I drove down there to catch Panama and blanket him. He was definitely very jumpy — he shied away from me at first when I was trying to put on the halter, though a few stern words made him stop.

After haltering Panama, I tied him up and brought out a towel to dry him off — but the towel spooked him too! Never mind that he has seen towels plenty of times in the past. He pulled back hard on the lead rope, but I yelled at him to whoa and he quit. He was still a little jumpy after that, but I moved slowly and spoke encouragingly, and was able to rub him down with the towel.

Then I brought the blanket out. Panama seemed wary at first, but I let him sniff the blanket a lot, and did the same little dance of moving slowly closer until I was in position to put the blanket on. Ultimately he was okay with this too.

Once I got the blanket fastened and secure, I let Panama go back to his hay (it was just after feeding time). I gave him a few treats and left.

I'm not sure what made Panama so jumpy tonight. It could easily be the change in weather — after all, it dropped forty degrees in two days. It could also have been the fact that Rick approached him with the blanket first, or the fact that it was dusk (which seems to make horses more nervous, probably because they can't see as well). Whatever it is, I hope he is better next time Rick tries to blanket him!



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